My Dad isn’t here to spend Father’s Day with me. He died on May 6th, at the age of 94. This past Tuesday, we buried him in his native North Carolina mountains, after a funeral at which I delivered the eulogy. So, in honor of Father’s Day, here’s what I decided to tell people about my Dad:
That’s me on the blanket. My father is the one who’s obviously old enough to be my father.
The topic of today’s lecture is Snell’s Law. Snell’s Law describes the relationship between the angle of incidence of a light wave as it passes through a transparent medium, and the resulting refraction of that light. Which is a fancy way of telling you why sunlight looks different when you see it from the bottom of a swimming pool–because the light comes through water and twists and bends before you see it. Which is another way of saying that the way things look depends an awful lot on what you’ve come through before you see them.
Col. Charles Edwin Wilson Sr., US Air Force Retired, Physicist, Engineer, Teacher and researcher… my Daddy… came through a lot. And it definitely shaped how things looked to him.
My mother, my sister Susan and me (the one in the highchair), discussing Proust’s influence on literature, circa 1966.
Yesterday was my mother’s 90th birthday. I had intended to dust off a biography I’d written of her about eight years ago, and share parts of that. It was written for our local newspaper in Yancey County, NC, and it celebrated the 20th Anniversary of a scholarship she and my father had established. That scholarship encouraged County high school graduates to study what we now call the STEM fields.
As I tried to re-work it, that article just seemed too dry and cold to describe my mother. She’s a pretty amazing person, and a list of career accomplishments doesn’t really sum her up. So I decided to start from scratch, which brings me in a day after her 90th birthday. But, hey, a 90th birthday should be celebrated for more than a day anyway, shouldn’t it?
My mother was born Elizabeth Evelyn Briggs on December 7th, 1926. Back then, it wasn’t Pearl Harbor Day. That attack happened on her 15th birthday. Her family called her Evelyn. Most of her aunts, uncles and cousins actually didn’t realize her first name was “Elizabeth.”
I wrote this article on pelvic pain a while back, and was waiting for the right time to share. Since I missed International Men’s Day this past Saturday, now seemed like the time.
Because I’m tired of seeing a walnut here.
Prudery and Squeamishness are two things I don’t have much patience with.
Okay, I’m squeamish about having things touch my eyes, and snakes still make my skin tingle. I don’t care to look at open, oozing wounds or dismembered bodies. Or most of the photos on Internet ads captioned, “Do this one weird thing to get healthy!” That’s what I would call normal, healthy squeamishness. We should be uncomfortable with things that could be dangerous or harmful.
But being so uncomfortable about the parts of our bodies that go inside our underwear, to the point that we don’t know about or receive the health care we need, is just plain stupid. And it grows not only out of childhood prejudice that boobs and butts, ding dongs and hoohas are “gross,” it grows out of the repressed, anti-sexual prudery brought to us by the Brits who had the biggest influence over our nation’s culture from the beginning, and haven’t let go yet.
Donald Trump is the Anti-Christ. If he is elected, America is over.
Hillary Clinton is the only other option. If you do not vote for Hillary, America is over.
I do not agree with either of these points, but, for a few hundred words, let’s live in a world where they are gospel truth, divinely revealed, handed down from the mount, and, of course, thoroughly fact-checked and proved bullshit-free.
While it astounds me that American citizens would complacently accept such a reality (addressed in my post here), it is the narrative for about half of us, it seems.
So I have to ask, if Hillary Clinton really is the competent candidate I’m told she is; if the Democratic Party really is the friend to The People that it claims to be; if Trump’s nomination really is proof that the GOP has lost cohesion and isn’t going to be with us in any form we recognize…
Then why isn’t our one candidate trying to adapt and make herself more palatable to the entire electorate? Why run an adaptation of Bernie Sanders’s socialist-inspired platform, munged with W. Bush’s imperialist agenda, at such a time? Why make extremism our only option?
I wasn’t going to watch it. Ever since the (pathetically weak) Season Six finale of The Walking Dead last Spring, it’s been clear that the show was determined to re-enact the storyline that made me stop reading the comic book. I therefore vowed that I would skip the Season Seven premiere, read about what happened on Facebook, and then decide if I wanted to watch.
But my wife Renee and my son Christian wanted to watch, so I grabbed a beer and a stack of comic books, and said, “Okay, I’ll be in the room with you.” Before the show started, we had our weekly Facetime session with my son, Ethan, who now lives in South Carolina. He wasn’t sure if he was going to watch, but, since we were, he fired up his AMC app and got ready to join the fun. Understand that the four of us have been Walking Dead fans since the series first aired. In Ethan’s case, he’d read the comics for a couple of years before that.
We signed off with Ethan and turned on the show.
My promise to be in the room lasted 21 minutes, including commercials. When Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s character chose his victim and lashed out with the first strike of his stupid, “named” murder weapon, and then began to recite his character’s sickening words from The Walking Dead comic book, issue #100, I left the room.
I haven’t moved my entire library of old blogs from LiveJournal to StevenHWilson.com, but here’s one from back in 2012 that’s relevant tonight. The Season Premiere of The Walking Dead was a shot-by-shot adaptation of issue 100 of the comic series. It seems fandom is split on whether this was a good or bad show. I made my decision four years ago, and I stick by it. The words I wrote then, when I stopped reading the comic, apply tonight, as I stop watching the show. And here they are
I try to avoid negative reviews of works. This time, though, I think there’s a lot of intellectual meat in a discussion of a work I had a very bad reaction to, and why that same work has been overwhelmingly popular. Here we go. Below are vague spoilers. No names mentioned, but some events described.
I’ve been behind on the graphic novel series The Walking Dead. Way behind. Volume 17 is due out next month, and, as of last week, I had read through Volume 8. Ordinarily, I’m not normally one of those comic readers who waits for the graphic novel to come out. There was no such thing as a “graphic novel” when I was growing up. Comic books came out monthly or bi-monthly, and you read each issue as soon as you had it in your hands. There was no waiting for the trade paperback edition to come out a week after the last part of the story was published, and stories were not designed to flow better as 144-page novels than they did as 24-page chapters. Now the creators are so conscious of the release of six or twelve issues at a time that reading a single issue seems almost pointless, like reading a page of a novel once a month. Nothing happens, and you lose the thread of the story.
Recently, at New York Comic Con, prolific author Peter David was asked a question about Romani representation in comics. As he explains on his own blog, the question triggered in him a memory of seeing a deformed child while visiting Romania, and being told that that child was deliberately deformed by the parents. By Peter’s own admission, the painful memory caused him to lose his temper with the questioner. He has apologized, and that apology I know was sincere, because I know Peter.
I’ve known Peter David for almost 30 years. We’re not best friends. We don’t call each other every week, or even make a point of having dinner when we’re at the same con. But we’ve done countless panels together, I’ve acted in plays he’s written, our families hang out together, and, more, we’re part of a very old network of Star Trek fans and creators whose number is shrinking. That’s a kind of family tie for a lot of us. Peter is a talented author, an opinionated curmudgeon, and an obviously loving and committed father and grandfather. The idea of a child being hurt clearly has a powerful impact on him.
I wrote this piece prior to the release of Donald Trump’s coarse remarks, made while he thought his mic was off, revealing his base attitudes towards women. I’m not a bit shocked by his remarks, because I knew that this was exactly the kind of person he was. But I understand that, for a lot of people, these remarks were the last straw. They serve as a wake-up call, making people realize that this guy just should not even be allowed to run for the office of President. I’ve re-read and tweaked my piece. I still believe in what I said, because, again, I always saw Trump as a misogynist asshole. The stakes are higher now, though, because the revelation of Trump’s “sins” was timed in just such a way as to discredit his candidacy after it was too late for the GOP to recover.
You cannot condemn Donald Trump’s selection as the GOP Nominee and embrace the two-party system as it exists in the US.
That is, you can’t if you want to be honest and consistent in your political philosophy.
As many of you know, I ran not one, but TWO Kickstarter campaigns this Spring. The first was for Sacrifice Play, my latest Arbiter Chronicles novel. The second was for Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity, an anthology of speculative fiction tales edited by my friend and colleague, Phil Giunta. A lot of incredible people put their money behind these two books, and I’m very, very pleased to share their names:
I’ve been silent for a LOOOONNGGG time, I’m aware. Lots has happened, including being part of the Ellicott City Flood last month–both as a survivor of the flood itself and as part of the recovery team, in a small way.
But mostly I’ve been knocking myself out getting an unabridged audio version of Sacrifice Play ready to go. This will be released first to my amazing Kickstarter supporters, then via Audible, and, finally, on the Prometheus Radio Theatre podccast.
All twelve chapters are done, with the exception of about a dozen “pickup” lines. That means someone’s reading of a line either wasn’t quite what I needed, or that it somehow didn’t get recorded at all during out many sessions. As of this moment three chapters are completely finished, and nine await final audio mastering and insertion of pickups. I wanted you to hear what we’ve accomplished, if only to hold you over until the whole thing is released. Here’s Chapter One!