The Stoic, by Emily Bronte

Portrait of Emily Bronte, by Branwell Bronte
A poem by Emily Bronte, for this season of rebellion, courtesy of

The Stoic

Riches I hold in light esteem,
And Love I laugh to scorn;
And lust of fame was but a dream,
That vanished with the morn:

And if I pray, the only prayer
That moves my lips for me
Is, “Leave the heart that now I bear,
And give me liberty!”

Yes, as my swift days near their goal:
’Tis all that I implore;
In life and death a chainless soul,
With courage to endure.


Between the Lines Book Club: James Baldwin

between the lines book club logoWelcome to Between The Lines Book Club! This month’s selection is Go Tell It On The Mountain, by James Baldwin. We will meet to discuss the book at Arden Dimick Library, at 10:30AM, on March 24, 2018.

James Baldwin was an African-American gay man whose essays and novels tackled race, class, religion, and sexuality. He grew up in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance and became a pivotal figure in the Civil Rights Movement, as well as a deeply influential author.

Baldwin grew up the oldest of eight children. His stepfather was abusive and Baldwin felt that he had to take care of his younger siblings. At 14, Baldwin became a junior minister in the Pentecostal Church. Bible speech and the rhythm of language from the King James Bible influenced his later work. A few years later, he renounced religion entirely.

At 24, Baldwin lift the US for France, where he spent most of the rest of his life. He was part of the Left Bank group, a radical group of artists who questioned cultural norms. In this environment, Baldwin was free to be openly gay and he was free from the systemic, institutionalized racism found in the US. He returned to the US to be a spokesperson for the Civil Rights Movement. He and Bayard Rustin faced discrimination within the Civil Rights Movement for being known as gay men. However, Baldwin continued to be part of the Movement

Baldwin’s books include Go Tell It On the Mountain, Fire Next Time, and Giovanni’s Room. He was a friend and mentor to countless artists and activists. His influence on literature cannot be overstated.




I’m in Clarkesworld!


photo of a baby octopus

Hey y’all, I have a thing in March’s issue of Clarkesworld Magazine. I am so excited that I put off announcing it for a while, just in case they emailed and said, “Oh, sorry, our mistake.” They haven’t!

You can find my essay, “Aliens Among Us: Cephalopods in Science Fiction and Fantasy,” at Clarkesworld Magazine. It is available for free, or you can purchase a digital copy of the issue.

Also, Jim C. Hines, the editor of Invisible 3, has put my essay “Lost In Space: A Messy Voyage Through Fictional Universes” on his webpage. If any of my readers are Hugo voters, this anthology is eligible for the Hugo Award in Best Related Work Category. I’m just sayin’.

Between the Lines Book Club: Go Tell It On The Mountain

between the lines book club logoWe are back with Between The Lines Book Club! This month’s selection is Go Tell It On The Mountain, by James Baldwin. We will meet to discuss the book at Arden Dimick Library, at 10:30AM, on March 24, 2018.

Go Tell It On The Mountain is a semi-autobiographical novel, published in 1953. It tells the story of a young Black boy (John) growing up in Harlem, and his family. The Pentacostal Church plays a large role in the book. John struggles with his place in the family, his confusion regarding his sexuality, and his feelings about the church which is both destructive and deeply nourishing to the community.

If you find this book tough going, you might want to check out, a free online study guide. If you want to read something shorter by the same author that addresses the same themes, try Baldwin’s essay “Letter From a Region in My Mind,” which is available at The New Yorker , or any of his other essays. Look for a biblical cadance of speech, as well as discussion of religion, race, and sexual orientation.






Between the Lines Book Club: Redneck Comedy

between the lines book club logoWhen I was a kid, I used to watch the “hillbilly” comedy and variety show “Hee Haw” with my grandma. That show has come and gone, but the last few decades have seen a rise in “Redneck” based comedy, with stars like Larry the Cable Guy, and Bill Evengall. The key point of this comedy is that it is “laughing with,” not “laughing at,” by people who are self-identified rednecks.  As Jeff Foxworthy says, “You can’t laugh at a redneck unless you are one, and I are one.”

Jeff Foxworthy made himself famous with his stand-up comedy routines in the 1980’s and 1990’s. His most famous routines involved his “You might be a redneck” routines.  Here’s one of his stand up routines:


Gretchen Wilson, a country music star, had a big hit with this funny but proud song, “Redneck Woman” in 2004:


Trae Crowder challenges stereotypes as “The Liberal Redneck” with heated political commentary (and a LOT of swearing):


Here’s an extra one, because Trae sure can lay it down:



Etta May, who may or may not be a comic persona created by a Yankee, does stand-up based on her family and her life as a housewife:


And this one made me, a Weight Watchers vet, laugh out loud:

Hail President Roslin, So Say We All

Laura Roslin swearing in as President in Battlestar GalacticaLadies and Gentlepersons, allow me to offer, for your considerations, Laura Roslin as the best President ever.

Laura Roslin, a character in the rebooted version of Battlestar Galactica, was the highest ranking survivor of the Cylon attack. Aboard the Galactica, she is sworn in as President of the Thirteen Colonies. A life-long liberal, she has to balance her liberal political beliefs with a draconian situation in which humanity was on the brink of extinction. Although Roslin became ruthless, she never lost her core sense of compassion.

Here are some of the best Roslin lines:

I’m going to be straight with you here. The human race is about to be wiped out. We have fifty thousand people left and that’s it. Now, if we are even going to survive as a species, then we need to get the hell out of here and we need to start having babies.

In war, you can only get killed once. In politics it can happen over and over.

My responsibility as President is, first and foremost, to protect and preserve this fleet and its future. In the end, that outweighs any other consideration. It has to.

I don’t make suggestions, Mr. Baltar. If I wanted to toss a baby out an airlock, I’d say so.

All Hail our President, She Who Takes No Shit. Here she is answering a reporter’s question about her cancer (the character is diagnosed with breast cancer at the beginning of the series):


Happy President’s Day, Karen.


Between the Lines Book Club: American Books About Class

between the lines book club logoThis month we are reading White Trash by Nancy Isenberg. Our monthly meeting will be at Arden Dimick, at 10:30 AM, on Saturday Feburary 24, 2018.

One of the books Isenberg mentions is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, which combines conversations about race with conversations about class. Here are some other books about class in America:

The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck

Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, by James Agee

Deer Hunting With Jesus, by Joe Bageant

Poor White, Sherwood Anderson