Monday, July 28, 2014

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Where The Hell Is Matt?

Linked over at The Radish, this makes me ridiculously happy.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Parenting Traumas

So the kid broke the screen of her iPod, again.

That was one trauma.  Because I don't know if you know how much those are to fix, but I will just tell you, bunches.

(Why does she have an iPod, when we are poor as dirt?  We bought it with the last of the educational money her grandfather left her, to use for her homeschooling.  In theory, she uses it to study.  And in fact, she does, sometimes, use it for that purpose, reading lots of her English and history on it.  But also it's a platform for her art programs and her music.)

No sooner did I finally get the money together to fix the iPod screen when --

Wails erupt.

For the first time in two years the kid has unwisely forgotten a glass of water on her desk, and the eeeevil cat had, in the night, knocked it over onto the keyboard of her computer.

She smites her head, she flings ashes.  She abases herself.

"Oh, quit," I say.  "One day you'll have a forebrain, won't that be nice?  Then you won't do stupid shit like this ever again."

She blinks at me through her tears woefully.  "Really?"

I think this over, and laugh.  "Well..." I say.  "No.  Humans do stupid shit all the time.  Because we're human.  But really, on a scale of one to really stupid, how stupid do you think wrecking a keyboard is?"

She sniffles.  "Two?"

"Like point five," I assure her.  "Be glad this happened in the summer when I happen to have a little money."


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Fort Smith, AR: Where Right-Wing Xtian Propaganda Comes To Play

So I'm checking the movies again, in case Dr. Skull and I might have time to see one this evening.

You'll remember we saw Snowpiercer at our local indie theater last week -- that's about the only hope we have of seeing anything interesting or decent in this town.  We saw Philomena there on Christmas day; and Bella played there, though we didn't get a chance to see it.

But right now, guess what's playing in our town -- I mean, you know, besides the usual Things Blow Up blockbusters like Transformers 15 and Purge 2, and X-Men Who Cares?

America: Why You Should Hate Obama.



Heaven Is For Real.

Glenn Beck's We Will Not Conform.

The Persecuted: Why MURICA Hates Jesus and All True Xtians.


And up until a few weeks ago, we STILL had God is (Not) Dead playing on two screens here.  I kid you not.  (I wish I was kidding you.)

Ai.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Conservative Fiction

I'm just gonna submit this shit without comment, y'all.

Well, one comment.  This is what they consider their best.

They're proud of this.

Rapping With Sylvia Spruck Wrigley, RSonic, and Crossed Genres Press

So, check this.

Y'all might remember this story, from our Flash Fiction issue, "Space Travel Loses Its Allure When You've Lost Your Moon Cup," by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley.

One of my favorites, by the way.

Anyway!  Rsonic, whose webpage is here, has written a rap about the story.

Totally NSFW, as Sylvia warns!


Sunday, July 13, 2014

First Job

Over at Whatever, Scalzi talks about his first job, as well as what it was paid (and what the same job pays now), and invites others to do the same.  This post was inspired by a blog called the Billfold doing a column in which people answer that same question.  (Which is pretty interesting, by the way.)

Anyway!  My first real job was working the desk at Tulane Medical Library in 1983, about three months after I graduated from the University of New Orleans with a B.A. in English.  It took three months to find an actual job -- I spent about six weeks of that time working at a deli in the mall* -- because this was during the Reagan years, when it was Mourning in America.

My starting pay was just over ten thousand a year, and (I think because I worked for Tulane Medical School) I paid into the state retirement system, which meant I didn't pay into Social Security.  I had no idea what this meant at the time; what it turned out to mean was that, when I quit three years later to go to graduate school, the state paid me (either some or all, I don't remember which) of that money back as a flat fee, rather than fund any of my eventual retirement.

According to the BLS Inflation Calculator, ten thousand dollars in 1983 money is about $24,000 now.  It seemed like a ton of money then, when I was single and with no kids, living with my parents and saving up money for graduate school.  Within a year, as well, they had raised me to $14,000/year, which is $32, 000/year.  Also I had health insurance, full dental, and one day's vacation plus one day's sick leave a month.

Looking back, it was a hella job.  Except it was also hella boring, and the librarians there were mean as wild hogs.

                                                    *** **** ***

Now the first actual paying job I ever had was when I was either eight or nine -- I can't actually remember which.  It paid four dollars a month.  I had to fold and distribute these newsletters around our neighborhood.  It was also hella boring. This would have been 1968 or 1969.

The inflation calculator tells me four dollars in 1968 had more than $25.00 worth of spending power.  And I do believe that, because four dollars seemed a lot of money to me in those days.  But I also remember feeling it was not at all enough money, especially since my older brother got seven dollars (because he was my boss; he had contracted the job, see, and hired me on) for the same work.

So I conducted my very first slow-down strike, refusing to conduct the work in a timely fashion.  Eventually my father had to negotiate between us.  I demanded a raise. I wanted equal pay for equal work.  My brother the boss refused to grant it.

(He was only a year older than me, so he wasn't doing any more work than me; and I'll also state that he had not gotten this job himself -- my father had gotten it for him, and advised him about the politics of contracting out the work to his employees, me and my little brother, for less pay. Foolishly, he advised him about all this in front of me.  I think this might be the moment I became a radical.)

My father instructed me I had a choice at this point.  I could accept the lower pay or I could quit.

"Fine," I said.  "I quit."

He stared at me, utterly astonished.

"You can pass out your own papers," I told my brother, and got up and left the negotiating table (our dining room table).

This was not the last time, I think, that I would take my father by surprise.  Though I don't know why -- his labor force, after all, had nothing much to lose. I didn't have kids to feed or rent to pay; I wasn't even saving up for a bicycle.  My only vice was fiction, and the local library was free.

Real-world oppressors, obviously, do a much better job.




*And I also interviewed for about 90 other jobs, including jobs at gas stations, and one where I would have been poodle-skirt wearing roller-skating cocktail waitress** at a bowling alley, I kid you not.

** I double-dog dare anyone to do fan-art of this.



Saturday, July 12, 2014

Snowpiercer: Review


Well, as all y'all who are long-time readers here know, I loves me a story about a revolution.  And Science Fiction is my thing.

So I had high hopes for Snowpiercer, which is the tale of the oppressed, downtrodden proles of a near-future dystopia rising up in the attempt to seize (literally, in this case) control of the world from those in power.

I won't say I was entirely disappointed -- the movie was fun.  I will say But.

Here's your premise, in case you've been living in a cave and haven't heard of the movie.  (It's been big news in the SF world for about a year.)

Somewhere around now (2014, in other words), the world undergoes a global climate shift.  But -- surprise -- it isn't overheating.  It's global freezing.  Everyone freezes to death, instantly, apparently, except the people who managed to board the train of Wilford, a comic-book supergenius on the order of Tony Stark who has invented a self-sustaining train that circumnavigates the globe, once each year.

Those who bought tickets are ticket holders -- either first class or (I guess, though this isn't covered in the film) working class.  Those who couldn't buy tickets live in the tail section, and pay with their children and their labor, very like the proletariat of Rome.  They are repaid with barely edible protein slop, squalid living conditions, and brutal oppression; and they are reminded that they should be grateful, since they are lucky to be on the train at all.



Rebellions are apparently frequent, and brutally suppressed, but another is brewing at the opening of the film -- Curtis and his sidekick, along with several others, are forming a plan to break out of the tail section and move through the train, right up to the front, where they will kill Wilford and take the Engine.



So far so good.

And the rebellion, when it comes, is fast-paced, with nice reversals and fight scenes and very effective scenes.   The journey through the train, in which we get to see the light and luxury of those in the front compared to the misery of those in the tail, is also nice.

But.  Here's my but.

(1) A lot of whack, and very little actual science.  For instance, the great global freeze is explained by something that sounds very much like Chemtrails.  Please.  And the train runs by a perpetual motion machine, apparently, which "everyone" in 2014 was Too Stupid to believe would work. Also, we're shown people frozen instantly, like frozen standing in place, flash-frozen.  A planet that cold is a planet where the train as we see it would not be functional.

(2) Not enough economics.  Even assuming the can-opener, I mean the perpetual motion machine, how, exactly, is this train feeding all these people?  We do apparently have a working class, but where are the grain fields to grow the grain that feeds those cattle?  What are all those chickens eating?  I am willing to believe in a cattle car or two filled with cattle and chicken, but what are they eating?  I would like a little more explanation about that.

(3) The ending.  What a disappointing ending.  I won't give spoilers, and I realize it's hard to write endings for revolutions, but wow.

Anyway, it was fun to watch, so maybe crank down your expectations?  Go to a matinee?  Rent it on Netflix?

Or read the graphic novel, instead, which i09 says is better, though less revolutionary.

Update: A further objection, very spoiler-rific, which occurred to me as I was driving to my writing group this afternoon, is in the comments.

Update #2: I can't believe I forgot to talk about the woman characters.  Although yes I can, because, very forgettable.  Which is to say, while there are women in this movie, it barely passed the Bechdel test.  Only a couple of them are named, and of those, only two talk to each other, briefly (one threatens the other).

Women in this movie are stock figures only (Strong Black Mother, Crazy Female Aide, Cute Aisan Daughter/ Magical Aisan Chick), existing only as background and to support the men.

Again, it looks as though in the graphic novel, the women characters might be better served?



Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Hey Guess WHAT?

My kid took those exams today, y'all.

Those big news exams we've been studying for -- well, she's been studying for -- since May.

The ones that she had to pass to get into high school: Algebra I, Physical Science, Civics, English I.

(The ones where I whined recently that half of Civics was Economics and what sense did that make?  Yeah, those.)

And did she pass them?

Did she?

Oh, baby, she killed'em.  She didn't just pass them, she left them behind rolling in the dust.  You couldn't even see those exams in her rear view mirror.

I've got me a brilliant, hard-working little scholar here.

Who plans to do online comics but that's okay too.



Sunday, July 06, 2014

The Kitten Trap


Our second cat, Junti, used to be our kitten.





Now that Junti is a cat...





...the kid says it's time for a new kitten.  That's what she said when Jasper -- who used to be our kitten...



...became our cat.




This is a trap, isn't it?



Friday, July 04, 2014

Hugo Voting!

I have put in my Hugo ballot!

The only one I had serious trouble with was the Best Fan Writer, where I had to decide between

  • Liz Bourke
  • Kameron Hurley
  • Foz Meadows
  • Abigail Nussbaum
Seriously.  Who am I supposed to pick as best, and then second best, and then third best, and the fourth best, from THAT list?

They're all the best.

And the ballot doesn't let you rank them all as #1, sadly.


Thursday, July 03, 2014

Crossed Genres Issue 19 is Live!

The new issue of Crossed Genres is up -- Flash fiction this month, and some really strong stories.

Of special interest to me, as the mother of a sixteen year old, is that our Spotlight author this month is sixteen years old.  (The Spotlight author is the author we publish every month who is making, with this publication, their first professional sale.)

: FLASH FICTION (JULY 2014)

Mamihlapinatapei
by Rachael K. Jones
Ashes to Ashes
by Jes Rausch
Loving Armageddon
by Amanda C. Davis
Cecille and her Sister
by Maya Surya Pillay
A Visit from the Hag
by Kate Hall
Birth
by Joyce Chng
Under the Bed
by Effie Seiberg
Harvestfruit
by JY Yang
The Ancestors
by Laurie Tom
What We’ve Lost, Sometimes
by Karen Bovenmyer
The Pumpkin-Carving Contest
by Dayle A. Dermatis
What Came Last
by Lindsey M. Sheehan
The Seeds of Foundation
by Pedro Iniguez
Spotlight interview:
Maya Surya Pillay
.

.