So, this was passed around on social, with Anna Rose getting the credit for bringing this point up:
Which, yeah, when you put it that way, makes The Santa Clause an entirely different movie.
And, as noted when it was passed around, raises questions about the previous Mrs. Clause, and what she does if Santa’s… “recast,” let’s say…
There’s another possibility, though, putting the focus elsewhere:
The real power is Mrs. Clause, a name we settle on because her original name was lost years ago.
She’s way older than everyone on Earth, maybe older than every living thing on Earth, with more power than a supernova at her fingertips.
As she’s not sure about these humans that are on this world. There are times when we’re only one dark thought crossing her mind away from the end of everything we know.
But, rather than taking out all of humanity, and possibly everything within seven parsecs of Earth, she tests us: She picks a consort, someone who is required to sort the wheat from the chafe, the nice from the naughty. If there are more who are deserving than not, then another year passes, and humanity is safe because her consort showed her that the majority are worth letting them live out their lives, which to her are like mayflies to us. Should there not be enough good people, though, then…
And the consort? On the one hand, she gifts him well with a mere trinket, the smallest of her energies and abilities (around the world instantly, immortality, omniscience) and possibly companionship if she feels she needs something to pass the time. In return, he does her bidding, and otherwise is at her side in a dimension that one needs to find the gate to at the North Pole to enter her realm.
And sometimes, a consort needs to be replaced. Like all parts and tools, wear and tear take their toll, and a replacement must be found from time to time. Sometimes it’s subtle, say a lure placed surreptitiously on the consort in the event an (inevitable) accident occurs, getting the position filled right away. Maybe someone of renown draws her attention, or someone brave/foolish enough to wander through the dimension gate shows up, and the way we’d switch out a bulb because it’s better to do that now rather than sit in the dark or any time, a new consort comes.
And what does the consort think of this? Well, do we ask our tools when they think of their lot…?
Which, yeah: Why is it when we look at Santa and occasionally bring up his wife, she’s essentially an afterthought? What if we’re looking at the wrong character in this story…?
It’s out there, it’s free, or at least as free as your copyrights and executed agreements can allow it to be. You have something you can point to, something you can show the world to say, “Yes, I was here, and this is something I did.”
I mean, is that all you can expect, that and for the check to clear…?
Is art just one ego trip? Are we actually giving anyone anything when we finish and display our work?
You’re probably expecting some platitude about how anything we create can inspire others and give them something that can be a part of their lives. You might be expecting something about how a creator’s efforts can inspire other creations, making the world all the better.
And yes, that’s being said here, but with verified observations!
In 1959, Robert Sheckley released his first novel, Immortality, Inc. Long story short, it’s a novel about someone from 1958 who gets their brain uploaded into a new body in 2110. Yes, it’s expensive, so yes, there are haves-and-have-nots dynamics to unpack, a subject that’s popped up now and again in genre that’s, well…
The novel became a classic, one that ultimately gets adapted in the UK for the series Out of the Unknown. I can’t speak to how good a job they did, as this was a victim of the Great BBC Tape Purges. We mostly hear about lost episodes of Doctor Who, or early appearances of the Beatles, being lost to time when we review probably the most infamous content retention policy ever devised by any network, so a show with a more limited audience is likely to just disappear without a trace.
Or at least not be recalled again until much later, in a roundabout manner…
In the first episode of Get Back, covering the early days of 1969 and a project that would give us the film Let It Be, we watch George Harrison describe what he watched on the telly the night before, describing bits and pieces of the episode of Out of the Unknown that aired on BBC. He mentions what he was watching to give the background on where his head was when he composed the song he brought in to show the band, a piece called “I Me Mine”
So from that, we have a clear path from a novel to a TV show to a song. We may not always have the DNA of pieces so neatly labeled like this, but it shows us what happens when someone creates a work, that it doesn’t just stop there. It can touch the audience and maybe even spark a whole new work, something unexpected and wholly apart from the original that won’t touch off a copyright claim, which is probably better discussed in another piece.
(Yes, there was also Freejack, which was based off the novel, which brings in Mick Jagger to the overall story, but there’s more than enough connections for one blog post here…)
The point is, yes, you have more reasons to share what you create than just because you want to see your name out there.
Something the ad folks working on these products should have done before these got shot…
This, for example: Marley is visiting Ebenezer to show him the past, the present, and the future, a future where the electric car is a definite improvement over a horse-drawn hansom or the current gas-powered car.
Which… Wha’? The whole point of Ebenezer seeing the past, present, and future is to encourage him to be a better person, but here our Ebenezer is under no obligation to do better. Are we assuming that our protagonist is someone who doesn’t need to consider their past, and can ignore everything they did in their life because there’s a reward for it?
And considering our habits created a need for an electric car, don’t we need to be mindful of what led us there so that we don’t continue to make more mistakes? If ol’ Ebenezer here gets handed a new car and can’t take into account how the power grid needs to change to allow for plug-ins, then he really didn’t learn anything, did he?
(Please refrain from “electric car net zero” jokes; they weren’t that funny the first few times…)
Speaking of failing to learn, we get the above spot from Peloton, where Scrooge snarls at carolers before someone (with a few bucks and no sense) gifts him their bike. We then watch as he uses the product and finds himself healthier and happier (while the instrumental for Danny Elfman’s “What’s This?” plays in the background, because… Okay, I don’t know either…).
Scrooge may be happier and healthier, but there’s nothing to say he’s a better person. There are too many people, likely at least one of them you know personally, who are fit and together and yet still are f’n’ G-d a-holes; the only happy outcome suggested by the spot is that he stays inside on the bike for the rest of his life and is no longer anyone else’s problem.
Yes, the original source material is 179 years old as of this writing, but getting a worse mangling in a bad game of telephone than the other tales the holiday is based on, which have been around for far longer, seems at best really sloppy. That the main point in a story about self-reflection making someone a better person would get hurled to the curb without slowing the car down be lost in so cavalier a fashion is at best a misunderstanding, and at worst appropriation for nefarious commercial purposes.
It may be too late to save the original meaning of Christmas, but can’t we at least try to save the original meaning of A Christmas Carol…?
As the novel Raging Gail came about just as the acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia were making the news, it’s appropriate that new developments be brought up here as they emerge.
If you’re asking, “Why should I know about something that doesn’t affect me?” well, that’s some of what Villalba’s story covers, how the actions pirates undertake tend to be localized. It’s the same way you can read a story about a mugging in Brooklyn from your home in Kansas City, Take-your-Pick, and wonder what it has to do with you.
The big reason why it does, it’s probably pointless to discuss. If by this time your empathy can’t extend that far out, there’s no reason to scream anymore. After the last few years seeing what egotism taken to the nth degree has gotten us, if after that you still can’t find it in you to care, then hell, nothing I’ve got’s going to work anyways.
Consider this: When we romanticize the “Golden Age of Piracy,” we’re looking at a time in the late 17th-early 18th centuries when pirates were on everyone’s minds. What made them loom in our thoughts were how their actions were directly impacting the mercantilist economies of Europe. All the activities written about at the time and thereafter (including in the novel) were causing disruptions to the more developed Western economies of the time, and among the economic disruptions were the viability of colonies established in the New World. You can’t get goods from back home because your product is lost on the high seas, yeah, you pay attention.
Likewise, we’re in a good position to recall piracy now. With manufacturing processes in the post-globalization being rethought and re-thinking how we send and receive cargo (when it’s moving), what better time than now for an ambitious pirate to make a name for themselves? Considering how the Barbary pirates shifted from seizing vessels to using the threat of attacks to collect tribute based on their rep, holding a sea lane of three hostage becomes a golden opportunity for someone with lots of ambition and few morals…
And hey, if that doesn’t make you think about pirates, Our Flag Means Death looks like it might be a lot of fun…
Still, it’s a big “Time to pause and ask,” moment.
Hopefully, we will take a moment to do that, especially folks in the struggling hospitality industry, before people outside the US do it first and then ask, “Why bother?” before cancelling their trips here…
As someone who got fully vaccinated a few months ago, if you’re looking for stories about side effects, I got tired and stayed in bed for a day after the shots. It felt like I’d gotten a cold and needed to spend the day in bed, which most people were doing when they got sick before the COVID crisis came about. And despite vaccination, if someone requests I mask up, I do, as it’s much like a request to have a shirt on before you enter a store.
Or is it perhaps some form of statement to do this? After having a few “bad role models” hogging up all the air in the room like a large hole in the side of a spacecraft, is this maybe some form of “lack of virtue signaling” that some folks need to put on?
It seems that the one theme that keeps coming up again and again if someone tries and ask them about this is that this feels like an infringement on their freedom. It’s a grand statement to make, alongside their freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and freedom to carry military-grade hardware into a fast food franchisee.
Which brings us back to the question of proclaiming your freedom on this issue. If you stand this way, are you saying you want the freedom to get sicker than you might? The freedom to make other people sick? The freedom to give a disease chance to become more virulent and deadly?
Yes, that old song claims that “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,” but why does anyone else have to cover your losses?
Or maybe it’s embracing freedom to not be told what to do, a freedom from responsibility, a freedom from consideration of others, a freedom to be selfish, a freedom to grab everything good for yourself and not listen to the person you elbowed in the eye to grab what you think is yours…
Which can be neatly summarized in one word: Immaturity…
So is being the cause of the Delta variant and the Great Resignation actually worth it? Is you being free worth making everyone else pay for your mistake?
It’s bad enough that want to just stress how your side got to where it was. That’s taken history away from using it to understand the past to simply justifying the present. And we haven’t even gotten to the whole point as to whether “your side” is what you think it is, which could be a whole set of writings in and of itself…
There’s also the question of why you study history, to help you know where you came from and how you got there. Which obviously isn’t a great thing if you’re only justifying your coming into your position.
There’s also the value of learning from your mistakes. And from others, too.
So, we’re doing a prescribed curriculum where we celebrate what made us what we are. And all we are going over is our greatest hits, looking at things that made us who we think we are. There’s no drama, because there’s no doubt that we will get through this, as we have only those items before us we need (or are allowed) to teach from. We learn from our past that everything’s going to turn out our way.
So if end up in something that doesn’t follow the script, how long do we keep doing what we were doing before we realize it doesn’t work? And how do we get out of that, or even avoid it?
People not liking what we’re doing no matter what we give them? Oh, if only we did something before we got to the point where we’d have to put cops on every corner, like say, hearing from them before we got to this sad state. Something the Fifteenth Amendment or the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (both of which are not part of the curriculum). Can’t understand why you’re not getting the supplication you think you’re entitled to when you walk into Applebee’s? Well, you might not be so quick to Karen out on people if you remembered what Caesar Chavez had written or read anything anything by Marin Luther King Jr. on the labor movement that could give you a better perspective on things. Have questions about why no one’s taking a job for less per hour than you spend each morning getting a drink from a barista? If you’d heard about the Triangle factory fire and saw comparisons between what those young women went through to what workers at Amazon fulfilment centers are going through, and made the connection, you might be a bit more sanguine about it.
And if you blunder about without any of these reference points? But according to history, you always win! And assuming that you are the you that’s supposed to come out on top, how could this have happened?
I mean, it’s not like we’d ever lose, right? The PATCO strike just didn’t happen, or at least you never heard of it, so sort of the same thing. There’s nothing to pull from the fall of Saigon, if you’d never heard of it. Pandemic in 1918? Yeah, like that’s going to apply to your life..
You may have run across this meme out on social media concerning Terry Prachett’s writing habits:
This testimonial is made by someone who discovered “The Prachett Principle,” which is an established statement Sir Terry is on record as having made. So, whether he did it or not is not in question.
Why ask if he did say it? Because we live in a universe where people are willing to say anything, because there are too many people willing to believe anything. With truth a more precious commodity than gold or plutonium, and harder to produce than social justice, just about everything needs to be asked of it, “U fr real…?”
Assuming that we look at novels where he was the sole author that average (rough guess) about 73,000 words apiece, that gives us about, oh, 86 novels.
When we try and come up with a rough examination of all of Sir Terry’s output (trying to hold aside collaborations, dramatizations, and adjacent tie-in materials), this figure holds up well. If anything, a back of the envelope count shows us being well below that, and with some room to allow for variances (a longer book here, a collaboration where he built on previously written materials there).
Is it worth it, spending time that could be used elsewise to challenge a heartfelt statement that honors a beloved writer?
Yes, it is; even if what we find is indeed quite true, the fact that it’s verified makes it all the more precious. And better to go through the process and be able to treasure those found than to just let it slide along with the sludge.
So, with the site updated, it made sense to bring the observations to this page for the last one, to get things moving again over here. If anything, there should be more content over here soon as things go on.
And if you’re looking for what was said about prior episodes, they should be easy to find in my Facebook feed.
And, as I warned there, there will be spoilers in the post
“I’m a pretty convenient spoiler for a lot of people.”
-attributed to Kevin Costner
“plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”
Karr’s quote is great if you’re trying to deal with a life that goes too fast. If you were rooting for WHAT IF…? before it aired, not so much…
For a start, there’s the episode title, “What If… The Watcher Broke His Oath?” This is a major misnomer, as it’s not a hypothetical; during the show, Uatu is actually doing just that. Which is kind of a sell-out if you think too much about it. (You don’t have to, I can do the work for all of us; go on, clock out early, I got you covered…)
There’s also the frustration of the episode being the culmination of what we assumed were going to be a set of self-contained stories in an anthology into essentially a mini-MCU Phase. The idea of giving each character a stand-alone episode so that they can all come together in one major team-up was disappointing. It shows a certain formulaic thinking that’s not a good long term investment to gain anyone’s loyalty.
We get to see characters from prior episodes, both new and re-imagined, gathered by the Watcher to fight the Infinity Stone-enhanced version of Ultron we saw last time, in order to prevent it from wiping out all life in every universe. (At least Thanos wanted to leave a few things alive as part of his plan…) To that end, we see Captain Carter, T’Challa the Star Lord, Thor Bratinson (the version that didn’t have Loki as a kid brother), the Killmonger Panther, the Doctor Strange form Earth-it’s-gone-and-it’s-HIS-fault, and a Gamorah who-
Well, this is sometimes an issue with animated shows: The episode this character was drawn from could not be done in time (COVID-related delays), so we ended up with references that tie in with stories that were written ahead of time that couldn’t be changed that late in the production. Supposedly, her universe will be part of next season’s batch, but we’re kind of at a loss as it stands now.
Supposedly, it might have been a good one, as Lego actually released a playset around that show:
And, well… Ooops…
Anyways, having been assembled and given the team name “the Guardians of the Multiverse,” they are now charged with finding a way to work with the Black Widow from the Infinity Ultron’s universe, the last Avenger left from its plane of existence. (For that matter, the last living things from there as well.)
There are quips, there are daring plans, there is a victory, which considering how WHAT IF…? was getting a rep as a major downer every week is somehow not a surprise, because again, it’s the formula. And there are callbacks, not only to prior episodes (the zombies get used as a good distraction) but to other MCU films, such as seeing Captain Carter in a remake of the beginning of CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER doing everything Steve Rodgers did in that film. The more invested you are with the franchise, the better your experience.
And when they got most of the MCU actors to do their animated versions of themselves, we ended up with a cast that threw themselves into their roles, especially Toby Jones, who finally gives us a Zola with a face on his torso like we had in the comic books. The vocal casting overall in the series has been worth it, with some established voice actors doing decent fill-ins in places their cinematic counterparts couldn’t do.
So all said, there are going to be times when you walk into your favorite fast food franchisee and order the same thing off the menu, and you end up at that moment enjoying it a lot. Yes, it’s the same item that you can get at just about any location that has that logo on the front of the building, but for some reason it just works right for that meal.
And while on a structural level there’s a lot to be concerned about, the show itself is enjoyable taken without considering the bigger issues. What made it worth watching was the general overall quality, which alone might have kept people invested for a bit. The call-backs and connections with prior entries will of course make it even better for those invested in the whole Disney-run Marvel works as a body, which is part of the reason you’d show up eating at this franchise in the first place.
Which may have been recognized early on in the production: Before placing the Last Widow in a different universe, the one where Hank Pym killed all the Avengers (again, a call-back), the Watcher replies to Romanov’s criticisms by noting how much he needs to watch every person in every universe, as their stories are everything to him.
Now, this could be a recognition of the hardcore fans who follow along and invest themselves in all the stories, which acknowledges and honors them for their loyalty. It could also be a cynical plea to keep watching, promising you a more rewarding experience if you just keep tuning in, geared towards people who were too young to order a Little Orphan Annie decoder pin back in the day…
So, after you save the multiverse, if you’re still watching, what are they going to do for a promised second season, beyond finally giving us the lost episode? Can that keep from experiencing the Law of Diminishing Returns that further Phases in the main MCU face?
I have some stuff I have/can/have to bring back, thanks to the way things shook out. Long story, one I’m saving for later, but anyways-
Because there’s a music element tied to this, my first thought was to look at traditional release dates for when music would drop, which used to be Tuesdays. Then it became Fridays as of about 2010, when things became a bit more organized.
I suppose I could state that I’m living by the old statement, “If you don’t have anything nice to say…”
Because these days, it seems like no one has anything nice to say about anyone. Which is normal for an election year, though this year’s especially nasty the way it’s falling out.
It could also be because there’s not been a general conversation that feels like I have anything to add to it. Some times something comes up, there’s an impulse to spout, but then I take a second and ask, “Is what I’m going to say actually of interest or add anything to this?” And if the answer after a few minutes is at best, “Eh,” then I move on.
Which is a sad tact to take if you write, because it means walking away from the craft. It’s like a ball player who doesn’t take the field, or an actor who doesn’t take a role. But there really wasn’t anything that felt worth discussing through “Going on the Account” during that period; I got some points out through my Facebook page which is to expressing yourself via a blog what dining on fast food and vending machine fare is to eating, but there wasn’t that much to say.
For one, the terminology has changed; the preferred term in the paper for the rovers is “Maritime Non-state Actors” or MNSAs. Which is a little clinical, very exacting and probably a lot more accurate in terms of describing people on the water.
It’s also an effort at re-branding that allows people who think of tri-corner hats and parrots when you hear “pirate” to not associate them with modern sea dogs. And with such a term, not having to put a face to them makes them easier to think of in more clinical terms, which allows you to consider options that would be more difficult if they were, oh, people…
The big surprise from the piece, however, is bringing up the emerging trend of drones being brought to bear by MNSAs. (Sorry, pirates…) It’s not out of character after years of tradition, having pirates get their hands on the latest arms to become a presence out at sea, so the idea that pirates in the future would command a drone or two, or even an entire swarm as they go after a prize, is not out of the realm of the possible.
It is, however, something that suddenly makes Red Jenny seem quaint. I admit, when I wrote the novel, the idea of militarized drones being in the hands of armed civilians (or, if you insist, MNSAs) was not part of the consideration. As the world building that went into the work postulated a general economic contraction as climate change whacked the planet, the idea of “exotic” weapons in the hands of pirates who would otherwise have more pressing needs getting their tools together was not a consideration. The fact that drones could be weaponized so easily and cheaply since the last chapter was posted just makes this omission even more glaring.
In other words: Dang, whoops.
(And to add to the embarrassment: The author of the piece, David Rudd, wrote this from the perspective of how the Royal Canadian Navy could best deal with this situation. Yes, the RCN, the same folks who had they been written into the book would have ended the West Seneca Crew’s adventures within three pages of first sighting. Damn, talk about irony…)
But that happens. I remember reading The Third World War: August 1985 when it came out in paperback, being impressed by the author’s projection of then current trends out into a believable scenario. And I was willing to cut him some slack, as much of what made up his scenario when the book was published in 1978 quickly slipped away thanks to Ayatollah Khomeini, Ronald Reagan, and a number of other events that decided to follow their own course.
So when 1982 rolls around, we get The Third World War: The Untold Story, where Sir John Hackett… whacks the world against the reset button. Instead of recognizing realty on the ground, he forces the ground to conform to his own will, making the world take a few radical steps to the side so that he didn’t have to rewrite the first book. Maybe it was Sir John‘s being captured during Operation Market Garden or having to oversee the withdrawal from Palestine which resulted in years of pain left behind that did something to him to make him pull a stunt like that; who knows? All I can do is shake my head at doing some serious defense of my work in the face of reality like that.
So no, if there’s a follow-up to Red Jenny, there will not be such shenanigans done to that level. Tempting as it might be to engage in some wishful proclaiming, I would not do that, and just acknowledge that I got something wrong.
Mind you, I do have a few bottom-of-the-drawer projects that involve drones and pirates, stuff that takes place nowhere near Buffalo in the near future; if I get some time, I might do something with that…
In the meantime, I am going to try and come back here more often. It’s too long since I’ve done some real, home-cooked, get-your-hands-messy-in-the-kitchen-honest blogging, and as much as the quick FB post at the House of Zuck can cover you, no, it’s just not the same. I need to keep writing.
It’s not like I’m not writing at all; my output at REBEAT magazine has been pretty substantial, including a regular column called “Fantasia Obscura” that looks at older genre films (SF/horror/fantasy) that are in danger of being forgotten, so there’s that at least.
Hopefully this won’t be as easily forgotten as those are, least of all by me…