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Last week, I started my conversation with Liana K.  You can read Part 1 right here.  Coming into this part, I really wanted to ignore talking about her credentials again.  instead, I want to talk about the person I talked to for a few hours.  I mentioned last week, there was a little intimidation because of how accomplished she was.   This time I want to talk a little bit about why I admire her.

In a very passive aggressive world, Liana isn’t afraid to speak her mind.  She is confident and genuine.  Right before I started writing this introduction, I read her latest on Metaleater.   I encourage you to read this right now before continuing here.  It’s the start of a series of essays that criticize in a constructive way the views of Feminist Frequency in regards to Video Games.  It’s one of the most genuine articles I’ve read about anything.   Liana put a lot of herself into this, expressing her doubts, her struggles, and her concerns with the trends of video games.  

Whether you agree with her or not on her views, this is someone who cares about her subject matter.   Video games are an important part of her life.   We talk a little bit about that below.  

Liana cares not just about what video games have done for her personally, but she also cares about the integrity of how video games are viewed and presented.  There are some hard questions she asked herself in writing it, and great food for thought for the video game community in general.   This is someone who wants the best possible world for a medium she loves.  She cares, and that in itself is a rare thing.  

We need more people like that in this world.

My conversation with Liana continues below:

Liana smartass 

Joshua Pantalleresco: As a brand, and only as a brand, Fox news does an amazing job.

Liana K: Very much so. Everything they do comes from this position of positive visuals. The blue sky background, the bottle blondes, the American feel-good stories they do. Everything they do from a production standpoint has a purpose.

JP: They know exactly who they are. It’s hilarious to see how their opponents try to match them but don’t. They are just as guilty as Fox with manipulating the audience. Only they are nowhere near as good.

LK: They are not, no.

JP: On the plus side, shows like Jon Stewart seem to make fun them.

LK: I love Jon Stewart, but hate the fact that he won’t acknowledge his responsibility to the public with what he does.

JP: Does he have to?

LK: I think so. I know it’s uneasy to wear the crown, but the fact is 25% of Americans get their news from his show. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s a brilliant performer…

JP: Sharp too. I remember watching him on Crossfire.

LK: He really is brilliant. He is in my opinion better without writers than with him. The stuff he did during the writer’s strike was even better.

JP: But it’s a comedy show.

LK: It is, but we were doing some of the same “comedic news” stuff on Muchmusic. We realized through letters we were getting that Ed [The Sock] was becoming a spokesperson for people. At that point we looked at each and realized that we had to step up our game.

We made a conscious effort to report on stuff as factually as possible, and make sure that when we were funny, that that part of the show was obvious. I really wish that Stewart would do the same thing.

JP: Do you think Colbert has the same responsibility?

LK: He’s more obviously a parody and he’s brilliant. As someone who has performed in a role like that, I realize just how hard that is to pull off and he does it so well.

JP: I wonder how different he is. He’s been doing this character for a long time. After a while, parts of it rub off on you.

LK: Definitely. More of you gets put into a character if you do it long enough.

JP: What I mean is, I wonder how it has changed him. Do you start believing all the hype after so long?

LK: He’s been asked that a few times. I think he’s said the whole thing makes him more liberal.

JP: Really? Cool.

LK: There sadly aren’t that many good comedy shows now anymore.

JP: What is considered good comedy these days frightens me. I can’t stand the Big Bang Theory.

LK: Thank you!

JP: What really pisses me off about that show is that every so often, it’s brilliant. There are these kernels of genuine sophistication in that show. Just when I think they may break through into something great…

LK: …It gets dumb again. I know what you mean. For the longest time, Amy had some of the most brilliant throwaway lines in the who
le show. It was awesome.

JP: Now it’s so played out, I just want something new.

LK: The funniest thing right now is Black-ish. It’s a brilliant show! Have you seen it?

JP: …No. I don’t have the time. For me, it’s day job and then I’m working in my own kind of world at night. Getting into TV for me is a slow process.

LK: I used to be the same way, but I always got asked “did you hear about this show or so and so?” I try to keep up a little bit.

JP: You watching any of the DC series?

LK: Absolutely

JP: Is the Flash as awesome as I’ve heard it to be?

LK: It is. It’s a fun show. It doesn’t try to dark or depressing in any way. It’s just a fun show, with so many Easter eggs, it’s cool. I loved that one with Blue Devil.

JP: Really? That’s awesome.

LK: Constantine is pretty decent too. Better than the movie was.

JP: I’m a little more leery of Constantine. I just loved the vertigo stuff so much. I hate that he’s in DC now.

LK: He doesn’t really fit there does he? Alan Moore is such a tough writer to put in.

JP: It just isn’t that. Everyone that was anyone in Vertigo touched him at some point or another. There was Peter Milligan, Grant Morrison, and Warren Ellis, just to name a few. That character had such a rich history, and written by so many talented writers, I feel like the Television will be a bit light.

LK: You’re right. He really was written by everyone wasn’t he? Well, I get where you’re coming from, but I enjoy the TV series. Matt Ryan is great. I loved the Dr. Fate easter egg that was in one of the episodes weapon. And the Spectre reference!

JP: Okay, that does sound cool. You read comics?

LK: Of course!

JP: Who do you like?

LK: My personal favorite is Gail Simone. I always feel she gets kind of cut off right before her runs really take off.

JP: Really? I wasn’t completely sold on Gail until I read Red Sonja. That book is just awesome. Before that, I tried her with Welcome To Tranquility. I couldn’t get into it.

LK: Welcome to Tranquility wasn’t her most accessible work, but I always feel she is short changed. Her Wonder Woman run was impressive, but ended far too soon. This has happened to her quite a bit.

JP: I think she’s always been good. I do like her Secret Six stuff.

LK: She does villains and antiheroes very well as characters. I loved that she developed an almost kirk, spock, mccoy triangle in that book as time went on. She does good work.

JP: She does. I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of her Red Sonja run and where it goes. I’m enjoying. How do you feel about Alan Moore?

LK: As I said above a little when we were talking about Constantine, Alan Moore is a hard writer for television to adapt. He has such a strong vision for how he does things.

JP: For me, on the level of dialogue, he’s been caught up to and surpassed. But in terms of design and how a comic works, he’s untouched.

LK: Agreed. What fascinates me about him is how much magic appears in his work. He literally believes in it as a concept and it colours all of his stuff all the way back to Swamp Thing. It’s neat to see.

JP: [Grant]Morrison kind of does it too.

LK: Yeah, but Morrison lets his ego get into the way. Moore just lets that go and adds plot to spirit. It’s neat to read.

JP: I feel the only guy that comes close to Moore in design is the guy that did American Flagg. That is a neat comic.

LK: I’ve seen that. It’s written and drawn by Howard Chaykin. Another good one, but I’m not as familiar. I see the skill though, for sure.

JP: There were some great masters of the genre back then. I’m still learning stuff about them as I go.

LK: I wonder what it would have been like for some of them today. Moore had six guaranteed issues for Watchmen before he even started. I wonder today given the restrictions that are there if some of these great runs would have happened. You get four issues at most to tell a tale, which is what? 80 pages?

JP: I kind of think that the Ipad may save comics in that. The Ipad changes how the whole medium is presented. Splash pages for example are always going to be just a splash page online, no matter how many pages it would be in real life. You can add detail to pictures now that you couldn’t on a page.

LK: …Because you can zoom in and out of an image with an ipad. There are other neat things you can do too. Like, why have the illusion of turning the page? Comics on an ipad aren’t books. So what if instead of turning a page, say the character is going through the door. Why not have them open it? Create that interactive experience.

JP: That is just brilliant. Whatever my next comic project is, I want to play with the ipad a bit. There’s a ton of potential with this.

LK: Mark Waid’s company Thrillbent is really playing with it. You should check it out.

JP: I will. So what video games are you playing right now?

LK: I really like Dragon Age. Dragon Age takes all the tropes you find in RPGs and turn them on their head. You have this Arthurian king type character in the first game and in his party are a bunch of unique characters that don’t fit those stereotypes. For instance, the “princess in a loveless marriage” trope is fused with the Baba Yaga type character merged with a magic goddess trope. The latest game, Inquisition faltered some from a story perspective, and got a little too “hit you over the head” political, but there was still good stuff in it. I hope they’ve patched up the issues from corporate interference and can move on more organically now with the story.

JP: Sounds like. Have you played Ni no Kuni?

LK: No! I really want to!

JP: It’s probably the best rpg on the PS3. I just love the world, it’s so well built. It’s not the hardest game I’ve played, but I loved the whole brokenhearted concept, and the whole parallel universe concept. There was a great story in there too.

My absolute favourite thing about the game is the bonus content after you beat it. There is this cool character called the conductor, and he takes you almost on a tour of everything you did on your journey, up to and including the bonus boss at the very end. It is one of the coolest odysseys I’ve ever been on. If you complete the game, you get a cool bonus. It doesn’t make the game easier, but it’s so fitting for the world it feels very worthwhile.

LK: I love games like that. I really want to play it now. It’s kind of hard to find.

JP: It’s worth it. They just don’t make games like that anymore.

LK: No, they don’t.

JP: Let’s talk about books for a bit. You really liked my book list?

LK: I did.

JP: Edgar Rice Burroughs was prevalent on my list, and you mentioned in a PM that you loved him. What’s the appeal of him to you?

LK: I loved the worlds he created. But more importantly, even though the plots were similar, Burroughs could make you feel like you were the character in there. You were John Carter or Tarzan or on Venus. You were able to experience it as if you were there. He was so good at that.

JP: He really was. Have you read this? [Author’s note: At this point I show her a copy of The Girl Who Ventured to Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Kathrynn Valente]

LK: I heard of her, haven’t read her yet. When I read books, I binge. I start a book, especially one I really want to read, and tend to spend the day reading it. It’s rare I get that time, so there’s a list of things I want to read but haven’t.

JP: I can understand that impulse a bit. It’s why The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson isn’t in my bags.

LK: you’d spend the whole trip reading it?

JP: Exactly. You recently completed a book didn’t you with Tesseracts?

LK: I did. I was one of the editors of the book, Wrestling With Gods (Tesseracts 18). It was a learning experience. Very humbling. This year, there was a lot of poetry that was very strong being submitted.

JP: I wish I had been able to submit. I still kick myself a bit.

LK: It’s coming out next year, and I’ll be doing a few conventions promoting it and a few other things next year.

JP: I’m looking forward to it. What did you think of Harry Potter?

LK: I really liked it, but really think that the book series lost a little something in the finale. Essentially, Harry spends the final book battling to maintain a status quo that I question the value of. It makes the whole effort less poignant somehow.

JP: My whole opinion on Harry Potter changed with Book Seven. Looking back, I kind of question if Harry was the real subject of the books. I think honestly, in a lot of ways the whole series is about Dumbledore and who he was and how he manipulated events.

LK: Not everything. Some of the things Rowling said came after the book out. I mean, why mention that Dumbledore was gay?

JP: I didn’t really consider that to be a big deal. It doesn’t affect the story one iota.

LK: I know. It’s just, I wish she had kept it in the story.

JP: I get that, but I think for me the whole thing changed when I saw those flashbacks with Snape and Dumbledore. I really think the series, particularly the last book was about who was Albus Dumbledore.

LK: Fair enough.

JP: So what did you think about Twilight?

LK: I laughed so hard at the first book. I have to admit, by the time she got to Breaking Dawn, that Stephanie Meyer got better as a writer. The first book just had so many flaws to it. I particularly laughed at the whole baseball scene. I really think the editors did Meyer a disservice of not going through the book and helping her work on some of the scenes, some of the point of view issues… stuff like that. So often, Bella knows something that turns out to be not at all true. So she didn’t know it. She assumed it. It was little things like that an editor is supposed to help an author with.

JP: They thought they had a real hit with that. Do I even dare ask what you thought of 50 Shades of Grey?

LK: I couldn’t finish it. I get the whole fantasy thing with women that really like it, but to me, there were so many flaws in the writing of the book that it was really hard to enjoy the cheese in it. I was kind of uncomfortable with the whole bondage thing. I get the whole trust thing and the he’ll not really hurt me deal…

JP: I don’t know if it’s just that. I know some women that I consider friends that are in abusive situations. I don’t really believe they really believe that their significant other won’t hurt them.

LK: Guilt perhaps?

JP: One for sure. The other, I’m clueless on. So let me ask you something, we’ve talked for hours here. I think I can safely say you are confident, considerate, opinionated and strong. What is your secret?

LK: Oh wow, the confidence thing! That’s another full conversation! [She laughs] But if I had to be glib about how it started, I’d have to say video games. Video Games gave me a merit-based system to achieve something. I was able to accomplish things back when I was a kid and it gave me the confidence to believe that I could do other things. In order to build confidence, you have to try things, fail, and keep doing it until you get it. There are no shortcuts. Video games provide that in a world that tends to focus on “trying hard” – especially with girls – as opposed to “doing well”.

JP: Wow. That may be the best reason I’ve ever heard to play video games.

LK: Thank you.

JP: Honestly, it’s been a pleasure talking to you. I really enjoyed it.

LK: I did too.

JP: Thank you for doing this.

Wrestling with Gods

Once again, check out Wrestling With Gods, edited by Liana and Jerome Stueart.   It’s available wherever you can buy books.  Liana has a Patreon in which you can donate and get hellos from her cat Momo and other cool things at https://www.patreon.com/lianak.   Her twitter handle is @redlianak.  I want to once again thank Liana for her time and patience with me, and hopefully someday I’ll be lucky enough to do this again.