You Sang The Union Forever

The dream began with a sort of video game scenario, wherein I was a non-blue native american analog on an alien world.  I had to fight the big bad with only the power to purify poisons he produced.  I had to level up on some Dragon Ball bullshit.  There were other anime tropes involved in the scenario.  After the final battle I was trying to find clothing to wear and famous voice actor / internet funnyman SungWon “prozd” Cho was there, with some people fanning out about his anime parody content.  Despite now finding myself in the classic “where are my clothes” dream scenario, I was thinking of myself as the creator of the anime bullshit I had just played out, and I wanted to mention that to him – seeking praise from the master of that art form.  But since I was basically naked, I had to yell at him from around the corner.

This transitioned somehow to another part of the dream that was a big elaborate musical about the invention of labor unions.  It was full of ludicrous anti-history, bad songs, and Oscar bait cast, which in my head was anybody famous that I had seen recently on the internet, whether or not they would actually be cast in an Oscar bait movie – Johnny Depp, Brendan Fraser, Nicole Kidman, but also the guy that played Negan on Walking Dead, and some of those ladies from Klymaxx.  Negan was playing an intellectually delayed dude that was leading the union charge.  He also fancied himself a songwriter, but had really bad ideas.  In one scene he was trying to explain a song idea about a mixing bowl to Elvis Presley.  I was there and felt the need to explain that musicals are horrible, which in the context of this particular scene would be lampshading.

Johnny Depp was using an anachronistic computer terminal in this ambiguous early 20th century steel mill and discovered that he had a “demerit” in the system, without knowing what it was or how he had incurred it.  This would be the launching point for a subplot about how unions will protect you from arbitrary punishment, with rules about how you must be informed of impending disciplinary action and be allowed to defend yourself from them.

Then Brendan Fraser had to go talk to the boss lady and do more singing that my subconscious was ill-equipped to fill in the lyrics of, until I got tired of this and woke up at 8:50 in the morning.  And now this – the glorious reward for anybody who clicked my “subscribe” button in the sidebar.

Who Are We Occupying This Week?

Russia invaded Ukraine, which blows.  Murderous dickbags gonna murder.  Anyway, I’m supposed to stand in judgment of that, but I’m in a glass house.  Gotta check out the periphery before I throw Slava Ukrainis.  Who is the US military occupying this week?  Who are we raining mutilation and ruin upon?  How about our buddies, like the Saudis?  Israel?  I’ve lost track again.

The Brinkman is Back

FreethoughtBlogs’s own William Brinkman is at it again!  He has a new story set in his Bolingbrook Babbler Literary Universe, and I got an advance reader copy of it.  The rest of you rabble can order it tomorrow, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers.  This is my review.

Like William’s The Rift, A Fire in the Shadows is action-packed genre fiction, set in the Weekly World News -inspired setting of his “Bolingbrook Babbler” articles.  At around 12k words, it’s long for a short story, but only covers a few short events.

There’s a lot of information around those events, and the author wants the story to stand on its own, so the exposition can land like bricks upside the head.  The references to events in The Rift feel particularly unnecessary, beyond the important fact of the weredeer incursion.  I do like being able to include a sentence like that in a review.

Still, as I said before, it’s fun to see SFF genre fiction that isn’t beholden to the conventions laid down by the titans of Intellectual Property.  There’s stuff here to enjoy.  The vampire battle strategizing reminded me of a bit in “From Russia with Love” where James Bond was thinking about how he could totally judo chop through his opponent’s chest if he wanted to, but now wasn’t the time for it.

One thing that struck me odd.  The vampire characters seem to regard their own human ethnicities as a thing to be disdained, and I’m not convinced they’d have any reason to feel that way.  This element seemed like a ploy to spell out the characters’ backgrounds without breaking from the plot and dialogue to do so.  In general, the bitchy attitudes of the vampires were unappealing, and while that may have been intentional, it’s not interesting to me as a reader.  I know some other readers like it, so YMMV.  I did like the main character Lydia being a lovefool like The Cardigans.

William’s writing style spells out a lot.  “Show, don’t tell” is one of the central dogmas of 20th century literature, but there are situations where even back then it was ignored.  Short stories in action-packed genre fiction, well, that’s one place where telling works.  His “The Rift” was short for a novel, and like this story, packed a lot into its length, by merit of willingness to lay ideas out plainly.

This creates a paradox (if I’m using that word right), because sometimes William does not spell something out.  Those can be pretty important themes and ideas, and since a reader gets accustomed to him spelling out the situation unambiguously, it’s easy to forget he might leave something unsaid.  I’m guessing a lot of readers might miss his unspoken ideas.


Like “The Rift,” I think the main character of “A Fire in the Shadows” has an unreliable perspective.  Lydia is the kind of person who is in love with the world, like a ramped-up high school student.  Like I used to be, once upon a time, wheeling from one crush to the next.

And that’s the exact kind of person that would repeat the social faux pas that exploded the atheo-skeptic community – a poorly timed pass at a person, which would come off as creepy.  Had Lydia followed through with her love confession at the end of AFITS, she would have been an even bigger creep than Tom during his elevatorgatery crime in The Rift.

Who wants to have an age-inappropriate leather-clad stranger confess their love for you, at night when there’s no one else around?  Big yikes.  Interesting to see a story show a character walk up to that edge and come back.

I think it’s funny that a person could miss that whole theme because it’s the source of the title.  “Fire” is vampire slang for your burning soul.  While Lydia is a reasonably good person, she has that fiery passion of a stranger lurking in The Shadows – something romantic until it becomes dangerous.  Something she needs to be mindful of, and that the targets of that affection are probably better off not knowing about.

That’s emotionally sophisticated stuff.  I liked it.  Thanks, William.

DC TV Extinction

Spoiler Warning for The Flash.  I really profoundly don’t care about spoilers, but hey, here’s a moment’s consideration for those who do.

Not really sure what the new business model at The CW is going to be since the takeover, but it seems like the crossover DC Comics shows are being phased out, bit by bit.  There’s a new DC Comics show that hasn’t premiered yet, but safe assumption it will have little to do with the rest.  It’s easier and more cost-effective to have your shows be modular, not interdependent in any way.  Hey, biz is biz.

Legends of Tomorrow was easily the best thing left in the DC slate and had its last season.  I hope everyone involved is well compensated and living their best life in whatever they do next.  After hinting The Arrow spinoff character Diggle was going to become The Green Lantern in crossover bits for a season, they wrote a weird little end to that plot, like, psych, never mind.  An thus the last of The Arrow‘s existence takes a dirt nap.

Stargirl‘s second season was COVID’d into a strange depressing mess.  They did as well as they could, but you could feel the characters were being isolated from each other for social distancing, the plot written in such a way as to denude the world of extras, leaving everything cold and dark.  Third and final season coulda been worse, but the amazing action of the first Season was almost completely gone.  They just didn’t have the budget for it anymore, I’m sure.

So The Flash is on its last season, which is good.  It’s time.  The most recent two seasons were hobbled by COVID and ended up totally bizarre.  I theorized here that the lady playing Flash’s main squeeze had come to dislike the production in some way, since her character was written out of contact with most of the cast during those seasons.  But she’s back in the house; looks like those strange writing decisions were probably more about COVID issues.  That will let them send the series into retirement with a solid season filmed under less strained circumstances.

The Flash has generally been marketed as less edgy, more superheroic and light than The Arrow.  That marketing was undercut by how grimdark and hopeless the main villain plots have been, over and over throughout its run.  Now that they’re back to their original form, without sensible plague restrictions, will the oppressive atmosphere return?  Who is the big bad of the very last season?

It’s Batwoman!  I did not see that coming.  Batwoman was cancelled and did a very competent job of its last season.  I liked it all well enough.  I think Greg Berlanti (or somebody else in his company) must love his actors, because he keeps giving them chances to show up even after their shows end.  Javicia Leslie is playing an alternate timeline version of Batwoman who became a Jokeresque wildhearted villain.  That means acting like a big campy goofball.  Let this season actually be fun!  We’ll see.

After all of this, I must share an amusing discovery I made.  For all the success of the DC comics shows – particularly The Flash – none of them touched the viewership of The Vampire Diaries.  Whatever big feels they inspire in a certain segment of humanity, the nerd audience is just smaller or less passionate than the romantic girly audience.  Take that, entitled-ass dorks!  And to whatever extent I share an identity with you – not as much as you might imagine – take that, me.

I guess I’ve only been paying attention to the DC shows because of the cultural connection with the comics, the art, the iconic characters in the background of my life since early childhood.  The Superfriends.  The guys on my underwear and my sippy cup, whatever.  If I wanted to pay attention to shows that really matter to most people, I’d skip the dork slate and watch sweet sexy vampires doing their thing…