John Carter of Mars Lives!

I thought John Carter was a hoot!  I’ve read most of the Edgar Rice Burroughs books, and own 10 of his books from three series.  I’m no expert, but I think that the John Carter movie caught the Barsoom zeitgeist really well, and brought the visuals firmly into the 21st century.  Playing ERB as the nephew works out very, very well in relation to the original, and Mars itself works out to be a really strong character in the movie.  While the story doesn’t hold true to any one of the Barsoom books, in another way it hold true to all of them.  Critics can hate this movie all they want (haters gotta hate).  I think anybody who ever read the Barsoom books will find something to treasure here.

I took my family to watch this film, and every one of us liked it.  Even my wife, who found huge nits when she watched Casablanca, loved this. I draw that comparison because Casablanca has spawned so many imitations that My Bride thought the original film was full of clichés.  John Carter of Mars started just that size of revolution among F&SF fans around the world, and the stuff Edgar Rice Burroughs dreamed up has been almost endlessly regurgitated for B movies and B pulp fiction, but ERB created it, and Disney brought that oeuvre boldly to life.  I’m just pleased as punch, and my family had a great night at the movies.  If this show hasn’t left your village, go and watch it.

Visually it’s as real in its stark reds and severe clime as Avatar is in its blues and verdant forests, and John Carter doesn’t require that humanity export evil exploitation from America in order to fight it.  Instead it gives us a hero who finds reasons for hope and love in extreme conditions, and doesn’t then belabor that.  It squeezes a love story into a few looks and some shared peril, and unfolds an entire alien, impossible, amazing and fun world before our eyes.  And I loved that dog.

My only real nit was the red-men of Mars.  In my mental picture they’re a bold red, not a standard human coloration.  I think giving them a native American cast of color but not foregrounding Native American actors gives the movie a mildly off ambiance – it looks too much like 1950s Western Movie red-face.  They should have gone Cadillac Red.

Bill

Demon Underground

Demon Underground by Susan Wright

Should probably be considered the second section of one story. Starts up the moment the first volume ended, and develops the ongoing action. The heroine (Allay) is a demon, but what are demons? They aren’t all evil – in point of fact, the heroine seems to consider them to be worse than they actually behave. I’m uncertain if that is unreliable narration, or if the author wants them to be more evil than she’s actually writing them.

As an unreliable narrator, Allay is very interesting. She seems to be falling in love with a very old demon, but the question is out there, is she in love, or is he manipulating her into being addicted to him?

I also think it’s interesting that the demons use that label on themselves. Are there angels? Are demons another species?

The story is very personality driven. Allay, her offspring Bliss, Ram and his offspring Mystify are emotionally fleshed out, and that seems more important to Allay than what is actually happening in the world.

The story has been examining what the world does as demons, who are immortal and can look any way they please, are discovered to be real. I’m sure it intends to continue down that path. I’ll be reading it when it does.

The weakest point to the books, as far as I am concerned, is that the writing doesn’t carry me along, waiting for the next thing. I keep going back, but I’m very able to put the books down for about two-thirds of each book, then I get swept up in the end. I’d like to be dragged along for more of the book.

Publishing News!

I have great news! Zook Country has been picked up by Twilight Times Books, and will be in print sometime in the next year. The current link, and introductory $2.99 pricepoint, will go offline later this week, to be replaced by a Twilight Times Books link on or about Friday, 10 March. I shared this first on my Zook Country Facebook page. Go forth. Follow the link and Like Zook Country on FB. Be sure to buy Zook Country while the price is under my control! That’s really a polite request, but go do it anyway… By sometime Thursday, the Bleeding Edge Books edition will be be a fading memory!

Web Friends

Just writing a good book that excites the people who read it isn’t apparently enough.  I’m starting to mumble and chuckle to myself, thinking, “How can I make this thing go viral.” Then I get this really nice helping hand, and I just have to share, because it made me feel so good! Melissa Douthit on Zook Country I really admired the way she caught snapshots of reviews.  Cool.

Healthcare Myths: Bloated Bureaucracies Cruel Necessities

Quote

Originally posted by lj user kaath9  at Healthcare Myths #3 & 4: Bloated Bureaucracies & Cruel Necessities

This first of two related myths, as summed up by TR Reid, has it that the universal healthcare systems of other wealthy countries are run by bloated bureaucracies.

This is simply not true.

Every other system Reid cited is less wasteful than ours. This is true whether they are public or private systems. Our for-profit setup has the highest administrative costs in the world.

This is a major reason we spend more on healthcare and get less in return. Our insurance companies spend roughly 20 cents on the dollar (that is, 20% of every dollar they spend) for the non-medical, administrative costs required for a profit-making venture: paperwork, reviewing claims, rescission, marketing, etc.

In comparison, France, with its private, non-profit system, spends about 5% to cover every resident of France; Canada spends about 6%; Taiwan–which broke in its brand new system in 1995–spends only 2%.

Reid refers to Japan as the “world champion” of cost control. This, despite the fact that Japan’s population is aging. They have better health outcomes, as well, and have the longest-lived and healthiest population in the world, though they are spending half as much per capita as we are.

One of the chief reasons these systems are so efficient has to do with the very fact that they DO cover everyone–in most cases, even visitors to the country. Why? Here are a few reasons:

  1. There is a vast pool of healthy people who–through taxes or premiums–pay into the system
  2. There’s no need for a claims adjustment staff who are charged with finding reasons to not pay claims (this means doctors don’t require people in their offices to handle claims either, by the way, which brings their costs down).
  3. There’s no need to spend millions for marketing and other profit-making schemes.
  4. There’s no need for a rescission department charged with finding reasons to cut people from the rolls … just when they need the coverage the most

Actually, this ties into another myth:

Myth #4: if insurance companies covered everyone they’d go broke.

They have to be cruel to stay in business, they say. If that’s the case, then why do the systems that cover everyone continue to exist? Because everyone is covered, as I mentioned. There are young and healthy people paying in to balance the older, sicker people. Then when those people are no longer young and healthy, they’re covered, in part, by the next generation of young and healthies coming along behind. It’s sort of “paying forward” … or maybe it’s paying backward. The point is that at some point, everyone will benefit from the system, so everyone pays in.

To balance this, in the other developed countries, if a doctor okays a procedure, it’s covered. Period. The costs are known, the claim is submitted, the sick fund or government agency or insurance company cuts a check. The doctors are paid within strict time limits. Coverage can’t be canceled or refused for any reason except non-payment of premiums in systems that use that method.

These plans don’t go broke; some, such as Switzerland’s fairly new privatized universal system, are doing very well indeed. Even if the government has to put more money in or raise premiums, they’ve still got massive amounts of headroom before they’d even be in the ballpark of what we’re spending.

Hey, today was a two-fer!

TR Reid’s next myth is that these plans are too “foreign” to work in our unique country. More later.

JACK DANIELS FISHING STORY

From the Revenge of Humpday

From: Bob Bolgeo bbolgeo@aol.com
JACK DANIELS FISHING STORY
I went fishing this morning but after a short time I ran out of worms. Then I saw a
cottonmouth with a frog in his mouth. Frogs are good bass bait.

Knowing the snake couldn’t bite me with the frog in his mouth I grabbed him right behind
the head, took the frog, and put it in my bait bucket.

Now the dilemma was how to release the snake without getting bit. So, I grabbed my bottle
of Jack Daniels and poured a little whiskey in its mouth. His eyes rolled back, he went limp.
I released him into the lake without incident and carried on fishing using the frog.

A little later, I felt a nudge on my foot. It was that damn snake, with two more frogs.

Life is good in the South