tablesaw: Two yellow roses against a bright blue sky. (Family Roses)
I can't yet say all I want to say, but I learned this morning that [personal profile] tam_nonlinear is dead.

I knew her from LJ from over a decade ago, but like many LJ/DW contacts, I wasn't in touch as much for a while. I would occasionally see the updates on DW about her garden, her cats, and her clinic-escort volunteering. She was one of the people I was hoping to get in contact with again.

Her family has asked for donations to be made to the Washington Area Clinic-Defense Task Force.
tablesaw: One machete is raised, a host more rise to meet it. (From the "Machete" trailer in "Grindhouse".) (Brown Power)

STEPHEN GREENBLATT: When I was writing the glosses for the Norton Shakespeare, I remember doing the glosses for Much Ado About Nothing and I came to the line in which Claudio says, I would marry her "were she an Ethiope." So I had to explain what "were she an Ethiope" meant, and I said in the marginal gloss, "Ethiope, i.e., black and therefore, according to the racist Elizabethan stereotype, ugly."

Now, someone criticized me for being too politically correct by saying "racist stereotype." But if you're actually faced with the practical question of how you're going to gloss the thing, you have to say "Ethiope, i.e., Ethiopian, i.e., black," that is clear. But if you're saying I'd marry her "were she an Ethiope," you have to explain what that means, and you could say "i.e., black and therefore ugly," but what does that mean if you're writing a book for a contemporary audience? You have to acknowledge that the values have drastically shifted.

You could also point out, if you were doing a fuller account, that Claudio was actually a very unpleasant character and that happens to therefore qualify this, but it isn't the whole story. The whole story definitely involves a broader, not just the defects of Claudio's character, but a certain set of broader Elizabethan understandings that Shakespeare routinely draws upon, often to make paradoxical effects. He loves this black mistress, the dark lady, and he makes much of the fact that he loves her despite the fact that she's dark and therefore violates the canons of beauty. But you can't begin to understand this if you don't understand something about the values of Shakespeare's time and also recognize that they're not necessarily our values.

Stephen Greenblatt, Cogan University Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University

Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing comes out tonight, and I wanted to quote this passage because this very racist line is included in the film. It didn't have to be, filming or staging Shakespeare means cutting a lot of dialogue (unless you're Kenneth Branagh and want a movie with an intermission). What's more,an anti-semitic line in the film was pointed cut (Benedick saying, of Beatrice, "If I do not love her, then I am a Jew").

In the film, this line is framed very pointedly. As Claudio speaks it, a black woman is framed in the background, making it particularly clear who is being slurred. This deliberate shot is abrupt and unsettling, which contributes to it becoming a laugh line for most audiences. (The audience I saw this with was mostly white; I don't know the makeup of other preview audiences that have reported laughter.) In defending this shot, Whedon has compared this to something that might happen in The Office (interview)

But while it might seem similar on the surface (close enough to encourage laughter by recognizing the form) there are some very important differences. The Office features several characters of different races, all of whom are characterized as having complex lives that overturn the tokenism that American corporate bureaucracy (as embodied by Michael Scott) wants to reduce them to. In contrast, all of the speaking roles and a wide majority of the extras in Much Ado are white. The black woman in this shot isn't seen before or after, and isn't particularly in focus while Claudio speaks either. She exists only to be slurred by one of the leads.

Whedon is also struggling against the narrative of Shakespeare's original source, which wants to unite its opposing forces into honor and harmony. Whedon does a good job of showing Claudio's turn to the dark side, but by the time the slur comes around, Claudio has done his penance and is being redeemed. That's not a narrative that The Office generally worries about (outside of the Pam & Jim's story, which is a more traditional romantic comedy plot).

It creates a very pointed hierarchy. Shaming a white woman at a public wedding is a grievous sin that must be redeemed, but shaming a black woman at a public wedding, eh we'll just let that slide because she's not the bride (never the bride) and we're running out of time.

One reviewer argued that the message of The Office is “Yes, racism still exists, but you are not alone.” But what we see in that moment of Much Ado About Nothing is that the black woman is completely alone; she is isolated, out of focus, denied a voice, in that shot, and in the rest of the movie as well. But for the cast of white characters, well, it's a bit awkward, but hey, you know, Claudio's a good guy. He was really sad at that funeral. Besides, do you even know who that woman is? I mean, are you sure she was invited, because I haven't talked to her.

I don't know what other people think when they see that shot. I suspect that many feel, without even thinking about it, that with the tension of the moment, and the similarity to other, better, comedies about race, laughter was necessary and appropriate. But I know that what I was thinking was that woman probably spent a long time getting ready, choosing her dress, getting her hair made up, feeling really pretty, and then suddenly everyone was looking at her while the groom said black women are ugly and terrible.

I didn't laugh.

Crossposted on Tumblr)

tablesaw: Supervillain Frita Kahlo says, 'Dolor!' (Que Dolor!)
I thought that a number of people might want to hear about this story from the Mexican presidential race: Josefina Vásquez Mota is the current favorite to be the nominee of the National Action Party (PAN) for the 2012 election. The current PAN president, Felipe Calderon, is hugely unpopular, and the current favorite for the race on the whole Enrique Peña Nieto, the recently confirmed nominee of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).
Peña Nieto, facing criticism and ridicule after several recent public fumbles, was asked in a separate interview to name the price of a kilo of tortillas, a standard food base in homes across Mexico, rich or poor. The PRI candidate replied, "I am not the lady of the house," or literally in Spanish, "No soy la señora de la casa."

The phrase was interpreted to mean "housewife" among social-media users and commentators who criticized Peña Nieto for what some called an example of Mexican machismo.

On Tuesday, [one of the country's most prominent female journalists, Carmen Aristegui asked Vazquez Mota, a 50-year-old married mother of three daughters, "Are you a señora de la casa?"

"I am a woman, and as a woman I am a housewife, I am a government official, I've been twice a government secretary, I've been leader of a parliamentary group, I am an economist," Vazquez Mota said.

"And indeed, all of that along with being a housewife, a housewife who knows what happens every day at the dining table and in the kitchen," she went on. "And although we may not be there for many hours, as is my case—and I'm sure your case and many others of us—every night we return to that space of the kitchen, return to check the refrigerator and see if everything is ready or what needs to be bought the next day."

Vazquez Mota also suggested that she stops at markets between public events if anything is needed in her household. Directly addressing Peña Nieto's statements, she characterized them as "pejorative."

"Regarding a price of something, we are not obligated to know everything, but what does seem precarious for me is this disdain, this pejorative attitude toward being a housewife," she said. "We have millions, Carmen, millions, that go out to take care of their children all alone."
Daniel Hernandez, "Woman candidate in Mexico says she comes home to check the fridge"
tablesaw: The Maple Street streetlight blinks on and off and on. (Monsters Are Due)
Lots of new shows. Here's what I've been thinking . . .
  • The Playboy Club: A show about the Playboy Club. Gone and goner, and good riddance. It wanted to be Mad Men so hard, mostly so that it could be horrible to its women characters while trying to say that they were totally equal. Disgusting, and I'm glad it's gone. (See also, "Final Insult to Injury: Before Cancellation Playboy Club Rewrites Steinem History.")
  • Revenge: The Count of Monte Cristo with a female protagonist. I was only able to watch about ten minutes before I got the same "my eyes glaze over" feeling of rich white people I can't tell apart that I got from Gossip Girl. Though I do see [tumblr.com profile] mswyrr covering it. Recommended?
  • Hart of Dixie: City doctor goes south to learn humility from "real folks." I think I lasted about three minutes before clawing my eyes out.
  • Terra Nova: People in the future travel to dinosaur world because the future sucks; also kill dinosaurs. It looks pretty, but it really has no idea what there is to the show other than people looking at dinosaurs. Somebody apparently decided it should be focused on a family, but the family dynamic is really uninteresting and generates no drama. So the plots are all about dinosaurs being dinosaurs.
  • Ringer: Sarah Michelle Gellar plays a former drug addict who takes over the twin's high-society life when the twin dies except the actually faked her own death. This show is terrible, but moves into the perfect place for a trainwreck by virtue of a decent cast and absurdly melodramatic story.
  • Unforgettable: A cop with perfect recall solves crimes. Forgettable.
  • Person of Interest: A computer genius, who built a near-omniscient Orwellian nightmare of a computer for the government, hires a hitman to be Batman on the side. This is a very slick show, but the political aspects just squick me out more than usual. Add to that the main characters are deliberately ciphers, and the whole thing feels hollow.
  • The Secret Circle: A retread of The Craft where the children of a secret witch circle form their own secret witch circle in a small town full of mysteries and secrets. This from the same team as one of my current favorites, The Vampire Diaries, so I'm going to give the show a little time to get up to speed. They seem to have the style and the components in place, but it hasn't quite gotten a story going yet. <Smallville>Start challenging your relationships, PCs!</Smallville>
  • Prime Suspect: A New York cop solves crimes while dealing with sexism from coworkers and others. Supposedly based on the original BBC series, though it doesn't show much relation other than a general concept. It doesn't hold a candle to the original, but it still holds its own as a solid U.S. cop drama. I think it's nailing its concept square on the head that other shows like like The Closer have shied away from, except in the margins.
  • A Gifted Man: A high-powered, narcissistic neurosurgeon becomes a Ghost Whisperer. Didn't make it through the pilot of this one, either.
  • Pan Am: A Pan-American Airlines flight crew experience the upheavals of the '60s from both sides of the Atlantic. This one definitely benefited from being watched after trying to watch The Playboy Club. While the show oversells the empowerment of women working at Pan-Am, it does understand that the way to show empowerment is to show women actually doing things. In the teaser of the pilot, we see our various heroines dealing with newfound fame from the cover of Life magazine, working as an activist in Greenwich Village, discussing romantic encounters with different men, and receiving instructions for an espionage mission. I don't know if I'll stick with it, because it lacks an edge at the moment, but it has a lot of promise.
  • American Horror Story: A dysfunctional family moves into a haunted house. Not really a great show for synopsis, since it's a all about the horror. I watched the pilot on Hulu while working, and realized I needed to watch it again. It's very much a show about the filming and presentation. I hope it can keep the pace set by the pilot, since it was my favorite pilot this year.


To sum up:

Eagerly watching: American Horror Story
Watching: Ringer, The Secret Circle, Prime Suspect
Mostly Watching: Terra Nova, Pan Am
Not Watching: Unforgettable, Person of Interest
Didn't finish one episode: Revenge, Hart of Dixie, A Gifted Man
Canceled: The Playboy Club

I'll do returning series in a separate post, soon.
tablesaw: Jennifer Connolly and David Bowie from <cite>Labyrinth</cite> (Labyrinth)
READ THIS
"Hello, FEMINIST HULK. I observe that you are using lady-scented body wash." . . .
Thank you, [livejournal.com profile] elusis, for the link.
tablesaw: Close crop on Brock Samson's I'm-gonna-kill-you face. (Brock Samson)
"Be a man: act like a child."

(This message is constantly being brought to you by: Advertisers.)
tablesaw: Gaff, from <cite>Blade Runner</cite> (Gaff)
It must be a nice privilege to tell someone to overlook the oppressive elements of a program, because it was helpful to you.
Beverly Guy-Sheftall, quoted in "The F Word: On Feminism, Being an Ally & Social Justice" by Dumi Lewis.

It's from a larger interview about dealing with privilege. I've been trying to keep that line close to me.

It's essentially what I've been trying to say about PUA defenders (most recently in [livejournal.com profile] theferrett's journal). It also runs in nicely with [livejournal.com profile] thete1's "'I know it's racist, Te, but the special effects look awesome!'"
tablesaw: Jennifer Connolly and David Bowie from <cite>Labyrinth</cite> (Labyrinth)
I'm still grappling with gender issues that do not conform to a male/female or masculine/feminine binary. I have a lot of cisgender privilege. No, that's an understatement. For all the reading and thinking I've done on ths subject, when dealing with transgender people in non-virtual situations, I am actively fighting transphobic thoughts. It's easier for me online, but knowing how little practice I have usually makes me doubt my critical thinking when it comes to these issues.

Still, in the wake of transphobia in a fandom-related dustup (link addresses the transphobia issues; if you don't know what the underlying wank is, it's not worth it to find out), I had these things in my mind today when I started watching the new episode of The Closer.

The plot features a retired detective who returns to give testimony after an old case is overturned on an unrelated issue. But upon his return to Los Angeles, it is revealed that although the detective had been known to collegues as a man, she is now living as a woman, to the naked disgust of her former partner.

Now, I know that a lot of people can't watch cringe television, like Arrested Development or The Office, but I can, and I often enjoy it. But even still, the casual abuse heaped onto Georgette from all corners, often ostensibly for humor, really sickened me. I had to turn it off before the end of act 2. There's probably a very valuable lesson at the end, but I doubt it will be worth it.



And then I come back to find some disturbing things about LiveJournal. [personal profile] synecdochic has been reading the upcoming changes to LiveJournal's code. The result of these changes (which, as of writing, are committed to go live the next time LiveJournal updates) is:
  • Gender will be a mandatory field at account creation, and it will be able to appear public on one's profile. (I can't tell if people with existing gender specification will be defaulted to "nobody can see it" or "everybody can see it".) (Subsequent changelog reading indicates that the public specificity has since been removed. It is unknown whether this is to require public specificity in the future or if it will remain private.)
  • >LiveJournal is removing the Unspecified option for the gender field. That's right: you get to be male or female. Period. That's it. (Source.)
(Full post.) If this is something that matters to you, you may want to set your gender to unspecified now. It appears that LJ will preserve current settings as unspecified, but it's not clear whether it'll ever be possible to unselect a gender if you don't do it now. (Source). [personal profile] synecdochic also suggests, "go to http://www.livejournal.com/contact/?dept=feedback and politely register your displeasure."

Update: LJ has rolled back the code, and will not be making the change. Synecdochic's entry has details and a response from LiveJournal's general manager in the United States. The response that the LJ Response Team has sent out int response to inquiries is reproduced in the comments here.
tablesaw: Gaff, from <cite>Blade Runner</cite> (Gaff)
The links keep on coming. For those confused by my recent failk, here's an executive survey of "PervySurveyFail" (so dubbed by someone [livejournal.com profile] ithiliana can't remember).

Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam have landed a lucrative book contract (publishing grapevine says US$250,000); as part of that project, they designed a survey to find out more about slash and fandom. The survey, their handling of it, their interaction with fans and critics has been both stupid and offensive in multiple ways.

There are, essentially, two lines of outrage in this whole thing. There's the political outrage at the horribly sexist, heteronormative, transphobic attitudes of Ogas and Gaddam in their survey and their interactions. And there's the outrage about the horribly bad science—the lack of clear methodology, patently biased questions, an ignorance of previous research in the area, etc.

The political outrage has played out in form much like other BlankFails. Which is not to say, again, that it is unimportant or uninteresting. [livejournal.com profile] rm has pointed out some very good threads about the harmful assumptions Ogas and Gaddam have been making about transsexuals and people who otherwise fall outside of the male/female sex/gender binary. Earlier today, Ogas and Gaddam (apparently in response to objections to their construction of "transsexual" in their work and the use of the word "tranny" in discussions) "corrected" their FAQ to replace "transsexual" with "shemale."

As [livejournal.com profile] rm said, "You have not yet begun to see wrath, although the cat macros are now out to play." And in apparent response to the escalation of failout, Ogas has now locked all of the posts that were originally intended for feedback and discussion of the project (thus rendering over a thousand comments invisible).

But because of the ostensibly scientific and academic roots of the survey and the project, many fans who are also academics soon began taking issue with the incredibly shoddy "research" being conducted. Objections were raised that there was no control preventing minors from participating, there did not seem to be adequate safeguards protecting respondents, that questions were being changed while the survey was still continuing. (Sadly, most of these discussions that I know about them are currently unavailable, because they were made in Ogas's journal.)

Eventually, the Institutional Review Board of Boston University was reached. (Ogas identified himself as "a cognitive neuroscientist at Boston University" in his initial approach to [personal profile] eruthros.) The IRB is responsible for maintaining ethical standards when researching human subjects (including when that research involves social, not medical, science). In the words of [livejournal.com profile] deadlychameleon, they responded that Ogas "is no longer in any way affiliated with Boston University, except as a recent graduate. They have asked him to stop using his official Boston University email address in connection with this project, or his website. He is officially on his own, and this project is NOT IRB APPROVED."

Deadly Chameleon continues:
The problem with this is threefold:

1. The researcher has no expertise in the area he is researching, nor has he recruited anyone to give him guidance.

2. The researcher has substantial profit motivation to produce work in this area (book contract with Penguin) which may lead to unethical conduct/a tendency to misrepresent his results.

3. The research is in no way overseen by any external body which can examine it for potential unethical conduct.

In addition to all of these, the researchers have now alienated their participant population, who are now very likely to become unreliable participants.
This explains much. Many people, myself included, wondered how two scientists or academics could behave so unprofessionally. Our error was in assuming that "scientist" or "academic" was their actual profession. It is clear that they are not. But if their profession is "hucksters peddling junk science for profit," it really would be unprofessional of them not to act the way they have.

Finally, this has been a surprisingly creative -fail. In addition to my own offering, there have been macros, parody surveys, Ogi Ogas/Sai Gaddam slash fic.

Other key posts:
tablesaw: Jennifer Connolly and David Bowie from <cite>Labyrinth</cite> (Labyrinth)
[livejournal.com profile] ithiliana suggests that the "unified fabric of human desire" must be some sort of plaid. Which got me thinking about kilts. Which led me to writing this:
I just wrote up a short abstract.
(It's weak but it scored a book contract.)
But the bloggers told me what I lacked:
"Ogi, where's your trousers?"

Let the wind blow high, let the wind blow low,
The better for my arse to show.
Fen cry, "Oh, John Ringo, no!
Ogi, where's your trousers!?"

I posted a web survey,
But I took it down right away.
Now I'm afeard of all El Jay
Because I nay have on trousers.

I went down to a comm with kink
To have some fun seeing what they think.
All the ficcers gave me eyes that stink,
Saying, "Ogi, where's your trousers!?"

The backlash hasn't been dismissed,
But they've no reason to be pissed.
You can't put ethics on a scientist,
Saying, "Ogi, where's your trousers!?"
Context
tablesaw: Gaff, from <cite>Blade Runner</cite> (Gaff)
When I left work yesterday, the Internet seemed rather calm. I was away for a few hours because [livejournal.com profile] ojouchan and I went to hear Mozart at the Hollywood Bowl using my firm's box seats. And when I came back, there was crazy.

A whole bunch of racefail from various SF fandom cons popped up, as linkishly summarized by [personal profile] coffeeandink. I haven't even had a chance to look at the WriterCon issues, because I've been reconstruct my blown mind after the mindblowingly idiotic statements made by [livejournal.com profile] arhyalon. I expect that [community profile] linkspam will be kicking into gear over it too.

Penny Arcade also took a dive into the "seduction community." Tycho offers some choice quotes like:
I'm fairly certain the purpose of this course is to make you a better predator of women. Check out their offers of "in-field training," as though you were going to hunt antelopes from a jeep in the Goddamned Savannah.
Gabe, on the other hand, apparently "decided to play devil's advocate" without doing a whole lot of research intot he topic, which was a bad idea. He finishes up saying
I'm a little worried that guys reading the site might take our discussion here as some sort of endorsement and I want to make sure that isn't the case. While some of their advice is probably fine I think the majority of it is really sleazy. Again, I can't blame guys for seeking out help. All joking aside though, I just want to make it clear that I don't think the seduction community is the place to go.
Emphasis mine, because although Tycho doesn't mention what started him down the rabbit hole, it may have been the recent massacre by George Sodini a deeply misogynistic man who regularly participated in "pick-up artist" seminars before taking two guns to a gym and then opening fire, killing three women and injuring nine before using the last bullet for himself.

Alas, a Blog has a collection of responses from "men's-rights activists, anti-feminists and other misogynists." (The original post includes a trigger warning for the quotes, and they are not for the faint of heart.) And these apologies for Soldini represent an extreme of Gabe's empathy. It's part of the reason, I try to divorce considering "intent" when it comes to things like this, because a person can ascribe a good intention or a seemingly reasonable justification to even the most heinous acts.

It's got me thinking about the nature of what "intention" is at all. Last year, [livejournal.com profile] adamcadre wrote about a psychological study investigating how we determine waht is intentional. I wrote a comment thinking about how intention intersects interactive fiction. In response, Adam wrote The Nemean Lion (Z-machine file, requires an IF interpreter to play), and I've been thinking about the last scene in this respect.



Meanwhile, there's also conflict in the world of logic-puzzles, where puzzle plagiarism has reared its ugly head, with Conceptis Puzzles, purveyor of soulless, computer-generated, mass-produced logic puzzles, appropriated the concept and presentation of Strimko for their "new" feature Chain Sudoku. [livejournal.com profile] motris and [livejournal.com profile] onigame (constructors of the eagerly anticipated and soon-to-be-released Mutant Sudoku, a book of hand-crafted, soulful logic puzzles) have weighed in.

Yes, even Sudokuland is full of the fail. I'm going to bed.
tablesaw: "The Accurate Tablesaw" (Accurate)
[personal profile] giandujakiss spurred a lot of new analysis of Dollhouse this week. There was a lot of discussion (some a bit . . . oh, let's just say questionable) at Whedonesque. The Angry Black Woman rants about people who lecture her for not understanding the subtlety of Dollhouse while they resolutely ignore the supertlety of the same. Then Shanna Palma at FeministSF—The Blog discusses how watching Dollhouse demands that the viewer do much interpretive work because the show itself isn't doing enough to question what's happening.

There are more links I've seen, but I can't find them right now. Still, that's a lot of linkage to be spurred by a vid.

"It Depends on What You Pay" is a short video made by [personal profile] giandujakiss editing together footage from Dollhouse to the song "It Depends on What You Pay" from The Fantasticks. I know there are musical-theatre fans reading who already know where this is going. Giandujakiss hints at it:
The original production of The Fantasticks ran continuously for 42 years, making it the world's longest running musical. By 1990, however, for reasons that will be obvious when you see the vid, It Depends On What You Pay had been largely excised from the show. Recent productions of The Fantasticks either include the song with a different set of lyrics, or delete it entirely and substitute a new song in its place.
You can download the vid at her post, or you can stream it (embedded under this cut.

It Depends on What You Pay by Giandujakiss )



A little after seeing the vid and reading the discussion, I was searching through FeministSF—The Blog for something unrelated. I came across a series of posts from previous years involving Dollhouse and the Frank Miller Test. In case you don't know about the Frank Miller Test:
It began here. It refers to the original Miller Test and also to the Shortpacked take on Frank Miller. It is applied to male sci-fi and fantasy writers, and it goes like this:

If the proportion of female sex workers to neutrally presented female people in his story is above 1:1, he fails.

Failure is an indication that the writer is suffering from a debilitating obsession with whores, and may be assuming that all women can be represented by sex workers.
Oh, those posts took me back, back to when it seemed like the weirdness of the Dollhouse would be based on the strange issues and conflicting views (even within feminism) of prostitution and sex workers, the halcyon days before we realized that every doll—who we are often told are total willing—has undergone, at the very "least," extreme coercion to gain their "consent." And as far as we can tell, at least one doll was abducted (or should I say . . . never mind) entirely against her will.

Back when I first posted about Dollhouse, I focused a lot on the first scene of the new pilot. Even back then, I felt, instinctively, that they way the show was going was that Caroline was not coerced or trapped into become a doll. At this point in the series, as far as I can tell, the only way for this story to work as "empowering" is if Caroline did actually enter the Dollhouse willingly, actively, with a plan—or even just the intent—to destroy it. It doesn't have to be a good plan; I don't expect (or want) Caroline to reveal the entire season to have been an elaborate Xanatos Gambit (or, more likely, a high-stakes game of Xanatos Roulette). Heroes do stupid things all the time. But what makes them heroes is that they choose to do those things.

And Whedon's heroines have an unfortunate history of being Chosen more often than they choose.
tablesaw: "Tablesaw Techniques" (Techniques)
There's a puzzle party today. I was supposed to bring a puzzle by [livejournal.com profile] thedan, but I screwed up and will have to postpone it until next time. Puzzling kind of sank into the background recently, and I didn't remember about it until someone reminded me of cooking. No, the thought process didn't make sense. Still, a Hail Mary pass trying to get it finished was incomplete, so I'm putting together a game of Dictionary Race. Not the most thrilling game, but it can have its moments, and I've wanted to run a game of it at a party for a while. It isn't the most newbie-friendly, but I think that most of the crowd will get into it. I'm also making an effort not to choose categories that don't give an advantage to those with expansive vocabularies.

And speaking of games, a piece of news that has started circling around is that USC is going to be offering a minor in "video game development and production". It was mentioned yesterday in Steve Harvey's "Only in LA" column, and will probably pop up a few other places over the weekend. (You may not have read Mr. Harvey's particular column, but you've seen ones like it. It lives on readers' photos of ads that say things like: "As Advertised: Carnivorous Pants! Watch 'em swallow bugs. Ugh!" (actual quote)). Regardless, I recommend a more incisive and less press-releasey article (the first of four parts): "Hard Sells," written by someone within the program. If you're interested in how video games are interacting with academe, it's a must-read.

And when it comes to reading about video games in general, more and more often, I head to insert credit. Their updates skew a bit more towards "hard-core" gaming, which is not something I'm particularly into, but which makes for a more interesting read. More importantly, they have a bizarre and talented staff of contributors that regularly turns out unique reviews and features. I would also recommend "life, non-warp," a beautiful essay that calls itself "a memoir of Super Mario Bros. 3."

Not speaking of games, I was a part of an interesting exchange on [livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna's journal. Read it yourself, and form your own opinions.

SatNYTX: 13:00.
tablesaw: -- (Default)
The other day, I had a sudden overwhelming urge to read "Judas Danced" by Brian Aldiss. I knew which book it was in, SF: Authors' Choice. After my fever for this chaotic tale was abated, I noticed something odd. Scribbled on the inside of the paperback cover, I found the following, in pencil and in my hand:
Don't do what I did . . .
You keep saying,
It's OK, I can live with that
It's OK, I can live with that
Then you go: "It's too much
I can't live with any of it
You have to change everything."
I haven't a clue what it means or why it's there. I don't even know if the words are mine or if I heard someone else say them. All I know is that it was when I had this book out, which was during the last two years of college? It's very likely that I copied this down during my "Race, Gender and Performance" class with Catherine Cole [Archive link, 10/26/10], since I used another story in the book, "Day Million" [dead link changed, 10/26/10] by Frederik Pohl as the source for my final project in that class. Does anyone recognize this fragment at all?

SatNYTX: 13:45. Very fast, but there was one crossing of words I didn't know.

(LJ note: The update page doesn't seem to allow me to select a userpic right now. Hope that gets fixed.) (Update: It's back.)
tablesaw: -- (Default)
I was reading some scribbles on gender from [livejournal.com profile] luxnightmare and realized something rather frightening. I had nothing at all to say. I sketched down a few responding thoughts, but as I did so, I kept thinking, So how is that useful?

I was reading Tehanu the other day, and despite reading it in one go, I was extremely frustrated with it. I love Le Guin's writing, and The Tombs of Atuan is one of my favorites. But Tehanu felt like an modern entry-level feminist tract grafted onto the beautiful fantasy world oF Earthsea. SEE the knowledge of women given the short shrift. HEAR characters muse about the relationship of gender and power. FEEL increasingly nauseated as you read the same words and the same ideas expressed by Kate Chopin or Charlotte Perkins Gilman in the modern era and many, many more before even them regurgitated.

Now it's I giving Ms. Le Guin the short shrift. But I felt very let down after The Tombs of Atuan. Atuan is such a very different story from most anything I've read or heard. The protagonist is different. The plotting is different. The structure is different. I felt like I was watching a myth that hadn't been allowed into "official records."

But Tehanu was incredibly predictable, moreso, I think, because I knew the themes and ideas it was based on. So I knew how the story had to go to complete its didactic circle. But I'm tired of reading books displaying the politics of gender in interactions. I get it. It's to the point where I see it everywhere I go, even the simplest overheard conversations are matrices of politics of all kinds. I don't need to have them splayed out on the page for me again and again. I'm tired of books that have "empowered" characters but contrived plots, making their empowerment dependent upon outside forces. I'm tired of essays and theories and theories on identity and gender and sexuality and race and elitism and classism and ageism and othering and orientalizing and everything else that dilute and complicate the issues without trying to change them.

I am so tired tired tired tired tired tired tired of reading surf reports when what I want to do is get across the ocean. I can only swim so far, and I can't get past the breakers. Why can't anybody tell me where to get a boat, where to build one, how to make one, even a canoe. Hell, I'll settle for floating log and paddle if it'll get me away from these God damned tidepools!

I'm tired. And I can't find anything or anyone to give me rest.

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February 2017

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