STAND UP COMEDY BUMP

What’s that? “More rape jokes”? Is that what I hear you cry out for?

This made me laugh a lot – you’re welcome!

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Covers = Important. Sexism = Bad.

Sorry I’ve been gone for so long. I need to get back into the swing of writing posts. However, I couldn’t not tell you about this. So enjoy!

The BBC has just put up possibly the most comprehensive and insightful article I think I’ve ever seen on their site – and that’s quite an achievement. It just happens to be about Feminism, Sexism and Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels. All of my favourite things!

Essentially, the article is about those ridiculously sexualised pictures on the covers of fantasy novels. (And Sci-Fi, although to my knowledge all modern Sci-Fi novels seem to have covers like this and this; landscapes and space-ships/vehicles with very few people, sexualised or otherwise, even present. A conversation for another day…)

And it mentions all the things that I would want to mention. Primarily, it talks about Jim Hines and Hawkeye. Now, though I find it very interesting that, in a post about feminism, the first person the writer strives to talk about is what some middle aged white bloke is doing, I suppose that is our purpose as allies. Sigh.

For the uninititated, Jim Hines is a fantasy writer with a lot of free time and good ideas; and the Hawkeye Initiative is a great idea by an artist with a lot of free time. And they both seem to have come up with the same idea at least semi-independently. Which is: Parody the Living Fuck out of Sexist covers.

Sexist covers like this.

And this.

And this.

The whole point is that if neither Jim Hines nor Hawkeye can look attractive or even comfortable imitating your cover, then there’s something wrong with it.

This is, of course, the perfect blend of “making laugh at an issue” and “making you aware of an issue” – the best way to get your point across. The point being that these covers are pointless and make us nerds look like complete assholes and sexually ignorant perverts. I’ve never bought a comic on the grounds of “PWITTY COVER WIV LADIEZ”*, and even I’d be embarassed about reading a book like that on the train.

Meanwhile, Tracy Hurley talks about why she thinks this happens, and I get to find out about her “Prismatic Art Collection”, a directory of artists who draw characters who are not just skinny white girls in bikinis and muscly white men with swords.

Since I am a lanky, weedy guy, I can’t really associate with muscley folks like Conan, and if my being catered to means that there are also more people drawing… you know, the entire rest of the gamut of skin tones, body shapes and levels of attractiveness that aren’t white, skinny and inhumanly attractive, then even better!

Rant over; you should go read the article, to congratulate and support the BBC for, like usual, taking the right stand on an issue, and making people aware of… well, the stuff in the article that you should be going to read.

***

Here are links to Jim Hines’ blog, where he regularly posts such pictures, and the tumblr of “The Hawkeye Initiative” are on the respective words back there.

And while you’re at it, check out Escher Girls, which is a site all about how these pictures are not just sexist, but bad art. Have fun!

(Thanks also to Pippa, aka Along This Line, who is awesome, and who linked me.)

* The closest I’ve perhaps come is “Empowered”, and I’d feel very embarassed reading that on the train.

Christmas Music – not a defence, but a promotion!

I’ve been pretty lax this year about writing for solstice. Or for Christmas. Or, frankly, for any other holiday around this time of year that includes cold weather, presents, alcohol and togetherness.

So, late as I am and late as I can, I’m going tell you about the music I’ve been listening to.

OK, lets start with this – I collect Christmas music. I know, I know; I should probably be talking to a support group about this particular eccentricity rather than you. But music is what I talk about on this site, and dammit, I’m going to.

I collect it, and not because it’s cheesy, or laughable, or glurgy – all of which are fair assessments. No, I collect it because some of it is excellent, and I want to celebrate this holiday with excellent music. If you saw any of my posts last year leading up to Christmas, you’ll see that there’s some odd stuff on there, and not all of it is traditionally Christmassy. But then again, what is? Pretty much anything can be festive with enough bells and trumpets. Just look at Prokofiev.

“The Bells; THE BELLS!!”

So, don’t get put off. And with that in mind, listen to these albums:

  • Jethro Tull, rather than it being a cop-out like I expected, made a fantastic Christmas album in 2003, called the obvious “Jethro Tull Christmas Album”. It is REALLY GOOD
  • This year I’ve discovered what this is. Apparently there ARE Christmas protest songs!
  • Courtesy of Greta, I’ve been listening to The Doubtful Palace’s collection of odd christmas songs. Oh yes, they are good – I’m just not sure what to do with them all. All – including a very clever cover of Bohemian Rhapsody, “Christmas Rhapsody” – can be downloaded for free here.

Honourable Mentions:

  • Kevin Bloody Wilson’s “Kev’s Kristmas” – Look, I have it on good authority that this is good stuff, and it’s comedy rock! From Australia! You know, Minchin-land! I haven’t heard this, but I’m waiting until tomorrow for that. ‘Til then.
  • I keep meaning to buy this, and maybe will in the next few hours, but this compilation by Tiny Lights starts with The Futureheads’ “Christmas Was Better In The 80’s”, a cracking track. If the rest is anywhere near as good, then my future purchase will be worth it!

Happy Solstice, all, I’ll see you in a bit. I have an actual Christmas round-up in the works soon, so I’ll be back then. Til then, here’s to you!

***

For those who weren’t there, here is last year’s “Twelve Days of Solstice” as chosen by me, and counting up to Christmas day:

“What say you to your accusers, Mr ‘The Pope’?”

Just putting this out here, with a brief comment.

No; but what do you expect from an infallible, pedophile-protecting dinosaur from the dark ages?

[Click the image or here for more information.]

Aaaaand a hat-tip to Ophelia Benson, of whom I’ve been reading a lot recently.

Pale Blue Video in a Cold Night Sky

Hat tip to Pharyngula; this is one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen. Carl Sagan, break-ups, human loneliness and a really really weird barrista. And a GREAT cameo.

I’d stay and chat about it, but I have a german friend to say farewell to.

Maybe I should start watching this show…

Scratch that; definitely. I got linked to this because Little Red Reviewer is away, and I love Patrick Rothfuss. It’s an interview with him by what looks like a really cool little online interview program called “Sword & Laser”. Presumably it focuses on “Sci-Fi & Fantasy”.*

You may have heard me mention a while back that I finished reading “The Wise Man’s Fear” by Rothfuss. I can’t really recommend enough that you read the first book, “The Name of The Wind”, and move on up.

Anyway, I have decided, thanks to this interview, that Patrick Rothfuss is my new writing idol. His answers are exactly the answers I want to give, if I were an eloquent, smart, writerly… person- thingy.

Watch it! The next episode is Jim Butcher! Even better!

Also, he just snuck in that he does NaNoWriMo. YES! AND that he found it difficult. DOUBLE YES!!

And he just described something as “Full of Win”. Just yes.

* I recently got informed that all true fans of Sci-Fi call it SF. I have no idea how to respond to that, other than by saying that when I write it, I will call it what I like.

Three bits of book news

Gonna launch straight into this one:

* Cold Days, The Dresden Files #14, is out today!

I love the Dresden Files so very much, and I tell you now, being in town today is going to seriously harm my chances of EVER being able to resist buying this book. It’s been 11 months since my last Harry Dresden fix, and I’m not sure what to do with myself!

I think I might prefer this alternative cover, though.

* Secondly, I finished “Leviathan Wakes” last night, after really enjoying it. OK, it was a bit odd in parts, but I’m looking forward to book two, which is out now, and book three is out soon too.

Now, after my post the other day, I simply have to pick a new book to read from my pile. AND FAST!

* And finally, I won NaNo. WOOP! I have officially written 50,000 words of a novel. True, I haven’t validated it yet, so the Office of Letters and Light doesn’t necessarily agree with me – but I refuse to do that until I’ve hit 56,000. (Or 60,000, depending on how you look at it.)

So, today seems to me like a victory for books, unless you’re from the future and my novel is the harbinger of doom to the art of novel writing.* Let’s hope not.

***

More Dresden art!

Crossovers with supernatural? Yes!

* If you are from the future, get off the internet, and stop procrastinating!

Writers Don’t Cry has it bang on the money (NaNo Update, sort of.)

Three weeks in, and Susan J Morris of the excellent Writer’s Don’t Cry – seriously, I’ve been going through all of her back catalogue, and she really knows what she’s talking about – has said the most important thing about keeping writing that I think I’ve ever heard.

Keep reading books while you write.

More importantly, she says “read these books.”

Now, I’m barely going to talk about her list of books, other than the fact that she’s put “The Name Of The Wind”  on there makes me want to read all the others. Instead I want to say that this is the advice that I was worried that no-one would ever give, because when I started NaNo I thought that the opposite would be true.

Twilight commands you to read.

For an anecdote, let me say this – about a week ago, I had a bout with writer’s block. OK, it was incredibly short lived, and was killed easily. But for the whole few weeks of NaNoWriMo before that, I had been neck deep in Patrick Rothfuss’ “The Wise Man’s Fear”. And suddenly it ended. In a fit of “no goddamned genre savvy at all”, I decided to take a few days before starting the next book on my list – James S. A. Corey’s “Leviathan Wakes”, my first bit of sci-fi in ages.

BIG. FUCKING. MISTAKE. For the next day or so, suddenly ideas were falling from between my fingers, and suddenly this whole writing lark seemed impossible.

With nothing to fill my time with, and writing hurting my brain, I was forced back into reading (not that I took much forcing). And the writing thing went away.

OK, it wasn’t a one hundred percent difference – I still had to work at it, like always – but there was a difference, and it was marked.

So if you’re writing, and if my experience is anything like transferrable, then don’t do what some people have been doing and stop reading. Attack your book pile with more fervour than ever.

***

I realised halfway through this article that it had become a pep talk for WriMos, and for any other writers out there. My experience is limited, but if it helps, it helps. And you should be reading anyway.

I’ve had so much ponies the last few days.

Side notes on idiots

Taking a break from writing for NaNo to write this. I’ve just been checking out Pharyngula (hat tip goes here) and THIS. IS. AMAZING!

I literally couldn’t get more than a minute in without collapsing inwards into a tiny puddle of happy scorn. To quote, here is the line that did it. At 47 seconds, Eric Hovind says this:

“IF YOU DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING, THEN YOU CAN’T KNOW ANYTHING TO BE ABSOLUTELY TRUE.”

Ignoring the fact he’s arguing with a 6th grader*, that is mental. Though a part of me wants to argue with it seriously – division of cognitive labour, talented idiots, “if God hasn’t told you, Eric, the whole truth about all of the universe then you, Eric, must be full of shit”, whatever – I’m going to ignore that little bit of me, and just say this:

You, Eric, are an idiot.

***

Now back to the actual writing, which is going pretty well. Only a week to go!

* I don’t know how old that is, but it can’t be that old, judging by his voice.

NaNoUpdate!

Well, I’m free to write a post today, as I am already over today’s target. Yay!

That in itself should tell you exactly how well I feel I’m doing, but just to make it clear; I’ve managed to make targets every day except for yesterday, which I made up the difference for today. Awesome.

I won’t bother boring you with anything about the book itself, but the writing process has been just amazing. The people on the same journey as me have been awesome and fun and motivating, and the system for NaNoWriMo is, I think, damn near perfect. The right level of terror and encouragement.

In short, if any of you have a novel you want to write, but can’t motivate yourself, think about doing NaNoWriMo next year. And throw yourself into the social side!

Anyway, enough soapboxing, I need to get back to writing, so I can be WAY AHEAD as soon as possible!

Instead, I’ll just treat you to one of the videos we watched today, and used as Pippa’s leaving theme!