hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
Dear Yuletide Author,

Here's the part I type every year:

I'm pretty much a genfic guy. Light romance is okay, especially if it's funny, but for the most part I'm the farthest thing possible from a relationshipper. I don't want characters to get smooshed together; I want to watch them interact. I'm not a big fan of pure romance, and I really don't want porn. My big thing is that I like seeing the characters relate as friends. This applies even if they're in a romantic relationship -- grand falling-in-love stuff bores me, particularly if it's emotionally fraught, but the quiet day-to-day of characters doing things puts a smile on my face. I love plot, but I definitely don't mind lightly plotted fic if it's fun to read.

These are the fandoms I've requested for this year. )
hradzka: (plane)
I'm going to talk about the Newtown, Connecticut murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School in two posts. This is the first one. In this one, I'll talk about the murders themselves, from a tactical viewpoint. Another time, I'll talk about the things people are proposing we do about them. For now, though, the important thing is to talk about tactics. I write about mass shootings from a tactical standpoint, because that's a crucial operational level for those who, God forbid, find themselves at the scene of a murderous attack.

In the murders at Sandy Hook Elementary, there are two sets of tactics to consider: the attacker's, and the defenders'. I'm going to spend much more time on the latter than on the former. )
hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
Dear Yuletide Writer,

Here's the part I type every year:

I'm pretty much a genfic guy. Light romance is okay, especially if it's funny, but for the most part I'm the farthest thing possible from a relationshipper. I don't want characters to get smooshed together; I want to watch them interact. I'm not a big fan of pure romance, and I really don't want porn. My big thing is that I like seeing the characters relate as friends. This applies even if they're in a romantic relationship -- grand falling-in-love stuff bores me, particularly if it's emotionally fraught, but the quiet day-to-day of characters doing things puts a smile on my face. I love plot, but I definitely don't mind lightly plotted fic if it's fun to read.

These are the fandoms I'm requesting this year: )
hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
I'm still around. Just really busy.

Apparently everybody is on tumblr now? Is that where fandom happens?
hradzka: (solace)
At the midnight premiere of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES in Aurora, Colorado, a theater patron exited the theater through the emergency door and went to his car, where he equipped himself in tactical gear that included a gas mask, helmet, and reportedly body armor. (I have not seen detailed citations on the body armor, though, and would really appreciate a link to manufacturer and level if anyone has one, as well as a transcript of the original source for this particular report. I have seen the receipt for the perp's tac-vest, which cost a hundred and six bucks, wasn't bulletproof, and is of the sort used for carrying mags. I've also seen a picture of what could be a ballistic vest lying on the ground in an AP photograph; if anything, it's probably a IIA, which is the lowest form of body armor, so that might explain why the perp surrendered when cops showed up with rifles -- even a pistol with sufficient velocity would defeat IIA body armor, and the blunt force trauma from being shot by something that couldn't penetrate would be pretty painful. Again, though, I've seen no print confirmation of this anywhere, and it's also possible the perp surrendered just out of curiosity, or in a lucid moment.) The perpetrator launched two gas bombs and then opened fire with a Colt AR-15 that had a 100-round drum mag attached. When the rifle (or, more likely, the drum mag) jammed, he went to other weapons: a .40 Glock and a shotgun. The perpetrator murdered twelve people and wounded fifty-eight.

Read more... )
hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
I did not expect that I would come out of it with the two most interesting characters being Hulk and Black Widow. Black Widow got a lot of action and important stuff to do, but for me the most interesting thing was that the character worked 1) *as a spy* and 2) as a person with believable human reactions. I think there were points where Johansson played it a little too remote, but I liked her performance quite well overall, and I was amazed at how much I liked the friendship between Black Widow and Hawkeye. (It really hit the Modesty-Blaise-and-Willie-Garvin button, which series I have only lately read all the way through and OH MY GOD is it ever awesome.)

And Hulk -- Mild spoilers. )
hradzka: (tony stark)
OK, y'all, here is the situation: 14-year-old girl, longtime friend of the family and of me, is totally into THE AVENGERS and *especially* into Captain America. She likes that he's polite, old-fashioned, and a butt-kicker, and she has apologetically confessed to even liking Cap's hair, which notion she was sure that I would find weird and incomprehensible. She finds Cap inspiring enough to try writing a couple of poems about him. She draws, and has asked me to choose a good picture of Captain America so she can try to draw from it, though she specifically requested that it not be a picture of Cap shirtless.

As you may be able to tell, she's at a point where there are vague stirrings but she is not particularly comfortable with sex. That's all fine. My problem is that she is a 14-year-old girl, and I am a grown-ass man, and Captain America fanfic (like AVENGERS fanfic in general) is full of porn. Even if she were into that, it would be horrifyingly inappropriate for me to send her recs of it (for reference: see again "*14-year-old girl*" and "*grown-ass man*"). The Pit of Voles doesn't stock porn, but the AVENGERS recs I've seen have all been of fic on LJ, DW, or AO3, and I don't have time to weed through the dross at FF.net to find good stories, so that doesn't work. (EDIT: I was considering bowdlerizing a few stories, but no, that really wouldn't work, either. I'm going through AO3 with character and content filters on ATM.)

So I would be very grateful if anyone could please pass on some gen or at least non-pornographic Captain America recs, fanart included.

Also, I'm not as close to her 16-year-old sister (oddly, given that the 16-year-old and I have *remarkably* similar personalities, we mainly communicate through the 14-year-old), but can report that she is into Thor, so if anybody has some extra for Thor that'd be well appreciated too.
hradzka: (wtf)
I've been cautiously curious about ELEMENTARY, the American version of a present-day Sherlock Holmes, starring Johnny Lee Miller as Holmes and Lucy Liu as Watson. I'll watch Liu in almost anything, but my first reaction to her being cast as Watson was that she would make a far better Holmes because Liu is great as chilly, remote, and cruel, but her screen persona doesn't do warm and sympathetic. She's magnetic, and you love *watching* her characters, but you don't love her characters as people very often. But I figured I'd tune in to watch her, anyway.

Then I saw the preview trailer. It's ghastly.

Here it is. Also, comparative BEAUTY AND THE BEAST stills. )
hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
The upcoming interactive web sitcom DIRTY WORK, about three young crime scene cleaners, looks funny and quite well-budgeted. Potentially of interest to folks is that one of the three regulars, Michelle, is a transwoman and is played by a transwoman actress (Jamie Clayton). Not to overshadow the other characters or the rest of the cast, but that's pretty noteworthy; I'm trying to remember the last trans regular character I've seen on any continuing show, and the only one that comes to mind is Officer Brubaker from the 1986 sitcom THE LAST PRECINCT. Brubaker, played by actress Randi Brooks, was a transwoman whose transition was played mainly for awkwardness (she wasn't entirely out to everyone, especially those from her past) and for cheap jokes ("she used to be a guy and now she's A HOT CHICK! That's FUNNY!").

I don't know about the interactive gimmicks they're pushing for DIRTY WORK (this Ain't It Cool article goes into a little detail on that; I'm skeptical on how interesting or how much fun they'll be), but it seems like an offbeat show that's worth a look.

Below the cut, the series trailer and a brief interview with Clayton. )
hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
I've thought for a while that scanty female clothing in comics isn't nearly as much of a problem as the porntastic posing. There are male superheroes who wear scanty clothing, but the way they're posed is athletic or dynamic or casual, whereas the women are invariably lightboxed out of Maxim or some such. (Also, as I've mentioned in a post I can't find now, it's interesting to note that the male characters who go about scantily dressed are monstrous (Hulk, Thing), or they look weirdly alien (Hawkman, Martian Manhunter), or they're from Somewhere Else Where They Dress Funny (Namor, Hawkman sometimes, Thor). I figure that this ties into the cultural issue that women can show more skin in everyday life without getting laughed at than can men, so the "here and now" male characters show little skin compared to the freaky dudes or the dudes from Somewhere Else. Meanwhile, male artists who like hot women amp that up to eleven. It's amazing how much better women were drawn before the sexual revolution.)

I've mentioned on Twitter that if I were a superhero comic artist in search of reference, I would *screencap the shit* out of female athletes at the Olympics. Not just for the different body types and emphasis on athletic over hot, but for the action poses. Case in point: I just ran across this 1988 Steve Landis picture of Florence Griffith Joyner, and I've seen a lot of "women crouched over" drawings in comics, but they invariably tend toward the sexy and FloJo is in a pure action pose. It's a seriously great picture; somebody should photoshop it so she's wearing a Wonder Woman costume.

(This is me passively-aggressively linking it so somebody can do that.)
hradzka: (plane)
Anders Breivik, the Norwegian terrorist who killed 77 people in 2011, has gone on trial. The information that'll come out as the case is presented will be interesting, but at the moment I'm mildly horrified at the ineptitude of the press covering the event. Breivik is a lot of things, but opaque is not one of them; he believes in the virtues of clear communication, particularly as he's seeking to win people to his cause, and he plans his actions very carefully in order to help communicate his messages. Breivik is not a guy who wants to create mysteries and have them figured out. He is, as he described his occupation at the start of trial, a writer, and he follows a writer's maxim: tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em, tell 'em, tell 'em what you told 'em.

For reporters covering him, this is useful. Or it would be, if they bothered to use it.

Read more... )
hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
Oh look, it's an auction of props from CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. You can bid on such items as Steve's draft applications and exam sheet, Howard Stark showgirl costumes, the Camp Lehigh flag, USO girl costumes, Steve's USO cue cards, and one or two of Steve's shields (I picked the untraditional ones, but they have more).

Also, a couple of items from THOR, including Jane Foster's science journal.
hradzka: (plane)
I tend to be very cautious in following the news stories of major shootings, because you have to watch out for 1) information changing and 2) narratives getting locked. The shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman is heading into the narrative lock stage. It's not just our conjectures that crystallize, but the *stories* we believe the event is telling. And Martin's death involves dueling narratives, not just about the meaning of his death, but about the legal circumstances. But the meaning and the circumstances have very little to do with each other at this point, because Trayvon Martin isn't just Trayvon Martin anymore. People aren't just pissed off about his death, they're pissed off over a *lot* of deaths, and about stuff that doesn't just involve death, but being hassled due to walking while black. For the folks who have these stories it's a major point of identification.

The legal issues at hand are 1) the actual shooting and 2) the performance of the police department. This is where the narrative can get thorny. Both legal issues have the same political narrative: Zimmermann is racist. The police department is racist. This conflates the two problems into one, which is compelling, but mechanically and from the POV of our institutions -- and for me, as a civilian with a carry permit -- these are two distinct problems. The Sanford PD has handled the case appallingly, but at the moment the state of Florida and the city of Sanford seem to be responding to the political pressure in appropriate ways, with the appointment of a special prosecutor and a vote of no confidence in the police chief. It is important that the politicos recognize the seriousness of this situation; at the same time, just because the public *thinks* Zimmerman guilty does not automatically mean that he *is,* and not only due to Florida's "stand your ground" law. There was a hell of a compelling narrative in the Duke lacrosse case, after all, and that didn't exactly turn out as everybody thought.

That said, looking at the evidence available, my most charitable assessment of Zimmerman (which is difficult to make) is that he is almost certainly criminally liable. (I will explain the "almost certainly" shortly.) It's surprising he wasn't arrested that night, though the initial police report makes it clear he was cuffed and the case was investigated as potential manslaughter. It's also worth noting that the most damning facts (Martin had left home on a brief errand to get some snacks) didn't come out till later, though they bloody well should have come out that night, because *Martin had his cell phone on him* and the cops still took three inexcusable days to notify his family. To me, that is item number one on the police malfeasance list.

Read more... )
hradzka: (unfair to batgirl)
Managed to hurt back and leg, and got an eye problem requiring medical attention, which put cramp on ability to pack, which meant I had to cancel moving truck, which meant I am not moving stuff down this time, which meant things get delayed, which means I am deeply annoyed.

OTOH, I have enough bills this month that I don't need any more, thanks. So, I saved money on the truck and on loaders to help me. Yay?
hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
And it's interesting. A lot of stuff doesn't work for me, which is okay and was expected, but one reason I asked folks to provide current recs is because I wanted to see to what degree my sense of what fandom was writing was more or less representative. I was surprised to find that it was a lot more representative than I'd expected, in terms of the kind of things folks are writing. I didn't see any *kind* of fiction that struck me as really new. The surprise comes because, in my nineteen-odd years in fandom, I've seen fanfic change quite a bit. When I started, fanfic was mostly gen; you had slash and porn, but it was much less common and was confined to dedicated forums, which was still an increase for that stuff over earlier years. RPF used to be completely anathema, but then became accepted and wildly common (my sense is that it really took off with bandom, because it would be hard to write anything but, but I don't know LOTR fandom at all and I know RPF was *huge* over there, so that might've been where the change occurred -- timelines, anybody?). Fandoms used to start off writing the more gen stuff, and then start to collect more porn and slash as they grew older, whereas now folks come home from the theater and start a kink meme. Fandom used to just write about the pretty white boys, and now fandom still mostly writes about the pretty white boys but there are chromatic challenges and more calls for representation from fans of color. And so on.

Lately, though, I haven't seen fanfic change as much. The change I keep expecting to see is more female-character-focused fic, but while there's been more in recent years it's still lagged behind what I've been thinking I'd see, given feminist fandom's increasing activism. To me, the biggest change in recent years is the increasing prominence of flashfic, with kink memes. But that doesn't seem to have changed the type of things that folks are writing so much as it's changed length. The recent popularity of texting fic is interesting, but I don't know how much of a change it represents. With tumblr, fannish activity has changed -- the popularity of fannish memes is a new kind of fannish activity all its own -- but this still hasn't changed the kinds of stories folks seem to be writing. Fanfic is wildly popular, and it's in more places than ever, but I don't know if it's still changing. Or if it's on a path to being subsumed by something else.

So is fanfiction in stasis? What do y'all think?
hradzka: Crixus, from SPARTACUS: BLOOD AND SAND, labeled "Hello, my name is Crixus. I'm your woobie." (crixus woobie)
So, apparently one of the finalists to become a contestant on the new season of mixed martial arts contest/reality show THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER has starred in hardcore gay pornography.

To the people that know him best, Dakota Cochrane's secret wasn't a secret at all. It's not something he kept from prospective business relationships, either. As his mixed martial arts career took off, his friend Kirk Schuster, who was looking after his career, would often receive phone calls from other management companies about representing Cochrane. They would try to woo Schuster with promises of a UFC contract for Cochrane.

Do me one favor, Schuster would tell them, Google his name and call me back if you're still interested. A return call never came. Not once.

Everyone has a past. But in the testosterone-filled sports world, Cochrane's past proved impossible to outrun. What he describes as a temporary lapse in judgment from his college days continues to revisit him. It did again this week, shortly after FX announced that he had been chosen as one of the 32 finalists that will compete for a chance to be on that network's first season of The Ultimate Fighter. Within 24 hours, the news was all over the MMA blogosphere: while in college, he had participated in gay pornography.


Cochrane says he was gay for pay; he's engaged to be married now and has two children. It remains to be seen what broadcasting network F/X will make of it, or if he'll be chosen to be on the actual show. They have to be nervous about fan reaction, and the attitudes of sponsors and other fighters (former champ Brock Lesnar made some famously nasty anti-gay remarks and stayed top dog until he was revealed to be just a bully who never really learned to take a punch), but comments on the article are surprisingly supportive, and UFC President Dana White has expressed his hope that gay athletes in the organization will come out of the closet. So we'll see what happens.

ETA: via [personal profile] hjcallipygian, my resident MMA guru, some more links on the subject, with commentary from Dana White:

"I'm not out here trying to make something like, 'We're going to make friends with the gay community. We're going to do this and that,'" White said. "It is what it is. The guy was in a gay porn. Whether he's gay or not gay, I don't give a [expletive] one way or the other. I don't give a [expletive]. It doesn't matter. He's a good fighter. He made it into the house on his fighting skills and what he's accomplished."


"Of course I knew. Listen, the kid’s a fighter. He did what he did. He didn’t break any laws, he didn’t do anything illegal. When we do background checks on guys, we look for stuff that’s illegal, we look for criminal stuff, we look for stuff we just don’t like. " (Video)


Finding that stuff doesn't automatically *exclude* anybody, mind. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson lived up to his nickname with a stint that saw him nearly get shot by cops after a mad chase in which he caused a car accident that led a woman to suffer a miscarriage, and he had continuing success in the UFC and a big-budget movie role. But it's interesting to note that being in gay porn doesn't fall under stuff that the UFC "just doesn't like." At least, they don't dislike it *enough.* Interestingly, I just realized that they've canned a number of ring girls when it turned out said ring girls had done porn or naked shoots, though there may have been issues of disclosure there. (A non-UFC promotion, on discovering that its ring girl did porn under another name, essentially responded, "Hey, more power to her! What name was she using again?")
hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
Folks, a request: I am up at Ma's for a few days (Silver Spring, MD) to load up a moving truck with a bunch of my stuff from her house to drive down to NC. Unfortunately, the folks who we thought we had lined up seem to have hit a snag with their schedule and probably won't be available to help load on Saturday. (I've managed to partially herniate a disc and have been forbidden from lifting more than 10 pounds, which is why I need some help.) Anybody in the area have recs/advice? I would totally throw a "help me load the truck" party, but it's not just going to be lots of boxes of books; there'll be some fairly heavy furniture. I don't know where I could get a couple-three folks on short notice though.

Comment below, or drop me a line at my username at gmail. Thanks in advance.

ETA: Movers found! Thanks.
hradzka: Crixus, from SPARTACUS: BLOOD AND SAND, labeled "Hello, my name is Crixus. I'm your woobie." (crixus woobie)
TWILIGHT fanfic author turns to originals, writes BDSM novels that catch fire among Manhattan mommy set.

Michele Yogel devoured all 1,200- plus hot-andheavy pages of the “Fifty Shades” trilogy in less than two weeks.

“I couldn’t put it down,” admits Yogel, 33, who shooed away mom friends at her son’s school pickup because she didn’t want to be distracted from her reading.

“I’d be sitting on my couch at 7 a.m. with my two kids while they’re watching cartoons and drinking milk, and I’d be reading it on the Kindle app on my phone,” she says.

Which wouldn’t be a big deal —except for this Upper East Side mom was engrossed in a triple-X novel about a 27-year-old billionaire, Christian Grey, who seduces college grad Anastasia Steele and trains her to become his submissive sex slave.

“The last book I read was ‘The Help,’ ” says Yogel. “You know ... normal, mainstream stuff.”

“Fifty Shades,” an erotica trilogy dubbed“mommy porn” by some, is rapidly becoming a cult hit among Manhattan women, who are exchanging well-worn paperback copies and excited whispers about the book’s “red room of pain” (a sex playroom) while meeting at Fred’s at Barneys or parent-teacher conference nights at school.

It’s like “Twilight” for the grown-up set. Except, you know, with lots of sex instead of vampires and abstinence.


I cannot decide which of the above sentences is my favorite. (No, actually, I can. But it's not one of those sentences. It's this one, from deeper in the article: "The second and third books explore Grey and Steele’s deepening bond as they find true love outside the constraints of a BDSM contract, with a few plot points like an attempted kidnapping and lots of private-jet travel (don’t fret, the sex barely misses a beat).")

The author, E.L. James, is from the UK, works as a tv executive, and has two teen sons. The books are "Fifty Shades of Grey," "Fifty Shades Darker," and "Fifty Shades Freed;" they're published as e-books and print on demand by what the article describes as "a small Australian publishing house." Has anybody optioned "The Captive Prince" yet?
hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
Earlier, I talked about the Bullshit Reversal (better known as Refusing the Call). This occurs when the hero is presented with the opportunity to do what we know he's going to do because we bought our ticket to see him do it, except the hero initially says no and a variable amount of additional dialogue is required to talk him into it.

I hate the Bullshit Reversal for two reasons: first, it's a waste of time. Of course the hero is going to do the thing he initially refuses to do: the audience wants the hero to do it, and has tuned in based on the ads trumpeting the hero's doing of that very thing. The second, deeper, reason is that characters are defined by their choices. Thus, as a general principle, it is more interesting to see people doing things that they choose to do, things they *want* to do. You learn a lot more about the character that way. The Bullshit Reversal is bullshit because it is a falsification of two choices. For a Bullshit Reversal to be not bullshit, the hero has to have a good reason to initially refuse. A good, strong reason, not just "I don't wanna." The hero then has to have an even *better* reason to reverse this decision. The best Bullshit Reversal I have ever seen, one of the few that actually works, is in LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. This is it: )
hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
Ganked from everybody:

I was thinking you should tell me about stories you think I should write. I mean, if you could sit me down for a day or whatever and say, "I want you to write this story for me," what would that story be?

I'm not actually promising to *write* any of these, mind you, but it's fun anyway. And who knows if I'll be inspired!


I have multiple original stories and a fic on the burner. So, I almost certainly won't write anything suggested, but it'd be fun to see what folks want!

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hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
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YOU NEED A BOOK

A POEM EVERY DAY

The collected poems from my descent into madness year spent writing daily poems are now available from Lulu as the cheapest 330-page book they would let me make ($16.20). If that's too pricey, you can also get it from Lulu as a free download, or just click on the "a poem every day" tag to read them here. But if you did buy one, that'd be awesome.

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