MLM No “T” – Impossible

Published October 16, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

Impossible

So much in life feels impossible.

Making a difference.

Succeeding w/my novels.

Cleaning my house.

Doing a really good job in my class work.

Learning languages, life lessons, all of ’em.

I should focus on possible goals:

…um…

…like…

…uh…

….inhaling and exhaling.

Yeah….maybe a bad idea.

I should keep dreaming of impossible goals.


 

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IWSG – Not Missin’ THIS Month!

Published October 4, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

Yup, pre-writing this two weeks ago, to make sure I don’t miss it!  (Because of course nothing will change between then and now, right?)

I’ll probably tack on an actual post at the end of this, but in the mean time, I’ll just real quick answer the question of the month for October (which oddly has nothing to do with Halloween!):

Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

Hmm.  I have surprisingly little personal information.  (LOL, that sounds crazy!)  But, really, by nature I’d spend all day hiding at home and doing whatever I pleased (reading, writing, gaming, toy collecting, shopping for more toys), and that means that’s what I tend to do when I have free time, so I have very little that’s the sort of thing they probably mean in this question:  no romantic ties, no children, etc.

On the other hand, the main character of my July CampNaNo work was essentially a self-insert into my current fandom obsession, so there’s a lot there that’s me:  total lack of social skills, asexual/aromantic, doll collector, museum employee, easily compelled into strange obsessions (but not in a creepy way), gamer, anime fan, Vocaloid fan, totally ignorant of 90% of popular music past and present, resident of this city, and 42 years old.  So, yeah, I guess I’ve slipped a lot of my personal information into a character on purpose!  But I doubt the work will ever be read.  I’m going to admit that she’s a self-insert in the (likely to be copious) author’s notes at the beginning, and probably in the summary, too, and self-insert characters are the Kryptonite of most fanfic readers.  (I find it highly amusing, possibly even ironic, that as I write these words, I am listening to a song “performed” by three Vocaloids produced by a company called Crypton Future Media.)  Of course, those notes will also explain that she’s just the vessel through which the readers are taking a tour of the 2017 edition of the slightly dystopian 1984 in the movie (and just like in reality, 2017 is infinitely worse than 1984) and hunting for clues as to what’s happened to the characters we know and love in the intervening decades, so maybe a few open minded fans will read it, but…heck, my stuff is only read by a few people anyway. Read the rest of this entry →

MLM No “R” – NaNo’s Coming!

Published October 2, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

Announcing my 2017 NaNo novel-to-be.

It doesn’t have a title yet.

It’s a bit steampunk, a bit fantasy (well, it has alchemy and enchanted objects, but no magic spells), and it has tame political conflict between about a dozen fictional nations.

Mostly, though, it has a beautiful young man (19ish) falling in love with a handsome 20-something man who’s still hung up on his ex, the king’s only son.

That and ships that fly.  Lots of ships that fly.

The lead’s ship is held aloft by giant eagles.  (A la Tolkien.)  Many have types of pegasi.  Oh, and giant bats.  One of them has giant bats.

Because awesome.

(And now I can claim a badge on the NaNo site!  Yay for pointlessness!)

Book Report: Two Boys Kissing

Published September 29, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

I managed to finish reading my book for Banned Books Week after all!  Largely because in addition to being relatively short (it is YA), the last section of the book is one of those things where I couldn’t close the book again after I reached it until I’d finished reading the book.  Anyway, allow me to introduce you to one of last year’s top ten most banned/challenged books:

The cover photo is actually pretty misleading, in that one of the two boys is visibly taller than the other, and the text makes a point of saying that they’re the same height, making their challenge easier.  Oh, wait, I should talk about the book, not the cover!  It’s just something that really struck me suddenly about the cover image, and I had to point it out.

All right, so the book itself.  Probably the first thing anyone says about this book — though it’s not in the official blurb on the dust jacket, interestingly — is that it’s narrated by a Greek chorus of gay men who have died of AIDS.  And it really is, except that in a true Greek drama, the characters on stage can and do interact with the chorus, and the chorus has no idea exactly what’s going on in the characters’ heads.  The “we” narrating this novel — and I think this is the only work I’ve ever encountered with a first person plural narrative voice, btw –know what the characters are thinking and feeling, not because they have some omniscience, but because they’ve been there, having lived through so many of the things these boys are going through, but no matter how much they shout at the boys, no matter how much they try to interfere, they can’t, because they’re dead.  It’s both a mournful narrative voice and also a supremely powerful and even rejoicing one, because while they’re gone and so many of their friends are gone with them, some of their friends are still around, and — much more importantly — the new generation is starting from a better place, with more chance of being accepted by their family and friends.  As to why these men are narrating our tale, I’ll let them give you an idea of that in their own words:

We no longer sleep, and because we no longer sleep, we no longer dream.  Instead we watch.  We don’t want to miss a thing.

You have become our dreaming.

While our narrators can turn their gaze at anyone they want, they choose to show us a handful of gay teens over the course of a weekend.  The two boys of the title, Craig and Harry, are preparing to break the World Record for longest kiss, which will require them to kiss for 32 hours, 12 minutes and 10 seconds.  Because they’re doing it to make a statement — both defiant and naïve, typically teenage — they got permission to do it on the front lawn of their high school, with their friends running cameras to livestream it onto the Internet, and teachers to act as witnesses.  There are also Neil and Peter, a close couple, Ryan and Avery, who only just met at the beginning and hit it off right away, and Cooper, whose story may have grabbed me more than anyone else’s, along with Tariq, a friend of Craig and Harry and whose story gets largely subsumed into Craig and Harry’s.  Some of these boys are out to their friends and family, a few aren’t, and one of them is a trans boy, making his life infinitely more complicated.  Some of the other boys get sucked into the drama around the big kiss, and others remain oblivious to it, caught up in their own lives as most people are most of the time.

Read the rest of this entry →

Book Report: TransAntiquity

Published September 26, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

I should be reading the next of the ten gazillion (seemingly) library books I have out for this semester’s research project, but I’m going to write this report on the first one instead, in the hopes that discussing it will help me to process the information and figure out exactly what my topic question is.

So, as you can see, the title of this book is “TransAntiquity:  Cross-Dressing and Transgender Dynamics in the Ancient World,” a title which is actually a bit misleading, as the modern concept of transgender is, well, modern, only a few decades old.  So this is more an approach from the modern perspective, with full understanding (and acceptance) of transgender.  (And this is, of course, the kind of book you don’t want to buy:  it’s priced for library purchases, not individual purchases, over $100 a copy.)

Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that I didn’t actually read this book cover-to-cover.  I’m researching a paper that’s going to be on the definitions of gender (and behavior towards transgressors of those definitions) in ancient Greece and Rome, and so I skipped over two of the essays in this book, because they really did not apply:  one was about Pharaonic Egypt, and the other was about a period I’d more consider to be the early Middle Ages than late Antiquity (y’know, post-600 AD) so it was actually concerned with Christianity’s reaction to gender transgressions, which is a completely different topic.  (Technically, one of the ones I did read also included a lot of discussion of early Christianity, but it also talked about pre-Christian Rome.  Plus…well, I’ll get to it in turn, and you’ll see why I had to read it.)

I’m going to talk about each essay in turn, but I’ll address the book as a whole first, briefly.  This grew out of an academic workshop held at the University of Pisa, and most of the contributors work at universities in Italy and Germany, with a few UK universities thrown into the mix as well.  Consequently, the authors and editors pretty much assume that if you’re reading the book, you must speak all the major European languages, and they don’t translate their French, Italian and German quotes.   (And I always seemed to be reading it in a time and place where I couldn’t just use Google Translate to get a rough idea of what was being said; all I could do was guess based on cognates and my rusty-to-the-point-of-not-really-existing Latin and German skills.)  The constant reminders that I’m just an ignorant American were kind of painful.  (I do want to learn other languages!  I just suck at them.  And have too much else going on in my life to take proper lessons.)

Anyway, as scholars of the ancient world, the authors are hampered by the existing evidence, and can only address what information survives, so behavior that would actually be identified as trans by modern standards is conspicuously absent for the vast majority of the book, because there just isn’t much surviving data to support a discussion.  There’s a lot of talk about cross-dressing, and about men who were labelled as effeminate, and some discussion of women who were labelled as masculine, and what function those labels served in their society.  So it was really useful to my project, but might not be so useful to other research endeavors.

Okay, so now I want to talk a little about each essay, to give an idea what’s in the book.  (Also to help me process the information properly.  What can I say?  I think better via fingers on a keyboard.  That’s just the messed up way my brain is wired.)

Read the rest of this entry →

MLM No “Q” – Randomly Spam

Published September 25, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

So, I have nothing to talk about today because the book report I was going to write today has the forbidden letter right there in the freakin’ title (despite that it’s one of the least-used letters in the English language!) so I thought I’d talk about a weird trend I’ve been seeing in spam comments in the last, I dunno, six months or so?

Formerly, all spam generally fell into two categories:  spam that was pretending to be random comments and spam that was directly trying to sell me on their advertising services for the products they for some reason think I’m selling.  (Seriously, if they’re trying to target businesses, why are they sending their spambots to blogs?  Most blogs are not advertising products for sale.)  Well, that and the more direct lists of links, but the spam filter trashes those right away without bothering to send them to the spam folder, so they don’t really count.

Now, I have never really understood the point of the random comment ones.  They don’t contain links, and even the e-mails, fake user IDs, and URLs don’t always contain any indication of trying to move a product or get people to go to some site where they’ll pick up a virus, or whatever it is that the people behind spambots usually want.  But usually one of those three factors would have something obvious, like they’d put the name of a product as their user name, or the URL would be to a store page.  (There have always been make-me-laugh things about those random comment ones, of course.  Like the ones talking about “great paragraph” or “so much informative” on a post on my dolly blog that consists exclusively of a photograph and zero words.  Or the one today that was talking about “I passed this on to a colleague who is doing some research on this” on not a post (despite that it started with “nice post”) but a page which listed some of the dolls I would someday love to add to my collection.)

This new trend, though, it’s really weird.

Read the rest of this entry →

Book Report: A History of Blood and Glitter

Published September 21, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

Wow.  This is…I have no words for what this is.  No single words, that is.  I should be able to string together a lot of them to give some vague idea of what this is.

One thing I can say simply, though, is that I sure picked a doozy to finish up the challenge with!  This was my pick for the last remaining challenge, #14, “Read a book about war.”

So, let’s start with a simple idea of what this book is about.  It’s about a war in the fairy city of Ferrum, though the fairies aren’t fighting it:  the gnomes and the tightropers are.  Now, before I get to answering the question you’re undoubtedly asking yourself (i.e. “what the heck is a tightroper?”) let me first dispel a few misconceptions you’re undoubtedly harboring.  First off, that image you’ve got in your mind right now of Tinkerbell?  Wipe it out.  These fairies have no wings, naturally grow glitter in their skin (which flakes off like dandruff), and they’re immortal.  So immortal, in fact, that they can never really die, and are fully capable of feeling any bits of them that become detached from their bodies (including that oft-falling glitter!) and even controlling those bits, if they’re large enough.  So at the start of the book, the heroine Beckan takes her father with her everywhere, because he’s just an eye and an ear in a jar.  And as to those gnomes, if you’re thinking of saccharine little garden statues with pointy hats and long beards, forget them.  Forever.  These gnomes are more like a cross between Tolkienian dwarves and Gollum, only with pointier teeth and long mole-claws for digging.  And they love to eat fairy; nothing is more nourishing to a gnome than fairies, and even a small mouthful will support them for weeks.  As to the tightropers…we never get a very clear description (because our very unreliable narrator already knows what they are and what they look like) but they seem to be very spindly people with a spider-like ability to produce “ropes” out of their mouths.  (And yes, I know that’s not where the webbing comes out of a spider.)

As you may guess from that description, this book is set in a very unusual and rather disturbing world.

Read the rest of this entry →

MLM No “P” – This is getting old.

Published September 11, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

Really, this whole Missing Letter Monday thing is getting old and asinine.  What use does it serve?  Well, aside from giving me some slight semblance of actually being around.  Most of the time, it’s either old material dredged back out, or it’s just dumb rambling (like this) to fill a few words and make believe I’ve said something.

So on the one hand, I totally want to cancel this feature.

On the other hand, if I do that, who knows how long it’ll be before the next time I say anything; the blog might go quiet until October 4th.  (Or, more likely, until I finish the book I’m currently reading.  Or until the thing I ordered from Etsy last night arrives, ’cause I wanted to do a Doctor Who rant, ’cause some folks who don’t know the original show really tick me off sometimes.  And yes, that will make sense when I fill in the blanks.)

The thing is, of course, that I’ve been doing this for two years now.  I’d originally wanted to see others join in (and at first a few did) but it never became a thing across even a small fragment of the blogging world.  And that’s okay.  But it does bring to mind the question of if there’s actually any reason to continue going.

Aside from the fact that MLM has been the majority of what’s gone out from this blog of late.

*sigh*

I don’t have any answers and haven’t decided what I want to do.  But I know I’m frustrated with things as they stand right now.  And I don’t feel like I have the time or the creativity to use as much energy for these as I did in the beginning.


 

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