THE MUSEUM OF IRONY
That’s what we Winnipeggers call the Museum of Human Rights, that giant monument to the vanity of the Aspers. Some people call it the Museum of Tolerance, after the old South Park episode.
It might be a little cruel, but Manitobans are cynical people. It’s the winters, I think. Survive a Manitoba winter, the slush, the snow, the fifty degrees below zero freezes, the endless promise of warmer weather just around the corner, to be replaced by the next big freeze or snowfall… well, after that, you just stop believing in anyone or anything.
Still, I am a Maritimer by birth, and for all the innate ferocity, cruelty and enthusiastic brutality beneath our welcoming smiles, there is a tiny shred of moral decency beneath it all. So I feel just a little bit bad about what I’m about to write.
But not that bad.
I visited the Museum of Human Rights today. I was very impressed by their inclusion of Buffy St. Marie’s picture in their gallery of indigenous people, the inclusion of her music in the same gallery. It gladdens my heart to see that the Museum affirms the importance of that much overlooked indigenous group, the Pretendians, to the cause of human rights. Apparently there is no greater testament to cultural integrity than the theft of it.
Oh well, that’s the Museum of Human Rights for you. Honestly, it’s none of my business. The status of Buffy St. Marie to the indigenous community is a matter for the indigenous community to decide, not for me. I just accept their consensus. If the Museum has its own views on the matter, that’s a conversation between them and the indigenous community.
And I’ll say no more about it.
I might buy some popcorn though.
I’ve been to the Museum of Human Rights a few times though. My honest impression?
Sorry about the title. I couldn’t help myself. Oddly, when I went to see it on a Wednesday evening after a few weeks running, the theatre was unexpectedly full, so it does seem to have a buzz.
Anyway, I walked into the beekeeper and expected it to be silly violent trash. And it was! Don’t get me wrong about that. Totally silly violent trash. Met all expectations in that regard.
But here’s the interesting thing.
It was actually about something. Not bees, that’s the excuse for a lot of silly puns.
There was stuff going on, thinking-type stuff: The central idea of the beekeeper, is that we’re all prey. That all of are literally at the mercy of predators looking to strip us bare, and that the people and agency we are actually relying on to protect us either aren’t doing it, can’t be bothered, or are actually in on it.
There are actually ideas here.
And a lot of violence. Crazy amounts of violence.
But yeah, dig down, there’s an idea powering all that violent energy, like a nuclear reactor with a pile of sweaty men on top of it.
The opening is all about this nice little old retired lady. She gets a pop up on her computer, it’s a phishing expedition, and before you know it, scammers strip mine her entire life savings. She’s us. She’s all of us. She’s everyone.
Most of us own a computer, a lap top, a smart phone or something, The one thing we all have in common is phishing attempts. Scammers trying to get through at us. Count them up. I’m probably getting a thousand phishing attempts a year, maybe ten thousand, on my phone, in my emails, sent to me through social media. I can’t go on facebook without fighting my way through a cloud of paid advertisers most of them running scams. We’re literally walking around in a blizzard of this stuff.
And you know what? You’re screwed. You hear about giant corporations, law firms, businesses of all kinds getting hit with scams and hackers. They have IT departments, they have teams of professionals up on the latest hijinx, and they get hit all the time.
Well, you don’t have an IT department. At best, you’re an average shlub wandering around, with a bunch of electronics we use but barely understand, in the middle of all this. We’re roadkill. Odds are, sooner or later, at some point in your life. You’re going to get hit, and hopefully you’ll be lucky. But none of us are safe.
And there’s no law enforcement to speak of. There’s no protection. If you get your credit card scammed, your bank account lifted, if you get held ransom by malware… no one is going to do anything. Not the police, not the NSA or CIA. You’re on your own, buddy. Outnumbered, outgunned, outthought, getting hit on a thousand or ten thousand times a year, year after year. And no matter how smart you are, you only have to make a mistake once, and they’re in.
This is what the beekeeper is all about. It’s about the fact that it’s wall to wall predators out there, people ready to strip you of your life savings, always prying and pushing, always waiting for you to make that mistake, and you’re… Alone. You’re prey.
What I’m going to say is going to come as close to blasphemy as we can get in this secular age, and it’s going to provoke an immediate and visceral reaction. Well, hear me out anyway.
Maybe it’s time for America to switch sides in the middle-east and back Iran. Let’s just partner up, take Iran as our strategic representative and local hegemon in the region.
Yep. I can hear the heads exploding all over America.
“But, but, but the hostage crisis…” Yep, that was back in 1979, forty-five years ago.
“But Iran is a THEOCRACY!!!” So is Saudi Arabia for all intents and purposes, with the added advantages of being a corrupt feudal monarchy. There’s not a lot to choose from in the middle east: Feudal monarchic dictatorships, basket cases, incredibly dysfunctional societies.
“Their human rights record!” Terrible. As is the human rights records of all the countries we support in the middle east, Israel included. And looking at the big picture, the political realities have lead to the US supporting or tolerating some read hose-bags around the world.
“But they’re our sworn enemies!” Yep. We have a lot of enemies and challengers. Russia, China are both much bigger and more dangerous than Iran. Everyone from Europe, to Brazil, to India and Indonesia is a competitor on some level. Hell, Pakistan is nominally in our corner, sometimes, and it’s a giant pain in the ass that sheltered Osama Bin Laden.
So let me make the case.
This is an interview I didn for Bill Hillman’s ERBZINE – the largest Edgar Rice Burroughs fansite in the world, covering Tarzan, Mars, Venus, the Inner Earth, the Land that Time Forgot and many more. Bill, as it turns out is practically a neighbor, living only a couple of hundred miles away.
I grew up with the pulps, reading Tarzan, John Carter, Conan, but also Lovecraft, Asimov, Clark, Heinlein and many more, and I found different things to love about each of them. This interview talked about my growing experiences with Burroughs and his exotic worlds, particularly Barsoom, the strange turns I took as a writer and explores my career from that perspective. Anyway, check it out.
TORAKOR OF MARS
Someone passed this on to me. My book The Mermaid’s Tale, got a review on youtube.
I had no idea. I thought this might have been a person I met at CanCon. As it was, it turned out to be a complete stranger.
Spoiler Alert – She liked it!
I went and thanked her for the review, a week or so ago. She seemed thrilled.
Anyway, feel free to look it up.
And if you like the review, hit ‘like and subscribe’ – she seems like an interesting thoughtful person and she’s got lots of other interesting things to say about writers, culture and life.
If you listen to youtube, you’ll discover that Kathleen Kennedy is the worst person who ever lived.
Seriously, it’s between her and Hitler, and Hitler is old news.
She’s the woman who ruined Star Wars, and Indiana Jones, and Willow maybe, and possibly all of Disney including, the Marvel universe, Pixar, Bob Iger. She may well have single handedly destroyed Hollywood with WOKENESS and may be on the verge of taking down all of Western Civilization and turning us all into race swapping, transgender, feminist, gay, disabled communists.
Probably not, but the way people have been ranting for years on end, you have to wonder.
Well, let me step up and take a run at this hysteria. I give you: The Defense of Kathleen Kennedy.
The story is that Kennedy was an assistant to Steven Spielberg and George Lucas who treacherously flattered her way into power at Disney. George Lucas sold Star Wars to Disney and he arranged for Kenney to run things, confident that she’d carry out his vision.
Then she stabbed him in the back, stuck women in everything, made them gay and lame. For no good reason, she raped all your childhoods in her quest to bring Wokeness and Feminism to an innocent world. And totally destroyed … Everything, everywhere, and all at once.
Give me a break,
This whole ‘anti-woke’ stuff is getting tiresome, and it’s been a long time since it’s been useful.
Look, she’s not a monster. She’s not Hitler, she’s not Harvey Weinstein. She’s just a person.
So let’s take another look.
Kathleen Kennedy has actually been around for an incredibly long time. You look at IMDB, and she’s got a lot of credits, and a lot of very good movie credits. Well over a hundred producer credits, going back 40 years – Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Schindlers List, Bridges of Madison County, Back to the Future. You name it. Protégé of Lucas and Spielberg.
Good movies – if you’ve seen a movie in the last half century probably it was one of hers.
So what went wrong?
I’m going to commit sacrilege – when she took over Lucasfilm, she inherited a dog.
Writing Accomplishments and Non Accomplishments
Well, here’s the year end writer’s status report. There’s nothing much to say, really. You don’t have to read this. Every year, around New Years, out of some masochistic impulse, I do a review of my writing activities and accomplishments for the year, and my plans for the next year. Sometimes I’ll go back after writing one of these things, and measure myself against previous years activities and plans. So in the spirit of talking to my future self, here’s the roundup for 2023.
Early in February, I re-released the Mermaid’s Tale. This novel was originally published in 2017 through Five Rivers out in Ontario. They did print, ebook and audiobook editions. Five Rivers closed down in 2020, and rights reverted back to me.
I sat on it for a few years. I had hopes of finding another publisher, or an agent for it. No luck. So, basically, I decided that if I couldn’t take it anywhere, I might as well get it back into the world, so I re-released it under my own banner.
Apart from that, very little of my work got out in the world. I did do a lot of writing as always. I think probably a couple of hundred thousand words worth.
* Two Novellas, 27,000 and 40,000 words;
* Several short stories and a script, probably collectively another 50,000 words;
* Some work in progress stuff for upcoming collections, 40,000 words;
* Alt-History fanfic stuff (don’t judge me) maybe 60,000 to 70,000;
* A lot of short essays, mostly posted on medium or facebook or on my blog, no clear idea – anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000.
A lot of writing, and almost nothing to show for it. Rather disappointing.
There were actually a lot of books that I was going to complete and release this year that just didn’t get off the ground:
* An adult/erotic novel;
* A couple of erotic short story collections (it was going to be one, but I had enough material for two);
* A vampire novel;
* A slasher collection/novel;
* A nonfiction book about Starlost;
* A Cthulhu/Atlantis style spec essay book;
And I was hoping At Bay Press would be releasing Twilight of Echelon this year.
Recently, I came across a year end wrap up by Ron Vital, a writer. Basically, he’s been working at this writing thing pretty hard core. And he’s been doing annual wrap ups, providing detailed breakdowns in terms of his expenses, his sales, his sales breakdowns and his marketing and promotional efforts going back six or seven years.
In some ways, we’re pretty similar. We’ve both been self publishing for about the same length of time. We’ve both kind of had this lead time of the first few years not making very much. We’ve both moved up dramatically in sales in the last few years. We both write and publish a mixture of fiction and non-fiction. We both have a lot of books.
Where Ron differs from me is that he’s much more meticulous about keeping track of what he’s spending and how, what he’s trying, where the money is going, and whether it produces a return. He’s also deliberately investing more and heavily into selling his books.
Now for me, I pretty much do no marketing at all. No bookbub, no book funnel, no amazon ads, facebook ads, no newsletter, etc. etc Certainly not in the methodical and meticulous way that he does it.
So here are the awkwards. He is heavy duty working at marketing, to the point where for most years he went heavily into the red. His last two years, he netted a profit of about $25 and then $500 (mostly by reducing expenses).
But we made about the same amount of money in terms of gross sales and revenue. Actually, I think I’ve consistently done better. Not necessarily by huge gigantic increments. But in terms of grosses, I think I’m about $500 to $1000 ahead.