Open Thread: Kaleidoscope


Sticking a digital camera up to a kaleidoscope and zooming in until you get more color than obstruction isn't necessarily the best use of one's time, but it does have its rewards.

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead, give us something new to explore!

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And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Open Thread: Purple


First off, while most open threads a pretty much totally open, and recommends are for recommending anything.  That's not the case here, if you want to talk about Mad Max: Feminist Road use the thread that exists specifically for that purpose.

Originally I was going to do pollination but it occurred to me that a giant picture of a bee could be a bad idea, especially since I know at least one person who is allergic reads here.

So purple.  Some people say purple is a made up color.  That's obviously untrue, there's all kinds of purple.  Light purple, dark purple, pinkish purple, bluish purple, royal purple, purple cow.  Many types of purple.

What the people are talking about is that purple is not on the visual spectrum (which you can see via rainbows) but is on the color wheel.  The difference between the two is simple  The spectrum is a spectrum.  It's a line.  It doesn't loop around.  You may have heard ROYGBIV, named after the Famous Roy G. Biv, inventor of the eyeball.  That's a tangent though, the important thing is the visual spectrum: Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet (but blue-violet, not purple-violet.)

It seems like the color wheel, but while the wheel connects the two ends via purple, the spectrum keeps on going in both directions: infra red and ultra violet.  So where does the purple come from?

It comes from this:
The colors we can see occupy a three dimensional space (called a color space) and there are various ways to define it and such.  That's not important.  What is important is that you can't really draw it on a piece of paper.  So no color wheel if you stick with all possible colors.  But if you fix lightness (say halfway between washed out to pure white or dimmed to pure black) then they fit on a plane in a single closed shape, completely possible to draw and topologically equivalent to a circle,  and that's where we get the color wheel.  In the middle (ish) is completely desaturated gray, on the outer rim are colors that are totally saturated.  Most of that outer rim is the visual spectrum. Red to Orange to Yellow to Green to Blue to Indigo to Violet.  But since they don't connect, there's another part of the rim.  That part, the part that closes the loop, the fully saturated color that is not on the spectrum, is purple.

Purple isn't made up.  It's just the only color that attains full saturation without falling on the spectrum.  (Mind you if we had different eyes there would be a different visual spectrum and the connector would be somewhere else thus current purple wouldn't be full saturation.)

Anyway, that's today's discussion of color and flowers.  Now time for open thread.

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Saturday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead, give us something new to explore!

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And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Open Thread: Mad Max

MAD MAX: FEMINIST ROAD may be the best movie I've ever seen and I don't say that lightly. I've never been so invested in a movie before, never been so genuinely terrified for the characters, and oh my god there were so many women and so much Bechdel and so many moments. God. God. Wow. God.

It's a Mad Max movie, which means it's violent and triggery and I'm not saying go see it because it's definitely not for everyone but oh my god it was everything for me. The women. THE WOMEN WERE AMAZING.

I'm crying. I don't think a movie has ever affected me like this, and it's partly because on a very meta level, every movie should be like this: lots of female characters, full of personality and struggles and failings and moments of so many different kinds of bravery and cleverness and strength and oh my god. Oh my god.

Here is an open thread to talk about things. Spoilers abound!

Narnia: There Is No Son Sun

[Narnia Content Note: Rape, Misogyny, Religious Oppression]

Narnia Recap: The trio have been brought to an underground palace and are being entertained by the Black Knight.

The Silver Chair, Chapter 12: The Queen of Underland

I haven't updated in awhile because Real Life has been a bit busy, and for this I am sorry. Narnia is kind of a "sit down and think at things for awhile" task and a lot of times I just don't have a chunk of time between work, family, disability, and trying to write my next book. (Chapter 3 is done, yay!) But here we are staring down Chapter 12, and of course this is the chapter that we've all been waiting for because it contains the Puddleglum speech. *rolls up sleeves*

When we last left our heroes, they had freed Prince Rilian from the Silver Chair, and really they were only able to sit with him because the Queen / Witch / Green Snake Lady was far far away and not here. So naturally she's going to walk into the room five minutes too late. I can't remember if this is explained later, but I kind of don't care because this is something that ought to have been established in advance, like, "my lady is normally here to strap me in by now, but something must have delayed her! will you sit with me instead, etc."

   TWO EARTHMEN ENTERED, BUT INSTEAD of advancing into the room, they placed themselves one on each side of the door, and bowed deeply. They were followed immediately by the last person whom anyone had expected or wished to see: the Lady of the Green Kirtle, the Queen of Underland. She stood dead still in the doorway, and they could see her eyes moving as she took in the whole situation—the three strangers, the silver chair destroyed, and the Prince free, with his sword in his hand.

And, I mean, here again: she's the "last person" expected to see in this palace? Ooookaaaay. Then why is she here now? Anyway, I don't care except to point out that even as a child this felt very abrupt to me.

Recommends: Mallory on Many Waters

THIS.

I still plan to do these books someday, in my ongoing plan to ruin everyone's childhood, but in the meantime please enjoy these. Mallory is the best and The Toast is basically my personal version of heaven.

Recommends: More Susan Fic

Read this and cry. You have been warned.

"Elegant and Fine" is by the always-wonderful Ursula Vernon, and I think this is the best Susan fic I have ever read. It's beautiful and perfect and I sobbed for a good five minutes straight. This is now headcanon for me.

Open Thread: Sunset



Sunset tends to be difficult for me to get good pictures of.  My camera has a sunset mode (which I used) and I still needed to digitally screw around with the picture after the fact to get the colors closer to right.

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Saturday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead, give us something new to explore!

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And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Review: The Jezebel Effect

[CN: Self-Harm, Disablism]

The Jezebel Effect: Why the Slut Shaming of Famous Queens Still MattersThe Jezebel Effect: Why the Slut Shaming of Famous Queens Still Matters
by Kyra Cornelius Kramer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Jezebel Effect / 9781508666110

I feel guilty not finishing this book, because this is exactly the kind of book that I've been wishing for years that someone would write. I love popular history books about women: I've read pretty much everything Alison Weir has ever written, I've read about Marie Antoinette and Cleopatra and Hatchepsut, I've read Eleanor Herman's Sex with the Queen. I've read all these books about the lives of famous and powerful women, and I've been struck by how much slut-shaming these women have been subjected to. Anne Boleyn is, of course, one of the best examples: it seems almost unthinkable to me that she was cheating on Henry, but of course that was what she was charged with and people still make that case--and much of the time, it seems that the case for her supposed sexual shenanigans is based not on actual *facts* but simply that many of us don't like her. So I have been waiting for a book that comes forward and ties all this together, something that points out that the sexual shaming of powerful women is a thread that runs through our social history.

"The Jezebel Effect" starts strong, and I think the introduction may well be its strongest part. Kramer points out politicians of our time period who are routinely slut-shamed despite the fact that the criticisms against them have *nothing* to do with sexual escapades. All of this will be familiar to feminists who follow politics, and will probably do little to convince the hardliners, but might reach some of the middle-grounders who may be overwhelmed (as well they ought to be) by the sheer amount of slut-shaming that Kramer compiles. It's only when we leave the introduction that things start falling apart a little.

For one thing, this feels like a very long book. I see that the paperback is 412 pages; I had the Kindle version so I can't verify that, but the book feels very, very long. This is always a tricky spot with popular history books that try to provide lots of examples: do you spend one chapter per Person of Interest and end up missing much of the meat of your argument, or do you exhaustively document as much as you possibly can? Each person of interest spans multiple chapters, and it's frustrating (as you can see in the book preview) that none of the chapters are labeled: chapter one would more rightly be called "Introduction"; chapters 2-5 are about Jezebel (except that chapter 5 is also about social media suicides); chapters 6-10 are about Cleopatra; chapters 11-16 are Anne Boleyn; chapters 17-19 are Katherine Howard (and given that she is the Tudor wife with the least well-documented history, much of this feels padded and speculative); chapters 20-23 are Catherine the Great; and chapters 24, 25, and 26 wrap up some thoughts.

The lack of labels makes it difficult to skip over pieces the reader may care less about; there's definitely a point midway through chapter 4 where I felt like "ooookaaaay, we've made the case about Jezebel, can we move on please?" and then chapter 5 suddenly throws itself rather unexpectedly from Jezebel into harassment on modern social media (Facebook, Twitter) and deals with the suicides of several girls who were harassed. The effect feels jarring, unfocused, and poorly edited. This impression isn't helped by the sometimes "chatty" feel of the writing, which would make sense in a blog format but here just feels padded and too much. Quotes like "Since he was the preeminent scholar on this topic, I'm willing to believe him" (in referenced to a quoted source), or "I suspect Anne [Boleyn] got her famous charisma from her dad" feel out of place to me in a work that is trying to be scholarly and serious. There are asides like "This is slightly off topic..." that go on extensively about Julius Caesar's sexual proclivities, and it just feels disorganized. I kept wishing an editor had tightened the book up.

The other main problem that stood out at me is the scholarship itself. This is going to be a huge problem in *any* book that tries to cover multiple cultures and time periods. People devote years of their lives on the Tudors alone (and many of them don't agree on lots of the details), so any compilation album like this is going to struggle to keep up. That's part of the reason why compilation pieces like "Sex with the Queen" stick to shallow single-chapters rather than epic 3-4 chapters per person, because once you get into that level of detail, you're probably going to put your foot in. One thing that stood out in chapter 1 was when Kramer stated that Mary I "usurped the throne from the lawful queen, Jane Grey"; the idea that Jane Grey was the legal heir is a theory I have never been exposed to before, and I've read Tudor history for years. (It's strongly arguable that Jane Grey herself didn't think her reign was lawful!) Little details like these, which are sometimes not-cited and can feel jarringly-wrong seem to distract from the larger feminist points; the reader isn't thinking "yeah, it's noteworthy that for various reasons Mary I wasn't slut-shamed despite being far worse than other queens" but rather is going to be distracted by "wait, no, English legal history is complicated and I'm pretty sure that's a blatant over-simplification."

Later Anne Boleyn chapters go off on a tangent about Henry's cruelty being "medically" driven. I note here that the author has written a book on this topic ("Blood Will Tell: A Medical Explanation of the Tyranny of Henry VIII"). I don't really want to get into that theory deeply here, except that it strikes me as odd that a feminist book about how men slut-shame and kill women would have a divergent note trying to find a "medical "explanation" for why a man would slut-shame and kill a woman. The fishing-for-a-reason feels especially odd when placed side-by-side with discussion from Kramer about "honor killings", as if white men need to be disabled or broken in order to do things that men of color sometimes do. And again, this could just be my own Weir fanishness popping up, but I just don't think Henry needs a "medical explanation" for his bad behavior. To give Kramer her due, she does make a good point about how we call it "domestic violence" when American men kill women, but "honor killings" when South Asian and Middle Eastern men kill women, but all this dovetails badly (imo) with trying to medically justify Henry's behavior, and ties into a thread of disablism that made me uncomfortable as a reader. (Chapter 1 states that "Isabella I even paved the way for the Spanish Inquisition, which only lunatics think was a good idea," which I find an incredibly poor choice of words.)

Flaws of organization, writing style, and historical details aside, I do think this is a good book with good ideas. Kramer makes excellent points about how the wooing of Anne Boleyn has been framed (both at the time and to present day), explaining how easy it is to call a woman grasping and ambitious when she is in a situation with limited choices and where her "no, I said no" is not being accepted. Whether you agree on a personal level with this interpretation of Anne Boleyn or not, I think it is valuable for someone to make the point that we socially see a woman's "no" as conniving for a better bargaining position. The fact that we think that way at all is a problem that we need to address.

I do tentatively recommend this book. It is a sprawling epic with a lot of flaws, but *any* such epic look at trying to tie together the slut-shaming of half a dozen queens would have had many of these same flaws; I view the flaws as inevitable considering the scope of the material. I do wish that an editor had been employed to strike out the more "bloggy" conversational style at times, I wish there was better organization of the material, I wish the chapters had been labeled, I wish the huge block-quotes of sources had been trimmed down and paraphrased (the Cleopatra chapters are particularly egregious of this, quoting Plutarch in bulk), I wish the minor-and-sometimes-debatable historical details had been vetted better or in some cases left out as immaterial distractions to the main point, I wish that the author had a stronger background in avoiding disablist language and themes (like seeking "medical explanations" for cruelty, as if sane and healthy men are not cruel to women all the time). But I do admire the intent behind the work and the point being made here. For the Kindle price, it's a steal and I recommend picking it up, and I wish the author all the best in her future efforts.

~ Ana Mardoll

Feminism: This Song Is Everything


Lyrics.
Amazon.

What could I possibly say to add to this?

Review: The Scarlet Letter (Manga Classics)

Manga Classics: The Scarlet LetterManga Classics: The Scarlet Letter
by Stacy King

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Scarlet Letter (Manga Classics) / 978-1927925331

I've been a fan of Hawthorne since college, but I'll be the first to admit that his prose can be pretty heavy to wade through in parts. I've been wanting to re-read Scarlet Letter for years but it's just not something that I can sink easily into after a long day. So when a review copy of this book came available on NetGalley, I snapped it up as fast as I could, and ended up reading it in a single sitting that day.

First of all, the artwork in this manga is gorgeous. The book is fully black-and-white (which is my one complaint; the color cover is just stunning) and the rendering of the faces is incredible and evocative. Each character is rendered uniquely and is recognizable to me, which is always a big plus for graphic novels. The scenery shots, too, are gorgeous and there is no skimping on detail. Seriously, I would recommend picking this up based on the art alone.

Regarding the adaptation of the story: I love it. I haven't read Scarlet Letter in years, so there might be some details that I've missed, but this feels like a very faithful adaptation of the original. In some ways I almost like this adaptation better; I found Pearl and Dimmesdale to both be much more sympathetic here than I did in Hawthorne's novel, I think in part because of the emotive expressions rendered through the artwork. When Pearl is throwing flowers at the badge, for instance, she genuinely looks like a small child playing a game rather than a fae creature tormenting her mother (as Hawthorne was sometimes wont to render her). The added visualization made the story feel more real.

My only other real criticism of this is that I wish the publisher would make a kindle version; other manga series have done well in electronic form, so why not these? I hope they expand that as an option in the future.

NOTE: This review is based on a free electronic Advance Review Copy of this book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

~ Ana Mardoll

Feminism: Wisconsin SNAP Bill

Storify embedded below.

Open Thread: Orange


Orange is my favorite color.  Fun fact: the color was named after the fruit, not the other way around.
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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead, give us something new to explore!

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And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Open Thread: Trees and Water


Picture from Vermont, two years and a month ago.

[Added] In response to a question in the comments, the picture is taken from where Woodstock Road (US Route 4) crosses the Ottauquechee River.  This is called the Quechee Gorge.

The reason the picture is in this direction is that on the other side of the bridge the river is more bendy, which makes it hard to get a picture that really captures it.  You really have to be there to get a sense of it.  On this side, the river continues straight until the gorge is replaced by flatter land. [/Added]

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead, give us something new to explore!

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And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Open Thread: Spring


Nothing signifies that spring has taken hold quite as well as pink petals emerging around the litter that's become trapped in urban trees.  Or something like that.  It seemed like it would make a decent open thread picture when I took it yesterday.

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead, give us something new to explore!

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And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Narnia: But Soft, a Padding Wooly Tread

[Narnia Content Note: Misogyny, Ableism, References to mental illness, My personal soapbox re: the planetary interpretation of Narnia and why I feel like it minimizes the rampant sexism and racism]

Narnia Recap: The trio have been brought to an underground palace and are being entertained by the Black Knight.

The Silver Chair, Chapter 11: In The Dark Castle

I find it odd, and with no sense of whether or not we are supposed to find it odd, that no name is given for the Black Knight until he turns out to be Prince Rilian. I went back to the previous chapter to check, and he greets the trio and then says, essentially, "hey, I know you!" and Jill says, "oh, were you the black knight who never spoke" and he says "yeppers" and they go on from there. They don't ask his name. I don't think he asks their names. They just sit down to eat dinner and he tells them his life story and the narrative calls him "the Knight" over and over and wow does this seem really strained and unnatural.

I suppose this is because Lewis couldn't be bothered to come up with a fake name that he wasn't planning to use for more than a few pages, but this has the effect of making the protagonist trio seem even more incurious and rude than before. They mentioned looking for a "Rilian" and the knight said "nope, never heard of 'im" and that was apparently it for them. There's absolutely no attempt to connect with this man who may well hold the power of life and death over them. There's certainly very little nod to the fact that humans are supposedly pretty rare in Narnia (the Animals outnumbered the Humans in the boat-departure scene) and that they are looking for a human man the size and shape and age and build of exactly this guy.

Let's Play: Papers, Please

Let's Play Papers Please by Lucas Pope!

Lucas Pope: http://dukope.com/
Papers Please: http://papersplea.se/

Game content copyright Lucas Pope and shared here with permission. Commentary content copyright Ana Mardoll.

YouTube video below the cut.

Open Thread: Flower


For some reason I thought that "Focus" was last week instead of two weeks ago and, thinking thus, thought it might be nice to have a flower that was in focus this time around.

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead, give us something new to explore!

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And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Recommends: Cute Demon Crashers

[Note: Links are Not Safe For Work.]

Hat-tip Amy Dentata.

You guys. This visual novel game, Cute Demon Crashers, is literally the most adorable thing ever. It's super short and only two of the four "romances" work (it's a NaNoRenO game, and unfinished) but it is VERY consent-friendly and also has an option for dyslexia-friendly text. The sex scenes are all about consent and communication and there is a stop-at-any-time button, I just.

I'm crying. From happy, but crying. It's... it's not even the game, even. Just. Seeing something, anything, take consent this seriously. It's just amazing. This shouldn't be unusual or special, but it is.

Let's Play: The Royal Trap

Let's Play The Royal Trap by Hanako Games!

Note that this is a very ~SPOILERY~ playthrough. There is commentary feels about game content, game title, and song lyrics.

YouTube video below the cut, along with spoilery content notes.

Let's Play: Five Night's at Freddy's (Night 2)

Five Nights at Freddy's by Scott Cawthon!

My second (and almost certainly last!) attempt at Five Nights at Freddy's. You guys, this game is terrifying.

YouTube video below the cut.

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