Saturday, December 31, 2016

Overall 2016 was a good year for me

It had it's bumps, and I sympathize with those who feel like this was the worst year ever.  We lost many people.  But if Trump is the disaster of a President many have good reason to fear he will be, that will make next year horrible, and many more to come.  So I'm going to end this year remembering it fondly.

If you look at my other 4 BlogSpot/Blogger blogs, you'll see that my views and ideology have shifted somewhat over the last year.  Much of it is changes the seeds for which had been planted earlier.  But the learning I did this year was vitally formative.  And I said much on those blogs I feel is very important.

On this blog also I wrote some of the most ambitious posts I've placed on it.  Most recently the Star Wars and Fascism one.  But also The French History of The Femme Fatale, The Mysteries of Gotham, The Night is Darkest Just Before The Dawn, the post about liking longer movies, the "Show Don't Tell" post, and plenty more.  However these have mostly failed to become the most viewed posts, perhaps I've been lazier about promoting them.

The majority of what I've done on my YouTube channel was posted this year.  At the bottom of this post I may put a few of my really recent ones.  And I created many Memes.

And for my fictional writing career, I shared what I wrote last year, and wrote it's sequel.

I was endlessly entertained by this Election, as much of a sad commentary as it was.  To a large extent following it has contributed to the above mentioned refining of my beliefs.  Of course there were points where it made me feel a little down, but I had plenty to pick me back up.

I have mixed feeling towards Batman V Superman, and the Animated stuff we got from DC.  But I loved Suicide Squad, and with a few reservations enjoyed what DC gave me on TV.  Ghostbusters was acceptable.  PLL was still great though my long honey moon phase with it is over.  The MCU films we got were not as fun for me as the first two phases but probably better then what we got in 2015.  And to top it all off we had Rogue One.

But the main thing I have to say about entertainment media this year, is that I've decided for the near future, with a few notable exceptions, I pretty much only care about what comes out of Japan.  Mainly Anime, and Video Games, but I started trying to read Manga for the first time ever, and watched the Live Action adaptations of Death Note.

Probably 75-90% of the total Anime I have seen I've seen for the first time in the last three years, it was some point in 2014 when I saw Madoka and Sailor Moon was revived and I decided to start regularly keeping up with Anime, sorta.  And this year I was indulging in it even more then I did the prior two years.

Only a small portion of that is Anime that came out this year.  High School Fleet, SMC season 3, Flip Flapper, Izetta, and some shows I started but didn't finish yet.  Three of those four examples mark the first time I ever followed new Anime as they originally aired, I've usually done this by Binge Watching.  Oh and movie wise the 3rd Rebuild film which took awhile to get Dubbed.

It's actually hard for me to imagine the fact that it was less then a year ago I first watched Lucky Star.  Because it has quickly become a pretty important part of how I define myself as an Anime Nerd.  But because of some online documentation, I know I hadn't watched it yet when the year started.  And that strange as it may seem I first watched Haruhi after I'd seen Lucky Star, likewise with K-On.

My second watching of Lucky Star, or at least second time watching it all the way through.  Was on Election Day actually, so I was amused by returning to Konata's election coverage interrupting her Anime comment.  Thanksgiving was the day I watched Dubbed Nanoha, both seasons, and I will always remember that fondly.

I don't think I could name all the anime I first discovered this year, and I may regret later some of what I'm considering it a priority to mention here.  But if you go over my blog, a good deal of what I mention was often stuff I only recently saw.  Particularly my comments on the Fate/ franchise and that High School of The Dead post, which were quite fresh in my minds when I felt compelled to comment on them.

Also the Dub of YuriKuma, and I think after that Penguindrum.  And Wixoss.

There a few I stupidly can't remember exactly when, Yuru Yuri was late 2015 at the soonest, I know it was strongly on my mind in April of this year, and I did some revisiting of it in the last couple weeks.

But a good deal of my Anime viewing this year was revisiting some of what I already loved.  Like Noir which I made a post on, and then after that watching it Subbed for the first time.  Also Engaged to The Unidentified, which in 2014 was the first Comedy/Slice of Life Anime I ever watched, I revisited it partly on my Birthday if I recall correctly.

Also just this last month has seen a huge increase in my PreCure knowledge.  Including a handful of the films, none of which I'd seen before.

I've also gotten into the wider Anime Fandom more.  Following Digibro, and other YouTubers, and being endlessly amused by Two Fat Guys Talk.  I should also shout out to Vrai and JosieNextDoor.

So I had a lot of fun this year.  But I intend to make next year even better if Trump doesn't kill us all.  Between New Anime that will come out next year, Anime I've deliberately kept on hold like SAO which I have low expectations for, PLL going out with a Bang, Wonder Woman and Justice League reforging the Superhero film genre, Star Wars Episode VIII, I may check out Kong.  And I forget if next year is the Jurassic World sequel or is that 2018?

So let's keep looking up.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Star Wars is about Fascism, but is it so in a way that is actually useful in opposing Fascism?

So my fellow SJWs at TheMarySue and LadyGeekGirl and on Tumblr have been going on and on about how Star Wars is obviously political.  What they mainly mean by that is it's obviously on their side, and want to use that George Lucas and the new directors are all mostly on the Left of modern American politics as proof of that.  But the Author Is Dead and George Lucas especially was like Tolkien in that he wanted his stories to have a universal appeal beyond his own personal views or context.

But I'm not making this to talk about any intentional room for interpretation.  But rather a far deeper issue of how society responds to the fiction they watch.  And to start with you should watch this video from KyleKallgrenBHH on YouTube.

From Caligari to Hitler: Imagining the Tyrant - Between the Lines

This premise goes back decades. But this particular video on it was made in November of 2016, after the U.S. presidential Election of that month but before Rogue One came out.  I had watched it when it was still pretty new and bookmarked it on YouTube.

Rogue One is a movie I loved and enjoyed.  But as I looked at a certain segment of Star Wars fans not so impressed with it, expressing how bothered they were by people in their theater openly cheering on Darth Vader at the end.  I was reminded of the above video.

Because this thesis was not mainly about heroes of German cinema who could be viewed as unintentional proto-Nazis, though that was a small factor.  It mostly came down to the tendency of the masses to be fascinated by Villains.  Star Wars has always had that factor, it is the TVTropes Trope Namer for Rooting For The Empire.  And recently The Fanboy Perspective did an editorial about how annoyed he is by movies who's villains are not sufficiently charismatic and Bad@$$ enough to satisfy him.

Now don't get me wrong.  That Vader scene is one you are supposed to "enjoy".  You are supposed to "enjoy" it the same way you "enjoy" a Slasher film.  But of course the fandom of Slasher films has this same problem, I keep seeing people try to say the Final Girl archetype is Feminist, but they don't sell action figures of Laurie Strode, they sell action figures of Michael Myers.

Now I was planning on making this post and saying what I am about to say before Carrie Fisher was even hospitalized.  But naturally I now find it even more important to say that the character people should have been standing up and cheering at the end of Rogue One was Princess Leia.

And of course I can't help but notice the clear correlation between this kind of Star Wars fan, and the Prequel Haters.  People who resent the Prequels for emasculating Darth Vader, and are oh so thankful now to Rogue One for restoring his Manhood, quite literally symbolized by the extending of his Lightsaber.

And we see that in the new Trilogy's haters also to an extent, not liking how whiny and pathetic Kylo Ren seems, they wanted a new Vader, not a Vader wannabe.

Now before you go "great Job invoking Godwin's Law in your ongoing Crusade against Prequel Haters".  I want to say, don't oversimplify my premise.  I'm not sawing you can identify Trump voters by tallying who cheered on Darth Vader, or who hated the Prequels.  On Tumblr I certainly know many Prequel haters who are Anti-Trump, and the most Conservative Star Wars fan I know is a relative who's pretty okay with the Prequels.  My point is that there is a basic cultural overlap between the mentality that leads to thinking the Villains are the best parts of Comic Book films, and finding Trump's style appealing.

And I know full well The Prequels also give us a Villain to be fascinated by, as they finally gave The Emperor an actual character.  Yet at the same time so much Prequel hate is tied to feeling Darth Maul and Count Dooku were under utilized.  And complaining about Anakin killing the Younglings.

Yes, that is an important comparison to the Rogue One scene.  Undeniably that should show the character's Evilness far more.  In Rogue One he's killing enemy combatants, not even a War Crime much less one against civilians, it's wrong only to the extent he is on the wrong side.  But it's not so easy to cheer on Vader massacring Younglings, which Lucas kept off-screen anyway.  More importantly then that though, is how it doesn't make him seem Bad@$$, it makes him seem Pathetic.  Sidious had basically just told him he needed to so some Evil for the Evuls to grow more powerful with The Dark Side, and so he did just that.  Reminds me of how Utena fans who hate the movie are so upset by Akio now being made to look pathetic, Ikuhara did that deliberately.

The massacre of the Seperatists leaders could have been far easier to cheer on.  But the way it's scored and shot, and how it's inter-cut with Palpatine's speech (Lucas cited this as his one Godfather Baptism moment) discourages the audience from doing so.  Topped off by seeing how even this killing of people who narratively had it coming had Anakin crying, showing he still has further to fall, and is certainly as Yoda predicted "Suffering".

I also noticed recently a problem in how all the universally praised Star Wars films, are ones where the "War" in question in unquestioningly a just one, for our Heroes side at least.  And in TFA and Rogue One even more so then the Original Trilogy, hesitancy to go all in on fighting it is presented as weakness.  While The Prequels which send the message that fighting an unjust war, one where our Heroes were the aggressors, is what created The Empire in the first place, get decried as not being simple enough.

2002 saw the release of both Attack of The Clones and The Two Towers.  That was also the year the Bush Administration was beating the War Drums on Iraq, so much so my mind still affiliates that War with 2002 more so then 2003.   Both films happen to have a theme of a War about to break out, which it does at the end.  Bizarre coincidence since it couldn't have been pre-planned.

The sad Irony is that Tolkien would certainly despise the Bush Doctrine as someone traumatized by WWI.  Yet the timing of when the Two Towers movie came out allowed many Bush voters in the theater to take Aragorn's "Open War is upon you, whether you would have it or not" as a take that to Anti-War liberals.  I know this because way back then I was one, a fact I'm deeply ashamed of.  Meanwhile AOTC clearly presents the decision to go to War as a mistake.  The Empire was truly Born in Episode II, as the score beautifully tells you that at the end.  It was just formalized in Episode III.  I wonder to what extent the Prequels are a factor in my ceasing to be Pro-War by 2006.

Going back to Lucas intent, yes he wanted to cosmetically reference the Nazis like everyone was doing at that time.  But in the Audio Commentaries the real meat when he's talking about Historical influences lie in his talking about Ancient Rome and of all people Napoleon III.  Julius and Augustus Caesar, and both Napoleons presented themselves as the Left Wing of the politics of their times, however odd that may seem to us looking at it now.  Lucas message in the prequels was about how Democracy can be subverted, regardless of the ideology of the one subverting it.

That he cited Napoleon III is interesting to me.  Years after I'd first enjoyed those Audio Commentaries, I started developing an interest in 19th Century French Popular fiction, the genesis of which was discovering Paul Feval and BlackCoatPress.  Brain Stableford talks much about the historical contexts of all these novels in his Introductions, Afterwards and Footnotes of his Translations, (interestingly in The Invisible Weapon he theorized Feval become personally disturbed by his own ability to write such compelling villains, that he became like Mliton, unknowingly of The Devil's Party).  And there too Napoleon III is unavoidable.  He may be a nearly forgotten figure today, but to his contemporaries he was very important.

And of course the shadow of Napoleon Classic Version is vital to that.  Especially since censorship meant any negative commentary on him had to veiled.  And he had critics from both progressives and old fashioned conservatives.  Seemingly any novel mentioning the original Napoleon in the 1850s, 60s or even to an extent 70s had Napoleon III in mind.  But not using OG Napoleon himself as the allegory, no they didn't want to grant him that.

The thing about the real Napoleon was that he managed to earn the respect even of those who most harshly opposed him Politically, from both the Royalists and Republicans, from Alexandre Dumas to Paul Feval.  Napoleon III couldn't do that.  And thus the contemporary fictional allegories for him lie in the Napoleon wannabes.  Like Henri Belcamp of Paul Feval's John Devil, or The Blackcoats: Companions of The Treasure, where Julian Bozzo-Corona disguised himself as his far more iconic Corsican Grandfather, Colonel Bozzo-Corona.

Of course it is this failed wannabe nature of how Napoleon III was fictionalized by his contemporaries that makes someone in the know like me a little disappointed in Palapatine as a character partly inspired by him.  And this informs what I in-spite of my issues with TFA love about Kylo Ren.  It is Kylo Ren's failure to be Darth Vader that reminds me of Napleon III's failure to be Napoleon.  And I now kinda hope Snoke is equally a wannabe Sidious, overcompensating in his hologram, so no one question the size of his.... hands.

I realize I kinda left the original topic a bit there.  But I wanted to show I'm not just being a hater who's now completely cynical to seeing useful Politics in Star Wars.  Because Donald Trump also wants to be something he is not.  The Alt-Right sees this as a second American Revolution, but Trump is no George Washington.

Some people might find it offensive to see any French Figure as a proto-Fascist when France was a nation victimized by 1940s Fascists.  But in their current Political Climate they should know they're no more immune to it then America is.

June 20th 2017 Update: Triumph of The Will

I just watched a YouTube video by Folding Ideas about Triumph of The Will. It didn't exist yet when I first made this post.

It was informative on a few levels, the key thing is the closing, that this film that defines how we think of the Nazis, is how the Nazis wanted people to think of them.  It really makes you rethink things.

Because the imagery of that infamous Propaganda film is also core to how fictional evil Empires and Tyrants are compared to the Nazis to demonize them.  Including in Star Wars.  And yet paradoxically I've also seen it observed that this movie influenced the Rebellion's award ceremony at the end.  You know, the one where the Blond White Male heroes get Medals but the hairy alien who can't talk properly doesn't.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Rest in Peace Carrie Fisher

Leia was not usually my favorite Star Wars character, yet I had teared up at the end of Rouge One on December 16th.

She was a multitalented woman, and will be greatly missed.

Also with SW on my mind, I feel I should again say Res tin Peace to Kenny Baker.  R2-D2 will always be the real Star of Star Wars.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Rogue One was fantastic

I don't want to spoil anything in this post.

But it was great, the ending was Phenomenal, I teared up.

I probably like this movie more then The Force Awakens.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Tales of the Shadowmen 13: Sang Froid is now availible to order

Tales of the Shadowmen 13: Sang Froid

In stock
edited by J-M. & R. Lofficier
cover by Michel Borderie
stories by Jason Scott Aiken, Matthew Baugh, Adam Mudman Bezecny, Nicholas Boving, Nathan Cabaniss, Matthew Dennion, Brian Gallagher, Martin Gately, Travis Hiltz, Paul Hugli, Rick Lai, Nigel Malcolm, Christofer Nigro, John Peel, Frank Schildiner, Sam Shook, Michel Stéphan, David L. Vineyard and Jared Welch.

US$23.95/GBP 15.99 - 6x9 tpb, 300 p. - ISBN-13: 978-1-61227-578-9
Sang Froid, i.e. Cold Blood! The ability to stay calm in difficult or even dangerous situations... as exhibited by French sleuth Joseph Rouletabille aboard the transiberian "Horror Express"... Or martial arts master Caine and Jed Puma confronted by an insane plan to seize the Wild Wild West... Not to forget the great warlock Quentin Moretus Cassave coming face to face with the Dark Gods, Doctor Omega determined to solve a most enigmatic temporal murder, Sâr Dubnotal battling Dracula, and Sir Wilfred Ivanhoe sworn to defeat the evil Bishop of Aquila...

All this, plus the return of Fantômas, the People of the Pole and the Enchanted City of Africa, Vampires in Berlin and Los Angeles, and a host of Frankenstein Monsters!

In this thirteenth volume of Tales of the Shadowmen, the only anthology dedicated to international heroes and villains of pulp literature, writers from Canada, England, France and the United States, pay homage to those great champions and master criminals who enchanted our adolescence.

Jason Scott Aiken: Galazi in the Enchanted City starring Galazi, Queen Toulommia
Matthew Baugh: A Dollar’s Worth of Fists starring Kwai Chang Caine, the Black Coats, Jed Puma
Adam Mudman Bezecny: Harry’s Homecoming starring Harry Dickson, Doctor Ox
Nicholas Boving: The Aquila Curse starring Renaud the Montauban, Ivanhoe, Etienne de Navarre
Nathan Cabaniss: From Paris with Hate starring OSS 117, Fantômas, Diabolik
Matthew Dennion: A Purpose in Life starring Micharl Myers, the Black Coats
Brian Gallagher: The Berlin Vampire starring Captain Vampire, The Vampire Countess, Von Bork
Martin Gately: Rouletabille Rides the Horror Express starring Rouletabille, Sir Alexander Saxton, James Wells
Micah Harris: The Goat of Saint Elster starring Quentin Moretus Cassave
Travis Hiltz: The Island of Exodus starring The People of the Pole, The Wandering Jew
Paul Hugli: As Easy as 1, 2, 3... starring John Carter, Jean Saint-Clair, Nikola Tesla
Rick Lai: Eve of Destruction starring Dr. Mabuse, Fantômas, the Black Coats
Nigel Malcolm: Maximum Speed starring M. Lecoq, Loveday Brooke, Simon Carne
Christofer Nigro: Bad Alchemy starring the Frankenstein Monsters
John Peel: Time to Kill starring Doctor Omega, Bob Morane
Frank Schildiner: The Taking of Frankenstein starring Gouroull, Wu Fang, Dr. Xavier
Sam Shook: Bringer of the Outer Dark starring Hareton Ironcastle, Sâr Dubnotal, Chandu, El Borak
Michel Stéphan: One Summer Night at Holy Cross starring Bob Morane, Harry Callahan
David L. Vineyard: The Moon of the White Wolf starring Arsène Lupin, John Silence, Bulldog Drummond
Jared Welch: Styrian Rhapsody starring Eugenie Danglars, Louise d'Armilly, Mircalla Karnstein
As usual my story is last.