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Daily Tarot reading [Jul. 27th, 2014|07:38 pm]
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[Current Location |lower allston]
[Current Mood |on edge]
[Current Music |Roommate playing nightclub-level music & trying to laugh over it, as usual]

Yesterday I did two readings for myself, a five-card spread and then, feeling like I still wanted more, a Celtic Cross. I'm going to try to remember to do a reading every day for at least a while, probably only a one- or three-card spread for most days, maybe a larger spread once a week or so. We shall see if I stick with this.

Today's reading is a three-card spread. I used my Vampire Tarot deck, partly because it is my first and therefore the one that I feel is sort of the most "me" and that I am most comfortable using, plus it is the most "broken in" and therefore easiest to shuffle. It also matches the color scheme when I do spreads on my bed--the card backs are red and black swirlies and I have a red bedspread, and I do the reading on a black blanket.

Today's cards were the Three of Pentacles, the Six of Swords, and the Knight of Wands.

The first card is the past or leading-up card, which shows "some significant aspect of the thoughts or feelings leading up to the present situation," according to the book I use (I mainly rely on Tarot Plain and Simple by Anthony Louis). The Three of Pentacles, "A Job Well Done," represents the "beneficial use of talents." This strikes me as somewhat ironic, since the keywords for the card include things like "employment" and "professional growth," not to mention "high standards," which I have for myself but feel as if I have been not living up to, and apparently at least two persons calling the shots in large companies agree with me. In a situation, it says I will be "rewarded for doing a competent job," although it seems the opposite has happened, but perhaps the card is saying that things are not as dire as they seem--that things in the recent past have been going better than they look like from my current perspective. Idunno, a part of me really feels like, if this is going to be the first card, it should have been reversed--"lackluster performance," "job dissatisfaction," that sort of thing. It may be notable that this card also popped up in my Celtic Cross yesterday, along with two other threes (for a total of three threes) and an appearance by The Empress, who is Major Arcana III and affiliated with threes.

The second card, the one that "clarif[ies my] present state," is the Six of Swords, "Leaving Your Troubles Behind," which represents "brighter days ahead." I do hope so! The key words include "moving away from stress and troubles," although at least in the present I feel more like I'm moving into them. As a situation card, this card says I am "leaving behind a period of strain, worry, and anxiety," and as an advice card, it recommends that "This is a time to review past difficulties with an eye to assuring a better future." This sounds like extremely good advice for me about now.

The third card, the "future possibilities" card, is here the Knight of Wands, "Escape from Difficulty." In the court card system I learned back in ye day, this refers to a person who directs their energy towards practical and material issues (Knight, an Earth card) and approaches it in a passionate, ambitious way (Wands, the Fire suit). Perhaps this is saying I need to get more psyched up and think bigger and more passionately about managing the practical aspects of my life (such as, you know, employment). I do like that this card is in my book labeled "Escape from Difficulty"--that would be nice!--and it represents "Change is in the air" and "Creative energy." The keywords relate to new ideas, not settling down, big changes, adventure, that sort of thing. As a situation and advice card, it says that "perhaps you are changing jobs or residences"--hopefully both, soon!--and that "someone may present you with helpful business ideas." If anyone has any helpful business ideas, please do send them to me!

If there is a narrative thread to this reading it seems to be indicating that, in material matters, change is happening and the changes should be good if I can learn from my mistakes and be fully dedicated and creative. I suppose this is a time to think outside the box and take risks and all that sort of thing. We'll see how I do.
LinkI do believe in fairies

Readercon writeup! Only a week late! [Jul. 19th, 2014|10:28 pm]
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[Current Location |not at a convention]
[Current Mood |exhaustedexhausted]
[Current Music |damn musically inclined roommates]

Last weekend I went to Readercon, the speculative fiction literary convention in Burlington, MA. (No, not Burlington, Vermont.) I went to this convention last year, when I was very new to both BSpec and to the whole idea of paying attention to the current literary scene in general. This time I went in knowing—and knowing about—a hell of a lot more people, but I still met many awesome new ones.

This time, the hotel lobby and bar were also open (last year they were under construction). The bar was fairly snazzy in a This Is A Fancy Corporate Executive Bar sort of way, and the lobby was very spacious but only had like two couches so that there could be more modern-looking white space. Also, they renamed all the non-letter salons from states’ names to inspirational buzzwords like Enliven and Enlighten and Creative and I think one of them was actually Inspire and you get the idea.

Due to starting a new (more exciting, better paid, back in the city, sadly temporary) new job, I was unable to attend most of Friday. Robert (who I’d given a ride to) and I arrived at about seven, which was precisely the time when our posse (it is actually Gillian’s posse) went out to dinner. The end result of this is that, while I had a lovely dinner with many lovely people in our gorgeous air-conditioned hotel room, I only got to attend ONE panel on Friday. This was a bit of a bummer since Friday honestly looked like the best panels day.

On the upside, the one panel I did attend was The Gothic in Nineteenth-Century Science Fiction, a presentation by Jess Nevins, a dude I had never heard of before but who is now on my A+ list, partly because he had the grace to put the entire paper he presented online ( Since I am a giantly giant fan of all forms of Gothic nonsense, it was somewhat inevitable that I would enjoy this talk, but whether I would learn new things was something more in question. I did, in fact, learn fun new things, particularly since I have heard the terms “male Gothic” and “female Gothic” a few times before but had never really read much that explained what they meant and tried to take a good critical look at how they function. I strongly recommend reading the entire paper, if only so you will fully appreciate the facepalm when I tell you that during the Q&A at the end, somebody asked “What do ‘male’ and ‘female’ Gothic mean?” BUT BESIDES THAT it was pretty great. If you asked me if I preferred this talk or last year’s The Fainting Narrator talk I would be hard pressed to pick one. (I thiiink I saw the guy who presented The Fainting Narrator at the bar and I almost went and fangirled at him but he was talking to people and also my drink was ready.)

After that it was party time! The Meet the Prose party is an attempt to force awkward introverted people to talk to each other by putting a bar in Ballroom F/G and giving all the authors stickers with lines from their work on them and everyone else pieces of wax paper. The object is to collect all the stickers, or, for authors, to get rid of all your stickers, or possibly the object is to have as many conversations as possible, or maybe it is to practice your ninja pickpocket skills and collect the most stickers without having any conversations. I’m not sure; the rules weren’t posted anywhere that I saw. But it was fun, and I got to talk to cool people like Neil Clarke, cyborg overlord of Clarkesworld Magazine, and Sofia Samatar, whose collection of scarves I am most envious of. Then we attended a super secret midnight speakeasy. How secret? So secret that people were yelling about its location in the hallways! That’s my kinda secret. Bo Bolander read a fragment of a piece that consisted about 50% of the word “fuck” and was pulpy and awesome. I sadly had to leave the speakeasy early because I hit the Wall and had to go to bed.

Saturday began with a visit to the dealer’s room, where all my virtuous thoughts of I Should Save Money Because I Am Young And Broke and But I Have Access To A Library and I Totally Have A System For What I Will Decide To Buy Today melted away into a sort of avariciously bibliophilic fugue state, and between ten and eleven o’clock in the morning I acquired the following:

In totally unrelated news, if anyone knows where I could grab another bookshelf for cheap, comments are open.

At noon I did start going to panels, beginning with Writing and the Visual Arts, where I learned that Greer Gilman once took a Historical Art Techniques class and it was awesome. I also learned that Shira Lipkin knits to figure out story structure and texture and otherwise un-knot her writing, which sounds so incredibly useful that it made me wish I could knit. (I cannot knit.) The people on the panel are involved in poetry, music, painting, drawing, handicrafts, cinema, basically the whole run of the arts. They are also, it seems, to a person, typography nerds, with strong feelings about paper and typeface and binding, and preferences for which fonts to work with under what circumstances. This led to a really interesting discussion of the state of the art of printing, including the rise of ebooks with their customizable fonts and letter sizes, and the physical book as an art object.

After a lunch break I went to Portrayals of Code-Switching, partly because I am all interested in language and linguistics and stuff and partly because Daniel José Older was on the panel and I remember him as being a really insightful and entertaining panelist. He did not disappoint, and neither did any of the other panelists, none of whom I was familiar with. The panel discussed a number of forms of code-switching: the moderator, Chesya Burke, brought up the idea that not all code-switching is entirely done through language; things like posture and dress are forms of code-switching, too. There was also some talk of bi- or multilingual code-switching versus code-switching within a language (register-switching). Then we got into the really fun stuff: writing and representing different codes in writing, and especially the questions of “translating” or italicizing words that aren’t SWE in a text that’s going out into an English-language market. Older gave as an example that Spanglish conversations usually do not take the sharp turn in accent and inflection between Standard American Broadcast English and perfectly correct Spanish (I do not know my Spanishes, sorry) that would be implied by putting all the English in roman type and all the Spanish in italics. (It was funnier and more illustrative when he said it with examples.) I had a thought during this panel that I wasn’t quite able to congeal into a coherent question, so I’ll burble it out here: on several occasions the panelists brought up the idea of not translating things because people from similar cultural backgrounds as the author would know what it meant and feel alienated having it explained, but people who weren’t from that cultural background can just go look it up like anything else you find in a story that you don’t know about, and that they’re OK making their readers do that tiny bit of work on their own. This made me think of a thing I ran into when studying big fat monstrous nineteenth century novels, which is the idea that Back In Ye Day, audiences couldn’t easily look shit up, and partly read fiction in order to learn more about nonfictional stuff, which is where you get those books with entire fucking essays sandwiched between the chapters (eff you, Moby-Dick), and so if, for example, you have a character who is a street kid, you follow up the introduction of this character with five chapters about the daily lives of street kids, including three about their argot, and a long essay in defense of argot as an interesting and imaginative part of culture, and then we get to poor Gavroche actually fucking doing anything (eff you too, Les Misérables). But so anyway now I have some vague and not-well-worded wonderings about the role of communications technology in the development of stories that allow larger audiences access to very culturally specific things without having to homogenize everybody or dumb stuff down the way that happens when you have solely top-down broadcasting kind of mass communication, and to allow more people to talk to each other without everyone having to give up their local culture and go totally Standard American. I’ve got a vague idea of “It sounds like the Internet has made this easier and more awesome” but I also squish other people’s text into SWE for a living so what do I know.

After that I went to Dark Fantasy and Horror, an interesting if occasionally confused discussion about what “dark fantasy” and “horror” are and how (and if) they differ from each other and the collapse of the oversaturated horror market in the eighties. Sadly I did not take too many notes on this panel! I do remember one of the speakers making the excellent point that one of the reasons genre labels like “horror” can be so tricky to suss out and apply is because we name genres after different things—so “horror” is an emotion that the text is trying to evoke, but “western” is a setting and “mystery” is a plot type. While this panel was going on, there was a panel in the salon next door about butts, and apparently it was VERY entertaining.

Then there was two hours of drinking: one in the room and one in the bar!

This meant I was ever-so-slightly tipsy for the Works of Mary Shelley panel, where I forgot to take notes because I had to put all of my brain into listening. It made me very glad I had bought The Mortal Immortal at the dealer’s room that morning, though, after I saw Adrienne Odasso with it at breakfast! The panel focused a bit more heavily on Frankenstein than I expected, although all the Frankenstein stuff was very interesting, and they did talk about the myriad other writing she’d done—I knew she’d written another novel and did a bunch of editing/curating of Percy Shelley’s work, but I didn’t realize just how much other stuff she had written and published because Frankenstein is really the most talked-about thing.

That was pretty much the end of the official intellectual programming that I went to on Saturday; a big group of us went out to dinner, including Jay, who brought a friend of his that the rest of us had never met before, and who surprised us all by paying for dinner for the whole group of us (there were like ten people at this dinner) and said it was no problem since he could write it off as a Business Expense. Turns out Jay’s friend,Warren Lapine, is actually a well-known figure in the small-press sci-fi publishing world and taking writery types out to dinner really is a business expense! (A publisher bought me dinner! I should probably go write stuff.) Then there were a bunch of parties, including one that I don’t know who was hosting but the entire back third of the room was all dudes with beards drinking scotch, which made me really happy even though I am not a dude with a beard and scotch is actually my least favorite drink in the whiskey family, but it was good socializing. Then we went to more room parties, and then we went to a sort of impromptu party in the middle of a hallway where I met Kate Baker, and then we got kicked out of the hallway so we all sat around in the lobby drinking some very, very sweet German honey liqueur out of bottles provided by this one dude (Marco something?) who just seemed to have an endless supply of it. This went until about two o’clock in the morning, which I was fairly certain I was going to regret the next morning.

Sunday morning was really not all that bad; I drank a lot of water and then was able to go to three panels and get a bunch of books signed. The 10 am panel I went to was Variations on Unreliable Narrators, which I admit I mostly went to because Theodora Goss was moderating and she is a delightful fairy princess, but unreliable narrators are also fun (except for The Turn of the Screw). We got a good basic grounding in the more “official” definitions and examples of this trope and then the conversation turned to people’s favorites, the panelists’ thoughts on the unreliability of narrative and point of view generally, and all that sort of analytical stuff that is why nerds like me go to Readercon. Adrienne Odasso talked about unreliable narrators in medieval poetry, even!

Then I went back to the dealer’s room and was very good and didn’t spend any more money, but I did get autographs from Theodora Goss and Sofia Samatar. A weird thing happened where, every time I have heard Theodora Goss say anything about her upcoming novel, I feel like she is writing it just for me, and so when I got my book signed I told her I was particularly excited about her upcoming novel, and she looks me and Lura and Andrea straight in the face and says, “I’m writing this novel for you.” So that was odd! I also got my copy of Greer Gilman’s Cry Murder! In a Small Voice signed, right after she won a Shirley Jackson award for it.

The Horror for Diverse Audiences panel was a good but I didn’t end up taking many notes on it, just that Shira Lipkin (who I was apparently stalking around all Sunday; she was on all three of the panels I attended) said she tries to create “horror through empathy,” and one of the other panelists whose name I did not write down mentioned that horror is—or should be—ultimately universal because it’s rooted in fear of death, which everyone has; it’s the specifics that get tricky.

The last panel I attended was Long Live the Queen, which was a great panel to end the con on, particularly because I was exhausted by this point and couldn’t have handled anything other than a truly fabulous panel about my particular interests. This panel was basically about portrayals of the Victorian era in speculative fiction, particularly steampunk. We got a lot of book recommendations about history and clothes and stuff, all of which I will have to check out at some point. The panel discussed Victorian medievalism and its effects on how we view both the medieval and Victorian periods, as well as Victorian medievalism as a forerunner to the modern fantasy genre; Victorian Arthuriana; Victorian volatility and social anxiety as opposed to the current popular view of the Victorian genre as being somehow ordered and idyllic (apparently there are a lot of wildly historically ignorant people involved in steampunk??); Victorian ideas about “culture” (singular) and their habit of plundering the entire globe for history, stories, and STUFF (Dora Goss mentioned the British Museum and ho boy do I have opinions on that place); the ways in which the Victorian British Empire was deliberately and calculatedly modeled off the Roman Empire; and Victorian progressivism. Dracula was argued to be a technological romance (a couple panels I was at actually pointed out the role of technology in Dracula, which is not something I’ve heard much about, and I’ve heard a lot of stuff about Dracula). Someone brought up that he was surprised at the Victorians’ popularity because thirty years ago they were definitely known for being a repressive, stuffy, judgmental time period with bad art. I am  always surprised to hear this because, while I am well acquainted with the Victorian’s history of being repressive, conformist prigs, I had sort of assumed that if people overlook this it is because they are bamboozled by how undeniably pretty it all is, as it is self-evident that Victorians stuff is pretty. I’m always surprised when I am reminded that a few decades ago people thought all that ruffly Victorian stuff was in terrible taste, but then I remember that a few decades ago it was the seventies and eighties, and I'm like, you’re one to talk, seventies and eighties people! I suppose I already knew that the seventies and eighties hated pretty things, but I still manage to forget. We also got into the most fun part of talking about Victorians, which is the ludicrously deadly standards of beauty (when I am participating in one of these sorts of conversations I will almost always bring up “arsenic face cream”)—in addition to a wonderful lesson about crinoline fires, there was the mandatory discussion about corsets, and we all learned that an 1840s Sears catalog once listed a device called an “organ stopper” which was basically a thing you put into the lower end of yourself so that when your corset squished all your internal organs downwards they didn’t actually prolapse and fall out of you. (My organs hurt just thinking about it.)

As that was the best possible note one could end a convention on, we then cleared out, got lunch, went home, and I promptly napped like I was getting paid for it, and also threw out half my clothes.

SO THAT WAS READERCON. I AM GOING EVERY YEAR UNTIL I DIE. In the meantime, I will endeavor to review all of the million books I bought over at my review blog, bloodygranuaile
LinkI do believe in fairies

(no subject) [Jul. 17th, 2014|10:23 pm]
Nothing turns me off music like musical roommates.
LinkI do believe in fairies

book poll time [Jan. 1st, 2014|11:13 am]
Book poll can be found at Not that I think there's anyone who reads this journal but not the review one.
LinkI do believe in fairies

(no subject) [Oct. 30th, 2013|10:13 pm]
Still depressive but getting better at distracting myself. Running four miles every day, now. Feel like there's a big sucking whirlpool at the center of my emotions and everything I'm doing, I'm trying to do it while staying at the edges and not getting dragged in. Having mixed success. Feeling generally pathetic about what the whirlpool in question is, too; it goes against all of my most basic values and principles to get this bent out of shape about something that I don't think is important and don't want in my life anyway. 
LinkI do believe in fairies

(no subject) [Oct. 19th, 2013|07:56 pm]

This week, I did approximately a third of the things I needed to do this week. Including eating meals. On Thursday I didn't eat anything at all until 6 pm.

I did, however, go running four times, which is nearly unheard-of for me--I don't think I've done that since college--and two of those times I ran over three miles, which is actually unheard-of for me; I usually do somewhere between two and two and a half.

I have also cried four times, which is not something I usually do with that kind of regularity.

In addition, tonight I am blowing off a Halloween party, possibly for the first time in my life.

Basically, it's been a roiling black mess of a week and I hope I can pull myself together soon.
LinkI do believe in fairies

(no subject) [Oct. 15th, 2013|08:34 pm]
Yesterday was one of those days where basically everything went wrong.

Today was just a day where nothing happened, which is better, but I still feel basically the same as I did at the end of yesterday, which is shitty.

I went for a run two days in a row, though, which I haven't done since I graduated college, but that's pretty much the only productive stuff I've gotten done.
LinkI do believe in fairies

Some Thoughts on Wish Fulfillment and Mary Sues [Aug. 21st, 2013|11:29 pm]
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So, I have seen a bunch of commentary lately about the term "Mary Sue," and how it has turned into a generic term for "any female character ever who I dislike, probably because she did something or was good at something or didn't get hit by a bus on Page 1 and I think this is terribly unrealistic (because we all know that real girls are never good at anything ever), and also, I detect some hint of wish fulfillment somewhere, which is self-evidently bad."

Many people smarter than I have discussed the massive, massive problems with the first parts of this definition, including such awesome ladies as Holly Black and Seanan McGuire.

But I also want to mention something that keeps cropping up about "wish-fulfillment characters," and that is: When the flying fucksticks did "wish fulfillment" become a dirty word? Especially in FANTASY? Ask nearly goddamn anybody who reads about the stories that inspired them and stuck with them and meant something to them as children and they will, at some point, mention some aspect of the story that they wished they could have in their own lives. Using storytelling to imagine fulfilling one's various wishes is a very, very old and, apparently until quite recently, fairly well respected part of the whole stories thing.

And I know that GRIMDARK and UBER GRITTY and ALL THE READERLY PAIN is very in right now, which I adore, particularly when it is done well, but even the edgiest and grittiest and grimdarkiest of stories that you can actually manage to get through and read have at least one part that makes you go "I wish I had that!" or "I wish I could do that!" Even A Song of Ice and Fire is full of food that you want to eat until you get sick (and now you can!), and witty one-liners from Tyrion that you wish you were clever enough to have thought of, and Brienne kicking so much ass and having so much strength and discipline that you only wish you could ever be that badass except you can't even get off Tumblr and go to the gym. Wish fulfillment can work perfectly well in a story and be all sorts of fun, particularly if it's supposed to be a more or less fun or fluffy story to begin with, and especially particularly if the author's wishes that they are fulfilling are similar to yours.

If they are not similar to yours, then just don't read the book/watch the movie/cosplay the lead from the TV show. Even some kinds of stories that have literally nothing what the fuck ever at all even a little bit to them except wish fulfillment can still be deep and meaningful to the people with those particular wishes. Example: Spiderman. Spiderman has, no joke, been a very important and formative and inspiring and hopeful story to legions of awkward nerdy dudes who like science and do not feel they have enough awesome to attract their sexy lamp of choice and do not feel particularly special or like they have the power to fix any of the various things in this world that need fixing. Spiderman makes these dudes feel that they can be special and powerful and fix things and acquire their preferred female-shaped life accessory. If Spiderman is not the fulfillment to your particular wishes, however, it is possibly one of the dumbest and most vacuous stories ever told. Particularly the movie version that my ex made me watch. (Watching it caused me to actually lose a lot of respect for that particular ex. He strongly believed that he was not stupid and did not like stupid things, because only stupid people like stupid things (this ex did not really believe in fun, as you can probably tell already), therefore, everything he liked was smart and objectively good, because he was a smart person with objectively good taste. So you can imagine how surprised I was that Spiderman turned out to be the most across-the-board straight up fucking stupid movie I had seen in about ten years at that point--literally nothing about it was "good" in any way outside of the wish fulfillment. It did not have clever dialogue, or a surprising plot, or good acting, or pretty costumes, or any understanding of basic physics, or ANYTHING.) The utter lack of anything whatsoever going on with Spiderman outside of the "It would be cool to be Spiderman!" aspect has not stopped it from becoming a well-beloved classic superhero and a household name. And do you know what? THAT'S OKAY. That has always been okay.

But suddenly now it is so not okay that people aren't even bothering to argue WHY it's not okay; they just say "Wish fulfillment" and everyone gravely nods that yes, truly, that is a terrible, terrible thing that shouldn't be happening anywhere near storytelling of any kind. (I suspect the not-okayness of wish fulfillment may have something to do with the increased visibility of stories wherein it is ladies' wishes that are being fulfilled, and if our wishes are fulfilled in fiction, maybe we will want them to be fulfilled in real life next, and then we might turn into feminists or something! Quelle horreur!)

I would like to posit that there is actually only one wish that is incompatible with good storytelling, although it is, sadly, a common one: The wish that everything be easy and free of conflict.

This is a problem because conflict is the basis of all stories. Non-completely-shitty English classes will teach you this somewhere around fourth grade.

This was also one of the major problems with Mary Sues back in the day when Mary Sue was a term only used in fanfiction to describe author self-insert characters who fulfilled all of the author's wishes at once, including the one to just have a nice time farting around in the fandom-land of choice and not having to go through the stress and mess of actually having the adventures. The problem with Mary Sue wasn't that she had powers, it was that she had such awesome and outsize powers that she was able to instantly neutralize the entire plot. And while I sympathize with the wish to be able to clean shit up quickly and not spend a lot of time fighting and worrying and being miserable, that is also fucking boring to read. Back before the flood of specifically female self-inserts by young writers into largely male-populated fandoms (I am looking at you, all the LotR Tenth Walker fics) gave us reason to come up with a speshul name that implied this was some sort of ladies-only thing, this was called "immature writing" or simply "bad writing," as it is an extremely common mistake of young writers to make their heroes super awesome but their villians/plots/marine-life-filled-tornados really wimpy, so the hero beats them too easily and there is no tension and basically a weak or nonexistent plot. I have read quite a few dude-authored original fiction pieces by teens where the hero was too awesome to get or stay in enough trouble to make any kind of story, particularly in my time as a school literary magazine editor. I rejected them all for being boring.

So, as Holly Black points out, there are some major issues with applying the term "Mary Sue" to any non-fanfiction character, but if we're going to do so, I wouldn't ask "Does this character have power/talent/the ability to get out of bed in the morning without concussing herself?" or "Does this character have anything going on that would be fun to have going on myself?", but "Is this character's power so disproportionate to everything else in the universe that it cuts the plot off at the knees?" because that is basically where any of this "wish fulfillment" or "has powers" or "is special" stuff becomes a problem.

I do think the last Twilight book runs close to Mary Sue-ness not just because it's hip to bash on Twilight or even because, as cleolinda says, Bella Swan Vampires Better Than You, but because the plot is resolved pretty much by the main characters being so awesome that their mere existence causes their enemies to stop being their enemies anymore, because nobody can resist their total awesomness, and that shit was boring. I remember when Breaking Dawn came out there was a pretty big outcry of disappointment from the fanbase because it was so anticlimactic; like, the whole book was gearing up for a big showdown, and the fight just never happened because they were too awesome for anyone to fight them, and the only reason the book was as long as it was was apparently because it takes the Volturi forever to get their immortal asses to Seattle.

In contrast, I have heard some people complain that Daine from Tamora Pierce's The Immortals Quartet is "a bit of a Mary-Sue," by which they mean that they think the rare and exceptionally strong magical powers and divine background are a bit much. However, I think this is rather bogus, because Daine is far from the only absurdly super-powered entity running around the Tortallverse. Her big antagonist through the series, Emperor Ozorne, is a well-matched adversary in terms of absurd superpoweredness: he is one of the most powerful mages in the world in his own right, AND he is the emperor of a very large and wealthy empire, meaning he has large numbers of other powerful mages at his disposal, plus money, armies, ships, etc. And he never gives up on making everybody else's lives hard. If Daine had showed up in Carthak at the beginning of Emperor Mage and just been like "Ozorne, sweetie, could you stop being a power-mad murderer and just, like, abdicate your throne to a democratic parliament and go play with your birds?" and Ozorne said "Of course! You're so amazingly persuasive, and the purity and goodness that shines out of your face has caused me to repent my villianous ways, and also I would do anything to make you happy because you've been here for thirty whole seconds and that is just more awesomeness than I can take"... well, that would be some bullshit Mary-Sue-ness. (And one of the things people forget when calling published characters Mary-Sues is that the fanfics that inspired this term REALLY WERE THAT BAD, because writing is hard, and therefore a lot of the young and inexperienced writers mucking about in fanfiction are veeeeeeeeeeery bad at it, and that is okay, in the same way that it is okay that the picture frame you made out of popsicle sticks for your mom in third grade is of inferior woodworking quality to the beautiful, useful, and sturdy dryhutch that my adult uncle with the carpentry hobby made twenty-five years ago and that I am still using as furniture.) But instead, we get two ridiculously high-powered characters who never give up on trying to defeat each other, and Ozorne keeps managing to put Daine into shitty situations that she actually has to work to get out of, like when she thinks he killed her best friend and teacher and she goes on a destructive rampage with her army of resurrected dinosaur skeletons, which, on the one hand, is conflict-ful and unpleasant for Daine because she is REALLY UPSET ABOUT NUMAIR in that scene; I hope to not have to be that upset about anything anytime soon!, but on the other hand, I challenge anyone to look me in the eye and tell me with a straight face that they do not wish to be able to command an army of rampaging dinosaur skeletons.  Rampaging dinosaur skeletons ARE AWESOME, and their awesomeness should not be a complaint, unless you are straight up allergic to fun.

So I say, BRING ON THE WISH FULFILLMENT! Just don't leave out the plot while you're at it, and mix it up with plenty of readerly pain.
Link1 clap of the hands|I do believe in fairies

A very long recap of Readercon [Jul. 21st, 2013|01:41 pm]
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Last weekend I went to Readercon, the speculative fiction convention in Burlington, MA. This was my first literary convention, and only the second con I’ve ever attended (the other was Wicked Faire, which I am pretty sure counts as a con). I went with a couple of the people from my writing/critique group. Gillian and Lura and I split a hotel room for Friday and Saturday night. (I was unable to attend the Thursday night opening remarks/panels as I had to work late to make up for taking Friday off.)

Friday morning I got up entirely too early out of sheer excitement, then spent four hours impatiently cleaning the house, visiting death and destruction upon carpenter ants, drinking iced coffee (this is a great idea when you’re already keyed up and impatient!), going to the liquor store (priorities, I haz them), and other mundane acts of not being at Readercon yet. Finally it was time to pick up Gillian, head down to South Station to pick up Tim and Mark (one of Gillian’s Clarion friends and his husband), head to Burlington, and check in. We got to the Marriot a little before noon, so it was already full of people in their best non-costume nerd finery (I met C.S.E. Cooney, who was definitely pushing the boundaries of “non-costume,” but as a former wearer of Renaissance skirts and hooker boots to school, I wholeheartedly approve). We got our badges and Gillian introduced me to like twenty people because apparently she knows everybody. Then the real fun began!

We got in about halfway through the 12:00 “Of Gods and Goddesses” panel. Coming in mid-conversation always means that it takes a little bit to figure out what’s going on, but we did catch some very interesting conversations about making up (or trying to make up) new gods and goddesses versus using deities from existing pantheons, the relationship between Christian mythology and pagan mythologies in fantasy stories and some of the worst trends therein, and religious traditions that are underrepresented and under-reimagined in fantasy. Patricia McKillip admitted to having been complimented on a fantasy pantheon that she had completely forgotten she'd written. My recommendation notes for this panel were N. K. Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and Patricia McKillip's The Sorceress and the Cygnet.

After that we kicked around exploring and being social for another hour, and I met the two other B-spec members who would be around for the whole con, Lura and Emily. (I am fairly new to my writing group so there are several members I haven't met yet.)

At two we attended the panel on "Expressions of Disability in Speculative Fiction," which discussed common shitty tropes about disability and why they are shitty, mostly focusing on the "culture of cure" and the particularly common trope of using technology or magic to get rid of disability. They also vetted the portrayals of some disabled characters in popular SF/F (Bran: awesome, Hodor: not so awesome). One of the panelists pointed out that technological advances were likely to have their own issues with disability--interacting with them poorly, changing the expectations for "fully abled," etc--and that access to disability-aid technologies is not automatically going to be equally accessible in the future. There was also a short discussion of ageing in fiction towards the end of the panel.

At three we attended the "Characters who Break the Binary" panel, which discussed the dearth of good portrayals of characters who were neither entirely gay nor straight, or who are not entirely cisgendered. This was the first of several panels I saw where Alaya Dawn Johnson was a panelist, and therefore the first in which I resolved that I have to read her entire backlist, stat. Steve Berman talked a bit about trends in the stories that come into Lethe Press (genderqueer is very big right now), and the way that nonbinary identities are named and framed at different places and points in time.

At four we attended "Race as a Social Construct in Speculative Fiction," a panel that Gillian had suggested (the story is that she suggested it at 3 am after an argument about racism with someone on Twitter, and was shocked that they actually used it). I say this in the interest of full disclosure, so you know I have some reason to be biased when I proclaim that this was a particularly excellent panel with especially smart and awesome speakers, including Alaya Dawn Johnson again, and John Chu, who is apparently a friend of Gillian's. This panel was led by Andrea Hairston, who is a Theater Person as well as an author, and you can tell, because she is super engaging and funny and has an amazing stage presence. (Also, she had an awesome hat.) The panelists dissected some of the failier ways in which some sci-fi/fantasy (mostly sci-fi) works have tried to depict allegorical or analogous stories about racism, often using what are markedly different species. They then moved on to the challenges of depicting characters of different races in their own works without being so blatant as to be weird and stereotypical but without being so subtle so that readers would miss it (I gathered that this is a bigger issue in shorter works but I don't think anyone explicitly claimed that at any point); they also discussed the related opposite problem of running into characters that are explicitly labeled as ethnic minorities but who are characterized in ways that seem to lack any sort of awareness of how that might actually lead to having experiences that would shape their characterization. (I believe someone--I want to say Daniel Jose Older--brought up Will Smith characters running at cops with guns, which no grown-up Black man in America would expect to get away with.) Most of the panel focused on science fiction; I would have been interested to hear more about the racial essentialism issues embedded in the Tolkien-derivative fantasy tradition but we ran out of time before I could figure out how to word that as a specific question.

I don’t remember what book was recommended at what panel but my rec notes for this block of sociological panels has: Ascension, by Jacqueline Koyanagi; The Summer Prince, by Alaya Dawn Johnson; and anything by Andrea Hairston.

This was enough seriousness for one afternoon, so then we went to a panel called “Writing (Hot and Heavy) Action,” which was about writing sex scenes and fight scenes. Predictably, the room was packed. I was mildly terrified of this panel, to be honest. The panel turned out to be great—both utterly hilarious and full of really good writing advice—but I am now mildly terrified of Margo Lanagan. There was also a hilarious line of discussion revealing that many science fiction writers used to make ends meet by writing letters for Penthouse. Who knew?

After this we went out for dinner, and we went to a sit-down restaurant, which was quite fun, but which I will remember not to do again for next year because it took two and a half hours (I do not know it managed to take quite that long) and therefore I missed the panel on clothing and fairy tales that I wanted to attend. Boo.

When we returned to the con we saw a performance by the Banjo Apocalypse Crinoline Troubadours, which was just as awesome as their name. Some of the performance was music—there was a particularly good song in the style of a plaintive Irish ballad, except it involved airships—and some of it was spoken word storytelling. There was a very dramatic and exciting story about a bone shark, which would have had slightly more impact were this not the day after the Sharknado premiere.

After this it was party time! After having some Kraken rum in our room (apparently this is, like, the unofficial drink of Readercon or something; I didn’t even know, I just bought it because it’s awesome), we went to the Meet the Prose party. There was a game going on at this party where all the authors had sheets of stickers with the first line of one of their works on them. The goal was to collect all the stickers, thereby meeting all the authors. We did not do this game as we showed up a bit late, but we had a good time talking to all sorts of fancy people anyway. Theodora Goss told us a bit about her current WIP, a novel based on her short story “The Mad Scientist’s Daughter.” I also had a fascinating conversation with a woman who introduced herself only as Nightwing, who quit her job as a software engineer and now sells corsets (I started talking to her because she was wearing an awesome one). After several great conversations and a couple of drinks, it was time to go to bed, because the panels started at 9 am the next morning.

The Saturday 9 am panel that I attended was called “The Work-Work Balance” and it was about the costs of pursuing a career in the arts—basically how to not starve to death in the many years it takes to produce and sell enough stuff to live on, and without letting your day job take you away from writing. There was a lot of complaining and some very good advice. The advice I think I personally would find the most helpful is to schedule a specific block of time to write each week, so that the  back of your brain will sort of plan for it. I like this advice better than “write a little each day”, because I am bad at writing in small blocks.

A lot of the panel was also about managing finances: be okay with having a smaller house, etc. When you do have the opportunity to make money, set some of it aside for later. Most of this was stuff I already kind of knew, but it was good to remind myself of it since I have been rather spendy of late.

Then we took an hour to kick around the book fair, where my resolution to spend less money promptly died (it was a quick and painless death). Gillian introduced me to the chief editor of Clarkesworld, and I could not resist buying three magazines and also spending several minutes admiring the cover art. I bought a couple of books of short stories. I was in word nerd heaven.

11 o’clock was the panel “A Visit from the ‘Suck Fairy,’” about enjoying works with problematic elements. The general consensus was that it is okay to enjoy books that have some sort of faily thing going on as long as you own it, and don’t get all denial-y and try to pretend that Lovecraft was totally not racist, for example. They talked a bit about where they each draw the line on what they can and cannot stand to read or have in their house, and how frequently authors are excused as “products of their time” even when this is not actually true. Yoon Ha Lee talked a bit about how when he was younger, some of his favorite books included some classic sci-fi works (I cannot remember the author’s name) that dealt with gender-swapping in what he now recognizes as a hugely faily way, but at the time, was pretty much the closest thing to a representation of trans-ness as he could find in books.

At noon was the “Friendship is Magic” panel, which was about friendship in speculative fiction and in fiction in general, and, more importantly, about the lack of depictions of friendship, even considering that there’s clearly a market for it because some of the most successful story franchises ever have been buddy stories (Sam and Frodo, Holmes and Watson). Some of the panelists discussed how they represent friendships in their own works, particularly female friendships, which are even harder to find in mainstream works than male ones (although perhaps not quite as hard as cross-sex friendships). They also discussed the trope that villians never have friends, only minions—a particularly absurd notion considering that in the real world, assholes have friends all the time (frequently other assholes, but still). Most of the panel discussed the importance of friendship and community versus the American value of individualism and making your own way. In the only question I ventured for the entire con, I asked about friendship versus romance—the idea that romantic and sexual relationships are the only sort of relationships that “count,” which seems to be at least as much of a popular idea as not relying on other people.

At one o’clock I (by myself now) went to Romie Stott’s talk “Economic Systems Past, Present, and Future.” This had a little bit less to do with developing economic systems in writing than I sort of assumed it would; I forget sometimes that I actually do know a little more than nothing about economics and money, so I think the purpose of the talk was more like “Here the basic things you need to know about real money, so that you can avoid saying egregiously stupid things about it when building worlds.” An extensive part of the talk was about feudalism, possibly the most frequently-misunderstood-but-used-anyway system in fantasy; some of the rest of it addressed basic economic concepts like “What is money, actually?” and comparative advantage (a concept Robert Heinlein apparently did not understand).

After this Gillian and I were scheduled to give blood. The Heinlein Society/Red Cross folks were running a bit behind schedule; so I took another trip to the dealer’s room and bought a copy of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Giving blood took a while—we had to be given extra water since apparently it’s hard staying properly hydrated in the hot weather, even while stuck inside a freezing cold hotel—and somewhere around the two-minutes-before-the-end mark I started shivering uncontrollably. We fixed this with Chipotle and a nice quiet introvert’s dinner in the hotel room. Then I took a nap. Apparently I really need my blood in order to function.

At six I went back downstairs to attend the panel called “The Tropes of Tresses,” which was about hair in speculative fiction. Yes, there was a whole panel about hair. There was some talk of heroines with wacky-colored hair and how this has become a bit of a “Mary Sue” trope, but there are also some stories that pull it off well (Kristen Cashore’s Fire came up as an example). They also talked about scenes involving hairdressing as a bonding experience, and the various uses of changing one’s hair (usually cutting it off) as a symbol for big changes. They also talked a bit about men’s hair, including facial hair, and what it has meant in different cultures and in different types of stories (shoutout to Khal Drogo’s braid!). Then somebody brought up body hair, and the panel inevitably devolved into an entire room full of people shouting “merkin!” (I have found my people, and they are batshit crazy.)

After this was the Speculative Fiction Open Mic, which was definitely in the “fun and different” camp for me; I don’t read a whole lot of poetry. But this was all fantasy and science fiction poetry! Gillian read her awesome poem “Please Do Not Eat the Children,” which was published in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. Catherynne Valente read “What the Dragon Said” and I tried not to freak out because Catherynne Valente is awesome and I did not know she was there as she was not on the author list and ahhh fangirling.

Eight o’clock for me was a panel on “The Xanatos Gambit,” which is a particular type of scheme where any of the multiple outcomes all benefit the schemer. The panel was hilarious, due in large part to sheer force of personality on the part of Scott Lynch. The slightly meandering discussion covered everything from the trope of the trickster as a cosmic balancing force versus the schemer as an individual self-interested douche, to famous gambits used in fiction, to how to write schemers non-stupidly. Scott Lynch brought up that a lot of older stories used to feature the character of “the rake,” which is a euphemism for a rapist that you’re trying to pass off as a fun character, and we don’t see as much of that anymore, for good reason. He also mentioned that it’s easy to make characters be smarter than their authors because of the time frame involved in writing and editing; the character and its author both have to come up with the solution to a problem, but the character can seem to come up with it in five seconds whereas in reality it takes the author seventeen months to think of something that cool. Scott Lynch is also of the opinion that hiding information is totally cheating; a good author of cons lays out all the information and the end reveals how they all tie together. (Scott Lynch had a lot of opinions for a one-hour panel; I was quite impressed. It’s hard to have that many opinions in such a short time frame without sounding like a jackass. As someone who likes having opinions, I must study his methods.)

After this it was party time again, woo! Brought the rest of our crack and rum Kraken Rum to a small room party hosted by either one of Gillian’s Clarion friends or a friend of Gillian’s Clarion friends; one of our hosts was an artist, so we ended up looking at a lot of very cool SF/F-themed linoleum-woodblock prints, because woodblock prints are awesome. We briefly attended another party outside the sixth floor elevators that dubbed itself “Occupy Hallway.” Our last and most illustrious party was Bracken MacLeod’s room party, where I met several fancy authors, and made the mistake of making an offhand comment about bras to Elizabeth Bear, which resulted in her making me and Catherynne Valente stand up so she could compare our boobs. It was a very strange evening.

Kicked off Sunday by attending a talk called “Reading the Fantastic” on the program; the full title turned out to be “Reading the Fantasic, or, The Fainting Narrator: A Meander and a Conclusion.” This talk was even more Relevant To My Interests than I thought it was going to be when I decided to attend. Henry Wessells kicked off by asking us how long it had been since we’d all read The Monk, and then basically rambled for an hour about The Monk, common framing devices used in Gothic fiction, delaying tactics used to build atmosphere (the main one being where the narrator faints at key moments), and H.P. Lovecraft. He also read several excerpts from a Gothic novel I haven’t read called The Wild Irish Girl, and some particularly Gothical passages of Lovecraft’s The Shunned House. I hope somebody got a recording or a transcript of the entire talk; it was solid Gothy fabulousness all the way through. I went a bit nuts trying to livetweet it so I would remember stuff.

My ten o’clock panel was “Workshopping as a Lifestyle,” which contained a lot of solid advice on how to determine what works for you in a critique group, stuff to keep in mind when being workshopped, different critique group models, some of the possible pitfalls of workshopping, and what can be gained from workshopping. One of the big takeaways for me was that critiquers go into your work looking for stuff to dislike (not out of malice, just so they can help), but readers generally go into a work wanting to like it.

The panel after this was “Framing the Fantastic,” which may have been one of the nerdiest panels of the entire con; it was about framing devices. I loved this panel, partly because it was full of very specific, technical advice on the craft aspects of storytelling, and partly because I am a dork who loves framing devices. On more than one occasion I have gotten very excited about coming up with cool framing devices before having a story to tell with them. There was also much exciting talk of footnotes (if you’ve ever read anything by Terry Pratchett, or Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, you will know that footnotes really can be awesome and this is not just dry ubernerd excitement going on here). I learned what a club story is; or, more precisely, I learned that the name for that particular framing is “club story.”

At noon I went to “Writing for Younger Readers,” which was about middle-grade and YA lit, both of which I still read a lot of. This was basically a fun panel about how children and teens are awesome, enthusiastic, no-bullshit readers, with a lot of discussion about what books affected each of the panelists as children. There was also some discussion of publishers’ expectations/editorial policies about what was allowed in what age level’s fiction, etc. Alaya Dawn Johnson had some particularly hilarious things to say about people’s reactions to some of the stuff she managed to keep in “The Summer Prince.”

After these four rockin’ panels in a row, I was (a) hungry, (b) freezing, and (c) feeling like my brain had run a marathon. I went and had lunch by myself in the hotel restaurant, then sat in the gazebo to thaw out and read before heading to the last panel of the con.

The last panel was “Teen Violence, Teen Sex,” which kicked off with all the authors expressing some form of disagreement with the hand-wringing tone of the panel description (this was validating to me, as I thought I’d imagined the sort of concern-trolly sex-positivity-gone-wrong subtext there due to my own issues). There was a lot of discussion about what “coming of age” actually means, what “sexual awakening” actually means, the problems with framing sexual awakening/the beginning of adulthood as dependent upon sex with another person, and the fact that sexual exploration and romance take up time and energy, which, in certain kinds of high-stakes action-adventure novels like SF/F tend to be (particularly the currently popular dystopian/post-apocalyptic stuff), protagonists may have limited time and energy for that sort of thing. They also discussed how a lot of YA novels do a better job of dealing with the implications of violence and the effects of committing violence than a lot of “adult” books do. All in all, a lot of substantive, thought-provoking stuff about what it means to grow up and find yourself. (Something I am still thinking a lot about, at 25. Maybe this is why I read so much YA.)

Now the con was over, so it was time to say goodbye to people in the hotel bar, head home, and collapse for the remainder of the afternoon.

Once I read the books and short stories I bought and intend to buy, I will be sure to review them at my half-assed reviewing-things LJ!
Link3 claps of the hands|I do believe in fairies

(no subject) [Jan. 28th, 2013|01:01 pm]
Job-hunting in the publishing industry is one long exercise in futility, rejection, and finding job ads that make you double-take and go UH WHAT ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

*writes cover letter for internship that requires a previous internship, because apparently the email I sent along with my resume doesn't count even though it was longer than the job posting*
LinkI do believe in fairies

(no subject) [Jan. 4th, 2013|10:47 pm]
[Current Location |US, Massachusetts, Somerville, Middlesex, Rogers Ave, 100]

Okay, distracted myself for most of the evening, but now I'm starting to be not okay.

Read more...Collapse )

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

LinkI do believe in fairies

(no subject) [Jan. 4th, 2013|09:16 pm]
Alright, I'm adoring almost everything about Les Mis including the bits I complain about, but I dead seriously am starting to think that Marius and Cosette's romance is the single stupidest, unhealthiest relationship I have ever read except possibly Twilight. But only possibly. I am genuinely, jaw-droppingly appalled at how thoroughly and unmitigatedly awful it is. I would think it was a parody of fairy-tale romance if it weren't clearly taking itself perfectly seriously. Every time I think it can't possibly get any more ridiculous, it gets more ridiculous. It's pretty much stopped being funny and now I'm just like I cannot get over how bad this is.
Link3 claps of the hands|I do believe in fairies

New Year's Resolutions [Jan. 1st, 2013|11:49 am]
1. Drink more water and less coffee
2. Find a job
3. Stop playing Castleville
4. Stop feeling terrible
LinkI do believe in fairies

(no subject) [Dec. 4th, 2012|09:33 pm]
Had a phone interview today, for a position I *really* want. Not sure it went well. Guys, I cannot even tell; it is only the second phone interview I have ever had, most of the sorts of jobs I apply to just go to the regular interview. 

Can I have a freakout now?
LinkI do believe in fairies

Confessions of a Fake Fake Geek Girl [Nov. 14th, 2012|10:12 pm]
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[Current Mood |bitchybitchy]

So, today in Geeks Being Whiny Arseholes And Then The Internet Exploded, some dude who apparently draws comics went on a semiliterate facebook rant about girls who dress up in comic-book-character costumes while not being sufficiently well-versed in their minutae and also being insufficiently hot for Semiliterate Comic Dude's tastes (I am assuming that, whoever the hell this dude is, he of course looks just like Johnny Depp or something; fugly fatass dudes NEVER have bad attitudes about women daring to only be like two or three times as hot as they are instead of ten). John Scalzi gives him the smackdown because John Scalzi is teh awesomesauce like that. Some dude called Joe the Peacock, who wrote a similar whiny-ass rant pretending to read the minds of women who dared to wear costumes in his presence without submitting to him personally their twenty-page dissertations on the history and social significance of their costume of choice, is sort of starting to think about maybe considering some of the things that women have to say about this subject, in light of the huge volume of things women have said to him about this subject since he posted his whine. Of course, in true Manly-Man style, the enormous volume of things women have said to him on the subject thus far only constitute getting his attention; he's certainly not going to go back and read any of it to get an understanding of our views on the subject--now that he's decided to listen, he wants us to all tell him the stuff we've been saying for months and years again.

Now, I do not usually comment much on these affairs, generally having an attitude all like "If I felt like painstakingly explaining all this shit to random assholes, I would go to cons, since apparently that is what people do there." (Full disclosure: I do not go to cons. I go to RenFaires, because nobody has a stick up their arse about authenticity at those, but cons sound like a poor life choice.) But this particular charge of "dressing up like comics characters you don't know all that much about and having to Google for reference pics" struck a nerve. Because, my friends, I have a terrible, terrible confession to make:

I once dressed up as a comic book character that I didn't have a lot of knowledge of.

Technically, it was a graphic novel character, but close enough. Anyway, here's the story:

My freshman year in college, I was introduced by some lovely friends to Neil Gaiman's Sandman series. I read the whole thing pretty much as soon as I could find people to borrow the issues from, because graphic novels are not cheap, but I am. I enjoyed it lots an' lots. I particularly loved Death, the wacky, slightly manic Goth girl with the big ankh necklace who was, y'know, Death. Then I gave the comics back to their rightful owners. Then I read a bunch of other Neil Gaiman books because Neil Gaiman is a god of wacky Gothic nerdy fairy-tale awesomeness. Then I read more stuff because people pile book recommendations on me like they think it's their job and I read them like I think it's mine. I did not reread Sandman because I rarely have time to reread shit anymore, and anyway if I did I wanted to buy my own copies because they are the prettiest, but I consistently find it hard to drop twenty dollars on a single issue of a graphic novel when I can buy a thousand-page mass market paperback for eight. (PS IT IS MY BIRTHDAY SOON, SOMEONE BUY ME ALL THE SANDMAN BOOKS SO I DON'T HAVE TO DO IT MYSELF KTHNX)

My senior year in college, we held, as we always did, a Masquerade Ball. This year's theme was, roughly, fairy tales and superheroes. As SPOC's Lord of the Dance (or Lady of the Dance, or something), it was largely my responsibility to throw this giant geek party. I also needed a costume.

I went as Death.

I could, theoretically, have gone as a character I knew inside and out and could talk about all day, but I didn't arse myself to. I could have gone as a character from the Tatterhood fairy tale books I grew up reading over and over and over again, and nobody would have known who I was. I could have gone as a Tamora Pierce character, and nobody would have known who I was. I could have gone as a character from Harry Potter, and at least people might have known who I was, but it'd be weird and lonely not having any other HP characters with me. I could have gone as Princess Cimorene from Patricia Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles like I did for Halloween when I was eight, and nobody knew who the fuck I was then either, and it did not make me feel like a super elite and high-powered and welcomed member of the nerd community, it made me a sad lonely alienated-feeling nerdling. (At the age of eight. Which is young. Which is kind of why I am suspicious of dudes whose sad-lonely-ostracized nerdness is all tied up in puberty-aged issues of girls not liking them sexualfully in high school; I always think, why so late? Were you not a sad ostracized nerd the first fourteen years of your life? What the fuck were you doing in elementary school? Were you the dudes who made fun of me for reading under my desk in first grade?

But the people I lived with--they wanted to go as the Endless. In a group. So I would not be alone and people would know who I was (Sandman is, after all, fairly popular). I am pretty much a Goth so I already had most of the costume--I just needed the ankh necklace and a bottle of black hairspray dye. And this was great, because I didn't have that much time to spend on my costume anyway, because I had a lot of work to do to throw this nerd party in the first place. And I was totally intending to reread the series before the Ball, but I didn't, because I was busy coordinating an entire Masquerade Ball and getting nerds to throw a dance is like herding cats. Into a dog kennel. And I remembered just enough about Death to remember that she was totally fucking awesome, so I wanted to go as her.

So that is how I ended up costumed as Death while being all "Yeah, I only read Sandman like once, three years ago; I don't remember it all that well. I should probably read it again." 

Does that make me Not A Real Nerd? I'm sure it looked pretty terrible to anyone who tried to talk to me about Sandman specifically. I liked Sandman, and really really do need to read it again sometime, but I am clearly not a big Sandman geek. But am I A Fake Geek Girl? Am I a real geek for spending parts of high school teaching myself Elvish, or am I a big fakey faker for accepting a position on the executive board of the gaming club (that numerous people were BEGGING me to take) even though I don't play video games? Am I a real geeky geek for spending most of my childhood reading hundreds and thousands of pages of fantasy novels and fantasy novels and more fantasy novels, or am I a big fat poseur for never watching Star Trek? Am I a supar elite queen of nerdy intellectual smartness for having a WISC score in, if I recall correctly, the 130s, and a math SAT score higher than most actual STEM majors, or am I an unserious dumb stupid person for being more into the humanities than science? Do I have proper Sad-Nerd Cred for getting my Lonely Sad-Nerdness started so young, or has it been revoked since now that I'm twenty-five I turned out kinda pretty and can dress myself?

I think I'm gonna go with Option Three, which is the one where guys like Joe the Peacock and Tony Effing Doesn't-Look-At-All-Like-Johnny-Depp Harris and all their whiny brethren SHUT THE EVERLOVING FUCK UP AND STOP POLICING ME.

Does this mean you can never whine about posers in your midst? Not necessarily; whining about posers is a classic part of being part of any subculture, particularly if you come up with a cute patronizing name for them. Goths whine about poseurs (with an e), kindergothen, and baby bats. Wiccans complain about playgans. But geeks complain about... "fake geek girls" and "cosplay-chiks"? And then they want to pretend that it's totally not about gender, even though geeks are apparently the only fucking subculture who can't seem to come up with a gender-neutral term for "poser". Gimme a break.

But anyway, Nerdy Policing Dudes Who Whine About Their Being Too Many Girls At Your Parties These Days, if you want to know why all the Real Geek Ladiez(TM) that you claim you heart so much are getting all defensive when you whine about Fake Geek Girls(TM) no matter how many times you assure us that you are so totally not talking about us at all, this is why: Every Real Geek Lady(TM) that you know has been branded a Fake Geek Girl by somebody else. Nearly every Real Geek Lady is tired of being under constant suspicion of being a Fake Geek Girl. Probably most Real Geek Ladies have at some point or another dipped their toe into an aspect of geekdom that wasn't really their own personal One True Geekdom that they know really in depth, and don't want to get branded as Not A Geek At All because we ventured outside our area of very very serious geek expertise or half-assed one thing that one time. And probably every Real Geek Lady has at some point met some dude who knew less about her area of very very serious geek expertise than she did, and she didn't get to kick him out of geekdom for it. If I decided every dude who said something laughably wrong to me about vampires wasn't really a geek, I would have very good reason to wonder why there are so few Real(TM) geek men out there but sooooooooooo0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o inexplicably many poseurs. But nobody challenges the idea that geekdom really is a really male-dominated (or at least male-highly-participated-in) subculture for reals, no matter how much we define geeks as smart and how often the men in geekdom say things that are really, really dumb.

I would like to submit that Tony Fugly Harris is not a real geek because he can't spell for shit. Real Geeks(TM) are well known for being perfectionist and viciously nitpicky about spelling and grammar, amirite?

Poll #1878893 Make me feel validated!
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 10

Am I a really and truly for reals Bona Fide Geeky Lady(TM)?

View Answers
Yes! You read hella lot of fantasy novels, wear a thousand dollars worth of useless old-timey shit when you go to Ren faires, learned Elvish, are sort of learning Dothraki, and have actually used your Game of Thrones cookbook.
10 (100.0%)
No! You don't play video games, you don't watch Doctor Who, and you didn't even read much Sci-Fi until Betsy's class. Also, you're not smelly enough.
0 (0.0%)

Link10 claps of the hands|I do believe in fairies

Money griping [Oct. 1st, 2012|07:41 pm]
[Tags|, , ]
[Current Mood |stressedstressed]

I just checked my bank balance and almost had a heart attack. 

When did my rent get to be half my income? Rent is only supposed to be one-quarter of your income; a third at the most. My rent has gone up every year (or twice a year) since I graduated, and my hourly pay rate has also gone up a bit since my first job out of college, but somehow my weekly income has stayed exactly the fucking same.

Am doing the "praying to all the deities I don't believe in that I magically don't get laid off this time" dance again, where by "dance" I mean "having stress headaches."
LinkI do believe in fairies

Miss Clare's Cranky-ass Style Guide [Sep. 26th, 2012|02:12 pm]
Attention anyone who uses words to attempt to communicate:

The following phrases no longer have any meaning. Please refrain from using them. If you have a point to make, please find the relevant English words with meanings that correspond to the point you are making (If you do not have a point to make, shut the fuck up.):

politically correct
politically incorrect

And, courtesy of the New York Times, "hipster" is officially On Notice.

Thank you for your consideration.

Any other rendered-meaningless words you've run into lately?
LinkI do believe in fairies

(no subject) [Sep. 20th, 2012|08:41 pm]
Trying not to get sick.

This tends to take up enough energy that I am not really doing anything else. Weekend's going to be full of work, it looks like. >.<
LinkI do believe in fairies

(no subject) [Sep. 6th, 2012|10:28 pm]

et no one say I was not helpful when Twitter needed nerdy shit done

Also follow @nerdsforobama if you want some Democratic nerdy lulz. It is somehow more or less related to Harry and the Potters.

LinkI do believe in fairies

(no subject) [Aug. 16th, 2012|05:58 pm]
So I still check LJ every day, but I can't seem to bring myself to get around to posting anymore. Which is unfortunate, as I have lots of feelings lately that it would probably be good for me to wibble about in writing.

Maybe later.

First... psych research for Stephen.
LinkI do believe in fairies

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