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I'll be doing a TV interview Tuesday

Got a haircut. Trimmed my beard. Died my beard. Yeah, I'm as ready as I can get.

I'm going to be on TV! Specifically a program called Arts In Focus, which airs on PBS39 in Fort Wayne. Here's a link to their previous Arts In Focus profiles:


They contacted me after I sent out a press release about Coming Attractions, and said they'd heard a lot about my books. I took that to mean they got all my previous press releases. 😃

So far as I can tell I'll be their first author interviewed, which means I'll also be their least photogenic subject. I've been watching other episodes, where they've featured photographers, painters, dancers, woodworkers, glass artists, and confectionary artists--which I learned means making yummy sweets that also look good. Often the subjects are shown producing their art, which is really cool.

I'm going to ... talk. Or maybe they'll film me typing and reading, as Eric Olson did over on ABC21. Yes, writing is an art, but unlike those other arts, it's not a spectator sport. So we'll see how it goes ... maybe between now and then I can come up with an interpretive writer's dance?

Eric thought reading my own book is so much fun to watch!

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Sometimes You're Just a Foot From Trouble

(Note: This was written before I pulled a back muscle at the beginning of a recent vacation week, leading to several days curled on the couch in a fetal position. That and my annual winter sickness are all unrelated, unless you count them toward proof that, at some point, I unknowingly broke a mirror.


All I wanted to do was pee.

When you get to be middle aged, that kind of thing becomes very important. Some people wake up at night thinking, "Did I leave the oven on?" or "Will my career ever take off?" or "Did I hear a clown in the closet?" Men over fifty wake up thinking, "Great, my bladder is full. Again."

This can be dangerous, especially if you're in that deep sleep mode. Luckily I've worked third shift for years, and gained experience in ... well, let's call it "sleep-pee". Sleep-pee people can do what I've done hundreds of times: Get out of bed, navigate the stairs, go to the bathroom, climb back up, and get into bed again, all without really waking up. It's ingrained, like a kidney stone.

But sometimes mindless habit can get you into trouble.

I was particularly sleep-pee this time, but somehow managed to make it downstairs. Yes, I hit the toilet: Despite my incompetence at sports, this is one area where I have good aim. I made it back up the stairs, or so I assume, since I really don't remember--but chances are I didn't climb up the side of the house and go through a window.

Now, my bed has been in the same spot for over twenty years. It's an air mattress, but it's set inside a frame made to hold the weight of a waterbed. The side board is very, very solid.

Sometimes I forget that.

What happened next, I'll never know for sure. Maybe my balance was effected by the sinus  medication I'd been taking. Maybe I was just more asleep then usual, even for me. Maybe the dog was on the floor, and I unconsciously tried to maneuver around him. He does that.

Whatever it was, I didn't just climb into bed. Instead I drew back my right foot and slammed it forward, like Charlie Brown trying to kick that elusive football. My sleep-pee brain apparently thought I was two feet further from the bed than I was.

This, incidentally, was my right foot. Arthritis showed up there a few years ago, and my right big toe is already in pain more often than not.

This new pain was not addition: It was multiplication.

The kind of pain that comes from an attempted karate kick by someone with no knowledge of martial arts.

And my toenail ... well, you don't need to know all the details.

Emily was sound asleep, having not developed a middle-aged bladder. As I crumpled over onto the bed, I heard her murmur, "That sounds like it hurt--are you okay?"

I tried to answer, but from face down on the pillow could only make a high, wheezing sound. After about twenty minutes I was able to roll over, by which time she'd gone right back to sleep and only vaguely remembered hearing a noise.

The dog came to check on me, but didn't volunteer to help.

The next day, after seeing the black and blueness of my sleep-pee slip, I did an inventory. In addition to my foot, I'd put my hip out and pulled my lower back muscles. (Say--come to think of it, maybe there was a delayed relation.) My left shoulder and upper arm ached, probably because of windmilling on my way down. I could walk, kind of, while making a little whining sound, but I didn't really want to.

And then I healed. Okay, I'm fast forwarding, but there was some prescription pain medicine in the cabinet and, as a result, I don't remember some of the healing process.

All because my bladder was full. Again.

I know you're looking for some kind of moral to this story, but all I have is "get a bedroom on the same floor as the bathroom"--and even that didn't help me here. I suppose I could also advise you not to be middle aged.

But it beats the alternative.

"So, how close did Mark get to major injury?"

"About a foot!"

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Movie Review: Captain Marvel

At  last, a superhero movie starring a woman! Again.

I've mentioned before that I'm not a fan of politics in movies, including gender politics. I liked 1992's Buffy the Vampire Slayer despite its imperfections; I didn't like 1984's Supergirl despite loving the character. Still, you have to consider that the actual first female superhero movie, Supergirl, was a box office bomb. Could it be male fans just couldn't handle it back then? Maybe.

Just the same, my criteria for a great movie includes only: Do I love it? That's it.



From that standpoint, Captain Marvel is a great movie. 

Yes, if you're looking for female empowerment it's there in spades, but mostly in a below the surface iceberg kind of way that doesn't interfere with the fun. Brie Larson plays Vers, who's fighting on the side of an alien race called the Kree against the aggressive, awful, and certainly evil looking Skrulls. When a mission goes badly Vers finds herself stranded on the backward planet C-53, otherwise known as Earth in the 90s. There, while trying to hunt down the Skrulls, Vers stumbles across a young SHIELD bureaucrat named Nick Fury. 

They're working undercover; Fury even took his eye patch off.


From here on, Captain Marvel is at its best as a buddy comedy/adventure, with Vers and Fury working together to identify the Skrulls, who can shape-shifting into anyone. There are twists--one of them huge--and callouts to the comics and other movies along the way, while the amnesiac Vers also begins to uncover facts about her previous life.

There was some concern about Larson's ability to play Captain Marvel (she never goes by that name in the film), due largely to her youth, especially when we find out she's been a warrior for many years. It's baseless: Larson does a fine job, even holding her own against Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury. Jackson gets de-aged thanks to movie magic, which makes me wonder if I shouldn't get into acting now that I can be thirty again. 

See, you know the Skrulls are the bad guys, 'cause they're ugly, and green, and have pointed ears. Like Vulcans.


The other actors also do a fine job, including Jude Law as the leader of the Kree battle force, Annette Bening as Dr. Wendy Lawson, and Lashana Lynch as a former fighter pilot--the latter two figure into Vers' past. It was great seeing Clark Gregg again as Agent Coulson, this time as a green young agent in a sadly small part. Then there's the cat. Don't miss the cat.

Captain Marvel has the usual great special effects and action sequences, and it's fun to look back to 1995 and see what's changed since then. Although for me the opening sequences labored to grab my attention, the movie more than made up for it as it went along.

My rating:

Entertainment value: 4 out of 4 M&Ms. I enjoyed it even more than most Marvel movies, and that's going some. You can't beat a superhero movie that takes its world seriously while applying a nice layer of humor.

Oscar Potential: 2 out of 2 M&Ms. There's nothing wrong with Captain Marvel from a quality standpoint, but it's a superhero movie. You're not likely to see much Oscar attention for those now that Black Panther's done. Unless they do a Black Panther/Captain Marvel crossover, of course.

I'd watch that.

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