Doctor Who fans are aghast, or deliriously happy, that the show's main character is having a sex change. Non Doctor Who fans are saying the same thing they always say when they hear details about the show: "Huh?"

We'll get to the good Doctor--whose name is not Who--in a moment. This is set against the bigger question of whether it's okay to change the race or gender of an established character, always (so far) to a person of color and/or womanliness. In general, if it's another case of political correctness gone rampant (I call it Political Over-Correctness) I'm not a fan.

"The next James Bond needs to be black!"
"Why?"
"So we can have a black James Bond!"
"Okay. Or, you could just create a black secret agent from scratch."
"Yeah, but ... then he wouldn't be James Bond!"

Honestly, it's not something I care enough about to argue over, which sets me apart from most people who care at all. If the TV and movie industry disappeared from the face of the earth right now--which isn't the worst idea ever--I'd just go back to reading books for entertainment. Interestingly, if the race of a character in a book isn't specifically mentioned, most people either don't think about it at all or put their own skin color on the character. It never occurred to me, until I saw the wildly entertaining TV version, that Shadow Moon from American Gods was black. You can call that racism or you can call it being color blind, whatever. People will color anything I say here with their own views anyway.

James Bond is an interesting case when it comes to gender and race swapping, because the franchise has already done it--just not with 007. Bond's CIA buddy Felix Leiter has already turned from white to black--twice, if you include 1983's Never Say Never Again. The famous Moneypenny had a similar transformation, while Bond's boss M became a female ... although it should be noted that M is a title, rather than an individual.

You can complain about it all you want, but for me when it does work, it works spectacularly. Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica was just as much fun and kick-ass as a woman in the reboot, for instance. From the time I was old enough to read comics I knew Nick Fury as a white guy, fighting his way across Europe in World War II. Now I can't imagine him looking like anyone but Samuel L. Jackson.

Which brings us back to Doctor Who, who Samuel L. Jackson could totally play if he wanted to. Are you going to tell him no?

On the question of changing a character's looks just for the sake of changing them, the Doctor is a special case. Sometimes the actor playing a character is changed without explanation, as with the James Bond series. (Wait--who's this new Darrin on Bewitched?) Sometimes it's a reboot, as with Battlestar Galactica, and thus not really the same character. But Doctor Who ...

Okay, in case you don't know, I'd better offer a brief explanation.

The original Doctor Who, back in 1963, was an old guy. He was a grandfatherly type, on a show designed as a fun way to teach kids history. (He's a Time Lord, you see.) But the actor began to have health problems, and it was soon apparent he couldn't continue in the roll. It seemed Doctor Who was doomed to retirement.

But wait, the writers said. We've already established that he's an alien. Suppose this particular species of aliens, when facing death, could cheat their way out by transforming into a new body? Regenerate into, say ... another actor's body?

Yeah, they're all the Doctor


That was twelve Doctor's ago. More, really, but we don't have time to go into that complication. In fact, the Doctor has already been a woman, played (very briefly) by Joanna Lumley in a 1999 charity episode.

So there's no story reason why the Doctor can't be female. In fact, one of his main antagonists, also a Time Lord, already regenerated from male to female. The show has had many strong female and minority characters in the past, and the Doctor's most recent companion was a black lesbian. (Is lesbian still a permitted word? I don't care.)

That's Bill, on the left. Black, prefers women, young, smart, and most importantly fun.
So that's where we are in the Doctor's complicated half century. In the Christmas episode the current Doctor is going to meet the first Doctor--that kind of thing happens, from time to time--and then presumably regenerate into someone who looks a lot like the actress Jodie Whittaker. If they did it to freshen up the show and keep things interesting ... well, why not? I'm not sure it's any more of a shock to me than when uber-young looking Matt Smith regenerated into still another grandfatherly type.

I wasn't thrilled back then ("my" Doctor is David Tennant), but I came to like Peter Capaldi's version. That's why I don't understand the so-called fans who are closing the doors of the TARDIS and going home. I know it's not just mysogeny, as some narrow minded people claim. Not always, anyway.

Honestly, I suspect it's just resistance to change in general, and I get that. Contrary to what some will tell you, sometimes change is bad. But you won't even give the new Doctor a chance? Why not? With that attitude, the show would never have made it out of the sixties.

And we'd have missed a lot of fun.

There's a new Doctor in the TARDIS
 I can't say I had the perfect birthday: Emily worked part of the day and I ran some errands, including getting some maintenance done on the car. However, we had fried chicken and chocolate ice cream, and if that doesn't make for a good day, what does? Also, I introduced Emily to Smoky and The Bandit ... and since she liked it, I guess I'll keep her.

 

We also had the grand-twins over during my days off, watched Lego Batman, cooked hotdogs over a fire, and slept. The only way it could have been better would be if I'd gotten some writing time in, but sometimes the days are just full.

 

Thanks for all your birthday wishes! I'm of an age where birthdays are a mixed blessing: You don't really want to admit to getting older, but it's nice to be thought of.

 

Oh, and the twins got to go swimming. I supervised with the camera.

Yeah, life. It's a thing, ain't it? You're rolling along, way too busy, doing too much of what you don't really want to do and not enough of what you do.

Then, one day, you find out you're going to be a grandparent, for the third time.

Well, that's the way it happened to me, anyway.

In the great tradition of our family birthdays being either in mid-summer or in December, my daughter Jillian is due to give birth around December 11th (Jill--it's Jill now, not Jillian--was born on the 27th). I've known for awhile, although shockingly not as long as Jill did. She posted the news on Facebook in June, but I think a lot of people missed that.

I assume that if it's a boy, the first name will be Mark, and if it's a girl the first name will be the feminine version, which is Marka. But I suppose I should actually talk that over with Jill and Doug, and be satisfied if they merely gave him/her the middle name of Mark or, um, Markma. Or, okay, they could use my middle name Richard, which has the feminine version of Ricarda. Or she could name him Hunter, but then he'd have a cousin also named Hunter, and I'd have two grandkids named Hunter, and you'd never know for sure who's being yelled at. Probably me.

So anyway, Jill's life is essentially over--and she's started a new one. Way different, but in its own way just as fun, more exciting, and crazy expensive. The next generation is well on its way.

Jill practices her baby cuddling skills with the closest nephew, who survived and just turned nine.
  I'm not saying I'm behind on book reviews, but Emily and I listened to American Gods while driving to and from Missouri—in 2015. So, I am saying I’m behind on book reviews, and since this one’s easy I thought I’d knock it out.
Not that Neil Gaiman needs any help from me, especially with American Gods on its way to becoming a TV series. (Wait, the show's first season is over; I'm behind on posting blogs, too.) Better that than a movie—I can’t imagine how they’d fit this story into a two hour or so time frame.
Main character Shadow is released from prison early, on the news that his wife has been killed in an accident. He’s flying home for the funeral when Mr. Wednesday appears next to him during a violent storm, and offers him a job. What’s the job, and how does Wednesday know so much about Shadow? That’s just the beginning of the mystery, and as close to normal as this book ever gets.
The grieving Shadow just wants to be left alone, but soon finds himself in a war pitting old gods against new gods as he wanders across the American Midwest, meeting every sort of odd character, human and otherwise. And that’s about as close as I can come to describing this mind-twisting novel in ten thousand words or less.
Although I like listening to podcasts and audio non-fiction, I haven’t had good experiences with fiction on audiobook. That changed with American Gods, which is narrated (performed?) by George Guidall. At least, my version was; I've since learned that there's at least on other audio version. Thanks to Guidall I can’t imagine Wednesday being played by anyone but Anthony Hopkins (well, I can now), but he does a great job with all the voices, as well as Gaiman’s wonderful narration.
This audio addition of American Gods is, I assume, unabridged, and so seemed to take forever. That’s a compliment. It was like an endless bowl of ice cream that you never get tired of. In fact, this novel is the reason why I usually give books I really like a four out of five rating. That way there’s room when the occasional perfect reading—well, listening—experience arrives. This is it: Five out of five.
https://www.amazon.com/American-Gods-Low-Price-MP3/dp/0062314297

(By the way, the series is just as mind blowing. Instead of trying to shove all this story and characters into one movie, there's actually room to expand it a bit. I couldn't imagine how they could turn American Gods into a TV series either, but they did it, and it's a work of surreal genius.)



It was a busy week, but I was able to get the 4H Creative Writing projects in just under the wire. Don't let anyone tell you judging is easy, especially in an area that can be so subjective. If I was a sports judge, I suppose I'd rather be in track and field rather than figure skating, for instance.

What makes it harder is that there are three categories: beginner, intermediate, and why the heck wasn't I that good in high school? You can't judge them by the same standards; it would be like failing a fourth grader because he couldn't do advanced trigonometry, which is maybe a bad example because I never could do advanced trigonometry. I don't even know what it is. I'm still trying to figure out what x equals.

My problem is that I tend to go too easy, out of empathy for how I might have reacted to a harsh comment at that age. (Hint: I had very low self esteem.) But in trying to balance that, I worry about being too hard on the writers. They need to know if they have weak areas to be worked on, but they don't need me turning into that jerk chef on those cooking shows. So I try to be--I don't know--gentle, but guiding. All this stressing myself out is also why I struggle to do book reviews.

In any case, I've never seen a single 4H entry that didn't show potential for great works to come. That's exactly the kind of thing the world needs: imagination, industry, interest, and literacy. Which comes awfully close to the 4H motto of head, hands, heart, and health.

ozma914: mustache Firefly (mustache)
( Jul. 2nd, 2017 09:45 am)

I'm taking a little break from the internet for a week or so (well, to an extent), because I've got 4H entries to judge. To many people I suppose that means judging animals, but 4H also has a creative writing challenge; it turns out they needed an experienced, knowledgeable, creative writer to judge the entries. But they couldn't find one, so for the last few years they've used me.

These are young writers in different categories, ranging from elementary to high school. Some of them are much better than I was at their age ... and some are as good as I am now, which is fine except I have decades of experience over them. It's nice to know there are still young people who take writing seriously!

Hey, the interview with me is up at KPC News!

This is from the Albion New Era. KPC owns many of the newspapers in the area, but I don't know how many others this will be in, if any. However, the link to the interview online is here:

http://kpcnews.com/news/latest/new_era/article_f2535b22-10e0-5e29-bec7-79fbc7441c10.html

There you can see a color version of the sweater that Emily hates so much, which means I hate it too and does anyone want a free sweater?
ozma914: (Dorothy and the Wizard)
( Jun. 30th, 2017 11:27 am)

Stop! I know how much I'd like people not to show me photos of spiders, so I'm begging you to go no further if you hate photos of snakes.

No, no -- this is just the rabbit that lives in our back yard and tortures our dog. Last chance before reaching snakes. 

 

 

'Cause here are some photos of snakes. Specifically, to remind you warm weather is not all good, here are photos of snakes I stumbled upon (almost literally) at Pokagon State Park near Angola. I should add that, considering how much time I've spent up there the last few summers, seeing only two is actually a pretty good average for you snake haters.

 

This little fella really wasn't all that little. He was on a walkway over a swampy area last year, and as I approached he didn't move. So I took a photo and got closer, and he still didn't move. So I took this photo and got a little closer, and he still didn't move. So I went back the way I came. I figure it's his neighborhood way more than it's mine.

 

 

This little guy really was kind of little. I suspect he was a teenager, as teenagers sometimes like to pull pranks. In this case, our friend the garter snake staked out a place in the middle of that little concrete pad right in front of an outhouse door. So if you're a human going to the bathroom, you have to go past a little wooden wall, turn a sharp corner, and BOO!

Oddly enough, he didn't really scare me, but he did almost get stepped on, which would have taught him a lesson in how pranks can backfire. I assure you, if it had been a spider a third of that size I'd have left a Mark-shaped hole in the wall, in whichever direction I happened to be pointed at the time.

I'll see if I can get you some flower photos next time.

I thought this title was nicely official sounding and also just alliterative enough.

Anyway, the longest book signing in history, featuring two somewhat introverted people who are a bit averse to crowds and noise going to a festival, is over. By now you've all seen a photo of either me or Emily at the display table, which Emily laid out after telling me to go do something else. But here's a photo of the table with Emily and a guest who stopped by: My father, Delbert. They're munching on caramel corn at this moment, which we'll talk more about later.

 

 

The first surprise was when we were setting up on vendor's row, and I discovered my cousin Earl has a booth right next to us. (I bought some antique coins from him.) In this photo that's his place on the left.

 

 

Then it turned out one of the people on the other side from us was a woman I used to work with in the emergency services. Unfortunately for me, among other things they were selling some truly yummy chocolatey stuff. Then the Noble County Gas and Steam Association set up across from us and started making caramel corn ... from scratch, in an actual kettle.

 

 

 Is this in any way fair to a guy who needs to make dollars, not gain pounds? Don't even get me started on the bacon, lettuce, and deep fried green tomato sandwiches they were selling down the way.

We were within sight of the stage, and over a three day period were treated to, among other things, bluegrass, 80s glam rock, country, rap, and the kiddie queen and king contest. Below is a long distance photo of Cougar Hunters, who I take it were hunting not large cats but older women.

 

 

 There was also a festival going on, and every once in awhile I got to walk around and take a look, although of course not so much at the busy times.

 

 Car show, too. Maybe I'll do more of a post on that later.

 

So, how did we do book sale-wise? Well, the first two days were kind of a disappointment, by which I mean a substantial disappointment. Still, by the end of the second day we broke even on our one-time expenses. By the middle of the third day we'd made up what we spent on other things, like the canopy and a folding table of our very own. 

If it had been a typical three or four hour book signing, I'd be crowing about the sales we made. Spread out over three days it wasn't so spectacular, but we did well Saturday afternoon and evening. We also got some bites--gave away business cars and bookmarks to people who, hopefully, will go on the website, or Amazon, or B&N, and make some purchases. That's one of the reasons we do public appearances anyway: to get the word out. I also got to do a blurb on the local radio station.

The one thing I've found strange is that so far we have't sold all that many copies of Radio Red -- the newest release. But that will come.

 Jeez, three days before the author appearance in Avilla. We got a new shipment of bookmarks to give away, and new business cards, both designed by Emily ... also a new folding table, and a new canopy, not designed by Emily ...

 

Oh, and we have books. It's very important, when trying to sell books, that you have books to sell.

 

But I always feel nervous and unprepared before these things. Mind you, we've done at least a few every year, since that first one in the summer of 2011. Well over a dozen at this point.

 

My first book signing ... which was easier to set up, because I only had one book to sell. Now I have nine!

One of my favorite places to have an author appearance was the Noble Art Gallery (which, come to think of it, is half a block from where we set up for the first one). It's inside, has all that art, there's a sense of history, and a big window with a view of the Noble County Courthouse. But I've been there three times now, and the most recent time last year was poorly attended; I suppose I went to the well too often. Still, they're the only brick and mortar location with copies of our books for sale when I'm not there.

 

You could say my easiest author appearance was earlier this month, at the Albion Fire Department's annual fish fry. They sold three copies of Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights, even though I wasn't even there! But it wasn't really an author appearance, as I didn't appear, and it wasn't a book signing, since I didn't sign them. It's possible at this point that there are more signed books out there then there are unsigned ones, so maybe the latter are worth more.

 

Adding to my nervousness is that most of our appearances have been in Albion, although we've also shown up in Kendallville, Auburn, and Cromwell. Our trip to the Avilla Freedom Festival will be my first time in that town, so there's an air of uncertainty. Does anyone in Avilla know me, besides some emergency services people and the crew at the 4 County Mall? We'll see.

 

Meanwhile there's always worry about the weather, and getting set up properly, and finding the nearest bathroom. (Hey, I'm no spring chicken. And even spring chickens have to pee from time to time.)

 

Will our new awning get blown away in a windstorm? Will people laugh at me for taking books to a street fair? Will I sell zero books, and end up taking a loss? (It's happened before.) Will they have elephant ears? Will I get powdered sugar all over my inventory?

 

Stay tuned.

Emily and I helped celebrate Hunter and Brayden's 9th birthday Friday with a pool party, which is pretty much the only way to do an outdoor kid's birthday party in June.

 

That's Hunter on top and Brayden on the bottom, despite the fact that Brayden is taller (for the moment).

 

Did I mention the pool part?

 

When you're about to turn nine, opening presents is a group activity. There were adults there too, but our group activity was hamburgers and German potato salad.

 

 

It's always better with ... Batman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bonus video! If it works.

 

Emily and I gave them a telescope -- always good to keep your eyes on the stars.

Here's the news release I sent out earlier this month for our appearance at the Avilla Freedom Festival. It might be a good template for other authors to use, if you get set up for a book signing of your own. Or ... it may not be, since I came up with this myself. I have questionable confidence in my self-promotion ability. As usual, if you should know the news director for a major TV network, feel free to pass this along.



News Release

Local Author to Appear at Avilla Freedom Festival


            It might be an unusual location for an author appearance, but a local writer will be one of the venders at the Avilla Freedom Festival this year.
 
Mark R. Hunter of Albion and his wife Emily, who has co-written and edited some of his works, will be at the Festival along with other various venders, June 22-24. He calls it the “longest book signing ever”: They’ll be selling their works from 4-9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and from 9 a.m. until dusk on Saturday of that week.
 
The Hunters have nine printed works, in addition to three others that are available as e-books only. Their most recent written together was last year’s Hoosier Hysterical: How the West Became the Midwest Without Moving at All, a humorous take on Indiana history. More recently Torrid Books published Mark R. Hunter’s romantic comedy novel, Radio Red. Set in Michigan, it’s his first published work not connected in some way to Indiana.
 
Together the Hunters specialize in not specializing, as their books cover several genres. Mark Hunter’s solo works are romantic comedies and a short story collection; he and Emily worked together on books covering history, humor, and young adult fiction. Together they’ll have copies of nine books available at the Avilla Freedom Festival, at prices discounted for the event.
 
The Avilla Freedom Festival’s website is: http://www.avillafreedomfestival.com/
 
More information about the authors can be found at www.markrhunter.com, or on Amazon at amazon.com/Mark-R-Hunter/e/B0058CL6OO.
 
 
 
 
Mark R Hunter can also be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MarkRHunter/, and on Twitter at @MarkRHunter 
 


Okay, let's get this out of the way: I don't care if Wonder Woman, the character, is a feminist icon. Nor do I care if Wonder Woman, the movie, is flying an invisible plane through the glass ceiling, or breaking any ground whatsoever. I just want to watch a good movie.

(Although she is, and it does. And I did.)

Honestly I'm starting to wonder--you might brace yourself for this--if the day will come when the physically strong, kick-ass woman character will become a tired, cliched trope that makes people yawn. Hasn't happened to me yet. But my daughter watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the generation before me had Emma Peel, and I watched, well, Wonder Woman, who hit TV in her own series when I was thirteen. You bet I watched that show. I mean, as a comic book fan.

(Now that I think about it, my first literary hero was Dorothy Gale, Princess of Oz, who could be something of an action hero herself.)

Still, to paraphrase Buffy creator Joss Whedon, I suppose the reason we keep getting awesome female heroes is because people are still asking why we don't have them. And that ties right in with why I go to the movies, because Wonder Woman, while not the overwhelmingly perfect superhero movie some claim, is indeed awesome--largely because of one particular Gal.

The various incarnation of Princess Diana.
Gal Gardot is Diana, Princess of--you know, come to think of it, she's never called Wonder Woman at any point in the movie. The flick starts with Diana in modern times, receiving (by courier from Wayne Enterprises) a photo that sends her mind back to her childhood among the Amazons, on an island with no men. Sure, when you're a kid having no one of the opposite sex around is a paradise ...

Diana's mother, Queen Hippolyta, doesn't want her to train to be a warrior, as every other woman there does. She thinks something very bad will happen if the island's only child develops her ability. Sure enough, just when the grown up Diana has reached the peak of her training, an airplane falls out of the sky and delivers *gasp* a man to the island.

Luckily Diana somehow knows what a man is--that saved some awkward exposition.

The pilot is America spy Steve Trevor, (Chris Pine), who's being pursued by German soldiers. Turns out the rest of the world is mired in World War I, and Steve holds intel on a new German weapon that might cost tens of thousands more lives. Diana is convinced the war is the work of Ares, the god of war, who the Amazons have been training all along to someday face. Clearly, all the world is waiting for her.

Wonder Woman originated during World War II, and setting the movie further back in time was the first smart idea of the filmmakers. Let's see: A red, white, and blue costumed hero, rather naive but eager and determined, gathering a band of misfit commandos to take on a German army with secret weapons during the second World War? Surely no one would draw any comparisons to Captain America.

Their next bright idea was the cast.

What a Gal!

With Batman vs. Superman, the naysayers were already out, complaining Gal Gadot was too scrawny to be a proper Wonder Woman. Did they learn nothing from the anti-Michael Keaton outcry with Batman? No? Oh. Well, just as Christopher Reeve owned Superman, Gal Gadot has now taken over from Lynda Carter as the perfect Wonder Woman. Sorry, it's true, and I love Lynda Carter.

Chris Pine is his usual charming action hero self, often reduced to stupified stammering by this innocent warrior who doesn't seem to understand the whole traditional woman thing. The rest of the cast is first rate, especially Connie Nielsen as the Amazon Queen who just doesn't want to give her daughter over to the world. I especially liked the band of misfits Steve assembled for their behind the lines mission. Also of note is David Thewlis (currently menacing everyone on Fargo) as a British military leader trying to broker a peace treaty between the warring nations.

 While this doesn't rank as my favorite superhero movie (although it's well into my top ten), Wonder Woman is a great movie period--of any genre, or at least of any kind of action flick. The stakes are high, the emotions are great, the effects first rate. Really the only complaint I have is that if the next Wonder Woman movie is set in the present, we won't be able to see any of the sparkling supporting cast (who would be well into their second century by now). Maybe we should have them all frozen at the North Pole for several decades? That's never been done.

My score:

Entertainment Value: 4 M&M's, the good brown ones. I'm getting a little worried about this series of first rate movies I've been seeing the past couple of years. Granted that Wonder Woman is even more first rate than many of the others, but sooner or later I'll get hit with a disappointment.

Oscar Potential: 3 M&M's. It's worthy of a best picture nomination but, being based on a comic book, it'll be a supporting characters cold day in the North Pole before it gets one.
 R.I.P. Adam West

 

The death of Adam West immediately resurrected the old argument: Who's your favorite Batman?

It's ironic that Roger Moore passed away so close to the same time: His death, of course, caused a chorus of favorite James Bond arguments. They both held similar positions in their perspective portrayals: They were the lighter, more colorful ones who weren't afraid to poke a little fun at their genres.

 

That being the case--especially with West--the argument becomes apples and oranges. What, I can't have both? A big navel orange, followed by a nice Red Delicious? Comparing Adam West to, say, Christian Bale is like comparing ... hm. Oh, I know: Like comparing "Battlestar Galactica" to "Battlestar Galactica". Love or hate the reboot, it just wasn't the same show as the original.

 

I've probably just started arguments that would rival fights among British football fans, but there you go. 

 

 

"Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb." -- Batman

 

Look at the above quote, and picture Michael Keaton's Batman saying that. Look at the photo, and imagine Christian Bale's Batman cavorting with a purple Batgirl or a bright red and yellow Robin. Ain't gonna happen. For that matter, imagine Ben Affleck making fun of his Batman on an episode of Family Guy. (Clooney would probably do it.)

 

My point is, you can like them both, or all, even Val Kilmer if you want. If you're a sports fan, the analogy is that you can like both the Cubs and the Bears: They're both in the same city, but they're two different animals.

 

So embrace and remember the fun that was Adam West. We should all be so lucky as to bring that much joy to such a wide audience.

While walking back to the Spring Shelter at Pokagon State Park, I encountered my wife with a fella named Fred. Good thing too, because I would have made a wrong turn if she hadn't pointed the way, and the right way was still a half mile hike. Fred is the saddle barn's only mule:




That photo posted on Instagram at the time, but for some reason Blogger has never updated its app, and it usually crashes when I try to post from my phone (although a previous post I thought didn't go actually posted twice).

I'd planned to work out of the car while she was on the job (I'm revising Beowulf: In Harm's Way). But it was a beautiful day, so I decided to walk the to the Spring Shelter even though I'd already hiked almost four miles earlier in the day. It's in a wooded area along the saddle trail and usually quiet, except for the people who go there with empty containers, for the spring water. They've quite literally piped it right out of the ground.



Since I was carrying a leather case with my laptop, iPad, and my ancient iPod, I checked the weather forecast first: No rain predicted. Then I looked at the weather radar: No rain in the region. So I got there, laid my stuff out, and was engrossed in revisions about an hour later when big drops started falling on the keyboard

Just a brief shower to remind me I'm not in charge. And, after all, the Spring Shelter includes ... wait for it ... a shelter. At least I could see the clouds that were the source of my torment; and when I checked the radar, sure enough, there were the showers popping up. Not like last week, where it started raining on my while I mowed the lawn -- despite the fact that there wasn't a single cloud overhead.



Just goes to show, there's no such thing as a perfect writing spot.
 Would everyone please do me a favor and share the news about our upcoming author appearance at the Avilla Freedom Festival, June 22-24? It's especially important because, instead of a single afternoon or evening, it's three long days--at a location where passers-by might not be looking for books. In other words, we really need people to stop by! The Facebook event page is here, if you'd like to check it out and pass it on:
 
https://www.facebook.com/events/1531232943584860
 
Granted that we'll be selling at bargain prices, but even if you're not buying it would be great to see you. Pick up one of our new bookmarks, talk or ask questions about writing, bring us a lemon shakeup, or just keep us company!
 
And if you ask us about the book we've got planned to come out later this year ... we might just tell you.

The Albion Fire Department's annual fish fry -- which happens annually -- will be Wednesday, June 7th, during the Chain O' Lakes Festival. We're also having tenderloin again this year, for those of you inclined, although I can't imagine why you'd want to pass on the breaded fish. It's all you can eat, and you can't beat that unless you're a diet doctor.

I can't be there (I'll be helping to bread the fish earlier in the day, and it's one of those scheduling things where I can't do both). However, they tell me copies of Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century Or So With The Albion Fire Department will be on sale at the fish fry, for $9.95. That's our book about the history of the fire department: Proceeds from book sales, as with the fish fry itself, go to the Albion Fire Department's equipment and training fund.

 So come and support your local emergency volunteers! It's from 5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the Albion Fire Station, 210 Fire Station Drive, on the east end of town.  (It's traditional, when a town has a Fire Station Drive, to build the fire station there.) Price for adults is $10, for children $6, with children 5 and under eating free.

 

Emily and I selling pre-orders of Smoky Days at the fish fry just before its publication.

 

Why we do it: Albion firefighters attack a training fire. I'm particularly proud of this photo, because I didn't die taking it.

They cleaned up the beach at Chain O' Lakes State Park, all ready for the big holiday weekend ...

And now the beach is gone.

And more rain is expected tonight.

Be very careful driving--there was lowland flooding last night, and there's going to be more tonight across local roads, so slow way down, watch out, and don't go into standing water. Remember this rule: Stalling out your car is no fun, and drowning is even less fun. I've heard.

I've not planned my funeral. I'm not the Queen. A procession through the streets of Stockwell would be nice, I suppose. But when I go, I'd just like everyone to say: "He lived longer than anyone I knew.". -- Roger Moore

 

 

The death of the third James Bond naturally brings up that question fans have debated for decades: Who was the best Bond? (Roger Moore was actually the fourth on-screen Bond--the first, Barry Nelson for an American TV Movie, might be so changed from the original as to not count.)

 

George Lazenby is generally considered the second Bond for his one and only appearance in 1969, but that would be wrong, kind of. David Niven played Bond in a 1967 spoof of Casino Royale. To confuse matters further, in 1964 James Bond was a character on a comedy sketch show, Mainly Millicent. In that case, a full nine years before Roger Moore took over the part in the movies, James Bond was played by ... Roger Moore.

 

"Maybe someday they'll give me this part in a movie."

 

 

 

 

So you see, the question of how many actors assumed the role of James Bond is complicated, even if you don't include Bob Simmons -- a stuntman who played Bond in the opening "through the gun barrel" sequence in Dr. No.

 

For me the question of who was the best Bond is very complicated indeed: The most realistic Bond seems to be Daniel Craig, the best Sean Connery, and my favorite Roger Moore. (My next favorite after Connery and Moore would be Pierce Brosnan, who I predicted would someday play Bond the moment I first saw him on Remington Steele.)

 

Daniel Craig seemed most like the original Bond, the one from Ian Fleming's books. Plus, his character gets beat up and wounded inside and out, is darker, and generally as close to real life as Bond ever got. That's why he doesn't make my favorites list--not because he or his movies were bad, but because I watch spy movies for escapism and fun, not real life.

 

Sean Connery was just ... Sean Connery. He's on a gold medal stand, all by himself, not just for originating the movie roll but for doing it with such style. You can believe he's a cold blooded killer, but you can also believe he's having some fun with the role. No one else ever quite matched him. (In my opinion. And no, I'm not going to get into a fight about it, because hey--it's movies.)

 

Then Moore came along, and instantly realized the inherent silliness of the whole thing ... so he played it with tongue in cheek, which enraged many fans.

 

 

Sean's jokes come from left field, and I let people know a joke was coming. I basically said "I'm have a good time doing this, and I hope you're having a good time watching me have a good time.". -- Roger Moore

 

 

The first Bond movie I saw was Moore's first, Live and Let Die. You always remember your first. Everything that meant Bond to me was there: The gadgets, Q,  the over the top villains, the jokes, the girls, the chases. The boat chase in that movie stands up to this day, as does the opening song (the first in a Bond movie not sung by a woman).

 

Irony: Roger Moore hated guns.

 

 

To me, the Bond situations are so ridiculous, so outrageous. I mean, this man is supposed to be a spy and yet, everybody knows he's a spy. Every bartender in the world offers him martinis that are shaken, not stirred. What kind of serious spy is recognized everywhere he goes? It's outrageous. So you have to treat the humor outrageously as well. My personality is entirely different than previous Bonds. I'm not that cold-blooded killer type. Which is why I play it mostly for laughs. -- Roger Moore

 

 

And there you have it, the reason why I can have more than one favorite James Bond. They weren't playing the same character, not really. Conner, Moore, Craig ... they're playing characters with the same name, but from different worlds. You don't have to debate: Just enjoy their work, and if you don't enjoy it--turn it off.

 

 

When I was a young actor at RADA, Noël Coward was in the audience one night. He said to me after the play, "Young man, with your devastating good looks and your disastrous lack of talent, you should take any job ever offered you. In the event that you're offered two jobs simultaneously, take the one that offers the most money." Here I am. -- Roger Moore

 

 

SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
Weathering Indiana Festivals

In one of my books I included a photo of the Onion Days Festival, in Wolf Lake, Indiana. Never mind that it’s called Onion Days—that’s another story—but the photo was taken in the early 1900s, over a century ago.

Hey, I wrote the book; I never said I took the picture.

There are also photos in Albion of what would one day become the Chain O’ Lakes Festival. Those pictures were taken some fifty or sixty years before there was a Chain O’ Lakes State Park … so if the street fair had been called that at the time it would be some pretty amazing precognition.

While researching local history I was shown many photos of fairs, parades, and other gatherings from back a century or so: A late 1800s fair in downtown Kendallville, a 1914 wedding in the middle of Albion’s main intersection … to this day we’re still doing a lot of those same outdoor gatherings. (I assume they shut down traffic for that wedding, but maybe they had to use a team of wild horses to drag the groom in.) )
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