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Fun Bad Movie Night

Fun Bad Movie Friday is kinda a tradition at Herkes House, having taken over from SciFi Saturday Night.

(I still mourn the passing of the SyFy Channel, which tried to graft All Things Pro Wrestling onto its lineup and collapsed under its own weight.)

Anyway. Last week we watched John Wick 4, which was shocking in it not-badness.

I mean. There are many things about the John Wick movie franchise that qualify them as Fun Bad Movies, from ridiculous premises, to lack of plot, to absurd impossible action scenes. But JW4 knew what it wanted to be & delivered in style. Brilliant production values in everything from casting & acting to cinematography and sound editing.

It’s a cartoon world, but it feels real. The violence is brutal, but never ever casual or without consequence. And preventing it from affecting bystanders is a critical plot element.

Tonight Spouseman & I watched Fast X. What a contrast. Oof.

A+ for scenery-chewing & nonstop Exploding Car Chase energy, but everything else about it was howling bad. So bad. I would even call it painfully bad, but only because I was laughing so hard at plot-inapproprite moments that my ribs hurt.

I went in expecting it to be atrocious and it didn’t even reach that low bar. Things blow up. People blow up. No one cares unless it’s a character with a speaking role. People as scenery, props, or demonstrations of the villain’s evil nature? Bad in the unfunnest of ways.

And the plot? Multiple times I replayed bits of scenes thinking I’d misunderstood something, but no. Some dialogue literally made no sense. Most of the cast totally owned their gobsawful lines, tho, full credit to them.

There was some goodness. The kickass, badass girlfight scenes were beautifully choreographed, and the movie did give me 10 min or Jason Statham brawling in a tank top & sweats.

And I made cookies while the movie was going. Chocolate chip shortbread squares.

So. Definitely not a total waste of time.

In other news, I’ve got a full scene written in a short story I’ve been pondering since shortly after finishing Sharp Edge. So of course it went bounding off through left field into the weeds the instant I started writing it.

But I have a full scene written, the next sketched out, and a pretty clear idea how I want it to end. If things stay on course, that should be a done story in a week or two. Ever hopeful optimist, that’s me.

The first scene passed its Alpha Reader Approval Test with flying colors (thanks, Spouseman, glad you liked it!) & I will post it on my Patreon for patrons to read next week.

That’s all for now.

Rough Passages

When getting older means gaining superpowers, life gets complicated for everyone.

Heroic grandmothers, courageous Marines, and extraordinary teens: welcome to a reality where every midlife crisis might become a national emergency.

Rough Passages is a contemporary fantasy novel told in eight short stories about five people forever changed by the powers that disrupt their lives.

In bookstores & libraries now.

Amazon (ebook & print) (print)

a selection of non-Amazon ebook vendors

More info here on my website

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I fell on my ass. How’s your week going?

(I’m fine)

I tripped on a curb edge and did a spectacular pratfall on hard concrete last night, on the way home from a delicious dinner at my favorite local Mexican restaurant. (Mia’s Cantina. Tacos & strawberry slushie drinks FTW)

The crash was a fitting cap on a day of radical course changes.

Things started predictably enough, with breakfast on the patio. (I’ve been having all my breakfasts there lately, air quality permitting.) Sunshine, soundtrack of variously crabby/happy/alarmed birds, and happy blooms & butterflies all around. Good times!

First change of course: Outdoors to Indoors. I was settling at the table to get some Quality Writing Work done when the smoke stink descended.

Some near-neighbor keeps leaving their backyard firepit/ barbeque/ chimneria uncovered so the tiniest breeze blows the ash everywhere, which is fine for them but ruins other people’s ability to enjoy their yards. (NO IT IS NOT “CANADIAN WILDFIRE SMOKE.” The problem is confined to the middle of my block & the blocks on either side, and none of my immediate neighbors are the culprits. But I digress. Of course I do.)

Course Change the second & Third

Up at my boring office desk, I unpacked a story I shelved back in, oh, February of 2022 because it still didn’t have a plot after 5 scenes. It’s a character study that doesn’t fit into a short story or novel rhythm, and this was my fourth attempt to give it a direction. So far I’m liking the new material I added. There might be a resolution of sorts within a scene or two.

Lunchtime walk turned into TWO walks & a trip to the mechanic to drop off a car for an oil change. Surprise exercise is always good, right? It was a good day for walking, but I was still glad to get to my ‘brar shift where I would get to sit for a couple of hours.


Course Change the Fourth

Half an hour into my shift, electrical hijinks started happening. (Lights flickering, computers restarting, phones going offline for about 10min, and so on) culminating in no HVAC, no elevators, and only half the lights up in the public areas.

One of the staff soon reported that a transformer nearby went *POP.*

The next hour was exciting, more for the intrepid and awesome in-charge staff than for me. (I got to make Power Failure Announcements. Why, yes, we do have a script for that.) With a resolution time of 7:45PM or later, the library shut down for the evening.

Leaving me with an extra two & a half hours free! It could’ve just been another basic evening at home, but Spouseman suggested (half joking) Mia’s for a celebration supper.

And so we did.

Which is how I came to be tripping over a curb at dusk instead of being at my desk in the ‘brar, or at home watching television.

Lots of flailing happened, and that weird time-slowing perception thing, which let me get positioned to minimize impact damage. Result: bruised dignity and a minor hamstring/muscle pull in the leg I didn’t land on.

“Lots of flailing, no major damage,” is a decent summary for most of my days, when it comes right down to it.

That’s all until later.

The latest book

The Sharp Edge of Yesterday

A mother on the run from her criminal past can’t escape the dangerous superpower developing inside her own body.

Grace Reed just wants to be left alone with her daughters, her small business and her quiet suburban life.

Fate has something bigger planned for all of them.

A contemporary fantasy novel about coming of age in middle age, The Sharp Edge Of Yesterday is in bookstores & libraries now.

Amazon (ebook & print) (print)

a selection of non-Amazon ebook vendors

More info here on my website

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Bad Apple, Bad Saying

“One bad apple ruins the barrel.” That’s how I learned it. Language shift being a real thing, now people say things like, “You don’t throw out the whole barrel if you find one bad apple.”

This has been getting under my skin in the worst way for a long time, because that is REALLY bad advice. The more I think about it, the worse it bugs me.

The absurdity of it gets obvious if you apply the same advice to any other kind of fruit. Like, oh, berries. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries — take your pick.

When I buy a little container of berries, I check it over closely, because, you know, fruits do go bad, and there are a lot of little fruits in the package. If everything in the container looks good, it comes home with me & goes in the fridge.

Then Life Happens & I forget the fruit is there for a day or five. (HI, ADHD) Eventually I always I rediscover the container and think, “Oo, fresh berries, yum!” It will come as no surprise that some of the berries are no longer Good Berries by then. One or more always gets fuzzy w/mold & mushily overripe, even though they all looked great when I got them.

Do I throw out the whole container because there’s a fuzzy berry? Hell, no. Fresh berries are expensive, plus my taste buds at that point is now primed for some delicious tart-sweet goodness. But I’m not about to remove the obviously fuzzy berry and uncritically dig into the rest, either. That path leads to a mouthful of bitter, disgusting goop.

Bad apple, bad berries. Yuck either way.

Salvaging a container of berries after one’s gone off is a tricky salvage operation involving close inspection and deep cleaning. Rot spreads from points of contact, and it’s often not obvious until I look close. Sometimes I have to discard fruit two or three degrees of separation from the Bad Berry before I can be sure what I put in my mouth will be wholesome under the surface.

(Why yes, this is a post about law enforcement & politics & media. Sorta. It’s definitely an IMHO rantlet.)

Anyway, every time someone in a position of authority misbehaves, out come the assurances that the criminal/bigoted/unfit person was an exception, that the organization or system which produced the problem is perfectly healthy since one specific Bad Berry has been identified and removed.

Only that isn’t how it works at all.

Makes me wonder if the pundits who like to toss around those “It’s only one bad apple” dismissals have ever eaten fresh fruit in their lives.

Or if maybe, just maybe, they’re giving bad advice on purpose because they’re Bad Berries themselves.

Food for thought, maybe.

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IMHO post: Blue curtains & reading into writing

IMHO really meaning In my NOT SO humble opinion ***

The main flaw in the way HS English classes approach lit crit lies not in the nature of textual analysis, but in the way schools measure mastery of subjective topics. If tests & grade metrics choose A Right Answer ™, interpretative reading dies.

The question of metaphor & theme has no one answer in the real world. What I’m saying is, IMHO the following meme sucks.

This unfortunately now-classic joke Venn diagram about English teachers & blue curtains has only two circles. Reality has a hundred. A thousand. There are as many intersecting circles as there are people with different interpretations.


I found this gem on tumblr and loved it so much I’m putting it here so I will never lose it. The link in the meme-takedown image takes you to the full analysis on

I found similar takedown on tumblr, although I can’t find the original to link to (I AM SO SORRY) from user kendallroy:

idk who needs to hear this but when your english teacher asks you to explain why an author chose to use a specific metaphor or literary device, it’s not because you won’t be able to function in real-world society without the essential knowledge of gatsby’s green light or whatever, it’s because that process develops your abilities to parse a text for meaning and fill in gaps in information by yourself, and if you’re wondering what happens when you DON’T develop an adult level of reading comprehension, look no further than the dizzying array of examples right here on tumblr dot com.

this post went from 600 to 2400 notes in the time it took me to write 3 emails. i’m already terrified for what’s going to happen in there

k but also, as an addendum, the reason we study literary analysis is because everything an author writes has meaning, whether it was intentional or not, and their biases and agendas are often reflected in their choice of language and literary devices and so forth! and that ties directly into being able to identify, for example, the racist and antisemitic dogwhistles often employed by the right wing, or the subconscious word choices that can unintentionally illustrate someone’s bias or blind spot. LANGUAGE HAS WEIGHT AND MEANING!

the way we communicate is a reflection of our inner selves, and that’s true regardless of whether it’s a short story or a novel or a blog post or a tweet. instead of taking a piece of writing at face value and stopping there, assuming that there is no deeper meaning or thought behind the words on the page, ask yourself these two questions instead:

  1. what is the author trying to say?
  2. what does the author maybe not realize they’re saying?

because the most interesting reading of any piece of literature, imho, usually occupies the space in between those questions.


IMHO, the author referenced in the original blue curtain meme may have just written blue curtains to match the wallpaper, but that doesn’t invalidate anyone else’s interpretation of a deeper meaning. The whole point of analysing writing is to discuss, share ideas and look at things from other perspectives. NOT TO FIND A RIGHT ANSWER AND FORCE EVERYONE TO ACCEPT IT.

***TLDR: this post is really a very longwinded way of reminding myself that people who see VERY different things in my writing than what I think I put into it are fully, entirely justified in their interpretations.

And I am fully, entirely justified in disagreeing with them, too. (I love posting rants on holiday weekends when I know no one’s really reading blogs.)

And now for a book some people think is great and others think has characters who are too flawed & “aren’t given enough agency at the start,” as if a) agency is a gift & not a hard-fought right and b) that wasn’t a real problem women have to solve in the real world too. Harumph. Anyway.

The Sharp Edge of Yesterday

A mother on the run from her criminal past can’t escape the dangerous superpower developing inside her own body.

Grace Reed just wants to be left alone with her daughters, her small business and her quiet suburban life.

Fate has something bigger planned for all of them.

A contemporary fantasy novel about coming of age in middle age, The Sharp Edge Of Yesterday is in bookstores & libraries now.

Amazon (ebook & print) (print)

a selection of non-Amazon ebook vendors

More info here on my website

link to original penguin feature image on flickr