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Sunday 20 September 2020

Readers Request - Irredeemable, Ironheart, Outrage, Animals

You know the drill by this point, people. I asked for some questions, comments or topics - I will answer them. Got some good ones here. Without further ado.

Your 3 favourite characters from popular fiction that are morally problematic.

Megatron - problematic for obvious reasons, he's a tyrannical despot at the best of times, but like he's cool, you know. Roy Batty - yeah murder is sticky but if you want change, sometimes you gotta pop the mega-wealthy people's heads. The Emperor of Mankind - whoops I accidentally a galactic genocide.

Redeemable Tory Cabinet member. I've stared at the list of current members of the cabinet and.... like... none. ...just... I can't. There are none. None. No. Sorry. None.

Separating artist from works - Harry Potter from J.K Rowling for example.

Ooookay. Well. ...if you want to like the art in question while not agreeing with the artist, that is probably okay - BUT - the art isn't actually separate. For one thing, they are probably still drawing royalties, every time you buy a Hufflepuff scarf or a Gary Glitter-themed mug.

For another - well, when someone creates a piece of art, it is almost never totally divorced from who they actually are. It is informed by their attitude, by their thought process, by their life experience. It's why books written by very wealthy people that include poor people - or vice versa - rarely feel terribly realistic, or clearly push a specific agenda relating to those people without any actual realism behind it.

Many authors do a fantastic job of worldbuilding but make a world totally informed by their worldview of this planet, and their experiences of it, however limited. It's hard to step outside of how you see things, and what things, specifically, you have seen. It's why a lot of the old sci fi books are, frankly, pretty racist and pretty sexist. It's why we renamed the Campbell Award to the Astounding Award - because scifi shouldn't be rewarded in the name of a racist and segregationist who didn't believe in lung cancer or medical regulation.

I, personally, have a hard time with it. But then I think too much about stuff. I can probably do a serious over-read into most things if you give me a title and an angle. (Wreck-It Ralph? Totally all about just staying in your lane and never wanting to change your life.) So if you the reader can read a book and be chill with the author being shit in the ways they are shit? That's different strokes I guess. But more importantly - be AWARE of the author's attitudes, the musician's angle, the director's bias. Be aware of it, so that you are informed as to why they might make certain decisions in their creative process.

And if you ARE going to keep loving the work and also recognise the artist's general shitness - do be aware that some people might want to make sure that your consumption of the work isn't tacit agreement with the author's attitude.

If that notion confuses you, well, try reading Mein Kampf on public transport. Yes yes Godwin's Law let's move on

Cannibalism for fun and profit.

This sounds like a guide book for private equity firms. Hey folks - if you don't know how private equity firms work, read Mortal Engines. The book about mobile cities chasing down other cities, stripping them for anything they want, then discarding the refuse. Then imagine this applies to companies that you use, like Toys R Us. Guess what the refuse is? Jobs and stores.

And how can this beeee?


(You'd best appreciate the 20 minutes I just spent photoshopping this)

Why have my bowels just exploded?

Poor life choices and the unyielding certainty of biochemistry.

Sci-fi movie plots with elements that don't make sense (eg. Movies that release sequels that contradict the premise of the others).

Okay so I was suggested Terminator for this BUT the moment that you bring in time travel everything gets screwy, especially if your premise doesn't specifically state that the Grandfather Paradox exists. SO. Terminator gets a pass - so does Back To The Future. However. Offenders include Transformers (The history changes every movie and a couple characters literally vanish or appear out of nowhere and one even DIES and then just comes back in the next movie for no apparent reason) and Universal Soldier (basically the fact that this even has sequels is a mystery to me but apparently they all kind of pretend the other sequels don't exist).

Not following that example - The Core doesn't make sense AT ALL. It's like a script writer saw a seven year old's plasticine model of the earth's inner workings and based the movie entirely on it without doing any further reading. The remake of Total Recall - so wait there's a train that runs THROUGH THE EARTH to AUSTRALIA? Angels & Demons - that's not how Antimatter works! Battlefield Earth, WHY BATTLEFIELD EARTH!? And do not even get me STARTED on Armageddon -

(It is at this point that a sedative was administered)




(fire fire fire fire scream scream scream cry cry)

Yeah pretty much mate

Wild speculation about the overarching themes / plots of MCU phases 4 & 5.

So like I don't know about Phase 5 at all, because I believe a lot of that will depend on how Phase 4 is received. Eternals, for example, can rewrite EvErYtHiNg and introduce a whole new metaplot. I have no idea what they are going to do with Thor. I don't know if I will like what they are going to do with Spider-Man. I have hopes? But... like... the main drive of the thing has had a lot of its guts ripped out, so I think now there will be a bit of a flail about while the movie industry works out how everything works again. I want Black Widow to do REALLY well because they did her SO dirty with InfinEndgame. Outside of that. Powerless to speculate... but Black Panther II should be about Shuri taking over. And I want an Ironheart movie, dammit. I WANT IRONHEART.

Best book of 2020 as recommended by you please dear.

Got to be honest. I have found reading pretty difficult, this year. I am very much not caught up. And given that this year has been a trash fire I am going to reach back and claw back To Be Taught If Fortunate from 2019 by Becky Chambers, because, please god just give me this.

Ok of the last decade 😁

phew okay. The best book written this decade that I have read is either A Closed And Common Orbit, also by Becky Chambers - or This Is How You Lose The Time War, by Amal el-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. Runners up include Jeff Vandermeer's Southern Reach trilogy and Dessa's My Own Devices.

Required though about boobies, without using a picture or comment you've made before. Maybe if you fancy going serious instead of silly something to do with breast/testicular cancer?

A fantastic use of a trope that I was getting a bit bored of! Check yourself. Always check yourself. Get it checked. I know, I know, it's a pain. Do it anyway. If the idea of talking to your doctor about a medical problem makes you nervous, interrogate yourself about it - is it because of you or because of your doctor? Get a different doctor. Check yourself. Be safe, people. Have a grope.

How about an element (or two) of Magical Girl Manga that you think are good?

So you know what? I will admit that I am not speaking from a position of absolute knowledge here, I've not watched many - but I appreciate the fact that a lot of them are created by women, a lot of them thus feature some not-awful writing of women and girls in a genre that usually doesn't do that. And we like that.

The lack of mixed race heritage characters and npcs in things like dnd5e or pathfinder etc. Or the overabundance of mixed species characters in those games. Or even something about to what extent species and races are portrayed in d&d and how one substitutes for the other.

Haaaah sticky one. So. Um. RPG that originated in the mid-70s, based on tropes created by fantasy authors from a lot before that time, so race is... a bit... iffy. Given that a lot of the traits that make up each of the classic fantasy races were... let's say... influenced by the culture of the folks that concocted them, it's a big old hard-to-untangle mess. In short - mixed-species characters are often popular because it's a neat way to get stuff and have ready-to-go social acceptance (or censure) written into your background, AND you can look neat. While, a lot of game companies who (for decades) have had an overwhelmingly white male staff have felt uncomfortable in how to deal with race in terms of ethnicity. It's a big house of cards and a lot of the cards on the bottom of the house have "A Bit Racist" written on them in big letters.

The outrage surrounding 'Cuties' and whether it's founded on the facts or stirred up sensationalism...

Okay. So. DISCLAIMER. I have not seen this movie. I don't WANT to watch this movie, after having observed the outrage from an external perspective, and also learned about the actual subject matter (though to repeat, I haven't actually watched it, this has come from reading several reviews and summaries). It is about a sensitive topic - how the societal pressure on girls to be sexual entities influences girls that are clearly too young to be seen that way, and how they will be the ones that not only bear the cost for it but also get the blame. It explicitly ties into the director's experience growing up in France and being French-Senegalese. It's about how girls are sexualised, and how friggin wrong that is.

And then, it gets put up on Netflix, and the marketing department decides to just take a big steaming shit in everything the movie is trying to tell you. I'm just going to show you the posters that were used for this movie - the one on the left is for its domestic release, and the one on the right is the Netflix poster.

I apologise. This may well upset you.

And of course, everyone is taking a swing at the director for it.

I'm willing to bet she probably handled the subject matter with more thought and sensitivity than whoever came up with the poster on the right. And I'm willing to bet that a lot of people will be unwilling to direct their anger at the actual forces that make things like this happen.

Of course, there is no way to expect that sensationalism won't get stirred up - even on topics that aren't so emotive as this. News sites run on clicks, not accuracy; and people don't read full articles, or do any research. I, myself, have fallen into this camp repeatedly. Yes, dear reader, even your humble blogger isn't immune to outrage.

How Battlestar Galactica is still so relevant 17 years on (race wars, the role of religion in politics, there's even a pandemic! (The Woman King))

The writing for this show was super, super good. Like fantastic. It had its moments of rubbish, but for the most part, it was superb. Especially the internal politics; the power struggles; the creeping paranoia. It's very, VERY relevant. The entire plotline involving the military coup takeover, the elections, the imbalance between Galactica and Pegasus - just... so, so good.

And also how this could be linked to how much of battlestar was inspired by DS9 that is still relevant today and as a well made statement about world war 2 and the civil rights movement still being important then as well as now... and the comparison of these two for cultural and societal elements compared to the expanse as a series please x

Christ okay um. DS9 is probably my favourite Trek. I like Discovery a lot, but DS9 tops it if only for the actual content. Sure, there's a lot of Holodeck episodes, but every Trek has that, right? What I love is the politics of the thing. And the way that the Federation is not only not always the best candidate for the job, but also, not always even in the right. It's about military and civic authority, about what people do when pushed, about the ugly side of trying to bring peace and order to a place that classically didn't have any (or did have, at the end of a Cardassian rifle).

The Expanse... is probably my favourite scifi TV series? I think? The character writing is superb, the politics are believable, the science makes sense until the thing comes along that doesn't and that is ACTUALLY a plot point, it looks great, it sounds great, and essentially - it joins the aforementioned series in portraying facets of politics accurately through the lens of accessible characters. It shows various governmental interactions, diplomacy at many different levels too. It shows how regular people suffer the actions of the few and the powerful. It shows how, in the end, however alien the foe, the cruelest enemy to humanity is itself in its worst moments. So does Babylon 5, which also joins this list.

If someone wanted to understand how power and politics works on Earth, today, they would not be ill-advised to consume a smattering of the series discussed before. It will be, at the very least, insightful.

Summing up the past year using song titles? asked for it.

...that's not actually a bad playlist, thinking about it.

First rain after a spell of dry weather.

Not a big fan of rain (it hurts my joints) but I know it's necessary - and in some cases lifesaving. So. Let it rain.

Current favorite song, album, artist, and genre. (Four different, though related, questions really in one.)

Favourite SONG - The acoustic version of Crabulon by Evil Scarecrows. ...just listen to it, you'll get it.

Favourite ALBUM - Moron Police - A Boat On The Sea. Like, their albums before this one, I can take or leave. This thing sounds fantastic.

Favourite ARTIST - Spanish Love Songs. Hands down. I've gone back and listened to their back catalogue and it's fantastic

Favourite GENRE - ...well, honestly, a mixture; but if forced to pick I suppose the music I throw on to listen to the most when not looking for a specific artist, right now, is synthwave in the vein of Timecop1983, Kavinksy, FM-84 and Night Runner - and adjacencies like Gunship.

1 Actor and 1 Actress that you think give the best 'smolder' look?

For the consideration of the Academy, Henry Cavill...

...and Eva Green.

With an honorable mention for Pedro Pascal.

Done and done.


May the memory of this righteous one be a blessing. Now push back. In memory of everything she ever stood for, and every right she ever fought to give you. Push back on all fronts. ALL fronts.

Worst offending countries using Covid to push through political agendas.

...see this is a difficult one because of all the countries that have been doing the worst, most heinous right-wing shit since the virus hit, they're all the ones that just ram through legislation they like anyway. And where a lot of it doesn't reach big news because, you know, global epidemic and measures specifically taken to make sure nobody notices...

Pretty sure we might be tied with the US though.

Can I get a review of my cats?

You wish to enter CAT BATTLE 2020!? CHOOSE YOUR FIGHTER!!!

  1. PUMPKIN! Clearly very much needs to headbutt. A specialist in the arena. She hasn't been pet recently. Fix it. FIX IT. 12/10 for technique.
  2. NOVA! Her fang attacks are more effective than headbutts, even if less commonly used. You get more pets with nuzzles than nips. 12/10 for music taste.
  3. MR SMAUG! Clearly this cat's skin condition can't stop him being a speed demon. He did it all for the locusts. Gecko Theft Auto. 12/10 for peepers.

In summary. All of these cats are winners. Extra treats and pets for all. ESPECIALLY MISTER SMAUG.

The wonders of baconated grapefruit.

Do you mean two grapefruit stacked one on top of the other with cheese slices in a burger bun with several slices of bacon on top, as served in international fast-food restaurant chain Wendys?

Wouldn’t you be depressed if you were a dangerous alien cat lizard and your human stopped talking to you?

Mate I'm depressed now and my human still talks to me imagine the state of THAT. ...also I mean they stopped talking to Coeurl after he ate a handful of the crew.

If I sneeze in the woods and nobody else is there to hear the sound, do I have the virus...

If you live in England, probably - the government has been gagging for you to catch it - but good luck getting a fucking test. Your nearest site might be IN the fucking woods.

Which county has the sexiest borders?

Italy. I mean. The boot is just kinda horny.

Milkshake choice if your favourite is not available

Uuuuuh... I guess... banana?

Carbonated milk with or without the pulp?

I absolutely hate that I have had to think about this. ...but never, ever with pulp.

And on that final, cursed question, I shall take my leave and ride into the sunset. Thank you for your contributions, folks. I will catch you next time.

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