Category Archives: Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book

My instincts were, unfortunately, correct

While the rule of thumb is that we shouldn’t be visiting the doctor if it isn’t necessary my teeth need more care than they used to so I went to the dentist for a cleaning Tuesday. Turned out I was right to go: I have a cavity but we’ll be able to fill it before it decays all the way to the nerve. Phew! That said, not at all looking forward to going back in next week.

Despite the dental visit, I managed to put in a full week of work, so recalibrating my schedule is still working. A lot more of it was watching movies for Alien Visitors than I’d planned; I’ll have to watch for that in the future. But I did get other stuff done: proofing footnotes for Undead Sexist Cliches; making it halfway through the final proof of Questionable Minds, plus talking with my cover designer; Leaf articles; and writing more of the text for Alien Visitors.

I’d planned to concentrate my Alien Visitors work so that I’d be watching movies about kids and aliens in a clump, then ET superheroes, alien invasion films, etc. Unfortunately the Netflix DVDs that were supposed to arrive Monday never appeared (I’ve requested replacements) so that threw me off and my viewing was rather random. I could have viewed most of the films on Amazon but they were all for a fee so I chose to wait for Netflix. Perhaps that was an error.

Oh, and I sent in my sales tax for the previous quarter. Annoyingly, the sale of one Amazon print-on-demand copy translates into a $1.66 payment but the minimum fee for paying sales tax online is $2. I lose money. Still, I’d sooner have the sale.

One of our neighbors was out of town this week so TYG or I walked her dog at lunch (the puppy sitter has to work during the day). Wednesday I came across a vulture disputing the rights to roadkill with a couple of crows. The vulture won.

#SFWApro.

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Another productive week, woot!

So far my recalibration effort has proven successful. Not perfect, but overall much more productive.

I finished Chapter Nine of Undead Sexist Cliches and the afterword which means … holy crap, I have completed this draft. It doesn’t seem quite real to say so. I still have to check footnotes; read the manuscript aloud one final time; and index. But that’s more like mopping up than writing. This will be a cool milestone once it registers that I’ve actually done it.

I got several chapters done on Questionable Minds, but not as many as I hoped. And man, 90,000 words is a lot to proof-read! Still, the journey of a thousand miles and so on …

I didn’t get much writing done on Alien Visitors but I watched some movies and TV for the book, and began breaking down the listed movies into the various categories. The Alien Invasion chapter has a really insane long list, of course (even given most of them will be just noted at the end), while other chapters are a lot lighter. I’ve no idea what to do about that yet; as I’m focusing on only one movie a chapter, maybe it doesn’t really matter. I also read a fair amount of a book on the history of UFOs that’s turning out to be quite good.

I also got my Leaf articles done, and did an over-the-phone tryout for a radio drama (no pay, but it should be fun).

Oh and Trixie’s rehab appointment shows she’s mostly in good shape. Her surgery is holding up but there’s a slight deterioration in her knee, so we need to reduce her jumping and running up stairs for a couple of months. And she’s now over 10 pounds, which is too heavy; it’s easy to forget but because she’s so small, a little treat can add up to a significant number of calories. But she can still take good long walks so that will help get some of the weight off, I hope.

Hard to believe she was a tiny five-pound dog back when we first met my little angel.

#SFWApro.

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Filed under Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

I celebrate the recalibrate

So as I said a week ago, I’m trying to run my schedule much more tightly to ensure I get everything done. My first week went well. If I didn’t allocate my time as precisely as I’d hoped, I still got more done on the Questionable Minds final draft and the footnotes for Undead Sexist Cliches than I have the past few weeks. To break it down:

•I completed my usual quota of Leaf articles. There was a problem because one of the finished ones got wiped from the database but the editors took care of it so I’ll get paid for it. I greatly appreciate that.

•I got about halfway through Chapter Nine of Undead Sexist Cliches and I finished proofing the footnotes to Chapter One.

•I got several chapters done on Questionable Minds. Annoyingly, Word kept doing random, arbitrary things to my document (shifting the justification for the whole thing when I only wanted to center one line, for instance) so I put the whole thing back into Scrivener. Then I’ll export it to Word when it’s done and see if that works better.

•I watched several more movies for Alien Visitors and got a good start on the ETs and Children chapter. It’s a tough one as the range is much wider than the focus of the ET pregnancy chapter, which concentrates on the rape aspect. Kid/ET movies range from the sweetness of E.T. to the nightmarish Invaders From Mars to the goofy teenagers of Pajama Party. Still, I’ll get it worked out.

That’s pretty good given I had to devote Tuesday afternoon to multiple errands: library books back, doggy meds picked up, eye doctor appointment, checks to deposit. That way I can give myself a thorough cleansing once for all the trips.

I’ve also taken over as organizer of the local Shut Up and Write Durham! meetup which is currently virtual. Our first organizer had to move away; the second ran out of steam; now my fellow writer Allegra Gullino and I will try to run it together. I’m not sure I set up next Monday’s meeting right, as it’s not visible on the site (I have to go to the link for the specific meeting) but we’ll get it figured out.

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

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Recalibrating myself like a precision timepiece!

So I accomplished about 50 percent of my goals for September which is pretty much where I’ve been running for most of this crazy year. My biggest disappointment is that I went way over budget due to the various dog and cat vet bills. On the other hand, there was a time when if I went over budget I actually went negative; that I’m not in that financial space any more is pretty cool.

Writing went pretty well. I didn’t get very far on Questionable Minds but I rewrote Chapter Eight of Undead Sexist Cliches, the Alien Pregnancy chapter of Alien Visitors and watched a ton of movies. I did not get as far as I wanted proofing the Undead Sexist Cliches footnotes (though I have found several errors, demonstrating that I’m not wasting my time) for the same reason my Questionable Minds work was slow: I save that for the end of the day and I frequently wind up dealing with the dogs at that point. And they’re hyper. So focus goes away.

Plus I got my quota of Leaf articles and blogged at Atomic Junkshop about how much of the Superman mythos I grew up with got tested out first in the pages of Superboy. Case in point, Bizarro. And as my Shut Up and Write! meetup group seems to have died, I’m looking at reviving it with a friend of mine as co-organizer.

So for next month I’m going to try running a very tight ship. I’ve planned out my schedule including vet and doctor appointments and I’ve been much more precise in what I’m doing in each period. Out of two writing sessions a week on Alien Visitors, one will be watching movies, one will be writing the chapters. With Undead Sexist Cliches, one session will be working on Chapter Nine, one will be footnotes, reading the early chapters aloud and such. That was I should get the work done even if the dogs bedevil me. The more progress I make, the sooner I can get back to doing some fiction.

I’m not as good at multi-tasking as I used to be so trying to write while I’m watching films doesn’t go well. Instead I’ll use the time for things I can do: exercise, cooking, baking bread, maybe writing bills. That’ll squeeze a little more time out of the day.

When I was younger I used to obsessively micromanage my time this way, but I don’t feel like that this time. I feel relaxed and reasonably confident I can make this work. We’ll see if I’m right.

#SFWApro. All rights to cover (by Curt Swan) remain with current holder.

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Filed under Nonfiction, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

Yesterday, I played hooky

I had to drive to the doctor Thursday morning for my flu shot. I combined that with dropping off library books and running an errand for TYG. By the time I got back I just didn’t feel like working, so I stopped. I didn’t even attempt to justify it with anything productive, I just sat and read the rest of the day. Felt good, even though it meant I once again got nothing done on Questionable Minds.

Well in fairness that’s not just because of yesterday. The dogs have been getting fidgety in the middle afternoon, so I take custody from TYG. Unfortunately they were consistently too fidgety — maybe because of confinement? — and I couldn’t get any of the little odds and ends done that I schedule for late afternoon (extra work on Questionable Minds, checking footnotes for Undead Sexist Cliches). If it keeps happening next week I may just stop work and resume in the evening.

That said, I did finish Chapter Eight of Undead Sexist Cliches, and I got a lot of work done on the Alien Pregnancy chapter of Alien Visitors. I will have to watch myself, though — it would be very easy to just fill up my writing time with watching movies even though this book is supposed to be less labor-intensive than my previous ones.

And of course, I got my Leaf work in, and blogged at Atomic Junkshop about Joe Simon’s bizarro 1970s series Prez (a rewritten version of an earlier post here).And now the weekend! Even if I’m not going anywhere or really doing much, it feels good to get here.

#SFWApro. Cover by Jerry Grandenetti, all rights remain with current holder.

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Filed under Nonfiction, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

Rethinking the scope

Despite Plushie’s problems this week and the related exhaustion, it was productive. Got my Leafs done. Got almost to the end of Chapter Eight of Undead Sexist Cliches (I’m pleased I didn’t try to force a finish and took breaks when I needed to). Added several extra examples to the earlier chapters, such as Gregg Easterbrook arguing the woman saying no doesn’t make it rape — she has to say something like “This is rape!” which will make guys stop (I am … skeptical) and is completely unambiguous. As noted at the link, if people refuse to accept an unambiguous no, why wouldn’t they think a woman says “rape!” when she means yes?

I got two rejections Wednesday but at least one of them was a nice “We liked it but we don’t have room.” That’s encouraging. But sigh, not a sale.

And I watched multiple movies for Alien Visitors, which has forced me to reconsider just how much work I need to put in. My initial thought was that with one movie/TV show/movie series to watch per chapter, this would be relatively low-intensity. But this week, for the ET pregnancy chapter, I watched Village of the Damned, Children of the Damned, the 1995 Village remake and started on 2019’s School of the Damned (I’ll get to the reviews in the next week or two). Plus writing the chapter. Which is a roundabout way of saying that I may need to do more and watch more than I’d initially thought. It’s true, The Astronaut’s Wife will be noted in the appendix rather than the heart of the chapter, but will seeing it help me understand the subgenre better? What about the excellent TV movie The Stranger Within? I don’t have the time to watch everything in every chapter but how much do I need to place a movie in context?

I’m confident I’ll figure it out, though this may be more demanding than I thought. But fortunately, even with an October deadline next year I should be able to get the work done without blowing off any of my other projects. Fingers crossed.

#SFWApro. All rights to image from 1960 Village of the Damned remain with current holder.

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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

When did things go wrong, they lament, never stopping to think they’re the ones who went wrong.

In a column a couple of years back, Michelle Goldberg admitted she felt sorry for the lower level harassers slammed by #metoo, the “schmoes whose gross behavior was tacitly accepted by those around them until, suddenly, it wasn’t. I can only imagine how disorienting it must be to have the rules change on you so fast, to have your reputation obliterated in an instant.” (Don’t get the wrong idea, her sympathy does not mean she excuses them).

Working on Undead Sexist Cliches I see this a lot. Placido Domingo has argued that his long history of harassment looks bad now because standards have changed. Similarly Isaac Asimov did a lot of his groping back in the days when this was, as Greenberg said, something that was tacitly accepted by a lot of men, as long as it wasn’t your girlfriend or wife (both he and Domingo kept at long after standards changed though). Women, though? As one of his victims responded, there’s never been a time women thought being groped or harassed was okay. What’s changed is that more people take the women’s side. Not only that, more people (not enough yet) think they should take the woman’s side and that the man should be punished. Which is what truly unsettles the men, I think: it’s not just that a woman might slap your face for grabbing her, it’s that you can actually suffer consequences for it.

As Fred Clark points out, that’s part of a bigger shift in morality within my lifetime. When I was born, dirty jokes were shameful, dropping the F-bomb was awful and premarital sex was something you didn’t admit to; Dan Wakefield, in New York in the Fifties, says that back then if you made love to someone at their apartment, you left very early in the morning so nobody in the building would be up and (shudder) realize you were making the walk of shame. Segregation and treating black people like shit? Groping or otherwise harassing your secretary? Hiring a white man over a better-qualified woman or person of color? These didn’t have universal support even back then but they were endorsed by many, tacitly accepted by many more.

And then things changed. The sexual revolution, women’s liberation, Stonewall, the Civil Rights movement. Suddenly living together before marriage and being openly not a virgin — or even gay and not a virgin — were acceptable. Keeping blacks out of your neighborhood or refusing service to a gay couple? Not acceptable. As Clark says, “for many Americans this change was bewildering and infuriating. It was — and is — especially traumatic for those who had previously regarded themselves and their institutions as the standard-bearers of traditional morality. A hard-won, massive change in our cultural perception of right and wrong required an equally massive change in their sense of identity, and humans’ sense of identity isn’t receptive to massive changes.” And so they continue to insist on traditional morality. They insist that traditional morality was an unambiguously higher morality because now we have SEX everywhere! That traditional morality approved of Jim Crow and multiple other injustices — marital rape was legal, gay sex was illegal, some states outlawed contraception, women could be denied credit if their husband didn’t co-sign — doesn’t change their opinion. Either going back to that is an acceptable trade-off to get rid of SEX or they really do think the good old days of white male supremacy were a better way to live.

Trump supporters keep saying that if Biden wins, it won’t be the America they grew up in. If they’re my age, that’s a good thing. That America was not a better place. Not being that America any more is a good thing.

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This would be a great time hack if it only worked

Used to be that when I woke up early I would do some writing, then start my normal morning routine (meditation, stretching, yoga, exercise, breathing exercises). Trouble was, I usually wanted to sleep by that point which means I often just stretch out or yoga it (stretching is essential for my comfort, the rest is disposable).

So the past couple of weeks I’ve tried a new approach: get up, have tea while I read, then launch my morning routine early, then start writing when I finish. It should give me a jump on the day, and if TYG and the dogs get up early, I don’t have to work my exercise around them (Trixie loves demanding attention when I exercise. The exercise usually loses). But somehow when I get a normal night’s sleep — unusually this week, I did that consistently — it doesn’t happen. Either TYG and the dogs wake up and I’m occupied with them, or Wisp wants in (adorable though she is), or there’s this narrow window of time that I don’t use productively. So I don’t gain as much breathing room as I’d like. But I do get the meditation and other stuff done, so it’s not a total washout either.

I did have a productive week, or 3/5 of a week. I finished the sexual harassment chapter of Undead Sexist Cliches, rewrote Chapter Three of Impossible Takes a Little Longer for reading at the Tuesday night SF group, read The Midwich Cuckoos (as it’s the basis for several alien-invader movies, it’s a good kickoff to my Alien Visitors research) and edited several chapters of Questionable Minds. I hoped to get more work done, but Thursday Plushie began mysteriously whimpering in pain — not consistently but it was clear something was wrong, which didn’t lend itself to creative thought. Today was oriented around watching him until we could get a vet appointment; nothing obviously wrong, so they’re just sending him home with painkillers for now. We’ll see how it goes in the coming week. Man I hate unexplained dog problems!

That left me too fragmented for creative thought so I squeezed out some extra Leaf work. If I can’t make art, I can at least make money. And hey, I had a better week than this guy did!#SFWApro. Art by Dick Dillin, all rights to image remain with current holder.

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

Marrying young and starting a baby boom: Homeward Bound

Amazon recommended HOMEWARD BOUND: American Families in the Cold War Era by Elaine Tyler May to me when I was searching for research books for Alien Visitors. It’s no good for that but it’s a much better book than Welcome to Mars and a good resource for Undead Sexist Cliches.

While a lot of conservatives hold up the 1950s as the embodiment of traditional America, May shows it was actually an anomaly, an era when women married younger than ever before (there was a shit ton of teen sex going on but much of it was within the bounds of wedlock), stayed home and produced enough children to launch the baby boom. Women with professional training declared homemaking and motherhood would be their careers and threw themselves into it with a vengeance. Working moms who neglected their kids (it was assumed all working moms neglected their kids) created juvenile delinquents; moms who were too devoted to their kids created homosexual wimps (there was no winning; one woman quoted snarks that “the poor mother has been made to replace God in her omnipotence.”). Women who got college educations didn’t have enough kids, threatening social stability (a lot of the “stupid people outbreed smart people” rhetoric of the era was specifically focused on smart women not prioritizing babymaking).

May see the 1950s dream life of a house in the suburbs, kids, a stay-at-home wife and a great sex life as stemming from multiple sources. A good life with lots of consumer goods embodied American superiority over communism; where the USSR held up its women as proud professionals and workers, Americans exalted the feminine delicacy of stay at home moms. Strong families were the basis of a strong stable society. Getting women married young kept them from having premarital sex. And general conformist pressure encouraged everyone to go along: if you weren’t happy as a stay-at-home mom or a father commuting to a demanding, soul-crushing job, the solution was Valium or psychoanalysis, not questioning the system.

May points out that some women really did find this a satisfactory deal; others found it the best they could do given the circumstances and the lack of opportunity for professional careers. An old survey of married women is a major part of the book, as the women discuss what’s good and bad about their loves. Some of them said the comfortable life, great kids and standing in the community (being single was definitely not cool) were worth it, but they describe the downsides — husbands who belittle their opinions, drinkers, adulterers, boredom — in sad tones that make this era a lot less utopian than traditional-values conservatives want to imagine it.

This being the 20th anniversary edition, May looks at the post-9/11 world and finds many similarities to the Cold War (drawing on Susan Faludi’s excellent The Terror Dream). But the heart of the book is its portrayal of the 1950s; among other things, the acceptance of teen marriage gives a whole new meaning to teen love in romance comics.

#SFWApro. Cover design by Nicole Caputo, photograph by Dmitri Kessel (amazingly I actually met one of the women in it, a few years ago, though I didn’t know it at the time). Comics cover probably by Dick Giordano.

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