beatrice_otter: History will attend to itself.  It always does. (History will attend to itself)
I'm watching Rio Grande, one of the greatest Westerns ever made. But there is something really ironic that was not intended to be so. John Wayne's character's estranged wife, played by Maureen O'Hara, comes to visit because Reasons. She's a Southerner, John Wayne is a US Army colonel. Fifteen years ago, he was a captain during the Civil War, and in the march down the Shenendoah, he gave the order to torch his wife's family plantation. There is a lot of angsting about this from all sides (the general who sent him to do it and is now still his commander, the sergeant who was the one who actually held the torch, etc., etc.) At one point the general wonders what history will make of their actions in Shenendoah.

Well ... not much, actually. The destruction was fairly limited, and civilian casualties were low. Southerners gripe about it, but actual historians and everyone who isn't from the US South go meh.

What doesn't get a "meh", what people care about and shake their heads over, is the persecution and destruction of Native Americans who were forced from their homes and either killed or confined to reservations (i.e. the worst land available that nobody else even wanted). You know, the stuff that's the action plot in this movie, that everybody's taking for granted as the right thing to do.

(Also, I think it's hilarious that the movie takes place somewhere between 1877-1879 (depending on which Shenendoah campaign they're referencing), and at one point an Irish guy requests that old great song, Down by the Glenside (The Bold Fenian Men), which wasn't written until 1916 ...)

Still, it is a very good movie.  John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara are at their best, the supporting cast is excellent, the script has a lot of great bits, and the cinematography is gorgeous.
beatrice_otter: I don't want to be killed because of a typo.  It would be embarrassing. (Typo)
A while back I got bit by a plot bunny (rabid critters, I know) about classic movie star Cyd Charisse being a Vulcan stranded on Earth.  Which plot bunny I am now writing in fits and starts.

And obviously, the background information we have on her will have to be massaged to fit.  But Wikipedia is lying to me.  It says she was born in 1922 and joined the Ballets Russe de Monte Carlo at age 14.  Which would be 1936, for those of you who have basic arithmetic skills.

The problem is that Wikipedia also tells me that the Ballets Russe de Monte Carlo was not formed until 1938.

I am choosing to believe that Cyd Charisse was 16 when she joined the Ballets Russe de Monte Carlo the year it formed, as that fits better with the timeline of my story.

beatrice_otter: Jack O'Neill in an alien prison--one of those days. (One of Those Days)
Tonight I was struck by the SG-1 urge, and pulled out my DVDs.  Going through the early seasons, the episode to catch my fancy was A Matter Of Time, where the SGC accidentally connects to a Stargate on a planet being devoured by a black hole.  The Stargate won't disconnect because the temporal distortion of the black hole has a weird effect on the wormhole, which also causes disruption in the SGC as time slows down the closer you get to the Stargate.  Anyway, the solution is to focus a powerful explosion right at the Stargate to force the wormhole to "jump" to another Stargate, thus breaking the connection with the black hole planet.  Because of time differentials they can't just set the bomb remotely, someone has to go with it--and because of the black hole's gravity, by this point the Stargate is "down" in that it has much more gravity than the planet does.  So O'Neill and Random Redshirted Colonel get "lowered" from the control room on ropes to the middle of the gateroom, because with the wormholes gravity, they are "hanging" parallel to the ground.

This is the scene that, on the DVD menu, provides the picture for the episode.  Except that the picture is oriented so that O'Neill and Random Redshirted Colonel are oriented right-side-up, as if they are hanging down from the ceiling instead of sideways from the wall.

Think horses not zebras, I get it, when you see people dangling from ropes you expect gravity to be going up and down, not side-to-side.  But this is SF, so maybe they should have checked?  Or maybe had someone who actually knew the show work on such things?
beatrice_otter: Ginger Rogers--Dancing! (Dancing!)
Watching "There's No Business Like Show Business."  Donald O'Connor just took Marilyn Monroe out for a date and was pressing for a goodnight kiss, and she gave textbook "this is how to say no when a guy's making you uncomfortable and you don't want to actually firmly say "no" for one reason or another.  He ends up getting his kiss by grabbing her, basically.

Standard musical plotting, what does the hero do after a date?  He sings a song!  What song does he sing in this particular musical, after being pushy and icky?  "A man chases a girl until she catches him."  With Marilyn singing the occasional interjections.

beatrice_otter: Poirot: Little Grey Cells (Little Grey Cells)
So, [livejournal.com profile] wiscon!  Which proudly bills itself as a feminist science fiction/fantasy con, and yet in the last couple of years has shown that they have issues actually acting like a feminist con.

Short version: Jim Frenkel, formerly an employee of Tor Books (one of the largest and best SF/F publishing houses in the US, is a serial harrasser.  As in, he's been behaving badly towards women for twenty years, but mostly what's been done is that women "in the know" warn other women to keep away from him.  In 2013, he harassed a woman who a) made a complaint, b) followed through on it, and c) called out [livejournal.com profile] wiscon when they let her report fall through the cracks.  Lots of feminist SF/F bloggers take up the call.  You can read about it on the Geek Feminism Wiki.

Jim Frenkel lost his job over the incident, which shows that Tor Books took it seriously.  Not so, [livejournal.com profile] wiscon, which allowed Frenkel to come to the 2014 con and even had him slated to moderate panels, on the original schedule.  Cue righteous wrath.  (They apologized pretty nicely for letting things slip through the cracks such that the 2013 concom knew about him and the 2014 concom didn't.  It was a pretty good apology, taking full responsibility for screwing up.  Pity it wasn't followed by a genuine turnaround on behavior.)

The final decision is that Frenkel is banned for four years for sure--and if, at the end of those four years, he can provide evidence that he has changed, he can come back.  Note that he can appeal, but it has been made quite clear that his victims can't.  Cue even more righteous wrath in the SF/F blogosphere, and as usual Radish Reviews has both good commentary and a good link roundup of other responses.  I particularly like Sigrid Ellis's post on procedure and how, you know, a con disciplinary committee is not a court of law and why the differences matter.

Which got me thinking.  I am a pastor.  Churches are also places that should be safe where trust has often been abused.  And our councils are also not courts of law.  So, here's what "best practices" are for churches for handling predators once they have been identified.  First, we have to protect their victims from further harm.  That's number one.  But we also, as churches have an obligation to everyone--including predators--to spread the Good News of God's love to all people.  When Jesus told his followers to visit the people in prison, he didn't say "but only the nice people who are falsely/wrongly accused."  So we can't just throw the predators out.  But at the same time, our first priority has to be protecting the victims and possible victims.  So here's the compromise when we know there's a serial predator: they can attend worship, but not any other event (Sunday School, picnic, work day, whatever) where the predator's target group will be present.  And they can only arrive ten minutes before worship and must leave immediately after it--they can't hang around.  And any time they are on the church property, the church has a couple of designated people to stay with the predator and make sure they behave themselves.  If they have already preyed on someone within the congregation, a church may well work with neighboring congregations to find someplace else the predator can attend where the predator will be watched to ensure no further harm is done but the victims don't have to deal with them.  The chances of the predator harming someone are minimized.  That's what you should do when you can't just throw the predator out.

But a con is not a church, and if there is a deep moral imperative to allow anyone (even predators) at a con, I've never heard it.  If there is a deep moral imperative for why it has to be one con in particular and not another, I've never heard it.  And if there's any procedure in place for what to do if Frenkel appeals after four years, gets a couple of character witnesses to swear he's reformed, and gets back in, and how to handle him to make sure he doesn't revert to type, I haven't heard that either.
beatrice_otter: Elizabeth Bennet reads (Reading)
You know what I find really annoying in Pride and Prejudice fic?

All the stories where there's nothing wrong with Anne de Bourgh but her mother's fussing, and if she just got out and was active, she'd be just perfectly normal and as soon as her mother's out of the picture Anne is a lively and outspoken woman.  That's like, 95% of the fic where Anne appears.

And you know, it's possible that's the case.  But while they may not have had much medical knowledge in Austen's day, that makes it even more likely that she really has some kind of nasty ailment that won't kill her but will keep her from being able to do much.  Maybe something we'd find easily treatable, but that they wouldn't have a clue about.  And yes, upper-class girls were often cossetted, but not to the extent of being turned into invalids by it.

And as for Anne becoming lively and outspoken when her mother's not in the room, that's much worse.  There's a couple of possibilities.
  • she really is sick, in which case her mother's presence or absence may affect her comfort but she won't have much energy to speak whether or not Lady Catherine is in the room.
  • she does not have a physical illness beyond her mother's interference, but she's naturally shy and/or introverted, which won't change whether or not Lady Catherine is present or
  • she does not have a physical illness beyond her mother's interference, and she's not naturally shy and/or introverted, but her mother has bullied her into becoming so, which also will not change whether or not her mother is present.  Particularly since the amount of bullying/abuse necessary to make a healthy person physically weak is, er, pretty substantial even if (especially if) we're talking about chronic rather than acute mistreatment.
I highly doubt her illness is imaginary or made up or forced upon her by Lady Catherine's having decided that she is sickly and to be treated as such.  It's possible, but unlikely.  But if that's the case, she is going to be so psychologically damaged.  She would NOT be turning into a normal, social, outgoing woman the minute her mother's back is turned!
beatrice_otter: Delenn--Grey Council (Delenn--Grey Council)
Title: The Mountain Rose Before Me
Author: [personal profile] beatrice_otter 
Fandom: Star Trek
Rating: G
Characters: T'Lar, Sarek, Uhura
Word Count:  3,196
Warnings: none
Summary: The fal-tor-pan is an ancient and dangerous rite, unused for centuries. It is not done lightly. High Priestess T'Lar considers.

AN: This fic was inspired by Killabeez's excellent vid Dante's Prayer.
Thank you to the Vulcan Language Dictionary for certain words, particularly for help in verifying my spelling of ashv'cezh, revenge-worse-than-death.
As always, my idea of Vulcan culture is heavily influenced by Diane Duane's Star Trek novels, particularly Spock's World, which you should read if you haven't already. (Also by various other Star Trek novels of the 1980s, including The Vulcan Academy Murders, The IDIC Epidemic and Dwellers in the Crucible.)

At AO3

When T'Lar rose from her morning veneration to the gods of her ancestors, Madam T'Vas was standing just outside the shrine )
beatrice_otter: Talia Winters asks, what am I, a mind-reader? (mindreader)
Now, I hadn't ever heard of Janelle Monae because the only time I am introduced to music made in the last thirty years or so is when somebody does a vid of it and I go, huh, that's interesting, I like that.  And then my tastes run more to Regina Spektor.  But still: given that she's weaving an epic SF story involving robots and time travel across multiple albums and videos, why isn't more of the SF/F world talking about her?  I depend on you guys to learn about cool stuff that's happening!  You are falling down on the job!

Is there, like, a basic fannish primer out there?  So I know what to look for and what to get?  Because while the style of music in general leaves me feeling meh, she's good at it, and the overarching story has me feeling intrigued.  (This may be a new Yuletide fandom for me.)

beatrice_otter: Yuletide (Yuletide)
Somebody had the bright idea of having a [livejournal.com profile] yuletide post for people to brainstorm what went well/what could be changed before we're coming up against the wire and the mods are having to make decisions on the fly.  If there's anything about the way Yuletide is run that you have strong opinions on, now would be a great time to check out the discussion.

If you're one of those who unfriends the com after December 25th so that your flist and Read page don't get swamped by rec lists, now might be a good time to add the com again.

(My personal favorite suggestion is that the current rules--ten years' worth of accretions and special cases--be discarded and re-written by someone who actually knows how to do documentation.)

beatrice_otter: Star Trek symbol--red background (Red Shirt)
Fair warning: I am not an economist.  The sum total of my formal economics training comes from a J-term college class called "The Economics of Science Fiction and Fantasy Worlds" in which we read eight novels in a month and discussed the economic underpinnings of the worlds described therein.  My undergraduate degree is in history, however, and history is very much concerned with the economies of the past.

First, let's start with the Federation.  The Federation, we are told, has no money.  Nobody gets paid; nobody gets a bonus; things don't seem to work on a barter system, either.  There are credits, which appear but rarely, and are used as a unit of exchange; but we are repeatedly told that there is no money and credits aren't money even though we see them used as such.  Various Star Trek people, including Ron Moore, thought this was absurd, but Gene Rodenberry insisted it was so.

I always thought this was absurd, myself.  Look, resources have to be allocated.  Work has to be done, and people have to be compensated for their labor otherwise the dirty un-fun jobs won't get done.  If you don't need money to live on, I can see people having certain careers just for fun and for something to do.  Starfleet officer?  You  betcha, you would not need to pay me to be a Starfleet officer.  Musician, author, various forms of artist, sure.  Engineers and doctors and such, yes, I know people who would do those jobs without being paid (as long as their basic needs were taken care of.)  Construction, yes.  You might have a problem getting enough people to fill your society's need for those jobs, but you could get some and I'm willing to handwave that with automation and such you would need fewer of them than we need per capita today.  But plumbers?  Miners?  Bureaucrats?  You can replicate just about everything, but you still need to have people to make and maintain the replicators, and fabricate larger things.  Like houses.  You're telling me you have enough people who do that just out of the goodness of their hearts?  I thought, you don't have to run your economy the same way we do today; there have been lots of economies throughout history.  You don't have to use your money the same way, but there does have to be some form of exchange, whether money or barter.

Economic patterns from hunter-gatherer to the modern world: a history in five paragraphs. )
Future patterns with a Star Trek twist. )

So when I put all of this together, all of a sudden the Star Trek "no money in the future" schtick seems a lot more plausible than it used to.  I'm not convinced things will go this way, but I see how they could.

beatrice_otter: I don't want to be killed because of a typo.  It would be embarrassing. (Typo)
... you should go check out the [livejournal.com profile] wiscon safety chair's recent statement, WisCon Safety: Procedures, History, Explanations, and Apologies.  It is clear, concise, lays out what went wrong and why (and in the mode of "this is unacceptable and we'll do better next time" not "this is why it's not our fault"), apologizes without weasel-words, and lays out a concrete plan that is already being implemented to make sure the same problem (and others like it) do not reoccur.

Bravo.

I wish that other people who screw up would read this post and use it as a model.

beatrice_otter: Garak--Rarely pure and never simple (Garak)
For those of you who don't pay much attention to the literary side of SF/F fandom, some things about the late Marion Zimmer Bradley* that had been known in certain circles but not in the larger fandom became public.

Namely, that she aided and abetted her husband Walter Breen to molest children and protected him from the consequences thereof over the course of several decades.  And probably actively abused children herself.  And by "aiding and abetting" and "protecting" I mean that she used her status as a major and highly influential author to ensure that he would not be banned or ostracized from events such as cons and other fannish gatherings, and knew he was molesting their children for years and did nothing about it and (from her own testimony in court on the matter) didn't think there was anything wrong with her husband's actions.

There's been a lot written in the literary SFF blogosphere.  Natalie Luhrs over at Radish Reviews, as always, has done an excellent job of summarizing the issue (complete with links to important documents and posts) and putting her finger on the heart of things: silence is complicity.  And, over the course of decades, quite a number of people who knew for certain that Walter Breen was a child molester did absolutely nothing to stop him or impede his access to children.  Our society, including the SFF subculture, has a problem of silence in the face of sexual abuse.  It has to change.

*Marion Zimmer Bradley was one of the most influential authors of the 70s through the 90s, in both science fiction and fantasy.  Her Darkover stories and The Mists of Avalon were instant classics, and she was an ardent feminist who used her power as an author to do a lot of good things like help other women authors launch their careers and always speak up for women in the genre.
beatrice_otter: Emma and Henry reading the book of fairy tales (Once Upon a Time)
You know what I wish AO3 had?  A way to exclude tags from search results and the latest works page.  For example, I love Once Upon A Time!  But there are certain characters that fandom (and the writers) seem to love, who I wish would die in a fire ::cough::Killian|Hook::cough::  If I could just go to AO3 looking for new OUaT fic and never have to see anything with him in it, that would be awesome.  (I feel much the same way about Rose Tyler in Doctor Who.  I don't mind her in the episodes she's in, but I get very annoyed at the way a large part of fandom writes her as if SHE IS EVERYTHING AND A FIC WITHOUT HER IS MEANINGLESS JUST LIKE THE DOCTOR IS MEANINGLESS WITHOUT HER.)
beatrice_otter: A Beatrix Potter illustration of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and Lucie having tea. (Mrs Tiggy-Winkle)


A Kids' and YA Book Fic Exchange

Want fic from that one book you loved as a kid/teen? Here's your chance!

Sign-up on AO3.

Fic Corner Tag Set.

Dear Fic Corner Scribbler letters at DW/LJ.
beatrice_otter: The one thing you can't trade for your heart's desire is your heart. (Heart's desire)
I don't know how I started reading Hockey RPF.  I don't like RPF and know nothing of hockey.  But I did.  And found this: lives to live through seasons by [archiveofourown.org profile] oflights, where babies don't come from sex and growing inside a human, but by being wished for.  If you and your partner wish for a baby, one appears floating down out of the sky in a little basket with the parents' names on it.  (This is apparently not related at all to gender, sex, or sexuality.)  And, if you wish for a baby but have no partner, sometimes (rarely) you get a baby that comes down out of the sky that's just yours!  (No telling whether it's a clone, the story doesn't say.)  Oh, and there are drugs you can take to suppress the wishing, so that wanting a kid doesn't mean one will come out of the sky.

I think this should be A Thing.  The implications and plot possibilities fascinate me; as in ABO universes, I wonder why there is a male/female sex/gender divide.  But in this case, I also wonder why sex exists, because it has no connection to reproduction.  Is it just a fun way to build intimacy?  And if you don't need a sperm and an egg and one person to provide a womb, why is there a sex binary?  And how do wishbabies affect marriage and perceptions on sexuality?  Because while we think marriage is about love, for the vast majority of human history it's been about family continuity and making sure you know whose kid you're raising.  (That is historically one of the big reasons why adultery is a huge deal for women but not for men.)  But with wishbabies, you know who the parents are; they're written down for everyone to see.  How does that affect marriage and gender roles and social perceptions of acceptable sexual behavior?  Promiscuity will not result in unwanted/unplanned babies; celibacy and monogamy are completely divorced from whether or not you have a kid.  Furthermore, there are no unwanted babies.  Babies can only come when they are wanted.  What effect would this have on the amount of child abuse?  There would still be some; just because people want a baby doesn't mean they are mentally fit to take care of one.  But as you can see, there are a whole lot of basic social and cultural assumptions that go right out the window (or get tweaked in odd ways) when you have wishbabies instead of biological reproduction.

If wishbabies were real, would the Shakers (a Christian sect that practiced strict celibacy and so relied solely on converts) have died out?  Would Christianity be so fixated on sex if it wasn't connected to reproduction?

And then I started thinking about fic ideas.  How would this play out in various fandoms?

Wushbaby Plot Bunnies )
Proof of Life )

beatrice_otter: Superman--red cape (Superman Cape)
So I just came across an "interesting" piece of meta about Superman as a 20th Century Messiah.  I get cranky about this, because the religious symbolism of Superman is quite obviously MOSES, not Jesus, as befits a character who was created by a couple of nice Jewish boys.  (Seriously.  His people were in jeopardy, so his parents put him in a little vessel/basket/ark and sent him off, so that he could survive and be raised by foster-parents.  Moses in the Nile getting raised by Pharaoh's daughter, anyone?)  Most of the other points of Superman that get pointed out as being analogous to Jesus either apply to Moses or other Hebrew Bible figures even more or are actually, er, not really applicable to Jesus.)

This one, however, takes the cake.  It starts off by talking about the Jesus/Superman/Messiah thing (complete with a Sacred Heart of Jesus painting right next to an image of Superman stripping off his suit to reveal the iconic S).  Then it mentions that Siegel and Shuster were Jewish, and this was the 30s and horrible things were happening to Jews, and that's why they needed a Messiah so they wrote Superman!

Problem: besides the fact that Superman is way more like Moses than like Jesus, if two nice Jewish boys were going to make a Messiah-like character, he would not be like Jesus.  No, really, Jesus does not fit the ideas that Jews have, now or at any time in the past, about the promised Messiah.  That's why, you know, they didn't follow him.  Over the milennia, Jews have had a wide variety of expectations about what the Messiah was going to be like, but the comparisons that come up the most often in such discussions are Moses, Elijah, and David.  It was at that point that I shook  my head and stopped reading.

If you want to talk about Moses and Superman, I am all over that.  Jesus and Superman ... no.

(Yes, I get that Siegel and Shuster haven't had creative control for seventy years, and that Christians have added in various Jesus-like actions and attributes, but by and large those haven't become a part of the core character.  Everybody knows about Superman being sent off as a child from Krypton to be kept safe from the dangers that threatened his people, you will find that backstory in every single Superman incarnation ever.  Things like the Superman Returns ending where Superman sacrifices himself to save the world from Lex Luthor's plot and lies in a coma in the hospital for a few days, on the other hand, are not part of the core mythos.)
beatrice_otter: Giles says "The subtext is rapidly becoming ... text" (Subtext)
The Remix is over and the authors are revealed! I wrote a fic for [personal profile] secondalto, a Buffyverse fic set in season 7, focusing on a Potential.

Title: First Dream (The Readiness Remix)
Characters: a Potential, Giles, the Coven
Pairing: none
Rating: PG
Warnings: none
Original Story: Packed and Ready to Go, by [livejournal.com profile] secondalto  for remix 11
Betaed By: [livejournal.com profile] lanalucy  and [livejournal.com profile] malnpudl 
Word Count:  1806

Summary: A Potential shouldn’t dream a Slayer dream. But these are not ordinary times.

At AO3

Jenna sat bolt upright in bed, afterimages of dead girls and cloaked figures with no eyes burned into her brain. That was a Slayer dream. )
beatrice_otter: Jedi fighting against a blue background (blue Jedi)
There is a Star Wars Big Bang! [livejournal.com profile] star_wars_bb!  With fics due September 18th, giving me all summer to write!  It's the perfect excuse to focus on my Revenge of the Sith AU where Anakin and Padme get therapy.  (So much therapy ...)
beatrice_otter: Captain America (Captain America)
[tumblr.com profile] historicallyaccuratesteve reblogged this post about Sam Wilson reccing Steve all these songs about Captain America to give him a pop-culture feel for what people think of when they think of him.

And part of it was this:
Oh god oh god oh god, imagine no one telling Steve about Isaiah Bradley until Sam recommends a song to him and he researches what it’s about and is suddenly breaking down all the doors in the US government because why the fuck do I have a Smithsonian exhibit and Isaiah Bradley doesn’t even have an official biography???


And now I WANT THAT FIC.  I want it like burning.  YOWZA!

beatrice_otter: Maria Hill (Maria Hill)
I started watching Agents of SHIELD last fall because I like the Avengers movies and didn't want to be missing stuff in fanfic about them.  I wanted a little background on the universe and didn't expect much out of it.  And, you know, for most of the season that was about what I got.  Interesting, but not really making me fannish about it.  I was particularly annoyed with Ward, who seemed to me to be a cardboard cutout stereotype.

Then Captain America: The Winter Soldier happened, and holy cow.  Because that changed everything in the MCU, and especially for any SHIELD agent.  All those plot-of-the-week episodes that I enjoyed but didn't grip me?  We were learning stuff.  We were learning stuff about the characters, and about their world.  So that when that world got turned upside down, they could do some REALLY COMPELLING storytelling about where things go from there.  (And it turns out that I WAS SO WRONG ABOUT WARD.  Or, not really, he was kind of cardboard cutout stereotype but that's because he was actively trying to be.  I got suckered SO BADLY.)

And it got renewed for a second season!  Yay!  Basically, if you haven't watched any of it yet, get it on HULU Plus or Netflix or something, because it is excellent.  And then join the fun at [community profile] agents_of_shield 

Also, Peggy Carter is getting her own TV show!  I can't wait!

I grew up a DC fan, mostly because of the excellent Bruce Timm cartoons.  I've never read many comic books, and just as I had the disposable income to start, they did the New 52 thing and it was clear from the way they handled it that DC doesn't want my money, or indeed the money of anyone who is not a white dudebro.  So it is wonderful to me that Marvel is taking up the slack and giving me compelling, intelligent stories about superheroes that are inclusive and diverse.  DC should be taking lessons.  (And also giving us a Bruce Timm-directed Wonder Woman live-action movie.)

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beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
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