Monday, February 8, 2016

This is a Post About Race (Not McCloud. The OTHER Type of Race)

When a person of color tells me the story of their cultural experience, whether or not they are painting an ugly image of those who share my whiteness (which is a word I use for lack of a better term), I listen. I have to, because I am American, and if you are American you have to realize, like it our not, that our nation was quite literally built on a foundation of institutionalized racism. This is a factual, historical reality. It is America's permanent black eye. Racial segregation lies in our nation's DNA and the active awareness of that ugly truth, learned through the stories told by those who have suffered it, should always be at the forefront of our national consciousness.

But when another white person wants to yell at me that I don't "get it" ("it" being some ill-defined aspect of the African-American experience) because I'm not black, here's what I want most to say to them: Guess what? NEITHER ARE YOU. And no matter how much you proclaim that you DO get it... you really don't. And neither do I. And we never will. Because we're not black.

The difference between you (the hypothetical holier-than-thou white person) and I seems to be this: I'm fully aware of the limitations my ethnicity imposes upon my perception of the very race-particular struggles undertaken by all American people of color. You, on the other hand, seem to perceive yourself as all-knowing in regards to issues with which you can not possibly have personal experience.

While I always hesitate to speak for anyone else, I'm reasonably certain the African-American community neither needs nor wants you to ride in on your white horse and speak for them with the presumption that other whites won't listen to THEM, but will only listen to YOU. And I can, again, only speak definitively for myself, but other white people screaming about how great they are because THEY ARE THE ONLY WHITEZ WHO REALLY, REALLY UNDERSTAND BLACK PEOPLE... these people come across as perhaps the most clueless lot of all.

The African-American community has for at least half a century spoken loudly and proudly for themselves. They certainly don't suddenly need YOU in all your glorious whiteness to do it for them. 

Frankly, you probably owe them an apology.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Self-Promotion Time

Just for a moment, let me plug my own stuff. THE UNLIKELY ADVENTURES OF RACE & COOKIE McCLOUD (Volume 1) is on sale right now, both in serialized & one-volume form, on my Amazon Author's Page. If you like STAR WARS, or video games, or the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or a bunch of other stuff) I'm pretty sure you'll like Race and Cookie and company. This ends this instance of self-promotion. More to come.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

20 Unpopular Opinions About STAR WARS

There will be no popular opinions in this post, so I left out the obvious: "EMPIRE is the best one, ATTACK OF THE CLONES is the worst one, and THE FORCE AWAKENS is awesome," etc., etc. Instead, I'm sharing some of my very own legitimate sure-to-be-UNpopular opinions about STAR WARS. Here we go:
  1. THE PHANTOM MENACE works. It's well-paced and fun, and does its job as the opening chapter in the story of the rise of Darth Vader and the fall of the Jedi Order.
  2. Jar Jar Binks is nowhere near as bad a character as the reputation he's garnered, and he's far from the worst thing in THE PHANTOM MENACE (that would be Anakin's friends.)
  3. Though the dialogue in them tends to be stiff, the prequels are exceptionally well plotted. The fall of the Jedi is particularly well executed.
  4. The Ewoks are the key figures that turn the tide in the Galactic Civil War of the classic trilogy, which may be the dumbest thing in the whole saga.
  5. Vader's REVENGE OF THE SITH "Noooooo!!!" isn't as bad as Luke's EMPIRE STRIKES BACK "That's not true! That's impossible!"
  6. Pod racing is cool.
  7. There are four elements in the final battle of THE PHANTOM MENACE. Three of those are done well: the Darth Maul/Obi-Wan/Qui-Gonn fight, Padme and Panaka re-taking the palace, and Anakin and the Naboo fighter pilots destroying the control ship. (The Gungan/droid battle is crap, though.)
  8. ATTACK OF THE CLONES is easily the worst of the seven films, but parts of it work: Obi-Wan and Anakin chasing the assassin through Coruscant, Anakin and Padme's return to Tatooine, the arena battle, and the three Jedi vs. Darth Tyrannus.
  9. Luke trains to be a Jedi in the amount of time it takes the Millenium Falcon to fly from Hoth to Bespin? Either that's way too long (crawling along at sublight speed) or way too short (it seems like Han, Leia, Chewie, and Threepio were aboard the Falcon for, like, a day, tops.)
  10. The galaxy of the prequels is a far more interesting (and larger) place than the galaxy of the other four movies. (Can we get a shot of ONE everyday civilian in Episodes 5-7?) Only in the prequels does the galaxy consist of anything more than soldiers, Jedi, and backwater desert towns. Every piece of CGI that has been inserted into the films over the years to make the galaxy seem a bigger place (the celebrations across the galaxy at the end of JEDI, the open windows on Bespin in EMPIRE, etc.) is a good thing. And while we're on that subject...
  11. ... the tweaks and changes and additions made to the films over the years are more good than bad. Examples: the CGI sandcrawler and the recreated shots in the final X-Wing battle in A NEW HOPE, and the beak and tentacles on the sarlacc in JEDI. Even inserting Hayden Christensen as a Force ghost at the end of JEDI was the right way to go. Hell, if it had been me, I'd've considered replacing Alec Guiness with Ewan McGregor.
  12. That line about sand isn't that bad. Anakin probably WOULD hate sand.
  13. Ewan McGregor and Ian McDiarmid are as good in the prequel trilogy as any actor is in the classic trilogy.
  14. Get off Jake Lloyd and Hayden Christensen's backs; they weren't as bad as everyone says they were. Natalie Portman, on the other hand, gave the worst performance by a principal actor in the entire saga. (The worst performance overall was the guy who was incredulous at the idea that two ships could go up against a Star Destroyer.)
  15. John Williams really phoned it in on ATTACK OF THE CLONES.
  16. The main reason so many people hated the prequels is because they had almost 16 years to write that story in their minds, and when the films that were made were inevitably different from what they had imagined, they flipped.
  17. THE FORCE AWAKENS forgets to explain the relationship between the Resistance and the Republic and the First Order, and big chunks of the climactic battle feel empty for it.
  18. The third act of REVENGE OF THE SITH (beginning with Mace Windu vs. Palpatine) is tied with the third act of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (beginning with Lando's betrayal in Cloud City) for the best third act in the series.
  19. Boba Fett is overrated.
  20. AT-ATs and AT-ST's are stupid.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Star Wars: Episode 8 Prediction (Spoilerz)

My one big prediction from THE FORCE AWAKENS turned out to be right: 

(Space here to allow you to run away from spoilers.)

As I predicted, Kylo Ren is indeed Luke's fallen student (the rest of his identity I never touched upon). So while I'm on a roll, I'm going to make my big Episode 8 (or 9) prediction right... NOW.

Rey. She's not a Solo, she's not a Skywalker, she's not even an Organa.

She's a Kenobi. 

All other clues are intentional misdirections. But she shows a natural proclivity for Obi-Wan's signature move (the Jedi mind trick), and while the lightsaber that calls out to her IS formerly Anakin's, then Luke's... who is it who actually had possession of it for the longest amount of time?

That's right. Old Ben. 

Besides, Luke's teacher was Obi-Wan, and now Luke is going to become the teacher for Obi-Wan's progeny (twice removed; she's likely a granddaughter)? That's some "student becomes the master" symmetry that STAR WARS loves. 

So remember, when I turn out to be right, you heard it here first. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Review!

So RACE & COOKIE VOL. 1 got a really nice review from the good people over at ComiConverse.com. You can check it out here: http://comiconverse.com/review-unlikely-adventures-race-cookie-mccloud-6868

NOW GO BUY THE BOOK! AGGGGGH!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Star-Crossed

A long time ago in a far away
Galaxy lived a father and son who
Star-crossed destiny would turn two sides of
The same coin, one light and one dark, balance
Destroyed and knit anew again by way
Of sacrifice, war, and a world dealt death.

The son saved at his father’s final breath
From a master of evil who astray
Led a universe of sheep, turned askance
At peace by way of false war, the eyes of
The father clouded ‘til pangs of a new
Found paternity arose dawn’s new day.

Truth, though? The son’s strength came from the daughter;
Dad died when he damned sister Skywalker.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

A McCloud & McCloud Case File - 37 Shades of Puce

Some stories of Race and Cookie McCloud really have no place in an all-ages adventure comedy book for sale on Amazon-dot-com, and yet deserve to find a home elsewhere.
Welcome home.”
*
He scoured he halls of the palatial seaside manse, room after room after room... empty. The guy isn't here, he thought to himself. He just isn't here.
Climbing up yet another embankment of long, winding stairs, Race found himself standing before a pair of grand white double doors. He reached out and turned both knobs at once, swinging the doors outward, and stepped into a master bedroom suite. The walls were white, and the furnishing was pale blue. The enormous bed was ultra modern, made of rough, grey wood, like driftwood, four posts, but no canopy. On the wall above it was a stunning portrait of the sea.
In the middle of the floor, moaning and rocking back and forth with pain, lay their quarry. Standing above the broken man was the source of his pain, Race's partner and fifteen-year-old niece, Cookie McCloud. Cookie was holding a garden shovel, the big metal type one would use to move heavy rocks or large piles of dirt. She had the shovel gripped firmly in both hands and was using the flat of it to whack the man on the floor over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Hard. Very, very hard.
(Narrator's Note: “Seeing as Cookie McCloud finds herself in possession of any number of impressive super powers, her 'very, very hard' is much harder than your 'very, very hard.' Worth noting.”)
“Cook, what the hell are you doing?!” Race rushed across the room to snatch the shovel from Cookie's grip. He knew full well she could snatch it right back and break it over his face if she wanted, but she didn't seem angered by his actions. She seemed surprised.
“What's the matter?” she asked, a quizzical expression on her face.
“What's the matter?” Race echoed, pointing at the beaten, bloody mess quivering in front of him. “We were hired to find the guy, not to beat him with a shovel!”
Cookie frowned. “Well, yeah, sure, but I figured under the circumstances --”
“Under the circumstances?!” Race cried. “Under the circumstances?! How are we going to explain this?”
Cookie give him that look, the same one his old high school history teacher would give him when she was in the midst of figuring out Race hadn't done a lick of homework. “You didn't read the whole e-mail, did you? The one from the client.”
“Sure I did! I mean, I browsed it. A once-over, you know? Most of it. The first paragraph, anyway. Maybe just the subject line.” She raised an eyebrow. He sighed. “All right. I didn't even know we HAD an e-mail account.”
Cookie pulled her cell phone out of her pocket and handed it to him. “Here. Read.” Race tapped the e-mail icon and the text of the client's e-mail popped up. He began to scroll through it. “That's a list,” Cookie explained as he read, “of some of the stuff this guy has done to the women he dates.”
Race's eyes got wider and wider the further he got down the list. “Uggh. Wow. Really?”
“Yeah. Really.”
“And the girls AGREE to this stuff?”
Cookie shrugged. “I'd argue they aren't in their right minds, but... yeah. Healthy, right?”
Race tossed the phone back to Cookie, shaking his head. “It amazes me the stuff that people let go on in their lives in the name of love... or whatever the hell it is this clown shoes deals in.” He frowned. “But is hitting him with the shovel over and over and over again the best idea? Stuff like that can follow you around, give you a reputation.”
Cookie grinned. “That's the best part. This is out of canon. It doesn't count. It's a one-shot one-off. Never really happened.”
“Oh!” Race looked back at the guys. “So... what? No consequences?”
“Nope.”
Race nodded. “Well, all right then. In that case... got another shovel?”
Cookie pointed to the bed where, sure enough, lay another shovel. Race grabbed hold of it, tested the grip once or twice, and looked back at his niece. “Good to go.”
The two of them spent the rest of the night pounding that dude over and over and over and over and over and over and over again with their shovels.

The world is a better place for it, honestly.