Weekend Update 11/25/2018: Pictures and headlines

There is just so much weirdness in the world that I could comment on, but I don’t even know where to begin.

© 2018 Matt Wuerker/POLITICO

(Click to embiggen) © 2018 Matt Wuerker/POLITICO

Trump administration to pull troops from border just as migrant caravan arrives — proving it was all a stunt.

Don’t forget the troops missing Thanksgiving with family in service of Trump’s political stunt.

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Trump rips retired Adm. William McRaven for not capturing Osama bin Laden sooner.

Retired Admiral McRaven repeats: Trump’s media attacks ‘greatest threat to our democracy’.

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Cindy Hyde-Smith sent her daughter to a private school created to help white kids bypass integration – It’s the latest detail that gives context to the lynching “joke” from the US senator from Mississippi..

Walmart asks Mississippi’s Hyde-Smith to return donation after ‘public hanging’ comment.

Cindy Hyde-Smith has embraced Confederate history more than once in her political career.

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Finland baffled by Trump’s comments about raking leaves to prevent forest fires.

Folks in Finland churn out hilarious memes mocking Trump’s raking comment.

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Poll: Democratic voters back Pelosi as speaker by wide margin.

Republicans declared war on Nancy Pelosi — and she won.

The liberal civility fetish explained:

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Friday Five (it’s spelled subpoena edition)

“Donald: since it's going to come up. It's spelled 'subpoena' not 'subpeena' and 'indictment' not 'inditement'. You're welcome”

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It’s Friday! It is the fourth Friday in November–the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving Holiday. This day has been called Black Friday for many years, though many retail chains have moved the beginning of the shopping day to Thanksgiving Afternoon, which ought to raise the ire of the same people who bitch about the so-called war on Christmas, yet somehow doesn’t. Regardless, while I used to avoid shopping on this day just to avoid the crowds, after the first time I read the story of some poor minimum-wage-earning retail employee being trampled to death in a Black Friday Sale, I have made it a priority to just stay home and not shop at all. Unfortunately, those of us doing that aren’t sufficient to bring an end to the insanity. I… I don’t know what else to say.

So, we find ourselves on the fourth Friday of November. Depending on where you live it is either the day after a major holiday or just another Friday. In either case, I guess it is time to get to my links. Before I get to that, though, I have a supplement to my irregular Sunday Funnies feature. Sheryl Schopfer is a long time friend who has multiple web comics. She recently suffered an accident that has interfered with the production of her comic. I am quite humbled that a very silly thing I wrote originally for her amusement a while back has been chosen to fill in part of the gap: Oh Deer, Oh Deer, Oh Deer.

Welcome to the Friday Five. This week I bring you: the top five (IMHO) stories of the week, five stories of the blue, and five videos (plus my blog posts).

Stories of the Week:

NCAA athlete disowned by family after coming out as queer ends fundraising after campaign surpasses $100,000.

An Atomwaffen Member Sketched a Map to Take the Neo-Nazis.

The Alt-Right is Killing People.

A dark matter hurricane is headed our way.

Former FBI agent: CIA leaked Khashoggi report because no one trusts Trump to ‘act on the truth’.

This Week in the Blue Wave:

How Big A Difference Does The House Speaker Really Make? Personally, while I want the Dem leadership go go in new directions, during this time when we only have HALF of one of the branches of government, I want the person who pushed through increases to social programs in the budget last year, thank you very much. We’re in the middle of a complex chess game against fascism, so we need someone who knows the system.

Nate Silver says media missed massive ‘blue wave’ while covering ‘stories about Trump voters in truck stops’.

View from the Left: Trump sunk Republicans in the midterms; we can help him do it again in 2020.

Architect of bin Laden raid: Trump ‘threatens the Constitution’ when he attacks the mediaThe Daily 202: Trump’s pattern of insulting war heroes continues with commander of bin Laden raid.

The Daily 202: Trump’s pattern of insulting war heroes continues with commander of bin Laden raid.

Things I wrote:

Word counts and other markings of the passing of time.

What are you serving, what are you talking about, and what are you avoiding during the holidays?

We are supposed to be giving thanks, after all.

Thanksgiving Links (ritual sacrifice, with pie edition).

Oh Deer, Oh Deer, Oh Deer.

Videos!

Christopher Sorensen – Afterglow (Official Music Video):

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Build a prom Macys Thanksgiving performance:

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Trump’s Weird Lie About Raking in Finland: A Closer Look:

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Tearjerkingly Perfect John Lewis Christmas Ad Shows Rock Legend Elton John’s Life in Reverse: :

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MMXJ – Memories (ft. SIDNE) (Official Music Video):

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Thanksgiving Links (ritual sacrifice, with pie edition)

“Hurray, I'm Gay, it's Happy Thanksgiving Day! How's that for a holiday family outing?”

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In the U.S. it’s Thanksgiving, a day which most of us were taught in school was to commemorate a peaceful feast between the the Pilgrims and their neighboring Native Americans. Of course, we are also taught in school the equally false notion that the pilgrims came to the America from England looking for religious freedom, when in fact what they came to do was establish a theocracy—they fled England because the folks back home wouldn’t let them persecute neighbors who worshipped very slightly differently than they did. So while the Native Americans whose land the Pilgrims were squatting on did occasionally meet and break bread with the colonists—and have to teach them how to farm since most didn’t know how and so forth—the traditional Thanksgiving story is a myth.

Being raised in evangelical fundamentalist churches, I was also taught that it was a religious holiday (after all, who would we be saying “thanks” to, right?), though there isn’t really anything very holy about what the European colonists did to either the Native Americans nor the environment we found here.

Anyway as Anya observed in that one episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: “To commemorate a past event you kill and eat an animal. A ritual sacrifice… with pie.” And I have to admit that the past events I am commemorating are the holidays spent with extended family back when all my grandparents and most of the great-grandparents were still alive. Which is why one of the dishes I’m cooking and serving today in sweet potatoes with heavy cream, molasses, and pepper… as close to how Great-grandma used to make it as I can get.

Since a lot of my bookmarked stories this week don’t really make sense to include in tomorrow’s Friday Five, in case you need something to read today, here are some Thanksgiving Links:

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Here’s What Your Part Of America Eats On Thanksgiving.

This Is How Long Thanksgiving Leftovers Actually Last .

The Ultimate Thanksgiving Dinner Menu .

It wasn’t just an episode of a sitcom, this community actually through turkeys out of planes at their annual festival: Tossing a Bird That Does Not Fly Out of a Plane: A Thanksgiving story about the limits of human empathy.

Why First Nations People Regard America’s Thanksgiving Day as a National Day of Mourning.

And let me remind you: don’t jump the gun on Christams!

"Slow down!! Let's eat the damn turkey first!"

(MemeGenerator.Net Click to embiggen)

We are supposed to be giving thanks, after all

“Have a gay ol' Thanksgiving”

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Last weekend I was at Costco with a medium-sized list of things we needed that are cheapest there. One of those items was a small turkey. In the past when we’ve been trying to make dinner for just the two of us, we’ve had trouble finding a turkey that wasn’t gigantic. One reason is that back at the old place while we had two refrigerators with freezer compartments, both were standard apartment-sized things so didn’t have a place to keep a turkey frozen for any length of time. So we’d wait until it was nearly the holiday and by then most grocery stores only had the largest sizes left. Then last year Michael discovered that Costco stocks a much wider variety of sizes of turkeys than most grocery stores, which was very handy.

Now this year we do have our small chest freezer, so storing a big bird is possible—but we had to start making an effort a bit over a week ago to cook dinners exclusively from things in the freezer and refrain from buying freezable-things we found on sale at the grocery store until we made enough room in the freezer for the turkey.

But I digress… I was looking for a small turkey, when I heard a voice nearby say, “Isn’t it a bit to early to be buying a turkey?” The person wasn’t talking to me, but rather to the woman who was with him. It appeared to be a small family of like a grandpa, grandma, a mom, and two children, and the grandpa-looking guy was the one questioning their search of the turkey bins. The subsequent conversation was quite amusing to overhear: grandma and mom told him Thanksgiving was just five days away, he argued, the kids got involved. He was absolutely certain that Thanksgiving is always the last Thursday in November. One of them had to show him their calendar on their phone before he believed then that Thanksgiving was this week. Then he said something along the lines that he had a lot less time to get the house ready for everyone coming over.

Anyway, I wasn’t quite as bad as he was, but it was just a week previous that both Michael and I had been shocked to realize Thanksgiving was less then two weeks away. It wasn’t that we didn’t know the holiday was the fourth Thursday, simply we didn’t quite realize that much of the month was already gone.

Tomorrow it is just the two of us for Thanksgiving. Despite trying to keep the menu small, I know we will have way too much food. Still, I’m looking forward to my turkey and stuffing and sweet potato pie and all the rest. And I’m feeling quite a bit less gloomy this year than the previous two holiday seasons. Many things in the world are still very messed up, but there is more than a glimmer of hope, now.

So, here are things I’m thankful for:

  • my smart, kind, sexy, super capable, funny husband
  • the people who turned out and voted bue
  • coffee
  • purple
  • books
  • science
  • people who laugh and fill the world with joy
  • sci fi books that tell of wonderful futures
  • people who help other people
  • people—often from segments of society who are always told they don’t matter/should listen to their betters/et cetera—who ran for office large and small this year
  • beautiful misty grey mornings
  • people who make art or stories or music
  • music
  • NaNoWriMo writing buddies
  • cocktails
  • modern medical science
  • people who love
  • living in the future
  • tweety birds and kittens and puppies and tigers and otters
  • flowers
  • people who keep striving in spite of it all
  • stuffing
  • my crazy, sometimes infuriating relatives who probably find me even more bewildering than I ever do them
  • not having to spend the holiday with (especially) the most infuriating relatives again this year
  • my sweet, clever, mega-competent, long-suffering husband (who definitely deserves to be on this list twice!)
  • music
  • gravy
  • all my wonderful friends—who are talented, kind, giving, and clearly the most patient people in the world, because they put up with me even at my most dickish

Thank you, each and every one. And whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving or not, I hope you have a wonderful day full of blessings, because you deserve it

What are you serving, what are you talking about, and what are you avoiding during the holidays?

"Hello, member of my extended ! Good to see you, it's been too long. No, I'm not in med school anymore. I'm an opthalmologist. No, that's not an optometrist. I do eye surgery. I know, sounds kind of gross doesn't it? Sorry to hear about your vague eye ailment. You should see an eye doctor. Sorry to hear about your vague medical ailment. You should see your doctor. Sorry to hear about your friend's vague physical ailment. They should see their doctor. Yes, I go a flu shot. You should get one, too."

Being shared on Twitter with the explanation, “Instead of having the same conversation over and over this Thanksgiving, I’ll be handing this out.” (click to embiggen)

Back when I was blogging on LiveJournal, about this time every year I would post a survey about what sorts of side dishes and pies and so forth that people like to serve at Thanksgiving, if they celebrated. And I used to get lots of respondents. I’ve tried it a few times on this blog but got far fewer participants, so it doesn’t seem to be worth the effort of constructing a new survey. This image of a printed list of answers to all the questions that come up again and again at one person’s family meals gave me a chuckle, and reminded me of certain topics and questions that come up at my family gatherings any time that there is more than just Mom there.

I don’t have to deal with that sort of thing this week because we’re staying home again this year. And I had a lot less of it to deal with last year because we stayed home for both holidays. I drove down twice during the season to see folks and drop off Christmas presents, so I did see a lot of the extended family, but it’s different when you aren’t sitting in one place for a long time either waiting for food to cook, or more people to arrive, or whatever.

Anyway, if I were to do something like this letter, it might go something like this:

Hello, cousin/aunt/cousin-in-law I only see at holiday gatherings! It’s been too long!

As a matter of fact, no, I don’t technically live in Seattle any more, I’ve moved to a small suburb called Shoreline.

No, I still take the bus to work. It’s only four miles further from the office than my old place. I would love to talk about our new neighborhood and all the things I’m growing in my–

Yes, I am still working in the same part of the telecommunications industry that I have been for the past 31 years.

Yes, you actually use the stuff we do every day. Our products are the servers that figure out where you phone is anytime you use maps, or need to call 9-1-1, and so forth.

I’m sorry to hear about your vague problem with your very cheap Android so-called smart phone that is almost certainly running a very outdated version of Android and is loading with bloatwear. I don’t do Android. At all. I’m an Apple user.

No, that is not an iPhone. It has the name of another company printed right there in very large type. I’m sorry the salesperson at the place you went to get a cheaper phone than you could buy from your carrier (after two other cheap phones died on you this year) lied to you. You should probably go somewhere else next time.

I’m sorry to hear about your vague computer problem on your super cheap very old Windows machine that is probably infested with more malware than actual software. Can’t really help you, as I said, I’m a Mac user. You should probably stop taking it to that guy who runs the combination Pawn Shop/Smoke Shop/Computer Repair Shop and go to the place my husband recommended last year.

Yes, I voted. No, I really don’t think we should talk about it.

Yes, as a matter of fact, I do still believe that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, just like his birth certificate said. And no, I’m not at all glad he’s gone. I’m really sad that voter suppression and Russian interference put a person who lost the popular vote into office.

Yes, yes, I completely agree we should change the topic. Did you see the Seahawks game two weeks ago?

Since the form of this thing is a flier you could hand out to people, I decided to leave out the many times that I wind up sitting very tight-lipped awkwardly listening to someone try to explain away some real world news with very very mangled Bible references. Or the latest quack medicine/magical Bible cure someone is trying for their vague physical ailments.

At least for the last five or six years everyone has realized that talking about anything related to their opposition to gay rights or transgender people isn’t a good idea. Please note that I have been out of the closet for over 26 years and they have all met (and all seem to really like) my husband who has been coming down with me to these things for 20 years, but it took this long to decide that maybe telling us some of those things to our faces isn’t polite dinner conversation.

I am going to miss not getting a taste of Mom’s Mistake Salad (it’s a concoction of pistachio pudding and pineapple and whipped cream and I don’t remember what, that seems to contain about a million grams of sugar per spoonful, so I can literally only have a few bites, but dang it is so, so, so good!) or share and compare anyone’s attempt at making Grandma’s Frozen Cranberry Salad—for a long time we thought the recipe was lost, so several of us came up with versions of our own; Mom found an index card with the official recipe hiding in one of Grandma’s photo albums. And then when she made it, it wasn’t quite what any of us remembered, confirming our suspicion that she did never made it the same way twice.

Since it is just the two of us, Michael and I are cooking a small turkey. We’ll have stuffing, gravy, green bean casserole, my Great-grandma’s creamy savory sweet potatoes, sweet potato pie, cranberry sauce, and a relish tray that will have enough pickled foods and olives to feed about 30 people.

Oh! And I plan to make the Fiery Thanksgiving Manhattan again: Rye bourbon, sweet vermouth, orange bitters, and Tillen Farms’ Fire and Spice Maraschino Cherries. It will be divine!

Word counts and other markings of the passing of time

"Marvel's The Avengers" ..Loki (Tom Hiddleston)..Ph: Zade Rosenthal  ..© 2011 MVLFFLLC.  TM & © 2011 Marvel.  All Rights Reserved.

You really should…

I’ve been doing pretty well on this year’s NaNoWriMo. I’m well ahead of the pace needed to hit 50,000 words by the end of the month. But part of that is because this year my goal is to beat my previous record, which was a bit over 65,000 words, so I set the progress counter in my Scrivener project to that goal. Not everything I’ve written has been great. I do break one of the unspoken rules: I don’t revise scenes (well, other than when I notice a typo or something… sometimes I got back to a scene and add a sentence that I realize is needed to set up something later that I just wrote), but sometimes in the past when I have been really unhappy with a scene, I try writing the scene again, usually from a different character’s viewpoint.

There is a particularly pivotal scene that I have been having trouble with, and so far I have written it from three different viewpoints. In each one, I’ve also started the scene from a slightly different place. Between the second and third attempt at the scene, I flashed back, as it were, and wrote some possible set up scenes from various viewpoints of various characters getting ready for the event in question to try to figure out what wasn’t working in the scene itself.

Now, there was already part of my plan to write some different events in the book from multiple viewpoints. I show the villain coming into a situation that is already in motion and trying to deal with it. Then later I show the beginning of the sequence from the viewpoint of one of the protagonists, explaining some things that seem mysterious. There is similar thing where one of the protagonists comes in after some awful things have happened and is trying to pick up the pieces, then later I show what the villain actually did that led to the situation as this protagonist found it. That’s a specific dramatic ploy that isn’t the same thing as revisiting a scene multiple times from different viewpoints.

Anyway, it’s all valid first draft stuff. We always know that some of what we write is going to get cut later.

Completely unrelated to all of that, I wanted to note that last week we passed the 21st anniversary of my first husband’s death. This was one of the milder years, for me. Most years beginning a bit before my birthday (because I can’t think of my birthday without thinking of his, as our birthdays were only two days apart) through October and up until about the anniversary I tend to be more moody than usual and more susceptible to bouts of sadness and such. Three years ago it was a whole lot worse than average, last year it was a bit less bad than usual. I can never predict how it will go.

I really can’t say that it has steadily gotten better over the years. There have been years more than a decade ago where it was about as mild as this year. And then there are the really bad years.

I still think that part of why last year was better than usual was living in the new place. Every anniversary of Ray’s death before that, I was still living in the home we had shared when he died. So every day when I stepped out the front door I saw the climbing rose Ray had planted, for instance. There are still plenty of events and moments, and yes some things around the house, that remind me of him, but there are some things that used to recollect him that just are no longer here.

Thinking about this made me realize something that I haven’t been making a note of, however.

This week will be the twentieth anniversary of the first Thanksgiving that Michael and I celebrated together. I started to type that the coming Christmas will be the 21st, but that one is tricky. Michael was our friend before Ray died. And Michael dropped in several time in that December to check on me. So while the actual Christmas day I spent down in Oregon with my mom and relatives there, just before I went, Michael and I had a gift exchange. And though we weren’t yet officially dating at that point, at least one of my friends later told me that thought they had noticed we were already falling for each other.

I think I’m going to be a bit pedantic and say, since the first time we hung stocking together on Christmas Eve, slept under the same roof, and woke up together to find out what Santa had left in those stockings on Christmas morning was 20 years ago, that this year will be the twentieth anniversary.

Of course, a few weeks after Thanksgiving and more than a couple before Christmas, it will be our sixth wedding anniversary. Can’t forget that!

Friday Five (true believers edition)

This is former Marvel Comics editor Stan Lee addressing racism in a 1968 edition of Stan's Soapbox (a feature that was printed on the letters page of most of the Marvel comic books at the time) after the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.

This is former Marvel Comics editor Stan Lee addressing racism in a 1968 edition of Stan’s Soapbox (a feature that was printed on the letters page of most of the Marvel comic books at the time) after the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.

It’s Friday! It is the third Friday in November–nearly Thanksgiving in the U.S.! It is also National Novel Writing Month, which means I’m not spending as much time blogging or reading the news during the week.

This week’s links a real mix for me. One of the people in the obituary section is a person I have considered a friend for about 26 years. Another wrote or oversaw the writing of an amazing amount of the stuff I read during my childhood and teen years.

Anyway, welcome to the Friday Five. This week I bring you: the top five (IMHO) stories of the week, five stories of the resistance, five stories of awful things, and five videos (plus my blog posts and notable obituaries).

Stories of the Week:

Former Cowboys Linebacker Jeff Rohrer Is to Marry Partner.

Superior Responsibility: Spider-Man & the Thread of Identity .

The New Yorker Cover Story: Barry Blitt’s “Welcome to Congress”.

I Before E Except After C.

The NRA denies the reality of gun violence. Doctors like me know it all too well. “those who have been in a trauma room, soaked to the skin in the blood of a child … watching his eyes dilate to black and knowing all is lost — well, we have received a clear, strong directive”

This Week in the Resistance:

Trump, stung by midterms and nervous about Mueller, retreats from traditional presidential duties.

Here are the three main factors that drove the Democrats’ blue wave.

CNN’s John King Breaks Down Democratic Gains in House Races: ‘This Is a Blue Wave’.

A week later it’s clear the midterms did produce a blue wave – here are the three main factors that drove the Democrats’ triumph.

On election night, all anyone saw was a ripple. But the blue wave came and the Republicans wiped out

Awful News:

The Acting Attorney General Helped an Alleged Scam Company Hawk Bizarre Products.

Bin Salman ‘tried to persuade Netanyahu to go to war in Gaza’ say sources .

Trump’s Tax Cut Was Supposed to Change Corporate Behavior. Here’s What Happened.. “Since the tax cuts were passed, the 1,000 largest public companies have actually reduced employment, on balance. They have announced the elimination of nearly 140,000 jobs — which is almost double the 73,000 jobs they say they have created in that time”

FBI Reports Largest Spike in Hate Crimes Since 9/11.

Number of hate crimes in Seattle double from year to year.

In Memoriam:

https://www.advocate.com/crime/2018/11/15/unknown-victim-deadly-1973-arson-gay-bar-finally-identified.

Fred Patten:1940-2018. Fred was a friend, a contributor to the zine I used to edit, and an editor who purchased at least on of my stories for one of his anthologies… he was also the person who probably single-handedly introduced anime to North Anerica, among many, many, many other accomplishments.

‘An Unshakable Humanism’ — Michael Chabon on Stan Lee.

So Long, True Believers: Stan Lee, 1922-2018.

Stan Lee: Marvel Comics Legend Was 95.

STAN LEE DEAD AT 95.

Things I wrote:

Weekend Update 11/11/2018: The count goes on.

100 years ago today, World War I, aka The War to End All Wars ended….

I told you the blue wave didn’t fizzle!

That voice whispering that no one wants to read your story? It lies….

Videos!

Trump and His Fellow Grifters Lie About “Voter Fraud”: A Closer Look:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Matt Bloyd and Colton Haynes – A Million Dreams:

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Calum Scott – No Matter What:

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New film ‘Boy Erased’ explores the ‘self-hatred’ dealt by gay conversion programs:

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The Winning Trick at the World Championships of Magic Might Fry Your Brain Like an Egg:

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That voice whispering that no one wants to read your story? It lies…

“First drafts don't have to be perfect. They just have to be written.”

Click to embiggen

While I’m working on National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) I’m going to try to get at least a few blog posts about writing. And during NaNoWriMo a particularly apt topic is that of first drafts, why a bad but finished first draft is better than a blank page, and so forth. There is one particular aspect of this topic that I probably haven’t written about enough. To get to that aspect requires me to lay a bit of ground work, so grab your favorite beverage, tuck in, and let me share some background.

I first encountered Neil Gaiman’s writing back in the late 80s and early 90s while he was writing The Sandman for DC Comics. Sandman was not a superhero comic, it was the story of the incarnation/personification of Dreams, and over the course of the series Gaiman told tales crossing many genres: myth, mystery, horror, and a lot of things that are difficult to classify. It won a bunch of awards. One issue won a World Fantasy Award for short story–a thing which shocked some people so much they changed the rules so that no graphic novel or graphic story could ever be nominated in a World Fantasy Award writing category again.

Anyway, over the years after I would encounter some of Gaiman’s short stories and novels. Some I liked, some I didn’t. But the ones I liked were always so good that I would always at least give a new story a try.

When I first saw reviews of his 2001 novel, American Gods it sounded like something that would be right up my alley. A combination of fantasy and Americana that looks at the question, if ancient mythological creatures were all real, where are they now and what are they doing? Admittedly themes Gaiman had already explored in Sandman, but it’s an area of fantasy of which am an enamored. So I expected to love the novel.

I didn’t.

It would not be fair to say I hated the novel simply because I have never been able to make myself finish it. I got bogged down maybe a quarter of the way through. Since I’m often reading multiple books at any given time, I set it aside with a bookmark in place and grabbed another book on one of my shelves with a bookmark and read it. Months later I happened across American Gods on one of my shelves, and I picked it up read some more. And I still wasn’t feeling it.

A few years later I headed into the computer room at our old house intending to copy some files from my desktop computer to take back to my laptop and my comfy chair in the living room and get some writing done. We used to have a small stereo in the computer room that one or the other of us could plug our iPods into. When my husband was playing video games on his computer, he often listened to audiobooks on the stereo. He was in the middle of one such book when I entered the computer room that day.

And during the few minutes it took me to find the files I needed and copy them, I found myself sucked into the book he was listening to. I sat there for more than a half hour listening. I only stopped because my husband paused his game for a bathroom break, and also paused the book. I asked him if, as I suspected, the book he had been listening to was Anansi Boys. It is sort of a sequel to American Gods, though Gaiman said he thought of the second book first. Anyway, it shares one important character, and essentially happens in the same world.

I asked my husband if we had a hardcopy of the book. He said he thought his copy was on the shelf next to his side of the bed. So I went, found the book, and spent the rest of the night reading Anansi Boys from the beginning, instead of writing. I quite enjoyed the book.

So not long after, I figured that maybe, now that I had finished the sort-of-sequel and really liked it, I should give American Gods another chance. After all, I had disliked and not finished the first three or four Discworld books people had tried to get me to read years before. Then a friend convinced me to read Wyrd Sisters and, well, it wasn’t long before I owned a copy of every single Discworld book there was.

I still found it impossible to become interested in American Gods or its main characters.

There are many people whose opinions I respect who really like American Gods. There are many people whose opinions I respect who don’t like it—I can think of at least one friend who hates it with a passion. I don’t hate it, I just can’t get into it. On the other hand, there is the related book I love, and a number of other things by the same author I love.

The lesson to be learned here is: not every story is for every reader.

If someone reads your story and doesn’t seem to be interested—even if they come out and say they hate it—that doesn’t mean it’s a bad story. It doesn’t mean you are a bad writer. All we can know from that data point is that that particular story is not for that person.

So don’t let the fact that anyone has ever reacted poorly to something you wrote stop you from writing something else. Don’t listen to that voice that says that no one will be interested in this story. Or that says you shouldn’t try. And so on.

There is someone out there who needs the story you are trying to tell. I am confident of that. But they will never know they need it until they find it. And they will never find it if you don’t write it.

So, go! Write! Tell that story! Now!

I told you the blue wave didn’t fizzle!

We don't think of it this way, because we forget that state boundaries don't have an objective reality, but the Senate is one big gerrymander. State boundaries are imaginary lines on the map just like congressional districts are. The difference is history.

We don’t think of it this way, because we forget that state boundaries don’t have an objective reality. They are imaginary lines on the map just like congressional districts are.

I know it’s been a lot of politics lately, but since most of my writing time is going to NaNoWriMo, blog posts will be short. And the kind of blog post where I share a couple of links and make a shot commentary don’t take much time. So, here we go:

Despite all the things stacked against the blue wave (gerrymandered congressional districts, voter suppression efforts, the non-democratic/non-proportional nature of the Senate), the not-Nazi party has won a lot: Democrats had a good showing on Election Day. It’s been even better for them since. A lot of the races were too close to call on election night, but eager newspeople were more than willing to call them anyway. As more votes are counted, some of those calls are proving to be wrong. As just one example that this isn’t something that should surprise us: six years ago Jeff Flake was elected to represent Arizona in the Senate. On election night in 2012 he led his opponent by nearly 6%, so everyone called it. By the time all of the votes were counting, his lead had shrunk to a teensy bit more that 2%—he still won, but it was a lot closer than it had appeared on election night.

This year, that same Senate seat was up with no incumbent. On election night, the Republican candidate led the Democratic condidate by a woefully thin margin of one-half of a percentage point. As more ballots have been counted, the lead shrank, just like Flake’s did six years ago (because late-coming ballots often lean heavily one way or another; in Arizona’s case, late-arriving ballots tend to be more Democratic). So now the Democrat leads by a bit more than one percent. That’s a smaller shift than what happened six years ago, but well within what should have been expected: ELECTION DRAMA: Democrat Takes Tiny Lead in Arizona Senate Count; Florida Senate & Governor Prepare For Recount.

Will the lead widen? Will it narrow? Will it narrow enough to throw things into a recount? Will it flip? We don’t know for certain until all the ballots are counted. And that’s true of many races. We’re all so eager, as voters, to know the answer right away, forgetting that ballot counting takes time. The results reported on election night are always just a sample.

That’s why two races in Florida are still up in the air. Things were too close to call: Florida Begins Vote Recounts in Senate and Governor’s Races.

It isn’t just a matter of which ballots come in later (because of military ballots being shipped in from overseas, or absentee ballots mailed on the last day, or states like mine where all voting is by mail and we’re allowed to mail or drop off our ballots at the very last moment). Nor is it just because of issues like that story about one county I included a link to on Saturday where an overadundance of gross incompetence delayed the beginning of counting (among other things). In very high population centers, the sheer volume of the number of ballots means that only a tiny fraction are counted by the end of election night. Instead of hundreds or maybe thousands more to be counted in the following days, it’s hundreds of thousands. So we have low-populations counties like one in the Florida panhandle which had counted all but 26 ballots by the end of election night, and then a place like King County in Washington where there were over a quarter of a million (250,000) uncounted ballots in hand the day after election day—and because mail-in ballots were still in the postal system, thousands more on their way.

We don’t get answers fast. The fact that the margins change as more ballots are counted doesn’t mean something fishy is going on. The election ain’t over until every vote is counted.

100 years ago today, World War I, aka The War to End All Wars ended…

…and the President of the United States couldn’t be bothered to attend a ceremony at a cemetery full of American soldiers who died in that war because it was raining. The asshole flew all the way to Paris for the historic anniversary, but couldn’t leave his friggin’ room to go to a cemetery owned and maintained by the U.S. government where thousands of U.S. troops are burried!?! Trump Skips Visit To American Military Cemetery. And Justin Trudeau Shades Trump For Skipping WWI US Cemetary Visit Due To Rain

“It’s incredible that a president would travel to France for this significant anniversary — and then remain in his hotel room watching TV rather than pay in person his respects to the Americans who gave their lives in France for the victory gained 100 years ago tomorrow,”
—David Frum, former speechwriter to President George W. Bush

Ben Rhodes, who served as deputy national security adviser for strategic communications under President Barack Obama, said the excuse about the inclement weather did not stand up. “I helped plan all of President Obama’s trips for 8 years,” he wrote on Twitter. “There is always a rain option. Always.”

“As we sit here in the rain, thinking how uncomfortable we must be these minutes as our suits get wet and our hair gets wet and our shoes get wet, I think it’s all the more fitting that we remember on that day, in Dieppe, the rain wasn’t rain, it was bullets.”
—Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

“They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate @realDonaldTrump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen #hesnotfittorepresenthisgreatcountry.”
—Nicholas Soames, a British member of parliament who is a grandson of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill

But enough of that. This beautiful story, written last Memorial Day, tells about that American war cemetery in France, along with the program that paid for mothers and widows of the slain to travel there to pay their last respects in the years following the war: In an American Cemetery in France: Thoughts on Memorial Day.

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