Smupdate

In other words, Smudge update! This little guy has been living it up here in the Scalzi compound and is being an adorable pain in the neck! He is the most playful kitten we’ve ever had, Sugar and Spice as kittens don’t even compare to how crazy this dude is. He loves chewing on cords, which is kind of an issue, especially since we have a lot of different chargers in this house. And he loves attacking literally any part of your body, not just toes, as most kittens do. He will straight up attack your hair or your thigh, totally unprovoked. He’s a real wild child.

But, as you can see, when he’s sleeping, he’s a little cuddly angel who does no wrong. He is also a major explorer! If you leave a door open, he will not hesitate to venture forth into the unknown. Smudge is also very unafraid of the other cats, even though they still largely dislike him. They hiss and bat at him, and yet he still charges at full speed towards them. He doesn’t take hints very well.

Well, anyways, enjoy this adorable picture of Smudge, and have a great day!

New Books and ARCs, 7/13/18

Friday the 13th is a lucky day here at the Scalzi Compound, because I get to show off all these new books and ARCs to you. What here would you consider yourself lucky to read? Tell us all in the comments!

My Three Sons, One a Parrot: A Twitter Story

It began innocently enough.

What a heartwarming tale of love and acceptance of Myke Cole, my son, who identifies as a parrot.

Postscript:

Private Lives in a Public Era

Writer Ella Dawson posted a piece on her blog (subsequently posted to Vox) entitled “We Are All Public Figures Now,” in which she tackles what she sees as the erosion of personal privacy due to social media and other factors, and what she thinks it all means. It’s an interesting read and I recommend it, and also, I agree with much of it, in spirit, if not in the letter of the law.

More specifically, relating to the letter of the law, “public figure” is means a specific thing here in the US, and in fact most people aren’t one, even if you have a Twitter or Facebook or other social media feed. It takes a reasonable amount of effort to become one (although if you want a shortcut, get elected to something). There is such a thing as a “limited public figure,” which essentially carves out a slice of your life for which you can be held up for public comment and scrutiny. But even then, that’s not most people. It takes some work in the US not to be a private individual, and I suspect most people don’t want to make that effort. So from a strictly legal, New York Times Co. v. Sullivan point of view, no, we’re not all public figures, nor are we likely to be found so.

But it is absolutely true that these days, far more of our daily activity is able to be made public, though use of phones, cameras, social media and other tools. Words or activity that would previously be confined to a select few — and would be expected to be private — can now be transmitted to a much wider audience, very quickly. This includes words and actions you might have reasonably expected would not be in the purview of the public at all.

For example, the instigating action of Dawson’s piece, in which a passenger on a plane livetweeted an apparent “meet cute” between two other passengers in the row in front of her. The livetweeter, among other things, illustrated the tweeting with photos (with faces scrubbed but even so), noted the two people being tweeted about had active social media accounts, and did other things to make it easy (or easier) for the people following the livetweeting to suss out who these two people might be — and indeed, they were found online — at which point the Internet does what it does, for good and ill, and then it came for the original livetweeter.

None of these people, it should be noted, are public individuals — the meet cute couple certainly not, but also not the livetweeter, even if they later admitted hoping to get a writing gig (being a writer also doesn’t automatically make you a public figure). And also, the couple chatting away at each other almost certainly did not expect to have their private conversation documented by someone else, particularly in a way that made it possible for their identities to be discovered by total strangers. Now, you can argue whether or not a commercial plane qualifies as a public or private space, and we’d be here all day about that, but I think it’s reasonable to say that the two people chatting with each other believed their discussion would not leave the confines of their airline row. Thanks to this, neither of the two of them will likely think that again.

And the question (or a question, anyway) is where the proper line should be for things like this. If the livetweeter had posted the rundown of their discussion, but without pictures or identifying details, would that have been kosher? If the couple had been excessively loud, so that anyone in the surrounding rows could have heard them, would they have been fair game? If one or the other had been making an ass of themselves, would, say, pictures, be back on the table? Is there a hard and fast rule for what is acceptable to tweet about strangers on airplanes? Is it different if they’re in a cafe? Or at a political rally? Is it different if retelling is not livetweeted but is instead saved for a blog post or article at a later time?

This is all interesting for me for at least two semi-competing reasons. The first is that I am a writer; I do a lot of observing of other people and listening in public. Occasionally I’ve written about what I’ve seen or heard. I tend to be very expansive about what’s fair game to listen and look at in public and quasi-public spaces (i.e., if I can hear your conversation when I’m on the street or in a cafe or on an airplane without making an effort to, I’m not going to feel like it’s out of bounds to pay attention to what you’re saying, and maybe you should be quieter, my friends). But I’m equally aware that not everything I hear or see needs to be documented, commented on, or be offered up for public enjoyment on social media, not in the least because the people I’m observing are usually just leading their own private lives. My awareness of my own megaphone, and my responsibilities in using it, comes into play here. I have to make judgment calls about whether what I see is commentable, and how so, and when so. Whether you agree with those judgment calls will be your own decision to make.

The second is that I’ve been on the other end of this equation too: I’ve had my public whereabouts and whenabouts commented on in real time by people on social media, and not when I was doing something meant for public consumption, like a panel or tour event, but when I was just loitering about in an airport or a coffeeshop. And you know what? That’s a little weird. It doesn’t bother me, generally, and I’ve personally never been made to feel unsafe because of it, and sometimes it’s even nice. But on the other hand, what’s comfortable or acceptable for me is not necessarily so for anyone else in a similar position, and in any event I’m not sure it will do anyone on social media any good, least of all me, if someone takes a picture of me scratching my ass or picking my nose while I’m waiting at a boarding gate. I’d want people to exercise the same judgment as I try to have in a similar situation.

(And for the record, with that couple on the plane, in the same situation I probably wouldn’t have tweeted anything about them, or if I did, I suspect I would have kept it to a couple of non-specific tweets — but I might have stored away the meet cute scenario for later, if I ever get around to writing a contemporary romantic comedy, which, hey, I might, so there.)

With a lot of this, honestly, a little empathy goes a long way — remembering that other people have lives beyond their capacity to be tweet fodder or story material for you, and that for the most part they want to keep it private, and reasonably have that as an expectation. As should you, if the situation was reversed. What’s “public” is a lot wider now, but in the appropriate times and places, we can still extend the courtesy of privacy, or, if not that, then anonymity.

And Now, For Your Summer Monday Viewing Pleasure, My Backyard Maple

It’s very green. And yes, maples are generally best photographed in the fall, when they’re all blazed up in yellows and oranges, but I think there’s something to be said for the moment when they’re in the height of their green as well.

It’s been a beautiful summer around here so far. Hope yours has been, too.

Saturday Afternoon Catnapping, Starring Smudge

He’s all kittened out. Hope your Saturday is going well.

Keep Scott Pruitt Moist: The Dramatic Reading

I’ve been a fan of Alexandra Petri for a while now — she’s possibly the funniest person in newspapers today — but I think she went above and beyond with “Keep Scott Pruitt Moist,” a column that went up mere hours before the man resigned his position as head of the EPA, and which I think qualifies as an actual science fiction short story (one worth considering for awards, even). I liked it so much that I decided to make a dramatic reading of the column. With Alexandra Petri’s permission I am presenting it here. Enjoy.

 

New Books and ARCs, 7/6/18

I hope you like books, because this week we’ve got a very fine stack of new books and ARCs that have come to the Scalzi Compound. What here would you be loving to read right now? Tell us all in the comments.

Nanette, Hannah Gadsby and Me

You don’t need me to tell you that Nanette, a new Netflix comedy special by Hannah Gadsby, is an unexpected landmark in stand-up performance, because so many others will tell you that. But I’m going to anyway (before I go on to make a tangential point): For the first fifteen minutes or so, Nanette is a pleasant enough show, with Gadsby talking, in a winningly self-deprecating fashion, about growing up “a little bit lesbian” in Tasmania in a time when being such was actually and literally illegal. And then, having established this winningly self-deprecating mode for making her audience comfortable with who and what she is, Gadsby spends the rest of the special angrily and righteously deconstructing those first few minutes, not sparing herself, her audience or the culture at large.

I had heard about the special from friends who were discussing it in detail, so I knew a little bit about the outlines of what I was going to see when I flicked it on. But hearing about it and watching it are two entirely different things. I hadn’t heard of Gadsby before literally five days ago, and at this point I have two thoughts about her: One, I’m not sure I can go back and watch anything she did before this without knowing what it cost her, as she describes it in Nanette; Two, if in fact she doesn’t do stand-up comedy again (as she suggest she might not in the special), she’s quite possibly already changed how stand-up gets done. It seems nearly impossible to me that anyone who does stand-up comedy, or wants to, won’t see this special and realize how much it changes the game.

Well, let me back up on that. People are human, they like jokes; comedians are human, they like the attention they get from jokes. People aren’t going to stop performing comedy, some of it easy and simple; people aren’t going to stop going to comedy shows, many of them pleasant and disposable. Comedy is mostly entertainment, and not all entertainment is challenging or meant to be, and not every entertainer will want to push their audience to the edge of their comfort zone (and of course there’s more than one “audience”). Stand up as we know it will survive Gadsby and Nanette, for better or worse.

But I think that practitioners and audiences who are interested in how the stand-up sausage gets made are going to realize that Gadsby has raised the bar for them with this special. She’s given the game away, and made the point that the self-deprecation of comedy, the easy comfortableness of it, isn’t harmless to comedians from the margins of society, which still is anyone who is not straight and white and male. You can make the same jokes if you want, but you can’t go back from that understanding. Gadsby may or may not want the responsibility for that; ultimately with Nanette, as she says, she wants to tell her own story from where the focus of the story is not harmful to her. It’s her story, and it’s personal. But I’m pretty sure it will have implications outside of her personal life, particularly with comedians. Gadsby and Nanette has given them all homework.

I found Nanette a remarkable piece of writing and performance, and tangentially, in watching it I found Gadsby illuminated something for me about my own recent writing and thinking. I write a lot of humor and I’m pretty good at it, and over the years I’ve written quite a bit of humor about current events. I find myself rather less inclined to write humor about current event these days, particularly in a format longer than a Tweet (I’m having no problem being tweet-length snarky). It can still be done, and brilliantly — look at Alexandra Petri in the Washington Post — but I have a harder time doing it right now.

In Nanette, Gadsby makes the point that a punchline is the end of a joke but not the end of a story; she argues it’s often in the middle of a story, and focusing on the punchline comes at the expense of what comes after, which is usually more important for the people living the story (she illustrates this in the special in a way I won’t tell you now but I imagine will affect you deeply when she recounts it). I think one can quibble with this formulation in all sorts of ways, but I think for me it’s well on point as to why I feel restless and dissatisfied merely cracking jokes about what’s going on in the US right now. I’m less concerned about the punchline and more concerned about what’s coming after that. I don’t get much joy out of writing humorously about what’s going on today, because after the punchline is a miserable state of affairs that’s going to need more than jokes to get clear of.

I say my own observation is tangential to what Gadsby is on about in Nanette because it is, not in the least because Gadsby and I are coming from different places when we write funny stuff. We are different people and one of us isn’t in fact in the cultural margin. And I don’t know that this will stop me entirely from writing humorously about current events; I’m me. But it does help me understand why it hasn’t been making me happy: Basically, because it feels incomplete to me. I think it’s all right to write humorously about what’s going on in the world right now. But it’s not sufficient in itself. There’s more to be done, and more to be done by me, and I’ve got some thinking to do on that.

In this respect, Gadsby and Nanette is giving me homework, too. I can’t say I’m 100 percent happy about this. I’m lazy and I don’t necessarily want to do the work. But I also can’t pretend that I don’t know this about myself now. That’s a real thing.

Smudge & Zeus

This picture pretty much sums up their relationship at this point. 

In general the rest of the cats are slowly learning to tolerate Smudge, who to be fair does not make it easy for them by running right up them and getting into their respective furry faces, which they do not like at all. They’ll all figure it out eventually, I expect.

Happy July 4th, Here’s Smudge Playing Fetch

In, one assumes, a patriotic fashion.

An Addendum to An Addendum

(Looks on the Internet)

Huh, seems some Harlan Ellison fans are very angry about this addendum to my piece in the Los Angeles Times about his passing. Well, fair enough; so, let me offer up some further points about it.

1. Why is it an addendum here rather than in the LA Times piece proper? Mostly because I asked what length the piece should be and was told it should be 900 words, and decided this bit was cuttable there and postable here. The piece was always intended for print as well as online, so writing to a specific length was a thing.

As someone who worked at newspapers before online versions of papers were around, writing to length is fun and a challenge I don’t usually have anymore (save for hitting a contracted length for a novel, which is a very different dynamic). Part of the challenge is self-editing, i.e., deciding what parts to keep and what parts to trim. This addendum was trimmable, but still said something I wanted to say, so I said it here. This is why the blog is here in the first place.

2. If it made you angry: That’s fine. To paraphrase another writer on a similar matter, hate to shake you up, but I write to suit myself.

3. Likewise, for those complaining that I did it to “virtue signal” or appear “woke”: lol, okay there, friend. Bear in mind I did this five years ago now — literally five years and a day ago — and I didn’t do it to for any other reason than I was sick of friends being harassed at conventions and having to put up with bullshit. I have a long history of writing things like this. And yes, as it happens, Ellison groping Connie Willis was on my mind, among many other incidents involving harassment at science fiction conventions over the years, when I made that my official convention attending policy.

And when people mewled that I was doing that to be seen as virtuous and woke, this is what I wrote:

I would be perfectly happy if women/minorities/queerfolk of all sorts feel like I fully support their right to go to a convention (and, in general, go through life) and not get harassed for it. The problem is not that I would be happy about this. The problem is the people who think being happy to be seen that way constitutes “sucking up.”

To the extent that my public opinions and personal ethics make other people happy, that’s great. To the extent they irritate or annoy other people, that’s their problem, not mine. In neither case do I have public opinions and personal ethics for those reasons. I have them for me.

4. I do think some Ellison partisans are not aware — or possibly don’t want to be aware — how significant and fundamentally damaging to Ellison’s reputation that the Connie Willis incident was to much of a generation of science fiction and fantasy writers and fans. Regardless of Ellison’s reasons, rationales or intent, it came across to a whole group of people as I get to do this, in front of thousands of people, and you have to take it. It would have been bad enough to do that to anyone, but to do it to someone as personally and professionally admired and beloved in the community as Willis gave it an extra dimension. It made the point that no woman, not even a best-selling, multiply award-winning, brilliant and beloved woman, could expect more from her male peers, publicly or privately.

But that’s not why Ellison did it! Well, I’ve heard lots of reasons why Ellison did it, but no matter why he did it, a lot of people took away something else from it.

But he apologized to Willis! As he should have, and good for him. But other people, including the literally thousands of people he did it in front of, get to decide for themselves how to feel about the incident. Lots of them are still angry about it.

But Ellison was a feminist! Sure. And also, he groped Connie Willis on stage in front of thousands of people. And that moment goes on the permanent record, along with all the other good and bad things he did over the course of a long and interesting life. People get to decide for themselves what it means, and what he means, to them.

5. Now, some of you may not like that some other people in your opinion overweight that single incident. That’s fine, and be aware there are plenty of people who don’t like that you in their opinion appear to want to dismiss it as inconsequential. For me, it was literally my first encounter with the man, so, you know what? It looms large in my memory and it colors my thoughts about him. Harlan Ellison was a brilliant, argumentative, cranky, romantic (in the Byronic sense of the word) volcano of a writer and person, and I loved much of his writing, enjoyed speaking to him, and admired much about him. And also, the very first time I saw him in the flesh, he groped someone I like and admire, personally and professionally, in front of an audience. I laughed when it happened because I thought it couldn’t possibly be serious or unplanned. I was wrong about that, and wrong to laugh.

And for better or worse, that moment — that action of Ellison’s — was a signal moment for me. Both in thinking about how men treat women, and also, how women were treated in a community I had started to call my own. It helped to define me, and who I wanted to be in relation to this community. I don’t want to overstate things here, and there were lots of other moments in terms of my own relationships with women and my community that mattered as well to get me where I am today (and I’ll be the first to note I am a work in progress). But this was one of the first, and it sticks out in my brain. And it sticks out in my perception of who Ellison was. You can like that or not, but it doesn’t change the fact.

6. So, here’s the important thing about all of the above: You don’t get to tell me how to feel about Harlan Ellison or what he meant to me. You also don’t get to tell me how to write or talk about him. Or, more accurately, you can, but I’m not obliged to listen or care. You can complain all you want about what I say and think, of course. And I happily acknowledge that your own personal thoughts on Ellison may be different than mine, and substantially so, based on your own experiences with him. I don’t pretend Harlan Ellison and I were great or even good friends; I was someone he called when he wanted to complain about things, and I was happy to be so. But I do get to take the sum of my experiences with him, and with them craft a Harlan Ellison in my brain, consistent with those experiences and my other knowledge of him.

This version is necessarily incomplete in terms of the whole of his character, but that’s the case of anyone who was not him (and note well that in general, our own versions of ourselves have massive gaps and elisions, because ego is a hell of a drug). This version of Harlan Ellison did any number of things I deeply admire, and also a number of things I don’t, and, obviously, one thing I consider very bad which sticks with me. The Harlan Ellison in my head is complicated, and I am content to let him be so.

7. Corollary to this, you don’t get to tell other people who are not me how to feel about Ellison, either. They’re going to have their own version in their head as well, and you are unlikely to change that. Speaking as someone who gets to see all sorts of fantasy versions of me out there in the world — I particularly enjoy the fantasy version of me who is a failed writer, propped up by my publisher, which is itself on the verge of imminent implosion, for byzantine reasons that would confuse even the Illuminati and the Bilderberg Group — raging against these various homunculi does little good. They scurry about anyway.

What you can do, and what I actually encourage you to do, is speak about the version of Harlan Ellison (or indeed any other person) that you know. Your testimony in this regard is almost certainly going to be more persuasive than yelling at another person about their version of Ellison. If you make a good case, what you know of the man may be incorporated into that other person’s view of them. Certainly, my version of him has been influenced by those who knew him who have written about him, both before and after his passing.

I’m glad to know about these other Ellisons I did not get to meet, and now never will, except through other people’s eyes. He’s not boring, that’s for sure.

More Things I Don’t Miss

Eight years ago I wrote a piece on the subject of things about the past that I didn’t miss today. Since then I’ve thought of a few more things I’m sincerely glad we’ve consigned to the trash heap of history. Here they are.

1. Having to remember to save documents I’m writing. Like most people my age I have memories of forgetting to save whatever document I’m working on and then having the power go off, or the computer crash, or a program freeze and then staring dumbfounded at a screen for several seconds, trying to absorb the fact that sometimes hours of work — or entire chapters, or term papers, or whatever — were now nothing but virtual memories. These usually happened on hard deadlines for an extra level of I’m fucked to the already massive level of frustration of seeing so much effort just punted into the ether. I don’t think I know anyone my age who can’t remember screaming in disbelief and anger about it.

Fast forward to today, and I think it’s been three or four years since I’ve had to think about saving a document. This is because the two word processing programs I use the most — Microsoft Word and Google Docs — automatically save whatever you’re writing on a regular and frequent basis. I’m pretty sure Google saves, like, every thirty seconds or so, and I’m pretty sure Word saves almost as often (even WordPress, which I write these blog posts on, saves drafts of whatever I’m writing every minute or so). And both programs now automatically save remotely, so if something happens to the computer I’m typing on, the document still exists.

Yes, yes, privacy, huge multinational corporations mining my data, etc. On the other hand, I haven’t lost a document in years, and for someone like me, that’s huge. Now when the power cuts off, I don’t scream and have an urge to take a bat to my desktop computer. I just go, “huh, power’s down” and then have a soda while I wait for it to come back up, and then continue from where I left off, give or take a paragraph. That’s a friggin’ miracle, is what that is.

2. Paper maps. I am so tied into using Google Maps to get me where I need to go these days that I honestly can’t remember what it’s like to use a paper map anymore. I mean, I know I did use them — I got to places before 2007 — but my brain has apparently blocked the memory of their actual use. It’s like my brain said, welp, here’s a bunch of memories that have no purpose anymore and just chucked them out, but meanwhile I can remember the lyrics of all the songs on my daughter Jumpstart educational CD ROMs. My brain is weird.

Another thing I don’t miss: Having to get directions from friends, because I don’t know if you know this, but humans are fucking terrible at giving directions. I remember one friend in particular who would make giving directions into an avuncular and not-in-anyway-precise radio monologue (“and then you turn past Old Man Gilbert’s place, he’s been dead these 20-aught years but we never really took a shine to the new owners, especially after they painted the house yellow”) and I was all, just give me the goddamned cross streets, you garrulous ninny. Now I don’t even need the cross streets. Praise the technology gods!

3. Having to wait to listen/hear music. So, when I was 13, there was this song that came on the radio that I immediately fell in love with, but I missed the title of, and it was electro-pop and all my friends listened to heavy metal so they were no help, and there was nothing I could do but wait to see if the radio station would play it again, and they did, but I missed the intro and they didn’t identify the song at the end, so I had to wait again for them to play it, and it wasn’t like a hugely popular hit in the US at the time, and I had to go to school and all, so it took a week before I learned the song was called “Only You” by this group called Yaz, and the album it was on wasn’t in stock at my local music store, not that I really had the money to buy it anyway, so it took another week of me skulking by the radio in my room waiting for it to come on again so I could lunge at the tape recorder I had set up when it started, which meant that for a couple of years the only version of the song I had was one missing the first ten seconds and an interlude where my mom came in and told me dinner was ready.

And now, Only You:

See, isn’t that so much easier?

Also these days when I don’t know the band or the name of the song, but I do know a snippet of the lyrics, I can put them into the Googles and bam, there’s the whole song. I’m not a delayed gratification sort of person. I like this way much better. I do think today you have to remind people that if they like a song/album/artist they need to actually buy the work and support the musical artist, more than you had to do back in the day. But I do that (I have a rule that if I go out of my way to listen to a song/album three times, I buy it), so I’m good on that score. I’ve bought “Only You” on cassette and CD and electronically, so there’s that.

4. Film. Prior to owning a digital camera, I think I may have personally taken a couple hundred pictures or so in my lifetime (not counting the very brief time I was a yearbook photographer in high school). Since owning a digital camera, I expect I’ve taken at least a hundred thousand photos, and possibly more than that. Just today I’ve taken thirty, mostly of the new kitten and also of a pair of goldfinches hanging out on my windowsill.

What is the cause of this vast difference? Not the digital camera, per se; it’s the fact that before digital cameras, one had to buy film, put film into a camera, take film out of a camera, send it away to be processed, remember to go pick up the processed pictures, and then pay for the photos (or alternately, build a darkroom and develop photos one’s self, which was not cheaper, and you still had to buy film). Basically, getting photos out of your camera took effort and money, and I was both lazy and cheap (and sometimes poor), so there were lots of places for things to fall down, there.

Digital cameras were not better than film cameras back in the day, but they were no worse than the cheap disposable cameras I could afford way back, and I didn’t have to wait or pay extra to see the photos I was taking. For me that made all the difference.

Tangentally, I also don’t miss film in movie theaters, because sometimes it was scratchy and out of focus and every once in a while it would unspool weirdly and the sound would get muffled and honestly, what a pain in the ass. These days everything is digitally projected and film nerds will tell you that you’re missing the deep blacks and authentic film experience, but you know, in the years since digital took over movie theaters, I have yet to have to go complain that the show I’m watching is out of focus or is poorly framed or all sorts of other things I had to do, and I don’t miss having to be the guy who does that (because I was always the guy who did that).

In sum: film sucks.

5. Saturday morning cartoons. It’s hard to explain to the Kids These Days™ just how much animated cartoon shows from the 70s and 80s blew. Six frames per second animation! Hanna-Barbera shows that were three or four teenagers + [insert wacky animal/object/caveman] playing in a band and/or solving “crimes”! Everything having a terrible “moral” segment tacked on to the ending! The Bugs Bunny cartoons, except they censored the violence! And that was the good stuff.

You what I felt the first time I watched Spongebob Squarepants? I felt angry. Spongebob was better than every Saturday morning cartoon I had ever watched from age three to age thirteen, combined*. Even the crappiest of cartoons my daughter grew up on were better written, better animated, and less openly contemptuous of the intelligence of their audience than anything I had grown up on. I want a goddamned actual refund on every single Saturday morning I sat in front of the TV. That seems only fair.

*Except for the School House Rock bits. Those are still cool.

 

Important Update: The Kitten Has a Name

 

And it is:

Smudge, aka Lord Aloysious Smudgington III, aka Smudge the Mighty Toe Hunter, aka Smoooooooge.

Please update all relevant records.

Thank you for your attention.

New Book and ARCs, 6/29/18

As we come to the end of another June, here is a substantial stack of new books and ARCs that have come to the Scalzi Compound, calling out to be read and appreciated. What here is calling to you, specifically? Tell us in the comments!

And Now, This Important Kitten Update

Yeah, we’re gonna keep him.

RIP, Harlan Ellison

I have a piece on his passing over at the Los Angeles Times site.

I should note an addendum here: I was in the audience at the 2006 Hugos when Harlan groped Connie Willis, and laughed because I thought it was a set piece between them. I later learned it was not and was embarrassed I had laughed. I have a pretty good idea why Harlan did it and why he thought it was harmless, but he was wrong to have done it and deserved the anger sent his way for it. I liked talking to him and admired his work immensely, and appreciated the complicated human he was. I just wish the first time I had seen him in person, he hadn’t have humiliated a colleague, a woman and a great writer. It stays with me even now.

Sunset 6/27/18

Enjoy! I figure you might need it.

Surprise! Kitten!

Those of you who follow the Twitter feed know that a couple of days ago, just before we left for San Diego, in fact, Athena and her boyfriend Hunter found a small, defenseless kitten mewing helplessly in the field near our house. Well, they’re suckers for helpless kittens that come bounding up to them wanting to be rescued, so they rescued it. It’s spent the last couple of days at our mother-in-law’s (with a side trip to the vet), and now it’s back here, and specifically in my office.

It’s adorable, and rambunctious, and a he, or so the vet tells us, and otherwise tells us it’s in fine health. I was sort of hoping my mother-in-law would want to keep it, but she’s decided that she’s tapped out with two shih tzus, which is fair. We’ll check around to see if anyone around us wants a delightful, playful kitten (and indeed, if you are local-ish and do want a kitten, please email me). But if not, well, I guess we’ll have a new kitten. I’m sure the other cats will be thrilled.

In any event: Look! Kitten!

Congratulations Deven and Claudia

If you’ve been wondering what we’ve been up to the last few days, it’s this: Two of our very dear friends, Deven and Claudia, got married to each other, and we as a family were there to see it happen. We also saw a number of other, equally dear friends at the wedding and generally had a wonderful time in San Diego, which is one of our favorite cities on the planet. Basically, just a perfect set of days.

Today we’re back to Ohio, and both I and Athena will be back on a regular writing schedule here. But it was nice to get away from the world for a bit and see two of my favorite people bind their lives together. There was a lot of joy happening, and joy and love is something all of us could use a little more of these days.

See you back in Ohio, soon.