February and March Book Roundup

So it isn’t just January, but also February (and March) in which I am falling behind. A great deal of this has to do with the fact that I have been watching TV, which I think they said is bad for you on like, some website or something. Whatevs.

Though, I have been falling asleep faster these days, so after taking a shower, I have been going right to bed instead of reading for 30 minutes because I have this thing where I like to have at least ten minutes of Mary Sue fantasy time for which I am totally unrepentant, and I have been missing it. I need me that 10 minutes of pre-sleep erotic adventures with Luke Skywalker. I am just saying. Luke, I miss you. I only cheated on you with Kyp Durron that one time. Well, and that other time, BUT THAT WAS A THREEWAY.

ANYWAY, the books I have been reading (and listening to) have mostly been nonfiction, and they were books of availability.

The International Bank of Bob: Connecting Our Worlds One $25 Kiva Loan at A Time by Bob Harris.

NOTE: I didn’t finish this book, because while it’s good, it’s too long, and I am tired. Bob, I give out Kiva loans, and I am part of the Nerfherders, thanks to you. Kiva is awesome. Thanks.

Firstly, if you have never read Harris’s other awesome book, Prisoner of Trebekistan, you should because the man is fucking hysterical, and his adventures in prepping, winning, losing and overall exploring Jeopardy! Are amazing. Also, IIRC the man is married to Jane Espenson, so if that isn’t an endorsement of his character, I don’t know what is.

Harris’s main focus is the idea of whether or not Kiva is substantive progress. He travels about talking to people he’s made Kiva loans to (without divulging his loaning) to see what they can accomplish, because really, the movement out of large scale poverty is an interesting one. American poverty is, arguably, different from some other foreign kinds, etc etc. He does have some hits and misses. He manages to describe the lives of people using Kiva loans in varying ways. Sarejevo in particular, was pretty fascinating, because I just don’t read enough about that area.

It’s interesting to see the different uses of this money, and the general idea that microfinance is in some ways more empowering than simple one-time donations. Harris doesn’t shy away from failures in microfinance, from the fiasco of Andhra Pradesh’s SKS (when microfinance tries to be “macro”finance with shareholders) to the sad failure of SELFINA (rushed expansion was the reason here).

Ultimately, what Harris does a really good job with is the painting of human lives—people who are more than willing to work, to learn, but just need a boost (though saying it that way, from my position in a FWC, sounds horribly dismissive). The educational help that comes with microfinance, along with the dollars. I am sure that it’s not always going to work, but it’s a great idea.

So, a few things passages I liked:

On Being A Freelancer:

Freelancing is a constant search for work, and this Kiva idea was just one of many. Since rejection is constant, you learn to hit “Send” and move on to the next thing immediately. And in the rare moment that any idea actually happens, hallelujah, you focus on that one and dive in as hard as you can.

[…]

Looking back at my calendar, in the week where I first heard about Kiva, I was also floating a book idea about the growth of international sport as a mechanism for peace, which didn’t pan out; corresponding with Hollywood film producers who were adapting an earlier book for the screen, which didn’t pan out (Hollywood, you should know, is like a pit of vipers, but with more vipers); and hoping to get rehired for the third season of a Mexican telenovela where I’d worked as asesor de producción, which didn’t pan out.

What I like about this is that I often need reminders that freelancing has a lot of rejection. Having been rejected from presses for editing test fails, or just not getting an editing job, I sometimes want to stick my face in the toilet and flush it really hard. This isn’t something I should do, hygiene being not the least of reasons. Instead, I should eat a half a bag of Combos and send about three more emails. Thanks, Bob.

On the phrase “3rd world countries”:

The phrase “3rd world” […]is a Cold War phrase worth discarding: the West was First, the Soviet bloc the Second, and everyone else was Third. Since that’s the vast majority of humanity, the term is falling into wide disuse. Unfortunately, well-known alternatives are few. “Developing world” and its variants are at least widely understood, albeit while implying that poor countries are like teenagers, hoping someday to reach maturity with bigger houses and bosoms and Walmarts. I’d like to disclaim the paternalistic vibe. While we’re on it, calling industrialized countries “the West” is equally clumsy[.] Apologies to Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, and so on.

On listening to Kiva’s JD give his speech to the Fellows who are about to volunteer in foreign countries:

I was reminded of the wizened mentor character in so many boxing or fantasy films, the one who trains talented recruits by breaking down their habits and emotional armor before building new, better heroes. There was a lot in common. Wizened mentors often have beards. So did JD. Wizened mentors have learned from hard experience. JD had volunteered for the Peace Corps and has worked in rural Bulgaria, Mongolia, and Columbia. Wizened mentors offer helpful aphorisms that reveal the nature of the entire struggle to come:

Yoda from Star Wars: “Do or do not—there is no try.”
Morpheus from The Matrix: “I didn’t say it would be easy, Neo—I only said it would be the truth.”
JD from Kiva: “Trust me—this is really going to suck.”

It might just be my complete lack of reading interest these days that made me put the book down 70 pages short of the end. If it’s something you are curious about, I recommend it. Its’ not the writing (though I think his use of footnotes gets very tedious. I don’t mind good footnotes. I like them for comedic value, but sometimes it made following a number-heavy narrative difficult)—the writing is fine. I even like that he addresses the hinky racial implications of his “privileged white dude traveling around to research where his money went” concept, which I think could be used to write off portions of the book if he wasn’t so hyper-aware of it and attempting to expand beyond that. He talks to a lot of microfinance people in every location. He’s super-invested in the concept of microfinance, and while visiting his loan-ees is something he’s curious about, it’s not an ends to a means.

Professor Moriarty: Hound of the D’Urbervilles by Kim Newman

What it says on the tin: “Imagine the twisted evil twins of Holmes and Watson and you have the dangerous duo of Prof. James Moriarty – wily, snake- like, fiercely intelligent, unpredictable – and Colonel Sebastian ‘Basher’ Moran – violent, politically incorrect, debauched. Together they run London crime, owning police and criminals alike. Unravelling mysteries — all for their own gain.”

I listened to this one, and the narrator is fantastic, Tom Hodgkins. The framing device, “oh this is a found manuscript of Sebastian Moran, I shall publish it” is brilliant, as it has the chance to mirror, darkly, Watson’s story telling method, and everything is hysterically crass and horrible. It’s amazing. Irene Adler has a Jersey accent. Moran calls his favorite sexual tactic the “Basher Moran Special”. And the titles: A Volume in Vermillion, A Shambles in Belgravia, The Red Planet League, The Hound of the D’Ubervilles, The Adventure of the Six Maledictions, The Greek Invertebrate, The Problem of the Final Adventure. Sound familiar?

To be sure once again, Volume in Vermillion is STILL ABOUT MORMONS and therefore very boring. Some of them start out clever and then get a little too complicated or bogged down in silliness (Red Planet League, in particular), and apparently Newman LOVES to use the word “oscillating” to refer to Moriarty’s head movements, but meh. The Final Adventure is particularly clever in its handling of the Final Problem, obviously, and Moran always has a lot to say about how idiotic Holmes and Watson are. Moriarty certainly paints Holmes in a different light. Particularly of note is Newman’s mimicry, especially the Belgravia section, in which like Holmes always referring to Adler as that woman, Moriarty always refers to her afterward as that bitch.

In any case, the voice alone is worth a read/listen.

Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker

This was lying about in paperback form, and I stupidly read it at night, fueling a month’s worth of nightmares. I wouldn’t say it’s a good book. It’s a sensational book. Douglas (with the help of Olshaker) is trying to tell his story, and he does that, so while critics chide this book for its braggadocio, it’s not unreasonable for Douglas to give his life story. It’s HIS book. Later books of his talk more exclusively about cases, but this was the first one, and maybe he felt like he needed to tell his life story in the frame of the unit formation. Whatever the case, I don’t think that’s out of line with the book mission. (I think it’s also worth noting that what the average American in this case knows about FBI profiling these days, even if it’s just based off TV, is a shitload more than ze might know in 1995.)

Douglas goes over a lot of cases, and almost a month after I read it, I am hard-pressed to remember one, but I did earmark a few passages that I thought were interesting, particularly in reference to words that we often bandy about, like “psychotic” and “psychopath”.

True Psychotics—those who have lost touch with reality—don’t commit serious crimes very often. And when they do, they are usually so disorganized and make so little attempt to avoid detection that they are generally caught fairly quickly. Richard Trenton Chase, who killed women because he thought that he needed their blood to stay alive, was a psychotic. If he couldn’t get human blood, he’d settle for what was at hand. When Chase was placed in a mental institution, he continued to catch rabbits, bleed them, and inject their blood into his arm. He would catch small birds, bite off their heads, and drink their blood. This one was for real. But for a killer to avoid detection and get away with ten murders, he has to be pretty good at it. Don’t make the mistake of confusing a psychopath with a psychotic.

And

Bill Tafoys, the special agent who served as our “futurist” at Quantico, advocated a minimum of a ten year commitment of money and resources on the magnitude of what we sent to the Persian Gulf. He calls for a wide-scale reinstatement of Project Head Start, one of the most effective long-term, anticrime programs in history. He doesn’t think more police are the answer, but he would bring in “an army of social workers” to provide assistance for battered women, homeless families with children, to find good foster homes. And he would back it all up with tax incentive programs.

I’m not sure this is the total answer, but it would certainly be an important start. Because the sad fact is, the shrinks can battle all they want, and my people and I can use psychology and behavioral science to help catch the criminals, but by the time we get to use our stuff, the severe damage has already been done.

Considering that this book was from 1995, that’s an interesting assessment.

Law & Disorder by the same authors is more interesting, because it focuses on specific cases for much longer: Jonbenet Ramsey, Amanda Knox, the West Memphis 3, etc. It spends a lot of time on each case, and also on general philosophical questions of capital punishment and the miscarriage of justice.

Douglas is obviously pro-death penalty, with stipulations, but his issue with it is the way in which it is applied to cases—some crimes of passion merit the DP while others do not.

And the description of Katie Sousa, when she visits the medical examiner’s to see thebody of her murdered child, Destiny:

They had Katie go into a viewing room and brought Dee’s body, cold from refrigeration, covered by a sheet. She was not content just to see her daughter’s bruised face and the dotted puncture wound on her scalp, where he plastic barrette literally had been driven into her skull when Miller smashed her head with a heavy wooden jewelry box, ostensibly to punish her for “mouthing off” to him.

She described for us how she told them to remove the sheet. She wanted to examine Dee’s naked body, inch by inch, from the top of her skull to the soles of her feet. She spent about forty-five minutes doing this. She wanted to understand—to experience—everything that had been done to this innocent child. She needed to take the suffering and pain onto herself and make it hers. With her little girl dead, this was the only way she felt she could go on living.

Carrol Ellis, who was then director of the Victim Services Section of the Fairfax County, Virginia Police Department, likened it to the image of the Pieta. “I still see in my mind this Madonna with child in this private moment, seeing her child’s wounds with her own eyes.”

Yeah, he got me.

And I love when Douglas comes out and calls things what they are: “We pay a lot of attention to the specter of domestic terrorism these days, but lynching was an accepted and tolerated method of terrorism against blacks throughout the south for a hundred years.”

Anyway, you can juxtapose what he thinks about the Ramsey case with what Cyril Wecht says and still not come to a conclusion. The West Memphis Three is a long portion of the book that covers the beginning to release, and it’s a prime example of shitty police work and jurisprudence. The Amanda Knox case is interesting because he produces good arguments for her innocence, not least for me is the complete batshittery of the prosecution’s case (Mignoni is obsessed with wimmens doing Satanic witchcraft, no serious. This is a Thing with him, which you see again in Monster of Florence by Mario Spezi and Douglas Preston).

A good running listen, though honestly, if you have kids, there are some things you do not want to dwell on if you have a vivid imagination.

Jason by Laurell K. Hamilton I have already said my bit about this travesty in my goodreads review, so I’ll just post it here:

I have a theory about Laurell K Hamilton: After she wrote the first 8 books, she hit her head and got amnesia, and was permanently arrested as a 16 year old. In an attempt to get her memory back, she read the first 8 Anita Blake books. It didn’t trigger her memory, but it did make her a SUPERFAN of her own work, and so she kept writing, not realizing that everything after book 8 is a bad fanfic.

If these books were on AO3, they’d say Part 400/???.


Anita Blake books, before and after Goldie Hawn amnesia.

The current book has 4 audio sections. At the end of section 1 (1:07 hours), we have covered NOTHING. I mean, NOTHING. We have talked about relationships for an hour, in such a way that after every sentence I audibly mumble “Oh my god.”

I mean, I have read all the previous books. I edit erotica and porn for a living. I have written things kinkier than anything Anita will ever do. It’s not the content. I don’t even mind the Cast Of Thousands.

It’s the writing. The writing is FUCKING HORRIBLE. You know how sometimes you say, “I can’t even pick a favorite part because I would just have so many?” It’s the same thing when trying to nail down a bad sentence/section. And I listened to it, so it was like being held hostage–I couldn’t skip pages.

I can’t say why I finished it. Probably because I am a completest, but Jesus.

What a giant travesty is that in the right hands these books would be sexy, hot romping adventures with plot, intrigue, poly love, and the supernatural (we know this because see the first few books), but it never will be.

OKAY, SO THAT’S MY FEB/MARCH READING.

BOOKS I READ BUT DIDN’T REVIEW: The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer, because meh.
BOOKS I REREAD, BECAUSE THAT IS NOT CHEATING: Star Wars Legacy of the Force: #1 Betrayal by Aaron Allston, and #3 Tempest by Troy Denning. I WOULD have read #2 Bloodlines, by Karen Traviss because that is my favorite, but it is lost SOMEWHERE IN MY HOUSE, SO I HAD TO SKIP THE BOBA FETT LOVE. FUCKBEARS.

Hopefully I will be more productive In April, but I doubt it. I am in non-reader mode this year, despite that I continue to purchase books from indie and fav authors like paper is going to be outlawed.

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Thoughts about suicide

I don’t normally put trigger warnings on shit, for reasons that I am too exhausted to talk about, but I will admit that I can see how this might be upsetting in a sense, so please, if you are one of those people who might get all upset about suicide, don’t read this. It’s better for you, and better for me.

Dear Tianyu,

I think I’m a little pissed at you this year. Not because of all the stuff that I should be pissed at you for—making a decision, ending shit, missing out on crap, though yeah, I am sure you would have liked a bunch of stuff that’s happened in the last nine years, but also because I feel guilty for being sad that YOU missed this crap. Like I should feel bad for YOU. What I really want is to feel bad for ME, and I feel guilty about that. So a bunch of thoughts in no order.

1. Your kid is awesome, but it becoming increasingly obvious that she is missing you. I mean, I could be the greatest mom ever, but she is aware that you are not here. The other night I ALMOST told her what you did, but I thought you know what? No. Let her have a few more years not knowing that you did this of your own free will, because finding out that your dad plugged himself rather than be with you (which, all arguments aside, is what it looks like. It doesn’t matter what you intended, a. I got pregnant, b. You killed yourself—you can do your own PR on that, graveside) isn’t something that ISN’T going to fuck you up a little, and she has enough to worry about (and she does worry. About EVERYTHING.)

2. The Avengers was pretty fucking cool. Seriously, there’s a lot of cool shit out here now, and you would probably hate most of it, and then love the rest. Phones and touchscreens and all that shit? You would have hated that. *I* hate it. A lot. I also hate Twitter, though I say I love it in my ephemeral moments of entertainment.

3. I wonder what you would think of gun rights now. Because I think you would have changed your mind. I did, and that’s after about four years of defending them even after your death, so it’s not about that.

4. Financially, I am fine. I don’t have a house, but Jesus, who wants a house. I get that now. I mean, yeah, we could have built a projection room, but that’s just stuff, and none of that really fucking matters in the long and short of things, really.

5. But I was thinking about how things are different since you died, and it hit me, as I scrolled past news and shit, that one of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is that the world gets better. It doesn’t. Not really. Once you get over or forget about a problem, or if by some miracle it’s fixed (and that’s really only about 10% of things), there’s a whole new crop of shit to be upset by. I used to agree with an old X-Force/X-Factor quote that some people weren’t happy unless they’re kvetching, but the truth is that no one is happy even when they’re kvetching, and that’s most of the time; and if they are happy, it’s because they’ve managed to block out all of the shit that’s upsetting (or they are a Zen monk—I think those guys aren’t for real, man.), so it’s not really gone. They just aren’t listening. Maybe I should just move to a shack in the woods.

6. I have a suicide plan. Oh, don’t get all stroppy.

And by that I mean readers, now, because I pretty much said what I wanted to say to Tianyu, and really, he’s not here, so there’s no point in talking to him anyway.

A long time ago I read this Nietzsche quote: “The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets through many a dark night.”

Now I have always been depressed. Who knows what the fuck the reason is—genetic, probably. I have tried medications, and I am one of the lucky few in which they work, but when I go off them, I have a period of about 6 months of okay before whatever chemical bullshit makes my brain haywire starts again, and then it’s a matter of time management before I have to go back on them, because I manifest physical symptoms of anxiety.
If I didn’t have the anxiety, I would never medicate the depression, because I LIKE the depression. It’s not PC. I don’t play my depression for points (#notallpeoplewhotalkaboutdepression), and while I sometimes write about it, it’s not something I talk about. I don’t like quantifying it. I know a lot of people suffer with it. I am not one of those people.

I like my depression because I write better on it. I slow down. Okay, sometimes I sleep a little too much, but not really. Because mine is cyclical. It comes in waves—I have a few weeks of HATING everyone, of utter meh numbness tired crap, but it’s not a problem because I know that in a month or two I will not feel that way at all. It’s an intellectual exercise, recognizing that it will get better. It almost always gets better. I could go on and on and talk about depression, but it’s tedious and boring, like explaining Game of Thrones to anyone.

Several years ago I was in one of my phases and I was upset about….something something internet and I decided that I was going to delete all my internet stuff, then I was going to clean my basement, and then I was going to kill myself. Well, I said that in my head, but it was more of a “they’ll ALL BE SORRY” thing, which is less about suicide and more about having a tantrum. So I got a bottle of wine and started organizing my basement, convinced that when I was done, my house would be in order and I could just take a header off the Westinghouse Bridge or summat.

But see, the basement never got clean. It got cleaner, but not to my satisfaction. I have boxes of books to give to the library, see, before I could POSSIBLY kill myself. I have to burn all these fucking teenage notebooks, and edit everything I leave behind. I have filing cabinets in the upstairs that need to be sorted, and clothes to give away. I have SHIT. TO. DO.

Because it’s not about the killing myself. It’s controlling my own existence. Because really, at this point, it’s one of the only things I have that I can control.

I can’t control anything about my kid that matters, not really. I can’t do anything about stuff that’s “important”, like racism, or my taxes, or going to war in Syria, or even what laws the governor passes. Blah blah, lemme skip ahead because this is boring.

I have a whole suicide plan, and I find it comforting because I’m not sure I would ever use it. Like Nietzsche, I find thinking about it comforting. It reminds me of Robert Fulghum’s yearly practice of visiting his own gravesite with a folding lawn chair—I feel at peace with the knowledge that if I wanted to, I could wrest control of all of this and have the final say in what I and my body do and go, because pretty much everything else in this world is incomprehensible.

The trick of getting depressed and starting to clean the basement (it’s a thing. I do it a lot now), is that I inevitably start to feel better about life by cleaning the basement. I am Getting Shit Done. Things are cleaner. Outlook: improved. Abort suicide plan—let’s go to Denny’s for a breakfast skillet. Then the basement goes untouched until the next bout. And in that time, the basement gets cluttered with crap I toss down there—boxes and tools, and all that shit, not to mention the dust and kitty litter that settles everywhere, and the boxes I reopen to get at things, and the stuff that’s STILL not boxed because I haven’t got around to it yet. I have shelves to buy and that filing cabinet upstairs STILL has tax forms in it from 2001.

So yeah, I have a plan, knowing that it’s not a plan, though sometimes I really mean it. And in those times, like now, I really do feel better thinking about it. I am going to slip away somewhere, quietly. It’s not going to be a fanfare or an announcement. I might leave a note for my kid. Actually, I will leave a note for my kid, because I know from experience that NOT LEAVING NOTES IS BAD.

Anyway, it’s okay to think about that and say it, because odds are I would never do it. I’ve planned myself out of it. Maybe in the past, when I didn’t have a kid, and I didn’t understand where my cycles were or when I hadn’t thought long and hard about what I would be leaving behind with my house the way it is. Maybe when I was younger. You are more impulsive when you’re younger. Or maybe I never really meant it ever.

But I like to think about it. Today, at least.

Ps: I am not talking about this in person or over the phone.

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Sometimes Memes Are Just Nice

So the other day, someone posted on of those memes, you know the ones we all used to love to do in emails: “86 things you would never guess about me except for the fact that you might because I am so fucking predictable” or something like that. I’ve always been kind of fond of those things, but only if they’re done properly.

It takes me a long time to do these memes, because well. So really, I only get through about 8 questions before I get bored. So.

Eleven Questions that are answered in such a way that you will never want to read the other eleventy billion (part 1 of question mark)

When you looked in the mirror this morning what was the first thing you thought?

My kid better be getting out of bed.

 

You can press a button that will make any one person explode. Who would you blow up?

Who the fuck wrote this meme? Seriously?

Okay okay, aside from Hitler, because duh, that’s everyone’s go-to answer FOR OBVIOUS REASONS (and you know, like Idi Amin or Pol Pot, etc. etc., I don’t think I can safely say that there is anyone I would “blow up” or otherwise kill in any way.

It’s because I watched Star Wars the other day (drunk, as you may recall), and they blew up Alderaan.

I want to start this thing with the caveat that I am not trying to convince anyone to see my position as right or wrong. I’m not interested in a debate over whether or not my reasoning is solid. I don’t want any “moralsplaining” in the comments. Mostly because I’m working on this on my own, and I am okay if you have your own beliefs, but there’s a point in which the starting point determines the following point, and I suspect that anyone who has a different following point doesn’t always have the same starting point.

So I have seen this movie like a billionty times. I am a geek (not like a walking Wookiepedia or anything, but I know some shit. I can also rap MC Chris’s Fett’s Vette pretty much in real time, so I am fun at parties. If…you know….that was something you wanted to do at a party.) It’s sad what happens to Alderaan. They blow up Leia’s home world. They kill a bunch of people. Man, that Empire sucks. And then the story moves on, and while the books often deal with Leia’s issues over losing Alderaan, they’re her issues, how it makes her feel. She lost family and millions of people died, but it’s almost too much to process.

And the joker who made it all happen?

This jackanape right here.

So for the first time in my life it occurred to me that when Alderaan blew up, it meant that millions of people died, not unlike blowing up a smaller earth (or a larger Earth, as I don’t actually know how big Alderaan was. You know, because we’re talking about a real planet that totally happened. You wouldn’t know about it. IT WAS A LONG TIME AG IN A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY). That those were people (they weren’t. I know this is fantasy), and that they just ceased to be, with all their issues.

If someone blew up earth right now, all the shit we’re embroiled in—our own lives, the political struggles, the race issues and terrorism etc. etc.—it would just be gone.

In the end, what it really made me do was stare at Tarkin with a kind of mute horror. It’s not that I am desensitized to the death aspect of it, because in some ways you have to be, but that I never considered just what a monster that makes Tarkin. I was always like, “Well duh, he’s a bad guy”, and bad guys do these things.

Conversely, I have grown up in a culture in which we endorse shooting and killing the bad guys. Sometimes we shoot them in the chest with a revolver. Sometimes they fall off a building in slow motion. Sometimes we just inject them with a chemical that until recently we were pretty sure was painless and quick.

I don’t know now about all that. Maybe I can still go for the heat of the moment killing, because it needs to be done. Maybe I can still go for state execution, because of Reasons that are too long to list here. But what I DO know is that I don’t feel comfortable anymore arbitrarily referring to violent deaths as part of a fantasy such as “who would you blow up?” when referring to real people. I have no issue killing those bloody puppets n Devil May Cry. They’re Bloody Puppets. But asking me to pick a real person, even if it’s someone who deserves it, makes me wonder when I decided that it was okay for me, personally, to pronounce death on someone just because I am a “good guy” and they are a “bad guy”.

I dunno. Moff Tarkin totally made me think about all this.

But you know if I had to, then yeah, Hitler. Totally Hitler.

 

Who would you really like to just punch in the face?

Okay, so I admit that while I wouldn’t blow anyone up, there are quite a few people whose inverted faces I think about. Most of them are people I don’t know personally, which I guess is what makes it acceptable. And if I were ever to meet any of these people I would never punch them. Unless they punched me first, which, I can see how they might, if they were trapped in a bar with me and I was playing Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town” about fifty times in a row.

And then I guess I would be asking for it.

BUT, all that said, I guess I’d like to punch a few politicians, and a few religious leaders, and a few celebrities who act like they are either one of those. And if we are talking fictional characters, I really just want to punch Delores Umbridge, for OBVIOUS REASONS.

Also, Hitler.

 

If anyone could be your slave for a day, who would it be and what would they have to do?

For reasons that I outlined (or may not have outlined) two questions ago, I don’t think this is a fair question to ask, and suggesting that we still think slavery, even in jest or figuratively as something we can toss about (I used to joke about slave labor re: my child, because hey, but now I don’t. You evolve through language, like how I no longer joke about selling her the gypsies. We can all learn something about language editing, and it’s not oppression to suggest you do so.). ANYWAY, What I would like, is money to hire someone to clean my house.

Like, seriously, how much would it cost to hire about five people to come to my house and scrub it from top to bottom? I also want them to totally organize every drawer in the kitchen and bedrooms and totally organize my basement with shelving and stuff. I think it would take weeks if one person did it, so I need like fifteen people to do it in one day. How much would that cost? I could NEVER afford it. I want that money.

 

You can erase any horrible experience from your past. What will it be?

You would think I would go for my husband’s death, but I have made peace with that. Instead, let’s go back about 3 years.

I hosted a party in which MUCH drinking was taking place. Aside from the designated drivers, everyone who could drink had been downing beer all night, and I am sure it is safe to say that there were no buzzed people there, only Zuul. Eventually, I called it quits and told everyone to lock up as they left. Later I learned the following: 2 very drunk individuals had an altercation in which one groped the other in a highly suggestive way. Well, you know, less suggestive and more groped. The gropee called me the next day about it, as they were unfamiliar with the groper. I asked if ze wanted me to say something to the groper and was told no, and that it was just “weird” because they didn’t know the groper well. Also, not gonna lie, mitigating circumstances about the scenario made me take this admission at face value.

I know, I should have seen something there, but I didn’t.

I consulted with friends of the groper and they were mystified, too. We let the matter drop, because I was not instructed to take it further.

The thing is, the gropee was triggered by events that night and reacted badly once ze got home. Ze’s partner saw this and said nothing. Four months later the groper becomes involved with another friend. They are married now and groper is a permanent fixture in my circle of friends. Gropee’s partner waits months before unleashing a rail against me for protecting a rapist.

I am not gonna lie—I wish I had pulled groper aside after this and said, “I know you were fucking plastered, but what you did was SO NOT OKAY, and something needs to be done,” but I didn’t see it. The one person who did know the extent of the issue (aside from gropee, who understandably, may not have wanted to say anything, and I totes get that) didn’t say anything until months and months later. No one who was there (the gropee’s partner was not at the party) was aware of the extent of the issue.

In the end, it cost me the friendship of the gropee and ze’s extremely irate partner, and the groper is still here. I don’t even know if ze’s even aware that it was this big a deal to this day, but it’s been 3 years, and I lost two good friends for someone I just consider an acquaintance. Mutual friends between the three of us have had to pick a side. One of the friends who chose me said recently that she knew where she would go in the divorce. At this point, even our friends who stayed with me pretty much lost 2 friends too, and it makes me sick.

So yeah, if I could go back and erase anything, it would ever be going up to bed that night. For everyone’s sake.

 

The Celestial Gates of Beyond have opened, much to your surprise because you didn’t think such a thing existed. Death appears. As it turns out, Death is actually a pretty cool entity, and happens to be in a fantastic mood. Death offers to return the friend/family-member/person/etc. of your choice to the living world. Who will you bring back?

These questions are always painfully obvious in my scenario. So instead I want to talk about that fucking Adam Sandler movie about the fucking remote control and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, seasons 5 and 6.

Click was released in June of 2006, and my husband died in April of the same year. I was watching a lot of TV, and so it was impossible to miss the trailers.

I have never seen Click, so I don’t know if it is good (according to Rotten tomatoes, it’s not very), but the tagline was irresistible to me: “What would you do if you had a universal remote that controlled your universe?”

As you can tell, it made quite an impression on me.

The thing is, the last things you want to be thinking about when you are contemplating losing a loved one to a violent death or an accident, something that is not a disease or old age, something that is kind of preventable, say, is fantasy things that can never ever exist, because in your dreams, you already play it over and over again.

I am not blaming the movie. It’s just a movie, and its presence in my universe has more to do with the fact that the universe doesn’t revolve around the events in my life, a lesson that I wish more people were acutely aware of on a daily basis (re: themselves). But the suggestion that one could go back and forth in time, change things, is obviously appealing even if you don’t have a tragic death in your life (see last question and answer).

And a year later, when I rewatched Buffy, you all know where I am gonna go here. They bring Buffy back from the dead. And at a great price, and I took a lot of time to think about that, too. Because it’s right there on the screen in front of me, as fantastical as it is, and you just Can’t Stop Thinking About It.

But then see, Buffy talks about the bad things that happen when you bring someone back from the dead (they do it when Joyce died, too), but even then, no biggie, it’s a nether creature the gang tales care of.

Then you have to consider the Monkey’s Paw, or any number of other books and stories out there that posit what happens when you return people from the dead. And in the end, you have to actually, non-hypothetically (because you are seriously in mourning for a dead person) shut the door on fantasy, not because it’s not possible, but because even in your fantasies in which it is possible to raise the dead, you shouldn’t. There’s a system to death, a place that it has in existence, and while I am not religious, I honestly believe that dealing with loss is just as important as any other thing in life, and in the end, you start to make peace with loss by putting away the fantasy of raising the dead.

So my answer is Hitler. So we could kill him again.

 

What was your last dream about?

Every night I have a variation of three dreams. Each one involves the last two question and answer scenarios.

 

Are you a good….[insert anything you’d like here]?

Panda bear? You said “insert anything”.

No. I would say that I am not, in fact, a good panda bear. Well, okay, Maybe it depends on what we mean by “good”. Do you mean “am I a reasonable example of what a panda should be?” Then no. Am I, should I be a panda bear, a morally upright one? Like the opposite of “bad” or “evil”? Well then, I guess, since I am not a panda bear, I can’t very well be a good or bad one, but even if I was, I am probably not a very good anything most of the time, so no on that too.

Well, okay. I don’t set puppies on fire. I try my best. I’m okay. I’m an okay panda bear.

Except for, you know, not being a panda bear.

Your questions suck.

 

Have you ever been admitted to the hospital?

Several times! Obviously to have a baby (#notallbirthingscenarios), but even more exciting is the story of that one time I had a horrible brain tumor named Mearl, and consequently decided not to sue a former doctor even though I totally could have because that is not how litigation is supposed to work in an ethical society.

But I have told that story so many times that it’s super boring to relate. Instead I could tell you about how I was an otherwise healthy 25 year old who had a serious medical issue that required over 50K of medical costs, but because I had insurance coverage it didn’t pretty much ruin my life like that would have if I had been uninsured.

I could do one of those sidebar things I like to do about how it’s important to have insurance even when you are young and healthy, because you never know what’s lurking in your innards, or when that Guinness truck is gonna decide to hump your Volvo at 60 MPH on the interstate. I would mention that while I got my insurance from my employer of the time, I now have insurance through the exchange, and that I feel comforted knowing that I can actually afford to pay for insurance that I never know if and when I might need, because having a scar like that down the back of your skull is a constant reminder of how fragile your body really can be.

But in the end, I would probably just tell you about the moral of the story, which is actually that if you have a scar that looks like a zipper down the back of your neck, and your tell your 5 year old daughter that it’s a zipper so you can unzip your skin, take it off and put it in the washing machine when it gets dirty, she will freak the fuck out.

But years later, you will have a great story to tell when you answer a meme that says, “HAVE U EVER BEEN IN THE HOSPITAL ANSWER YES OR NO CHECK ONE” and then draws three little boxes like kids’ love notes in grade school, one for “yes” one for ” no”, and one for “maybe” despite that the instructions tell you to check yes or no, because that is how first graders roll in the relationship game, people.

So maybe. Maybe I have been in the hospital.

 

Have you ever built a snowman?

Fuck you, Olaf.

 

What is the color of your socks?

How is this supposed to tell you anything about another person? This question is the busywork of memes.

Am I supposed to feel better about sharing myself with the internet? Is this question akin to instagramming my food when I only have a following of like three people, and two of them are my parents and the other one is that creeper whose avatar is a horsehead and who keeps asking me about foot pictures?

Red. My socks are red, creeper man. Stop asking for toe pics.

There you have it. Some day when I am starved for more material I’ll think of something else.

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Apparently, no meaning CAN be found, my padawan learners.

Last week’s “unpopular opinions” was such a smash hit that I decided to whine about more shit, this time pissing off a lot of authors. HAVE FUN!

I LITERALLY HAVE NOTHING MORE TO SAY TODAY.

LITERALLY.

FIGURATIVELY. WE NEED A WORD THAT MEANS SORT OF LITERALLY, SORT OF FIGURATIVELY. FIGURALLY.

I FIGURALLY HAVE NOTHING MORE TO SAY.

MAYBE.

1. DUBSTEP IS AWESOME AND IF I COULD MAKE IT MY LIFE SOUNDTRACK I WOULD. When I watch mimes doing their routines, I automatically think they are playing dubstep in their heads.

2. I would have thought by now that all religious groups would have given up on insisting that there’s a Gay Agenda. This is an unpopular opinion because not only have they not given up on it, but no one I know is surprised that they’re still pushing it. I guess it’s just my optimistic goddamn view of humanity that they might learn just how fucking silly they sound then they say it. Like calling a bagel “baaaa-gil”. Recently when talking about how professed “progressives” still fail, as a large percentage to get understand how intersectionality works or why it might be a good idea, I referred to myself as Charlie Brown, always, ALWAYS believing that Lucy’s gonna hold that football in place, but of course, no.

3. The more I am exposed to any conversation about genres, the more I want to roll my eyes. I am so fucking sick of genre fiction discussions. Like that we had to create YA for another set of life makes me lol even more. And don’t get me wrong, it has nothing to do with the quality of the books that makes me sigh. It’s the way we as a whole society of people make smaller and smaller labels for things. And then we talk about the labels for those things and then we argue about who is allowed to call what what and etc etc, and what qualifies, and then here comes the person who scoffs at people who read said genre labeled X and then we get a flurry of people defending X. It is ridiculous. And if you are upset and say, “Well then don’t read these posts/discussion/genres!” Then I direct you to 1. I don’t. But I see it on my twitter feed enough that I have formed this opinion.

And here’s a good example.

4. I don’t think we should EVER want another season of Firefly. Aside from the fact that it’s been, like 13 fucking years or something, I don’t think it could ever live up to what fandom wants without being a horrible referencing sad piece of crap. Stop arguing that you want it, because you really effing don’t. And if after all that thought, you still want it, then I, like Nina Garcia, fashion director of Marie Claire, question your taste level.

I could get behind a Firefly Holiday Jamboree Special, though. And the holiday is like, Arbor Day.

5. I am getting really sick of people saying “the reason is because”. NO, THE REASON IS THAT. THAT. THE REASON IS THAT. JESUS. AND STOP PUTTING THE SHIT IN THE COFFEE.


An article about me.

6. It has never occurred to me to not read something because it is in a certain tense or POV. I mean, seriously? You’re looking at that? I get that people have “preferences” meaning they have things that are either less difficult or more pleasurable for them to read, but all these authors who complain about low readership? Maybe people are just passing on your book because they have decided not to give it a chance because it’s in the “wrong” tense. And I mean that when I sit down to read a book, I register the tense that it is in at the start as, “Oh, okay, first person present.” ::popcorn::

Reading has never been for me something in which I have to be catered to (unless it’s guilty pleasure reading, and then my standards are sometimes so low that poorly done tense/POV hardly matters—two octopus men are fucking and fighting crime while eating Pringles, and the author still cannot keep from switching back and forth between past and present. IT IS GLORIOUS. Shut up). To me, a book is a set table that I come to, not a table that sets itself for my convenience, like some fucking magical Disney castle.

An author picks a tense for myriad reasons, same with POV. Some do it arbitrarily, and some do it for specific reasons, from immediacy, to narrative tone etc. etc. blah. And the fact of the matter is, one POV or tense actually isn’t better than another one—rather it’s about how that technique is created. Is Baroque any better than Cubism? Probably not. That’s not precisely an even parallel. Is acrylic any better than tempura? Not really. But I have seen some shitty tempura works and some great acrylic works. I have been disappointed by the artists who use tempura, so I either prefer NOT to look at tempura based art (which, okay), or I get on a very high horse and decide to declare that tempura works kind of suck.

To me, there’s a big difference in between saying “oh, I have been disappointed by tempura works so I prefer not to go to exhibits of them” and “tempura works suck”. One is an opinion and the other is…what? Still an opinion? Someone discovering fact? I don’t know what the fuck that is. People have been debating for years what it means when a person takes the “I think that” sentiment out of their statements. Are they assuming that listeners will know it’s their opinion? Are they trying to convince someone to believe like them by asserting opinion as fact?

To me, when I see these statements from writers (and I am going somewhere stupid with this so hang on there), I see a closing of doors. In communities in which younger writers listen to older writers, etc., I see people saying “oh, first person is horrible. I never read it.” Or “second person is the worst tense ever” (I happen to love it, but I am glad so many people hate it, because it is so hard to do well, that I don’t want to have to see it mangled more often. Thanks, haters!). I wonder if this isn’t where we help to perpetuate or create grammar rules that go from opinion to solid fact that writers them whine about (*cough* adverbhate *cough*).

We’re writers. We’re supposed to be a little more aware of words and how to use them. I am sick of writers who declare one tense to just be plan horrible, no-good bad. How about saying “I prefer to read XYZ, because the ZYX is better for me, because” AND THEN GIVE A FUCKING REASON.

I have, as an editor, asked writers to change the tense of a whole story. I am not so flexible that I will send a book out the door when the tense is incredibly wrong for the narrative (and in one case, the tense used was used so badly, that a “remedial” tense was needed. I am not perfect, and sometimes I have to just patch up the inner tube instead of—doing some other things that would complete this comparison. Let’s just say that I was obligated to work on something that I don’t think was publishable. Sorry, unpublishable person. Your day will come. Keep writing!)

Where was I going? Oh yeah, ALL THE WAY BACK to the place where I don’t get people who won’t read a tense or POV. You get the book, you read the blurb, you select it. Then you sit down and open it (or press play or do wherever it is that you young people do to turn on your electronic book thingys) and you start to read. You don’t say “oh, look, first POV” and close it (hit stop or do whatever it is you young people do to turn off your electronic reader thingys) without giving it a while.

If the book actually does suck, then go with god my friends. It’s probably the writing. Or maybe, like me and that Erik Larson book I tried to read, it’s just REALLY BORING THIS TIME (witness that I loved his three other books), then just close it (or hit stop or do that electronic thingamajigger doodad. Incidentally, my googlefu was inconclusive about whether or not “thingamajigger” had racist origins, but if someone else knows, please feel free to enlighten me because I love how the word sounds, but it looks a little….”has a scary past”-ish. ). I apologize that you have just experienced a poor reading adventure. Please pick up the next book in your pile (I know you have like eight of them in your house, plus a box in the basement labelled “unread”) and try again.

But if you come on a writer’s forum and say something like “I hate first person” or “First person present is a bad POV to use”, you better back that shit up with a list of fucking reasons, or your writer card will be pulled from The Book of Amanda, and I will cross out your name in all the copies of your books I have, and just put “Thingamajigger Mc Douchenozzle”.

Sike. I will just sigh.

16. I love me some slang. I am one of those people who when I see an article titled “words people have to top using” and it’s a list of slang like “totes” and “adorbs”, I roll my eyes and laugh at people who I pretty much consider soulless beings who have to learn to not let everything in the world permeate them, like dropping pumice into a vat of sriracha.

Which is why when I say that “hangry” is the most fuckcravat word in the universe, you know that my opinion has weight (what kind of weight remains debatable). I love every slang word. “On fleek” is amazing. Technically “hangry” is a hybrid word and not precisely slang yet, but it is horrible. First of all, you are angry because you are hungry. Whatevs. Snickers pretty much pointed this out to us. I am getting bored, so let me move on.

Basically, you are all ruining the real word to use, which is, HONGRY, and which you say like the chicken lady from Kids in the Hall. And if you don’t get that reference, just say “I am hungry.” Don’t be ruining it for the rest of us. RUINING IT.

Hangry. What the fuck.

Just in case you missed my portrait from earlier.

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In Which I Search For Meaning

Recently I have started brainstorming for content for this blog, because I have to write. And I have started writing, oh yes indeedily do. But not fiction. THINGS.

Back in the day when we all thought the internet was a lovely place free of—well, we never thought that but we might have been a little more open about ourselves. Or maybe that’s now. I dunno. BACK THEN, I had a livejournal, and I wrote about myself and fandom and my day and things I felt/thought/heard/tasted/shot in the face a great deal. Then I fell away from lj and blogging in general. There were Things.

But I started this as a writer blog, hoping to share short stories, promo my many novels, and pretty much not have anything to do with fandom, which makes me nuts.

Problem is, I strongly dislike talking about writing. I have said it over and over again that I do not discuss my process. The few times I have tried to talk about what I do have illuminated precisely why I shouldn’t. I will discuss YOUR process, but I don’t discuss mine. Also, I don’t actually like HEARING others talk about their process. It’s excruciatingly boring to me, and since I would never reciprocate, I feel that making me listen to you talk about your muses and shit is an unfair burden on me that you can never repay.

I am digressing (newsflash—that is ALL THIS ENTRY IS. IT IS ALL MY BLOG WILL EVER BE.)

So in private, meaning off the net, in word files, I have been writing reams of Things that are not fiction. My fiction is stalled, but I have five pages of funny observations on Kanye (No I don’t. It’s like three lines long.).

So if that is what I am writing, I am going to use it. I am going to post this as my craft, because apparently I no longer actually care about telling stories that I make up, but would rather write the funniest nonfiction that I can write in the universe. And this paragraph right here is the closest I will ever get to talking about my process aside from my VERY UNPOPULAR HYSTERICAL SCREAMING AT PEOPLE THAT CHARACTERS ARE TOOLS. YOUR CHARACTER IS NOT A PERSON, MAN, HE’S A HAMMER OR A SCREWDRIVER. STOP TALKING ABOUT HIM AS A PERSON. Ahem.

So It’s time to stop scraping old LJ entries for stories about my possessed Tom Tom, or filling in half-finished entries and post something new. Something that will get me yelled at. Something that will make half of the people who read it think I am talking about them and get all side eye and then ignore me at the next event we attend together.

I am not burning bridges here. But I might be throwing an unlit matchbook at a hot metal bridge and screaming “SO THERE!” with all the petulant wail of a four year old upset at her parents because they won’t let her lick the electrical socket. You know, that kind of thing. Actually, no, it’s not about people I know specifically, and if you know me and feel that you can point to a certain thing in these entries and say, “THAT’S ME!” I apologize and assure you that I am not really thinking about it. I need that Law & Order thing—

There we go. DUN DUN.

So I started an entry called UNPOPULAR OPINIONS.

And then I had two thoughts:

1. How do I know my opinions are unpopular? Just because I don’t see other people professing the same views as myself in the small circle of the world in which I roam? That seems to be kind of presumptuous of me.

2. SPEAKING OF PRESUMPTUOUS, making a dirty laundry list of UNPOPULAR OPINIONS, sometimes, when I read other people’s lists of them (and I have done a few myself on livejournal, back when I was young and carefree and didn’t understand anything about anything. I am pretty much the same now, but I know how to use a spring form pan, so I can’t complain about worldly ignorance), it always seem to me that a. they want to somehow show off some “Emperor’s Got No Clothes” attitude that they have that proves them superior and/or special or b. they really just want to complain about a bunch of popular thing that they hate.

SIDEBAR: And it is totes okay not to like something. It’s even okay to hate something, as long as we’re talking about tomatoes or The Walking Dead, or The Bachelorette, or John Fowles’ The Magus. Once we get into other areas, I get a little more skeptical about what the word hate means and its appropriateness for anything. In fact, I am pretty skeptical about saying that one might “hate” anything, because come on. Hate results in genocide, homophobia, racism, classism, rape, etc. what you probably mean to say is that you dislike something. And the things a lot of people I see complaining about that they HATE are things like “the confusing Starbucks menu” or “commercials about Erectile Dysfunction” or “capers”.

A Canadian friend of mine reminded me of a great phrase that I have tried to teach my daughter to use that makes things clearer: “I do not care for.”

I do not care for this winter.
I do not care for gravy on my mashed potatoes.
I do not care for this tobacconist, it is scratched.

That last one, no so much. If you can say “I do not care for X” and it doesn’t sound horribly understated (EX: “I do not care for police brutality.”), then that’s probably something you might want to rethink “hating”.

I also want to stress that this is all my opinion, because you start bitching about hyperbole and me not telling you what to do before you slam your bedroom door and crank the Shakira. Because then I have to get the screwdriver and the hammer and unlock the door and confiscate the radio and use the hammer to pull the door out of its hinges, because I TOLD YOU ALL AT THE BEGINNING that I would remove the door if you kept slamming it.

It’s just my thinking. I try to reserve my hate for things that really deserve it. Because hate can be pretty internally damaging, emotionally—like that hot sauce they make you sign a legal release to buy, you want to use it in very small amounts. And if you keep using it all willy nilly, your intestines are gonna fuck with you eventually. Also, it’s gonna change the taste of everything it’s not in.

I just made a horribly fragile hate is like hot sauce analogy. The world is my oyster.

Endgame: I don’t like to say that I actually hate anything when I am stating formal opinions about things that I dislike. /SIDEBAR

Back to the thing about unpopular opinions (because that is what this was about all along). Sometimes I wonder about the point of POINTING OUT OOOOH, THESE ARE UNPOPULAR. Is it the hipster version of blogging about things? Are you giving people a heads up that readers might see some things commonly praised as being trashed or vice versa? I don’t know.

I any case, I thought it was really snotty and uninformed to say UNPOPULAR OPINIONS, as if that makes them more special and points out how nonconformist I am.

Instead, let’s just call them:

THINGS I HAVE BEEN THINKING ABOUT LATELY BASED ON HOW THEY HAVE COME UP IN MY LIFE ON THE INTERWEBS (UNPOPULAR OPINIONS WAS WAY BETTER. I GET IT NOW.).

CAVEAT: Please, take these with a grain of salt. They’re flash pan ideas. And they’re my thoughts, so if you don’t agree, I actually don’t care. As you were.

1. I like Combos. I like the pizzeria pretzel ones. Why is this an Unpopular Opinion? Because apparently EVERYONE ON MY TWITTER FEED DISLIKES THEM, OR SAYS, “MAN, I ATE THOSE IN COLLEGE LOL THEY ARE SOO BAD FOR YOU” implying that they would never eat them now because horrible. Eff you. I fucking love Combos. Combos are gonna cure my cancer. I bet if I threw enough money at Mercola, I could convince every nonvaxxer to start ramming them up their asses to prevent scurvy. But that would probably limit Combo availability, so no.

2. Sometimes I think that liking all the Agent Carter stuff in the past in the MCU is like enjoying Marauder era stuff from Harry Potter. In both cases it’s past stuff that is slowly filled out (more in Carter’s case, because hello TV), but I just don’t Care. I mean, I don’t even wish I cared. And the only reason I even said anything is that everyone I know is watching Agent Carter, and they LOVE IT. WHICH IS GREAT. We need more good TV, but like, I can’t even believe I mustered the energy to write this about it.

See that melting clock just halfway over that….animal looking thing? That is me just thinking about maybe watching CA2 or IM3 or Agents of Shield.

Do you know how hard it would be to give anyone directions in a Dali painting? I cannot be the first person to riff on this.

3. I love me some social justice, but every time I see someone call themselves a “social justice warrior” I cringe. It’s the warrior part. It reminds me of the first time I saw “warrior” used for anything other than a wounded veteran charity or a reference to the Spartans or a high school football mascot, and that was when evangelicals started to form groups called “prayer warriors”. Prayer. Warriors. It gives me the motts. Applesauce, baby.

Like I said, like the movement, hate the last bit of the name.

4. All you people who make faces when I say I eat liver and tripe and sweetbreads? Bite me.

5. I don’t get the love of Chipotle. I mean, I get that they have tasty food, though I doubt it’s tasty enough to stand in THAT line for (and that goes along with my disdain for standing in any line for a food product, even grocery store lines), and I get that they have locally sourced meat and they offer tofu and all that shit. At their current rate of expansion, I mean, I kind of wonder just how “humane” etc. their meat really is. And I don’t care about GMOs or “organic certified” or antibiotics, but Mother Jones covers what I feel in numbers 2 and 3 here.

Also, they don’t have chalupas, so.

On the other hand, just like the idea that you limit your carbon footprint and cut down on mass farmed meat that you buy etc. etc., eating at Chipotle is just another way to do that, but you know, ZOMG SO MUCH BETTER. Maybe. Meh. It’s a burrito. Also, it kept repeating on me, which, as an Ernest Hemingway-esque macho woman of the nineties, I refuse to believe has anything to do with my digestion and has everything to do with Chipotle. SHUT UP AND BRING ME A SIX TOED CAT, YOU SAUCY WOMAN.

6. What up with Magic Mike? I get that they’re naked, but. Was there a plot? Was it an actual plot, or just something so they had to make words come out of their mouths to make screen time longer than five minutes?

That said, I’ll Netflix it. I bet after I watch it I’ll write like a 111/? Part fanfic in which they all life together in happy polygamous domesticity and ship it like burning, so don’t get upset, people. But if you DO get upset, see number 7.

7. More people need to catch on to the fact that criticizing something, especially media-related, doesn’t mean that you can’t like or love it. Things I love that are problematic for me: The Boondocks, some rap music, Joss Whedon’s oeuvre(esp. Firefly), Community, Harry Dresden. None of these are deal breakers for me. But they all have problems, as far as I am concerned. It does not detract from their enjoyment, especially the quotability of most of them. Likewise, criticizing something non media related, is NOT a super attack on you as a liker of that thing. You like the pope? That’s great. I have issues with things he says. Saying that, and describing them in detail, does not mean that I am bashing Catholics, and to say that it is means that you need to go back to “Civil Discussions 101″.

8. Recently my daughter had a crisis of whatever in which she stated that she’s different from her classmates and apparently that might be bothering her? It’s unclear. BUT I posted our discussion a forum and got lots of advice, back patting, just general nice comments about people’s personal experiences in being weird and how it gets better (which may or may not be true, but hey.), and that was great. BUT sooner or later someone brought up the concept that Bill Gates mentioned many years ago in a graduation speech (It wasn’t actually him, it’s from Charles J. Sykes, author of the 1996 book Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can’t Read, Write, Or Add.): “Rule No. 11: Be nice to nerds. You may end up working for them. We all could.” I remember when that came out in the 2000s, everyone was like, “Aw yeah! Vindication! All those people who picked on me in high school are gonna be in for it.” People also like to refer to its nonparallel female equivalent, the Pretty Woman moment, but that’s not really valid, actually, as part of this bullying discussion.

I like the IDEA of this much more than I like any of the actual things that come along with it: it’s fantasy—this bitch kicked me in the butt, literally, all the way home from school once, (I’m looking at you, N**** D*******) and I would like to console myself with thoughts of her failing out of college and forced to go to nail school and then scraping out a living working at WalMart with a shitty husband and five kids. She’s dumb, watches inane TV every night like a zombie, and thinks 50 Shades of Grey is great.

But see, what bothers me is that in my head all of these things I associate with her are bad, and the fact is that lots of people fail out of school for a lot of reasons, and lots of people go to nail school, and lots of people work at WalMart, and by associating those things with life failure, I am pretty much judging a whole group of people. It’s part classist, of course, but it’s also part intellectual..ist(?). There’s a natural smugness that a lot of people with “good jobs” feel but don’t voice, towards the woman who has a full time job at Denny’s, that sense of othering that we give the votech kids. I used to be one of those people. I used to say, “well, the world needs ditch diggers, too” (though we really do. I would say that the world needs more ditch diggers though, than it needs me-s.).

And it’s because we mis-value the education we have. It was hard /easy for us, but we did it. That THESE people didn’t MUST mean that they suck. Fuck them.

But I had votech kids on my class who couldn’t write an essay to save their lives and didn’t care. It was not the end of their world. They weren’t good at that. Some day they might be cosmetologists or welders or even end up being a manager at your local WalMart, and that’s not bad. They might work full time at McDonalds. They don’t know who Neil DeGrasse-Tyson is, and they don’t care. Why the fuck not? It’s not something to scoff at. Saying “I hope that girl who teases me is a failure, and then quantifying that with certain characteristics of the working class, even (not that my list even described the working class, but the stereotype of it) is absolutely horrible. And EVEN IF all of those things happened to her, or EVEN IF they didn’t. OR EVEN IF SHE WAS STILL THE HORRIBLE SHITTY PERSON THAT SHE WAS IN 8TH GRADE (you know, because your 13 year old self is such a great indicator of what you will be when you’re 38), the point is, wishing her a shitty life to comfort myself is pretty shitty too. I am going to appropriate Audre Lorde’s speech, and though it was about feminism and racism, this holds true for other applications:

the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.

We have repeatedly seen how “nerds”, in the Bill Gates sense, who have run the world, can be just as big of assholes as the people who once bullied them. All you have to do is look at the situation of women in tech, of PUA forums in which men who would describe themselves as “nerds” or “geeks” can’t get the hot woman they deserve, or by the very way they act online, treat woman as accessories for boob squeezing, ass slapping, dick sucking/fucking or apparently sandwich making afterwards. (I am not providing links, for they are myriad, and I am not arguing with ANYONE about this.). These guys are just doing their version of what was done to them now that they’re “in charge” (or at least, adults). Others suffer. BUT hey, at least those people who teased them work at the Jiffy Lube for 8.25/hr, right? Serves these assholes right for fucking with those sweet nerdy cherubs

The nature of the revenge aspect is the problem for me. What we see as “life punishment”. This person was an asshole in HIGH SCHOOL, as “life punishment” they obviously must have something happen to them that means they are a. saddled with children b. haggard c. have a minimum wage job/no job. What makes these things punishments? Why do we go there? Is it our idea that money=success? Money=good? Why, when we insist that the rich Koch brother are COMPLETE JACKASS BASTARDS do we still look down on people who don’t have money? There’s a lot of talk about minimum wage and the way we view the poor around lately, so I’ll not expand, but—

BACK TO THE ENDGAME OF MY OPINION: I don’t feel comfortable saying to my kid, “All those people who pick on you in school now, they’re going to have worthless lives, and let me provide a few classist examples of how.” Because it doesn’t solve the problem, and it reinforces the prejudice she’s already gonna get a handful of. Also, It doesn’t address the things that you really, ultimately want: You want the other person to a. realize just how wrong what they are doing is and b. TO STOP DOING IT. An apology would also be nice, but possibly a bridge too far. I get that it’s spiteful satisfaction, I really really do. But I think in the end, the lessons we teach underneath that aren’t worth the secondary comfort, and we have to find other ways to comfort our bullied children than spiteful wishful thinking full of stereotypes.

9. These new energy efficient light bulbs suck balls. I am glad I am killing the planet and all of us a little less, but I am also killing my eyeballs. So I’ll be able to breathe and shit, but I’ll be blind. I guess I’ll have a tree to make a walking cane out of.

So there we are.

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I am grateful, now fuck off.

Originally posted on Mama Said:

It was some time between midnight and 3am. I was dead asleep. I’d fed the littliest at midnight so it was after that, and it was before he woke up for a feed at 3am. This hardly matters, because that time of night is Hell unless you’re pashing, happy drunk, smoking in a bar, dancing, or on drugs – y’know, generally having a fulfilling life that doesn’t involve milk dripping out of your breasts or playing the fart or shit game.

So, I’m asleep and I feel this tiny hand on my face and then there’s a kiss on my forehead. And for a second I’m confused like – did the tiny one do that? He’s only four-weeks-old? Is he a mutant? That would be amazing.

And then I realise it’s my big baby and I pull him into my arms while still asleep and think “oh he’s delicious”. But…

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Star Wars: The Legand Continues In Little China PART FIVE: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY

Years ago, when I first started drinking gin and keeping this blog, two things that aren’t related except insofar as they pertain to this particular post, I made a list of topics that I might write about, and taped the post-it to the dining room wall. I crossed off some of them long ago, and others I started but never got round to. The list is as follows:

COMPLETED:

1. The story of Dalek Tom Tom (last week)
2. Book Meme (done and done!)
3. Christmas in Pics (yawn)

UNFINISHED:

1. Viola’s camera (this is a camera I gave her when she was 4, and the pictures she took are surreal, but as she is 8 now, this is hardly interesting)
2. What I know about Merlin summed up in Post It Notes (I have done several of these about other shows, but Merlin was a request, and I just never got round to it. What I know about Merlin and can be summed up as “It’s very gay. Maybe. I dunno. My friends seem to think so.”)
3. Drunk Star Wars Art.

BINGO.

Let me explain. My mother buys used books from the library for me all the time. Library book sales are pretty great places, and if you need to get a bunch of books you have never heard of and will probably never read for at least 25 cents apiece, the local library is your best bet.

What my mother gave me years ago was this:

I am the world’s worst artist. I try to fight it, but I suck at this kind of stuff. All my friends are of varying degrees of good. For years, I went to the art store with them and bought expensive paper, and charcoal, and pencils, and those erasers that look like balls of gum, and vials of virgin unicorn blood. But the fact remains that my ability to draw is down there with my ability to hold my breath underwater: sure I might be able to get minutely better, but I’d have to work very hard, and at the end of the day anyone looking at my carefully rendered portrait of a turkey would just squint and say, “Is that James Caan?”

So, when I get books like this I am filled with two emotions:

1. Gratitude for the person who bought it for me.

No wait, that’s three emotions. Lemme start over.

So, when I get books like this I am filled with three emotions:

1. Gratitude: thanks mom, person who birthed and raised me!
2. Excitement: Imma draw me some fucking tie fighters!
3. Anger: Who are you kidding? You couldn’t draw a Sarlacc pit from the inside. (I realize that’s not a very good comparison, as it’s dark inside the Sarlacc pit, but just believe me when I couldn’t find a good Star Wars permutation of what I was trying to say. Just go with it and get off my back.)

I thought about actually trying to draw Star Wars characters, but that seemed like a pretty boring idea. Plus, there was no way this was going to end well.

There was only one way to do this.

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED

So two years ago, my mother took my kid overnight, and I sat down with a boatload of alcohol, paper, pencils, erasers that look like chewed up gum, and set about schooling myself in the ways of the drunken force. There was no try. There was only get shitfaced and see what falls out of the tree when I slam my x-Wing into it.

That night was apparently magical. Took a lot of pictures of certain pages that I seemed to think were very funny:

Yes, I need several.

And I think I might have set up some mood music.

I was so hard core.

And so on and so on. Who knows if I regretted anything in the morning. I am particularly resistive to hangovers these days, so I am sure that any post-Death Star malaise was probably the fault of those pizza rolls.

But I never wrote it up, because as we all know, I am a lazy sod. So when I restarted this blog and was thinking about entries, I thought about this one. But it was so long ago! I don’t even KNOW what I was thinking when I drew Jar Jar! HOW TO RECAPTURE THE MAGIC.

There was only one way: get drunk and write the blog post, WHILE WATCHING STAR WARS.

So, one night when my kid was asleep, I poured my first gin and tonic of 2015, queued A New Hope, and pre-coded this entry so that I couldn’t mess up the HTML. I am sure I did anyway. What follows is uncorrected and non-spellchecked, to properly preserve the pickled flavor of my brain as I watched a movie and tried to remember the time when I and Eddie Murphy were in ancient Egypt and being harassed by Michael Jackson. Drawing Star Wars.

Again, this section was recorded in real time drinking Star Wars Viewing action. It was very hard to drink and type, because I just wanted to watch the movie.

A LONG TIME AGO, IN A LIVING ROOM FAR FAR AWAY…

We used to have this drinking game, that we would take a shot whenever you could reasonably tack, “and then I cut off his arms and legs and set him on fire” to any of Alec Guinness’ dialogue from the first movie. (And you know it’s the first one, so shut up).

Obi-wan: Come here little one, don’t be afraid.
ME: UNTIL I CUT OFF YOUR ARMS AND LEGS AND SET YOU ON FIRE.
Obi-wan: (at luke) Oh him? He’ll be all right.
ME: UNTIL I CUT OFF HIS ARMS AND LEGS AND SET HIM ON FIRE.

Oh no, 3po, don’t wave at the Jawa transport.

On the other hand, this is the time to confess my great love of Mark Hamill. Like I am not even joking. I am in deep crush on Mark Hamill. I think this is my second gin and tonic. Sry.

OMG STAND IN FRONT OF THE TWIN MOONS WITH THAT MUSIC I WILL SOOTHE YOU, LUKE. I HAVE RED AHIR, LIKE MARA JADE.

So, back when I tried to draw star wars, there were lots of instructions and things that make you giggle when you’re drunk.

I got nothing.

But when you try to incorporate this move into your yoga routine,
you jyst end up killing yoursekf by accident.

Two more emotions than Padme displayed in three films. Too soon?

*sporfle*

TK-421, WHY AREN’T YOU AT YOUR POST?

LOL.

Ermagerd this is boring, look at my drawing, people. I am fucking Picasso.

LOOK AT THAT STRUCTURE.

WANNA SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I TRY TO LIKE DRAW LINeS LIK THEY TEACH?

Okay.

Looking good…

Okay, that was good. Let’s try some other things, like step by step shading.

How hard could tis be?

THIS. THIS HARD.

DRAW ME LIKE ONE OF YOUR TWI’LEK GIRLS, BOBA.

Now it’s just silly.

NAILED IT.

No, Warwick Davis, don’t lick that wire!

STOP THE PRESS. THAT IS IN SERIOUSLY POOR TASTE.

Newsflash: when you stop trying to be funny, things actually get less funny.

Omg I should look up the guy who played Boba Fett. I remember that dude. It was so disappointing seeing who played him. You want Boba to be badass, but he was like…Ron Jeremy. Boba where are you?

Oh, man.

“We counted thirty rebel ships milord, but they’re so amll they’re evading our turbolasers.”

Well then, deploy the quad lasers!

Okay, this is a solid start.

You would think I wasn’t even trying. BUT I WAS. LOOK AT HOW HARD I WAS TRYING.

THIS IS SOME DRAMATIC SHIT UP IN HERE.
Spoilers for a movie that’s probably older than like, ugh.

Oh my god, dod they name the chubby x-wing guy Porkins? No seriously, how did I miss that?

And then I had to stop the film and go to bed, because I am old.

***

So, there you have it. My drunken post about me drunkenly trying to draw Star Wars characters, typed while watching the first movie (you know, the good one).

Post drunk, bright and early in the morning, sober!me notes a few follow up things.

At some point in time, apparently, I started to write an essay about Tarkin, and then about Alderaan, but ended up drawing this instead:

I am sure that this, like all high school poetry, was going to save the world when I wrote it.

By the way, this is what I am drinking out of this morning:

I think that my original hypothesis was correct: I am a horrible artist, because 1. I lack the gift, and b. I lack the interest, aside from the kind of fleeting fancy that strikes one at times of observing others’ talent, not unlike watching the Winter Games and saying, “I bet if I tried really hard I could do a triple lutz. No. No you can’t. At least drawing stick figures is safer and less spiral fracture-inducing than pretending to be Michelle Kwan. Also, drunk ice skating sounds like something that would be the first line of my obituary.

And here to take us out, the best one I did. Imma put it on the fridge, next to my kid’s drawings of how she traps all her people inside caves in Minecraft “because they run away” (that disturbing thought is a story for another day).

FIN

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