vixy: (bookhenge)
I've decided to keep doing this, to have a record of my thoughts & reactions and to recommend things to others, but to try not to treat it like a scorekeeping post anymore. Keeping count of how many books  I've read in a year made this start to feel like a chore. So, no more of that. :)

(2015 post is finished & can be found here.)

To the books, then!

The Book of a Thousand Nights and a Night, translated by Richard Burton (vol.10). Well. I've realized why this has been so long. In part it's all the footnotes, but it's also a gazillion indices and appendices and essays by Burton. After I actually finished the 1001st night, and the conclusion of the story proper, I wondered how we would have six more volumes to go. Volume 10 finished out with lists of comparisons between Burton's translations and others (and how his is in all ways superior), lists of Arabic source texts, lists of French and German translations and the stories therein, long essays on how the Nights came to be assembled (which might have been interesting, but Burton's academic writing style is atrociously pompous and self-congratulatory and really I just want to punch him), alphabetical lists of characters, alphabetical lists of first lines of each story (why would you even want that), and I don't even remember what all else. I felt no compunction about skipping all of this when it began with an essay by Burton on "the Muslim" and how now we, his readers, are acquainted with the Muslim, and how "he is this and that and the other" and pretty much describing "the Muslim" (man) as if all are the same (Muslim women not meriting even this much scholarly attention) and noble-savaging the hell out of them. Noooooope.

I'm about to begin volume 11, which are "supplementary stories" which... it's a little hard to follow Burton's description, but I think that these stories were included in the Nights proper in some people's edits and not in others, and translators/editors don't agree on their origins or authenticity. But then, since they already don't agree on the origins of the rest of the collection (Burton points out evidence in his footnotes of some of the stories having been added much later than others purport to be-- for example, the reference to coffee, which was not drunk until historically recently, he says) I don't think the concept of these stories being "authentic" even has any meaning. 

Which doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the tales!  I'm still fascinated by the tale-within-a-tale-within-a-tale structure that's often used in them. And while there's a wholllle other view of morality than mine going on in them, and a whole lot of violence sometimes too, they're good solid fantasy stories, with marvels and wonders and riches, and with a whole lot of characters bringing about their own misfortune through their flaws and/or being rewarded (eventually) for their virtues. (Also quite a lot of lovers trying to figure out how to get together. Human nature being what it is.)

Once I finish Burton, I'm planning to read the whole 1001 Nights in a different translation, and see how they grab me (and which ones stick with me) when seen through a different and hopefully better lens.

Welcome to Night Vale, by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor. I might actually have finished this in 2015, but forgot to put it on that post. Anyway, I LOVED IT. It's especially delightful if you're a fan of the podcast, but you actually don't need to know anything about the podcast or be caught up in order to enjoy the story. You do have to be a fan of the slightly weird. It's mostly a story about two women on a quest to fix several things that have been fucked up by men. 

Why Shoot a Butler?, by Georgette Heyer. I'm kind of on an English country-house mystery kick right now, and going through Heyer since I've long ago exhausted Christie and Sayers and mostly exhausted Marsh. Heyer's characters are often a little flat, but character-driven stories are not really what one reads country-house mysteries for. Some of her books have a recurring detective character, which fleshes him and his sidekick out a bit more, but not all. 

This particular one involves a woman who clearly didn't do it but still lies about finding the body, a lawyer who shields her even though she's a total stranger and they don't like each other, a drunk, an heir, and suspicious servants all over the place. It got a little ridiculous in its complexity, but it was a good read.

They Found Him Dead, by Georgette Heyer. This one rang a bell for me about halfway through, but for some reason I only remembered the murder attempt in the middle part of it, which means either I'd read the book before and forgotten, or someone else used the same trick. Both are equally likely!

Anyway, this one involves secret heirs, as so many of them do, an observant child whom nobody believes at first except the plucky heroine, a fiery old woman and her maid devoted to the point of obsession, and a trick shot. Pretty engaging even if I could see it coming.

Blunt Instrument, by Georgette Heyer.  Mixed feelings about this one.

One of the main characters is one of those young men who act outrageously just for outrage's sake: saying rude things, deliberately courting suspicion because it's funny, making a show of being above all social conventions and being better than everyone because he's so honest.  The kind of twonk I wouldn't spend more than five minutes with in real life if I could possibly avoid it, and the kind of character that might as well have RED HERRING painted across his forehead. It really distracted from the rest of the story.  And for some inexplicable reason he has a love interest! Ugh.

The solution was a unique one, however, and I did figure it out a little over halfway through, but it didn't feel like it was too easy. It's a rare thing actually to have a mystery that doesn't give everything away too easily, but also doesn't withhold clues and spring a murderer on you that was never even in the book until the end. So on the whole I'd say I enjoyed it.

Unfinished Clue, by Georgette Heyer.  Might be my favorite of hers so far. Another one where it wasn't completely obscure, but wasn't easy, either. I actually thought I had figured it out and then I was wrong!  A bit complicated as far as timelines, and it'd be nice if she didn't insist on putting a romance B-plot into every single book. I did appreciate the very female-led ensemble here, and the wide variety of character types. Very engrossing.

vixy: (Default)
I wasn't into comics as a kid, or so I was telling my friends at a con recently.
As a teenager I got into Elfquest after I happened to pull the novelization off my stepmom's bookshelf; she later gave me the first two or three volumes of the graphic novel. I followed the trades through the end of the main story.
Around ten years ago I got into Queen and Country (again in trade volumes) because Fishy & I had watched and loved the TV show Sandbaggers. The Minders were a little more hands-on than the Sandbaggers, and the stories were a lot more graphic and disturbing, but I still liked it.
 In the last couple years I started checking out some Wonder Woman trades, with the guidance of a comic geek friend, because when I was a kid I loved the TV show so much. My friends and I would spin around on the lawn and pretend to be Lynda Carter. I also discovered Saga, I think maybe because of the Hugos actually.
 Until recently I never really thought any of those things "counted" as far as being into comics. For storage reasons I don't buy single issues. I don't know much about the big Marvel & DC universes (and I don't care). I like the select few things I like, but as I said, I wasn't into comics as a kid.
 Except... I was?
It came to me, I think, when Torrey mentioned the ads on the back of some comic books, the ones for ridiculous mail-order products. Without thinking I was like "oh yeah, I remember those. X-ray specs, Sea Monkeys..." Wait, what? OMG I do. And the I remembered a whole bunch of stuff I had completely forgotten.
When I was little, 6 or 7 maybe, I used to read whatever comics I could get my hands on. I have no idea if there was a comic shop near me; I wouldn't have known there was such a thing. For me, comic books lived in a tall spinning rack at the grocery store checkout line, and I picked some out every time we went. Archie, Richie Rich, Tom and Jerry, and of course Disney. Scrooge McDuck, Donald... one of my favorites featured Daisy Duck's nieces, April, May, & June, who don't get nearly enough love in the Disney merch these days. (If they ever show up in the parks I will flip my fucking lid.)
And Fat Albert. (Yeah, Cosby reference. I was a child and it was the 1970s. I know now what he did, and I believe and stand with the victims, but this post is not about that, and I don't want to have discussions about it here. Please leave it out of the comments.)
One day I was in my room reading when it was time to go somewhere. I don't remember who was there; my parents, one or two of their friends. I might've been about to go visit Dad for the weekend. I came out of my room and someone asked what I'd been doing. I said reading. Someone asked what I'd been reading. I replied, "A Fat Albert comic book."
Literally everyone in the room BURST OUT LAUGHING.
I still remember feeling hurt. I remember burning embarrassment, and confusion. I didn't understand why all the grown-ups-- people I liked and admired-- were laughing at me. To be honest, I actually still don't really get what was funny about it. That I was a little suburban white girl reading about inner city black kids? That comic books weren't serious? That "fat" was a joke? I *loved* the Fat Albert cartoon on TV! They were kids who HAD A BAND and they played COOL MUSIC and they told funny jokes while talking about how people could get along better with each other. Of course I loved the comic!
I don't remember what anyone said next, and I don't remember making a conscious decision to stop reading comic books. I just... don't really remember reading them after that. Maybe I got embarrassed about them, or maybe they just stopped being in the store. I'm honestly not sure. But my memory of reading comics stops there.
And I'd forgotten all of this. Not in a traumatic repressed-memory kind of way. I just forgot. Even after I started reading graphic novels as an adult, I never thought about that old childhood love.
So that's why I want to tell you about the new Disney Princess comic by Amy Mebberson, Georgia Ball and Geoffrey Golden. (I'm about to get shmoopy on you here.) Talking about comics with friends reminded me about reading them, but reading Disney Princess #1 reminded me of how it felt. That joyful art. That particular brand of humor that is fun, and charming, and all-ages without being childish. (Yes that is a thing!) It took me straight back to lying in a sunbeam on my bedroom floor, surrounded by all my comics and rereading my favorites again and again.
Issue #1 is available in both paper and digital formats. I can't wait for the next one. Thank you, Amy. You gave me back something that I don't even have words for. <3

vixy: (bookmoon)
Welcome to my running book post for 2015! This will appear at the top of my blog until 2015 is over.


Note: somewhere in the year I sort of forgot to keep this post up, so there's a lot missing. I briefly thought about deleting it and quitting doing these posts entirely, but... I think I like having the record of my reactions to the books. I think I just need to stop treating it as if I have to keep score & read X number of books per year. So that's one of my 2016 resolutions. :)

On to the books! )

My 2015

Dec. 31st, 2015 01:02 pm
vixy: (xmas lights)
Well. 2015 is almost over! I feel like a review...

2015 Highlights

I went back to eating meat. I became a vegetarian around 16 years ago, mainly due to the spiritual beliefs I shared with my mother. When I stopped believing those particular things, I stayed a vegetarian because I assumed it would be too difficult to change at that point. Over the last half of 2014 I began to feel like that wasn't a good enough reason anymore. Mom had never pressured us into being vegetarian when she chose that for herself, so there wasn't any baggage about doing it for her memory or anything.

I was afraid it would make me horribly sick, and was trying to think of the best thing to start with. I took the very sensible advice of Brooke, who basically said, if you're going to risk being horribly sick anyway, you might as well do it for something you find delicious! So the first meat I had on purpose after all those years was the beef & pork meatloaf that Torrey had made for her Agent Carter party in January. (It had smelled like utter heaven the first time she made it, so when she made it a second time, I went for it.) I took an anti-diarrhea pill in hopes that it would help, and whether it did or whether I just didn't need it, I have rejoined the Omnivore Club and never looked back.

(And oh my god my life is SO MUCH MORE CONVENIENT. It wasn't *difficult* to be a vegetarian in most places, but it was sure a pain in the ass sometimes. My sympathies to all those who have food restrictions that they have no choice about.)

Conflikt happened, and we backed up the Toastmaster Cecilia Eng in her concert. It was delightful and fun and a little surreal, given that Cecilia was one of the very first filkers I ever heard, in the very first filk circle I ever attended. I'm pretty sure I kept it together, though. (Didn't I?)

Consonance happened, and it was a delightful blur. I ducked out for an afternoon to go to a local pin trading meetup, because Disney. Also Scott Snyder very kindly asked me to sing backup in his CD release concert, which was the best. Maya and I did our doo-wop finest. It was a great time.

Emerald City Comic Con happened, which was an even more delightful blur because it included my Seanan! Dinners and pedicures and comics were had.

In March, a dear friend of ours regained his freedom. I don't have much else to say about that in public, except that ten years is a long time.

Norwescon happened. We had a concert (I think?) and also backed Molly Lewis in her concert. She's always fun to play with.

DISNEY WORLD! Seanan took me (and her Mom & sis) to Disney World again and it was GLORIOUS. Also ridiculously hot & humid (wtf it was MAY) but DISNEY. I took lots of photos!

We got to eat at Cinderella's Royal Table once and Be Our Guest twice, both of which were delicious and spectacular, and our old favorite the Coral Reef at least twice, one time of which we got to sit right up next to the aquarium wall. And T-Rex, where we sat IN A VOLCANO and were roared at by dinosaurs.

Saw the Festival of Fantasy parade. Saw the safari and an awesome bird show where I GOT TO HAVE A RAVEN LAND ON ME. Saw that show three times. :)

Saw "La Nouba", the Cirque de Soleil show, again, and this time got the package that included a backstage tour!!! Which included photos with a Cirque cast member and a question & answer time with a stage director. Amazing and wonderful.

Floated down a lazy river. Watched Seanan catch frogs (and accidentally feed one to the grackles, oops.) Learned that corvids will follow me wherever I go.

Many characters were met, many animatronics were admired, many frogs were captured.

The whole trip was a delight, even the parts that weren't. There is absolutely nothing like me & Seanan at a Disney park. Nothing in the world.

We threw a Eurovision party. Which I was not really in charge of, but Eurovision is a heck of a good time. We get together and watch a download of the finals. Fishy's thinking of devising some way for the party attendees to vote (among ourselves) next year.

July was FULL of gigs and rehearsals. Vixy & Tony were guests at Westercon! Chord! Thing! It was like three cons welded together in an unholy defiance of the laws of god and man and filk. And also weirdly humid, which everyone in San Diego swore was unusual. Seanan was also a guest there; maybe the humidity followed us from Florida.

The following weekend was a joint gig at SoulFood Books with the PDX Broadsides, and OH MAN WAS THAT FUN. They are awesome. Stay tuned for more future gigs with them, hopefully in Portland.

The two weekends after that, we opened for the Sunday shows of Seattle's Outdoor Trek. This year they were doing "Amok Time", and it was glorious. They also announced that it was their last year (at least for now) of doing Outdoor Trek. :( They said they might do other outdoor show type things... who knows? Live long & prosper, guys.

The weekend after *that* (technically August 1 but July had rehearsals) we joined Betsy Tinney and all the hundreds of bands she is in for "Music Under the Trees", sort of a one-day music festival + dinner at Pinecoon. I hope a good time was had by all, 'cause a good time was certainly had by us. :)

Later that month I got a CPAP machine, which, holy cow, that thing has CHANGED MY LIFE. I'm not saying I spring out of bed fully awake now, but the difference between waking up normally and ZOMBIE FOX UNNNGH is phenomenal. I'm grateful to Fishy and Tony for noticing I was stopping breathing a lot in the night and for bugging me until I went to the doctor about it. I love my little tentacle beast.

August also held Sasquan, which was super exciting both for being a Worldcon we could actually drive to and for being a Worldcon where FISHY MADE THE HUGO BASES. Much has been said and written about the whole Hugo thing, which I don't feel like re-hashing any of, except to say that the whole thing was an extremely satisfying experience and I was burstingly proud of my Fishy and I may have gloated every time someone came up and complimented him on the Hugo base. Will took us in hand at the parties before & after and basically made problems disappear before they happened, for which I was eternally grateful. Also I wore a RAINBOW EVENING GOWN.

Also I got to spend a LOT more time talking to friends than is often the case at cons, which was delightful. Construction paper D&D! It's a thing. I think I went to like one half of one panel but I didn't care in the least because I had good times with awesome people.

And the masquerade was awesome. Torrey won an award because of course she did.

The smoke from nearby wildfires made the place a Marscape half the time, which was at least appropriate for a science fiction convention. None of our party had any serious health problems from it; I hope nobody else did, either.

Then there was a weekend of recording backing vocals for the Bohnhoffs, aka "go get in the box". We had a lovely time making beautiful music together, despite my falling down the stairs in the studio and spraining a toe. Whatever, at least I didn't spill my tea.

Late September brought us the Serenniversary at Wayward Coffeehouse, which was also Wayward's own anniversary. I've always thought of Wayward as the musical home of Vixy & Tony; our first non-con gig was there, at a Serenniversary, and it kind of opened a door for us to do other kinds of shows. I was glad for the chance to thank Broenwynn for the opportunity.

October contained GeekGirlCon! At which I didn't actually do a whole lot except enjoy the ambiance. And the dealer room. I got to see Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn speak, which I'm glad I had the chance to do.

Torrey helped run the DIY Science Zone there as usual, and I mostly hung about and made sure she got meals.

And then and then Seanan and I made our annual HALLOWEEN AT DISNEYLAND trip and I THINK THIS WAS THE BEST HALLOWEEN EVER OH MY GOD. Here is the photo album...

So they did this event called "Mystical Spirits of the Blue Bayou", which was a dinner event at the Blue Bayou restaurant with a prix fixe menu and hosted by Dr. Facilier "with some of his friends from the other side." We'd already bought our Halloween Party tickets for another night when I heard about it, and I didn't want to ditch our friends & go to the dinner alone... then Seanan had the brilliant idea of going to the Halloween Party on TWO nights so we could do the dinner! Hurray for cash-soluble problems! The food was great and the show was a delight-- Dr. Facilier sang & did some speechifying, accompanied by the "Southern Belles" who were basically undead princesses (he didn't call them that, but: sandy blonde in a blue dress with a black choker; blonde in a pink dress; African American girl in a green dress... all with zombie undead makeup. You get the idea.) The Cadaver Dans did a set, some pirates did a set (featuring a Cursed Treasure Chest which opened to reveal bags of Halloween candy for each guest) and Dr. Facilier did photos with every table. And then there were special guests "from the other side" which were Constance the bride from the Haunted Mansion and THE TIGHTROPE WALKER FROM THE HAUNTED MANSION PORTRAIT. I absolutely flipped my lid. I think she saw me fangirling because she came closer to our table than the bride had done. YES I FANGIRL A CHARACTER FROM A FAKE PORTRAIT I REGRET NOTHING. Except I regret not getting better photos because I was bouncing so much that mine were blurry. She didn't speak, but she was absolutely flawless, from her costume to her hair to her face to her movements (she even walked like a dancer/tightrope walker.) The whole evening was absolutely delightful, and that was the Friday of a long weekend trip, and that was before we even got to all the trick-or-treating!

That weekend we also got to hang out with a lot of our good Disneyland friends, do many rides, acquire much candy, and do new things. I always try to do at least one new thing at Disneyland when we go. Besides the special event, we ate with Mark & Baize at a restaurant we hadn't before: the Carthay Circle, which was schmancy and Brat Pack-y and sold me a light-up poison apple ice cube for Seanan because we saw it in someone's cocktail but none of us wanted the cocktail.

Our second Halloween party night I got another delight: I dressed as a sort of abstract raven, and REALLY wanted to do the Maleficent photo op in it. They were switching out villains every 20 minutes or so, and officially when you get up to the line you have to take whoever's there in the three slots, but unofficially if you let someone behind you go on ahead of you, the cast members don't care as long as everyone's happy. This led to a small group of us going "who's waiting for the girls? Do you want the girls? Who wants the boys? Go ahead of us if you want the boys!" and one guy who literally went all the way back down the line to find anyone who wanted the "boys" (Hades, Captain Hook, and Jafar) as opposed to the "girls" (Evil Queen, Cruella, and Maleficent). It was this wonderful organized chaos, and everyone got what they wanted.

Especially me! I decided as I got up there to go full improv-theatre mode-- I did not speak AT ALL once it was my turn, I just cawed and made crow sounds. The Evil Queen was first, and she seemed to have forgotten that she had a pet raven in her movie. Oops. Cruella was next, who of course makes faces at any animal she can't turn into a fur coat (I've had great fun bringing Mousie to meet her.) And then: MALEFICENT. Who IMMEDIATELY called me "Diablo" and started chatting away asking me if I had been out spying for her, and if I'd found out any news, and if I'd seen that little princess, and if it was time for the princess to have another nap, and telling me to report back when I had any news. Oh, it was FANTASTICALLY FUN. Then for the last few pics she put out her arm SO I COULD PRETEND TO PERCH ON IT. Best. Photo op. EVER. <3 <3 <3

The following weekend, we had our Agora Halloween party, to which I wore my old Companion Cube costume because it's easy & comfortable. Tried a bit of a new makeup scheme with it, which came out pretty well. Plus Portal earrings from Optimysticals. :)

November brings us to Orycon. Where we had a concert and also backed up Cade's concert and joined in one number on Betsy's concert, because that's how we (musically) roll. It was quite a nice relaxing con, actually. It was also a little bit of a blur! But it was absolutely wonderful to get to see Tanya Huff, who we hadn't seen in ages, and to watch the PDX Broadsides do their thang. For our part, I'm told our concert was one of our best. I never save anything for the trip back, which I think is why the con is a blur now. :)

Thanksgiving I spent at HOME, relaxing, for the first time ever, and it was GLORIOUS. I ate things and played games and watched MST3K. The down side to this is that the reason was partly that my stepmom was feeling too exhausted from her radiation schedule (breast cancer, second round, whee, also fuck cancer) and my dad exhausted from transporting & lifting her for many extra doctor appointments, so they didn't really feel up to a family gathering. Which I understood completely even as I wished the reason for it could've been something which was not that.

And here we are in December! We had another Solstice Party with our favorite theme of "we are the light" (aka wear all your glowy/blinky/light-up stuff and we'll turn the house lights off). I really love doing that. It makes everyone fun to look at in a "wait who are you again" kind of way. I decorated one of my top hats with rice lights-- the hat with a crow on it, so I tried to outline the crow in the lights too, though it didn't really show-- and concealed the battery packs in the crown of the hat, which made it kind of not quite fit and prone to falling off but I managed. I kind of went to bed early by accident, though-- I went upstairs to have a few minutes of quiet time, as I usually need to do at a party, and fell DEAD ASLEEP for the next few hours. Oops. It turns out that I find the sounds of my house being full of happy people to be extremely soothing. :)

I have left things out, some on purpose and some accidentally-- visits with friends, dinners with family, recording sessions, pin meetups. Daily trials and triumphs. Things that go to make up a life, as they say. I had forgotten until I sat down with my calendar to write this, just how busy the year was! No wonder I'm tired. :)

Tonight I'm going to stay home with two of my loves, snuggling on the couch, drinking whatever booze is left from the party, maybe watching some MST3K/Rifftrax. They say that how you spend New Year's Eve is an indicator of how the year will be. I intend to spend mine safe and warm and comfortable and loved and happy and enjoying exactly the things I want to enjoy. And being grateful that life is good.

Have a wonderful New Year, everyone. May 2016 be kind to you and yours.
vixy: (songwriting)
Sooner or later it was inevitable that I'd write a song about my neighborhood crows, who I've been feeding on my walk to/from work and on my back deck for a few years now. :) Now that we've performed this once in public (at Westercon in San Diego last weekend) it's time to post!


Dayton Street Crows
by Vixy & Tony

Walk to the west when the autumn wind blows
Past the park where the oak tree grows
Up on the wire they're all in rows
You're in the territory of the Dayton Street Crows

Make your offering, keep your pace
They don't know names, but they know your face
They teach their children friends from foes
So give their due to the Dayton Street Crows

Rushing wings brush by your ear
Hush, my friend, now, dry your tears
Listen for the call, we're always here
Two by two for joy

Believe the best or beware the worst
Do you think you're blessed or fear you're cursed?
They'll do you no harm unless you do it first
But they might play a trick or two

One's for peanuts, two's for fries
Three's for roadkill, four's for the eyes
Five's for the kibble that the fox girl throws
Dainty is the palate of the Dayton Street Crows

Rushing wings brush by your ear
Hush, my friend, now, dry your tears
Listen for the call, we're always here
Two by two for joy

Call it a murder but it's more like a fair
Feathery clowns playing tag in the air
Winner or loser, nobody knows
The chase is what matters to the Dayton Street Crows

Rushing wings brush by your ear
Hush, my friend, now, dry your tears
Listen for the call, we're always here
Two by two by two by two for joy


There's no recording yet, but it's in the set list for SoulFood Books tomorrow. Come on by and hear us, and also hear the fabulousness that is the PDX Broadsides, coming up from Oregon to entertain you!


Edit:  Video of the concert is up!

Having a bit of trouble with Dreamwidth's embedding, so here are links:

"Dayton Street Crows" live at SoulFood

Vixy & Tony entire set at SoulFood

PDX Broadsides at SoulFood


vixy: (whispering poem)
Emerald City Comic-Con was pretty fun! I might do one-day only next year, unless I end up table-minding for Seanan.

Norwescon is this weekend! We'll be Molly Lewis' backup band, with our own concert to follow, which means that we'll effectively be our own opening band. I hear there will be livestreaming.

In July we will be among the Guests of Honor at Westercon, and next year in February we will be featured filkers at Boskone! Normally I can't think that far ahead. That's why I have Tony to do it.

Speaking of Tony, his post has a bunch of useful links! Including that livestreaming thing! I'm linking you to his post because I am lazy!


I got hate mail today! From three different people (or one person with three accounts)! For reblogging something on Tumblr and adding a feminist comment! I feel as if I have leveled up in feminism. No actual threats, but one of them did say "people like you should be shot", which was sort of close. Social Justice Bard's first encounter with a party of level 1 trolls.

EDIT: Oh, I just realized, the hate mail was triggered by two different posts. Two of the people mentioned the post that discussed support for male victims of violence/abuse, which was one thing I reblogged. The other person mentioned Brianna Wu, who had nothing to do with the violence post; they must have been mailing me in response to a quote of hers that I reblogged.

Double your fun!


The crows have entered the find-a-mate-build-a-nest season. This means a whole lot of chasing each other around. They keep leaving bits of twig by the food dish; I figure this is either "HERE RED LEAF MONKEY YOU NEED THIS FOR YOUR NEST" or "BUILD NEST BUILD NEST TAKE TWIG BACK TO BUILD NE-- OH HEY, FOOD."


I wish I did not have a migraine on the first day of a con. Tony's picking me up from work, we're going home to pack, and then heading down.  I'll be taking it easy this evening. Be kind.

Also, if you happen to be doing any Disney-themed cosplay (crossovers welcome), feel free to poke me! I'm doing a photo project for the Disney pin trading forum I frequent (it's a Flat Stanley type of thing, but with pins) and would love to get some photos of Pinellope posing with Disney cosplayers. (Her cohort Freddie Pinz has already visited Seattle with a friend of mine.)
vixy: (magpie foursquare)
 Time has been seeming to go by way to fast lately. Most recently this was partly due to migraines and cramps. I lost a good chunk of Consonance (and the weekend prior) to a migraine, and a whole evening this week to cramps. I now hate cramps for the same reason I hate migraines (besides the pain, I mean): they are thieves of time. Not only because I become useless but I seem to have a pain response that amounts to "fall asleep on couch for hours."  I HATE wasted time. Hate hate hate. I mean, time that I didn't *choose* to waste. I have no problem sitting around wasting time watching mindless TV or playing iPad games if that's what I want to do. But I absolutely hate having time TAKEN from me. (Or accidentally wasting it, like forgetting something important that I have to drive all the way back home for. I kick myself hardest for those.)


Speaking of Consonance, it was lovely! We hadn't been in a couple years, I think because ECCC kept being on top of it. The time not stolen by migraines was well spent hanging out with friends and enjoying concerts and filk circles and backing Scott Snyder in his awesome concert for his awesome new album, Rock and Roll to Hit.  Scott is a delight to work with and a dear sweet person and he actually remembered that time at a house filk a hundred years ago where he trolled me with "Faegrass". :D

And yet I did not get ENOUGH time to spend with people! It was like I blinked and it was over. I did run off to a Disney pin trading event on Saturday afternoon (the Nor Cal group was having a gathering on the same weekend like TWELVE MILES AWAY from the hotel, how could I resist?) but I was only gone for a few hours! It was actually pretty fun indulging two of my favorite hobbies in one trip. Efficiency!


Spring has come to Seattle, which means highs of 60F or so and lows of 35F or so. Spring and Fall are the Times of Layers.  Spring is also the time when the crows go a little nutsier than usual.

I'm walking to and from the office these days, which means feeding them more. Sometimes they absolutely mob me, which is delightful and hilarious. They crowd around, fly in circles around my head, zoom very low over me (there is nothing quite like the whoosh of wings about one's ears).  One tried to land ON my head but either it got no purchase or was startled when I was startled, because I just felt its little claws go BONK. Other days they are so busy chasing each other (did I mention it's spring) that they actually FORGET THE FOOD.

When they're crowding around, there will always be one or two who fly up and land on the ground fairly close to me, hoping to get to the food before anyone else does. They'll usually land alongside me, which delights me, and I will carefully toss some food near them so as not to scare them (arm-throwing motion right AT them makes them fly away; they have a pretty good basic grasp of physics.) Occasionally one will do this but land in *front* of me, while I'm *still walking*, which means now I'm *walking toward them*, and you can SEE them go "I IMMEDIATELY REGRET THIS DECISION."

By the way, in case you did not happen to see my status on Facebook or Twitter: I am very happy that my friends see crow things and it makes them think of me. I take it in the friendly and affectionate way in which it is meant. That said, please be assured that I HAVE SEEN THE CROW STORY. Yes, the one with the little girl whose crows have been giving her gifts since she was eight. Yes, I've read the article. Really. I really have. I've also seen the BBC follow-up where other readers sent in their crow stories in response to that article. (To be fair, only one person sent me that one.)  

Amusingly, when the first person sent me that link and said "hey vixy, do your crows do this?" I was like " they don't and now I am a little pouty about it :(" and then a couple weeks later the crows left me a dandelion by their food dish at my office.  Then earlier this week one of them dropped a scrap of pink tulle down to me from the wire where it was perched. I think the corvid takeover is coming, you guys. They're clearly reading Facebook now.


Speaking of food, I went for it and started eating meat again back in January. (I forget exactly when I started, but I remember eating some meat during Conflikt, so it was sometime around then.) I decided to take Brooke's advice, in that if I was going to be risking unpleasant results anyway, I might as well make it worthwhile and eat something DELICIOUS. So I started with Torrey's amazing meatloaf. (Which you guys is OMG SO GOOD.)  I moved on cautiously to other delicious things. It has been going much better than I expected!

Without going into gross detail, I'm thinking back and wondering if those problems I had before were just IBS all along. IBS is a vague bunch of symptoms that sometimes get exacerbated by things, and I got diagnosed with it long after I'd become a vegetarian. There was this time around ten years ago where I was having REALLY BAD gut pain (but not meat-related) and the doctors were like "OH SHIT RULE OUT ECTOPIC PREGNANCY QUICK" (because that can kill you, and fast) and then ruled out other things too. I had three pregnancy tests (boy was I not pregnant, I was the most not-pregnant I have ever been), two CT scans, and an ultrasound, and they found nothing at all wrong with me, and concluded "I dunno, eat more fiber or something." (I paraphrase but that was actually as much concrete info as I got.)

Anyway, it turns out that pre-emptive taking of things that help IBS also help when I eat meat. I haven't had any significant problems AT ALL. I really did think there was going to be this horrible period of adjustment. So far the worst that has really happened was that the General Tso's Chicken tasted gross to me (it could've been just a bad piece or maybe I don't like dark meat or who even knows).

The hardest part has actually been mental/psychological. Fifteen years of being a vegetarian means I have developed mental habits that can be summarized as OH GOD NO DON'T EAT THAT. I am still having to consciously remind myself sometimes that this really is an okay thing to put into my mouth if I want it.

This makes for an interesting cognitive dissonance with the things it turns out I kinda missed. YOU GUYS I LOVE HAM SO MUCH. I always did. I keep almost saying I missed it, but that's not quite right-- I wasn't thinking about it all those years. It's just now I remember how great it was.  Bacon is great but HAMMMMM. A few weeks ago, I ordered what used to be my very very favorite pizza ever since I was a kid: Canadian bacon and black olive. OH IT WAS SO GOOD. Also Fishy and Torrey had an idea to make Alton Brown's eggs Benedict recipe (with homemade English muffins OMG) and while I have confirmed that I still don't like Hollandaise, the rest was DELICIOUS. Also sausage is still delicious with maple syrup, I checked.

As was my intention, it did make some things a lot easier. I took Fishy to a doctor appt and got food while I waited; the small cafeteria at Group Health didn't have a lot, but they did have pizza by the slice. What's that, you only have pepperoni or Hawaiian? I'LL TAKE ONE OF EACH. Then again, some things are a lot harder; we went to the Italian place that has replaced Macaroni Grill, and there were SO MANY TASTY THINGS HOW DO YOU ALL DECIDE. And of course, the housemates no longer feel the need to save pizza for me. When there was only one kind I could eat out of the kinds we ordered, they'd be careful to save that for me. Now it's EVERY CARNIVORE FOR THEMSELVES, BABY. ;)


Next on calendar: ECCC! I think!
vixy: (watering)
 So I'm thinking about going back to eating meat.
A bit of backstory: 
I stopped eating meat about fifteen years ago. It's easiest to say it was for religious reasons, although not from any organized religion, just from the patchwork of Protestant-turned-new-age beliefs that my mother and aunt raised me with. A hodgepodge of books and seminars and Biblical reinterpretations and things "remembered" in meditations that was the core of my life from my single-digits to... well that's another story, never mind. Anyway.
Around fifteen years ago, my mother decided to stop eating meat, because at the time we believed that death was unnatural-- any death, human or animal.  Death had been brought to this world by... well let's not go into how it got here, but we believed that all life was originally intended to transform (something to do with emotion and vibrations), taking the body with us rather than leaving it behind. Death was a trauma, and one day my mother decided she didn't want to ingest anything that had <i>experienced</i> that trauma, taking in its negative emotion and energy. (My aunt didn't go fully vegetarian at that time, but did drastically reduce the amount of meat she ate.) She told my sister and me about it, but she said she didn't expect us to do the same.  My sister decided not to.  But I idolized my mother and aunt. I believed everything they taught me. I decided to do it too.
After nine or ten years, and various life events, I no longer subscribed to the beliefs I'd grown up with. But I kept being vegetarian, because by that point, if I accidentally ate anything made with meat-- even broth-- I'd suffer nasty gastrointestinal reactions. (I'll never forget thinking I was safe ordering macaroni & cheese at a fancy downtown restaurant, only to wake up in pain at 2am and spend the next few hours in the bathroom. I called the restaurant the next day. "Soooo... any chance your mac n cheese contains meat?"  "Oh, yeah, it's made with chicken broth, why?" "MAYBE YOU COULD PUT THAT ON YOUR MENU NEXT TIME." (I paraphrase.)) 
Up to now, going back to meat hasn't seemed worth the bother. It's not actually that inconvenient to be a vegetarian; I eat eggs and cheese, I get enough protein (you don't actually need a ton anyway), and even the most meatful of restaurants is happy to make their pasta dish for you and leave the meat off (especially once you tell them you don't expect them to discount the price for you). Very occasionally someone gives me crap about it, but those times have been few and far between.
So why now? Well, a few reasons:
For the most part I haven't really missed meat, but every once in a while there's something I miss, or wish I could try. For example, Torrey recently made this AMAZING meatloaf that even to my vegetarian nose smelled like <i>absolute heaven.</i> Seriously I would almost have gone back to meat right on the spot if it weren't that beef is probably the worst place to start for this. 
Also, I've been assuming all these years that I'd have to go through a really long period of GI distress, weeks even, before I reacclimated my body to digesting meat. I recently realized that I have no reason to assume it'd take that long. It could-- I have no idea-- but there's nothing to indicate either way. I'm not even sure why I leapt to that conclusion; for all I know it might just take a meal or two and be done.
And even though being vegetarian isn't *that* big an inconvenience, it would still make things *somewhat* easier, in terms of restaurants and visiting other people's houses. 
And then there's something that I had never quite realized until I was explaining it to Seanan the other day. I'm not sure I even knew what I was going to say before the words came out of my mouth.  The original decision to become a vegetarian... <i>I didn't make that decision for myself.</i>
I mean, I was an adult, I did <i>make</i> the decision. But I didn't do it for me. I didn't do it for my own reasons.  I did it for my mother, and my aunt, to follow the things they taught me. I did it to be closer to what they wanted me to be. I did it to be <i>good.</i>  Why should I continue a practice that was never really mine in the first place?
The more I think about it, the more I want to try going back. I'm still considering how to go about it. I'd probably want to start with something broth rather than solid, and probably chicken rather than beef (don't they always say red meat is harder to digest?)  And maybe, like, on a Friday, so I'd have the weekend for staying up late if I have to. Maybe one meal with meat and then a few meals without, or every other meal. I was considering making a boxed instant rice thing we have in the pantry, although I don't know how much difference there is between the "chicken flavor" ingredients in those things vs. something made with broth that came from an actual chicken you cooked yourself.
There are some meat dishes that still gross me out at the thought of eating, so I wouldn't be going back to eating ALL meat. Then again, nobody eats EVERYTHING. Except maybe my husband. 

Edit:  I realized I left out something big!

I do eat some fish.  A few years ago I started missing tuna fish sandwiches, so I cautiously started eating them again and had no problems whatsoever. I read somewhere it's a different protein, or something?  Anyway it was never a problem.

Of course, I had always hated pretty much all seafood besides tuna fish before that, so that didn't change much. Shortly after I had my gallbladder out, Torrey happened to make salmon and I tried some and liked it. So sometimes I eat salmon, if it's cooked well. I still haven't liked any other seafood I've tasted, including sushi. So that's pretty much a dead end, there.

vixy: (bookhenge)
 Welcome to my running book post for 2014! 


You've been warned.

On to the books! )
vixy: (kitsune)
These were TOTALLY my New Years Resolutions for 2014. Really. Honest.

1. Steal the idea of Retroactive New Years Resolutions from Brooke.
2. Steal some of her resolutions, too.
3. Don't start smoking.
4. Don't start any fist-fights.
5. Don't steal ALL of Brooke's resolutions. That's just rude.
6. Go to at least three other countries and have adventures!
7. Go to Disneyland several times. 
8. Acquire many Disney pins.
9. Try some restaurants you've never been to before. Also eat at your favorite restaurant many times. (My parents are super helpful with this one. It's important to ask for help with your resolutions when you need it.)
10. Do a lot of editing.
11. Continue to work in a steady job for people I like.
12. Have many wonderful people in my life whom I adore.
13. Oh yes-- and feed a whole lot of crows. :D

I kept them all!  I'm awesome!  I am sure you're just as awesome, aren't you?

Happy New Year!

vixy: (unlock it)
 Wow. It's New Year's Eve. 2014 flew by, as the years seem to do for me. There's lots that I meant to write about and never did. I'm gonna use Google calendar to jog my memory...

In January we went to Disneyland for Seanan's birthday! I... don't remember a whole lot of that trip actually. Except PINS, of course. :D Also in January Seanan came to visit us and attended Conflikt! Yaaaaay!

In March we went to Emerald City Comic-Con! It was great and also terrible! They're getting really really big and kind of struggling to keep up with running and managing a media con that big. (It's a con in the trade-show format of San Diego Comic-Con rather than in the SF-con format of Norwescon.)  Wes and Seanan both came to town for the con. A good time and many comics purchases were had by all.

In April there was Norwescon! And Seanan! Again! Because she was a GoH this time! Norwescon was its usual huge and awesome self.  

Also in April was another Disneyland trip with Seanan, and a big Disney Pin Forum gathering! I met bunches of pin traders in person for the first time whom I'd only met online before, and made lots of great trades, and had a lovely time.

In May, Brooke visited our couch! And said hi to us while she was here!

Also in May was Fishy's Eurovision viewing party (via download, not live), which turned out to be a HOOT. He got to introduce a lot of people (myself included) to the delightful craziness that is the Eurovision Song Contest. We were DELIGHTED with the winner, Conchita Wurst of Austria with "Rise Like a Phoenix".

In June I went to a Disneyana convention called Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet. It was... kinda disappointing, really. There were some good vendors and a teeeeensy bit of pin trading, but mostly you needed to be into the lectures by Imagineers and the trivia, which weren't quite my thing. 

In July I played a surprisingly disappointing gig, a surprisingly happy-making gig, and an unsurprisingly happy-making one. I saw Outdoor Trek for the first time and I plan never to miss it again. Also I turned 43.

In August I went to WorldCon in London, which was interesting and hectic and I don't remember a lot. We did a good concert with Seanan. I got to spend time with many wonderful people I don't see nearly enough.

After the con, I spent about a week in Paris with the Crowells and Brooke and Seanan and Amy in an Air-B-n-B apartment (all hail the Brooke booking skills!) that was amazing and weird and wonderful. It had a hot tub and a sauna and a steam room and some bizarre and disturbing art on the walls which fortunately did not come alive and eat us.  Also Seanan and Amy and I went to Disneyland Paris! Some of it was just like California and some was very different. Some of it was lovely and some not so much. It was fun to be able to use my French. Also Brooke took us to several really excellent restaurants. Our snarky French waiter was the BEST. On the whole, Paris was heavenly.

At the end of September/beginning of October, Tony and I went to FilkCONtinental as Guests of Honor! Tony made sure that Betsy & Sunnie were able to come too, because it just wouldn't be the same without them.  It was AMAZING. The German filkers are some of the nicest filkers I’ve ever met anywhere. And the filk circles were all the kind of circle that makes you remember why you fell in love with filk in the first place.  And when we played “We Are Who We Are,” the crowd STOOD UP and held hands in a big circle and sang along with all the choruses. We cried. There aren't words.

Somewhere in October I did a piece for the semi-revived Art Book Circle, a project where a group of artists are passing books between us and each adding a section. All my sections so far are in this Flickr album.

Oh, I keep forgetting stuff! Also in October, I went to the opera for the first time ever! It was Fishy's idea. We saw Don Giovanni. I really enjoyed it. 

In late October, Seanan and I went to Disneyland for the Halloween Party. We skipped OVFF to do this, and I was partly sorry to miss it, but… I REALLY needed the Disneyland trip. There was a lot going on with me emotionally and mentally and... I literally burst into tears when we walked into the hotel room, it felt so much like coming home. Seanan’s right, it’s better than therapy.

We got to hang out with Sarah and wear our new Disney fascinators (gifts from Seanan) to the Halloween party and meet villains. Hades pretended to get all huffy at Seanan's Megara hat. And we got to hang out with Anthony and meet his older son who is a CHARMER OMG and take him to see Mickey's Magical Map (which still has three count 'em three princesses of color, YAY) because It's a Small World was closed. And we got to have dinner with Sarah and Amy (the other Amy) and David and Doc and I think Deborah and it was a warm night on the restaurant patio and "When Can I See You Again" from Wreck-It Ralph came on over the PA and we ALL SANG ALONG and it was GLORIOUS. (Actually just writing about this trip is putting me in a better mood than I've been in all month.)

Whenever we go to Disneyland, I like to try to have at least one "first" - usually an attraction I've never ridden before, or something. I got a few this time! David took us to Company D, which was cool! I'd never seen it before. And he bought me a present, a lovely Merida lanyard medallion that is HUGE and GORGEOUS.

And also Deborah & Michael took us to a banked-track roller derby meet at the L.A. Derby Dolls. (The teams we saw were the Sirens vs. the Fight Crew.)  It was my first ever roller derby meet and OMG IT WAS SO MUCH FUN! Seanan kind of explained the rules to me and the announcers also gave a good explanation before the meet started, complete with videos on the big screens, so I had no trouble telling what was going on. We had a BLAST and I bought several shiny things from the vendors at half time and I really need to see more roller derby now!

In November Tony and I went to Orycon as filk Guests of Honor. They were so good to us! They barely worked us at all and gave us a gift bag full of chocolates and all kinds of good stuff. Primo guest gig! We had a good time in the filk circles too. 

Also in November was Thanksgiving vs. Christmas, the holiday special by Molly Lewis, which took up a whole lot of our lives for most of October and November. We (Vixy & Tony & Sunnie & Betsy) were her house band, which means in addition to learning the song she wrote for me to sing (she wrote lyrics to the Doctor Who theme) we also learned about half the other songs in the show, to back up Molly and the other singers. So there were a LOT of rehearsals, which included last-minute learning of new songs, getting everyone's schedules to mesh, and then gathering the WHOLE FREAKING CREW to rehearse the script, which was still being edited right up to the minutes before the show.
The plot (spoilers ahead!) was that Molly’s favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, and she’s annoyed that Christmas takes everything over so early, and so she invites her friends over to her “house” (the stage) to talk about what they’re thankful for. But every conversation ends up turning to Christmas, and Molly finally gets fed up and sings about why Thanksgiving is Better than Christmas. Only it turns out it’s because Thanksgiving is her birthday, and everyone calls her on it and how she just wants presents, and then Santa Claus (played by Kevin Murphy) comes in and calls her a greedy-pants, but sings a song about how he also is annoyed that Christmas starts getting celebrated so early (“And why am I the closer in the Thanksgiving Parade??”) and everything looks awful until the narrator with the magic book saves the day.
It was LOADS of fun. A bit strange because there were only two shows; with all that rehearsal, it sort of poked the musical-theatre part of my brain—I’d forgotten what it was like to basically eat, sleep, and breathe a show for weeks on end—so then I couldn’t stop thinking about it after it was all over, not just having the songs in my head but also thinking about my lines and how to do a better read on them, because it kept feeling like there should be a run of four weeks of shows or something. It was grand. I hope she does another one. :) (Here's Molly's blog post about it. Here's Tony's. Here's where you can pre-order the live recording of it!)

This month we hosted a Solstice party, with a theme that Fishy had a great idea for: "We are the light". We encouraged people to come as lit up and glowing as they could manage, and turned off most of the lights in the house so that the light was primarily provided by the guests. We also replaced the kitchen light bulbs with blacklights, and Torrey got as much UV reactive food and drink as she could come up with. This turned out to be DELIGHTFUL! I loved seeing what everyone came up with-- battery-powered LED Christmas lights in various places, EL wire, glow in the dark clothing and necklaces, blinky-light jewelry. I put battery LED lights in my hair and around my waist and also I glittered up my tattoos.  We bought some of those glow-stick necklace/bracelet things to give out to anyone who didn't have their own, and several other people brought other light-up or glowy things to share. We're totally doing this again!

We also deep-fried a turkey! Where by "we" I mean Fishy & Torrey. We borrowed his parents' deep-fry vessel, and used Fishy's engine hoist, decorated with Christmas lights, to do the actual raising and lowering (style, baby). I'm a vegetarian, but many people said it was the best turkey they'd ever had. And it must have been, because they fell on that thing like pirahnas on a cow. There was nothing but a skeletonized carcass within *minutes*.

For Christmas, Fishy and I drove to his parents' place in Spokane, and had a nice visit. I miss my little Shadow kitty, who lived with them for the last ten or so years before he died of cancer last year. It kinda wasn't the same being there without him.

I made several Disney pin boards for people this year, and one new shadowbox for myself. I'm really proud of my creations! Most of them are in this Flickr album (though not everything there is from 2014). I also experimented with doing a time-lapse of the creation process, though I haven't edited the photos into something viewable yet. I ran a few pin auctions this year and got good results, too.

I did some good things for my health this year.  I switched anxiety meds to one that so far seems to be more effective and have fewer annoying side effects. I started using the Zombies, Run! app in an effort to motivate myself to take more walks. And I'm trying out using a treadmill desk at work; it's barely been two weeks of that, so I'm still undecided on whether it's for me. I bought a stand/sit desk rig to attach to my desk and am using Fishy's borrowed treadmill-- his office is being remodeled so right now he can't have his treadmill desk and needed somewhere to store it, and I have plenty of room and thought I'd take the opportunity to try it. My back seems happier, but my feet are like "WHAT ARE YOU DOING WE NORMALLY ONLY FEEL LIKE THIS AT DISNEYLAND." 

Oh, and I almost forgot: Fishy and I bought a new car! Well, a used car. New to us. The old Subaru Outback finally croaked (partly due to a terrible mechanic who shall remain nameless) so we bought a 2003 Subaru Outback because we really liked it. It's an automatic and I really miss having a manual, but this is made up by the fact of KEYLESS ENTRY. Yeah I know this has been around for like 20 years or something, but I've never *owned* a car with it, and approaching my car and pushing a button to unlock it still makes me feel like a FREAKING WIZARD. Also approaching the car with a full shopping cart and not having to fuck around with the terrible back lock on the old Subaru is SO GREAT.  

Also we bought a new car stereo for it, one with BLUETOOTH which we have also never owned. It politely offers to play our music when we get in (but does NOT autoplay!) When we both got in one time with bluetooth activated, it chose Fishy's phone for music, but switched to mine when I got a phone call. I ANSWERED MY PHONE BY PUSHING A BUTTON ON MY CAR STEREO, Y'ALL. We got the kind with a mic and it WORKED and it was AWESOME. I love living in the future! By which I mean the present!

I saw many delightful movies and read not nearly enough delightful books. I played probably far too much Monster Match and Frozen Free Fall and Maleficent Free Fall and Puzzle Pirates; I evolved monsters and completed levels and won power-ups and trophies.  As one does. I finished a song. Just the one, but it seems to be a hit. I played in a lot of gigs, both ours and other people's, and almost always had fun doing it. I worked on our next album, although Tony has been working much much harder on it. I think it'll get finished in 2015. Most likely.

I did many things I'm not going to post about, and many other things that I'm not remembering right now. As one does.

Happy new year, everyone. May the happy memories of 2014 cheer you and the unhappy ones lose their sting, and may 2015 be better in every way.
vixy: (officemouse)
And now, a couple of tales from the life of an officemouse...

* * * * *

Last week, a woman knocked at my office door. (I keep it locked because I'm alone most of the time and we don't do walk-in business; not so much out of fear as that then I can just wave solicitors away without having to talk to them.)

She said, "I see you've been feeding the crows out here..."

Me [bracing self to field another complaint about bird poop on the sidewalk]: "Yes..." 

Her: "You feed them dog food and hard boiled eggs."

Me:  "Yes..."

Her: "You shouldn't do that. It's bad for them."

Me [o.O]: "Er... no it's not."

Her: "Yes it is!  Something something Audubon Society [I didn't quite get all this] and you should really be feeding them bird food."

Me [patiently]: "Well, no, bird food is generally formulated for seed-eaters. Crows are scavengers; they're omnivores. They eat everything. Meat, fish, berries, bugs..."

Her:  "But they're not eating what they're supposed to because they're eating your food instead!"

Me: "Oh no, I'm not their only source of food. Birds eat really often. I'm not even here all day, or every day. I see them out here eating roadkill when it's there, and..."

Her:  "(something about the Audubon Society again) and you're LITERALLY KILLING THEM!  LOOK at how SCRUFFY they are!"

Me:  "They're molting. That's how they look when they molt."

Her: "They're supposed to be eating the grubs out here in the ground! They're not doing their JOBS!"

(In hindsight, this is the point at which I should perhaps have just started smiling and nodding.)

Me:  "Er... no, I'm really not their only food source, I promise you."

Her:  "You can TELL they're not eating the grubs because they're ALL OVER THE CARS!"

(There's been some speculation in my household as to what this meant. I thought she meant that the grubs were all over the cars, and I was trying to figure out how the grubs had climbed up onto the cars (and why); or if grubs fall out of the trees (I don't know anything about grubs) then how that would tell her anything, because they'd be falling on the cars anyway, whether the crows were eating them off the ground or not. Some of my household think maybe she meant the crows were all over the cars. Although none of us can figure out what that would have to do with the grubs, either.)

Me [at a loss]: "I can only say I'm certain I'm not their only food source. They eat lots of things, they're omnivores."

Her:  "Well there are different SPECIES of crows and you're killing SOME OF THEM."

Me: "...I appreciate your concern, but I promise you it's fine. I can double check and read the ingredients of the dog food I'm using..."

Her [walking away with one of those bitter laughs like she's giving up talking to someone completely unreasonable]: "Read the AUDUBON SOCIETY!!!"

(I'm not entirely sure I got it all verbatim or in the right order because she kept skipping from one issue to another and I was having a hard time keeping up.)

Well. It shook me up a little. Partly because strangers unexpectedly getting on your case about something can be a bit unnerving. Partly because it's also a bit unnerving when someone says YOU ARE KILLING THIS THING THAT YOU CARE ABOUT.  And partly because I don't think fast enough on my feet, and didn't have the presence of mind to point out to her that my sources on what I feed the crows include John Marzluff, the UW researcher who did the facial recognition studies in crows, Michael J. Westerfield, another crow researcher, and Seanan's uncle who did corvid rescue and rehab. (Some of you will remember the "MICROWAVE!" story.) The fact that I didn't tell the woman these things pokes at my "someone is WRONG on the INTERNET" button.

I went inside and continued my IM conversation with Seanan, telling her what happened. Seanan soothed my metaphorical feathers and reminded me that yes, I really am feeding them the right things. ("What did your uncle feed his ravens?" "Chicken, liver, sometimes hearts, egg yolks, and DOG FOOD.")

(And just to be thorough, we both searched the Audubon Society website, and neither of us could find anything to contradict this. Their food & feeding pages are devoted entirely to feeding seed-eaters; no mention of corvids there at all. I guess they don't think anyone would actually want corvids around. Their few corvid identification pages-- I checked all the species they had that are said to be in the Pacific Northwest-- mostly don't mention what crows eat at all, but the few that do include meat, fish, fruit, insects, and GARBAGE. Really, I think once garbage is on the diet list, dog food and eggs aren't going to be any trouble.)

It's not likely that lady will be back for me to tell her just how WRONG she is. She was around for an hour or two more after she talked to me. I think she was helping the neighboring office with some kind of gardening thing (I saw her moving a bag of potting soil at one point) but she's not the building's regular gardener, who is a very sweet lady that I talk to often. Every time I saw the woman again after that, she was walking along with a different one of my office neighbors and talking earnestly and frownily to them. I don't know if she was still complaining about the crows (I'll be amused if she was; I'm certain my neighbors don't give a shit what I feed them) or if she just had lots of other things to complain about that day. But people so rarely come back and give you the chance to say the things you wish you had thought to say in the moment.

* * * * *

Last week, a man knocked at my office door. Sometimes I wait before answering, to give people a chance to decide that a locked door means we're closed and wander away. (They do this blessedly often.)  He didn't go away and he didn't look like he was selling anything, so I opened the door. 

Me: "Can I help you?"

Him:  "Yes, I want to pay my bill." [holds out torn envelope toward me]

Me:  "Er... I'm sorry?"

Him:  "Isn't this State Farm?"

Me:  "Oh, no, State Farm is next door, that way." [pointing]

Him: "Oh, thank you."  [leaves]

Now, it's not like this was a HUGE inconvenience for me or anything. But sometimes I just wonder what's going on in people's minds.

My office door says "EVERGREEN" on it, and has a green evergreen tree logo. About eye-level to this man for the thirty or so seconds that I made him wait before I came to the door.

The State Farm office, at the corner of the building, has:
* A big brand new red and white awning that says "STATE FARM" and has the State Farm logo, and the agent's name and phone number and I think also their email address
* A red and white feather banner on the corner (I had a time googling for what the hell those are called) that says "STATE FARM" and has the State Farm logo
* A red and white sandwich-board style sign in front of the office on the planter that says "STATE FARM" and has the State Farm slogan and the agent's name and phone number
* A large square sign mounted on two poles in the ground in front of the office that says "STATE FARM" and has the State Farm logo
* Another sign mounted on the wall next to their door that says "STATE FARM" and has the State Farm logo (I think this one might be a drop box for payments; it's kind of raised)
* Red and white lettering on the glass of their front windows and doors, which says STATE FARM" and has the State Farm logo (and their hours and phone number and stuff)

I'm not kidding. This is the view as you'd see it from the street out front.  This is the view as you'd see it walking toward it along the sidewalk. One of these two views is what you'd see before you got to my office. Unless you were walking along the sidewalk from the other direction, in which case you'd see that feather banner before anything else.

I wasn't upset or even annoyed, really; as I said, it really wasn't all that much of an inconvenience. But... I dunno. Is it me?

vixy: (rock gods)
In other other news, I'm gonna copy and paste from Tony here, because reasons. Also because I'm still going WAIT HOLY CRAP HOW ARE THESE DATES HERE ALREADY AAAAAAAAA


I just looked at the calendar, and was amazed at how quickly time keeps on slippin' into the future. The Wayward Sereniversary celebration is this very weekend! So soon? YES, SO SOON! It's this Saturday September 20th! Our beloved Sunnie will be joining us on fiddle, and it's going to be a blast! Come join us!


Then the following weekend we jet off to FilkCONtinental with Betsy and Sunnie! What crazy person scheduled a Germany trip right after a Wayward gig? Oh right, it was me.


Then we get a brief rest before being GOHs at Orycon, in Portland, November 7-9, where Sunnie will join us and hopefully we'll catch a glimpse of this guy.


But wait! There's more! Before we stick a fork in 2014 and call it done, there's something special coming up after Orycon that we want you all to be a part of. We don't have all the i's crossed and the t's dotted yet, but you're going to want to save the evening of Wednesday, November 19th on your calendar for so
mething we're cooking up with someone we know. Trust me on this one... More details to come!
vixy: (autumn leaves)
In other news:  I have totally fallen for a TV show and I have to tell you all about it!

When I first saw the ads for Sleepy Hollow, I laughed out loud. That is going to be fucking ridiculous, I thought. That's an even worse concept than "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter" or whatever it was. Well, maybe I'll watch out of curiosity.

I missed the first two or three episodes when they were broadcast, but a friend online said he'd been watching it and that it was actually pretty good. So I got them on Amazon streaming.

And holy crap, they were GREAT.

I've seen the show referred to as camp, and I can't entirely dispute it. We're not talking camp like Rocky Horror or anything, but it's light SF/horror that is not taking itself too seriously, while at the same time not breaking the fourth wall to go "nudge nudge wink wink". It strikes just the right balance between the two. It's also not necessarily for purists of either Christian mythology or American history. The show plays fast and loose with both. But if that won't make you yell, you can sit back and be gloriously entertained.

The effects are wonderful, the writing is fantastic, and the casting... the casting is the main reason to stick with it. Tom Mison is absolutely perfect as Ichabod Crane; the way he speaks, the way he puts in the most delightful mix of knowledge, bewilderment and snark into his character, it's pure joy. Nichole Beharie is also perfect as Abbie Mills, the police officer paired with Crane to figure out the weird shit going on in the town of Sleepy Hollow. She's funny and snarky and dangerous and utterly believable while constantly barraged by unbelievable circumstances. Orlando Jones as her boss (Captain IRVING HEE HEE HEE) is absolute GOLD. Amandla Stenberg, of Hunger Games fame, is wonderful as his daughter Macey. John Cho is delightfully freaky as another police officer turned evil but struggling with himself. And John Noble gave me FREAKING CHILLS in his performance as a sometime assistant of Crane and Mills. There's also Lyndie Greenwood as Abbie's badass sister Jenny; Nicholas Gonzalez as Detective Morales, Abbie's ex and another officer in the force; Jill Marie Jones as Cynthia Irving, the Captain's ex-wife and Macey's mother; Katia Winter as Katrina Crane, Ichabod's wife.

And see, here's one of the big things that everyone's talking about with regard to this show. One of the two leads, and many of the supporting cast, are people of color. One of the two leads is a woman of color, in fact. And that's already all too rare in media nowadays. Let alone in science fiction media. And on top of that, which other reviewers have pointed out already... the people of color in the story aren't there just to suffer, sidekick, or teach the white folks a lesson. This was something I hadn't thought enough about until I read some other reviews on it, but even when there are leading or major supporting roles for people of color, they're all too often There for a Purpose (tm). They're the Magical Negro, or they have some morality lesson to teach, or they're there to be saved. It's depressingly rare that viewers of color get to just identify with characters in a story, having adventures and doing things and interacting with the other characters. And here, there is more representation than I've seen in any other genre show I can think of, and it is a fabulous cast telling fabulous stories.

The show doesn't put its hands over its eyes and go "la la la I don't see color" either. In the pilot episode, Crane, who's been revived from revolutionary war times, first meets Lt. Mills and says he assumes she's been emancipated from enslavement?  Her reaction has about the level of WTF that the comment deserves. Race isn't ignored, but it's also not the focus. The focus is telling this delightfully weird interpretation of (and extensive elaboration on) the story of the Headless Horseman.

The show isn't without problematic aspects. There's been no queer or trans representation at all, so far. There's been one mention of the slur "g*psy" (though at least only in regards to a language being translated; thankfully there were no stereotypical characters brought in). And there was an episode involving a Native American "demon" and shamanic ritual that, while I'm completely unqualified to judge as to whether it was at all sensitively done or gross cultural appropriation, I can't say is likely to be flawless given the liberties the show takes with Christian mythology and history.

While acknowledging its problematic aspects, I'm still really pleased with its overall level of representation, and just plain super enjoying the stories. It sort of pokes a similar spot that Buffy used to, with similar snappy dialogue and unexpected humor in the face of supernatural shit, but without Joss Whedon's weirdness about women. If you miss Buffy's good parts, or if you just love a good science fiction/supernatural story, I really really recommend Sleepy Hollow. One catch: it's not really easy to jump into the middle of. Season 2 premieres on the 22nd, but you can get all of season 1 from Amazon streaming and probably other places, and it's TOTALLY worth it. (The season 1 finale made me go AUGH I WAS NOT EXPECTING THAT YOU GUYS.)

(Bonus: Audible released a free download of Tom Mison reading Washington Irving's original "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" aloud. I just listened to it this morning. I didn't get a lot of work done.  Damn, that man's voice.)

ETA:  I *think* this is the review I refer to above. Not 100% sure because I don't remember reading that super cramped format, so maybe I was reading it quoted elsewhere in large parts.

This is also a good one, and makes some points that I missed, including points about gender-- the female leads display no jealousy, cattiness, etc. regarding each other's interaction with the male lead, and the show doesn't go the obnoxious "a male and female lead MUST have sexual tension" route. Katrina and Mills both stay focused on the apocalypse at hand rather than "who gets the man".  Crane and Mills become close and caring friends. It's refreshing.
vixy: (screaming)
Since I have less impetus for walks now that my company no longer has a PO Box at the local post office (it used to be my job to go check it every day), I'm trying to make a point of taking walks. I'm woefully out of shape, in the stamina sense-- I get out of breath waaaaaaayyyyyyyy too easily. On Brooke's recommendation, I finally got around to downloading "Zombies, Run!" and giving it a try.

After a couple of problems which turned out to be mainly user error, I've got the thing working, including playing nice with Google Play Music (it says this is an experimental feature and may not work, so I was all happy when it worked for me!) My playlist for the purpose is called "All You Zombies".

I'm enjoying the app so far. I've only done a couple of stories, but the very first story mission knocked my socks off. Like, I was not expecting right away for them to go for the tragic, and the voice acting is exceptionally well done, so it wasn't cheesy like it might have been with bad acting. When we got to (rot13 for spoilers) gur mbzovr punfvat zr jub jnf npghnyyl gur qrnq-naq-mbzovsvrq ybir vagrerfg bs zl pbagnpg ng gur onfr, jvgu fnvq pbagnpg tbvat "bu... bu tbq gurl'er fubbgvat" juvyr gur bgure crefba ng gur onfr jnf yvxr "lbh xabj fur jbhyq unir jnagrq guvf, lbh xabj fur jbhyqa'g unir jnagrq hf gb yrnir ure nf n mbzo" and I was like HOLY CRAP THEY ARE NOT FUCKING AROUND HERE. The story is not fluffy, is what I'm saying. Torrey told me that Elizabeth Bear wrote a chapter for them, and some other authors like her as well. I'm looking forward to the rest.

So far I've been walking along our stretch of the Interurban Trail. This amuses me somewhat, as our stretch of the Interurban borders directly on a verrrrrrry big cemetery. My 30-minute-ish walk is pretty much the length of the cemetery and back home again. So far no actual zombies spotted. (It's got a quite nice old rusty wrought-iron fence, though. Atmospheric!)

I doubt if I'll ever segue to running. Ever since my knee started clicking whenever I go up stairs (putting an end to my career as a stealth assassin), I'm a little leery of anything that high-impact. I dunno, we'll see if I ever get bored with walking. Small steps. So to speak.
vixy: (dragon)
I leave for Worldcon in a week!! I’m kinda freaking out about it.

Not about the con itself, which should be fine. I have no programming obligations except for Seanan’s concert and the related rehearsal(s), so I’m free to enjoy myself/be Seanan’s PA/sleep in a lot.

I just tend to get a certain brand of anxiety before travel of any kind, and the longer/farther the trip, the worse it is. It’s sort of a combination of “what if I fuck up and forget something” and “what if I don’t know where I’m going/can’t get places/get lost” and a vague, nebulous sort of anxiety that has no grounding in reality. (Oddly it never includes “what if my plane crashes”. I hate airports, but I don’t mind flying. Actually I mostly hate the other people you have to deal with in airports. Maybe I just hate people.)

Anyway, Tony helpfully reminded me that it’s packing, which I’ve done before (I hate packing) and it’s London, which I’ve also done before, and my passport is current.

My biggest worry that is actually grounded in reality is that I’m not sure I’ve saved up enough money. My friends wouldn’t let me actually starve, but I’m already mooching off people to some degree, and I… selfishly want to have enough to buy Disney pins DON’T JUDGE ME. And I really can’t ask people to loan me money for food so that I can keep money in reserve to give to Disney.

Oh yeah, that’s the best part. For a few days in between WorldCon in London and EuroCon in Dublin (which I’m not going to, but which is the weekend after LonCon and where Seanan is guesting), Seanan & I will be nipping over to Paris to go to DISNEYLAND PARIS WOOT! Not that I don’t adore you and all, WorldCon friends, but DISNEYLAND. We’ve never been, and I speak enough French to get us by (last year the employees at the Disney store there thought I was Belgian; make of that what you will) and YAY. We shall not be at the Hugos, because plans were made and tickets bought before Seanan’s nomination email came through, and let me tell you how glad I am not to have to pack a ball gown. SORRY GUYS MORE ROOM FOR DISNEY PINS.

I’m trying to help my anxiety by making lists. The problem with lists is that if I’m not careful and start going into brainstorming mode, I will list things that aren’t actually necessary, make a list so long that I overwhelm myself, and then look at the magnitude of Things To Do and then just shut down completely and go take a nap. Lists aren’t quite the all-purpose tool for me that they are for some people.

My brain has decided that this is the perfect time to remind me of all the stupid/embarrassing things I have ever done. Bad weasels. Sit. Heel.

But, one way or another, soon I’ll be enjoying tea and pastries and SF and DISNEYLAND DID I MENTION and so I’m trying to keep calm and get my shit together. :)
vixy: (moon on a string)
Oh right, I forgot to mention! We have another gig this Saturday!

We're playing a short concert set to open for Outdoor Trek, the local Star Trek outdoor show!   Details here on our artistdata page

Time: Saturday, music at 6pm, show at 7pm
Place: Blanche Lavizzo Park, 2100 S Jackson St, Seattle

The Star Trek (TOS) episode they're doing is "Mirror, Mirror." I actually have never seen one of their productions, so this is going to be exciting for me! Tony saw them last year and absolutely loved them.

We'll be one crew member short of the usual band, as Betsy will be away with the faeries. :)  But we hope to see some of you humanoids there!
vixy: (fired fox)
 It's summer, and it has been ridiculously hot. It was less melty this weekend, at least. My brain's still pretty melty today.

'Tis the season for what I call the teenager stage of the juvenile crows. (I've probably written about this before, but it doesn't stop being funny to me.) They're old enough that the adults no longer dive-bomb people protectively for getting near them, but young enough that they still have the voices that sound like kazoos. And still try to get adults to feed them. This results in the crows coming to my food dish (and everywhere else) consisting of one or two juveniles following an adult around going KWAAAAH! KWAAAAH! KWAAAAAAAH! with beaks constantly open, while the adults gather food for themselves and try their best to ignore the juveniles.

Once in a while the adults get fed up (so to speak) with it enough that they'll suddenly turn and shove some food into the juvenile's mouth. Which results in a sound like KWAHH! KWMMPHWMMMWMMMPH. Which is NEVER NOT HILARIOUS.


My bosses have decided to cancel their PO Box and have the mail just come to the physical address. I've worked for this company for ten years, and they had the box for I don't know how many years before that. Back when they got it, the idea was to protect the office manager (now me); one or two incidents of an angry claimant threatening or shooting at insurance adjusters made national news, so I'm told, and since everyone else in the company works at home, the office manager is alone in the office most of the time. They got the PO Box so that the company's address on public materials, correspondence and so forth, would not be the physical address where a claimant could find the office manager alone.

Google making it possible to pretty much find the physical location of anyone anywhere, the bosses have decided there's no point making me go to the post office every day. They did check with me first to see if I was okay with the change. I was. So last week I canceled the PO Box. It was much easier and quicker than I was expecting (though probably they skipped a step or two for me, like checking ID, since they know me by sight.) And now I no longer have to make those daily 1.5-mile-round-trip trips. And though that means taking my walks on my own time now, it's a bit of a relief not to have that hanging over me every morning (the mornings with migraines were...unpleasant.) It's kind of a weird change; I haven't yet stopped getting the feeling around 9:30 or 10am of "I've gotta do something I'm supposed to do something I haven't done yet and I'm about to be late for it."


We had two gigs this past weekend. We had fun but I'm exhausted today. (See also: mornings with migraines.) Can't Stop the Serenity was in a cute new location this year, the Central Cinema. Nice acoustics, nice layout, good feel, pretty good food.  (Although some folks seemed to think "dinner theatre" equated with "bar" and thus talked throughout the concert. A little distracting, but not the venue's or the organizers' fault. I chose to think of it as having communed a bit with the spirit of my mother, who played her share of bar gigs where nobody was listening.) It was a good turnout for the event. "Hecklevision" (basically MST3K via tweet) seemed to work well once everyone got the dick jokes out of their systems.  I'd enjoy seeing a movie a little better suited to it. We had to duck out early so as to get rested up for Sunday, so we didn't get a chance to say goodbye to the SBC folks. Thanks again for inviting us!

Betsypalooza (not the official name I don't think) aka House Concert Under the Trees (I don't actually know what its official name was) was an absolute BALL from start to finish. I was so happy to see all the wonderful people who came and brought all their positive energy and love. I really needed that. (I know that I hide a lot from the social, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate what you bring.) The tiredness today is TOTALLY worth it. Thank you to everyone who performed and everyone who worked and everyone who came and everyone else who tweeted or otherwise sent their good wishes. Thanks especially to Kaede Tinney for asking us to join the event as their backup band. <3 <3 <3


Tomorrow's my birthday. I'll be 43. My postal carrier at work (who's been our regular carrier for the entire ten years I've been here, and for the years before that when he knew the previous office manager) remembered my birthday, but didn't remember my age, and refused to believe it. :) That's always flattering. I get the good genes from both sides. I told him I'd show him my ID tomorrow if he wanted. I might greet him at the door with my driver's license just to be funny.

I've been wracking my brains for literally a month trying to figure out what I want to do for my birthday. And I can't really think of anything. I don't have any super-special restaurant I want to go to. I'm thinking about afternoon tea at Queen Mary's, but that's not something the whole household would really enjoy. (Torrey and I might just go by ourselves.)  The spa would be nice, but the boys can't go to that. (Torrey and I might go do that too.) I perused the local theatre and ballet offerings, but nothing's on right now that I want to see.

Maybe I'll call in sick to work tomorrow. I'm not sure they'd actually buy it... but that's actually all I can think of right now that I really want to do. Take an extra day off work and just lie around the house. Except then I'd just end up feeling guilty at the end of the day for having "wasted" it. Brains are silly.

vixy: (escher)
 So my husband is doing a super awesome thing!

(My husband is [personal profile] gfish , aka Attoparsec. You may remember him from such super awesome things as the Cocktail Engine, the Harmonic Fire Pendula, and the Celatone, which won the Longitude Punk'd competition at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. Plus he's a cutie.)

What's he up to next? Why, it's a GIANT SPINNING 3D MAZE FOR BOWLING BALLS!  Because of course it is.

Yes, really.

Building the maze is going to require the purchase of a LOT of steel. Over a ton, in fact! And to my mother-in-law's eternal perplexity, I'm actually in favor of this plan!

(Don't worry, he's got steel-toed boots.)

To help pay for the steel, he's got a Kickstarter going right here.  Please consider donating, or at least spreading the word!  Help there be one more piece of awesome kinetic sculpture in the world, and make Tony park in the driveway for a couple of months! Everyone wins! Or something!
vixy: (truth)

This is a post I’ve been thinking about making since way back when John Scalzi posted “Straight White Male: the Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is” (a little over two years ago, I now realize. Wow.) He wrote a follow-up article to that, in which he answered a number of frequently-asked questions. The last question & answer in that follow-up was this:

12. You wrote the article and pointed out the straight white men live life on the lowest difficulty setting. Okay, fine. What do I/we do next?

Well, that’s up to you, isn’t it? What I’m doing is pointing out a thing. What you do with that thing is your decision.

That said, here’s what I do: recognize it, and work to make it so the more difficult settings in life becomes closer to the one I get to run through life on — by making those less difficult, mind you, not making mine more so.

I’ve spent time on and off ever since then thinking about more specific answers to this question.

I’m thinking about it again in the wake of the UCSB shootings. I watched Elliot Rodger’s final video about the “Day of Retribution”, and I read his entire 140-page manifesto. (I’m not linking them, and if you choose to watch and read them, be aware that the content includes hate speech, misogyny, and graphic descriptions of torture.)

His motivation for killing both women and men was misogyny. He explicitly states that he wants to kill women for not giving him sex, and men for getting to have sex with women when he “deserved it more.” He states this over and over. Yet there are still people trying to claim he’s “just one crazy guy.” It’s “just one isolated incident”. Or that he just hated all humanity.

(There was definitely racism and classism in his motivations as well. But the overwhelming, driving force here was misogyny-- his hatred of women.)

The #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter was created in response. The misogynistic violence of Elliot Rodger was not an isolated incident. Another such incident happened in Stockton literally within hours of the UCSB incident. Another happened just a month ago. Do some google searching. Male violence motivated by hatred of women is a regular occurrence.

Not all men menace women. But all women have been menaced by men. It really is that simple.

“So what am I supposed to do about it?”

I’ve seen this question phrased in various ways, from the sarcastic “yeah? so what?” to the genuine “I don’t know how to help.”

Here are my thoughts. I think they apply not only to sexism and misogyny, but to racism, transphobia, homophobia, and ableism. So even if I don’t say so every time, please understand that I’m referring to all oppressed groups here.

1.  LISTEN.  Listen to people when they’re talking about their own lived experiences. You might feel like you’re being told “just shut up.” What you’re really being told, asked, begged to do is “shut up and listen.”

This means not dismissing a woman’s concerns about her safety as silly or overreacting. It means not dismissing someone’s objection to a racist remark as “too sensitive” or “but it was just that one racist guy.”  It means not dismissing, period. Our tendency-- all of us-- is to assume that if we don’t see it, it doesn’t really happen, or it’s really rare. (Just today I had a man on Twitter telling me that because he’s never heard anyone joke about rape, it must not be that common.)

The first time I read women of color talking about white women always wanting to touch their hair, like they’re some exotic pet or something, I was shocked. I was like who the hell even does that. I’d absolutely never heard of it before. And yet, it happens to women of color all the goddamn time. I didn’t go “oh, it was probably just that one weirdo,” even though I’d never heard of it before.  Because they know their own experiences better than I do.

Listening also means thinking about what you’re hearing. Think about how many women are saying these things happen to them. Think about what it would be like to have them happen to you daily. Most importantly, think about your own behavior. Which leads me to...

2. Don’t get defensive.  So many men interrupt women’s conversations about their own experiences with “but NOT ALL MEN…!”  So many white people interrupt POC conversations about their own experiences with “but NOT ALL WHITE PEOPLE…!”

Look, if you have genuinely NEVER done the harmful thing they’re talking about, then you don’t need to get defensive, because it’s not about you. And if you ever have done the thing they’re talking about, then you should stop talking and think about how to make sure you stop doing that thing.

To go back to my example above, I’ve never asked a black woman if I could touch her hair. It’s a gross, rude, othering thing to do. I also did not go “hey hey *I* never did that!” in the mentions of the WOC that were talking about it on Twitter. What would be my point? Why should they care? They still have to deal with white women who do.  My “LOOK AT ME I’M A DECENT HUMAN BEING” doesn’t help them. It doesn’t make them feel better. It doesn’t change their experience in any way, except that now I’m making their conversation about me. (And I’m also implicitly asking for praise just for being a decent human being.)

It’s uncomfortable to hear about a harmful behavior and ask yourself, “wait, do I do this? Have I ever done this?” Defensiveness is a common knee-jerk reaction to avoid feeling that discomfort. But that discomfort is important. Stop a minute and let it do its job.

If you are one of the not all men or not all white people or not all cis people or what have you, that is absolutely awesome. I’m not being sarcastic here. If you would never dream of doing the harmful things you see being discussed, I’m really glad. Unfortunately, when people are talking about their experience of the harmful thing, it is not the time to say so.

3.  WITHHOLD YOUR APPROVAL OF HARMFUL BEHAVIORS.  So the first two things didn’t feel very active, did they? Here’s some ACTION you can take!

Men: if you’re in a group of other men, and one of them makes a sexist remark-- rape joke, sexist joke, catcalling women on the street, the kind of thing that as a good guy you’d never do-- don’t give your approval. This means don’t laugh, don’t smile, and also don’t be silent. Say something. “Hey man, that’s not cool.” “That’s not funny.” Something to explicitly show that it’s not okay.

White people: same deal. Racist jokes among co-workers? Slurs used in casual conversation? “Don’t say that, it’s racist.”

"Why does it matter? It’s just a joke, right?" Wrong.

Sexism, racism and the rest aren’t about hurt feelings. They are about big pictures. Overarching cultural and social systems that are in place to benefit certain groups at the expense of others. There’s a ton of evidence out there. Wage differences for the same jobs for women vs. men, for white people vs. POC, for cis people vs. trans people. Incarceration rates for drug crimes (mostly black) vs. actual rates of drug use (mostly white). Start googling and keep going until you can’t handle it anymore.

But it isn’t like there’s one old white guy out there controlling it all, one board of directors we can fire and be done with it. Huge systems aren’t controlled like that. Huge systems are made up of people. Individuals. How many are we on this planet by now? Seven billion I think?

I don’t know about you, but the best answer I’ve got is that to change the system you have to change the minds of the people it’s comprised of. Sometimes that means one mind at a time. Not all of them, alas, but enough of them to tip the balance, enough of them to have a majority of people saying this is wrong, this is not the way it should be. Enough to take control of the system and change it.

And things like jokes and casual catcalling normalize the attitudes that keep the system in place. They normalize the status quo. They say it’s okay to keep thinking of the group being joked about as other-- or to just keep on not thinking of the group at all. Erasure helps keep the system in place too.

Worse, they tell the people who are racist, or sexist, or violent, that it’s okay. One example: actual surveys have shown that men who admit to forcing women to have sex when they didn’t want to (a surprising number of men will admit to this as long as the word “rape” isn’t used) believe that it’s a normal thing that all men do. They don’t know you’re laughing because it’s “just a joke.” They genuinely believe you’re laughing because you do it too.

Fan pages for Elliot Rodger existed within hours of the news breaking. Go and look at the number of commenters who cheer him on for what he did, if you can stomach it. It’s not just a joke.

Don’t join in. And don’t give your silent approval. Speak up.

4.  Use your privilege for good.

Look, women have been speaking out about these things for decades, and the men who need to hear it aren’t listening. Sad but true: men are more likely to listen to other men.  White people, cis people, straight people, able-bodied people, the same applies. You have pull here. Talk about these things.

Some people have a certain amount of privilege. I have some, as a white woman. Nobody’s asking me to apologize for being white or for having white privilege. But one of the things I can do with that privilege is this: I can engage with other white people about issues of racism. POC have to deal with racism every goddamn day and I can’t even imagine how exhausting that is. While it’s appalling that a white person might listen more to me than to a woman of color, I can still lend my voice. I can’t speak for POC, nor should I ever try to. But I can say “that’s not okay” when someone makes a racist comment. I can call out cultural appropriation when I see it. I can say “you should listen to this POC/you should read what they have written.”

I can also remind people that saying or doing a racist thing doesn’t make YOU a racist; it makes you a person who made a mistake that needs fixing. Hey, I’ve made mistakes too! From racist assumptions about athletes, to wearing bindi, to being ignorant of words like “g*psy” and “tr*nny”. I wasn’t always good at listening, either. It took me a while. And it took some people in my life who were willing to talk about it and keep talking.

There are lots of other ways to put your privilege to good use. Voting for measures that move us toward equality. Voting for politicians whose policies don’t disproportionately disadvantage oppressed groups. Teaching your children, if you have children or are a teacher, clergyman, or other authority figure-- all children, not just the girls-- about consent, bodily autonomy, and fairness. Teaching open-mindedness and compassion and empathy. (Empathy can be and needs to be taught.)  Speaking out to your administrator or PTA against sexist dress codes in your school. Writing to your Congresspeople about reproductive rights, racist sentencing laws, poor ADA compliance. Going to movies and reading books and comics that feature women, POC, queer, disabled, and/or trans people as major characters; using your dollars to let media creators know that diversity can and will sell.  You take it from here. Use your imagination.

I confess that my first introduction to Spider-Man was via The Electric Company, but I still feel I’m geek enough that yeah, I’m gonna go there: remember “with great power comes great responsibility?”

How about we use our privilege with some responsibility too?

That’s my answer. That’s what you can do about it.

TL;DR: use your privilege for good.


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December 2016

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