Category Archives: writing

Dear Tom (and Ray), I met prejudice/ignorance today.

Loess Hills

Loess Hills.

I know I haven’t posted in a long time. Sorry. Been insanely busy re the upcoming move to Montana. But I have to say something about what happened today, and I’m including Ray because he’s a Midwesterner. Upper Midwest, but that’s okay.

I was chatting with this guy who had a real cute dog, a Scottie. I love Scotties, attitude and all. They are like little bearded hairy men. (Oh, by the way, when big ol’ Jake goes to puppy camp he’s greeted with, “Hello Sunshine!” He’s a happy camper!)

Anyways… I was chatting with this guy. He was here in Napa enjoying the sunshine. He’d driven down from Portland because he wanted a break from all the rain- which we happen to be having for a minute. Our weather has been beautiful.

We discussed the rain. We discussed my recent stop at PDX, landing in the midst of a horrific downpour. If you get off one of the little planes you have to walk through the downpour to get to the terminal. We were all soaked.

I mentioned my parents. Told him that they’d retired to Southern Oregon.

He asked, “Oh, did they move from California?”

I answered, “No, they moved from Iowa. We’re all from Iowa, I’m not a native Californian.” (‘Cuz yeah, I’m proud as heckfire to be from Iowa.)

He said, “Oh. Iowa. Bunch of illiterate evangelicals there.”

And I was like… “Um, what?”

He said, “Yeah, everyone is stupid religious. Nothing there but cornfields and ignorant racist white farmers.”

I asked, “Have you been to Iowa?”

He shrugged. He said, “I’ve read about it.”

Hey Tom, and Ray, I wanted to punch him in the face.

This is what I deal with on the West Coast. People who think they know the Midwest even though they’ve never been farther east than Vegas (or maybe they’ve flown to NYC). People like this dude, who was about as white as a slice of Wonderbread, who think everyone in the Midwest is a toothless dumbass church-goin’ snake-handling redneck filled with hate and vitriol; that we’re uneducated hicks who stupidly refuse to accept the superiority of the West Coast elites who should be in charge of EVERYTHING.

I don’t care if he had a nice dog. I wanted to kick the living shit out of him.

But I didn’t. I said, “You know nothing about Iowa. Have a safe drive back to Portland.” And I walked away.

Tom, you would have been proud of me.

XOXO! Julia

The Loess Hills: I grew up here, played here. My ancestors lived and died here.

Did I mention the University of Iowa Writers Workshop???

Besides, Iowa is home to one of the best bugs in the world – Fireflies! If you watch the video you’ll discover that we’re not all toothless yahoos.

 

Dear Tom, tourists bug the hell outta me.

It’s like… You’re slamming on your brakes in the middle of the road because???

Or… You’re stepping off the curb in front of my moving car because???

Or… You’re swinging open your car door on this narrow busy main street because???

Tourists. Learn to drive. Learn to park. Learn how and where to cross the street safely. Put down your damn cell phone.

I try to be patient. I do. But by the fifth or sixth example of Darwin-Award-type behavior in a single trip to the grocery store I’m about fixin’ to assist you in your quest to win that award. 🙂

I promised Ray a post.

Now that I’m actually mobile and engaged in life once again I have many, I promise!

This is the merely the first!

Now… I am off to make certain I’m recording CBS Sports and the 4th night of the PBR World Championships. Ride ’em, J.B. Mauney!

Dear Tom, plug your ears. I’m about to go all pink on your ass..

As colors go, pink is okay. In general it’s considered a happy celebratory color. Think pink roses- either real live fragrant pink roses or pink sugar roses on a birthday cake. Right? Am I right? Both are happy and celebratory. (And of course there are the pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness so pink has its practical uses.)

pink birthday cake

And what is more lovely and inspiring than a radiant pink sunrise? Other than a radiant pink sunset, I mean?

pink sunset

But pink is not my favorite color. Not by a long shot. In fact, as colors go, it’s near the bottom of my list. Does that mean those of you who LOVE pink should feel bad or ashamed or in any way embarrassed about LOVING pink?

Of course not. As my grandmother used to say~ “Don’t be silly.”

Embrace your pinkness!

There are reasons why I am not all that fond of pink. Reasons that are unique to me, reasons I feel are quite legitimate. Let me explain:

I enjoy the scent of a pink rose. A glowing pink sunset or sunrise. I appreciate the way a simple pink sundress looks on some women. I even like a pale pink button down on some guys. Pink on a man can be very sexy.

pink shirt

But I hate pink on me. For one thing, it contrasts (in a bad way) with my auburn hair. For another it contrasts (in a very unflattering way) with my dark skin. And then, of course, there was the time my baby sister threw up pink Nestle’s Quik all over me while we were driving through the middle of Nebraska and there was no bathroom in sight. (Still one of my family’s favorite laugh out loud vacation stories.)

pink nestle's quik

And, oh, come to think of it, there was that other time my Aunt Jean made me drink an entire bottle of Pepto for a stomach ache and I proceeded to vomit pink stuff for hours…

pink pepto

Fine, I admit it. I hate pink. I won’t wear anything pink. I won’t eat anything pink. I won’t even wear a pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness month. I make my husband wear it. I. Hate. Pink.

Now, here’s the question. Does my dislike of pink have a thing to do with you?

No. My feelings regarding the color pink have absolutely nothing to do with you. You are free to feel anyway you want to feel about the color pink.

My dislike of pink is not cause for offense.

I love Jane Eyre, yet I was bored to tears by Pride and Prejudice. Many of my friends are Jane Austin fanatics, but they can’t stand the Gothic Bronte sisters. Does that bother me? Insult me? Hurt my feelings?

Jane Eyre

No.

That’s all’s I’m sayin’.

XOXO! Julia

Dear Tom, I don’t see the point…

2015 has been exhausting, both for me, personally, and for our nation and our world. I’m plumb tuckered out.

I’m tired of blogging – an exercise which I suspect means little these days.

I’m tired of the publishing wars. Legacy publishing versus indie publishing versus far too many authors I know who are now poor as church mice, homeless even- authors who once upon a time, as in three or four years ago, made bundles of money.

Now me, I’ve never made bundles so I’ve never spent bundles. As they say– don’t give up the day job. Oh, a couple years ago, 2010-1013, the world was a much different (and more hopeful) place. I made a bunch. I sold lots of books. The life of writing was good and I felt inspired to write more and more and more.

These days, not so much. In fact, I find myself less and less interested in engaging the market, i.e., readers, and I have little interest in promotion. To be honest, I find it hard to muster the energy. Attempts to engage, attempts to promote, don’t sell books anyway. So engagement, just like blogging, is another exercise in futility.

But what about that pot of gold, you ask? What about that lightening strike? The newly discovered land? Well, I ain’t holding my breath. Never have.

You know, I’ve read those books – the strike it rich quick books – those books that have caught fire, those six-figure signings, and except for the very first book in the Hunger Games series, those six-figure books bored me to tears. Whatever it was about those books that caught fire did not ignite the fires within me. Couldn’t even make it through the first five pages of a couple of them.

BORING…

More and more I find myself buying nonfiction and re-reading my old favorites in the fiction genre.

But do I plan to quit altogether? Quit writing? Huh. Good question. Maybe. I’m working on a short story as we speak. I have a re-release scheduled for February or March. I have a number of books in the queue. Maybe I’ll finish them, maybe I won’t.

Regardless, I am convinced I’ll be appreciated after I’m dead. My stuff is good. Someday someone will realize it.

In the meantime:

I’m busy with family and friends. I’m traveling. I’ve got bushels and bushels of lemons to juice for lemon curd. I have to figure out how to halter break my steer, Hank. All in all, while my appreciation and affection for the beauty in life continues to grow, my attachment to the publishing world diminishes.

And I’m okay with that.

I miss you. 2015 was a sucky year for you and your family. They lost you. I lost you, my dear dear friend.

I look forward to 2016. The number fifteen has always bothered me in any case. I think it’s a bad luck number. 2015 has been proof of that for so many people.

Anyway, I’m tired– was up the entire night with a sick dog. No, not a kid although I did have a couple kids home– a sick dog. When I say the entire night I mean exactly that, the entire night. Oscar slept through the whole thing. But then that’s typical for Oscar. He sleeps the sleep of the dead. I wake if a neighbor three doors down drops a pin. Onto plush carpet.

The best blog around? The one worth reading? Marylin’s – Things I Want to Tell My Mother. Her recent post is frame-worthy: The Gift of Words. Go read it, you’ll love it.

All right, Tom, maybe I’ll re-watch the genius Big Bang episode (The Opening Night Excitation) and go to bed!

I love you, Tom. Here’s to the approaching New Year.

XOXO! Julia

 

 

#OrphanBlack — The sublime and the ridiculous.

It happened with TWD. It happened to Vikings. It’s happening over at GOT. Now Orphan Black has succumbed to the same eating itself from the inside prion disease— It’s come down with a bad case of the dreaded I can no longer suspend disbelief and enough already with the gratuitous violence.

Hear me out. Be patient. I’m making an effort to shape my many random thoughts into a coherent whole.

Orphan Black’s first season was to die for. It was astonishingly good. It was so good I am still of the opinion it was the best thing that’s ever existed in the world of television. Orphan Black, was, in a word, sublime.

Season two was less good. There were some low lows, as in the throwaway episode involving Tony, the transgender clone (who might be useful right about now even though he reminded me far too much of Sarah sporting a glued-on sparse beard and some fake junk in the shorts). Nevertheless, Season two had its redeeming moments, its highs, if you will, in particular the evolution of the Hendrix family, and the bittersweet tragicomic golden respite of a finale.

Season three has sorely tested my resolve.

Ask me why.

Why?

Spoiler alert! If you haven’t yet watched Episode 9, Insolvent Phantom of Tomorrow, be warned. I will be discussing Episode 9 as well as events from previous episodes.

twins

Let us talk twins. Monoamniotic twins are identical twins who share the same amniotic sac within the uterus. Typically they share a single placenta and a single umbilical cord. This is a serious situation that can result in the death of one or both babies. This is rare. In most cases even identical twins have separate amniotic sacs. Fraternal twins have separate amniotic sacs. Fraternal twins develop from two eggs. Identical twins develop from one egg which splits into two zygotes.

Therefore, dear writers of Orphan Black, before I move on to the other issues let me say this– while I realize the show is science fiction, it remained, more or less, within the realm of the possible. And that is critical for good science fiction, that it remain within the realm of the possible not matter how impossible.

However, this fantastic tale, that Siobahn’s mother absorbed her male (fraternal) twin has crossed a bridge too far.

Two reasons: A. If a fraternal twin, or a twin in a separate amniotic sac, is absorbed by anyone, it is absorbed by the mother and it would not change her chromosomal make up. B. A fraternal male twin would not have shared an amniotic sac with his sister in the first place.

A more believable scenario, albeit not commonplace, would have been to claim Siobahn’s mother is a rare and genetically precious true hermaphrodite. A true human hermaphrodite is made of both XX and XY chromosomes. Viola! Problem solved! (Or even more exciting, declare she is a sequential hermaphrodite – a child born one sex who can later become another. Like a fish or a snail.) Oh, and that kitchen? It was the same kitchen used in the Professor Duncan scenes.

But even more disturbing is the fact that the writers decided to make Siobahn’s mother our source material, a move which calls into question Siobahn’s role in, well, in everything.

I’m not a happy camper.

The series has overloaded the proverbial Clone Car this season.

clown car

Who has a bathtub in her living room and why does it seem to move from place to place?

Once upon a time Cosima made crazy science. Now she mopes around like a lovesick 1960’s adolescent pining after Ricky Nelson while Scott is forced to do the heavy lifting. Don’t get me wrong, I love Scott and I especially love his interactions with Cosima, but if anyone has a prion disease of the brain, it’s Cosima. If anyone is in urgent need of one of Dr. Coady’s stress tests, it’s Cosima. Her brain has been on hiatus all season long.

Why did Delphine break up with her in the first place? I never understood the justification. I decided it was nothing more than a plot device. Had to be. What better way to keep an eye on your subject than as her lover?

Why does Sarah insist upon playing amateur sleuth, aka, Nancy Drew, without the roadster? Backup, girl… and that doesn’t include Felix who thinks backup means standing in the middle of the street in full view of every bad guy from Castor to Pollux to Dyad to the Prolethians to the… Enough of this Sarah stands alone trope. The cheese is so overripe it stinks to high heaven. Sarah gets herself into one scrape after another. Not funny scrapes. This is serious business, fending off people determined to kill you, yet you keep doing it. The following is attributed to Albert Einstein: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. (Except he probably didn’t really say it. Appropriate quote all the same.)

art

How about you give Art a call once in a while? I love the Art/Sarah/Beth chemistry. The show is missing it. The show suffers from a distinct lack of Art.

How did Gracie learn about The Island of Dr. Moreau? For the life of me I cannot recall a single scene when Gracie saw the book, overheard a conversation about the book, knew the book existed… Before the clones decided to go all in on this only Kira, Cosima, and Scott knew about the existence of the book. Then I believe Sarah was informed about the book, and last but not least, Rachel discovered Scott had the book. It was only later, after Scott was threatened and the book stolen that Gracie might have had the opportunity to learn of the book and its significance. Therefore Gracie as traitor makes no sense.

Mark

And by the way, what a terrible misuse of Mark. A far better and more interesting use of the Mark character would have been to align him with Project Leda.

The Death of Paul. Was this really necessary? Yeah, sure, you gave him a heroic sendoff. Whoop-dee-doo. The Paul character morphed into a much more complicated, if slightly less appealing, character than he was in the beginning, while Sarah’s other love interest, Cal, remains a cypher. Dear writers, the show would be better if you’d kept Paul in the mix instead of blowing him to pieces. Besides, just like the writers of TWD did, you pulled A Shane. You took a great character, you assassinated his character, then you killed him off. Not. Cool. It’s easier to redeem a character in death than it is to write his redemption. Dear writers, you took the easy road. You’ve been doing that a lot lately. Stop it. The characters deserve better.

VILLAINS. Here’s where you’ve really jumped the Indominus Rex. A cartoon villain is boring. A villain, like a hero, must have an Achilles heel. Your villains have none. They see all, know all, are all powerful. Between the villains of Dyad, Castor, and the Prolethians, it seems the only people in the dark are the members of the Clone Club. C’mon. You can do better.

Ferdinand

And now a word about the gratuitous graphic violence. Was it really necessary to beat Terrance to death? That scene was over the top graphic, pretty much unwatchable. How about this? What if, just sayin’ now, what if our villains had made a smart move… waited for Terrance to give Mrs. S. the information then followed her to the Castor original? No? Too complicated? And by the way- how do Castor and Dyad manage to co-opt every single contact Sarah and Mrs. S. make? Are they magical mind readers? Can they instantly transport themselves on their claw feet like the supernatural bathtub?

It makes no sense. In the beginning Dyad and Castor and the Prolethians knew nothing about the existence of Sarah Manning but now they know every single thing about her. And if they know every single thing about her and about Mrs. S., it stands to reason that both Dyad and Castor should have at least suspected the derivation of the original source material.

Plot holes. Sorry. Gaping plot holes.

P.S. By the way, if you’re trying to avoid attention from murderous cutthroats, don’t upload your profile and your picture onto a dating app, Cosima, AND don’t get up and sing in a pub, Mrs. S. Gratuitous scene, that. Yes, I know the actress can sing. I get it. But in Episode 9 we see nothing more than a few cutaway shots of Mrs. S. onstage. She sings a couple of lines. Well, we hear her sing a few words, and nothing more. It would have been better to let her sing her way through the credits. I say it was gratuitous because Mrs. S., Sarah, and Felix were specifically trying to stay under everyone’s radar. Like Tony’s random appearance, it was a way to showcase the actress’s talent without furthering the storyline.

P.P.S. Was it really necessary to Botwinize Alison? Seriously? Nancy Botwin she ain’t. And even Weeds lost its mojo after a few seasons. A few funny scenes with Donnie and Alison, but not necessary, although…

If you hadn’t gone all Botwin on our asses we wouldn’t have been treated to Helena behaving in oh-so-delicious Helena fashion, taking matters into her own hands, protecting her new family and her precious babies.

Helena

Sublime this season: Helena. Helena and Donnie. Crystal. (Waste of a great new character and I could say more but I won’t.) Rachel. Pity you didn’t take the opportunity to make Rachel an honorary member of Clone Club. With a nice bit of writing she could have made a deliciously evil twin.

Dear writers, step it up or Season Four will be a no-go for me.