The theology of Sausage Party

It is enough to look at the ~2minutes of the trailer for Sausage Party to realize it is one crass, raunchy, silly comedy. For all its juvenile humor, it also gets enough critics puzzled enough that the rottentomatoes critical consensus is about its good gag-to-laugh ratio and thought provoking story-line. And there's something to that, I think. So buckle up, we're going to use a stoner comedy to explore theology.--:--Let's first summarize the plot. Spoiler alert, obviously, though the trailer reveals the basic premise anyway: food items are conscious. They wait on the shelves of the supermarket to be picked up by the gods, and carried to some better place where "nothing bad ever happens to food", as their song goes.Well, something bad does happen to food once it reaches the home of the gods obviously. Those "gods", well, us, they eat the food. And they slice it, dice it, boil it -- even the children -- and do all sorts of unpleasant things to it. One of…

A view on Moldbug from the other Red side

I mentioned in my previous post that I encountered an analysis of American politics about which I wanted a response from people who had lived under communism, such as my parents. That American analysis, a summary more like, is an hour long video and deserves a critique on its own terms (SOON(TM)). This is not that critique, it's simply a view from a different part of history that I thought would be interesting.Since the video is rather long, I'll try to summarize the main points first, so that we know what we compare against. There are a few general historical and philosophical ideas in it, but for now the pertinent ones are more tightly concerned with the USA and how it is run.The video's author, The Distributist, in summarizing Moldbug, claims political power in America has a strong informal component: it is not so much the governing party that really is in charge. Politics is downstream from culture, and culture is shaped by elites working in journalism, in universities…

Translation -- not betrayal but examination

I like to think that people who see me post on CritiqueCircle would be surprised to learn English is my second language. I would boast even more -- I think in English, though, perhaps, this is less surprising since the language I interact with most in my profession, and for a good portion of my leisure time, is English. At some point thoughts themselves will start following its haggard strings of consonants.I think my boast is based on truth, but even so, or rather because of this belief, I found cause for surprise in a little translation I undertook recently. I had watched a video from The Distributist several times over the past year or so, a bit more in recent times. The video itself deserves a post or two to discuss, but this is not that post. Sufficient to say, I found it an interesting, but very "American" perspective on things. What would someone who had lived under communism think of it? What would my father think of it? But of course here was the problem: the video …

Horror apologetics

What place for horror? This article does a great job of listing possible reasons why some people enjoy the genre, and it even does this coming from a non-horror fan perspective. But of course, as a horror fan, I feel like I need to comment :) There's something that, I think, Rick's article doesn't emphasize enough, something paradoxically sympathetic to his sensibilities that he misses about Horror, because the genre's odor is, to be fair, rather strong.

But before I get to deep stuff I also must acknowledge that Horror is trashy in a way other genres don't seem to be. Sturgeon's Law is universal: 90%+ of everything is crud, but somehow the stereotypical Bad Movie is a Horror one. Indeed, it may well be that it was around Horror, or around Horror-infused fare like certain SF films of the 50s, that the "So Bad It's Good" style of movie enjoyment sprung up.

There's material enough in the "So Bad It's Good" concept for another artic…

Dark Magics to avoid

If there's anything true of art in general, it's that any rule beginning with "don't" should be broken on occasion. Art should engage the soul, the conscious soul even, and nothing better for that than the occasional thing that's just that bit out of place, that bit unexpected. Conform to every rule you heard and what you produce can be consumed automatically. It's when the rules fail that consciousness kicks in.

So in that spirit, treat the following "don'ts" as guidelines, and even break them-- but make sure you know what you're doing ;) For what follows is a list of magical powers which, if let loose on a plot, stand a good chance to render it hole-y. And the list is by no means exhaustive: feel free to argue for more items to be put on it.

To give a flavor of the disruptive nature of magic, let's look at an example that will NOT kill a story ... but which, the character who suggested it argued, would kill society.

NaN. Invisibilit…

Narrative constriction, and the zero sum game of complexity and meaning

I've finally reached a decent enough point in outlining my second draft of my WiP. I'll spare you the details of that process; it's a muddle of moving stuff around, throwing stuff out, putting new stuff in. But if there's any pattern that emerges from this chaos of decisions, it's something I'd call, for lack of a better term, narrative constriction.

You know it well, you've seen it many times in stories. The friendly ranger turns out to be a lost king. The sleuth takes the case because it will avenge her former partner. And the big evil dude in a black mask and cape turns out to be the protagonist's father. There are a few things to say about this.

First, the world we know doesn't work that way. I'm not complaining about the improbability of coincidences here. It makes sense, in each of those stories' universes, for the coincidence to happen; indeed, everything is arranged such that it wouldn't make sense, were the coincidence to be avo…

Throwing the hero/ine into the quest

NaNoWriMo is upon us, again. I won't participate this year, but I take its start to also begin writing the next draft of my WiP. I have it all nicely summarized, except for one trifle: how to lay out the stakes before my MC (and the reader). The "Call to Adventure", as it is sometimes known, or Inciting Incident.

The Call should happen reasonably early in the story. It's the moment when the reader gets to know the main conflict (or something that is a plausible main conflict until something even bigger shows up). Also, the reader gets to know the stakes. The hero/ine must prevail, or else ... and whatever the "else" is, hopefully it gets the reader to care about the narrative proceedings.

I decided to have a look at some "Calls to adventure" from recent published first time novels (with a couple examples from more established authors thrown in as well), just to see what "the proper ways" to do this may be. But first, let's look at an…