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Alex Mayo
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Steph and I started off this year's Seattle International Film Festival off right yesterday with a screening of Bruce McDonald's Weirdos.

I dig McDonald's work, particularly the strange but wonderful pseudo-zombie film Pontypool - and Weirdos is yet another drastic left turn for McDonald, being a coming-of-age road trip story about two Canadian teens. Not a zombie in sight, but spirit-animal Andy Warhol makes up for that in spades.

Solid 4/5.

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Chillaxin' like a motherfucker.
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Oh man, I forgot how much I loved the barbaric Stein Oleson.

#theplioceneexile
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I'm thinking of running an online game with my kids as a means of keeping in touch with them. Right now they don't have internet service, but - I think a weekly D&D game might be kind of wonderful. I'll have to see how their mom feels about it.
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I'm not much of a manga reader these days - but I stumbled upon the anime adaptation of Blame! the other day and...it didn't do much for me. Mostly because computer-animated anime leaves me feeling cold. I didn't even watch past the first 15 minutes...but the design intrigued me. Blame! takes place in a gigantic, cyclopean underworld where humans are basically nothing more than cockroaches running around a gigantic machine-city. What I saw of the anime wasn't clear why this giant city replicated and took over the Earth but it sure makes for an interesting premise.

Though I wasn't enthused about the anime it did make me curious to read the manga, so I tracked it down online and I gotta say...I'm only one chapter in and I'm hooked. There's not much to the writing so far but the art is just my cup of crazy. Tsutomu Nihei's compositions are great. Dark, messy, full of energy and menace.

Looking forward to the rest.

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Wrote some words about why I love the James Bond: 007 RPG so goddamn much.

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Expanding on something I just posted over at FB.

Feel like somewhere over the past couple of years I've lost the ability to see the world with humor. I think I should do something about that. I used to be an absurdist at heart. Things never really got to me - I just sort of looked at the world as an amusing accident I happened to be part of.

Then came the divorce. Then the suicide attempt. Depression. I lost my kids. Started working a job I hated that required six-hours commute time per day. All these things took their toll. Nihilism is the other side of the Absurdist coin - where the world's foibles become turned inward and you grow embittered and angry.

I think I've been in that place for a while and I've lost touch with old me. I guess realizing these things is the first step towards getting better. Oddly this hit me while watching some video interviews with Tank Girl artist Jamie Hewlett. I always turn to art to offer me guidance when I'm down, while Hewlett's anarchist scrawlings always appealed to me, last night I was reminded of why I love his art. Beneath the goofy surface is some pretty wonderful piss-taking. And I thought: that used to be me.

It was an odd bit of satori - and it's still with me today.
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+John Powell and I were discussing sci-fi and fantasy books during a drive to Lakewood a few weeks ago and during this chat I fondly recalled Julian May's Pliocene Exile books.

I'm not a big fan of epic fantasy - I often find it tedious and long-winded - but when I was a teenager I loved these four books. While definitely epic fantasy in form, May does something really interesting with the formula. Rather than an imaginary fantasy-land, May sets the series in France's Rhone Valley during the Pliocene era. Sometime in the 21st century, a French scientist discovers a gateway into the Pliocene era. Unfortunately the gateway only works one way - translating back to the 21st century causes one to age millions of years, thus being useless for a round-trip.

However - there are many for whom this trip is ideal...mostly misfits and those the rigid social structure humanity finds itself bound to in the wake of extraterrestrial contact would deem undesirable. Soon, people from the modern era start to enter the gateway in the hopes of starting a new life in a primordial environment free of the fetters of modern life. What they find is something else entirely.

Waiting for them on the other side of the portal is a race of extraterrestrials, the Tanu, who have become stranded on Earth in the Pliocene era. Their doomed spacecraft, deeming primitive Earth a suitable spot to deposit it's living cargo, crash lands...leaving the Tanu to create a society on an alien world. When humans start to arrive from Earth's future things get...complicated.

It's a wonderful premise and May takes it in a lot of interesting directions. It has all the feel of an epic fantasy series - quests to achieve daunting tasks, beloved characters whose fates you come to genuinely care about, heroism and evil, etc. - but it's really something else entirely. There's a wonderful strain of hard science fiction underlying everything - spaceships, psionics, Pliocene-era fauna, time-travel.

After mentioning it to John I resolved to find the books again and give them another read-through. Sadly they seem to be out of print and are a little hard to find on the secondary market. Yesterday I managed to score the first book - The Many Colored Land - at a used bookseller at Pike Place Market in Seattle. I read a few chapters while eating lunch and was happy to re-acquaint myself with May's wonderful prose. May followed up the series with a companion epic detailing the circumstances of humanity's contact with aliens and whatnot, but I never found them quite as compelling as the Pliocene Exile books.

It's also worth noting that May is no slouch, having published work in the 1950's (and chaired the Tenth World Science Fiction Convetion in 1952) at a time when science-fiction was even more of a sausage party than it is now. (Wikipedia tells me that this is the convention where Sturgeon's Law - 'ninety-percent of everything is crap' - was coined.) I find it a bit sad that May isn't more well recognized for her contributions to science-fiction...like many female sci-fi writers she penned a number of things under a male pen-name, although who can say. May is pushing 90 at this point and I can't help but think that The Pliocene Exile would make a wonderful television series, now that adaptations of epic fantasy series are kind of a thing these days. Maybe someone should shove these books under the nose of someone at HBO.
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