Movie Review: G.I.JOE: The Rise Of Cobra

On an impulsive lark I decided today to go see G.I.JOE:The Rise Of Cobra.
While I am not counted among the numerous adult fans of the 80’s cartoon series I did watch it from time to time and enjoyed it for its good natured cheesy fun. It had the usual hallmarks of a cartoon series that was designed primarily as an extended commercial for toys. There were lots of characters and new ones introduced regularly. (Gotta have action figures, both good guys and bad guys.) There were also lots of vehicles and tons of equipment. (What good is an action figure that doesn’t have lots of extra stuff?) The bad guys never won, the good guys never compromised their ideals, no one ever died, and a lesson was usually learned.
Despite all that the series could be fun to watch. They sometimes delved into interesting character development and I rather liked the interesting power dynamics that happened among the leaders of the bad guys, Cobra. ( I confess to once wanting to run a strategic level RPG with the players taking the roles of various Cobra Leaders. I reserved Cobra Commander and the Baroness as NPCs. The game never really happened, but it would have been fun.)
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Head Handing

So one of the pleasure in being a writer is in interacting with other writers. Writing is often seen as a lonely profession but in fact writers tend to get along well with other writers. We love to chat about what we have read and the hows and whys of our craft. Writers are also invited to review and critique each others work.
Even a lowly semi-pro like myself will have the chance to read and comment on another aspiring author’s work. Frankly I think a writer should be willing to comment and critique as much as he or she is able, (Still, one needs to be careful. It’s easy to watch your valuable time being sucked away until you’re doing no writing at all.)
Today I had a chance to spend an hour or more with a friend and co-worker giving her a critique on a techno-thriller she had written.

I am not going to comment directly on her story or writing, that was for her and now general distribution. However the real value in critiquing is not in the critiques you receive but in the ones you give. Nothing helps you work at and understand the craft of writing then trying to dissect a piece and understand why it does or does not work. I wrote a 3400 word critique of her novel and went over it with her. I referred to it as handing her her head. (Though luckily I did it politely enough she did not feel as though I had handed her her head. I did, just wrapped nicely and present with courtesy.)

I have received the gift of critique from others and from professionals who have donated their time so I am happy to pay it forward whenever I can.


I expected better from Jerry Pournelle

Over at his blog Jerry wrote the following.

In Italy, Mussolini built the Fascist movement, but Mussolini was a socialist from the beginning, and died a socialist.

Quoted verbatim from The Doctrine Of Facism, by Benito Mussolini the author and founder of Fascism.

Granted that the XIXth century was the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy, this does not mean that the XXth century must also be the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy. Political doctrines pass; nations remain. We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the ” right “, a Fascist century.

The Fascist negation of socialism, democracy, liberalism, should not, however, be interpreted as implying a desire to drive the world backwards to positions occupied prior to 1789, a year commonly referred to as that which opened the demo-liberal century.

Such a conception of life makes Fascism the resolute negation of the doctrine underlying so-called scientific and Marxian socialism, the doctrine of historic materialism which would explain the history of mankind in terms of the class struggle and by changes in the processes and instruments of production, to the exclusion of all else.

Fascism is therefore opposed to Socialism to which unity within the State (which amalgamates classes into a single economic and ethical reality) is unknown, and which sees in history nothing but the class struggle.

Mussolini died a socialist? Really?


today no real posting

I was going to write up something today and talk about the atomic bombing for Japan in WWII, but I was unable to get the work done.
For some reason quite unknown to me the arthritis in my knees began acting up today. They hurt when I walked to work, they got worse as the day went on and by lunch time I was limping quite a bit.
At lunch I needed to go a couple of blocks to a US Post office — to send Araceli off to a magazine — and by the end of lunch I was in real pain.
Luckily a co-worker offered me a ride home at the end of the day saving me quite a few steps.
When I got home it was pain killers and ice packs for me.
I’ve watched TV and very little more.


A dilemma

I have a short story that I think is fairly well written. If I submit it to the Writers Of The Future contest I think there is a decent chance it will place better than ‘Honorable Mention.’ The problem is that I am not a patient man and the quarter for Writers Of The Future doesn’t end until September 30th.
They do not begin judging until the end of the quarter and the first results are now averaging three months after that. If I submit it to Writers of The Future I will not hear back until late December or early next year.
I could submit it to a paying market before then, but then I miss out on Writers Of The Future unless I can find a market that replies in less than seven weeks.

Grrr, the worst part of the aspiring writer gig is the waiting.
I’m terrible at it.


eBook reader purchased

So, to celebrate my first national sale — even though it was just to a semipro market — I placed an order today for an eBook reader.
I purchased the EZReader Pro.
It has a smaller screen than most readers, jus 5″ vs the usual 6″, but it has a faster process, comes with a crush-proof case, and like an Hanlin derived device reads a large number of formats.
It’s supportive of open-sourced material and it’s not tied to any one supplier for book formatting.

They are supposed to ship at the end of the month and I am looking forward to getting mine.

Baen free eBooks here I come!


Pending sale

Well, I have a sale pending.
I’ve signed the contract and will be sending it back to the editor tomorrow.
Once everything is final and I know the dates the short story will be published in the Magazine site I will let you know.

It is semipro, but my words will getting out to infect people.


An Author’s Obligation

A common discussion topic is, what do artists owe their fans?
I am an author — though one without fans at this time — so I am going to chip in my two bytes on the subject.
An author does not owe any far or reader a signature, a signed book a reading, critiques of unpublished stories or ideas. Some author do these things, but it is not an obligation it is what they want to do and I suspect what they like to do.
An author doesn’t owe anyone personal appearances, club meetings, or courtesy any not expected in just normal human interaction. (Sadly, courtesy is falling in disuse among people in general.)

What an author does owe his readers and fans are two things.

One, a complete story.
Two, that the story is written to the best of his ability,

I did not read any of the Harry Potter books until the final one had been published. I did not want to start a story without knowing if the author was going to finish it. (I once read a very good book series where the last book written ended in a cliff-hanger and now seventeen years later it has yet to be completed.)

This is all a writer owes his readers, but unfortunately there are authors who fail in even these simple requirments.


The joy of mindless chores

So last night I was doing the dishes after dinner and inspiration “struck like sudden lightening out of a clear sky.”

This time it was about D&D, the d20 combat system and a new way to deal with damage and death in combat. (I have always been unhappy with ever increasing hit points as a system. This creates the situation where high level characters simply ignore the guy with the bow ’cause 1d8 even tripled for a crit simply isn’t going to slow them down.)

I am not going to go into my new system here. It is simple and it can be overlaid on the existing D&D 3.5 rules with a minimum of fuse and alteration. Perhaps in a notehr post I get into the whys and hows of the combat system. (I hope to test it soon.)

What I find interesting is how often I get my spark of creation while doing something utterly mindless. Brushing my teeth – fixed Space MacBeth; washing Dishes, fixed D&D; cleaning a floor – solved the ending of a tough story. It happens again and again. Clearly having the body engaged but the mind wandering the paths of a mental Fangorn Forrest is good for creativity.

So should I seek out mindless physical activity in hopes of more creativity? Would exercising two or three times a week in the complexes gym make me a better writer?


When Starships were captained by MEN

The neutering and castration of the Star Trek franchise started with Star Trek: The Next Generation. In the series the people and officers of the Federation became boring in the homogenous perfection. I didn’t watch all seven season of that series, and watched less and less of the following series until when it finally degenerated into Enterprise I could only stomach the pilot and no more.

I pine for the days when real men captained starship and had the grit to issue general order 24. I’d enamored that the Federation had such a bloody gun-boat history that the destruction of all life on a planet surface was a General Order. This is something that used to be part of every captain’s tool-kit. Check with HQ? Heh, that’s for weak fools without the stomach for command. Shout the order and just sit back and wait for your crew to eliminate a pesky and annoying civilization from the spin of the galaxy.

A lot this post is tongue in cheek, but Star Trek did become a very cautious environment. We went from Kirk ordering the destruction of Eiminiar Vii to Janeway and Picard surrendering.

This was not progress.