The cognoscentii will know what I'm talking about

>> Saturday, October 31, 2015

Look, I don't know.  But if I had to guess?
Look, I know Adam Driver--an actor I'm unfamiliar with, ironically, since half his filmography is apparently either in my Netflix queue or in my mental "I still need to see that sometime" list--I know that "officially" he's some guy named "Kylo Ren."  And there's photos of him on-set in costume and an entire line of toys.  I know.
But I also know that J.J. Abrams spent, like, a year, almost a year, something like that, telling everyone that Benedict Cumberbatch was playing a guy named "John Harrison."
I know that his writers kinda goofed and said they were bringing back a classic Star Trek villain the fans would be glad to see again, the entire Internet collectively said, "Cool, but I hope it's not Khan, because that would be stupid."  And the writers and Abrams said, "It's totally not Khan.  It's a guy named 'John Harrison.'"  And the entire Internet collectively said, "Who the fuck is John Harrison?" and the Trekkies/ers/ites all said, "Fifty years of Star Trek, there's never been anyone named 'John Harrison,' much less a 'classic villain' named 'John Harrison,'" and the collective said, "Oh hell, it's Khan, isn't it?"
And Abrams said, "It's not Khan."
Then there were set photos of Benedict Cumberbatch stalking around dictatorially, and in a holding cell, and doing various other things, and the Internet said, "Are you sure he's not Khan?  No, hang on, this is definitely Khan, right?" and Abrams said, "It's not Khan.  Stop asking if it's Khan, Benedict Cumberbatch is playing John Harrison and not Khan."
Then the movie came out.  With Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan.  Though, to be fair, they do call him "John Harrison" during the first half of the movie, up until the dramatic reveal (oops, spoiler) where the camera closes in on Benedict Cumberbatch responding to Kirk and Spock asking him his real name and he hisses, "My name is Khan!"  Not that there's any reason the movie ever offers for him to be going around under this pseudonym, since this is an alternate timeline where there's no reason for anybody in the movie to treat Khan differently than he was treated in "Space Seed," the 1967 original series episode where Khan is introduced; in that episode, the Enterprise finds Khan adrift in space in suspended animation, the crew wakes him up, and (realizing almost immediately who he is) treat him with... amused benign indifference, apparently figuring, "What can a guy who's been asleep in a can for two-hundred years do?"  (Not much, contrary to what you think: in both "Space Seed" and Star Trek II--The Wrath of Khan, Khan only accomplishes anything when the Enterprise crew slacks off and does things like hand him the ship's instruction manuals or forget to turn on the ship's shields; whenever they start bringing their actual game (any game, not necessarily even their A-game), they defeat Khan by doing things like turning his ship off or flying under him.  Dude's kinda like a toddler: mostly harmless so long as you keep an eye on him, but leave him unattended with a Sharpie for five minutes and there'll be Hell to pay.)
I also--possibly unlike some people, I don't know why--I also have a long memory.
Long enough, anyway, to remember that before J.J. Abrams did Mission Impossible III and became the big-name film director he is today, he was a screenwriter and script doctor who in the early-2000s wrote a script called Superman: Flyby for one of Warners' attempts to reboot the Superman franchise.  Brett Ratner was going to direct, or McG; both of them were attached to the project at various times, and it burned through a lot of money before being scrapped and Warners' went with what became Bryan Singer's for-better-or-worse love letter to Richard Donner, Superman Returns.
But at some point during preproduction, Abrams script for Flyby leaked online, and got thoroughly and even-more-thoroughly trashed by Ain't It Cool News and other Internet geek sites, because Superman: Flyby was written as if the author didn't really know much about Superman, or even have any interest in Superman beyond the fact he'd been given a fistful of cash to write a movie about some guy named "Superman."  It was kind of a Greatest American Hero thing played straight, where this alien gets sent  to Earth from his unexploded, just fine planet with a magical suit which allows him to do Kung-Fu so he can fight another alien calling itself "Lex Luthor."
I also remember that when Abrams eventually responded to the dire response his Flyby script got, it was kinda whiny and petulant.  I wish I could find the article online, but it looks like it'll take more work than I feel like putting into it.  He kinda missed the point of the backlash, though, saying his ideas should have had a chance because they might have been interesting, which could be true except "interesting" and "good" aren't synonyms; and he seemed to have a kinda crazy notion that maybe if his ideas were going to get rejected by fans, they should have been rejected by fans after Warners spent hundreds of millions of dollars filming, marketing and distributing the thing, instead of being put out of its mercy early and gratefully.
(I never watched Lost, so all I can say about that is that I have friends who are still angry that the show's creators, including Abrams, apparently spent years telling everyone that the show would come together in a way that made sense and that the people on the island weren't dead, and from my friends' complaints I take it that (1) it didn't, and (2) they were.  If you know what they're talking about, feel free to take it under consideration.)
So I don't know anything, except that I do know that J.J. Abrams hates, hates, hates advance fan speculation and Internet nerds because he feels they burned him with Superman, and so much that he was willing to lie to them on Star Trek.  And so I think he's more than capable of casting Adam Driver as a minor or minor-ish character, and letting a few misleading photos of him in a misleading costume leak out, or having him and another actor playing characters who aren't what they seem to be and one occasionally stands in for the other; actually, I'd go so far as to say that I think Abrams is perfectly capable of hiring an actor who doesn't appear in the film at all, who just shows up in costume for set photos for a disinformation campaign, if Disney would let him do it... which seems like something that could go either way, frankly.
So I don't know.  I'm probably wrong.  But I'm not asking the question everyone's been asking since that poster came out, because I don't know that he isn't.  Sure, okay, probably not.  Except, thing is, if I had to guess, if you pushed me to guess, I might just guess he is.
I think I just want it on the record that I'm probably wrong, but I also won't be surprised if.  So that when, if happens, and I say, "Kinda saw that one coming," and you don't believe me, I can pull up a blog post from Halloween to say, "No, see, I said this would be totally consistent with J.J. Abrams post-Superman: Flyby M.O.."  And if I'm wrong, which I probably am, you can razz me, I guess, even though I'm pretty soft on this.


A year ago today, this happened.

>> Sunday, October 25, 2015

Love you, Scatterkat.  Happy anniversary, babe.


Ryan says neigh

>> Thursday, October 22, 2015

Yes, that's right, this was real news, or as real as news gets these days, and not an Onion piece.  The Prime Minister of Israel--you know, the country founded in 1948 as a Jewish state in the aftermath of the Holocaust--the Prime Minister of Israel told delegates to the World Zionist Congress that Hitler didn't mean to kill all those Jews, he only wanted to deport them, but then a big, mean Palestinian (Haj Amin al-Husseini, who was Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in 1941) told Hitler that if the Jews were deported they'd end up on his doorstep and he didn't want them, either, and so Hitler asked what he ought to do (because he had no idea, apparently), and al-Husseini said Hitler ought to kill them and the thought just hadn't even occurred to Hitler but he decided to take al-Husseini's advice and I guess that's why it's okay to build Jewish settlements on the West Bank and a two-state solution won't work.

You need a minute or two to digest that?  'S'okay.  Take your time.  We'll still be here.

Right, so I'm reading this article, and--this is great, this is actually the good stuff, here--and this happens:

An advertisement from something calling itself, "Public Advocate of the United States," accusing Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin of being a well-hung gay man (possibly carrying or wearing a prophylactic, which is a good thing and to be encouraged).  Which may or may not be some kind of euphemism.  I'm not sure where they got this idea--
Image via Gawker.
--hey!  No, no, no!  Now you're just stereotyping.  Yes, there's a popular stereotype that homosexual men are body-obsessed and work out all the time, but so what?  There's also a stereotype that gay men dress well, so take another look at that goddamn backwards baseball cap.
I kid, I kid.  It's utterly absurd, of course, but says a great deal of how batshit crazy the country is and how Ryan's initial gut instinct to turn down the Speaker's position if offered was.  I mean, I'm not at all sure what the "Homosexual Lobby" is (if it isn't the waiting area between the main exit and floor area of a gay club, at least), or why they need a "Trojan horse," but even assuming purely hypothetically that the "Homosexual Lobby" is a thing and they're engaging in some kind of political ninja-sneaky-shit, the idea that Paul Ryan is their guy is just kind of absurd.

Besides, if Ryan is a Trojan horse for anything, it's Objectivism.  If he's elected Speaker, he's going to bore the country with three-hour speeches about looters and try to convert everyone to atheism while trying to wife-swap with everyone in the whole damn House on principle.  Duh.  Times are gonna be great again for R.J. Reynolds and Amtrak.  Everybody else may be a little fucked, but it'll be their own damn faults because it always is.

I don't know, folks, I just don't know.  I've always tried (usually unsuccessfully, but still--) to take the broad-minded, historical approach and remind myself that things have always been crazy and weird and kinda, well, bad.  Yet I don't recall another era when the news looked so completely like something that was just made up on the fly by somebody who didn't care and wasn't even trying very hard.  Paul Ryan is a gay lobbyist, the Prime Minister of Israel says Hitler wasn't that bad (at least not to start with).  Although I've been an atheist since I was a teenager, it makes me wonder if there really is a God--a lazy, insane God with some kind of attention-deficit problem, or possibly a God who has decided to troll the universe.

There's a nutty, pretty useless hypothesis out there that suggests that we're all part of a computer simulation because if you figure that eventually some real species is going to invent the ability to model an entire universe, your odds of being in a model universe are greater than your odds of not being in a model universe, so statistics.  It's basically useless, though perhaps entertaining, because not only is the hypothesis basically untestable, but it doesn't change anything even if it's true.  Even if we're inside a simulated universe, it's indistinguishable from a real universe, so whatevs.  Besides which, isn't it most likely that the creatures simulating us would themselves be simulations, so it's, what, turtles all the way down or something like that?

But I mention it because I suppose there is one way it's testable, which would be if the code was so buggy that after a few gajillion processing cycles it just started turning out implausibilities like Donald Trump and daily school shootings and so on, and these bugs were somehow manifest to the simulations "observing" the program from within.  Basically, you know, if we all woke up one morning and realized we were inside Windows 8.  Which could have already happened.

Or maybe the notion disproves itself: would you let the universe run so badly for so long without bringing up a task manager and killing all those errant processes?  Of course not.  Hell, at this point with the whole thing freezing and crashing you'd probably curse and shrug and just CTRL-ALT-DEL the damn comput


An open letter to Mrs. Betty Rawlings

>> Wednesday, October 21, 2015


From:     Mrs Betty Rawlings. (
Sent:    Wed 10/21/15 12:56 AM

Foreign Payment Department
South Africa General Board & Compensation Reserve Team
4 Castle St Paarl, Cape Town, western came, South Africa.

I am Mrs. Betty Rawlings, I am a US citizen, 48 years Old. I reside here in New Braunfels Texas. My residential address is as follows. 108 Crockett Court. Apt 303, New Braunfels Texas, United States. am thinking of relocating since I am now rich. I am one of those that took part in the Compensation in South Africa many years ago and they refused to pay me, I had paid over $52,000 while in the United States trying to get my payment all to no avail.

I decided to travel down to western came, South Africa with all my compensation documents and i was directed to meet Barrister Mahatma Gandhi who is the member of COMPENSATION AWARD COMMITTEE, I contacted him and he explained everything to me. He said whoever is contacting us through emails are fake because the Inheritance/Compensation Law clearly states that the beneficiary/recipient is exempt from paying any out of pocket fees or charges to receive said funds.

Barrister Mahatma Gandhi took me to the paying bank for the claim of my Compensation payment.Right now I am the most happiest woman on earth because I have received my compensation funds of ( $1.5million USD ) Moreover, Barrister Mahatma Gandhi showed me the full information of those that are yet to receive their payments and I saw your name and email address as one of the beneficiaries that is why I decided to email you to stop dealing with those people, they are not with your funds, they are only making money out of you.

I will advise you to contact Barrister Mahatma Gandhi You have to contact him directly on this information below.

Name: Barrister Mahatma Gandhi

You can call me for more informations +27-625-749-194

Listed below are the name of mafias and banks behind the non release of your funds that I managed to sneak out for your kind perusal.

1) Agent Davis Morse
2) Mr James B. Comey
3) Mr Ibrahim Lamorde
4) Ms Carman L. Lapointe
5) Mrs Sherry Brubio
6) Bar James Morgan
7) Bar Anderson Brown
8) Bar Harry Cole

The only money I paid after I met Barrister Mahatma Gandhi was just $500USD for the delivery charges, take note of that.


Once again stop contacting those people, I will advise you to contact Daniel Williams so that he can help you to deliver your funds instead of dealing with those liars that will be turning you around asking for different kind of money to complete your transaction.'

Thank You and Remain Blessed.
Mrs Betty Rawlings.
This email has been protected by YAC (Yet Another Cleaner) http://www.███.██

Dear Mrs. Rawlings,

I doubt I have too many regular readers of Standing on the Shoulders of Giant Midgets anymore because I no longer have regular posts for them to read these days.  But whatever readers I have are surely disappointed that I hardly ever type up open letters to fine, upstanding, helpful citizens such as yourself anymore.

This is largely your fault.  I'm sorry.  That's a terrible way to begin a letter, but we might as well get it out of the way.  It used to be that I'd get lots and lots of really amusing and inspirational letters, and now it just seems like I get the same one, more or less.  And it's a challenge to be interesting or creative facing a wave of such dull banality.  These days it's all a variation on a few basic themes: ATM cards, couriers, a newsworthy plane crash, and don't trust anyone else sending me e-mails about my funds.  These days, most of you are devouring yourselves, the lot of you writing me scam e-mails about how the other scam e-mails I got were scams.  Very meta, but in a very tedious way.

And yet, Mrs. Rawlings--Betty, may I call you Betty?--you've found a way to break through my apathy!  I was going through the junk e-mail folder, and I opened your missive in a vain hope that it would be amusing enough to be fodder for the blog, and what do I find?  Well, the same dull appeal, except--


--except that you're offering me the services of a famous dead lawyer.

Now that, that, is a good one.

I have, after all, largely admired Mr. Gandhi's work on civil rights in South Africa as a very young man at the turn of the 20th Century, and (of course) his far-more-famous efforts to secure independence of his homeland, India, from the grasping colonialism of the British Empire.  His efforts would be laudable enough under most circumstances--I have that silly post-Enlightenment regard for autonomy and independence and all that--but that Mr. Gandhi favored nonviolence and civil disobedience as his tools for convincing others of the righteousness of his cause makes him especially heroic to someone like me, who has long agreed with the Isaac Asimov character who said, "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent."  

On the one hand, it isn't hard to imagine Mr. Gandhi, advocate for the downtrodden, taking a stand against Internet con artists.  On the other hand, it's just impossible to imagine, since the poor man was murdered in 1948 by a Hindu nationalist opposed to Pakistani independence.

Now, given my sensibilities (or lack of sense), one might assume that we'd move on to the possibility that Mr. Gandhi has been resurrected from the dead, has returned to the legal field, and struggles every day to preserve the vegetarianism called for by his religious beliefs with the infamous compulsion of some species of undead to devour brains.  (Considering Mr. Gandhi's experience with fasts, I don't believe this would be a problem for him at all, actually.)  But I happen to know that Mr. Gandhi, after his assassination, was cremated, and his ashes scattered not just at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna, but all over the world.  This, it seems to me, is a small obstacle to bodily resurrection.

It's possible that Mr. Gandhi is available as a wholly spiritual advisor, the common belief that attorneys have no souls notwithstanding.  That only raises even more questions, naturally, since Mr. Gandhi (you say) has an e-mail address through a Yahoo account, one that references his honorific "Mahatma" instead of, say, his actual name (Mohandas).  Do ghosts frequently have Yahoo accounts?  Were "mgandhi@yahoo" and "mohandasg@yahoo" already taken?  Is he able to work a computer keyboard by telekinesis or does he have to possess someone to check his inbox, and, if the latter, how does he reconcile ghostly possession with his philosophical and religious outlook?  (Speaking of which: does he use Microsoft Outlook?)

Does Mr. G. hobnob with other famous dead lawyers?  Is he in contact with Clarence Darrow, for instance?  Do they tell variations of dead lawyer jokes featuring themselves?  (Q: "What do you call five thousand dead lawyers?"  A: "You're right, it is getting crowded in here."  Q: "What's the difference between a dead skunk in the middle of the road and a dead lawyer in the middle of the road?"  A: "You shouldn't be so hard on Mr. Adams, 18th Century hygiene wasn't what it is today and frankly he just can't help it."  Etc..)

To be honest with you, the answers to these questions would probably be worth much more to me than five hundred dollars, which I'm sure I would just feel obligated to send to a credit card company.  So if you can address yourself to these, Mrs. Rawlings, I would appreciate it so much.


R. Eric VanNewkirk (Esq., so dead lawyers are of personal
interest as I'm likely to become one someday)
Standing on the Shoulders of Giant Midgets



Soundtrack for the weekend

>> Friday, October 02, 2015

Lots and lots of rain expected 'round here, thanks to that Hurricane Joaquin sneaking up on us.  It would have been nice if we'd gotten it in little bits all through the summer instead of all at once right now.

If you're on the east coast, keep your feet dry.  Keeping your feet dry's important, hey?


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