Reading Wednesday

Sep. 20th, 2017 07:47 pm
slashmarks: (Leo)
[personal profile] slashmarks
Bryony and Roses – T. Kingfisher. Reread, reviewed here previously.

Black Beauty – Anna Sewell. Reread of a childhood – not quite favorite; it was just that in the process of going through every entry in the library catalog that came up under the keyword 'horses' in three separate libraries, I was eventually going to end up reading Black Beauty; I resisted from what I recall and turned my nose up at it repeatedly, but eventually I gave in and liked it at least enough that I think I read it more than once. This is not saying much of a horse book.

This held up better than I expected in terms of nineteenth century literature; there is the awkward comprehension as an adult of exactly what “Darkie” means in that context, and that bizarre moment where Lizzie naturally can't ride a nervous horse despite being described repeatedly as an excellent horsewoman because she is a woman; but overall I was surprised by the lack of horribleness to make me want to pitch the book across the room. Sewell seems to have deliberately taken pains to make it obvious that relative abusiveness of Black Beauty's owners has nothing to do with class, and the moment when Jerry (I think?) comments that the cab drivers would have Sundays off if they organized a strike for it was a good surprise.

It is also somewhat less miserable than I had the impression from other people who'd read it more recently, with relatively little deliberate sadism from owners – as opposed to ignorance and apathy and alcoholism – and cruelty usually implied and covered quickly in summary rather than lingered over. Then again, I have a pretty high tolerance for that kind of thing.

Corona – Bushra Rehman. The summary you'll find online is something like, after bisexual Razia Mirza is excommunicated from her Muslim community in Queens, she goes on a road trip. This is somewhat misleading; what Corona actually is is a collection of nonlinear microfiction that covers much of Razia's childhood and early adulthood; the road trip appears in exactly one piece; and rather than being “excommunicated,” she's disowned after her parents find out she's dating someone (male) and she refuses to remedy the situation by immediately marrying.

There are moments of this that I felt were well done, or enjoyed in that almost painful way of recognition – it is so rare to find characters who are in that awkward place of half-speaking to parents without forgiving them that most of my social circle is – but overall I was disappointed. A lot of the pieces have the impression of wallowing in misery for shock value (eg. was that thing with the kitten really necessary? speaking of which, content warning for animal death), and I found the romance with the most attention paid for it thoroughly unconvincing. True, you are supposed to be unconvinced – they break up – but in order to convince the reader that your protagonist is not being an idiot, you should usually give the relationship you are going to have tragically fail some positive aspect at the beginning. Having Razia state that she felt like she was losing her mind and so did all of her friends did not help; it just made me want to scream 'yes, you are, what the fuck are you thinking?' at the book.

In addition, I think the decision to do this non-linearly hurt it. Even as there are pieces that seem to wallow in misery, a lot of the actually difficult pieces of the story I was invested in are completely skipped. As an example, the pieces focus mostly on three time periods – childhood to teenager years; her time careening between temporary living situations in a wildly precarious position after her parents disown her for refusing to get married; and her adulthood which appears to involve relative financial stability, a social circle of other queer South Asians, and an awkward truce with her family. There's no real picture of the transition between these points. The view of Razia being disowned is indirect, told in retrospective with no detail; the details of how she clawed her way to financial stability and ended up on speaking terms with her family again are totally absent. There's an abusive partner who shows up in one, maybe two pieces of microfiction – the boyfriend she left her parents with – and then vanishes and is never referenced anywhere else. Her one girlfriend on page similarly shows up once. Microfiction over the course of a life can work, I've seen it done wonderfully, but the decision to avoid almost all important or decision making moments did not work, here. I have to wonder whether that was deliberate, or from a place of feeling unable or nervous about writing those moments well.

lb_lee: A happy little brain with a bandage on it, surrounded by a circle and the words LB Lee. (Default)
[personal profile] lb_lee
There is a chestnut of misinformation on tumblr claiming that 'system' is a term made by DID folks, for DID folks, and nobody else is allowed to use it.  This is often wrapped up in the idea that multiplicity is owned by people with DID/DDNOS/OSDD, and anyone else claiming it is appropriating.  This is utter nonsense.  I've written numerous posts on this before, but here is the more thorough breakdown, first focused on the politics of this statement, and then the actual facts of reality.

The Politics: why this argument doesn't make sense, even under its own logic. )

The Facts: twenty-plus years of non-DID multiples using 'system.' )

Changing our Internet Usage

Sep. 17th, 2017 12:33 pm
lb_lee: A picture of Sneak smiling (sneak)
[personal profile] lb_lee
Hello!  It's Sneak!  I was thinking about an article that [personal profile] metahacker linked, this one about designing sites addictively.  And it's made me get on board with Mac and Biff's idea about changing how we interact with the Internet!

Namely: we will be deleting our Facebook, and drastically cutting down our tumblr time (if not ending it entirely).

But my reasons for it aren't the same as theirs.  Biff just doesn't like the Internet in general, and Mac noticed that it wasn't making us happy.  Rogan has said he finds internet stuff increasingly overwhelming, and I think I know why: the newer generation of social media sites are designed for constant interaction.

We grew up in an older Internet time, where you weren't expected to be online every day.  You could take a break for a week, and quickly catch up, no problem!  Forums, DeviantArt, Livejournal, all of these sites are (or were) not intended to be used multiple times a day, every day. (Unless you're a HARDCORE user.) The sites were also designed for specific things: to make posts, or put up art.  They weren't expected to be everything for everyone, and while DeviantArt had forums and chatrooms, you could do perfectly fine without them. (And I don't think the chatrooms were there when we first joined.)

However, as time has gone on and more folks are on the Internet more often, these sites have changed their design philosophy.  Instead of being made for folks to interact maybe a few times a week, they're now made to be posted on multiple times a day for long stretches.  They're also more generalized.  For instance, Facebook was originally intended for folks applying for college, or in college; now it's used to organize offline events and work engagements, catch up with people from your past, and have heated political arguments.  It has groups, events, chats, games, individual pages, all with very questionable security and ethics, and they sell the information for profit.

I don't think it's paranoid to say that a site like Facebook designs itself to be as omnipresent as possible so they can get as much information (and therefore as much profit) as they can from their users!  But I can say that it makes the site not a lot of fun to be on, for us anyway.  Even the nicest site in the world would get overwhelming and tiresome when you're encouraged to be there all the time!  And by trying to be everything for everyone, their designs tend to fall apart, because they're trying to do so many things at the same time.  So it becomes awfully byzantine (in the case of Facebook) or just plain incoherent and broken (like tumblr)!

Arguments and conflict happen on every website.  But when a site is designed to be used all the time, the rate of interaction as high as possible, then it means that instead of seeing conflict maybe once a month, you see it all the time, and that's its own kind of draining!  On the whole, I think that we are just not able to keep up with sites like that, and that it's bad for our health to try.

In other words, it's time to refocus our online energy to websites that are designed for fewer, more specific interactions!  Therefore, I personally vote in agreement for deleting our Facebook, continuing our low/no tumblr usage, and refocusing our attention on sites like Dreamwidth.


Queer Crip Pride shirts!

Sep. 16th, 2017 02:16 pm
lb_lee: A picture of Sneak smiling (sneak)
[personal profile] lb_lee
Hey guys, did you love the gorgeous textures and typography for our covers of the Homeless Year and Alter Boys In Love?  Awesome news, the designer friend who did those is now selling awesome queer disability pride shirts!  We're planning on buying the purple one with the pink 'disability pride' letters.

Also there's a sale going for about nine more hours, so snatch one on the cheap!

Woo, T-shirts!

--Sneak and Mori

Back from Texas!

Sep. 13th, 2017 02:29 pm
lb_lee: Miranda saying "REALITY" with airquotes. (realitylolz)
[personal profile] lb_lee
Hello all!  As you can see, we've returned from our trip, and it wasn't as bad as Mori feared.  We're rather tired, but I'll give the quick sum-up!
  • The con went very well.  The entire trip cost us less than thirty dollars, thanks to Rogan selling well.  Huzzah!
  • We took all the photographs we needed of our childhood neighborhood, and I daresay we are now prepared for future comics set there.  Well done, dears! (However, we did not get to visit Candle Cave.  That's all right, Biff got a good hike, and regardless, we went in presuming it would be a bonus, not a given.)
  • We got to see some people of our past, including a couple high school friends, and Dr. Drag. (Dr. Drag was our first therapist, though we have not had that sort of relationship in years.  She has mentions on this blog, probably buried under the 'therapy' tag.) Their generosity allowed us to make this trip, and we are very grateful.
  • Rogan finished Alter Boys In Love, but due to the printer's website being broken on Mozilla and some truly peculiar requests regarding our formatting, we have not managed to finish the order.  We hope to complete that today.
  • Due to the intense work schedule, and the emotional challenge of returning to our hometown, Rogan has been worn out.  He will not be fronting for a bit, and Mori, Biff, Sneak, and I will manage things until he has rested up.

Thank you for your patience!

(no subject)

Sep. 11th, 2017 11:34 am
foundcarcosa: (Default)
[personal profile] foundcarcosa
Sometimes they come back; sometimes I bring them back.

Autumn comes early to Michigan. I yearn for Vinternoll. I hear drumbeats distantly in my mind, slow and drugging and rhythmic.
So I play the songs for him. Within "Rotlaust tre fell" I wreathe myself in fur and frosty mist and brambles, and Can Calah smiles, and I laugh, and the gate opens.

I climb Igdrasiil. I see the Hanged Man. I keep climbing. The bark is rough under my hands, but thrums like veins. I look deep into Igdrasiil. It looks back. Within its trunk is the stream, the fount, the Wellspring. I lose my grip. I fall in. 
I am borne upward. I am borne forward. I am thrust into the intensity of a storm. Lightning freezes solid under my hands and I climb, I climb the lightning until I break through the storm clouds, thick as wool. I stand upon the surface of the clouds, and I look around me. I am lost. Forests rush past and through me; things stampede through it, flowing around me in packs. Or am I hurtling through the forest? Both, maybe.
I am thrown down a ravine. I land and the forest is gone -- or it was here, in this hollow far below, but it is now scorched earth. A lonely and dead expanse.

I am lost again. I was always lost. It was a Fool's errand. I don't know where Vinternoll is. I never did.
I lie upon the earth. All is still. The song changes-- "Helvegen", and snow begins to fall upon me. I am frozen, still and silent. All is still and silent in the halls of the dead.

I think I see him coming. I don't believe it. All is still and silent in the halls of the dead.

Fenrir races ahead of him, large and keen and shaggy. He sniffs at me. Snow blooms ahead of Vinternoll, covering the stark and dry land. Snow covers me too, but it doesn't feel like freezing. It is cold and warm. It is icy and soft. I blink my eyes open. Fenrir sniffs at me. Vinternoll approaches, curious, and crouches, supported by his walking staff, and passes his hand over my face, and the ice dissipates.

Did you come looking for me? he asks, amused.

He picks me up in his free arm. He is large, much larger than me. I curl into his body, and it is warm where his heart is. His heart is exposed, the cage of his ribs insubstantial, and his heart glows red and fiery. It is fiery. It is fire. I curl into it. I reach up to his face, which is cold. "Bjornsi," I whisper affectionately but unthinkingly.

He is amused. My name is not Bjorn.

"I know," I falter, confused. "I keep calling you that. I don't know why."

It is fine. I will be Bjornsi for you.

He walks, carrying me. Igdrasiil blooms like a lighthouse in the distance. I see Can Calah framed in its light, like a person framed in the doorway of a home, waiting for their loved one to come in out of the cold.
"He waits for me," I say, smiling.

The song is ending. Vinternoll relinquishes me unto Can Calah. He reaches up to Igdrasiil, embracing it, bonding with it.

The song ends. I open my eyes, I look to Can Calah. "Did I find him?"
Can Calah laughs. Was there any doubt?


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A Hivemind of Black Cats

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