Minor Edits

Soft Hearts, Hard Memories hasn’t been … shall I say, popular … though it does appear to enjoy interest among a certain demographic… what it needed was some editing. Just some typographical stuff here and there.

That’s one of the challenges of being ones own editor and publisher. Not that I expect my work to go gangbusters. Who knew personal accountability would be such a hard sell?


Here’s a snippet, in the event you’re curious:

Pauline was perplexed, but calm, and I saw trust flickering in her eyes. I went on to tell them about how it all started, and that was easy for me. I have a lot of dramatic, cool stories about the Knights. “KnightsMage Sol is my daughter, and you know… no you don’t, do you? Gonna have t’ fix that. She’s a good girl. Commander o’ the KnightsMage… makin’ sure all of you have been safe here.”

“But they took Daelia!” Amanda shrieked from her niche. “It were one man! You din’t stop ‘im!”

“I tried!” I cried, speechless and overwhelmed. Maybe I could have told her how much I wanted to save all of them, all their friends, and just sweep them all away to a better place. Maybe it was best that I hadn’t. Instead I asked Amanda how she was feeling, doing.

“They can’t take me,” she said. “I don’ eat’n don’ talk neith’r… t’ make ‘em not want me. In dis cage we’re all want’d.”

I was flabbergasted. She understood perfectly.It made me hate their situation, and the fact that I’d put them here. But then… “How would they know, Amanda?”

Was it wrong to bring them into it? To keep the discussion of the problem among the KnightsMage, Reggie and I? According to Alliance Law these girls are their own legal guardians…nothing here is logical, and the only answer I could see was to take the reigns and cover all the angles.

“I dun know,” she murmured. Her face curled to wring out the emotion and tears. “I dun wannadie!”

“You’ve taken this too far, Aaran!” Beatrice berated me, fast approaching from the opposite end of the room. “Face it… the only thing better would be to put them all in prison.”

Grab your copy at Smashwords.

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Why I’m Saying “No Thanks” to Doctor Who as a Woman

For those who don’t understand why Doctor Who as a character can vary so much between regenerations, or actors, I’ll lay things out plainly so we’re talking on the same terms: The Doctor’s personality is Producer/Show Runner determined. It’s rarer in North America to have a show’s director/producer also be its creator and writer, but less so in UK television and film.

Also, Doctor Who has been running since 1964 and has seen a few different producers, each with unique ideas and takes on the Doctor and his world. Anyone concerned about the gender matrix can jump ship now, because the other part of this equation is that I’m a Latter-Day Saint of the Church of Jesus Christ. Here’s how that affects this context: We believe that all things are formed in the spirit before being formed in the flesh.

That means that flowers are expressly beautiful and designed with purpose, and mortals have two set genders, regardless of the complications of mortality. You may choose to believe otherwise, but understand that is what I believe – and know in my heart – to be true. Life provides many challenges to overcome, and the advent of a female Doctor Who is one of them.

If you’re comfortable with my beliefs, read on. Otherwise, I won’t be brooking any arguments, nor will I be entertaining any conflict. Agency is our God given gift, and the right of every living soul. Good? Excellent. Let’s move on.

Ultimately I don’t have a problem with a female Time Lord. In fact, Romana was a lot of fun and extremely interesting, as she provided a different perspective that allowed us to understand Time Lords a little better. Also, lest we forget – oh how quickly we forget – there is in fact a female version of The Doctor, grown from a sample of his DNA and launched into space many seasons ago.

So that being the case, what’s my beef? The idea of the Doctor regenerating as a woman isn’t strange, and could even work… except that it doesn’t. There are intangible, inherent differences between male and female that supersede genetics, and they are – lest you wonder – the soul. ‘But,’ I hear you say, ‘there’s an argument that you’re wrong here!’

Can we settle this hash quickly? Probably not, but I’m going to try anyway, like so – and yes, it means referring to examples in my religion, but there are others. President Nelson, otherwise known as our Prophet, presides over our Church, guiding us to the Lord, Jesus Christ. His wife, Wendy Nelson, stands tall with him shoulder to shoulder. She has not been called by God to preside, but she leads in example, word and deed as his spiritual and literal equal. She is entitled to the same priesthood blessings that our Prophet receives.

Why can’t she be Prophet? That may seem a delicate matter, but it’s actually quite simple: First of all she wasn’t called to be. In the church those appointed to positions of teaching and leadership are called by divine revelation. This is because callings are opportunities to learn and applicable specifically to the one being called. Our hearts, minds and souls are taught specifically to our needs, which – of course – necessitates an understanding that our Church is led by a living God, and divine revelation. And that, my friends is very much the point.

Try as we might to teach children what we want them to do, they choose for themselves often in spite of our best hopes for them. We are, as sons and daughters of God, taught before birth and given the opportunity to choose for ourselves in this life. So we do, and here we are with a Doctor Who is not the manifestation of his soul. Where’s the logic?

So glad you asked. You won’t like this. How does one justify guilty behavior? Oh, hush, I know fans of the show have been requesting a female regeneration of The Doctor since the 1970’s. Is it any wonder that Moffat decided to trial and error The Master as female? It was unnecessary, even if the character was fun. By the token of the logic you’ve read so far, no, that wasn’t The Master either. It didn’t ring emotionally, or psychologically true to me.

I wouldn’t be surprised if – seeing what he would have to do – that was one of the reasons Moffat decided to quit the show. A gender swap is an interesting conceptual experiment, and one I have dabbled in. A character in Starlit Ruins had Ranma’s curse, and rather a nightmarish college life because of it. She was born female, but changed gender when she made physical contact with hot or cold water, depending which gender she happened to be at the time.

Of course novel I wrote based on Sailor Moon and Palladium Rifts is going to borrow a lot from my influences. It’s a free download, if you’re interested… ahem. Moving on.

Emotionally, Tenma – not the most inventive name, I’ll quickly admit – was female, so she was grounded and straightforward to write as any of the other dozens of characters in the novel. Would she have been less grounded now with so much fluidity about? Not at all, given her birth parents and upbringing. She chose to accept her birth gender, having no guilt and very little problem with “switching” until she was sexually assaulted.

I’m talking about her emotional issues, not yours. Nor am I speaking in general terms about what motivates the gender spectrum community. Let’s not wander that path. As I’ve said, the choice is yours, even if believe it isn’t. That’s the irony of agency: We choose what we want to believe, even if evidence confirms or denies what we are determined upon. That is also the beauty of agency, as it happens. Now, if you’re wondering how this all applies to the latest female regeneration of the Doctor, why don’t we get into that?

Here’s a good way to tackle the issue. Why would a female clone of the Doctor be acceptable when a female regeneration isn’t? I bet you’ve already figured it out. I did leave a hint when I spoke about Tenma. The clone of the Tenth Doctor was “born” female, and thus has a female soul. Clones get souls? You bet they do. But, I can tell you’re burgeoning with a question.

What if the clone was born with a male soul in a female body? Does that happen? Can I prove to you either way? Of course not, and you certainly can’t alter my understanding of the matter that tells me it never happens. It’s too deep, which is why we’re taught to respect and honour each other’s beliefs and choices. The evidence is there, whether we decide to seek it out and accept it is up to us.

Oh, I can tell you’re not satisfied. Here, let’s address some things about men and women before I conclude this discussion: Women can be good leaders, but the fact is they tend not to be – at least, not in the same way as men. By contrast the Senate of the American government is not a righteous body of masculine leadership, by any stretch of the imagination. Succinctly, I’ll say this of our political turmoil: The world is not ruled by men, it is ruled by choices.

Intrinsically, men drive forward while women provide stability that men cannot create. Our capacity for world affecting consequence is not dictated by the genitalia that genetics gave us. It is, however, affected by the wont of our souls. What do we most desire in our hearts? Men cannot lead and guide alone. We’re not – typically – spiritually sensitive enough on our own to be prepared for the needs of those around us. Women – also typically – have an more natural understanding of what we fundamentally are: Spirit children of Heavenly Parents.

Ah yes, that thing – Heavenly Father. You know. Where is our Heavenly Mother? Oh, she’s there, but protected from our reckless ways. It’s important to understand that the universe is not driven by male energy, nor is it fabricated solely by female understanding and heart. Equality between the two is the answer, there. that is a matter sacred and beyond the purview of this particular writing.

Remember that guilt I talked about before? Having a producer that will gender swap the Doctor for heretofore unstated purposes will do a lot to grey down the differences between the sexes – or rather, provide needed justification. You see, if the Doctor can become female, why bother? Why not do both? Or neither? Once you start down that rabbit hole, there is no end. What does anything matter if being female, or being male, has no implication or affect on the fabric of humanity?

If there is no true gender, why does your specific flavour of gender matter so much? Oh, don’t worry about it – there’s no accusation here. If you watch the female Doctor and love it, by all means, that’s your choice. But insofar as I go, I started backing away from The Doctor about the time that Missy showed up. It’s not that I don’t love a good villain, because I do. It just didn’t ring true to me, and as far as everything goes, my heart is my guide.

And my heart tells me that a female Doctor Who is a serious mistake.

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What Drew Me Back Into The Marvel Universe

I can sum up my interest in Marvel heroes in a few words: Selfless, smart, strong, vulnerable and real. Peter Parker embodied those qualities in The Amazing Spider-Man, which my Dad and I read for decades. Well, a decade, but that’s a long time for a comic hero.

From that point I watched bits and pieces of the various animated series that were produced during the 1990s and early 2000s. The comics were what I remembered most, so when Fox produced the first Spider-Man film, of course I was on board. It was over the top, somewhat campy and unrealistic (it didn’t even seem to try), but it was also best production at that point.

Spider-Man 2 spelled trouble, though, getting little things wrong, like Doctor Octopus. Willem Dafoe as Harry Osborne was pure genius, but the writing didn’t hold water. What was wrong about Doc Ock? I don’t remember feeling anything about the guy. Next to the Molecule Man, he was one of Spidey’s most deadly foes. He possessed a fearsome intellect and formidable will to survive that put Spidey on his heels on many occasions. Not in the movie! [Un]fortunately for the movie franchise, it all petered out from there.

No, I’m not apologizing for that pun. You can go make your own. To this day Peter as a goth is easily just as absurd as that ridiculous upside down kiss. That’s about as sexy to me as a canker sore — no apologies for that, either. I’m pleased to see Marvel’s new take on “Mary-J”, which is part of my point here. Fox’s versions of characters I’d grown up with were completely forgettable, whereas Marvel grabbed my attention with their relatable character driven writing.

Though, not right away. The Hulk was an impressive movie on many levels, but emotionally poignant it was not. It certainly didn’t grip me. Over the years I’ve been drawn toward angry characters; of the TMNT bros Raphael is my all time favorite. I grew up harbouring a lot of anger, so yeah, I personally understood that struggle. That’s why Iron Man/Tony Stark was my way back into the superherodom. I didn’t “get” Captain America, until The Avengers came along.

Yes he’s steady guy, but his personality was pretty dry — like Scott Summers — until Joss came along and injected him with a dose of humour and vulnerability. The follow ups — Winter Soldier and Civil War — managed to keep up the flow until we bumped face first into the marketing wall that is Infinity War. How are we supposed to click in with a guy like Steve? They tried, and I’m not going to say Captain America was a bad movie, but I’m not going to say it was at all interesting, either.

Faults ground these incredible superbeings in reality for us and make them believable. No, I don’t do the things Tony does, I sure grok his arrogance-to-self-defeat-failstate. You know, thinking you’ve got everything in hand because you can understand a lot until it all crumbles at your feet because of something you didn’t anticipate? It certainly was possible for the Capsicle and Green Rage Monster to hit me in the feels with their origin tales, but again, the writing just wasn’t there.

Good writing is always insightful character writing regardless of the situation or premise. How well do we relate to R2-D2 when he’s just an Astromech? A whistling tin can with blinking lights? We do, though, because of what he goes through. George Lucas might not know how to handle budding romance and soul distorting vengeance, but he sure can amuse us with the Laurel and Hardy antics of Star Wars’ metallic comedy duo.

As the saying goes, they’re our way in. We understand as much as they do in what is now called A New Hope, so they’re an analogue for our introduction to this new universe. Who does that for us in Iron Man? Why, Tony does. He’s the bigger than life billionaire genius philanthropist whose bravado — even hubris, at times — becomes a stumbling block that brings him crashing down to reality.

What reality, you ask? That our talents, gifts and skills can accomplish a lot, but are limited in their capacity to solve our problems, and that distractions — drinking, sex, whatever your poison happens to be — won’t always make them go away. It doesn’t stop us from trying, and doesn’t mean we’re incapable of acting bravely, even nobly, when it is required of us.

The key to each of the Avengers origin stories is, as I’ve said, the finding of their purpose. Why become a hero? For Tony Stark it’s the guilt of loss, which is similar to Steve Rogers, and one of the many reasons they butt heads. Bruce Banner, however, well, no one really knew his purpose until Joss began to figure it out. He stopped short of the answer, but he did explain what “his secret” was. Peter’s reason for becoming a hero was, at first, selfish, until negligence resulted in the death of his uncle.

Amusingly, “You won’t like me when I feel guilty” doesn’t make a very good tagline in spite of how common it is. Tony doesn’t overcome his guilt in a fell swoop, admitting in Iron Man 3 to being a being a “hot mess”. Which was a blast, thank you very much, compared to the dark and dreary story in the comics. How else were they supposed to make such a harsh premise palatable for mass appeal? Of all the options available, levity is the smart choice because it enabled them to deal unreservedly with the relevant issues of terrorism and genetic manipulation.

Comics are a playground for artists and writers, who get to see what works for an audience and what does not. Lest we forget, Superman’s blue lightning superpower phase lasted all of what, one year? I only read one issue, so I’m really not sure, and since everyone’s forgotten… well, that’s rather my point. I recently watched all three Iron Man movies back to back and enjoyed them every bit as much as the last few times I’ve seen them. If nothing else that’s my cue that Marvel succeeded in their goal of making superheros worth watching again.

Thank you for reading. Instead of tearing the MCU down, this time, I decided to talk about my “Marvel Origin Story” just a bit. I like to balance things out. If you’d like to read more, consider following and/or subscribing. I’ve decided to make this a weekly routine, so I’d like to pose a question: If you’re watching the MCU, or DCU for that matter, who got your attention or brought you back from a haitus?

Ta for now!

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