mollyringle: (Uncle Sam WWII - by pear_icons)

What I've basically been seeing in online discussions this past week (a condensed parody, if you will):

The left/center: Holy crap, I’m scared and sad for women, the LGBTQ community, Muslims, immigrants, Jews…
The right: Ugh, we’re FINE with women and gays and whatever religion you want, srsly, stop whining
DeplorableJimBob17351: WOMEN AND JEWS SHUT YOUR MOUTHS!!! MUSLIMS AND ILLEGALS GET OUT, TRUMPS GONNA GET U LOL!!!! MARRIAGE SHOULD ONLY BE BETWEEN A MAN AND A WOMAN, GAYS R DISGUSTING!!!!
The left/center: Um. That. Right there, that. Did you…did you just see that?
The right: Well everyone’s entitled to their opinion. Hey JimBob, good to see you! Great week, huh? Come on in, help yourself to snacks.

See, it's not that I think my right-wing friends are racists, sexists, xenophobes, and homophobes. I know you're not. You wouldn't be my friends if you were. The problem is that those on the right are a little bit too okay with sharing the party with people who are those things. This shouldn't even be a left/right issue. This should be a "decent person" issue. I'm not seeing enough denouncing of those attitudes from those on the right, and that is what bothers me. The response keeps on being, "We're not all racists! YOU'RE racists!," which does not really answer to the problem nor help at all.

If you want denouncing from me, of liberals wrecking property and being violent, in the rare events where that's happening, then yes, I do denounce that. I even denounce liberals carrying "Fuck Trump" signs, because we absolutely would not condone "Fuck Hillary" signs if she had won. Let's be adults and let's be decent people using respectful language just as we're asking everyone to do, I say to my own side.

So, those on the right...can you do a little more denouncing of the absolutely clearly wrong verbal behavior and attitudes, please?--which I am seeing EVERYWHERE online, by the way, without even having to look for it; this is NOT a myth or a few scant incidents. It's happening to me and my friends when we express even mild concern. The trolls have been unleashed, it's worrying, and surely it's not the America any of us want to live in.

I don't plan to discuss politics a lot on here. I've never liked it and still don't. But I want to put this out there in the interests of healing a wounded nation and trying to understand what's happening. Discussions welcome; flames and ranting not welcome. From either side. You have the rest of the internet for that. Thank you. 

mollyringle: (Maurice & Scudder)

I want to pull out my mom voice on the entire internet today:
“Don’t flame people you don’t even know! You were raised better than that!”

Seriously, please, everyone on both sides - on ALL sides - remember the complex human beings at the other end. Today I talked a flame-commenter around to a “You’re right, I’m sorry for saying that” because I responded reasonably and respectfully, and found common ground with them. There IS hope for the country if we all do that.

mollyringle: (Buxom Angel of Freedom)

Preface: Some of you have been around long enough to remember when I used to call myself a conservative (or at least a libertarian), because like a lot of people in their 20s, I had a phase where I read Ayn Rand and listened to charismatic and persuasive conservative friends and didn’t like taxes. But that isn’t me anymore, in case you couldn’t tell. (Well, I still don’t LIKE taxes, but I’m more at peace with them.) In reverse of the “liberal at 20, conservative by 40” trope, I’ve long since come back over to the liberal side, and embraced the values that were, to be honest, always at the heart of my thinking. I mean, I did spend a lot of my supposed conservative phase arguing with those conservative friends, because I was never fully okay with the LGBTQ-derogatory attitudes, the misogyny, the over-reliance on religion, or the stingy healthcare, to name a few issues.

So, though I wasn’t worried about the election of George W. Bush back in the day, I’m not feeling all right today. (But really, in hindsight, doesn’t Dubya look a lot more appealing now in comparison?)

Anyway. For posterity, here is a record of thoughts I posted on other social media, between last night and tonight:

Nov. 8, 7:38 PM Pacific time (while votes were still being counted): Dude, okay USA, we'll save you, but you have to not make fun of our organic kefir habit for like a month after this. Love, the West Coast.

Nov. 8, 9:45 PM (as the vote became clearer): Me before tonight: I don’t know, this story I’m writing about a gay couple encountering prejudice, maybe it’s outdated.
Me tonight: Oh no it f***ing isn’t.

Nov. 9, 6:04 AM (because I woke up too early, unable to fall back asleep, and finally gave in and checked the news): Last night I dreamt I was in a big crumbling house, but friends had made their rooms in it really beautiful. Comfort from subconscious.

6:50 AM: This morning's thought that has helped boost me: well, new wave music arose and flourished under the era of Reagan, Thatcher, and the Cold War. So, creative types (and really everyone is creative if you find the right medium), we are needed and our time may be now.
Everyone line up and get your eyeliner and your mousse and your ruffly shirts! OK, I suppose the dress code is optional, but it could be fun.
Make beautiful stuff, guys. Don't ever stop.

5:28 PM: Nov 9 problems: not wanting to smile at people because I don't want to seem happy about the news, but not wanting to seem hostile by NOT smiling.

And finally, because I hope it gives you at least a brief laugh the way it did for me:

mollyringle: (iPod)

It has come to my attention today that I've been included in an AP article being picked up all over the country. It's not about my writing, my books I've spent years creating, NO, OF COURSE NOT. It is, like last time, about a moment of online frivolity, and, once again, is not representing my original post quite accurately.

The article this time is about whether "ballot selfies" are legal (answer: depends on the state), and they include a few tweets from those of us who posted a photo on Twitter with the #ballotselfie hashtag. This was mine:

\

And you will kindly notice, if you have eyesight, that my ballot is EMPTY in that photo. I would not go posting my filled-in ballot. That's just tacky. Nonetheless, some of the versions of the article, such as this one, say stuff like, "They're posting selfies on social media with their completed ballots," followed directly by the link to my tweet. UGH. NO I AM NOT. Would you LOOK before writing the article, please.

What was the other time I made the rounds in an AP article, you ask? That was back in 2010 when I won the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest with one silly sentence, and was rewarded with headlines calling me a bad writer, because too many people do not understand the BLFC. (i.e., Those sentences are not from actual published books; they are all one-offs, written to be deliberately bad, for fun, by language-loving people with a bizarre sense of humor.)

But, in any case: go vote, my fellow Americans.

mollyringle: (butterfly - Pushing Pixels)

What I pinned to my purse this week. Almost literally the very least I could do, but I couldn't not do it.

---

A cross-post from my Tumblr:

I’d like to share with you how our youngest child learned and dealt with the shocking, traumatizing truth that same-sex couples can marry in the U.S.:

Our 10-year-old son: I love Lionel Messi. [A famous soccer player.]
Our 6-year-old son: Are you going to MARRY him?
10-year-old: No! He’s way too old for me.
6-year-old: Also, boys can’t marry other boys.
10-year-old, me, and Dad, in unison: Yes they can.
6-year-old, cheerfully unconcerned: Oh. Okay.

(In case you wanted very anecdotal evidence that homophobia is learned, not inborn.)

---

I know I thank you a lot, but I wanted to again, for supporting me as a writer, and supporting me as a member of the LGBT community. Thank you for writing how you do. Thank you for being someone I can comfortably send this message to.

That's part of a message I got today from a young woman I've never met, but with whom I've exchanged several emails about writing and publishing--and, occasionally, LGBT issues. Look, I'm a boring, straight, stay-at-home mom who writes about fictional people, some of whom are LGBT, because I like all kinds of love stories. But I consider myself practically a poser; or at least, not really someone who's putting near as much effort as she could into being the good ally I'd like to be. So what kind of world are we living in where someone as half-assed about LGBT kindness as me is getting thanked for being someone who's safe to send a message to about such issues? It breaks my freaking heart. We've come a long way, but we have a still longer way to go yet.

If you're an ally too, and you haven't said so, say so. Pin a rainbow heart on your jacket. Chances are, someone out there is going to feel comforted when they see it. Even if they aren't feeling up to saying anything.

mollyringle: (arthur)

I finally saw The Force Awakens (loved it!), and was reading news stories about the popularity of the Stormpilot pairing (which of course I could totally get behind). I should know better than to read the comments, though. Oy.

I don't want to give these articles extra traffic by linking to them. You can find them easily enough if you want. I'll just say that even on the more liberal news sites, and even in this modern enlightened age, the comments section is still filled with remarks like, “Who cares what their sexuality is; why shove our faces in it?” and, “Ugh, if they include that kind of politically-correct crap, I’m so done with this series.”

And when I read those comments it makes me even more determined to keep including LGBT characters in my writing. Because if LGBT people can be brave enough to go about their actual lives up against those attitudes every single day, I can surely be brave enough to write fiction about it.

Plus I think the more examples of non-straight relationships people see, the more they'll grasp that love and desire and vulnerability and all the other parts of relationships are simply human feelings, not straight ones or gay ones. And that you can be happy for someone else even if what they're into isn't your thing.

(I can't not include a photo from Maurice when discussing this topic. And here, Willow and Tara too, for the women's side.)

mollyringle: (Maurice & Clive)

I dread being controversial or political online, but I want honest and sincere thoughts on this, with as few in the way of flame wars as possible. My question is more or less: if you’re not a member of a certain minority, do you get to write about it? Since I’m a novelist, I’m thinking in terms more of fiction here than nonfiction or journalism.

On the “no” side, the argument is basically (I’ll just quote this blog post here), “It is not the place of a cis straight person to represent the LGBTA community in order to claim progressive thinking on their part. … By all means we should be allies and make all efforts to be diverse in our work, but we should not seek to take their stories from them when there are so many creators from the LGBTA community who go ignored in favor of mainstream medium, and who would give a far more accurate account and portrayal of their stories. The same goes for race. In that instance, write what you know is applicable.”*

Fair enough. But on the “yes” side, which I admit is the side I’ve been working from all these years, the argument is: assuming the portrayal is done with as much taste, compassion, and realistic accuracy as the author can scrounge up (as opposed to using stereotypes or playing the characters’ culture/orientation/etc. for laughs), then surely it’s better to have more types of characters in more books, no matter what background the author comes from.

Even though I’m white and heterosexual and middle-class and American and therefore boringly generic and privileged in most ways, I recognize the problem of ethnic minorities and LGBTQ characters being underrepresented in entertainment. Plus I’m honestly into some of the stories that could be told with such characters (I’ve long squealed in delight over slash fiction, as nearly all of you know), so I want to write about them. I have this perhaps naïve hope that if someone reads a book that gets them (the readers) thinking more kindly about types of people they didn’t think about very much before, and gets them seeing more types of people as fellow humans with equal status to themselves, then hurray! The book has done something worthwhile! And it doesn’t really matter who the author is, in that case.

In fact, I’m the self-effacing type of author who doesn’t want you to think about ME; I want you to notice just my stories, my characters. It isn’t about me. This becomes a problem when it’s time to get out there and market my work in person with bright smiles, which is a task that sucks the life force out of me, but I digress.

So am I wrong? Should I be respectfully backing off and allowing “those groups” to tell their own stories? I certainly encourage anyone to do so who wants to, and I don’t want those stories to be ignored in favor of mine just because I’m white and privileged and stuff (though given my superbly modest sales figures, I really don’t think anyone’s favoring my work over others, so honestly I doubt this is currently a problem).

In my Greek myth series, I have some gay or bi characters, and others I picture as black or mixed-race. I don’t make A Big Thing of it for the most part; they’re just character details, mentioned alongside what color clothes they wear or what kind of salads they prefer or whether they like loud parties. (As an introvert, I found it WAY easier to write the gay or bi aspects of characters than to write Tabitha’s extroversion--she’s the reincarnated Dionysos, and loves organizing and attending parties, and drinking and being loud. I can’t comprehend being like that. But love and crushes, sure, I get those.)

I do try to avoid stereotypes. I’d rather a book didn’t include any gay characters than have it include one who lisped and called everyone “sweetie” and wore glasses with pink glittery frames. Same goes for all the ethnic-group issues you could run up against. I imagine, if anything, I err on the side of my black characters being too much like the white ones, such that you might not even know they’re black. But then, I also went that route because for the purposes of this story, it doesn’t exactly matter what their genetic makeup is. Also, a friendly mix of races and cultures is part of the new global civilization, and I feel like we do get to be casual about it, as long as we’re compassionate to everyone.

The one “minority” I belong to is that of women, and I’ll go on record as saying I have nothing at all against male authors who write in depth about female characters. In fact, I think more of them should, as long as they follow the guidelines discussed above: avoid stereotypes, view everyone as a human with equal rights and personal subtleties, be as fair and realistic as you can.

Anyway. The more I ramble about this, the more I realize it could be an entire doctoral thesis (and I’m sure it has been for lots of people), so I’ll leave it at that. But I welcome anyone’s thoughts! If you’re gay or trans, does it bother you if straight/cis people write LGBTQ characters? If you’re black or Latino or Asian (or fill in the blank), does it bother you if generic white people write about your ethnic group?

Further good reading on the topic: Why I Am Scared to Write About Diversity, by Cait at Paper Fury

* I do love this quote from that same post, though:

“ 'You should only ever write what you know.'— Whenever I read advice like this I can’t help but feel like Mary Shelley had some fucking weird anatomy classes I never got at school, and that I’d like to try whatever Tolkien was having." Ha! Quite so.

mollyringle: (girl reading with moon)
"It is a sad paradox that when male authors impersonate women (Tolstoy as Anna Karenina, Flaubert as Bovary, Richardson as Clarissa, Lawrence as Constance Chatterley, John Berryman as Mistress Bradstreet) they are said to be dealing with 'cosmic, major concerns'--but when we impersonate ourselves we are said to be writing 'women's fiction' or 'women's poetry.'"

- Erica Jong, introducing Colette in an omnibus of Colette's work, 1974

Kind of discouraging that forty years later we're still blithely labeling things "women's fiction." Also discouraging that it took me a while to notice it's not the most progressive or useful genre name. (The positive flip side, potentially: women buy and read books these days in far greater numbers than men do, so you'll sell more if you write "for women." But defining "for women" remains problematic, I would think.)

Thousands of academic theses can be, and have been, and will be written about these matters. I'm not attempting anything huge here today. This is only a brief post in which I'll add this personal anecdote:

Recently my folks brought me a newspaper clipping of some (male) journalist's list of best novels ever, or best writers ever, or something along those lines. We all enjoy looking over such lists. But as I read it, I noted that he cited someone--I think it was Carson McCullers--as "the best female American writer," perhaps of the 20th century; I forget the exact accolade. But "female" was definitely in there.

I looked at my parents and said, "Why 'best female writer,' when he doesn't say 'best male writer'?"

My dad shrugged, as if he'd never noticed or thought about the issue. My mom looked me in the eye and pointed at me silently, as if to say, "Exactly."
mollyringle: (Uncle Sam WWII - by pear_icons)
I have said this before, but once again, I am tired of the way teenage girls are not supposed to show sexual desire in, like, nearly all of bestselling YA literature. Even in the Hunger Games, which otherwise I quite admire, Katniss only barely starts noticing, after MONTHS of kissing Peeta, that, huh, it's occasionally *fun* to kiss him. And of course (SPOILERS, HI) a certain pregnancy rumor has to go hand-in-hand with a marriage rumor--because a heroic female would never have sex before marriage, even in a world where tributes stroll around naked to please the crowd.

Authors and prudish Americans at large, you are NOT doing teenage girls any favors by holding up only the chaste young women as the role models. You are indirectly (and sometimes directly) suggesting that all sexual feelings are to be suppressed and are something to be ashamed of, and that a "good" girl doesn't go beyond kissing AT ALL until after marriage. (I suppose you say the same to boys, but with much less force, because hey, boys do what they're going to do, right?) You are only giving our young women complexes, far more than you're giving them valuable role models. They're going to have those feelings whether you discourage them or not.

All I can do is rant occasionally, and of course write my own books in which teens find healthy and relatively safe ways to enjoy each other sans clothing. Which I shall keep doing. So there.
mollyringle: (sleazy fandom)
I don't in fact aim to invite a flame war, but there was this amusing moment in season 4 of The Big Bang Theory (a show that you should watch if you haven't yet, because it is hilarious):

---

Priya: Listen, Rajesh, Leonard and I have decided to see each other again, and you don’t get to tell me who I can and can’t have a relationship with.

Sheldon: Actually, he can. The Hindu Code of Manu is very clear in these matters. If a woman's father is not around, the duty of controlling her base desires falls to the closest male member of her family; in this case, Raj. The code also states that if she disobeys, she will be reborn in the womb of a jackal and tormented by diseases. If true, that seems like an awfully large gamble given that the prize is Leonard.

Raj: There it is, Priya. We're Indian. We believe this stuff.

Priya: I think it also says that if you eat beef, you need to live with cows for three months and drink their urine.

Raj: Some of it makes sense, some of it's crazy. My point is, you can't go out with Leonard.

---

"Some of it makes sense, some of it's crazy" is basically the response I got recently when (with great foolishness) I ventured to say on an online forum that it isn't wise to cite the Bible as a defense for being anti-gay, since you could also use the Bible to be pro-slavery and pro-stoning-women-to-death-for-adultery, not to mention anti-shellfish and a number of other "crazy" attitudes. It was coolly suggested that I don't really understand the Bible if I propose such parallels. Okay, some truth to that; I am not in fact a religious studies scholar. Nonetheless, it *is* almost indisputable that some of the Bible makes sense and some of it's crazy. And the parts that now seem crazy are usually due to out-of-date cultural standards (or maybe mistranslations). So, when are we ready to admit that gayness being an abomination to God is just as culturally out of date as slavery being A-OK with God?

The Big Bang Theory is comedy. They know Raj is actually objecting to his friend dating his sister because of a basic annoyance and disgust factor, not really because of religion. Religion is just a handy excuse. So, yeah. Parallel, much?
mollyringle: (my life is so thrilling)
Novelist [livejournal.com profile] kateelliott first introduced me to the Bechdel Test in this post about epic fantasy. The Bechdel Test was originally created for movies, but can be applied easily to books too. As its official page states, the test rates a movie (or a book, we could say) on the following three criteria:

1) It has to have at least two women in it,
2) who talk to each other,
3) about something besides a man.

This test has stuck in my mind ever since reading Elliott's post, because, as she says, it's kind of astonishing how many books and movies don't pass all three criteria. I do believe in basic equality, and those three simple rules seem more than fair.

So naturally it made me look at my own novels. And I'm chagrined to say that some of them barely squeak by, or might even fail. Quick rundown:

The Ghost Downstairs: Passes with full marks. Lots of female characters--in fact, more females than males. They do discuss men (it's a romance, after all), but they also discuss ghosts and jobs and stuff.

Summer Term: Hmm. I do have a number of active female characters, but most of them don't interact with each other, or only meet briefly. The two best friends, Paige and Ky, do chat a lot, but it's almost always about men. Again, in my defense, it's a romance, and of the most frothy sort. Still, they take sidetracks into movies and academics for a line or two here and there, so maybe this book gets a pass.

What Scotland Taught Me: Passes just fine. Of the four main characters, three are young women, who do plenty of interacting. Again, squealing (or squabbling) over boys constitutes a lot of their subject matter, but there are soberer discussions involving family members and career plans and ghost legends.

Of Ghosts and Geeks: (Novella; likely soon to be published--yay!) Highly silly, given that one of the main female characters is an obnoxious ghost, but it does pass. She and the living female protagonist occasionally talk of non-romance issues, but not much, since the whole point is that the ghost is obsessed with romance.

Boy in Eyeliner: (Not yet published. In revision.) Eek. This might fail! But my defense this time is somewhat better. It's from a first-person male point of view, and his main love ends up being with another man. Hopefully that regains some of my gender-equality street cred. Also, I've scattered the characters across the globe--Portland, Seattle, and London--so the three or four important female characters simply aren't in the same location at the same time, on the whole. Still, maybe I should reconsider that.

So. How do your favorites--or your own creations--measure up?
mollyringle: (London Underground)
A thread from Facebook a while back:

Molly: Cool, Prince William and Kate are getting married. Good thing I'm not invited. I'd have *no* idea what to get a couple who already has succession to the throne of the UK and Commonwealth. I mean, that's normally my go-to gift.

Rich: There must be *something* you can re-gift to them. Don't you have an extra Aston-Martin laying around, because somebody got it for you in the wrong color?

Molly: No Aston-Martins, but come to think of it, I do have Norway. Do you think they'd want it? I never use it.

Rich: Perfect! They can use it for their ski holidays!

Martha: I'm giving them Utah. They didn't register for it, but I certainly don't need it anymore. Norway might make a nice set.
mollyringle: (unexplained pirates - songstressicons)
I come before you once again with a fictional scenario for which I'd like some factual information. We're in the legal realm this time. I know only a little law (for instance, I'm pretty sure it's illegal to run someone over with your car without giving them your insurance information beforehand), so feel free to use small words in your answer.

Scenario: a woman is pregnant and does not want to keep the child herself. She has agreed to let the father, her ex-boyfriend, take the baby. For what it's worth, he says she's free to visit anytime, though she claims she won't want to. What do they have to do, legally, to cement the custody decision? I assume something needs to be signed. Anything more?

To confuse matters, they're both Americans, but the child is born in England. Will that matter?

Further confusing things: ex-boyfriend/current father now has a boyfriend of his own, who, all parents agree, will be co-father. Is this easily covered in the agreement? Does any state (or national or international) agency ever have to step in?

Extra credit question: there's a phase in which it seems like the two guys may have to fight the birth mom for custody. What might they find out if they asked lawyers about their chances of winning? Or would they be better off asking social workers? They live in Seattle, by the way. Presumably that will play out differently than a similar scenario in Mississippi. Assume the mother is basically fit but a smidgen unstable, and would be raising the child alone.

That's all for now. If you read my posts carefully enough, you could piece together the plots of all my novels!
mollyringle: (Team America-by pear_icons)
Since the election season is, justifiably, making most of us cranky, I must share this essential sanity-saving link:

PunditKitchen takes news photos, mostly politics, and gives them the LOLcat treatment. I have LOL'd many a time now in browsing them. Many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] wandererrob for finding that.

For posterity, and to demonstrate the twisted nature of my sense of humor, the first (but by no means the only) post to make me laugh out loud:

Oppression: The Musical
mollyringle: (Hogwarts)
Ahh, I have to sit back and chuckle as I watch all this. Let's review the J.K. Rowling business model:

1. Write books. Finish series. Get world at your feet and become richer than the Queen.

2. THEN tell the world the Harry Potter books are partially based on Christian tradition.

3. Within a week, also tell the world that Dumbledore is gay.

4. Congratulations! You have now shaved off the anti-Christian loonies in one step, and the anti-gay loonies in the other, while leaving your calm centrist base to float on the waves with big amused grins on our faces.

5. On the other hand, maybe with step 3 you got some of those Christian fundamentalists to rethink their avoidance of the books--only to cause them, in step 4, to go right back to slapping the Harry Potter series atop the Banned Books list. Or, vice-versa: maybe you piqued some gays' interests, but once they hear about the Christian thing, they aren't going to read them after all.

6. However, I bet you did actually gain a bunch of fans in both communities, since there's a lot of cross-tolerance that the media and general public don't often notice.

7. Not that it matters how many fans you gain or lose, as you are already richer than the Queen, and even if your next venture only sells half as many books as HP, you will still outsell all other living authors.

8. You get to edit and veto the movie scripts? Damn. Most novelists never, ever get that privilege. I want to be you when I grow up.
mollyringle: (Yaquina Head lighthouse)
Been a while since I gave you a random list of remarks. Let's try it again!

1. YouTube is a wondrous place whose members provide us with much video goodness. However, after some serious scientific inquiry, I must conclude that YouTube also has the absolute dumbest, mind-numbingly lamest user comments of any page on the internet. "lol thast sooo hot whats that song in teh bakgrond pleeeze luv the vid thxxxx XP!"

2. Clinique's Cream Shaper eyeliner is the best eye pencil I've tried yet. I guess it's worth it to spend more than $3 on eyeliner. Bye bye, Wet 'n Wild! Note: I have the Starry Plum color because I read that purples are good to make green/hazel eyes "pop" (sounds painful), but it basically just looks black until smudged. Am curious about the green shade (Egyptian) too.

3. There's no such thing as a healthy real tan, and no such thing as an attractive fake tan. If you use fake tanner you are feeding this ridiculous beauty standard that says pale skin isn't as good as darker skin. Yes, I understand about looking dead sometimes and wanting some color to liven things up, but that's what blush is for. The look of blood circulating: good. The look of sun damage: bad. As for legs? Psht, who cares? Honestly, fake orange legs look worse than pale white ones. Embrace your natural tones! Don't let anyone tell you they're not up to par!

4. I'm sure the fact that I currently have a crush on a very pale English vampire on the telly has nothing to do with point #3.

5. For taming frizzes and poofiness in hair, however, I do advocate the use of "product". But smooth hair doesn't mimic the look of any disease or damage, so it's not entirely hypocritical of me when taken with point #3. I have health in mind here along with prettiness.

6. What podcasts do you enjoy listening to? Navigating the iTunes directory tires me, so I'm looking for recommendations. I have eclectic tastes, so name anything you like. But in particular lately, stuff about writing or forensics (the crime-solving type, not the speech-giving type) is most pertinent to me.

7. Politically lately, to the degree I pay any attention to politics, I'm calling myself a centrist. Everything in moderation. Morally and spiritually, I don't know what to call myself. My main central value is respecting and enjoying life. Note that I don't just mean one or the other; not enjoying it disrespectfully (e.g., hedonism) or respecting it somberly (e.g., monasticism), but always both at the same time to the highest degree of compatibility possible. So what does one call that?

8. Happy Memorial Day weekend!
mollyringle: (Team America-by pear_icons)
I think when it's been over three years since I posted a funny link, I get to post it again. So, click here (or, similarly, here) for a different and hilarious take on the Ready.gov signs. Examples:


If you are sprayed with an unknown substance, stand and think about it instead of seeing a doctor.


Do not try to catch up on filing and paperwork during a terrorist attack.
mollyringle: (Elvgren girlie)
I have finished reading Gone with the Wind, and can easily foresee it taking one of the top spots for my "best books read in 2006" list. Guess the Pulitzer Prize committee knew what they were doing. This discussion will contain spoilers, so if you don't want to know what happens in Gone with the Wind, move along.

I wanted to solicit opinions from others on this book, especially those who live in Civil War territory and/or are scholars of the war's history. I fall into neither category, and thus entered this experience with only having seen the film, back when I was a kid, and knowing it was about a pretty lady named Scarlett O'Hara who wore humongously huge hoop skirts, and a rogue named Rhett Butler who told her, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."

Now I see it's a bit more. I daresay it's what Cold Mountain was trying to do. I actually liked Cold Mountain, but came away from it feeling so very bummed out. Somehow Gone with the Wind, though covering almost the exact same range of topics, keeps its spirits throughout. This is due in large part to Scarlett: the narrative focus is squarely upon her, and she is all about survival--and not just scraping-by survival, but fine horses and carriages and flirting and pretty clothes; in short, fun survival.

She takes it to extremes. Lots of times, she asserts that all she wants is money. "As God is my witness, I will never be hungry again," she vows, famously, outraged and insulted at finding herself scrabbling for withered radishes in the neighbors' gardens after the Yankees have been through. Understandable--but just having enough to eat won't do for Scarlett. She wants riches; she wants to do whatever she likes and lie in feather beds half the day and tell the world to go to hell if they don't approve. (There's a quote to that effect somewhere, but in 1024 pages it's hard to find.) And, as with all good heroes, she gets what she wants, but pays a steep price for it.

Her interaction with her friends, family, slaves, and Georgia "society" is of course the most important factor in her survival, not money; but it takes her the greater part of the book to realize it. Her hatred of Melanie, the too-good-to-be-true sister-in-law (and unwitting romantic rival), is hilarious at times. Only the self-centered irritability of a teenage girl, such as Scarlett is at the beginning of the book, could find so much to hate in such a sweet person. And yet we can't hate Scarlett. Not only is she funny, but she is stronger than she thinks; and more loving than she thinks as well. It is particularly moving, at the end, when Scarlett finally comprehends that Melanie is probably her best friend in the world, and that losing her will hurt as much as losing her own mother. (Question for discussion: does Melanie know about Ashley and Scarlett?)

Rhett Butler, as everyone knows, takes her down a notch; not just at the end, with his not giving a damn, but at every opportunity. His attraction to Scarlett is "tough love" of the most entertaining kind. I think we can safely claim that a massive percentage of genre romance novels postdating Gone with the Wind have attempted to recreate the Rhett/Scarlett dynamic. He's as self-centered and opportunistic as she is, but, like Scarlett, does good deeds for others left and right, even if making snide remarks while doing them, and is a far better person than he wants people to believe. (Another question for discussion, the 64-million-dollar question: Will Scarlett get Rhett back?)

Then there's the politics and the race relations. Oh gracious. It's enough to make your head explode. I've heard the difference between the North and the South described as: "In the South they don't care how close blacks get, as long as they don't get too high; and in the North they don't care how high blacks get, as long as they don't get too close." Gone with the Wind illustrates this maxim perfectly. The Georgia folk are outraged that the Yankees would impose their slave-freeing mentality upon them, raising "darkies" to free status, insisting that they get to vote. Horrors! And yet...Scarlett is the one who gets angry when rumors say the Southerners mistreated their slaves; and when some Northern ladies say they wouldn't trust darkies. The slaves at Tara were well taken care of, and Scarlett knows how lovable and trustworthy her own personal slaves have been, and would not lose them for the world. She would set her buggy whip to those Yankee gals for their prejudice if she wasn't such a lady. And yet...Scarlett's slaves were still slaves.

Turning illiterate slaves loose and exhorting them to start voting, hating their former owners, and doing whatever they please would (and did) result in massive social problems. We still see the unproductive "victim mentality" among some minority groups today as a result. And yet...slavery was wrong. No question about that. So, on the one hand, I understood the outrage of the Southerners, for having their states' rights ignored and martial law imposed and unfair rumors spread; but, on the other hand, we couldn't exactly go on allowing slavery, could we? All in all it makes me glad I have renounced my keen participation in politics.

I could go on and on. But next up I should see the film again and kvetch about that. Oh, and I don't think anyone qualifies as a red-blooded young woman if she reads this book and doesn't want to try on at least half of Scarlett's wardrobe. Not that many of us could fit into that 17-inch waist.
mollyringle: (Uncle Sam WWII - by pear_icons)
(...that would be Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game. I had to look it up, at least for the first three letters. "RPG" I knew.)

Excerpt:

Churchill: lol no more france for u hitler
Hitler[AoE]: tojo help me!
T0J0: wtf u want me to do, im on the other side of the world retard
Hitler[AoE]: fine ill clear you a path
Stalin: WTF u arsshoel! WE HAD A FoCKIN TRUCE
Hitler[AoE]: i changed my mind lol

Originally from here; by one Rick. Hat tip to [livejournal.com profile] tdj for finding it. Reprinted below for my own safe keeping, and your enjoyment. )
mollyringle: (Parrish stars)
Since this is a movie post, perhaps it belongs over on [livejournal.com profile] mollyringwraith, but it would be too jarring a contrast after the frivolous parody of Harry Potter #6. Anyway, it's about history and politics as much as fandom.

We Netflixed Judgment at Nuremberg and finished watching it last night. It was, in a word or two, bloody fascinating. This film has been around since 1961, so you may well have seen it already, but I hadn't. It is a courtroom drama, based on true events, about the 1948 trial of four German judges who served under the Nazis. This trial is a bit less cut and dried than the trial of the actual Nazi generals. After all, these were only judges; should you be punished for merely doing your job and carrying out the law, even if the law was signed by Adolf Hitler? Is it really your fault what was happening to the country? Weren't you just trying to uphold some order in a chaotic time?

Or at least, that was part of the defense. I don't envy the attorney who had to defend Nazi collaborators, but the part was played to absolute brilliance, and surprising sympathy, by young Maximilian Schell (who won an Oscar for the role). Why send only these four men to prison, if they were partially guilty for the crimes of the Nazis?, he points out. Why not send all of Germany, or all of the western world?--the voters, the investors, the politicians, the citizens who looked the other way when their neighbors were put into boxcars and sent to Dachau? How did the Holocaust happen, if not for the collaboration, or at least mistakes, of the entire world?

Well, okay, but: I'm no fan of moral relativism, and neither were the American prosecutors. The fierce prosecuting attorney (played by Richard Widmark) chills the blood by his presentation of what he and the Allied troops discovered upon liberating a concentration camp. We've all seen the photos and films by now, of course, but it never fails to terrify me: the children with tattooed numbers on their arms, the ovens with charred skeletons, the piles of emaciated bodies, the parchment made of human skin. Nobody can defend that.

There is guilt and remorse among the defendants: Ernst Janning (Burt Lancaster), one of the German judges on trial, has a largely silent role, but the look of haunted devastation in his eyes should have been enough to earn Lancaster an Oscar too. When he does break his silence, it is to deliver an indictment and lament of what has happened to his native land, and of the atrocities in which he and his colleagues assisted, unwittingly or not.

Spencer Tracy, fabulous as the tough-love-dealing judge presiding over the case, cannot help admitting that some kind of horrible mob mentality did take hold of Germany during WWII, and that it is hard to place blame on individuals, beyond Hitler and his immediate henchmen. However, says judge Tracy in the end, we must hold each man accountable for his own actions; for the most important thing in the world, and what was so tragically lost for a time during the Holocaust, is "the value of a single human being." Amen.

All should see this film. Liberals, conservatives, Americans, Europeans, anyone. That the Holocaust was horrible--no, so far beyond "horrible" we don't even have a word for it--is something we can all agree upon. How it happened, how everyone let it happen, is more of a mystery. How far can we be held accountable for laws that are forced upon us? How far should we submit for our own comfort and safety, before it becomes criminal? Judgment at Nuremberg, like any good trial, lets both sides have their say.

It's not nearly as traumatizing to watch as Schindler's List, but there is that bit of actual concentration-camp footage, so be warned if you cannot bear to see that stuff.

Acting, as I've indicated, was excellent all around, including smaller parts by Judy Garland and Montgomery Clift. (Marlene Dietrich I wasn't that impressed with.) Best of all, William Shatner is in it!--young, clean-cut, adorable, and sounding nothing at all like Kirk. He's actually a good actor when he wants to be. (Just teasing. You know I love you, Shatner.)

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