Saturday, July 30, 2016

Gravedancing on the Ghostbusters

At this point it looks like Ghostbustiers is going to turn a profit of one whole dollar (if you don't count the massive marketing budget as an expense.)  Houston, we have convergence!  The shelf-life of interest in this flop sweat drenched production is rapidly expiring around the culture, but that's due largely to the fact that this movies supporters were on the wrong side of history.  They've got to try and re-write history fast and move on before anyone notices that us internet trolls were right all along.

To bring you in on the fun, I read through a few choice autopsies.

Too late - even The Nation has been forced to admit that we were right: The ‘Ghostbusters’ Trolls Were Right, going so far as to admit that, "The jokes do change when the characters are women".  They admit it in a title and byline that turn out to be little more than click-bait, though.  That whole article isn't about how right we were - The Nation would never stoop so low as to conduct and open and honest analysis of their position in light of new information - it's actually a long discussion of how great and refreshing Ghostbusters: The Enwomaning truly is, and what wonderful performances the leads present, all written with the usual White Night undertones.

It isn't much, but it's a start.

With, "Ghostbusters needed to show that black women can be scientists too", the Guardian gives us yet another example of Orwell's warning that you can't scream at Emmanuel Goldstein loud enough - sooner or later even a true believer like Paul Feig winds up in Room 101.  Despite the full convergence of his movie, it didn't converge hard enough.  The writer of that piece inadvertently points out that Leslie Jones is a fantastic actress, given that her character "was portrayed as warm, funny, genuine and smart," all of those things that Jones fails to portray in real life.  While this movie is used as an excuse to publish a high school English assignment where teacher required everyone to write five sentences on five minority women that like, did some sciencey stuff or whatever (ugh!), it is telling that despite everything the leftist press still can find room in what passes for its heart for a little criticism at him for yelling too quietly.

But we're going to save most of our attention for this delightful little entry for the Memory Hole from something called Page Six: Mattel Says Ghostbusters Toy Sales Were Great, Proving Gender Doesn't Make A Toy Less Cool.

First off all, straight out of the gate, you're asking a marketing guy for confirmation that people like the product he's selling.  Of course he's going to tell you that people love the product.  They can't get enough of the product.  If you want to be cool, you will also buy the product. 
After the glowing success of the premiere of Ghostbusters -
We're off to a great start here.  The premier of Ghostbustiers was only considered successful because it wasn't a total failure.  You know what?  I can't do this.  A lot of bloggers love to take articles apart line by line, but I just can't do it.  Suffice it to say that every line in this article is a lie carefully crafted to seduce the sort of status-conscious Oprah watching mom who gives no thought to media and is willing to swallow any lie to be part of the in-crowd no matter how strongly it clashes with their own experience. 

These ladies will believe sales are strong even as they are dragged through the toy-aisle at Target and see the little red stickers on the Ghostbustier toys sitting on end cap shelves.  To combat this reality, other articles quote Target's marketing department spin they provide somehow provides actual information.  Apparently, Target is now referring to their decision to off-load the unwanted Ghostbustier toys at fire sale prices - before the movie was even released - as a mistake. 

And maybe it was.

Let me remind you that Target has been willing to eat ten billion dollars in stock price decline rather than admit their blind devotion to the Narrative is off-putting to most consumers.  You really think they would bat an eye at losing a few million on over-priced and unwanted Ghostbustier toys?  Those things will sit there for a few months before they wind up sitting next to Sneaky Pete on a dime-store shelf for a few decades, but they won't be allowed to serve as evidence in the trail between Internet Trolls vs. The Great Convergence.  These things will go the way of the Atari E.T. game cartridges, but they won't wear a little red sticker of shame while Target stands.

Which, if we're lucky, won't be for long.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Dreaming of Silver Rockets

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
   - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today I fired another shot in the culture war.  I cast my ballot for the Hugos.  It is a small thing, a single bullet in a single battle in a far flung corner of the fight, but it is from the collective effect of many small things that great things arise.

My ballot in last year's fight helped to drive the forces of the Narrative to burn the Hugo Awards to the ground, and thus helped cause much consternation among the forces of the Narrative Almighty. 

Even as I celebrated the victory in that skirmish, deep down I felt shame.  To my everlasting regret, my ballot in last year's fight deviated in a few small ways from that ordained by the Supreme Dark Lord.  The failure of the forces of truth and light to rout the enemy and drive them from the field of battle rests on my shoulders.  This year, I will not make the same mistake.  My ballot perfectly reflects the will of the Supreme Dark Lord, in whose image I am but a pale reflection.  Together with the massed volley of the ballots cast by the brave men at my shoulders, I shall fear no defeat in the battle of Mid-America Con II.

To steel my resolve, and remind myself of the importance of a well regulated ballot, each morning I repeat the Sad Puppy's Voting Creed:

This is my ballot. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
My ballot is my best friend. It is my life. I have mastered it as I mastered my life.
Without me, my ballot is useless. Without my ballot, I am useless. I must cast my ballot true. I must vote straighter than my enemy who is trying to kill me. I must vote against him before he shoots me.  I will...
My ballot and I know that what counts in war is not the votes we cast, the noise of our effect, nor the tears we create. We know that it is the result that counts. We will vote...
My ballot is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its order, its check boxes, and its electrons. I will keep my ballot clean and accurate, even as I am clean and accurate. We will become part of each other. We will...
Before the Supreme Dark Lord, I swear this creed. My ballot and I are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life.
So be it, until victory is America's and there is no enemy, but peace!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Quick Update

Just a few more days of fun, family, and sun in the great mid-west of these United States, and then it's back to the salt mines in the great Pacific Islands of these United States.  Looking forward to getting back to work - that's a good sign. 

If you wanted to keep up with my thoughts on the RNC, DNC, and to watch me poke fun of one of the DNC's loay undercover operatives, Chuck Todd, check me out on Twitter: @NotJonMollison.  It's a hoot.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Coming Soon: It Takes A Man to Raze a Village

Karl Barber returns to action as a one-man army.  Sometimes a good man who doesn't care what the world thinks can do more good than a standing army hampered by international politics.  In this story, Karl wastes no time in tracking down a village full of girls taken by religious fanatics eager to prove that their god is greater.  If proving that means the fanatics come away with plenty of child brides sex slaves, so much the better for them.

Until Karl shows up, that is.

Once again, this adventure novelette clocks in at roughly 10,000 words and costs less than a buck.  That's less than 100 words per penny - what a bargain!

This story has been languishing for a week while your humble blogger has been fulfilling family obligations in what purports to be a vacation.  With no access to a real computer, there's been a dearth of work and posts here - with the fun of the twin political conventions, it's been a bad week to be out of contact - but starting this weekend, things will start to pick up again.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Ghostbusters: The Variable Definition of 'Flop'

Image result for ghostbustersWith a production budget of $144 million, and a marketing budget of $100 million, the financial backers of the Ghostbustettes movie are on the hook for almost a quarter of a billion dollars.  That kind of heavy budget is used for tentpole movies - the big summer guaranteed moneymakers that keep a studio's finances in the black and produce enough profit to support the production of the studio's smaller movies.  Those smaller movies are low cost bets with the potential for higher returns.  Movies like Ghostbusters, which cost $30 million and made $230 million at the box office.

These days tentpole movies that just barely make back their budget are considered failures in that, while the studio didn't lose money on them, they didn't turn enough profit to pay for other productions.  Some examples of money-making 'flops' that you may remember are Green Lantern (which made $20 million against a $200 million budget), John Carter ($34 million on a $250 million budget), and Lone Ranger ($45 million at a cost of $215 million).  These movies were all widely panned as failures, but unlike Ghostbusterinas, they didn't carry with them the protective armor as defender of the Narrative.

The projected opening weekend box office for Ghostbusters: the 2016ing is around $50 million, which bodes well for the movie as the projected final take of a movie is generally around four times that of the opening weekend.  Good movies tend to outperform that 4x metric, and bad one underperform.  If this movie is at least average, it's looking at making around $50 million off of a $150 million production budget, which should push it just barely past the ranks of money-making flops like Guardians of the Galaxy.

Where it gets really interesting is that Hollywood is an industry that thrives on perception, and whether a movie is considered successful or not depends in large part on how well it does against expectations.  Most of those lucrative flops failed to meet their expectations.  The controversy surrounding the all-girl Ghostbusters makes it hard to identify what its expectations really were.  The massive YouTube backlash indicated that the public hated the movie, and this might be a sign of low expectations for the movie. 

The secular moral crusaders had high hopes for the movie, sure, but we're talking about cold hard numbers here - the bean counters likely read the YouTube comment tea leaves and adjusted their expectations downwards accordingly.  The constant (and justified) attacks on this soft reboot movie might actually have helped push it from 'should have made more, what a mistake' to 'I told you the world was ready for an all-girl blockbuster'.  It didn't actually bust any blocks, but it just doesn't have to.

How appropriate that the female version of a movie doesn't have to succeed based on cold hard rationality, but skates into success because it 'feels' successful.

Friday, July 15, 2016

From the, "Hey! That's Our Trick" Files, one of the left's frontline soldiers in the culture war - and one dedicated to scaring Americans of Jewish faith away from those super scary Republicans, recently sperged out a primer on the AltRight, or alt-right, or however you want to spell it.

If you’ll permit a bit of a digression, the term “Alt-Right” gets used in multiple ways across the alt-right-o-sphere, and nobody within the alt-right much cares.  It doesn’t matter.  They all know what you mean.  Contrast that with the SPLC’s desperate need to dictate what words mean and what words are not acceptable.  The old biddies of all ages and stripes that kneel at the knees of the SPLC have a burning need to use the correct words, to signal their allegiance to the Narrative, to fit in, and be accepted.  They are like the Try Hard guy in his mid-20s hanging out with college freshman girls, and trying to look cool by using the right slang and referencing the right music groups, but fail because everything they try is filtered through one or more media outlets, while the freshmen are getting their slang and music direct from the culture itself.

Getting back to's attempt keep the clueless pearl-clutchers informed of the dastardly things the alt-right is up to, the article lists seven terms that they feel help explain the alt-right.  They explicitly call words used within the AltRight culture “false terms” and “misleading”.  

That’s an interesting thing to say to a culture.  This is yet another example of the left attempting to don the mantle of final arbiter of what terms are correct and accurate for usage within a culture not their own.  They have seen the effectiveness of terms such as “human biodiversity” and “identitarian” and recognized that these terms might just influence the squishy residents of the middle-ground in ways not of the left's liking.  And so they engage in explicitly Orwellian behavior.  As George Orwell noted decades ago, “control the language, control the people”.

They had a good run with that tactic, controlling the debate by controlling the language, but the advent of social media has cost them their place in the ranks of the Language Police.  Their word may still carry some weight on the coasts, but out here in the wild and woolly internet frontier?  You might as well expect a Frenchman to look to Miriam-Websters for the proper usage of Le Frog-Speak.
Internet culture owes them no fealty.  It pays them no mind.  It grows organically and is insulated from their influence by the liberty and freedom allowed by the free association that men can finally, and once again, practice.  Their sycophants, and the rabbits driven by herd mentality, will surely take note of the admonishment not to use the language of the alt-right.  But the alt-right truly and honestly doesn’t care what they think.

What’s even better is that given a choice between the stodgy and cringing “won’t you please like me?” stance of (and others of that ilk like the execrable SPLC), and the self-assured confidence and cheeky irreverence of the alt-right, there’s no question which attitude will have more appeal for rebellious youth.
And that’s got to scare the left more than anything.  They’ve been counting on the right dying off for so long, that they completely forgot that the more the left captures control over what is deemed acceptable thought and deed, and the more tempting it will be for youth looking for a means of rebellion to turn their backs on the left and look for alternatives.
Like the alternative-right.
Come on in, kids, the water’s fun.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Cleveland Rocks and Bottles and Bricks

Can you feel it?  Can you feel the held breath by the media, the pundits, and those of us in the cheap seats, as the Republican National Convention approaches?   Dallas was just a warm-up, every angry mob and rent-a-mob is warming up their throwing arms and sharpening the ends of their placard sticks, preparing to cause a major scene on the streets of Cleveland.  You know, to make Donald Trump look bad.
Meet Calvin D. Williams, the City of Cleveland's Chief of Police. You're probably going to be seeing him on the news quite a bit in the coming week or so. 
The good news for Mr. Williams is that the eyes of the world will be on his city.  Politicians love that, and let’s face it, the Chief of Police does a lot more politicking than policing.  The bad news is that the leftists in the media (as though there was anyone else in the media) have spent the last decade whipping up the mobs and pointing them at the kulaks wearing badges and hats with elephants on them.  The really bad news for Calvin is that the usual suspects are better funded and have more time to prepare than usual.

The other good news for Calvin is that Ohio is an open carry state.  Remember that an armed society is a polite society, and that leftists are at heart cowards.  When confronted with real risk, when not backed by a braying mob, they tend to pull an Irish fade.  This convention might just be quieter than anyone expects thanks to Samuel Colt’s efforts at making man equal.
One thing that I haven’t heard anyone talk about yet is that Trump’s current statistical dead heat with Clinton is likely to vanish when the standard post-convention bump kicks in.  That means in less than a month, Donald Trump will have turned an 8-point deficit into a 3-point lead.  It gets better for those of us in the Red Hats, though.

If the scuttlebutt about agitators looking to make a statement and turn Cleveland into San Jose, Round Two – Rumble in the Concrete Jungle, prove correct, you can just go ahead and tack on another three points to that lead.  If blood darkens the streets of Cleveland, caused by outside mobs braying and spoiling for a fight, American voters will flock to Trump.  They don’t like seeing their nice, orderly democracy overturned by violent mobs. 
It doesn’t matter if the mob makes the doughy types that attend the political convention bleed, or get bloodied themselves by running headlong into a wall of baton wielding officers, they are going to look like savage criminals trying to stop the normal progression of the democratic process.  The squishy center of the American voter might be apathetic and prone to voting for the left in a vain attempt to stop the left from calling them names, but when push comes to shove comes to thrown bottles, they harden their hearts and look for somebody who can stop the madness.

In an odd way, their cowardice can be pushed too far.  The typical American voter wants what all people everywhere want – safe streets, consistency, and safety.  This desire for peace that causes them to fall prey to Democrat name calling (“racist”, “sexist”, “homophobe”, etc.) can be pushed too far.  When the left gets anxious and ups their bullying from name calling to actual violence, the American voter starts looking for protection from the left and runs into the arms of the right.  For just one example of that process, look to the repeated successes of Mayor Guiliani.  When things got dangerous, even the hard-nosed but oddly sensitive New York, New Yorkers preferred him.  When he made that city safe to walk at night, they abandoned both Guiliani and his policies.
So, speaking as a Trumpkin or Trumptard or Trumpinista or whatever cute name you think might hurt my feel-feels*, I say bring on the violence.  We’re more than happy to accept the support of people who value peace and democracy over those who think violent conflict is the proper way to select a leader.  There are more than enough of them to tip the election to The Donald.

*Spoiler alert: They don’t.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Fight Stories: One Fist Was Irish

Larry Holden’s One Fist Was Irish is pretty much A River Runs Through It, with boxing substituting for fly fishing.

Barney Nolan is a decent raspberry farmer and a great boxer.  A gentle man, he only ever fights to raise money for the farm, which he continues to manage as much for love of farming as out of obligation to his older brother, Vince.
In their younger days Vince tormented the younger brother until one day Barney’s temper got the better of him, and a flung rock put out the eye of his older brother.  As adults, Vince continues to torment Barney by using that guilt as leverage to force Barney to do the heavy lifting around the farm and to bail Vince out of trouble atound town.
Things come to a head when Barney hospitalizes four Androille brothers looking to exact revenge on Vince for despoiling their younger sister.
The two brothers hop a tramp steamer to work and fight their way through Panama to Philadelphia where Barney can fight professionally until the heat dies down and they can return home.  On the boat ride Vince maneuvers Barney into throwing a fight in order to save Vince from trouble, the first mate’s career, and the crew’s ourses from Vince.  Satisfied that he has Barney’s number, Vince hatches a plan to maneuver him into throwing a fight in Philadelphia.
First though, Barney has to work his way up to a big purse.  While doing so, Vince steals the wife of Barney’s manager, and manipulates Barney into staying in Philly long after they could have safely returned home.  He even manages to use his guilt-lever to ensure Barney wins his preliminary fights by tricking Barney’s foes into mentioning the accident that cost him his eye.  Every mention sends Barney into a berzerker rage that leaves his opponent on the mat.
The last fight of the tale, Barney enters the ring believing that the only way to save his brother is to throw the fight.  To add to his burden, his manager has convinced him that his only hope of winning the fight is to play to his weak left hand.  Unbeknownst to Barney his manager has bet against him in an effort to win back his bride.
A sudden appearance of the despoiled Androille sister ringside reveals Vince’s treachery and triggers a last minute change of heart by Barney’s manager.  Which still leaves the matter of winning a fight that Barney has mistrained for and in which he has already thrown the first two rounds.
As expected, the story is one of relationships, and specifically relationships between men.  The love-hate between brothers, the respect of competitors, the paternal concern of bosses and mentors, all make an appearance.  It would take some world class piling higher and deeper of the Phd variety to find anything untoward in this story.  It’s just normal guys doing what normal guys do. 

Maybe that's why the ivory tower types have such disdain for this type of literature - as abnormal guys, they simply can't recognize value in telling the stories of people who aren't just like them.  As damaged people they prefer stories about damaged people.  That is understandable, but their insistence that they have a monopoly on quality stories is proven wrong by this engaging story.
It’s not high literature.  The narrative wanders a bit in the iddle stretches.  The heel lacks all nuance.  A few small touches might have improved the payoff.  As narratives go, though, it delivers.  For a throw away story in a cheap magazine, this is a damn fine story.  Today’s world could use more like it.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

What’s In the Box?

Pulp magazines have been out for a long time.  Plenty of people have noted that they provide a glimpse into the culture of days gone by.  Surely there are multiple books out there on the subject – why not just read one of those?  It would be trivially easy to “cheat” and go look up the answer first.  At its heart, this series is more about the journey than it is the destination.

That isn’t to say that a history of pulp magazines won’t make an appearance.  If one crosses my path, I’ll give it a shot with a skepticism chaser.  Such a text may provide some valuable insight, but experience indicates that it is just as likely to engage in the same sort of historical revisionism and political axe-grinding as the conventional histories of the more fantastic magazines.  The field of literary criticism these days wallows in the same sort of mire as literature itself.  Writers in a field, and the critics who criticize them, are generally cut from the same cloth, it’s just that the critics rarely have the talent to produce content of their own.
The heavy dose of irony that results from a guy engaged in literary criticism suggesting critics have no talent is obvious, but only strengthens my case.  The whole point of this exercise is that the survey of men's adventure magazines is expressly designed as an exercise in becoming a better writer.  That I have aspirations of adequacy is neither secret nor shameful. 

That I have to go back to my grandparent's culture to find a model to emulate is an indictment of the modern world, but one made without malice.  The answer to how we got here interests me less than the answer to how to write in a way that isn't tainted by the modern Oprah Book of the Month style faux-intellectualism.

Tor the record, it seems to me that the Baby Boomers rejected the simple appeal of the plain spoken tales of their fathers in favor of a more high browed literary attempts at uncovering the deeper meaning of human life by investigating the strange and often obscured corners of the world.  They looked to counter-cultural forces and sought meaning in things like the drug culture or eastern mysticism or any other rejection of the typical culture in which they lived.  The belief that the answers to ordinary life can only be found by seeking out extra-ordinary circumstances makes no sense to me. 

But then, I unapologetically think, act, and write, as a normal guy - not a special snowflake whom the world does not and cannot understand.  It is for this reason, that I look back to the stories told by regular guys meant to appeal to regular guys, in an attempt to understand how to replicate their work.  If that results in a bit of encouragement for others to read these readily accessible and freely available works, so much the better - they are worth it.

Friday, July 8, 2016

You Don't Deserve This

Dear Officer,

You don't deserve this. 

Sure, you may rally around men accurately accused of wrong-doing.  You might stand by and allow Trump supporters to be viciously attacked on a regular basis.  You may even repeatedly fail to protect the rights of assembly and freedom of speech,

but you don't deserve this.

We all know that at the end of the day, you're just a guy making his way through a difficult world in a difficult time of upheaval.  We know that at the end of the day, you don't answer to the people you're sworn to protect, but to the political leaders who control your ability to feed your children.  We know that when you when you take sides in the culture war while in uniform that you're just following the orders of the political class,

but you don't deserve this.

You gotta look out for you and your brothers in blue.  Tribalism is very important, and your first loyalty should be to those most like you.  Believe me, whether they admit it or not, everyone understands that.  Those of us on the alt-right sure understand it.  So no hard feelings on our part.  You might fail us all too often,

but you don't deserve this.

In these moments when the ER is filled with your brothers in blue bleeding red, and social media whipping information in every direction, and the establishment media gathering information while they wait to learn of the narrative that the facts must be spun to fit, just remember this.  We on the right want your support.  Not your suffering.  Not your lives.  Just your support.  We might not like that you won't, or you can't, give it to us,

but  you still don't deserve this.

Blue Lives Matter

This post was written the night that four police officers were killed in an ambush in Dallas following a Black Lives Matter protest.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Congratulations, Cirsova

Yesterday the best little SF/F magazine that could, completed a successful Kickstarter for Issue #2.

The first issue was fantastic, and that was done on little more than a wing and a prayer.  It's going to be great to see what P. Alexander can do with some extra financial backing.  It didn't make the cut-off for any of the stretch goals, but most of those relate to "collector's edition" goodies, which don't have much appeal to those of us that are only in it for the stories themselves.

A $2 backing nets a copy of the PDF, which is a steal for the amount of content for the pirce.  It's looking like five short stories, a novella, and the continuation of Hutching's excellent long-form poetry retelling of John Carter's adventures. I threw down at the $10 level, more for the encouragement than the hard copy, as my reading has shifted over primarily to digital media.  Can't see me lugging around a hard copy magazine when the same thing is tucked right there in my cell phone.

Can't say either of the alternate covers tickle my fancy, but a glance at an uninteresting cover is more than outweighed by the hours of reading enjoyment that this magazine is sure to bring.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Google Doodle Fun

Yesterday NASA's Juno probe reached Jupiter.  Google Inc., as a hotbed of science-loving goofballs, saw fit to mark the occasion with an animated banner showing Team Juno celebrating the event.  This is what the world looks like to Google:

The Google Doodle, an irregular feature of the world's most trafficked search engine is one of those annoying little features of this modern life used by Team SJW to rewrite history to suit their own needs.  While some of the criticism of the Google Doodle Team can be laid at the feet of hyperventilating attention whores - Google doesn't have to celebrate every major Christian holiday every single year, people - concrete examples abound.  They routinely ignore major historical figures in favor celebrating of figures who barely rise to the level of a footnote.  They rarely mention an Edison or a Bell or a van Leeuwenhoek (too white-maley), but don't miss the chance to remind us all of the important contributions of astronomer Caroline Hershel who...discovered a couple of comets.  To say nothing of its recent celebration of Yuri Kochiyama, an activist who has expressed support for Osama Bin Laden and Mao Tse Tung, serves as a concrete example. The American Thinker has a more detailed write-up for anyone who needs more evidence.

At any rate, something struck me as odd about yesterday's Google Doodle.  That dancing team of NASA drones.  It features the obligatory rainbow coalition of scientist types that you'll find in any Disney Channel show, what with a perfect sex split and two African Americans.  Frankly, it looked to me like Asians were under-represented what with that lone guy dancing there. 

Being a scientifically inclined sort of guy, I used Google itself to check up on Google's representation of the Juno Team, and found several photos of the Juno Team.  It's a lot whiter and more manly than Google's own picture.  Here's a few photos of the celebration as it happened in real-world space:

A case could be made for highlighted bit--part scientists as a means of encouraging kids who don't fit the traditional demographic to go into STEM fields.  Not a good case, but a case.  This sort of reverse white-washing, though?  This is anti-reality.  It's rejecting empirical evidence that doesn't fit the theory.

What could be less scientific than that?

Here's a meme-ified version for social media:

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Fight Stories: Homecoming

I’m just a regular guy, you know?  Half of what I know about boxing comes from experience a little of it firsthand and everything I could tell you about boxing comes from reading about it.  All those deeper meanings and insights into man’s internal struggles have been noticed and written by men more experienced and eloquent than myself.  The only two things I bring to the table are cheerleading and confirmation.
Homecoming, by Francis K. Allen is a damn fine story that deserves both.
It starts with our hero, Joe Corey, returning to his hometown a pariah.  Five years earlier Joe had succumbed to pressure, temptation, and greed, and thrown a fight.  Nothing proven, but you can’t fool your own manager, and it’s inly now, when that manager needs a proving ground for his new contender, Baron Dulaney, that Joe has a shot at redemption.  Crooked or not, Joe can build up Dulaney’s claim to a title shot.
Most of this story presents Joe’s nerve wracking wait in the days before the fight.  His ex-wife reaches out to him, but his nerves blind him, and the local kids and sportswriters serve as a constant reminder of his shameful past.
Then, the night before the fight Joe is approached by a businessman with an offer.  He provides the key to beat Dulaney by taking advantage of a psychological trick - not cheating per se, but not boxing, either.  Thanks to the magic of gambling, Joe can win the fight, earn his share of the purse, and make bank on top of it.  All he has to do is take advantage of his opponent’s World War Two related PTSD.  Simple.
Halfway through the fight, Joe has done so twice, but his ex-wife - and everyone else in the arena has realized Joe isn’t winning as a boxer, but through dirty pool.  What’s more, Joe realizes it, and puts everything on the line to finish the fight as a boxer, on his own merits.  Whether he wins or loses the bout becomes irrelevant once he wins back his own self-respect.
That may sound cheesy, and in the hands of a lesser writer it would come off as cheesy. Francis is up to the task, though, with a terse story that is as evocative as it is emotional.

In today’s too-cool-for-school world, one where Ali ushered in an age of extravagant pre-fight psychological gamesmanship, the notion of throwing away an advantage for something as ephemeral as honor might sound antiquated, but perhaps that is more an indictment of our own cynicism than it is a criticism of the naiveté of the past.