Category Archives: Screen Rant

My new Screen Rant on movie stars who flopped on TV is out (#SFWApro)

More precisely, stars who flopped in series TV — Roddy McDowell did quite a bit of voice-over work and TV movies, for instance, but his three gigs as a series regular (Planet of the Apes, Fantastic Journey, Tales of the Gold Monkey) were all over in one season or less. And that’s not even counting his unsuccessful pilot Topper Returns or getting replaced as the voice of Niddler in Dark Water. None of which, as I note in the piece, reflects on his talent.

Below, McDowell as Galen from Planet of the Apes. All rights to image remain with current holder.



Filed under Movies, Screen Rant, TV

One thing pretty much dominated the week (#SFWApro)

My mother is about to die.

From my sister’s reports, it’s not that her health has gotten worse (as long-time readers may recall, it’s been bad for a while), it’s that she’s just tired. She doesn’t want to eat. Doesn’t want to take her meds (they’ve dropped all of them but the absolute life-saving ones). And the latest estimate is within the week. My sister’s theory is that after she saw my brother and his daughter at Thanksgiving (the first time since my wedding), Mum was ready to let go.

So at some point soon I’ll be traveling down there. TYG and I are figuring out the details (doggy boarding options, is it feasible to go before she passes?) and some time soon I’ll be off (TYG too).

At the moment this mostly feels like when TYG has a serious health problem, an odd, unpleasant, but very recognizable (to me, anyway, as I’m the one experiencing it) discomfort that makes it next to impossible to focus on work. I got my Screen Rant in (film actors who flopped on TV but not much else done once I got the news. A little bit of work on No-One Can Slay Her. Some revisions to my Applied Science short story collection.

Plus I spent Wednesday cleaning house (writer’s group Christmas party this weekend — and yes, it’s still on) and Thursday dealing with a structural inspector. Good news on that front at least: the house has some physical problems but we’re not at risk for it collapsing under us. That’s a great relief (fixing a major foundation crisis is high priced stuff).

And my short story End of the World on the Cutting Room Floor will be out next week. That’s very good news.

Mum’s imminent death outweighs everything else though. Though it doesn’t stop the selfish personal thought about how this will affect my schedule or my plans and how inconvenient it is. I believe that’s fairly normal. We’ll see what happens when I’m actually there and dealing with the death.

As I write posts in advance, things should continue as normal on this blog. Expect future personal updates sooner or later. Probably sooner.

At least if she’s going to go, it appears it’s by choice. That’s a good thing, maybe?

Below, Mum and her partner from a happier period.

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Filed under Brain From Outer Space, Personal, Screen Rant, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort

Justice League Darkest: 16 Times the Justice League turned Evil (#SFWApro)

My new Screen Rant just came out this morning, dealing with a few of the many, many times the Justice League went to the dark side. Bodyswapped. Possessed. Evil parallel-world counterparts. Bad decisions. Nightmares. There’s a wide variety here.

There’s Brain Storm’s scheme to turn them all into evil duplicates of each other (Mike Sekowsky art)

Or the time Steve Englehart used Marvel’s Squadron Supreme to criticize the JLA’s politics (George Perez art)

And of course, there are all the times the League’s been stuck with mind-controlling starfish on their faces (Rich Buckler did this one)

All rights to images remain with current holders.

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Filed under Comics, Screen Rant

Is Knowing the Problem Really the First Step to a Solution? (#SFWApro)

If so, this was a good week for Southern Discomfort. Not a great week. I’m up to 69,000 words and I’d hoped to be a little further. But as I expected, the two days off this week put the kibosh on that idea. But sitting and planning I finally figured out why the ending of the last draft didn’t click.

Trying to figure out how the last 15,000 or so words should go, I took a look at Lester Dent’s standard outline to see if that gave me any ideas. Two things jumped out at me. One, that “Action must do more than advance the hero over the scenery.” The other, that in the last quarter, “Difficulties increase.
The hero is almost buried in his trouble.”

Not that Dent’s advice is any kind of rule (as I say at the link, his outline is useful if it helps you write better stories, nothing more), but I think those lines capture my problem. Most of my cast are just advancing over the scenery, running through Pharisee or the Hither Country to reach the bad guy. I need more. Things are already bad (Maria facing life in prison or death at Gwalchmai’s hands, the town being sucked into Faerie, Joan Gwalchmai’s captive) but they need to build, if only by having some deadline that’s steadily approaching … Hopefully while I take this time off, my subconscious will work on that.

I didn’t get a Screen Rant done this week: I proposed an outline of items, but it hasn’t been approved (no surprise, I imagine everyone’s scurrying around Thanksgiving). And while I submitted a half-dozen articles for the new Leaf project, none of them have been approved (again, no surprise).

Thursday we had a blast attending Café Parizade’s vegan Thanksgiving event. It’s amazing food, all vegan: shepherd’s pie, garlic mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, apple-pecan stuffing, chocolate pudding, ginger cookies, mac and cheese, chocolate cupcakes, seitan … normally I overeat to the point of discomfort but this year I actually controlled myself. I ate, yes, but I took small enough portions of everything I wanted that I didn’t absolutely have to try anything else after I was stuffed. Regrettably the way the invitations are structured we don’t really get to hang with our other friends there (we did stop by tables on our way out though) but it’s still an awesome meal, very reasonably priced for the quality and quantity.

Today I did what I could to catch up on some of the little stuff I’ve been neglecting: cleaning, bills paying, and various minor tasks that haven’t been getting done lately. It was worth not getting any writing done to take a few of them off the to-do list.

To close out, here’s a post of the black-bottom praline pie I took to a potluck last weekend. Chocolatey bottom, sugary pecan top. After I made pralines for TYG for our anniversary, I went looking for a better recipe (the one I got off the Internet didn’t quite satisfy me) and found several other tempting choices.

As you can see, there wasn’t much left.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Screen Rant, Southern Discomfort, Story Problems, Time management and goals

Screen Rant: 15 Things You Need to Know About Apokolips (#SFWApro)

My latest article is now live. I think the biggest takeaway is that Jack Kirby’s Apokolips was shaped by the idea the struggle wasn’t Good vs. Evil but Free Will vs. Mindless Obedience (aka Life vs. Anti-Life). Something that’s missing from the New 52’s version (and admittedly lots of other attempts by other writers to tackle Kirby’s New Gods).

I’ll be posting about the Fourth World mythos soon, as writing the article gave me an excellent excuse to reread the old Bronze Age books. But for now, just go read my list, okay?

Images by Kirby, all rights remain with current holder.


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Filed under Comics, Screen Rant

Sometimes the good guys lose (#SFWApro)

Okay, one week of poor productivity isn’t comparable to being gunned down by Hydra agents, but it did give me an excuse to use this cool Jack Kirby cover (all rights remain with current holder).

Mostly it was a few more the thousand cuts I mentioned last week. Monday I went in for the MRA (like an MRA for artery) to check my small aneurysm hadn’t grown. Raleigh Radiology were awesome, getting me in and out lickety-split, but the drive was long, and that used up most of my morning before time for walkies.

This morning we had to get Trixie to the vet a little after 7am because some of her teeth are a mess so she’s getting a deep cleaning. I feel slightly nervous about having to put her under anesthetic for this so when I got up I spent most of the early morning snuggling and petting her (my body definitely feels stiff from my failure to stretch out, though).

We also have to add AdBlue to our diesel engine every so often (it helps keep down emissions — though given it’s a Volkswagen, that seems almost ironic)) and according to the Warning! on the dashboard the car will shut down if we don’t. While we have time (the amount we drive is small enough 400 miles isn’t a tight deadline) the constant Warning! didn’t turn off so I decided to take it in this morning, after dropping Trixie at the vet. That took a little more time, then I had a quick bit of shopping … so again, a lot of the morning got eaten up. In hindsight I rather wish I’d taken even more and donated blood — enough time has elapsed since my last donation I’m eligible again — but I wasn’t sure when TYG would absolutely have to have the car.

Since then we picked up Trixie, who is completely sacked out. At this point I’m pretty sure nothing but blogging will get done today. I’ll come up about a day short for writing hours this week.

So not much accomplished. My next Screen Rant is done (15 Things You Need to Know About Apokolips, to tie in with the Justice League movie), and I got some work done on Southern Discomfort, but that’s about it. And the latter didn’t go at all well this week. I had a tricky key moment in the plot and I while I eventually figured out how to progress, it took time. More generally my brain just didn’t seem to be plugged in. Oh, well, as I’ve mentioned before, sooner or later returning to the mean is inevitable.

It feels more frustrating though, because with Thanksgiving ahead, I’ll lose part of the next work week. Plus I’m once again doing some online articles for Leaf, which pay well but cut into the time for other writing (I was planning to do some today, but I don’t think I’ll make it). So Southern Discomfort, not to mention short stories such as Angels Hate This Man or Oh the Places You’ll Go! will get shorter shrift.

While I had been planning to take the day after Thanksgiving off, perhaps I’ll use it to catch up on fiction. But Trixie’s fine, and that’s the most important thing.

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Filed under Personal, Screen Rant, Southern Discomfort, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals

I survived the death of a thousand cuts! (#SFWApro)

Events whittled away at my time this week, but it was productive just the same.

The first cut was Monday morning having to drive about half an hour to a local clinic for a preliminary interview. A few years ago I learned I had a too-small-to-operate aneurysm, and it’s overdue to be checked up on — the possibility it’s expanded is unsettling enough I’ve been lax in following up, then the insurance company kicked up a fuss. So the clinic visit was part of the insurance approval process, though it seemed like everything could be handled over the phone. The drive actually took longer than the session — I will give Duke neurology credit for doing everything smooth and efficiently.

Tuesday and Wednesday I was bogged down by the time change, the seeming greater darkness, and an overcast, drizzly sky on top of that. It all got inside my head and distracted me — plus I kept reading up on all the good election news from Tuesday. Nice to be distracted by good political news for a change.

And then this morning … TYG had to stay up late last night, which led to me going to bed late. Then about 3AM, Plushie puked up this new treat we’d gotten him (it was very large, apparently too large for his digestion) and TYG cleaning that up (even though she’d crawled into bed in the spare room to avoid waking me) woke me up. I wound up going downstairs with the pups (Plush was fine post-pukies) and working on the couch, shuffling my morning schedule because if I tried exercising or stretching out I’d have dogs on me (“It’s human body language for ‘play with me!’ We’d love to!”). And I wound up walking them because while I knew TYG would do it, she needed a little extra sleep. Then we took them in to the groomer, which gave me three hours to work solo and get my exercise done. Except the groomer had a cancellation so I got less than planned, plus I had to take a nap … so anyway, less productive than I’d planned.

Still, I got quite a bit done:

•Submitted several ideas for Screen Rant columns, none of which made the cut.

•Confirmed that an article I submitted to History Magazine earlier this year on tractors will be coming out in a couple of months.

•Submitted Fiddler’s Black to Fireside Magazine.

Atlas Shagged is now live on Kindle as well as the other outlets. I hope to have Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast up soon but like the paperback of Atlas Shagged there are cover issues I have to fix.

•Got up to 62,000 words on Southern Discomfort. So far all proceeding more or less smoothly, though I’m approaching the point at which it all spiraled into chaos last draft. Positive thoughts welcome.

•Finished another draft of No-One Can Slay Her and read it for the writers’ group Tuesday. It got good reactions all round, which satisfied me I’m on the right track. Some of the group did think the opening scene with Jennifer and her aunt was wasted space; I shall give that some thought (I have reason to want it there, and I think I can make it worse).

•I reread the Undead Sexist Cliches manuscript and started the next draft. Like Southern Discomfort, I want this to be the last draft before hard copy review, so I’m taking my time and resolving any problems, like topics I bring up in multiple different chapters. I got through Chapter One and Two today, despite the craziness.

So a good week, even if I do feel dead to the world.

Atom cover by Gil Kane, all rights to image remain with current holder. Photo of Plush Dog below by me, all rights mine. Please credit me if you use it.

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Filed under Atlas Shagged, Nonfiction, Screen Rant, Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Writing