Welcome/Introduction v. 2.0

I mentioned in an earlier post that I’ve created a Facebook page for myself in order to be able to share blog posts over there (Facebook did some kinda shenanigans and made it so you can’t share to a profile any more, just to pages — which is confusing to me because I thought my profile was my Facebook page).

Since I’m eventually going to get up the courage to start sharing my new page with people other than just my girlfriend, I thought I would do an introduction/welcome post here.

And what better way to start than to update relevant sections of the original introduction I did for this blog back in 2013:

Introduction, Part Two: Electric Boogaloo: (cheesy, I know but does it help that I did see both Breakin’ movies in the theater back in the day?)

I honestly don’t remember seeing the first Breakin’ movie (which doesn’t mean I didn’t see it in the theatre, just that it didn’t stick with me if I did), but I do remember being in the theatre for Breakin’ 2: The End Joke That Never Dies.,  And that’s honestly about it, since the movie wasn’t exactly memorable — there was dancing, there was a contrived 80’s movie reason for people needing to dance to solve their problem (which was also contrived n the style of the time).  It’s probably up on YouTube.

I have better memories of Howard the Duck — then again, I’ve watched Howard the Duck again since the 80s. (Though I didn’t see it in the theatres, since back then if I wanted to go to a movie, a significant section of my family would have to want to see the same movie — namely the part that drove and/or could pay for the movie as I had no drivers’ license nor disposable income to speak of).

I bit the bullet and switched over to a WordPress blog because for one thing, it seems to be the most popular option among folks in the challenge and for another, it looks like a better way to get feedback than Tumblr.  I’ll probably get around to deleting the Tumblr blog I started eventually. But if it’s still there in 2016, don’t be surprised.

It’s 2018, heading toward 2019 and the Tumblr blog is still there. It’s an off-shoot of my original Tumblr — and yes, I am beginning to wish I hadn’t gone with ‘crotchgunsamurai’ as my main Tumblr handler.  (In my defense, it’s a reference to the original live action Transformers movie, specifically the part where the Nokia phone is brought to life and sprouts a gun from its crotch and the crazy government agent makes a remark about Nokia phones having the spirit of the samurai — despite being a Finnish company, not Japanese and…look, I just wanted to be able to surf Tumblr and share things! And I liked that little robot! He was fierce!

My main email handle, dunmurderin is also a Transformers reference, though from the 1990s Generation Two comic (which was…odd; it’s the series that had Transformers reproducing by budding. Yeah. The 1990s!). Starscream is talking to himself about how Megatron’s sending him a message about his ultimate fate:

He’s telling me that once his new army is fully mobilized, my services will no longer be required. And given my past record of treachery, I doubt that means a pension and a sign that says ‘Dunmurderin!’

As much as I’m not a Starscream fan, I like this quote. It tickled me, so I used it for my email and the rest is history. And some very strange looks when I’m asked to spell out my email.

Back to the intro!

So, since this is kinda/sorta a fresh start, I’m going to introduce myself again.  My name is Kathy, I’m 43 years old, I work in a call center and I’ve been writing off and on since I was 17 but making up stories and worlds and assorted oddness since I was little. I can still remember being about five years old and talking to myself before I went to sleep and having to stop when my mom would come to bed — and then there was that magical day I realized that I could keep talking to myself when she came to sleep if I just started talking to myself inside my own head. Mind. Blown.

I’m 48 now, but otherwise the rest of this stands. I still work at a call center, my name is still Kathy.

I also owe my cousin Kate a debt of gratitude for getting tired of me, at 12, saying “One day, I’m going to write a story about…*insert blathering about characters and situations*” and telling me, “Why don’t you DO IT THEN?!” with all the wisdom of her then-ten year old self. Thanks Kate! You are the reason I now know that it’s possible to make a notebook go football shaped if you insert enough Post-it notes into it!

And I still owe Kate a debt of gratitude for telling me to shut up and do it. It’s been a long, long journey to get to this point, but I’m where I am now because of her getting irritated with me all those years ago. Thank you cranky ten-year-old Kate!

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That’s it for now. See you again soon. Welcome!

 

AROW80 Goal Post for Round 4 — October 1st, 2018 to December 20th, 2018

Ok, this list is going to be super-short and to the point:

  1. Finish Omegas: Cake Walk.
  2. Plot out the Will Cartwright story that started this whole Universe 46534 megillah all them years ago.
  3. Blog more regularly than I have been — like, at least once every couple weeks or something, you know? I could use the outlet.

Beyond that, looking forward to the library nearest my house reopening on September 23. It’s been remodeled and it looks super-spiffy on the outside. Can’t wait to see the inside!

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Boilerplate Links:

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time. Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellow ROWers. [No Linky Tools Link this week, so feel free to join us on Facebook at ROW80 or follow us on Twitter at #ROW80

AROW80 Check-In for September 19, 2018 — the Final Check-In (of Round 3, 2018).

It’s the Final Check-In, and I feel fine.  I’d rather be feeling accomplished but I’ll settle for fine. Fine is good.  Fine is a place to start anew from.

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Today, I’m actually working on Omegas: Cake Walk — as in, I’ve actually managed to write some words that are (oh please god) going to move the story forward! As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve got an outline of what I want to have happen next, which is hopefully going to give me a roadmap I can follow to get actual writing done.  Now, I just have to sit down and put words to paper.

You know, the tricky part. For that definition of ‘tricky’ that includes “the really, really painfully hard and difficult part that takes forever! It’s like beating my head against a wall! *whine* *gnash teeth* *cries*”

*ahem* *collects self* It’ll get done, I know it will, it’s just taking longer than I want it to. I’ll get there eventually, this is just a dry spot. (I’ll talk more about my plans in my Goals Post for Round Four — out soon!).

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In other news, I created a Facebook page for myself as a writer. You can find it at Doomsday Writer, Kathy Pulver — I created it mainly because Facebook changed their policies about allowing WordPress sites to reblog posts to Facebook profile pages. If you want to reblog, you need a Facebook page instead. And I want to be able to share my stuff over at Facebook because of reasons. (Mainly because I want to be able to share to most/all of the social media platforms I’m on, part of that whole ‘build your online presence’ thing writers are supposed to be doing these days).

For now, it’s still a fairly small potato, but eventually, I hope to make it something more. So, for those who remember the early internet, just imagine a bunch of “Under Construction” .gifs and .jpegs here).

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Beyond this, there’s not a whole heck of a lot to report. I’m continuing to plug away at the scene I’m working on, while listening to Linkara review comics and eventually, I’m getting pizza! Because I’ve earned it, damnit! Pizza and fried apple pies — because I never did get pie the other day.

Boilerplate Links:

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time. Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellow ROWers. [No Linky Tools Link this week, so feel free to join us on Facebook at ROW80 or follow us on Twitter at #ROW80

Not the Onion: the NRA (spokesperson) vs. Thomas the Tank Engine

So, this is a thing I saw on Facebook tonight…

N.R.A. Show Puts Thomas the Tank Engine in K.K.K. Hood to Criticize Diversity Move — link goes to a New York Times article, which does indeed reprint the image of Thomas the Tank Engine in a KKK hood that appeared on a recent episode of the NRATV program Relentless. Because the show’s host, Diana Loesch, was trying to make the point that adding diversity to the cast of Thomas the Tank Engine is like racism because acknowledging that your show could be more diverse means you’re admitting to being racist? Or…or something? I…uhh…yeah…we’re going to unpack this for a bit…

Quick Take: Oh for crying in church…thank god I had something to eat before I saw this. This kinda stupid you don’t want to try taking on when your blood sugar’s low. As it is, I think I’m going to need ice cream after this.

So what’s going on?: Apparently, the Thomas the Tank Engine show is  going to be introducing several new characters in some upcoming episodes. The show’s going to have Thomas leave his home island and go visit other countries, like China, India and Australia and so Thomas is going to meet trains who aren’t generically British and/or white like he and his friends are. There are also going to be some new female trains added to the cast.

It’s been a while since I last watched Thomas the Tank Engine and I was never the target audience for it, so I don’t remember if they had any female train characters. What I mostly remember from the show are a bunch of male British characters who, if I had to put a race to them I’d peg as white — and Ringo Starr and George Carlen playing Mr. Conductor during the live action bits.  And I’m not Googling anything about the show because that way lies madness. Feel free to offer corrections/links to more accurate Thomas the Tank Engine info in the comments.

I’m more interested in looking at this quote from the article above, about Diana Loesch, who aired the Thomas the Tank Engine in the Klan hoods because:

In the segment, Ms. Loesch, an outspoken conservative commentator, questioned the decision to add the new characters, including Nia, a train from Kenya. How, she asked, could the children’s show introduce “ethnic diversity” when its anthropomorphized characters are mostly trains?

(Note: Links in quote were there in the original article; also, Nia’s adorable!)

If you’ve watched kids shows from, well, ever, you’ve seen characters that aren’t human or even humanoid who’ve been assigned genders and ethnicities before. It’s an accepted part of animated storytelling, right?  If the character has eyelashes, she’s a girl.  Accents = ethnicity (which can get confusing when the characters are supposed to be aliens — unless Ironhide is supposed to be from Cybertron’s Deep South).

But, even beyond that, it’s really not that hard to figure out how you go about introducing ethnic diversity with non-humanoid characters — Nia is a train who was, presumably, built in Kenya. Not much of a stretch for her to think of herself as Kenyan, is it? I mean, we talk about cars being Japanese and vodka being Russian and pastries being French so why can’t a train be Kenyan? Pretty sure Thomas and his friends think of themselves as British, so it’s not like there isn’t a precedent going on.

Funny how Leosch doesn’t seem to have a problem with that, though. It’s almost like ethnicity only becomes a touchy subject when it’s not Anglo-American. Kind of like how gender only becomes a problem when it’s not male (Transformers fandom, looking at you).

How much of this is actual confusion on Loesch’s part and how much is faux-confusion meant to serve as a rhetorical gambit, I don’t know. The generous part of me wants to think that maybe, just maybe, she’s honestly so unimaginative that the idea of non-humanoid characters having identities beyond “I’m a train” is throwing her for a genuine loop.

The cold and cynical part of me is less inclined toward such generosity.  That part thinks this ‘confusion’ is willful ignorance on Loesch’s part — it’s not that she can’t understand how a train could be Kenyan or female, it’s that she doesn’t want to understand.  Understanding someone else’s point of view is difficult; it’s much easier to sneer at something and dismiss it out of hand.  That way, you don’t have to face the fear of the unknown.

Which is what I think is at the root of most if not all of this kind of anti-diversity pushback that we’ve seen since, well, since always but especially in the last decade or so. Too many people think that other people gaining recognition and representation means that someone else (i.e. them) has to lose recognition and representation. But that’s not true.  As the meme says, it’s not pie.

Source: https://imgflip.com/i/1ijiwh (and now I want pie…)

 

Seriously, I think I’m going to go get some pie…

AROW80 Check-In for September 12, 2018

Ok, so, I haven’t been blogging as regularly as I wanted to when I started this back up — but on the other hand? I’m blogging a heck of a lot more than I was before I started back up so, counting that as a win.

Which, oddly enough, seems to be a bit of a theme for me lately. I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday and found out that my A1C hasn’t changed since my last visit — which is good, since it didn’t get worse but which isn’t great, because it means I haven’t done much of anything to lower it. Still, counting it as a win because stalemate means I still have the chance to improve.

And speaking of stalemates! Omegas: Cake Walk has been stalled for a while now because I’m trying to figure out the ending. Or, more accurately, trying to figure out the next steps that will lead to the final confrontation that will lead, ultimately, to the ending.

In the spirit of not burying the lede, I’ve finally gotten a line on what I want/what needs to happen next and I’m pretty happy with it. It ties together things that I’ve already established and ties into my main POV character’s backstory in ways that please me (vague post is vague, I know….) — I’ll come back to this in a bit, here’s my super-secret writer technique for figuring out what should happen next:  I stopped writing.

I could try to make that more complicated than it is but it honestly boils down to the fact that I stopped writing, took a break and worked on other things for a while.  Mainly, I started typing up the notes I’d taken from The Evolution of the Costumed Avenger: The 4,000-Year History of the Superhero by Jess Nevins c. 2017, which led to me deciding to do a bit more digging into the history of superheroes and some more note taking. In fact, I’m still working on that; I’ve recently finished reading through On the Origin of Superheroes: From the Big Bang to Action Comics #1 by Chris Gavaler and I’m currently working my way through Super-History: Comic Book Superheroes and American Society, 1938 to the Present by Jeffery K. Johnson (in this case “the Present” is about 2010).

If you’re looking for books that entertainingly think (and occasionally over think) about comic books and superheroes and how they relate to world and/or American history, I recommend all three of these (plus Gavaler’s Superhero Comics, which I have but haven’t read yet but which touches on some areas of interest to me — including a discussion of the American eugenics movement and superheroes). Oh! And Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero by Larry Tye — which I listened to as an audiobook rather than took notes on but I got some good crunchy brain food from it, oh yes indeedy!  I still want to read or listen to Jill Lepore’s The Secret History of Wonder Woman too.  And The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy and the History of Comic Book Heroines by Mike Madrid.  Not to mention the books that look at superhero comics’ Jewish roots (seriously, with the possible exception of the creators of Wonder Woman, nearly every other superhero was created by a Jewish writer and/or artist), like:

Plus there’s also The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic Book Scare and How It Changed America by David Hadju — if you want to understand the moral panics against D&D, various flavors of popular music, video games, social media and every other moral panic that’s happened since the early 1950s, read this book. The arguments against all those things got their roots here.

Oh! And the last one I’m going to link to (I swear, otherwise this is all I’m going to be doing for the rest of the day): Superman versus the Ku Klux Klan: The True Story of How the Iconic Superhero Battled the Men of Hate by Richard Bowers — it talks about the 1940s radio shows where Superman did indeed battle a thinly-veiled version of the Klan and about the real-life guy who went undercover within the Klan to funnel information about them out.  It’s a fun piece of history right up there with my two favorite stories about Jack Kirby:

  • Favorite Jack Kirby Story #1: Kirby helped create Captain America — he was the artist, Joe Simon was the writer.  Captain America debuted in December 1940 — a full year before the US would enter World War II.  Like Action Comics #1, this comic is likely better known for its cover than for its contents.  This is the book that has Captain America decking Hitler. It came out at a time when there were Americans who fully supported Hitler and the Nazi movement (shocking, right?) and, as is the way of such folks, they voiced their objections to the cover in an erudite and mature fashion.Nahhhhhh, they threatened Simon and Kirby’s lives. To the point that the mayor of New York, Fiorello LaGuardia offered protection to both of them.  (Apparently, Fiorello was a Captain America fan; he also once read the Sunday funnies to kids over the radio during a newspaper delivery strike, so nobody would miss out on their favorite strips).  But, that’s just background to my favorite bit of the story (Note: Timely is what Marvel Comics was originally called):  Once, while Jack was in the Timely office, a call came from someone in the lobby. When Kirby answered, the caller threatened Jack with bodily harm if he showed his face. Kirby told the caller he would be right down, but by the time Jack reached street level, there was no one to be found. (source: The Kirby Effect: Making it Personal
  • Favorite Kirby Story #2:  Is sadly not true and I’m disappointed that it’s not but I’m glad I found out the truth.  The story I’d heard was that Kirby, who helped create Black Panther, was told to put more white people in the comic — so the next issue he had Black Panther fighting the Klan.  It’s not true. It feels like it could be true, based on the fact Kirby clearly had no problem bringing real-world evil into his comics and the fact there was a storyline where Black Panther went up against the Klan — but Kirby didn’t write it. You can read more about the myth and about the actual comics here: Black Panther and the Myth of Kirby vs. the KKK.
  • Substitute Favorite Kirby Story #2: Kirby served as a scout in Europe during World War II.  He served with a unit that liberated at least one concentration camp (it should probably go without saying, but Kirby was Jewish; it’s theorized that one of the reasons he was drafted as a scout was because he spoke Yiddish).  This and his other wartime experiences helped to shape his future work which included a lot of anti-fascist elements. Source: 8 Ways Comic Book Legend Jack Kirby Fought Fascism. 

Ok, stepping away from the subject for now because, again, I could go on about the history of comics and how we owe so much of our popular culture to creators who existed on the outside of the mainstream — which would naturally segue into the influence that Baroness Orczy and the Scarlet Pimpernel had on the creation of characters like Batman and Superman (via Zorro) and that would, of course, link back to the fact that modern science fiction essentially began with Mary Shelley and how ironic it is that a bunch of gatekeeping wetsocks want to whine about how women have no place in science fiction and comics when those genres were essentially created by women (you’re welcome!) — and THAT leads to me wanting to do a riff on the Maui “You’re Welcome” song from Moana with Mary Shelley as Maui and that way lies madness! And a complete derailing of what I was trying to talk about.

So, wrenching the controls back from, errr, myself and getting back to it:

Part of the reason for dipping back into this research — other than finding a way to feel like I’m working on writing when I’m actually not — is that I’m wanting to create a superhero universe that has some depth and heft to it, like the Marvel or DC universes do. To do that, I decided a while back that I needed to create the heroes that started things off. Toward that end, I wanted a better idea of how these heroes came about in our world — with the difference being that in the universe of Omegas: Cake Walk, the heroes are real, not legends or four-color images of fantasy.

I’ve got a few ideas and eventually, I’ll share them but they need to percolate a bit longer before I do.

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I said earlier that I’d finally gotten a line on what I want/what needs to happen next  in Omegas: Cake Walk and that I’m happy with it, especially since it ties things together in my POV character’s backstory with what’s going on in the book, as well as a few other bits and bops in ways that make me happy.

How’d I do it? I went back and thought about my POV character’s identity and how it shaped their experiences prior to the events of the book.  Since the character’s identity is different from my own (*insert finger-waving of vagueness here!*), I went online to a writing group and asked for help from folks who might share that identity.

I was nervous about doing so, not so much because I was afraid of that the question would offend a person of the identity I was researching but more because I was dreading getting writing ‘advice’ along the lines of ‘don’t worry about that PC crap! Just write what you want! It doesn’t matter!’

I don’t like that kind of thinking. It brings out my inner Credible Hulk and it’s hard to write a long, well-though out rebuttal on a tiny phone keyboard.

Citing Credible Statistics - the Credible Hulk - Feature Image

Source: Are You Sure You’re Citing Credible Statistics in Your Blog Posts? (which has nothing to do with what I’m talking about but is where I found the above image). 

Luckily, it went well — I got a lot of good advice from people and didn’t have to deal with any bigots or anti-PC apologists. And that advice led to me taking a minute to stop and think about the character’s life prior to the book and how their identity might have been shaped by their life experiences, which in turn led to thinking about how that identity might shape their decisions and experiences during the book itself. Doing so gave me the added push I needed to sit down and write a brief outline of how I’m planning on going forward. It’s honestly the most and the best work I’ve done on the book itself in a month, maybe longer.

I also found out that I’m going to need to do a bit of work when I go back over this draft to make sure that this information is included because otherwise, the book’s not going to make a lick of sense. Not even two licks.

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I’m almost at my self-imposed time limit for this library (I could stay longer, but I want to go home and get something to eat — I’m thinking chicken wings). Another time, I will talk more about my thoughts on Writing the Other and the importance of diversity and representation in writing. Until then, hope you guys have a good week and stay safe.

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Boilerplate Links:

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you want to join, you can at any time. Set the goals you want to accomplish and get and give encouragement to fellow ROWers. Click Here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list… Or, join us on Facebook at ROW80