Monday, December 17, 2012

Internet Lovelies

 Happy Holidays, from my bookshelf to yours.

Perhaps menstruation is the opposite of God. We pretend it doesn’t exist.
Jimmy Chen, Link

But I also feel weary and more than a little angry that we’re still doing this. Not that same-sex marriage is still being debated necessarily. Debate is fine, we have this thing called free speech. But it’s that we still, as a country, think our love – my love – is something to be voted on. In fact, the more I think about it the more furious I become. Rights aren’t a popularity contest. Rights aren’t a campaign. Rights are rights. I shouldn’t have to convince anyone I deserve them, I should just have them. It’s that whole inalienable thing. Alas, we aren’t there yet, as a nation. We’re still tiptoeing on the edges of equality, letting the majority decide for the minority. 
Dorothy Snarker, Link

It bothers me that you take a photo, run it through a color filter and slap some typographically “literary” text on it and consider it an album cover because, right, like your fans are all sensitive art students with melted candles and a suicidy razor blade by the bathtub; and emphatic or compulsive design seems uncool and corporatey, and your life is all about casual. Casual sex; casual resume sending; casual cereal for dinner. Every time I see one of these album covers I want to have a vasectomy and not subject my child to this world and vice versa
Jimmy Chen, Link

Why do I find the old jingle
“SF [science fiction]'s no good”, they bellow ’til we’re deaf.
“But, THIS is good.” “Well, then it’s not SF.”
running through my mind? A thought which also applies to mystery and other genre stories as well. Why not simply recognize that good writing is good writing, regardless of where you find it?
Kay Shapero, commenter on the article "10 Great Authors We Should All Stop Pigeonholing", Link

"The demographics are changing," [O'Reilley] added. "It's not a traditional America anymore."

How quickly we forget, how fast perspective is lost in just a few generations. Mr. O'Reilley, re-view Scorsese's "Gang's of New York," or better yet read the book "Five Points" by Tyler Anbinder. You might enlighten yourself as to what it was like for the Irish when they were the "change" the self-styled "traditional Americans" recoiled from.

America provided the chance for millions of 2nd generation Americans like me to be middle-class, upper-middle class, even tycoons. But I never let myself forget that my grandparents were peasant immigrants from Eastern Europe, and what they went through to get here, and what they endured to stay here.

Apparently all too many of us forget our not so long-ago introduction to the US. We can no longer see ourselves and our ancestors in the eyes of newer arrivals. But those new arrivals are indeed our own grandparents and great grandparents. 
 Roberthenryeller, commenter on the piece "Fox News Loses Its Mind Over Election Results, Link 

Then there’s magic. There are no excuses here. None at all. Either you have a magic system which is inclusive of women, or exclusive of women, and in both instances, FEMALE CHARACTERS ARE GOING TO HAVE OPINIONS ABOUT THAT. If you really want a patriarchal, masculine magical system, then as with politics, the most interesting thing you can do is throw women at that system, to see where the cracks are.
Tansy Rayner Roberts, Link

That's from an awesome article at Tor titled "Historically Authentic Sexism in Fantasy. Let’s Unpack That." It instantly made me think of Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea series. In Earthsea magic can be performed by both men and women, but the schools that teach wizardry exclude women. And since Earthsea magic requires the knowledge of words passed down through the ages by teachers, the witches never get to become more than mid-wives and healers. The first book, A Wizard of Earthsea didn't really address this fact or give the opinions of female characters. However Le Guin made up for it in the rest of the series, all the books leading up to the introduction of Tehanu, the girl who reveals the cracks in the patriarchal system.

Imagine if a Thai company made a movie about 9/11, and that movie was specifically about the experiences of a Thai family in Tower One. Don’t worry, it’s not a bummer - it’s an uplifting story of how these people escaped death and got home safely. But imagine that, in this Thai movie, every character is Thai. There are white people running around in the background, and two of them have a couple of lines, but every single character in this story about the attack on the World Trade Center is Thai.

You’d think this was pretty weird, I bet. You’d think it displayed provincial thinking, perhaps even a cinematic xenophobia. You’d probably even laugh at how petty and small-minded this film seems. You’d dismiss it.

Turn it around (and multiply the death toll of the event by almost 100) and you have The Impossible.
 Devin Faraci, Link

That's from a review of the upcoming film The Impossible, which tells the story of a white family surviving the 2004 tsunami disaster in southeast Asia. The trailer looks terrible and completely xenophobic. Why would you decide to be in this, Ewan McGregor? I am disappointed.

I am honored to have been asked to recommend books because I love books. I mean, I love buying books. I can't say I read most of the books I buy. Recently I decided to believe that buying books is as good as reading them. I feel smarter as soon as I sign the credit-card receipt at my local independent book seller. 
Judd Apatow, Link

I love his honesty. If buying books were as good as reading them I'd be a literary savant by now.

Meanwhile, Lego has developed and marketed a line of toys specifically to girls after researching for years how to get girls to play with the toy bricks. The Lego Friends line includes a cafe, a vet's office and a pet salon. The figures, McGowan notes, are bigger and are more realistic than other figures because Lego learned that girls see them as avatars of themselves.

"By unlocking that mystery — what is it that the girls are looking for out of the play? — Lego was able to get a lot of girls and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue just in one year, whereas they couldn't get that before," McGowan says.

Ultimately, for good or bad, there really are just fundamental differences between boys and girls, he says.
NPR article, Link

What does that last sentence mean. What does it even mean. "For good or bad." I'm trying to wrap my head around it. If you really believe there are fundamental differences between young boys and young girls, then it is neither "good" nor "bad," just reality. Although the worst line in that blurb has got to be the one claiming it's a goddamn mystery what girls are looking to get out of playtime. I might be pushing it here, but I'm guessing FUN? Not tips on how to clean, cook, feed babies, or put on eyeshadow. Just fun, fucker. Adults are the ones applying gender training motives to preschoolers' playing habits.

Diddy Kong, you bastard.
And I'm not convinced that only girls want to see "avatars of themselves" in what they play with. Isn't that desire universal? Children want to be able to see themselves in the figurines, story book illustrations, movie characters, and video game avatars they experience on a daily basis. Which is why I became so angry during my recent trip to Toys R Us to pick up some xmas presents for my nieces. They both love Mario Kart, so I was overjoyed to find an entire section devoted to it. Race tracks, plushies, figurines, etc. But hold up. None of the characters on display included Princess Peach. Or any female characters at all, for that matter, even though there are SEVEN in the actual game. Instead we get the entire array of male leads and less-than leads, including Diddy Kong. Mother effing Diddy Kong.

So yeah, real big revelation there, Lego. "Girls want to see themselves in the things they play with." Fucking rocket science. WE HAVE THIS THEORY THAT MAYBE, JUST POSSIBLY, SMALL GIRLS ARE PEOPLE TOO. JURY'S STILL OUT ON THIS ONE, WE'LL GET BACK TO YOU AFTER SOME MARKET TESTING.

Have fun and be safe out there.Wear an ugly Christmas sweater if at all possible.


  1. Great rant. Completely true in every way. Even I gender train with my kids toys. I would hate to see one of my boys to grow up with effeminate tendencies. Not because it would bother me, but because the world is full assholes and I'd prefer my kids to not have to deal with them.

    My son is getting a wrestling ring with some wrestler action figures. Is he not using them as avatars of himself? Me thinks he is.

    Diddy but no Peach. That's idiotic. I guess the sales projections just didn't allow for it. I'm going to play ignorant and assume they all sold out before the rest.

    1. I understand you wanting to protect your kids. The world is an especially hard place on boys who overstep gender lines. But I know if your boys still grew up with effeminate tendencies you would remain a supportive, loving parent. A lot of other children aren't so lucky, and grow up with parents who see their children as avatars of themselves -- who shame, mock, and punch their sons and daughters into their own image.

      I couldn't get a Peach racer, but I ended up getting the next best thing: girl racers from Wreck it Ralph. The first thing my nieces said to me after seeing the movie was "that girl had a car made of CAKE!" so I think they'll be excited about it.