“Logan” is the best X-Men film yet, but that isn’t saying much.

“Logan” having an ‘R’ rating seems more a reaction to the success of “Deadpool” now than anything and that kind of highlights my issue with the movie. It’s not a bad movie by any stretch and it’s probably the clearest vision that anything super hero related and made by Fox has had besides “Deadpool”.

Them not really doing anything with the ‘R’ rating besides blood and gore and cursing is kind of what I expected. I honestly thought the cursing crossed over into silliness at times. There was no need for some silly sex scene in these movies and I’m glad they never went that route. There’s some nice hints about the future world “Logan” occupies. 2029 isn’t too far fetched, but it’s also just different enough. Things feel more lawless.

In the past I’ve said that it might be a strength that the mutants of Marvel have been kept away from the rest of the universe. There’s such a diverse and large number of characters from the X-Men books that they can support their entire own reality filled with super heroes in a world where genetic mutation gives someone control over the weather or portals in their eyes leading to a dimension filled with beams of concussive force.

For the first time that separation from actual Marvel hurt this movie. The world felt smaller when just mutants had been in it than the one in the Old Man Logan book. A lot of the references to Spider-Man or the parts with an older more grizzled Hawkeye would have been awesome to see, but Fox doesn’t have those properties and really it’s no one’s fault but their own. Fox is the one keeping themselves from a Sony like deal with Marvel and Disney and a chance to basically print money.

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And these things might not seem like they affect the movie, but they really do. The movie is technically good and there’s a real emotional center to all of it, but it feels weaker because they had to lean on the X-23 storyline and only on the X-Men storyline in general. When I heard they were doing an Old Man Logan style story I got really excited, but then got really sad that we couldn’t see a lot of the wonderful things.

This is one of those case where a movie really didn’t suck by any stretch and was a good watch, but it feels like it wasn’t as good as everyone has been saying it is. Honestly the X-Men series has been so wishy washy that anything this tightly plotted and competently written looks like the fucking “Magnificent Ambersons”.

Don’t think that I’m telling you to stay home or this isn’t worth it, I’m just saying not to get your hopes up too high. It’s a good movie, but it’s not surprising. X-Men had the potential to be at this level for a long time and we have Fox to thank for it not being that way.

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“Get Out” Reviewed

This is spoilers light if there’s any at all. I’m mostly going to discuss my feelings about the film, the movie going experience, and the subject matter as it relates to me.

Let me pain the picture: I am running late getting my ticket because it’s raining and the only reliably fun thing to do in this city when it rains is watch a movie. San Antonio is a city built for the outdoors. The Riverwalk, outdoor malls, the downtown market area, Mexican restaurants with patio seating…

It’s our bread and butter. Even then I thought that the crowds would be seeing Logan on it’s opening weekend, but no my theater was almost sold out. I bought one of the last four seats.

Given the obvious racial overtones of the movie I expected it to be mostly black and Hispanic, but the movie was mostly a white audience. I set next to a guy who was about as good ol country boy as they come and his black girlfriend. It was a strange feeling and with the anxiety creeping back in lately I didn’t want to be in a theater full of people to begin with.

I stuck it out and the first thing I will say about this movie directly is that it’s a strange feeling to have your experiences translated to the screen in such a relatable manner. Black people and white people may work in the same buildings and share the same streets and businesses or even neighborhoods, but there’s a certain level of segregation that goes on even today. This creates situations where people don’t know how to act around other races in casual settings. It’s not always the case, but it happens.

And if you’re the only black person at a party or function you can feel like you’re on display. If you’re dating a white woman (or really any woman of another race) it’s a conversation that might come up before you meet their family or friends: “Do they know I’m black?”

Sure, the most organic way to bring this up would be a picture of the two of you. But when you open the door and let it be known you’re dating outside your race you open the door to strange shit. People warning you of things to look out for and offering up all kinds of advice that you honestly didn’t ask for.

Another strange thing that happens sometimes when you’re black around a group of white people who aren’t used to it is they’ll bend over backwards to try and prove how not racist they are. They’d vote for Obama for a third term if they could. They’re jealous of how powerful and beautiful Serena Williams is. Then they’re name dropping black artists or actors or telling you how  articulate you are.

These things aren’t malicious, at least not in the sense of intention, but they still make you feel bad and uncomfortable. They still make you feel like you don’t belong.

“Get Out” frames all of this in that sense. You feel Chris’s status as an outsider from the moment that he arrives. You have to sit through the award dinner conversation about the athleticism of the black body or hear someone wax on about how their father did so much to help blacks in the past.

And that’s the thing, in the later stages “Get Out” makes a great little bit of horror, but the early part of the film sets up the feeling of alienation and it’s shocking how well it’s done and how you could feel the dread in the entire audience.

Movies like this are important. I told a friend over the phone that I had seen movies about racism from a black perspective before  and I had seen black genre movies before, but the two are usually separate. Anything about racism is set in a historical context of slavery or some overwhelming sense of self-determination to overcome adversity. They’re never just set in just suburbia and the few that might be out there weren’t this well polished.

Media plays an important part in normalizing behavior and what people expect. There’s a lot of important stories out there that need to be told. Last year when Donald Glover’s new show “Atlanta” was set to premier he said that he had hired all black writers for the show because there was more to the black experience in America than most people had ever seen on television and that it might surprise people. I don’t know if you have to separate out the writers, but you have to be willing to listen to the experience of others and take them as valid.

And I’d say with the clapping at the end of this movie people did just that.

Outline Time

I’ve always considered outlines to be kind of artificial.

There was this glorious, wondrous idea in my head of what a real writer should be and how they should strive to preserve their vision in its purest form. It sounds like some kind of romantic period ideal when I write it out like that, but I felt that outlines boxed a writer into a set of events that might need to be changed to better fit the story.

They weren’t something bad writers did as much as they were cheating, at least in my mind.

Now without much development on the writing front I’ve started to watch a lot of videos and read a lot about other writer’s methods and Jenna Moreci said something in one of her videos that stuck with me: writer’s that outline should plan their story back to front. Start with the ending and you’ll know what leads to where. If you work on the characters in conjunction with the actual outline there’ll be less chance of you needed to make up stuff on the fly when you’re actually writing and less chance of writer’s block.

My ending is something that’s worried me. I’ve never been good at endings, though when I come up with something it fits so well. Problem is that I go back and edit all over the place to shape the story around it.

How much editing do I do? Well, my last completed novel ended up shedding three whole chapters when I went back and edited. I read three whole chapters and realized that the problem created and solved in the space of thirty double-spaced pages could be dropped with no consequence to the rest of the book.

That’s exactly the kind of thing that an outline would protect against.

The problem becomes how to even do an outline. I have bits of a story written, some of it out of order and all of it related. I need to outline the parts in between and see what still needs to stay. Outlines are something I never learned to do because even in school the teachers realized that I could keep my ideas straight and in order for five to twenty pages, but when we’re talking about two to three hundred pages things get a little harder.

So this is where we are: I have to learn how to construct an outline and plan a concrete ending. I have the idea of an ending, but I need something thematically fitting and something the events around my story build to. If I find that the events I have planned out or written out don’t fit that theme I have to cut them or repurpose them for a later project.

It’s time to get brutal with it and stop letting “I can’t” be an excuse. I would suggest that anyone who hasn’t checked her out, give Jenna Moreci a glance. Also, if you do outline any tips are welcome.

It’s Time to Stop Ignoring Our Problems

San Antonio can’t seem to decide what season it is. At a time when we should be feeling the first bits of Spring it feels like late October. The birds came back seemingly too early and people are wearing gloves, knitted caps, and long jackets.

Central and South Texas are a little dramatic when it comes to the cold and we really didn’t have time to adjust to any one kind of temperature this year. The thermostat has been all over the place–we saw the nineties in February and then that same week saw it dip into the forties. It’s inconsistent and frustrating.

And it seems to me that anyone watching would immediately see this as a sign that something is changing. People love to say it’s the volatile Texas weather, but it didn’t used to be. From about 2005 until 2013 it basically didn’t rain in this city and when I lived here last time in the early 2000s it was warm and dry or cool and dry most of the year. I remember seeing a heavy severe rain once. This past six months we’ve had very rain, hail and tornadoes.

I remember that this city seemed to have the most stagnant, predictable weather and now it doesn’t. We see unseasonable rain in California and an Oklahoma so dry the ground burns and more of those so called ‘one hundred year floods’.

Climate change used to seem like the kind of thing that we needed to study more, to me at least. I was skeptical of it, though I’m not a scientist by any stretch. Now we can see the changes and it’s probably too late or almost too late to really do anything but lessen the extent of the long term damage.

You can say that the whole climate change thing is cooked up by the Chinese or made up to make some money for the ‘clean energy industry’, but one of those doesn’t make sense and the other ignores that more powerful industries stand to benefit from lying about clean energy. We saw claims that the Prius was more harmful to the environment than a Hummer even though there’s no real source of that proof besides a right leaning British newspaper. There are the claims that there’s such a thing as clean coal, when we shouldn’t even be looking at something as primitive as coal when we have the sun and the wind. And there was some advertisement that the sun could go out or the wind could stop…well if that happens we’re all fucked anyway.

All you need to know is it was in the sixties in Antartica and it’s still technically Winter. You can’t make that shit up.

 

Pornography is Media too and it doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

A woman who has her reputation built in the pornography and sex industry has come out in support some troubling things. Jenna Jameson, who had earlier backed Trump, defended the KKK and spoke out about the “Muslim rape gangs overrunning Sweden” on Twitter.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with selling sex, pornography, or even prostitution in theory–but there seems to be a long history of people exploiting women rather than empowering them in these industries and in the case of porn, there’s a long history of racism, in fact there’s enough of it that it’s probably the only thing you can Google with the word “porn” in it and not find actual porn on the first page. Here’s another link for the sake of having it here.

 

No one should be saying that she doesn’t have the right to an opinion. I don’t believe in the argument against celebrities stepping into the limelight to voice their problem with something in the country. After all, they’re citizens the same way we are, the things that plague our country affect them and their children and families.

The issue I have with this is it all seems kind of odd what she’s defending. The KKK, the extremist wings of the Christian Right, the Alt-Right and their band of Neo-Nazis propped up by the likes of Breitbart are the same people who claim women don’t have a voice or claim that women are worthless. Remember that there was some claim that women voting was part of the problem when it looked to most people like Trump was going to lose.

I don’t think that it’s a hard line connecting the racism of the sex industry with the racism of one of it’s workers. Every person in an organization doesn’t have to subscribe to the tenants of where they work. But doesn’t it feel odd that one of the favorite insults of the Alt-Right Gamer Gate types has it’s roots in porn where a white man watches as his wife is taken and used by a black man (we’re talking about the word “cuck” here)? Doesn’t it feel like something is up when the men who label porn online can’t seem to stop referring to the women as sluts, whores, cunts, or whatever else long enough to write a title?

We talk about attitudes about race being affected by the entertainment we intake. Minorities being normalized by appearing in normal roles in television shows and movies and books. Movies still get blasted when they change the race of a character in a way that might be perceived as more “PC” or even when roles are written from scratch and cast with minorities in mind.

These things aren’t brought up in reference to pornography though. The advent of the internet brought with it the unexpected golden age of porn. Where someone fifteen years older than me grew up hiding crinkled images stolen from an old magazine in a lock box a teen in the early 2000s  could find a treasure trove of pictures just by typing a misspelled “pussie” into his search bar. There is already talk about what that does to a kid sexually, but what about what it adds to their view of other races and sex?

Look at the front page of a porn site’s long list of categories. Click through some even. It’s hard to find a video of someone black having sex where their blackness isn’t what the video uses as a selling point. The same can be said about other types of people too. Everyone is broken down by category. Blondes. Redheads. Chubby. MILF. But finding a black couple is like finding a four leafed clover and when your view of sex and relationships is shaped partially by porn from a young age (which it shouldn’t be in the first place) everything in porn is telling you “these people aren’t the norm”.

Now, does this shit doesn’t really matter? The good porn is on Tumblr or Reddit anyway and it’s made by regular people who are brave enough to put themselves out there, not an industry that’s breaking everyone down into categories…but then what about this generation? The one right now. People younger than thirty-five and in middle-class America grew up on this. Shaved genitals have become such a big thing that crabs are almost gone and that came about around the time the internet showed us that women are supposed to look like Barbie Dolls down there. Porn might even be changing how we feel about sex.

If it can do all that, why would we say it can’t have an affect on the kind of couples we see as normal? Why does it matter that a woman with more than 35 Adult Video Awards to her name is saying racist shit on Twitter? We don’t exist in a vacuum and, like it or not, the things we intake do have some effect on us. Did porn make Jenna Jameson racist? I can’t say one way or another. But being told that you’re more valuable than someone as a performer because of their color of your skin seems like it is the kind of thing that might start to sink in after a while.

Bitter Boy Zoo Round Up Shenanigans

I’ve expressed before that I’m simply obsessed with any place that incels gather on the internet. For the uninitiated: an incel is short for involuntary celibate. These are generally men between the ages of sixteen and death that think they are so deformed that no one will sleep with them. Most of the ones I’ve come across have some sort of body dysmorphia because they’ve shared pictures of themselves and they look normal.

Their real problem stems from being so sure that society owes them sexual relationships that they do things like propose the idea that women convicted of crimes should be forces to have sex with them or sing the praises of women below the legal age of consent (because those women are generally too young to know what a sociopath looks like).

The shooter from a few years ago, Elliot Rodger, (I know I have to name them since it can be hard to keep up when these things seem to happen once a week) claimed to be incel in the manifesto that he wrote. Though he seems to be outside of the norm. Most of these guys are too afraid of social interaction to actually hurt anyone. They use words like “normies” or “chads” to describe the rest of us and make it a point to reject the ideas put forth by society that say personality does matter when looking for a mate.

This is, of course, why they fail. They tend to be horrible people with annoying attitudes and no real hobbies besides bitching about not being able to get their dicks wet. They will claim that it’s about more than sex only to turn around and make it all about sex. And while I’m painting them with a pretty wide brush, the ones that are simply unlucky seem to stay away from these guys.

They are pretty fascinating and I fully expect there to be some indie-style documentary on Netflix in the next few year shot by an ambitious twenty-something that plays on the sympathy of their situation.

I’d watch it.

I started this new writing project years ago I didn’t have the direction that I needed to nail down all of the idea. The protagonist was a recently murdered girl who wakes up to find herself unable to remember why she was murdered, who did it, or even who she was. She would learn over time that she was in fact still dead, but somehow also alive, and that she had family and friends who she would need to help solve that murder.

In the course of making the characters for this book I made up a boyfriend who she really didn’t know anymore. The book morphed and morphed again over the years with the character keeping her name, but that’s about it. And when the other characters changed too, the boyfriend slowly became a love interest that she wasn’t into, and more recently became the “where’s my hug” guy that befriends a high school girl that isn’t into him in the hopes of forcing her hand.

That’s where this whole incel thing started. I heard the term used to describe Rodger and realized that the term fit what I was talking about. I stalked their communities to see what they talked about and how they spoke. I won’t be dropping words like KLV (Kissless Virgin) in my story, but I wanted to immerse myself in that world so that I could understand where they were coming from.

Also, I’ve got a really bad morbid curiosity thing going. A few years ago I saw one thing on Purity Balls and basically read every scrap of article I could find on the subject and sat through a few documentaries.

So why this title and what is this blog entry about? Well, I started calling the section of Reddit where these types hang out my “bitter boy zoo”. It seemed appropriate and festive. This is me talking about a research method and taking the “long way ’round”. Research isn’t just skimming a Wikipedia page, but at the same time not everything that you find out has to be put down on the page.

Holding Me Back

So it seemed right when I was determined to get back into writing and putting some real words on the page that my computer started to have a problem. At first I thought it was the graphics card or the power supply, but it just started to be some problem with it  in the sense that something was wrong with how it reacted to certain things. I would open my web browser and the monitor would go off as if I had put the whole computer to sleep.

I could hold the power button on the actual computer to reset it, but before I did that it seemed to be running as normal over there. When I did restart it the computer would come back up with the scan disk application saying that I had improperly restarted.

The computer I had was bought right before Barack Obama was elected the first time. I’ve had a relatively long life span out of most of my Windows computers (one laptop was stolen from me about a week after I purchased it, but that doesn’t count). I wanted to try something different, but not sink a shit-ton of money I don’t have into it.

So when things started to go south I looked into options for buying a Mac. I don’t game, I don’t really do much outside of typing, Lightroom, and Photoshop–so this isn’t one of those things where people can warn me about the drawbacks. I know the drawbacks. I haven’t particularly been much for PC gaming at any point in my life and, besides League of Legends and Sims, I’ve never really played anything on the computer.

Getting the computer here was a fucking nightmare. UPS couldn’t have been less helpful if they had shipped me a box of pissed off hornets, because at least then they would have actually shipped me something. All in all I picked my package up earlier today and I know I need to set goals for myself with writing and with photography and all of the other things I’ve been meaning to do, but haven’t.

Procrastination is easy and excuses are really plentiful, but the fact of the matter is that I haven’t put in the work the way I should have and that’s my own fault (I could have written on the iPad even when the computer was gone). The big thing holding me back is that I’m just not writing and that has to stop.

Facebook Friends

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The word “friends” takes on a strange connotation on Facebook. Currently I have two hundred seventy-seven friends, which is down about thirty from earlier this year. At the height of my friend-getting I think that I had around five or six hundred. There was a point several years ago where having a lot of friends on Facebook seemed like something of an accomplishment or, at the very least, something to be aspired to.

Over the years I’ve been battered down by conspiracy theories, begging for attention, and strange political views that I’ve come to realize less is more on Facebook. All of those people who complain about what the site has become don’t realize that’s in part to the people and likes on their Facebook list. Those things decide what Facebook is for you.

About a year and a half ago a friend of mine hid most of the people on his friends list from actually appearing on his wall unless they mentioned him and the results were astounding. He was interacting with people he actually wanted to interact with–Facebook has become a lot like the Game of Thrones for some of us: we’re forced to keep up these relationships for the sake of appearances, etiquette, satisfying old debts, or because of family ties. I don’t think I know anyone with a Facebook friends list that’s one hundred percent what they want it to be.

We can trim parts off, but a lot of it is inconsequential. There’s always that uncle that you really can’t get rid of without catching flack from family. Or that ex-co-worker who seems to magically post on your wall every time you come home looking to delete them. Or that girl who posts crazy stuff, but that will often times post a really cute picture…

I bit the bullet and deleted some people right before the election. Not just because of differing opinions, but because I didn’t like the idea of someone threatening shooting sprees if their candidate lost or that was really enthused about “pussy grabbin'”. Since two of these people in particular have tried to add me back, but what is it you really want? We don’t actually talk, that’s why the decision to get rid of you was extra easy, and we aren’t particularly friends either.

Look, I’m not saying that you have to agree with your friends about everything, but I am saying that no one should be forced to be friends that’s past the age of, like, five. We can like who we like and not deal with others. That goes for family too. And if you live your life without subjecting yourself to people who you really don’t want to, maybe things will be a little better for all of us.

Post Election 2016

I had this brilliant post all figured out and then the election went and happened. I was going to ignore the whole thing regardless of who won, because before the whole thing was finished I hadn’t really considered the whole of what a Trump presidency meant.

I’ve been scared for a while that he’d win and despite the fact that everyone around me was telling me that it was impossible that someone like him could win–I’m not going to do the whole blame thing, though I think there’s a lot of it to go around (most of it resting squarely on the uneducated rural masses that seem to think a New York billionaire who’s never given a shit about them gives a shit about them), but I am going to say that the one thing that I’m tired of hearing is that people out there need to stop protesting.

I lived through eight years of President Obama being protested against about all the awful things that he was going to do that he has yet to do. Considering he’s only got a few weeks left in office I think we’re not going to see any of that shit.

People are scared that their rights to marry who they want, their right to control their reproductive freedom, their right to be who they are might be stripped away from them. Those are all very scary things that I guess wouldn’t matter if you’re straight and a guy.

It’s you’re right to protest and it’s your right to be scared. There’s good reason to be scared of a man who called a climate change “a Chinese hoax” while a good section of the part of the country that voted for him is burning in the middle of fucking November. And I haven’t even mentioned the whole racism thing. The country has been ablaze with racism. Someone posted racist bullshit on the wall at a college right north of me.

I don’t really think that Trump invented racism. I don’t think that’s even possible to claim that. I don’t even think he stirred it all up. A good section of the GOP did that, the online white nationalist presence in this country has been on fire online; Trump didn’t put them there. Trump even claimed not to know or like them. But they have been emboldened by all of this and that’s a genie that won’t be put back in the bottle easily.

Now, on a positive note, Trump has walked back like half of the shit he said already. So to any who voted to him on “policy” it looks like you shouldn’t get your hopes up.

 

Belonging 

I went out to see Doctor Strange on Thursday night. It was supposed to be the highlight of my day. I’ve been counting down the days over the last month. There’s a tiny theater connected to my neighborhood. It also happens to be in the same building as my favorite comic book store. I’m in the place about once a week and people know me and I know the area. 

The movie had been moved to a new auditorium and was starting late, but by the time I stopped bullshitting with the guys in the comic book store I was coming into the theater after most people had taken their seats. A woman pointed to the area where my seat was and I walked down the front part of he aisle (our theater has wide aisles in front of the seats for waiters to pass along without disturbing the viewers). The seat numbering seemed off and the seats in the area where the employee had pointed me to were filled. I was in seat 13 of the row I was on and I saw a seat marked 513 and assumed it was that one. 

Suddenly a bearded man around my age or a little younger stands up from a seat a little to my right and asks “Are you sure you’re in the right theater?” He doesn’t come toward me or really move except to point. “They’re playing the Madea movie in another one.”

Oh, I get it now. That’s very clever. Black people, as we know, would only come to the theater to see the latest Madea movie or tales of triumph set during slave times. I wasn’t sure if he was going to tell me how brace I was next. It was raining, after all, and we know the blacks can’t swim. 

He laughed after that and sat back down. I figured out my error a few seconds after ignoring him. There was a second set of white painted numbers on the bottom of the upturned seats. I found my chair near the middle of the row buffeted by a man playing on his phone and a man who would continually talk to himself and push down on the empty seat between us hitting me in the leg. 

The movie was really good and I was thrilled to see it. Did the small interaction at the start ruin it for me? No. I’ve had worse said about me, although I really hate Tyler Perry movies, so this is an insult on two levels. There’s not a moral to this story unless it’s this: these kinds of things happen. I went into public to enjoy a movie and a stranger made a racist joke. I’m minding my own business and it doesn’t matter. People feel the need  to comment on my race. I’m sure if asked this guy would be one of the ones who “has black friends” and “doesn’t see race”. 

Yeah, sure.