Bicycling in the rain is not as romantic as it sounds (if it sounds romantic at all) #SFWApro

Once again, we made it to the Raleigh end of the American Tobacco Trail, a 34-mile round trip. We even got out of bed around 6 a.m. so we could get going before it got too hot.
Unfortunately, we had barely started back when the sky became dark and ominous. About four miles on the trip home, it cracked open and we were drenched. After a couple of miles we found shelter, sort of, under the eaves of a park restroom, squeezed in with three other people. We waited, I’m not sure how long until the rain tapered off to a drizzle, then set out again.
That was the worst of it, but riding the next 12 miles with sodden wet clothes was no fun at all. We finally made it home, utterly wiped out (though that said, not as wiped out as the first time we went). And the rest of the day I spent either watching movies for the time-travel book, cooking dinner (pasta with a bruschetta appetizer), making pesto with our remaining basil plants and then watching Time After Time with TYG. So a good day, but a tiring one.
Bed is looking very good.

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Why does it always have to be time-travel? (#SFWApro)

THE SANTA CLAUSE 3: Escape Clause (2006) has Santa (Tim Allen) coping with his wife’s imminent pregnancy, bringing his inlaws to the North Pole and Jack Frost’s (Martin Short) desire to replace him—which is what leads to the time-travel angle, Frost contriving to rewind time to the moment Allen became Santa, then replace him. This has the It’s a Wonderful Life effect of making everyone’s life more miserable, even Allen’s first wife’s second husband, Judge Reinhold, so Allen sets out to fix things. Extremely forgettable, but it would double bill well with the later Rise of the Guardians or the earlier Like Father, Like Santa (another where an ice-themed villain tries replacing the guy in the suit). “They’re not little Canadians—they’re elves!”
FOR ALL TIME (2000) is nominally inspired by The Twilight Zone episode “A Stop at Willoughby,” in which a stressed out businessman gets the chance to stop at an idyllic old-fashioned town. What happens next is so different that the film feels like it owes more to Jack Finney’s nostalgia-drenched time-travel stories. Mark Harmon is the stressed-out ad man who discovers his antique pocket watch lets him step off his commuter train into 1896, where he fall sin love with not only peaceful small-town life but newspaper editor Mary McDonnell (as my friend Ross has observed, “female newspaper editor” seems to replace “schoolteacher” as the job of choice for 19th century female leads). Blithely ignores the ugly side of the past (lynching, sexism, etc.) and the ending is odd: After Harmon goes back to the past to stay, we see this leads to an alternate present in which his career-oriented, not-having-kids wife is married to Harmon’s best friend (though they don’t remember him) and has a son (would having her stay child-free not have been happy enough?) “The only things that have to show are the grim reaper—and the taxman.”

Now the not-going-in-the-book ones: DINOSAUR ISLAND (1994) presents its fur bikini-wearing blonde jungle women and dinosaurs as a stock Lost World rather than a time-rift, but I couldn’t be sure until I watched it This Fred Olin Ray schlock production was such crap (and with such gratuitous toplessness) that I fast forwarded through most of it. “Page 32! Page 32!”
DINOSAUR PROJECT (2012) was a Found Footage story in which an expedition hunting cryptids in Africa discovers another lost world swarming with dinosaurs—but it turns out the mysterious valley they come from is just a mysterious valley (as far as the movie shows) rather than a time-rift, so it doesn’t make the cut either. Competent, but stock, and the found-footage angle detracts rather than adds to the film as it makes it obvious nobody’s coming back (which is predictable in a horror movie, not so much here).

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Movies and TV(#SFWApro)

John Sayles’ LONE STAR (1996) has border-town sheriff Chris Cooper realizing the corpse that recently turned up outside town with a sheriff’s star by it is actually infamously corrupt, long-missing lawman Kris Kristofferson, which could indicate Cooper’s own father, Sheriff Mathew McConaghey, is the one responsible. The strength of the movie is less the mystery than the way it drives Cooper to explore the community around him (as always, the social backdrop is a key part of Sayles’ films) which includes hardcase military officer Joe Morton, Elizabeth Peña as Cooper’s Lost Love and Frances McDormand as his unstable ex. “And there we were, your father and me, standing with a dead cop leaking blood on the floor between us.”
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (2007) is the Coens’ noir adaptation of Cormac Macarthy, with Josh Brolin as a cowboy who stumbles across a couple of million in drug money, only to find he’s in way over his head when murdering sociopath Javier Bardem goes looking for the cash (I wish Bardem had been half this scary in Skyfall). Tommy Lee Jones plays an aging sheriff aghast at confronting pure evil, which made me think of Frances McDormand’s similar turn in Fargo. This is really strong up to the end when it goes soft: I can’t see why Bardem doesn’t kill Jones at one crucial point and I could have done without Jones’ explaining What It All Means (I don’t know if that’s something that carried over from the original) “If the road you followed led you to this, of what use was the road?”

24: Live Another Day brings back Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer along with most of the cast from his last season when a terrorist takes over a half-dozen American drones to force President William Devane to give himself up. Enter Jack who finds himself launching one last mission despite the usual mix of treachery, enemy agents and booby-traps ahead. This has the series’ usual political issues (not only torture but the Julian Assange-counterpart here really turns out to be an enemy of the America); a bigger problem for me is that I’d have preferred a final end, rather than leaving this open for more adventures (which Fox hasn’t ruled out).
While I was disappointed in AGENTS OF SHIELD‘s first half-season, it really picked up after CAPTAIN AMERICA II hit the theaters: Tying in with that, we have SHIELD collapse as Hydra destroys it from within, with the rot even infecting Coulson’s team. While I still think the SF level of the show could be higher, the added drama made up for it. Hopefully they’ll keep that running next season. And to give them credit, the secret of Coulson’s resurrection wasn’t what I predicted at the link.

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Tired but pleased (#SFWApro)

The main reason for the tired is that Demand Media had a lot of finance articles this week, so I had a wide selection of articles I could write (tech is a lot harder for me). So I wrote. And that coupled with everything else took plenty of energy. But it feels good to count on having money coming in.
Other than those articles and the usual array of time-travel viewing, I spent lots of time working on my replot of Southern Discomforts. It went great until this afternoon when I realized a key plot point didn’t actually make sense. The solution was simple enough but it took me a frustrating couple of hours to think of it. However the replotting is otherwise going well. I have a much clearer idea of the setting (small town called Candleston) and I’ve worked in one key event that I never got around to scheduling last time.
I also read one of my older stories, All Happy Families, to some writing friends and got some good feedback. More positive than I expected, in fact, so after a couple of tweaks, I’ll send it out again.
And I have a couple of magazine queries ready to go. I’ll send them out next week, which gives me time to make one final glance over them.
So productive! And so ready to kick back and relax for the weekend.
Oh, and I got accepted as a guest for the local Illogicon next January. That’ll be fun—it’s my first time in about 20 years being a con guest.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, Time Travel Book, Writing

The price of a productive day—

At least for today is being too tired for anything but links.
•Bank of America will pay a $16.6 million settlement over charges it knowingly took drug-dealers’ money. Of course that’s the kind of penalty a corporation that size can shrug off. A shame we don’t put people in jail for drug crimes. Oh, wait ….
•A Yelp review’s joke about free abortions prompts a Portland restaurant to donate money to a women’s crisis line. Meanwhile another Portland eatery (ice cream) raises money for Planned Parenthood and gets threats.
•A Finnish educator says that evolutionary psychology should be taught to everyone everywhere. Echidne disagrees (and here’s a past post of mine on the topic).
•The Bloggess responds to a new Tumblr meme, Women Against Feminism. While I agree with her that feminism has its problems, I think a lot of the “against” is because right-wingers have portrayed feminism so negatively for the past 30 or 40 years. As witness one sign that baffles the Bloggess “I don’t need to grow out my body hair to prove I’m equal to men.” The idea of feminists as hairy, unshaven women (and that this is a Very Bad Thing) is a staple caricature, common enough it’s not surprising people buy into it (even people whose actual beliefs are extremely feminist. I’ve known several).
•Undocumented immigrants are a greater threat to America than al Qaeda, one right-winger proclaims!
•A church actually expels a pastor for sexually abusing children. That shouldn’t be noteworthy, but it is.
•A Catholic group active in supporting immigrants doesn’t support same-sex marriage but has a membership in a Hispanic organization that does. Which is pro-gay enough that the Catholic Church cut the group’s funding.
•Eight states have religious tests for public office.
•Some moderate churches worry that Obama’s treating gay rights too much like racial or gender rights.
•I’ve read about Apple’s brutal treatment of it’s overseas workers. Apparently American workers get treated illegally too. Outsourcing, of course, lets companies push what they do into the shadows, and they prefer it that way.
•Apple and a computer security specialist lock horns over possible back doors in iPhones.
Here’s a good idea for dealing with “safety” regulations that place requirements on abortion clinics but no-one else: Make them apply to all similar medical businesses (if abortion doctors have to have hospital-admitting privileges, so do dentists).
•A Florida court throws out a gerrymandered legislative district.

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Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

I read Jekyll. Now I learn about Hyde

I’ve been a fan of the late Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover books (and her better known Mists of Avalon) for years.
That said, I’m somehow not surprised that in addition to covering up her husband’s pedophilia, her daughter recently stated that MZB herself was an abuser (quoted at the link), both sexual and physical.
I’m not surprised because I know just from watching the world that being a good writer or editor (she gave me a brutal critique of a piece I’d submitted to her fantasy magazine, but it was quite accurate) doesn’t mean you’re not a horrible person. Being charming and funny doesn’t mean you’re not an abuser. I’ve known three women over the years whose husbands were abusive. There was only one where I thought on learning the news “No, that doesn’t surprise me.” (I didn’t think he was abusive, but he was kind of a dick). It surprises me a lot less now. Mr. (or Ms.) Hyde) can present a positive face to the world and be a beast when behind closed doors; that’s just the way people are.
As with Woody Allen, I’m not sure efforts to find the kink in her books are really practical. It doesn’t have to show. Mr. Hyde can … hide. Though as with Allen, it’s hard to not think about this when you read an author’s works (I’ll see what I think when I reread them some day).
All that being said, radishreviews points out that a lot of people did know and did nothing. If not the kind of overt cover-up I’ve just written about, it was a similar impulse: The abuser’s one of us. Are we going to turn our backs on him? Let’s just keep the kids away and everything will be fine. Only it wasn’t.
One final note, on this story about Bradley: comparing her to Lewis Carroll (AKA Charles Dodgson) is ridiculous. There’s never been any evidence that Dodgson had any romantic/sexual interest in Alice Liddell (the prototype for Alice in the books). There is no evidence that Dodgson was interested in children at all (he photographed adults as well as children and had relationships—friendship at least—with many adult women). Nor were there ever any accusations. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t have happened … but unlike MZB there’s no reason to think it did (the Smithsonian article the Guardian links to makes that clear).

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Filed under Politics, Reading, Undead sexist cliches

New And Column out

On cover-ups, why they seem to make sense when people try them and why they’re wrong.

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Filed under Politics