Category Archives: Twitter

What Cheesecake Really Costs Us: the DC Reboot and why I own a bottle of Twilight perfume

I haven’t posted about the DC Reboot yet, I’ve been out of work and the books I was planning to pick up seemed like an unnecessary expense. I can’t really write about something I haven’t read, so I haven’t had anything to say.  Then last week’s comics hit and threw the ball into a court I’m a little more familiar with: the visual treatment of women in and around comics.

If you haven’t yet read Laura Hudson’s incredible editorial on Comics Alliance about the treatment of Superheroines in the DC Relaunch, do yourself a favor and check it out.  There have been plenty of other reactions to last week’s comics. Today, an interview with a 7-year-old, via io9 sparked off a discussion on Twitter today about whether it was appropriate for the writer of that piece to be showing pictures like the ones in question (from the T rated Red Hood and the Outlaws) to her child.  I think it’s fine for her to use them as a teaching tool, perhaps because I have more memories of my mom talking about Barbie being an unrealistic representation of the female form than I do of actually playing with Barbie dolls.

Thinking about my mom, about Barbies and about unrealistic representations of the female form made me realize have something to say about this topic. I wanna tell you about Christmas last year.

You see, my mom is the Batman of Christmas shopping and she still has us give her christmas lists (due by 9 pm on Thanksgiving Day) because she enjoys the challenge of finding the best price on a set of Rock Band Instruments or whatever. So, while I was putting my list together last year, I added a bottle of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Heroine perfume. It seemed like a great idea because I like a lot of the notes in the scent, I like the idea of helping out the Hero Initiative and I never seem to pull the trigger on buying whole bottles of perfume .

So imagine my surprise Christmas morning when I open a bottle of perfume from my Mom and it isn’t Heroine. It isn’t even a BPAL scent, it’s this. That’s right, it’s Twilight perfume. Volturi Twilight Reign Scented Body Mist in the Romance shade.  Now, I like Twilight a bit, and I would have just laughed it off as a fantastically terrible thing to own if it hadn’t been for my mom’s answer when I asked her why she hadn’t gotten me the BPAL.  “Erin,” she said, “have you seen the picture on that website?”

I hadn’t actually, because I’d read about the perfume on Geek Girl Diva’s blog and she cuts off the picture a bit, making my memory of some generic tough girl with a gun a bit incomplete, see:

Seriously, there are other scents in that line closer to the one I asked for. I already own and use plenty of floral spring scents, what I asked for and needed was something more wintry.The woman in that picture is covering her breasts and her junk and that’s it. When forced to look at the full picture without the distractions of the BPAL website, I’m completely disgusted. Compare it to the Twilight thing on the left, which despite being utter crap as far as perfume goes looks so very much classier.  No wonder my mom chose the one over the other.

And who exactly is to blame for this? No one and everyone. I know Adam Hughes is capable of drawing beautiful women without making them look like porn stars, I know BPAL is a company run by a woman and I assume the folks at The Hero Initiative are pretty darn smart, so why does she look like that? Well, maybe the art is supposed to be a generic comic book heroine and that is what we get in 2010 when we depict a generic female heroine: art that makes my mom think I ignored every one of our discussions about how Barbie is an unrealistic standard of feminine beauty.

This is cost of cheesecake, the cost of the inescapable assumption that depictions of women need to be aimed at the lowest common denominator. Greg Land on the cover of the Women of Marvel trade. Greg Horn’s Emma Frost covers. Star Sapphires. Catwoman. Starfire. It’s the look on my mom’s face when she drew my attention to that picture, her decision to buy a product based on the story of Bella motherfucking Swan rather than one featuring our generic depiction of a comic book heroine.

Whether or not cheesecake is the norm in comic books, it is the face we present to the world too much of the time. I wish I knew how to change that, but refusing to buy cheesecakey things doesn’t seem to be working, so I’m adding my voice to the crowd. I don’t condone cheesecake, it isn’t a defining factor of comics for me, so please stop using it to represent comics.

ETA: I went over time by about an hour writing this, but when the timer rang and I was still in my stride I decided to let myself write until it was done.

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Filed under Comics, Feminism, me me me, Twitter, Web

First Time in the Files, 0

Those of you who follow my online presence elsewhere on this great big internet of ours may be aware that I’m a huge fan of Mark Doing Stuff (Reading, Watching, whatever) ever since his first read through of Harry Potter made me remember how much those books and that fandom meant to me.  I’ve been itching to do something in the same vein for a long while (because I freaking love serialized fiction and reading/watching it in it’s intended form. I’ll go off on this at some point, I promise) and it’s time to pull the trigger.

So I’m going to watch the X-Files, one episode at a time; then I’m going to blog about it.  Like everything else I’m planning to release on this blog in the near future, I’m going to write the review posts in half an hour.

So that’s the plan. I’m not Mark, I can in no way do what he does, and I’m sure he and I can, could and would disagree on a number of things, but we share a love serialized fiction. I believe works like Dickens’, Ed Brubaker’s Captain America and shows like Battlestar Galactica or X-Files should be experienced (for the first time at least) in a serialized fashion, including breaks between installments, and I love sharing my experiences with other people. So that’s the spirit I’m using as I approach this project.

If I’m very lucky I’ll be able to post one episode every Monday through Friday for the forseeable future. The plan is to stockpile episodes and reviews so this blog can continue to have some kind of content through November without me having to post much of anything that detracts from my NaNoWriMo wordcount. After November I may speed the reviews up, or I may keep them at one a day, we’ll see how I feel.

Now For Some Rules

  • Don’t Be A Dick. Seriously, Wil Wheaton has it right. Not being a dick includes, but is not limited to
      • Bullying
      • Name calling
      • Any kind of racist, sexist, or generally xenophobic (from the greek meaning fear of strangers) bullshit.
    • All this is at my discretion, if I need to make another post to clarify things I will, but hopefully we can all play nice with the pretty toys.
  • Spoilers
    •  I’m awful about spoilers, I love to read them, but I think I believe those anti-spoiler people who say they’re the worst thing ever.  So I’m going to try to go without spoilers of any kind.  Seriously. I know nothing (Jon Snow) and I intend it to stay that way. So don’t spoil me. I’m doing this by myself, I have no way of knowing* if there are spoilery comments, I don’t really intend to turn this into a separate blog, so I’ll be doing the moderating myself, something I have no experience in. If you spoil me, all I can is squint my eyes to blur the spoiler while I move the mouse over to the delete button.
    • So what is a spoiler?
    • You should take a look at Mark’s spoiler policy, because it’s honestly turning into a credo to how I live my life around people who have yet to experience things I love. Spoilers include, but are not limited to:
      • Any information about episodes I have yet to see.
      • Information that intimates I will learn something about a seemingly unimportant detail in episodes I have yet to see
      • Anything that confirms or denies my wild theorizing about what might happen in episodes I have yet to see
      • Anything that attempts to alter my assumptions about a character based on information I do not yet have. I hated Zuko for basically all of season 1 of Avatar, my enjoyment of Tyrion warred against my belief that all Lannisters are evil and my experience was better and truer for it. So if I’m bashing your favorite character for something they later reveal was for the greater good, please don’t tell me. I will likely publish an heartfelt apology when I reach that point, but let me mistakenly hate your favorite characters until I am proven wrong.
      • Answering my questions with facts. If I ask a question and I don’t specifically say you can answer it don’t give me the facts.
    • That being said, go ahead with the cryptic answers, thoughts and statements. This is the place to be (kinda) cruel.
    • Saying I’ll find something out eventually is cool, saying the season and episode where it’ll happen isn’t.
    • Saying I spotted or missed something important (without identifying what was important) is legit, telling me what was important is not.
    • Saying, “I can’t wait for tomorrow’s episode” is a spoiler, saying “Keep watching! ;)” is not.
    • I understand that this will be rough for some people, I can be incredibly dense and I will miss things. Batman would probably disapprove of my detective skills, but he’s not here and none of you are him (unless Adam West, Michael Keaton, Kevin Conroy, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, or Christian Bale is reading this, in which case, Hi!) Batman and only Batman is allowed to post spoilers, because I trust Batman not to post spoilers.

*unless kind souls let me know via other means, like email or twitter

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Geek Girls Travel in Packs

Yestereday on twitter Joey Heflich, or @MrBalls if you’d rather, decided to run a little geek survey. As ususal, there was a dearth of female geeks participating initially, so I (and a nice number of other ladies) decided to take part to give him a better sample.  Now, the core of this survey was the following scenario.

 

You see two geeks outside of a convention center.

Geek A is gesticulating wildly, talking about the upcoming release of The Dark Knight Rising, the new Batman movie. Geek A is a bit overweight, unkempt and pale. Geek A’s wardrobe is a wrinkled t-shirt and a pair of cargo shorts.

Conversely, Geek B is dressed up as superhero. Geek B is more of the skinny sort with nice hair to compliment a pair of glasses. A messenger bag is slung over Geek B’s shoulder to free up Geek B’s hands, which hold onto a book and a phone.

While Geek B appears to be politely listening to Geek A, Geek B shows clear signs of being disinterested.

 

We were then asked to identify the gender of the two geeks. I said both were male and so did a majority of the other responders, but Geek B was supposed to be female. As a matter of fact, Geek B was loosely modeled on Jill and Ali, Twitter buddies of mine. With the exception of the skinny attribute, Geek B could well be me, but I still thought of Geek B as a male, why is that?

Is it because we percieve a majority of geeks as male? Yes, absolutely, and that was the point of the survey (and this very nice response post), but I wondered if anything in the scenario suggested male geeks? I’d say yes, because the conversation depicted is between individuals and geek girls travel in packs.

Maddy and I hit a new (to her) comic book store yesterday and as we were pulling in I noted that the store is a really chatty place, she responded (paraphrased) “Of course it is, if you’re a girl alone in a geeky place, you’re going to get hit on.”

It’s true and to be honest, I don’t usually mind.  However, if I’m at a Con, a geek event or even hitting my LCS I’m likely to bring along a wingwoman. I don’t want to suggest that the geek community is an unfriendly or hostile place for women, but the situation described in the survey totally happens, it is uncomfortable and it’s much easier to get out if you can look over and say, “I need to help my friend pick an issue of Spider-Man” (Maddy always needs help picking out issues of Spider-Man).

Even when I hit geek events without a wingwoman I’m as likely as not to pick up a pack. If I’m travelling to visit a Con, I’m going there to meet up with people I know from twitter, I’ve developed con buddies on my own at MiniCon every year and I’m just extroverted enough to hop into a lively conversation if it looks welcoming.

However you slice it, I’m not likely to be Geek B. I wouldn’t be standing outside a convention center in an uncomfortable conversation, there’s no way my pack would let me get cornered like that.

That’s my opinion and experience, but I could well be in the wrong. Let me know what you think in the comments, on twitter, or via email.

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Filed under Ponderings, Twitter

A Bedtime Story for @WonderAli

It’s funny, hanging out with creative people. Sometimes you’ll have no idea how their minds work, sometimes you’ll be so in sync that you can finish each other’s sentences, and sometimes the littlest things will set you off. Take tonight, I’m bumming around Twitter and @WonderAli jokingly asks @FuzzyTypewriter for a bedtime story. The next thing I know my head is saying, “Once upon a time there was a gentleman of disreputable tastes.” and we’re off to the races. I’ve only written a bit of it and it leaves off on kind of a cliffhanger, but here is what I wrote before exhaustion pulled me down.

Once upon a time there was a gentleman of disreputable tastes. His name has long been lost to history, but we know he was a visionary and, like many scary looking people, he loved small, fuzzy animals.

This gentleman, for some reason or another, longed for the company of others like him, but found that whenever he gathered like-minded friends about him the authorities would invariably intervene, carting the man and his friends away from their comfort and conversations about the best ways to remove burrs from behind puppy ears or how to protect your china while on the run from the law.

This fellow drifted through the world, from city to city and them kingdom to kingdom, all the while looking for a place where he and the hulking, grunting, smelly mass of his peers could call home. A place where they would not be judged by their, frankly, frightening appearance but by their diverse and productive talents.

It was on the edges of a great forest, neither too close nor too far from the island capital of the kingdom that the man finally gave up hope.

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Books and Tweets in Large Quantities

Before I get to a discussion of what I am reading I’d like to mark a momentous achievement: I have just posted my 10,000th tweet. It’s sappy but I’m excessively proud of it. Twitter has been such a force for good for me that I really like to mark the big moments like this.

Anyway, now that that’s out of the way onto the important matters: What I have read so far this week, because being unemployed does wonders for your reading (warning, some of what I read is Jane Austen, my lingo may get all Regency on you, I apologize in advance).

First off, I scored the last copy of Alcatraz vs. the Shattered Lens (the fourth book in Brandon Sanderson’s epically charming Alcatraz series) from my local Barnes and Noble.  I know that I am a bad fan for doing this, that I should have pre-ordered it so there would still be a copy on the shelves to enchant some serendipitous child, but I’m lazy and it was sitting right there.  Alcatraz vs. the Shattered Lens was everything you expect from the series, laugh out loud humor, lots of action, a good heart, and crazy awesome magic.  This book has giant robots dressed as librarians, 13 year old girls with silver hair and giant swords, and bad math, magically bad math. However, since the last book both the main character and the writer have grown and matured.  Shattered Lens starts opening Alcatraz’s eyes to the fact that “the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters” and Sanderson handles it beautifully. The first person narration also got a bit more believable, not that it was ever bad, but it felt much more in character and also gave away a couple of secrets about the future.  It’s stuff that future Alcatraz probably wouldn’t think twice about writing, but that I as a reader was glad to hear.

Of course, that’s not the only thing I read since I last wrote briefly, I slammed my way through a gem from the most recent Audible $4.95 sale, Pride and Prejudice.  I’ve read it several times, watched the BBC/A&E/Colin Firth mini-series even more times, but somehow I had never listened to it before and in all the previous Audible sales the Pride and Prejudice was read by the narrator of my favorite edition of Jane Eyre and I couldn’t take hearing Elizabeth in what I hear as Jane’s voice.

As so often happens when I reread something in Audio the book was a completely new experience to me. I found myself identifying with Elizabeth less than usual.  I noticed her flaws more clearly than I had before, mainly her overreactions to events in the world around her. That sounds much harsher than I mean it to be, she develops decided (one might say, prejudiced) opinions about everything on the spot and holds to them doggedly until their incorrectness is flaunted in her face.  It’s something we all do. I know I react the same way to bad news, because I did so this evening and got it thrown in my face directly. I hope that by noticing it in Lizzie and myself, I’m growing past that way of thinking, like I have grown past her in age.

It didn’t bother me as much the last time I read Pride and Prejudice, but on this reread I was very conscious of being older than Elizabeth. It’s strange, because I feel like the same person I’ve always been, but I have gone beyond the Elizabeth stage. I graduated from College, got a job, moved out of my parents’ house and, shudder, grew up a bit (obviously not all the way, the first book I reviewed in this post is meant for 8-12 year olds). I still adore the book, but now the reflection I see of myself in the characters looks like a past me rather than the present me.

All of that introspection made me really want to reread Persuasion, which I have now started after downloading it from the ever-wonderful Hennepin County Library, but at first I tried to read something that’s been sitting in my Audible library for a few months now, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn: The Final Empire. I’ve already read the Mistborn trilogy once, but I like to reread Sanderson’s books with his annotations, which are like a mix of writing master class and DVD commentary and The Final Empire has elements of Regency romance, so it felt thematically right.

I mentioned that regency element on twitter and had a bit of a chat with Laura Fitzgerald (she works for Tor, so you know she’s awesome) about other fantasy books in that vein.  She brought up Shades of Milk and Honey, which I’ve been hesitant to pick up, probably because Pride and Prejudice and Zombies left a pretty awful taste in my mouth in some respects then I get home last night and the Hugo Award winning author of Shades of Milk and Honey, Mary Robinette Kowal, had tweeted at me about my concerns about the book, eventually using etymology to prove that she knew her stuff from a historical accuracy point of view. 1) This is just so cool. I totally appreciated her taking the time to tweet at me. 2) Of course I immediately reserved a copy of the book from the library (what? I’m still wary/chary about the book, and if I like it I’ll buy a copy to keep). 3) This is more or less my favorite thing about twitter, how the things you say resonate across the cacophony and reach people who want to hear them.

That’s enough from me for now, I have a bunch more to say about Austen, but I’ll save that for tomorrow because it’s long and, I think, far more self contained than this mess of a post could ever hope to be.

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Filed under Books, me me me, Twitter

Explaining Two Sentences in Five Paragraphs

Ugh. 0 words written on Project Rizzo Allen today.  I mean I did a lot of things, I applied for a bunch of jobs and played a little Kingdom Hearts (replaying these games is good for my mental health, I swear it is) and I continued my experiments with alcoholic ice cream floats, just no writing.  I imagine that a few of the things in those last few sentences are confusing, allow me to explain.

Project Rizzo Allen

Doctor Who artist Matthew Dow Smith mentioned on his twitter that he uses Muppets as code names for projects he doesn’t want to talk about in detail yet. This makes a lot of sense to me. I don’t mind talking about what I write, but I don’t make up titles easily, no writer should get too attached to any title, and, honestly, I freaking love the Muppets in just about every form. So I’m using Muppet code names. Don’t ask me where the Allen part came from because I made it up in August and I have no idea what the purpose was at the time*, but I like it enough to let it stand.  In fact, if anyone wants to guess at why I put “Allen” at the end I will accept any silliness you all come up with as truth.  I updated the sidebar with the Muppet codenames for everything and I’m glad I have a way to talk about things without having to make up official titles for them. I hate naming things as is, so having a pool of names to pull from makes my life easier, as the Muppets so often do.

I Applied for a Bunch of Jobs

Here’s the thing, I’ve been working as a contractor for over a year, so I’m getting used to minimal job security. This one snuck up on me during November. I’m applying to my top tier aspiration jobs right now, gonna do more extensive searching next week when I am actually unemployed, and I’ll probably use my bartending certification in more than one way before this month is out.

Alcoholic Ice Cream Floats

Speaking of bartending, I blame NaNoWriMo, late nights, and twitter for my latest little obsession.  I was struggling on Monday night to hit 25,000 words according to my sense of justice (I put some outline words in for padding because the NaNo site kept eating away at my word count in the official validation) and twitter gave me two ideas for celebration.  Matt was having Scotch and Mitch was having a Root Beer Float, so I combined the two and you saw the results yesterday. I’m working on a new one, I will say it’s Orange Soda based, but I’m going for a complex flavor that I haven’t worked out yet.  It’ll be cool if I can make it work.

No Writing

This isn’t strictly true. I write very intensive cover letters that I edit very poorly (I’m a terrible self editor, remember that if I ever ask any of you to beta read a book. Terrible. Self. Editor.), I tweet constantly and I’m writing this here blog now. So what I meant was that I did no writing on Project Rizzo Allen, but I did do some nice worldbuilding on Project Pepe during my commute.

It’s exciting because I had all but given up on the world Project Pepe is set in, the original story (it was the NaNo novel from 2006) was a bit Mary Sueish and came darn close to X-Men fanfiction. I’ve always desperately wanted to do something cool there, because I like a lot of the worldbuilding, the characters and I think this world needs more Super Hero novels.  What I couldn’t figure out was how to mitigate the elements of, well, bad fan fiction until this week. I had a couple of those “What if I changed this?” thoughts that completely coalesced the story for me. It was what I like to call the coda book. I went through a period where all of my series had a main sequence and then a coda afterwards to give me some closure on the decisions I made during the series.  Anyway the coda, Project Pepe, is another feel from the Super Hero High School trope I was playing with originally and it’s so much better.  There is more meat to the story and I get to keep the parts of the world that I like while losing the baggage. I’ve spent months trying to work out how to do this world justice, and now I’ve figured it out and it feels really good.

So there, five paragraphs on two brief sentences about my day. How in the world did I manage to lose NaNoWriMo?

*ETA: I think I figured out where Allen came from, and I think the codename was originally for a completely different project set in the Project Pepe universe (thanks Evernote for keeping all my story notes sitting around), but at this point I’ve named so many parts of Project Rizzo Allen so many things that I’m just gonna run with it as is.  A gold star to anyone who guesses why I used Allen now.

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Filed under Comics, Drinks, me me me, Twitter, Writing