Monday, April 25, 2011

reader mail

People is always asking me when I'm going to post on the blog again. I never know in advance, but it would help if I had topics or questions to answer. That's why I want people to leave more comments. Also, you'll notice that a lot of the things I say are confusing. This is because I want you to ask questions. You can use the convenient comment system on this page, or Facebook. Or give me a question in meatspace, and I'll retype it from meat memory. To get this going, here are some Frequently Asked Questions that I'm honestly not making up, except for the second one:

Q: When are you going to post on the blog?
A: See above.

Q: What if I'm reading this upside down?
A: Then I guess you're screwed.

Q: Did you go to Iraq?
A: No.

Q: Have you ever regretted joining the Marines?
A: Not for a second. There is plenty of bullshit to deal with, but it's no worse than the kind of bullshit out in the real world. It's just different. And I like variety.

Q: Why do they always send the poor?
A: The poor will do anything. I met a guy who would drop a nuke in a bug hole for a six pack.

Q: Why not active duty?
A: Field day. It's a weekly cleaning marathon and inspection, where you lose points for each speck of dust found. That's the kind of stuff I don't want to live with constantly. If I'm spending any great deal of time on duty, I at least want to be in another country.

Q: Oh, so it's all about you, right?
A: Semper I.

Q: Why don't you write about your drill weekends?
A: They're boring as hell. There are fun things that happen, but they don't translate well to written description. One thing I was surprised to learn about Marines was that they're funny as fuck, especially those who have been in for a few years. The Corps inadvertently trains us in expert comic timing and phrasing. It was funny how it clashed with my sense of humor, which is so much slower and deeper and harder to penetrate. Also, mine is completely portable between written and spoken media. I talk like a robot, which is lots of fun in itself. But they don't, so there isn't much to write about. I would smuggle out some video, but I don't want to go to nude prison.

Q: Why is your name Black if you're white?
A: I was actually born black, but I was so black that I absorbed all the sunlight in the hood.

Meanwhile, I finally saw Battle: LA. When I first read about it, I thought it was going to be a really terse musical. Seriously though, I was warned how formulaic and twistless it would be. But I was still surprised by the lack of surprise in this movie. Before the aliens even show themselves, a grunt tells his peeps to get ready for combat. Somehow he knew the aliens would be using infantry. It's impossible to explain how deeply infused this movie is with unsurprise. This is the opposite of what science fiction is supposed to be. How did this happen?

It's the perfect example of what happens to every mature science fiction subgenre.* A Hollywood producer sits in his office with assistants twiddling his thumbs, and thinks to himself, "Nobody's done a ______ movie just right yet." So he digs up the peaceful corpse of an HG Wells classic, reanimates it with the latest technology and gritty realism, and lets it loose to feast on the souls of the public. I'm not happy about my eaten soul, but it was worth it. We finally have an alien ground war movie done just right.

*Yes, I had to get up and take a cry break after typing that sentence.