bliumchik: (quantum)
This post was pretty popular on tumblr so I figured I ought to post it here. Although it seems like I've properly migrated to tumblr :( it's a pity, because Dreamwidth has a much better designed system for community and conversation. alas. Oh well, I'll try to keep posting here anyway in hope that it picks up a bit.

Without further ado: Since my tumblr has apparently become a Discworld blog – introducing someone else to a fandom turns out to be surprisingly similar to initial immersion when it comes to said fandom colonising your thoughts all the time – I thought I may as well have my flail about Monstrous Regiment and why it is my faaaaaavourite aside from all my other favourites. Er, and then it sort of turned into a kind of essay like thingy? So be warned :P

Amazing as Terry Pratchett is generally, he’s always been kind of short on LGBT inclusion – oh, there’s any number of characters that could be background gays, but when it comes to named characters and canon sexuality, he seemed a bit flummoxed for quite a while. Aside from Nobby Nobbs’ awkward comic relief cross-dressing, the closest thing for a long time was the fact that Dwarfs, we were allowed to assume, did whatever they did and nobody Mentioned Gender, so really any given dwarf couple were Schrodinger’s Queers. They also got the closet metaphor with the whole “coming out as female” thing, and I believe later there was one named dwarf who was in fact transgender as we would understand it. But at the same time, Trolls, whose genders were usually clear, managed to fail the Bechdel Test as a species.

And then came Monstrous Regiment, the book which increased genderqueer visibility in fantasy fiction by approximately 300%, as well as introducing the Disc’s first proper lesbian couple and quite possibly failing the Reverse Bechdel Test.

The trope of a girl dressing up as a boy to join a traditionally male military institution is old stuff by now, the most salient example in my reading being Tamora Pierce’s Lioness series. It’s a fairly polar trope, really – on the one hand, you get what is usually a fairly badass woman doing badass things and being as good as or usually better than any number of boys (who are not, after all, protagonists) – but at the same time, it means your main character can quite easily be the only female character of note, and as a tomboy in a gender-segregated society she’s not likely to have great relationships with other women who fit into their assigned social roles – conveniently perpetuating the Not Like Other Girls idea that’s partly responsible for the massive difference in popularity between Arya and Sansa Stark.

 

Spoilers yonder! )

bliumchik: (quantum)
I found it odd initially that the UTS theatre society, Backstage, wanted to do a double bill of The Real Inspector Hound and Mother Courage & Her Children, but I must admit it's worked out pretty well. You come away from the night with a real sense of the general theme being Plays That We All Studied In High School er Won't Let You Forget You're Watching A Play. Fourth wall? Hound's got five. Suspension of disbelief? Bertholt Brecht spits upon suspension of disbelief. And yet, it goes without saying, the skill of the respective playwrights means you can actually make a pretty entertaining evening out of it, and this the actors did with aplomb.

We open with Tom Stoppard's absurdist classic The Real Inspector Hound, and let me reassure you I am fully aware of the irony of making any sort of critical review of The Real Inspector Hound, and promise not to use the word "elan" at any point other than that one. To say this production was on a budget is to make university students the world over laugh uproariously and insist that it is your round, so rather than engaging in funny business with mirrors, the traditional Messrs Moon And Birdboot Are In The Audience game was played by means of several chairs extending the audience seating onto the stage (floor) in a curve with Reserved signs on two of them, not that this was necessary because the audience knows what's what and nobody wants to sit in the weird seats where the lighting kids can stare at the back of your neck. I hadn't brought a companion, so I ended up sitting in the middle of the second row next to pair of men with accents so incredibly German they could not possibly be actual Germans from Germany.

Read more... )

What can I say about Mother Courage? Many things, but a lot of them involve trying to pronounce Verfremdungseffekt. It seems like each new production uses different theatrical devices to shoot for Brecht's ideal of estrangement, and each one manages to shoot itself in the foot by casting likeable, empathic actors. This was basically the case here. It is of course possible that the artist's goal of undermining audience immersion in the story to breaking point in order to make them think about the issues presented is truly impossible to achieve, and it is also highly probable that anyone who's going to think about it at all is capable of doing so while totally engrossed in the story, but it is more to the point to note that the spread of postmodernism and the vagaries of student theatre mean we are entirely accustomed to a fourth wall that's more of a colander, to highly non-naturalistic scenery and to metanarrative commentary. The only things that remain unique to Brecht and therefore remotely jarring are the thing where you announce what's going to happen in the following scene and the thing with the awful music. All of the above were used quite well in this production.

Read more... )
bliumchik: (Default)

Now that I do honours, I get to write essays about time travel and stuff :3
 

and here one is )
bliumchik: batface + batpalm = batfacepalm (facepalm)
Argh, I just want the whole Evelyn Evelyn thing to go away or go back to being a cute jokey song or two on Myspace. I hate drama and I am pathologically incapable of picking sides, and this is hitting simultaneously with RL friend-drama with a similar dynamic, and I am a very Why Can't We All Just Get Along panda at the moment. I didn't even LIKE the Evelyn Evelyn stuff all that much aside from that one Have You Seen My Sister song, the actual performance sort of squicked me out, and when I saw that it was going to get big I cringed, and now exactly what I thought would happen is happening.

Just so nobody has to ask me, if they think it's important, full disclosure: my reason for not wanting AFP to be doing this is identical to my reason for not being personally offended by it. I am not a conjoined twin or any kind of similarly physically disabled person. Neither is she. Maybe she's talked to enough of them to feel comfortable speaking for them - I have not and am not. Or maybe she just didn't think about it. Many people don't. It makes them thoughtless, not bad people. From what I can gather this appears to have started as a clever attempt to get around her record label's claim to the next album with her name on it, so I guess she just didn't approach it from the Real People Like This Exist angle. Also I assume she got hit with the full flood of anger that the internet can provide filling her inbox all at once in the aftermath of this article, under which circumstances most people are not at their best.

(I'm not trying to make up excuses here, btw, the way I respond to all ~drama is by trying to unravel the causal chains involved. It's just how I process.)

Although honestly I was completely surprised that people took this tweet as anything other than "yes, I know about this issue. Now I need to get back to work" especially in conjunction with the next three or four tweets. But I guess after reading everybody's upset posts about it I can see how it's sort of poorly worded.

Anyway. I'm not upset at anybody who's experienced a radical de-pedestalling of Amanda Palmer and is screaming about it on the internet, because losing a hero is a shitty, shitty experience and I think all emotions (unlike all opinions, natch) are valid. I'm also not massively upset at Amanda because I completely saw this coming and, in any case, I lost that pedestal gradually and without fanfare - she's a person. People make mistakes. This one doesn't affect me, and I'm not going to defend her to people it does affect, but neither am I going to try to speak for them to her or any pedestal-keeping person who tries to insist that her actions are unproblematic.

I'm sitting this one out.
bliumchik: (fight the system)
I picked up some comics and a science fiction book yesterday! The comics were the latest House of Mystery (which technically came out weeks ago, my timesense - not so great) and Daytripper - I can't comment on the latter yet, but HoM is wonderful as always. I am developing quite a <3on for Matthew Sturges and his impeccable comic timing.

Anyway, the book was Star Soldiers, by Andre Norton. I got the book because it consists of what used to be two books, Star Guard and Star Rangers. I have a big hardcover of Rangers on my shelf. It's so old the paper jacket has fallen apart, although I still have the cover somewhere because it has cool lizardpeople on it. I reread that book dozens of times throughout my adolescence - it's exciting, fast-paced, just angsty enough and just epic enough without taking either of those to the hilarious extremes common to - well, mostly common to fantasy, but I've seen science fiction do it, *cough* McCaffery *cough* anyway. I was a big damn fan. And I knew that book had ~sequels, but I could only ever find Norton's work in second hand bookshops, and then it was usually her fantasy series, which didn't look remotely as awesome as Star Rangers and wasn't the type of fantasy I like anyway. So when I saw that Galaxy bookstore in the CBD had a bunch of Norton books I basically couldn't resist. Unfortunately there wasn't a copy of the prequel that did not come attached to the book I already have, and I suspect the lone book is out of print, so I just bought the whole thing.

Norton is an interesting case - her storytelling skills are excellent, she's quite prolific, she was a successful female science fiction writer at a time when SF was very much a boys' club - albeit with a vaguely androgynous pen-name. But she was a science fiction writer at a time when SF was very much a boys' club. I am up to page fifty one of Star Guard, and there has not been a single woman in it yet. It's sort of fascinating, that kind of wilful blindness - no women in the army, no mention of why there are no women in the army or even of the possibility of another culture having a different system even though humanity has been exposed to actual aliens for three hundred years. In fact, even when talking about the ~different culture~ of some of those aliens, a character mentioned that their leadership was passed down through the female line - not that they had female leaders, you understand, but that the old leader's eldest sister's son would succeed him. Just complete gender-blindness. Ohhh the nineteen fifties, what a weird little anthropological culdesac you were.

Mind you, however far we've come since the fifties... this was re-released postmillennium, and yet nobody thought to either make the cover artist actually read the book or at least inform him that the main character is not white. We're in fact explicitly told fairly early on (before we meet any women, for one thing, not that I'm bitter) that his blue eyes were startling in his dark face, and as if that wasn't enough he later muses on his "Australian-Malay-Hawaiian" heritage. An off-hand reference is made to European refugees fleeing into North Africa after a nuclear incident of some kind. It is pretty hard to miss that this is not the Brady Bunch.

Just thought I'd mention that in light of the internet's recent spate of pointing out cover-washing in modern YA, yeah? Giant cultural blind-spots: not just for the classics.

Also interesting that she's written a world apparently without racism (I guess that's been replaced by species-ism, humanity kind of gets the short end of the stick in this universe) but has managed to completely forget about women. Do you think it's overcompensation from someone trying really hard not to be dismissed on account of her gender in the SF climate of the time? Trying too hard to be one of the boys?
bliumchik: Mommy, I dropped my giant cowsicle!  :( (Um.)
So I uh. Apparently my hermit week has affected me more than I thought, since I forsook my escrima class in favour of hiding under the blankets and mumbling to myself. Hay agoraphobia hay! Nice to see you again! Give me a ring in advance next time and I shall bake you muffins! Well in advance, as this would involve learning to bake muffins.

*cough* oh well, I'll go on Wednesday. I went out to the park later and practiced a bit by myself, anyway. For shits and giggles I also did a couple sprint laps - and I mean a couple very literally, not in the modest sense: I was going to do three but I couldn't breathe by the end of the second. *sweatdrops* possibly something to work on.

Anyway, I dug up that Lovecraft In Brooklyn essay! It is behind the cut! We were asked to do a semiotic analysis, which is sort of like a regular analysis only you have to use certain buzzwords like "signified (noun)" (although I actually like some of the buzzwords - "polysemic" is a fucking awesome word) and namedrop Roland Barthes at least once. Go easy on me, it's from first year and while I don't remember specifically, there is pretty much no chance I WASN'T skimming way too close to the deadline. In fact I can tell I was by the ridiculous introduction which was clearly just an attempt to bring the damn thing up to a reasonable wordcount... oh, university. Let's play spot the pastede on yey cultural studies jargon! So much wince. That said, my actual tutor's only real complaint was that I fail at referencing. Which I do. I really kind of suck at it. This would also be something to work on, but so far I am not planning to stick with academia long enough for it to really matter. ...yeah, you guys can all laugh at me when I decide to do honours :P

So here's the essay: no edits, pure Maggie 2008!


and then the girl behind the counter, she asks me how I feel today )
bliumchik: THIS IS NOT SPARTA. I AM LOST. (scenic detour!)
Forgot to say, I went to the Queer Collective BBQ on Friday, followed by Wolverine watching with my high school mates. So gratuitous sausage jokes followed by... gratuitous motorcycle jokes. For the practically negative amount of actual dicks in my life it sure contains a hell of a lot of dick jokes. Nonspoilery Wolverine reaction: GAMBIIIIIT. Jackman needs to work on his roar, but not his muscles because EEP. Overall better than X-men, especially the last one *shudder*

Anyway, I started to comment on [livejournal.com profile] bexless's entry about moar spoilery aspects of the movie and got all tl;dr - lucky you, y'all get to read it instead, with bonus tl! It goes from the squee-worthy to the interesting meta to the lulz and then one or two problematic bits.

spoilers back heeeyarrrr )

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