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Thursday-ish Linkspam

We’re back! It was a long vacation, but I thought of all of you quite often as I basked in the Florida sunshine… no, I didn’t. I’m totally lying.

I would like to give you the highlights in CultureGeek news while I was away, but I hear the voice of Inigo in my head: “No, there is too much. Let me sum up.” So here’s the Inigo version:

 

Happy 62nd Birthday Disneyland! I was in the Florida version when this happened, but it’s still nifty. Disney Avenue has images from Disneyland’s opening day; if I remember childhood stories correctly, my father was there.

• I now get to name-drop my friend and fellow author Bryan Smith, whose star is on the rise as the grindhouse-pulp film 68 Kill based on his novel gains traction. Check out the trailer here on IFC Midnight, as it hits select theaters and On Demand Aug. 4.

RIP to Martin Landau, best known to me from his amazing, Oscar-winning performance as Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood; and, of course, to George Romero, father of the zombie subgenre, whom I had the good fortune to meet briefly in my own book tours.

And of course RIP to Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, who apparently committed suicide this week.

Brian Keene’s The Rising is probably the most influential zombie novel of the modern era, kickstarting reinvestment in the subgenre from its publication in 2003. What, you’ve read it? No, you haven’t. Because the author’s preferred edition includes about 30,000 words of additional scenes cut out of the original, now restored and can be yours for 99c. Limited time only. No, I’m not paid for the plug; I don’t even get a cut if you click through since I haven’t figured out how to make that work yet. It’s just that good. Be prepared to need a quick purchase of the sequel approximately 0.5 seconds after you finish the first one.

• Speaking of zombies, Robert Kirkman has decided to work toward the final chapter for the Grimes Gang - at least for the Walking Dead comic, if not the series. No one knows how Rick’s gonna die - I mean, how it’s all going to end.

The Emmy noms were announced, with big traction for The Handmaid’s Tale: I Keep Meaning To Watch That. Other noms went to The Crown, Stranger Things, House of Cards, This is Us, Westworld, Black-ish, Atlanta, and of course Saturday Night Live. I have been instructed that I am required to watch Westworld posthaste, but alas, it is on HBO and I’m just a poor working blogger.

• After decades playing Kermit the Frog, Muppeteer Steve Whitmire was fired by Muppets Studio. Plenty of folks immediately leaped on “principled artist crushed by evil Disney megacorp,” and at first both sides were being cagey about the reasons. Finally, Whitmire wrote on his personal blog that he was “the last samurai” keeping the Henson legacy afloat. According to others, he apparently has been demanding pay increases, first-class flights to and from home in Atlanta, a salary for his wife, etc. Brian Henson himself said he is in favor of handing the green felt over to new Muppeteer Matt Vogel. Read this bit from io9; it has some rough info about Whitmire blackballing young puppeteers and some harsh criticism from the Henson family. At the same time, fans feel like Disney both saved the Muppets by buying them, but without turning out quality entertainment - mostly repackaging and merchandising classic Muppets. (We shall not speak of the TV show that died under the weight of its own absurd premise.)

D23 was last weekend, and while this might once have been a convention just for devout wearers of mouse ears, now it foretells everything from the MCU to Star Wars, so people pay attention. Slashfilm has a good rundown of what’s coming from the Mouse, including Pixar films Coco, Incredibles 2, Toy Story 4; Disney animated films Wreck-it Ralph 2 and Frozen 2/Olaf’s Frozen Adventure; live-action films like Lion King, Aladdin, Mary Poppins Returns, A Wrinkle in Time, Dumbo, Nutcracker and the Four Realms; and yeah, a little sci-fi sequel called Star Wars: The Last Jedi. With bonus Infinity War, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther… yeah. They’re busy.

Meanwhile, the theme parks will see some major changes. I could write a whole column about what’s good and bad in the upcoming alterations for Disney World and Disneyland, and since I was just there, I may as well write it. Tune in later. Extra notice for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (yay!) and the demise of the Great Movie Ride (boo!)

• Oh yeah, and they named the next Doctor. You might have heard something about it.

Doc

 

Trailer Park:

• New trailer for Blade Runner 2049, now with even more weird visuals and even less plot. Just like the original! Don’t hate, I plan to watch it again before th new one and see if somehow I missed what makes everyone love it in my first three viewings.

• New trailer for Wind River, the thriller with Elizabeth Olsen as a rookie FBI agent teaming up with rugged Jeremy Renner to investigate a murder on a Native American reservation.

• New, more action-y trailer for The Dark Tower. Confession: I read the first DT book when I was younger, and found it deadly dull. But everyone loves the series so much that I keep meaning to go back and try again. The trailers for this movie are definitely pushing me in that direction.

 

Didn’t more stuff happen? Yes. It was a long vacation. And SDCC is rolling in California, so be prepared for lots of nonsense on Monday. Stay cool!


Thursday Linkspam

• A bunch of Disney flicks got their release dates, including a pushback for Indiana Jones 5: The Apology. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a December release this year, just as Force Awakens was, but the as-yet untitled Episode IX will be a May 2019 release, rather than sticking with the Christmas plan. That’s probably because Frozen 2 comes out that Christmas, and Disney doesn’t like to fight itself. (Please, Disney. We’re gonna go see both anyway. You have us.)

James Cameron’s Avatar 2 will come out in December 2020, with three more movies slated for 2021, 2024 and 2025. Somewhere in there he hopefully hired a screenwriter. In the meantime, Indiana 5 is moved from July 2019 to July 2020, just in time for poor Harrison Ford to turn 80. Also in 2019: the Lion King remake, Toy Story 4 and Avengers: Infinity War Part II, so just sign your soul over to Disney now. (They’ve had mine for years… crunchy.)

• Tor.com is offering a neat incentive to sign up for their eBook of the Month Club: A free ebook of John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War. The club is free, and you get a free book every month. So far I see no downside!

• Tracy K. Smith is the new poet laureate of the United States, the highest honor held by poets in the nation. Smith has 30 years of poetry publications and a Pulitzer Prize. She plans to be a “literary evangelist,’ taking poetry to places “where literary festivals don’t always go.” She is also director of the creative writing program at Princeton University.

The Dining Room was one of my favorite plays back when I was a struggling actress in Memphis. The playwright, A.R. Gurney, was a finalist for the Pulitzer for that one and two others - I always wanted to see Love Letters become a movie. Yes, he wrote about upper-class WASPs, because he wrote what he knew - but he told it with truth. Sadly, Gurney passed away this week. The stage lights are a little dimmer for his loss.

• RIP to one of the more famous bookstores in the country. Berkeley science fiction bookstore Dark Carnival will close its doors soon, and has launched its going-out-of-business sale.

• Variety has some theories about The Mummy’s troubles, and they start with two words: Tom Cruise. Not that he’s a bad actor (he’s not) or that the film was a bad idea (more debatable), but that he had a personal control over nearly everything from script to marketing. “There were differences of opinions about whether Cruise’s directions were improving a picture that had been troubled from its inception or whether they were turning a horror film into a Cruise informercial.” It has not yet been viewed here at CultureGeek Towers, so I’ll let you know…

The-mummy
Wait... sorry. This is the fun one. My mistake.

• In the Cool Stuff category, a photographer picked up a 1938 camera at Goodwill that still had a roll of undeveloped film inside. She had them developed, and found images of the 1980 explosion of Mt. St. Helens.

• Trailer Park: Goodbye Christopher Robin is a biopic of A.A. Milne and his young son who inspired the books of Winnie the Pooh. Flatliners gets a remake, which will have a long way to go before it matches the creepy-dark fun of the original. A documentary titled Nobody Speak examines the attacks on the press over the last few years, and hits Netflix in a week.

• For a little silliness, check out the trash-talking Twitter battle between Sue the T.rex at the Chicago Field Museum and the Merriam-Webster dictionary. I can’t make this stuff up.

 

On the local scene…

• Dunaway Books on Grand Boulevard will host “An Evening of Wine and Poetry” featuring local writers like Grace McGinnis, Hart L’Ecuyer and RC Patterson for a series of readings beginning at 8 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.

• The Glen Carbon Public Library will host “Writing Your Breakout Book” at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 19, presented by Rod Deutschmann of Outreach SIUE. Click the link to register.

• Insight Theater Company has opened its season with Next to Normal, a powerful and intense rock musical I was lucky enough to see several years ago at the Fox. Warning: This is very intense, dealing with mental illness and its impact on the family.

• River Styx Literary Magazine will host “Books & Brews* at Urban Chestnut on Manchester at 6 p.m. July 10. Readings from the authors, first glimpse at issue 98, and the first beer is free - sorta. Admission is $15.

• The St. Louis Women’s Artisan Pop Up Shop will take place Saturday, July 29 at Lemon Gem Kitchen Goods on Manchester. It will host women-owned small businesses with dozens of nifty vendors.

• Enjoying The Handmaid’s Tale? Meet author Margaret Atwood when she accepts the 2017 St. Louis Literary Award, to be presented by the St. Louis University Library Associates at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19 at Sheldon Concert Hall on Washington Boulevard.

Have a good weekend!


Monday Linkspam

Welcome to a mega-edition of CultureGeek Linkspam, since we took Memorial Day-Week off. What? There were brats to grill.

• Apple Computer held its WWDC keynote today, announcing a number of fun stuff. Among them: Amazon Prime finally comes to Apple TV; the older iMac model gets a boost and they premiered a new iMac Pro; the HomePod; software updates…. oh, just read it.

• A review of Wonder Woman is pending after a rewatch. In the meantime, it’s a clear hit, with more than $100 million domestic and another $125+ million foreign in the first weekend alone. Critics like it too. It’s the biggest opening for a female director ever, and I take some special notice that the record it obliterated belonged to Fifty Shades of Grey. Heh. Actual athletes were recruited to play the Amazons, including Crossfit champions, cyclists, equestriennes and professional fighters. Tor.com’s Keith DeCandido looks back at Lynda Carter as role model. Indian Country Today celebrates an actual Native American actor speaking actual Blackfoot to Wonder Woman in the film. And of course there is a sequel already planned: in America. I’d ask y’all to name her potential villain(s), but maybe we shouldn’t go there… Texts From Superheroes says hello to WW, and Thor admits Wonder Woman would kick his ass. (P.S. Check out this vision of Mr. Rogers wielding Thor’s hammer. No, seriously.)

• Since everything old is new again, Steven Spielberg’s production company is reviving the Animaniacs. This is good news if you were a fan; I was not, but I did not have the outright dislike of the show as I did, say, Rugrats. The article does point out that shows as old as Full House were quite popular in resurrection, and now we are seeing Will & Grace and Roseanne return, among others. Yes, Hollywood has run out of ideas, but zombie series of good work is still better than *shudder* reality TV.

• Speaking of the return of the ‘90s, Zima is back. For a limited time only. Yikes.

• In commemoration of the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie (which CultureGeek Jr. gave enormous applause and the critics… disagree), check out the pictures and radio commercial of the 1967 launch of the Disneyland ride. Yo ho yo ho…. Yes, your friendly neighborhood CultureGeek has seen it and a review is pending. Y’all, it’s summer. Things be busy.

• Cancel your plans for the weekend, because Orange is the New Black launches its next season after the trauma-inducing finale of last season. ScreenRant’s awesome Lauren Wethers details 15 OITNB characters you (and the writers) completely forgot.

• The story of the demise of Booksellers at Laurelwood, one of those marvelous anchor bookstores in Memphis, and how the phoenix is rising from the ashes. On the flip side, the New Yorker believes that Amazon’s brick-and-mortar bookstores “are not built for people who actually read.” Apparently they’re like the world’s biggest airport bookstores: the same titles you’ll see in every bookstore. Only 200 titles in fiction, 3,000 in the whole store. The charity sale my church runs on a quarterly basis has a wider selection than the most comprehensive bookseller in the nation.

• Speaking of books, learn the true stories behind The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Raise your hand if you loved that book, dreamed of running away to live in a museum and embarked on a lifelong fascination with the works of Michelangelo. Just me? I was also quite fond of Elain Konigsburg’s debut novel, Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth.

• Ever wonder what they put in the recording in Voyager I? Other than, “Hello Borg: Please Come Assimilate Us”? Find out here, as Carl Sagan’s team unpacked the whole of human history and culture.

• Locals: LouFest has added Snoop Dogg among others to its lineup. As I scan the list, I recognize Huey Lewis & The News and that’s it, because I am desperately uncool and old. However, they are celebrating Chuck Berry, which is awesome.

• Nerds of Color’s Denny Upkins reviews why Cassandra Cain is really Batman 2.0. Check out the many heroes of Gotham City…

• And in case you missed them, Annie Leibovitz did amazing portraits of the characters of The Last Jedi for a spread in Vanity Fair. I’m not sure how she does what she does, but I may spend a lifetime trying to learn it. Kathleen Kennedy says of Carrie Fisher: “Harrison (Ford) was front and center on VII, and Mark (Hamill) is front and center on VIII. She thought IX would be her movie. And it would have been.” Sniffle.


Monday Linkspam

I’m going to assume that it was MY column last week that convinced NBC to un-cancel Timeless. (Hilariously, showrunner Eric Kripke and star Matt Lanter both announced the change as if they went back in time and changed NBC’s minds. Hee.) I clearly have a very powerful voice in Hollywood, see? Deadline says NBC has been playing hardball with all of its series that are produced outside the network, including Blindspot and Taken. Both were renewed, but Sony and NBC were wrangling on the split of profits for Timeless and couldn't come to an agreement. But the cancellation announcement led to loud screams from the internet, and Sony was trying to find a streaming home, and NBC flipped a coin and said, “Okay, you get ten more episodes.” Writers: Bring it.

• In the category of CultureGeek Does Not Understand Fashion, Balenciaga is making a purse that looks like the IKEA bags, which amused IKEA no end. Balenciaga, of course, is one of those fancy-schmancy fashion companies that makes things I could never afford and often wouldn’t want. I do want IKEA bags, because they’re awesome. I have several. Mine cost 99 cents. Balenciaga’s cost $2,145. Did you know there’s a whole DIY subculture of making things from IKEA bags? I love that IKEA is all, “Go to it! We think it’s creatively awesome!”

• Bill Mantlo created Rocket Raccoon, and for 25 years he has lived in a nursing home after he was brain-damaged in a hit-and-run accident. Before the first Guardians film, fans apparently were campaigning to raise money for his treatment, and Marvel has negotiated a new compensation package that will allow Mantlo to move out of the nursing home and into a house next door to his brother.

• Ouch. King Arthur is the first box-office bomb of the summer, making only $14.7 million on its $175 million budget. Variety says King Arthur “may just want to put that sword back where he found it and pretend this never happened.” You know, I like Guy Ritchie most of the time, but that trailer pretty much drubbed everything anyone likes about the Camelot story and made it into Fast and Furious: Medieval Style. Yawn. Charlie Hunnam is far too talented an actor to try to build his movie career on playing Jax Teller in various settings, and I wish he’d cut it out.

GeekDad takes aim at Barnes & Noble for its recent decision to mix new titles into their categories and turn all books spine-out. And I’m right there with him. Spine-out already is the worst sale position for a book; I once saw my books displayed at Dragoncon spine-out on the bottom shelf next to the register. Guess what? Didn’t sell a single book from that retailer. People have to really be looking to find your book if they can’t even see the cover. And as GeekDad points out, the big New Releases table is much too full of the latest political tripe or celebrity memoir or fad diet or yet another ghostwritten “James Patterson” thriller; you rarely see science fiction or horror on that table, and NEVER small press. Hell, we small press folk would be lucky to be spine-out on a bottom shelf to be ignored by the big boys. I like Buns & Noodles - hell, I like almost every bookstore. But the more they get taken over by toys we can get cheaper almost anywhere and endless piles of novelty gift thingies for when you really don’t know the person you’re buying for at all, and the more they do away with horror sections altogether and mix in our books with regular fiction (or fantasy - what?), the more we drift toward “a certain online retailer” because at least there you can find what you want. Do better! We want you to hang around.

• An excellent explanation for why the upcoming Wonder Woman movie is set in World War I instead of letting her punch Nazis. Of course, one could assume that Captain America’s running battle against Nazis past and present in the Marvel Universe might mean something as well, but then we’d have to talk about the current Cap storyline in the comics which doesn’t exist as far as CultureGeek is concerned so cram it, Marvel. In the meantime, I am simply hoping Wonder Woman does spectacularly well at the box office. We have all been chanting please don’t suck please don’t suck, but frankly, I don’t even care as much if it DOES suck, as long as it makes a boatload of money. In Hollywood, action movies with male stars can tank left right and center, and they will blame everything except “it had a male star.” That would be silly, right? But if a movie with a female star tanks a la Catwoman or Elektra, it tanked because it was a female headliner, and that’s the end of the story. If Wonder Woman tanks, it’ll be another 20 years before we get a superhero film with a female lead. So do us all a favor and go see it even if it sucks, okay?

• Also in comics, the new Doomsday Clock miniseries will allow Superman and Doctor Manhattan to meet. That sound you hear is Alan Moore’s head spinning around and possibly exploding. Also, Doomsday Clock will have no tie-ins, no offshoots, totally standalone… holy Hera, I might actually buy this.

• Finally, Disney bids farewell to “Wishes,” its long-running nighttime show at the Magic Kingdom. After 14 years, it’s being replaced with a new show that better not suck, because people are nuts for Wishes. Here, see the final show one more time.


Monday Linkspam

The new Wonder Woman trailer has dropped. I liked the previous one better, but at least we’re seeing new motion on the movie with only a few weeks to go. This trailer was obviously geared at the super-action fans, heavy on the explosions and fisticuffs. As I’ve said before, I don’t even care if it sucks, as long as it makes money. Because if it doesn’t absolutely blow all the records out, if it’s even slightly less than perfect at the box office, we won’t get another female-centered superhero film for another 20 years.

Book Riot says what the rest of us are thinking about Marvel’s idiotic, disastrous “Cap is Hydra” timeline that everyone hates and P.S. no one is buying.

• In the You’ll Never See This Much Cool Again category, see Star Trek authors Kevin Dilmore, Dayton Ward, Glenn Hauman, Robert Greenberger, Michael Jan Freidman, William Leisner, David Mack, Scott Pearson, Dave Galanter, Aaron Rosenberg and Keith DeCandido all in one place: the bridge of the USS Enterprise. All they were missing was Peter David!

• Oh, hello new IT trailer. Good thing I wasn’t sleeping tonight.

• And speaking of trailers, the Defenders trailer means that I’m going to have to watch the ones that aren’t Jessica Jones now. Dangit.

• Black Nerd Problems analyzes race in the new American Gods series based on the novel by Neil Gaiman. “After all, the black man in America knows sacrifice, doesn’t he? Part of the brilliance of Gaiman’s novel is exactly what he chooses to mythologize in his story of America; yes, there are gods, but the real mythological landscape is America itself, and an outdated form of American nostalgia.”

• The really excellent and terribly misnamed Edge of Tomorrow will actually get a sequel in defiance of Hollywood physics. Unfortunately Tom Cruise will be back - don’t get me wrong, Cruise is fun and all, but Emily Blunt is the real heroine of that story and Cruise’s fame tends to blot out everything else.  At least Blunt will be back, so maybe they’ll let her be awesome without standing in the big star’s shadow this time.

• And finally, a Random Useless Fact: Jerry Orbach of Beauty and the Beast and Law & Order fame was an uncredited extra in 1955’s Guys and Dolls even though he had a whole singing line to himself. He’s the guy in the barbershop who first sings out, “Why, it’s good old reliable Nathan, Nathan Nathan Nathan Detroit!” Once you’re looking for him and listening for his baritone, it’s clear as a bell. Of course, he went on to be nominated for a Tony for Guys and Dolls in the 1965 revival and originated the best song in The Fantasticks, along with his roles in the aforementioned movies, tons of Broadway, and of course Dirty Dancing, among others.

 

 


A year in memoriam

We've all joked not-so-lightly that when they run the Oscars obit reel this year, we will need a separate telecast. And those that claimed TIME's Person of the Year should be the Grim Reaper aren't that far off.

Maybe it wasn't more than usual. But it surely felt that way. From David Bowie to Debbie Reynolds, my count stood at 150, not including those lost in the Brazilian plane crash, and there's still a number of hours left in this misbegotten year. (This excellent piece in TIME detailing the photographers lost this year added several more names to my list.) There's actually been a backlash against the mourning - proving that the internet as a whole gets more soulless by the year - but here's what I have to say to that: pfffthftft

I actually found a meme that encapsulates this idea more eloquently than my raspberry: "We do not mourn artists we've never met because we knew them. We mourn them because they helped us know ourselves."

When we enjoy the work of an artist, they enrich our lives, and we are sad because we know there will be no more art and beauty coming from that person. The world is a darker, poorer place without art and beauty, and we are right to mourn that loss.

This, therefore, is my attempt to remember all the artists, scientists and other notable people who passed this year. I  started keeping this list about the time we lost Elie Wiesel. I am quite sure I will miss someone, and I hope you will let me know (nicely) so that I may add whoever escaped my notice. 

In memoriam.

• Lennie Bluett, actor, Gone With the Wind, A Star is Born

• Frank Armitage, artist/animator, Mary Poppins, Lady and the Tramp

• Otis Clay, musician, "Tryin' to Live My Life Without You"

• Leila Alaoui, photographer, New York Times, Amnesty International

• Angus Scrimm, actor, Phantasm, Alias

• David Bowie, musician/actor, Labyrinth, Rise of Ziggy Stardust, and much more.

• David Margulies, actor, Ghostbusters, The Sopranos

• Brian Bedford, actor, Robin Hood, Nixon

• Dan Haggerty, actor, Life and Times of Grizzly Adams

• Franco Citti, actor, The Godfather

• Alan Rickman, actor, Die Hard, the Harry Potter series, and much more.

• Jo De Winter, actor, Dirty Harry, Gloria

• Glenn Frey, musician, The Eagles

• Peter Marlow, photographer

• Michole Mercurio, actor, Flashdance, The Client, While You Were Sleeping

• Abe Vigodaactor, The Godfather, Barney Miller

• Paul Kantner, musician, Jefferson Airplane

• Dan Gerson, screenwriter, Monsters Inc., Big Hero 6

• Antonin Scalia, U.S. Supreme Court Justice

• Drewe Henley, actor, Star Wars

• George Gaynes, actor, Police Academy, Punky Brewster

• Umberto Eco, author, The Name of the Rose

• Harper Lee, author, To Kill a Mockingbird

• Cara McCollum, journalist

• Louise Plowright, actor, EastEnders

• Martha Wright, actor, Sound of Music, South Pacific

• Maurice "Moe" White, musician, Earth Wind & Fire

• Pat Conroy, author, The Prince of Tides

• Denise Matthews, a.k.a. Vanity, musician

• Paul Ryan, comic artist, Fantastic Four, Superman

• Nancy Reagan, actress, First Lady 

• Robert Horton, actor, Wagon Train

• Frank Sinatra Jr., musician, "Believe in Me," "Black Night"

• Bob Adelman, photographer, TIME, LIFE, Mine Eyes Have Seen: Bearing Witness to the Struggle for Civil Rights

• George Kennedy, actor, Cool Hand Luke, Airplane!, The Naked Gun

• Larry Drake, actor, L.A. Law

• Joe Santos, actor, The Rockford Files, The Sopranos

• Garry Shandling, actor/comedian, The Larry Sanders Show, It's Garry Shandling's Show

• Merle Haggard, musician, "The Fightin' Side of Me," "Carolyn"

• David Smyrl, actor, Sesame Street; writer, Benson, Cosby Show

• William Schallert, actor, Star Trek, Dick Van Dyke, Wild Wild West, Bonanza, etc.

• Ken Howard, actor, The White Shadow, 1776

• Malick Sidibe, photographer

• Jim Harrison, author/screenwriter, Legends of the Fall

• James Noble, actor, Benson

• Patty Duke, actor, The Miracle Worker, Valley of the Dolls, Patty Duke Show

Morley Safer, journalist, 60 Minutes

• Nicolas Tikhomiroff, photographer, Magnum

• Bob Fitch, civil rights photographer, Southern Christian Leadership Conference

• John Margolies, photographer

• Bill Henderson, actor/musician, Clue, City Slickers

• Muhammad Ali, athlete/activist

• Doris Roberts, actor, Everybody Loves Raymond, Remington Steele

• Chyna, actor/wrestler, WWF, 3rd Rock from the Sun

• Guy Hamilton, director, Goldfinger, Live and Let Die, Man with the Golden Gun

Gareth Thomas, actor, Blake's 7

• Prince, musician/actor, Purple Rain, "Little Red Corvette"

• Madeleine Lebeau, actor, Casablanca

• John Berry, musician, The Beastie Boys

• Alan Young, actor, Mister Ed, The Time Machine

• Ken Graves, photographer 

• Theresa Saldana, actress/author, The Commish, Raging Bull

• Bill Cunningham, photographer, New York Times

• Sir Peter Shaffer, playwright/screenwriter, Equus, Amadeus

• David Gilkey, photojournalist, NPR

• Mary Feik, aviation pioneer

• Ronnie Claire Edwards, actor, The Waltons

• Lois Duncan, author, Stranger With My Face, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Killing Mr. Griffin

• Michu Meszaros, actor, ALF

• Anton Yelchin, actor, Star Trek

• Fan Ho, photographer, 

• Alvin Toffler, author, Future Shock, The Third Wave

• Elie Wiesel, author/Nobel laureate/activist, Night, And the World Remained Silent

• Noel Neill, actor, Superman

• Michael Cimino, director, The Deer Hunter, Heaven's Gate

• John McMartin, actor, Sweet Charity, Law & Order

Garry Marshall, director/writer/actor, Happy Days, Pretty Woman, Murphy Brown

• Fred Ward, photojournalist, TIME, LIFE, Newsweek, National Geographic

• Sydney Schanberg, journalist who chronicled Khmer Rouge, New York Times

• William Gaines, journalist, Chicago Tribune, Pulitzer Prize

• George Curry, journalist, Emerge, Chicago Tribune, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis American, and much more

• Thomas Steinbeck, war photographer/author, Down to a Soundless Sea, The Silver Lotus

• Jerry Doyle, talk radio host/actor, Babylon 5

• Kenny Baker, actor, Star Wars, The Elephant Man

• James Woolley, musician, Nine Inch Nails

• John McLaughlin, speechwriter/journalist, National Review, The McLaughlin Group

• Steven Hill, actor, Law & Order, The Firm, Mission: Impossible

• Juan Gabriel, musician, Juanga

• Marc Ribound, photographer

• Gene Wilder, actor, Young Frankenstein, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and much more

 Hugh O'Brien, actor, The Shootist, Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp

• Phyllis Schlafly, activist/author, A Choice Not an Echo

• James Stacy, actor, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ozzie & Harriet

• Alexis Arquette, actor/activist, The Wedding Singer, Pulp Fiction

• W.P. Kinsella, author, Shoeless Joe (Field of Dreams)

Edward Albee, playwright, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Pulitzer Prize

• George Odom, actor, The Hurricane, Law & Order

• Bill Nunn, actor, Do the Right Thing, Spider-man, Sister Act

• Stanley "Buckwheat" Dural, musician, Buckwheat Zydeco

• Robert Weinberg, author/editor, Pulp, Lovecraft's Legacy

• Jean Shepard, singer-songwriter, "A Dear John Letter," "Slippin' Away"

• Hikaru Carl Iwasaki, photographer, TIME, LIFE

• Arnold Palmer, golf professional, Hall of Fame

• Jose Fernandez, baseball player, Miami Marlins

• Gary Glasberg, showrunner, NCIS, Bones

• Agnes Nixon, writer/showrunner, All My Children, Guiding Light, One Life to Live

• Larkin Malloy, actor, Guiding Light, All My Children

• Gloria Naylor, author, The Women of Brewster Place 

• Patricia Barry, actress, All My Children, Guiding Light, Days of Our Lives

• Jon Polito, actor, Homicide: Life on the Street, The Rocketeer, The Crow

• Tommie Mikal Ford, actor, Harlem Nights, Martin

• Dr. Donald Henderson, physician, helped eradicate smallpox

• Kevin Meaney, actor/comedian, Big, Uncle Buck

• Sheri Tepper, author, The Gate to Women's Country, Beauty

• Jack Chick, conservative cartoonist, This Was Your Life

• Bobby Vee, musician, "Take Good Care of My Baby"

• Kevin Curran, writer, The Simpsons, Married With Children

• Audley Coulthurst, Tuskagee airman 

• Tammy Grimes, actor, The Last Unicorn, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

• Jeroen Oerlemans, photojournalist, 

• Don Marshall, actor, Land of the Giants, Star Trek

• Natalie Babbitt, author, Tuck Everlasting

• Julie Gregg, actor, The Godfather, Batman

• Wolfgang Suschitzy, photographer/cinematographer

• Janet Reno, first female U.S. Attorney General

• Robert Vaughn, actor, The Man From UNCLE, The Magnificent Seven

• Leonard Cohen, singer/songwriter, "Hallelujah," "Suzanne"

• Gwen Ifill, journalist, PBS NewsHour

• Florence Henderson, actor, The Brady Bunch

• Fidel Castro, president of Cuba

• Fritz Weaver, actor, Holocaust, Thomas Crown Affair

• Alice Drummond, actor, Ghostbusters, Awakenings, Doubt

• Ron Glass, actor, Firefly, Serenity, Barney Miller

• 20 reporters and an entire football team in the Brazilian LaMia Flight 2933 crash

• Van Williams, actor, The Green Hornet

• Keo Woolford, actor, Hawaii 5-O, Godzilla (2014)

• Bernard Gallagher, actor, Downton Abbey, Crown Court

• Don Calfa, actor, Return of the Living Dead, Weekend at Bernie's

• Margaret Whitton, actor, Major League

• Rodney Smith, photographer, In the Land of Light: Israel, a Portrait of Its People

• Peter Vaughan, actor, Game of Thrones, Brazil

• Greg Lake, musician, King Crimson

• John Glenn, astronaut

• Joseph Mascolo, actor, Days of Our Lives, Bold and Beautiful, Jaws 2

• Ruth Gruber, photojournalist, New York Times, Herald Tribune

• William Christenberry, photographer, Getty

• E.R. Braithwaite, author, To Sir With Love

• Alan Thicke, actor, Growing Pains 

• Bernard Fox, actor, Bewitched, Titanic, The Mummy

• Craig Sager, sportscaster

• Dr. Henry Heimlich, physician/researcher

Zsa Zsa Gabor, actor, Moulin Rouge, Touch of Evil

• Gordie Tapp, singer/entertainer, Hee Haw

• Dick Latessa, actor, Hairspray, Stigmata

• Alphonse Mouzon, musician, The Eleventh House

• Vera Rubin, astronomer, innovator of dark matter theory

• Liz Smith, actor, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Vicar of Dibley

• George Michael, musician, Wham!, "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," "Faith"

• George S. Irving, actor, Underdog, The Year Without a Santa Claus

• Ricky Harris, actor/comedian, Poetic Justice, Everybody Hates Chris

• Barbara Tarbuck, actor, General Hospital, Short Circuit

Howard Bingham, photojournalist, LIFE, Sports Illustrated

• Tricia McCauley, actor, Step Up

• Richard Adams, author, Watership Down

• Carrie Fisher, actor/author, Star Wars, Postcards From the Edge

• Debbie Reynolds, actor/musician, Singin' in the Rain, Unsinkable Molly Brown, Irene, "Tammy"

• Cyril DeGrasse Tyson, civil rights and anti-poverty activist

• Don "Duck" Edwing, cartoonist, Mad Magazine

• Tyrus Wong, artist/art director, Bambi

• William Christopher, actor, MASH

 

Thank you for making our world a little more beautiful, a little smarter, or just inspiring us to create that much more. And here's to a much shorter list next year. 


Superb Owl 2016 Roundup

While the fans of the Mean Kitties mourn and fans of the Fire Horses celebrate, it's time for the real competition: The Ads. 

Overall, this year was a yawner. None of them stuck out as truly hysterical, powerful or even effective. At least we lacked the theme of several years running, "weak men and the women who harangue them." Or last year's quasi-depressing "heartfelt" ads that made us all run for the bar. This year, the theme was pretty much mediocrity. The good ads were mildly good; the bad ads were mildly bad; and the only real theme seemed to be, "inanimate objects will insult you." 

On to the ads, as nominated by those at the marvelous Superb Owl party I am honored to attend each year, and the good folks who followed along my livetweet and cross-post to Facebook. It's always more fun to watch with friends.

 

GOOD

Helen Mirren's Budweiser-sponsored PSA calling all drunk drivers "pillock." Important and amusing, with the bonus of wondering if Mirren actually would drink Bud. 

Jeep's "Portraits," one of the few truly moving ads this year with images from history interspersed with Jeep's part of it. I found it compelling, and even more interested in Jeep, which is kind of the point of ads.

• Who would have expected one of the best ads to be promoting avocados? Sci-fi zoo displays the blue dress (yes, it's blue) and poor Scott Baio, who doesn't even get the guac. Amusing and it made me want avocados. By the end of the night, everyone was giving it a thumbs-up.

• Lady Gaga's rendition of the National Anthem was beautiful and highlighted her considerable talent. The automatic comparison to Whitney Houston falls short, but barely. One amusing meme already circulating pointed out that her costume was "Super Bowl" by day and "hosting the Hunger Games" by night, but by Gaga standards, it was practically subdued.

BMW Mini's "Defy Labels" falls in the win column for me solely because I am dead tired of car ads that center on "image" and "lifestyle." Look, a clue for Madison Avenue: It's a car. Four wheels and an engine, a method of transportation. If you want to sell me a car, talk to me about gas mileage, reliability, safety and price. Stop trying to sell me an image and then relate it to the car as though buying the car makes me a different person. So even though I could never afford a BMW, I appreciate their attempt to shunt off the labels that say a car makes you more this and less something else or whatever. It's a freaking car.

• Others that people liked: "Moving On Up" spoof for Apartments.com, Death Wish Coffee with the valiant Vikings, the Singing Sheep (who really rocked, but didn't actually sell me a truck, which is baaaaaad.)

The Halftime Show. Granted, every show is a comparison to the nadir of live entertainment, the year of the Blackeyed Peas and the Dancing Boxheads. This year, I struggled past the realization that Coldplay's "oldies" segment dated to my college years and that 1995 really was 21 years ago. Then Bruno Mars stepped up, and Beyonce was queen, as usual. She never fails to impress, and the subtext of her Michael Jackson jacket and backup dancers in Black Panther gear was apparent (and the racists rose up on Twitter). I enjoyed it despite my decrepitude, and CultureGeek Jr. liked it as well. It's a rare musical act that can please both old and young.

 

MEDIOCRE

• In all fairness, several people nominated the Town Full of Ryan Reynolds as one of their favorites. I was mildly interested at first - Reynolds isn't my thing, but it was amusing in a "whut" kind of way, and I'm intrigued by Hyundai's pedestrian-alarm auto-stop feature. But later, others pointed out that car commercials underscoring "women are lousy drivers" should be relegated to the 1950s where they belong. My usual test for sexism is to flip the genders: would this be possible or considered funny if the genders were reversed? If it were a man distracted by a town full of beautiful women, would we be laughing? Maybe, but for the same reason: a stereotype that men are hormonally stupid, whereas this one said that women were hormonally stupid. So it's a good thing the car is smarter than we are? 

Shock Top beer's trash-talking tap continues that brand's strange idea that insulting its patrons is a good way to get them to drink your beer. I was amused by speculation that if Helen Mirren had been in that ad, she'd have put that mouthy orange wedge in its place.

Audi aimed for the heartstrings with the retired astronaut reliving his glory days by... driving an Audi, while listening to David Bowie. Points for intent, but in the end, it fell short, as did Steven Tyler's Skittles portrait.

• The Snickers "you're not yourself" ad caused a little controversy. Willem Dafoe transforms into Marilyn Monroe, so we can film The Seven-Year Itch. I thought it was amusing at first; then some discussion referred to it as transphobic. Was it funny because of the ongoing schtick, or because we were looking at Willem Dafoe in a dress? At first I didn't think much of it; last year, after all, we howled when Danny Trejo turned into Marcia Brady. But quite frankly, it isn't for me as a cisgendered heterosexual white woman to say what is or is not transphobic.

 

LOUSY

• Christopher Walken doing hand puppets with colored socks? It started out so well! And then the ad - with a message of "don't be beige" - switches to a Kia Optima. A white Kia Optima. Perhaps, if trying to teach us to be individuals, maybe not showing us such a boring product.

T-Mobile tries to blame lawyers for evil cell phone company policies. Yawn. Likewise Turbotax's "Never a Sellout," because Sir Anthony Hopkins deserves a better ad.

• There was one person excited about LG's "Man From the Future" ad with Liam Neeson. But seriously, who's hunting after wafer-thin TV shows? Waste of talent.

Prius's bank robber chase would have been mildly amusing, except it seemed to stem from some perceived public opinion that Prius's are slow, inefficient or otherwise mockable. Maybe I haven't been listening to the right late-night comedians, but everyone I know either loves Prius or wants one. It's also not much of an endorsement: "Prius is the preferred brand of felons everywhere!"

• The side effect of being tired of political news is that even when it's a spoof, we don't want to join the Bud Light Party. As writer Keith R.A. DeCandido pointed out, Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen were diminished by their Budweiser commercial; Budweiser was elevated by Helen Mirren's.

Doritos "Ultrasound" was annoying and quasi-horrifying for any woman who's been in labor, with bonus creepy points if you realize the subtext: "Doritos: Causing Miscarriage/Horribly Premature Birth!" Note: This was one of those fan-made spots, and there were some fans.

• Actively offensive: Buick believes women will fight each other over a bouquet, because naturally we're all vying to get married. Ah, sexism. What would the Superb Owl be without it? Note: My mockery of this one got me MRA types messaging me on Twitter! Ah, Internet, never change.

• The ones that were so mediocre as to be unmemorable: Squarespace with Key and Peele, Michelob's "Breathe," Doritos' dogs attempting to sneak into a grocery story, Marmot's marmot is disturbed (as are we) by an amorous camper.

Hyundai's "First Date" was a close contender for worst ad, with Kevin Hart stalking his clearly-adult daughter on her date. In full disclosure, several people thought it was funny. But frankly, I am tired beyond words of the whole "overprotective dad threatens boys with murder" schtick. It is insulting to girls because it robs them of their agency, their autonomy and their right to choose their own partners without clearing it with their owners - er, fathers. It is insulting to boys because it assumes they have no control of themselves and have no sense of right or wrong save fear of mutilation. Instead, read this column, which has been traveling around the internet this week. "If I treat my daughters with respect, listen to them when they speak, nurture their self-confidence, and honor who they are as young women then they will expect that from other men as well."

 

 

MOVIE ADS

Movie ads get their own category, because the quality of the ad is inherently tied to the quality of the movie it advertises. Someone who hates superhero movies will not be moved by the best ad showcasing one. So here's a roundup of the coming attractions, and whaddya mean, no Ghostbusters?

• Jason Bourne gets a teaser, and for some reason I didn't know this was happening. I thought they had rebooted with Jeremy Renner, so it just goes to show that I need to keep my ear to the ground more. And, um, catch up with two or three more movies. The promo shows us nothing about the plot beyond "Another Bourne Movie," with bonus Tommy Lee Jones.

• 10 Cloverfield Lanethe sequel no one asked for and most of us aren't sure should happen. At first I thought it was  gender-switched Misery, and John Goodman makes everything better. (Well, almost everything.) Bonus: It doesn't appear to be shaky-cam! (Seriously, I don't mind found footage, but Cloverfield nearly made me ill. I spent some of the movies "watching" with my eyes closed to avoid nausea.)

• Independence Day: Resurrection told us nothing we didn't already know about the movie. The only actual line is Jeff Goldblum's "What goes up must come down," which is something we were all screaming during the first movie only nobody was listening then! #physics Still, since I adored the original movie (warts and all), I can't help but be excited... and the visual of a city in literal upheaval? Almost (but not quite) as amazing as 1996's Super Bowl ad blowing up the White House.

• Captain America: Civil War pretty much had me squeeing on the floor, even if I'm annoyed that Black Widow is on Team Iron Man. (I'm totally Team Cap, in case anyone cares.) Still wondering how/why Tony is flitting about in the suit when he had the glowy thingamabob removed in the last movie (spoilers! Wait, that was, like, two years ago. Bite me.) But... it's Cap!

• Speaking of movies I can't wait to see... the flashback crew made me love X-Men again after the debacle that was X3, so Apocalypse looks pretty nifty. What am I saying? I'd watch it no matter what. 

• Deadpool was a big hit at the party. I'm not a big fan, but I'll probably watch it. Just not on Valentine's Day. (Bonus: "I always wanted to be a professional athlete. Because I wanted to have children in cities all over the world." Ouch.)

Others. There was Teenage Mutant Ninja Reptiles or something. Look, I didn't watch the show when it was cartoon or comic, and Megan Fox would not have been my choice for the smart, capable young reporter. And there was a cobbled-together 30-second spot for Jungle Book that didn't impress (and gave at least one reader the impression that Baloo was going to be a dumbass bro-type). So here's a better Jungle Book trailer. Finally, it doesn't matter how many times they show me trailers for Gods of Egypt. It's still the whitest Egypt in modern film historyHere ya go, moviemakers.

 

EXTRA CREDIT

 • We're tired of Verizon vs. T-Mobile, but props to Steve Harvey for owning his mistake and turning it into a funny.

 

WORST

• The decidedly unscientific poll is rarely unanimous, but in this case, Mountain Dew's unsettling puppymonkeybaby was the clear winner - or loser. Disturbing, unfunny and generally termed "nightmare fuel," no one liked this one.

BEST

 • If you're going to steal a mini Coke from the Hulk, you'd best be Ant-Man. 


How to Survive a Horror Movie: 2013 Edition

If you find yourself in a horror movie, there are a number of clues and tips that you can use to stay alive. Every Halloween, we here at CultureGeek Manor try to help you out, based on the Darwinian rules of horror movies as first explored in the scholarly work of The Film Professor. To wit: Those who survive get to procreate. And that's fun.

So without further ado: Here is this year's list of ways to survive a horror movie. Happy Halloween!

1. If the house you're living in tells you to "GO AWAY," do it.

2. If you're a virgin, stay that way.

3. If a killer with a knife is chasing you around the house, do not run upstairs. Go out the front door.

4. For the love of God, turn on the lights.

5. Never split up.

6. Never stoop over to see if the killer is dead. He's just waiting.

7. Don't get naked in front of an open window.

8. Avoid the following geographical locations, even on a bet: Amityville, Elm Street, Crystal Lake, Transylvania, remote islands, lover's lanes, secluded mountain resorts and all small towns in the state of Maine.

9. Never pick up hitchhikers.

10. If a small town off the highway seems deserted, it's probably for a very good reason.

11. If your speedometer starts running backward, trade the car.

12. Don't dig up strange-looking objects in the woods.

13. Never bury pets or loved ones in old Native American burial grounds. I mean, duh.

14. Don't try to solve puzzles that open doorways to Hell. Speaking of "duh."

15. Find out what your parents were up to when they were younger. You never know if they burned up a serial killer, had a mysterious "other child," are not your real parents, let a disabled child die while having naughty sex, or opened up a doorway to hell.

16. Ask yourself seriously: Do I really want to float?

17. If there is a knock at the door in the middle of the night but no one appears at the peephole, do not open the door and step outside to see who's there.

18. For that matter, don't say, "Who's there?"

19. Never turn your back to a door or press your ear against it to hear what's going on in there.

20. Don't assume it's your naked boyfriend/girlfriend under the sheet.

21. Never mess with DNA.

22. No sex in graveyards!

23. Keep the car filled with gas, tuned up, and for God's sake keep the keys with you.

24. On Halloween, there is no such thing as coincidence.

25. For that mater, there is no such thing as coincidence.

26. Never stay overnight in the old house at the edge of town that's supposed to be haunted. Let them think you're chicken. Even if the prize is one million dollars. It's not worth it.

27. Pig's blood does not make for a good practical joke.

28. The guy conducting the "insomnia study" in the spooky old mansion that no one will approach after dark is not telling you the truth.

29. Watch out for the guy with the accent purchasing the abandoned abbey next door. There's a reason he works the night shift.

30. If you're alone in the house and something calls out your name, leave through the nearest exit.

31. If there is no exit, make one.

32. When you've shot the monster six times to no effect, throwing the gun at it isn't likely to help.

33. Do not answer distress calls from deserted planets that never see daylight.

34. Don't touch the TV that calls out your name.

35. When the power goes out, do not go into the basement armed only with a candle to see if the fuse is out.

36. Reasons to consider moving out of that great house that was such a bargain: bleeding walls, disembodied voices, too many flies, a room in the basement painted red that wasn't on the blueprints, phone service that seems to come and go, windows that look like eyes, next-door neighbors chanting in the middle of the night, a history of horrible deaths, secret passages behind the bookcases, and all the women in town looooove to do housework.

37. In fact, when these things start happening, just set fire to the house. It always ends that way anyway and you'll save time.

38. There is no good reason why anyone's eyes should glow red.

39. The crank caller breathing heavily into the phone is already in your house.

40. Children speaking in deep, scary voices should be listened to. And possibly shot, depending on your movie's rating.

41. Oh yes, there IS a boogeyman.

42. If a kid says, "I see dead people," believe him.

43. If you ripped your phone out of the wall and it rings again anyway, don't answer it.

44. Clothing to avoid: high heels, dangling earrings, ancient amulets you don't understand, scarves of any kind. No capes!

45. Never break quarantine.

46. People wearing hockey masks, ski masks or any Halloween costume that covers the face should be avoided.

47. Don't back up. Look where you're going.

48. The crazy old guy everybody laughs at knows what he's talking about.

49. Leprechauns and genies really don't want to grant you three wishes.

50. The deal with the devil isn't worth it and the monkey's paw is not your friend.

51. Elevators going up and down by themselves have something wrong with them that a maintenance man can't fix.

52. Do not attempt to kill your spouse for her inheritance/life insurance/to marry your secretary. You will not get the results you seek.

53. The killer is one of your friends.

54. Reasons you are probably toast: you're a mayor, sheriff, high school principal or some other person of authority who doesn't believe in the monster; a lawyer, politician, CEO of a polluting corporation or similar sleazeball; a cop, doctor or similar adult trying to help the teenagers; you are obsessed sex and/or drugs; your breasts are bigger than your brain; you bullied the miserable geek or the ugly, unpopular girl; your name does not appear among the first three in the credits.

55. Never try to open the locked door.

56. Don't go in the water.

57. Pay attention to dogs, cats, horses and other creatures more intelligent than you. If they're nervous, scram. P.S. If the rats in the sewer are running, that's your cue to run faster.

58. Don't mess with the gypsies.

59. Never repeat any names while staring into the bathroom mirror.

60. When using a matter transporter, triple-check the pod for flies. Then check again.

61. If the price of that really neat knickknack includes "a favor," you don't want it.

62. Never take anything from a clown in a sewer. Duh.

63. If you're part of an elite military team on a secret mission, kill your teammates now. There's only going to be one left at the end, it might as well be you.

64. Screaming does nothing but annoy the dogs.

65. That quaint harvest ritual? If you aren't part of the coven, you don't want to be around for it.

66. There is a good reason why the town is not on the map.

67. Those kids aren't Amish.

68. Psychos do not explode when sunlight hits them, I don't care how crazy they are.

69. Never say the following sentences:

  • Trust me.
  • It could be worse.
  • I think we've lost them.
  • I know where we are.
  • I have a plan.
  • Hey, watch this!

70. Aim for the head.

71. You need a bigger boat.

72. Don't watch the videotape.

73. Skip the shortcut.

74. You won't be right back.

75. The aliens are not friendly.

And finally....

76. No, it's not your imagination.


Best. Car Commercial. Ever.

Yes, I owe you reviews on Iron Man 3 and Oz the Great and Powerful. Yes, I've got the season finales warming up and plenty of bad acting to trash. I even have a run-down on Million Dollar Quartet, a surprisingly fun romp currently at the Fox.

But because I'm swamped right now, you're gonna get this, and you're probably going to enjoy it a lot more than my usual ramblings. Because this is the best car commercial ever.

 

 

Note: If you actually don't know why Leonard Nimoy was singing about hobbits, here's why.

 


Heroine Problem

It's hardly worth yelling anymore. News flash: Sexism in genre fiction. Or, another Friday.

• First clue bat of the day goes to Marvel Comics, for pairing two shirts: one male, one female. One says "Be a hero!"; the other says, "I need a hero!" Guess which one is which? I know, we could debate sexism in comics till Doomsday (the event or the villain), but for now, could the home of Black Widow, Elektra, Jessica Jones, Ladyhawk, Rogue and Storm maybe remember that one does not require a penis to be a hero? Face, meet palms.

• Seanan McGuire comes under fire for being nominated for the Hugo. Yes, really. Sure, she says, it's fine if you don't like her stuff. But to criticize her for "overpromoting"? This seems to be a charge leveled at most female authors who promote their work, while male authors are simply seen as assertive businessmen. How many times did McGuire mention the Hugo in her blog? Twice. Wow, talk about saturating the market!

I'd tie that in with Sheryl Sandberg, whose new book Lean In earned her an interview on the Daily Show in which she pointed out something I've never really thought of: Go to a playground, and you will see a girl who speaks up called "bossy." You will never, ever hear of a boy being called "bossy." He'll be "showing leadership skills" or "king of the hill." The worst sexism is the kind that doesn't even recognize itself.

• Author Hugh Howey got temporarily famous by complaining about a woman who he says was rude to him at WorldCon. And nobody cares about rudeness at con - oh, I could tell you stories. What is getting everyone's attention is that he doesn't focus on this woman's statements or attitude... but on her appearance, how ugly he thought she was... "Big-toothed," the "batshit craziest broad," "she-devil" and some reference to a fantasy of accepting a Hugo by calling this woman a name and grabbing his crotch. It ends with the classy and subtle, "Suck it, bitch." In fact, it's delightfully titled, "The Bitch From WorldCon." Her great sin, apparently, was in disagreeing with him in a somewhat condescending manner. Not that anyone else in that room was being condescending, of course.

Setting aside the ongoing class warfare between traditional publishing and self-publishing (soon to become a religous war! Tune in tomorrow!), I'm with Jeff Vandermeer when he writes, "I'm fed up with writers who canonize their path to success as the way to do it for everyone. It's limiting and it shows no imagination or caring for other people. As for the language in this post: just ask yourself, would *you* ever write a post using words like this?"

To give Howey a smidgeon of credit, he admitted on Twitter that the post was "in jest, admittedly with poor humor." Yeah, perhaps "Suck it, bitch," was taken the wrong way.

I'd love to give you something happy to end this, but unfortunately it's been a rough week for the heroines. And now I shall await the cavalcade of critics telling me how I'm Just Too Sensitive and we women need to Learn How To Take a Joke. Raise your hand if you're tired of hearing that.

 

EDIT: I take it back. I can give you something happy.