Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Monday, October 30, 2017

Break In Case of Campaign

So the word on the street is that one of the more interesting aspects of The Womens' Convention over the weekend were the workshops regarding running for political office.  And that got me thinking STRICTLY HYPOTHETICALLY (yeah I can barely manage my own life if that thank you very much) STRICTLY as a thought exercise with my limited knowledge how would I run a campaign for local office... maybe... possibly... potentially in 2 decades.

Here goes

Decide on Which Office To Seek
Research Laws and Rules
Research Election Landscape
  • How many people vote in these elections?
  • How do they vote?
  • What issues are most cared about? 
  • Who has previously held the office?
  • Poll

Get Signatures/Petition/Register
Set Up Campaign Finances
  • Research Law
  • Open Bank Accounts
  • Set Up Accountability Standards/Bookkeeping
  • Set Up Committee
  • Solicit Donations
  • Obtain Loans/Credit
Set Up Campaign Structure
  • Finance Accountability
  • Phone Banks
  • Canvassers
  • Transportation & Food
  • Political Maps & Resource Allocation
  • Event Setup
  • Messaging
  • Speech Writing
  • Media Interaction
  • Talking Points
  • Spokespeople
  • Marketing and Advertising

Set Up Campaign Calender With Events
  • Debates
  • Marketing Meetings
  • Fund-raising Events
  • Community Events
  • Speeches/Rallies
  • Senior Centers
  • Recreation Centers
  • Parks
  • Community Events
  • Churches
  • Press Interviews
  • Blogs/Websites
  • Radio
  • Newspapers
  • Television
Set Up Web Site
Design and Buy Ads
Set Up Social Media Accounts
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
Meet with Establishment Leaders/Seek Endorsements
  • Other Politicians
  • Retired Politicians
  • Labor
  • Clergy
  • Hospitals
  • Business Leaders
  • K-12 Education/Teachers
  • Public Saftey Officials
  • Universities and Colleges
  • Individual Activists and Thought Leaders
  • Other Lobbying and Advocacy Groups
  • Feminist Groups
  • Transparency Groups
  • Civil Rights Groups
  • LGBT Groups
  • Environmentalist Organizations
  • Transportation Groups
  • Health Organizations

Monday, October 23, 2017

Storytelling by Reveal: The Network Skinner Box: Thoughts on Lucifer

I just got caught up in Lucifer.

I lik....don't hate it.

There are lots of good ideas a couple of interesting characters but the show is primarily framed around a rote standard police procedural. In short, it has the same problem as Grimm, the early seasons of Once Upon a Time, and a lot of network television.

Storytelling by reveals.

The show has a big story to tell but is afraid to tell it. So instead it features a supernatural police procedural.  I don't hate those. There quite a few that manage to keep things interesting. Haven, Eureka, arguably any supernatural monster of the week show including the Buffyverse..

But Lucifer seems to load all the interesting stuff into either the last five minutes of each episode or the last episode of each season.

And there isn't much excuse for it.

I understand why the police procedural is so prevalent and why even genre shows try to wrap themselves around its skin. It's a relatively easy way to have the characters do different stuff each week without much explanation in a flexible way.

And for writers, that's an invaluable tool. But  in a lot of shows it works against the premise so that one show becomes two fighting each other. And that's Lucifer.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Just When I Thought I Was Out: Once Upon A Time Season 7 Episode 1 Thoughts

Well, I'm back in. I skipped most of season 5 and all of season 6. But the idea of reboot got me back into Once Upon a Time. I always liked the premise of the show, a crisis crossover of folklore, every season it would make one or two creative decisions that were just deal breakers for me. All the same it is a show I very much want to like so a fresh start was right up my alley. Here are my thoughts on the season seven premiere.

Boomer B
Once is generally best when it's a story about stories so I generally don't have much of a problem with alternative versions of characters who already made appearances. (This is where I plug Daughter of the Forest which is a beautiful retelling of a fairytale that for its first third stops to examine and deconstruct fairytale logic before the fairytale proper begins.) That's kind the point when working with public domain characters there never is a definitive version that each iteration must live up to.  In particular, I really do like their version Cinderella who breaks the meta-meter when told how her story is going to play. "Do you know how many girls have that shoe size?"

That said I really do love the previous version of Alice and hope Once hasn't decided to scrap her altogether. Cinderella got a single episode so it doesn't bug me as much and like I said it's the nature of folklore but Alice got a miniseries which I viewed in many ways as being superior to that year's main season.

Batman In New 52
I don't know how I feel about it but this season is playing fast and loose with continuity and it's not clear what stuck, changed, and why. The word on the street (let's be honest Twitter) was that this is a reboot but it's really not. Thus far it's more along the lines of a time skip that allows for top-down retool of the show. Most of what happened still happened. But not always.

And that's okay.

I believe Once Upon a Time is best when it's a story about stories so I'm hoping they kind of write that into the plot and there are hints that they might. They make a big deal about Henry being an author.

Okay, why that matters.

Since most of the characters of the show are established to be fictitious, storytellers wield godlike power over them and the events of their lives.  Also when these storytellers screw up the universe falls apart. And I kind hope the story goes in that direction.

Regardless there is a bit of mental legwork in figuring out what you know and what you don't.

So... who's Batgirl again?

Not Again
It's not the first time Once Upon a Time has tried to retool and generally almost everytime (to the point it's getting kind of annoying) they basically redo the first episode. It's a justifiable decision. It's not going to make me stop watching the show but I wish they hadn't done it AGAIN. The problem with most network television, including this show, is pacing. There is a lot of stuff I'm interested in but I often have to sit through a lot of stuff I'm not, and somebody knocking on an apartment door to explain that the main character has amnesia and that fairytales are real is no longer cute. It's annoying.

It worked in the first episode because the show hadn't explained itself. There was doubt as to whether or not Henry was nuts and that was going to be the show.  When Hook shows up to do it again in season three it's an interesting in media res moment.  We instantly know something bad happened and somebody needs to fix it.

This time around... eh.

To be fair it's interesting to see Henry on the other side of this conversation and there is some fun in that. But there is so much going on the rest of the episode that it feels like there were better ways to do things.

Also, it creates this problem of SEVERAL characters being unapologetic copies of their first season counterparts.

Henry+ Cinderella=Emma
Cinderella's Stepmom = Snow White's Evil Stepmom
Hook=The Huntsman
Cinderella's Step Sister= The Magic Mirror
Snow White's Evil Step Mom = Jiminy Cricket  (Hey it was a heavy lift but she made it.)

And Rumple Stiltskin is basically playing himself sans character development... as usual.

I hated the back half of season 4... and the front half of season 5. And the few parts of season 6 I managed to catch. Why do they insist on bringing him back. Give him the hero's death he wants already. Let him die! Dealing with his inner conflict and mustering the will to commit a truely selfless act is his motivation for everything he does for the first 3,  arguably four seasons. He's a bad guy who wants to be a good guy. I could imagine no better closure for the character than to sacrifice his life to save his wife and son while at the same time exacting murderous revenge. It's so ... him. The best way for him to be the good guy he so desperately wants to be is to just accept he's the best bad guy and that sometimes life calls for a black hat. And they had to ruin it...again, and again.   

Most of what worked in the premier is what was new. Specifically, Cinderella and Henry are the most organic couple I've seen in this show which ships EVERYBODY. (Seriously, Cinderella is just about the only character I can think of who isn't related to Henry by blood or marriage.)

You Know Technically Henry is A Prince
Fairy tale logic and all. It's hard to tell this early but the vibe I'm getting is that by screwing up Cinderella's story Henry screwed up the multiverse. Heeeeh... authors.

Anyway if they do go that route Henry's technically prince and the two seem to be diggin' on each other. And I imagine that that could be a lot of fun. 

Who Knows What
One of the reasons why I liked the idea of the reboot is that it allows the writers to go back and try good ideas that didn't work the first time. The first season is flawed because it has a lot of fat but once it gets going it's really good.

Namely once the show stops playing coy about whether or not the curse is real and we are dealing with fairy tale characters the bigger question becomes who is and isn't aware of this fact and the show juggled that ball brilliantly.

And we're right back there. The show offers strong hints that returning characters are themselves even if they may not be aware of it, that it's not just some fluke that they're played but the same actors. Finding out who knows what and how is going to be one of the things that keep me glued to the show.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

If I Were A Rich Man: The Library: Comics: Marvel

Alright, they're making a Runaways show. This is gonna be good.  Time to break out my list of  Marvel comics I want to read. Let me reiterate these aren't comics I've read but comics I want to read, moreover this is not a complete list, not by a long shot.

By the way, anybody who knows anything about the comic knows the big hook the trailer is trying to avoid giving away. So saying ANYTHING about it even the basic premise is kind of hard.

Patsy Walker: Hell Cat
Okay, I don't want this list to be too obvious, so I'm not recommending Alias though it's on my list. If you want to read where Jessica Jones originated it's not hard to find. Anything that already had a more or less a straight Hollywood adaptation doesn't need any advertising from me, sorry Brubaker run of Captain America. Anyway, Marvel adaptations always have to simplify and compress comic book continuity that developed over decades without much of a plan. As such the characters from the MCU are often very different from their comic-book counterparts. For instance movie, Patsy is a mash-up of both herself and Captain Marvel.

In the comics, the minor character Trish Walker is a superhero in her own right and I can't help but think reading that would be kind of fun. Especially out of the context of Jessica Jones and more along the lines of Mary Tyler Moore with a cape which is the vibe I'm getting.

Spiderman 2099
So. I like to revisit old cartoons from my childhood... and a lot of them never got a chance. I love Batman Beyond. I will die crying the accolades of the Timmverse, but damn it people should have given Spider-man Unlimited a chance.  It's hard to track exactly when I became a fan of cyberpunk but Spiderman Unlimited is one of the earliest things with the aesthetic I can remember liking and nobody remembers it.

Next, to Spectacular Spider-Man it's probably my favorite Spider-Man cartoon. The Marvel cartoons of the day had this problem with being too faithful to the source material. Unless you were steeped in that stuff from the beginning you wouldn't know what the hell was going on and this show mostly avoids that problem. Still knowing who/what Man-Wolf is explains a lot.

Anyway, It's not an adaptation of Spider-Man 2099 but it did start out that way and well Spiderman 2099 sounds kind of bad ass. Basically what if a guy was running around in a dark cyberpunk future taking up the mantle of Spider-Man.

... And he shows up in Spider-verse.

X-Men: The Mutant Massacre
Look I love the X-men and all but the civil rights allegory always felt weak when most of the X-men could pass as normal humans if they wanted to. Mystique is the saving grace of the movies in that regard, lamp-shading and angrily pointing out that they shouldn't have to hide.

Regardless it's hard to think of the rich kids with superpowers living in an upstate New York mansion as the disenfranchised. I'm sorry.


The Morlocks are badass.  May I have some more, please. The movies screwed them over royally. I WANT MORE MORLOCKS!

The Mutant Massacre is their story. I want more Morlocks.

Like I said I go back to cartoons I loved as a kid and it bums me out how many decent ones get kind of lost.

I honestly think that in a lot of ways X-men Evolution is the best X-men cartoon. It's not perfect but Marvel doesn't have as great a track record in that regard as DC. There is no really great X-men cartoon, in the same way, there are a lot of great Superman cartoons. Marvel cartoons made in the 90's are dense with continuity and that problem extends to X-men TAS. It opens with a Sentinel attack. A lot of it is spent going "whaaaaaaaaaaa?" and Wolverine and the X-Men while being better animated takes itself entirely too seriously to be fun.

X-men Evolution, on the other hand, was as well as engrossing. It did a great job at explaining who everybody was, in terms of powerset, backstory, and personality even if it was kind of annoying that all the X-men were in high school. Considering their origin that should not have bugged people as much as it did.

... It also introduced X-23 who has kind of become a big deal all of a sudden.

It's always interesting to me when characters and ideas migrate from a single adaptation to a larger mythos (writing a retrospective about "The Saracen" is on my bucket list).  While Nyx isn't just about here it does serve as her introduction to the larger Marvel universe.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl
Ah, joke characters, putting the comic in comic books. She beats mega-event level super-villains with squirrels. I can't help but smile every time I say that sentence.  And I can say it all day. Marvel has a character that beats mega-event level super-villains with squirrels. God bless Squirrel Girl.

Okay, I'm cheating, but the interesting thing about the Guardians of the Galaxy is that they were really obscure before their big-budget Hollywood extravaganza. Hell, even Hawkey, Falcon and Vision got a cartoon before making it to the big screen. The Guardians pre-movie were so obscure that Marvel has not so subtly retrofitted their comics counterparts into basically being their movie versions.  And I'm cool with that though I would still like to read a story or two made before the MCU. Word on the street is that Annihilation is one of the best cosmic Marvel stories ever written.

Howard The Duck
Moviebob made him sound like my kind of talking animal. Look. I have a soft spot for fast-talking glib wise-asses (let's just say I'm nowhere near as nice in my head as I am externally) and Howard the Duck is that.

Trapped in a world I never made gone mad I need some common sense now.

Time Is An Arrow: On Nostalgic Revival

Yaaaaay Hey Arnold is back.

What could possibly go wrong?

Okay, seriously my instinct is to be thrilled that I'll get to see a little more of the old gang. Hey Arnold is one of those shows that does hold up on rewatches, (due largely to a killer jazz score). The episodes are short and easy to stream during downtime and like a lot of kids media the show has a sense of fun not found in more mature TV shows. I love Jessica Jones and The Wire, but happy fun time they ain't.  But it is still yet another nostalgia revival and those tend to be hit or miss.

First of let me say that I'm not one of those guys boohooing that every television show or movie seems to be a part of some preexisting franchise or property. I'll admit in the long run that may pose a problem but I also don't believe in the zero-sum proposition of a lot of those hot takes. There are enough people with enough diverse interests that almost everything that deserves an audience (providing that it can get funding) will find an audience.

Nope, what concerns me more is on an individual level why are so many of these things unfulfilling despite the merit of the material.

And my general answer is that these pieces of media are a consequence of their culture and time, even if an audience can mentally rewind the clock many of the show's creative stakeholders can't. Regardless of their intentions to remain true to the spirit of the original, they can't recreate the circumstances that inspired the work in the first place.

I love Boy Meets World.

It is my 90's sitcom of choice, but I'll be the first to acknowledge that, especially the first few seasons, are pretty average even for back then. What made Boy Meets World notable is that it more or less (sitcom time is weird) covered these characters lives in real time as they went from middle school to college. Because of that, the status quo of the series was at least superficially always in flux.

Girl Meets World pretty accurately captured the spirit of the first few seasons but that's not what fans of the original wanted to see. But what they want to see is something they couldn't have at least not right away, the emotional attachment to characters they had watched grow up with them.

Back to Hey Arnold though, the show is very 1960's New York. The show doesn't make a big deal out of it but the P.S. in the school name is a dead give away.  While I have an obsession with both the 1960's and New York I can't help but feel that if the movie is going to be more than an extended episode of the show for its own sake (which in all honesty I would be fine with) it would need to change.

And that's the dilemma. These revivals can't change enough to justify their own existence in a new context thus appealing to a new audience without alienating their old ones.

To that end, I do not know what a modern day kidcom looks like. While kidcoms are written for children they are written by adults who are often utilizing their own nostalgia as inspiration. These shows have benifited from the relatively similar cultural experiences of middle-class Americans since the 1960s.

Bur for a lot of reasons that dynamic is breaking down. More and more audiences are diverging in their experiences and exposing differences that already existed. That's not a bad thing but it does mean that more and more movies and TV shows utilizing and/or appealing to the nostalgia of ubiquitous experiences are less and less able to count on audiences having a context to put them in.

Up until Girl Meets World most of the nostalgia revivals were for stuff that I had no real experience with. And while some of them could be fun most of them were obviously not made for me. (I'm sorry MST3K) And now I'm on the other end of it my opinion hasn't really changed all that much.

P.S. I'm sorry. The first two Power Rangers movies were not as bad as everybody makes them out to be. They gave me what I paid to see.

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