Monday, April 16, 2018

Getting Found Through Getting Lost... In Space

I probably spent as much time living vicariously on the Jupiter 2, as a child, as was possible. Because even with intergalactic monsters and cosmic storms, there was a comforting expectation that at the end of the show, the family would be intact, Robot, Dr. Smith, and all.

Autographed Cast Photo via Jimmy on Flickr

It's been a fun, and sometimes introspective look back to my childhood to revisit Lost in Space, with the help of Marc Cushman's amazing TV show biographies, one thick, ridiculously detailed volume per show season.

My Goodreads reviews: Lost in Space Volume I/First Season ( 699 pages)
Lost in Space Volume II/Second Season ( 492 pages)
Lost in Space Volume III/Third Season (522 pages)


As I did previously with Marc's Star Trek series, I read the chapter about it, then watched each episode while pedaling my recumbent bike. 83 episodes times 50 minutes pedaling per episode = almost seventy hours biking. Not bad.



Lost in Space was originally broadcast beginning in 1965, through 1968; three seasons in all, and picked up for syndication immediately after it ceased production, beginning in 1969. Keep in mind, space was happening - we were sending astronauts to walk on the moon! But they were adult men. LIS gave me a way to picture myself as a space explorer - and not only as a woman, but as a girl. Kids in space!

From the eyes of a child...

I wanted to look like Penny, and had a major crush on Major West. (The first, if not last Mark I would have a crush on.) I loved both John and Maureen Robinson; they made me feel safe and warm. Dr. Smith was annoying AF, I did not understand why they didn't drop him off at the nearest asteroid. Judy seemed blondeishly nice. I also adored The Robot, and was the proud owner of one or two of the small knock-off Robots Remco sold. Will Robinson, meh. I had nothing against him, but he seemed like a bit of a know-it-all, and why was he getting to do all the fun, exciting things?

From adult eyes...

Now I'm cognizant of the behind-the-scenes issues with the cast, the scripts, the production. I didn't realize that Guy Williams, Professor Robinson, had been Zorro! (Somebody whom, due to the magic of syndication, I would later develop a girlish ladyboner for, based on that show. Apparently I have a thing for the angry young man stereotype.) But in Lost in Space, he portrayed a brave, kind, heroic father. The father I wished I had.

Maureen reminded me much of my own mother: also kind, smart, lovely. Also underappreciated and vastly underused. While some of the characters who rarely got screen time occasionally got an episode with a starring role, like Marta Kristen did in Attack of the Killer Plants, which was brilliant, Maureen was regularly sidelined except when needed, as mothers often are.

I also found, interestingly, that the sizzling chemistry and kisses between John and Maureen in the first few episodes made show creator Irwin Allen uneasy, so PDA's became forbidden. Kids were not supposed to see adults acting attracted to one another, the horror! I believe the married Robinsons might have theoretically shared a cabin, but I don't recall any footage of them in it, or emerging from it together. How you make three children without kissing and chemistry, I know not.

Allen also put the kibosh on exploring the chemistry between Don and Judy. Although there were scenes whether they seemed to have an "understanding," and might have indicated attraction via posture and body language, after the first couple episodes, no mushy stuff allowed!! Monsters and spaceship crashes, yes, kisses, no! The sex negativity of this and other shows of the period really pisses me off, now.

Mark Goddard as Don West... I still have a crush. Although in watching the series over again, good heavens, the poor dude was always getting beat up, knocked unconscious, getting a body part trapped somewhere, not to mention, always crashing the Jupiter 2. He and Guy Williams were terrific in The Anti-Matter Man, and it was amusing to read in the book about Goddard's beard mishap during the filming.

Marta Kristen was much more than just a pretty face, she was a very talented actress, but she was sidelined almost as much as June Lockhart. Angela Cartwright as Penny got a bit more screen time, and I wanted a Bloop as a pet (though reading about that chimp made me very sad, the way she was treated). As an adult, it is easy to see all the ways sexist dynamics narrowed the way little girls could envision themselves, even ones who were theoretically astronauts. Maureen Robinson was supposed to be a biochemist, but did we ever see her biochemisting? Nope, just making dinner and doing the laundry.

Billy, now Bill Mumy. I found him him less of a show-off and more as a brilliant child actor who became a thoughtful, interesting, and very attractive man. (I have since discovered a taste for gingers.)  I really enjoyed episodes like Return From Outer Space and Trip Through the Robot, the many interviews with Mumy sprinkled throughout the books and in some of the bonus features on the DVDs.

Jonathan Harris, the nefarious, cowardly, pompous Dr. Zachary Smith. He, too, was brilliant, if a bit of an asshole. He could have performed his role and left space and advocated for the other actors, been more of a team player, but he chose not to, though he nurtured a super warm relationship with the crew. I can see from an adult storyteller's perspective, how much Harris brought to the table, and how that made the show more conflict-laden (which we want in stories, not so much in real life) and entertaining. I must admit waiting to hear "Oh, the pain, the pain!" and whatever alliterative insult Dr. Smith would spout at The Robot, the poor Bubbleheaded Booby.

The Robot, loyal companion in all circumstances, performed brilliantly by Bob May (body) and Dick Tufeld (voice). I still think of him like a cross between an uncle and older brother, and sooo believable. Who doesn't know how to say, "Danger, danger, Will Robinson!" while waving their arms like The Robot?

Paul Zastupnevich, assistant to Irwin Allen and costume designer. He designed so many costumes and props that would fit right in at a BDSM dungeon, today. Deliberate, or accidental?

Jonathan Harris and guest star Francine York from The Colonists, via Lost in Space wikia
The music:

I had remembered the music having a big impact on me, but I was really struck by it, in my revisiting of it.  The initial theme song and much of the first few episodes were scored by Johnny Williams (later to be John Williams, of Jaws, Close Encounters, Star Wars, and so much more).  There were also snippets borrowed from The Day the Earth Stood Still, and original themes by Alexander Courage (Star Trek,Superman) and others.

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Watching the show, and really listening to it... It would have had a fraction of the impact on me, without the soundtrack. (I think I've mentioned being a groupie at heart.)

There's one sweet, warm theme frequently repeated, which I discovered from the Cushman LIS books, is called "Family." You can hear it, above, at about 19:56.

Other themes weren't identified, but I invite you to listen to how I've labeled some of them, and see if you agree:

0:00 - Original Lost in Space Theme by John(ny) Williams

My labeling:
  0:56 - Tense Times
  1:59 - something chilling from The Day the Earth Stood Still
  3:42 - Noble Exploration
  5:10 - Something Creepy is Around the Corner (this makes my heart beat faster)
  6:22 - The Monster Is Coming. One. Step. At. A. Time. (my heart POUNDS)
  8:45 - Silly Dr. Smith theme (a dark version, sometimes it's lighter)
  9:29 - Look Out For That Rock - The Chariot Charioting
11:22 - Curiosity Killed the Cat
12:08 - Entering Twisted Fairyland (used a lot with Penny stories)
13:09 - Come Into My Lair, Said The Spider
18:48 - Perhaps We've Learned Our Lesson
19:28 - The Robot's March
19:56 - Family, as described above. Tender, wistful, sentimental.
There's so much more. Circusy themes, playful themes, Western themes, more stuff that almost kidnaps you to come back after commercial. As much as the sight of The Robot waving his arms and announcing, "Danger! Danger!" or my happy interest at the sight of Mark Goddard in his silver jumpsuit, this music is my childhood.

Do you have a favorite Los in Space episode, star, or musical theme?
And have you voted in my tiara poll. yet? Only a couple days left.
Your thoughts?


Monday, April 9, 2018

It's Complicated - An Interview with Nikki Prince

I'm pleased to welcome super-talented, organized and busy author Nikki Prince to my blog this month to talk about writing stuff, including her newest book, It's Complicated.

Ashton Locke has had a thing for Keiko Jarrett since college. So when she proposes adding friends with benefits to the mix, he's intrigued, but wary. Sure, he’s always wanted her, and is definitely not ready to settle down with anyone, but what happens if one of them crosses the line?

Keiko is ready to take her flirty friendship with Ashton to the next level of hot. But she never bargained for feelings to intrude and cause complications. She laughed at Ashton's hesitation and promised she'd remain heart-whole.

Some promises are meant to be broken and as Keiko and Ashton's "benefits" bleed in all aspects of their lives, Keiko needs to convince Ashton that love is worth the risk. 

1) Your longer bio talks about earlier learning disabilities that seemed to have been vanquished via the reading, and later, writing, of romance novels. Since you have sooo many books and stories out there (sorry for not having read them all – yet), are there any that feature a heroine or hero with disabilities? Or are there plans to write some, soon? 

This is such an awesome question.  You know I did write a character in Freeing His Swan Dancer where the heroine’s child was autistic.  I’ve thought about writing more with perhaps a learning disabled heroine or hero but haven’t done so yet.  Thank you for reminding me about that.  It is a must.  I think everyone should have their story told.  Reading for me was freedom as well as writing.  My learning disability in everything else is gone with the exception of math which is a whole other side of the brain.


2) Two kids, Honor Society college student, prolific writer, former President of OCC/RWA and heading up PI/RWA in your spare time. Do you get a discount at the cleaners’ on your Superwoman capes? How DO you do it all?

I am past president of OCC/RWA for two years and now currently president of Passionate Ink RWA online.  I learned from getting the divorce that I needed to stay busy.  I had to immerse myself in the things I loved in order to survive and be the best mom that I can be.  I do it all because I have no choice.  My kids understand that there isn’t the word can’t in our vocabulary.  I do because I have too and I’m enjoying every minute of it.


3) When do you get your reading in?  What do you read - how much do you allow yourself to read for pure fun, and how much is Official Research?

I do my reading just like I do everything else.  I squeeze it in.  Sometimes it’s late at night or sometimes I might be traveling and I get it in.  I read for pure pleasure.  Official research happens when I’m writing my stories.


4) According to your website, you “write Hot Erotic romance with interracial characters and in different pairings, not just male and female.” I had to swear I was over 18 and not likely to freak out, to be allowed in. Are you comfortable with this choice/branding, or did you ever think you might want to give up the smut and write bonnet books?

I love writing erotic romances.  I don’t consider it smut.  I think erotic can be a beautiful thing tied in with love as hey…we weren’t all brought here in test tubes.  Sex happens…I just happen to write with the door open and where sex and love happens all together.  I’m very comfortable with my branding.  I also have written young adult but I do that on another name to keep them separate as they should be.


5) Let’s talk about the elephant in the living room. You’re a Woman of Color in a field, writing, that has not been particularly welcoming to WOC, even though, from Octavia Butler to Beverly Jenkins, WOC have truly made a name for themselves with a brilliant body of work. Even in organizations like RWA, there are insults, snubs, and passive-aggressive discouragement from a lot of “nice white women.” How do you cope without going all stabby, and have the patience to continually educate the well-meaning but ignorant? What kind of self-care do you suggest for WOC overwhelmed by micro-aggressions?

Writing is my dream.  There is no way in the world that I would ever allow anyone to take it from me.  As an 11 year old I grew up reading romances with white women and men on the cover.  Not to say that was a bad thing, but it wasn’t the real world for me.  The books brought to life my desire to write and when I finally realized some years later 2011-2012 that I could write books that told my story and others?  I went for it.  No matter the snubs…I will keep going.  This is where I’m meant to be.  The world is beautifully filled with diversity and there are so many WOC and AOC’s out there…who have stories to tell.  I say tell them and snubbing be DAMNED.  My self-care is that I remember how it was to struggle in school and then to find romance books that spoke to me and told me that love is something to celebrate.  I’m not sorry to tell the world that love is love and should be colorblind.  I am going to celebrate that fact.  Without diversity the world will be gray, I prefer to live in Technicolor.  Everyone deserves to see themselves in a story…I write those stories.  My tagline is “Where Love is Colorblind,” I stand by that wholeheartedly.


6) As one of the well-meaning but ignorant, here, how can white women and men better support you and other WOC in your careers? What do you want to see from us?

Listen to us.  Read our books and review them.  Don’t automatically assume that our books are badly written or that we don’t have stories to tell.   Don’t assume because there is a person of color on the cover or in the pages that you can’t relate.  A story is a story ….is a story.


7) Your first published book – what was that like for you? What was the best and worst part of that journey?

My first published book was a novella called Mocha Kisses (it’s gone through two editions, first edition was sold by Mocha Memoris Press and the second is out from Boroughs Publishing group and was extended).  It was great because I’d also gotten a contract for two other books one called Demon Mine with Evernight Publishing and the other called Hot for Teacher with Keith Publications.  As you can imagine I was on cloud nine in 2012.  I was new to being published and so thrilled that I didn’t have time to feel a worse part.


8) What is your advice to a young woman just starting her writing career, in today’s publishing industry? Does it change depending on whether she is white or a WOC?

My advice to anyone wanting to write, male or female.  Keep writing the stories of your heart.  Don’t listen to the naysayers.  If you do that, you’ll probably quit.  There will be naysayers, there always is…this is what we’re dealing with now.  But WOC’s and AOC’s are fighters and we’ll take this to the streets if we have to….or I should say to the laptop/pen/paper whatever you use to write with.  If it is in you to write, write.


9) Without giving away too much, what three things are we going to love about Ashton and Keiko in IT’S COMPLICATED?

Keiko’s strength, tenacity in going for what and who she wants and that is Ashton.  Ashton has always had a thing for Keiko and of course he wants her.  But he also cares for her deeply and doesn’t want to hurt her.


10) What question have you not yet been asked by anybody that you are just dying to answer - and what’s your answer?

I’m never asked about the gaming that I do.  I love World of Warcraft and I have like 6 level 110’s right now.  I also love playing the Sims…designing my own people and pets and having them go through life is fun.  Gaming is relaxing and calming to me just as reading is.  Thank you so much for having me.


Nikki Prince is a mother of two, who’s always had a dream to be a published author in the romance genre. Her passion lies in raising her children as readers, gaming, cooking, reading and her writing..

Nikki’s a multi-published author with several epublishing houses. She loves to write Interracial romances in all genres, but wants to let everyone know to not box her in, because there is always room for growth.  She carries a Master's in English and Creative Writing concentration in Fiction and is on her way to a Master's in English Literature.

Nikki’s also a member of Romance Writers of America National chapter, Passionate Ink RWA, The Beaumonde RWA, CIMRWA, DARA, RWA Philadelphia Chapter, and the Rainbow Romance Writers (RRW).

Nikki would love to hear from you…


It's Complicated is available for purchase or preorder NOW.


Thanks, Nikki, for coming to my blog. Got more questions for her?
Your thoughts?

Monday, April 2, 2018

On Turning Down a Gift Pig

As my eyemask indicates, I am dreaming of Paris. and London. Almost every night.

Some of them are happy dreams, but most are anxiety driven. I can't count how many times I've missed my flight, in my dreams.

I will probably triple-check, times eighteen, my passports, etc., in preparation for this trip across the Pond. because when, in Dreamland, if I am on time for my flights, I discover I am at the airport and don't have my passport. Or tickets, or money.

Those of you who've done a lot of international traveling are probably past that, but it's my VIRGIN trip. (And I'm also flying Virgin, for one of the legs, how's that for irony?)

I am doing several things every day to prep. Last weekend, I cleaned out my phone, freed up 6 G of space. Practiced my French, although I am not sure all of the lessons will be applicable.

I hope not all of the lessons will be applicable. Because THIS is not happening.

It sounds like a ransom demand. Are there roving cheese-and-chocolate bandits in Paris? Stay tuned.


I really don't know where to go with this one.


Is this a thing? Is there a polite way to say, "Thanks, I don't want your pig"? [Merci, je ne veux pas votre cochon]?

This one, however, is spot on.


So excited to be meeting Taron and Rachel Medhurst and Harper Miller and Kay Blake and maybeSkye Jones, on this trip.

Speaking of authors, though I won't be seeing her on this trip. I was pleased and honored to have my dear friend Kim Townsel do an extensive video review of my memoir. Also, I was surprised at the parts that most resonated with her. That has been my experience so far with readers, that some parts really struck a chord... and others fell flat.

(Psst, Kim has an entertaining and informative YouTube channel, you should totally subscribe.)




And as I am beginning to pack, the question of WHICH tiara to take, is still hanging in the balance.

Should I take THIS tiara to London, in a couple weeks? What do you think?


Please go here to vote in my tiara poll.

Do you have tips for international travel - and getting rid of pre-trip nightmares?

Merci beaucoup.