Sunday, August 25, 2013

Original Character for Marvel Science Movie

Ok, so there's a reason I tend not to write fan fiction for stuff that was well written in the first place.  I'm not good with other people's characters.  Non-evil Rayford or Buck, non-abusive Edward, and so on need to be built from the ground up.  They end up being my characters and I can write them.

But what Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, Jane Foster, Darcy Lewis, or Betty Ross would say... it's not the same.  They're characters that exist in their own right and since they're well done already there's no building from scratch needed or wanted.  If I'm going to write what Tony Stark says I want it to be what Tony Stark would say not what some alternate version of him I created would say.  Trouble is, I've got no fracking clue what Tony Stark would say.

Which means that you're not likely to see me writing fan fiction of well crafted works very often.

But remember how I was saying that there should be a science movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

So, the most likely thing would be a result of the portals that have been used.  The Rainbow Bridge was broken in Thor.  The portal Loki used in the Avengers ripped apart the fabric of space-time.  The way Thor got there was not standard and required a substantial amount of reality warping energy.  The portal the army came through was stable, but a distinctly not Rainbow Bridge style portal.  The way Thor and Loki returned likewise was one that required a tremendous power source and was non-standard.

The point here is a lot of portals, stable and otherwise, being punched through to and from earth.  Easy enough to imagine that this has some destabilizing effects.  And that's before we consider whatever the hell is going to happen in Thor II.

So Maria Hill goes around recruiting the top scientists around the Marvel Universe with experience with this kind of thing.  Tony Stark and Bruce Banner (explaining that she needs Mr. Stark and Dr. Banner because this is something that Iron Man and the Hulk could not solve), Betty Ross, and Jane Foster with her sidekick Darcy Lewis (given that last time he was brainwashed, I think Erik can sit this one out.)

Now we've got the set up for a movie.  We've got a five person team, a hovering air craft carrier, the fabric of reality randomly collapsing all around.  (I figure two kinds of portals for this one, one is like a mini version of what Loki came through in the Avengers: no view of the other side, fair amount of property damage.  The other is like a mini version of what the army came through: you can see the other side, but tends to come with minor property damage (lightningish bolt when it collapses.))

There are two things that need addressing.  One is why the gods are not popping over to help out.  A simple explanation can handle this: opening a portal to earth now, in addition to the randomly firing portals, will completely destabilize everything and destroy the planet.  All that is needed is a way to deliver that information to the viewer that doesn't feel like: "Meanwhile, back at Asgard, exposition."

The second is what, exactly, each scientist is doing.  Banner and Stark will probably rebuild their extremely low level gamma radiation tracking program that went up with the computers in the Avengers.  (If the tesseract liked extremely low level nigh undetectable gamma radiation then it makes sense that portals would too.)  After that Foster, Banner, Ross, and Stark are all geniuses and Lewis is the regular person to keep them grounded and point out the obvious things they might miss because they're making things too complicated but there's a breakdown beyond that.

Foster, plus sidekick Lewis, is in the portal business.  She'd be out taking readings in the field then preforming experiments and crunching numbers in the lab.

Stark is an inventor.  He'd be building what they need.

But for Ross and Banner, gamma radiation is only half of what they know and what they do, the other half is biology.  The way biology interacts with unexpected forces to do seemingly inexplicable things.  (See the Incredible Hulk, the individual not the movie.)  For them to work at their peak ideally they'd have a human subject who was somehow connected to the portals.  That's an original character, and that I can work with, it can also solve the question of how to establish why the gods are not coming to earth to help.

The story would go like this:

Early in the movie a human, call the character Alexander for now, would travel through a portal to Asgard.  (Most portals link from some place on earth's surface to another place on earth's surface, but some go further and thus farther.)

Naturally Alex would have some trouble believing he was in Asgard, say:

Alex: That's impossible, Asgard is where the gods live.
Sif: It is.
Alex: So you're a god?
Sif: I am.
Alex: (incredulous) Can you preform miracles?
Sif: Some.
Alex: Can you *leans in and whispers into Sif's ear*
*Sif smiles*
Sif: Perhaps, but it would take some preparation.
Alex: If you can then please do and I'll be forever grateful.  If you can't, please don't tell anyone I asked.

At some point it is noticed that portals seem to form around Alex and Sif takes the human to Heimdall in hopes of more information.  (Portals of the "you can see through it" type are preceded by a roughly spherical blue crackling energy swirly thing.  Why?   Because I said so.  If Alex touches it, it immediately opens into a portal, Alex can then collapse it by sticking an arm through for a few seconds and then retracting it.  The collapse is preceded by two crackles just because I like the idea of Alex describing portal collapse as, "Crackle, crackle, pop.")

Heimdall explains that Alex has brought part of Earth's instability along and this is a good thing because it means that Alex, and only Alex, can slip back through that instability and carry a message to earth.  Thor sends his love to Foster, Heimdall sends something more useful.  Alex transcribes important information about portals that should speed along the work of the human scientists.  The gods don't know how to fix things on earth but do know a lot more about portals than the scientists do and so can given the human scientists a leg up.

Heimdall speaks this in mythic terms because that's what an Asgardian would do.  Alex transcribes it as pure math with occasional scrawled notation.

Meanwhile back at the ranch the carrier is no longer flying because the portal detection device Stark and Foster have built has the unfortunate side effect of attracting portals.  It's the only thing other than large quantities of power or large groups of people (thus explaining why recognizable touristy things get destroyed/damaged by the random portals) that has that effect.  The good news for the carrier is that it attracts the semi stable window like portals, the bad news is that they still do damage and being in the air is too much of a risk.

Alex is a person with low self esteem issues and unless research shows that Norse gods specifically do not believe in destiny Frigga is going to try to help him first by asking how many know the language he writes (mathematics) and then when he shoots that down by guessing billions saying that the universe has a way of putting the right people in the right place but it's still up to those people to do the right thing.  The fact Alex is there means he's special.  [Added] Frigga would know that everyone is special. [/Added]  Then, and this is the reason for Frigga being there in the first place, she announces that she, Sif, and some others are ready to grant Alex's prayer.

Some short ceremony involving a Norse-significant number of goddesses and Alex becomes biologically female.  Call her Alicia now.  She is happy.

Soon after, Heimdall announces that time is running short and Alicia must deliver the information to Earth's champions.  With Heimdall's help a forming portal is directed to the carrier and Alicia crosses back to earth with the notebook full of portal math.

Random person wandering the corridors is of course worthy of note and Maria Hill takes that seriously so she personally meets Alicia who indicates the math in the notebook and asks if Hill understands it.  Hill says she doesn't and Alicia says that that means Hill wasn't the one Alicia was sent to give the notebook to.  When the response to Hill asking sent by whom is, "The gods of Asgard," Alicia, still under armed guard, is rushed off to where the scientists are and the information does indeed help them jump well ahead in their work.  (Armed guard is allowed to leave now.)

This is also where Alicia meets Darcy Lewis.

(both sitting off to the side)
Alicia: This place must have a cafeteria, do you want to get lunch?
Darcy: Actually I just ate.
Alicia: I'm not good with these things.  Does that mean you don't want lunch with me right now, or you don't want to get a bite to eat with me ever?
*Darcy looks Alicia over*
Darcy: Are you asking me on a date?
Alicia: Would it work?
Darcy: Ask.
Alicia: Would you go on a date with me?
Darcy: Yes.

*hours pass, they're still in the same room watching the four geniuses talk*
Alicia: How can saving the world be so boring?
*A pre-portal swirly thing appears, Alicia hits it in frustration, a portal opens up to, say, space*
Alicia:(tired tone) Not earth.
*Alicia puts her arm through it for a moment then retracts it*
Alicia: Crackle, crackle, pop.
*Bruce Banner and Betty Ross look on with interest.  The portal crackles twice and then collapses.*

Ross and Banner rush Alicia off to a medical lab so they can run tests.  Alicia is unconvinced there's anything special about her.  Her first comment to them saying they've never seen anyone do that is, "Maybe you just haven't seen anyone hit one before."

Ross raises an "Odd," and after Alicia refuses to let it go Ross says she was looking at Alicia's DNA.  Alicia says she just had some remodeling done and so the blueprints don't match the reality anymore.  Ross is confused, Alicia says, "If you found yourself surrounded by gods wouldn't you ask for a favor?" in defensive tones.

A pre-portal swirly thing forms right above her.  She initially moves to touch it but is told not to until the medical diagnostics are ready.  When she does touch it Ross and Banner make excited "We're starting to understand," sounds; Alicia makes some comment about being a freak in a lab that causes knowing looks between Banner and Ross because Hulk.  The portal is to a town in Europe, Alicia asks if they've noticed that the portals are almost never to forests or sea or other unpopulated areas.  (Even the odd far ranging ones to space are near alien space bases.)

They have noticed and say the readings they're getting from Alicia are helping them to finally understand why.  When that comes up against Alicia having previously told she's different the response is something like she's "like everyone else but moreso."  Alicia collapses the portal.  Data collected, she's set free.

The scientists continue to science.

Alicia meets with Maria Hill:
Alicia: So you're a super spy, right?
Hill: What?
Alicia: Your organization makes false identities that are as solid as the real thing is what I'm asking.
Hill: What we do is secret, I'm not just going to tell it all to you.
Alicia: I'm sorry, I opened wrong.
*Alicia hands Hill an ID identifying her as Alexander*
Alicia: Before this started that was accurate.  I'm worried that when this is over I won't be able to use my own identity and I was wondering --please-- if you could help me.
Alicia: Don't get me wrong, the reason it's not accurate anymore is wonderful, but (sliding into desperation) you can't live in this world without an identity and ... and--
Hill: I'll see what I can do.

The scientists continue to science.  (Which is most of the movie, really, but I'm just doing this one secondary character's arc here.)

Darcy and Alicia are walking together as a storm of portals hits the ship (starts mid convo)

Darcy: I just don't like mountains.
Alicia: Then you'd hate Katahdin, but I'm telling you it's beauti-
*A portal forms in front of them*
Alicia: That didn't start on this side.
Darcy: How do you-
Alicia: I do, but that's not important: It's growing.
Darcy: So?  There've been ones way bigger, they didn't do any damage.
Alicia: It's going to be bigger than this hallway soon.  *points* see that pipe?  When the portal passes it then it's going to be connected to nothing, open air in wherever the portal comes out.  Then the ceiling will do the same thing and-
Darcy: It'll all collapse.
Darcy: What do we do?
*Alicia looks back and forth trying to decide whether to run away or try to deal with the portal.  Then she charges up to it and sticks an arm through.*
Alicia: We fight it.  Help.
*Darcy follows suit*
Darcy: It's not working.
Alicia: No, it is but too slow.
Alicia: Find things to put in it.  They don't like when things sit on the threshold.
*this is tried but it still isn't working fast enough, shots from around the ship show portals wreaking havoc*
*a pre-portal swirly thing appears on the opposite side of Alicia as the portal*
*Alicia spins and claps her hands around the pre-portal thing which ends up collapsing it before it even becomes a portal and shooting a bolt of energy through her into the portal.*
*Alicia collapses to the ground.*
*Darcy catches her before her head hits and Alicia is in Darcy's arms as a result*
*The portal is still open.*
Alicia: (weakly) Well that totally failed to work.
*the portal crackles*
Alicia: (still weakly) Or not.
Alicia: Crackle pop.


Have I taken the time to say here how I get pissed off at Google Chrome for doing things when there's no call for it to do them and thus losing information that should have been safe?  Like trying to reload a page when there's no reason to reload it and then, as a result, crashing the page, and destroying all information on it.

Here's a new one on me: I got disconnected from the internet.  No problem there.  I can type and type and type in this space with no connection without any ill effect and then when I get reconnected all is well, and if I don't get reconnected I can copy it and save it to a word processor.  There's certainly no reason for me to stop typing when I'm on a roll, right?

Apparently wrong.  Chrome "Aw snap"ed me into oblivion.  I have no idea why the fuck it would do that.

Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled programming.


*The portal crackles and collapses*

Meanwhile, back at the lab, Foster notices that a portal collapsed before it should have and by looking at the data she and Stark come up with a way to modify the portal detector to send out a pulse to stop the storm of portals.  Foster does the necessary calculations, Stark, being a builder, makes the modifications.  It works.

It isn't a global solution because the power necessary to do it on a global scale is simply untenable but it is a step closer to one.

The state of the ship is that it's damaged, and sections of it are slowly flooding.  The ship as a whole won't sink but anyone trapped in those sections will drown if they don't get out before the section floods.

While giving her a status update, Foster has a standoff with Hill.  She wants Darcy found now, Hill has an entire ship to think about and can't spare resources to search for one person who may well be fine when she knows for sure that there are people trapped in places where they'll die if they don't escape.

As it turns out Darcy and Alicia are trapped in a slowly flooding section and Darcy has dragged Alicia to the highest ground available.

Scientists do science.

Darcy returns to the wounded Alicia having found no way out.  Collapses and the like have cut them off and the water is rising.  Alicia is talking though there's no one there.

Alicia: Come on.  You've been bugging me with them for something like weeks now.  I think.  I honestly don't know for sure what month it is.  The point is: you owe me.  Just give me one.
*the sound of a pre-portal swirly thing can be heard on the other side of the collapsed bulkhead above Alicia*
Alicia: Wrong side.  Give me one I can use, damn it.
Darcy: Who are you talking to?
Alicia: The universe.

Scientists do science.

Darcy and Alicia are huddled together on the last bit of dry ground now that the water has risen significantly.

*A pre-portal swirly thing appears*
Alicia: Yes!
*Alicia hits it and a portal opens*
Alicia: Help me through?
Darcy: Where does it go?
Alicia: Does it matter?
*Darcy looks at the water and starts dragging the injured Alicia through the portal*
*The portal collapses behind them*
Darcy: Where are we?
Alicia: I don't know.  Shanghai maybe?
*Alicia passes out*

Meanwhile, back at the lab:
Ross: Foster can you track the portal that was just in [section of ship]
Foster: Yes.  Why?
Ross: I think Alicia just went through it.  It has her signature.

Scientists do epic science which saves the world in epicly epic ways.  I mean Dactylic Hexameter levels of epic here.

*Alicia begins the process of waking up*
Darcy: It was Hong Kong.
Alicia: (sleepily, in a hospital bed) What?
Darcy: It wasn't Shanghai, it was Hong Kong.
Alicia: Oh.  Sorry.
Darcy: Hill said to give you this.
*Darcy hands over an envelope, it contains all relevant ID reading Alicia instead of Alexander and Female instead of male*
*Alicia looks it all over*
Darcy: I wasn't expecting our first meal together to be in a hospital.
Alicia: We'll have to do better for our second date.
Alicia: There is going to be a second date... (uncertain) right?
Darcy: Definitely
*fade out*


Somewhere in the previous I was going to have Alicia explain that she hadn't been home (I'm making her a Mainer [terminal r not pronounced]) in years because she went to college in Virginia, and is now in grad school in Kansas.  Her parents are religious fanatics who won't speak to her, her grandparents are equally religious but very nice (fanatics for love!), but they've moved to Florida.  The fact that she's homesick for Maine sort of needs to be known for this last bit to make sense.


*after credits*
Alicia wakes up in her dorm room.  There are two clocks on the wall.  One labeled, "here," one labeled, "home," why they are lowercase is something you'd have to ask her.

She makes a motion with her right hand (have I mentioned she's left handed?  No?  Probably not important) flicking all of her fingers across her thumb.  She does this again and again.  Nothing happens.

Fade to her doing the same thing but with the clocks significantly advanced, it's almost dawn at "home"

Finally a pre-portal swirly thing appears above her hand in response to one of the motions.  She hits it and a portal opens up to a mountain top with a large rock pile and a sign saying it's the end of the Appalachian trail.  She steps through, the portal closes behind her, and she watches as the first rays of the sun appear over the horizon.  She screams, "I love Maine!"  (Because, "I love teleportation!" would make too much sense.)


This would still be a very white movie.  (Maine is the whitest state, or possibly second whitest depending on how you count, so Alicia is probably white, though not definitely.  Especially if she came from one of our few urban centers she stands a, still small, chance of bringing color.  All the established characters save Heimdall are white.  The extras and background characters at least could be more demographically mixed.)

Sexually it would have Darcy be bisexual (pretty sure she's expressed attraction to men before), Alicia a lesbian, and (of course) Alicia trans*.  So that's some minor improvement for Marvel in terms of representation.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I am back.

I'm back home, which means back in a place where I can get internet in ways other than going to a library which only happened twice.

Which means I Can Post Stuff!

Of course the hard part is always making the stuff.  Stuff doesn't make itself you know.  Stuff requires creativity and dedication and time and ... um... stuff.

So, yeah, back.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Aslan instead of Reza Aslan

The inspiration.


The short version:

Green: But why would a Lion care about a Human religion.

Aslan: I am a symbol of Jesus.  One who has been such a symbol since the 1950s.

Green: But, but you're a Lion and Christianity is a Human religion so why would you be interested in the founder of a human religion.

Aslan: I have been a symbol of Jesus in print for sixty three years and existed as a conception of such a symbolic representation of Jesus for seventy four years.  The entire reason for my existence is to represent Jesus.  It's what I do, it's who I am.

Green: That still begs the question why....


Long version:


Lauren Green: Aslan is a Lion who was once away allowing the White Witch to rule Narnia but has now returned to ways of his past--that's telling Narnia how it should be.  He is now an allegory-ish thing for Jesus.  Aslan joins me now from Narnia—welcome!

Aslan: Thank you for having me.

Green: Well, this is an interesting book; now I want to be clear about—you're a Lion, so why did you become a stand in for the founder of Christianity?

Aslan: Well, to be clear, I am a symbolic figure with seven books including one in which I die and I am resurrected who has been symbolizing Jesus for six decadeswho also just happens to be a Lion. So it's not that I'm just some Lion writing about a Human named Jesus. I am an expert with a long history in symbolizing Christian teachings.  Uh, but, I've been conceived of as a Jesus--

Green: But that still begs the question, though, it still begs the question why would you be interested in the founder of Christianity?

Aslan: Because it's my reason for existence as a symbol.  I am a symbolic character, one of Jesus.  Uh, that's what I am, actually.  So, I mean, it would be like asking Lazarus why he was a character in, y'know, a parable.  I mean, I'm not sure about that.  But, honestly, I've been conceived of as a symbol for Jesus since, really 1939.  I've been written as a symbol of him and his portion of the Trinity for over six decades, both in ordinary and fan fiction.  Just to be clear this is not some attack on Christianity, my author was a Christian, as are most of my fans.  Anyone who thinks that my symbolic nature is an attack on Christianity has not read the books yet.

Green: I, uh, but, I wanna, uh, I want to read you some quotes from, uh, some Hunans who are criticizing you—one from John Dickerson who has written a, uh, an op-ed piece on, and he says, um: "This is not an Human's symbol of Jesus. This is an educated Lion's caricature of Jesus." He says: "His conclusions are long-held Lionic claims, namely that Jesus was a Lion prophet type, who didn't claim to be god." Um—that—

Aslan: Well, that's actually not what Lions claims about Jesus. My, my work about Jesus overturns pretty much everything that Lions also think about Jesus, as well. And, to be clear, I just wanna emphasize this one more time: I am a symbol. I am a symbol of Jesus. This isn't a lion opinion. This is a symbolic work of literature.

Green: How, how are your findings different from what lions actually believe about Jesus?

Aslan: Well, Lions don't believe that Jesus was executed, first of all. Uh, I mean, Jesus was most definitely executed,. So, again, I mean, I know that we've mentioned this three times now. Uh, I'm not sure what my species happens to do with my sixty years of symbolizing Jesus.

Green: I'm just trying to bring out, um, what some others are claiming at this point, and I want you to answer to those claims, which is—

Aslan: Well, it's pretty clear that there are those who actually do not like the book, who are, y'know, unhappy with its general arguments. That's perfectly fine. I'm more than willing to talk about the arguments of the book itself. But I do think it's perhaps a little bit strange that rather than debating the arguments of the book, we are debating the right of a Lion to actually be a symbol in it.

Green: Well, let me, let me give you some, uh, let me give you some other quotes from, uh, Dr. William Lane Craig, um, who is a, uh, Christian philosopher and theologian. He's written a lot of books, and, um, done a lot of debates about science and religion. Um, he said: "Aslan merely reiterates bygone ideas about Christianity that have since been abandoned and refuted." What do you say to that?

Aslan: Well, I would disagree; [insert awesome here]

Green: Right, exactly, what're your—um, we're not talking about just people who disagree with you; scholars, many scholars, disagree with you as well. But I want to get to the heart of—

Aslan: Absolutely, and many scholars do agree with me—

Green: [crosstalk] —what do, what are your representations of Jesus?

[I ran out of steam.]

I'm fine

So, as it turns out, writing a post about depression to the point of being unable to move and then dropping off the net might not be the best of ideas.  People worry.  The good part of that is that it means people care.  The bad part is that they're worrying needlessly.  I am, in fact, fine.

Quite alright.  Good, in fact.

Whatever the opposite of worry is, that's what people should be doing.

The problem with having someone you love to spend time with live in another state is that teleportation hasn't been invented yet.

Teleporation, coined in 1931 by Charles Fort at first appears to be a simple hybrid word: tele is Greek for distance or far, port clearly comes from Latin.  In fact it's transportation with a tele replacing the trans and what it is not is something I can do.  Coming and going takes time, often on the bus.  The bus that is early when I am late and late when I am early.  Not something ideally suited for short periods at the destination.

So recently I've been coming down here for longer periods of time which has been very good for me but not so good for my presence on the internet.  There are small children here, as but one example, and they can occupy every second of your time without even trying.

So, do not worry, for I am quite good right now.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Why .hack//Sign matters

I guess it's worth talking about why I like .hack//Sign.  I started going through it, and Deus Ex, because I like these things immensely.  When I was down, when I was in a hole, they reached me.  They made me feel, they made me care.

I knew I needed more of that in my life, but I also knew that just telling myself, "Do things you like," was doomed to fail.  One of the problems of depression is that often the knowledge something will, or may, make you feel better is completely disconnected from the feeling.  You might know that, for however brief a time, X will lift you up but that doesn't help because you can't feel it.  When you can't feel it it's almost impossible to summon the emotional effort, the motivation, and the energy to actually do a thing.

And so, even when it doesn't stop you from being able to enjoy things, and a lot of the time it does, it stops you from doing the handful of things you still are capable of enjoying.

I thought running a deconstructionish thing would make me spend more time with these things that I cared about.  Obviously that didn't work.  I haven't had a Deus Ex or a .hack post up since I took over the Deconstruction Round Up at the Slacktiverse.

But that's why I started talking about it here.  It doesn't explain why I tracked down fandubs before the DVDs were released.  It doesn't explain why I watched episodes over and over again. It doesn't explain why I got the special limited edition of each volume right when it came out even though my response to basically everything else is to wait until the price goes down or just hope to record it off TV.

It doesn't explain why, for a time in my life, this was all that I had.

My mother couldn't understand my interest in the series.  I tried to explain, it's been so long I've forgotten the words but it was something like, "You know when he's on the ground and so depressed he can't move except the occasional finger?  I get that."  She didn't get that.  As far as I know she still has no understanding of my connection to the series.

You know that time when all happiness and joy was crushed, hope was but a faded memory, energy and effort were impossible to summon, motivation or even simple caring were listed firmly in the "Things it is impossible to do," column and all was clearly lost forever?  Been there, done that.

If I can get back to writing my posts we'll get there eventually.  But even so far one thing should be clear: this is a show about depression. Depression, isolation, loneliness, the way we push others away when we need them most and the way people who think they're helping make things worse, it's about anxiety and fear, it's about all the sads.  It's about my life.  And for some of my readers perhaps your life.

And it's about coming out on the other side.  It's about getting by with a little help from your friends.

I can't do that.  My depression definitely has a large chemical component, take me off the medication that works and even the most supportive, helpful, non-fuckupful people can only give me moments.  Fleeting moments of up, or emotion, or whatever, before I crash back down to normal.

But that's not what matters because Tsukasa's depression is not my depression and he was never a viewer insert character for me.  He was a fellow traveler. Someone whose problems were a lot, but not exactly, like my own.  Someone I wanted to gather up in my arms, hug, and assure it would be ok (while I prayed it wouldn't turn out I was lying.)

And someone who I realized that might be the wrong course of action for because, especially near the beginning, he's skittish and probably doesn't want to be touched.  But if I were somehow there I'd work with that and do whatever I could do to help even though it wouldn't be my dream scenario.

I cared about Tsukasa and the others.  Hopefully because I'm a decent human being and decent human beings care combined with the fact that really good fiction makes the characters come alive for you so you end up caring about them the way you care about real people.  But possibly because Tsukasa was someone like me on screen.  There was a time when he couldn't summon the energy to move.  He was able to move a hand enough to grope around until he found a teddy bear.  That was it.

Then he flicked, with one finger, one of its eyes.  Single finger movement, beyond breathing, which I don't actually know if he did (remember the setting) that was all he had in him so that was all he put out. Flick.  Again and again and again and again...  The same action over and over again.  Taking refuge in repetitive action.  I know that.  Rock back and forth.  Click a pen.  Rub some part of yourself.  (Please keep minds out of the gutter, for me it was my chest, not a lot of gutter stuff there.)  Drag your finger back and forth across something.  (Took me way too long to realize that I was doing this with my left index finger on my inner thigh and that was why all my jeans were failing in the same strange place.)

Eventually the eye breaks off of the teddy bear.  So he switches to the other. Flick. Over and over, and over again.

Then that one breaks off.  And he goes to the finger dragging.  Like my jeans the teddy bear can't take it indefinitely, breaks open, and the motion starts pulling out the stuffing.


If you don't get this then understand something: You're lucky.  Very lucky.

May your luck hold and may you never understand what it is to be unable to move because you can't care enough to do it.

No doubt there are many people who have never experienced depression who beat me in the "Life sucks" Olympics.  Almost all forms of bigotry leave me untouched.  I may always be on the edge of being homeless and broke, but until that day comes (and I swear it looks more likely all the time) my life style actually is pretty much middle class, give or take.  Oppressive poverty is unknown to me and that's one area where I definitely hope my luck holds.  But even if you're objectively seventy thousand times worse off than me, if you've never known depression, if you don't understand what I'm talking about, that's one area where you're lucky. It may not seem like much from your angle, but from this angle it seems like everything.

So there was someone like me on screen.  I never saw people like me.

Depression tends to isolate people.

Looking at the world through shit colored glasses can make you an asshole.  The worst part of being an asshole: you're an asshole.  Beyond the obviously moral problems with that state of affairs it tends to keep people away.  Another depressed person isn't likely to brave that shit to meet you so the two of you can learn how alike you are.

Depression also tends to prevent you from reaching out. Two depressed people who share all the same interests and are in all the same places might never introduce themselves.  Probably won't even.  So even if I was surrounded by people like me I never knew they were people like me and thus never saw them as people like me.

It's for reasons like this that depressed people stories tend to involve something extraordinary drawing others in. The person is naturally isolated.  Maybe it's a van spinning across the ice rink of a parking lot at absurd speeds through a sea of faces while Edward Cullen is standing four cars down and ... why the fuck wasn't school cancelled?  Or maybe it's someone being unable to log out of a video game when that should be impossible and raises serious questions about the health of their body back in the real world.  Whatever it is something forces someone to push through the wall around the depressed person depression has built up.  That's the fantasy.

So I'd never really seen people like me.  And then insomnia, the neighbor's loud air conditioner (or maybe something else, long boring story) booting me out of my room, and Cartoon Network introduced me to Tsukasa.  Someone like me.  Someone who wanted to be left alone in spite of being unhappy in loneliness and missing the company of the very people he drove away. Someone who shared my problems, someone who had times when he couldn't even move.  Someone with my disease.

This was a time when I watched the Shawshank Redemption untold and untellable amounts of times because I lacked the energy to get up, cross the room, and put another DVD in the player so I just kept using the remote control to restart it every time the movie ended.  Couldn't move myself, could move a finger.  Just like Tsukasa.

This was a time when I'd sit and stare off into space because I allowed a moment of freedom to enter my life and without being forced to do something I would do nothing.  Forever.  Except for small repetitive motions.  Those I would do. Just like Tsukasa.

And that's why the show matters so much to me.  It's not a show about me.  My depression is different. It's a show about someone like me.  It's a show about someone like me where hope triumphs even though it seems impossible.  Where the light at the end of the tunnel isn't a train (or a white phosphorus fire, or a death ray, or a spotlight the bandits are using so they can shoot you before you even see them, or a...)  Where hope is a good thing and no good thing ever dies.  (I told you I watched the Shawshank Redemption a lot.)

It was a show about someone like me who could make friends instead of alienate them (more the friends doing than his own) where in spite of feeling worthless he could be cared about.  It was a show about someone like me where it was possible for that someone to fall in love, (and that love to survive a massive curve ball.)  It was a show where someone like me could have a happy ending even though that seemed impossible for someone like me.

It wasn't, and I want to stress this so much, a show with a viewer insert character.  Tsukasa was himself, not an identity I could slip into to vicariously experience the fictional story.  It wasn't a show about me, or one I could pretend was about me, it was about someone LIKE me.

That's why it mattered to me.  That's why it matters in general.

And that is also why it's important to have characters, not as tokens or stereotypes, exist that reflect the vast diversity of humanity.  Having a show about someone like you can make a huge difference in your life.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Premises that I feel were unfairly ignored (by their own shows)

So cataloging everything has resulted in me bumping into a fair amount of Battlestar Galactica and Sancturary.

The lack of plan in Battlestar Galactica is something I've talked about at great length, though I'm not sure if ever in main posts.  It's particularly egregious because for years it was literally spelled out (white letters on a black screen) that "And they have a plan" was a pretty central part of the premise to the point that they put it at the beginning of every episode to the point that until they (finally) took that part out it was impossible to watch an episode of the show without having the idea that the Cylons have a plan (spoiler: they don't) embedded in your mind.

By the end you learn that they're at the levers of power.  Galactica, the only Battlestar that could be foreseen to survive the Cylon attack, was laden with them.  One was second in command, his estranged wife another, another led the deck crew, another was a pilot, another was giving fracking tours.  It was predictable that if anyone survived the attack Galactica would be the military ship to do it (Pegasus was an unpredictable survival and so had only one Cylon to it's name.)

Every time there's a human resistance there's either one or three Cylons leading it.

When the head of government needs a new aide who has been patiently waiting to step into that role?  A Cylon.

So the show seemed well set up for there to be a plan, the Cylons were all in position, unlike the humans who were running just as fast as they could just to keep from falling further behind, the Cylons seems to have everything well in hand and everything going according to their unknown plan.  Except when the curtain was pulled away there wasn't even a man behind it.  Not only was there no wizard of Oz, there was no man known as the Wizard of Oz.  There was nothing there, just an empty promise.

(A point driven painfully home in the Battlestar Galactica movie: The Plan which was basically two hours of, "Ha, ha.  Fooled you.  There's actually nothing to see here.")

Also underplayed, and eventually discarded, thrown to the floor, and finally jumped on over and over again was that the twelve models of Cylons were created to be in line with what the Cylons believed were the 12 Archetypes of humanity.  (As compared to First Wave where there were 117 archetypes and the only one that mattered was 117 itself.  The other 116 would crack under the strain and be easily tossed aside.)

The premise, soon tossed aside, was that the Cylons looked at humanity, considered it, analysed it, broke it down, deconstructed, reconstructed, and finally came to the conclusion that there are really only twelve of us.  Differences in life experience lead to apparent variation, but there are only 12 initial personalities.

When the premise was abandoned it meant that we never got to learn what the 12 personality types the Cylons believed in were.  It also meant that there's something else we couldn't do.  The Cylon belief that there are only really 12 types of human would naturally lead to the belief that every human on the show could be pigeonholed into one of those types and therefore every human would have a Cylon model that represented the Archetype under which they fell.

Like I said, this premise was abandoned.  By the end it turns out that when they set out to make themselves in the image of humanity the number they settled on was eight, one of which died off due to sabotage.

Enough Battlestar for now.


Sanctuary.  The idea was that it was a Sanctuary for all.  The mission of those who worked there was to help those who needed help, protect the abnormals who needed protection from the rest of humanity, protect the rest of humanity from the abnormals humanity needed protection from.

So it would seem like the breakdown would be half episodes saving abnormals, half episodes saving normals from abnormals, the margin of error in the middle providing medical assistance and therapy to those already at the Sanctuary.

It's made very clear in the first episode that the place is not a zoo.  It's not a place where they hunt down rare dangerous animals to put them in cages.

For at least a couple of episodes that was maintained.  The boy was to be protected, kept safe from the police because what happened was not his fault, taught to control it so he would no longer be a danger to people, so on, so forth.

Rumors of something brought them in the second episode and while they did a lot of shooting and killing a good portion of the episode was about treating the just woken from suspended animation witches that I don't think we ever hear from again.

But very, very soon it stopped being a sanctuary for all and started being a zoo in which we follow the people who collect their rare dangerous animals for it.

Study was always a part of the Sanctuary premise, so them searching the world for abnormals of this sort or that certainly could and should have been fit into the show, but that was supposed to be secondary to the whole "sanctuary for all" thing.  Moreover, there doesn't seem to be much call to search for X or Y that's doing just fine in its habitat, boxing it up, and forcibly carrying it back to the sanctuary so it can be imprisoned for study.  Yet there were definitely episodes about doing just that.

And the idea of a sanctuary for all brings up an interesting question that I don't ever recall being addressed: what happens when normal people want sanctuary?  The whole "for all" thing means that they're definitely on the guest list, but they're not who the institution is for and their problems are likely of an entirely different sort.

But, like I said, the idea seemed to be quickly abandoned.

(Also note that the idea of the five was first introduced with the idea that they were immortals all.  Turned out they were immortals three.  With no explanation for why Jack the Ripper is.  It seems to naturally go with being a vampire so evil-Tesla being immortal makes sense even though that's supposed to be Magnus' power.  How teleportation grants you immortality is somewhat lost on me.)

Anyway, sanctuary for all: interesting premise, too bad its show didn't make use of it.


Tron, either one, there is a metaphysical quality to computers such that programs are people (with the power to think and, apparently, free will) and cyberspace is an actual space in which these program-people live.

The first movie introduces elements that allow the free will component to come into play: An AI worthy of the name capable of contact with the outside world; a human being thrown into the world of programs.

The second takes place entirely on a computer that has been running for 20 years with no outside input and is under the leadership of the one who lead a coup to kick the users out of power.

In neither do we get an exploration of what these metaphysical program-people with free will would do given the chance and impetus.  Even though both movies give them those things.


Every zombie movie ever.  People come together in the face of disaster to the point that those who think they won't usually do more damage than those who don't get on board the whole coming together thing.

We would see people in a largely overrun city trying to hold the line so ambulances could go back and forth, back and forth, transporting to safety safer those who wouldn't survive the trip in less medically inclined vehicles.  We would see the people who think, "I just have to run faster than the person next to me," looked down on and abandoned in favor of those who think, "I just have to help the person next to me run faster."

We would see teamwork and cooperation.


Sharknado which was about a sharkicane and Malibu Shark Attack which was about a sharknami.  These movies should have been Hard Rain with Sharks.  I understand they presumably couldn't afford Morgan Freeman and I do recognize that parts of Malibu Shark Attack almost kind of sort of verged on it.  Even so fell below the expectations of what a movie that combines: "Oh my god the streets/whatevers are flooded, we should have evacuated when we had the chance," with, "Sharks!  Six metric fucktons of SHARKS!" should be like.

Of course, those two movies were basically designed to fall below expectations, they're meant to be "So bad it's good," so it's not surprising that they fail to meat "should be like," since they were never intended to.


Compare any of Lost's various contradictory premises most of which involved outright lying to the audience then saying, "I know I lied to you before but this time I'm for real," to the actual television series itself.

Ditto for Alias.


Stargate Universe failed to live up to anything, including but in no way limited to its premise.


A lone Federation ship is cast far from home and desperately attempts to make the journey home knowing that they cannot count on outside help, replenishing their supplies, or not dying of old age before they get there.  They struggle in more or less the right direction having no idea what is coming but hoping they can get to the other side with their lives and morals intact.

Voyager didn't live up to that.  The Equinox episodes didn't really either; they just made it seem like the only options were the Voyager way and "Our ship is powered by MURDER!" *cue creepy music*.


Any number of series that sell themselves as having an episodic premise but then immediately introduce a myth arc because screw the episodic premise you came here for.  What the hell is wrong with you that you actually believed the advertising?


The Star Wars Prequels.  Here's the story they were supposed to tell according to the original trilogy.


In Underworld Lucian's past was thus:
-Werewolves were slaves.  The daylight guardians of vampires.
-Lucian, one such slave, bore vampires no ill will.
-Lucian fell in love with a vampire and they married (which was forbidden.)
-When his wife became pregnant she was executed by daylight while Lucian was forced to watch.
-Lucian led a slave revolt in the memory of his vampire bride.
-While vampires spent the intervening years trying to exterminate werewolves, Lucian led the werewolves in trying to find a way to unite the two species.

This is a "Who you are," story which I maintain are better than "What you are," stories.  Lucian isn't special because he's some fun kind of werewolf, he's just another slave, instead what matters is that he internalized his oppression to the point that he had nothing against vampires, which in turn allowed him to get emotionally close enough to fall in love with a vampire, and that he cared about that love enough to break with his past entirely and become the leader of the werewolves against the oppression of the vampires even though he was actually initially ok with the oppression itself.

He was a slave who had internalized his slave status to such a degree he had no ill will towards those who made him, and everyone like him, into one and yet he became the leader of those slaves.  Not just leading them to freedom but leading them during centuries of freedom.  And while some might plot revenge or dominance he plotted equality.

He's a complex character who changes and grows.

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans totally failed to go with any of that.  He is super special because he's the first Lycan able to take human form, he knows slavery is bad from the beginning rather than having to over come his own internalization of the system, stuff like that.


Prequels in general are, I think, overly willing to toss the story they promised to tell in favor of the one the creator has a whim to tell today.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

My birthday

It may have become apparent (since I mentioned it a few times and it has been mentioned elsewhere) that today is my birthday.

Given that I've got two or three imminent financial collapses in my near future, if you want to get me something please use the donate button to help fend off said collapses.  If you have no money to give I totally understand that so don't feel bad or anything.

Also, good news, I'm back on the medication that works.  It'll take a while to kick in but when it does I will be so very much better than I am right now.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Book of Acts, Chapter 2, Verses 44 to 47

Or "44 to End" if you prefer to talk that way.
All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
Or, as it is written in my grandmother's childhood Bible that she was given in mid 1930:
And all that believed were together, and had all things in common.  And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.  And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness or heart, Praising God, and having favor with all the people.  And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
Either way, the message is clear: sell what you've got so that you can give the money to others in greater need than yourself.  Do that and you will have the goodwill/favor of the people and your numbers will grow.

Sounds like something a liberal would say.  Not just a liberal but a hardcore leftist commie.  ("To each according to his need"?  You get the impression Marx was thinking of this chapter and verse.  If Marx had in fact originated the phrase rather than merely popularizing it.)

Which is what brought it up in my mind today.  On Twitter they've got this hashtag: #thingsyoumighthearaliberalsay.  And, if you're thinking of things you might hear one say, Bible quotes come to mind fast.  In another culture it would probably be quotes from a different holy book, but here it's Bible quotes.

Of course when I tried to contribute to the conversation I wrote the wrong numbers.  I called verse 44 verse 45 and verse 45 verse 46.  That probably invalidates my contribution.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Ongoing TV Series Proposals: The Poseidon Adventure/Catastrophe

With total financial collapse looming and such (yesterday I checked how much money was in my bank account, less than needed to pay off my credit card* hopefully today I got paid and thus can pay the card by the deadline on the 10th but when the bill comes in for the crown on my tooth that needed the root canal I am so screwed) I've been trying to label, sort, and catalog my various DVDs.

Clearly a completely rational decision.

A big part of this was spurred on by my DVD player giving a warning sign it might be dying.  If DVDs don't get finalized they can only be read on the player they were recorded on.  If that player craps out then they're Frisbees.  Of course finalization is kind of final which means any changes to a DVD need to be made first.  Such as setting a chapter mark at the end of every commercial break in a double feature of Poseidon and The Poseidon Adventure so that in later viewings one can skip the commercials by hitting the skip to next chapter button the moment a commercial break begins.

Setting those chapter breaks, and removing ones that would land you in the middle of commercials, is a strange experience that's kind of like watching the movies on fast forward with a few parts slowed down and shown in incredible detail.

And this whole lead up has been coming to this:

What I noticed for the first time is that the 2006 movie is about people escaping through the bow.  In The Poseidon Adventure (the original 1972 one linked to above not the 2005 TV movie with Adam Baldwin) the group headed toward the bow was doomed, another group Gene Hackman tried to talk sense into but couldn't save, another spot for disagreement between himself and Ernest Borgnine.

There were no two ways out in the movies, even counting the Adam Baldwin version there was only ever room for one group of survivors.  (To get more than that you needed to hire Michael Caine for Beyond The Poseidon Adventure in 1979.)  But why should that be the case?

According to a quick Google search the modern giant cruise ships (I was searching for "average", I got giant) carry over 4 thousand people (that includes passengers and crew) why should only ten or less survive?

Toss average and go with giant because that's the number I have to work with.  Assume 90% of the people were killed in the capsizing and sinking of the Poseidon.  That gives you 400 people who lived.  If you show an average of eight people escaping per episode that's around three seasons worth of a TV show.  In reality the average will probably be lower meaning more episodes.  Maybe one episode follows two people, but you can't really have another episode follow 14 to make the average work out to the previously mentioned eight because you've only got an hour to get to know those people.  Not enough time for 14 people.

The original movie took two hours to aquatint you with six survivors, averaging three per hour.  The Adam Baldwin movie upped that to, if I remember correctly, 11 survivors, 5.5 per hour.  The new movie goes back down to six.  Beyond the Poseidon Adventure I don't remember how many survived but two of them weren't even from the ship to begin with.

My point here is that episodes would likely have only a handful of survivors in them because an hour of TV just isn't that much time to get to know people, so the 90% fatality rate that I gave earlier would mean that you wouldn't need to worry about running out of survivors to build your episodes around any time soon.  Instead the question would be how you can keep the basic premise ("We have to escape from an upside-down ship.") interesting.

The idea allows for no regular cast (more like Twilight Zone/Outer Limits [are there any largely upbeat anthology shows?] than Star Trek/Doctor Who) and would likely be roundly rejected by everyone with the power to make a TV series.

An opening narration, which should probably be personalized to each episode (on of the survivors of the episode giving the voice to the voice over) might go like this:

Everyone heard about the story on the news, but no one ever told it right.  The focus was always on death, not life.  The great tragedy, not the small triumphs.

If you look at the story as a picture, or perhaps an out of focus helicopter video, and a death toll then you miss the actual story.

If you focus on the ninety percent who died then you're missing what really matters:

One in ten lived.  The ninety percent all have the same story, that ended the same day.  And so, even with their overwhelming numbers, they represent just a tiny piece of the puzzle.  One minor part of the picture.  If you want to know the real story you have to look at the other ten percent.  How did they live, how did they get out when so many others didn't.

Stories aren't meant to be told by pundits and sensationalists who care only for how much they can inflate their ratings.  Stories are told by survivors.  And if you want to know the story of the Poseidon your first question has to be: "How did they survive?"

Except, you know, better.  I'm tired and out of sorts now.  Thus the above isn't all it could be.  Plus, individualizing for the episodes should go beyond just the voice saying the voice over, it should go into the content of the voice over.  Basic idea ("It's not about the 90% who died, it's about the 10% who lived,") would be unchanged but the details, as well as what is stressed as important in the voice over, would change from episode to episode.


* Keeping track of what day it is matters.  I get 200 dollars a month in food money on a food card.  Money that can only be used for food.  This is a good thing because it means that no matter how fucked everything else may become I'll always at least be assured of food.  If the money could be put toward housing or debt reduction or whatnot then that wouldn't be true.  Money that can only be used for its intended purpose is a GOOD THING.  It means that no matter how I may fuck up I need not fear hunger.

(If I had a landlord who wanted to bleed me dry they could not count the food money amougst the income to be squeezed out of me because it can only be used for food.)

But while it is a good thing it's still possible to fuck up a good thing.  The money comes in on a specific day.  Normally I keep that in mind and am well on top of exactly how much money is left.  For some reason I wasn't thinking right.  I stocked up, got a month's worth of food, four days before the money came in.  I think I had seven dollars left on the card.  Maybe it was nine.  An odd number less than ten for sure.

So there, at the register, I had to make a snap decision.  Do I say, "Fuck it, I can't pay," and make the entire shopping trip be for nothing, or do I put it on my credit card?  I put it on the card.

Add that to other expenses during the month which were themselves unusually high (computer problems and whatnot that needed to be fixed) and the previous drain on my bank account from the root canal and... fuck.

Today I should have gotten my monthly, "Hey, your disabled," payment.  Didn't manage to make myself get around to checking during bank hours.  I'll check tomorrow.  If I have enough then I'll pay the card then, but it's clear that my savings are tending toward negative numbers just based on the fact that without the gap between the payment I get and the payment that's due I'd have less than nothing.

Sometimes life sucks.