Tag Archives: Alien visitors

Hunting the aliens: movies and TV

The second season “mytharc” of X-FILES ramps up considerably from S1: With the X-Files officially closed, Mulder’s stuck with a new partner, Krycek (Nicholas Lea) who’s secretly taking orders from the Cigarette-Smoking Man. Then in the two-parter “Duane Barry/Ascension,” Mulder’s called in to negotiate with a mentally ill FBI agent who believes he’s a victim of alien abduction. Mulder, of course, takes his claims seriously; Scully becomes convinced Barry’s a delusional schizophrenic who’ll say whatever he has to to get what he wants.

It’s a classic debate, except the story throws in a third layer — this all turns out to be a scheme by the CSM that culminates with Scully getting abducted. What’s really going on? Were there aliens or just humans involved? Was Barry abducted, delusional or a conspiracy agent? Scully would return, comatose, a few episodes later and make a miraculous recovery.

Some of this would be eplained in S3 (I’m working through that now), some of it’s still murky and I don’t think Scully’s resurrection is ever really explained. It’s an excellent example of the kind of mystery that enthralled regular viewers and turned off others. “To win a war you have to pick the right battles, Agent Mulder — and this is a fight you can’t win.’

Rewatching THE CONEHEADS (1993) makes me appreciate what an old-school look at the American Dream it is: illegal immigrants (Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin) come to America, works their way up to a middle-class lifestyle, stays one step ahead of immigration and realizes their daughter (Michelle Burke) has become thoroughly Americanized. The humor, of course, is that they’re so ridiculously extraterrestrial in appearance, body language and language that everyone blandly accepting them as French is ridiculous. It’s a one-joke film in a sense, but the joke works for me.

Michael McKean as their nemesis in immigration is unusual in that while very anti-illegal immigration he’s not the usual fanatical zealot dedicated to catching the protagonists. When he gets a promotion that moves him away from New York, he chooses career over continuing the hunt, and only goes after them again when his failure to catch them is a black mark on his record. At the climax, he and Beldar work out a deal to get the aliens their green cards without too much conflict. “I would draw the shades and I would live in the dark … my cone would shrivel and I would die, miserable and lonely. The stench would be great.”

PAUL (2014) has nerds Simon Pegg and Nick Frost doing a UFO tour of the US when they pick up the eponymous Grey (Seth Rogan’s voice) escaping from Area 51 and help him reconnect with his people before fed Jason Bateman catches up with them. Like Pegg’s Hot Fuzz this is a movie about movie nerds caught up in a movie; it also invokes the idea of Silver Screen Saucers that the government is using Hollywood to prep humanity for when the aliens go public. I enjoyed this but my friend Ross found if flat; while some of the Easter eggs feel off (how many watchers would get a joke about Lorenzo’s Oil — and these don’t seem the type of nerds to have watched it). Still, funnier as a bro-comedy than Aliens and GUFORS or Ben Stiller’s The Watch (which I’ll be writing about in a few days). “No, you idiots, I did not set my phaser to ‘faint.’”

HANGAR 18 (1980) has the flimsiest reasons for covering up our government possession of a UFO I think I’ve ever heard. According to sinister presidential adviser Robert Vaughn, people think UFO believers are crazy so if the president says there’s a UFO stored in Hangar 18, everyone will laugh and he’ll lose the election. Right, it’s not like actually having a UFO and being able to prove they’re real would make a difference (my guess, the president wins on a landslide). Gary Rhodes is the space shuttle pilot who knows too much, Darren McGavin the head of NASA, Joseph Campanella the head of the CIA and William Schallert and Pamela Bellwood are scientists.

This will get a mention in the Gods From Outer Space chapter as it reveals the aliens posed as gods, then interbred with our ancestors (“There’s a reason we and the aliens look so much alike.”). However the emphasis on specifically pre-Columbian contact (them making the Nazca carvings as landing strips, for instance) reminds me of complaints this is as racist as countless older theories showing how Romans, Israelites or Egyptians did the building because those primitive savages who lived here certainly couldn’t have done it. “They’re light years ahead of us in intelligence, yet they were killed because of a stupid accident.”

Rewatching STARMAN (1984) in the context of Alien Visitors hurts it a little: while Jeff Bridges earned his Oscar with his sweet, awkward attempts at imitating a human, it’s not that far removed from The Coneheads or the Brother From Another Planet. This is an interplanetary love story with the stranded alien coercing widow Karen Allen into helping him, taking the cloned body of her husband in the assumption this will make it easier for her (it doesn’t, at least at first). While I found the similar kidnapping/romance plotline in 12 Monkeys very unsatisfying, the leads and the script make it work here. Both actors are excellent — I particularly love how Bridges’ final ascension back to his people is shown entirely through the expressions on Allen’s face.

Richard Jaeckel as Fox, the security official determined to catch or kill the alien, is a lot less satisfying. Jaeckel plays it well, but his character’s a blank slate: we never get any explanation why he’s so determined to treat the alien as a threat. This is yet another film that implies the aliens’ attaining a peaceful, disembodied existence is kind of regrettable, compared to the physical joys of “the singing and the dancing and the eating.” One I’m glad I bought to keep. “I understand greetings in 54 Earth planet languages.”

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Slow-going work, plus cats

Cats first. Snowdrop seems to be settling in and showing up for food. Wisp seems to be tolerating him, and not trying to steal his food. It’s high protein, which is supposed to decrease the hunting urge. Wisp and I seem to have lost the rhythm we’d developed now that Snowdrop’s out there. Sometimes rather than come in, she goes off and looks for him or guards against him, I’m not sure which. Last night neither of them showed, which worried me a little. Wisp was back this morning though; hopefully Snowdrop will be here tonight.

Wisp has also started coming in at random times during the day, which she hasn’t done in months. Here she is sitting in the spare bedroom — it’s her sleepytime place — while I stepped out for a minute.As to work, let’s see. I met with  the cover designer for Undead Sexist Cliches, who came well recommended. He says he’ll try to get something done and back to me by next week. I also proofed more of it.

I got 16 Leaf articles done.

I did a lot of work on Alien Visitors, which is good, and the chapter drafts (intro, Invasions, Bodysnatchers) are good, but it’s going too damn slow. There’s only so much focus before my mind sludges unless I remember to take breaks. And taking breaks costs time. It’s doable … I think. But will it be done? I don’t know, even given how much extra time I’m putting in. It doesn’t help that TYG’s schedule hasn’t let her take the dogs quite as much as she’d hoped, but I don’t think that’s the primary problem.

Oh, and I got Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast, which I sent out to another market, back with a no. I’ll be sending it out again in November, when things calm down.


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The pandemic from space: thoughts on reading “The Andromeda Strain”

THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN was the book that catapulted Michael Crichton on the best-seller lists, a science fiction novel for people who don’t read science fiction. As I’m including a discussion of the movie in Alien Visitors, I reread the novel for the first time, probably, since it came out.

For anyone who doesn’t know, the novel concerns a satellite gathering xenobacteria as possible bio-weapons. When it crashes to Earth in a small town of less than 70 people, the men who found it take it to the town doctor, who opens it. By the time the military two-man collection crew arrives, everyone’s dead. The two soldiers die too. Their alarmed CO triggers a Wildfire alert, a special protocol for dealing with extraterrestrial threats of this sort. A crew of four scientists assembles at the cutting-edge Wildfire lab to figure out what caused the deaths, and why two people — a baby and an aging wino — survived. And, of course, how to prevent whatever it is from spreading.

The novel, like much of Crichton’s later fiction, is insanely talky. He constantly info-dumps about the amazing technology, the computers, the biology of the Andromeda infestation, the methods of research. There’s almost no characterization to distinguish the four doctors (Stone, Leavitt, Hall and Dutton) other than Hall being single (significant to the plot). There are several little points where the book feels off: the assumption that Andromeda will grow if fed nuclear radiation seems to come out of nowhere; repeated assertions the team made small mistakes don’t apparently lead anywhere. Nevertheless, the book worked. It established Crichton on the A-list and he stayed there consistently for the rest of his long career (which led to movies including Jurassic Park and Westworld plus less successful films such as Rising Sun). I enjoyed it too, though I can’t remember my reactions in detail (if I’d loved it I’d probably have a much stronger memory of it).

Much as writers, editors and reviewers talk about “show don’t tell,” I’m not so sure readers give a crap. This book is very, very “tell” but obviously it didn’t hurt it. It probably helps that Crichton’s not telling about his characters love lives or careers but about interesting, extremely cool science and tech stuff. And in a situation where an extraterrestrial pandemic could break out at any second. It’s not a new thought but if you embed a lot of info-dumping into an intriguing story, it’s much easier to get away with, particularly if it’s interesting info-dumps (case in point, Airport). That it dealt with outer space didn’t hurt — the space race was one of the coolest things going on in the 1960s.

The movie still has a lot of telling but it moves smoother than the book. More important, it makes the scientists into individuals, enhanced by capable actors (director Robert Wise picked less well known actors, figuring it would help the realism). Stone (Arthur Hill) is the leader, a wealthy establishment guy. Judging from Dutton’s (David Wayne) home he’s much more middle-class and more liberal; his family are very upset he’s going to work for the “germ warfare people.” James Olson plays Hall as a smartass, a cynic and a bit of a womanizer. Kate Reid as Leavitt — in the book it’s a man — is tart-tongued and dour. In the book Leavitt avoids flashing red lights (they trigger his epilepsy) claiming they remind him of his ambulance work in WW II. In the movie Leavitt quips about working a brothel in the red light district.

On the whole, the movie is one of the rare ones that improves on the source novel.

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Sculder, Mully and Bubbles: Books read!

X-FILES FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About Global Conspiracies, Aliens, Lazarus Species and Monsters of the Week by John Kenneth Muir has been a useful guide to watching the series (along with my friend Ross, who’s serving as my X-Files guru for Alien Visitors). Muir covers the various inspirations for the series, the key episodes, what made it stand out from the pack (some of which I covered reviewing S1 last weekend) and its influence on later TV. It also covers stuff less relevant to my project such as Chris Carter’s other series (Harsh Realm, Millennium). A good guide, though I think his list of inspirations for X-Files is reaching — Chris Carter has admitted Night Stalker inspired him but the obscure paranormal anthology One Step Beyond? The Friday the 13th TV series (on the grounds it has a male-female paranormal evil-fighting team)? I’m not convinced.

BUBBLES UNBOUND by Sarah Strohmeyer is a cozy mystery in which blue-collar Bubbles Yablonski (“Everyone thinks I’m a dumb blonde because of my name. And I’m a hairstylist. And I have the exact measurements of Barbie.”) discovers a talent for journalism after flunking out of every other course at community college (I do wish they’d played more with the idea this makes her, like Streisand in What’s Up Doc?, a low-level polymath). After getting a stringer job with the local paper, she’s lucky enough to catch a pillar of local society has run over a man while driving drunk. But the film Bubbles took disappears after someone knocks Bubbles cold. The woman’s family insist she was out of town. And someone’s trying to shoot Bubbles for suggesting something’s going on … A fun mystery in the vein of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books.

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Alien sightings, captured on film!

QUIET PLACE II (2021) isn’t as tense and scary as the first film but the story of Emily Blunt and her family traveling across country, moving in with a wary survivalist and possibly learning of a safe haven from the monsters is still compelling viewing. The opening flashback to the monsters’ appearance (following that old standby Oh, It Looks Like A Meteor Landed) confirms they are extraterrestrial; an interview I read on line (but can’t find right now) said the creators’ concept was that of an invasive species flourishing in an environment with no natural predators. I don’t think A Quiet Place needed a sequel, but I did enjoy this. Djimon Hounsou plays the leader of the refuge (once again, the black guy dies first). “They had 12 boats lined up on the docks that day, and only two got off.”

VISIT TO A SMALL PLANET (1960) started as a Broadway satire in which the alien Kreton causes chaos on Earth and turns out to be a meddling kid (one can only wonder if the writers of Star Trek: Squire of Gothos saw this, though it’s hardly the only example of that idea in SF). In the movie version, we get Jerry Lewis playing Kreton as the kind of annoying man-child Lewis was in many of his films, turning a baffled eye on everything from sex (“Our women are 36 inches all the way down.”) to Beatnik hangouts (though Lewis’ modern dance scene there is pretty funny). Despite making use of Gale Gordon, Fred Clark and Earl Holliman in the cast, this is forgettable stuff. The aliens could almost be angels, sitting around on clouds and demonstrating powers that look more like magic than super-science. “For several years now, certain lunatic elements have proclaimed the existence of flying saucers.”

I’d forgotten that MEN IN BLACK (1997) was actually a refugee story (“These are aliens without a planet.”), though unusually not one where it’s an obvious parallel for human outcasts — that is, it’s more What If We Had Refugees Coming to the U.S. From Space than using them as a metaphor for immigration generally. With Tommy Lee Jones as the MIB veteran, Will Smith learning astronomy “There’s no galaxy in Orion’s belt!”), Linda Fiorentino getting mindwiped repeatedly (like Wendy on Middleman, she also proves herself by not freaking out under stress), Vincent D’Onofrio fights for insect rights and the supermarket tabloids are the best news source on Earth. Still extremely funny. “You’ll either get used to it or you’ll have a psychotic episode.”

In writing about Evil Superman stories for my alien superheroes chapter, I’ve realized they can be subgrouped. There are those where Superman breaks bad such as Mark Waid’s Irredeemable, those where he’s a sleeper agent for his people (Invincible and Brightburn) and those that ask what if he’d been found by someone else. SUPERMAN: Red Son (2000) is in that third category: instead of the wheat fields of Kansas, he lands in the Ukraine. Eventually he puts his powers in the service of the state until he realizes how ruthless Stalin is, then kills him, assumes control and starts building a utopia. Alas, like every other comic book effort to do this by force, things do not work out well … While the assurances the American Way Of Freedom Is Better ring rather hollow these days, this is overall a good one, adapted by comics writer J.M. DeMatteis from the Mark Millar miniseries. While it’s not unusual to ship Luthor and Lois, this is one of the few times their relationship ends happily. “Conventional weapons aren’t enough when one man, one alien, has the power to bring an entire nation to its knees.”

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The gentleman’s name is … Snowdrop

So last weekend we set out the trap for the white cat. I put the food in, walked away and he was caught barely thirty seconds after. He was not happy about it; like Wisp the first time we trapped her, he kept ramming at the wire with his face. Didn’t go well (the photo below is from earlier).

Happily when we put him in the bathroom he quieted down. I took him to the animal rescue the next morning, picked him up in the afternoon and got confirmation the cat’s a he. Up until then we’d figured female — but we’re sticking with the name I picked, Snowdrop (one of the kitten’s in Lewis Carroll’s Alice books). It was a little unsettling because removing his balls left far more bloodstains than tying Wisp’s tubes.

Next morning we let him out and didn’t see him again for a couple of days. But he came back Wednesday night, though he’s way more wary around us. Still, if he’s returned, he’ll probably forgive us. And TYG is relieved — she was convinced he’d wound up in the belly of a coyote or on the wheels of an SUV. But no. Where we go from here … well, I’ll let you know.

After that, the week got back to normal. No Leaf articles so it was all either Undead Sexist Cliches or Alien Visitors. On the first, I’m now proofed through the end of Chapter Six and I’ve started drafting the back cover/blurbs (next week I should start studying blurbs for similar books and see how I compare). On the movie book I got a lot done: good drafts of several chapters and several films watched or rewatched.

Unfortunately I fell short of my goals for the week. Sure, they were optimistic, and yes, I have some wriggle room in my schedule but still, I’d been happier to pull it off. I’m not sleeping well, which happened when I was on tight deadline near the finish of Screen Enemies of the American Way. I’ll be zonked by the end of October.

No going back now, though, so wish me luck.

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Bones, sports and saucers: Books read

Sarah Beth Durst’s THE BONE MAKER is an excellent fantasy that never quite goes where I expect. Protagonist Kreya is one of the band of heroes who defeated the dark magician Elkor a quarter century ago, saving the realm. She lost her husband, however, and has spent the decades using Elkor’s bone magic (all magic in this setting comes from bones) to resurrect him briefly at the cost of her own life (one day for spouse, one less day for her).

Desperate for bones that will allow her to raise him permanently, she recruits one of her former friends — now living a glamorous life as a retired hero and businesswoman — to help revisit the battlefields of the war and steal human bones (which is ethically an absolute taboo). Unfortunately the trip reveals that Elkor lives, so the two women recruit their former allies to fight the battle again.

It’s unusual enough to have a team of heroes in their late forties, but the book heads off into other directions from there. If you’re expecting a big battle against the forces of darkness — well, we get one eventually, but it’s much more a story of personal struggle, politics and making peace with the past than of battles. Very well done.

SIDELINED: Sports, Culture and Being a Woman in America by Julie DiCaro didn’t surprise me with the news that sports and sports reporting are a boys’ club. DiCaro’s first person accounts of an industry where just hearing a woman read the news can turn fans into trolls (they go to sports to get away from women, dammit!), rape and abuse allegations get “manitized” (man + sanitized — DiCaro didn’t coin the term, but I thank her for introducing me to it) and despite the growing number of female sports fans, the number of women reporters is still few and far between (which DiCaro says discourages them supporting each other — if there’s only one female reporting gig at a given station, it’s hard to bond with the competition) is still compelling reading. While I’m done adding references to Undead Sexist Cliches, I’d certainly have included elements of this book if I’d read it last year.

From my perspective, SILVER SCREEN SAUCERS: Sorting Fact From Fantasy In Hollywood’s UFO Movies by Robbie Graham has a lot of problems with the fact/fantasy boundary itself: Graham’s a UFO believer convinced the government cover-up is a thing and that most Hollywood UFO films are government propaganda preparing us for the Big Reveal. This spends way too much time for my taste (I was looking at this for Alien Visitors of course) on UFO cases and history and some of his assumptions are, to put it kindly, strained. It’s true that The Thing From Another World and It Came From Outer Space both have a saucer crashing Just Like Roswell, but “flying saucer crashes” is something writers are perfectly capable of coming up with on their own.

That said, Graham does make a few good points, such as how even in films where the Defense Department knows all about aliens (e.g., Independence Day), the military never has any plans in place for fighting them. And the book does remind me that many people who worked on these films are indeed UFO believers, which I definitely need to mention. That said, there’s a lot of silliness and unconvincing speculation, plus a few small errors (the UFO in The Flying Saucer is not a Soviet flying ship). Not a total waste of money, but close.

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TV seasons: new, old and Did Not Finish

MOTHERLAND: FORT SALEM‘s second season (S1 review here) has our three cadets (Abigail, daughter of a proud military family; Tally, more innocent and very good-hearted; and Raelle, the rebel) come back from last season’s battle with the witch-hating Camarilla changed: Raelle’s tapped new powers she doesn’t understand and Tally’s having flashes of what turn out to be the origin of the anti-military terrorist group the Spree. General Adler is playing hardball, Raelle’s ex-girlfriend Scylla and her mother are waging war on the Camarilla but the Camarilla has plans of its own …

Set in a world where witchcraft is part of military service, this kept up the quality of the first season, though Scylla’s murderous past gets kind of hand-waved. I’m kind of glad next season will wrap things up, rather than going until they run out of steam or getting cut off before resolution like so many shows. “He’s a safety school with a penis.”

I didn’t watch the entire first season of THE X-FILES for Alien Visitors as only the ET episodes are relevant to the book (and I simply don’t have time to watch the whole thing). The story of brilliant profiler Fox “Spooky” Mulder and equally brilliant physicist/MD Dr. Dana Scully (David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson) investigating everything from mutant serial killers to alien abductions is probably just as familiar to y’all as it is to me. Even so, it’s a shock to realize just how much of a game-changer this series was.

As I’ve discussed elsewhere, X-Files injects the political cynicism of the Watergate era into TV and gives us a world where government can’t be trusted. Key players in the FBI are actively working to cover up the government’s knowledge of UFOs and aliens on Earth (the Cigarette Smoking Man played by William B. Davis is the face of the conspiracy). Mulder has a contact, Deep Throat (Jerry Hardin) — see the Watergate influence? — but is he on the level or just playing some game with Mulder?

More than that, the concept of a show with an elaborate mythology that develops over time and mysteries that takes months or years to unravel makes this show the godfather to 24, Lost and Manifest. Which is part of why I never really cottoned to it; when Mulder rants to Deep Throat about playing games — only throwing him little pieces of information and holding most of the truth back — it’s almost a metacommentary on X-Files and LostThough obviously I’m in a minority in not being into the show, and that’s okay — it wasn’t for me but I don’t begrudge it it’s success (though if it had run shorter, my work on the book would be easier).

And I should note that Scully remains a groundbreaking character. Even though she’s usually wrong about what they’re going up against she remains as smart and competent as Mulder and doesn’t back down on her skepticism. As Foz Meadows says, the show let Gillian Anderson dress in unremarkable jackets and blazers rather than looking fashionable because that’s the kind of woman Scully is. The Scully/Mulder dynamic had its influence on later shows too, for example the leads of The 4400. “How can I deny things that are stamped with an official seal?”

The second season of PEOPLE OF EARTH wrapped up in 2017 on a cliffhanger and wasn’t renewed, but up until that point it was as fun as the first season. The realization they were all abducted together brings the Starcrossed therapy group back together but now they have special agent Foster (Nasim Pedrad) breathing down their neck to find Jonathan. Meanwhile, an AI takes over the ship leaving Jeff, Don and Jonathan all hating him and having second thoughts about this whole invasion business. I am a little puzzled why they wrote Ozzie (Wyatt Cenac) out mid-season but as it’s clearly positioned for him to return, I guess it was a schedule conflict, health issue or the like. Streaming on Hulu if you get the itch to check it out. “Don’t you dare use my favorite musical against me!”

TV producer Aaron Spelling was, as many critics have pointed out, not an artist, just a guy who turned out tons of glossy soap opera for entertainment. It’s true, but watching the new revival of FANTASY ISLAND just reminds me how very, very good at glossy soap opera Spelling was. Where Mr. Roarke ruled a world-class luxury resort, the island his niece and heir Elena (Roselyn Sånchez) ran in the first episode feels closer to a chain motel. Nor do the creators have Spelling’s way with a slick storyline. That said, I may pick it up once all that X-Files viewing is done … but more likely not. “I’m offering an opportunity to be brave.”

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Superman and James Spader, in love (no, not with each other).

Despite his success directing Superman, Richard Donner locked horns with producers Alex and Ilya Salkind often enough that they ditched him with Superman II unfinished (they were saving money by shooting both at the same time, as the Salkinds had done with Three and Four Musketeers). Donner shot enough footage, however, that Warners eventually assembled SUPERMAN II: The Donner Cut (2006) by combining his work, some of the Richard Lester film, and some screen test material. The result is a bit of a mess (continuity is all over the place) but it works well enough I wish Donner had completed the theatrical version.

The film starts off with Lois, very much in Silver Age mode, realizing Clark is Superman, then jumping out the window to prove it; he saves her, of course, but without revealing himself. The reveal comes at Niagara, and not by accident: Lois fires a gun at Clark who confesses, but points out she could have killed him. “With blanks?”

Another change is the battle at the White House, with Zod and his lackeys coming off much more violent and murderous. The really big change is after Superman flies Lois to the Fortress. At the time Lester assumed control of II, Marlon Brando was suing the Salkinds for allegedly stiffing him on his cut of the first film’s profits. They axed him from II and put in Lara instead of Jor-El. That’s a shame — as Donner says on the commentary track, using Jor and showing how his relationship with his son fractures has more punch.

Where Lara gently gives Clark advice, Jor-El is pissed: loving Lois means he’s choosing the One over the Many which is not his role on Earth (the Christ overtones are undeniable). Clark demands the right to be happy, and Jor-El reluctantly accedes. In the theatrical movie, we don’t really see how he regains his powers; here he shows up at the Fortress, sobbing and admitting he was wrong. Jor-El’s hologram materializes and sacrifices its existence to recharge Superman’s powers.

The showdown in the Fortress at the end is quicker, stripped of all the teleporting and holograms that treated Kryptonian powers like magic. Instead of the magic kiss that erases Lois’s memory, this has Superman rewinding time so none of the events (including the Phantom Zoners breaking loose) have happened. That’s a jarring repeat of the original movie’s deus ex machina; Donner says he’d always intended this as II‘s finish, but the Salkinds moved it up to the first film when nobody could think of a good ending. “There is one man here on Earth who will never bow before you.”

STARCROSSED (1985) has James Spader offering sexy defector Belinda Bauer (“Your accent suggests there’s an Iron Curtain in your past.”) shelter from what he assumes are the KGB agents trying to drag her from the land of freedom. Instead, it turns out she’s an ET refugee hunted by agents of the imperial power that conquered her peaceful world (making her entire race peaceful is the flip side of Othering alien invaders by making them all monstrous warmongers). Can they stay one jump ahead of the bad ETs? Will Spader show her how much fun human-style sex is (if you can’t guess, you ain’t watched enough TV movies)?

Although Bauer is stiff, Spader’s personal charm and talent makes this run very well until they throw in some Men in Black also hunting for Bauer; at that point the film just seems to bog down. Still, Spader does make it watchable enough. And I do like his explanation for why Bauer looks human (“God made us in his own image, right? How many images do you think God has?”). “When your people have been doing something for so long, you think of it as natural.”

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TYG and I weren’t planning to become a two-cat family

But we’ve had “White Cat” (placeholder name) irregularly sniffing around our house for a couple of months now. More recently she’s been sniffing and mewing plaintively for food, so we fed her. Happily she likes a brand of soft food I bought for Wisp much more than Wisp does.

Wisp, surprisingly, is quite chill with her. None of the aggressive territorial defense I’ve seen with other cats. I don’t know what the difference is. She’s nowhere near as skittish as Wisp. She runs away from us if we get too close, but it took Wisp a year before she’d let me come as close as White Cat does here.She’s definitely been a house pet, probably more recently than Wisp was when we met her. White Cat also seems a lot less comfortable surviving on her own. Did someone just decide to dump her? We’ll never know.

We have an appointment at the feral/stray cat clinic Sept. 26  for spay/neuter and general checkup. Hopefully our new acquaintance will show up the night before and get trapped (we have the trap cage already). Where we go from there, who knows? We aren’t looking for more pets, but as the saying goes, you cannot leave the work unfinished.

Speaking of work, I did get some of that done too. I squeezed in seven Leaf articles at the start of the week, then for whatever reason the flow stopped. The timing is convenient as that meant more work on Alien Visitors; that said, it probably means lower than usual income for the month. I did sell another copy of Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast and made $24 in royalties on my film books for the past six months, but that won’t pay the bills. Which isn’t to say I’m unhappy — it’s a real kick that 20 years after it came out, Cyborgs, Santa Claus and Satan still sells a few copies a year.

Work on Alien Visitors is going well but it takes much more time than I anticipate. Given my looming deadline, that makes me a little uneasy, but if I keep my nose to the grindstone, it’s doable. I did some scheduling today to make sure of that. I want to make sure I write some of it every day — not that this is more efficient but I noticed at the start of the week, when I’d done nothing but watch movies and write Leafs, I slept very poorly. Stress does that.

I also proofed the introduction and first two chapters of Undead Sexist Cliches and I’m pleased. My previous editing was good enough I only had one section where I needed to make major changes. So I think I’m still on track for an end of October release.

All in all, not a bad week.

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Filed under Personal, Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing