wSep 4, 2010

An Announcement

Hi Everyone,

Here is the deal.

For a long time, I have been cross-posting entries between here and LiveJournal.
LiveJournal has been making a bunch of changes lately that I think breach its users' privacy and trust. So LiveJournal will no longer be my main journal.

My home-base journal will now be at Dreamwidth:

As always, everyone can see public entries; you need to "Friend" me to see locked posts. You don't need a Dreamwidth account to do that; you can use OpenID. If you have accounts with LiveJournal, Google, or a host of other websites, then you have OpenID.

Unfortunately, Dreamwidth cannot yet cross-post to the Blogger platform.
The alternative is to manually copy-and-paste entries, but to be frank, I never get comments over here anyway.

If Dreamwidth does one day allow cross-posting to Blogger, I will look into it.

So for now, this is the end of new posts here on Blogger.

I am still working on copying all of my old posts to Dreamwidth, and locking them. (Most of these were embarrassing high school posts; more recent posts on anime/etc. will stay here for your reading pleasure.)

If you have any questions, leave a comment.

Blogger, you've been good to me. But it's a lot easier to build communities on sites like Dreamwidth.

Thanks everyone for reading; I hope you'll follow me in the new space.
scribbled mystickeeper at 8:10 AM

wJun 11, 2010

Upon watching the first 2 episodes of Hetalia: Axis Powers....

This is what people have been excited about for the last couple of years? Seriously, what the hell?

Watch it streaming at!

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scribbled mystickeeper at 6:49 PM

wJun 4, 2010


Elsewhere on the Internet, in a post that is unfortunately locked, various things have been purported.

I am sick to death of motherfuckers telling me that entire aspects of my identity do not exist because of the labels they ascribe to me.
Because I am Catholic, there is no way that I could hate my bishop, want women to be priests, or be adamantly supportive of the separation of church and state.
Because I am religious, I must have never given any serious thought to politics (even in spite of my major in Political Science), why rituals are performed, or what the Bible actually says. Clearly, I am a sheep - right?
Because I spent two summers working as an unpaid intern for a Republican, there is no way that I could be a Democrat (at least, not according to nearly every Democratic office in the Wisconsin State Legislature).
Because I am a 24-year-old woman, I must want to get married as soon as possible.
Because I am pro-life, I must not be a feminist.

Extremism in any form is dangerous. And taking away someone's ability to construct their own identity is harmful - even moreso when we are all potential allies.

We are all angry about something. What I'm angry about is everyone buying into the soundbytes created from false dichotomies that assure us that our goals are not common, that our enemies are each other. And that we must stay busy fighting one another, so that we are incapable of waking up, banding together, and doing something.

In the end, I think that everyone wants to make the world less fucked up than it is now.

The way to start is to think, to dialogue, and most importantly, to challenge people around you every day to analyze and deconstruct their own lives.

And to stop acting like jackasses.

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scribbled mystickeeper at 8:45 PM

wJun 3, 2010

WisCon 34 Panel Write-Up: Intersectionality in Fandom

Panel Description: A more advanced discussion for those ready to work past 101-level panels. A discussion of how disabilities, race, gender, sexual orientation, and other oppressed statuses affect each other. How do we decide which one gets our last remaining spoon?

Panelists: Ian K. Hagemann (moderator), Candra K. Gill, Beth A. Plutchak, Victor Raymond, Naamen Gobert Tilahun

My notes on this panel are VERY sparse; I think this is when I started freaking out about having my first panel later in the night, and I didn't write much down.

In the beginning, it's noted that we are at a time in WisCon at which we can move beyond establishing, "Does this oppression exist?"

NGT: Likes the word "confluence" more than "intersectionality" - it implies fluidity, that the systems of oppression themselves change are intermeshed with one another moreso than single points of "intersection."

The line in the panel description, "How do we decide which one gets our last spoon?" is dissected a bit - there is no "last one." You can't defeat systems of oppression one by one - the point is that they are intertwined, that by becoming an ally to deconstruct one, you must work for the good of dismantling them all.

Even if race or class or etc. is your "thing," take a step back - nobody is an expert on everything.

IH said a lot of things about the societal narrative (reality, I think? I did a really poor job of following this thread) and societal counter-narrative (the story that those in power tell us to keep things the way they are). One of the catch-phrases of the counter-narrative is, "Everyone can succeed if they pull themselves up by their bootstraps." IH points out that's not true - whose hard work do you benefit from? Is it yours? Your parents? Those who came before them?

We must dismantle the institutions that are organized in such a way to keep power where it is.

BAP (I think?!) brings up Sarah Palin - however much you disagree with her, the media and comedy culture derided her for being a woman, being uneducated, and being from a rural area.

The point of media is to make a counter-narrative.

I think that someone makes a point about other kinds of media, faster communication of news via sites like Twitter.
IH brings up that things like iPods, iPads, etc. are made with unfair labor practices. So even the tools you use to "tweet the revolution" (phrase is mine, not his) are things you bought in ways that help keep the current systems of oppression in place. It is bodies that are producing these new media.

Buffy is not a feminist show; it is a girl-power show. The media/etc. capture revolutionary/deconstructive ideas and make them bite-sized, palatable for society to consume and feel good about themselves.

NGT brings up another example: a breast cancer awareness campaign in which Kentucky Fried Chicken sold food in breast-cancer pink buckets, totally ignoring the fact that chemicals/preservatives in KFC cause cancer in the first place.

The media captures pieces of our own narrative and feeds it back to us.

There are some oppressions/etc. that don't have names yet; we don't even have the language required to discuss them.

Subject turned to: How do I recognize which narrative I'm in?
--Subvert the counter-narrative. Reject false binaries. It is always more complicated than black/white, male/female, rich/poor, etc.

And now it's really obvious that I wasn't writing notes that had headings or anything USEFUL....
Another example of the media spoon-feeding what we want to hear. The Ad Council always puts out "messages" that focus on an individual solution to a systemic problem. We are told "don't litter," versus something that would actually make a difference and require a societal change: "Don't allow our factories to make pollution."

It takes a long time to make people aware of their own self-interest and privilege.

Talk to people and shake up their worldview. It is difficult and uncomfortable.

I think that this is the point at which BAP said she distrusted large organizations and sociologists (except Victor, fellow panelist).

NGT suggests: join small organizations. They won't eat up your life; it's easy to know everyone, so they're not as shady; the differences they make in your community are visible, and matter.

How do you find them? "Google-fu."

Change is hard. The convenient, effective protest doesn't exist.

Talk to SF fans about what to do now. SF fans know about many potential futures, but not about how to get there.

We must articulate our own narrative.

Talk and listen to people. The discussion does not end.

When you're talking, what do you mean when you say, "We?" Do you mean white people? If so, then name it. Don't make assumptions. Not "We generally react in this way to this issue," but "White people usually do X."

Hopefully someone else has more coherent notes than me!

I left this panel feeling very strongly that I was ready to DO things and be active in my community, aware of how I have conversations and what I choose to say, etc. This was very much a theme for me at most of the panels I went to.

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scribbled mystickeeper at 8:26 PM

wJun 1, 2010

WisCon 34 Panel Write-Up: Rated E for Everyone? Increasing Diversity in Games and Gaming

Again, it's not an exact transcript because I do pen/paper notes.

Panel Description: In some ways, the gaming industry is the last glass ceiling of geekdom; in spite of its increasing diversity, gaming culture has largely assume white, male, able-bodied, and heterosexual biases. Gaming communities like XBox Live, MMORPGs, D&D groups, and even retail stores can be noninclusive or even hostile environments to women, people of color, gay people, or the disabled. There are exceptions: Bioware's Dragon Age: Origins was highly lauded by for its inclusion of same-sex relationships, and won's Most Accessible Game of 2009. This panel will discuss how games can get it right (and why they often don't). We'll also explore ways to make the gaming community more accessible, and brainstorm strategies for surviving hostile encounters in the gaming world.

Panelists: Chris Hill, Robyn Fleming, Jacquelyn Gill, Nonie B. Rider, Anastasia Marie Salter

The sub-culture of "gaming" is very broad, so the panel began by establishing different interests.

CH: Role-played in the late 70s and early 1980s, and is now into computer gaming.

JG: Roleplayed D&D and White Wolf. In college, more into computer gaming. She noted sometimes feeling uncomfortable online, in stores, etc. Also dislikes being told what she "should" like, as a girl gamer (i.e., not violence).

AS: Just finished a PhD in (?!) gaming narratives (sorry, I wasn't paying attention and didn't write that down properly). She likes to focus on the gender dynamic in computer gaming - how those playing with female avatars are usually assumed to be male; how this is now complicated by the addition of voice-chat, etc.

RF: Writes gaming columns, etc. Plays D&D, is bad at 3-D navigation. Would like feminist gamers to stop demonizing the hyper-femininity of some games. She likes the Barbie games. Please embrace them.

NR: Only into tabletop gaming.

Press coverage of a quote of fail was made reference to: apparently, when asked why Modern Warfare II contained no women (you know, to be modern), the person answered that in order to take the time to render female characters in the game, time would have to be taken away from other detail-work, such as crumbling walls. So apparently, crumbling walls in video games are more important than the option to see/play as female characters.

AS: doesn't play video games to necessarily "be herself," but why don't the games have more options?

RF: Gives props to Mass Effect (highly customizable avatars)

More games that have customization options are using it as a selling point.

Dragon Age is very accessible, and also explores other classes. Sometimes, "customization" is cited as being prohibitive to telling a linear storyline. Dragon Age disproved this for games that have storylines.

Also, for MMORPGs, which have no linear plot, there is still a lot of work to do on making avatars more representative of the human race. The "linear plot" argument is indefensible here, if it is in fact defensible anywhere.

At some point, there was a lengthy digression about the new rules put out for D&D. (Basically, for the 3rd edition, non-male pronouns were sometimes used (gasp!), but they were all or mostly male again for 4th edition. Also, even when the pronoun-usage is evenly dispersed, the pictures on the page show women in voluptuous/revealing clothing. There is a disconnect.

At some point, City of Heroes was also brought up as a game that allows a lot of customization (even fat characters!).

Team Fortress II was brought up as a game that had 9 classes of men in it. Online gamers are creating detailed hacks for female classes, too.

Hacks are fan-created works.

Ways to make the gaming community more accessible/let people know that gamers are diverse:
--If a game pisses you off because of its treatment (or complete lack of) POC, women, disabled people, etc., then don't buy it. Also, tell gamers in your life why you're not buying it. Write about it on the Internet.

--Find ways to hack the games, and play as different characters.

--Be a presence in gaming stores. Instead of buying things online, physically go to stores, let the employees know you exist, you play games, and you're giving them money. JG said she makes a point of going into gaming stores and asking intelligent questions about current games.

--Write online. Be a frequent commenter on the websites of companies that frustrate you. Let them know what frustrates you.

--Support game-producers who are not EA or ActiVision. Don't let huge companies be the cultural gate-keepers. Open-source games are awesome. There is a belief in the world that free games are not necessarily "good" games, because they're not mainstream. This is false. Use them. Smaller projects can afford to be more experimental than the Big Two Companies because they don't have as much money riding on a project. So if you support smaller projects and prove that experimental wonders such as including fat avatars or more POC can be successful, there will probably be a trickle-up effect.

--Download a free game, play it, and tweet it to the WisCon tag.

--Tweet to the #HackGender tag.

--Be a pusher of inclusive games to younger kids/teenagers in your life. They will be receptive.

--Use the Bechdel test on video games.

--Read Border House. From their own website: "The Border House is a blog for gamers. It's a blog for those who are feminist, queer, disabled, people of color, transgendered, poor, gay, lesbian, and others who belong to marginalized groups, as well as allies. Our goal is to bring thoughtful analysis to gaming with a feminist viewpoint and up-to-date news on games, virtual worlds, and social media."

I really took a lot away from this panel, particularly the To-Do list. The idea of supporting small companies (and small book presses) is one I've always supported in theory, but looking at my habits, do not do much to support financially or through promotion. It was because of this panel that I realized I had never purchased a book put out by Aqueduct Press, despite this being my fourth WisCon. (I then bought four books from them.)

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scribbled mystickeeper at 8:11 PM


WisCon 34 Panel Write-Up: Class Basics

[My notes are very sparse. Feel free to use my notes + your memory/notes to make a For Reals Record. I'm just offering what I've got to the community at large.]

Panel Description: Of all the "isms" and oppressions in the United States, class is one of the least explored and least understood, and yet having an understanding of how class issues affect people here and around the world is vital. As with race, ability, and other issues, it is not the job of people who grew up dealing with class barriers to educate the rest of us, but sometimes we find folks who are generous enough to give their time to teaching. If you feel like you don't know enough about class, classism, and how class background and class privilege inform the world around you, come join us. Serious information, given with patience and humor.

Panelists: Debbie Notkin (moderator), Nisi Shawl, Jennifer K. Stevenson, Chris Wrdnrd

It was established at the beginning of the panel that the goal was for audience members to ask questions, etc.

Panelists were asked to described the kitchen of the place in which they grew up, and also answered why they decided to be on the panel.

Jennifer, who has written a novel (or possibly more?) about stage hands in Chicago, comments that she is intrigued by those people who to college and end up "not using" their education.

An audience member asks something to the effect of, "Can you explain the 'anger' that some people have for those who do have an education?" Audience member told that her question will eventually be addressed. [As a side note, I don't think it was directly addressed, but it sort of is further down when people are talking about different 'markers,' etc.]

A generational difference between the importance of certain class markers is discussed (I think by Nisi). For example, children of the middle class might find running outside shoeless "freeing," but parents in the working class class find shoe-wearing extremely important. For parents of working class kids, going to college is incredibly important in order for upward mobility. For Nisi, it was less important, because she got there and felt they weren't actually teaching her how to write, so she left.

At this point, Jennifer makes several weird comments. Debbie intervenes to note that we need to be careful not to equate education with intelligence.
Jennifer goes on to discuss how people who go to college learn to be "world citizens," and learn how to be in a different class (?). She also spends some time discussing the disparity between different types of stage hands - those who push boxes, and those who work on the more technological side of stage-work (I'm assuming this means lights, sound systems, etc.).

Thankfully, heyiya stands up and asks if the panelists can define "class," as it seems they are discussing different things. (This was much more articulately asked than that, so hopefully someone else has notes!)

Nisi says that class is defined by where you come from, and what you expect [to have happen in your life].

Jennifer says that when she was a kid, it was basically education. Later on, she learned that class was something different. She mentions health care as a marker. A weird comment is made about how people of different classes are "the same species but different species." (Unfortunately, this was after The Gathering and I don't remember the context.)

Wrdnrd mentions it as being the economic reality of her youth.

An audience member is called upon, states that to her class is defined by choices and ownership. What choices do you have? What choices have you had? What do you own? Your body? A car? Do you feel secure? Etc.

A book by Ruby Payne is brought up, although I can't remember which one.

Multiple audience members stand up to ask questions, usually prefaced by the establishment of their class background. It is clear that this is a raw issue for many audience members.

Someone in the audience asks about how to talk about class issues with her husband, who comes from a different class background than she does.

raanve stands up to discuss the differences in viewing signifiers/markers of class. People from different class backgrounds look for different markers to identify class. These things are not abstract - usually someone's house, their accent, etc. I think she was pointing out how to understand where people are coming from in discussions involving people of different class backgrounds (please correct me if I'm wrong!).

Nisi said it helps to say something like, "This is what this signifier means to me; what does it mean to you?"

Class can also be defined by answering the question, "Who accepts you as a peer?" (Cannot remember who said this), and pointing out that how you define yourself is not necessarily how the word defines you (in terms of class).

Someone else in the audience stands up to talk about how she raised her daughter while being extremely poor, taking free meals from churches, etc. Extra money that came their way was spent on passes to science museums, etc. Her daughter was eventually able to go to law school, and with help from wealthy people who took an interest in her, got a good job. She was embarrassed by her background, though, and eventually cut off contact to her mother, who hasn't spoken with her in something like 7 years.

I wish there was a better way to end the post, but I think that's all I remember. Toward the end, at least a few people stood up to say that they best understood how to discuss class/better understood where other people were coming from, and why some responses are inappropriate because they are overly defensive. Thus, I think that the panel was successful.

I was unable to make it to the other two panels focusing on class at WisCon this year, but at the end of our Studio Ghibli panel on Sunday, an audience member did ask us to discuss class! The seeds, they spread!

Hopefully, this will be the most incoherent of my panel write-ups!

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scribbled mystickeeper at 6:03 PM

wMay 31, 2010

WisCon 34: Demands and Links

If you attended WisCon 34, please visit WisCon's website and fill out the surveys. As a member of the ConCom, I can tell you that all responses are read and considered when planning for next year. As an example, a single comment was all that it took for me to decide to stop having latex balloons as centerpieces at The Gathering.

Also, throughout the convention, I kept hearing people make comments about "the items that Programming put onto the schedule." PROGRAMMING DOES NOT MAKE UP THE PANELS. YOU DO. I cannot stress this enough. If you want quality programming, then suggest some quality descriptions. Suggesting a panel does not mean that you have to be on it. Takes notes throughout the year. Let ideas percolate until you have the perfect notion. And then submit them.

You can already suggest panel ideas for WisCon 35. If you would like to do so, go here.
Also pay attention when sign-ups happen later in the year. Panelists are necessary to making sure that a programming item makes it on to the schedule.

--A list of books and TV shows from the "Writing the Other: Shout-Outs" panel.

--The Vid Party's playlist, complete with download links This party was epic.

--Liveblog of the Avatar panel

--The Politics of Steampunk panel liveblog

--A Field Guide for Editors panel writeup

--Dreamwidth panel writeup

Non-WisCon Added Bonus:
aycheb writes about fashion in Buffy Season 8 [spoilers]

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scribbled mystickeeper at 10:11 AM

wMay 23, 2010

A Review and Some Commentary

I really enjoyed the first season of Spice & Wolf, and would recommend it. The anime is based on a series of light novels originally written in Japanese (and the English translations put out by Yen Press are pretty fantastic - and I often dislike translations of Japanese fiction). Although there will be a second season, the first season definitely has a sense of closure. I liked the characters, mood, and setting very much, and I recommend it!
When I first saw advertisements for this series, I was afraid that it would be a little moe, but was glad to find that this was not the case.
has a nice review in the second half of this post, complete with a couple of pictures.

With the closing of DC Comics' CMX line (which mostly translated/distributed shoujo comics in the U.S.), there have been many intense blog posts (basically, DC never did much to promote CMX; they shut down their Minx line [also for teenage girls] in recent memory, etc).

One intense post focuses on the supposed "detrimental effect" that distributing/reading scanlations has on the sales market of manga in the U.S. It's here, written by Erica Friedman (who writes a lot about yuri manga). In this post and many others, I sometimes find classist assumptions in the anime/manga fandom: basically, that "every manga you read is one that you did not buy," which I find highly presumptive.

While I understand the principle that "voting with your dollar" certainly matters (hello, I work in an independent bookstore a few weekends per month), the idea that everyone has an equitable (or infinite) disposable income is ludicrous.

I don't mind paying money for a quality product (see Del Rey's releases of xxxHolic and Tsubasa, or Viz's Signature Line releases of Pluto, 20th Century Boys, etc). But in many cases, the money you pay does not result in a quality product. Take the Sailor Moon manga I own - they are extremely valuable because they are out of print in the U.S., but the glue job was so shoddy that half of them are falling apart despite my militant care-taking. Take also Viz's questionable translation of Fumi Yoshinaga's Ooku - yeah, I'm still buying it, but I remain displeased with Viz's translation.

Additionally, I'm probably not going to invest in Volume 1 of a 28-volume series without having read a bit, to make sure that I like where the story is going. This is about an intelligent use of my money.

To think that I would drop $8-14 on a single volume (usually readable in one 2-hour sitting - usually much less) without having read it first? For me, at least (and I will go ahead and admit that I am pretty cheap), this isn't even a question. Of course I will sample it first. And if it's not readily available at my public library (which I do use quite liberally), then yes, you'd better believe that I will download and read scanlations.
Even when I do buy manga, it is rarely at full-price - I go out of my way to scour used bookstores (and, full disclosure, even when I do buy them "new," I get an employee discount, so it's still not comparable to the average consumer).

And this is the thought-process of me, who comes from a privileged economic background and is fortunate enough to have a job that allows me to easily provide for my own needs. Especially in the state of the current U.S. economy, most people do not have the money it takes to support a single series (especially if it comes out in rapid succession, like Naruto).

Friedman goes so far as to condemn the scanlation/digital distribution of manga series not even available in English (i.e., those new in Japan, or which were never chosen for U.S. distribution). What exactly are we supposed to do? To suggest that everyone who wants to read a series not licensed in the U.S. has the leisure time to learn a foreign language (not to mention afford to buy all of the series on the Internet and have them shipped here) is nonsensical to me.

I get that buying things is the optimal choice, and if you've ever been inside my apartment, you're aware that I am certainly trying my best. However, in some cases, people do not have a choice, and I think that it is elitist and classist (or occasionally both) to assume otherwise.

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scribbled mystickeeper at 1:32 PM