Damned if we do…

It’s kind of weird how women in public life in the western world are slammed continually for their appearance.

Hillary’s pant suits. Michelle’s uncovered arms. Alexandria’s designer wear. Jill wearing a skirt that is above the knee.

Of course, most of those self-same people never objected to Melania wearing nothing whatsoever (and I didn’t really feel good about those who did use it against her, because slut-shaming is not something that I agree with…but the hypocrisy of being “christian” and puritanical about Dem women, but perfectly fine with a former porn star being the face of “Middle America” was pretty annoying, well, ummmm.)

(NOTE and bugger off, Spellcheck – “christian” does not require a capital C when it refers to people whose values are so at odds with just about every single thing Jesus ever said.)

If you are a woman who doesn’t spout off every minute about gunz ‘n freedumb, or walk submissively behind the men in your life, or fulminate against trans persons using the “wrong” restroom, you are apparently not allowed to wear anything except a potato sack, and even then – well, you aren’t “pretty” enough to be seen in public, so just go away, will ya?

Ditto make-up. Too much. Not enough. None at all? Shame on you.

And if you are under sixty?

They’ll attack you for not being “respectful” enough in how you dress, if you look nice – but “too provocative” if you don’t make yourself look ugly.

We’re hooped, no matter what – even from men who theoretically are “on our side”, because they cannot for the life of them see us as anything other than sperm receptors.

Women cannot win.

At least, we can’t if we continue to play that game and stay silent when the men we know personally make these “jokes” and critiques.

We need to stop letting this stuff go. We need to challenge it at every turn – to call men out on every appearance-related criticism, whether they are just being “funny” or are more serious, because – whether we realize it or not – we (each and every one of us) are included in those remarks.

Fellowship of the Flame Blog Tour!

Today we’re hosting A. R. Silverberry, showcasing his latest YA fantasy/action adventure Novella, with a release date of April 20th, 2021!

Be sure to read the excerpt and click the link!

A Thrilling New Fantasy Adventure

From Master Storyteller A. R. Silverberry!

A deadly hunter …

A boy with an ill-fated dream …

Only one can survive.

Caggril, ruthless mercenary and tracker, needs enough gold to release himself from the Purpuran army. Only then can he leave war behind and seek the near mythical land of Aerdem, by all reports a paradise.

Cap, a ten-year-old street urchin, knows it’s mad to attack the brutal queen of Purpura. But he’s hell-bent on realizing his dream—to join the Purpuran resistance—and one bold action might just do the trick.

Bent on revenge, the queen promises to free Caggril from his bond if he brings the boy back. But Cap has other problems. He learns that the queen is setting a trap for the resistance. With a wolf on his tracks and time running out, he has to warn the Fellowship. Or good people will die.

From the boundless imagination of A. R. Silverberry comes the first book in a breathtaking new fantasy series, The Chronicles of Purpura, tales of the brave deeds leading up to his award-winning novel, Wyndano’s Cloak.

Purchase Link:

EBook: https://www.amazon.com/Fellowship-Flame-Chronicles-Purpura-Novella-ebook/dp/B08XN72CVC

Softback: pending

Follow A. R. Silverberry:

Website:          http://www.arsilverberry.com

Facebook:        https://www.facebook.com/arsilverberry

Twitter:           https://twitter.com/arsilverberry

Bio:

A. R. Silverberry writes science fiction and fantasy for children, teens, and adults. His novels, WYNDANO’S CLOAK and THE STREAM, earned numerous awards, including the Benjamin Franklin Award gold medal for Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction. Follow him at www.arsilverberry.com.

Excerpt:

Chapter One

He went up the tree with the stealth of a pirate, something bigger than hunger driving him. A foray against the queen of Purpura was never a good idea—especially solo and when you’re ten years old. No matter that you lead your own troop.

These details never bothered the little captain, or Cap, as he called himself. Consideration for his hide took a back seat to the hungry mouths waiting for him back at camp. If he returned empty-handed and had to face the hollow desperate eyes of his men, he might as well hang it up.

With steely determination, he surveyed the little clearing below. Beneath an airy canopy of walnut and sycamore trees sat a trellis table with a single chair at the end. In a few minutes, the queen would grace its red tasseled cushion with her tree stump of a bottom. But it was the contents of the table that drew Cap’s attention and made his stomach growl with longing. A feast was spread over the finest white linen—bowls of green and purple grapes, strawberries, golden apples, and glistening black plums; platters of bacon, sausage, and fried potatoes smothered in onions; baskets of bilberry muffins and freshly baked bread.

The aroma of the loaves alone was enough to water Cap’s mouth. But the meal didn’t end there. A cook stood ready before a coal-hot grill to prepare eggs or other fine delicacies at her majesty’s whim. It was enough to get Cap’s blood bubbling hotter than one of the sauces the cook was stirring.

Cap gripped the rope in his hands and gave it a tug, as much to test the soundness of the tie as to vent steam. He was too seasoned a soldier to let his feelings run away with him. Too much was at stake.

No guards patrolled the perimeter. Why should they? This grove was on castle grounds. Who would be crazy enough to penetrate Queen Naryfel’s inner sanctum?

Me, Cap thought, and absently touched the rolled up sack at his waist, held snugly by a rope belt.

A couple of sleepy, slow-footed servants stood near the table, ready to serve or fan. They were probably a holdover from when the queen’s father ruled—kept around, not out of compassion, but because their aging eyes and wits left little possibility for them to spy.

A faint breeze rustled the patchwork rags Cap called clothes. He was high above and to the left of the table. Hidden behind a dense curtain of leaves, he had little fear of detection.

The cook added amber liquid from a bottle to the sauce. Blue and red flames leaped up. He gave the pan a shake and then pulled it off the grill. After a furtive glance around, he tipped the bottle and took a long swig. He was just wiping his lips on his apron, when Queen Naryfel strode into the glade. She had the stature of a pillar. Dark brown hair with a graying stripe along one side fell to powerful shoulders. She might be considered handsome but for the savage growth of black eyebrows above her icy eyes. Everything about her was hard and immovable.

Her steward, a balding man in his forties, walked briskly to keep up with her. A guard followed at a respectful distance.

“Have you squashed them yet?” she asked the steward when she was seated.

The steward paled. With a trembling hand, he reached for her cup, crimson and gilded at the lip.

She slapped his hand away and served herself coffee from an urn. “So, you disappoint me again.”

“They’re a small band,” he replied. “Hardly worth your bother.”

“Let me understand this. An armed resistance—the self-styled Fellowship of the Flame—robs our granaries, waylays travelers of gold and jewelry, steals horses and weapons, and provides sanctuary to our enemies. You call that insignificant?”

The steward sighed. “Isolated attacks. The buzzing of a mosquito.”

“With more than a sting.” She tossed fruit and toast on her plate and began slapping butter on the bread with annoyance. “They freed a man charged with treason from the gallows, or have you forgotten that little stunt?”

His shoulders sagged. “No, your majesty. But you’re solidifying your annexation of Turlia, Farfaeron is about to fall, and tomorrow tonight’s soirée at your country estate will strengthen your hold on the nobles. You’ve never been stronger.”

“No, my foolish little steward, I’m not stronger; I’m a laughingstock in my own kingdom. They exist, and that’s intolerable. I want every last one of them wiped out.”

Overlooking this tableau, Cap gripped the tree limb in anger but pushed the feeling down. Patience and timing were everything for a soldier. The resistance would never admit him if he bungled this.

The steward toyed with a coat button and seemed to consider his words before replying. “They have support among the common folk. People hide them, aid their efforts with food and other supplies.”

“Yes, yes, I know all that. Leave me in peace, and take that fat guard with you.” She waved toward the guard, who indeed was so plump about the middle that, even from his high perch, Cap could see the man’s belt buckle straining at a ponderous belly— the pins holding buckle to belt about to fly from the leather.

The steward bowed and led the guard from the clearing. While the queen ate breakfast, Cap watched the cycle of the portly guard. The man must have been making a circuit of the area. Every few minutes, he passed the top of the trail leading to the breakfast nook. When he was confident the guard was at the farthest distance, Cap rose silently to a squat, gripped the rope, and tested it once more. The other end was fastened to a stout limb, above and extending from the tree’s trunk. He’d tied a heavy chunk of wood at his end so the rope would swing like a pendulum.

He took a last glance behind him, where tall grass held his only hope for escape and led to high cliffs overlooking a strip of beach.

Then he sprang, arcing into the clean morning air.

https://www.amazon.com/Fellowship-Flame-Chronicles-Purpura-Novella-ebook/dp/B08XN72CVC

Rabbit Redux and all that

Every so often (and oftener than you’d think) someone comes up with a post/tweet about mid-20th century “classics”, generally in regards to the growing call to diversity in literature.

As a rule, these posts want to know if we’re going to cancel all this incredible writing and consign it to the ash-heap, just because it isn’t, in the outraged parlance of the now, “politically correct”.

Cancel Culture!

Bookburning!

WHAT WILL THEY BAN NEXT?!?!

These are classics, say the posters. These are timeless – how dare you imply that writers now be held to new and different standards?

But this ignores a question intrinsic to the subject, and that is this: Are they *really* classics?

I mean, we say they are, but most of the books on these lists are not yet a century old. They come from a very specific time and place, and they do not, for the most part, represent very universal themes, because – taking Updike as an egregious example – they mainly deal with the angst and existential concerns of white, middle-class men, and mostly middle-aged American men, at that.

That’s not exactly a majority experience, and for something to really be a classic, it needs to encompass more than one narrow and particular subset of the world’s population. Indeed, it’s important to remember that while poverty and oppression have been hallmarks of western culture for literally hundreds of years, these “classics” from the 20th century are a snapshot of a culture that lasted barely two decades, before conservative fear-mongering and smug voter behavior began to destroy the circumstances that created it.

Writing about a small segment of the population that had all their material needs met, but still fretted because they felt in some way unfulfilled: that is not enough to render something a classic.

Shakespeare is a classic at least partly because he  used quasi-historical themes to explore ideas about love and loyalty, and to comment on political situations that not only were present in his own life, but continue in similar forms today.

One can make the same case for Steinbeck as one would for, say, Dickens: his exploration of Depression-era poverty and the lengths to which those who have will go in order to destroy the have-nots is still incredibly relevant and resonant today.

But Updike? Salinger?

I didn’t feel at all comfortable with Updike forty years ago, and I am even less enamoured of his work today. Salinger…well, there’s a reason why incels since the 70s have been reading about Holden Caulfield like it was the Bible, and those reasons do not redound to Salinger’s credit.

I suspect that if we make the changes necessary to survive as a species into the next century, most of those (male, middle-class, white) authors will fade into obscurity, because the values and way of life they represent will feel as false and as self-serving to white men as they have always felt to women and all the other marginalized peoples.

Maybe, if the right does not utterly destroy the humanities department in every university in the western world, people will still be required to read those books.

But I strongly suspect that both professors and students will not see them as timely and universal classics, but as the remnants of a bygone era, and as examples of what not to write.

We could change the world…

Back when I was kid, cars didn’t even have seatbelts, and people used to brag about driving drunk.

We changed this.

It isn’t that we brought in laws requiring seatbelts, or stiffened the penalties for driving while under the influence.

The laws came later.

What we did was change the majority attitude about those things.

We harnessed the existing media, and we educated ourselves and nearly everyone else around us, until those laws became what we asked – no, we demanded – our governments to enact legislation to reflect our attitudes about these things.

It took dedication.

It took guts and determination on the part of small groups that grew into those majorities.

It took years.

But it worked. It worked so well that probably 90% of the North American world buckles up as soon as they get into their cars, without even thinking. It worked so well that no one even talks about it anymore. People who swore that no matter what the “law” said, they were going to do what they damned well wanted buckle up…because now “not dying in an avoidable fiery car-crash inferno” is, in fact, what they want.

We trained ourselves to want what was best not only for us, but for everyone.

We could do this with all kinds of things we have finally begun to realize is holding us back.

We could train ourselves out of racism.

We could train ourselves out of seeing poor people as not deserving of basic necessities, and we could train ourselves out of treating people in certain job categories as “lesser beings”.

We could train ourselves to treat this planet with respect, instead of pretending it’s an infinite rubbish dump.

And we could do it, do it ALL,  in much less time, and more completely, because we have so many more (and more effective) tools to communicate the messages we need to hear.

In fact, it’s starting to happen, even without even tacit support from our governments, and with far less money, because social media means that more of us have platforms and farther reach beyond our own family/friend circles.

We could save the world.

But time’s running out.

The Monday Muse

You’re a pizza delivery driver who keeps delivering the same order, every Friday at 8 pm, and the money (with a generous tip) is always left in the mailbox. You never see any sign of the occupants.

One night, you decide to stay a little later, doing a bit of paperwork. As you sit in your car, you glance up at the entry way just as the door opens slowly and you see….

Sometimes I really wonder about people…

This came up on my social media, and I am guessing on a lot of other people’s as well:

“Listen up Buttercups! As someone who actually grew up watching PePe LePew (and all those “BAD” Saturday morning cartoons), I never saw Pepe as a rapist or promoting rapist culture. HELL I didn’t even know what a rapist was. I WAS A CHILD!

Let me impart my CHILDHOOD thoughts:

The only reason I ever thought the cat tried to get away from Pepe was because she was in fact, A CAT and he was a SKUNK. (For those of you who are biologically/scientifically  challenged… Skunks and Cats ARE completely different animals.) Skunks also smelled… bad.

I distinctly remember watching and thinking:

If Pepe catches up with her, she’s going to need a bath.

That’s it.

DEAR CANCEL CULTURE:

STOP READING MORE INTO OUR CHILDHOOD CARTOONS, BREAKFAST FOOD ICONS, VEHICLE NAMES, and everything else. No one became a rapist, racist, murderer, animal abuser, or dropper of anvils from watching our vintage Saturday morning cartoons while eating Aunt Jemima pancakes. You are, IN FACT, idiots, looking for attention due to the lack of parental fortitude in YOUR own lives.

You are walking, talking, “grown” infants. Screaming when you don’t get your way resulting in showing the world how truly absurd you are.

How about WE THE PEOPLE cancel YOU because WE are offended by your feckless, pansy ass, stupidity!

If you agree Copy & Paste.”

And I had a response (oh, boy, did I ever) which anyone on here long-term probably can guess at.

But for the many, many writers, artists, and other creatives out there, I’m going to point out one more time that if you agree with the above – if you think that these things have zero effect on young, pliable minds, let alone the attitudes and behaviors of adults – why are you bothering?

We’ll leave aside the fact that this is ridiculously hypocritical posturing, because the same people freaking out about a cartoon character losing his “job” have also been up in arms about seeing commercials that depict families with two dads.

We’ll even leave aside the fact that companies dedicated to pure profit spend literal millions every day on advertising, which would suggest that they think that money is not wasted.

What I really want to know is why you bother to write or draw or dance at all, out there in public, and asking that other people pay for the privilege of seeing your work, if you think it is utterly meaningless and has no effect on their lives, attitudes, or actions?

If it is so trivial that it passes unnoticed into the void, is not your effort simply empty vanity and ego?

I’m not buying it.

Crazy Meme Illogic – or why I’m so mad at my own generation

Old folks: You’ve all seen it.

That scathing rant by some elderly woman because a young grocery clerk scolded her for using plastic bags, and the long list of environmentally friendly things the old lady used to do, but stopped because “all these young people told us to use plastic bags” and so on.

I see you all: smugly nodding and saying to yourself, “Yes. We were right all along, we are so much better than these know-nothing millenials, it’s all THEIR fault!”

And every time I see it, I just stop and throw up a little with the inchoate rage at an entire generation that seems completely unable to comprehend even the most basic facts of time and space.

Take a look at the picture again.How old do you think she is? 70? That looks about right.

So “Dorothy” (that’s the apocryphal pseudonym she’s given in one of the “articles” linked below) was born around 1950.Plastic began replacing paper bags in 1978.

The clerk – that sassy young woman that was so stupidly “superior” and disrespectful to this old lady –she’s probably about 25.

I repeat: plastic bags began replacing paper in the late 70s, which was 42 years ago…when “Dorothy” here was 28 years old.

What? You thought she had been born 70 and remained 70, immaculately preserved in wax and sawdust, until this very day, while as-yet-unborn children demanded she switch from paper to plastic?

Nope.

“Dorothy” was out there making buying decisions, and voting in elections, and writing letters to the editor about conservation (pro OR con)…and raising the people who raised the kids she is claiming are so goddam stupid.

Stop blaming young people for the decisions you made as a young person, and get with the program.

Or shut the hell up and stop sharing and liking these idiotic memes.

Whichever.

http://www.chicagonow.com/…/my-older-generation-didnt…/

https://www.noteabley.com/culture/shame-grocery-store-fb/