Wrenn and I are both over 50 and got our first COVID-19 vaccine booster shot in October of 2021, so we decided to get our second booster today. Given that everyone’s decided masks are for wussies, and there’s been a slow uptick in cases since the mask mandates were dropped/lightened, I’m very happy to give myself every possible defense against this……
On Friday, Wrenn and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary by going back to City Island. This time we spent some time wandering up and down City Island Avenue and checking out the little shops. (I even bought a book, a tome filled with Bronx-based ghost stories that should be useful stuff to mine for the Bram Gold Adventures.) City island is a lovely little New England-style fishing village sitting off the east coast of the Bronx.
Then we had an amazeballs dinner at the Black Whale. I’ve been going to the Black Whale since I was a kid. It’s a charming little place decorated like an antiques shop, with little tchotchkes all over the place. When I was a kid, before my mother developed a sensitivity to seafood that curtailed her dining options on City Island, we used to go out to dinner there a lot, and we would often go to the Black Whale for dessert. (I would almost always have a root beer float.)
However, they are also a full-on restaurant with very yummy food. We ate in the courtyard out back and had an absolutely magnificent meal. It was lovely and yummy and the perfect way to celebrate our anniversary. (Also, how the hell has it been five years? On the other hand, has it really only been five years? Seems like forever, at least partly because the last two years have been so awful.)
Happy anniversary to us!
Because Wrenn had to work for 15 hours on Monday on her temp job and because I was flying back home from Indianapolis, we decided to postpone my birthday festivizing to Thursday the 21st. By then, Wrenn’s job was done (she’s now looking aggressively for more permanent work), and so we went out to City Island with all four parents, the Godmommy, and Matthew to Portofino for a lovely lunch.
Today is Wrenn’s and my wedding anniversary — it was, amazingly, five years ago now that we became a married couple at Mario’s Restaurant — and we’re gonna celebrate with another City Island meal, this time at the Black Whale.
Happy birthday to me! Happy anniversary to us!
I spent my 53rd birthday in two different states, as well as on a plane. It started waking up in Indianapolis when it was snowing, and ended with me driving from Manhattan to the Bronx in a monsoon. In between, I had dinner with my parents, took a karate class, and drove Wrenn home from work at close to midnight.
My trip to Indianapolis for Indiana Comic Convention and Wrenn’s job (which ends fully on Wednesday) means we put off the proper birthday festivizing until Thursday, when the family will have lunch at Portofino on City Island. In the meantime, however, ToniAnn gave me the “IT’S MY FUCKING BIRTHDAY” sash to wear this morning, seen in the picture above. I wore it proudly and happily.
My presents so far have included a Cameo video from Garrett Wang, thanks to Meredith and Sas, a Green Hornet and Kato Funko Pop set, thanks to ToniAnn, a fun night out at the Patron Saint Club in Indianapolis Saturday night, thanks to Carlos Ferro, and a bajillion birthday greetings publicly on Facebook and Twitter and privately via text, e-mail, and Facebook Messenger.
Happy birthday to me!
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.
“Remember the Alamo? Neither do we!”
An article dropped on Vulture yesterday by Lila Shapiro which details the fall from grace of Joss Whedon following first an open letter his ex-wife wrote on her way out the door of their life together, and then the Justice League debacle, which led to a lot of allegations coming to light going all the way back to Whedon’s Buffy days.
I’ve been connected to Whedon’s worlds both as a fan and as a pro since the late 1990s. I was a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly, and I wrote four Buffy books (a novelization, two novels, and I worked on one of the official reference books) and novelized Serenity and wrote a Firefly role-playing game adventure. As a result, I was always heavily plugged into the intense fandom that grew up around his creations.
And I found myself concerned about the near-deification that went on surrounding him. The “Joss Whedon is My Master Now” T-shirts and the “trust in Joss” mantras — and just generally, referring to him as “Joss” as if he was their friend.
This always twigged me a bit. For starters, he was still a Hollywood producer, for all that he proved himself to have a certain geek cred. Also, this level of hagiography regarding him is the sort of thing that can go to a person’s head. Plus, his flaws as a writer tended to get overlooked or explained away, whether his laziness in world-building or the severe lack of presence of people of color in his productions (brought into sharp relief when he took over Justice League and practically wrote Cyborg out of it) or his creating an Asian-centric science fiction setting but neglecting to cast a single Asian.
And then there was his inaction with regard to Serenity novels. While there are now Firefly novels from Titan, which is great, the original deal back in 2005 that Simon & Schuster made was for three books: my novelization of the movie and two original novels. Several authors pitched to S&S (including me), and those pitches were met with resounding silence from Whedon’s office, to the point where S&S had to cancel the other two planned books due to Whedon never approving any of the pitches.
My concerns proved to be, if anything, underestimating the case. Revelations from Whedon’s ex and from Ray Fisher showed that the hero had feet of clay.
The interview is the first time Whedon has spoken publicly since he was all but hung in effigy by the entire universe, and he didn’t waste any time inserting his foot once he opened his mouth. At no point does he take responsibility, and he spends lots of time making excuses. He unconvincingly denies many of the allegations, or tries to downplay them.
The worst is how he responded to Shapiro’s questions about the affairs he had with people working under him on his TV shows.
“I feel fucking terrible about them,” he said. When I pressed him on why, he noted “it messes up the power dynamic,” but he didn’t expand on that thought. Instead, he quickly added that he had felt he “had” to sleep with them, that he was “powerless” to resist. I laughed. “I’m not actually joking,” he said. He had been surrounded by beautiful young women — the sort of women who had ignored him when he was younger — and he feared if he didn’t have sex with them, he would “always regret it.” Looking back, he feels shame and “horror,” he said. I thought of something he had told me earlier. A vampire, he’d said, is the “exalted outsider,” a creature that feels like “less than everybody else and also kind of more than everybody else. There’s this insecurity and arrogance. They do a little dance.”
What a spectacular load of tripe.
Almost as bad is his response to Gal Gadot’s description of the harassment she received on the set of Justice League: “English is not her first language, and I tend to be annoyingly flowery in my speech.” So it’s her fault for misunderstanding him, because her foreign self can’t understand how beautifully he expresses himself. Gak.
Whedon’s horrendous behavior doesn’t change the good work he’s done, any more than JK Rowling’s toxic transphobia changes the good work she’s done. But it’s why it’s often important to separate the art from the artist. Because the artist can be a total piece of garbage and still create great art.
Just don’t assume that the artist is great because the art is. This sort of thing is why I tend to be self-deprecating and modest about my own work. I’ve seen what fulsome praise does to some creative folks, and I don’t want that to happen to me.
Here’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous speech. Sad that so much of it is still relevant today, and while we’ve made tremendous progress since 1963, we also have a very very long way to go.
This post from earlier today looking back at 2021 and ahead to 2022 has been amended to include a paragraph that I can’t believe I didn’t include in the original. So if you’ve read it before seeing this, please go look for the “edited to add” paragraph. You’ll be glad you did……
2021 was a helluva lot better than 2020, but that is a very low bar to clear.
Still, there was a lot of good this year. Also a lot of bad, as the words “delta” and “omicron” and “unvaccinated” did a lot to fuck this year up. Going into 2022, I will just say this: get your COVID vaccination already, and if you can’t or won’t, stay home, and if you must go outside your home wear a fucking mask. 42,000 nerds kept their masks on for five days at Dragon Con, you can keep yours on while you go to the store.
Anyhow, there was a lot of good this year, starting with vaccines becoming available. Wrenn and I got appointments to join Team Pfizer the nanosecond we were eligible in February, and we got our shots at Yankee Stadium, which was a vaccination site specifically for Bronx residents. (They didn’t care much if we were actually qualified, but they checked three times to verify that we really lived in the Boogie-Down.)
We actually got to go places this year, and between us, Wrenn and I got to take trips to Manassas, Maine, Cooperstown, New Hampshire, Maple Shade, and Raleigh, as well as lots of in-person conventions, which finally became a thing again, from Pensacon in May to DisCon III in December. It was a joy and a pleasure to do panels and participate in Bard’s Tower and sign autographs and do readings and all that good stuff. And it was especially fun to do road trips with Wrenn, as we love taking long car rides together, because we’re dorks.
Plus we got to attend actual parties, including tonight’s upcoming festivities at our friend Peter’s house with many of our dearest friends. And holidays and birthdays were celebrated in person, too, starting with Easter at my parents, continuing with my birthday (our first restaurant trip since the apocalypse started, at Keens Steakhouse), and also including things like the annual 4th of July party and the milestone birthdays of my father’s 75th and ToniAnn’s 35th. (Sadly, we were unable to do Meredith’s 40th in person, as it was in January before vaccinations.)
EDITED TO ADD: Sweet Mother McCree, I can’t believe I forgot to include this paragraph in the first draft of this post, but…. In November of 2021 I also — after several months of intense preparation, and after a grueling five-day promotion that included an all-day hike on 25 miles of the Appalachian trail and an all-night session in the dojo on top of the usual three-day black-belt promotion, I was promoted to fourth-degree black belt, which means now I’m Sensei Keith. I went up alongside Sensei Charles, with whom I also went up for my second- and third-degrees, and it was an amazing, edifying, tiring, exhilarating, exhausting, wonderful experience. In addition, I also got to start teaching again, with my afterschool karate classes re-commencing in September and also teaching periodically in the dojo (including filling in for Shuseki when he went on vacation a couple times). Karate has made me a better, more centered, stronger person in so many ways, and it’s been one of the things that’s kept me going these last couple years.
My writing life proceeded apace, with two books of mine published (Animal and Systema Paradoxa: All-the-Way House) and one of my older novels reprinted (my Spider-Man novel Down These Mean Streets in The Darkest Hours Omnibus), plus three short stories (two in the anthologies Turning the Tied and Devilish and Divine, one released to Indie GoGo supporters), and a ton of nonfiction for two anthologies as well as my usual epic output for Tor.com and Patreon — for the latter, there were also a dozen new vignettes.
2022 promises more fun stuff, including a big bunch of short stories, the next Bram Gold novel (Feat of Clay, which is halfway done), the next Precinct book (Phoenix Precinct) to at least be written, the long-awaited second collection of urban fantasy tales set in Key West (Ragnarok and a Hard Place: More Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet), a nifty serialized project that I’m not quite ready to talk about publicly yet, my Resident Evil comic book, and tons more, including continuing the Enterprise Rewatch for Tor.com and continuing to review new Trek episodes for the site, as well as revisiting “4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch” in the summer and at year’s end. (For that matter, we’ll start the year with looks back at Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Eternals.)
In the meantime, I want to give thanks and praise to my nearest and dearest, especially the Forebearance (The Mom, The Dad, The Infomancer, and The Tall Curly One) who are the best parents money can’t buy, as well as the Godmommy, Meredith, ToniAnn, Anneliese, Sas, Kyle, Matthew, and everyone else who’s been an important part of my life this year, whether you’re someone I see regularly (like our lovely downstairs neighbors) or someone I talk to on Facebook messenger a lot or someone I only see at conventions (like Alexi and the rest of the Bard’s Tower gang) or someone who read my writing and loved it.
I can’t forget the fur creatures, who helped us get through the year by being all cute and cuddly: our two sweet black cats, Kaylee and Louie, as well as ancillary family animals Junior, Beauty, Spot, Hima, Tempura, Jazz, Thor, Loki, and everyone’s favorite cartoon dog, the irrepressible Professor Zoom.
I have the best family, the best friends, and the best fans in the world, and I love you all. There was a lot this year that did not go as planned and that could’ve been better, but we’re still trending in more or less the right direction at least. Let’s hope that stupidity and tenacious viruses can be overcome by science and sensibility (I know, I know, I’m an optimist) and that 2022 is even better than 2021, which was way better than 2020.
Happy new year!
I saw a rehab specialist for my knees today. It’s been established that I have mild arthritis in my knees, and surgery isn’t an option, but I do have cysts behind my kneecap. (Well, behind my right kneecap, and probably also my left one, but insurance would only cover an MRI of one knee. Insurance is ridiculous.)
The doctor examined me, and my symptoms (sharp, non-lingering pain when I do certain things) doesn’t indicate to him that the cyst is actually the problem. So we’re going to do a month and a half of physical therapy two days a week and see where that leads. If that helps, great. If it doesn’t, we look at doing an MRI of the other leg and maybe draining the cyst(s).
Cha cha cha.