Friday, September 11, 2015

5 Things on a Friday: Introducing Jessica Jones

Happy Friday, folks.  It’s turned out to be a grey, somber, rainy day in New York and Connecticut.  Tomorrow is still the start of the weekend, though, so let’s get to it.
“The Bees, the Flowers, Jesus, Ancient Tigers, Poseidon, Adam and Eve” was submitted to the anthology, published on Tuesday by Scribner, by a little-known poet named Michael Derrick Hudson, under the pseudonym Yi-Fen Chou. After the poem’s selection, Mr. Hudson revealed his identity to the volume’s editor, Sherman Alexie, who decided to include it anyway, along with a note explaining the use of the pseudonym…
[I]n the biographical note in “Best American Poetry,” [Mr. Hudson] explained that he often sent poems out under the name Yi-Fen Chou.
“As a strategy for ‘placing’ poems this has been quite successful for me,” he said, noting that “The Bees” had been rejected 40 times under his own name but only nine times under the pseudonym before it was printed by the journal Prairie Schooner.
“If indeed this is one of the best American poems of 2015, it took quite a bit of effort to get it into print.”
People are really angry about this, but that seems foolish in the extreme and indicative of a glaring double-standard.  In the first place, we know nothing about authors based on their pseudonyms because that is the entire point of a pseudonym, and in the second place, there have been many, many, many writers who have done this sort of thing in reverse without receiving any press whatsoever.  Most recently, none other than J.K. Rowling began a series of gritty detective novels under the pseudonym “Robert Galbraith”.  She even gave “Galbraith” a military background to make him more believable as a hard-boiled writer.
Nobody cared.
I’m not saying that they should.  Taken on their own, her new series—the Cormoran Strike books—is terrific.  No other standard matters in evaluating the efficacy of her writing.
2. U.S. News College Rankings (U.S. News)
Army may not be able to win a football game, but the Academy came in 11th in this year’s Forbes’s rankings, and according to U.S. News, it’s the #2 Top Public School, the 3rd ranked engineering school (where Masters and PhD courses are not offered), and the 22nd ranked liberal arts college.  How do you rank as a top 25 liberal arts college and a top 5 engineering college?  That there is an impressive party trick if you can manage it.
On the BEAT NAVY front, Army finished behind Navy for the first time in a several years in both the Top Public Schools rankings and the top liberal arts colleges rankings (Navy was #1 and #9, respectively).  West Point finished ahead as an engineering school, however (#3 vs. #5), placing in three disciplines of engineering—civil, electrical, and mechanical—to Navy’s two.  That’s not the way I would have bet based on the two services’ points of emphasis, but the 1-2 finish in Top Public Schools is not particularly surprising.  I’d be curious to know what the margin of separation was.  
Army and Navy tied as the #1 colleges for high school guidance counselor recommendations, proving that guidance counsellors don’t care which service you join so long as you can afford your education.  I’ve no issue with that.  For what it’s worth, West Point also put a couple of its women graduates through Ranger School this year.  
I’ve said before that I think Forbes puts out a better list because their list focuses more on costs and on graduate outcomes rather than on spending-per-student, and at #11, Army was well ahead of #27 Navy according to Forbes.  Still, this is all very impressive no matter how you look at it.
Football games aside, West Point is putting out an excellent product.
3. Friday Hair Metal: I Wanna Kiss You All Over

4.  Marvel's Jessica Jones Finally Has a Premiere Date and Edgy Teaser Trailer to Go With It (EOnline)
There's a new superhero in town: Jessica Jones. The new Netflix series, Marvel's Jessica Jones will hit the streaming giant on Friday, Nov. 20. Krysten Ritter stars as the titular hero who becomes a private eye following a tragedy.

The book on which this series is based is absolutely terrific.  I don’t know which parts they’re going to do, but the original series was an adults-only publication from Marvel’s MAX line (the same line that featured the Punisher feeding people to sharks), and if it wasn’t real heavy on T&A, it was still a very mature, very adult-oriented story.  I wouldn’t show this one to my kids under any circumstances.

Jessica Jones, from the era before all smoking was banned in Marvel comics.
Jessica Jones is a woman with serious super-powers but no direction, and she makes the kinds of mistakes that directionless young women living in Manhattan are prone to make.  The book is organized as an investigative procedural based around a down-on-her-luck private investigator, but it reads very differently than, say, Mickey Spillane might read because Jones is at once less wise and more sympathetic.  
That’s all I’ll say beyond noting that it’s a stretch to call Jones a superhero—or a hero of any kind, really.  She is a protagonist, and she has superhuman abilities.  That’s not at all like being a superhero in the sense that Daredevil and Captain America are superheroes.
In a season in which Super Bowl 50 is being celebrated, it's somewhat fitting that two clubs with a combined 10 Super Bowl titles between them (Steelers 6, Patriots 4) square off in the opener.
The NFL season kicked off last night, and since I’m writing this on Thursday morning, I have no idea who won the opening game[1].  Deflated footballs notwithstanding, New England quarterback Tom Brady was scheduled to play.  Regular readers will know that this was the outcome I expected all along.
Teams I’m following this season include the Giants, Titans, and Chargers, and Falcons, a new addition to my list on account of their signing former Army (and Tennessee Titans) fullback Collin Mooney, though the Falcons recently put Mooney on IR with a ruptured bicep.  The Steelers also have a former Army player on their roster, and the Colts have one on their practice squad as well.  I refuse root for Pittsburgh, however; I spent too many years as a Titans fan when they were in the old AFC Central for that.  Plus, Steelers fans are so damned insufferable about everything.  As for the Colts, signing a guy to the practice squad isn’t what I’d call a commitment to Army football, though I suppose it’s a grudging step in the right direction.
The Giants play at the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night, which I hate.  Who schedules a game to end at midnight immediately prior to the start of a work week?  The same could be said of Atlanta, who’s on Monday Night Football early next week.  Meanwhile, the Titans are at Tampa Bay, and Detroit is at San Diego, but unfortunately, we won’t get either of those games locally.  This is the main reason why I have SiriusXM satellite radio.  Locally, we’re getting Cleveland at the Jets (ugh) followed by Baltimore at Denver.  On Fox, we’re getting New Orleans at Arizona (late).  That puts all of the interesting games on at the four o’clock hour, but that’s nothing new.
Today is September 11th, and I hope you’ll forgive me for considering it progress that I didn’t even think about the date until this very morning.  I’m sure the media will be filled with remembrance stuff today, but honestly, it’s a day I’ve no interest in reliving.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’d been living in the City for a month when the attacks happened, and it’s no accident that I’ve stayed in the years following, but that’s about as much as I want to discuss it.  My story is neither harrowing nor unique, but I found life in New York and in Hoboken where I was living to be very sad in the wake of the attacks, even if it was also a time of incredible community spirit.
In other news, Army plays at UConn tomorrow, and I’m hoping to put in a 5000 yard swim sometime tomorrow morning.  We don’t have many plans beyond that, but the next few weeks are going to be very busy, so we’ll need to cherish this bit of downtime.
Have a good weekend!

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I write this stuff because I enjoy it but also as a way to attract interest in the blog and in my fiction.  My book, Sneakatara Boatman & the Priest of Loki, is out for the Kindle App and on Patreon.  The follow-up, Sneakatara Boatman & the Crown of Pluto, will be out later this summer on those same platforms.  I’m even planning to put a collected single edition up in the Google Play store.  These stories are wild fantasy adventures that use the same WTF-style plotting that I use in all my RPG content.  If you liked any of my RPG stuff or any of the Sketch in My Notebook stuff, you will probably like my longer form fiction, too.
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Thanks in advance.

[1] The Pats won 28-21.

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