GOP candidates and other political links

After the recent shooting, Republican presidential wannabe Ben Carson said he’d have charged the gunman. But when he wound up in a fast-food place with a gunman, he told the man to point it at the cashier. Not the same.

•John Kasich was happy to have a group of young women in his townhall meeting, until they tried to ask questions (“I’m sorry, I don’t have any Taylor Swift concert tickets.” was his brush-off).

•Republican pundits are quite willing to toe the line and discover the awesome in candidates such as Carly Fiorina. If they look crazy to the public, it’s because Obama has cunningly tricked Republicans into acting crazy!

•Before the 20th century women worked as doctors, farmers, soldiers, pirates … but some people refuse to believe it.

•Turns out welfare recipients aren’t all on drugs. Aren’t you glad state governments have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars testing them to prove it?

•Echidne discusses fetal rights in Alabama, where hospitals drug-test expectant mothers without notifying them and share results with law enforcement. And law enforcement locks women away if it doesn’t like the results. I’m not surprised.

•For millions of people, retail sales is the best job they can hope for. Turns out it can be worse. Meanwhile, Whole Foods sheds employees and cuts wages to look better to Wall Street (I’m doubtful how much any savings will pass along to consumers). According to the article, the most experienced—and therefore best-paid—employees are the targeted, which I think is a bad idea (I shop there). And I’ve read that slashing staff doesn’t boost stock that much either. An extreme bad example was Circuit City, which cut most of its experienced staff a few years back, then discovered having staffers who can’t give good advice on purchasing expensive electronics was not a draw for customers. Which is one reason they’re gone from the retail landscape.

•A restaurant group allegedly withheld more than $40,000 in tips from employees.

•Don’t say Republicans are making it harder for blacks to vote! They’re just being efficient!

•The Second Amendment is not the obstacle to good gun control policy.

•How slight tinkering with drug formulas or dosages prevents rival companies marketing generics.

•This post about the inevitability of self-driving cars and how wonderful it’ll be to stop humans from driving reminds me of pretty much every criticism I’ve ever heard of technological utopianism. First, a lot of the issues the author thinks self-driving cars will fix (less congestion, less pollution, fewer accidents, less need to own cars) don’t need a tech solution—mass transit would do the trick. And while I give him points for acknowledging serious questions (hacking, privacy, relationship to non-automated cars, legal liability) need to be solved, it seems like “this is inevitable” invariably involves ducking the questions. Then we wind up stuck with the technology and the tech gurus and CEOs (particularly CEOs) tell us that we should just accept the loss of privacy (or whatever the issue is). Nicht gut.

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Unexpected hiatus (#SFWApro)

So Monday, TYG had some social stuff which kept her out late. So figuring I’d get to bed later than usual (now that we have the dogs, it’s impossible to slip into bed quietly and not wake each other), I spent the evening doing Tuesday’s work. And didn’t blog.

Tuesday, I had writer’s group, which was a treat as always.

Wednesday, I just pooped out from pups. And I really wanted to finish rereading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (I succeeded).

So only now getting back to blogging. By way of atonement, a great cover by John Romita.


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Copyright craziness and other writing-related links (#SFWApro)

Paramount’s search-and-destroy copyright-infringement web-bots have even targeted posts that refer to someone as “clueless” as infringing the copyright for Clueless.

•Malibu Media, a porn producer, has a fondness for aggressive copyright litigation.

•The Batmobile is a copyright protected design. But Happy Birthday isn’t.

•Brian K. Lowe discusses whether writing isn’t better treated as a hobby than a job. I’ve made the same argument.

•Advice on the query letter for your novel (hat tip to Rebekkah Niles).

•Does your synopsis work? Ask someone who hasn’t read the book.

•To help flesh out your story locale, use local slang for roads, landmarks, etc. For example back in Fort Walton Beach there was the “Taj Mahal” (four-story administrative county offices) and the “mullet wrapper” (the local paper). The area as a whole has been known as the Emerald Coast, the Redneck Riviera and the Miracle Strip.

•Having multiple non-white/straight/Christian/male characters doesn’t mean you’re going overboard with diversity.

•Jim Hines on why the newest Libriomancer book will be the last (both financial and creative reasons).

•John Scalzi on the complexities of figuring out how much writers as a group are earning. And on the career merits of not being a jerk.

•A good list of bad tropes for fantasy women. Isabel Kunkel adds some other annoying tropes, such as forgetting oral sex exists (as one of my friends used to joke, it’s the original oral contraceptive).

•Barnes & Noble may be looking at smaller stores. As someone who knew them in the pre-superstore days, it’s amusing to think of that as a radical strategy.

•Foz Meadows wonders at what point “fiction” using other writer’s materials” (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Sherlock, for example) becomes mere and inferior “fanfiction” in the eyes of the world.

There was going to be more but for some reason I’m running out of steam (maybe my seasonal allergies have caught up with me again?). So for now, adieu …


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Graphic Novels (#SFWApro)

AYA OF YOP CITY by Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie is the second in a series about an Ivory Coast village and the various romances, scandals, business-dealings and affairs going on there in the 1970s (I imagine there are nostalgic elements I’m not picking up). This works much better than I’d expect—this kind of soap-opera drama isn’t usually my thing.

THE HOMELAND DIRECTIVE by Robert Venditti and Mike Huddleston shows comics can do a competent mainstream suspense thriller—but did it have to be such a conventional one? This hits all the stock beats I expect: an authoritarian security head who figures a major attack will rationalize even more stringent security steps, an innocent framed and hunted by the system, the threat of the attack itself—and does nothing fresh with it.

batman179BATMAN ARKHAM: The Riddler is a collection of Riddler stories including his two Golden Age appearances (I’ve read the first many times, but not the second), most of his Silver Age action, then hopscotchs through the Bronze Age and beyond. A mixed bag (I hated Doug Moench’s run on Batman, so I skipped his contribution) but lots of good stuff (cover by Gil Kane, all rights with current holder)

SEX CRIMINALS: Two Worlds, One Cop by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky is a successful sophomore collection (initial tale reviewed here) as Jon and Susie try to navigate past the initial rush of their relationship while fighting back against the Sex Police and learning there are many, many more time-stoppers than they realized. Where the first book set things up, this one starts to expand the mythos and does so well, though as with the first, if you don’t like raunch this is definitely not going to fly.

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A couple of books (#SFWApro)

POWERS OF MIND by financial writer Adam Smith (not the “invisible hand” guy) is a mid-seventies book looking at the “inner space astronauts” exploring consciousness and related matters, including EST, Esalen, Arica, LSD (which Smith took himself in the legal years) transcendental (and other kinds) meditation, placebos, ESP research, Uri Geller and Carlos Castaneda. Smith tends toward a middle ground here, genuinely interested in the approaches while fully aware some of these gurus are doing very well financially; impressed by some results while retaining some skepticism (in hindsight, his tentative faith in Uri Geller and then standard left brain/right brain theories is probably the weakest point) so I suspect whatever side of the aisle the reader falls on they’ll find what they’re looking for. As a largely ineffective meditator, I found some of this quite useful, though it didn’t tell me anything really revolutionary—but if I ever write about consciousness-raising in the 1970s in fiction, this’ll be my source.


HYPERBOREA collects Clark Ashton Smith’s tales of that ultimate Thule, ranging from the slightly humorous adventures of thief Satampra Zeiros to the darker tales of men trapped by magic in “The Seven Geases” and “The Weird of Avoosl Wuthacqquan” and the slow slide of the land into darkness in “The Testament of Athammaus” and “Coming of the White Worm”—though unlike some of Smith’s setting, there’s usually a trace of humor in all of the tales. This collection also includes several short pieces vaguely clumped together as stories of “The World’s Rim” under editor Lin Carter’s assumption they were the start of another cycle; I’m not so sure but it’s always fun to reread the rather over-the-top “Abominations of Yondo.” (all rights to cover image with current holder)

CHRISTOPHER LEE AND PETER CUSHING AND HORROR CINEMA: A Filmography of Their 22 Collaborations by Mark A. Miller was one I picked up at the McFarland table at Dragoncon. The book chronicles the men’s careers, off-stage lives and friendship, with the focus on the films where they appeared together, starting with the Laurence Olivier Hamlet (Cushing as Orsic, Lee as a spearman) through the mess of House of Long Shadows. I didn’t find the analysis and critiques of the film as thought-provoking as many of McFarland’s books, but this is full of background detail on them and the movie: Cushing grew up admiring cowby star Tom Mix; the train in Horror Express was from a film called Villa and not (as often reported) Nicholas and Alexandria; and the original ending for House That Dripped Blood would have been an homage to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. A nice and informative tribute to the two titans.


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Not much time travel this week (#SFWApro)

I settled for using online research to synopsize a couple of unavailable foreign films for the appendix, so I didn’t need to watch as many to keep up (I caught up on some time-travel TV instead)>

fmVJzHRgfaxXVHswTNUkZR0IcJCOFFICIAL DENIAL (1994) is a UFO film (one of several where the ETs are actually far-future humans) wherein military commander Chad Everett recruits abductee Parker Stevens to communicate with a captured Gray (whose nickname “DOS” will baffle anyone who wasn’t computerized back then). Not groundbreaking, but it is entertaining, the acting is decent and I like that Everett is almost as obsessed with learning the truth as Stevens. Erin Gray plays Steven’s baffled wife and Dirk Benedict is a suspicious security chief. All rights to image with current holder. “That’s what’s amazing—the ship healed itself.”

I watched DER TRIP (1996) on YouTube in the original German and with the help of some online synopses was able to follow it adequately: a wannabe singer makes out with an engaged young woman, which somehow transports them both back to 1972 (I don’t know if that magic would have made more sense if I could speak German) but landing separately so the singer has to find the lady (who I don’t think retained her memory as he did). One of those that’s very heavy on nostalgic seventies visuals (though it includes less glamorous elements, such as radical left-wing terrorism) and close to a musical, as the protagonist gets out of a couple of scrapes by apparently turning them into musical numbers.

FUTURE COPS (1993) is a forgettable Chinese comedy in which a team of super-villains from 2043 decide to travel back 50 years and turn the judge in their leader’s trial into a brainwashed sleeper. The good guys travel back after them and we get about 40 minutes of supposedly wacky clowning around before the fisticuffs start—all the more surprising as this was based on the Street Fighter vidoegame, so I’d expect more action.. “I think in the slang of 50 years ago he is going to say ‘Damn it.’”

HEAVEN’S SOLDIERS (2005) is a Korean film in which the two Koreas have built a nuclear super-missile (“This stealth missile is the only weapon capable of launching a pre-emptive strike on the United States.”) as part of reunification negotiations. When a biKorean task force tries hiding the nuke from a PO’d United States, they get magically transported back to the Joseon era, leaving them with the task of getting home before the bomb detonates. Unfortunately to preserve Korean history they also have to makeover the shiftless thief who has to become the great general who staves off a Japanese invasion. Not A-list as Korean time-travel goes, but I imagine the politics made it more interesting to the original audience.s “That is not ginseng burning, it is your rotten soul!”

DEXTER’S LABORATORY: Ego Trip (1999) only qualifies for the appendix as it’s under 50 minutes long, but it is fun as a robotic attack on Dexter for saving the future sets him traveling into the future to learn just what sort of cool hero he becomes, then discovers that humanity’s fate rides on his rivalry with evil genius Mandarrk. A bit creepier than they meant it at the end when Dexter sends a robot army to kill his sister, but thumbs up overall. “Now, Mandark, it’s down to you and me—and me and me and me!”

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Filed under Movies, Time Travel Book

Puppies in prison and other events from my week (#SFWApro)

IMG_0528When Plushie went on crate rest, we put him in a crate (of course). Then after that we kept him separated from Trixie for the longest while by this fence, for fear their rough-housing would reinjure his neck. But they love to play together so eventually the pen went away.

It came back Tuesday. We had plumbers in for some preventive maintenance (new taps, caulking, etc.) and there was a lot of it. So I pinned Plushie and Trixie up for the several hours it took (they like the plumbers, but they’d also be sniffing and licking at lots of things they shouldn’t be sniffing or licking at). Unfortunately the Plush One hates being caged, even though I’d maximized the space to about a third of the living room. In between quiet moments like this he was banging at the bars, moaning aloud … I didn’t get much work down (not that I usually do when contractors are here).

Even so I made my 40 hours and they were productive. I can wrap up my films for the time-travel book by the end of the month if I stay on track; I submitted four stories (one’s back already), two magazine queries and four responses to “looking for a freelancer” online postings (one back but it’s not going to pay enough to justify taking the job). As I noted Wednesday, I got several thousand words done on Southern Discomforts, albeit by posting a couple of key scenes from the previous draft into this one (not cheating, this was the place to put them).

I also indexed the first two chapters of the time-travel book. I want to have a rough index ready before I submit the manuscript because it often helps me catch spelling errors, and it’s less stressful than starting from scratch when I get the galleys (it’s still a pain in the butt—most “index” features don’t work for this kind of manuscript—but hopefully less of a pain).

I am now shutting off my computer and preparing for a hopefully relaxing weekend. Reviews of stuff tomorrow.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Southern Discomfort, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Time Travel Book, Writing