kaigou: so when do we destroy the world already? (3 destroy the world)
Two stories now that I really would've liked to like, but the more I read of each, the harder a time I had with them. Here's the relevant parts from each teaser. From The Lascar's Dagger:
Saker appears to be a simple priest, but in truth he's a spy for the head of his faith. Wounded in the line of duty by a Lascar sailor's blade, the weapon seems to follow him home. Unable to discard it, nor the sense of responsibility it brings, Saker can only follow its lead.

And from The Alchemist of Souls:
When Tudor explorers returned from the New World, they brought back a name out of half-forgotten Viking legend: skraylings. Red-sailed ships followed in the explorers’ wake, bringing Native American goods--and a skrayling ambassador--to London. But what do these seemingly magical beings really want in Elizabeth I’s capital?

The problem is that in both cases, these seemingly magical beings are real people.

I've run across lascars a few times in my own research, but they're not a well-known culture in the west. Wikipedia has a halfway decent entry on them, which summarizes things well enough:
A lascar (Lashkar, Laskar) ... was a sailor or militiaman from the Indian Subcontinent or other countries east of the Cape of Good Hope, employed on European ships from the 16th century until the beginning of the 20th century. The word comes from the Persian Lashkar, meaning military camp or army, and al-askar, the Arabic word for a guard or soldier. The Portuguese adapted this term to lascarim, meaning an Asian militiaman or seaman, especially those from the Indian Subcontinent. Lascars served on British ships under 'lascar' agreements. ... The name lascar was also used to refer to Indian servants, typically engaged by British military officers.

Despite much digging on my part, there isn't a lot of Western/English study on the lascars. )
kaigou: Edward, losing it. (1 Edward conniption)
I manage/design/dev an NFP's site for their annual festival. Last year the traffic was MASSIVE, and we nearly shut down the servers. I told the NFP we'd need to switch to a REAL hosting service, one with mirrored servers who could handle a million hits in the course of eight hours.

Well, they waffled and put it off, and were like, oh, yeah, but still. I ran into issues with the service in October, November, and December, and said, no, we really need to switch. They finally got around to dealing with it early January. After some deliberation, I suggested Dreamhost to them -- should've gone with my own isp, 1and1, even if it's more expensive & doesn't have NFP breaks, WHATEVER -- and it was hell doing the step-by-step process to switch hosting.

EXCEPT. The domain reg company WOULDN'T TRANSFER THE DOMAIN. Even when the domain owner paid $15 and faxed in info to update her email (whut!?), and talked to them ON THE PHONE and when we'd put the request through from Dreamhost, it'd get denied. WHUT!? We tried twice, and finally the NFP was all, oh, we can't deal with this right now, it'll be fine.

Hello, it's 830am on the day of the festival, DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR SITE IS.

It's down. Crashed. Gone. Unobtainable. Error establishing a database connection KTHXBAI.

stab stab stab stabbity stab stab )


ETA: guy messages me on facebook.

Guy: Hi, I'm a manager at [largest server-farm hosting company in city]. Looks like you're having trouble with your hosting. Get in touch with me, we'd love to help out!


(no, actually, I was nicer than that but the general ALL CONNECTIONS BUSY PLEASE TRY AGAIN IN A FREAKING WEEK was probably pretty clear.)
kaigou: Edward, losing it. (1 Edward conniption)
Well, not all people. Just people in the limited category of "people" and "selling stuff". Not to me, the selling part, that is. But people who sell stuff are proving themselves remarkably brainless right now. Almost as brainless as my neighbors in general.

As I've kind of danced around mentioning, there's an app. I built it (and some of you helped test it). It's live now. And boy is it collecting every twit in the city, and believe me, this city has 'em by the boatloads. All kinds of hijinks therefore must ensue.

I want to shoot them all. )

Don't EVEN get me started on the people actually organizing this. I love em, dog help em, but right now they're driving me crazy and it wasn't that far a trip in the first place. Honestly. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. If you want stuff for free, think back to what your site looked like when it was done for free (horrible) and the extent of your social media presence (none). That's what you get when you pay nothing: NOTHING.

Meanwhile, on the neighbor front, we've got a dog living in the 100-acre park behind my house. No collar, possibly fixed, and terribly skittish around people. Probably yet another cruel soul who decided easier to just dump the dog than find it a better home. A neighbor's been organizing a feeding station for the dog, and working on a way to catch it; she even set up a camera to get pictures of it (to help in determining whether it's lost dog or really was dumped). Her wildlife camera is seriously high-quality, getting some gorgeous shots (far better than mine!) and she's been posting them on the neighborhood elist.


So despite the sudden and terrible drop-off into bleak depression middle of last week (and I don't even have family around to do that for me, I have to rely on the insanity of clients), I've been trying to write. Last stretch of the story, but then again, I'm guessing it must be lagging tension-wise because no one's reading anymore, that I can tell. Am I digging? YOU BETCHA. It's been that kind of week. I could use some reminders of if not awesomeness, at least tolerability. DO IT OR THE APP GETS IT. *bricked*
kaigou: Edward, losing it. (1 Edward conniption)
From an interview with the author:
Q: I’ve studied Japanese for six years and been to Japan yet still may not have been able to execute a Japanese-inspired world as real and sensational as yours. What was the research involved in bringing the world of Stormdancer to life? Or did you drink some magical sake and try your luck?

A: I’ve had a few people say that, and it’s really flattering, but honestly I think most of my research was done via osmosis. I’ve always had an interest in Japanese cinema and manga, so I absorbed a lot of knowledge through that over the years. Wikipedia was really my go-to source for information, plus a few specialized sites dealing with the Tokugawa age.

The cool thing about writing a setting that’s inspired by Japan, but not actually Japan, is that you can take what you want from history and mythology and leave the rest. Take thunder tigers, for example – there’s nothing close to griffins in Japanese folklore. But without thunder tigers, there would be no Stormdancer.

My theory has been that if you want a place inspired by Japan (or anywhere) that's not actually Japan (or wherever), then you must avoid all non-English words that are not long-standing loan-words, for starters. At the simplest level. Otherwise, you're obviously writing about a certain place because the non-Englishness is going to act as a red flag, and pull people back into the concrete this-place that's the analogue to your wherever. This is why authors make up their own words & phrases in fantasy and science fiction, except in those cases where they specifically want you to be thinking France, Japan, Mozambique, or wherever.

But I'll let other folks do the talking, since that's hardly the only thing wrong with this story. Oh, Goodreads, why do you recommend stuff that just makes my blood boil?

Discounting manga/anime, I can count on two fingers how many Asian-inspired fantasies I know of. Stormdancer gets the middle one.

Have a small link roundup. )

And some useful posts, for you guys and also for me:
kaigou: Skeptical Mike is skeptical. (1 skeptical mike)
Went through a spate of books recently. A few got DNF'd, but I finished more than half, which is decent. But still.

One notable exception: a story I liked, wanted to like, until the point of an attempted-rape. Now, that's not the issue (and I should note, it was considerably less triggery since the characters were in wolf-form at the time, which tends to distance things slightly). No, the issue was that when the cavalry came charging in to save the day, the accusation they leveled at the would-be rapist was that he'd attempted to rape a mated wolf.

At which point my brain said: so, if she was single, it would've been okay?

I have no idea whether the author was just tooling along on her own train (we all do that) and didn't realize the implications. I would certainly hope that she didn't really intend to say that rape is far more rape-y if you're in a relationship than it is if you're single, but on the other hand, I don't actually care what she intended. There, on the page, the characters make no bones about it (and then proceed to repeat the same phrase -- attempted to rape a mated woman -- several more times).


Less disgusting but equally annoying in different ways is the use of intro paragraphs in epic fantasy. Also, a bit on the evolution of fanfic into profic. )
kaigou: (2 start drinking heavily)
I have an interview tomorrow. (Nothing big there, been on the search for a few weeks now, but that's another story involving many complaints about the "hot new title" in my industry and the number of managers who seem to be renaming all sorts of non-title jobs to the title, and wasting my time in interviews.) This position is not confused (as far as I can tell, at least) about the title/definition, but it's...

Well, it's a lunch interview.

Y'know, there's a reason I use my initials on my resume and my portfolio and my online site. Not just the basics of not letting anyone have the option of assuming that because I am Gender A or Gender B that I can (or can't) do the job. But also because I've done my share of interviews-in-bars, and interviews-at-lunch, and while I'm not 18 anymore (so I doubt it's necessarily the exact same dynamics), I can't forget those lessons. Lunches are what you do with friends, and dates. You are not on a date with your potential employer, and the casual situation makes it too easy for some guys (already in a position of power via gender, and then as potential employer) to make things even murkier.

Sign me up so very not.

On top of that, I did a search for restaurants around the office's location, because I want to know what else to suggest in case the primary suggestion is Italian. (Pasta, you're great, but you attack people who eat you, and same for you, Pho.) Oh, look, it's nothing but bar food. Independently owned, but you can't tell me that Joe's Bar, Logan's Bar, and something-or-other Bar & Grill, times ten, is going to be anything other than, well, bar food. I loathe bar food. Not because it's bad, but because it's boring. Life is too goddamn short to eat bar food.

(And life is way too goddamn short to eat what American bars believe passes for Irish food. You Irish on my flist, you know I like you, but the American bar concept of Irish food leaves a great deal to be desired.)

Or we could walk the two blocks to the nearest acceptable restaurant -- a Thai place. A quarter-mile away (about two blocks and hang a right, go a block). In 101F heat. For a fucking job interview.

And then I must ask: am I going to be expected to pay for my half? Why? I didn't ask to go on this fucking lunch date. I'd be just as happy not having to walk anywhere in 101F heat at 1pm, thank you, and I'd be just fine sitting in a nice, cool, air-conditioned conference room for an hour. And I wouldn't even have to pay for the benefit of being forced to stomach bar food.


I mean, I don't mind going out to eat. But if I'm going to pay for it, then I want to eat something I enjoy eating, and on top of that, I want to eat it with someone I want to be with. That list of people is really fucking short, and it does not include -- nor will it ever include -- an employer, let alone a potential employer. I am not interested in a fucking social life as part of my job. And I sure as hell don't want to be fighting to keep my attention solid, while choking down bar food, and trying to hear someone (or yell at someone) over the goddamn background noise. Is this an interview, or the equivalent of an introvert's stress test? And I'm supposed to pay for this pleasure?

I really hope I get word in the morning from the second interview with that other company. The one that -- ironically enough -- has offices within walking distance of one of the town's best sushi restaurants. I'm addicted to their sushi. But I still wouldn't go there for an interview.
kaigou: Toph says: hell yeah, meeting adjourned. (2 meeting adjourned)
Per the poll in a previous post, I'm clearly not alone in being more likely to do the teeth-gnashing when it's a badly-written story with a theme I'm normally pretty invested in. And pursuant to that...

Dear screenwriter(s):

It's episode 14 of a 16-episode series, and I CANNOT TAKE IT ANYMORE. I get that you really wanted Miss Female Lead to be something other than a damsel in distress, and that's great. And I also get that you didn't want her being the usual thriller/action Action Girl, either, but just to be a relatively normal person stuck in a tangled web. That's fine. We could probably use more relatively normal people stuck in tangled thriller/action webs. But here's the problem: apparently in your dictionary, "agency" is spelled S-T-U-P-I-D-I-T-Y.

Let's review what Miss Female Lead knows to be the facts on the ground, shall we?

1. Her (biological) father is a Mafia boss in Thailand.
2. A guy, who works at some nameless IT corporation, likes her.
3. The guy has a brother (adopted) who works at the same company.
4. Adopted brother turns out to be her childhood sweetheart.
5. She likes Brother better than Guy.
6. Also, Father works at the same nameless IT company with his two sons.

What she doesn't know -- at first -- is that "nameless IT company" is really NIS (the kdrama's version of FBI/CIA/whatever, National Intelligence Security, I think it is). When Brother gets fired for mucking up his first mission, he realizes he now has time to actually, y'know, be a human being and possibly show some emotions (as opposed to continue being eaten up by the usual kdrama I Must Have Vengeance For My Parents' Deaths rigamarole). Anyway, somewhere in there, Miss Female Lead finds out that all three men in the family work for NIS. Then, tragically, Brother dies in Horrible Car Accident! Much grieving abounds.

...Three years later, Mafia Boss Dad comes to Korea, and in tow, is a guy -- we'll call Undercover Guy -- who looks exactly like her dead boyfriend! I'd say it's a kind of coincidence that only happens in kdrama land, except that I've seen the same thing in animanga, Hollywood, and probably one or two Brazilian soap operas. ANYWAY. So she briefly lampshades that this bizarre coincidence could only happen in dramas, but what does she do now?

Stab stab stab stab stabbity. )

Sorry, show, I know I stuck it out with you for this long, but I can't take it anymore. Stop loving me. REALLY.

kaigou: this is what I do, darling (4 no sacrifice)
I've been sitting on this rant for awhile, but what-the-hell, I'm going to post. If you like to play the oppression olympics, don't read this. If you react favorably to the following statement: "immigrants have it the absolute worst in the US," then you probably won't want to read this, but maybe you should anyway. Just consider it walking the length of this post in my shoes, with citations.

Clover, Carol. Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1992.

One of Clover's chapters, Getting Even, discusses a concept she calls "urbanoia". She defines it loosely as the (horrorific/horror) archetype of the civilized city-dweller's feelings against/about the uncivilized (savage, primitive) country-dweller.
An enormous proportion of horror takes as its starting point the visit or move of (sub)urban people to the country. (The eternally popular haunted house story is typically set, if not in the country, then at the edge of town, and summer camps set in deep forests are a favorite setting of slasher films. ...) ...That situation, of course, rests squarely on what may be a universal archetype [in which the non-city] is a place where the rules of civilization do not obtain. People from the city are people like us. People from the country (as I shall hereafter refer to those people horror construes as the threatening rural Other) are people not like us.

She gives several examples of just how the rural Other is different: adult males with no immediate family connections, or extreme patriarchal rulership (with the occasional extreme matriarchal rulership), and abnormalities like "psychosexually deformed children", with "degenerate specimens [as] the material expression of family wrongness..."

She goes on to summarize the basic appearance of the rural Other, in terms of the standard elements of the genre convention:
...country people live beyond the reaches of social law. They do not observe the civilized rules of hygiene or personal habit. If city men are either clean-shaven or wear stylish beards... country men sport stubble. Likewise teeth; the country is a world beyond denistry. The typical country rapist is a toothless or rotten-toothed single man with a four-day growth. ... As with hygiene, so with manners. Country people snort when they breathe, snore when they sleep, talk with mouths full, drool when they eat. The hill people of The Hills Have Eyes do not even know how to use knives and forks. Country people, in short, are surly, dirty (their fingernails in particular are ragged and grimy), and slow ("This ain't the big city, you know, things take time," a local handyman drawls to our city heroine in The Nesting, and the city invaders of Pumpkinhead refer to the locals as "vegetables"). What is threatening about these little uncivilities is the larger uncivility of which they are surface symptoms. In horror, the man who does not take care of his teeth is obviously a man who can, and by the end of the movie will, plunder, rape, murder, beat his wife and children, kill within his kin, commit incest, and/or eat human flesh... No wonder, given their marginal humanity, country people are often nameless or known by cognomina only.

CP brought this book to my attention after I spent one dinner ranting -- and I don't mean the usual annoyed complaint-airing, I mean truly angry ranting... about a map. There are weeks where I should know better than to follow links, but I was curious, and that right there should've been a sign, but still: a map that assigns movies to states based on "one movie set there that seemed reasonably typical". (h/t: [personal profile] wordweaverlynn)

Some of them are relatively obvious: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Raising Arizona. Some of them require you be aware the filmmakers would be State Cultural Treasures (if there were such a thing): Maryland has Jon Waters (Pink Flamingos), Rhode Island has the Farrelly Brothers (There's Something About Mary), New Jersey has Kevin Smith (Clerks). Others have region as distinctive aspects of the film, like The Wizard of Oz for Kansas, Dances with Wolves for South Dakota, and A River Runs Through It (in which Montana should've gotten top billing, if you ask me, for providing such backdrops). A few make no sense to me at all, like Glory for South Carolina, a film that's about the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. So a big battle takes place outside Charleston... it strikes me as odd that a film "reasonably typical" about South Carolina would star, well, yankees. But anyway.

I didn't expect that many surprises, and you probably won't see too many yourself, if you go look at the map. While you're there, take a look at the state that's down near the bottom-right, in orange. Go ahead, I'll wait, just making conversation over here while you go see. )

NOTE: if you are considering a comment in which: you say that you, personally, have Southern friends and they make jokes like this all the time, I won't reply because (a) this post is NOT ABOUT YOU and (b) you're blurring ingroup/outgroup humor and maybe you need to think about that more. If you raise a defense via attacking on the topics of slavery, slave-ownership, redneck-analogies, or how Others have it worse, I will DELETE your comment as oppression olympics and/or derailing.
kaigou: pino does not approve of where the script is going. (2 pino does not approve)
I was watching a Taiwanese pop-idol drama (that is very much NOT the usual fare), called Gloomy Salad Days. I'll post more on it later, but the object of my extreme fury right now is Wikipedia. There's an entry for the drama, with episode summaries, cast listing, etc. The drama deals with some pretty intense topics -- teenage pregnancy, same-sex love (both male-male and female-female), even a transgender character. What's important to me is that the transgender character is not just respected by the script -- his wish for a regular, every-person kind of life as the man he is (on the inside) is treated by the script as right, as a valid and worthwhile desire. That's pretty unusual.

...and then you get to the Wikipedia entry. It's not just that it's a jumble in terms of grammar, spelling, and punctuation -- it's clearly an adaptation/translation from a non-English description -- but the real capper is that some asshat decided to use apostrophes around the transgender character's pronouns. As in, 'he' does this, 'he' does that. Maybe it's just me, but after watching the episodes that give the transgender character such respect, and empathize pretty much entirely with his plight, and give voice to his desire for acceptance, friendship, and love (and then give all of that to him!) -- I found the apostrophes to be absolutely and completely offensive, above and beyond violating the very spirit of the storyline itself. It's not an understatement to say I was livid.

So I edited, as I'm wont to do, here and there, when an entry is particularly egregious in re bad writing. I cleaned up the descriptions, made them clearer grammatically per English, adjusted some of the inconsistent anglicization of some of the names (ie, the surname Ah, which when written as simply A is awkward in English)... and then rewrote the episode summaries to remove the apostrophes. If the character is identifying as male, then per English, use "he"; if the point (which I would disagree with strongly, but still grant) is to say it's a female character from the get-go, then freaking use "she". You don't put freaking apostrophes around someone's pronoun unless you're mocking them or intending to imply that the pronoun is false.

This evening, I'm back by Wiki, and I see an odd note about a message. I'll let it speak for itself.
Although everyone is welcome to contribute to Wikipedia, at least one of your recent edits, such as the one you made to Gloomy Salad Days, did not appear to be constructive and has been reverted or removed. Please use the sandbox for any test edits you would like to make, and read the welcome page to learn more about contributing constructively to this encyclopedia. Thank you. ~ Draksis314 01:39, 13 December 2010 (UTC)

Dear Draksis:

Fuck you.


see comments for updates -- haven't gone back to the entry myself yet; still working on that calm-down concept.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (4 no sacrifice)
[continued from part 1]

Ms Lindholm, you wrote: "The only person in my extended family who ever took drugs for his condition long term did not achieve any success until he weaned himself off them. Is that unique? If your brain is wired a certain way, is it truly an illness? Or is it ‘artistic temperment’ [sic]?"

Continued from the original post, now broken in two. )
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (2 what I do)
I should've said this before: this is LONG, and when I say something is LONG, you can expect it to be about six times as long as the longest long you've seen. I know I go on, but the length here is in direct proportion to the height of my temper. Just so you're warned.

RE: This Is Your Brain On Drugs . . .

NOTE: consider the above link as having a trigger-warning if you have a disability, know someone who does, or are sensitive to sudden spikes in blood pressure when in the vicinity of someone with a big megaphone busy talking out of her ass.

Ms. Lindholm's blog topic on May 20th of this year puts her in the Tom Cruise Denouncing Postpartum Depression category: someone rattling on quite definitively with little to no comprehension of the facts, in a way that essentially amounts to what you are experiencing is not only all in your head, it's a personal problem and shame on you for thinking you should, or even deserve, to seek a resolution.

First, to make this perfectly clear, the issue at hand is ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and its counterpart, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). The two are cousin-conditions that we could generally define as "a state of excessive mental activity, sometimes accompanied by excessive physical activity (the hyperactivity element)".

ADD and ADHD are not mental "illnesses". ADD and ADHD are disabilities.

More precisely, they are cognitive disabilities, along with other cognitive disabilities such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and dyspraxia. ADD/ADHD shade into the class of physical -- because 'chemical' in the brain is still, fundamentally, a physical attribute -- disabilities, while the cognitive side is what impairs or affects thought processes like learning new skills, accessing short-term memory or transferring new information into long-term memory, capturing and comprehending incoming information, and so on.

So, to repeat: ADD/ADHD is not an 'illness'[1]. It is not something that you catch; it is not something you can cure. It is, like so many other disabilities (including learning disabilities), something you live with. You find a way to get through, and if you're really lucky, you find things that will help you deal with the disability, and the stress it causes in your life each time you ask someone around you to put up with, help cope with, or even just feel compassion for, the result of having that disability.

But because this is an alien concept for you, Ms Lindholm, let me make it perfectly clear for you, as well as any readers following along at home. )

[ continued in part 2 ... yeah, had to break it in two. sorry. ]

To clarify a few things that might've gotten buried:

[1] Many mental illnesses are also disabilities. I'm only focused on ADD/ADHD here, but a lot of what I say here could be extended easily to autism, bipolar, OCD, and others. What I dislike is the hidden connotations in that term: mental = "all in your head" and illness = "something curable". As though it's acceptable to dismiss the illness and/or expect one to get better! The truth is that any long-term condition, even those manageable with various tools/treatments, are (to me) not 'mental illnesses' but '[mental] disabilities'; they infringe on our ability to live as full a life as we'd have without them, and thus on a practical level are all disabilities to some degree.

[2] I am not saying that diabetes/heart-disease/ADD is a simplistic direct correlation, that because diabetes has clear-cut medication requirements, so does ADD/ADHD. Technically, the analogy fails already at 'heart disease', since that disease's medications are a cocktail to be carefully navigated to fit the particular patient, just like any medications for ADD/ADHD. But in terms of those who carry social prejudice against medication for mental/cognitive disabilities, the diabetes/heart-disease analogy does work, or I wouldn't freaking use it. Like all analogies, it breaks down when you go too deep, but for my purposes it holds up: medication is a valid tool.

As someone who, ironically, has responded to very few medications for ADD/ADHD, I will never tell you that my life is intact due to medication. In fact, I'm still here in spite of modern psychiatry, yet I continue to believe medication is a valid and crucial corner of the triangle of treatment. It may not work for every disease and every person, but it should not be discounted as an option, out-of-hand, either. The patient-and-doctor in question, ultimately, should make the decision -- not social prejudices about the mentally ill.

[3] If you are, or know, or think you may know, someone with ADD/ADHD, the best book I've found for concrete behavioral coping mechanisms -- with info for supportive family/friends, too -- is ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life by Judith Kolberg and Kathleen Nadeau. Just FYI, if you wanted more concrete info on how to help yourself, or a friend or family member.

[4] A much-shorter follow-up on what's going on in the brain (roughly, very unscientifically) when it comes to ADD/ADHD medication, cobbled out of the explanations of a whole lotta doctors & neurologists.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (4 vortex of stupidity)
Dear Hollywood:

It's not just that you suck. You do that, plenty (and you always have, as has the vast majority of any entertainment anywhere at any time, if we're honest). It's that you spend so much freaking money on things that suck. The result isn't that I'm mad that you suck, I'm mad that you suck in ways that leave me out.

I don't mean in the sense of "I don't see myself on the screen". I sure see plenty of stereotypical representations of myself -- well, I used to, and then I turned 30 and any actress my age who couldn't continue to pass for twenty-two effectively dropped off the screen. (Not counting the few lucky ones who resurfaced in their mid-40s as token powerhouses.)

I mean in the sense that, well, I resent the hell out of what you produce.

It's glorious! It's ground-breaking! It's absolutely breathtaking and awe-inspiring! The CGI, the 3D, the blue screen is a thing of the past and we're into full surround-sound green-screen worlds-only-in-my-head now on the big screen. If Cocteau were alive today, I don't know whether he'd be having apoplexy at directors' inability to do any tricks in-camera these days, or whether he'd be kicking Cameron's ass for Director Most Likely To Spend 98% Of The Budget On Effects.

But I resent it, because what's a glorious visual is absolutely the most incredibly mediocre -- if not outright pathetic -- story. It's like, somewhere along the way, you guys forgot that your job is to tell *stories*, or you just got tired at how much that's, y'know, HARD WORK, and you figured if you just threw a whole bunch of *pretty pictures* at us, we wouldn't notice the big honking lack of STORY. )
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (3 break out of prison)
Read these anyway, because they're worth the time.
  • University of Fantasy's hush hush, the designated love interest and gender relations in YA
  • bookshop's Bad Romance (or, YA & Rape Culture)
  • Fugitivus' Another post about rape
  • Inwhichagirl's Why YA Romance Needs to Change
  • Shapely Prose's Schrödinger’s Rapist: or a guy’s guide to approaching strange women without being maced
  • Feministe's Predatory Theory
  • YesMeansYes' Shroedinger’s Rapist And The Imagined Right To Intrude and Boundaries
    Note: obvious potential triggers, given all posts are about rape and/or rape culture.

    For those of you coming here after the dust settled, here's a quick summary. I asked for people to list any YA story details they'd like to read, wherein the story's basic plot would be "ordinary girl defeats stalker-rapist, wins the day and love in the process (and that true love ain't with the stalker-rapist, either)."

    The comments started piling up, and... well. Most replies were overwhelmingly positive, and even the critical comments were still polite, don't get me wrong. But taken as an overwhelming whole of all the replies together, it became impossible to ignore that something was really wrong, and the majorly-revised post below was my answer to what I saw going down.

    I'm not sure where things failed per communication, but come on.

    I'm not enjoying being jumped on by readers assuming that because I didn't put up a neon sign that says YES NOT-USIAN IS OKAY and instead only said "anywhere in this world" that I must automatically be US-only and US-biased. Way I see it, if someone is going to interpret "anywhere in the world" as really meaning "only in the US" then that's someone else's bias, and not any bias actually existing in the text.

    I'm not enjoying being lectured about enforcing heteronormativity -- me? seriously!? -- when I thought it was pretty obvious that M/F was not required when I said "does he (or she!) notice [the protagonist] for the first time..." And then revised to remove all pronouns, and then further revised to include both male and female pronouns. What more does anyone want, a freaking neon sign that says YES COULD BE GIRL?

    I'm not enjoying feeling like I'm having to moderate so heavily because people would rather tell me all the things I'm missing when I'd only intended to ask questions to get ideas started, rather than lay down maximum guidelines that anyone had to pick from.

    I'm really not enjoying feeling like I must have really really misstated somewhere, when the focus of nearly every reply has been on either not-this-world fantasy, or future-setting science fiction.

    I know I can be wordy, but it's been a long time since I've felt like I've been this freely misinterpreted, and I'm not feeling anymore like I should be the one apologizing. I've revised and revised and revised, and now I've reached the point where I'm willing to say: no, it's NOT me, for crying out loud. I really am getting read through a lens of other peoples' biases, and I'm not enjoying being repeatedly put on the defensive because someone else is reading too fast.

    As for the last -- the not-our-world, not-our-time versions -- that pisses me off the most. What's the message in there? That to write a story where a girl stands up against the rape culture is only possible and believable if it's not in our world, and not in our present day? That we need to wait twenty years -- or be on another planet altogether -- before it'd be okay for a young girl to tell a guy where to get off and have her demands be respected?

    When the stories doing the worst damage right now are all stories set in our time and ostensibly taking place in our world, how can anyone possibly argue that stories not in our time or not in our world could have near enough power in comparison, let alone enough to undo the damage?

    It reminds me of stories published in the 1800s that described places or worlds where women could vote or where blacks were equal to whites: oh, it's a nice idea, certainly, and the story can even be popular, but a lot of that has to do with the fact that a sexist or racist reader can justify enjoyment by saying, that doesn't really apply, that is not our reality. They can dismiss the story, even as they can pay lip service by saying, "sure, if we lived in that world or that time, then maybe we'd all be equal or women wouldn't have to see every strange man as potential rapist or pigs would fly" -- and the real message that comes through is that since we don't live there or then, so none of those lessons need apply.

    And that is not a message that I think is okay, not at all, not when we're obviously up against a trend so horrendous -- that it's not just okay, but right for young girls to be stalked, terrorized, abused, assaulted, raped, and their fears ignored or outright dismissed, and that having suffered through all this that it's not just okay, but good when they then fall in love with their stalker-rapists.

    Yes, science fiction and fantasy have their place. I'd be one of the last to argue otherwise. But in this context, in this genre, the contemporary has a power that cannot be defeated by "what it'd be like in thirty years" or "what it'd be like if we were all blue and living on Pluto" -- it can only be defeated, I've come to believe, by showing our next generation of women that the things they deal with, here and now, can be changed, should be changed, and that we -- the generation who went before, who now produces the works that these younger women read -- are aware of what they face, and we are using our own experiences to give them paths to follow, to lead them out of that goddamn cage of the rape culture, and that yes, as a matter of fact, that we do not believe that the only path to true love is to accept the stalker-rapist, that we call that as bullshit and are here to help them see there is a better life -- a better world! -- possible.

    That's all I'm asking for, all I wanted, to see how many people would be willing to say, to articulate, here are ways and means I'd want to see that better storyline played out. Maybe I should've expressed it in some other way, maybe I should've come up with some easier way for non-writers to outline their response, maybe I should've figured out how to put it to make it clearer that one approach would be to list what readers wanted to read -- and didn't get or find -- either at that age, or now when wanting books to give their own daughters.

    Maybe I should've done a lot of things, including keeping my mouth shut. Since that's always a possibility, I'm going to try that route now, and if you want to push a meme of the same ilk, do it on your own posts.

    This entire post is now frozen.
  • kaigou: pino does not approve of where the script is going. (2 pino does not approve)
    I can forgive a lot (okay, up to a certain degree) when it comes to storylines between a man and a woman, because I know an author can only push the gender structures so far before the average reader would start to balk. That's just a fact of how we, as people, internalize the gender constructs of our society. (This goes for most societies, not just Western, so I don't think it's a massive over-generalization.) What I can't forgive is when an author is trying to tell me a character has a dominant personality, but picks the wrong way to illustrate this and ends up writing the character as a jerk, instead.

    Recently I was reading a story by an author who usually has a decent sense of characterization; her plots tend to be straightforward, but she has a good handle on pacing. That combined with a deft hand for the psychology can make up for a lack of complex plotting, but then, I suppose not everyone reads for unexpected twists. Plus, this author usually does a pretty good job of exploring the psyche in power exchanges, whether these are the implicit kind or explicit as in BDSM. But a recent release by the author had me gritting my teeth. One tiny -- but oft-repeated -- detail underlined a subtle but crucial behavior that is not 'dominant', so much as a sign the character is a damn prick.

    It's all in the nickname.

    Main female character, we'll call, hmm, Elizabeth. A solid name, not that unusual. She introduces herself as Elizabeth, and in narrative and in dialogue, is referred to as Elizabeth through most of the story. (I believe there's even a snippet of dialogue where her manager calls her by her full name, as well.) In walks Mister Dominant, who's been wanting a chance to convince our dear Elizabeth that he could be The One.

    And then he calls her Bethie.

    No, she corrects him, it's Elizabeth.

    He just smiles... and spends the entire rest of the story calling her Bethie.

    Dear reader, I wanted to punch him. )

    It is, in a nutshell, privilege, and I can't stand it, nor can I respect anyone who plays that game. It's nothing more than belittling or demeaning another as the sole route to making oneself feel greater in contrast. That's not being a Dominant. That's just being a goddamn asshole.
    kaigou: this is what I do, darling (4 pretentious with style)
    First, for the sake of easier typing, OP can mean either "original poster" or "originating position".

    A discussion is when two or more people are talking about a specific topic. Let's call this discussion, "A", and the voices involved in it are therefore "Group A". A different discussion is going on at the same time. That would be discussion B, and its members are Group B, and so on. Some people are in A and B, some only in A, some only in B.

    If you reply, directly to Group A, and as a participant in Group A, and state your own position as agree or disagree, (cf my earlier post about this), that's a Yes or No.

    If you say: "yes, but..." or "no, and also..." (explicit or implicit), you're digressing. You're presenting, in some way, a position that creates Discussion Drift: you're moving away from the substance of the OP and expanding it, narrowing it, carrying it to its logical conclusion, or making it all about you. Any of these (and more) can be Drift. Depending on Group A's general attitude (and whether your digression is also a derailment), your comment might be welcomed, tabled, ignored, or outright ridiculed.

    If you go off elsewhere and open this tangential-to-A topic within a different post, journal, or community (and so on), you are now the OP of Group C, discussing the "but/and-also" section of your original reply as a distinct OP. You set out your position, and Group C merrily debates (which may or may not include cross-repliers from Groups A or B).

    The explanation I saw of derailment -- which at the time seemed eminently practical and easily applicable as a rule-of-thumb -- was that it doesn't necessarily mean the reply is wrong per se, only that it's inappropriate in context. If we replace 'derailment' (a loaded term for many) with the more neutral 'digression', then the statement works for a variety of OPs. It basically amounts to: "it's okay to say Maybe, but it's not okay to say it in this context."

    Which is great, but that does rather beg the question: what, exactly, is meant by 'context'?

    All along, I've been under the impression, and this seems widespread, that 'context' is defined as (roughly) the scope of a community, the scope of a single post, or some other easily identifiable perimeter. )
    kaigou: this is what I do, darling (2 so you wanna revolution)
    Reading urban fantasy. What book? Doesn't matter, because this isn't the first time I've seen this or similar. (Aside: publication date is 2008.)
    White witches weren't so bad, though maybe that was only because most of them [weren't very powerful]... Black witches gained power by killing or torturing things: from flies to human.

    Yes, I do find those adjectives to be hugely offensive. A writer's stock in trade is the power of words, and thus one best equipped (and possibly expected) to ask: is this really the best word for my purposes? Especially when, as in this case, the answer is a resounding FUCK NO.

    I mean, let's say you argue that white and black are 'just colors'. Why must it be those two? What about Orange Witches and Purple Witches: what's your first impression of which must be good and which must be bad? How about Chartreuse Witches and Puce Witches: no value judgment and probably even less of any meaning, thus demonstrating color in and of itself does not dictate a thing's morality.

    The story even adds that on the whole, witches are untrustworthy regardless; the only reason White Witches aren't scary Black Witches is because the former type isn't all that powerful. Implication being that if a White Witch could be more powerful, s/he would immediately fall into Black Witch territory and go haring off on torture and death sprees, which takes the fail to even greater levels.

    Plus, this good/bad division ultimately makes no sense in context; the good guys don't even like witches. They consider witches a necessary evil, and the operative word here is evil, though they may cooperate with certain witches when needed. What's the logic here, then? Good guys can't ally with (bad) witches, so we must minimize the evilness of the not-worse witches? Hmm, let's call them white — because white is automatically less-bad/better than black. Righto!

    This is like saying, "well, he murdered, but y'know, it was just that one time — it's not like he murdered lots of people!" Even when we have need (eg for state's evidence), we don't dance around with euphemisms: a murderer is a murderer, be that once or many (serial) times. We don't label the former as less murderous; we label the latter as more murderous.

    That's why I say it's not just racist, it's racism by dint of inertia. It's falling back on the status quo, same as defending the use on historical grounds (black magic and white magic). It's equally historical to use left-hand/right-hand, sinister/dexterous, dark/light, night/day, even clockwise/widdershins, to name a few. The black/white dichotomy is hardly the only cultural set of monikers to designate magical morality. Furthermore, I'd say it's ingenuous (if not outright disingenuous) to protest that 'history' justifies ignoring a term's modern meaning. 'Cunt' may have once been a compliment, but that was a thousand years ago — and if you call a woman that now, don't come crying to me after she punches you in the face.

    TL;DR version: the predominant rationale for white=good and black=bad is based in racism.

    It's not that hard to try something else. It just requires a few seconds' thought (although that does require a willingness to be arsed enough to be aware of the need). In this story, frex, if a witch gets power from controlling life, call that a Life Witch. If it's via torturing living creatures to death, call that one a Death Witch. There, see? Two seconds' thought and I came up with a descriptive term that actually tells me something — and doesn't require I tap into racist slurs to grasp the text's meaning.

    Our language has millions of words. I refuse to believe that the inadequate and essentially bland color-adjectives are an author's only freaking choices to describe bad and more-bad, and I further resent being made to feel a silent accomplice in the text's racist undercurrents. If the combined gatekeepers+author never stopped to even realize what's being said in the text, that's idiocy. If they realized but didn't see it as worth addressing, that's reprehensible.

    But if they didn't see reason to change it because they figured I'd never realize or care, I find that the most offensive of all.

    note: if you comment anonymously and don't sign your post, I reserve the right to ignore your nitwittery. Have the decency to stand behind your words.
    kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
    continuation of lambda, literature, voices, and also, I live in the taj mahal.

    Pop quiz! Name the moron who made this statement!
    “I think it’s one of those things where I pull my hair up, shave the sides, and I definitely need a tan.”

    If you answered "Jackson Rathbone," you get a cookie! And thus, I hereby propose:
    rathbone /ˈræθboʊn/ [rath-bohn] v.
    1. To appropriate or fake membership in a minority group, based on a belief that such appropriation requires little effort to be sufficiently convincing: She thinks hair dye's all it takes to rathbone it.
    2. To hoodwink, or be hoodwinked by, faked membership in a minority group: He totally rathboned the casting director.

    that's some awkward phrasing. any editing suggestions, better example, maybe?

    For another real-life example, here's someone encouraging a rathbone in the LLA kerfluffle*, with context being that the LLF would take it at face-value that a nominee is part of the community: "just say you're bisexual, that's easy enough." Or a speaker rathbones, "I kissed a girl once or twice in college, that should be enough to call myself bisexual." Or you can rathbone vicariously! When person A would like to have that award, and admits s/he isn't sure whether the label applies but notes, "it just says that if you say you're LGBT -- whatever that means to you -- then you are." If the audience exhorts, "just say you're bi!" then we've got vicarious rathboning!


    And a collection of other random addendums I was too tired or time-crammed to include in the last past, along with thoughts prompted by comments. )

    The books I chose for my bookstore, the default recommendations to my LGBT teenaged customers were always LLF awarded-books -- because I knew these stories would be authentic voices, would be a reliable 'core' of LGBT literature. I wanted my customers -- kids and adults alike -- to know that they were reading a book by someone who had been through the same thing, who got them on a deeper level. To mangle Stephen Vincent Benet, 'no straight that was ever foaled could know the inwardness of it'.

    Until a queer kid doesn't have to fear for his life in being queer, until a queer kid never faces a life or even a single instance of being treated as invisible, until even as queer adults we have that freedom as well, we all need not just the courage of those stories. We need the courage of the people telling those stories. We need to know that someone else has stood up and been willing to take that risk and come out, to be visible. A non-LGBT person's story may be good, but it just isn't enough, and for that reason, a non-LGBT person's story -- no matter how popular or writerly -- will never suffice.

    Thank you for reading, thank you for considering, and thank you for your words and thoughts in return.
    kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
    [note: there are some minor errors in here where I conflated things -- like mission statement for org, vs mission statement for awards, whoops -- and I need to get around to editing or at least adding clarifications. until then, however, you'll find all corrections and discussions of such in the comments.]

    There's a massive kerfluffle ongoing about the Lamda Literary Foundation (LLF) and its recent alteration to its rules of inclusion for its annual awards (LLA, or Lammies). After contemplating, working through a few kneejerk reactions and taking a big step back, this is me eating some of my original reactions now that I've got some distance from the original messengers, and it seems to me that the one bearing fault for this to-do is, unfortunately, LLF -- but not for the reasons most people are going on about.

    In fact, the original fault, I would say, is actually that of a few authors (and by extension, their publishers), but LLF compounded this fault and poured gasoline on the fires of wank by some badly-chosen words and failure to communicate effectively.

    Before I get into that, I should clarify something. If you read the thread about this at Dear Author, it may seem to you that I do a lot of the complaining myself that I may seem to be condemning, here. I do have a chip on my shoulder about the LLF, which is only somewhat relevant here but does tend to color my reactions when anyone mentions the foundation. However, my disagreements with the wider LGBTIQ† community -- of which I am a part -- does not in any way validate a non-member's disagreements. My complaints do not constitute giving you, the non-member, a right to use me as example or justification for your conclusions -- ones which, I can pretty much guarantee, I won't agree with. Why? Your premise will be faulty: you are not a member. Simple as that.

    Secondly, the vast majority of my own complaints are, and always have been, centered on being a marginalized minority within the LGbt (little letters on purpose) community. Where I, and mine, are not invisible, we are treated as though others wish we were invisible. The few places in literature you may find us, we are nearly always stereotyped, caricatured, completely mis-represented, if not outright dismissed. So, yeah, I gots some complaints about my community, but I have the same damn complaints about the greater mainstream society. I'm not picking sides; I think pretty much both suck equally, some days. Just so you know.

    Now that's out of the way, let's talk about literature.

    In an academic/traditional sense, a 'body of literature' -- lesbian, black, Chinese, gay, women's, native american, ethnic, etc, etc -- is made up of writing by members of that group. For instance, "lesbian literature" is, by definition, a work whose author is part of the lesbian community. A piece of "black literature," then, is a work whose author is African-American, African-European, African-whatever: the author is black.

    Their Eyes Were Watching God is 'African-American literature', having been written by a black American woman (Zora Neale Hurston). In contrast, Gone with the Wind may have significant black characters, and has sold probably a bazillion more copies than Hurston's book ever has or will, but Mitchell's book is not 'black literature'. And if you were to try arguing that it is, you would probably get laughed out of any decently-educated gathering, and rightfully so. Same thing would happen if you tried to argue that "The Lone Ranger" is Native American literature. You wouldn't get much farther than your opening statement and then you wouldn't be able to hear yourself talk, because everyone would be on the floor in hysterics at your absolute stupidity, if not ready to throw you out for your unmitigated gall.

    This is where LLF went wrong. )

    I will continue the rest tomorrow, most likely. Yes, there is more. That's how irritated I am.

    Also, free bonus text: the obligatory footnotes! )

    continue to part II: random thoughts and follow-up commentary
    kaigou: this is what I do, darling (A2] start drinking heavily)
    So here's the deal behind the last post, with context. Have a seat. This might take a bit, but believe me, it's amusing enough. (Or is, if you're me.)

    Awhile back I joined a number of comms on LJ while trying to track down some of the more obscure fan-translated manga out there. I'd search for what I wanted, maybe check each comm every few days to every other week or so, and the rest of the time none of them show up on my daily flist. (That flist is long enough already, without high-traffic comms making it worse.)

    [Note: I am not even getting into the legalities of translations and copyrights in this post. I can, if you're wondering, since I did look them up, but that's beside the point for this rant.]

    At some point, I opened one comm to see what was new, and what did I see but at the very top a post about -- and link to a mediafire download for -- an ebook. Not a fan-translated manga, not a raw/original-language manga, but an American e-publishing company's ebook, written by an American author, and one whose work I've enjoyed and support. (And you know who you are, my dear, so have a drink and relax, this story's got a happy ending.) Well, mystified as to what an English-language, clearly-copyrighted work was doing being traded in a manga forum, I went looking at the tags -- and lo and behold, there's not just one or two authors that have slipped into the middle of a manga-trading community.

    No, more like seventy authors -- and for a lot of those authors, the comm's trading their entire body of work. Two titles. Three. Five. Entire series: seven titles, ten titles, more. If on average every author had around four titles, and let's say the average price might be around $5, that's fourteen hundred dollars worth of ebooks listed. For free download.

    Perhaps I should also mention: this is all listed a comm with more than three thousand members.

    Potential losses? Oh, in the area of about four million two hundred thousand dollars.

    Flabbergasted doesn't really begin to cover it. )

    Dear author: I adore your work, but please to stop enabling the cabbages in the audience, mmkay?

    Dear LJ: you still suck. Even when you don't do anything at all. Sometimes, especially when you don't do anything at all.

    Dear mod: this is a bucket of ice water, this is your head, this is your head in a bucket of ice water.


    with slight footnote. )


    kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
    锴 angry fishtrap 狗

    to remember

    "When you make the finding yourself— even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light— you'll never forget it." —Carl Sagan

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