Archive | July 2015

Uncle Josh Checks in with the Alternate Uncles

It’s been a while since I checked in with my alternate universe Joshes. Hearing that Google was deleting old GMail accounts, and knowing that I picked up this email address the day GMail went live, it’s one of the first, and as a generic address it is quite popular with anyone last name English whose first initial is J. That accounts for most of the 4,390 emails I have sitting over there, so let’s see what I’ve been up to;

  • I am still following the health of a priest or monk in White Plains, New York. This same person has also included me on death notices for folks I do not know. Sorry about your loss, Alternate Josh.
  • While pretending to be Julie, I have agreed to buy property in Decatur GA. The loan officer seems happy.
  • Apparently, as Jen, I’ve been to Sweden, and am expected back in Vancouver BC any time now, where I can sort out labor problems at a vinyard. I think this is spam, actually.
  • I’m going tenting in Virginia. The tent is 30′ by 30′. That’s pretty big.
  • I won a party at chain nightclub in Houston Texas.
  • I am getting emails in Spanish about the “largest industrial holding Russian producer of high civil and military technology.” Still.
  • I have missed my interview for a Commercial Portfolio Manager III position with Fifth Third bank in Chicago. These are the emails I really hate to see. Clearly someone really needed to see this, but this Alternate Josh doesn’t look all that often.
  • ACK! Teddy missed a playdate with Wil at somebodeys pool! I don’t know who Teddy is, of course.
  • I also missed a chance to play “Gawf” with the guys.
  • I drive a Kia, but one of me drives a Toyota, and has missed an appointment in Arlington Texas.

And this is just the mail that made it into the inbox. There’s 4000 more or so but I won’t bother. But, this being GMail, I have three other sections to check out. Other highlights include an insurance policy in Markham, Ontario, Canada, and I guess one of me moved to England because I’m getting offers in pounds, now, and discussions about tea.

The most amazing thing is there are very few sex-related emails in this. I’m getting daily updates from “Filthy over Fifty” which I’ve never even heard of (but it is British, and boy are they explicit in their emails), but these are much nicer emails than I’m getting from Golf Digest. I have 29 thousand emails in that folder alone.


Uncle Josh Checks in with the Alternate Uncles was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much

Uncle Josh reviews Ant-Man

Today I finally let myself see Ant-Man. Short review: Fun Flick. Go See.

Preview Review:

  • Batman v Superman (or whatever): Yawn. Let’s criticize the wanton destruction of Man of Steel with wanton destruction.
  • Star Wars Episode VII: Don’t break my heart. Please oh please do not break my heart.
  • Mission Impossible Rogue Nation: Won’t see it, because of capitalism.
  • Goosebumps: Definitely for the Netflix queue. This looks like it will be fun.

Slightly longer review: I don’t remember being an Avengers reader as  a kid, back whene there was really only one Avengers comic. When I returned to comics in adulthood* it was through Claremont and Davis’ Excalibur, and through that into the X-Men, and through the many years of X-everything and sort of disdain for anything “Team A”. I know some of the history of the Ant-Man character but not enough to be dogmatic.

I know both Hank Pym and Scott Lang wore the costome and took the name in the comic books, and I appreciate how this movie made that work. They’re dealing with comic characters created over 50 years ago; there’s a lot of history and storyline to deal with, and the MCU seems to be building up to a Jim Starlin Extravaganza. (I am for this, by the way.)

So they let the younger man take the lead, and it works. Lang is a catburglar trying to go straight, and not getting very far. He has a daughter who is as cute as a button and an ex-wife who is now engaged to a cop. I felt the writing was a bit heavy handed with the repeat of “be the hero your daughter thinks you are.” That may have been an attempt to tie in to the “second chances” theme, but it didn’t work so well for me.

I also feel like a nitpick goes to how quickly they crossed the country during the movie, and the whole bit about the raid on the Avengers, while fun, was not contextualized enough. All that means is they assumed anyone seeing Ant-Man had seen Avengers Age of Ultron.

Another nit-pick: Ant-Man hits a lot of people for someone claiming to be a pacifist.

The positives, though, are many (HERE BE SPOILERS): Scotts Ex-Wife doesn’t dump her fiancée to accept Scott back in her life, but she still accepts Scott back in her life. Scott’s kid is brave and solid, and while technically needs to be rescued there is a glimpse of the girl who won’t need rescuing later in life. Hope van Dyne is an unexpected love interest, but she sure as hell doesn’t need protecting, and would appear to be perfectly capable of handling the crap her father want to protect her from. She should be an equal partner to Ant-Man as the next Wasp.

Plot wise, the parallel between Pym and Lang works. Both men have fractured relationships with their daughters and desire to win their daughters back. Naturally, they have to do things they don’t want to do. Pym has to let go of some control, and Lang has to fight. Once Lang makes the decision, to take his second chance, though, he never looks back. He also never gives up.

This, I think, is the hallmark of the Marvel hero. Everyone gives up on the plan except Lang, and he finds a way through using the most amusing sidekicks. (I hope the DVD has a bunch of shorts with Luiz just telling stories.) There is no rallying cry moment, though. Lang doesn’t show doubt after he accepts the hero’s journey. Even though those around him are doubtful and feeling hopeless, he pushes on. Come to think of it, I don’t know if any of the other MCU heroes used a rallying cry. (For comparison, Aragorn gives a speech before battle at the black gates in The Return of The King, Shakespeare’s Henry V gives his St. Crispin’s Day speech.)

There is no pause for hopelessness, and perhaps that makes for a more lightheated hero movie. Maybe lighthearted is the wrong word, but the movie had more laughs in it than other MCU entries. I suppose when the villian is also threatened by a toy Thomas the Tank Engine, there’s a certain levity that cannot be avoided and therefore must be embraced, and embrace it they did.

* Well, adolesence allowed to drink

Uncle Josh reviews Ant-Man was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much

Uncle Josh Tries to Plot His Way out of a Paper Bag

Writing has been slow. Very slow. I used to be able to spit out large quantities of text and a good clip, but lately my muse has become tight-fisted with the words. The 100 prompts project? I’ve read 12 of them. I believe I should have been closed to finished by now.

The current story, based on a 7-sentence structure, seems to be crawling, even though I know exactly what I want to do with the story, and where each scene needs to go. The words just don’t flow. I seem to be freer with opinion these days, because I’ve always had a lot of opinions.

When I turn to my overfull pile of half finished manuscripts (excuse the hyperbole, they’re all in Google Docs so I no longer get the feeling of it being overstuffed), I find I don’t even know what the next action should be, and it’s hard to match the word to the action when the action is unknown. A lot of those halted starts are part of my hardboiled science fiction run, which I am still trying despite all the evidence that it’s barely working.

Hardboiled stories are mysteries, and I’ve yet to find a solid way to plot them, unless I know the crime first, and often it’s the victims and secondary characters that come first. I have a rogue’s gallery ready to go, it feels like.

I know the easiest answer is to quit bitching at get writing, so maybe I’ll shut up now.

Uncle Josh Tries to Plot His Way out of a Paper Bag was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much

Uncle Josh defends Atticus Finch

Okay, so I’ve heard all sorts of stuff about Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee’s “first novel” that didn’t wow publishers at the time but the next book, To Kill a Mockingbird, came out in 1960 and has been considered one of the great American novels of the 20th century.

The deluge of reactions to Watchman seem to be “Atticus Finch is a Racist” which appears to be the exact opposite of the man we meet in Mockingbird. It’s shocking. It’s almost libel.

There’s enough about the book and how it may be exploiting Lee, and that it was never meant to be published once it was shelved, to make me not want to read it. The stuff about Atticus being a member of the KKK is also hard to swallow. I’m probably going to decide that Watchman is in the same class as Highlander 2 and The Phantom Menace: a sequel that doesn’t really exist in a sane an rational world.

I maintain, however, that America needs Atticus Finch from Mockingbird. We need that good man who reacts to his own sense of justice. At every turn, he takes the higher road (as my memory of Mockingbird tells me). Several years ago the American Film Institute ran a special about the greatest heroes and villains of the movies. Best Villain: Darth Vader. Best Hero: Atticus Finch.

I have not heard anyone attempt to reconcile the Atticus of Mockingbird to the Atticus of Watchman, but one theory my sciolism can manage is this: Mockingbird recounted the story from a child’s POV and the natural hero-worship of a parent. Watchman apparently deals with Jean Louise’s disillusionment about her father. Thus, Atticus from Mockingbird is not the real Atticus Finch Lee was writing about all along.

Even if this were true, which I doubt, I still say we need Atticus Finch as described in Mockingbird, even if he is pushed more into mythological bounds by rose-colored youth. We need the man’s advice and wisdom and temperament.

As we enter yet another election cycle where war-monger Lindsey Graham is looking like the closest thing to a reasonable human being the Republicans can get, imagine an election where civility reigned. Imagine people who stood up for good things and explained without vitriol what they want to bring to the table.

Instead we have attention-seeking assholes like Donald Trump trying to buy publicity through our election cycle.

I’ll take Atticus Finch any day.

Uncle Josh defends Atticus Finch was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much

Uncle Josh Solves a Problem

We really need to do something about clutter. Mail is a major contributor to clutter, and it tends to fall in geological sheets on horizontal surfaces, only not so stable. Put the mail down to deal with “later” and mailalanche. Plus, the mail stacks up next to the charging stations for the two phones, three tablets, smartwatch, battery recharger, and the camera charger. What we need is a non-horizontal mail holder.

A trip to IKEA proved fruitless. It was like they barely thought about mail. I guess in the uberclean living of the IKEA catalog, bills are paid online and junk mail doesn’t make it into the house. So we gave up on finding a solution that would would to contain the cable clutter and give us a non-horizontal space to leave mail.

One of my rabbit holes is papercraft. I haven’t touched the stuff in a long time, but I will occasionally jump back into it. This weekend I built the box, and tonight I prototyped the top.

The bottom shelf stores the battery and camera chargers. The second to bottom shelf has holes in the back through which we can feed the USB cables. The top lifts up to give access to that shelf. The mail sorter works through sheer luck, but mail is held in place. Eventually I’ll get the tablets in there as well so I can charge them together.

Uncle Josh Solves a Problem was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much