?

Log in

Blue Team Best Team

I wasn’t going to play Pokémon Go. Seriously. I’ve never played Pokémon in my entire life. I still have zero desire to pick up any of the other games, because I am not interested in that kind of grind.

But then my friend Corina wanted to go for a long walk and catch all the local Poké Stops. Which are in the same location as Ingress portals, so I thought what the hell, I might as well get back into playing Ingress. I haven’t done that since getting back to Colorado. Oh and fine, I’ll download Pokémon Go while I’m at it and try, since I’ll be out there anyway. It’s probably dumb and I won’t like it.

IMG_1551

Whoops.

And now I find myself out there, sitting on a picnic table in a park at midnight, farming Pokémon, and once a day reminding myself to log on to Ingress and keep my hacking streak going. What the hell happened? I don’t even go here.

Some of it’s no doubt because Pokémon Go is the shiny new thing. That’s an undeniable factor. But this game has become something more fun and social than Ingress ever was for me, remarkable because there’s a very strong Ingress community in Houston and I did regular social events when I was there. But my experience playing Ingress has been eyeballing people on their phones and wondering if they were playing, and if they were on the opposing team and about to start wrecking the shit I’d spent an hour linking and fielding up. Ingress players get damn aggressive sometimes, even to the point of following each other around. I’d go and take down an area in Ingress and be watching the chat for someone to start saying, “Who the fuck is Oyakodonburi?”

My Pokémon Go experience has been night and day. Yesterday, at the park, I heard a kid yelling, “Hey, is one of you Katsudonburi?” Yeah, me. (With a due sense of dread.) “You have a Snorlax? That’s so awesome! Where’d you get it?”

People come up to you if they think you’re playing to let you know that they just saw a Rapidash over in that corner of the park, you should go get it before it goes away. People thank each other for putting lures up on stops. And there’s always the inevitable question about which team you’re on, but the worst it ever gets is some good-natured ribbing about being on Team Mistake or Team InStink or Team Fouler. And then you all go back to squeeing about what just popped up around the lure.

Niantic has done some really smart things with this game, I think, that make it easy for people to like each other no matter what team they’re on because we’ve all got this fun game in common.

  1. There is no world-wide competition for control in which one team wins and one team loses. Your teams compete for individual gyms, sure, but there’s no overall contest to bring that kind of competitiveness into play. And with the gyms, you only really care about them long enough for you go sit on a few and then collect your coins once a day. Regaining control of a gym isn’t that arduous once you’re at a decent level, and the premium currency you get for control of an individual gym is nice, but not necessary. You can have a hell of a lot of fun with this game without ever having one of your Pokémon occupying a gym. So this keeps the competitiveness at a more personal, manageable level, and I think that means there’s a lot less rancor to go around, a lot less division between the teams.
  2. No one controls Poké Stops. While gyms belong to teams, anyone can use a Stop and get good things out of it. This is markedly different from Ingress, where you can hack portals your team doesn’t control, but the portal will damage you, and you often get less equipment (or sometimes nothing at all) out of it.
  3. Everyone can catch the same Pokémon as long as they’re in the same place, and lures benefit everyone. So there’s no artificial scarcity to make us feel like we should be keeping Pokémon spawns secret. And then it feels good to share, because we’re all excited about the same thing! You can be happy for someone when they get a great throw, and commiserate with them when that goddamn Abra pops out of their Pokéball and fucks off. Because we’ve all been there now.
  4. There is no global chat feature in game. People are much more likely to be nice and even kind to each other when speaking in person. I’m beyond glad that there is no option for anonymous trash talking in this game, and not just because there are a lot of kids who play. (See also, the lack of direct chat feature in Hearthstone has made that a much more pleasant experience.)

They’re finding a good balance here, of giving us just enough that people who like competitive things can feel competitive about gyms, but the main challenge is still always against yourself. You’re the one who has to try to catch all the Pokémon if you’re a completist. No one can really hinder you on that, but they can help you a little. I keep hearing that a trading feature will be online soon, which I think could also be good–I’m just really hoping they don’t restrict trading to only people on your team. So far, they’ve done such a good job with making the teams something fun, rather than restrictive and divisive.

I like the fact that I spent yesterday at the park, sitting at a picnic table with two guys from Team Fouler and they taught me how to throw curve balls. I like that a couple of random ten year old boys high-fived me because we’re all on Team Mistake. I like that a little old lady with gray hair stopped me in Roosevelt Park a couple days ago to let me know there was Pikachu hanging around by the flagpoles.

IMG_1550

Dammit, Pokémon Go, you weren’t supposed to be this cool.

Tangentially related: I wrote a silly list of Books to Read at the Poké Stop

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

[Movie] Ghostbusters (2016)

Warning: depending upon your spoiler sensitivity level, you may want to skip the plot synopsis (red) until after you’ve seen the film.

Ghostbusters (2016) comes to us in a world saturated with sequels and remakes and reboots that no one wanted, needed, or asked for—and finally, we get a reboot we actually deserve.

I have a lot of love in my heart for 1984’s original Ghostbusters, which came out in theaters when I was way too young to see it. I remember my parents showing me the movie when I was a bit older, and recall that I thought the first ghost in the library was absolutely fucking terrifying, and that Egon was my favorite ghostbuster. I have a moderate little wad of affection for the at-times cringe-worthy sequel, Ghostbusters 2. I got up extra early on Saturday mornings for years so I could watch The Real Ghostbusters cartoon series. I owned action figures. My Ghostbusters love is not a matter for debate.

Two years ago, for the thirtieth anniversary of the movie, I got to watch Ghostbusters (1984) properly in a movie theater. It was still funny, and fun, and I still loved it to pieces. But it broke my heart a little when adult me noticed the incredibly creepy sexism of Venkman that child me skated around and just thought was at worst an endearing quirk.

And now today, I rode my bike over to a movie theater so I could eat some overpriced popcorn and watch a new Ghostbusters that made it all better.

On its surface, this new Ghostbusters has a lot in common plot-wise with the old Ghostbusters. A team of scientific-minded paranormal investigators starts catching ghosts in New York City and notices that the ghastly activity is ramping way the hell up. They’re called frauds by some and loved by others. They figure out their technology, realize what the hell is going on, and try unsuccessfully to stop the coming spiritual apocalypse. Then it’s showdown time.

But one twist that really marks the departure from the original is that the villain of Ghostbusters (2016) isn’t an apartment building or an ancient god, but an ordinary man named Rowan (Neil Casey) who might as well be a stand-in for every internet neckbeard who’s been desperately trying to slime the movie since its inception. His entire motivation is anger at the world for not recognizing his genius and throwing itself at his feet—and it’s made absolutely explicit when he says as much to Abby (Melissa McCarthy) and she points out yes, this is the same sort of thing all of the female ghostbusters deal with daily. The difference is they lack Rowan’s profound sense of entitlement.

Makes you wonder how much of Rowan’s role (and his amazing sideburns) got scripted after the internet backlash started up. There’s also some delicious pokes about people being jerks in youtube comments.

In a way, 2016’s Ghostbusters is a film in dialog with its original. It reaches for the things that made the original film so great—the humor, the inherent ridiculousness of the supernatural crossing into an otherwise ordinary world, and ghosts that are just scary enough to make the stakes feel real without crossing the line into horror. It borrows a few of everyone’s favorite beats from the original (the team’s first encounter with a ghost, something giant destroying the city, etc) but turns them sideways enough to make it feel like a joke between friends, a wink, not outright copying like we felt from The Force Awakens. The story of Ghostbusters 2016 is very much its own, and the characters have their own lives. There is no female Egon, Venkman, Ray, or Winston—we get Abby, Erin, Holtzmann and Patty and they are decidedly themselves. It’s a parallel universe in which the events of 1984 never happened, but we can still see beloved old landmarks like the firehouse.

And it’s a reaction to the less-than-stellar parts of the 1984 film, tweaking them, mocking them, and holding a mirror up to them. Instead of an all-male team, we get an all-female team. Instead of Janine as the receptionist and Dana Barrett as the victim of both ghosts and Venkman’s creeping, we get Chris Hemsworth as the puppyishly dumb beefcake receptionist Kevin. And while Erin (Kristen Wiig) does a bit of objectifying and creeping at Kevin of her own, she notably doesn’t get rewarded for it at the end with a relationship.

This is Kevin. He would like to know which of these pictures makes him look more like a scientist.

This is Kevin. He would like to know which of these pictures makes him look more like a doctor.

The one part of the Ghostbusters (1984) legacy that 2016 doesn’t face so head-on is the profound injustice done to the character of Winston Zeddemore, the only non-white ghostbuster in the original. Ernie Hudson has written with heartbreaking eloquence about his experience of Winston’s character being diminished, of disappearing as the “soul” of the original team. There was a chance to have made that completely right with Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones)—and the movie does make a start. From the moment she appears, Patty is knowledgeable, independent, and determined. She decides to join the team because she feels she has valuable skills and wants to be part of the action. And from that moment, she is an integral part of the Ghostbusters who doesn’t ever disappear from the screen. She is undeniably the soul of the team that Winston was supposed to be. But listening to her get diminished as the only non-scientist was still damned painful.

So you get all of the above meta meatiness, and then the movie is fucking hilarious. I laughed more at this film than I ever laughed at the original. The end credits sequence alone almost killed me. The four women who make up the team are all excellent comedians in their own right, and what they make together is hilarious magic. Even better, they form a solid team of close friends—and the film never resorts to the sort of in-team friction as plot driver that we’ve seen in every damn Avengers-adjacent film. The fact that this is happening in an all-female team, where the women support each other and protect each other, feels even more profound because that is still so unusual, particularly in comedy.

Chris Hemsworth deserves his own paragraph here as well, for his amazing turn as a lovable buffoon who is a walking non sequitur with extremely nice pecs. This is probably the best role I’ve ever seen him in, and you can tell he’s having a hell of a good time—and so is everyone else, including all of the major castmembers of 1984’s Ghostbusters. There’s a Stan Lee-esque cameo in the film for each one of them, every appearance more delightful than the rest. Bill Murray wears a fedora. This is not a drill.

Perhaps the thing I’m the least thrilled about in the whole film were the CGI ghosts (though the mannequin was damned creepy) for the same reason I’m generally not thrilled any time there’s a lot of obvious CGI in a live action film. It’s less egregious when it’s ghosts, because they’re not supposed to look entirely real anyway, but there were too many of them. It felt like action for the sake of having an action sequence and using some of the special effects budget.

But really? It was hella fun. I’m going to see it again. I’m going to buy it when it comes out for home video and watch it regularly. And I’m going to cross my fingers and hope that if 2016 gets a Ghostbusters 2, it’ll be a damn sight better than the original.

And yet, I still can’t say that I love it more than I loved the 1984 movie. I don’t think that’s a judgment on the quality of the 2016 version, but rather an artifact of the original film being so ingrained as part of my nerd psyche. I grew up watching that movie. My older brother was a freaking ghostbuster one Halloween. The original, warts and all, is indelibly in my blood. And with that history in my head, the 2016 film will always feel a little derivative, a little unoriginal even if it does everything better than the first film did and I can watch it without cringing every time Bill Murray and Sigourney Weaver are on screen together.

What I do wonder is how it will feel to those for whom Ghostbusters (2016) is their first love, and they go back to watch the 1984 film. I wouldn’t be surprised if this new one, with its hilarious women and doofy male receptionist accidentally poking himself in the eyes, will be their favorite, and rightfully so.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

[Movie] Warcraft

It says a lot that it’s been something like two weeks since I saw Warcraft and I’m only now writing about it. Mostly because… honestly? I don’t have a lot to say.

The thing you need to understand here is that I’ve played all the original Warcraft RTS games, and devoted more hours of my life than I’m willing to actually count to World of Warcraft. So there is a huge part of me that cannot look at this film in an uncritical way because other criticisms aside, it looked like Warcraft. It’s gorgeous. My god, the humans go flying around on gryphons, HOW COOL IS THAT. The orcs look great. AND OH MY GOD THAT WAS DUROTAN FROSTWOLF CLAN REPRESENT and KHADGAR JUST SHEEPED THAT GUY DID YOU SEE THAT OH MY FUCK and–and–and–

This was a big part of my teenage and twenty-something gamer years, splashed out on the screen and looking cool. I knew the story going in. I knew the characters. I just about shit myself over Gul’dan in the first two minutes.

But this is the thing. I can take a step back and try to address it from the perspective of someone who hasn’t been a fan of the Warcraft franchise, and in that case, the movie is severely wanting. Seriously, if you don’t know who Khadgar is, if you haven’t run the Karazhan raid a million times and known in the marrow of your bones what a dickbag Medivh is, does any of it come out to more than just-so stories and alphabet name soup? From what my few friends who went in canon-blind to see it had to say afterward, the answer is no. The characters aren’t nearly as exciting and compelling when you have no idea where they’re going to be going or what their significance is to a world you’ve never been to. There’s way too many characters, way too much going on in the film, and way too much unspoken backstory that fans can and will fill in easily, but leaves everyone else scratching their heads. Even some of the hand-waving orc culture stuff was a bit much for me, and I knew what was coming.

And that makes me sad to say it, but I also don’t know if there’s really a solution. Warcraft was going to either be a movie that the fans like me would love, or it would be a movie that people unacquainted with the lore could really sink their teeth into. I honestly never thought it was going to be the latter, because translating this much sprawling lore into something you can consume and feel satisfied by in a feature? That’s one hell of a tall task, and at that point would it be recognizable as Warcraft any more? But goddamn, if you’re a fan, it was an amazing two hours. The real question on my mind now is if the film’s going to make enough money for there to be more. It hasn’t done so hot in the US ($45 million so far, oof), but it’s been doing much better internationally ($376 million). I’d love to see another film. I want Thrall: The Movie. I’m hoping I get it, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

But damn you Blizzard, now I want to re-up my WoW account.

By the way, I recently also saw Now You See Me 2. I decided to write up my review of that for my Patreon subscribers only, so if you’re curious, all it takes is a buck.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

Tags:

[Movie] Independence Day: Resurgence

In news that should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever spent five minutes in a room with me, I enjoyed the hell out of this movie.

Please note here, I am not going to make any claims that it is a good movie, by whatever measure of good you want to pretend is in some way objective. To me? It was fun, it was enjoyable, I want to see it again, but it certainly was not: innovative, groundbreaking, special, excellent, unexpected, exceptional, or artful. On the other hand, you have seen the original Independence Day, right? It wasn’t any of those things either, but it was hella fun and caused the consumption of mass quantities of popcorn. Considering the size of the shared popcorn bucket my friend and I consumed in ID:R, we’re right on track.

Independence Day: Resurgence takes place 20 years after the first invasion. Humanity has recovered, the world’s basically become multinational and peaceful thanks to humans having something bigger to worry about killing than each other, and alien technology has been incorporated fully into this alternate 2016. On the anniversary celebration of humanity’s epic win, people who were psychically exposed to the aliens (like Bill Pullman’s President Whitmore, prematurely aged by the experience) are Having A Bad Feeling About This. The aliens show back up in an even more ridiculously enormous ship that has even less of a passing relationship with physics as we know it, and decide to drill to Earth’s nougatty center because reasons. It’s up to the old and new generations to fight impossible odds and save the Earth again, though this time there might be some mysterious help that I won’t describe further because it’s a bit of a spoiler.

There were a few things here that were a bit stupid even for me, which had me rolling my eyes at the movie rather than grinning along with the fun dumbness of it–namely the 3000-mile-wide alien mothership (for reference, that gives is a bigger diameter than the Moon) that has its own personal gravity field when it’s convenient for the purposes of special effects and then doesn’t every other time. If nothing else, even if it’s got a larger diameter than the Moon, it’s not spherical, so I have a hard time believing that it actually out-masses the moon; beyond that, the Earth is still a hell of a lot bigger. And while I don’t come to movies like this for the science–GOODNESS NO–that was a bit too dumb even for my popcorn-addled brain. Particularly when the disaster special effects that it’s used to explain really are a bit to the boring side. At some point, the thing you’re attempting to blow up is just too big and impersonal and it looks like you’re throwing a box of tinkertoys up in the air. The whole “drilling to the Earth’s core” thing was also derisive snort-worthy, particularly when they had to find a melodramatic way to ratchet up the ticking clock even more. Then again, basically any alien invasion movie that works under the assumption that the aliens are after some kind of resource we have (most often water) that they can suck away and leave Earth a lifeless husk really shows laziness on the part of the writers; either they don’t know that any resource of that nature on Earth can be found more easily and more abundantly by harvesting asteroids and comets, or they just don’t care.

That said? I loved pretty much everything else. Many of the beats in this film mirrored ID4; fair enough since they are both alien invasion films and big budget action tentpoles, which means there will be certain required beats that have to be met. But those story beats are accompanied by a world that has indelibly changed in 20 years, and that keeps it from feeling like an exact retread. To me, the best part of ID:R really was the alternate 2016 imagined in the film. The alien technology incorporated into human military technology makes for some fun variation on standard alien invasion fare, because it does touch on something that so often gets ignored–of course we’d try to figure out what makes the technology tick and then incorporate the helpful bits to prepare for the next invasion. And it makes the fun point that after twenty years of prep time, humanity has really stepped up its game–while the aliens are pretty much coming at us with the same bag of tricks they had before. The film tries to address the aftermath of so much worldwide destruction in the first movie, including the large number of orphans left behind, and the effect that had on the kids who have grown up and are now taking on a fight they’ve believed might be coming for their whole lives. Even the fact that the older generation told those kids that if the fight came, they’d be ready, and they’d win again is brought in–as a moment where the older characters fight off despair and try to find a way to keep that promise. (Look at the Baby Boomers and Millenials cooperating in alternate 2016; all it took was a world-wide disaster induced by alien invasion.) I loved the world of ID:R. I loved the setup it makes as a springboard for another film that promises to be significantly different.

International cooperation is placed at the forefront. The casting is more diverse in a lot of ways than in ID4. I loved Rain Lao (Angelababy) and Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe) flying jet-spaceship hybrids around. Both old characters and new had great moments, the only exception being I’m still not sure what purpose Julius Levinson (Judd Hirsch) really served in the narrative. Things get blown up. Aliens get punched in the face. Female fighter pilots get to be badass. American exceptionalism has been replaced by human exceptionalism, which is still cringe-worthy in context, but a vast improvement that cannot be understated. But my favorite part? The return of Dr. Okun, and I have very specific reasons for that, which I’ll explain past the spoiler wall.

At any rate, if you’re looking for dumb, explodey fun to accompany shoving popcorn into your food hole, I recommend it. I enjoyed the hell out of this movie.

Brief SPOILER discussion below

Read the rest of this entry »

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

Alternate Titles for X-Men: Apocalypse

X-MEN:

The Best Apology for X3 We’ll Get Because Seppuku Isn’t Exactly Legal

The Perfect Mohawk Storm

We Need to Talk About Erik

A Decade Later and Charles and Erik Are Still Arguing About Who Broke That Fucking Pickle Dish

Marriage Counseling Would Be Cheaper Than an Apocalypse

You Sure Don’t Look Ten Years Older

Moira McTaggert and the Chamber of SNAFU

The Chronicles of Xavier’s Hair

Thank Fuck Wolverine Is Only a Cameo

You Can Find Erik’s Family in the Refrigerated Section Next to Our Selection of Fine Pastas

Nightcrawler (No, Not the Creepy Sociopathic Reporter, the Blue Guy in a Michael Jackson Jacket)

That Can’t Be Scott, He’s Not Nearly Enough of a Dick

Okay But Where Is Our PG-Rated Jubilee Movie?

Skynet Did It Better OR Never Send An Immortal Douchebag Mutant to Do a Computer’s Job

A Complete Waste of Oscar Isaac’s Talents

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

Been Busy Not Living in Texas

I can’t believe it’s been ten days since I finished my move. Where the fuck has the time gone? I feel like I just got here, and yet…

I won’t say that I regret the time I spent in Houston. That would be grossly unfair to the wonderful coworkers and the stimulating and fun work that I got to do until I experienced my “change of employment.” (Apparently that’s the term all the cool kids are using on their job applications these days.) But I never made a secret of how awful everything that wasn’t work ended up feeling to me.

I think when you grow up in Colorado, there are certain things you take for granted, including just being able to throw on your hiking books, step out your back door, and walk for miles. Houston is an endless city, far larger than Denver ever prepared me for. And even when you’re downtown in Denver, you can look west, see the mountains, and know that you can be there in an hour, climbing the Flatirons.

I’ve missed this place so much, in ways I don’t even know how to describe. Ways I didn’t know until I was driving a rented minivan (containing my bicycle, computer, and plants aka Delta and the Spice Girls) and with every mile I just felt lighter and lighter. Every other drive to or from Houston, I’ve always taken three days and felt absolutely exhausted at the end of it. This one I did in two, and it exhilarating in a way that hours on end in a minivan have no right to be. When we (my friend Corina kept me company so I didn’t have to do the drive alone) crossed the border into Colorado, I stopped at the first gas station so I could get out and hug the eight mile marker on highway 287. I wandered around with a ridiculous grin on my face, answering anyone who asked me how I was doing, “I don’t have to live in Houston ever again!”

I expected it to take a week for me to get acclimatized to the altitude again. Instead, the day after I arrived, I took out my bike, checked my tire pressure, and went for a 13 mile ride, just because I could. Like I never left, except I wasn’t this good at hill climbing four years ago.
IMG_1265There are still a hundred scary challenges waiting for me. I’m unemployed and trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to do with myself. Geology job pickings right now are so slim, they might as well be nonexistent. I still have pile of student debt gnawing at my heels that I’m scared to look at straight on. I miss my best friend Mike, and I miss my cats.

Yet I feel so much more alive. I don’t know if I was unhappy in Houston precisely, but I feel as if layers of lead and grime have peeled off of me and fallen in my wake. I can ride forever, the mountains are in the west where they belong, and the sky is so blue.

I’m home.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

A life in boxes

So I’m now t-minus two days from the movers arriving to put 95% of my possessions into a couple of shipping containers where they’ll live for the next couple of months until I get my living situation in Colorado settled. And t-minus five days from embarking on the long drive back up to Colorado. (Without my cats; the boys are staying with Mike until, again, my living situation is settled, and bless Mike for that.)

I used to think that moving was pretty much the worst thing in the world, but I’ve stumbled across something even more awful, which is moving while you have a hideous cold. I wish I could regale you with awesome anecdotes from my first ever Nebula weekend, but to be honest it’s mostly a cough-syrup-colored blur, though I do remember Alyssa Wong’s absolutely fabulous dress. And that I managed to hand her award over to her without either dropping it or getting snot on it, so I feel like I stuck my landing as a presenter.

Here’s hoping I can make the Nebula weekend next year (fingers crossed for gainful employment) and not be sick for it this time so I can actually talk to people and shake hands and stuff.

For now, I’m going to go back to wandering around my apartment, searching for things that still need to be tossed into a box before the major project of packing my portion of the kitchen tomorrow.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

Thank you, dear friends, THANK YOU.

No shit, we did it.

Some time as I was dozing in a cold medicine fog while being shot through the sky in a pressurized metal tube between Chicago and Houston, the Kickstarter finished, and we not only had full funding, but we hit all three stretch goals. So y’all are gonna get 24 stories that I love to pieces, plus a piece of line art to go with each story, plus I get to pay my writers more. This latter is incredibly important to me as someone who is also a writer. Any time writers in general get a bigger paycheck, I’m happy.

At this moment I’m finally home, fighting off the mucus demon that has taken up residence in my sinuses. My cats have gone from vengefully ignoring me to clinging, and half of everything I own is in boxes. This has been a crazy, incredibly stressful month (and over the next week as I get ready to move back to Colorado, it’s only going to get crazier and more stressful), so seeing this project of mine finish strong has been a welcome boost.

I’m stunned and ecstatic that 466 people wanted to support this book. Thank you. Thank you.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.


IT’S THE FINAL STORY

The Kickstarter is almost over, but you still have a couple days, and here’s the final reason you should support us if I somehow haven’t convinced you yet with the other 23 amazeballs stories. How about this for a slice of fried gold: Skinwalker, Fast Talker by Darcie Little Badger.

There are so many ways in which I love this story, because it’s got so many layers to it. Mel, an Apache woman who is a “journalist” for a National Enquirer-style rag called Bimonthly Weird Online gets shown a video of a guy who just scammed her nephew out of a bunch of money and may or may not be Coyote himself. So she does what any journalist would do: she investigates.

On one level, it’s funny as all hell–Coyote dresses like a PUA and drenches himself in Axe body spray. And I love a good human versus trickster story, cunning versus cunning. On a deeper level, it touches on the struggle to maintain culture and memory in a world where Mel’s nephew is more likely to learn about “skinwalkers” via garbled Hollywood film efforts than from people in the know. It’s about the problems Mel and her nephew face in a society that doesn’t always treat them kindly because of who they are.

This is a fun, clever story with a big heart hidden just under the gross pelt quilt and the Axe body spray. I loved it from the first line, and I think you’re going to love it too.

Train is leaving the station, guys! Support the Kickstarter, get the book cheaper and earlier than those who miss the deadline.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

No Sh!t, There I Was: Blush Response

So no shit, there we are, a couple hundred bucks from the first stretch goal for the Kickstarter! WOOHOO, EVERYONE! Go go go, let’s get illustrations in this baby and then a pay raise for the writers.

There are only two stories left in the table of contents, so which one will RNGesus pick today? It’s Blush Response by E. Catherine Tobler.

I was surprised and incredibly honored to see a story from Elise land in my slush pile. I’ve read her short stories for years, and if you’re not familiar with her work–well, what’s wrong with you? Go work your way through her bibliography, you won’t be sorry. She writes absolutely beautiful prose, words that are rich and alive and just a bit alien. She’s got a way of looking at things, of writing stories that provides them such depth, and I’m unabashedly envious of her skill.

And she did not deviate from that record in the slightest with Blush Response. It’s a black and white, roaring 20s gangster movie of a story. Quite literally black and white, a world of grayscale, in which color is a foreign mark left by the hands of “Shine Girls,” used as a torture and a warning. Our pin curl and suit-sporting main gangster Lola has gotten her hands on one such Shine Girl, named Wonderly, by the simple mechanism of having kidnapped her from the control of another gang. Lola? Is not a nice person.

Wonderly and Lola are fascinating characters with a dynamic I might have mentally written some fanfiction about. This is another of those stories where I hope, hope, hope there’s more, because Elise has given us a fascinating world driven by deep currents of emotional struggle.

And the main character is a female gangster named Lola. I AM ONLY HUMAN, PEOPLE.

All this begins with Lola’s “No shit, there I was…” Support the Kickstarter and you get this and 23 other awesome stories. Time’s running out, go!

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

Latest Month

July 2016
S M T W T F S
     12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31      

Tags

Syndicate

RSS Atom
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Paulina Bozek