Sunday Summary 7/27

New to the Blogroll:

Sci-Fi Ideas – Has anyone else noticed how few sci-fi writers there seem to be on WordPress? This isn’t a WordPress blog, but I digress, the point is I’m glad I found it. :D It’s tailored for sci-fi inspiration, full of art, prompts, contests, etc. I may be trying my hand at Alien August if I can get weird enough!

What I’m Up To:

What the heck, Alabama? I’ve been wearing sunglasses in the rain for days, because it’ll be pouring down in one spot but bright and sunny a few feet away. It’ll be a hot summer afternoon at work, but driving home, there’ll have been an awful storm and I’ll pass through a whole town that’s lost power. Driving through a built-up area with the power out is a surreal experience, I can tell you. It’s not that weird for a house to be dark, but when strip malls or churches have no lights on, or vast swathes of houses don’t, it’s creepy. I guess I’m not usually out and about when power’s off.

I watched about six episodes of Community here and there, and loved them — y’all have been telling me to watch for years, but somehow I got it in my head it was about a suburb or something equally boring. I was not aware that it so perfectly captured the pathos of community college. The six episodes were in random order, though, and I haven’t selected my favorite character yet…

Community castMaybe Abed. Maybe Joel McHale.

Other than that, just desperately trying to keep up with everything. You know how that goes.

Coming Up This Week:

Like I said, I’m behind, so the schedule may get shuffled. However, I’m thinking on Tuesday I’ll post my preliminary reading list for my senior paper (on human rights and literature in history), and on Thursday I’ll be posting on Doctor Who and Sherlock. 

This month’s novel update and Interesting Carictars post(s) will be this Friday and/or next week. I’ve also got some cool stuff coming up related to “strong female characters” that’ll take a week to post, and it may be next week or the week after. Stay tuned!

What’s up with you? :)

Flash Fiction: “Rawr!”

One of Nerd in the Brain’s summer challenges is “Write a short story about a dinosaur meeting an alien.” I happen to have a character who’s an alien dinosaur, so my first thought was “Gamma meeting himself!” and I wrote up a little story about it. Enjoy!

dinosaur from openclipart.org

Gamma had always loved dinosaurs. When he was little, he’d had all the cute dinosaur t-shirts, pajamas, and toys. He’d carried plastic dinosaurs everywhere in his pockets and slept on dinosaur sheets. His father had bought a dinosaur-shaped sandwich crust cutter just for his lunches, and he watched all the dinosaur cartoons. He was fifteen now, and he still liked all those things — he’d always liked seeing people like himself on TV and in his toys. Not everyone got that opportunity. Looking in the mirror now, he smiled.

“I’m a dinosaur!” he’d said to his daddy during a science lesson. “Rawr!”

His daddy had laughed and nodded and praised how smart he was. He was a dinosaur, close enough anyway, a chubby little four-year-old boy, but chock full of alien reptile DNA.

Not long after that science lesson, Gamma had decided to look at himself in the mirror. He knew mirrors were for looking — he’d seen his daddies get ready in front of them every day before they went to work, one in the morning and one in the evening. He’d certainly been held up to the mirror before that, but with the immediacy of childhood, he hadn’t remembered what he looked like and he wanted to see. After some careful planning and consideration, he’d determined the mirror was in the bathroom and toddled in there, but he was too short to see it.

This clearly presented a problem.

He was also too short to get a grip on the sink, but he looked around the bathroom and found a big package of toilet paper waiting to be put away. He pulled the top open and discovered he could use the rolls to construct a big set of smooshy steps. He’d have to show his daddy so he could hear how smart he was again, but that would be a project for another time! He clambered up the toilet paper and onto the sink, standing up so he could see.

He was cute and chubby and much taller now that he was standing on the sink! He waved excitedly at the boy in the mirror. He stuck a green tongue in the air and giggled. He admired his big green eyes and long, pointy pupils. Putting one hand on the mirror to lean closer, he lifted brownish hair out of the way and peered at the green scales running down his spine. He hoped he’d get more scales. He made a Big Dinosaur snarly face, clawing the air and baring sharp little teeth to the mirror.

He stalked back and forth on the bathroom counter, giggling, but when he went to thrash his tail back and forth, he found himself just wiggling his butt in the air. Hm. He craned his neck around to peer at his pants, then back at the mirror again. He realized the only thing missing, the only thing that didn’t look just right, was that he didn’t have a tail.

He scrunched up his face and wished so hard, but when he opened his eyes, it still wasn’t there. He flopped backward onto his toilet paper mountain and groaned.

He was still a growing boy, though. He’d been created in a lab before his fathers found him and adopted him, and he had growth spurts coded into his DNA. He hadn’t been entirely clear on any of that when he was little, but eventually they’d figured it out.

The mirror they’d used then was the same mirror Gamma was looking into now as he finished getting dressed. He had a big date tonight and, like he had when he was little, he wanted to look just right. He straightened his tie and buttoned his blazer carefully. He turned to the side and admired his long green tail, swishing it back and forth to watch his scales catch the light. He looked up into his own eyes and gave himself a cute grin.

“I’m a dinosaur. Rawr!”

Review: Ms. Marvel #6

Ms. Marvel #6 coverY’all, this is my FAVORITE ISSUE. My favorite! Ms. Marvel #6 begins the second story arc, but it flows pretty smoothly from the last one. We summarize a little time in which we learn Kamala Khan is trying to deal with the inventor’s robots cropping up all over the city. In the first few pages Kamala’s parents also force her to go to a kind of counseling at the mosque, which she initially resists, but it turned out to be great. Kamala didn’t want to lie, so she tells the teacher that she doesn’t want to lie but can’t tell him everything. She explains the reason she sneaks out and stays out late is that she’s trying to help people, but she’s not very good at it… So he tells her she’d better get a teacher to help her learn!

Ms. Marvel #6 Ms. Marvel #6

I could just leave that exchange here and be happy. But that’s not all that makes this my favorite issue. For one thing, I would be remiss in my duty if I didn’t show you a quick picture of the villain — a cyborg clone of Thomas Edison whose DNA was mixed with a cockatiel’s. Also his bionic alligators.

Ms. Marvel #6 Thomas Edison

I’m not actually sure if Edison is the Inventor, or if it’s the guy who made him, or if they’re both working for the Inventor. Hopefully that’ll be answered in the next issue.

And, finally, this is the issue with the Wolverine team-up! And it. is. awesome.

Ms. Marvel #6 Wolverine

Kamala is a total fangirl and her fanfic of Wolverine and Storm in space was third-most-upvoted last month, as she tells him. I might’ve thought Wolverine would totally blow her off and go after the Inventor on his own, but he doesn’t — they actually mesh really well. She listens when he tells her what to do, especially when he tells her how to help in a fight, but she also stands up for herself and knows her own value to the investigation, and Wolverine accepts that usefulness rather than insisting it can’t exist. They also bond instantly on a personal level, which was hilarious. Apparently Wolverine doesn’t have his healing factor at the moment…

Ms. Marvel #6 Wolverine

It’s a great team-up, and thankfully, this issue stops in the middle of the story, so we’ll get more of it next month!

 

Review: Take Me Tomorrow by Shannon A. Thompson

Take Me Tomorrow cover

This book was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve been following Shannon’s blog for a while now (it’s great!) but hadn’t yet gotten around to reading any of her books. Take Me Tomorrow is her latest, just out last week, so I was excited to get my hands on it! Here’s the basic description:

Two years after the massacre, the State enforces stricter rules and harsher punishments on anyone rumored to support tomo – the clairvoyant drug that caused a regional uprising. 
But sixteen-year-old Sophia Gray has other problems. 
Between her father’s illegal forgery and her friend’s troubling history, the last thing Sophia needs is an unexpected encounter with a boy. 
He’s wild, determined, and one step ahead of her. But when his involvement with tomo threatens her friends and family, Sophia has to make a decision: fight for a future she cannot see or sacrifice her loved ones to the world of tomorrow.

In the spirit of honesty, I’ve gotta say, so many adjectives. So many. And so many characters with so little introduction. It was hard to keep track in the beginning, because there are all these random characters, none of them were anyone to me, and it was a horde of boys surrounding the protagonist and one or two female supporting characters. The plot got hard to follow, especially since Sophia never knows what the heck’s going on and so much of it is her watching boys argue and then refuse to explain, insisting she leave the serious business to the menfolk.

I did get the hang of the relationships as I went along, but I still feel like the characters themselves aren’t that differentiated. The exception is Noah, the instigator of most of the plot events. He’s a liar with aliases and plans, the one who feels like he has agency in this story. He’s a charmer and also an asshole, and everyone knows it. He’s the most inconsistently consistent character in the book, the one I remember, the one whose secrets I want to know. I really feel like it should’ve been from his perspective all along, since he’s the one who does things.

Beyond Noah’s charisma, the most gripping thing about Take Me Tomorrow is the premise — what happens when people start taking a clairvoyant drug? Shannon A. Thompson effectively portrays how that kind of drug might be conceptualized by everyday teens in a future culture. Everything isn’t slick and overstylized. The author has a personal connection to the topic and personal motivation to write it, and that adds a certain immediacy or visceral quality to the story that I appreciate. If there’s a sequel following Noah and Sophia, and especially if there’s one exploring the government and social issues in more detail, then I’m totally there.

The tone and content are very similar to The Hunger Games, and I recommend Take Me Tomorrow if you’re looking for a read-alike to that or if you just like YA dystopia in general!

Find Take Me Tomorrow on Amazon, Smashwords, and Goodreads.

Sunday Summary

New to the Blogroll:

Comics Make No Sense. I remember reading this blog years ago, but somewhere around 2011 it stopped posting. Apparently it started back up in late 2012, and my brother just recently noticed and let me know. I had read the entire archives when it stopped, but now I’ve got another year or two of backlog to read! If you like old-school comic craziness, this is the blog for you.

Diversity Cross-Check. A tumblr dedicated to linking writers with people willing to share their experiences, so writers don’t have to write from their own guesses. Found through Lady Geek Girl and Friends. I gotta submit a profile when I get around to it!

What I’m Up To:

The friendship between C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien will be the subject of a new movie. Casting news, please! All due respect to the great Anthony Hopkins, but he was way too creepy.The Ashford Affair cover

I don’t read much in the romance genre, just not my thing, but The Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig was amazeballs. I read 300 pages in a day. It’s far enough into the historical fiction camp to appeal to me, it’s very well-written, and the characters spoke to me too. I was especially impressed by the author’s skill in choosing scene breaks. It’s a small thing, but it’s a dual story split between a woman and a smexy historian in the present and her grandmother’s life in the 1920s, and the scene break choices are just perfect. I also liked how characters were perceived in many different ways by the people around them, and the fact that it never got rapey or sexist even in the 20s scenes. Highly recommended.

My Kindle Fire died this week, which was awful. I didn’t realize how attached I was until it didn’t work anymore. It’s my connection to the internet away from home, my backup books if I’m ever stuck somewhere, my music, and who knows what else. Thankfully, Amazon got me a replacement quite cheaply and extremely quickly, and this time it’s a Kindle Fire HD. The system is much better and provides options I wanted, like being able to make collections instead of just having everything in a lump. Plus my old Kindle was getting buggy even before it died completely… Still sad about packing it up and return it though.

Coming Up This Week:

Monday: Review of Take Me Tomorrow by Shannon A. Thompson

Wednesday: Review of Ms. Marvel #6

Friday: Flash fiction about a dinosaur meeting an alien!

 

So, what’s up with you? :)

Review: “Loki: Agent of Asgard” #3

Loki Agent of Asgard #3 cover

Time to pick up with Loki: Agent of Asgard! Issue #3 has Old Loki on the cover. I can’t say I’m super excited, I like this series because of new Loki, but we’ll see how it goes. If you’re just tuning in, I’m doing my Loki reviews in the form of live reactions as I go along, paying special attention to Loki’s possible genderfluidity/bisexuality/etc. Skip to the Final Thoughts to avoid spoilers.

Loki Agent of Asgard #3

Right off the bat, we have this from Old Loki. He’s watching himself and Verity from the last issue, so it isn’t as if Young Loki is in female form. Is Old Loki being condescending? Calling Young Loki a sissy? In a leap of hypothesizing, maybe Young Loki is genderfluid but Old Loki isn’t? Old Loki is putting more emphasis on “precious” than “girl,” the overall attitude is clear, but the reference is unexplained.

_________

Again, this is a story about stories. We follow Old Loki into the past, where he meets a young Odin and tells him a riddle. Then Loki kills an enormous otter and they eat it. (It kinda makes sense in context… kinda. Poor otter.)

Loki Agent of Asgard #3 Odin

Love the eyes. It’s also interesting to watch Loki’s references to himself — we’ve said before in this series that Old Loki had turned from the god of mischief into a god of evil, and there tends to be a line drawn between the two, but not always.

________

Wait! The otter was a shapeshifter, and when his brothers see Odin and Loki wearing his fur as their cloaks, they’re understandably miffed. Loki manipulates them into wanting gold rather than revenge.

Loki Agent of Asgard #3

“Yes, yes, naughty us.”

_______

There’s only one treasure hoard to cover those skins (apparently). The treasure of Andvari the Dwarf, who’s taken the form of a gigantic pike to protect it.

Andvari: Who goes there?

Old Loki: Loki am I — Liar, trickster, and come for your gold! So fork it over, old fish!

Way to announce your intentions! Funny how tricksters are often the most honest of characters. I also must say that I like the way Loki’s modern dialogue is used in the midst of old-fashioned storybook-style narrative.

Loki Agent of Asgard #3 Andvari

Loki Agent of Asgard #3 rocket launcher

Heh.

________

Odin promises Loki a favor for saving them, and Loki asks for a box with five locks and five keys. He tells Odin what to put in it, but we don’t know what immediately. After that, the story follows the brothers who received the gold — because of course the dwarf-pike put a curse on it. The gold brings out the truth, and the truth isn’t always pretty. Sometimes the truth is that your brothers are vengeful greedy murderous people. This story involves deaths and transformations and the hero Sigurd and I recommend you buy the issue and read it. The most relevant bit is the creation of Gram, “Asgard’s bane,” a sword of truth. Most often the truth just hurts, but sometimes it kills.

________

Loki Agent of Asgard #3 sword

The sword is what Loki asks Odin to put in the box. Loki creates a myth that will still be around in the future, that the sword is for Loki, and it’s the one Young Loki has in the present. In the final panel, we see Sigurd coming to get his sword back.

Final thoughts:

I actually really enjoyed this! The basic idea is that Loki went back in time to create a fable. The writing is extremely effective in that regard, it really feels like a modern character walking around in an old fairy tale and meddling with it. Very skillfully done indeed. Also, I should mention that Sigurd is black now, apparently an innovation, as Google is just showing me your stereotypical blond Scandinavian dude, and he’s got a real down-to-Earth charisma. Loki calls him “Sigurd the sometimes-glorious,” apparently he’s got issues with making promises to ladies and then breaking them, but he’s got a hero’s air. The next issue should have a showdown between Loki and Sigurd, among other things, and I’m super excited!

 

Spectacular Blog Award

sbaspace

Congratulations, Natacha Guyot of Science Fiction, Transmedia, and Fandom, you’ve just won a Spectacular Blog Award!

What’s the Spectacular Blog Award? Well, here are the rules:

  • Everyone else is free to snag the graphic and give it to blogs they find spectacular.
  • When giving the award, add a short post to your blog about the blog you’re nominating and send a comment/note/email to the person receiving the award…just so they know.
  • The blog receiving the award does nothing except enjoy it. No lists of facts, no lists of nominations, no lists of questions…just no lists. Of course, the nominated blog is free to grab the picture for bragging purposes. :D
  • Go forth and spread the love, people! ;)

I haven’t had an occasion to give Natacha a shout-out in a while, but her blog is always full of cool stuff and she’s just started what promises to be a very interesting series called A Galaxy of Possibilities: Discussing Character Writing, Diversity, Star Wars and Fandom. Check it out!

The Spectacular Blog Award was created by Nerd in the Brain.

 

What’s a Toothbrush Drill?

What is a toothbrush drill, and does it hurt? That was my question, anyway.

I volunteer at the Tannehill museum. One job, from a while ago now, was to catalog sixteen boxes of old photographs of Alabama mining communities. These pictures were taken by the Land Department of the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company, often of buildings, but there were also lots of people (especially children) and a box full of May Day pageant pictures. There’s an unexplained fascination with taking pictures of schoolkids’ vegetable gardens in different communities, there are dozens of pictures of those. (One theory is it was a surreptitious effort to monitor the TCI’s effect on local water supplies). For whatever reason, they were interested in documenting major life events in their mining towns as well as daily life.

In amongst various pictures of children’s activities, behold, a toothbrush drill!

toothbrush drill Edgewater Alabama 1917

Toothbrushes had been around already, and wouldn’t really catch on until after World War II, but for some reason these toothbrush drills were a thing in the 1910s. They were a competitive school exercise. This particular one took place in Edgewater, Alabama, dated 3/26/17, at the white school. Everything was still segregated, and most of the pictures are labelled “White Schoolhouse,” “Colored Schoolhouse,” “Miner’s Garden,” “Colored Miner’s Garden,” etc. Usually the pictures were close to each other, and I was starting to wonder if the other school did toothbrush drills at all, but I did find one for them dated 11/7/17 — with 200 or more students in front of a schoolhouse in that one. (I held off posting this for about two months because my picture of that just came out a blur and I hoping to get another picture or a scan of it, but I haven’t been able to get back into that collection).

I did find a nice scan on Amazon of another drill in Fairfield, Alabama, dated 5/19/19, hopefully you can see this one better:

toothbrush drill Fairfield Alabama 1919

In a separate box dealing with Wenonah Ore Mine, I found a picture of a Toothbrush Cabinet. It looks like those big racks of apartment mailboxes with numbers on them, (and it does have numbers instead of names), but instead of opening, each box has a little cup attached to it with a toothbrush in it. Basically, toothbrushes were serious business in the South around 1917, and I have no idea why!

Sunday Summary

New to the Blogroll:

Modern Mythologies – A blog with in-depth analysis of the DCU, found through a roundup on The Speech Bubble!

What I’m Up To:

I remembered C.S. Lewis has a legacy library on LibraryThing – a catalog of the books he owned! I believe it’s just the books in his library at the time of his death, so I may look into adding others I know he’s read, but I need to revisit the LibraryThing guidelines about that.

I’ve been enjoying the old Batman show on TV, but golly, even the Mr. Upright Citizen version of Batman displays a marked disregard for due process. Making a woman sleepy and giving her oxygen to make her talk is NOT an acceptable way to interview her without her lawyer, Batman! (Yes, she was explicitly refusing to talk without a lawyer, and Batman insists Gordon be there for this exchange to witness that nothing untoward is going on. Apparently he thinks since he’s not “introducing any serums” to her system then it’s totes constitutional, y’all.)

I want to write 10,000 words of What Dreams this month and started off great. The past couple of days were a wash, but I’m getting back on track, and also working on a little short story on the side. Listening to Do I Wanna Know by the Arctic Monkeys on repeat… Love the sound, and such a WD song.

(official video, NSFW)

 

Coming Up This Week:

Monday: What’s a toothbrush drill?

Wednesday: Spectacular Blog Award

Friday: Either a post about Doctor Who and Sherlock OR a review of Loki: Agent of Asgard #3, haven’t decided yet!

The Writing Process Blog Tour

I was tagged for the Writing Process Blog Tour by CompGeekDavid of DBCII and Comparative Geeks! I appreciate it very much, and I really enjoy both those blogs, check them out!

The rules for the tour are simple:

  1. Link to the previous blogger
  2. Answer the four writing-process-related questions
  3. Nominate/tag three more bloggers

Here are my nominees before I get going. I tried to pick people who haven’t been tagged yet… If you don’t do awards or chain posts (or have already done this one), no worries, just consider this a shout-out.

  1. Nerd in the Brain. This awesome geeky blog posts several times a day, and I’d love to know how Emily gets it done!
  2. Only Fragments. I haven’t been following this blog for long and I’m still figuring out what goes on, but basically there are stories and poems about the same two characters in any number of alternate universes, timelines, styles, etc. Very interested in how that happens!
  3. The Fiction Diaries. A fellow aspiring author who also runs Paperback Planes!

Now on to the questions. I’ve decided to hit academic/history writing, blogging/pop culture writing, and the writing of fiction for each one. It’s kinda long, but the processes are different for me, and it’s in keeping with the triple subjects of my blog, which are getting triplier all the time…

Why do I write what I do?

History: Well, as the story goes, I was an English major. I took a mandatory history course, was complaining because it was awesome and I’d only get to take one, and my mother said “You CAN change your major, you know…” and I did. In more general terms, I write it because I want people to know about cool things and relevant things. I don’t post a lot of that here… Hoping to do more in the future.

Blogging: Because I like talking to y’all!

Fiction: I’ve just always wanted to write stories. I have ideas for books I want to read, and they don’t exist, and they aren’t going to write themselves! Frankly I’m my own biggest fan. I sit down to edit and get lost in my own story. If I could read my own work all day I would, but I have to build up a store of work to read! ;)

ddbd9ecb2846fa151697b02911b6739e

How does my writing process work?

History: I start with research. I amass a staggering list of sources and read the most basic introductory one first. Then I skim the questionable ones for any relevant information, then fully read those most applicable to my topic. I take comprehensive notes throughout the project — I’ll have a single document with headings (the full citations) for each source, and notes with the appropriate page numbers. As I go along I keep the paper in mind, and I start to clump the notes together by topic (i.e. future paragraph) in another document. I’ll add the author’s name to the page number if I copy anything into the second document.

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