Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Dobie Gillis Uses a Mimeograph Machine

Mimeographs, & Star Trek's 20th Anniversary on CFQ

The University of Iowa Special Collections & University Archives has an archive of fan materials, including 10,000 zines, convention materials, pulp literature, comics and other fan stuff in their Hevelin Collection [on Tumblr]. 

Their current Fanzine Digitization Project is currently scanning the sci-fi fanzines from the 1930s-1950s, the Golden Age of sci-fi.

The zines were often duplicated on mimeograph machines.
I remember mimeographs' (or dittos') purple ink and sweetish oily odor from grade school days.

ABOVE: "Mimeograph machine in fanzine lounge" at Balticon 13, 1979, picture #54 at www.bsfs.org/bsfsalbum-b13.htm

BELOW: Picture #20: "Collating program materials" at the sci-fi convention:
Film magazine Cinefantastique started out as a mimeographed fanzine about genre movies in 1967 before going pro. 

This is CFQ'March 1987 issue on the 20th anniversary of Star Trek: The Original Series from "The History of Cinefantastique Magazine":

Monday, September 26, 2016

A little perspective...

Detective Comics v.1 #371, January 1968, cover by Carmine Infantino and Murhpy Anderson;
from the Hevelin Collection (on Tumblr) at the University of Iowa fan archives.

Maybe those spikes on her gauntlets caught on her tights?
Tights do run, but not as much as pantyhose... Does anyone wear pantyhose anymore? Not much, I think.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

In Media Race

The fan podcast Fansplaining got me thinking more about race and pop culture fandom  [transcript of part 1: "Race & Fandom"].

Many of the guests refer to recent statistics that show that there are more fan-written romances online about the Star Wars: Force Awakens couple to the left here
< Hux & Kylo Ren
than there are romances about the central black character Finn.

It seems to be the case that even when main characters in media are poc [people of color], like Finn, fans don't incorporate them into fandom as romantic figures as often as they do the white characters, even if the white characters are minor, like Hux, who's only onscreen briefly.

There's a whole list of reasons why fans say they don't ship [imagine in a romantic relationship] characters--reasons that on the surface may be legit, such as "the actor isn't very good", but reasons that somehow get suspended for white characters. (White actor Adam Driver (Kylo Ren) is
a better actor with than without his mask.)

[neogenesis85 compiled a list of these reasons, and more on this topic---here, in a post about "the intersection of race and misogyny (misogynoir) in fandom":
"Fandom Misogyny and Racism II", September 21, 2016.]

Are we now in a situation where some canon is more enlightened than some of the fans who've been calling for more and better representation of poc and all women?

From the same article, above:

"[TV show] The Walking Dead fandom is a textbook example: Michonne 
[Danai Gurira, right > killing zombies] 
showed up shortly after [white man] Rick’s wife died, and the show started building their relationship from go.
"When they started trusting each other, the soundtrack played a romantic piano score over their scenes.
Michonne started to fill a void for Rick and his kids, and they did the same for her. They started to become a family – Rick couldn’t do it without her, and he straight up told her that.  
"Then the show introduces white, blonde Jessie and they [fans]’re all like 'finally, a love interest for Rick!' I don’t even think most were conscious of it, it just never occurred to them that a love story had been building between Michonne and Rick all along."
Its not just race---Jessie presents as a straight girly girl; Michonne is an Amazon.
And that brings up another objection some fans had to "Richonne"-- that Michonne is a strong, independent, bad ass woman who shouldn't need(?) a romantic relationship with a man.

I get that in a way--because women in media always have to have a man.
But in another way I don't get it at all. It is so hard, it is so tiring to always be the strong one, alone--I say, let that woman have a boyfriend! Further, let that boyfriend give her foot rubs. And shoulder rubs---it's hard work swinging a sword.

Also, the show does have lesbian characters, so Michonne doesn't have to represent everyone.

Now, certainly some white fans were over the moon when Michonne & Rick finally kissed last season:
bink excitedly told me about it, even though I wasn't watching the show anymore. (It got too cruel for me--though I'm tempted to try again this season to see how this ship progresses.)

But it's naive to think that fandom overall (well, in the United States) will be entirely different than the racist culture at large. Even as we try (hopefully) to be better than that, we're none of us immune to these massive historical forces that work on a micro level, like mold spores.  

It's hard, but I don't think white fans like me should be surprised and defensive when we get it wrong.

Things Happen Without White People Involved

I was also just wondering about race and fandom re two new Netflix series:
Stranger Things, which is getting tons of love, and
The Get Down, which isn't (viewership so "tepid" it may not get renewed).

I can't see why the one is more popular than the other. 
They're actually somewhat similar---both following groups of kids in the past (Get Down in 1977/ Stranger Things in 1984). 
If anything, the Get Down may be the more interesting, though I've only watched the pilot (which stands alone well).
The Get Down celebrates the birth of hip-hop from African American and Latinx culture. [The 'x' in Latinx replaces the gendered "a" or "o". Nifty, huh?]

So, it's just not about white people at all.
And I wonder if that's why viewership is low...
The show's not another rehash of slavery or drug dealers---it's about black & brown characters making their own creative world: 
Even that brilliant TV series The Wire was about the tragedy of being black in white America, and while it was wonderfully complex, there was nothing in it to disturb liberal white fans like me. 'Cause it was still centered on us.
It even made the Stuff White People Like blog, who noted,
"Though white people have a natural aversion to television, there are some exceptions."
I'm trying to say, white fans (like me!) are used to hearing about how we are involved, even if it's in a bad way, but we're not used to not hearing about ourselves at all.

 Saturday Night Live did a skit about this--about how white people got upset at Beyoncé's song "Formation" because it was about her Black experience.
White person 1: "Maybe this song isn't for us?" 
White person 2: "But usually everything is!" 
The Day Beyoncé Turned Black--

CNN said Beyoncé caused a stir "by inserting race into her art…" and performing “Formation” at the 2016 Super Bowl.
[Sorry, this video keeps getting taken down off youTube.] 

"inserting race into her art"???
Taylor Swift does it all the time!

Friday, September 23, 2016

"The Get Down"

The Netflix series the Get Down got mixed reviews, which I do not understand.
I watched the first episode (of 8) last night and it's great!
It's about a group of kids in the South Bronx in 1977, participating in or witnessing the birth of hip-hop. 

Sort of like the kids in Stranger Things, they live within their own kid culture, relying on each other, and navigating their city on kid maps, because
a) they want to, like kids do, and 
b) the adults can't protect them from the destructive forces around them. 

It's too soon to say, but so far I like it more than Stranger Things, partly because it's fantastical, sort of like a parrot flying into your face, but in a pleasant way?
but it's not a fantasy--the monsters are real: the intro includes a flash of film footage of John Wayne Gacy.

Despite the reviews, I was willing to give it a try because director Baz Luhrman made one of my favorite movies, Strictly Ballroom (1992--complete on youTube)--about Scott, the son of ballroom-dance teachers, and Fran, a fierce, gawky dance student--here, practicing on the rooftop, with the laundry:

And right away, Luhrman puts Fran's catchphrase into the mouth of one of the kids on Get Down:
"A life lived in fear is a life half-lived." (
Vivir con miedo es como vivir a medias.)

Ballroom Dancing is his personal story, Luhrman said in 2013
"Ballroom dancing, I think, it was an escape into working class theatre"---which helps explain why he gets the Bronx black and Hispanic kids who are similarly looking for escapes into music & performance.
"[Strictly Ballroom's] not actually a show with me, it's about my life. I was a ballroom dancer. I went quite far," said Luhrmann [below at 10 y.o., with dance ribbons].
He grew up in a northern NSW village [in Australia].
"My father drove us two hours twice a week to Taree to do dance lessons. We were extremely isolated. I lived in a tiny town of 11 houses. And my father, who had been to the Vietnam War, was very obsessed with education and so we were ballroom dancing, commando training, painting, music, the arts.…
"You'd be cleaning up the shop (at the petrol station his family owned) and fixing up the farm and then you'd be putting on a tuxedo, sparkly shirt and it was the theatre. You were performing, people were clapping, you'd travelled to the big smoke (Newcastle). It was majestic, it was escapist, it was beautiful. But it was also profoundly political."
 [end quote]

Luhrman created the Get Down with "a lot of help from the originators of hip hop themselves, like Grandmaster Flash, Nas, and writer Nelson George, who all contribute to the show. 

“I reached out to people whose story it was, because it’s not my story,” Luhrmann says. “I just curated that story.” 

 It felt like the real '70s to me (not the fake '70s-feel of the Nice Guys I keep complaining about)--for instance, throughout the first episode, this sweet kid Ra-Ra (Skylan Brooks) keeps trying to get his friends to go see a certain newly released movie:

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Getting Stronger!

I'd written that I don't mind so much having gained weight, I mind having lost strength through inactivity.

So I'm super happy that after a few weeks of baby-beginning-again weight lifting only my body weight (that's not no weight!), yesterday I felt the need for a little more resistance, and for the first time in a long time, I added plates (the littlest) to my empty bar.

And in my fandom research I found a new crush to inspire me: Zarya, from the game Overwatch*:
Her weapon is a particle cannon! (Whatever that is---something from Ghostbusters?)

 I looked up women's weight lifting and was reminded of Olympic athlete Cheryl Haworth. I really want to watch this doc about her, Strong! because it's from an artistic, filmmaking pov, it's not a "how-to" sports film. The director references Muybridge's motion studies [below, Eadweard Muybridge: "Woman. Jumping on step-stones"]
 and says she was suprised to realize that "weight lifting is basically jumping." SO COOL!

I can't find it online---here's a trailer:

Now, off to the YW to move very slowly and carefully. 

*Overwatch [wiki]: "Soldiers. Scientists. Adventurers. Oddities.
In a time of global crisis, an international task force of heroes banded together to restore peace to a war-torn world. This organization, known as Overwatch, ended the crisis and helped maintain peace for a generation, inspiring an era of exploration, innovation, and discovery.
After many years, Overwatch's influence waned and it was eventually disbanded. Now in the wake of its dismantling, conflict is rising once again. Overwatch may be gone... but the world still needs heroes."

It's an Open, Open, Open, Open World

Recently someone was telling me about how they couldn't do some-little-thing or other because of some piddling rule, which seemed arbitrary to me, and I said, 
"You know those rules are just more like guidelines, right? They're not eternal truths. I mean, no one is going to show up and put bamboo splinters under your fingernails if you don't follow them."

They did not see it that way, so I let it go. (I'm getting better!)
It can feel like our lives are on railroad tracks, but reading about videogames, I realized if our lives were a video game, the game would be what's called "open world"--something about which I knew 100% nothing until a few months ago.

In an open world, there are few predetermined limitations––except the unavoidable ones, like, if you don't have a power source, you won't be able to play very long,
or if the game design is bad, there won't be much to do.

We're free to roam, associate with others, develop our characters, change our clothes, make up or disregard the rules of the game. It's up to us.

In a closed game––Pacman, say––you can only play the game as the game is intended to be played.  

Not so in open-world games such as Minecraft (kinda like digital Legos) and the ultra-violent Grand Theft Auto (GTA).

I was just reading a transcript of a podcast "Games and Fandom" on Fansplaining [article about].
 < Image by RedGoldSparks

The hosts, Flourish Klink & Elizabeth Minkel, were discussing how you don't have to spend your time in GTA being violent, you can play it like a "walking simulator" (exploration) game---where you wander around exploring stuff.

Here's a clip from that transcript:
FK: OK, so… If you’re playing Grand Theft Auto, right. You can choose to do exactly what the game wants you to do and go and, like, slap some…

ELM: …Shoot some women in the head?

FK: It’s not the only thing you can do!
Because it’s an open world game, so that’s what the game sort of wants you to do, but you can also just say “fuck that” and go and like… Just drive away!
You literally can just drive away and explore what else is in the world. There’s all these interesting YouTube videos of people who have, like, found a way to drive a car on top of a skyscraper.

ELM: Feels like a problem with the coding.

FK: No, because it’s intentional that you can just choose to walk away from the things the game is sort of trying to make you do. And go explore the world and find out things about what’s going on.
And listen to the radio. Drive around the town, listening to the radio. And just have that be your game.

…I think it’s interesting cause when you choose to do that in Grand Theft Auto…You’re taking something out of this media experience that’s there for you, but maybe isn’t what you are sort of supposed to take.
[end quote]

I wonder... how am I playing my open-world game?

You don't have to stay "in universe", you don't have to buy into the story world---sometimes you can even tinker with the world itself.
Here's an amazing and inspiring example:
a mod (modified) video where the GTA cops dance to the song "Happy" by Pharrel Williams
[note: I think this is very fun, but there is some mild violence in the background]:

The modder, Olanov, replied to a comment asking how he made it:
"I'm not going in great detail here but you spawn a ped of your choosing with either Simple Native Trainer* (SNT) or Object Spooner and then navigate the menus to run animations on them. It takes a little bit of experimenting, especially depending on what you're using but it's fairly straightforward once you get it. "
GLOSSARY  --because I don't know this stuff! [definitions from wikipedia]

*Game trainers (like Simple Native Trainer) are programs made to modify memory of a computer game thereby modifying its behavior using addresses and values [often in order to allow cheating in video games].

In-Universe: An in-universe perspective describes the narrative from the perspective of characters within the fictional universe, treating it as if it were real and ignoring real-world context.

A mod, or modification, is the alteration of content from a video game in order to make it operate in a manner different from its original version. 

to spawn a ped: "In video games, spawning is the live creation of a character [a ped], item or mob [short for "mobile," a non-player character]."

walking simulation: a nickname, often pejorative for exploration games: narrative-focused adventures that allow players to experience their story through exploration and discovery, a subgenre of adventure games, which are "narrative-focused adventures that allow players to experience their story through exploration and discovery. They are story-focused and feature fewer puzzles or even no puzzles at all."

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Muddled Awkward Dread [smiley face]

I'm researching how to make mint mojitos for bink's birthday dinner tonight. 
Luckily I googled "how to muddle mint" before I smashed the fresh mint leaves to a pulp: turn out you don't want to break their veins and release the bitter chlorophyll inside--you just gently press the leaves...

There are so many things to know in the world.

I've been inching forward with writing my book: 
it's actually working to write for 30 minutes at a time--really write, not stop to research or edit.
But I know I'll have to rewrite what I'm writing:
I told bink it's like digging a hole you know you're going to fill in, and then dig again, deeper.

"You know," I told her, "I feel..." 
I paused. 
"–awkward," I said at the same moment she said, "–dread."

Awkward dread. 
That about sums it up. There's no way out of it that I've discovered---I just have to tolerate this uncomfortable, anxious, and muddled feeling.

I'm sure the book will be fine. 
But secretly I'd like it to be better than "fine", as much as that's possible for such a book, which is closer to a textbook than to original research or memoir. But some textbook-type books can be pretty great. (Rare, but possible.) I mean, there's no room for flights of fancy, but you can arrange facts next to other facts that set them off, to good effect.

Like mint mojitos: 
who'd think of putting garden mint with tropical lime? So simple and so effective.

Ditto, it amazed me to realize the role of economics + technology in Star Trek fandom. Fans famously--and successfully--rallied to Star Trek's defense when the network was going to cancel the show after its 2nd year, in 1968. 
Local TV stations wouldn't buy Star Trek to run in syndication unless there were enough episodes to make it worth it, and two seasons worth of episodes was not worth it.

Fans knew that if Star Trek wasn't renewed for that third year, it would sink without a trace--there'd be no way to rewatch it.

So they were motivated.

^ Via

But kids now won't know that--in fact, I didn't know that detail about syndication either (and like so many others, that's how I watched Star Trek first--as reruns every day after school).
Now you can watch a show with a handful episodes, whenever and as often as you like. 
So, just setting that out clearly and well is pretty great.

Ok, must go finish getting the birthday dinner ready now.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Universe Is Used Goods

bink used to make wigs for movies, and once when she was out in LA, she met a woman working on Star Wars who told her how they took old car dashboards and other junk parts, turned them around, spray-painted them, and used them for the insides of spaceships.

I just started reading Cinema Alchemist: Designing Star Wars & Alien (2016), a memoir by Roger Christian, set decorator, and he talks all about that.
Some of it was because the first Star Wars has such a tiny budget---less than $8 million. But also, he, designer John Barry, and creator George Lucas wanted the universe to look worn, grease stained, used, not like most sci-fi of the time that always looked ridiculously new and spotless.
Christian came up with the idea of dressing the Star Wars sets with used parts from airplanes and junk yards.

I'd written a while ago about how The Nice Guys, a movie set in the 1970s, looked fake & wrong, thought the sets were nicely set-dressed in cool 1970s stuff. I couldn't quite nail what was wrong, except that it was too blatantly seventies.

Mortmere pointed out to me that Starsky & Hutch sets look authentic because they contain a jumble of older stuff along with stuff from the 70s, when the show was made.
That's how we really live, with layers of time.

She sent this screencap as an example: the weird dog next to Starsky is a carnival prize*, probably already 20-30 years old when the show was shot:

*From Collector’s Weekly:
“Made out of plaster of Paris, chalkware was used to create inexpensive versions of decorative objects such as animal figurines—so many small figurines were given away as prizes at carnivals, the pieces became known as “carnival chalk.”
“The heyday of the material was the early 19th to mid-20th centuries…”

What does the dog make of the elevator?

I was thinking about how alien other intelligences are--partly because of a conversation about the movie Solaris (1972), which does a wonderful job of intimating how truly alien alien life would likely be.

We don't have to go to outer space to encounter the incomprehensible.
I'm house sitting an old dog. Because she's a bit gimpy, we take the elevator to go outside.
She happily gets in, turns to face the door and waits patiently, then happily gets out on the ground floor.

I have no idea how the dog experiences this alien thing.

[Solaris ^]

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Luke Has Two Fathers

I thought the new Star Trek: Beyond was the first to show two daddies (Sulu is married and has a daughter with another man), but no---Star WARS was first, in this Campbell soup ad from last year (Oct. 2015):

[two weeks later: sorry, the video got taken down---here's a still shot--
each of the dads is claiming "I am your father," like Darth Vader:
So cute!
But almost 7,000 viewers felt otherwise:

Via Lee Wind's blog I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell Do I Read?: Gay Teen Books, Culture, Politics, Social Justice, Equality, GSA Info... and More!"
[I think GSA = Gay Straight Alliance, not General Services Administration.]

10 seconds at the end of the world

I encourage you to play this Twine game, if you haven't already:

It's easy, and it takes literally 10 seconds.
[small warning: it made me sad in 10 seconds too]

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

"Damage Control": Can Superherodom Be Funny?

I, who've worked as a janitor three places (a movie theater, a health-service center, and a YWCA) really want to read this comic series, Damage Control---about a clean-up crew that repairs the wreckage superheroes leave behind.

It was created by Dwayne McDuffie, envisioned as "a sitcom within the Marvel Universe".

via phoenixseattle.com/damage-control ^

Below, from Damage Control v2 #3, by Dwayne McDuffie (story), Ernie Colón (art):
--"We need super-villain code names. Something catchy like "Cloak and Dagger."
--Or "Hammer and Anvil".
--How about "Thunder and Lighting"?
--I dont like it. "Fold and Spindle"?
--Nah. "Mortar and Pestle"?

Damage Control appeared intermittently between1988-1991. Luckily the issues were recently published in one book, which the library owns: Damage Control: The Complete Collection (2015).

I found this comic because I was looking for multicultural comic artists who were fans when they were kids---and that's McDuffie (though he's a writer, not a visual artist).
He says he was a proto-nerd growing up, "a motor-mouthed black fanboy".
From this interview with Evan Narcisse published in the Atlantic in 2010, shortly before McDuffie's death from heart disease at only 49 years old:"Race, Sci-Fi, and Comics: A Talk with Dwayne McDuffie"

Superhero comics that are funny?--this sounds great to me. The recent trend seems to be pretty humorless.

Below is not by McDuffie--it's from Vixen: Return of the Lion, drawn by Cafu, script by G Willow Wison, ©2009 DC Comics

--"Why do they wear their undergarments on the outside?"
--"You should not laugh, Abiesa (sp?)--it's their culture. They can't help it."

today's head space

as the instructor of the yoga class i attended on saturday says, "how's your head-space?"

answer: tra-la-tra la---my headspace is good.
[i'm writing lower case because i've been on tumblr and it gets in your head space like that. it's sorta nice not to bother with extra keys.]
i've been exercising more for a week+ now---and feeling relieved that i CAN... that i didn't just stop as soon as i started.

i re-read my blog from last sept and remembered how SAD and low i was after marz moved out---that went on for months---during which i sewed soft armor for myself and outfits for stuffed animals.
poor little heart

but now i have many happy thoughts.

some things

1. i like michael keaton as batman (1989).
he is so stiff, he even designed his bat suit so the neck won't turn. it's like an exterior skeleton that fits his psyche, not his body.
also, he is not a muscle man.
director tim burton said of keaton's batman, "He looks like a guy who needs to dress up like a bat for effect." Burton's on the left:

2.  this photo of a fight in the Ukrainian parliament (you may have seen) launched a subreddit /r/Accidental Renaissance

3. Here is a fanzine editor from 1975---I really hope the owner(s) will grant me permission to use this in my fanbook.
more: fanlore 

4. I've posted this Camino 2011 photo before, but it's one of my favorites, so here it is again. (Oh, the instinct to capitalize just came back. Tumblr wears off fast, I guess.) 
A fellow peregrino, Tom (with a toy monkey dangling upside-down on his backpack), helps me get water from a public fountain:

Now I must do some work.

I hope your head-space is good. Or maybe you can get out in some nature-space [another yoga-teacherism] and clear it, anyway...

UPDATE: Kirk & Kirk, by Marz

Going through my stash of photos, I found this
 [UPDATE: and now another] Star Trek cut-and-paste that Marz handmade (with actual paper, scissors, and glue) in 2015.

Kirk to Kirk: You are everything to me.
 1. Kirk v. Kirk

2. Kirk/Kirk 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

thinking about exercise

A research study in 2015 concluded that someone like me who likes thinking a lot should think more about maybe getting off her butt.

The paper said,
"The overall findings showed that low-need-for-cognition [NFC] individuals were more physically active…"

NFC is defined as a tendency to
"engage in and enjoy effortful cognitive endeavors."
--"The physical sacrifice of thinking: Investigating the relationship between thinking and physical activity in everyday life", Journal of Health Psychology, January 2015.

I like this phrase, need for cognition, because it separates liking to think from being good at thinking (as liking to exercise is separate from athletic skill);
the paper says that studying NFC "allows researchers to study thinking without placing demands on cognitive resources."  

"Cognitive resources"--what a handy phrase!
"The debate showed that the candidate's cognitive resources are a little low..." 

Furthermore, NFC is an "intrinsic motivation", they say, that remains the same across a lifetime.

This matches me--I've written recently that I prefer sitting around (thinking, and losing physical strength) over doing physical things, such as home repairs, much less actually going to the gym.

Even activities such as fidgeting, walking to the bathroom, etc. expend energy and "help avoid fat storage".
"In conclusion, it seems noteworthy to point out that if this association between physical activity and cognition leads to health issues such as obesity, it may be prudent for more thoughtful individuals to consider lifestyle changes as countermeasures to the negative health outcomes associated with their lower activity levels."

So, yeah. That's all me. 
And there's the matter of emotion, too. I'm lucky that I don't suffer from serious depression, but if I'm feeling low, I don't care about exercising.

It shocks me to look at these photos of me at the YW literally the month before my mother killed herself in 2002. I was forty-one. (It's weird I even have these because you don't usually take photos at the gym, so I'm glad I do.)

It wasn't just her suicide that knocked me off exercising, it was a whole bunch of other things too. But it sure didn't help.

 Luckily I'm not feeling depressed now, so I'm off the YW this morning again---an intro yoga class. 
Level: "slow".
Even "slow" is too fast for me right now.
I'm sore from the old-person's aerobics class yesterday. Really, it's for people 50+,  and it was too much! I stood in the corner and shuffled to disco songs I used to dance to half the night. Only a few times, but for real, I did. Came home soaked in sweat and cigarette smoke. It was so much fun!

So... it's boring to exercise for health only, because I'm supposed to. It'd be nice if, when I get my strength back, I could find something fun to DO. 
Meanwhile since I enjoy "effortful cognitive endeavors", maybe blogging about exercise will help keep me motivated:
"If I go exercise, I'll get to think about how to write about it!" 

Friday, September 9, 2016

working out, plushie style

I'm heading out to the YW in 15 minutes---trying (again, again).

Biology really works.
I weighed myself yesterday at the gym, and my summer of Sitting at the Computer has added 10 lbs to my physique: 
for a total of 30 lbs up from my weight in my thirties and forties... 
That's a lot.
But, while I never hear anyone say this much, to me it feels nice to be this fat. I'm soft and squishy, like one of the stuffed animals I love so much. I feel sort of cuddled and swaddled, in a lovely way.

And I'm happy not moving---I love a long day of reading and researching and chatting online and making fan art! 

BUT, it does not feel nice to feel weak. 
I'm in a classic feedback loop---exercise has gotten harder, so I do it less, so it gets harder.
bink & I went for a 10-mile bike ride yesterday (not very far, as bike rides go), and at one point I told her I had to coast, I was tired of pedaling. And we were on a slight decline!
I truly don't know if I've ever felt that before, except on really long rides.

So, I'm back at the YW--my plan is to exercise like the plushie I've become: softly, at first.

My Motto:
Just Stand Up, little darlin'! and turn yourself around.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Happy 50th Anniversary, Star Trek! (Updated Photo Collages)

Today is Star Trek's 50th anniversary! 
The first episode aired on September 8, 1966.

I made six photo collages (started as mood boards) for Star Trek TOS characters.
I'd already posted four--I just now finished Chekov & Sulu in time. 
(It's a little after midnight on Sept. 8, 2016.)

Hiraku Sulu, he gets a botanical border and gold clouds from a scroll illustrating the Tale of Genji (source of his first name, "Hiraku" = "shining"); a rapier, vintage compass, some sort of star map, and sandhill crane feathers

Pavel Chekov, navigator, Russian; he gets wings and gold panel from a Russian Orthodox icon, an astrolabe, Sputnik, & a hallway from Solaris

below: Communications Officer Uhura 
She gets a red chair by Vincent van Gogh, rotary phone, and antique letter with sealing wax

below: Science Officer Spock
[From the Mirror, Mirror alternate universe. Going somewhere, Mr. Spock?]

below: Captain James T. Kirk: 
He's from Iowa, and an Aries--hence the golden baby ram (from Copenhagen).

below: McCoy Mood: Bones
Top right: scene from Magnificent Obsession (1954);
blue morpho butterfly wing


10 to 12 fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoonful sugar
Muddle mint leaves and sugar in tall glass. Fill glass with cracked ice. Add 1 jigger Old Crow. Stir until glass frosts. Decorate with 2 sprigs of fresh mint.

[I had to look up “Old Crow.” It’s a brand of bourbon.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

From "Inside David Foster Wallace's Private Self-Help Library",
by Maria Bustillos, The Awl, April 5,  2011:
"I have a friend, C., who has suffered from depression for many years; she is a fellow-admirer of [David Foster] Wallace. C. used to have a photograph of him on the wall of her very pretty, comforting red-walled Midtown office, and she would tell people that he was either her son or her boyfriend, depending on her mood.

"I chanced to be in New York some weeks after Wallace’s death, a catastrophe that had hit the both of us like a couple of bricks to the head. We had a good late lunch and afterward on that cold, blowy, fast-darkening late afternoon we sat on freezing stone steps on a quiet corner and snuggled together and talked about Wallace for a while.
"I mentioned that I could not understand how anyone would want to commit suicide, not right then, not with this [2008] historic presidential election right around the corner; how could you not want to stick around and find out what happens?
"And C. looked at me with pity and sadness, as if from a great distance, and said, 'Oh, honey. You don’t care. You don’t care; that’s the whole point.'"
[end Maria Bustillos]

I was reading this very interesting article Bustillos wrote about going through Wallace's underlined and annotated copies of self-help books, such as John Bradshaw On: The Family and the Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller

 (I remember these books--they were very popular in the 1980s and '90s. I hadn't really realized, but Wallace was only one year younger than me.)

I was reading along thinking, how interesting, etc. but when I read that section, I had to stop reading for a while. 
Isn't it funny how sometimes you find yourself acting out a cliché? I literally put my head in my hands.

I don't know... I think pain just wipes everything else out. Like, who cares who wins the election if you're living with the nerve pain of an abscessed tooth that just won't stop--
--or the emotionally equivalent pain?

But also, I think my mother (who killed herself in 2002) did care what happened, in a way... but not in a curious, open-ended way. She felt that it didn't matter the details of what happened next, it was going to be bad. Unceasingly bad, and there was nothing she could do about it. 
For more info or help if you are struggling:
"The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals."
Outside of the United States, please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.

good things to read (ostensibly about videogames --but so much more!)

I am suffering from TOO MUCH incoming GOOD STUFF!
Do you ever feel sort of hysterical & overwhelmed because there are so many amazing and interesting things to process?

Here are three articles I'd recommend--they're set in the world of videogames, but they're about soooo much more:
basically, videogames are one of the [many] kinds of STORY-tellers of our age,
I've slowly come to realize--slowly because I simply never even thought about them until this year. 
So, these are about how we go about being human.

I'm including online links; I read the 1st two essays in the book States of Play: Sixteen Voices on Video Game Culture (2015),

which I also recommend even if you have NO interest in videogames: it's some smart folks writing about the forces that create culture in our times.

1. Evan Narcisse’s excellent essay, “The Natural: The Trouble Portraying Blackness in Video Games”

I like this partly because he writes interestingly about race and also because a lot of it is transferable to the issue of representation of women and girls:

“We don’t need the haircuts and poses that communicate a fascination with ‘the Other’––‘Let’s spice up our game with a brown-colored person!’––but ones that reflect an understanding of what it’s like to be a regular black person.”

2.  "Bow Nigger", by "new games journalist" Ian Shanahan, a white gamer whose handle is "always black". [where'd he go?--i can't find anything up to date on him]

His experience playing a hostile gamer made me shiver---it's not about videogames, or even race, it's about power play. 
And it has a very satisfactory end. 

Ah--I see it's listed in the Guardian article "Ten unmissable examples of New Games Journalism", but--darn--that's  from 2005 and most of the links are dead. (I'm putting it here anyway because I want to search for the other articles--"Bow Nigger" for instance, I found reproduces in whole on someone's tumblr.)

3. Tom Bissell's "Video games: the addiction" 
I've already recommended this but am putting it here again---it's about how Bissell, an American, ended up addicted to cocaine and playing Grand Theft Auto (in Estonia, furthermore)... and how it was worth it.

And why is this good?
For me, partly because it helps me enter into an experience that is foreign to me [which is sort of what Bissell says videogames do]---and isn't that what writing is for?

Wait--I contend that writing isn't "for" anything, but that's one of the things it can do, and I like it when it does. 
Like, wow--I just took a trip somewhere very odd to me, and now my familiar world looks different and I am larger inside.

Also, like games and stories should be, these articles are engaging, even thrilling, and just---fun! to enter into. imho

I'll always prefer to read about games than to play them.
As Bissell says in a 2013 interview with the New Yorker:

"Now that I’ve worked on a few games, I’ve grappled with the degree to which games are not really a writer’s medium. Film’s not really a writer’s medium, either. Good writing certainly doesn’t hurt, but it’s not the thing that saves the day.
"I’ve been quietly lobbying for games that are smart and intelligent, even if they’re about blowing lots of shit up. At the same time, though, pure storytelling is never going to be the thing that games do better than anything. 
Games are primarily about a connection between the player, the game world, and the central mechanic of the game. They’re about creating a space for the player to engage with that mechanic and have the world react in a way that feels interesting and absorbing but also creates a sense of agency."
That--a sense of agency--is just not the main thing that turns my crank. Mostly, I'd rather think about it... 

Though I've gotta say, this does look fun:

[laughs, and signs off]

A New Toy

Mithen gave me a new toy!---a smol purple batman, which I love.
It was crabby and suspicious about the other toys, but Marz finally suggested I pair batbat with unflappable Black Bear. 
That seems to be working.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Star Trek Fan

I hardly use postage stamps anymore, but I just bought 100 stamps commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first broadcast of Star Trek on September 8, 1966.

"Whoo-hoo, we're fifty!"

Why I'm Voting for Hillary Clinton

I want to vote for these Best Buddies for president and vice-president of the United States.
[from Ranger Rick--I used to get that magazine when I was a kid!]

But I'm voting for Hillary Clinton.
My decision is based not so much on the candidates as on their supporters.*

I thought about a write-in vote for the Best Buddies––(here's a fun Wikipedia article, "Non-Human electoral candidates")–– but satisfying as that might be, I don't want to contribute to Trump supporters gaining massive political power. 
Too many of them are "the kind of whites who tell pollsters that blacks are lazy and overindulged." 

(If you support Trump, I'm not assuming you are among this group, but plenty are.)

That's from a poll by YouGov aimed at measuring "racial resentment"--not outright racism, but "the idea that blacks are undeserving and clamorous for special assistance."

Yes, I know it's more complicated than that,

but the poll (and what you can see for yourself) shows that "racial resentment was tightly linked to Mr Trump's supporters. These results held true when we controlled for region, race, and religion, among other factors: 59% of Trump supporters in the Republican primary scored in the top quartile on racial resentment, compared with …29% of voters overall."
--reported in the Economist, "Trump and the Academy," September 3, 2016. 

This article also debunks the theory that Trump supporters are more authoritarian: though racial resentment is a strong predictor of Trump support, authoritarianism is only a weak predictor. 
So, that's sorta reassuring? but I still don't want to do anything that could empower this group of my fellow citizens.
They're probably perfectly nice people on their own, but history (and my own life) demonstrates that resentment builds bad policy.

YouGov is an international Internet-based market research firm, headquartered in the UK, with operations in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. 

* not to be disingenuous by saying I didn't choose between the candidates: I would never vote for Trump.  My choice was between Clinton and a third-party or write-in candidate. 

Internet Slang: tfw [voting for clinton]

tfw: "that feeling when"; used with a picture [often but not necessarily from mass media] to show how a person feels about a certain situation

For example--related to my "why I am voting for Clinton" post---
this tweet by Shamir Bailey ("21, musician, comedian, singer, rapper, twerker, chef, writer, filmmaker, skinny fat ass") that I found reposted on tumblr today [source: afrocosm]:

"Tfw [That feeling when] u have 2 vote 4 da white lady who wuld lock her door if u were on her lawn instead of da man who would shoot u"

Monday, September 5, 2016

Simple Machines

It's Labor Day and I got thinking about the satisfaction---pleasure even--of work, in physics terms: 
applying force to move an object. 

Not to be romantic--in the history of the world, work was mostly misery.
But I wonder if--blessed!release though it is, not to have to do it--the absence of basic work in the digital world may depress us, simple animals that we are...
A friend who suffers from depression said that during one bad bout, the only thing that helped was using her power tools.

Amazing to think the world was built with Simple Machines. ("Started from the bottom, now we're here.")

Still, the brute labor of it... No, thank you. I chopped wood exactly once, and I thought the axe would dislocate my shoulder.

Historic photo [no name or date] of woman chopping wood, Duluth, MN:

Today I'm going to paint in Laura's backyard again. 
Moving paint around with a brush fits the definition of work, and it's viscerally satisfying to be able to say, Look, I did that.