Thursday, October 30, 2014

Three Interesting Things:

1. One couple had an interesting if unusual idea for a pizza place.
2. A former NFL linebacker is now a yoga teacher with some interesting thoughts on the current state of the NFL and the mind body connection.
3. This is from April, but recently came to my attention.  I do adore a good lip sync battle and Jimmy Fallon and Emma Stone do not disappoint. (Links to a video, FYI.)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Books Subscription: Scribd

I've had a Scribd trial subscription for about a month now and I love it.  Given I saw some folks who seemed a little confused about it on the NINC hashtag.  Here are some thoughts.  I'm not sure I'll keep it forever, but right now I'm finding a lot of value.  Also Dear Author had a link for a free trial and some discussion of the services. 
1. Scribd currently has a ginormous Harlequin backlist, which paired with the free trial offer made it a no-brainer for me.  I also found a range of self published titles, craft books, and other fun fiction. 
2. Once the free trial is up, it's currently 8.99 a month (with apparently some discounts if you commit to a year up front).  That's about the cost of a paperback, less than a hardback.  So, if you tend to read about one purchased book a month or more, and Scribd has books you want to read, there is some value.  If you read less than that, then it probably isn't a great deal, unless some of the other perks would make reading more accessible to you. 
3.  All the books are being read on or at Scribd, so phone, tablet, laptop, etc.  You can download books to be read offline, but that will be in the Scribd app.  (None of this was hard to do, but if you've been sticking to eink or paper due to glare or other concerns, this won't help much. 
4. I am still buying books and getting books out of the library.  Scribd however provides access to books - some that are harder to find, or that I just am not sure are my thing, and so on.  If a few chapters in I know I've made a horrible mistake, I feel better about bailing.  (Weird but true.)  I've also read things that I knew were totally my cup of tea, but not things I was going to want to read over and over again. 
5. So far, I've finished three books, started quite a few more (most of which I plan to finish). 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Three Interesting Things

1. It is queer romance month, and Piper Vaugn has an excellent post about how diversity matters in all flavors of romance.
2. Lindy West had a post about how women are constantly encouraged to be friendly to strangers who infringe on their space.
3. Caroline Tung West, who happens to be local and whose lovely debut I read not too long ago, has a Dear Teen Me post that is adorable.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Open Letter to the Guardian

Dear Guardian,
I am a long time reader of your online content.  I generally appreciate your approach to global news and to sports and book news. I understand that sometimes a news outlet will make the choice to run or post something that is a little controversial in order to spark additional clicks and lots of online conversation.  So, I can only hope that's the root of your decision to post Kathleen Hale's documentation of the steps she took in order to stalk an online blogger who had written a negative review.  The idea that some people on the internet are not quite what they say is certainly an issue today.  But there is a huge difference between me engaging in a direct relationship with a person that we are perhaps both under the impression will move offline one day and a the relationship between an author and a blogger/reviewer. 
Authors and bloggers both often use different names online, whether to create separation from their day jobs, to enhance privacy for themselves and their family members, and in some cases to prevent stalking or to protect themselves from stalkers that have already targeted them.  An author who misused personal information provided to her, in order to better "unmask" and arrive on the doorstep of a reviewer is not creating a teachable moment, unless that moment is you never know what author will take things too far, that somehow by reviewing books on the internet you open up your life for anyone.  In a day and age when doxxing, harassing behavior is becoming common for some women who use the internet, condoning stalking because the stalker in question just wanted to talk seems naive at best. I certainly have seen a lot of reviewers grow much more concerned that by giving mailing information to publishers and authors in order to get review copies of books, they are now putting themselves potentially in harm's way. 
So, I hope that's the discussion you hoped to spark running this post.  Because the idea that the Guardian condones such behavior, from authors or most others really, that the Guardian thought it was fair because the reviewer started it and therefore deserved for someone to use her address, stalk her online presence, contact her friends, and again, her co-workers, and again, show up on her doorstep in order to - what - to prove that no one is safe, I guess, is quite horrifying. 

-to Smart Bitches wonderful post about authors and reviews.
-to Dear Author's post about psuedonyms which also includes links to a Storify of some of the Twitter reactions.
-to Glenda Larke's excellent suggestions for why an author should let reviews alone.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Three Interesting Things

1. Roxane Gay had a response to the idea that feminism needs better accessibility
2. Apparently not only is there a placebo effect, there is a so-called nocebo effect, where the patient is told the medication has stopped and reports differences even when it really hasn't stopped.
3. And teen researchers seem to have evidence that teens, possibly due to growing up with a more multi-device multi-tasking world, do perform better while multi-tasking.  So, there you go.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Leaning into the trope HTGAWM

As you may suspect, I'm going to talk about "How to Get Away With Murder", specifically the second episode, so if you are not caught up and/or care about having plot bits revealed, you have been warned. 
In the first episode we learned that Wes (or Mr. Elle, as I like to call him) had an across the hall neighbor of Rebecca.  Rebecca had rebuffed Wes's attempts at neighborly bonding, but in episode two she suddenly knocks on his door and says that the upstairs neighbors must have clogged the drains because her shower is oozing and could she please borrow his shower because she needs to get the bar stank off of her before she can sleep.  And then, of course, she headed into his shower and disrobed before, oops, remembering to close the door.  And, yes, my eyes rolled, and I was tempted to throw things at my TV because it's such a terrible cliche even though, no one, in the history of ever has borrowed their neighbor's shower.  But, I chalked it up to silly TV things that people do and moved on.  Except that later in the episode, after Wes watches the police arrest Rebecca he suddenly seems to realize the same thing, and checks his bathroom to discover that in fact, it seems Rebecca was stashing evidence at Wes's in case her apartment got searched. 
And that was brilliant.  I remembered the scene clearly, because it seemed like a dump tropey thing to do.  So, I didn't spend more time wondering why today she was basically voluntarily being neighborly when the other times she had told him to basically get lost.  But they expected me to not think too deeply about that scene and it made the reveal of the extra layer that much better.  There's a lot of talk, heck there's whole websites dedicated to tropes, and tropes, like cliches, become tropes for a reason.  And there are ways to use them badly (like if she really had just been there to use the shower) and ways to use them well, or even play on the audience expectation surrounding them.  And this, is one of the reason "How to Get Away With Murder" has been such a treat to watch. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Project Runway and Second Chances

I realize the gist of most of my "project Runway" posts is do your homework and stop being an idiot.  This one is not really that different.  But here we go.  Oh, Ms. Korina.  So, anyone who has watched any of the last few seasons would have seen two things happen that happened again in the most recent episode.  The remaining five designers were given their initial challenge and what seemed like a lot of time to complete it.  (Oh, you naive designers.  I know.  You are tired at this point in the run.  Haven't eaten real food or slept a full night in some time.  That's probably why you weren't suspicious.) Then they asked the designers to pick an outfit that had sent a prior designer home, and in some clear producer drama creation, only had the last five outfits to choose from (thereby taking away the idea that Charketa would pull a Justin and remake her own outfit).  And then, because they had limited time, they offered them help (something, that btw, has been happening since season 1) in the form of the eliminated designers and clearly, given the drama between Charketa and Korina, since Charketa had picked Korina's outfit, they wanted the designers to work with the person that picked their outfit.  Now let's face it.  Sure, the other designers had had more days (though honestly we are probably looking at ten max, here, the show moves fast) to ponder and come to terms with their elimination than Korina who had basically had a day. But, as Amanda pointed out, it sucks for everyone who has been eliminated equally.  It didn't suck more for Korina. And it was just as awkward for all the designers who had to watch, and assist, a designer tear apart this outfit they had put together and remake it.  But Korina basically refused to even try.  And I suppose we could argue that in some ways her demonstrative refusal to try was slightly better than the time Richard 'helped' Patricia in a way that was less helpful than she had hoped for.* So, Korina just walked right out and Charketa got another helper.
But, "Project Runway", like all reality shows loves some mean designer drama, but it also loves a redemption story.  And sure, there will be other shots, but not if you can't even be counted on to play the game.  Because, let's be honest, this is a reality competition, and you may be here to show off your designer stuff, but it is ultimately a game.  And your refusal to play along means they they might think twice the next time All-Stars or even the next season comes along.  And look, Korina might just be ready to put all this "Project Runway" behind her.  She may have a non-TV related plan for how she will succeed and if that's the case I wish her the best.  But as Amanda has demonstrated this season, as Kate demonstrated the season before, there are all kinds of other opportunities if you are willing to put yourself back through this again.  It's a strange and unrealistic opportunity, and it does not operate like the other paths towards success in fashion, but the reason people keep signing up for this show is not just for the money fashion show prize at the end, although that helps, but also the unique opportunity for exposure.  And, look, some people like a mean designer, or a snarky designer with a clear aesthetic, but a lot less people like a poor sport. 
Emily, on the other hand, handled her elimination with grace this week, and hit that "Project Runway" sweet spot for me, where I get why her stuff wasn't going to make her the winner, and yet, I want that hoodie.  Want. 

*In Richard's defense, his issue was lack of, er, terminology rather than desire. 

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Three Interesting Things

1. The lovely Laura K. Curtis has some wise thoughts on why the goings on with Amazon vs. Hachette and Ellora's Cave Vs. Dear Author are important to everyone who reads or writes books.
2. This post/piece looks at how talking to oneself can affect body image and other behavior changes. 
3. One family discovered their "indoor" cat had been getting out as a result of the stuffed animals he was dragging home. 

Monday, October 06, 2014

Project Runway: Karma and Feedback

Well, I had been keeping quiet in general on the "Project Runway" front, because there are patterns.  (Heh, patterns.) But just as "The Real World" often had a fresh faced small town member and a tough talking city cast member, "Project Runway" often has folks who are new to life, reality shows, and feedback.  People who are constantly astounded that their stuff isn't the best (beyond the normal creative haze where you hope that your stuff is adored and they can see the genius inside but when they start mentioning the hem, or the seam or the this or that you start to go, right, yes, that part is less good).  There are people who have watched the show and people who clearly never have.  There are people who think the snarky things they say to the camera will have people chuckling along, and think that telling others that you hate their stuff is just being honest. Some of this certainly can be attributed to limited life experience.  And hey, there are lovely people too.  Certainly the pressure cooker can get to folks who always thought they were the strong, impervious one. 
The Tim Gunn save has already been used, and it was used on a designer that not all of the designers totally understand.  And that's fine.  Again, anyone who's watched the show knows that Tim often has useful things to say, but he is not always in alignment with the judges and so there's a balance between listening carefully and making your own best choice. 
Neil Gaiman often says that people are always right about the things they tell you need fixing and they are almost always wrong about how you should fix it.  Now, like any generalization, this works some but not always.  But people will often tell you something because they want to provide context for their concerns and sometimes trying to see through the issue they've raised instead of focusing on the fix can be useful.  And sometimes you just need time to rant first.  That's also a valid process even if not super endearing to the TV audience. 
So, at the end of this episode there were two designers who just hadn't performed up to par in the opinion of the judges.  They were given an hour to run back and try to make something else to change the judges minds.  One appeared (because sure, there could very well be some helpful editing going on) to take it in stride, and just be focused on grabbing her helper and getting something done.  The other appeared to spend much more time ranting about how it was ridiculous that she was in the position of having to defend her work when she was clearly the more talented of the two and this was stupid because the other person had already been eliminated once so clearly they should eliminate her and the comment about how she liked a certain (oh, the judges were clearly dancing around trying to figure out what the most politically correct way of saying her designs had a Native American Indian or Southwest or Navajo or, ugh, ethnic feel) aesthetic but she had done it before and this wasn't a good example of it.  And here's where I think she, Korina,  was focusing on the wrong part of the comment as she ranted that she had done it once before and won.  She had and she had.  But the point Nina was making was not, you did this once before so you can never do it again, but you did this once before well, this time you did it badly so it looks both bad and as if you have no new ideas.  I'm not saying people will never call you on repeating yourself, but if you repeat yourself well, you are much more likely to get a response of, oh this looked like you when it walked down the runway. 
And well, in the end, some combination of ranting and planning led to Korina not even having a finished garment and Charketa did.  So, while I know technically karma is supposed to be about the long term, sometimes it's nice when reality TV appears to provide it quickly.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Three Interesting Things

1. Hat tip to ALOTT5MA for the link to this story about the life of a barista in the CIA office building.
2. Malinda Lo had a thoughtful piece on some of the side effects of certain books being banned or challenged.
3. And the Jane Austen Summer Program is recapping the web series "Emma Approved" which I adored.  (Recappery written by a friend of mine.)