The Swords Are Drawn

Jul. 22nd, 2017 10:29 pm
[syndicated profile] grrm_feed

Posted by George R.R. Martin

For all you fans of sword 'n sorcery, and/ or my own 'fake histories,' the new anthology from Gardner Dozois, THE BOOK OF SWORDS, has been scheduled for release on October 10, and is now available for pre-order from Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Book-Swords-Gardner-Dozois/dp/0399593764 and many other online booksellers. I imagine your favorite local bookseller is taking orders too.



This is NOT one I co-edited with Gargy (people keep getting that wrong), so I haven't read any of the other stories yet, but it looks to have a helluva lineup, with originals by Lavie Tidhar, Daniel Abraham, Scott Lynch, C.J. Cherryh, Robin Hobb, Ken Liu, Cecelia Holland, Walter Jon Williams, and many more. And of course it also includes "Sons of the Dragon," a chronicle of the reigns of Aegon the Conquerer's two sons, Aenys I Targaryen and Maegor the Cruel, for those who cannot get enough of my entirely fake histories of Westeros. That one has never been published before in any form, though I did read it at a couple of cons.

Speaking of fake history... regulars here may recall our plan to assemble an entire book of my fake histories of the Targaryen kings, a volume we called (in jest) the GRRMarillion or (more seriously) FIRE AND BLOOD. We have so much material that it's been decided to publish the book in two volumes. The first of those will cover the history of Westeros from Aegon's Conquest up to and through the regency of the boy king Aegon III (the Dragonbane). That one is largely written, and will include (for the first time) a complete detailed history of the Targaryen civil war, the Dance of the Dragons. My stories in DANGEROUS WOMEN ("The Princess and the Queen") and ROGUES ("The Rogue Prince") were abridged versions of the same histories.

No publication date has been set yet, but it's likely that we will get the first volume of FIRE AND BLOOD out in late 2018 or early 2019. The second volume, which will carry the history from Aegon III up to Robert's Rebellion, is largely unwritten, so that one will be a few more years in coming.

And, yes, I know you all want to know about THE WINDS OF WINTER too. I've seen some truly weird reports about WOW on the internet of late, by 'journalists' who make their stories up out of whole cloth. I don't know which story is more absurd, the one that says the book is finished and I've been sitting on it for some nefarious reason, or the one that says I have no pages. Both 'reports' are equally false and equally moronic. I am still working on it, I am still months away (how many? good question), I still have good days and bad days, and that's all I care to say. Whether WINDS or the first volume of FIRE AND BLOOD will be the first to hit the bookstores is hard to say at this juncture, but I do think you will have a Westeros book from me in 2018... and who knows, maybe two. A boy can dream...

Meanwhile, you'll have Gardner's anthology to fill the time. Keep your swords sharp!
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

As part of my continuing effort to justify the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription I have, I’ve been playing with my Audition audio software and learning how to use it. Today I learned how to make a multitrack file! Go me. I also played with the various filters in the software to distort and shape sounds.

All of which is to say I recorded a song today and it is very very noisy indeed. It’s “Here Comes the Rain Again,” which is my favorite song from the Eurythmics. Here it is (and no, it’s not actually nine minutes long, I don’t know why the media player says that. It’s, like, five):

Yes, that’s me singing. No, Annie Lennox doesn’t have a thing to worry about.

In case you’re curious, every noise on that track either comes out of me, or out of an acoustic tenor guitar. Audio filters are fun! Let’s just say I let my Thurston out to play, and if you get that reference, congratulations, you’re old too.

No, I’m not giving up my day job. Relax. But I do enjoy playing with sounds. This is fun for me.

In any event: Enjoy the noise.


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Posted by Bryan Lambert

Three in one, just like this post!
I'm massively behind on Season 2 of Preacher, but I have finally gotten the first three episodes knocked off. The good news is that after delivering a proof-of-concept prequel in Season 1, they're hewing much closer to the pace and tone of the comic in Season 2. The bad news is sorta the same.


The first three episodes seem to be establishing a remixed status quo, taking elements and characters from the comic

"On The Road" establishes that they're looking for Got and being chased by the Saint of Killers. That's pretty much it. I mean, there's a lot of character re-establishment and action and such, and a lead in the search for God, but that' the gist of it.

"Mumbai Sky Tower" is spent largely on a side trip to try to get the angel Fiore to call off the Saint of Killers, and also establishes that the Saint is following Jesse by tracking him using the Voice, which sets up a good check on Jesse's nigh-omnipotent superpower apart from ethical considerations and some of the hoops the comics jumped through with gags and such. The end of the episode points them at New Orleans.

"Damsels" brings in New Orleans (earlier than in the comics) and The Grail (earlier than in the comics), and also makes Tulip's dangerous, mysterious past part of the forefront. This last bit, with Tulip and Victor, is new, and not from the comics.

So, having gotten the plot out of the way, how is it? Well, first, it's gross. There was a fair amount of gore in the first season, but it seems like every single episode this season has one to two exceptionally gory set pieces in it, from the Saint of Killers' first attack on police, to a graphic, repeated recreation of the attempted suicides of Eugene and Tracy, to the specific nature of Fiore's magic act in Vegas. Some of these seem necessary, and some of these seem purely gratuitous. This is very much in line with the comics, to be honest, but for a few of these, I wish they'd either pull back, or go farther into absurdism. They're hitting the opposite of a "sweet spot" too often.

The other thing this season is a bit more dead-on casting and costuming to recreate characters from the comics. Especially Starr, Featherstone, and Hoover, who, at least by Episode 3, go a bit farther than the "man that looks like" of Jesse and Cassidy from Season 1 into a "man they're really trying to make that look like" feel.

Writing is still sharp, acting is still spot on. I'm not a huge fan of how scared and freaked out Tulip is in these first three episodes, but I have to assume that's temporary. The overall quality seems a bit more... erratic so far, with Mumbai Sky Tower being damn near perfect, but On The Road and Damsels seeming both rushed and spending too much screen time on pointless bits like the "looking for God" gag in Episode 3. In its attempt to hit the breakneck pace of the comics, it seems to be stepping on its own shoelaces sometimes.

PREDICTIONS: Battleground 2017

Jul. 22nd, 2017 12:38 pm
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Posted by Bryan Lambert


Battleground! Another PPV! Pretend to give a shit!


Aiden English vs. Tye Dillinger (Pre-Show, I Presume)

There's absolutely no reason Tye Dillinger shouldn't win this. I could look up Main Event or Superstars to see if maybe they've been feuding on the lesser shows, but that's too much work. Dillinger wins.

Sami Zayn vs. Mike Kanellis (Pre-Show, I Presume)

This is surprisingly tough to call, because I don't know if Zayn and Kanellis are in a program, or just killing time together. If the former, Kanellis will win again establishing his modus operandi and building heat. If the latter, Zayn will win to get revenge. So I'll say Kanellis and be wrong.

The Usos vs. The New Day (Tag Team Championships)

The Usos stood tall on Smackdown this week, had their cheat-to-retain at the last PPV, and all of that makes a strong case for a title change. However, with Summerslam around the corner, and no tag division feud to build effectively between now and then, I think we hold off for a bit and have the title change at the big show. Usos retain somehow.

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin

This is tough, because who do you have lose here? Mr. Money In The Bank or the dominant Nakamura? I think Nakamura has to win this, but I don't know if WWE agrees with me. Let's say Nakamura. What the hell. My numbers for the last two PPV's were great, so I can botch this one, right?

Charlotte Flair vs. Lana vs. Tamina vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya (Women's Championship No. 1 Contender; Elimination)

I don't like t hie way this is shaping up, but it has to be Charlotte, right? She hasn't really had a clear, unambiguous shot at the belt since she came to Smackdown, and even as a face, she's a stronger heel opponent for Naomi than Tamina, Lana, or Natalya are. It's weird to say this so soon after the Shakeup, but the SD women's division needs a shakeup. Charlotte wins.

John Cena vs. Rusev (Flag Match)

Cena. Duh. He passed out in the Accolade on Tuesday. Of course he's winning a Flag Match.

AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens (United States Championship)

Styles won the belt off the TV, so if they're going to cement him as champ, and I'm pretty sure they are, he needs to win in front of the world. Styles retains. I feel bad for Owens, though.

Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton (WWE Championship, Punjabi Prison)

Fuck Randy Orton. I will always lose a prediction rather than pick him to win anything. But I don't think I'm wrong here. Also, the match will suuuuuuuck.
[syndicated profile] oldnerd_feed

Posted by Bryan Lambert

Fun fact: GLOW also had "Dare" and "Wolf" in it.
Round 2 continues, with a surprise that messes with my predictions but makes me happy.


That prediction involves Cage. I had Cage beating pIndar, going to the finals, beating Fenix, and losing to Puma in the final 4. I didn't count on Cage no longer being able or willing to remove the Dead God Gauntlet, beating the shit out of the referee, and losing to Pindar by DQ. That means Feni beats Pindar to go to the final four and face Prince Puma, who I still think wins that matchup. Pindare winnig doesn't make me happy, Cage out of the tourney doesn't make me happy, but progression in the Gauntlet Story counteracts all of that.

Puma beat PJ Black in a shockingly competitive and intense main event. It never quite got me to the point where I thought Black might win, but not for lack of trying. Easily the biggest showcase for Black since he came to Lucha Undergound, and I wonder where he might go now that RIcky Mandel is the comedy relief of the Underground.

In between we had Son of Havoc vs. Dante Fox, two guys I didn't have going this far at all, and Dante Fox continued my Group D carnage by beating Havoc. Havoc was handicapped by a chain shot to the head after a pre-match attack by Son of Madness, and still fought valiantly in the loss, and will presumably go on to feud with SoM going forward. Which means Fox is the one who gets to lose to Puma. Should be a great match.

In vignette news, the Worldwide Underground have a new agent, a sort of basic cable comedy version of Paul Heyman. He gets Black a match against Mysterio for next week, which is nice, because that means the two remaining second round matches don't have to fill the show. Oh, and Puma and Vampiro had a rooftop conversation about winning the championship to quiet the voices in Puma's head from coming back from the underworld.

NXT (7/19)

Jul. 22nd, 2017 11:56 am
[syndicated profile] oldnerd_feed

Posted by Bryan Lambert

And punch punch punch...
The first half hour of this week's NXT featured some of the best wrestling WWE's had in months. Then it went downhill.


The opener, between Ruby Riot and Ember Moon, I don't think was strictly for the A#1 contendership, but that was certainly the story behind why they were wrestling each other. They both thought they deserved a shot at Asuka, they fought over it. They fought over it intensely and crisply and well, and of course Ember Moon won, as she should have at this point, but the match felt like everyone cared.

I don't know why Oney Lorcan and Danny Birch were fighting, but they sure seemed to. This match was stiff as fuck. This match was stiff to a degree that made me slightly uncomfortable with enjoying it as much as I did. That probably hurt, and not just Birch's bloody nose. I can't imagine how that match could have happened in a way that was safe and healthy. But goddamn, was it fun to watch. So I'm going to pretend they're just really good at throwing offense and not actually beating the shit out of each other, because they're going to wrestle again.

No Way Jose and Almas with his new valet are feuding again, yay?

Drew Mcintyre defeated Killian Dane to become the #1 Contender for the NXT Title. McINtyre is boring and I hope he loses to Bobby Roode. Dane is, and I hate to say this, but completely fucking repulsive. The combination of body hair, weight distribution, stringy greasy hair all over the place, and that weird black shredded diaperkilt he wears is deeply unpleasant to look at, and not in a way that fosters or furthers his character. It's barely tolerable in the context of Sanity, but as a singles wrestler, no. No. No. Do something.

Blacklight Sunset

Jul. 22nd, 2017 12:44 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Because sometimes it’s fun to play with Photoshop’s sliders and see what you come up with. This is what happens (in part) when you push the “dehaze” slider all the way to the right. The real sunset didn’t look like this (it looked like this), but I think it might be cool to live on a planet where the sunset did look like that, every once in a while.

Enjoy the weekend, folks.


Talking Over Thai

Jul. 22nd, 2017 12:09 am
[syndicated profile] grrm_feed

Posted by George R.R. Martin

So a couple of months ago, while I was out at Stokercon in Long Beach, on the mighty Queen Mary, I went out with Scott Edelman for Thai food (yum), and he recorded our conversation for his EATING THE FANTASTIC podcast.

The food was great, and the talk was fun. You can check it out at:

http://www.scottedelman.com/2017/07/21/down-drunken-noodles-with-george-r-r-martin-in-episode-43-of-eating-the-fantastic/

Scott and I both emerged from comics fandom of the 60s, so be forewarned, there's a lot of talk about the Good Old Days.

New Books and ARCs, 7/21/17

Jul. 21st, 2017 08:53 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

As we ease on into another summer weekend, here are the new books and ARCs that have come to the Scalzi Compound this week. What do you like here? Share your feelings in the comments!


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Posted by John Scalzi

Here’s Sugar curling up with a good book, in this case the ARC of Don’t Live For Your Obituary, my upcoming collection of essays about writing and the writing life, which comes out in December from Subterranean Press. And you can win it! Here’s how:

Tell me in the comments which Beatles song I am thinking of right now.

That’s it!

The person who correctly guesses which Beatles song I am thinking of wins. In the case where more than one person correctly guesses, I will number the correct guesses in order of appearance and then use a random number generator to select the winner among them.

“Beatles song” in this case means a song recorded by the Beatles, and includes both original songs by the band, and the cover songs they recorded. Solo work does not count. Here’s a list of songs recorded by the Beatles, if you need it. The song I’m thinking of is on it.

Guess only one song. Posts with more than one guess will have only the first song considered. Posts not related to guessing a song will be deleted. Also, only one post per person — additional posts will be deleted.

This contest is open to everyone everywhere in the world, and runs until the comments here automatically shut off (which will be around 3:50pm Eastern time, Sunday, July 23rd). When you post a comment, leave a legit email address in the “email” field so I can contact you. I’ll also announce the winner here on Monday, July 24. I’ll mail the ARC to you, signed (and personalized, if so requested).

Kitten not included.

Also remember you can pre-order the hardcover edition of Obit from Subterranean Press. This is a signed, limited edition — there are only 1,000 being made — and they’ve already had a healthy number of pre-orders. So don’t wait if you want one.

Now: Guess which Beatles song I am thinking of! And good luck!


Wild Cards and Werewolves

Jul. 21st, 2017 06:36 pm
[syndicated profile] grrm_feed

Posted by George R.R. Martin

Another new post just up on the Wild Cards blog.

This time our blogger is David Anthony Durham, and his subjects are Spartacus... and werewolves.

Ahoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

http://www.wildcardsworld.com/on-the-trials-and-tribulations-of-werewolves/

Agent to the Stars, 20 Years On

Jul. 21st, 2017 06:10 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

So, on July 21, 1997, which was a Monday, I posted the following on the alt.society.generation-x newsgroup:

Thought y’all might like to know. I’m happy, pleased, tired.

96,098 words, cranked out in a little under three months, working
mostly on weekends, grinding out 5,000 words at a sitting.

Learned two things:

a) I *can* carry a story over such a long stretch;

b) like most things on the planet, thinking about doing it is a lot
worse than simply sitting down and doing it. The writing wasn’t hard
to do, you just need to plant ass in seat and go from there.

I did find it helped not to make my first novel a gut-wrenching
personal story, if you know what I mean. Instead I just tried to write
the sort of science fiction story I would like to read. It was fun.

Now I go in to tinker and fine tune. Will soon have it ready for beta
testing. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

That novel? Agent to the Stars. Which means that today is the 20th anniversary of me being a novelist. Being a published novelist would have to wait — I date that to January 1, 2005, the official publication date of Old Man’s War — but in terms of having written a full, complete (and as it eventually turned out, publishable) novel: Today’s the day.

I’ve recounted the story of Agent before but it’s fun to tell, because I think it’s a nice antidote to the “I just had to share the story I’d been dreaming of my whole life” angle first novels often take. The gist of the story was that my 10-year high school reunion was on the horizon, and having been “the writer dude” in my class, I knew I would be asked if I had ever gotten around to writing a novel, and I wanted to be able to say “yes.” Also, I was then in my late 20s and it was time to find out whether I could actually write one or not.

Having decided I was going to write one, I decided to make it easy for myself, mostly by not trying to do all things at once. The goal was simply: Write a novel-length story. The story itself was going to be pretty simple and not personally consequential; it wasn’t going to be a thinly-disguised roman a clef, or something with a serious and/or personal theme. It would involve Hollywood in some way, because I had spent years as a film critic and knew that world well enough to write about it. And as for genre, I was most familiar with mystery/crime fiction and science fiction/fantasy, so I flipped a coin to decide which to do. It come up heads, so science fiction it was, and the story I had for that was: Aliens come and decide to get Hollywood representation.

(I don’t remember the story I was thinking for the mystery version. I’m sure death was involved. And for those about to say “well, you didn’t have to stick with science fiction for your second book,” that’s technically correct, but once I’d written one science fiction novel, I knew I could write science fiction. It was easier to stick with what I knew. And anyway I write murder mysteries now — Lock In and the upcoming Head On. They also happen to be science fiction.)

I remember the writing of Agent being pretty easy, in no small part, I’m sure, because of everything noted above — it wasn’t meant to be weighty or serious or even good, merely novel-length. When I finished it, I do remember thinking something along the lines of “Huh. That wasn’t so bad. Maybe I should have done this earlier.” In the fullness of time, I’ve realized that I probably couldn’t have done it any earlier, I wasn’t focused enough and it helped me to have some sort of external motivation, in this case, my high school reunion.

Once finished, I asked two friends and co-workers at America Online to read the book: Regan Avery and Stephen Bennett, both of whom I knew loved science fiction, and both of whom I knew I could trust to tell me if what I’d written was crap. They both gave it a thumbs up. Then I showed it to Krissy, my wife, who was apprehensive about reading it, since if she hated it she would have to tell me, and would still have to be married to me afterward. When she finished it, the first thing she said to me about it was “Thank Christ it’s good.” Domestic felicity lived for another day.

And then, having written it… I did nothing with it for two years. Because, again, it wasn’t written for any other reason than to see if I could write a novel. It was practice. People other than Regan and Stephen and Krissy finally saw it in 1999 when I decided that the then brand-new Scalzi.com site could use some content, so I put it up here as a “shareware” novel, meaning that if people liked it they could send me a dollar for it through the mail. And people did! Which was nice.

It was finally physically published in 2005, when Bill Schafer of Subterranean Press published a limited hardcover edition. I was jazzed about that, since I wanted a version of the book I could put on my shelf. The cover was done by Penny Arcade’s Mike Krahulik, who among other things knew of the book because I was one of Penny Arcade’s very first advertisers way back in the day, advertising the Web version of the book (those guys have done okay since then). Then came the Tor paperback edition, and the various foreign editions, and the audiobook, and here we are today.

When I wrote the novel, of course, I had no idea that writing it was the first step toward where I am now. I was working at America Online — and enjoying it! It was a cool place to be in the 90s! — and to the extent I thought I would be writing novels at all, I thought that they would be sideline to my overall writing career, rather than (as it turned out) the main thrust of it. This should be your first indication that science fiction writers in fact cannot predict the future with any accuracy.

I’m very fond of Agent, and think it reads pretty well. I’m also aware that it’s first effort, and also because it was written to be in present time in the 90s, just about out of time in terms of feeling at all contemporary (there are fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors remaining, to pick just one obvious example in the book). At this point I suggest people consider it as part of an alternate history which branched off from our timeline in 1998 or thereabouts. Occasionally it gets talked about for being picked for TV/film. If that ever happens, expect some extensive plot revisions. Otherwise, it is what it is.

One thing I do like about Agent is that I still have people tell me that it’s their favorite of mine. I like that because I think it’s nice to know that even this very early effort, done simply for the purpose of finding out if I could write a novel, does what I think a novel should: Entertains people and makes them glad they spent their time with it.

I’m also happy it’s the novel that told me I could do this thing, this novel-writing thing, and that I listened to it. The last couple of decades have turned out pretty well for me. I’m excited to see where things go from here.


Fukushita

Jul. 21st, 2017 04:00 am
[syndicated profile] youaredumd_feed

Posted by Bryan Lambert

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Memo to Donald Trump, Steve King, and Tucker Carlson: YOU ARE DUMB.

Still so much going on, so much backlog, and so little time to cover everything. So let's continue with FREESTYLE TOPIC MONKEY EVERYDAY!

Donald Trump's interview with the New York Times tells us many things, but the most important thing it tells us is that "dumpster fire" metaphor for the Trump presidency is played out and wildly inadequate. So I'm officially coining Fukushita, which is basically like a nuclear reactor melting down, except instead of unranium and plutonium, the nuclear reactor runs entirely on shit. That's where we're at right now.

The only surprising thing about it, because it was a non-stop spray of garbage from a man made entirely of garbage, is that absolutely nobody either can, or wants to, stop him, from going out to these things and just being a dumb, dumb, vindictive, dumb, self-incriminating, stupid motherfucker. I mean, how difficult is it to trick him into putting a remote-controlled shock collar around his balls? How difficult could it be to trick him into doing anything?


While it's good that, with things like the healh care bill, public pressure is managing to prevent the Trump administration from doing large-scale harm to a vast swath of Americans, never lose sight of the fact that on a smaller scale, they're doing as much harm as they can. For example, the recent pushback against allowing transgender soldiers in the military.

They've delayed the implementation, they're trying to stop it outright, and morons like America's Stupidest Congresscritter, Steve King, are going around comparing voluntary transgender soldiers to the eunuch slaves of the Ottoman Empire. He called castration "gender reassignment surgery" because he's a fucking moron and said that people would join the military just to get the surgery. Which, you know, has a simple solution - single-payer healthcare. Honestly, the only drawback to a single-payer system is all the regressive assholes like Steve King who are going to argue that certain procedures they don't like shouldn't be part of the coverage.


I'd like to thank Tucker Carlson for creating an exciting new low in the history of modern American xenophobia. Or possibly a new high point, if you see it as a sign of weird, panicky desperation by reactionary assholes flailing around wildly for "others" they can demonize with impunity.

Because Carlson recently did an entire segment scaring his viewers with the idea of unassimilated Romani in Pennsylvania, pooping on things. Yes, Fox News has taken a stand against filthy "Gypsies", a word they used with abandon, presumably so a week or two from now they can get all mad about the PC Police saying you can't call people "Gypsies" any more. It'd be infuriating if it weren't so hilariously pathetic. Well, OK, it's still infuriating.

making space to be creative

Jul. 20th, 2017 11:32 pm
[syndicated profile] wwdn_feed

Posted by Wil

One week and about ten hours ago, I decided to step away from Twitter for a little bit. The specific details aren’t important, and I suspect that many of you reading this now are already nodding in agreement because you grok why. But I took it off my phone, and I haven’t been to the website on my desktop since. For the first 48 hours, I spent a lot of time wondering if I was making a choice that mattered, and thinking about how I wasn’t habitually looking at Twitter every few minutes to see if I’d missed anything funny, or to see the latest bullshit spewing forth from President Fuckface’s mouthanus. I was, ironically, spending more time thinking about Twitter since I wasn’t using it than I spent thinking about it when I was.

It started out as a 24 hour break, then it was a 48 hour break, then it was the weekend, and here we are one week later and I don’t feel like I’m missing anything important. I feel like I’ve given myself more time to be quiet and alone, more time to reflect on things, and I’ve created space in my life to let my mind wander and get creative.

I’m not creating as much as I want to, and I’m starting to feel like maybe I’ll never be able to create as much as I want to, but I’ve gotten some stuff done this week that probably wouldn’t have gotten done if Twitter had been filling up the space that I needed.

Here’s a little bit from my blog post that became a short story that grew into a novella that is now a novel, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything:

My mother was leaning against her car, talking with one of the other moms, when we arrived. My sister was throwing a Strawberry Shortcake doll into the air and catching it while they watched. I walked out of the bus and across the blazing hot blacktop to meet her.

Willow, catch!” My sister cried, sending Strawberry Shortcake in a low arc toward me. I caught her without enthusiasm and handed her back. “You’re supposed to throw her to me!” Amanda said, demonstrating. Her doll floated in a lazy circle, arms and legs pinwheeling, before falling back down into my sister’s waiting arms. The writer in me wants to make a clever reference to how I was feeling at that moment, about how I could relate to Strawberry Fucking Shortcake, spinning out of control in the air above us, but it feels hacky, so I’ll just talk about how I wanted to make the reference without actually making the reference, thereby giving myself permission to do a hacky writer’s trick without actually doing it. See, there’s nothing tricky about writing, it’s just a little trick!

It’s still in the first draft, and I may not keep all or even any of it, but after putting it aside for months while I was depressed about too many things to look at it, it feels so good to be back into this story.

Oh, speaking of writing, I got notes back from the editors on my Star Wars 40th anthology submission. I thought that, for sure, they’d want me to rework a ton of it, but all they asked me to do is change a name! And they told me it was beautiful! So I’ve been feeling like a Capital-W Writer for a few days.

And speaking of feeling happy for a change, Hasbro and Machinima announced that I’m a voice in the next installment of the Transformers animated series, Titans Return. And it feels silly to care about this particular thing, but Daily Variety put my name in the headline, which made me feel really, really good.I’ve always felt like the only thing that should matter is the work, and that the work should be able to stand on its own … but that’s not the reality even a little bit. Daily Variety is the industry’s paper of record, so when it chooses to put you in the headline of a story, people pay attention and it matters in the way that can make the difference between getting called for a meeting, or the last ten years of my life as an actor.

It’s also a good reminder that, even if I’m not getting the opportunities I want to be an on-camera actor, it is entirely within my power to create the space I need to be a writer.

 

[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Hello Captain Awkward,

I have an ongoing issue that I hope you can help me with, perhaps in the form of a script. I have been married for 24 years. Our marriage is far from perfect but we have worked out some of the major kinks. So here is the issue.

My husband is an introvert, I am an extreme extrovert. We are both ok with that. He doesn’t mind if I socialize and I do not care if he takes a pass on 99% of the invitations sent our way. He is fine with family events and hanging with a few close friends. All good. The problem is the rest of the world. We get invited to a lot of events that the majority of the guests are couples. Neighborhood parties, extended family stuff, work events etc. Again, my husband hates, I really enjoy. People are ok if I attend one or two events solo, but begin to get awkward and insulted beyond that. There are just so many “Husband is sick” “Husband is working on a project” excuses I can make before it becomes obvious that he is just not going to be showing up.

I have no idea what the right approach is to this is. Do I just say to everyone ” Hey husband hates parties and hanging out and makes it a misery for me til we finally just leave early”. I have started to just not attend things myself which makes me sad and resentful.

Any thoughts on how to make this less awkward?

Thanks!

Somebody at the party will probably always ask you that question because curiosity is human and they think enquiring after a person’s spouse is a routine & polite thing to do. You can’t change their behavior, but you can try to approach your replies with more “IDGAF” and see if they get better at taking cues from you.

The biggest recommendation I have is: DON’T LIE ANYMORE. You may think you need to tell white lies to spare the host’s feelings, but that’s part of why you feel resentful about the whole thing. You don’t actually owe the hosts any explanations, and being forced to lie is uncomfortable, so, let it go and tell the truth. He’s not sick, he’s not at work, he’s just not here.

Scripts, which nearly all come with “+ [a subject change]!” after them:

  • Oh, he’s at home.”
  • “He’s doing something else today.” 
  • “He’s not a party person, but I am!” 
  • “Oh, I like to come by myself, and he likes the quiet time at home. Everyone wins this way!” 
  • “We have a mixed Introvert-Extrovert marriage, so, you’re stuck with me for the rest of time.” 
  • “Oh, I can almost never never drag him out of the house for parties! He really loves his solo time, and I love being here with all of you.”

You say people are getting insulted, like, they might feel like your husband doesn’t really like them. That’s awkward, but at the end of the day, so what? It’s not your job to be his neighborhood friendliness ambassador. He’s not hurting anybody.

Your marriage is just fine, and their opinion of it doesn’t matter, so the worst thing I can come up with is that if they are obsessed with even numbers and couples, some people might stop inviting you to things. That would sting, but it’s not something you can actually control. Or, they might awkwardly ask, wait, doesn’t he like us? And you can say “I don’t know, he’s certainly never mentioned anything about that to me. After 24 years I do know that even when it’s his very best friends or family, big gatherings aren’t his cup of tea. It’s not personal, and it’s never gonna change! Good news, though, you’re never getting rid of me, ’cause I love it here.”

I’m gonna end with a compromise suggestion specifically for neighborhood gatherings, specifically for things that are walking distance and don’t require dressing up. Once a month or so, could your husband wander over and say a 10-minute hello to the hosts as a favor to you? Would it, like, crush his fragile spirit to drop in and say “Hey, bud, looks like a great gathering! My wife’s been looking forward to it all week! You know I’m not a party person but I wanted to stop by and say hello for a minute.” Then, he can leave whenever he wants to and you can stay all you want.

He certainly doesn’t have to do this (invitations are not commands, the neighbors are not owed 2 guests just because they invited 2 guests), but one thing I see is you doing a bunch of emotional labor around this and him doing zero. I used to think I hated “small talk” and only wanted to connect over deep truths but it turns out SMALL TALK IS AWESOME IT GREASES THE WHEELS OF THE SOCIAL CONTRACT AND ANYONE CAN DO IT FOR A FEW MINUTES, YOU WON’T DIE OF A BRIEF EXCHANGE ABOUT LAWN CARE OR THE WEATHER INSTEAD OF YOUR INNERMOST THOUGHTS.(See also: IT’S OKAY TO BE A LITTLE BIT BORED/BORING AS LONG AS YOU ARE KIND).

Your social life and relationships with the neighbors are important to you, so if him going for a few minutes would make you feel less awkward and smooth your way, I think that’s an okay thing to ask him to try out this summer.

 


“Actually, it’s a tabard.”

Jul. 20th, 2017 06:01 pm
[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Y’all.

Y’all.

I am howling at this story of Jenny Slate’s terrible blind date.

HOWLING.

Like, lmk when you get to the phrase “[metal clanking noises]” if you’re not ded of laughing by then.

It’s very funny and well told, because she is funny and a good storyteller (and because it doesn’t end with her being called ‘Milady’ in a murder basement for the rest of her short life), but it’s also a deeply cautionary tale about how women are socialized to be nice at all costs and how some dudes have not heard “LOL, Nope!!!!” coming from the woman-shaped hole in the nearest wall as their date flees the scene nearly enough in this life.

 

 


[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Dear Captain Awkward,

I would like some advice on how to deal with this. Let’s start in the beginning. It was the beginning of the school year (8th), when a boy asked for my number. (We will call him Earl) I gave it to Earl only to wait for practically half the school year until I get a text from him. Of course, I could have talked to him in the single class we share. But I was extremely awkward and did not know how I could initiate a conversation with him. Our text conversation was very awkward. After several other conversations, Earl suddenly asked for a selfie of myself. Right after that, he sent a (unwanted) photo of himself, which made me feel like I had to send him a photo in return.

Several weeks later, I saw Earl in the hallway and was about to greet him when I saw him walk towards another girl and hug her. I assumed that she was either a family member (many students’ relatives attend our school) or a close friend. I later found out they were actually dating, that Earl was actually a player, and showed off the pictures he acquired from multiple other girls to other boys. He also asked for a few of my friends’ numbers, even when I was in the same room! I was devastated and felt like it was my fault it happened. Earl even sat with my friends and I during lunch and asked for their names (Just thought I would add that). That was a month ago. We have not talked in that time. Two days ago, he began texting me again. Once again, Earl requested a photo of myself. This time I declined. Immediately after I said no, he just (and I quote) said “K, gn”. I would like to cut ties with him completely. I’m not sure if this is a bad enough problem for you to share some advice, but I would be grateful if you could help.

Sincerely,
Troubled Teen

Dear Troubled,

I am so sorry this is happening to you. It is gross and scary and NOT YOUR FAULT. I’m glad you wrote to me, though, because you are not alone and we need to figure out how to stop this kind of stuff and how to make that process safe for kids like you.

To be clear, I don’t think you were talking about clothed selfies of the human face in your letter, is it okay if I proceed with that assumption? If I’m wrong, well, I’d love to be wrong. It would be the best wrong I’ve been all year.

You have met a predatory and manipulative jerk. You didn’t do anything wrong. “Earl” did everything he did on purpose. He does the exact same thing to lots of girls and his way of operating makes y’all feel like it was your fault and that you’re the only ones it’s happening to. The photos he sends you are deliberate – They make you feel obligated, even if you say “Ew, no” it still gives him a thrill and a feeling of power to cross your boundaries like that and get away with it. The photos y’all send him are his “insurance” that you’ll be too ashamed to tell anyone or that, if you do, you’ll be in trouble yourself for also sending a picture.

It’s time to talk about informed consent, which means, roughly, that before you take any course of action you should know clearly what you’re getting into so you can make the best possible decision for yourself based on all available information. Informed consent, not coincidentally, is what Earl denied you by sending you a photo of Earl Jr. without asking first if you wanted to see it.

There are probably going to be commenters who tell you to drop what you’re doing and “Call the police right now!” Involving the police might be the right thing to do and it might extremely not be the right thing to do, depending on where you live and what the laws are like there. It also depends on what was in the photo that you sent vs. the one that he sent. There are some places where, even if you and Earl were girlfriend and boyfriend passionately and consensually sharing these images, you could both be convicted of possessing and distributing child pornography and end up with very scary sex offender convictions. I wish I were kidding about that, but here’s a link to an article by a lawyer about these laws where I live, Illinois, USA.

What Earl is doing seems to me like a clear pattern of predatory behavior designed to trick girls into sending him compromising photos and it needs stopped, for sure, but it’s risky for you when the laws can be so badly designed. Adults are completely terrified of teen sexuality and without knowing where you live and what the laws are like and what the general “Oh well, boys will be boys, what can you do?” attitudes are like, I can’t make a clean “Oh yes, def. call the police on this pooplord!” recommendation as much as I’d like to. More like, if you want to call the police do it with the help of a lawyer who can expertly guide you and protect you in the process.

There are probably going to be commenters who insist that you tell your parents what happened immediately. Some parents will be understanding and supportive and take action to protect you but also listen to and respect what you want to do. Some will absolutely flip their lids and take action (like bringing in law enforcement without fully considering what that means for you) (or freaking out that you sent a photo, too, and punishing you) that might not be what’s actually best for you. I 100% hope that you can tell your parents, but I grew up in the kind of house where my mom would be so ashamed of and angry at me for complying that it would probably not be worth it to tell her because the “What were you thinking?” “How could you be so stupid?” cloud of judgment would be worse punishment for me than anything that might happen to Earl or the prospect of 1 blurry photo of my teenaged nubbins out in the world. You are the expert on your own parents, so, trust your instincts here.

If you do decide to tell your parents, maybe do it in a note? Sample text or script you could adapt:

“Mom, Dad (or Mom & Mom/Dad & Dad), I need to tell you something really uncomfortable that happened and I am scared that you’ll be ashamed of me or mad at me.

A boy at school that I liked asked for my number and we’ve been texting. He sent me a naked picture of himself and asked me to send one in return. I’m embarrassed to say this but I did. After I sent it I realized that he doesn’t really like me and that he does this to lots of girls. I want him to stop doing this to all of us and I don’t know what to do.

I have been scared to tell anyone about this because I sent a photo, too. Since it happened I learned that there are laws about this that could get me in just as much trouble as the boy. Before we do anything can we talk to a lawyer who knows about this stuff to make sure I won’t get in trouble for coming forward?”

One common piece of advice is that you tell a trusted adult – a family member, a teacher, or maybe a school counselor what happened. Someone who can stop Earl and get him out of this pattern. I think this is 99.9% a very, very good idea with some reservations. Teachers and school counselors and anyone at your school are probably “mandated reporters.” That means that if they know or suspect abuse of some kind is happening, they must call law enforcement. This is to protect kids, and it doesn’t mean that you don’t ever tell them scary stuff, but it means that if you say “If I tell you something, do you promise to keep it between us?” sometimes they legally can’t make you that promise. They could lose their jobs, or be charged as an accessory or sued for covering up the problem.

This is why a lot of people use hypothetical situations to have these conversations, like the classic “I’m asking for a friend” scenario. For you it might mean saying “If I thought a boy at school was sending nude pictures to girls and trying to get them to send them back so he can show his friends, what should I do?” The obvious question on the teacher’s mind is “Which boy” (or, tbh, “It’s Earl, right?“) or “Did this happen to you?” but if you give everybody a fig leaf of plausible deniability at first you might get an idea of the teacher’s approach before you tell more details. “Can you tell me what the process of reporting that looks like? Have you ever had to deal with something like this before? What happened? What would happen to the boy? Would the girls get in trouble, too?” Figure out how informed, how aggressive, how sexist* this person is before you pour your heart out.

I’m sorry that so much of what I wrote is hypothetical and not a clear recommended course of action. It’s hard to be a kid and to not have much control over your situation, and it’s hard to live in a culture that is so inconsistent in how we treat victims of this kind of behavior. It’s hard to have such a clear right answer – “Stop this dude before he rapes someone!” – and to have so little trust in the processes or systems that exist to protect you. But I think there are a couple of things you 100% can control and that will make you feel safer:

Talk to a trained counselor outside of your school & the mandated reporting umbrella. For example, here is a link to the crisis resources available at Scarleteen, including a message board for staff & peer support, a texting service, and anonymous online chats. You’ll find people will believe you, who won’t judge you, who won’t think you’re weird, who are aware of how depressingly common what you went through is. You can get a real-time sounding board while you figure out what to do. Telling more comforting strangers (like you told us) can make it easier for you tell other people. (P.S. Scarleteen is a national treasure and they run that place on love and a shoestring. If you’re a grownup reading this and looking to fund some good, here’s a donation link).

Take screen shots of everything he sent you and that you sent him, including the pictures and email them to yourself or save them somewhere so you have documentation of what happened.

Block his number, forever and always. Preemptively block him on all conceivable social media platforms. Congratulations, Earl is now dead to you. Blank his pathetic ass in the halls of academia.

Beware of his gross friends who looked at the photos without saying “Whoa, not cool, man.” Those boys do not get your phone number in this lifetime.

If he gets in some trouble, good. You didn’t “get him in trouble” or “ruin his life.” If he’s harassing the girls in his class this way, he needs to deal with some consequences, and now, while he’s still a kid, is the right time for some serious intervention. If he threatens you, harms you, retaliates against you, makes you feel targeted and unsafe, damn the torpedoes and tell an adult.

Learn the rules about sexual harassment in your school. Does your school have a policy about this? What does it say? Is it good enough? Down the road, maybe through student government or the school newspaper, you could help shape a better policy that would protect kids like you from pervs like Earl? (Part of me is like AUGGGGHHHH YOU ARE 14 YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE TO RESEARCH THIS, and part of me is like FUTURE AMAZON WARRIOR IN TRAINING!!!!!)

giphy (23).gif

Image: Robin Wright as Antiope, riding a horse like the mf general she is.

Ahem.

Tell other girls. “Hey, have you ever had anything weird happened with Earl, where he sends you pictures and tries to get you to send him one, too?” You’ll be able to tell from how they react, and you can say “Yeah, that happened to me, too. It’s not your fault!” Spreading the word about him is powerful. Reminding yourself and each other that you’re not alone and that it’s not your fault is powerful. Maybe the other girls could all go with you to tell a teacher or a school counselor as a group.

Warn other girls. When you see Earl single someone out, you can warn her – “I know Earl seems cool, but chances are he WILL send you a dick pic and try to get you to send him a photo so he can show it to all his friends.

Be a safe landing place for other girls. Say you warn a girl, but she’s under the Earl-spell so she blows you off at first, but then it happens to her and she’s clearly embarrassed. Be kind to her. You know how she feels. Don’t blame or judge or “I told you so!” her. Don’t ever look at the photos if they get forwarded around, or make fun of her for it. Just say, “Yeah, you were kind of a jerk to me before, but I probably would have done the same thing before I knew what he was really like. It’s not your fault,” and add her to your powerful girl-army.

I wish I could build you a world without Notes From A Boner, where I never had to use the words “The next time you get some random screen peen…” but, there will be a next time and it will always kind of ruin your day a little because WHY ARE DUDES?

However, one tiny benefit of this upsetting situation it’s that your NOPE! meter will work much better from now on and it probably won’t ruin your week. The next intrusive wang you see will get a “Weird, why would you send me that?” and the cold release of the block button. Or, (true story) when you’re older and trying to sell a bike on Craigslist and some dude sends you a pathetic and revolting photo from realname@whereireallywork.com,” you’ll forward the email to humanresources@wherehereallyworks.com with a note saying “I got this from one of your employees today, you might want to check to see if he’s been hacked? Surely no one from your excellent company would send something like this to a stranger. I hope you can get to the bottom of this embarrassing incident, good luck!” Instead of wondering if it’s your fault somehow, Future You will let these losers reap the whirlwind of your contempt and indifference.

Sending so much love your way, Troubled Teen. We believe you. It’s not your fault.

*”Aw, boys will be boys, amirite?” = ABORT & possibly tell someone in authority “I tried to talk to [Teacher] about a sexual harassment situation and he said ‘boys will be boys’ and would not take it seriously at all.

 

 

 

 

 


205 Live (7/17)

Jul. 20th, 2017 06:30 am
[syndicated profile] oldnerd_feed

Posted by Bryan Lambert

Fun fact: The WWE's cruiserweight merch still consists of one TJ Perkins shirt.
It's always fun to see a match win the stagnant, uncaring 205 LIve crowd over. Shame it was the first match on the card.


Drew Gulak and Mustafa Ali had what would be, in any other situation, the end to their feud on 205 Live this week, with Ali pulling out a victory in an excellent 2/3 Falls match that opened the show. But this is 205 Live, where Cedric ALexander and Noam Dar feuded for six weeks over whether or not their feud was over.

That feud, by the way, appeared to end last week with Noam Dar dumping Alicia Fooooooooox, meant as Even More Heel but was in fact a face turn to anyone who's watched Alicia Fox on TV and now doesn't have to anymore.

The title picture going forward seems to be Tozawa-Neville II for Summerslam, but what we have right now is a diversionary story about Tozawa wanting to fight no matter what and Titus O'Neill not wanting him to get hurt and stopping matches. Well, match. On Raw, vs. Daivari, which led to a Sell The SHoulder rematch on 205 Live that Tozawa won by... grabbing Daivari's tights? Look, this storyline is all over the fucking place week to week and hour to hour and it's maddening.

Brian Kendrick is still convincingly furious at Jack Gallagher for merely existing, and takes it out on a British jobber. Still my favorite story in the Cruiserweight Division right now.

The Big Idea: Nat Segaloff

Jul. 20th, 2017 01:34 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

When biographer and historian Nat Segaloff sat down to interview science fiction Grand Master Harlan Ellison for his new book A Lit Fuse, he knew that he was in for a challenge. What surprised him about the process was how much it wasn’t just about Ellison, but also about him.

NAT SEGALOFF:

How do you write something new about someone everybody thinks they already know? A writer who is famous for putting so much of his life into his stories that his fans feel that even his most bizarre work is autobiographical? That was the unspoken challenge in late 2013 when I agreed to write Harlan Ellison’s biography, an adventure that is just now seeing daylight with the publican of A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison.

I wrote the book because Harlan wouldn’t. He came close in 2008 when he announced he would write Working Without a Net for “a major publisher,” but he never did. Maybe he figured he’d said enough in his 1700 short stories, essays, and articles he’s published over the last 60 years. It wasn’t as if he was afraid of the truth; he always said he never lies about himself because that way nobody can hold anything against him. That was my challenge.

When we shook hands and I became his biographer, I also became the only person he ever gave permission to quote from his work and take a tour of his life. What I really wanted to do, though, was to explore his mind. What I didn’t expect was that, as I examined his creative process, I would also bare my own.

When you sit down with someone for a conversation, it’s fun; when you sit down with someone for an interview, it’s serious. Harlan has been interviewed countless times and he has always been in control. This time, I was. I had to get him to say stuff that was new, and I had to go beyond where others had stopped.

A Harlan Ellison interview is a performance. He will be quotable, precise, vague, and outrageous. He takes no prisoners. He will run and fetch a comic book, figurine, photograph, or book to illustrate a point, all of which breaks the mood. My job was to get him to sit still and not be “Harlan Ellison” but simply Harlan.

Harlan is one of the few speculative fiction writers (along with Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and a handful of others) who became public figures. Part of this stemmed from the quality of his work but much of it was created by his being, as I kept finding in the clippings, ““fractious,” “famously litigious,” and “argumentative.” Indeed, most of the stories I found during my research could be divided into two categories: “What a wild man Harlan is” and “I alone escaped to tell thee.”

Balderdash. What I discovered was a man who takes his craft seriously and fiercely defends others who labor in the field of words. An attack on them was an attack on him, and an attack on him was not to be deflected but returned in kind. “I don’t mind if you think I’m stupid,” he told one antagonist, “it’s just that I resent it when you talk to me as if I’m stupid.”

Even though I had final cut, I ran whole sections past him to get his reaction. He never flinched. In fact, he challenged me to go deeper. It was almost as if – and don’t take this the wrong way – I was Clarice Starling and he was Hannibal Lecter — the more I asked of Harlan, the more I had to give of myself. Both of us put our blood in the book even though I am the author.

—-

A Lit Fuse: Amazon|NESFA Press

 


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