Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I Go Pogo

1980, with voices from Stan Freberg, Ruth Buzzi, Vincent Price, Jimmy Breslin, and others. Never released to theaters.

Monday, January 12, 2015

I'm a Pepper, You're a Pepper

Some of the great lessons for me this week: the importance of context, whether for a cartoon, a passage from the Koran or other holy book, or some rude story told about that asshole-in-the-next-cubicle; doing further research; asking questions; listening to the answers; and thinking for oneself instead of being swayed by any popular opinion. I hesitated to say ‪#‎jesuischarlie‬ because their satire is not mine. I would not depict all holy and other authority figures the same way they do. But I am a blasphemer in other ways and want my freedom of expression, and want to be listened to, taken in context, understood. Looking at the overwhelming reaction, and the unprecedented global discussion that ‪#‎CharlieHebdo‬ has launched, I feel #jesuischarlie would be flattering myself, cartoons aside. Author Lauren B. Davis suggested finding a new hashtag that essentially covers all these principles, a map point in cyberspace for discussion that's inclusive, but maybe doesn't sound too sunshiney or pompous? But what? I am humanity? I am you? You are me? I'm a mensch? Floor is open....

Saturday, January 10, 2015

With Heart

Whether you think Charlie Hebdo were naughty children pushing the envelope to satirize racism and defang offensive images, or were just offensive and racist for the hell of it, you have to give them credit for the cover that shows Mohammed weeping over the way the lunatic fringe uses him for violence. The same could be said about Jesus, Buddha, and all the best divine and mortal gods everywhere. The Hebdo tragedy has brought the free speech issue home to highlight our own hypocrisies, and has brought lesser known heroes to public attention. Like Raif Badawi, sentenced to prison, huge fines and possible death sentence as well as 1000 lashes, 50 at a time for 20 weeks.  The lashes alone might well kill him. His crime, he advocated liberalizing Saudi society on his website, which the House of Saud has conveniently classified as "terrorism."

You can sign a petition for him here, and if you feel moved to do more, google Saudi embassies and consulates worldwide. You can call them or if you're near one, leave a note and flowers or candles in support. I'm not near one, but I'll paypal someone money for candles and flowers who is.  Get the message to the Saudis that this is not tolerable.   He should be freed and returned to his family.

I'm not sure what Canada's PM Harper is doing. Some of his family are in Canada so we should be at the forefront of this. The Saudi embassy in Ottawa is here.

I took a few days off from work, mostly, because Charlie Hebdo is a big deal around important issues, and some directly relates to and echoes themes in the book I'm finishing, but going back to work now. Bon courage, as the French say. It means "with heart." (h/t Diana Greene)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Robin Redux

The Robin Hudson mysteries have been reissued as proper e-books by Open Road Media.  More information here.

The last Robin Hudson book came out in English in 2000.  Fourteen years later, our paths have met again, in Paris, France.  I'm now editing a sixth episode, Last Girl Standing, with an ETA of the New year, if my beta readers don't come back with too many edit suggestions, that is.  This is the mysterious missing sixth episode, which is listed in my bibiliography on some websites but only came out in French translation.  It was a better book in French, thanks to a great editor and a great translator who pared down the sprawling manuscript.  I didn't even bother to submit the English manuscript to anyone else.

To fill in the blanks on Robin's life, I've rewritten it,  and have two more drafted, an episode set back in New York, and another in Bollywood.

In the meantime, you may want to reread the first five books, and buy many many copies as gifts and stocking stuffers for those loved ones who might feel a little battered, or gloomy about the state of the world, and need a laugh this holiday season.  These books go well with all hot and cold beverages.

Happy Holidays.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Late Great PD James

I once interviewed PD James for a newspaper, back in New York in the 1990s. Two rollicking hours over beverages at her hotel. 

She was great. 

I thought about that interview when I heard she'd died, and about the opportunity I missed with that interview. We spent two hours talking frankly about men and women, much of it controversial at the time. I'd been commissioned for a short interview on a short deadline--and was behind on a book as well--and I wrote a fairly standard praise piece. It should have been a transcribed free-for-all conversation. I wish I still had the audio tapes.

RIP Baroness James. You were a true dame in all the best connotations of the word, a self-made woman who revolutionized crime writing.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"Everyone in the future is white."

This is a line from an episodic novella I wrote for USA Today in 2003, originally inspired by going through old pulp magazines when researching The Last Manly Man.  I found the scifi novella hard, having to write so economically, and didn't re-read it for a long time. Now I like it. It's fun.

I've been thinking about Afrofuturism, which I've been fascinated by since I first read Octavia Butler, and even moreso when I read the first new story about demographic projections of a brown majority in the 2050s.  Add to that a national economy and a culture largely built on African-American brains and backs, and it's clear Afrofuturism is the future reality.  Yet, it's pretty much ignored by the mainstream.  Movies set in the future have predominantly white casts.  The MSM shows us predominantly white inventors, scientists, business people, pundits.   (TV drama and comedy does much better, but still.)

Certain white men know it and fear it, and it manifests everywhere from the comments section of blogs to Ferguson.  These are the white men who are insecure and wedded to their racial and gender identities as White Men, because they've been taught to and given nothing else to build their selves around.  They may learn it at home, in school, in their peer group, from the culture, from women, yes, even from some of us who self-identify as feminist. There's a great Louis episode where he's on a date with a very cool woman, someone who would call herself a feminist, when a bunch of teenage bullies hassle them. Louis tries to reason with them, which doesn't work, so he then backs down.  The woman admits that even though she didn't want him to be a brute and fight, she's turned off by his refusal to fight. I've seen and heard this many times.  Men get mixed messages too, just like we do. They're subject to social conditioning like we are.  Their privilege is often countered by the burdens we put on them.

The GOP knows this too.  Their subtext in the past nine elections has been, "Elect us and we will control minorities and give you sovereignty over female sexuality and female economic power."