Thursday, April 27, 2017

Josh interviewed at the Raconteur Roundtable

Remember that time I made a brief and unnecessarily cryptic announcement that I had been interviewed for a podcast?

It's now up! Episode Six of the Raconteur Roundtable! I mostly talk about the process of writing Forever Fallen but I also touch on Roger Zelazny and the Drinking Game. I'm in the second hour of the podcast. You should listen to me first because if you listen to anyone before me, I'll sound even worse by way of comparison. After you're done with me, go back to the other episodes, which are better.

I wasn’t as bad as I had feared, but I still got so flustered and tongue-tied that I sounded like a text-to-speech robot with a stammer and collection of weird vocal tics. I speak my sentences like a Zack Snyder fight scene SLLLOOOOOOOWWWW MOOOTTTIIOONNN. THENSUDDENLYFASTMOTION! Then SLOOOOOOOOWWWWWW MOOOOTTIIIIOOONNNN AAAGGGAAIIIINNNN.

I think I learned from the experience because when I gave my panel at ReGen 3, I think I avoided some of the mistakes I made here. It was a lot of fun and the crew over there really loves Doctor Who.

Day 27: Roger Zelazny Poetry Month 2017

Our swords were shattered
in our hands and we hung our
shields on the oak tree.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Day 26: Roger Zelazny Poetry Month 2017

"You have rather odd
beliefs for a C Twenty
Cleveland art dealer."

Another haiku from the Haiku Finder. This time from Roadmarks.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Day 25: Roger Zelazny Poetry Month 2017

It is survival.
The laser flashes again,
this time to the right.

Extracted from Permafrost by the Haiku Finder

Monday, April 24, 2017

Day 24: Roger Zelazny Poetry Month 2017

On the coasts, you can
never tell where the sea ends
and the sky begins

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Day 23: Roger Zelazny Poetry Month 2017

He has other names,
but the remembering machines
know him by this one.

From Eye of Cat

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Day 22: Roger Zelazny Poetry Month 2017

They are now become
pale emeralds, and a yellow
spark lives within each.

Day 21: Roger Zelazny Poetry Month 2017

We are a people
apart and we have found our
home. What else matters?

Day 20: Roger Zelazny Poetry Month 2017

You were the best car
I ever had. Surrender.
Fire off your ammo.

Unintentional poetry from Last of the Wild Ones

Day 19: Roger Zelazny Poetry Month 2017

Snip, snip went her shears.
Cut fragments of twisted flax
floated in the air.

This one was extracted from the text of If at Faust You Don't Succeed, by the haiku finder.

Day 18: Roger Zelazny Poetry Month 2017

Holds within it a chill like
The nearness of death.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Day 17: Roger Zelazny Poetry Month 2017

The winds of Winter
blow bright and brittle in The

Uncharacteristically, for Josh's Roger Zelazny haiku, I think this one actually meets the criteria for a haiku, rather than just being seventeen syllables of unrhymed verse. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Day 16: Roger Zelazny Poetry Month 2017

"Nobody steals books
but your friends." Wise words from Prince
Corwin of Amber.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Day 15: Roger Zelazny Poetry Month 2017

Few Memorable
Villains in Roger’s books. Why?
Busy narrating.

This may require a bit of explanation. I was trying to think of my favorite villains from Zelazny’s books and I couldn’t come up with any that jumped out at me. What I was trying to say with the haiku is that in some cases, it's the villain telling the story.  I don’t agree with people who posit that Corwin was an actual Nazi, but he wasn’t a good guy either.

Corwin straddles the line between a Byronic hero and a villain.  Then there are some straight up villain protagonists. Jack of Shadows is right up there, but Nemo also killed some innocent people rather than be arrested.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Beauty or the Beast: Which is better, the original or the remake?

The second weirdest thing in the world is the fact that Disney is remaking its animated classics as live action films. They remade Beauty & the Beast. Perhaps you've heard about it? It got a little bit of press when it came out.

How does it compare to the original?

The Live action Beauty and the Beast reminds me of nothing so much as the director’s cut of Aliens.

Yeah, that Aliens

The theatrical release of Aliens was a taut action thriller with some inexplicable decisions by its protagonist. The director’s cut explains those choices (Ripley went back after Newt because her own daughter died when she was in suspended animation) but at the expense of the pacing. It’s rather uneven and herky-jerky compared to the claustrophobic horror of the original.

Which one is better?

If you had asked me twenty years ago, I would have said the theatrical cut.

If you had asked me ten years ago, I would have said the director’s cut.

If you ask me today, I’ll say I don’t know. They scratch different itches.

I wrote about the original Beauty and the Beast here when we saw it in 3D. It was a classic, but one with some huge plot holes and some seriously problematic elements.

It would seem that in adapting the film, the creators sat down with a list of every criticism ever leveled against Beauty and the Beast and resolved to address every single one of them.

Issue: Belle is kind of a whiny jerk.

Solution: They made her less of a whiny jerk. Look, I like Belle. But in the original, she is literally stepping over people who are doing their chores while singing her song about how she has nothing to do. As the Offspring tells us, it’s cool to hate. (I hate a lot of things/I hate a lot of people that are lame/I like to hate stuff/cause then I don’t to have to try to make a change.) Hey, Belle, your dad goes to invention fairs. Maybe you want to check that out? Look, I grew up in a small redneck town and I didn’t have a lot in common with the people around me, but I didn’t spend all my time telling them how much they suck.

Issue: The Beast was transformed for a decision he made as an eleven-year-old boy.

Solution: They aged him up.

Issue: Belle falls in love with her captor

Solution: They twist themselves in knots to justify this, and really, they’re only halfway successful. Maurice wasn’t arrested for trespassing; he was arrested for stealing a rose. The Beast gives Belle a chance to say goodbye to him, but she locks herself in the castle tower instead. That’s great, but it’s a symbolic act, as I’m pretty sure the Beast has a key. It’s still his call to allow her to take her father’s place. The Beast comes off looking a little better, but it’s so clearly an after the fact justification that I have difficulty accepting it at face value, and the fact of the matter is that she’s still his prisoner.

Issue: We don’t know how Belle’s mom died.

Solution: They explain it in excruciating detail.  We get an explanation of what happened to Belle's mother, but who gives a shit? She's dead when the story begins and how it happened is outside the scope of the story. Are we going to get an extra special edition in twenty years where Cogsworth shoots first and we have an extended flashback to Maurice’s apprenticeship as a junkyard slave?

Issue: LeFou is ambiguously gay.

Solution: LeFou is not ambiguously gay.  To the extent that I thought about it at all, I always figured that the animated LeFou was sublimating his feelings of attraction towards Gaston into a form that his society would accept. I’m not saying that this was what they intended, but I do think it’s a valid read. Listen to the song he sings about Gaston.

Issue: The unconscious Beast is too heavy for Belle to lift him on the horse.

Solution: More than any other change, this infuriated me.  It’s done so gracelessly. The Beast is unconscious and nearly dead after defending Belle from the wolves. Belle kneels down and says, “You have to stand up for me.”  I can not imagine a less elegant solution.  I’m surprised he didn’t mug for the camera.

Issue: It sure was shitty of the Enchantress to punish the staff for the Prince’s actions.

Solution: Mrs. Potts explains that they ARE to blame, because they didn’t raise the prince to be a better man. Weak. I just don’t think they were in that position to effect that kind of change.

 Issue: Not every inanimate object in the castle was once a human

Solution: Talk about a solution in search of a problem. Apparently, some people at the internet looked at the wreckage in the west wing and decided that those chairs were a bunch of transformed servants the prince murdered. I always figured that they were just chairs. That was the case, but Lumiere spells it out specifically after Belle tries to make friends with a hairbrush.

Stuff they didn’t address:

Wolves rarely attack people. When Jen and I were first dating, we watched this on VHS. When the wolves attacked, Jen remarked, “What a negative portrayal of a predator species.” Maybe they’re magical wolves, but since nobody explained to me at great length that they were magical wolves, they’re probably not.

Mrs. Potts is too old to have a child Chip’s age. They lampshade this when someone takes him for her grandson, and I suppose it’s possible that’s the case. Emma Thompson is only 57 and it’s possible she could have a child Chip’s age, if unlikely. I think a more probable explanation is that she’s raising her grandchild as her own because something happened to Chip’s parents.

Bottom Line: Jen and Lily loved it, but I prefer the original. It was very nearly perfect, but it had some problems. They fixed the problems, but without addressing the rest of the narrative and watching the movie felt like looking a wall where someone had plastered over a hole. It's just as conspicuous as what it's intended to conceal.

Despite my gripes here, I don't think it's bad at all. New songs were solid and it captures the essence of the story admirably. I think it's close enough to the original that any choice will come down to a matter of personal preference and I happen to prefer the original.

Day 14: Roger Zelazny Poetry Month 2017

More hits for Martin's
Lord of Light than Zelazny's.
Most annoying, that.

Top search result: R'hllor. R'hllor, also known as the Lord of Light, the Heart of Fire, the God of Flame and Shadow, is a prominent god in Essos, but has only a few followers in Westeros, where he is more commonly known as the red god. His symbol is a fiery heart.

It's churlish to be upset with Martin over the use of three very common English words that happen to be suitable for his purposes. It might have even been a nod to Zelazny, of whom he has been a tireless advocate. Still, a little annoying.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Day 11: Roger Zelazny Poetry Month 2017

Logic, poetry,
a dash of noir. The core of
Roger Zelazny.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Day 10: Roger Zelazny Poetry Month 2017

I can take or leave
Wild Cards. But everyone
adores the Sleeper.

I’m pretty sure that he’s the most popular character in the series. Zelazny did a clever thing by creating such an adaptable character, and George Martin, bless him, is great about acknowledging Zelazny’s contributions and praising him every chance he gets.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Day 9: Roger Zelazny Poetry Month 2017

I’ve said it before
But Mark should have been the lead
In Changeling.  Pol sucks.

Roger Zelazny Crossword Puzzle

I was having a conversation on Facebook and I decided to dig up an old crossword puzzle about Zelazny I had created back in 2015.

Unfortunately, when I returned to it, I found that I made it mostly as a joke, what with answers like Melbriniononsadsazzersteldregandishfeltselior and Kjwalll'kje'k'koothai'lll'kje'k. (I'm surprised that I found the restraint to avoid throwing Strygalldwir in there too.)

So here is the link to a revised and updated version of the puzzle. It's challenging, but all the answers are readily available online if you google around a bit.

Basic Puzzle

Interactive puzzle, solvable within browser

Printable PDF of the Puzzle

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Day 5: Roger Zelazny Poetry Month 2017

He sold his soul for
vengeance, after being damned.
How Zelaznian!

I go back and forth on the merit of Dilvish. Intellectually not suited for pulps. Elric of Melnibone worked, but he was written as a subversion. Dilvish is like Elric having Conan's adventures. I think I'll go back for a reread after April is over, but my assessment right now is that Zelazny's writing is too cerebral for the sword and sorcery genre and there are too many elements in the stories that don't quite mesh. If Zelazny had gone on to follow up with his follow up to the Changing Land, exploring what Dilvish's life would have been like now that he no longer had a target for his vengeance, I think he would have pulled those disparate elements into a more cohesive whole.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Monday, April 3, 2017

Day 3: Roger Zelazny Poetry Month 2017

Betancourt's Amber
has fans. The internet is
stranger than I knew. 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Day 2: Roger Zelazny Poetry Month 2017

Red thinks Flowers is
his sidekick. Flowers knows it's
the other way round.

Saturday, April 1, 2017