Conversations with My Brother

I went on a road trip with my brother.  I will have stories and pictures as soon as I get around to uploading them but for now, a conversation from the car:


(Leonard Cohen is playing on the iPod.)

Scott:  Leonard Cohen songs are all about sex.  Even that really popular one..what was it?

Me:     Hallelujah.

Scott:  Yeah.  Hallelujah.  It sounds all Biblical and stuff, but it’s really about sex.

Me:     No.  It’s a break up song.  I was just talking about this on Facebook.  Everyone thinks it’s about a religious experience, but I swear, it’s a break up song.

Scott:  It’s about sex.

Me:     It talks about sex and uses religious symbolism.  But it’s a break up song.

Scott:  Hang on.  “She tied you to the kitchen chair, she broke your throne and she cut your hair….”  that’s clearly Biblical.

Me:      A Biblical break up.  “And even though it all went wrong, I’ll stand before the Lord of Song…”

Scott:   …damn.  It’s a break up song.

Me:     It is possible that I think everything is a break up song.

Scott:  No.  It’s a break up song.


(Two days later.  “A Thousand Kisses Deep” is on the iPod.)

Scott:  Damn.  They’re all break up songs.

I Went to C2E2 and Didn’t Take Pictures

I had heard of the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, but never attended.  Yesterday, after my Book Club was postponed, I decided to go.  A couple of authors I like were there, they were going to have some stuff about 24 and in fact, my online friend Elliott Serrano was moderating a panel called 24 Reunion.   Also.  Lots of Star Wars stuff.

Note to Self:  It takes for freakin’ ever to take the El to McCormick Place.

When I arrived, I went straight to the Expo floor.  Bad idea.  It is very easy to lose track of time that way.  When I finally thought to look at the program, I saw that I had plenty of time to make a panel discussion of sexism in Geekdom called, “Glass Ceilings, Missing Stairs and Gatekeepers: Geeks Still Deal with Sexism”.  I am posting this link so that I can look up the panelists that have blogs.  I liked them a lot and one side of the table was definitely talking more than the other.  I was at least 20 minutes early for the panel and the line was snaked around the hall.  I got in pretty easily, but am certain that people were turned away.

The session was pretty good, but there was only one example that I hadn’t heard before and it surprised me and it really shouldn’t have: I believe it was Dawn Xiana Moon that told a story of being at a conference and wearing a Speaker badge and someone on the expo floor or something asked if that was really her badge or if she had borrowed it from a friend.


I have not had these really bad, sexist experiences in Geekdom.  To be fair, I don’t live there.  I am not a Geek Blogger and am not active in the Fantasy/SciFi fan community.  But I really like to visit.  When I first became acquainted with my geek friends, I felt like they were really glad to have more girls in the room.    So the first time I heard of a lady getting a rape threat for posting something online, I felt sick.  Of course, I knew that stuff was happening to women online.  But I had been under the impression that Geekdom was a relatively safe place for girls.  The panel made the point several times that just because it isn’t happening to you doesn’t mean it isn’t happening and everyone ought to step up and ensure that bad behavior isn’t happening in the community.

On to happier topics:

I missed Mary Robinette Kowal, but there were two autographed copies of her book left at Anderson Booksellers booth so I bought one.  After I decided that I need to stop buying fiction and use my library, Shades of Milk and Honey was the first book that made me say, “Damn!  This is why I need to buy books!”

After wandering the floor a bit longer, I went to the 24 Reunion, where actors Louis Lombardi, James Morrison and Carlos Bernard met to swap stories.  They took a few minutes to warm up, but Elliott got them talking and there were a lot of laughs.

By the time that session was over, I was done.  18,000 steps that day, thank you very much.  I snapped one picture on the way out.

c2e2 2014

If I were to attend again, I would have a strategy before showing up.  C2E2 has an app where you can build a schedule.  That might be more structure than I can stand, but the point is there are tools to ensure that one doesn’t lose the day staring at drawings of Darth Vader.

Christmas Princess Shopping

This year, my family finally got its act together and made some Amazon wish lists.  The adult ones are incredibly boring, but for the kids, it is quite useful.  Then this happened.  From the list of Ashlyn, age 3 1/2:

That is a Barbie Mariposa Fairy doll.  I presume that it is from some Barbie movie or TV show about which I want to know exactly nothing.  So this is what I think of as “The Princess Dilemma”.  On one hand, I do not want my nieces to be engulfed in the princess culture.  I do not want to contribute to the princess culture.  But particularly in the context of Disney, this stuff is ubiquitous.  They’ve already been exposed to it, they already want these toys.  And I want to bring them things they like.  So my response is not to fight it, but to use the toys as an opportunity to talk about stuff.  For example:

A few years ago, my nephew Alex (then age 6ish) asked who my favorite princess was.  When I told him it was Belle, he asked why.  I told him to guess.  He thought for a minute, lit up and said, “Because she likes to read books!”

Absolutely.  She also rescues her father and the Beast and saves the day.

Around the same time, my friend Elijah (just turned 8) announced that he didn’t like Ariel, The Little Mermaid.  He said, “She makes bad decisions.”

Yes!  I am eternally grateful to Elijah, because he showed me how to explain my disgust with Snow White to the children without having to use the words “complete moron” or “makes me want the bad guy to win”.  Snow White makes a very bad decision.  And you know what?  Ainslie, age 5, is already starting to outgrow Disney princesses.  This year for Halloween she decided to be a lady bug, while Ashlyn was Cinderella.  But back to Barbie.

I am somewhat less worried about the body image thing than many people.  This is a post for another day, but I am rather  convinced that the true enemy is Photoshop, not Mattel.  But it has always irritated me that the Barbie dolls in my day were all Malibu, Cheerleader, Figure Skater blahblahblah.  At least now Barbie has a career.  Or several.  So I bought that fairy Barbie doll.  And a doctor Barbie doll.  And an astronaut Barbie doll.

 This is how I do Christmas.

Text From My Brother

Scott: Did you watch the movie Ted?

Me:  Of course I haven’t.

Scott:  There’s about two minutes on YouTube I will find for you.

A few minutes later, he sent me this:

I was sitting in the parking lot heading into a Project Linus event when I received it.  I rolled my eyes and clicked.  Then laughed my head off and felt sorry for all the only children in the world.

P.S.  You know how my brother is dumb?  He also sent that to our mom.



When I was a kid, Dallas was my favorite show.  Favorite.  Han Solo may have been my first love, but Bobby Ewing was the first, “I am going to marry a guy just like that.”

Like many people, (seriously, I checked the stats on the ratings) I began losing interest when the supercouple of Bobby and Pam was permanently dismantled.  I

couldn’t tell you a thing that happened in the last season except for the grand (silly) finale.

When I heard about the reboot on TNT, I set my DVR, but didn’t watch it.  Then I sat through two episodes.  It wasn’t horrible, (Well.  It was half-horrible.) but it was no Downton Freakin’ Abbey.  And the truth was, it made me sad to see Larry Hagman so…old.  So I let my DVR run and left it alone.  I caught up a bit reading the recaps while it was on hiatus.  And then I read about Hagman’s death.

I read everything I could find about it.  That it was Thanksgiving and he was in Dallas.  He had filmed a lot of scenes for the second season.  Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray – his longtime co-stars and friends – were with him at the end.  Duffy reminded me that when he left the show for that terrible season (the one that ended with the shower and “it was all a dream”), he returned because there was a very meaty contract and because Larry Hagman asked him to.  But I wasn’t all that interested in how TNT was going to kill off the character.  I wasn’t planning on watching.  And then someone in my house started asking about it. 

It is my own fault, really.  I spent too much time as a nine-year-old recapping every episode to my parents.  My father could tune me out.  My mother had a harder time.  I told her what I knew.  Then last night, I walked into her bedroom and she shushed me.  She shushed me.  It was the last five minutes of Dallas.  She had watched the funeral.


So I watched it tonight, all handy on the DVR.  And it was good.  It might have required Kleenex.  It was true to the spirit of everything I know about the characters and the stories past and present.  (Although seriously, Sue Ellen?  I don’t care if it’s a scheme to trick him into handing over drilling rights.  Hitting on Gary is icky.)  Then I looked up some recaps for the previous few episodes and my brain started turning on the different ways the story could run.  And because I am obsessed with the balance of the Universe: if J.R. is gone, then who the hell is Bobby?

Dammit, Mom.

Lunchtime Conversation with My Brother

Me:  I was in DC last week and they are still doing construction on the Mall.  I asked what they were doing and Stefphanie said, “drainage and plumbing or something.”  Well, I call BS.  They must be working on the Ark of the Covenant facility.

Scott:  The Ark of the Covenant is not in Washington.

Me:    (thinking)

Scott: It was right at the entrance of the storage..

Me:  Yeah, yeah.  Fourth movie.  (If we stipulate that as part of the canon.)

Me:  That doesn’t mean anything.  It was like, 20 years later – so they moved it!

Scott:  Maybe.  But you are assuming that because Indy was in Washington, the cutaway was also in Washington.

Me:   But there was no Area 51 in the ’30s!

Scott:  Not that you know of!


(Apologies in advance to everyone in my real life who has heard this story a hundred times.)

I was home from college and getting ready to put up the Christmas tree in our living room.  I turned on the family room TV for some noise and walked away.  Several minutes later, I heard an evil little voice calling:


And froze in a panicky moment of deja vu.

I went back to the family room to look.  The movie was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  Dick van Dyke was in some town where children were outlawed and there was a bad man that collected all of the children and imprisoned them.  So the adults are at some meeting somewhere and the children are told to stay put and the bad man lures them out of their hiding place with lollipops.

Somehow, I had seen this as a child and been so utterly terrified by the concept that I’d blocked it out of my head.

Most people find it utterly hilarious that my, “what movie really scared you as a kid” is Chitty Chitty Freakin’ Bang Bang.  But there it is.

Yesterday, my brother e-mailed me this list of 17 Surprisingly Scary Kids’ Movie Moments.  Number Four, Baby:

If that isn’t enough for you, here is the scene on YouTube.  It still creeps me out.

P.S.  I have still not seen Bambi.  When I was a child, my mother determined that no child should have to contemplate the death of her mother, so it was banned.  I was at least in junior high before Snow White and Cinderella.  If you ask her today, my mother will tell you that The Lion King is equally unacceptable.  How this shit got past her is totally beyond me.