Unenlightenment

I tried. I really tried to like this game (The Road to Enlightenment). But, somewhere in the middle of Turn 2, I shook my head, put all the cards back in their decks and this puppy away. It wasn’t fun. Just wasn’t. And what’s the point of playing a game that you’re not enjoying? It’s like reading a book that bores you to tears.

Not that I found this game boring. Far from it. Playing a monarch doing everything you can to bring your people into the Enlightenment, what a great concept. The problem is, it’s unplayable as a solo game. You’ve got to have at least four people, and it’s better with six, IMHO. And they have to be six medieval history enthusiasts who speak Latin or Olde English at each other and can cite the various codexes of the Magna Carta from memory. Know people like that?

I don’t. I don’t even know people willing to play any kind of game. I am cursed (or blessed) with a circle of people who think Chutes and Ladders is the bees knees of board games. And it has its charms. But so does Panzer Leader and Spartacus and WarHammer and whole bunches of other Avalon Hill and GMT games that my circle doesn’t want to play. Monopoly they know, Midway they don’t. So I play a lot of my games (and I have a lot) solo, usually with little problem. Yes, I am that schizophrenic. Or, I want to enjoy the board game experience so much I am willing to set up the partitions between my internal opponents and play like I don’t know what my right hand is doing. And sometimes my right hand does surprise me, which is why I didn’t think I would have a problem with this. But it can’t be done. See, this is a deck building game that depends on the secrecy of your deck for strategic game play. Now that shouldn’t be an issue because I have other deck building games and play them with the mental partitions intact. These cards, though, are nigh on incomprehensible. Studying them is like preparing for the bar. The rules are nigh on incomprehensible. The whole blasted game is.

Now I am not completely stupid and can grasp a board game’s mechanics with a simple rules read-through and a couple of preliminary rounds, you know, the way most of the populace learns to play a board game. Not this one. I read through the rules and went, “Huh?” So, read through them again. “Huh?” Two more times, same reaction, oh, the heck with it, let’s start playing. I’ve already reported the results of that. Not that the rules aren’t laid out and clear. It’s that I had no idea what I was supposed to do: when do you play what card and how can you play this card and what does this card do and how am I holding these cards to begin with I mean shouldn’t French luminaries be with King Louis? What are they doing with the English? Did I do this wrong?

Who knows?

So, yes, when confronted with a problematic game like this you’re supposed to look at the Youtube videos and watch a few playthroughs and then go to Board Game Geek and read some reviews and clarifications…really, you’re supposed to? Gee, I wonder what we did before there was Youtube or BGG, read the rules and understand them or something? Yeah, yeah, old guy get off my lawn, but it is a measure of these mediocre times that no one knows how to write a set of rules anymore. The rules booklet in this game suffers from a case of “I understand it so everyone else does, too,” sort of like the instructions you get with a computer program.

Don’t get me wrong, I spend time watching games on Youtube, usually WarHammer matches or Wil Wheaton having it on with Felicia Day and those guys from Vancouver are hilarious. But that’s to (a) get a feel for a game I’m considering or (b) just the fun of it, not to figure out what I’m supposed to do. And, yes, admittedly, I once watched a Star Realms video to make sure I was doing it right, but I did so already with a good idea of how the game worked. When the rules leave you completely bewildered, though, there’s not enough video to cover that.

I got the feeling this whole game was inside baseball, that the designer and his friends are the aforementioned  medieval history enthusiasts and they did this game to amuse themselves, seeking to render every obscure Enlightenment figure possible into some kind of playable character so they could one-up each other. “Aha, I see you’ve included Bartuch Spinoza but I don’t see Jean-Sylvain Bailly.” “Aha, my learned friend, you are correct, I have left him out in favor of Madame Blavatsky.” An all night session of  “ah-hah!” In iambic pentameter.

And I’m not far off. The Designer Notes strongly indicate that the personalities were the most important part of the design. That’s great, but what are you supposed to DO with these personalities? Got lost in the admiration somewhere, I think.

And there is much to admire. It’s a very pretty game. The map is gorgeous. The cards are gorgeous. It looks great.

So does a Rembrandt but you’re not going to play with it.

Posted in Game On | Leave a comment

Through a Glass Darkly

If you want to know what happened during the Korean War, this is the book you should read. Yes, yes, there are more recent ones with probably better access to newly declassified records but Fehrenbach’s is more contemporary, written in 1962, when the memories, the nightmares, were fresher. And it is nightmare reading. My God, what the troops, on both sides, went through. What the South Korean people went through. It’s like Mordor.

All because, a mere five years after winning WW2, America was gone.

Oh, not in the sense of the Third Reich or Imperial Japan, ruins and death and wreckage, but spiritually, morally, its national zeitgeist. By the beginning of the 50’s, the no-nonsense, tough, realistic America that rolled up its sleeves, took up arms, and broke the back of fascism was over. Instead, we became an America of hesitation, complication, and overly sophisticated political nuance. No more good and evil, no more right and wrong and simple choices; nuclear weapons had made war unthinkable. Unfortunately for us, not everyone believed that, and we were caught in a trap of our own making. We had the nukes but not the Army, and no one, except the true crazies, were willing to irradiate the world over a border dispute. We were the victims of our own success.

Americans have never trusted nor wanted a standing Army. We don’t like armies. We don’t see them as an instrument of national policy, like the Brits did. We had a small Army that chased Apaches, and we didn’t call up young men  and march Over There unless we had to. As we had already done. Twice. That’s it, we’re finished, let the malcontents and misfits chase Apaches, we’ve got a Madison Avenue and Wall Street to build, as was our due for winning the Last Big One. So while Americans became Mad Men, safe behind our nuclear umbrella, the Army was left to rot. Here, kids, use these surplus rifles and tanks for your silly war game playing soldier exercises you like so much. And, you officers and sergeants, stop yelling at the recruits and making them feel bad about themselves. Stop all the tough training, too, because that also hurts their feelings. Be more like civilians, you warmongers.

And we did. Sergeants asked pretty please. Barracks weren’t GI’d anymore; sports days replaced marching. And trucks and transports rusted and broke. Oh sure, we had occupation duties, but the Axis was chastened and Japan was outstanding duty with houseboys (and girls) to do your bidding and shine your shoes and, really, why waste taxpayer money on all those annoying and noisy exercises?

And all that time, some rough beast slouched towards Seoul.

Fehrenbach’s description and analysis of the North Korean Army will chill you to the bone. Those guys were good. They were were well organized. They were well equipped. And they had purpose. Yeah, you say, then why’d they lose?

Who said they did?

Because, when all said and done and hundreds of thousands of Koreans were dead and their towns and villages nothing but blackened ruins, the North Koreans were still there. And still are. The US got the crap kicked out of it. There is simply no other way to put it. A peasant Army with no air support and very little armor pushed the greatest fighting force in the world almost into the sea.  What prevented that final push is something that Rommel observed: Americans are badly prepared for war, but learn quickly. And it took the destruction of Task Force Smith and tens of thousands of US casualties before we finally learned that the best way to fight, first the North, and then the Chinese, was the same way we fought the Apaches: stay in the field, live out of your saddle, and hit and run. Wear them down. Choke them off. Starve them. But it cost. Oh, did it cost. Our invincibility, and, most importantly, our reputation.

And our confidence. It’s the Forgotten War because we don’t want the reminder that maybe, just maybe, we’re not all that. TVs and refrigerators and little boxes on the hillside and Mom’s new Amana kitchen and all the fifties and sixties good life had a cancer gnawing at its bones. Bustling cities and corporations and experts and Dr. Spock and commissions replaced the common sense and homespun knowledge that defined a pioneering, self-contained, independent person…you know, the average American. This was the atomic age, the modern age, and we have no time for that quaint Pilgrim way of thinking anymore. There’s a world to govern. There’s a New Modern Man to build.

All that time I rode my Spyder bike up and down streets well past dark, running with my friends in an American neighborhood of peace and security and assurance, doors left unlocked, Swanson’s TV dinners and Ed Sullivan and everything good. And a classmate was murdered by his mother, and my family split up, and Presidents and preachers were shot and cities burned and it had to be those dirty Commies, the same ones who crashed through the 38th parallel but no, it wasn’t.

It was us.

I didn’t really know that until recently. I blamed hippies and drugs and Democrats, but all that is mere symptom. Fehrenback spotted it early on. We had forgotten who we are and what we should be and the costs of  remaining independent in the face of the envies and the lusts for power and control which are the true motives of mankind. We were Americans. Why, when those Norks find out its Task Force Smith on this ridge waiting for them, they’ll turn tail and run.

When those Cong find out it’s the Seventh Cavalry landing here in the Little Bighorn…er, Ia Drang Valley, why they’ll just turn tail and run.

We learn nothing.

Posted in Reading itself | Comments Off on Through a Glass Darkly

Doing the Math

Starting back in November, I ran a series of ads on various platforms for various books, specifically

a. Pre-order a copy of Frank Vaughn Killed by his Mom

b. Advertise the Ship trilogy

c. Giveaway signed copies of the Ship trilogy and

d. Free download of Frank Vaughn.

Here’s the breakdown:

1. Facebook:

Primarily, I boosted Facebook posts. For a, I let Facebook select worldwide demographics from 1-30 November. 20,494 people reached, 7898 engagements, 171 clicks, 5 comments, 1 share…practically all of it from various Indian states.

For c, the giveaway, I restricted it to the US because of mailing costs. From 1-15 Dec, 1344 reached, 535 engagements, 2 clicks.

For d, again letting Facebook pick the demographic, from 3-8 Dec, 725 people reached, 327 engagements, 9 links. From, you guessed it, Indian states.

I got a lot of canned questions in French as comments, like “Do you have any products?” and “Can you tell me more?” (thank God for Translate). Which is a bit baffling given that the post answers both. I simply sent an appropriate link.

2. Twitter

I only did a, the pre-order, during the 1-30 Nov timeframe, and got 13,713 impressions with 1430 link clicks for a 10.43% result. This was for the US and UK.

3. Amazon

For a, the pre-order, ran a Product Display ad from 1-30 Nov, 36,592 impressions with 129 clicks. I also ran b above, from 1-24 Dec and got 4771 impressions with 18 clicks.

4. Radio.

I ran 10 radio ads on the Dennis Prager show for the Ship trilogy from 10-22 Dec. Yes, it was expensive.

Results of everything:

4 pre-orders of Frank.

29 downloads of Frank while it was free.

Before the radio ad, 4 downloads of the first Ship book, which is free. After the radio ad ran, 40 downloads of the free book, 3 downloads of Book 2, 4 downloads of Book 3. In Smashwords, I had 10 downloads of the first book.

Obviously, nobody wants to pay for books.

I had no entries for the three-book giveaway. Not one. Zero. Since Goodreads now charges for book giveaways, I decided to run it myself. The only persons who filled out the form on my site were Russians and Chinese offering hot sex in my city, adidas jerseys, or asking me which blog platform I recommend.

So, which was the most effective? I guess the radio ads.

Posted in Writing itself | Comments Off on Doing the Math

Fish Story

I am not a DC guy, so I went into Aquaman with a bit of dubiousness. We Boomers chose sides in the DC/Marvel rivalry decades ago and you either were fer or agin one or the other with a fanaticism bordering on Cold War intensity. There were some outliers who claimed to like both equally, but they were viewed with suspicion, like pacifists who insisted the Commies weren’t all that bad. Adding to the dubiousness, it’s Aquaman, a blond spandex/fish scale armor-wearing guy who rides a seahorse and pals around with spandex wearing Aquakid, a la Batman and Robin, evoking the same uncomfortableness regarding their relationship. And he talked to fish. Fish.

Not that I felt any particular animus to the character. I watched the cartoon    

back in the 60s with some satisfaction, thrilled that TV had finally come to its senses and was showing comic book characters, even if it was DC. Cartoon Aquaman remained in his wheelhouse, the ocean, and did ocean things so was not to be taken seriously. This movie Aquaman, though, is deadly serious, done up in the person of badass cool guy Jason Momoa who did quite a good job in Justice League…which I liked.   

Yes, I know, that places me in a  very small minority and lends suspicion that I might be one of those aforementioned pacifists going soft on the Reds, but it was pretty good. As was Batman vs Superman. See? I can be persuaded. Aquaman might turn out to be this year’s Dark Knight. 

It’s not.

Instead, it turned into a mash-up of Lord of the Rings, Excalibur, Starship Troopers, the Cthullu mythos, Gladiator, the Little Mermaid, the Hunt for Red October, the Avengers, oh, just about every movie of the last twenty years or so. I swear some computer geeks got together and said, “Man, we gotta make some money, so let’s CGI every trope from every movie because you know people like that stuff.” There’s even a Skywalker finding his mother. I swear.

The first ten minutes or so was great. Nicole Kidman…or her stunt double…  kicked royal butt and butt royally, depending on with whom she crossed tridents. Gotta say, all the movie fights were stellar. But, danger, Will Robinson: a copy of “Dunwich Horror” lies on a tabletop. 

Now, why would that be? ‘Cause, you know, if you show a gun in the first act you gotta use it in the third and, yep, Cthulhu shows up later. Along with his/her fish monsters. WTF? Did one of the computer geeks note “Arkham Asylum” in Dark Knight and figured there was a Lovecraft connection?

I blame public education.

Minutes later, the scene that killed the movie:  a line of armoured seahorses facing off a line of armoured sharks. With lasers. And all roaring at each other. I laughed out loud, then asked, “Is this a joke?”                  

No, apparently not. Even when the timpani playing octopus was beating out the Planet Hulk combat rhythm in the arena, when the Green Goblin CGI-floated around pretending he’s still loyal to the Master Race, and Aryan God Boy Ocean Master screams like Howard Dean on the campaign trail, you’re supposed to regard all this as serious and intense.

It’s like Springtime for Hitler.

I can go on and on and on but I’ll just hit the lowlights. F’rinstance, the entire Russian Navy knows Aquaman exists. Aquaman even speaks Russian. Fluently. Everyone on the East Coast knows Aquaman exists. They party with the dude. Yet, the news media pish-poshes the idea of Atlanteans among us.

Must be CNN.

There is an eeeevil villain who simply can’t get over that Aquaman didn’t save eeevil villain’s Dad from a watery death. Dude, your dad was a pirate. Sort of goes with the territory so lighten up. But noooo, evil villain constructs an eeevil costume replete with a dirigible helmet that fires plasma. You’d think a  guy who knows he’s going to be maneuvering around submarine interiors would select something a little less unwieldy. But, it’s DC. Simple physics never bothered them. Like the Batcopter.

And for all their high tech, the Atlanteans are not the brightest. Aryan God Boy knew for decades where his hated half-brother lived and waits, of course, until Aquaboy is full on badass Aquaman before deciding to take him on. For that matter, the plasma firing laser shark Atlanteans have had a beef with the surface world for nigh-on millenia, but, of course, wait until we’ve got badass Aquaman on our side before making a move. No wonder the gods drowned them.

But Nicole Kidman showing up in a lobster suit…that’s it. Done.

Make mine Marvel.

Posted in lesser mediums, Merry Marvel Marching Society | Comments Off on Fish Story

Netflix Updates

Daredevil:

What more needs to be said about Season 3? Magnificent, perfection, Daredevil the way Daredevil was in Season 1 before Season 2 and the Defenders

blew everything off track. Man. That classic Kingpin/Daredevil knock-down drag-’em-out in the last episode harkened back to treasured Daredevil comics of my youth. Don’t know what it says about me that a brawl warms the cockles, but it did. Even more cockle warming, the knock-down between Daredevil and Gladiator, replete with saw blades. Would have been nice to see Gladiator in full regalia but this was fine, just fine. Gladiator

was always my favorite Daredevil villain and I almost shed a nostalgic tear as he tossed Matt to and fro. Loved Bullseye, too, but it would have been nice to see him in his own costume instead of swanning around as Daredevil. Yes, I know, there’s some Bullseye title where he does said swanning but that’s outside my comic book ken. Guess I’ll have to wait until Season Four…oh, right. Sorry.

Haunting of Hill House:

I have not felt this let down and ripped off by an ending since Lost. What the hell? This was, up until the end, the best horror series in decades. About the only thing comparable is The Returned (the French version), which was as creepy and disturbing but did NOT shoot itself in the foot with a final New Age post-modern angst-ridden sellout episode. Dudes, really? Really?

Rake:

Whew. For a minute there, I thought Cleaver Greene had jumped the shark and we were going so far out into the Australian bush that we would never find a way back but, apparently, the writers realized they were crashing and burning and quickly ended that silly Secretary of Defense storyline. Trump Derangement Syndrome, and I guess they just had to say something, just had to. So, feel better now? Great. Let’s stay on course, shall we?

BTW, I don’t binge watch. I watch an episode a week, unless it’s grabbed me and then maybe two episodes a week, like this last Daredevil. Some of us savor our pleasures.

Posted in lesser mediums, Merry Marvel Marching Society | Comments Off on Netflix Updates

And the winner is…

…no one.

Not one person entered the contest for signed copies of the Ship Trilogy.

Okay.

Posted in Writing itself | Comments Off on And the winner is…

What White People Do on Weekends

Attend homesteader conventions, of course, because nothing screams “White people are crazy” more than taking seminars on how to live without electricity, medicine, air conditioning, and basic civilization. So what was I doing there?

That whole 12th Century peasant lifestyle is kind of appealing.

And not just to white people. There was plenty of ethnic, cultural, sexual, and racial diversity among the crowd attending a Homesteaders of America convention held near h’yeah a couple of months ago.                  

Don’t let the photo fool you, the place was packed, I’m guessing about 3ooo people scattered hither and yon throughout various buildings and tents. I’m beginning to wonder what everybody else knows that I don’t. EMP on the way? The zombie apocalypse? Disco returns?

Anyways, despite almost freezing to death, I had a really good time.

I am not disparaging of the Homesteader movement. It’s actually a very good idea to have skills such as canning and plant identification and pig slaughtering in case any of the aforementioned events occur. I should have learned all that when I was a farmer kid in Alabama. Guess I was too busy learning to read or something.

All right, all right.

Some of the highlights:

1.How to Make Bread with Bread.

I was attracted to this seminar by the title, thinking it concerned techniques of restarting a bread dough by using crumbs or something. Silly me. It was a seminar on how to make money selling bread. Get it? In summary, you make some bread and then sell it, preferably at smaller lengths/weights so you can rip people off better.

2. Foraging.

This was a fascinating discussion by Darryl Patton about traditional southern medicine, which comes from a blend of Indian, English, and African cultures. There are 3000 species of medicinal flowers and plants in each state and Patton knew every single one of them and then some. Funny guy. He described the fine art of 1960s television tuning, starting out with rabbit ears

… no, not those rabbit ears…

and then you’d upgrade to aluminum on the rabbit ears and then the youngest kid in the family holding the ears at the right angle with one foot raised and both eyes closed and presto! Lawrence Welk. Only those of you who experienced this can appreciate it.

Solzhenitsyn developed cancer while he was in the gulag and cast about for cancer medicine in the Siberian villages but there wasn’t any, not because of Democratic Socialist Wonderful People’s Healthcare, comrade, but because Siberians didn’t get cancer. They drank chaga tea their whole lives and it apparently prevents it. It’s part of current cancer prevention research. Chaga’s hard to find because it only grows in really cold areas, like the northern US and Canada. Which made me wonder what it’s doing in a seminar about southern traditional medicine.

Sassafras root has long been known as a blood thinner and fever breaker. It’s more recently known as the base for ecstasy.

Plantain was brought over by the English. You know, that ugly big-leafed weed in the middle of your yard? The leaves are like spinach. When it gets really big it’s called ribwort and you grind it up to get Metamucil. Juniper’s inner bark is a fertility drug so, ladies, don’t chew on Christmas trees unless you’re looking for a different kind of present.

3. Ferments.

Now we’re talking, or at least I thought we were talking about how to turn random plants into noxious spirits that the revooners frown upon, but no. Instead, we talked about kvass and scobies and kefir and kombucha (something like that) and other things I had never heard of and now regard with some suspicion. I mean, get this wrong and you end up with cyanide. Or botulism.

4. Doug and Stacy Part 1.

These two are Youtube celebrities who left their good jobs in the city to go off-grid. Why? Eh, why not? Doug is a funny guy and Stacy tolerates him and it was good fun. They both glommed on to an Amish community to learn the ways of off-gridedness, and one of the first things they tried was a 10,000 square foot garden because that’s what their Amish neighbors had. But their Amish neighbors had something they didn’t: fifteen kids or so, which makes tending to a 10,000 square foot garden a mite easier than if you DON’T have fifteen kids or so. It also makes it a lot easier when you’re 80 years old and someone needs to sling a horse-harnessed plow around the yard…yes, youngest kid of fifteen available, I’m looking at you. Progression of labor is why the Amish have large families…that and no television.

5. Eustace Conway.

I’m not familiar with this guy but he’s a big deal in the homesteader community because, at the age of 17, he moved into a tipi in the woods and stayed there for 17 years. Ah, so “homestead” is a polite way to say “bum.” Those 17 years taught him what he needed to live. Apparently a barber is not in the mix.

6. Canning.

Don’t confuse this with ferments, you Philistine. Got a lot of tips from this seminar, should I decide to start canning the various squashes and vegetables I manage to grow in my insignificant little garden patch. I’m pretty sure I would end up with a can of germ warfare, though, so I’ll stick to the supermarket. You may not know this but salt is for curing while sugar is for preserving. Cane sugar is the strongest preservative available…except for formaldehyde, I guess, but who wants to pickle something other than Amenhotep using that? Once a jar is vacuum sealed, it’s safe to eat forever but you probably wouldn’t want to.

7. Soap Making.

You know, after a hard day of killing zombies, you just want to relax in a bubble bath of ye own homemade soap. You cannot make soap without lye. Just can’t. Fats + lye = soap. Got it? So throw some bear fat and alkali into a pot and there you go. I had never heard the word “saponification” before this seminar, which is apparently what happens when the fat and lye eat each other in the pot. It’s a pretty intense process, if you remember Granny by the cement pond stirring the kettle,

so you can’t use herbs because they get burned up. Have to use essential oils which are really expensive. Consider bear fat, instead. You can throw in clays like bentonite and pumice or poppy seeds for that Lava soap consistency…or you can buy Lava soap.

8. Joel Salatin.

Another homesteading celebrity who I listened to for about five minutes before heading out to rustle up some grub. He was talking about cleaning animals and you can’t haul water, you have to use something called “pipes” and really, dude?

9. Doug and Stacy Part Deux.


This closed out the show because we can’t get enough of Doug and Stacy. No really, they’re very entertaining. They talked about the colors of food and what that means, such as red is lycopene in tomatoes. Blue/purple is anthocyanin…say, what? Is that like cyanide? Best lay off the eggplants. Foods with some bitterness are the best for you. Purslane has the highest amount of Omega 3’s of any other plant. You mean that crappy weed I keep digging out of the rock path is good for me? Okay, thanks.

Gonna get me some overalls and a straw hat, I am.

Posted in Life in the Shenandoah Valley, Uncategorized | Comments Off on What White People Do on Weekends

Free beer

Eehh! Caught ya! It’s actually free books, three of them, to be exact. I’m giving away signed copies of The Ship to Look for God trilogy. Now through 14 Dec, go here, fill out the contact form, and pray for victory.

Giveaway rules are here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Free beer

Stan Lee was my Father


Not in the Darth Vader/Luke Skywalker sense; more in the Max Perkins/Thomas Wolfe one. (Now THERE’s a literary reference that’s going to cause a Google scramble!). If anyone fired up my imagination and urge to write stories, it was Stan the Man. And Ray Bradbury. And Alexander Key. And Sheila Moon.

         

But I digress.

Because, back then, those halcyon 60’s, Stan Lee fired up my geek/nerd/dweeb/spaz imagination as I raced down the street to Carl’s Drug Store with my allowance in hand to snatch up his creations: the first Fantastic Four, the first X-Men, the first Ghost Rider 

(the real Ghost Rider, not the later scary one. Which I also bought). I was in the Merry Marvel Marching Society and uttered “Nuff Said!” and “True Believer!” and ”Excelsior!” in every other sentence. I read Stan Lee’s Soapbox religiously, as well as the letters, and knew who John Romita and Jack “King” Kirby

and the hapless Artie Simek (they always insulted the letterer in the credits box) were. But Stan was the king,  the conductor, the guy running the show and keeping that unruly Marvel Bullpen in good-natured line so we FOOMs could get a new adventure every month. Or so. Or three.

I learned to read with those comics. Piles of them, from Rawhide Kid to Iron Man, on the back porch of my best friend’s house as we poured through them over and over with me going, “What’s that word? What’s this word?” and him patiently teaching because he was in fourth grade and I was in first. By the end of second grade I was reading at a fifth grade level. By the end of third, I was trying to write stories. I’m still trying.

All because of you, Stan.

Take a look (hint hint hint) at Frank Vaughn Killed by his Mom to see how important Marvel was to 60s kid-dom. Me and about a million other pointy-heads were obsessed with X-Men and the Avengers and Sergeant Fury up till we were about fifteen years old, then it was Shang-chi and Iron Fist and Daredevil and scary Ghost Rider

and the other lower level heroes as the galactic fell to the mundane. And then the mundane fell to the daily struggle and we didn’t buy comics anymore; we bought furniture. Then we had children and introduced them to Grampaw Stan, a re-introduction and renewal and there we were again, buying graphic novels of the stories we’d missed like Civil War and Secret Wars and Frank Miller’s Daredevil and then the movies, the marvelous movies. My childhood came back, in Dolby.

And there Stan still was, still conducting, still running things…well, maybe not so much. What Stan did to Jack and how he let Jim Shooter cudgel Marvel into pudding and his growing distance from the universe he’d created, well, this is what time does.

But that’s okay. It’s okay, Stan. You birthed a nation. There are hordes of aging Boomers with gravel in the expanding gut and spit in the cataracted eye who fondly remember, who soar the universe on silver surfboards and walk the streets of Asgard and swing from building to building on webs and rope canes. Rest easy, Dad.

Posted in Merry Marvel Marching Society | Comments Off on Stan Lee was my Father

Pudding Fist

They gave the Fist to Colleen Wing.

Are you kidding me?

Now, before you leap on your feminist high horse and give me all that I-am-woman-hear-me-Kiaa crap, understand that it’s not grrl power or anything like that which sparks my incredulity. It is the baffling lack of logic behind what was obviously a pandering, politically correct  move. What baffling lack of logic, you inquire? Well, like, say, what is the reason or purpose for K’unlun? I mean, if all you need is some old Fist blood and a brand new tattoo, then why the deuce do you have to spend your entire life training to fight a dragon?

Danny Rand got rooked. Danny Rand should ask for his life back.

Other considerations, like, why didn’t Davos think of this earlier? Why didn’t his Mom? How in the blue blazing hell does a former member of the Hand end up with the Fist? And what the heck is that last sequence with Fist Bullets?

This is not Iron Fist. It’s not even a reasonable facsimile. I think the closest the writers ever came to it was glancing at an Iron Fist comic book cover on a newsstand as they were driving by. I actually started rooting for Davos. At least he understood what the Fist was for.

Upside, the fighting was better this season and you got to actually SEE the Fist,

which is why I upgraded it from Jell-o to Pudding. But it was still nonsensical. Colleen is a good basic-level sword instructor but a martial arts master? No. Not even close. A guy who spent twenty years practicing mystic martial artists and fighting a dragon is, however, and certainly doesn’t need some iffy samurai showing him how to fight. And a Japanese girl and a white boy telling the Tongs they must give up their centuries’ old traditions? Well, why don’t you invade Manchuria and machine gun the Boxers while you’re at it?

Other upsides: Typhoid Mary as the female Punisher and Misty Knight coming into her own, although her cyborg arm should be far more badass than it is. I would love to see Misty in her own series…own. With Colleen and Jessica Jones. That would be badass. How ’bout a team-up between Typhoid and Punisher? Oh, man. Get the popcorn.

But there aren’t enough upsides to save the show and it looks like Netflix has figured that out and thrown in the towel. Good. Iron Fist is one of my favorite Marvel characters  and what they did to him was criminal.

Matt Murdock should sue them.

Posted in Merry Marvel Marching Society | Comments Off on Pudding Fist