Thursday, July 23, 2015

If I Were King mini-review, no spoilers


I think Ronald Colman's not as famous as Errol Flynn because his name's boring. Names are important in popular history—I suspect the Gunfight at the OK Corral  would not be as famous if it had been Bob Schmidt, his brothers Tom and Jack, and a doctor named Peabody fighting the Smith Gang near O'Neal's Stable. But maybe it's just that fame is fickle, so Colman's not as well remembered as his swashbuckling peers, for all that he was every bit as good as them.

If I Were King is limited by the technology of 1938, so you don't watch it for spectacle. You watch it for charm. All the acting is a little broad, but the story's broad, so that doesn't offend. The surprising performance comes from Basil Rathbone, who I might not have recognized if I hadn't been expecting him to appear. Preston Sturges did the script, which has some nice lines and a populist subtext—the word "bourgeois" appears once, as part of an insult. The plot is simple—a king, Rathbone, decides to reward and punish a man, Colman, who both helped and opposed him—and our hero soon learns that the punishment will be greater than he had thought, if he doesn't find a way out.

The movie doesn't seem to be streaming anywhere. I got a DVD from the library. (It is on Youtube, but the sound is a couple of seconds off, which is unbearable.)

Recommended for fans of '30s historical adventure. Will-Bob gives it a B+ for charm, though it prob'ly deserves a B.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A quote everyone should know before going online

“Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emerson in His Journals

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Facebook needs to fire a lot of Asians to become racially proportionate?

I keep running into people who're obsessed with racial proportionality at the bottom of the economic pile who ignore it at the top, where, as groups, Jewish, Asian, and Hindu Americans are more economically privileged than ethnically Christian white Americans. This is especially noticeable at internet tech companies. Remembering that Asian Americans are 5.6% of the US's population:

Status update: Facebook not so diverse:
Nearly 70% of Facebook employees are men and 57% are white. Asians make up 34% of employees.

But Hispanics represent just 4% and African Americans are just 2% of Facebook's workforce.

When it comes to technical employees, the numbers are even more grim. Eighty-five percent are male, 53% white and 41% Asian. Hispanics make up just 3% and African Americans just 1% of the workforce.

At the top of the company, the statistics are no better. Seventy-seven percent of senior level employees are men, 74% are white and 19% are Asian. Hispanics account for 4% and African Americans for 2% of employees in high level positions.
While the gender balance is not equal, Facebook's white employees are actually under-represented overall in a country where 62% of the population is non-Hispanic white. It's a shame those statistics don't include a breakdown for Jews (2% of the US population) or Hindus (.4% of the US population).

Related:: For anyone who thinks Jews were not always white in the US

Why identitarians are offended by discussing the whiteness of Jews

US wealth by religion (click to embiggenize):

Friday, July 17, 2015

How I would script doctor Ant-Man

Previously: Ant-Man mini-review, no spoilers

Warning: Here be spoilers.

Note: As a script doctor, my fixes are purely about the script. So while I would've cast a black or Hispanic guy as Ant-Man, that's not part of the job here.

Minor fixes:

1. Cut the Russian and the black comic-relief sidekicks.

2. Give the Hispanic sidekick some serious, competent moments so he deserves to be the hero's buddy.

3. Make both the hero and the sidekick want to go straight after prison, so the hero has to convince the sidekick to help pull the heist.

Major fix:

4. In the third act, when the bad guy is getting away with the Yellowjacket suit, Hope van Dyne should start to go after them, and her father realizes it's time to do the right thing: he reveals the Wasp costume, and together, Ant-man and the Wasp defeat Yellowjacket.

ETA: Regarding #4, this wouldn't just let us have some female superhero buttkicking, it would do two emotional things: it would establish that Hank Pym no longer thinks Scott Lang is expendable, and it would show that he realizes he has to let people he loves make their own decisions about danger.

ETA 2: Regarding #3, this would do two things:

1. There's currently the implication that only middle-class white men want to go straight after prison.

2. Our hero's story arc would be greater if he was more willing to take shortcuts at the beginning of the movie—it's the same reason why Han Solo should shoot first.

Ant-Man mini-review, no spoilers

This is a fun movie, but it is not a smart movie. It went through two directors and four writers and who knows how many other hands, and the result is a pleasant, visually enjoyable, and surprisingly naive movie. Its racial casting is straight out of the 1970s, and so is its handling of gender.

Near-spoiler: there's a scene with the Falcon that's fun. That and some in-jokes pleased the fanboy in me.

Verdict: I did not regret going, but I would've waited for it to hit a second-run house if I'd known what I was going to get. This is a trailer movie: if you like the trailer, you won't be disappointed with what you get if you don't expect more.  Will-Bob gives it a B, and that's only because he's a fanboy. It probably deserves a B-.

Could it be fixed? See my next post, How I would script doctor Ant-Man.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A suggestion for an article by a lover of fantasy

I just read Jane Yolen's answer to how she came to write Briar Rose and realized someone should do an article on books that began with a notion by Terri Windling. War for the Oaks is among them. So is the Liavek series—Terri knew of our group of writers and thought we could have fun doing a shared-world anthology like Thieves' World with more of a high fantasy take.

ETA: To be clear, War for the Oaks didn't begin as an idea by Terri. Emma was working on Falcon when she mentioned her notion for War for the Oaks to Terri. Terri told Emma that if she put Falcon aside and started War for the Oaks immediately, Terri would give her a contract. Being a wise beginning writer, Emma did just that.