All posts by fontfolly

About fontfolly

I've loved reading for as long as I can remember. I write fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and nonfiction. For more than 20 years I edited and published an anthropomorphic sci-fi/space opera literary fanzine. I attend and work on the staff for several anthropormorphics, anime, and science fiction conventions. I live near Seattle with my wonderful husband, still completely amazed that he puts up with me at all.

Friday Alternative: No fascists edition

This week has been insane at work with several late nights fixing problems, so there was no time to assemble a proper Friday Five. Look for a links filled post sometime this weekend.

Here are some images that cover one of the recent recurring issues in the news.

Friday Five (voting matters edition)

Welcome to the third Friday of September. September, the most blesséd month, when superior babies are born.

Not long after last week’s Friday Five posted, the air quality in my region starting going bad. There are wildfires around, some just on the other end of the county I live in, and all that smoke and particulate matter made breathing a bit unpleasant for a few days. So I wasn’t surprised that I had a sinus headache and cough last weekend. There were some other symptoms not obviously related, but I attributed most of it to the air quality. As the air cleared up, my symptoms started letting up. But then my husband started experiencing the same symptoms as I had. So now I’m wondering if I didn’t manage to catch something last week that was unrelated to the air quality. Joy!

We’ll keep you posted.

Let’s move on to the Friday Five in which I bring you: the top five stories of the week, five stories of interest to queers and our allies, five stories about reacting to bad folks, five stories about toxic fance, and five stories about crooks and traitor (plus a notable obituary).

Stories of the Week:

Idaho Far Right’s Election Loss to 18-Year-Old Climate Activist

The mystery of why some people don’t catch COVID – Scientists think they might hold the key to helping protect us all

Scholar who saw all this coming: Americans "do not really understand liberal democracy"

These Incredibly Clever Tweets Prove How Complicated The Queen’s Death Was For Some Of Us

U.S. Inflation Falls For 2nd Straight Month On Lower Gas Costs

Stories of Interest to Queers and Our Allies:

Two-Thirds of Swing State Voters Support Marriage Equality – The findings come from the Human Rights Campaign as the Respect for Marriage Act awaits debate in the U.S. Senate

Florida city condemns school district for refusing to recognize LGBTQ History Month – The Miami-Dade School Board voted 8-1 against recognizing October as LGBTQ History Month. The "Don’t Say Gay" law is to blame

LibsofTikTok targeted a school district’s Pride mural project, with little success – Chaya Raichik called on her army of haters to swamp a California school district’s LGBTQ art project. It didn’t go so well

Montana judge blocks anti-transgender birth certificate rule – Conservative lawmakers in numerous states have sought to restrict transgender rights

Boston Marathon to feature nonbinary category next year – For nonbinary athletes, the qualifying standards will initially be the same as those in the women’s field, the Boston Athletic Association said

This Week in Reacting to Bad Guys:

Elena Kagan: Judges Create Their Own ‘Legitimacy Problems’

GOP senators led by Graham slam Trump Jan. 6 pardon promise

Hardee’s mocks Mike Lindell after he claimed the FBI took his phone at one of its Minnesota locations

Ocasio-Cortez blasts GOP lawmaker’s treatment of witness: ‘I’m trying to give you the floor, boo’

Mueller Investigator on Possible Trump Second Term: ‘I Don’t Have Enough Alcohol in My Apartment to Deal with That’

This Week in Toxic Fans:

Racists Are Worried About the Historical Accuracy of Mermaids – Apparently they can’t handle Halle Bailey singing "Part of Your World" in the new ‘Little Mermaid’ trailer

‘The Little Mermaid’ Was Originally a Metaphor for Unrequited Gay Love

Fear of a Black Hobbit – The demand to keep politics out of art is too often a demand for art to conform to conservative politics And I have some quibbles with this excerpt, but it makes some good point: "prominent genre brands like Star Wars, or Marvel, or Lord of the Rings also have the difficult task of creating content for children while still satisfying their middle-aged stalwarts, whose nostalgia is ultimately insatiable because they cannot look upon novel material with the same emotional intensity they felt as children. Many older fans are convinced they can’t recapture that intensity only because the producers themselves have failed to create stories of the same fundamental quality, when in reality they have simply outgrown the sentiment they are chasing. These campaigns seek to convince this audience that the feeling they are pursuing can be recaptured, if only those making popular art would reject modern progressive dogma—thus creating a well of cultural resentment they can manipulate for political purposes."

‘The Boys’ To ‘The Rings Of Power:’ Everyone Is Tired Of Toxic Fans

The Sandman creator Neil Gaiman ruthlessly hits back at troll’s ‘woke’ moaning

This Week in the Crooks, Traitors, and Other Deplorables:

Republican county election commissioner is arrested and charged by the FBI

‘List of Political Grievances’: Judge Delivers Damning Rebuke as He Tosses Trump RICO-Like Lawsuit Against Clinton

Donald Trump’s Lawyers Reveal That Merrick Garland’s Justice Department Has Backed Them Into a Legal Corner

Trump-appointed judge convicts three Jan. 6 defendants but acquits two of them on obstruction charge

Oath Keepers want to suppress evidence of Zello chat host ordering arrests of ‘treasonous’ congressmembers

In Memoriam:

Fred Franzia, Two Buck Chuck Creator, Dies

Friday Five (good news first edition)

Welcome to the second Friday of September. September, the most blesséd month, when superior babies are born.

It has been a weird week. The large volcano that can be seen from when the weather is particularly clear has started venting. If it goes we’re all going to die. That isn’t really an exaggeration. And the night before last we had a small earthquake from one of the many, many, many fault lines around here. It woke me up, but I didn’t realize it was an earthquake. My husband slept through it.

Because for so many, many, many, many months the nes has been so full of crazy and horrifying news, I decided to mix things up a bit this time. So this week I bring you: Five stories that have nothing alarming at all, five stories about science fiction and fact, five more typical stories of the week, five stories of interest to queers & our allies, and five stories about traitors. Plus a bunch of notable obituaries.

This Week in Interesting and Not Alarming:

FDA Finalizes Historic Rule Enabling Access to Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids for Millions of Americans

COVID tax relief: IRS provides broad-based penalty relief for certain 2019 and 2020 returns due to the pandemic; $1.2 billion in penalties being refunded to 1.6 million taxpayers

New Raspberry Rally Girl Scout Cookie Joins Nationwide Lineup for 2023 Season

Barack and Michelle Obama make first joint return to the White House for unveiling of official portraits

The Cartoon Mystery That Stumped the Internet

This Week in Science Fact and Fiction:

Here Are the Winners of the 2022 Hugo Awards

Beloved sci-fi bookstore, established in ’70s, reopens after burning down during unrest

You’ve Been Thinking of Australian Mammals All Wrong

In Ethiopia, scientists identify a fossil otter the size of a lion

Fascinating video demonstrates that none of us has any idea what a continent actually is

Stories of the Week:

Another dam(n) extinction: Another rare plant destroyed by a hydroelectric dam

Reionization of the Universe occurred 1.1 billion years after the Big Bang

Search for missing Native artifacts led to the discovery of bodies stored in ‘the most inhumane way possible’

Mystery of woman who went to ER and vanished 32 years ago solved – Myrtle Brown went to a hospital in Brooklyn in 1990 and was never heard from again. Her family was finally able to hold a virtual memorial for her

Neil Gaiman Slaps Back At Elon Musk For Criticizing Amazon’s ‘Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power’ — Update

Stories of Interest to Queers and Our Allies:

‘Casa Susanna’ Review: A Lost Chapter of Queer History Comes to Life

Country star raises over $100,000 for trans youth after denouncing influencer’s transphobia – Country musician Maren Morris is totally our hero of the day

Trans Floridians sue to block Medicaid rule excluding gender-affirming care – Human rights groups are suing Florida on behalf of four Medicaid beneficiaries who have been denied coverage of their gender-affirming medical care under a new state rule

Lil Nas X voguing to Beyoncé on tour is giving the internet life

Former dean of Christian boarding school charged with abducting teen Important note: the only reason any criminal charges were brought is because the mother of the teen — who hired this anti-gay a-holes to kidnap her child and torture them to try to make them straight — didn’t have legal custody. Nightmares like this happen to hundreds of kids every year with no consequences to the adults because the parents initiated it…

This Week in the Crooks, Traitors, and Other Deplorables:

When, Where and For What Mar-a-Lago Crimes Should Garland Indict Trump?

We’ve reached the endgame of Trump’s imperial presidency – The Washington Post’s report about nuclear secrets at Mar-a-Lago further exposes Trump’s attempts to wield presidential power after losing in 2020

Trump’s Lawyers Might Think They Just Won. They Still Botched the Case – Trump’s incompetent attorneys turned an administrative matter into a possible criminal indictment. The appointment of a special master doesn’t change that

DOJ appeals decision to order special master to review evidence seized in Mar-a-Lago search and says it’s halted intelligence review

Steve Bannon pleads not guilty to NY state charges of money laundering, conspiracy and fraud related to border wall effort

In Memoriam:

Queen Elizabeth II has died

SETI Pioneer Frank Drake Leaves a Legacy of Searching for Voices in the Void

Award-Winning Underground Comics Writer/Artist Diane Noomin Dies at 75

Peter Straub Dead: Horror Novelist, Stephen King Collaborator Was 79

Anne Garrels, longtime foreign correspondent for NPR, has died at 71

CNN anchor Bernard Shaw dead at 82

Friday Five (incompetently concealing treason edition)

Welcome to the first Friday of September. September, the most blesséd month, when superior babies are born.

It’s been a week. Again.

It’s time for the Friday Five in which I bring you: two bonus categories, the top five stories of the week, five stories of interest to queers are our allies, five stories about election stuff, plus an obituary.

This Week in Justice:

Ex-NYPD officer who assaulted D.C. officer on Jan. 6 gets record 10-year sentence – Thomas Webster, a retired New York City officer, was convicted of several felonies for attacking a Washington officer with a flagpole and tackling him to the ground on Jan. 6

Proud Boy sentenced to 4.5 years in prison in Jan. 6 case, still says election was stolen – The judge who sentenced Joshua Pruitt, a former Washington, D.C., bartender, called the Jan. 6 riot "a national disgrace."

This Week in The Former Guy:

Ex-Trump Aides Say He Probably Has More Sensitive Documents At Other Properties – Michael Cohen and John Bolton said they suspect Trump could have more classified documents stored in Bedminster, New Jersey, and elsewhere

The DOJ’s new filing punctures Trump’s greatest delusion – Trump thinks that ex-president’s are somehow a protected class under the law. The Justice Department disagrees

Stories of the Week:

Biden delivers prime-time speech on the "battle for the soul of the nation" in Philadelphia

Are lightning bugs disappearing from night skies? Dimming prospects face some fireflies

It Is Long Past Time To Give Up On Most Of The Right – The Fever Will Never Break

Attacks on the LGBTQ+ Community Amount to Stochastic Terrorism

Remember Al Gore? – 2000 vs. 2020 (and 2022)

Stories of Interest to Queers and Our Allies:

California may act as U.S. refuge for transgender youths – Legislation would provide legal refuge to parents from other states who risk having their trans children taken away or being prosecuted if they support their children’s access to gender-affirming care

Biden Administration Outlines Measures to End HIV by 2030 – The plan calls for an increase in testing, education, and access to PrEP at a time when those are endangered

‘A League of Their Own’ remake shows what it’s like to be Black and trans in the 1940s – Lea Robinson, a Black nonbinary and transgender actor, plays the role of a Black trans man known as Bertie Hart in the new Amazon series

Virginia Won’t Ban Books for Obscenity—for Now – “We have to keep working our way up the ladder,” said the Republican stage legislator who brought the case

New Super PAC To Target Anti-LGBTQ Candidates – Agenda PAC says their aim is to defeat candidates who oppose same-sex marriage and other rights for LGBTQ Americans

Elections and Related:

Ron DeSantis’ First Voter Fraud Bust Is Quickly Imploding – The governor’s own administration greenlighted the defendants’ voter registration applications. Now it has arrested them for voting

Michigan groups ask state court to put abortion rights measure on the Nov. ballot – The amendment — now in limbo — would insert permanent protections into the state’s constitution for abortion and other reproductive health services

‘Really?!’ Bewildered Sarah Palin implodes after losing congressional race to a Democrat

Florida GOP leader to quit after conviction in ‘ghost’ candidate scandal: report

"Corrupt as hell": Ginni Thomas effort to overturn Trump’s loss even more extensive than reported – It wasn’t just Arizona — messages show Thomas leaning on Wisconsin lawmakers to block Biden’s win

In Memoriam:

Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet leader who helped end the Cold War, has died – Born in the village of Privolnoye, Gorbachev grew up a committed communist during World War II. He wound up winning a Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for helping end the Cold War

Friday Five (what century are we in edition)

Welcome to the fourth Friday of August.

It’s been a week.

It’s time for the Friday Five in which I bring you: two bonus categories, the top five stories of the week and five stories of interest to queers are our allies (plus a couple of things I wrote).

This Week in We’ve Been Telling You:

Daylight Savings Time Turns Us Into Terrible People by Making Us Exhausted, Study Finds

This Week in the Dreams:

Some Very Biased Thoughts about The Sandman on Netflix

Stories of the Week:

How a far-right, Christian cellphone company ‘took over’ four Texas school boards – Patriot Mobile markets itself as “America’s only Christian conservative wireless provider.” Now the Trump-aligned company is on a mission to win control of Texas school boards

Webb’s Jupiter Images Showcase Auroras, Hazes

‘The Future We Deserve’: This Florida Gen Z Candidate Thinks He Can Chart a New Path For the Youth

Oldest human relative walked upright 7 million years ago

[Study: Trump Tax Cuts Failed to Help Anybody But the Wealthy](Study: Trump Tax Cuts Failed to Help Anybody But the Wealthy) Big surprise…

Stories of Interest to Queers and Our Allies:

Texas church that performed unlicensed and homophobic version of ‘Hamilton’ forced to donate to LGBTQ causes

Judge blocks Utah’s transgender sports ban for being discriminatory – The injunction is the first victory for three families of trans children who sued the state

6 LGBTQ candidates won their Florida primaries. They all oppose the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law – For these candidates, the law isn’t only a personal insult to their dignity and families, it also endangers queer kids across the country

Federal court rules that trans youth healthcare ban is a form of sex discrimination – Arkansas cannot enact its law banning gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth

Former Marine Disarms Man Who Brought Grenade To Gay Bar

Things I Wrote:

Chuck is the artist, Chas is the writer

There are things worse than gatekeeping…

There are things worse than gatekeeping…

I have been very bad at writing any reviews of any of the genre series, movies, or books I’ve read in the last year. For instance, the last review I posted was for episode 4 of season 2 of Star Trek: Picard back at the end of March. Since then I’ve seen the rest of that series, watched the entirety of season one of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, and the entirety of Obi Wan Kenobi, and season one of Ms Marvel… not to mention five novels nominated for the Hugo Award this year (this was the first time in a while that only one of the books that made the short list was one I nominated and therefore had already read!).

In other words, there have been a lot of things that I ought to have written reviews of in the last five-six months that I haven’t.

Most recently, I binge-watched season 1 of the Netflix adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. This isn’t going to be a full review. The series adapts the first two graphic novels in the comic series, Preludes and Nocturnes (issues 1-8), and The Doll’s House (issues 9-16; unless you have the first edition, which included issue #8 even though it had been in the previous graphic novel for various reasons). There was at least one stand-alone story in those two volumes which isn’t included in the series, but that’s a detail for a real review.

If I ever get around to writing one.

I think the series is very well done. I think the casting of the characters is brilliant. As a fan who read much of the original series in individual comic books back in the day, I have quite loved it.

There are people who don’t. There are people who claim to be fans of the original series posting angry reviews of the series–reviews that make it fairly clear that they didn’t actually read the original series. Because the recurring theme in all of the angry reviews I’ve seen so far is: why are there so many gay people in the story?

The original comics had every single one of the queer, gay, lesbian, trans, and even nonbinary characters that are in the TV series. They haven’t been added for modern day "wokeness." Mr Gaiman didn’t always use modern terminology to refer to some of the characters’ orientations and gender identities back in 1989 when he started the comic series. And yes, in the original comics there were elements around some of the queer characters that many view as problematic. But, for instance, Dream’s younger sibling, Desire, was very explicitly referred to by other characters and the narration of the original comics as "they" and explictly referred to as being neither male nor female but both and more from the beginning (which makes sense, as the Endless are anthropomorphic manifestations of mortal concepts, and Desire specifically represents/ embodies/incarnates the desires of all mortal creatures in the universe–not just straight white neck-bearded fanboys who spend their free time arguing about comic history minutia in the backroom of comic book stores).

There is a temptation to put these hot takes in the same category as the idiots who ask when Star Trek became political (that would have been September 8, 1966, when the very first episode of the original series aired). People who watched the original Star Trek series as episodes being syndicated on television during the 70s and 80s (and who were children at the time) didn’t understand the politics that were being referenced. It went over their heads. To the extent they did notice they probably just absorbed it as platitudes. So it’s sort of understandable (if not excusable) that some Trek fans can be surprised when they notice similar moralizing or critiquing in more modern incarnations of the Star Trek.

But I don’t know how anyone could have read the original Sandman and not noticed that the Corinthian was gay. Or that Hal was a drag queen who mentioned an ex-boyfriend. Or that Alex Burgess (son of the Magus) was very gay and even explicitly talked about his sexual awakening when he gave in to a crush on a gardener. I could keep going.

It’s okay if they don’t like the series. It’s even okay if they read some of the comics when they were younger and didn’t remember these details. I mean, to me it tells me they are either extremely stupid or intensely deep in denial–but denial is a powerful thing, so it isn’t inconceivable.

The issue is that a number of these folks appear to be review bombing the show with all their anti-gay vitriol. Which one can only interpret as a conscious attempt to keep anything more like this current series from being made, and to discourage similar endeavors by others.

Which gets us to the title of this post, and the sentiment expressed in the image I attached above. There are things worse than gatekeeping. One of those is trying to prevent other people from seeing/reading the kinds of stories that they want simply because those stories aren’t to your liking. There is a strong feeling among certain types of so-called fans that anything they don’t like shouldn’t exist, and if it does exist, it should not be praised or lauded and so forth.

Which is sort of ironically funny. Because while I’m willing to believe that a tiny percentage of these upset people really did read at least a few of the comics/graphic novels some years back and just didn’t understand what was going on–I’m quite certain that most of these guys claiming to be fans of the original are simply lying–and they are lying about being fans of the original because the original series is a much-lauded and award-wining comic series.

I mean, yeah, some of them are lying because they are the kinds of fanboys who don’t want any sci fi/fantasy that caters to queer people, or that doesn’t agree with their extreme rightwing politics, et al. But a lot of the others fall into this ironic category. The Sandman has been referred to as a classic. One issue of the comic series even won a World Fantasy Award (and some folks were so upset about a comic book winning the award that they changed the rules so it couldn’t happen again). The comic series won literally more than two dozen Eisner Awards. It’s won a Bram Stoker Award. Individual issues and graphic novels have been nominated for (and at least once won) Hugo awards. It has been declared by more than one authority the best comic series, ever.

So I am quite certain that there exist a bunch of fanboys out there who have never cracked a single cover of the original comics (oh, maybe they read some of the spin-offs and such written by people other than Gaiman in the years since, or they watch the Fox TV series Lucifer which was very, very, very loosely based on a couple of characters out of the original comics) but who have claimed for years to be Sandman fans, because so many other people say the series was so good.

And it was. And still is.

I realize that there is a way you could look at my rant here as a form of gatekeeping, because I am mocking these guys who are claiming to have read the original series when it is crystal clear that they haven’t. But gatekeeping isn’t about fact-checking, it’s about misusing the concept of fact-checking to tell people who are enthusing about a book or movie or series that they are are liking these things incorrectly–they are the wrong kinds of fans.

I am not pointing at people who are clamoring to get into the Sandman fandom and saying that they aren’t welcome. I am pointing to people who are screaming about how much they hate The Sandman and insisting that anyone who does like this thing they don’t like is the wrong kind of fan. Which is a different thing all together.

They are free to dislike it. That are free to say they dislike it. They are free to go watch something else.

What they shouldn’t do is try to stop other people from liking it. And they shouldn’t be lying about their past experience with the story in order to try to add fake gravitas to their hateful, homophobic screaming.

Chuck is the artist, Chas is the writer

Many years ago the famous author Terry Pratchett was going to do a reading in the city where I lived at the time, Seattle, Washington. You had to reserve seats for the reading, though the tickets were free. My husband and another couple among our friends wanted to attent, so we reserved seats and planned to attend together. Specifically, the other couple was going to show up at our place in a Seattle neighborhood about 2 miles from the venue where Mr. Pratchett was supposed to speak, and the four of us would drive over together.

Each of us had at least one of Mr. Pratchett’s books we intended to bring with us to ask him to autograph.

We discussed the reading and our attendance plans on several mailing lists associated with the science fiction shared universe ‘zine that I was Editor-in-Chief of and that many of our friends were members of either the Editorial Board or the non-profit Corporate Board of Directors overseeing said fanzine.

So on a particular Saturday afternoon my husband and I were waiting for two of our friends to arrive at our door so we could all pile into one car with the books we wanted autographed and drive to the nearby University for the reading.

There was a knock at our door. I opened the door expected to see the two friends we were expecting. Instead, another friend of ours (who was also involved in the sci fi project as a writers of stores, an illustrator of stories, a cover artist for the fanzine, and a member of the editorial board). I opened my mouth intending to say, "Oh, you’re coming to the reading, too?"

But before I could say that, our friend, Chuck, said, "I think I’m having a heart attack, and I wasn’t sure what to do, so I came to ask you guys."

Now, at this time Chuck lived only a half mile from the place where Mr Pratchett was scheduled to read, and only 3/4 of a mile from the University District Hospital’s Emergency Room. But instead of heading to the nearby Emergency Room, our good friend Chuck had gotten on a bus, which required him to change buses halfway through, and took the four mile trip to the duplex where Michael and I lived over in the neighborhood of Ballard, Washington, to ask us what he ought to do about a heart attack.

We bundled him into our car, scrawled a quick note to our other two friends, and headed over to a different Emergency Room that was barely half a mile from the place we lived at the time.

It turned at that Chuck was correct: he was having a heart attack. There were various things the doctors wanted to do before they would let us take him home.

When our friends arrived at our duplex (this was back in the late 1990s when none of us had cell phones so I couldn’t sent a message to tell them what was happening), the note had somehow blown off the door. So they waited a while for us to re-appear, then the went to the Pratchett reading, and afterword, one of them asked Mr Pratchett to give her an autograph that said, "To Gene: Where were you, you bum? Terry Pratchett."

Chuck was, indeed having a minor heart attack, so my husband and I hung out in the hospital lobby until the doctors decided our friend was physically stable and we could take him home.

Now, while the decision to get on a long bus ride that required a transfer to get to some friends to ask what he ought to do about a heart attack very much sums up some parts of Chuck’s personality, in all fairness I have to point out that he took important and wise actions related to the health situation afterward.

For years Chuck’s primary source of income had been as a administrative person for a comic book distributing firm, and the rest of his income was supplemented by writing, illustrating, and editorial work he did for several small comic book publishing companies. After this incident, Chuck went to remarkable lengths to find a steel foundry that was doing business in Seattle, and took a job that involved a lot of physical activity at the foundry, so that he wasn’t spending every day sitting at a desk. This move prevented him from having any more cardiac events for some years after this.

In addition to being the single most prolific writer, artist, and editor of the Tai-Pan Literary and Arts Project (of which I had the honor of being editor-in-chief for about 27 years), Chuck was involved in lots of other projects: he had a patreon, he had is long-running comic strip Mr Cow a fantasy comic book series, Champion of Katara, and the related fantasy series Felicia, the Sorceress of Katara.

Chuck was also–hands down, no arguments–the very best person to read a story aloud. When, at our monthly writers’ meetings, some people had a scene, or short story, or chapter from their own work in progress to read but were feeling trepidatious about reading it aloud for critique, Chuck frequently volunteered to read there stories. And even with zero-prep time, Chuck did the very best voices.

In my opinion, his writing deserved to be read by a much larger audience than found him on the various venues he published his work on. Similarly, while I am extremely happy that I own several of his story illustrations and book covers (hanging at various places around my apartment), I think that a much larger audience should have seen his stuff. And I absolutely wish that many, many more people had gotten to hear his voice talent.

Many months ago a mutual friend (Chuck’s best friend, and a writer who is one of the few people I put in the same category as Chuck), informed several of us that Chuck was experiencing health issues but only wanted a very limited number of people to know the details.

Chuck continued to attend our monthly Writers’ Meetings for a while, but had communicated to me that he didn’t want to talk about his health situation with others. So it was only very recently that I was able to tell many of our acquaintances what was up. And when my husband and I headed into the nearby hospital this weekend for a round of sitting with him, I was convinced that there were going to be several more days of us spending part of the day sitting by his bed and either reading messages from friends far away, or talking about some story ideas I had for his universe (with his permission I had written a Christmas Ghost Story set in his Champions of Katara universe, and had discussed a few other ideas in very broad terms.)

This is not the first time I have sat at the bedside of someone I knew and loved who was heading toward what the doctors all said was the end. But on Saturday I was still very naively thinking that I would get to sit at his bedside on the the next several days I had committed to.

So I was talking about one of my silly story ideas set in his universe, trying to keep a familiar voice sounding in the room no matter how unconscious he was, when he just…



I knew that he had a Do Not Resuscitate and a Do Not Intubate Order on file, but I still (having been programmed by many years of movies and TV shows), expected something more urgent from the medical people when I pressed the red button and told them I thought he had stopped breathing.

But Chuck was gone.

A lot of our mutual friends and acquaintances have shared more interesting and illuminating stories than the one I shared above about Chuck and his many idiosyncracies and talents. I should try to see how many of those are available on line to link to.

But while I’ve been thinking about Chuck, and what he means to me, I’ve thought about a phrase more that more than one of our mutual friends have used: referencing his gentle humor. And while I’ve talked about how for years he got me again and again every month with his deadpan pretending to not know what I was talking about when I asked if he had a story to read for our monthly Writers’ Meeting, I realize that "gentle" only scratched the surface.

Chuck had a wicked sense of humor, but his humor was also always kind. I think that we, as a species, don’t always fully appreciate just how valuable kindness is, nor do we always recognize how uncommon kindness is. I, personally, am fundamentally a snarky, flippant, irreverent, and impudent a personality. Chuck was extremely clever and sharp-witted–and sometimes even impudent–but his satire and felicitousness were never cruel or biting.

Chuck was always kind.

And I think that is what is leaving the biggest hole in my heart right now. Yes, I wish I knew how several of his stories in progress would have ended if he had had more time, but I’m mostly going to miss his kindness.

Over the years I worked with him, Chuck would sometimes sign his work "Chuck Melville" but other times sign it much more formally "Chas P.A. Melville." I asked him more than once which he preferred and why. The only time he didn’t give a deflecting humorous answer he said, ‘Chas is the writer. Chuck is the artist."

So I tried to follow that guideline when his work appeard in the publication I was editing ever since. I still don’t know what precisely his two middle initials stand for. One of his sisters revealed one of the initials in a posting on his Caringbridge site. I’m willing to let the other initial remains a mystery.

Friday Five (we told you so edition)

Friday Five (like christmas edition)

Welcome to the second Friday of August!

Many days this week the weather was cool in the morning and hot in the evening. We had one exciting afternoon with a surprise thunderstorm. And I’m focusing on the weather this week because I don’t want to talk about other things other than to repeat vehemently: fuck cancer.

It’s time for the Friday Five in which I bring you: two bonus categories about legends and dreams, the top five stories of the week, five stories of interest to queers and our allies, five stories about deplorables facing consequences, and some notable obituaries.

This Week in Legends:

Bill Russell’s No 6 jersey retired across NBA, in 1st for league – Bill Russell’s number 6 jersey is being retired across the National Basketball Association in the United States

This Week in the Dreams:

Netflix’s Sandman has achieved the impossible – Don’t give up on your dreams, kids!

Comics: 3 Reasons The Sandman is one of the best comic books ever

Stories of the Week:

Colbert Says FBI’s Trump Raid Is Like Christmas: ‘We All Got the Present We Wanted’ – Colbert also depicts librarians as Trump-hunting ninja on ”The Late Show“ “We still don’t why the raid happened, because we don’t yet know what was in the warrant. Think about that. We’re talking about the former president of the United States of America, the FBI raids his home, and all we can think is, ‘Hmmm, I wonder which of his crimes they’re investigating? ‘Cause he’s done so many, it’s hard.’”

‘There is no uprising’ for Trump after FBI search – MSNBC’S Lawrence O’Donnell explains why there was no uprising of the 5.6 million Florida Trump voters or the nation’s 74 million voters after Donald Trump’s home was searched by the FBI and why the media continues to distort the reaction of a tiny number of Trump’s followers

Yes, the Inflation Reduction Act Is a Big Effing Deal – While the bill that just survived the Senate is a whittled-down version of the Build Back Better Act, it still puts the Democratic party on a promising new path

Payrolls increased 528,000 in July, much better than expected in a sign of strength for jobs market

U.S. gasoline prices fall below $4 for first time since March

Stories of Interest to Queers and Our Allies:

Hero baker comes to the rescue after lesbian couple denied wedding cake by homophobe – A baker in New York has come to the rescue after a lesbian couple was denied a wedding cake by a homophobic vendor

Trans equality wins in federal court as state Medicaid ordered to pay for gender affirming care – West Virginia’s Medicaid program has denied gender-affirming care for trans people since 2013. On Tuesday, a judge put an end to the discriminatory policy

Montreal Pride parade was suddenly canceled. That didn’t stop hundreds from marching in the streets – Everyone from the mayor on down was angry that it was canceled hours before it was supposed to start. That’s when it turned into a protest march

Homophobic conservatives are trying to wreck public libraries, but people are fighting back

Being gay is not a disease, Vietnam tells its medical workers in bid to end anti-LGBTQ discrimination

This Week in the Deplorables Face Consequences:

Merrick Garland calls Trump’s bluff – After Trump allies demanded he reveal the warrant behind the search of Mar-a-Lago, the attorney general moved to do just that. And the former president agreed

Man Who Allegedly Attempted To Break Into Cincinnati FBI Building Dead After Standoff

Ex-Va. police officer gets more than 7 years for role in Jan. 6 riot – Sentence for former Rocky Mount officer Thomas Robertson matches highest punishment for a Capitol riot defendant so far

NYPD Fires Officer Over Working For “Known Felon” – Roger Stone NYPD cop pal Sal Greco fired by police commissioner, plans $25 million lawsuit

Report: FBI delivers subpoenas to several Pa. Republican lawmakers

In Memoriam:

Olivia Newton-John Dead: Hollywood Pays Tribute

Olivia Newton-John: Beloved Singer, Actress, & LGBTQ+ Icon Dies at 73

Olivia Newton-John Dead: Beloved Actress & Singer Dies at 73

Roger E. Mosley Dead: ‘Magnum, P.I.’ Actor Was 83

David McCullough, historian and film narrator, died at 89

Friday Five (trailblazing edition)

Welcome to the first Friday of August!

After a streak of record-breaking hot, humid days, we’re getting a couple of days of relief including some light rain! If the forecast is correct, the heat will be back soon, alas.

It’s time for the Friday Five in which I bring you: two bonus stories about people f-ers facing consequences, the top five stories of the week, five stories of interest to queers and our allies, five stories about elections, five stories about haters and traitors, five stories about another epidemic, and some notable obituaries.

This Week in F-ing Around and Finding Out:

MAGA Influencer’s Social Media Blabbing Leads to Jan. 6 Charges

74-year-old Long Island man sentenced to prison for dozens of anti-LGBTQ death threats – Sentenced to 30 months in prison for mailing more than 60 letters containing death threats

Stories of the Week:

Biden’s long-game economic success story

How Kansas women ‘surprised’ America – The math never changed. But the mainstream media failed to note just what a paradigm shift the loss of Roe was — and will continue to be.

Randy Rainbow Torches GOP’s ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ Response to Mass Shootings in New Parody Song (Video)

Go Ask Alice: why a Mormon mom made up stories of teen drug life that swept America

The Founder of GeoCities on What Killed the ‘Old’ Internet

Stories of Interest to Queers and Our Allies:

Study argues that “social contagion” isn’t making the kids today transgender – The "social contagion" claim has long been repeated by right-wing politicians and activists who support laws criminalizing gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth.

West Virginia Medicaid Must Cover Trans Surgery, Judge Rules

House Dems seek IRS review of anti-LGBTQ organization’s tax status – Family Research Council designated ‘association of churches’

Michigan Supreme Court rules sex discrimination ban includes sexual orientation

Some Republicans see good politics in same-sex marriage bill – As the Senate contemplates legislation to protect same-sex marriages, there has been a sharp shift in Republican support for the issue

Elections and Related:

‘Kansas will not be our last fight’: Abortion rights victory gives Democrats new hope for midterms

Recount confirms Tina Peters lost her Secretary of State primary – Recount Confirms Election Denier Lost Big

A Georgia district attorney opposes Lindsey Graham’s attempt to quash a subpoena in a probe of efforts to overturn the 2020 election

The Republicans Who Want Election Laws to ‘Stay Broken’ – MAGA-Land is trying to make sure the FEC is never able to function again

Florida Republican candidate may be ineligible after canceling registration in fit of rage in January 2021: ‘Thank you communists’

This Week in Liars, Homophobes, and Other Deplorables:

Alex Jones’ spontaneous cell death

How a Child-Killer Set the Stage for Today’s Republicans to Revel in Cruelty

The backlash to Christianity: Republicans are now panicked — but they only have themselves to blame

Records tied to $600,000 money transfer subpoenaed in Miami ‘ghost’ candidate case – Probe Widens In Republican “Ghost Candidates” Scheme

Town votes to defund library after claims it was “grooming” kids – "They are trying to groom our children to believe that it’s OK to have these sinful desires," a defund activist said. "It’s not a political issue, it’s a Biblical issue."

This Week in the Other Epidemic:

Monkeypox Declared Public Health Emergency by Biden Administration

Monkeypox is not a "gay disease" but it is being painted that way worldwide

Here’s What You Should Know About Monkeypox In Children – Although there have been at least five cases of monkeypox in kids in the US, public health officials say that they believe the chance of widespread infections in youngsters is remote, even with a new school year just around the corner

It May Be Too Late to Stop Monkeypox Becoming Endemic in the U.S. and Europe

The smallpox vaccine stockpile isn’t the monkeypox solution we need — yet – Public health leaders are weighing significant trade-offs to ACAM2000, including the vaccine’s side effects

In Memoriam:

Nichelle Nichols Dead: Uhura in Original ‘Star Trek’ Series Was 89

Nichelle Nichols’ Death Sparks Tributes From ‘Star Trek’ Stars

Nichelle Nichols completed her "Star Trek" mission so that I’d never know a world without Lt. Uhura – Nichols’ career was mainly related to "Star Trek." But if she’d quit, a galaxy of talent may never have emerged

Nichelle Nichols, trailblazing ‘Star Trek’ actress, dies at 89

Pat Carroll Dead: Actress and Voice of Ursula in The Little Mermaid

R.I.P. Pat Carroll, staple on classic television and Ursula’s voice in The Little Mermaid – The Emmy award-winning actress was 95

Celtics legend Bill Russell, towering champion in Boston, dies at 88

Bill Russell’s Lifelong Fight Against Racism

Obama on Bill Russell: ‘Today we lost a giant’