Johnny Whitaker/ Sigmund and the Sea Monsters

Johnny Whitaker’s Birthday … also the birthday of my book-sister Rebecca McFarland Kyle. We’Ve been in Two anthologies together, or is it three nw? Happy Birthday, Becky, ad happy writing!

(Travalanche)

December 13 is the birthday of former child star Johnny Whitaker (b. 1959). The red-haired freckled Whitaker was memorable as young Jody on Family Affair(1966-1971), which we wrote about here, and was memorable as the title character in the musical film Tom Sawyer in (1973). He was also in one Steven Spielberg’s first films, Something Evil (1972) with Darren McGavin and Sandy Dennis which we wrote about here.

But having already written about just about all of Sid and Marty Krofft’s shows, I thought I’d give a little attention today to Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (1973-1974).

In conception, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters represents a slight “sea change”, if you will, from the earlier Krofft shows, H.R. Pufnstuf, The Bugaloos and Lidsville. It was less “psychedelic” than those previous ones, though it still had lots of humor. It was very much similar in conception to…

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Oh, fer cryin’ out loud… how do you keep screwing this up?!?

Once upon a time, Stan Lee was upset that he was a comic book scribbler, not a novelist (ie., a real writer) and he was thinking of quitting comic books. His wife Joan told him to do a comic book he was really proud of. The result was the Fantastic Four.

Steven Lyle Jordan

Fantastic Four 2015 movieWell, Hollywood has treated us once again to a movie about the Fantastic Four.  And once again, it has bombed.  And I mean bombedHiroshima-level bombed.  In a time when superhero movies are almost impervious to box-office failure—when special effects can give us realistic-looking monsters, other-worldly cities of the gods and flying aircraft carriers—when even obscure characters like Ant-Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy can print box-office tickets at will—the FF drop like a lead balloon dumped down one of the Mole Man’s subterranean tunnels.

And my mind has just rolled out through my ear canal and flopped onto the desk.  (Actually, I bet Reed Richards could do that.)  Because I simply can’t comprehend how anyone could manage to ruin this idea.  Multiple times.  As if no one in the movie industry has the vaguest clue as to what they have here.

And I keep saying: Oh…

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Peter Falk: Solo Columbo

Atalented actor – the perfect match of actor to character – IM sure everyone would rather read a guest blog about zcolombo than listen to me talk about rehab therapy. My physical therapist called my muscle activation beautiful.

My speech therapist said we were able to check off several goals.

(Travalanche)

I confess to having something like a mental block when it comes to most of the screen work of the late Peter Falk (1927-2011). It’s entirely my hang-up. I’ll try to articulate what it is, or what I think it is. If you’ll read through to the end you’ll find that this is an essay very much in praise of Peter Falk, so don’t get your knickers in a twist.

We’ll start with his assets. Falk, intrinsically, was himself a character. With his gravelly voice, his glass eye, and his diminutive, scrappy stature, Falk had a very narrow range. So he made it his business to be extremely truthful, using the instrument he was given. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t create different characters. He played a different character for every role he was given to play, though the variations are often subtle given the idiosyncratic nature of his physiognomy. But…

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Power Causes Brain Damage

Guest blog [not my words, not my thoughts, it struck me as more interesting to share than my intended blog complaining about physical therapy. Whiny is seldom fun to read. Also my brain is still at half-power.

Diane Morrison

By Jerry Useem

If power were a prescription drug, it would come with a long list of known side effects. It can intoxicate. It can corrupt. It can even make Henry Kissinger believe that he’s sexually magnetic. But can it cause brain damage?

When various lawmakers lit into John Stumpf at a congressional hearing last fall, each seemed to find a fresh way to flay the now-former CEO of Wells Fargo for failing to stop some 5,000 employees from setting up phony accounts for customers. But it was Stumpf’s performance that stood out. Here was a man who had risen to the top of the world’s most valuable bank, yet he seemed utterly unable to read a room. Although he apologized, he didn’t appear chastened or remorseful. Nor did he seem defiant or smug or even insincere. He looked disoriented, like a jet-lagged space traveler just arrived from Planet…

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Call For Submissions: Rosalind’s Siblings

Galli Books

Rosalind’s Siblings is an anthology of speculative stories about people of marginalized genders/sexes who are scientists: scientists doing good, changing the world, or just getting on with their work of expanding human knowledge in a speculative context, presented in a positive light. This anthology is named for Rosalind Franklin, the so-called Dark Lady of DNA, one of the most famously erased female scientists in history, and a direct relation of the founder of Galli Books. The anthology is being edited by Bogi Takács.

The stories do not need to problematize gender/sex, though this is also welcome, and we would like to publish a mix of approaches. We are generally interested in positive portrayals of science and the protagonists doing research, but this can include a critical reappraisal. (E.g., we would very much like to see stories in which science is decolonized and/or Indigenized, or in some other ways incorporates approaches…

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Destroying Citizenship

a guest post by Elizabeth Moon

Elizabeth Moon

Destroying Citizenship

The Constitution, the legal foundation and framework of this country, defined it as “birth citizenship.” Born here, citizen here. Those not born here could become citizens in a variety of ways, but citizenship was intended to be permanent, inviolable unless the citizen decided to deny their citizenship and change to another country. Criminals could be prosecuted, tried, convicted, and punished…but not stripped of their citizenship just because they stole, murdered, set fires, etc.

The only times in our history that this was violated (first with slavery, later with other racist acts and Japanese internment) it was a national scandal *and recognized as such.* Those bad days, I was taught, were over–we’d never make that mistake again.

But it’s happening now. It began as a move by the Texas state government to refuse to issue birth certificates for the children of foreigners (Mexican and Central Americans) born in this country. It continued with the attack of GOP politicians on the concept of “chain migration” (the most common form of immigration in our history–families moved here piecemeal, as they could afford.) And earlier this year I read that the State Department was starting to refuse to issue passports to persons born out of hospital, on the grounds that *even when reported promptly and certified by a state-issued birth certificate*, the place of birth might have been right and the person might not *really* be a citizen.

Worth noting, for those who don’t know: until well into the 20th century *most* births were out of hospital…mostly at home (like my mother, her mother, her mother’s mother, her father, both her grandparents…) In WWII, my mother (born at home) joined nurses in Chicago’s slums to provide birthing service for poor women in their tenements. Post WWII, many rural people (especially rural poor, who could not afford hospital care) had their children at home. When we moved here to central Texas, quite a few people were still having their babies at home, most for financial reasons and a few for the concept of a “natural” birth. Babies born out of a hospital are no more likely to be born in a foreign country than those born in a hospital (for instance, to a pregnant US citizen who misjudged her due date and had her child in London or Bangkok.)

But the GOP paranoia about citizenship, their incredible racism–which would have deported most of their own ancestors and denied citizenship to their children–led to an Administration hell bent on denying citizenship to American citizens and deporting as many as possible. Trump & Sessions both said earlier this year that some naturalized citizens should be deported. This would include people I know who immigrated to this country after WWII, some as adults and some as children. And from day one of the “crackdown” on illegal immigrants, ICE has been arresting, holding, and even deporting *native born American citizens*, with passports, who were not allowed to retrieve their passport to prove citizenship while in detention. Their “crime” was being brown. A man arrested in Colorado was told “You don’t look like you were born here.” (Remember, a Navajo man running for public office was accosted by angry white people telling him “Go back where you came from.”)

And now the State Department is confiscating passports from people born on the Texas-Mexico border (which denies them their proof of citizenship), having them detained by ICE, threatening to deport them. Natural born American citizens. Our fellow citizens. Business owners. Veterans of our military services. Farmers. Citizens who were not only born in this country, but had bothered to get passports (most people in my childhood did not have them; you needed them only for foreign travel, not to prove citizenship.) Citizens–fellow citizens–are informed that they aren’t citizens, really, because of where they live, where they were born.

I’m going to take a wild guess that the State Department isn’t yanking the passports of *white* people born in South Texas…only brown people. Not targeting people with last names like Clark or Miller or Schroeder or Whetzel…but only those with names like Moreno, Rodriguez, Garcia, or Flores. Families whose ancestors were there when Texas (and then the U.S.) annexed the territory, drove them off their land grants, stole their land and their history. Among other things.

I grew up in that border mix, and I experienced the influx of white northerners in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s–the winter tourists from Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, etc. who complained *endlessly* about the people who lived where they wanted to spend the winter and enjoy the semi-tropical climate, plants, birds, etc. Some of them settled, and brought their attitudes with them. They were offended that our local stop signs also had ALTO on them. They were offended if greeted in Spanish, or if someone’s English had an accent. And there were people like that north of us in all directions. North Texans can be just as snooty and mean as someone from the upper midwest. (My grandfather moved the family to Dallas one year; my mother was harassed and ridiculed because she’d come from the border area; she also had straight black hair, so she was called “dirty Mexican.”) And there’s always been racism in Texas, from the first and all the way to the present.

But seizing the passports–the proof of citizenship–of American citizens without any evidence, declaring them non-citizens without any chance to defend themselves in court, to offer *their* evidence? This is violating our national Constitution and our national honor. And it is also already one floor down the slippery slope to tyranny in this country. Not taxes, not gun control: when the government claims the right to change the rules about who is and who isn’t a citizen–to make that change at the whim of the president or any other individual (or political party) we are already hip deep in Nazi Germany’s determination to “purify” the country–to make it all white and all Christian a certain way. If We the People of the United States don’t stop this right now, this next election, then ANY of us could be declared a non-citizen and our belongings–from passport to land to the clothes on our backs–seized by a lawless government. (Remember the picture of all the rosaries the Border Patrol stole from those they detained: rosaries, wedding rings, family pictures…)

This is not the country I joined the Marines to protect. This is not the country I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution for…not a country that strips citizens of their citizenship on the whim of a political party, or a secret cluster within it, or the senior officials or elected representatives or a president. THIS is a line in the sand, as were the children kidnapped, trafficked, and abused. THIS is NOT OK.

Originally posted by Elizabeth Moon on her Facebook page, August 30, 2018.

References/Resources

U.S. Is Denying Passports to Americans Along the Border

Trump’s Illegal Policy of Denying Passports to Hispanic Citizens

 

Writing with Spirituality

A guest blog by Phyllis Irene Radford

Writing with Spirituality

Alternative Theologies, parables for a modern world

Phyllis Irene Radford

Reading a book imbued with spirituality and later trying to write those qualities
into my own work has fascinated me for a long time. Spirituality is more than religion. To me it is a spiritual character, someone who lives their faith and has a personal
relationship with their beliefs. Their faith guides every decision they make even when
they question the advisability of the decision.  For them there is no division between the divine and reality.I played with these ideas in Guardian of the Vision, Merlin’s Descendants #3.

 

Griffin Kirkwood is a Roman Catholic priest who must wrestle with the strict
teaching of his religion, weighing those truths against the truth of Magical talents in
himself and his family. “A spell is nothing more than a prayer.”

 
I started to see that faith is more than emotion, but it needs to invoke and
emotional response from the reader. That is hard to do but begins on a character level.
The writer, and the reader needs to bond closely to the character and understand what
they believe and why.

 
Then came the Confederated of Star System series by C.F. Bentley.  Sissy dove head first into my life and would not go away until I told her story. An undereducated factory worker, our heroine found herself dragged into the Temple Caste and made High Priestess because the powers that be thought she’d be malleable and do as she was told. They learned otherwise. But finally given the right and the means to read the history of Harmony, both goddess and planet, she has questions that she cannot reconcile with her very direct and magical connection to her home and her faith.  No one messes with the avatar of a goddess, even when she is forced into exile on a space station.

 
That series exhausted me, and I went back to more mundane topics. Until…
My best friend and co-writer, Bob Brown, came up with a new anthology idea.
We’d already co-edited and written for Alternative Truths, which hit several Amazon
bestseller lists, and More Alternative Truths. He published a couple of other books
without me while I wrote a couple books on my own. But then I got a phone call. “Want
to edit Alternative Theologies?”  How could I say no?

 
We racked up almost 150 submissions. In every open call anthologies there a
few inappropriate pieces. Some in the “What were you thinking?” category that make
me head for the hand sanitizers. There are a few that are beautifully written pieces that
don’t quite fit theme. We bought two of those for the next anthology Alternative
Apocalypses.  And then there is the good stuff. The really good stuff that made us cry when we had to choose one from among four with similar themes.

 

In reading the stories I had to sit up and take notice, then I had to think. Think
about my own beliefs, think about how the authors presented themes, think about the
readers who would also think, even if they ended up throwing the entire collection
against the wall. I thought about the stories when they made me laugh, or made me cry,
or made my heart swell with new faith and affirmation.

 
This collection does not bash or denounce religion. It does rail against those who
pervert the teaching of their faith. It examines why we believe, crave believing in
something bigger and grander than ourselves. And it gives me new foundations for my
own beliefs.

 
Believe what you will, in the deity who speaks to you. And I hope you can read
these stories and think.

 


I am not in this volume myself.  I came up with two or three ideas, but none that I was able to transmogrify from story ideas to actual stories.  SMM

My Book Is At WorldCon Without Me

This weekend is the 76th World Science Fiction Convention, or WorldCon.  It’s in San Jose, CA.  Budgets being what budgets are, I’m not there.  However, Alternative Truths is.  B Cubed Press has a table at the con.  They’re selling Alternative Truths, More Alternative Truths, After the Orangeand Alternative Theologies.

My life has been underpaid but busy.  I’ve been trying to finish a ghost story and working on a story for Release the VirginsI’ve been rereading H. P. Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness,” for an anthology based on that novella that wants stories by female authors with female characters.  (My bookmate Melinda LaFever has already submitted a story.)

I’ve been writing for Krypton Radio, and my boss and I were pleasantly surprised when an article of mine went viral.  Over 5,000 people read my article and shared it on Facebook, and many other people saw it on Twitter.  Mercedes Lackey, one of my favorite authors, was poisoned by her hotel room at GenCon, and had to go to the hospital with hallucinations and stroke symptoms.  It turned out her hotel room had recently been refurbished, but the hotel hadn’t allowed time for the cleaning fumes to dissipate.  She’s making a full recovery, but I hope the hotel pays her hospital bill.

School started in our district two weeks ago, and I have gone back to subbing.  One day high school audio/visual & broadcasting, one day special ed (elementary), and four days special ed teacher’s aide (elementary and junior high).  I’m crossing my fingers for high school social studies tomorrow.

Southwest TN Com Col

Next week, my husband and son start the fall semester at the local community college.  My son decided as much as he likes UTC, he did so much better at STCC for his summer school class that he’s taking his next semester here, where the class sizes are smaller and the tuition is lower.  Both are taking three classes each, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  I have been approved by the college to accompany my husband and act as his amanuensis.  (I did mention that he used a cane now, didn’t I, after the potassium deficiency that mimicked a stroke, sent him to the ER, created a speech impediment, and caused him to lose his job of 15 years?)  Both are taking two GE classes and one class for their major.  One is a history major (should help with writing fantasy) and the other is a criminal justice major (should help with writing mystery or urban fantasy).

This week, I am available for subbing all five days.  Next week, I am only available for subbing on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

I am a volunteer for Mid-South Renaissance Faire, which will be October 13 & 14 and October 20 & 21 this year in Millington, TN, at USA Baseball Stadium.  August was just too hot.  We had humans and trolls dropping from the heat.  Troll droppings are bad enough, but a she-troll dropping, that’s too much.

Susan, TNRenFest, orange dress

Well, that’s my news.  I hope to post a book review of Alternate Theologies soon.  I hope everyone at WorldCon is having fun, and I hope B Cubed Press sells a lot of books.  With my husband and son in college and my daughter getting close to college age, I could use the royalty money for their tuition.


If you have a spare dollar or two, buy these books.

R is for Renaissance Faire

Cat Tails: War Zone

Alternative Truths

More Alternative Truths

Heroic Fantasy Short Stories

Sword and Sorceress #30

Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid

Supernatural Colorado

Barbarian Crowns

Where Will We Be After The Orange?

I’m not in this book, but several of my friends and acquaintances are. You might find it worth reading.

A guest-post by Karen G. Anderson

Writer Way

Screen Shot 2018-07-27 at 8.12.06 PMThe writers and editors who put together the Alternative Truths and More Alternative Truths anthologies have taken a collective leap into our uncertain future with a new book, After the Orange: Ruin and Recovery.

Edited by my talented friend Manny Frishberg, the newest B Cubed Press anthology has stories by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Paula Hammond, Mike Adamson, J.G. Follansbee, me and 24 others. Our stories in After the Orange provide a glimpse of the world in 2032 and beyond.

Manny says: “Some stories are about imagined Resistance fighters while others, like ‘Garbage Patch Kids,’ envision people cheerfully making the best of their situation. Generally, the farther in the future a story looks, the more likely it is to be optimistic.”

“Maybe the Monarchs,” by Endeaver Award-winner Brenda Cooper, and J.G. Follansbee’s “The Orange St. Parking Garage Is FULL/OPEN” are all-to-plausible, and disturbingly so. I heard Brenda read “Maybe the…

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