Thursday, March 22, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1.  Melissa Harris-Perry spoke about how we respond to rage based on race and how recent protests delineate that. 
2. Author Katherine Locke pointed out this story of the tire store that declared an author writer in residence after she found their waiting room where she got her best words. 
3. This suggestion that Sandra Bullock's outfits in "While You Were Sleeping" are secret sleep messages intrigues me. 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Our Inappropriate Friends

While I often comment on things happening in book world, and more specifically romance and YA, I have been both processing and trying to not speak over the victims.  There was a twitter thread about one YA harasser in particular (Daniel Handler), that was posted by a longtime friend of Handler's who talked about how of course he was bawdy and inappropriate, that's also exactly why kids loved him.  There was rightful pushback as people noted that bawdy and having fictional characters tee-hee about masturbation is not the same as telling librarians you meet at a book event to go make out with strangers. Telling an inappropriate joke in a friend's living room is not the same as making a racist joke as you introduce a black award winner.  
So, it is with this I bring up the recent issues in romance, with Santino Hassell, who turned out to be engaging in inappropriate behavior with fans and fellow authors.  And the subsequent revelations about Sarah Lyons, who worked at Riptide (one of Hassell's publishers).  I've known Lyons a while.  I liked her.  But nothing in that story sounded unlike her to me. (The victim has since gotten a number of threats, so I'm not going to link to that.) And so, I have had to sit back and think about what that means.  I met her at a fan event, so our relationship started in a setting where the power dynamics were pretty equal.  Discussions that were appropriate between us, would not necessarily have been appropriate between co-workers or editors and writers. 
Olivia Waite had a good thread on Twitter recently where she talked about how outside of romance, many people assume we are all either dried up prunes who've never had good sex and have to write about it, or randy sex addicts who think about it so much and must constantly be practicing for our writing.  There doesn't seem to be a lot of middle ground.  But as such, outsiders often harass us, assuming that we are all fair game, since there are fictional people having sex in our books, we must enjoy being touched by strangers, having strangers discuss their sex lives with us without warning.  And that within romance, most of us get that discussing the emotional arc of a sex scene is professional talk and that is distinct from discussing whatever I may or may not have been up to last night.  
All of this is to say, I'm so sorry for all the people hurt by this.  We, big we, in romance need to think about how we can prevent these types of situations.  Waite had said in her thread she didn't think romance had a higher than average issue with harassment, and I think that's true.  But it's also clear that we all still have a lot of work to do.  
NB: RAINN has a number of resources for survivors of all kinds of sexual assault. 
NB 2: I had previously recommended Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell's co-written book.  In light of things, the book has been pulled from publication. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Ashley Woodfolk in Conversation with Tiffany Jackson at Politics and Prose

I was back at Politics and Prose Monday to see Ashley Woodfolk talking with Tiffany Jackson about Woodfolk's The Beauty That Remains.  Woodfolk had a number of family members in the audience which I always find fun.  Jackson asked her to detail her whole journey to getting published so they could all appreciate the work and time that had gone into it.  Jackson said she had had a debut event with a lot her friends and family where she did that, so that people would understand and hopefully not do that, "I've always wanted to write a book" thing, like it's something you could knock out some long weekend. 
Woodfolk's book is about grief, three teens who all just lost someone close to them and the different ways they handle that.  Jackson said Shay was her favorite.  Woodfolk said each was an interesting character to write.  Shay is trying to make everyone else see that it's all okay, Autumn is confused and guilty, and Logan is mad and destructive.  So each was a different aspect and outlet to write. 
Her brother asked about the title change.  The book was originally titled Unraveling Lovely after the band that connects the three characters.  But her editor was concerned that the title sounded a little too romancey, and while there is some smooching, it's not the focus of the book.  However Woodfolk really didn't like the alternate titles suggested so had done a lot of work coming up with an alternate title, which was what they went with.  
It was a great night, and apparently Woodfolk's mom was the one who helped set it up, so thanks.  

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. Keah Brown wrote this about how some remembrances of Stephen Hawking have been ableist
2. This interview with Kelly Marie Tran was delightful. 
3. Tess Sharpe's interview about her latest book and the response to writing a violent female character was fascinating. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Familiar at Woolly Mammoth

I went to what was the second to last performance of "Familiar" at Woolly Mammoth on Sunday, so this is mostly a review for if this show gets restaged elsewhere. The show looks at a Zimbabwean American family in Minnesota. The eldest of two daughters is getting married, she's the lawyer, got five and ten year plans daughter.  She is marrying a white dude from her not the same flavor of Christian church that her parents raised her in.  Meanwhile, the younger daughter has just arrived back from her first trip to Zimbabwe, she's a singer/songwriter/feng shui artist. So there are family tensions, family secrets, a surprise wedding guest, and lots of discussions about whether the two daughters should have been raised with more of a sense of their Zimbabwean heritage, or if the chance to do it now should they choose is enough.  It was quite simply wonderful.  I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard at a play.  The characters felt incredibly real, and their attempts to navigate the things they did not know, felt they should know, or wished they had more of a connection to, from watching football to performing a Zimbabwean Shona ritual for the wedding. 
It was also touching, poignant, and great.  The set was essentially a living room, and while for parts the cast goes off stage, a lot of it, they are onstage reacting to various family discussions, and everyone did a wonderful job.  The theater had an interactive bit outside about cultures and heritages one is born to and that one finds, which added an interesting layer.  Looking forward to more from this playwright.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Jonny Sun at Politics and Prose

Jonny Sun was at Politics and Prose Saturday night, and I was pretty excited.  I am a fan of the Twitter account, and had been meaning to pick up the book, but it had been out of stock the few times I had looked, and so, I figured this was a great chance.  Plus, he was chatting with NPR's Linda Holmes, which is always good stuff.  
They talked about while Sun had done things like theater and comedy in school, those were extracurriculars, while he studied engineering and later architecture. So Twitter ended up being a great medium, he could do it while walking between classes, on quick breaks, or what have you.  Sun chose an alien avatar kind of without thinking.  Holmes asked if the positivity of the account was an intentional choice. Sun said yes, he wanted to talk about things like anxiety and imposter syndrome, but also wanted to have a thing that was cute but serious. That things that are adorable can be equally as important.  
He talked about the drawing process and that the minimalism was something he worked on and that when the book offer came, a lot of what they worked on in editing was having the story build well and still arc, while he kept the differing storylines overlapping so that it was kind of like logging into twitter on any given day and getting snippets. 
A child came up and asked about the mispellings, and Sun said that it tied into the idea that as a Canadian in a new city in the US for school, he felt that things were different and he was trying to learn and that's why he had used the alien idea, and that part of that he felt was the idea that an actual alien would make spelling errors.  
It was a great evening and pretty fun to go to an event where so many people had clearly not only read, but reread the book.  

Monday, March 12, 2018

NoVa Teen Bookfest 2018

I went to the NoVa Teen Bookfest on Saturday and the guest list was just amazing.  I foolishly thought I was safe because I already had Dhonielle Clayton's The Belles, Tomi Adeyumi's The Children of Blood and Bone, and a number of these other books in my bookpile.  Silly me.  
The magic panel talked about the issues of developing a magic system, and how having friends who can tell you what you really need to make things grow, or to start up a windstorm is helpful.  The power panel talked about using power for good and evil, and how often their main characters had been told their power is one thing, and discover it's another.  The anthology panel talked about the challenges of how to order anthologies, and how sometimes crafting a narrative means fighting against the front and backloading that the publisher might want.  The climb panel talked about the querying process and how each of them had gotten their start.  Mary Rand Hess and Kwame Alexander talked about teaming up to co-write for Solo. And the thriller panel talked about creating tension and also, in some cases making room for humor.  
I had to miss the keynote so I could head somewhere else, but heard it was awesome.  This was their fifth year, and it was just great.  

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. The internet works in mysterious ways, as this story of a girl who discovered her orthodontist had a tumblr after a post about her made it to her shows. 
2. Kevin Love's post about a panic attack he had mid-game is as interesting as everyone had said. 
3. As someone who lives in a small space, I confess discovering others find them preferable makes me feel better. 

Monday, March 05, 2018

Passion And Prose

Politics and Prose had another romance panel last Tuesday.  This one included Mia Sosa, Eloisa James, Beverly Jenkins, and Lisa Kleypas moderated by NPR's own Petra Mayer. Sosa has written contemporary, Jenkins and Kleypas have written both contemporary and historical, and James has written historical.  The new releases for all but Sosa were historical though, so things tipped a little more in that direction.  They talked about active consent on the part of their heroines being an intentional choice.  They mentioned that we today, often think consent, and fun and interesting sexual positions are all modern things, but, to paraphrase Jenkins, people have been having all kinds of sex, all kinds of ways, for all time.  They also talked about how some of the romances from the 1970's that were a little lax on consent, did so in response to a specific cultural moment.  It was a time where good girls weren't supposed to have and enjoy sex, but if someone came a long and tied them to the bed until they orgasmed, well then.  And that therefore romances of today, whether historical or contemporary, are responding to the idea that consent can be hot and sexy.  There was also mention that dubious or non-consensual things have their time and place, and no one worries that people will read spy novels and think they know how to be a spy, but people do worry very much about what romance readers are learning. 
This led to a discussion that if you unpack some of the what will people learn from reading romances is this fear of women experiencing normal sexual desire.  That no one polices male desire being anywhere and everywhere, but what if women (or non-men) are just out there in public aroused?  They unpacked this further, talking about how this fear is also rooted in fear of people asking for what they want.  Not just in the bedroom, but outside.  
The audience questions were great.  Many people wanted updates or news on favorite characters.  And the signing was a hoot.  If you've every been to a multi-author signing you know there is often a glut.  Folks have their two or three faves of the four, and then it's weird to be stuck standing in front of author 4.  While James and Kleypas stuck to seats (and author tour, folks, I get it) Jenkins and Sosa began working their way down the line.  
I had a great moment not only getting a great author panel, but also getting to see writer friends, author friends, book club friends, and even a church friend.  

Friday, March 02, 2018

Live "It's Been a Minute" Podcast Taping

They held a live taping of "It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders" at NPR headquarters last week and I was there.  So I have seen Aunt Betty, have learned that Sam tapes shoeless, which was fun for us all, and got to watch the taping, which included some stops and starts, and some pickups, but generally felt like a live episode of the show.  They had solicited live best thing that happened to me moments, so we got to watch some people giving those, along with listening to some of them.  
Now having listened to the episode, some of the non-news chatter was cut down for the podcast/show version but mostly it was an in person version of the show you get to listen to.  (No big surprise there.)  It was still fun, and one audience member lad a long but ultimately incredibly touching Best Thing.  (Since that didn't seem to make it into the episode, her family invited some new co-workers over for a game night since their dog had passed away and the house felt too quiet.  The co-workers were new to the US, and said that the night felt exactly like what they had imagined watching game nights on American TV.  And so they felt so touched that this thing they had done to distract themselves, had also been so big for these new friends.)
As we listened to the previously submitted best things, one involved an important question for another listener and a few folks started looking around to see if that person was there, which triggered an large reaction as others turned to see what everyone else was looking at.  (Nothing, so we all will need to wait on that one.) 
I listen to a limited number of straight news podcasts, mostly because so much of my news comes from other forms, but this one snuck onto my list, and I enjoy both the news roundups and the one-on-one interviews. I am sad that Sam is abandoning us for the other coast, but hope he gets lured back soon. 

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. This roundtable with the four African American directing nominees is great. 
2. This 92 year old woman has a part in "Black Panther" which is amazing in part because she decided to begin pursuing acting 4 years ago. 
3. I am intrigued by the decision on the part of Dick's Sporting Goods to stop carrying certain guns and to increase the age for purchase. People often cite the change to the Tylenol and other pain reliever caps after a poisoning incident, but that was a decision made, like this decision from Dick's (and now Walmart) by the business not by the government.  I have concerns about leaving these safety choices solely up to businesses, but am interested that they have decided the potential negative publicity is worse than the money in the long run. (Also, let's remember someone was shot in a Walmart for having a toy gun and Walmart didn't think that meant they should make changes.)

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Open Letter to "Live With Kelly and Ryan"

Dear Live Team, 
I love this show.  I watched back when it was "Live with Regis".  I watched on days off from school and summers through that Kathy Lee years.  Once I had a job, I actually arranged my schedule so that I could watch the host chat.  I did eventually get a job that was a little less flexible and had to go back to days off. Once I got a DVR, that helped.  And then my job changed to telecommuting.  And the best perk, in my opinion, was being able to have Regis and Kelly, Kelly and Michael, and then Kelly and Ryan on in the background. 
I recognize that contracts and allegations are tricky things. But I cannot in good conscience continue to watch a show that features a sexual harasser as a host.  The show has often invited on guest who where known abusers and harassers.  I usually turned the TV off for those, but could at least enjoy the host chat. 
I know ABC is deeply linked to Ryan Seacrest, but this is the show that I will miss, because victims are more important, especially when the people abusing them have instead of owning up, been using their platform instead to defend themselves and cause further harm to their victims.  Hopefully a change in hosts will make the news, since I won't be able to watch the show.  
I really do love the crew at Live, and appreciate the entertainment you've brought me over the years, but I have to put victims first.  
Tara K
Note: Above is the text of the email I sent to the show yesterday.  After reading this interview I was unable to continue enjoying the show, and since I had talked about it here, I wanted to post this here too. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Feats of Success and Failure

I signed up for the Ravellenics this year.  Even though I had a shawl in progress, a sweater in progress, and some other floaty WIPS, I decided to start a new sweater.  And about the final Wednesday I freaked out.  I was just starting the first sleeve, I wasn't sure I had enough yarn to match the stripes in the body and wanted some time to figure that out, and well, the number of days left was not good.  I had enough yarn to make one sleeve match, as it turns out, but miscalculated how much I needed to make the second sleeve match and well, kept going along.  I decided that the neckline counted as finishing, so I just needed to get the sleeves done and I did and took a picture and then still had time Sunday so started work on the neck.  And then some niggling thing made me check the rules.  Midnight in Korea had been, well, it was several hours past, so oops.  This was my fault for not double checking the absolutely clearly posted time.  So, the sweater is ready for blocking and I don't get a medal and it's just a cute art symbol, and I still have a sweater and I'm still a little sad at myself. 
I watched the mass start cross country 30k for women, one of the final events of the Olympics on Sunday, and one skiier broke out in front fast and basically could not be caught.  It was amazing.  So the race was really on for second, third, and the rest.  A clump of skiers had broken away and two of them were firmly racing for second and they hit a turn and one went straight and one turned and it turns out only one of them was right.  They showed in the overhead shot, you could see both of them sort of look at the other like, wait, it's this way, right? So, the one who went the wrong way then had to get guidance from the race crew as to how she should make her way back, and in the end the skiier she had been neck and neck with got second and she was eighth.  I live in the city I grew up in and there are still days where I am like we should go this way, and others are like no that way, and they are correct.  It seems a lot to ask that as a high caliber athlete you should also have to keep an eye out for errant turns. But, rules are rules.  Wrong turn skiier did really well when you consider she skiied a bit more than everyone else, and hopefully that, and being eighth, which is also nothing to sneeze at will comfort her some.  
Once my sweater is blocked, I'm certainly planning to wear it. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. This article focuses on a soon to be re-released YA book, but also takes a good look at how easy it is for privileged writers to write without fully unpacking their privilege. (For a deeper dive in to response to the revisions, Deb Reese has an updated review here.)
2. Several Asian American skaters at the Olympics have meant some fun microagressions like calling American born athletes immigrants
3. Stacy London's year of going broke is an excellent look at how money and emotion and denial can get all wrapped up together. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Lessons of Book Club

1. Everyone experiences a book differently.  
2. No one's experience of the book is more or less valid than yours. 
3. Book club provides an opportunity to discuss and explain your experience of it. 
4. Sometimes that means you think about things you hadn't thought about, or noticed, or focused on your own.  
5. None of that makes your original experience incorrect, but the joy of talking through things with others is deepening or enhancing your experience and learning more about how others experienced it. 
6. You will like things that make other people annoyed and irritated and vice versa.  Sometimes you will even agree with their list of annoyances and still feel that the book worked for you. 
7. Passionate discussions often occur when there is disagreement, there are absolutely ways to be both passionate and respectful of other's experiences.  

Friday, February 16, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. Tanita Davis talks about the recent revelations of sexual harassment in kidlit, and how it includes a person who had already been problematic
2. Kelly Faircloth talks hot consent with several romance authors. 
3. Alexander Chee's discussion of what writing for love or money really means is great. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Mad, Sad, and Embarassed

I thought watching victims of tear gas from around the world help Americans being tear gassed for protesting was the most embarrassed I could be to be American. But no, it turns out watching American victims of prior mass shootings support students in a building on lockdown expressing their fear as they listened to sprays of bullets was it. My tolerance for how embarrassing my country can be has reached new highs (or lows) of late. But here we are. 17 people dead in a school where they had been doing shooter drills so long, even the shooter knew what the process was. This is unacceptable. I'll be donating monies to groups that stop this. My non-voting rep knows how I feel. My city council has put in place decent laws (the ones that weren't struck down that is) but of course Virginia is right next door. 
To the students and faculty of this school and others. I am sorry we failed you. You deserve better from us. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Great Society at Arena Stage

"The Great Society" is the second play in a duology about President Lyndon B. Johnson.  I did not see the first, I felt the play stood on it's own, but recognize there may be connections and continuations that I missed by not seeing the first. 
The play was done in the round and they made use of projections along the back walls, that displayed dates, and since the escalation in Vietnam was a large piece of it, numbers of killed and dead. 
I came away from "The Great Society" with a sense that Johnson was a incredible negotiator, that, as President's often do, he was juggling trying to make the best decision about Vietnam, getting Medicare and other social programs expanded, and trying to plan the best timing for voting rights and defense of civil rights.  As such Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Bobby Kennedy were both finding themselves trying to live up the promises of those they represent and a little less sympathetic to issues of timing.  
It's hard to cover such a long period of time with so many things that are both known and thought to be known by the audience. 
And it's tough watching a play where there is a President with such a sense of the limited time he has available to get the maximum good done before the pendulum shifts and not see parallels. There was one that felt a little on the nose, but that is probably a your mileage will vary situation.  
As the dates progressed on the back wall, I had been getting myself ready for the assassinations of King and Kennedy, so was a little surprised at the choice to revisit that only in reflection after the election of Nixon.  Certainly, the play was about Johnson, but as Johnson came into the presidency through assassination, as they had been two prominent characters in the show, it seemed an odd choice.  
While the cast was wonderful, there were a number of flubs the night I saw it. Nothing that detracted from understanding but enough that it was noticeable.  The set and set design were really wonderfully used in this production, including the use of fake blood and fire in some dramatic ways.  

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. Knitting anatomical models of internal organs
2. I do not Netflix, but was interested to hear the second season of "One Day at a Time" has a non-binary character
3. It turns out Kansas has six teenagers on the ballot for governor. (And one for secretary of state.)

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

The Seasonal Big Bad and the Justice I Need

I have been examining why some TV is just not working for me right now.  Certainly in this age of peak TV, I have all the choices.  But there are many days, where I basically cannot convince myself watch anything that isn't on Animal Planet.  Now some of this is me being used to upping my reading in what used to be rerun time.  Some of this is that, as we learned from Modern Romance, more choice can either paralyze us or make us really picky. So, sure, there is the luxury of twenty two things I want to watch, and anything that isn't really hit my exact mood well, it gets saved.  
In addition to the above, I have noticed another trend. In the very episodic mystery of the week shows, there's a trend of a season long big bad.  Something to dole out little bits of to make you feel like you can't tune in willy nilly you must watch every single episode because you might miss the teeny tiny clue that will probably lead them to a dead end in the next episode, but what if it doesn't? 
And shows vary with their skill at this, because season long arcs are different that compelling mysteries of the week. Lots of people's feelings about favorite seasons of "Buffy" or "Veronica Mars" are wrapped up in their interest in the big bads.  
But there's a second part to this trend that I'm seeing.  It's hard to say how much it's wrapped up in love of certain actors, convenience, or lazy writing, but the season end happens, we think we have gotten the big bad, or are at least on the way to getting them, and then the next season rolls around and...escaped, or evidence was thrown out, or they resurrected, or came from another reality.  It's possible that more frequent comics readers are more used to this.  You can't really catch the villain, or if you do they escape from Arkham anyway, or show up in the next reboot. 
For me, this is a problem.  I know in real life stuff regenerates, recurs and is hardly ever wrapped up neatly.  Why do you think I'm watching TV?  I'm watching TV because I want the baddies caught, I want the mysteries solved, I want people to actually get smoochies with their love instead of constantly breaking back up.  I want something good to happen to someone and for it to stay.  
I peeked in on a few minutes of a show I am behind on last night, and let me tell you what happened. The big bad is still not in jail.  The big secret is still a secret, but one more person knows.  Maybe two. And there was one, one new character I didn't recognize.  I love this show, and I'm not naming it out of protection, but also because this has happened with so many shows that this one in particular is really just a representative example. 
Sure, some shows are there to provide tension and drama, but in the end, I find it's happening at the expense of ever getting any sort of justice or closure.  People have issues with season two of "Veronica Mars" (um, as do I) but it's not because they didn't find Lily's killer.  The love for season one was provided by getting an answer.  I don't need everything answered, but I need a few more big bads to stay caught. 

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. The ACLU and I don't agree on everything, but we do agree that better comprehensive sex ed is a great step towards curbing sexual harassment. I do want to note that a lot of coverage of sexual harassment focuses on a gender binary, rather than a spectrum and folks that don't fit neatly or always into such things are often more at risk, because a lot of our stuff seems to exclude them and that's also something we need to work on. Comprehensive sex ed should help with that. 
2. This deep dive into the last year in the life of some of the J20 protesters looks at how court limbo has a lasting impact on your life. 
3. The teens in another DC suburb have gotten the right to vote in local elections, and some experience changing laws. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

A Note for Authors Writing Police Officer Heroes

I feel like I keep starting these discussions with disclaimers.  I am not anti-police officer.  But I've seen a lot of people out and about discussion how current events have soured them on billionaire heroes and I have seen very little about police officer heroes.  I am aware that police officers can also be female or non-binary, I have not encountered those in fiction, particularly romance fiction with the same regularity, so I am not addressing that in this post.  Although the more i think on it, a non-binary police officer would be awesome, if you know of such a book, please let me know. 
I'm going to focus on heroes, as the post title suggests, this can also apply to side characters, even in non-romance.  Angie Thomas' The Hate You Give, for example has an uncle who is a  police officer and his character was great.  
Some of this was always true, some of this I and others are simply far more aware of, but of course much fiction exists in a time that is contemporary, yet divorced a bit from reality. Timelines are compressed, diseases particularly sexually transmitted ones are often non-existent, and there is a tradition of protagonists, especially male protagonists doing things that are really quite terrible and we hope there is enough groveling in the end to make it pay off.
I don't want to yuck anyone's yum, if you really like reading about guys who break rules and laws to get their true love, then all of that is cool.  But, I get the sense that some authors aren't presenting this as naughty behavior the hero engaged in because he hadn't fully confronted his emotions, but more like silly things book heroes do.  That line is obviously going to be different for each reader, but nonetheless, I'm going to submit some suggestions.  
A storyline where the police officer hero is accused of police brutality but of course everyone knows he is innocent that makes absolutely no mention of the current political climate is a lot of fantasy to ask your reader to engage in. See also storylines involving accusations of rape or other police corruption.  Am I suggesting people can only write about good cops?  Oh, heck no.  But there are things that you may not have time to address in your story, and if you don't then you can't tiptoe up to it and leave it.  Just like I can't read your story about a real estate developer looking for a fourth wife who has declared bankruptcy a time or two without going hmm, there are things that are too close to current concerns that it's a lot harder to not think of current issues. .  
Anything your hero does that could be curtailed by the heroine calling the police (following her on dates, waiting for hours outside her apartment after she has told him she doesn't want to see him) takes on an added level of danger when it is done by a police officer. Goodness knows romance and other fiction have sometimes conflates stalking and romantic pursuit, and I am aware of some of the cultural reasons for such.  But right now, yeesh.  
And if your police officer hero constantly breaks both the rules and the laws, then you are likely over the line for most readers.  Sure, he may be doing it out of serious concern for another character.  But the point of him being a police officer is often that he represents the good guys. If you wanted to write an anti-hero, you can.  There is of course room in fiction for a police officer anti-hero, but I see police officer heroes who are presented as good guys who are just hampered by mean bosses who want them to follow protocol. That is so problematic.  I suspect some authors may do this to excuse violations of police procedure.  Or to give him a little edge.  But as a reader this looks to me like a character who should be fired.  Yes, being a police officer is a job that has a lot of rules that make the job take longer.  Yes, we all sympathize with that. If you want to write a character who keeps violating the law without addressing what that really means, then I question whether you actually meant to write a hero at all. 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. This case came to my attention on multiple fronts.  Imagine you wished the court case to be conducted in your native language.  Imagine the court case was taking place on your native lands.  Imagine the judge did not speak your native language so counted your appearance where you spoke only that language as your failure to appear in court.  This is actually happening in Hawaii. Yes the man also speaks English.  But restricting the defendant's ability to choose the language they feel most comfortable in seems a terrible precedent on multiple fronts, especially when there is a translator available.  
2. I do not watch this show. But this discussion of how the show went from cute idea with small conflicts to insane show with increasing level of manufactured conflict is something I think any reality TV watcher will appreciate.  Certainly I don't have access to the financials, but I do think in general the simple, I will watch people silently seethe over a small thing and discuss it endlessly with my friends gets overlooked by TV makers because the quiet buzz means I will watch ten episodes, where the people demonstrate they don't even care about their loved ones stuff gets old really fast. 
3. Jemele Hill wrote eloquently about how Michigan State, her alma mater, needs to wear it's shame in this gymnastics scandal. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Sovereignty at Arena Stage

I saw a preview of "Sovereignty" at Arena Stage.  I felt it started a bit slow, but then picked up pace once it had done a good amount of explaining so on balance, was great.  I learned things, I laughed, I teared up, and I finished feeling mad and hopeful.  
The playwright for "Sovereignty" is a tribally enrolled lawyer, and it operates along two timelines, a present to future one, and one in the 1800's, both surrounding court cases - one that has happened and one that likely will happen.  The 1800's timeline looks at the legal fight between the Cherokee nation and the state of Georgia as Georgia essentially tried to make things uncomfortable enough for the Cherokee to leave.  The current to future timeline looks at where things are now.  Worcester v. Georgia was decided by the Supreme Court in favor of the Cherokee Nation having sovereignty over reservation land. But the Cherokee were still forced out of Georgia, and a subsequent case decided that reservations did not have legal jurisdiction over non-tribe members who commit crimes on reservation land.  This was loophole was addressed in the most recent version of the Violence Against Women Act, but it still creates some legal grey.  All of this sounds very lawyerly, the play has several characters of a legal bent, but makes great use of the characters to demonstrate the actual effects of these laws.  Members of the Ridge family exist in both timelines, both worried about how to live and love and protect their families. It's a tough play, a lot of folks end up dead and/or injured.  But there were light moments too.  There are eight cast members, so most everyone plays at least two characters and as the play progresses the timelines overlap more swiftly, until one moment where one character, turns around and switches roles onstage.  (I heard some fellow audience members who thought that was an error, it read as entirely intentional to me although I did know exactly which scene they meant.) 
The set design was amazing, and the play tackles themes of how much and when to fight which turns out to be incredibly relevant right now. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Adoptive Cultures and Other Fun Words

I'm noticing a thing.  If someone says, "Wow, I like cheese, must be my Italian background," it is cute if you are Italian.  One imagines it's tongue in cheek, because we all (one hopes) get that Italians are not genetically required to like cheese, but Italians certainly might have been raised in a food culture that often features cheese. But, if you were for example Chinese and loved cheese, and said, "I must be secretly Italian", it's a little less funny.  Now of course, I have swapped out the power dynamics, the Chinese do not have a history of say, showing up in Italy and declaring it theirs, or mining the good stuff and shipping it home as far as I'm aware.  (The Chinese are certainly not innocent of colonialism.)  
And why so serious, it's only a joke.  Except it's not really funny. Because we're reinforcing bad ideas about people only being able to like and appreciate a culture if there are of that culture.  This is why you see so many pretendians, folks who have decided outside of any and all genealogical evidence that they are secretly Native American or First Nations, because those ideas speak to them.  This is why you get people claiming their are transracial who are not transracial adoptees.  
You can like and appreciate things that are not genetically yours.  You can like and appreciate things that differ from how you were raised, or who you grew up with.  And I get this is like the adult version of if you love cheese so much you should marry it, but you can love cheese and not marry it.  I swear!  
Where this really becomes problematic, is when people then decide their bone deep affinity for a thing means they get to do things that only folks of that culture should do.  You can't use words that are offensive, that have been used to oppress.  Your affinity is not an all access VIP pass.  You can love it deeply, fully, wholly, and still be respectful.  And if you can't, then you didn't really love it.  You just loved pretending. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

Top Chef and Dysfunctional Teams

I usually have less to say on a weekly basis about "Top Chef" but well, for those of you who watched this week and know my need to discuss the failures of dysfunctional teams, here we are.  The conceit was three teams of three with each chef's course having a time limit and a slightly different challenge in an Olympic nod. Skating judge type scoring would be used for each round, with the team's total being calculated across rounds for winning and losing teams.  
The white team lost.  What was clear to both the viewers at home and the folks in the room (where there were non-judge guests who had been assigned table colors to encourage them to route for a team) was that Claudette, who had the first round for her team really seemed to be working alone while a lot of help plating was being given to the other two team members up first.  Claudette was shown to ask for a number of things, and it was pretty clear that Tanya was frustrated since this was all happening at the time she could have been prepping for her stuff.  I go back and forth on this.  Tanya clearly felt she was helping more than she needed to, and at one point said, I'm gonna need your help because I'm behind now.  So Claudette stopped asking for help and then when called out for having a meal that lacked balance was very quick to note she had not gotten the help she'd needed. 
So, it was clear that these three chefs had very different ideas of what kind of teamwork should be put into place for this challenge and once you're in the weeds it can be really tough to figure out how to recover because you are already overwhelmed.  As someone who is still working on the remaining items from busy season at my day job, we've had a lot of meeting about what went wrong and why we're behind and a lot of it kind of looks like this - basically I would have been on time if these folks had been willing to provide me this assistance and if I had known going in they would be stretched or unavailable I would have planned differently. 
So, then Tanya was up and she had made a critical error guessing the temperature of her meat.  On top of that, she had taken the precise cuts round and felt she had needed early prep time to work on her cuts, and her prep time had, from her perspective become help Claudette time.  One thing I think the show kind of glided over was there was a third member of this team who really didn't seem to be helping anyone either.  Chris mentioned in his talking head spot he had noticed the tension and decided he couldn't be distracted by it which, umm, okay.  
So, in the end, this team ended up in the bottom but Chris, who mostly didn't help anyone, had the best meal of the three, so he wasn't in jeopardy. Which is not uncommon in these team challenges, and why so often you see folks saying, I knew we were going down, I just figured this was the thing I could save.  It worked for him, because from what we saw, no one cared that he hadn't helped his team, and no one was mad that he hadn't helped, Claudette was mad that Tanya hadn't helped enough, and Tanya was mad that Claudette didn't want to acknowledge the help that had been given, and so, Chris sat their looking like the nice guy, Claudette saved herself in part by blaming Tanya, and Tanya, in the end went to Last Chance Kitchen. Look Tanya made enough critical errors, that I'm not saying she didn't deserve to go home.  But, this was dysfunction across the team.  Sacrificing your food for others never works out, but it's so hard to watch not helping others get so rewarded. Or rewarded unequally.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. The Another Round podcast did a great episode where one of the hosts talked to a lot of people about what the DNA company results really mean, so much of this article describing how three companies can provide different results, and how your results will change as the database grows, was less of a surprise to me, but still very interesting. 
2. Calling out racism is good for your health.  Pass it on. 
3. The missile alert in Hawaii created an opportunity for us to discuss many things that are wrong, including any time you have the opportunity to accidentally send a message to a large group of people, you should also have plan to rescind or retract that message. Coming so close to the anniversary of the overthrow it's also a sign of how we mistreat the island parts of our nation.  This should be much bigger than haha, some dude pushed the wrong button.  

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

More Podcastery

Last year I wrote about all the podcasts I listen to. Here are the changes I made for this year.  There's still too many and I need to trim some more but right now, this is where I am. 

1A NPR current events (Male Host)
The Broadway Cast - Playbill show talking about Broadway. (Male Host, rotating guests)
Everybody's Got Something - ABC's Robin Roberts interviews folks about their something (often struggle/survival). (Female host)
I Hate It But I Love It - Guilty pleasure pop culture (Female hosts)
The Kojo Nnamdi Show - Current events in DC and beyond (Male host)
Literaticast - Discussion of Kidlit publishing (Female host, rotating guests)
Making the Sausage - A deep look behind the scenes on TV shows (Male host, rotating guests) - on hiatus
Offshore - Stories from Hawaii Public Radio about the non-touristy bits of Hawaii (Female Host)
The Table Live - topics through a faith lens.  (Two Female Hosts, both of Christian persuasion, one of whom is known to me in real life.)
30 for 30 Podcasts - Sports documentaries (Male host, rotating guests)
Ear Hustle - Life in Prison (Female host, male experts)
Sweet and Sour - This Asian American Life (Two Female hosts)
Traitor Radio - Their tagline is, "A resistance podcast for short attention spans" (Female host, rotating guest) - now on hiatus
Up First - Short NPR recap of the morning's news 

Short run Shows
S-Town - (Male host)
36 Questions (Male and Female main characters) Fictional musical podcast. 

Update - Love And Radio - it was probably always true, but it became more clear to me this season that sometimes, in their attempts to make sure folks are heard in their own words, problematic statements are allowed to stand.  It's still a fascinating look at different folks, but something to keep in mind. 

Sampled - All of these I liked they just didn't survive the cut when my podcastery got out of control
Delete UR Account - Current Events (Male and Female hosts)
Jules and James - Fictional chance meeting story.  (Male and female main characters)
Reply All - Unusual stories from around the internet (Male hosts)
99% Invisible - design is everywhere in our lives (male host, rotating guests)
Reality Bytes - Dating in the Digital Age (Female hosts)
Smart Podcast Trashy Books - Discussions about romance books (Female host, rotating guests)
With Friends Like These - Hot topics of a liberal bent (Female host, rotating guests)

Friday, January 12, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1.  I had heard about the media men list from a friend in media. The original author speaks wonderfully about why such a list came to be, and how there was more outrage over the need for such a list than the reason for such a thing. 
2. I am all for DC having all the choices for biking and shared biking.  This post did a great job looking at how dockless bikes close a number of gaps
3. Teenagers discovered a substitute teacher was a white supremacist. 

Monday, January 08, 2018

2017 Reading Tally

Total Number: 153*.  There's an additional 32 if we count all of the novella shorts and anthologies, I counted by covers, so 11 are a novella or anthology.   In other years tallies have been higher and lower

I read 114 different authors**. 57 of those were new to me. Megan Erickson, alone and paired with Santino Hassell, was the author I read the most with 5.  Next highest was Sherry Thomas with 4. 
I continue to track book diversity by characters, since there is not reliable data on authors but I can try to pay attention when I read. I had 82 this year, and some of them were even intersectional, as in characters of color who were also bisexual, and/or neuro-diverse, and/or having a mental illness.
82 were part of a series***. 
The oldest book was from 1999. Next oldest was from 2006. 55 were from 2016. One had been lingering in the TBR since 2008.  December was the banner reading month with 17. Romance was the highest read category with 76. YA was next highest with 42. 
I read 12 paper books and 14 audio, everything else was ebook. 
And some faves from the 2017 haul are:
The Rogue Desire anthology did that near impossible thing, where I liked everything in the anthology.  (I am still working my way through the next, but they are continuing on.)
Lorelie Brown's Take Me Home was a fun romance that started with a silly challenge, I can be your shocking Thanksgiving date if you promise there is pie.
Kate Elliott's Court of Fives started slow for me (I am really impatient you guys) so I switched to listening to it in audio and then bang, got to places I couldn't wait, and finished it back up in print.  
Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell's Cyberlove series was a lot of fun, and we're now getting to a point where internet fame in books is a thing.
Tiffany Jackson's Allegedly looked at a girl who'd spent years in the juvenile justice system.  It features what some might call an unreliable narrator, to me it read as someone who'd been living with so many told to them versions of what happened, including the ones they told themself, that it took some untangling.
Paul Kreuger's Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge was monsters and cocktails.
Tracey Livesay wrote me amnesia and you can read it too.  Love on My Mind is a brother's fiancee which is typically a hard no for me, but it worked for me. Fiancee gets injured leaving future bro-in-law's restaurant, he escorts her to the hospital and fudges the relationship because his brother is out of the country.  Brother basically says awesome, can't get back, keep looking after her. And she has lost just enough time when she comes to to not remember the original fiance and some other life changes she made.
Julie Ann Long's Hot in Hellcat Canyon was a fun story of two people both with relationship experience, approaching how that worked for them.
Courtney Milan et al's Hamilton's Battalion was a delightful trifecta of stories from or just after the revolution.
Renee Watson's This Side of Home was a fun novel, that also looked at gentrification from the point of view of two twins. 
Nic Stone's Dear Martin I listened to on audio, so hadn't realized until I heard an interview that some of the scenes are intentionally light on setting. It captured the teenage years as you start to figure out the really big scope of unfairness in the world and grapple with how to address that.

*I counted re-reads if I re-read the whole thing a didn't just skip to my favorite parts. 
**I counted authors, not pen names, where possible.  I counted anthologies as one author, because it was just too unwieldy otherwise. 
***Series is based on the book being part of a series, whether or not I read any others. 

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1.This post about thinking differently about confrontation, had some interesting points. 
2. This article about surfing looks at how, on one beach at least, the gender barrier is cracking
3. This Do You Need to be an Activist to be a UU column obviously contains religion, but I think it's useful to look at the many ways people can work towards changing the world.  Protesting is a visible one, but it's just one. 

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Go Knit

It is likely a surprise to no one here that I knit.  I credit knitting with the prevention of homicide.  But a piece we are not going to provide traffic to suggest a well known female person of a certain age take up knitting.  As a friend of mine point out on Twitter, this disparages both her and knitting. 
Knitting is a great hobby.  I know people who have even turned it into a bit of a living.  But I have thoughts. 
So let's talk about why knitting is great.  And people who say go knit suck. 
1. Knitting is relaxing.  Except of course when it is not, like when the pattern or the yarn have done or not done something or there's a knot, but basically, overall, knitting is relaxing.  There are studies that like other repetitive motions, can get people to a state similar to what meditation achieves which is good for you.
2. Hobbies are good for you.  Doing a thing that exists entirely on your own schedule and your own whims is kind of amazing.  It's not how most people's paid work operates. It's why writers and other crafters who turn their work into paid stuff often find they crave a new hobby.
3. Making things is fun.  Knitting is not the only path to making things but it is a fun one.
4. Learning new things is good for you.  Learning is a good thing to keep doing.  Picking up new hobbies is one way to get there.
5. Knitting is generally considered to be coded female and/or gay.  Obviously a love of yarn has nothing to do with who you do or do not love in the rest of your life, but the reality is I have never seen anyone say, ugh, just take up knitting or something to a straight male of any age.  I also have a friend who started hauling to the yarn store across town because the yarn store near him told him he must be there to pick up girls and not knit. 
6. Context is important here. We also know that go take up knitting is code for go be quiet in the corner.  Stop being a person I have to  consider relevant.  And this is unfair to both the people (who are pretty much always women) it is directed at and to knitting. If you want someone to stop talking say that.  No need to involve knitting.  And if stop talking seems meaner or you know you will get crap for that, go knit is not the substitute that changes that.
7. Do things that make you happy.  Stop telling other people what they should be doing if what they are doing isn't harming anyone.