Ode to GLOW

Netflix GLOW

The Friday school bell rings, and I jump from my seat, race out the classroom door, and merge into a hall packed with giddy kids primed for the weekend. A grin spreads across my face as I envision sixty hours of freedom stretching before me.

I can’t wait for Saturday morning TV because my favorite show airs at 10 am:

GLOW (The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling).

As I race home along the winding streets of my neighborhood, I fly past the ice cream truck. Not today. My mind is occupied with thoughts of the next day’s matches, the costumes, and most importantly, who will emerge victorious from the fierce finale—the ultimate showdown—the Battle Royale.

That night, I don’t argue about bedtime. My mother doesn’t really know what I’m watching in the mornings, but it keeps me happy and obedient, so she doesn’t ask questions.

Saturday morning arrives. Daybreak. I pour myself a bowl of Chex cereal, top it off with milk, and settle in front of the TV. After a few hours of cartoons, the magical time arrives.

Finally.

My precious GLOW. What could be better?

Twenty or so women rapping, performing sketch comedy, and leaping through the air, dropkicking their opponents.

I’m ten years old, and GLOW is the pinnacle of my week. In a 1980s house without cable TV, the show is raw and outrageous, like nothing I’ve ever seen.

I want to be strong like the wrestlers.

And as pretty (the makeup is unreal).

Good girls. Bad girls. Should I pick a side?

Yes. I’m team bad girl.

Netflix GLOW
Source: https://www.pexels.com/@postiglioni

My favorite character is Dementia. Each week, she’s wheeled out in a steel cage. In case that’s not strong enough to control her ferocity, she also wears a straight jacket.

The Heavy Metal Sisters stomp into the ring in all their glory. Glitter and spiked chains highlight their outrageous outfits.

Then there’s Colonel Ninotchka—the arch villain—with her thick Russian accent and red leotard. She looks like the female version of Dolph Lundgren from the Rocky IV movie.

Afterward, I practice wrestling moves with my friends. We lunge across my childhood living room toward each other, bouncing against imaginary ropes. I reach out, arm straight as a pipe, and I hit Sara with a mock clothesline. She falls to the ground, and I grab her leg, lifting it up as I knick her in the back of the thigh. Again and again, just like Palestina.

She clutches her side, laughs, and climbs to her feet. And we reenact the latest episode again and again until we grow tired and run outside to play a game.

I remain obsessed with GLOW for another year before I outgrow it, my attention falling prey to boys, MTV, and music.

Twenty-five years pass, and I think of GLOW, search for it on the Internet, and wonder, “Whatever happened to that hilarious women’s wrestling show?”

Then Netflix launches the fictional series, GLOW in 2017, and I’m in heaven. The show delivers a nostalgia cocktail of excellent storytelling, fine acting, and all the glittery makeup and glam of the original.

The producers deliver a solid second season—better than the first if that’s possible. Episode eight is my favorite thus far because they create a full-length GLOW episode. Want a glimpse of what got this ten-year-old leaping out of bed on Saturday mornings? Watch The Good Twin.

You won’t be disappointed. Maybe you’ll even want to be strong.

And pretty.

And a bit naughty.

I won’t laugh if you practice your wrestling moves in your living room. I’ll be there, too, ready to clobber you with my clothesline hook.

Now, where’s my straightjacket?

*******

I have a new series coming in September 2018! It’s called Rogue Spark, and I think you’ll love it. Sign up to my email list so you get all my updates.

In future worlds, strong women fight the toughest battles.

Rogue Spark

The Verse [Dystopian Political Satire Flash Fiction]

The Verse flash fiction political satire. What does the future look like? Cameron Coral

Every year, I enter the NYC Midnight flash fiction story contest in which I have 48 hours to write a 1,000-word story.

How does it work?

There are four rounds. In July, you receive an email at 11:59 pm on a Friday night. The clock starts ticking, and you have 48 hours to write an original story.

But not just any story—you’re assigned a specific set of prompts:

1) Genre – the story style

2) Setting – a place where the majority of your story should take place.

3) Object – a random thing that must appear in your writing.

Participants are assigned into random groups, so there’s lots of variation in the prompts. Judges review the stories and award points. Everyone advances to Challenge #2, but only the top entries move on to compete in Challenges 3 and 4.

Last year, I wrote a fairy tale and an action story. This year, my first round prompt was:

1) Political Satire

2) Liquor store

3) A flip chart.

I’ve never written political satire! It was difficult to come up with ideas in such a short amount of time.

But I appreciated the challenge. My first draft ended up too dystopian!! It was grim. I was going for a Fahrenheit 451 vibe.

The story hardly qualified as political satire, so I rewrote it. My husband and parents served as hapless beta readers.

Draft number two was still too dark! I finally came up with a third and final draft, which I’ve shared below with you.

I’d love to know what you think. Please leave a comment below or email me: cameroncoralauthor@gmail.com

Thanks for reading!

**

The Verse

“Which window, again?”

“The left one,” Rik repeated over his shoulder as his daughter examined the poster containing the daily special: $20 off a case of Truth Enhancer wine. Ever since her implant, her short-term memory had shrunk to the size of a comma.

Inside the narrow supply closet, he grabbed the stepladder, then eyed the black duffel bag wedged high on the top shelf.

The pack contained his sleeping bag and enough supplies to last three days. A few times a year, he camped solo in Purgatory Chasm. The forest preserve was his refuge. Not a blasted wi-fi signal around for fifty miles.

Rik carried the ladder to the front of the store.

Janice rolled her eyes and climbed up to hang the poster. “I can’t believe you won’t switch to a digital display. Not FAIR!”

A bell chimed, startling Rik. “What’s that?”

Perched atop the ladder, Janice giggled. “Points I just earned for using one of the President’s snarkiest catchphrases.”

Rik watched as a cartoon smiling face floated down to him like a bubble. He swiped it away with his arm. “Your damn brain implant generates emoticons?

“Brain Enhancement. Don’t be such a hater.” Another bell sounded.

He sighed and scanned the empty parking lot outside. Damn the Versers. Since the election, he’d warned Janice against the “upgrade.” But she was stubborn and tried to convince him the Verser party wasn’t so extreme. He clung to the hope that maybe things wouldn’t be so bad.

The pundits had predicted mediocrity. Certainly, nobody had expected the newly elected administration to unveil a neuro-communications breakthrough, a new Internet they called the Verse.

Just a quick twenty-minute appointment was all it took for the government to insert its proprietary nano-chip into your occipital lobe. Then, presto! You were always ON. Never again would you miss a presidential chirp or a heartwarming video of kittens snuggling with tortoises.

After America’s favorite television health expert, Dr. Borgus, endorsed the program, people lined up in droves. The suicide rate dropped. Loneliness didn’t exist when your constant companion was the hum of millions of people tapped into your neural networks.

Janice stopped attending high school. Rik had been furious. “School is for losers,” she cried. “If I go, I’ll fall behind on all the latest snap-chirp videos!”

“What the heck is snap-twerp? Can’t you record it and watch later?”

“Dad! Recording? Videos disappear in eight minutes. Duh!” A frowning face suddenly floated in the air before him.

His customers had shaken their heads in amazement at the prospect of letting the government inside their heads. “Not us. No way!” But as the public grew swayed by the mounting celebrity endorsements, even his most skeptical customers succumbed.

Afterward, they came by the store and only spoke in soundbites and emojis.

“How ya doing, Bernard?” Rik asked one of his long-term patrons.

“Things are better than ever. The economy is ROARING. Wow!”

After similar exchanges, Rik avoided small talk. Instead, he grunted, rang up their purchases, and shuffled them out as quickly as possible. Their implants meant they only half-listened to his comments about the weather anyway.

He prayed for an alternative. But the only other party had flubbed the election, and their influence weakened every day since President West rose to power.

How could you win against a platform that promised seamless connectivity at the speed of thought? “A new frontier of innovation,” West declared during his victory speech. “And available for a low monthly payment plan. Chips for EVERYONE. Even illegals.”

Life had made sense. Janice would take over the shop one day. But he’d never predicted the sudden political change. Post-implant, his customers didn’t consume as much alcohol as before because they were occupied with making up snappy zingers. His business had practically been wiped out overnight.

Late afternoons, Rik used to share an Irish coffee with Mr. Jones who owned the dry cleaner next door. Post-election, both had expressed dismay at the state of affairs. But Jones got the chip a few days ago, and Rik didn’t join him outside on their shared sidewalk anymore, preferring to busy himself drawing new posters of the daily deals that decorated his storefront.

Janice had begged him to install flashy digital window displays. “These are all the rage. Businesses that have them double, even quadruple their sales. The signs are hooked into the Verse, so thousands of people see your specials instantly.”

But he preferred to illustrate his banners with magic marker on an old-fashioned flip chart. ‘Keep it simple, stupid,’ had been his motto since opening twenty-five years ago. Now stupid seemed to surround him.

Janice descended the ladder, and he surveyed her work. “Good job, pumpkin.”

“Ugh. Paper. It’s like the stone age.” A blank look crossed her features, and she tilted her head as if listening.

“Janice?” Her vacant stare persisted. A bored look, common among teenagers, their attention stolen by screens. Rik waved a hand in front of her face before she came to and met his gaze.

“You okay?” he asked before trotting behind the counter and wiping it with a rag. He yearned for simpler times–before implants tapped into a person’s brain, distilling every thought into pictures and soundbites.

She opened her mouth as if to speak, but a croak emerged. Her eyes widened, and she snapped her mouth shut.

“Honey?

She nodded and pretended to zip her lips together. Then she pointed at a string of floating emoticons.

Rik squinted at the shimmering icons: An eye, a heart, and a finger pointed at him.

“I should have taken you away from here. Canada,” he said, pouring himself a whiskey.

She blinked and flashed him a poop emoji.

“So long, baby girl,” Rik kissed her forehead.

He swigged his drink, feeling its warmth swell in his chest before collecting the camping pack from the closet and stepping out the back door.

The Girl Who Flew to Mars (Flash Fiction)

The Girl Who Flew to Mars
Dear Mama and Gil,
I’m writing this knowing one of you’ll find it stuck between the cushions of the old Ford—the “tank” as we kids nicknamed it. You weren’t talking to me, so what other choice did I have? I snuck past the fence in the dark of night, jimmied open the truck and stuffed it in the front seat.
The Girl Who Flew to Mars
Source: https://www.pexels.com/@olly

When you find this, I hope you’ll read it all the way through. Promise you’ll keep reading?

First, I’m sorry. Sorry for the pain I caused you. You said me leaving was like losing a child—as if I’d gone and died. It breaks my heart that you think that way. Mama, I’m going on an epic adventure! I hope you’ll come to see it as I do—someday.

Remember when Gil bought me my first telescope? I was eight if I recall. Well, he forever changed my life. You couldn’t get me to bed after that! My eyes literally grew sore from staring up into the heavens each night.

The Girl Who Flew to Mars
Source: snapwiresnaps.tumblr.com

Is it any surprise that when Space Command called, I raised my hand? I know, I know. You think I’m certifiably nuts to take the voyage.

It wasn’t an easy decision! I hope you know that. A one-way ticket with no possible hope of return. Believe me, saying goodbye to everyone I know and love has been hell.

But you always taught me to forge my own path. I have you to thank, Mama, for teaching me how to live off the land, how to survive on my own. You made me the warrior I am today.

Imagine what I might find on Mars! I’ll be one of the first to colonize the planet. My dream is to make it livable for future generations. To be part of something bigger than you, me, and all the Rosemonts put together.

The Girl Who Flew to Mars
Source: www.spacex.com

Who knows? Maybe our family name will go into the history books. You can damn well bet I’m going to leave an impression.

A few requests if you’re still reading this…

 

  1. Take care of Misty. Damn, I love that horse. I would’ve liked to have been here for her and my 25th birthday. Give her a big hug and kiss for me? Oh, and let her have a few bananas on her special day.

  2. Would you put a few wildflowers on papa’s grave every September 5th? That would mean the world to me.

  3. Tell Rik and Kurtis that just because I’m gone, they do not get my old room! You are to turn it into a library or a sitting room for you, Mama. Don’t let those boys railroad you into making everything about them.

  4. Please don’t cry about me. You’re not losing me. I’ll be up where I belong. I gazed up at the stars ever since my hands wrapped around that first scope. I never really felt earth-bound. You know what I mean?

By the time you read this, I’ll probably be prepping at Space Q in Palo Alto. Sorry it’s such a long haul from Kansas.

I hope you read this letter all the way through. Mama, I’m going to miss the hell out of you. Please try not to feel guilty or sad. I know this has been so hard on you and the gossips in town have been whispering behind our backs.

Whatever they’re saying—whatever stupid stories they make up—none of it’s true.

The truth is I’m just a farm girl from Clay Center, Kansas who got lucky. I’m heading into space with a one-way ticket to Mars.

I’ll think about you every day. The program head promised we can send a radio message once a month. It’ll take a few hours to arrive, and then I don’t know how fast space command will get it to you.

When you look up at night and see the stars scattered across the vast sky, know I’m out there, and I love you.

Your girl forever,

Charlee Rosemont

American Visionary Art Museum: You Don’t Need Formal Training to be an Artist

00:11 What’s an indie author?

01:10 Why it’s important to create–even if you don’t have formal training.

1:30 Recent visit to the American Visionary Art Museum

02:50 Art from the museum that will blow you away!

Have you ever felt like an outcast? Like maybe you don’t belong or felt like a fraud?

Have you ever tried to accomplish something outside the traditional establishment?

You’re not alone. I’m Cameron Coral, and I’m a sci-fi author who is proudly independent.

I don’t have a traditional publisher who paid me an advance. Nor do I want one. I’m an indie author meaning I dream up, write, produce, and market my books solely on my own.

I don’t have a literary degree. I’m self-taught. I’ve invested a ton of my personal time and energy and money into training and learning from other successful fiction authors.

Maybe some people out there frown upon this. But I believe in supporting local small businesses, helping the underdog like my main character Ida Sarek in my sci-fi series.

And not just authors, what about the art world?

When you go to a museum, typically you’re seeing people who went through traditional training – they went to art school for many years, got degrees and worked under mentors.

Hey, there’s nothing wrong with working your way up. But I didn’t know at a young age what I wanted to do. And neither do a lot of people.

So to be able to start pursuing your creative passion at a later stage in life is part of our journey as humans.

Recently, I visited the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland and was blown away by amazing art from people outside the established art community.

Packed with indoor and outdoor exhibits, the American Visionary Art Museum is like no other museum I’ve ever been to. The artists are intuitive, self-taught artists.

Some of the creators are homeless, disabled or mentally ill. Most used everyday objects to create remarkable works of art.

So, what you’ll find in this video are some of my favorite art pieces and sculptures from my visit.

I hope this video and the art will inspire you to have the courage to create. Because no matter what your background and whether or not you’ve had formal training, you have a unique story to tell.

And maybe that story comes out in words or in images or maybe one day you decide to build a statue out of toothpicks and buttons.

It all makes sense. You are a creator.

I highly recommend putting the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, MD on your list of places to visit on the east coast.

What did you think about the video? Add a comment to this page and let me know!

P.S? Have you signed up for my monthly newsletter? It’s a good one, I promise. I share news about my experience as a writer and creative, updates about my sci-fi and fantasy books, and much more. You’ll get to see cosplay pics and other fun & weird adventures.  Don’t miss it! Sign up below….

 

Ten Reasons Why Robots Are Awesome

robots are awesome

“Calm down,” my mother said as she stifled a laugh.

Panicked nearby shoppers in the suburban Maryland mall circa 1980s relaxed their shoulders when they saw my mother comfort me.

I had just encountered my first robot.

 

At age five, I was shy. My mom thought introducing me to the robot would be a good idea. A cute photo op.

But I had other ideas.

The robot was tall—a huge looming, lurching beast in my memory. In reality, it was a five-foot person dressed inside a plastic outfit doing a mall meet-and-greet outside of KB Toys.

All the other kids loved it. The robot guy probably figured it was an easy gig.

But then he met me.

Terrified, I screamed as though someone had hacked my arm off. The shriek pierced the eardrums of the passing holiday shoppers, causing them to halt and scan the scene for a deranged child abuser.

As I sprinted away from the robot in a panic, little did I realize how much I’d eventually grow to love robots. Later, when my mother explained there was a person inside, my older brother rolled on the floor laughing.

Was it really a human in the robot? Or was it a conspiracy? The beginning of an uprising of 1980s mall robots?

Maybe an army of mallbot warriors lies in wait underneath the rubble of America’s old malls. Future story idea?

Over the years, my fear of robots turned to fascination aided by a steady childhood viewing diet of The Jetsons, Buck Rogers, and Small Wonder.

As an ode to that lonely, well-meaning mall robot (dare I call him MALL-E?), here is a list of why robots are awesome and not scary.

 

1. The new Lost in Space robot.

You can’t help but adore the rebooted robot in LIS—the 2018 Netflix reboot. When young Will Robinson saved the alien robot’s life, he bonded with the young boy much to the surprise of the Robinson family.

Most of the characters would be dead already were it not for the strength and intelligence of the robot. While he may be socially awkward, the touching scene in the cave where the robot dipped his hand in paint signaling he wanted to be part of the family was endearing and unforgettable.

Let’s hope there’s much more of the robot in future seasons. Also, the robot is kind of hot. 

2. Robots make cool armor.

Somewhere in Japan right now,  companies are solving the problems of the future by designing gigantic metal robot suits. Check out this amazing (and alarming) video. 

KURATA, the world’s first robotic mech suit

Is this really happening? Are these the military uniforms of the future?

3. Robots make us consider our own humanity.

In his iconic book, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick introduced the world to replicants—androids made of organic matter who were identical to humans. Only an array of bizarre, mundane questions administered through a test held the clue to their true identities.

robots are awesome
Source: Blade Runner | by abductit

Enter Rick Deckard, a cop fed up with his numbing day-to-day existence who hunted for a group of rogue, escaped replicants. We eventually learned the replicants yearned to survive and experienced deep emotions like love and attachment.

The book, and subsequent Bladerunner movies caused us to question what it means to be human, to have a soul, and why one species is “better” than another.

4. When all else fails, send in the robot.

The unsung hero of Aliens was the resident android, Bishop. Ripley hated him at first because an older model went berserk on her prior ship and murdered a bunch of the crew. No wonder she was suspicious.

But when the hungry aliens literally crawled through the walls and the last survivors were stranded far from the only capable ship, who else but Bishop would be fit for the task of wiggling through a long tunnel, programming the ship, and rescuing the humans?

robots are awesome
Lance Henricksen
Source: Wikimedia Commons

In short, Bishop rocked that movie and (spoiler alert) managed to save Newt with only half of his body.

5. Robots can take over the tasks you hate and improve your life.

One of my childhood fantasies was to one day own a machine that would automatically shampoo, dry, and fix my hair in seconds like this one from The Jetsons.

6. They do your housework.

One of my favorite purchases ever has been my robotic vacuum cleaner. My favorite kind of vacuum is the one I don’t have to push.

I turn it on and housecleaning is done in minutes. That is awesome.

7. They serve and protect.

Growing up, I had a crush on Peter Weller as Robocop. I mean, who wouldn’t?

robots are awesome
Source: ROBOCOP | by Wacko Photographer

Rumor has it Weller was hired for his strong jawline. The casting director hit the mark as he turned out to be the perfect actor for the cyborg title character.

8. They run cool hotels.

The Netflix original series, Altered Carbon, is fantastic for many reasons. One of my favorite characters on the show is Poe, the AI owner of The Raven Hotel.

He dresses as if he’s Edgar Allen Poe and will do anything to protect his guest. Takeshi Kovacs ignores warnings that nobody stays in AI hotels anymore and becomes Poe’s first guest in 50 years.

robots are awesome
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Will we stay in AI hotels someday? I hope so!

9. They redeem themselves.

No list about robots would be complete without mentioning The Terminator. It’s hard to imagine anyone but Arnold Schwarzenegger playing the role.

Of note is Arnold’s transformation from a relentless killing machine in the first movie to protective father-figure in Terminator 2.

Good news! Arnold and Linda Hamilton are coming back in 2019 for a Terminator reboot from James Cameron.

10. They might be our creators.

robots are awesome
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Red pill or blue pill? Here’s why we might actually be living in a Matrix-like computer simulation.