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Word of the day: Sunk

Long Story Short: Owen hurt the feelings of an ineffable monster in another dimension.

As a general principle the second novel is more important than the first. Anyone can write an interesting book, given enough effort and time. The amount of people who a second interesting book is much smaller. (Of course Larry is far beyond this at this point.) If The Empire Strikes Back had been a flop we would not have Star Wars as a thing these days. Vendetta succeeds at this. Many of the writing bad habits that bothered me from the first book have been ironed out. (Although, Larry still used “Stated” for about a third of dialogue tags. Just one of my pet peeves.) The gun lingo has been dialed down but is still ever present. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, every writer loves their own expertise a little more than their readers. I do remember a time or two where I felt I was missing something by not know what the gun a particular character pulled out looked like.
Pacing is less breakneck than the first book. It was nice to have time to puzzle out the mystery before revelation.
Vendetta isn’t shy about hitting the emotion button.

Last Word: Smile.


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Well it’s award season. Everyone is quibbling about snubs and erroneous nominations. People are predicting winners and exhibiting their knowledge of the state of the arts. Frankly it is fun, but it can be nerve wrecking if you take it too seriously. There are even people arguing about which award is best. Is it the Oscars or the Golden Globes? Is it the Hugo or the Dragon? TO quote Linkin Park, “In the end it doesn’t even matter.” The true answer is that there is only one award that matters, the ‘what you personally like award’. That’s too long to put on a trophy (they charge by the letter.) so I shortened it to the Vernon Awards. Eligibility depends not on publication date but on when Vernon personally experienced the art. Categories will vary depending on mood and what I remember. (Also whether or not I do this next year depends on if I remember it exists.)

So here I present the 2017 Vernon Awards (which I won’t print trophies for unless the creator begs me.)

Best Book: Unforgettable by Eric James Stone

No one remembers this dude so he decided to be a super cool spy. If you can’t handle quantum mechanics = magic this one might not be for you. I think most people can accept the big lie for the sake of entertainment. Unforgettable does great work avoiding the little lies so it works.

Best Movie: The Little Prince

This movie is filled with so many things that make me happy. It is my soul made art. It is a Netflix exclusive in the U.S.

Best Youtube Video: Here Comes a Thought

I found myself ending every youtube session with this one. It is one of the few moments of peace to be found in this world. (I don’t really know much about the cartoon it came from.)

Best Lego Set: Super Heroes Super Hero Airport Battle 76051


You can’t beat Gi-Ant man. (Even if he does have a hard time not bending over. I need to figure out how to add some friction to his hip joints.)

Best MegaBloks set: TMNT Krang’s Rampage

Not only is this based on my childhood cartoon, but the turtles have metal shells and Krang is just perfect. (Young me likes this very much.)

Best Album: Strings of Determination

This is music from a game I haven’t played but the music is perfect for productivity.

Best TV series: Phineas and Ferb.

This show ended in 2015, but they didn’t post on Netflix til 2016 so it counts. P&F is the ultimate anthem for going out and doing things. Top notch writing and solid animation, plus beautiful music.

Best Skylander: Jingle Bells Chompy Mage.


Gotta love Chompy Mage, he cares only for the smallest and most defenseless of creatures. (Who are absolutely deadly in large numbers.) He has been one of the most entertaining boss battles in previous Skylanders games. Now he is Santa Claus.

Best Grumpy Cat Picture:


I’d say presented without comment, but this is a comment so . . .

Best Pokemon: Alolan Muk.


I named him Disco Stu. He is the anchor of my team in Sun.

Best Video Game: Splatoon

This is the only competetive online game I have ever been good enough at for it to be fun. (Unless there is a snow day for most of the US. Then I can’t even get off the spawn point without getting splatted.)

Best Worst Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/ayq41-UJ7Cg

I mean just look at this net!

Best Webcomic: Kiwi Blitz

This was a tough category and I think I graded the heavy hitters too harshly. But Blitz is a plucky comic that has kept going through all sorts of adversity. By that I mean the creator Mary Cagle has kept going on it even though she has had all sorts of other things going on. Most comics like this end as the creators find the need to do other things. Blitz is a labor of love and it shows.

Best Me: Vernon.

If there was another person eligible in this category I’d like to meet them.

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Well 2016 sure was something. Personally it has been pretty good. Being out of school has allowed me to think my own thoughts. Having a vacation from work has allowed me to examine my goals and priorities. I’ve been writing far more often. My midsingles ward feels like home and people know I exist.
The prevailing meme these last few months has been 2016 worst year. Yeah, there was a lot of awfulness.

Infighting among our super heroes.
We have lost so many real life legends.
I have lost friends and family.
Our two party system asked us to choose between the worst candidates.
Wars and terrorism burned daily across the planet.

The world have never been safe. 2016 was no different. People will do what we’ve always done, roll with the punches and pick up the pieces. The British “Keep Calm and Carry On” posters have been made fun of so much, but it is a much better policy than “Panic and Fall Apart.”

Heroes are redeemed, that’s how stories work.
There will always be room for new legends, we need to work to be them.
Making new friends doesn’t dishonor the old ones. Loving the family we still have doesn’t desert those not with us.
As always we need to oppose or support our elected officials at every turn. We still have a constitution.
I don’t know how to salve the world’s suffering.

The world is turning still, the sun still burns. We are moving forward whether it seems that way or not. We can make our worlds better. Complaining doesn’t save the world. Facebook isn’t a clear picture of it. You will find what you are looking for. If you look for the negative, it is there. The positive is also there. As for resolutions:



So that’s a relief. My resolution was broken minutes into 2017. Actually I usually try to write 100 goals. They have to be crossoffable and are often books I want to read or artistic endeavors I want to work on. I usually don’t reach 100 and forget about it but still it is good to plan. Right now I’m sitting at 47. This year I’m going to keep those in the back of my notebook that I carry with me everywhere. If I fill that notebook then I’ll transfer the goals to the new notebook.
Another technique I have picked up is a weekly goal journal. You list three goals. The goals have to be measurable. Measurable is like: get to sleep by ten, write three blog posts, don’t eat ramen for every meal. Unmeasurable is like: be happy, exercise more(unless you track your exercise), be less vague. Every morning you look in the journal to remind yourself of your goals. Then every night you review your goals and write out how you did. The important thing with this goal journal is it not be an overlord. If you didn’t work on a particular goal that day just write that, no biggie.
Renewal is important. It prevents late fees and gives more breathing room. The important thing to remember is that if the rules you impose on yourself are hurting you you can break them.

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One thing I find frustrating is adults who feel the need to apologize for their reading habits, whatever those habits are. Nearly everyone does it. “I don’t read as much as I should.” “I don’t read very fast.” “I don’t read anything important.” “I read too much.” My question is: who set these rules? Is there some reading authority out there telling people that reading is a competition? One must read the right books at the right speed in the proper amount. Is there an award for the person who most meets these guidelines? Are the judges secret so one might be talking to a judge at any time? Must we be ready at all times to give the proper answer or face serious consequences?

I think the way we teach reading is making us all so neurotic about it that we can’t focus on the actual reading. Once upon a time when I was going to be a teacher (which I bailed out of when I saw into the yawning chasm of how much more college it would cost me) I learned something important. Books are chosen by teachers or school boards (or the government . . .) not because they are by some metric the great works™ of literature but because they make it easy to teach things from. You can teach symbolism using The Great Gatsby because Fitzgerald thought glowing billboards are subtle. The Scarlet Letter teaches “those nasty teenagers to quit treating each other so poorly.” When you look at “the cannon” you start to realize that most of them contemporary with each other were buddies. Strange that the great works of a given era all come from the same circle of friends, huh. The reality is that what stories survive through the generations are the ones people love. I don’t use “people” in the general sense here. I mean specific real people who held on to the books they loved and shared them (often by educatorial fiat) with other people. Now I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing. If you can dodge a wrench you can dodge a ball, as Rip Torn famously said in a movie I can’t recommend. If you can figure out Shakespeare you can figure out Javascript.

Anyway, what I’m saying is that english teachers aren’t the owners of your reading soul. They aren’t the arbiters of your worthyness once you leave class. All they can do is make a mark in a card that you will eventually throw away. You don’t have to answer to them if some random person wants to talk books with you. Generally speaking, most people don’t have time to judge your lives. We’re all too selfish to think of the whole ramifications of someone else only reading two books a month. (Or year, or decade.) When people want to talk books, despite their own insecurities about it, they actually want to talk books. Lets work on not waste those moments on the confessional box.
I want to make a living at writing so I look at the market with all kinds of trepidation. We are competing with videogames, tv/movies, youtube, friendship simulators, arguing with strangers, etc . . . some of which are designed specifically to be addictive. There is no real cure for the Skinner box. Reading books is such a rare thing now. (Although people read much more now than they ever did, the trouble is they are reading regurgitated clickbait.) It’s tough enough out there for a book nerd that we shouldn’t be holding each other or ourselves to these ridiculous guidelines (yes, you must imagine me doing a Captain Barbossa eyeroll here.) Read what you want, at the pace you want, for whatever reason you want, and never apologize for it. (Except for [insert controversial book here], you must totally apologize for that one.)

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Through the Desert

I have been reading Gustav Janouch’s Conversations with Kafka. Janouch’s father worked in the same building as Kafka and would find reasons to go talk to him. On one of these occasions Janouch found Kafka drawing, he asked to see the drawing and Kafka swiftly destroyed the paper. This happened a few times before Kafka relented and showed Janouch his scribbles, and they were scribbles. Janouch asked him if he had ever taken any classes and Kafka said no. Kafka had wanted to find his own way of rendering things. He used the metaphor of the Exodus saying that he was still in Egyptian bondage and had yet to cross the Red sea. Janouch responded that after the Red sea is the desert and Kafka said, “Yes, in the Bible and everywhere else.”
I love this metaphor especially in regards to creative work. I’ve watched so many people who wanted to be some sort of creative abandon it because of that desert. Okay, backstory for those who haven’t seen The Ten Commandments: Moses secures the Jews’ freedom from Egypt and parts the Red sea so they can cross to the promised land. Unfortunately there is forty years of desert on the other side. It was a long movie. The important take away here is that they do finally make it to the promised land, it just takes way more work than they thought it would. There is plenty of thought that it would have been better just to stay in Egypt.
For a creative just starting out things are nice. They are in a world of enthusiasm and promise. Whatever the goal is, whether monetary success or critical accolade or even just satisfying a personal need, at this point it seems closer than ever. If they can just get over that sea, by some Moses-sized miracle, then they can make it. So they put in the work with confidence and learn what they need to learn then find themselves with that miracle (this being that they are actually any good at it) and find only forty years of work ahead of them with no clue that the promise will be fulfilled.
The old joke is that it takes ten years to become an overnight success. And for artists who want that overnight success, those ten years can be incredibly daunting. Who knows, if Kafka had not died so young perhaps we would have been talking about his paintings and considered The Trial and The Metamorphosis to be footnotes of his career.
When they say one must suffer for their art, I think this is what they really mean. I don’t think you have to go without meals, although that may be a byproduct of spending so much work with little return for so long, or have awful relationships (unless you are Taylor Swift) you just have to spend forty years in the desert of your art.

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They said they were crazy. They said it was a waste of all the goodwill and capital they gained with the Avengers movies. They said a lot of things in between the time they announced Guardians of the Galaxy at SDCC and now when we can actually see it. I think they are saying different things now

.Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy...Milano..Ph: Film Frame..?Marvel 2014

I usually write spoilery reviews but since it just opened I’ll save my deeper analysis for later.

I had never heard of them before that announcement. Although I did encounter Rocket Racoon and Groot earlier. I did a little research and I thought either this was gonna be the weirdest movie or the best. It’s both. They had a large sandbox to play in, and with such a small pre-movie fanbase they had freedom to utilize that to make something that is art today. It’s not a callback to stuff that everyone has known for fifty plus years. It’s a callback to stuff that only the hipsters of Marvel fandom knew about before it was cool. Now it’s cool. The coolest thing there is today. (Today being August 1st 2014.)

Howard Tayler said he wants to see it again with a notebook to figure out how they did it. I kinda want to too. There is so much packed into the movie. You’re crying two minutes in, then laughing at five, then cool tech squee at eight, then danger and action and horror and kinda romance and scenery and set pieces and plot and exposition delivered cleanly, quickly, and hilariously, and they keep cycling and rolling and pushing you through things you’ve never seen which suddenly become important, not just to the movie but to you. They give us the familiar using the 70s music Peter Quill brought with him and other call backs to previous movies.

I’m still in the afterglow but I declare that it is the best Marvel has produced. I need to revise my head list of the best SuperHero (joint trademark Marvel and DC) movies because it’s there. I need to revise to see what other movies actually still belong on that list. The art has been raised I think. The same way SpiderMan and The Dark Night raised the art at their times.

After Daredevil Stan Lee (who has his all important cameo in GotG) wrote an article about what Comic movies should be. He said, “Think, a party.” And that is the party.

I though about writing the characters for you so you’ll know who’s who, but the movie does that so well that despite the fun it will provide for me it isn’t needed.

It’s a movie, go see it.

Oh and stay for the very last moment, it is the most worth it of any after credits scene.

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I’ve been mulling over the question of whether Mormons are Christians lately. Nothing really sparked it, just all part of my random access memory. I’ve read and been present for plenty of arguments about it. Some of these were between scholars, church officials, laypeople and even full on trolls. They all tend to end in a sort of, “We’ll see.” The mistake many of these arguments fall into is zooming in on details if the proverb is to be believed then that’s where the devil is. When two people are looking at each other to prove whether they are the same or not the closer they get the more they find different. I wonder if all the Christians in the twenty centuries, and beyond as far back in time as it goes, lined up and compared beliefs how much similarity there would be?

I don’t intend to change that with this argument, but here is where my understanding is right now:

Is there an unforgivable sin? Many preachers of Christ will say no, you can’t sin beyond Christ’s forgiveness. I agree, all of my study and personal revelation tells me this. Christ forgives sin categorically and personally. But then how are people damned? It is because they don’t accept that forgiveness. They refuse the gift. Christ will not force it on them because Heaven cannot be a prison. So the sin isn’t unforgiven but it is unforgivable because the person will not take the forgiveness and set it in the place the sin used to be.

Given that definition, I ask how do Mormons not accept the forgiveness of Christ? I know there are answers to that. 
There are some who say that we act like we can earn it ourselves as if it is our effort alone that will save us. All I can answer to that is that we believe faith is a verb not an emotion. Picture two players on a basketball team. They both say they have faith in their coach. The first one at a pivotal moment when the coach tells them to pass shoots. The second, when the coach yells pass they pass. Which of these have faith? No, I don’t believe discipleship is a rejection of forgiveness or an attempt to supplant the grace of Christ. Anyone who thinks they can achieve exaltation by their own effort is building a tower of Babel and have greatly underestimated the distance to Heaven. The only difference between the worker who started earlier in the day than later is they had a better day.
There are those who object to our view of God which admittedly is different than other branches of Christianity. Would the god who forgave those who tortured and executed him, who innocently suffered for the world’s sins and still forgave, damn people for having an imperfect understanding of him? Even if we are totally wrong about that is that enough to disqualify us from the eternal grace of God? Is there a threshold of understanding of Christ that one must reach before their prayers are heard? Picture yourself standing before Christ, nevermind how you got there, and he isn’t exactly how you thought he’d be, does that make you an unbeliever? Does that make you reject him? And what if someone you were sure wasn’t going to be there was standing right next to you?

I care less where we get sorted in the catalogues and censuses of the world than where we get sorted at the judgment bar of God. I can’t say for certain how it will work out for everyone. I do believe it will have more to do with each person’s personal relationship to God than what box they checked on the survey. I do believe the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints is the true church. I believe that God still talks to the world through his prophets and that He still talks to his children through the Holy Spirit. I believe that God has laid down a plan of happiness and happiness can be found by following it. I believe that there is no name or path to salvation that isn’t Jesus Christ.

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