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Gwen Patton
Pink Pistols spokesperson, former webcartoonist, and Lockpicker.
Pink Pistols spokesperson, former webcartoonist, and Lockpicker.

Gwen Patton's posts

Saw Valerian tonight.

Wow. Absolutely delightful. It's not a deep story, but that's okay. The effects are magnificent, and it's classic Besson. I don't care what the critics said, I loved it!

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An asteroid with a stargate embedded in the surface, an asteroid miner's singleship illuminating it with its powerful spotlight...

I'm having an inordinate amount of fun in Space Engineers. There's tons of free content to play with, including this stargate mod. The mining ship in the background was a lot less complex when I pulled it out of the Workshop...I kicked it up a notch with an ore detector, cameras for monitoring the mining drills and the docking connector. I also added an extremely powerful spotlight and an automatic ejector for base rock that otherwise clutters up the cargo modules and sucks up delta-vee when trying to move around.

Worth a look.

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The Lockpicking Lawyer came up with the perfect way to celebrate Independence Day!

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I was sitting on the porch, enjoying the beautiful morning, and something tweaked my perception. We've had this wind chime for years. It came with the house, and I never paid it any attention.

This morning, I finally realized that I'd never heard that wind chime make any sound. Since wind chimes should make sound -- it's their reason for being -- there had to be a reason why this particular wind chime was silent, completely at odds with it's nature. So I looked closely..

...and I saw that it had no clapper.

My first thought was to fix the wind chime, to add a new clapper, to make it once again congruent with its nature, but then I thought about it.

We don't notice wind chimes when they chime, because we expect them to chime, since that's what wind chimes do. In fact, the only reason this one even drew my attention was because it was acting contrary to its nature. It wasn't chiming.

It occurred to me that this wind chime was perfect as it was. It inspired more thought, and more contemplation into the nature of things, and said more about our expectations of the world and its illusions than any wind chime that lived up to its nature and chimed with the wind.

Don't be a wind chime, or the scorpion stinging a fox in the middle of a river, or the dutiful drone, doing only what you are programmed to do.

Dare to shatter illusions. When we realize we live as an illusion experiencing other illusions, we can become enlightened.

Gassho _/|\_

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This made me cry.

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Wow, I just happened to check this, and the novella I self-published while I worked at Borders is still available at Amazon.

I wrote that over a decade ago. Geez, it's still out there.

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Just had to block someone I used to get along with.

When you start telling blood libels and I hear it, you'll likely hear from me about it. If you don't like that, it's your right. I will simply snip you out of my life. Far easier and less damaging to the stomach lining than allowing it to get nasty.

No, I won't identify the person.

Relevant portion of the below video starts at 3:46, but you can play the whole thing if you like.

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I know this is an old video, but I just saw it for the first time today. It made me cry. Why? Because my great-uncle was a wonderful pianist, for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He also taught until the day he died, in his 90's. I was one of the last people he ever played for, when I brought my daughter to see him when she was very little. I adored his old was small for a "mansion", but the biggest home I'd ever seen.

A most excellent house for a child to wander, it didn't just have a basement, it had catacombs, and the third floor was set aside for the houseman (or so I was told). It had "secret" passages -- what looked like a tapestry wall was actually a finely-balanced framework, on which fabric was stretched, like a theater flat. It covered a niche in the wall, where a staircase went up to the third floor. You could open it with a finger, it was so well balanced.

This house was FILLED with musical instruments. He had 7 pianos of various sizes and types, 3 harpsichords, 2 clavichords, and a spinet. They were EVERYWHERE. His favorites were on the first floor, where he taught. I remember an old story of him going into a shop that sold pianos, and he played every instrument in the place, then told the salesman "I'll take THIS one."

The man said "very good, I'll have one of those shipped to you..."

"No," my uncle said, "you misunderstand. THIS one. This very instrument." The salesman tried to explain that it was a floor sample, and wouldn't he rather have a brand new one from stock? Of course he wouldn't. He wanted THAT one. He was testing them, and THAT particular instrument was the one he liked. Finally, the man gave in, and said that particular instrument would be delivered. My uncle, a realist, opened it and took down the serial number on the harp, just to make SURE the man sent that exact one, and not just one that looked like it.

Then he had to argue some more, and show the salesman the printing on a $100 bill that read "Good for all debts, public and private". The man didn't want to accept CASH, and was trying to hold out for a check or credit card, which my uncle rarely used. He plunked down cash for the instrument -- a Steinway -- plus the delivery charge, which was substantial, since it was a grand piano. When it arrived, he wouldn't let them take it off the truck until he'd compared the serial number he'd taken down. My uncle brooked NO compromises with his musicianship. Ever. It was literally his life.

This video is about a man who systematically defrauded the music industry, classical piano fans in particular, by copying and electronically altering other pianists' performances, then recording them and putting his own wife's name on them. Practically the entire available piano repertoire, including some of the most demanding pieces ever composed for piano. Thing was, his wife had collapsed during a performance in the 70's, and hadn't performed in public since. The story was, even though dying of cancer, she would go down to her garden shed and play every day, and her husband was dutifully recording it. They had no shed. He then claimed that she was going around to local churches and such and playing there. No record could be found that she'd done anything of the sort. Even the conductor for her works was a fiction, as were the specific orchestras, and even excerpts of reviews on the liner notes. Her husband was most meticulous. But none of it was in fact real.

This was one of the saddest and most viscerally angering videos I've ever watched. I had no idea that this had happened. I will be checking to see if my great-uncle was one of the artists so plagiarized...though I doubt it. Most of the stolen performances were by more contemporary artists.

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The video below has the audio from an 80's documentary on children with mental illnesses, cut to fit video clips of the various SJW tantrums over the past few years.

Sorry, but it's just too damned well done, and funnier'n hell.

There's some bad language and shrieking, so headphones might be more appropriate if you're watching at work.

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How many times has something like this happened to you?

You happen to think about something nostalgic. It could have been prompted by a video, or a news story, or a song on the radio, but something in it triggers your memory, and something floats up out of your favorite things in the past. So, driven by a wave of nostalgic remembrance, you Google the subject of your nostalgia. You just want to relive a bit of the past enjoyment. You see that -- ooh, I hope this comes true! -- whatever it was is being considered for a TV series! So you keep searching, hoping to find some other nugget of nostalgia. You find a reference to it a few seconds later, a video of a game trailer using the name of your favorite thing.

But when you watch the game has absolutely NOTHING to do with what you thought it did. It has used the NAME of your memory to attract people to the game, which is pretty much a plankton-standard 80's style arcade scroller. It could be Xevious under a different name with a few minor differences. There's probably toolkits of sprites and routines to move them around that someone can plug and unplug to create a "new" game. They're all very standardized, after all. You fly a "spaceship" or "jet" or "material defender" up from the bottom of the screen, avoid and shoot at other "spaceships" or "aliens" or "xenomorphs" scrolling down from the top of the screen. A colorful "ground" or "space" background scrolls by behind the action, creating the sensation of forward motion. Change up the sprite designs and it's a totally new game.

Sure, spend a little time with still or stutter-animated art to make a "back story" for the game. It'll run during the demo trailer before someone punches the PLAY button, or puts a quarter in the machine, to suck them in. But most of all, put a name on it that'll attract attention. If the name happens to be similar to, or derivative of, the other work, well, you can tweak things so you don't fall foul of trademark law. Capitalize things differently. Put a dash somewhere. Slap a colon and a subtitle after it. After all, you can't copyright a title. But you're still relying on the draw of the title to bring people in.

Last night, I thought about the run of Jim Starlin's Dreadstar comics I still own. It's the only comic I still have, after I got rid of the vast bulk of my collection. I do still have some single issues that were pivotal in comic history -- the Secret Wars comic where Spider-Man first got the black costume that became Venom, the two-issue set of Thor comics where Odin makes a new uru hammer for Beta-Ray Bill, the still-sealed black bag with the Death of Superman inside -- but Dreadstar is an old favorite, and I kept the entire run.

So I did a quick Google search. I found out that Dreadstar WAS optioned for a TV series in 2015. Jim Starlin himself is involved. So maybe, someday, it'll be a TV series! I found that the beginning of the comic series has been collected in graphic novels! And...did someone make a VIDEO GAME based on Dreadstar? So I click the link...

...and find a plankton-standard 80's-style arcade scroller, with the bare-minimum of meta-story, with the Dreadstar name. Now, they did differentiate it a LITTLE. It was DreadStar, with a capital S in the middle. And they had the colon and a subtitle, "The Quest for Revenge". It has nothing to actually DO with Dreadstar, so Starlin couldn't sue them for copyright infringement, and there's a tiny difference in the title, so it might not fall under trademark. (Though the beginning of Dreadstar's comic WAS a revenge story -- Vanth Dreadstar, having survived the destruction of the Milky Way, finds himself on a pastoral world in another galaxy. He becomes a farmer, and is living in peace with his wife, Delilah. Then soldiers from space shoot up his planet and kill his wife. So Vanth goes to war against the Monarchy that killed his family. Gee...sounds like a quest for revenge to me.)

I commented on the video that it was unethical to use someone else's work to attract people to your work that isn't related in any way.They got a tad irate, and said they were going to delete my comment. I told them, quite pleasantly, that it was up to them, and I still wished them well, but I thought that even if it was strictly within the law, I still felt it was unethical to use someone else's work as a lure like that.

I didn't tell them to delete their game. I didn't tell them to shut up. I didn't call them names. I even wished them WELL. They had their say, and I had mine. But because they're going to delete my comments, so their otherwise zero-comment game trailer from 2016 doesn't have my jab at their ethical commitment on it, I'm going to post this here. Heck, I'm even potentially giving them some traffic to their plankton-standard 80's style arcade scroller. Since posted about a YEAR ago, they've gotten 577 views and a whole whopping 6 likes and 2 dislikes. We'll see if my posting this results in any significant traffic.

So, am I completely off base here? I haven't infringed on their right to self-expression, but I haven't let them stomp on mine, either. I have my opinion, that a comic that still has fans, that's still in print, and has been optioned for television by a major corporation, is not the irrelevance they seem to think it is. Even if they are technically within the law, the fans of the REAL Dreadstar don't have to like it.

Picture below is NOT a link to the video, but instead the cover of the 1st stand-alone Dreadstar comic.

Youtube Video of "DreadStar: The Quest for Revenge" video game.

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