scarlettina: ("So Many Books...")
A lot of interesting stuff has been popping up on my LiveJournal and Facebook feeds lately, so I've decided to aggregate them here for my reference and yours if you are so interested.

I don't know how many of you follow the delightful and thoughtful [livejournal.com profile] jimhines but if you don't, you might want to consider it. He's been running a guest blog series on representation in science fiction and fantasy, and some of the latest essays have hit pretty close to home. Links are included below.

Nancy Jane Moore's essay "No More Dried Up Spinsters" gets into the issue of representation of older, unmarried women in SF and fantasy. What's missing, she says, is vibrant, independent women of a certain age who don't need a man to be complete and who aren't done living by a long stretch. (As one of those women, I'm here to say "I feel ya, Nancy Jane.") It's an excellent essay, well worth reading.

She notes, about halfway through her essay that "Catherine Lundoff has put together a great list of older women characters in SF/F, which she’s updating regularly. But to get a good list, she has defined 'older' as women 40 and above." I have made a point to mention, in the comments, Sian Katte and Arian, Factora-Consort of Alizar, from [livejournal.com profile] calendula_witch (Shannon Page) and [livejournal.com profile] jaylake's novel Our Lady of the Islands, as they are perfect examples of the kind of women we're looking for: experienced, independent, with agency and not in need of any man in particular.

Gabrielle Harbowy's excellent essay "Next Year in Jerusalem" gets into the issue of representation of Jews in science fiction and fantasy. As in Seattle, we are few and far between in the genre (though I will note, on behalf of [livejournal.com profile] kradical, that some of the Star Trek tie-in novels feature a couple of prominent Jewish characters and, on behalf of [livejournal.com profile] mabfan, his most excellent Hugo Award-nominated story "Kaddish for the Last Survivor" which you can read at the link--among others of his work--has Judaism at its heart). Steven Silver has compiled an extensive list of Jewish science fiction and fantasy and includes links to other sources as well.

Lastly, Alis Franklin's essay, "Fat Chicks in SFF" gets into another area with which I have some passing familiarity. I was surprised that she hadn't encountered Mary in Spider Robinson's Callahan stories, a character that made me loyal to Spider as author to this very day (and thereby hangs a tale for another time). But she's got a point worth making.

Finding myself in my genre has been challenging, and I'm grateful to Jim for giving space to allow these voices to be heard.
scarlettina: (UFO: Believe)
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I edited books for a Major New York Publisher. And because I'd had a longtime interest in UFOs, alien abduction, and the paranormal in general, I edited a couple of titles on these subjects for said employer. I had a quiet conviction that, while I didn't know what had happened to people who claimed to be alien abductees, something had happened to them, and I was fascinated by the possibilities, as horrific as some of them seemed to be. (And once you've read as many books on this subject as I admit to having read, you realize that these ideas are horrifying.) But nothing can turn a believer into a skeptic so quick as receiving a phone call from an alleged abductee wanting to know where her money is. Or a book proposal that pushes the edge just a little too far. The proposal that ended my career as an editor of the paranormal attempted to relate all of the paranormal phenomena you can think of into one big package, a sort of unified field theory of the weird, if you will. Pyramids were related to crop circles were related to aliens were related to the Kali Yuga World Cycle were related to ghosts, and if A equals B and B equals C, then A equals C and WE'RE ALL DOOMED! I didn't acquire that project, and I never edited another one of these books again.

Now, I should state for the record that I still have an interest in all these subjects. It's hard for me to pass up TV shows about alien abduction, or the occasional episode of UFO Hunters or The Haunted. It's fun stuff to think about, and spooky goodness is always entertaining. For every twenty or thirty crackpots, there are one or two serious researchers (like the well-credentialed Dr. David M. Jacobs, whom I interviewed for a project, who does really interesting research, and who was completely credible--and funny as hell, too) who make pretty convincing arguments on the subject. And I admit that I'm still intrigued by the idea that There's Something Out There. But extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and, these days, I'm far more interested in the credibility of the evidence than I am in the extraordinariness of the claims.

Which brings me to why I'm posting about all this stuff this morning. On Facebook, an acquaintance whom I know to have some interest in these things posted a link to an article that discusses a video making the rounds in conspiracy circles. The video claims to show President Obama being guarded by a shapeshifting alien secret service agent at a public speaking event. It's all about video artifacting effects, of course, but the narration is hilariously serious, especially the bit about "Illuminati elites being in bed with extraterrestrials." I presume the "Illuminati elites" refers to the president and the assemblage to which he is speaking, specifically, a meeting of AIPAC, also referred to in the video as a "Zionist cabal." What this article and the video it analyzes demonstrates is how a simple misunderstanding of evidence leads to incredible conclusions. In some circles, of course, video can't be argued with; this video may--MAY!--be evidence of government affiliation with extraterrestrial influences. I was never this far into the deep end, ever, and I have difficulty imagining the mindset that would take such stuff seriously.

But if I still worked for that Large New York Publisher, I might see an opportunity for a book about all the ways that evidence can be misconstrued, and all the bogus theories that might emerge as a result.
scarlettina: (Default)
This morning in his link salad, [livejournal.com profile] jaylake included a link to a National Geographic piece about language loss, a magnificent photo essay/slide show showing people who speak vanishing languages, including words from those languages. Most of the languages shown are Native American, though they are certainly not the only languages we are losing in the world. I'd encourage you to look at it because, really, the portraits are extraordinary and the effect of seeing these people and sampling their words is quite moving.

Looking at the words and images reminded me of my first, extraordinary Passover here in Seattle. I was working at Wizards of the Coast and was invited to seder at the home of a coworker. Her parents were Greek immigrants, and so I knew that I would be attending my first-ever seder in the Sephardic tradition. I figured that the foods would be different from what I'd grown up with as an Ashkenazic Jew. What I hadn't expected was to hear an entirely new language--and providing the same experience myself, though unaware that I would be doing so. My coworker's parents spoke Greek and Ladino, a mixture of Spanish and Hebrew, much as Yiddish is a mix of German and Hebrew, a language that has been designated in danger of extinction. It was beautiful and musical, and I was completely enthralled listening to it. It sounded a little like Portuguese, and a lot unfamiliar; I couldn't get enough of hearing it. What I didn't expect was how delighted her parents were that I could say prayers and read in Hebrew. They asked if I wanted to make one of the blessings that night or, well, pretty much anything I wanted to. They wanted to hear me read and speak Hebrew*, as they'd never heard it before, even in synagogue (where, apparently, Ladino was the primary language). I was surprised, delighted, and a little humbled, to do so; I felt like it was nothing compared to listening to their beautiful Ladino and was not nearly as important or impressive--but these experiences are in the ear of the listener, aren't they? We did the seder in four languages that night: Greek, Hebrew, Ladino, and English, and to this day it's one of my most precious holiday memories.

That memory brought on another: of seeing a documentary about the "homeland" that Stalin tried to establish for Russia's Jews in the southeastern portion of the country. The one thing I remember most clearly about seeing that film was a moment of pure, almost instinctive memory. One scene shows a group of seniors singing a Yiddish folksong, Tumbalalaika. I hadn't heard that song in . . . well, probably since I was too small to really remember it consciously, but as soon as they began to sing, I remembered it, and it was a revelation, uncovering something that had been buried for decades--and I could sing along! I didn't sing out loud, of course; in a crowded theater that would have been rude. But I sat there and quietly mouthed the words for as long as the scene lasted. And I still remember it today, a waltzing melody that is sweet and a little sad.

So here I am this morning, hopping through this chain of language and memory. I think that music is as powerful a memory trigger as scent is, at least for me, and for me, language and music have always been closely tied. Which all brings me back to the thing that provoked this post, because I can't help but mourn the loss of the music that's disappearing right in front of us as we lose a language once every fourteen days. On the one hand, with globalization and colonization and forced assimilation, it was bound to occur. On the other hand, hope springs eternal, with things like the Endangered Languages project, which works to preserve languages in danger of extinction. I hope that Yiddish and Ladino will both be preserved and survive. Like so many of the languages profiled in the National Geographic slide show, it's not just a language that will be lost, but a rich culture and heritage, traditions and practices, that we'll never see again.


* It should be noted that my Hebrew is the product of early training and that what comes out of me is either done from memory or read phonetically. Though I have basics, as any good Hebrew school student might, I can't translate or speak it in any meaningful way without significant brush-up.
scarlettina: (Independence Day)
The revolution will be tweeted (via [livejournal.com profile] suricattus)

There's always one. What happens when you fire a gun near fireworks? The Kitsap Peninsula here in Washington state got an early fireworks show. Not quite Darwin-awards level of stupid but damn close.

USA.gov offers some fun facts about the Fourth of July.

Must poke around my closet this morning to see if I have anything to wear that is chromatically appropriate for the day. (This is a long tradition of mine. I look good in red, white, and blue, and I believe I still have star-shaped silver earrings.) Must also run errands (oooh--groceries!). A lunch engagement and a game day are on the docket, with the possible addition of fireworks since, you know, they blow things up only a few blocks from my house every year. Seems silly not to go out and enjoy it.

Happy Independence Day!
scarlettina: (Default)
I'm backing this project on Kickstarter--a documentary about the legacy of the 1965 World's Fair--and I think you should, too. Why? Because a great deal of the world we know was first introduced there, and more people ought to know about it. Also? Because it's fun! (I'm a documentary junkie, in case you didn't know. Also, my brother and I are both World's Fair enthusiasts, as was our dad, so this project has a special place in my heart.)
scarlettina: (Peace Dollar)
In case you ever wonder why I'm a sometime numismatist (that's "coin collector" to you lay peoples), check out this article about America's rarest coin, and the history and mystery behind it. This is the stuff that bestsellers are made of (and also, maybe, a fantasy story . . .). You can't hold this particular coin in your hand, but you can purchase modern versions with the same obverse design from the Mint.

A little more coin trivia: The coin discussed in the article was sculpted by Augustus Saint Gaudens, who also created my favorite American coin, the Peace Dollar (see my icon). He is also the artist who artist James Gurney is discussing on his blog today (tip of the hat to [livejournal.com profile] jaylake who originally linked to the Gurney piece).
scarlettina: (Snowflake 2)
I have noticed my wonderfully gifted writer friends posting holiday stories all over the Web. This morning, I decided that I'd aggregate links to those that I could find as a sort of Christmas anthology. These pieces are awesome: some are dark, some are funny, but they're all entertaining. For my friends who celebrate, and for those who bask in the residual holiday cheer: enjoy!

Reindeer Games, a noirish tale of reindeers and fat men, by urban fantasy author Kat Richardson

One Foot in the Grave, which posits that a spot by the chimney may not be the only place for a stocking, by science fiction/fantasy author J. Steven York

Elf Shit, the dark truth about Santa and his elves, by science fiction/fantasy author Jay Lake

Bedlam Inn, a Victorian Christmas fantasy, by alt-history fantasy author Madeleine Robins.

And some random holiday delights:

NORAD Tracks Santa: I follow him every year. At this writing, he's over Kazakhstan.

An eel-powered Christmas tree in (where else?) Japan.

Holiday fiction from the New York Times by Tea Obreht

For the Seattle locals, 5 ideas for the week between Christmas and New Year's

Merry happy!
scarlettina: (Default)
Weather: It's gray and rainy today, and feeling a lot like autumn, even though it's August 31 and we're supposed to have three more weeks of summer, at least. But here's what I've learned about weather in the Pacific Northwest: The local weather gods seem to enjoy the Gregorian calendar (punctuated by American holidays) so much that they hew to its boundaries with remarkable accuracy. We almost always get rain on the 4th of July. And autumn seems to descend uncannily on or about Labor Day Weekend, whether it's actually astronomically autumn or not.

Books: Have I mentioned my reading lately? I don't think I have. I recently finished Shades of Grey by our own [livejournal.com profile] clea_s, a mystery novel with a slight paranormal edge in the form of Mr Grey, a ghostly feline who helps out his former mistress, Harvard grad student Dulcie Schwartz. While struggling to settle on her thesis subject, Dulcie finds herself in the midst of a murder mystery. It's a charming book, filled with local detail and color. Though I do dip my toes in occasionally, I don't often read mysteries (except those, like Adam-Troy Castro's excellent Andrea Cort novels, with a science fiction or fantasy edge), so this was a nice diversion for me. Dulcie's a smart and practical protagonist, and I'll almost certainly be reading more about her adventures.

Work: I am by nature a social creature. Although the prospect of telecommuting was attractive, now that I'm doing it, I find myself feeling pretty isolated. Yesterday, it was particularly challenging. I needed to spend some time on the Microsoft campus, so I reserved a conference room and got down to it. It's lonely sitting in a conference room by oneself. It's lonely going somewhere to work by oneself and not feeling like one has one's own spot to sit each day. This probably sounds terribly childish, but I didn't like it a bit. There's no camaraderie in this situation, and I feel a little at sea. I'll get over it; it's probably new-job settling-in syndrome. But it's discomfiting and I look forward to finding my place in this new situation.

Weird: In case you thought the weird left the Pacific Northwest when the X Files film crew departed Vancouver for LA, let me disabuse you of this notion. Rachel Maddow beautifully summarizes the mystery of the dismembered feet that has been developing here for quite some time now. Maddow, to her credit, avoids speculation of any kind about the story. It's just strange and fascinating and, well...ooky.

Hair, lack of same, and headgear: In an engaging essay, a local rabbi contemplates the difficulties of wearing yarmulkes without hair. Of the many things that delight me about this piece is his explanation that the wearing of a yarmulke isn't a halachic requirement but it's earned the weight of same by the force of tradition.
scarlettina: (Ashamed)
Let me share with you the links that have thus far distracted me from being truly productive this morning:

Tea partiers try to express themselves (care of [livejournal.com profile] mistymarshall). What a world Fox News is creating.

The trailer for a new IMAX 3D film about the repair of the Hubble telescope makes the film look awesome. Must see it.

"The top 25 most ancient historical photographs" is a fascinating gallery of early photography that I couldn't stop looking at (care of [livejournal.com profile] jaylake).

Today's Post Secrets post intrigued me (for no particular reason--it always intrigues me).

I've been kvelling over the number of friends who contributed to Family Games: The 100 Best edited by James Lowder. I travel in such a high-falutin' crowd (though I wish it included more women)! Buy your copy today!

I've been researching links and news with which to update the @flatstuff Twitter feed.

I must needs move on to other things. I have projects to work on, posts I want to compose for LJ on subjects other than my personal life, and laundry to do. Must also cuddle cats. Cuddling cats is key. Also alliterative.
scarlettina: (Geek Crossing)
Our own beloved [livejournal.com profile] the_monkey_king is this week's Seattle Post-Intelligencer Geek of the Week. "Go play," he says, "and pursue a strategy of joy." Congratulations!

And my, what a fine portrait the article sports, don't you think? :-)
scarlettina: (Have A Cookie)
Snurched from [livejournal.com profile] mysticalforest: Recipes are key on Thanksgiving, and regionality makes all the difference. The NY Times provides a really nifty tool showing what recipes are most commonly searched for in each state via a clever interactive map. What do people in your state typically search for most? Check it out.

Thanksgiving is a day when we express our gratitude for all the goodness in our lives. My brother, my friends, my kitties are my goodness. And as an expression of my gratitude, I share with you one of my top ten favorite sequences from Friends, perhaps the only time you'll ever see Courtney Cox with a turkey on her head.

Garrison Keillor observes that on Thanksgiving we gather among our kin who know us a little too well, and put civility to a true test. He also gives Sarah Palin props for encouraging the conservative right to join the book-buying public. Well, I'll give her that anyway, but no more--and neither will he.

And lest we forget, you can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant (excepting Alice).

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. So many of us are having a tough time right now, but having each other makes it all a little easier and for that--having each other--I'm truly thankful.
scarlettina: (Have A Cookie)
Clients from Hell: Designers share comments received from clients. Having spent lots of time with graphic designers trying not to sound like this, I cringed as I read and promised myself to continue to be vigilant and not say things like, "The unicorn doesn't look realistic."

Help! I'm bored!: You know, if you're feeling bored (snurched from [livejournal.com profile] gnomi--and if you don't know who Alessandro Moreschi is, scroll right to the bottom of the page and find out--especially those of you who are musically inclined).

Proof once again that the folks at NORAD have too much time on their hands: They're at it again, preparing to track a world-marauding, mass-driving shapeshifter and his trained herd of magical rangifer tarandi across the globe.

Seattle's forecast for the next five days is remarkably, depressingly consistent.

Seattle's mayor-elect doesn't have a transition team, he has a "team of ambassadors." I voted for the guy mainly because the other guy couldn't really speak knowledgeably on almost any of the issues that really press the city right now. But McGinn made me nervous with his "Buses and bicycles will save the city" rhetoric at a time when one of our main thoroughfares could collapse in the next big earthquake and when buses and bicycles really didn't help during last year's Snowpocalypse. I'm willing to wait and see what McGinn can achieve, but I admit to a healthy skepticism, too.
scarlettina: (Writing)
1) [livejournal.com profile] gnomi dreams of me, my phantom home in Boston, and my secret TV show.

2) Nabbed from [livejournal.com profile] ironymaiden: The superhero project: Art with a message--everyday people are often superheroes to those they love.

3) [livejournal.com profile] jaylake: Jay turns his cancer surgery into an art project.

4) Via [livejournal.com profile] holyoutlaw, a universal truth: There's nothing so happy-making as a squeaky toy. I laughed out loud watching this.

5) [livejournal.com profile] mcjulie's writing an honest, thoughtful, candid series of posts about her experience of religion growing up. You ought to read it. Yes, really, you should. My journey has been significantly different from hers, and yet I recognize myself in between the cracks. You might, too.

It must be October

Tue, Oct. 6th, 2009 08:01 am
scarlettina: (I'm going to haunt)
The zombies are coming. Watch out! (With thanks to [livejournal.com profile] hank.)
scarlettina: (Science Geek)
Let's take a moment: We're living in the future. We have an International Space Station in orbit. Didn't we used to write books about this possibility? Wanna see it come together? Courtesy of a friend WINOLJ: Watch the Space Station assemble. A lovely animation--and it's science fact!
scarlettina: (Squishy)
Social calendar: After several phone calls tonight either canceling or confirming plans, I find my week astonishingly busy for someone who is unemployed.

Weather: Tonight I'll be adding a blanket to my bed. It's chilly, even with all the windows closed. Not turning on the heat yet; I know how to keep warm. But tonight's sudden thunderstorm and downpour has embedded the chill a little more firmly in the air and the building. The time for heat is coming soon...but not yet.

Entertainment: Caught up with Mad Men and Project Runway the last couple of days. Is it me, or is this season's Runway cast a little more competitive and nasty than previous seasons? I think there's real talent in the group, but they've all got an edge. Mad Men is juicy and quite fine. Poor Don, having to face commitment at last.

Books: Currently reading [livejournal.com profile] jaylake's Green. At Foolscap, I picked up a copy of Shanna Abe's Queen of Dragons and pulled a copy of Joan Vinge's The Snow Queen from the Magic Book Box. My To-Read pile is so huge it almost doesn't matter if I add more. It's all goodness. But another purge is coming soon, methinks.

Kitties: I think Spanky and Sophie have reached detente. There is occasional mutual grooming, though Sophie still attacks his tail and the spots on his back legs. The three of us napped on the couch a bit today, Sophie on my chest and Spanky on my lap. I'm shared territory now. I hope it will continue.

Job hunt: I've had a couple of nibbles, but nothing completely substantial yet. More applications to go out tomorrow.

Cool stuff:
1) I've been scheduled to do voice-over recording for both Lineage II and Exteel for NCsoft. I'm very excited at the prospect. I'm to record on Thursday, so I'll be reading through the scripts and rehearsing over the next couple of days. I promise a report when it's done.
2) Courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] e_bourne: Nero's revolving banquet hall, referenced in ancient biographies of the emperor, has been uncovered in Rome atop the Palatine Hill. This is exciting archeological news. What technology for ancient Rome! Makes me wonder (again) how far we would have come had Rome not fallen.
3) Where culture and heritage collide and synergize--Jewish Bluegrass: Lovers of the banjo, fiddle and mandolin blend cultural identity and religious faith to create a uniquely American sound. (If only [livejournal.com profile] dochyel were here to see this!)
scarlettina: (Radio Scarlettina)
I first heard the name John Moe on KUOW, the local NPR affiliate, on "Weekend America." He's a humorist, author, and commentator. What I didn't know is that he regularly produces pieces for McSweeney's. The Pop Song Correspondenses are absolutely brilliant. Go pick any one of them to read, but especially if one of them involves a song you know well. You'll have a blast. Trust me.
scarlettina: (To Boldly Go)
For all my Trek friends: A tricorder media player--available for sale. This thing is awesome.

Want. Want want want.

The world's party

Fri, Aug. 7th, 2009 10:05 pm
scarlettina: (GWTW: Pleased as punch)
Spoke to my brother tonight and heard something I never thought I'd hear: he's thinking about international travel. You know how I can't get enough of it? Bro's never expressed much interest.

But Bro is a World's Fair enthusiast. He's been interested in the Expos since we were little kids. And it turns out that Expo 2010 (yes, there are still World's Fairs being held all over the world--except in the US) will be the largest World's Fair ever held.

Where's it happening? Shanghai.

It also looks as though the US will be participating, which doesn't happen. It's huge. And a model for the building has been unveiled.

The fair's theme is "Better City, Better Life" and a number of international cities are participating--Barcelona, Liverpool, Hong Kong, Hamburg, London, and Paris among others. Where are New York City, Washington DC, Seattle?

Why isn't this being covered by the media?

My brother's talking about looking for a travel package to attend. I have to admit, it's tempting. (Let's not discuss money; I'm blue-skying here.)
scarlettina: (WW: Smart and savvy)
Who’s Buried in Cleopatra’s Tomb?

Zahi Hawass, Egypt's director of antiquities and the country's archeological answer to Carl Sagan (you can't turn on the History Channel without catching him, speaking in his clipped, precise, Egyptian-accented English, his voice filled with obvious enthusiasm), thinks he may have the answer at a dig going on under the ruins of the temple of Taposiris Magna in Egypt. This op-ed is very good, an interesting analysis of Cleopatra VII's place in history as the original politician-temptress.

Based on portraits on coinage of the time, I have to believe that her charm was more about intellect, education, and socialization than it was about beauty. I need to read more about her. I'm looking forward to reading this Times contributor's upcoming book.

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