Winning the Longest Game

I think it may be said that the bad guys here are winning a long game, but going to lose the longest. A glimmer of hope, though they’ve ensured needless suffering in the meantime.

I’m not referring to the oft-misued MLK quote “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Unfortunately (at least, taken like this in its stripped-down version), that’s nonsense. Rather it’s what “Beau of the Fifth Column” said: to change the law, first you change thought. [Read more…]

Neil Gaiman and the Lie of Purity

Gaiman occupies an unusual place, to me. He’s a middle-aged white British celebrity, which these days puts him in a demographic practically guaranteed to be hostile, but by all accounts he’s a good guy. Like, properly a good guy, of the understands-his-privilege and now supports the liberation of all minorities – and I say “now” only because it naturally took a long while for him to even be exposed to a lot of these issues. I’ve never heard of him choosing to dismiss anyone.

What makes this unusual especially is I am a writer, aspiring screenwriter, currently working on several TV pitches, and it’s become palpably obvious to me that ‘Neil Himself’ has turned out to be the single biggest influence on the sorts of stories I like to tell. Sometimes even transitively, as certain other influences were themselves clearly influenced by him. That makes him, for me, the most dangerous sort of thing: a hero. [Read more…]

Living Mythos: Fuck You, Jobu.

Screenshot from the movie "Major League". A fit, shirtless man holds the flame of a lighter to a cigar in the mouth of a short wild-haired voodoo loa figurine in a locker.

People will find transformation and transcendence in a McDonald’s hash brown if it’s all they’ve got. – Patton Oswalt

I’m a huge believer in taking your inspiration anywhere you find it. Anything that makes your life better, gives you focus, helps you live, no matter where it comes from is a good thing. Even if it was from something as horrible as Mein Kampf, as long as it doesn’t encourage you to hurt others along the way. The ‘philosophy’ I am going to talk about here is not from anything like that, though it is from a strange place to find inspiration: a crude, dude-ish, unthinkingly-problematic-product-of-its-time 1989 sports movie called Major League.

Major League is in every way an 80s sports comedy movie. A group of misfits wind up on a team together, drive each other insane for a while, get molded into shape by a kindly old mentor figure, and – genre-wide spoiler alert – ultimately defeat the much more professional and well-oiled Bad Guy Team in an exciting last-minute sportsball upset. Along the way there are funny moments and crude moments and touching moments and crude moments that were considered funny when it was made. Major League in specific is of course a baseball movie about a fictionalized version of the Cleveland Indians (years before the mainstream were talking about the problems inherent in that name and logo), and if you can get past the dudebro 80sness of it, it is actually quite a good example of the genre. As a writer, I’m always impressed by how virtually all the main characters each got a moment to be the big hero during the inevitable bottom-of-the-ninth showdown against the New York Yankees, and it is the the one of these who made the others possible whose hero moment has a valuable lesson. [Read more…]

Love What You Love

Phoenix Fan Fusion Attendees, by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia CommonsPZ Myers recently ran a post about generations, or rather on how the generational differences cited are largely marketing babble and not terribly true to life. I don’t disagree with this post in any real particular; after all, insofar as generational cohorts exist at all as we know them, they’re an emergent property of World War II – the Baby Boom being the huge birth rate spike following the war, and other generations being largely defined in relation to them. But while the generations themselves are not terribly real, the zeitgeists they are associated with (despite also having more than a little of marketing machinery in them) are.

Because time inevitably keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future, I am now an old. I’m from the messy area on the charts where various pundits and pontificators don’t necessarily agree what grand generation I should be sorted into, Gen X or Millennial. One of the main defining characteristics of Generation X, described as early as in the book that popularized the term, is a jadedness and world-weariness (formerly) in excess of their years; this is the generation whence came grunge music and ‘Empire Records’ and Kevin Smith’s movies, and also the popular notion of ironically loving things. It’s the generation of believing the world is such a bleak place that anything wholesome is perforce naïve. Millennials, conversely, re-popularized unironic joy, and loving a Thing because it’s the Thing not because it makes some kind of insightful (or worse ironic) comment. [Read more…]

“Kind” Does Not Mean “Nice”

Lawful Good: It doesn't mean Lawful Nice.I have a Twitter account. Arguably that’s a bad idea, but it’s true, like my closing in on epic levels of caffeine consumption.

I mention this because I noticed a trend among bad actors trying to spar with me. My bio there includes the phrase “Anti-bigotry, pro-kindness.“, which transphobes and other terrible people regard as hypocrisy because it in no way prevents me from handing them their asses. In a fit of nigh-ironic coincidence, I was on my way here to post about this in response to a TERF tweeting Oh look, a pronoun person who preaches kindness. at me, but I arrived to find our own dear sweet Holms doing exactly the same thing, and of course getting his ass handed to him in response.

I have come to sincerely believe that the sort of people who do these things, who are capable of holding in their hearts genuine contempt for some demographic or other, don’t understand what kindness is or how it works. [Read more…]

Justice Demands You Feel Better

'A Touch of God' by Jaap Joris Vens via Wikimedia CommonsA few words on mental health and the dystopia we’re not in:

I’ve been struggling lately. A huge weight of depression in a kind I thought long gone landed on me a few weeks ago. There was a huge difference from the old bad times, though: now I have tools that I know work to help against this. But for the last few weeks, I have also felt like I shouldn’t use them, like I didn’t deserve to feel better. Didn’t deserve help.

Anyone reading this who doesn’t outright hate me will immediately recognize that as also symptomatic. (Anyone reading this who does… what are you doing here? Get a hobby. Take up the oboe or something, sheesh.) Thing is, that doesn’t matter. It’s as real as anything going on inside anyone’s giant grey walnut can be. If you’ve been through this – in which case, hang in there, I’m sorry you are hurting – you know it can’t be argued away, not directly. Someone says you deserve to feel better, you reply ‘No I don’t and here’s why…’ and it gets more entrenched.

But what if it’s not about you at all? What if it is a matter of justice? [Read more…]