Category Archives: Personal

Wisp in repose

So Wisp is now comfortable sleeping next to me on the couch while I work, at least some of the time.

She is not, however, comfortable with my exercise routine. Tuesday, I decided to complete my morning exercises while Wisp was eating breakfast, and she stopped and stared. Even when I did ones that didn’t jar the floor like the jumping jacks do, the unexpected behavior made her very uneasy so she went to the door and waited to be let out. A challenge, as she’s going to have to get used to our antics to be comfortable as an inside or inside/outside cat.Now that she’s eating a lot of breakfast inside, I realize she stalks it. Crouches down and skulks over from being petted as if the food was going to get up and run if it saw her. It’s most amusing.

As for the dogs, Plushie is recovering well. In fact, he’s reached the point where he thinks he’s fine and wants to run around and be a regular healthy dog again. We are restricting that, at least until his appointment next week. He doesn’t approve. Trixie’s itching and the corresponding self-chewing have resurfaced; apparently the shot she got in early August wore off and the dermaquin ain’t fixing the problem. We’ll take her in when Plushie gets his checkup and have them give her another anti-itch shot. In the meantime she’s stuck in the collar of shame. It’s the only way she won’t chew herself, which may have something to do with why she got an upset tummy Thursday — lord knows what she’s chewing off her feet.

The collars we use are stiffened fabric which works very well. It’s less jarring than the hard plastic ones when they bump into anything and the narrowed field of vision seems to calm them a lot. Still, I hope we can remove them soon.#SFWApro. Photos are mine.

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The agony and the ecstasy!

The agony this week was from Plushie. As I mentioned last Friday, he was having trouble with his back legs so we took him in to the vet. Turns out his left back patella has popped out, which is what happened to Trixie earlier this year. The vet sent him home with painkillers and orders to keep him resting, which had TYG wondering why they weren’t bringing up surgery.

It wasn’t good. Plushie has zero pain tolerance so he was whimpering like crazy, chewing on the injured leg as if that would get out the pain and waking us up in the middle of the night. And leaving blood from his chewed foot in his crate or on our bedsheets. Monday I took him in again for his foot; the vet said he seems to be having some kind of allergic skin reaction (it’s happened before) so she shot him up with antibiotics and anti-itch and sent us home with some other meds.While he is still a little too keen to chew — we’re keeping him in the cone of shame for now — he’s much better, and sleeping through the night. His leg is improving fast; even given he’s on painkillers, it surprised us after Trixie that he’s able to take a few steps around the yard. It’s almost like the vet knew what they were doing when they said surgery wasn’t their recommendation. So things improved steadily during the weak. And let’s face it, he looks adorable in his fabric cone. Which has the fringe benefit that he’s less likely to jump off the bed with his range of vision limited.Now the ecstasy: Saturday, despite Plushie’s problems, we agreed to dog-sit for Lily — a Habanese we’ve cared for before — and her younger “brother” Tito the toy poodle. Lily’s a sweet, gentle dog; Tito is a bundle of energy.

Having them over was an absolute blast: Trixie hasn’t played with them in a while and they had much fun being able to romp and chase off-leash. Some photos:I got crap done Saturday, but I consider that acceptable.

#SFWApro. Photos are mine.

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Farewell, Dame Diana

So as you’ve probably heard, Dame Diana Rigg passed away last week. Which got me reflecting how much I insanely, madly crushed on Emma Peel in The Avengers as a kid.

Emma Peel was awesome. Intelligent (one episode established she had a higher IQ than Steed). Fearless. Able to take down the toughest foe with her bare hands. And gorgeous — even before I met TYG, I liked dark-haired beautiful women. I’m quite sure my crush was based mostly on her looks, but I don’t think it would have been so intense — certainly not as long-lasting — if she’d been a bimbo or simply Steed’s girlfriend. She was also an excellent actor, playing a chillingly ruthless Regan to Laurence Olivier’s Lear in a 1983 TV-movie. She’s delightful (and yes, beautiful) as a female reporter and early 20th century reporter in The Assassination Bureau and Vincent Price’s deadly daughter in Theatre of Blood. She was funny in an early 1970s sitcom, Diana — British professional working in the U.S. — though the series didn’t last.

She was also a big influence on X-Men, via an episode A Touch of Brimstone slugged in the UK’s TV Times as “Steed joins the Hellfire Club and Emma becomes a queen of sin.” I was too sick to stay up and watch when it originally aired but even at eight years old I knew “queen of sin” sounded awfully er, interesting. And yes, it was.Still is (I did see it eventually). And this episode had a huge influence on the Hellfire Club arc in the Chris Claremont/John Byrne era of X-Men, particularly how Byrne drew Jean Grey during her brief time as the Club’s Black Queen:Jason Wyngarde whom you see in that scene was modeled on Peter Wyngarde, the Hellfire Club’s leader in the Avengers episode.

#SFWApro. Comics art by John Byrne; all rights to images remain with current holders.

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Filed under Comics, Movies, Personal, TV

A somewhat chaotic week, but a productive one.

Although today was pretty much a mess.

I got about a third of the way through the abortion/birth control chapter of Undead Sexist Cliches. I watched E.T. for Alien Visitors, as well as the special features on the DVD (I usually skip them when it’s a Netflix DVD, but they proved useful for my Aliens and Children chapter). I got my Leafs done, and a little bit of work on Questionable Minds. I also got word that No One Can Slay Her made it out of the slush pile to the second round of reviews and so did Southern Discomfort at Baen Books. Neither of which means a sale — I know that from experience — but still, that’s good news. And I sold a couple of copies of Sex For Dinner, Death for Breakfast in a discussion of Bond on FB.

The dogs, however, ate up quite a bit of time. I took care of them Wednesday while TYG was working on something demanding and they proved, as they often do, a distraction (they’re much quieter sitting with her in the bedroom). Then early this morning, Plush dog woke up in some sort of pain, and wandered around the bedroom, with his back legs giving out a couple of times. As TYG had been up late and needed sleep, I took Plushie down with me to the living room (I was already up — bad night of sleep again). Normally I’d have tried drifting back to sleep but while Plushie seemed fine I was worried enough that I couldn’t bring myself to sleep. And caring for him meant I didn’t get any early morning work done, nor did I exercise. The rest of the day I was pretty dazed; I managed to finish my Leafs for the week, then it was pretty much sleep and blogging. I’ll be taking him to the vet later today. Prayers appreciated that it’s something simple to fix and definitely not seriously threatening.

Oh, and I published a blog post on Atomic Junkshop about the insane, illogical plot of Avengers #60 which worked for me as a teen but looks more ridiculous every time I reread it. But the John Buscema art never stops looking good, like this shot of the wedding reception.#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

Vacation, all I ever wanted!

So last weekend, TYG decided to take a vacation. That’s rare; being in IT, even when we take vacations she often works part of the time. But she’s been way busy lately so she decided to take the Labor Day weekend and most of Friday off. Of course, that didn’t affect our schedule much. We couldn’t go out to dinner (I didn’t think to do takeout), couldn’t go to a movie or a play — well you know how the game is played these days, right? I did pretty much the same things I’d do any weekend: bake bread, play with dogs, read, watch movies, clean a little. TYG did her own projects.

Even so, it was incredibly, amazingly refreshing. TYG was really relaxed and that just washed over me, I guess. It was much more relaxing than any holiday weekend in recent years and more than most of the solo out-of-town trips. Those are fun but I miss TYG a little, and feel somewhat guilty about sticking her with dogs. Neither an issue this weekend.

It didn’t hurt that the weather Sunday morning actually required long pants. I was able to get out my bicycle for the first time in a couple of months (next weekend I’ll need to oil it) which was fun too.

So a great weekend. I hope yours was too. To celebrate, here’s Sheldon Meyer’s Sugar and Spike having some holiday fun of their own.#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.

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So, goals for August

Fifty percent accomplished. Persistently succumbing to doing just one more Leaf … or two … or three … did not do my writing goals any favors. And I overshot my budget again, due to a medical bill or two and paying for Wisp’s vet care.

On the plus side, we did get Wisp to the vet, which was a goal we really needed to achieve. Unhappy as she was, she doesn’t seem to have taken it amiss at all; Monday she showed up, came in for breakfast and then sat in my lap.That’s a definite win for August.

#SFWApro.

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Wisp is our babe behind bars!

Yep, we did it! We caught Wisp and took her to the vet on Wednesday for a complete medical checkup, plus getting her microchipped. She’s really ours now (okay, she has been for a while). Unsurprisingly she didn’t like it any more than these women — luckily Wisp isn’t packing heat.It was quite a busy week for vet visits. We took Plush and Trixie in for some booster shots on Saturday, forgetting to give them painkiller first. They were miserable the rest of the day and on into the next morning. Plus Trixie wouldn’t pee or poop for the vets and Plushie wouldn’t poop so I had to bring in samples during the week. At least I combined the Plush poop delivery with bringing in Wisp.

I really had my doubts we could get her to go into the pet carrier while either of us was close, even with food inside. But just like last year, she suddenly started being more comfortable with me standing around. This morning, I did my best to look uninterested and stare off into the distance while Wisp crept into the carrier, then I spun and closed the door (fortunately she tucked her tail inside when I did, or I’d have had to leave it open). Game over! She made the most pitiable mews of misery all the way there and back.

As they had to sedate her, we were supposed to keep her inside and safe for 24 hours while the drugs wore off. Wisp, however, was not keen on this. When we released her in the living room (dogs securely upstairs) she went over to the French doors and tried to get out.We bought her off for a while with food and with petting, but ultimately I thought she’d be less stressed outside, so I opened the door. She was much calmer than last year, when she bolted out of sight, and eventually settled into a shady spot under the deck stairs. I do hope she’ll be okay, but we let her out last year and it turned out fine.

So that’s done. Woot! Next up, working to get her comfortable with being inside for long stretches, even if we can’t make her a totally inside cat.

Oh, and the vet says she’s in great shape: no worms, parasites, fleas, etc, everything in good shape, so we’ve been doing a good job. I’m quite happy to hear that.

#SFWpro. All rights to poster image remain with current holder.

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Filed under Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework

Brooding and counter-brooding

So my flash fiction Rabbits Indignateonem came back Saturday with a “Excellent piece, we enjoyed reading it but …” response. Which is nice, because compliments are always better than “that had massive flaws in it” (I get those sometimes) or a No without comments (got that on Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates midweek). But it’s not a sale. And always leaves me worried I’m good, but not quite good enough. That I can’t sell to better markets or more frequently or that I’ve just run out of steam; the last new story I sold was 2018 (two reprints from earlier sold this year). Thoughts of this nature make me broody.

But then again, part of that may be that I haven’t had that many new stories. 2015-16 I was working on Now and Then We Time Travel in addition to my Leaf work; 2017-18 I was doing Screen Rant and those eventually consumed much more time than when I started (hence no longer doing ’em). The past year I’ve put in a lot of time on Undead Sexist Cliches. And of course I was finishing up Southern Discomfort somewhere in the middle of that too.

If I had more stories out circulating, the odds one of them would find a publisher who likes one of them would go up (at least I hope so). I wouldn’t say that’s the only factor in play — I’m definitely not at the level of NK Jemisin or Robert Bloch — but it is a factor.

Once I finish Undead Sexist Cliches my slate will be a lot clearer for fiction. Still doing Leaf, and I have my upcoming Alien Visitors book for McFarland, but that won’t be as demanding as Now and Then .. was (much less ambitious). So, who knows? Perhaps I can elevate myself to at least selling semi-regularly again.

Fingers crossed.

Now, as to this week, it was moderately productive. Did my Leaf articles, and I got close to the end of Chapter Four of Undead Sexist Cliches, which has proven the toughest to organize. Unfortunately the temptation to do just a little more on that book kept me from working on either Questionable Minds or Alien Visitors (formerly titled Space Invaders). Next week I’ll start with them to make sure I put some time in. TYG’s work is going to be crazy for a while which will probably lead to extra dog care, but I’ve had practice working around that.

And unfortunately my cover artist for Questionable Minds, whom I was looking forward to working with, seems to have been sidelined by pandemic stress. No blame attached, this is a rough time for all of us (I’m obviously not finishing the book as fast as expected), but I am disappointed.

Oh, and I posted on Atomic Junkshop about Cast a Deadly Spell as a hardboiled PI movie (matching with my post here about the movie as urban fantasy).

#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.

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Filed under Now and Then We Time Travel, Personal, Screen Rant, Short Stories, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

The refrigerator didn’t use to be this crowded

But the Trump Virus fridge is another story. It’s difficult to find space when our latest deliveries arrive. Even with sliding shelves, it’s often difficult to get stuff out.It didn’t use to be like this. The fridge would be packed Friday night or Saturday morning when we made our shopping trip to Whole Foods or Sprouts. Then it would slowly open up during the week. Now, though, I keep slightly more milk, kefir and cheese on hand, among other things, just in case there’s a shortage. Which isn’t being overly cautious either — things I expect to buy sometimes turn up unavailable from Amazon or Target. TYG loves grated Parmesan and eats a lot of it on pasta, so we need a lot of it on hand (ditto feta, which is behind some of the items on top).

Another factor is that TYG is cooking quite a bit. She’s whipped up her own recipe for marinated grilled veggies with tofu, and so there’s always a big container in the fridge either marinating or grilled. Plus I cook my stuff, which TYG sometimes eats, but not always (depends on her schedule). The aluminum foil covers an apple pie, for instance.

Plus we both put in food orders rather than make one weekly shopping trip, so that sometimes leads to excess. Even with the pantry holding a lot of extra food, we’re almost at capacity. I may give some thought this weekend to seeing how we can rearrange things for better use of space.

But yes, this is a trivial problem to have these days.

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It was overall a good hand, but not the cards I expected

So after putting lots of extra effort into Leaf work the previous couple of weeks the latest cycle of articles ended last week. I figured I’d make up for the lost time on personal project this week … but to my surprise, the new cycle started up Monday. As I like making money, I immediately started claiming Leafs, but it was a little disappointing. My work on Impossible Takes a Little Longer Monday morning really felt good and I wanted more. However for the moment it’ll have to wait as Undead Sexist Cliches, Questionable Minds and my Alien Visitors film book come first.

Unfortunately, my sleep Monday – Wednesday night was for shit. The first two nights may be the Zoom writing meetings — I’m beginning to feel there’s something to the idea being on computers/phones in the hours before bedtime interferes with sleep. Wednesday night Trixie, who’s been very restless of late, paced up and down for a bit, clacking her claws on the hardwood floor. That woke me up and I couldn’t get back to sleep. As a result I didn’t get much done beyond Leaf, and some work on Chapter Four of Undead Sexist Cliches (feminism destroys families, education and the workplace!).

I thought I’d make up for that today a little, but today I woke up sick and draggy. No, doesn’t appear to be COVID-19, most likely it;s allergy-based (possibly because that morning I was coping with Wisp and Trixie, I forgot my meds). I know from experience the best treatment is simply to do nothing all day, and so I did.

On the plus side, I’m seeing a marked improvement in my juggling this week, and much better focusing in my meditation practice. So at least something of my own is getting done. And I did make money, which right now is very reassuring.

I’ll leave you with this uncredited cover (though a friend of mine says the art is by Emsh). #SFWApro, all rights to image remain with current holde.r

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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Nonfiction, Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing