Archive for the ‘Threat Quality’ Category

I like to wait to jump into these arguments until they’ve sort of blown over a little bit. It gives me time to think, it gives the aggrieved a chance to get riled up and then find something else to distract them, it leaves us with the opportunity to try to lay out some ideas in a way that doesn’t have to navigate the thorny situation of a person trying to justify the opinions of their TV heroes or something.

I want to talk about this fight between Bill Maher and Sam Harris on one side, and kind of on the other side Ben Affleck and Reza Aslan.

I’m on the Affleck/Aslan side of the argument, and rather than going through the details of their fight, I want to try to recontextualize the argument in a way that maybe suggests that this fight is misguided.

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I guess it’s the 15th anniversary of the release of Fight Club, so everyone is talking about it again I guess. Fight Club gets a bad rap these days, and there’s a feeling that maybe the Suck Fairy came and worked her magic, turning a film that a lot of folks kind of liked fifteen years ago into a big pile of crap. What is this movie? A testosterone-saturated pile of White Male aggression, a maybe kind of racist, patriarchical Trojan horse fed to a new generation of teenage boys under the guise of an appealing adolescent nihilism? It is gross, who even liked this, right?

I liked this, and actually I think it’s pretty brilliant. Hear me out though, I’ll explain.

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Help My Friend Michael Scott

Posted: October 4, 2014 in Threat Quality

So, Michael Scott (not of the Office, a different Michael Scott) is a friend of mine.  He’s an independent filmmaker and VFX artist in California.  He’s kind of well-known for this pretty great series of lightsaber fighting videos he made:

as well as for his enthusiasm for (and criticism of movies).

On September 30th, he was hit by a car and critically injured.  Like, very critically injured.  His friends are trying to raise money to help him.  I think he’s got insurance to cover his medical bills, but we all know that severe injuries cost a lot more than medical bills — based on the extent of the damage, he could be out of work for months (possibly forever).

Michael was the first person who expressed interest in film rights to The Translated Man.  He has since hired me to write several film treatments for him.  I’ve found him to be a very smart, very good, very generous person.  I know that many of you guys don’t know him from Adam (strictly speaking, most of you don’t know ME from Adam), but if you’ve got a few dollars lying around, he sure could use the help.

GoFundMe

Guardians of the Galaxy did really well, so that means there will be a sequel (Guardians of the Galaxy 2: 2 Guardians, 2 Galaxy), and I think that is a great opportunity to correct what I perceive to be a glaring flaw in the first movie:  Gamora’s criminal under-utilization as the most badass character of all.

Now, everyone loves a good, clean karate-fight.  Your Captain America versus Batroc the Leaper, &c.  But also one of the things that makes fights great and interesting is when there are obstacles or limitations that the fighter has to overcome (think basically every Jackie Chan fight scene ever).  These are good ways to make the fight unique and creative, and also often to raise the stakes of a fight scene part way through, so that we don’t get tired of seeing people try to kick each other or what have you.

Guardians of the Galaxy did do one of these, the Gamora / Star-Lord Supine Karate Fight, and don’t get me wrong, I love a good fight where both characters are lying down.  In my opinion, almost ANY fight could be improved by having the fighters lie on the ground and try to hit each other!

Still, you’ve done that once.  Here are some other ideas.

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Fine!  It was fine.  A fine movie.  It had some exciting space adventures, people flew around in ships and shot each other with lasers.  There was some kind of power-exploding MacGuffin, that was great.  The character stuff was for the most part exceptional.  Groot was there, he was awesome, Rocket Raccoon was awesome.  My favorite was actually Drax the Destroyer!

(“We just established that blowing up the ship I’m on isn’t saving me.” “When did we establish that?” “Like three seconds ago!” “I wasn’t listening to that part, I was thinking about something else.”)

Hahahah.  Excellent use of Dave Bautista, finally we’re seeing him live up to the potential he revealed as Bronze Body Man in The Man with the Iron Fists.

A good time was had by all.  I am going to write a few things here, because it is in my nature to be a Debbie Downer, and a natural enemy of all that is good and fun, so if you HATE FUN, by all means, keep reading.

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So, here I am, continuing on with my PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE. I talked before a little bit about what I think the world isn’t, and how we can have a functional morality within an atheistic context; then I talked a little bit about what I think the world is, and about how we navigate it. Today I am talking about Mysticism, and why I think it’s important, and this is the part where it begins to get weird (it’s going to get even weirder as we go) and where I’m probably going to start earning the scorn of my fellow atheists (who are my “fellow” only in the loosest-possible sense of the term).

Mysticism typically refers to a kind of intuitive, direct communion with the divine reality, but I don’t believe in a divine reality, so that’s not what I mean by it. When I refer to mysticism, I’m talking about something that’s a little simpler, and doesn’t make ontological statements (that is, statements about the nature of what things are) about the universe: “mysticism” is a sort of philosophical position in which we argue that the essential or important experience of the universe is a non-rational experience.

I realize this sounds pretty crazy, probably more crazy to people who know me, and understand me as being aggressively rational or logical, but maybe I can explain it a little bit. To do that, I need to back up.

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EMPRESS_WITITLE_OPT3

Hello friends of the theater, and of me, and of threat quality!  I am here to tell you about Aphra Behn, British playwright and spy, historically the first woman to make her living as a writer, generally speaking a hero to the people.  You may remember Aphra from the play that I have talked about before — well, that play is real, and we are going to take it to the Capital Fringe Festival, and we need your help!

Right now, I am trying to raise money for travel expenses for the six actresses in the show, since we’ve got to bring them down from Philadelphia, and we’re going to have to put them up in DC.  Obviously, I know what you’re thinking —  you’re thinking “Yes, show me where to send the money!”  the answer is here:

EMPRESS OF THE MOON:  THE LIVES OF APHRA BEHN

Good!  But maybe you want to know more, so here is some more to say about that.

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