Monday music: “Looking for an Echo”

Here’s a song called “Looking for an Echo,” written by Richard Reicheg that was first recorded in 1975. The Persuasions put their own spin on it, adapting it to their own history as an a cappella group that formed in Brooklyn in the 1960s. They did a lovely version of it on Spike Lee’s seminal 1990 concert film Do It A Cappella, but I can’t find just this song on the Tube of You (though you can see the whole film — click here to start at “Looking for an Echo”). Here’s their lovely studio recording of it.

fuck Texas

Texas Governor Greg Abbott wrote a letter instructing teachers and doctors to report parents who give trans children gender-affirming care, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an opinion that gender-affirming surgery is child abuse.

This has been swallowed in the news cycle by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and that’s understandable, but we shouldn’t forget that Texas is run by scum-sucking weasels and the state of Texas is not safe for trans people.

Back in 2013, then-Governor Rick Perry took out ads trying to lure businesses in other states to Texas — including New York. Lewis Black did a segment on it, which included a magnificent PSA of New Yorkers, led by Black, telling Texas to fuck off. I found myself remembering that today for obvious reasons.

Because the internet is wonderful, that video is still archived at Comedy Central’s web site. Click on this paragraph and go watch it right now. It’s magnificent.

“Remember the Alamo? Neither do we!”

Star Trek: Discovery‘s “The Galactic Barrier”

We finally get Tarka’s backstory, and it features Osric Chau (the guy who played Kevin on Supernatural and the Atom on The Flash). Meanwhile, the U.S.S. Discovery ferries Presidents Rillak and T’Rina and a bunch of other delegates to try to make first contact with Species 10C by traversing the galactic barrier in an episode imaginatively titled “The Galactic Barrier.” My review of Star Trek: Discovery‘s latest episode…

An excerpt:

Vance contacts Discovery to inform them that the DMA is now endangering Earth, Titan, and Ni’Var (among, presumably, lots of other worlds). Burnham wants to tell the crew, and Rillak wants to keep that information classified.

On the one hand, from a military standpoint, Rillak is absolutely right. The crew and the contact team need to be focused, and being told that their homes are in danger is not a great way to stay focused.

On the other hand, from a Star Trek standpoint, Burnham’s right. Jean-Luc Picard once reminded us all that a Starfleet officer’s first duty is to the truth, and Burnham believes it’s more important for the crew to know the stakes.

Star Trek is an idealized future, and because of that, we’re dealing with people who are the best and the brightest. This crew has been through hell and back together and they’re professionals of the highest order. Ideally, as professionals, they shouldn’t be adversely affected by such news, and Trek is an ideal future.

midweek music: “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”

In 2015, Carole King was honored at the Kennedy Center, and one of the performers was Aretha Franklin who, at 73 years old, came out in a fur coat, sat down at the piano, and belted the ever-loving shit out of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” a song King and her writing partner Gerry Goffin wrote for Franklin in 1967. King is completely verklempt, not having had any idea that this would be happening, and then there’s the great moment three minutes in when Franklin throws off the fur coat, and everyone — including President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama — give her a standing ovation. If you get through this without tearing up, you have no soul. One of the great performances you’ll ever see by one of our best.

talkin’ social dynamics and superpowers at WorldCon

DisCon III, the 79th Annual World Science Fiction Convention held last December, has made a bunch of their program items available on video, including one of my panels! Check out me, Sumiko Saulson, Elizabeth Hirst, Randy Smith, and John Wiswell discussing “Social Dynamics and Superpowers.”

EDITED TO ADD: Turns out you can’t embed the video. You also can’t view it unless you’re logged in to the DisCon site, which I think requires that you have a membership. Anyhow, here’s the link. Hope it works……

Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Sleeping Dogs”

The Enterprise tries to rescue a Klingon ship that has crashed in a gas giant, and everything goes horribly wrong, because if it didn’t go wrong, why do an episode about it? The Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch lets “Sleeping Dogs” lie.

An excerpt:

Indeed, something I’ve noticed about this season so far is that the show very rarely ends an act and goes to commercial break on a note of tension or suspense or curiosity. I can’t imagine what the thinking is there, but it’s been happening often enough that it seems to be a preference in the writers room. It’s actually less of an issue watching it now on Paramount+ or Netflix or your own DVDs, as there are no commercial breaks, but it still leads to a curtain of inconsequentiality hanging over the entire program.

This is especially problematic on a show that’s supposed to be all about the wild and wacky world of early human space travel, which should be chock full of danger and difficulty. But there was more tension, more sense of danger, in DS9’s “Starship Down,” which also had ships bopping about in a gas giant, even though the Defiant and the Jem’Hadar were way more technologically advanced and more experienced than the Enterprise and Somraw crew here.

first lines of all my novels

Back in early 2013, I did a thing on my LiveJournal where I listed all the first lines of all my novels. I thought I’d update that and present it here….

“C’mon, ‘Stairway to Heaven’ is the best rock and roll song ever.”

The night before the kidnappings, Betty Brant dreamt of Ned Leeds, her husband, lying next to her in bed, asleep and alive.
Spider-Man: Venom’s Wrath (full disclosure: that line was written by my collaborator on that novel, José R. Nieto)

The argument started when Cordelia saw what Xander was wearing.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Xander Years Volume 1

Iolaus never saw the staff coming.
Young Hercules: Cheiron’s Warriors

“So where are you guys going for spring break?”
Young Hercules: The Ares Alliance

Captain Klag’s right arm itched.
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Diplomatic Implausibility

Rygel flipped his cards over. “Four priestesses. I win again.”
Farscape: House of Cards

“Shields 1 and 2 are now down, Shield 3 is buckling, and warp drive is down!”
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Demons of Air and Darkness

“Captain, I believe you should come down to see this.”
Star Trek: The Brave and the Bold Book 1

Tharia didn’t cry when his three mates died.
Star Trek: The Brave and the Bold Book 2

Matilda Dixon had been baking a lemon cake when she was told that her husband was dead.
Darkness Falls

Everyone I know is dead.
Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda: Destruction of Illusions

The boy could taste the scent of the lIngta’ on the wind.
Star Trek: The Lost Era: The Art of the Impossible

The faces of the greatest warriors of the past ten centuries stared down at Klag, son of M’Raq.
Star Trek: I.K.S. Gorkon Book 1: A Good Day to Die

“I am Klag, son of M’Raq, captain of the I.K.S. Gorkon—and I summon you, my fellow members of the Order of the Bat’leth, in a call to honor.”
Star Trek: I.K.S. Gorkon Book 2: Honor Bound

Gan Brightblade’s last thoughts before his neck was broken were about how happy he was.
Dragon Precinct

Aaron Vricella regarded the younger man sitting opposite him with a combination of awe and outrage.
Resident Evil: Genesis

Major Timothy Cain didn’t take any shit.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse

Sunrise on Qo’noS had lost its appeal for Ambassador Worf.
Star Trek: The Next Generation: A Time for War, a Time for Peace

Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Satisfaction is Not Guaranteed

Before the alarm sounded, Shipmaster Vor Ellis had thought it was a good day.
Star Trek: I.K.S. Gorkon Book 3: Enemy Territory

Ele’er sat impatiently on her stool in the learning room. Mother was late, of course—she always was late for their learning sessions, which meant they ended later, which meant that Ele’er was always late for sky-singing.
Star Trek: Articles of the Federation

Sergeant Malcolm Reynolds’s life had reduced itself to the critical imperative of running as fast as he could.

Peter Parker looked at the clock on the wall, smiled, and said, “We’ve got a few minutes, so let’s go to the next chapter: the Periodic Table of Elements.”
Spider-Man: Down These Mean Streets

Erik had been cleaning ale off the demon skull mounted behind the bar when the stranger walked in.
World of Warcraft: Cycle of Hatred

Spike was looking forward to a pleasant evening. The grocery store had restocked the Weetabix shelf, giving Spike the opportunity to clean it out again, the butcher had plenty of blood, and the little trick with the tree branch in the Blockbuster returns bin had nabbed him a videotape of Henry V—Branagh’s version, thankfully, not Olivier’s.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Blackout

As soon as she felt Cliff Nadaner’s mind, Nova knew that she could destroy her family’s murderer with but a thought.
StarCraft: Ghost: Nova

Kes tried to screen out the voices in her head.
Star Trek: Mirror Universe: The Mirror-Scaled Serpent

“Do we really need to be just hangin’ here, B?”
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Deathless

The tank screamed over the ridge, crushing the grass and bamboo under its treads, guns blazing as it spit bullets and shells into the large temple and its occupants.
Command and Conquer: Tiberium Wars

Dr. Jim Knable stood on the Ravens’ Gate Bridge, a seething tide of humanity heading straight for him.
Resident Evil: Extinction

A chill November breeze blew John Soeder’s hair into his face, Mother Nature’s reminder to get a haircut in the absence of his actual mother being around to nag him about it.
Supernatural: Nevermore

They held off on letting this universe die in the hopes that it would provide something interesting.
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Q & A

The bat’leth sliced through the air, heading straight for Captain Klag’s neck.
Star Trek: Klingon Empire: A Burning House

Detective Don Flack stared at the one pill that rattled around the bottom of the prescription bottle.
CSI: NY: Four Walls

The chief priest sat in the canoe as the boy rowed to the sacred island.
Supernatural: Bone Key

“I can assure you, Dalin, that I am but a plain, simple clothier. I’ve no idea where the shapeshifter might be.”
Star Trek: Myriad Universes: A Gutted World

The Zirkiv only looks like a three-hundred-and-fifty-year-old Earth Cargo Service vessel.
Star Trek: A Singular Destiny

The rain had not let up for the better part of an hour.
Supernatural: Heart of the Dragon

Vaspar had been thinking about how much he’d been enjoying the calm and quiet of the past five weeks when he found the dead body.
Unicorn Precinct

The Eso swung its deadly claw at Folami’s head.
Guilt in Innocence

When you’re immortal, you literally have all the time in the world to craft and implement plans. If one plan fails, it matters little, for there is plenty of time to try another.
Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Sun: Under the Crimson Sun

A yellow streak flew overhead, stirring up the litter on 20th Street.
SCPD: The Case of the Claw

Oddly, given how miserable he’d been the past few years, Elthor lothSerra was happier than he’d ever been in his century-plus of life when he died.
Goblin Precinct

Zoë Kerrigan held up her cell phone, currently in picture-taking mode, finger poised over the camera icon, waiting for the red panda to wake up.
Leverage: The Zoo Job

Lord Albin was late.
Gryphon Precinct

The great contradiction of Ichabod Crane’s life was that he was constantly surrounded by people, yet had never been more alone.
Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution

The skies are sometimes blue, sometimes black, sometimes gray.
Marvel’s Thor: Dueling with Giants

The great world tree Yggdrasil sits at the center of the Nine Worlds, linking each world to the other eight.
Marvel’s Sif: Even Dragons Have Their Endings

Captain Kirti Patel had thought it to be a good day up until the blast came out of nowhere and made a smoking hole in Sergeant Castro’s chest.
Stargate SG-1: Kali’s Wrath

At the center of the Nine Worlds is Yggdrasil, the world tree, linking them all via its mighty roots and powerful branches.
Marvel’s Warriors Three: Godhood’s End

I would like to state for the record that starting Shabbos with a crazed unicorn charging at you horn-first kinda sucks.
A Furnace Sealed

Henry Marlow sat in the cramped mess hall of the salvage vessel Anesidora and tried to come to grips with his seventeenth straight meal of slop.
Alien: Isolation

An early morning breeze tickled Lieutenant Danthres Tresyllione’s blonde hair as she stood impatiently on Albin Way wishing Lord Doval would hurry up and finish his speech.
Mermaid Precinct

Doctor Julia Gaujot sat, waiting and nervous, outside the office of the North American Union President.
To Hell and Regroup

Detective Michelle Halls stared at the monitor on her desk, wondering why she had thought it would be easier to deal with the paperwork first thing Monday morning than last thing Friday afternoon.

“Why are we even coming to the office? It’s freezing!”
Systema Paradoxa: All-the-Way House

It all started twelve years ago when my parents were killed.
Feat of Clay (still in progress)