Archives for posts with tag: Lisa Mason Movie Critic

8.14.19.SKULL.1

This is my memoir-in-progress about the violent criminal attack on me on a sunny summer afternoon, the most terrible thing ever to have happened to me. Bast Books will publish the finished book; this is a work in progress. After I woke up from three hours of surgery, I received a blazing vision of this book. I wanted to write what I had to say in a month. I worked out an extensive outline with paper and pencil on a clipboard while recuperating in bed. I had my husband bring in and hook up my laptop so I could continue writing, also in bed. As soon as I was barely able, I got out of bed, sat down at my Internet computer, and did much research.
Now it is over a year later, and I’m still sorting out my thoughts, my research, my reactions. Other people’s reactions, too. There are many facts—controversial facts—that figure into my story.
This will be difficult for me. But I’m working the writing out exclusively on Patreon, with introductory blogs on WordPress. When the memoir is finished and polished, I will give you, Patrons on Tier Four, the ebook of the memoir. And then I’ll start something new.
And so….
Sticks & Stones Will Break My Bones
Copyright 2019 by Lisa Mason
The Attack, Part 1
At 5 p.m. on a sunny summer day—July 11, 2018—I was walking around Lake Merritt in Oakland, California as I’ve done just about every day since 1996. Rain or shine, hot or cold, summer or winter. Three and a half miles. When it was raining, I would put on my L.L. Bean hooded rain jacket over my jogging clothes, my British rubber rain boots, and I would go for my lake walk. When it was winter-cold and dark, I put on a sweater over my jogging clothes, my L.L Bean parka, sometimes leather gloves, and I would go for my lake walk. When it was blazing hot, I put on a tank top and linen shorts, and I would go for my lake walk.
I was never afraid, even when I saw mentally disturbed people. I would simply cross the street. Even when in the winter it was dark at five o’clock in the evening, the Art Deco lamps of the Necklace of Lights looked beautiful, made wonderful reflections in the lake’s water.
I was never ever afraid of walking around the lake for twenty-plus years. There was always plenty of traffic on the street, police cars went by, plenty of people exercising or coming home from work.
July 11, 2018 started out as a lovely day. It was the thirty-eighth anniversary of my husband Tom’s and my first date. We first met on July 4th at a party that my neighbors and I held, opening up our penthouse apartments in Noe Valley. (That’s another story).
And I was planning a special anniversary dinner, movies, maybe some romance. I was going to bake homemade pizza.
The dog-walkers, moms with their baby-strollers and babies, bicyclists, joggers were out in full force. I felt mellow and safe. I was walking about halfway around the lake, walking past the complex intersection of Lake Shore Avenue, the newly built bridge over Lake Merritt Boulevard, and East Twelfth Street. A switchback angles around the side of 1200 Lake Shore, a luxury midcentury high-rise apartment building, and leads down to the lake and the jogging path. A gentle slope with flowering vines and bushes lies between the boulevard and the switchback. I often saw Monarchs, painted ladies, tiger swallowtails, birds and hummingbirds sipping the flowers on the slope.
But as I was walking past the slope on Lake Merritt Boulevard, past the pedestrian intersection at East Twelfth, suddenly I heard yelling. Inarticulate yelling. I couldn’t discern words, or a language. It was just hateful, enraged yelling.
Startled, I looked to my left and saw a man standing on the slope, his eyes like white-hot blazing coals. Blazing with pure hatred.
I’d never seen a look in anyone’s eyes like that in my life. I was shocked. For a second, I thought he needed help. I hesitated for that second.
And in that second, he sprinted up the slope and confronted me on the sidewalk.
For the rest of this excerpt, join me on my Patreon page at https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?u=23011206.
Donate from your PayPal account to lisasmason@aol.com.
Visit me at www.lisamason.com for all my books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, blogs, roundtables, adorable cat pictures, forthcoming works, fine art and bespoke jewelry by my husband Tom Robinson, worldwide links, and more!

Advertisements

10.18.17.3.ATHENA.IN.BOX_NEW

The August Lisa Mason Story
I first told this true story, event by event, on Facebook .and received such expressions of worried suspense and relief, delight and enjoyment that I was inspired to write the lovely story below, taken one fantasy level above reality.
Some time before we adopted Athena, we saw the outstanding documentary, “The Elephant in the Living Room,” about people who are compelled to keep wild animals and the wild animals that often live near—and endanger—our civilized homes (think huge serpents, mountain lions). I have to wonder about our domesticated cats and dogs, who sometimes still have one paw in the jungle, and why we love them so.
“Crazy Chimera Lady”
Lisa Mason
“It’s now or never,” Thomas says as we breathe the scent of lavender perfuming our garden. “We should adopt another chimera. And soon.”
“Before we get too much older and have to worry about the chimera outliving you and me?” I sip my chilled chardonnay.
“Yes.” My husband contemplates his cabernet sauvignon. Thomas prefers red, I prefer white. In the two-hundred-forty-five chimera years of our marriage, we’ve never had a wine fight. We’ve both come to think about time in chimera years. It has made us feel closer to them. “And so? What do you think?”
Midnight after a productive day. I’ve woven half a tapestry commissioned by a wealthy coder. Thomas has carved a dozen gemstones for a day-trader who, despite her abrasive manners, always pays in full and on time.
“I don’t know.” I sigh. It’s been fifty-six long chimera years since Alana died at the age of a hundred-twenty-six. A good long life for an ivory-wing, a breed not known for its longevity. Six chimera years earlier, Luna had died. We didn’t know Luna’s age when we adopted her from the animal shelter, but she was a blue-wing, which is a long-lived breed. She probably had been older than Alana.
After fourteen chimera years, the grief for my girls eventually subsided. Became a distant ache rather than tears streaming down my face while I slept. Now I’m not sure I can watch another beloved chimera grow from clutchling to full-fledged to oldster and die. Which they do. Usually before we do.
“I’ve loved chimeras since I was a kid,” my husband argues. “My dad always had a clutch of seal-wings in the house. I want a chimera again, Susan, I really do.  Before it would be irresponsible of us to adopt.”
“We’re having this conversation now that we’re four-hundred-thirty-four chimera years old?” I joke. “Not when we were two-hundred-ten?”
“Yes.” Maybe Thomas is in such a serious mood because we’ve just executed our wills, powers of attorney, and all those other fun documents that force you to contemplate your own mortality. That’s not something you do when you’re two-hundred-ten, either. “Now or never, for the rest of our lives.”
“Never, then,” I whisper.
He chooses to ignore that. “I wish you’d search the Web one more time.”
It’s not as if I haven’t. Though I’ve searched only for another ivory-wing like Alana—golden eyes, plumy white tail, white feathery wings. I’d found such an enchanted creature thirty-five chimera years ago. But she was—as her foster mom honestly admitted—a biter. My seal-wing, Sita, had been a biter. Blue-eyed and beautiful, with fawn-colored wings and paws, Sita had often made my life difficult. I was a university student, then a graduate weaver looking for a husband. She’d left a scar across my left hand.
I couldn’t have a biter who looked like my gentle Alana. That would have been too hard. I had to let that chimera go.
Going on Facebook hasn’t helped. Everyone, it seems, has a beloved domesticated chimera. Posts adorable photos and videos. Chimeras snoozing in the sun. Chimeras leaping in and out of crates. Chimeras flapping happily in aviaries, fetching Frisbees. The big wild chimeras, in zoos and wildlife preserves, have their own photo opps, too. Frolicking with their clutchlings in grasslands. Soaring over mountaintops.
A Facebook friend, a weaver in Australia, started posting photos of the silver-stripe clutchlings she’d rescued from a parking lot in Sidney, and I found myself straying into the pet supplies aisle at Whole Foods. Sure enough, the Whole Paws label offers high-quality canned chimera food and bagged kibbles with a low ash content. No soy, corn, grain, or dairy. Just whole ground rabbit fortified with B-6, calcium, and other vitamins and minerals.
Rabbit—not fish, fowl, or deer—is a chimera’s food of choice in the wild. Rabbits are the reason farmers domesticated chimeras centuries ago and bred down their size. Which is fine with me. If you think rabbits are cute, you’ve never tried to grow vegetables. There’s nothing cute about ravenous lagomorphs gnawing your carrots and spinach into mulch.
I push back my patio chair, go inside to the computer. “If it’ll make you happy,” I tell Thomas, “I’ll search now.”
“It’ll make me very happy,” my husband says and follows me.
I log onto the Web, go to the usual websites—Ebay, the Tri-County Society for the Protection of Chimeras, and Purebred Chimeras Rescue. Thomas stands behind my chair, leaning over the screen.
“Oh?” I click on an Ebay listing for a blue-eyed, blue-wing clutchling. “Damn! Her breeder is up in Redding. You must be kidding me.”
“What is that, a four-hour drive from Piedmont?”
“Try five, and that’s just one way. This won’t work. I can’t see ten hours on the freeway to adopt a chimera, no matter how sweet she looks.”
Thomas brings me my glass of wine. “Keep searching.”
Tri-County has hundreds of listings of the usual domesticated chimeras. Though they look appealing and desperately need homes, we can’t find a likely candidate. We’ve both been raised with seal-wings. For the last chimera we will probably ever own, we want an exotic.
I go to Purebred Chimeras Rescue. The website has three pages of promising exotics, but they’re all males. Ara, our flame-wing who died sixty-three chimera years ago, had been a lovely boy chimera, but he didn’t have that loving maternal instinct which, in my experience, all female chimeras possess. The last chimera we will ever own has to be a girl.
Then there she is.
Baby Blue is a nine-month-old clutchling surrendered by an ailing, aging breeder to the San Jose SPOC. Purebred Chimeras Rescue took her from San Jose to their headquarters in Davis for registration, then to a vet in Salinas where she was de-wormed, given surgery under anesthetic to spay her, treated for fleas and lice, and given the full battery of vaccinations. From Salinas, PCR took her to Chimera Hill in Santa Cruz for adopting out.
“Born and bred in cages and carrying crates all her life,” Thomas says, “with a history like that.”
“Yes.” I frown. “They’re calling her a blue-wing mix, but look. She looks like a lilac-wing bred with an ivory-wing.”
“They must have named her Baby Blue on account of her eyes.”
Oh, her eyes! Her slanted, almond-shaped eyes are the color of a cloudless summer sky. Her description says she’s shy. Fearful of people. She struggles to escape when a human handles her. Possibly, the description says, she will be a problem chimera. A biter. A clawer. A potential killer.
You see that now and then on the Web. A chimera kills her human.
In the shelter’s four photos, Baby Blue looks shy and fearful and gorgeous. She looks like Luna and Alana miraculously combined into one chimera. A blue-eyed ivory-wing with a lilac face-mask, artistic splotches of lilac on her silky white coat and wings, and a plumy lilac tail.
My fingertips hesitate on the keyboard. “What do you think?”
“Fill out the application,” Thomas says. “Do it, Susan.”
“A problem chimera?”
“She’s young. We can train her.” He adds, “She needs us.”
I feverishly navigate through the website. “You know, it will be a lot of extra work, caring for a chimera again. Just when our businesses are doing so well. Our careers transitioning into Act Two.”
I can picture who will take care of the chimera. Clean her eyes, trim her talons, floss her fangs, brush her coat, comb her wing feathers, feed her rabbit meat, change her drinking water, clean her litter box, take her out into the aviary, toss around chimera toys, ooh and aah.
That will be me.
Thomas looks at me. “I’ll take care of her, too. I promise.”
“It’s till death do us part. When she dies, we’ll be a whole lot closer to our own deaths. Are you prepared for that?”
“Absolutely. I’ll work harder than ever on the gemstones. Please, Susan.”
I click on “Apply.”
The application asks a lot of nosy questions. Are we married? Do we rent or own our home? Do we have children living there? How about other animals? Are we financially secure? What is our estimate of an acceptable veterinarian bill for medical services? Do we have heirs or other arrangements for the chimera if anything happens to us? Do we know how to train a chimera? What is our position on neutering, de-taloning, de-fanging, wing-clipping?
Neutering, yes. Everything else, no.
The application requires that we provide two local personal references and their phone numbers. It’s sobering and a little saddening to realize that, at four-hundred-thirty-four chimera years, Thomas and I don’t have a lot of local references. Friends have died or moved away. We’ve each run our independent businesses for a hundred-seventy-five chimera years, deal with gallery owners and clients and agents, but don’t have business partners or employees. Thomas’ parents and step-parents died many chimera years ago, as have mine. His cousins live in Washington State, my only sibling in Colorado.
I understand, I suppose. Purebred Chimeras Rescue is serious about adopting out chimeras to legitimate people. Not to people who would adopt an exotic chimera, then resell her for three times the price. Or de-talon and de-fang and clip her wings. Or sell her to a research laboratory. Or sacrifice her in some satanic ritual.
I shudder to think of it.
We’ve got Stuart as a local reference. Stuart is my tech guy at General Computer Store who replaced the motherboard on my aging Dell. And we’ve got Yoshio, a recluse who’s lived in our neighborhood for two-hundred-and-one chimera years. Yoshio owns a hundred-forty-year-old blue-eyed blue-wing. This last March, he asked us to feed, water, medicate, and fly her while he went off on his annual hike in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We gladly did.
I electronically sign and send the application. “When I was at the university,” I tell Thomas, “I saw an ad for Sita in the Ann Arbor Gazette. I drove to a farm outside of town, handed over ten bucks, and left with my clutchling, fleas and all. No questions asked.”
“It’s a different world,” Thomas agrees.
The next morning a woman emails me. She identifies herself as Gwyneth from Purebred Chimeras Rescue, asks for my phone number and when is a good time to call for an interview.
An interview? Yes. She informs me that twelve other people have applied for Baby Blue. That we shouldn’t be too disappointed if we don’t get her.
“What?” I shout at Thomas. “We finally find a chimera who could be our last and they’re playing games?”
“Send her another email,” Thomas says. “Insist. You’re good at insisting.”
I send Gwyneth another email reiterating how much we want this chimera. I beg and plead. I send the Web address of my weaver’s website, which features two pages of Luna and Alana, two pages of my husband’s carved gemstones, and twenty pages of my award-winning tapestries. A photo of Thomas and me on our wedding day. A photo of me holding Alana in our kitchen. Her furry white arms wrapped lovingly around my shoulders, plumy white tail curled around my waist, white wings fluttering. Thomas took it, one of those once-in-a-lifetime photos you cherish forever.
Gwyneth calls exactly at three in the afternoon.
“So you were this hot-shot industrial weaver and you left it all to make art?” she begins. For someone who wants to adopt out a chimera for a hefty fee—two thousand dollars, cash or check, no credit cards—her tone sounds  a bit belligerent.
My story is no secret. I’ve laid out my checkered life on my Bio page. “Yep,” I say amiably. “I love the craft of weaving. I just didn’t fit into an industrial setting.”
If she thought I was going to pull an attitude, apparently she doesn’t think so anymore. “I know exactly what you mean,” she replies. “I’m an architect myself, but I didn’t like dealing with clients. Now I run a boarding facility for chimeras. Go figure.”
“Which is amazing,” I say and mean it. I looked up Chimera Hill on Facebook. Found photos of a clapboard house beneath a giant avocado tree. Gwyneth is expanding the house, constructing aviaries adjacent to the cages so the chimeras can stretch their wings in the sunlight. “Really amazing.”
She gives a little chimera-like trill. Quizzes me about my previous chimeras. Had Sita, the biter, been de-taloned? Yes, she had. Vets did that in those unenlightened days. Now they won’t because it’s cruel.
“Oh, some vets still de-talon,” Gwyneth snaps. “That’s probably why Sita became a biter. Talons are a chimera’s first defense in the wild.”
“That’s a good point. Extract the talons, and the chimera has to resort to her fangs.”
“Exactly.” Gwyneth sounds pleased. “Do you understand about chimera nutrition? You and your husband look like New-Agey types.”
She’s baiting me. “I totally understand. Chimeras are obligate carnivores.” I recently stumbled upon this term in a chimera magazine. I’m happy to trot it out now.
“Obligate carnivores,” Gwyneth echoes as if she’s never heard the term before, either, but will use it to good advantage with some hapless interviewee in the future. “How do you feel about adopting a female chimera? Some people think they’re inferior to males.”
“Oh, no! We definitely want a female.”
“Okay.” A rustle of papers on her end. ”Just so you know, we’re keeping Baby Blue in a cage with two males. When the vet spayed her two weeks ago, she wasn’t pregnant.”
I don’t like the sound of that. I don’t want our chimera staying in that cage one more night. “I’ll come and get Baby Blue tomorrow.”
“I’ll pencil you in for Saturday.” Gwyneth is paying for the long-distance call but that doesn’t mean she’s allowed to bully me.
“Gwyneth, Saturday is the Fourth of July. Traffic will be hellish up to Santa Cruz. Drunk drivers?”
“Yeah, but tomorrow’s not good.” More rustling of papers. “Our reference checker has to teach class tomorrow. How about Thursday?”
They’re actually going to call Stuart and Yoshio? “Thursday, it is. I will be there for my chimera and I will see you then.” I’m not taking no for an answer.
“I’ll email you directions. Is Thomas coming with you?” Her tone turns coy. “His gemstones are beautiful.”
So she has given our website a going-over. How many of the other twelve applicants have a website with two pages of chimera pictures? “Nope. Thomas will be taking the chimera tree out of storage. And the water bowls and food bowls and chimera toys. And staking up the aviary in the backyard. Our new chimera will be the heiress to the bounty of our chimeras past.”
“Wonderful,” she trills. “But I do hope Thomas will come. I’d love to meet him. He’s really cute.”
I smile. “Yes, he is.”
For the rest of the brand-new August Lisa Mason cat fantasy story, join Tier 2 on my Patreon page at https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?u=23011206.
Donate from your PayPal account to lisasmason@aol.com. Thank you!
Visit me at www.lisamason.com for all my books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, blogs, roundtables, adorable cat pictures, forthcoming works, fine art and bespoke jewelry by my husband Tom Robinson, worldwide links, and more!

The Critic’s Corner
Review of Aquaman
Aquaman stars Jason Momoa as the title character, with Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Nicole Kidman in supporting roles. The film premiered in 2018, and we saw it at home in Late Spring, 2019.
This is yet another film based on yet another lucrative DC Comics universe. The outsized eponymous character, played by the amazing Jason Momoa, is a spin-off of a previous Avengers multicharacter universe. Apparently Aquaman made such an impression on the fans (and on the movie producers) in his brief appearance and role in that Avengers film that he got to make his own showcase.
First of all, the underwater scenery is so original (and what other comics take place mostly underwater?) and so dazzling that the visuals of the film nearly overwhelmed me. Seahorses as warrior horses, jellyfish, sharks, darting schools of colorful fish, even sea dragons. Wow. Yes, the visuals were overwhelming to this viewer.
Some overwhelming complex films I want to see right away a second time before I have to return the DVD to Netflix, or buy the film for our collection to see again sometime in the not-so-distant future.
But….
For my reservations and the rest of my Review of Aquaman, join me on my Patreon page at https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?u=23011206.
Donate from your PayPal account to lisasmason@aol.com.
Visit me at www.lisamason.com for all my books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, blogs, roundtables, adorable cat pictures, forthcoming works, fine art and bespoke jewelry by my husband Tom Robinson, worldwide links, and more!

8.10.19.YA.BOOKS

The Premier August Essential Digest
The August Book Blog
The Stack of YA Fantasy Books
Yet another neighbor is moving from the San Francisco Bay area, saying goodbye to California, and establishing a new residence in the State of Texas. The high cost of living in the Golden State, the high taxes, the crime, and other issues—well. I have no further comment.
She, the neighbor, gave me this stack of eight books (she added two more since this photo was taken, so that makes ten), as well as a dozen movie DVDs. I don’t know why people are always giving me books and movies. (Not that I’m complaining.) Husband Tom Robinson and I must own 20,000 books.
I don’t really need more books! Or do I?
As a Philip K. Dick Award Judge in 2015, I received hundreds of books from publishers hoping to win the award for their book. I’ve only just begun to clear out those stacks. I gave a big bag of books to another neighbor who is staying in California and reads and likes science fiction. Actually, two bags to two other neighbors. And I still have dozens of books left. Some (a very few) I’ll keep for my collection, of course. At some point, though (when I get off my lazy butt), I’ll take the rest up to our wonderful little local library and donate them.
So my neighbor left me this stack of books, plus two more, and moved away before I could ask questions. Are you a reviewer? Are you an aspiring YA fantasy author? Did you go to a convention? The books are pristine, unread. But she was gone. I’ll never know. It’s a mystery.
They are all beautifully produced hardcover books, with slip jackets, the author’s photograph on the back flap, mostly nice front covers (some I’m not crazy about), some with nicely done maps, all with excellent graphics and embellishments on the inside. All with “handwritten” notes from the author explaining why she wrote the book, all autographed (some with printed autographs), some with postcards of the book cover and a place on the back for a postage stamp and address lines. All were published in either 2017 or 2018 and all were priced at just under twenty dollars.
Eighteen dollars for a quality hardcover? Wow.
All by women. And all Young Adult Fantasy or borderline Science Fiction.
Three books are from the same Big Publisher, the rest from other Big Publishers. So that makes seven Big Publishers, altogether. And they’re all copying each other in terms production values and the extras. I’m sure the publishers—and especially the authors!—are hoping for another Twilight or The Hunger Games.
There must a big market for YA fantasy written from a teenage girl’s perspective, aimed at that audience, even given the overall declining market for fiction, especially print fiction. Especially hardcover fiction. A big, big market.
My novel dissecting the Sixties, Summer of Love, is told partly from the point of view of a fourteen-year-old girl. Bantam, the first publisher, tried to market the book as YA (briefly), with disclaimers about adult situations, drugs, and violence. But I was ahead of my time, book-marketing wise, by about twenty years. Now I hear that Netflix has a controversial teen-life series with many explicit issues. Okay. So you won’t be shocked by Summer of Love by Lisa Mason.
I did what I usually do when confronted with a stack of books. Read the book description on the jacket. Surprise! To be honest, I don’t care so much about the author’s credentials, where she lives, where she went to school, what she does for a living, whether she has a husband or a wife, a dog or a cat. I myself have sweated blood over my author’s bio to go on a book jacket. I surprised myself, this time, with my indifference to the author’s bio. I did read, though, the acknowledgements for purely selfish reasons: to see if there is someone I know mentioned.
But most of all, I read the first paragraph or the first page or a few first pages. They’re all well-written. Otherwise, the books wouldn’t be published by Big Publishers. But those first words don’t always appeal (to me, anyway) or don’t always make sense.
You, as the writer, are supposed to raise story questions in your first line, your first paragraph, your first page that compel the reader to read the rest of your story or book.
That seems obvious, but this is a subtle art. Who is the character who starts the book? What challenges does she face? Will she overcome those challenges and how?
You, the writer, do not want to raise questions of credulity. What do I mean? How and why the character would do such a stupid or unlikely action? Questions that stop the reader dead on the first page.
To read the rest of this review, join me on my Patreon page at https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?u=23011206.
Donate from your PayPal account to lisasmason@aol.com.
Visit me at www.lisamason.com for all my books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, blogs, roundtables, adorable cat pictures, forthcoming works, fine art and bespoke jewelry by my husband Tom Robinson, worldwide links, and more!