selenay: (bitchy trampoline)
*sigh* The agenda for the business side of this year's Hugos came out today. There are two items on it that have the SF/F community pretty riled up and Seanan McGuire's commentary on them (with links to more in depth debates on each one) is here.

Go and read if you've ever felt any curiosity about the SF/F community's answer to the Oscars/Bookers and want to know what the kerfuffle is all about. Read it? Got mad? Yeah.

Cut for length )

I can't afford to go to Lonestar this year so I can't vote at the business meetings. But if anyone out there is reading this and attending the con, please read up on these issues and go to the business meetings. I love fandom, I love this genre, I don't want to see our big awards being reserved only for the 'right' sort of people.
selenay: (anti-social)
Oh look, it's 2007 all over again. Well done, Amazon.

Cut for length )

Hopefully Kindle Worlds will go the way of Fanlib and die a quiet, ignomnious death. At the moment that seems the most likely future for it, given the level of uproar and the fact that 99% of readers/writers are already planning to simply pretend it doesn't exist. Fingers are all firmly crossed.
selenay: (black widow 1)
I've been thinking about something a friend and I were talking about last week. We were doing the "OMG, can't cope with baby talk, we're skipping knit night and eating cheesecake while we chat geek stuff" thing that we sometimes do when the knitting group we met through gets a little too mama-oriented.

Both of us are child-free and single. Both of us know way more about children and childbirth than we ever wanted to. Sometimes we need to take a break.

To get back on topic, the geek talk segued into a discussion of women in science fiction as it sometimes does. My lovely friend, H, stated that one of the big things she loves about sci-fi and its related genres is that portrayals of women are far better here than in the mainstream. Women are written as equals and potential leaders unlike in more conventional TV shows and films.

At that point I choked on a mouthful of tea and stared at her a little.

Cut for length )
selenay: (thinking)
Read this article this morning thanks to the lovely Fahre and I've been happy-flailing and thinky ever since.

It's not often that a mainstream news site does a thing on gender, gender expression, and related stuff that's actually *good*.

I was particularly delighted to see the discussion of the separation between sex (biology) and gender and how that relates to the idea of gender being on a spectrum. The idea that everyone is either 100% female or 100% male just...doesn't really resonate with me. Or at least, I know too many people who don't fit into that binary system for it to be the right way to think of gender.

Gender as a spectrum with some people right at either end but a lot of people somewhere along the scale? That makes far more sense to me.

The article also touches on the idea of orientation being on a spectrum (Kinsey scale anyone?) which is something that I've been struggling through for years.

As a teen, I thought I was bisexual. Except all the stuff I was reading said "bisexuals are just confused, you're gay or you're straight" and I got all confused.

From my early twenties on, I classed myself as definitely 100% lesbian. Except that doesn't quite fit either.

Now that I'm into my thirties and giving fewer fucks about what other people think of me, I think "bisexual but maybe 80% of my crushes/loves/relationships are women" probably fits best. So, on the girl preferring side of bi but not far enough towards exclusive girl love to be 100% lesbian. Mostly lesbian? Partially bi? Not really easily labelled at all?

As for gender, I'd classify myself as mostly female. Mostly. That works.

This entry was originally posted at http://selenay.dreamwidth.org/484119.html. There are currently comment count unavailable babbles on the entry on Dreamwidth
selenay: (thinking)
Read this article this morning thanks to the lovely Fahre and I've been happy-flailing and thinky ever since.

It's not often that a mainstream news site does a thing on gender, gender expression, and related stuff that's actually *good*.

I was particularly delighted to see the discussion of the separation between sex (biology) and gender and how that relates to the idea of gender being on a spectrum. The idea that everyone is either 100% female or 100% male just...doesn't really resonate with me. Or at least, I know too many people who don't fit into that binary system for it to be the right way to think of gender.

Gender as a spectrum with some people right at either end but a lot of people somewhere along the scale? That makes far more sense to me.

The article also touches on the idea of orientation being on a spectrum (Kinsey scale anyone?) which is something that I've been struggling through for years.

As a teen, I thought I was bisexual. Except all the stuff I was reading said "bisexuals are just confused, you're gay or you're straight" and I got all confused.

From my early twenties on, I classed myself as definitely 100% lesbian. Except that doesn't quite fit either.

Now that I'm into my thirties and giving fewer fucks about what other people think of me, I think "bisexual but maybe 80% of my crushes/loves/relationships are women" probably fits best. So, on the girl preferring side of bi but not far enough towards exclusive girl love to be 100% lesbian. Mostly lesbian? Partially bi? Not really easily labelled at all?

As for gender, I'd classify myself as mostly female. Mostly. That works.
selenay: (Default)
I've been pondering my reading preferences. Not so much the genre or style I prefer, but my preference for stories with a happy ending. Or at least, in pro-fic, books that don't leave me a sobbing wreck on the floor.

When it comes to fanfic, I'm happy endings all the way, baby.

Hell, I'm not wild about ambiguous endings in novels but sometimes the subject matter is so intense (cf. Hunger Games trilogy, Newsflesh trilogy) that an unalloyed happy ending would make no sense. In those cases, I'd still prefer not to be a sobbing wreck but I can live with a not entirely happy-happy joy-joy ending. I'll just read something light and happy after to clear out the less-than-happy feels.

The thing is, I often feel guilty for this preference. I regularly encounter the "you aren't appreciating true art if you don't like to be a sobbing wreck" argument about books and it's just as prevalent in fanfic at times. There are definitely books and fics out there that I've felt strongly about, that I've been breathless and not-quite-sobbing over in the middle, and I keep reading and rereading them because the end makes it all better. Sometimes the stories with the hardest middles are the ones that make me feel best when the ending is good because it's such a contrast and relief.

It's just that, for me, most of my reading is about escapism. It's about leaving the mundane, frequently horrible real world and spending some time elsewhere. So I'd like it if the stories I'm reading left me feeling uplifted and happy at the end instead of searching for the nearest massive chocolate cake to bury my heartache and depression in.

Am I the only person who feels that way?

And why do so many people insist that this preference somehow makes me a lesser person than having a reading diet that's heavy on the tragedy?
selenay: (avengers 1)
The problem with working from home due to snow is that I get to find out how many awful things my cats do during the day when I'm normally not here. Guys, please, is all that really necessary?

The other problem is that when a deployment to a higher-level test environment goes wrong due to DBAs being less than helpful there's no facility for me to walk over to their cubicle and express my displeasure in a calm, rational, controlled manner. Which leads to me venting on IM to my co-project guy and then on Twitter.

The last problem is that I think a lot about non-work stuff because I'm sitting here silently fuming at people I cannot physically glare at because they're in their homes 30km away.

Like today, when I've been thinking about what I write and why and what kinds of fanfic I read and why.

And why I sometimes feel like my gen Doctor Who adventure writing had more artistic merit than my slashy Avengers fic. Except I'm pretty sure my writing is better in my slashy Avengers fic but yet my confused little brain still feels like the Doctor Who stuff was Proper Writing and the Avengers stuff is less writerly.

It's possible that this is because the Avengers stuff comes easily and the Doctor Who stuff was like pulling teeth sometimes.

And then there's trying to work out why I read what I read, why I just skip over things, and thinky thoughts about why I feel odd reading slash for some fandoms and not for others.

See? Working from home generates too many thoughts and no answers at all.

*wanders off to play with a circus AU fic and look at Tumblr and say really bad words about DBAs preventing me doing any proper work because grr*
selenay: (goodbye to Rose)
Cut for musings on budgeting and how my weekly grocery budget isn't as bad as I thought it was )

In other thoughts...

Oh, Friday, I love you. This has been a long week. Thankfully I'm no longer at the "too tired to think, will have a melt-down in the grocery store" level of exhaustion by the end of the week, but an average, non-stressful week still takes a fair bit out of me. I have no idea how I coped through most of February, March and April with full-time work in the state I was in. The cousin who asked a couple of weeks ago when I was going back to work? Is a doctor and probably had a point about the amount of time that I should have taken off to recover.

Of course, if I had short term disability cover at work and Canada had a better scheme for sick pay for people in my situation, I probably would have taken the time off. I'm rectifying that: saving up with the intention of eventually having six months of salary in the bank and keeping my savings at that level, just in case the worst happens again. My long term disability cover kicks in at six months, but it's hard to figure out exactly what covers me until then.

In more cheerful thoughts...

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is really brilliant. Loving it. I may try to get groceries and other things done early enough tomorrow to be able to spend the entire afternoon reading it. Fantastic.
selenay: (eleventh doctor 01)
So, there's this issue that I have. A self-image thing. People regularly tell me that I'm stupid for feeling this way, but bear with me and I shall explain.

I am not pretty and I am not beautiful. It doesn't matter what I look like, that is the way that I feel about myself. I'm plain and frumpy.

For me, beauty isn't really about physical features. There are people that I think are utterly gorgeous who aren't conventionally pretty, but their clothes sense and flair just *work*.

These people are not me.

1) No matter what the scales say, in my head I'm a bit pudgy and my mental image of myself is about 30 pounds heavier than I really am. Telling me that I'm perfectly thin doesn't actually work. My weight is something that I'm terribly self-conscious about and I'm not sure that I'll ever understand why. I suspect that this is the effect of growing up a skinny kid and then growing overly-large boobs almost overnight, which did get reduced to something slightly more appropriate to my frame but left a lasting impression.

2) The boobs. They make me hideously self-conscious and I never know how to dress well for them. If cleavage is showing, I hear my mother's voice in my head even if it's just a hint and nothing indecent. The fact that many v-neck and scoop-neck tops (which flatter my shape better than high-necked things) seem to end at the navel does not help. I have no issues with wearing a camisole under things like this, but cannot find any silky ones (please could someone tell me where these are found?) and fabricy ones get dragged down by the top and end up baring just as much as the problem neck-line. I have a small frame and it's hard to find things that really fit and flatter when you have a small frame and big boobs. Clothes are built for stick insects.

3) My feet are narrow and shallow. They look perfectly nice and shapely up until I put them on the floor, then they flatten totally and pronate (roll inwards). This actually looks really ugly, IMO. Over the For this reason, I wear orthotics most of the time and my every day shoes need to accommodate the orthotics. For those who don't know, this means that they need a little bit of extra space, the inside needs to be shaped so that the orthotics don't bend inappropriately and the shoes need to be firmly attached to my feet. This is why I usually wear boots or Converse sneakers. Pretty shoes do not match well with orthotics. Nor do they go well with butt-ugly flat feet. Pretty shoes do not stay on my feet unless they have lots of straps and there are limits to how much heel I can wear and not fall flat on my face. Thus shoe shopping is torture and I have no pretty shoes. I'm going to admit that the shoes I wore to my best friend's wedding last year were a bad choice, both from a comfort POV and appearance. I really needed something daintier with a slight heel for that dress. Not owning pretty shoes (my boots are all a little clumpy and Converse only work in casual situations) makes dressing up for a dressy do not very easy.

4) I have no clothes sense. Mostly I manage not to clash badly or look out of place formality-wise at work. Mostly. Sometimes I catch myself in the mirror and realise that I've managed to dress so badly that someone should have arrested me when I left the house. I am not kidding, there was a day last month when the sweater/trousers combo made me look like a very fat kid with a teeny head. Ouch. And sometimes my colour choices, while not clashing, give the impression that I'm wearing pyjamas. Beige ones. Urp. I have no clothes sense, no colour sense and no idea how my friends manage to look so good when I can barely figure out whether a sweater goes with my blue jeans or not. As for dressing up, I'm clueless. Accessorizing appropriately (which I understand is the key to a great outfit) might as well be quantum physics to me.

5) I know as much about make-up as I did when I was ten. And I think I'm about as skilled at applying it. Nor do I have any clue about this 'eye-brow shaping' that people speak of. Likewise, I can blow-dry my hair by aiming the hairdryer at it but have no clue about actually styling it. My hairdresser uses flat-irons and product and it looks amazing, but these are items that I also have no clue about. Somewhere in my 'how to be a girl' education, all of these things passed me by and at the age of mumble-mumble I feel that it's probably too late to learn. So my hair looks vaguely wind-blown most of the time, I have no idea whether my eyebrows look OK and I'm scared of make-up.

I know for a lot of women, the things that I've listed aren't important and they don't really mind all these things. For me, these are all the reasons that I consider myself to be rather plain and frumpy (I am frumpy, I admit it) and I'm not sure how I change them.

My conviction that I'm not pretty (and sometimes that I'm a bit ugly) isn't about my features, it's about all the things that make up beauty to me. Someone can have absolutely gorgeous features, but those other things (clothes and hair and flair) can make them fade into the background. Someone else can have quite ordinary features, but they know how to dress and move and generally 'be' so people look at them and think 'wow'.

Does any of this make sense to people?
selenay: (ace vs dalek)
This isn't a meme yet, but I suspect that it's turning into one and I couldn't resist. This was posted in [livejournal.com profile] fandomsecrets over the weekend and triggered a huge discussion of female characters in SF. [livejournal.com profile] misscam's response here was brilliant and I've now seen a few people list their amazing, strong female characters so I had to join in.

Donna Noble, Doctor Who. I am so predictable, but she's one of the first characters that comes to mind. She's strong, she learns just how brilliant she can be, she doesn't take anything lying down and in Turn Left we saw that all she needed was circumstances to find her inner-awesome. It's not dependant on the Doctor. I still haven't forgiven RTD.

Ace McShame, Doctor Who. She killed a Dalek. With a baseball bat. She blew stuff up with homemade explosives. She got ridiculously excited about rocket launchers. She killed Cybermen with gold coins and a sling shot. She could be so incredibly vulnerable (see Curse of Fenric, Ghostlight et al) but always came through it stronger. It seems entirely appropriate that she was destined to become a Time Lady if the show had continued.

Tegan Jovanka, Doctor Who. She accidentally wandered into the TARDIS and, after he initial WTF-ness, proceded to be awesome and help to defeat the Master. Yes, she spent the first few adventures trying to get back to Heathrow, but when she was given the chance to stay on Earth, she didn't. She was loud and bossy and sometimes rude, but she was brave and caring and funny as well. Bonus points for leaving team TARDIS when she needed to, rather than getting killed or left behind by accident.

Sarah Jane Smith, Doctor Who and SJA. It is hard to express the sheer awesomeness of Sarah Jane. She's smart and brave and curious, which is how she hooks up with the Doctor in the first place. There are times when she's scared, but never times when she lets her fear get in the way of doing what needs to be done. OK, yes, there were a few poor fashion choices (pink dungarees? Seriously?) and the writers needed to find better cliffs for her to fall off so that it looked slightly less lame to be rescuing her from small hillocks, but I blame that on 70s TV budgets. In the recent series she has matured but still saves the world regularly with a sonic lipstick. She's a mother, not just to Luke, and she isn't afraid to let her chicks go out there and save the world as well.

Susan Ivonova, Babylon 5. There are no words to express my love. Susan doesn't take crap from anyone, she stands up to the biggest, nastiest aliens out there and she can be sort of diplomatic if she has to be. Although she is very much attached to her Russian heritage and that can inform her 'diplomacy' at times. She sleeps in slinky nightwear and could probably drink Garibaldi under the table, if the vodka was good enough. I think Ivonova was the first character that I wanted to "be" when I was a teenager.

CJ Cregg, The West Wing. My mantra for the last few years has been "I want to be CJ when I grow up". TWW is filled with wonderful female characters, but CJ outshines them all. She's smart and sassy and strong, at times she can be a total dork, and Josh is afraid of her even if he won't say it out loud. Her conscience regarding lying to the press is what kept her out of the loop sometimes, but she's got the strength of character to overcome that when she needs to as Chief of Staff. I want to be CJ when I grow up.

Miranda Bailey, Gray's Anatomy. She's tough and scary and really short, but she can do all that and be a caring person at the same time. Is some of that scariness to overcome the disadvantage of being female in a male profession (and really short)? Totally. Do I care? No, because she's tough without turning into a man in skirts and can be beautifully feminine with pride.

Hermione Granger, Harry Potter. Try to imagine what it must have been like for her those first months at Hogwarts. Yes, she's excited about the magic and the spells and the history and all, but underneath? Who wouldn't be terrified to discover that everything you thought you knew about the world was wrong. She doesn't curl up and cry or run away, she grasps everything with both hands and doesn't flinch when Harry and Ron's adventures sort of roll over her. By book 7 she's the one that knows what to do and puts things together. She survives terrible things and comes out more awesome. Where would Harry and Ron be without her? Probably dead, with Voldemort ruling the world.

Alanna of Trebond and Olau, Tortall books. For the first two books she's disguised as a boy and through that discovers what kind of woman she wants to be. Then she goes out into the world and is awesome for the second half of the series. She can compete on equal footing with the boys and finds ways to compete when her size is against her. Despite the early years disguised as Alan, she never becomes a man in skirts character. Her romances are sweet and about strengthening her rather than becoming an attachment to a man.

Kerowyn, By the Sword and other Valdemar books. She's tough and smart and she has a magic talking sword. Kero knows what she wants and she does it. She's also able to accept it when life takes unexpected turns and take full advantage of new opportunities. There aren't many female mercenary characters out there and they are often the hard-bitten, faintly nasty sort of bit-characters that appear as opposition to our hero. Kero is the herione and she's brilliant for it.

Connie Beauchamp, Holby City. Not SF fandom, but HC has a teeny tiny fandom out there somewhere, I'm sure. Connie can be a complete bitch, a caring friend or a loving mother. She can be all three at once sometimes. Husband betrays her? She sniffles for three seconds and then goes for revenge. Connie can be more ambitious than is good for her, she hates being reminded of her roots and she makes bad decisions for bad reasons as often as for good reasons. We've watched her use men to further her career, but we've also seen her heart broken when she allows someone to see her vulnerability so we understand her. She's a character that is fun to watch because even when you're hating her, you know that you'll love her again in two weeks' time.

I know that I've missed a few and people will probably remind me of them as soon as I post this, but these are the immediate ones that come to mind. So who are your strong, amazing female characters?

ETA: OMG, how could I have forgotten Buffy? And Faith? And Willow? Hell, the entire female cast of Buffy deserve their own accolades. Then there are Kira Nerys and Jadzia Dax from DS9, although Dax is slightly more problematic because how do you classify a symbiote currently in a female body but previously in a male one?
selenay: (Default)
I rarely post here on news issues because, although I'm a news junkie, everyone else out there tends to be discussing things with much more intelligence and thought than I could manage. Today I was checking through the blogs I follow over breakfast and spotted this entry from BendyGirl about home care: http://benefitscroungingscum.blogspot.com/2009/04/britains-home-care-scandal-panorama.html

She links to a Panorama report on home care for the elderly: http://news.bbc.co.uk/panorama/hi/front_page/newsid_7990000/7990682.stm

The reason it stood out to me is because there are regularly news items out there about the poor standard of care for the elderly both in the home and in nursing and care homes. BendyGirl is different. She is my age, she has severely disabling EDS and should be receiving a full home care package. Due to the standard of home care that she received, she chose not to appeal when her package was removed.

When I eventually lost my whole care package despite the panic I felt at not having any assistance I was so terrified of social services and care companies that I made the decision not to appeal. Fully understanding what the consequences could be for myself I was very clear that I felt safer taking my chances of ending up dead on the floor than I would ever feel dealing with social services.


BendyGirl does praise the wonderful carers that are out there, but sadly they are often the exception. A large part of the blame can be placed squarely with the private companies employing them and providing the majority of home care in the UK. There are good reasons why the UK government's Direct Payments scheme, while good in theory, does not work well in practise so most people needing care opt to accept private company care funded by the state instead. We should be horrified by the care that elderly people receive, but we should also be horrified by the care that the disabled receive and that's what doesn't get highlighted in these reports.

BendyGirl is my age so the sheltered, wardened flats that are routinely offered to the elderly cannot be given to her even though her needs are the same. I have (not very) fond memories of trying to get a suitable wheelchair for my uncle (who had osteogenesis imperfecta) on the state so it's no surprise that she is denied an electric wheelchair even though her shoulders and wrists dislocate too often to allow her to propel herself in a heavy NHS wheelchair. Given the right aids and support, BendyGirl is smart and could work part-time. She knows this, has acknowledged it freely, and it's one of the many things that makes her angry. Like far too many disabled people, the support is not available from government or employers. Home care does not cater for those who are working and need help with morning care routines. The aids that she would need to get to and around the workplace are far too expensive for even people on good full-time wages (never mind someone on benefits) to afford so she is stuck on benefits that ensure she cannot supplement the poor provisions with extras - such as an electric wheelchair - that would give her a better quality of life.

I have no idea what provision for the disabled is like here in Canada and I hope that I don't have to find out, but it's this kind of situation that makes me utterly furious and it's something that I'm far too familiar with.
selenay: (Default)
I'm starting to come to the conclusion that I enjoy cooking. I actually like doing it. This after years of saying that I like baking but dislike cooking.

I've been trying to think why I'm enjoying it or, perhaps more importantly, why I had stopped enjoying it all those years ago. The only good reason that I can come up with is the one that's also responsible for my dislike of Charles Dickens (except when adapated by the BBC, apparently).

School.

Cut for length )
selenay: (grin)
As of today, it is now six months since I moved to Canada. I can't believe how fast the time has flown! There have been ups and downs and the winter has not been easy, but overall it's been wonderful and I'm absolutely certain that I made the right choice to do this. It's been a huge learning experience in more ways than I could ever have imagined.

Things I have learned:
Cut for length )

I'm sure that I could keep going for hours on that. So much of what I've done and learned is stuff that I didn't even think about when I came here. It makes me quite excited about the next six months. The good thing is that the weather is going to start getting better as spring starts approaching (the long-term forecast has no snow for two weeks, which I'm sure is wrong!) so there are a ton of things that I plan to do:

- Get out on some trips at the weekends, exploring more of the area outside the city.
- Learn to barbeque really well and creatively.
- Experiment more with my cooking and do more baking.
- Go paddling regularly.
- BBQ at least once a week when the weather is warmer.
- Buy a table and chairs for the deck.
- Sit out on the deck on summer evenings. A glass of wine is totally allowed.
- Have people around for dinner.
- Organise picnics at the beach.
- Remember that I can be at the beach in fifteen minutes so there is no need to swelter at home if I don't want to.
- Wash my car regularly!
- Eat more salads and get out walking regularly.
- Or use the treadmill, if it's nasty outside.
- Walk to the mailbox in the evening when the weather is good rather than stopping there in the car.
- Get the shed door sorted out so that it can be easily opened and closed for storage of deck furniture.
- Get aunt to show me how to repair broken screens.
- Drink coffee on the deck in the mornings.
- Organise a party for my one year emmigraversary.

Yeah, a lot of this is stuff that will need to wait until the weather is much better, but it's good to have goals and plans :-) I'm really looking forward to the next six months!
selenay: (Thoughtful)
Today I went for the bloodwork that the new doc insists I need before getting a new prescription for my painkillers. I've got no objection to doing it because it probably is sensible to monitor me - if my kidneys do pack up, I suspect that detecting it before symptoms appear is better than after.

I'm a very firm believer in state health care. You might call it a religious fervour, almost. My grandparents went bankrupt at least once (that my mother knows of) due to the costs of caring for two children with osteogenesis imperfecta, one with rhuematic fever and a thyroid disorder and all the common childhood ailments before there was socialised medicine in Canada. Nobody should have to go bankrupt and sell their home to pay for the treatment of severe illness in their children. It's why my mum ended up in England: my grandmother was a war bride so she used her British citizenship to move the family to England when Mum was 17. The NHS was able to offer free care for the boys with OI, decent schooling for the one young enough to still need it (he's now the owner of his own company despite severe disability - all that free care gave us a high-earning and high tax-paying man so I call that triumpth) and when my grandparents got sick they were able to afford their own treatment.

As a believer in state care, I didn't feel right about the idea of paying to have my bloodwork done just to save a bit of time so I went down to the local hospital very early this morning.
Er, I may be paying the next time. It wasn't that it was a bad experience - the nurse was good and efficient when I finally got through and the bruising isn't too bad. It's just that it took nearly two hours to be seen and, despite being there before the sun rose, I was still very late to work. Yes, my work gives me paid time to attend to medical issues but I don't want to take advantage of that in case I need more frequent appointments later in my employment. There is no way to know how I will be in a year or two, after all.

A girl at work has told me about a place that takes evening appointments and apparently I can even pay to have a nurse come out to me at home - I could work from home for a day, take a ten minute break while the nurse is there and not lose any work time at all.

The question is whether I can bring myself to pay for a service just for the convenience. There is a part of me that worries that paying for normally free services so that they fit into my life will, over time, allow governments to charge for those services as standard 'because people are willing to pay'. I'm already watching the UK government attempting to introduce elements of private medicine to the NHS template and it makes me sick. As the USA finally wakes up to the immorality of people going without care because they cannot afford it or losing everything after a cancer diagnosis, am I undermining the ideals of socialised medicine by considering paying for services that can be provided as quickly (if not as conveniently) by the state?
selenay: (thinking)
Something my father said to me a few days ago has made me think. He's not too impressed with the new version of Survivors. I've got it saved and haven't had time to watch it yet, but his reaction was that it takes a very grim, pessimistic view of humanity and what people can be like. All the things that he thoroughly enjoyed about the original have been removed so that although it has the same basic story, it's not the same and it isn't enjoyable to watch.

I'm planning to make time to watch it at the weekend so I'll see how I feel about it.
His major disappointment is this idea that humans, under pressure, are selfish, cruel individuals and it's something that I've noticed in a lot of modern dramas. They can be unpleasant to watch just because of the characterisation and this insistence on seeing the worst that people can be and presenting that as the way everyone must be.

At the end of the email, he commented that Spooks continues to be excellent and completely watchable, that SJA is still superb and that he's thoroughly enjoying Merlin as well. Unfortunately Heroes hasn't been impressing him much and, er, I've been forgetting to record it because I'm in the same place.

It sparked the thought in me: why are certain shows (Spooks, Merlin, SJA, DW) so totally watchable and compelling yet so much other stuff is unwatchable? What makes the difference - Survivors is from the same fantastical genre as Spooks and SJA, yet it's been a disappointment.
One of the things that strikes me about these lists is that things like Survivors are being written and presented to be 'serious' TV despite the speculative fiction genre. Heroes is written the same way.

Nobody could accuse Merlin of being serious TV ;-)

Spooks, SJA, DW...they are all written as escapist fantasy (even though Spooks is firmly set in the here and now with no hint of dragons or aliens) that the audience can enjoy but not setting out to make big points. Yup, they all tackle the odd dilemma that has resonances with our lives, but that's not their core intention. Spooks changes the focus of their villains to reflect current concerns (with remarkable accuracy) which is why it's Russians that are the current threat and Islamic terrorists have taken more of a back seat this year, but it doesn't have an agenda or a moral imperative.

All of these incredibly successful, popular shows are written as entertainment. Nothing else, their core purpose is entertainment.

The writing on all of them is great, you engage with the characters and you are drawn into the central plot week after week. Could it be that this kind of escapist fantasy letting writers do their best work and actually show some hope for humanity where 'serious' stuff doesn't?

And why is that? What is it about 'serious' TV that insists that it must be grim, pessimistic and unpleasant? Why can there never be a likable, good intentioned character in 'serious' TV?
I'm not sure that I'll ever find an answer to that one.
selenay: (thoughtful elizabeth)
A few of you may have noticed that so far this year I have written exactly two short fics so far. Leaving aside the small matter of how many long fics I used to write in a year, the thing that I have been thinking about is that both of those fics are Doctor Who fics based around Donna.

Why have I been thinking about this? Because Donna seems to be my break-in character for Doctor Who.

I have got the beginnings of several Ace fics littered around my hard-drive. Try as I might, none of them seem to call me even though I really want to write fic for my favourite character and a much under-used Doctor. In classic Who, the only character that I've actually finished a fic for was Brigadier Bambera. Not anyone's first choice, I think, although she was great to write for. In new Who, I have vaguely considered writing fic for both Rose and Martha, but never got further than vaguely thinking about it. I love both characters to bits, yet they just don't speak to me.

This brings me to Donna, who should be the hardest of the new companions to write for because she's loud, brash, shouty, obnoxious and pushy. She's so easy to caricature that she should be incredibly hard to get right and intimidating for writers. And yet she's the character that I've written two fics for with another half finished and a couple more germinating in my brain.

I'm calling her my break-in character because she's the character that I finally found to write in DW.

It doesn't seem to be the character that I most identify with or that I share the background to and that holds true for every fandom. Buffy was my character in Buffy, it was Daniel in Stargate and Elizabeth in Atlantis. It's not necessarily the most popular because half of fandom seemed to hate Elizabeth and a lot of fandom still isn't sure about Donna. It's not a character that I feel needs redeeming or the prettiest or the most fun-loving or the funniest.

I guess the thing with all those characters is that they're the ones that I want to explore and that I have something to say about. Perhaps that's why I spend a couple of years writing for a fandom and then largely move on because I have nothing left to say. Fannish butterflies like me is an essay best left for another day. These are the characters that catch me up and that I can actually feel when I'm writing, who I don't have to struggle to create words for. I like exploring the sides to these characters that are hinted at on the screen but never explored hugely and I enjoy working out how they think.

Perhaps it's easiest to say that these are the characters that speak to me, except it's not a literal voices in my head thing! Just...they are the characters where the stories write themselves to a degree rather than the ones where I have beginnings littered around that never go anywhere without a monumental struggle.

I haven't found my Torchwood character yet. I assumed that it would be Tosh - computer whizz! - and it isn't. Except lately I've been getting the vague ideas for a Captain John Hart story and I'm not sure that I'm ready to write a sociopathic murder addict even if his story is starting to write itself in my head when I get quiet moments.

So, does anyone else experience this or am I just crazy?
selenay: (bored now)
I have had an odd thought. More of a complaint really. It's not directed at any particular show, but am I the only person who growls at the TV at couples who can apparently have sex while mostly clothed? It seems like lately, a lot of shows have scenes that are, supposedly, immediately post-coital yet both the characters are wearing at the minimum full sets of underwear.

It's happening on an increasing number of shows, it seems.

While I understand that it's possibly easier to shoot something intended for pre-watershed audiences with both characters full underweared (particularly if one or more participants are female), it's not completely impossible and it's happening on post-watershed shows as well.

I mean, think of the children! They'll have this bizarre idea that adults have sex while wearing full underwear and just never get naked!

Maybe not. But still, it's irking me because it seems to be happening more and more.

In other news, I am bored and trying to simulate interest in my work despite being tired and wishing for chocolate and bed. Bleh.
selenay: (thoughtful elizabeth)
*flop*

Haven't died yet, but am rather knackered. Should make it to the end of the week, though. I hope. The earlier start made a huge difference in the commute - I was there in half the time this morning, so arrived ridiculously early (7.30am is too early for anyone sane). I haven't got hold of when I can leave yet, so stayed until 4.45pm despite this early start and should probably get the hang of leaving at a sensible time when I have nothing to do so that I don't burn out too quickly.

However, I got my hands on some SQL today so that was cool. I'm feeling a little intimidated by the programming that they're hoping I can do, but also kinda relieved that they want me to do some and it won't all be stats and analysis. I've just got to make myself care about stock issues rather than looking at it all as one big programming problem.

I got ample demonstration of one of the wonderful sides of online communities and friendships yesterday - there was a Gmail invite sitting in my inbox within a couple of hours of enquiring (thanks to the wonderful [livejournal.com profile] catspaw_sgjd and another offer within minutes of that. You are all wonderful people :-) I just hope that I can offer the same kind of help when things come up that I can provide aid on! Offline people never seem to understand this side of the experience - the knowledge that someone out there will have the skills to help you with something and will actually offer those skills freely, with the tacit understanding that you'll pass on the favour at some stage. Online life can be insane, bitchy and weird, but I've found that in many ways the online community is more generous and supportive than many RL communities. Hmm.

I want to get philosophical about it and provide a good reasoned argument on the pros and cons of online versus RL communities, but my brain is mostly yelling "Trash TV! Sleep!" right now *g*

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