Review: Images of the Goddess, From Cirsova 2

P. Alexander is the guy behind the Short Review series posted at Castalia House, in which he reviews tales originally printed in classic pulp magazines such as Planet Stories.  His series, along with Jeffro Johnson’s Appendix N series and repeated warnings not to read anything written before 1980 inspired my own recent jaunts into the less fantastic ‘sweats’ and ‘slicks’ of the first half of the 20th century. 

P. Alexander is also the crazy bastard behind my new favorite short fiction magazine, Cirsova.

His new magazine means that somebody can now do to him what he’s been doing to the old writers – that old grinding wheel of Karma just keeps on a-turning – so let’s see if he can take what he dishes out. 

The cynical imp that lives in my mechanical heart wants to stick it to Cirsova good and hard, but he doesn’t make it easy.  It’s hard to find a story in either issue that deserves a bad review.  Instead, we’ll just have to start with my favorite story from Issue #2, the novella, Images of the Goddess, by Schuyler Hernstrom. 

Aw yeah.  I’ll be in
my niche in the wall
of the cave, baby.

Images of the Goddessdoesn’t start out very promising; the first few paragraphs set the stage from a third person, omniscient point of view, and briefly explain the founding and operation of the remote monastery that eventually serves as the catalyst for the following adventure.  From there, the story moves into the tale proper by introducing Plom, a humble acolyte in service to the Goddess, hanging from a rope above a thousand foot drop.  Now that’s the start of an interesting story.

The tale of the monastery is written in an engaging style with a wry sense of humor, and it includes the sort of dry humor that doesn’t hold your hand the way a Discworld joke does, so this is another case of me praising something with faint damnation, but it’s worth pointing out that this story starts out fun before it kicks into second gear and things get really interesting. 

Plom, the young and pious acolyte uses a bit of chicanery to save his best friend from being assigned a dangerous mission to recover a valuable artifact from a distant and dangerous jungle.  It’s a great introduction to the character as it shows him as an innocent young man who isn’t as pious as he’d like to believe, and one with a natural devious streak. 

Within a day of setting out on his quest, Plom rescues a wizard named Drur of the Blue Orb from a barbarian tribe and secures his support in the quest.  Drur turns out to be a flamboyant shyster cut from the same cloth as Cugel the Clever.  His loyalty is driven primarily by avarice and an inadvertent oath enforced by the magic artifact from which he draws his title.  Although these are the primary drivers for Drur’s actions, later events seem to indicate that he develops a soft spot for the young and naïve Plom. 

A day after the wizard’s rescue the two men are recaptured, and find themselves assigned a female barbarian named Sihma who is to serve them as a warrior slash chaperone slash prison guard.   Like Drur, she is pressed into the quest, but this time by her chief, and her honor and pride require her to do everything she can to see the quest through to completion. 

The quest carries the trio through the slave pits of a decadent city, down a dangerous jungle jungle river, and into the depths of an ancient ruin.  Along the way they contend with massive beasts and the world’s greatest swordsman, Wim Tid.  Or swordsthing.  Wim Tid is actually a swordsinsect – a man sized, four armed insect gladiator, to be precise.

The character of Wim Tid, a man/thing with his own way of thinking and alien, but understandable, motivation serves as a great excuse to mention that the world of Images of the Goddess is filled with numerous small touches that constantly remind the reader that it takes place in an alien world.  It may be our world flung far into the future, hints of this are sprinkled throughout the tale, but if so then it is our world changed in ways that make it much like, but in small ways, very different from our own.  These little touches provide constant little surprises that make reading this story a joy. 

As if those little touches aren’t enough, the constant jockeying for position among the trio, and among those that they meet, forces a number of compromises and deals that are fun to watch play out.  This constant back and forth reminded me of the film version of Maverick in that even people who genuinely like each other are always looking for an angle to get a better deal.  These are great methods of adding complications and small scenes of conflict that seamlessly flow along with the greater story of the quest for the artifact, which itself serves as a hilarious reversal of expectations. 

You’re not going to get any more detail out of this review.  There are just too many twists and surprises that you need to read for yourself.  As with the best of anything, if you really want to know how good this story is, you’re just going to have to experience it for yourself.

Long story short: Images of the Goddess reads like a Dying Earth tale without the oppressive atmosphere or Cugel the Clever’s constant malicious conniving.  Hernstrom’s prose harkens back to Vance, but the descriptions lack Vance’s frequent vagueness, and have a much lighter touch.  On the whole, this tale is even better than Dying Earth.  And that’s really saying something.
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I’m A Character, And You Can Too!

Yesterday’s post slapped the women’s image magazine Uncanny around pretty hard for being a vapid and shallow periodical that dilutes the deep and rich medium of storytelling by using it as a medium for do-nothing wish fulfillment.  It’s a great article, and every fan of short form fiction magazine, and long form fiction in general, should read it, link to it, and share it with friends, family, and random homeless people on the street.

Verbs are your friends.

Near the conclusion of the post, a small compliment on the art itself included a teaser for today’s post.  To whit, images that feature strong characters doing nothing other than charactering around can serve as effective cover art, but not for a book or collection of stories where things happen and people take action.  Fortunately, there is a whole genre of books that do almost nothing but describe characters.

They’re called Player Character Manuals.  They are written for – nerd alert! – Role Playing Games, or RPGs.  They provide rules and suggestions and inspiration for players who are creating characters.  These are not collections of stories, merely collections of characters or character traits that one could use to build a character.  The characters built by these books do things on the table or in the game or in your head.  However you want to look at it.

These covers aren’t meant to sell potential buyers on the exploits contained within, but on the exploits potential buyers can proxy-conduct using characters they build using the contents of the book.  In this case, the producers aren’t so much selling the stories as they are selling the characters.  As such, this is the perfect place for a cover featuring a character just standing there being characterful.  The producers don’t need a story or conflict on the cover because there aren’t any stories or conflict in the book.

(If you’re lucky.  Fall too many games include execrable excerpts of the writing that was so good…it’s author does technical writing for games.)

These covers tell the buyer, you can make this.  You can make this do what you want.  They sell the actual contents of the book.  When used this way the art isn’t selling the image of a character, but the depths of what makes the character work.  Literally.  How the character works within the overall framework of the rules of the game.

To see some examples of static characters on a cover in action, let’s look at a few of the covers for the grand-daddy of them all, Dungeons and Dragons.  Working without the benefit of state-paid Benefits or a debilitating mental disease along the lines of autism or OCD, we’re not going sit and pore through countless covers compiling, indexing, and choosing which data points fit the pre-selected narratives.  We’ll leave that to overweight, rainbow haired, grudge farmers. 
Bang, right out of the gate, the very first incarnation of the game, the manual for men and men-at-arms features a character just standing there in all his fantasy-armor glory.  Score one for the Counter-Narrative.  Moving on to the first cover for AD&D…
The aftermath of a fight.  This one breaks the mold, conveying a sense of mystery and exploration rather than characters, but it’s thirty years old and produced by people just finding their way through an unknown hobby, we can cut it some slack.  It’s not static characters, though, it’s characters doing – or just having done – things.  So how about the second edition?
Here we see a mounted warrior charging an enemy, the reader presumably.  It shows the action and conflict one might expect to be able to conduct with characters built using the system.  Almost as if they decided to skip the ‘being’ and get right to the ‘doing’.  My theory isn’t looking too great right now.
The third edition was a faux-jeweled leather affair meant to represent an actual manual, so we’ll skip it.  Fourth edition, though…
Nailed it!  Two characters just standing there waiting for something to happen, the way the gods and The Narrative intended.  They don’t have to do anything, they just need to stand there pensively, like characters in a Spielberg monster movie.  And of course, the most recent edition…
Huh.  Again we see a character engaged in conflict, the root of all stories and adventure.  Almost as if story and adventure are central to a game about stories and adventure.  Oh, my precious theory!

That was an interesting experiment.  The only manual feature characters standing around being characters was also the manual from the least successful edition of the biggest adventure game on the market.  That should tell us something.

Since we’re not scientists, we’re not going to pout and start looking for data that supports our original hypothesis until we find enough to be proven right, damn it.  Instead, we’re going to take the data and revise our theory about do-nothing characters on covers.

You can use them to sell books about story-telling and action centered games and magazines, but if you do you’re going to move less product than if you had used action packed art featuring stories and adventure.

And that’s how you do critical theory and analysis, bitches!

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Uncanny Unmasked

Jeffro Johnson – [trump speak]great guy, very thoughtful, I’m a big fan of his, big fan [trump speak] – posted a simple question on G+:  “What’s missing on [this cover]?

Have to judge it by something, and
the cover is all we got.

It may have been a rhetorical question, but it deserved a proper response.  If for nothing else, then for everyone sitting in the cheap seats.  My short story answer is available through the link, but it deserves a much longer response.

Long story short for those of you not interested in clicking that clickbait, the cover art on Uncanny Magazine is a long series of the editor firing up the Virtue Signal and shining it into the clouds.  The technical quality of the art they choose is generally very high, but the art direction is sadly lacking.  The purpose of a magazine cover is to sell potential readers on the contents, and for a collection of stories you might think that the cover should sell potential readers on the stories.  If so, it should present the sort of conflict and drama that one might expect from the stories within.  Here’s an example of a piece of art that does just that:

Action!  Conflict!  Drama!
You know, the sorts of things you find in…stories?

A wizard on the high seas burning sailors alive from inside an arcane construct.  You’ve got motion, conflict, wizardry.  You know what’s inside the magazine, and if you like action and drama, you’ll like this magazine.  You should give up your hard earned money in exchange for this magazine.
What’s on the tin tells you what’s in the tin.

The artwork used for Uncanny Magazine on the other hand is a long list of cool looking strong and independent women…just kind of standing around.  You know, looking cool.  As with Crisova, what’s on the tin tells you what’s in the tin.  Don’t expect stories with action, drama, or conflict.  Instead, expect to be shown really cool women who spend their time just being cool.

You can’t directly translate the writing maxim, “Show, don’t tell,” over to art, because art is a visual medium where “showing” is literally the only thing the artist can do; however, the underlying principle still applies.  An artist can’t just show the audience a character and expect the audience to understand that the character is a badass unless you show that character actually doing badass things.  The guys who make the moving pictures understand this intuitively – in our first introduction to Indiana Jones he disarms a man with a gun using a bullwhip.  We are shown that Indy is a badass before we even see his face.  Spielberg doesn’t tell us Indy is a badass by having him stand against a tree with a jaunty look in his eye, he shows us Indy is a badass by having him bitch slap a backstabbing coward in a badass way.

While the art used on the covers of Uncanny tends towards the “pretty cool”, it doesn’t tell a story and so it doesn’t sell a story.

That might seem like a mistake, but it’s only a mistake if you think the people producing Uncanny are trying to sell stories to people who like stories.

It’s not.

Uncanny is trying to sell an image to people who like images.

The image they are trying to sell is clear from the patter on art they use on the cover.  They are trying to sell the image of strong, cocky, and badass women who don’t need no stinking men around mansplaining things and manspreading all over the place.  The stories are just one of the mediums by which they seek to transfer that image to the buyer.  The cover, and presumably interior, artwork is another.

You stand there, girl.  You stand
there so HARD.
Note that this is not to say that strong, cocky, and badass women are impossible.  It’s just pointing out that Uncanny Magazine isn’t interested in the substance of women who are strong, cocky, and badass so much as they are interested in the image of women as such.  If they wanted substance the art wouldn’t tell us women are strong, it would show us women doing things that require strength.  The art wouldn’t tell us women are badass, it would show us women doing something badass.

As above, so below.

It’s a safe bet that the stories inside Uncanny reflect that same inability of the magazine’s producers to understand the concept.  It’s a safe bet to assume that the stories, such as they are, inside the magazine feature surficial women who we are reliably informed are strong, cocky, and badass who never quite get around to doing things that require strength, whose attitude of cockiness is not backed up by ability (and so comes off as sneering), and whose badass exploits fall far short of the mark.

That’s not to say that this is bad art.  It’s just to say that the art doesn’t sell the stories, it sells an image.  It sells the same sort of wish fulfillment to women that Playboy covers sell to men.  And that’s fine, so long as you understand what they are doing, and what they are selling.  If you want stories, look elsewhere.  If you want female wish fulfillment wrapped in a fantasy/sci-fi veneer, this is the magazine for you.

The obvious objection, that all stories are wish fulfillment and that Tarzan or Indy are just wish fulfillment for men and I sure am hungry got any more of those doughnuts, is stupid to the point that it’s aggravating just having to casually dismiss it.  For the benefit of those who don’t get the difference…the men wish they could dothings, the women wish they could bethings.  Stories are, by definition, about people who do things.  Uncanny is, by design, about people who are things.  Looked at that way…holy cow, Uncanny is literally objectifying women.  How’s that for a twist?
You can fulfill my wish any time, baby.
That little digression aside, and at risk of this essay meandering further astray, it’s worth pointing out that some of these are very well done works of art.  This piece of art in particular does a great job of selling women on the idea of being this character.  If the depth beneath the surface of this cover were about how to be this character, it would be a perfect piece of art to use.

Teaser alert!  It just so happens that there is a whole category of books for which this artwork is perfect, and we’ll delve into those in my next post.

It may be extremely unfair to spend a thousand words beating up on Uncanny Magazine over this issue, but Uncanny isn’t a lone actor here.  It’s just a current and recurrent data point within a much larger trend.  For at least the last decade the cover art for fiction in general has been moving this direction, and unfortunately the stories have followed the same trend.  Here’s a random sampling of magic girl covers.  It’s a nasty trend for those who enjoy stories, and those who enjoy stories need to be made aware of the trend, so that they don’t fall victim to the bait-and-switch tactic used by those who would use the wonderful medium of the written word to force deep stories out of the marketplace in favor of superficial character descriptions.
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Cirsova, Issue #2

When I grow up, I want to be Jeffro Johnson.  His Appendix N web series, soon to be released in full book format, is much reviled by all the right people, and justifiably so.  A bit late to the party, I was nonetheless impressed with his analysis which shed new light on old works, and helped revive my much atrophied interest in the sci-fi/fantasy genre. 

The backlash against Jeffro by the followers of the modern day Gog and Magog (Progressivism and the Narrative) seemed at the time to be over the top and un-necessary.  So what if an RPG nerd likes books that inspired the hobby?  In retrospect, the naysayers and perpetually offended had good reason to lash back so forcefully.  They saw what a deep and profound impact Jeffro’s writing could have on the genre, and in their talentless boots the Scalzi’s and mini-Scalzi’s of the world trembled.

Enter Cirsova.

The next generation in the evolution of the genre magazine, Cirsova picks up where the dry and dusty modern magazines left off.  It has abandoned the dry and ‘meaningful’ stories carefully crafted to appeal to the right kind of readers, and instead offers the kind of adventurous fun that the pulps used to offer.

Consider for a moment children’s programming.  When I was a wee lad adventurous shows were fun for their own sake.  Thudarr didn’t need diversity or lessons about not petting stray dogs, he just needed a wizard in a busted down casino to stab.  At some point the producers were pressured into including a message, and we had to suffer through a one minute warning from Scarlet and Snow Job about how knowing we should eat our vegetables is half of the battle.  That was bad enough, but then came the inevitable message fiction cartoons such as the execrable Captain Planet and long slog through years of drek.  For all I know cartoons are still mired in that preach-first entertain-second mode – the short fiction magazines sure are.

At least until now.  Cirsova brings back the fun without the preaching, and in so doing signals a new and exciting era in sci-fi and fantasy stories.  It’s shaping up to be part throwback to the old days where world-building took a back seat to story-telling, but one that acknowledges that the last five decades did happen. It’s as good as the first issue, though the variety of stories doesn’t run quite as full of a gamut as its predecessor.  It’s clear the editors didn’t front load the quality into the first issue and finishing this one only leaves the reader’s appetite whet for more.

Now look, I’m not a particularly smart guy, and I’m not particularly dialed into the sci-fi/fantasy scene.  I’m just a guy who knows what he likes, and one who knows he can’t get it from the big publishing houses these days.  Whether this meets the criteria for an egghead like Jeffro or the Superversive crowd or not is beyond my simple ken.  You can ask them yourself.

What I can tell you is that Cirsova is a vindication of Jeffro’s work.  It represents a step towards the classic quality and anything-goes storytelling that attracted the original generations of nerds to fantasy and sci-fi.  As such it also serves as an important data point for the inadvertent revolution started by Jeffro’s Appendix N series.  It may be one of the first, but it’s unlikely to be the last. 

Full disclosure:  I’m not being paid for this review.  Not only am I NOT being paid, I paid extra money for this issue of Cirsova; instead of the cheap PDF, I paid extra into the KickStarter for the hard copy.  Not only that, but I’m paying extra EXTRA money to be a part of Cirsova Issue 3 by purchasing ad space in it.  Not because I have anything to advertise, but just as an excuse to give it more of my money.

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Publicly Funded Pepe, It Could Happen

Hail Pepe!

Yesterday we laughed at a leftist’s complete inability to understand the alt-right’s irreverence and absurdity.  One of the jewels in the God Emperor’s crown is his blessed avatar, Pepe.

I’ve made no secret of my love for Pepe; the meme-army never ceases to amaze or amuse me.  Por ejemplo:

The alt-right’s use of Pepe and the ugly, childish clipart style of art generated by the meme machine is particularly delicious given that Pepe serves as yet another example of the Left being gored by the horns of a sacred cow if their own making.  That sacred cow being their creation and faith in  the execreble movement known as Modern Art.

Modern Art is ugly and meaningless drivel crafted by stupid and talentless people designed to make others feel negative emotions such as disgust, boredom, anger, or sorrow.  It was a backlash against previous movements that demanded craftsmanship and talent, and that were created by masters capable of inspiring hope, joy, and faith.

The academics back in the day, through a desire to  look ‘cool’ to their younger students or as paid agents to the Comintern (which is correct is irrelevent, the effect is the same), signed on to the intellectual superiority of tjis vapid and meaningless movement, and we’ve been stuck with urinals on the wall, crucifixes in jars of urine, and rooms full of used feminine hygiene products ever since.

Forget the stupid rationalizations, for decades modern art has been a means of transferring money from public coffers to no talent hacks as a way of rewarding incompetents who profess the correct political views.  And during this time those who object to public funding of ugly art built on lies has been, “If you don’t understand then it proves you are too dumb to get it, and we have to force you to fund this because you stupid people are too dumb to see the value.”

Welcome to the sharp end of the stick, Lefties.

You’re too stupid to understand Pepe.  When the God Emperor ascends to the golden throne, he will be well within his rights under the rules *you* implemented to appoint members to the National Arts Council who will approve funding for artists to create fully rendered paintings, statues, and digital installtions featuring the world’s greatest frog.  We could have enormous, city wide installations of the sacred frog inspring us to great heights, sky spanning cloud art grinning down on us.

It will be glorious!

When that happens, try to remember that you are also the ones who brought, and popularized in the West, the concept of Karma.

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Guilty As Charged

The handmaidens of globalism really have no idea what to make of effective counterpunchers. 

A recent sperging from the HuffPo sputters that Some Donald Trump Supporters Are Now Calling Him ‘God Emperor’.  (That link is to an archive, so you can click without fear of granting the execrable HuffPo or their advertisers any links.)  Note that many of us on the alt-right have been using that team of endearment for our Orange Savior for months now, but the ever alert Nico Pitney just uncovered this amazing scoop and couldn’t wait to spread the word to his people.

What a dork.

Nico just doesn’t get it.  The world has passed him by as surely as it has the stodgiest Carroll O’Connor throwback.  Anyone old enough to get that All in the Family reference, let alone make it, it surely on the wrong side of cool, and yet is still light years cooler than Nico. 

This is a man who has sold his soul to the influence peddlers of days gone by, the national news, entertainment, and political masters.  He still operates under the delusion that culture is a top-down affair and that organizations such as his sit near the top of the pyramid.  His word should be disseminated, and those Trump supporters should only ever be entertained by messages from their betters.

His world is dying, and he just can’t see it.

These days Trump supporters don’t need the likes of Nico or Paul Feig or Sarah Silverman to tell them what’s cool and what’s not – they make their own fun.

I mean, look at this:

One image from a YouTube video makes you laugh harder than all of Silverman’s jokes combined.

Or consider this little quip:

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims ― 1.6 billion members of an entire religion ― from entering the U.S.

Okay, that last bit is actually a straight-faced bit from the HuffPo editor, and wasn’t meant as a joke, but you can’t help but laugh at the ineffectiveness of that sort of virtue signaling.

The really sad thing about guys like Nico is not that they don’t see reality, but that they see it, consider it, and then reject it outright:

Some forum members say “God Emperor” is simply a tongue-in-cheek attempt to rile up Trump opponents who fear he would be a strongman as president.

Yes, Nico, that’s exactly the trap they’ve laid out for you.  You read the blueprint, laid out the trap, and then blundered into it yourself.  If you had any self-awareness at all, you’d understand that the joke isn’t on you, you are the joke.

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Soft Drinks Are My Kryptonite

One of my hobbies is a fitness hobby peopled largely by people who won’t shut up about it.  In the interests of not being one of “those people”, you won’t hear me talk about it very much.  I only mention it now because my weakness – carbonated beverages – plays a key role in my not being very good at that particular fitness hobby.

While perusing one of the many quirky little tourist shops that dot the small towns along the western coast of Michigan, I found a massive collection of boutique micro-brew soft drinks, or “pops” as they are known in the local vernacular.  As a guy who drinks soft drinks the way others drink wine, this represented a golden opportunity to branch out a bit from the usual assortment of alternatives to the major brands that can be found in supermarket chains across the country.  Your IBC Root Beers and Mexican Coca-Colas are better than the usual fare, but just not quite the hipster style that lights up my face.

As a small treat for myself, I lined up four promising candidates and had a little soda tasting event for myself in the hotel parking lot the last night of vacation.  While the kids were invited to the party, they were exhausted from a day of roller coaster rides and turned in early.  That left me sitting in the dark on a concrete parking divider looking like a weird tee-totaling wino complete with glass bottle lineup.  It wasn’t the classiest night of my lift, but sometimes you just have to make due.

Spiffy Cola is a nice light cola with a clear, smooth caramel taste.  A little too light in taste, it could use a heavier undertone to its flavor.  It’s made with cane sugar instead of the near-ubiquitous corn syrup used in soft drinks these days, but somehow winds up tasting too sweet with the same lack of refreshment one gets from canned major sodas. While Spiffy Cola would make for a great mixer with a clear rum and heavy dose of lime, it doesn’t stand well on its own.

As a child of the 70’s, cherry cokes were a treat only available to us at drug store counters and church basement wedding receptions.  When Coke announced cherry cola in a can, we thought that the days of waiting for a special occasion for that taste were over.  Then we tried the Cherry Coke in a can and instead experienced our first taste of disappointment in corporatized fulfillment of special occasions.

This brand of cherry cola fills the void left by the Big Three Cola companies.  My favorite of the four selections, this cherry cola is heavy on the cherry syrup and tastes more like a classic grenadine cola from a bartender than any other bottled cherry cola I’ve ever tried.  It certainly nails that particular flavor better than any of the major bottlers.

Some people love a root beer with bite, but I’ve always preferred a smooth flavor.  This root beer soda will satisfy some people.  It kicks like a mule, and yet somehow the earthy body of the base is overwhelmed by the too-strong vanilla flavor.  This should taste like an ice-cream float and instead tastes like carbonated dirt vanilla extract.  That taste lingers on and fades to the same sort of clinging bitterness you get after drinking a soda sweetened with stevia – more accurately called Satan’s Leaf.

Disgusting.  This one looked like a crap shoot, but how can you pass up a bacon flavored soda?  A regular cola has a smoky flavor to it, so this should be a natural fit.  It’s not.  Don’t be deceived by your experience with crispy delicious bacon, and the way it makes even a salad taste like an indulgence.  This soda tastes exactly like grinding up bacon and stirring it into a seltzer water.  Too sweet, too salty, too bacony.  Every single dial on this drink needs to be turned down from eleven, because they combine in your mouth, Voltron-like, to form a perfect assault on your tongue that forces your body to react in pure self defense by rejecting this drink harder than it would a replacement liver donated by Winston Churchill.

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Gravedancing on the Ghostbusters

At this point it looks like Ghostbustiers is going to turn a profit of one whole dollar (if you don’t count the massive marketing budget as an expense.)  Houston, we have convergence!  The shelf-life of interest in this flop sweat drenched production is rapidly expiring around the culture, but that’s due largely to the fact that this movies supporters were on the wrong side of history.  They’ve got to try and re-write history fast and move on before anyone notices that us internet trolls were right all along.

To bring you in on the fun, I read through a few choice autopsies.

Too late – even The Nation has been forced to admit that we were right: The ‘Ghostbusters’ Trolls Were Right, going so far as to admit that, “The jokes do change when the characters are women”.  They admit it in a title and byline that turn out to be little more than click-bait, though.  That whole article isn’t about how right we were – The Nation would never stoop so low as to conduct and open and honest analysis of their position in light of new information – it’s actually a long discussion of how great and refreshing Ghostbusters: The Enwomaning truly is, and what wonderful performances the leads present, all written with the usual White Night undertones.

It isn’t much, but it’s a start.

With, “Ghostbusters needed to show that black women can be scientists too“, the Guardian gives us yet another example of Orwell’s warning that you can’t scream at Emmanuel Goldstein loud enough – sooner or later even a true believer like Paul Feig winds up in Room 101.  Despite the full convergence of his movie, it didn’t converge hard enough.  The writer of that piece inadvertently points out that Leslie Jones is a fantastic actress, given that her character “was portrayed as warm, funny, genuine and smart,” all of those things that Jones fails to portray in real life.  While this movie is used as an excuse to publish a high school English assignment where teacher required everyone to write five sentences on five minority women that like, did some sciencey stuff or whatever (ugh!), it is telling that despite everything the leftist press still can find room in what passes for its heart for a little criticism at him for yelling too quietly.

But we’re going to save most of our attention for this delightful little entry for the Memory Hole from something called Page Six: Mattel Says Ghostbusters Toy Sales Were Great, Proving Gender Doesn’t Make A Toy Less Cool.

First off all, straight out of the gate, you’re asking a marketing guy for confirmation that people like the product he’s selling.  Of course he’s going to tell you that people love the product.  They can’t get enough of the product.  If you want to be cool, you will also buy the product. 

After the glowing success of the premiere of Ghostbusters –

We’re off to a great start here.  The premier of Ghostbustiers was only considered successful because it wasn’t a total failure.  You know what?  I can’t do this.  A lot of bloggers love to take articles apart line by line, but I just can’t do it.  Suffice it to say that every line in this article is a lie carefully crafted to seduce the sort of status-conscious Oprah watching mom who gives no thought to media and is willing to swallow any lie to be part of the in-crowd no matter how strongly it clashes with their own experience. 

These ladies will believe sales are strong even as they are dragged through the toy-aisle at Target and see the little red stickers on the Ghostbustier toys sitting on end cap shelves.  To combat this reality, other articles quote Target’s marketing department spin they provide somehow provides actual information.  Apparently, Target is now referring to their decision to off-load the unwanted Ghostbustier toys at fire sale prices – before the movie was even released – as a mistake. 

And maybe it was.

Let me remind you that Target has been willing to eat ten billion dollars in stock price decline rather than admit their blind devotion to the Narrative is off-putting to most consumers.  You really think they would bat an eye at losing a few million on over-priced and unwanted Ghostbustier toys?  Those things will sit there for a few months before they wind up sitting next to Sneaky Pete on a dime-store shelf for a few decades, but they won’t be allowed to serve as evidence in the trail between Internet Trolls vs. The Great Convergence.  These things will go the way of the Atari E.T. game cartridges, but they won’t wear a little red sticker of shame while Target stands.

Which, if we’re lucky, won’t be for long.

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Dreaming of Silver Rockets

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
   – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today I fired another shot in the culture war.  I cast my ballot for the Hugos.  It is a small thing, a single bullet in a single battle in a far flung corner of the fight, but it is from the collective effect of many small things that great things arise.

My ballot in last year’s fight helped to drive the forces of the Narrative to burn the Hugo Awards to the ground, and thus helped cause much consternation among the forces of the Narrative Almighty. 

Even as I celebrated the victory in that skirmish, deep down I felt shame.  To my everlasting regret, my ballot in last year’s fight deviated in a few small ways from that ordained by the Supreme Dark Lord.  The failure of the forces of truth and light to rout the enemy and drive them from the field of battle rests on my shoulders.  This year, I will not make the same mistake.  My ballot perfectly reflects the will of the Supreme Dark Lord, in whose image I am but a pale reflection.  Together with the massed volley of the ballots cast by the brave men at my shoulders, I shall fear no defeat in the battle of Mid-America Con II.

To steel my resolve, and remind myself of the importance of a well regulated ballot, each morning I repeat the Sad Puppy’s Voting Creed:

This is my ballot. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
My ballot is my best friend. It is my life. I have mastered it as I mastered my life.
Without me, my ballot is useless. Without my ballot, I am useless. I must cast my ballot true. I must vote straighter than my enemy who is trying to kill me. I must vote against him before he shoots me.  I will…
My ballot and I know that what counts in war is not the votes we cast, the noise of our effect, nor the tears we create. We know that it is the result that counts. We will vote…
My ballot is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its order, its check boxes, and its electrons. I will keep my ballot clean and accurate, even as I am clean and accurate. We will become part of each other. We will…
Before the Supreme Dark Lord, I swear this creed. My ballot and I are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life.
So be it, until victory is America’s and there is no enemy, but peace!
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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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