Which leads me to my bigoted statement of the day – God, I hate women. Especially groups of women. The steady frustration has been building in me since early this year, and it was just as well they threw me out before I blew up all over their extremely sugary parade.
If there’s one trouble with the Harry Potter fandom, it is that it is predominantly female. Adult discussion groups, in particular, are overrun with oestrogen. That in itself is irritating: a living demonstration of subtle sexism at work. Comparable fandoms of Phillip Pullman, Tolkien, or Frank Herbert, for example, don’t seem to have this problem… but let it get out that hiding behind those asexual initials of “J” and “K” is (gasp) a woman, and the men leave in droves. And they’ll come up with any number of rationalisations: it’s not “hard SF” (as if Narnia is); it doesn’t show rigour in the little details (as if Dune does); it’s childish (dude, if you think Star Wars is the height of maturity…) etc. But this is a rant for another day.
One thing you can be sure of when large groups of women gather for anything other than a specifically feminist purpose, they will behave true to every bloody stereotype. Cliques and exclusiveness? Check. Fawning praise of the object of the gathering (and themselves)? Check. Pathological avoidance of open disagreement? Check. Ever-smiling back-handed bitchiness? Check.
Perhaps I’m a little slow on the uptake, but I didn’t begin to notice this stuff on Sugar Quill until early this year – but it sure got old fast.
Let me give you an example of a discussion that got me scathingly polite warnings from the moderators. On SQ, any character formerly seen as one of the good guys who suddenly starts sprouting dark shades of grey has its fangirls willing to defend his unsullied (in their minds) persona to death. Consequently, there are no hotter wars than those on such threads.
The Percy thread is a good example. One poster went to great pains to list the incidents of all the books as seen from Percy’s point of view in an effort to prove that his desertion of his family was completely rational and not at all disloyal.
CoS– Things are seriously wrong at Hogwarts. A deadly monster is on the loose and all the people who are supposed to fix it, the teachers, the headmaster, and Percy himself are unable to do anything except try to limit the damage. His girlfriend Penelope is attacked and petrified. At this critical moment, Dumbledore leaves the school even more vulnerable than before and there is talk of closing it.
In other news, the twins stole Dad’s car and didn’t really get in trouble for it. Then, obviously following their bad example, Ron and Harry stole the car and created an incident that nearly exposed the entire wizarding world. Ron never did anything like this before. If Harry wasn’t such a good Quidditch player, Percy’d worry about his influence on Ron….
I couldn’t let that fly, obviously. This is what I wrote in reponse –
I do believe this is a very selective and highly biased view of Percy’s CoS-year. After all, Harry saved Ginny’s life at the end, saved her from possession and annihilation by Voldemort – doesn’t that count for anything in Percy’s book? Or does he think even then that his sister is lying, that Voldemort never possessed her?
As for not being able to protect the school – very laudable instincts for Percy to have, indeed (if he really did have them, but let’s give you that). So what does Percy conclude from this? Never trust Dumbledore again, and let’s trust the Ministry instead (which was revealed in CoS to have been responsible for expelling the innocent Hagrid, and to be rather incompetent in general). Never mind that the Minister is in Lucius Malfoy’s pocket, and that Lucius Malfoy is the man who tried to kill Ginny AND got Dumbledore fired by threatening to curse the Board of Directors. And next time some monster is thought to be on the loose, let’s just deny it and refuse to believe it, because the world is too pretty a place to allow it.
Forum moderators got in touch with me for this one: “Tone it down, respect other people’s feelings, play nice.”
My response was along the lines of O RLY?, obviously, and I went right on. Woman, if you’re threatened by someone disagreeing with you, what are you on a discussion forum for? Go build a shrine fansite.
Tune in for tomorrow’s thrilling conclusion of the SQ saga: I’ll tell you all about the latest squabble that got me ejected and my posts modded out completely.
… and I am going mad. Despite my disenchantment with the forums four months ago, I am back on the SugarQuill because, what, you expect me to get through these last superstretchy looooong hours without a support group? I’m a wreck. I’ve just nearly cried reading “The Day The Music Died (And I Got Farked)” again.
Oh, and there we were all in one place,
A generation lost in space
With no time left to start again.
For this final book I’m going to a release party – a first for me. I’ll be at Borders (I can just hear you going ‘lame-o’) from 7 pm onwards, mingling and trying to calm my jangling nerves. I will also be in freaky goth make-up courtesy of ubergay (and ubersweet, actually) colleague, who promises he can do it in 10 minutes. Honestly, this is like new year’s eve, night-before-first-day-of-school and night-before-dentist’s-appointment, combined.
And in the streets: the children screamed,
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed.
But not a word was spoken…
Saurabh knows something. Something beginning with a certain letter of the alphabet that I won’t reveal here, except to say that it’s a letter Jo Rowling seems to like very much indeeed. I’m dying from guessing what that letter could mean, what follows it, what he knows.
But february made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver.
Bad news on the doorstep;
I couldn’t take one more step.
That’s all I know about the 7th book, I swear. I don’t think I’ve ever been so pure white for any other HP book… I read Goblet of Fire before I read the first, second and third books. For Order of the Phoenix I found out about Harry’s trial a couple of days in advance. For Half-Blood Prince, I knew the chapter titles beforehand, which pretty much meant my suspicions of Dumbledore dying were completely confirmed.
Did you write the book of love,
And do you have faith in God above,
If the Bible tells you so?
Do you believe in rock ’n roll,
Can music save your mortal soul…
But this time, the extent of my spoilage is ONE FREAKIN’ LETTER. Thank you for the applause. It feels good.
Do you recall what was revealed
The day the music died?
And now from some last-minute crystal gazing. Just two thoughts from reading Prisoner of Azkaban yesterday, actually -
Dementors will be used to destroy one or more horcruxes.
Trelawney will make a third real prophecy.
A long, long time ago…
I can still remember
How that music used to make me smile.
Ok, kids. Goodbye. This time I really do mean it – the spoilers are EVERYWHERE and I’m beginning to crack myself… It’s off the internet and back to work. See you on the other side.
I went down to the sacred store
Where I’d heard the music years before,
But the man there said the music wouldn’t play.
Now, I know I said I wouldn’t be back, but I am, and for good reason. I’ve got two links to recommend (no spoilers whatsoever, completely safe links):
Go to Mistful’s LJ to read the BEST Phoenix movie post EVER.
And longtime favourite fan writer Copperbadge pens an original story about the fictional fan community of a fictional series of books called ‘Carverquest’. It’s absolutely hilarious in addition to being a stunning portrait of online fandom.
I was there, man, I was there through it all. Let me tell you something about fucking fandom.
It’s not like the Carverquest books had the sanest fandom to begin with. You had your wanks, your sockpuppets, your cosplayers who got at one anothers’ throats over who looked more like Dux Carver. Man, there was some hardcore porn in the fandom, all the wank over the underage kiddies having sex, who will think of the children? You had feuds, you do get your standard fandom feud. Seriously, the Harry Potter fandom looked at us and thought, Jesus, at least I’m not a Carverquest fan.
A tug at my upstretched arm, and I step out of the relentless sun into the cool shade of the grocer’s awning. Incense, black tea and oil in the air. Grimy glass jars full of salty treats at my eye level – sweets are nowhere to be found. The grocer smiles with yellowing teeth, smooth brown head shining under the lone bulb.
“A block of jaggery,” Mother snaps from somewhere above.
Thud. The distant spice of cane fields tickles my nostrils. Then the rustle of old paper, the low whirr as the ball of twine unravels at the grocer’s command, scattering discordant particles of woody dust when he snips off a parsimonious length to tie the package off.
“Goodbye, child” he says to me, his tongue an unnatural red between his black lips.
Ulalume was her name, and skipping rope was her game.
She was a little black child in a faded white sundress, maybe seven or eight years old – the dress and the child, both. She skipped in the most surprising ways through the most surprising times: sideways in the morning rain, high and floaty in the springtime, backflips through war and running skips when the bees chased her. Sometimes she climbed trees – the tall straight ones that only knew to grow straight up with no complicated networks of branches, and she stayed till past sundown to see if she could catch dew happening. But that wasn’t very often.
Ulalume was her name, and skipping rope was her game.
And when time came for her to go home, she left behind a mist of sundrops that condensed gently into the lake, each plop of each drop as clear as the thwack of her skipping rope.
Hamadryad (Bewitching Brews)
Hamadryads are born into a tree that serves as both a home and an anchor for the creature’s soul. They are sometimes tricksters, sometimes seducers, sometimes helpful and benign, but they are always fierce and furious protectors of the natural world. Seven dry woods with mossy lichen and a gentle breeze of forest flowers.
…. I’m sorry, but this one smells exactly like Iodex to me. I tried to write a funny piece about it, but I can’t keep a straight face, and everybody knows the worst jokes are always told by laughing people.
I discovered BPAL scents through M-, who is ‘Alchemilla’ on the BPAL forums (I am Wendelin, but this information is useless to you because I haven’t posted even once yet). I am HOOKED, HOOKED, HOOKED on the perfumes. I’ve tried about 12 Imp’s Ears (the tiniest little bottles of oils with helpful little wands in them, probably less than 1 ml) – hated some, loved others – in case you can’t tell, I hated Rage and loved Ulalume while that Iodex one just makes me laugh. Interestingly, the perfumes change on you. I’ve just discovered that Shattered, which I thought smelled like rotting drainwater the first time I tried it, is a really pleasing light floral and aquatic scent that I want to buy. And apparently what smells like one thing on you will smell completely different on another person… which is giving me wicked ideas about finally putting Saurabh to good use. If he goes to work smelling like white tea, lilies, moss and sandalwood (ah, I see I have made my perfume tastes public) in the service of my own little private olafactory experiment, so be it.
Even more addictive than the scents, which drive you mad trying to figure out exactly what that little note of something-or-the-other in the background is, is the website itself. Is that heaven or what? It wakes up my inner Goth, it sates my hunger for all things mythological and literary, it pleasures my inner geek to a hundred little thrills. I mean, look at me, cooing about my inner Goth! I love that it’s not organised in a perfectly orderly, easy-to-locate fashion. BPAL’s website is Paris: it invites you come take a walk in it, discover its secrets, lose your way and just keep wandering simply to soak in the beauty all around you.
So they sent her home.
This is a superb lecture from a working scientist (approx. 1 hr 30 min). Dr. Alan Walker comes across as a creative, hardworking, and humble man. His demeanour invites contemplation, coaxes thought, and really helps you listen to what he’s describing. Don’t miss the Q&A session at the end – his responses to audience’s questions show his immense knowledge and experience, and once again, his willingness to share what he knows in a friendly and non-threatening manner stands out.
Listen and you will learn why human testes are outside the body (not just the lower temperature explanation) and why men have nipples. I found his opinion that we are Homo Erectus (that the species didn’t go extinct) to be a blast of fresh air. He thinks taxonomy is overcrowded! Occam’s Razor, anyone?
Be prepared for a bunch of evolutionary biology jargon – this is a man who does not talk down to his audience – but he never gets incomprehensible. Watch in awe as he rigorously warns the audience whenever the subject matter strays into speculative or controversial territory – and tells you exactly what the debate is so you’re not lost.
This is as close as you can get to a religious experience.