lenora_rose: (Default)
Twice within the last week, my world seems to be being turned upside down because someone made an incorrect assumption and never actually asked or cleared it up. in the first case, i can say with my own experience the person is someone competent and capable in other circumstances, in the latter, I have no idea.

Event number one:

I've been working full time for the last several weeks on a temporary contract (basically as a file clerk, but with a particular file reorganization project in mind). I am at best partway through the project I'm supposed to be working on (partly due to a snafu with supplies but also because two other departments have borrowed me for their own projects, to the tune of roughly 3 weeks' work.) and my immediate manager had made it clear in casual conversation that she assumed I'd be around for a while yet.

Well, my contract was up September 2nd, and while all the unofficial conversation assumed I was still going to be there, I had seen nothing from the temp agency or the company that officially extended my contract. So, since I tend to let things lie until they're almost due (that part of both snafus I will happily own), I pointed this out to my manager on Thursday.

Because the other two temps working there (at another location) had contracts that run to September 30th, she'd believed mine did, too.

But normally, one day's notice is still time enough to extend a contract. It's happened to me before, and not just once.

Turns out, though, that the CEO of the company, somewhere down in the US, had put out word of an hiring freeze WITHIN THE WEEK. So they literally could not extend my contract despite pretty much everyone involved on the ground really really wanting to. (Me included. Despite this incident, it's a lovely place to work, I really liked it.)

There's some hope that my manager can eventually get some kind of a special permission, or something, and summon me back, and I have made it clear to both the temp agency and everyone involved with me directly that I'll show up as soon as I'm called. But I'm at best on unpaid leave again for a couple of weeks.

Just in time for the first week Joseph goes to real school.

Which leads directly to Event number two.

I hadn't heard anything from the school (which had my application since just after last year's spring break), but when I called the School Division's Special Needs Support person (Not her title but I am too tired to look it up), she'd said I probably wouldn't hear anything from them until right before Joseph is due to go to class.

Well, that's now, and I still had nothing. So, being off work, and with a husband who HATES doing phone calls more than I do, I finally called today to find out how exactly they arrange Kindergarten.

The school said they thought he was going to another school.

A couple of phone calls more, and I finally twig to what happened.

St. Amant is a private organization that does (among many other things) a whole lot of programs for autistic children, including a full blown home tutoring for preschool children (which Joseph never got due to being diagnosed late enough he aged out before the waiting list hit the end), a pre-Kindergarten preparatory class (Which he has been doing, and thriving in, and which ended last week), and sending tutors to schools to help support children whose needs they feel the school division support system alone can't handle. (school divisions vary in both budget and staff, though not as drastically as in some places.)

We got our acceptance letter for St. Amant's School Age program within the last 2 weeks.

So did the school. But they thought it meant J. would be going *to* St. Amant and not to the school division, not that they would get additional support.

When, after calling the school, having the school staff member in charge of special needs (not the principal as I was told to expect) call me, calling St. Amant, and calling the school back, I finally figure this out. It took that long partly because the guy talks in buzzwords a bit, and partly because I had assumed that someone working for a school would, well, know how this works better than a first-kid-in-school mom.

I pointed this out to the person I was talking to, and he went to call the person in charge at St. Amant to clear things up. I hoped to hear back before the end of the day, but nobody called me today.

If they don't call tomorrow AM, I'm debating whether it's better to walk in and deal with this in person, or phone again.

HOW DOES A SCHOOL NOT KNOW THIS? I was told when I applied that another child with autism will be in Kindergarten, so they can't have never had this support before, can they?

All in all, though, not exactly the way to impress a nervous mom that your school will be remotely aware of what inclusion and integration actually entail, or that he'll get the support he needs from them.

The first of these two has me sad and a bit frustrated more than anything. The second one has me simmering.
lenora_rose: (Default)
This story is rocking, practically screaming in some venues, across Canada. I suspect it's hardly a blip in the US.

CBC fired a major radio personality with a highly popular show with no public explanation.

Ghomeshi himself then proceeded to publish a lengthy post (Mostly on facebook but disseminated elsewhere as such things are) which said: I'm into BDSM. *** I did some consensual things with a woman. After we broke up, she started claiming we did non-consensual abusive things. She took her invented story to the media. I told CBC about her wild accusations, presented them proof everything was consented to. They fired me anyhow, to cover their own arses.

This is I should say an unfair rendering of his letter, which on the surface is a remarkably convincing document. It rang all the right bells; big corporation fires perfectly nice person for being part of a subculture it's okay to vilify.

At first I was inclined to believe him. I thought about how rare are false accusations - but rare is not absent, and those real false accusations really hurt, too.

Also, his story version was first out of the gate, which tends to create and set the narrative in peoples' minds unless there's an overwhelming counter-response.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

Then the Toronto Star's first news story broke. With not one but THREE women - asking to remain anonymous - reporting non-consensual beating or choking. A story the paper had apparently been working on, and sitting on, for a year, and might not have released now if Ghomeshi hadn't put forth his narrative.

And I was given some pause. ONE accuser leaves a lot of room for wondering. Three false accusations, even in collusion, even anonymous, seems - unlikely?

Still, my attitude was "Let's wait and see." I got at least one highly heated comment for being that moderate, from someone who was SURE he was innocent.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

Around now, this comment from a friend of his came out, but I read it rather later in the sequence. Owen Pallett's take.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

Then another woman came forward. Then another was interviewed, on CBC's afternoon show. Both still anonymous, but now we had at least one voice speaking directly. And yes, the interview was highly disturbing. No consent - the cornerstone of BDSM. Of ALL sex. Of ALL physical interaction between adults able to consent.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

Another very familiar line: people had known; people had whispered. But without anything that could be taken to a court, or a boss.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

At least one person created a twitter account back in April about Ghomeshi that's coming to light again now.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

We are now up to NINE women who've stood up - two of them have allowed themselves to be named.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

The first one named, Lucy DeCoutere, was interviewed on CBC, again, but this time, AFTER she had come forward to other venues. Her story was over 10 years old, but contained most of the same elements. Abruptly hit and choked - not during a sexual encounter, not after any discussion of BDSM, barely inside the door - by someone who afterwards treated the rest of the evening as perfectly normal**. How she could not process it at all, at the time, certainly not enough to come up with any clear response. How sudden unexpected abuse isn't easy to react to.

How, and this is significant, how hearing the other womens' stories convinced her to speak up. But she was the first to put a name to it.

But:

Innocent until Proven guilty.

On the wrong comment threads, she, and all eight other women, have been called liars, and bitches, and attention-mongers, and whores. Or all at once.

There seem to be a number of people who want to believe one man's testimony over that of nine women, some of whom spoke up independently and don't even know the names of the others, making collusion difficult.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

At least one person has cited that there are more false rape accusations than real rapes (Do I even need to say this is a pure lie?), and this is more of the same. I don't want to know if there are more of these than I've personally witnessed. One was enough.

At least one person has said that the fact that so many women are jumping up now is evidence the whole thing is being railroaded.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

Several people have said that they're in it for easy money - what money? - or for fame, or for revenge, or for just about any motivation other than "Maybe he did something wrong and should be investigated."

Several people have suggested at least some women might not even know him before they're telling these stories, something they seem to think a reporter doing due diligence might somehow miss.


Multiple people keep asking why they can't keep this whole thing private, and only a few acknowledge that Ghomeshi's letter, not the women speaking up since, is the reason it's in the public eye to this degree.

The fact that nobody went to the police or any other authority* prior to the media story breaking -- even the ones who came out to the media BECAUSE the media broke the story and they would now be heard, a pretty obvious causation - is brought up over and over.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

I've seen some ugly racism crop up against Ghomeshi - mostly to say he could be guilty because he's "one of THEM", not one of us. A way of making him a monster, an OTHER, an equivalent to the rapist in the bushes. A creep whose scary Middle Eastern culture taught him to be evil. Not a liberal Canadian. Not a normal man like me/my husband/my boyfriend/whoever it is we're desperately not trying to vilify today. Notallmen.

(I have no trouble distinguishing my own husband and brother from Ghomeshi without reference to anyone's ethnic origin. Neither of my relatives would beat a woman, and I know more than enough of their exes to know nobody will ever be coming forward making such accusations. I cannot say the same with confidence of Ghomeshi.)

Innocent until Proven guilty. innocent until proven guilty. Innocent until proven guilty. innocent until proven guilty. Innocent until proven guilty. innocent until proven guilty. Innocent until proven guilty. innocent until proven guilty. Innocent until proven guilty. innocent until proven guilty. Innocent until proven guilty. innocent until proven guilty.

Nobody is allowed to suggest he can do wrong without a court of law. Never mind that this is one way to GET him to a court of law.

Do I think he's guilty? I think the evidence is tending strongly that way. That's not a yes. It's a we don't know but we have good reason to believe. It's an I refuse to disbelieve nine women without evidence against THEM, either.

Do I think he should be investigated and charged? Damn straight. That's how you find out the answers.

Or.

At least, it should be and I want to believe that of our courts. We've certainly had proof this isn't always the case. Sometimes, even after conviction.

Do I think it was wrong or inappropriate for these women to go public in the media first?

NO.

Not when the alleged abuser has already had his say in the media.

Also.

I feel like I've seen this before. Maybe more than once. Maybe more than that.

And one thing these cases have in common? GOING PUBLIC FORCES ACTION THAT WOULD OTHERWISE NEVER HAPPEN. And I don't mean that by way of "if you don't report your abuse, it's all your fault if it happens again". That's BS, even if the person making the accusation weren't always treated as a liar, a whore, a gold digger out for wealth or fame. Not treated worse for speaking out or dealing with it..

I mean "Now that you've spoken, others speak."

I mean, "Oh, crap, people are watching. Now that we have witnesses, we're obliged to take this seriously, to not dismiss it the way we really want to. We're going to do it, and with luck, do it right."

Of course, I can't help note, all of the things I mentioned above didn't get dealt with right by the relevant due process. And I don't mean because I didn't like the verdict. The verdict was guilt. What happened afterwards was not just.

They got revisited, sometimes, after public outcry at a blatant, screamingly obvious miscarriage of justice.

So maybe I'm a bit cynical. A bit worried that even the courts won't answer. Even if the evidence is there and the guilt determined.

But we'll be able to watch. Because when it comes to the safety of the people targeted by a probable abuser, the priority isn't perfectly determining legal guilt. The priority is protect them and prevent more abuse. Because the law court can't provide that protection to victims, and future victims are entirely out of its purview. And the whispered warnings that have been happening for years absent that publicity only protected those few who happened to know someone who knows Ghomeshi.

But we'll know at least that here's someone to watch, someone not to trust. Because someone went public. Public knowledge protects everyone.


* One of the first four anonymous ones had reported she made a sexual harassment claim while he worked for CBC, and nothing came of it.

** There's a moment in Labyrinth where a character is telling a story about how she had something similar happen - an unexpected abusive turn in a previously mostly-normal situation, which then reverted to normal and left her half doubting it had even happened. I was worried it was going to ring as extreme and unrealistic to readers. I wrote that scene last November. I could almost have lifted that moment from Lucy DeCoutere's account verbatim. I was chilled.

***I'm not going to further address this side, because while it led to some interesting side conversations, and the public examination of an interesting point of law, it's a red herring.
lenora_rose: (Default)
“Every organization appears to be headed by secret agents of its opponents.” (Robert Conquest)

The above quote is one of many that live on the sidebar at Making Light. And it doesn't just apply to organizations. If anything, it seems to me to apply even more strongly to ideologies.

There's a Buzzfeed post that's ostensibly a privilege test but makes me wonder if it wasn't designed by someone who disagrees with the concept of social privilege and really wants to undermine people who actually try to use the concept in their discussions.

I do have some issues with the idea of privilege, and Nimue Brown here lists an entire set of ways it's overused and misused, many of which are worth discussing. As I say in a tl:dr comment to Nimue Brown's article, I find the problems with it to be balanced by the things the concept has allowed us to talk about that we previously couldn't address, but I did see where she was coming from.

But. This quiz.

So, I get about a 62/100, "yes you are somewhat privileged", which seems fair; I'm a bisexual woman, but I live in a country and a family and among subcultures where my sexuality is a serious non-issue, and on every other axis, I'm basically well off (White, in Canada, middle-classed now and always have been, cisgender, able-bodied, married to a man, in a Christian church, neurotypical, College degree.) If anything, I think my score ought to be higher (more privileged). The only things I could do to be more privileged are to be male (assigned so at birth, that is), be completely straight, and be outright rich.

But I know several people who got scores in the 30s and 40s that don't feel the test remotely accurately describes their actual level of privilege - they are in their own opinion and awareness much more privileged than that reflects. (One of them was a straight white male in a steady job who owns a home.)

In other words, the test is confirming the opinion of those opposed to the concept of privilege, and those who agree with the concept are finding it unsatisfying and inaccurate.

Just going through the test, I could see why.

1) It assumes, but does not say, that this test is skewed to the US first, to North America in general second, and to Europe and European Colonies/ex-Colonies overall.

Living in North America, with the probable exception of living on a First Nations Reserve, already adds a pile of privilege points. More in Canada with its vastly greater access to health care. I understand that no such test can cover all the world but failing to acknowledge that focus in the preamble is already a serious point against the test genuinely trying to show the variety of privilege.
__________

2) All questions are weighted equally. Thus "I've never been raped" is counted the same amount of privilege as "I don't know what Sallie Mae is." or "I feel myself to be physically attractive." Really?

I can quite easily come up with two sets of five questions each out of this list which would reveal VASTLY different levels of privilege or lack thereof to the majority of readers. Weighting the questions as more than one point each out be tricky, as the exact severity of each is subjective, but not to the tune of a near thirty-point difference between me and someone who would look substantively similar in privilege to me from an external perspective.
__________

3) it doesn't account for temporal change. Some of the privileges, such as weight, health, and money/class, can and have changed for some people over time. These leave scars, I grant you (Abuse even more so), but to the extent that a person who *ever* suffered them is forever and always counted as exactly the same level of privilege they were at *while* they were happening? A poor kid who is now as an adult working a well paying job with a good education is still counted as a poor kid who lacks money/class privilege. Sorry. I was sexually assaulted *once* when I was twelve. As a 37 year old woman, this is NOT something I think reduces my privilege to the same degree as it would someone to whom it was fresh.
__________

4) Let's count.

Of the questions:
- 9 are about race, though you can count 2 or 3 of the ones about religion as having crossover here.
- 14 are about sexuality
- 3 are about transgender, genderqueer and fluid gender identity.
- 5 are clearly meant to be about sexism (Focused on male/female gender relations), but some also apply to more fluid gender identities.
- 2 are sexual harrassment/assault, and rape, which sorta fit with gender but should be their own thing.
- 23 are wealth/class.
- 8 are education related, but with a strong overlap with wealth. (I will note I put "I had my own car in High School" under wealth not education.)
- 3 are questions about one's parents.
- 12 are questions about mental and physical disabilities, if you count the one about *affording* a therapist as in this category and not yet another one about wealth, and if you count the "I've used prescription drugs recreationally", which, um, what? Also, NB, only TWO of these questions are about physical disability, and one is the ability to afford medication, which, again, yet more overlap with wealth-as-privilege.
- 4 are questions about weight and "attractiveness".
- 11 are questions about religion, though a couple of them cross over into the "Race" category above.
- 2 are about bullying, and
- 4 are about general comfort with one's own identity.

0 about age, and there are issues with how we treat the elderly. 0 about abuse outside the sections on rape and bullying. While I agree that "Not abused" really shouldn't be considered a "privilege" by the original definition of the word, once you're including bullying and sexual assault, that argument is long out the window.


Are we actually saying that a poor cis straight Christian white able-bodied person is seven times as oppressed as a transgendered person? Are we saying that being raped is twenty-three times less damaging than poverty? Does someone gay/lesbian get hit with four times as much prejudiice and phobia as someone transgendered?

NB: I am *NOT* doubting or dismissing poverty as a major source of prejudice, or a badly ignored injustice or something we should be doing our best to eradicate. It's BIG. Jesus was all about taking care of the poor, and so should we be. But this test literally spends more questions on poverty than it does on race and religion combined.

If this test is in fact designed by someone to mess with the idea of privilege, making sure that any white male who's counted pennies EVER (even if it was years ago) shows up as just as little privileged as a black lesbian is a sure way to stir up trouble.

______

5) Some specific questions feel painfully badly chosen or badly written:
- I have never been the only person of my race in a room.
This one is the THIRD question, and it's the most amazingly poorly phrased question. ANYONE who has ever been alone in a room is the only person of their race present. BY definition, I qualify right this instant. Even if one accounts for the need to have another person present for the question to be fair, well, I would only have to talk alone once with one person of another race to qualify. I could even be using racist language that would embarrass Vox Day while I harangued them and yet I could use it as an excuse for not having to check off this box and admit to being privileged.

I took a couple of bus routes to work for a while that, going through a neighbourhood that's predominantly First Nations and new immigrants, occasionally meant I really was the only white person in the space for the duration of a stop or two. I still checked this off, because I knew what the question *meant*, and there was nothing about taking that particular bus or those particular couple of minutes that threatened me or isolated me racially in a way that was meaningful to my life. Not the way being the *one* black person in a college class, or the one Asian in a company staff meeting does.

- I have never been discriminated against because of my skin color.
I know white people who would count any request to leave a "Blacks only" or "First nations meeting" immediately as discrimination and check this off. Question as written feeds the trolls.

- I have never been called a racial slur.
I call *myself* a honky. Does that count? Obviously not, but again, those who want to bend the definitions of the test can, quite easily... the guy who sneered at the burlesque fundraiser for a women's shelter as "Do-good white people" was an ignorant jerk, but I don't call that set of words, even with their acknowledgement of the race of the majority, a racial slur the same way the n-word is.

Moreover, under the sexuality part of the questionnaire, they ask three questions about sexuality based slurs. Which immediately treats being called a "fag" *and* a "fairy" once each as twice as bad as a black person being called the n-word on multiple occasions. Which, pardon me, but note which one I don't feel I'm able to WRITE without crossing a line.

- I have never been sexually harassed or assaulted.
These are not ONE question. This is two questions. The difference between sexual harassment and sexual assault is not small. Someone who HAS suffered both should damn well be granted two points against privilege. (I say that having been assaulted but *not* harassed.)

- I don’t know what “Sallie Mae” is.
I didn't, but not because I didn't get student loans... wrong country, dude.

- I’ve used prescription drugs recreationally.
Maybe this is a marker of privilege because it's something only more well off people can do? I mostly just don't get its relation to the actual concepts of privilege.

- I have never worked as a waiter, barista, bartender, or salesperson.
Because these are the only minimum wage or near options out there? Or maybe working an "unskilled" job in a factory doesn't count because... ? This could have so easily been fixed with "I have never worked for an income below a living wage" or some equivalent.

- There is a place of worship for my religion in my town.
I wouldn't have seen a problem with this one, but at least one person said that as an agnostic, they still felt they didn't have a place of worship. Which I think is "Spirit vs. letter" fuss - but then again, it does fit into "Only member of your race in a room" level of poor phrasing to even allow for that kind of misinterpretation.
lenora_rose: (Labyrinth)
(Extremely obvious trigger warning.)

Hidden under a cut because of the subject matter being possibly triggering, as above. )
lenora_rose: (Gryphon)
How am I?

I'm 5-10 cm of snow predicted on April 15th. That's how I am.
lenora_rose: (Roman Gossips)
Especially apropos Icon, since the chatty Roman women are from the Colosseum's artifact collection.

Just finished Rick Riordan's The Mark of Athena, third in his Heroes of Olympus series. This series plays on the differences between Greek and Roman mythology. And the third book actually makes it to the classical world; Rome, for now, but Greece is promised in the future volumes.

Overall, it's a yes; it keeps the adventure pace going and ends with one hell of a cliffhanger. The usual weird modern takes on mythological figures appear. The characters are smart-assed as ever, and enthusiastic, and their battles, as usual, reflect who they are, and their strengths and weaknesses. A couple of the quests are too easy, considering (Annabeth's in particular) but Leo's "duel" with Narcissus is a singular piece of awesome. He plays well to his strengths. He's been stretching a bit by expanding the number of points of view - and succeeding in making their priorities and in some cases their observations different enough. And points again for making some of his characters people of colour, even if they're still POCs from North America, and sometimes the other cultures feel forced or surfacy. There's nothing in this series that will sell him to people who find him not to their taste, but there's also nothing that will disappoint his fans. I'm buying the next book. Possibly just as soon after it comes out.

However, I have one gripe. It's not that big, considering most of the action takes place in semi-otherworldly places. And I didn't find a review on a casual scan of 4 to 1 star reviews on Amazon that even noticed. Yet, I did notice, and I've been in Rome four days in my life.

The problem? I am about 95% positive Rick Riordan has never been to Rome. The remaining 5% is the off chance that he was but his experience was so drastically different from mine as to seem like he hasn't, or his characters were meant to be that kind of clueless American tourist. (Well, they are. But there are still details that made me go "Bwah?")

(He says he HAS been to Greece, so I hold out hope for the future volumes)

Details, from lesser to greater:
Read more... )

Question: Couldn't Mr. Riordan have got his work checked over by someone who'd notice?


* For those who don't know, nothing in Rome is allowed to be built taller than St. Peter's basilica.
lenora_rose: (Labyrinth)
I went with [livejournal.com profile] forodwaith to a movie the other night. Crazy, Stupid, Love.

I have mixed feelings on Romantic comedies, which this is billed as. The majority of them seem to depend more on cliches about how romances should go than on actual human behaviour, many of them depend on at least some humiliation comedy, someone lying to their SO, someone planning to get married to someone else who turns out to have huge misgivings, and other combinations of Too Stupid to Live and/or basic failure to communicate.

Bits of that crop up in this one, but most of the time, the tension comes from the moment the characters tell each other the truth. Most of the motivations, even the idiotic 13-year-old's, are at least true to some real people (The 13-year-old is very 13. Ditto the 17-year-old). Events do line up with a bit too convenient timing when it comes to the big disaster before the possible reconciliation, so that everyone is in the right place at the right time, but the character reasons for getting there are at least plausible, even if the timing isn't.

I'm not even going to try to summarize the plot, since there are at least 5 significant relationships and/or crushes that would need to be mentioned, with characters ranging from the possibly-divorcing parents to the kids. One major plot twist needed more foreshadowing than it got (It got one throwaway line, and even that is debateable), but I can't see easy ways to do it without breaking.

Where it failed for me is at the very end. [livejournal.com profile] forodwaith correctly identified the dad's closing speech -- aka the Big Romantic Gesture that makes everything all right -- as the sole major case of movie behaviour that real people don't do.

It's also highly problematic in at least one respect: The 13-year-old's behaviour to this point has been stalkerish, persisting after being told no by his crush, and only saved from criminal by his age and relative innocence; he genuinely doesn't mean harm. His dad's wonderful, inspiring speech about soul mates to his wife also inspires the son to keep trying with his crush, after all -- and when he makes his public declaration, everyone Cheers him. Way to reward potentially future criminal behaviour.

But I also, later, pinned down another basic issue with the speech, which, had it occurred to the scriptwriter, would have allowed the dad to make the speech that would sway his wife without also encouraging his son in this particular pursuit.

See, the movie assumes the existence of soul mates. Or at least, of people who firmly believe they've found their soul mate, and for whom no other person will do.

And the dad's point is that once you find your soul mate, you don't stop trying to get together with them, even when reality intervenes, even when it isn't sure it will work out.

However, and I think this is significant, and too often missed. If you take soul mates as existing (I don't, but let's stick with the movie): then when you meet your soul mate, wouldn't they know it too?

The possibly divorcing parents each recognize the other as someone they love and have loved for a long time; though I don't think the mom uses the words "soul mate", the emotion is reciprocal. The 13-year-old's crush does NOT. She wants nothing of him but for him to stop. (There's an extra skeevy bit at the end of the movie that I think is meant to read as her being nicer and more sympathetic about his feelings, even though she still doesn't reciprocate, but it does so in a way that makes me want to scrub it out of my brain).

If the female in a pair of soul mates is actually an equal partner, she should, in fact, have her full say as to whether or not they are soul mates (And two of the adult relationships are based on the assumption that the woman does have a say in what's going on). If she doesn't think they are soul mates at least as strongly as he does, then they are NOT. That simple.

And it's not like, even with possible soul mates, there aren't enough things in the world that could make the relationship difficult. Societal disapproval. Clashing cultures. The wear and tear of time. Inability to talk through a problem. Internal issues from personal history. One can recognize that one loves another person deeply, wildly, one can believe this is the person one is destined to be with, and they can believe it right back, and the couple still find getting there a difficult path. It's not like there's any lack of roadblocks even after the other person says "yes". But them saying "no" is proof one is barking up the wrong tree.*

The dad's speech could have reflected that, could have acknowledged his wife's reciprocation of feeling, could have noted that lack in his son's crush as a hint it wasn't, yet, the real thing, but that the real thing is out there, waiting. And he'll know it when the girl is just as dazzled, just as determined to face down all the issues the world puts between them.

_____________
* and this is about the part where they want to date you, or even like you. We all know, or should, what it means to be saying no when it's at the more intimate stages, and what it becomes if you ignore it.
lenora_rose: (Archer)
Just came back from an excellent, if slightly overwhelming, Thanksgiving dinner with the extended family. A slightly smaller gathering due to one aunt being in the hospital recovering form surgery (And her immediate family's priorities being with staying with her, as they should be), but all went well, everyone seemed to be getting on. My cousins looked good & healthy and mostly happy. Much enthusiasm and questions about the two expected babies, naturally.

___________________

This week, I discovered that I managed to unknowingly hit what I consider to be a particular hurdle in my writing career, one I was sure I wouldn't encounter until after I've had considerably more published, and especially more of what's been published still available.

I'm on a list of boycotted writers.

No, really.

Just about since I've had a regular presence on the internet, I've been watching different writing groups discuss, expose, and in a few happy cases, help to prosecute, convict, and jail, the perpetrators of any number of scams intended to part naive young writers from their money. This started back when my most regular haunt was the sadly defunct Rumour Mill, a writing community I haven't really seen paralleled since its heyday. This included Dave Kuzminski, of the site Preditors and Editors, which attempts to list both scam companies and legitimate ones in a searchable format, and Victoria Strauss and Ann C. Crispin of Writer Beware, a scam watchdog site. It was here I learned most of the basic markers for a scam, watched the rabid defenders of scam publishers and agents leap to their defense and either be proven sockpuppets - or, if legitimate, naive writers, take back their words once the publisher or agency on which they'd pinned their hopes and their belief in their own writing proved to be just what they'd been warned about - someone who took away their money and either never sold or published their book, or did so in a manner which would sell possibly less than they would have made self-publishing. I learned Yog's Law (Money flows towards the author), and the discussions as to how this works with self-publishing, and how it thoroughly does not when publishing through a vanity press. And after a while, I could make the points about scams versus legit myself, and add my support to these discussions.

I left the Rumour Mill before it actually died out, but ended up in two other places - Absolute Write, a similar web forum, though where the Rumour Mill was focused on speculative fiction, Absolute Write is open to all genres. Some of its most invaluable members are James D. Macdonald, science fiction writer, who runs the "Learn Writing with Uncle Jim" thread -- and the numerous people, including Uncle Jim, who run their own scam watch threads. The longest of these the last time I was there was far and away the thread on PublishAmerica, a vanity press trying desperately to convince writers it's a "traditional" publisher. (I wandered away from this site, too, mostly due to sheer time on the internet)

And Making Light, run by Teresa Nielsen Hayden and Patrick Nielsen Hayden (and later, welcoming Avram Grumer, John M. Ford until his passing, James D. MacDonald again, and Abi Sutherland as posters) -- a general weblog, but, run as it is by people involved in the publishing industry, some of whom have a decided interest in exposing scams, it delves into this same territory, sometimes with razor wit, if Teresa's up for it, and sometimes in extended and gleeful detail, if Jim Macdonald chooses to raise his head. (I've varied between lurking and posting regularly here, depending on my internet time, but I read, including most of the comment threads).

Besides these, I've watched writers right on LJ, most noticeably [livejournal.com profile] jimhines and [livejournal.com profile] marthawells make similar points, or link to further scam discussions.

The Write Agenda claims that it's a site set up by aspiring writers whose purpose is to "watch the watchmen", as it were, and expose the lies and false commentary perpetrated by people like Dave Kuzminski, Victoria Strauss, Ann C. Crispin, James D. Macdonald, and Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

However. They are, as far as I can tell, obsessive, digging for the slightest possible offenses by the above, so that Victoria Strauss using a curse word in a Facebook status is proof of perfidy, Jim Macdonald mentioning a too-common trope in horror and action films where a heroine ends up in her underwear is Jim being some kind of an inappropriate sexist pig you wouldn't want near your daughters. And so on. Their page of quotes from P.N. Elrod seems like it's almost entirely made of Facebook and twitter remarks about PublishAmerica, most of which seem to me to be far from as nasty as one could get about that particular cesspit.

Here are a few points:

- I've never seen so much allegation, out-of-context quotation, rampant speculation, and distortion used to try and defame someone in one place. Not a pretty site.

- Cussing on Facebook is far from any kind of evidence of unprofessional behaviour. Facebook is not professional.

- I don't approve of boycotting writers -- though I will argue for an individual's right to choose their own reading material, I don't agree with trying to push one's views on other writers or readers by any means more forceful than a good or bad review. I approve even less of boycotting books based on something a writer does OUTSIDE the writing. (I have books by Orson Scott Card, and a collection of short fiction by Harlan Ellison. Card is a radical rightwing homophobic nutbar. And Ellison? I've had my say.)

- I REALLY don't approve of going about and posting one-star reviews of books you do not appear to have read, especially when the reason is that they're on your boycott list. Post one-star reviews because you hated the book. Sure. Go for it. Even of my favourite books. Even of my books, should such exist. DO IT FOR NO OTHER REASON.

- THIS? Is a whole new layer of madness.

So. Malice and insanity and obsessive fixation on a handful of individuals. Not an agenda I would follow. Where the people they're attacking are people I respect; published authors, people with a name in legitimate publishing, and/or strong and tireless advocates for a cause.

Boycott away. I think I'm in better company.

ETA: Just checked my links again. They cut their boycott list down to the bare minimums -- probably in reaction to the recent surge in traffic and commentary in any number of places on people WANTING to be on said list, or at least, like me, not unpleased by their company. Which means I'm off it. Alas, I don't know if anyone has a screenshot of the original.

_________________

On a related note:

My first three story sales are as follows:

- a short original fairy tale, purchased by Jackhammer Zine, a small paying online press that closed. In its day it had a good reputation for its size, and I generally liked to read its issues. Currently, I chose to put the story on my web site, since I had no intention of attempting a re-sale. One of very very few things I wouldn't rather wipe out if I ever get to updating the thing. The Ghost of Him

- A novella-length fairy tale (Loosely based on the Seven Ravens, which is a variant on the Six Swans/Wild Swans with a different means to cure the curse.) This won first place in a contest run by an e-zine I also believe is long defunct. (In the interests of honesty, the e-zine itself struck me as publishing mediocre stories, but again, it was paying. And I felt the contest winners -- that is, the second, third and runners-up -- were good enough to make me feel proud of the effort).

- A high fantasy novella mostly released as an e-book in .pdf format, or on a mini-disk as same. This made very little money as it was on a pay-per-copy-sold format, and less than a year later the publisher closed. (Again. This was the same editor as Jackhammer. Again, she seemed to garner a good reputation in counter to her low payments, and I bought at least three other novellas from them.) Essentially out of print, though I have four of the mini-disks I'd be willing to sell even now - though before I speak too soon, I need to check them, as one person did have a problem getting her computer to read her copy.

Now, the fate of the first is pretty decided.

The other, two, now. They're an awkward length at the best of times, and of course, before they were published where they were, I exhausted the few then-extant bigger publishers willing to touch that length. There may be one or two new ones out there I don't know about, but 20-25K is not a friendly length to try and sell separately. And I really don't know how much it's worth my time to try and re-sell old work of an awkward length when I'm not making near enough effort to sell short works of more manageable lengths.

OTOH, I like both of them in their basic form, though I'd be inclined to do some sentence-level edits.

Well. Except I could do the self-publishing thing. E-book formats have made this far easier and potentially more lucrative. Their having been accepted for publication does mean someone other than me thought they were cool. Having two of them show up at places like the Kindle store plus at least one current-enough-to-be-visible actual publication credit might help boost them slightly.

But is it worthwhile? I don't know, these days. I know for the novels, I'm going to exhaust my chances to publish before I self-publish. But these two are in a funny place.

Anyhow. Time to stop thinking and sleep.

Mini-rant

Sep. 16th, 2011 08:28 pm
lenora_rose: (Baby)
Stomach trouble TMI.

Well, i guess I've been served well for going through virtually NO morning sickness (Actually, on any of the three pregnancies).

Because the acid reflux I'm getting at this late stage is sometimes a REAL bitch. Often it's a low-grade irritant, sometimes it's all but unendurable. And not necessarily anywhere in the immediate vicinity of meals. I was awake from 3:00 till past 5:00 AM last night... and two Tums and some milk didn't help. (And yes, I did have myself propped up at least a bit.)

DO NOT WANT.
lenora_rose: (Labyrinth)
I was talking to a friend the other day about some frustrations she's been having. In the course of this, she complained "Doesn't (mutual friend) understand I was in a sexually abusive situation, and he can't just (irrelevant)?"

And I can only thank heaven I didn't actually say what I thought in that moment -- which was, Of course, it's not like it was real sexual abuse...

Of course, a moment after I thought it, I realised that if anybody else had said that thought aloud, I'd be one of the first to jump down their throats. Also, Bullshit, for several reasons:

1) The situation hurt her as if it were abusive. Ergo...
2) She was there, I wasn't. Her word trumps that of anyone who tries to say she's wrong who wasn't there.
3) If her telling of events is remotely accurate, it fits the definition of not looking for consent.
4) She's not even remotely the kind of person to 'make up stories' for attention. She didn't enjoy talking about it, or get anything but more uncomfortable and unhappy in doing so. Where, then, would she have reason to say it happened if it didn't.
5) She's also not unaware how victims get villainized. It affected a huge number of her actions, the fear of 'what people would think' if she told her side. Because he's a nice guy.
6) Most of all, when she described it to me, I thought it was wrong, nasty, skeezy and bad. And I still do. Even as a part of my brain managed to file it as "not quite abuse", I knew it was inappropriate behaviour, that would hurt the one subjected to it.


The thing is, I'm not exactly ignorant of how we as a culture are encouraged to think that sex is something women owe to men. That it's okay to push and press and manipulate. And how easy it is to doubt a nice guy and someone close and intimate can be the one to commit such an act. I've called other people on not wanting to call things assault or rape. I thought I was sufficiently aware of these issues to not fall into the same trap as others.

So how did I let myself slip into thinking it, even for a second, even knowing the thought was wrong?

Part of it is that in this case, I heard both sides of the story.

In his, he did a couple of things that were potentially skeezy, but with no intention to hurt, and -- and this is of course key -- he swears he stopped as soon as she told him to.

In her version, he did stop when she told him. But then he'd ask and press and try to convince her because *he* wanted to. Knowing she didn't. And soon after, he'd do the same skeezyish thing again. And again. And even absent that, he would pressure her again. No didn't actually stop him so much as give her a temporary reprieve.

The stories were similar enough to be compatible. I can't go into more detail (There are already some people who might think they know of whom I refer. Please, don't go there) but frankly, I could, once I heard both sides, easily see how he could feel he was walking - narrowly - on the side of acceptable, while she would not. It only takes a little wilful denial of how nasty pressure and manipulation can be, or a little denial that the pressure hurt.

The more when he did say, at least once, that he felt that because they were in a relationship, it wasn't wrong for him to want her. Not in the tone of a boyfriend expressing frustration, but of a man demanding his due.

No, he never raped her. But the behaviour wasn't wholly that of someone who respected her, or wanted things to be mutual. It was the behaviour of someone for whom what he wanted in the bedroom was paramount, and what she wanted was irrelevant.

Which comes down to treating a woman like your own personal sex toy.

Which is abusive.

But of course, he's a nice guy.

Also, of course, it's not possible to be sexually abusive without pinning someone down and raping them. Right? it's not real. It doesn't count.

When i was twelve, I was chased around and tussled with a coupled of guys a bit older than me. it started with them throwing rocks. It ended -- well, actually, it ended the moment I slashed the sharp edge of my glasses, folded in my hand,across one boy's face, so I could get up and run like I should have done from the start, but didn't. (Excuses: I was a slow runner, and I was sure they'd catch up. I didn't want to give them the satisfaction of scaring me off. I thought I just had to land a punch of my own and they'd back off. I was twelve. Critical thinking on the spot was not my strong suit.) But before that, it ended with me pinned to the ground while he pinched and fondled my breasts. That's sure as hell sexual assault in my book.

I was shaken, but not really traumatized in a real way. But I only have to think about what it would mean for a boyfriend to have done that kind of thing -- not in a safe, trusting situation* where he'd stop at a word if the fun wrestling turned sour, but ignoring my will -- to know exactly how much worse that would have felt.

In some ways, I think it would be easier to classify if he hadn't *appeared* to stop when she said no. (And I say "appeared" advisedly). I wouldn't wish worse on her for the WORLD, but it would be so much easier to convince people this was sexual abuse.

Including, it seems, some part of me, that calls it skeezy gladly enough, but wants to cringe at saying 'sexual abuse'. The words are dangerously powerful. The way some women who believe in equal rights, equal pay, and the lot seem to fear to be called feminists. Because even if you fit the definition, using the word... is scary. It points out the reality of this world.

I have no conclusion, except that I need to check my assumptions. Again.

________________

* And yes, I've played bedroom games that looked like they pushed consent far worse than a few unwanted touches to my breasts. But those involved known boundaries, prestated interests, and a partner deeply trusted.
lenora_rose: (Roman Gossips)
A book recommended to me by a friend with such enthusiasm that I was made genuinely curious, even before she bought it for me for this last Christmas (She'd tried to order it the Christmas before, but Amazon failed). It's a fantasy, set in a sort of castle in a quasi-medieval fantasy world. There's not a lot of magic left - in the backstory, the protagonist, Dubric, was part of what sounds like a cross between a traditional fantasy quest and a really dirty war. Dubric now uses a combination of modern police methods (examining the location of the death, etc) and lingering magic items to try and figure out what's going on.

I didn't particularly like it. A few moments in the plot struck me as stretching it (it's a castle of 400-some people. First, do they really need six girls to work full time exclusively on tending chickens and collecting eggs? Second, even invisible, it seemed to me that there were too many cases where the villain could get away from the scene far too easily with far too few clues, too few people noticing things like bloody footprints. Third, it really seems like the person pinned with the crimes had far too little time alone to not have an alibi after a while. Fourth, there were too many moments where the equivalents of modern policing seemed ... forced into the culture is probably the best way of putting it.) But those were mostly quibbles I could have worked with if I weren't put off continuously by the big issue I had.

I knew going in that the friend of mine in question has nastier tastes in fiction than I, but we have a significant overlap, and my tastes can tend to grim, provided it not be hopeless grimness. I can appreciate writers like Sarah Monette or Carol Berg whose premises have started with horrible damage to people, whose writing is in what Monette Calls the "noir" attitude (Yes, named after the style of detective story.) In fact, I write in that noir place on occasion. Bird of Dusk is not a pretty book. (I have in fact thought that it's a very Bergian book, though she favours elaborate high fantasy settings). Bad things happen to good people in many of my stories, though Bird is an outlier among the finished or currently worked on stuff.

But Jones goes beyond bad things happening. Her plot is a serial killer plot, and the killer is doing things like removing kidneys from his victims and eating them, or disembowelling them and dumping bits in a dye vat, so yes, nastiness is expected. Viscera are mentioned often, there's a lot of blood.

But that's not the nastiness I found myself objecting to. it's the fact that all the people are hateful and bitter.

First, the people of the castle are frequently described in crowds, and mobs, and line-ups, and these are rarely bored or worried or grieving. They're always angry, or annoyed, griping and making snarky nasty unhelpful remarks. Jones frequently uses the description "Someone in the crowd shouted" or similar, for usually some particularly vile comment.

Virtually every possible witness has to be pushed into giving any information, almost everyone who talks to Dubric is complaining that he's doing nothing. Nobody offers information, very few people make reasonable placating comments or say anything remotely nice to or about one another. People accuse one another of the murder in the face of common sense evidence to the contrary, and once the killer gets away with a few more murders, every woman screams and runs from every man -- almost. The lord of the castle, when he finds out one of the accused is his grandson, demands he be set free and declared innocent no matter how many women have been killed, and shows rabid indifference to his own people - after having been shown early on refusing to raise taxes or bleed his people like other lords. The ghosts chasing Dubric until he solves the crime at one point turn on him and attack him horribly, and often torment him once they start moving, apparently unable to figure out that torturing the person who's trying to find their killer is a bad idea, even though one of the only other characters who's not scum *is* a ghost.

And as soon as there's a whisper of suspicion about one person, the mob begins demanding his blood, and in fact there is a riot, and it's not made clear how he gets out of it. Once the riot happens, Dubric's picked men, who have been the only ones to date who could apparently use logic at all, or notice bloody footprints, or have consciences, are shown -- well, here I'
m resorting to an excerpt (Lars is Dubric's man, and has been until now logical, helpful, and basically a good kid, in spite of being left alive in one of the most horrible murder scenes): Even as he elbowed away a screeching window maid, Lars turned, sword in hand, shallowly slicing open the belly of a weaver wielding a pair of brass candlesticks. Before the weaver slumped to the floor, he turned the sword and clubbed the maid's head with it. She dutifully fell at his feet, and he stepped over her without a second thought.

Without a second thought.

Nobody seems to care about one another except the designated romantic couple. And even the guy in that pair is uncooperative, illogical, and unwilling to help in proving his innocence. Frankly, the fact that he has some redeeming qualities other than being head over heels for a girl is almost a miracle.

At one point, Dubric observes that while everyone's being upset by deaths, nobody seems to be mourning the girls in particular. I hoped this was going somewhere. I hoped this meant that Jones had noticed her own bleakness and was preparing something. But no, it turns out that there are two explanations for this. One: People mourn in private and won't tell him. Which, okay. Maybe, though we're not seen much grieving even in the scenes outside Dubric's purview.

Two: The girls who are killed until the very last are portrayed as girls who slept around a bit. Except that's not what other people call them. Other people in the story call them whores, even when they're not doing it for money. Some of these relationships seem to have been implied to involve geniune affection, too. But not enough for the men to mourn them, or their fellow maids.

Apparently, sleeping around is EVIL.

So, no, I couldn't like the book. It didn't feel like good won even after the murderer was found and destroyed. There wasn't enough good around to win. By the time it was done, I had hit the eight deadly words*. It was too relentless for me to care.

And it makes all the difference. Monette's world is dark. She knows from noir. Her main characters are a whore and an assassin originally, and several of their fellows are spies, necromancers and people who've done horrible magical things. Felix is shrill and selfish, Mildmay has moments of extreme sullenness and they hurt each other, their lovers, and those people hurt them right back. But it's not relentless. Felix and Mildmay also have moments of saving each other from worse, of standing together. Of being good to their lovers, and to the others they know. They do things like go back to fix mistakes, and learn to apologize, and to talk to each other.

This wasn't noir. This was VOID.


*I Don't Care What Happens to These People.
lenora_rose: (Roman Gossips)
I think this is meant to be a fun romp, mindless chick-lit* crossed with urban fantasy, with all the usual tropes - nice everygirl doing a makeover of her life, the sassy best friend with a bad love life, the hot gay friend with the fashion sense, quirky flaky maternal figures, the pursuit of the wrong guy whilst leaning obliviously on Mr. Right, and prodigious use of baked goods, ice cream, and fruity alcoholic mix as consolation and bonding.

It was - light, easy to read, quick to barrel through. And I'll grant it some points for not having a phantom income -- though the solution for where to live on a reduced income is absurd in the extreme (Most libraries don't have a convenient historic building in their back, especially not one that is dirty from years of neglect but lacks of problems with plumbing, outdated electricity, leaking roof, etc.), it *does* technically free up enough other money (No rental fees or power/water bills) to not make me blink too hard at the little spending she does.

Two problems.

1) I don't live in the same universe as this book.

This shouldn't be a problem. I'd rather most protagonists not be me, not be like me, and I like it when some of them don't live in the same philosophical universe as me. Sort of the point, right?

Except. This book is written with the clear assumption that of course the reader is just like this woman, if not in the exact details, than in shared culture. This is supposed to be an every-white-middle-class-North-American-woman. And I am all of the above.

The problem is that the tropes it invokes for everywoman are taken from other chick-lit, or from Sex and the City, without consideration of their reality, or people who aren't just like every other white chick-lit heroine. They feel like they're assembled from a checklist, not from actual people. It has the same feel as those people who try to write a new Magic Quest Trilogy based on reading Terry Brooks and watching the Lord of the Rings movies, without researching medieval England (never mind thinking of the possibility of basing it on some other culture or geography than some feudalesque cod-medieval place), or reading widely enough to get the idea there might be other things happening in fantasy, without considering why they need to be looking for a Magic Doodad to defeat the Dark Lord and his mindless faceless horde.

I think the only decision the main character makes in the entire book that I agree with is to stick with a job she likes in spite of a terrible pay cut, especially with alternate housing offered.

There's also a certain amount of action by the protagonist where she fails to look more closely at the world she's in, think about things, make connections. She fails consistently to ask questions. (At least it's consistent.) She's not quite TSTL**, but for a research librarian, she fails to research an astonishing number of things. She finds a room of magic books, *accidentally* wakes up a familiar, and then kind of hides from the books and fails to ask a lot of questions about how it all works. She doesn't even Google. She inquires even less deeply of her intended paramour (Not asking his relation to the woman she sees with him is Just ridiculous, especially when she does ask a couple of more vaguely probing questions. That she's seen successfully researching grant applications just makes all the times she doesn't ask things she should, or read further, just stand out more. The thing with this is, while there are plenty of people who don't ask questions they ought for many reasons to ask (Actually, everyone has individual blind spots they refuse to think about, often about things central to their life), and so maybe gives her more in literal common with other chick-lit protagonists and with a probable subset of readers, it makes her LESS sympathetic. People like it when a character they're meant to sympathize with is clever and observant.

(There's also a whole side of all this unconsidered following of tropes, and unthinking unquestioning protagonist that brings up the idea of Privilege, of how most people who have Privilege don't even see it. Because yup, this is a book of Privilege. See problem # 2.)

Oh, and virtually every guy in the book who isn't either the Gay Buddy or Mr. Right cheats. Almost every relationship past a disastrous first date is broken up by the guy cheating. There is NO other motivation for things not working out. Again, not my universe.

2) Her familiar.

The familiar she wakes up at first comes in the shape of a black cat, but, in spite of maintaining a tendency to purr, a deep fondness for canned tuna and an inclination to try and eat her pet fish, quickly takes the shape of a gorgeous gay man with perfect fashion sense and a desire to give her a makeover. He's very quickly welcomed into the otherwise all-girl circle of people commiserating over bad boyfriends, and joins in Mojito nights. Aside from one nod that he's one of the two not-cheating decent guys around, he's one of the girls.

The flagrantly gay buddy is another common chick-lit trope, and I roll my eyes hard at how badly stereotypical poor Neko is. As probably my second-favourite character of the lot after the grandmother (in spite of rather than because of his stereotypical features) he deserved better than to be a girl in guy drag.

But let me repeat this. A gay man is her FAMILIAR. The beast who channels her magic. And only the roughly one-in-twenty-nine chance that she summons him on a full moon means he can even leave the vicinity of the magic books. Oh, and he belongs to whomever owns the magic books. However they treat him.

What the Fuck I don't even.

And there's a real question of whether this is mitigated or made worse by the fact that the protagonist did it by accident and didn't ask a lot about the consequences.

Just...


* Not all chick-lit is mindless, so this is NOT a redundancy. And I say this as someone who isn't much of a fan of the genre in its unadulterated form.

** Too Stupid To Live, and it says something about Romance and Chick-lit that this is one of the common terms.
lenora_rose: At Tara in this fateful hour, I call on all heaven with its power... (At this Fateful Hour)
I have only one thing to say about the Elizabeth Moon Debacle, at least only one thing that hasn't been said better by wiser heads, by those vastly more eloquent, or those more directly affected.

And that is: I really want to go to Wiscon one day. Soon even. Maybe even this upcoming one, as Nisi Shawl is the GOH.

(If you must read only one of the things I linked above, including Moon herself, read Shweta's post linked to on the word "vastly".)

ETA: I removed the link to N.K. Jemison because she's changed her mind on her stance, and reading the comments that led her to do so, I think that might be the right choice; but I don't expect anyone else to read throught he comments to see the debate and why. Instead, I've replaced it with Nisi Shawl's comment, which still definitely fits as "Wiser heads".
___________________

My brain has been focused on work lately, for obvious reasons.

1) I'm looking for work. I've had two interviews so far, and a few other resumes out. (The last interview felt like it went less well than the last two*. She said anytime, I said eleven-ish, and got there ten past. I don't know if this counts as late in her books or not. It was short, too. But because I felt it went badly, I'm half feeling that means this will be the one with the job offer.)

2) I found out that not everyone at the temp agency knew I was looking and available for a couple of weeks (I'd told my usual contact, but the actual coordinator for the whole shebang alternates week to week). Since then, I've been asked back, or asked to work, three times. Ergo, I worked yesterday, and will tomorrow and all of next week, at a place I've worked before, and like well enough (But for the faint smell of hot plastic that pervades. Guess what they make?) Yay for getting money in! Except for the whole up at 5:45 or 6:00 thing.

I've also been doing a couple of stints of standing behind a table, smiling, and promoting the Barony, which is fun but tiring, in a definitely qualifies as work kind of way, and wears out my introvert nature. Still, we got a ton of signatures; all we have to do is have the ones that sounded most enthused show up when we have cool things to show off.

(I CANNOT believe I failed to mention the Barony of Castel Rouge in my list of organizations I've volunteered for. Honestly. I've only been a member since 1995...)

So. Writing: Mostly, actually, I've been working in a dedicated way on query letters and plot synopses for the Serpent Prince and Bird of Dusk. I've been hauling the Dana about, and tossing extra words on three different frivolous projects; the PWP that grew a plot, the Labyrinth story (probably the most serious of the three, but I'm stuck on what happens next) and one of the apocalyptic stories.

Exercise - the high cardio side, specifically - has been the one of my vague ambitions most easily set aside. Stretching and walking are easy, as are some basic arm and leg workouts. But for cardio, when abacchus was in the house, this was awkward, because my main way of doing so was by putting on one of the cds I specifically recorded to dance to, and doing just that. Now he's gone... but I've been working.

We really need to get the Wii Fit stuff set up again. I guess I could do Sports, or Sports Resort.

Oh, yes. Abacchus was planning on moving out once he had a job. When the school division seemed to be slow on calling him back, he talked to his parents, and was thinking about moving into their place at month's end. Now, it turns out they're heading on a cruise, and it suits them very well to have him go home a few days early, so he can house-sit. he's still got stuff here, we're not kicking him out. Actually, I'd kind of like to see him; we've talked mostly in fragments, in passing in the hallway, as his hours are... unpredictable.

I'm planning on bringing my three different half-finished illumination projects to the Barony on Sunday, and getting on with that one of my resolutions.

Mom, do you want to go driving Saturday?

____________
*Yes, that math doesn't work. I had an interview via the temp agency that didn't work out, as well as the two from my own efforts.

Mild Rrrrr.

Sep. 7th, 2010 06:33 pm
lenora_rose: (Default)
Lots of little irritants today:

Found out facebook hasn't been sending me messages since mid-June or sooner. A friend suggested it was because I hadn't been active. Thing is, my last status comment before that was late April; in other words, less than two months. That's not long enough to count as inactive. Colin said it's given him trouble, too. Thing is, the reason I know this is because a friend asked me about a job-related message she sent me. Waiting to see if it's still extant; if so, I intend to try and drop off a resume tomorrow.

I still can't find a copy of Inu-Yasha book 14. (I have 1-5, read 6-11 through a friend, and the Library downtown has 12-13, and 15-18) I may just have to read it online. Grrr. It's light and fairly easy to guess at missed plot points, but still.

I chipped a tooth. Not badly. Just enough to have a vague sharp feeling in my mouth.

I tried to use my chip card Visa recently. The PIN didn't work (I haven't changed it to one of my own choosing, but I thought I knew it). And now I can't find the paper they sent me with the number on it - since of course I don't carry it with me.

___________________

In good news, my hair's been purple since last Thursday (well, Burgundy). And Now that I'm more used to it, I think it's a shade that won't work too much against me in job interviews in all but the strictest places. At first I was worried that, being less subtle than I expected, it would be too much.
lenora_rose: (Default)
A more cheerful rant, if such is possible. Inspired by the fact that we're sort of planning another music night, and because Jeff asked, on finding out TSO was sorted under my folder labelled "melodramatic" as "Isn't that a serious understatement?"

I want very hard to like Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

I mean, I quite enjoyed the show last November, and I've collected one of the Christmas albums and both non-Christmas collections. And I do listen to them fairly regularly. I like most of their instrumentals, particularly the classical-based ones (though Tracers, on Night Castle, has a lot less of that, and is darn good) and about 50% of their sung pieces - and the best of the sung pieces can be right up there with the instrumentals.

Then they have the other songs. The ones where they seem to decide that singing the same one-to-five word line fifteen times over is a powerful effect and not a grating one (Bruce Springsteen manages this in Devil's Arcade, but none of the members of TSO have half his strength of expression.)

That they like to sing every single incident as if it were the end of the world, or the height of its saving. When they don't reduce it to snarling vocals, because an evil character like the devil can't possibly sound good. That everything needs to be ornamented or elaborated.

That interrupting an amazing piece of rock opera with a sudden carnival rant doesn't pretty much trash what is otherwise one of the best vocal pieces. (Seriously; I want to get some kind of sound editing software, because I'm pretty sure the rest of the song can be linked together with that bit excised.) (The Carnival effect also compares systematic genocide to the Roman Colosseum. Which is not even on the same SCALE. Nor was it approached with the same intent.)

But the worst are their stories. Every album comes with a story linking the songs. Some of the songs don't make sense without the narration, some would be more universally applicable.

And the stories? Universally suck. They're unsubtle, unrealistic. They want to be hopeful, but they bend reality out of shape to do it, even as they claim to be about being realistic and facing the evils of the world.

Beethoven's Last Night isn't dreadful - Beethoven is being threatened by the devil and reviewing his life. Until it throws in an unnecessary extra bit about a girl (spawninng two of the weakest songs in the whole thing), and a ridiculous extra twist that renders the entire story moot (Done by a character named, to make it even more obvious, Twist). Beethoven gives up his precious Tenth Symphony. It's rescued by a last minute bit of lawyering, and he dies happy and at peace. And the Tenth Symphony is hidden away again the moment his back is turned. And I go, So why did I even bother?

But Night Castle actively offends me. First, you have a man and woman get together and get married and spend literally ONE DAY Together, in which they get married and conceive a child. This grates for a number of reasons. This isn't how real romance works. But I'd let it pass. it's a minor ill.

Then the young man, a Lieutenant, goes to Cambodia, where he dies as a captive of the Khmer Rouge, but not before convincing the Khmer Rouge General, Tran Do, that their slaughter is wrong.

Tran Do, with his new terrible epiphany, realizes he has to make up for what he's done, and for the Killing Fields. So he flees his own camp and his own people, and.

Guess.

Does he:

1) Start helping the people fighting against the Khmer Rouge with inside information?
2) Denounce the Khmer Rouge publicly?
3) Seek to find some other way to save lives?
4) Seek to negotiate a peace?
5) Surrender himself to be tried for his crimes in a world court?
6) Do anything at all useful either to the people dying of war or genocide in Cambodia or to prevent other cases of genocide?
7) Even do something as weirdly random-but-decent like become a doctor and try to save future lives?

NONE OF THE ABOVE.

His entire plan is to free the Lieutenant and send him home. When he finds that the Lieutenant died before he could get back, he goes to America with the Lieutenant's gifts for his child (Which the lieutenant has never seen), seeks out his daughter and asks her forgiveness. Then wanders off to find a possibly mythical castle the lieutenant claimed to have seen, wherein lives a wizard who taught the lieutenant all he knew of goodness, morality, right and wrong, and wisdom in general.

That's it. And he's considered redeemed.

What the fuck kind of epiphany is that?

The songs where Tran Do realises what he's done and become are actually quite powerful. If they went somewhere.

Then. Poof. Nothing. Nada. He seeks redemption by asking a little girl and looking for a wizard. The little girl is of course the perfect clueless innocent of all TSO works, so whatever, but the wizard in the castle, who's supposed to be the pure epitome of wisdom, should have said, "That's the best you can do? Go out there and be useful."

You know, I'd even be okay with him realising he could never be redeemed, but choosing to live a quiet life somewhere, growing plants, not balancing the scales, but at least not making it any worse. It's the fact that they seem to feel that talking to a little girl once actually does redeem him that turns this into an offense.

I'm sorry. It didn't work in Star Wars, where refusing to kill his own son was supposed to redeem the slaughter of children and the extermination of planets. though a fair number of people bought it. It sure as FUCK works less well when you're talking about a real world event. Sorry to invoke Godwin, but it really IS exactly like a story where Hitler is redeemed because he gave one random British girl a flower and said, "Sorry our soldiers killed our dad. Oh, and for that Holocaust thing." And being cheered as having made up for all of it.

You couldn't even look at the daughter of one of the people you executed?

The thing is, all the morals in their Christmas stories have this same over-simple quasi-positive sort of feel. It's fake happiness, created not by actually doing a substantial thing to help the real evils of the world - even when those evils are explicitly brought up - overall, but usually making one gesture to make one individual person feel better.

If they didn't bring up the real scale of the evil in the world -- genocide, warfare, and centuries of hatred -- before they bring up a girl in a bar getting the money she needs to go home, or a man begging forgiveness of a girl for killing her father, the saccharine faux-redemption might pass. But it doesn't, because the scale doesn't match.

I like the music. But I find myself rebelling against the ideas underlying the music. This isn't morality. It's like they don't even understand what good really is.
lenora_rose: (Default)
A more cheerful rant, if such is possible. Inspired by the fact that we're sort of planning another music night, and because Jeff asked, on finding out TSO was sorted under my folder labelled "melodramatic" as "Isn't that a serious understatement?"

I want very hard to like Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

I mean, I quite enjoyed the show last November, and I've collected one of the Christmas albums and both non-Christmas collections. And I do listen to them fairly regularly. I like most of their instrumentals, particularly the classical-based ones (though Tracers, on Night Castle, has a lot less of that, and is darn good) and about 50% of their sung pieces - and the best of the sung pieces can be right up there with the instrumentals.

Then they have the other songs. The ones where they seem to decide that singing the same one-to-five word line fifteen times over is a powerful effect and not a grating one (Bruce Springsteen manages this in Devil's Arcade, but none of the members of TSO have half his strength of expression.)

That they like to sing every single incident as if it were the end of the world, or the height of its saving. When they don't reduce it to snarling vocals, because an evil character like the devil can't possibly sound good. That everything needs to be ornamented or elaborated.

That interrupting an amazing piece of rock opera with a sudden carnival rant doesn't pretty much trash what is otherwise one of the best vocal pieces. (Seriously; I want to get some kind of sound editing software, because I'm pretty sure the rest of the song can be linked together with that bit excised.) (The Carnival effect also compares systematic genocide to the Roman Colosseum. Which is not even on the same SCALE. Nor was it approached with the same intent.)

But the worst are their stories. Every album comes with a story linking the songs. Some of the songs don't make sense without the narration, some would be more universally applicable.

And the stories? Universally suck. They're unsubtle, unrealistic. They want to be hopeful, but they bend reality out of shape to do it, even as they claim to be about being realistic and facing the evils of the world.

Beethoven's Last Night isn't dreadful - Beethoven is being threatened by the devil and reviewing his life. Until it throws in an unnecessary extra bit about a girl (spawninng two of the weakest songs in the whole thing), and a ridiculous extra twist that renders the entire story moot (Done by a character named, to make it even more obvious, Twist). Beethoven gives up his precious Tenth Symphony. It's rescued by a last minute bit of lawyering, and he dies happy and at peace. And the Tenth Symphony is hidden away again the moment his back is turned. And I go, So why did I even bother?

But Night Castle actively offends me. First, you have a man and woman get together and get married and spend literally ONE DAY Together, in which they get married and conceive a child. This grates for a number of reasons. This isn't how real romance works. But I'd let it pass. it's a minor ill.

Then the young man, a Lieutenant, goes to Cambodia, where he dies as a captive of the Khmer Rouge, but not before convincing the Khmer Rouge General, Tran Do, that their slaughter is wrong.

Tran Do, with his new terrible epiphany, realizes he has to make up for what he's done, and for the Killing Fields. So he flees his own camp and his own people, and.

Guess.

Does he:

1) Start helping the people fighting against the Khmer Rouge with inside information?
2) Denounce the Khmer Rouge publicly?
3) Seek to find some other way to save lives?
4) Seek to negotiate a peace?
5) Surrender himself to be tried for his crimes in a world court?
6) Do anything at all useful either to the people dying of war or genocide in Cambodia or to prevent other cases of genocide?
7) Even do something as weirdly random-but-decent like become a doctor and try to save future lives?

NONE OF THE ABOVE.

His entire plan is to free the Lieutenant and send him home. When he finds that the Lieutenant died before he could get back, he goes to America with the Lieutenant's gifts for his child (Which the lieutenant has never seen), seeks out his daughter and asks her forgiveness. Then wanders off to find a possibly mythical castle the lieutenant claimed to have seen, wherein lives a wizard who taught the lieutenant all he knew of goodness, morality, right and wrong, and wisdom in general.

That's it. And he's considered redeemed.

What the fuck kind of epiphany is that?

The songs where Tran Do realises what he's done and become are actually quite powerful. If they went somewhere.

Then. Poof. Nothing. Nada. He seeks redemption by asking a little girl and looking for a wizard. The little girl is of course the perfect clueless innocent of all TSO works, so whatever, but the wizard in the castle, who's supposed to be the pure epitome of wisdom, should have said, "That's the best you can do? Go out there and be useful."

You know, I'd even be okay with him realising he could never be redeemed, but choosing to live a quiet life somewhere, growing plants, not balancing the scales, but at least not making it any worse. It's the fact that they seem to feel that talking to a little girl once actually does redeem him that turns this into an offense.

I'm sorry. It didn't work in Star Wars, where refusing to kill his own son was supposed to redeem the slaughter of children and the extermination of planets. though a fair number of people bought it. It sure as FUCK works less well when you're talking about a real world event. Sorry to invoke Godwin, but it really IS exactly like a story where Hitler is redeemed because he gave one random British girl a flower and said, "Sorry our soldiers killed our dad. Oh, and for that Holocaust thing." And being cheered as having made up for all of it.

You couldn't even look at the daughter of one of the people you executed?

The thing is, all the morals in their Christmas stories have this same over-simple quasi-positive sort of feel. It's fake happiness, created not by actually doing a substantial thing to help the real evils of the world - even when those evils are explicitly brought up - overall, but usually making one gesture to make one individual person feel better.

If they didn't bring up the real scale of the evil in the world -- genocide, warfare, and centuries of hatred -- before they bring up a girl in a bar getting the money she needs to go home, or a man begging forgiveness of a girl for killing her father, the saccharine faux-redemption might pass. But it doesn't, because the scale doesn't match.

I like the music. But I find myself rebelling against the ideas underlying the music. This isn't morality. It's like they don't even understand what good really is.

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