Self Gratification (4)

MAOTE: So... how do you think these 'self gratification' entries have been received so far? They get few if any comments...

ME: Yeah, but the hit counts on the individual pages are about 60% higher than any of my other entries. People are reading them... I suspect certain people are reading them avidly... they're just, for whatever reason, not saying anything back.

MAOTE: And yet, if they do comment and you don't like their comments, you'll just delete them. You've been on a comment deletion spree lately. Do you have an actual policy which guides you, or do you just delete whatever the hell you feel like deleting?

ME: First, there's nothing wrong with deleting whatever the hell you feel like deleting. 'Freedom of speech' doesn't extend into someone else’s living room… or onto someone else’s webpage.

However, I do have a general policy: respect. I'm respectful to other people on their blogs, I expect people to be respectful to me on mine. You can disagree with me, that's fine, as long as you're civil about it. When it starts getting personal, when people start making remarks they clearly intend to be hurtful about my personal life, or when people respond to me in a disrespectful manner that I don't feel I've merited, I don't think their comments merit preservation on my blog. So I'll dump 'em.

MAOTE: That seems gratifyingly subjective...

ME: Service is our byword.

MAOTE: Okay. So tell us about your weekend, so your audience of malevolent lurkers can have a great time bitching at you behind your back.

ME: Thanks, I'd love to. Let's see... well, we didn't do much. We had to give the kids back to their dad on Saturday, which is always a rough time for the two of us. He loves them and does his best to take good care of them, but, you know, we just hate giving them up. After that, we mostly just drove around and didn't do much on Saturday... hit a few stores. Got dinner at a barbecue place. Headed out to see BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, but got sold out, so we wound up sitting through half an hour of THE PRODUCERS before we gave up on that and headed home again. Went back home, rented SERENITY, watched that, went to bed.

MAOTE: THE PRODUCERS was that bad?

ME: It's a Broadway musical someone put a camera on. Nobody bothered to tell any of the undoubtedly talented performers in it that they no longer had to belt it out to the cheap seats, though, so it was very loud and very brassy and, like a lot of beloved Broadway musicals, full of in jokes and odd references that only a crowd of Broadway music lovers is going to appreciate. Plus, Mel Brooks wouldn't know subtle wit if it fell out of the sky and landed on his head. Honestly, when you go to the movies to see a movie and end up seeing a Broadway musical instead, it's a little jarring. Add in Mel Brooks and, well… as I said, we put in half an hour, but then we gave up.

MAOTE: But you just loved SERENITY, I'm sure. It's like, a fanboy's dream.

ME: Well... not so much.

MAOTE: I'm sorry?

ME: I watched one episode of FIREFLY on FOX a couple of years ago and I thought it pretty much sucked. I disliked SERENITY for much the same reason... the science makes no sense.

MAOTE: Well, it's essentially a Western in space...

ME: It's a post Civil War drama, yeah, I get that. I don't care. If you want to do a post Civil War drama where your heroes are all disgruntled former Confederates and the Federal government is an evil dictatorship, by all means, rock on with your bad self. But, you know, Joss wanted cool rocketship special effects and anti gravity and other SF trappings, because he must have figured, back before DEADWOOD came out, that nobody would buy or watch a Western. Plus, jet engines look cool, and he still has all this deleted dialogue from his many drafts of ALIEN: RESURRECTION he wants to use. But if you're going to do science fiction, for god's sake, the science has to at the very least make some kind of coherent internal sense.

MAOTE: So... what didn't make sense? I grant you, the 'we found a different solar system and turned all its worlds into new Earths' is a little shaky...

ME: A little shaky? Holy shit! How many Earth sized planets are there in this goddam new solar system? And yes, they have to be roughly Earth sized, or they won't have anything like Earth normal gravity. And all the worlds in this thing have Earth normal gravity, you know how I can tell? Because everybody moves as if they are under one G, all the time.

MAOTE: Even in space, where, you know, if they’re under acceleration they should all be oriented towards the rear of the ship…

ME: …but they’re not, and they’re never in zero gee, either, so they must have artificial gravity, and yet, they’re still using gunpowder propelled weapons... but nonetheless, again, how many Earth sized planets are there in this new solar system?

MAOTE: Plus, it's not just planetary mass, it's also how hot the sun is, and what distance the planet is from it...

ME: Yes. Human life flourishes in a zone where the ambient temperature fluctuates between the freezing and boiling point of water, mainly because we are largely water based organisms. However hot or cool the sun of this 'new solar system' is, it's going to have a lifebearing zone somewhere around it, and in that orbital path there is only going to be one planet, because that's how solar physics works. There might be two other planets on the far fringes, one towards the sun so it's too hot -- like Venus -- and one further away from the sun, so it's too cold -- like Mars. And it's possible you could terraform Mars and Venus, if you had the resources to spend doing it... and 'resources' included, probably, centuries if not millenia of time. But it's highly unlikely that a technology capable of terraforming Mars and Venus into exact copies of Earth... which is what we see in this idiotic future world... will still be stuck with six shooters.

MAOTE: Okay, but, still… they must have artificial gravity, even if they never allude to it. And while they don’t have FTL drive… although… hmmm… if they got to another solar system, they must have FTL drive… okay, well… still, maybe they got to another solar system by generation ship, or in suspended animation… anyway. They have to have artificial gravity, and they’ve probably got cheap fusion power to run everything… we never see them taking on fuel for the space ship, after all. With cheap power, you can do the rest, right? You could supply artificial heating, or refrigeration, for planets too close or too far away from whatever sun it is they found. And they could set up massive gravity generators to make any adjustments they needed to. They could crack compounds into their component elements and mix any kind of atmosphere they needed…

ME: Yeah, sure, with cheap power you can do anything, eventually. But I don’t believe that a human culture that has this kind of technology would still be running around in rattletrap ROLLING STONES type spaceships wearing six guns on their hips. If you can do anything you want with cheap power, including terraform an entire solar system, you can do other things, too, like create a Dyson sphere, or re-terraform Earth, or terraform our original solar system… but mostly, I just don’t believe that they would have technology that is so widely disparate in functional level. 19th century firearms and 22nd century power generators simply don’t mix. And, I’m still going to ask you… how many goddam planets are there in this new solar system that can be transformed into new Earths?

Leave that aside. How is it that they can send live television signals from planet to planet that allow people to talk to each other instantaneously, in real time? I swear to God, this is STAR TREK level scientific nonsense. I expect better of Joss Whedon.

MAOTE: You’re awful picky. A lot of people felt there was excellent character work, good directing, great dialogue, excellent action…

ME: Fuck a lot of people, and yes, I am awfully picky. Sure, the dialogue was fun to listen to, that’s what Whedon DOES. But for the love of God, if your science can’t make sense, well, could the plot, at least?

MAOTE: Well, I… what was wrong with the plot?

ME: Nearly everything. But let’s just pick one thing at random… these Reaver guys.

MAOTE: The ones who shriek a lot while carrying people off to be tortured and eaten alive and all that stuff?

ME: Yeah, the really terrifying monstrous things that the plucky heroine can kill, like, four hundred of with her bare hands, despite the fact that everyone else in the universe is scared shitless of them. Those guys.

MAOTE: What about them?

ME: Imagine, for a moment, that the entire crew of the Serenity abruptly all become Reavers. At once. Which, you know, isn’t impossible, or anything, given that it was a deliberately induced virus that caused people to suddenly turn into hyperaggressive ultraviolent psychotics. Right?

MAOTE: Okay. Well… um…

ME: Can you imagine them getting the ship to lift off? Can you imagine them flying it? Landing it?

MAOTE: Uh… well…

ME: These guys basically live in space. In space ships. They inhabit the unexplored regions of space, from which they swoop down on unsuspecting planets and carry off supplies… basically, settlers, whom they presumably eat, often while raping them, I gather.

MAOTE: …yeah…

ME: So, leaving aside the problems of flying a fairly complex space craft, landing a fairly complex space craft, and taking off again in a fairly complex space craft once you’ve captured a lot of settlers to eat and torture and rape… I don’t know. So you’re a Reaver and you’re hanging out in the unexplored region of space on your spaceship that is painted bright red and has dead bodies strung from it and abruptly your atmosphere plant stops working. Or the power plant thermo coupling goes off line. So in five minutes or so you and everyone else in your cool Reaver tribe are all going to be dead. So… what do you do?

MAOTE: Um… fix it?

ME: They’re all too busy eating each other’s kidneys! Fix it? They’re using all the tools to torture each other! These guys are basically the zombies from the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake, and they fly space ships? They live in the most hostile environment known to man? In an artificial environment requiring complicated daily maintenance and frequent repair? There’s no way.

MAOTE: Well… yeah… okay… but, still, the rest of the movie…

ME: Oh, please. The good guys have to fly across the solar system to get to the guy who’s going to transmit the damning recording to everyone on every planet, right? Because he has special equipment to do it with, right?


ME: Well, they’re talking to the guy on their weird instantaneous faster than light viewscreen thingie! Why can’t they just transmit the damning recording to him so he can retransmit it? Why do they have to carry the thing there physically? What, he doesn’t have email? He can’t get an attachment?

MAOTE: Uh… well…

ME: And then there’s the ending.

MAOTE: The ending?

ME: Yeah. Where Our Hero, the ex-Confederate who is always whatever the script requires… noble, amoral, competent, a bumbling idiot, whatever… at any given moment… you know, the one who already got his ass kicked once by the black guy with the sword…

MAOTE: The Captain.

ME: Yeah, him. You know what the end of the big fight between him and the cool black guy with the sword reminds me of? Jerry Siegel wrote the worst superhero comics ever back in the 1960s and 1970s for Archie’s Mighty Comics line. There was this one story he did where the Mighty Crusaders were all trapped in like this nuclear reactor core and there was no possible way for them to get out.

MAOTE: I’ve read this one. The Shield says “Say, I’ve never mentioned this before, but I have the power to teleport us all to safety. I can only do it once, though.” And then he does.

ME: Yeah.

MAOTE: But that’s not the same thing…!

ME: Riiiiight. The cool black bad guy does his Vulcan death grip thing, or whatever it is, and we’ve already seen it work once on someone else. But then Our Hero just steps aside and clocks the cool black guy one when he comes charging up, because, you know, he just happened to have had that nerve cluster moved to a different area because of a war injury. “Say,” he says, “I’ve never mentioned this before, but that Vulcan death grip thing won’t work on me, because I had that nerve cluster surgically removed after the war!” Gee. That’s convenient.

MAOTE: Okay, come on, now. Whedon is trying to surprise us. I’ve heard you say a million times, ‘surprising the audience is a good idea’.

ME: Sure, it’s a great idea, but doing it this way is a cheat. You know how to make it legal? Remember that scene where Adam Baldwin is getting all pissy with him about how many people in his company died at Serenity Valley during the war? Put this in afterwards:

COOL BLACK CHICK: You should have told him, Mal. About how you were floating unconscious for two months in a regeneration tank after Serenity Valley. About how you had to have your whole nervous system rebuilt from the ground up.

MAL: It wouldn’t have made any difference, Cool Black Chick. Anyway, the plot didn’t require me to be Needy and Whiney at that point, I was supposed to be Stoic and Bluff.


See? Now it’s perfectly legal. The way Whedon did it, though, he pulls it right out of his ass. No set up, no ground work, no nothing. It’s a cheat. It’s “say, I can teleport us all to safety, but I can only do it once”. It’s really crappy writing.

MAOTE: It’s… dude, you are waaaay too picky. Can’t you ever just relax and enjoy something? I mean, subjected to those kind of standards, there aren’t any good movies!

ME: I own about three hundred good movies, by exactly those standards. And if everyone else in the world bothered to hold the entertainment they pay for to any kind of standards, much less the ones I hold mine to, there would be a lot less crap made. And if a lot less crappy movies and TV were made, well, there would be a lot less crappy movies and TV in the world. I’m sorry, I can’t regard that as a bad thing.

MAOTE: Well… whatever. So what did you and SuperGirlfriend do on Sunday?

ME: Um… lemme think… well, we put a few posters for my RPG up at a couple of gaming shops, I bought a Spider-Woman LE and a couple of boosters of ARMOR WARS…

MAOTE: Get anything good?

ME: A Vet Aurora from one pack, which I didn’t already have. And then I got the House of M Magneto Unique from the other pack, which was pretty cool. Also, I picked up the fourth season of THE SHIELD, and SuperGirlfriend and I have been having fun watching that.

MAOTE: No plot problems there?

ME: How could you tell, with all the frantic camera cutting?

MAOTE: True that.

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