About writing. And reading. And being published. Or not published. On working on being published. Tangents into the pop culture world to come. Especially about movies. And comic books. And movies from comic books.
Thursday, December 31, 2020
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Soul (a movie review post)
The first thing I'm going to say is how... wonderful... yes, wonderful, it is to have a movie "about" jazz that isn't made by fucking Damien Chazelle. There's nothing in this about how the white savior man is going to save jazz from... I don't know. It was never really clear what Chazelle thought he was saving jazz from. Itself, probably, since Chazelle seems to believe that jazz was made for the white man, and it can't be trusted in the hands of the people who invented it.
This movie isn't really about jazz and doesn't have a whole lot of jazz in it. Which is fine, because I'm not much of a jazz fan. I don't hate it or anything, but it's not something I'm just going to turn on if I feel like some music. In fact, the movie isn't about music at all. It's about dreams. Life dreams, not the ones you have when you're asleep and forget promptly when you wake up. Or, maybe, it's about inspiration. That's the word, or a word, they use in the movie.
But that's not really right, either. The movie is about living your life and not just... drifting through it. It's about not letting fear get in the way of pursuing the things that spark you. From a casual distance, it's a beautiful movie. It has some endearing and some poignant moments.
It also has some issues, which I will try to point out without being spoilery.
Joe is a musician, a jazz musician. He's been chasing that lucky break all his life. His mother wants him to get a real job. A permanent one. Not that he doesn't work. He teaches music, but he's not, evidently, a permanent teacher or anything like that. The conflict at the opening of the movie is that he's been offered a permanent teaching position, and he's torn over whether to accept it or not because, for some reason, if he acceptd a position as a music teacher he'll have to, for whatever reason, no longer accept gigs playing in clubs and bars. Um... The dude's not married and has no kids. This is an artificial conflict. Do I give up on my dream of being a "musician" by taking the teaching job or not?
There is also the subtle implication that Joe has not been adequately pursuing his dream because he hasn't been successful at becoming a "musician." There are scenes of him doing other life stuff, like watching TV and doing laundry, which are there to suggest that these are times when Joe was failing to pursue his calling. What the fuck is that about? No one can spend 24/7 doing one thing and one thing only. That he has not "made it" is not because he has not adequately pursued his dream.
And there is the complete dismissal of the importance Joe has played in the lives of the students he's taught and their own inspiration toward music because of him. It's like those things, though important, do not actually matter because those things have come at the expense of Joe's own success. Or something like that.
Maybe I'm being too harsh, but I don't really think these are good messages to be handing out. Not that I think these are messages that are really intended, but the framework of the movie delivers them anyway. If you are not famous and "successful," you have failed your dream. You have failed to pursue it adequately. It's our cultural belief, and it's ingrained in the movie, which is too bad, because there could have been a deeper message.
All of which may sound like I didn't like the movie, which would be incorrect. It's one of the top three Pixar movies of the past decade, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It came close to bringing tears to my eyes. I would gladly watch it again. And I might, since it's streaming on Disney+. None of which changes the fact that I wish that Docter had gone just a little bit further with the movie and not relied so heavily on our societal views of achievement and success. It's a really good movie, just not a great one.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
Monday, December 28, 2020
The Monsters Without: Chapter 3.3
[I strongly suggest that you go back and read the earlier parts if you haven't done that before.]
He jerked with surprise and looked around to find a tall, gangly kid looking over his shoulder. Gangly in the way that only too-tall white boys can be gangly, like their arms and legs are poorly attached with overly large joints. The boy was at least a foot taller than him, and he found himself looking up the kid’s nostrils rather than being able to see his face.
“Also, you don’t have enough money.” He said it matter-of-factly, in the same way you might say to someone, “This is my car.” Jeremiah wanted to say something sarcastic back, but his brain froze, and he just stared instead, though he did take a step away from the boy as he turned toward him, both so that he could actually see the kid’s face and because he was feeling crowded by the towering poles of arms and legs.
“Freshman, huh?” This, he said as a question, though it was clear he was stating a fact and not asking. The boys face was bony, too, as if he had over-sized joints in his cheeks, too -- not just his jawbones -- to match his elbows. The kid brushed his shaggy brown hair away from his brown eyes and added, “You’re very talkative.”
Jeremiah looked back down into his palm, which was still out with the three quarters in it, then looked back up and said, “I’m sorry. I just…” He trailed off as he shoved the quarters into his pocket.
The tall boy squinted at him, “Are you from out of state? What’s your name…?”
“Out of state?” The question confused Jeremiah. “No… Why would you think that?”
“You don’t really seem to know what you’re doing.”
“Well… I am a freshman.”
“Fair, but you seem a little more lost than most freshmen.” The kid gave him what felt like a piercing stare, “What did you say your name is?”
He suddenly felt uneasy, as if he were being interrogated, and felt like he shouldn’t tell the boy his name. In his head, he knew he was being paranoid and there was no good reason not to tell the kid, but his emotions were telling him to be paranoid. His experience told him that, mostly, you couldn’t trust people. “I didn’t say what my name is…”
The older boy gave his eyes a half roll and rattled his head slightly, just enough to convey exasperation without looking it. “Look, kid, I’m just trying to help you out. Most of us have been out of sorts at some point, and…,” he paused and dug around in his pocket, “…I just didn’t want you to feel like you didn’t have any friends. Or couldn’t have any friends.” He held out his clenched hand.
Jeremiah felt bad about being so suspicious, but he wasn’t used to people being nice to him, not without any reason, at any rate. Forcing himself to hold out his hand, the boy dropped two $1 bills into his hand. Jeremiah stared at the money a moment then said, “You don’t have to…”
“I know I don’t have to, but you seem like you need a friend or, at least, someone to help you out, and I’m just going to buy sodas with it, so I don’t really need it.”
The next bus pulled up, and the boy moved toward the door along with the new crowd of kids who had shown up while they were talking. Jeremiah hurried to catch up so as not to get left behind again. He fed the money into the machine at the top of the stairs and automatically looked to see where the tall kid had gone, which was toward the back of the bus, already joking and talking with some other guys, so Jeremiah dropped into the seat by the window behind the bus driver, usually the last seat anyone wanted to take, though he didn’t know that.
Staring vaguely out the window, he didn’t even glance over when someone sat down next to him, then the bus pulled away.
Sunday, December 27, 2020
Saturday, December 26, 2020
Friday, December 25, 2020
Thursday, December 24, 2020
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Monday, December 21, 2020
Swept Clean (pictures I like)
If you look closely, you can see the lighter streaks of sand in the picture. That is actually sand that is blowing in the wind. Long streaks of it that came up to around our (my wife and I) knees. It was really cool to watch and made an... interesting... noise.
Life on the windy shores of California.
Sunday, December 20, 2020
Cocktail Sundays: Hondo Ohnaka's Asteroid Belt
Wait, does this make me like one of those cooking bloggers who writes 10,000 words before telling you that it should only take you three minutes to sauté some onions? Hint: it takes much longer than three minutes to sauté onions.
Saturday, December 19, 2020
Friday, December 18, 2020
We Are Not Amazon and Living Up To Unreasonable Expectations
I have a lot of collectibles. A garage full, in fact, which is something I've mentioned in the past. In an effort to divest myself of said collectibles, I've been selling things on eBay. This is mostly fine other than the part where it's really slow.
And the part where I sometimes have to actually deal with people.
People who are mostly trying to convince me that my prices are too high.
For instance, because this is a fun one:
I've been selling some cards from the Harry Potter tcg recently. I listed this card:
And before I go on, sure, shipping and shipping charges suck. I get it. I do everything I can, personally, to order from places that offer free shipping or to order enough to meet the minimums for free shipping. The big companies that can offer that kind of thing are just that: big companies, big enough to make deals with the USPS to cut their shipping costs so that they can afford it. Even eBay has a deal with USPS to cut their sellers' shipping costs if we run our shipping through eBay, and that has to be good for eBay because I'm sure their discount is greater than what they pass on to us, which means they're making money from both ends of that deal.
Look, on the other hand, only so much of the shipping is under my control, and part of the problem this guy ran into is that I use eBay's Global Shipping Program for international orders so that I only have to mail the items to eBay and eBay takes care of the shipping charges with the buyer. And I guess that service isn't cheap? I don't really know, because I can't see what eBay charges, but the guy in France flipped out over what eBay was going to charge him, all of which could have been avoided if he'd listened to me before the auctions closed when I tried to tell him about how eBay would handle it. (He told me I didn't know what I was talking about, that shipping should be no more than x amount and he was sure eBay would handle it just fine. eBay wanted to charge him 30x, as I tried to warn him, and, well, I already said the rest. I spent a week of going around and around with the guy so that he could finally get what he paid for shipping down to only 2x.)
Thursday, December 17, 2020
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Monday, December 14, 2020
Seven Pillars of Wisdom (a book review post)
Sunday, December 13, 2020
Cocktail Sundays: Hondo Ohnaka's Space Punch
cocktail post), but it's winter so the lighting in my house is shit. No, wait, the lighting in my house is shit but, during the summer, enough light comes in through the skylight for me to be able to take pictures in my dim little cave. During the winter, though... well, it's dim in here all the time. Basically, I haven't been able to take photos, so I have been reluctant to do anymore cocktail posts.
Saturday, December 12, 2020
Friday, December 11, 2020
Thursday, December 10, 2020
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Tuesday, December 8, 2020
Monday, December 7, 2020
Sunday, December 6, 2020
Saturday, December 5, 2020
Friday, December 4, 2020
Thursday, December 3, 2020
Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Tuesday, December 1, 2020
Monday, November 30, 2020
Sunday, November 29, 2020
Saturday, November 28, 2020
Friday, November 27, 2020
Thursday, November 26, 2020
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
Monday, November 23, 2020
Sunday, November 22, 2020
Saturday, November 21, 2020
Friday, November 20, 2020
The Monsters Without: Chapter 3.2
And he wasn’t going to know anyone at this new school, Carver High, phone or no phone.
He walked slowly to the bus stop that first morning. Because, according to his mother, high school was old enough to ride the city bus alone. But, really, it was because the school was close enough for the bus to be convenient whereas the Stones would have required a three hour trip on the bus in the afternoon and wasn’t even available in the mornings because the bus wasn’t running at 4:00am.
He’d never been on a bus before except one time in first grade on a field trip, but that had been a school bus full of people he knew. This was… different. He hung around the outskirts of the crowd of students waiting for the bus when he got to the bus stop. There were so many of them, and he didn’t know how to fit in, so he just orbited the mass of teenagers as if he were an asteroid trying to decide whether to become a moon or go flying back out into space. He was leaning toward flying back off into space.
Most of them were showing each other videos on their phones, though there were a couple who were making first-day-of-school videos or something. Kids taking selfies together after not seeing each other all summer. He felt cold and alone, outside of all the camaraderie he was witnessing.
Then the bus pulled up, and everyone was filing into the bus, sliding their bus cards through the swiper. All he had was a handful of change and, when he looked, it wasn’t even enough. Evidently, his mother gave him money based on how much she remembered the bus being not because she’d looked up the cost. If he pooled the change he had for both trips, he could get to school, but he wouldn’t have enough money to get home.
While he was staring at the quarters in the palm of his hand, the door to the bus closed, it hissed that noise that only buses make, and drove away, leaving him and a few other kids behind. He looked up in bewilderment, still unsure of what to do about any of this.
A voice said close to his ear, “It was full.”