Buffy: Gingerbread Redux

So I forgot to to mention it at the time, and if I go back and put it in a comment it will just get buried under all the Google tomfoolery, so I will just take a moment to note here that my favorite part of Gingerbread was that our first mention -- as far as I can tell -- of the Patriarchy in the Very Feminist Show Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a comment about Mr. Rodgers from an ivory-tower, abusively-disconnected, psychologist mother who is ignoring her daughter. (Right before stringing her up and setting her on fire.)

Willow: Mom, how would you know what I can do? I mean, the last time we had a conversation over three minutes, it was about the patriarchal bias of the Mr. Rogers Show.

Sheila: Well, (makes finger quotes) with King Friday lording it over all the lesser puppets...

Haha, that is really awesome! People have been telling me for years that Joss Whedon television franchises speak the feminist lingo, and they were totally right! And it was very clever and subversive and original to put that lingo (or "lingo", with the finger quotes, as you kids like to call it) in the mouth of an obviously villainous mother who has utterly failed to have any kind of connection with her children! Great! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

As an open thread prompt: What shows can you think of where feminist language has been used by unsympathetic characters and/or sympathetic characters have explicitly disavowed being feminists?

Metapost: Current Comments

Disqus is trying really, really hard to sync the Disqus comments with the Blogger feed that the Current Comments widget gobbles. Google is making this difficult because Google hates you. (Yes, you.) So Current Comments will be buggy until Google decides you're alright after all. Sorry about that.

Buffy: Helpless

[Content Note: Drugging]

The best part about last night's Buffy was when Giles hypnotized her and stuck drugs in her arm after it has been established that she is weakened and losing her powers, because this is the conversation we had:

Husband: It was really only a matter of time before Giles turned out to be evil, huh?

Ana: No! No, he's injecting her with something that will help. This will be like that one scene in The Hunger Games where it's all controversial because Katniss' heart was in the right place but drugging people is still a breach of trust. You'll see.

...time passes...

Ana: ..........fuck.

...time passes...

Husband: So do you think this will last longer than one episode, like when Buffy left home?

Ana: Seems like she'd have the upper hand in this relationship with the Watcher Council, you know? There's really only one of her, if you don't count Faith, and she's the one doing all the heavy lifting.

Husband: I'm going to go work on the computer now.

Ana: Oh look! The next episode is a XANDER episode! It's like Christmas came early!

Husband: BYE.

Twilight: Erasure of Self

[Content Note: Fetishization of Virginity]

Twilight Summary: In Chapter 12, Bella and Edward's relationship is observed by Billy Black and Bella worries that Billy may inform her father Charlie. Later, Edward and Bella spend the weekend alone together in the woods.

Twilight, Chapter 12: Balancing

DID YOU MISS TWILIGHT?

I kind of did, actually. I apologize for the long delay; it just sort of seemed like I could either press through Prince Caspian and get that sucker knocked out or work on Twilight, but it didn't seem like I could do both at once. (Which, yeah, you haven't seen all the Caspian posts yet, but they're at least written now.) And, gonna be honest here, the Narnia posts get more comments and I am a drama queen like that. Maybe we need more random chatter in the Twilight threads. I hereby demand more random chatter!!

Musings: Halloween Costumes

Please not that this exists. (Please also note this.)

My favorite has to be the original and redraw of the watermelon costume.

Are you dressing up for Halloween? And how do you feel about the sexification of costumes?

Open Threads are meant to foster chatty fun, and hopefully continue throughout the week until the next one. Please feel free to talk about whatever you like, and do share any links you've written or have read and found interesting and worthy of note.

Narnia: Veterans of Foreign Narnia

[Content Note: Racism, Amputation]

Narnia Recap: The Telmarines have surrendered to the Narnias.

Prince Caspian, Chapter 15: Aslan Makes a Door In The Air

   AT THE SIGHT OF ASLAN THE CHEEKS OF the Telmarine soldiers became the color of cold gravy, their knees knocked together, and many fell on their faces. They had not believed in lions and this made their fear greater. Even the Red Dwarfs, who knew that he came as a friend, stood with open mouths and could not speak. Some of the Black Dwarfs, who had been of Nikabrik's party, began to edge away. But all the Talking Beasts surged round the Lion, with purrs and grunts and squeaks and whinnies of delight, fawning on him with their tails, rubbing against him, touching him reverently with their noses and going to and fro under his body and between his legs. If you have ever seen a little cat loving a big dog whom it knows and trusts, you will have a pretty good picture of their behavior. Then Peter, leading Caspian, forced his way through the crowd of animals.

Metapost: Leave of Absence

I'm taking tomorrow off, and possibly the rest of the week, because it's finally hit me tonight how shaken up I am about this whole thing with my niece. Which is pretty much in line with how I fall to pieces after crises pass, except not because I realized tonight that if my sister threw my niece out once, there's nothing really stopping her from doing it again. And all this has brought up some stuff about me being homeless in a very similar situation twelve years ago, and though I thought I'd dealt with all that, I clearly haven't, based on the fact that I just inappropriately snapped at a valued commenter in a completely random -- and yet unexpectedly related to all this -- thread.

I've sent an email apologizing to the commenter -- and am also noting here and now that I acted like a jackwagon, for which I am heartily ashamed -- and I think I need to step away from life for a day or two and curl up in a ball and wrestle with some demons. Because I really, really, really do not know right now how to deal with my sister (with whom I am furious), or my niece (for whom I am terrified), or my parents (emotions so complex there are no words), all of whom I will be seeing in a few weeks for Early Family Christmas. And I really, really, really do not know right now how to deal with issues that I thought were tightly buried down and which are now bubbling up to the surface when I least expect it.

So I'm taking tomorrow (and possibly the rest of the week) off, by which I mean I'll be monitoring comments for trolls and spam like always, but probably not commenting. We're posted through with a Narnia post and something else (I can't remember at the moment), and I think I have a pending post on Slacktiverse, so if anyone really needs a response to a comment or question and I've failed to respond, ping me with an email and I'll try to respond as soon as I can.

My apologies, both in the general and the particular.

Metapost: Trolls

I wasn't going to make an announcement about this, since I do try to keep the metaposts to a minimum, but some of you will have noticed that I'm now a moderator at Shakesville. This is pretty much a dream come true for me, because it's like being a moderator for a field of unicorns drunk on the joy of baby burps and tickly cat tails, but...

...it also means that we may be getting some troll influx when people we ban over there for trollishness follow my Disqus profile back to this board. Trolls are fun like that. Since I'm pretty swingy with the banhammer, I don't expect any of them to stay long, but if anyone is wondering why troll got spilled all over the board, well, that's why. 

Buffy: Freebird (by Special Request)

[Content Note: Abusive Parenting, Homelessness]

Given my searing, all-consuming hatred of Joyce Summers, several of you have asked me to do a post on Gingerbread when Husband and I got to it in the course of our Buffy-watching. We have now done so, and I find myself sitting here at a loss for what to say.

Chances are, if you like Joyce Summers, you're not going to agree with anything I say here. I respect that, I really do. Gods know I am intimately familiar with how a fictional character can be viewed very, very differently depending on who is doing the viewing. I'm almost tempted to opine that fictional characters are like Rorschach tests, and that whether we see a crab or a spider or a butterfly or a bat says less about the source material than it does about what we bring to it. (I say "almost" because as much as I like the poetry of the idea, I can't back it up with facts or anything.)

Open Thread: Of Course

Just a quick reminder.

Unarmored:


Armored:


Explanation:


You may now go back to what you were doing.

Fat Acceptance: White, Thin, Hairless, Naked

[Content Note: Body Modification, Fat Phobia, Hair Removal, Beauty Expectations]

I use Groupon and, for the most part, I like the service. I've had a chance to eat at restaurants I otherwise couldn't afford, I've been able to go to IMAX shows that I otherwise might not have seen, and I recently got a National Geographic Blu-ray movie for free which is obviously a major score. What I'm saying is, the service has added value to my life.

Recommends: The Difference

Thank you.

Here’s the difference. And pay attention, because while it is not a particularly complex concept, some people just can’t seem to wrap their heads around it.

Say that my entire family is eaten by wolves. In my grief, I insist, “I’m not grieving, I’m happy, because it’s all part of God’s plan. The Lord wanted this to happen. My family is in heaven now, eating ice cream.”

Everyone nods, no decent person would argue. It’s my right to spin my tragedy however I like, however brings me solace.

Now change the premise. My family is fine. The wolves rush past them to your family and eats your family instead. While you are grieving, I stroll over, drape my arm around your shoulder and say, “Don’t grieve. Be happy, because it’s part of God’s plan. The Lord wanted this to happen. Your family is in heaven now, eating ice cream.”

I’m a jerk to say that, right? Because I’m using my religious outlook to dismiss the tragedy that has torn your life apart. It’s not my place. We have the right to interpret the universe in a way that makes sense to us. What we don’t have a right to do is expect — never mind demand — that other people share our worldview.

Open Thread: Your Friendly Neighborhood Voting Guide

[Content Note: Rape]

Today I went to the local community center where the early voting is held and cast my ballot. (Or, possibly, my ovaries did. Or maybe not.)

Because I'm bad with linking names with details -- Bob Johnson supports this, but John Bobson supports that -- I usually vote straight-ticket in favor of the parties who piss me off the least. Here is my voting guide, which you are all welcome to snag while it's hot:

  1. Vote Democrat. 
  2. If no Democrat option, vote Green. 
  3. If no Democrat or Green option, vote for whichever Republican / Libertarian option sounds like a woman or a person of color.
  4. If no Democrat or Green option, and no Republican / Libertarian candidate with name that sounds like a woman or person of color, skip while silently cursing to self.

That last option, Number 4, is frustratingly common in Texas -- or at least in my area of Texas.

Voting makes me sad. I only very rarely feel that I go to vote for someone, and even when I did feel that way, I went with the knowledge that my state is so red that my vote only barely matters. Furthermore, the people I end up casting my ballot for -- if they do win -- more often than not disappoint me for failing to be as liberal as I want and need them to be. In the year 2012, we have honest-to-god politicians still suggesting that babies from rape is God's way of telling a special lady that she's special. I don't even know how to express my contempt that I live in a country where saying such a thing doesn't immediately guarantee an end to one's political career. And yet here we are.

I voted today. But I'm not happy about it. 

Deals: Books You Might Care About

The following books are part of this month's Kindle "Under $3.99 Sale".


ZOMBIE
A zombie book by Joyce Carol Oates is pretty much guaranteed to be awesome.
ETA: Does not contain actual zombies. :(
(Also on sale at B&N.)


THE WORST CASE SCENARIO SURVIVAL HANDBOOK
Because you never know when you might need to wrestle an alligator.


WHY HAVE KIDS?
I won't be getting this for self-evident reasons, but Valenti is a feminist and I've heard good things about the book.


THE GIFT OF FEAR
Several of you have recommended this, so I bought it.


AMERICAN GODS
I have mixed feelings about Gaiman, but here's one of his most popular books.


SETTLERS OF CATAN
Sure, you love the board game. But don't you want to read the book inspired by the board game?

Narnia: Narnian Girls, Telmarine Boys

[Content Note: Genocide, Appropriation, Violence Against Children, Unwilling Body Transformation]

Narnia Recap: Miraz has been murdered by his advisers, and Peter and the Narnians are being attacked by the Telmarine army. 

Prince Caspian, Chapter 14: How All Were Very Busy

   And then imagine that the wood, instead of being fixed to one place, was rushing at you; and was no longer trees but huge people; yet still like trees because their long arms waved like branches and their heads tossed and leaves fell round them in showers. It was like that for the Telmarines. It was a little alarming even for the Narnians. In a few minutes all Miraz's followers were running down to the Great River in the hope of crossing the bridge to the town of Beruna and there defending themselves behind ramparts and closed gates.
   They reached the river, but there was no bridge. It had disappeared since yesterday. Then utter panic and horror fell upon them and they all surrendered.

Buffy: Twitter Feed

Because you don't all follow me on Twitter, here is a Buffy-filled Twitter stream for your viewing pleasure. (This is just like any other post, but without actual content! And you can reply to the tweets with more than 140 characters.) Consider this a very poor apology for me being AFK today.

Homecoming






Band Candy





Revelations










Lovers Walk



The Wish


Metapost: Away From Keyboard

[Content Note: Homophobia, Homelessness]

I'm having a touch of a family emergency on my end; folks who follow the Shakesville Open Threads and Slacktiverse Posts have already pieced together the situation more than I have time to go into now, but the short version is that my teenage lesbian niece is essentially homeless right now and I'm going to be AFK periodically through the rest of the week while we try to grapple with this. Which means that direct questions, comments, concerns, and emails will stew in my inbox until I have a chance to dig myself back out of the hole.

Please continue to comment as usual (getting the comments on my phone makes me happy) and thank you to everyone who embuddied me on NaNo -- I'll accept your friend requests just as soon as I can because ZOMG FRIENDS.

Religious prayers and/or secular happy thoughts on behalf of my niece at this time -- and for her-mother-my-sister, because the situation is apparently a lot more complicated than I originally realized -- are very welcome on ya'll's end.

Open Thread: NaNoWriMo 2012

Your NaNoWriMo open thread this week. (Probably more will follow.)

Metapost: Blogger Update, Part 3

I'm pretty certain (though I am on my work computer, so there may be something going on there that I need to recheck at home, but work computer was working just fine last week) that Google Blogger has changed the field names in the Blogger Interface again, thereby breaking the Stylish/StyleBot changes again.

If anyone wants to get a head-start on re-skinning the interface again, I'd much appreciate it, otherwise I'm going to have to sort this out when I get home tonight.

(Dear Google: Fuck you and your continued hostility to people with visual/information processing disorders. You are evil.)

Monday Musings: How To Communicate With Writers

This amused me.

On the one hand, authors/poets/screenwriters/etc. are routinely villainized and bullied as being 'too sensitive' and needing too much ego-stroking. And I think that's a point of view that neglects to realize how vulnerable-making it can be to spend a full year-or-more on something like a novel and then place it out there for the rest o the world to pass judgment on it. That sort of thing could make just about anyone 'sensitive', given the right circumstances.

But! I still thought this was funny, in a sweetly tongue-in-cheek kind of way because, yes, it would be lovely to hear that everything in creation has been leading up to whatever I most recently finished. LOL.


What compliment would you like to receive on your latest work of artistry and/or effort?

Monday Musings are meant to open the week with chatty fun, and hopefully continue throughout the week until the next one. Please feel free to talk about whatever you like, and do share any links you've written or have read and found interesting and worthy of note. If this is your first time at Monday Musings, you really should say 'hi' so that we can give you lurker cookies! Thank you.

Self-Promotion: Only, Not

A blog-wide request: Please do not create "book records" of my blog-to-book downloads on library sites such as GoodReads. Someone has done this with my Lion-Witch-Wardrobe compilation, and I apparently have to contact GoodReads support and beg them to take down the listing and it's all very inconvenient and unpleasant. So I has a sad this Sunday because of all this.

My blog-to-book deconstructions are unpublished for a reason (and it's not because I'm lazy or can't afford the ISBN numbers). There's a lot of quoted material on my blog, and I feel there's a major difference between posting that material in a blog form (or as a download-of-the-site for people with spotty internet connection) versus publishing the whole kit-and-kaboodle as an honest-to-goodness "book".

In the meantime if there are any GoodReads Super-Librarians in the audience who could do me the honor of deleting the record, I would greatly appreciate it as it beats my scattershot method of randomly contacting total strangers who have "Super Librarian" under their name while waiting for GoodReads to write me back. *sigh*

Update: In my experience, these things usually devolve into huge and emotional derails about Fair Use across various countries, the legality of fan-fiction, and/or the fact that just about anybody can bring suit for just about anything in the U.S.A. Because I do not wish to re-justify my request further in the comments, I have closed this post for discussion. 

If the GoodReads people get back to me that merely having the compilation available for download constitutes "publishing", then I will most likely feel moved to remove the download links from the blog entirely. If that happens, I will note that in this post as a comment.

Buffy: A Picture of Abuse

[Content Note: Emotional Abuse, Misogynistic Language, Violence]

So let's talk about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And when I say Buffy the Vampire Slayer, specifically I mean Season 3, Episode 2, "Dead Man's Party", aka the most enraging episode of anything I have ever seen ever since I quit watching Everyone Loves Raymond. And with that little tie-in mention, it should be clear that we're talking about abusive friends and family.

For a recap of this show and my initial feelings about it, see here. Today we're going to line-by-line the transcript. BECAUSE IT'S MY BLOG AND I CAN, THAT'S WHY. Credit for the transcript goes here. (Note the irony that the transcriptionist is apparently a Xander fan. Note also that this is proof that Xander fans are not horrible people and are in fact capable of soaring acts of kindness and self-sacrifice. Thank you, kind transcriptionist, for providing captions for hearing-impaired people that Amazon streaming video does not.)

Open Thread: Vampire Tarot

This has absolutely nothing to do with Twilight, but I thought this was a very pretty vampire tarot that deserved to be shared. (Though I feel like you can't tell, minus the card titles, what the card is. So there's that.)

Open Thread Ideas: What vampire merchandise (both serious and spoofing) have you found to be pleasing in your sight? 

Feminism: Oscar and Weather Girl

[Content Note: Body Policing, Fat Phobia]

This is your regularly scheduled reminder that women should be skinny and sexy at all times in order to be considered normal and non-aberrant. Women should also make sure they always are standing on their toes, and should additionally not expect to have names.

Feminism: Lies, Damn Lies, and Mansplaining

[Content Note: Rape Culture, Swearing]

The greatest blog post ever written on the internet is, of course, Phaedra Starling's Schrodinger's Rapist. (At least in my opinion. As with all words that I write.)

It's a lovely post, and I love every word of it. I don't fully agree with every aspect of it -- lately I've been tending to the side of You Do Not Have The Right To Impose Your Words On Me, Period, And Especially Not To Inform Me (No Matter How Politely) That You Think I'm Fuckable, which means that even the merest suggestion that it's alright to say Hi to the cute girl trying to memorize Beowulf on the subway is not something that I'm particularly open to right now. But my minor quibbles of framing do nothing to take away from the Roaring Lion of Awesome that is this post. Good post, pretty post.

Twilight: The Open Thread Fix

An open thread for the Twilight people, because I've been falling down on the deconstruction job lately.

Random thoughts from Ana's brain:

1. I am so very excited that Breaking Dawn part 2 is coming soon. I am saddened, though, that I will probably have to wait a bit to see it, since I want to live-tweet the movie as I see it (unfiltered reactionary action!) and I don't want to ruin it for the other people with my bright phone.

2. I have had to recalibrate my Emotional Abuse Meter after having seen Buffy and read Cirque du Freak recently. Charlie, for all his issues, does not actually throw Bella from the house or yell at her when she's trying to talk. Edward, for all his issues, has not actually drugged Bella against her wishes as part of a complex trap that may or may not result in her death. Jacob, for all his issues, does not use language that suggests Bella is an sex object instead of a person, nor does he take every conversation ever as an opportunity to police her love life. If you'd told me two years ago that I'd be saying Twilight was less abusive than something else relatively mainstream (one of which is regularly held up as a Feminist Icon), I would have laughed in your face.

3. Pursuant to #2, I have recently been thinking more and more about WHY Twilight is so ridiculously popular among young women. I still think Twilight has toxic themes of abuse, racism, horribleness, etc. I still think that despite a few gleaming gems of feminism here and there in the series, the overall property is problematic in the extreme when viewed as a net bundle. But there's also the nagging problem that Bella Swan -- Bella freaking Swan -- has more agency in her story than several of the things I have seen and watched and read recently. Which (a) makes me sad at how far we have to come but (b) makes me think that maybe all those teenage Twihards that are so much fun to sneer at with Obvious Superiority maybe, just possibly maybe, might have been coming for the few glittering gems as much as they were for Edward.

THOUGHTS?

Metapost: Tag Cleanup

This is Blog Maintenance Month, which means I need to make some behind the scenes changes. I'll be cleaning up the indexes, and adding index posts for Little House and Buffy. I'll also be making some changes in some older posts to reflect the tagging.

This will probably cause the recent posts widget to burn out and start recommending old stuff for your reading pleasure; I apologize in advance for technical gremlins of that sort.

Randomly, please note that the next two weeks are pre-published with things, only one of which is Narnia related (but it's a good one) and non of which are Twilight related, which means I'm falling down on the deconstruction job in many respects. I hope to rectify this soon with a new Twilight post, and if nothing else we'll have Breaking Dawn Part 2 to talk about soon, so there's that.

Buffy: Your Fiercely Rambling Buffy Update

[Content Note: Buffy Spoilers, Thoughts of Violence, Copious Swearing]

Recap: Buffy had to kill her boyfriend in order to save the world. Then she ran away for the summer because her mother threw her out, she was expelled from school, and she is suffering from having the worst job ever. Then she came home. This episode was about her family and friends yelling at her. Really.

There is no god, and proof of this is in the fact that Joyce, Xander, Cordelia, and Willow all inexplicably survived to the end of Dead Man's Party, despite all four being very clearly the Big Bad for the episode. Nor were they apparently exorcised of the Asshole Demons infesting their human forms. I am puzzled and frustrated by this apparent departure from the Demon Slaying format of the show. At least when Angel was on the team, he had a soul. These people? Do not.

OH MY GOD, DIE YOU HORRIBLE TROLL PEOPLE. 

Open Thread: Product Placement

[Content Note: (Teasing) Food Policing]

I have been eating Spaghettios (With Meatballs!) every day at lunch for the past 5 years of gainful employment.  My coworkers, when they have noticed this, believe the food to be inherently childish and not appropriate for seasoned adults. (But mostly in a nice, teasing way.)

Last night, Season 3 Episode 1 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer ("Anne") revealed that Buffy Summers eats Spaghettios (With Meatballs!). Clearly the implications are obvious: I am a vampire slayer.

What product placement in books/films/etc. has resonated with you in the past?

Monday Musings: The Saintification of YA Authors

I've been noticing a trend online that I don't understand. If I had a dollar for every time someone has breathily spoken of J.K. Rowling or S. Meyer or similar YA authors as having done a tremendous public service for having gotten young adults to read, I'd have quite a few dollars at my disposal now.

Why is this? I'm not disputing that their series have sold well, and I generally think that young adult reading is a decent thing (in general, it depends on what is being read and the young adult in question and stuff like this is complicated and individual circumstances matter), so yay, but writers ... write. It's what they/we do, and while I think it's a valuable service to society, I don't imagine that most of them/us ply their/our trade purely and simply to encourage literacy, forsaking all other worldly considerations.

What interests me, though, is that I only see this with YA authors. I have never seen anyone speak in reverent tones about how John Grisham should be especially honored (and implicitly immune from criticism) for having gotten adults to read. Which is interesting, because John Grisham did start my mother reading, so the statement would be as factually true as it would be about various YA authors. (And while I think reading has been entirely beneficial to my mother, I don't imagine society indebted to John Grisham for it.)

Why is this? I'm curious as to what you think.

Monday Musings are meant to open the week with chatty fun, and hopefully continue throughout the week until the next one. Please feel free to talk about whatever you like, and do share any links you've written or have read and found interesting and worthy of note. If this is your first time at Monday Musings, you really should say 'hi' so that we can give you lurker cookies! Thank you.

Tropes: Darren Shan, Dangerous Extremist

[Content Note: Drugging, Violence, Reference to Infertility, Ableist Language]

One of these days I'm going to get back to writing nice things so that you all don't stop following me Because Negative, but today is not that day. My only excuse is that annoyance, irritation, and blind searing hatred for random things is more motivating for me to write about than happiness and yummies. (This is probably why my forays into journaling never work.)

Recommends: Escher Girls FOREVER

Here is your weekly round-up of Escher Girls stuff. All links are probably NSFW.

Sexy redraw that is actually sexy, along with interesting words. Lots of them!

Gender-swap redesign pointing out that the sexualization of women in comics isn't the same as the sexualization of men.

DC Comics: Bad At Math. Burn!

Talk about these things! Or don't. Up to you.

Film Corner: Looper, A Review In Tweets

[Content Note: Looper Spoilers]


And here is my final word for tonight:

If every single one of your plot-holes is going to be filled after the fact with the statement That's Just How Time Travel Works, then you need to say that in the actual work itself. It's not the viewer's job to go googling after the fact. Because if they do google after the fact and that's all they receive by way of an excuse, they're not going to go aaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhgotitthx. They're going to call your plot-hole excuse out as malarkey, because they're justifiably bitter about going to all the trouble to google what should have been ten seconds of in-work technobabble.

Feminism: Why Do You Care?

[Content Note: Anxiety, Religion, Parenting, Sexism, Bullying, Rape, Violence]

An Emoter's Story

Ever since I was a small child, I've been seized with bouts of anxiety and trepidation based on the fact that someone, somewhere, very possibly doesn't like me. Maybe they don't like how I look. Maybe they don't like how I act. Maybe they don't like who I am or how I think. Maybe they just really, really strongly disagree with my opinions. But they don't like me and they're angry with me and oh my god, here comes the vomiting and the stomach cramps.

Deals: Tolkien On Tape

After waiting FOREVER, Tolkien's books are now available in unabridged form for digital download (previously, you could only get them in a giant horking set of CDs).

Audible
iTunes

Narnia: Honor Before Efficacy

[Content Note: Bullying, Violence]

Narnia Recap: Peter and Miraz are going to fight to the death in a winner-take-all extravaganza event.

Prince Caspian, Chapter 14: How All Were Very Busy

Hello, everybody! Are you all excited to see that this book is still not finished? Are you maintaining MAXIMUM ENTHUSIASM for Prince Caspian? I know I am! I am so enthusiastic about Prince Caspian that at least four times this week I have thought, "You know, I need to finish those Prince Caspian posts," only to suddenly remember that I needed to wash the car or re-catalog the library or plan our vacation for next year or anything other than writing about Prince Caspian.

Monday Musings: Too Many Movies

[Content Note: Spoilers for Man On A Ledge]

So this conversation happened a few nights ago during a movie.

Author Interview: Guy Harrison on "Agents of Change"

Ana: Today we have Guy Harrison introducing their book, Agents of Change. I haven't read this book myself, but Guy was kind enough to agree to guest blog about their book to any readers who might be interested in the subject. Guy, how would you describe your book to your prospective readers? In broad terms, what is your book about?

Guy: Well, in short, Agents of Change has been best described as espionage with a twist. In much broader terms, it's an action/suspense/thriller with a dash of science fiction.

The story's protagonist, Calvin Newsome, is, figuratively and literally, one of the good guys. He never hesitates to go out of his way to motivate people into doing things that improve themselves and the people closest to them. Unfortunately for Calvin, he's stuck in a career he doesn't love; he feels there must be more to life than worrying about money in order to make money.

The Agency of Influence offers Calvin an opportunity to truly make a difference. The organization's agents are imbued with the powers of shapeshifting and telekinesis, and are charged with improving our society, one despondent person at a time. The Agency of Influence also has a rival organization, the Agency of Justice, which essentially serves an antithetic, yet well-meaning, mission.

Now an Agent of Influence, Calvin appears to be on his way to realizing his true potential until he, and the world at large, are caught in the eye of a storm brewing between the two agencies. When it appears that he's been accidentally framed for murder by his own agency, Calvin must elude authorities while saving the world from what amounts to Armageddon.

Ana: What themes does your book explore and what do you hope the reader will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader? Essentially, do you hope your book will mean to a reader?

Guy: The overriding theme in the book is old but entertaining, given its backdrop in this story: absolute power corrupts absolutely. The big question is how can two organizations, both of which serve admirable missions, be so caustic to our society?

Additionally, the book explores the idea that not everything is what it seems. I think this ties into the shapeshifting abilities quite well. Essentially, the book proves that you don't need to be a shapeshifter to hide your true identity.

Ana: What prompted you to write this book and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain author or work that inspired you to add your voice to this genre? Besides the boatloads of money and rockstar fame, what motivated you to write this book? 

Guy: Oh, it was always about the money from the beginning!

In all seriousness, I was first prompted to write a much more lighthearted version of this story a year and a half ago when I was motivated to write my own pilot for a television show I called "The Matchmaker." I wanted a show that was a cross between "Heroes" and "Touched by an Angel," something that geeks would love because of the special abilities, but something the sentimental crowd would also enjoy.

After banging my head against the wall trying to sell this and other scripts I had written, I decided to try my hand at writing and publishing my very own novel. The problem was that I didn't have a decent idea for a story. I firmly believed in The Matchmaker concept, though, so I decided to expound on that in the form of this novel. Agents of Change ended up being darker than the pilot but I was okay with that.

In terms of voice, the story is (mostly) told through Calvin's point of view. As such, I wanted his voice to be a bit more casual than that of what you typically see in other first-person stories (i.e., The Hunger Games). He can be snarky, he swears, he's got a self-deprecating sense of humor, and he often tells it like it is. All of this leads to a more humorous tone at certain points in the book when the action and the darkness isn't as prevalent.

If I had to choose a work that served as an inspiration for Agents of Change, I'd probably point to Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas series. That, too, is a series of first-person point of view suspense/thrillers centered around a protagonist with special abilities.

Ana: If you could compare your book to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why? If the one thing you could say to a prospective reader was, "If you like X, you'll love my book!", which work would be invoked so that a reader could judge whether or not your book is their cup of tea?

Guy: I've so been cheating this question throughout this interview. I've already mentioned a few TV shows and the Odd Thomas series. If I really had to narrow it down, though, I think I could only shrink it down to two works:

Agents of Change is the Jason Bourne series with a dash of "Touched by an Angel." I choose Jason Bourne over Odd Thomas because, essentially Bourne was a creation of the organization that serves as his antagonist.

Ana: Is this your first or only published work, or have you published other books? If you have published other books, how do they compare to this one? Do you have any more books planned, either as a follow-up to this one, or as a completely different book or genre?

Guy: As we speak, I am currently working on the sequel to Agents of Change (Agents of Chaos), and hope to have it out in time for the 2012 holidays. There will be a third and final installment of the Agents of Change series that will be released in 2013. After completing that series, there is a standalone action/suspense novel I'd like to write. It would be dystopian in nature and would be a modern take on an old English literature classic.

Agents of Change is my debut, but it's not my only published work. I have also published a short story called The Scorpion Nest. It is currently available for free at all e-reader book stores.

The Scorpion Nest is more standard fare than Agents of Change. It's along the lines of a sci-fi/horror "creature feature," although, like my novel, the short story also emphasizes personal relationships and isn't just about a young couple being chased around by scorpions.

Also, somewhere down the road, I'd like to venture into the young adult genre...but I'd probably do so under a pen name.

Ana: Where can readers obtain a copy of your book for them to enjoy? How can they contact you with any thoughts or questions? And do you have a means by which they can "sign up" to be notified when your next book comes available?

Guy: The Agents of Change ebook can be purchased at Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Sony, and Kobo. The book is also available in paperback format on Amazon.

I maintain an author blog/website: www.GuyMHarrison.com. Most posts on there pertain to the independent publishing process, but there is also some intriguing content on there relevant to my work.

Readers can usually contact me through my Facebook page and Twitter account (@GuyMHarrison). These are also the best ways to learn of future release dates as well as to be notified of the excerpts and cover reveals that will appear on my website.

Lastly, I'm active on Goodreads. I've run four Agents of Change giveaways and envision doing the same for the sequel. Additionally, I have had quite a few discussions with readers on Goodreads through their messaging feature and am open to communication on there.

Ana: Thank you. I understand you have the first chapter of your book available as an excerpt for interested readers? Is there anything else you wish to add for our readers?

Guy: A brief overview of the book and its first chapter are available on my website. Also, free samples are available for download at both Amazon and Smashwords.

As far as potentially adult or triggering content, this book features discussions of consensual sexual activity, discussions of racism, brief discussion of sexual violence, and depictions of violence.

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Feminism: Daniel Radosh on Moderating Fundamentalism

[Content Note: Infertility, the Holocaust, Appropriation, Fundamentalism]

In the final chapter of his book "Rapture Ready", Daniel Radosh argues that by keeping blatantly Christian pop culture out of mainstream outlets (book stores, radio stations, etc.), the effect is to isolate Christian pop culture and create a sort of feedback loop where the artists are forced to become more and more extreme in order to please the conservative gatekeepers who control the Christian pop culture outlets. Radosh suggests that if secular consumers accept Christian pop culture in their mainstream outlets, the result might radically moderate the Christian offerings:

As evangelical artists forgo the safety of the Christian bubble for the greater risks and rewards of competing in the mainstream, I hope the mainstream will make a similar effort to explore this “crossover” Christian culture.

This will strike many people as counterintuitive. Before I began this project, the idea that the influence of conservative Christianity could be checked by encouraging the further spread of Christian pop culture would have seemed ridiculous. But from what I’ve seen, it is precisely insularity that breeds intolerance. Even if mainstream radio doesn’t expand its embrace of Christian rock and Christian comedians never get their own sitcoms, Christians are going to continue to create Christian culture. When their only audience is other Christians, though, the feedback loop amplifies narrow-mindedness and inhibits self-examination.

What’s more, the existence of a separate Christian bubble gives fundamentalists greater influence on Christian culture than they deserve based on their numbers (or their ideas). That’s because the Christian subculture is dependent on gatekeepers, who by job description are more conservative than either the artists on one side of the gate or many consumers on the other. Thanks to the clout of the Christian Booksellers Association, Christian publishers will not publish and Christian authors will not write very many books that Christian bookstores will not carry. And the owners of Christian bookstores, for the most part, reject books that offend the sensibilities and ideologies of their most conservative customers.

But imagine now that mainstream cultural outlets were more open to Christian culture. In response, perhaps, Christian authors—and musicians and comedians—might find themselves playing to a wider, much less conservative audience. They might then be moved to experiment with more broad-minded material. This in turn might whet Christian audiences’ appetites for more such material, or at the very least encourage a healthy debate that the current gatekeepers generally suppress.

[...] Secular consumers may be understandably wary of having Christian content foisted on them, but ignoring Christian pop culture is not a solution to the spread of conservative Christianity. Our ignorance of Christian culture not only causes us to misunderstand, misinterpret, and misjudge our Christian neighbors, it also precludes our effectively challenging those aspects of Christian culture that may be properly judged as offensive. To the extent that we hope to change Christian culture, we have to understand and appreciate it.

How does this theory mesh with Radosh's other experiences in the book with Christian pop culture? Throughout his journey, he encountered upsetting and triggering material in unexpected places: fliers that demonized IVF children and their parents at a music festival; books that glamorized Holocaust concentration camps as settings for fictional Jewish protagonists to 'come to Christ'. Where is the line -- if any -- between being open to new experiences and new perspectives versus understandably wanting to protect oneself from harmful or triggering material in one's pop culture consumption?

How do you choose what pop culture to consume in your daily life? 
Are you open to pop culture from different ideologies, and if so, why? 
What responsibility (if any) do we have to help moderate ideologies we may not agree with?

Tropes: Sexism and Subtlety

[Content Note: Sexual Harassment, Homophobia]

I'm a sucker for film novelizations.

It came as a surprise to me, too. I started with the Aliens franchise; I love the movies so much that I picked up the novelizations in order that I might have more information to roll around in. Character thoughts, backgrounds, motivations; I lapped it all up like a hungry kitten. And then after discovering that I had more than a taste for film novelizations as a concept, I started buying them up by the basket-full.

As a general rule, film novelizations tend to be a bit of a mixed bag. (Not unlike the movies themselves, I suppose.) It doesn't help that movies, by the nature of the medium, tend to trade in stock stereotypes. Every minute you're not fleshing out a character is a minute that you can devote to the over-arching plot, after all.

Fat: Attractive Women

[Content Note: Fat Hatred, Ableism]

This drawing guide for comic characters made me sad. 

With male characters, you can mold their bodies into many different shapes, producing a range of cool characters. It's not so easy with women. Women in comics are, by and large, attractive, even the villainesses - especially the villainesses! [...] You can't draw women brutish, or you lose the attractiveness.

Sometimes I forget that I live in a happy feminist blog bubble. Sometimes I leave my blog bubble, go out into the big wide world, look around me with my wide naive eyes, and then scuttle back into my bubble to safely play in my safe-space sandboxes.

Bring on the brutish women. Bring on the women with disabled bodies. Bring on women who are fat, who are asymmetrical, whose breasts are too big or too small but never "just right" (however the industry defines that). They may not be mainstream-sexy, but I think their bodies are wonderful.

Metapost: Blogger Interface Part Deux

Can I call upon all you CSSers to help once again? Google has apparently updated the interface again because we've gone from this:


To this:


I need to know how to get back to the first one based on the changes they've applied, and I don't have the foggiest clue where to begin. Thank you all in advance.

Monday Musings: Cheerful Strong Opinions

Here's a cheerful-yet-strong opinion: Clue is the funniest movie ever made. I have believed this since childhood.

Your turn.

Monday Musings are meant to open the week with chatty fun, and hopefully continue throughout the week until the next one. Please feel free to talk about whatever you like, and do share any links you've written or have read and found interesting and worthy of note. If this is your first time at Monday Musings, you really should say 'hi' so that we can give you lurker cookies! Thank you.