erinptah: (lighthouse)
Everything this week is horrible and heartbreaking, and I hate it. Trying to make it stop feels like trying to hold back a runaway train with a rope.

This weekend is the Tax March. Find one near you.

Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the first Muslim woman to serve as a US judge, found dead in a river. Whoever did this should be strung up by the thumbs.

Trump can't remember whether he just bombed Iraq or Syria. To everyone who ~*couldn't trust Hillary*~ to run our military responsibly, I wish I could personally slap all of you in the face.

Democrats are consistent in how much we approve of missile strikes. Republicans swing from 22% in favor of a Democrat doing it, to 86% in favor of a Republican. That comes out to 64% of Republicans who have no principles whatsoever, just slavish loyalty to anyone who puts an R after their name.

Trump's policies are hurting poor majority-black Democratic-voting communities as hard as any poor white Trump-voting district. The only difference is that they saw it coming.

"Tom Price acted to help kill a rule that would hurt drug company profits shortly after his broker bought him up to $90,000 worth of pharmaceutical stock." And now he's running the Department of Health and Human Services.

Chechnya is rounding up gay men in what Amnesty International calls "secret detention sites." Reports are coming out about horrific physical abuses. Straight people of Chechnya, what is wrong with you?

(Amnesty International could use your donations, and so could RUSA LGBT, a group that supports LGBTQ Russian-speakers -- including asylum-seekers.)

A bridge collapses in Atlanta, causing millions of dollars in damage. You could blame the companies that stored flammable materials there, or you could pin the whole thing on a homeless black guy who slept there. Guess which one the city is doing.

Chicago detective Reynaldo Guevara: "accused by at least 51 people of framing them for murders from the 1980s through the early 2000s in the rough-and-tumble Humboldt Park section of Chicago. His alleged misdeeds led 48 men and one woman to be sentenced to a total of more than 2,300 years in prison. Three were acquitted. Five received life sentences. Three were sentenced to death but spared when in 2003 Gov. George Ryan, disturbed by a rash of wrongful convictions, commuted all death sentences to life or less. Two men died behind bars, including Daniel Peña, an illiterate man who testified Guevara beat him into signing a confession he couldn’t read." Lock this guy up. Also, strive to be George Ryan.
erinptah: Cat in christmas lights (christmas)
...in association with this TV series, and the art is this unholy hybrid of Flash animation and Dr. Seuss's original drawing style. It's such a trainwreck. Especially when you compare it to something like How The Grinch Stole Christmas, which animates Seuss' character designs with so much love and care in order to make them work.

Although I do give them points for making the reindeer look like actual caribou, not Rankin-Bass-esque white-tailed deer standing in snow.

Early in the episode, the plucky kid heroes arrive home, and one of them goes "Look! Our dads are bringing in the tree!" Smash-cut to two clean-cut men, one black & one white, carrying a giant fir.

I was briefly so excited. Casual same-sex couple in a children's show, and not just any children's show, but a Seuss adaptation?!

...and then the moms showed up, and eventually it sank in that these weren't the divorced moms spending Christmas with their exes and the kids to round out the blended family, these were just two unrelated heterosexual couples, having Christmas dinner in the same house for some reason.

Which makes it all the more annoying that the Cat (voiced by Martin Short) is played with the most exaggerated, campiest, lispiest voice you could imagine.

Sigh. I'm gonna go look up shippy Cat/Grinch fanart, just to cleanse my soul.
erinptah: Hiding in a box (depression)
Ace Tumblr: Support asexuals and asexuality!
Me: Sure thing.
Ace Tumblr: Acephobia in the queer community is a real problem!
Me: Some people are definitely dicks about it, yeah.
Ace Tumblr: Ace people should be welcome in queer spaces!
Me: People should be chill, I'll give you that.
Ace Tumblr: Why are people threatened by asexuality anyway? What's the problem here?
Me: Good question.
Ace Tumblr: It's not like our lack of sexual interest is oppressing you!
Me: It definitely isn't!
Ace Tumblr: You know what makes us feel threatened? When people, queer and straight alike, hit on us when we aren't interested!
Me: ...
Me: Okay, that. That was it. The part where you feel unsafe because queer people are expressing their sexualities in ways you don't like. Where queer people being attracted to someone who doesn't return that attraction is a threat, and we ought to keep a lid on it, even in the queer spaces we've created for ourselves. (Specifically a threat to asexual people, too, as if un-returned attraction can't happen to anyone else.) The part where sweet chocolatey sentiments like "be more welcoming to asexuals!" keeps turning out to have stuff like this as the icky toffee filling. That is the problem.
erinptah: A map. (writing)

From the Cook Political Report's numbers as of November 22: HRC is up to 64,500,489 while Donald is only at 62,371,681.

Obama in 2012 clocked in at 65,446,032 -- and there are still enough uncounted ballots in California that Hillary has a good shot at matching him.

So there's that.

***

I knew about HRC making it easier for trans people to get passports, but I just now learned that she did a whole truckload of other things for LGBT people at the State Department. Making the passport office recognize the name you were married and/or civil-unioned under! Extending spousal benefits to the same-sex partners of American diplomats!

So many of us faffed around arguing over whether she was quick enough to make a public statement in support of legal same-sex marriage. When it was a symbolic move anyway, given that the decision had nothing to do with her. We should've been looking at her actions where she did have the power to change the lives of same-sex couples, because, guess what, she had our backs.

***

...and now I have a lot of terrible Trump headlines to unload.

Headlines that you wish were a joke: "Sane, Competent Official Uncovered on Trump Transition Team and Is Immediately Fired."

The Trump Foundation's self-admitted law-breaking [video].

Megyn Kelly opens up about the potentially-fatal level of harassment the Trump campaign sent her way. "We had security guards the whole year. I mean the threat level got so high that it was impossible not to take that seriously."

A cohesive and source-link-filled history of rape allegations against Trump, up to and including the case that would have gone to trial next month if Jane Doe hadn't dropped it because of, again, an unbearable level of death threats.

Law & Order: SVU keeps pushing back the airing of a Trump-inspired episode. "The first air date would have been just after the notorious Access Hollywood recording, in which Trump spoke of using his fame to make sexual advances on women, and just before the third and finale debate. The second back-pedaling for the episode came after numerous sexual assault allegations against Trump surfaced."

"Starting when I was 15, my life was not my own. For years, I had no control over what happened to me. Being in the spotlight makes me wary and self-conscious again. I am overwhelmed with fear that an overzealous Trump supporter might take matters into his or her hands."

"Rightfully, the kids in York who chanted "white power" were suspended. But Bauman feels any anti-bullying initiatives in schools will be easily undermined, considering the biggest bully of them all is leading our nation."

"What may seem like a dramatic rise in the number of hate harassment and hate incidents happening across the country in the wake of Tuesday's general election is not in anyone's imagination...A representative for one group, in fact, said the rise appears to be even worse that what was took place immediately after the terror attacks in 2001."

***

The Stein campaign has officially filed for the recount in Wisconsin. (Incidentally, so did the Rocky Roque De La Fuente campaign. Maybe they can split the filing fees.)

The WI Election Commission currently lists Trump as having 22,177 more votes than Clinton. For perspective, Jill Stein got 31,006 WI votes. "Unregistered write-in candidates" -- there's no breakdown, but some portion of this is Bernie write-ins -- got 26,002.

Deadlines in Pennsylvania and Michigan are next week, and the Greens are still fundraising to cover the Michigan costs. If you're in the US, consider slinging a few dollars their way.

erinptah: (Default)

Only two Oz books left in the reread.  I'm dragging it out with some of Baum's other works.

...so I had this mostly geared up last Monday, and then, uh, some stuff happened that took precedence. And there will be more election-handling signal-boosting posts to come. But for now, let's take a trip back to the beginning of the 20th century...in the fun children's-fantasy way, not the way the Republican Party wants to take the country for real.

---

Dot and Tot in Merryland

From general osmosis I thought Dot and Tot were magical children, but no, Dot is a normal American kid! In contrast to Dorothy's poverty, Dot (full name Evangeline Josephine Freeland) is the daughter of a banker. Grew up with servants, they own multiple residences, her mom does a health-improving tour of Europe without any detriment to her finances. Tot is the gardener's boy, a little younger, reminiscent (preminiscent?) of Button-Bright's first appearance.

Looks like this is the first book Baum published after Oz became a runaway hit? He's not very creative with names yet, is he. Dorothy and Toto; Dot and Tot.

The kids are in a boat that comes loose, and drift through a cave and into the valleys of Merryland. There's a clown valley, a candy valley...the Queen is a doll, and lives in the Valley of the Dolls. Kitty valley, toy-animal valley, and eerie Valley of Lost Things.

It's...remarkably boring. The valleys are themed based on Stuff Kids Like, which feels like pandering without a whole lot of thought put into it -- and it falls flat, because "I like watching clowns" doesn't necessarily mean "I like reading about fictional characters observing that they like watching clowns."

We only get tiny blips of conflict, like when Tot eats a Candy Man's thumb. (Dorothy notices the missing thumb in Road to Oz. Continuity!)

I do like the running gag of never getting an answer about the Queen's name until the very end.

***

So I'm listening to a charmingly bland passage about the valley of the candy people, when OH SNAP suddenly I can tell you why this book hasn't stood the test of time.

A man made of marshmallows abruptly throws out this gem:

"One of our greatest troubles is that we cannot depend upon our colored servants, who are chocolate. Chocolates can seldom be depended on, you know."

Aaaand not long afterward: chocolate "serving maids, with complexions so dark brown in color that Dot was almost afraid of them." WOW.

The illustrations, too -- I looked it up on Gutenberg -- aren't shy about things like golliwog dolls. (The cooks are black dolls and the chambermaids are china dolls. Good lord.)

...It occurs to me that, since this is from 1901, the whole "comparing black people to chocolate" trope might actually have seemed like a clever innovation at the time? But whoo boy has that not aged well.

(Things that don't age well even though they weren't a problem to start with: the valley of cats features liberal description of "pussies.")

Verdict: Technically better-crafted than Mo, not as good as the Trot books, maybe on a par with the worse Oz books...but holy cow, that overt racism. Skippable.

***

Zixi of Ix (or, The Magic Cloak)

This one was originally written as a serial for a magazine (and it shows). The plot flips between Ix and Noland, both countries whose royalty also showed up at Ozma's party.

King Bud and his sister Princess Fluff sounded older at the party, but here the country of Noland seems almost unmagical, and they start off as normal kids. The king dies; some obscure statute says the 47th person to come in the capitol city's gate the next morning is the new king; and, whoops, it's the recently-orphaned Bud.

(Real names: Margaret and two-years-younger Timothy. Baum sure does love writing kids with weird nicknames.)

Meanwhile, the faeries have made a magic cloak because they were bored, and gave it to Fluff. It grants wishes, and she cheerfully lends it out to people indiscriminately, so accidental havoc-wreaking wishes ensue. Things like "I wish I could fly" or "I wish I was ten feet tall."

The palace has lightning rods! Modern!

Shameless references to children getting whipped. Un-modern.

The sentence-by-sentence writing in this one is really solid. Good scene-setting. Good dry wit. When the councilors are initially debating what to base their decisions on:

"This book of laws was written years ago and was meant to be used when the king was absent or ill or asleep."

And this is from when Bud first takes office:

"Just now it is your duty to hear the grievances of your people," answered Tallydab gently.

"What's the matter with 'em?" asked Bud crossly. "Why don't they keep out of trouble?"

"I do not know, your Majesty, but there are always disputes among the people."

"But that isn't the king's fault, is it?" said Bud.

Enjoyable, thoughtful scenes about what it's actually like for a kid to suddenly have absolute power. Like, there's an unusually subtle mix of "from the mouths of babes" and "you just got conned, because you have no idea how to do this."

***

We're almost halfway through the book (chapter 10 of 23) when we actually pay a visit to Ix, which appears to be another mostly-mundane country, except that Queen Zixi is a witch of 683 years old who still looks 16. (The rest of the populace ages normally. Reference to old men whose grandfathers remembered how Zixi was just as pretty when they were kids.)

Ouch:

"...for newsmongers, as everyone knows, were ever unable to stick to facts since the world began."

Sudden body horror, yikes. "To mortal eyes Zixi was charming and attractive, yet her reflection in a mirror showed to her an ugly old hag, bald of head, wrinkled, with toothless gums and withered, sunken cheeks."

And that's why Zixi vows to steal Fluff's cloak.

Geez, from her presentation at Ozma's party (...and, let's face it, her name alone), I was expecting her to be generally Ozma-esque, much the way Betsy is Trot-esque. Not so!

Her first scheme is downright Pratchettian:

Then Zixi had printed on green paper a lot of handbills which read as follows:

"MISS TRUST, a pupil of the celebrated Professor Hatrack of
Hooktown-on-the-Creek, is now located at Woodbine Villa (North Gateway of
Nole) and is prepared to teach the young ladies of this city the
Arts of Witchcraft according to the most modern and approved methods. Terms
moderate. References required."

Even more so when she says "all right kids, come in tomorrow wearing your best cloaks!" -- and Fluff's immediate response is to think "huh, that sounds really suspiciously specific."

I'm really sad that Ixi only keeps this up for like a chapter before deciding "screw it, I'm just gonna declare war on Noland."

***

"Yet I can never resist admiring a fine soldier, whether he fights for or against me. For instance, just look at that handsome officer riding beside Queen Zixi—her chief general, I think. Isn't he sweet? He looks just like an apple, he is so round and wears such a tight-fitting jacket. Can't you pick him for me, friend Tellydeb?"

(That's from Tollydob, one of the councilors. I could ship it.)

The war is also won by Nol pretty fast. You can tell Baum is constantly working in a mindset of "better wrap things up, the next chapter might be my last -- oh, it won't? -- okay, better make up a whole new conflict, and fast." Like a TV writer, only more so.

Zixi finally gets ahold of the cloak by getting herself hired as a maid, making an imitation cloak, and swapping it for Fluff's in a game of Duck Season/Wabbit Season. So technically it's not stolen, and the magic works.

Although she still screws up her wish. Sigh.

By the way, this book is blissfully racism-free, but it does give us this bit of unnecessary meanness:

"Why do you sob?" questioned the queen.

"Because I want to be a man," replied the child, trying to stifle her sobs.

"Why do you want to be a man?" asked Zixi curiously.

"Because I'm a little girl," was the reply.

This made Zixi angry. "You're a little fool!" she exclaimed loudly.

I'm just going to pretend that was a trans girl wishing she was a cis man. Makes it all the better when, in a chapter or so, she's decided to love and accept herself for who she is.

***

Two-thirds of the way through, Zixi wanders out of the narrative completely, and in bounce a civilization of rubber people living up in the mountains. Baum sure loves his bouncy people, huh?

They decide to take over Nol, and do a much better job of it than Ix did. Especially since the kids don't have the real cloak to use in self-defense anymore. So they decide:

"Well, there's no one else we can trust, so we may as well try Zixi."

Seems like a fast turnaround for an Enemy Mine situation, but okay.

What finally ends the story is that the fairy queen Lulea comes to get her cloak back. She's sick of it being used for silly things. Bud complains that it's not fair: he didn't get a wish, because he's been holding off until he had a really good idea.

And Lulea lets him have one! So instead of being a clunky Aesop about not putting things off, it becomes a story about how taking your time and thinking about your decisions is valuable, and wise queenly types appreciate it.

"I wish," announced Bud gravely, "that I shall become the best king that Noland has ever had!"

Epilogue says that it works! Plus, Fluff later marries the unnamed prince of an unspecified kingdom, and is also a good queen.

***

John Dough and the Cherub

This one's all plot.

A Mysterious Arab(TM) named Ali Dubh has been hoarding the Water of Life for years now, the latest in a long line of hoarders, but since he's being chased by people who want to steal it, he gives it to someone else to keep safe...and makes the mistake of choosing a French-American baker couple, who promptly accidentally use it to bring a five-foot-tall gingerbread man to life.

John Dough is another animated-artificial-humanoid in the vein of the Scarecrow or Jack Pumpkinhead, whose main goal in life is not to be destroyed (in his case, eaten). He starts off in the mundane US, but a Fourth-of-July firework takes him to the unsubtly-named Isle of Phreex, and from there he journeys through a series of weird islands trying to stay one step ahead of Ali Dubh.

For the record: while the whole "sinister Arab antagonist" thing is awfully sketchy, at least this time Baum doesn't put in anything about how all Arabs are [insert stereotype here].

On Phreex, John meets Chick the Cherub, who immediately decides to be his best friend. Chick's whole backstory is so trippy. Apparently "putting a baby in an incubator" is the 1910s equivalent of the 1960s "accidental dose of gamma radiation" -- a plausible-sounding excuse for all kinds of bizarre physical traits. No parents! Incredibly intelligent! Needs a special exotic diet! (Conveniently, it excludes gingerbread, so John has no fear Chick will eat him.)

And this is fun: Chick is canon nonbinary. And/or intersex. It's not clear how much Baum knew about either issue, but we do know is that the writing plays a strong game of pronoun-dodging, and when a pronoun is unavoidable Chick uses "it."

Para Bruin the rubber bear is also from this story! (Baum's thing for rubber strikes again.)

Is this the only Baumian book with a language barrier? John Dough is magically enabled to speak to anyone, but Para Bruin speaks one language, Chick and the other humans speak another, and the Mifkins speak a third.

Unexpectedly serious body horror when John's fingers get eaten off.

The story wraps up in a typical Baumian way: John stumbles into a country (well, two countries; this is the book that Hiland and Loland are from) that needs a new ruler, and the people immediately decide he's a great choice.

Apparently the publishers wanted Baum to firmly establish Chick as male or female by the end. He refused. The last few lines of the book:

"The Records of the Kingdom say very little of Chick's later history, merely mentioning the fact that the King's most valuable assistant was the Head Booleywag, who grew up to be the especial favorite of all the inhabitants of the island. But, curiously enough, the Records fail to state whether the Head Booleywag was a man or a woman."

erinptah: (daily show)
I've been sick since Friday, which means my days have been passing in a blur of naps, coughing, periodically getting up to make another bowl of chicken soup, and watching the clock to see if it's time for another dose of Nyquil yet.

I tried to go in to work on Monday, and boy, was that a mistake. Staggered home after an hour. Current plan is to give it another shot on Thursday, so we'll see how that goes.

In the meantime, here's some fun Internet things.

---

Owen Ellickson's TRUMP LEAKS -- pinned on his Twitter -- are a delight.



Kickstarter for a GOP-inspired dating sim. With Megyn Kelly as your roommate/wingman. I really hope they get enough to make the stretch goal where they'll add Fiorina to the cast of romanceable candidates.

Marsha P. Johnson sparks the Stonewall Riots, as told by Drunk History. Apparently they even took the time to find trans actors to play the trans historical figures! Good times.

"We asked the BuzzFeed Community to highlight moments in television shows that have helped them when they were experiencing depression." At first I thought this was going to be a figurative "happy scenes that people really enjoyed" list, but no, it's genuine "I've been down here before, and I know the way out" scenes.

"The [Trans-Neptunian Object] orbits in a plane that’s tilted 110 degrees to the plane of the solar system. What’s more, it swings around the sun backwards unlike most of the other objects in the solar system. With this in mind, the team that discovered the TNO nicknamed it 'Niku' after the Chinese adjective for rebellious."

Mini wind turbines shaped like artsy sculptures. Imagine if we could get a few in every park.
erinptah: Cat in a backpack (happy)

Section 28 of the UK's Local Government Act 1988 put a ban on things like "promoting homosexuality" and "portraying homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle" by "local authorities" in the UK.

Part of that was inspired by the AIDS panic, part of it by voters being mad that Arts Council funding was going to, in short, gay stuff. Or just general feminist stuff. Theater companies with names like Gay Sweatshop or Monstrous Regiment (that last one named after a 16th-century polemic against women getting to rule anything).

In practice, this spiraled out into a broad climate of caution and self-censorship. School boards were afraid the law covered them, so they shied away from anti-bullying initiatives that would have protected LGBT+ students. Support groups for these students shut down. School libraries wouldn't even stock books with LGBT+ characters....

And publishers, knowing that would put a crimp in their ability to sell and market those books, generally erred on the side of "not even gonna try it."

Only four Discworld books had been published before 1988. Another 26 were published over the next decade and a half. None of them had any of the gay stuff.

The 31st Discworld novel -- also called Monstrous Regiment -- is the one with the lesbians. Lots of crossdressing, characters trying to hide their genders, some whose actual gender identities are arguable, and two who are undeniably girlfriends.

Section 28 was repealed on September 18, 2003.

Monstrous Regiment came out in hardcover on October 1, 2003.

Which means Pratchett, and who knows how many people at all the other stages of publication, had it ready. They had it queued up and on-deck, and must have put things in motion literally as soon as they found out it was marketable, because it was on shelves two weeks later.

You did good, Pterry.
erinptah: (Default)

The Home sequel cartoon just dropped on Netflix, so obviously I'm all over this.

Oh's new voice actor does a really good job of capturing Jim Parsons' speaking style. The voice of Tip is more recognizably not-Rihanna, but still works.

Some new characters. I'm in the weird position of feeling like I should be offended by Sharzod, but between the alien culture and the art style I'm not sure on whose behalf. Women? Trans women in particular? Gay men? Drag queens? Some subset of races and/or ethnicities?

The little lessons are pretty good. And very 21st-century. Episode 3b is all about how you shouldn't take mean Internet comments to heart.

They're using stuff from the books! It's unambiguously movie continuity, but I love the tie-ins. Tip's mom calling her "turtlebear." The Boov raising Koobish. The seven glorious Boov genders! (For the record: boy, girl, girlboy, boygirl, boyboy, boyboygirl, and boyboyboyboy.)

And the fact that Oh's dialogue is always so wordy means they can throw in the word "misgendering" and have it sound completely natural. In a cartoon with a target demographic of elementary schoolers.

Episode 4a features Oh having a crush on Krunkle, an old-fashioned Boov of "the gender that Oh likes the best -- the rarest!" Without specifying which. (Although the English pronouns still shake out to one "him" and one "her", because I guess we still need some baseline level of hetero.)

Next episode may answer the question -- Lucy gives Oh fake eyelashes, and assures him, "A couple bats of those things, and all the girlboys will come running!"

They're good about continuing the theme of Boov using human objects in frickin' weird ways. A toilet seat as a hat (shades of Princess Beatrice). A classy musician playing a cello...using a trumpet.)

It's not all domestic shenanigans, our heroes still get to go on interplanetary trips. Turns out Slushious can be adapted for space travel if you fuel it with 24-hour energy drink.

***

Splitting it up with other things so I don't run out of episodes all at once. I'm almost finished with a long-running Phineas and Ferb rewatch.

The whole "villain/nemesis as romance" thing gets kicked up so hard by this point. When Doofenshmirtz gets his plans thwarted by a non-Perry secret agent, he downplays it as a "thwarty call."

All things considered, my fave is still Candace/Vanessa.
erinptah: Hiding in a box (depression)

The latest Savage Lovecast opens with almost twenty minutes of Dan channeling grief and heartbreak and hope into words I needed, that a lot of us probably need.

I'm doing okay again. Got to work like a functional person and did not once start crying at my desk, although it was a close thing a couple of times. Especially when Dan started choking up. Especially when he talked about how incredible it is, what a breathtaking sign of progress in the midst of all the horror, that when a gay club was attacked and the police showed up, they were there to help.

---

There's anger to be articulated too. Neither TDS nor TNS hit the right note for me, but Full Frontal was cathartically furious.

And Roy Zimmerman just put out a new recording of the incandescently bitter "Thoughts And Prayers."

Speaking of: you may have heard that it's a cheap gesture when politicians offer their "thoughts and prayers" after a mass shooting. Igor Volsky demonstrates that it is, in fact, a very expensive gesture. Hundreds of thousands of NRA dollars went into these gestures.

---

Equality Florida is handling the funds for victims and survivors of the Pulse massacre, and has other resources, particularly for family members.

People who don't live in Florida, this is also a good time to throw a few dollars at your own local LGBT+ rights organization. Mine is MassEquality. The one where I grew up is Equality Maryland.

And as with any tragedy, if you're eligible to give blood and don't have an appointment scheduled...get one for next month. Or the month after that. For when the surge of interest has receded, but the need is still there.

erinptah: Hiding in a box (depression)
and then a photoset of the victims' faces came across my Facebook feed and now I'm not handling it.
erinptah: Madoka and Homura (madoka)

Even knowing what it actually means in context, I get a smile every time these books go on about Oz being "full of queer personages."

~*~*~*~

Here's something I didn't think about until I listened to book 3 (Ozma of Oz) and book 4 (Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz) back-to-back:

Book 3: Dorothy's adventure starts when she gets swept off a boat, which she's on because she's in the middle of a boat trip with Uncle Henry.

Book 4: Dorothy's adventure starts when she falls into the ground during a California earthquake, where she is because she's traveling back to Kansas from the same trip.

She's gone on vacation once here, and gotten sidetracked for magical adventures on both ends of the journey. Henry and Em must be thinking "good lord, kiddo, you can't travel anywhere without mysteriously vanishing along the way, can you?"

(Of course, in the next book she's walking down a normal Kansas dirt road when it goes all magical. Can't win.)

~*~*~*~

And another thing! During this mundane-world vacation (it's a trip to Australia, which is supposed to be good for Uncle Henry's health), Dorothy and Henry meet "some friends." They're never described in any detail, we just know Dorothy is traveling alone at the start of Book 4 because her uncle went on ahead, while she stayed with these friends for a few days.

In San Francisco.

This book was published in 1908. The history of the SF gay scene goes back pre-1900, with its firs "notorious" gay bar founded in...1908.

I'm not saying Dorothy definitely hung out with cool grown-up lesbian mentors in San Francisco, I'm just saying...historically speaking, it's a serious possibility.

~*~*~*~

Okay, getting back to the (non-figurative) fairy-country content here...

Book 4 marks a huge shift for the series, in that it's a really blatant case of "wow, no overarching plot here at all, they're just wandering from set piece to set piece until the author gets bored."

Of the previous volumes, Book 3 had the most cohesive plot, without any random detours. This one is all detour. Then they hit a dead end -- literally, they get stuck in a cave with no way out! -- and Dorothy signals Ozma to teleport them safely to Oz. Princess ex machina.

Book 5 (The Road to Oz) is The One Where Everyone Gets Genre-Savvy.

When things initially go weird, Dorothy's reaction is "eh, this happens a lot, I'll probably end up in Oz eventually." And then she literally adds "Uncle Henry and Aunt Em have told me they're used to this by now, so they won't be too worried." Her party keeps running into magical towns where the leaders say "oh, hey, it's the famous Dorothy! We've read about you."

And when they finally make it to the Emerald City, Ozma reveals she's the one who started their journey by making things go weird in the first place. Sure, she could've just transported Dorothy instantly to the palace, but apparently she thought Dorothy would have more fun getting there via adventure.

What a good girlfriend.

I mean, good platonic friend.

Everything about Ozma attracted one, and she inspired love and the sweetest affection rather than awe or ordinary admiration. Dorothy threw her arms around her little friend and hugged and kissed her rapturously.

I mean, good platonic friend with rapturous kissing that I am going to sit here and enjoy no matter how Baum meant it.

~*~*~*~

Speaking of Baum, the poor guy's author's-notes get a little more strained with every book. "Welp, the children keep asking for Oz so I'm giving them more Oz, the little tyrants, haha! No really, I love children and only want to make them happy, aaaaand apparently what makes them happy is not buying any of my other books."

He really pushes it in book 5, where the big glittery finale of book 5 is Ozma's birthday -- involving a fifty-cameo pileup referencing every non-Oz book Baum had written. It...did not help their sales the way he was hoping for. (You know what I would have read? A spinoff series about Ev. We spend time there in book 3, see the royals as cameos in book 5, and then never visit the place again. Why didn't you ever write that, L. Frank?)

Honestly, I've read a lot of Baum's non-Oz books, and none of them clicked the way the Oz ones did. But it's been long enough that I couldn't tell you why. Maybe that'll be the next re-listening project.
erinptah: Madoka and Homura (madoka)

I would not have guessed there had been 147 lesbian/bi female characters on TV total, let alone 147 lesbian/bi female characters who got killed.

And that's just TV! First thing I thought of was Cloudburst (2011), a film I was loving right up until ten minutes from the end, when one of the sweet old lesbians randomly drops dead. Why, movie? Why did you have to do that?

Couldn't remember the title off the top of my head...so I found it by googling "old lesbian couple movie." Not "old lesbian couple movie where one of them dies," wasn't necessary to get that specific, it was the top result anyway.

Someone ran stats for this year, going off of GLAAD's stats for primetime broadcast programming. "In 2015 there were only 35 fictional wlw characters on television and 80 days into 2016 they’ve killed 8 of them. That is a fourth of them. In less than 3 full months of the year."

Why, industry? Why did you have to do that?

erinptah: Cat in a backpack (cat)
and I get to the episode (July 7) where he's reacting to the same-sex marriage case, and he starts reading from the decision, and I'm sitting in a public place trying not to tear up all over again.

Then he points out the poetry of how, for decades, same-sex attraction was considered disordered and unhealthy and a problem that needed to be fixed...and now we have the Supreme Court looking at the love between these people and saying, no, it is so ordered.

There went my heart. I am dead, bury me at sea.
erinptah: (Default)

All these rights and protections are open to the whole US now.

So are all these wonderful, loving, affirming scenes. (Every time I think I'm done being emotional about this, someone links to a photo of a together-for-five-decades couple finally being able to tie the knot, and I start tearing up all over again.)

That includes all of us queer cis people, all the queer trans people, and all the straight trans people, whose relationships would have been treated differently from state to state depending on whether they recognized your gender identity.

We got Mexico, too.

And Ireland is removing the requirement to get an outside medical opinion before you can be recognized as trans.

And US federal health plans now have mandatory transition-related coverage.

And we get to keep our healthcare subsidies.

And the White House is lit up in rainbows. (As are all these other buildings.) (And my Facebook feed.)

And you know, here's a thing: There's been a ton of political and corporate celebration, including politicians who never really pushed for this talking about what a great victory it is, and companies dressing up their products and logos in rainbows purely because it's good branding. You can look at all that and think, great, they only care about our rights now that it's the cool thing to do. Or you can look at all that and think, wow, caring about our rights is the cool thing to do.

None of this was happening in 2004, when Massachusetts became the first state to make same-sex marriage a thing. These politicians and these marketing departments are the weathervanes that show us what direction the winds of social change are blowing. And it's a good direction.

There are more fights to fight, but the way is so much smoother than it was just 11 years ago. And every victory makes the next one easier.
erinptah: Cat in a backpack (happy)
This is for the lesbian with cancer who needs to be on her partner's health insurance.

This is for the bi man who needs his partner's children to be allowed to visit him in the hospital.

This is for the trans woman who won't be able to keep her house unless she gets spousal benefits after her girlfriend's death.

This is for the couple who won't be able to afford a house at all unless they can file as husbands.

This is for the woman who's going to be deported without a marriage visa from her US-based wife.

This is for the queer person whose parents kicked them out of the house, but would happily swoop in and try to claim their possessions from a grieving widow...and then demand that their friends attend the funeral in birth-sex-conforming clothing.

Sometimes we fall into the trap of acting like marriage is just a symbol, just an excuse to have a party with cake. It's not. Marriage is a set of substantial rights and recognitions, many of which are most important when your life is at its worst. There's a reason the fight for same-sex marriage was originally catalyzed by the AIDS crisis. Everyone (even people with loving biological families, but especially people without them) deserves the ability to get legal recognition for their family of choice.

AND NOW WE'VE GOT IT.
erinptah: (daily show)
The NYT's article on same-sex marriage in Ireland talks a lot about the background and historical context, including the fact that homosexuality wasn't even decriminalized in Ireland until 1993. I remember 1993. (And they were still ten years ahead of Texas.)

Photos of rainbows all over Ireland after the vote. You gotta wonder how the "hurricanes are God's punishment for countries that tolerate gay people" crowd is reconciling that one.

---

In highlights of recent "cops treat black people like perpetual threats, not human beings" news: a man gets tasered and pepper-sprayed while he's unresponsive because he's having a stroke.

For contrast, have a "cops can bring in a suspect uninjured, even one who just stole some guns, ammo, and a truck, if they make the effort" story.

People killed by police, 2015. 457 and counting.

Memorial Day inspired some people to focus on #BlackSoldiersKilledByCops, which underscores the ugly point that if you kill enough of a group of people, you can pick really specific subsets and still have enough cases to fill a hashtag.

RIP Walter Scott, Anthony Hill, Brenda Williams, Kenneth Chamberlain, Denis Reynoso, Stanley Gibson, Roman Ducksworth, and Henry Dumas. Some of you were unarmed, unimpeachable, and utterly nonthreatening. Others appear to have had issues with trauma, not surprising given that you were war veterans, and you deserved care and treatment from the government you fought for, not this.

---

In more inspiring veteran-related news: the Daily Show has been quietly running a program that trains vets for positions in the television business for three years now.

Jon Stewart keeps turning out to be secretly even more of a mensch than the general public realized.
erinptah: (Default)

"The aim is to fix patients’ problems before they become expensive medical issues, so the county put its social services department to work. Its workers help people get phones and mailboxes, and take care of unpaid utility bills that otherwise could lead, for example, to insulin spoiling in nonfunctioning refrigerators."

"Despite confirmation of his mental ailment, the Washington Post reports that the war photographer couldn’t receive student aid through the post-9/11 G.I. bill because of his improper removal. But the tide may be changing for Goldsmith and countless other veterans suffering from PTSD seeking reclassification of their dismissal."

“You didn’t see this moment, Em,” Robyn said, “when your mom was standing in the kitchen. She looked a bit lost and turned to me and said: ‘I’m hungry. What do I do when I’m hungry?’ ” (On Alzheimer's, and choosing to die with dignity.)

"While they loaded me out of the ambulance at the hospital, the paramedics supposedly said to my friends, 'We've gotta be honest with you guys ... he's gonna die. Might already be dead. They're probably getting ready to harvest his organs.' But maybe they say that to everybody, so they won't be disappointed." (On what comas are like in reality, as opposed to on TV.)

"and he just listed off so many of his friends who died from it, people who he knew personally and for years. and he even said he has no idea how he made it out alive." (Some perspective on the AIDS epidemic, important for the first post-AIDS queer generation to keep in mind.)
erinptah: Girlycard (hellsing)
"Pope Francis says the issue of gay marriage should be studied and not dismissed out-of-hand, a senior Roman Catholic cardinal has revealed. "

"Every time I see it, it’s a reminder to call him," Mr. Gelles said of the number. "I find it kind of hard to relate to people I don’t know and places I haven’t been to and this thing called the Holocaust. The thing I relate to more is my grandfather."

The descendants of the secret Nazi master-race-building breeding program. To the surprise of no one, they're a completely ordinary bunch of people, united mostly by being freaked-out when they uncover their family history.

"Constantine was a Roman emperor, and a military man. So he said, 'Right. Figure it out and tell me. I’ll believe anything you say, but get it all in one sock.' He called NiceaCon One, and invited all the BNFs and SMOFs of the Christian world to have a business meeting and hammer it out."

"Divorce is higher among religiously conservative Protestants – and even drives up divorce rates for other people living around them, a new study finds."
erinptah: Madoka and Homura (madoka)
Parks and Recreation was on Netflix, so I gave it a try. Watched a couple episodes from season 1, then season 2, and was ungripped. Maybe the writing gets better in later seasons, but the whole shaky-cam thing isn't doing it for me either.

Skipped instead to Wings, a sitcom from the '90s about a tiny independent airline in Nantucket. Funny, charming, with normal camera-work. Same kind of workplace humor as Cabin Pressure, so if you like that, I recommend this.

---

One thing struck me about trying the two back-to-back like this. There's an episode of Parks & Rec where Leslie, our heroine, stages a cute "marriage ceremony" for two penguins as an event for the zoo. Then it turns out the penguins are both male. And it turns into this whole PR brouhaha, with ~family values~ groups complaining about the scandal.

Throughout the whole thing, Leslie's response is consistently "I just thought it would be cute! I wasn't trying to make a statement!" It's doing the whole comedy-of-awkwardness thing...but the awkwardness was never about the family-values groups being inherently wrong to attack pro-gay-rights convictions. Rather, they were wrong because they mistakenly got the idea that Leslie had pro-gay-rights convictions for them to attack. It felt like I was being asked to sympathize with her for accidentally making people think she supported same-sex marriage at all. What a wild and kooky situation to be in, right?

It was just really uncomfortable to watch.

Now, about Wings. Which is not perfect by a long shot. There are some iffy jokes about weight; there are jokes about gender that only work if you forget the existence of trans people; every single one of them is white. But! There's an episode (s02e10) where one character's teenage son (Roy's son R.J.) comes out as gay.

And it's so good. There's no angst! R.J. and his feelings are the focus of the arc, not any of the straight characters around him! It comes up naturally in conversation during a non-sexuality-related plot!

The kid is introduced as an aspiring cellist, and starts getting lessons from one of our heroines. He comes out to her first, realizes it feels good, and goes on to tell the rest of our heroes. There's never any question about whether they judge him or support him -- their only worry is how Roy is going to take it. He decides to organize a pride parade! Their only reaction is "okay, well, guess you better tell your dad in person now, rather than letting him find out from the parade."

So the R.J. does. Now, Roy is the obnoxious owner of our heroes' rival charter airline -- sexist, among other things, but that's presented as part of his obnoxiousness, not an endearing or neutral trait. (After one snippy comment, Helen takes his lunch away. "Hey, I paid for that ham sandwich!" exclaims Roy. Helen shoots back, "Wouldn't want you eating your own kind.")

And his whole reaction is very real. He's no Burt Hummel, but there's never any suggestion he doesn't love his son, even as he goes through the whole process of "are you sure? Is there any chance you might change your mind? *grabs a basketball* Let's play a round of one-on-one -- if you win, you're allowed to be gay."

For context, Roy is a big guy, but R.J. is bigger, and about a head taller. The kid wins a lot of rounds.

And all this in 1990!

The whole thing felt so much more welcoming. Totally-supportive was the default view of the straight protagonists. Roy's homophobia issues were rolled out as another symptom of dickishness, and one that he can work through (even if it takes time), rather than as a thing with some validity that you should try to avoid crossing. R.J. got to be chill about everything, never embarrassed or apologetic, and no one tried to make him feel like he should be.

---

I think I'm developing a real narrative thing for stories about people, especially parents, whose acceptance is imperfect but who are on the right track. They're feel-good in a totally different way from the Burt Hummels of the fictional world.

It's not because the parents' hang-ups make logical sense. They don't. It's not endorsing people with these issues, just acknowledging the reality that they exist -- you probably recognize a few from your own life -- and it's cathartic to see them presented as ultimately on your side, weird issues and all.

...and this whole thing will probably never come up in Wings again, but it was great when it happened, and the rest of the series is charming and snappy, and I'm definitely watching more.

(Also! As long as I'm talking about Wings and representation: one of the main characters is a woman in her sixties. And she gets a normal amount of subplots, and the occasional love interest, and is generally funny and wonderful.)
erinptah: (disney)
"'She runs to my arms and said, "I need to see my mommy,"' Boggs said."

"Principal fires security guards to hire art teachers — and transforms elementary school."

"Today, the high school graduation rate for Tangelo Park is 100 percent. And no, that is not a typo."

"Galimberti explores the universality of being a kid amidst the diversity of the countless corners of the world; saying, 'at their age, they are pretty all much the same; they just want to play.'"

China has self-service libraries in the subway. And we don't. America, I am disappointed in you.

Although we did a pretty good job turning this abandoned Wal-Mart into a library.

"The octopus – now nicknamed Jock the janitor – took up tidying after watching staff at Loch Lomond Aquarium wipe his glass."

"They exchanged the rings that they had been wearing for 20 years, but now they can legally call them wedding rings."

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