taste_is_sweet: (Brave Little Toaster)
I'm not apologizing to Demi Lovato, because I'm linking to the really cool video I stole the chorus from.

Let me say, O best-beloveds, that there is nothing at all wrong with giving compliments. I used to not do it very often, because it felt safer to keep things to myself than to court the potential embarrassment of engaging in a possibly unwelcome interaction. But then I got older and I decided that life is too short not to tell someone that you like their shirt or that they have beautiful eyes.

Last night I sent a message to someone I know on Tumblr just to say I really liked their posts, and I made them really, really happy. That made me happy too. Being nice is almost always a win-win.

I've mentioned before about how I leave kudos on AO3 for fics if I read them the entire way through, because someone went to the effort of writing the story. A kudo is a quick way of complimenting them for that effort. Clicking it says 'hey, I liked this. You did good.' Nice comments are even better, but a kudo is so easy it astonishes me that so many people don't leave them.

The last time I posted about leaving kudos (the link above), someone replied that they only give a kudo when something really moved them. Otherwise they thought that the hits alone were enough acknowledgement of the writer's effort.

I've honestly been thinking about that on and off for two years, and I still have a problem with it. While I can understand the principal--be happy anyone bothered looking at your fic--all that hits actually show you is that someone went to that page. Maybe they noped out after reading the tags. Maybe they got three paragraphs in and hit the back button in a panic. It's impossible to tell. But a kudo means that they both read the story and thought it was good, or good enough. And seriously, we're writing this stuff for free, here. Isn't a story that keeps you reading until the end automatically good enough for a lousy click on a burgundy button?

I know that some people like certain stories so much they read them several times, and unfortunately (or fortunately, I suppose) you can only leave kudos once. But there are loads of readers out there who don't bother leaving them in the first place. Not one little compliment saying that they appreciate your time and effort.

And that, honestly, is just mean. Sure, no one forces a writer to put their stuff out there, just as no one pays us. But that's also the point. We don't have to do it. That fic you rolled your eyes at but still gave you ten minute's worth of entertainment is completely, totally free. Our only expectation as writers is that people will read our work, and our only hope is that they'll let us know they did.

So, why should anyone think they deserve a masterpiece before leaving a kudo? It's one click. One tiny, easy little click. But I can tell you as both a writer and reader that one tiny, easy little click can actually mean the world.

And life is too short not to say something nice.
taste_is_sweet: (Want to dive into your ocean)
Starting today and for the next 12 days, there will be a charity giveaway from 224 authors, review bloggers and publishers, to reward anyone donating at least $5.00 to a LGBT charity of your choice.

You can access the giveaway and links to charities via this post at Diverse Reader. There's a short story in italics at the beginning, with the full information at the end of how to sign up, as well as a video showcasing the people and publishers donating books. I wanted to donate a book myself, but I only found out about it on April 10, when the call for book donations had closed, alas. But I'm going to give $10.00 to #Pizza4Equality after I finish posting this.

You may be asking, 'Why pizza, Sweet?' And Best-Beloveds, I shall tell you.

Memories Pizza sells pizza in Walkerton, Indiana. Indiana, of course, has been in the news lately because of Governor Mike Pence signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act on March 26, which was widely criticized as allowing any business to refuse to serve anyone whose existence they deemed contrary to their religious beliefs. Specifically, members of the LGBT community.

Memories Pizza became a poster child for exactly what liberals feared, when one of the owners stated that if asked, she'd refuse to cater a same-sex wedding.

Now to be fair, no one had asked. And at least according to this article, Memories Pizza has never turned away a gay customer. However, the statement infuriated so many people that the Pizzeria ended up closing under the media storm and barrage of negative comments. Whereupon TV host Dana Loesch of the extreme conservative network The Blaze started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the embattled restaurant. (Do yourself a favor--don't read the comments on that link.)

And they got nearly a million dollars in two days.

So, enter #PizzaforEquality, started by Scott Wooledge, with the idea that maybe that much money could be raised to fund charities protecting LGBT people and their rights, rather than to fund those places who would deny them. It's been a good start, but it's been more than two days and the campaign closes on April 29, so I thought I'd boost the signal. And get a book. Because books are awesome.

So is pizza! But only if you're willing to share.
taste_is_sweet: (Pony!Bucky)
(Pony!Bucky icon because reasons.)

So, yeah. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., guys. Last night was episode three of the new season, and while I wasn't exactly surprised at yet more murky morality, three episodes in and it's already murky enough that it's hard to see. Like when you're in a vault.

Such as this one:

But it's S.H.I.E.L.D., so it's fine. Really.
I'm sure there's nothing morally dubious down here.

Check it, O, best-beloveds--this is the door leading down the dark, narrow staircase that goes to the dark, dark, basement, where our remnants of S.H.I.E.L.D. are now keeping their prisoners like fetishists in a Tarantino movie. Coulson even refers to them as 'Assets', which is in no way creepy or dehumanizing. (Though to be fair, I guess he can't use 'consultant' since it's probably not a volunteer position.)

The prisoners do get a bed, which is nice. But as far as I can tell, if they're not being interrogated the room is kept soundless and dark, and it's about three and a half meters wide and maybe five meters long. Larger than my kid's bedroom for sure, but he has a nightlight and a window. And he can also, you know, leave.

Naturally, I couldn't help but be reminded of this:

At least he's safe! (Get it?)
We Love you, Bucky!

The Winter Soldier, in all of his shirtless, woobie glory, being kept in a vault like a particularly important document. Now he's in a bank vault, because Hydra is classy like that. But it's still, y'know, a vault. Like S.H.I.E.L.D.'s, only with actual overhead lighting. And it's used pretty much for the same purpose as S.H.I.E.L.D.'s vault. Oops.

I'm assuming S.H.I.E.L.D. isn't going for the horrifically painful memory-wiping. Yet. But I have a feeling that being treated like a hamster in an aquarium (but without the adorable plastic wheel) would count as torture too.

These are not comfortable similarities, my darlings. They're especially uncomfortable when coupled with S.H.I.E.L.D.'s new willingness to go for culling rather than trap and tag, so to speak. This ep, they went after someone ostensibly to rescue them from Hydra, but it became evident very early on that the 'rescue' part wasn't the priority. The actual priority was, 'if we can't have 'em, no one can,' like a psychotic ex-boyfriend. Or like Hydra, which had the exact same agenda.

And yet, it's not even either of these things--the hamster cages or the culling--which make me go, O.o, so much as the seeming casualness with which it's done. Yes, I'd like to see a little remorse among my heroes, beyond the expected 'gee, I just killed someone' moment. I'd like to see some reluctance, some unhappiness with the way things go down, even if there was truly no other option besides vaults and bloodshed. Hell, I'd really like other options to be overtly considered.

Nick Fury himself said that S.H.I.E.L.D. was founded to save people, because everyone is worth saving. But S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn't seem to be doing much saving anymore. This isn't the S.H.I.E.L.D. who talked Mike Peterson down from literally going ballistic when it would've been far safer and easier to kill him; this S.H.I.E.L.D. would've put him down to make sure Hydra didn't get their hands on him first. And that's a bit too much like what Hydra itself would do. And when the good guys are just the same as the bad guys, then what's the point?

If I had to choose, I'd of course take the hamster cage over the agonizing mind-wipe, but I shouldn't have to choose the lesser of two evils. There shouldn't be two evils--just one evil, with many heads.

I love visual metaphors.
Where's a streetwise Hercules

And sure, sometimes it takes a monster to defeat a monster. Except S.H.I.E.L.D. wasn't supposed to be about monsters; it was supposed to be about heroes. But I've watched three episodes of the new season so far, and I'm still waiting to find them.

Holding out, if you will, for the heroes. Or at least I'll hold out for a few more episodes. But when you're in a vault, it's hard to know it's the end of the night.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. screen capture from screencapped.net

taste_is_sweet: (American Dream)

HAPPY CANADA DAY, FLISTIES!



And I totally did not almost forget about this because I live in Texas. Nope.

Capture

I miss my homeland very, very much. Even if I'm lousy at remembering the holidays. I hope my fellow and sister Canucks are having a fantastic day!
taste_is_sweet: (Joy)
One of the many, many things I love about being a parent is all the ways my kid surprises me. I mean, I like to think I know him pretty well by now, but he still amazes me all the time. Especially when he gives me an opportunity to look at something in a way I'd never thought of before.

Monday during dinner, he sat down at the table and gave a big, heartfelt sigh. Naturally my first thought was that he had a problem with the food (not uncommon, alas). But when I asked him it turned out he was thinking about a YouTube video he watched part of before dinner.

Apparently the video--which was about the Minecraft computer game--had a title in English but soundtrack entirely in Russian. Javier had read some of the comments, and he was upset for the vidders because so many people had said rude, hateful things to them over the language.

This is exactly what they look like.
Troll

We discussed the concept of 'Trolls' on the internet. He'd learned about it in the context of 'pranking' from other videos, but not as referring to someone who purposely writes hurtful posts or comments just to upset people.

He didn't get why anyone would want to do that. He also didn't understand how people could watch videos on YouTube and then 'dislike' them with the thumbs-down button. Then he told me that he always clicks on the 'like' button before he watches a video. If he ends up not liking the video he just goes to something else.

And I looked at my amazing, generous sweetheart of an 8 year-old kid and I have to admit I got a little teary. Because he clicks 'like' to acknowledge people's effort, and thank them just for wanting to share. And I swear to God that never, ever, even occurred to me.

Sure, I have my own philosophy that if I read an entire fanfic story I give the author a 'kudo' or comment. And sure, I have to basically dislike a story enough to stop reading it before I won't do that. But to just thank something for writing a fic in the first place? No way.

It's because I'm an author myself, and I know from both fandom and the professional book industry that in real life, no one is going to reward you for something just because you went to the effort of making it. It's all about putting your stuff out there and hoping to hell you'll either get a positive response or hoping to hell you're thick-skinned enough not to care.

I'm never thick-skinned enough not to care, but that's my problem. And the last thing I would ever want is for someone to leave a comment, or kudos, or even pay me money as a 'thanks for coming out' consolation prize.

And yet.

Somewhere along the line, among the millions of pieces of fanficton and art and videos and published stuff, I forgot that someone actually went to the trouble of making it in the first place. Maybe not for me specifically, but for the joy of creating something and sharing it, in the hope that others would enjoy it too.

Just because the ability to create is so easy these days doesn't make the act of creating itself any less meaningful, or any less worthy of acknowledgement. Jav may not always like what his parents make for dinner, but I make sure that he thanks us anyway, because we went to the trouble of doing it. And gratitude is never a bad thing.

It's humbling that my son was the one to remind me of that. I hope I don't forget it again.



The illustration is by Rien Poortvliet

taste_is_sweet: (Chuck was Worried)
I love the internet.

You probably do too--you're here, after all (and thank you for that). The 'net has given me fandom, friendships, introduced me to things I never knew existed, and enabled my first professional novel.

The World Wide Web is a repository of the simultaneously best and worst of humanity. Name anything you could possible want to learn about, see, hear, share or buy and it will be there in one form or another. Because of the internet we can debunk urban legends; learn new and awesome terminology; revel in fandom; and read stories and stories and stories and stories and stories.

And if you live in the U.S., you might lose it.

This excellent excerpt from Last Week Tonight not only makes the situation pellucid (that was for [livejournal.com profile] brumeier), it's incredibly funny. Well worth 13 minutes of your time. Just be careful of the NSFW language.



For those of you who don't have 13 minutes, the TL:DR version is this:

The biggest cable companies in the U.S., like Comcast and Verizon, want the Government to enact a law that will let them charge internet companies (think Netflix; Amazon; Etsy; that place where you bought that stuff that came in a box with no return address) more money to enable them to load faster on your computer.

That means companies who can't afford to pay (like that place with no return address) will suddenly become far less accessible. It's like the Fastpass at the Universal Theme Park in Orlando: The companies who can't pay will end up waiting in line to get to the consumer Revenge of the Mummy ride, while the rich ones just walk on through.

We can't let that happen. It probably will, but there's still time to do something about it. Go to fcc.gov/comments, read the simple instructions, and leave a public comment. Hopefully if enough people remind the Government who voted for them, it might keep this from happening.

Might. I'm not holding my breath--I'm not Comcast; I can't afford it.
taste_is_sweet: (My OTP has issues)
Over at [livejournal.com profile] ushobwri (and why haven't you joined it yet? They have such cool stuff) today, the topic is pet peeves in fanfiction--as in, the stuff that makes one backspace quicker than a porn pop-up add at the office, or keeps you reading only for the hate.

Now, I'm not saying I actually read or write fanfiction, because I'm trying to be all professional an' shit. But if I did, my pettiest peeve ever would be what I call "Passive-Agressive Utopia Fics".

Passive-Agression, if you, O best-beloveds, are unaware of the term, is basically trying to make other people do all the emotional work for you in a conflict. A perfect example is someone who will brood in hurt silence until you realize you upset them and apologize--only for them to then turn around and berate the fuck out of you for the original transgression. Another perfect example is someone who will mope and sigh for hours, but won't say anything's wrong until you ask. Even worse is when you ask and they say, 'nothing', because if you loved them enough you'd already know.

Guilty yet?
 photo Wormpic.jpg

As you can imagine, and have probably read, this shows up fairly often in fic. It generally follows a particular pattern:

1) The most beloved but flawed (and occasionally badly treated) character (think Rodney McKay of Stargate: Atlantis or Ezra Standish of the 1998 The Magnificent Seven TV series) will experience something in canon that is perceived as cruel and/or unfair by his fans (I'm sure female versions of such characters exist, but I can't remember encountering any).

2) The fans, angry at this character's perceived helplessness and unjust suffering, then write a story either dealing directly with the ep where the unfairness happened, or a story that keeps the same general theme of bad treatment.

Wherein:

---The Beloved Helpless Character will be treated with great cruelty and prejudice by the other characters, often to an uncharacteristic or even absurd extent. Shunning may occur in retaliation for something the BHC did in canon or otherwise, or threats to the BHC's continued acceptance in the group and/or employment. Rarely, their life.
---The BHC will not contest this or stand up for himself in any way. There may be an attempt at protest or apology, but this will be rebuffed by the other characters. The BHC will subsequently just accept his fate.
---The BHC will either ostracize himself from the group, or, already shunned, go off alone and/or cease all but minimal communication or interaction with the other characters. Rodney McKay may take himself to the wretched bowels of Atlantis to do horribly unpleasant menial repairs unworthy of his skills and intelligence. Ezra Standish may leave Four Corners without telling anyone, preferably by riding into a monsoon or blizzard.
--- OR, the BHC will attempt or actually commit suicide, or will be believed to have died by the other characters. The BHC will then get to, in essence, attend his own funeral and witness the other characters' praise of him and their remorse at his ill-treatment. (If the BHC dies, then the reader is their proxy for this.)
---The BHC, due to their misery and the privations of their ostracizing, will become horribly ill and/or injured. It will likely take days to find them, unless they manage to drag themselves back to aid. Either the other characters will have begun a frantic search at this point, or will not even realize the BHC was in peril because he's been shunned to the point of insignificance.
---A character who is the BHC's True Friend and The Only One Who Understands Them (like Rodney McKay's buddy Carson Beckett, who is conveniently a doctor, or Ezra Standish's Mom) will then proceed to berate the fuck out of the other characters for their cruelty, generally while standing at the bedside of the insensate and possibly dying BHC. The True Friend will also, if necessary, explain the BHC's real motivations for their original offending action(s) and basically make the other characters go fetal with guilt. Unless they're already fetal with guilt, in which case the True Friend's job is to make them feel even worse about their treatment.
---The BHC naturally survives and either returns to his previous position within the group or gets some kind of promotion. Occasionally he'll leave for a better offer from people who will appreciate him. Either way, the other characters will fall all over themselves in apology and remorse, which the BHC will righteously milk for all it's worth. Maybe, if he deigns to stay with his former abusers, at the end of the fic he'll begin to forgive them. Maybe.

As you've probably guessed, I call these kinds of fics "Passive-Agressive Utopia" because it's possibly the one place in the universe where the tactic actually works exactly the way its adherents would want it to. Their BHCs are vindicated, glorified and defended, all without them actually having to do anything. They go eat worms because nobody loves them and everybody hates them, and they really do get admired for it; they nearly or actually commit suicide and everyone really is sorry. It's the best of all possible worlds.

And honestly, who wouldn't want that? I still have to remind myself sometimes that my darling husband can't read my mind so if I'm pissed off I need to tell him. It's scary to admit you're angry when you've been raised never to show it. How awesome would it be not to have to?

So I get it, I really do. I just wish it didn't show up so often. And you'd better agree with me, or I'm going to slink off and sit outside in the rain until I get pneumonia. And then you'll be sorry.

Picture is courtesy of antpkr at freedigitalphotos.

taste_is_sweet: (Bad Decisions)
Hello, my lovelies. I'm off to CANADA next week for March break! It's a total Whoo-Hoo! for me, of course, but it means I most likely won't be posting. I can hear you crying already.

But before I go, I wanted to write about something interesting I saw in a TV show last night. And by 'interesting', I of course mean 'jaw-droppingly out-of-character and violent.' I won't name the show because I don't want to spoil anyone, and also because I'm not even sure the particular show matters. Here are the particulars:

1) Character A is very, very badly hurt by Reoccurring Bad Person
2) Reoccurring Bad Person is captured
3) Character B beats captured RBP to within an inch of xir life in retaliation
4) Character C refuses to turn RBP over to The Authorities, apparently only so C can threaten RBP with the 'If xie dies, you die' trope.
5) All of this is supposed to be a) perfectly acceptable, and b) to show how awesome characters B and C are.

Now, because TV Tropes is my new internet boyfriend, after I had my few moments of O.o and assorted exclamations along the lines of, are they really keeping that bad guy just for the if/then murdering? and, If Character A bites the oatmeal, how will killing RBG bring xir back?, I went to the TV Tropes site to see if the "If X dies; you die" trope had an article.

I couldn't find one, alas. But I did find Knight Templar Big Brother/Parent. It's not quite as specific as I hoped for, but it's close enough.

The Knight Templar Big Brother/Parent basically refers to going apeshit on anyone who hurt your sib/kid, and I think the trope fits even if the characters aren't related. Like beating the snot out of the Reoccurring Bad Person who hurt your buddy, for example.

"I'm not going to hurt you now. But I will probably kill you later, depending."
 photo KnightsTemplarcopy.jpg

Okay, sure. Makes sense. I'd be pretty peeved too, if my adorable protege of adorableness was gutted like a prize-winning salmon. And the Character B who did the beat-down is, shall we say, not entirely unknown for such things. But, Character C is definitely not known for the apeshit beat-downs. In fact, C tells B to back off on the curb-kicking, which is somewhat odd considering Character C's intention in doing so is, apparently, to keep RBP alive in order to chuck xir out an airlock if Character A kaks it.

That's not very nice.

It's also not very moral, and considering Characters A, B, and C are all very much supposed to be the GOOD GUYS, the idea of Character C especially refusing to give up RBP while calmly anticipating spacing xir in the near future is not what I signed on for when I started watching the show. I mean, this is basic cable--I like to know which end of the spectrum my heroes are supposed to belong to. And murder for revenge is a little too far in the red for me.

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, as they say, and killing someone because they killed someone is way more Judge Dredd than My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, if you know what I mean. Not that I'm talking about either Judge Dredd or MLP:FIM (though I'm sure Rainbow Dash would go apeshit if Discord killed Fluttershy). But you get the point.

Which is, I want my heroes to be, well, heroic, thank you very much. That doesn't just mean being badass, it means knowing when not to be as well. And sure, fallibility and conflict and drama and all that. But honestly, this show offers plenty of that anyway. If I wanted antiheroes, dark themes and gratuitous violence I'd watch The Walking Dead, which I don't. Because I don't really like antiheroes, dark themes or gratuitous violence. What's the point of escapism if you can't go anywhere?

I might as well watch the news, except for how it's way more depressing.

Picture is from The DVD cover for this Knights Templar movie, available from Amazon.co.uk. Coincidentally, it has Norman Reedus in it. Unfortunately the film seems to be very, very bad.

taste_is_sweet: (Want to dive into your ocean)
Those of you living in civilized countries outside the United States may not know that recently Arizona (state of that smug bastard Roadrunner and that city where everyone makes a wrong turn; not to mention the state where it is now legal for a cop to ask anyone for their immigration papers at anytime, anywhere, if there is "reasonable suspicion" that the person is insufficiently light-skinned an illegal alien) voted in a bill that would have allowed businesses to refuse to serve people based on sexual orientation on religious grounds.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the bill (same link just above) after even the Republicans who had voted for it realized that pissing off Apple and the Superbowl committee might be a bad idea. Joh Stewart of the Daily Show has hilarious commentary on it below. (Unfortunately it's in two parts.):




But Mississippi, a state I know so little about that I had to look up its capitol (It's Jackson), decided to take up the banner of discrimination and vote in its own law about the very same thing.

The state flag of Mississippi, which perhaps tells us everything we need to know*
 photo Mississippistateflag.jpg

But it's Religious freedom, y'all. It's not about not serving homosexuals. It's about... allowing people to not serve homosexuals. In the name of freedom.

(I hope that my American FListies will sign this petition against it. It's endorsed by Lance Bass! Who should possibly move.)

But the thing I really don't get about Mississippi's bill is this: How do you tell if someone is homosexual before you serve them? I mean, same-sex marriage is illegal in Mississippi; it's not like any give bakery in Jackson is going to have a homosexual couple ordering a wedding cake. And sure, maybe if someone wants two bridal dresses for a commitment ceremony it might tip off the owner of the local Dress Barn. But what about restaurants? Or shoe stores? Or, I dunno, pet salons? Are you really going to ask someone if they're gay before you shave their dog? Even if they come prancing in dressed like Johnny Weir at an Oscar after-party, can you be sure that they threaten the God-given sanctity of your divorce just by existing? Unless a Canadian walks into your ski shop, how can you even know?

Obviously, the next step is for Mississippi to pass a law like Arizona's, that will let anyone ask for one's sexual orientation at any given time. And then they'd need to issue gay IDs. And then have special homosexual ghettos to make sure that no businesses are threatened by gays or lesbians trying to pass as normal people.

And then jail them for acting homosexual in public. Like Russia, to protect the children. Maybe those Reds have the right idea after all!



*To be fair, Georgia only got rid of the Confederate Battle Flag on their state flag in 2003.

taste_is_sweet: (Want to dive into your ocean)
Oh, yeah. That evil homosexual agenda is alive and well, my friends, despite Russian President Vladimir Putin's brave efforts to ban all homosexuals from being alive endangering the poor, innocent Russian children (because all homosexuals are obviously pedophiles, just like all Russians miss Communism).

Back in June, Russia passed the "Gay Propaganda Law", which makes it illegal to tell children about gay equality. More recently, Russia officially made it illegal to let anyone from a country where same-sex marriage is allowed to adopt Russian children. Because the mere possibility that the adoptive parents might be gay is of course of far greater concern than how many Russian children won't be able to have families.

We have to think of the kids' quality of life, people! How could they ever be happy with loving, likely wealthy parents who might hug them with their evil gay arms?

But sadly, Putin's careful stance against the evil gays has come to naught. A couple of days ago, the coach of the Canadian Olympic Ski Team helped a Russian skier finish his race by loaning him a ski. Now, Justin Wadsworth is actually an American, but he was born in Seattle and married Canadian Skier Beckie Scott, so he's basically Canadian anyway. But that's not the point.

The point is, that as part of the Canadian Olympic team, he has, most likely, been in the vicinity of Anastasia Bucsis, the openly lesbian Canadian speed skater. He may have even clapped her on the shoulder, or shaken her hand. And he lives in a country that's already been banned from adopting Russian children.

Which means, O best-beloveds, that it was no innocent spare ski that Wadsworth put on Anton Gafarov's foot. That was a gay Canadian ski, strapped there by likely gay-touching hands.

Does the insidiousness of Canadian propaganda know no bounds?

Sure, Putin himself may have recently hugged a lesbian Dutch speed skater at a party (and really, the fact he didn't ban speed skating, which is clearly rife with homosexuality, was a gross oversight on his part), but he's an adult. He can make educated decisions about who he cuddles in his spare time. He's not a poor, defenseless child rife for brainwashing into applauding the devious Homosexual Agenda.

But what can be done about Anton Gafarov? His foot is now contaminated with gay, which will shortly spread up his leg and eventually into his brain, and who knows what horrors it will wreak upon his person. Will he want to move to Canada and marry a Canadian? Will he begin listening raptly to the fabulous commentary of Johnny Weir? Will he turn gay and start molesting children like every single other homosexual anywhere ever? I fear for him and anyone he may touch from now on. I really do.

Gay Canadian skis one day; a Siberian prison the next. Don't say I didn't warn you.
taste_is_sweet: (And Counting!)
Yeah, so. ::Coughs awkwardly:: I didn't post anything last week because I was in Washington. Didn't do so great on the stretches, either. But resolutions can be a work in progress, right? RIGHT?

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Yeah.

Anyway, I have news! I think! I think I have news about all those emails intended for someone else with my name that I've been getting for years.

True story, O Best-Beloveds. I think I may have actually found the mystery person.

You see, after getting yet one more email intended for this other woman (this one was a confirmation of a new user account at an NYC sports club), I finally snapped.

"What do I have to lose?" I asked myself, though not actually out loud. "It can't really destroy the universe, can it? (Though if it does, I'm calling dibs on being the Dark Matter.)" And I decided to find this person once and for all.

So, taking the clues from the misdirected emails (she lives in New York; she goes to a university that unfortunately had its name Shanghaied by a bar; she was once invited to be a hut ambassador at the Chirpy Ski Resort of God), and knowing that everyone is on Facebook these days, I did a FB search for every account with the same first and last name as I do and information that fit.

And, lo! I found one. She has the right age, right interests (art! Ski pictures!), and started the university with the bar-stolen name at the right time for all the emails.

Taking courage and the possible fate of the universe in hand, I sent her a message via FB. Here's hoping she checks her 'Other' folder (God knows I almost never remember to). Here's also hoping she really is the right name-sharer, and especially that she's the only name-sharer. I'd hate to think I was getting email intended for several different people; one is annoying enough.

But I have a feeling I've found her, because we share the same birthday, as well as the same name. I'm sure it's a sign.
taste_is_sweet: (Vague)
Hi, guys! The local District School Board's Christmas vacation is almost up, and I've finally wrested my laptop away from my beloved child without feeling too guilty about him not being able to play Minecraft. He loves Minecraft; most of the world loves Minecraft, apparently. I get seasick when I try to play it.

Since I'm more-or-less online again, I thought I'd pull a Shea* riff off [livejournal.com profile] brumeier's idea and publicly display my New Year's Resolutions in the optimistic hope that it'll mean I actually keep them. (I know Brum isn't the only person on LJ who's done this, but I haven't read my FList since some date that I'm scared to find out for certain.)

So, here is what I want to accomplish this year:

Writing:
--Finish a novel, preferably two.
--Get that novel published.
--Write at least 1000 words a day, per the above.
--Get my already finished novel Blood for Magic published. Please, for the love of God.
--Post something in my LJ every week. Preferably something people want to read. Unlike this.

Everything Else:
--Keep up my food and exercise regimen, which seems to be working out okay.
--Do the exercises and stretch my physio therapist gave me, so I don't end up looking like a hunchback when I'm 80. (It'd also be nice not to have my back hurt all the time.)
--Try to worry less (I already know I'm going to fail at this one, but what the hell.)

Not too ambitious, I think. We'll see how it goes. :)

How about you guys? Trying anything new for the new year?





*Actually, since I said I stole it, I didn't really steal it. But I still totally think that 'Pulling a Shea' should be a new term.
taste_is_sweet: (But some of us are looking at the stars)
Might as well get this out of the way now: I love fictional androids. It's the whole not-human-but-striving-to-be-and/or-understand-humans thing, especially when they're used to point out all the very, very many ways that we humans don't make any sense. And I love the cynical but lonely humans who get paired with the androids and then, despite themselves, fall in love become their friend.

I may have written fanfiction on that very premise. I admit nothing.

As you can imagine, with my love of human-like robots, I was looking forward to Almost Human the way my son is looking forward to Christmas. The show's set in the near-future, where cops are issued robots like handguns. Karl Urban plays John Kennex (not to be confused with John Sheppard or any of the thousands of other fictional characters called 'John'), who is an embittered, physically and emotionally scarred, cynical and guilt-ridden detective.

Naturally, Kennex's go-to problem solving method is violence, including killing incapacitated bad guys (because due process is for pussies, amirite?) and getting rid of things that bug him by throwing them out. Of his car. On the freeway. (Because safety and private property are also for pussies.)


Start at .22 for the full impact. Heh.

He is reluctantly paired with Dorian, a sweet, thoughtful, kind and beautiful heroic android, who sees the special snowflake inside Kennex and immediately saves his life. Or maybe he's programmed that way; the show is a little unclear on that point. Anyway, they form a forced but then genuine partnership based on sarcastic jibes and mutual antagonism. And together they solve crime.

Michael Ealy is totally lovable. Look at that lovable smile.
 photo MichaelEaly.jpg

What's not to love, right? It promised to be a mash-up of Blade Runner, RoboCop and Due South, except where the Mountie's a robot and the Cop would be played by a New Zealander instead of a Canadian.

And then it finally aired, and four episodes later the show just makes me sad.

I've been trying to put my finger on exactly why a show that's ostensibly exactly what I could ever want has disappointed me so much. I think it's because, for something set up to be more about human/android relations than crime solving, it's turned out to be pretty much Law and Order: Everyone Has a Robot. I have no idea what rights Dorian may or may not have; I have no idea how he may feel about those rights; I don't even know what he does in his off-hours or where he does it. Does he go into standby mode? Does he borrow Kennex's desk and play spider solitaire? Does he have a designated wall-socket? Does he dream of electric sheep? All I know for sure after four episodes is that he doesn't want to die (not exactly a shock) and that he's way more useful than an iPhone.

What really gets my synthetic goat, though, is how the production of the show itself conforms so much to the status quo that you can paint the lack of inclusion by number. Of six regular cast members, only two are women, and the only female androids have been sex-bots.

Even worse, So far in the series the only people of color have been extras or have played bit parts. And yes, that includes Michael Ealy.

Why? Because he plays an android. His role in the show is as an other, not as a human. Dorian isn't a person of color because he isn't a person at all. I might feel differently if Dorian was more than an ingenious cipher, but until we find out how he feels about, well, anything, he isn't. And unfortunately, the show seems to be in no hurry to change that, either.

So instead of watching the beautiful men bantering, looking at each other longingly and saving each others' lives, I keep waiting for the show I wanted to actually begin. The body may be shiny and very nice to look at, but I'm still searching for a heart of gold.

taste_is_sweet: (Gilded)
I took the kid to watch Thor: The Dark World on the weekend. I can say without any spoilers whatsoever that it is a gripping, exciting and surprisingly dramatic movie that, IMHO, didn't deserve the bad rap it's been getting from critics. I loved it.

One of the many things I loved about the movie at the time was how Thor (i.e., Mr. Chris Hemsworth the beautiful) spent a short scene without a shirt, giving the audience a long, pleasant eyeful of the results of his extensive workout regimen.

Here is a picture for your edification, because I'm nothing if not thorough when it comes to research. (I know the picture is from his first movie, but the only differences are that in Thor 2 he's wetter and wearing different pants.)
You're welcome.
 photo Thorshirtless.jpg

As I said, I loved it, though that love was as much from the knowledge that it was complete and utter fanservice as it was from getting to see the dimples above the man's ass. (And it was even acknowledged as fanservice, in case you were wondering--poor Hemsworth struggles through discussing it here.)

I've posted about fanservice for women (and gay men) before, and my feeling is still that it's about damn time we females and non-het males get some of our own back too.

Mostly, anyway.

The thing is, when I was enthusing about the movie to my sister [livejournal.com profile] squeakyoflight that evening, she told me that she didn't like that scene precisely because it was fanservice. Objectifying men as well as women is still objectification, she said. And no one deserves to be treated like an object.

At the time, my argument was that since North American (and world, really) culture is patriarchal, that it's impossible to objectify men the same way we objectify women. We were seeing Thor's power there, as much as just seeing his body. But I've been thinking about it since then, and now I'm no longer so sure.

There was a great deal of completely reasonable uproar about the gratuitous scene showing Alice Eve in her underwear in Star Trek: Into Darkness, and in that scene Dr. Marcus's near-nudity is at least barely (ha! 'Bare'-ly) justifiable (she was changing into a special suit for diffusing a bomb). Hemsworth's scene in TtDW is not. It exists for no better reason than for the audience to admire him.

Fascinatingly, in the video interview I liked to above, Hemsworth says that the idea for the shirtless scene came from Joss Whedon, who said the movie needed a little 'romance' (which is I guess what they call fanservice in Hollywood). Whedon, of course, probably knows something about the male gaze, given his reputation of being one of the only Hollywood feminists out there. (Though admittedly your mileage may vary on the 'feminist' part.)

So on the one hand: thank you, Mr. Whedon, for recognizing that not every member of the audience for a superhero movie is going to be a straight male. On the other hand: really? Is this what you're advocating now, purposely setting aside screen time just for ogling? And why is this supposed to be okay?

It's not okay. It's definitely pretty and certainly amusing, but much as I've joked about it and I admit I enjoy it; even I know it's really not okay.

But as long as it's continuing, I'll still be happy that the men are getting semi-naked too. Maybe two wrongs don't make a right, but they do make things a little more fair.

(Movie still is from The Everett Collection.)

taste_is_sweet: (Please be Advised)
For someone unashamedly adverse to danger, I have a fascination with mountain climbing.

(Warning: this deals with dead climbers, so to both set and lighten the mood a little, here is a picture of my son being an adorable zombie for Halloween:)
Cutest. Zombie. Ever.
 photo ZombieJavierHalloween20135.jpg

Ready to read about dead people? Great, let's go: )



This post was inspired by a fantastic Avengers AU fanfic called The Mountain (though the mountain in the title is K2), written by Jay Tryfanstone

taste_is_sweet: (What?)
Tell me, my dear ones, what would you do if, on Halloween, your child came home with this note in her treat bag?

All that yummy fat shaming!
 photo Letteredited.jpg

Oh yes, that is real. It's also everywhere on the internet, though to check its legitimcacy I found it here at USA Today and here at Global News in Canada.

The woman, who probably regrets sending the letter to her local radio station, apparently sees it as her duty to solve the problem of childhood obesity by refusing to give the lil' chunky monkeys candy one night a year. Not only that, but by informing the obviously ignorant parents that their child is too fat to deserve candy. On Halloween.

You can probably tell what I think about this, but the first thing I thought when I saw this wasn't 'that's mean', but 'that's stupid'. How can this woman purport to know which child is 'moderately obese'? And what, exactly, is her criteria? Unlike adults, determining the BMI range for children is far more complicated. Worse, it's not even terribly accurate. If you can't tell if a child is at a healthy weight by measuring, how can you tell just by looking? And who or what gave her the right anyway?

I'm not sure how she thinks this is going to help. First of all, it's pretty damn likely that the parents already know. Second, telling a kid that they're too fat for candy isn't motivating, it's humiliating. And--which I'm sure comes as a big surprise to absolutely no one--fat shaming doesn't work. And it certainly won't work if some person the child likely doesn't even know shoves a note into their treat bag.

As other people said in comments on the sites carrying this story: if you don't want to contribute to childhood obesity, then don't give candy. Give stickers, or raisins, or pencils. Or turn off the porch light and don't give anything at all.

Personally, I'd much rather be known as the stingy neighbor who's never home on Halloween than the bitch who humiliated someone else's child. Though she might end up known as the house everybody toiletpapers or eggs. After all, it takes a village to do some serious pranking.

taste_is_sweet: (Keep Calm and Arrrgh!)
Say you want a Revolution, one that decimates civilization as we know it but without the pesky piles of corpses or shambling dead. How would you do it, if you were, for example, a television producer with perhaps more enthusiasm than interest in logic or scientific accuracy?

(Please be advised that below are spoilers for the pilot episode of The Walking Dead and the Big Reason for the lack of electricity on Revolution.)

Why, you'd create a action/adventure/drama/wholesale carnage series with the premise that once upon a time 15 years or so before the action starts, some science people did the usual Well Meant but Very Bad Sciencey things (because reasons) and created wee little nanobots with the sole purpose of eating electricity and reproducing themselves.

"You'll be cool if I leave you here for a few weeks. Right, buddy?"
 photo Coma.jpg

I'll let you think about the inherent problem of that while I chew on (ha!) that other show where civilization's been decimated, this time by The Walking Dead. (See what I did there?) This show bothers me for many reasons, not least of which is how animated corpses could rot so damn slowly in a warm climate. But the thing that bugs me the most is how our hero, Rick, misses the chaos of the outbreak because he's in a coma.

This isn't the first time this trope has been used (I know it was part of the premise for 28 Days Later), but it still makes me crazy. Being in a coma ≠ being in suspended animation. Being left unattended in a coma for weeks = certain and rapid death. It only takes three days to die of dehydration, regardless of how inactive your brain might be at the time. Not to mention infections, edema, starvation--if you even last that long--and blood clots.

Needless to say, when the entire premise of a show makes me crazy, I'm not going to be a big fan. And few shows make me crazier than Revolution.

No matter how badass everyone looks with the old-timey weapons.
 photo Capture.jpg

Remember those nanobots that eat electricity? Well, they were designed to eat all electricity. Everywhere. And it's been mentioned many times that the nanobots are inside everyone's bodies, too.

The thing is, human brains need electricity to function Hell, as far as I can understand it, so does all life on Earth. Electricity-absorbing nanobots wouldn't just kill our smart phones, they would kill everything. Our planet would be a static-free, sterile ball of dirt.

If I had to choose, I'd rather have a ball of dirt covered with lurching cadavers and the desperate remnants of humanity. But really, I'd rather sleep through both of them. ;)

(Pictures courtesy of Screencapped.net and Google Images.)

taste_is_sweet: (Atlantis and the Storm)
This post is almost spoiler-free, but I feel I should warn ayway. :)

Let me say this immediately, lest anyone think this is a bad film: It is not, by any means, a bad film. I really, really enjoyed it. Guillermo del Toro obviously loves giant monsters and giant robots, and he is exceptional at world-building and visual details. Considering this was basically a live-action Anime, it packed an emotional punch that had me almost in tears at one point and actually crying at another. It was also scary as all hell in some places. Not because of the violence or gore (there's surprisingly little, considering it's giant robots fighting giant monsters), but because the survival of the robots and thus their pilots is so precarious. The Mary Sue has a very nice review of the movie here, if you're interested (beware some minor spoilers). It was a great movie and I'm sure I'll be seeing it again.

But (and there always is one, alas) for a movie that was so wonderfully surprising (I never expected to cry during a movie about giant monsters fighting giant robots), it was also surprisingly predictable. I mean, how many of you awesome flisties haven't guessed who's going to kak it from the trailer alone? And if you've seen the trailers, then the first death is pretty obvious too.

A hell of a lot is pretty obvious, actually, but that's just narrative stuff, and it was kind of fun being able to point out to my less movie-savvy son what was likely going to happen next because that's what happens in these kind of movies. A little less fun was how the young hothead was Australian, the twitchy, over-excited scientist was American, and the twitchy, uptight mathematician was of course a Brit. Or how the Russians were large, taciturn and smirkily aloof, and piloted a Jaeger (the giant robots) that looked like something out of Bladerunner as envisioned by Stalin. And that death we all saw coming in the trailer, which was the worst. Can't filmmakers ever think of using anyone other than stereotypes?

Though it was pretty cool that one of the two Russians was female. Considering that in the movie the whole world has been fighting the Kaiju for years and populations have been decimated, one might think that the sibling or parent/child teams chosen to pilot the Jaegers might include at least one pair of sisters, or a father and daughter (or, hey, a mother and daughter) instead of yet another pair of brothers or father and son. Don't get me wrong--Mako Mori is an awesome female character. But I really wish she wasn't one of only two. Charlie Hunnam is nice to look at, and Raleigh Becket, the character he played, was sweetly heroic. But 'Raleigh' is a perfectly acceptable girl's name, and the wonderful 'chosen family' relationship between the two main characters wouldn't have been diminished in the least if Raleigh actually had been a woman. Hell, I think it would've made the movie even better.

Less predictable, too, in the best way possible. And wow, would I ever love that.
taste_is_sweet: (Want to dive into your ocean)
I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but:

This is beautifully written but very sad Huffington Post blog by Linda Robertson, about how she learned to truly love her gay son, but too late to save his life.

Initially, Ms. Robertson and her husband told their son Ryan that they loved him no matter what, but that he needed to reconcile his sexuality with the teachings of Jesus and the expectations of God. But because it's impossible to change how you're born, naturally all the prayer and good intentions in the world couldn't make Ryan 'normal'. Ryan eventually became a drug addict to numb his self-loathing.

Shortly before Ryan died of an overdose, his parents realized that having their child home, safe and well was far, far more important than his sexuality. They also came to the conclusion that if God wouldn't change Ryan's sexuality, than maybe it was because Ryan had been born exactly as had been intended.

I have deistic leanings though I don't believe in God, but even so it seems eminently logical that if an all-powerful, perfect being keeps dropping humans onto this overcrowded planet, then whatever way we're born is how we should be. To me this is as obvious and indelible as needing oxygen. God doesn't make mistakes, right? Right.

The problem is that a lot of--far too many--people think that God's repertoire is limited. That somehow the supreme being who gave us Sunflower Sea Stars and Echidnas could only figure out binary sexuality and gender when it comes to Hir supposedly favourite creations. So God doesn't make mistakes, but we can somehow choose to be mistakes. Which doesn't even make any sense--why would anyone choose to live in a way that most people still abhor?

They wouldn't, and they don't. But children (and adults) are still dying because of the pain of denying who they are or trying to change it. I'm sure that's not what God wants. Too bad humans are far more fallible.
taste_is_sweet: (Rodney Work)
Hey, Flisties! I've just donated to Global Giving for the Oklahoma tornado victims, but I was hoping I could participate in an auction as well. Do you know if there will be or is a community like [livejournal.com profile] help_japan for Oklahoma? I tried to find one yesterday but was unsuccessful, though it was probably too early.

Thank you!

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