Editorializing: Criticism from Fans

Too many fans in too many fandoms do not really understand what criticism is. Far too many fans think that criticism is not liking something.  Not liking Captain America being a Hydra agent is not criticism.  Not liking a gay character in a Star Wars novel is not criticism. Not liking Thor because it is a woman is not criticism.

Now, don’t get me wrong, not liking something is completely fine. I don’t like lots of things. But the teacher in me knows that is not criticism. Not liking a plot is just a matter of taste.  Realizing a plot is not fully developed and being able to state concrete reasons why is.  Not liking a character’s choices is not criticism.  Being able to demonstrate why a character’s choices are not in that character’s character is criticism.

As a football coach, I would never tell a player they played poorly and leave it at that. I would explain why and how to get better.  Now, I’ll never ever tell a writer that I think they did a poor job until I get published.  And since I’m not writing for publication anytime soon, that won’t happen.  Too many people send tweets to authors telling them they hate their work.  This boggles my mind. What is this person’s endgame? Do they think the writer will change? Do they believe that the author will write the story that is in their head? No.  All they will end up doing is taking away access to these writers from their more level-headed fans.

Am I saying not to write negative criticism? No, that would make anyone with a blog, like me, a hypocrite.  But I won’t tweet an author or artist a negative review. They don’t need that negativity in their lives. Nothing gets published without going through many different reads, so they have heard many of the criticisms. Plus, some people do this for a living and do it well and properly, that the authors can turn to if they want to read valid criticism of their work.

So why should someone like you and I write criticism?  First, it will make us better readers and writers. Reading a story for point of view, symbolism, plot and character development allows us to grow as readers. Learning how to articulate how well a story does these things allows us to grow as writers.  We should have spent many years of our K-12 and, in some cases, college education learning how to do this. Put it to good use.

Now, some people in fandom hide behind the word “criticism” when they really just mean bigotry.  People that oppose diversity and social justice too often just make hateful comments to authors, and when the author responds, they reply that the author cannot take criticism. Almost every time, however, they never truly offered criticism. It’s a free country, and you can be against diversity and social justice.  You can also not read the book or the comic or watch the movie. That’s part of being in a free country too.

The next argument will be that I’m trying to limit someone’s freedom of speech.  I’m not.  If you want to tell an author you think they suck, you have that right.  What I’m arguing is don’t hide behind the word critic, when, in fact, you are just a jerk.

(Or you can be a “professional” critic and still a jerk.  And still not not understand criticism….i.e., Harry Knowles reviews).


Editorializing: Mourning for People You Have Never Met

2016 seemed to be a horrible year for celebrities dying. It also seemed like a year in which people took it harder than most years.  It didn’t help that one of our first losses of the year was a Rebel, Rebel icon and one of the last was our Rebel hero.

For Nola Nerd Couple there were celebrity lives that were lost that hit us hard in 2016: David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, Carrie Fisher.

Why does it affect us so much?

There were plenty of other tragedies in 2016.  People in Flint Michigan went without a public supply of drinkable water. We watched an ancient city basically get wiped off the map in a war between the worst terrorist organization in the world and a government that has used chemical weapons on its own people.   A major American city has had over 4300 people shot and around 770 homicides this calendar year alone. Regardless of how you voted, I’m not certain anyone voted with any real confidence that things will get better.

For the most part, we feel powerless to stop those things or unable to do anything that will bring about real change. Then when we see a pop culture icon die, it really hits us.

I think it’s because they all provide us with hope. David Bowie taught me you could make true beauty even when facing death.  Moreso, he taught us all you can do it on your terms.  Everyone that went back and listened to Prince remembered that you had an artist that could play guitar like Hendrix, write music like Lennon and McCartney, front a band like James Brown, and sing like, well, Prince. Alan Rickman often played villains or scoundrels or husbands, and no matter what his character’s motivations were, he made sure that he owned them.  Yes, I thought Carrie was hot in that metal bikini.  However, I thought she was a badass when she killed Jabba.  She was no one’s slave and made sure that came through in her performance.

We call celebrities stars for a reason.  They make our world brighter.  Art, which they all strove for in their work, is a reflection of our best selves. Art is the hope we bring into the world even when it is a mirror to our darker impulses.

It’s ok to mourn people we have never met, because in the end, if they did their job to the fullest, the let us find out more about ourselves.

Editorializing: Headphones > Phones


When asked why Apple was removing the headphone jack, Senior Vice President Phil Schiller answered with that one word.


Why not say, so we can make way for a larger battery, hard drive, or better antennae? These would have been better answers, but ones that would have made Apple actually improve their product. So instead of doing that, they answered with that one word.

As a nerd, and a computer science teacher, I understand that sometimes that technology needs to move forward because it can.  However, this causes a problem for me.

Yes, I do charge my phone and listen to headphones at the same time. Practically, ever night I do this.  But that doesn’t bother me.  I do listen to music in my car but with aux jack.  My car’s USB jack was poorly placed in that it’s in the arm rest between the front seats so when we close the arm rest it cuts the wire slowly with every close. Therefore, I use the aux jack. But that’s not a problem either because I can work around this problems and have a massive iTunes collection.

So what is my problem getting rid of the headphone jack?

I love my headphones more than I love my phone.

I own a pair of Sony MDR7506s.  I’m on my second pair.  I stupidly put my first pair in carry on luggage instead of just putting in the tray. TSA threw my bag, and I heard them crack. I couldn’t live without them so I bought a second pair.  I don’t just use them with my phone.  I often use them to listen to our record collection and too record our Nola Nerd Couple podcasts. EarPods can’t compete.

My iPhone 6 has had a crack on the screen for more than a year.  I don’t really care.

Again, I know they will have an adapter.  So I have to have a second piece of equipment with me to listen to music with my MDR7506s. I could be an Olympian at losing things especially smaller electronics.  As far as the ear buds go, I’ve never had a pair of Apple wired ear buds successfully stay in my ears when I’m moving, so I’m looking forward to losing these within the first week of getting the iPhone 7. This also means that the ear buds that stay in my ears when I’m on the treadmill or riding on a bike path (I never use headphones when I ride on roads) means I have to have the adapter with me. So, I pretty much will have to have the adapter in at all times except for when I’m charging. And, let’s be honest.  The 7 better have longer battery life.


5 days is what I’m giving myself before I lose the adapter. 


I know I sound like a old man who doesn’t like change.  I promise you, it’s not just that.  I really just love my headphones more than I love my phone. I won’t steer away from Apple because the rest of my house is Apple, but I’m not ready to give up the headphone jack just yet.

Maybe I will just get the 6s. Unless Sony wants to make the MDR7506 with a lightning connector.

Editorializing: Beware of Canon and Gatekeepers

Bring up the word “canon” to nerds about a show/book/movie about a movie they love, you better make sure you have enough time on your hands for the dissertation you are about to receive.  Canon will start nerd fights, ruin nerd friendships, and cause dizzying headaches.

First, let’s start with the definition


noun  can·on \ˈka-nən\

Definition of canon

  1. 1a:  a regulation or dogma decreed by a church council b :  a provision of canon law
  2. 2[Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin, from Latin, model]:  the most solemn and unvarying part of the Mass including the consecration of the bread and wine
  3. 3[Middle English, from Late Latin, from Latin, standard]a:  an authoritative list of books accepted as Holy Scripture b :  the authentic works of a writer c :  a sanctioned or accepted group or body of related works <the canon of great literature>
  4. 4a:  an accepted principle or rule b :  a criterion or standard of judgment c :  a body of principles, rules, standards, or norms


“Canon.” Merriam-Webster.com. Accessed April 13, 2016. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/canon.

While 3 and 4 are really what we are talking about here, don’t think for a second that some people don’t look at canon as falling under one and two.

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Editorializing: When a Con Almost Becomes a Con

In yesterday’s blog, I talked about the good times we had a Space City Comic Con. I touched on the bad.

Now it’s time to talk about it.

First of all, Nola Nerd Couple applied for a media pass and received one.  Normally, when we write about cons our only criticisms are constructive. We look for the “even better ifs.” However, when the even better if is to build fan trust, well that may be too big of an even bigger if.

It does seem that all the problems that Space City Comic Con had only dealt with the Sons of Anarchy people.  However, this contained their biggest guest.  Most well-runned cons would have only done pre-purchased autograph tickets for someone this big.  Wizard World has done this with Matt Smith and most of the Avengers cast.  Star Wars Celebration does both but they make sure the pre-purchased get their autographs first, and then, depending on the guest, they will only do pre-purchased.  The supply here is the actor’s time and it is scarce, much more scarce than demand.  It seems that no one had a clue to do with Charlie Hunnam.

Then rumors tend to abound about non-payment and bounced checks. (And here, here, and here). Actors themselves told us that we should contact our credit card company because they were pretty sure we got robbed. Thankfully, we did receive notification at the time of this writing saying we should be getting a refund. Now, I can’t speak to the actors getting paid, but I was seriously considering pressing charges if we didn’t get our refund back.  We spent hundreds of dollars on these tickets, and we were on the low end of money being spent.  VIP guests had everything pre-purchased for $1000s of dollars and didn’t have anything to show for it.

We were promised something for payment. We paid and didn’t receive anything. That’s fraud. Refunding my money is nice, but we live in New Orleans.  This blog is a non-profit enterprise. The blog generates no income so the gas to travel there and back and to have a hotel for two nights doesn’t get refunded.  Considering that Space City Comic Con was being sued by a certain tourist organization before the con, it would seem Space City Comic Con would have done their best to make sure this was a smoothly run con. Because it was not, it will hurt tourism. People came from all over the US and other countries to Houston to attend this con because of the guests and Charlie Hunnam in particular. This will leave a bad taste in their mouth.  We will return to Houston because we have family there as well as it having IKEA, but I can see others not going back. They got burned once, and no one ever wants to get burned again.

Now, before the con, we championed Space City Comic Con.  We published a preview, a review of one of the books from the artists there, and a spotlight on artists that were present. We tweeted about it. WWe did a podcast there. We had planned to do interviews, but we couldn’t because we were out a few hundred dollars and we wanted to know how that would be rectified. We spent all day Saturday trying to find out.

What really upsets me was the lack of information from Space City Comic Con.  We fully understand that if they can’t give full details because there might be something that could be part of a lawsuit.  However, the con never stated what was going on…not even from their point of view. The con never told us about the actors not honoring the pre-purchased tickets; the actors did.  The con didn’t tell us the panel was practically cancelled; the actors did via twitter. The con never told us Charlie wasn’t coming back until after the con; Charlie’s people told us. Space City Comic Con only acknowledged these events once on social media.  A few times they responded to people directly, but why not post so all could see.  They didn’t inform us that an artist canceled and when we asked if he was there no one had a clue.  They never tried to do damage control.  Instead, they tweeted and posted to Facebook other things like the controversy never happened. I’m not blaming the media department.  I’m sure they had no clue how to respond and it seems like they weren’t getting any direction.

We love comic cons. We have attended them across the country and even one out of the country. We budget our money so we can attend them.  We will continue to attend more both as media and as fans. We understand cons are big business. This con had poor business management. However, cons are also about human interaction. The people that we came across were fantastic.  The staff and volunteers should not have paid for upper managements mistakes. Yet they did. They were yelled at. They were exhausted. They were dejected.  However, everyone we met, including the ones we might not have been nice to (even a few hundreds of dollars is a lot of money), were nice to us.

Not only did the fans deserve better, but the staff and volunteers deserved better. This con became dangerously close to a con.