horses

August 2, 2021

Happiness is turning on the TV just to see what they’re actually showing on the Olympics and catching the show jumping phase of the Three-Day Eventing competition. True story: I used to do that back in high school. Well, no, not exactly that. At my level they call it Combined-Training Eventing and we did it all in one day and the jumps were only 2’9″.

Basically the equivalent of your local 5k fun run versus Olympic marathon.

But still.

Anyway.

The horse I’m taking dressage lessons on now competes at the same skill level as the Olympic dressage horses. I’m learning a ton. I’m not anywhere near there as a rider myself.

But I do get a bit frustrated that the one category of sports I know ANYTHING about hardly gets any mainstream coverage.

Olympics and Loki

July 26, 2021

I mean, not the Olympics and Loki together, though I would pay good money to see that.

I had meant to post something last week and totally didn’t. I’m going through a bit of a phase shift, mood wise and functionality wise, and it’s been kind of marvelous and I’m still assessing it. I’m not totally sure it’s pandemic related — life creeping a little back toward normal. Rather, I cleared a couple of big things off my plate and my mind and it’s felt great. As a result, productivity has ramped up — I weeded my yard for the first time all summer, plus gotten a bunch of other stuff done.

I felt so good about my productivity that I spent all weekend in my pj’s watching the Olympics and didn’t even feel guilty about it.

Longtime blog readers will know how much I love the Olympics, even knowing how much of a political and logistical trashfire they can be. I love the spirit and multiculturalism of it all.

But I gotta tell you, it’s weird this year. There’s a vague sense of impending disaster that might be misplaced but is still there. The lack of cheering crowds is surreal. The coverage is including stories of horrifically difficult training situations, given the lockdowns of the last year. Everybody looks just a little bit extra tired. Or maybe that’s me, projecting.

Anyway. I just want everyone to stay healthy.

Current TV: “Loki” and “The Bad Batch,” which continues “The Clone Wars'” tradition of giving us a kids’ show about incipient fascism. Timely, I suppose. I wasn’t emotionally prepared for two whole episodes about kid Hera, though. Oof, right in the feels, as they say.

Of course I really enjoyed “Loki,” for the most part. Weird and crazy and complicated and different. I loved every single actor and watching them play off each other. Right up until the last episode, in which the characters literally sat in chairs and explained the plot to each other. That…wasn’t good. It was like having a good run and then crashing into a wall, and I’m not knowledgable enough about the comics to be excited about Kang. My friend played me this to get me up to speed, so now I pass it along to you.

But I’ll forgive them because they gave us Alligator Loki, the hero we truly deserve in these trying times.

Black Widow

July 19, 2021

Okay, so, I didn’t actually make it to a movie theater for this. Long story. So my friends and I broke down and watched it at the home of the friend who has the 65″ TV. With White Russian cocktails on hand, naturally.

Now, on to the film.

The Short Review:  So wait, is this like Mirror Universe Incredibles?

Yes, the best parts of the movie were very much like a Mirror Universe Incredibles, with this weird dysfunctional superfamily that somehow still manages to come together. I’m really glad nobody got killed off because it would be nice to see the family again at some point.

Other than that, and I hate to say it, but the movie is kind of a mess. A series of McGuffins stringing together a series of action set pieces, which is fine. But you know, we’re going to roll a car in this scene, so a couple of scenes later we’re going to roll a car and have it plunge down the steps of a subway. Action scene inflation.

And the climactic confrontation was so, so very dumb, it just pissed me off.

Spoilers Ahoy!

When Natasha confronts the big bad, Dreykov, the sadistic mastermind behind the Red Room training regime that produces unstoppable women assassins, she discovers she is physically unable to kill him – because of a “pheromone trigger.” The women are all conditioned so that smelling his pheromones makes them incapable of harming him.

Like…that isn’t how that works? That’s not how any of that works? But okay, I’ll give it to you if it goes someplace interesting.

Where it goes:  Turns out Natasha knew about this ahead of time and was told she needs to sever the nasal nerve so she can no longer smell him. So Natasha breaks her own nose, to sever the nerve I guess?

And I’m thinking…you could have just, like, shoved kleenex up your nostrils? Or, I don’t know, you’ve got these super high tech face masks that completely change your face, and tiny ear comms, and amazing weapons, and…maybe someone could have rigged up some kind of pheromone filter that fits in your nostrils? Or picked up high-grade filter breathers from Home Depot? Or shot Dreykov from the doorway before smelling him? But no. Natasha smashes her face into a desk to break her nose. And then fixes it herself later, which I guess unsevers the nerve? I dunno.

This is about the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen in a Marvel movie. I’m embarrassed for whoever came up with this. It’s like the filmmakers went with their first idea and just didn’t think it through. At all.

And now, my deconstruction of this film’s take on kick-ass women.

Every single woman character in this film is a brainwashed/conditioned from childhood assassin. All of them. (With the possible exception of the post-credits scene, which I’m not actually counting, because I mean really.)

One of my least favorite tropes is the one that says that in order to be kick-ass and physically aggressive, a woman has to be traumatized. Every single woman in this film has been traumatized. There’s no alternative.

I mean, sure, it’s about empowerment. Natasha wants to destroy the Red Room to free all the abused women, her sisters-in-spirit. She wants them all to be able to make their own choices, to live the lives they want to live. She says this all the way through the movie.

So what do both Natasha and Yelena do with their freedom, what choices do they make once they’re free of the Red Room? They continue being murderous assassins.

Natasha’s distinctive black fighting togs, and her red Black Widow symbol that has been her own personal trademark as part of the Avengers, for the last decade? Turns out all the Red Room assassins wear similar black fighting suits, they’re all called widows, and they all use that symbol.

Natasha has been wearing the uniform and symbol of her oppressors all this time. Everything we thought was distinctly Natasha’s actually isn’t, it turns out.

I kept thinking about Wonder Woman, which also features a special cadre of amazing kick-ass women, but the difference in tones is…breathtaking. The Amazons of Wonder Woman are joyously empowered, celebrating their strength and abilities, in service to their own cause. And this film shows us other ways women can be brilliant and empowered, through Etta Candy and Dr. Poison.

In Black Widow, the cadre of kick-ass women is tragic, victimized, controlled, oppressed. And as much as I dearly love Natasha, her own tragic character arc raises the question of whether their liberation is even possible.

I wish someone behind this movie had thought some of these things through.

baby steps

July 16, 2021

This week, I’m reminded again that baby steps are important. Some is better than none.

15 minutes of yoga is better than no yoga.

“Weed the yard” is too big, but “weed just this section” is doable. (I haven’t weeded all summer. It’s a problem. So instead of “weed the yard” I’m now working on “spend half an hour weeding this section” and that seems to be the trick.)

500 crappy words written is better than no words.

So annoying that I seem to have to relearn this lesson every couple years or so.

This Thursday, Strong Women Strange Worlds is hosting a reading — and I’m one of the participants!

Sign up at this link.

I’ll be reading a bit from QUESTLAND. “See” you there!

movies!

July 8, 2021

So, er… I haven’t actually been watching any, really. I know they’re out there. I know there’s some big budget SF blockbuster type things coming out. But I haven’t really been paying attention like I used to.

It’s been a year and four months since I’ve been in a movie theater. I’m completely out of the habit of checking to see what’s playing. I have no idea.

And I gotta tell you, I’m not ready to go to a packed evening showing on opening weekend. Not on a bet.

But Black Widow is finally, finally here, and that’s the one I’d like to return to the theater to see.

At 10 am on a weekday, probably.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

state of the desk

July 5, 2021

I actually need to figure out the state of the desk and what I’m going to be working on for the rest of the year. Huh, weird.

I’ve just gave my agent the revision of the novel I started in March. That’s four months, from start to second draft. Not sure I’ve ever written a story this size that quickly.

In that time I didn’t work on much else — one short story, I think. Interesting to see what I can do if I just put my head down and go. I learned some things, writing this one.

Now to see if anyone likes it.

And maybe go for a walk to clear the mind.

June?

June 29, 2021

And… now June is almost finished. Like, after tomorrow, the year is halfway over.

I’m trying to remember that the measure of time is an arbitrary imposition of human patterning on the natural world.

It’s not working.

This last year is has really messed with my sense of time. I keep thinking, Oh yeah, QUESTLAND is coming out next summer!

Dude. Sweetie.

This is next summer. Right now. Use it or lose it.

In birding news: I found an oriole nest with babies in it. I didn’t see them but they were LOUD. So much joy.

my dice!

June 25, 2021

In an effort to establish my gaming cred…BEHOLD, my dice collection.

It turns out I like little tiny dice. Mini dice. SO CUTE.

But my faves are probably the tiny D6’s, which are made of wood. Very old school, and perfect for D6 systems. Showing my age here but my favorite system is still probably the old West End Games Star Wars system. So simple and intuitive. Good stuff.

happy Questland day!

June 22, 2021

QUESTLAND is out today! Finally! It feels like this one took a really long time to get to this point.

How long, you ask? Well.

I’ve mentioned in a couple of interviews that I’ve been thinking of this story for a very long time, and had an early novella version that I ended up trunking. And how weirdly enough, the story is much more topical and relevant than it ever was before, what with the mainstreaming of geek culture and the rise of the eccentric tech billionaire and so on, so it’s probably good it’s coming out now rather than then.

I got curious, so I dug into my archives to figure out just how long I’ve had this idea, and how long I’ve been working on it. Drum roll, please:

March 2003.

That’s the date of the file that has Addie as the main character, working with ex-special forces mercenaries to infiltrate a fantasy island. The story changed a lot in the interim, as most stories do. But the opening scene of that file is in QUESTLAND, rewritten at the prose level but pretty much the same in terms of plot.

Eighteen years. No wonder it doesn’t quite feel real, that this story is finally out in the wild.

Whew.