We may even buy the video one of these days.
I've also been watching Vikings on the History Channel. Gabriel Byrne is pretty evil, but I'm okay with that. The hot guy with the quasi-Mohawk is hot. The shield maiden kicks all kinds of ass. Goes on raids, protects the farm from visiting assholes and everything. Here's my synopsis of a scene from the last episode I watched:
"you're staying home with the kids. someone has to protect the farm. i need someone i trust to do that."
In real life? No f-ing way. In fantasy Viking world? It kind of works for me.
and then much later:
"where's that asshole the earl made us take with us on this raid?"
[everyone looks blank]
[shield maiden shyly raises her hand] "um. i kind of killed him."
"let me check. hmm. yep. killed him."
"a little or a lot?"
"oh. okay. why?"
"he raped a woman, and when i tried to stop him he tried to rape me too. so, i killed him. maybe twice. i kind of lost count in the rush."
"oh. right on. did anyone see this?"
"well... no. not exactly."
"huh. okay. that's too bad. guess we'll sort it out with the earl when we get home."
The fight scene after that was really, really cool too. Tactics, shield walls, and everything. And the shield maiden was right in the middle of it while wearing just as much armor/clothing as the males. Her shield is the same size as theirs too, and none of it was over the top FX'd up either.
Thanks, Universe. I'm listening. I promise. :)
In other news, that Kathleen and Bran short story hit yet another wall. This is so frustrating. Why do I struggle so much with my female characters? [sigh] Okay. I understand why. I really do. But... sheesh. It's ridiculous! I guess I'll turn back to the Shadows book. It was going pretty fast, and really, I'm sick of struggling. At the same time, I know I need to do a Fey and the Fallen short story. I really, really do. Back burner. AGAIN. Grrr.
There are worse problems, I know.
 And yet, SFF stories rarely demonstrate this. It's usually all about 'the one' but that's very, very rarely the case. I think I'd like to focus on that more. It makes writing more difficult because well... thinking first, but I think it's worth it.
- So, yesterday was Mother's Day. If you think it was always about greeting cards and flowers, you might want to take a second look.
- Disney's Merida from the animated film Brave gets promoted to Princess status and thus, a sexy make-over.
- Feministing's Feminist Cheat Sheet.
- The New Yorker says a few things about the latest film version of The Great Gatsby, including the female characters.
- Author Mette Harrison talks about writers who happen to be female and their tendency to downplay their accomplishments. (for the record, i struggle with that problem too.)
- 17-year-old Single-Handedly Saves Twitter from TV Spoilers (pssst. she's a girl.) Again, for those who don't believe that women have the same capacity for science and computer programming as men.
- The Male Default Setting is Not Rape A male guest blogger at MakeMeASammich.org rants about stupid things said by males about rape.
- What Your American Girl Doll Says About the Rest of Your Life and Wreck-It Ralph Cosplay (I thought a couple of light-hearted links would be a good idea.)
- A Message to Abercrombie's CEO from a Former Fat Girl Yeah. Apparently, some people never grow out of juvenile popular kid snobbery even when they're CEOs of big corporations. Just. Damn.
- That Was Quick: Feds to Investigate Occidental for Sexual Assault
- Author Elizabeth Bear talks about Charles Ramsey, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight and Elizabeth Smart talks about how abstinence-only education made her feel like a used up piece of gum.
- "The Ex" shooting target. Ah, Zombie Industries. Stay classy.
- By the Numbers: Why Most U.S. Women Struggle to Afford Abortion
- When She Wants Sex More on Salon.com. Yes, women can have high sex drives--just like men. How about that? [cough]
- New Hampshire's all-female congressional delegation reflects on breaking new ground The fact that we're 52% of the population in the U.S. and this is the first time we've ever had an all female congressional delegation just kills me. That said, YAY.
And the last link for the day: Benjamin Rosenbaum discusses his struggles with gender switching characters. This is a wonderful piece. When I talk about flipping the gender of the person in a story in order to spot sexism this is what I'm talking about.
 Mind you, I had another gay male coworker who absolutely didn't say such things. We were good friends, and I miss him. (he moved away like most of my friends seem to. oh texas. you are not a happy place for creative types.) So, understand that I understand that his mindset isn't universal among gay males.
Yeah. I need to remember to have my rings cleaned more than once every ten years. [head on desk]
The funny thing to me is that just previous to all this, I'd begun to wonder about the health of my marriage. I'm home a lot, and Dane is often the only person I see. That gets wearing for someone like me. Oh, it's not that I felt the urge to run off with strange men or anything. I'm not like that. A solemn oath is an oath, damn it. I won't break such a thing, but I was starting to wonder about the health of our relationship. Not any more. Sometimes a little cleaning, a little polish, a little energy renewal is all that's needed.
Damn, but that thing shines.
 It's not like we can afford to replace the sucker.
 I've this thing about vintage items and antiques. They feel more comfortable. I wear vintage clothes, live in an old house, have old furniture, drive a vintage car, and so on. I don't like new in general. It feels empty and lifeless. I like things that have been well and truly loved. They're... warm, if that makes sense. I've always been like this. I'm just more so now.
 I've always kind of felt that was symbolic of our relationship. I made a lot of money at that time. A number of acquaintances (who are no longer my acquaintances) wondered why I was with someone who didn't make the same money I did. In return, I thought those folks were shallow-minded. I still think I made the right decision. Happiness is more important than money or status.
 She also said vintage settings were far more durable than new ones--which is amusing given the number of jewelers who tried to talk me out of using a vintage setting.
Him: "Do you want the sharp katana or the dull one? Do you want to cut it? Or beat it up?"
Me: "Give me the dull one."
Him: "I'll be right there as soon as I have shoes."
Me: "Got it."
Note: not once did he tell me to wait inside.
 It was a racoon ripping at the house, mind you, but still. :D
So, 52 Book Reviews blogs about SFF and how he gets looked down upon for reading it. The statement "why bother with what isn't real" reminds me a great deal of when I was at University and those who were very much against D&D would tell me that I was wasting hours and hours of my life on something that wasn't real. I've always felt that people who force their ideals on others are a big problem. There isn't one way to think or be. Diversity is hard-wired into our system. We absolutely need it to survive. Variety is important in philosophy, culture, art, scientific thought, a healthy business environment and even on a genetic level. There's a reason for this: creativity. Without creativity, we'd still be living in the trees. Without creativity, we wouldn't ever have reached space, cured a disease, or invented all those electronic devices to which our "reality" is so attached. Monoculture may appear safe--because it presents the familiar--the stable, but it's also static and dead. It's facinating to me that while diversity is vital to humanity at the same time we're also hard-wired to distrust the unfamiliar to the point of revulsion. So, humanity is constantly balancing on a tightrope between chaos and order. Both are necessary.
Personally, I believe this environment is required for free will to exist, but that involves a whole discussion on philosophy, spirituality, and possibly religion. And frankly, I'm not going there. It's too personal. However, this also leads up to the need for fiction. Human beings must have a dose of unreality every day otherwise we die. I'm not making this up. It's called dreaming. So, if anyone tells you they only deal in reality they're totally full of shit. In fact, if they continue to persist we can proceed to the scientific study of perception and really fuck with their logic.
Fiction, like dreaming, helps us process reality. Like any tool, it can be used in any number of ways--to escape every day life, to address it head-on in a less terrifying way, to think creatively without boundaries, and to think and learn in general. It can also be over-used just like anything else, like, in fact, that absolute demand to adhere to reality.
 Well, a certain segment of it. This naturally ignores the fact that a vast chunk of the population (even in the US) doesn't have access to the internet or all those shiny electronic devices.
 There have been a large number of psych experiments on this very issue. Also, look up Uncanny Valley if you'd like a more visceral experience.
 Ah, the human brain and its ability to make assumptions, recognize patterns that don't exist and allow us to walk, talk, and chew gum all at once while not falling into a man hole and dying.
 I love fiction that teaches me something--particularly historical fiction.
Oh, this is something I found inspiring: 50 Incredible Tattoos Inspired by Books. I already have a Tolkien tattoo. I'm planning on a Bradbury one in the near future. I'd love an Edward Gorey one, but I'm sort of running out of space that isn't obvious. (I like being able to hide my tatts if I want.)
I'm not a fan of opera generally. However, I stumbled on this article about Wagner and why Wagner might be bad for us. Thing is, a lot of what the author is saying reminds me exactly of how I feel about Ayn Rand.
 Someone told me that was one of the big differences between Gen X and Gen Y. Heh. Gen X = upper arm tattoo sleeves. Gen Y = lower arm tattoos. It seems to run true, I've found.
 Yes, I've read her. No, I don't like anything about her work or her personally.
Anyway, per usual this is about a couple of back to back experiences. First came Maureen Johnson's article on female writers and their book covers called The Gender Coverup in the Huffington Post yesterday. Then came the SFSignal Mind Meld piece in which I was asked to participate called Why is the World of Faerie So Popular in Fantasy? I noticed a number of things right away.
Look at the covers displayed in that article.
I remember when my books got picked up one of the things I worried about was the cover art. (authors totally can't help it. covers are important. people do, in fact, judge books by their covers.) Because I spent so much time with Adrian McKinty's work as well as the other Irish Crime books I had it in my head that I'd have a cover that reflected that influence. Have a look here and here and here. Anyone who has read my books knows they aren't delicate flowers. I worked very hard for those books to read from an Irish male perspective. I was hoping for something that reflected that. Instead, the first round of images I got were plain white with a lacy doily and Min Yum's moody illustration on top. Mind you, I love Min Yum's work. It's gorgeous. It's just not image I had in my head. It doesn't say "Gritty Irish Crime + Fantasy." I expected guns and blood and faery elements. And the whole time we discussed the covers I couldn't help thinking that if Rob Ziegler or Paolo Bacigalupi had written those books the art would've felt far less soft. As it was, I was in a panic because it felt like they were trying to market the book as some sort of light fluffy UF romance, and I knew anyone with those expectations was going to get a combat boot in the face. So, I pushed for them to put blood and concrete on the cover. And I was lucky. They listened to a degree, and that's what I ended up with. Still... would they have picked the illustrator they did if the books were written by a male? My inclination is to say no. No, they wouldn't.
Again, I love my covers. Don't get me wrong. I feel I was very lucky not to have the 3/4 view of a half-dressed Mary Kate sporting a tattoo. But there's that problematic aspect and that's what I'm acknowledging here.
 Actually, I picked it up back when that idiot Rush Limbaugh coined the phrase "femi-nazi." I saw then where we were headed due to his popularity. Everything cycles, see. That's life. And the concept that women aren't co-oped into perpetuating the system that keeps them down is flat out denial. Mind you, not every case of a woman touting Sucker Punch as female empowerment equates to that. (One grabs one's encouragement where one can, frankly. There's so little of it that isn't problematic out there that women don't really have the option to do otherwise. Yes, even Ripley is sexualized in Alien.) However, to deny that such films hold certain dangers is, in itself, denial and in my opinion, shallow thinking. It's okay to like what you like. It's not okay to ignore the fact that it has problems.
 Oh, and don't give me the lame-ass "Hollywood and the Games Industry do it because it's profitable." excuse. If there were serious options and these things won out over them, you'd be correct. When there is no other competition that's bull shit. This is a type of blaming the victim bull crap.
I love Big Shiny SF films. Always have. Luckily for me, there have been a few lately. I very much enjoyed Cloud Atlas for the record--even if it had its problematic moments. I understood what it was trying to do and damn I liked that it tried its heart out. I liked Moon and Hunger Games (but less so) and Looper too. So, last night I went to see Oblivion.
First, Oblivion is a Tom Cruise movie. I know this. It's unavoidable, this knowing. I'm not a huge fan of Tom Cruise. Still, he doesn't prevent me from seeing a film. But I'd be an idiot if I walked into a Tom Cruise film and acted surprised when I get a) explosions b) him doing really impossible things c) with a hot chick at least twenty years his junior d) and the story is all about him and no one else, including the antagonist. I don't care about that. And the truth is, I enjoyed the film in spite of the ways it pissed me off. So, don't get the idea that I hated it. I didn't. I rather liked it in spite of the flaws. Hell, I found it inspiring on multiple levels. Visually, it's stunning. I love pretty shiny SF. I really, really do. But...
<rant ON>What I care about is that in Every Single Case the females were trapped and powerless either A) in a tower in the sky (aka Rapunzel style.) B) or told to sit in the car like a good little lady while the manly man goes into danger to take care of the problem by all by his onesies or C) are a complete fiction. Oh, and btw, baby making isn't easy, damn it. It's dangerous and life threatening. I'm supposed to believe one magically squirts out a kid all alone with no medical gear or assistance of any kind? Really? Oh, wait. Of course she does! Because that's all women can do--have babies and be super skinny afterward.</rant OFF>
That said... I still enjoyed the film even if it irritated the living snot out of me. You know why? Because the sad thing is, I've come to expect this kind of treatment of female characters in SF. Welcome to the low level toxic radiation of my existence.
 I hated Chronicle. Because there's nothing more dull than the story of ultra-privileged young white males being visited with even more power and then acting like spoiled babies on a drunken frat boy bender. I understand I'm alone in this.
 Arrogant jerks aren't attractive even if they can back up their arrogance with actual skill. I worked out my 'peacock syndrome' issues when I was thirty-two. Thanks.
 Unlike Leonardo Dicaprio who I tend to avoid like the plague. I can't explain why he rubs me the wrong way. He just does.
 But I'm guessing not in the ways the creators intended.
 OMG, I love Gattaca, and Bladerunner, and... well... a large number of other SF films. I like SF, but I hate hard SF because I expect characters from a story, not technical manuals. This, in spite of the fact that I love fiction that teaches me something.
 Holy crap, what is with the spike heels and the pupils the size of a planet? Vicka is a copilot not a porn star. How in the crap did an alien AI absorb so much sexism? Why the hell is Vicka even there except for Jack to have sex with? Because really? And what is the deal with us seeing Vicka nude but not Jack? Yes. I look for equivalency in nudity. I'm a straight female. I deserve eye candy too. I get that she's fearful of the planet, but give us a reason for that. Why does Jack get residual memories but she doesn't? Why is he so special?
 Ahhh, Sleeping Beauty. Hello? She's a f-ing astronaut too, dumbass. They don't just send anyone to space. It costs too much damned money. Especially when they're sending out a mission under those circumstances. Didn't she have *some* useful skill besides being the Wife™? In fact, she probably would have two. I understand they tend to overlap skill sets in astronauts just in case. That aside, can't she at least hold a gun, watch for big bads, and cover Jack's back? Wouldn't he be safer with a PARTNER instead of a bit of waify, waify baggage?
 No explanation for you. It would be spoilery.
 And now a Galaxy Quest moment:
Gwen DeMarco: Fred, you had a part people loved. I mean, my TV Guide interview was six paragraphs about my BOOBS and how they fit into my suit. No one bothered to ask me what I do on the show.
Fred Kwan: You were... the umm, wait a minute, I'll think of it...
Gwen DeMarco: I repeated the computer, Fred.