The Special Hell

special_hell-n

I found another category of “specially damned” individuals rampant in modern times. All those people who morph the faces of their friends or famous people (who can tell) on classic paintings. If that weren’t bad enough, they share them to the point it uselessly pollutes Google image search with the world’s most wretched and ugly Photoshop.

For goodness sake, what did Velasquez ever do to you?!  Just search for Velasquez if you really want your eyes to bleed.

OK, Fine. This is by far the best of the lot. It’s even funny.

So I guess sentence reduced to eating desert first and purgatorial probation.

diego-velasquez

Announcement, continued.

Yep, more about my personal weirdness with hubby and cancer. I don’t really want to focus on the cancer here, and yet I’d like a soap box where I can talk about how the cancer stuff is actually going. I have decided to start a new blog, and just use this for “all the stuff I want to talk about that *isn’t* cancer.  Also, I would like my family to be able to go to that blog and see how things are going at a glance.  So, in the interests of doing that, I’ll leave my new blog link here.

http://angelinunquamlamentantur.blogspot.com/

I will still put up some art, and thoughts about that, and some links to the sad puppies things, and whatever updates about writing you may need to know.

Music: That Terrible Freedom

The song is actually called “Trial by Fire” by a ThouShaltNot… not to be confused with “Through Fire”..a forthcoming novel by Sarah Hoyt.  I do have to wonder if this song inspired her… for various reasons.

My musings lead me to wonder what Ariel’s life was like after he was released by Prospero.  One of my many story ideas is about what happens when a magicians apprentice is loosed on the world after his master died.  Because the Green Angel Tower series pissed me off that much.  But I can’t say that Tad Williams didn’t warn me.

But it may be why so many young people seem terrified of freedom. If you are coddled and protected all your life, and have no freedom at all– it eventually becomes threatening. It evolves into a spectral variation on Fear of the Unknown.

It doesn’t help that they are trained from birth to know that power over others is more valuable than personal freedom– while being taught they believe otherwise.

But do you trust freedom that was designed by people you don’t even understand?  But if you don’t know the unintended consequences (and these poor children don’t even know they exist, apparently), how can you know that what you design yourself through will gives you what you really want?

 

 

What is Freedom? Of Speech? (Part I)

What is Freedom? Freedom of Speech?

Before we get into Freedom of Speech, Let’s look at Freedom first.  My reason? Too many people do not know what freedom is.

Illustrative of this is a Chesterton quote, who sums it up neatly.

“Most modern freedom is at root fear. It is not so much that we are too bold to endure rules; it is rather that we are too timid to endure responsibilities.”
What’s Wrong With the World, GK Chesterton

What isn’t a bid to avoid responsibility is an attempt to avoid suffering at all costs.  This explains how the Left can simultaneously claim to support “free speech” and decry anyone who speaks and is threatened– or killed.  I mean, it’s easy to decry a dead man when he isn’t there to refute what you say.  And… now we understand.

Rights aren’t issued by consensus.  If they were, the strongest arm would always win.   Rights are God given– innate, if you prefer.

It’s not just me.  Let’s look at the definition in detail.

1. the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint:
He won his freedom after a retrial.
2. exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.
3.the power to determine action without restraint.
4. political or national independence.
5. personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery:
a slave who bought his freedom.
6.exemption from the presence of anything specified (usually followed by from):
freedom from fear.

Does that really sound like something that is under the shadow of a death threat?  Sure, speaking your mind can be dangerous. You know what? When it becomes that dangerous, that means you have to escalate beyond words to defend your rights. There are other options outside of giving up because it’s scary or hard.

Oh, and here’s my personal favorite definition of freedom:

14.civil liberty, as opposed to subjection to an arbitrary or despotic government.

Hint: killing people over ugly words or pictures is not only despotism, but barbarism.  You want to live under such a government? Make haste and move there. Please. We just might rescue this faltering republic that much more quickly without your…”help”.

Some people only think they can revoke the right to free speech by censorship, threats or taking lives.  They are gravely mistaken. Free American mouthpieces that pander to those who would put  our freedom to the sword aren’t any better.  These are not citizens but mewling slaves for hire, ratting their self-imposed chains so they can force them on the rest of us.

Drama Llama comes home to roost

The Drama Llama comes home to roost.

Remember when I said…

 

I have a fair degree of experience with the whole feminist culture warrior shtick, and I took my leave based on experience. I was also not born in an echo chamber. My family spanned the culture war from both ends, so I had a good look at the best and worst of both worlds​”?

I had relatives arming themselves against the attack on Idlewild, defending the rights of black people, even though they were not. I had relatives wearing white hoods– even blood relatives shooting at each other in the middle of it all. I had relatives running for office on a Communist Party platform in the 1930’s. I had lots of family fleeing Germany– both the poisonous fallout from the Weimar republic and the guns and gas chambers of the Gestapo. I have a relative who was quoted extensively by the NAACP, yet was a republican icon for most of his life. I have relatives who have served with honor for the military and with distinction in the clandestine service. I had relatives on both sides of the pro-life debate, and I spent my formative years caught in the middle.

My mother was a leftist, and a radical feminist. She knew enough about Aristotle to criticize him and sound like she knew what she was talking about. It would take a scholar to refute her, mostly because much of the so called Enlightenment agrees with her.

My father was a fiscal conservative, but would have been called a social liberal, before we started forcing businesses to go against their consciences. He had a certain preference for ‘leave me alone’ standard of law that has a long glorious history in this country, that would find sympathy among the tea party. So if dinner time conversation ever meandered into politics, things got… exciting, to put it charitably.

It was a blessing, because the madness that has struck our country is for me, merely deja vu. I can’t run away from it by running away from home. It is as if a family disease leaked into the aquifer and now affects millions.

I used to pretend there is a place where I can go where it is not a factor. That place used to be the internet. I am so old I even remember when SF fandom was a shelter against politics. Well, now what it has affected both , and neither can seem to let go of it. Like the Drama Llama, it goes looking for you, even if you don’t seek it.

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I went off to become a writer in the safest place I could think of– in Science Fiction. And lo, the disease has found me still, and affects dear friends both past and present. Though it appears to be about the Hugos, it is about far more than that– it is about whether or not the umbilical fannish culture that birthed me will survive, or simply be supplanted by consumerist fandom. Come to find I have some friends on both sides, here, too.  Since it has decided not to engage or embrace the large influx of new people, is it will be starved to death by it’s staunchest defenders. It is worth pointing out that only one side is still talking to me. And that was true even before I declared a side. Running only changes the scenery. Hiding is an illusion.

Cuidado e Llamas, homes. That’s all I’m saying.

Keep in mind: being careful is not the same thing as hiding, giving up, or giving in.

The Phyrric twitter Barrage

JW with script

From my last post… (Age of Ultron Review, for those just arriving)

Speaking of gauntlets, I guess I have to talk about the Pyrrhic twitter barrage.

Joss is so not one of my political compatriots. Yet these women… can’t even wrong properly. Seriously. Why attack and devour one of their own? They call that a win? If they think they scored points in the culture war, well, let’s just say they were engaging in some deliberate friendly fire, just because.

Hell of a way to lose, mon cheri. God Speed, and enjoy those ashes in your mouth. If this keeps up, those of us in the “leave me alone” contingent won’t have to fire a shot.

So I said above, “You can’t even wrong properly” as if a retrograde reprobate such as myself knows what I’m talking about. Well, you see, just because I’m not flinging poo from across the isle does not mean I have always been what I am today. I have a fair degree of experience with the whole feminist culture warrior shtick, and I took my leave based on experience. I was also not born in an echo chamber. My family spanned the culture war from both ends, so I had a good look at the best and worst of both worlds.

In order to fisk these criticisms, I don’t even have to dip into the well of my knee jerk libertarianism– or probe the depths of my Catholic sympathies. Logic and reason don’t even have to enter into it. All I have to do is channel my mother, who was also a second wave radical feminist. Compared to these people, she had nuance. She had read a bit more history. But it is still the putrid foundation from which their culture springs.

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She would have given him points for quoting Abigail Adams at a critical juncture, when we learn that a certain character with leadership qualities gets many of them from his SO. We have seen Black Widow be nothing but a strong, dispassionate warrior for two or three films, and now we see what is behind those eyes, what she struggled against to overcome. When she shows some sign of regret… how can you truly struggle without it? We are informed that she is insufficiently strong, because she did not celebrate a decision that was forced on her. Excuse me? So now we aren’t pro-choice, but no choice?

Well, at least you are being honest for a change. And I guess the fact that she has rescued several heroes and has the massive Hulk wrapped around her little finger means nothing.

Now for a place where they really fell down on the job. The Red Witch. Oh, sure, she’s the bad ass who brings the strongest heroes down low, and is the only reason why her unassailable speed-demon brother bothers to get up every day. She even catches Ultron unawares and manages to get her and her sib away alive, which is a real accomplishment when dealing with that cruel and vindictive robot.

But she had a massive breakdown in the middle of a critical battle– and has to get a pep talk from a strong male character to move on. And guess what? He’s the closest to the straight white male the whole movie has. Burn. Aaaaannnnd, they miss it completely.

Where are the haters when you really need them? Do they have the true courage of their convictions, or do they fling poo because that is all they know how to do? They can’t even do it particularly well by their own standard.

You need a flipping Catholic libertarian to school you on how it’s done. You had one job…

Age of Ultron, the review

avengers

So I went with some friends to see Avengers. We went full hog and saw it in 3D with excellent front and center seats. The screen curved around our location… so I had an optimal view of the action.

Yes, I have good friends.

Unlike most Hollywood ventures, I went in with high expectations. The original was a truly excellent movie. And so is about everything that Joss has set his stamp on in the Marvel franchise. As a matter of fact, everything the Marvel studio has put forward has an enviable track record for quality storytelling. There has been some sideline noise and nonsense that will be addressed on, but I’m mostly focusing on the work itself.

The first scene drew me in with a sense of deja vu, yet tinged with tension. Yes, we’ve seen this set before in previous movies, but there was more. The fight scenes were… different. I don’t know how someone watching this on a conventional screen would see it, but there was a fourth dimension to battle that I hadn’t noticed before. It stirred older memories, those of me reading this very sequence in the comics as a child. He’d captured them so well the panels they were based on flickered in my brain. The fight scenes were as punchy, smooth and vivid as if I’d imagined them. This is the best use of 3D technology I have ever seen. There was no color bleed, there was no gratuitous projectiles grazing the audience. Never the less, you felt a part of the action. Granted, I had the front and center seats of platonic ideal, but even in the back the framing was so perfect it was seamless.

Right away we introduce two new characters, and with a stab of your heart you realize they are villains. Yet you want to like them, you want to identify with them, even as they side with Hydra–, that is, nifty Nazi analogues. For a while I thought it was because of my fondness for Eastern Europeans, especially Croatians, but it was also the deft way the characters were defined through the way they used their abilities in the fight scenes themselves. Quicksilver and The Red Witch are fun both to watch both as an audience member and from the writer’s perspective, so much potential for harm, and trouble.

These storytelling assets were used powerfully throughout, and with deep seated plot based consequences. This is a bold, refreshing move. With mind altering characters, they most often come off as cosmetic, a bald excuse for character development that skims the surface of the plot, or as a diversion. Any similarity between a red herring and the Red Witch is entirely coincidental.

And this is not just the usual “beginning fight scene to whet your appetite and draw you in” either. This is a setup for a twist of the knife that directs the thrust of the entire rest of the film.

Because our mind meddling witch twists the perceptions of all of our heroes, and curses them with premonitions that reveal their darkest fears. The tone is prophetic. The results are devastating.

Stark is racked by self doubt, a convincing reversal of his cocky nature. Because of that nature, his introspection powers are… crippled.

Though Bruce Banner is stronger with introspection, he literally becomes his fears and destroys a neighborhood– and a building. Stark –with all his resources — can only stop him by literally dropping a skyscraper on him. I know you are screaming about spoilers at this point– but seeing how he does it is the real payoff. Trust me.
Stark taps on the fourth wall by proclaiming themselves mad scientists, and furthers his journey into dubious territory, by building the solution to “all our problems”… and quotes the great Quisling proclaiming “Peace in Our Time”. Those scare quotes should be scary. These troubling words echo the peace treaty undermined by Adolf Hitler. Funny how comic books are more culturally literate, yet tell better stories than many ‘sophisticated’ arthouse efforts.

The secret: Joss hasn’t forgotten that strong characters have to overcome difficult circumstances. They have to move past thwarted hopes, broken dreams, and tear free from some serious shit. The development of Black Widow through out the film, happily spurred on by meddling courtesy of the Red Witch. Her addition to the mosaic is a dark lace throughout the film. The flashes and implications of her history make La Femme Nikita – or even Dark Angel — look like a jaunt through happy land.

The effect on Captain America is subtle, but has strong implications for later movies. He becomes more introspective, less receptive to friendship from his compatriots, and gives up hope on ever finding love. Yet this is subtle background to the “Empire Strikes Back” of the Avengers canon. Like the original Empire, it is even better than the first film. Yet the film owes it’s stunning success to the effective build up from it’s predecessor.

We could not understand the mayhem or it’s consequences, or even the dramatic shift in Stark’s character– had we not had the previous movies giving us a clear picture of the limits of his introspection. The companionable bonding between him and Dr Hulk makes no sense without the tension they fought through earlier in series. Even Black Widow’s apparent insanity– falling for Hulk– is a dramatic non-sequitur had we not seen her flirting with Captain America. Indeed, it doesn’t make sense until we start thinking about the effect of her nightmare journey through her past, and remembering the path she was denied.

Though these choices, we start seeing the character of the Red Witch in stark relief, as a wounded shadow in the background of every hero. Between this and her playful banter with her beloved brother Quick Silver, we know she is not only likable, but disturbed. And this carries through to the end game, where we see her innate fragility that allows her to sniff out weakness behind the toughest exterior. Look out for the scene where we see a brilliant stroke from the only hero she did not damage– that affects her deeply, likely for movies to come.

For all that it is a wide ranging ensemble piece, Joss is very good at ensembles. This is tightly written, and not a single detail goes unused throughout. I haven’t even started on the movie’s namesake… who, as mostly a voice and a rendered CGI figure, whose skillful delivery and clever dialogue would have stolen the show in a lesser film. Though he did get close more than once. You won’t find a stereotypical, emotionless AI here. He is snarky, alternating hot and cold in stunning vivid fashion.

Even through crippling and betrayal, he manages to score one last gambit.

Despite plenty of foreshadowing it comes as a surprise. It gives plenty of scope for both kicking ass and heroics– and is utilized to it’s fullest. They do things that they would have only hinted at in any other film. The final fight scenes have the same 3D quality to them as the beginning, except on a grand scale. The action is so fast you are afraid to blink, lest you miss something. Each and every detail pulls you closer to a satisfying finish.

There is a bit of a hint at the end of the film, that I’m afraid only comic book nerds would get the reference… and I’m not one of those nerds. I did not follow the whole Marvel opus closely, and my access was sporadic at best.

One last bit I’d like to highlight is the development that goes into Hawkeye, that comes as a great surprise, even to fans of the comic books. Well, I hate to destroy the surprise, but, well, let’s just say you see him in his home environment. Had the timing been better, I would have snarked that Joss’s choices hinged on the popularity of American Sniper. Yet… it couldn’t have. The timing on production is literally impossible for this to be true. No, it is just Joss’s innate knowledge of character chemistry and delivering exactly what our pot of heroes needs to function. That is, a leader, someone who knows what they were fighting for, and came home to it when work lets him. You see that leadership shine in several beautiful and unexpected moments, but it is never contrived, or spelled out in a definitive scene. Also look for a surprising but pleasing quote from one of the greatest unsung feminine heroes in American History, Abigail Adams. Joss’ degree in Women’s studies has some meat.

The last thing to mention was the eminently likable scientist, and her girl crush on Thor, and how you desperately hope she’ll come back in a different film. She played a small but vital role in the mosaic. It would not hold together without it.

Oh, and I haven’t seen such great use of parties to build character since True Lies. The sort of drunken games that men and women play are used to great effect, and a surprising cameo leaks some nerdy goodness that refers back to the original comic source. It is even used to pull in some old friends in the form of side kicks, and adds a little tension and humor later on– in the middle of a fight scene.

Stay tuned.

Suffice to say, a cosmic Gauntlet has been thrown.

infinity-war

Speaking of gauntlets, I guess I have to talk about the Pyrrhic twitter barrage. Update: Not chased.

Joss is so not one of my political compatriots. Yet these women… can’t even wrong properly. Seriously. Why attack and devour one of their own? They call that a win? If they think they scored points in the culture war, well, let’s just say they were engaging in some deliberate friendly fire, just because.

Hell of a way to lose, mon cheri. Godspeed, and enjoy those ashes in your mouth. If this keeps up, those of us in the “leave me alone” contingent won’t have to fire a shot.

I have more to say. Same blog time, same blog topic.

Aristotle meets Jesus

An oldie but a goodie.

Margot St. Aubin

Aristotle depicted by Raphael, holding his Ethics: detail from the Vatican fresco The School of Athens, 1510 – 1511.

I think Chesterton is ignored today because we do not have the intellectual fortitude to understand his point. We are blinded by wit and a clever turn of phrase, but do not see the meaning behind what is said.

Thought is virga, showering us, yet dries up before it touches the soil. Because we do not believe that reality is real, thought is less than metaphysical, less than smoke. Talk is cheap and meaning is non existent.

Moral relativism is the philosophy of depression and death– a death of cold. That is, falling asleep, thinking everything is fine.  All you see is the whiteness of a blank page; there appears no reason to worry. Yet reality will still devour you, and finds it easier to do so when there is no…

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“Loyalty Day”

By Aznluvr (talk).Aznluvr at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

By Aznluvr (talk).Aznluvr at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

So I look at the calendar and see that there is this holiday called “Loyalty Day.” It is happening as we speak, apparently.  Yeah, I know. Because a man with an R behind his name put this travesty into print, I’m supposed to be thrilled by it. Because it’s supposed to evoke patriotism, mom, and apple pie…

Ahem. There’s just one problem. It doesn’t.

Nothing “Loyalty Day” will ever have to offer is going to hold a candle to “would you follow me into fire? would you follow me into darkness? would you follow me into death?”. So why fucking bother? Not to mention it’s undoubtedly a plot by people who don’t get that loyalty is EARNED by one’s own conduct, and whose conduct has, therefore, been contemptible.

My first reaction when I saw the name was, “god, where do I live? ‘The People’s Republic of Amerikka’?”

After doing some furious research… I find the whole thing was put in place by Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Really?  How… Ironic. He’s a man who would actually  know what real loyalty is. Hint: it’s not a flag waving naivete assuming loyalty to them that hasn’t earned it.

I am told that it was a symbolic replacement of May Day. No one talked about it much.  But now… funny how we are hearing about it again, as if it’s a real thing.  To our current regime? That’s enough to make me laugh.

They have no loyalty to our country. They resigned our borders, sent our troops to combat a disease, give aid and comfort to our enemies abroad, encourage criminals to kill our neighbors to score political points for a purely local battle, etc.

Well, it’s important to understand the distinction between what actually matters and what actually doesn’t. Most folks these days have at least as hard a time with that as Neville Chamberlain did.

“You can have monthly ‘Plutonium Parades’ through the central market of Tehran” is not the same thing as “you can have enrichment centrifuges”.

And Here’s what HuffPo said when Bush did it.  Now here’s Obama declaring the holiday. NO complaints. Not a peep. Funny that.