Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I've been on a romance novel reading kick. Over the last week I've read:

  • Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan, of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Fun, fast, funny book. They do talk about why they read these novels, the criticism that it's mindless dreck for women, and the issue of rape in Old Skool romance novels and gender and power. They also provide a Choose Your Own Adventure romance novel in the contemporary (what I think of as chick-lit), Regency England, pirate, and paranormal/urban fantasy settings. Hilarious! And a Mad Libs style game for each style too. This book had me giggling out loud, especially at the euphemisms for male and female genitalia. The Smart Bitches take a critical look at the serious and fun sides of romance novels (and the covers. Oh, my eyes.) I highly recommend it.

  • Bet Me and Faking It by Jennifer Crusie and Agnes and the Hitman by J Crusie and Bob Mayer. Each one took about 6 hours to read. I think I'm done with that author. I don't want to burn out on Crusie. I want to be able to come back and read her other books. I had previously read Wild Ride by Crusie and Mayer which made me think of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

  • Rude Awakening of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler. A young woman from the Regency era wakes up in the body of a 21st century woman in LA and has to figure things out. It's the sequel to Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict which I haven't read yet. Rude Awakenings came available at the library first.

  • currently working on Tommy's Tale by Alan Cumming, yes, the actor. I think this qualifies as a romance because Tommy is involved with Charlie who has a son. This gets party boy Tommy thinking about love and starting a family. If this isn't Romancelandia, a term I got from the Smart Bitches, then I don't know what is.

In other notes, I'm going to NYC later this week and have borrowed from the library and loaded onto the Nook:

  • Where's My Hero: a collection of short stories from romance authors that give a romance to a male character who was also very appealing but wasn't the hero. Will now have to read the books where these characters came from.

  • Manhunt by Janet Evanovich, set in Alaska

  • Vision in White, book one of the Bride Quartet by Nora Roberts. I have never read Nora Roberts before.

What got me going on this whole romance kick was discussions on NPR's Monkey See blog and podcasts about genres that don't get any respect in the larger culture. As should be abundantly clear by now, I am a big science fiction fan. Not a genre that gets a lot of respect. The same with romance novels.

My favorite romance novels, heck any kind of story, has a heroine who is good as what she does, has lots of skills beyond her job, is sassy/feisty/fiery, has a sense of humor, and rises to the challenge of whatever the plot of the story throws her into. She has a group of friends who also are competent, sassy, funny, etc and have their own plot lines, not just around to support the heroine. The hero is similar and they are both in a situation where they both have to deal with an unknown situation and both experience character growth. I really don't like stories where the heroine is bumbling at her job, needs the hero to save her and solve the case, is described as mildly unattractive (oh, noes, her hair isn't blown-dry!) and yet one or more men, including the hero finds her irresistable. Stephanie Plum, by Janet Evanovich, I'm looking at you.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The haters will hate genre TV, Game of Thrones edition

So tonight is the premiere of the Game of Thrones, HBO's adaptation of George RR Martin's epic low-fantasy book. And so the haters have started hating. Apparently the New York Times reviewer showed only contempt for it, calling it "boy fiction" which threw in sex and rape to get women to watch. Yes, my fantasy-and-sci-fi-loving head exploded, because men hate sex and women love rape. What. The. Hell?!?!? The reviewer hated it as well. I read the Slate review, but not the NYTimes review. And apparently both reviews were more about making fun of the fantasy genre, and less a review of what the show is about. Which I believe is what a review does, at its most basic. The interwebs exploded as well, with many responses, especially to the NYTimes' reviewer's assertion that women aren't also fans of fantasy genre, because apparently because she doesn't personally know any woman who is. The one response I like most is by Tightrope Walker, link here. Another good one is at, link here. Personally, I do want to see the show, have read all the books and do not have HBO. So will have to wait for the DVD so I can watch them all in one marathon.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dear US Congress: Do not throw women under the bus

So last week there was brinksmanship (and yes, men, most of them are still men) in the US Congress over the federal budget. And over federal funding for Title X which supports women's health care services which includes Planned Parenthood. PP provides many health services for women, including abortion. Which is the key issue. Pro-lifers and conservatives want to take away the funding to PP, which is about 0.1% of the US federal budget, because of abortion. Federal funds already cannot be used to provide abortions. Not that that stops the rhetoric and political grand standing. Sen. John Kyl, in his argument to taking away funding for women's services, said that 90% of what PP does is provide abortions. That got people talking and fact-checking and it turns out that abortions is only 3% of PP's services. 90%, 3%, they're close, right? Kyl then released a statement saying that he didn't intent that to be a factual statement. WTF? Of course Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were all over it. Here's a link to an NPR article about it. I love how Colbert just loses it and has to stifle his laughter during his monologue. Funding for PP for now has been preserved. But last week I was so very afraid that in the political horsetrading on the federal budget, that funding for women's health care would be sacrificed for political expediency, to avoid a gov't shutdown. I wrote to my Congressmen -- and they are all men -- saying all the above. Saying that for years, when I was in college, PP was my only source of health care, of gyn services, and yes birth control so I wouldn't get pregnant and thus avoid the need for an abortion. Fortunately, my Rep is John Lewis, civil rights leader since his work with MLK, and has consistently been a supporter of women's rights. Unfortunately, my 2 Sens are both conservative and the auto reply I got from them say they are anti-choice and will fight to strip funding for abortion providers. It got me so pissed I wrote back again to say: Federal funding is already banned from providing abortions! Stop with the anti-woman political grandstanding! The fight continues.

The 150th Anniversary of the US Civil War

I see the Conspirator is coming out this weekend, just in time to mark the 150th anniversary of the US Civil War. I had the chance to see a screening of it in February, my review is here. My thoughts on the war: 1. I live in Atlanta, Georgia, which is dotted about with plaques describing battles, hospitals and other notable things about the war. I pass by a lot of them all the time. 2. It's indelibly linked (for better or worse) with Gone with the Wind. 3. There are still lots of people around who think of themselves as the sons and daughters of the Confederacy and display the Confederate flag. They don't think of themselves as upholding slavery, but more the right to live as they wanted. They don't think of the fact that it was based on the brutal exploitation of others, who were black, who were slaves. 4. It's the home of the US civil rights movement, birth place of Martin Luther King, Jr. Setting the slaves free with the 13th Amendment was only the beginning. There is still a long we all have to go to have equal rights among the races. And we haven't even touched sexism among whites and blacks. As an Asian American, not being black or white, it's interesting and important to be aware of this and to think about and recognize as I negotiate my life here.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Wonder Women, X-Men, and other comix

I've really been enoying Project: Rooftop (in sidebar) and with the discussion of the new Wonder Woman tv show, been thinking about the costume. Plus I got back into drawing. I think this week I'm going to try drawing:

  • South Asian WW in a (shortened) sari and leggings. Really, how can anyone fight in full skirts?

  • Central Asian WW in a salwar kamez (knee length tunic, long pants) with golden lasso as the scarf

  • Korean WW in a shortened hanbok, with pants

  • Vietnamese WW in ao dai (like a Chinese cheongsam but with higher slits up the side and long pants)

  • Nigerian style top and skirt set, but shorter skirt. And maybe leggings. I'm thinking of Precious Ramotswe as Wonder Woman.
And also, the women of Firefly as Wonder Woman.

  • Zoe would be easiest, just change the colors of her usual outfit and add the golden lasso instead of mare's leg gun.

  • Inara would be pretty easy too. Again, take a usual outfit, change colors, add a WW details and you're done. Plus we also know she can use a sword and bow and arrow.

  • River would already has boots. I'd put her in big baggy top, skirt, leggings, boots.

  • Kaylee would be hardest. I'm going to have to think about her outfit.
So the details, as I see it, that are crucial to the WW outfit are:

  • gold headband with star

  • golden lasso

  • WW logo somewhere

  • a few more stars

  • cuffs

The colors would be red on top, blue skirt or black leggings/pants, stars in gold or silver, cuffs in gold or silver.

I want to try reading more comics, and will start with the New X-men. I'm looking for strong female characters of color. And mutant-ness is a pretty transparent analog to discrimination in the real world, so I like that. I've asked Dean Trippe (editor of P:Rooftop) for recommendations and he recommended the New X-men. Also asked Glenn Weldon on NPR and he recc'ed the Runaways, which I have already read. I'm looking forward to the movie, but I hope they don't whitewash Nico like they did Avatar the Last Airbender and may do with Akira.

ETA: watching Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths on Netflix watch instantly. I think I like the Superheroes more for the visual style rather than the plot. Enjoying the costumes, enjoying picturing Mark Harmon (who I watch as Gibbs on NCIS) doing the voice of Superman, enjoying Gina Torres as Superwoman, and the Flash as I guess comic relief.

Also, been reading Gunnerkrigg Court, a webcomic. Got volume 1 from the library then read the rest on line. I find the artwork is very important to me. If I don't enjoy the visual style, then I'm just going to have a hard time reading the comic. And I like a certain amount of stylization.