First, these people have lost their damn minds. And by “these people” I mean everyone associated with the GOP. Case in point:
Thank God for people like Ian and Mallory:
This is why I’m posting, though:
So…yeah. This is Yet Another Goddamn Moment in what seems to be a never ending series of Goddamn Moments lately where “conservatives” lose their mind over some made-up menace, let their bigot flag fly, and engage in hateful rhetoric and lawmaking that’s going to get people hurt. As Harry Vanderspiegle would say:
So repeat after me:
Trans women are women.
Trans men are men.
Trans people are people, goddamnit.
Just to recap:
- 2016: sucked
- 2017-2019: living in suck-land
- 2020: super sucked
- 2021: maybe…oh, wait. No, still sucking.
- 2022: hold my beer
This is from a recent Writer’s Digest Flash Fiction prompt, “Grim Reaper.” Tossing up here because why not.
“Hey, buddy. How’s it going?”
“Pretty good, G.R. How about yourself?”
“If I’m being honest? Not so good.”
“Aw, man. I’m sorry to hear that. Did something happen?”
“It’s just…you know, everything.”
“I hear you. If it helps, it’s going gangbusters on our end.”
“Yeah…that’s kind of why I’m calling. Can you guys maybe cool it a bit?”
“What do mean? I thought you liked to keep busy.”
“I do. It’s just…it’s kind of a lot right now.”
“Ha! What’s the matter old man, you can’t keep up?”
“This isn’t funny, asshole. Do you have any idea what it’s like for me? It’s not like the old days. There are billions of humans now, and they’re literally all over the goddamn planet. At least you guys have horses. I have to walk.”
“Oh, come on. It can’t be that bad. I know Pestilence got a little carried away, but you’ve been keeping up. And the humans have science now. It’s not like back in the day when he killed half of an entire continent.”
“Ugh. Don’t remind me. I still haven’t gotten the smell out of my cowl from that month in Paris. Listen, all I’m saying is, I need a breather, okay? Can you maybe pump the brakes, just so I can have time to get a fresh pair of sandals, and maybe sharpen my scythe?”
“Okay, okay. I’ll see what I can do. No promises, though. I overheard him giggling about something called ‘Upchuck Upsilon’ last week.”
“You’re shitting me.”
“Nope. He’s calling that his ‘summer blockbuster.’ War has a bet with him that humanity won’t let it get to that, but Pestilence is pretty confident.”
“*sigh* I can’t say that I blame him. Tell War I wouldn’t take that bet.”
“Hey, maybe you can tell him yourself. I hear he’s heading to Ukraine soon.”
“Hello? You there?”
“I hate you guys.”
Because why not– I did it for books (why do my fingers keep wanting to capitalize that?) & comics, and I’ve got a Letterboxd membership where I’m tracking movies, so let’s do those, too.
Before getting into this, I should note that we didn’t watch a whole lot of new movies in 2021, and there’s a larger number of rewatches than would be typical for me. Some of this is thanks to COVID, some of it not.
We only watched four movies the whole month, so I’ll just list them all:
We spent February re-watching the Avengers/Captain America movies, with a couple new items sprinkled in. None of them were particularly memorable, but I’ll give Flora & Ulysses a shout-out since that was the reason for the short story contest I entered.
February’s Marvel marathon led me to finally watch Point Break, though the better/more interesting films were:
- Cooley High
- The Lady Eve
- Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
- The Death of Stalin
- The Skeleton Twins
- Happy Feet
- Rock ‘n’ Roll High School
- 13 Going on 30
We somehow managed to watch all three Witch Mountain movies in a day, which was kind of like watching one each Connery, Timothy Dalton, and Daniel Craig Bond flick. The movies are all in the same world, but they’re very different from each other. That aside, the two highlights of the month have to be Blood Simple and Promising Young Woman.
Three movies that were better than I expected:
One movie that I’d seen before, and would watch again in a heartbeat:
Two Disney movies: Raya and the Last Dragon didn’t do much for me, but I did enjoy Luca. My favorite of the month has to be A Colt Is My Passport, which sent me hunting for the soundtrack as soon as the credits finished. Streets of Fire was…interesting.
October was Universal Horror month, though I have to confess that I fell asleep during half of them. Creature from the Black Lagoon is the best of the bunch, IMHO. I also watched Jennifer’s Body, which was much funnier than I had expected.
Another in the category of “what did I just watch”: Mind Game.
However, Dune was far and away the best movie of the month.
Finally got around to watching Parasite, and caught The Matrix Resurrections on opening weekend. We also took in No Time to Die, and are looking forward to the new series starring Ana de Armas that they are surely making, right? Right? Our most notable re-watch was Matchstick Men.
…and we bridged the new year with the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Quick recap— mid-2020 I made a little paper/pen holder with a deposit slot behind it. For every book or graphic novel I read, I tear off a sheet, jot down the title and date I started reading. I use it as a bookmark, and when I finish, I note the end date and write a little note about the book/comic. Sometimes I doodle a picture.
Somewhere out there, Mrs. Millen is rolling her eyes and saying to the person next to her, “Now he starts tracking what he reads?”
If you’re curious, the grand total for 2021 was 80 little slips of paper, representing 24 books, 41 graphic novels, 13+ individual issues of comics (because sometimes I’ll use the same sheet if I read multiple issues in a sitting), and a couple books that are collections of one panel comics or tweets.
Last year I published a timeline of everything, but that was more work than I want to do today. Instead, I’m going to highlight a few titles from each month that stood out, for whatever reason. I’ll note going into it that several of the comics I learned about from a “best of 2020” list, so if you’ve heard of them before, that’s why.
Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen: Who Killed Jimmy Olsen?
This book is hysterical, and would be worth the price even if all it had was that “Bwoocy hungy” line.
A vampire and a werewolf start dating. Single panel comics, adorably goofy.
You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacy
My guess is that Black people will absolutely believe what happened to Lacy. The stories here run from hilarious to horrifying, and should be required reading for white people.
Kickstarter comics tend to be hit or miss, but this one is a lot of fun. Their website describes her as “A little bit Harley Quinn, a little bit Plastic Man.” She’s a hero in air quotes.
Superman Smashes the Klan
Yes, that Klan. Based on a radio play from the 40s, and disappointingly relevant today. Again, white people…just do better, okay?
I just found out the second volume of this is available, so I’ll probably be re-reading it. Jesus comes back to Earth and rooms with a super hero (who’s also in group therapy). Things don’t go well. Also, his dad is a real asshole.
Star Wars: Into the Dark
Part of the “High Republic” series of releases Disney kicked off last year. I’m still not sure about the whole Nihil thing, but this story was solid enough.
Think “The Wire” but in Gotham. Light on super heroes/villains, heavy on detectives in Gotham PD. The Omnibus is a beast of a book, but it’s well worth reading.
I bounced back & forth between these all month. Lumberjanes is as light and goofy as Monstress is dark and intense.
The City We Became
I dug this a lot more than N.K. Jemison’s “Broken Earth” trilogy, and am super looking forward to where the series goes next.
Dungeons & Dragons Art & Arcana: A Visual History
Four-plus decades of D&D art, with the history of the game alongside them.
The Book of Accidents
I’ve been surprised to find myself reading horror novels recently, largely thanks to Chuck Wendig. I just drew a picture of an owl on my slip of paper for this one. *wink*
The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels
More romancey than I was expecting. A fun read if you like silly Victorian magical hijinks.
Bandette vol 4: “The Six-Finger Secret”
Presto! We love our Bandette in this house.
Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done?
If I were to pick a book of the year, this would (probably) be it. Eddie Gein was the inspiration behind Psycho, Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Leatherface), etc… Seriously messed up dude.
Both interesting and maddening. Interesting because it takes the story of rubber ducks dumped in the ocean and spins it out into climate change, manufacturing, supply chains, pollution, etc. Maddening because the writer meanders as much as the damn ducks. If you like stories in the New Yorker, you’ll love this.
Bro, we have a two-book collection of these stories, not the omnibus I’ve linked to. Not sure what’s up with that cover art, bro, since the meat of the story doesn’t have him in that costume, nor is it the art style the stories known for. Anyway bro, this is the stuff the Disney+ series is largely inspired by. It also features an issue entirely from Pizza Dog’s perspective, bro.
This is the third (at least) time I’ve read the series. The show on AppleTV+ barely resembles the original books, which is what prompted me to revisit it. The books are…definitely of their time, but as one of the first authors that got me into sci-fi, they’ll always have a special place for me.
The Lady From the Black Lagoon
Not sure why there hasn’t been a movie or one of those limited series about Milicent Patrick, yet. She deserves one.
The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror
Second time I read this one. Yeah, that angel is pretty stupid. He means well, though.
You Can Do Anything, Magic Skeleton!
We kept this book on the dining room table and used it for daily motivation, reading a page out loud a day. I expect it will come back out again at some point in 2022 for a second run.
I’m…just going to skip over the usual introduction. You’ve seen the title, you know why I’m writing this.
Stuart…was a hell of a cat, and a real force of nature. I’ve written before about how we met him, screaming for freedom with his face pressed up against the bars of his cage, but it didn’t stop there. He couldn’t just chase feather toys. He had to have them, and if I didn’t give in he would pull so hard all the feathers would pop out, leaving us with just a string and plastic nub. If any cat went to the vet, that was grounds for hissing and slapping, even if the cat was him. On more than one occasion we watched the vet say, “Yeah, his teeth are fine. We’ll just skip that part.” If you tried to sedate him, he would fight it tooth & nail. Chandra still has nightmares of him howling all the way up the eastern seaboard.
Even nap time for Stuart could be a thing. If I was lying in a foof chair with Opie on my lap, Stuart had to be on my stomach. If Opie was on my stomach, Stuart had to be on my chest. If Opie was under a blanket, Stuart would find his head and trample him on the way to finding whatever snuggle spot he wanted. I have more than one picture of the two of them together, with Opie glaring at Stuart for invading his space.
A tiny cherished memory. I’m sitting in the living room, watching TV or playing video games. Nikki, our then most senior cat at maybe eight years old or so is cat loafing by the left front speaker. Stuart waltzes up to her, POW smacks her in the head, then scampers off. I say, “Dude, what the hell was that for,” even while I’m laughing. Nikki gives him a look laden with expletives, but doesn’t do anything else and just hunkers back down. Thus began the reign of the tabby cat.
Not that he was always a terror. Stuart was also incredibly sweet. I’ve spent the better part of the last several summers with him curled up by my legs in the three-season room, and have often had to apologize for grabbing his head when I fumble for the TV remote control. As a kitten, he seemed to take scoldings especially hard, and could have the most apologetic eyes I’ve ever seen in a cat. We could always scoop him up whenever we felt the urge, and if we yelled, “Stu-u-art!” he would reliably come running, often full of news.
A second cherished memory. I’m working in my basement office, and Stuart comes downstairs, hollering. I have no idea what he wants, so I get up and ask him to show me. He immediately shifts from long, loud meows to something closer to chattering— “mrr, mrow, mrr, mrr” as he leads me upstairs, explaining what he’s got to show me, which it turns out is a pile of tampons he’s pulled out of the cabinet and been chewing on. Chandra was not pleased.
And of course, if it weren’t for Stuart, we would have never had Opie. They weren’t litter mates, and were different as night and day, but were instant life-long friends. They were inseparable as kittens, even in later years you could find them sleeping next to each other, or with Opie under a blanket and Stuart next to him. They also played hard, and it wasn’t unusual for us to hear the two of them screaming at each other as they tore through the house, or to find piles of cat hair where they had gotten into it. Somewhere out there, we imagine that Opie was super happy to see his big brother yesterday.
A final…not so much a memory, just something Stuart & I used to do, especially over the last year or two. He would always hang around the dining room table at mealtime and ask to sit on my lap. He had to wait until I was done eating, mostly to be sure he kept his nose out of my food, but when I was done I would pat my legs to invite him up, and then throw them in the air to be sure he had room. As soon as he jumped up, I would give him a big hug, talk to him & give him scratchies while I farted around on my iPad for a while. He would listen, purr, and occasionally look up at me until one of us had to move on with our day.
…and I didn’t mean for this to end up here, but yeah… now he’s moved on, and I miss him a lot.
The following is a paraphrased chat transcript from earlier in the week. I’m not sharing names, but will note that it originated from someone who lives in one of the states currently going through a COVID spike. It starts like this:
Now, it’s important to know that there are four people included in this chat. Persons A, B, and C are all vaccinated. I don’t know about Person D, but they voted for Trump twice, still think that was a good idea, and has a media diet full of…well, you know.
I’m Person C, by the way.
After this initial exchange, I wasn’t entirely sure whether to contribute to the conversation or not. On one hand, I’m tempted to point out that there are multiple reasons people may not have gotten vaccinated, some arguably legitimate. On the other hand, Person D has no excuse, and is in dire need of a wake-up call before they or someone close to them winds up sick or worse. Of course, this person long ago stopped listening to anything I have to say, so… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I just let it go.
A couple days pass. I’m eating my Wheat Chex and browsing Twitter, when I see someone has screen-capped a couple anti-vaccine tweets from Candace “Hitler wasn’t so bad” Owens. I’m not going to bother with what she said (which would just repeat the disinformation and bad faith argument), and will instead link to the Mayo Clinic page on COVID-19 vaccines. For now, just know that Person D is a longtime follower of C.O., and has undoubtedly seen the captured tweets, among others.
This brought me back to the earlier conversation, and out of curiosity I looked up the county vaccination numbers for Person D. They’re pretty dismal (look for Platte County)— as of today, 30% completely vaccinated, and slightly more than that who have had one shot.
So I pull up the chat and ask point blank:
That was a couple days ago and there’s been no response, not that I expected one. Maybe if someone else had asked the question? Anyway, I think that confirms the answer is “No,” which is again, not a surprise. Sad, but not a surprise.
I wish I could end this on something like a positive note, but I just find the whole thing frustrating. Nationally, our COVID case rate is back up where it was last November barreling into the holiday season, when it should be much, much lower. I was in an all-staff meeting at Brown last week, and Ashish Jha said that he expects the current surge to peak in late August or early September. I hope he’s right, but that coincides with the start of the school year, and with so many states hell-bent on bringing back in-person education with no vaccine requirement and questionable masking policies, I fear that it’s only going to get worse from here. Hopefully Person D (and their family) will wise up, but I’m not holding my breath.
At last, it can be revealed! My entry in the Ulysses writing contest was a short story titled, “Dad Reflexes.” It, along with several other winners, was published on the Ulysses blog yesterday. They also included a brief summary of their thoughts on each entry. Here’s what they said about mine:
The premise of this story intrigued us immediately: a superhero who has no idea that he has super powers. How cool is that? The tight dialogues bring in a thrilling speed. Although this is only a short story, the hero’s »Dad Reflexes« seem to be just the first episode in a series of heroic events. We are curious what might happen next in the life of our »oblivious« superhero Del.
“Tight dialogues?” I’ll take it.