“You’re trying to ruin a woman’s career. Why? Because you’re bored? Because you’re afraid of someone who’s different from you?”

Apparently, the wrong parents found out that a teacher writes erotica in her free time.  Hyperventilation,  judgmental asshattery, and half-assed journalism ensued.

I don’t have enough energy this morning to say exactly what I think of this sorry excuse for a news story, which “broke” a couple of days ago.

Luckily, the awesome Cody of ckXcore provides plenty and is far more coherent than I would be right now:

Thanks to SBSarah at Smart Bitches for passing this along.

Please do the same.

Goodbye, Ms. Russ

Thanks to Patrick Nielsen Hayden at Making Light for the news. Damn it. 
__

Long before I became a feminist in any explicit way, I had turned from writing love stories about women in which women were losers, and adventure stories about men in which the men were winners, to writing adventure stories about a woman in which the woman won. It was one of the hardest things I ever did in my life.

—Joanna Russ

When I was somewhat younger, my parents held one of their dinner parties, which are always more of a family affair than a formal do, no matter who is invited, so we kids mingled with the adults, or not, as we chose.  At one of these, I wandered through the living room, reading Brave New World, which I’d just found on Dad’s bookshelf.*

One of the guests stopped me, looked at the cover, and asked me how I liked it.

“I think the girl is kind of dumb,” I said. 

A few days later, Dad handed me a couple of books and told me that one of his colleagues in the psychology department wanted me to try them out and tell him what I thought.

One of them was The Female Man by Joanna Russ.  The other was a collection of Ms. Russ’s stories: The Zanzibar Cat.

The first thing I thought was that these stories were far more interesting than the one I’d been reading.  The second thing I thought was that these female characters aren’t dumb. 

Some are powerless, or think they are, at least at first, and some have been socially conditioned as deeply as Huxley’s Lenina Crowne . . . but all of them have brains.  Which they use. 

And some of them have a lot of righteous rage.  Which they also use.

This book is written in blood.

Is it written entirely in blood?

No, some of it is written in tears.

Are the blood and tears all mine?

Yes, they have been in the past. but the future is a different matter. As the bear swore in Pogo after having endured a pot shoved on her head, being turned upside down while still in the pot, a discussion about her edibility, the lawnmowering of her behind, and a fistful of ground pepper in the snoot, she then swore a mighty oath on the ashes of her mothers (i.e. her forebears) grimly but quietly while the apples from the shaken apple tree above her dropped bang thud on her head:

OH, SOMEBODY ASIDES ME IS GONNA RUE THIS HERE PARTICULAR DAY.

—Joanna Russ, The Female Man

Joanna Russ opened my eyes not only to gender roles, but to amazing writing.  In the early ’80s, it wasn’t exactly strange to me that a woman would write science fiction, and kick-ass science fiction at that.  But Ms. Russ’s voice—that scathing, brilliant tone—was a revelation.

I had to give both books back to the professor, but the library provided even more, which I ended up buying as I found them.  I finally found a copy of The Zanzibar Cat about a decade later in a used bookstore in Oxford, Ohio. It’s part of my core collection, along with The Female Man**  and The Two of Them, which may be my favorite.

I always meant to read How to Suppress Women’s Writing, but never followed through.  I think I’d know what Ms. Russ would say to that. 

I’ll look for it at the library tomorrow.

___

* The unwritten rule in our house was that anything in print was fair game, as long as I went to my parents with any questions.

**It was part of the optional reading list in one of my classes—I used it  in a paper on gender roles in fiction, comparing it with Virginia’s Woolf’s Orlando—which was much harder going.

Random Thursday: Llama Llama Llama!

Llama Font. You know you want it.

Click to go to the generator and write secret llama messages—though once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to read.

The T and the Y are particularly adorable, I think. And the I. Okay, yeah, all of it.

Go forth and Llamafy!

(thanks to Janet Reid for this new toy, even though I didn’t decode her message fast enough)

oooOOOooo

Janie has discovered Weird Al Yankovic. The world may never be the same–after ten straight repeats of “The Weird Al Show Theme Song,” in the car this morning, I’m pretty sure I won’t be.*

She has it memorized and goes around singing, “But that’s really not important to the story!” at odd intervals. I’m beginning to miss, “Whatever.”

celebrity-pictures-weird-al-yankovic-accordion-lessons

It’s amazing to her that a professional musician messes up songs on purpose.  Music is supposed to be sacrosanct, like books.   “I mean, I know you do it, Mommy, but he’s good.”

Thanks, kid.

My husband’s reaction? “Excellent!” He’s so proud to have helped produced the next generation of Dr. Demento** fans.

‘Course, he doesn’t drive her to school and back.

oooOOOooo

Quotes from the Notes

People who talk by the yard and think by the inch should be removed by the foot.

—Croft M. Pentz, The Complete Book of Zingers


oooOOOooo

Sheer (shear?) unadulterated cuteness:

cute baby animals - Let Me Pinch Those Cheeks For You

To get this kind of effect, I’d need a handful of styling product, a round brush, and a windtunnel—and some Rogaine.

oooOOOooo


One off the bucket list:

I finally found a copy of Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen’s version of the Mission Impossible theme song from the first movie. I’ve been looking for this for years, but didn’t want to illegally download it.

In the end, I had to buy a CD with a Bjork song on it.  Bjork.   But it was so worth it.

Yes, Janie comes by her musical obsessions honestly. Why do you ask?

oooOOOooo

And to end this odd, little llama-fest, Wally Llama, reluctant guru, and three insistent pilgrims:

The moral of this clip?  Use your smartybrains: don’t meditate without a net.

____

*Yes, I was closest to the stereo control and yes, I’m the parent.  But it was either listening to ten reps of this song or twenty minutes of begging, whining, pouting, and aspersions cast upon the quality and quantity of my maternal love.  I’ll take the earworm, thanks.

**Does anyone else miss this guy? Does anyone else remember this guy? I used to stay up past my bedtime and listen to him under my pillow with my huge airport runway style radio headphones.

Poetry Wednesday: Snicker-snack, y’all

It’s National Poetry Month in the States, so I thought I’d post a favorite poem or two each Wednesday until we run out of April.  Which I suppose we have.

Decades ago, I took a college speech class— it was a requirement for education majors.  The first assignment was to memorize a favorite poem and recite it dramatically before the class.

I chose Lewis Carroll’s  “Jabberwocky” and performed it with hand gestures, teeth-gnashing, and a fencing saber.  I may have hammed.  A bit.

But according to the notes from the TA, I received a B solely because I’d chosen “a nonsense poem that  doesn’t make sense.”

I know.

So, for the first and only time in my academic career, I challenged a grade.  I argued my case in front of the Head of the Education department.

My point wasn’t that the assignment instructions were faulty, but  that the poem did too make sense.  In fact, the invented language was so deft and onomatopoetic and the structure so classic that the story itself was perfectly clear.

The Head, who was also an English professor, saw it my way.  My B was upgraded and I earned the enmity of the TA for the rest of the semester.

But it was so worth it.

 Jabberwocky
(Lewis Carroll)

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought —
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Bravo, Mr. Carroll.

______

. . . A clerk came to the front, leading a jabberwocky by a pink leash and talking to a largish woman in a purple dress with a pink fur collar.  “Don’t worry, ma’am,” he said.  “Just keep her nails trimmed and make sure she’s got plenty of chew toys.”

The woman nodded.  “But what if she tries to climb on my furniture?”

He pointed to her shiny green shopping bag, the words Designer Pet World glowing on the side in fancy gold letters.  “Just show her the vorpal sword, and you shouldn’t have any problems.”  He handed her the leash.

The woman bent over and caressed the muzzled snout with beringed hands.  “Is ‘oo ready to go home, mama’s little pwecious?  Is ‘oo?  Kiss-kiss.” 

The beast burbled, and the woman led it away, her heels snicker-snacking in counterpoint to her new pet’s whiffling armaments.

“Home protection, I can see,” I said.  “But kiss-kiss?”

The clerk turned to me and beamed.  “Can I interest you in a pet, sir?  We’re running a special on cold-heat phoenices.”

“What’s a pheenicee?”

“Phoenices,” he said, drawing out the final zee.  “The plural of phoenix.”

I stared at him.  “There’s no plural of phoenix,” I told him.  “There’s only supposed to be one at a time.”

He turned up the sincerity in his smile.  “They’re very popular.  Hours of entertainment.  You can even set the rebirth cycle to suit your convenience.”

I shuddered.  “No, thanks.”

“Are you sure?  They’re solar-powered.”

“No.”

“I can offer gryphons and manticores.  Or maybe a Vatican-endorsed unicorn?  Guaranteed virgin-sensitive.”

I turned to go.

“We just got in a sphinx,” he called.

“I know the riddle already,” I said over my shoulder.  What was the plural of sphinx supposed to be? 

Sphinices?

 (“Bootleg Dog,” Sarah’s File of Shipwrecked Stories, page 3)

In which I explain about the gorilla . . .

The kids first Egg Hunt on Sunday was fun.  It wasn’t a hunt as much as a Pick-up, but that suited everyone just fine.

As I mentioned in the comments, Jane’s method was to run as fast as she could to the far end of the field and gather up everything before the others made it halfway:

Sunny’s method depended more on wielding a judicious amount of adorable helplessness on an unsuspecting mark:

They disappeared with their bounty afterward and I later found them both behind the altar in a drift of wrappers— the young chocoholics version of claiming sanctuary.  Only when I expressed joy that I would be able to keep whatever the Easter Bunny might have brought to the house did my progeny voluntarily come forth.

The Easter Bunny was far more generous than I had anticipated.  My husband is an atheist, but apparently has a soft spot for commercial mutations of ancient religious remnants—as long as jellybeans and Reese’s peanut butter eggs are involved.

After lunch, which was brief and sparsely attended, my husband took the kids to their second Easter Egg Hunt—I had taken the precaution of falling asleep right after doing the dishes.*

They came home with much chocolate and marshmallow Peepage . . . and this:

He was meant to be the prize for collecting the most eggs, but the winner was terrified of him, as was the runner up.  My kids, who fell in love on sight, won him by default.   He’s larger than Sunny and somewhat heavier.

His name is Banana.

At least he’s not made of chocolate . . .

___

*Jane wanted some computer time, so I stretched out with a notebook and a pen and was soon dreaming about the Easter Bunny headlining in Vegas.  I should have known better.