Category Archives: Web

My Letter to Senator Franken

As today is the blackout to raise awareness of the SOPA/PIPA bills in the United States Congress and Senate I decided to contact my representatives with my thoughts. I used my Twitter to thank my congressional representative, Erik Paulsen* for not supporting SOPA, I called Senator Amy Klobichar to tell her how upset I was over her support of PIPA and I’ve posted my letter to Senator Al Franken about his support of PIPA below. I urge you all to research the bills, form your opinions, and, should you agree with me about the threat they pose, to contact your representatives.

Dear Senator Franken,

I cannot describe how upset I was when I found out you were supporting PIPA. I can understand your position, unlike most Senators, you have Intellectual Property to protect. I hope to publish a novel someday and I know that if it happens chances are my book will be pirated. Heck, people already steal posts from my days at Marvel Entertainment and post them on their blogs with little to no attribution (sometimes they’ll even translate them into Russian first).  I do not look forward to that day. However, as someone who got his start in comedy I cannot believe you want to hand control of the internet over to people who gladly pull down YouTube videos for “copyright infringement” that routinely turns out to be Fair Use (it happens to This Week in Tech, a widely-respected tech news show, with startling frequency).

These are people who would stand in the way of progress, who would rather see their current model continue rather than take that next step into the future. You would be handing the keys to the future of content to people who want the electric car kept in the garage so they can keep driving their Hummers without guilt.

I know that PIPA would not explicitly hamper innovation and freedom of speech, but it would give people with the desire to protect their property at any cost the tools to do so. It would inspire fear in anyone who wanted to post a video of themselves playing the ukulele and singing a song by the artist du jour, in anyone using examples to discuss the implications of the treatment of  women in the latest controversial comic book, in anyone who wanted to make a joke or parody about copyrighted material. They could get sued for everything, or maybe, if they’re lucky, their website will merely be blocked from the entire United States until they are able to clear their name.

I’m not opposed to protecting the intellectual property of the fine content creators of the United States and beyond, but I would rather eliminate piracy by allowing a well-informed public to purchase or borrow easily-available content than keep them away from that same content through fear. I would like to buy a book because I want to support the author and publisher, not  because I’m afraid of what would happen if I downloaded a copy.

Please, Senator Franken, reconsider your position on PIPA.

Yours Sincerely,

Erin Kelly

PS: I posted a copy of this email, along with illustrative links at my blog

*admission: Erik’s an acquaintance of mine and he knows my Dad, I was really glad to avoid raking him over the coals on this.



Filed under Web, Writing

On Not Being Ready

I was a bit unprepared for NaNoWriMo this year. I’m using an all new, all different approach, because I felt that last year I plotted but didn’t actually worldbuild. So this year I focused on the research and worldbuilding and let the plot find me as I learned more about the period and place (New York City in 1906).  I think I like how it turned out, I have okay characters (I’d like that to improve before I write my next book) and though I have nearly no outline I have a good idea of what will happen and why it will happen and it’s all grounded in the world, which is what bugged me the most last year.

As of this moment I have 2,172 words, which is not great, but between being a zombie for two days (long story. Short version, new drugs didn’t work out) and only writing last night I think it should work out.

If I was unready for NaNoWriMo, that’s nothing compared to how unprepared Apple was when they released iOS5. Abrupt change of topic, I know, but it actually relates.

So iOS5 is all nifty and shiny and stuff, and I do dig the new notification center, sorta.  Except for the part where it’s ruined too many nights of sleep since I upgraded a few weeks ago. You see, notification center is actually great if you’re the kind of person for whom out of sight really is out of mindm because it’ll keep your notifications where you can look at them and dismiss them when you’re done. It’s great, but there’s one major thing missing: a sleep mode.

I’ve got really bad insomnia, I have trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep, the whole nine yards. So when a feature that is, by far, the least intuitive iOS feature I’ve ever used wakes me up at lest once a week with notifications I don’t remember activating, well, we’ve got a problem. I won’t ever remember to turn the notification center on if I turn it off at night, my reaction to the vibration setting is actually worse than it is to noise, and there’s no way to say “please don’t make any noise between 11pm and 7am.”

As much as I hate to do it, I have to turn off all non-essential noises and badges, including Twitter, which is nearly essential, because taking away my sleep is the fastest way to drive me crazy. I hate it, and as Veronica Belmont says “if you have to turn off all the good features (location, notifications) for it to work, they’re doing it wrong.”

So true. I’ll be over here, writing through a fog of sleep deprivation and waiting for a sleep mode.


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Filed under me me me, Web, Writing

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.


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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Filed under First Time in the Files, Rules, Television, Twitter, Web, Writing

A thought, a plan, a canal, more posts

One part of that title is a lie.

I watched this 20/20 special yesterday about YouTube and the people who rise to fame and fortune because of it, I then talked with my Dad about it at lunch and what I was saying about providing consistent, regular content for your audience being the key to growing said audience struck a chord with me.  The thing is, that statement is not at all true about this blog at all. I never post and that’s because I’m lazy, particular about how my content looks, I agonize over every word and in the end it’s easier to post to Tumblr or Twitter. In writing circles we would say I struggle to silence my inner editor. That. Ends. Today.

My plan is to limit myself to thirty minutes for writing blog posts for one year.

If I have an idea that would make a good post I’ll do some limited prep (if there are pictures to download or vitally important links to gather) and then have half an hour to write and five minutes to edit it before I hit post. Period.

Does this mean the quality of my posts will suffer? Probably, unless it cuts down on my tendency to ramble. I’ll have less time to research, to find links or pictures to support my ideas and I ask your patience with that. Find evidence to prove/disprove me and put it in the comments, I’ll be doing the same.

Does this mean I can post more frequently? Absolutely. That’s the point of the exercise. I need to tell my inner editor to shush up about Appa (Avatar: The Last Airbender reference, I am incapable of saying shut up anymore, it always turns into that phrase) and just write. If it means I post three rambling posts that contradict each other, than that’s okay because I’m (hopefully) taking you though my thought process.

I’ve got over half of my thirty minutes left, but I’ve said what I had to say. With the exception of one post going up tomorrow (it’s already written and scheduled) I won’t take more than 35 minutes to do a post on this blog for the next year.

Please bear with me and understand that I’m trying to grow as a writer, not fill your feed readers with useless junk.

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Filed under Ponderings, Rules, Web, Writing

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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Filed under Twitter, Web, Writing

Twist of Something or Other

I find it strange how things in my life interconnect.  I pick up a book randomly in a school library, which leads to an obsession, which leads me to learn to knit so I can make a costume replica from the movie of that book I picked up, which leads to another obsession, which leads to me discovering podcasts, which leads to Lime & Violet, which leads to me pitching a column for the brand new Daily Chum, which probably puts me over the top for my Marvel internship.

Now I’m sitting here, older, wiser (though not wise enough to replace the study skills I lost in the 8 months since I last was in school) and these two halves of my life continue to interact in strange ways. Take today for instance: I’m all jazzed because the article I wrote about Kniittiing (A knitting video game for the Wii, seriously) got picked up by CRAFT and Knitty.  Which I was pretty sure it would, because all the Chum girls were chatting about it (that’s often how you know a story will be big, GO CHUM TEAM!), which is why I’m using the last skills I’d ever think to transfer from Marvel to L&V to interview the design team for Kniittiing (I interviewed a couple of video game people while I was at Marvel).

I am of course accepting questions, you can ask them here in the comments, or you can email me, or you can ask me on Twitter, or on Plurk.  Ask away people!

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Filed under Comics, knitting, me me me, Ponderings, Web, Writing