Friday, June 26, 2015

Lunchtime Life Collection: Supreme Court Edition

Two MAJOR rulings this week

  The ACA subsidies stand. Six million people get to keep their insurance. Can the GOP just STOP now? 59 attempts to destroy this thing. No proposal of their own, because this was THEIR proposal. It's starting to look as if all they want to do is hurt people. Not a good message.

 The Court ruled 5-4 on Obergefell v. Hodges, that the 14th Amendment requires same-sex marriage to be legal in all 50 states. Kennedy wrote the decision, joined by Kagan, Ginsberg, Sotomayor and Breyer. Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas dissented, Thomas at the expense of invalidating his own marriage, which is only legal because the Court said so in Loving v. Virginia

Patrick McNee, dead at 93. Rest well, Mr. Steed. And may there be an endless supply of umbrellas.

Around the World:

Abortion is illegal in Poland. Polish women must travel out of the country to obtain one. However, Women on Waves is experimenting with drone delivery of mifepristone. They're talking about using it in other countries, like Ireland. Maybe have some fly in from Canada for us, please?

Weirdness Abounds:
Baton Rouge Urban Legends. Spanish moon and the Wild Mouse and Frenchtown Road.

Rolling Hills Asylum. Where you con't check out, and you so cannot leave, even if you're dead. 

 Fun Stuff:

  The AO3 (Archive Of Our Own) tag generator. If your life was fanfic, what would it be tagged? For the record, mine is "sappy therapy spanking." What's yours?

 The Teletubbies, broadcast from The Village IMO, had a sun with a baby's face in it. Jonner always looked like the Sun baby, and still does. What She looks like now.

  Gods demons and patron saints...of writing. I am quite familiar with Titivillus, lord of typographical errors, delinquent letters, and superfluous language.

  A Gentleman's Surprise Chair. Comfortable, stylish and great for hiding the liquor, playing cards and French Postcards.

The Accent Placer. It says I'm from Minneapolis, Spokane or Salt Lake. What I really have is my mother's Nebraska accent, with a lot of TV overlay.

A couple of useful things

  100 legal sites to download books. This is public domain, folks. this is what our current copyright laws want to destroy.

  Ways to hide ugly parts of your house. Some of these are silly, but others look useful. I like the stone side on the tub.

 Your song of the day:

Monday, June 15, 2015

SFRB Summer Cafe Dystopia: Welcome to the DisUnited Stated of America

Hi and welcome to the SFR Brigade Summer Cafe. I am Angelia Sparrow, your server.

The Inlinkz

And now, for the Main Attraction

When I started writing the DisUnited States books, also called the Eight Thrones Cycle, I really had no idea what I was doing with the food. I knew real food was going to be less common among the working and middle class, in certain countries, something only those who grew it or those who could afford it would have. This is a world where the whole country broke down for over a year, distribution chains were disrupted and population centers starved.

One character who was a toddler during DisUnification, snaps at his teacher, My first memory is hunger. Crying with it. And my mother holding me and reading to me because she had books but no food to give me.”

 Nick, from Nikolai Revanant, lives on protein bars and fake coffee while he's a document clerk. I extrapolated some from current trends in food (this was before Soylent got started) and some attitudes (if you do not work, you should not eat) and came up with People Chow.

Glad Hands:
"He dug a package of WorkingMan Chow out of his locker. Purina, seeing the market for a human version of their pet foods, had developed several varieties some years back. WomanChow had more iron and calcium, KidChow had more fat. WorkingMan had more protein and enough calories to make two pouches adequate for a man who did physical labor. A lot of prisons had contracts with the company, since it saved them space, money and labor. Rumor had it Purina marketed a slave kibble in the C.S., which had all the nutrition and none of the taste. Chuck liked the chow for the
same reason everyone else did, because it was cheaper than real food and easy to transport. His favorite was the beef stew flavor. He ate real food when he had a refrigerator and a stove. But when he was on the road, the chow served him fine."

And everyone I talk to about this doesn't see it as amazing and revolutionary. They think it's awful. The idea of replacing food with crunchy nourishment nuggets appalls them. I'm a former trucker. I would LOVE cheap, nutritious, good-tasting food that doesn't require stopping, heating or utensils. It would be splendid for traveling and conventions, for rough nights when I'm on deadline and the family wants to eat, for days when my current job requires a lot of driving on a tight schedule.

But we have an emotional relationship with food. Just the smell of a certain dish can make years and miles melt away. And disconnecting people from each other, by making eating a solitary bodily function, like toileting, is one of the ways some of the more repressive countries operate. If you aren't emotionally connected to your family or friends, there's no reason not to sell them out, no reason to to turn them in for violating whatever law or moral code.

That was when I realized the countries also use food as a means of social control.
Pacifica and the US have very liberal social safety nets and treat food as a human right. They also have socialized medicine and see a balanced diet as cutting costs on that front.

The CS and Lone Star, on the other hand, withhold food from segments of their population, trying to eradicate them without stooping to official genocide.

When the CS enters a food crisis, later in the series, charity in the form of Chow is given out by the government through the churches. Because people wouldn't take food from the government, and church attendance is legally mandatory.

On the other hand, Heartland makes a fetish of home-cooking. A good wife is one who can cook. Baking contests, chili competitions, home-churned ice-cream socials, canning contests and bake-offs are as socially mandatory as the church attendance and civic pride. A wife who can't cook is a disgrace. This too, is a means of social control. It reinforces gender roles and limits acceptable pursuits for women.

The books of the DisUnited States
Nikolai Revanant
Glad Hands
Like an Iron Fist

And just because it is my summer favorite, and totally illegal in the CS, where I live. Besides, what Sparrow could resist it?

Dirty Pirate Popsicle

2 1/2 cups slightly flat Coke
1/3 cup Captain Morgan Spiced Rum
1/3 cup Kahlua

Place all ingredients in a large glass and stir to combine. Pour mixture into popsicles mold.

 Freeze for about 2 hours or until mixture starts to solidify enough to hold a popsicle stick upright. Insert popsicle sticks and finish freezing popsicles overnight. To release popsicles run hot water on the outside of popsicle molds for 2-3 seconds.

The SF Romance Brigade

And finally, I'm offering an electronic copy of Nikolai Revenant to all the readers who leave a comment about their favorite/most memorable food in a dystopian world. (You do have to leave a valid e-mail to get this) Or with their favorite summer recipe.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

My Sexy Saturday:Our Sexy Galaxy

 In these stories, many of them take place on other worlds, in a spaceship or right here on Earth with a sexy alien. Again, we leave the particulars up to you since you do it so, so well. Remember, our sexiness can happen anywhere, anytime, day or night. People fall in love in many different ways. It could be on a date, at a school dance, on a hike on Alpha Centauri, with the boy or girl from the next planet, just anywhere two or sometimes more people or beings are drawn together because of that feeling called love.

"The Arcology Job" is a sequel to Heart's Bounty.

When Hevik's ex-wife, parents, brother and daughter are targeted for death, red-tagged, he and his fiance, Miho, have to stage a rescue, whether the family is ready or not.

Your Seven Sexy Paragraphs:

Hevik swallowed hard and removed his earpiece. He remembered holding hands with Melina as they stepped into this door together the first time after their bonding. He remembered carrying Tarasha in, when she was the size of a data pad. Every evening for ten years, he had walked to this door, paused and opened it.

Now he raised a hand to knock. The sounds of a scuffle came to him through the metal of the door.

“Vilan, what are you doing?” The fear in Melina’s voice erased all doubt from his mind. He didn’t know who Vilan was or what he was doing, but it didn’t matter.

Hevik hit the door override on the top of the frame and stepped into the apartment, drawing his gun as he did.

“It’s a lot of money.” The slim man with his back to the door was trying to sound reasonable, but the kitchen knife in his hand gave lie to that.

Melina saw Hevik and gasped. Vilan turned and looked, and then raised the knife. “Three tags instead of two.”

Hevik shot him without hesitating. He looked at Melina. “Honey, I’m home.” 

The other Sexy People

Friday, June 5, 2015

Five Influence Friday: Power in the Blood

Buy Link:

Oren Stolt understands the natural order better than most people. Vampires prey on humans and Undying keep the vampires' numbers in check.

Until now.

Now, across the United States, vampire numbers are exploding, thanks to a new church. The Tabernacle of the Firstfruits preaches a Risen Lord and invites believers to follow Him in death and resurrection... quite literally.

In Memphis, the church is about to host its first conference, with an eye to converting the whole world to the vampiric gospel.

And all that stands between humanity and eternal night is Oren, his kids, and a thin line of insane immortals.

Five Influences:

Many of the influences on Power in the Blood are locational


The motel is still there, but the restaurant and canoe rental have been turned into a scrap yard. This is where the book opens.

The Lego table lay on its side in the restaurant flowerbed, a few of the plastic bricks clinging to its four-color top, the broken glass around it just catching the first glints of light as the new sun came over the ridge. The rider parked his motorcycle beside it and swung off, leaving his helmet on the bike seat. He paced the scene, careful not to leave tracks, especially since the attackers had left none when they ate the patrons of the little restaurant.

The young man counted six dead inside—a fair crowd for an early Thursday breakfast. The whole air felt like vampires: cold and ugly, without the proper sense of growing that an Ozark spring should have in early May. He gave a mirthless smile. He was starting to sound like Jacob.

A small school bus, its grille and most of its glass missing, mocked him from the junkyard by the defunct canoe rental place. The other three victims, all children, slumped bonelessly on the cracked seats, their heads lolling on shredded throats. Great—this crew had a sense of humor. He turned away, ignoring the building's tattered bunting and last summer's faded flags as they fluttered raggedly in a dawn breeze.

He ignored the dingy motel—its fresh paint not quite covering its age as it advertised air conditioning and color TV—since no odor of blood came from it, and mounted up. It was still three hours' hard riding to Memphis, so he kicked it into gear and started out slowly, in deference to the winding mountain roads.


This abandoned house stands at the end of East Street in Memphis. It's huge and gorgeous (up close) so I chose it for Beth's Lair.

The faded pink stucco walls and their blank, boarded windows gave way to the nightclub inside. The music didn't make it out of the building, thanks to very modern soundproofing. Goth human regulars, young vampires, and others—tourists, thrill seekers and a knot of giggling girls who looked much too young and huddled near the bar—twisted and cavorted in the darkness of the ancient ballroom, illuminated by flashing strobes and weak red bulbs.

Peryton made his way through the crowd, half-dancing, half-dodging, to a door on the far side. He escaped the pounding noise of the club and made his way along the hallway to a large, black-painted door. Some people had no taste. He knocked twice.

3) Megachurches are huge in Memphis. We have several, and Tabernacle of the First Fruits rents them all for their big conference.

This statue, officially called "Liberty in Christ," more commonly referred to as "Our Lady of Manifest Destiny," stands outside the World Overcomers Church, one of the places the Firstfruiters rented.

4) Our Vampires are Different.  TV tropes is a giant black hole which can devour DAYS if you're not careful. But this time, it's right. 
The vampires require blood. They are vulnerable to fire and sunlight. But they don't have religious hang-ups. They're born-again, Post-Millennialist Christians, working to convert the whole world to the gospel of the Risen Lord and bring about the Second Coming.

"Good evening. Welcome to the Firstfruits Tabernacle, where we serve a Risen Lord!"

Several "amens" rose from the front pews.

"Through the Blood of Jesus, I am redeemed out of the hand of the devil. Through the Blood of Jesus, all my sins are forgiven. The Blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, is cleansing me now and continually from all sin. Through the Blood of Jesus, I am justified, made righteous, just as if I had never sinned. Through the Blood of Jesus, I am sanctified, made holy, set apart to God. Through the Blood of Jesus, I am made a firstfruit of the Resurrection!"

The energy of the crowd seemed to shift as Oren listened. The uncomfortable social situation had become a family reunion, and a kind of ecstasy crept over the faces of those near him. He saw a couple of people down in front lift their hands, as if expecting the Blood of Jesus to rain down on them from the ceiling.

5) League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Avengers, Waiting for the Galactic Bus and other hero combination pieces.
The Undying come from all walks of life, all time periods. Mahshid is the daughter of a Persian glue-maker around 4000 BCE.  Samil is an Issacharite warrior who marched in the armies of King David and fell to a Hittite spear. Jacob was a Spanish monk ca 1400 CE. The Kid was born in 1865. Anne Winthrop was hanged in Plymouth for a witch. Marcus would be having his 35th birthday this year, if he hadn't died two years ago.

More famous faces populate the ranks of the Undying. 

Gilgamesh wreaks havoc among the First-fruiters.
He watched one mountain of a man, heavily chained, brought out. The handler beckoned Oren's boys over. He eavesdropped a little, enough to hear the twins put in charge of Gilgamesh himself. Oren wasn't sure if he walked in the real world or among legends tonight. His Tolkien came back to him, and he remembered he could do both at once

Jean Baptiste De Lasalle heads the Council of Eternity
Genghis Kahn
Arthur Conan Doyle
"Arthur, good to see you." Samil reached up from where he sat in a wheelchair, his half-regenerated legs incapable of carrying him into battle. He shook the hand of a hawk-faced man whose features would mark him as English anywhere. His comfort with modern attire led Oren to believe the man was probably not King Arthur, come back to save his country in direst emergency, although he wouldn't be surprised one way or the other.

"Samil, old man. Got shredded, eh? Nasty bit of a nuisance, that." The accent was pure gaslight-and-hansom era, familiar from old afternoon movies, not as sharp as modern English. Arthur tamped and lit his pipe, and then waited as the vans unloaded. "It was quite a trip across the pond with a cargo hold full of loonies."

And Joshua:
A man who appeared no older than his mid-thirties, wearing a blue chambray shirt and jeans, came up to stand beside him. "Mr. Stolt. Pleasure to be going in with you. They briefed the saner ones on the plane, and us already awake ones in a general meeting." His accent resembled Samil's, and his features bore the same regional stamp. He looked up at the church and down at the machete in his hand, sighing.
"They won't listen. No one ever did. Not the apostles afterward. Not Paul or Augustine or Luther. Not any of them. They have made me what they need me to be, as everyone does. I am become the justification of their actions. Besides, if I stroll in looking like this, who would believe me?" He gestured at the blue-collar worker clothing.

He had a point. No one was going to buy a short-haired Jesus who looked like he should be carrying a lunch-bucket and a stainless steel thermos.

The last was a calculated risk. But he fits with the mythology of the world I have created, and I've been told by Christian readers that I handled him in a way that was both respectful and in character. (I should hope. One should always write flatteringly of an ex with whom one is on good terms)

Five Influences.
Enjoy the Vampire Apocalypse