tablesaw: Ration Hornblower, from the cast of Smile Time, peeks his horn nose out at you. (Ratio Hornblower)
This is my Dear Author letter for Invisible Ficathon. It's also my first Dear Author letter, so bear with me. I'm going to copy the "Details" information (which were written "IC"), and fill it out with some extra information, including source information.

I am not really a fic reader; even in fandoms I'm deep into, I prefer reading meta. The fic I read is rare, usually highly recced out of things like Yuletide, and has kind of meta qualities. I like crossovers and other things that highlight form and literary quirks of the source, rather than having an engagement with the characters themselves. Similarly, I read gen almost exclusively. However, as you will see below, I'm not ruling out romance or porn in some circumstances where I suspect it would be interesting and/or hilarious.

Gigamesh
My favorite part of every Gigamesh fic is the Hannahanian commentary that by necessity accompanies it. I know that fandom has generally decided the commentary should be about twice the wordcount of the accompanying fic (as in the 33/67 Drabble exchanges), but I prefer the ratio to be much more skewed to the commentary side. I'd hope for at least a triple-sized commentary, but if you feel comfortable making it even bigger, go for it!

Also, while I generally read only gen fic, I do also enjoy Gigamesh fic that is half-and-half. I go both ways: romantic/sexual fic with gen commentary is OK, as is gen fic with romantic/sexual commentary. But doubling up on the pairings is right out.
Source: A Perfect Vacuum by Stanislaw Lem.

A Perfect Vacuum is a collection of reviews of fictional books. There are preview pages available on Google Books that can give you an idea of what the book is like. It is modeled after James Joyce's Ulysses (using the mythology of Gilgamesh and Enkidu), and more especially, the very intricate and often suspect textual analysis of the same. "Our task is made easier in that Hannahan—unlike Joyce!—provided his book with a commentary, which is twice the size of the novel itself (to be exact, Gigamesh runs 395 pages, the Commentary 847)."

Blasto (fictional film series)
I also really love the dialogue of Blasto (and Bubin) and love reading crossovers with other fandoms (or vice versa). Gen only. I'm not trying to be a prude, but I'm not interested in reading about Hanar procreative activities. no, not even with Asari.
Source: Mass Effect series.

The Mass Effect wiki has a good summary, but I strongly recommend listening to the entire audio of Blasto 6: Partners in Crime, as taken from the Mass Effect 3; it's about ten minutes. You will understand why I love the dialogue. There's apparently a comic book too, but I haven't read it.

Escape from Zyzzlvaria
I'd love to see Captain Blastoid in a crossover with other fandoms like Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, The Matrix, The Producers, Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego and others that have no apparent connection to each other. Gen only, please.
Source: D2: The Mighty Duck Konundrum, MIT Mystery Hunt 2009, MIT Mystery Hunt 2010, Round 2009 (from a different timeline, and so not necessarily canon).

I'm not specifically asking for there to a be a puzzle in the fic, but, if you really want . . .

Tulola-Gobu
I'd really like to see more about what happened between Nasta-se and Dullo-ge before the start of the novel that led to the murder. If at all possible, please write in Chaosian, or, if you can't, be sure to capture as much of the color of the language as you can.
Source: Son of the Realm of Unspeakable Chaos (Translation)

Another puzzle-based source, but I really wanted to include this one because I felt like conlangs deserved a place in the Invisible Ficathon. The known Chaosian dictionary is limited and is mostly dedicated to describing flags, hence my reference to "the color of the language."

See You Next Wednesday
I don't even know how to give guidance. It seems like everyone who writes fic for this has seen a completely different film. If your fic can provide insight into some of those discrepancies, that'd be great, but if not, go wild.
Source: The films of John Landis (Wikipedia page).

This title has referred to lots of different films within films, so I really don't want to limit interpretations, but I'd love to see something that tries to merge two or more. Also, given that one of the most notable See You Next Wednesdays is advertised "A Non-Stop Orgy" (though the parts of the film we see does seem to have lots of orgy interruptions), I totally accept that this one may get porny.

Dixon Hill (series)
I love Haircut Lapinski fic, and I have yet to see anyone address his obsession with fractions with appropriate detail.
Source: Star Trek: The Next Generation (Memory Alpha)

The noir detective novels that Picard uses for holographic recreation. One of the characters gives the line: "I'm as jumpy as Haircut Lapinski trying to land on a fraction." That is the best line. THE BEST. And it has been plaguing TNG fans for a while, based on websearches. It is time for the truth to be known.

The Horror

Oct. 20th, 2013 03:03 pm
tablesaw: Futurama's Robot Devil, El Diablo Robotico (El Diablo Robotico)
I'm kind of a horror fan now. And though I'm pretty sure I know how, I'm not sure I know why.

The how is because of Pseudopod. I started listening to Pseudopod about 5 years ago after listening to Escape Pod and then Podcastle. After a while, Pseudopod became my favorite of the three. The stories were more reliably interesting, even when I didn't much care for them.

[personal profile] yeloson pointed out a quote that in a horror story, as opposed to a fantasy story, the rules and logic aren't consistent in terms of the story. Things don't happen because of reasons, they just happen, and the characters have to decide what they do about them. And those choices don't always have clear moral weights to attached to them. I've always liked sci-fi and fantasy for their ability to change reality to fit a story; horror focuses that much more closely, changing reality to point completely at the characters.

Through the same time, I started getting more interested in horror films. I've never much cared for "scary movies" because they usually didn't scare me much. I don't get much of a thrill out of gore or jumpscares. But I started to appreciate that, in trying to reach something specific in "horror," artists reveal something about themselves: what they fear and how they fear it.

And today, I'm excited about my second year of an all-night Halloween horror-movie marathon, last night, I went to see the Carrie remake on its opening night, and I'm going to be posting a bunch of recommendations for Pseudopod.

Apparently, Escape Artists, the group that produces Escapepod, Podcastle, and Pseudopod has been gaining many more listeners than subscribers, and is running something of an emergency fund drive. I've subscribed, and hopefully, I can get a few people interested in the show as well.
tablesaw: Two women put the star on a Christmas tree. (Apocalyptic Christmas)
Once again, my gift list remains much the same as the years before:
  • Booze. Last year my cousin and his wife got me a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black which kept me company throughout the year. In fact, I depleted all of my scotches (Famous Grouse and Yamazaki) this year, and I'm almost out of my good bourbon. I would love some good replacements, along with other interesting liqueurs.
  • Wardrobe. My wardrobe still contains the following things:
    • Jeans worn casually
    • Chinos worn casually or at work
    • collared shirts worn at work or over
    • Nice T-shirts
    • and occasionally a casual sport jacket.
    New additions to any of those categories are welcome. For T-shirts, think along the lines of Threadless or sites like Threadless. I'm probably most in need of jeans, actually. Sizes can vary, but pants are usually 38/34, fitted shirts are 17.5x34/35, T shirts are XL.
  • Music. I still, still don't get enough of it on my own. Things from my high-school years (early alternative) are what I usually look for when I hit Amoeba. I prefer used CDs as a medium, over downloads.
  • Stuff to do. Movie passes, theatre tickets, nice restaurants. Things to go out and do. (I've already got an American Cinematheque subscription, but an extension beyond April might be nice.)
  • Techno Stuff
    • My old DVD player gave up the ghost recently, and I'd like to replace it with a BluRay player that can play DVDs, BluRay, and stream video.
    • On the other hand, I could also go with a barebones BluRay/DVD player and a separate Roku unit for Netflix and streaming.
    • My iPod nano is dying. Right now I'm using my new tablet to substitute, but I'd like something else that I can keep music on. I'm abandoning Apple, so any small little MP3 player is fine.
    • Speaking of my new tablet (a Nexus 7), I need a case for it so I can protect the screen and not be so tender with it always and forever.
  • Tea. I'm actually running low on tea, so it would be a good time for gifts of that. I usually drink at work, so I don't want anything too fancy. But I do like all types of loose-leaf tea. I usually buy in person from Bird Pick (Cloud and Fog is one of my favorites), but I'd be curious about the fanciful blends from Adagio Teas. I'm also interested in The Boston Tea Campaign.
  • Miscellaneous T[hings]
    • My old reliable Ikea floor lamp in the living room snapped in half, and I've been resting it on its side on a chair in the living room. This has been going on for quite a while now, and I haven't done anything about it. I probably should, at some point.
    • I could use a new dice bag. Don't know when I lost me old one, but right now I have them in a bowl at home, and a ziploc when traveling. Not so cool.
    As always, strongly avoid books (graphic novel TPBs are OK), videogames, and DVDs, which I already have too many of and not enough time for.
tablesaw: A twenty-sided die glows with the power of the Great Old Ones. (Cthulhu Icosahedron)
As the players both stand foot to foot, face to face,
One should aim to go east while the other goes west,
Though they're out of the game if they step out of place.

Player one starts a volley by making the case
Why the other one budging would really be best,
As the players both stand foot to foot, face to face.

The opponent can then, if they choose to, embrace
This persuasive protreptic profoundly expressed,
Though they're out of the game if they step out of place.

So instead, they must fully expound the disgrace
That would fall upon them should they meet that request,
As the players both stand foot to foot, face to face.

Player two then returns a demand for the space
To move forward. The foe may choose not to protest,
Though they're out of the game if they step out of place.

Then repeat and repeat in a motionless chase
Where the mulish participants grow more obsessed1
As the players both stand foot to foot, face to face,
Though they're out of the game if they step out of place.
1For a more somber game, replace "obsessed" with "depressed."

Probably Much-Needed Context )
tablesaw: Ration Hornblower, from the cast of Smile Time, peeks his horn nose out at you. (Ratio Hornblower)
So this week didn't work out so well.

After an initial flurry of activity filing for unemployment insurance and sending a few e-mails to staffing agencies, I fell into a funk of avoidance, leading to a mini freak out on Thursday. I talked with friends and family who reminded me that it's ok to be freaked out about being unemployed for the first time in over a decade, and that a few days of not doing anything productive is fine.

I'm going to try to set myself onto a daily working schedule come Monday. While it's nice to sleep in until 11 or noon, I'm not actually productive when I stay up late. Once it nears sunset, I start feeling like my work day is over, and I stop doing other things. I think that forcing myself to at least be awake by nine every morning will add a few hours to my "working" day, at the very least. More measures will probably be forthcoming.

I did manage to do a lot of nonproductive things, though. I entered a local crossword puzzle tournament and participated in a sudoku contest at Logic Masters India. boardgaming night (played Roll Through the Ages), role-playing-game night (beta-testing a game by Josh Robern), a party to read and mock Fifty Shades of Grey as a group, and an NPL party. And in addition to that, I saw a bunch of friends at different times. I joined the site Quora despite its "real names" policy, by hacking together a form of pseudonymity out of its nascent system. And I sauteed chicked without freaking out.

Starting Monday, I'm going to add DW to my list of daily things to do. For reals.
tablesaw: Two women put the star on a Christmas tree. (Apocalyptic Christmas)
Looking at what I'd like in terms of gifts (for the holidays and beyond), it's very similar to last year:

  • Booze. My bar has grown strong and bountiful, and I always appreciate new and interesting contributions to mix with.
  • Wardrobe. I'm owning up to the fact that my wardrobe contains the following things:
    • Jeans worn casually
    • Chinos worn casually or at work
    • collared shirts worn at work or over
    • Nice T-shirts
    • and occasionally a casual sport jacket.
    New additions to any of those categories are welcome. For T-shirts, think along the lines of Threadless or sites like Threadless. Sizes can vary, but pants are usually 38/34, fitted shirts are 17.5x34/35, T shirts are XL.
  • Music. I still don't get enough of it on my own. Things I've lost from my high-school years (early alternative and trip hop) are what I usually look for when I hit Amoeba.
  • Stuff to do. Movie passes, theatre tickets, nice restaurants. Things to go out and do.
  • Miscellaneous T[hings]
    • A juicer, to go with the new stuff I've been doing with the bar and cocktails.
    • I would still like a tie clip
    • One of these fancy teacup things
Once again, strongly avoid books, videogames, and DVDs, which I already have too many of and not enough time for. The only possible exception is The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, since I'll probably play that immediately, regardless of my gaming backlog. Because, you know, it's ZELDA.
tablesaw: Charlie Crews, in a dark suit, rests his head on his left hand (That's Life)
Exercise bike + TV (Bachelor Pad) + book (Bujold) + cellphone (this)
tablesaw: An indigenous American crucified on a cross crowned by a bald eagle. In the background stands a Mesoamerican temple. (América Tropical)
I used to do reviews of the Escape Artists podcasts. Maybe I should do that again. Recently, I've been meaning to post more, but the days slip by without me even noticing I haven't posted again. (On the other hand, my exercise is staying fairly regular, despite wisdom-tooth disruptions, so that's good.) But I really wanted to talk about one particular Podcastle episode I listened to last week. So I'll preface by saying that on the whole, the quality's been good from the shows that I was listening to (though I listen anywhere from a month to a year behind release, usually).

The story I was listening to on Monday was Podcastle 156, "Household Spirits" by C.S.E. Cooney (full text available at Strange Horizons, where it was originally published. I stopped listening halfway through.

Skipping episodes is actually common for me—due to audio issues, substandard performance, or stories that are simply not my cup of tea—not usually anything to remark upon. With "Household Spirits," though, I had to turn it off because of the relentless parade of tropes forwarding racism against Amerindians.

As I was listening to this story, I felt like I was ticking off a checklist, or filling in a bingo card, about how to use harmful racist imagery to not!Amerindians in science-fiction. I spent a while looking for such a checklist. I mean, there's got to be one, surely, what with Avatar, and all that. The best thing I could find actually wasn't related to speculative fiction, but was simply the criteria from How to Tell the Difference: A Guide for Evaluating Children's Books for Anti-Indian Bias by Doris Seale, Beverly Slapin and Rosemary Gonzales, published online at Oyate.org.

Let's take one section:
In these hills called Seven Quails by the Kilquuts, back in those days there still was Kilquuts. Our ghost don't talk much. When he does, it's to Jessemee.

I shouldn't say ghost. Jessemee says the better word (just like you with your better words) is genius or numen. I've heard other words too, by other settlers. Ghoulog. Scabby. Shadekin.

Got to tell you, Del, to me it just looks like a boy.

His name, so far as I can coax one, is Mimo.

I know I got that wrong. There are other sounds in between the ones I can hear, but that's close enough for letter writing. Mimo looks a bit like this old Kilquut farmhouse we bought sight unseen. Skinny and leaning, with dirt on it so thick I don't reckon a bunch of bachelors like us'll ever get it scrubbed clean.
What can we check off?
  • Are Native peoples portrayed as . . . simple tribal people, now extinct?
  • Are there insulting overtones to the language in the book? Are racist adjectives used to refer to Indian peoples?
  • Are Native cultures presented in a condescending manner? Are there paternalistic distinctions between "them" and "us"?
  • Are Native peoples discussed in the past tense only, supporting the "vanished Indian" myth? Is the past unconnected to the present?
Or how about this:
About ten years ago, the Kilquut elders had a sit-down at their meetinghouse (big ramble of a place the Gladstones have overrun), and said, They're coming. We can't fight them. We can't become them. We can't leave.

The Kilquut argument, what Jess calls "their focal tenet" (which puts me in mind of you, Del, and those radical ideas you call religion), is that it's always better to die than kill. Easy way to wipe out your species, I say. I told you that before.

So the Kilquuts gathered themselves in a valley. All but the young'uns, who the elders hoped might grow up with no memory of how things'd been. Then the Kilquuts spoke some words they all knew, and the green lightning came down and killed them. The sky opened and poured a month straight, filling up that valley of the dead.
In addition to some things we've already checked off:
  • Are Native Nations presented as being responsible for their own "disappearance?"
  • Does the story encourage children to believe that Native peoples accepted defeats passively?
Continuing on:
After making sure Mimo was okay and not puking anymore, he went outside and cut a switch, then came back in and explained to Mimo, let's see if I can remember the words . . .

"Son, those arrows weren't rightly yours to . . . to . . ." Dad pointed at the green fire but couldn't say burn. "And someday, Mimo, maybe not tomorrow, but someday in the future, if I don't show you right now how it's wrong to break other people's things, it'll go bad for you."
Let's check off:
  • In modern times, are Indian people portrayed as childlike and helpless? Does a white authority figure – pastor, social worker, teacher- know better than Native people themselves what is "good for them?"
And this is just in the first half of the story before I turned it off. And it's not even all that was in the part I listened to. And Oyate doesn't have anything on their list about being magical.

It's not a new idea that there's a problem with speculative fiction writers who attempt to "subvert" or otherwise "neutralize" racist tropes by using their authorial control to make those tropes literally true in their world. So the Navi are literally connected to the earth. Patricia Wrede writes about pre-Columbian Americas that are literally "empty of people but full of dangerous animals, many of them magical." The beings that South Africa are subjecting to apartheid are literally insects. This is not subversion; this is entrenchment.

Finally, there's a general criterion on the Oyate list:
  • Is there anything in the story that would embarrass or hurt a Native child?
It's a question best answered by [personal profile] moniquill:
STORIES LIKE THIS HURT ME.

They hurt PEOPLE LIKE ME. The especially hurt CHILDEN LIKE ME. They hurt me because they are part of a cultural narrative that erases the reality of my existence. That claims that This is what NDNs were and Now they Are Gone isn't it Sad? But if our good readers had been there, OH IF ONLY THEY HAD BEEN THERE, they would have been some of the Good White People and would have Joined The Natives. Yes they would. Which neatly absolves them from having to think about the fact that their ancestors didn't and the lasting ramifications that has on native people living today. Everyone weeps cathartic tears and insists that they'd have helped the Na'vi fight to keep out the unobtamium miners, but precious few of them then go home and help the REAL FUCKING LIVE Dineh (Navajo, to those playing the white name game) fight the uranium miners TODAY in the REAL WORLD. And why should they? The story already absolved them.
Moniquill wrote this and much more because I bugged her about this story before I wrote up this post. As a result, she wrote a far more amazing response than I could hope to come up with, from which I took the above quote. She also subjected herself to the entire story, so if you want to get a taste of even worse things in the story (and even I was shocked at some of he quotes from later in the story), she's your person.
tablesaw: "This sounds like Waiting for Spy Godot" (Hunt)
The conversation continuing in the comments to my last post is awesome. Something occurred to me that didn't fit in with any of the comments, so I thought I'd address it separately.

A large part of my history with literary criticism in general, and the New Critics in particular, is the fact that my first serious analysis of literature came when I was a theatre major. In particular, my professor Stacy Wolf was very adamant about debunking the idea that analyzing theatre meant analyzing a playscript written by a playwright, as opposed to a produced play with actors, set design, costumes, music, and anything else that might be there, including the fact that any particular production of a play will have several slightly variant performances. It's harder, but it's so much more awesome.

It was also the first time that anyone had ever seriously suggested that the cover actually does affect the book. That is, it was an article that analyzed the effect of publicity on the production, arguing that it could never be simply ignored in the analysis of a play, production, or performance.

It included an anecdote about the premiere of Waiting for Godot in America that really stuck with me. Unfortunately, I had a hard time verifying it, and so for many years, I worried that it was too good to be true. And then, just today, I have found that it has appeared in the New Yorker, from an eyewitness:

amuel Beckett’s "Waiting for Godot," billed as "the laugh sensation of two continents," made its American début at the Coconut Grove Playhouse, in Miami, Florida, in 1956. My father, Bert Lahr, was playing Estragon, one of the two bowler-hatted tramps who pass the time in a lunar landscape as they wait in vain for the arrival of a Mr. Godot. "Playing 'Waiting for Godot' in Miami was like doing 'Giselle' in Roseland," my father said. The play was not so much a laugh riot as a revolution in theatrical storytelling; inevitably, it was met with militant incomprehension. "A dramatic whatzit," Walter Winchell called it, adding, "The history of frammis never had anything so rillerrah." On opening night, half the audience walked out after the first act; the next day, there was a line at the box office—to return tickets.
—John Lahr, "Panic Attack"

Of course, once found, that phrase "the Laugh Sensation of two Continents" becomes a key into finding related work, because the anecdote is so good, it gets worked into other articles. I'm pretty sure the article I read was excerpted from Directing Postmodern Theater: Shaping Signification in Performance. And here's an excerpt from The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative using it to talk about paratexts, which [personal profile] flourish mentioned in comments:
Gerard Genette invented the word paratexts for this material that lies somehow on the threshold of the narrative. Talking about the impact of a narrative, we can easily overlook the contributions of paratexts. We get into the habit of assuming that the narrative is wholly comprised in the thing we read, hear, or see with its beginning, middle, and end. Of course, the influence of some paratexts, like the kind of paper a novel is printed on, or the texture of its binding, may have very little influence on how we experience a narrative. (Though even here one can find exceptions. Wilde's Dorian Gray purchased "nine large-paper copies" of his favorite novel "and had them bound in different colours so that they might suit his various moods.") But a strong recommendation on the book jacket might predispose us to read a narrative with a favorable mindset or, conversely, to be doubly disappointed when the narrative dails to match the expectations created by the blurb. Or an ad, perhaps for commercial reasons, may lead us to expect one kind of play or film, when the work is quite something else. The American premier of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot—a stark, static, darkly humored representation of the human condition—was advertised as "the laugh sensation of two continents." As a result, the production played to, if not the wrong audience, the wrong set of expectations. On opening night, the upper-middle-class Miami audience, lured by the prospect of light comedy, left the theatre in droves before the first act.
tablesaw: Machete reveals his personal armory. "They just fucked with the wrong Mexican." (Wrong Mexican)
My ire was raised today reading [personal profile] kate_nepveu's writeup of her Arisia experience, specifically being on the panel of "Idols with Feet of Clay."

But specifically, I want to address one particular argumentative tack, seen in Ian Randal Strock's own recounting of the con and the panel:
On the programming side, I was on five panels (I was scheduled for two more, but missed them due to traffic). The most lively was the first, "Idols with Feet of Clay". It was a discussion of the question: "Can you still read the works of someone with whom you are on opposite sides politically?" The panel write-up specifically mentioned James P. Hogan's Holocaust denial and Orson Scott Card's opposition to homosexuality. Of the five panelists, I was the only one who said one ought to be able to divorce the art from the artist, and read the fiction regardless of one's view of the writer.
(Emphasis mine.) The phrase "divorce [or separate] the art from the artist [or vice versa]" is pretty key in these debates, and it is singled out on both sides of the debate. For example, [personal profile] nojojojo responds
Naturally he would be shocked, shocked I tell you, that people who are harmed by bigotry might not be able to divorce art from its artist, or "artistic" bigotry from its real, dangerous effect on the zeitgeist and law.
Nojojojo also links to an old post by [personal profile] catvalente which sarcastically says:
Oh, but it should be about the art, shouldn't it? We should separate the art from the artist.
But here's the thing: I think the phrase is a smokescreen.

I mean, when I think of "The Death of the Author," I'm thinking of an outlook that is designed to fundamentally empower readers over authors. So when it comes to, as Yuki_Onna calls it, fuckmuppetry, why is this pulled out as a defense of authors?

Clearly, these writers aren't referencing the same theory I'm thinking of. In fact, they're calling back to New Criticism. New Criticism also plays with the idea of the Intentional Fallacy, but it couples this with the Affective Fallacy, which says that an individual's reader's impressions have no place in interpreting art. Thus interpretation of art is decoupled from both the author and the reader (and history and a whole host of other things) so that it can just be capital-A Art.

And thus the sleight of hand. When writers like Strock call for everyone to divorce the art from the artist, they're actually calling for everyone to divorce the reader from the art.

Now, one can argue that this is appropriate when constructing formal criticism (though, be careful if you do so here, because there are some pretty heavey hitters reading). But the real problem is that the context of all of these previous statements—and of various other discussions regarding social justice issues and author fuckmuppetry—is not of criticism but of reading. The actual physical act of reading, and of the concommitant decisions of what books to buy or request. Reading is not a context from which one can divorce the reader.

And so this is why I'm officially calling bullshit on the "separate the art from the artist" line in these discussions. And I call for others who agree with me to not buy into the framing of our opponents, and call this tactic what it really is: separating the reader from reading.



Am I being unfair to Strock in particular in this analysis? I don't think so. From later in Kate Nepveu's report:
And then—well, I'm pretty sure I didn't actually shout this time. But Strock said something about sensitivity training and how it's supposed to keep people from saying offensive things, and he thinks that maybe we should having training in how not to be offended at things people say, because it just gives the speaker the power to upset you, so why not just ignore it, why get upset.
I mean, this is just the logical extension of divorcing the reader from the reading—divorcing the listener from the listening. I mean, surely, there must be some sort of instruction that may be given such that, in communication, one may receive the communication without reacting to it. That's how the brain works, after all.
tablesaw: Two women put the star on a Christmas tree. (Apocalyptic Christmas)
I'm finally getting some traction on the holiday season, and that includes putting up a holiday gift list for friends and family.

Things I would like for the holidays (and then also my birthday).

Art. The walls are pretty bare right now, so I'm looking for things to hang to replace some of the things that are gone. I know it's a tricky thing, because I also want it to reflect my own tastes, which is hard to do since I don't know what to put up on the walls in the first place, but that's something I'm looking for.

Massage. Some talented amateurs have let me know that I really need to work on the tension in my everywhere. So gift certificates, recommendations, and even personal volunteering to give me a massage would be wonderful.

Graphic Novels/Comic-Book Trade Paperbacks. The price of these and the speed at which I read them often make me feel guilty buying them, or severely restrict the rate at which I do. But since I reread them often, it usually works out. I think I'll do a separate post of what I have and things I look for when I go shopping. The last thing that really made me drool was Astro City: The Dark Age 1 & 2.

Pants. (This is mostly for my mom's reference.) This year was really hard on my work khakis, with a number of pairs becoming unusable for various reasons. I'm currently 38 waist, 34 inseam.

Tie clips. Every so often, I put on a tie and wish I had a tie clip for it. I don't know why. It's good men's jewelry. I used to have them as a kid, before all my ties had their own holders in the back, but I don't have any anymore.

Music. I just don't usually buy stuff on my own, so gifts of music are definitely appreciated.

Classy Booze. I've been having fun exposing myself to new types of alcohol. A friend pointed out these gift baskets, which made me drool, but anything new to try would be fine. The only thing that I don't particularly care for is vodka. The thing I've started trying most recently is scotch.

Last year, my uncle picked something off my wish list, and I realized it was terribly out of date. I spent some time today clearing out a bunch of stuff and adding a few other things that I actually do want now. Some of the graphic novels are on there, some music is still there from before, a few DVDs, etc. Also on there is the re-release of Betrayal at House on the Hill, which I was drooling over in the store the other day.

Things to avoid:

Videogames. I have a bunch of them right now, and I need to get through some of them. Unless you are absolutely sure that it's something I want and will love, you probably shouldn't get one for me. Consider just lending it to me instead.

Books. Same deal here. I've got lots of to-read items that another book may just make me sad. (Exception is the graphic novels I talked about above, because I go through them much quicker.)

Some DVDs. I now have Netflix instant (but not a regular disc-shipping account), which is a much more convenient way for me to watch most of the things that would be given on DVD. Most things, but not all. There are still TV shows that aren't available, so those would be things to get me, though I'd probably prefer to borrow them as well.

However, I do some fandom iconning, and one of my projects for the coming year is to try vidding, so shows and movies I like enough to watch for those purposes are safe bets.

And with those last three in particular, I always prefer to receive pre-owned items if possible.
tablesaw: A redshirt says, "I'm just here to pay off my Academy loans anyway." (Academy Loans)
They stepped out of the lift. "You make a terrific mother, Uhura," Kirk said.

She turned with a lift of eyebrow that was almost Vulcan. "Indeed? Thank you, Captain. But then, I always am. The ship is just full of little boys."

Kirk did a small double-take as she vanished through the door of her quarters, a "Good night, gentlemen" floating sweetly after her. Spock was not quite sure whether he heard correctly, "Sleep tight." It did not seem quite logical, nor, if the Captain's expression was any indication, quite safe.

"When is her birthday?" Kirk muttered. "I think the traditional spanking might be in order."

Spock raised an eyebrow. "Fascinating custom, Captain. Do you really want to inaugurate it among the command crew of the Enterprise.

Kirk shot him a look of mischief, with just a touch of speculation on whether the Vulcan implied that someone might try to inaugurate it on the Captain of the Enterprise.

"No," Kirk said firmly, in answer, or in rejection of the speculation. "But—" he looked back at Uhura's door, "there's no law against being sorely tempted."

"Indeed," Spock said blandly, and collected a double-take himself.
That's an excerpt from "Surprise!" a short story in the officially licensed Star Trek: The New Voyages 2. It was written by Nichelle Nichols, Sondra Marshak, and Myrna Culbreath.

By Nichelle Nichols.

This story goes on to have a confrontation between Uhura, Kirk, and Spock in the corridor that connects Kirk and Spock's adjoining bathrooms. Also, Kirk is naked.

By Nichelle Nichols.

I love this story. The book suggests that Nichelle Nichols was also in the process of coauthoring a licensed novel titled Uhura, but I guess that never happens. Which is a shame

(Crossposted (mostly) to [community profile] starry_sea.)
tablesaw: The Maple Street streetlight blinks on and off and on. (Monsters Are Due)
Dear Authors:

I'd like to talk to you about making money now that traditional publishing is dead. First, here's John Scalzi on the subject:
Book publishing is a sinking ship. The former passengers on the ship have given in to their feral instincts and are dismantling the ship board by board. The remaining crew are being wedged further and further back into what little of the ship remains above the waterline. Eventually the whole ship will disappear beneath the waves and all the crew will drown. The thought of possibly jumping off the ship apparently doesn’t occur to the crew; rather, their ambition is simply to be the last person to drown.

Screw ‘em. Let them drown. . . . .

Listen to me now: Writers are not in the publishing industry. The publishing industry exists to handle the output of writers and distribute it in an effective and hopefully profitable way; however it does not necessarily follow that writer’s only option is the publishing industry, especially not now. Congruent to this: Books aren’t the only option. I write books, but you know what? I’m not a book writer, any more than a musician is an LP musician or an MP3 musician. The book is the container. It’s not destiny.
Wait a second. That's Scalzi writing five years ago about Writing in the Age of Piracy.

And, okay, I'll confess, that first paragraph is out of context. The article only supposes the total annihilation of traditional publishing (via piracy, not e-books) as a way to talk about alternate revenue steams. Specifically, he talks about how Penny Arcade has built a media empire by creating things that they gave away totally for free. The big takeaway is:
Multiple revenue streams are a writer’s friend.
That's what's getting to me about the whole Amazon/MacMillan/e-book/print/online/offline mishigoss. Print may not be dead, but there are a lot of other rings, and there's no reason to tie all your hopes onto just one.

Authors, let me tell you, when I buy a traditionally published book, I do not feel like I am supporting you as the author. I am supporting the publisher, and I am supporting the bookseller, but I am not supporting you. There's just too much in between. So when Scalzi calls for readers to support authors, I'm constantly surprised when he suggests that we find a book published and distributed elsewhere. I mean, if you want to support Macmillan, then, yeah buy Macmillan's books. But, I want to support you, not the corporation who licensed your work with a cash consideration and then rebranded it and distributed it nationally.

I think it's even worse when it's badness. When Bloomsbury whitewashed a cover again, there were very appropriate calls for a boycott. Bloomsbury thinks that they can portray non-white characters in their novels as white characters on their covers as a way to increase sales. A boycott will divorce them of this belief.

But authors balked because of the damage it would do to the author. To pull support from the publisher is to pull support from the author, and so we shouldn't boycott.

Authors, are you really that close to your publisher? Perhaps you are, or perhaps you aren't. But why can't I support you, the author, the one I'm a fan of, when I disagree with the company that paid to license your work?

What's more, I don't have a very large budget for buying stories anyway. My reading pace is slower, and I've got bookcases and second-hand shops and libraries all around me. So I've stopped myself from buying most books to keep my finances under control. So if I spring for a new book, it's probably only because I have a gift card. But I do still read. And I read stories online. I read author blogs online. And I listen to Escape Artists podcasts at work. I have a number of authors of whom I am fans.

Authors, I am your fan, but I am not buying books, print or otherwise. How do I give you money outside of using your Amazon link to buy the book that somebody else published?

The traditional publishing model is what it is, and it's clear from that it's still really, really good at taking a novel and sending out to a wide audience. And really, that an end of itself. Those novels get you fans. But you might not have gotten money from the person who read the novel and became a fan. You may never get that money by publishing novels (on your own, or through a corporate publisher). But we're still here, and we still want to support you. Whether we have the money or not, we feel that tug, and how able we are to resist that pull varies with what you're using to tempt us.

Honestly, I think I spend more money on T-shirts than new books now, because the LA library does not allow me to borrow T-shirts. And a number of those shirts refer to movies, TV shows, and videogames. And I don't have a lot of wiggle room in my budget for Paypal tipjars, but I still contribute more to them than to my out-of-pocket print fiction budget.

Authors, why can't I buy a shirt, a shirt with a jaunty quote of your devising?

Publishing may be in trouble. It's not just that there are all those middlepeople, but those middlepeople may also be turn out to be idiots, and then your link to the Amazon page of your book isn't going to be a great option. You don't have to switch everything. You don't need too many Girl Who Navigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Makings, because you'll always have that one there, waiting for fans.

Authors, listen to time-delay Scalzi. You are not in the publishing industry. You can escape the not really sinking ship and also still probably leave all your stuff on the ship, 'cause it's not really sinking, and then you've got like a resort vacation on the island without having to move all your stuff and still getting access to the nice galley (which may now have fresher fruit from the shore anyway). There's no reason to only stay on the ship. There are other places to meet your fans (and get our money into your pocket). Use all of them.

Edited to Add: As often happens when I write a post from three different locations (go cloud computing), I deleted a chunk and forgot to compensate it. It's created some confusion, so let me just put back in the chunk I forgot to deal with, which is a portion of text from the Scalzi quote:
Because here’s the thing about that “sinking ship:” Even if we grant it is sinking (which we should not), and that the passengers are scurvy pirates (which we ought not), this ship is sinking in about five feet of water and the shore is fifty yards away. And if you haven’t the wit to make it to shore, then by God, you deserve to die.
To see how much I thought I'd addressed that, look at how I referenced it in the last paragraph.

Anyway, what's "dying" about the publishing industry isn't the industry itself, it's the author's ability to make money from it, which has generally been decreasing as the money for buying books has been diverted elsewhere. Hypothetically and hyperbolically, it could get to the point where an author might be able to get a novel prepared for print and distributed, but not be able to make any money from it (which is the point at which we join Scalzi's hypotehtical and hyperbolic essay).

What then? Do you take out the middlepeople and publsh the novel by yourself so that you can get the money that results from selling directly to a smaller audience? Or do you have the publisher prepare, print, and sell the novel; draw a wider audience; and earn money by encouraging the audience to do things other than buying the books?

Most likely, it'll be a combination. But you can still make money licensing novels to be printed traditionally, you can still make additional money right now.

So, again, sell me a T-shirt.
tablesaw: Two women put the star on a Christmas tree. (Apocalyptic Christmas)
We're already in a countdown to Christmas. Various things like [livejournal.com profile] ojouchan's new job and some annoyingness with banks have meant we got a really late start. And it was only yesterday that I fully realized that I wasn't going to have any more free days before Christmas Eve. (Thursday and Friday are my days off, so my last pre-Christmas weekend just finished.)

But yesterday, Ojou and I cleared up some of the bank stuff, then we went with [livejournal.com profile] twilightsyren to Downtown Burbank. I got a lot of stuff done; I've pared down my budget this year, and I'm doing pretty good with it. I think I can get everything else done pretty quickly; my biggest regret is that I'm not likely to get to my regular used bookstore unless they've got expanded hours, or I make a rush to get there on the 23rd.

Still, since I've been thinking more about it, I thought I'd expand the Holiday/Birthday lists:
  • Puzzle Books.I mentioned Mutant Sudoku last time, but there's a lot of other good stuff out there.
    • Nikoli Books. A few years ago, [livejournal.com profile] cramerica got me Penpa Mixes 1-3, which were loads of fun. They were especially useful once I dropped my nikoli.com membership. I still really love the puzzles, but having them in book form means I can forget about them easily. I'd love to see Penpa, Fillomino, Slitherlink, Masyu, Nurikabe, and Heyawake. (Obviously, they won't get here in time for Christmas, but whatever.
    • Nikoli by Sterling. Sterling Publishing puts out some real quality stuff, and recently they've been publishing Nikoli puzzles in books mixed with Sudoku. I've already got Slitherlink (which I've finished), Masyu, and Nurikabe, but I'd still like to get my hands on the other varieties listed above.

    • Crosswords. Also from Sterling, Frank Longo's Vowelless Crosswords looks good, as do Patrick Berry's Crossword masterpieces.
  • Tea. Specifically looseleaf tea, not bagged/packaged. Our tea reserves are dreadfully low, and we haven't had time to restock. I like most kinds, black, green, white, oolong, herbal infusions, etc. I'd avoid Teavana and Lupicia because they're overpriced. We usually shop at specialteas.com or dragonwater.com online, and when we want something in person, we go to Wing Hop Fung in Chinatown, which stocks birdpick.com. (It looks like they have a store in Pasadena too.)
  • One-Time Maid Service. Ojou and I are way behind on cleaning, and a burst of professional help would go a long way, especially now that we rarely have a full day off together.
  • New Year's Eve Plans. I'm working most of the Christmas weekend, and as a result, I've got a nice five-day weekend from December 29 to January 2. Ojou's got a sexy, sexy Foxy Brown outfit to wear . . . and a lot of our friends are going to be out of town. We need something to do, something big. Scrabble with Ellen isn't going to cut it this year.
And that's the end of my proactive gift list.
tablesaw: Two women put the star on a Christmas tree. (Apocalyptic Christmas)
Some things wanted this gifting season:
  • A new backpack. I love my trusty Jansport, but at some point, the stuff that's supposed to keep the weight off my shoulders melted on the left side. And recently, It's been leaking out red goo if I try to wear it other than one-shouldered.
  • Tablesaw. [livejournal.com profile] ojouchan wants some new furniture. We've been talking about getting a new coffee table from IKEA for ages, and she'd like to replace our big dining room table with something more functional. We're probably goign to swing by St. Vincent de Paul, but I guess IKEA gift cards would make us pretty happy.
  • Untables. Speaking of new tables, we'd like to get rid of our old ones. The coffee table is nice. We'll entertain all offers, and I'll drop it off pretty much anywher in the LA area you'd like. The dining-room table is nice too, but I'm not sure if it fits in the car. Pictures soon, I think.
  • XBox 360 Ojou's been eying it seriously, and now that we have the HD TV, we're ready for it. The system's about five years old, which means we've got a backlog of things we can get used (though Ojou's got her eye on Dragon Age). This may wait until birthday, though.
  • Mutant Sudoku. I've been looking forward to [livejournal.com profile] motris and [livejournal.com profile] onigame's book of sudoku variations for a while. I usually find sudoku boring, but these two are able to bring out some amazing things out of the structure. It came out a little while ago, but I thought I'd leave it for giftability.
  • Clothes I hate buying clothes, so come December I always need new ones. I had some bad luck with pants recently, and I could do with some new shirts too.
And that's really it. Once again, we're going to try to get rid of stuffs and clean house, as well as trying to sock away some money for the wedding. And as usual, I prefer most gifts to be used whenever possible, especially when it comes to things like music, books, games, and DVDs.
tablesaw: A tablesaw in action. The blade disappears when it comes in contact with a hot dog. (Default)
Follow Friday

Here's the plan: every Friday, let's recommend some people and/or communities to follow on Dreamwidth. That's it. No complicated rules, no "pass this on to 7.328 friends or your cat will die". Just introduce us to some new things to read.


[personal profile] flourish is reading pop-culture-studies books for National Blog Post Month. Her blog's pretty awesome otherwise too.

Let's Play

My current read is the entire Quest for Glory series by Bobbin Threadbare. There are lots of Sierra games that I've always wanted to learn more about, and this series is a lot of fun to read about.

Pictures

My dad has a Flickr account ([syndicated profile] dedalus1947_flickr_feed), recently featuring children in costumes and Dia de los Muertos festivities.

Fandom

When the intensity of [livejournal.com profile] whedonland subsides, I like to dip into [livejournal.com profile] tvpassiton

Puzzles

A little while ago, I refound my Nikoli books of Slitherlink and Nurikabe, and I've been solving them on my commute. I think I'm only a few puzzles away from completing the Slitherlink book.

I also have the Naughty Crosswords for bathroom solving.

Print

For a while, working on the Nikoli books, I wasn't reading as much. I'm back in trying to finish This Small City Will Be a Mexican Paradise by Michael J. González. It examines Mexican Angeleños' relationship with the state of Mexico and the "Indians" who were already living in the area.
tablesaw: A tablesaw in action. The blade disappears when it comes in contact with a hot dog. (Default)
Work: We are understaffed; I've been dealing with lots of stress.

RPG: Unknown Armies is fun. Look at my map. Cthulhu next.

Videogames: I just keep playing Mr. Driller; need to restart DDR.

Wedding: June 19; looking at Marrakesh House; working on guest list.

TV: Lots of fun stuff, Mercy's a surprise winner for me.

Fandom: Joined [livejournal.com profile] whedonland on Team Angel. Having lots of fun playing.

Books: Reading LA history slowly, catching up on Escape Artist podcasts.

Weather: Rained two days, then back to heat. I miss the rain.

Clothes: Bought new shoes and pants; sitting between 36" and 38" waist.
tablesaw: Gaff, from <cite>Blade Runner</cite> (Gaff)
I've got Photoshop at work, now. So I've been spending downtime haphazardly learning how to use it. This is my first attempt at a Gaff icon. I may replace it, especially if I get a chance to take my own screencap.



[livejournal.com profile] evilprodigy has a post about invoking the historical oppression of Irish-Americans, "[IBARW] It's Not The Same Thing (Or, Leave Your Irish Ancestors In Their Graves)." The comments touch on American assimilation, directly and cluelessly indirectly.

The extent to which "assimilation" is contingent on whiteness, or the acceptance of white supremacy, is rarely discussed during "melting pot" idealism. It reminded me of this passage:
A 1933 report submitted to the FHA by one of its consultants, Home Hoyt, reveals the FHA's assessment of racial worth and its acknowledgment of the fluid and contingent boundaries of white identity:
If the entrance of a colored family into a white neighborhood causes a general exodus of the white people it is reflected in property values. Except in the case of Negroes and Mexicans, however,these racial and national barriers disappear when the individuals of foreign nationality groups rise in the economic scale or conform to American standards of living. . . . While the ranking may be scientifically wrong from the standpoint of inherent racial characteristics, it registers an opinion or prejudice that is reflect in land values; it is the ranking of race and nationalities with respect to the beneficial effect upon land values. Those having the most favorable effect come first on the list and those exerting the most detrimental effect appear last:
  1. English, Germans, Scots, Irish, Scandinavians
  2. North Italians
  3. Bohemians or Czechoslovakians
  4. Poles
  5. Lithuanians
  6. Greeks
  7. Russian Jews of lower class
  8. South Italians
  9. Negroes
  10. Mexicans
Thus, FHA officials recognized the inherent instability of ethnic hierarchies, but remained vigilant toward racial distinctions between white and nonwhite. This recognition provided a material basis for the development of an inclusive white identity predicated on suburban home ownership, and in Southern California, where the FHA maintained a most vital role in shaping regional patterns of suburban development, the settlement of places such as Orange County and the San Fernando Valley created a space where a diverse array of whites and white ethnics could "conform to American standards of living."
—Eric Avila, Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Angeles

I believe the emphasis wasn't in the original. Of course, by the 30s, the Irish had clearly ascended to whiteness, but you can see the stratification of other groups whose status would change with the next World War. Except for those two groups at the bottom, of course. I wonder what they have in common.
tablesaw: Tablesaw (Thin Manual)
Hulu adds lots and lots of stuff during the summer, since they don't have to worry about the popular shows updating every week. The promotion is Days of Summer, but there's so much going up, not all of it is marked.

For example, not on the list is M.A.N.T.I.S., an awesome superhero show starring Carl Lumbly, and The Mysterious Cities of Gold, a longform animated show from the '80s. Also among the cool:

[livejournal.com profile] ojouchan and I went to A&M Book Cellars for the semiannual sale (still going on for a few more hours). I picked up a few things, as did Ojou (but they're all at home, so I can't list them). I wondered to myself why I haven't been reading as much the past few weeks, then I realized that my new netbook obsession had replaced books that were less net recently. I imagine that will wear off. Eventually.

No Con Do

Jul. 8th, 2009 05:14 pm
tablesaw: -- (Real1)
The NPL Convention is this weekend in Baltimore, and I'm not going. Instead, [livejournal.com profile] ojouchan and I will be taking part in my sister's wedding on Saturday, which is a midge more important.

Between now and then I have to get myself a haircut, and Ojou's got all manner of things she plans to do. We've also got to get started on planning our own wedding, which we will do by taking notes the entire weekend.

But it's always weird not going to Con. I was reminded the other day that the NPL Con is a defining fact of my life for many people, since it features so prominently in the story of how I met Ojou. Some friends had heard Will Shortz talk about it on NPR last week and were wondering when I was leaving. And there are still plenty of folks at the Con who probably expect me to show up.

Luckily, the internet has come a long way, and a number of the puzzles that are going to be in circulation will become available on the internet. I've already solved my first handout, a quick cryptic by [personal profile] canadianpuzzler.

And speaking of quick cryptics, National Puzzler's League Cryptic Crosswords is a brilliant collection of 45 crosswords from the NPL's magazine The Enigma. As the book has gone out of print, a PDF of the book has been made available for free download.

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tablesaw: A tablesaw in action. The blade disappears when it comes in contact with a hot dog. (Default)
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