TUESDAY, JUNE 18, 2013
*Disclaimer* My wife says I should blog more, so… here, I be. I’ll probably just rant about stuff that bugs me, praise things that I like, or just ramble on like a Led Zeppelin song. It’ll usually be about fun stuff like movies or comics or games or toys. Don’t expect dissertations on politics or religion or heavy stuff like that: my beliefs in these areas are my own and nothing EVER seems to be gained by arguing them, so I hold that stuff close to my vest. Also, you’ll find no comments section because there’s no greater time vampire or fun bandit than a comments section. If you simply HAVE to discuss with me any topic that I bring up here, buy me a drink at a convention bar.
I know I should blog more. It’s a way for people who enjoy my work (hereafter gratefully referred to as ‘fans’) to know a little more about the cat that produces the art they dig. It’s a useful tool for creating a further bond with the artist and his/her audience.
It’s also a serious waste of time, energy, and electricity for the plain, the vain, and the insane.
I don’t do this much. I’m not on Facebook, and anyone you find there claiming to be me isn’t me, although my wife and assistant DO maintain a FB page for me. I like Twitter, but not as much as I used to. It was fun to Tweet the occasional joke or humorous insight, but eventually I was worn down by Twitter pedants, trolls, and any of the other societal pilot fish that suck the joy out of social media like it’s the last shamrock shake on St. Paddy’s Day. I don’t have the thick skin of a Patton Oswalt or a Mark Waid for doing combat with these folk. I dislike controversy and I loathe unnecessary confrontations. Social media seems to be the home for people who LIVE for confrontations. Why? I’m assuming because most people don’t want to hang out with them in the meat world, so they go take out their angers in the digital one.
One of the reasons I dislike blogging or Tweeting or whatever is that no matter WHAT you say, not matter how profound or life-affirming it may be, someone will take the time to give you shit for it. On my Deviant Art page I once asked (politely!) for a dollar from folks to aid an abused dog in Canada named Sasha. An abused creature, a dollar, a moment of your time. Very simple, very ‘milk of human kindness’. And I got a world of abuse for it. While the vast majority were wonderful, positive, and supportive even if they couldn’t send any donations, there were a few who argued with me. ARGUED. CHARITY. “Why don’t you help people? People are better than dogs!” Stuff like that.
It bothered me, it got under my skin, it ruined my night. I don’t have what it takes to deal with people like that. Friends would tell me ‘Don’t think about the lone assholes; focus on the nice people.” Well, that’s like saying “Pay no attention to the guy who kicked you in the testicles – think about the billions of people in the world who DIDN’T rack you in the jimmies!” I find it impossible. So, I stopped. Farewell, cruel world! I REGRET NOTHING! Social Media Suicide Hotline, hello? It’s Adam. Again. Yes, I’ll hold…
I still Tweet occasionally, usually just in response to someone else, either a fan’s compliment or question, or to say something to someone I follow. You really won’t see me Tweeting about how I really felt about IRON MAN 3, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS, or MAN OF STEEL (at least, not in the hot moment of their release, when people are itching to fight). I dislike arguing about religion or politics, and refuse to discuss them on social media. I quietly have my own beliefs in those areas, and support them in my own way. I won’t argue them; publicly, at least. I just think there’s no point in arguing if either side isn’t willing to admit even the SLIGHTEST possibility of open-mindedness.
I did have a great, positive argument experience once, back in December 2002. At a Christmas dinner a brother of a friend, a Tolkien fan with whom we had discussed the FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING film the previous Christmas, started off the latest discussion with “Let’s talk about how much we hated THE TWO TOWERS!!!”, which had just come out a few days before.
Before I continue, let me point out something about me: I don’t get involved in arguments unless I’m 99% sure I’m right. I dislike people who argue merely for the sake of argument, taking up an opposing point-of-view simply for the sheer joy of lively discussion. Meaning: if I bother to open my mouth to talk about something, it’s because I’m reasonably sure you’re getting something wrong, or maybe I’m privy to a fact you don’t posses yet. It’s not arrogance on my part: I just don’t get involved unless I’m reasonably sure I’m right. You’d be surprised how many people argue and they’re not entirely convinced of their position.
Story-within-a-story: one time a friend wanted to bet me that the protagonist of Jules Verne’s AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS was Phineas Fogg, and not Phileas Fogg, as I had just asserted. It was at a public dinner, and we joked back-and-forth in the lively spirit of group gatherings, and even after I’d pointed out that I’d JUST read the book for the first time (by coincidence, I actually had just read it) and that I was surprised that the main character’s name was Phileas and NOT Phineas, as I too had until recently mistakenly believed… this friend wouldn’t relent. He was POSITIVE he was right and I, wrong. He joked “I bet you money it’s ‘Phineas’”. I said “OK!” He asked how much.
I said “$1000”.
Everyone at the table dropped their silverware.
We were all dirt-poor artists, and together we didn’t have a thousand bucks to our names. The friend balked, and said “I was thinking more like $5.” And I asked him: “But if you’re positive that you’re right, I mean ABSOLUTELY SURE, then what do you have to fear? You’ve just made $1000. I’m not trying to bluff you out of your conviction – I just read the book so I know I’m right and that’s why I’m willing to bet money I don’t actually have.” He relented, not taking the bet, and to save face said he’d have to find a copy of the book to check for himself.
I didn’t do that to be a douche-bag or anything: I knew I was 100% right, and that he was in error - the same error I’d made myself, all my life, until I’d actually opened the book just a week earlier. My point being: I really keep my mouth shut unless you try to tell me something wrong like 2 + 2 = 5.
Anyhoo, I loved THE TWO TOWERS. My favorite LOTR film remains FELLOWSHIP, but I thought TWO TOWERS was grand. And unlike the brother of the friend, I’ve never felt that any changes in a story going from one medium to another are necessarily bad ones. I’m not that much of a purist. This other guy, however, felt, as many do, that the original texts are sacred, and that any alterations are for the worst.
I argued that I felt that characters like Aragorn and Faramir were better in the films than in the books. Long before the TWO TOWERS dvd came out with the Making Of filmmaker interviews that backed up my reasoning, I posed the question at this Yuletime dinner: “why is book Faramir immune to the One Ring?” Brother-Friend blinked at me. I went on: “Heavyweights Elrond, Aragorn, and Gandalf are all afraid of the One Ring. The won’t even TOUCH it. It ended the reign of King Isildur. It’s destroyed Smeagol, was on its way to destroying Bilbo when it was WRENCHED from him, and was now doing the same to Frodo. Boromir, the Captain America of Gondor, was completely undone by the mere idea of the One Ring. So, what made an ancillary character like Faramir so special? If he was so immune, why wasn’t he more involved with the fate of the Ring?” Much hemming and hawing usually follows this question, followed by the kind of fanboy rationalizations we’ve all made a zillion times (hey, sometimes I judge a genre film simply by how few rationalizations one has to make to justify the soundness of the story). There’s no real answer for this, other than: Professor Tolkien made a mistake there. Who can blame him: THE LORD OF THE RINGS is the size of 13 phone book; I’m surprised more stuff like that didn’t sneak in. And I’m guessing pride prevented him from revising that fatal logic flaw of Faramir’s in later editions. Who knows. He sure revised other stuff.
So, I argued that film Faramir was better than the book version, because they actually showed him being tempted like everyone else. He commits the EXACT SAME ACTIONS as book Farmair: he captures Sam & Frodo, he has discourse with them, he lets them go with his blessing. No change in his actions. All the filmmakers changed was that film Faramir was tempted by the One Ring first. That’s all. One little thing, and suddenly a plot hole from the book is filled. With delicious cinematic putty.
Brother-Friend was slightly taken aback at my reasoning and logic. He could sorta see what I was talking about. His wife then pointed out the added bit where Frodo faced off against the FellBeast-riding Ringwraith at the walls of Osgiliath. She said that it never happened in the book, and was completely out-of-character for the One Ring. “The One Ring wants to stay with the Ringbearer!” she argued. I pointed out that, no, the One Ring WANTS TO GET BACK TO SAURON. It’s a character, with a goal, and at this stage of the story it’s very weak. It gets stronger the more powerful Sauron gets, and the closer it gets to its master. Ages past, it finds its way into the hands of Deagol, and is just powerful enough to get his more corruptible cousin Smeagol to murder and steal for it. It languishes under a mountain for 5 centuries until Bilbo comes along; Bilbo, who is more mobile than Gollum wants to be, seems a better shot at getting back to Mordor, so the Ring gets itself out of Gollum’s grasp and into the Hobbit’s. Later on, I’m pretty sure the Ring is quite happy to be taken virtually all the way home by its master’s enemies and the pesky business of avoiding the Cracks of Doom will be easy-peasy: the Ring knows it will be VERY powerful once it’s that close to the Dark Lord. Overcoming whoever has it at that point will be no hay problemo, as the Valar like to say.
So, that scene with Frodo in a trance with the airborne Ringwraith? Not in the book, but very in-character… FOR THE ONE RING. It’s got Frodo in a trance, and is trying to get Frodo to hand it over to the Ringwraith. Frodo, somewhere deep in that trance, is trying to stop this, to put the damn thing on, to get AWAY from this exchange. It’s a great moment, and I loved it when I saw it.
Well, Bother-Friend’s wife just kinda humphed at this, but Brother-Friend thought for a second and said “Hunh. That makes sense, too. That’s all food for thought. I’m gonna have to go see it again.” It was my turn to be all blinky and ‘whuuuuut….?’ I’d never had an argument where the other person actually LISTENED to my side, and had the gumption to go rethink their opinion (I myself do it all the time: I never assume I’m all-knowing and I like it when other people enlighten me).
The reason for that whole Tolkien-length anecdote was just to illustrate the one positive outcome of an argument: someone (sometimes multiple someones) walks away with a fresher perspective, and no one’s nose is bloodied. Sadly, 99.9% of the other discussions or arguments I’ve been in have ended with, at best, “let’s just agree to disagree” and at worst, rage and acrimony. It’s just not worth it most of the time. I’d rather be reading a book, watching a sunset, or helping lower the liquor content of the world. I mean, puppies. Helping puppies.
I’m discouraged from blogging or any other form of web-based interaction for these reasons. But! Seeing how the word count of this anti-blogging screed is 2000+ and rising, maybe I CAN actually accomplish the need to fill this space with mindless ramblings and gentle folksy wisdom. But mostly mindless ramblings.
Okay. I’ll try to blog more, right here.