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Three great sites

1. The Ultimate Answer to Kings. A few years back, on a forum that was in those days known as The Claire Files, I kept running into this guy. I’d be reading along in some thread. I’d think of a scintillatingly witty reposte … and before I could click to post it … this guy, Joel, would say exactly what I was thinking, only say it better and shorter. The nerve of that man, huh?

He’s blogging these days, and his blog is The Ultimate Answer to Kings.

When you go there, you can never be quite sure what you’ll find — an account of his latest off-grid adventures, a YouTube video of a really weird song, a snarky riff on government stupidity (but I repeat myself), or maybe just a long ramble about his dogs. But it’s always worthwhile.

2. The Anchorage Libertarian Examiner. I encountered Kevin Wilmeth much more recently — in the comments section of this very blog. But I was immediately struck by his warmth, humanity, and thoughtful, stylish writing, which is very much evident in his Examiner columns.

And despite being the Anchorage examiner, it’s not just about Alaska. It’s become an everyday stop for me.

3. Market Theocracy. Sigh. What can I say about George Potter? Like me, he can be a tad flaky. Unlike me, he’s a brilliant writer, particularly of fiction. And I don’t mean “brilliant among political ranters.” I mean flat-out, world-class brilliant. His fiction could stand alongside the greatest, if he had the ambition to pursue professional publication (and if the once-great American short-story market hadn’t mostly dried up and blown away).

As is, George’s gift is our gift. He has just resumed blogging after a hiatus, with posts that include both real-world observations and his astonishing stories. Looking at the site this morning, I see he’s off with a roar. (Glad you’re back, George. And I agree on the power of District 9. I don’t give it much of a chance at the Oscars, either. But it was great to see it among the nominees, and oh my, do I want to see Neill Blomkamp’s future work!)


  1. Kevin Wilmeth
    Kevin Wilmeth February 4, 2010 11:56 pm

    Thanks for the plug, Claire. And for the other two suggestions as well. Duly bookmarked; will check ’em out!

    Your comment about the “Anchorage” label resonates. I am not a fan of labels in general, but it seems that many places demand them, and we do what we can. I’ve never been perfectly happy with the Examiner title, although it could be far worse, too. “Anchorage” has always been a misnomer; when I started with Examiner I lived in Palmer (about 40m north of Anchorage) and now I live in Homer (about 220m south). Granted, in Alaska that’s about as “local” as you can get without actually being in the city itself, and it’s not hard to keep on the pulse of the big town from just about anywhere, but still. And likewise, I am leery of the “libertarian” label too–both because that term regularly seems to get hijacked by a certain kind of opportunist who is nothing of the sort, and also because that term usually implies more minarchist than anarchist tendencies–and, well, that ain’t me anymore.

    On the other hand, a truly accurate title (fitting the Examiner mold) such as “Interplanetary Advocate For Individual Sovereign Human Beings” would get a bit cumbersome… πŸ™‚

  2. George Potter
    George Potter February 5, 2010 2:05 am

    Thanks for the mention and the link, sis. πŸ™‚ Good to have YOU back!

    I just enjoyed the hell out of D9. Not only was it perhaps the best use of ‘documentary-style’ film technique (mainly because Blomkamp was smart enough to drop that style for the action sequences, making the film both dynamic and observant) I’ve seen yet, but it was also an SF story that was on par with literary work. Compare the subtetly, complexity and emotional power it has over something like Independance Day. Blomkamp is quite obviously a fan of SF and understands it sufficiently to do something new with a project, and tie in enough hooks to current culture to make it relevant. I even loved what he did with the cliche of ‘evil corporation’. (FUN TIP: Think about certain an-cap ‘systems’ like vast insurance/private military schemes as you watch. πŸ˜‰ )

    Best part of the film though, IMO, was the main character as played by Sharlto Copely. Wikus Van De Merwe is a very rare character type: an ‘everyman’ who is as flawed as he is virtuous. He’s played as neither a saint or a bumbler, but as a man who is trying his best to do good under pressure and is mostly failing. He’s something of a bigot, something of an ass-kisser, and something of a toadie. But Copely invests enough reality into him that we still feel for him when the conflict begins, and sympathize when he (for example) speaks to his wife (who he obviously loves and cherishes) and tries to reassure her despite his own fear and dread. This flawed nature makes his eventual heroic stand actually work, giving the viewer a simply powerhouse finale.

    Total longshot for the Oscar and a damn shame that Blomkamp’s brilliant debut work was ignored. This is also one of the first major productions to use the ultra-high resolution Red camera system, and a beautiful job all around.

    Another cool thing was the odd, heartening way the film came about. Peter Jackson took his promise to Blomkamp that he’d be making his feature debut seriously. When funding for the adaption of the video-game HALO fell through, Jackson’s company raised the funding for D9. Such incidences of honor and decency in a cut-throat business always make me happy. (BTW: those who have played HALO will recognize similarities to D9’s alien tech. I’m convinced Blomkamp was poking at the moneyshy executives who cancelled HALO. “I did it anyway and look how COOL it looks!” πŸ˜€ )

    One last rambling D9 bit: I found it amusing that the Nigerian government handled the films accusations of thuggery by becoming thuggish: censoring, banning and confiscating the film within their borders. I’m sure that worked wonders! LOL

  3. Claire
    Claire February 9, 2010 5:59 am

    Been meaning to make a long response to George’s post about “District 9” for days. Can’t seem to get to it. So mostly, I’m just going to say +1. And … if you haven’t seen D9 and you love good movies … see it.

    G., I was a little discombobulated when it switched from faux documentary style to live-action. But I could see that it had to be. And both were done well.

    And Sharlto Copley as Wikus van de Merwe … Yes! Amazing acting job (from a man who never intended to become an actor, though he’s been involved with film & theater since high school). Excellent transformation (and I don’t mean just in the physical sense). Even though toward the end D9 used some pretty old “reluctant hero” plot devices, I believed them because SC made Wikus’s inner torments so real.

    Maybe not a great all-time movie. But sure as heck a great first film, a terrific SF film, and one that really gets under your skin and stays there.

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