Saturday Sundry

  • Publishing of my new book, The Wisdom of Walt Disney is planned for sometime next week. I originally planned to publish it this week, but needed more time for editing and such.
  • I’ve had a notion that I’ve been trying to make into a suitable essay: this increasing insanity we see in public discourse is partly a manifestation of the style of thinking that we’ve been taught in our school system. You see, our schools, by and large, don’t teach us to actually think or reason logically. Instead, we’re told (in essence), “this is the right answer. This is the wrong answer. Good people pick the right answer, bad people pick the wrong one.” Tell me that the vast majority of issues presented to the public aren’t presented in this kind of ‘right-answer-wrong-answer” pattern: Global Warming, same-sex marriage, ‘Transgender’ rights, racism, ‘Islamophobia,’ and on and on.
  • Planning to do the videos about every two weeks. Hopefully the next one will go a little easier, since Land Before Time was a lot of work. And I’ve discovered that years as a bitter recluse have left my voice a little…off. Maybe it’s just me, but recording’s kinda difficult, and I think I sound strange. Anyway, I’ll announce what the next film to be reviewed will be early this week.
  • I finished reading The Count of Monte Cristo this week. It was about mid-way through that I realized “Wait a second: this a book where the hero is a Bond villain!” Think about it; he’s got his secret island lair, unfathomable riches, a beautiful mistress/henchwoman, exotic henchmen, untraceable poisons, and he’s an urbane, sophisticated man enacting an elaborate scheme of vengeance. Absolute Bond villain!
  • And a little beauty to finish up:
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-Polittico Baroncelli, by Giotto

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Friday Flotsam

 

  1. Been hard at work on the Project, so this week’s Flotsam is going be all about updating on that.
  2. The plan, at the moment, is that the video series Noble Snake Reviews will launch a week from today (that will be Friday, August 11). I’ll announce the film to be reviewed beforehand, but suffice to say, it’s one I have a special bond with.
  3. The idea for the videos is to have a semi-animated serpentine avatar to serve as my ‘face,’ while I narrate my thoughts, with footage from the film projected into a theater screen behind him. So, there will be a visual component to the reviews as well as a vocal one, allowing me to incorporate some visual humor. Keeping with the ‘Noble’ part of the title, there will be no swearing or crude language, though I’m trying to include a lot of deadpan humor. Here’s a preview of what it’ll look like: Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 8.45.04 PM.png
  4. Meanwhile, I’m tentatively planning to launch the book, The Wisdom of Walt Disney, a week later on August 18.
  5. Status update on the book: thus far, I’m more or less satisfied with the essays on Pinocchio, Fantasia, Song of the South, Treasure Island, Cinderella, and 20,000 Leagues Under the SeaSnow White, Bambi, Old Yeller, and Sleeping Beauty still need work, and Swiss Family Robinson and Mary Poppins I haven’t started. This was not just an excuse to list the films that will be discussed in the book.
  6. By the way, the ending of Old Yeller? Yeah, it still made me choke up. I know exactly what’s going to happen, but it’s so well done that it still gets me, dang it! I was even choking up writing about it.
  7. So, the logo question is almost settled; right now I’m deciding between these two, possibly with some slight modifications.

    That’s all for now; keep an eye for further updates as we get closer to launch!

Ponies and Introverts

Being an introvert mostly involves having people force you into uncomfortable situations and then blame you for not enjoying them. Our society doesn’t approve of those who prefer solitude or working alone: we want team players! Socially-well-adjusted youngsters! Collaboration! Synergy! Whatever other terms for ‘forcing people to act according to plan’ you care to name.

Reason number I-lost-count to love My Little Pony: it not only avoids this approach, but directly criticizes it. Yes, the show literally called ‘Friendship is Magic’ teaches it’s okay to enjoy solitude and unsocial pursuits, and that the more outgoing need to understand and accept that.

True, in the first episode Twilight is forced out of her comfort zone and becomes more sociable. But she doesn’t stop being an introvert. She still likes spending time alone reading or organizing her library (she does that a lot), and she’s not portrayed as being at all wrong for doing this. The show distinguishes between ‘enjoys spending time alone’ and ‘reclusive shut-in,’ with the latter being portrayed as an unhealthy exaggeration of the former. The point isn’t that spending time alone is bad, but that there needs to be a healthy balance between solitude and socializing, and that this balance will look different for different types of people.

It’s not just Twilight either: Fluttershy and Rarity are played as more introverted characters as well. The show even makes the point that Fluttershy choosing to opt out of some group activities and just stay home alone is perfectly okay if she doesn’t enjoy those activities. Likewise, when Rarity sometimes becomes too focused on her work to be polite it’s presented as a forgivable lapse rather than a fundamental problem in her personality. That she sometimes has to seclude herself to get her work done, that she draws energy from solitary creative effort, and that she has precise, high-class tastes that the others don’t really share are all portrayed as being a good thing: just part of her unique personality, to be accepted and appreciated rather than resented as ‘unsocial.’

Meanwhile, super-extrovert Pinkie has a couple episodes where she learns that some ponies simply don’t enjoy the kind of exuberant fun and socializing that she loves so much. Pinkie doesn’t mean any harm, of course, but it’s shown that she can be annoying to people who either don’t know her or who don’t share her taste in fun. In such cases, the lesson isn’t that they need to lighten up and be more outgoing, but that Pinkie needs to accept them as they are and befriend them based on their personality rather than hers.

Then there’s Maud. Oh, Lord, I love Maud! Maud is Pinkie’s older sister, who is pretty much her complete opposite. She’s extremely reserved, speaks in terse, laconic sentences, almost never shows emotion, and is completely and utterly wrapped up in the study of rocks. She’s so odd and so socially awkward that the others at first don’t know what to make of her, until they discover that Maud’s bland exterior hides very deep feelings, particularly when it comes to her little sister.

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The Introvert and the Extrovert

In other words, Maud is a non-specific, but very sympathetic portrait of someone with Aspergers, or some related condition. She’s not presented as being ‘broken’ or tragic; just as another person with her own unique personality. She’s difficult to get to know and not good with people, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with her.

One episode reveals that, much as she enjoys spending time alone with her rocks, she actually is lonely for a friend. She notes that “it’s not hard to find somepony I like. It’s finding somepony who gets me.” That’s a sentiment I can definitely relate to, and I love that this show is mature and thoughtful enough to understand it. When Maud does make a friend, it’s with fellow introvert Starlight, and they bond over quiet, thoughtful activities like kite flying and geology.

The overall message is that there are some people who are very outgoing, expressive, and sociable, and some people who aren’t, and that’s just how the world works. Both types have their strengths and weaknesses, and both need to be allowed to be themselves.

I wish more shows, and more people, understood that.

7 Quick Takes Friday: Preparing for Launch

 

  1. First and foremost, I guess I should announce that I’m taking my blog and my work in a new direction, with the intention of turning writing into a full-time profession.

 

  1. As part of this goal, I’m planning on blogging a lot more. This will probably result in sloppier and shorter pieces and a lot more filler but such is life (It’s also probably going to involve more My Little Pony at least for the time being, so heads up on that).

 

  1. It also means I’m going to be revamping the blog to fit better with my business plan. So don’t be alarmed by any sudden and explained changes you may find here.

 

  1. My business plan is, briefly put, this: there are a million-and-one film reviewers out there. The market is saturated by them. So, my approach will be to focus on the themes, ideas, philosophy, and morals of various works of fiction. I’ll talk about what I think is good or bad as well, but mostly I’ll be drawing out what I think the film is saying through essays, e-books, and videos.

 

  1. I’m currently working on my first e-book for this endeavor, which will be addressing the films of Walt Disney. That is, the films that he himself worked on and were produced during his lifetime. I take twelve of his best and most important films and explore the ideas and ethics conveyed by each one. More on that as we get closer to launch.

 

  1. I will also, of course, continue to write fiction of my own, but when and how that will be released is more uncertain. One thing at a time.

 

  1. Finally, if anyone reading actually cares about any of this, I’d like to solicit your help. My plan is to call my business “Noble Snake Productions” and use something like this as my logo:

Logo 3

When I ran it by my family, though, it didn’t meet with a good response. They pointed out that most people don’t like snakes and will consider it a sign of untrustworthiness.

Me, I think it’s cool, unique, and perfectly encapsulates everything I hope my work will be: the exotic and eccentric combined with the venerable and traditional. Then again, I’m eccentric and don’t think like most people do, so maybe I’m completely off on this.

What do you say? Off-putting or charmingly eccentric?

Stay tuned for more content and more announcements as we get closer to launch date! Including the announcement of what the launch date will actually be.

 

 

Saturday Sundry

-Been back from California for a few weeks, trying to make up my mind how to proceed. I’m leaning towards a year or so of paying work and self-production before I invest thirty-five-thousand-plus-expenses for a degree in filmmaking, but I’m not sure.

-My reaction to terrorist attacks are pretty much the same: horrified, angry, sad, but not in the least surprised. You know the old pacifist line “What if they gave a war and no one came?” Well, basically this is what happens: one side shuts its eyes and repeats “If I’m nice to them, they’ll be nice to me” while the other gleefully massacres women and children. Arm yourselves and stay alert; this is going to get worse before it gets better.

-As usual, Larry Correia has an amusing an insightful point of view on current events.  A lot of different subjects covered here, but my favorite quote: “My 150 IQ daughter who wants to become a biochemist hates Bill Nye so much that she wants to someday win a Nobel Prize just so that she can insult him during her acceptance speech.”

-So, I saw that someone from Newsweek posted on Twitter about how the latest ‘Bachelorette’ is a Black woman and wondering whether ‘America is ready for interracial romance.’ Meanwhile, Stanley Kramer directed Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn in Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, which saw their daughter being engaged to Sydney Poitier and which made buckets and buckets of money…fifty years ago. That probably would have been the time to ask if America was ready for interracial romance, which, judging by the box office, it was (also judging by the probably hundreds of successful films, shows, and books featuring interracial romances that have come along since). The fact that leftists in the media (but I repeat myself) are so ridiculously out of touch on this issue would be hilarious if it weren’t so insulting.

-Saw Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 yesterday, and thought it was good. It’s definitely darker than the first one, and I’m not sure how I feel about some of the themes, especially in the context of this day and age (let’s just say that I think ‘Daddy issues’ sums up a lot of the defining aspects of the contemporary world), but on the whole I liked it. There’s some good character development, especially regarding Rocket, and these are just really appealing characters, for all their crudity. Like the first film, it’s a good, solid space opera with some genuinely interesting sci-fi concepts blended in with all the silliness.

-I just realized the next film this summer I’m actually looking forward to is Spider-Man: Homecoming in July. In June we have Wonder Woman (the DCAU is going to have to work hard to win me back, and I don’t really even like Wonder Woman that much as a character, so probably not), The Mummy (because all good horror needs massive city-wide CG destruction. Don’t think this one will make anyone forget Boris Karloff, or heck, even Brendan Fraser. I admit Russel Crowe’s presence as Doctor Jekyll is intriguing, though), Cars 3 (because after Cars 2 turned out to be Pixar’s first real failure, why wouldn’t they keep going?), and Despicable Me 3 (I didn’t even really like Despicable Me one). Oh, well; tickets are expensive anyway.

 

California Impressions

As a lifelong film buff, California has, to my mind, a rather mythical air. Not because that’s where films are made, but because, by and large, that’s where they’re set. Walking around California, therefore, feels rather like walking around in a movie, if you know what I mean. Arriving amid the palm trees, Spanish-style buildings, and mountains, I feel like John McClaine; “****ing California…”

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Thus, though I go in with a prejudiced opinion of blue states (overtaxed and undercivilized), I also went in with a keen interest to actually see the place, or at least as much as a three day trip with no car would allow. My impressions thus far are:

-It’s very beautiful. The weather is more overcast than I expected, but the landscapes are lovely, and it’s nice to see real (though modest) mountains. I am also rather partial to Spanish-style construction. I should definitely like to come back to visit more thoroughly.

-It’s expensive. I checked out some apartment listings; the cheapest one was $900/month, and I’m told that’s very cheap for this part of the country. Plastic bags cost an extra ten cents. Again, “****ing California…”

-There seems to be a lot more effort put into the design of the place, which I appreciate. For instance, on the way out of San Diego, there are just these kind of towers on the off-ramps. Pretty cool.

-The San Diego train/bus station is a converted Church, which is a little sad, though certainly preferable to just having a bland box of building. The ‘SAN DIEGO’ sign on the roof is kinda tacky, though.

-There’s definitely a sense of “We’re CALIFORNIA!” A self-conscious desire on the part of the location to live up to its image. California could not be any more California, if you know what I mean, and it’s well aware of the fact. There’s a whole style and tone to the place that is definitely its own, though in something of the self-conscious manner of a theme park (though nowhere near to the extent of, say, Las Vegas). In any case, the sensation is much more of being in a different country than in just being in a different part of the same country.

My overall impression is that Southern California is basically a giant movie set, complete with hyper-leftist directors and stars. Certainly a cool place to visit, but I doubt I’d care to live there.

Friday Flotsam

-Going to check out the John Paul the Great University MBA in Film Producing next week, in the hopes that it may prove the solution to my employment woes. I figure if I have to do more schooling, I might as well go for something that actually interests me.

-Religion and Economics have this in common: everyone feels qualified to speak of them, whether or not they have any understanding of either. The result is that no two subjects have inspired more incredibly stupid statements from otherwise intelligent people.

-I find my biggest problem in getting things done is deciding what I should be focusing on. I have so many projects in the works, and have so little idea of which ones might bring success that I’m paralyzed until the day’s almost over and I give up and go read a detective story or play Minecraft.

My Catholic Match post received a lot of positive response, but not all of the kind I would like. A lot of people seemed to think the idea was “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” a notion I loathe and despise. I think there’s a vague notion that men shouldn’t care about how a woman looks, to which I can only answer in the words of C.S. Lewis: Whether it ought to or not, the thing you suggest is not going to happen. It’s kind of like the idea that a man in war ought to go about his business with a heavy heart and a shame face; a crude, childish attempt to apply a good principle. Yes, a man in war should bear his enemies no hatred, and yes, a man should value a woman for much more than her beauty. But beauty is an admirable quality and it’s natural for man to desire it. I think I’ll have to do another post on that subject.