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Subspace: Rant! Rant Like the Wind!
Hosted by Joe Crowe, November 25, 2005

Happy Eating and Shopping, everybody! While you’re gorging yourself on the giblets, you should join our little enclave of RevolutionSF-tolerating fans. You can join our newsletter here, and thus get word via e-mail when we update, and you can join our forums here, and talk amongst yourselves and ourselves about geek-related things. You must join the forums in order to win prizes from us. Did I mention the prizes? We give out free prizes to contest winners — and sometimes just because we feel like it. But you have to be signed up for the forums to get one. And the newsletter is just one way to get some e-mail that isn’t spam. We all need that.

Enough shilling. Back to your mashed taters while I answer some letters.

Subject: This Week’s News About Things Coming Out of Capt. Kirk’s Butt

I hate to break it to everyone (esp. Joe), but... KIDNEY STONES DON'T COME OUT OF THE ANUS.

They come out from the urethra (Make a Nichelle Nichols joke @ your own risk). So in Shatner's case (presumably) they would be coming out of his...how to put it into Trekkese..."Yeoman's Pleasure Drive". (Zed)

Well, I’m an idiot. This shows I’ve never had a kidney stone, otherwise I’d certainly know where they came out.

As you will notice, I changed the headline. I almost changed it to “Capt. Kirk’s Ding-a-Ling,” but cooler heads prevailed. So to speak.

It also proves that I don’t know my butt from a hole in my penis.

Subject: Lois Lame

"But Smallville has given us a Super-fix and a bodacious Lois Lane for a few years."

What show have you been watching? It can't be Smallville; Lois Lane on Smallville is an abomination. (Did I express myself strongly enough? Maybe I should amp it up a little.) (rtjhnsn)

I think a certain part of my anatomy may have written that line for me. But I don’t know which one. I say bodacious, you say abomination. Tell me more.

You might want to go get a lovely beverage before settling into this, our EPIC TOLKIEN RANT SECTION.

Subject: Epic Pooh

I think this article by Michael Moorcock ("revised" yet again, cynically, to include *just* a nugget of sympathetic reference to the all-conquering Ms Rowling!) is basically a load of crap - or "poo" if you prefer, without the "h"!

Medievalistic epic fantasy might not be everyone's cup of tea, but seriously, to compare J R R Tolkien to some kind of fascist propagandist (seriously!) and to say that his Dark Lord villain Sauron is representative of a leader of the working class, is frankly - and frantically - ludicrous.

I won't even go into the former accusation in depth - but seriously: you HAVE to know something about these books! You have to have READ "The Lord of the Rings", preferably as both a child and an adult; and also to have read "The Silmarillion", because it explains a lot of things.

Sauron - unlike Rowling's more recent villain, "Lord Voldemort", isn't even HUMAN. Which human leader of the working class would he be supposed to represent - Stalin, anyway??

Sauron is a member of a type of beings called the "Maiar" - a sort of lower-order angel or demon, in Tolkien's mythology (as set out most clearly in "The Silmarillion"). A cherubim or deva, in effect, to use words from other mythologies. He isn't human, ie a "man", working class or otherwise: never was and never will be. He is a fallen angel who fell because of his allegiance to the GREATER fallen angel, Melkor, a member of the higher order of angels/gods, or Valar: who is part of Tolkien's "ancient" mythology, and who no longer has any foothold in Middle-Earth. Try this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Silmarillion

Sauron had an evil effect on the elder history of Middle-Earth (it's all set out, in the good editions, in the appendices!) because he used his formerly beautiful appearance to have a subtle evil influence among Men, and went out among the Nine Kings of Men and converted them to evil ideas... they became the Nazgul, OK, the Black Riders or Ringwraiths! (As in "One Ring to Bind them All"!) Or *Nazis*, as MANY readers, myself included, have seen them!!!

I am only sorry that the modern Peter Jackson movies didn't bring out these themes of Nazi terror in a more overt way - his opus has led to public comparisons between the evil hordes and Osama, etc, which is frankly feeble! (Well, anything to be "with-it", eh?)

The Lord of the Rings is an anti-totalitarian fantasy (yes, it criticises Stalinist/Maoist communism and "collective farming" too). So, basically, Michael Moorcock, [filk] off!!

Though I will say this: I partially agree with his comments on the strengths of more "homely" writers such as L Frank Baum and E Nesbit, as opposed to the "epic" tradition of fantasy. I always appreciated the strengths of the above authors, kings and queens in their field, although perhaps not as appreciated by the modern "adult" fantasy crowd. He's picked a couple of good examples of their writing strengths, as well! (And, conversely, some unfairly mediocre ones of Tolkien!)

C S Lewis, although he was, in fact, influenced by Edith Nesbit (little-known fact! He admired the Scottish woman writer), does, I feel, exhibit some flaws of style in his "Narnia" books. They are a bit too "chatty" in style, and filled with needless sub-clauses; and they do seem to "talk down" to kids just a little bit! However, this doesn't seem to have put children down the ages off them at all. Go figure. Nor do the obvious Christian themes. C S Lewis, unlike his friend J R R Tolkien, admitted to writing an allegory. It works, in his case, as art - because this man was not some bottom-feeding Victorian "tract" writer; he was a highly learned medievalist, and it shows! The echoes of the pagan and the medieval romance resound all over his works, which is why, I moot, so many people still enjoy them today. Gets us back to our cultural roots! (And, of course, in the middle ages, Christian allegory was an "accepted" format... just as "post-modern" allegory - ie Terry Pratchett - is to us today!)

I will in addition say that I do, on balance, commend Mr Moorcock for having the gumption to say *anything* about political influences/messages in fiction *at all*. Most modern journalists/reviewers are SO unserious about this!! They want to be "politically correct" and not offend anyone - particularly not anyone who has made it in a medium or media, because "the media" is nothing but a bunch of sycophants these days, all celebrating "success" and little else.

And they're post-modern dilettantes. You're not SUPPOSED to "see" anything in any modern fiction, you know: it's the MEDIUM, not the message, dontcha know! Therefore: I am looked at askance on internet sites for criticising the movie "Sin City" for its crypto-fascist (well, not that well hidden!) ideas, I am just supposed to comment on the clever visuals!

*Right.* (I'd very much like to know what Michael Moorcock thinks of that movie, as a matter of fact: editor, any leads?)

And just now on a livejournal blog, or rather its "comments" section, somebody treated me as "insane" for "daring" to criticise Neil Gaiman!

You see?? The entire world is mad these days, or rather, suffers from ostrich syndrome. Nobody seems to have any strong opinions or ideas; and to display them is tantamount to blasphemy, "tin-foil-hattery" or the like. We're all just supposed to quiescently CONSUME.

But Michael. "Sauron = working-class-hero"??

*That's* a bit much, I think!!!

Still. I think it was better when fiction WAS supposed to contain strong messages; of any kind: and we WERE allowed to criticise movies, etc, for their content as well as for their camera angles. (ekonline)

RevSF Contributing Editor Mark Finn says:

This hissy fit perfectly encapsulates why I don't like Tolkien. If I have to read the author's notes and book-length appendicies, written with the dry parchmenty tone of a 1950s history textbook, just to find out WHAT the bad guy in the three main books is, then I call that book a failure as literature. As a writing exercise — the generation of a hidden age of mankind, a mythic chronicle— LoTR is great. I'm just more interested in real history as a reader, rather than fake, made-up history of the race of elves.

I also love it when people put the word "crypto" in front of words like "fascist" when discussing a book or movie. Jan Strnad called Conan a "Crypto-Homosexual" in the 1970s, citing the use of swords in the most Freudian manner possible. He was wrong then. Just as this person is wrong now about Sin City being "Crypto-Fascist."

But, again, I dig this person for the same reason they commend Moorcock. Strong opinions are nothing to shy away from. See, to me, when I hear "Crypto-Fascist" employed against something so "surface" as Sin City, it makes me think that this person has never seen a crime movie, never read a crime novel. Sin City is a pastiche. Slick and stylish, sure, but it's also indicative of the highs (and lows) of the genre. So, this person says that Sin City contains hidden messages of fascism, it makes me think that this person thinks the whole genre has hidden fascist messages. And while that is certainly an interpretation (not a valuable or nuanced one, but still), there are much more interesting models to hook a discussion of Sin City to that don't make me want to defend it outright against the slings and arrows of a seeming chucklehead.

RevSF Managing Editor Shane Ivey says:

Oh, yeah. Saying you can't criticize one book without reading another, unrelated one is just silly. Tolkien should have given more clues as to the nature of the supernatural powers at work in the books, Sauron included; it's a failing of the story when some of the most compelling ideas are squirreled away in appendices or notebooks never published in the author's lifetime. And why in the world would you open the tale with an interminable chapter on the history and food preferences of hobbits, but relegate an adventure story as terrific as Aragorn's early life to the footnotes? I enjoy LOTR tremendously nevertheless, and disagree with most of Moorcock's politically-informed interpretation of it, but I certainly won't call him wrong for disliking it.

RevSF Fiction Editor Jayme Blaschke says:

I'm probably the biggest Tolkien fan on the RevSF staff, and I've just got to put in that this nimrod is off his nut. There's no literary work ever written that doesn't deserve a good, critical evisceration. If Tolkien's work is truly worthy, it can handle the heat without losing its luster. Working himself into a Donald Duckesque lather and hurling spittle at the screen ain't gonna change a single mind.

Looking over at my bookshelf, I've got a first edition Silmarillion next to Karen Wynn Fonstand's Atlas of Middle Earth. Mixed in there is Tolkien's translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Morgorth's Ring, The War of the Jewels, plus Ruth Noel's The Languages of Tolkien's Middle Earth and Bored of the Rings. I've got a shitload of Tolkien. I've also got a shelf full of Moorcock, and I also interviewed the man, something I've been unable to do with any Tolkien. I'm looking at Wizardry & Wild Romance right now. And you know what? I disagree with a lot of Moorcock's contentions. But the man makes a valid case for his arguments. He does his research. He knows him some books. I don't accept all of his arguments, but I respect them. I sure as hell ain't getting my panties in a wad about it.

Ultimately, I think the literary disconnect is more cultural than anything else. Tolkien was a rural man at heart, loved isolation and the wilderness, hiking in pastoral countryside — elements of his life Moorcock despises in his fiction. Moorcock, on the other hand, is an urbanite through and through, leaving Austin for Paris because it's not cosmopolitan enough. Moorcock's told me he's not comfortable in a city of less than four million people, a concept that would have horrified Tolkien. I don't find it too hard to accept that people can come at the same material from such diametrically opposed perspectives that the context soul of the writing becomes something entirely different, even though the text on the page is the same for all parties.

Heck, I even hear tell that some folks didn't like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Philistines.

Back to Joe: Wheeeeee! Now for some shorter things. But nevertheless enjoyable, so don’t stop reading. Please.

Subject: Padme

She is so cute!!!!!!!!!!! (gabby)

Eh. I’m more of a Mon Mothma guy.

Subject: Once More, With Feeling review

I love Buffy, Sarah Michelle Gellar is my idol, really i'm serious, I love buffy the show because I just do. I love everybody I love Seth Green he is so freakin hot nobody knows. But I love the musical it is the best one that I love. Buffy the vampire slayer is my favorite show. I loved the songs they were great I know every single word on it. So yaeh I just love the show and thought I would send you guys this to tell you what I thought about it.

Eh. I’m more of a Tara guy.

Subject: Catwoman

I wish that I could print out that page it was funny. and it was the truth and who ever said all that stuff was the real deal so I liked it wright some more.

1) You can print out the page, 2) I am indeed the real deal, and 3) I will write more, and am doing so even now. Anybody else want anything while I’m up?

Subject: No! No I’m So Sorry!!!

Jewel Staite - 20 pounds DOES NOT EQUAL Kaylee! The ! was meant to be next to the =, not next to the pounds. Oh, how woefully I fail at life! (arc highbeam)

Proofreading is a harsh mistress, my friend. Learn to love her.

Subject: The Others

The most amazing special effects in this movie are not the obvious ones, but that you never realize until you get to the "twist-ending" that this is a complete and total rip-off of "The Sixth Sense." And the most amazing special effect of "The Sixth Sense" is the way it rips off Orson Scott Card's "Lost Boys." (rtjhnsn)

Wow, you people read stuff.

Subject: 13 Scariest

Great article!! Personally, my favorites for Halloween are:

Movie: Session 9

Book: Misery

Horror themed game: Shivers

Oh, and regarding the Stephen King story about the dead grandmother...it was the SCARIEST episode of the 1980's "Twilight Zone series on CBS!!! (as well as being a great story by itself) (leissuit)

I was terrified by the one where Rudy from Six Million Dollar Man played the guy who created Farscape, Rockne S. O’Bannon.

Subject: Tim Burton’s Batman

After Batman Begins, I went back and watched the first two Tim Burton films. And I have to say that I'm in the Burton camp. Call me strange, but I like my Batman not to be Superman. I like him to be human, which implies a little weakness. Keaton's Batman/Bruce Wayne was perfect. I like the fact that he's smart enough to realize that dodging bullets really isn't an option, so bulletproof suits are as good as they are going to get. I also like Burton's take on the villains: monstrous, charismatic, and pitiless.

And they listen to Prince! Well, one of them.

Subject: Batman Sucks / Rocks

I was amazed that you left off Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. It gives Mask of the Phantasm a run for its money (and with Mask only just barely being equaled by Batman Begins, that's saying something) and the flashback sequence may be the single most chilling thing ever presented in the entire DC animated universe. Hell, maybe in the entire film or TV history of Batman, for that matter. (gbeenie)

I’m with you there, but if we got to writing about the Bat-animated series, any of them, we’d choke our servers.

Subject: Batman Returns

Unless I'm much mistaken, Bruce Wayne says the bit about not being a Ted Bundy/Norman Bates type in "Batman Returns," not "Batman." Also, the picture of Michael Keaton awash in the Batsignal is from "Batman Returns," but is featured on the "Batman" page. We shouldn't be mixing our Tim Burton movies up. (rtjhnsn)

Jason Myers says: "I am ashamed. My bat-fu is bat-poo."

Subject: Batman

Thank you SO MUCH for including the 1966 Batman movie in your discussion of the caped crusader's cinematic exploits. I practically grew up on Adam West's and Burt Ward's scenery chewing. It was a mystery to me why Robin ended every sentence with an exclamation mark ("It looks bad, Batman! This brassy bird has us buffaloed!") while Batman was fond of a more Shatneresque variable dialogue delivery ("This strange .... mixing .... of minds may-be-the-greatest-single- service-ever-performed-for humanity! LET'SGO, but--... in-con-spi-cuously ... through the window. We'll use our ... Batropes. Our job is finished"). The TV series may not have had much to do with the comic books, but it is a classic in its own right. How bout that iconic scene, somehow left out of the "Rocks" list, when Batman's efforts to dispose a live bomb are stymied by continually reappearing innocent pedestrians (nuns, mothers with strollers, a marching band playing "Bringing in the Sheaths")? "Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb!" Accusing this movie of camp is like accusing "The Shining" of being scary.

As for "Batman Begins," while I wish they'd named it something more memorable, is a remarkable movie, and a polar opposite from the 1966 comedy. I imagine this is what you'd get if you found a talented writer who had never heard of superheroes (perhaps he's lived in a bomb shelter all his life, a la "Blast from the Past"), outlined the Batman story for him, and asked him to write the screenplay. "Good lord," he'd exclaim, "what do you MEAN, he's a rich, handsome playboy who is depressed all the time? He's that rich and powerful, and he fights crime through vigilante justice? He dresses up like a WHAT? It's going to take at least the first AND second acts to justify this character's actions. The Batman, what a stupid name ..."

"Batman Begins" is the first Batman movie wherein I saw Bruce Wayne in a Batsuit, instead of Batman in a tux. My only real complaints about the movie, aside from Katie Holmes, are that the accents were kind of random (a guy named Henri Ducard has an English accent?), and that the Scarecrow is seriously the lamest Bat-villain I've ever seen. And I'm including Mr. Freeze. A psychiatrist with a burlap bag on his head. Couldn't Jonathan Crane have the decency to by a 50 cent halloween mask? Thanks for letting me vent. I have to go unravel a sinister riddle. Bon voyage, Pussy. (rtjhnsn)

I grew up on a farm. YOU try not to go crazy when someone puts a burlap bag on your head.

Subject: I haven’t slept, and I blame you

Okay: I want to know if the dog dies in "Lost." I have to know when and how if I am to continue to watch the first season DVD. I cannot bear anything tragic with an animal, so you HAVE TO tell me. Eating people willy nilly is acceptable. Also, there's not a bunch of breastfeeding going on now that the pregnant chick's had the baby, is there? I know this is something that you might very well like to see with the lovely Emilie de Ravin, but I like my TV breast-free. The breastless, the better. So, I need feedback on these issues.

I have to say that I have chuckled, snickered, and perhaps even hooted during some of your articles. So far, I most enjoyed this quote: "So I'm fully entitled to poke gently at my fellow state natives. Which isn't what the aliens will do."

I also got a rich, robust chuckle from this quote on your colleague's "Batman Sucks/Rocks" commentary: "I'm both Bruce Wayne AND Batman", he says, "Not because I have to be. Now, because I choose to be." Whoever wrote that should be shot. No, seriously.” (jackolantern)

Emilie de Ravin’s breasts are my business and no one else’s.

The dog lives. I think the dog actually is the island, and all the survivors are just fleas.

Subject: Warning: Policy Wonk Ahead

To Van: Yes, it's true Reagan spent the Soviets into oblivion. He knew that that a vibrant free-market economy will ALWAYS beat out a planned statist one. However, during his administration, social spending grew more than defense spending (which by, the way, only had to increase as much as it did because of the MASSIVE defense spending cuts made by the previous administration). Another fact you ignore is that ALL spending originates in the House of Representatives. Currently, it's the Republicans who are spending like sailors on shore leave (all apologies to the sailors, who are at least spending their own money). Guess who controlled Congress during the Reagan years? I only addressed this subject because your misconception is, unfortunately, a common one. (gbeenie)

This is why I don’t talk about politics or religion or real world stuff. People just get all tingly. Changing the subject. Hurley from Lost. Jabba the Hutt. Who would win? Go.

Now changing the subject again.

Subject: Canada Apologizes for Lexx

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH VERY FUNNY! I really like it! More funny things about Lexx! (lexxladyjax)

I think that may be all of it.

Subject: Farewell to Porkins

You have an aversion to Jett Porkins's first name, or what? (trishel)

AAAARRGGH! Stop splitting my hairs! Such . . . tremendous . . . pain! AAAARGGGH!

And by the way, it’s “Jekk.”

RevolutionSF humor editor Joe Crowe is all set out, in the good editions, in the appendices!

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