Various and Sundry, 7/25/23

John Scalzi

Inasmuch as I’ve committed to cutting waaaay back on my participation at the Site Formerly Known as Twitter, I find that there are things I might have otherwise tweeted (i.e., too short for a full post here) that I still want to talk about somewhere. Then I remembered, hey, you can just shove several of them together into a single post, done and done. So, here’s me doing that, following up on some things I’ve discussed here before, and also linking off to other things I find interesting.

Unlike the “Five Things” experiment I did a couple of years ago, I’m not going to put a strict number of bits in these sorts of posts, and I’m not necessarily going to write one up every day. But I suspect I’ll do them at least occasionally. I want to be posting more here anyway. So, here we go:

Following Up On My X-it: Lots of comments here and elsewhere on my post about me (mostly) leaving the former Twitter, most of them positive but some of them thinking that reducing my participation there to career updates and some links doesn’t go far enough, I should just leave it cold turkey. Perhaps not surprisingly, these latter complaints are mostly over at Mastodon, where antagonism against Twitter is significant and doctrinal. I’ve already explained my reasoning for going down to “updates only,” but I can certainly understand the view that any congress with Elon Musk is unholy and slightly icky. I hope none of those people have Teslas.

Be that as it may, I think my way of things is the correct way to go. I’ll also note that, given that my muscle memory for going on Twitter is as strong as it is, I went and took it out of my browser’s bookmarks bar and off the front screen of my phone. Now I have to hunt to use it, whereas Bluesky and Mastodon and other social media services are still where I can just click on them. Every little bit helps. Baby steps, y’all.

A Quick Thought On Kaiju and the Ohioana Award: I announced earlier today that The Kaiju Preservation Society won an Ohioana Award, which I think is pretty cool. What I didn’t note, because I didn’t realize it until after I wrote the post, was that with the Ohioana win, Kaiju is actually my second most awarded novel: It has an Alex, Locus and Ohioana award, was a finalist for the Dragon Award and is currently a finalist for the Hugo Award. That’s not bad for a “pop song” novel. The novel in front of it, award-wise, is Redshirts, with a Hugo, Locus and an RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award, with a Geffen Award (from Israel) thrown in as a tie-breaker. If Kaiju wins the Hugo, it’ll move up to a tie. Apparently people like it when I write silly books. That’s good to know.

Gov. DeSantis Cuts Campaign Staff: Which delights me because he’s a horrible man who shouldn’t be dogcatcher, much less governor, and certainly not president. But I can’t help suspect that DeSantis himself doesn’t understand why he isn’t currently the front runner for the GOP slot for president. Isn’t he leaning hard into right-wing horribleness and bigotry? Isn’t that what the voters really want? DeSantis doesn’t seem to understand that however horrible he is, Trump is just as horrible and also cannier (I don’t want to say smarter), and already has a posse. Why have the awkward wannabe when you can have the real thing instead?

Today’s Surprise: Young People Are Progressive: Greg Sargent of the Washington Post seems to imply this is something of a surprise to Republicans. It’s not, which is why they are investing so heavily in hobbling actual participatory democracy in the United States. The GOP not realizing that this means they’re fucked when the demographic curve takes away the advantages they currently have is classified as “Tomorrow’s GOP’s problem,” i.e., the same way the GOP deals with climate change or any other looming disaster. If nothing else, they are consistent.

(Yes, I know the shibboleth that people get more conservative as they get older. Thing is, if you don’t give people the things that they historically want to conserve, like, you know, good jobs and houses and actual money, they won’t get more conservative. Especially when you also take their rights away.)

Conservative Dudes Still Very Angry About Barbie: Bless their hearts. It’s already too late for that; the film has grossed $350 million worldwide in the first weekend and will gross at least double that before its run is done, especially since the 2023 summer release calendar from here on out is, as the kids say, mid as hell: Haunted Mansion? Grand Turismo? Blue Beetle? Meg 2: The Megening? Barbie (or Oppenheimer, for that matter) shouldn’t have a problem sucking up money for weeks with this level of competition. Which I know will just make them angrier, because their whiny stompy rage needs to be validated, but again: bless their hearts.

— JS

39 Comments on “Various and Sundry, 7/25/23”


    Al Franken could have written DeSantis’ policies to destroy the Florida Republican party. Attacking Bud Light for sending a free beer can to a trans performer, watching the company’s stock tank in the aftermath of his attack, then suing the company because its stock tanked? Demonizing immigrants and then watching his state’s businesses scramble because they have no workers. Attacking Disney and losing $1 billion of investment and 2,000 jobs to California, his arch-foe? Who could make this up?

  2. I think you mean something like “a canard” instead of “a shibboleth”.

  3. Don’t ever get swept up in the Republican kay-fabe. DeSantis will happily accept a spot as VP, and that is what all the current candidates are angling for (beyond scamming paranoid retirees out of their savings).

  4. Barbenheimer was great…the rest of the films you mentioned (and the trailers at the theatre this past weekend) don’t sound like much, maybe Blue Beetle in the theatres if it gets good word of mouth (the trailer was fun).

  5. It’s just so CUTE watching all the hetboyz stomp and whine about… LOL… NEVER thought I’d write this… BARBIE.

    No, seriously… guyz? You know how we laughed at you about the green M&M? That’s not even on the same measurement scale as the mirth you’re providing us withyer whining about a movie about a plastic doll(s).

    Delicious de plus, merci tres bien mes enfants.

  6. I’ve been thinking about the pop song analogy. I think it holds, but it kind of discredits what pop songs are capable of. Allow me to present Exhibit A: “She Love You” by the Beatles. There’s a catchy pop song. Musically and lyrically, there’s really not much to it. But it’s still on the radio on a very regular basis. The simplicity and sheer FUN of the song hold up, 60 years after it was written.
    I think Kaiju pulled off the a similar trick. Yeah, it’s silly, but it’s so much friggin’ fun that it has staying power. I’m honestly not surprised to see it winning awards everywhere.

  7. Just read a review of Barbie where the poster was “surprised” because he had never seen a single film in which Ryan Gosling was funny.

    This just made me sad again being reminded about how few people saw The Nice Guys which contained possibly the funniest bit of physical comedy I’ve seen in the past 20 years or so involving Gosling and a bathroom stall door…

  8. It’s easy to boycott Bud Lite. Switching to another light lager is convenient and not noticed when drinking.

    But there isn’t anything like Barbie to watch nor to talk about with your friends.

    Don’t invite people to a boycott before checking your audience.

  9. The funny thing about the success of Barbie is that people were celebrating the box office of Sound of Fury as a sign that “woke Hollywood” was failing. Barbie made more money in one weekend than three weeks of Sound of Fury. Heck, Barbie almost made more on Monday than Sound of Fury made in it’s best weekend.

  10. Re: Conservative Dudes Still Very Angry About Barbie
    I hadn’t actually planned on seeing Barbie in the theater, but the madder conservative dudes get about the movie, the more sure I am that I’m gonna go see it next weekend. I have zero trust for DC movies at this point, but Blue Beetle kinda looks like it might be fun.

  11. I love this replacement for tweets. A. Keep writing funny novels. You do it very well. B. Guarantee that some people who were considering Teslas have decided otherwise Because EM. 3. As an elderly gent, I’m finding lots of us who are more liberal now than we used to be.

  12. I am hoping that ‘Blue Beetle’ with a young Hispanic hero will have some fun in it. The comic has been pretty good.

  13. Gawain Lavers:

    I absolutely hope he does accept the VP slot because that means that the GOP loses Florida’s electoral votes, since both the VP and presidential candidate would be residents of the same state.

    John Tilden:

    I’m hoping Blue Beetle is good, too. I’m not expecting it to do tremendously well at the box office, however. DC movies are not in a great place recently.

  14. WRT Tweets vs. Xcretes–good plan
    WRT humorous writing–yes, you are a better humorous writer than a serious one. Your whole career shows that. Even OMW had some silly bits.

  15. I like it when you write silly books. To be fair, I like your other books too.
    Also, Congratulations!

  16. Not being a social media type at all (I don’t do any of them), I will be honestly delighted to see you commenting more often here instead. I am sorry that you’ve lost an online community you valued, but selfishly I am glad that you’re choosing to direct that commentary where anyone can read it rather than just members of a specific group. Thank you!

    And congratulations (belatedly) on the latest award for Kaiju Preservation Society! I have to say that it is probably in the top two or three of my most favorite books of yours, and I’ve used it for escapism, stress management and laughter on a regular basis. My sister told me recently that she had just reread her copy for at least the fourth time and was wishing you’d write another book in that universe some day. I agree with her, although I think Starter Villain will tide us both over nicely when it is released in a couple of months.

  17. Once the strikes are over, Hollywood should just give Greta Gerwig as much money as she wants for whatever she wants to make, get out of her way, then sit back and watch the magic happen.

  18. Scalzi

    I absolutely hope he does accept the VP slot because that means that the GOP loses Florida’s electoral votes, since both the VP and presidential candidate would be residents of the same state.

    If never heard that…and it turns out to not be quite true:

    And anyway, Trump could just register to vote in New York, like Cheney did with Wyoming. Or say that he did.

  19. Actually, I would rather bless the hearts of all the little girls who have owned Barbie dolls over the years, including Yours Truly. So much girl and woman power in an 11-1/2″ doll.

    As far as your new book, the photo of the kitty in the suit had me in tears. . .of laughter! I might read it. . . 😁

  20. To very, very slightly update a quotation about enlisted soldiers from the Army Officer’s Manual (1912):

    Republican candidates are not intelligent. They are, however, sly, cunning, and bear considerable watching.

    Pointing this at a draft dodger now claiming Florida residence and a non-line-officer in the Navy, and snickering extra loud, with malice aforethought. Not that it doesn’t apply to other contemporary Republican candidates, like the Congressman from New York’s 3d District and Ohio’s 4th District, former Governors of Indiana and South Carolina, the Congressman from Ohio’s 4th District, more Senators running for reelection than I can count…
    P.S. Soldiers now are smarter than that. They remain sly, cunning, and meriting of considerable watching to this day.

  21. I’ve always been a progressive but like Walt l think I’ve become more so as I’ve gotten older.

    I had no plans on seeing Barbie in the theatre but now that the whiny, man babies are having hissy fits about it I may have to go see it.

    I loved KPS and hope it wins all the awards. I read it the week my mother died and it helped me get through that week. By the way, I’m pretty sure my mother would have loved it too. She had a great sense of humor.

  22. The Republican Party figured out they were demographically screwed and back in 2008 when young people turned out in droves and got Obama elected. It was the first time young people had gotten fired up about an election in a long time … and they were fired up for the Democrats. At the time, one of the major hot topics for young people was immigration and the way undocumented immigrants are treated. Especially the ‘dreamers.’ So the Republicans in congress at the time started moving leftward on that one specific issue, and were working with Democrats on a bipartisan fix for the immigration issue, figuring it would help their image with young people.

    Problem was, a large share of the Republican core base HATED that. That issue plus Obama being Black is what fired up the Tea Party and a whole bunch of the Republicans who had moved left on immigration or worked with Obama lost their next primary. 2010 was the first wave of crazy extremists elected to Congress, a trend which has only continued. See, the problem with primaries in which the general public votes is that even people who always vote in the GENERAL election often skip the primary. So a small group of extremists can swing things disproportionately … as the Republicans have found.

    At that point, a number of people in the Republican party realized they were screwed. In the long run, they need to move towards the center if they want a share of the youth vote (and youth voters have been getting more and more involved in politics ever since). But in the short term, Republicans who try that are very likely to lose their seats. The thing they need most in the long term is something they absolutely can’t do (successfully) in the short term. And the last decade and a half has only proven that more true.

  23. @ Gawain Lavers:

    “If never heard that…and it turns out to not be quite true:”

    There is no prohibition on the President and VP being from the same state. However, since they run on the same ticket, the electoral votes from that state can’t be cast for that ticket.

    The article you quoted proposes a number of hypothetical workarounds to this. But none of these have been tried in real life – or stood the test of court challenges. Based on the letter of the law, the original statement is quite true.

  24. I too am happy to find brief and miscellaneous posts here, and wouldn’t mind some more cat pictures either. While Twitter would let me lurk, X wants my birthdate, and who knows what else, so I can’t even look without being more involved than I want to be.

  25. Re. posting only updates on Twitter: Way back in the dim mists of time, Dreamwidth (blogging site) used to have a feature that let it “echo” posts to LiveJournal. Twitter is (at best) unlikely to echo Mastodon etc. posts, but until they actively block links to non-Twitter sites, you could simply copy the URL of your Mastodon (etc.) posts and past them into Twitter. There’s probably a way to automate this process (e.g., using a system-wide macro program like MacroExpress (Windows) or Keyboard Maestro (Mac), but it shouldn’t be too onerous to do it manually for important posts that you want all your social media forums to see.

  26. @Fatman

    Let’s use the Bush/Rubio hypothetical. Bush could choose Rubio to be his running mate. And if the two won, Florida’s 29 electors could vote to make Bush president, but not to make Rubio vice president (or vice versa).

    They can’t be cast for the whole ticket, but they can be cast for one of the positions, presumably the president.

    And we can safely assume that the Supreme Court will endorse any legal argument that puts Republicans in the White House. After all, there’s precedent.

  27. I’m pleased to read whatever you are pleased to write here. It’s in the site name. :)

    Also, I’m never gonna see the Barbie movie, and I can’t fathom anyone getting all worked up about it. I think those guys should maybe get outdoors more.

  28. I’m with Karl Henderson and Nicoleandmaggie. It is the writing, the flow of the story, and the way I’m pulled in by the main character. I have both a print and an audio copy of KPS (and of OMW) – and caught things in the audio that I missed in the print. Can’t wait for Starter Villain. If you have a character and a story and an environment, I don’t think you need to worry about whether is it silly or serious.

  29. Apparently people like it when I write silly books.

    I recommended “The Android’s Dream” to my partner who is cursed with a masters in Philosophy and a complete inability to decontextualize any media, leading to something of an allergy to fiction. They loved it, and are looking for more.

  30. I, too, like the silly books like KPS, Redshirts, The God Engines, etc.

    I recommended KPS to a friend who was roadtripping with his kids some distance away, and he said that his entire family loved it, which I would take as high praise that it did what it was supposed to do.

  31. I don’t know why anyone is angry about the Barbie movie. Yes it did better than Oppenheimer but what did you expect? A film about a bomb vs. a film about the most iconic doll of a time becoming sentient and wanting to know more about herself.

    As for social media, I’ll continue on my main two as always but I’m cutting down. I just see social media as a disease.

  32. Barbie made more money in one weekend than Sound of Fury (which I still think sounds like an 80s Chuck Norris movie) AND people were actually IN the seats watching the movie…

  33. I fully expect the Republican Party to launch a campaign to raise the voting age to 50.

    I bought tickets to Barbie on opening weekend for my family because of the conservative meltdown. I’ll support anything that pisses them off that much. Bonus: I enjoyed the movie.

  34. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such pithy and on-point summary of DeSantis’ problems. Well put!

  35. “Apparently people like it when I write silly books. That’s good to know.”

    Redshirts is the only book of yours I have read so far (I have several others waiting in my Kindle app). I liked it very much, though I will dispute the “silly” label, because two of the codas made me cry. On a plane. Which was embarrassing. I believe I told you so when I saw you at Arisia many years ago.

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