Enter the Lily (#SFWApro)

So once again we dog-sat for Trixie’s best friend Lily while her owners were away. Which meant lots of madcap dog-ninja grappling, some really tricky walkies (how the hell do professional dog-walkers manage so many at once?) and lots of dogs wanting to cuddle with me at once. So not a lot of work accomplished (I’ll discuss that in this afternoon’s post). And not a lot of sleep, either. I’m not sure what we’re doing differently, but fitting Lily onto the bed proved a very difficult endeavor. And sometime early Thursday morning she wound up waking me up with the “please can I climb up and cuddle with you?” look (no, unfortunately — TYG was sleeping so far on my side there was no space for a dog). Still, it’s cute having Lily over, and I know she enjoys it more than staying at a kennel. So we’re cool.

(A clash of titans! Very small titans).

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Book covers I like, including some fake ones (#SFWApro)

Carrie Fisher’s passing prompted Timothy Anderson to capture the original trilogy as old-school paperbacks:

Then we have What If Salvador Dali Did A Cover For Keith Laumer?

I like this one. No relation to Alas Babylon.

A mystery novel.

One by Powers, more realistic than his usual work.

His usual work.

All rights remain with current copyright holders. If I didn’t name the artist, it’s uncredited.

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A spinster, a drunkard and an African Queen (#SFWApro)

While staying at Cindy’s house during my trip, she and I rewatched the 1951 classic THE AFRICAN QUEEN. It’s a great film but it’s also a great example of an unconventional romance and a very well done “strong female protagonist.” (All rights to image remain with current holder. Source here)

As the movie opens it’s 1914 and the Great War has just broken out. Katherine Hepburn plays Rose, a spinster working in her brother’s (Robert Morley) African mission to convert the natives. Seeing them as an unwanted English intrusion, the Germans show up and torch the place. Morley collapses in shock and dies. Rose might have died too but she’s dragged away by Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart), a gin-swilling engineer who skippers the African Queen, a mail boat traversing the local rivers. He figures on getting Rose to safety; she over-rules him. Rose insists on heading down river to find the German steamer that dominates the local waters and use some explosives on the Queen to blow it to hell and back. Over the course of the film, Charlie and Rose (surprise!) fall in love.

It’s a remarkable film, not least because more than 75 percent of the time the two stars are the only ones on screen. While finding someone obnoxious and irritating is a classic romance trope, both Bogart and Hepburn are restrained, only occasionally losing their temper. Instead, Charlie cajoles and suggests; Rose issues decrees in the way of strong-minded British spinsters, at least in fiction. Her sheer force of will begins to impress Charlie, as does her excitement when they go over the first in multiple rapids (“I see, Mr. Allnut, why you enjoy boating so much.”). Everything is underplayed, but no less effective for that.

From a writing perspective, Rose’s character is really interesting. Her kind of spinster is a stock type, but Hepburn infuses her with tremendous energy and character. When they make it through the rapids, it’s possibly the first time Rose has ever done anything risky or exciting in her life, and she comes alive. When she falls for Charlie, she doesn’t hold back or make prudish protests, she follows her heart. When the going gets tough, she’s willing to hack at the water weeds or help repair the boat, getting as dirty as she has to. Charlie never argues that it’s not a woman’s place, or tells her she can’t do it. Rose transcends the gender norms, but without any Holy Shit, She’s Transcending Gender Norms—she just does it. And she’d probably insist there’s no big deal, she’s just doing what has to be done.

I’m not sure it would have worked as well with anyone but Hepburn in the role, but she was, and it does.

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New Screen Rant column out: 16 Facts About Jay Garrick (#SFWApro)

I have a new Screen Rant column up about Jay Garrick, the original Flash. Learn how smoking gave him super powers. How he came out of retirement because of an artist’s challenge. Why he ages slower than ordinary people. And more!

Cover by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson, all rights reserved to current holder.

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Far away from home, but close to fun, not so close to sleep (#SFWApro)

So last week I headed down to my former hometown of Fort Walton Beach to catch up with my friends and particularly my parents. Regrettably TYG had to stay at home due to work.

Mum is doing okay, all things considered, which is not the same as “doing okay.” One reason I make sure to come down and hang at least once a year. I visited her every day, except when I was in Pensacola with Dad. She finds it tougher to communicate than she used to, but she does know who I am, that I’m there, etc., so it’s worth going. I do wish I could understand her better.

Dad is still living on his home, and he’s going to be 89 this year. I’m hopeful that’s a good sign for me. I spent Wednesday night with him, and went to dinner with some of his friends.

Like last year, I stayed with my sister and our mutual best friend Cindy. Whose forty pound chow-mix Meggie Sue is absolutely adorable and sweet. Here she graciously allows me to rub her belly.

Here she shows off her toy. It’s not an invitation to play with the toy, just to admire it.

The view from Cindy’s back yard is pretty cool, too. And of course staying there means I get to hang with Tracy and Cindy (and accompany Cindy on Meggie’s morning walkies).

And I did manage to hit the beach briefly. I even left before getting sunburned.

Our sand is very white in Okaloosa County.

My beloved drama teacher Jo Yeager has self-published a children’s book, Jimmy’s Journey. I had lunch with Jo, and  I also caught up with multiple different friends, visited my old comic-book store, drove around the neighborhood. And of course, just relaxed: no work, no pups. It’s funny, last year I felt very strongly that the town was no longer my home, but this year it feels much more familiar. Not home, but familiar in a different way. I liked it.

And that is one pretty back yard!

About the one drawback was that I was constantly sleeping on living room couches it was rarely quiet enough to get a full night’s sleep (and after the Eastern-to-Central time change, I’d have been “off” anyway). But it was worth it.

TYG had a slight refrigerator problem while I was away (she got it fixed) and then work on the fridge dislodged a pill that had rolled under there some time back. Fortunately Plushie didn’t care for the taste and spat it out.

It was a great week, and long enough that I heartily missed TYG and the pups when it was time to come home. Hey, who wouldn’t miss this face?

Photos are all mine, please give credit if you use.

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Quoted for Truth

From Lawyers, Guns and Money‘s comments section, though I forget which post: “Republicans’ complete abdication of even any pretense of caring about governance has left Democrats alone to shoulder the full burden, and it’s simply more than they (or any one party) can handle.

They’re expected to be the reformist “we need to do better” party, the skeptic “how are we gonna pay for all this?” party, and the pragmatist “we need to keep the lights on” party, all at the same time. Every new Democratic government has to handle three huge responsibilities all at once: 1) repairing all the damage done to the system by the arsonists who just left, 2) performing all the routine maintenance that the system needs just to keep running (and that the arsonists have of course neglected to do), and 3) anticipate, plan for, and enact all the upgrades and expansions that the system will need in order to keep doing what it’s supposed to do while keeping up with the way the world’s changed.

Even all that might still be manageable if the arsonists were gone, or at least, a negligible minority as they were post-1932. But no, enough people insist on continuing to send them to Washington that all three tasks described above have to be performed while the arsonists continue to riot and throw bricks and Molotov cocktails at the infrastructure you’re trying to fix. It’s simply not possible for one party to handle this much bullshit at once.”

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White achievement, like white grievance, is always legitimate

So while on my trip, I wound up watching an episode of Law and Order that pissed the hell out of me.

The story involves a prominent black reporter who recently interviewed a fugitive from justice. When a man hunting the fugitive turns up dead, the prosecutors and cops crack down and demand the reporter divulge everything he knows about where to find the fugitive. But it turns out that like Jayson Blair at the New York Times the reporter just made up the whole thing — and killed the victim, who knew the fugitive well enough to see through the bullshit.

Alt.blair’s attorney’s bizarre defense? Society is to blame! Alt.Blair got his job because of affirmative action! So because he was unqualified, therefore he had to make shit up to stay employed! And that led to the killing! Don’t people realize that affirmative action just makes every achievement by a black person suspect? Their qualifications are never taken seriously? Hell, affirmative action is racist in itself—we’re telling black people that all that ever matters is the color of their skin!

I realize he’s the defense attorney and therefore biased, but I can’t believe we’re just meant to see it as a Hail Mary play. Because he discusses the flaws of affirmative action a lot, whereas the prosecutor only gets one counter-argument, tossed off and not even mentioned. So I’m inclined to take it as Western Union. And it’s a telegram I disagree with.

First off, while race may have been a factor in the real Jayson Blair’s rise, it was only one factor. He wrote well (according to the link), he delivered seemingly awesome stories — is it that strange he advanced quickly? Stephen Glass at New Republic made stuff up for years too, and he’s white. So why blame alt.Blair completely on race?

For that matter why assume alt.blair’s unqualified, rather than a talented reporter? Even if race was a factor in hiring him, that doesn’t mean he’s unqualified. I’ve been hired multiple times through personal connections; it doesn’t mean I was the stereotypically incompetent nepotism hire. Why does a black man getting into college partly because of race mean he should be judged more suspiciously than a legacy admission — someone who got into college because his parents are alumni?

Simple. He’s black, therefore everything is suspect. Not because of affirmative action, just because he’s black. If it was before affirmative action, he’d be a token hire. If it was before “token hire” was a concept he’d be just “what the hell is that n-word doing here?” People who doubt a black man’s ability would doubt it just as much a hundred years ago. Or simply ignore or deny it or resent it.

A white guy though? Don’t be silly. Nobody’s going to assume a legacy hire or the business owner’s son might be an inbred imbecile who only got ahead on his connections. Back pre-affirmative action, I doubt the defense attorney would have been worrying “Wow, do you suppose my white doctor’s really good? What if he only got into medical school because they refused some women and black people?” Writing about Trump voters, Ta-Nehisi Coates said that white grievance, no matter how absurd, is still taken as legitimate by lots of people. Likewise white achievement (and male achievement — most of this applies to women just as much) is assumed to be legitimate until proven otherwise. The default assumption is that the white man earned what he got.

Is the lawyer or the episode’s writer suggesting that if we just drop affirmative action, then talented black people will get ahead under their own power? Because that ignores that there’s lots and lots of racism left. White people will get ahead because they’re white, even more than they do already.  Nor does the laywer offer a solution — no suggestion that, say, we aggressively punish people who violate the laws on hiring and firing minorities. We should apparently just accept discrimination (as long as it’s not against white people) until that enlightened day when we’re all singing kumbaya.

As solutions (and arguments) go, that one’s less than optimal. So was the episode.

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