Monday, December 31, 2018

Time to Celebrate!

Happy New Years Eve, y'all!

This would traditionally be my first blog day after the holidays, but since it has fallen on David's and my 33rd Anniversary...this edition's going to be short and sweet! Hey, you're all busy returning presents or watching football or planning for your own New Years Eve festivities anyway, amIright?

So it's time to reset the calendars, make a few resolutions (or not), plan a few goals, and try to remember what year it is when you write out those first dozen or so checks (if anybody does that anymore).

I'll be back from my holiday hiatus next week with my regular blog.

Meanwhile, you have a great week--and a great beginning to 2019! Cheers!

Friday, December 14, 2018


Most of you faithful readers know I am a real fan of the holiday season. I love the jingle-jangle, the ho-ho-ho, the merry and the jolly and first, fat flakes of snow. I love Christmas movies, the cornier the better. And from Thanksgiving Day (which is when we first allow ourselves to crank up the carols at our house) until Epiphany, I love, love, love holiday music.

Wouldn’t you know this year some Grinch would find a way to spoil that aspect of holiday fun?

Now, before I start my response to the controversy over the Christmas classic “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” let me be clear about where I stand on the underlying assumptions. I fully support the #MeToo movement. And #TimesUp. Words matter, sexual harassment and sexual coercion and date rape are real, and I don’t know many women who have NOT experienced one or the other at some point in their lives. Including #MeToo.

But you will not convince me this song, written by Broadway songwriter Frank Loesser in 1944 and performed by any number of famous male-female duos since then, is about harassment, coercion or a not-so-subtle attempt at date rape. For most of the song’s history, "Baby" has been considered a playful, fun flirtation between two consenting adults, both of whom want to be together for a while longer despite the danger that the weather outside might force them to be snowed in—with consequences to the lady’s reputation. (Thanks to my friend, contemporary romance writer Christine Hughes, for pointing out this interpretation.)

Of course, such an interpretation wouldn’t occur to most Americans under the age of forty, because the societal strictures that would ruin an adult’s reputation for merely spending the night with someone of the opposite sex pretty much don’t exist anymore in Western culture. 

Oh, but they were very much in force in 1944 when the song was written. Just like those societal restrictions were very clearly a threat for the Everly Brothers in their song “Wake Up, Little Suzie” (1957). The implication that the teenaged couple in that song had overslept at the drive-in and actually spent the night together led some radio stations to ban the song.

And for most of us in the early-to-mid Sixties, worry about parental rules and society’s disapproval put a very real damper on our nocturnal activities. It took the Sexual Revolution of the late Sixties and early Seventies to change all of that.

But back to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Let’s take a look at the words, shall we?

I really can't stay, baby it's cold outside
I've got to go 'way, baby it's cold outside
The evening has been, been hoping that you'd drop in
So very nice, I'll hold your hands, they're just like ice

My mother will start to worry, beautiful, what's your hurry?
Father will be pacing the floor, listen to the fireplace roar
So really I'd better scurry, beautiful, please don't hurry
Maybe just a half a drink more, put some records on while I pour

The neighbors might think, baby, it's bad out there
Say, what's in this drink, no cabs to be had out there
I wish I knew how, your eyes are like starlight now
To break this spell, I'll take your hat, your hair looks swell

I ought to say no, no, no, sir - Mind if I move in closer?
At least I'm gonna say that I tried - What's the sense in hurting my pride?
I really can't stay - Baby don't hold out
Ah, but it's cold outside

I've got to get home, oh, baby, you'll freeze out there
Say, lend me your coat, it's up to your knees out there
You've really been grand, thrill when you touch my hair
Why don't you see, how can you do this thing to me?

There's bound to be talk tomorrow, think of my life long sorrow
At least there will be plenty implied, if you caught pneumonia and died
I really can't stay, get over that hold out
Ah, but it's cold outside

Oh, baby, it's cold outside
Oh, baby, it's cold outside

Songwriters: Frank Loesser
© Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

First, to put this song in context, World War II had allowed some loosening of sexual mores. It was wartime, with all that implied, and women working for the war effort at home were more independent. But once the war was over, more traditional values reasserted themselves for the late Forties and Fifties. In the interplay between men and women, men were expected to “push,” women were expected to exert “control.” Because, after all, society’s consequences would fall on her.

We see some of that in the dialogue between this couple (the woman’s lines in black, the man’s in red, both in blue). She has to be aware of the outside world and how she will be viewed in the morning should they be snowed in. He, not so much. It’s clear she wants to be there with him, but she thinks of her mother, her father, her neighbors, the “talk tomorrow.”
A lot has been made of the line “say, what’s in this drink?” but there is no real indication the guy has slipped her a “Mickey Finn” (the Forties equivalent of a roofie). She’s coherent and fully capable of making a decision here. Besides, the line rhymes with "think."

The problem is we’re overlaying a modern interpretation on this song that it doesn’t deserve. I spoke with a young female friend of mine last night and asked her if her mother or her friends would condemn her for spending the night with a male friend, especially if the weather was bad. She laughed and said, “Of course not.” That would be considered to be her business in this day and age. Her choice—and his, presumably.

But in the absence of clear societal rules about behavior between men and women—restrictive though they were in the Forties and Fifties, and often overlooked or disregarded when inconvenient—women today are left to say no in the absence of real societal backup. Which is one reason why #MeToo and #TimesUp asserted themselves as cultural movements.

Movements which might have gone a song too far. Think “Baby, It’s Cold” indicates coercion? Try the lyrics to “Lightning Strikes,” by Lou Christie (1965):

When I see lips beggin' to be kissed
I can't stop
I can't stop myself
(Stop, stop)

(Lou Christie and Twyla Herbert)

But do we really need to police the entire popular music catalog? Better, I think, to just apply a little context.

Cheers, Donna

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Owner's Tale is full of surprises

I've already waxed lyrical about Holly Lisle's Tales from the Longview series and her two prequels, the Cadence Drake novels Hunting the Corrigan's Blood and Warpaint. Holly has just released the sixth and last novella in the Longview series, The Owner's Tale.

Here's the blub

When the truth comes out, who is left standing?

In this final episode of the series. the Longview reveals its secrets, Herog finds the path to protecting the City of Furies, and Melie discovers the truth about the ship she captains and the owner she serves.

I've read all the books in the series twice, so I obviously loved them. You can read my previous review here.

The final book delivered. The series is very well constructed, with each novella raising the stakes a little higher until the final battle in Viper's Nest, where Bailey's Irish Space Station (love the name) becomes the Longview's last ally against the combined might of the powerful Pact Worlds fleets. If that's not bad enough, the enemy's superhuman agents have infiltrated the space station itself. But against all odds the Longview and Bailey's prevail – at least for now.

The Owner's Tale is that final chapter of any good novel, where the loose ends are tied and the explanations are given. We're told the history of the Longview's owner and what the ancient ship, repurposed as a Death Circus which helps despotic planetary governments to get rid of free-thinkers, is really doing. 

The whole series is fascinating. The author has created a dystopian universe where powerful corporations and despotic governments control most of settled space. Added to that is the threat posed by the Legends, people with superhuman capabilities attained at a terrible cost. In many cases the Legends control the governments and corporations of the Pact Worlds. These formidable entities are opposed by individuals who ultimately must band together if they are to succeed.

One aspect of this future society that kept cropping up was the issue of sexuality. In this universe Humanity has accepted that 'male' and 'female' is a gross oversimplification. Same sex pairings are par for the course, no more unusual than heterosexual couples. Here's a short excerpt explaining what I mean. This is from The Philosopher's Gambit.

Laure was glancing at stats. “In her bio, she lists herself as Gender Three — female/female. She’s about the only one right now, isn’t she?”
“I’m G-5, not G-3, but close enough. She is the only female/female on the ship right now besides me. The fact that she’s uni and I’m poly, which would be a disaster, but fortunately it’s not going to be an issue.
“Confession here, though. When I hit rank clearance and got access to your rank-locked bio, I checked you out. I hoped…” Melie smiled. “Pretty and talented as you are, I’m sure everyone who hits rank equivalency hopes you might be available. Broke my heart when I saw you’re G-6.”
“I’m flattered that you looked,” Laure said. Then the other bio appeared, and Melie watched Laure look appreciatively at his holo. “Oooh, you’re so right about him. I can see that bit of dark you were talking about — he has fierce eyes. I love that in a man.”

Despite the fact that Tales from the Longview is dark and often brutal and confronting, the light of romance shines through much of the narrative. If you're a reader of SF with a romance arc, give it a try. 

Buy it at Amazon

This is my last post for 2018. I want to wish all of you a safe and peaceful Christmas and a great New Year. Here's a couple of my lorikeet friends saying it from the heart.

Looking forward to seeing you all in 2019.

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Tees Have It: Final Edition (Star Wars!)

I expect this will be my final blog of the year, as Spacefreighters Lounge traditionally goes dark for the last couple of weeks in December so we can all focus on the holidays. Those of us who aren't already on break will post the last of our 2018 blogs later this week.

In case you missed my two prior t-shirt installments, here they are again:

The Tees Have It: Wearable Statements of Sci-Fi Fandom

The Tees Have It: Take Two (including Star Trek!)

I did a pop surprise t-shirt award on each of the last two blogs, and my winners of the "I'm Running Away to See the Universe" t-shirts were Donna and Lea, as the only commenters on each of those blogs. Congrats, guys!

(Apologies, but I won't be offering a prize this time. Sorry if you missed out.)

Here's the final edition (for now) of my sci-fi t-shirt collection, featuring the rest of my Star Wars tees.

The first is my stealth Star Wars tee. Anyone seeing it may not even realize it's a product of the franchise, unless they take the time to actually read the words in fancy bold font, namely "Mos Eisley Cantina" and in smaller letters below, a variation of the line made famous by Luke's Uglies Unlimited attackers:

"Where our friends don't like you
& we don't like you either"

After all, what Star Wars collection would be complete without a tee of the iconic space port populated by "a wretched hive of scum and villainy," according to Obi Wan Kenobi.

And he should know. Tattoine has been his home for at least a couple of decades.

It's my tribute to Luke Skywalker's roots, and the alliance between Luke and Ben Kenobi that started the whole crazy sequence of events that led to Luke becoming a Jedi master. Besides, Mos Eisley Cantina is undoubtedly the most famous dusty little watering hole in sci-fi lore.

Tee two is one I get a lot of comments on, because what starship is more beloved than the Millenium Falcon? (Well, other than possibly, the Enterpirse, as per my commentary on last week's blog.)

This tshirt was produced before we actually learned the details of the infamous Kessel run, which the Falcon completed in under fourteen parsecs. (Insert Han's disgruntled correction here: "Twelve!")

Since it makes reference to the 35th anniversary, my guess is this design was probably created around 2012 or thereabouts, so before the debut of The Force Awakens by about three years.

The Star Wars franchise prequel Solo depicted the actual Kessel run (and I'm sorry to say that, for this fan anyway, it didn't really live up to the prior three decades of legendary hype).

All that aside, this is still one of my fave--and probably most worn--t-shirts because I love the image of the Falcon so much. The most beloved hunk of junk in the galaxy, indeed!

Tee #3 is one of my absolute faves.

I don't wear it often--would rather frame it, to be honest--but our last joint outing was for a baseball game to watch our local pro ball team, the Isotopes (yes, named for the team in The Simpsons)(and sadly, they lost) for their annual Star Wars Night. I felt right at home among the local Star Wars lookalikes of Luke, Leia, Han, stormtroopers, Jedi masters and such.

I love me the colors and design on this one, and how if you just glance at it, might think it's just another college jersey.

I actually had an internal debate between wearing this one and my final tee (below) to Star Wars Night, but decided to tote the Jedi University instead of broadcasting how many long yearrrrrrrs I'd been a fan.

Here is the other referenced tee and my most recent addition.

It uses the Star Wars style box to deliver the message:

"Still in love
After all these years"

And the content:

"May 25th 1977
May 25th 2017"

Yep. True.

I was in attendance at the original Star Wars movie that took the whole world by storm. In fact, I was there on opening weekend. Star Wars was a summer sleeper and nobody saw its tremendous success coming--not even George Lucas or the now mega-famous cast.

No one, that is, except the sci-fi fans.

Although the film had a tiny advertising budget, all it took was a few glimpses of a blaster battles, ominous white-clad stormtroopers and starships zooming around in space to dazzle us and send us dashing off to buy tickets.

Those commercials were actually completely cheesy by today's standards...but we'd never seen anything like them before. Want a look back? Here's a fan video of a collection of some of those original spots (even a few that touted a "romance" between Luke and Leia. *cough, cough*)

And the rest, as we now know, is history. More than four decades of it.

I'm very proud of the fact I was a Star Wars fan from the beginning. Even before the beginning, since the commercials themselves completely hooked me. I gobbled up the original trilogy, even driving 40 miles to see The Empire Strikes Back in Flint, Michigan when all of the local theaters made the monumental mistake of not offering it on opening weekend.

I saw all the prequels, too, though I was much less impressed. I was a youngster then. I had to wait until just a few months before my retirement to see the first of what would finally be the last trilogy. Something that George Lucas had originally intended to wrap before the year 2000. Before things went astray...

The debut of The Force Awakens captured a bit of the same magic of the original, and this time, I was in line on opening night to catch the return of my lifelong love.

I think this tee sums this all up in just a few words.

I won't say Star Wars was the reason I became a SFR author but it certainly clicked on the hyperdrive of my imagination. Even so, it would be 38 years after viewing the original Star Wars (and yes, it was simply called "Star Wars" back then; it didn't gain the episode title "A New Hope" for many years) before I published my first space opera novel, in 2015.

And here we are in December 2018, and now I'm looking forward with great expectation to the final film of the last trilogy of Star Wars. What a tall order of expectations this next one is going to have to deliver!

I'll do an update blog later this winter with a few new additions to my tee collection that I'm in the process of acquiring. (Seems writing these blogs got me inspired again, and I've found a few more way cool tee designs.)

So, signing off 'til January. I wish you a wonderful holiday season with lots of fun, laughter, surprises, feasts and festivities. May all your holiday dreams come true.

And may the force be with you, always.

Have a great few weeks!