Scarlett Johansson Will Never Be Menacing

People are up in arms about this new Ghost in the Shell movie–live action this time–and starring such actors as can be generally acquired by the ancient fucking reptiles that inhabit the fissile wastes of the West Coast.  Never mind that the remaining corpus of material has been either illustration or animation, working with the advantages and disadvantages therein; never mind that the rights to produce the movie were not by any means stolen from its legal possessor; what they’re mad most about is that the starring actress–and a good portion of the rest of the cast–are white and that therefore this film represents some sort of perverted whitewashing of the superiority of the yellow race.  But I couldn’t care less about that.  Never mind that the material for the Ghost in the Shell franchise is borrowed rather liberally from the science fiction authors of the Western World; never mind neither that this is generally how creative inspiration works; it doesn’t fucking matter.  If the creator of the licensed title believes that he can make a better product that will sell more tickets by using a certain cast, you’re damn right he will.

Truth is, I’m up in arms as well, but it’s for altogether different reasons.  I’ve actually long been a fan of the Ghost in the Shell franchise, among the few Japanese media besides Kurosawa that I can tolerate.  And I’ve seen some very faithful interpretations of Major Kusanagi’s character.  She’s tough, generally self-assured, and she can seem menacing without seeming a monster.  She’s a military brat of an older tradition, and it’s something I can appreciate.  And frankly, I don’t think Johansson is a decent actress in general; I certainly don’t think she can faithfully render the major’s character.  She does certainly have the vacant stare that might be possessed by a full-body prosthetic, but I frankly think that it’s a failing not of non-verbal communication but the cry of the long atrophy of that bit of gray matter affixed to her brain stem.

This might seem mean to me in retrospect, but then I’d remember her terrible interpretation of the Russian language.

Panic Attacks

Now, I know a little too much about this subject.  It was the reason I sought the assistance of a professional in the first place.  While I’ve gone for a long time without specifying whatever ailment I have suffered, this will unfortunately narrow the list more than a little uncomfortably, but it’s something I’m willing to risk considering the subject matter.

Now, if you’ve never suffered a panic attack, never had a condition that provides them, never had reason to worry on this subject, much of what I’m saying will be difficult to comprehend.  There are a lot of unpleasant experiences one can endure in life, but there are few that produce such dread in the sufferer.  When I used to see depictions of mental disease in media, just for example, I could never really comprehend how anyone, even a loony, could behave with such reckless disregard; I thought their depiction was something purely imaginary meant to titillate crowds.  And while there’s a certain amount of that, there’s also a kernel of truth within.  Let’s say you’ve got a character suffering hallucinations and delusions, seeing people where there are none, who is nevertheless aware that he’s seeing what others apparently can’t.  You’d think he could throttle his reactions and at least play nice with normal people, but the problem is that delusions are so powerful.  You could acknowledge logically in your head that the demon standing at your bedside can’t possibly exist, but the very experience of it is so powerful and unpleasant that you nevertheless can’t help screaming and then hysterically sobbing.

A panic attack is one of the most unpleasant experiences you can experience.  You will feel such terror that you may nevertheless know unreasonable, but you can’t help from feeling it, and this terrible sense of dread can continue for long miserable hours until the strain upon your head and your heart makes you seriously contemplate suicide.  It isn’t that you want to die; you don’t even need to have a history of suicidal ideation; the experience is simply so powerful and so dreadful that you may wish you were dead.  And when it’s over and when you’ve gotten over it, every time you develop a niggling of fear, you can’t help wondering, “Is this the buildup to yet another panic attack?”  And the fear of another attack alone may give you another attack.  It feeds back into itself continuously until your mental and physical health are shattered and you’re a mere fraction of your former self, wallowing in the corner blubbering in tongues that were never meant for human ears.

God save us.

The Foreseeable April

A boring span of time in all likelihood wasted in editing and editing and editing again my original book into something sufficiently different.  Already went through a draft that looked quite presentable, but I know better than to trust my initial instincts.  So we’re going to endure several iterations and outside eyes before we determine the manuscript completed.  After that, I’ll have to see, in likely several forms, how the finished product looks on Amazon.  After that, assuming I’m allowed, I should be able to put it up on preorder to be ready for sale on Black Friday.

I’ve also got a fantasy project waiting in the wings.  Not sure I’ve discussed this very much before.  While there’s already running a “Sword of the Saints” serial, there’s also a “Sword of the Saints” novel featuring different characters doing different things but nevertheless in the same universe but at a different time.  It’s fantasy; it’s dark; and it’s occasionally very dark, starring protagonists for whom antihero would largely be an understatement or a complete misunderstanding.  Thing is, the novel was finished, but on a closer inspection, I’d like to provide a book 2 into this volume for a number of reasons.  That means more writing, a great deal more writing, but I think it will be worth it.  If the volume does well, I’ll consider writing a volume 2 consisting in two books, but I’m not going to get ahead of myself.

Anonymous Conversation

I remember there was this pundit on television complaining, as they are wont, about the nature of anonymous conversation, and that it should be done away with.  And his argument was simple, if people can’t be held accountable for their speech, even if only socially, then they could conceivably say anything, no matter how dangerous or how benign.  I don’t think he thought through the wisdom of those words.

We live in a country, unfortunately not a world, where the right to free speech is legally protected by the federal government.  It is not provided by the federal government, merely protected; it is provided, according to the various writings of the founders, by one’s creator, essentially imbued.  Unfortunately, this does not protect us from all consequences and recourse should we choose to exercise our free speech.  It is altogether too easy for a man to lose his living and endanger his family by speaking his mind, most particularly if he’s speaking the truth.  Essentially, there are some perspectives that are considered acceptable speech within broad society, and there are others that are not.  Speech that genuinely mimics the hogwash of the mainstream media is particularly prized while alternative perspectives–say for an extreme example, fascism–are considered so inimical as to invite and justify physical violence, the words of the first amendment be damned.

Previously, to speak your mind and get away with it, you’d have to distribute leaflets, but that required the use of a printing press, which would make you generally simple enough to track down, but the internet has provided altogether new opportunities.  Internet forums of likeminded or even alternatively minded souls can communicate either with the use of a handle or with no identification whatsoever, sometimes not even requiring registration with an email address.  It was slow going, and I never imagined it would succeed the way it has, but this ultimately blossomed into an alternative media movement composed not of monolith conglomerates but legions of individual posters proclaiming a generally united message, themselves so difficult to track down as to require the various illegal means of the alphabet agencies so happy to abuse the word of law for short-term gains.  In the last presidential election, the influence of such entities as 4chan cannot be overstated.  They disseminated alternative opinions both broadly and without major hindrance, and many of these reached national importance, particularly in the form of memes–quite famously “Pepe” the frog, which the mainstream media hilariously tried to dismiss as a white nationalist emblem, only serving to further its dissemination.

Learning a Language

It can be daunting, right?  The last time you learned a language, it took you nearly twenty years to be fully competent and you’re still learning things about your native tongue, facets and subtleties that might be forbidden to others.  And so when you encounter someone bilingual, trilingual, or–good help you–a polyglot, it’s like being in a room with a living deity capable of feats to him simple and to you utterly unassailable.  Luckily, I’m here to relate that this really isn’t the case.

When I was in grade school, I took French for many years, time in which I happened to build some approximation of a standard French pronunciation, but when I see full adults trying to learn a language, speaking it without an obviously foreign accent is often a skill utterly beyond them.  The further back you go, the more that can be intuitively adopted, the easier it is to get native fluency, but you have to remember that you spent twenty years getting your native fluency in your own tongue.  If someone insists to you that he has native proficiency in several languages, he either grew up speaking all of them in his household, he’s a genuine polyglot, or he’s a simple liar that doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Generally, if someone says that he knows French in addition to his mother tongue, he means that he can read French and speak it for the most part without the aid of a lexicon, but he’s never going to insist he can equal your typical native speaker in knowledge of all those myriad subtleties.

Now, I’ve got experience in French, German, Sanskrit, Classical Greek, and Latin.  The first of these I simply don’t have the time to pursue anymore, though I can usually get through a reading of French; the remaining two languages I can read more than adequately, but nevertheless I’m far from being a master, but most professors would nevertheless term me fluent.  And that’s just the thing; “fluent” in this context is still a matter of extent but for the most part it means “good enough.”

I’m always learning more about Greek and Latin, and I’m slowly but surely becoming a more excellent reader.  That’s how it is for most people.  It’s a continual process that never ends.  There is no peak mastery; there is always at least one more hill.  That’s just the way it is.

Turning Over a New Leaf

I hate certain idioms.

Anyways, things are going to be changing around here, but many things will remain unchanged.

  • The serials–Gregory Samuels and Sword of the Saints–will continue as normal.
  • Both books–Sagas of the Iron Hearts and Goliath Thunder–will become unpublished within a few months.
  • Sagas of the Iron Hearts will be thoroughly revised and provided additional content and thereafter republished under a different title.
  • Goliath Thunder will suffer similar treatment.
  • The Sword of the Saints book, which was nearly ready for republication, is going to go back under speculation.  Publication will probably occur more than a year from now.
  • There’s more, but this is the most notable.

I will be undergoing a very invasive rebranding effort, and all the content I’ve made so far will be a part of that very same.  Marketing strategies are changing thanks to the changing nature of online marketing platforms.

This is all very new to me, you see.  I certainly didn’t know what I was doing when I started, and with the changing nature of the various platforms available, the strategies I had been using had proven less and less useful.  This is exacerbated by the fact that I simply wasn’t selling books after the initial week of publication, and I couldn’t secure reviews to ensure readers that my material wasn’t a waste of money.  Traditional publishers have enough cash to simply pay reviewers to provide reviews of their product.  I simply don’t have that much liquid to throw around.

Anyways, this being the case, I basically wanted to start all over.  There’s no sense in trying to sell more books if no-one’s buying your already existing books.  So, I’m going to act as if I’m starting from the beginning aside from some very serious advantages I’ve accrued.

I Hate Reenactors

I could very well attach a certain graphic and leave the matter at that, but it would do nothing so soothe my long-remembered rage about this peculiar and perverted species only tangentially related to homo sapiens–the reenactor.

The reenactor is like a person and it’s usually male.  It’s old enough to have enough money to waste on frivolities, and it possesses enough time usually due to a lack of children, but not necessarily.  The reenactor lurks on large social media sites and occasionally smaller forums devoted specifically to their subject matter, but they can otherwise be found playing dress-up on community soccer fields in such regalia as would shame any right-minded man.

Honestly, I think I’m too mad to keep up this charade.  I once made the mistake of joining a group on a certain massive social media website that was devoted to reproduction of Hellenic customs, including warfare, on the grounds that I myself find the subject fascinating; I spent many years, after all, learning both Greek and Latin, and it wasn’t merely to impress my parents; they were rather set against the idea, actually.  I usually didn’t pay them these reenactors any attention, but I made the mistake of off-handedly mentioning something about the difficulties of fighting in tight formations with very large shields.  You couldn’t imagine the gravity of my mistake.

People I’d never met before, never talked to, both hurled abuse upon my person and otherwise defended my position, sending back and forth reply to reply to several persons faster than I could conceivably formulate a most concise counterpoint.  Shortly, and before I knew it, I was buried in a legion of replies of which I could do nothing.

It drove me insane, made me incensed, to consider that such creatures could waste such time and effort merely speculating on the nature of Hellenic warfare while being neither professionals in the subject matter nor even capable of reading Greek, whether modern or ancient.  I couldn’t stand listening to it.  Nothing being said had enough authority to be considered with any gravity.  But they were men, and the subject matter was warfare, and thus they considered themselves to be eminently knowledgeable, when in reality they had barely scaled the cliffs of mount stupid.

I removed myself from the group and ignored any request to join another group of the same nature.  Putting on a crested helmet and a silly shield you bought from ebay does not a specialist make.

In all honesty, I do a lot of research for the stories I write.  It’s a necessity.  I’ve read about weapons and manufacturing, fencing, even ships of oar.  The distinction is that I developed my knowledge from experts in the field, fencing masters and retired naval officers, and I wouldn’t pretend to inform another layman myself without having my books close at hand.

 

Cheetahs

People love kitty cats.  They were among the original darlings of internet culture.  Their peculiar expressions and oblique demeanor trended them towards the very unique and memorable–that combined with their fairly impressive problem-solving skills and undaunted hunting instinct.  Dogs have never really received the same status.  They’re not very independent and altogether predictable in their behavior; this makes them bad television.  And while it seems that most households prefer to have dogs than cats, the internet has a much differently pronounced opinion.

Canines and felines compose fairly large families under the mammalian umbrella constituted in a great number of species, indicating the success of the model, but I would argue that canines are nevertheless more diverse in their physical form and behavior intended for different hunting and reproductive strategies.  A cat, however, is just a cat.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a house-cat or a lion; they are all cats, and they all speak cat.  In fact, if you’re familiar with the physical cues and vocalizations of house-cats, you could probably read the very same with good accuracy in any species of cat under the sun.

It used to make me wonder why the other cats were never domesticated, sometimes never even tamed.  Sometimes I think that my own cats would eat me if they were only larger.  They’re ambush predators, and simply turning the back induces a powerful hunting instinct in this case only mollified by their small size, but if you tried the same thing with a tiger, no matter how much you might know that tiger, you might not live to regret it.

Now I mentioned that cats, in general, are ambush predators.  This means they try to get up real close to their prey and ideally pounced before their prey has the time to react, ensuring a clean and quick kill minus all the running and screaming.  This is why turning the back induces this hunting instinct, even if the animal might be completely sated.

Now Cheetahs are similar, but in a way they aren’t.  They certainly prefer to slink up to their prey and close the distance before being noticed, but thanks to their magnificent velocity, they don’t have to catch their prey unawares; they can just chase him down.  You might more appropriately call them chase predators.  So the interesting thing is, with a tamed cheetah, turning the back won’t induce a hunting response, meaning you can largely trust the animal when your focus is distracted.  Combine this with the fact that cheetahs often form social units of their own for mutual hunting, and you have an interesting animal.

Thanks to their sociability and hunting style, they can be tamed very successfully.  In the past, they’ve been used as prized hunting animals by kings in far off lands in activities that would simply be too dangerous with a tiger or lion.  And this has made me wonder, “Could they be domesticated?”  The most limiting factor I can think of is the cheetah’s requirement for a wide prowling area, about eight hundred square kilometers, which hardly any handler or enclosure could provide.