Sunday, June 22, 2014

Magic and Alchemy

I just watched a season 2 episode of Wonder Woman featuring Ed Begley, Jr. aka Stan Sitwell from Arrested Development. It's amusing, for Ed plays Harold Farnum, an eager fanboy and magician who wants to help Diana Prince in her investigation. There's a huge conference of magicians taking place at the hotel where Diana is meeting an oil prince. Most of Harold's magic tricks don't work, and he gets captured by the villain to use as bait for a trap, but Harold at least successfully constructs a carbon-arc torch in the hopes of escaping his prison cell. (But Wonder Woman just yanks the door open with her super-strength.) "Diana's Disappearing Act" is full of stage magic and mimes and a sinister magic shop. The villain is Count Cagliostro, a descendent of an Italian family that Wonder Woman apparently battled in the 18th century. They've always been magicians and swindlers, and the current Count has a scheme to turn lead into gold.

Harold has a crush on Diana, and wants to be her expert consultant on magic. She tolerates him and even refers to him as a "boy" at one point, though he's clearly not that young. Maybe everybody seems like a child to her since she's over 2,000 years old. I liked seeing all the various tricks performed, and Harold says that magicians refer to their art as "conjuring" since "magic" can also mean witchcraft. My recording blacked out for a few minutes in some kind of glitch, so I'll try to see if I can get the episode on Netflix or iTunes.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Klinger Won Again

The appeals court has ruled on Klinger's lawsuit against the Conan Doyle Estate. The characters of Holmes, Watson, etc are public domain as long as they are based only on the first 50 stories. The last 10 stories remain in copyright, and are considered "derivative works" of the original, earlier stories. So you only need to pay a license fee if you use material featured only in the last 10 stories. (If you read the PDF, the judge makes interesting arguments based on Shakespeare's characters changing in different plays, and well as the Star Wars movies being chronologically out of order.) Now we'll just have to see if the Conan Doyle Estate is stubborn enough to appeal the ruling yet again.

In the meantime, I finally broke my writer's block on Far From Over. I keep trying to login to to add the new chapter, but I can't get in. You can read it on AO3. I guess I'll keep working on the next chapter.

Saturday, June 14, 2014


On lighter subjects, I saw Maleficient earlier and enjoyed it quite a bit. I'm actually a huge fan of Disney's Sleeping Beauty film, yet I did not mind the changes to the plot, even if it meant that "Once Upon a Time" was not sung until the end credits. I was a little disappointed that Maleficient changed her servant into a dragon instead of herself, but the battle with the dragon in the castle was good, and I no longer feel the need to see the final Hobbit movie this December. Peter Jackson has milked the franchise too much.

I find it strange, though, that some movie critics didn't like Maleficent. They complained about her character not being a villain anymore. Why? Disney's recent hit Frozen also turned the traditional villain into a sympathetic character whose motives were misunderstood. Everybody loved that film and found it empowering, and enjoyed the fact that the sister's true love saved the day. That's what we got in Maleficient too. Why isn't it great for kids to see that good and evil are not black and white after all? That people can change for better or worse, being both hero and villain? I think that's great for today's complex world.

Iraq and Israel

Well Iraq is falling apart, but that's hardly a surprise. Not to be callous to the fact that our endless war destabilized the country (maybe the whole region), but I think it's surely time to admit that America can't fix it. No matter what we do, we are incapable of fixing it, and our continued presence is not going to make things better for the local people there. I'm not sure I'm okay with Obama doing airstrikes instead of sending ground troops, but there are no good choices now. I hope that Shep Smith is right, that the media won't pay attention to the war hawks that got us in there in the first place. When you've dug a hole, stop digging.

I'm rather encouraged to read that the Presbyterian Church is meeting to take actions against Israel. The article compares it to the movements to end South Africa's Apartheid. I hope more of the world can take such a stance. The diplomatic peace process seems to be going nowhere, and somehow we must end the madness.

As for the furor over Bowe Bergdahl, I can't stand that the controversy erupted into accusations of treason. And they acted like trading the Guantanomo detainees was a bad thing. If anything, I want more detainees released and the place shut down for good, but we have to settle for these half measures instead. This war has to end, and we need to leave. If we've left Syria to its own brutal civil war for this long, then Iraq too is not our business.