a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
other gardeners 
ceciliatan: (default)

As many of you know, I’m a previous winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Leather Association, a leading organization for activists in the pansexual SM/leather/fetish community. Right now I remain active by helping to judge the nonfiction entries for the annual writing awards. I just got the press release announcing the finalists for the 2013 entries and I’m pleased to notice that two books published by Circlet Press have made it onto the lists! House of Sable Locks by Elizabeth Schechter is a finalist for the Pauline Reage Novel Award, and No Safewords edited by Laura Antoniou is a finalist for the Samois Anthology Award!

Winners will be announced this fall at the NLA-I general assembly (date/place TBD).

Here’s the full list of finalists:

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.

18 April 2014 19:13
pantryslut: (Default)
And now Victor Hugo takes a page to lecture his critics about their dismissal of his (and other authors') use of slang in literature.

This is me making little heart eyes.
18 April 2014 22:11 - From the vasty deep
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
"GLENDOWER
I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
HOTSPUR
Why, so can I, or so can any man;
But will they come when you do call for them?"

They do if you use the magic words David Brin Glory Season. Or one will, any, from the deeps of the interwebs.

18 April 2014 15:43 - [ObMeme]
yhlee: icosahedron (d20) (d20 (credit: bag_fu on LJ))
Random links? I'm trapped at Joe's work. Foxes especially appreciated. Here's my linkcontribution: Vegetarian fox is just babysitting [Cheezburger.com].

Alternately, let's play shag, marry, toss off a cliff! Anyone?
18 April 2014 15:52 - RAINN on Rape Culture
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

Will Shetterly wrote a blog post asking if I had addressed “RAINN’s refutation of ‘rape culture’” yet. I’m writing this less to respond to Shetterly and more because I think there’s some good conversation to be had around RAINN’s recommendations. But I should warn folks that by invoking his name and linking to his blog post, I’m basically guaranteeing that Mr. Shetterly will show up in the comments. To Will and anyone else, please remember that trolling, refusing to respect boundaries, and general dickishness will get you booted.

The Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN) released 16 pages of recommendations to the federal government. In his blog post, Will chooses to quote a TIME Magazine article by Caroline Kitchens about “Rape Culture Hysteria” that references a few select paragraphs from RAINN’s recommendations. Kitchens claims that by blaming rape culture, we “implicate all men in a social atrocity, trivialize the experiences of survivors, and deflect blame from the rapists truly responsible for sexual violence.” She talks about the “thought police of the feminist blogosphere,” and how the concept of rape culture poisons the minds of young women and creates a hostile world for young men.

I’m glad to know Mr. Shetterly is looking for good, objective reporting to validate his crusade against those he dubs “social justice warriors.”

Let’s look at the primary source and talk about what RAINN’s recommendations actually said, shall we?

The paper opens with a discussion of how rape is alarmingly underreported on college campuses. Rape culture is mentioned on page two:

“In the last few years, there has been an unfortunate trend towards blaming ‘rape culture’ for the extensive problem of sexual violence on campuses. While it is helpful to point out the systemic barriers to addressing the problem, it is important to not lose sight of a simple fact: Rape is caused not by cultural factors but by the conscious decisions, of a small percentage of the community, to commit a violent crime.”

I absolutely agree that it’s important to hold rapists accountable for their choice to rape. I’ve been saying and emphasizing and teaching that for decades. I think it’s absurd to claim an individual has no responsibility for their crime … but it’s equally absurd to claim that crime occurs in a cultural vacuum, or that these two ideas are mutually exclusive.

Most of the time, when I see rapists being excused with little more than a wrist-slapping for “cultural” reasons, it’s judges and police blaming victims, or the old “boys will be boys” attitude that minimizes the severity of the crime and the responsibility of the rapist. Which is exactly what so many conversations about rape culture try to point out.

RAINN says it’s important to remember that the rapist is responsible for the choice to commit rape. I agree. They do not say that the concept of rape culture is invalid, only that it shouldn’t overshadow the need to hold individuals responsible for their crimes.

RAINN recommends a three-tiered approach to reducing rape on college campuses:

  1. Bystander intervention education: empowering community members to act in response to acts of sexual violence.
  2. Risk-reduction messaging: empowering members of the community to take steps to increase their personal safety.
  3. General education to promote understanding of the law, particularly as it relates to the ability to consent.

Bystander intervention includes educating people about what rape is, helping them see beyond rape myths and victim-blaming narratives, sharing the research that explains how the majority of rapes are committed not by strangers, but by people the victim knows, and so on. (Strangely enough, a lot of the points I made in a blog post about rape culture a few years back.)

RAINN acknowledges the difficulty in separating risk-reduction from victim-blaming. Personally, I have very little problem with a risk-reduction approach. I do have a problem when that’s the only approach, which seems to happen all too often. When people focus solely on what women/victims can and must do to reduce rape, then we put the responsibility on them. If your only idea about reducing rape is to tell women what to do differently, you’re the one who doesn’t understand that rapists are responsible for their decision to rape.

I’ve been pushing for education for ages, including education about the laws. And for improvement in those laws, based in part on a better understanding and definition of consent. Unfortunately, a lot of people have a very poor understanding of consent. We encourage things like getting prospective sexual partners drunk, pursuing reluctant or uninterested partners, and the myth that you should just magically know what your partner wants. (It’s almost like we have an entire culture that doesn’t really get how consent works.)

On the legal side of things, RAINN stresses that college advisory boards aren’t in a position to be deciding rape cases. I agree. I worked as part of a student justice program at Michigan State University. Rape cases went to the police. We tended to work with things more on the level of catcalling from the street, trying to intervene with behaviors and attitudes before they escalated to more serious crimes. The goal was early intervention and prevention.

But there’s also a culture (oh look, there’s that word again) of secrecy around sexual assault and abuse, and I certainly understand that many institutions do try to bury rape reports and pretend it’s not a problem for them. Steubenville is a good, well-known example.

The report then goes on to talk about:

  • The need for more education for everyone about rape
  • The need for the legal system to respond more seriously to rape cases
  • The need to provide support services to victims
  • The need for more research

In RAINN’s 16-page report, we find a single mention of “rape culture,” which is part of a paragraph stating that rape culture shouldn’t be used as a way to remove responsibility from the rapist. Sorry, Will. I see no “refutation of rape culture” here, just a call for a balanced approach, one which I generally support and agree with.

I get that Mr. Shetterly is mostly just interested in scoring points against those he deems “social justice warriors.” My advice to him would be that if your knowledge and understanding of rape is such that you believe “saying no usually works” to prevent it, maybe you should try talking listening to rape survivors and learning more about the topic before you try to have this kind of conversation.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
(not in relation to anything I mentioned getting)

Before sending your ebook out for review, take a quick look to make sure it's readable. Just had one that isn't. Looking at it, i would guess it was originally a pdf and someone fed it through Caliber without double-checking the resulting epub.
18 April 2014 12:49 - writing: statistics
yhlee: (SKU: Anthy/Utena (credit: sher))
42 stories published at some point by my count.

Male main characters/protags: 14
Female main characters/protags: 28
Unspecified sex/gender/whatever: 2
Also, "characters" is meaningless applied to "A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel," which is doing the Olaf Stapledonian thing with civilizations, sorry.
Of those characters, one (Loi Ruharn from "Wine") is FtM; everyone else is defaulted to cis.

Het main characters/protags: 6
Lesbian main characters/protags: 2
Bi main characters/protags: 1
Everyone else defaults to unspecified. (Well. Shuos Jedao is bi in Ninefox Gambit but there is zero evidence for this in "The Battle of Candle Arc," so I have him listed as unspecified. I really doubt he had any time to think about sex at Candle Arc.)
Um. I have one gay male pair in "Echoes Down an Endless Hall," whom I managed to kill off, although I also killed off the entire rest of that squadron except the one dude who...escapes only to be brainwashed and cyborged by his own side.

Yeeeeeeeeeah this needs work, although I am super super super reluctant to write trans* characters not because trans* characters are evil but because I'm trans* and I really don't feel like bleeding onto the page for other people's freaking entertainment reading, thankyouverymuch.

cut for raw data )
swan_tower: (Default)

The Last Supper in Salt
Creative Commons License
This work by http://www.swantower.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

This is a wall mural of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting of The Last Supper. It sits in St. Kinga’s Chapel in the Wieliczka Salt Mine . . . which means that, like pretty much everything there, it’s carved out of rock salt. Which, you have to admit, is pretty impressive!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

18 April 2014 11:30 - This I believe
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Fake banana is the best fake flavour.
18 April 2014 11:00 - New Scientist's ARC
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Did it really only have the two issues or is the entry for it in ISFDB incomplete?
18 April 2014 09:30 - Cool Stuff Friday
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

This has been quite the week! Thanks for the birthday wishes, the support and encouragement on the release of Invisible, and for just generally being awesome…

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

ceciliatan: (darons guitar)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

It has been a busy 10 days since the Kickstarter (http://kck.st/R31kCx) launched and I wanted to catch everyone up on how the campaign is going. We topped $1,000 on the very first day, but the next $1,000 took the next 9 days to reach, so you could say things have slowed down a lot. We’ve only got another $1,500 to raise and 20 days to do it, so I feel confident we will. But I would like to remind folks of a couple of things:

1. DGC Chat!
I’ll be hosting an online video streaming chat on May 1. You can RSVP via the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/470709286390303/ or just check out my uStream channel from 8-10pm eastern US time on May 1. Here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/cecilia-tan

2. Stretch Goals!

Read the rest of this entry » )
17 April 2014 23:16 - good things
jinian: (bold bananas)
1. Totoro - Dr Who t-shirt.

2. Met a grad friend walking to school today and had a good conversation.

3. Rainbows in Queen Anne.
yhlee: icosahedron (d20) (d20 (credit: bag_fu on LJ))
I...may never be able to Exalt because lizard's reaction was "That's mean." Which probably means no breeding for me. :p And lots of grinding for more nest space? But we'll see.

ETA: Well, we have a nest of three eggs going because lizard wanted to try breeding before I managed to tell her about limited slots and Exalting...we'll see...

Read more... )

Thank you to everyone who helped us get started! I am, um, stupidly addicted to the Coliseum, which has been my gateway drug into Final Fantasy I...
17 April 2014 13:15 - CONNNNN!
vixy: (rock gods)
As you may have already seen via Tony's blog, we (the full Vixy & Tony band) will be at Norwescon this weekend! 

Our concert will be Friday (tomorrow ACK) at 8:30pm, followed by a short break, followed by the concert of the fabulous Seanan McGuire!

I'm debuting a brand new song! It's about geek pride and inclusivity and aaaaa it's my new baby and I am nervous. :) I'll post the lyrics here sometime after the concert, but I think it'll be best heard sung, so I hope you can be there.

On Saturday at 10pm, we'll be playing backup band for Molly Lewis. She's got some new stuff too, and it's super fun!

I'm also excited because I get to drum my little fingers off for both Seanan & Molly this year (and maybe a little for myself too) and I've been having a BLAST doing it!

Back to work now for a few more hours, then off home to pack. Hope to see you there!

o/~ IIIII don't wanna work... o/~
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

April 17, 2014

Using NASA's Kepler Space Telescope,
astronomers have discovered the first Earth-size planet orbiting a star in the "habitable zone" -- the range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet. The discovery of Kepler-186f confirms that planets the size of Earth exist in the habitable zone of stars other than our sun.
sovay: (Psholtii: in a bad mood)
Dear brain. Let me start by saying that it's not that I don't appreciate you dreaming—I haven't had a dream I remembered since the beginning of March that wasn't some kind of grotesque or obvious anxiety nightmare. But while I'm sure it raised the intellectual bar for the next few nights, I really didn't like dreaming about a community event that turned into a race riot (in the dream I thought pogrom). A white man ran out of the school below me carrying the chewed arm of a brown-skinned child in his teeth. Said he was a wolf, only the difference was, a wolf's skin was hairy on the outside. It is interesting to represent racism itself as lycanthropy. Werewolves in mainstream fiction lately seem to function more more as metaphor for marginalized groups. I'm sure something powerful could be done with the reversal if it hasn't already. But it will probably not be me this week and anyway it was a very upsetting dream, thank you.
17 April 2014 14:12 - A few iOS freebies
1. Hearthstone! Hearthstone! Yay! I'm amazed at how well this plays on the iPad, frankly. If you're already a player, even if you prefer your PC, you should play one match on the iPad to win a free pack of cards. If you haven't played HS at all, it's about as close to perfect as an FTP game can get, a great, fun collectible trading card game.

2. Horn. A hack-and-slash in the Infinity Blade style that's gotten some solid reviews.

3. Knights of Pen and Paper. A witty self-referential game that doesn't fall too far down its own rabbit hole, and is also fun so far.

4. Help Me Fly. A fun line-drawing puzzle game. I've had this one for a while, and it's pretty tough under the goofy-looking theme.

5. Warhammer Quest. Yes, there's a ton of IAP expansions, but at least you get the base game here for free. And that's got plenty to play.

6. Ascension. I'm assuming this one's staying free, now, but definitely worth grabbing. And add me in Gamecenter if you do! I'm always up for more games of this. It's probably my single favorite iOS app.

7. Hunter Island. The closest thing I've seen to a truly successful Pokemon game on the iOS, and well worth it for Pokemon or JRPG people.
I had my first jury duty experience in MA, after having been called twice in GA. Those first two experiences ended without my being impaneled at all (one, in fact, ended with a bomb threat). But yesterday's was a bit more interesting.

Things I learned from the video they showed us:

1. Massachusetts pioneered the one day/one juror system (instead of the ludicrous thirty-day system).

2. MA was one of the first to allow black people to sit on juries.

3. And one of the last to allow women.

That sounds educational, but seeing as it was a twenty-minute video, I'm not sure there was a lot of real meat there.

Other things I learned:

5. I could have gotten switched to a courthouse that was closer than the one in Lowell, had I known.

6. Being impaneled is interesting, and not quite like it usually is on TV. At least in this case (a civic one), the only people who were around when I was being questioned were the judge and the attorneys; the case participants, other jurors, etc, were too far away to hear anything.

7. Now that I've served (even being dismissed is considered serving; showing up the key thing here), I've got a three-year respite from being called again.
17 April 2014 12:52 - Dear Open Office
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
I really did mean to type Sudoku. While your suggestion that I actually meant to type sodomy is bold and innovative, it is also wrong.
pantryslut: (Default)
Les Mis progress:

503 / 755 (66.62%)


Jailbreak!
17 April 2014 12:29 - Audible sigh
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

Debate over the safety of Wi-Fi in schools is on hold now that the Waterloo Region District School Board plans to upload the controversy to its parent organization.
swan_tower: (Default)

Lamps at Kiyomizudera
Creative Commons License
This work by http://www.swantower.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Most of our time at Kiyomizudera was spent wandering around outside, but there were portions of the visit where we passed through some of the buildings. I quite liked the lamps along this gallery — even if I have no idea where in the temple we were when I took the photo.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

17 April 2014 10:00 - Out of Touch
ceciliatan: (darons guitar)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

(Kickstarter update! Donations have realllly slowed down over the past few days. If you’re thinking of supporting, please don’t wait until the end to do so? Remember the payment isn’t collected until the campaign closes on May 9th! Click here to chip in or see the details: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ceciliatan/darons-guitar-chronicles-second-omnibus-paperback -ctan)

We had three regular tapas bars. There was the place where we had the gig, there was the place we had gone on the first night when I had arrived in Seville, and there was a place that the older flamenco crowd liked, one of the ones where regular jam/dance sessions broke out. Oddly enough, that was the place that had a radio behind the bar that they turned on to a station that played pop music in English from time to time.

By mid-July it was really too hot to busk outside in the afternoons. Not that we would have minded the heat ourselves, but no one would linger to listen or watch. So we left off going to the park entirely and concentrated on our evening gigs, two shows a week at Gloria’s school and, by then, two nights a week at the bar. It was one of those hot July afternoons when we were in the bar early for some reason. I was sitting with Orlando while he was talking to the bartender, a twenty-something woman with skinny arms but prodigious breasts. I wasn’t really listening to what they were saying since I could barely make out any of it anyway.

A song came on the radio. My ears perked up, something new, something that sounded kind of good…?

Read the rest of this entry » )
16 April 2014 23:12 - good things
jinian: (c'est la vie)
1. Lilacs and Mexican-orange and redbud all just started blooming.

2. I did thrilling things with necklines today.

3. Racing game people are fun.
17 April 2014 00:21 - Dog bites man
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Woman writes an article about a lousy cover, gets rape threats.

On an issue raised in the original article, why are so many comic book artists so terrible at drawing human breasts? Don't we live in a research-friendly environment these days, what with the interwebs?
16 April 2014 17:33 - "Bread and circuses"
rosefox: A crossdressing man in bed with two women asks "Do I come across as too analytical? I could see that". (analytical)
Spoilery thoughts on Winter Soldier. I keep meaning to turn these into some sort of coherent post, but I haven't done that, and having a tab I can't close is annoying me, so here, have a bunch of paragraphs.

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS if you haven't seen the movie and don't want spoilers then CLOSE THE TAB this is your FINAL WARNING EJECT EJECT EJECT etc.

Did I mention SPOILERS )
16 April 2014 17:33 - "Few and far between"
rosefox: A zombie from a Nintendo game. (tired)
Fun things, Apr 15: took possession of the new apartment!
Apr 16: ate tasty Seder leftovers

The apartment remains amazing. I cannot wait to move in. Sooooooon.

After several days of my ear being very blocked and loud, I woke up at 5:40 a.m. today with mild vertigo. Blah blah details blah ) Nine days since the last bout. They're getting further apart and milder. Still lasting an obscenely long time, but I don't mind so much as long as I'm reasonably functional.

We're moving in ten days. X has a "what if R gets vertigo on moving day" plan all ready, which means I don't have to worry about it, so I am doing my best to think about anything else. Like culling and packing. Once I can move my head again.
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

I will be totally, absolutely honest with you here. I wasn’t really expecting to like Mary Robinette Kowal‘s Shades of Milk and Honey [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy].

It’s nothing to do with Kowal or her writing. I’ve adored other things I’ve read by her. I’ve nominated and voted for some of her work for various awards. She’s a good writer. But this one just didn’t look or sound like my kind of book. The description, “Like Jane Austen wrote a fantasy novel” didn’t hit any of my buttons, and I’m afraid the cover art didn’t help. (The newer editions of this series have different and much improved artwork, in my opinion.)

I tend to prefer more action in my plots, more humor and fun in my fiction … which I’m sure comes as a tremendous shock to anyone who’s read my stuff. So it took me a while to pull this one off of Mount ToBeRead…

…at which point I devoured the story, finishing the book in three days, and sacrificing a bit of sleep in the process.

Here’s the publisher’s description:

…an intimate portrait of Jane Ellsworth, a woman ahead of her time in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality. But despite the prevalence of magic in everyday life, other aspects of Dorchester’s society are not that different: Jane and her sister Melody’s lives still revolve around vying for the attentions of eligible men.

Jane resists this fate, and rightly so: while her skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face, and therefore wins the lion’s share of the attention. At the ripe old age of twenty-eight, Jane has resigned herself to being invisible forever. But when her family’s honor is threatened, she finds that she must push her skills to the limit in order to set things right—and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

There are a few action-type scenes toward the end, but for the most part, this is a relatively quiet book. And I loved it. I loved the characters. I loved the relationships between them, and the way Jane’s insecurities crashed into those of her sister, and the conflicts that ensued. I loved the language, which was careful and formal without ever feeling stilted or stuffy.

The magic was particularly enjoyable. In a genre that includes Gandalf and Dumbledore, the glamours of Kowal’s world are relatively limited in scope: the manipulation of light and sound to craft illusions. It’s seen as a lady’s skill, like painting watercolors or playing a musical instrument. But Jane is very skilled and passionate about her art, and it draws you in until a scene about crafting an illusory birch grove is as thrilling as any battle between heroes and goblins.

Certain elements and twists in the story felt a little predictable, but I wasn’t reading for the plot twists. I was reading for the sheer enjoyment. And I was kicking myself for not reading it sooner.

You can read the first two chapters at Kowal’s website, and I strongly encourage you to do so.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

16 April 2014 17:15 - "and if i learn to say your name"
omnia_mutantur: (Default)
I had no idea I had an old draft entry yet to post.    It's four words long.  "Sleepy, happy, scared, conflicted."  I have no idea when it's from, it could be any time in the past eight weeks or so.   and it's still true.   I am still sleepy, happy, scared and conflicted.

I had a post, it was all about my awesome vacation and how there are things changing in my poly world and I don't know how to handle them.   It was about quitting finance class, and wanting to learn to kayak, about needing to swear off of Etsy and Kickstarter and 2048.  It was about wanting change but not knowing how to create it, and not wanting anything to change but not having the tools or the ability to keep it from changing.  

I'll be okay.   I'll be so much better than okay.  (points for guessing how many times I had to type and delete qualifiers on that sentence.)   But, fuck, post-vacation blues and fear of the unknown suck mightily.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Sorry, not cute. I misspelled "steadfastly provincial in the manner of persons from great empires".

16 April 2014 10:30 - So, Okinawa
swan_tower: (Default)

I made reference to this in my previous post; I’d forgotten that I hadn’t actually said anything about it before now.

I’m going to Okinawa in July. Every few years, on an irregular schedule, Shihan and various other people put together an intensive karate and kobudo seminar, bringing in people from a variety of countries (Germany, Spain, Denmark, the U.S.) for about a week in Naha and on Kori Island. It will be my first time going; the last one was five years ago, and I was much too low-ranking to attend. Sometimes there’s a tournament, but apparently Shihan got tired of waiting for other parties to get their act together, so this time it’s a seminar only.

I made the decision to go before I knew I was having ankle problems; I paid the fee before I got told I was going to need surgery. But honesty compels me to admit that before I went to the doctor, I told Kyle that I didn’t care what the prognosis was, I was going to Okinawa anyway. Because it’s bad enough to have to do this again: I will be damned if I let it take away my chance to experience that kind of intensive training. I’m going to be sweating to death for 4-6 hours a day in an un-air-conditioned budokan, and that isn’t exactly a thing to look forward to — but I am.

And then I’ll come home and have surgery and not go to karate for a month or more. But before then, I’ll work my butt off.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (Default)

Angel at the Door
Creative Commons License
This work by http://www.swantower.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The Église Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre in Paris is decorated in a very unusual style — elements of Art Nouveau, and (as you can see) a mosaic surface that almost looks like beads. While I’m a big fan of Gothic architecture and other standard church designs, it’s also nice to encounter one that breaks the mold in attractive ways.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

catvalente: (pic#941394)

It is April 16th and there’s like 2 inches of new snow out there and I am NOT OVER IT OK.

However, I am still alive, contrary to the outrageous claims made by the date on my last blog post. I’m even nominated for a Nebula for Six-Gun Snow White and going to be Guest of Honor at Minicon in Minneapolis this weekend. Which means no Easter Egg dying for me this year, but panels for everyone!

Also I saw Captain America 2 last night and am mildly obsessed with reading the VERY FEW negative reviews because if it’s Marvel critics are now required to like it or face a personal visit from a hungover Iron Man, so that I can dissect how entirely I felt it went wrong when I loved the first one–really the only superhero movie of the current coolkids vibe that I liked on its own merits. I’m endlessly fascinated by stories that seem to almost work but blow the dismount in some way.

All the set pieces were there, albeit run through the guts of the same desaturation engine that video games seem to be churning merrily through at the moment. (Seriously, 4 color panels are starting to look downright lurid in comparison) But they were just set pieces, and not even superhero set pieces so much as Jason Bourne set pieces glitter-glued onto a We Stand With Snowden plot, which actually doesn’t play that well with a superhero universe where all solutions must be phraseable as personal mottos and tie into a movie that won’t be out til next year and also magic. Plus, don’t ever ever mention where all the money to build these evil systems comes from or any kind of class issues while trying to say something about contemporary politics, because the whole genre sort of winces at 1% issues and goes “Oooh! Look over there! Tony Stark is so cool!”, or show anyone but the 20 people allowed to live in a single-hero film/province of MarvelWorld so that there can be a PG 13 rating and we can ignore the massive civilian casualties which are actually inevitable during the pitched machine gun broad daylight super secret “spy” battles. Instead, Twitter stands in for the rest of planet Earth. Which leaves one with a feeling that you can always spot evil because it’s blowing things up, when the truth is the worst things happen without a sound, behind closed doors, with a handshake and a smile. And the Greatest Generation that Captain America provides such a nice clean altar for us to worship, far from being a bastion of wholesome morals, shook a lot of those hands before most of us were born.

The first film actually wanted to dissect some (SOME) of this stuff. The strange obsession with superheroes and simultaneous terror of dictators when it really just takes one bad day to flip one to the other, propaganda, the military using up bright and beautiful young men until they turn into monsters. But somehow Winter Soldier just really wants to be a mainstream spy thriller, and seems wholly uncomfortable with its speculative trimmings, and has in fact trimmed them down to little more than your average James Bond jaunt. Captain America is in the actual military doing straightforward pirate boarding missions. There was a sinister story to be told there about how militaristic and frightening superheroes actually are, but they didn’t want to tell it, along with about five other more interesting stories hiding between the lines. What they did want, as many interviews have attested, was to make “an old school 70s spy thriller.” Oooook.

I feel like there’s something going on there, that filmmakers want the geek money that comes with any superhero franchise at the moment, the longing to see these characters onscreen, but is still deeply ambivalent about the subject matter. Either because there is a desire among those for whom these films are passion projects to make what was once mocked as being childish Extra Serious and Adult, or because those for whom they are not want the money without having to dip their fingers into anything so unsavory and suspect as, like, color, or fun, or magic/tech/mutation that doesn’t stand in for the civil rights movement. Either way, every “geeky” intellectual property seems to be getting the artistic equivalent of Captain America’s transformation: something weaker and smaller and weirder with a good heart being pumped up with industrial chemicals until it looks like some higher-up’s idea of a real man.

And, you know, be sure to never let Black Widow have a story of her own outside of bending over center screen, booting up a Mac, and worrying about the real hero’s relationship status because, well, girl, am I right?

In other news, April 16. Snow. What.

Mirrored from cmv.com. Also appearing on @LJ and @DW. Read anywhere, comment anywhere.

16 April 2014 00:43 - good things
jinian: (c'est la vie)
1. I wore humorous earrings and a fabulous manicure.

2. One of the new t-shirt designs for my department is the Central Dogema of Molecular Biology (such gene -> many protein, etc.). The Sanger sequencing in the shape of a heart is pretty cute too.

3. Out-of-control libido may be inconvenient at times, but it can also lead to major fun.

4. I was mighty and did yard work and indoor chores!

5. The NSF regretted to inform me etc. This was frustrating (they didn't understand my proposal properly! they had fatuous suggestions!) but also I am DONE WAITING and can move on now.
16 April 2014 01:11 - Is there
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
A check list of tasks to set up a review blog?
15 April 2014 21:23 - the ring thing
metaphortunate: (for science!)
Do you wear a wedding ring? Or a ring on the fourth finger of your left hand? If so, do you notice any difference in the way people treat you when you’re wearing it vs. when you’re not?

This question brought to you by the guy who was so very friendly yesterday, like making paper airplanes to amuse a grumpy sick little toddler friendly, like get off at the wrong stop because you just think you’ll sleep a little better if that guy that is soooo friendly maybe doesn’t know exactly what street you live on kind of friendly. Huh, I thought, that’s odd, I don’t get that much anymore, I really thought I had aged out of that, especially what with the kids and all, and then it occurred to me: because of the eczema flareup, I have been wearing my wedding ring on a necklace instead of on my hand.

Huh.
swan_tower: (Default)

Same song, second verse. A little bit louder, a little bit more JESUS H CHRIST THIS ISN’T FUNNY ANY MORE.

Which is to say, I will be having ankle surgery.

Again.

Same ligament as before . . .

. . . just on the other foot.

Listen up, kids: sprain your ankles too often as a youth, and this will be your reward before you’re anywhere near your dotage. An orthopedist wiggling your foot around and saying “Wow!,” followed immediately by “Sorry, that’s not what you want to hear your doctor say, is it?” An unstable ankle joint that’s causing microabrasions and is already building up a bone spur, so let’s get this surgery done soon, shall we, before we’ve got ourselves a lovely case of arthritis? Oh and it’s so helpful that you still have the boot from the last round. We can just stick you right back in it. Not your first rodeo, here’s your forms, you know how this goes, and hey you’ve even got some blog posts to remind you of the unpleasant things in your future. Isn’t this great.

The surgery isn’t scheduled yet, but it will be some time between the very end of July and mid-September. Putting it off that long probably isn’t the most intelligent thing I’ve ever done, but god dammit I am going to Okinawa. The last time this karate seminar happened was five years ago; I don’t know when it will happen again. And I am not letting my stupid fucking ankles keep me from it.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

sovay: (Psholtii: in a bad mood)
Today I paid my taxes and buried my umbrella. It was free from the World Wildlife Foundation, but I expected it to last more than a month. Having already cracked from the stress of the wind on my way to the post office, it snapped in half and blew inside out as I walked back from my dentist's appointment. After that it was a beautiful piece of conceptual art and absolutely no use at keeping off the rain: I gave it a state funeral in the trash can outside the Au Bon Pain on Cambridge Street. It had a wooden shaft, black metal struts, and a blue-and-white design of pandas. I felt bad for the pandas, but I think "decorative" is the least endangered species. I am told it's going to snow tonight.

ALL RIGHT, NEW ENGLAND, YOU CAN STOP NOW.
15 April 2014 17:29 - question
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Which day of the week is best to release things you want noticed? Which is worst?
foxfinial: (alexander in a diving bell)
My poem "Her Sun-patterned Eye" is in Strange Horizons!

It belongs to a wider series of poems I'm writing about ancient/prehistoric archaeological finds, which includes "Bowl" and "Thousands of Years Ago, I Made This String Skirt" in Stone Telling and "Sister" in Through the Gate. I'm fascinated by people very distant in time, by people whose stories are rarely told and by how the past is written about: the metaphor of a palimpsest is useful here, the past visible between the lines of the future, and I'd like what's visible to be a truer look at the past than what we get in most popular discourse.

When I read about the bones of a c.2900 BCE woman found at Shahr-e Sukhteh, 6 feet tall with a prosthetic eye covered in gold, carved with a sun-pattern, I wanted to write about her. What an eye! What a story she must have had! One artist on tumblr drew her, which I love. Here she is, as we know her:

Shahr-e Sūkhté


Bones. Is writing for a find of bones and grave goods truly history, or historiography? I started writing a narrative for her, a world she saw through her gilt eye. I stopped. The problem of filling in the gaps, of fictionalising, is one that historians (especially of the ancient world) face, and though I can embrace writing story in fiction or poetry, I apparently can't do it for long without stopping to question it. "Her Sun-patterned Eye" is me questioning it: the opening up of possibility, the narrowing down again to truth, to bones. Remarkable bones, a surely remarkable woman. I hope this poem means more people are aware of her.
15 April 2014 10:00 - Do You Want To Dance?
ceciliatan: (darons guitar)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

It gets hot in Southern Spain in the summer. Although was it any hotter than most of the other places I’d lived? Maybe a little. It was regularly above ninety degrees. The apartment had air conditioners set in the walls next to the windows, but only in the bedrooms.

Not sure that’s really why I moved into Orlando’s room with him, though.

Read the rest of this entry » )
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