And welcome to another addition of "Things That Make Me Smile." Let's start with the obvious here: The Good Place.
My husband majored in philosophy at UT. There are a lot of philosophy jokes in this series. Ultimately, I rank it with Terry Pratchett when it comes to cheering me up and returning my faith in humanity. For the record, on of the things I adore most about the show is that just when you think you know exactly where its headed, it throws a curve ball. Serious props for the comedy writing on this one, folks. That shirt ain't easy.
This next one isn't quite so...let's say nice. [cough] Alex Jones and InfoWars (his conspiracy theory promoting YouTube channel) have been temporarily banned from YouTube. I actually did a little dance. He's caused so much harm, promotes blatant lies, and uses his show to sell overpriced, shitty products. I still don't understand why anyone believes anything he says. It's a scam. Anyway, I'm happy to see him get slapped. Let' hope he gets a permanent ban soon. I'm pretty sure he won't stop claiming shooting survivors are "crisis actors". So, it's a safe bet, if you ask me.
Filed under artwork, check out Cunene. Here's more. And more. (Thanks, Jess!) Also, have a look at Tomer Hanuka's work. I love the dynamic use of color and composition as well as the manga sensibility mixed with German Expressionism. Good stuff.
Sorry about last Friday. We've been having some issues with our internet connection. A service rep came by and replaced everything with new equipment, and now we're having a whole new set of problems. [eye roll] So much fun.
Oh! I've a reading this coming weekend at Malvern Books with several other wonderful local authors: Patrice Sarath, Christopher Brown, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Jessica Reisman, Robert Ashcroft, and Amanda Downum. The event starts at 2pm on Sunday the 29th. Please drop by, if you can!
A lot has been going on. Disney fired James Gunn for horrible, offensive comments he made in public (Twitter) in the past (2009-2012) about rape as well as gay and transgender individuals. My feelings on the matter are complex. And this article from NPR explains my position pretty well--basically, it's complicated. There are factors that affect the outcome, IMHO, like: how severe is the wrong done? Has the community/individual harmed forgiven the abuser? How dramatic is the change of behavior for the better? Does the abuser act like they remember their actions? Are they truly repentant? There's a lot going on. It's not simple. Most human problems aren't or they wouldn't be human problems.
Another issue that's sprung up is related to World Con. Once again, the programming is a hot mess. I'm not shocked. It seems there's an attitude among the programming team that new nominees (strangely, the new nominees from marginalized communities especially so) aren't considered well-known enough to be on panels. What the ever fuck? They're known enough to get nominations, but not enough to be on panels? What the hell do you think the convention is for? The awards ceremony is a big part of why the convention exists! For the record, my experience of my first Campbell nomination was not a totally positive one. I was also made to feel insignificant. (Although, not on the level of having my pronouns misused or being made to repeatedly ask for accommodations for my disabilities. Yes, that's happening too.)
The more fans adopt the attitude that somehow they are the arbiter of the community of which they are only a part, the more shitty things are going to continue to happen. Look, courtesy toward those from whom you are asking work at their own expense (and attending cons is work and it's expensive too) is not much to ask. Courtesy and kindness costs nothing, damn it. I really wish we could learn the lessons here and move on. But apparently that isn't going to happen until things get drastic. That sucks.
And now today's video.
So, yesterday I saw a dude on Twitter posit whether or not the residents of Themyscira would be able to survive a fight with the Dora Milaje. (He said he was betting on the Dora Milaje.) I get it. Boys love nothing more than to grab up their action figures (dolls) and smash them together, and I'm sure that was all there was to it--consciously. However, there is a vast amount of social pressure on women to dress, act, and be something pleasant for men. And one of those things that first popped to mind when I read that was "mud wrestling." These inclinations being so prevalent in American society, combined with the Patriarchy's need to keep women divided has been a big issue throughout the Feminist Movement's history. It's why I was so disappointed when American Horror Story ventured into the witchy part of the forest. They did the right thing, bringing in Stevie Nicks. Absolutely. They did the right thing when they mentioned America's history of slavery, racism, and the problems around White Feminism--at least that's what I chose to believe it was doing. (It didn't do it very well, I must say.) What they did absolutely wrong was to make those things impossible obstacles. They aren't. And, in fact, solidarity with all womb-having and non-womb having people who identify as women no matter their race, history, financial background, able-ness, or belief systems is absolutely vital for Feminism's future. I firmly believe this. And that's why my response was: "I strongly suspect they wouldn't fight at all. In fact, they'd group up and form a battle formation against the Patriarchy. #sisters" Here's the deal: both groups' homelands are Patriarchy free. Both groups are fully aware that Patriarchy exists outside their homes. Both of those countries are heavily protected too. There is no way they'd fight. Both groups are far too smart and aware for that. I have similar feels re: the new Mary Queen of Scots series. First, Mary was raised in France not Scotland. Second, Mary and Elizabeth were never friends. They were two powerful women who were manipulated (one more than the other) by the men around them. I hate that such a interesting story has been reduced to a cat fight. Because, you know mud wrestling.
Okay. Now, today's videos:
There wasn't a post yesterday due to a minor routine medical procedure, involving full on anesthesia. (The test results were perfectly normal. No worries.) I decided since driving, signing legal documents, and drinking were off the table--maybe blogging should be too? It seemed wise. So, I took the day off. Thus, NEW IDEAS happened. This is a good thing.
Just before the procedure in question, a nurse anesthetist showed up. As it turned out he was, ironically enough, a Libertarian. (Of course, he was a white cis/het dude.) He gave me the standard post-anesthesia restrictions which led to Dane and I immediately joking about going out on an all-day booze fest, flying lessons, and selling/buying a house. The nurse looked a little serious. So, I stopped and said, "That's a joke. We don't own a house." He then decided it was time to go off on how that was a good thing because TAXES. ZOMG! TAXES! "You don't get anything in return!" I blinked and thought, You've got to be fucking kidding me. Right? In an instant, I realized he wasn't. Therefore, I returned with, "Oh, sure. Nothing at all. Because paved roads, libraries, support systems, and everything else are nothing." He said that everything I was talking about re: civilization was based upon faith in the system. "Yes," I said. "The only way civilization works is that we all agree on certain principles." He nodded. "Like law." I said, "Not murdering people is good. I think we can agree on that." And then he went off on hippies and how free loaders happen, and leaving the work for a few, and "The Prize must exist" and blah fucking blah. He had to leave the room before he completed his Gospel Of Ayn Rand™. And, unfortunately, before I had time to gently rip huge holes in his religion. But I tucked that discussion away in plastic wrap for later like a piece of insufficiently chewed gum. And my brain unwrapped it this morning.
Good morning, y'all. I hope your weekend was wonderful and restful because we've got a lot of work to do, and you are much needed. Ready for some inspiration? Let's go!
While searching the internet this morning I came upon a chart that listed Wonder Woman as one of the most influential Feminist events of last year. Here's the thing. If you're listing films and use Wonder Woman and neglect to list Black Panther, then you're not as Feminist as all that. Because Black Panther is, hands down, the most Feminist film I've ever seen--and the women weren't even the center of the story. Watch those two films back to back and you'll see what I mean. In Wonder Woman, Diana is running up against the usual misogyny and blocks to her power. The film isn't telling us anything new. It's merely portraying the day to day struggle of women everywhere. There is no big revelation--no new lessons learned. It's just the usual: "Hang tough there, little lady. Eventually, men will come around if you show them you can perform twice as good as they do." There's a reason I adored the first part of the film set on the Amazon island while the rest of the film left me a little cold, up until the Dead Man's Land push. That was real. That demonstrated the day to day struggle in terms that were hard to argue with. It illustrated the vehemence of the attacks women endure online. That felt like progress. Still, toxic masculinity was everywhere. Sure, it was mocked, but here's the deal: humans often use humor to demonstrate the working power dynamics. This frequently underlines those power structures instead of destroying them.
It wasn't until I saw Black Panther that I understood what Feminism really looked like. The women in that film truly were equals. They didn't have to prove shit. They weren't struggling. Women were thriving. And the best part was the whole country was thriving with them. There was no toxic masculinity to push against--except that which existed outside of Wakanda. It wasn't assumed that women were lesser. Every character who happened to be female had their own life outside of their relationship with men. They had agency. And every plot point didn't rest upon a man's choices. I adored that. It was like a bomb went off in my head. I saw Wonder Woman for what it was: an attempt to show progress but only so much progress. It only allows women to go so far and no farther. It was as if women were being told "Dream of your fight against Patriarchy, but never imagine a world without it." I learned a lot that day.
We need more imaginings of a world without Patriarchy. We need less about the struggle of living with it. The same is true of all the bigotry. We cannot create in reality what we cannot imagine. And that's the truth.
Look, if your job is to listen to the majority of the citizens over which you have power, and you refuse to listen during office hours (I know my representatives often have full mailboxes and no one answering the phones.) then you're leaving the people with no other option than to confront your ass during off-hours. This is how Americans react to burgeoning dictatorships. Get used to it. Also, perhaps you should stop blowing off 70% of the population that disagrees with your policies. Otherwise, this is the least of your worries. It goes nowhere good from here.
And now, today's links.
Last week, I got some happy news. In case you didn't see it on FB, I sold a second story this year. That's pretty great since I've only completed two stories in the past six months. I'm a very slow writer when it comes to non-novel length stories. I find that I need to know where the thing is headed and what it's really all about, and well, a lot of fumbling around results before I can discover those things. Yeah, being an organic writer is a pain in the ass sometimes. Nonetheless, my bar story (technically a novella), Second Verse, Same as the First, has a home in the Genius Loci anthology, and my mermaid story (technically a novelette), A Siren's Cry is a Song of Sorrow, will be published in the September issue of Apex Magazine. I'm thrilled to death for both. It's hard to get stories in magazines. There's a great deal of competition. I've been trying (on and off) for my whole career. (Novels are my natural story-telling length, and that has something to do with it.) Five novels later, though, I finally did it. I am super happy about that.
Never give up. :)
And now, some things I like. First, there's this series of Fantasy travel posters by artist, Chet Phillips. I love them. I can't decide between the Scotland with dragon or the England Cthulhu poster. Oh, who am I kidding? I'm probably going with the Cthulhu poster--not because I like Lovecraft. (I really, really don't.) But because I love Cthulhu pastiches, and that image pretty much sums up my feelings of lurking horror these days. He also does a series featuring SF films. Under the music category...well...I haven't done much venturing into new territory since most of the writing I've done since the first draft of Persephone Station is complete has had a strong nostalgic bent to it. So, have some old favorites.
Good morning, y'all. I hope you had a relaxing weekend and are energized for fighting through another week. Here are today's videos.
Regarding that second video: taking into consideration when those statues were erected, they were intended to show support of Jim Crow laws and during the second wave (in the '50s and '60s) the anti-civil rights campaign. And who gathered a majority of the funding to create these monuments? The Daughters of the Confederacy--that's right, white women. Yeah. Personally, I think John Oliver should've pointed that out. Just because you're part of a marginalized group doesn't mean you can't participate in the oppression of another marginalized group. Have doubts? Rewatch the first video. Okay. On to the links you came here for.
"There's this weird idea that whoever is calmest in an argument is clearly correct. As though no one has ever angrily screamed a fact, or calmly lied." -- Mishell Baker
On Wednesday, some pretty egregious news cropped up on my social media feeds. Everything from a Supreme Court Justice retiring (thus allowing for the least qualified man who has ever acted as president to select a second judge for the most powerful court in the US.) to reports of what's really going on in those immigration 'detention centers' aka prison camps. We also understand that the most unqualified, corrupt president the US has ever had is being given the opportunity to choose another supreme court judge. It's been a tough week to be an American. The United States is in a precarious position.
But hey, her fucking emails.
Yes. I'm angry. So is just about everyone with any common decency.
Anyway...on Wednesday night my husband reminded me that I can be angry one moment and then (once things are resolved) suddenly I'm just not anymore. He says it gives him (and others) whiplash sometimes. I've been thinking about this because most of the men I know are slow to anger and slow to recover from it. It occurred to me this morning that switching off my anger is not something that is natural to me. It isn't "just how I am." It's what I've been trained to be. I used to never get visibly angry. I internalized everything. Five years of therapy gave me permission to have my anger. However, it's only given me the right to have it the length of time it is useful. The instant this is no longer the case, I shut it off and process the rest internally. The men I know don't do this. They stay visibly angry until they've processed. There's a reason for this. They are allowed anger and have been their whole lives.
Here's the deal y'all: marginalized groups are not allowed anger. Anger is power. Anger is almost impossible to ignore. Anger is a catalyst for change. Therefore, only those in power are allowed outrage. There are two typical responses to a member of a marginalized group's rage: 1) mockery (awww. snowflake's feelings are hurt.) and 2) the overwhelming reaction to a dangerous threat that must be policed at all costs. There is no in between. This is why the call for civility is problematic. If those in power are not also called to be civil--if they are not including themselves in this behavior requirement, then the mandate is not about "going high". It's fucking silencing. Courtesy and respect is not a one way street. If you expect respect, you give respect. Americans are supposedly all about equality--at least they were the last time I checked the constitution.
 And if you don't understand why that's a problem let me direct you to the fact that not only is the Voting Rights Act in dire straits, but so are LGBT+ Rights as well as Roe v Wade.
 I'm pissed off with every white (mainly male) person who told me there was nothing to worry about in 2016, but not as angry as I am with those who couldn't be bothered to vote and/or voted third party.
 I generally do the remainder of the work at home and/or with my husband. He described my process as an earthquake. "The first blast is all over with, but you know there are going to be aftershocks." He knows me really well. The best part? He then asked me if I felt this process was helpful for me. And I feel it is. The deal is, anger can hurt just as much as it can create change, and I'm not interested in hurting other people. Get the thing that is wrong fixed? Oh, hells yes. Create more problems? No.
Good morning, y'all. I hope you had a restful weekend. I know I did. Shall we get started? All right, then. First, the videos.
People are arguing that these are just kids who don't really understand what's going on and that somehow their liberal parents are coercing their children to be transgender. That's complete transphobic bullshit.
Okay. So, the video names and shames quite a few movies I actually like. The fact that I like them doesn't change the fact that they're extremely problematic. (Although, in Knight and Day, the roles are, at the mid-point, reversed, and Red is obviously styling itself after a trashy spy Romance...but yeah. [sigh])
And now, those links.
The other day Dane and I went to see Solo, and one of the trailers they played before the movie started was this one:
I'll be the first to admit, I like action movies. I'm picky about them, however. I feel the less enlightened ones tend to glorify toxic masculinity. This film is no different. What is different is that this one triggered my "Why do white dudes think they're the exception to everything including gravity? Because the entire system tells them they are." thought bubble. I mean, in the first thirty seconds of that trailer Cruise's motorcycle is hit full speed by a car twice. He rolls down the pavement without a helmet. Miraculously, he doesn't hit his head--not even once. Thank gods for computer animation, right? Is he even dizzy after rolling fifty feet? Bruised? Scratched? Nope. Reality--even physics--has zero effect. That was when I got to thinking about the real cost of these kinds of stunts--the stunts that require greater and greater risk in order to give a bigger and bigger thrill. Where does that illusion lead? What does it say to the audience? What does it mean when we can't even name the people who make this illusion possible?
I thought about Jackie Chan, who, at the age of 57 said that he was retiring from the more dangerous stunts because he wasn't fast enough anymore. Speaking of Jackie Chan, here's a list of injuries he's accrued over time. (And that one is an old list. There are more.) That's a lot of damage for a human being to take. Long term, it can result in arthritis, cartilage loss, restricted movement, and pain. Of course, that's assuming one survives. He has hearing loss too. And here's the deal: he's Jackie Chan. He was compensated well for that. Stunt people don't necessarily get paid all that well. If you’re newer to the industry, you may only make $5,000 per year. Of course, most people will quote the high end when talking about industry jobs. However, on average a stuntman gets about $70,000 a year. And that's a stuntman. Stuntwomen make half that, remember.
Imagine the insurance premiums. Assuming they can get health insurance these days. They are independent contractors.
is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.