All posts by Bob Evans

Final Birthday Celebration

Yesterday to close out my birthday celebrations I and two pal went to Universal Studios Hollywood. We had not hung out together as a trio in over 30 years and this was a day I had log looked forward too.

Nothing was forgotten before the trip. I brought everyone’s tickets, and sunscreen was applied when we got to the park. The day was bright, sunny, and hot, but we had a great time.

I did not take photos because I was too busy simply enjoying the company of good friends. We saw the shows, rode rides, shared meals, and ofter 8 hours all returned home tired and happy.

Now to start serious dieting again…

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A good game

Well today I ran my D&D game, 5 edition. Now this was also my fist game since I got my iPad. During the week I had loaded onto it two apps, Game Master 5 and Fight Club 5, one a GM aide the other a character sheet management tool.

OH, I am sold. best couple of buck I have spent on gaming. Running the fights tonight was a breeze allowing me to concentrate on the story and the characters rather than spend too much time looking up data.

Tomorrow I am off for Universal Studios Hollywood. Expect to see updates on my Facebook feed, but unlikely here.

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Health Care is going to be Expensive

There is no nation among the rich prosperous ones where health care is cheap. There are places where citizen pay less from their own packets and there are ones where they pay more but when all factors and subsidies are considered the inescapable fact is that modern effective healthcare is expensive. Outside of science-fiction it is going to remain that way. After all productivity in healthcare is not measured in patients/hour but in survival rates and more that measure takes herculean effort.

There are only two broad paths forward on paying for this expensive healthcare; the costs are socialized, born by all or people are left to fend for themselves against the wolves of disease, accident, and misfortune. As a society and as a political entity this is the choice before us.

Now, it doesn’t matter how you dress it up in ‘freedom’ and ‘choice’ and whatever other inspiring words you want to use, moving away from socializing the costs is moving towards throwing people to the wolves. It is the end result of such policies, to say otherwise is either foolish or deceptive. If you want that course, owe up to the cost and understand that people are going to suffer and people are going to die for that choice.

I also think that the ‘throw them to the wolves’ option is not sustainable. As the costs rise and more people are wrecked on the shoals of medical misfortune there will be outcry and there will be outrage. Eventually that system will collapse under the human misery and in their desperation who knows what the political body will turn to for relief?

On the socializing costs path there are a great number of people who seem to think that the only choice on that road is ‘single payer’ but that too is folly. If you take the time to study system around the globe you will find that there are numerous solutions to the question of how do you socialize the costs.

This problem is not going to go away and it is not something you can dash off and forget about after passing your big tax cut or it will bite you and everyone else on the ass.

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No Fifth Avenue Murder — Yet

Well, the reports now coming out of our nation’s capitol about the Comey memos, and where there is one I am certain there will be many others, is earth shaking.

According to multiple new agencies, quoting unnamed sources, FBI Director Comey wrote up detailed accounts in memo form of his conversations with President Trump where the president apparently attempt to kill an investigation. Apparently these memos were composed directly after the conversations and as I understand it such accounts of conversations like this have been accepted by our court as direct evidence. (I’ll leave it to my lawyers friends to correct if I am wrong about that.)

Now I can hear the cry of ‘anonymous sources means these are all lies’ already welling up from conservative denial land, These are several independent news agencies all verifying the same account. Of course you could write that all off as a ‘vast left-wing conspiracy,’ but the simpler and more direct explanation is that Trump asked Comey concern investigations into General Flynn’s Russian entanglement to ‘Let it Go,’ and I do not think that Trump is a huge Frozen fan.

During the campaign Trump boasted that he could shoot someone on Fifth avenue and not lose any supporters. While it is possible that he may have gotten someone killed over his loose lipped bragging about intel from inside ISIS, he has yet to actually shoot anyone. Yet, still he looks to have done some pretty bad things. I understand how conservative can feel a great deal of antipathy towards Democrats and liberals. I know at least one person who has lost their livelihood because of it. However sticking by Trump because he is not Clinton is disastrous. Is this truly the captain you want to go under for?

I believe that between the obsession to deliver the largest tax cut possible, while stripping 20 million people of their insurance, strapping the GOP to this egotistical, idiotic, corrupt conman can only ruin the modern Republican Party.

Is that your goal? Is that what you want? Because that’s is where you are headed.

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What is Horror?

Defining a genre, any genre, is difficult. Particularly when that genre is as diverse as horror. My definition is no absolute, it is what works for me and may work for you.

horror encompasses a wide slate of stories and films, everything from the purely psychological such as Silence of the Lambs, to the most fantastic premises such as kaiju movies like Godzilla. (Or Gojira is you are a purist.) trying to find one definition, one element that binds all of these together is perhaps a fools errand. In fact my working definition of horror actually excludes the purely psychological sub-genre, as I tend to place thrillers in their own genre distinct from horror. Not better, not worse, just their own genre.

So what is my definition? Horror is the field of story telling where the essential nature of the story is that the world is not as the protagonist, and by extension the viewer/reader expects it to be. The rules that the protagonists have accepted are reality are undone and can never be assumed to be true again.

Consider ghosts. We live in a materialistic world where the belief in ghosts is consider eccentric. They are not considered a part of reality and certainly not reality as described by either the physical or biological sciences. If someone comes home to a haunting that is frightening because it violates accepted reality.

Horror becomes adventure when the new reality is the accepted paradigm. Hence Alien is a horror film, Aliens is an adventure film. It also explains the difficulty in craft an genuinely good horror film fro well mined material, vampires, werewolves, zombies and the like have well known rules and that very existence of well known rules undercuts and destroys the sensation of horror.

Now for some horror is about violence, bloodletting, and if we are talking film, explicit effects, but for me that is mere shock and falls short of true horror. Horror to me is a very cerebral sensation. the best stories and films leaves me with a sense of unease that haunts my thoughts well after the tale is told. It the unsettled image of a man sleeping every night in the bed with the ghost of his wife. It is the image of a mother, son, and a VCR on their way to find someone to pass the curse to, to kill. It is the old house on the hill and its power over a poor young woman weak of spirit. These are not images of violence, but they have a violence of the soul in them. To me that is the most powerful horror

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Another Birthday is History

Yesterday was my birthday and I must admit that I had a pretty good day. Of course I have already mentioned the pizza and movies Saturday the day before while on Sunday it was my sweetie-wife and I alone.

We started with usual Sunday trip to the Zoo and my knees didn’t hurt at all, so that is always good. After the Zoo we lunched at a steak house and I indulged in my love of beef. Then it was time for a movie and we watched the revival exhibition of The Fifth Element. Games, at the table and on line, rounded out our day along with Doctor Who.

As a bonus surprised I received two personalized rejections Sunday, I don’t think that has ever happened on my birthday before. For those not in the know the vast majority of rejections you would get from a magazine, particularly any major mag, is going to be a form slip or email. With hundred of submission flowing into their office every month there simply isn’t time for anything else. When a story gathers a note as to why it was rejected that is special. that means despite those hundred of other stories waiting on the editor’s attention they felt strongly enough about yours, that yours was so close to making the cut, that the editor felt compelled to comment.

Yup, I had a pretty good weekend and next weekend will be my final birthday celebration with a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood.

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Saturday Celebrations

So today is my official Birthday and while my sweetie-wife and I will be celebrating quietly together, yesterday was a larger and noisier day.

My desire for a birthday part was fairly simple I wanted friends, I wanted pizza, and I wanted movies. I got all three

The Pizzas came from Costco, they make a decent pizza at a really good price. My friends showed up at noon and we engaged in a triple feature of genre films.

First up was 1932’s Island of Lost Souls, the first and in my opinion still the best, adaptation of H.G. Well’s The Island of Dr. Moreau. A pre-code movie the filmmakers to the plot into area not only not mentioned in the text but actively despised by the author, bestiality. Despite this there is no doubt the thought put into this movie is top notch and Charles Laughton’s performance is the heart of the production.

Forbidden Planet played next. There is little I can so about the much discussed movie. Inspired by The Tempest it is a serious, big budget, and glossy mid-50’s science-fiction film that actually tries to get its science correct. Heavy on the exposition and hopelessly trapped by the social conventions of it’s period this is still a worthy film.

We finished up with fun and cheestastic Flash Gordon (1980.) Staring Sam J. Jones and providing evidence that there is simply is no line that cannot be delivered with utter conviction by Max Von Sydow, Flash Gordon is thrilling, fun, and an utterly insane romp.

After the films we played card and board games and instead of cake I had some fantastic apple pie.

All in all yesterday was a great day and I look forward to many more years of such celebrations.

 

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There are Two Possibilities

Either the Trump campaign coordinated with a foreign power to effect the outcome of our presidential election or the interference came uncoordinated from Russia.

No matter which option I think the wisest and most rational course for the GOP would be an independent prosecutor.

If there is no collusion getting the investigation done and the GOP cleared as quickly as possible is the best route to retuning the focus to the things that the GOP wants to achieve.

If the there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia then it’s best to cut out the tumor fast, before is damages the entirety of the party.

My guess from watching the spineless Republicans during the primary is that they are not going to do this but that they are going to stall and hedge and duck hoping that the problem will simply go away. This is not going to work.

The blood is already in the waters and the sharks have begun arriving. There is more than enough smoke to lead lots of people to think that there is a fire and the only question in their mind is ‘how big?’ Firing the director of the FBI is the sort of thing only someone with little knowledge of how Washington works would do. If Trump though he was fighting the ‘deep state’ before wait until he has the FBI at war with him.

I have no sympathy for the GOP. They had their chance to avoid this during the primaries. They stoked the irrational and lie fueled campaign of the last eight years the logical result of that is the election of a irrational and lied filled President. The bill always comes due and no amount of hiding from the collectors will save them.

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Representation Matters

Popular art reflects the culture from which it sprang. It is this basic fact that underpins the concept that representation in the arts is important. How people of all types are depicted in the arts both reveals the cultures attitudes towards those people and how those people see themselves within the culture at large.

In my book there is a world of difference between representation and bean-counting. The latter is simply plugging is a person of X characteristics to simply say that those characteristics are in the work. Bean-Counting takes no notice of character, reducing people to tokens for fulfilling quotas. Representation is about having characters realized to your fullest ability who happen to encompass a broad range of traits and characteristics. Both require conscience effort on the part of the artist but one makes for better art and more honest representations.

Representation matters because art effects those who consume it. Not only the dominate member of a culture but those who are not in positions of authority or respect. People internalize the depictions that they are exposed to and those internalizations warp the self-image and behavior of all who take them in.

Representation matters because without it we have a terrible waste of talent and resources. We need artists of every stripe participating in the communal village. Even voices you do not agree with, particularly voices you do not agree with. There was a time when the concept of individual rights was the dangerous new idea that the old order tried to extinguish. What uplifting and revolutionary thought is waiting out there?

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Can the State Require You to Risk Your Life?

Setting aside the issue of first responders, the military, and even conscription into the military forces, when is it just and moral for the state to require a citizen to take an action that places their very life in jeopardy?

Very simply the state requires you to do action X and that action carries a low probability of, say one in six thousand, of causing you to die. If you do not perform action X the state will imprison you, fine you, and bring the full weight of the criminal justice system down on you.

It would seems to me that this sort of thing should be considered immoral and an action of an out of control government, The right to your own life has to be the basis for all other rights.

I have heard people argue it would not be immoral for the state to do this in order to save another life. That does not persuade me. Let’s consider this is a political context.

Pelosi or Cruz, whichever politician is your personal political devil, is in dire need of a new kidney. Pelosi/Cruz will die without the new kidney and the state has determined that one of yours is the very best match. Under the threat of fines and imprisonment you are orders to under go surgery and surrender a kidney to the desperate Pelosi/Cruz, but it carries that 1-in-6000 when you go under you will never wake back up. Do you have the right to tell the state to stuff it? That it’s too bad about Pelosi/Cruz but this is something you do not want to do. I say yeah, that is your moral right.

This fantastic scenario occurred to me because I have the tendency to place myself in other people’s shoes. I am constantly watching my Facebook feeds and thinking about what if I were in someone else life, what would that be like? It is part of what makes me a writer. A number of my friends are mothers and I considered the courage of pregnancy. In the United States about 1 in 5,500 pregnancies end with the death of the mother. That’s a terrible and frightened statistic, one that makes me doubt, pain of childbirth aside, if I would have the courage to follow one through to term.

And you can see where that thought trail led.

Laws prohibiting abortion force a woman to risk her life. Plain and simple that state is forcing a citizen to engage in an action that can very well kill them.

I am sure I am not the first person to ponder this aspect, but is has strengthened by pro-choice stand.

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