Friday, October 25, 2013

I did it

I made a new site.  I will be using it instead.

This space will remain as archive.  And, y'know, in case I decide I hate the new one.

Space-Born Jellyfish Hate Life on Earth

I've been feeling very linkspammy these days, haven't I?

I love this idea:

From an article on re-reading Xanth (and why you probably shouldn't).

If you found the article, like I did, from the Radish Reviews Friday linkspam page, you probably also found the set of re-titled books from some dude's childhood which I totally loved when he was retitling Dragonflight as "Mary Sue Gets a Dragon," but then I got to "Child Porn is Totally Acceptable in Some Cultures," and he picked the cover of Dragon on a Pedastal and NO NO NO NO


You can eviscerate all the Xanth books you like, as long as by "all" you mean "not Dragon on a Pedestal," because I still have that book memorized.  And yeah I know it's just as skeezy as all the rest with the misogyny and rape threats because it is Piers Anthony but YOU CAN'T HAVE THAT BOOK.  There are thirty-seven other books you can have.  This one is MINE.

So, um, onward with the linking.  How about this lovely, sad, funny short on The Toast?

Or this much longer narrative about biracial cultural identity, especially this bit—

I continued showing off my Indian jewelry and making grand, historic claims about Hinduism as if the culture were my own. I think it even got worse after the trip, given that now I had been to the “homeland” and convinced my friends I could speak with even more authority. But that summer I went to a new camp, and met a girl whose father was vaguely Buddhist and who named his baby son Jai, the male version of my name. She was so excited to find me, and insisted that after camp she would bring her dad into New York and we’d all go get Indian food. 

 I assumed this wouldn’t happen, but a few months later I found myself in one of the basement Indian restaurants on 6th Street, trying to make recommendations off the menu. The restaurant was one I chose, at random, but asserted was the best. I knew samosas, and naan, but the curries all seemed the same to me. My friend, airy blonde curls popping out of her ponytail, said I would definitely know what was best. I looked up at her dad, who leaned down to me and whispered “try the korma, I think you’d like it.” The jig was up.
—because holy shit that sounds like me.

There are a lot of other things worth reading on the Radish Review page.  A piece about how the technology of film was developed for white people, and thus ill-suited for photographing other skin tones.  Because Technology is Not Value-Neutral.  Also an article that mostly exists so it can be titled Space-Born Jellyfish Hate Life On Earth.  I mention it here so that I can title my post that, too.  It's the gift that keeps on giving.  But the list exists already, so there's not much point in replicating it, link for link, here.

Also, since I spent so much time recently redesigning my website, and then a blog I read also went through a redesign, it makes me want to redo this.  Except any of the blogger templates would just look like variants of blogger templates and I like this best out of my options here.  I could move my blog to my official site but that's a terrible idea and will never happen.  I could either try to import this all over to WordPress or start a new one or something there, which gives me access to better templates.  Except I think that what I want is to make this look like a magazine and not a blog except it IS a blog and not a magazine and moving addresses is awkward for everyone and why would I bother?

But they're so pretty!

There's a pretty good chance that I'm going to be posting a link to a new blog soon...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Once upon a time I would have told you that Glee was the best show on television.  Even the years-old memory of some episodes is enough to move me to awe.  That speech that Kurt's dad gives to Finn when their families are moving in together—yes, it's got that after school special sheen, but the acting and the words are heartfelt, and they're words that need to be said.  And you know, because it's Glee, they follow that with a rousing rendition of some pop song I've already forgotten.  Which is exactly what I want in, well, everything, really.

But the magic faded.  I stopped watching after that godawful Christmas episode that managed to be ridiculously boring AND offensive AND it made no sense.  I remember looking over at my roommates trying to verify that yes, really, this was happening.  And even though the next few episodes raised the bar again, I'd lost my taste for the show.

I know people who still watch Glee, and sometimes they link to articles and fan reactions, and one of them pointed me here:

(There's also a post about Blaine and passing, which we all know is my favorite subject ever.)

It makes me want to watch Glee again.  It actually makes me want to go back to the beginning and watch ALL THE GLEE so I can be part of the conversation.  Because apparently if you want me to watch something, the best thing you can do is subject it to detailed analysis, especially from the standpoint of gender, race, and sexuality.

Which is funny to me, because one of the more common complaints about this kind of writing is that it takes all the fun out of the show.  It's just entertainment is the rallying cry.  Stop taking it so seriously.  It's as if someone took away their cookies and replaced them with brussels sprouts and I do sort of agree.  Academic analysis of popular culture is sort of like brussels sprouts. And I love brussels sprouts.  I love taking things seriously.  I like my games and books and tv shows better when I can look at them like this. 

And now I need to see how many back seasons of Glee are on Hulu.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Old Photos

I was taught history much the way I was taught about foreign cultures.  Historical events were put into context of cultural beliefs, expectations, norms, etc of the time in which they occurred.  Which is not something I object to, but it also came with flavor of making people from the past sort of exotic.  Look at all the strange beliefs and rules they had back then!

We tend to other our ancestors.  We are colonizers of our own past eras, replacing what we see as outlandish and barbaric beliefs and practices with our better, modern ones.  And along the way, we also construct our image of them to suit the story of progress we want to tell.  And as long as we're reaching back far enough, there aren't any people around to object, to stand up for their own subjectivity.  They're dead.

Which is why I am so stunned by many of the digitally recolored old photographs that have been surfacing online.  Old black-and-white photos of people in stiff poses and funny fashions are easy to other.  But not every old photo fits that mold.  And sometimes, just the addition of color is enough to take a civil war photograph and make it into a Rolling Stone cover, or a twitter avatar.  Looking at these faces without the distancing effect of time makes them uncomfortably real.  I am forced to grant them more subjectivity than I am used to giving.

Lewis Powell, 1865.  Photograph by Alexander Gardner
(unknown coloring credit)


1.  You know what's especially awesome to me about the word Latin@?  I always read it first as "Latina," and then catch myself and think, "oh no, the @ means it's dudes, too."  Which is, like, the opposite of all other group nouns.

Now, Adventures in EXPENSIVE Medicine!

My followup appointment with sports medicine did not produce any more answers.  The previous diagnosis no longer seems appropriate, and no new diagnosis has been found.  So I'm scheduled for an MRI on Wednesday to find out more.

What I know about MRIs can be condensed into a one minute YouTube supercut of all the medical dramas I used to watch.  That, and they're ridiculously expensive.  Like, all-the-superlatives-you-can-think-of expensive.  An MRI is bringing out the big guns.  When the doctor said, "If we did an MRI we could be sure if it's the muscle or the bone," I just assumed he'd follow that with something like, "but we'll do _______ before we have to go that far."  So I waited for him to suggest something else.  He didn't.  I was very confused.

And by that time it was 4:30 on a Friday and there wasn't anyone to do the scheduling, so I went home and repeated I'm getting an MRI to anyone who could hear me.  And then I went to knitters' breakfast and told everyone there too.  I think that what really shocks me is the idea that the doctor is taking this seriously.

When a friend of mine asked me where I was on the pain scale, I said that it varied from 0 to 4 or 5.  I think she was trying to help me not worry by making me admit that it doesn't hurt that much, really, not when I put it in perspective y'know?

Except that I don't need to talk myself down from fear that something is terribly, horribly, wrong.  I need to talk myself into believing that my concerns deserve to be taken seriously, that "I feel fine except when I dance," is NOT, actually, the same as "I feel fine."  I need to convince myself that "not able to participate in an activity I love," is, actually, a valid reason for concern.  This is harder than it should be.  I still feel weird going to the doctor for anything.  And when I do, I usually preface everything with well, it's probably nothing...

Friday, October 18, 2013


I know I've been yelling a lot.  Sorry.  But SRSLY.  Mulan dressed up as Xena for Halloween.  Does it get any better than this?

Disney Halloween: Mulan by ~IsaiahStephens on deviantART

Also, I love finding deviantART links because I am assuming that if there are "here's the code to embed this" instructions then I'm supposed to be able to post it.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


I'm so weirdly nervous.  Or maybe not weirdly, maybe perfectly understandably nervous.

But anyway, my is live and it looks exactly like I wanted it to. 

The good things in life.

Now, when I come home from dance lessons, I have more energy than I did when I left the house.  This is a new thing, and much appreciated.  My feet and lungs and heart have become lazy, complaining, assholes.  My leg continues to be a horrible mystery that neither makes sense nor improves.  SIGH.  I have a followup appointment with sports medicine on Friday.

And, you know what?  There's a new guy, he just started grad school here, and he's sexy and nice and a really good dancer (but he only knows International ballroom, so he's still learning, too) and he never wears shirts that have sleeves. So I am thankful for the good things in life, like dancing with sexy bare-armed men.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

You guys, you'd better stop me

I think I might rename my State Fair photos series, 'Sadface."

It would be so funny.

I'd cut down the statement to:

Sometimes all the cotton candy and inflatable dolphins in Iowa aren't enough to make your feet stop hurting.

Things I still need to do:

OMG I'm actually splitting up my Dragon Age time with SOME OTHER ACTIVITY.  Yeah it's totally amazing.

Anyway, hopefully today I'll get some good copy shots of my embroidery so I can put those up, and then I need to, seriously, get my shit together with the state fair photos.  Because I fixed them up on my computer at home and now they look like shit on my ipad and this screen, so I need to find a happy medium and also make the new set match the old set, and maybe do some more adding/weeding out of the final selection.

Oh, and I need to dig up old photos from under the bed, because I've got a few lith print portraits that didn't work for what I was doing at the time but do something else entirely that I couldn't have planned for ten years ago.  I hate digging out old prints.  But.  Must be done.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


I bought a Wordpress template (Fluxus) and now I'm working on putting it together.  Some of it is just resizing, some of it is tweaking my statements, or rewriting them entirely.  It won't play mp3s, so I'll need to make videos of my radio essays, and I still need to take some good photos of the embroidery.  Hopefully it will be live next week when my domain switches over.

Friday, October 11, 2013

More Smatter

tl;dr: I still like Dragon Age 2, I'm an INTJ, and I'm redesigning my website because angst


Jenny is approached by a magistrate who needs help with a sensitive matter: a criminal with a life sentence has escaped from prison, and is now trapped inside dangerous ruins. Jenny's job is to bring this man safely back to justice. When asked why he doesn't just leave the criminal to his near-certain death, the magistrate indignantly says that he will not kill a man just because it is convenient. The prisoner  will serve out his sentence, but he should not be killed, either by intent or negligence.

As Jenny approaches the ruins, she meets an elf named Elren who gives her another side of the story: the criminal is Kelder, the magistrate's son. Kelder has been abducting and killing elf children for years. His "imprisonment" amounts to house arrest, as the magistrate refuses to allow his son to face a court. This is not Kelder's first escape. And each time he escapes, he kills another child. This time, the child is Elren's daughter. If Jenny were to bring Kelder to "justice," the cycle will only continue. Even if Jenny could force a court hearing, it would be the word of elves against the magistrate, and the result would be the same. It's the reason Kelder has been able to continue for so long: as long as he only kills elf children, no one cares. Elren is there to demand, not "justice," but death. The only way to stop the cycle, he says, is to kill Kelder.

When she confronts Kelder, she learns that he escaped into the ruin for the purpose of suicide by monster. He knows that what he does is wrong. He also believes that he is powerless to stop himself. He is clearly delusional, possibly schizophrenic. The demons tell him to do it, you see. Because the children are so beautiful. They need to be punished. He begs Jenny to kill him and end it.

In KOTOR, the light side response would be to let him live. Taking justice into one's own hands is never the answer. Killing in cold blood is never the answer. The light side response would be to show mercy to a troubled man, and to put faith in the system. (In KOTOR, this would have positive results, since Jedi powers are great assets in court.)  Jade Empire and Mass Effect would have the same answer, only they would call it "open palm" and "paragon." If I were playing any of those other games, I would be guided into that answer, because to do otherwise would be to hinder my progress towards my character's moral alignment. Those games give you no incentive to make decisions based on anything but receiving alignment bonuses. I never realized how much of a crutch that was until I started playing Dragon Age.

It really irks me that this symbol was never explained.  Is it mage-resistance?  Nazi dragons?

Dragon Age has no such alignment system. Not a "good v. evil" system, or even a "selfless/kind vs. selfish/cruel" system. The "good" answer is not a good answer. Neither is the alternative. There is only Jenny, and the world she wants to live in. She will be judged by the people around her, but there is no universal scale to weigh her actions. I want to put Kelder in a real institution. Somewhere he can't escape from, somewhere that might actually be able to help him understand and deny the voices in his head. I want the system to care about the outcasts as much as it does the magistrate. But that isn't an option. Jenny can only allow the broken system to continue, and hope that this one time will be different from all the rest, or she can act as executioner. There is never a fight with Kelder. She can't kill him in self-defense; that woud be too easy. The game makes certain to show that he is no threat to Jenny.

Jenny kills Kelder.  It's a broken answer to a broken system but I can't stomach the alternative.

Origins had some of these kinds of choices. Travel to the mages' tower to try to save a possessed boy, thereby risking the lives of everyone in the castle and surrounding town, or deal with the threat immediately by killing either the boy or his mother. Give the throne to an ineffectual king who will support an oppressive status quo, or to a scheming fratricide who will sieze all the power and use it to give rights to the casteless. But most of the options are much more obvious. There is no downside to saving the mages. And there is no reason to suggest slaughtering an entire tribe of Dalish elves.  There are usually options that let you save everyone.  On the other hand, DA2 is almost entirely made up of choices like this.


According to this totally scientifically accurate test, I am an octopus.


I have website angst.  I have a website, until November something, at which point, having decided that FatCow is charging too much for something I'm not sure I have a use for, that site will cease to exist.  Also, my website looks terrible and is only barely functional on a phone.  If by "barely," I mean "totally not."

I made it back when people were still using tables, which I've been told no-one does anymore.  It's <div> tags now. 

Anyway, I made a website because I was actively working to make my way in the academic/fine art world, and I needed a portfolio.  Not having a website on my CV would be almost as weird as not having an email address.

Here is a short list of people I know and their websites:

Kyla     Lisa     Allison     Alyss      Aaron      Kate      Chris       Sonya    

So I have this website which I auto-renew because it's easier to pay than to figure out what I'm doing with my website, because figuring that out would require figuring out my life.  Because I like my job.  If, god forbid, I ever lost this job, I would probably do my best to find another one like it.  And people who do my job don't need portfolios.  If I were actively producing work and submitting to exhibitions, then my artistic CV would still be relevant, and so would a website.  But, well, I'm really not doing that, either.  I have two narrative essays that I shop around (Chapter 3 is currently on the virtual desk of The Baltimore Review), but that's really it. 

If I'm no longer part of the academic/fine art world, then having a personal portfolio site seems awfully pretentious.  I mean, I already have this space here, where I can talk about myself and say LOOK AT MEEEEEEE to my heart's content.   But getting rid of my website feels like saying I'm not that person anymore and that's a scary thing.  Which is why I kept spending money to avoid thinking about it.

So I have been trying to think of what else a portfolio site could be, what it brings to me or my work or my life besides a line on a CV.  And I think that, much in the same way that I was looking for unexpected connections between unrelated images in my archives, making a website can function the same way.

So I am working on something new.  Something that deserves to exist on its own.  I am making notes about ways to organize and categorize.  I am writing new statements.  I am thinking of re-framing my pictorialist images:

When I was twenty, I thought I was taking photographs of what mattered. “The feel of a crowd, or the glow of sunlight on hair,” I said.  At the time, I was capturing moments that I was intimately familiar with.  Now, more than 10 years later, when I look at these photos, all I see are the things I can't see.  I look at these photos and see a blank space where a face might be.  I look at these photos and see what I have lost.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Speaking of women with power in Kirkwall:

Knight-Commander Meredith is neither sexualized nor defeminized.  She wears her hair down, and long, but not curled or otherwise styled. Her armor emphasizes her figure without showing skin or resorting to the boob plate cliché.  And yet, her attractiveness as a woman is no part of her power.   It is secondary to her role as Knight-Commander.  She never references her position as a (presumably) available woman, nor does anyone else ever remark on her gender or attractiveness.   It's the Knight Commander, she'd have their head in a second!

She is never referred to as shrill, or bitchy, or any of the standard adjectives for a woman in power. And she is sympathetic. Her zealotry comes from a desire to protect her city, and she has good reasons for her fears. She is trying to contain an explosion in slow motion, and she's doing it wrong but she doesn't know any other way.

Now Reading: Postcards from Kirkwall and Others

A detailed analysis of kyriarchy in Dragon Age 2, as examined by two simultaneous play-throughs.  One Hawke experiences the game as a female mage, and the other as a male warrior.  A look at Thedas through the lens of what it is like to experience the events of the game with varying amounts of privilege.  The differences are sometimes subtle, but there nonetheless.  Sadly, there are only a few posts so far, but I think the idea itself is really interesting.

2. Mages and Philosophies of Oppression

I skimmed the more quote-heavy bits, but this raises an interesting point: most of the danger that mages pose to others, and the dangers to mages themselves, could be lessened given support and resources.  Blood magic is a dangerous alternative to lyrium.  When Merrill makes a deal with a demon, it is only because she doesn't have access, as a Dalish elf, to the resources she'd need to power her spell with lyrium.  Similarly, most examples we have of mages turning to demons are due to fear, desperation, anger, despair.  A system that supported mages, a culture of social justice, universal access to lyrium, would likely reduce the danger.

Even in a supportive society with access to resources and no persecution, there would still be mages succumbing to the desire to be even more powerful than they can be with lyrium alone.  And even privileged people can suffer fear and despair.  But the conditions of the circle can be seen to actually make the problem worse.

3.  No blog, just stuff.

In Ferelden, which is ruled entirely by men, with the exception of Anora who wielded her power from the sidelines, as the power behind Cailan's throne, rather than a power in her own right, Jenny was often marked as different for being female.  She was often reminded that "there aren't many women gray wardens," or asked, "as a woman, what do you think?"

In Kirkwall, two of the four positions of power are held by women: Knight-Commander Meredith and Grand Cleric Elthina.  One of those positions is only available to women, as the Chantry only accepts female leaders.  It can be said that the two of them hold much more power than the other two positions, which seem mostly to act as figureheads: the Viscount and the First Enchanter.  If one adds the Captain of the Guard to the list, then women hold three of the five positions, and after Act 2, when the Viscount is removed and Jenny is proclaimed Champion, Kirkwall becomes practically a matriarchy.  And in this environment, in contrast to Ferelden, Jenny is remarked upon for being foreign, but never for being female.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Unreliable Narrator

Almost nothing that Jenny Hawke does during her seven years in Kirkwall makes a difference.  The events that take place are inevitable, her quests result in little meaningful change.  Merrill will reconstruct the Eluvian with or without Jenny's help.  And no amount of logic or love will keep Anders from blowing up the Chantry.  There is no choice she can take that will keep the Qunari from attacking the city and executing the Viscount, and no choice that will save her mother from a serial killer. 

This is a common complaint about the game, and one I agree with.  Or rather, I agree that it's a fair assessment of the game, but I admire rather than object to those elements.  Most people don't play games in order to feel powerless.  They were frustrated and angered by DA2.

I am fascinated.

See, Jenny isn't playing out her story.  She is a character in Varric's story.  The game gives the impression of agency—after all, there are buttons to push and choices to make.  But the game also makes it clear from the beginning that everything that Jenny will do is something that she has done.

Or, more importantly, something that Varric says she's done.  And Varric demonstrates early on that he prefers his stories with more than a dash of embellishment. 

And so, when we see Jenny escape from a Lothering that looks nothing like it did in Origins, we can attribute the discrepancy to the same source as Bethany's bizarrely large bosom.  It's the story that Varric would like to tell.  (More problematic is the discrepancy between the Hawke family's skin color in the intro and a non-white Hawke in the game.)

Some of the lies Varric tells are obvious; Cassandra calls him on them. But Varric is a good storyteller, and there is no one else to call his facts into question.  And Varric has good reason to tell the story he does.

You see, if the events of Kirkwall were all inevitable, if there was nothing that anyone—especially Jenny—could have done, then Varric is off the hook.  If all Jenny really did was be at important places at important times, then what happened can be blamed, as Varric suggests, on the idol. Or Anders.  Anyone but Jenny.

The idol is a funny thing.  In a story about human rivalries and weaknesses, about cultural misunderstandings rather than darkspawn, the idol seems out of place.  When Meredith draws her sword at the end, and we realize that she is no longer in control of herself, that the idol has warped her mind and all the pain and death she caused can be blamed on a mysterious artifact, it takes much of the power out of the story.  It feels like cheating.  If Meredith is under the influence of the idol then she is no longer responsible for her actions.

It also means that Jenny is no longer responsible for her death.  An insane Meredith needs to be fought.  An insane Meredith can't be reasoned with or surrendered to.  An insane Meredith can't even be listened to, because her arguments are all tainted by the idol.  There is no moral choice to be made, there is simply an abomination to defeat.

But isn't that what Varric wants?  To convince the Chantry that killing the Knight Commander was, not only the right thing to do, but the only thing?  If Meredith had been speaking only as herself then the Chantry might see some value in her words.  The Chantry might want to avenge her death.  If Meredith had been taken over by the idol then Jenny must be the good guy in the story.

What if that's a lie?  What if the idol had no power?  What if the idol was Varric's way of protecting himself from the guilt of killing his brother?  And later, his way of protecting Jenny?  What if that one element of the story that doesn't fit is something that never happened?

If Varric wanted to add a lie to the story, he might start by telling an even larger, more obvious lie.  He'd let himself get caught.  And then, having "realized that he can't get away with lies," he would tell the smaller lie, sheepishly, like a man who knows he's been bested.  And that's exactly how tells the story.  When he tells Cassandra about meeting Bartrand again, he begins with a tall tale.  When Cassandra catches him at it, then he tells her about the mysterious power of the idol.

He might have even believed it, at first.  It would be easier to think that killing his brother was a terrible, but necessary, thing.  That his brother didn't mean to betray him, that he couldn't help himself.  He would have told himself that the idol must have taken over his brother.  He would have told other people that a dangerous magic was loose in Kirkwall.  And the story would spread.

And when Varric found himself with a dagger at his throat and an angry Seeker demanding a story, he might have used that story to try to save himself and his friend.

Do I think that's what Bioware intended?  Not really.  But it could be.  The frame story changes everything.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Sort of Like a Birthday Present

It's occurred to me that, with one exception, I have had a romantic interest on my birthday every year since I was 22.  Sometimes it's an actual boyfriend, sometimes it's a Person of Interest, with flirting and kissing that falls off a few days or weeks after.  Sometimes it's an actual boyfriend who I break up with a few weeks after.  I suppose it's sort of like a birthday present from the universe.  Not because I need a man in my life to be happy, or even the non-heteronormative version of same.  But because I do like flirting.  I like having something on that particular shelf of my brain.  It's like a particular kind of problem to solve.

And I had one this year, too, someone to tell me he'd be thinking about me on the beach in my cutoffs, someone to complement me, but not too much, someone to say he really wants to meet me.  It was nice having messages to check when I got back to the hotel.

But it's not my birthday anymore, and he hasn't made the transition from "wanting to meet" to "making plans." 

I suppose I'll write to that guy with the cute photo of him and his dog.  But for now, I'm just disappointed.


I totally did this first.

I didn't do this one.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

DA2: Being Nice

(I'm making myself play through Awakenings, because I want a world where the Architect gets a chance to make a difference.  But it doesn't really have much appeal to me on a second play.  I want to get back to Zevran's Jenny (I kept trying to name her something else, but this is what stuck in my head), or start on a new Rogue Jenny in DA2.)

I tried to be friends with everyone in DA2, because I always try to be friends with everyone.  Someone once said that it couldn't be done, but fuck that. I win ALL charisma checks. Even when there isn't even a charisma stat. And, because it's a video game, I set about befriending my party members by agreeing with everyone to their face, and occasionally leaving them out of the party when I was going to do something they wouldn't like. There were times when I needed a party member's presence in a battle in order to survive it, but there were lots of decisions made in perfect safety where I could swap out party members to suit. This is how video games have taught me to make friends.

Except, in DA2, Jenny can be friends with her rivals.  The game phrases it as friendship v. rivalry, but from what I'm reading—I still need to try it—it's really two different kinds of friendship. One can be friends with someone with whom one has strong disagreements with. One can even, sometimes, pursuade such a friend to reconsider their beliefs.  And that's what those red rivalry points mean: Jenny has said something that her friend doesn't want to hear. 

Everyone told me, I just didn't quite believe it. Or maybe I believed but couldn't make myself play any other way. The "get people to like me" instinct is too strong.

I joke that making someone like me in a video game involves agreeing all the time, and how that's a terrible lesson for real life. But I kind of do that in real life. I have a tendency to give people what I think they want, especially people I don't know well, and especially people who I want to like me. I'm planning on developing some rivalries in my next DA2 play, but it's so hard to make myself say antagonizing lines. When I see those red points flash on the screen, even though they don't mean "likes you less," I still feel bad for disagreeing. Because I'm really bad at disagreeing.

It's not strange that I have a hard time being direct, confrontational, contradictory.  I've mentioned before how women are taught to smooth things over.  I'm very good at it.  But it galls me to see that, not only does this mean I have difficulty negotiating, assuming authority, or standing up for myself and my beliefs in the world around me, I can't even pick the red dialog option in a damn video game.  It's just not nice.  And it kills me to not be nice.


Has it only been four months? I went back and counted, so it must be. I feel like I've been talking about this forever. And, given the amount of words I've directed at the subject, I suppose it probably feels like forever to anyone reading this blog or living in my house (hi!).

Among all the other feels I've expressed already, I've realized that Dragon Age has also introduced me—for the first time really—to Fandom.

I mean, I'd heard of fandom. I know some of the language, some of the social mores. But I've never really been a part of fandom. I've never cared about a piece of media1 enough, or when I did I had people around me who cared as much as I did so when I watched Buffy for the first time I could go into knitters breakfast and say HOLY SHIT THAT HAPPENED and everyone would nod knowingly and say, BUFFY IS GREAT. And that was that.

But as I've been traisping further and further down the path towards Dragon Age: TOTAL OBSESSION, I've become more and more immersed in Dragon Age fandom. It was like the way Elodie Under Glass described flirting as "a sassy walk up to somebody and going “PANTSFEELINGS?” and having them sassily respond “PANTSFEELINGS!” Discovering fandom was walking up to someone and saying "ALISTAIRFEELINGS?" and having them respond, "ALISTAIRFEELINGS!"

I found other people who, not only appreciated and enjoyed the game, but actually blushed, sometimes, when thinking about Alistair, people who would stop playing when their significant other was in the room, because their feelings for this other, virtual, person were too real to exist in the same space with their "real" person. People who tried to create characters that played other romance options, but couldn't get over the feeling that they were cheating on Alistair. (The occupants of our living room may have heard me repeat, as a mantra, not flirting with Alistair, I am not flirting with Alistair. It's hard.) Even though these posts are years old, and I usually shy away from commenting anyway, I still get that joy of shared experience. We are strangers, these fans and I, but I'm so glad to know them. 



Dragon age origin - A and M by ~june-B on deviantART2

1 Does the definition of "media" include written stories? It seems like, taken literally, it should, but it gets used as the thing that is opposed to printed books. Anyway, I really mean "creation," because I suppose I could be a fan of a work of art as well as a book or TV show.

2 I initially had a different piece of fan art here, with Isabela sitting cheekily on the shoulders of the Arishok. And then I saw people pointing out that the artist had significantly whitewashed Isabela, and seriously?  Fuck that shit. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013