Two Important Things

1. THE STORY OF OWEN is nominated for the 2015 Morris Award!

the story of owen

I am beyond thrilled about this, and very excited. Thank you to everyone for all of your support.

2. At a writing retreat in Tennessee in October, I made some Oreo truffles that were sort of epic.

SONY DSC

They are quite appropriate for Christmas, and dead easy to make, so here is the recipe:

Step One – Buy two bags of oreos, one block of cream cheese (not low fat), some hard candy mints (or a couple of candy canes), a thing of baker’s melting chocolate.

Step Two – Crush oreos. Mix with cream cheese. Roll into balls 1″ in diameter. Put in fridge for 20 minutes.

Step Three – Crush mints.

Step Four – Melt chocolate. Drop oreo balls into chocolate, roll around for a bit, then pick up with a fork. Allow to drip for a second, then place on waxed paper. Sprinkle with crushed up mints.

Step Five – Put in fridge or freezer until hard.

Step Six – Become the hero of whatever small town it is you are from.

You can also decorate the tops with different colours of melty chocolate and mix the candy canes right in. It really depends on your aesthetic.

Cap salutes

Panic and Publishing

Recently, I got to go to Minneapolis and meet my editor, Andrew Karre. It was was a lot of fun, and I had this whole plan to do a blog post about it, but it was at the end of huge trip, and since I’ve got home I’ve had a massive head cold and a tooth extraction, so I only really remember two salient points:

1. It’s pronounced “Nine”-a’s.
and
2. The following conversation:

Andrew: [something about the editing schedule]
Me: I’m not really a panicker.
Andrew: I’ve noticed.

So yes. I went to Minneapolis and told my editor something he already knew (and a thing about Shakespeare that he suspected, but I can’t tell you what that was yet).

Since the conversation, I’ve been trying to remember the last time I panicked*, and I think I’ve finally come up with it. The second time I was in Jordan, we went to a Turkish Bath at the end of the field season. After the sauna and the hot pool, it was time for the exfoliation. I have exceptionally clear memories of this tiny Jordanian woman saying “off the top, please”, and then reaching for my bathing suit when I stared at her blankly. I didn’t react when she pulled it over my head, and then it dawned on me that I was in a room full of women and I was half naked (I mean, so was almost everyone else. But for some reason that was different). I felt it start, that bubble in your stomach you can’t contain, and then I thought to  myself “Self, this is going to take half an hour. You can lose your shit** for thirty minutes, or you can calm down and deal with it.”

I dealt with it***.

Since then, there have been other moments, other times I felt that bubble start up. Most recently was probably when the doctor called on July 29 to tell me that my surgery was on August 1. But the bubble never forms. Somehow I reason myself out of it.

It’s not really “somehow”. It’s almost always “someone”. Either I call my sister or text Emma or channel Sydney Bristow, and everything evens out. I have an excellent support system.

Sometimes I think not being a panicker is weird in publishing. I see people on twitter and worry that I SHOULD be panicking, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I think I got a lot of that worked out of me in my undergrad, when I had the Minerva McGonagall of Near Eastern Archaeology for a professor in almost half of my classes. Once you’ve gone through that learning curve, everything else seems remarkably straightforward.

So stress and worry, but not panic. I feel like I should offer advice, but I don’t really have any****. I think it comes down to the whole “do what works for you” adage that writers roll with. Some people panic, and it helps them. They tend to talk about it, so people who DON’T panic wonder if they’re doing something wrong. I can tell you that you’re not.

And I’m going to spend the next three days thinking that I’ve tempted the wrath of the whatever from high atop the thing, and there’s panic coming my way. But I’ll deal with it. Because apparently that’s what I do.


*Here, “panic” shall NOT be what I do when I have a flashback. Those are different and I deal with them differently. Maybe I should deal with them the same way, and then I’d have them less? This is probably another blog post.
**I didn’t really think this. I didn’t swear in 2005. The internet has ruined me.
***Turkish baths are the BEST, you guys. If you ever go to the Middle East, find a safe one and GO. Wear a two-piece. Your pores will thank you.
****Except to go to a Turkish bath, see above.

Let Me Tell You A Story

It starts with an unexpected internet outage and ends with me at Starbucks, with my shirt on backwards.

Okay, so we cancelled the cable because they mostly watch netflix and I have never so much as turned my television on. When I watch TV, I stream it, because CTV is awesome and Global had to become nearly as awesome in order to keep up. By the time the cable got cancelled, I had long since turned my enormous television sideways, and faced it to the wall, because it took up less space and I kept thinking that someday I’ll turn into a Real Author and, I don’t know, WRITE A FREAKING BOOK.

Anyway. So we cancel the cable. Which also means we change internet providers, because it was cheaper to just get internet with company B than it was with company A. Today, Roommate B changed the box, which is in my room. I had to clean up a bit (GOOD LORD, I HAVE A LOT OF BOOKS), but not too ambitiously, because: sciatica (which is probably why none of those books ended up on an actual shelf). Apparently, the internet can take some time to reset, so it just NEVER CAME BACK ON, and after four hours, I decided that I needed to email someone, so I thought I’d get up and go to Starbucks.

OH WAIT. When Roommate B was in my room to change the box, he also removed the television. Now there is a huge desk, and I put a shelf that I salvaged from work on it, and later I will fill that shelf with manuscripts and business-y stuff, because: REAL AUTHOR.

RIGHT. So I go to Starbucks. I put on dress pants and a new shirt, because everything else I own is in the washing machine. I think to myself, “Man, this new shirt is excellent! The shoulder seams are ACTUALLY ON MY SHOULDERS, and the neckline is perfect! This happens to me so rarely! I DIDN’T EVEN TRY THIS SHIRT ON BEFORE I BOUGHT IT. I win at life, basically.”

I sit in the car (which, for the record, is absolutely the worst part of my day, on account of how much it bloody hurts), and drive to Starbucks, which is attached to Chapters. Now, I had decided a long time ago that if/when I cleaned off my desk, I would celebrate by buying DESK ORGANIZING STUFF, because I am a total nerd. Also: REAL AUTHOR. So I went to Chapters and bought the stuff, and as I was standing in the cash line, I realized something very important.

My shirt was on backwards*.

So I paid for my stuff, and went to Starbucks, and turned my shirt around, and IT TOTALLY FITS BETTER WHEN IT IS ON BACKWARDS, WHAT THE HECK, and then I decided that I had made enough decisions for the day, so I let the barista pick my drink, and she gave me the very berry hibiscus refresher (the orange one tastes like SUNSHINE AND HAPPINESS, but I have some really good memories associated with hibiscus, so it’s okay, EVEN THOUGH IT HAS FLOATIES IN IT from when they shook up the berries).

Then I went on the internet.

I think when I get home, I will take the type-writer out of my car, and put it on my desk. As you do.

Bring it on, Fall. Bring it on gently.

 

 

 

*Possibly, that is the realest author I have ever been, right there.

In Which I Talk About Princesses

There are going to be quite a few new babies in my life in the next couple of months, and since at least one of them is probably going to be a girl, I’ve been spending more time than usual lately obsessing about princesses.

I’m more than a little disturbed by the current trend of trying to raise girls without princesses. Several of my siblings’ friends are taking this tack. For about ten seconds, I was kind of okay with it, and then I realized that it also excludes Princess Leia Organa, possibly the greatest princess, and example of what makes a good princess, ever written. Furthermore, it suggests that princesses have no inherent value, save as commodities in love and marriage, and that’s just the result of too-casual interpretation of their stories.

Okay, okay: it’s also the result of Disney marketing, which is kind of awful a lot of the time. But in the past few years, even Disney has become much more self-aware (not always in terms of merchandise. That remains depressing. And also not a little bit racist. But in terms of the story), and shutting down their contributions to the genre isn’t fair either.

Take Mulan, for example, who isn’t really a princess, but qualifies for marketing reasons. She is seriously awesome, and puts herself in significant risk for her family (not some dude. Well, a dude. But the dude is her father). She works her butt off, uses her brain, refuses to stop even when her death (by her comrades, not the bad guys) seems imminent, and then she saves the world with cross-dressing (like, they actually say the word). TWICE. That’s exactly the kind of princess who SHOULD be a role model.

At the other end of the spectrum we have Charlotte, one of two princesses in THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG. Charlotte is rich, entitled, more than a little thoughtless, and occasionally a bit dim, but she is BEST FRIEND ever to come out of the Disney canon. She does so much for Tiana, without ever thinking that Tiana owes her anything. This includes respecting Tiana’s love of work (though she does not understand it), giving Tiana what she’ll accept (which is not always a lot), and, most awesomely, KISSING THE DAMN FROG on the off chance that she can save her friend, and make her happy*.

The most interesting Disney Princess, to me, is Mia Thermopolis of THE PRINCESS DIARIES, because Mia is a modern princess, in every way the others can’t be. And, more importantly, what finally, finally, gets her to decide to BE a princess is not pink dresses or frilly tea parties or the ridiculous castle she is going to live in: it is her sense of responsibility. That sense of responsibility, and the idea that she can Do Good, prompts her to give up everything she knows, leave her friends and her mother, and travel to a country she’s never seen. Eventually, that same sense of responsibility leads her to consider an arranged marriage, not because she wants to, but because it is the best thing she can do for her people**. It’s kind of amazing.

To deny the Princess story is to deny the amazing political power that these girls and women hold. There is a book called A GOLD STAR FOR ZOG that my sister was very excited about (it was just published in North America, though it has been in Australia and New Zealand for a while). In the book, a dragon named Zog is in training to be the best dragon he can be, and is aided at various times in his studies by a local princess, to the point where she allows him to kidnap her. She becomes a healer, and patches up the other dragons when they get injured during their training. When a knight shows up to rescue her, she convinces him to follow his own heart, at which point he decides to also be a healer, and becomes her apprentice, and the pair of them fly off with Zog as their transport. At first glance, I should have loved this book.

But.

But what happens to her kingdom? If she was the heir, they’re screwed. Her parents would have invested time in her education and training to rule the kingdom. If she was supposed to marry for dynastic purposes, there could be civil war, and possibly even war with another country. Being a doctor is all well and noble, but I can’t help thinking that her kingdom would have been about a million times better off had she done her duty, become Queen, and founded a medical school.

At one point, the princess even says that she doesn’t want to be a princess, because princesses are useless. And that? That means she never knew how to be a princess in the first place. And by telling children that story, we are ruining the potential for them to realize how, sometimes, what you are is more important than what you want, but that it can be a good and rewarding thing anyway.

“With great power comes great responsibility” is not just something to be said to Spiderman. It applies to princesses too, and to the girls who want to be like them. It’s what made BRAVE so fantastic. As we speak, it is being fantastically chronicled in the Teen section of your local bookstore.

There needs to be an understanding passed to girls (and boys), that whether they are like Charlotte, Mulan or Mia, there is nothing wrong with princesses. Fairy-tales have always existed to provide morals, and if we’ve let those morals become outdated, we’ve failed our children and we have no one to blame but ourselves. The only problems with girls liking princesses are the problems we give them. If they understand – really understand – what comes with the tiara, we’ll all be better people for it.

Recommendations***

THE PRINCESS ACADEMY and PALACE OF STONE, by Shannon Hale. (6+)
HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE, by Diana Wynne Jones (10+)
GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS and CROWN OF EMBERS, by Rae Carson (14+)
THE PRINCESS DIARIES, by Meg Cabot (book and movie, 12+)
STAR WARS (it is NEVER too early for Princess Leia. Also, include the prequels, especially THE PHANTOM MENACE because the Handmaidens are amazing)

 

 

 

*To be clear, Tiana is also an amazing princess based on her work ethic and self-awareness alone, but she falls into the Mulan category, and I was trying to spread around the credit for AWESOME as much as possible.
**It’s a  bit funny, though. Because, really, the only thing better than Captain Kirk by way of Thor and Emma Swan is Captain Kirk by way of Gimli. I will never understand how anyone could go for Chris Pine when Callum Blue was an option, but clearly I am much too shallow for this.
***It goes without saying that I can talk about this forever, right? I mean, I’ll keep it short, but if you are related to me (by which I mean “have attended a family wedding”) and want me to read things to your kids, I’m probably down with it.

Retail Christmas

True Story: I’ve had excellent blogs planned out of the last two weeks, written in advance on scraps of paper…and then put through the washing machine. It’s retail Christmas, and I don’t have time to check my pockets, apparently.

I remember the first time I had to work on Christmas Eve. It was 1998, I worked at the Egmondville Country Market, we closed at 6PM, and EVERY PERSON IN THE TOWNSHIP seemed to come in to buy something. This was unusual because, with the exception of Summer Ice Cream Sundays*, the store was usually very quiet. By the time the owner came in and sent me home for dinner (30 minutes early), I was kind of in awe. Until that day, I don’t think I’d ever left the house on Christmas Eve, at least before dinner, and CERTAINLY not to go shopping.

Ah, the innocence of youth.

Since that time, I’ve worked a lot of Christmas Eves. Heck, since once of my jobs was at a nursing home, I’ve worked a lot of Christmas DAYS. But there’s just something about retail Christmas that really gets me excited. Or sad. But mostly excited.

I am what might be called the opposite of a cynical person. When I worked at the Toy Cabal, and one of the customer service people told me that I would come to hate Christmas, I looked her right in the eye and I said “That will never happen.” They laughed at me, but I stuck to my guns. I weathered swear words** and physical threats***, and I focused on the little kids who had drawn Christmas lists (Grandparent: Do you have any idea what this is? Me: *squints* I think that’s a picture of Iron Man. Right this way!), the grown-ups who are SO HAPPY when you find what they’re looking for, and the kids who are old enough to think they’re over it, but really, really aren’t.

My favourite Christmases, though, are the ones I’ve spent at the Book Cabal. There are so many people and so many things, and so much happening, and every shift is a rush. I’ve had days where a customer called in to put a book on hold, told me they’d be right over to pick it up, and then beat me to the front of the store, because I’ve been stopped by so many other people. I’ve told the same joke fifteen times in a row, gotten uproarious laughs each time, and sent people out the door smiling. I’ve danced with little kids, conspired with grown-ups, wrapped a million oddly shaped boxes, and I’ve loved every minute of it.

There’s a dark side to retail Christmas, of course. There are always going to be people who are stressed and take it out on the unfortunate, minimum wage kid who happens to be cramming in one shift between final exams. And it does make me angry. But I’ve seen so much more GOOD of people than I have of bad, and it really makes me feel better about the whole thing.

Some Tips (kind of book store relevant, but also a good general guideline):

1. Call ahead. I don’t care what it says on the computer. Call me. I love to put things on hold. I do not love being yelled at for stock problems I can’t solve.
2. Don’t ask “Well what am I supposed to do now?” when you haven’t called and we don’t have what you’re looking for. There is nothing I, nor my manager, can do about that.
3. Plan for time. Look, we’re doing the best we can. We move the cash line as quickly as possible, and we have people whose whole job is to talk to people in the line in case they’ve forgotten anything.
3a. Especially plan for time if you want us to wrap things. I encourage people to go get coffee while they’re waiting, but give us an extra 30 minutes to wrap if it’s busy and you want a good job done.
4. Don’t bring your kids unless you absolutely have to. I speak here of the “too big to carry, too young to amuse themselves reading Wimpy Kid” segment. We have to pull a lot of our playing stations off the floor to make room for product, so there might not be a place for your kid to play when you get them here.
5. Let the computer figure out the best sale price. Seriously. There are a lot of promotions, but the computer will give you the best one.

And most importantly…
6. BE NICE TO THE SALES PEOPLE. They’re making minimum wage. They’re going to have to work up to close on Christmas Eve and then be right back in on Boxing Day morning. They’re probably not getting a bonus or turkey money from the company for this year. But if you smile at them and act nicely, they will bend over backwards to make sure you leave with exactly what you came for (and maybe something you hadn’t thought of, because we are really good at our jobs).

I’ve been watching the store get busier and busier, and it’s making me happy. Customers have already started to wish me “Merry Christmas!”, and the carols and songs are creeping into our playlist. Some of my co-workers roll their eyes and sigh, but I love it. Right now, I’m working from 5AM until 9:30PM most days (sometimes with a couple hour break in between). It’s been 65-70 hour weeks. It’s busy and it’s crazy and I have nowhere to put half the things in the stockroom, but I am determined: it’s Christmas, and there’s always magic at Christmas, if you’re willing to take a breath and look.

 

 

 

 

*Sunday evenings in July when ENTIRE BASEBALL TEAMS would come and buy ice cream, and I’d be working by myself and just DIE OF BUSY.
**For a 30 cent savings on hot wheels.
***For a stuffed robotic hamster that we weren’t allowed to sell until December 21.

Same Bat-Time, Same Bat-Channel

I’ve decided to start blogging on Mondays. Fridays were fun, but with my new work schedules, I seem to have a lot of 12 hours days on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (and sometimes Saturday), and that’s really not conducive to blogging. So Mondays it is*!

Anyway, September is well upon us, and that means it’s almost time for regular season television to come back**. Don’t get me wrong, summer TV has really improved in the last few years, but I still get a thrill when all my favourite shows premiere in the last week of September/first week of October.

(I also think, by the way, that a large part of the reason I’ve had trouble coming up with ideas for blog posts is because there’s no new TV to watch. I don’t understand the people who say they turn their brains off when they watch TV. I turn mine up to hyper-drive. I don’t really watch TV to relax. I watch it to learn, to puzzle, to follow the story as closely as I can. That seems to lead to blogging, particularly when a show I like does something that gives me feeeeeelings.)

I haven’t always been a TV watcher. Until university, I could count the number of TV shows I watched on a regular basis on one hand (Road to Avonlea, Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman, Alias, Star Trek Voyager and CSI), but when I went away to school, I suddenly had all this free time in the evenings*** and, more importantly, cable. Thus, I discovered TV. And I loved it.

(We’ve talked about this before, but I am nearly always a lover of things. If I don’t LOVE it, chances are pretty good I won’t WATCH it. I’m also notoriously forgiving and defensive of my shows. That said, if they push me far enough, I do leave them. I stopped watching Supernatural in the middle of an episode, abandoned Game of Thrones because it bothered me, and Doctor Who is on my last nerve.)

My TV watching habits have changed profoundly from my uni days. For starters, I rarely watch TV on TV at all. I don’t usually have one, and thanks to my work schedule, I’m usually in bed by 8PM. Thankfully between DVDs and livestreaming, I can watch whenever I want, as long as I don’t mind CTV showing me the same two commercials every ten minutes****. The other handy thing about this is that it means I get to watch TV alone. There are a few exceptions, but generally speaking I prefer solitary viewing, because it means I can laugh and/or cry as hard as I want, and not have family members tell me that I’m sick, silly or lack basic comprehension skills inherent in other people*****.

Obviously, all bets are off when I watch things with Emma******. 😉

I still write down what day everything airs, even though my chances of actually watching on the day are slim. For posterity, here is my To Watch List for the fall/winter season of TV, 2012-13.

Sunday used to be the Dead Night of TV, but all of a sudden it got really good! This year, I have ONCE UPON A TIME, which I love because it is either silly or amazing, REVENGE, which I love because Emily Van Camp is awesome and Nolan is better, and HOMELAND, in which Damian Lewis and Claire Danes will do their best to make sure I never sleep again.

Monday night is CASTLE time. I started watching this show as my cotton candy recovery from the emotional trauma of Battlestar Galactica rebound, and it turned out to be SO MUCH FUN. And also: pretty. It’s also WAREHOUSE 13, which is already half over, but I’m still counting it. I love that show so much.

Wednesday is CRIMINAL MINDS. We’ve had our differences, but I keep coming back to this CBS procedural, because it’s just SO. DARN. AWESOME. It’s pretty much a masterclass in writing and character development (most of the time), and the continuity (and the credit they give to the audience) just owns my soul.

Thursday is THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, which was totally supposed to be one of those shows I watched twice and gave up on, and yet somehow became this BEAUTIFUL THING. I don’t even know. Also on Thursday is FLASHPOINT, my little Canadian show that could. It’s in its last season and if the premiere is anything to go by, it’s not planning to pull any punches.

Friday is FRINGE and HAVEN or, as I like to think of it, Awesome Blonde Women Take Names And Kick Ass. Because, seriously. Between them, there’s not a lot Olivia Dunham and Audrey Parker can’t do. It’s FRINGE’s last season, which makes me sad, but at least they’ve planned it, so it should end well.

Saturday is DOCTOR WHO, which I may or may not give up on. And then at some point LEVERAGE comes back, along with MY LITTLE PONY, just to make the weekends more interesting.

I don’t really have anything NEW in my line-up this year, which is unusual for me. I haven’t found anything particularly inspiring. Also, I do love reading and writing (and, you know, SLEEPING), so I don’t want to fall in love with too many things. That said, if there’s a new show you think I should watch, I’d love to hear about it in comments.

 

 

 

*I may continue New Book Tuesdays and Waiting on Wednesdays, just to really weight the beginning of the week. We’ll see how ambitious/tired I get. Also, in case it wasn’t apparent, the title of this blog post is because I’m talking about TV. I am, in fact, no longer blogging at the same time, bat or otherwise.
** I really hope you weren’t expecting something more profound.
***You know, except for classes. And homework.
****It’s worth it. Even during the Olympics when I saw that stupid McDonald’s commercial 250 times a day.
*****Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents. But it’s largely thanks to them that I prefer to do things alone. Being told your emotional reactions are wrong will do that to a girl.
******One of the reasons I like Mark Watches (and Mark Reads) so much is that he has such BIG reactions. And often his reactions are the same as mine, which is always nice.

Stories Without Reason

Don’t get me wrong. You should always have a reason to tell a story. It certainly helps while writing them, and it makes reading them a lot easier. That’s not exactly what I meant. Maybe it’s “stories without explanation”.

There’s this film. You may have heard of it. It’s called “The Expendables”. It did so well they made a sequel. The basic premise is this: every action star, ever. And then they fight.

Except it’s not every action star ever. There are a few notable absences. I bet you can guess who they are.

“The Expendables” bills a whopping nine actors above the name of the movie on the poster. There are two female characters in the whole movie. One of them is Charisma Carpenter who, it could be argued, is kind of an action star? I mean, she had to do stunts on “Buffy” and “Angel”. But it’s a stretch. The other is Giselle Itié, who is not an action star at all.

“The Expendables 2” busts out ELEVEN actors billed above the title. None of them are female. Nan Yu is vaguely action-y, which is nice, but still.

Here’s my complaint. It’s not that I’m annoyed by the Token Girl (I am). It’s not that I think it’s ridiculous that not even JOSS FREAKING WHEDON could manage to have two female characters speak to each other in “The Avengers” (I do). It’s not even that I wish we’d get more female centric action movies (because, oh lordy, I WISH THAT)*.

It’s the explanation.

Imagine, if you will, a movie. It stars Helen Mirren, Judy Dench, Angelina Jolie, Mila Jovovich, Kate Beckinsale, Sarah Michelle Geller, Zoe Saldana, Maggie Q, Michelle Wu, Michelle Rodriguez and, because I have a weakness for her (and also it would BLOW MY MIND), Maggie Smith. Imagine it’s the exact same plot as “The Expendables 2”. I’ll even let you have Liam Hemsworth as the other gendered ingenue.

Why, I wonder, are these women kick-ass spies and fighters?

We don’t have to wonder that about guys. We just assume they are. We assume there is no one better for the job.

It’s not just movies. I tried watching Aaron Sorkin’s new show “The Newsroom”, and in addition to being bored out of my mind, I was very put off by the female characters. When that happens, I like to imagine flipping everyone’s genders without changing anyone’s character traits. I imagined Sally Field in the lead role, maybe with Sissy Spacek (or Carrie Fisher!) playing Sam Waterson’s part. That show? That show I probably would have watched.

It’s not realistic. I know this. I love “Flashpoint” to death, but one of its biggest weaknesses is the lack of female roles (um, female combat roles. There are plenty of victims). But I don’t exactly watch television for the realism. And when I tell you that I would watch (and adore) and entire show populated by Jules Callaghan, it is the emphatic truth. But, you could argue, it’s just TV.

I went to a conference about Forensics and Forensic Archaeology once. We talked about Iraq and the London Bombings. We talked about using x-rays to track abuse in South Africa. We talked about Rwanda and Ipswich (which at the time was hosting a serial killer…several of the speakers had to cancel at the last minute, actually), and then this tiny woman from the London Police stood up, and talked to us about CSI.

They laughed at her, at first, when she brought it up. I laughed too. Because being a forensic scientist in the age of CSI is…well, it’s annoying. But then this tiny person looked out at the room of students and foreign scholars and police officers and military types, and she said:

“I know that isn’t how it is. I know that. But that’s how it should be. What they show on that TV show, how fast they get results and how quickly the databases spring to action. The technology. That is what we should be trying to do.”

Nobody breathed, pretty much for the rest of her presentation.

Television and movies are important, because that’s how people choose to spend their time. I want my nephew to see amazing female characters doing amazing things on television so that he expects them in real life. For crying out loud, I want to see them. I want more than one or two women per show. I want Katniss Everdeen to the the rule, not the exception. I want Firefly every damn time**. It’s not asking too much. I want “Brave” to be “another great movie about a girl and her mother” and not one of the ONLY ONES in recent memory. I want Maggie Smith with a very large gun, leading the bad guys into a trap and then SHOOTING THE CRAP out of them.

And I want it to just happen. With no explanation.

 

Some Links:
Life Less Ordinary: In which CJ Cregg runs for President.
Another Reason Buffy is Awesome: In which it is proven, WITH SCIENCE, that watching Buffy (and other shows with great female characters) makes you a better person.

 

 

*Yup, still bitter about the whole “Ant Man” situation. And if Natasha doesn’t get a substantial part in “The Winter Soldier”, I’m going to be kind of annoyed.
**Firefly wasn’t perfect, but what makes it “the best” is that there were four female characters, and all of them were powerful in very different ways. And all of them were still very female.

And then I took a hiatus…

Originally I had only planned to take the Olympics off from blogging, mostly to spare you all from two weeks of me doing this:

Well, except I didn’t make out with Charles Hamelin.

Anyway, then I decided to take the rest of the month off because I wasn’t writing anything, I was working, sleeping or rewatching old TV all the time, and then for the past week I’ve been packing to move into my new place. Today.

But! Next week we’ll be back to blogging! About things! And also stuff! And occasionally sundries!

I just have to, you know, come up with topics. What did YOU do on your summer vacation (or lack thereof)?

Looking for Finding’s Sake

So Higgs happened. Kind of. In any case, progress was made. I’m still catching up via MinutePhysics, but I was thinking about science and things scientists find, and a book about Pluto I’ve been thinking about reading.

Theoretically, I’m a scientist. I don’t usually claim it, because Archaeology is considered, at best, a soft science in North American. But my degree is from the UK, where Archaeology is an Earth Science. In any case, I know very well what it is like to look for something you can’t see and then then find something else entirely. To be honest, it’s kind of fun (though it does lead to conversations like “Michael! Do you have any more tinfoil? I’ve found another skull!”), and it’s certainly part of what drew me to archaeology in the first place.

Sometimes, though, it backfires. Sometimes you dig up a grave and it’s empty. Sometimes there’s no wall underneath that perfect line of stones. Sometimes it backfires STUPENDOUSLY (see also: Troy, Mycaenae, Crete. Thanks for that, guys!). Sometimes you find a Higgs-like particle and it’s okay. You publish, you maybe tweak your specialty or call in someone who can deal with the information, and you move on.

But sometimes you fulfill a lifelong goal. You get your dream job. You make a huge, beautiful discovery. And then small children send you letters asking you why you killed Pluto.

When Mike Brown discovered Eris in 2005, it was big news. I remember thinking about it. “My Very Educated Mother Just Showed Us Nine Planets” wasn’t going to work anymore*! There was a WHOLE OTHER PLANET! It was really, really cool.

And then, of course, everything was redefined and not only was Eris ruled to be Not A Planet, Pluto lost its status too. I like to imagine at that point every single astronomer who ever clung to epicycles sitting on a cloud somewhere KILLING THEMSELVES LAUGHING, while Gallelaio was all “Hey, at least you don’t have to worry about the FREAKING SPANISH INQUISITION!”**

My point is that change is the nature of science. Well, maybe not science, but our interpretation of it. We thought the site I work on in Jordan was going to be a village. Boy, were we wrong! The key is to be open to adaptation. Don’t be Heinrich Schliemann. He wanted Priam’s Troy so badly that he built it, all but destroying what was there in the process***.

Maybe it’s Higgs. Maybe it’s Higgs-like. Maybe Pluto is a planet. Maybe the definition of planet is too small to incorporate the universe. Maybe it’s the most we can understand. The important thing is that it’s there. And we found it. We are collecting the pieces of the universe, and they are beautiful and they are confusing, but they fit together.

And now we get to figure out what’s next.

 

 

*Incidentally, that was FINE with me, because my mother had taught me the planets with “Man Very Early Made Jars Stand Up Nearly Perpendicularly” which, despite it’s slightly sexist take on ceramic technology and the fact that it actually took us a while to get to jars,  you can at least add “, Even” to the end of the sentence and it still works.
**Or…maybe you do! I’ve heard no one ever except it. It just shows up.
***Not to mention stealing a crap tonne of artefacts from Turkey!

Questions, Questions That Need Answering

It’s still Monday, so I thought I would answer some questions (I really am going to answer them all, but some of them will have answers that turn out to be, uh, kind of long. So don’t worry too much if you don’t see your answer! It’s coming!).

Faith asked “What is the airspeed of an unladen swallow?”

It turns out that I don’t HAVE to answer that, because I’ve already found a website that did it for me. You can read all about it here.

Kim asked “Do you know the muffin man?”

No, sadly, I do not. But I have had this scene in my head ever since you asked the question:

So, thanks for that. 🙂

Kristilyn asked “If you could hook up with any character in a book, who would it be?”

Ummm…I am really bad at this game. My entire worldview is shaped by the Anne Shirley/Gilbert Blythe relationship, but in order to marry one of them, I’d have to BE the other, and clearly that’s not going to work. Same problem with Faramir and Éowyn. And Éomer and Lothiriel. And Alana and George. And Tom and B’Lanna.

Can I count Jean-Luc Picard? He’s been in novel tie-ins. Or Helen Magnus? She was pretty awesome. But in both cases, I’d much rather talk than anything else.

Basically I just find it difficult to form romantic attachments to fictional people.