Archive for the ‘Mixed Lollies’ Category

As years go, 2012 has been something of a mixed bag. On the one hand, I’ve parted ways with my publisher, thereby indefinitely delaying creation of the final book of the Rare, while my only publication has been a single poem in the summer edition of Goblin Fruit. On the other hand, though, I’ve nearly finished one new novel, made a promising start on two others, and produced full outlines for five more;  this blog has picked up enormously, too – I even started writing for the Huffington Post – and I have a forthcoming short story in a digital anthology, more news of which as it comes. Reading-wise, I sadly fell short of my stated goal of 200 novels; still, 115 isn’t a bad effort, and as this was the year I finally obtained a Kindle, a solid 30 of those were ebooks. Looking back on my resolutions for 2012, however, it’s disappointing to find that I’ve achieved exactly one of them, and then only technically: having planned to read at least one non-fiction book a month, I managed a grand total of eighteen such works spread out across the entire year, which is better than nothing, but nonetheless something of a shortfall. Neither did I finish writing a novel by the end of February – or even the end of December, for that matter – and I certainly didn’t get fit. What I did do, however, was move cities, change jobs and fall pregnant, which perhaps goes some way towards explaining my failures elsewhere. All in all, then, 2012 has wound up being a very different year to the one I’d envisaged having, but ultimately, it’s been wonderful.

As I type this, I’m exactly 35 weeks pregnant, which means that I look like a planet and feel like a walrus. Whatever else it brings, therefore, 2013 will be inescapably known as the year I become a parent, the prospect of which is both thrilling and frightening all at once – and is, as such, the reason why I won’t be making any resolutions for 2013. My life is about to utterly change, and as I know just enough to know that I can’t possibly know how big that change will be, it doesn’t seem fair or sensible to set myself any specific goals beyond the obvious hope to that I’ll learn my way, find time to relax, get some writing done and not fuck it up too badly. Oh, and that I’ll be sufficiently un-pregnant by the time my birthday rolls around to enjoy a soothing glass of champagne.

This being so, and in light of the fact that blogging represents my greatest non-biological triumph of 2012, I’ve opted instead for a rundown of the ten most popular pieces I’ve written this year. Thus:

1. Rape Culture In Gaming, 11 June 2012: A detailed explanation of what rape culture is, why it exists and how it’s perpetuated in the specific context of gaming and online culture. This was, by an order of magnitude, my most widely viewed piece of 2012, racking up almost double the number of page views of the next most popular entry.

2. Bullying & Goodreads, 10 July 2012: A rundown of the issues surrounding the creation of the STGRB website, with emphasis on reviewer etiquette, online bullying and criticism. Though the initial kerfuffle has died down somewhat, the subsequent conversation is still ongoing, and likely will be for some time.

3. Lamenting The Friend Zone, Or: The “Nice Guy” Approach To Perpetrating Sexist Bullshit, 9 April 2012: An angry deconstruction of the sexism and gendered cultural pressures that underlie the stereotypical concept of the friend zone as deployed by a certain subset of self-professed ‘nice guys’. Despite the overwhelming success of my rape culture piece, this entry technically beats it hollow thanks to widespread quoting and circulation on tumblr.

4. PSA: Your Default Narrative Settings Are Not Apolitical, 8 December 2012: A long and reference-heavy debunking of the commonly held assumption that history, and particularly Western history, is exclusively straight-white-male dominated. Given that it’s only been live for three weeks, I’m a little amazed that this piece managed to come in fourth.

5. Penny Arcade vs Rape Culture, 2 June 2012: A precursor to the rape culture in gaming post, this was a specific assessment of webcomic Penny Arcade’s reaction to the extremely vile Hitman: Absolution trailer, and how it was symptomatic of bigger industry problems.

6. The Problem With Fanservice, 28 August 2012: A takedown of the ubiquitous, deeply problematic presence of fanservice in anime, and why it impacts on my enjoyment of the medium.

7. Racism, Revealing Eden and STGRB, 3 August 2012: An examination of the fallout surrounding the overt-yet-apparently-unintentional racism of self-published YA novel Revealing Eden, with reference to the STGRB site. It’s worth noting that the second book in the series, Adapting Eden, is due out in January 2013, so there’s a good chance the furor will start back up again with a vengeance.

8. Tony Harris Is A Sexist Ass, 15 November 2012: A response to the sexist ranting of comics writer Tony Harris about fake nerd girls, with emphasis on intentionality vs interpretation and cognitive dissonance as relevant to subconscious bias.

9. The Creepiness Question, 27 August 2012: A personal account of an unsettling childhood encounter contextualised by a discussion of male creepiness, gender roles, victim blaming and hypocritical double standards for female behaviour.

10. Why YA Sex Scenes Matter, 27 June 2012: A look at why the prevalence of positive sex and romance in novels aimed at teenage girls is not only culturally significant, but revolutionary. I’m rather pleased this piece squeaked into the top ten; for most of the year, it was languishing in obscurity, but thanks to a recent revitalization on tumblr, it’s picked up dramatically.

And finally, by way of a bonus: my recent guest post for The Book Smugglers on the bad boy trope, and its evolution into something deeply problematic.  Huzzah!

So, that’s my 2012 in a nutshell. Now bring on 2013!

 

I didn’t make it to Worldcon this year (as you can tell by the intolerable air of jealousy I’m suddenly generating) but thanks to John Scalzi, I’ve just had my attention directed towards this clip of Chris Garcia winning the Hugo Award for Best Fanzine. And as I watched it, all I could think was, this is why I love SFF; why genre pwns my soul. Because we give awards, not just to the people who make awesome things, but to the people who love awesome so much that they put time and effort and passion into intensifying, discussing and spreading the awesome. Because fandom is what continues to ensure that SFF isn’t just a label, but a community. And because a grown man can get up onto the stage on our biggest awards night in floods of tears, embrace everyone, forget not to swear, sit down crosslegged to hug his award and have a friend speak for him – and receive nothing but applause.

Because that is how we roll.

So, as per the ancient prophecies, by which I mean yesterday’s post, The Key to Starveldt now constitutes some form of finished product. I have completed my changes, read over the whole thing, and am feeling confident enough to pass it over to the eagle eyes of my publisher and editor. I do not have a release date, but you may now rest assured, dear readers, that Things Are In Motion. Huzzah!

That would be the good news. The bad is more of a rantish thing and completely unrelated to the above, so unless you share my rage at the current team of morons responsible for marketing Vegemite, feel free to leave class early.

Now, look. I have about as much native brand loyalty as the next person, which is a fancy way of saying that I am disinclined to making informed decisions about irrelevant shit. By and large, I do not care about ad campaigns, but seeing as how I am both a lazy mammal and prone to the influence of subliminal messages, there are doubtless times when my purchasing one brand of toilet paper or pasta sauce or whatever has less to do with the price and everything to do with the fact that I’ve heard of it before. If the product doesn’t entirely suck, I’m likely to buy it again – but then, the same is equally true of something I’ve tried and enjoyed, but never seen advertised. At base, humans are conservative creatures. We might like a wide variety of products from which to choose, but in reality, that only allows us to feel superior about our choices when money isn’t a factor in making them, and relieved that there’s a lower-cost option when it is. (For an interesting assessment of this phenomenon, I recommend you look here.)

For me, the main reason I try new brands at the supermarket has to do with money. If I see something cheap that appears to fulfill the same function as the more expensive item I originally reached for, chances are I’ll give it a shot. But, like it or not, there are a few instances in which I find myself buying the costlier product simply because of some wrongheaded, ingrained notion of its betterness. This is called brand loyalty, and for me – and, I suspect, most people – it manifests in the conscious mind as the end result of a skewed cost/benefit analysis. The logic goes like this: I know that the more expensive product is good, or at least, not so bad that I’ve stopped buying it, which has lead to an unresearched belief that what makes it good cannot possibly be duplicated at a lower price without a significant loss of quality. However, I am unwilling to test this theory on the offchance that it turns out to be right, because in the event that it is right, I will have wasted good money proving something I already knew. If I am wrong, then ignorance is bliss, and I am still getting something useable for my dosh. If the product is one I’ve been exposed to for a long enough period of time – like, for instance, the Australian institution that is Vegemite – then my brand loyalty is all the stronger. Stupidly so, because familiarity does not equal quality, but stronger nonetheless.

Not so long ago, there was webwide furor over Kraft’s blunder-slash-publicity-stunt with the iSnack 2.0, which occurence had me grining my teeth with frustration. It’s not that I spend large amounts of time lounging around and thinking about how marvellous Vegemite is, but the whole thing was so ludicrous that it was hard not to feel as though the global human intelligence had somehow been insulted, regardless of whether the move resulted from idiocy or base cunning. And then I found myself in the UK, where Marmite is plentiful and not at all frowned on as some kind of  usurper, and realised that actually, not only was it cheaper, it was also just as good. I mean, salty yeast product? How the fuck can Kraft have a monopoly on that? It’s not like there’s a secret Goddam recipe. The stuff is basically edible tar.

So when we came home to Oz, I went to the supermarket. I ignored the Vegemite and bought a jar of its cheaper, equally-as-delicious cousin. Exchanging one brand loyalty for another might not seem like the most momentous event in the world, but the thing is, I didn’t realise that was what had happened until just now, when I saw a rerun of this 2009 article, wherein the phrase “the new Vegemite experience” was used without irony to describe the original iSnack fiasco. And I thought, what the fuck, Marketing Guys? Foodstuffs are an experience now? Are they fucking really?

As a direct result of which, I have decided never to buy Vegemite again. In fact, I’m tempted to forego Kraft products completely! Because while my passive consumer hindbrain is mostly content to putter along on its own, there comes a point at which the idiocy of any one marketing department causes me to lose all faith in humanity. I have now reached that point, and damned if my hard-earned dollars aren’t better directed towards a product whose corporate engineers have not so blatantly assumed me to be a moron.

So, now I have a new consumer choice to feel smug about. I believe there’s phrase occasionally used to describe this phenomenon – something about cycles and visciousness, I wasn’t really paying attention – but I’m pretty sure it started life as part of an anti-dryer campaign organised by the Hills Hoist Liberation Army. Bastards.

Attention anyone who, like me, compulsively watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer but has only ever glimpsed How I Met Your Mother through random channel-surfing, last-two-minutes-catching or individual episode spruiks. Despite the fact that Alyson Hannigan appears on both shows, I would like to clarify the following:

Adam Busch (Warren on Buffy) has never appeared on How I Met Your Mother. He does, however, bear a striking resemblence to Josh Radnor, who does. So, to reiterate:

this man:

Not Josh Radnor

Not Josh Radnor

is not this man:
Not Adam Busch

Not Adam Busch

That is all.

Viral Monday

Posted: January 18, 2009 in Mixed Lollies
Tags: , , , , , ,

According to the lovely ladies at ButtercupPunch, there’s a viral Facebook music thingie going around, wherein participants shuffle their iPod and then list the first lines of the first 25 tracks, so that others can try and guess the songs. As I’m totally behind with this, and as being behind damages my intergeek cred, I therefore give in. So:

1. We’ve got stars directing our fate, and we’re praying it’s not too late

2. Crosslegged on the front lawn, she’s had a bad pill

3. You’re the Devil in me I brought in from the cold

4. Time on your side that will never end, the most beautiful thing you can ever spend

5. If you’re feeling low and lost today, you’re probably doing too much again

6. Purple haze all in my brain, lately things just don’t seem the same

7. Once upon a time I was of a mind to lay your burden down

8. A bold hippopotamus was standing one day on the banks of the cool Shalimar

9. He crys out her eyes, a fire unfurnaced

10. Aishiteta to nageku ni wa, amari ni mo toki wa sugi te shimatta

11. Wire’s coming back again, Elastica, got sued by them

12. Give me a word, give me a sign

13. Sometimes they’ll want to cut you down

14. Yo, this is a lesson in friendship, the depths of a kinship

15. Looking for a single thread of melody to help me get by

16. I think I’ll close my eyes and wait as the world goes by

17. I want a God who stays dead, not plays dead

18. I woke twice last night, walked to the window

19. All simple monkeys with alien babies, amphetamines for boys, crucifixes for ladies

20. I was lying on the grass on Sunday morning of last week, indulging in my self-defeat

21. You keep saying you’ve got something for me

22. There comes a time when you swim or sink, so I jumped in the drink

23. I hate to talk like this, I hate to act as if there’s something wrong

24. Well it’s not hard to see, anyone who looks at me knows I am just a rolling stone

25. It’s because I love you, not because we’re far apart

Knock yourselves out :)

1. Why does Blogger’s word verification function, despite being a self-proclaimed word verification fuction, not use actual words? Because last time I looked in a dictionary (which, if anyone’s interested, was earlier today, when my husband challenged my use of the word trinary, as in a trinary star system, saying it should be ternary, when in fact they’re synonyms, and anyway trinary sounds better), neither mandesh nor gyzate were present, despite their sounding like reasonable descriptions of the kind of wound left by aggressive dentures and a flegeling newspaper, respectively. Tres Douglas Adams. Now there’s a man who would’ve appreciated the word trinary, Zarquon bless him!

2. What, exactly, does ‘optioning’ mean, as per the sentence: Peter Jackson has optioned Naomi Novik”s Temeraire books? Because, three years old though this news may be, it was mentioned again in this week’s A2 section of the Age, in a demi-review of the latest volume, Victory of Eagles. (Which I haven’t read yet. So anyone who has: shut up.) Point being, it sounds exactly like the sort of thing Hollywood types say when expressing their opinion outside the holy sanction of a studio greenlight. Like rogue priests preaching radical doctrine, any director, producer or studio executive who enjoys a work of adaptable fiction is ultimately subject to a higher authority, their statements reported through ever-murkening channels until men in red capes with an excess of expensive jewelery summon them to the Holy See (Las Angeles) and there demand a reckoning. Bastards.

3. Jesus toast? Good gravy, world, I thought we were past this. The bread in question looks more like a lopsided scrotum than the son of God, and even when you factory in its edibility, that’s still not saying much. The fact that someone was willing to trade for, and I quote, “a sack of onions that looks like Madonna” (oh, New Idea, where is thy sting?) should be a dead giveaway. Personally, I’d  take the twenty bucks, have done with it and run cackling into the night. But that’s just me.

4. The new Mother energy drink ads. Am I the only one, or is there something bizarrely post-modern about the idea of an energy drink manufacturer making a product which, only belatedly and thanks to complaints, did they realise tasted like complete arse, prompting them to make  a new version, which they then marketed with a series of quasi-violent ads, which specifically mentioned the previous complaints, which they then subsequently retracted and redrew with stick figures on the basis of yet more complaints? And, yes, that was a hideously long sentence, but just think of it: an energy drink that apologises for sucking while trying to sell itself to a demographic which, according to the same marketeers who produced a bad product in the first place, respond best to violence and aggro? Send for a philosopher. (Or, you know, maybe someone at Mother could try the thing before selling it. Just an idea.)

Here endeth the lesson.

Errata

Posted: November 7, 2008 in Mixed Lollies
Tags: , , , , ,

Every so often, I make the mistake of thinking my life is a quiz show, a spy novel or some weird hybrid of the two, and start memorizing obscure and pointless facts about myself in case I’m ever asked to prove my identity at gunpoint. This probably says more about my psyche than is, in fact, comfortable, but nonetheless, I persist, forcibly recalling odd moments from primary school, ancient thoughts, uncomfortable memories and utterly useless trivia against inevitable necessity. Such as:

- The longest a song has ever been stuck in my head is six consecutive days. The year was 1999, and the song was Every Morning by Sugar Ray, who practically no-one has heard from since.

- My three pet mice were called Pippi, Minnie and Maxi.

- When my late Aunt Barbara dropped by our house when I was eight and nobody heard the bell, my mother and I were watching White Fang.

- I used to have an invisible friend called Bad Girl, who inexplicably spoke in an American accent and whose sole function was to orchestrate whatever bad things happened to my toys in the course of a game.

- At my primary school, we’d collect handfuls of placid, pretty-looking, green-and-yellow insects, which we called Banana Bugs, and spiky seed pods, which we called bommyknockers. Not for any special reason. They were just cool.

- For several years growing up, I was convinced that the horse in the poster by my bed moved once a night, and that if I saw this happen, I’d fall asleep within five minutes. (Yeah, I’ve always been crazy.)

- I stopped believing in Santa after I received a pair of rollerbades in my Santa stocking that I’d already found in the top of mum’s cupboard. After feeling momentarily disappointed, my reaction was to tell my best friend at the first available opportunity, thereby (unintentionally) ruining her Christmas.

- I’ve never broken a bone, but I’ve sprained my ankles about five times all told, and my shouders make a decidedly unhealthy crunching noise whenever I roll them.

- The first time I ever listened to the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series, I had to pause the CD after the phrase ‘they were stuck in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet, stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying “Beware of the Leopard”‘ because I was laughing too hard, and continued to do so for the next half-hour.

…and so on.