Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Heading out to Columbus

I'm keeping this short because I have to head in the morning to Columbus, Ohio for the 2016 World Fantasy Convention.  I have to admit that I'm not looking forward to the nearly eight-hour drive, but most of the plane flights between here and there consume as much time as the drive, so driving it is.

I hope to write more later about what I'll be doing at the con, but the short form is that in addition to attending and talking with friends, I'm moderating one panel, participating in another, doing a reading, and holding down a chair during the Friday night mass autographing.

If you're also going to the con, come by and say hi.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Keeping Up with the Joneses

is a movie with moments that are so intensely awkward that they were almost physically painful to watch.  I wanted to like it, and I did like many parts of it, but in the end I wished I had waited to watch it at home, where I could pause it and escape the awkwardness from time to time.

The basic plot is obvious from the trailer, so I won't review it, but it is enough to serve as the foundation for a movie.  Jon Hamm turns in exactly the performance you'd expect and is plenty good enough.  Gal Gadot is coldly radiant, again exactly what you want from her character.  Isla Fisher is better than I expected, though she cannot carry off being as plain as the filmmakers seem to want us to think she is; she manages to look less than stunning only when she's next to Gadot.

The problems are Zach Galifianakis and the filmmakers' decision to make his character the most important one in the movie.  He turns in the most toned-down performance I've yet seen from him, but it's still too much.  The script is probably more to blame than he is, but in scene after scene he is the weakest and most awkward actor on screen.

If you're a Gal Gadot completist, or if you don't mind awkward humor, check out Keeping Up with the Joneses.  Otherwise, give it a pass.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

#HoldOnToTheLight - Please keep fighting

I'm writing this entry as part of the #HoldOnToTheLight blog campaign (more on it at the end of this post), but I've discussed this topic on multiple occasions in the blog, because it's important to me.

If you're one of the many people having trouble simply making it through the day, if the trauma you suffered darkens your days or your nights, if the bees in your head make every little thing a struggle, if after all of this you're considering giving up and killing yourself, I'd like to ask you to do something I have no right to ask.

I'd like you to keep fighting.

I can't claim to understand what you're going through.  Each of us fights our own demons, and each battle is unique.

I can tell you, though, that I've been in my own dens of horrors, and that at one point I came close to killing myself.

I've written about that time in a few places, including in this blog and in my afterword to the Baen edition of The Man Who Sold the Moon.  Here's the short form.  I was eleven years old.  I was in a messed-up paramilitary youth group in which twice a week I was physically abused in more ways than I care to list--and when they weren't abusing me, they taught me things no child should learn.  I was also being beaten at least once daily at home, beaten by a woman who had been the victim of abuse and who knew how to beat you for a long time while leaving no visible marks.  (Large, flat surfaces are key; think shoes and frying pans and even spatulas, which sting after the first few whacks.)  I saw no end to this abuse, no way out except to grow older, and I wasn't sure I could take it anymore.

I ultimately decided not to kill myself and instead to stay alive so that one day I could stop the assholes who were hurting me each week and kill the woman who was beating me daily.  I took all of my anger and hurt and pain and turned this horrible rage into a glowing ball of power, a ball that I could hold onto when nothing else would work, that would get me through the cold, desperate nights of pain and powerlessness.

I never did stop those assholes.  I just quit the group when I could--though only after becoming its highest-ranking member.

I never did kill the woman.  I came closer than I should have, but I stopped myself, and she stopped beating me, my sister, and my brother.

I still have the ball of rage, though I like to think it's smaller now, much smaller, and I rely on it less and less.

A bad case of PTSD grabbed me and has never let go.

In the course of all of this, I gained a true and profound sorrow at the loss of each person who chooses suicide.  I respect their choice, but it saddens me.  I feel the loss.  I feel it like another beating, like when a DI ground my face into my own vomit.  I feel it as pain and powerlessness and rage at the world for the damage it does to us all.

Here's the thing:  if you kill yourself, you not only leave behind wreckage, you deprive yourself and the world of those good things, however few or many they may be, that you would have enjoyed and created.

Had I killed myself, I would have devastated at least my mother, sister, and brother.  If you read this blog, it's probably because you are a friend or someone who enjoys my fiction or my other writing (or maybe you're in both camps).  Had I killed myself, none of that would exist now.

I'm not vain enough to think that in the greater scheme of things I matter a lot, but in the here and now, in this life, I know I matter to some folks.

So do you.

Even if you don't think you matter to anyone, if I know you, you matter to me.  If I don't know you, feel free to email me (easy to do via my site), and then I'll know you, and you'll matter to me.

As I said at the start, even though I have no right to do so, I'm asking you to keep fighting.  Seek help--and don't be ashamed that you could use it.  Call on all the tricks you've used in the past.  Do not give up.

Keep fighting.  Please.

About the campaign:

#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention, and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming, and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention, such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA), and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors and blog posts, or reach a media contact, go to http://www.HoldOnToTheLight.com and join us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/WeHoldOnToTheLight

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is fun but no more

As I've written earlier that I would, I had to catch this second film adaptation of the wonderful Jack Reacher novels from Lee Child.  I entered the theater vaguely aware of the bad reviews but fully prepared to love the movie.

I didn't.  I had fun and don't regret seeing it, but the film never fully clicked.

The individual parts generally worked.  The plot moved along quickly.  Tom Cruise handled the Reacher role reasonably well, speaking little and staying within character.  Cobie Smulders stole the show and should get more leading roles.  Danika Yarosh did well.

It just didn't quite come together the way I wanted it to.  I think the fault may have been the film's decision to make Reacher more human, less perfect, less effective.  Reacher isn't a conventional character.  He wins fights.  He kicks ass against overwhelming odds.  The movie should have let him be the character that Child writes.  Instead, they added vulnerabilities that did not, to my taste, help the movie.

Still, I had a fun time.  If you're looking for light action entertainment, check it out.

Friday, October 21, 2016

No wolverine movie has yet been all that I've wanted

but this trailer makes me hopeful for the next one.

(Warning:  It's a violent Red Band trailer.)

I love how ragged this Logan is.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sarah and Ben on swings in the sky

Earlier tonight, a group of us went to the North Carolina State Fair for our annual visit to this rather amazing American and North Carolinian institution.  I must confess to loving it in all of its excess.

It's late, so I'll write my usual State Fair food sampling report another day.  Until then, this picture of Sarah and Ben on the swings ride--you might have to look closely to find them--will have to hold you.

If you're having trouble spotting them, click the image to see a larger version.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Trump on the peaceful transition of power

From the debate earlier tonight:

Chris Wallace: But, sir, there is a tradition in this country, in fact, one of the prides of this country is the peaceful transition of power and no matter how hard fought a campaign is that at the end of the campaign, that the loser concedes to the winner. Not saying you're necessarily going to be the loser or the winner, but that the loser concedes to the winner and the country comes together in part for the good of the country. Are you saying you're not prepared now to commit to that principle?
Donald Trump: What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time. I'll keep you in suspense, okay?
No, it's not okay.  It's really not.

Chris Wallace is a Fox News reporter, and even he was clearly incredulous at this declaration from Trump.

If you lose, you don't fight the election results; you concede and move on with your life.

At this point, Trump is so consistently outrageous that people joke about his behavior, shrug, and seem to accept it.  We should not.  We must not.

The only sure way to keep Trump from becoming the next President of the United States is by voting for Hillary Clinton.

I am voting for Hillary Clinton.

You should, too.


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