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CURRENT TALLY OF COMPLETED FIC WORDAGE: 410,457
All Star Trek stories are Kirk/McCoy unless otherwise stated.
All Avengers stories are Steve/Tony unless otherwise stated.

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Heading to a conference tomorrow

I'll be speaking at a small symposium called Publishing Feminisms in Banff, which is pretty exciting both because it will be a small group (about thirty people) and it'll be my first international conference. So shiny. I'm worried about overlap with what I'm talking about and what the others in my panel will be talking about, and generally about the cohesiveness of my paper, which probably means I'm going to end up rewriting parts of it tomorrow and Monday nights, and also flailing. Which is cool, I mean, I'm a good speaker, so I'm not worried too much, but I'm a spaz, so I still like to practice.

Unfortunately, it'll be the first conference in a LONG time where I won't have at least one friend to hang out with, so I'm a bit anxious about the socializing part. Doesn't help that I'll be missing the opening reception tomorrow night either (that was my bad, because I overlooked how long it would take the airport shuttle to get there). They assigned me a roommate for cost-saving purposes, so hopefully we'll hit it off; plus it'll help a bit that they are providing most of the meals so it will be all of us in a room eating and chatting. The only thing about that is it sometimes means you have to sit there by yourself and watch everyone ELSE happily chatting away to one another, which is extra anxiety-inducing.

Anyways, fingers crossed, and wish me luck!! <3

Grumpiness

Traveling to a conference on Sunday, and am more or less prepared. But I've had a frustrating week of writing and trying to write, and it's basically just GRR-inducing. And I know I need to just take a Deep Breath and then Get On With It, but it seems like I'm constantly interrupted by Real Life and Other Goings On, and just, like I said, GRR.

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"It’s-A Me, Mary Sue: Why She’s An Important Figure For Fanfic And Fangirls" by Sam Maggs

Maybe part of the reason we hate reading Mary Sue fics now is because they remind us of the very first fics we ever wrote as teenagers (admit it, we’ve all written a Mary Sue fic or seven). While it’s true that a large number of Sues are written by first-time ficcers, the fic community might want to consider helping new writers grow through constructive criticism instead of off-handedly dismissing the fic as a Sue. All other characters in fic are subject to personal scrutiny, so why not leave detailed notes about what could improve the story beyond “Oh, she’s a Mary Sue?” Suggest the need for growth in the main character; a more conflicted love story; better female friendships. Don’t forget, we were all that first-time fic writer once! Being too dismissive of Mary Sues also discourages girls from writing strong, original female characters, and that’s the last thing we need in fiction. Also – it might be worth questioning why we suddenly become so embarrassed about a character that’s basically just a perfect, super-beloved version of us.

Because the Sue is always “perfect,” what exactly makes us hate her so much? Is it that she doesn’t have any flaws? Or that she has the wrong kinds of flaws? Or too many flaws? That she cries all the time and needs to be comforted? That she’s incredibly-powerful and no one can defy her? Is it that she’s way too nice to everyone? Or she’s the most anti-establishment of all the angsty girls on the scene? I’ve seen Sues dismissed for all of these reasons, which honestly makes it seem like we’re just dismissing all original female characters outright. The Sue breaks women out of the nice corner in which lady characters often exist in fiction, and that makes people uncomfortable. Let’s not be those people, okay?
"Helen Cho, Age of Ultron, and Representation Feels" by Nicole Soojong Callahan

With Helen Cho in Age of Ultron, we get an Asian woman in a big-budget major motion picture who:

1) has a name,

2) gets more than thirty seconds of screen time,

3) does not die immediately after being introduced,

4) has no apparent martial arts skills,

5) is neither a math tutor nor a geisha,

6) gets to talk and say smart things — even in a roomful of white characters, who actually shut up for a minute and listen to her when she is explaining her science and why she’s a boss,

7) does not exist solely to give some white lady no one cares about questionable relationship advice, and

8) is not a crime lord and/or running a shady as fuck business out of a big scary warehouse. ...

It shouldn’t feel like such a big deal, and I wish I didn’t have to feel so excited about a character like hers. I wish I could be neutral and reasonable and blasé about media featuring Asian characters who don’t seem like tokens or play to obvious stereotypes, but it’s so rare that I can’t be. Is it getting better? I believe it is — there are certainly more Asians on TV. But after going to see Age of Ultron, I tried to think of other American movies with Asian or Asian American characters that meet all the criteria I mentioned above, and I had a very hard time. It was especially difficult thinking of Asian women whose film characters could pass the test. ...

If this is frustrating for me, just a casual viewer/fan fielding awkward questions from her kid, I can’t imagine how frustrating it is for Asian actors and artists trying to make a living. As great as it was to see Claudia Kim in Age of Ultron, we shouldn’t have to feel so grateful for one role in one movie.

Recipe: Nutella challah

h/t Maureen Caro who adapted it from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.

2 1/4 tsp yeast
2/3 cup warm water
1 tsp honey (I usually use just a bit of sugar)
Proof those in a big bowl
Add-
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup olive oil
2 large eggs (I usually do about a half here, I reserve most of a third egg yolk and some white for the egg wash, the extra bit I put in here)
Mix
Then add 1 1/2 tsp table salt
4 cups bread flour
Knead till its a nice cohesive ball
Oil the bowl and put it back in, I cover it with a damp towel and put it in a pre warmed oven
Rise for an hour or two until doubled
I make the egg wash here- most of an egg yolk and a little white, I like whole milk but cream or water would be fine, just a splash of that. You can put vanilla and sea salt or sugar, I like vanilla although it makes your house smell pleasantly booz

Separate into three cylinders and then flatten them if you're going to put filling in or Nutella, then roll them back into cylinders. There's lots of challah braiding instruction videos on YouTube, I am boring and just make a three strand braid. Oil a cookie sheet or bread stone (I don't have one, I use a cookie sheet) and put the braid on. Brush with egg wash and allow to rise again for about an hour. Mine have been looking fat lately, I think I let them rise too much, so you might not need to do a lot of this.
Brush again, preheat oven to 375. She says to put it in for 35+ minutes, I usually do maybe 15-20 in my oven, it might be a function of our ovens or altitude or something, I don't know. It should look nice and bronze.
Oh and no whole wheat, just bread or all purpose flour, I tried that once and ew nobody ate it.

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My problem not problem

I started writing fic about young Natasha meeting Clint and it sort of became about the awesomeness that is Laura Barton.

Phil immediately pulls a gun and trains it on her with the speed that only the best agents have. “Natasha Romanoff. Do you even know how many crimes you’re guilty of? How much blood you’ve spilled?”

“Probably more than I know,” Natasha answers honestly at the same time Clint says, “Oh my God, Coulson! What have I said about guns in my house?”

“You said no guns. You didn’t say anything about shooting people,” Phil Coulson says.

“Well we’re adding it, right now!” Laura says, and she sounds more angry than scared. “No shooting people in our house. And I swear to God, Phil, if there is blood spilled here then you’re the one who’s going to be cleaning it up,
and I’m telling Melinda.”

Movie Review: The Avengers: Age of Ultron

I went twice before I sat down to write, so: TL;DR I REALLY LIKED IT AND I HAVE A LOT OF FEELS.

All of the spoilers, with analysisCollapse )

Um, I think that's it. That's a lot. But yeah. so. Many. FEELS!

A lot of random things

* I've discovered the Grey Havens Group, a Tolkien-centric fan and book group that meets regularly and geeks, and the people there are lovely and nice, and it's the first time that anything about Colorado has seemed remotely homey.

* I have my Age of Ultron tickets: I'm going by myself Friday morning so that I can have a pure experience before going with the Social Group on Saturday.

* I have discovered the Daredevil kink meme and O. M. G.
(Which, someone on there pointed out that Skye and Matt were at the same orphanage, SO!)

* A ridiculous portion of this week has been allocated to sorting out summer travel. I'm going to Banff next month, Montreal and New York in July, *maybe* CO Springs for Mythcon in August. Plane tickets, shuttle tickets, conference hotels, oy.

* I've gotten galleys on two fandom articles that I have dealt with. Links will be available when they are, uh, available.

* Todd has been agent of chaos geek and has helped me acquire a load of new type and furniture that will be moved with my press this summer. I AM SO EXCITE.

* The second meeting of the SF book club I started is this Sunday, and at least half the people have not finished or read the book, despite how I extended the date TWICE (once for an accountant friend who's life was hell prior to April 15 and once because I wanted to go to the Tolkien symposium). We're reading The Just City by Jo Walton, and we had an Australian vote to pick book, and IDEK the malfunction.

I am very tired today. If I seem cranky blame it on that.

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Flail part deux

So there's a journal that's had an essay of mine for two years, I haven't heard anything from them in exactly a year, I wrote a week ago to be all "sup?" and the editor wrote back a two line email that nonetheless did not answer me! Augh!!

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Frustrated Flailing!!!

1) Waiting to hear whether or not I'm accepted into a conference. Last week they emailed me asking for my CV, which I sent and apologized that I had forgotten, as I assumed I had forgotten to send it with the abstract. Turns out, nope, they didn't request it in the CFP, and a friend of mine who also submitted to the conference has not been asked for her CV, so we are both frustrated and annoyed and just want to know if we are in already. Grr.

2) We also both got waitlisted for courses at RBS this summer. Apparently I am 1-2 slots down the list, so there's hope I may yet get in, but grr.

3) I'm giving a short talk on Tolkien fan history at a local symposium on fantasy lit. It's two days of talks, live music, cosplay, and swordfighting demos, so hopefully it'll be fun. I bought tickets for both me and Scott, only he doesn't want to go, so I offered his ticket to the usual suspects at brunch on Sunday, and everyone else thought it would be boring too and declined. Which, I think I'm mostly annoyed because they are cool with going to see friends perform in bands or doing dance, so I'm not sure why going to a half hour talk is so objectionable. But whatever.

~

In GOOD news:

1) Sent off a book review today.

2) Got a scholarship to cover half my tuition for the typecasting class at the Wells Center I'm taking this summer. So YAY!!!! \o/

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Via the New York Times:

“I can’t say any poems in front of my brothers,” she said. Love poems would be seen by them as proof of an illicit relationship, for which Meena could be beaten or even killed. “I wish I had the opportunities that girls do in Kabul,” she went on. “I want to write about what’s wrong in my country.” Meena gulped. She was trying not to cry. On the other end of the line, Amail, who is prone to both compassion and drama, began to weep with her. Tears mixed with kohl dripped onto the page of the spiral notebook in which Amail was writing down Meena’s verses. Meena recited a Pashtun folk poem called a landai:

“My pains grow as my life dwindles,
I will die with a heart full of hope.”

“I am the new Rahila,” she said. “Record my voice, so that when I get killed at least you’ll have something of me.”

Amail grimaced, uncertain how to respond. “Don’t call yourself that,” she snapped. “Do you want to die, too?”

Rahila was the name used by a young poet, Zarmina, who committed suicide two years ago. Zarmina was reading her love poems over the phone when her sister-in-law caught her. “How many lovers do you have?” she teased. Zarmina’s family assumed there was a boy on the other end of the line. As a punishment, her brothers beat her and ripped up her notebooks, Amail said. Two weeks later, Zarmina set herself on fire.

...

“A poem is a sword,” Saheera Sharif, Mirman Baheer’s founder, said. Sharif is not a poet but a member of Parliament from the province of Khost. Literature, she says, is a more effective battle for women’s rights than shouting at political rallies. “This is a different kind of struggle.”


It's from 2012, but I didn't see it until today.

Sometimes I have feels about type

There is a Fonts & Boobs Tumblr that is what it says it is (NSFW). I am fascinated by it to the point that i'm probably going to end up rewriting the paper I'm giving next month because I am ridiculous.

Hey look, I did something

I sent off an essay to an editor I had promised it to, uh, last year. I'd feel Terrible about this, only it's not due until June 15, so I'm still early, you know? So I'm still only Part Slacker instead of Full Slacker. Which must count for something, right?

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* This year's PCA and the awesome papers and conversations. Also, the sheer relief of talking to people who know me and get me so I don't have to translate to Normal People Speak.

* About Hugogate (is that what we're calling it? What are we calling it?).

* Observations about New Orleans.

* All the things I'm working on slowly, like my diss and trying to finish up an essay about Pacific Rim.

* Observations about weather and depression, and how cold grey days make me borderline nonfunctional and sunny warm ones make me feel borderline manic.

~

I am working on things for people, including elanya. Don't worry, I'm really working on it, I'm just slow!!!!

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Book Review: The Stars Seem So Far Away

Cross-posted at The Future Fire:

Margrét Helgadóttir, The Stars Seem So Far Away. Fox Spirit Books, 2015. Pp. 160. ISBN 978-1-909348-76-9. £5.00.



Margrét Helgadóttir’s debut book is a mosaic novel describing the lives of a disparate group of survivors in a future that seems to be coming closer every day. I read The Stars Seem So Far Away the same week that science reports confirmed that the East Antarctic ice sheets are melting more than previously thought, that the previous year’s worldwide weather temperatures were the hottest on record, and that the Amazon rainforests are starting to fail in soaking up carbon dioxide. Turning from news reports to a science fiction novel about climate collapse was heartening and disheartening at the same time, for Helgadóttir does not ask whether humanity will survive, but how they will do so.

Stars packs fourteen stories into a slim book; they are spare in description and action, but draw their world clearly. The overarching theme is of rescue from isolation, as each character begins his or her journey alone, mulls over the lost past, dodges threats in the present, and ultimately makes contact with another survivor. Four of the stories that fall in this vein, ‘Nora,’ ‘The Rescue,’ ‘Lost Bonds,’ and ‘A Sailor Girl Goes Ashore’ were previously published, and these introduce four of Helgadóttir’s protagonists: Nora, a woman who sails the open sea while avoiding pirates; Simak, a soldier charged with locating survivors and supplies; Bjørg, a young woman with protectors in the form of genetically-engineered polar bears, called isbos; and Aida, a formerly wealthy and protected teenage girl who becomes a refugee twice-over, first through immigration to the North and then through surviving a deadly plague. Zaki, Aida’s older brother, appears in other chapters detailing his adventures.

Some stories are so brief that they lack the build-up necessary for a truly satisfying conclusion. For instance, ‘The Women’s Island’ finds Nora and Aida travelling to an island where they never leave the shoreline as they are greeted by its three inhabitants, an old woman and her two “daughters.” Nora internally marvels that the girls appear to be well-fed and round-cheeked, but she quickly understands that these three are predators not unlike the pirates she eludes, for the true source of both the dried meat offered and the jewelry is human. Nora and Aida quickly retreat and continue their travels. A story that offers such mythic and genre possibilities and is so easily solved almost isn’t a story so much as an anecdote.

‘The End of the World’ suffers from the opposite problem, in that there is so much contained that the story can’t end satisfactorily. Simak and his team are investigating a sighting of a human bonfire when they find a pair of boys who lead them to the remains of what may be an abandoned church of some sort. The walls are decorated with images of animals—which are all but unrecognizable to Simak at first—and people, and there are numerous papers that appear to be a mixture of history and prophecies. The date “2049” is on several of these papers, but it’s unclear what relevance this date has for the characters. The story concludes with the promise that the place will be researched by scientists, and that one of the boys will go back to civilization with Simak. And—there are no further revelations about what these prophecies may indicate, the mystery of the bonfire is dropped, and neither of the boys reappear in the narrative.

The titular story, ‘The Stars Seem So Far Away,’ features Zaki meeting Roar Haugen, an aged former astronaut, who tells of his adventures in space and how the program fell apart due to lack of funding and mounting expenses. Meeting Zaki compels Roar to finally pick up and move away from the crashed airplane that has been his home for years, and they travel together to find a settlement with the last of the space explorers. In the meantime, Zaki contemplates redemption for abandoning his little sister, and they come across other survivors, both benign and not.

The concluding stories chart an abrupt shift from a focus on survival: the main characters become part of a space program to travel to human settlements on other worlds and find new opportunities there. Nora and Bjørg are conflicted about leaving behind the familiarities of home, while Simik, Aida, and Zaki are eager to go forth. This plot seems more hazily sketched in than the others—it’s unclear how the space program functions or what country or settlement runs it, or how, given the scarcity of supplies, it has enough fuel and food. In the final story, ‘Farewell,’ Zoar and the newly introduced Doctor Hege listen as Zaki reports over the radio the shuttle launch and achievement of orbit. Zoar declares that he’s done with adventures even as Hege thinks to herself that she’s not. And so the ending is really just the beginning.

The Stars Seem So Far Away is at times an awkward, freshman effort, but well worth reading, for what it lacks in polished prose it makes up for in vivid imagery. Despite the grimness of the world, it is by no means a dystopia; indeed, considering the wariness each character displays for strangers, the vast majority of people introduced are genuinely good people, and it is underlined over and over again that cooperation and collaboration are the way to survive. The few “bad” characters largely remain undeveloped ciphers, which is, I think, a weakness, but a minor one. I wish the book had been twice its length, the better to explore this world and its people, but in its brevity it manages to become something like a fable for the future, promising rewards for good deeds.

Because Saturday

So a friend of Todd's is selling off his printshop, so we're going in together to buy some type and other stuff. So this is part of the conversation we had this morning:

[comparing lists of typefaces]

Me: You're sure about this one instead of this one?

Todd: I recognize that as the proprietor of Enterprise Press you might have some resistance to a typeface called Romulus, but really.

[I think about IDIC.]

Me: Fair enough. Let's add that one then.
Because I can't embed, here's a link.

Via The Mary Sue.

“Nerds don’t have a problem with women,” said host Larry Wilmore, “they have a problem with change.” He then asked the panelists if the whiny manbabies of the internet are racist, sexist, or just gross gatekeeping nerds, to which Amanat replied, “All of the above.” Killin’ it.

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