Tuesday, September 30, 2014

TV is back and the DVR piles up

I tend to do a lot of my TV chatter on the Twitter but, for an overall recap, it's easier to do that in longer form so, as it stands so far...
-"Sleepy Hollow" returned and was the brand of nutbar adventure I expect. 
-"Red Band Society" is a show teen Tara would have had quotes from posted in her locker.  I'm sticking with it even if adult Tara can see them yanking at my heartstrings.  Plus, who can resist sassy nurse banter.  Not me folks.  Not me. 
-"Gotham" struck me as a little too comic booky in parts of the dialogue.  I realize it is a show about a comic book city, but, there are things that work in comics that sound dumb in TV.  However, I ultimately thought the layers of corruption they established in an hour was fascinating enough to keep going for a bit.  I also think in addition to the expected excellence of the McKenzie and Logue partnership of grizzled and new to town cop, Jada Pinkett Smith's work was amazing. 
-"Blackish" was charming as expected from Anthony Anderson and Tracy Ellis-Ross, if a little heavy handed with the voiceover.  Nice family comedy.
-"Selfie" I watched early, and, eh, I wanted to like it more than I did.  The commercials lead me to believe that ultimately they will both learn from each other so I'll give it a few more because I like the leads a lot. 
-"Nashville" I have fallen behind on and must catch up before my DVR starts taunting me. 
-"Brooklyn 99" was just as charming as it had been. 
-"How to Get Away WIth Murder" which I was notionally open to anyway turned out, in it's first episode at least, to share a lot of parallels with "Legally Blonde" and I seriously, totally, and completely love "Legally Blonde" so yay!  (It is a darker "Legally Blonde" given that, well, there's flash forwards to a body being dumped, so, looks like those kids will need to put this knowledge to use.) 

Upcoming or things I haven't gotten to yet:
-"Happyland" - Color me excited.
-"Gracepoint" - I watched some of "Broadchurch" so technically have no need to watch "Gracepoint" but, for some reason I am interested in how it works with American accents. 
-"Reign" is coming back and while it should offend the part of me that won't watch innacurate Scottish historical movies, given the glitter on the corsets, they are really making only the tiniest attempt at historical accuracy, and viewing it as "Gossip Girl" with corsets means I find it amusing. 
-"The Flash" - I hear good things about. 
-"Parenthood" - The last season of "Parenthood" is here, and in a packed timeslot, so I will have to catch up on Hulu. 
-"Madam Secretary" has a great cast and so I am hoping it develops into something I want to keep watching. 
-"NCIS: New Orleans" - Again it's the cast pulling me in. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Week of Book People

It has been quite a week of overlapping events and I will try to summarize somewhat briefly.  Monday, Ann Aguirre, Marie Rutkowski and Caragh O'Brien were all at the Bethesda Library as part of the Fierce Reads tour to talk about their books.  Ms. Aguirre provided instructions if it turned out that your copy of Mortal Danger was infested with demons (you should burn it, after calling a news crew). Rutkowski mentioned her inspiration was partly the economic theory around auctions.  And O'Brien talked about how reality shows provided some inspiration.
Tuesday Piper Kerman, or Keenan as my phone kept trying to say, was at UDC in their newly refurbished theater (so new that apparently crews worked late into the night Monday get the last seats installed).  She talked about the book (which I have read) and the TV show (which I have not yet watched) and also shared various statistics and some suggestions for criminal justice reform that might help the US slow the trend of imprisoning the most people in the world.  She, as in her book, is very aware that she is the one that made a decision that brought prison to her, but also very aware that there are huge differences in how prisons are set up (she was in two during her stay) and how sentences are assigned and how people in prison are treated. 
Friday, I took the day off of work to head up to day one of the Baltimore Book Fest. I started off in the Science Fiction Writer's Tent where the folks from #WeNeedDiverseBooks were chatting.  Ellen Oh, Justina Ireland, Caroline Tung Richmond, and Karen Sandler all talked about books that had been meaningful to them, things they had read that had them shaking their heads, and the joys and challenges of writing characters that don't currently get a lot of protagonist time in most books.  Ireland also mentioned that she felt there are far too many plucky redheads in YA, in proportion to the world population, causing one audience member to shake her head because she had a plucky redhead in her current manuscript. 
Then I hopped next door to the Maryland Romance Writers tent, where there was a panel of writing diverse characters.  Lea Nolan, Robin Covington, Denny S. Bryce, Damon Suede, and Laura Kaye.  They talked about covers, the importance of getting things right, especially if you were dealing with a marginalized group, and also reader perception and misperception. 
The next panel was on plotting, with Stephanie Draven, Lea Nolan, Damon Suede, and Kate Quinn.  They said heretical things like pantsers don't exist (we do too) but also suggested that some pantsers might have more innate plotting skills.  (Maybe.) 
Then there was a panel of authors who had hit the New York Times bestseller list, with Laura Kaye, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Tessa Bailey, Cora Carmack, Kami Garcia, and Jen Mclaughlin.  They has some interesting stories based on what they'd hit with (from first book to eleventh) and where they were when they heard.  After that I headed home.
I had Crafty Bastards and vet appointments on Saturday but returned on Sunday to Baltimore. 
It turns out when there's a football game on, parking is hard to come by, so but caught most of the Alpha heroes panel with Laura Kaye, Diane Alberts, Magda Alexander, Jean Murray, and Tessa Bailey.  They talked about the balancing in keeping an alpha on the right side of alphaness.  (No alphaholes.)
Then there was Writing Fast with Mindy Klasky, Diane Alberts/Jen Mclaughlin, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Megan Erickson, Megan Hart, and Laura Kaye.  There was a mix of word spewers vs. word crafters and I remain impressed by Mindy's detailed scheduling (she already knows what she'll be working on in February 2016) They also talked about how once you've turned something in fast, people expect that sort of speed from you and you may have to push back and demand breaks so you can recover. 
For Balancing Jobs, Writing, And Families, Robin Covington, Avery Flynn, Sara Humhpreys, and M. D. Waters talked about figuring out schedules and boundaries and one author has a side of her family that doesn't know she writes, but she mentioned they still help by volunteering to visit and help with the kids and such. 
I hopped over to the Literary Salon to see Andrew Auseon, Elizabeth Chandler, Hannah Moskowitz, Jeri Smith-Ready, and Elissa Weissman.  They talked about how writing for kids was natural for them, and some of the most amazing things happened in kid's literature. 
And then things wrapped up back in the Maryland Romance tent with Christi Barth, Laura Kaye, Mindy Klasky, and Megan Hart talking about writing at different lengths and how it doesn't seem proportional as far as plotting or writing time, and the challenges inherent in each. 
And that was it.  Let me tell you, I went to bed early last night. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Three Interesting Things

1. There are some beautiful quotes from various banned books. 
2. With the MacArthur "genius" grants going out recently, here was a look at what one of them had been doing in studying justice and implicit racial bias
3. Given my interest in names, I was interested to discover Tennesse has some restrictions on your child's last name.  This tied in interestingly with my recent (for me) re-listen to the Freakanomics podcast about names.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Banned Books Week

It's Banned Books Week.  And once again, I want to say, I love books, I love reading, I think everyone should do more.  I respect any parent's right to monitor their child's reading habits. Where I become concerned is when parents (because most of this comes from parents) decide that material carefully selected by a librarian with knowledge of the community should not be available to anyone.  Certainly, material in elementary school libraries will have some differences from college or public libraries.  But your child may or may not be ready for something another child is.  And well, if your argument is that this book shouldn't exist at all, then I cannot agree.  I certainly don't like everything I read.  I sometimes want my money, time, or brain space back.  I sometimes vibrate with rage over something stupid or offensive I read in a book. But that doesn't mean that book might not speak to someone else very differently.  And hey, that's the way the world works.
I also find it fascinating that parents think reading books that are "bad" or "racist" or "stereotypical" or that depict sex or violence couldn't be excellent discussion points.  At some point, part of the process is recognizing that the world contains lots of things you either don't want your kid to ever do, or don't want them to do yet.  No one ever objects to kids reading about driving or voting before they hit they age we have deemed it appropriate for them to do so. I read Huck Finn very young and managed not to run away on a riverboat or use language that is not appropriate for use in today's conversations. 
I personally think the idiots in Wuthering Heights needed a good talking to, but other people love their yearning.  I'm not mad I had to read the book. 
This year I was thrilled to see several examples of kids making use of social and other media to object to books being pulled from their library or their curriculum.  I wish they didn't have to fight these fights at all, but at least they are learning how to fight for themselves.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Three Interesting Things

...are arriving a wee bit late.
1. There are changes afoot with at least two of epub sellers making books available only through an app or on a store specific device.  There's some more info about it here and how to tell which format the book is available in before you buy. B&N info here.
2. A fellow writer tipped me to Godchecker where I confess I discovered that there is a fascinating amount of info about various gods and goddesses housed there.  Warning: can lead to lost productivity.
3. And because I have been hanging with just the right sort of people, I happen to know one of the folks in this photo of Regency costumed Jane Austen enthusiasts who reclaimed the world record for, well, folks in Regency costume.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Pride, I Have it

I once went to a sermon where a radical action-oriented minister mentioned that she's had a congregant say to her that rallying, protesting, and writing to congress wasn't the only way to make the world a better place.  She agreed.  And in that vein I wanted to make something clear.  I worked for about ten years with amazing teenagers from my congregation and others in various capacities.  They were all amazing.  (Seriously.  The adults were often more problematic.)  And as I discover various things from college graduations, to medical school enrollments to jobs of various flavors, to decisions to out themselves as transgender or enroll in seminary or start a blog I continue to be proud.  But, I am proud of each and every one of them.  Even though I had only the teeniest to do with any life success they have put together for themselves.  Working with teenagers is often viewed as a fast track to insanity, but honestly, I remain utterly hopeful about the future of this world thanks to my work with them.  This world is so lucky to have these folks, they are going to change, enhance, and sometimes just exist and make it a better place.  All of them.  All. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

On This Day

Every year on this day, I read Meg Cabot's post about her 9/11 experience. I think about calling my sister, who was fine, getting sent home early from work because the building my office was in shut down for the day. People talk about how everyone was nicer, kinder, more helpful for a while. There were first responders at the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, and people who weren't officially first responders but showed up to help, that day and later. There was the flight that went down in Pennsylvania.  During the Olympics in London, NBC cut away from the remembrance of the 7/7 bombings because they assumed Americans didn't care.
Both 9/11 and 7/7 have become days that babies were born, that people got married, that people just went about their day.  And I think that's the most important part, that in addition to remembering these tragedies, we remember to go on.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Be Your Own Curator

I've talked before about how the joy of the internet is that you can connect with people across the world and yet, it therefore becomes easier to believe that you are seeing everything, instead of a carefully curated list of people and topics you have decided are of interest to you.  Or, it's a big internet out there.  You're really only looking at part of it. 
Don't get me wrong, this is amazing.  And I find it particularly interesting as things develop in areas and on topics that the US media tends to report on narrowly, that we all have options, whether it's reading news and reporting from other countries or reading on the ground reports from citizens be they in Missouri or Israel.  It is a wide, wide world out there.  But, by removing the filters and restraints of relying on the news that is provided to you, you also lose some filters of fact.  Citizens on the ground may or may not have the same agenda of truth.  (And yes, not all reporters are truth driven.  There are layers in place to try to make sure there is truthiness, but sure, not a given.)  Much of this is just good internet protocol.  Things get retweeted, shared, and reblogged, fast.  Much like a game of telephone, things can get distorted.  They also, invariably, get shared faster than the correction or update.  Sometimes when you track back you'll see the originator has deleted it to try and stop the spread, but it's still going strong.  And, hey, mistakes and errors happen.  But just like that time you forwarded that email about the free trip to Disney (what?) you go back and you apologize for the misinformation.  And you try to get better at verifying things. 
It is a great big world. 

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Three Interesting Things

1. I confess I am not watching "Outlander" for a number of reasons, lack of the premium channels being one of them.  But a number of folks I know are, and seem confused and amazed by the field hockey.  Nope.  Not field hockey.  Shinty.  Which was described to me by a dorm member who played it as hockey without rules.  (Obviously there are a few rules.)
2. Gayle Forman wrote a wonderful post about why YA is for everyone.
3. I posted this to tumblr too, but seriously, this transcription of Gene Luen Yang's speech about writing diversity is amazing and go read it now if you haven't already.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Once Again, Teen Girls are Thought to be Idiots

Ally Carter said once that if she ever needed a huge heist done, she'd get teen girls to do it, since no group is so constantly underestimated at teen girls are.  I imagine the snarky little tweet that set my blood boiling about paranormal YA romances teaching teen girls to love monsters was intended to be humorous. Let me list for you the reasons that I am unable to entertain such a notion. 
1. This assumes that reading romance could only possibly teach you about falling in love with people like the book characters you read about.  So, if I read about military guys, or firefighters, I will no longer be able to fall in love with a lawyer or accountant without first reading a book about it.  As the wonderful posts at read a romance month have shown, romance novels contain many lessons within them, lessons about love, compassion, and expecting to be respected and treated well by those who love you.  I honestly have to wonder if the people who are constantly so threatened by this, worry they are unable to live up to this idea of love and respect. We could spend a lot of time discussing what may or may not be realistic about books, and goodness knows I'm not saying every book is perfect, but dismissing a whole subgenre because someone might get a bad idea reading one, is kind of insulting really.  Oh wait, not kind of.  Totally.  Totally insulting.  No one worries that reading too many mysteries might give you an unrealistic sense of justice. 
2. Paranormal romance is of course, only ever about boys with powers. Oh wait, it totally isn't.  Girls can be vampires, dragons, witches, werewolves and all those other things.  Anyone who had done more than glance in the general direction of the shelf in the bookstore would know that.  Just looking at the covers would make that clear.  But, silly me, I'm ruining the joke with facts. 
3. And the final assumption - of course only teen girls read paranormal romance.  Not boys.  Or adults.  Nope.  Couldn't be.  Unless of course we are somehow assuming that only teen girls will get wrong ideas because adults know that books are fiction and maybe boys do to, but teen girls, apparently don't understand that lesson until they are older.  Sure.
I know, it turns out there was a lot of assumption and misinformation packed into that tweet.  So, I did what I often do these days.  I bought some books until the rage went away.