Sunday, August 05, 2018

A Sunday Comic Books Review

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Jan 17th
  • Aquaman #32 - It took a whole issue of talking and maneuvering, but finally Aquaman is doing what he ought to have done in the first place. I'm loving the intensity of his attack, but the set-up for that final splash has me wondering if he is, in fact, going it alone. Nicely done, and a great cliff-hanger. I have GOT to catch up with this book.
  • Justice League #37 - So they sort of set a trap for a fanboy who has already set a trap for them but what are they going to do with the fanboy, who isn't quite done, by that final splash page? I continue to be a little thrown off by the compressed storytelling. I was amused by Aquaman's look in this one. Clearly Bruce designed the costume.
  • Green Lanterns #39 - A happy ending to a difficult storyline. I like the idea of the people realizing they need to help the refugees even as they are being told to kill them... I wish it were not fiction. There's a set-up for a future storyline there, at the end, as well. Pretty good.
  • Bombshells United #10 - The price of immortality. This is going to have a sad ending, but at least they got more time with him.
  • Wonder Woman/Conan #5 - That is definitely not the end of the story, not with Conan left holding the Golden Lasso. But I'm not sure how this story can end, because it's really gotten wrapped up in itself. But, oddly, at least everything makes a sort of sense now.
  • Doctor Strange #384 - Ok, so let me get this straight. Stephen and Wong have got an immortal to pay the price for Strange's magic, while Loki is still trying to get into doors he really ought to be running as far away from as fast as he can? Nice. I'm not sure what The Void is, but I'm sure I'll learn.
  • Back To The Future #25 - Well, that was the end of the series. It wasn't entirely satisfactory in the sense that I'd love to see a lot more issues, but knowing the Time Train mini is also coming out eases the sadness at losing this. I did enjoy this title, and wouldn't mind seeing more.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Movie Review - Aquaman: Rage of Atlantis

Aquaman: Rage of Atlantis

Ok, I confess. Despite being quite a LEGO fan, and a big fan of DC Comics, I kind of don't like the DC LEGO movies and games much.

I got turned off from the games early when I bought one that refused to play on my computer without completely resetting EVERYTHING on the computer (every screen resolution setting, every color setting, every keyboard setting). In short, it was poorly made and I never was able to get it to run, so I swore I'd never buy another LEGO game again. I still haven't.

That said, I enjoyed the original LEGO movie, but haven't sought out any LEGO movies since. I haven't seen the Batman LEGO or anything else. This is literally the second LEGO movie I've seen.

So, naturally, I was a little bit nervous about this.

I was right to worry. I cringed pretty much constantly through the entire first half of the movie. I mean, the jokes were BAD. The water divination scenes had me in physical pain. The whole initial fight with Lobo made me want to throw things at the television. The only comfort was that all the heroes were being treated poorly throughout, so while Aquaman was getting pounded (literally) by bad puns and worse, at least the others didn't look all that much more competent.

Halfway through the movie the redemption arc started, and while it wasn't worth enduring some of the previous indignities, it was enough to save the movie for me. Yeah, Aquaman is a silly character if you aren't looking at every aspect of his world, but he is powerful.

What I found more interesting is that this movie was not focused on Aquaman. It was a split narrative between Aquaman's arc and Jessica Cruz. She, arguably, got the better of the deal, since she started out as a new-ish hero with massive uncertainties while Aquaman was supposedly an established king and hero. Cruz got a lot of screen time with some great examinations of her as a hero. It's a pity her entire back-story couldn't be told, because it's frankly the single most interesting back-story of a Green Lantern I've ever read (short version: Cruz witnessed friends being murdered, became a recluse due to severe anxiety, was sought out by the Earth-3 Power Ring, eventually earned an actual GL ring, then shared the GL duties of Earth's sector with Simon Baz).

Another notable character in the movie was Lobo, the Main Man himself. His arc tied into all the others in a cutesy way that I felt worked pretty well. I loved hearing his theme song. Except for the initial fight with Aquaman, I liked his appearances.

Then, of course, we have Mera. She was lovely in this, and showed again just how kick-butt Aquaman's queen truly is. I would lay my bets on her to win any fight against any of the characters introduced in the movie, and was only disappointed that she didn't get a chance to kick a certain someone's Puddle Prince butt.

So, overall, I give this a four out of five starfish rating. Not perfect, but pretty fun as long as you aren't going in expecting high art.

Friday, August 03, 2018

False Memories

I have a false memory.

I know it's false because of the timing. In the memory, I'm on school bus with some of my high school cohort. I believe we were going to some kind of event. I remember only a couple of the people with me clearly, but I know for certain it was in high school. Which means it had to have happened before I graduated in June 1990.

We/they were singing a country song. The song I remember is "Friends in Low Places". Which was released in August 1990.

This memory could not have happened the way I remember it. And yet it's very clear in my head. Which is a reminder that memories lie to us. We cannot trust just our memories alone, especially when they are 30-some years old.

I suspect the song was a different one, but for the life of me I cannot figure out what it might have been. I also suspect the bus trip was well before my senior year, more like 1989 or so. But the memory is quite vivid for something I know could not have happened.

Update: After days of thinking about it and looking at other possible songs, I think it might have been "There's a Tear in My Beer". My memory says it was Low Places, but Tear in My Beer fits the attitude and bad singing of the group I was with.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018


Living out in the middle of an irrigated desert isn't too bad. We have city water that comes from wells drilled into the aquifer, irrigation water that comes from the mountains, and this lovely invention called "air conditioning" which allows our houses to be out in the open and yet still be habitable.

And all goes well until one of the technological supports fails.

Like yesterday morning, when I noticed it was getting increasingly warm in my room. I checked the temperature, and sure enough, it was rising slowly. Then I checked the air vents... uh oh. The air coming out was about the same temperature as the air in the room. Which meant the AC was broken.

I quickly moved my work space downstairs. I had too much to do to be delayed by heat. Then I suggested to hubby-Eric that we call the AC service. He was temporarily hesitant - money flow issues - but agreed when I noted that there was a really good chance they wouldn't be out right away, and getting a call in sooner would be better.

I was right, for once, as my first attempt to call resulted in a busy signal. My second attempt resulted in them scheduling an appointment for today, because they were all booked up for Monday.

So the only thing remaining was to survive THE HOTTEST DAY OF THE YEAR SO FAR with no air conditioning.

No joke, we had an excessive heat warning yesterday. And yes, the outside temps got to 106F (41C) according to our thermometer.

I worked in the living room, getting through as much of my stories as I could manage in a slowly heating house. We usually have the temp at 75F (24C) in the summer, and that's tolerable. I noticed that it was getting hotter about the time the gauge hit 79F (26C) upstairs. Eric made us a nice cool lunch (sandwiches) and we avoided using anything that might increase the heat of the house. Inkwell reveled in the comfortable warmth, although he drank a LOT more water than usual.

The temps were about 86F (30C) and I was unable to think clearly at about 5 p.m. I had already decided to go out to the town next door to get a story, and Eric decided that he would go with me. I'd go do my photos and interviews and then we'd visit a restaurant I'd been wanting to visit for a few years, but just hadn't had the opportunity.

We left the house just before 6 p.m., after feeding Inkwell and making sure he had extra water, just in case. He seemed amused, and stretched out on the carpet. I think he genuinely liked the heat.

Getting to the fairgrounds just after 6 p.m., I wandered around to get my photos and story and chatted with people and ended up in the wonderfully cool main office (oh, AC, how we missed you!). They gave us ice water. I love fair and rodeo people. They know how to take care of you. Then Eric and I headed to Eli and Kathy's restaurant. Again, wonderful wonderful AC in the store. It was the first time I'd been in the place, but I'd heard plenty of good reviews. It was a standard burger joint, with lots of shakes (Eric got a cherry shake, I got a chocolate peanut butter shake) and BIG portions.

After a decent meal, we got a banana split to share. It was HUGE. We weren't in any particular hurry to get home, so we took our time. My only complaint about the restaurant is that the booths were too small for me to sit really comfortably. There were some tables with pull out chairs, and in retrospect I wish I'd picked those to sit in.

We headed home after dinner. I fully intended to write up my story last night, but I was stuffed and overheated. Once in the house, I opened all the upstairs windows and we prepped the hide-a-bed downstairs to sleep in, since upstairs was just way too hot. About 8 p.m. I found myself unable to stay awake. It was 90F (32C) in the house and a couple of degrees warmer outside. I just opened all the windows and collapsed onto the hide-a-bed in a sweat.

Eric moved the floor fan to aim it at the hide-a-bed, and connected it up to one of the outlets controlled by a light switch. As it turned out, this was useful. very early in the morning it finally cooled down enough that I had to turn the fan off.

The house was blessedly cool in the morning, only 70F (21C) and I closed the windows facing the sunrise. I had breakfast and wrote my story from last night, then closed the rest of the windows because it was already 80F (27C) outside and getting warmer. The service tech for the AC arrived when the inside temps were just getting up to 80F.

The AC had a broken capacitor. Apparently a LOT of capacitors on ACs in town have been going out due to the recent heatwaves (we've had temps of just over 100F (38C) for a few weeks). Within minutes of replacing the part, the house started to cool down.

I ended up having to take a nap to make up for lost sleep due to the heat, but overall it was a painless experience. The house only got up to about 90F inside, which isn't too bad, and we made it through the night. Inkwell seemed unbothered by the heat, but then he's a cat. I haven't finished the work I intended to do, because I'm still recovering brain cells (I figured writing this all out would help the process) but otherwise I think I'm fine.

Yeah, it's not too bad, living in an irrigated desert. Not too bad.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Bees Knees!

I have a knee problem. I have had it for a long, long time. When I lost a lot of weight, it went away for awhile, but it decided this past week to come back with a vengeance.

The way it was described to me back when it first cropped up was fairly simplistic. No doubt the doctor tried to put it in terms I could understand. The way he explained it to me was that I have slightly unusual kneecaps. My kneecaps have an annoying tendency to not want to stay in the "groove" they are meant to be in. Which just means they float around a bit more than more people's kneecaps.

The results are varied. Most of the time I don't notice it, except I can hear the cartilage scraping a little when I climb stairs. That's not even all that unusual, I gather.

Sometimes a knee will do what one of my knees is doing right now: Screaming in agony. The bone and cartilage are pushing up against nerve endings (again, vastly simplified) and causing me immense and ongoing pain. In order to correct the pain, I just have to keep flexing the knee on a regular basis until it stops pushing whatever nerves it's found and starts to act normal again.

The worst, however, is when the nerves decide to send an incorrect signal. Again, something is pushing against them, or not pushing when it ought to be, and the nerve endings say, "Oh, wow, the lower leg has disappeared, we'd better tell the brain!" and send a message up to my brain which replies, "What's that? No lower leg? Oh crap! EMERGENCY STOP!" and I fall over. This usually happens while I'm walking. And those messages are sent instantly, in milliseconds, without my knowledge, so I have NO idea it's going to happen until I'm literally on the ground thinking, "What the heck???"

What all this means is that I have to walk with a cane when I'm having knee issues. It's not that I need the cane to walk. In fact, most of the time I'm fine without it. But if I go out without it and my brain sends that emergency stop signal, I'm going to be on the ground. And I'm getting to the age when falling is much more serious than just "oopsy!"

All of which is just to say, I really really hurt right now and I'm annoyed because for the next couple of weeks I probably should keep my cane with me and I hate having to haul it around. I really hate when people tell me I'm walking fine and I shouldn't be using a cane since I clearly don't need it. Argh!

Yeah, oh well. I got it lucky. At least I can walk.

Monday, July 23, 2018


I've climbed on board the Ahoy Comics team!

As I've mentioned about 50 times before, I saw this Facebook post and immediately thought of two stories I had been working on. Both were decent enough to be seen, so I spent an hour or so in final editing and sent both of them in. The page said to not expect a response for three weeks, so I was thinking I'd hear back in early August, if at all. I've submitted far too many pieces that I never heard back from to have any expectations any longer.

To my complete shock, I got a response back exactly one week later. I mean, San Diego Comic-Con was on. I didn't expect anything until well after the con was over! The response from the editors said one of my stories was too long, which I had suspected, and the other was under consideration. I was thrilled. I've been published, but this feels like a new step. I was really hoping the team would like the story enough.

This morning I got the news that they wanted to buy the story. I think I bounced around the house for a good hour afterwards, and then bounced when I got the contract, and bounced even more when I got a request for my bio and photo for the Ahoy Comics Creators Page.

What makes this even more sweet is that I was already planning on buying three of the four Ahoy books before I even submitted anything to them. I love the creators they've gotten, and the stories sound fun. And now my bio is up on a page with some of my comic book heroes, which is enough to make me run around the house scaring the cat with my dancing.

To be clear, my story is prose, not a comic book story. I will be able to tell you more as the publication date gets nearer.

And that, my friends, is Ahoy!

Some Catch-Up

When last I wrote, Androcon was about to start (the invasion of Doctor Who fans at the Gjovaag house) and I'd just had a couple of very nice weeks of writing for the newspaper again.

Ok, first off... Inkwell is very healthy, and in fact has been playing more often than before. He's a bit befuddled by all the people who have visited, starting with the Androgums, then my parents, sister and niece, then the appraisers looking at the house. Now he's in the habit of running upstairs and hiding behind the bed when anyone comes to the door, which was actually useful today because I knew when the newspaper arrived.

He's also back in the habit of announcing when he gets into his box. I find it really amusing every time and I don't know why.

The Doctor Who on Twitch marathon is ending today. While none of the other Doctors reached the heights of London 1965, it was an excellent and fun way to see other people's reactions to the show as some of them saw it for the first time. I didn't watch continually, but I caught enough to be amused.

I have put in a hold for Hope Never Dies at the library in the hopes that it will be as goofy as the cover illustration indicates.

I am absolutely convinced that someone made this San Diego Comic-Con graphic just for me:

I saw this Facebook post on Friday the 13th and immediately submitted two stories I happened to have written that only needed a little polishing. I did not expect any response at all until after San Diego Comic-Con, and so was surprised to get acknowledgement of my submission in only a week. Very cool.

I was able to see Doctor Who meet the Muppets thanks to people taking videos at the shows in London, but I'd really like to purchase an official DVD of the shows. I've heard they don't do that, which is a shame. I bet it would raise a bit of money for charity even with the production costs.

If you know about or have played the Uncharted games, Nathan Fillion did a MAGNIFICENT job in a short video based on the games.

Yes, this made me squee. A lot of the Aquaman news recently has made me happily squee away. I mean, the movie poster was fun, but the trailer... oh, the trailer...

I must confess that I laughed hysterically for about a half hour about this particular headline:

News from San Diego includes a new creative team for Aquaman. I'm iffy about the art, but there's nothing wrong with Kelly Sue DeConnick as the writer! And she's the first female writer to take on Aquaman, which is interesting, but I won't cut her any slack.

DC's new young adult books are going to include both Mera and Jackson. I'll be getting the Aqua-related ones for sure, but some of the others also look pretty good.

I have not had a major depressive episode in three and a half weeks. Some of it is all the awesome Aquaman news, some is certainly being able to write for the newspaper again. Sadly, while the depression seems to be holding at bay, the anxiety and fibro pain have been as bad and worse than ever. Ug. Still, no depression is a win!

Hey, a super-relaxed Inkwell!

I really like this starry night house and kind of want to paint our house like that, only with a TARDIS in it. But I've been warned that blue paint fades very quickly, so I'm not sure. Maybe someday we'll just get a nice TARDIS blue door.

Yes, I have pre-subscribed to DC Universe. I suspect I'll get my money's worth out of it. Yes, of course I pre-subscribed in time to enter the Aquaman sweeps, although there is almost zero chance of me winning.

At the same time, DC Universe Online, the game I play, announced their next "downloadable content" (DLC) will be Atlantis. As the game has already had a ton of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern content, it's nice to see a couple of DLCs (including the recent Deluge) featuring Aquaman and his friends.

If you haven't seen the winners of the Eisner Awards yet, here they are. I hate to admit I'm not familiar with most of them, but the ones I know I like.

I was happy to read this story about a kid and a hot dog stand. Someone called health inspectors on him, but instead of shutting him down they helped make sure he was up to code then paid for his license. Excellent news!

The moment Jason Momoa met the son of Aquaman's creator, Paul Norris.

Get your orders in for Ahoy Comics. I'm looking forward to most of their books, and I don't easily jump on new publishers.

Lastly, the Washington State primary is August 7th. We just received our ballots a few days ago, and last night both Eric and I voted. We dropped off the ballots in the drop box this morning. Now we wait and see.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Working Life Update

I got a message on June 28th that I didn't realize I'd been waiting and hoping for. The "man" who fired me more than two years ago had, himself, been fired. I immediately felt such intense schadenfreude that I actually felt physical pain from it for a short time. A very short time. I felt guilty about it much longer than it hurt.

After getting a second independent report of the news of the firing, I felt even more schadenfreude. I was also feeling deep shock and anger about the shooting at the newsroom at the Annapolis Capital Gazette. In fact, I was being torn in half by the conflicting news.

The next morning I was still on a schadenfreude high, and decided I had to go into the newspaper office to get a paper in celebration. I also had, in the back of my mind, a thought that I might be allowed to write for the paper again. Literally the only good writing I've done since my firing was for File 770, and that wasn't enough to make me truly happy (though praise Mike Glyer for making it happen!).

I went into the office on Friday, June 29th, and saw some of my co-workers who had survived the bad years. I chatted happily with them, and bought a paper, and was allowed into the back office to see how the layout had been changed since I was last there. As it happened, I kept getting delayed, so instead of leaving I kept greeting old friends as they came back from lunch and being introduced to people I'd not yet met. Including the editor. Who was delighted to meet me because Jennie, my reporter colleague the entire time I'd worked for the newspaper, was about to go on two weeks vacation and boy could the editor use some help filling the pages.

I was suddenly "hired" to write some feature articles. Just come up with a list of subjects and come back later in the afternoon and I'd be on my way.

Holy Flaming Cows.

I came up with a short list of potential subjects, people I was certain I would be able to reach out to (including the manager of the local Papa Murphy's, where Eric and I had gone after visiting the newspaper. I'd been so happy while I was there I was practically spilling joy into the air). The editor approved all but one of them (recent article on her) and I was suddenly working again.

My first article back featured the manager of the local Papa Murphy's

In order to meet my first deadline, I had to work Saturday. Oddly enough, I wasn't even slightly upset about it. This is what I ended up writing about it on Facebook:
Short 'work' day today. Went to the office with my first story, which I went over with the editor to learn his style preferences. Then I headed to where I thought I might be able to catch my next interview, and unsurprisingly found him there and chatted for awhile. Next, I spotted a group of ambulances racing by and followed them - I haven't done that in more than two years.

When I got close to the accident I was stopped by an officer at a road block, who allowed me to walk to the scene but wouldn't let me drive the half-mile down. I walked. When I got there I heard, "Laura! Hey, Laura!" It was the regular reporter - she'd got to the scene before the first responders, so I didn't need to go. Instead of walking the half-mile back in 90F sunlight, she gave me a lift back to my car.

I have been on the phone doing interviews since I got home, shaking and sweating (I'm still not completely well, but at least the anxiety hit AFTER I got home). Now my eyes are beginning to cross and my brain is going wonky, so I'm going to stop writing and thinking for an hour or so and relax. My two stories aren't due until Monday morning, so I think I can manage.
Unfortunately, the walk in 90F heat almost did me in, and I suffered a massive pain attack on Sunday. I was still able to make the interview I had scheduled, and wrote on Facebook:
Just finished an incredible interview. I don't know how I'm going to do this man justice! I got to see into a different mindset than my own and learn more about history that I didn't know, angles I'd never heard. It was amazing and awesome.

I have so missed this job!
It was a great article to write, and while I struggled to get everything done, I did what I could. Monday morning I had this to say about the situation:
I... I feel like the last week was a dream. A really good dream. And I'm about to wake up and none of it happened.

Or, alternately, I feel like we're about to get stomped on by a giant Monty Pythonesque foot.

Eric said it's like the ending of Holes, when Stanley carries Zero up the mountain and breaks the curse and suddenly everything goes right for Stanley's family. Only I wonder what curse was on us and why.

All that said, Inkwell is still sick, and I'm still fighting my first deadlines in two years... so everything isn't hunky-dory yet.
After writing that, I headed to work and then was chided for not having a photo of the subject of one of my stories. I managed to locate a photo by, surprise!, locating one of my other former co-workers. She's one who intelligently left the paper as soon as she realized what a jerk the publisher was more than two years ago. She just happened to be working in the office that had the photo I needed, and she emailed it to the editor in time for deadline. Then I had to go take Inkwell to the vet - he wasn't eating - so my energy went from high to gone in no time. As I said on Facebook:
I am so wiped.

Got my two stories in, and managed (I think) to get the photos for them as well.

Shortly after deadline was Inkwell's latest vet appointment, so I drove him to the clinic. He almost refused to react for the first part of the examination, only beginning to growl a bit when he got his temperature taken.

The news is mixed. He was suffering from severe dehydration, because he hasn't been eating and drinking for two days. But the blood tests were inconclusive. The doctor thinks he may just be suffering from a bout of nausea, and gave him an anti-nausea pill. He also got a fluid injection. He's really annoyed at me now.

However, the tests also showed the possibility of pancreatic or liver problems, but again - inconclusive. We're to keep an eye on him and see if he gets over his problems and starts acting normal. I've got a few anti-nausea pills that are supposed to last 24 hours, so hopefully he'll feel better. Fingers crossed.
I spent July 3rd snickering at the Second Civil War posts mocking the rumor that liberals were going to start a literal shooting war against conservatives on Independence Day.

I got the front page, top of the fold, of the 4th of July Edition

With my physical issues, I was having a hard time getting everything I wanted to get done, done. But I managed to get up and out and to a friend's house for a July 4th Breakfast:

Went out to a friend's Fourth of July breakfast this morning and chatted with a few people. Naturally, the newspaper came up since my friend works at the paper (and did so throughout the dark days). One of the women said, "Oh, did you write the article on Greg?" ( and when I said yes, she praised it, saying it was very good. I felt myself kind of exploding with happiness inside.

My article writing has been a bit lax lately, despite my Adam West Day article at File770, and I worried that my work was going to be substandard to start off.

It helped to have such an excellent topic for the article, but I still worried. I only met the editor on Friday, and I'm still not familiar with his work, so I didn't know what, if anything, he would change. And the lack of a copy-editor bothers me... although I didn't see any glaring errors except for my co-worker getting credit for my photo (Yes, my co-worker is named Jess Quick, and yes she knows, and no, she's not a DC fan - she likes Marvel Comics' Thor, so if you have any awesome Thor swag to send to me to give her, let me know).

When I turned in my stories to the editor on Tuesday he told me how excellent they were. I didn't believe him. I felt like he was humoring me, just like I felt people were humoring me when they said the Adam West Day story was good. But I still went home after the editor said that and buried my face in Eric's shoulder and sobbed from relief. The ex-publisher told me I was a crappy writer and shouldn't be a reporter. Since writing is all I've ever wanted to do, my entire life, and he was my boss - well, I'm still stinging from that more than two years later. Even knowing he was fired, it still hurts. And explains why I feel extreme joy that he was fired.


If you've read this far, I'll give you some happy-ish news. Inkwell is not completely healthy, but he's clearly feeling a bit better. His eating is still off, but he'll eat if I hand-feed him (maybe he wants the attention?) and he's been drinking more than he did over the weekend. Hopefully he'll be his usual self soon, eating everything in sight and begging for my lunch as well.

And that's my life.

How is your life going?
I continued to write. Three stories a week is TINY for the old me, but the current me is struggling to get it done. By July 6th the pain had really kicked in:
I feel like a ping-pong ball that bounced out into the street, got run over by a mobility scooter, then picked up by a dog and left in an overgrown yard where a cat batted it around for a few minutes and now a squirrel is trying to break it open.

I needed help with getting a photo to illustrate this story, fortunately the Facebook group came through for me.

By July 9th I'd written four articles for the paper. I had an interview scheduled at City Hall, which was another part of my strategy to re-connect with people I hadn't seen in more than two years. Down at City Hall the next day, I got to sit down with a friend for an interview and see a number of people I'd missed. It was wonderful. Also, City Hall has been renovated, so I got to comment on all the changes. But even after I wrote the story very smoothly for me, I was still nervous:
I'm kind of on the edge of my seat. I did an interview this morning with my friend at city hall, loved it. We talked about all kinds of things - including what I wanted to get from him about his job - and I left feeling elated.

I got home and started writing and got into the groove, that place where everything else in the universe vanishes except the words and the story. It flowed. I made some adjustments then sent it to the editor with the photo I took.

Now I'm waiting for a callback from the editor. I called to see if he got the story (important even in this age of email) and he said he was looking it over. Now I've got this terror that it is horrible and he's going to try to let me down gently.

I need some way to turn off my brain... ooooo, Doctor Who on Twitch...
The editor did not tell me it sucked, but he did edit it down a LOT from what I wrote, which was fine but a little surprising, until he informed me that *he* was having trouble keeping to deadlines because I was turning in work a little too late. At that point, I realized I needed to get my work in the night before the deadline he originally gave me. So for Wednesday's paper, I need to turn in my story by Monday night. For Friday's paper, it must be in on Wednesday night. And the worst of all, for Monday's paper I need to get it in on Thursday night.

Going back to City Hall was a delight!

I'm going to have some work to do to get ahead of the curve.

So on Wednesday, July 11th, I needed a story. So I hit the pavement. I visited a bunch of places that had been suggested, and a few I remembered. I hit the library and asked to interview the local storyteller, and she suggested I come in on Thursday. She suggested I go to the Museum, so I headed over there and chatted with the hostesses. I thought I might be able to convince one of them to do an interview when a man came in:
Yesterday I had a fantastic interview at the museum with a guy I don't believe I'd ever met before, but was totally willing to share the history of his family with me. I'm not sure how long the interview was, but I came out of it elated, as I do from great interviews (talking with fascinating people is wonderful).

After reporting in to the editor, I headed home to write the story and realized I was completely "out of spoons". I mean, I was beat. I could barely get myself writing. Fortunately, once I was writing, the words came - if not easily, at least they came.

When I was done, I had nothing left. Eric took me downstairs and fed me dinner, and I fell asleep while we watched Iron Chef off the DVR. He somehow got me upstairs and into bed at about 7 pm and I slept until a massive headache woke me at 3 am.

I took some painkiller and got on my computer while I waited for it to kick in, but Inkwell decided to curl up on my lap, so I sipped water and petted the cat while the painkiller finally started to work. Then I went back to bed.

I didn't get up until about 8 this morning. After sitting down at my computer again, Inkwell insisted on more lap time. Now I've had my shower, eaten, and even had a short chat with my editor. I have an appointment at 11 am to take some photos and meet some potential interview subjects. But I'd better take it a little easier today, considering how wiped I was yesterday!
The story turned out well, I thought, and I went to the library the next day at 11 am and got my "Monday" story with the storyteller. This time I had to take a nap before I could even write it. But I got through it, and have interviews scheduled for next Monday and Tuesday for my Wednesday and Friday stories.

Today's paper has my story on the front page, above the fold

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Inkwell update

Some folks may have noticed I posted a report that Inkwell was sick over on Facebook.

He was throwing up regularly, and hadn't eaten in awhile because of it, so we took him to the vet. Inkwell was NOT pleased with the vet tech and growled at her the entire time. The vet suggested trying to change his food, so we switched him... probably too rapidly.

He started out well, but rapidly stopped eating, then started dry-heaving. Which is scary if you are a human, but terrifying to watch in a cat. He didn't eat for a couple of days, and we took him back to the vet as quickly as we could. He was lethargic and weak. He didn't even growl this time until they took his temperature. The vet suggested blood tests, and then rehydrated him as well. We got some anti-nausea pills when the blood tests came back inconclusive.

For the first day back, he was much more his usual self, but still didn't eat much. I attempted to give him one of the pills when the vet had told me to and discovered that I have no idea how to get him to take a pill, and he really REALLY didn't want that pill. After a battle royale which Inkwell won, drooling all over himself and the floor and me, he stalked around the house grumbling and we decided to just feed him as normal and see what happened.

It took him several days to get back to his normal feeding routine, but he's back to the point where he's waiting around at mealtimes for us to put out his food instead of hiding under a chair and ignoring everything. He's been jumping up on laps and butting his head against ankles like he used to. And so far, knock on wood, he hasn't thrown up.

I have his "new" food which I may or may not reintroduce (thinking "not" right now) and he's back on his old food. He actually gained weight this past week, possibly because I kept hand-feeding him treats when he refused to eat out of his bowls.

So, as far as I can tell, all is well. We still have no idea what caused the initial problem, but then... that's cats for you.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

A Declaration


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Friday, June 01, 2018

Doctor Who Marathon Mix-Ups

Twitch Presents is having a Doctor Who Marathon, planning on playing every episode of the classic show. The first three days went fine, with day one showing a pre-show followed by the first three stories, "An Unearthly Child", "The Daleks" and "The Edge of Destruction". Day two was "The Keys of Marinus", "The Aztecs" and "The Sensorites". Day three was the showings of "Planet of Giants", "The Dalek Invasion of Earth", "The Rescue" and "The Romans".

Today was supposed to be "The Web Planet", followed by "The Space Museum" and "The Chase". Unfortunately, when the airing started this morning, instead of Web Planet, the viewers were treated to "An Unearthly Child" again. The chat, which seems to consist of mostly younger fans, went nutso. Lots of complaints... and a bit more than halfway through the episode it stopped for a moment and switched to about halfway through the first episode of "Planet of Giants". Lots of complaints, but a note popped up that the channel would be streaming yesterday's shows until they fixed the glitch. It took several hours, then finally the original schedule started to play.

The funniest thing about the marathon is the short bumper between episodes, which is unfortunately often shown twice. It consists of clips from various episodes, including Ian gleefully telling Barbara that they were back in London, 1965 and the Doctor telling Barbara that she cannot change history, "Believe me, I know!" The new group of fans quickly turned both into memes.

They are skipping all the stories with episodes missing, of course, and several of the later Dalek stories will also not be shown.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Not My Story

But it made me cry...

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Inkwell and the Sky Raisin

As anyone who has bothered to read this blog for any length of time knows, my husband and I are owned by a black cat named Inkwell. These are some of his recent adventures, mostly from Facebook and a few of his "Inkwell Sings the Blues" from his Twitter Feed.

This morning I woke up late, and my husband was already off running errands. I looked around the house for Inkwell, fearing he might have somehow gotten outside (he's very much an indoor cat). I went from room to room looking for him, and when I opened the door to the garage, a fly (aka Sky Raisin) flew into the house. Eventually I found Inkwell by shaking his treats. He casually wandered out from wherever he was hiding to get his reward for being a cat from his mommy.

A half an hour later, he noticed the fly.

I watched as Inkwell stalked it around the house, and when it flew upstairs, Inkwell stood on the landing and leaped into the air every time it passed by. It was quite spectacular from where I was sitting. He also chittered at it and flung insults that probably couldn't be repeated in human language without censoring. For Inkwell, it was great.

Late Thursday night a massive thunderstorm passed overhead. The sky rumbled for well over an hour, grumbling and rolling. The power blinked out once. I was up late, as has been my habit recently, and was sitting in my chair as the thunder shook the house. Inkwell finally came into my room and insisted on sitting on my lap. Every time there was a peal of thunder, his ears twitched back. He huddled on my lap for a good half hour before he finally felt safe enough to get back to whatever cat duties there are at 11 pm.

Inkwell is not fond of me staying up until 3 or 4 am then sleeping in until his first kibble feeding time at 10 am. On Tuesday morning he was upset that I was up at 9:30 and not feeding him. When I finally did go downstairs to feed him, he was very disapproving that I was putting his kibble into the egg-cersizer instead of just giving it to him in a bowl. He sat glaring at me with his tail twitching as I set the egg down...

...when he suddenly jumped about a foot into the air, twisting as he did so to look behind him.

I thought for a moment that he might have been bitten by a bug or something, but then I realized he had been sitting on the vent and the AC had just turned on.

He glared at me again, as if it was entirely my fault, then started batting his egg around to get his kibble. I tried really hard to not laugh, but I fear I may have offended the fuzzy master of the house. He stalked around the rest of the day trying to display dignity, but it was hard for me to not see his startled look as he jumped into the air, having just received a blast of cold air to his butt. At one point he decided to increase his mass as he thundered up and down the stairs, sounding like a herd of cattle. I still don't know how cats control gravity like that.

Last Friday I had an Inkwell experience that I also recorded on Facebook: Inkwell came into my room while I was typing away and just ... stared. He just stood in the doorway and stared. He looked so sad, I put the computer aside and reached down. He came up and put his head under my hand in the universal "please pet me" gesture. I pet him.

It soon became apparent he wanted something else. His front paws were very gently kneading at the carpet. So I got up and walked to the bedroom. He followed and when I got on the bed and pulled the blanket up, he jumped up and started purring and kneading me.

I spent the next ten minutes in a cat spa being meowsaged and purred upon.

When I thought he was done, I started to get up, but he sauntered to my ankles and stretched out over them with a possessive "mrrrow". In short, I was trapped. For another few minutes I dozed a bit while waiting for him to get bored and move on.

Finally he seemed satisfied and I quickly got back out of bed. He curled up on the end of the bed and stayed there while I did a couple of minor chores. Then I sat down to finish my piece, found I couldn't concentrate, and decided to write about Inkwell instead.

He's now downstairs, playing with his kibble egg-cersizer and singing the songs of his people.

We also recently had the opposite of a staring contest: Inkwell was staring at me, so I looked over at him. He gave me a slow blink.

I responded with a slow blink of my own. When I opened my eyes, his were closed.

So I closed my eyes most of the way and watched his eyes. I could tell he was doing the same. For a long moment we had a slow blinking contest.

Finally he opened his eyes, I opened mine and we both got on with life.

Earlier in the month Inkwell got a scare when all the fire alarms in the house were set off by a nearby electrical storm. In addition to the storm, Inkwell had been upstairs hiding from the vacuum when the alarms went off, and never heard Eric put the vacuum away. It took him several hours to fully calm down, poor skittish kitty!

Now, for the finale of this post, some Inkwell Sings the Blues. I'm not entirely sure what the melody to these are, but they are funny enough and I can usually manage to sing them...

7:25 PM - 27 Apr 2018:
I got the "my mommy won't get up and feed me, and I'm starving to death" blues.
I got the "my mommy won't get up and feed me, and I'm starving to death" blues.
I bopped her on the nose, jumped on her chest and I'm gonna throw up in her shoes.

7:28 PM - 27 Apr 2018:
Mommy won't feed me and I think that I'm starving to death.
Mommy won't feed me and I think that I'm starving to death.
I'm gonna keep meowing at mommy with my dying breath.

9:52 AM - 28 Apr 2018:
Daddy won't get up and feed me, mommy says I've just been fed.
Daddy won't get up and feed me, mommy says I've just been fed.
They will both be sorry, when I'm so hungry that I'm dead.

6:17 PM - 28 Apr 2018:
Daddy just gave me kibble but I really wanted wet food instead.
Daddy just gave me kibble but I really wanted wet food instead.
I'm gonna eat the kibble, but I'll throw it up on his bed.

7:15 PM - 1 May 2018:
Mommy closed her room off, she don't love me no more.
Mommy closed her room off, she don't love me no more.
I'm gonna lay down and cry outside her door.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Some Links (Linkdump!)

I'm going to start today with curses and damnation at the NRA for turning into a gun-selling organization bent on preventing all reasonable gun laws. I also urge everyone who reports on the shooting in Santa Fe to NOT repeat the murderer's name. He should have a nickname, like Stupidface Murderscum. His true name should be forgotten.

Ok, let's get on with less painful stuff...

One of the truly horrible things about chronic pain is that most of the time no one can do a thing about it, so why would you want to burden someone with your hurt? This society requires us to nicely ask after other people's pain, but doesn't provide guidance on what to do once you know someone is hurting. So those of us who literally hurt ALL THE TIME tend to stop telling the truth about our pain after awhile because it just stresses out our loved ones and bores everyone else.

Now, anxiety is pretty bad too, but this woman came up with a list of helpful actions when her boyfriend asked what he could do. I particularly identify with 1, 8 and 9.

I'm reminded of the Checklist of Early Warning Signs of Fascism. It appears we can, as a nation, check off most of these. Fortunately, some people are still being ostracized for being racist scum, even if the racist scum-in-chief is being protected by the GOP.

And lastly, for the day, here's How Mueller's First Year Compares to Watergate, Iran-Contra and Whitewater. I want Mueller to finish this investigation as thoroughly as possible. I want everything he presents to be watertight. If he somehow concludes that Deadbeat Don is not guilty, I will accept that. But I want every guilty party punished to the full extent of the law. I also truly believe that anyone currently calling for the investigation to conclude prematurely is probably either guilty of collusion or essentially a traitor to the idea and standards of the United States of America.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Conventions and problematic people

While I have been peripherally involved in conventions and convention planning for years, I am NOT a convention organizer and could not ever handle the pressure of such events. That's been brought home to me again by a couple of recent incidents in fandom.

Let's start with the big one. A writer known for harassing people online said he was going to attend Worldcon and, among other potential acts, violate the rules by wearing a bodycam into a private suite. The Worldcon committee, after hearing about his threats, determined the threats were both believable and violated their rules and banned him from attending the convention.

He's now suing Worldcon.

I think he hasn't got a chance in the case, but I don't know California law, and I don't know what sort of lawyer he's got (although a couple people implied his lawyer is as pathetic as he is). I do know that the Worldcon committee has to deal with this nonsense as the convention is getting closer, and it's definitely a nuisance and planned to disrupt the convention as much as possible. In short, he's bullying the convention to cause a disruption after threatening to cause a disruption at the con. These are the actions of a sociopath, and not a person any fan should be comfortable associating with.

I don't see how suing the convention furthers any reasonable goal he might have. There is now no chance that any reasonable convention committee will ever invite him as a guest, as he's proven he's willing to file nuisance lawsuits against conventions. So if he's invited as a guest and doesn't like something about the convention? Potential lawsuit. No way any sane person will invite him again. And it also torpedoes his odds of being allowed to attend other conventions, because who wants a toxic, convention-suing guy at their con? No one.

Nothing good can come of this.

Let's move on to another incident. That of John Ringo and his momentary guestness at ConCarolina. It was announced a couple of days ago that Ringo would be a guest at ConCarolina, and a number of folks immediately objected and withdrew their own attendance because of things Ringo has said and some themes of his writing.

I admit, I own a number of Ringo's books in digital format from when I purchased many of Baen's ebooks. I know I've read at least one, but I honestly cannot remember any titles or plotlines of any of them. I think his writing didn't appeal to me, or I considered it filler to read while waiting for something good. I don't know. But his works clearly lacked impact and didn't connect with me. At the time I purchased them, I wasn't aware of his ... opinions on women. If I had been, I would not have purchased anything by him.

That said, ConCarolina has now disinvited Ringo, which isn't going to make the problem go away for the convention. In fact, it's a very bad sign after a similar incident hurt Odyssey Con last year, and several invited guests withdrew. As a person involved in conventions, these stories break my heart. It's so hard to get a convention going, so hard to figure out costs and then who to invite. And if you invite someone who is problematic, even if you are unaware of the problems, you might sink your entire effort.

It's enough to make a person swear off conventions. Certainly enough to make being on a concom a dangerous and scary job. I admit I admire those members of fandom who volunteer their time for such a thankless task even more after learning about these various problems.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Newbery Winners: Shen of the Sea

The fifth book to win the Newbery Medal, which it did in 1926, is Shen of the Sea by Arthur Bowie Chrisman, a collection of short stories set in China. The tales are not at all connected. I suspect this would be a hard book to get published today, as some aspects of Chinese culture that it depicts have not aged well. But it's also not horrible, either, and holds up a lot better than many other books of the time, I'm sure. (And let's face it, just about anything written for children nearly a century ago is going to feel quaint and dated anyway.) Although I gather these stories were originally created by Chrisman, they read like old folk tales. Some are just little slice-of-life stories, but others delve into the origins of aspects of Chinese culture (printing, chopsticks, pottery, kites, tea, gunpowder), and others show people thinking outside the box, or tricking demons, or just being clever. It's a fun, light read, and I enjoyed this one a lot.

Computer Issues.... again.

I have fiddled with my laptop to the point where, with a generous helping of electrical tape and the occasional tap on the screen, I'm able to usually not have monitor problems, huzzah. I ended up having to take off the screen itself, which I was loathe to do. I managed, but it was annoying and I broke a few more little pieces of plastic and basically I just need a new computer.

Which isn't going to happen soon.

Still, my computer was working and the monitor is now mostly behaving. Then yesterday morning, after a three-hour power outage in the middle of the night, I noticed that the computer wasn't charging. I got the message "Plugged in, not charging" when I looked at the battery icon. Um. Ok.

I generally use the computer plugged in, although I frequently take it downstairs unplugged... so it's not a thing that would completely break the computer for me. But it's worrying. What if the battery has gone bad, or I somehow damaged it during my efforts to fix the screen? A visit to Google and I learned that Windows 10 laptops have this problem A LOT. Not just a little, but so frequently that there is a lot of information and misinformation out there about it.

I found the solution that finally worked for me on HP's website, after trying a number of different things and having every one of them fail. I had been using the HP diagnostic tools to see if the battery itself was failing, but got lots of green lights as far as it was concerned. It even started charging for a brief moment during the testing! To fix it "completely" (as far as I can tell), I ended up following these directions:

Perform the following steps to isolate the issue and arrive at a fix:
  • Power off the laptop.
  • Disconnect AC adapter from the laptop.
  • Press and hold the power button for 15 seconds.
  • Plug the AC adapter back in.
  • Power on the laptop.

    Uninstall the battery drivers and then reinstall them:
  • Open the device manager.
  • Expand "Batteries". Right click on the ACPI drivers and select uninstall.
  • Close the device manager.
  • Restart the laptop. While restarting, Windows will reinstall the battery drivers.
  • Thank goodness, removing the ACPI drivers fixed it. I have no idea what ACPI drivers are or any interest in learning, but they apparently have something to do with battery charging. I was ready to do the next step, a BIOS flash, but was not looking forward to it since there are so many things that can go wrong when you get down to the firmware level.

    As I was working through these steps, hubby-Eric told me about a lovely video promo for a Supernatural/Scooby-Doo crossover, so I of course had to watch it... and there was no sound. In fact, every single attempt I made to turn up the volume, it reset itself down to "2" and didn't move. Guess who had to reinstall sound drivers right after reinstalling battery drivers?

    Doing all this with a nasty cold and barely any brain power was difficult as well. I suppose I thrive on it, though. I love troubleshooting. I just wish I didn't have to do it quite so often. And I wish I could run more things on my computer (like Fallout 4, which I could eventually get through Steam via Swagbucks). I want to buy myself a Dell gaming laptop, but the cheapest ones that will run what I want are $800 or more. First-world problems, I know. At least with my repairs I'm still able to play DC Universe Online, which I now have ALL the downloadable content from, thanks to Swagbucks, and enough left over to buy the Aquaman DLC when it comes out later this month.

    Sunday, March 04, 2018

    A Sunday Comic Books Review

    Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
    • Jan 3rd
    • Justice League #36 - This is confusing. First off, I can't figure out where in Aquaman's timeline this is supposed to have taken place. Second off, Batman killing someone wouldn't just be front page news - everyone who knows any superhero would be asking about it. This seems like we're getting an extremely limited view of what's going on. As a result, it feels like the story is leaving too much out. I guess I'm used to decompressed stories after all, because this one is moving too quickly but in all the wrong ways.
    • Green Lanterns #38 - Well, that's not good. So she admitted her crime and Simon immediately told on her. That's good. Then she's allowed along on the fight against the stronghold of the people she claims she was led astray by. Fine. But then the standard twist happens and we get a somewhat disturbing cliffhanger. Yikes. Not a perfect story, but still engaging.
    • Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #3 - So the cliffhanger from last week, when two boys used one of the new street weaons accidentally to blow out a wall of their home, is resolved painfully and sadly in this issue. If nothing else, this comic is delivering the feeling of hopelessness and rage that people who are being unfairly picked on by police feel. It can be difficult to read. That's probably a good thing.
    • Bombshells United #9 - Ah, so that's what Cheetah was up to. And just for kicks, we also get the origin of Bombshell's Black Adam, who became so nasty his girl killed herself. Lovely. As always, interesting stuff, but I can only wonder where it's leading. One strange bit, the rules of this Lazarus Pit seem a bit different than the rules of such things in the regular DCU.
    • Jan 10th
    • Titans #19 - How can this story possibly be a thing with the current storyline in the Justice League? I mean, seriously. The Justice League, particularly Batman, are under investigation and in this book they are putting the Titans under the microscope? No, this doesn't fit. The two storylines clash badly. That said, Garth is living up to his old tradition of being a bit of a hothead, and I like it.
    • Scooby Apocalypse #21 - Well, it seems the answer to my question after what we learned last time (there's no cure) is that they'll wander around for a couple of months then get a bright idea to settle down and create a base in a mall. I personally would pick a building that has fewer access points, but whatever. I guess Velma is intent on the potential supplies in such a place, but that's not going to help much if the place is overrun by monsters. We'll just have to see in the next issue.
    • Spongebob Comics #76 - Only a small Mermaid Man reference while SpongeBob is procrastinating. The main story is part one of a longer story - all the water is gone from Bikini Bottom and Pearl is missing. Who will save the day? And who screwed up the day in the first place?
    • Saucer State #6 - Ok, I really liked that character and I'm not happy with this issue. That said, I was clearly pulled deeply into the issue since I had such an extreme reaction to it. I find it very interesting how the relationship with the Russians is going, as well. This is mind-bending stuff.
    I've finally mostly caught up. Yes, there's a small stack of comics still to be reviewed next to my desk, but it's small, and only covers a few weeks, instead of knee-high and covering nearly a year. I'll continue to do multiple weeks until I'm actually caught up, then I'll just focus on the previous month, since we get our books shipped to us monthly. Unless we move back to civilization or suddenly get rich enough to pay for weekly shipping, I'll never be posting as the books arrive in stores each week. I suppose I could go all digital, but I really don't like reading comics on my computer or tablet, I guess I'm old-school...

    Sunday, February 25, 2018

    A Sunday Comic Books Review

    Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
    • Dec 6th
    • Justice League #34 - Huh. This is basically a Batman story, with the Justice League serving as back-up to his break-down. It seems Bruce has been burning the candle at both ends too long and isn't doing too hot, leading to him screwing up. And when Batman screws up, people die. While I get Superman saying it was a good day, Bruce had Aquaman driving a frickin' bus instead of dealing with a natural disaster at a seaside town. That's not like him. But hey, Aquaman looks GREAT as a bus driver.
    • Green Lanterns #36 - Oh, the trial set-up. This wasn't as great a story as I was hoping for - the bluffing bad guy did his bad thing and we got a little insight into Jessica's continuing fight against her fears - but it didn't feel quite complete to me. I guess that's due to the set-up of the villain. She was truly frightening and not really something those two could have beaten, I think. If it had gone down to them having to fight Singularity Jain for any length of time, she would have won. I just hope the rest of the Corps recognizes the danger so if Singularity Jain shows up again they have a plan.
    • Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #2 - A little bit of confusion in my head between this version and the television show, but not so much it hurts. I wish I'd read more of the original Black Lightning, then I might have a much better idea of the supporting cast, and possibly would enjoy it more. Even with that lack of certainty, it's still a very good book with a plot that is more than promising and a cliffhanger that is heartbreaking.
    • DC Holiday Special 2017 - Oh joy, another anthology, this one with eleven stories. Let's see... Batman in a revenge story, Green Arrow as Santa, a Sgt. Rock tale of the light of life lasting eight nights against the odds, The Flash helping out stranded travelers, Deathstroke and his family being Deathstroke-y, the Atomic Knights handle sentient plants, Teen Titans face a literal ghost of Christmas Past, the Swamp Thing brings hope to the desperate, and Wonder Woman and Batman celebrate the Solstice together. The whole thing is tied together by a framing story starring Clark Kent, Bibbo, and Constantine. And there's a bonus classic Neal Adams story featuring Batman singing Christmas Carols while his spirit moves through the city. None of the stories struck me as great, but none were particularly bad, either.
    • Bombshells United #7 - Black Adam replacing Franco in Spain? That's really disturbing on a whole lotta levels. And now he's searching for some secret arcane power that is somewhere under the ground. Batgirl really has her work cut out for her. It almost seems unfair to put her up against Black Adam, but I suspect Black Adam is the one who isn't going to like the end result of this one.
    • Doctor Strange #382 - Stephen Strange just can't help using the people around him, can he? And thanks to that horrible tendency, he's not only put Zelma in trouble, but apparently everyone in the world. Good job, Doctor Strange. Your ego continues to cause harm.
    • Usagi Yojimbo #164 - Another good issue, and it links several other Inspector Ishida stories from the past, setting up a much bigger story that also worked in each individual chunk. I love the moment that Ishida is attempting arrests and everyone vanishes. I'm also with Usagi that I'm liking the Robin Hood character quite a bit. Not a killer, but definitely a character.
    • Dec 13th
    • Titans #18 - Well, that was an abrupt ending. I kind of expected this story to continue for another five issues and include some sort of crossover. In fact, when Kid Flash raced off, I was sure that was a signal that a crossover was in the works. But then... it's over. A surprise, how quickly Donna took care of business once it occurred to her that she was equal in power.
    • Scooby Apocalypse #20 - Well, that's it for the story, then, right? Velma says there isn't a cure so that's the end of the world. Daphne admits that she might have been wrong and that if she dares to believe she was wrong she will be wracked by guilt. And it's Christmas. Wow. I really have to wonder where the series will go from here, since the hunt for a cure was the big force driving the group forward.
    • Spongebob Comics #75 - Hey, there's a tiny Mermaid Man appearance! Yay. The first story is a long-form Kochalka story, which means this issue feels surreal from the start. Kochalka even wrote the Mermaid Man short (half a page) but the art was by Jerry Ordway. I think my brain is broken by all of it. In a good way.
    • Dec 20th
    • Aquaman #31 - So Corum Rath has a final solution in mind, with the goal of getting rid of all the people in Atlantis who have been "sea changed", which frankly is a lovely way to introduce the idea of that type of mutation. In fact, this whole storyline has been dealing with a really problematic part of the nature of DC's Atlantis introduced thoughtlessly some time ago. In a society as xenophobic as this one, how could creatures that were not quite "human" live in Atlantis? The answer is that they sort of didn't - they were living below and outside the main city and they were mutated, probably by the same magics that created the mer-people of the other main Atlantean city. We know it's easy for racists to ignore people they hate - that seems to be what happened to Atlantis right up until Rath took over and decided to fence all of them in, and kill the ones he doesn't like. It works. I still have many questions, but it works as a story.
    • Justice League #35 - I loved the Spanish bit with Jessica. I loved even more that I understood most of it. I need to snag some comics in Spanish, I think. It would give me more of a motive to read and try to understand. I wonder if Aquaman has been translated to Spanish? *ahem* The story was a little strange, but not bad. The underlying horror of Wonder Woman's sword having been used to kill a nun was clearly still a theme of this issue, but finding and getting rid of the bug was a fun plot. A decent issue.
    • Green Lanterns #37 - Acting as a strong leader, the Podfather of the Molites not only shielded the Ungaran teenagers after they murdered the children of his people, he also took the blame for the crime that started it all. I just wonder how Baz is going to react now that he knows what started it and who is responsible. I also wonder if she changed after facing the hate of the crowd, or if she's going to try to convince Baz to join her.
    • Bombshells United #8 - A Lazarus Pit. Is that what Black Adam is looking for? And who would Cheetah have brought back to life? I'm also more than a little curious about Batgirl's injury. Why did her eyes glow?
    • Teen Titans Go #25 - This is definitely the Holiday special, with a truly bizarre Chanukah story that really made no sense whatsoever, unless Colossal Boy was just teasing the Teen Titans and they were stupid enough to fall for it. The Christmas story makes MUCH more sense, and even has a reference to the Neal Adams story in the anthology. Fun, but as always I know I'm not the target audience for this book.
    • Wonder Woman/Conan #4 - Ah. So Yanna was stabbed, and Conan's desire to look at Wonder Woman's breast is to see if the scar is there. Got it. Lots of history in this book, mostly focusing on Conan. The mirror trick for Wonder Woman was a bit disturbing, but perhaps the crow was telling the truth about the lasso. If so, it would certainly give Diana the answers she needs.
    • Doctor Strange #383 - So we finally find out why Loki is Sorceror Supreme. I'm not sure I buy it, but then there are horrible huge threats hovering over all the various universes in comics. Justice League has been hearing about a new threat for ages, and the Vishanti apparently decided that Loki would be a better solution to some major threat to the Marvel U. I was surprised to see Stephen go to the World Tree and make sure a perfect (and sad) offering. I wonder if this new power will be enough for what he wants to do?
    • Dec 27th
    • Teen Titans #15 - Oh, great. It's the third part of a crossover. I started to read and realized I had no idea what was happening. Annoying, DC. There isn't even a "previously" text box to give me some idea of who this new character is and why he's there. So, as far as I can figure, some version of Tim Drake wandered in from another universe and is trying to kill Jon Kent/Superboy. The Titans are divided on whether or not to help Drake find Superboy and Damian. But Aqualad knows exactly where they are thanks to his powers. And... that's it. If there's more story, we're not going to see it in this book. Which makes it really annoying. I buy titles to get complete stories, not a tiny portion of a larger story which to read I'd have to buy three or four other issues of books I don't read because I'm not interested in them. I hate crossovers. They basically mean I wasted my money on an incomplete story. I always feel cheated when publishers pull this crap.
    • Batman Beyond #15 - It looks like Matt has some plans for his future. What is the appeal of being a superhero in Gotham? I'd want to move away, personally. And Stalker has a very good reason to make a deal, but if he'd just looked for Batman *first* he probably would have gotten and even better deal - like assistance in making the fields produce food again to make his home self-sufficient.
    • Scooby Doo Team Up #33 - I've never been a big fan of the Legion of Super-heroes, but it's pretty funny to see them bringing in the "expert" help of the Scooby-Doo team to solve a haunting in their headquarters. Brainiac is as obnoxious as ever, and the team does a nice job of solving the problem through elimination and logic. And a few screams and run-aways by Shaggy and Scooby.
    • Usagi Yojimbo #165 - I have a sneaking suspicion I know exactly who the Master is, as he's been properly introduced as a jerk... and has ordered Inspector Ishida to stop inspecting the crime that would involve him. It will be fun to see how this plays out.
    • Back To The Future: Tales from the Time Train #1 - A nice introductory story with some fun side trips, introducing readers to the idea that Doc Brown and his family are going to be time tourists for a bit. A solid start with some action and some familiar moments.
    • The Tick 2017 #2 - Wow, we're learning all kinds of things about the Tick in this. He has a whole history before he lived in the city, and the proof is in the people who recognize him (no one could forget him, right?). And he can play the piano? And apparently has a very close female friend? Wow. This is a side of the character we've never seen before. I'm really enjoying this book.

    Sunday, February 18, 2018

    A Sunday Comic Books Review

    Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
    • Nov 1st
    • Justice League #32 - More of the Bat-crossover, Metal. Aquaman is up against AquaBatWoman, and apparently a massively mutated and massive Mera. Other than that? A lot of set up for an impossible situation to be continued in another book that I no longer read. Bleh. I hate these kind of crossovers that all too often infect superhero comics.
    • Green Lanterns #34 - On the one hand, people who believe strongly in religions don't often switch so quickly... on the other hand, they were witnessing their world falling apart. So I guess even though Jessica's speech was cheesy, it was something to cling to. Lots of setup for future issues in this one, as well.
    • Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #1 - Hubby and I are watching the television show, but this is the first version of the comic I've read. I've known about Black Lightning for many years. I was disgusted to learn why the Super Friends version was renamed, and I'm happy Tony Isabella is finally getting his due for this character. It's kind of hard for me to simply judge this comic out of the context of how I learned about the history of the character... which is why I've included all that information. With all that said, I really enjoyed this. It isn't completely perfect, but it's a strong set up and it makes me want to read more, so that's all good. I believe this is a mini-series, but I would like to see this character with an ongoing some time.
    • Bombshells United #5 - So, in the end, in the Bombshells universe the internment of the Japanese did not happen because a handful of people stood against it, then convinced more to stand, and using magic convinced even more. It's a nice dream, but as Dawnstar notes, it's not the history of every universe.
    • Usagi Yojimbo #163 - Foul murder and the frame up of a Robin Hood ninja. The usual mess of gang intrigue and no honor among thugs is combined with some possibly bigger problems. As usual, this is a great story with fun new characters and two solid favorites. I quite like Nezumi. He seems to be a sensible thief, all things considered. Another solid issue of the most dependable comic book on the market.
    • Nov 8th
    • Titans #17 - Wowsa. A lot of history packed in there. Donna, I'm sure, has no problem with "wasting" that amount of time. But I have to wonder what else happened to Troia beyond simply outliving her friends that turned her into that sort of monster. Fate is cruel, but Donna isn't that person. Wowsa. Lots to think about here. Could simply watching everyone you've ever known and loved die off while you persist turn you into a killer? Ok, so there's her nature already, not human, but still!
    • Scooby Apocalypse #19 - Oh, now this is one that really hurts. Adults being what they are, they didn't listen when Cliffy told them the truth. And Daphne is a little too trigger-happy for my tastes. Cliffy is going to be a really interesting character should he survive much longer. No, this isn't my childhood Scooby-Doo, but I'm really loving this book.
    • Spongebob Comics #74 - No Mermaid Man, and the Pirates really seem to have vacated the place. This issue was all about friendship - and took the usual SpongeBob approach to the subject. I'm not entirely sure how Squidward survived, to be honest. All-in-all, a fun little issue.
    • Nov 15th
    • Aquaman #30 - A nicely balanced issue, with just enough movement on all the storylines. The consequences of Mera's damaged necklace, the guilt of Tempest, the continued mish-mash of Atlantis' underworld, and of course the main story of the battle between Aquaman and Rath. My one quibble is that King Shark really seems to prefer surface life to living underwater, and I wasn't aware before that he got caught in the city. But if he happened to be in town when it all went down, it's reasonable that he would become an underworld leader. Up next appears to be the annual. Good stuff, and I'm looking forward to reading the next installment.
    • Justice League #33 - More of the Metal crossover, which means I don't understand everything that's going on because I didn't purchase the crossover or the many tie-ins. From this sample, I don't regret my decision. There's an evil Joker/Batman thing, and the league were captured but Cyborg busts them loose. Sort of. Aquaman is there but doesn't do a lot. So I'm fairly meh about the whole thing.
    • Green Lanterns #35 - Blustering idiot doesn't know how to contact Green Lanterns except by annoying them with threats and damage. Lovely. An ok issue, but I'm not sure Jessica is likely to still have a job after that incident.
    • Bombshells United #6 - I'm not really sure what this one was all about. It seems to be mostly a lot of set-up for future stories, and the introduction of new characters to this universe. At least there was a one-panel appearance of Mera and Arthur.
    • Wonder Woman/Conan #3 - Not good at following orders? Who would've thunk it. The crows are getting more excitement than they bargained for, which really ought to please them in the end. I mean, they're bored and just want something exciting, right?
    • Doctor Strange #381 - Loki? Really? I mean, I'm not exactly a hater on Loki, but I was hoping for some stories about, you know, Doctor Strange. Hopefully this will be a short storyline.
    • Nov 22nd
    • Teen Titans #14 - Titans to the rescue! There to save Damian's worthless butt. I like Emiko, but man, somebody needs to smack Damian around a bit, mentally. I'm kind of hoping that final revelation is going to be the act of smacking.
    • Batman Beyond #14 - Well, the Royal Flush Gang is back in action and as annoying as ever (in that good, goofy way). It's also nice to see Terry getting his life back in gear now that Dana is aware of why he's a lying liar. As an aside, I wonder if one of the reasons I like Aquaman is because he never really had a secret identity and thus never had to lie to everyone?
    • Astro City #49 - Oh man, that's one of those intense little stories about family and superpowers that I wasn't expecting to hit quite as hard as it did. Once she realized there was no possibility of him being alive, I wanted to cry along with her. And still, he was there at every protest. Another sort of eternal life. Intense. I love this book.
    • Scooby Doo Team Up #32 - Holy carp-on-a-stick! It wasn't until I was reading this that I remembered watching the show a lot as a child. I hadn't really recognized him on the cover. But the comic captured the character perfectly and I was sent back into childhood. Fun stuff.
    • Saucer State #5 - Guh? There was some serious Fortean Philosophy in this one, and as much as I liked it, it was difficult to wrap my noggin around. At least we seem to be getting closer to a conclusion in this case.
    • Nov 29th
    • Aquaman Annual: Crownspire #1 - Black Mercy. That's an oddly appealing way to die. Tula said there were many bodies down there... the probability is that they died peacefully, thinking they were in their ideal world. Unless the plant/creature/alien/magic works differently than I think it does. I always tend to enjoy Black Mercy stories, since they are basically Elseworlds tales with a framing sequence. This one introduces us to yet another child of Mera and Arthur - so just in the last month of comics we've got a daughter and a son. At some point I need to gather up all the various children of Aquaman and figure out just how many different versions there have been. I kind of would like to see them have all of them - just a huge Aqua-family with lots of kids and grandkids running around. *ahem* I thought, wrongly, that this annual would actually be part of the ongoing storyline. Now that I know it isn't, I'm even more eager to get to December's books and start reading.