Lemme Post This Before I Lose The Link

So someone on my Twitter feed posted this most excellent link: “The Tea Party Will Win In The End.”  And by God, he’s right.  The money quote:

Such is the power of denial that we [liberals] simply refuse to concede that, by the metric of intractability, at least, conservatives are the cockroaches of the American body politic, poised to outlast us all.

The thing that’s always struck me about liberals is how blitheringly stupid they are in writing off an entire half of the goddamned country.  We’re so utterly convinced that we’re morally justified that we actually forget that opposition exists.  And so the history of me being liberal(ish) is watching people go, “What?  Bush won?  California passed Prop 8?  Tea Parties are winning elections?  How did that happen?”  And every time it’s like someone ripped off a Band-Aid, and there’s this sense of terror that the world has gone terribly wrong.
No.  It didn’t go wrong.  You just forgot to fight.
Dude, conservative rhetoric is here to stay, and no matter how laughable you may find their ideas, many people believe it and it does not cease to exist because you can’t take it seriously.  Stop being shocked that hey, they’re still here after every victory you accomplish.  You let down your guard, they come surging back.
Many of the liberals I speak to seem morally outraged that they even have to discuss their ideals, as though they’re as natural as water and it’s sheer stupidity of anyone to need to know about how noble you are.  Cut that shit out.  You gotta stay in there punching, man, because the conservatives sure aren’t, and they’ve never ever stopped taking us seriously.

I Was On The Radio Last Night

At 12:19 am last night, I was on the BBC Radio for four minutes, discussing the new Star Wars/Disney merger.  All I can say is, they’re very trusting folks.
The offer came by way of my friend Eric Meyer, who got hit up via Twitter.  Eric, it should be noted, is neither a Star Wars expert or a media expert – he’s one of the finest minds I know, and the acknowledged master of web technology CSS, but pretty much abandoned Star Wars after the prequels, and wasn’t overly fond of them as an adult either.  But they found him on the Twitterwebs, presumably because he has like 50,000 followers and made a Star Wars tweet at some point, and asked him if he wanted to be on the show.  He magnanimously kicked them over to me.
The BBC producer talked with me to test the Skype connection, verified that I was willing to discuss it live on air, and… that was it.  I had no idea what kind of questions they planned to ask, and for all she knew when I got on-air all I would do is stammer and occasionally yell “Bonerfart! Bonerfart!”  Considering this was a live interview, well, if this is their usual MO then they luck out an awful lot.
But the interview went well – they asked about my opinion on it (it’s potentially exciting; they could go the awesome way of Marvel Disney, or the sad pathetic sequel-churn of Pirates of the Caribbean, but the quick-turnaround 2015 deadline date is a little worrisome), asked how I met my wife (why, online, in a Star Wars chat room!), and then I pontificated briefly upon the complete lack of tactics inherent in the Death Star trench run (seriously, why not just fly straight down at the unguarded exhaust port and avoid the hundred miles of heavily-reinforced trench, or at least start the run a lot closer to the target?).
One suspects, perhaps uncharitably, that they were slightly hoping for an incoherent nerd, as there was a brief but uncomfortable detour to “These people dress up in costumes and attend conventions, it’s all rather sad, isn’t it?”  If so, well, I don’t think I was too incoherent.  I did use the phrase “quivering nerdgasm,” if I remember appropriately, which was probably a first on BBC air.
Unfortunately, I don’t know what station it was, although my good online buddies asakiyume and Frank Romeo heard me, and were surprised.  It’s a bit of a sad statement, really; I assumed people were reading my Twitter feed, and never once mentioned it on my blog.  I probably should have, except I was digging out from under the storm and then in a roleplaying game and I lost track, man.  LJ’s so last week.
Anywhoo, it was fun.  They didn’t mention my website or Twitter or anything, and had me living in New York, so it didn’t really get me scads of fame and fortune, but for a lark it’s a fun lark.  Pretending to be A Expert an’ everything.
(And no, I don’t think it’s available online, sadly.  If anyone can track it down, I’d be grateful.)

Presenting… My Fall 2012 Hat!

Ever since I became a Hat Person thanks to stumbling across a flattering trilby in a California head shop, I have switched hats twice a year: at the beginning of summer, and the beginning of winter.  Summer brings a light straw hat, and winter is a heftier, darker build.
The ironic thing is that for many years, all I ever wore was black jeans and a black T-shirt.  That was all I ever wore, black – a sort of low-rent Neil Gaiman.  My wife complained endlessly, saying I should spruce up, I was getting too old for the standard nerd outfit.  Then I got the hat, and the hat chained into looking silly with just black shirts so I started wearing colorful Hawaiian shirts at Gini’s urging, and then Jen introduced me to the many delights of manicures and pretty pretty princess nails – and here I am, in my mid-forties, inadvertently peacocking my way through the world.
(It’s proof that peacocking works, though.  I get more women starting conversations with me about my nails, and guys are drawn to the hat.  It’s a little frightening how much clothes do actually make the man.)
Anyway, Gini did a double-take when she discovered that this season’s hat would cost me $150, and I cheerfully reminded her that black shirts and T-shirts cost nothing.  She did this to me.  All these new expenditures were exactly what she wanted, and if I’m going to buy a pricey hat from the best hatter in Ohio, well, you made the bed, my love, and it’s time to sleep in it.
Which is a long-winded way of saying here, look at my hat.
The Weasel's Hat
I’ve got the hat, I’ve got the shirt, and I’ve got the sparkly nails.  I swear to God, if I could just find a good source for a men’s cuban heel in a wide 8-1/2 side that fits (those cubans have some slim feet, man), I’d be in fucking heaven.

Please, Please Keep Friending Me

There’s an essay going around FetLife called “Please, PLEASE Defriend Me If…“, and I’ll quote the relevant parts here:

You don’t understand why it’s just not cool for a white person to be throwing around the word Nigger with impunity.
You believe blackface is just awesome.
You think that showing consideration for the historical and social contexts surrounding taboo play (incest, rape, racial, etc) equals your kink being poopoo’d on. Pro-tip: it is possible to indulge in taboo and NOT be an asshole.
You believe that racism is not a big deal anymore and black people just be trippin’.
You believe that sexism is not a big deal anymore and women just be trippin’.
You often use the phrase “no-homo” or “that’s so gay” and don’t understand why that’s a problem.
You think trans folk are annoying when they ask you to use their preferred pronouns.
You think being a decent thoughtful human being is somehow stifling, and not compatible with being a “real” kinkster/fetishist/pervert/BDSMer/whatever your kinky label may be.
You think white privilege, male privilege, cis-gender privilege, etc are not “real” things.
You don’t understand why women don’t find street harassment flattering.
You think creationism is just as valid a “theory” as evolution.
You believe in black-supremacy, white-supremacy, male-supremacy, female-supremacy, or any other type of supremacy.
You don’t believe rape-culture exists.
You don’t support gay marriage.

While I find every one of these types of thoughts to be odious and troubling and as irritating as the original poster does, let me make an alternate plea:
Please, please stay friended to me.
While others may not want to be your teachable moment, I do.  If I tell you to go away, chances are good you won’t learn; you’ll just hang about with your other friends, all of whom think this stuff is perfectly fine, and never have to think about your opinions again ever except maybe, if you even remember, that one time a jerk defriended you over stupid shit.
I won’t let you off that easy.  No, you have to walk away from me.
In the meantime, we’re going to argue.  A lot.  Because I believe that while I’ll lose a hundred arguments, I’ll win one occasionally, and that one makes all the difference in the world.  Because I believe that reminding people that yes, people they like have differing opinions is a good thing.  Because I believe that getting called on your shit makes you a better person.  Because I believe that if I walk away, all I do is teach you the lesson that “some people don’t have a sense of humor,” and let you frame the argument as someone oversensitive getting their panties in a wad, and let you get away with a sense of superiority that you do not fucking deserve.
Don’t get me wrong.  I won’t brook personal insults, and I try not to give them.  (I fail, on occasion.  I always feel bad.)  You have to be civil, and I have to be engaged, and I have to accept the prospect that on occasion, I may even be convinced by you.  Otherwise, we’re not having an exchange of ideas, but are just throwing speeches at each other.  And if you’re sufficiently abusive, the ban button’s always an option.
Yet I think it’s important.  If you believe all of this ignorant tripe, well, I may be the only dissenting voice you hear.  And I do think that people can change – because I used to be much less sensitive to transsexual issues until transsexual friends called me on that shit, and I used to not really understand exactly what a level-up being straight and male was, and I learned by making painful mistakes where people reminded me that hey, you’re actually kinda hurting folks with those opinions.  I didn’t change my behavior out of some fuzzy concept of “political correctness,” I changed because I saw people were genuinely injured by some of my thoughts – and for me, it came down to, “I can be a dick and say whatever I want,” or “I can phrase things differently and make life easier for people.”
I would like to give you my whips, friend.  To remind you, challenge you, and I hope, change you.  I’m patient.  Yeah, maybe only one in a hundred people can truly change their minds, but 1% could have made the difference in the 2000 and 2004 elections.  And no, not everyone wants to do this, nor should you expect them to, but I mostly view my blog as a public space and so I will. (There are days I don’t feel like arguing, and I reserve the right not to respond to your every comment.  Like George Martin, I am not your bitch.)
You’re gonna get pissed off.  You’re gonna piss me off.  But you and I, we differ, and we’re gonna hash it out right fucking here.
Stick around.

Cloud Atlas: The Mostly Spoiler-Free Review

You cannot understand how good Cloud Atlas is until you understand all the fine qualities of my ass.  My ass is a fine-tuned, boredom-detecting machine.  Placed in the uncomfortable seat of a movie theater, my ass will creep at the slightest hint of movie padding, and it’s rare that my ass emerges from a film without proclaiming, loudly, that this movie was ten minutes too long.
Cloud Atlas is three hours long, and my ass barely quivered.
That is how good Cloud Atlas is. For me.  As I’ll explain shortly, there are some very good reasons why Cloud Atlas might not be for you.
Cloud Atlas is actually six stories woven together, and individually, each of the stories aren’t worth much… and they’re violently at odds with each other in terms of tone.  How does the comedic flailings of Jim Broadbent as a hapless publisher trying to avoid being beaten up by his thuggish clients interlace with the cold Asian future of clones, where Doona Bae is born into slavery at the futuristic equivalent of an Applebees, meant to be used and discarded?  How does Tom Hanks mutter-and-patois rendition of a post-apocalyptic future beset by Braveheart-painted horse-riding savages intertwine with Halle Berry’s 1970s nuclear power plant investigations?  Judged on their own merits, most of these tales don’t even have a definitive ending, let alone a satisfying one.
But that’s the trick; the Wachowski siblings move from plotline to plotline with the rapidity of a man spinning plates, sometimes, switching between three plots in the course of a minute.  And they layer on the emotional resonances, so that the storylines are not knotted together by coincidence of plot, but by mood; it’s not just one character falling into mortal danger, it’s three people at once.  Four people discover the meaning of friendship within two minutes, each emotional revelation pouring into the next.
Alone, each of these notes would be simple.  Yet in this, the Wachowskis create the cinematic equivalence of a chord, repeatedly and skillfully playing the same notes with variances so they harmonize, swell, take on greater meaning than any single instance of a tale.
The flicker-and-flash keeps the story moving, as you don’t have the time to ponder where it’s all going; just as you’re starting to see down the pathway of the amanuensis storyline, when it would become predictable, you’re wheeled off to the 1850s tale on a bobbing Transatlantic ship-journey, and are distracted all over again.  This is one tale where there is a narrative necessity of having multiple jump-cuts, and it works.
…or it doesn’t.  The problem with Cloud Atlas is that, like old-school Kirk Star Trek and Titanic, it’s so bold and big that you kind of need to buy into it.  Does anyone ever talk like they did in Titanic?  Well, no.  And stylistically, either you buy into it – in which case it’s magnificent – or it plummets straight into the Land Du Frommage.  The Wachowskis were trying to make A Statement by slurring racial lines, having white people as black people and men as women and asians as whites and yes, whites as asians – but that statement is, usually, “We needed a bigger makeup budget.”  Because the Negri- and Caucasizations are usually pretty decent, but the attempts to turn whites into asians makes people look like low-budget Klingons.  They don’t look asian, they look off-puttingly foreign, like some sort of warped branch of humanity, and oh God is that Doona Bae as a ginger don’t look directly at her she will twist your eyeballs like Twizzlers.
I didn’t find the yellowfacing to be racial, as I’d feared.  I did, however, find it to be a constant distraction.  Likewise, I was charmed by the garbled patois of Tom Hanks’ post-apocalyptic future, but I could easily see it being laughable – and frankly, Tom Hanks’ attempts to do non-American accents were hysterical.  (Let us not start on poor Hugh Grant attempting to do what I’m pretty sure is an American accent.)  While Cloud Atlas is unflaggingly beautiful to look at, there are a lot of substandard executions you just have to take as a part of it, and I suspect most moviegoers haven’t.
Plus, Cloud Atlas is being oversold.  Roger Ebert refers to it as though it’s some sort of deep and crazy mystery, man, fuckin’ Cloud Atlas, how does it work?  But no.  It’s six simple stories, weaved together, and the only mystery is whether Roger Ebert is getting too old to follow films any more.  Nor is Cloud Atlas really deep, man – yes, it has attempts at Buddhist overtones with reincarnation and such, but the main message is “friendship is good, oppression is bad.”  It’s a sweet, simple idea, wrapped in a very crunchy shell, but don’t mistake this for a movie that will blow your mind.  Fight Club raised a lot of philosophical questions and then infamously refused to answer them, making it as genuinely complex as a Hollywood film gets – Cloud Atlas raises few questions and then never wavers on where the moral center is, planting its finger and saying, “Here.  Here is goodness.”
But that’s part of the charm, for me.  Cloud Atlas isn’t trying to be cynical, not trying to hide a simple moral message with needless complexity that way, say, The Fountain tried to.   The Fountain was afraid of speaking simplicity because for them, “simple” meant “unworthy of consideration,” and so it gussied it up with a lot of pretention and obscurity.  There’s nothing obscure about Cloud Atlas.  It wears its heart proudly on six sleeves.  There’s not a lot to debate, just a story told well, and even if you hate it you’ll probably hate it in an interesting way.
My advice: go see it.