I love his granddaughter and I don’t want her feelings to be hurt by announcing on social media that I am expecting my first grandchild. She is 8 years old and knows that I am her father’s stepmother, but I still don’t want to hurt her. Whenever she comes over, my husband and I both spoil her (like grandparents should), but she has always favored her “Papa.”
The problem for me is that I am much younger than my husband, and I didn’t want my social media friends to think that I was old enough to have an 8-year-old grandchild.
How can I say that I am expecting my first grandchild without making her feel like she doesn’t count?
— Grandma to Be
Dear Grandma: I appreciate your sensitivity about this situation, but I have news for you — you are already a “Grandma.” You have been one for the past eight years, and for you to try to find a way to deny this now that you are about to have a “real” grandchild in your life is all about your own vanity.
Your young granddaughter wouldn’t be the only person surprised (and possibly hurt) by the revelation that she isn’t your grandchild. Her parents, especially the parent you “helped to raise,” would likely be quite wounded.
I could also venture a guess that the reason your granddaughter has always favored her “Papa” is because you are signaling to her in a variety of ways that she is a placeholder for the real grandchild who will someday come along and claim your heart.
I became a grandmother quite young — at least it seemed so at the time, because I wasn’t prepared for this life stage. But family comes to you in different ways and at different times, whether or not you’re ready (or “old enough”) for it.
And so now the thing to do is to take to social media to announce your joy at the birth of your second grandchild.
Powell’s Books beckoned to us in red, black, and white, like a flag for a new America. One that’s educated, homegrown, and all about sustaining local book culture.
Libraries are where nerds like me go to refuel. They are safe-havens where the polluted noise of the outside world, with all the bullies and bro-dudes and anti-feminist rhetoric, is shut out. Libraries have zero tolerance for bullshit. Their walls protect us and keep us safe from all the bastards that have never read a book for fun.
Juliet is a fat 19yo Puerto Rican lesbian writer from the Bronx, spending her summer in Portland, Oregon, interning with Harlowe Brisbane, the white feminist author of Raging Flower: Empowering your Pussy by Empowering your Mind. Shenanigans ensue, and they are gloriously, heartbreakingly real: a science fiction writing workshop honoring Octavia Butler; a reading at Powell's that goes horribly wrong; a queer POC party in Miami.
Rivera is brilliant on the rollercoaster that is growing up one or more kinds of "other" and trying to be true to your authentic self before you have quite figured out what that is.
You are your own person, Juliet. If it’s a phase, so what? If it’s your whole life, who cares? You’re destined to evolve and understand yourself in ways you never imagined before.
She is also extremely acute on the specific failures of white feminism. At a moment in history when our alliances may or may not save the world, it's on white women to understand how our thoughtlessness can inflict deep injuries on our best allies. And it's on white women to stop that shit.
This is a first novel and unpolished, but it's a huge shiny diamond full of light and color and my favorite thing I've read in the challenge so far.
Netflix, ABC Portrayals Of Autism Still Fall Short, Critics Say
You can read or listen to this piece, which is about "The Good Doctor" and "Atypical".
The novel is at its sharpest and funniest when Amal is reporting his Pakistani parents' reactions to his horrible in-laws:
‘What she means is, we wish you all the luck in the world, Amal, but you must watch your back. Her people look like a bunch of backstabbers. Never trust them for an instant.’
There are also some moving passages where Amal imagines what he and Claud would be like as parents:
Theirs would not be paraded about like Sussex show ponies. There were plenty of cool, funky children they could take as their template.
or what their lives would be like child-free:
They could buy a holiday home abroad. Two. One on each hemisphere if that is what would make her happy. He racks his mind to think of the childless couples they know – not the kids from the office; guys their age and older – but cannot dredge any up. In their immediate circle, there are no trailblazers, only conformists. No matter. They are taste makers, she and him. They can set the precedent.
As with McEwan, though, I found these characters difficult to warm to. Amal and Claud both struck me as joyless corporate drones, preoccupied with status, their world devoid of beauty and pleasure. A technically adroit book, but not for me.
In a classic Tom Haverford move, rather than just write the obligatory you-have-succeeded-as-a-comedian-on-TV book (Bossypants, Girl Walks Into a Bar, I'm Just a Person, Paddle Your Own Canoe, Self-Inflicted Wounds, The Bedwetter, Yes Please... yeah, it's a genre), Ansari teamed up with Stanford sociologist Eric Klinenberg to figure out both why technologically-mediated dating is such an unrelieved horror show and, reading between the lines, why Ansari was finding it difficult to meet a nice woman.
The resulting book reminded me a bit of Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything in that it's as curious and interesting as it is funny. Ansari's quizzical sweetness shines especially in his reporting on the specific dating scenes in Buenos Aires, Doha, Paris and Tokyo.
In Japan, posting any pictures of yourself, especially selfie-style photos, comes off as really douchey. Kana, an attractive, single twenty-nine-year-old, remarked: “All the foreign people who use selfies on their profile pic? The Japanese feel like that’s so narcissistic.” In her experience, pictures on dating sites would generally include more than two people. Sometimes the person wouldn’t be in the photo at all. I asked what they would post instead.
“A lot of Japanese use their cats,” she said.
“They’re not in the photo with the cat?” I asked.
“Nope. Just the cat. Or their rice cooker.”
“I once saw a guy posted a funny street sign,” volunteered Rinko, thirty-three. “I felt like I could tell a lot about the guy from looking at it.”
This kind of made sense to me. If you post a photo of something interesting, maybe it gives some sense of your personality? I showed a photo of a bowl of ramen I had taken earlier in the day and asked what she thought of that as a profile picture. She just shook her head. OH, I GUESS I CAN’T HOLD A CANDLE TO THAT STREET SIGN DUDE, HUH?
For me, the most engaging part of the book was seeing insights that later ended up as jokes in Master of None. I endorse and seek to emulate this kind of creative reuse! As for meeting a nice woman, the gossip rags tell me that Ansari was in a relationship with pastrychef Courtney McBloom for a while, but they parted amicably last year. So it goes.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My stepfather’s grandson’s wedding is black-tie optional, and my stepfather’s children are renting him a tux. My mom, who is 90, thought she would wear a nice pants outfit with a dressy jacket, and is resistant to buying something new. She has been through a lot this year (treatment for lymphoma, cancer surgery, and she recently fell and broke her pelvis, so she is in a lot of pain).
I and my three sisters (my mom’s only children) live on the opposite coast, but we are now being pressured by the mother of the groom (my stepfather’s daughter) and my stepfather to see that she is outfitted appropriately -- not just for the wedding, but also for the rehearsal dinner (cocktail attire) and the wedding breakfast to be held the day after the wedding.
They have also expressed concerns about the shoes my mother prefers (very safe, comfortable, but not at all dressy). My sister even heard my stepfather tell her that if she doesn’t get something new to wear, she can stay home and not attend the wedding or other events.
My mother doesn’t stand up for herself, unfortunately. Two of us will be traveling to see her soon, and plan to take her shopping. My sister is even purchasing a few things for my mom that she will bring with her, in the hopes that maybe something will fit and work for this event.
Personally, I think it is extremely superficial of them to dictate what she wears (especially since the wedding is six months from now!). If it were me, I would just be thrilled they are both well enough to attend, regardless of how they are dressed.
Is my mother wrong to resist the request to buy something more formal? Or should the step-family back off?
GENTLE READER: What happened to the “optional” part?
While Miss Manners always advocates dressing properly for the occasion -- and generally abhors “optional,” as it just invites chaos -- the particulars of your mother’s dress seem to be unduly fixated upon here. There is certainly a lot of undue angst being put into this poor woman’s wardrobe that seemingly requires three separate outfits and uncomfortable, possibly dangerous, shoes.
If your mother can reasonably be jollied into the shopping expedition or accepts one of your sister’s choices for one new outfit, fine. But if not, please talk to your stepfather about “backing off.” Surely this cannot really be worth all of this fuss.
I want to write him a summary of the Soviet Army officer's career path, what service branches are available, etc., but nothing I can find tells me the basic stuff. It's all focused on generals and stuff. (Looked on Wiki, looked on Google, neither helped. I found a monograph on dtic.mil that was from 1975 and provided *some* detail, but expected me the reader to know more than I do to make sense of stuff.)
To quote his draft summary: "(1) Early life. Born in 1959, he follows a similar course to Putin (joining the military instead, but attached as an "adviser" to one of the Soviet Bloc countries after a tour in Afghanistan which gave him a scar on his upper right arm from a Taliban attack). He resigned with a TBD officer's rank in the middle of the 1991 coup attempt (a la Putin; he's simply younger) rather than join in the attempt (which he percieved as doomed)."
He's trying to figure it out in more detail than that, but the problem is that he (the player) and I (the GM, one of two, responsible for helping him draw up his character - he does the important work of figuring out policies and stuff, the meat of gameplay, himself) can't find anything much about anything re the company-grade and field-grade officers of the Soviet Army and how they were trained, or how their careers progressed, or anything.
1. As the character was born in 1959, presume he enters officer training from civilian life sometime around 1977. How long is his officer training, and how is it decided whether he goes, say, infantry or airborne troops?
2. What's the career path like from initial officer training (including "what rank does he enter service at?" - the materials I can find state "Lieutenant", but the Soviet Army has 3 Lieutenant ranks!) to, say, battalion command?
3. What additional school-type training would he undergo during that career path, and at what times during his career? (I can help the player figure out good tour-of-duty mixes once I have that information.)
4. What service arms existed in the Soviet Army? I often hear of officers referred to as a "Colonel of Infantry", "Colonel of Air Defense", "Colonel of Strategic Rocket Forces" - but what are the possible options for the "of x" formula?
5. Were ordinary officers even assigned as "advisors" to Warsaw Pact forces, or only Political Officers?
I know these are really detailed questions in some regard. I'm trying to keep them general, but even the general stuff is hard to figure out. My objectives for this are:
B. Figure out what his career would have looked like - where would he have served, at what levels, doing what? (Especially key to figure out when he would have served in Afghanistan.)
C. Figure out if the early life posited is *plausible*.
I thus don't need to know deep details (at least not until a player requests a detailed bio of their Russian adversary from their intel people, at which point I may be back...), but only be able to work out a summary. I can do the hard part of the work myself and with the player, but I need help figuring out the foundational stuff before I begin that.
(Edited to add: Link to something Google *did* dredge up for me, and my note that what I was sent was a draft summary of the character, not a full bio. We'll be working on the full bio once we have the summary agreed to.)
Earlier this week, I finished Alaya Dawn Johnson's The Summer Prince. I have had this book by my bed for months and months and months. I would pick it up, read some, like it, and then get distracted. Finally, I decided it was too good for that kind of treatment and got serious about moving through it.
It is an excellent and fascinating book, even though it never really grabbed me. The worldbuilding is awesome and the depiction of the inner lives of teenagers, affected by the different world they live in and nonetheless completely recognizable as the teenagers of our times, is especially well done. The The prose is beautiful and the evocation of the city is outstanding. The setting is a post-apocalyptic Brazil and effectively everyone is (from our perspective) PoC; Johnson explores class divisions and to some extent national divisions, but the key cultural rift she explores is age.
I can't quite figure out why it didn't have momentum for me, and I expect that will be different for other people. I found it well worth the comparatively slow going, and will probably re-read it at some point.
An Open Letter to All Writing Programmes, Workshops, and Retreats (July 27, 2017)
So here’s a public promise: after I have fulfilled my immediate contractual obligations, I will no longer support in any way any writing-related programme or organisation that does not have a public commitment to and specific timetable for becoming accessible. I will call on other writers to do the same.
All this to say that The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is yet another delightful take on Journey to the West, this time set in the hyper-competitive high schools of the Bay Area. Monkey is now Quentin, a handsome, short, brilliant and very annoying teenager who kept reminding me of Miles Vorkosigan, in a good way. Genie herself has a surprising connection with him, but is a three-dimensional character in her own right, with a sense of honor and complicated relationships with her parents and friends. Her efforts to balance college applications with supernatural obligations had a Buffy-ish resonance, and the various Gods and demons showing up in modern America will please Neil Gaiman fans. I found this a quick and enjoyable read.
Like Bad Indians, this is an intricate quilt of a book, part memoir, part poem, part dream. It's hard to imagine how it could be otherwise. The loss of a parent is a loss of meaning. For indigenous people, this is doubly true. Lillian Alexie was one of the last fluent speakers of Salish. Her death robs her son, and the world, of an entire universe.
This book, like Hawking radiation, is an almost-undetectable glow of meaning escaping from a black hole. If you haven't lost a parent yet it might be too much to bear, but if you have, it might feel like joining a group of survivors around a campfire after a catastrophe.
IN AUGUST 2015, as a huge forest fire burned on my reservation, as it burned within feet of the abandoned uranium mine, the United States government sent a representative to conduct a town hall to address the growing concerns and fears. My sister texted me the play-by-play of the meeting. “OMG!” she texted. “The government guy just said the USA doesn’t believe the forest fire presents a serious danger to the Spokane Indian community, even if the fire burns right through the uranium mine.”
...“Is the air okay?” I texted. “It hurts a little to breathe,” my sister texted back. “But we’re okay.” Jesus, I thought, is there a better and more succinct definition of grief than It hurts a little to breathe, but we’re okay?
HBO’s upcoming Confederate generated some recent refs. For The New York Times, Roxane Gay wrote I Don’t Want to Watch Slavery Fan Fiction. Emily Yahr wrote in The Washington Post that The backlash about the idea of “slavery fan fiction” was immediate, and many wondered what HBO was thinking — particularly because “Game of Thrones” has come under fire for its portrayals of race and violence. And, For Chicago Tribune, Nina Metz noted There are a number of reasons — thoughtful, well-researched reasons — why people are objecting to a premise that sounds like slavery fan fiction.
( More Confederate-related refs )
In 'What would happen if Hamlet were a girl in the Internet age?' for The Washington Post, Celia Wren wrote that The Elsinore-prowling man in black becomes Elsie, an Internet-roaming teenage girl in black, in "To Tell My Story: A Hamlet Fan¬fic," an ingenious, if sometimes strenuously jokey, new play by Alexandra Petri. (Petri is a writer for the paper who’s produced more than her share of fanfic fanfic refs over the years.)
In a New Yorker review of Ben Blatt’s Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve: What the Numbers Reveal About the Classics, Bestsellers, and Our Own Writing, Dan Piepenbring wrote American writers of Harry Potter fan fiction are actually more liable to use “brilliant” than their British counterparts, who employ the word with native agility.
( 1D, Star Wars, Dah Bears, Wattpad )
Cosmoploitan’s Lilian Min wrote that This Jeopardy Love Story Is The Stuff of Fan Fiction.
From Ashley Eady for The Wrap: Bruce Willis ‘Death Wish’ Trailer Blasted as ‘Alt-Right Fan Fiction’.
Finally, The Macalope produced Wishful thinking: Alexa fan fiction for Macworld.
"Netflix's "Atypical" Was a Major Disappointment for Autism Representation"
In watching the show, I noticed that it seems to play into stereotypes that I’ve experienced firsthand that could have easily been avoided and that may present damaging information about autistic people. There is so much misinformation about autism in part because we nearly always learn about autism from non-autistic people, instead of learning about autism from autistic adults.
( click for squee )
Lynne Thomas of Uncanny Magazine writes about her daughter Caitlin, who doesn't speak and communicates a lot. Lynne reviews the overwhelming privilege of the spoken word in SF:
One of the commenters points out that Marvel has a new, nonverbal, hero coming:
I needed a 32 inch cable for a magic loop project. I don't have them specifically noted in lengths (I probably should, but there are a lot of things I should probably do), so when eyeballing failed, I took the cable most likely to be 32 inches long, and held it from fingertip to armpit.
Success! It was just a hair longer than fingertip to armpit, which meant that it was 32 inches.
I used this method, as this is how you determine how long your baton needs to be. It has to match your armspan, otherwise it won't work correctly. My armspan is 31 inches long, which meant I was That Twirler. (95% of twirlers clock in with a 29 inch baton, which means if you're doing exchange work, a 31 inch baton throws everyone off. I had a secondary baton for exactly that reason and hated it with an undying passion.)
But yes. Strange benefits I hadn't been expecting, much less half a decade on since I finished twirling.