sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (pinko pie)
The CanLit Generator is the best thing I've seen today. I know some of you will find it amusing.

For those of you who aren't from Canada, trust me, it's accurate. Especially the despair and incest.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (doomsday)
Just came back from a really interesting lecture at the Reference Library called "Bill C-51 and Dystopian Literature" by Allan Weiss, whose classes I now regret not having taken at York.

I found nothing to dispute in the content of the lecture, which traced the pattern of the classic dystopian novel and applied it to the recent thievery of our civil liberties in this country. In particular, he talked about the essential problem of happiness (in the Epicurian/Utilitarian tradition) versus freedom, and the willingness of citizens—and ultimately, the morally cowardly protagonists—in dystopian fiction to surrender the latter to avoid having the possibility of the former challenged.

This said, my brain went on a weird tangent that I couldn't quite put into words during the Q&A*. Early on, Weiss drew a distinction between classic dystopian fiction, which is about a totalitarian state (e.g., We, Brave New World, and of course 1984), and modern dystopian fiction, which is about the absence of a state or a state supplanted by corporate interests (e.g., cyberpunk, Mad Max). He talked about Bill C-51 in the context of classic dystopian literature, which, yes, makes more sense, but I kept thinking about the parallels with modern dystopian fiction, which are much less obvious.

It occurs to me that the disintegrations of our freedoms in the modern Western world are less a problem of totalitarian governments than a crumbling of the state itself. After all, the Tories were elected out of anti-government sentiment; fear of a state, not desire for a strong one. The oppressive provisions of Bill C-51 arguably support corporate interests more than those of a traditional state—data mining may be used to toss a few people in black sites, but it is far more broadly useful to sell to private companies to market to and/or sue private individuals. Even the state's coercion can be outsourced to private prison contractors. The enemies of the state as defined are as likely to be those who interfere with economic interests—trade unionists, environmentalists, First Nations activists, and the like—as they are to be ISIS fanatics with IEDs.

Or put another way: Are the traditions even actually separate?

One young woman in the audience raised the issue of Facebook, and how much of their privacy her generation has willfully given away, and this resonates with me a great deal. As we move towards unified online identities under real names, abandoning the pseudonymous anarchy of the internet's early days, as we move from programs that required expertise to use to apps that anyone can use but few can alter, as my students read classic dystopias and don't see what the big deal is, after all these people all have jobs and aren't starving and besides, they have nothing to hide, it seems doubtful to me that privacy rights will be anything anyone bothers to fight for anymore. It reminds me of what a prof said in one of the classes I did take at York: There are coercive and consensual ways of controlling and oppressing a populace. The coercive government is the one that's easier to overthrow.

It astounds me that, just because Canadians don't understand statistical risk and don't understand legalese, we can meekly put our heads down and accept, even embrace, such a brutal attack on basic freedoms. Only we've done it before, we do it all the time, and so why would I expect any different? Ask someone if they're willing to accept a decrease in their freedom, and they will say no; ask them if they'll vote for Harper or Trudeau and they won't see the inherent irony at all.

One woman in the audience actually said, "I'm an ordinary citizen, the government already knows everything about me, what do I have to fear from this?" The mostly educated audience took delight in Weiss's takedown of her ("so was Maher Arar") but I think her attitude is more common than mine or most of the people who go to Tuesday night lectures at the Reference Library.

Sometimes I fear that I won't be able to finish any of the dystopian novels that I start (I have started many) because politics descends into entropy faster than I can predict it. But I don't think there's a bottom to this well.


* I almost never ask questions at Q&As for that reason; the second there is the threat of a mic near my face, my brain turns to mush.
sabotabby: (books!)
Got a good kick out of this opinion piece, which argues that the problem with YA lit these days is that the boys are just too perfect. There is much handwringing about where this leaves poor actual adolescent boys with their bad teeth and acne and how they will have poor self-esteem because they can never measure up to dreamy Edward.

Seriously.

Best quote:
I can't help but wonder how I would take it if things were reversed - if male protagonists were always shown to fall for beautiful, fun, witty, confident, wealthy, kind girl-gamers, and men began expecting the same in real life. Surely, we'd crush their unrealistic expectations immediately.


You mean like every single piece of media out there?

This counterpoint is closer to reality (actually, there are a lot of less-than-physically perfect boys in YA literature) but fails to really skewer what is wrong with the first article.

First of all, the original article is talking about a problem that literally does not exist. I know a lot of teenage boys. I imagine that I know many more teenage boys (and girls) than Woodrow-Hill does, though maybe her regular job is as a high school teacher too. Not one of them has ever expressed self-esteem issues around a failure to measure up to fictional characters who serve as fantasy objects for teenage girls. Muscle-bound athletes, maybe. Sparkly vampires? Of all the boys I've taught, a grand total of two have ever copped to reading Twilight (I poll them every year; it's curriculum-related) and barely any will cop to reading anything, let alone YA books that are aimed at a primarily female audience.

Second, I know a lot of teenage girls too. You may be surprised to know this but they are, by and large, not stupid. Especially the ones who read. They can differentiate between fantasy and reality. Also, if they hold dudes to a slightly higher standard as the result of fiction (which is nothing new; a childhood infatuation with the Fourth Doctor left me with impossible standards. Also strange standards) and don't just get with the first mouth breather who snaps their bra strap because they think no one will ever love them—um, that's a good thing, right? We don't want teenage girls to date just anyone because they're afraid of being alone.

Other problems:

1) Let's talk about how fiction aimed at women is disproportionately demonized in the public discourse for its fetishization of male characters. The reverse is not true. Countless books, movies, and telly aimed at a male audience objectify women and place them on a pedestal, and few are mocked for it the way, say, Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey are mocked for it. Yes, those books are execrable for a variety of reasons. But compare to, say, the Transformers movies, which are also terrible. The latter are rightly criticized but don't attract the sort of tittering that the former two do. Plenty of creepy middle-aged men watched those movies and drooled over scantily-clad Megan Fox, but we don't see concern trolling articles about them the way we did about TwiMoms or housewives who buy e-readers so that they can secretly read shitty BDSM porn.

I honestly don't see the appeal in 90% of fictional perfect-type dudes (I mean, I get fetishizing fictional characters in general, but the ones described as flawless are typically boring to read about and/or watch), but let the ladies have our wank fantasies, okay?

2) I can name far more fictional examples of pudgy, old, and/or balding dudes getting with gorgeous ladies than I can name examples of pudgy, old, or less-than-perfectly symmetrical ladies getting with smoking hot dudes. It may be that I don't read romance fiction or much YA, and largely read fiction that's aimed at a male audience, but I still think I'm right. Extend that to TV and movies and you barely see women who aren't conventionally attractive at all.

3) If we are going to talk about how dudes with acne are underrepresented in YA literature, can we maybe talk about the underrepresentation of everyone who isn't a straight, white, middle-class, cisgendered person in YA literature? Because that is a much bigger problem.

4) Even when female characters are "flawed," it's usually not in a way that is recognizable to actual women. Bella isn't plain and overweight; she's too thin (but not athletic), too pale, and adorably clumsy. There aren't many YA female protagonists with love handles and acne.

5) God, not everything is about boys and their self-esteem. Boys have enough self-esteem. Too much, sometimes.

6) Edward is really not that dreamy. Most teenage girls I know are Team Jacob. (Or were; they're on to something new now.)
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (go fuck yourself)
Part of my job is to correct children who use terms like, "that's so gay," when they really mean, "I dislike this particular thing." You won't often hear me using that particular combination of words.

But really: This is so gay. And I don't mean that I dislike this particular thing, although I dislike this particular thing. I mean it is actually more homosexual than George Takei dancing to Donna Summer in a feather boa and tiara, except that that would be awesome, and the horror that awaits you should you click that link up there is not in any way awesome.

You see, Orson Scott Card has decided that what Hamlet is lacking is a) moral certainty, and b) rampant homophobia. So he's rewritten it. The title itself, Hamlet's Father, is problematic in itself as Hamlet's father was also Hamlet, but that's nothing compared to the, uh, liberties Card has apparently taken with the source material.

From the review:

Here's the punch line: Old King Hamlet was an inadequate king because he was gay, an evil person because he was gay, and, ultimately, a demonic and ghostly father of lies who convinces young Hamlet to exact imaginary revenge on innocent people. The old king was actually murdered by Horatio, in revenge for molesting him as a young boy—along with Laertes, and Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern, thereby turning all of them gay. We learn that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are now "as fusty and peculiar as an old married couple. I pity the woman who tries to wed her way into that house."


The thing is that, while I'm sure that the devoutly Mormon Card intended his masterpiece as some sort of cautionary tale about the evils of homosexuality (for those who lost track of him after Ender's Game, that's seriously the only sort of story he writes now), it comes off as, well. Either he's a fangirl with slash goggles welded to his face, or he doth protest too much. And I really think it's the latter. I'm pretty sure that there are gay porn stars who think less about buttsex than Orson Scott Card does, and it's their job to do it.

Apparently this is a real thing in the world, and neither an epic troll by Rain Taxi Review nor by Subterranean Press. Which means someone—a famous author, no less!—thought that it would be good to write this kind of drivel (and probably typed it with one hand), and then a publisher—which has put out some great books over the years—read it and decided that it would make money if published. Along the way one or more editors may have had to read it, and no one, no one, cried out, "wait maybe it's not the best ever idea to write a version of Hamlet where the old King is a serial rapist with a magic cock that turns everyone gay and where Hamlet is completely convinced that there's an afterlife." (I leave it to your interpretation, Gentle Reader, as to whether [livejournal.com profile] sabotabby is more disturbed by the homophobia or by a depiction of Hamlet where the prince is entirely convinced as to the existence of God.)

I am confused as to how one person, let alone multiple, none of whom are 4chan, decided that this book was a good idea.

For some reason, Subterranean Press has decided on a limited run of 1000, so get it while it's ho—no, wait, that's the opposite of hot.

Hat-tip: [livejournal.com profile] zingerella, who finds the most WTF things on the internet.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (porn!dalek)
Stately, plump Buck Mulligan's manhood is too hot for Apple to handle.

Now, the idea of a Ulysses comic makes about as much sense as a Watchmen movie, for exactly the same reason, but that's just silly. How tiny does Steve Jobs' peen have to be for him to feel threatened by Mulligan's? Just sayin'.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (the doctor dances)
The latest episode of Doctor Who was the first portrayal of mental illness on telly in I-don't-know-how-long that didn't make me want to punch my fist through the computer screen.

Also, I may have cried a bit, though I am in a weepy mood lately regardless of what I'm doing. Still, it was quite good.


Ohdeargod. The latest "Hark, a vagrant." The one about Canadian literature is so true that I wish I could travel back in time, show it to my long-suffering teenage self with her face stuck in compulsory Margaret Laurence, and say, "It's okay dear. One day, this will all be the punchline of a very funny joke."
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (day of the dead)
I think everyone at the 06/06/06 reading was a bit disappointed about that. I, however, had a very good evening.

[livejournal.com profile] nihilistic_kid and [livejournal.com profile] lokilokust: Brian Keene says hi back. He is fantastically nice and gave me a book because I knew you guys.

I got to meet [livejournal.com profile] nom_de_grr, [livejournal.com profile] king_felix, and some other people, but only briefly, as the back of the Cameron did not even have standing room.

I'm now a card-holding member of the Royal Sarcophagus Society. It seems like a good cult to be in, as they like blowing bubbles, zombies, and making fun of Bush. The readings last night ranged from proper short stories to OMGoff poetry to a very adorable sewer-of-demented-stuffed-animals talking about how Doom was better than Lord of the Rings. Following the readings was a panel on apocalyptic theories, wherein I learned that the Number of the Beast is actually 665. The panellists also debated whether the apocalypse would come in the form of global warming or sentient giant squids from the Antarctic, or both.

Nalo Hopkinson also posited that we have always been living in an apocalyptic culture, and the problem is that we're getting better at adapting to it.

Exchange of the evening:
Someone: "Why always zombies?"
Brian Keene: "Zombies sell."
Nalo Hopkinson: "Also, zombies ROCK."
Toronto Terrorist Update.

Apparently, the plan was: STORM Parliament Hill; SEIZE the politicians; BEHEAD the Prime Minister.

Um.

Remind me which side I'm supposed to be rooting for again?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
I think everyone at the 06/06/06 reading was a bit disappointed about that. I, however, had a very good evening.

[livejournal.com profile] nihilistic_kid and [livejournal.com profile] lokilokust: Brian Keene says hi back. He is fantastically nice and gave me a book because I knew you guys.

I got to meet [livejournal.com profile] nom_de_grr, [livejournal.com profile] king_felix, and some other people, but only briefly, as the back of the Cameron did not even have standing room.

I'm now a card-holding member of the Royal Sarcophagus Society. It seems like a good cult to be in, as they like blowing bubbles, zombies, and making fun of Bush. The readings last night ranged from proper short stories to OMGoff poetry to a very adorable sewer-of-demented-stuffed-animals talking about how Doom was better than Lord of the Rings. Following the readings was a panel on apocalyptic theories, wherein I learned that the Number of the Beast is actually 665. The panellists also debated whether the apocalypse would come in the form of global warming or sentient giant squids from the Antarctic, or both.

Nalo Hopkinson also posited that we have always been living in an apocalyptic culture, and the problem is that we're getting better at adapting to it.

Exchange of the evening:
Someone: "Why always zombies?"
Brian Keene: "Zombies sell."
Nalo Hopkinson: "Also, zombies ROCK."
Toronto Terrorist Update.

Apparently, the plan was: STORM Parliament Hill; SEIZE the politicians; BEHEAD the Prime Minister.

Um.

Remind me which side I'm supposed to be rooting for again?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (lenin to stalin)
*waves*

I'm back. I'm still backlogged with life stuff and jetlagged, so I haven't been able to do any Livejournal, but I'm determined to start posting photos and journal entries. I've also started a Flickr account, Sabotabby in Russia, where I'll eventually upload all the photos I took.

Day 1 )

Day 2 )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
*waves*

I'm back. I'm still backlogged with life stuff and jetlagged, so I haven't been able to do any Livejournal, but I'm determined to start posting photos and journal entries. I've also started a Flickr account, Sabotabby in Russia, where I'll eventually upload all the photos I took.

Day 1 )

Day 2 )

tl;dr

Oct. 25th, 2005 01:15 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (type something dirty)
[livejournal.com profile] nuncstans was the most recent person to post that article about Amazon.com reviews of literary classics. While it was funny and I kinda agree with the one about Kerouac, I can't believe they left out Joyce.

So I looked up Ulysses and marvelled:

Unless Oprah puts it on her book list, I won't be picking this one up again, that's for sure. )

Bonus: Some reviews of Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun
darkness, imprisoning me... )

I could go on, I'm sure, but now it's your turn. What are the best (and by that, I mean the brain-searing worst) Amazon.com reviews you can possibly find?

EDIT: This has to be one of my favourites (I'm sure you can guess the book):

"There've been times when the sun was in my eyes, and yeah, that really irritated me. Sure I didn't kill anyone but... oh shoot, I'm scared now and I dont know why."

tl;dr

Oct. 25th, 2005 01:15 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] nuncstans was the most recent person to post that article about Amazon.com reviews of literary classics. While it was funny and I kinda agree with the one about Kerouac, I can't believe they left out Joyce.

So I looked up Ulysses and marvelled:

Unless Oprah puts it on her book list, I won't be picking this one up again, that's for sure. )

Bonus: Some reviews of Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun
darkness, imprisoning me... )

I could go on, I'm sure, but now it's your turn. What are the best (and by that, I mean the brain-searing worst) Amazon.com reviews you can possibly find?

EDIT: This has to be one of my favourites (I'm sure you can guess the book):

"There've been times when the sun was in my eyes, and yeah, that really irritated me. Sure I didn't kill anyone but... oh shoot, I'm scared now and I dont know why."

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sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
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