Hypothetical Action Heroine Movie

Every now and again, the meme below shows up on Facebook.  (I think it’s originally from Tumblr.)

Jeremy Renner Bourne Ultimatum I reposted it on my FB page, and some friends and I got into a fantasy casting game.

Do action movies know they can have more than one female character?

Someone should make an action movie with all girls except for one guy and have no explanation or mention of it in the movie and then pay all of the actors to act surprised like they’d never noticed when they get the inevitable storm of questions.

This one male must have a shower scene, be saved by the protagonist at least once, and fall in love with a lead female.

Also these women all need to be capable of both kicking ass and killing people with guns as well as cleaning up nicely and doing recon at a charity event while the one male character seduces a rich person.

I petition this male character is played by Jeremy Renner.

AD:  I petition for the female lead to be played by Claudia Christian.

Claudia Christian
SM:  How about Gina Torres as her sidekick?
Gina Torres
LM:  And Michelle Forbes is the leader of whatever group these women belong to.
Michelle Forbes
SM: My son suggests Dame Maggie Smith, as a field agent, not as the agency’s director.
Maggie Smith
SM: My husband suggests Renée Felice Smith as one of the agents.

SM: I concur with his suggestion and would add Katharine McPhee (who must, at some point in the movie, sing as part of her cover).

 Katharine McPhee
SM: The bad guys should be a mother/daughter team: France Nuyen as the leader of KAOS or Smersh or Thrush or whatever;
France Nuyen St. Elsewhere
Jadyn Wong as her top field agent (who we don’t learn is her daughter until halfway through the film).
AD: And Grace Park, somehow. With a nice, meaty role, to show CBS what they let get away.

SM: She should be a good guy. It would look bad if all the villains were Asian or Eurasian.

 Grace-Park w rifle
 LM:  Michelle Gomez would make a great baddie too.
Michelle Gomez
 JL:  Angela Bassett and Nicole Beharie MUST be in this movie!
Angela Bassett
CK: Jeremy Renner? I can’t say “meh” hard enough.

Jeremy Renner Wind River

Also, where is Olivia Spencer in this cast?

SM:  You’re male. Renner is beefcake for the ladies, not for the menfolk.
Olivia (Potluck) Spencer or Olivia (Flushed) Spencer? There appear to be two.
Olivia Spencer (Flushed)
 (Although I could only find a picture of the one in Flushed).
CK: I meant Octavia Spencer, in fact. I would enjoy seeing her pistol-whipping bozos who tread on her very last nerve.
Octavia Spencer TBBT
 SM: After seeing Thor: Ragnarok, I want to add Tessa Thompson to the list of secret agents.Tessa Thompson Thor Ragnarok
JB:  Renner would totally do it.
Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye
SM: Okay, we have the casting. Now we need a plot.

JL suggested this was similar to the Ghostbusters reboot.  JB said it reminded him of the Charlie’s Angels movies (not the ’70s TV show).

So Michelle Forbes (Ensign Ro Laren from Star Trek: The Next Generation) is leader of an alphabet soup agency headquartered in Washington or New York City. or Los Angeles.  Her agency has several response teams, with male and female agents.  This particular team has more women than men; other teams are more equally divided.
Claudia Christian (Susan Ivanova from Babylon 5 is team leader, with Gina Torres (Zoe Washburn from Firefly) as her number two.  Other team members include Dame Maggie Smith (Minerva McGonagall from the Harry Potter movies) as an experienced agent who refuses to retire, Renée Felice Smith (Nell Jones from NCIS: LA), Katharine McPhee (Paige Dineen from Scorpion),  Octavia Spencer (Dorothy Vaughan from Hidden Figures) and Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton from The Avengers). A seven-person team fits into the basic storyteller six-pack with very little trouble.
Renner’s character needs vital information from a multi-millionaire industrialist, so he must seduce Angela Bassett (Queen Ramonda in Black Panther) and/or her daughter Nicole Beharie (Abbie Mills in Sleepy Hollow) to get it.  He is uncomfortable doing so, because of his crush on Claudia Christian’s character.
Michelle Gomez (Missy in Doctor Who) is the leader of another alphabet soup agency, more a rival than an antagonist.  Her top agents are Grace Park (Kono Kalakaua in Hawaii 5-0) and Tessa Thompson (Charlotte Hale in Westworld).  Perhaps her token male agent is Tom Hiddleston (Loki in The Avengers).  Perhaps she’s the head of a British or international organization and Forbes’ character is the head of an American agency.  But she and her people are after the same thing that Claudia Christian’s team  is after.
Loki in Thor Ragnarok
France Nuyen (Elaan of Troyius from Star Trek) is the leader of a mercenary operation,  She’s not out to rule the world (too much paperwork) or to put her nation at the top of the global food chain.  (She is completely devoid of patriotism.)  She just wants to make a profit and has very few scruples how she does so.  Her best field agent (and daughter) is Jadyn Wong (Happy Quinn from Scorpion).  They are no relation to Grace Park’s character.  There are millions of Asians in the world and not all  of them are related, or even from the same country.
I would love to use Ellie Botterill (Princess Theodora from A Crown for Christmas) in this hypothetical movie, either as a kidnapped child genius, or a runaway princess,  or Gomez’s daughter or Dame Maggie’s granddaughter.
ellie botterill
What is the MacGuffin?  What are all these spies and mercenaries trying to find?  Who are the characters?  Yes, fantasy casting gives you faces and voices, but what are their personalities and skill sets?  Just because Renée Felice Smith plays a computer expert on her current show doesn’t mean she might not be the linguist or the medic on this team.  Renner might be the hacker  instead of the marksman. Is Dame Maggie Smith’s character an Englishwoman on an American spy squad, or is she a Texan who fakes a really good British accent?  Was she, perhaps, an English spy who married an American spy, and was she once Gomez’ mentor before coming to the US with her husband?
This is a better outline than most of my writing projects have.  All we have to do is flesh out a few measly details, write a script, and find a generous patron willing to provide the money to produce.  Easy-peasy.
collage-2017-12-27 (1)
Disclaimer:  the photographic images were borrowed from or Google Images.  There is no intent to defraud the photographers.  This blog is an amateur writing exercise, and no profit has been made from it (nor is likely to be made from it.)  I made the collage above, using

Writing Tips: Are You Writing for the Right Reasons? — a guest post by Andrew Timothy Post

I found this interesting, and I thought you might like to read it, too.  This is a guest blog from Andrew Timothy Post, who is a SFFH writer.  After reading this article about motivation and learning, I found Mr. Post’s article on motivation and writing useful.

Of course, my favorite motivational quotation for writing has always been Dr. Samuel Johnson‘s “No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.”  I confess, two of my favorite hobbies are eating and sleeping indoors.

Too many people confuse their own enthusiasm for confidence and determination. Then the going gets rough, the fear closes in, and what was once fun becomes a chore.

via Writing Tips: Are You Writing for the Right Reasons? — Andrew Timothy Post, Writer

Should the President, Senators, and Supreme Court Justices Have an Upper Age Limit?

Some friends and I were discussing on Facebook whether the presidency should be subject to a maximum age limit, as well as a minimum age limit. Many of the senators being suggested as possible candidates for 2020 are in their 70s now.

The Brooks Museum in Memphis had a display of presidential images a few years ago. Paintings, sculpture, death masks, photographs — every president looked 10-15 years older instead of 4-8. That position is wearying on the soul and the body. Electing someone who is qualified, but may not survive the strain of office, is unwise.

I couldn’t help thinking of what Emperor Ezar Vobarra said in Lois McMaster Bujold‘s SHARDS OF HONOR, when he was defining what would be required of an imperial regent for his grandson.

“What the Regency requires is a man of impeccable rank, no more than middle-aged, with a strong military background. He should be popular with his officers and men, well-known to the public, and above all respected by the General Staff. Ruthless enough to hold near-absolute power in this madhouse for sixteen years, and honest enough to hand over that power at the end of those sixteen years to a boy who will no doubt be an idiot — I was, at that age, and as I recall, so were you — and, oh, yes, happily married. Reduces the temptation of becoming bedroom Emperor through the Princess.”

The USA is not the planet Barrayar. Our needs, laws, and customs are different. However, these requirements aren’t too far off from what we should consider. The president should be old enough to be experienced, but young enough to not only survive the job but live through the conditions s/he creates. A certain degree of ruthlessness is required to make the hard decisions. Some experience with the military is helpful; the commander-in-chief should know something of the military life, when s/he asks men and women to fight and die. A career military leader may not be the best, simply because military methods are very different from civilian administration.  Many presidents served when their country needed them,  but did not spend their entire life in the military:  James Monroe in the American Revolution, Abraham Lincoln in the Blackhawk War (he never saw combat), Teddy Roosevelt in the Spanish-American War, Jimmy Carter in Korea.  Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George H. Bush were all in the military or in the reserves during WWII.


Honesty, integrity, and a belief in the American Constitution are necessities. The president must be willing and able to step down after 4-8 years, not try to stay in power for decades like some African or Central American tinpot dictator. Happily married also helps; although no American politician will try to win the White House by marrying a predecessor’s widow(er), marriage — at least a good one — teaches compromise, partnership, and other skills valuable to a public servant.

Perhaps that’s the most important job requirement of all. The president must remember although s/he is the most powerful person in the world, s/he is a servant as well as a leader. The American president is a public servant.

“The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about anyone else.”   Theodore Roosevelt

Dianne Feinstein is 84. Orrin Hatch (currently fourth in line to the presidency) is 83. Maxine Waters is 79. Barbara Boxer is 77. Bernie Sanders is 76. Joe Biden is 75. Robert Reich is 71. Hillary Clinton and Olympia Snowe are 70. Susan Collins, John Kasich, John Hickenlooper, and Bob Corker are 65. Gary Johnson is 64.

Think how old they will be in 2024. It’s time to consider some younger possibilities.

Bill Haslam is 59. Jon Huntsman is 57. Laura Ebke is 55. Martin O’Malley, Keith Ellison, and Jeff Flake are 54. Kamala Harris is 53. Marco Rubio is 46. Nikki Haley is 45. Evan McMillian is 41. Joe Kennedy is 37.

My bookmate Rebecca McFarland Kyle said the presidency  “is a job for a mature person but not necessarily an aged one.”  Another bookmate, Voss Foster, countered “I don’t agree with a maximum age limit, as I feel it’s shutting out some good candidates that we may not even know about. I do think lowering the minimum age to 30 would alleviate some of this.”

My clan-cousin, Laurie MacDonald (she’s from the branch of the family that capitalizes the D) pointed out: “The problem is that some people are fully competent and physically fit to perform the duties of President of the United States at the age of 70 and beyond, while others are neither competent or physically fit at a much younger age… I keep thinking there should be some sort of test for mental competence in order to be president, but I don’t know how this situation should be handled. Who would administer the tests? If the person is declared mentally unfit, the person would immediately scream prejudice.”

The late Douglas Adams may have said it best:

“The major problem—one of the major problems, for there are several—one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.  To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.  To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.  To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem.”

This rationale was the theme of one of the stories in MORE ALTERNATIVE TRUTHS.


My friends and I also discussed the possibility of term limits for legislators, and/or mandatory retirement age for legislators and Supreme Court justices.  It was brought up that legislators, administrators, and judges should have to live long enough to deal with the consequences of their actions.

Our current Supreme Court justices range in age from 50 (Neil Gorsuch) to 84 (Ruth Bader Ginsburg).  Supreme Court justices are appointed for life, although they may voluntarily retire or resign.  Because they were not awarded pensions until 1869, many justices stayed longer than they may have wished, or longer than they were fit to, for financial reasons.  As Jonathan Turley pointed out, “If a justice is significantly impaired, there is no way to remove him from the bench.  The Constitution provides for involuntarily removal of justices only by a process of impeachment. It requires a showing of serious wrongdoing but has nothing to do with mental competence. And yet since its founding, the court has struggled with incompetent, addicted and even insane justices.”  Rather than a life term, should justices be appointed for a decade, and then have the president have the option of re-appointing them or not?  Should justices be required to step down at 70, or 75, or 80?  The Notorious RBG is still mentally fit at 84.  Other justices (John Rutledge, Robert Grier, etc.) were unfit much younger.

Term limits for Congress have been discussed and debated for years.  On the one hand, term limits prevent the growth of a permanent legislator class who’ve lost touch with the ordinary lives of their constituents.  They also help the nation avoid unfit or senile legislators. [Strom Thurmond, who spent 48 years in the senate, was 100 years old when he finally retired. Was he able to represent his state as well in 2003 as he did in 1956?]  As George Will pointed out, senator and senile share the same root word, and the current senate is very different from what the Founding Fathers had envisioned.  On the other hand,  term limits deprive the people of experienced legislators who understand the system.  Washington, DC, as our current president has proven, is a confusing labyrinth to newcomers.  If term limits are enacted, the entire congressional system of power based on seniority  will need to be redesigned.

Bernie Sanders and Maxine Waters are sharp-witted, despite their age.  Most voters consider their age the reason for their wisdom and experience.  Other senators and congressional representatives far younger than them (Tom Cotton, for example, or Ted Cruz, or Todd Akin) have said and done things to make many voters doubt their qualifications. Kevin Drum suggested moderate term limits.

I’m just an ex-teacher and a freelance copy editor.  I don’t claim to have all the answers.  But anyone who reads a newspaper can see that our government needs a little help; maintaining the status quo will be bad for our children and grandchildren.  What can we do to improve our nation, to help it be the best country in the world, “with liberty and justice for all”?  I’m interested in your opinions.

Disclaimer:  Rebecca McFarland Kyle and Voss Foster are bookmates of mine; we have stories in the same anthologies.  Laurie MacDonald has purchased an autographed copy of ALTERNATIVE TRUTHS.

Alt truths cover

Happy Bill of Rights Day!

Sci-fi, Speculative Fiction and the Problem When Imagination Erases Race

As a WASP science fiction and fantasy writer who wants to do better, I found this article by Stephen Farnsworth both interesting and useful. Maybe you’ll find it useful, too.

A guest blog by Stephen Farnsworth, from Stand Up Magazine.

Stand Up Magazine - Empowering Millennials

When authors are more likely to show aliens than people of colour, and creators of colour rarely get platforms, speculative fiction is failing its audience – and its potential.

Speculative fiction is a genre of wonder and possibilities. Within it, fantasy, supernatural stories, and sci-fi flourish. It has brought infinite joy (and almost as much cash). Whether it’s Twilight, Harry Potter, Mass Effect, Overwatch, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, The Walking DeadLost – the list of popular titles that have dominated pop-culture are endless. Yet, a genre that is determined by its creativity must be considered failing when only some creators are given opportunities, and only the same people are represented.

At least in film, the universe of speculative fiction appears to be changing. Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time are finally offering some diversity in a genre that…

View original post 1,521 more words

Goodbye, Professor, Hello, Horace (SPOILERS)

SPOILERS:  This blog contains spoilers for the Crisis on Earth-X crossover of SupergirlThe Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow.  If you have not seen the four-part adventure yet, read no further.









Victor Garber, who played Professor Martin Stein on Legends of Tomorrow and Admiral Halsey on The Orville, has left the cast of Legends of Tomorrow.  Professor Stein, who was half of the superhero Firestorm, died as a result of his wounds fighting Nazis (an honorable way for a Jewish scientist to perish) in the Crisis on Earth-X crossover event.

Victor Garber played Professor Martin Stein on "Legends of Tomorrow" and "The Flash."
Victor Garber as Professor Stein in “Legends of Tomorrow” {image via the CW by way of}

In the show, Professor Stein had been discussing retiring from the Legends, a group of time-travelling heroes, in order to spend more time with his daughter and his newborn grandson.  Before he could accomplish that goal, he died.

In real life, Victor Garber will be returning to Broadway.  The four-time Tony nominee will be starring in Hello, DollyHe will play Horace Vandergelder, the role played by Walter Matthau in the movie and currently played by David Hyde Pierce on stage.  Bernadette Peters will star as Dolly Levi.  Garber will replace Hyde and Peters will replace Bette Midler on January 20, 2018.

“The opportunity to play this role, in this production, with the incomparable Bernadette Peters, is truly a dream come true. I cannot wait to be back where I belong.”

Victor Garber has appeared on "The Orville" twice as Admiral Halsey.
Admiral Halsey (Victor Garber) and Captain Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane) – {image via Fox by way of}

I was upset with the producers and scriptwriters of Legends of Tomorrow for killing off Professor Martin Stein, but at least now I know why.  Mystery solved.

[All photos “borrowed” from’s website.  No copyright infringement intended]

Advent Word Challenge

Sunday, December 3, 2017, was the first Sunday of Advent.  My church is doing an Advent word challenge: one word a day until Christmas.

If you want to join along, here are the instructions and word list.  You don’t have to be a member of my church, or any church, to participate.

Instructions:  You are invited to read and reflect on Biblical themes during Advent with our faith family at Temple UMC.  After your reading and reflection, you are encouraged to take a photo, draw, paint, or journal how the passage and the word for the day spoke to you.  Then share on social media (FB, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) and include the hashtag: #tumcadvent2017.  Others can search using that tag and see what you’ve posted.  Come on; join the journey.

The red dates are Sundays.  The purple date is Christmas.



Dec. 3:  Hope.  Luke 21: 25-28

Dec. 4:  Promise.  Jeremiah 33: 14-16

Dec. 5:  Beginning.  John 1: 1-2

Dec. 6:  Guide.  Psalm 25:5

Dec. 7:  Wonder.  Luke 1:26-33

Dec. 8:  Shout.  Isaiah 52: 7-9

Dec. 9:  Strengthen.  1 Thess. 3:13

white pointsettia

Dec. 10:  Peace.  Luke 1:77-79.

Dec. 11:  Refine.  Malachi 3: 2-3

Dec. 12.  Prepare.  Luke 3: 3-6

Dec. 13.  Abound.  Phil. 1: 9-11.

Dec. 14:  Declare.  Psalm 96: 1-3.

Dec. 15:  Glory.  Hebrews 1: 1-3.

Dec. 16:  Light.  John 1: 4-5.



Dec. 17:  Love.  Zeph. 3: 14-17.

Dec. 18:  Sing.  Isaiah 12: 4-6.

Dec. 19: Wait.  Titus 2: 11-14.

Dec. 20:  Give.  Luke 6: 38-39.

Dec. 21.  Joy.  Luke 1: 39-45.

Dec. 22.  Come.  Hebrews 10: 5-10

Dec. 23:  Humble.  Luke 1: 46-49.


Dec. 24:  Child.  Isaiah 9: 6-7

Dec. 25:  Proclaim.  Luke 2: 8-20.


Feel free to join in, if Advent is part of your holiday traditions.  Feel free to ignore if it isn’t.  Happy Holidays,  whichever holiday is dear to your heart.

{All pictures courtesy of Pixabay}


Back to top