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Friday, April 17, 2015

SHTFriday: Convention Survival Strategies

Having returned from my second NRA Annual Meeting, I present you with some tips and tricks for how to make your next convention experience a safer, happier, more prepared one.

Also, there's a cartoon at the end!

& is used with permission.

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #34

It's the NRA Annual Meeting Minicast, featuring Sean, Adam, and myself in a short roundtable segment inside the NRAAM Press Room.

Thanks for downloading, listening, and subscribing. And don't forget to share with a friend!

Listen to the podcast here.
Show notes may be found here.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Devil of Broadcast's Kitchen (spoilers)

No really, there are spoilers here. Turn back if you haven't finished the show.

And so, while men of Iron and Magic Hammers fly in the urban canyons of NYC, we have a war brewing, simmering on a smaller scale in the charmingly-named Hells Kitchen. A place where the colours are washed out, and you wonder why anyone bothers wearing a coat in this heat. A place where the shadows themselves will sneak up and knife you in the ribs for your pocket change, and the little old ladies that have lived there their whole lives are harder men than the street toughs themselves.


Now that I've got that out of my system. Daredevil, won't you? Netflix's first toe dipped into the Marvel Cinematic Universe seems to be quite the success. If you haven't seen it, please stop reading now. I mean it. I won't be held responsible for butt-mad over Spoilers. Stop reading this, go watch 13 hours of Netflix, and come back. I'll wait.

In the meantime, how about that costume?! SPOILERS!!

Ok, all caught up? Phwoar. Wasn't that a ride? When I said simmering and boiling earlier, that wasn't just (corny) noir metaphor. What Netflix has delivered us is essentially a 13-hour origin story movie, not just for DD, but for Kingpin and the rest of the supporting cast. The episodic format really allows Daredevil room to expand on the usual flash and noise of the MCU films, drawing much more detail and nuance out of the characters and the world they inhabit in a way that was really only previously attempted with Winter Soldier, where they started the film assuming you already knew Cap, Widow, and Fury. Most origin stories give you maybe 20 minutes of build-up before we see the hero in the suit, but by saving it until the very last episode it has some real impact. We've really invested in Murdock by this point, seen him built up and torn down, and almost can't help but cheer when we finally see the suit.

There were a few, but very few, things I didn't like. I don't like Foggy, at least not yet. He's grown a little on me, but as I've heard it recently said something growing on you means that you're noticing less the things you hate about it. I didn't like Karen Page at first, either, but that may be less her fault and more Frank Miller's (still can't stop thinking “Daredevil's junkie ex-girlfriend” and worrying about her future, especially given her mentioning moving onto something harder than alcohol). I didn't like the surprise deaths of two of the supporting cast either, as I was really fond of their characters, but then Hell's Kitchen is dark and full of terrors. I should be used to this by now.

I adore Vanessa. Especially her acceptance of Fisk and his reality. I appreciate how this wasn't just Murdock's origin story, how it gave so much time to Fisk as well, showing us his childhood, his daily routine, how he fell apart after one of the aforementioned deaths. Vincent D'Pnofrio deserves some kind of award for his portrayal of Fisk, both for the physicality he brought to the role (how much weight did he put on, anyway?) and the mental portrayal as well. I see very clearly the childhood trauma, as well as a possibility of Fisk residing somewhere on the autism spectrum from D'Onofrio's performance. I dearly hope we see Madame Gao again, as well as seeing where her “true home” is,  it being much further away than China she said mysteriously. I enjoy Rosario Dawson in just about everything she's done (even Josie & The Pussycats), and didn't even peg her as Night Nurse until I'd looked her up later. I hope she shows up again. Stick is gloriously un-PC, perhaps the grouchiest old mentor that ever did mentor.

I mentioned, in hyperbole, that Daredevil has ruined Arrow for me. There is a little truth behind that. Netflix is taking a really dirty, realistic approach to the vigilante hero genre, one that is obviously far at odds with the slick, clean presentation of a CW show. There's a layer of grime on Daredevil that makes it so much more grounded, possibly the most grounded of all the MCU offerings yet, and it shows in everything from the establishing shots to the fight scenes. Shots of the streets of Hells Kitchen are teeming with people. There's garbage stacked against walls. Camera shots are much wider. Fight scenes have people rocked with fatigue and are not the clean, graceful ballets shown in Avengers or Agents of SHIELD. People get seriously hurt, and it wears you out just watching Matt Murdock take a beating just to get back up and take out a room full of thugs.

Ok, for real this time. How badass does he look. 
Ending where we began, the fact that this came out all 13 episodes at once on Netflix, and has pretty much set the internet on fire, shows an interesting development. This is a tight and focused story, and avoids having filler episodes or really even filler scenes, unlike other shows that have abbreviated runs.  This is my first experience with the launch of an internet-only show. I understand House of Cards and Orange is the New Black have come before it, but the idea that a show can drop an entire series at once and cause such an impact is fascinating, and it's got me eagerly anticipating the next MCU show.

...even if it is Jessica Jones.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Owning It, Part II

I'm back from the NRA Annual Meeting, and am pleased to report that the post-con drama has splashed on someone else this year.

However, some of you will remember what happened last year, and how I made a promise that
Perhaps I will become the poster girl for all the queer, transvestite and transgender gunnies out there (oh, they do exist, and probably in greater numbers than any of you imagine). And once again, I will be doing it to promote our cause, showing that gun owners, as a whole, are accepting of alternative sexualities and genders and lifestyles
It's not quite a year later, but behold the fruits of my labor: a poster inspired by my idea, and exucted by none other than Oleg Volk.


Now, I rather doubt this picture will "break the internet". I do, however, hope it causes more than a few brains to implode (or explode; I'm not picky). I would LOVE for this poster to be used as rhetorical ammunition against the folks who believe that “Guns are only for straight white males.” This ought to shut them up fast, and maybe get them to re-think their positions.

Inasmuch as you need my permission to post this picture to chat rooms, Facebook statuses and other online arguments, you have it. If they express doubts, just send them here and I'll happily tell them:
That's me, in the middle: the witch* with the beard.
Yes, I am biologically male. Yes, I identify as a woman and wear women's clothing whenever possible.
Yes, I am also pro-gun, pro-self-defense, and pro-liberty.
I do not see any conflict between these two viewpoints.
It is my sincere hope that this will encourage a change of thought from the folks who believe that "Guns are only for straight white males," because clearly they aren't.

For those who would like to learn more about me and my situation, I encourage you to read these blog posts as they will hopefully address most of your questions:
      1. Confession Time
      2. Duality
      3. My Origin Story
If you have any other questions about who I am or how I identify, I will be happy to answer them as I consider this a "teachable moment." Any legitimate question, no matter how poorly phrased, is welcome.

So, there you have it: I've taken last year's mockery and turned it into a powerful message about the diversity and inclusion of the gun community. 

Your move, haters.

* It’s the costume I wore on Halloween of last year. The convergence of “witch costume” and “Avada Kedavra on my rifle” was just too rich to ignore.

Friday, April 10, 2015

By the time you read this...

I will be already dead in Nashville for this year's NRA Annual Meeting.

Hopefully the guest article I set up over at Blue Collar Prepping has already posted.

Have a great weekend, everypony!


Thursday, April 9, 2015

My Little Pony: Equality is a Social Construct

So I got talked into watching MLP a few years back by my roommate, who got in on the ground floor when 4chan originally had its pony explosion. I was reluctant. But I gave the show a chance, and will tell anyone who asks that it's really not bad. It's more intelligently written than a lot of kids fare, with positive messages and a clean art style, but I didn't watch much beyond the first season so I'm hopelessly lost on continuity. And that's all the time that I'm going to spend defending why I'm writing about it now. Not that I really need to, given Erin's loud and proud acceptance of it.

But I've no idea at all how this two-part episode was made, let alone green-lit. It's heavy subject matter, even for adult programming. The teal;deer of it is that the mane cast are called, via a magic map, to a town that may be in trouble. When they arrive, they meet something not unlike some Eastern Bloc village that wouldn't look out of place in 1980s Romania or Poland. Dilapidated, nearly identical houses, beaten-down looking people (er, ponies) with bags under their eyes and a smile masking abject terror of stepping out of line, a few with literal sack-cloth clothing. They're greeted by the townsfolk and their spokesperson, all of whom have an Equal symbol instead of the regular cutie-mark most characters on the show have.

We're given a run-down of the situation in the town in the form of a musical number which cements this as the creepiest god damn cartoon I have ever seen, even taking into account any number of anime I may have attempted watching over the years. With lines like “No pony left behind” and “you can't have nightmares if you never dream” delivered through forced smiles and cracked voices it's obvious that this episode has a Message behind it. And normally, I can't stand Message stories, unless they're very well handled.

Which... this one is. Given the implication that any inhabitant of the town that steps out of line is quickly squashed, and that people are assigned work that they clearly are not good at nor have any desire to do so, the episode seems to be tackling the difference between Equality of Opportunity and Equality of Outcome. It's a difference that I think is an important one to acknowledge. One is a good thing. The other means that you're not letting people pursue what's important to them. Which should go without saying is not a good thing, but I'm sure there's people out there that don't feel that way.

This is, essentially, Harrison Bergeron for kids. Which is the most subversive thing I've seen since the Lego Movie, and that just tickles me to no end. The foreshadowing statement of “I bet there's some horrific monster behind it all” becomes especially poignant when the horrific monster turned out to be someone that thought they knew what was best for those around them and took steps to hobble the abilities and talents of others for the sake of everyone else. Even moreso when it turned out that the horrific monster had the rank hypocrisy to not only keep her talents but use them to enforce equality amongst the town. The very worst villain is the one that thinks they're the good guy.

Given all the recent advancements in outrage culture, this really couldn't have come at a more politically convenient time. Some form of equestrian Marxism, with the imagery of the equality symbol smeared across miserable people. I even cheered a little at the scene that mirrored the old Apple advert with the woman throwing the hammer at the Big Brother screen. Given that I've been questioning my own political affiliations based on the most vocal proponents of them and have seen good people smeared with terrible slurs against them for simply disagreeing with hivemind lock-steps, I can't help but feel it resonate when so many miserable faces are represented by an equality symbol, and the word equal used with such sinister overtones.

And don't think I didn't catch that Wilhelm scream during the final scene, Hasbro.

I've included a link, if you're interested in seeing a mature audiences, non-pony version of the episode.  

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Fine Print

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Creative Commons License

Erin Palette is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.