Quick Update

Just a few more days of fun, family, and sun in the great mid-west of these United States, and then it’s back to the salt mines in the great Pacific Islands of these United States.  Looking forward to getting back to work – that’s a good sign. 

If you wanted to keep up with my thoughts on the RNC, DNC, and to watch me poke fun of one of the DNC’s loay undercover operatives, Chuck Todd, check me out on Twitter: @NotJonMollison.  It’s a hoot.

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Coming Soon: It Takes A Man to Raze a Village

Karl Barber returns to action as a one-man army.  Sometimes a good man who doesn’t care what the world thinks can do more good than a standing army hampered by international politics.  In this story, Karl wastes no time in tracking down a village full of girls taken by religious fanatics eager to prove that their god is greater.  If proving that means the fanatics come away with plenty of child brides sex slaves, so much the better for them.

Until Karl shows up, that is.

Once again, this adventure novelette clocks in at roughly 10,000 words and costs less than a buck.  That’s less than 100 words per penny – what a bargain!

This story has been languishing for a week while your humble blogger has been fulfilling family obligations in what purports to be a vacation.  With no access to a real computer, there’s been a dearth of work and posts here – with the fun of the twin political conventions, it’s been a bad week to be out of contact – but starting this weekend, things will start to pick up again.

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Ghostbusters: The Variable Definition of ‘Flop’

Image result for ghostbustersWith a production budget of $144 million, and a marketing budget of $100 million, the financial backers of the Ghostbustettes movie are on the hook for almost a quarter of a billion dollars.  That kind of heavy budget is used for tentpole movies – the big summer guaranteed moneymakers that keep a studio’s finances in the black and produce enough profit to support the production of the studio’s smaller movies.  Those smaller movies are low cost bets with the potential for higher returns.  Movies like Ghostbusters, which cost $30 million and made $230 million at the box office.
These days tentpole movies that just barely make back their budget are considered failures in that, while the studio didn’t lose money on them, they didn’t turn enough profit to pay for other productions.  Some examples of money-making ‘flops’ that you may remember are Green Lantern (which made $20 million against a $200 million budget), John Carter ($34 million on a $250 million budget), and Lone Ranger ($45 million at a cost of $215 million).  These movies were all widely panned as failures, but unlike Ghostbusterinas, they didn’t carry with them the protective armor as defender of the Narrative.
The projected opening weekend box office for Ghostbusters: the 2016ing is around $50 million, which bodes well for the movie as the projected final take of a movie is generally around four times that of the opening weekend.  Good movies tend to outperform that 4x metric, and bad one underperform.  If this movie is at least average, it’s looking at making around $50 million off of a $150 million production budget, which should push it just barely past the ranks of money-making flops like Guardians of the Galaxy.
Where it gets really interesting is that Hollywood is an industry that thrives on perception, and whether a movie is considered successful or not depends in large part on how well it does against expectations.  Most of those lucrative flops failed to meet their expectations.  The controversy surrounding the all-girl Ghostbusters makes it hard to identify what its expectations really were.  The massive YouTube backlash indicated that the public hated the movie, and this might be a sign of low expectations for the movie. 
The secular moral crusaders had high hopes for the movie, sure, but we’re talking about cold hard numbers here – the bean counters likely read the YouTube comment tea leaves and adjusted their expectations downwards accordingly.  The constant (and justified) attacks on this soft reboot movie might actually have helped push it from ‘should have made more, what a mistake’ to ‘I told you the world was ready for an all-girl blockbuster’.  It didn’t actually bust any blocks, but it just doesn’t have to.
How appropriate that the female version of a movie doesn’t have to succeed based on cold hard rationality, but skates into success because it ‘feels’ successful.

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From the, “Hey! That’s Our Trick” Files

Forward.com, one of the left’s frontline soldiers in the culture war – and one dedicated to scaring Americans of Jewish faith away from those super scary Republicans, recently sperged out a primer on the AltRight, or alt-right, or however you want to spell it.

If you’ll permit a bit of a digression, the term “Alt-Right” gets used in multiple ways across the alt-right-o-sphere, and nobody within the alt-right much cares.  It doesn’t matter.  They all know what you mean.  Contrast that with the SPLC’s desperate need to dictate what words mean and what words are not acceptable.  The old biddies of all ages and stripes that kneel at the knees of the SPLC have a burning need to use the correct words, to signal their allegiance to the Narrative, to fit in, and be accepted.  They are like the Try Hard guy in his mid-20s hanging out with college freshman girls, and trying to look cool by using the right slang and referencing the right music groups, but fail because everything they try is filtered through one or more media outlets, while the freshmen are getting their slang and music direct from the culture itself.

Getting back to Forward.com’s attempt keep the clueless pearl-clutchers informed of the dastardly things the alt-right is up to, the article lists seven terms that they feel help explain the alt-right.  They explicitly call words used within the AltRight culture “false terms” and “misleading”.  

That’s an interesting thing to say to a culture.  This is yet another example of the left attempting to don the mantle of final arbiter of what terms are correct and accurate for usage within a culture not their own.  They have seen the effectiveness of terms such as “human biodiversity” and “identitarian” and recognized that these terms might just influence the squishy residents of the middle-ground in ways not of the left’s liking.  And so they engage in explicitly Orwellian behavior.  As George Orwell noted decades ago, “control the language, control the people”.

They had a good run with that tactic, controlling the debate by controlling the language, but the advent of social media has cost them their place in the ranks of the Language Police.  Their word may still carry some weight on the coasts, but out here in the wild and woolly internet frontier?  You might as well expect a Frenchman to look to Miriam-Websters for the proper usage of Le Frog-Speak.

Internet culture owes them no fealty.  It pays them no mind.  It grows organically and is insulated from their influence by the liberty and freedom allowed by the free association that men can finally, and once again, practice.  Their sycophants, and the rabbits driven by herd mentality, will surely take note of the admonishment not to use the language of the alt-right.  But the alt-right truly and honestly doesn’t care what they think.

What’s even better is that given a choice between the stodgy and cringing “won’t you please like me?” stance of Forward.com (and others of that ilk like the execrable SPLC), and the self-assured confidence and cheeky irreverence of the alt-right, there’s no question which attitude will have more appeal for rebellious youth.

And that’s got to scare the left more than anything.  They’ve been counting on the right dying off for so long, that they completely forgot that the more the left captures control over what is deemed acceptable thought and deed, and the more tempting it will be for youth looking for a means of rebellion to turn their backs on the left and look for alternatives.

Like the alternative-right.

Come on in, kids, the water’s fun.

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Cleveland Rocks and Bottles and Bricks


Can you feel it?  Can you feel the held breath by the media, the pundits, and those of us in the cheap seats, as the Republican National Convention approaches?   Dallas was just a warm-up, every angry mob and rent-a-mob is warming up their throwing arms and sharpening the ends of their placard sticks, preparing to cause a major scene on the streets of Cleveland.  You know, to make Donald Trump look bad.
Meet Calvin D. Williams, the City of Cleveland’s Chief of Police. You’re probably going to be seeing him on the news quite a bit in the coming week or so. 

The good news for Mr. Williams is that the eyes of the world will be on his city.  Politicians love that, and let’s face it, the Chief of Police does a lot more politicking than policing.  The bad news is that the leftists in the media (as though there was anyone else in the media) have spent the last decade whipping up the mobs and pointing them at the kulaks wearing badges and hats with elephants on them.  The really bad news for Calvin is that the usual suspects are better funded and have more time to prepare than usual.

The other good news for Calvin is that Ohio is an open carry state.  Remember that an armed society is a polite society, and that leftists are at heart cowards.  When confronted with real risk, when not backed by a braying mob, they tend to pull an Irish fade.  This convention might just be quieter than anyone expects thanks to Samuel Colt’s efforts at making man equal.

One thing that I haven’t heard anyone talk about yet is that Trump’s current statistical dead heat with Clinton is likely to vanish when the standard post-convention bump kicks in.  That means in less than a month, Donald Trump will have turned an 8-point deficit into a 3-point lead.  It gets better for those of us in the Red Hats, though.

If the scuttlebutt about agitators looking to make a statement and turn Cleveland into San Jose, Round Two – Rumble in the Concrete Jungle, prove correct, you can just go ahead and tack on another three points to that lead.  If blood darkens the streets of Cleveland, caused by outside mobs braying and spoiling for a fight, American voters will flock to Trump.  They don’t like seeing their nice, orderly democracy overturned by violent mobs. 

It doesn’t matter if the mob makes the doughy types that attend the political convention bleed, or get bloodied themselves by running headlong into a wall of baton wielding officers, they are going to look like savage criminals trying to stop the normal progression of the democratic process.  The squishy center of the American voter might be apathetic and prone to voting for the left in a vain attempt to stop the left from calling them names, but when push comes to shove comes to thrown bottles, they harden their hearts and look for somebody who can stop the madness.

In an odd way, their cowardice can be pushed too far.  The typical American voter wants what all people everywhere want – safe streets, consistency, and safety.  This desire for peace that causes them to fall prey to Democrat name calling (“racist”, “sexist”, “homophobe”, etc.) can be pushed too far.  When the left gets anxious and ups their bullying from name calling to actual violence, the American voter starts looking for protection from the left and runs into the arms of the right.  For just one example of that process, look to the repeated successes of Mayor Guiliani.  When things got dangerous, even the hard-nosed but oddly sensitive New York, New Yorkers preferred him.  When he made that city safe to walk at night, they abandoned both Guiliani and his policies.

So, speaking as a Trumpkin or Trumptard or Trumpinista or whatever cute name you think might hurt my feel-feels*, I say bring on the violence.  We’re more than happy to accept the support of people who value peace and democracy over those who think violent conflict is the proper way to select a leader.  There are more than enough of them to tip the election to The Donald.

*Spoiler alert: They don’t.

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Fight Stories: One Fist Was Irish

Larry Holden’s One Fist Was Irish is pretty much A River Runs Through It, with boxing substituting for fly fishing.

 

Barney Nolan is a decent raspberry farmer and a great boxer.  A gentle man, he only ever fights to raise money for the farm, which he continues to manage as much for love of farming as out of obligation to his older brother, Vince.

 
 

In their younger days Vince tormented the younger brother until one day Barney’s temper got the better of him, and a flung rock put out the eye of his older brother.  As adults, Vince continues to torment Barney by using that guilt as leverage to force Barney to do the heavy lifting around the farm and to bail Vince out of trouble atound town.

 
Things come to a head when Barney hospitalizes four Androille brothers looking to exact revenge on Vince for despoiling their younger sister.
 
The two brothers hop a tramp steamer to work and fight their way through Panama to Philadelphia where Barney can fight professionally until the heat dies down and they can return home.  On the boat ride Vince maneuvers Barney into throwing a fight in order to save Vince from trouble, the first mate’s career, and the crew’s ourses from Vince.  Satisfied that he has Barney’s number, Vince hatches a plan to maneuver him into throwing a fight in Philadelphia.
 
First though, Barney has to work his way up to a big purse.  While doing so, Vince steals the wife of Barney’s manager, and manipulates Barney into staying in Philly long after they could have safely returned home.  He even manages to use his guilt-lever to ensure Barney wins his preliminary fights by tricking Barney’s foes into mentioning the accident that cost him his eye.  Every mention sends Barney into a berzerker rage that leaves his opponent on the mat.
 
The last fight of the tale, Barney enters the ring believing that the only way to save his brother is to throw the fight.  To add to his burden, his manager has convinced him that his only hope of winning the fight is to play to his weak left hand.  Unbeknownst to Barney his manager has bet against him in an effort to win back his bride.
 
A sudden appearance of the despoiled Androille sister ringside reveals Vince’s treachery and triggers a last minute change of heart by Barney’s manager.  Which still leaves the matter of winning a fight that Barney has mistrained for and in which he has already thrown the first two rounds.
As expected, the story is one of relationships, and specifically relationships between men.  The love-hate between brothers, the respect of competitors, the paternal concern of bosses and mentors, all make an appearance.  It would take some world class piling higher and deeper of the Phd variety to find anything untoward in this story.  It’s just normal guys doing what normal guys do. 

Maybe that’s why the ivory tower types have such disdain for this type of literature – as abnormal guys, they simply can’t recognize value in telling the stories of people who aren’t just like them.  As damaged people they prefer stories about damaged people.  That is understandable, but their insistence that they have a monopoly on quality stories is proven wrong by this engaging story.
 

It’s not high literature.  The narrative wanders a bit in the iddle stretches.  The heel lacks all nuance.  A few small touches might have improved the payoff.  As narratives go, though, it delivers.  For a throw away story in a cheap magazine, this is a damn fine story.  Today’s world could use more like it.

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What’s In the Box?

Pulp magazines have been out for a long time.  Plenty of people have noted that they provide a glimpse into the culture of days gone by.  Surely there are multiple books out there on the subject – why not just read one of those?  It would be trivially easy to “cheat” and go look up the answer first.  At its heart, this series is more about the journey than it is the destination.

That isn’t to say that a history of pulp magazines won’t make an appearance.  If one crosses my path, I’ll give it a shot with a skepticism chaser.  Such a text may provide some valuable insight, but experience indicates that it is just as likely to engage in the same sort of historical revisionism and political axe-grinding as the conventional histories of the more fantastic magazines.  The field of literary criticism these days wallows in the same sort of mire as literature itself.  Writers in a field, and the critics who criticize them, are generally cut from the same cloth, it’s just that the critics rarely have the talent to produce content of their own.

The heavy dose of irony that results from a guy engaged in literary criticism suggesting critics have no talent is obvious, but only strengthens my case.  The whole point of this exercise is that the survey of men’s adventure magazines is expressly designed as an exercise in becoming a better writer.  That I have aspirations of adequacy is neither secret nor shameful. 

That I have to go back to my grandparent’s culture to find a model to emulate is an indictment of the modern world, but one made without malice.  The answer to how we got here interests me less than the answer to how to write in a way that isn’t tainted by the modern Oprah Book of the Month style faux-intellectualism.

Tor the record, it seems to me that the Baby Boomers rejected the simple appeal of the plain spoken tales of their fathers in favor of a more high browed literary attempts at uncovering the deeper meaning of human life by investigating the strange and often obscured corners of the world.  They looked to counter-cultural forces and sought meaning in things like the drug culture or eastern mysticism or any other rejection of the typical culture in which they lived.  The belief that the answers to ordinary life can only be found by seeking out extra-ordinary circumstances makes no sense to me. 

But then, I unapologetically think, act, and write, as a normal guy – not a special snowflake whom the world does not and cannot understand.  It is for this reason, that I look back to the stories told by regular guys meant to appeal to regular guys, in an attempt to understand how to replicate their work.  If that results in a bit of encouragement for others to read these readily accessible and freely available works, so much the better – they are worth it.



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You Don’t Deserve This

Dear Officer,

You don’t deserve this. 

Sure, you may rally around men accurately accused of wrong-doing.  You might stand by and allow Trump supporters to be viciously attacked on a regular basis.  You may even repeatedly fail to protect the rights of assembly and freedom of speech,

but you don’t deserve this.

We all know that at the end of the day, you’re just a guy making his way through a difficult world in a difficult time of upheaval.  We know that at the end of the day, you don’t answer to the people you’re sworn to protect, but to the political leaders who control your ability to feed your children.  We know that when you when you take sides in the culture war while in uniform that you’re just following the orders of the political class,

but you don’t deserve this.

You gotta look out for you and your brothers in blue.  Tribalism is very important, and your first loyalty should be to those most like you.  Believe me, whether they admit it or not, everyone understands that.  Those of us on the alt-right sure understand it.  So no hard feelings on our part.  You might fail us all too often,

but you don’t deserve this.

In these moments when the ER is filled with your brothers in blue bleeding red, and social media whipping information in every direction, and the establishment media gathering information while they wait to learn of the narrative that the facts must be spun to fit, just remember this.  We on the right want your support.  Not your suffering.  Not your lives.  Just your support.  We might not like that you won’t, or you can’t, give it to us,

but  you still don’t deserve this.

Blue Lives Matter



This post was written the night that four police officers were killed in an ambush in Dallas following a Black Lives Matter protest.

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Congratulations, Cirsova

Yesterday the best little SF/F magazine that could, completed a successful Kickstarter for Issue #2.

The first issue was fantastic, and that was done on little more than a wing and a prayer.  It’s going to be great to see what P. Alexander can do with some extra financial backing.  It didn’t make the cut-off for any of the stretch goals, but most of those relate to “collector’s edition” goodies, which don’t have much appeal to those of us that are only in it for the stories themselves.

A $2 backing nets a copy of the PDF, which is a steal for the amount of content for the pirce.  It’s looking like five short stories, a novella, and the continuation of Hutching’s excellent long-form poetry retelling of John Carter’s adventures. I threw down at the $10 level, more for the encouragement than the hard copy, as my reading has shifted over primarily to digital media.  Can’t see me lugging around a hard copy magazine when the same thing is tucked right there in my cell phone.

Can’t say either of the alternate covers tickle my fancy, but a glance at an uninteresting cover is more than outweighed by the hours of reading enjoyment that this magazine is sure to bring.

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Google Doodle Fun

Yesterday NASA’s Juno probe reached Jupiter.  Google Inc., as a hotbed of science-loving goofballs, saw fit to mark the occasion with an animated banner showing Team Juno celebrating the event.  This is what the world looks like to Google:

The Google Doodle, an irregular feature of the world’s most trafficked search engine is one of those annoying little features of this modern life used by Team SJW to rewrite history to suit their own needs.  While some of the criticism of the Google Doodle Team can be laid at the feet of hyperventilating attention whores – Google doesn’t have to celebrate every major Christian holiday every single year, people – concrete examples abound.  They routinely ignore major historical figures in favor celebrating of figures who barely rise to the level of a footnote.  They rarely mention an Edison or a Bell or a van Leeuwenhoek (too white-maley), but don’t miss the chance to remind us all of the important contributions of astronomer Caroline Hershel who…discovered a couple of comets.  To say nothing of its recent celebration of Yuri Kochiyama, an activist who has expressed support for Osama Bin Laden and Mao Tse Tung, serves as a concrete example. The American Thinker has a more detailed write-up for anyone who needs more evidence.

At any rate, something struck me as odd about yesterday’s Google Doodle.  That dancing team of NASA drones.  It features the obligatory rainbow coalition of scientist types that you’ll find in any Disney Channel show, what with a perfect sex split and two African Americans.  Frankly, it looked to me like Asians were under-represented what with that lone guy dancing there. 

Being a scientifically inclined sort of guy, I used Google itself to check up on Google’s representation of the Juno Team, and found several photos of the Juno Team.  It’s a lot whiter and more manly than Google’s own picture.  Here’s a few photos of the celebration as it happened in real-world space:

A case could be made for highlighted bit–part scientists as a means of encouraging kids who don’t fit the traditional demographic to go into STEM fields.  Not a good case, but a case.  This sort of reverse white-washing, though?  This is anti-reality.  It’s rejecting empirical evidence that doesn’t fit the theory.

What could be less scientific than that?

Here’s a meme-ified version for social media:
 
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