Why in the Hell Does Anyone Care That It’s Carrie Fisher’s Birthday?

Every now and again I like to indulge in the temptation to rail against the mindless repetition of uninteresting facts. I know it will accomplish nothing, and indeed is probably counterproductive, but I cannot help myself. This is stupid and I’m going to tell you why. Cry about it in the comments, nerds.

I could easily be mean about this. I could easily go the Ace of Spades route and declare her a coke-addled void-child of dysfunctional Hollywood nobility, who looked so elderly and fragile in the Sequel Trilogy that I expected her to shatter into pieces like a frozen T-1000 (that’s an old movie reference, kids).

Famous for her catchphrase, “Let’s go fuck injustice up!,” Fisher was known for her young-in-life rebellions and scandals, including her May-December romance with Lorne Greene, and playing Andromedan Whore #6, causing an uproar and national boycott due to her participation in Captain Kirk’s first and only non-interspecies kiss.

After her career in acting slowed, Fisher turned her attention to writing, where she turned in famous-but-officially-uncredited “punch ups” to scripts and books, such as Predator 3: Predators In Paradise and “The Bible.”

Considered Hollywood Royalty since her birth, Carrie Fisher was famously the daughter of Joey Buttafuoco and Amy Fisher.

Ace of Spades, “Carrie Fisher Dies at Age 60”

But one wants to be fair, and the older I get, the more I appreciate what Fisher was able to do with the could-have-been thankless role of Princess Leia in the Original Trilogy. Honestly, her acting in that holds up, and her prickly aristocratic mien makes her role as the Resistance Leader in the Sequels at least plausible, however little she had in the tank at the time. Yeah, it would have been nice if they’d given her more to do in Return of the Jedi, but that’s expecting more of Lucasfilm screenwriting than it’s ever been capable of delivering.

And I can’t escape the notion that if she’d read Ace’s mock obituary, Fisher would have laughed hard at it. Because no one was quicker to send up her own career than she was. I caught one of her spoken-word shows on one streaming service or another, and she had her moments, perhaps not as “OMG, hiLARious” as people are wont to say, but seeing a celeb allowed to be merely human, and wryly comment on this, is always to be saluted.

Nor was this an isolated reality, the joke turn at Comic-Con. This was Fisher’s second career. She wrote a comical pseudo-fiction novel about her life, and had that turned into a movie she wrote the screenplay for, both under the title Postcards From the Edge, which is a pretty good title. Not many people actually have the talent and drive to turn their down-and-out moments into art. She did. Can’t take that away from her.

But she’s not a Saint. She’s not even a Blessed. You don’t know her, and you honouring her Feast Day is creepy.

This is gross. You’re being marketed to by sharps and drones. Her death took literally nothing from your life (if she’d been alive, she’d have done exactly what she did in Rise of Skywalker, which is to say almost nothing). It is human to honor the dead and the great. But celebrity is false greatness, the intersection of momentary marketablity and fragile talent. They are feeding you pap and calling it Spirit.

Stop retweeting this crap. Stop reacting to it (But aren’t YOU reacting to it? Yeah, you got me. Walk away and enjoy how much you totally DeSTrOyeD my point. Nothing to see here, move along). Stop pretending you were a massive fan of the next old rock star who kicks the bucket. Honor your family, your friends. Honor the art that stands the test of time. But stop building emotional cults of devotion to corporate product. None of them will ever reciprocate your love.

William Shatner, Red Letter Media, and What Everyone Gets Wrong About Fandom

Never meet your heroes.

I’ve mentioned Red Letter Media before. They’re a YouTube channel that discusses film in a serious way, but with lots of jokes – spoonfuls of sugar to make the medicine go down. They’re different from most cinema nerds on YouTube in that they’ve actually undergone the process of making movies themselves – schlocky B-movies, that they themselves do not take seriously. But they’ve done it. They have some understanding of what it involves, so they talk about the nuts and bolts, which for a layman is an education.

Their infamous 70-minute review of The Phantom Menace taught a whole generation why the prequels weren’t working. Yes, they’ve savaged the Disney films as well. They especially made fun of Rogue One, which is the one everyone seems to love. They’re fair-minded and upfront about their perspectives.

They also do a MST3K-ish panel discussion of bad movies, called Best of the Worst, and they’ve had other creatives on as guest stars. Schlock ninja filmmaker Len Kabasinski has been on a couple of times, as has comic artist Freddie Williams, screenwriter Max Landis (before he got cancelled), comedian Patton Oswalt, and Macaulay Culkin, who’s practically a regular at this point.

I mention all of this because they’re a growing brand that is gaining widespread awareness. They hit 1 million YouTube subscribers recently. People have heard of them. Now, two of the three RLM stakeholders (Mike Stoklasa, Jay Bauman, and Rich Evans) are big Star Trek fans (I’m not going to call them Trekkies, for reasons that will become clear later). They talk about Star Trek a lot. They’re critical of the Next Generation movies, but love the show. They have nuanced criticisms of the recent film reboots. They do not like the more recent Star Trek Series, such as Discovery and Picard. But they stood up for one of the least-liked Trek movies, the 1979 Star Trek: The Motion Picture – a movie I’ve been wont to dismiss as “two hours of blue stuff”.

These two trends explain why RLM fans may have gotten it into their heads that William Shatner might become a guest on their show. They never invited him, but it became a meme anyway. This is an important point I’m going to come back to later.

Now I’m going to let Mike and Jay explain what happened next:

If you don’t want to spare the 20 minutes, Shatner got tired of being bugged on Twitter by RLM fans to be on the show. He was polite at first, if a bit shakey on the definition of “podcast” (which is fine, as “podcast” has a shakey definition). Then he started being less polite, then he started casually dismissing the RLM crew, watching tiny snippets of their videos and picking nits. This being Twitter, the volume increased, until the RLM guys had to stop what they were actually doing to announce that this was all a tempest in a teapot and it should all go away. Mike ends with the words “Leave him alone, because I just can’t take Captain Kirk pulling up pictures of me on The Nerd Crew (a satirical show they do) set, and calling me a moron. I just can’t take it.”

That should have been the end of it, but it wasn’t. That video came on Thursday, (July 23rd). Yesterday (July 27th), Shatner unloaded both barrels at the RLM guys with a Medium.com article called “The Toxic Empires of Egoligarchies“. If you’re having a hard time getting past the title, I’ll summarize it for you: Shatner didn’t watch the video, even though he used pieces of it, and brings in GamerGate and a host of screencaps to prove that… RLM sent its fans on Twitter to harass him.

In William Shatner’s mind, this is the only possible explanation. Three guys from Milwaukee have a zombie horde of fans that they can turn on and off like tap water. That’s how fandom works.

The absurdity of claiming, in the face of no evidence, in the face of all contrary evidence, that the RLM guys signaled their fans to harass Shatner staggers the imagination. The entire pretentious diatribe (truly an accomplishment for Medium, a platform that specializes in transmogrifying peoples’ shower thoughts into “essays”) has enough circular reasoning in it to flatten a trailer park.

William Shatner knows better than this. William Shatner has had to deal with his own fans being out of control. So has George Lucas. So has everybody who has a fandom. Fandoms (oh, I how I loathe that word) are not armies, sent out into the world like digital stosstruppen to do their master’s bidding. If they were, then Red Letter Media, which is based on fans being critical of product, couldn’t possibly exist. Fans are human beings, and act along the gradient of human behavior. Some of them will be monsters, and some saints.

I’ve been a Star Wars fan since I was small. I’ve never gone to a fan convention. I’ve never bought a lightsaber or any other Star Wars paraphanelia. The only T-Shirts I have were given to me as Father’s Day gifts. I sold my old box of Star Wars toys at a yard sale for $5. More to the point, I think people who do fill their house with junk and go to such conventions are spiritually depleted dorks. Am I still a fan?

Art is a worthy topic of discussion. That’s why I have articles about Star Wars on this blog. But art is meant to be enjoyed, considered, and critiqued, not worshipped. Liking something is not a substitute for an identity. The RLM guys get that, which is why I watch their YouTube channel.

But I would never bother an octogenarian actor on Twitter to be on their show. I don’t understand why anyone would. I think doing that is just brainless schoolyard trolling, of the kind that makes Twitter nothing more than a blood-pressure surge device. Anyone who bugged William Shatner about a YouTube channel he’s never heard of is a waste of a rational soul. There’s no reason for it; you didn’t achieve your goal, and you manufactured the phoniest kind of drama in a world that is filled with real-life, actual drama. You are shrieking gibbons flinging poop and bits of half-chewed berries at the gravestone of our culture.

Now ask me: am I still a fan?

Go ahead, ask me.

Managing the Flow

Currently, I’m trying to launch a brand. I dislike that phrase but there it is. I’ve set up the following things:

  • A Patreon
  • A Podcast
  • A YouTube Channel
  • A Twitter
  • A Gumroad (soon)

Additionally, I’m producing content for the next issue of UJ (out next month), and I’m trying to grease the creative wheels on a novel I’ve started. This is a lot for one man to do, when he has a household to manage.

On top of this, I’m doing it with minimal support. We have our fans, and even Patrons, but we don’t have a publishing house or an agency or even a website. We are a fart in a hurricane attempting, at this point, to be a louder fart.

This cannot but cause frustration. That feeling of shouting into a void. So the other thing I must manage is the black dog, which comes sniffing around the barn at odd hours and making a pest of himself. The struggle to be heard in the internet age is a real struggle.

There’s a book I’m reading related to this, called Deep Work, which I’ve started but put down so I could finish The Shining (more on that in another blog). It’s only tangentially about the internet and more about the way one needs to manage one’s time and inputs in order to do truly ground-breaking work. It has given me insight. While I’ve enjoyed reading the stuff that’s been created for the UJ Singles Collection (coming soon!), I can’t help but feel the wish to get to the next level. As my post about critics argued, art must come from artists, so the art can only reflect the artist. If the artist is distracted, what happens?

Good-Bye, Fail Whale: Why I Left Twitter

fail-whale_featured

My reasons are common, but they are no less true for that:

  1. Twitter is Unfair. Twitter squelches the speech of the Right, but not the Left. The examples are too many to count, and they’ve been going on for a while. It’s going to continue that way. That’s what the people who run Twitter think is fair and just. They are Lib-Progs, so they’re going to run things according to a Lib-Prog perspective. It doesn’t matter that Jesse Kelly got reinstated. The sword of Damocles remains hovering over him and anyone else who dissents from the Narrative. I am not getting anything out of Twitter to merit participation in something that will profit those who despise me.
  2. Twitter is Angry. Even if the suppression of speech were balanced, a great deal of what passes on Twitter would be an unworthy addition to the national conversation. As I’ve said before, Twitter often has the function of Burroughs’ Tape Recorder, displaying the worst arguments of either side to the other, provoking greater and greater condemnations from both.  It’s all Burns and Owns and Destroys. It’s The Screaming of the Children of the Night.
  3. Twitter is Fake. One cannot communicate clearly in a riot. One cannot think clearly. One can only react and shout. The act of reducing a thought to 140 280 characters destroys nuance, consideration and depth. The reward of likes and retweets makes the exercise little more than a performance, an attempt to be applauded. If I am ReTweeted, I reach more people. Therefore I must make what I say basic and accessible, and at the same time extreme, so that it stands out in the storm. Debates are not good-faith attempts to persuade an interlocutor, but a display of rhetorical wizardry before an audience. It is dishonest at every level.

Since leaving, I have had moments of reconsideration. But then I remind myself that I no longer have the Angry Box, as I used to call it, sitting their on my phone to make me angry. I will no longer have pointless debates with strangers over questions neither of us have the honesty to admit our ignorance on.

Instead, I am here. Thinking, reflecting, considering, offering. Doing the Work.

Facebook is next.

Getting Angry About Movies Other People Haven’t Seen

Bill Corbett of MST3K fame has a tweet that illustrates something I have come to find baffling (Incidentally, the tweet that follows this thread is pretty funny).

I suppose, given that certain works are considered era-defining, classics if you will, that people will express surprise and dismay to anyone who slips through the gill-nets of pop culture. But the level of emotion people express, it almost evokes blasphemy or heresy. You have failed to become one of the tribe. I have made a very strict effort to not do it, when someone says they haven’t seen something I regard as worth watching. I just say “I really like that, myself. It’s pretty good, but whatever,” or words to that effect.

Even if someone hasn’t seen Star Wars? Especially then. Because being a Grand Inquisitor about Star Wars hurts my heart.

The movie I haven’t seen that bugs people is Neverending Story, and for a while, my adamant refusal to read a Harry Potter book (I still haven’t read one, but Potterheads have learned to behave themselves, and I’m way less obnoxious about it).

 

Jack White Concert for ‘Boarding House Reach’ Album Release to Be Live-Streamed on Twitter

Jack White Concert for ‘Boarding House Reach’ Album Release to Be Live-Streamed on Twitter

Jack White Concert for ‘Boarding House Reach’ Album Release to Be Live-Streamed on Twitter
— Read on variety.com/2018/digital/news/jack-white-twitter-album-release-live-stream-1202732449/

This is interesting because:

A) I’d been wondering when Jack’s next album would drop

B) Live-streaming a concert gets around bootleggers and uses paid customers to create an event for non-paying customers.

Everything You Idiots Care About is Stupid

AKA, Reflections Appropriate to Any Time Spend on Twitter

I hate your stupid opinions.

I hate reading them. I hate hearing you express them. I hate the way you just repeat things you’ve heard. I hate the way you never pause to examine if anything you’re repeating is true.

I hate the way Social Media has made us dumber. I used to read the newspaper when I was a kid. Mostly the Washington Post, mostly the editorial section, because even in my youth I had intuited that the “news” was a bowdlerized version meant to be shoehorned into a narrative by the crusading Journalists who pretended to speak Truth to Power while actually speaking MiniTruth to everyone else. That meant I read some people who I agreed with, and some I disagreed with.

But I read it, in silence, with no expectation of doing anything with it other than integrate it into my thinking. I didn’t run around the house or neighborhood letting everyone else no my opinion of it. I didn’t assume anyone cared for my particular take of Colbert King’s column.

Today, that would be done by Re-Tweeting it to everyone who “followed” me, with some manner of “sick own” or cretinous applause, such as “This!” or “READ THE WHOLE THING.” I wouldn’t be reading it to read it, but to decide whether it was Of My Sort or not, and make a big deal about it accordingly.

Social media has turned us all into bad journalists. And there were already plenty of those.

So, no, your reaction to the President’s last tweet, or the Olympics, or whether Black Panther is the GREATEST THING SINCE THE LUMIERE BROTHERS INVENTED CINEMA, or whatever one media clown said to another media clown, is not important. It won’t add anything. It does not create, it will not enlighten. It doesn’t exist on its own. It’s just a shout in a noisy room.

And it’s making you angry, and it’s feeding the devil you most want to crack down on. Because you get more of what you pay attention to.

And just in case you decide I’m not practicing what I’m preaching, understand that I could write a nice rant about the Olympics if I wanted to, because there’s very few things I detest as much as the Olympics. Watching the Olympics is about as much fun as watching… other people ski and ice skate.

Let that sink in.

And of course, you have to hear about their inspiration Life Stories first. As if I’m supposed to be interested that some derp had to get up early to practice flinging himself down a mountainside. I assume you have to practice to be good enough for the Olympics.

To say nothing of the fact that the costs of hosting these tedious games can bankrupt cities:

But honestly, I already don’t feel like saying anything else about it. I don’t want to argue with people who want to wonder how in the name of Cheese and Rice the Chinese judge couldn’t give the South Korean girl full points for landing that triple salchow. I don’t want to listen to you tell me “Figure Skating is too a sport, rather than a subjectively-scored performance art!”

I. Do. Not. Care.

And if I spend time arguing about it, I will have to care. I will have to come up with a tendentious definition of “sport” specifically rendered to exclude people who have trained their lives away to do something incredibly difficult that I’ve never even considered attempting.

Is that an addition to anyone’s lives?

No.

So let’s all consider not sharing. Not re-tweeting. Not owning, or applauding, or cross-posting, meme-ing or swiping right.

Let’s try reading, and thinking. Let’s try doing. Let’s try keeping the noise down.

Now get off my lawn.

Twitter Continues to Do Whatever the Hell it Thinks it’s Doing…

Now Nick Searcy, hilarious actor from Justified and general-purpose insult machine, has apparently felt the ban hammer.

Or maybe not. Twitter’s going Full Kafka on this, explaining its actions in broad bureaucratic generalities when it explains it at all, so who the hell knows.

Basically, it’s a bad time to be an outspoken conservative on Twitter, because the #GloriousTrustandSafetySoviet regards being an outspoken conservative at best as some form of cognitive dissonance, at worst an active sociopathy.

Either because they’re so convinced of their own righteousness that they regard petty tyranny as the Bridge to the Grand Future, or because they lack the spiritual patience to tolerate other points of view.

Or, you know, both…

  

Confirmed: George R.R. Martin is Screwing With Us.

hypetrain

Yesterday, Martin’s official Twitter account posted this:

Which prompted the Internet (and especially Reddit) to lose its damn mind. Because, 12 days from yesterday is December 21st, the first day of Winter. The next book in the series is titled The Winds of Winter. Therefore, on that, day, he will announce that book’s release.

logic

And while I would love for this to be true, I just can’t get my hopes up. Writing epic fantasy takes a long time. Doing a good job with it takes even longer. This isn’t some Dragonlance novel you can poop out in a few months; this is A Song of $(*&ing Ice and Fire. He’s got a million threads to weave together: Stannnis’s deathmarch, Jon Snow touching the void, Cersei’s trial by combat, Sam in Oldtown, Arya in Braavos, Sansa in the Vale, whatever the hell is going on with Brienne and Jaime and Lady Stoneheart, etc.

Oh, and Dany riding a dragon with a khalasar at her back.

We’re gonna be waiting, people. Embrace it.

 

 

I Just Figured Out How To Tumblr. Possibly How to Blog.

So I mentioned that I was re-vamping my Tumblr from having a no real purpose to having a purpose. In the past 2 days I’ve gained nearly 500 followers.

Granted, it’s Tumblr, so following is easy and doesn’t necessarily lead to connection or interaction with contact. It’s like Twitter that way. Of all those followers, there are only a handful of likes, and I think one reblog. But I only have 654 Twitter followers, and I’ve been tweeting for years.

To what do I owe this success, such as it is? I think the following:

  1. People get what my Tumblr’s about, and are interested. People like talking about music, and my posts are short and to the point.
  2. Bro, Do You Even Tag? In doing music reviews, it always helps to tag the band name, the song name, the album name. Then people who check the tags see the content, and decide to follow if they like what they see.
  3. YouTube is the New MTV. After (which is to say, above) every review, I do a separate video post which has either a favored deep track or a live version or something else that I think noteworthy. YouTube is great at giving you options, and people like to hear music when they’re done reading about music.

So, Focus, Reach Out, and Consistent Content. Hopefully this continues.

Check out the noise at Every. Damn. CD.