Great British Sewing Bee

Mar. 6th, 2015 07:23 pm
queen_ypolita: Woman in a Mucha painting (Mucha by auctrix_icons)
[personal profile] queen_ypolita
I was really looking forward to the new series when it started as I'd enjoyed watching the first two, but with one more episode to go, I'm feeling a bit disappointed. Chatting to my colleague T over lunch, it seemed she was thinking along the same lines.

Sending two people home last week and this week seemed rushed, and I think it might have made more sense to ship two people home in the first couple of weeks rather than these two weeks. I feel there hasn't really been enough to time to get to know the contestants, which results in me not really caring about them doing well. And it feels that the contestants haven't really had a chance to grow and shine over time.

And there's one person—Matt— in the final whose presence there completely mystifies me. Several times during the series when his work has been presented I've just had enough time to think how sloppy, wonky or lumpy it looks like only for the judges to praise it. And I haven't had that kind of disconnect with any of the other contestants, so it makes me wonder what I'm missing.
oursin: image of hedgehogs having sex (bonking hedgehogs)
[personal profile] oursin

Initially, my heart sort of sank when I read this, because I thought, 'oh, wow, is this Clitoraid reprised?': My ambition is to empower all women to have orgasms.

Which I think is possibly a clickbait headline imposed at a higher editorial level, because Firliana Purwanti really has some sensible things to say from within Indonesian culture (though I am wondering about class and status and degrees of privilege), and its need

to be honest to resolve our issues around teen pregnancy, sexual transmitted diseases, sex workers and discrimination against LGBT people.

What she's really incensed about, and what the bulk of the article concerns, is the imposition of highly physical intrusive (and not actually reliable, hat-tip to Hanne Blank's important work) virginity tests by various state organisations (the police, the military, educational institutions), and it appears that there is a good deal of pushback going on.

I am just not sure whether she has things right end on when she claims that

women who have orgasms have equal personal relationships, are able to express themselves and, most importantly, are free from violence.

Given Kinsey's findings in his 1953 report on US women that there was a notable class, economic and educational-level component to whether women enjoyed sex (almost I think the reverse of men, because as I recall without actually looking it up, he found that middle class men were more likely to be sad anxious unspontaneous creatures with hangups and problems).

I.e. that it's the empowering of women in other areas that enables their orgasmic empowerment.

Yes, I will concede that it's All More Complicated and this is not necessarily universal and that no generalisation is wholly true (including this one), but I am also thinking of the early C20th British birth controllers and their discovery that really, you had to stop women being scared that letting their husband bother them would lead to pregnancy no 12, before they could start thinking about the Marie Stopes vision of conjugal bliss.

Plus, I am not sure the ultimate sign of empowerment is an orgasm.

(no subject)

Mar. 6th, 2015 03:51 pm
cimorene: (Default)
[personal profile] cimorene
So as the lone native speaker in an English "shower" (less than an immersion which in Finnish is a "bath", so it's a sort of pun) daycare where part of the paid service is using English phrases with children, should I correct my Finnish coworkers' mispronunciations?

I've noticed two so far, but I haven't corrected them. In one case she'd already taught all the children to pronounce "owl" OH-wl, and in the other she wasn't talking to the children at all and I presume she just said pudding ("POOdding") so any little eavesdroppers wouldn't realize we were having chocolate for snacktime and get excited in advance.

People feel quite differently about such things - some welcome it and some hate it - so usually I don't offer corrections without strong reason to believe the person would welcome it, usually when they've asked me to teach them something. But having been told that I was chosen for the work practice partly so they could get the benefit of my English skills (although the context for that was using them to talk to the children!)...?

Fat girl running

Mar. 6th, 2015 11:42 am
liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
[personal profile] liv
I am a fan of Naomi Alderman in general, and I was really impressed with her piece on being a fat person who made a fitness app (the app in question is Zombies, Run!, which I've been enjoying after several of you recommended it to me. So [personal profile] rmc28, you might be particularly interested in the linked article). I love the title There's no morality in exercise and the lede You’re not a better person for working out, or a worse person for not. And the whole piece really resonated with me. It was so important to me to find a way into exercise that isn't about weight loss or morality, and particularly not weight-loss conflated with morality, and I feel like Alderman really gets that. Plus what she says about competition is really wise; if only people who are already highly athletic are allowed to train and improve, that's a pretty unhelpful situation.

As well as agreeing with Alderman politically, I find that my experiences in many ways chime with hers, so I want to babble about that for a bit. This will involve talking about weight, body image, dieting and social attitudes to health / fitness / weight, all that scary complicated emotive stuff. I also mention childhood bullying, which is not a very surprising thing to come up in this sort of context.

reasons for exercise )

And it's not a moral imperative, not at all, I get certain benefits from exercise but I could well imagine another person deciding it's not worth the effort. I am putting a lot of time in, and I have had to give up some stuff I wanted to do to be able to do this regular running. But at least I want to offer the possibility that you can exercise because you want to, you don't have to try for weight loss, you don't have to do it because it's healthy and you are obliged to strive for health. And you can still exercise even if, like me, you're fairly bad at it. Competition can be fun, but it's not the only option.

Provisional Hugo nominations

Mar. 6th, 2015 09:21 pm
starlady: (through the trapdoor)
[personal profile] starlady
Links are sporadic in the below list: I am tired. Ballots are due at 23:59 on 10 March (Pacific time). To vote in the actual awards, join Sasquan as a supporting member (bonus: you can vote for site selection for the 2017 Worldcon, i.e. the one that should be in Helsinki!)

Best Novel
  • Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
  • The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
  • Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
  • Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
  • The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)
  • Snowpiercer
  • Interstellar
  • Maleficent
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)
  • Orphan Black, "By Which Means Have Never Yet Been Tried"
  • Orphan Black, "Governed As It Were By Chance"
  • Welcome to Night Vale, "Old Oak Doors (Parts A and B)"
  • The Legend of Korra, "Day of the Colossus"
  • The Legend of Korra, "The Last Stand"

Graphic Story
  • Gene Luen Yang & Sonny Lieu, The Shadow Hero
  • G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona, Ms. Marvel, Vol 1: No Normal
  • Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples, Saga Volume Three
  • Kurtis J. Wiebe & Roc Upchurch, Rat Queens, Vol 1: Sass & Sorcery
  • Kelly Sue DeConnick & David Lopez, Captain Marvel: Higher, Faster, Further, More

Best Semiprozine
  • Strange Horizons
  • Giganotosaurus
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Best Fanzine
Best Editor (long form)
  • Sheila Gilbert

Campbell Award
  • Alyssa Wong
  • Isabel Yap

Best Related Work
  • Tropes vs Women’s "Women as Background Decoration" by Anita Sarkeesian

Best Fan Writer
  • Liz Bourke
  • Abigail Nussbaum
  • Foz Meadows
  • Natalie Luhrs

Best Novelette
  • Xia Jia, “Spring Festival: Happiness, Anger, Sorrow, Love, Joy”
  • Yoon Ha Lee, “The Bonedrake’s Penance”:
  • "I Can See Right Through You" by Kelly Link
  • "A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai'i" by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Best Short Story
  • "The Breath of War" by Aliette de Bodard (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
  • "Cimmeria: From the Journal of Imaginary Anthropology" by Theodora Goss (Lightspeed)
  • Alyssa Wong, “Santos de Sampaguita”
  • "Elephants and Omnibuses" by Julia August (Lackington's)

Daily Happiness

Mar. 6th, 2015 12:10 am
torachan: ryu from kimi ni todoke eating ramen (ramen)
[personal profile] torachan
1. I got my paycheck today and it was indeed significantly larger than usual.

2. I also got my California tax refund!

3. Because of 1 & 2, we got pizza for dinner.

4. I had a whole bunch of expired pound cakes that I wasn't sure the vendor was going to give me credit for, but not only did he give credit, but he left the pound cakes there for us to eat. :D I've been having some for breakfast the past couple days.


Mar. 5th, 2015 10:30 pm
torachan: brandon flowers of the killers with the text "some beautiful boy to save you" (some beautiful boy to save you)
[personal profile] torachan
I actually have been listening to some new music these days, by way of the satellite music thingy we have at work. When I hear a song I like, I sometimes remember to shazam it. The problem is remembering to take a look at my shazammed songs when I'm home and can look for downloads, but I actually did that today and will now share with you some of my new discoveries!

I was going to write up something about each song except it was all just "it's catchy!" (Though I will say Feel This Moment is particularly notable for its sampling of Take On Me.)

Justin Timberlake - Mirrors

Meghan Trainor - Dear Future Husband

Pitbull feat. Christina Aguilera - Feel This Moment

Kelly Clarkson - Heartbeat Song

Rixton - Me and My Broken Heart

Bryan Adams - Here I Am

Brandon Heath - You Decide

Okay, this next one was not actually new to me, apparently. But I shazammed it more than once because the title just would not stick in my mind, and then today when I went to download it I found I actually already had it on my harddrive! But it's really good so I wanted to include it. :D

Celine Dion - That's the Way It Is


Mar. 5th, 2015 04:41 pm
jae: (theamericansgecko)
[personal profile] jae
There are just so many things I love about The Americans, but I swear, this is the thing I love the most of all of them (taken from this article, which contains season three spoilers even though this quote doesn't):
Joking aside, part of our fundamental operating principle is in real life people are many things simultaneously. That's interesting and hard and complicated. It's easy to say, "That person is sleazy" or "That person is tender and loving." To the extent this is a show about undermining one's preconceptions of the enemy, it's really even more about undermining this binary view of people. And accepting that humanity is a very nuanced thing.


"Our work is not for you"

Mar. 5th, 2015 03:28 pm
jae: (statisticalanomalygecko)
[personal profile] jae
Back in February (wow, how is it even March already?), I lurked on a bunch of meta about the fallout from a university course about fanfiction. Most fans in in the discussion seemed to take some form of the "fannish works cannot be divorced from their fannish context" argument for granted (though there was certainly plenty of opposition to that take as well), and one of those fans was [ profile] ivyblossom, who had (among other things) the following to say:
Our work is not for you. I know this one is hard to understand. If someone’s written a story, or otherwise created art, surely that’s for the whole world. Surely we want everyone to see it, like any other novel or piece of work. You need to stop thinking that way. Fandom doesn’t create work for the whole world. It creates work for a specific community, and that community has expectations, norms, jargon, customs, traditions, ethical rules, and structures that you don’t yet understand. 

If you’re a fan of “alternative” and bluegrass anti-folk music and you listen to rap for the first time and are like, wow, this isn’t music, this sucks! you already know you’re being an asshole for judging something you have failed to explore fairly on its own terms. It’s not that different when you turn your eyes to fanworks. Before you can judge us, you need to understand where we’re coming from, what our own strictures are, and what we’re trying to achieve. Don’t barge in and tell people what you think they could do better. You don’t even understand what we’re doing in the first place, okay?

This part of [ profile] ivyblossom's post has been going around and around in my head ever since then, and I've been thinking about the extent to which the "our work is not for you" tenet holds true for me (since my approach to fandom and fanfiction is often rather different from the approaches that are held up as "typical"). And the verdict is: it turns out it actually does hold somewhat true...more so than I might have expected at first.

I mean, on the one hand, there are plenty of ways in which this clearly does not hold true for me. For one, I am not at all the sort of fan who looks at, say, a mainstream article about yuletide that links to fanworks, and thinks "oh my god, that is such an awful thing to do!" (I am instead the sort of fan who gets a little wistful that my own story wasn't one of the ones linked to *g*). For another, I've never been terribly enthusiastic about many of the standard fannish expectations, norms, bits of jargon, etc., and so they don't really apply to my stories. And for yet another, I've always encouraged my non-fannish friends and relatives to read my stories once they have expressed an interest in doing so, and I've never felt a need to explain any sort of surrounding fannish context for those stories first (beyond "have you seen the show/read the book it's based on? okay, good, that's important!").

And yet when I think about the sentence "fandom doesn't create work for the whole world," I have to say that statement holds true for me as well. Example: I live in total irrational fear that people I work with will find out that I write fanfiction, track it down, and read some of it. And you can attribute this in part to me being in a profession that tends to think that if you're not either working or sleeping or spending time with your family, you're slacking off (I am incidentally currently thumbing my nose at this tenet of my profession by sitting in my office while writing up this post: ha-ha, take that!), but I think it probably has at least as much to do with the fact that I know many of the people I work with would read what I write and not get it at all. As things stand currently, you don't have to be a participant in organized fandom to read my stories, but you have to at least know enough about organized fandom to find them: you have to follow a link from my journal, or know (mostly fannish) people who can recommend them to you, or know about the Archive of our Own and use the search tools to find them that way. And those gatekeeping mechanisms make it much more likely that the people who do come across it will be the kinds of people who, as [ profile] ivyblossom says, "know what I'm doing in the first place." Even in the case of a mainstream journalism article about yuletide, there would be some basic form of gatekeeping mechanism through the topic of the article (which is why that idea doesn't bother me). If one of my colleagues were to send a URL to another and attach my name to it, though, without any sort of intentionality behind seeking it out in the first place...ugh, that very idea just horrifies me (and not at all because I'm embarrassed by anything I've written, because I'm not).

I guess what it comes down to is that while I don't really write "for fandom," I do write for a certain type of reader: the sort of person who gets something out of thinking about a television show, book, or film long after they've stopped watching or reading it, and who prefers to conceive of and talk about the characters in those source texts as full-fledged people with rich internal lives. If you are the kind of person who takes said television shows, books, or films much less seriously than that, you are very unlikely to find my fanfiction worth reading, and there is at least some chance that you might find it weird and off-putting. Fandom is where I've found an audience for what I write, so clearly there are plenty of readers like that in that community. It's clear to me, though, that there are lots of people who participate in organised fandom who are not readers like that, and it's also clear to me that there are people outside of organised fandom who are readers like that. So for me, the issue isn't that my work needs to be read within its fannish context, but that my work needs to be read by...the sorts of people who will appreciate the sort of thing that it is? And at the moment, this means the fannish context is important because it works as a gatekeeping mechanism that keeps away most of the kinds of people who won't tend to get it. (It unfortunately also probably keeps away a lot of people who would tend to get it, but hey, I never said it was a perfect gatekeeping mechanism.)

To bring things back around to the "fannish studies" course that was the original topic of the discussion I lurked on, then: when I asked myself if I would have been upset by one of my stories being included in that syllabus, my answer was both yes and no, with a tilting toward yes. On the "no" side is my knee-jerk "moar readers yay!" reaction, but I think that's more than drowned out by a real distaste for the idea that these people would have to read my story in order to get course credit (ugh) and the fact that they were required to leave comments in order to get that credit as well (double ugh). I enjoy being read, so I'd always love to get more eyes on my stories, but if the cost of that is a whole bunch of people reading it who won't be able to wrap their minds around why I might want to write something like that in the first place, I'd much rather languish in obscurity!
cimorene: (stfu)
[personal profile] cimorene
I got so much appreciation for overacted death-by-poisonings from some preschoolers today that they got overexcited and started throwing the plastic insects at me instead of "biting" me with them and I had to ultimately say,

"Girls - GIRLS! NO! - You know you aren't allowed to throw - DON'T THROW - STOP IT. No throwing toys and - STOP no pulling my clothes! Tugging on people's clothes isn't allowed!"

I didn't even get to use more than a tiny fraction of the potential overacted death impressions available to me, and apparently this activity is about as safe and sane for 4-year-old ingestion as a whole bag of Halloween candy all at once, so I suppose I won't be able to go back to it. Their tiny bodies just can't handle that amount of excitement I guess.

Happy purim

Mar. 5th, 2015 11:35 am
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
[personal profile] liv
So a couple of weeks ago I helped run a bar mitzvah in our synagogue. And we ended up getting a write-up in the Jewish Chronicle, a newspaper that exists primarily so that British Jews can call eachother to point out that someone they know is in the JC. Anyway I somehow get referred to as Professor, which is very embarrassing indeed. (In the UK Professor is a title of merit, not a job title, it's very bad to be called that when you haven't earned it.) But it's also the case that here a picture in a national newspaper, showing me, who most people will correctly presume to be female, [pretending to] read the Torah in an Orthodox synagogue. Where up to now we have been small enough and provincial enough to be pretty much under the radar with our shockingly egalitarian ways.

This has led to the Chabad rabbi from Manchester phoning everybody he has contact details for, railing about how terrible it is to let a woman read the Megillah, the ceremonial scroll of the book of Esther for Purim. I don't know where he's coming from halachically, considering that reading Megillah is the one thing that even most gender-essentialist sources say that women can do, but there you go. He's been threatening that the community will be cursed if they do this very important mitzvah wrong, and also trying to bribe people by offering to hold a break-away service in the pub and buy everybody drinks if they come and listen to his reading instead of my gender-inappropriate one.

My lovely community were unanimously loyal to me, partly because we don't like random Chabadniks showing up and trying to cozen the community away from our synagogue. And at least in part because everybody prefers my fun dramatic reading where I do all the dialogue in silly voices and give snarky summaries in English and make Haman talk like Nigel Farage, over the rabbi's very fast mumbly chant in a thick Yiddish accent. I am so tempted to dress up as the Chabad rabbi next year, with a false beard, and offer people cheap vodka and sawdusty excessively parve cakes, but maybe that wouldn't be in good taste. But this is another chapter in an ongoing saga.

In fact I dressed up as a backwards person, wearing a mask on the back of my head and a jacket and shirt buttoned at the back, plus my hair in a ponytail over my forehead, which caused much amusement. It was a smaller purim than we sometimes have, as several of our regulars are away and most parents didn't want to bring children to a weekday evening event. We did have an Elsa and a mummy, who both found presents they wanted in my bag of kids' presents, so that was something. Reverend Malcom Weisman turned up, not particularly in his capacity as minister for small communities but just because he was on the way home from Lancaster and wanted to drop by and hear Megillah, and he was very supportive.

And then I went out for meal at the local Italian that was offering a mid-week deal, and on to Hector Garcia's for a cocktail instead of dessert. Their special was a tiramisu drink, made of kahlua and vodka and cream and flavoured with vanilla and chocolate. I like cream-based cocktails, and I liked sitting in this somewhat chain-ish but pleasant tapas bar drinking my dessert and drunk-texting people to say I love them. Some of my friends were especially lovely and said they'd have a cocktail that evening, so I was sort of virtually drinking with friends instead of by myself. And I do love all the people I said it to, and I don't have to be drunk to say so, just I was in a particularly sentimental mood, having successfully run an event and settled down to relax with alcohol.

Also thanks to [personal profile] kass for pointing to Purimgifts and explaining how to navigate the AO3 page for it. I've been having a lot of fun browsing through stories that are either midrash, or are in fandoms I'm familiar with. I particularly enjoyed In the citadel of Susa, a Vashti POV take on Esther.

(no subject)

Mar. 5th, 2015 08:50 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] katharine_b!

Is this really a good idea?

Mar. 5th, 2015 08:35 am
oursin: Photograph of Stella Gibbons, overwritten IM IN UR WOODSHED SEEING SOMETHIN NASTY (woodshed)
[personal profile] oursin

Have feeling this has made the rounds before? Spotted on FaceBook -

You know how people buy drinks for girls in bars? Why can't people do that in book stores? Like if I'm looking at a novel in Barnes and Noble and some person walks up to me and strikes up a conversation and offers to buy the book for me there is a lot better chance of that working out in their favor. I'm going to reblog this until it's a cultural norm.

Introvert reader sez NO!

Is this not a fundamental misunderstanding of why people are in bookshops and their expectations of that space, akin to letting interior designers loose on that strange-to-them notion of books in a house?

Also, if this is seen as equivalent to the bar scene, I feel that it's not so much 'people' doing the picking up by buying drink for 'girls', as there's an implicit men-picking-up-women scenario built in, so that

a) O HAI this becomes yet another venue for men to hit on women who are going about their business.

b) I also envisage that the men don't come up and offer to buy the book the woman's reading, what they do is try and force her to read by buying it for her some book they admire rather than the one she wants, with optional dissing on what she's actually looking at.

(Especially with the sad decline of specialist women's bookshops, where, yes, one can envisage this playing out differently perhaps.)

Wot, me, cynical?

Daily Happiness

Mar. 4th, 2015 11:30 pm
torachan: onoda sakamichi from yowamushi pedal with a huge smile (onoda smile)
[personal profile] torachan
1. I woke up before the alarm today (thanks, kitten). I can't say I was thrilled about being woken up at five, but it did give me time to eat breakfast before work.

2. I only have to work half a day tomorrow! Looking forward to maybe taking a nap when I get home.

3. Thanks to all the overtime I've been getting, plus one paid day off for Presidents' Day, this week's paycheck and the next one are going to be nice and hefty!

4. Carla made some really tasty chicken and rice tonight.

Sirens Reading Challenge!!

Mar. 5th, 2015 12:43 pm
starlady: Peggy in her hat with her back turned under the SSR logo (agent carter)
[personal profile] starlady
I feel like longtime readers of this platform will already be aware of my love for the Sirens Conference, which is focused on girls, women, and female-identifying people in fantasy and science fiction--with a particular focus on YA--as readers, writers, and characters. It's in Denver this year, and Yoon Ha Lee, Rae Carson, and Kate Elliott are the guests! You should join us, it's going to be awesome.

This year Sirens has formalized an attendees' version of the staff reading lists as the Sirens Reading Challenge. I am historically very good at winning books and at book-related challenges, and this year's theme--Rebels--is near and dear to my heart, so I am doubly excited for this.

List below the cut; I've copied the links from the Sirens webpage to preserve the partner links to the Tattered Cover, Denver's independent bookstore. Bolded = already read.

I am so excited. )
It's going to be great.


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