A Message From Timothy

From the Desk of Timothy T.T. Cat esq.

I was disappointed to see that fellow anti-liberal-establishment book publisher Vox Day, is trying to exploit the wave of enthusiasm for McEdifice Returns with his own cheap knock off product.

Assassinations, revolutions, civil wars, and attempted planetary genocides are all in a day’s work for Chief Warrant Officer Graven Tower, MCID-XAR.”

Suffice to say, you are not looking at a book with the same editorial standards or exciting characters as mine. Good grief their book only has ONE cover.

Remember: there is only ONE Chiseled McEdifice (except in the book, there are two of them in a few chapters).

Yours,

Timothy the Talking Cat

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Today’s GIF

timzoom

This was supposed to appear in the book trailer video for McEdifice Returns (not at 50% off the previous price here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/764769 ). Unfortunately, the video export wasn’t working for this animation (plus some others, including some space ships and a shot of the spooky cathedral). Said technical issue has since been resolved.

Just remember, when you stare into the Timothy it stares back into you.

Royal Commision on Child Abuse Final Report

This has been a long and painful process for survivors of institutional abuse in Australia. The Royal Commission was established in 2012 and delivered its final report on Thursday (14/12/17). The 200+ Preface and Executive Summary is itself a harrowing read https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/sites/default/files/final_report_-_preface_and_executive_summary.pdf The full report encompasses 17 volumes https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/final-report

It is notable the extent to which among the vulnerable, those that were more vulnerable were so often targeted. The report looks at how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were not only targets for abuse but how the wider social policy would often enable that abuse.

The report also highlights how children with disabilities were targetted by abusers. Again, systemic and institutional failings enable abuse and sidelined the stories of those being abused.

More positively the Commission has outlined approaches for both justice and redress on multiple levels. https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/redress-and-civil-litigation

While much of the focus has been on religious institutions and specifically the Catholic Church in Australia, the issues go far beyond those particular issues and included secular institutions including schools and care homes as well sporting bodies and the criminal justice system. The themes that re-occur between each of them are the abuse of the powerless by the powerful, the marginalisation of people and the silencing of voices.

This is not easy reading but without work like this we cannot understand how to provide the protection that children, younger people and indeed anybody who can find themselves marginalised, deserve.

Somebody at Superversive Nearly Has an Insight and then Doesn’t

There is a bit in the second season of the Good Place in which Chidi (a dead professor of moral philosophy) realises that the only way he can make progress teaching an eternal being about human ethics is if said being can gain some insight into the possibility of their own mortality.

Watching the SF right grapple with their own theories of aesthetics and popular media can be a bit like that. You get hints at the underlying vulnerabilities of thought that you don’t when you look at national politics. The political discussion is now so many layers deep in bad faith that no claim, principle or supposed viewpoint can be trusted to reflect underlying beliefs. So sometimes you can see the wheels in action and genuine trains of thought.

So here is Anthony M at Superversive struggling with an insight:

“My experience leads me to believe there are three types of media: Media where my opinion stays fairly firm, media that I like more on a rewatch/re-read, and media I like less on a rewatch/re-read. The first category makes up the majority of my media. The second category is relatively small; off the top of my head it includes one or two books, “Guardians of the Galaxy”, a couple of Miyazaki films, and the original Star Wars (retroactively titled “A New Hope”). All of these I thought were merely okay originally but liked more on a rewatch.

The last category was originally a small one, but over time I’ve noticed it grow larger and larger, to the point where I’ve started checking my first responses to things. It includes “The Force Awakens”. It includes all three Peter Jackson “Lord of the Rings” films. It includes the show “Gravity Falls”. It includes the show “Jessica Jones”. All of these are things I liked, even loved, at one point in time but as I’ve looked back at them have noticed more and more flaws, occasionally to the point that I can’t even re-watch them – particularly in the cases of “The Force Awakens” and “Jessica Jones”. And they’re only a few examples!” http://www.superversivesf.com/2017/12/15/the-wall-of-cards/

…but he goes on to conclude that it must be something wrong with the modern world.

I’ve noticed some similar things to Anthony M but also I’ve noticed:

  • Things in my visual area don’t always focus as easily as they used to.
  • Stairs take longer for me to run up.
  • There must be something wacky going on with gravity because my whole body is more attracted to the ground than it used to be and also my skin is sagging…

What’s going on in the world!

It isn’t that it is irrational to think modern popular culture might be inferior in some way but rather that he doesn’t even consider the other possibility.

You age. The impact that new cultural objects have on you becomes less. The worrying, disturbing change in the world is many things, but that particularly hard to grasp, hard to pinpoint feel of impending something is our own mortality.

Disney, Fox and MCU

I’m inherently suspicious of anything and everything Rupert Murdoch does. If Murdoch is behind something then it is safe to assume that he wants ordinary people coming out worse in the deal and that somehow he is trying to make the world a shittier place. That doesn’t mean he always succeeds or that everything with “Fox” or even “News Corporation” written on it is cursed like some artefact from an RPG.

In the current Disney/Fox deal, the Murdoch empire is divesting itself of its entertainment properties and retaining its news properties. I don’t know what the full implications of that are but “Murdoch controls less’ sounds partly like good news, whereas “Murdoch ends up as the biggest shareholder in Disney” sounds like bad news. Of course, Disney only sounds good when compared with Rupert Murdoch. The deal is another step in Disney controlling a hefty chunk of IP. It isn’t exactly monopolistic power but it is reasonable to fear one corporation having that much cultural clout.

Given Disney’s chain of acquisitions (Pixar, Marvel, Lucasarts) the move also is of deep interest to multiple fandoms. Some fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are seeing this move primarily in terms of how the move will bring more of Marvel’s characters back under Marvel’s control. Given the success of the MCU, I can see why fans of superhero films (and I would count myself as one) would be excited. Yet, I don’t see it.

The specific result is that Marvel’s beloved X-Men franchise would now be owned by Disney and hence X-Men characters could become part of the MCU. This does not strike me as a good idea.

Within Marvel’s comic book universe, characters have swapped between teams and in and out of comic books. Notably Beast, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are characters who have been players in both The Avengers and X-Men. However, there is nothing particularly essential about those characters in either setting. Further, I just don’t think the premise of the X-Men works in conjunction with the rest of the Marvel Universe. I don’t think it has ever really worked in the comic books and I don’t see how it could work in film.

A comic book universe relies on somehow making superheroes whose basic premise is quite different work together. Marvel has juggled this by having elements that work together and elements that work as given character’s own domain. Thor can be a god-like alien being on Earth and exist side-by-side with Iron Man a human with fancy gadgets but their separate adventures put the characters in quite different worlds. Some suspension of disbelief is required to accept that these characters can have their own stories without every film requiring all the Avengers to turn up to help but the settings help and each character can have separate stories.

Now add the X-men. The X-Men aren’t the X-Men without the key premise that they live in a world in which:

  • Some people get random mutant superpowers.
  • That the wider population knows this.
  • That the mutant population is feared and persecuted and suppressed.

Captain America has to be cool with this. I mean, obviously, he isn’t but for the X-Men to have their stories, basically The Avengers have to not do anything when the US government starts hunting people with giant killer robots. Also, the wider public has to be relatively OK with one bunch of super powered people and raging bigots about a different bunch. It has to be OK to get superpowers from a spider bite but not from a genetic mutation AND people have to believe that story (i.e. people don’t think Spiderman is a dangerous mutant).

Put another way, the X-Men and The Avengers as stories can’t share the same space but there isn’t a simple way of separating those spaces. With other characters (e.g. the Netflix version of Daredevil) local spaces can be created (e.g. a fictional Hell’s Kitchen) and the antagonists can exist in a world where there other kinds of superheroes – Daredevil fighting secret ninjas and/or an evil property developer can happen in a world where off-screen Captain America is fighting Hydra.

The flip side of this is the creativity that arises from restrictions. Marvel has made a success out of its own stable of films but it did so without having access to its biggest properties: X-men and Spiderman. Yes, it was nice for there to be Spiderman films that were not another rehash of his origin story and which give the character a bigger field to play in but it was not having Spiderman that pushed Marvel into the more creative decision – Guardians of the Galaxy for example.

Which brings me back to Disney. It was great seeing another Star Wars film yesterday and yes, I’m looking forward to Avengers: Infinity War but the obvious IP danger in Disney’s accretion disc style of aquistions is that  it will become little more than a strip mine of IP rather than a source of new ideas.

If it avoids that trap then the popularity of its properties will only enable an economic behemoth bully governments and exploit its workers.

Spoiler Free Review: Star Wars – The Last Jedi

It’s good. I wouldn’t say brilliant but it certainly has its moments. Much better than any of the prequels and nothing truly horrible about it. There are moments where you thing the story is going one way and then it doesn’t.

There is a self conciousness about the film with respect to The Empire Strikes back including some obvious nods but this isn’t like A New Hope versus The Force Awakens. The film has its own story that follows naturally from the previous one and it ends in an interesting but unusual way for a Star Wars film.

I’m going to say it is the most left-leaning of the Star Wars films. This isn’t because it expresses any overtly left sentiments – as we’ve seen many times the right are happy to cast themselves as the rebels or see The Empire as communism etc rather than space nazis, and while we are here lets not forget the huge capitalist force pulling in all the money from this film. Even so, it has an aesthetic and awareness of ‘The Resistance” that won’t sit comfortably with the right and a sense in which the force of good here is not the defenders of the status quo but people who might want to make the lives of people better. The unadressed issues of shitty the Republic was in the prequels being hinted at as something the good guys are opposed to.

Kylo Ren is growing on me as a character. He still is the angry and whiny man from Episode 7 but there are layers and a system to him.

Not many mysteries answered. I hope this isn’t verging too much on spoilers but there is an unreliable revelation about Ray’s parentage that I hope they are sticking with.

My main complaint: not enough R2 in this film.

If you like Star Wars then you’ll enjoy this I think. If you don’t, then you might not like but it has a bit more too it than the last one.

 

Book Cover Thing 2017: Functionality

Previously: Start, Longer list, Culling, Artwork, An Aside, . . .

Functionality: 0 to 3 points. A cover has a basic job to do. Can you read the title and who wrote it? Is all the relevant information there? Is the information well ordered?

There is a bit of a built in advantage for book covers that don’t have a lot to say. Each cover needs firstly these two things:

  • A title
  • An author

In addition there are other text elements:

  • Subtitle
  • Series title
  • Publisher name (pretty rare these days)
  • Egoboo thing ‘Number 1 New Yrok Tines Besteller!’, ‘Thrilling to the last page!’ Stevan Kring

A sequel that’s being promoted can end up with a gaggle of text elements.

Somebody IRL asked why do these weird points and that they don’t make it more objective. That’s right – the categories don’t make the judgements less opinionated or subjective but they do make you look at different aspects. Using subcategories is an attempt to make a judge reflect on their own opinion.

If you were using lots of judges you could also better see where there was consensus and disagreement.

Having said all that – this remains just me messing around with working out what I like and dislike about covers and your own mileage will vary!

More after the fold…

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