152 posts categorized "shout outs"

May 12, 2008

Awesome


Via Angry Asian Man.

May 05, 2008

I Heart Jay Smooth

I have such an insane crush on Jay Smooth, you have no idea. I don't know which I like more: the way his lips move, or what comes out of them. Can I have both?

Mishima and Bodybuilding

You're welcome.

May 04, 2008

YouTube/Asia Society API Heritage Month Project

Awesome.

The Asia Society and YouTube have gotten together to post a series of videos from Asian Americans for API Heritage Month. They've started by posting vids about "What does being Asian American mean to me?" from luminaries like Sandra Oh, Kal Penn, and Yul Kwon, but it's open to any ol' slob ... like me. And I might just do it if  I can figure out how.

Clicky here to submit a vid or just watch the other ones.

May 02, 2008

What I'm Reading for API Heritage Month

Okay, having posted the CBS API Heritage Month list, what am I gonna read for it?

Well, I've already read:

  • Ted Chiang STORIES OF YOUR LIFE AND OTHERS
  • Haruki Murakami HARDBOILED WONDERLAND AND THE END OF THE WORLD

Yes, it's sad. That's all I've read.

I'm going to read:

  • Sesshu Foster ATOMIK AZTEX: I've actually read about half of this book but got distracted and didn't finish. So I'm going to start over and finish it.
  • Cathy Park Hong DANCE DANCE REVOLUTION: I've got it, I've started it, and I'm going to finish it.
  • Bryan Thao Worra ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE EYE: I've got it, I've started it, and I'm going to finish it. By the way, go order this book! Bryan is a member of the CBS Steering committee and decorated the envelope he sent this to me in with a personal poem. Cool.

May 01, 2008

Carl Brandon Society API Heritage Month Book List

Hi Everybody!

It's not only MayDay, the day when everybody in the world except capitalist ol' USA celebrates labor, but it's also the start of the American ASIAN PACIFIC ISLANDER HERITAGE MONTH.

Yes, it's time once again to celebrate the Asian and Pacific Islander AMERICANS in your life. Don't hesitate also to celebrate the Asian and Pacific Islander whatever else's in your life as well, though.

The Carl Brandon Society
, per our new Heritage Month book program, has come up with a list of recommended speculative fiction books by writers of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage. (These writers are not all American.)

The idea is for you to copy this list and put it on your blog, email it to your friends, take it to your local bookstore and ask them to post it or make a display of these books, etc. We also want you to READ SOME OF THESE BOOKS THIS MONTH! They're terrific!

If you do end up reading one or more of these books, or have another API-heritage SF writer to discuss, please consider participating in the Carl Brandon Society's API Heritage Month blog carnival. A carnival is basically a "magazine" of blog posts on a particular topic. You just post something on the topic on your own blog, and then submit your post to the carnival by clicking the link and then clicking on the orange "submit your blog article" button.

Okay, without further ado,

The CARL BRANDON SOCIETY recommends the following books of speculative fiction for
ASIAN AND PACIFIC ISLANDER HERITAGE MONTH:

  • Ted Chiang STORIES OF YOUR LIFE AND OTHERS

A collection of stories from one of American speculative fiction's most precise and beautiful writers.

  • Sesshu Foster ATOMIK AZTEX

An Aztec prince or a Los Angeles meatpacker? The protagonist travels back and forth between two alternative realities, never sure which is real.

  • Hiromi Goto HOPEFUL MONSTERS

Wonderful stories by the author of The Kappa Child.

  • Cathy Park Hong DANCE DANCE REVOLUTION

The story of a Korean uprising told in pidgin poetry.

  • Kazuo Ishiguro NEVER LET ME GO

In a dystopian England, three children discover that they are clones produced to provide organs to the sick.

  • Amirthi Mohanraj (illustrated by Kat Beyer) THE POET'S JOURNEY

A young poet sets out into the wide world on a journey to find poetry; with the help of a few magical creatures, she finds more than she ever expected.

  • Haruki Murakami HARDBOILED WONDERLAND AND THE END OF THE WORLD

Mad experiments with the unleashed potential of the dreaming brain.

  • Vandana Singh OF LOVE AND OTHER MONSTERS

The main character wakes up from a fire and doesn't know who he is, but can sense and manipulate the minds of others. He is not alone in this ability. Singh takes us on a metamind ride.

  • Shaun Tan THE ARRIVAL

A wordless graphic novel about immigration and displacement.

  • Bryan Thao Worra ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE EYE

Speculative poems that take us from the secret wars of the CIA in Laos to the secret edges of the human soul and the universe.

April 30, 2008

Awesome

via Angry Asian Man.

April 27, 2008

Blogging Beats, Amanda Marcotte, and Seal Press

Even a personal blog like this one has a beat. Although I'm a feminist and have been known to blog about women's issues on occasion, I don't consider myself in any way knowledgeable about feminism as a field. I read what I need to get on with my life and try to listen to more smarter and reader feminists than I. So I don't usually engage in discussions in the feminist blogosphere and the women of color blogosphere on my blog since there are tons of women out there saying the things I would have said if I knew enough, and saying it better.

I'm also allergic to appearing to be jumping on bandwagons, so when a discussion that doesn't fall within my specific beat is raging, I tend not to post about it myself. But on the other hand, I think meme-ing information is essential for its spread; that's the whole point of using the internet for political discussion. So it's puzzling to me to figure out how to pass news on in a way that feels natural to the functioning of my particular blog.

I've been following the flap about Pandagon blogger Amanda Marcotte and Woman of Color blogger brownfemipower. I've also been following the flap about Seal Press and its ill-judged response to women of color wanting more representation in the press. And I hadn't found a way to blog about it when the two flaps intensified exponentially by meeting in the middle. At this point, this is a story that needs to be passed on, whether I have anything of substance to say about it myself or not. And I suspect that some of my friends who read this blog may not have heard about this so I'm by way of performing a service ... or something.

So this post is just a pass-along. I'll list the relevant links to the sources of information at the bottom. To avoid link stack-up, if you intend to blog about this you might want to just link directly to the secondary sources below. (They're secondary since the original sources of the first two flaps are inaccessible.)

THE STORY SO FAR ...

Feminist independent publisher Seal Press came under fire this month for a discussion on a closed blog that I can't access. Apparently, in the post a woman of color expressed frustration that Seal Press didn't publish more books by women of color. The Seal Press editors responded in the comments defensively, saying they didn't get enough submissions by women of color, that it wasn't really their job to do outreach, and they didn't have the bandwidth anyway. They also said books by woc don't sell and accused the blogger of "hating," also stating that they knew the "you all engage best through negative discourse."

They eventually issued an explanation on their blog which ended up being edited without strikethroughs.

Independently of this flap, Pandagon blogger Amanda Marcotte ... well her wikipedia page puts it succinctly:

In April, 2008, Marcotte posted an essay entitled "Sexual Abuse Fueled by Abusive Immigration Language" on Alternet. In it, she discussed the intersections of racism and sexism as experienced by female illegal immigrants to the United States "without one attribute to any blogger of color, male or female." This led to allegations of appropriation on Marcotte's part ...

Numerous feminist bloggers pointed to Marcotte's actions as symbolic of a wider process of cultural and racial appropriation, in which the words and work of feminists of color are both given less value than those of white feminists, and co-opted by them. Several bloggers accused Marcotte of directly plagiarizing the work of another well-known blogger, Brownfemipower, as much of Marcotte's article appeared to be derived from Brownfemipower's work. These bloggers pointed to Brownfemipower's extensive history of highlighting immigration as a feminist issue and Marcotte's lack of history dealing with immigration on her blog, as well as Marcotte's previous admissions that she read Brownfemipower's blog regularly. Marcotte denied these allegations, claiming instead that she was inspired by a speech on a related subject delivered by Nina Perales of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Blogger Problem Chylde did a smoking gun on her in a post that linked every line of Marcotte's article to a post on Brownfemipower's Woman of Color blog where the wording was similar.

As a direct result of this flap, Brownfemipower stopped blogging and took her blog down. Now even back posts are inaccessible.

Women of color bloggers were linking these two incidents already when a new scandal arose, involving both Amanda Marcotte and Seal Press. Again from Marcotte's wikipedia page:

In 2008, Marcotte published her first book, entitled It's a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments. In August of 2007, Marcotte [had] posted an image of the chosen book cover on her blog; the image "was a retro-Hollywood pulp cover of a gorilla carrying a scantily clad woman." The image immmediately came under fire for perpetuating racist tropes, and, consequently, Marcotte and Seal Press changed the cover image.

When the book was finally released, it again set off controversy in the feminist blogosphere for use of images that many saw as racist. To illustrate the volume, the publishers used images taken from the 1950s Joe Maneely comic, Lorna, the Jungle Girl, which was chosen for its retro comic art look. The illustrations used included stereotypical images of "savage" black Africans being beaten up by a white, blond, superhero. Marcotte immediately issued an apology, adding that a second printing of It's A Jungle Out There will not contain illustrations.

The latest news is that blogger Blackamazon, who was directly involved in the original Seal Press flap, has taken down her blog as well.

My only comments to this are as follows:

Although it's shocking that all three of these happened at once, I'm glad they did. If they had happened separately, at a distance of months or years from each other, it would have been easier to gloss them over, as many are trying to do now. But, unfortunately for Marcotte and Seal Press, each incident--which in itself is relatively easy for the ignorant to explain away--bolsters and amplifies the women of color bloggers' interpretation of the other events, until it becomes difficult for any reasonable person to not say, "wait a minute ..."

And I also wish that Brownfemipower and Blackamazon hadn't taken down their blogs. I understand them needing a break, or perhaps even deciding not to blog anymore. And I also understand them not wanting their work to be raided nor to hear the awful comments people were leaving.

But their blogs were important public resources, and although the blogcott is a strong statement, it's one that's felt most powerfully by those bloggers' allies and readers, and NOT by the bloggers' opponents. In making a statement of relatively small impact to Marcotte and Seal Press, the rest of us are being more powerfully deprived.

Perhaps more to the point, this flap has drawn a lot of more mainstream attention to Brownfemipower and Blackamazon and I wish all the new readers who are going online looking for their blogs could actually be met with the wealth of information and intelligent commentary that was there to be seen.

Here are the links:

A description of the Amanda Marcotte/Brownfemipower flap at Feministe.

A description of the Seal Press not publishing enough women of color flap on WOC PhD.

The offensive images from It's a Jungle Out There on Dear White Feminists.

Black Amazon's sign off on Problem Chylde blog.

 

*****Update

Seal Press announced on their blog a few days ago their publication of a book entitled Tales from the Expat Harem: Foreign Women in Modern Turkey.

When commenters objected to the use of the word "harem," the editors responded:

The Turkish harem comes from the Arabic word Ḥarām, meaning "forbidden." It's a word that originally referred to the "women's quarters" and literally means "something forbidden or kept safe."

Tales from the Expat Harem is neither a sexist nor a racist title. Please, let's not look for the racially embedded wrong in every one of our books.

I left my opinion in the comments if you want to see it. I have only this to add: being criticized so heavily in public must be very hard, and the editors of  Seal Press must be smarting bad right now. I appreciate that.

But as another commenter pointed out, common sense would/should militate at this point against shooting back defensively. Probably the best thing for them to do is ride all this out with an occasional "thanks, we'll think about what you said." At least until the smarting goes away and they can breathe again.

April 22, 2008

Engineers On Cats


These are guys who have given up on ever getting laid again and have proactively kiboshed their sex lives.

The "corporal cuddling" and especially the "cat yodelling" made me cry.

April 01, 2008

I Knew That!

Space radiation endangers manned Mars expeditions.

Duh.

Hint: this is an issue in da nobble, WHICH I WILL START IN ON AGAIN THIS WEEK! YAY!

March 23, 2008

I'm Dying

March 20, 2008

In Which I Consider Supporting Obama

First, here's the whole speech, in five parts, hi-def:

I'm starting to change my mind about Obama. No, it's not because his baritone turns me on, or his sincerity, intelligence, charisma, and social consciousness get my panties all ... *sigh* ... YOU know. It's because he's a first class pander. Check it out:

"In no other country on Earth is my story even possible."

Argh. We all know it's just speechifying, but does he have to be so crass? Or maybe he's so used to playing the exotic for white American oafs, he really doesn't know how mundane his story is compared to the tragedy, mendacity, and exotic parallelism of other stories.

But seriously, that's just a throwaway line all whores politicians have to ... well, throw away. Where he really went onto the reservation was when he sold out his ... er ... "former" pastor, a guy he seems to have unloaded just before all this shit hit the fan. (I wonder why.)

Oh sure, sure, he made a lot of proud noises about how he could no more abandon his poor, old pastor--who was more like family than an advisor, mind you, although he was part of Obama's campaign as recently as late last year--than he could abandon his loving, white grandma, whom he also sold out in this speech. But really, saying that what your pastor (and, until recently, advisor) says in his speeches is just wrong wrong wrong wrong is ... well let's just say it rhymes with "shmelling shmout."

Doubt it? Dude, this is what he said about Wright's comments:

A profoundly distorted view of this country, a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America. A view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam. As such, Rev. Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity, racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems: two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis, and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but problems that confront us all.

Do you think he knows what "endemic" means? 'Cuz the PC consensus is that racism is endemic in America. To suggest it isn't is kinda turning back the clock. Oh yeah, and ignoring the deep-rootedness that makes it so persistent. And the whole "elevates what is wrong" bit? Barack, baby, you're denouncing him for seeing the glass as half empty? We get it, you're an optimist. Gah.

Now, the rest of us aren't privy to what Wright says in private about Israel, but his public statements? Duuude, you seem to be putting words in his mouth. Even the freakin' Anti-defamation League has no issue with him. See below. And then to add that whorish politically savvy throwaway line about radical Islam? I'll just leave the wad of cash on the bedside table, mmm?

I think these are all the Wright quotes Obama and pundits are responding to:

Seriously? Except for the AIDS genocide accusation, what part of what he said here isn't true? I mean, weren't YOU expecting Bush et al to plant WMDs? I was. I didn't count on the fact that most of America either wouldn't care that he was lying or wouldn't be literate enough to read about how he lieded. And this is all aside from the fact that that might simply have been a bitter joke.

But the best sellout is the money shot. After eloquently (seriously, my panties again) explaining the bitterness of old time activists like Wright, he actually went forth and paralleled the frustration of African Americans with the current dissatisfaction of middle-class white Americans who went and voted themselves into "two wars ... a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis, and potentially devastating climate change":

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience - as far as they're concerned, no one's handed them anything, they've built it from scratch. They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren't always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

Then repeat the platform and end on a note of hope in the next generation. (Young white girl and old black man. She joined the Obama campaign because her mother needed health care and she needed food. The ol' black man, of course, joined the Obama campaign for her. Magical. Like "Song of the South." You can almost see them tap dancing together at the DNC.)

Wow, recent white political doopidity = 400+ years of oppression? I love America!

And Barack's gonna let all the white liberals get away with it. He just said so.

So, all sarcasm aside, I'm beginning to believe that Barack is whorish enough to make a go of this politician thing. He's savvy enough to please his entire natural constituency. That was a tightrope walk of a speech and he sold the fuck out of it. And yeah, he'd sell his own grandmother for office ... in public.

I'm starting to love this guy for president. Maybe he'll be my slimeball. Too bad we're not gonna have a chance to see if the other slimeballs will let him play their reindeer games first.

March 02, 2008

The Dude Whisperer

I love advice columns. I looooooooove advice columns. I'll read any advice column about anything: bicycle maintenance, hiking tips, how to maximize your physics class, anything.

I especially like advice columns about sex and romance. And I've always wanted to be friends with a really cool advice columnist.

And guess what? Now I am!

My anonymous friend, husband of a longtime, also anonymous friend, has become famous (among friends) for interpreting dude behavior to women (he's a writer and that's, arguably, the job description). So now he's taking it to the public: he started a blog called The Dude Whisperer, and is open for business.

Check it out, especially if you have a dude question. Warning: he's a dude, so he has a tendency to say "I don't know" when he doesn't know, unlike Cary Tennis, but that's why I love The Dude Whisperer.

February 24, 2008

Reading with Ed Lin & Lisa Chen

Hey Yay Area peeps, there's a reading tomorrow night at EastWind Books of Berkeley (right near the Cal campus on University) co-sponsored by Hyphen mag. I'll be there and hope to see some of you out there too.

Ed Lin & Lisa Chen
Ed Lin will be reading from his latest novel about New York Chinatown: This Is A Bust.  Lisa Chen will be reading from her new poetry book:  Mouth. These two New Yorkers will be at our store in Berkeley on Monday, February 25th at 7:30pm. Join us to celebrate the conclusion of the Lunar New Year! Sponsored by Hyphen Magazine and Eastwind.

I Love Orwell

I was talking to Tisa tonight and brought up Orwell's essay "Shooting an Elephant." After we got off the phone I looked it up on the web to send to her and found this website about him created for his 100th birthday (in 2003).

I went through some of the essays. It's been a few years since I engaged with Orwell at all. And I re-read "Why I Write," which I last read about five years ago, looking for something to give my students. I remember thinking it didn't suit my purpose exactly back then. Truth be told, I always read pieces from writers about why they write, looking for similarities to lovely ol' moi.

I remember the part in this essay where Orwell writes about writing a running description of his life in his head as it is happening. I did that, although at a much younger age: from 7 to about 10 or so.

But the stuff about politics and aesthetics didn't land with me last time. This time they did. Observe:

Putting aside the need to earn a living, I think there are four great motives for writing, at any rate for writing prose. They exist in different degrees in every writer, and in any one writer the proportions will vary from time to time, according to the atmosphere in which he is living. They are:

  1. Sheer egoism. Desire to  seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen -- in short, with the whole top crust of humanity. The great mass of human beings are not acutely selfish. After the age of about thirty they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all -- and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery. But there is also the minority of gifted, willful people who are determined to live their own lives to the end, and writers belong in this class. Serious writers, I should say, are on the whole more vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money.
  2. Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story. Desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed. The aesthetic motive is very feeble in a lot of writers, but even a pamphleteer or writer of textbooks will have pet words and phrases which appeal to him for non-utilitarian reasons; or he may feel strongly about typography, width of margins, etc. Above the level of a railway guide, no book is quite free from aesthetic considerations.
  3. Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.
  4. Political purpose -- using the word "political" in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples' idea of the kind of society that they should strive after. Once again, no book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.

... Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it. It seems to me nonsense, in a period like our own, to think that one can avoid writing of such subjects. Everyone writes of them in one guise or another. It is simply a question of which side one takes and what approach one follows. And the more one is conscious of one's political bias, the more chance one has of acting politically without sacrificing one's aesthetic and intellectual integrity.

What I have most wanted to do throughout the past ten years is to make political writing into an art. My starting point is always a feeling of partisanship, a sense of injustice. When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, "I am going to produce a work of art." I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing. But I could not do the work of writing a book, or even a long magazine article, if it were not also an aesthetic experience. Anyone who cares to examine my work will see that even when it is downright propaganda it contains much that a full-time politician would consider irrelevant. I am not able, and do not want, completely to abandon the world view that I acquired in childhood. So long as I remain alive and well I shall continue to feel strongly about prose style, to love the surface of the earth, and to take a pleasure in solid objects and scraps of useless information. It is no use trying to suppress that side of myself. The job is to reconcile my ingrained likes and dislikes with the essentially public, non-individual activities that this age forces on all of us.

... I will only say that of late years I have tried to write less picturesquely and more exactly. In any case I find that by the time you have perfected any style of writing, you have always outgrown it. ... Looking back through the last page or two, I see that I have made it appear as though my motives in writing were wholly public-spirited. I don't want to leave that as the final impression. All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention. And yet it is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one's own personality. Good prose is like a windowpane. I cannot say with certainty which of my motives are the strongest, but I know which of them deserve to be followed. And looking back through my work, I see that it is invariably where I lacked a political purpose that I wrote lifeless books and was betrayed into purple passages, sentences without meaning, decorative adjectives and humbug generally.

Sigh, it's hard to excerpt Orwell. Everything he writes has a purpose in the whole. But anyway ... what he said.

I don't know if ... well, actually I DO know. I know that this didn't land with me five years ago because I last read this BEFORE I started Da Nobble, which began as a desire to expose a lie: more specifically, I wanted to write a book with a shrewd Asian male protagonist who didn't know any martial arts and had stature for any other reason than being able to kick people's asses.

As I wrote, I discovered that there were more and more lies which could be addressed in the story: things about women and men, about sex, sexuality, and gender, about race and immigration and colonizing and expansion and exploitation, and on and on and on. And in the process I guess I really did become a political writer, although perhaps I wrote politically before then.

I used to say these things, hoping to believe them, but now they actually mean something.

I don't know that I have much more of a point than this. Stuff I'm thinking about. Orwell good.

February 18, 2008

Reading Update

I'm getting off to a slow start this year.

I tried re-reading A Tale of Two Cities, which I found in a discount bin at the library, but threw it across the room about five times and five's my limit. I have no idea how I managed to obsess about, much less tolerate Victorian novels when I was in my early twenties. There's so much boring crap in them it's hard to sit still long enough to get to the good stuff!

The representation of women, I can start and finish there. Argh. I know what's past is past, but do I have to read it? I couldn't bear another moment of the pure and delicate little woman--whom it took four men and another, not so pure and delicate, woman to protect--inspiring everyone with her beauty and perfection. And when the good guy/husband decided that his honor couldn't withstand avoiding a suicidal mission back to revolutionary France, I just couldn't take it anymore. Old-fashioned prejudices are forgiveable; stupidity isn't. How did I ever get through this book the first time?

Then I walked into a new bookstore and, just out of idleness, went to YA and looked for Diane Duane, and discovered that all of the Wizard books have been re-released in a series of 8, with apparently more on the way! I had discovered the original editions of these books in a used bookstore and hadn't bothered to look them up on Amazon, so I didn't know they were still in print!

They're very cool, by the way, and I highly recommend them for da kiddies. One note: the first few were written in the eighties and nineties and have a few items here and there that are badly dated. Particularly the third one, High Wizardry, first published in 1990, which is about the first young wizard whose wizardry manual is not a book but software. She gets a magically small and portable computer (yes, a laptop), which can program entire planets, and runs on a rechargeable battery! (!)

I have to say, the third one was my least favorite of all the ones I've read so far (I've read five now). Not so much because it screeched over the lane divider between fantasy and science fiction, but because the protagonist of this one was not our real protagonist, but her annoying little sister.

I'm an annoying little sister, so perhaps people don't understand why I loathe annoying little sisters (like Dairine in Duane's books, or Dawn in the Buffyverse.) Let me break it down for you:

I
am the protagonist of my own story. Therefore, I identify with the protagonist of the story at hand. If that protag is an older sister, then I am going to identify with the older sister, and be able to imagine having an annoying younger sister whom I want to stomp on. I am not going to have--or want--the self-awareness to see myself as an annoying little sister, peripheral to the main action. Geddit?

In fact, I would imagine that actual older sisters might have an easier time identifying or finding sympathy with the annoying little sister characters because they have practice in that in real life. We annoying little sisters have training in dealing with hand-me-downs and condescension; we have NO training in dealing with responsibility for younger siblings, and we don't want any, thanks.

So, being someone who identifies with the protag, I'm not at all interested in seeing the annoying little sister become the protag. All that does is push the character I identify with aside.

Okay, what I've read of Duane so far:

So You Want to Be a Wizard Fab
Deep Wizardry Fab with whales
High Wizardry Meh with little sisters, computers, and aliens
A Wizard Abroad Fabbish return to fantasy with Ireland and a bit of a love interest; too many characters get to Be The Hero, tho'. Like I hinted above, I want just the identity character to be the hero, thanx.
The Wizard's Dilemma Doubleplus Fab dealybob with dying mother and the eeevil temptation of Seitan. Or Satan, whatever.

Plus, I love that the characters are growing up and dealing with decreasing powers as they get older. I thought this might be a problem with the series when the idea was first introduced, but Duane is handling it just fine, and it's making the character development increasingly complex and interesting.

Yay!

February 16, 2008

Class Privilege Meme Redux

So I've been touring other blog posts about the class privilege meme and have found some interesting stuff.

Half Changed World breaks down how money and social capital are two different aspects of class.

Education and Class sez:

How, in this age of multi-media and instantaneous communication, have so many people grown up oblivious to the circumstances of other people’s lives?

And in the end, how do we explain all of this defensiveness among those who clearly have attained the Great American Dream?

Rachel's Tavern points out that while she and her family were privileged, the community they lived in wasn't, and that put her at a certain disadvantage.

Dang. These folks are all going into my bloglines.

February 05, 2008

What I'm Reading in February

Okay, first of all, what I have read from the Carl Brandon List:

  • 47 by Walter Mosley
  • Stormwitch by Susan Vaught
  • Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu
  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
  • and parts of So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction & Fantasy edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan

I can highly recommend all of them, especially the Butler book, which is my favorite of hers, and So Long Been Dreaming, which gives you a great spread of POC spec fic.

What I'm not going to tackle at this time:

  • Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany

'Cause apparently, it's a mouthful, double entendre intended. I'm saving it for much later.

So this month I will try to get through the rest of the list, in this order, if I can get these books in this order, i.e. in order of authors I haven't read yet first:

  • Mindscape by Andrea Hairston
  • Wind Follower by Carole McDonnell
  • The Coyote Kings of the Space Age Bachelor Pad by Minister Faust
  • My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due
  • Futureland by Walter Mosley
  • The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu

I seriously do not expect to get through this list in one, short month. I'll be happy if I make it to the Minister Faust.

Who's reading with me?

February 04, 2008

Carl Brandon's Black History Month List

Hey all,

As many of you know, I'm on the steering committee of The Carl Brandon Society, an organization dedicated to increasing representation of people of color in the speculative genres. We've polled our members and come up with a recommended reading list of speculative fiction books by black authors for Black History Month.

The idea is for you to read these books this month, forward this list around to your friends, take this list into your local bookstores and ask them to display these books this month, post the list on your blogs and websites, etc. I hope you'll all strongly consider at least picking up one of these books and falling into it. It's a wonderful list, and your February will be improved!

So, without further ado:

THE CARL BRANDON SOCIETY
recommends the following books for BLACK HISTORY MONTH:

  • So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction & Fantasy edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan
  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
  • Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany
  • My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due
  • The Coyote Kings of the Space Age Bachelor Pad by Minister Faust
  • Mindscape by Andrea Hairston
  • Wind Follower by Carole McDonnell
  • Futureland by Walter Mosley
  • The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu
  • Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu

And the 2005 CARL BRANDON SOCIETY AWARD Winners:

• PARALLAX AWARD given to works of speculative fiction created by a person of color:
47 by Walter Mosley

• KINDRED AWARD given to any work of speculative fiction dealing with issues of race and ethnicity; nominees may be of any racial or ethnic group:
Stormwitch
by Susan Vaught

(cross-posted at Other magazine blog.)

January 31, 2008

Late to the Game

This is pretty awesome.

January 21, 2008

MLK Day Meme

via Chrome Kitten.

Hope you had a good one.

January 15, 2008

Skratch Kids

Holy Shit. This is super viral right now, but ... damn.

December 31, 2007

Ten Good Things about 2007

More lists. I have lots of year-turn listiness, just like everyone else.

Let's be honest: 2007 sucked for me. It wasn't a good year. But in the name of positivity and not being such a bummer all the time (a resolution for 2008?) I'm going to list at least 10 things, personal or general, that were good about 2007. Please overlook if they actually happened in 2006.

1. I now have health insurance. It's not Heaven, but it's a fairly cool thing to have, especially when pulling out your credit card to pay for those life-giving pharmaceuticals you depend on.

2. Charlie the obese cat lost four (count 'em, 4!) pounds on the strict and consistent diet I put him on this year. This was just confirmed by a visit to the vet today. He had lost two by July, and another 2 or 2.5 in the second half of the year. This is good on many levels. If I can impose discipline on a cat when I'm having a bummer year, then maybe I can impose discipline on myself. Plus, no diabetes for Charlie (maybe ... he still has another two or three pounds to go, the fatness.) Plus, Charlie in general is an unmitigated good.

3. Having conversations with my niece, who is now officially a Young Lady.

4. Watching Hillary Clinton's campaign go from pie-in-the-sky to A Real, Strong Possibility. This time last year, I was yelling at my parents and everybody else I know for parroting that self-fulfilling prophecy/received notion "I like Hillary but she can't win." I haven't heard that idiocy in at least nine months. Go team Hillary. Does this mean the Democratic party has stopped being utterly incompetent?

5. My friends. I take them somewhat for granted, but my friends kick everybody else's friends' asses. I've hung out with your friends, people, and I don't like them as much as mine. I have better friends than you. I would be lost and friendless without them. Literally. This includes not-historically-so-close friends whom I have become closer to this year, for reasons I shall not elaborate on, except to say that there was more room on my attention plate this year than in previous years, hallelujah.

6. The Whole Foods store that opened up near my house. I'm sorry, but yummy, expensive, foodie food rocks.

7. Lake Merritt. Birds, people, birds. The smell of brine, the birds floating on top, fighting the current. The fluffy egrets and honky gooses. The shrieking little kids, making a hole in the sea o' birds. The wondrous bird, the pelican, whose beak can hold more than its ... you know. Herons. Seagulls cracking molluscs by dropping them from a great height. Beautiful jogging men. Not necessarily in that order.

8. My parents, who are getting old and creaky, but are still my parents. They're repeating themselves in earnest, but they're still sweet. Plus, they give good Christmas present.

9. Trip to the Philippines. Exciting and fun and interesting. There are two more trips planned next year ... maybe more. Travel with a purpose is definitely good.

10. My new red bike with wicker basket. 'Nuff said.

11. New job skillz learned, despite the tedium of my job. That, in fact, is a job skill. Yes, it's good. I insist.

12. Reading, which is still good. Very.

13. Being able to watch TV on the internet, which in itself is good, although a lack of discipline may make it seem ungood.

14. Buncha people getting married this year, and starting to have babies. Here's to life moving on, and people (not me) giving up their eternal young-adulthood for ... other stages.

That's more than ten. Hallelujah! A good year!

December 21, 2007

Top Ten Novels

Inspired, or expired, or despired, by all the year-end top ten lists, plus something I saw somewhere about writers' top ten novels lists, I've decided to do my own top ten novels list.

But, of course, there has to be a caveat. This is not necessarily the top ten best novels I've ever read. That would be too difficult, given my moodiness. These are, rather, the novels that created my understanding of what novels are, broke that understanding and remade it, added to it substantially, or, in at least one case, helped define a whole area of things that novels shouldn't be. This is a litany of idiosyncratic reading experiences; not everyone--or even most ones--would have the same eye-opening experience upon reading these books, although I can heartily recommend all of them, and, in fact, do. This is really just a reading memoir, really. And I hate memoir. And redundancy.

Also, there are more than ten, as you will have immediately noticed. But Top Ten just rolls off the tonguish.

  1. The Dark is Rising: I wrote about it recently so I don't have to repeat, but this is a peculiar and beautiful little jewel of a book: not logical, nor perfectly structured--as YA and fantasy and YA fantasy must usually be--but intuitive and grand and cold and mysterious and ritually layered and smart and adult and complex all at once. I never found an age-specific book to match it because there is none, and it didn't so much confirm my childhood reading as point away from it, into the possibilities beyond.
  2. Pride & Prejudice: is so popular right now it hardly needs more elegy (or more accurately, rhapsody) added to its account. But beyond the "romance", which I started finding suspect at a fairly young age, P&P remains a favorite because it is so damned perfectly structured. I've read it twenty times (no exaggeration) and the structure never fails to usher me through the same emotional experience. You can become so accustomed to something that you sicken of it; you can build a tolerance to drugs; but a perfect narrative arc somehow never fails to raise your blood pressure at the right moment, even when you know what's coming better than you know the feeling of your own birthday.
  3. Jane Eyre: people pass over the weirdness of JE, I think because it's weird and that makes people uncomfortable. But weird is what happens when you take the sketchiness of a fairy tale and inhabit it with complex characters. I don't mean what Gregory Maguire does. Wicked and ilk is just a more complex formula. I mean, when you play out fairy dust in the real world, to its logical conclusion. When wives go mad and husbands are half-wild and damagingly entitled, and a half-benevolent, half-malicious universe intervenes to allow women of spirit to both escape, and be enslaved, in equal measure. JE is an anomaly among Victorian novels not because every single aspect of it wasn't a rampant trend of its era, but because Bronte committed absolutely to every device, and every line, took all of it absolutely seriously, rather than allowing herself genre and ironic distance like all the mens did. The result is Emily Dickenson weird, like focusing on flies' buzzing, or how to paint a billow, or the expression on a dog's face at twilight, when the universe shrugs to startle the master's horse.
  4. One Hundred Years of Solitude: hardly needs commentary either. Again, this was an issue of structure for me, a lesson in how Pride & Prejudice five-act fiction wasn't the only way to go about it. My first spiral structure, and induction into the pleasures of varying velocity. I didn't see it until the end, but the final sentence of Solitude tells you all you need to know about the book ... but only if you've already read the book. So it was also my first experience with that successful paradox of show vs. tell. And the book, also paradoxically, while falling me in love with lush lyricism (just like everyone else), was actually what put me on the road towards a more stripped down prose ... because once Garcia-Marquez has rained petals from the sky to mourn the death of a patriarch, what more can I or anyone do? Plus, an experience of pure, extended beauty. Truly. I was in a daze for a week. One of my few moments with the ecstasy of writing, felt while reading.
  5. The Dispossessed: Rather a dry experience, compared with all of the preceding, but a book that set me intellectually on fire because it was the first political novel I ever read. I mean, sure, I had to read Upton Sinclair and Orwell and Steinbeck and Uncle Tom in high school, but when the politics of the book is over--and come to think of it, all of those were books about political situations that had been largely resolved, although they left a mean residue--so is the book's impact. The Dispossessed was something of a complicated utopian novel, the first one I ever read after all the dystopias I read in high school (1984, A Clockwork Orange, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451). I'd never experienced a political world that I so wanted to inhabit, nor felt the representation of a political reality better than the one I already inhabited. I'm no revolutionary, and I wouldn't go so far as to say the book created an activist of me. But what I have been able to do since then is at least partly enabled by the awakening of my political imagination ... something very different from political consciousness and much more essential to the workings of true democracy.
  6. The Joy Luck Club/The Woman Warrior: I'd be the first to scream if someone else glommed these two together, but I have to put them together because in my mind, they are the good and bad sides of the same coin, and the one didn't take effect on me until the other one had been thoroughly assimilated (used advisedly). I read Woman Warrior in high school, after picking it out of a used books bin in--where else?--SF Chinatown as a tween. It kinda fascinated me and kinda turned me off, partly because I was looking for some reading experience I could finally identify with, and, although I recognized the universal Chinese mother, Kingston--like any good writer--took care to make her mom an individual rather than a universal, and a Chinatown girlhood isn't the same as a hapa midwestern suburban girlhood. The other turnoff was her careful and fabulist deconstruction of novel, memoir, and superhero/hero's journey narrative. I was not at an age to appreciate that.

    Then in college I was home for the summer and helped my mom out with a cocktail party she threw without being asked and she was very impressed with my sudden maturity--I had always previously bellyached about having to greet and serve guests. When I finished the dishes I retired to my room and that night she left her new hardcopy of Joy Luck Club outside my door with a note thanking me for my help and telling me I was a good daughter (underscore hers). That's my mom all over: half serious, half self-reflectively ironic. I still have the book, and the note, and, although my bitchy mind started deconstructing the book almost immediately, I recognized in Joy Luck the orthodox version of the unsatisfying meta-memoir in Woman Warrior. At the time, I uneasily thought of Joy Luck as the better book. I now recognize Woman Warrior as the ur-text, the brilliant, unique one, which had to be tamed before it could be codified as the arc of the assimilating immigrant. I've written about this in Hyphen magazine and won't bore anyone with it here, but this was my beginning as an Asian American writer.

  7. Howard's End: Modernism wouldn't have made much sense to anyone without Forster to bridge the gap and I'm no exception. And just as everyone takes what they want from Modernism and leaves the rest, I went forward in my reading only to eventually go a step or two backwards to Forster. He introduced me to the deconstruction of the third and fourth dimensions ... but gently. Howard's End, with its timeless mansions and perpetually updating railways, is the novel of space/time compression fighting it out with imperialist expansion. I didn't experience any of that my last two years of college, but I did feel the way Forster messed with the reader's experience of time, so that important moments pass in a sentence, and untangling their implications is the quotidian work of the rest of the novel. With a little hindsight I can see that Howard's End--all of Forster, really, since I gobbled his entire oeuvre in a year--slammed the door on the following classics: Jane Austen and her manners insulated from the source of their wealth (see Tisa Bryant on Mansfield Park), and Charlotte Bronte and her Indies-plantation-owning-African-mission-going romantic males. Forster's literary heir is really Orwell.
  8. Middlemarch: Speaking of steps backward, my big discovery during my grand tour of Europe after college was Eliot. I went and read more and more and more Victorian-era novels: all of the Brontes that I had missed, all of Elizabeth Gaskell and Wilkie Collins, Turgenev, Dostoevsky and Tostoi, maybe a little Georges Sand ... and of course, all all all of Eliot. And--not to diss the intellect of all of the preceding, especially Forster, but Eliot's oeuvre--Daniel Deronda, Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, and especially Middlemarch--were my first encounter with fiction written by an intellectual writer and critic with a broad understanding of her time and a clear and expressive (rather than emotional and expressionistic) prose style. It's hard to rhapsodize about effectively, but emotional intelligence, breadth of vision, passion for people, and the ability to inhabit every stage of perspective, is my definition of genius thanks to George Eliot. She influences me more than I ever know when I'm in the midst of writing, and if I had to choose only one writer to emulate, Eliot would be the one.
  9. Cosmicomics: Not a novel, of course, but close enough to make a difference. Beautiful, weird and whimsical, funny, and with a simultaneously light and heavy touch ... everything I have written since I started reading Cosmicomics has been an attempt--in its way--to reproduce the effect of that book. It's that (to me) horrifying construction, a book of linked short stories, that remakes the novel, and indeed the short story for me. Not because of any structural or space/time funkiness--once you get past the sci-fi-y surface, these stories are very traditional--but because the ideas are so lovely Calvino just sort of ... doubled them back on each other, for the fuck of it. My most purely loved book on this list.
  10. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius please don't try to tell me this isn't a novel. And no, I'm not interested anymore in that discussion about the memoir/novel or the novelistic memoir, or the true novel or the fictional autobiography. Suffice it to say the lines have been blurred, who cares by whom? It's all the--by now--GenX clichés Eggers wielded with excellence (yes, excellence) that make this book for me. Maybe I'm slow but it blew my little mind in 1999 and made a permanent dent. Eggers remains the only writer of my generation who has successfully blown my mind. (Lethem has also blown my mind, but not with a single book. Not that that's less valuable than the single-book-mind-blow, but that doesn't play as well on top ten lists.) Eggers is a negative influence. All due respect, but I have to fight hard not to write like him. He set up some rhythms and phrasing tricks that are so. damn. easy. to imitate.
  11. Parable of the Sower: My introduction to Octavia Butler. I've written about her here and here and don't feel like getting into it again. She found me a way to write science fiction, something I had always wanted to write but couldn't find a way to do while incorporating all my Asian American issues. 'Nuff said.
  12. Mumbo Jumbo: And finally, the book that answered my lingering questions about how I want to--and can--write what it is I have to write. Or put another way: what do I actually have to write. Reed gave me the structure of a process for using the code-switchy language of my actual life and not the prettified standard language Asian Americans are supposed to learn to get a dialogue with the power butlers. Reed teaches that surface and depth can be completely connected, so your linguistic polyrhythms can show and tell about what mainstream American wants to dismiss as schizophrenia simultaneously. Complex and challenging, but not white noise; a wall of word noise textured with different weights of meaning. A language that cites its sources moment by moment. Aleluja!

December 12, 2007

Multi Facial

Somebody finally posted it:


This is why I love Vin Diesel.

December 11, 2007

Pritty X-mas Decorations

You're welcome.

November 19, 2007

Jennifer Beals at GLAAD awards

Jennifer Beals is way too awesome.

November 14, 2007

A Serving of Love

Decorative_letters_here's a brief clip from Robynn Takayama's RJ Lozada's newly released documentary, A Serving of Love, about the recently passed community leader Bill Sorro. My friend Robynn Takayama was intrinsic to the project as well. Check out the website for more clips and information about Bill.

(cross-posted at atlas(t): Galleon Trade.)

October 27, 2007

More on Arts Criticism

The truly lovely John Darnielle tries to make peace between his own more positive nature, and the point of view in this idolator post by Jess Harvell.

Harvell, calling out mindless rah-rah in online music crit, sez:

Bands need someone calling them on their shit to improve past the status of a hobby. Empty boosterism is fine on the level of bands playing house parties, but it feels almost cruel to watch its effects on suddenly "important" young bands in 2007 and depressing to watch its effects on the musical landscape of 2007. And calling it criticism with a straight face is the biggest canard of the blog era.

... If nothing else, people always love to argue about whether or not critics and reviews are useful as a "buyer's guide," and many have also argued that if music is as oversaturated as everyone says at the moment, it follows that the intermediaries should be more important than ever, even if the MP3-and-no-contextual-information evidence seems to say that the converse is true. Taste is subjective, but right now there are a lot of untrustworthy voices out there, voices with little in the way of insight--hell, voices that don't even really want to start arguments--and yet are nonetheless regarded as the New Critics, at least among those old media types with the power to anoint such empty titles.

... It's easy to have a lot of friends when you don't stand for anything--again, having opinions is called "hating" these days--and it's equally easy to look like you're merely out to snarkily puncture hype with no stance of your own when commenting on reviews and trends. But for the bands' sakes--which means for the listeners' sakes, since they can only benefit by a band actually getting, you know, good--a moratorium on slobbering praise, at least when it comes to newborn bands like Black Kids, needs to be imposed by those with the kingmaking abilities.

Darnielle responds:

The ideal would be criticism that aspired neither to praise nor to damn, but to understand and elucidate; the ideal would involve not wanting to help or hinder the object of one's scrutiny, but to fairly describe it. That would be real progress toward something rigorous and difficult and exciting, and...well: does that sound like something our culture, macro or micro, is really equipped to do at this point in our history?

Boy, this is all sounding so familiar.

As much as I--as a massive MG fan--want to kiss Darnielle's ass, I have to agree more with Harvell here (and obviously have in the past, as my own post makes clear.) Darnielle's not really saying anything other than: "That way lies too much negativity. Can we find some middle ground? ... well, probably not."

And he's right. There's no competent or useful middle ground between "criticism exists to knowledgeably and expertly evaluate the arts as a proxy for audiences," and "criticism exists to sell arts," and "criticism exists as an outlet for the feelings of rank amateurs excited about the effect the arts have begun to have on them."

You have to pick one and stick to it. And the real problem that causes all this discussion is that there's plenty of the latter two, but not nearly enough of the first.

October 15, 2007

I'd Rather Be Blogging

My stepcousin Sean has started a new blog for geeks, geekery, and geekiness called "I'd Rather Be ____". I guess nobody told him about the blogosphere ...

You'll find it here.

October 08, 2007

Come See Me Read!

Hey there, all! Yes, it's Litquake time again! Yes, I'm reading again during the very cool Lit Crawl. I'll be in Phase III from 8 to 8:45:

Mission Laundromat, 3282 22nd Street Lit Journals: Authors from On the Page and Tea Party Magazines Blair Campbell, Deborah Crooks, John Dylan Keith, Clara Hsu, Claire Light, Craig Santos Perez

Hope to see some of you out and about that night! I might even ... we'll see ... do a "blog reading," an as yet undefined type of performance which I might not have time to experiment with. We'll see ...

Readin' Update

Just tore through Naomi Novik's fourth Temeraire book Empire of Ivory. I just can't believe how well she maintains the aliveness and unique species character of all the dragons. If it's that easy, why don't everbody do it?

So happy.

September 24, 2007

Jena 6

This was aimed at A-list political bloggers, not anywun like li'l ol' me, but the point is well-taken. I haven't blogged about the Jena 6 because I've been extremely poopy on blogging lately and haven't blogged much about anything.

But that's a cheap excuse. So here are some links. If you haven't already, go inform yourself about a ridiculously racist case against some black teens that looks like it's in the midst of blowing up in da man's face.

August 28, 2007

Bachelor Parties as Black Holes

I usually hate Cary Tennis, but I love him today.

Some incredibly dumb woman is stressing because her husband is going to a bachelor party where the groom's best woman friend will be.

He is going to a bachelor party. You have said, "That's cool. I'm cool with that." But it's so outrageously lame it makes you want to set fire to the couch. But you are so used to going, That's cool, that it will take you a few minutes to realize that you really want to set fire to the couch. So remove all the matches from the house before you really start thinking about this.

A chick is going to be at the bachelor party, but that doesn't matter either because the bachelor party doesn't matter and she can't do anything anyway because she ceases to exist when she enters the bachelor party because the bachelor party is like temporary black hole. The only difference -- and this is the lamest thing of all -- is that the black hole is not even a real black hole, just a temporary black hole, like one of those bounce houses set up on the crabgrass for a kid's party.

So mix a few drinks, watch some reruns of "Dallas" and try not to kill yourself.

All advice columnists should be like this all the time. Seriously, that was my LOL for today.

August 24, 2007

One African American Reading List

In the course of this ongoing discussion of race and literature, David Anthony Durham gave a commenter on his blog a recommended reading list -- but only in the comments. I hope he doesn't mind my reposting it here--mainly because I want to save a record of it for my own use.

Go Tell it on the Mountain, by James Baldwin (First novel by a famous black literary novelist, about coming of age, identity, religion, race.)

The Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler (The only novel by a sci-fi novelist here – a tale of a near future with a world in increasing chaos, brutal and grim, but also poignantly hopeful as well. If you haven't read her please do. I think she was terrific, and I'm disappointed I'll never get the chance to meet her.)

Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison (Classic with a capitol C. His notion of invisibleness of African Americans became a central theme and metaphor regarding race in America.)

Angel of Harlem, by Kuwana Haulsey (A young, contemporary author. This is basically a biopic novel about the first black female physician in New York. That was a rather amazing accomplishment considering that the medical community didn’t think blacks – much less a female as well – were anatomically capable of higher thinking.)

Hunting in Harlem, by Mat Johnson (Another young author, decidedly urban, with a bit of the “thriller” to it.)

The Kind of Light That Shines on Texas, by Reginald McKnight (Interesting short stories with quite a bit of range.)

Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison. (Toni can be tough to get into, but she's worth the effort. I think Beloved is one of the best novels written - ever. I mention this one, though, cause it's darn good to, and bit more accessible.)

Little Scarlet, by Walter Mosley (This is a crime novel and can be enjoyed as such. I also think it’s shot right through with insightful – and sometimes confrontational – thoughts on wearing dark skin in the US.)

I’d be being coy if I didn’t mention my own books, Gabriel’s Story and Walk Through Darkness. I’m very proud of them, and believe they’re accessible and plot-driven at the same time as they're meant to hit some deeper themes.

I can second the Octavia Butler, Walter Mosley, and, of course, Ralph Ellison picks. And I have to admit that Song of Solomon really didn't do anything for me. Everything else is going on my wishlist.

August 23, 2007

Teh Awesome! Marianne Moore and Edsel

I did not know this. Did you know this? The Ford Company invited poet Marianne Moore to contribute names for the car that was eventually named the Edsel. I found it on Wikipedia, and really hope it's true:

David Wallace, Manager of Marketing Research, and coworker Bob Young unofficially invited poet Marianne Moore for input and suggestions. Wallace's rationale was, "who better to understand the nature of words than a poet."

Moore, a loyal Ford owner, submitted numerous lists, which included "Silver Sword," "Thundercrest" (and "Thundercrester"), "Resilient Bullet," "Intelligent Whale," "Pastelogram," "Andante con Moto," "Varsity Stroke," and "Mongoose Civique." (One name she suggested, "Chaparral," later, coincidentally, was used for a racing car.) Against the strong objection from her brother, Moore also submitted the name TURCOTINGA, which was a play on the Cotinga (a South American bird) and the color turquoise. However, she noted in her letter to Wallace that it was simply a suggestion, and that if she wanted to go in direction of nature, she had several volumes of works that she could review. In a letter dated December 8, 1955, Moore wrote the following:

Mr. Young,
May I submit UTOPIAN TURTLETOP? Do not trouble to answer unless you like it. Marianne Moore

All these outside ideas were rejected, although Miss Moore received two dozen roses and a thank you note affectionately addressed to the Top Turtletop, which Moore found amusing. In her reply to Young, she regretted that she could not have been more help, and noted that she was looking forward to trying out the vehicle when it was introduced.

Turcotinga!

August 07, 2007

International Blog Against Racism Week 07

Yay!

Oyceter over at LJ is again hosting International Blog Against Racism Week.

Da rulez:


  1. Announce the week in your blog.

  2. Switch your default icon to either an official IBAR week icon, or one which you feel is appropriate. To get an official IBAR week icon, you may modify one of yours yourself or ask someone to do so. Here's a round up of IBARW icons.

  3. Post about race and/or racism: in media, in life, in the news, personal experiences, writing characters of a race that isn't yours, portrayals of race in fiction, review a book on the subject, etc. (Linking back here is highly appreciated!)

You KNOW ima participate. Howzabout you?

Here's Oyce's links roundup so far.

(Cross-posted on Other Magazine blog.)

July 26, 2007

Carl Brandon Society Awards Nominations Close Soon!

I've been sadly remiss in announcing this:

The Carl Brandon Society is accepting nominations for its Kindred and Parallax awards until July 31. You have four days, people! Get on it!

The Carl Brandon Parallax Award is given to works of speculative fiction created by a person of color. Nominees must provide a brief statement self-identifying as a person of color; creators unwilling to do so will not be considered for this award. This Award includes a $1000 cash prize.

The Carl Brandon Kindred Award is given to any work of speculative fiction dealing with issues of race and ethnicity; nominees may be of any racial or ethnic group. This Award includes a $1000 cash prize.

Here's a link to the awards page.

June 28, 2007

Oblique Fannishness About Laurie Marks, Whose Third Elementals Book Continues to Annoy and Astound, in Equal Measure

Why must I feel vaguely masculine for not wanting to center my fiction in the domestic sphere? Why do third wave feminist artists and writers fetishize Home and the Domestic, and not question women's relegation thereto in art and literature?

We can write about warriors and philosophers and travelers and border crossers and farmers and soldiers and witches. We can write about violent impulses, nonpretty lusts, hunger, scars, frostbite, the plague. We can forget to write about menstruation, for once, since in real life it's mostly a minor annoyance for most people, except when you forget to bring a tampon.

We can not always be the ones tied inextricably to the earth and fecundity. We can stop imagining the Venus of Willendorf and Mae West are the only female icons to retreat to when we've shuffled off this Paris Hilton roil. We can write prose in praise of muscles, and be talking about women.

We can write into a genre exactly as far as we need to and stop there and revolutionize the rest. We can take some tropes and leave others. We can weave our rebellion and newness so thoroughly into the narrative that nobody sees it, everybody feels it. We can, really, write whatever the fuck we want to.

So why is nobody doing it except Laurie fuckin' Marks?

Please tell me who else is doing it.

May 27, 2007

Squeee! to the max

Just found out that my favorite fantasy series when I was a tyke is coming to the big American screen, and Ian McShane plays Merriman Lyon!

Of course, Dr. Who, who plays the Rider, would have been a better Merriman, and McShane would have been the perfect Walker, but whatever. Can't Wait!

May 05, 2007

Reading Update

Finished two books this week:

The Last Colony by John Scalzi: third of a trilogy and and interesting way to turn the politics of warmaking back on itself. Go read!

Coraline by Neil Gaiman: nice 'n' creepy. Go read! (I don't know him, but I'm hung over and don't feel like reviewing.)

Still working on Landscapes of Fear by Yi-Fu Tuan.

April 06, 2007

A Fat Rant

Wow. I love this. It applies to so many things, too!

Via Shrub.com.

March 10, 2007

The Land of Justified Racism Because the Dragons Say So

Kristina Wong has some fun at Kenneth Eng's expense.

March 05, 2007

Leelularah or Something

I got this offa Salon.com so propses.

I actually really liked this song last year, but this vid made me laugh out loud for three minutes, so ...

March 03, 2007

Octavia Butler Tribute Fundraiser!!!!

LAST CALL FOR BOOZE 'N' SCI-FI!

Yes, cows and cowboys, tomorrow's the big day. You DO NOT want to miss this one.

Nalo_1Nalo Hopkinson will be there, she of the interesting hybrid accent, straight from Toronto, author of two of my favorite books: Brown Girl in the Ring and Midnight Robber (wouldn't it be cool if she did a sequel to Brown Girl in the Ring and called it Tralalalala?)

Jewelle
Jewelle Gomez will be there, in all her former grantor glory! Four words: lesbian escaped slave vampires. I know that's enough.

Gomez_penaGuillermo Gomez-Peña will be there, mixing it up, literally, linguistically, futuristically, and poetically. A MacArthur Genius. Heh, like Octavia. Now how often do you get to see geniuses?

Susiebright_1 Susie Bright will be there, erotica'in like there's no tomorrow. Really, do you want to miss the woman who is the nation's true expert on sex fiction? I think not.

MartaacostaMarta Acosta will be there, and can someone please explain to me what could possibly be wrong with Latina vampire chicklit? Yeah, that's what I thought.

DeguzmanJennifer de Guzman will be there. Comix goddess, yes. That's "Woman of Color Comix Editor" to you, sucka, Ms. de Guzman if yer nasty.

So you see why you can't miss out.

Here's the info again:

The Carl Brandon Society presents an

Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fundraiser

with readings by

Nalo Hopkinson
Jewelle Gomez
Susie Bright
Marta Acosta
Jennifer de Guzman
and
Guillermo Gomez-Peña

A fundraiser reading to benefit the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship.
Fabulous fabulists honor one of our great writers and raise funds for the next generation.

Sunday, March 4, 5 - 7 pm

The Starry Plough
3101 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA.
510-841-2082
http://www.starryploughpub.com/

$5-20 sliding scale.

The Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship will enable writers of color to attend one of the Clarion writing workshops, where Octavia got her start. It is meant to cement Octavia's legacy by providing the same experience/opportunity that Octavia had to future generations of new writers of color. In addition to her stint as a student at the original Clarion Writers Workshop in Pennsylvania in 1970, Octavia taught several times for Clarion West in Seattle, Washington, and Clarion in East Lansing, Michigan, giving generously of her time to a cause she believed in.

Funniest "Dog" You'll Ever See

I don't know why I never posted this.

Hungarian "Puli" Sheepdogs.

Argh. Cutest puppy ever.

Dogs with dreads. Do they smoke doobs, too?

February 26, 2007

Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fundraiser

Hey all! I know you're all sick or fighting it off, and it's cold outside and raining, and it's still February.

Me too.

So come shake it off and get inspired this Sunday with a terrific reading event supporting a great cause! I'm co-organizing this with Charlie Anders and it's gonna be a great time. Check it out.

The Carl Brandon Society presents an

Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fundraiser

with readings by

Nalo Hopkinson
Jewelle Gomez
Susie Bright
Marta Acosta
Jennifer de Guzman
and
Guillermo Gomez-Peña

A fundraiser reading to benefit the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship.
Fabulous fabulists honor one of our great writers and raise funds for the next generation.

Sunday, March 4, 5 - 7 pm

The Starry Plough
3101 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA.
510-841-2082
http://www.starryploughpub.com/

$5-20 sliding scale.

The Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship will enable writers of color to attend one of the Clarion writing workshops, where Octavia got her start. It is meant to cement Octavia's legacy by providing the same experience/opportunity that Octavia had to future generations of new writers of color. In addition to her stint as a student at the original Clarion Writers Workshop in Pennsylvania in 1970, Octavia taught several times for Clarion West in Seattle, Washington, and Clarion in East Lansing, Michigan, giving generously of her time to a cause she believed in.

February 08, 2007

Reading Update

Currently Reading Mark W. Tiedmann's Remains, which is up for a Nebula, if you're a voter (which I'm not, unfortunately.) I've been wanting to read this one since Mark and I sat on a panel together at Wiscon last year called "Mars Needs Women!"

Yes, it takes place on Mars. That's all I'm saying, except that I'm enjoying his take on Mars so far, until I've finished the book.

Go read!

February 03, 2007

Black History Month Support

Angry Black Woman is proposing a different kind of project for Black History Month:

I thought that instead of posting the same old and tedious BHM posts or even the anti-BHM posts, let’s make Black History Month useful again. What black folk do we hardly ever talk about yet deserve to be remembered if not celebrated? What recent history is worth exploring? And what is your personal black history? I would love to hear stories about people’s families. Either stuff you remember or stuff you were told. How did your people contribute to history? How were they affected by it?

So seriously, this is the Black History I want to explore this month. Post this on your blog, pass it around, email your grannies and cousins for material. Recommend some books, dig up some history, have fun!

Then come back here and tell me about it. Oh, and tag your posts “Our Black History Month”

I love that she's doing this, and love the idea of the project. I really hope people will participate.

This strikes home for me because I worked for so many years in the Asian American ethnic community and for all these orgs, programming tends to center around May (API Heritage Month, for those of you who don't know). Every year around May there's someone who makes the obligatory speech about how we shouldn't encourage the idea that people are Asian only one month a year--We Are Asian All Year Long! blah blah blah. Yeah, whatever.

What bugs me more about API Heritage Month is the same thing that ABW complains about: all you ever hear about is the 442nd and Amy Tan. Dragon Boat Races and martial arts demonstrations. You know, comfortably exotic stuff with a little outraged history so far in the past that no one needs to feel bad about it anymore.

Our job at the APA orgs was to diversify the stories. (The Center for Asian American Media does a kickass job of this. With all the thousands of documentary shorts they have access to and their great relationship with local PBS affiliates, May is basically a tv Asian lovefest.) And I really enjoyed doing this, even though it was a bit much to watch all of my colleagues going nuts over one month in the year, jostling and competing with each other to get their best programming out and then lapsing, exhausted, at the end of that time, to be essentially ignored for the rest of the year.

Also, people participate (or not) in API Heritage Month activities out of some vague sense of "diversity" duty, and not out of any real understanding that Asians have a real role in the history of the United States. And this would be my same complaint about Black History Month: there's a vague feeling that it's about being fair to the poor blacks, and not that it's about focusing on how Af Ams' history is woven into the whole cloth of American history. Or how your life has been shaped by the roles Af Ams have played in American, and your, history.

Another complaint I have about both February and May is that everybody who is not black and Asian, respectively, sits back passively (albeit often receptively) and waits to have the History and Heritage brought to them. It's not their history after all.

Wrong. It's all of our history. I'm American and my daily life is shaped by America's history of slavery, coolie labor, industrial wage slavery, immigration restriction, Jim Crow, westward expansion, Indian genocide, women's suffrage, militarism, imperialism, etc, etc. I don't get to pick and choose the parts of history that affect me directly and the parts of history that don't. It's not a timeline, history, it's a biosphere. Have a butterfly get on a boat in Hong Kong and soon you'll have a typhoon of immigrants drowning off the coast of New York. Whip a slave in Georgia and soon you'll have to cut the thumbs off of weavers in India.

So while ABW's call to words is for African Americans specifically--because Black History Month may be for all of us, but it needs to be driven by teh Af Ams--I propose a support project to complement hers. Let's all blog this month on "How have Americans of African descent--both those you know personally and those didn't--affected your life?" You can address one or more of the following, and I suggest that you address them all in more than one post:

  1. You've learned about black history in school or through cultural events. But what was the thing, the incident or the moment you first got a gut reaction, a visceral understanding of the impact of black history on the position of African Americans in our country?

  2. Tell us about the African American/s who came into contact with you and/or your family in the near or distant past and had an impact, either positive or negative. (Be honest. Especially if you're white, a lot of you will have black servants or employees in your family's past. If your family is from the south, there may even be a history with slavery. It maybe embarrassing to you, but this is real history that you shouldn't obfuscate.)

  3. Do a little thought experiment. Pick one of your daily or weekly habits--brushing your teeth, putting too much salt on your food, surfing the internet (a-hem), dancing in your car on the way to work--and find the connection to African American history. For a crude example, look at what you wear, the history of your Levi's, for example, and the "jean" cotton canvas material that Levi Strauss copied from the French, but was able to make in mass quantities because of the extensive American cotton production, built up and fueled first by slaves, then by tenant farmers and share croppers.

  4. Use this opportunity to do a little research. Pick a field of endeavor that's important to you: your career, your avocation, your favorite sport or hobby. Then go and find an African American you'd never heard of before who excelled in this field or contributed to it profoundly in history. Then tell us all about them.

I'm gonna do this too, and I'm gonna check in with ABW about it. If you decide to participate, do check in here and over there and let us know about it!

January 18, 2007

Four Food Groups

A comment on Scalzi's "Cats or Cheese?" post (cats, of course) got me thinking about the four food groups joke. You know, where a person names his/her four favorite foods or four essential foods and calls them the four food groups.

Well, it's not just favorite foods. It's the ones you can't live without.

So that got me to thinking, because I do get obsessive about food, but only for awhile. Like, I'll eat quinoa every day, twice a day, for a month, say (like I'm doing now), and then I'll go off it again for a year. Or something. Does anyone else do this? My favorite foods wander is what I'm saying.

Anyway, trying to think of four all-time, essential foods or even food groups. Here goes:

1) rice-based dishes: i.e. either fried rice, or white rice with stuff on top, Chinee-stylee

2) salads with plenty of stuff on them

3) bacon

4) eggs

5) mustard

I know, that's five. The problem is, number one is true, but only some of the time. Actually, of late, I've been avoiding the rice because it's the highest carb, highest glycemic of da grains---the true diabetic nightmare. Actually, I've pretty much given up the rice stuff, except for special occasions. I am a bad Chink.

Okay, to try again:

1) salads of all sorts, so long as they are cold, based on repeated exposure to green things, and covered with some sort of light, oil-based sauce, and especially when loaded with lotsa extra protein-y things

2) bacon (sad, but true. Could not live without)

3) eggs (I don't think a single day has gone by since I was about 17 that I didn't have at least one egg. These days, I'm taking most of the yokes out, but the whites still rule my world.)

4) mustard (in everything. In salad dressing. Mixed with my scrambled eggs [yes]. In my quiche. Marinating the meat. There's a reason the word "must" begins the word "mustard").

Okay, now you.

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