Rerun Junkie–They Didn’t Have Native Americans Back Then

As I discussed in a previous post, all of your favorites are problematic. All of my favorites, too.

One problematic aspect of reruns that’s probably the most glaring is the racist casting. White actors playing non-white roles has been common place for decades and was probably at its most popular in the Westerns of the ’50s, ’60s, and early ’70s. That’s right. Those Native Americans were not actual Native Americans. Those Mexicans? If they had a speaking role, they were most likely not actually Mexican.

John Saxon played a Native American on Bonanza and a Mexican on Gunsmoke. Martin Landau played a Mexican on both The Rifleman and The Big Valley. Michael Ansara not only played a Mexican in a couple of episodes of Rawhide, but he was frequently cast as a Native American, including starring in his own short-lived series called Law of the Plainsman playing Deputy Marshal Sam Buckheart, a character he originally played on The Rifleman.

Sadly, one of my favorites, F-Troop, was notorious for casting white actors as their Hekawi tribe members. Frank DeKova, Don Diamond, Edward Everett Horton (who also played a Native American chief on an episode of Batman), J. Pat O’Malley, Jamie Farr, hell even Don Rickles all played Native Americans. It seemed comedic timing was more important than racial accuracy. Not that there aren’t funny Native Americans; but back then, they didn’t even bother to look for them.

Of course, Native Americans and Latinos/Latinas weren’t the only ones having white actors step in for them. Boris Karloff played an Indian Maharaja on an episode of The Wild Wild West. Wende Wagner played a native Hawaiian on an episode of Perry Mason, and her aunt in that same episode was Miriam Goldina, a native Russian. Jim Backus’s wife, Henny, played a native mother on an episode of Gilligan’s Island. Spoiler alert! Russ Grieve, who played her native husband, and Mary Foran, who played her native daughter, weren’t natives either.

Two of the most curious examples of racist casting I have ever seen happened on two of my favorite reruns, both of which I’ve mentioned before, but I’m going to mention again because they are worth mentioning at every opportunity.

In an episode of Hawaii Five-O called “Samurai”, Ricardo Montalban played a Japanese criminal. Yes, you read that correctly and aren’t you glad that you did. In the second oddest case of yellow face I’ve ever seen (we’ll get to the first one very soon), a very Mexican Ricardo Montalban had his eyes artificially slanted to play a Japanese man. Like, his accent didn’t change at all. And whatever they did to his eyes made him look less Japanese and more like an eye lift gone wrong. The entire effect is very disconcerting and I highly recommend you try to catch that episode because descriptions and pictures don’t do it any justice.

To make an already confusing casting decision even more curious, Hawaii Five-O was typically good at casting Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders to play Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

The truly oddest case of racist casting I’ve ever seen, however, belongs to the pilot episode of The Wild Wild West called “The Night of the Inferno”. In this episode Victor Buono played Juan Manolo aka Wing Fat.

Yes, let me break that down for you.

White actor Victor Buono played a Mexican man in disguise as a Chinese man. It’s basically a turducken of racist casting and I can’t help but gawk at it because I have no idea how to even begin to process it. I suppose if you’ve ever watched the series, then you can agree that at the very least, it sets you up nicely for some of the more bonzo episodes of the show.

Thankfully, this sort of whatthefuckery is largely in the past and though racist casting does still happen (whitewashing Asians and Pacific Islanders is still unnervingly common), the backlash is swift and loud. A new normal has been and is being established and even if I don’t watch current shows all that much, I’m still all for it.

After all, one day those shows will be reruns.


Turning 38: Pretty Neat

I have successfully completed yet another trip around the sun. And it was pretty okay.

Last month, one of my cousins had a birthday and the upside down smiley face she used when she announced that she was twenty-four made me think that perhaps she didn’t dig the idea of being twenty-four. I don’t know. I’m barely literate in emoji.

Whatever her intended meaning, my interpretation of it got me thinking about how people tend to have those dreaded ages. For my roommate it was 40. For a lot of women, for some reason, it’s 40. For some, it’s 30. Mine was 13. I didn’t want to be 13 because that meant I wasn’t a kid anymore, I was a TEENAGER, and that just sounded like a fate worse than death to me. Because after teenager is adult, and who the hell wants to be that?

Not me and I’ve avoided it spectacularly.

I think I lucked out getting my dreaded age out of the way early. Now when other people are bemoaning their impending 50th or 25th or whatever, I’m turning 38 like, “Holy shit, how am I still alive? Someone should be fired for this.”

One thing I’ve noticed in my slide down the hill to 40 is that I’m loosening up some. Maybe it’s the meditations and affirmations I’ve been doing. Maybe it’s the realization that I’m getting beyond the age of expectations. It’s harder and harder for society to place expectations of certain achievements, attainments, and behaviors because I’m too old now. It’s too late. There’s no hope for me.

It’s the release of that pressure to live up to these arbitrary benchmarks that’s got me feeling loose. It’s not that I’m now going to abandon everything and become a useless lump. Some might argue that I already am one because I’ve always been one. No, it’s not giving up. It’s the shifting of focus from what society wants to me to be and achieve and the stress caused by the cognitive dissonance of that to what I actually want to be and achieve and the lack of stress from striving for that without any inner conflict.

Makes me feel pretty optimistic about 38.

I think it’s going to be some kind of chill.

Murderville: The End Of- Episode 1

Hanging at the End Of

It was a typical day in Munsterville, the industrial city of 70,000 (give or take), with people on lunch break or hurrying to start second shift somewhere or running errands, the general business of a typical city running at its typical hum.  The sky was blue and the day was warm without being oppressively hot like late summer had a tendency to be.  And since this was a typical day in Munsterville, that meant that the city was living up to its jaunty nickname: Murderville.  Weird deaths abound in Munsterville.  And weird deaths require creative clean-ups, which was why the family business of Jones Cleaners had steady work.

Lu Jones sat in her parents’ office, eating a roast beef sandwich.  Lu had agreed to “mind the store” during her lunch hour while her parents picked up some cleaning supplies.  Her older siblings, Dru and Nico, were cleaning up the death scene of an elderly gentleman who’d died in his home and had gone undiscovered for over a week.  Her younger siblings, twins Dash and Tag, were cleaning up the scene of a suicide by shotgun in an apartment.  So, Lu was left to sit in the office and answer the phones as she ate her lunch while everyone else was out.  It was purely as a favor; Lu was the only one in the family that didn’t work the family business, a bone of contention picked at every family gathering in which there were more than two Joneses, which happened multiple times a week, so that bone was cleaned of meat years ago.  Instead of cleaning up death scenes, Lu investigated them.  She worked as a death investigator out of the city’s coroner’s office.  Same general area of the family business, but different line of work.  Horseshoes and hand grenades, her family said.

Kicked back at the reception desk in the tiny front area of the office, feet up, sandwich in the process of being devoured, Lu nearly choked in her scramble to right herself when the door opened.  They didn’t get many walk-in customers (she was really just there to answer the phone), but people did come in to pay their bills and Lu didn’t want to hear it from her mother that she was being unprofessional when someone did.

In strolled her brother-in-law, Detective Josh Carpenter, looking dashing and handsome as always.  Truly, the man looked like he should be playing the lead in some big budget Hollywood action movie that called for a good looking, tough, but charming and sensitive African-American man instead of investigating curious deaths in a no-name city like Munsterville.  How her goofy-looking white boy brother Nico ever landed him, Lu would never know, but the couple had been together for fifteen years, married for close to six of them.

“What are you doing here, Lu?” Josh asked with a grin as the door swung shut behind him.

There was no sense in Lu trying to recover her cool now.  She picked up her discarded sandwich.

“Watching the phones for Mom and Dad while I eat,” Lu said, sitting back and kicking her feet up on the desk again.  She took another bite of her sandwich and asked her question around it.  “What are you doing here?”

“Hoping to catch Nico while I had a minute,” Josh said with a bit of a wistful sigh.

He sat down in one of the chairs on the opposite side of the desk.

“He’s cleaning an undiscovered scene.”

Josh made a disgusted face.  Lu didn’t need to give him any details.

“Been busy?” Lu asked him, this time without a mouthful of sandwich.

“After that whole thing with the Harmon case, I feel like I’ve been on garbage detail.”

Winchester Harmon was a rich guy with a warped sense of humor who decided when he received a terminal cancer diagnosis to kill himself, make it look like a murder, and send a whole bunch of poor people on a wild goose chase.  Josh had been lead detective on that case and took the whole thing very personally.  Lu couldn’t quite blame him; she would have clocked Harmon for what he’d done if he hadn’t already been dead.

“You’re imagining things,” Lu said.  “Your ego is bruised because that big murder case turned out to be a weird suicide practical joke thing.  You really think the chief is going to hold that bizzaro twist against you?”

Josh looked at Lu like she must have been out of her mind.

“Have you met this woman?” he asked.  “She does not take failure lightly and to her, this looked like a huge, public failure because we didn’t immediately conclude it was a suicide, not a homicide.”

“Oh, please,” Lu said with a roll of her eyes.  She sat up, leaning on the desk with one elbow.  “It was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.  The gun was found half a block away under some bushes.  It was staged to look like a murder and it was pretty convincing.  It took an anonymous tip to sort it out.  That’s how convincing it was.”

“That’s not how the chief sees it.”

“Well, she needs glasses.  You did good work, you did it by the book, and anyone would say so.  It was a weird case to crack.”

Lu ate the last bite of her sandwich and chewed it in a determined fashion.  Josh shook his head, entirely unconvinced.

The tone of a pipe organ, mournful and funeral-like, emanated from Lu’s back pocket.  She pulled out her cell phone.  Before she could look at it, Josh’s cell chirped from the depths of his suit jacket.  He fished around for it.

“Dead body at End Of,” Lu said, reading her text.


Wanna read the rest? Check out Murderville or Patreon!

2018: The Experimental Year

When I was younger, my two preferred career choices were either shark biologist or meteorologist with a specialty in tornadoes. Because I only like science when it wants to kill me. Okay, that’s not entirely true, but my interest in science could be the reason why I’m doing a few experiments this year.

Or calling them experiments, anyway.

I suppose it might be more accurate to call them challenges or resolutions, but I already make half-assed resolutions, so I don’t need any more. And I don’t like calling them challenges. I do challenging things and they’re tiring. I don’t want to be exhausted just thinking about these things.

So, instead, I approach them scientifically. Because I love the scientific method. Somehow, that doesn’t sound exhausting to me.

I hadn’t intended to do any experiments this year, but in the last few days of 2017 and the first day of 2018, three ideas came to me and I decided to act on them.

Experiment #1: 100 Days of Exercise

December was a disaster for me fitness-wise. I was only a few days in and I was like, “Yeah, I’m tired. Can we be done?”, which fed into the struggles I’d already been having with my exercise routine. During my reset week (the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve), I watched a lot of videos of people doing things every day for 100 days: going to the gym, doing push-ups, making origami birds. It inspired me to do my own thing.

At least twenty minutes of exercise every day for 100 days. I’m hoping that this will jerk me out of my exercise slump and help me feel better so I won’t descend into another slump later in the year.

Experiment #2: Write a page a day

Yes, I already write a lot. Just about every day in fact. I write whole novels in November. But as it’s commonly said among writers (or maybe I’ve just read it a few times and now I think it’s common), if you write one page a day, by the end of the year, you’ll have a book. And I want to try that.

I picked one of the story ideas that I got towards the end of 2017, one that I really like, but have no idea when I’d write. This experiment solves that. Now, I don’t know if I’ll actually write 365 pages of this story; I don’t think I’ve ever written any story that was that long, even double-spaced. But I will write one page a day, every day, until it’s done. That works for me.

I can also use this as a warm-up page to help me get into my writing work on the days I’m feeling sluggish and a bit procrastinate-y.

Experiment #3: Write four sentences in four different languages

By virtue of Duolingo, I’ve been studying different languages. I started with Spanish, which I took two years of in high school, because I needed to brush up in order to teach it to my nieces for their home school curriculum. When I finished all of the lessons in the Spanish section, I started with French. I hated French, so I didn’t get very far before stopping for a while.

When I picked it back up, I added Russian to my languages because I’ve always been fascinated with their alphabet and wanted to learn to read it. When Duolingo offered Czech in beta, I quickly added it, too, since it has some similarities to Russian.

Yes. I’m insane.

To help my understanding and memory retention, I thought it’d be a good idea to actually write a sentence in each language every day. Just one sentence per language and it doesn’t have to be a difficult one. It doesn’t even have to be the same one. With Spanish, I can pretty much write whatever comes to my head, but with the others, I’ll probably be copying sentences from the lessons until I get more comfortable.

I have no idea if this will actually help me with learning my languages, but I figure it can’t hurt. It’ll also be a good use for one of my many, many notebooks.

I’m looking forward to doing these three little experiments. If anything, they’ll make my year a little more interesting.

Science must be served!

January Writing Projects

Hello, 2018! I hope you’re prepared to do a lot of writing things because I know that I am, despite how I ended 2017.

Okay, so, yeah. The Coop Run didn’t get finished. But I do know that it’s going to be closer to 50,000 words since I passed the 30,000 word mark and it’s not done. So, that’s something. I did finish the final polish of (Vampires) Made in America, though. I wasn’t totally consumed by jolly fatigue.

It makes my plans for January pretty obvious. Finish the first draft of The Coop Run and submit (Vampires) Made in America to agents.

Those are the two main things, though obviously submitting (Vampires) is going to be something that happens throughout the year because I expect this to be more of a learning experience than anything.

I’m also going to be doing some reading. I’m going to read the first draft of The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant and the first draft of The End of the (Werewolf) Curse and make some revision notes. I’m going to be working on both of these novels during the year, so I might as well start now.

I think that will be enough to keep me busy.

Murderville:The End Of starts January 9th! Become a patron and don’t miss an episode. $1 an episode let’s you read; $2 an episode gets you bonuses as well. It’s a steal!

2018 Half-Assed Resolutions

My 2017 half-assed resolutions were executed better than half-assed even though I forgot about them for most of the year. Go team me!

Obviously, I did not get dead. I also had a better time than anticipated, at least in certain areas of my life. I’m glad that I’m continuing to do well on those two resolutions.

I went through my books and even managed to get rid of a few. I can’t say that I did more belly dance for the joy of it. I did at least do more actual dancing rather than just drills, working dance routines into my exercise regime, so I’m counting that. And even though I didn’t do one big good thing this past year, I did do several small things and you know what? They add up.

So, here’s the 2018 half-ass resolutions that are going to carry me through the year.

1. Don’t get dead.

2. Have a good time.

3. Art once a month. I have art stuff. Hell, I have an art drawer (which I just cleaned out because holy disorganized pack rat, Batman). I should use these things. I like to art. I think it’s good for my creativity. But I don’t do it with any regularity. Setting aside a little time once a month to do art would be good, I think.

4. Make progress on my blanket. The reason this isn’t “finish my blanket” is because these are half-assed resolutions and finishing the blanket would take my whole ass. But the truth is that I started it more than a few years ago and it could stand some significant progress being made. Like finishing the front of it.

5. More rerun junkie posts. If I’m on a podcast (Eventually Supertrain! Everyone go listen!) talking about Green Hornet, then I need to maintain my rerun junkie street cred. Especially if I’m actually going to go through with the idea of writing a book about ’70s cop shows.

Let’s get wild, 2018.

It’ll Be Fine When I Get There

I have anxiety. It’s great fun. I’ve learned to cope with it for the most part. Little tricks that make living with it more bearable. Because anxiety lies just as much as depression, let me tell ya.

I think of my anxiety in two ways: anticipatory and aftermath. The holidays are a great illustration of how this works.

First we have the anticipatory. I literally start having the anticipation anxiety as soon as November starts. I’m thinking of the gifts that I have to make and the places I have to be and the trinkets that I have to buy and the money I have to spend. All of that is pretty understandable. The holidays are overwhelming for lots of people. It’s a stressful time.

But the anxiety means that there’s no release valve. There’s no relief when I get something on the Grinchmas To Do List finished. Is it good enough? Will they like it? Could I have done better? Do they think I’m cheap? These thoughts continually pop up in my head no matter how many times I answer these questions.

And then there’s the actual going of places. I imagine most people who have decent-to-good relationships with their families don’t have much in the way of anxiety when it comes to seeing them for the holidays (except for maybe traffic). Well, I do. In fact, I have anxiety any time I’m supposed to see anyone because what if I’m wrong? What if this isn’t the right day? The right time? Am I dressed appropriately? Do they really want me there? Now because I tend to have low level anxiety whenever I go anywhere, this is easier to deal with. I just remind myself that it’ll be fine when I get there. Because it will be. It always is. But I need that mantra.

Then there’s the aftermath anxiety.

No matter how well things went, I am inevitably smacked with this sort of anxiety (it happens a lot after I record a podcast or submit a story). When it comes to the holidays, it means I get home from my merry-making (where I usually have a good time) and the questions start again. Did I say the wrong thing? Did I do this wrong? Did I sound/look like a moron? Was I wrong about something? Did I sound sincere enough when I thanked them for the present? Was I appreciative enough? I have come to depend on meditating to help me purge my anxiety, as I think of it. Otherwise, I can’t sleep and when I do, I dream about it, the distorted barrage of questions invading my slumber.

Between my amped up anxiety and my usual holiday blues, the holidays are a great time. So much of my exhaustion actually comes from trying to maintain some sort of mental health so I can function. A couple of years ago, the blues went into a full blown depressive episode. This year, my anxiety is pummeling everything. At this point, I’m willing to sign a petition to have December cancelled.

But like every other day when my anxiety acts up, like every other year at this time, I remind myself…

It’ll be fine when I get there.

That’s Three Done

Earlier this week I finished polishing (Vampires) Made in America. It is done. As done as I can get it. As done as I feel it needs to be to submit to agents. I don’t know that I’ll get an agent with it, but I do need the experience of submitting to agents and possibly making some connections. Gotta start somewhere.

(Vampires) Made in America started as a 2011 NaNo novel called American Vampires. That’s right. A little over six years ago, I wrote the first words of this book. It took me six years to call it done. Wild. But not unusual. At least for me. I wrote the first draft of The World (Saving) Series for NaNo 2010; it wasn’t finished until June of 2013 (it’ll never see daylight). I wrote the first draft of A Tale of Two Lady Killers for NaNo 2009 (I’m sensing a pattern here); it wasn’t finished until April of 2014.

I think for me part of the reason it takes me so long to complete a novel-length work is because of my loud brain. I can’t work on just one thing at once. I try to give myself time between first draft and first revision and then between revisions and then between final revision and polish to give the words time to settle. So, I find myself preoccupied with other, shorter projects during these breaks and the novel gets pushed down further and further down the priority list because “it can wait”.

I think the other reason is how overwhelming a task it seems to get a novel to the point of doneness. Thanks to NaNo writing the first draft of a novel is a breeze and also thanks to my experiences in revising, I’ve gotten better at writing first drafts that don’t require as many story overhauls as I used to (this past NaNo being a now rare exception). But still, compared to revising a short story or even a novella/novelette, a novel is a lot of work.

Another reason it’s so easy to push it down on the priority list. Putting off the pain.

I suppose with two more Outskirts novels, The End of the (Werewolf) Curse and To Tell the (Conjurer’s) Truth, waiting for their own rounds of revisions, I should probably not default to that so easily. If I want to show myself to be a worthwhile investment to an agent and/or publisher, it might be in my best interest to accustom myself to the practice of completely finishing a novel in a shorter amount of time, especially since the novels I write aren’t that long to begin with. After all, making a living by doing this is the whole point and improving only helps that.

I’ll start small. Try to get a novel totally done before it’s old enough to go to kindergarten.

It’s good to have goals.

And Then Patreon Went and Changed Its Fee Business

Edit: Patreon changed its mind about implementing the fee changes. You can read about it here.

Okay, so Patreon has decided to change the way they charge fees. Until now, creators covered all of the fees that way when patrons were pledging a certain amount that was the true amount they were paying. Now, Patreon is moving some of the fees onto the patron. Creators will still get charged 5% and patrons will now get charged 2.9% + $0.35. You can read the full details here.

Patreon says that they did this to put more money into the creator’s pocket and to provide a more stable income because the fees we paid could vary month to month. Which sounds really nice.

But it’s really kind of not, when you think about it.

First of all, someone on Twitter pointed out that by charging both the creator and the patron, this makes Patreon more money. This is the reasoning I’m more likely to believe.

Second of all, creators are losing patrons left and right because of the fee change. They don’t want to pay the fees. And Patreon doesn’t suffer for that (they make plenty); the creators do.

I cherish all of the patrons that I have, but it’s no secret that I don’t have very many. I’m always actively trying to acquire more patrons as well as keep the ones that I have. This fee change does nothing to help me. It’s an asterisk on my selling point and it puts my current patrons in a bad position that makes them question if the fees are worth it to support me.

And all of this after I have everything ready to go for the next season of Muderville.

I’m now working on alternate methods of support. I have Ko-Fi and The fees associated with those are paid by me and me alone, so whoever buys me a cup of coffee or sends me money pays no fees. If I have patrons or potential patrons that would prefer this method, then I’m sure I can set up something here on the blog so people can still read Murderville, but support me through different means.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep plugging away and hope for the best.

December Writing Projects

Hello. I survived NaNoWriMo. As I mentioned in a few posts last month, it was a close call.

As anticipated, my first draft of The Coop Run is still not finished and I will continue to work on it throughout December. I’ve only written about 14,000 words (as of this post) because I had anticipated picking up my daily word count and that did not happen. Instead of writing more words, I started polishing (Vampires) Made in America. That will also continue throughout December. I’m a little more than half-way through, so I should have no trouble finishing it before Christmas.

I’m not sure I can say the same about The Coop Run. I suppose we’ll see. That pick-up in word count might still happen since I’ve got the majority of my Grinchmas making and wrapping done (the goodies I’m making have to wait so they’ll be fresh), but December has a way of sapping my energy. It’s one of the reasons why I usually don’t like to write first drafts during this month. But I did this to myself and I’ll see it through.

I’m also not sure how long this first draft is going to be. I was thinking it’d be another 50,000 words, but it might end up being closer to 30,000. Again, we’ll see.

So much seeing this month.

And since it’s the end of the year, I’ll be attempting to hash out a schedule/make some goals for next year. This year’s goals didn’t exactly work out. I only accomplished about half of them, but that happens. I have a tendency to be shit at long-term planning.

Here’s to hoping that I finish The Coop Run and end the year on a high note.