We Need a Political “Swear” Jar

In reading the news, I keep seeing two patterns repeating themselves. One of course is that several federal programs are running out of money. The second is the misbehavior and antics of current politicians, particularly those running for president. So why not use the one to help solve the other?

Many people are familiar with the concept of the swear jar. If you say a swear word at work or at home, you put some money in the swear jar. We can adapt this principle to raise money for the federal treasury. We compile a list of offenses and charge candidates a fine each time they commit one of these offenses. We might even have a budget surplus by the time of the 2016 election!

Here are some ideas:

Giving out an opponent’s private phone number: $10,000

Flip-flopping on a position for political gain: $20,000

Blatant acts/statements of hypocrisy: $25,000

Lying about own record: $30,000

Lying about an opponents record: $40,000

Comparing anyone or any policy to Hitler or the Holocaust: $50,000

Nominating Sarah Plain as vice president: 1 million

Other suggestions? Feel free to put them below!

A Tale of Two Kitties

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Actually, no, it was just this afternoon. It was a hot and sunny afternoon. I decided to play with Hermes, the 10 month old kitten while Hector, the 15 year old cat, slept in his basket. And I started getting all philosophical like.

Hector spends most of his time sleeping, either in his basket or next to me in a chair or while I’m sleeping. He gets up to eat and use the litter box. He occasionally goes out onto the screened in porch to see what’s up but comes in a few minutes later. This is his life, and I must admit, I envy him sometimes. And actually, that’s pretty much how I’ve spent a lot of the summer.

Hermes on the other hand loves to explore and see new things. He spends hours on the porch, just watching and wondering about the world behind the screens. He likes to nap but he also likes to play. He likes to hug and he likes to wrestle. He’s still seeking adventure, as much as an indoor only cat can.

So, I’m now 49 and have to decide, do I want to become even more like Hector or should I start emulating Hermes?

Now, someday, I will probably be the cranky old man like Hector, not wanting to be disturbed and occasionally incontinent, but I’m not there yet. So, just as I got down on the floor and played with Hermes, I need to get out more and seek more new adventures in the world beyond the screens and safety of the house.

Okay, perhaps a little cheesy and simplistic, but it’s what came to me today. Meow.

Ant-Man Review

First of all, yes, this version of Ant-Man differs a great deal from the comic book version. In the Marvel Universe, Ant-Man and the Wasp were among the original founders of the Avengers. Hank Pam was both Ant-Man and Yellowjackets. Scott Lang was also Ant-Man, but after Pym became Yellowjacket full-time.

But this is the Marvel Movie Universe and it’s different and that’s fine.

The movie started of slow as many origin movies do. I expected it to be a little funnier to start with as well. However, the last part of the movie made up for that. The humor and the action moved it along nicely. Best of all, no other film can seriously do a battle on top of a moving train ever again after this movie, which is a good thing.

The tie in with the Avengers was slightly arbitrary but it worked plot wise and universe wise. The battle with the Falcon was handled well. In fact, the battle sequences with Ant-Man were all done well and actually show how this hero can be formidable in battle as well as espionage. They even managed to make the ants sympathetic.

Cross/Yellowjacket was barely developed though. He’s pretty much evil from the time we meet him. It’s not that big of a flaw though since Scott and Hope’s characters are much more interesting. However, it does make me once again think that the Daredevil approach with a limited series is a better venue for superhero dramas/comedies.

Overall, Ant-Man is a fun movie. Oh, and there are two credit scenes to stay for.

Comic-Con Review Part 2 — Outside the Convention Center

If you’ve never been to Comic-Con, the event spills out into the areas around the convention center, especially towards the Gaslamp Quarter. SyFy takes over a local restaurant and matches it to one of there shows. NBC sets up attractions, including a Heroes Reborn one this year. The 4D experience line was long, but a worker came and told us that the gallery was open with no line and you still got the free bag. AMC had an exhibit for the new walking dead spinoff. On Wednesday, I got a Sharknado 3 gift in that spot. (Late in the week, I spotted the SyFy people in the quarter and got more freebies. 🙂 ) We also got free granola bars and iced coffee concentrate.

The area between the Convention center and the Hilton I felt wasn’t as good this year as last. Fox had a Simpsons theme last year that didn’t require registration. This year, both the FX Fearless and Adult Swim areas had lines to register before you could go in and wait in more lines.

The Petco Park area had a Snoopy House and a Scream Queen ride, but again, I felt that the offerings last year (Amazon, X-Men, Sleepy Hollow) were better. There were Scream Queen ice cream carts, but the one time we were there when they were, we had just had a smoothie so we didn’t get in line.

Inside Petco park, we tried our hand at throwing “ninja cards.” We didn’t win the t-shirt but got a pair of sunglasses. We also stumbled across and interview with Ian Ziering, so that was worth it.

Overall, I still enjoyed Comic-Con, whether going inside or outside.

Comic-Con 2015 in Review part I

Well, I survived Comic-Con 2015. It’s as crazy and crowded and chaotic as ever. But, I thought I would give a run down of some highlights, etc.

Let me first say that I won’t spend more than a half hour to 45minutes waiting in line. That immediately eliminates me from seeing some of the bigger panels. I refuse to camp out on the sidewalk to see a movie panel in Hall H or show up at 5:00 am or earlier to stand in line for 4 or 5 hours to see something or buy something. I didn’t go all that way to stand in line and especially not to stand in line to stand in line. (Yes, there are lines you need to get into so you can then go stand in line again.)

Wednesday night preview night was good. The line for the Ballroom 20 Warner Brothers previews was long but moved fast. I stayed for the Supergirl preview (see review) and then went down to the Exhibit Hall to meet my friend. It wasn’t too crazy then and I picked up some free stuff and bought a few of the less popular con exclusives. I joined my friend in line for some He-Man exclusive toys at a store a few blocks away. This was the only time I violated my wait rule. We stood in line for two hours. I’m a gay fantasy writer who collects comics and animation art and sees every superhero movie out there. But next to some of these diehard toy collectors, I felt positively mainstream.

Thursday, I didn’t really have plans. We wandered around getting free stuff and I picked up an offer to go to the Ghost Asylum panel and get a free t-shirt. I like free stuff. 🙂 So, I went to the panel and if you were one of the first 20 to tweet a message you got to party with the cast. I was number 15, so we went to an exclusive party with the cast at the Horton Grand Hotel. Free “ghost” themed drinks and snacks. The cast mingled and chatted with the attendees. I’ve never seen the show and I’m a bit skeptical about such paranormal tv shows, but they were nice and it was fun.

More to come on the rest of the weekend!

Lucifer — Short Review

Okay, I have to say it. The new TV show for mid-season, Lucifer, is wickedly funny. Tom Ellis, the star, displays devilish charm (okay, I’ll stop now) as Lucifer Morningstar. Having abandoned Hell and running a club in LA, he doesn’t bother to hide whom he is or that he is immortal. Whether they believe him or not is up to them. He suddenly finds himself caring about the murder of a singer he once helped and teams up with a female detective to find the murderer and see that he gets what’s coming to him. He further becomes intrigued when Detective Dancer seems to be immune to his charms and ability to incite carnal desires.

The room at Comic-Con was packed with people watching the pilot and the crowd responded well. This show was funny and delightful. Most of that came from Lucifer who is brutally and hilariously honest in his interactions with humans. The interaction of the characters is also very good. If the writers can keep the idea working through all the episodes, Fox should have a hit on its hands. That is, if they don’t screw it up like they have other shows.

Supergirl Episode 1 review

I saw the first episode of Supergirl at Comic-Con. Below is a review with some spoilers.

The show starts with a summary via voice over of how Kara got to earth and her relationship to Superman. Then as the trailer suggested, it goes into rom-com mode, where Kara calls her sister to help her with a date, we see her problems with boss, and she meets James (not Jimmy) Olsen and becomes smitten with him.

It does move on from there into some action sequences as she saves a crashing plane. As she goes on a crime fighting spree, she gets captured by shadowy government agency and finds out her sister works for them. Sibling rivalry and drama ensue for a bit though they get resolved by the end of the show. She fights a bad guy and we get to see the villain of the season. I won’t say everything, but it’s a woman and she’s not an evil cosmetics queen, so that’s a plus.

It was an all right show. It will keep me watching for awhile. The fight scenes need some work since Kara’s flying kicks are particularly cheesy looking. It’s pretty easy to see what the story arc will be for the season: fight bad guys that leads up to confrontation with big bad, relationship with sister, budding romance with James. I don’t mind knowing where it’s going as long as it’s fun getting there. Hard to say if that will happen after the first episode, but it could.

2015 SFPA Poetry Contest

I am the contest chair this year. Send in your poems!

Contest opens July 1. Submission deadline August 15. Winners to be announced by October 1.

Contest Rules: The 2015 SFPA speculative poetry contest is open to all poets, including non-SFPA-members. Prizes will be awarded for best poem in 3 categories: Dwarf (poems 1–10 lines); Short (11–49 lines [prose poems 0–499 words]); Long (50 lines and more [prose 500 words and up]). Line count does not include title or stanza breaks. All sub-genres of speculative poetry allowed in any form. Blind-judged: author identification will be removed before poems are sent to readers or judge.

In each category, a first prize of $100, a second prize of $50, and a third prize of $25 will be awarded. No limit on number of poems; entry fee of $1.00 for SFPA members and $2.00 for non-members per poem can be paid via PayPal to sfpatreasurer@gmail.com. Please indicate name/e-mail under which poems are submitted if different.

Judge: Lesley Wheeler

Submission guidelines:

  • Deadline is August 15.
  • Unpublished poems only.
  • Submissions via web form; link will be posted later in 2015.
  • Send as many poems as you like, but an entry fee of $1 member/$2 non-member per poem must be paid via PayPal to sfpatreasurer@gmail.com.

Confirmation of receipt of your submission should follow within 3 days.
Announcement of winners will be posted on the SFPA website.

Prizes: In each category (Dwarf, Short, Long): $100 First Prize, $50 Second Prize, $25 Third Prize. Publication on Poetry Planet (StarShipSofa.com) podcast magazine and on the SFPA website for first through third places.