Monday, December 28, 2015

Star Wars Merchandising (Or: "Disney, you suck.") (No spoilers)

Today I was in the stores, including The Disney Store.

They had action figures for most of the characters in The Force Awakens.  One was notably missing.  The main fucking character.

Her name is Rey, everything in the movie depends upon her.  I can't say much more without spoilers but, again, she's the main fucking character.  As you might imagine without her things default to:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Because that's what happens when you remove the protagonist from a story.

The Force Awakens drew heavily on Star Wars for its plot (how heavily?  Can't tell you, promised not to spoil.)  With that parallel in mind imagine her as Luke, but more important.  No damned figure.

Now this would be a problem in general but note that they were action figures.  She out actioned the people who did get figures.

Kylo Ren has two seperate figures (because it makes more money to sell two entirely different figures than sell one with a removable mask.)  Now I'm not going to insult Kylo Ren here, anyone who has seen the movie can tell you that he fills his part in the story with the utmost adequacy, but he can't hold a candle (or a triple bladed lightsaber) to Rey.

Any reasonable person, if told they could only make a figure of one of the characters of Rey or Kylo would choose Rey.  If you've seen the movie you'd kind of have to.  In fact, even if you just read a short plot summary that's the only choice you could make.

Hell, even from a "Fuck the plot, we want Cool Action Accessories!" standpoint she's got two melee weapons (one of them with historic and intrinsic value) and a blaster to Kylo's one dinky red saber.  Kylo's one dinky red saber that appears to have its power regulation somewhat fucked up (damn thing always looks like it's about to blow up and take Kylo's hand with it.)

But that wasn't the choice.  They could have made toys for both, and if they really couldn't be bothered to make one more figure than they did, they could have made one of her in place of the redundant second Kylo figure.

In fact, if anyone ought to have two figures, it's her.  Her mask is cooler and serves an actual fucking purpose.

Also of note is that you can buy her vehicle even though it's impossible to get her.  She's not just being erased, she's being erased in a way that makes the erasure unmissable.  Much more the Egyptian style of damnatio memoriae than the Roman one.  They want you to know that there was someone there, and be faced with the unmistakable fact that that person was intentionally erased with excessive animosity (remember, the bad guys were not erased, just like the Egyptians didn't chisel out those they waged genocidal war against, no the hatred necessary to do this is significantly greater than that you have for the people who killed your entire family, for only then do the Egyptians pull out the chisels.)

So, why the hell is Rey being erased from a movie that is, almost entirely, about her?

The answer is boobs.  Rey doesn't wear particularly gendered clothes so we can't talk all that much about what she presents as and nothing in the movie involves what's under them, so what we're left with is outward appearance and what sets her apart from the people who are allowed to have action figures is that she has boobs.

Stormtroopers in sensible armor (totally a thing) don't have visible boobs because: sensible armor.  Rey in clothes that involve the reason the word "cloth" is in "clothes" does have visible boobs.  From there it's a small leap for people to assume she's female unless otherwise stated (Han Solo does) and then we come the only reasonable explanation for the absence of Rey in the merchandise of Star Wars: The Story of Rey (in theaters now, available in I-Max 3D) apparently you can't have an action figure for a female character.

There's no other explanation.  There is nothing, save sexism, that can explain the absence of Rey.  The movie is her god damned story.  Of the characters in the movie she's the only one from the planet where the story starts, the only to go everywhere the story takes place, and the only one the plot fucking revolves around.

Don't get me wrong, Fin and Kung-Fu Panda Poe are great, but it's not their story.  The story begins when they end up (inadvertently, by the will of The Force, and lots of narrative handwavium as well) coming to Rey.

The reason that she was left out was that she was a boob-haver and we can't market them.

Beyond being stupid and evil, this is damnaging.

Do you want to know why Boba Fett became such a big fucking phenomenon that they ended up retconning the Clone Wars into being nothing more than the origin of Boba Fett?  (A kind of stupid an annoying origin story at that.)

He had a cool action figure.

That's it.  That's why he's so popular.

Boba Fett is The Star Wars Holiday Special personified and that thing is "Don't remind me" Anti-Canon on a level not even the Ewok movies have managed to pull off.  (For those who didn't know: Yes, there are Ewok movies.  Plural.)

In the original trilogy he does only one semi-competent thing.  Do you remember what it is?

He doesn't catch anyone, he doesn't win fights, he doesn't demonstrate combat or piloting prowess, he doesn't demonstrate a quick wit, he doesn't stop the person threatening to vaporize him with a thermal detonator, he doesn't do much of the actual work involved in his job (instead he watches Vader do it for him and acts like a spoiled entitled brat about it), he doesn't track, he show particular skills at investigation or hunting bounty.  So, do you remember what he does do?

He waits around to see if any clues turn up after everyone else leaves the scene of the crime.  Well, that's the charitable interpretation.  He could have just had his engine stall out.  But charitably he waits around, which allows him to see where the Falcon is going, calls up Vader, says, "I haven't done what you hired me to do, but how much will you pay for me to point you in the right general direction?" and that's where he stops doing anything of value.

At that point he doesn't even have a name.

In Return of the Jedi he gets a name right before he's defeated by accident by someone who doesn't even know where he is and isn't trying to beat him.

But he had a cool toy.

This created a sort of feedback loop.  People who played with the toy wanted to know more about him, to fill that need people put him in EU stories, which led to him being more popular, which led to more merchandise and people wanting to know more about him, and to fill that need her was put in more EU stories and so on.

And that's where the phenomenon came from.  He had a cool toy.

Rey doesn't have a cool toy because she doesn't have a fucking toy.

This is a problem.  A male character with two lines and less impact on the overall story than the person who said not to fire on the life-pod with not life signs in it gets a cool toy and is catapulted into being a cultural phenomenon.

A female character who one of the movies is actually fucking about is denied a toy and ... well that's where we are now.

Like I said, just think of it like leaving Luke out of original trilogy merchandising.

(Skip to 36 seconds if you want to get straight to the point.)

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Proposed Alternate Ending to "Cabin in the Woods"

For those who don't know the movie, it's a horror movie that is built on the premise that the dread gods of old will wake and destroy the world if real life renditions of horror movies are not played out exactly according to the tropes.

The people trying to get the characters to live and die the tropes are, basically, the film crew, the director is, you know, the director (heavy handed much?) and the old gods who will destroy everything if they don't get what they want are the audience.


In the end it doesn't work out, the final girl is non-final, two people survive in spite of having it explained to them that this will destroy the world, and sure enough the old gods rise.

The problem comes in that the audience isn't demanding that things happen exactly according to the same old formula, and thus the message of, "You assholes watching this are the reason the characters always suffer and die in the same way," doesn't ring true.  Audiences actually have a tendency to respond positively to innovation and change, it's the people making the films (writers, directors, producers) who want to retread the same area again and again.

Thus for it to really work out as the symbols of symbolism that symbolize things in a symbolic kind of way the responsibility for repeated mass murder (character death in horror movies) has to be taken off the shoulders of the old gods and be placed firmly on those claiming to just give the audience/gods what they want.

Will Wildman has a post about that, that and more.


At the time I wrote this:

They wouldn't have needed as much of a rewrite as you suggest to shift the blame from the audience to the creators.
She doesn't kill him. Scene of the god rising is omitted. Added closing monologue:
We waited for the old gods to rise and kill the world, they never did. The gods were appeased and the world went on. In installations around the world the Directors were faced with explaining why they had been committing mass murder. Some argued that the results were somehow close enough and maintained their positions. Others were fed to the beasts they once controlled.
Life went on. The old gods continued to watch us in their slumbers, but they hardly stirred when the sacrifice wasn't made.
But better written, because stuff.


I kind of wanted to try my hand at that again, thus this post.

Dana is the narrator here:


My hand was shaking as I pointed the gun at Marty, but the more I tried to think about it, the more I realized I'd already made my choice.  The people who worked here were monsters, much more so than the creatures they used.  Now I was being asked to become one of them.  Preform a human sacrifice to save the world.

My finger never went near the trigger.

I lowered the gun.  We'd face whatever came, and if humanity did fall we'd go down fighting, not as colluders.

Marty's look of relief changed to horror as he saw something behind me.  Together we fought off the werewolf and then waited for the apocalypse to begin.

It didn't.

At first I thought that it had all been a lie.  The gods were a way for the director and her workers to avoid taking personal responsibility for the murders they got some kind of perverse joy out of committing.

Then some lower level workers came to us, and showed us the truth.  The gods were real, and they were sleeping just fine.  Better than they had in decades even.  That changed everything for those workers, and they were ready for revolution.

Maybe the gods just wanted a story, maybe they'd been waiting for something new, maybe they liked sleeping or had no desire to destroy the world.

Whatever the case, they weren't rising to kill the world, which meant the sacrifices, all the sacrifices, had been unnecessary.  Around the world the directors of the various facilities had hard questions to answer.  Why did they insist on killing people when it wasn't needed?  Why had they tricked their employees into becoming accomplices in repeated, unnecessary, mass murders?  Where had the whole five archetypal sacrifices idea come from anyway?

Some directors were able to argue that the failed sacrifices were, collectively, close enough, and thus avoid being dethroned or worse.  But not here.

The workers who showed us the truth offered us a place in their uprising, a chance to avenge our fallen friends.  We were there to see as the overseers of these sick proceedings, not just the director but everyone who had been in charge, had to face the underlings they'd turned into murderers with their lies about the fate of the world along with the monsters they usually unleashed on innocents.

The world went on, the sun came up, the sun went down, and the gods continued to be monitored.  But those who had fed their own bloodthirsty urges by pretending the sacrifices were what the gods wanted were brought to a manner of justice.  Granted it was one as twisted as they were, but since they had all of the power on their side those opposing them had to use every tool available.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Apocalypse is not an interesting or credible villain (X-Men)

For some reason the trailer for X-Men that played before Star Wars: The Force Awakens just popped into my head.

It's easy to pick on the makers of X-Men.  Marvel may be the people who said, "We've made a movie in which the Winter Soldier barely appears and has so little bearing on the plot he could easily be removed and replaced with Henchman 19 without changing anything that matters, why don't we call it The Winter Soldier?" but they just own X-Men in general, not the movie rights to X-Men in particular.  The people who actually make the X-men movies saw the above and decided that fucking with the audience via titles wasn't enough.

Sure, they did fuck with the audience via titles by using the title "Days of Future Past" and then not delivering it, but they seriously had this be the keystone on which their plot was built:
This mutant's power specifically, emphatically, and in all other definitive final-word-on-the-subject ways does NOT involve gaining the powers of others, so we'll say that getting her power will allow ... that thing it doesn't remotely do, don't make me write it out again. 
But this other mutant, who is a fan favorite, and is in one of the versions of the thing we're stealing the title from, does have the exact power we want, couldn't we, you know... 
NO!  We cannot under any circumstances allow the movie to make sense, so fuck you very much for even suggesting that logic be allowed in the same room as it.
Like I said, it's easy to pick on them.

But the problem with X-Men: Apocalypse is actually something that isn't their fault or their doing.  It's a problem with the character himself.

Apocalypse can't be killed.  So he's sort of like Wolverine in that regard.  The thing is, he is unlike Wolverine when it comes to claws, non-immortality related powers in general, morals, ambition, and amnesia.  He doesn't have claws, he does have a whole host of other powers, he lacks morals, and he's got a metric fuckton of ambition.  Since he lacks amnesia he can draw on the thing that Wolverine is always unable to tap: past experience.

There's one other, very important, difference: He's older.

He's at least five thousand years old.  The first writing systems hadn't been finalized when he was born and he predates the first actual alphabet by thousands of years.  Granted it's sort of the minimal allowable plural, but still, it's a lot and in the absence of a dual form in English that is the correct way to say it.

In all of that time, he's never succeeded.  Yes, he was worshipped as a god, but any given Roman Emperor did a better job on that front.  So did ... oh god, where do we start?  Egypt, China, and Japan all jump to mind but let's be provincial for a bit.

Macedonia was a nothing place that no one gave a shit about.  Alexander the Great managed to go from being the semi-disputed heir of that tiny little nothing kingdom to become the ruler of everything in the general vicinity.  Not just all of Greece but also places like Egypt and Persia; more territory than a provincial Macedonian probably ever imagined existed.  And he was god of the whole damn thing.

Alex wasn't a mutant.  He was a mundane human kid.  When he started at least.  By the time he died he was 32, which places all of his conquests in a 12 year period.  Of course we might want to point out that he did some take-over-the-world shit under his father, so note that he started his own (successful as far as anyone in the region was concerned) bid for world domination with about 6 years worth of experience due to the time he served during his father's reign.

Apocalypse, remember, has had over four hundred and sixteen times as long to accomplish ... anything.  He hasn't succeeded yet.

Ok, he maybe managed to slip in the legend of his four super-powered hench-people (on a perpetual rotation with a high turnover rate because he's completely incapable of picking lackeys who can get the job done) into an acid-trip story written in figured speech by someone living in exile on Patmos, but there's not a telapath the X-Men have ever met who couldn't have done a significantly better job than he did and done it in a matter of seconds.

So it's possible that he did a nothing project and still came out with a D- grade.  That D- on one project when he was given more than four hundred times as long to accomplish something as it took Alex the Awesome to increase the size of his kingdom upwards of forty fold.  How far upward?  Depends on exactly how you define things.

Now maybe we could give Apoc some slack by saying that he was waiting for the opportune moment, though if you're waiting more than a thousand years for that it really feels like you're afraid to do shit rather than you're actually a canny mutant waiting for your time to strike.

But, say he did.  We come to problem number two.  The less time he's spent actually trying (and utterly failing) to do anything worthy of note, the more time he's spent gaining experience that would be put to use in his efforts.  This is somewhat cancelled out by the fact that what Apocalypse is best at is sleeping (he's like a cat without the ability to boss people around.  He sleeps and fails to get people to wait on him) but we'll get to that.

For a moment pretend that Apocalypse isn't the Marvel universe equivalent of the God of Sloth, less the power to encourage sloth in others because Apocalypse seriously couldn't pull that off if his life depended on it (which it never would because: Immortal.)

So say that Apocalypse was waiting for the opportune moment and didn't choose to strike until civilization was at its weakest.  In that case he'd start with three hundred times as much experience as Alex and still have upwards of two hundred and sixty six times as long to get the job done.

Thus far he hasn't even gotten the job started.

And that's the problem, in a nutshell.

He's been ambitious for 5000 or more years.  When he started out there was literally no one who could compete with him, he's had cults full of followers, and yet he's still managed to accomplish less than a provisional meeting of the student council special committee on the possibility of referendum to make a non-binding statement of the quality of the cafeteria food.

People have tried to solve this by giving him more followers* or more powers** or more intelligence*** in hopes that "Please, please can he be scary now?" but every time they do this they just make him that much more pathetic.  Seriously, pathetic.  I wish I were joking.  You almost feel sorry for the shithead.

People have talked about certain privileged people as being born on third base and thinking they hit a triple.  That analogy doesn't work for Apocalypse though.  If we stick to baseball for our analogies, he started out in game four of the world series after being undefeated from the preseason up through this seemingly final game, with a score of ninety million to zip in the ninth inning with two outs and two strikes against the opposing team leaving him potentially one pitch, definitely one out, away for utter perfection and then finished with the worst record in all of baseball leaving everyone scratching their heads and saying things like, "How is it even possible to score negative points?"

Given what Apocalypse has going for him, it seems like he would need to be trying (very, very, very hard) to accomplish as little as he has.  It would seem like he'd have to be someone who was so afraid of infringing on free will that they didn't allow themselves to do anything.  It would seem like he'd have to have the exact opposite of ambition.  Any one of his powers should make it so that he'd be able to overpower out the entire heroes gallery of the Marvel universe without even trying, so you'd think he'd have to be trying not to do that.

But he isn't.  He's trying, and failing, to do shit.

As creators try and make Apocalypse more of a threat by making him more overpowered they just end up making him more laughable.  He's smarter than Lex Luthor but can't accomplish shit.  Lex Luthor might not be able to take over the world, but he's accomplished a hell of a lot (including curing cancer.)

But it's not just that.

He's smarter than Lex Luthor, has powers greater than Superman, skills and tech better than Batman, experience and contacts to overshadow Ra's al Ghul, and so forth and he still can't accomplish shit?  Are we sure this isn't just Marvel trolling DC by creating a character that's all of DC's heroes and villains put together, except without any of their weaknesses, that can't ever accomplish anything in the Marvel universe (unless it's in a timeline that will collapse in on itself because Apocalypse sucks so damned much if he ever succeeds, even for a little while, even if it was entirely not his own doing, it will result in the entire universe he had success in being erased from history because the fucking multiverse itself thinks that Apocalpyse is too sucky to be allowed to win even in an alternate timeline)?

Read up on Apocalypse's powers and he's basically everything DC's overpowered heroes and villains had going for them, put together, and yet he never, ever wins.  It doesn't take the X-Men to stop him, recall; he's been on a loosing streak for 5000 years.

The only thing that he's ever managed to not fuck up is the naps he takes.  (I told you we'd get back to them.)  See whenever his losing gets to be too much he goes and cries himself to sleep and stays unconscious for a few centuries.  A few centuries here or there is hardly anything for someone with a life as long as his, so it makes sense that he's able to fit in a few naps except, wait... he shows up in X-Men because he failed at napping.

This particular "I'll try and sleep away my massive inadequacies," session was cut short and he woke up to find that the only thing he'd ever been good at (staying asleep) had been robbed from him just so that he could lose repeatedly to a bunch of upstarts from the local accommodationist faction of the super power civil rights movement.

For all of his massive list of powers, the only one that seemed to work was the power to sleep, and he enters the X-Men time frame when at long last even that fails him.

He's not a threat to the word.  He's a napper.  An incompetent napper.

Strip away all of the ridiculousness, though, including the fact that all he can do is nap, and the problem's very simple:

He's been trying to do stuff for 5000 years.  He hasn't succeeded in much of anything.

Magneto is a credible threat because he's a relatively new player.  When he first appeared in X-Men he was a nuclear terrorist they'd never met before.  Completely credible threat.  He's trying, and succeeding, at taking over a nuclear missile base.  He's never tried before, which means he has no history of failure.  If instead it had been the five hundredth time, and each of those times he'd failed without the X-Men intervening, then it would have been farce.  It would have been understandable if the X-Men had taken the day off and gotten popcorn ready for the inevitable news report on Magneto's failure.

As things developed Magneto was retconned into being a holocaust survivor who had been a good friend of Professor X until they went their separate ways because Magneto (rightly based on the glimpses of the future we get) didn't trust the non-mutants to not have a new holocaust with mutants as the new scapegoats.

Still credible, but now also interesting.  He's still new to the scene, relatively speaking, as he and Xavier worked together long enough to become the closest of friends.  He's been working on the side of "bad" for about as long as the X-Men have been working on the side of good, his failures can be attributed to them (meaning that if they let down their guard, even a little, he'll probably tip the balance and win) and he has in fact had successes.

It's possible to believe that he can win, he has interesting motivations, his fears are not entirely unfounded, his methods may go too far, but the X-Men seem to end up not going far enough (see every fucking time we get a vision of the future), and so we're left with an interesting narrative and an actual threat.

In comparison, Apocalypse is pure, unadulterated, farce.

Apocalypse, even if her weren't farcically overpowered, has been on the job for 5000 years and for the vast majority of that time there were no X-Men to oppose him.  It didn't matter, he still didn't win.  There would have to be something new strange and different this time around to think the X-Men were even needed.  Even if they were needed it would be difficult to believe that they'd have to actually put much effort into it.  But here's the thing: there's never anything new.

Thousands of years ago Apocalypse already had an understanding of all science ever that exceeds what we know today.  A) Didn't help. B) That means that he's unlikely to have a breakthrough (yet) that turns him from not-threat into threat.  He's been farcically overpowered forever.  Even if he grabbed onto the all powerful McGuffin of Plot Device it would be a drop in the bucket of his powers and thus make no difference.

He might form a new cult, but he's had followers before and they were all notably less successful than the Cult of Baltar.  Him organizing is same old, same old.

Get new high powered help?  Been there done that.  They're called the horsemen and they've never helped before.

Apocalypse has been around too long without meaningfully changing meaning that whatever he does and whenever he does it the soundtrack is "Deja Vu" by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young and the tagline is, "All this has happened before, and will happen again."

Basically the only way Apocalypse could be a credible or interesting villain is if he stopped being Apocalypse.

One way to do this would be for him to stop being farcically overpowered and as a result start taking things more seriously.  If he weren't immortal and nigh omnipotent maybe he'd put his super-powered SCIENCE! to work doing shit that could actually change his losing streak.  Or maybe he'd set his sights lower, Apocalypse might be hopeless when it comes to leaving any kind of mark on history save a near footnote in the trippy writings of a single writer, but he'd be downright scary if he tried to leave a mark on a single city, and terrifying if he set himself to the task of going after a single person.

Another way to do it would be to have Apocalypse stay farcically overpowered but become a different person.  Amnesia, soul transplant, possession, super power musical chairs, whatever.  Anyone who didn't have Apocalypse's curse to never accomplish anything of note ever that got a hold of his powers would be ... well, the stars would tremble, the earth would submit, the angels in heaven would bow their heads, and most gods would have to admit they were outclassed.

But it wouldn't have to be someone with ambition.  Someone who didn't want to use the powers but didn't know how to control them would be just as big of a threat to everything.

There's any number of thing you can do by using Apocalypse, but Apocalypse himself just doesn't work.  Unless there's a sudden revelation that Apocalypse is the sea people and it's retconned that that was the only time he was awake before he wakes up in the next X-Men movie (in which case how did John of Patmos know?  not that that ever made sense in the first place) then Apocalypse is the extremely powerful god of doing nothing all day and then sleeping.  Unless you have a powerful reason to want him not to get his beauty sleep, all you need to do is stay out of his way and you'll be set.

He'll find a way to loose on his own.  He always does.  It's the one constant of the universe; more immutable than the speed of light through a vacuum.

Which is why he's not a credible threat.


* The horsemen, cults, and secret societies, oh my!

** Complete control over his body at a molecular level, new physical abilities whenever he feels like it, wings, regeneration from a single drop of blood, every physical superhuman power ever, soaks up and re-purposes energy rather than being harmed by it, immune to all diseases, able to survive in any environment, telepathy, telekenesis, and so on.

*** He's the best physicist, engineer, geneticist, and biologist on earth.  He's augmented himself to be able have weapons pop put of his limbs, be jet propelled by his own body, and interface directly with any technology rather than use your provincial user interface and input/output systems.  He understands the advanced predecessor alien technology better than anyone else.  He's a master strategist.  He can out demagogue the most demogoguey Republican politician!

Monday, December 21, 2015

On a bus with bigots

The black woman in front of me was being moderately inconsiderate about the volume at which she was speaking on the phone.

The random white dude three rows further forward was a complete ass with how he responded to that.

At first it seemed like an acrimonious back and forth between a moderately inconsiderate person on the phone and an asshole who decided to be really rude under cover of fighting rudeness and break the rules about being loud under cover of taking it upon himself to enforce the rules about loudness.

And then he started being a veiled racist while she started being an overt homophobe and transphobe.  (Note, no evidence random white dude was gay or gender non-conforming, she just thought that since he was bad he must be an effeminate gay guy.)

And both of them chose to do this wondrous escalation dance when the driver was occupied with the trickiest part of the driving in the hour we'd been on on the bus and thus couldn't spare the attention to get them to shut the fuck up.

Of course the reason that the driving required more attention was that we were nearing a stop and thus at the stop the bullshit could be dealt width but fuck was it impossible to be sympathetic with anyone involved.

Thinly veiled racism vs. not at all veiled homophobia and transphobia.

And the kicker is that the racist asshole was one row from back from the driver meaning all that had to happen was for the racist asshole to say to the driver, "There's a woman having a long loud conversation that's bothering me," and boom, everything dealt with without us ever coming to learn that he's a racist asshole or she's homophobic and transphobic.

This moment in my life brought to you be Greyhound: "We're not the best, but we're the only people going where you need to go that don't overbook our buses as a matter of policy."


And just to make sure that we didn't forget, as soon as the driver was off the bus at the next stop (driver has to be off to help departing passengers get their luggage and check that incoming passengers actually have tickets) the homophobe, noticing that this was racist's stop, had to call out loud enough for all the bus to hear:
"Bye gay, with your faggot ass.  Bye Fag!"

Oh joy.

Note that being on the bus isn't always like this.  Usually isn't.  But sometimes... some fucking times.

Please be my unpaid research team: Food in the afterlife

Anyone who eats in the Greek underworld is stuck there, with some wiggle room if your mother will let the world burn if you're not released.  Even then the underworld has at least partial custody of you.

That's the only thing I know about eating in the afterlife.  My story in question has an unspecified generic-ish afterlife, but there's Scandinavian and Germanic magic involved so if either of those places has some sort of land of the dead food folklore then I'd like to know about it.  Also anything about drinking.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Various movies Star Wars things should have been

The Force Awakens is what we shall spoil first because it will make the most possible people not read this post and that's how you drive traffic (away.)

Photon points out that the super weapon could have been removed from the movie entirely and changed virtually nothing.

Even if The First Order weren't a galactic threat Leia would likely be involved in The Resistience because of the family ties involved and a misplaced belief that she's to blame.  Fin would still want to rescue Rey because she's the first person to look at him as a person, and Han would because he felt the connection he had with Rey.

Basically everything ends up happening in the exact same way.

That's, honestly, too little of a change.

I've already mentioned that Han, Chewie and Rey: Galactic Smuggling and Salvage would be a completely awesome and utterly watchable thing.

The First Order maintains control by stealing people as infants and constantly brainwashing them.  Fin likely isn't even close to the only one who wants out of that loveless shitty enviroment.  Speaking of shit, he works on the guidance sanitation system.

What if the way he got the sheilds down was to show up, say "Hey guys, I found a way out and all you have to do is help us break stuff, and we know how easily stuff breaks given that we're the ones who always have to fix it.

So they get to the important whatever room by rerouting the sewage flow so it backs up into said rooms attached bathroom and the people working in high clearance only area abandon their posts because they don't want to be ankle deep in shit.  Then the good guys can just walk in and do what they will.

"We need to do work in this area."

"You're a sanitation worker, you don't have clearance to -- What the fuck is that smell!"

"I warned you.  You know if you'd just granted us access to to section G6-B last week this whole thing could have been avoided, but no: you had do do the whole 'Restricted area' nonsense."

"Just get in here and fix... oh my god!"

"Honestly, as sludge flows go that's relatively tame."

Bad guys run away, good guys have unfettered access.

. . .

Star Wars: The Sanitation Workers

But beyond that, they keep on brainwashing people to keep them loyal.  What about a prison break --or a high speed prison-transport break where they free dissenting workers on the way to a reeducation camp?

Save the stormtroopers who don't want to be storm troopers.

Also since they're all kidnapped as infants, what about a more basic rescue mission?  "I don't care about your politics, I'm, just here to get by brother back."

Moving from stormtroopers to scavengers.  So staying in S here.

If they hadn't been a community of such assholes I could totally watch a whole series of stuff about scavengers who live in a given place because the remnants of a space ship battle are there and the ships haven't been picked clean yet.  First installment could be overthrowing the assholes there in movie and setting up some sort of shared collective where they all got their fair share.

When you first see a piece of an incomplete map to Luke you get the impression that this is going to be Star Wars: The Search for Luke which will involve scouring the galaxy for evidence of Luke, totally a movie worth of stuff there.  It's basically the whole scavenger hunt race thing that's done so often.

- - -

Let's talk about Episode 1.  Not what the original trilogy had to say about it, what was actually there.

Anakin was a slave.  Given that Republic credits don't count for shit on Tatooine an argument can be made that the Republic didn't have sway there and thus couldn't prevent it, but consider the story suggested:

Idealistic slave gains freedom, has to leave home (but promises to return) and is trained to use incredible magic
? ? ? ? ?
Same person, now an adult, will cross whatever moral lines it takes to defend the empire.

What's the most reasonable way to connect point A to point B.

The (future) emperor comes to Anakin and points out that for all his training he still hasn't been able to fulfill his original quest: to set his mom free.

The problem is the sluggish and corrupt government.  If they work together they can take over and end slavery everywhere.  Poverty too.  Hunger, homelessness.  They can make a better galaxy.

Sure, it'll involve some self sacrifice, maybe you won't be able to sleep at night so well and looking in the mirror won't be your favorite thing to do, but is your ability to sleep at night more important than the freedom of all those slaves.

It'll be much easier to get things through committee when the dissenting  voices are dead.

Then Star Wars would be set in an apparently utopian post scarcity society, except that, you know, dissenting voices are killed off, getting rid of the Jedi means strong restrictions on religious practices.  And you come to realize that seeming utopia is really, really not utopia when it comes to things like freedom of speech, press, and religion.

Probably a surveillance state with no privacy whatsoever and draconian punishments.

But some of the people on the rebel side would be people who just want to go back to the days when they had slaves.

- - -

The Clone Wars

Just think about that.  Would you clone one random bounty hunter?  No, you'd clone all the great military strategists, you'd clone your best sniper to be all your snipers, you best rifleman to be you riflemen, your best ...

Your best wizards to be your damned embedded Jedi.

Your best star-fighter pilot to be a star-fighter pilots.  (Well, you'd clone your best [fighter name] pilot to pilot all your [fighter name]s.)

You'd have lots of models of people cloned.  And you'd have six versions of Alexander the Great standing around a table working together to create the best strategy for using your infantry on such and such planet against superior numbers with that river over there in the way.

If plucky heroes kept on foiling your damned plans you'd get some DNA and brain scans and unleash armies of those same plucky heroes on your enemies.

It would be a confuddled mess (a word so unsure and mixed up it doesn't know if it's confused or befuddled) but it would be interesting.  Which the actual Clone Wars movie was not.

- - - 

There were other thoughts and other things, but I'm not doing the best job at keeping thoughts in my head.

An even more spoiling spoilery post on my reactions to The Force Awakens.

So, again, damned spoilers be here.

This is basically a play by play of what happened and my reaction to it.

Opening crawl tells us things like the fact that there are now three factions in the galaxy: The New Republic, the New Empire The First Order, and The Resistance.  We aren't given any decent details, but it appears to work like this: The First Order took over evil duties of evil, rebel alliance split into two groups: The New Republic is a governing body that pays attention to governance and uses it's military to protect its territory which happens to include The Resistance strongholds, The Resistance actively opposes The First Order.

So The First Order and the New Republic aren't technically at war, but The New Republic is a state sponsor of terrorism and the terrorists in question are used to count on their ability to hide behind The New Republic's military so it's effectively an undeclared war in which The New Republic's military is divided into the official defensive military and unofficial, autonomous, offensive military of The Resistance.

Got all that?  Good.

Luke disappeared and Leia, resistance general, sent her best pilot to find the only clue that's turned up in the time since he disappeared.

Already I'm throwing up a bit of a "whut?" because why would you send your best pilot on a mission to make contact with an informant.  Why not top spy or most trusted aide?

But ok, that's what happens and instead of a mere clue it happens to be a map piece that makes no sense which shows exactly where Luke went but because it doesn't show where he started (I think it's trying to be the map with no names from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where once you find the point of origin the map is extremely useful) and is the only piece of the puzzle either side is lacking.  Though The Resistance don't realize they don't have the rest of the puzzle because plot.

What makes no sense about the map is that it covers too large of an area of the frequently traversed from end to end galaxy for it to be believably uncharted and it's showing Luke's course in spite of no one but Luke knowing what that course was.

It could have made sense.  After being repeatedly stolen by a variety of people, the Millennium Falcon ended up on the same planet, so it could easily have been that, while Luke's whereabouts were secret he transmitted his journey to the Falcon where it was stored on some secret encrypted hard drive or other but, due to the Falcon being stolen, the right people never managed to look it up.  The movie's droid could have had the keys needed to open the encryption.

Thus the clue could have been an actual clue, a lead on the whereabouts of the Falcon.

Or, alternatively, the planet in question is filled with scavengers because there was a battle there, leaving random spaceships all around for people to pick shit out of.  The empire already has much of the map, so maybe maybe some of the imperials who had been involved in the battler had been tracking Luke, explaining why they had much of the map, they never transmitted it until the ship was going down because they were afraid the rebels would find Luke if they did, but one of the vital pieces got separated at the time of the transmission thus the final puzzle piece that drives the plot.

I like the Falcon as the macguffin more, though.

Regardless, old guy who you wonder if he's someone you're supposed to remember from the original trilogy (he's not) hands off the map to the hotshot pilot and then stormtroopers come and kill everyone except for one who apparently tries to comfort one of his colleagues when he/she dies and then doesn't do any shooting.

Guy with the scary lightsaber (as in I'm pretty sure it functions the way it does specifically to be scary because I see no way that the ripply pulsing blade could actually be more useful than a normal one) Kills the old guy himself.

The droid is sent to hide in the desert for safety, the pilot is captured.  They search him with a pat down.  Seriously.  Don't they have technology on the level of those wands at airport security?

Cut to female lead, Rey.  I was totally ready to love the character the moment of her introduction just because she's a scavenger who is looking around a crashed star destroyer for useful parts.  Very little in the movie gave me reason to like her less and she is the awesome.

 She goes to a scavenger place and trades her goods for a food ration and it appears that she's being shortchanged.  Back at home she rescues the droid from someone who wants to use it for parts.

Pilot, Poe the Kung Fu Panda, is interrogated.  The torture technology doesn't work, but evil guy, Kylo Ren, uses the force to pull the information from Poe's mind.

Wait, what?  They can do that?  I honestly don't have much of a problem with the idea but given that Ren apparently can't live up to his grandfather Vader (Ren is Han and Leia's son) then . . . if this ability is possible why didn't Vader use it on Leia in the original Star Wars?  Either he would have gotten the location of the Rebel Base or he would have learned that Leia's a potentially powerful force user.  Either way, win for the forces of evil.

Ok, but that happens, which means that the bad guys now know they're looking for a droid, as well as what type of droid they're looking for. Poe is left in the interrogation room.

The Stormtrooper who didn't kill anyone shows up, bluffs his way into taking Poe with him and they steal a tie fighter.  Why?  The stormtrooper wants to run away but he can't fly.  Poe is a pilot, they need each other.  On the way out the stormtrooper is given a name, Fin, which he never had before because he was taken from his family as an infant and refered to exclusively by his serial number,

He also demonstrates a total lack of concern for the lives of his colleagues who might, just like him, be waiting for an opportunity to run away.  His total lack of conflict over killing swaths of the people he grew up with will persist throughout the movie.

Fin and Poe end up crashing on the planet.  Fin separates himself from his ejector seat and runs to the smoking remains of the tie fighter which may or may not contain Poe.  (It doesn't.)  The tie fighter sinks into the lighting sand which burps after devouring it.  Ain't fire swamp random desert grand?

Fin assumes Poe is dead even though if he had an ejector seat wouldn't it make sense that the pilot did too?  Regardless, he does get Poe's coat.

The droid has taken to following Rey around and people try to buy it and steal it from her.  During one of those attempts Fin sees Rey up against superior numbers, goes to help, but she's kicked ass before he gets there.  The droid recognizes Poe's coat, Rey chases Fin down and whacks him with her preferred weapon (a big metal stick) but he manages to convince her that he was with Poe (true) and he's with The Resistance (false.)

At which point the imperials First Order arrive.  Apparently the droid, in spite of being a model everyone can recognize, has a one of a kind appearance which is why whenever they go anywhere everyone immediately knows that it is the droid they're looking for.

Fin is very grabby, instead of just saying, "Run," and demonstrating by example, he always grabs Rey by the hand.  This pisses her off greatly (she even points out that she's fully capable of running without some jerk holding her hand.)

They try to get to a ship to outrun the bad guys, Fin asks what about another, off screen, ship and Rey tells him it's a piece of junk.  Intended ship blows up.  "The junk will do."

The junk is, of course, the Falcon.  And here we get our first hints that Rey is in tune with the force.  She's a pilot, but she's never flown anything like the Falcon before yet it comes to her as if by magic.  Fin meanwhile has to stumble through learning how to use the Falcon's guns in spite of just learning how to use an extremely similar system which he had found wasn't that different from the on the ground shooting he'd been trained in doing.

A nice touch as there's a battle going on is that we see one of the tie fighters shot down and scavengers immediately going to collect the fresh wreckage.

Soon after they get away, they're caught in a tractor beam and assume they'll be boarded by stormtroopers.  It's Han and Chewie.

Han and Rey operate on the same wavelength to the point of finishing each other's sentences while Chewie seems to like her too.  (And she can understand wookie-speak perfectly)

Han's luck has gotten worse since the original trilogy.  Remember when his debt to Jabba the Hut was the only major fuck up hanging over his head?

Well for this job he's double booked with people who don't like him very much on account of his past failures, and the acquiring the deadly cargo he's got (so he did in fact get the job done) ended up killing off the larger crew he had been working with leaving it so it's just him and Chewie again.

Both of the people he's working for show up.  The droid is noticed as the one the bad guys want, and things seem like they're going extremely badly.

Rey and Fin are in hiding in a service area under the walkway where the confrontation is taking place.  Pulling fuses would trap both gangs but ... wrong fuses, oops.  The creatures of doom escape and both gangs end up getting what they paid for, if not in the form they wanted it.  All of our intrepid heroes flee Han's not-falcon ship for the Falcon.

Chewie was wounded which led to the first time in all the time he's known Chewie that Han used Chewie's weapon.  Which... huh?  Even disregarding all of the myriad reasons this makes no sense, it's a fucking energy crossbow.  How do you spend decades living with an energy crossbow as close to you as your best friend and never once think, "Energy crossbow sounds at once nonsensical and extremely cool, I should really try it at least once.

Han is very impressed with Chewie's weapon.

On the bad guy side we finally learn who Ren is when the news of the droid being on the Falcon with Han Solo reaches The First Order via one of the people pissed off at Han who didn't get eaten by the cargo.  Ren has some qualms, he can feel the lightside within him trying to get out.  He asks the beat up helmet of Darth Vader (remember, Vader was cremated while wearing that helmet) for help in quashing said feelings.  This is a weird kind of ancestor worship.  Vader was redeemed at the end so apparently he's trying to call out not to Vader but the idea of Vader before said redemption.

Notable that Star Wars has a thing with helmets.  In the prequels when Boba Fett's dad is decapitated the head goes one way while the helmet another.  Young Boba goes to the helmet.

Anyway, back to the good guys.

With Chewbacca injuried, Rey takes over as copilot and there's even more evidence that she and Han are in sync with each other and she'd be perfect working on the Falcon.

Anyway, Han claims that the Falcon, now that it's in the air/in space, is easy to track (note how quickly he found it) and thus takes the to Bespin someplace we've never heard of so Lando someone we've never heard of can procure them a ship that's less easy to track.

The only way to make sense of this is that Han was lying his ass off and just wanted to be rid of the kids in a way that wouldn't get them killed.  The Millennium Falcon is actually hard to track without a tracking beacon (how it was tracked in Star Wars) and in this movie they will take it to a rebel base without it being tracked there.

"Someone we've never heard" of is Maz Kanata who is an awesome character.

They have a conversation in which Fin points out that, since they just walked through a crowded establishment, The First Order will know they're there (they do, the only people who weren't called with a, "The droid is here," message were, "Random Unnamed Third Parties.)  He points out that they'll kill everyone.  He says that they should run away, very fast.

The other's aren't so big on the run away plan, which is ok, but that they're not down with the "Run" part of the plan is a different matter entirely.  It's ok to disagree on direction, but they should be with him on velocity.  They should totally be running, they aren't and they don't.

Of course them not running allows for an important force experience.  Maz Kanata has Luke Skywalker's original Saber (the one Obi Wan took from Anakin to give to Luke) in an unlocked box.  I really want to know if she also has Luke's severed hand.  Why?  I don't know.  I just do.

The saber calls to Rey, and she goes down to the room in which it is kept, opens the box, and then has a force induced vision when she touches it.

As I said in the other post, I think I can see what's going on here, but the movie never even tries to make sense of it.

What makes sense is that after Maz got it, however she got it, she's been leaving it in a secluded but easy to access part of her establishment and waiting for someone to come and find it.  She's been waiting on this precise moment.  Why didn't she give it to Solo given that it did belong to his friend?  Because if Solo were meant to have it the saber would have called to him and he'd have found it on his own.

Unfortunately the visions terrify Rey and she runs away.  Way too much of the rest of the movie will be spent with everyone in the audience thinking, "Can we just get Rey the fucking lightsaber already?"

This is when the super weapon of the movie is used.  It fires an incredibly slow beam that somehow (it must speed up when we're not looking) manages to blow up planets in another system.  It takes out the seat of government of the New Republic, definitely wipes out the senate and most of the fleet, and probably decapitates the entire government.  So that's fun.  This is visible from wherever the hell Maz lives.

Fin, moments away from leaving on a ship to the outer rim as part of his "run and hide" plan, runs to Han to tell him exactly what happened.  Fin worked on the weapon, you see.  Given that the weapon is made out of a gutted planet, a lot of people worked on the weapon.

The bad guys come, Maz entrusts the saber to Fin to give to Rey.  Not a bad idea because after Rey gets captured (what with her being defenseless against a petulant darkside user with an overcompensating lightsaber.)

Maz gives Fin the lightsaber to give to Rey.  This is a very good plan.  Then he asks for a weapon and she points out he's holding one and what the fuck?  He does make use of the saber, but becomes significantly more effective once he has a blaster, which he's actually been trained to use.

Rey as noted, is unarmed.  She also has no force training.  So movie antagonist Ren has little trouble capturing her.  When he realizes that she's seen the map he just takes her and calls off the search for the droid.  Just after he's taken her, the cavelry come.

They're led by not-dead Poe.  I was expecting him to be back since there was never any reason to think he was still in the tie fighter when it sank into the sand.  You know what's great about the cavalry?  They're not all human.  They're not even mostly human.  Most of them come from a diverse set of alien races.  Finally the fighter pilot fantastic racism has ended.  Aliens in X-wings, woo!

This leads to a reunion of Leia and Han as well as a reunion of Poe and Fin.  Fin says Poe can keep the jacket.

They stand around a holographic display of the new superweapon and Han suggests just blowing it up since there's always a way to do that.  Since the superweapon functions by sucking a sun into a planet as its power source that's actually a completely reasonable thing to suggest.  Suns are bigger and hotter than planets.

Someone points out that to contain that power they must need a technobable, Fin can point to where it is.  The problem is it's sheilded.  Fin says he can take down the shield but he needs to be physically present on the planet to do so.  Han says he can get Fin there and Leia would really rather not know how he'll pull it off. with all the pieces in place Han and Leia have some reconciliation (after their son turned evil and killed off whatever other non-Luke Jedi might have been in training, Leia and Han split, Luke ran away, and things have been kind of crap.)

Rey resists force interrogation which leads to Ren realizing that she's extremely strong in the force and leads to Rey getting into better touch with her forceyness.  Add to this that she's a total fangirl of this stuff and it'll let her escape, but first Ren reports to his dark master the giant Gollum (because, what with this being a long time ago, Gollum hasn't fallen into mount doom yet) that the girl is really damned strong and he'll need master's help.

Master says, "Sure, bring her to me."  Also, since they let the droid get away it is assumed that The Resistance probably has the map and that's bad.  In one of the conversions before this he said, "There's been an awakening, have you felt it?" which... no.  Nope.  Didn't happen.  No.

If it had then the whole focus on the importance of Luke would make perfect sense.  Jedi training as seen in the original trilogy works fast.  So maybe the force just has some kind of Jedi to Jedi mind connection going on during training.  So if there had been an awakening and there were all of these force users but no one to train them, but if someone did train them they could quickly become a superpowered army for good, then it would make sense.

The resistance wants Luke because he'll be able to give their force users the guidance they use to actually put their powers to use, the bad guys want a lack of Luke because most people are not all that enamored with the idea of evil and probably most of their stormtroopers justify their actions to themselves via appeals to the greater good or some such instead of the embrace of evil that it takes to really be a dark sider.  Thus the awakened force users are very much Republic/Resistence Skewed and all they need is a Jedi to mind meld with link to train them.

That would make all of this make sense, as the last Jedi Luke is the last one who can super-quick-train people.

Granted that is entirely new bullshit that isn't attested elsewhere, but it's entirely new bullshit that could fill some plotholes while contradicting nothing.

Back to Gollum, who might actually be normal sized given that all we ever see is a hologram of him.

So we've got, "The girl with the information we need is really strong in the force, bring her to master," and, "The Resistance probably has the same information by now, that's bad."  Proposed solution is to simply blow up the resistance.  And, points to the script on why everyone is trying to blow everyone else up at the exact same time.

The resistance responded to the New Republic seat of power getting blown up by wondering, "What the fuck was that?" so they located the superweapon (it eats suns, so it's not hard to find) and sent a reconnaissance vessel to gather what data they thought they could get away with getting.  It wasn't much, but apparently it was too much because the reconnaissance vessel was spotted and tracked back to the rebel base.  Thus the same trip that led to the rebels --excuse me, The Resistance-- learning about weapon lead to the people with the weapon learning about the Resistance.

Granted it's the same trick used in Star Wars (the ship the death star plans are on is the one they follow to the rebel base) but if you can't handle them doing the theatrical equivalent of playing Star Wars in a different key signature then the movie won't be for you because they recycled so much.

Rey, meanwhile is doing the aforementioned putting her fan-girl knowledge together with the revelation that the force is using her to escape.

It takes her three times to get the Mind Trick to work, the first two of which end up amusing and annoying to Storm Trooper, but on the third time it does work and she's loose.  And the scene works in part based on being funny, which is a very Star Wars thing to do.

Anyway, Leia asks Han to bring their son home.  Han figures he can't if Luke couldn't, Leia thinks that a father might be able to succeed where a Jedi failed.

Han, Chewie, and Fin get through the shield by waiting to come out of lightspeed until they're on the other side (the shield doesn't block light or things moving at the same pace.)  Mind you this involves slamming the Falcon into the ground, the trees, and pretty much everything else.  So you do see why the X-wings couldn't have used the same trick, they're not rugged enough and would have been destroyed on impact with nice Star Wars explosions.

At around this point Fin reveals that he worked sanitation and has no idea how to take down the shield, he was just trying to get there because that's where they'd be holding Rey.

He does, however, know who knows how to take down the shields, and that's good enough.

Mind you we do get some interesting dialog

"We'll just trust the force." - Fin after he reveals he has no idea what he's doing.
"That's not how the force works." - Han

"The longer we're here the less luck we'll have." - Han

When they get the shields down and the fighter pilots start shooting the technobabble one complains that it's not blowing up the planet while another points out that, yeah, incredibly vital component is armored so they'll have to bomb it a lot to make a difference.

After everyone meets up Fin doesn't give Rey the lightsaber because WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK.

Han realizes that the fighters need help, they have explosives, to they try to put them to good use.

[Added] And at this point Rey pulls the right fuse and gets them easy passage where they want to go. [/Added]

I loved:
Han: We'll put a charge at the bottom of every other pillar
Chewie: Wookie noise
Han: You're right, that's a better idea.

That Ren murders Han is hardly surprising.  It's really frustrating because in the brief time that they were together Han and Rey had great chemistry.  Apparently Rey noticed this because on of the things that Ren did managed to pull out of her head was the fact that she was thinking maybe Han could be the father figure she never had.

Lightsaber battles.  Fin vs Ren because what the fuck?  He loses, though not nearly as badly as you'd expect.  Never underestimate the fencing training of sanitation workers.

Rey vs Ren because we've been waiting for this the whole fucking movie.

Ren falls victim to the classic darkside blunder: he tries to convert Rey.  In the time that gives where, when he doubtless thinks she's considering her options, she manages to get a much better connection to the force with concentration and clear mindedness and all of that shit Jedi need.  So she wins.

Everybody not dead returns to their respective sides.  The story ends with Chewie and Rey taking the Falcon to find Luke.  I think Chewie prefers to be co pilot because he clearly outranks Rey on the Falcon.  Note that earlier Han had offered Rey a job with them (which would have been fucking awesome.  Han, Chewbacca, and Rey: Galactic Smuggling and Salvage.)

Fin is unconscious.

Dark master has order that Ren be brought in to complete his training.

When Luke is found Rey offers him his lightsaber with the blade side facing him.  Granted it was off, but still bad form.  Blade toward yourself, not the person you're handing it to.

And blah.

The place of arithmetic in math.

Lonespark's annoying friends on facebook made me think of this.  Before you think I'm being mean, Lonespark told me to say that.

So, arithmetic.  Mathematicians use calculators.  We don't need to add subtract, multiply or divide particularly well.  When long division becomes useful is when the things being divided aren't numbers anymore so some of us don't even bother to learn it until then.

Arithmetic is this tiny tiny part of math that we're generally not terribly concerned with, but it is vitally important.  It's like learning to be able to distinguish between letters.  Advanced literary criticism isn't about telling the difference between b, d, and q, but it's kind of a necessary foundation if you want to do advanced literary criticism.  Obviously different letters for different alphabets.  But whether it's Arabic or braille, being able to tell which letter is which is an important foundation.

Arithmetic is like that.  You get through it, you try to learn it to the point you don't have to think about it to do the basic operations, and then (hopefully) you never think of it again.

Spoilery Spoiling post in which I spoil Star Wars: The Force Awakens, spoilers

Did I mention that there will be spoilers, because there totally will be.  In a week or a month or whatever this will seem like overkill, but right now a lot of people are avoiding any news.

So, first off, I liked it.  Though it should be noted that people who are simultaneously human, female, and non-white continue to be very hard to find in Hollywood in general and in space in particular.

As near as I can tell if you want a woman of color in space in a movie you have to either have your inner Trekkie crushed to see new-Uhura or suffer through the black guy dying first and "I am a leaf on the wind, watch how I--Urk" to see Zoe.

That aside, so far aside that we totally ignore diversity or lack thereof for this paragraph, I found myself thinking that, while I did like the movie, I would have rather watched Han, Chewie, and Rey (female lead) saying, "Fuck the galaxy," and having wonderful criminal adventures together on the Falcon.

So, questions:

1 Why the hell do you think finding Luke is going to accomplish shit?  He ran away and never came back.  Everyone good and bad is assuming that finding a map to Luke will accomplish something but Luke is in SELF IMPOSED exile so severe he didn't even bring R2 with him.  Luke always brings R2 with him.  Unless you've got really fucking good reason to believe that the reason he didn't come back was that he was stranded, this is not the savior you're looking for.  Move along.

2 Why wasn't Leia trained?  Yes, she has work to do as an important leader person, but fucking designated survivor rule.  And she's already Jedi approved.

Yoda seemed convinced that if Luke went to Bespin and died/turned to the dark side Leia would be a good potential replacement (and apparently was convinced that if Luke walked into the trap it would give Leia the chance to get out regardless of what fate Luke met.)

3 They should never have transferred Fin out of sanitation.  There's no evidence that he disliked his work in sanitation, but one mission killing innocent people without decent cause and he's trying to jump ship.  This implies that their brainwashing isn't nearly as effective as they think.  I was expecting him to at least try to sway the other stormtroopers by pointing out that you don't have to do this, you can totally get out, and if it weren't for these jerks repeatedly pulling him back in he'd be beyond the bad guys' reach by now.  Why did he just remorselessly shoot the people who were just like him instead?

But rewind a bit they had the black guy be a storm trooper.  Let's think about that for a bit.  It's never been any secret that the Empire is composed of space Nazis and the name stormtrooper is a part of that.  It doesn't hearken back to the WWI units of the same name, it's all Nazi all the time.

So lets talk about the Nazi stormtroopers from which the Star Wars ones take their name.  Stormtroopers were early adopters of the whole Nazi thing to the point that other Nazi organizations looked up to them.  This was especially true in the SS who modeled their rank structure on stormtroopers and eventually took over all of the stormtrooper duties when the stormtroopers became defunct.

So when we're thinking Final Solution we're thinking SS and the SS are thinking, "Damn we wish, were stormtroopers.  We stole their ranks and their duties, but we never did get the name.  It would be so awesome if we get the name."

And this is one of those wonderful places where connotation and denotation meet and say, "That's what the word unambiguously means."

So, naturally, the black guy is a stormtrooper.  The black guy.  Our only example of a black guy.  It would have been fairly easy to have the role stormtrooper plays in the story taken by the hotshot pilot instead, and then the black guy (why was there only one?) could be in that role instead of the, "We specifically named them after white supremacist fuckheads who genocidal white supremacists want to be like," role.

4 The map: what the fuck?

The map is in two pieces, one of which is had by everyone in the galaxy except for the ones who are trying to find Luke and contains the entire fucking galaxy except for one section.

The other contains the vital endpoint and a really fucking huge section of the galaxy, the galaxy our heroes repeatedly go from one end of to the other, which is completely uncharted because WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK?

When Han said that the area on the map piece that is the plot device in the movie was uncharted I assumed that it was small.  Then we see how big a swath of the galaxy it takes up and . . . did they just fail to notice that one quadrant of their galaxy existed?

Hell, if they did then they could have said, "Well it's got to be in the uncharted section so we'll just go around there at random until we find some of the stuff on the map," and it would have worked.  The map fragment covered to large of an area for it not to work fairly quickly.

5 Is light-saber fencing an important of storm-trooper training.  Did Fin pick it up in his time at sanitation?  Or does the bad guy just really, really suck?  I was kind of annoyed (read: very fucking perturbed) that Fin didn't give Rey the lightsaber a lot sooner because, "Give the obvious fucking Jedi to-be who can apparently pull knowledge straight out of the force the god damned lightsaber already."

Fin has difficulty picking up the art of shooting shit when it's not that different from his training in shooting shit, Rey is already god damned fantastic with melee weapons (see: her and her staff) and is able to pick up, "I know how to fly a space ship," faster than Neo learned Kung Fu.  Fin should have given her the lightsaber the moment they met up with each other again.  Hell, the only reason he was carrying the lightsaber in the first place was to deliver it to her.

6 Um, about that lightsaber. . . part of me really, really wants to know if wise old alien woman with coke bottle glasses also has Luke's severed hand.  A bigger question, though, is why she didn't give some sort of explanation to the others about why Rey should be given the lightsaber.  It would have taken one line:

"I've been keeping that saber here for over three decades, waiting for it to call out to someone.  Until today no one heard a whisper, it shouted to Rey."

Ok, I used two sentences, but you get the idea.

7 People are really annoyed with the saber with the cross guard, I'm honestly not sure why.  Granted the guy who wields it can't sword-fight for shit, but if a blow were going to cut off one of the secondary sabers then with a normal saber said blow would cut off the user's arm so it's still providing more protection (where the blades of the secondary sabers are) than a normal one.  granted it would be easy to make a design without that flaw, but someone would have to hit it just right to exploit that flaw which is a lot better than, "Anywhere between the wrist and ... the entire rest of the body," we see in traditional sabers.

8 Why is our not-Sith antagonist so really, really under-trained?  Is there some rule that you have to get your ass kicked in a light-saber duel before the evil boss will teach you the fun stuff?

9 R2 woke up when he did why?

10 Han seriously didn't see the double-cross coming?  It wasn't even a double-cross, it was exactly what you'd expect.  A single cross?

Granted being completely vulnerable might be a necessary part of trying to get bad kid to turn good kid since you can't really do the whole spiel if you're trying to kill him, but surprise was totally uncalled for.

11 Did the force wake up?  Someone said, "There's been an awakening," in a pseudo title-drop but nothing in the movie really seemed to imply that.  There's one force powerful person who starts doing forcey force related stuff.  Hardly a sign that an omnipresent thing that flows from, through, and around every living thing in the entire galaxy (and possibly universe) has ended it's nap.

If the omnipresent super-powerful thing is waking up should the results be more omni and less isolated?

12 Bad guy can stop a single blaster bolt in mid air and can block shit with his saber.  Why is no one trying some laser Gatling gun on him?  Or, you know, orbital bombardment.

13 In a movie that played up the space Nazi angle so god damned much that they almost "Sieg Heil"ed and they did implement what they thought was a final solution (even if it was far less surgical in its killing than the actual final solution) why the fuck was the only black guy starting out on the Nazi side?  Yes, I know this was three too, but seriously, they really pulled out the stops on Nazi-esque imagery with, in particular, an evil rally of evil that was clearly meant to evoke, "Nazis!" in the mind of the viewer.

14 Han never tried out Chewie's crossbow before?  Seriously?  If nothing else you'd think the fact that it's a damned energy crossbow would evoke some interest given that that makes no sense and thus has high novelty factor.

15 How the fuck is Luke a threat or a hope?  The resistance doesn't seem to have an army of, "We'd be Jedi if we just had a teacher," lying about the place.  Ignore the points I raised in one about Luke being in self imposed exile and thus apparently not wanting to be found.  Say that he really wanted to return but his ship was broken and the map thing makes sense, which it doesn't.

All of the motivation and finding related plotholes disappear.

Even then, what difference does he make?  Everyone's all about saying he's game changer who will, depending on your point of view, bring salvation or destruction because as the last air-bender Jedi he can resurrect the order.  But how?

Unless Korra throws a wrench into the way things are that actually awakens the force so that Jedi start popping up all over the place, what's Luke going to do?

There don't seem to be any would-be Jedi waiting to be trained, thus there's no way that a teacher could resurrect the order.  Instead Rey is the only one we see and she only showed up after competing attempts to find Luke ended up thrusting her into the middle of things.

But ... without her, and neither side knew about her, there's nothing much Luke can do and thus nothing much to suggest that either side should have finding him be a priority.

16 Where the hell did the god damned map that drives the entire plot of the movie come from?  No one knows where he went because he just disappeared but there happens to be a two piece map that shows his entire journey from start to finish that both the new empire and R2 have the vast majority of and a random other person has the missing piece of?

It would have made a lot more sense if the Millennium Falcon had been the macguffin.  Luke's whereabouts were transmitted to the Falcon, which was planned, and automatically stored in its databanks but the ship had been stolen so many times that no one knew where it was anymore.  (Seriously, the people who stole it the final time had no idea it even was the Falcon.)

17 There was more but I should have been to bed hours ago and all of the more has leaked out of my tired brain.

"It was remarkably non-terrible for something involving JJ Abrams."
- Lonespark

Friday, December 18, 2015

That wondrous moment of realizing you didn't fuck up nearly so much as you thought you did. (Also, it's fucking Advent.)

I walked into the kitchen, noticed that the stove was on, wondered why, and then thought that I must have charred the garlic bread to a crisp by leaving it in the oven for two damned hours.

Then I saw the garlic bread, which I had forgotten to actually put in the oven, and thus everything seems to be fine.

My life is, perhaps, not that exciting.


And, in other news, even though it's fucking Advent, I'm told people have started saying, "I'm going to be un-PC and wish you 'Merry Christmas.'"

Just remember that whenever someone says that they're proving that they have no idea what the fuck Christmas is, and the largely arbitrary and almost certainly incorrect date of December 25th means nothing to them.  They apparently think that Jesus was born the day after thanksgiving, have some strange, very non-literal, interpretation of "the twelve days of Christmas", and hate everyone who thinks the season might be a time for coming together (solstice and then the days get longer proving that darkness will not engulf the world --unless you're on the other side of the equator in which case solstice and then the days get shorter proving that the world will not bake to death-- what's not to like?)

How do we know that these people are filled with hate?  "I'm going to be un-PC and . . ." which, roughly translated, means, "I'm going to openly be an asshole and . . ."

It takes a certain amount of animosity to recognize what you're doing is assholic, announce to the world that you know it's assholic, and then do it anyway.  To repeatedly say, "I'm going to be an asshole," to lots of people is just . . . well there's no mistaking it for ignorance or stupidity.  They're making sure that you're well aware that they're being an asshole to you knowingly and willfully.

And people like that are the kind of people won't share my joy that the garlic bread didn't burn.  (I know it didn't because I just took it out.)

So, remember, when someone wishes you a Merry Christmas they're probably wishing you well, and thus there's no reason to point out that it is, in fact, fucking Advent.  However if they preface it with "I'm going to be un-PC and . . ." or any other form of "I know I'm being an asshole, but . . ." that means that they don't like you very much and, while it's unlikely any good would come of it, you'd be well within the bounds of propriety to point out that it's fucking Advent, Jesus' birthday (observed, not actual) hasn't come yet.

Also they probably don't rejoice about non-burnt bread with those who rejoice about non-burnt bread.  Jerks.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The rest of the year

I make plans, the plans don't go to plan, I make new plans, those plans will also not be definitive.  Such is the way of things.

This started out as a place to collect my mostly Left Behind related fiction fragments, but I haven't been following Fred's work on the subject with the greatest interest of late so I'm not writing as much on that.  This isn't, by the way, a put down of Fred.  It's just that I haven't been in the right mindset.

Next added was undoubtedly Twilight, which was a result of following Ana Mardoll's deconstruction, a work that hasn't been touched since mid July last year.  At some point I'm going to have to go through Twilight on my own, without the safety of having Ana's insight and commentary diluting the ick, or the inspiration of her pointing out wrong things leading to me trying to make those specific wrongs right.

It's hard to look at my copy of Twilight, a gift from Ana (who prefers lighter, comfier, easier to search e-readers, I believe) and think, "Yeah, what I really want to do right now is read some of that book.  Thus writing more Twilight stuff seems to always end up infinitely postponed.

Then there was Narnia.  My interest really faded with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  It also peaked there.  If the Heroes did their Jobs is my most serious and in depth Narnia stuff.

It's not that I can't write on The Horse and His Boy, I did a Snarky Twilight style conversion between Edmund and Susan before we even made it to that book and here's a version of the meeting of Hwin and Aravis.  But it's the same problem as Left Behind, I'm not feeling that spark of late.

Very little of my original work really calls out for additions.  Yes, The Princess Story must go on, probably The Band Story (I just had to stop writing and make an index for it because I didn't have one yet) too, but there's still a right frame of mind problem.

So, I've kind of been stuck.  Not completely immobile though.  I've more been in a rut; progress can be made as long as said progress follows a set path.  That path, at the moment, happens to be related to Kim Possible.

The Kim Possible stuff is ... fraught.  On the one hand, I've been having at least some success writing things related to it (thus stuck in rut, instead of just plain stuck), on the other hand I know that it's the stuff that's least likely to be of interest.  Don't get me wrong, there has been some interest shown, I can think of at least four people off the top of my head who have actually commented on the *looks up number* 48 posts tagged with "Kim Possible", and doubtless if I actually went through the posts checking who commented I would find an additional person or two.  But I definitely get the impression that most readers here aren't that into Kim Possible stories.

I would like to get Life After revised by the end of they year.  Take the three rushed and one very, very rushed, condensed and otherwise screwed over chapters and make them into the 6 not overly rushed chapters that they're supposed to be.  That's probably doable.  Not to say that it will be done, but it seems like it, at least, could be done.

Everything else was left off in a place where I'd kind of like to hit a degree of closure.  I don't mean that I want to end the stories, they're not nearly ready for that, but they're in a place where things are left hanging that are not, in fact, going to be left hanging for the whole story.

Specifically:  Being more than a Simulacrum is currently left off at the first part of a two part installment, Bent, not Broken still hasn't reached the present day and is thus still in flashback, and in Forgotten Seeds the characters aren't even on earth yet.

Bent, not Broken would take at least two installments to be done with the flashback, meaning four things to get those immediate points concluded, add to it the six revised chapters of Life After and . . . (Almost certainly) no way I'm going to get ten story posts by the end of the year, but that's not the point.

The point is that given that my impression is that the Kim Possible posts are only being appreciated by a small handful of people, all of them included in the ranks of people who seem to be devoted enough to read whatever I write, it's kind of ... um, less than good that that's the only area I'm really having inspiration and will doubtless be how I close out the year.

Also on Kim Possible, I want to get the decon rolling again because it's my hope that people who have never seen the show can get context out of that and thus be more likely to be able to appreciate any fiction I write in that arena.

Band Story Index

The first time the story was mentioned when I made a post about the fact that I had a bunch of, completely unwritten, stories in my head (to the point that a new one coming to me produces the thought, "Another one?") in which a transfemale lesbian character transitions and gains acceptance.

In that post, I described this story thus:
it's basically Twilight if you replace, "Vampires" with "female musicians," and "abusive" with "supportive"
So, you know, wish fulfillment fantasy (pastime, not genre) about a depressed girl meeting these people who seem above her, being accepted by them, and becoming one of them.  Girl happens to be a transgirl, hence "female musicians" instead of just "musicians".  Transitioning to living as an openly female person is part of the not-vampirification process.

So far I have written:

The Beginning - Main character, Jesse, meets the band while in a very vulnerable state (Content note: starts with transphobia and betrayal)

A scene from the early middle - Isa tries to convince Jesse to learn at least one instrument in her life.

A scene from the very late middle - Insecurities and whatnot eventually leading to a consent scene.

Fragment of the scene where the middle officially ends - Very little here, end of the final concert before Jesse and the band part ways (Jesse is returning to university while the band stays on tour.)

And that's it so far.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Venturing into the Wardrobe (Horror-Narnia world)

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]
[In response to a creepy story in which Susan was the only one left after losing first Lucy, Edmund, and Peter to the wardrobe and then the professor and the housekeeper on a rescue mission that ... the professor said if he didn't make it back in a certain number of days to have the wardrobe torn apart and burned to ash  That time has come and gone, but Susan is caught between the desire to avoid anyone else getting hurt and the desire to at least pretend there's still hope for those she has lost and that has led to inaction.]

"You've lost people," the girl said. "I get that. I've lost my whole family."

"I'm sorry," Susan said to her.

"It happens," the girl said. Susan could tell that her attempt to downplay it was fake. A practiced lie. A lie that she told herself over and over again in hopes she'd someday believe it. Susan had seen self-deception before.

Which meant that despite the sudden attempt to act like she wasn't still hurting, Susan knew that the girl's original statement was the true one: the girl did get how Susan felt.

Susan watched the girl in silence. Waiting for the point to come.

"Before they died they taught me things," the girl said. "They taught me that some people have made it back." The girl set down the rucksack, which she'd seemed so intent on protecting every time Susan noted her posture , opened it, and pulled from it a sword.

The scabbard seemed ordinary enough --though Susan knew little about swords-- but when the girl drew the sword and held it before Susan, Susan was sure she was looking at something from another world. It was a strange black thing that was only vaguely sword shaped, tendrils of something that glowed blue seemed to writhe beneath the glassy surface, part of it was slick with some form of goo that was so dark Susan's eyes couldn't even focus on it, instead her eyes told her that there was nothing there but void.

"When faced with what your family has encountered it's only natural to believe there's no possibility of victory," the girl said. "Not all such fights are hopeless, if you have the right tools."

The girl sheathed the sword. "They don't eat their victims until the 40th day," the girl said. "So, there's still a week's worth of hope left for the first ones you've lost."

The word "eat" had shocked Susan a bit, but not much. She had grown increasingly aware of the horror of the situation.  She'd ventured in as far as she could without losing contact with the way out and what she'd seen had driven all hope from her. She'd been alone with nothing but the horrors she imagined on the other side of that thing. There was not much left that could shock her more than a bit.

"I'm not letting anyone else be lost to that thing," Susan said.

"My life is mine to do with as I please," the girl said. "To risk or end as I please. If you're so convinced I'll fail like the others, then all I ask is that you give me the freedom to die where I wish to die, doing what I wish to be doing."

"Beyond the sword," Susan said, "what do you have that makes you think you can save yourself? Never mind anyone else."

* * *

"Only something glass-sharp can pierce the hide?" Susan asked.

"Yes, pretty much anything on the other side that's too large to hide has to be like that. You can test it if you like," the girl said. "Rumor has it you have some discarded pelts." She sighed. "If we had more time, we could have made them into armor for ourselves."

"And this goo," Susan pointed to a mason jar, it's contents glowing a sickly green, "is poison to it."

"To them," the girl said. "They live in packs, hunt in packs, kill in packs, eat in packs. They're very big on sticking with their families.

* * *

Susan had been given a bow for Christmas and always treasured it.  She spent the rest of the day breaking pretty much everything in glass in the house, and making the broken shards into arrowheads. Once she'd fastened them to arrows --the girl was nice enough to make shafts for Susan; Susan didn't ask where the fletchings came from-- Susan dipped them in the green goo.

At one point she asked what it was. The girl simply said, "Blood of something that doesn't like being eaten."

* * *

The day was ending when they approached the wardrobe.

Susan had left instructions that it be burned, an appointment set up for a time when she was sure that, if she hadn't made it back, she'd be dead. The key already stashed in the place she'd told the workers she would leave it on the day of the appointment.

"What's your name?" Susan asked the girl as as she opened the wardrobe door.

"I thought you didn't want to know 'the name of someone so eager to die'," the girl said. Susan looked at her and saw she was smirking. "You know I didn't ask for help, just to be allowed passage."

"I'm not letting anyone go to certain death," Susan said. "With help, I think there's a very slim chance that you might survive."

"How slim?" the girl asked.

"Vanishingly slim," Susan said.

The girl smiled at that. "I am Ara bint Kidrash bin Rishti al-Tash"

"I am Susan, daughter of Helen and member of the family Pevensie," Susan said.

"Get your bow ready," Ara said. Susan did.

"Draw your sword," Susan said. Ara did.

Together they went through the wardrobe.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Movie Proposal: Men in Black: Revolution

The movie wouldn't be about aliens.  Oh, the aliens would be there, but it's not about them.  No, this is a movie about human beings.

Human beings who have been violated, repeatedly, and robbed of even the ability to recognize or object to that violation.

The lies aren't the problem.  The fact that a self appointed agency that recognizes neither national sovereignty, individual liberty, or bodily autonomy is doing whatever the fuck it wants whenever the fuck it wants and woe betide anyone who stands in their way is not the problem.

Yes, these things are problems, but they're not the problem

It's the neuralyzer.

Every mission that the Men in Black ever go on, no matter how small, even when it's talking to a lonely housewife who no one's ever going to believe after she's told the police and the media everything she knows and thus cannot possibly cause any harm to the secret, involves reaching into the minds of people (with varrying degrees of innocence) ripping out what the Men in Black want, and shoving something new in.

When they recruit a new member they rip out the minds of every person who ever knew that recruit which means rewriting years upon years of peoples lives.  Hell, for some people (ones younger than the recruit obviously, especially children) it's going to be their entire god damned life that is ripped from their brain and replaced with something else.
You don't understand. Have you ever had someone take your brain and play? Take you out and stuff something else in? You know what it's like to be unmade?
- Clint Barton (Hawkeye) describing the kinder,
gentler, more humane, less nightmare enducing
mind control used Marvel's The Avengers.
The Men in Black are a group of people of purest evil, and while aliens being here on earth is something that the population could quickly adapt to with little difficulty, the revelation of innumerable extreme and horrific violations of bodily autonomy is somewhat different.

Most people are able to shut out the real life horrors of the real world because those horrors are things done to other people and there are seemingly endless ways to rationalize, "It couldn't happen to me."

Not so with this.  Agent Kay once "unmade", to use Barton's euphemism because our language has no word to describe the twisted and utterly evil thing that Kay actually did, the entire fucking population of New York City with the press of a button.

One second.  Less than a second.  8.4 million people unmade.

Of course some populations are more at risk than others.  In the first movie we see the Men in Black attacking border patrol and the NYPD.  The feds and the locals.  What are the odds they attack those without going for state agencies as well?

That's law enforcement (they mind control the people with guns, no wonder they're so terrified of being found out) for the longest time most alien sightings in the US were coming from the Air Force.  You know that the military has been unmade.  Civilian pilots of course.   Air traffic control no doubt.  Anyone who has ever set foot in NORAD beyond all doubt.

The IRS for sure.  They're too busy keeping track of shit to not be unmade on a regular basis.

For the aliens to be able to blend they need history that checks out.  So for each of them some high school somewhere has to remember child version of alien being in classes said alien.  It takes a village, really.

As noted above, everyone who ever met one of their employees before said employee was hired is unmade.  This involves individuals receiving decades worth of unmaking.  Some people, especially children, might end up without a single day's worth of real memories left in their head.

Ever been to a major city? Maybe you were unmade when someone pulled a Kay.  Ever been near a meteor, an aurora, the lights of a plane reflected in a weird way by clouds, swamp glass, a weather balloon?  Are you sure?  How do you know that's what it was?  How do you know you weren't unmade?

Ever done something that seemed out of character?  Telltale sign of unmaking.

Ever made a decision that changed the course of your life?  What makes you think that you were the one who made that decision?

All levels of government have been compromised, the ones who were supposed to protect you were the ones being serial victimized in order to prevent them from protecting you.

Remember all of those times people have knocked on your door and annoyed you for this or that reason?  What makes you think even one of them was real?  Every single one of them could have been cover for a visit from the MiBs.  They can make you remember things that never happened, even if you track down the person who you remember knocking on your door on X occasion and they remember you and remember the meeting the exact same way, it doesn't mean it happened.

A thousand ordinary things are now grounds to believe you're a victim and any discrepancy in your life is grounds to believe that you were royally fucked over as opposed victim to one of the smaller scale unmakings that happen constantly, all around the world, every day.

Had a religious experience?  How do you know?  Joined a church, left a church, quit high school drama club, realized you were an atheist, come to an unexpected realization about yourself?  That's what you think.  Sorry, thought.  Before you learned that a group of people who had the power to change what you remember, think, and believe have been running roughshod over the very souls of the entire human population of earth.

Your government doesn't count for shit.  You don't even know if you even voted for who you think you voted for.  You don't even know if there's even such a thing as election day.  You don't know if you had the same identity yesterday that you have today.

Memory is suspect, identity is suspect, beliefs, thoughts, principles, emotions, everything that makes you you might be a lie.

But there is a bright side.

You know who to blame.

You know who to blame.  The conspiracy theorists know who to blame, the government knows who to blame, the anti government militias know who to blame, the military knows who to blame, the CIA, NSA and FBI have never been so united in knowing exactly who to blame.  The terrorists know who to blame.  The freedom fighters know who to blame.  The oppressors and oppressed alike know who to blame.

Countries that are sworn enemies don't even know if they really hate each other, or if that was part of their unmaking, but what they do know for sure and without doubt, is who to blame.

The entire world knows who to blame.  Everything has been stripped from them leaving nothing but insecurity, confusion, pain, and violation, but like various other animals when they feel hurt, helpless, and hopeless human beings often channel their fear and anger into something that feels like it might help: lashing out.  And they know who to blame.

Well, some people would miss the target and think the aliens were to blame.  But most people, when attacked, are pissed off at the attacker and don't particularly care how the attacker rationalizes the attack to themselves.  So most people would know who was to blame.

The Men in Black are to blame.

Of course, the Men in Black have the technology and resources to dominate the entire world and crush any force sent against them.  Even if that force is ... everyone, all at once, in a single united front.

And once they're done, it's not like anyone will remember that there was a battle in the first place.  Even if they do, they certainly won't remember that Men in Black were involved.  In fact, they say they were founded in the sixties, but on reflection don't the World Wars seem a bit contrived to you?

A World War based on the assassination of an archduke?  One bullet caused all that death?

That's ludicrous.  Doesn't it make more sense if we assume that the obviously bullshit story of how the war came about (swamp gas my ass) was something that the world accepted as true only because they'd been neuralyzed into having memories of it happening that way?

Everyone who ever tried to stop them before was unmade.

Even so, you'd have to try, right?  When "a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism" and all that.  Trying to stop the abuse is not just a right, apparently it's a duty.  It says so in a document that my country was founded on.  At least I think it does.  I remember it that way.  The internet says it's that way.  But we know that's not reliable.

When they recruit someone they unmake every person that ever knew the recruits name, they find every copy of every picture the recruit was in[1] as well as every written record of the person [2] and every electronic footprint [3] and alter all of these things, near-simultaneously, and have never once been caught.  At least not that anyone remembers anymore.  Not in a way that left memory or documentation.

[1] Class pictures, yearbooks, facebook, google, family pictures, selfies, pictures a friend might have snapped and never thought to mention, that Six Flags New England picture that I've been getting emails about for years asking me if I want to buy prints of, pictures of public events that someone might use to say, "I'm telling you, I was there with this person you say doesn't exist," and so forth.

[2] Handwriting in the guest book, name on the list of passengers for a flight, junk mail about being pre-approved, hospital records, social security number related shit, selective service induction, drivers licence documentation, medical records, employment records, rental agreement, bank account information, tax records

[3] You know, I'm not even going to try.  There's too fucking much

* * *

The above is if the revelation were suddenly out there, worldwide.  More likely we'd be looking at a small group of people who at first seemed like they're being gaslit or just having a psychotic breaks (The Forgotten and Flightplan did this, I didn't watch them) but they gradually accumulate evidence and find each other.  My preference is to get through this part of the story as fast as possible.

Ash's two minute recap at the start of Army of Darkness fast, if possible.

There was a scene in the trailer for The Forgotten that would work well here, a wall covering was torn off revealing that person who wasn't remembered did in fact exist.  (Mind you, you'd want it to be more than what was in the movie because, seriously, they couldn't have just removed that?  Now a fresco is part of the wall, and thus can't be removed in a hurry, thus the MiBs might cover over it somehow.)

Anyway, quickly get the mind screwy is-this-real-or-not bit out of the way because I personally don't like that shit, there's no point, and there's no suspense there anyway.  "Men in Black" is in the title, we know coming in that these people are right and there are memory erasing, truth hiding people out there.

It's not about realizing the Men in Black exist (that would be Men in Black: Revelation, not Revolution), it's about dealing with those fucking monsters.  (Bonus points if a hideous monstrous looking illegal alien joins up with the good guys, Seegserd could play said character.  The monsters are the all too human Men in Black and, to a lesser extent, the aliens who collude with them.)

As the title suggests, it's about a revolution.  It's about people overthrowing the Men in Black.

Meeting out justice can be dealt with in the sequel, Men in Black: Truth Commission.  That's a forensic and legal drama, of course.

This movie is about an eclectic group of people with stolen sunglasses, cobbled together technology, and justice on their side going up against a seemingly unstoppable force.  And winning.

Note that "an eclectic group of people" does not conflict with the suggestion of aliens on the side of good.  The things are also people.  In fact, one wonders how many of the illegal aliens aren't dangerous at all, they're just people who refuse to be associate with people who use neuralyzers.

The aliens are described as being refugees.  How many refugees might be fleeing from neuralyzer using regimes?  (And how many more might have wanted to but been neuralyzed into forgetting all about that plan and the reasons behind it?)

But, while there may be an alien or two on the team of good guys, this is a movie about human beings.  Human beings who have been viciously mistreated by other human beings finally standing up, fighting, and putting a stop to it.  It's about overthrowing oppressors and really cool action sequences.

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Note, by the way, that all of this portrays the titular "Men in Black" in the most positive of all possible lights.  Specifically, it assumes that no one in the entire history of the organization has ever used a neuralyzer in a way that the agency didn't condone and that the agency has only ever condoned using them to maintain secrecy.

If we consider what someone could do with a neuralyzer if their acts weren't limited to keeping the aliens and the agency secret from the world.  Well darkness, which even the strongest brain bleach cannot remove the stain of, that way lies.