Friday, April 30, 2021

LTAFS 16 and 17

This week in Let's Talk About Fictional Sex we have: Ableism and Sex Sex and Mood Altering Substances

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. I had very mixed feelings about the Oscars being held in person with no options for participants who felt unsafe traveling right now, but the City Paper reached out to the musicians behind "Da Butt" which Glenn Close brought to renewed attention during a movie trivia bit, and well, hyping up local music always makes me happy. 
2. It looks like the home where Harriet Tubman grew up has been unearthed on the Eastern Shore. 
3. You may have seen the story of Prancer a chihuahua with a special personality.  Well, he has found a home with an owner who understands how to work with such a special dog. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

A Note About Comments

He folks, my comment section has never been all that active, but laltely it's been beseiged by spam comments. (If we understand beseiged means one or two a week.) Moderation is on, so they are getting tagged as spam for me to delete, but it's seeming a silly use of my time at this point. If you are a real person, not a bot who wants to tell me I'm pretty and then link to your questionable sire, feel free to use the contact form or find me on social media or what have you.

Monday, April 26, 2021

When the Rep Sweats Get You

Code Switch talked about rep(resentation) sweats, the idea that you are so excited to see yourself reflected in media, when that doesn't happen enough, and how that can come with a feeling of please let it be good.  When your community is often overlooked by mainstream media, the parts that make it through have outsized importance - for the pitches by other people trying to tell stories like that get to make, the doors that open a little more easily for them, but also for people not from that culture.  If you are a part of an underrepresented culture, someone has likely told you a thing is true about your culture because of a book, movie, or TV show.  
I saw Disney was working on something about Hawaiians and went eek, I hope it's good because I still remember the Johnny Tsumani movie.  (Yes, I know - "Lilo and Stitch",  And well, I've shared how "Moana" is not really Hawaiian before, I love it, but it isn't intended to be Hawaiian.)  
This is a very long lead up to say I had been very excited for a YA book that was scheduled for 2022, because it was written by someone who is part Hawaiian, who grew up in Hawai'i, and I can still use very few fingers to count YA by or about Hawaiians.  I had put together a list of Hawaiian authors that I was excited to point to.  Because any time someone does something no one has seen a lot of, people try to dub them the first.  And while there are not enough, not yet, not for many books more, just like Black Panther wasn't the first Black superhero movie, this wasn't going to be the first Hawaiian YA.  But it was going to be another one.  And every one we get helps us build a tower so the people who need these books can find them.  
And then that author went on a social media rant.  They've deleted now.  I hope they are taking this time to reflect.  I hope they and their team make sure none of this biphobia and hatred made it into their book.  
But it made me sad.  Representation isn't the be all and and end all.  But I wish for more of us at the table, so that as any of us screw up or need to take more time to learn and grow, it wasn't such a percentage of the representation we have.  I'm sorry for all the people who have already decided that they definitely can't read this book now.  Sorry because there is something so sad about having something you were excited about turn into something you have to read with care for fear of the barbed wire traps within. 

Friday, April 23, 2021

Reading Roundup and LTAFS

I took a very brief pause in the Let's Talk About Fictional Sex series to post my first quarter reading round up.  
And then dove back in with LTAFS Sex and Money. 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. As you may be aware, a DC Statehood Bill is back under discussion this session.  I have heard a number of silly and ahistorical reasons for the American citizens living in DC to remain disenfranchised over the years.  One recent one was that there aren't even enough people in DC to qualify for congressional representation.  Well, of course, DC has more people than some states, but when you expand that out to congressional districts, DC population is larger than 77 of the current congressional districts.  Also, hi, have you reminded your voting congressperson how much you like enfranchisement lately?
2. A professor is doing a survey of folks who have or do menstruate who have gotten the COVID vaccine to see if there is statistical support for unusual periods post vaccine.  Periods are not something that often get looked at in first round studies of non-hormonal medications.  
3. I had paid a limited amount of attention to the Chauvin trial, so found this piece summing up the specifics of the legal argument that was made interesting. .  

Monday, April 19, 2021

You're So Great at This, You Should Also Do That

I recognize that at its heart, the titular statement is well meant and a compliment.  But I also think we should work on examining why we think the greatest compliment for someone's work, is to suggest more work to them.  I am not talking about things like, I loved your book, please write another.  That is suggesting a person should keep doing a thing they are already doing.  I am talking about things like, I love the way you Tweet, you should start a You Tube channel.  Or, I love the work you did for this, I think you should also go solve world hunger maybe.  Okay perhaps that one is a slight exaggeration.  
I do understand that this is people saying you are very good at doing things, I wish for you more things.  But there's also an insidious thing.  You've been providing free content to me, or labor I didn't pay for, I think you should go do more labor and fix more things.  Because there are a couple of possibilities baked into that.  The suggestor somehow thinks that it would be even better if this person did another great thing that they could then point people too and say, I told them they should do X thing.  The suggestor wants to learn more without having to learn or vet new people.   The suggestor wants to end this interaction knowing that there are great people doing great things, and the world is in good hands.  
Now, yes, I have delved a lot into what could be a benign attempt to say, I love your work.  But I think the difference between I love your work, and I love your work, and therefore wish you were doing more work is tied to some dangerous cultural assumptions.  Telling someone you wish they had more things to do, implies their value is in the quantity of their creation.  
I see this a lot with small creators who do things like limited pre-orders or shop restocks.  Invariably someone will say, I love your stuff but it's always sold out.  And yes, in an ideal world I think most creators want everyone who wants to pay them money for a thing to be able to get that thing.  But I also imagine they want to sleep.  Eat food.  Attend to their loved ones. In some cases work the day job that lets them do this thing on the side and also provides them health insurance.  All things that while they do not look like work, support the work.  
So, if what you really want to say is I love your work, say that.  And if that person idly says, sometimes I think about doing X thing, you can absolutely be ready to tell them you support that.  But suggesting more work for people isn't always the compliment you think it is.  

Friday, April 16, 2021

LTAFS 13 and 14

For this week in Let's Talk About Fictional Sex (LTAFS) we have: -Contraception What? -To Be or Not to Be a Parent

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1.  Chad Kalepa Baybayan was one of the key figures in the resurgence of traditional navigation, and taught many, many others.  He passed away recently.  He will be missed.  
2. Cara Zelaya rounded up the times that the regular gun violence in the US intersected with her life.  The thing is, I would be surprised to hear of really anyone in the US who couldn't do this.  My mom could do this.  
3. E. Alex Jung's profiles are always wonderful, and this one with Daniel Dae Kim is no different.  

Also, as tear gas is being used on housing again (outside Minneapolis this week) let me re-up my tear gas post, and remind folks that tear gas in a pandemic is especially cruel.  

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Undercover Bridesmaid - Now Available in Print

Undercover Bridesmaid - first novel length, but second in the City Complication series is now available in print.  The book can be read as a standalone, though there are brief appearances by Seth - who is a protagonist in Aloha to You, so ymmv on that. 

Rafe has been using charm both in and out of work.  Finding himself the only groomsman at a weather interrupted bachelor party isn't going to stop him from having fun.
Felicia has made a living for herself helping out brides by posing as one of their bridesmaids. She's used to handling all sorts of unexpected hitches, but a solo groomsman who keeps showing up at all the bachelorette events is a new one for her.  It doesn't matter if he's hot, Felicia's there to make the bride happy not herself.  Not even if the bride decides a little matchmaking might make her happy.

The book was also my not so secret love letter to pet rescues, and Felicia meets many rescue dogs in between her wedding planning.  And because of the nature of their meeting and Felicia's job, there is travel, a secret identity, and some long distance stuff for them to figure out.  

Available at multiple etailers - universal book link:
And in print:

Monday, April 12, 2021

Ponderings on a Day

I got my second dose of the vaccine on a beautiful spring day with blue skies. 
The buses were a tiny smidgen fuller than they had been when I went for the first dose. My appointment was near Union Station so I got to see that some of the fencing around the Capitol was down now, although the National Guard staging area is still visible. 
All the flags were at half mast. 
There was a mobile Covid testing site across the street from where I got my shot. 
This is the time of year many flower trees flower. 
Union Station looks odd with all the seating in the food court gone. 
I made tentative plans with a friend to picnic after they get their next dose.  (We are both high risk, so while we have seen each other, it's all been masked.)
For me, a person who has a mild 24 hour reaction to the flu shot, and a longer three days reaction to the pneumonia vaccine, dose 2 took about 24 hours to make itself known.  It was a stronger reaction than the pneumonia vaccine, but resolved faster. Obviously in all cases, better than getting the thing itself.  
Still masking and taking precautions, but glad to be able to be a little less worried about the risk both to myself and others on the virus front.  

Friday, April 09, 2021

LTAFS 11 and 12

Let's Talk About Fictional Sex posts 11 and 12 are up:
Let's Talk Outercourse
Contraception Why?

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. This article took a look at not only the toll on retail workers trying to get people to comply with mask rules, but the level of performance and fundraising involved in those intentional flouting such rules. 
2. The Writers for Hope Auction has a number of goodies for both writers and readers, and the money raised is going to RAINN.  
3. This article about how some of the businesses along a little stretch of Hyattsville have survived the pandemic (so far) was fascinating.  

Monday, April 05, 2021

Just Asking a Question

I have been paying careful attention to book publishing for long enough that I know that categories and genres shift and change.  But there's something a little disingenuous about the frequency with which someone comes along and just wants to ask what a romance is.  Now, I know what the RWA definition is, and I know that the definition has at times been in flux, and there were times when I would have disagreed with some of the parameters that other people at or within RWA wanted to put around it.  But the two things that have remained consistent is that a central (ie cannot be removed without the story feeling empty) part of the plot is the development of a romantic relationship between or among characters, and that their relationship ends in an emotionally satisfying way.  
So, where I think there is plenty of room for discussion is how much centrality do you need. I've read books that I thought involved much smooching, but seemed more about something else.  I've read books where the smooching and the something else seemed to get equal time,  And I've read books that were all smoochy smoochy. 
I think there's even room for healthy and interesting discussion about emotionally satisfying.  There are lots of great discussions about whether X character groveled enough for this or that reader to buy into the future relationship happiness. There are folks who really only want to read characters who find happiness in legally binding documents and possibly even babies.  There are readers who hate baby epilogues.  
But the disingenuous part is that every other month or so (I think, time is weird) someone will be like, well but what if one of the characters is dead at the end, but their ghost visits and everyone's really happy?  Or what if the characters are all in a happy romantic relationship at the end of the book, it's just not with the groupings the whole book was about?  So now character X is with character B and character A is with character Y, but there were hints all along even though the entire story was about A falling in love with B and X falling in love with Y? Or what if character A is super happy because they got a new job and now they don't mind that things didn't work out relationship-wise?  
And it's kind of exhausting.  All of those sound to me like really cool stories.  They just aren't romances.  
And I have to say, I don't see folks going, but what if I wrote a sci-fi but none of the new tech was on the page, but like, I thought really hard about it?  Or what if I wrote a murder mystery and never solved the mystery?  I'm reinventing the genre. 
Here's the thing - genre and age categories are there to help readers find the kinds of books they want.  If you went to a store, bought a thing marked laundry detergent and got home and discovered inside it was really milk, you wouldn't be like, wow - so unexpected!  You would return it.  Because you need laundry detergent.  
And yes, there are products that you can use to wash clothes and other things too, because they are multifaceted.  But they are clearly marked.  Those product makers understand that the beauty of the product is that is a little of this and a little of that.  And they don't try to trick shoppers, they try to entice them with the very things that make their product unusual.  Readers want the same.  
Because honestly the only reason that people want to trick romance readers is because romance readers read a lot.  So they want romance readers' money without having to, yanno, write a real romance.  Except romance readers read a lot outside their genre too.  And like reading things outside their genre that involve relationships.  That's all you need to say to grab the readers looking for your kind of book.  Stop trying to put milk in the detergent bottle. 

Friday, April 02, 2021

LTAFS 9 & 10

This week's Let's Talk About Fictional Sex posts are up: 

And yes, the series has been moved over to Buttondown. 

Edited to remove note about prior links.

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Thank You, Kojo Nnamdi

Let me start by saying no one deserves a little bit of a rest more than Kojo Nnamdi.  I've spoken before about how I began listening back in the "Public Interest" days, watched as the show changed to a more local entry,  and saw how that allowed the show to do things they could not before. Kojo is the best example of how people who come here as adults (ish) can embrace the width and breadth of the city, can work to learn it and love it.  
The first time I went to volunteer at WAMU, back when people still manned the phone lines, back when the station was atop the tallest hill in Tenleytown, (oddly very near my orthodontist), one if the producers of the show came to thank the volunteers, and told us how much she loved working on the show and with Kojo. 
Over the years I volunteered more with WAMU, earning myself a t-shirt with the show logo at one live event. The Kojo in Your Community events I loved as a listener and a volunteer. Kojo's interest in the hyperlocal, whether it was people in the arts, people worried about school funding, or people trying to support restaurants showed how hyperlocal often rippled out,  that the things that might be in the part of the paper that people skip over, reflect the larger issues of the day too. 
He also has such a radio voice, that his deciding to continue broadcasting during what turned out to be an earthquake is so very him, and honestly likely what folks listening in the moment needed. 
I have a feeling that much like Diane Rehm or the Hot Jazz show, he won't really disappear from our airways. He's already committed to continuing both the Politics Hour and community events, and I think -after some well deserved rest, we might see a few other things. 
Regardless, the many many hours of things have already been so much and I am ever so grateful. I had transitioned to a listener in podcast form, but today I set an alert to listen live.