Friday, December 30, 2005

What I'm Doing For New Year's:

Sleeping. Lots and lots of sleeping.

Well, and some writing. But that's a given.

The Old "Separate But Equal!" Argument

Cheryl Lindsey Seelhoff over at Alas, A Blog has proposed creating women's-only threads there. Well, Radical Feminist Women's Threads, anyway.

Because that's what feminism is all about: creating a women's-only treehouse so we can sit up there and throw eggs at the men's-only treehouse.

Yea. That'll be real productive.

Leaving the whole "What's a radical feminist?" thing alone for now, I've gotta say, I was pretty shocked to hear this.

There are just so many anti-feminist posters here. There are way too many men here, and too many of them seem to be here for the express purpose of making feminist discussion unlikely to impossible.

"There are way too many men here" WTF??

Wow, we're in trouble.

Now, I support women's only spaces. When you're counseling women who've been abused by men, the last people on earth they'll want to deal with for awhile will be men. If they have the right counselors, that hopefully won't last more than a year or so.

Because I hate to break it to everybody: the world is composed of men and women - and even some people who are in-between - and we have to deal with all of them out here on the bus, on train platforms, at bars, in restaurants, on the street, on the plane, at work (oh yea), and at home.

Even the trolls and the assholes.

And if you can't deal with them in cyberspace, how the hell are you going to deal with them in real life?

If you're having such a terrible time with trolls and anti-feminist posters, somebody's not moderating properly. Take some advice from Teresa, and take back control of your boards.

Sure, I have a smaller audience than Alas, but I don't have trouble with trolls. Outright assholes just get deleted. I've only had to delete an asshole's post three times before he headed out for greener pastures where he could find some "radical feminists" to argue with. There are things I'm not going to engage with, stuff like "I think homosexuality is a birth defect" and "Come to my website! Feminists give the best head!"

Why would I put up with that crap? One asshole breeds more assholes.

I'll delete to my heart's content: it's my blog.

But one thing I will NEVER do is ban "all men" from my blog. That's as bad as what men do with "men's only" clubs and exclusive "boys only" military schools and "boys only" at the front ideas. Reverse sexism, silencing men's voices, is just as bad as silencing women.

I try to be a good moderator. If two people start a flaming argument, I tell them to cool down and get back on topic. I'll do that twice if it happens (yes, it's happened a couple of times), and if they don't do it, I'll tell them to go cool off and come back when they want to have an intelligent conversation. If the flaming continues (and it hasn't, yet, I have very good readers), then I start deleting (I really outta do TNH's disemvowling thing, but I haven't reached a point where that's neccessary).

Because here's a wake-up call to everybody in the blogworld:

People are going to disagree with what you say. They're even going to hate you for it. I'm sure I have "regular" readers who come over here just because they hate me so much (a lot of people on the Baen boards certainly did).

There it all was in familiar detail, the same dynamics I've seen play out over the years on so many boards where feminists have attempted to gather: the trolling, the misogyny, the endless diversion,the ongoing defenses of indefensible anti-feminist, anti-woman behaviors, and always a tiny number of dogged and persevering radical feminist militants who are relentlessly baited and goaded, to the point they respond decisively, vehemently, passionately, even angrily and (gasp) stridently, at which point all hell breaks loose, they end up accused of being "bullying" or "silencing" or "overbearing" or "domineering" or "rude" and "uncivil," to the point that, as with Ginmar, they end up leaving the boards entirely (or being banned).

Yea, it's called life. Sucks, doesn't it? The same thing will happen if you're in a group of frat boys or radical conservatives. In fact, it'll likely happen if you're in any of the southern states or 98% of the midwest. If you're the lone "feminist" (let alone "radical feminist" - whatever the hell that is, what, the ones who want a world without men? What's that mean, "radical." I don't think free healthcare, equal pay for women, better laws against rape and etc. is all that "radical") you're going to get harrassed about it. What better place to cut your teeth than online? There's less threat of physical violence, there's usually fewer people trying to attack you at once, and you have time to sort our your reply before you make a fool out of yourself.

Of course, if you choose to hang around a place where everybody thinks, acts, talks, and behaves just like you, you won't have any experience with debate, with a free range of ideas. You won't really be forced to think. You can all sit around and smoke cigars (or knit. Something tells me some of these "radical feminists" she's talking about are likely big on the knitting) and thump each other on the back for being so good-natured about being repressed by "the system." Which, of course, they won't feel they have to engage in because they have their own club.

After all, who needs to engage with the other half of the population?

What's the point of talking to men? All those men so set in their ways.... what's the point of engaging them with your ideas, getting their arguments, creating one of your own? I mean, if they can out-argue you, maybe you'll realize you need to go back to the drawing board and refine the way you speak about things, and what a lot trouble that would be!

Which means, of course, that the radical feminist voice and presence is ultimately silenced, erased.

Well, they weren't so radical then, were they? If you can't argue or ignore flamers, you must not have much of an argument.

The world is not full of sugar and spice. And worse than that - you make feminism a "woman's space" and you cut out half the people who have help move feminism forward. Cut them out and they won't see it as anything that effects them anyway. Why should they care? They aren't even allowed to talk about it. You think they're going to take it up in a locker room?

Ha.

Let's just shut down all the feminist blogs and boards to "women's only" spaces, only let women talk about "women's issues" like, say, equal rights (fooled me. This only effects women?).

Seperate spheres doesn't solve anything. It just drives us all further apart. It drives yet another wedge between the sexes, both of whom - guess what? - are human.

I hope the feminists at Alas aren't forgetting that. If they are, they're no better than the old boys.

The solution is proper board moderation, not cutting out half your audience.

I Didn't Realize Women Still Did This

So, what's up with douching?

I always thought it was a kind of vagina-hate type of thing. Like, "My parts are sooo gross no one will like them unless they smell baby-fresh." (which might say something right there. Yuck). I grew up hearing it was basically something that ruined the natural cleansing mechanism of your vagina, and so caused infections and etc.

Looks like Moms was right:

But health professionals generally advise against douching because it's thought to raise the risk of certain health problems, including bacterial infections and pregnancy complications like preterm birth. Though it's not clear that douching is the cause of these problems, experts believe that the practice may disturb the normal balance of beneficial bacteria in the vagina.

I just never understood the practice. I like my vagina. I think it's neat. I quite like the way it is. I don't see guys going around looking for something to stop themselves from ejaculating cause it's "gross" or to change the consistency of their ejaculate to a more "acceptable" texture. Sure, they may eat a little more pineapple on weekends, but c'mon, if your partner thinks your parts are gross, you need a new partner.

(via Twisty)

Secrets

I've been working out for awhile now, and dropped some of my stressed-in-South-Africa weight, which is nice. But beyond getting back to a comfortable size, a lot of people work out to get specific body results.

My secret I-want-it-to-look-better spot isn't my abs or my breasts (the myth still persists that if you do enough chest exercises, somehow your breasts will look bigger. They may hold out on sagging a little longer than usual, but that's about it. I've also never been a big breast person. I'm quite happy to have breasts that don't get in the way and are easily contained for jogging). My look-better spot is my collar bones, shoulders, and that thumb-sized imprint at the base of the throat. I always thoughht that women who had these areas clearly defined were terribly sexy.

This morning I put on a new thin black shirt with one of those wide collars, and was startled to see that I could see a bit of defined collarbone and some nice trianglar trapezius muscles there along my upper shoulders and the back of my neck. Not bad.

I've been thinking a lot about how I was killing myself last year living on 1700 calories a day and doing morning weights and intense workouts twice a week and pilates on Saturdays and wondering why I felt like I was going to die and my waist size stayed the same. But every "Women's Fitness" type magazine you pick up will give you meal plans for 1400-1700 calories a day. The eye-opener was when I read Hers, a women's body-building magazine, and they said 2-2500 calories a day was totally OK if you were working out and wanted to build muscle.

And whoa boy, what a difference it's made. I bumped up into that range and I feel fucking great. Now, granted, I'm pretty big. I'm the height and weight of the average guy, and telling a *guy* to live on 1700 calories might tick him off(there's a great study about a "starvation" experiment where twenty men or so were put on 1700 calories a day for sustained period. They became irritable, lethargic, and after a time started freaking out in the you're-kind-of-crazy way). For people who are smaller than me, this might work. For me, it doesn't.

I think it's pretty criminal to go around saying women should starve themselves, and I think it's what keeps us binging and purging. First we're on a diet where we can only eat eggs and salad, then we give up and live on donuts and pasta for three months, then eggs and salad, and yo-yo all over the place until we break our metabolism.

We've got to find sustainable programs. If I was doing something, some routine, that I didn't believe I could sustain, I'd be in trouble. Instead of 5 days a week at the gym, I decided on two, and five mornings a week of weights. That was doable. I also cut out exercises at the gym that I hated and/or dreaded doing. Sometimes I would skip the gym because I couldn't handle the idea of spending half an hour on the elliptical machine. I switched to half an hour on the bike and I feel much better about it. Same thing with some of the machines. I had a terrible time with one of the leg extensions, and cut it out after a couple of weeks. I hated it.

And I think that's how it has to go. You can't tell somebody "Here's the only way to do it." You've got to start with a program, sure, but then add and subtract according not only to the results you want, but how much you enjoy it.

And that'll keep you working out long after the New Year's resolution gym rush has died down.

Cool

I just got a 4.5% raise.

There's no other place I could work that would pay me this much to do what I do. I'm stunned.

heh

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Olympics: On 800 Calories a Day

The 25-year-old Mariash has been a runner for nearly as long as she can remember, and began competing in triathlons in 1998. Like many female athletes, she strictly limited her food -- dipping as low as 800 calories a day -- to improve her performance by losing weight.

But her results were just the opposite.

"I used to wake up really tired," she said. "I used to take a lot of time off training because I was so exhausted."


No shit. Holy crap! 800 calories???

"In high school track, we all starved. That's not how you get to the Olympics," she said. "Now I can train harder, farther. Things I was afraid of, like a four-hour bike ride, are easy now."

Read the rest

In Which the Protagonist Returns

Got back home to Chicago after reasonable airport delays and promptly fell into bed. I caught my mom's cold, and it's a crappy one. Had a great time spending Christmas at the Oregon Coast, at the Goonie beach.



It was incredibly relaxing, which is just want I needed. I was pretty burned out on everything. Got to catch up with a couple friends and did a lot of shopping. All my clothes are too big, and a belt will only get you so far.

Looks like I won't quite reach my book deadline, but I blame that on the fact that my computer crashed and I'm now using a backup laptop whose internet connection doesn't work for some reason, and swapping files back and forth without gmail is a bitch. Wrote out the final outline for the last part of the book so I have a map that ties up all the loose ends. Should bang out a lot this weekend.

Anyway, back to Chicago, piles of half-melted snow, but at least it's 30 degrees out instead of 10. Sorely in need of sleep and grocery shopping tonight.

Because of the dead computer, things may be quiet here until I can get it fixed or get a new one.

So it goes.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Computer Death

My laptop has died.

That's the third computer I've killed in the last 5 years.

I really need to start buying those stupid fucking warranties. I'm getting ultra screwed.

Let Me Tell You About Bravery... Ah, Those Sweet Gay Cowboys

The media seem to be running with a recurring theme around this movie: (Brokeback Mountain) the “bravery” of the actors playing the roles, the “courage” it took them to do it, and the “speculation” about whether America is ready for a “gay cowboy movie.” Certainly not a position a liberal would take, so it befuddles me how the media is labeled “liberal.” Because the media has all but compared these two to war heroes for their portrayal of two closeted cowboys in a story of unrequited love and personal deception...

Now, there can be no doubt it took awhile for this movie to be made. And there can be no doubt there was a lot of fear surrounding it. And that’s what the media should be talking about. Instead of playing into the homophobia about how courageous it is to play gay, the media should be examining why it’s OK to play a rapist, a demon, a vampire from hell, a serial killer who eats his victims with fava beans and nice chianti, or any of the hundreds of sick, warped, twisted characters Hollywood puts out and we gobble up. Why do studios green-light films all the time that have gruesome plots or despicable characters, and why did this film languish for years? ...

And to all you straight actors who want pats on the back for playing gay: Until you’ve lived gay, until you’ve been denied a job because of it, or had to hide in a Hollywood closet; until you’ve had your jaw smashed or watched a generation of your friends die of a disease while government did nothing (like in the Reagan era), don’t speak to me of courage.

It takes courage to be gay and out, not to play it.


Read the rest

I was flipping through the channels last week and found a Fox "talking heads" segment where they gave airtime to some nutjob who thought Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal gettin' it on on the range was promoting "the gay agenda." When asked what this gay agenda was, he responded that it promoted anal sex and the destruction of the family.

When asked if he'd actually seen the movie...

Well, no, of course he hadn't.

But come now my fellow straight women and gay boy buddies and romantic straight boys who sigh over love stories: all politics aside, how the hell can you pass up a movie where Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger are gettin' buck nekid in the tall grass?

I intend to pay money for that.

It's a romance movie, people. With hot guys. Get over it.

And I Would Just Like to Say

I'm really happy Christmas is coming up and I've got a week off work (sort of. I'm working remotely for an hour every weekday morning so I can run our daily reports. Partly because I'm too lazy to teach someone else to do it and partly because I don't have the PTO hours to take a "real" vacation. Maybe next year).

I'm very happy we're doing our family beach trip to Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast (the "Goonie" beach, you know), and I'll be really glad to get away from my weird house for a week.

I leave for the west coast from work here on Thursday. Jenn's leaving today (she's orginally from California), and K's out tonight. I'll have a couple good nights to myself at the old place, anyway.

I have a shitload of writing to do.

No, I Don't Want to Be Your Friend

Mr. Grande Latte Enema has given all the admins a bottle of wine for the holidays. When I saw the bottle on my desk, I had a surge of affection because I thought it was from Blaine or Yellow, you know, the guys I actually know and work with. Instead, it was the new mucky-muck office head sent straight from corporate who's been having a hell of a time making friends with all us cynical bastards.

As with last year, when Juan the closet misogynist gave all the admins Godiva chocolates, I am vaguley annoyed. It's like, if it was from somebody I actually had a working relationship which, it would be cool. I'd be delighted to get a bottle of wine from Yellow. But getting a gift from the office head who you never speak to is like getting a Valentine's card from the popular girl in school who you know only gave you a card because her mom made her give *everyone* a card. There's no affection behind it, no relationship, only something that feels uncomfortably like it's either obligation or a like-like-me present, or both.

Eh, at least it's red wine. I was worried I'd have another bottle of white cooking wine on my hands.

News From the Trenches

Just in time for Christmas, I got back word today that my story, "Wonder Maul Doll" has been accepted for the war anthology "From the Trenches," to be published next year.

I am really, really happy about this.

15 Things About Me & Books

1) The first time I had sex was in a bookstore

2) The first best friend I ever had was a kindergardener who sat in front of our first grade class and read us a fourth-grade level book. He read all the time during class, and our friendship was based on the books we recommended to one another.

3) The sexiest present I ever heard of anyone getting was Kelly Link: on her thirtieth birthday, Gavin Grant gave her thirty books, each individually wrapped.

4) For the last two years, I have lived with a woman who has a book fetish. She counts our books and encourages my book-buying frenzies.

5) Buying books makes me feel good.

6) I enjoy reading books as foreplay

7) The book by my bed that I'm constantly re-reading is Michael Cunningham's _The Hours_. The book I've read the second-most is Cunningham's _Flesh And Blood_.

8) The first fantasy saga I ever read was not the Lord of the Rings (which I've never read). It was the first three Dragonlance books. At the time, I thought it was the coolest thing I ever read.

9) I own almost all of the Howard Conan novels. And I enjoy them. I find them deeply funny.

10) I considered trading, giving, borrowing, and recommending books to other people a bonding exercise. That is, if I really like you, I will buy you books.

11) I have never read _The Left Hand of Darkness_. But I feel really bad about it.

12) I would rather write like Joanna Russ than Ursula LeGuin. Unfortunately, this may mean I will die poor. On the other hand, if I can figure out plot, the world may be ready for bloody brutal women fiction now. You never know.

13) I would like to own at least 5,000 books.

14) I own 30 years worth of National Geographic magazines. I consider it Travel Porn.

15) I would like to buy a bouse so I can stop culling my books every damn time I move.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Off to NY

Off to NY for the weekend. Happily, as I could use the rest and it appears my household is imploding.

I need a vacation.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

And After All That...

Good things, for once. Morning weights, writing, gym, sensible food, short walks at work, chatting with my writing buddy Patrick, credit card minimum payments are paid, good stuff in NY this weekend, and I'll be at the Oregon Coast next week. Sweet.

Big, deep, breath.

Anyway, back to writing, then dinner.

And guess what I got for Christmas? The regional VP gave away 30 years worth of National Geographic Magazines in the collector's hardbound covers. I got all of them.

They are fucking sweet.

And fucking heavy.

I've been dragging them home one at a time for nearly a month. Almost done.

They make me very happy.

Monday, December 12, 2005

It's That Time Of Year Again

Time for some Bad Sex.

(thanks, B)

Amusing Forward of the Month

An English professor told his class one day: "Today we will experiment with a new form called the tandem story. The process is simple. Each person will pair off with the person sitting to his or her immediate right. As homework tonight, one of you will write the first paragraph of a short story. You will e-mail your partner that paragraph and send another copy to me. The partner will read the first paragraph and then add another paragraph to the story and send it back, also sending another copy to me.

"The first person will then add a third paragraph, and so on back-and-forth. Remember to re-read what has been written each time in order to keep the story coherent. There is to be absolutely NO talking outside of the e-mails and anything you wish to say must be written in the e-mail. The story is over when both agree a conclusion has been reached."

The following was turned in by two of his English students, Rebecca
and Gary.

THE STORY:

(first paragraph by Rebecca)
At first, Laurie couldn't decide which kind of tea she wanted. The chamomile, which used to be her favorite for lazy evenings at home, now reminded her too much of Carl, who once said, in happier times, that he liked chamomile. But she felt she must now, at all costs, keep her mind off Carl. His possessiveness was suffocating, and if she thought about him too much her asthma started acting up again. So chamomile was out of the question.

(second paragraph by Gary)
Meanwhile, Advance Sergeant Carl Harris, leader of the attack squadron now in orbit over Skylon 4, had more important things to think about than the neuroses of an air-headed asthmatic bimbo named Laurie with whom he had spent one sweaty night over a year ago. "A.S. Harris to Geostation 17," he said into his transgalactic communicator. "Polar orbit established. No sign of resistance so far..." But before he could sign off a bluish particle beam flashed out of nowhere and blasted a hole through his ship's cargo bay. The jolt from the direct hit sent him flying out of his seat and across the cockpit.

(Rebecca)
He bumped his head and died almost immediately, but not before he felt one last pang of regret for psychically brutalizing the one woman who had ever had feelings for him. Soon afterwards, Earth stopped its pointless hostilities towards the peaceful farmers of Skylon 4. "Congress Passes Law Permanently Abolishing War and Space Travel," Laurie read in her newspaper one morning. The news simultaneously excited her and bored her. She stared out the window, dreaming of her youth, when the days had passed unhurriedly and carefree, with no newspaper to read, no television to distract her from her sense of innocent wonder at all the beautiful things around her. "Why must one lose one's innocence to become a woman?" she pondered wistfully.

(Gary)
Little did she know, but she had less than 10 seconds to live. Thousands of miles above the city, the Anu'udrian mothership launched the first of its lithium fusion missiles. The dim-witted wimpy peaceniks who pushed the Unilateral Aerospace Disarmament Treaty through the congress had left Earth a defenseless target for the hostile alien empires who were determined to destroy the human race. Within two hours after the passage of the treaty the Anu'udrian ships were on course for Earth, carrying enough firepower to pulverize the entire planet. With no one to stop them, they swiftly initiated their diabolical plan. The lithium fusion missile entered the
atmosphere unimpeded. The President, in his top-secret mobile submarine headquarters on the ocean floor off the coast of Guam, felt the inconceivably massive explosion, which vaporized poor, stupid Laurie.

(Rebecca)
This is absurd. I refuse to continue this mockery of literature. My writing partner is a violent, chauvinistic semi-literate adolescent.

(Gary)
Yeah? Well, my writing partner is a self-centered tedious neurotic whose attempts at writing are the literary equivalent of Valium. "Oh, shall I have chamomile tea? Or shall I have some other sort of filtered TEA??? Oh no, what am I to do? I'm such an air headed bimbo who reads too many Danielle Steele novels!"

(Rebecca)
filtered

(Gary)
filtered

(Rebecca)
filtered YOU - YOU NEANDERTHAL!

(Gary)
Go drink some tea - filtered.

(TEACHER)
A+ - I really liked this one.


(thanks, Ian)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Uncomfortable, Isn't It?

A gallery has replaced a painting of a naked man with a female nude after it received dozens of complaints.

Sure is a good thing nobody complains about female nudes!

I mean, naked men are soooo scary.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Damn, This is Tough

Down about 15 pages from the page count goal I had for today, but hey, writing 34 pages in 7 days still isn't bad.

Stuck on some plot points, and doing some more reading elsewhere to get myself out of the bind. Should pick up again tomorrow.

Day job still sucks.

Also, it's snowing like crazy here and I have no winter boots.

What's up with that?

The CIA Sabotage Manual

For overthrowing governments at home at abroad!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Here's What's Happening

Despite appearances, I am still alive. Working a day job that suddenly has me, you know, working, which means little to no blogging. It'll be awhile before this lets up.

Finished wrapping all my Christmas presents today. It's the first year I can afford to get everybody presents, and it feels really good.

Sitting here drinking whiskey, listening to Edith Piaf, and working on The Book That Will Get done.

I've still got that Russ appreciation to write, two credit card payments to make, and a lot of books to read. Have finally made it back to the gym. I'm increasingly impressed with my arms. They are just buff. It's great.

Ah, my body project. Someday I will be uber-buff and scary. For now, I'll settle for strong.

Someday, I'll also be making my living entirely from writing.

Just you wait.

It's my New Year's resolution.

Must Have Had His Grande Latte Enema

Wow. The more time I spend at the office, the more I feel like Edward Norton.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

It Happened Again on Friday

Somebody else asked me how I was "getting so skinny."

These people baffle me. I start moving into a size 14, and everybody thinks I weigh 150 lbs or something.

Weird. I haven't weighed 150 since I was like 12 years old.

It's all relative.

The Trouble With Writing

This isn't the first time my writing has interfered with my relationships. I'll spend a good deal of time doing research, writing a few pages a month, and then the bucket will tip over and for a couple of months, I'll do nothing but write, and think about writing, and talk about either writing in general or my latest book in particular.

I write on the bus, at work, at lunch, at home before and after making dinner. I think about my book, about the next scene, bits of dialogue, at the gym, just before bed, while doing reporting at work. I keep a notebook next to me so I can get dialogue down, little scenes, before I forget them.

I want to finish this book by Dec 31st, which works out to writing about 7 pages a day. I want to finish this book. I've been working on it, writing, researching, for year. I already have my next project in mind. I'm a writer, and this is what I do.

What the people close to me soon learn is that when I get like this, there isn't room for much else for awhile. I get easily distracted. I'm always somewhere else. I'm only really happy when I'm writing. It's another reason I spent six years avoiding the idea of having a lover. My writing became an issue in my last relationship. He said I never had enough time for him. I was ignoring him. For nearly six months, I stopped writing all together, and nearly killed myself.

No joke.

So this time around I want to find the right balance. I want to be able to give myself over to this passion, to this thing that consumes my life, but I don't want to neglect the relationships in my life with friends and lovers, and that's hard, that's really fucking hard.

Where Are All the Female Magicians?

Susanna Clarke does a Q&A about Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.

There was an interesting question about where all of the female magicians were in Clarke's book. And I have to admit, that question never crossed my mind. I felt Clarke was writing a certain sort of book, set in England during an alternate 1830s-ish sort of time and narrated in a written-in-the-1850s sort of way (I always read the narrator as male, though Clarke says that in her head the narrator was usually female). So the role of women in the book, as characters, would be pretty traditional. A male narrater wouldn't be much interested in what they did, or ask the question about where all the female magicians were. It wouldn't come up. When you have an opening about the boys' club of pseudo-magicians meeting together with the "boys only" sign on the treehouse door, you don't expect to see any women trying to knock it down when they're stuck wearing corsets and haven't had anything like a Seneca Falls convention and the entire book is about proper upper-crust sorts of people who wouldn't dare think to upset that particular status quo. Though magic may be another matter.

Sure, you'll have some female rebels in every society, but that's not what the book was about, and I think that concentrating on female rebels would have made it another book entirely, and that wasn't the book Clarke was set on writing.

So... no female magicians? Didn't bother me. She's apparently got some in a short story of hers - they just never fit in the book.

Because of the story she wanted to tell, and the way she wanted to tell it, I can forgive Clark for not going into the subject of female magicians.

However, forgiving the lack of relevant female Jedi in every single goddamn Star Wars movie? Especially the first three where there are tons of rebels, the perfect place for a rise in fighting women?

Not so much.

(via Meghan)

Because the Best Way to Win Hearts & Minds is to Make People Feel Manipulated

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 - The military acknowledged Friday in a briefing for a ranking Senate Republican that news articles written by American troops had been placed as paid advertisements in the Iraqi news media and not always properly identified.

Senator John W. Warner of Virginia, who heads the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters after receiving a 25-minute briefing from officials at the Pentagon that senior commanders in Iraq were trying to get to the bottom of a program that apparently also paid monthly stipends to friendly Iraqi journalists.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Strindberg's Preface to the play Miss Julie

"Miss Julie is a modern character which does not mean that the man-hating half-woman has not existed in every age, just that she has now been discovered, has come out into the open and made herself heard. Victim of a superstition (one that has seized even stronger minds) that woman, this stunted form of human being who stands between man, the lord of creation, the creator of culture, [and the child], is meant to be the equal of man or could ever be, she involves herself in an absurd struggle in which she falls. Absurd because a stunted form, governed by the laws of propagation, will always be born stunted and can never catch up with the one in the lead, according to the formula: A (the man) and B (the woman) start from the same point C; A (the man) with a speed of, let us say, 100 and B (the woman) with a speed of 60. Now, the question is, when will B catch up with A? - Answer: Never! Neither with the help of equal education, equal voting rights, disarmament, or temperance - no more than two parallel lines can ever meet and cross.

"The half-woman is a type who thrusts herself forward and sells herself nowadays for power, decorations, honours, or diplomas as formerly she used to do for money. She is synonymous with degeneration. It is not a sound species for it does not last, but unfortunately it can propagate itself and its misery in the following generation; and degenerate men seem unconsciously to select their mates among them so that they increase in number and produce creatures of uncertain sex for whom life is a torment. Fortunately, however, they succumb, either because they are out of harmony with reality or because their repressed instincts erupt uncontrollably or because their hopes of attaining equality with men are crushed. The type is tragic, offering the spectacle of a desperate struggle against nature, a tragic legacy of Romanticism which is now being dissipated by Naturalism, the only aim of which is happiness. And happiness means strong and sound species."


Boys are great.

Jonathan Carroll, On Too Much Self-Reflection

Ah, there's nothing better than the book about the writer who can't sell a book!

(thanks, Patrick!)

The MZB Heroine, Or The Sword & Sorceress Generation

So, while dinner cooks and the novel prints out for the second round of line edits, I got to thinking again about the MZB heroine. You know, the Marion Zimmer Bradley heroine. The Sword and Sorceress anthologies?

Anybody who's old enough to remember MZB's fantasy magazine before it went defunct probably knows what I'm talking about. MZB was the first mag I submitted to, back when I was 15. She always gave personal rejects, which ended up being more encouraging than I think she actually wanted, and when she didn't personally comment, her back-up did a fair job.

After a couple of rejections, I decided to try to get into the S&S anthologies. I mean, shit I was *writing* strong-women-heroines-with-swords fiction, why couldn't I get into these anthos?

I tried my best to ape the style of the S&S heroine. That means spunkiness as illustrated by her desire to kick someone, tug her braid, chew her lip, and lesbianism, if not an outright no-no, shouldn't come up much. She should have been through a Profound Emotional Experience that she needs to get over. And there should be some sort of earthy psuedo-magic god or goddess that she either worships, scorns people for worshipping (and is later converted), or she's a priestess in some kind of snake cult.

My problem with getting trying to get accepted into that antho (besides the major one - I was fifteen and couldn't plot my way out of a paper bag), is that I never really liked the anthologies. Hated them. Bought two of them, tried very hard to mimic the style, generic setting, generic plot, never really came away with anything. This may be because I've only recently learned how to write anything at all like a plot.

I had a tough time.

As I've gotten older, I've stopped reading a lot of the generic female-heroine fantasy and opted for Russ (who will smash your face in), and Martin (whose characters will all smash your face in, regardless of sex), and deadly courtesans like Jaqueline Carey's Kushiel (or Louise Marley's books). I've tried very hard to read people like Elizabeth Haydon, Kristen Britain, Sarah Zettel, and other women writers with purportedly strong female heroines.

But I just couldn't get into it. Setting falls away in favor of a thin but workable plot, and the interchangeable female heroine can just sort of get dropped into any of these worlds and chew her lip and kick somebody if they irriate her without changing much about the plot (you could also make the argument that this is what many of the Robert Jordan heroines have devolved into, though he gets points because at least the setting's pretty rich). The worldbuilding often feels so thin that I'm uncertain as to why or how these women rose to power in their respective societies except that these are books written in the 21st century, and women running around with swords in feudal societies is considered the Thing to Do. Now, I love myself a good sword-weilding heroine, but you better be really clear about what you're doing.

There have always been women crossdressers in armies, and women are great for making up the ranks of rebel groups (just remember that, historically, once the fighting's done, they're pressed/invited/feel good going back into their more traditional roles). So if you've got a feudal society that's shown as being no different than, say, ancient Greece or Europe circa 1100 ad, I want to know how your woman came by her sword and kept it. And don't give me the cop-out by changing all the names of the countries and saying, "But it's fantasy!" when you've changed absolutely nothing about your pseudo-medieval world except the names and the fact that your woman gets to lead the warrior life baby-free without having access to reliable contraception.

Make me believe you. Please, try. Fantasy or no, worlds have rules.

This is the problem I ran into while reading Naomi Kritzer's Freedom's Gate. Our Heroine, daughter of a freed slave, works for a guy as his errand-runner, basically. She learns to ride and handle basic weapons, self-defense. But I have no idea if she's some kind of anomoly in this society or not, which is called "Greece" and has some djinn and alternative historical bits to it that make it not-Greece. But, basically, it's Greece.

She goes on to join a group of, basically, amazons. An all-female group of rebel fighters, which worked for me. I'm not sure why we needed to get 100 pages of filler in the middle of the book where they spend a bunch of time training without having much to do with the plot, but I guess you have to get a three-book series out of this plot somehow. Extended training scenes help.

The feel of the book felt very familiar to me, and I hopped over to her site and saw that she had, indeed, sold a story or two the S&S anthologies.

And that got me to thinking about how MZB may have nurtured a generation of women writers who all write the same sort of heroine, the same sort of plot, the same sorta-like-X-but-not setting. The same heroine-finding-her-inner-spiritual-strength plot.

No doubt these are quick read books with likable characters and a solid if simple plot. They're marketable. But they're quickly forgettable. I've actually forgotten the main character's name in Freedom's Gate already. I will never forget Martin's Arya even if he ends up killing her. She's that dynamic. And she's a part of a dynamic, complex setting and plot.

Maybe that's the difference between candy trilogy fantasy and true epic fantasy: depth and complexity of setting and character. When I read, I want a whole lot more going on than sorta-like-but-not-really. I get bored with the generics. You can give me a classic trope, you can give me a scullery maid or plucky horsewoman, but she better be *more* than "the plucky horsewoman."

I've already read that book, and it bored me the first time.

I think it's a matter of pushing a book, a plot, characters, concepts, to the next level, and not settling for the easiest way to write the story. It might be comfortable, but it's not memorable.

Finally, the Fucking Weekend

Wow, the day job is shit right now, as my lack of blogging all week aptly illustrates.

Anyway, moving on.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

I Wrote 100 Pages of Fiction Last Month

This month, I want to double that.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I Believe in Magic

And I intend to have a very Merry Christmas, thank you, despite my credit card balance.

heh heh

Someday I'll figure that shit out.

One More Reason to Make a Living Writing

So I can stay out late on a Wednesday night and see a political play about Indira Ghandi and eat Thai food with local writers.

You know, I wouldn't have to get up at 5:30 the next morning.

Bah. This fucking job.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Food for Thought

I've been having a lot of dreams about food. I don't feel like I'm depriving myself of anything. I think it's my body's craving for more protein. It's the morning weight routine that does it.

Having a tough time getting back to the gym after the Thanksgiving break. Isn't that always the way?

Sat down and consumed some beef on the way home and thought about how hard I work, every day, every damn meal, to not revert to bad habits. I can say, "This is fine, today. Tomorrow, it's not." And you've gotta be on yourself every day about it, because otherwise you'll revert back to type, default.

Sometimes I'm sad that my default isn't the best one for me.

What an easy life I'd lead!

How boring that would be.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Note To Self

Though eating that processed cheese may be good, it doesn't leave you with much energy. I want to nap now.

Yes, I'm Busy

Work is busy, book is busy, plane flights are busy, shopping for holiday gifts is busy.

Eating far too much processed cheese, too.

It's good.

I'll be back later. I'm just massively swamped.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Dayton

So, Dayton.

Yea.

Managed to get both my friends sick and nearly poisoned Ian, who has allergic reactions to stuff like perfume and body spray.

Oops.

Ian did cook me three pies, though, which I thought was quite good of him, considering.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I'm Certain There Was Something To Say

Yea, I have a number of things to blog about, but I have a bit of a cold, tons of writing to do, and some great time off I need to enjoy.

See you all on the other side of the holiday.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Off to Dayton On Wednesday

I do get around.

Once More Around the Mulberry Bush

The HR Manger stopped me in the hall this morning and asked, how I'd "gotten so skinny."

Now, anybody who's met me or seen me at a Con can tell you I'm not exactly a skinny person. Never have been. I'm a size 16, moving back into a 14, and this is the weight I've been at most of my life. Two years ago, though, I was coming out of grad school binge eating and binge drinking and over-stressing, and was 20 lbs heavier when I started this job. So, I guess that in comparison, I'm "skinny"(er), anyway.

It's odd that I get annoyed when people make any sort of reference to my weight, now. I don't mind the gee, you seem a lot stronger comments, but the "gee, how did you get so skinny?" comments grate on me. Mainly because 1) I'm not skinny 2) I've been losing and gaining the same 40 or 50 lbs my whole life. I know how transitory this is. 3) I know there's no secret.

Basically, I told her I'd stopping trying to starve myself and started working out more. 20 minutes of free weights 5 mornings a week, two days a week at the gym, two 15 minute walks a day while at work; I take the stairs everywhere. I still drink calorie-laden drinks at Starbucks. I just get the small size. Instead of denying myself everything, I let myself have stuff, which means no binging later.

And I'm still not a small person. That's certainly not my goal. Being "average" and "proportionate" feels very good to me, and that's where I feel I'm at. Right now I'm working toward being stronger. That's the biggest thing for me. As far as weight goes, I'm quite comfortable at this weight. I've been here most of my life. Dropping to a 12/14 would be the furthest I'd ever take it. I physically can't get below a size 10 even if I ever wanted that - my hips, the actual bones, are too big for that. My lowest size barring concentration-camp chic is a 12, and that's going to take more years of training to hit, if I hit it again (likely, I will, if I can take boxing more seriously and get back into it).

I was watching "Supersize Me" this weekend. It's a very slickly made documentary, and it's also one of the biggest modern propoganda peices I've seen in recent years. The fat=unhealthy equation was used throughout, though none of the (mostly women) overweight people he talked to went through the same blood tests he did, so though we could see they were above average as far as pounds go, they could have been healthy as horses. I was a little startled that the graphic and stats he used to illustrate how fat America was was the image of a teenage girl, the average of which is now taller and fatter, of course, than the average woman 50 years ago, who also wore a girdle and didn't participate in any sports.

The best part of this documentary, the one that I was glad got included, was the one about the school lunch programs. In the "real world" adults have lots of choices, and if they want to eat a half pound of fries, great. But school cafeterias get lots of perks from junk food companies, and let me tell you, if I was given the choice between cheetoes and soda and some of the shit that gets dolloped onto cafteria trays, I'd choose the cheetoes. The real kicker? Comparing that food to the organic, healthy choices given by another school that cost the same amount. If it's not a cost difference, what's the deal?

The deal is that big corporations want to get their products into schools. So we live on chips, sodas, and candy bars in school. I remember one of the great things about the cafeteria in college in Alaska was that we had a salad and sandwich bar in case the "hot food" option sucked that day. I lived on a lot of salads and sandwiches. And it was cool to have that choice available.

Watching our protagonist stuff himself silly on McDonald's food that his body obviously didn't want and not walking - in New York City, no less! - in order to achieve the results he was gunning for was a little over-the-top. There were some fantastic points made, but in the end, it was a propoganda peice whose ultimate goal seemed to be to get rid of McDonald's, which is silly. Eating a cheeseburger and small fry a couple times a month isn't going to kill you. An extra 20 lbs on your frame won't even kill you. Overeating nutritionally-devoid foods and lying around on the couch all day might. If nothing else, you'll suffer from malnutrition, which he was, and that's going to cause your body to go into binge mode, which it did.

Eat what your body craves, stop eating when you're full, and exercise. Walk, walk, walk, and you'll feel better. The surprise is you may not ever be thin while doing this. And you know what? That's OK.

But then, it's never really about health. That's not what we're gunning for, and that's what's getting us into trouble.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Off to the Big Apple

Well, I'm off to NY tonight for a nice, relaxing weekend. Spending my time until then going through about 200 pages of line edits and getting some more handwritten stuff transcribed.

Type-a type-a type-a type-a.

This is why there will never be a writing reality show.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Hollaback

Tell me what you hollered back. Don't take his picture.

Tell me what you said. Tell me you told him he was a "limp dick."

Tell me you got into a fight.

I Am a Little Drunk

Good times, good times.

At the Gym

So, I was at the gym tonight, and this huge guy, I mean, broad, not tall (not much taller than me, anyway), with that amazingly defined triangular shape, the huge shoulders, walked up the stairs ahead of me.

And I was transfixed.

Not in a "Wow! That's hot!" way (I tend not to like overly butched up guys) but in a "Wow! I want to be that buff!" way.

Funny.

In Which the Protagonist Drinks Whiskey & Is Happy to Be Alive

Beautiful night. Cold, but good. Just got back from the gym. Jazz playing. Roommates cooking dinner and chatting in the big kitchen. Drinking some whiskey, transcribing some writing work I did this afternoon. Getting ready for a great weekend in NY.

Doesn't get much better.

On Being Better

It's been some time since I talked about being better. I guess you could say I've been too busy working at it to reflect on it.

To be honest, I'm not really sure where I'm at with it. I'm writing like a maniac, at lunch, on the bus, on the train, at home. I'm switching out notebooks soon because this one's full. I have a marketable book that's halfway done. I'm about to drop another waist size as well (in a good way), and my biceps have gotten bigger and denser after many weeks of neglect. I'll be in NY this weekend, and Ohio next week to visit a very, very good friend of mine who I've know for more than a decade. I'm going home for Christmas, paying my own way totally this time. I'm moving to NY next year, and moving again a year after that.

My job pays me a living, I like the people I work with, and I have a bit of breathing time this week before I get dumped with another whirlwind of "real work" terror in December. That's pretty fair.

I'm working out regularly and getting work done. Though you may not think it's on the list, I'm also glad I've had some time for blogging.

There are still things I desperately want, but I'm at the point where I'm actively working toward all of my goals, so there isn't much to complain about except, "Gee, it takes a lot of time to be the person you want to be." And that's not much of a criticism at all.

I am still in constant wonder at the way things are turning out.

I think I'm getting far more than I hoped for.

Thoughts On Meaningful Work

I went out ot lunch today at a local place that sits on the first floor of one of the buildings in our corporate complex. I haven't been here since I had the flu, because after eating their baked potato soup, I promptly went home and vomited.

I've been coming here for two years, and the turnover in the waitstaff is predictable. Most people try to stay out of food service if they can, or use it to pay bills to get through school or divorces. For some, a very few, like, say, my parents, it becomes a career. But not always because you want it to.

It's not usually you're first choice.

You don't sit around in fourth grade and say, "I want to be a waitress with I grow up." And if you do like the work, you're not supposed to.

I've always had a terror of these sorts of jobs, likely inspired by my parents, who dreamed of something like what I've now got: my ability to walk out of college and at the very least get myself a 401 (K) plan, health benefits, enough money to pay rent in a decent town, time to pursue other passions, holidays off, paid vacation.

They didn't want me to spend my relative youth the way they did, working 12-hour shifts, weekends, holidays, coming home smelling of burger grease and french fries.

The irony, of course, is that my parents did achieve that comfortable white collar life, the dog and the big house and the (mostly) college educated children, a little something for retirement.

And they did it flipping burgers. It got them where they wanted to be, just a little later in life than they probably wanted.

But when I'm here at lunch, watching a handful of the servers still working food service, paying bills, I wonder - do they have a plan? Do they want to run this place? Or is this enough? And are they OK with that? Am I? Because some people are OK with it.

I wasn't.

Certainly, there are things I like about all of the jobs I've had. I worked harder as a waitress and had less freedom than the job I have now, and I make twice as much money now, only the labor we exert in serving others is seen as a lesser labor than sitting on our asses typing out words and numbers and running paper reports about actual work done by others.

I take some comfort in the fact that the tower crews whose work I report on make more money than I do. You know how they get up those 200 ft cell phone towers?

They climb.

I think I have some guilt about how I work. I have some guilt about being on the other side of the table. I don't understand money. I don't understand the value of work. I look around at what everyone else makes for what they do, for how hard they work, and it boggles my mind at how undervalued the people who actually do things are. We pay managers six figures to run reports and bitch about how they don't know what's going on in the field. You want to know what's going on in the field? Put on a hard hat and get into the field. I spend all day reviewing tower audits, and I've never been to a cell site.

I remember, while working in the corporate office at the burger joint, when the VPs realized the company had grown so big that over half the office staff hadn't come up from behind the grill. They'd never seen a deep fryer up close. My mom helped spearhead a campaign to encourage office folks to get their food handlers' cards and go and help out in one of the burger joints for a day.

For paper pushes, it was an eye opener.

And, I think, for some, deeply satisfying.

We get so divorced from real, tangible work, hunched at our desks, making up reports, fielding information. But at day's end you have nothing to show for it but a paycheck.

For me, hey, that's really all I need.

But I must say, there are days when I'd like to learn how to climb a 200 ft tower and replace an antenna.

They'd pay me more, too.

I'm Going to Lunch

It occurs to me why, after a while, writers don't read reviews.

I'll take my trusted critiquers over random slapdash any day.

"When You Fall in Love With Something..."

Kariya, a former All-American in field hockey at the University of Maine, knew she was going to be a boxer from the first time she stepped through the ropes to spar. It was the typical trial by fire for a fighter at the KO Boxing Gym in Toronto, but with an added twist – since she was a female, she wasn’t particularly welcome in the club.

“They didn’t want me in the gym,” she remembered. “They wanted me to have a try at it and go. I got punched right in my face and I just wanted to get right back at him. Ever since then I knew that I loved it. I’ve always been intrigued by watching boxing and I’ve always been a boxing fan, so going in there, trying it, and understanding the discipline it takes and how difficult of a sport it really is, I wanted to really be the best at it.”


And yea, they've got a mention about her looks (sigh). But let's be happy it was a half-sentence throw-away line, and not the subject of the whole damn article.

Gamer Girl Action

Video games, by and large, assume that whether you’re playing a female character or not, you’re going to want to have sex with a female character, or at least be sexually attracted to a female character (or monster).

Women

In Liberia, when their sons were kidnapped and drugged to fight for rebel factions, and when their husbands came home from brothels and infected them with H.I.V., and when government soldiers invaded their houses and raped them in front of their teenage sons, these were the women who picked themselves up and kept going. They kept selling fish, cassava and kola nuts so they could feed their families. They gave birth to the children of their rapists in the forests and carried the children on their backs as they balanced jugs of water on their heads.

These are the women who went to the polls in Liberia last week. They ignored the threats of the young men who vowed more war if their chosen presidential candidate, a former soccer player named George Weah, didn't win. "No Weah, no peace," the boys yelled, chanting in the streets and around the polling stations.

The women in Liberia, by and large, ignored those boys and made Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who is 67, the first woman to be elected to lead an African country. I wasn't surprised that Mr. Weah immediately said the vote had been rigged, although international observers said it had not been. In the half-century since the Europeans left Africa, its men have proved remarkably adept at self-delusion.

Heidi Fleiss Intends to Open a Brothel For Female Clientele

Fleiss plans makeover for Nevada brothel

LAS VEGAS - Former "Hollywood Madam" Heidi Fleiss says she's bound for a brothel in the southern Nevada desert that she wants to help remake into a resort featuring male prostitutes serving female customers.

"I am moving to Crystal," Fleiss said Wednesday of a desert crossroads 20 miles north of Pahrump and about 80 miles outside Las Vegas. It features two bordellos and little else.

"I am opening up a stud farm," Fleiss declared from her Hollywood home overlooking the Sunset Strip. "I am going to have the sexiest men on earth. Women are going to love it."

Joe Richards, who owns the Cherry Patch Ranch and Mabel's Ranch in Crystal, said he sent a "courtesy" letter Tuesday to inform the Nye County Commission that Fleiss will work for him.

"She's going to be madam hostess of Cherry Patch Ranch," Richards told The Associated Press by telephone. He called her an employee rather than a partner.

There's one possible problem, though. County Sheriff Tony DeMeo said that because Fleiss is a convicted felon, she could be banned from the county's legal sex trade. DeMeo sits with the five county commissioners on a six-member brothel licensing board.

Fleiss, 39, was released from a California prison in 1999 after serving 21 months for money laundering, tax evasion and attempted pandering.

Fleiss was convicted in 1995 of running a prostitution ring in which models-turned-prostitutes were flown around the world to meet wealthy actors and clients who paid as much as $10,000 for a single meeting.

DeMeo said he'd heard several reports in his three years as sheriff about Fleiss' plans, including a failed proposal by an Australian firm that hired Fleiss in 2003 to promote a 50-room brothel-hotel.

"This is different," Fleiss insisted Wednesday, describing movers packing her belongings and her plan to arrive in Nevada later this week. "I'm moving."

Nye County is among 10 rural Nevada counties in which prostitution is legal under county and state oversight. Prostitution is illegal in Clark County surrounding Las Vegas, and Washoe County around Reno.


If she really wantes to make money, she'll have male and female prostitutes, and she'll stick to that "women clients only" rule with an iron resolve.

Sucks that she's working for a man, though. Which is why I think the whole thing will come to naught. She's just another Charlie's Angel.

What's So Bad About Being Called A Lesbian?

The girls' soccer team at Immaculate High School celebrated a goal that helped them win the championship game. A copy editor for the local newspaper placed a caption beneath a picture that stated they were actually celebrating one of their teammates coming out as a lesbian. The caption was considered offensive and unprofessional.

While the copyeditor was lying, and so violated journalistic principles, what he (?) was lying about shouldn't have been an issue. Yes, it's stereotyping female atheletes, but you know, some women athletes are lesbians. So are some fashion models. If "lesbian" wasn't a "bad word" would people have reacted so strongly?

The day when calling somebody a "lesbian" is considered a statement of fact and not an insult will be a good fucking day. Why's "lesbian" have to be a curse word?

I enjoy being mistaken for a lesbian. Doesn't bother me a bit. Why should it?

Only 37?

"Strong drink."

- Daniel Handler, author of the Limony Snicket books, when asked how he kept his confidence in his first book through 37 rejections

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

If Only I Could Type a Little Faster

A bit of a hunger night. Should have gone to the gym. Was bloody fucking cold, and I wasn't dressed for the walk home, dammit.

I'm going to seek out some yogurt and type a little faster.

I've got to finish this book.

This Just May Be The Weirdest Article I've Ever Read

Huh?

That is all.

But How Will I Type?

Fell on the stairs coming up from the train platform yesterday. I smashed the hell out of my right middle finger. I didn't think much of it at the time, but when I woke up this morning, it was pretty stiff and and sore. It's not puffy, though, and I can bend it easily.

But getting up last night, realizing it hurt, and not being able to see what was going on with it, I had this suddnen, terrible fear:

"But how will I type?"

The answer, of course, is two-fingered typing.

But it's funny how worried I was about that. My entire livlihood, from dayjob to writing work, hinges on my abillity to get words down on a keyborad quickly.

I have nightmares about people cutting off my fingers.

God's War: Excerpt

Chapter 14

“I always thought you’d be taller,” Nyx said.

Queen Nasyaan smiled and stood. Nyx had seen images of her before, of course, but most of those were doctored.

The Queen was a short, plump woman with a halo of graying hair. Her face was too young for the hair – she wasn’t even forty. The desert tended to suck the youth from everyone else. Nyx supposed the Queen was attractive in the way of an older sister or blood cousin; cute, and immediately likable, but not someone you’d first tag as a bed partner.

Nyx caught Rhys looking at her, and had the peculiar feeling he was reading her mind. One never knew, with magicians.

“Sit, please,” the Queen said, gesturing to the two seats on the other side of the polished white table.

Nyx watched the woman’s hands – soft hands, hands that hadn’t seen much of the desert. The filters kept out the worst of the sun. This was a queen who would never have to be scraped for cancers.

“I guess I should say I’m sorry about your mother,” Nyx said. “Her dying.”

When Queen Abyyad died, Nyx had gotten drunk and told Rhys to thank God for her dying. Rhys told her God didn’t work that way. It hadn’t put a damper on her spirits.

“I never liked the old bitch anyway,” the Queen said.

“Not many people did,” Nyx said.

“Nyx?” Rhys said quietly.

She waved him away.

“So it is Nyxnissa so Dasheem?” the Queen asked.

“Nyx, yea.”

“Nyx, a pleasure.”

“Thanks.”

“Thank you for answering my summons. I’m interested in expanding my pool of hunters. I heard you served time at the front.”

“A long time ago.” Nyx looked around for something to drink, found nothing. Did they have something against liquor in the palace?

“Volunteered?”

“Yea.”

“Two years of service, honorably discharged at nineteen, so I’ve read.”

Nyx stiffened. This wasn’t going to be cut and dry.

“You came back with burns over eighty percent of your body,” the Queen said. “Your military file says you were put into the care of the magicians for reconstitution.”
The Queen eyed her over, as if looking for evidence that Nyx had once been a charred, blackened husk of a woman. “Is that right?”

“Yea.”

The Queen didn’t look convinced.

“I got a good magician. The best in the business,” Nyx said. And then he fucked me over and sent me to prison, Nyx thought. But she didn't say that out loud.

“You’re a war hero, then. A true patriot. I went against the advice of my best counselors in asking you here.”

“I don’t get on well with most people. They don’t like me much,” Nyx said. “I’ve been a bounty hunter and a bēl damê a lot longer than I was at the front.”

“I read that you served some time in prison for black work.”

“I did.”

“You have some sympathy for breeders?”

“Not really. It paid well.”

“More than being a bēl damê? As I recall, collecting blood debt is quite rewarding, monetarily.”

“Only if you’re good at it,” Nyx said. “I wasn’t.”

“You brought in all of your notes. What was it? Twenty-eight for twenty-eight?”

“I did that in three years. Most bēl damês do two or three times that. They’re better at throwing away bad notes than I was.”

“You pursue your notes to the end.”

“I do,” Nyx said. “I’m stubborn. Maybe just stupid.”

“Neither of us have gotten where we are by being stupid,” the Queen said.

“Oh, I’ve done some pretty stupid things,” Nyx said.

“How long would you pursue a note for me?”

Nyx shrugged. “It’s all the same. I’d go until I got it, or until someone else did. Rumor has it you’ve called in a lot of hunters.”

“A handful. All but half a dozen of the bēl damês have already given up the hunt. I need someone –“

“Desperate?” Nyx suggested.

“I suppose you’d like to know about the money, then.”

“I want to know what I’m hunting first.”

“You’ve shown an incredible dedication to your country.”

“Uh-huh,” Nyx said. Government types had sweet-talked her with words like honor, dedication, service, obligation. She had burned for it, and much more.

“Tell me, why did you volunteer for the front?”

“My older brothers died at the front. My little brother got called up. I joined so I could watch his back.”

“That’s –“

“He died of dysentery during basic training,” Nyx said.

“Sacrificing for the cause is truly –“

“Let’s go ahead talk money,” Nyx said. The last thing she wanted was to listen to the Queen of Nasheen tell her she was some kind of living saint for burning at the front. Nyx knew better.

“Money isn’t an issue,” the Queen said. “Bring me the woman alive and I’ll give you however much you want. I’ll set you up in an estate by the sea with a hundred servants if you wish it. Women, of course.” She flicked a look at Rhys. “Unless you’d prefer half-breeds. We have no end of male half-breeds.”

“Until we start sending half-breeds to the front.”

“Bring me this woman, and we never will.”

“What do you mean?”

“Let’s say this woman has the power to end the war. The war that took your brothers, your life. I offer you a way to end the war, and get paid well besides.”


Nyx eased back into her seat. “Now I know why you called me up.”

“Your file makes for interesting reading.”

“No doubt.”

“So.” The Queen, too, leaned back in her chair. “What do you think of my offer?”

“I have a good team,” Nyx said. “We could put something off. When did you last see this woman?”

“She’s a foreigner, an off-worlder called Nikodem Jordan.” The Queen pulled a slate off the table and called up a photo. She handed the slate to Nyx. “This gives her likeness and her vitals. You’ll need to change the password. I require the utmost discretion.”

Nyx took the slate and looked at a display of photos. They had date and time stamps. Some were dated eight years before. She’d figured that. Nikodem was a small woman, Chenjan in coloring, with a broad nose and wide cheekbones, gray eyes. It was an arresting face, not so much alien as exotic in the way she’d heard off-worlders were. She was too little for real beauty, but the face, ah, the face! Nyx saw strength in it, and some cunning. It was a face that kept others out, kept secrets.

“You will bring her back to me?” the Queen asked.

“I’ll need to know everything about her,” Nyx said. She looked up from the slate, reluctantly. “How long has she been gone? Does she have friends, other travelers? Who did she meet with while she was here?” She paused, wondered if she should show her card. “This wasn’t her first visit. Who did she meet with the last time she was here?”

The Queen answered a few of the questions, talked a little about the off-worlders. Nikodem had been missing for a month. The Queen said that when the off-worlders had come into Faleen fore the first time sixteen years before, they came in speaking Arabic. That’s how out of touch off-worlders were with what was going on in Nasheen. It took some time to explain to them that Arabic had been dead in Nasheen for two thousand years.

“What did they come here looking for?” Nyx asked.

“Some of that is confidential,” the Queen said. “What I can say is that they were very interested in finding other followers of the Book. They found our particular brand of Islam rather contemptible.” She glanced over at Rhys. “And they didn’t think Chenja’s was much better, but they have an offer for us, and we’ve been in negotiations these last eight years. That’s the transit time from our world to theirs.”

“New Canaan?” Nyx asked.

“Yes. You know it?”

“I didn’t take geography or astronomy much past the ones, but I listen to a lot of stories. I hear they’re pretty conservative, and mostly looking to some dead white guy,” Nyx said. She thought of Kine, who hadn’t had sex or alcohol in nearly fifteen years. That couldn’t be good for anyone.

“They call themselves the Mujahadin. The Quran is their primary book, yes, but they’ve incorporated both the teachings of the prophet Jesus and the old testament of the Judeans. They believe that because they have a faith composed of this trinity, they are the only true believers of the one God, the only people who know and understand Him.”

“God is unknowable,” Rhys said. “That is his nature. For them to claim to know God is arrogance at best.”

“It’s true that only the Chenjans have a call to prayer anymore, and some of Mohammed’s proscriptions I find terribly contradictory and backward within our current society, but it is no business of mine to tell my women how to worship. There are God’s laws and women’s laws. Whenever possible, they intersect. When they do not, I tend to ere on the side of individual freedom.”

Nyx coughed. Individual freedom, sure. She remembered her brothers. Remembered how honor-bound she’d been to “volunteer.”

“It would be a fantastic opportunity to spread that sort of freedom to other worlds,” the Queen said.

Rhys said, “But wouldn’t that be Nasheen imposing on others the sort of trinity the Canaanites are coming here to spread among the Nasheenians?”

Nyx sucked her teeth and glared at him. The Queen laughed.

“We have different views of God, you and I,” the Queen said.

“So when can I see these Canaanites?” Nyx asked. The less Rhys talked about God to the Queen of Nasheen, the better.

“Come, I will take you to them,” the Queen said, and rose.

Carnivale of the Feminists is Up

Good stuff.

Our New Contractor

We have a new person, let's call her Alana, working site ac. for us. She requested our team contact info, and here's what Yellow sent to her (names and numbers have been altered, of course):

Dee W. - Office - 773-XXX-XXXX - that's all you'll need for he's afraid of site walks and never leaves the office. In case he does leave his mobile is 773-XXX-XXXX.

Sarah H. - Mobile - 773-XXX-XXXX - that's all you'll need for she's afraid of the office and never comes in from the field.

Kameron Hurley - Office - 773-XXX-XXXX - Careful what you say to Kameron. If she thinks you're strange you'll end up as a character in her next book. I've been trying to get in for 2 years now - I'm either too strange or grotesquely normal.

I love Yellow.

Snow! It's Going to Snow Today!

Snow!

Glamour

Now young women tend to label the topless photos "empowering" and "liberating". A recent survey of 2,000 15-19-year-old girls found that 67% considered "glamour model" their ideal profession. Faced daily with the evidence that women have to be sexually attractive to be considered successful why wouldn't young women choose to make a profession of it?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

"If You Don't Stay Awake, People Tend to Take Away Your Rights."

Simon Owens has a shortish interview with me up at Bloggasm.

Telling Stories

In honor of SciFiction's curtain call, David Schwartz has asked writers to pen appreciations for all 320 of the stories that have been posted during SciFiction's run.

So go check out the list of stories. If you don't see one you know, read and browse for something you like. Dibs seem to be going pretty quick, so jump over there and pick something up.

I got dibs on Russ. heh

What, you're surprised?

When In Doubt....

...add a car chase scene and the death of a love one.

Ah yes, getting back into my stride.

I would also like to praise Trader Joe's for the potency and reasonable pricing of their acidophilus. It is the IUD-carrying woman's best friend.

Today's song stuck on repeat: Antigone Rising, "Waiting, Watching, Wishing." Fucking fantastic.

Here we go again looking for a ride
got a smile to hide all the rain in my eyes
Got a bag stuffed filled with love and goodbyes.
I don't care if I never grow up
don't want to shrink in a suit, don't want to live
just to suck someone bone-dry
I'd rather die

Each time I think back to my hometown
my sad skinny self standin' around
waiting, watching, wishing, for something to happen
I used to dream about a boy like you
with your hair dyed black
and your eyes jet blue
hoping, searching, and praying for something fantastic

Chorus:
We've been here before
Stood up at the door
Holding secrets we'd never say
Hey don't hang your head
Feel the breeze instead
Fear no shadow don't feel no shame
Hey hey hey...

All that it took was one punch in the face
to make me wanna steal that guy's car in the first place.
Grass on suburban lawns never looked so black.
Slip through the window, step through the door
hand me your hairpin your knees to the floor
Head to the highway, we're never turnin' back
never turnin' back, never turnin' back...

Car by car and line by line
someday you'll find your place and I'll find mine
In a new time and a brand new town...get up get up get up GET DOWN!

On and on and on we go
we've got no radio so we sing songs we know
for miles and miles of open road get up get up get up let's go!

(chorus)

Get up get up get up get down
(repeat 3x)


That is all.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Damn This Fucking Book

ARGAGRGGRGA ARGARGAGR ARGA RAGR ARGAR

That about sums up what I think of my current output.

Fandom & Male Privilege

From Cereta:

Media fandom as most of us know it is often largely a female space. By that I mean, many of the circles we run in are made up mostly of women. Women write stories for other women, make vids for other women, talk with other women, go to cons with other women, and while few of us actively want to exclude men, we're not really invested in drawing them in, either. Fandom is one of the few places where you'll actually hear, "Wait, so-and-so's a guy?" And you know, we're kind of used to that.

Except lately, these fairly small spaces have been expanding, and intersecting with spaces where there are more men. And often, everything is fine and dandy. It's just that sometimes, it's not.

Let's take this post for example. Allowing for the moment that the guy was being obnoxious as all shit in his phrasing, there was still a rather disturbing amount of agreement to what was, in essence, a classic example of male privilege.

It is not enough, you see, not to exclude men. We have to actively get them involved. I'm not sure what's more insidious, there: the notion that we must find it not only desirable that men get involved in fandom but also some kind of imperative, or the notion that it is our, women's, responsibility to get them involved in fandom. That we are the ones who must act, in other words. That even though we carved these spaces out for ourselves (didn't nobody create those lists and cons and archives and communities for us, darlin'), we must take the further step to get men involved in them. And if you are going to argue that these couple of guys are in no way representative of male privilege at work in fandom, you might want to talk to the vidders who've been told that vidding can't be an "art" because no men are involved. Instead, it can only be a "hobby."

And further, as implied in this response, we must do so by actively suppressing our own interests. It is not enough to make things more appealing to men; we must stop the things that appeal to us. And that, really, is where things can get ugly. Because men can stand longingly at the window waiting for us to coax them in all they want, and ultimately, it doesn't affect us. What does affect us is the attempt to reshape the spaces we have set up for ourselves to better reflect their interests.


Read the rest

Oh, My Word

If Microsoft Word autocorrects one more "shit" into "sit," or - far worse - one more "fuck," into "duck," I may need to imbibe a good deal more coffee.

Why would I need real words "autocorrected"?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Blah blah blah

Weekends should be 3 or 4 days long. I should be living in a Scandinavian country.

Free healthcare, too.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Oh, Shit

SciFiction folds

Dammit

What I'm Doing This Weekend

I need to write 40 pages this weekend, and need to spend this morning going back over my characters and making them more sympathetic. The problem with doing a brutal blood and sand novel is that you start to forget everybody's humanity.

That's a problem. It also makes the entire story more interesting when everybody's got their own shit going on. I need to deepen said shit.

Friday, November 11, 2005

She Looked So Much Like A Real Woman, She Traumatized Small Children

And Barbie isn't traumatizing?

heh heh

(thanks, B)

I Am Worried..

.. that I've just written 20 pages of crap.

le sigh

Gotta Love That Credit Card Bill

Whew boy, I sure do owe them a shitload. How do I overspend myself like this? I mean, yea, I'll square it at month's end, but sweet lord, all those plane tickets added up.

"Feminist Society Would Dissatisfy Many Women"

It's so sexy when a college boy tells me what I think. It gets me all hot and fired up.

I love all the research that went into this piece. I love all the women he talked to, the surveys he sent out, the data he collected, the... oh no? You mean he's just telling us what women want?

What a sweetheart!

Imagine if the world were a perfect place. Wouldn't it be great? If everyone learned to play fair and share everything, surely the lives of men and women alike would be better.

Imagine all the people, living for today. Imagine there's no countries, it isn't hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for, no relgion, too....

Oh, sorry, wrong rant.

Or would it? Can men and women truly do the same things?

Like walk, talk, and chew gum at the same time? Truly, this is a skill both men and women cannot cultivate, like breathing. Women need men's assistance for basic bodily functions like breathing, carrying things, walking, raising children... OK, well, not that last bit! Women are biologically programmed to take care of children. That's why they don't drown them, and why all men are bad fathers.

Although possible, it seems impractical for women to be a part of a revolution to do the same things as men, yet sustain a position of independence. Any dictionary will define feminism as a movement that advocates for the equal rights of women. But it's more than that. Feminism encompasses connotations and often misrepresents the voice of every woman.

Every single woman. All those women's voices he's representing right now! I'm sure he'll quote their voices later, and bring out all that copious research he's done, interviewing his fellow female classmates and really listening to those voices.

What, you mean he doesn't quote any women? Well, that's not important. He's a guy, he can speak for them about as readily as I can speak the minds of Quebec Separatists. Though you know, if men and women are truly from different planets, as he claims, I'm not really sure how he, as a man, would be able to speak for them. It presents a neat leap in logic! Go-go Penn junior!

If feminism prevailed, the world would be drastically different and women wouldn't like the final result.

He has talked to thousands of women who agree. Thousands, I tell you!

He's not a woman, but he plays one on TV. And he has lots of female friends. Really.

The day men and women have the same level of power is the also the day when chivalry dies.

What is this word, chivalry? Wasn't that when women only had to pay for things with the production of heirs?

Many women enjoy visiting bars and having men buy them drinks in exchange for a casual conversation.

Many women also enjoy making enough money that they can buy the house a round and go drag racing afterward.

It seems that after all the work women put into getting ready for a night out, they won't compromise their ability to get free alcohol for the sake of self-independence.

Cost of little black dress: $113
Cost of makeup: $30
Cost of hair crap: $30
Cost of shampoo: $60 (salon)
Cost of good haircut: $60
Cost of shoes: $40 (on sale at Nordstrom rack)
Cost of hose: $20
Cost of accessories: $50 (necklance, earrings)
Cost of manicure: $30
Cost of self-tanner: $20
Cost of transportation to bar (taxi) $20

Cost of having a random guy in a bar buy you a $3 beer:

Priceless.

I fully intend to never compromise my self-independence (what the fuck is that supposed to mean? An independence from the self? Does he mean "independence"? What sort of college students is Penn turing out?) for free liquor. The whole point of independence is that you can buy your own liquor.

Other women appreciate a man paying for dinner or movie tickets. But in a world where men and women see each other as equals, a man might not open his wallet and show a level of gallantry toward an intriguing woman.

Sweet fuck, I'm going to have nightmares about living in a world where men don't pay for dates. I wonder how lesbians negotiate this minefield. Could you imagine a world where men and women look at each other as equals, and men don't pay the women's portion? I mean, you'd have to pay your own. Oh, the sweet, sweet, price of equality!

Many of life's common courtesies would disappear if men and women were the same. Women would have to protect themselves and a lot of women would find themselves walking home alone instead of being escorted home by a man.

By far my favorite! Men wouldn't be around to protect women from other men! Because men are doing such a great job right now! Women might have to protect themselves! Like they have to do now!

Oh, the humanity!

Imagine a world where women would be encouraged to be weak and small and submissive so more men could protect them from other men! Cause that works so well.

A man's reflex to open a door for a woman would be replaced with the thought of her being comfortable enough to open the door for herself.

!!!!!

When men aren't around in our house, it's truly staggering. Nothing gets done. Me, Jenn and K stand and stare at the front door and weep and wail because we are unsure of how this complex mechanism works. We have to leave the groceries in the car because we're unsure how to carry them upstairs all by ourselves! Putting together Ikea furniture can bring us to blows - I mean, tears - and we find ourselves calling our male friends at odd hours and asking them to come over and lift things for us.

If men and women are equal, society itself will collapse. I mean, women would be able to take care of themselves. It would be terrifying.

If both sexes were equal, love would become awkward as well. Marriage, or even deciding who should propose or pay for the ring, would be a different experience.

Why yes, it would. In fact, it's quite different today. My mom proposed to my dad. It seemed to work very well for them. What world are you living in, sweety?

The days of a husband pulling out his wife's chair would be over because men wouldn't want to risk hearing a reminder about how women can do things for themselves.

Wow. That would be so scary. I can just see this guy burst into tears when his girlfriend is like, "Thanks for pulling out the chair, but I've got it."

Serious breakdown time.

It seems that if men and women acted as equals, dating would be pretty boring. The chemistry created between two people is not defined by strong similarities, but by the differences and struggles for power that some feminists seek to destroy.

!!!

Struggles for power! Dating is about power! That's what makes it so fun! Long-term partnerships are not based on mutual trust, respect, and friendship, they're based on dominance and submission. I think this guy's confusing bedroom play with dating. I'm going to send him some BDSM gear.

Where there are equal rights, there should be equal responsibilities. In a fair world, both men and women would have rifles in hand, ready challenge the enemy on the battlefield.

Yea, cause women have never fought with rifles on a battlefield.

Do they teach history in college?

Yet few feminists are yearning to fight wars or work blue collar jobs with long hours.

Last time I checked, men don't want to do that either. Unless it's a cool revolution. Then everyone signs up. And that includes women, you ignorant fucktard. Russian women had their own tank brigade. And for the record, Sarah, our construction manager, works 16 hour days. So fuck off.

Comparatively fewer women than men work grueling hours on the assembly line. Instead, many want to be key players in powerful companies or work for widely viewed media outlets where their voices can be heard.

This assumes that men *want* to work on assembly lines and *don't* want to work in media where their voices are widely heard. And yet the media's mostly run by men and I've never heard of a guy who loved his assembly line job.

A purely feminist society would dramatically change the family structure. In nature, females develop an inherent relationship with their young by bearing, nursing, and protecting them at a young age.

And drowning them. Oh wait, sorry, I mean, every woman is naturally happy and joyful at the thought of having and raising children all by herself without any support from friends, family, or her husband. It's natural that way.

This is why some of our earliest childhood memories involve, not our father, but our mother.

No, it's because your dad was gone all the time, dude. I've got just as many early memories of my dad as my mom. They worked the same hours.

Most fathers have a desire to provide for the wife and the children, and are often expected at the bare minimum to put food on the table.

Whereas women don't care if there's food on the table, and never help provide it.

Mothers nourish their children, and if these caring mothers were placed in the work force, we force traditional family standards to be the exact opposite of what they are today.

Dude, did he just say that mothers aren't in workforce today?

It would be far from the truth to say that women are not entitled to have high-power positions in the work force or successful careers in the military. But in a world where feminism holds the reigns of society, we overhaul the design of the family unit, weaken the effect of feminine sexuality and introduce the possibility of having our daughters, sisters and mothers fight on the front lines and work grueling jobs.

Who designed this family unit? You know what some of the oldest forms of "family units" were? Polyandry and polygamy, and big groups of kin living and working together and helping raise all the kids together. If you want to argue "design" my poor chiklit, then you'd need to argue that one woman raising her children all by herself is the most *unnatural* of family units.

I love this bit, too about weakening "the effect of feminine sexuality." Is he implying that he doesn't find butch women sexy? I'm telling you, he'll get that BDSM gear and change his mind.

And wake up, honey. Women already work grueling jobs. Some women work 12-16 hours days just like some men. As for women fighting on the front lines, again, they already are and have, usually either in guerilla units or cross-dressing as men. Women fight and die just like men. We also fight and die in childbirth. There's lots of fighting and dying, and feminism probably won't change any of that, unless it's to get women better medical care so they aren't dying in childbirth as much.

I'm not here to say what is right or wrong, but those who are fighting for equality need to keep in mind the changes that may occur if society adopted a true feminist perspective.

Which, being a woman and a feminist, he knows all about. Oh, wait...

For those who think a feminist society would be utopia, the perfect society is anything but perfect. If women choose to fight for equality, they should be careful what they wish for.

Smackdown, bitch!

Gosh, I love this stuff. I bet he's getting laid, like, all the time. Boys who think I'm weak and dependent and spend 8 hours every night getting ready for a date and don't know how to shoot a rifle are soooo sexy.

(via Pandagon)

Fat Women Don't Date, And Other Laughable Illusions

I put myself on the scale the other day at the gym and was elated to learn that I weighed 195 lbs.

Because I'm a chronic weight-obsessed person (less so now, as I get older and more confident), I'd been thinking for the last year that I was about 20 lbs heavier. When I look in the mirror, no matter what my actual weight, I usually think I'm about 20 lbs heavier. Because I've spent the majority of my life either On A Diet or Thinking About How I Should Be On A Diet, I'm very good at juding what other people weigh, but always misjudge myself.

The lowest weight I ever remember being was in the 7th grade when I weighed 170 lbs. I have not seen that weight since, for good reason. I mean, I was in the 7th grade. My highest weight when I was 18 was 270, all of it gained while I tried to extricate myself from a not-so-great relationship in which I hoped he might break up with me if I gained enough weight. For the record, ladies, he didn't. I had to get out the old fashioned way and do all the breaking up myself, for the third time, and stick to my guns this time.

Minus the crappy relationship, I dropped the weight in a year and got down to 180, which is my comfort weight, my size 12, my I'm-in-shape-and-can-bike-ride-20-miles weight.

What that means is that I've actually spent most of my life between 190 and 200 lbs. I'm 5'9. Yes, I'm big in the hips and shoulders. Yes, in grade school I was a chubby dork and largely ignored by boys unless we were "just friends."

Once I hit highschool, not so much. I weighed 270 and couldn't even get rid of a guy.

It isn't about the weight, no matter how many years I've spent beating myself up about it and telling myself that's why the Aryan boys didn't run after me in droves. In fact, post-highschool, I never lacked for partners. I boldly told my internet-dating prospectives that I was 200 lbs. They mostly didn't blink. The ones who did weren't worth my time anyway.

I spent six years mostly-single as a matter of choice, not for lack of prospects. When you come out of a bad relationship, you've gotta be real keen that the next time around, you don't start the cycle all over again. I needed to go on my own journey, figure out my strengths, and be absolutely certain that I could not only choose a better partner, but have the strength to walk away without going through a 100 lb weight gain and chain smoking in order to "just get through it." I turned a lot of very good guys down. I'm still good friends with some of them.

So when I saw this article about a woman who was 5'5, 200 lbs and got rejected by a pretty regular sort of dating service because she was "overweight" I was pretty stunned.

She said she told a LunchDates counselor in a phone interview she weighed a little less than 200 pounds. "About a half-hour later, I got a call from her, and she said, 'I'm sorry. We can't help you because you're overweight.' Just like that. I think what really upset me is that it was done strictly by numbers," Traynor said.

"We can't help you." You're kidding me, right? There's no guy out there (let's keep this strictly hetero for the moment) who'd date a woman who weighs 200 lbs???

Hold a moment while I laugh.

That is the biggest bag of utter horseshit I've ever heard. It's just not true.

Traynor said that she liked the personal nature of it, adding there is nothing in its Web site about weight requirements.

Gee, I hope not. Most people who meet me think I'm average-to-plump. Imagine a website that said that any woman over 150lbs need not apply. Too bad for the boys!

And I sure as hell can't imagine a site that would turn away a man for being "just under" 200 lbs.

"I just don't have the people for everybody. Whether it's age or body type, religion, hobbies, if someone asked us for something we can't do we try to be honest about it," Sack said.

And yet I really can't imagine her calling back and saying, "You're Jewish. We can't help you." She'd say, "We don't have any good matches right now, but we'll keep you on file."