Good news, everyone!

Posted in Blogging, Uncategorized on June, 2017 by melendwyr

Now there’s a title that will inspire dread in every geeky heart…

On the plus side, I have steady work now, which means I no longer have to worry about starving to death on the streets.  On the negative side, it’s kept me so busy that I haven’t had much time to devote to my all-important hobbies, like gardening or occasional blogging.

Hopefully I can manage to get more of those things in.

What color was the Emerald City?

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction with tags , , on February, 2017 by melendwyr

No, seriously, think about this for a moment.  In L. Frank Baum’s original work, what color was the Emerald City?

Your first thought will probably be ’emerald green’, and your second will probably be that there’s some kind of trick here.  There is.

In the book, the Wizard didn’t know how to make a city where everything was green.  So he made a city that was totally pure white, and told everyone that they had to wear green glasses to prevent the dazzling glare of the ‘green’ city from blinding them.  They quite naturally saw everything as being green once they wore the colored lenses, but because they were gullible, they were taken in by the Wizard’s explanation.

Of course, making a White City is even harder than making an Emerald one.  So there’s a great deal of irony in the fact that, in attempting to deceive everyone into thinking he had made a lesser accomplishment, he made a greater one.  There are also many associations to be made in the real world, but that’s another story and will be told another time.

Also, the Slippers are silver.  But I don’t know that they’re symbolic or emblematic of anything.  If the movie makers hadn’t wanted to show off their color technology quite so much… oh well.

Okay, let’s try this again…

Posted in Blogging on February, 2017 by melendwyr

I had been holding off on doing things like blogging while I was trying to find work.  Then I found some and was too busy to start it up again.  Now I’m looking, again, and I think I’ll try some different strategies.

I don’t know how regular updates will be, but there will be some, in the near future.

What Women Want – 50 Shades of Grey’s ancient pattern

Posted in Fiction, Politics and Society, Things You Should Hear with tags , , , , , on February, 2015 by melendwyr

For years, people have been gushing over the novel 50 Shades of Grey, and now that it’s a major motion picture people are gushing about that.  Praise or condemnation, it doesn’t much matter – either way, people are talking about it.  It might not be quite true that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.  For people.  For ideas, for memes, that seems to be the literal truth.

I’ve been monitoring how the book is discussed in various male-dominated circles, and my overwhelming impression is that the people claiming to explain the ‘true significance’ of the novel just aren’t getting it.

50 Shades is a combination of two kinds of fantasy: sex-without-guilt, which like the ‘rape’ commonly found in romance novels permits women to enjoy forbidden/tabooed sexuality without being responsible for breaking the social codes – basically having the cake and eating it – and the fantasy of having a man be so obsessed and emotionally tied to the woman that he can be induced to change his bad-boy nature.

It’s the same basic pattern found in lots of romances. The only difference between this and the standard bodice-ripper is that as more and more forms of sexual expression have been normalized, more extreme practices are needed to give people the frisson of transgressing what’s ‘good’. Go back far enough, and sex we’d consider tame and standard would be kinky and shocking.

Readers get to be titillated by the forbidden, then released from guilt about enjoying the forbidden by having it be treated as a shameful male crime – “It’s not my fault, he tempted me” – then given what they really want.

And what is that, exactly? The medievals knew perfectly well.

Go read Chaucer’s ‘The Wife of Bath’s Tale’.  Or better yet, go listen to Professor Corey Olsen’s Fairie and Fantasy lectures about ‘Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle’ and ‘The Wife of Bath’s Tale’.  And consider how the basic pattern of those works compares to the structure of 50 Shades.

The Phoenix and the Firebird

Posted in Uncategorized on February, 2015 by melendwyr

It’s been nearly a year since I did much of anything with this blog.  Sometimes I’ve had nothing to say.  Other times I’ve had plenty to say in other venues, and didn’t bother repeating it here.

Perhaps soon I will think of something worth posting.

Skin Game

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on May, 2014 by melendwyr

Jim Butcher has written fifteen books in his Dresden Files series, not counting the short story anthology.  The latest, Skin Game, was released today.  I’ve picked up a copy.

Butcher’s skill at spinning yarns has increased steadily since his humble beginnings as a creative writing student crafting a genre crossover between noir and fantasy as a class project.  He was twenty-five then.  We’ve had one book a year since then.  And each has been better than the last, with a possible exception for the pivotal novel Changes – not because it is lacking, but because it marked a watershed moment in theme for the series, and so cannot be adequately be compared to its surrounding works.

The new novel?  Extraordinary.  New mysteries are hinted at, subtle premises established more than a decade ago are revealed in a new light, old beloved characters are brought back in thoughtful new roles.  Instead of sprinting from one supernatural disaster to another, desperately trying to keep Chicago in one piece, Harry Dresden has had a lot of time off… to the point of sanity erosion.  Being left alone almost of the time on his unmapped island in Lake Michigan hasn’t done a great deal for his mental stability.  He’s so lonely that he’s taken to chatting with the entities imprisoned beneath the island, something he had previously lampshaded as near to criminally irresponsible.  But his old nemesis and new boss Mab, Queen of Air and Darkness, shows up with a task for him to  perform, and she’s not going to take ‘no’ lightly.

I can’t decide which delighted me more:  the plot turns and developments which I didn’t see coming, or the one I successfully called many years ago.  So very satisfying.

The Self-Destruction of John Campbell

Posted in Comics, Politics and Society, Reviews, Things You Should Read, Weirdness with tags , , on March, 2014 by melendwyr

You may recall my earlier post detailing my sadness upon learning that one of my favorite webcomics, Pictures for Sad Children, had been deleted by its artist and creator John Campbell.

Upon learning that he had a Kickstarter project involving the release of his comics in bound and printed form, I concluded that perhaps he didn’t want the free online version of his work competing with his professional work.  Sadly, I have recently learned that the reality is much, much stranger than that.

As the bottom of that Wikipedia article indicates, in fact.

Campbell had gained a degree of notority for apologizing for purportedly “pretending to be depressed for money”.  Which is quite peculiar, but not nearly as weird as it would become…

John Campbell recently announced that all of the Kickstarter rewards which were going to be sent out had been, and that nothing else would be forthcoming – regardless of what had been promised or what people had paid for.  In fact, he released a video showing him burning printed copies of the book, one for each email he had received from people asking where their books were.  Along with the video was… well, a rant.

This might lead you to think that Campbell is staging some kind of avant-garde  performance art, which wouldn’t be incompatible with the style of his comic.  Possibly the whole thing is being faked… except for the vast number of people who haven’t received the work that they paid for and are beginning to become angry.

The rant itself sounds very much as though Campbell were sliding into depression, or schizophrenia.  Not quite at the word salad stage, but approaching it.  Faked?  Perhaps… not.  It’s really quite disturbing.  Campbell claims to have realized that he’s a transwoman, says that he has about $750 total, and has a lot of reasonably incoherent things to say about capitalism, society, and ‘privilege’.

Some people now claim they are working to scan the copies of the book and put them online.

I don’t know what the full truth behind any of this is,  but one way or another, it seems to be the end of John Campbell’s career.  Possibly the beginning of a number of angry lawsuits, although if the statement about the checking is correct I doubt there will be much of anything to win.