Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Back to Reality Blogaround

The holiday decor has been taken down; the living room table folded and put away; the sweets mostly consumed; the most recent Dr. Who episodes watched (I found the End of Time, Part 2, to be quite pop-cult referential, with homages to everything from The Matrix to the drawn-out endings of the Lord of the Rings films, but overall pretty good); the rent paid; the aforementioned hospital bill found to be paid after all; about half my DCU comics read (Robin may be temporarily off their Christmas card list but fortunately DC is still sending him comp boxes); and; most importantly, blog reading finally caught up on, including my LiveJournal subs that once again aren't feeding to Bloglines (but all of which I've subscribed to using Google Reader) - so it's more than past time to stave off the still-howling winds outside (I fear our driveway may have become a sheet of ice) with some long-overdue ironing and a blogaround wrapping up 2009 for good and all:

• First off, congratulations to Mikhaela Reid and Makesha Wood on their impending bundle of joy!

• Unfortunately, I can't read Peter David's brilliant parody poem The Books of Laredo without hearing in my head the Smothers Brothers' parody of the original.

• From BoingBoing via Gizmodo: the true odds of being a victim of "airborne terror."

• The hands-down best review of Avatar I've read has to be from Annalee Newitz in io9, which has been justly linked to from all over. Alas, I fear the "great white hope goes native and saves noble savages" trope goes back pretty far in Western literature; even Gulliver's Travels has a little of that, and of course it's all over the place in Edgar Rice Burroughs. As long as white folks control and greenlight most entertainment, it'll be there. I also enjoyed Mark Morford's take on Avatar's not-so-alien sexuality, including some pretty damning quotes from Cameron (ranking right down there with the Playboy interview quote "Right from the beginning I said, 'She’s got to have tits,' even though that makes no sense because her race, the Na’vi, aren’t placental mammals."). As far as actually wanting to see the movie? Aside from the obvious racist and sexist elements in Cameron's mindset, making the idea of giving him any of my money distasteful, I'm pretty much with Lance Mannion here. It's just not a movie roller-coaster ride in which I have any great interest, so I'm content to wave to the folks on the Cyclone from the comfort of my easy chair and computer desk.

• Heidi MacDonald is your one-stop shopping for reactions to Marvel taking a page from Friends of Lulu and putting out an all-female-created comic anthology. Seriously, we still have to endure boys freaking out over this sort of thing every three months or so? Guys, just calm the eff down, you still have overwhelming societal privilege even when we get to share in the fun every now and then.

• Speaking of cultural privilege, I highly recommend David Byrne's fascinating exploration of The Limits of Multiculturalism. One of the best essays I've read in 2009, although I'm not sure it's eligible for a Koufax Award (yes, they're back!)...

• Always good to see Phil Austin blogging again, and his views on a Firesignian Christmas in Hollywood were a lot of fun to read. Other holiday-timed posts I liked include Jim MacDonald's overview of the celebrations and remembrances in Mousehole and Bryan's December calendar and annual reminder of what NODWISH means.

• I don't know very many people who aren't going to refer to this year as "twenty-ten," and Ken Jennings makes a good point when he says "Getting used to “twenty-” before the year is going to be hard, but Mindy [his wife] pointed out that the real test of our modern-ness will come when we start to leave it off." Class of '10, here we come!

• I just have one question for Kim Brittingham, whose "Fat is Contagious" experiment is reprinted in the We Are The Real Deal body image blog: what NYC buses and subways is she lucky enough to ride? Because my experience is just the opposite - even when riders see there's not going to be enough room to squeeze in next to me, they'll do it, and cause me a great deal of pain in the process (sitting on my hip or other body parts, sticking handbags and such into me), often making it very difficult for me to even get up and walk out of the public transit conveyance at my stop. I sometimes wish more riders treated this fat old gal as a pariah!

• Good to see people still talking about topics that haven't gone away. Dave Johnson reports on findings that HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup) is one of the things making US citizens less healthy, noting 'You can't blame everyone who is getting fat if everyone is getting fat at the same time." (Although I would have appreciated him taking the next step and opining that, because of this, maybe being fat isn't the evil, awful thing so many folks make it out to be.) And in my Thanksgiving blogaround I noted a few prominent bloggers skeptical of the outcry against the government's new mammogram recommendations. I now notice Barbara Ehrenreich has also weighed in on breast cancer screening guidelines, as part of an interesting essay on the style-over-substance nature of "pink culture" in general.

• Speaking of pink, PZ Myers notes that pink science toys designated as "for girls" are often less powerful than general science toys. And speaking of toys, Paul relays that Melissa McEwan raises a good point that gendered anthropomorphized toys/characters are almost always male; "'girls' toys' just underline girls' need to engage in service and don't reflect back any personhood at all, unless it's a babydoll, which is a person that the girl needs to care for."

• Melissa's also got a ready response for all the whiners asking her not to quit "looking for offense" in advertisements. While I sometimes disagree with Melissa as to whether I personally find something triggering or sexist etc., I agree with her main point: "The truth is, if I actually spent my days actively paying attention to every example of rape apologia around me, I would be a profoundly unhappy woman... Women have to train themselves to avoid consciously reacting to every bit of rape-advocating detritus permeating the culture through which we all move, lest they go quite insane... If I wrote about all the examples of sexual predation I see every day, I'd never sleep." On the other hand, sometimes there's hope. I smiled at Vanessa's post about a male writer who had a "click" moment regarding a "humorous" article he'd written featuring rape scenarios.

• Paul Krugman points out what a lot of Bloggers Without Blinders have been saying: During last year's campaigning, lots of people projected on now-President Obama the things they wanted him to be, rather than what his speeches and record showed him as being (i.e., a centrist who leant the furthest to the right of any major Democratic candidate). So his positions on a whole lot of things, health care reform included, shouldn't be all that surprising.

• William Bradley's HuffPo post making the case for the Beatles being The Band of the Decade made me smile; I always find it adorable when people like Bradley "discover" the Beatles. My first bout of Beatlemania was in the '70s, and something tells me Bradley wasn't even born then.

Lastly, a couple photos from different angles of this year's holiday wreath featuring all our December birthday/anniversary/Christmas cards from friends and relatives:

A lot fewer than last year, as more folks exchange unprintable (due to things like animation, not language) egreetings.