Book covers

I’ve come across a perfect example of the sort of book cover art I will not be using for my finished novels. Now, it’s not that I think these are bad covers — they just aren’t to my taste. This sort of loud, sensationalist, huge screaming title book cover is something that I hate in American publishing styles. They look like they promise thrills! and heightened emotion and tension that never lets up! and crashing climaxes both dramatic and you-know-what! and basically look like the book they cover will explode in your hands! Grant you these are covers specifically for ebooks. But they look just like the covers of a lot of paper books. What can I say, this stuff isn’t me. My stories are rather deficient in the sort of exciting action scenes that have carried over into books from the movies and video games, that that people seem to be expecting now everywhere. (I’m waiting for the first presidential election to feature CGI and the candidates battling it out on tv in mecha-suits.)

Anyway, I’m sorry to make such a horrible example of this guy — it’s just that I couldn’t resist a complete display of the sort of book cover art I don’t like. Well, what do you like, you hussy? I hear you ask. Well, stuff like this. Admit that is cool. It’s simple, dramatic, yet understated at the same time. This one is nice, too. These covers of some books by an Iranian author are gorgeously understated.

And here’s my favorite style of all! Bright colors, simple design, no ambiguity or misleading sensationalism… I think I’ve found a winner for my science fiction bildungsroman set on a colony on a planet in a galaxy far far away. :twisted:

Car Follies, and other things

Okay, it’s my fault for waiting until almost the last day to get my car inspected. Virginia has this detailed car inspection thing you have to do every year. (Why did I move from Florida again? Oh yeah. No job. Anyway…) My regular mechanic being booked forever, as well as the guy he recommended I call, I ended up getting up at the crack of dawn today and going to National Ripoff Tire Chain. The inspection itself is a fixed fee, but this place has done “things” that cost extra before. I told them to give me an estimate first if anything came up.

Well, my car being a tad elderly, something came up. Several somethings. I took one look at their estimate and said “give me the rejection sticker, I want to talk to my regular mechanic.” The rejection sticker gives you fifteen days to fix whatever it is.

So I took my car and its new pink sticker with the giant black circle with a slash through it (could they be any more humiliating?) and went to my mechanic and showed him the estimate from National Ripoff Tire Chain. When he stopped laughing, he got on his smartphone and checked some prices and told me to come back on the 11th and he could fix everything for less than half what National Ripoff Tire Chain wanted. So I get to drive around with a big black and pink zero on my car, yay.

But that’s not all. I had to renew my registration as well. Virginia gives you a discount if you do it on the internet. But I’d waited until (again) almost the last day which meant I needed to print out the temporary registration paper to carry around so I wouldn’t get a ticket for not having my registration on me. (They mail them out.) But I had been needing to get a black ink cartridge for my printer for quite some time, so it was off to Staples.

Did I forget to mention I had been at National Ripoff Tire Chain for nearly four hours even though I was the second person there when they opened the doors and a bunch of people came ahead of me? Yeah.

Well I got home and printed off my registration. Then I remembered my city parking pass needed renewing as well. So I walked three blocks to city hall to get the parking pass. It is now after 1 pm and I’m hungry. So I walked to Hardees because it was nearby and cheap. I walked a lot today.

Well that was my day. In writing news, I bought a big five-subject spiral bound notebook. I’m going to try some handwriting to see if that will get my creative juices flowing. I just realized that that phrase is kind of disgusting. Think about it.

In brief

Boy I’ve been in a bad mood lately. I’ve got to get up early tomorrow, so I’ll make this quick.

I’ve got to write more. I think that’s what’s wrong with me. No, not blog-writing, fiction writing. Not that I plan to blog less. I just think that I’ve been grumpy because I’ve had a bit of, not writer’s block, but a strange reluctance to work on any of my stories. I don’t know, it makes me cranky not to write, and then I’m too cranky to write, so I get crankier. Meh.

Anyway, that’s all for now.

Today in Liberal Fascism

[Authors note: this and probably many future posts on subjects in this vein will use the terms "conservative" and "liberal" to delineate two kinds of American cultural and political thought. I find these words unsatisfactory, but I haven't been able to think of any better ones to use. For example, "sphincter" is perfect... for many aspects of both sides of this socio-political seesaw. "Maw of the Underworld" and "the Crawling Chaos Nyarlathotep" also have nice rings to them, but they could both be applied to both sides. It is truly a frustrating dilemma, so until I settle on some more perfect terms I will just use the bland and basically meaningless "conservative" and "liberal."]

I suppose it’s no secret that I have lost my patience with conservatives. But that doesn’t mean I want to snuggle up to liberals just yet. They’re just so… icky. (Icky seems to be my word of the week. I don’t know, I’ve been feeling sort of nauseous and feverish lately. Anyway.) Also, they’re kind of haters of freedom in their own way. Just like conservatives! However, while conservatives are mostly hung up on keeping women, non-whites, gays, and Muslims under control, liberals seem to want to grind fucking everybody under the heels of their giant (sustainable, fair-trade, cruelty-free organic leather) jackboots. But gently. In a caring, eco-friendly manner.

Anyway, when I point out in the comment thread of a liberal blog that I will read no longer that wanting stronger hate-speech laws is not wise because such laws can and will be used against anyone, not just nasssty conservatives, and the blog owner tells me I made a “straw man” argument and also used the tone argument against me (because goddess forbid I not be nice when faced with rank stupidity like “we need stronger hate speech laws”), I know that liberals are still the idiots they always have been, and all is right with the world.

Boys are icky and stupid

When I first came across this review of the Hunger Games movie, I thought, “Finally! A review that doesn’t fawn all over it and use it as some sort of tired metaphor for ‘America, today, our future!'” But in reading I found that the actual topic wasn’t so much how the movie is just rehash of all those Seventies movies of an evil decadent future America where they play deadly games, but how we should just accept that boys won’t read books written by women: author Steve Sailer relates how his young son quit reading the Harry Potter books “in disgust” when he found out J.K. Rowling was a woman as if this action on his kid’s part, of rejecting something he was enjoying because it was written by an icky girl, was no big deal and somehow acceptable.

America, what kind of sons are you bringing up? Is this what you want? To produce young men who will reject anything a woman makes “in disgust”? Do you really think it’s cute when your kid refuses to have anything to do with something because “a girl did it!” Let me tell you something. It’s not cute. A proper father wouldn’t stand for it. If it were my son, and I were a father (hell, if I were a mother — my mother would have raised holy hell if I’d pulled some unreasonable trick like that), and my son came to me and said “I can’t read this, a lady wrote it”… every night after dinner he would have been made to read a single chapter of the rest of the book or books. Out loud. To myself and my spouse. And there would have been no television or other “reward” until he was finished. With the entire book. Yes, that would probably scar his tender soul for life, but you know what? Some scars are deserved.

Damn it all to hell, America, you do not raise your kids like this. You do not just accept whatever lame sexist bullshit they learn from tv or their peers or some dumbass adult. You don’t just chuckle and say “boys will be boys” because those boys will grow up to be lonely, angry young men who don’t understand why they aren’t happy. Why they can’t get a date. Or why their relationships always founder because of mutual contempt. Because women don’t respect guys who think they are lesser beings and treat them like shit. Oh, they might fear them, and the men in their lives might think fear=respect, but it doesn’t. Women are people, not pets or dolls or evil monsters. And they shouldn’t have to hide behind initials because some little boy-man somewhere is raising his son to think girls have cooties. No wonder our country is in such a mess. We’re raising little sexist, racist monsters.

My only comment on Trayvon Martin

You know, I had started this whole long thing earlier today about the shooting to death of Trayvon Martin. I had all these reasons and lists and… you know what, fuck it. I am disgusted. By the lies, by the evasions, by the whining about “what about meeeee???” from certain quarters. I’m sick of it. The making fun of his name, the mocking of his parents, the frantic searching for anything to make it look like the kid deserved to be shot (OMG! He might have attacked George Zimmerman first! With, um, his fists. That totally lets Zimmerman off the hook for being the one with the gun, right?), the weak attempt to disown Zimmerman because his mother was from Peru as a get whitey out of racism accusations card, the bizarre deflections onto “all those other black kids killed by other black kids” as if that had fuckall to do with what happened to Trayvon Martin — all of it.

I’m also sick of the complete ignorance about the state of Florida where I was born and raised and basically lived for nearly fifty fucking years, most of them in Miami, and the last ten in the Central Florida area until I moved to Virginia in 2009. In short, no, asshole, Sanford is not a “seedy little gator hunting town.” It’s part of the Greater Orlando area and also the administrative center of Seminole County. I got my associates degree at Seminole Community College (now Seminole State College). I had friends who lived there. I lived there for a while. It’s mostly very bland and suburban. It’s not perfect, but it’s not a cute stereotype of wacky Florida either.

But enough of Reality 101. Thanks to the incompetence of the Sanford police department, we’ll probably never get the truth now. I still can’t believe they just let Zimmerman go. Sorry, even if it was an accident — like the gun just went off by itself because evil elves or I don’t know, there was still a dead body on the ground and you don’t just send the gun owner home, you take him into custody. I don’t even know if racism had anything to do with it — this looked more like sheer stupidity. They even had the 911 call where the dispatcher told him not to get out of the car. (Or rather, said “we don’t need you to do that.” Which puzzles me. What, is this Japan all of a sudden? English is a declarative language and our culture allows us to state things bluntly. When your volunteer cop who already had a reputation for being, say, a little over-alert, asks if he should leave his car and physically confront an unknown “suspicious” male you don’t kinda sorta say he can maybe not do that, you say “NO. STAY IN THE CAR.”)

But it all comes down to in any other circumstance with a dead kid on the ground who had no gun, and a man standing over him with the death weapon in his hand, the man would be in the back of the squad car with cuffs on. George Zimmerman had the gun, Trayvon Martin ended up dead of being shot by it, and Zimmerman was just told to go home because the cops were “satisfied” with his story. What the hell is that. That’s wrong is what that is. I don’t care who punched who. I don’t care about that stupid law (a law that apparently allows someone to shoot an unarmed person is a stupid law). I don’t care what ethnic groups were involved. I don’t care what your politics are. I don’t care about white people status games using dead ethnics as pawns. I don’t care about your need to deflect your racism and/or fears of being called a racist onto someone else. I don’t care.

Update: okay, from the conservative side, here is the most level-headed analysis of the case I’ve come across so far. I really haven’t come across anything useful from liberal blogs, though right now I’m tending to side with them when it comes to condemning the disgusting racist things many conservative bloggers are saying. Basically, just because the kid may have smoked pot and talked smack among his friends doesn’t mean he deserved to die. Attack a guy who has a gun? Your life is in your hands. But that still doesn’t get the guy with the gun off — it’s not like Zimmerman had to be there in the first place. He should have stayed in the car and waited for the cops.

But. Liberal bloggers really aren’t helping either. As Steve points out, liberal restrictions on gun laws and their tendency to want to coddle criminals just ends up hurting the people they claim to want to help most. Conservatives may be jerks, but liberals are useless.

Fun With Film

I bought a cheap-o film converter for twenty bucks at CVS. Now I can do something with all those old negatives I have in a box. Here’s my first effort:

mac and cheese

(Click for bigger.) I took this about ten or eleven years ago when I was living in Central Florida. I think I had moved from my studio apartment to a one bedroom that was still pretty small, but not as small as the studio. The image quality isn’t the greatest, but what do you want for twenty bucks. Also, the negatives were in a box and had gone through several moves and storage in a variety of temperatures. These were at least in negative protectors. The converter also does slides and photos, but I don’t have any of the former (I haven’t gotten into slide film yet) and I have a regular scanner for photos. Though I wonder if just using this will be easier, at least to get quick copies up on the internet. Note: it only does 35mm film (again, what do you want for twenty bucks), but I’ve got a pile of that.

Well there’s another trend in publishing I’m going to avoid

This whole “historical figure or fictional character plus some sort of monster” mashup, so far represented (to my knowledge) by Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, is something I had felt kind of “meh” about. I don’t really get those kind of wheels-within-wheels hipster-ironical cultural games. For the vampire one, I don’t know why they picked Lincoln. Why him instead of, I don’t know, Benjamin Franklin, or Chief Seattle, or Amelia Earhart? As for Pride and Prejudice & etc., I enjoyed the actual Austen novel (the one that had no zombies). I don’t like zombies, so I have no interest in reading the new “version.”

And I’ve found something that just made any remnants of interest in these novels that I might have had vanish like a hipster’s reputation when his buddies see him drinking a microbrew instead of Pabst Blue Ribbon:

In Pride and Predjudice and Zombies, we have Wickham being “punished” for his misdeeds by being severely beaten and developing quadriplegia, which is deemed just punishment, and Lydia is punished for her supposed sluttiness by being doomed to a life of caring for Wickham. The book makes sure to dwell on his incontinence to make sure that readers get the message, which is: Lydia is a slut, so she should be shamed and punished, and being a caregiver to a person with disabilities is a punishment and a burden. So, why isn’t this funny? Because this is what people actually think, right now, in the world. That sluts need to be punished, that developing quadriplegia is a tragedy, that caring for someone with quadriplegia is an impossible burden.

But wait! There’s more! Here’s a rundown of some elements of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters:

[the book] aside from featuring some rather horrific racism and colonialism, gives Colonel Brandon a “cruel affliction” in the form of “perverse tentacles” attached to his face. When discussing his unsuitability as a marriage prospect, the girls make sure to stress how “repulsive” he is, and they throw in some ageism when they suggest that a 27 year old unmarried woman might settle for him, but a 17 year old girl certainly shouldn’t. Adding gas to the fire, Elinor suggests that a woman who was “say, visually impaired somehow” would make an ideal match for Brandon.

I’m going to just say here what the actual fuck. You know what, when you show yourself to be more judgmental and prudish and repressive than people obviously were in fucking early nineteenth century England, than you have a fucking problem and I’m not going to give my money or time to your fuckery.

Just to give a rundown of what fate Jane Austen metes out to her — not sluttish, but too trusting, silly, and thoughtless — character Lydia, who runs off with the weak and venial Wickham in the belief that he loves her and they’re going to get married, it is this: Elizabeth enlists the help of Mr. Darcy, who gets together with the girls’ father and uncle — I think, it’s been awhile and my copy of the novel is in paper form and is in a box somewhere — and they basically go fetch the couple, make Wickham marry Lydia properly, and set him up in a job so he can be a good husband. Lydia ends up thinking she’s come well out of the deal because she got married first! And everyone else keeps their mouths shut to keep the peace. Because at that time and place reputation was everything, and people knew that treating a silly girl and a weak man like criminals and whipping them out of town or something would not have done the slightest bit of good and would in fact have made everyone miserable. As for the second book, yes, Colonel Brandon was rather older than the other bachelors, but he was in no way unsuitable as husband material, and in the 1995 movie version he was played by Alan “Voice of a Sex God” Rickman (yes, Professor Snape), so utterly fuck you, author of the Monsters book, in a most uncomfortable and unlikely place.

As for the ableism, the treatment of the handicapped and people with non-standard physical appearances  as less than human and as targets of mockery, I have no words. Since none of that was in either of the original works, I don’t know why the author decided to add them — but I can guess. “We all know they were really like that back in the ‘good old days’ so why not throw it in there? Just for the lulz.” Because obviously, Jane Austen was writing in the full knowledge that people in reading her books two hundred years later would know all about the “real” Eighteenth Century Britain, so she covered it up and wrote all nicey-nice. But no. You can’t take refuge in that sort of mendacity, my babies. This stuff was written in the 21st century, by you. Own it. It says many things, none of them good, about 21st century Western society that the sort of pure hatred of women (and as the blog author notes, of people with disabilities) as displayed in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, is okay enough to put in what are supposed to be light-hearted comedy horror novels.

I will hack no more forever

I got tired of trying to do something with Textpattern so I’ve moved over here. Call it laziness. And yes, I’m off my own server — that’s going to be used mainly for storage and archiving my stuff and some other projects. WordPress.com offers lots of nice things for free and my one main complaint, that I couldn’t seem to set up a Paypal donation button, is no longer a problem. (I don’t have one up now because I’m okay with funds; but the main thing with WordPress.com is they don’t allow click-thru ads or something but they do have a work-around which was so simple I am embarrassed to admit it didn’t occur to me. Anyway.)

So the Twisted Spinster is back. More twisted than ever, I promise. As you can see if you scroll down the main page I’ve already put up a few posts. Feel free to read and comment.