Monday January 6, 2014
While we're on the subject of calendars, I thought you might like to take a peek at mine. Here's where you can find me during the coming year:
January 17-19: Legendary ConFusion, Troy, Michigan
February 14-16: RadCon, Pasco, Washington
April 17-19: Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience, Salt Lake City, Utah
July: Westercon 67, Salt Lake City, Utah
August: GenCon Indy, Indianapolis, Indiana
September: Salt Lake Comic Con, Salt Lake City, Utah
November 6-9: World Fantasy, Washington, D.C
Not on the list: WorldCon 72/LonCon 3, which conflicts with GenCon Indy, and LTUE 32, which conflicts with RadCon.
I'm sad to miss both of those events, but I can't be in two places at once. I'm especially sorry to be missing WorldCon this year, but we crunched the numbers and the opportunity cost on this show was just too high.
This calendar is full, by the way. I know it looks like March, May, June, and October are empty, but those have (respectively) a bunch of recording sessions, a book release, a deep breath, and a writing retreat in them. As much as I'd love to accept invitations to go to more places where fun and interesting people hang out, 2014 is blacked out.
Saturday January 4, 2014
For all the promises of a paperless office that we've been hearing (and making!) for the last 20 years, paper calendars remain handy. So do lots of other paper things, like collections of comics, but here in January more people are likely to find themselves suddenly in need of a calendar.
We've got your back, folks. The calendars, they are still in stock. Order between now and Monday morning, and Sandra will ship them on Monday.
(Monday is January 6th. Oh, and today is Saturday, January 4th. These are things you might not know without the help of a calendar.)
On Thursday (which was January 2nd) I calculated the number of weeks required to do all of the things I need to do this year, including family vacations, convention travel, and a dozen or so projects. I came up with "57," which is a nice number for a sauce but not a realistic number for work-weeks spent during a calendar (do you have one yet?) year.
So I tweaked the project list a bit, got aggressive with some of the estimates, and dropped a couple of projects. The new number is 49.5. This would be perfectly acceptable but for the fact that roughly 75% of the projects need to be completed before July. Somehow I must stuff 37 work weeks into my calendar between now and late June. This is something the 2014 Schlock Mercenary Calendar cannot help much with. It can, however, help me document my failure. I'll be able to point to the exact day upon which I said "yes, this is impossible."
It might be Monday, January 6th.
Tuesday December 31, 2013
New Year's resolutions are a great tradition. That spirit of change, that desire to improve, it's a wonderful thing. Sure, most of us fall short of the lofty goals we set for ourselves, and manage to fail in our resolve, but that's no excuse to stop yearning to be better.
So, what do you want to change? What do you want to accomplish? What goals do you have for 2014?
Here are a few of mine:
Eat right, and excercise often. I did this in early 2013, and then got distracted, and then got very sick. Time to get back on that wagon. I know how it's done.
Write a novel. Oh, hey... I have a contract for something exactly like this.
Write a total of 150,000 words of fiction.
Rack up another year of uninterrupted daily Schlock Mercenary
Okay, that last one isn't a change, necessarily, but it's something I always have to resolve to do. Otherwise it doesn't get done. And maybe that's the key to all of these: don't make a resolution just once. Make it every day. And January 1st is a nice first day for this sort of habit.
Thursday December 26, 2013
47 Ronin was not what I expected. I sat down and braced myself for a completely plotless swords-and-sorcery romp with a bit of Asian flair. What I got was a retelling of the story of the Forty-seven Ronin.
I'm happy with that.
I'm also happy with the fact that Keanu Reeves is not our protagonist. That role is taken on by Hiroyuki Sanada, who totally delivers the goods.
This movie poster is weird. Not pictured:
The love interest
The faces of any of the 47 ronin
The antagonist's witch
The magical half-breed, who functions kind of like Merlin in a story about Arthur
The antagonist's metal-masked champion who doesn't actually do very much besides be taller than everyone else
A burning town made out of ships, but which we don't see burn in the film
A tattooed guy, from the town made out of ships, and who functions an a scary doorman
A silhouette which is probably Ôishi, our protagonist, but I'm not counting that as picturing him because honestly, you wouldn't know this until after you saw the film.
So the poster is misleading and the trailers are misleading but for me the film didn't suffer at all for that. The poster and the trailers put me in the seat, and then contrary to my expectations I was told a story that was far truer to Japanese culture than American audiences have any reason to expect right now.
It's a powerful story. It didn't need Keanu Reeves or the pirate town, or even the magical stuff to work, but it probably needed those things in order to get greenlit, so I'll take it. 47 Ronin comes in at #13 for me this year, crossing the Threshold of Awesome for good use of effects, not white-washing anything, and not flinching at the end.
Tuesday December 24, 2013
Merry Christmas, everyone!
One of my favorite recent Christmas songs (for "21st century" values of "recent") is Jonathon Coulton's "Chiron Beta Prime." It's a Christmas letter from a family imprisoned by robots, a cheerful message with dark undertones (or perhaps a dark message with cheerful undertones,) and there's one particular line of lyrics that resonates with me, but only when taken out of the original context.
"Not everybody's good, but everyone tries."
That's a great Christmas message right there. This is that time of year when, in a spirit of generosity and kindness, many of us excel for a few days at being the sort of people we'd like to be year-round. No, we're not all good people, at least not all the time, but we're trying.
Granted, in the context of the song, everyone's trying to be good because the giant metal Santa Claus robots carry weapons, and they know if you've been naughty. For me that changes the message to a question regarding the value of good behavior in the absence of agency. The song doesn't explore that in any detail, but that's fine. It's a better song for subtly pointing at the issue and letting us answer the question ourselves.
Merry Christmas! Give the gift of trying to be good, because there might be robots watching. Watching, waiting, and learning.