Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Internet Lovelies

Consider that this happened in an evening when the Oscar host Seth MacFarlane cracked a gag that cast George Clooney as Humbert to Wallis's unwitting Lolita, and it starts to look less like a baffling lapse, and more like frat Hollywood asserting itself over a small black girl. You can act, the jokes imply; you can even be brilliant (as Wallis is in Beasts of the Southern Wild); you can be as cute as you like in your beautiful dress and your puppy-dog handbag, and we the Hollywood fraternity reserve the right to remind you that you are nothing but female, heading for a future where, six years from now, paps aim a long lens up your skirt and everyone calls you a slut because you didn't take the precaution of binding your legs together before getting out of a car.
Sarah Ditum, in reply to a tweet from The Onion about Quvenzhané Wallis, Link

We got the joke. And understand the satire. It was just straight up the wrong word to use. And MacFarlane's Wallis/Clooney "joke" was downright disturbing.

Can't you take a joke? Yes, I can take a joke. I can take a bunch! A thousand, 10,000, maybe even more! But after 30 or so years, this stuff doesn't feel like joking. It's dehumanizing and humiliating, and as if every single one of those jokes is an ostensibly gentler way of saying, "I don't think you belong here." All those little instances add up, grain of sand by grain of sand until I'm stranded in a desert of every "tits or GTFO" joke I've ever tried to ignore.
Margaret Lyons, Link


I assume, if you're reading this, that you are most likely a human being with eyeballs in a head on top of a torso with nipples on it sitting on a butt attached to some genitals and legs and feet. Or some approximation thereof, give or take a few limbs/eyeballs/genitals as needed. In that case, congratulations! You have a body. And your body is—truth!—naked under your clothes right now. Look to your left. Look to your right. Literally 100% of the people within your line of sight are also naked under their clothes! And if, for some reason, some of those clothes happened to come off, or go invisible, or get burned off by acid rain or the erotic ray-gun of a lecherous sex-doctor, you might accidentally behold your neighbors' nakedness. And do you know what would happen then? Literally nothing. Nothing would happen to anyone.
Lindy West, Link

Well, not nothing. But nothing harmful, at least.

One of the most erotic experiences of my life remains book-sniffing, in a Bangkok hotel room, by myself, the Dutch translation of Crime and Punishment while rolling around on a bed of loose pages from Gravity’s Rainbow.
Teddy Wayne, Link

In this book there is a whale and some men…I will not give away any names.
Lincoln Michel, from a book report constructed of sentences in negative Amazon reviews of Moby Dick, Link 

Read that whole thing, because it's hilarious.

The IKEA “Lack” side table is $9.99 if you want it in “birch finish,” and $7.99 in plain white, a color which — when not imbued with high modernist sheen — concedes to a post-industrial grim boredom, even guilt, that is always trying to find its way back into the woods. This may be Walt Whitman’s fault, who saw a “journey work of the stars” in a blade of grass, so I have him to blame for my meandering horoscope.
Jimmy Chen, Link

The problem with Sephora... is that, like many drugs, too much is never enough. Sephora is a smoke monster, a rainbow, a Mobius strip of promises. There's no getting a grip on it. There is no end. There's only more. You can chase the dragon of self-improvement slash self-enhancement slash self-acceptance until the day you die; there's always a new fragrance, a new lip color, a new miracle cream right around the corner. Sucking your bank account dry. You go in for a lip balm and come out with body polish, dry shampoo, BB cream, and Kat Von D's "Sinner" smoky eyes palette...Oodles on display, a myriad of options, infinite possibilities. When you think you've finally found the solution, the crutch, the key, either you run out and need more; they stop making it and it vanishes like so much sparkly Guerlain Terra Cotta dust; or you find that what once satisfied you no longer does the trick. A deliciously sticky honey trap, from which you never fully escape; you leave, but the pull is strong, keeping you coming back.

Fucking Sephora, man.
Dodai Stewart, Link

Sephora, a.k.a. the reason I have nine different kinds of facial moisturizer in my bathroom right now, and nine dollars in my bank account.

Let Jenna Marbles explain to you this phenomenon of "goo hoarding":

Criticisms about representations of gender (or race and other diversity) are often countered in fandom by sociological or scientific analyses attempting to explain why the inequality happens according to the internal logic of the fictional world. As though there is any real reason that anything happens in a story except that someone chose to write it that way.

Fiction is not Darwinian: It contains no impartial process of evolution that dispassionately produces the events of a fictional universe. Fiction is miraculously, fundamentally Creationist. When we make worlds, we become gods. And gods are responsible for the things they create, particularly when they create them in their own image.
Laura Hudson, Link

Every word that has ever been put to paper (or screen) is the product of some bored human writing it. I hate when people treat fictional universes like some magical reality separate from the mind of the person who created them. If a made-up world contains profound sexism, racism, homophobia, class discrimination, etc., it's either to explore said concept in regard to its existence in the real world, or it's just thrown in because the writer can't imagine a world that doesn't contain those things. Which is unfortunate and really sad.

Here's an adorable video to cheer up your dreary Tuesday.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Storm of Swords

I almost quit reading this one about halfway through, after a certain main character was presumably killed off. But I persevered, and on the last page we discover that this certain character is not dead, and a certain me ecstatically pumped her fists in the air.

Hopefully that was vague enough not to qualify as a spoiler.

I'm running out of things to say about this series. And I still have two books left! It kind of feels like everything is happening in slow-mo. I've been waiting something like 2500 pages for at least part of the Stark family to be reunited, and I'm afraid by the end of A Dance with Dragons we still won't get there. And if not...

As much as I love the world and the characters George R.R. Martin has created, I feel he could have done a much better job of introducing all those damn characters to us. J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter universe had tons of characters too, but I don't think at any point I ever had to stop and go "wait, who's that again?" Maybe it was all the alliterative and/or mythical names (Remus Lupin is a werewolf. Got it.), but moreso I think Rowling just knew how to ease readers into an unfamiliar world. In contrast, so far in A Song of Ice and Fire there's something like 4 different Brandons, a handful of Theons, and every character has something like 20 different names for themselves (Arya Stark, aka Arry, aka Weasel, aka Nan, aka Squab, aka Salty...). It's difficult to keep up.

And this is how A Feast of Crows starts out:

Dragons," said Mollander. He snatched a withered apple off the ground and tossed it hand to hand.
"Throw the apple," urged Alleras the Sphinx. He slipped an arrow from his quiver and nocked it to his bowstring.
"I should like to see a dragon." Roone was the youngest of them, a chunky boy still two years shy of manhood. "I should like that very much."
And I should like to sleep with Rosey's arms around me, Pate thought.

Hooray! Eight sentences in and we've already got FIVE brand new characters thrown at us! And by the end of the chapter the only one that has anything important happen to them is Pate (pro reading tip: anyone with a super boring name will be the first to die).

Drowning in exposition and family trees I may be, but I keep coming back for more. It's a ridiculously addictive series. And I'm trying to barrel my way through it as quickly as possible before I fall fate to any spoilers. If anybody tells me that Daeneyrs kills Dumbledore, so help me...

For those who have read the first two books/ watched the first two seasons of A Game of Thrones, you should check out this great review by Comicbookgirl19, comparing the books and the TV show:

1216 pages
3,442 / 20,000 page goal

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Clash of Kings

Between watching and rereading The Hobbit, playing Skyrim, and reading the A Song of Ice and Fire series, I'm feeling the urgent need to purchase a longsword and some chainmail.

After reading A Clash of Kings I'm officially hooked, and subscribed to HBO just to watch Game of Thrones (third season premiering in March!). Speaking of the series, has any other television show been more beautifully shot and well-cast? It's blowing me away. The screenwriting isn't exactly subtle (if I hear one more person ominously say "the dragons are all gone..."), but is still loads better than what's in the majority of feature-length films these days.

A serious hats off to George R.R. Martin for creating so many damn characters, cities, and mythologies, and being able to keep them all straight while writing. No seriously, there's a reason the book starts with two maps and ends with a FORTY PAGE LIST OF CHARACTERS. Good lord.

My favorite aspect of the series thus far is that all of the chapters come from the point of view of characters that are in some way powerless or disenfranchised. The social hierarchy for whatever reason has deemed them unfit, and they must fight to survive. That doesn't always mean they're sympathetic or likeable -- after all, Theon Greyjoy is one of them (I wanted so bad to just skip his chapters).

However, I'm still cringing at every mention of rape. It's always thrown in so casually, on every other page. Because apparently in Westeros rape is on par with stubbing one's toe. It's mentioned a lot in Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy as well, but that's because it ties directly into the story. Here it's just happening because it can. Call it a realistic portrayal of the consequences of warfare all you want -- last time I checked this was a fantasy story with fucking dragons in it. The author can make it however he pleases.

But for every sexually violent or misogynistic act there's an awesome female character to make up for it. Arya, Brienne, Osha, Catelyn, Daenyrs, Sansa, Cersei...they're all three-dimensional and well-written. A fantasy series that passes the Bechdel test with flying colors! Something that even the Harry Potter series had difficulty with.

Whatever. I'm hooked. See you in April when I emerge from my winter cave, my eyes bleeding, mumbling about my crush on Samwell Tarly.


As are mine, Samwell. As are mine.

1040 pages
2,226 / 20,000 page goal