From the Tumblr facepalm brigade December 7, 2016Posted by Erin Ptah in Personal.
Tags: the gays, Tumblr
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Ace Tumblr: Support asexuals and asexuality!
Me: Sure thing.
Ace Tumblr: Acephobia in the queer community is a real problem!
Me: Some people are definitely dicks about it, yeah.
Ace Tumblr: Ace people should be welcome in queer spaces!
Me: People should be chill, I’ll give you that.
Ace Tumblr: Why are people threatened by asexuality anyway? What’s the problem here?
Me: Good question.
Ace Tumblr: It’s not like our lack of sexual interest is oppressing you!
Me: It definitely isn’t!
Ace Tumblr: You know what makes us feel threatened? When people, queer and straight alike, hit on us when we aren’t interested!
Me: Okay, that. That was it. The part where you feel unsafe because queer people are expressing their sexualities in ways you don’t like. Where queer people being attracted to someone who doesn’t return that attraction is a threat, and we ought to keep a lid on it, even in the queer spaces we’ve created for ourselves. (Specifically a threat to asexual people, too, as if un-returned attraction can’t happen to anyone else.) The part where sweet chocolatey sentiments like “be more welcoming to asexuals!” keeps turning out to have stuff like this as the icky toffee filling. That is the problem.
Erin Reads: The Last of the Ozicans December 7, 2016Posted by Erin Ptah in Erin Watches.
Tags: Dorothy/Ozma, The Wizard of Oz, yuri
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After putting it off long enough, I finally went through the last two of Baum’s Oz books. Both published posthumously, in case this wasn’t sad enough already.
Book 13 is The One With The Even Gayer Birthday Party, and Book 14 is Baum Breaks His Own Record For Unnecessary Cameos.
The Magic of Oz opens with a baby supervillain. Munchkin boy Kiki Aru discovers a magic word of transformation, and decides to fly over the Deadly Desert and visit other countries, then come back to Oz and maybe take it over.
(So of course the readers all had to figure out how to stumble through pronouncing “pyrzqxgl.” Wish some of them had thought to go back and distort the audio, so what the listener hears is something they genuinely can’t repeat back.)
Baum sure does have a thing for fantasy young boy protagonists vs. mundane young girl protagonists, huh? On the one side, Dorothy, Dot, Trot, and Betsy; on the other, Ojo, Woot, Inga, and Kiki, plus I’ll throw in Tip, who considers himself male for the bulk of the book in which he’s the focus of the adventure.
Mundane boys: Tot, Button-Bright. Fantasy girls: Ozma, and…is that it? There are Polychrome and Ann Soforth, but they both feel like young adults to me.
Didn’t even plan this: Kiki Aru drops in on exactly the non-Oz countries from my last review. Hiland, Loland, Merryland, Nol, and Ix.
He ends up in Ev, where he tries to crash at an inn for the night, only to realize that — worldbuilding! — Ev uses money, and he doesn’t have any. You’d think he could turn into a bird in order to sleep in a tree, but as a baby supervillain he decides to turn into a bird in order to steal someone else’s coins.
The ex-Nome King just happens to be in the area, and approves. “I like you, young man, and I’ll go to the inn with you if you’ll promise not to eat eggs for supper.”
It’s almost Ozma’s birthday again! Look, it was a serviceable plot device the first time around, no reason not to bring it back.
Dorothy is stuck for gift ideas, which is bound to happen when you’ve been living with someone for, what is it, 30 years now? The Scarecrow is providing a straw-themed gift, and the Tin Woodman a tin-themed gift, but Dorothy doesn’t exactly have a theme.
Scraps wrote a song! The title begins “When Ozma Has a Birthday, Everybody’s Sure to Be Gay…” (“I am patched and gay and glary / You’re a sweet and lovely fairy.”)
“Tell me, Toto,” said the girl; “what would Ozma like best for a birthday present?”
The little black dog wagged his tail.
“Your love,” said he. “Ozma wants to be loved more than anything else.”
“But I already love her, Toto!”
“Then tell her you love her twice as much as you ever did before.”
“That wouldn’t be true,” objected Dorothy, “for I’ve always loved her as much as I could, and, really, Toto, I want to give Ozma some PRESENT, ’cause everyone else will give her a present.”
Glinda suggests Dorothy bake Ozma a cake. Then suggests she put something surprising inside the cake. When asked for specific ideas, she says that has to be up to Dorothy. HMMMM.
Everyone ships it, is what I’m saying.
(Her eventual big plan for the surprise: tiny monkeys that do tricks! She decides to ask the Wizard for help, because she has no idea how to (a) hire monkeys, (b) make them tiny, or (c) teach them tricks.)
Worldbuilding update: they’ve decided they aren’t sure whether immigrants to Oz are affected by the “can’t be killed” rule, so Dorothy et al are carefully protected.
Trot, Cap’n Bill, and the Glass Cat head out on their own sidequest: to bring Ozma a magic flower that only grows on a secluded island. As with The Scarecrow of Oz, Trot is missing a lot of the personality she had in her own books. Sigh.
I was going to say “at least she gets a quest,” unlike Betsy, whose only adventuring since moving to Oz has been her bit part in Lost Princess — but on second thought, Betsy being a homebody who didn’t care for her first adventure and would rather avoid having more of them is a nice way to distinguish her from Trot and Dorothy. Let the girl have a quiet, uneventful life at the palace for a few more decades. She’s earned it.
About that island: it turns out to be creepily bare (“How funny it is, Cap’n Bill, that nothing else grows here excep’ the Magic Flower”). Turns out it’s because any living creature that sets foot on the island puts down roots.
Ruggedo and Kiki Aru take on some chimera forms, fly back to Oz, and land in a Gillikin forest with an animal kingdom.
Kiki Aru provides the transformations — he’s smart enough not to let Ruggedo in on the magic word — while Ruggedo does the planning and the talking. He spins a tale that the people of the Emerald City are plotting to invade the forest and enslave the animals, so clearly they need to attack first and enslave the people instead. Based on hearsay from some creatures they’ve never seen or heard of before. Yep.
The animals are…admirably skeptical. Kiki Aru transforms a couple of them, backing up the “we’re magicians” part of the story, but nothing more.
And this is the point where Dorothy and the Wizard just walk in. Or rather, ride in on the backs of a giant frickin’ lion and tiger, while the transformed Ruggedo is all ::sweats nervously:: in the background.
The Lion introduces himself: “I am called the ‘Cowardly Lion,’ and I am King of all Beasts, the world over.” The response boils down to “I didn’t vote for you.”
Dorothy and the Wizard are just here to hire some monkeys, but baby supervillain Kiki panics and does a rapid round of transformations on them. Plus on Ruggedo — who gets to be a goose, which terrifies him, because what if he lays an egg?
Eventually the Wizard (as a fox) catches up with them, overhears Kiki saying the magic word, and uses it to turn Kiki and Ruggedo into nuts.
Honestly, it’s kinda refreshing how fast the invasion subplot peters out. The animals realize the “magicians” were full of it, and immediately drop their halfhearted sense of grudge. A bunch of monkeys even agree to come join them for the party.
The Glass Cat catches up with them to explain what’s happened to Trot and Cap’n Bill, they take a detour to wrap up that subplot too, and everyone goes home for the party.
“You will have noticed that the company at Ozma’s banquet table was somewhat mixed.” Heh.
Character apparent-age update:
When Dorothy and Trot and Betsy Bobbin and Ozma were together, one would think they were all about of an age, and the fairy Ruler no older and no more “grown up” than the other three. She would laugh and romp with them in regular girlish fashion, yet there was an air of quiet dignity about Ozma, even in her merriest moods, that, in a manner, distinguished her from the others. The three girls loved her devotedly, but they were never able to quite forget that Ozma was the Royal Ruler of the wonderful Fairyland of Oz, and by birth belonged to a powerful race.
It isn’t until the last chapter that the Wizard finally remembers about the nuts in his pocket.
I’ve complained about the protagonist-centered morality before, and the ending here might be the most head-desky example on the whole series. Ozma, Dorothy, and the Wizard talk about not knowing how powerful the mystery magicians might be…but unlike with the invading armies from book 6, they’re not facing a concrete threat of overwhelming force. It’s just a guess. And we, the readers, know for a fact that Kiki Aru is just a kid who knows one trick, while the other nut is Ruggedo, nobody they can’t handle.
In spite of this, the characters repeat the “manipulate the attackers into drinking the Water of Oblivion” trick. They recognize Ruggedo, but have no idea who Kiki is, and don’t bother to ask before he takes a drink. So the kid loses his identity…and all memory of the family he left at the beginning of the book. Now they’ll never find out what happened to their son.
Dammit, Baum, magically lobotomizing characters you don’t like is not a happy ending!
Which brings us to Glinda of Oz, another of those books where the title character isn’t the focus, and in fact is only around for half of the story.
It starts as a Dorothy-and-Ozma quest, kicked off when they visit Glinda, read in her Magic Book about a war brewing between two isolated communities, and decide to go intervene.
At Glinda’s place: “Ozma took the arm of her hostess, but Dorothy lagged behind, kissing some of the maids she knew best, talking with others, and making them all feel that she was their friend.” I’ve joked about Ozma’s harem, but whoo boy, Dorothy isn’t doing so bad herself.
Some final retconning: people in Oz can’t die *or* suffer “any great bodily pain.” So even if you get put through the torn-to-pieces-and-scattered-across-the-world horror show, at least it won’t hurt!
The warring communities are the Flatheads, who have no room for brains in their heads but compensate by carrying some around in cans, and the Skeezers, who live on a sinkable island in a lake.
Both of them have fairly terrible, selfish, dictatorial rulers…but both of them make the point that they’ve never heard of Ozma, didn’t know their lands had been declared within the borders of a country called Oz, and so why should they acknowledge her as their ruler the moment she shows up on their doorstep?
Oh, goody, marriage-is-awful jokes:
“I’m sorry we couldn’t have roast pig,” said the [Supreme Dictator of the Flatheads], “but as the only pig we have is made of gold, we can’t eat her. Also the Golden Pig happens to be my wife, and even were she not gold I am sure she would be too tough to eat.”
The Skeezers’ island sinks while Dorothy and Ozma are on it, and the ruler gets turned into a swan before she can bring it back up, so they’re stuck for a while. Baum indulges in some pretty description of the undersea environment. Reminds me of The Sea Fairies.
A bunch of reviews claim this is one of the darker Oz books. It’s really not! Remember the first book, where Dorothy and her companions went through multiple fights to the death, and for a while Dorothy was in forced servitude to the Wicked Witch and spent her nights crying alone in the dark? Now here, Dorothy is imprisoned in a place with gorgeous scenery, the company of her best friend, and total confidence they’ll get rescued sooner or later. Her biggest fear is getting bored while they wait.
Glinda resurfaces (hah!) in chapter 13 of 24. She sinks a model island in a pond near her home, for the purpose of testing various island-raising magics.
I was just thinking how comparatively nice it was to have a stripped-down party, just Dorothy and Ozma…and then in chapter 15 it seems like half the Emerald City heads out to rescue them. The Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Lion, Scraps, Button-Bright, Ojo, the Glass Cat, Tik-Tok, Jack Pumpkinhead, the Woggle-Bug, the Shaggy Man, Cap’n Bill, Trot, Betsy, the Frogman, Uncle Henry (but for some reason not Aunt Em), the Wizard, AND Glinda.
That’s eighteen people! Tik-Tok, the Woggle-bug, the Lion, and Jack don’t get any lines once the quest is underway. Shaggy, Cap’n Bill and Uncle Henry get one line apiece. One!
Gratuitous magical gizmo for the Wizard: a skeropythrope. He never leaves home without one.
All this is doubly superfluous because most of the conflict gets solved by the Rightful Rulers of the Flatheads, working together with a Plucky Skeezer Lad. Also, another magic-user (a Yookoohoo, same type as Mrs. Yoop) who gets talked into helping via reverse psychology.
(The Yookoohoo, Red Reera, is another shapeshifter, and apparently Baum’s original manuscript had her appear as a wired-together skeleton with glowing eyes. Okay, that’s appreciably dark. In the published book, she spends most of her time as an ape.)
Dorothy has a good moment where she figures out how to raise the island. The magic was designed by one person, the Skeezers’ usurper queen, so all she has to do is apply the psychology of the individual. Well done.
In a nice reversal, the end sees the Flatheads all transformed to have round heads, with space to safely store their brains. So they’re much less likely to get lobotomized now.
And the Skeezers get to elect their new ruler! They pick Lady Aurex, a sweet, subversive courtier who took care of Dorothy and Ozma while they were prisoners. Good choice.
The moral of the story, according to Ozma, is that it’s always important to do your duty — meaning her royal duty to step in when a war is brewing, and bring the diplomacy.
The moral of the story, it seems to me, is that you shouldn’t send twenty characters to do a quest that needs, like…six, max.
Especially since it really seems like the locals had this covered! Which is, to be fair, not a bad note to leave the series on. Oz is in good hands.
Monday-ish Works Roundup (11/29) November 29, 2016Posted by Erin Ptah in Leif & Thorn, Works Roundup.
Tags: Ace Attorney, Fake News, Fic, Fledgling, Overwatch, problematic ships project, Red Dwarf, Steven Universe
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Leif & Thorn(/Fake News)
Say hello to my little friends (art | Tansy, Mata, Pato | worksafe)
Let Me Give Your Heart A Break (art | Delphinium | worksafe)
Character vs. Inspiration: Bennet and Olive (comic | Bennet, “Stephen”, Olivia, Olive | worksafe)
If you cannot afford a glomp, one will be provided (sketch | Athena Cykes x Simon Blackquill | worksafe)
Shori’s Brood (sketch | Shori, the symbionts | worksafe)
A Cat sleeps where a Cat wants (art | Cat, Lister | worksafe)
I made you a meepmorp (sketch | Amethyst/Peridot | worksafe)
Caitlyn (reward chibi, worksafe)
This Week in But I’m A Cat Person:
Timothy and Reseda arrive at their road-trip destination.
This Week in Leif & Thorn:
Annie and her colleagues work on coping, in a mine full of stress and dust and not a lot of food.
Hillary Clinton’s lead is up to 2.2 million, and other politics news November 25, 2016Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
Tags: Hillary Clinton, Jill Stein, Politics, racism, the gays
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From the Cook Political Report’s numbers as of November 22: HRC is up to 64,500,489 while Donald is only at 62,371,681.
Obama in 2012 clocked in at 65,446,032 — and there are still enough uncounted ballots in California that Hillary has a good shot at matching him.
So there’s that.
I knew about HRC making it easier for trans people to get passports, but I just now learned that she did a whole truckload of other things for LGBT people at the State Department. Making the passport office recognize the name you were married and/or civil-unioned under! Extending spousal benefits to the same-sex partners of American diplomats!
So many of us faffed around arguing over whether she was quick enough to make a public statement in support of legal same-sex marriage. When it was a symbolic move anyway, given that the decision had nothing to do with her. We should’ve been looking at her actions where she did have the power to change the lives of same-sex couples, because, guess what, she had our backs.
…and now I have a lot of terrible Trump headlines to unload.
Headlines that you wish were a joke: “Sane, Competent Official Uncovered on Trump Transition Team and Is Immediately Fired.”
Megyn Kelly opens up about the potentially-fatal level of harassment the Trump campaign sent her way. “We had security guards the whole year. I mean the threat level got so high that it was impossible not to take that seriously.”
A cohesive and source-link-filled history of rape allegations against Trump, up to and including the case that would have gone to trial next month if Jane Doe hadn’t dropped it because of, again, an unbearable level of death threats.
Law & Order: SVU keeps pushing back the airing of a Trump-inspired episode. “The first air date would have been just after the notorious Access Hollywood recording, in which Trump spoke of using his fame to make sexual advances on women, and just before the third and finale debate. The second back-pedaling for the episode came after numerous sexual assault allegations against Trump surfaced.”
“Starting when I was 15, my life was not my own. For years, I had no control over what happened to me. Being in the spotlight makes me wary and self-conscious again. I am overwhelmed with fear that an overzealous Trump supporter might take matters into his or her hands.”
“Rightfully, the kids in York who chanted “white power” were suspended. But Bauman feels any anti-bullying initiatives in schools will be easily undermined, considering the biggest bully of them all is leading our nation.”
“What may seem like a dramatic rise in the number of hate harassment and hate incidents happening across the country in the wake of Tuesday’s general election is not in anyone’s imagination…A representative for one group, in fact, said the rise appears to be even worse that what was took place immediately after the terror attacks in 2001.”
The Stein campaign has officially filed for the recount in Wisconsin. (Incidentally, so did the Rocky Roque De La Fuente campaign. Maybe they can split the filing fees.)
The WI Election Commission currently lists Trump as having 22,177 more votes than Clinton. For perspective, Jill Stein got 31,006 WI votes. “Unregistered write-in candidates” — there’s no breakdown, but some portion of this is Bernie write-ins — got 26,002.
Deadlines in Pennsylvania and Michigan are next week, and the Greens are still fundraising to cover the Michigan costs. If you’re in the US, consider slinging a few dollars their way.
Tags: activism, call your reps, Hillary Clinton, Politics, resources
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Who should I be calling?
For everyone in the US:
- Paul Ryan is doing an automated Obamacare phone survey — (202)-225-0600. If you’re nervous about calling your reps, this is a good place to start — all you have to do is press buttons (first 2 to take the survey, then 1 to support the ACA).
- House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform — (202) 225-5074. Call before Thanksgiving to demand a bipartisan review of Trump’s financial conflicts of interest. Here’s a script. This spreadsheet has another.
Find your specific district reps:
- House.gov search page (House only; if your zip code spans multiple districts, this site will let you pinpoint the one you’re in)
- Whoismyrepresentative.com (House and Senate; can’t narrow down results within a zip code; clean contact info pages, but check a rep’s website if you want to make sure you have their district/state office)
- USAGov Contact Information (state governors, other local resources)
Okay, I have the numbers, give me some advice
- How to call your reps when you have social anxiety (a soothing step-by-step comic)
- How to effectively talk to your member of congress (recommends calling district/state offices, showing up at town hall meetings)
- How Best To Harass Your Local Civil Servant (recommends clear goals, making notes for yourself, and requesting a callback)
- Make sure you’re only calling the people on your ballots (other offices won’t care, and might forward the issue to your reps as a courtesy, but aren’t legally obligated to)
- Call Your Dang Reps (highlights the value of calling, not just to raise hell, but to thank your reps for doing things you like)
- “We’re His Problem Now” Calling Sheet (more step-by-step instructions, a bunch of sample scripts for general issues, and specific weekly calls to action)
What else can I do while I work up the nerve to make a call?
- Oh, Crap! What Now? Survival Guide (how to prepare yourself for all kinds of things, e.g. hate crimes, digital espionage, possible loss of healthcare)
- HOLY FUCK THE ELECTION (a walkthrough that tells you where to aim, based on the issues you care about and the resources you have)
- Fuck Donald Trump Charity Masterlist (dozens of national & local organizations, sorted by issue, that could use some money)
- Official White House Petitions (I recommend Commute Chelsea Manning’s Sentence and Protect Civilians at Standing Rock)
Tell me something good to end this post
Keep that in mind any time someone tries to talk about Trump voters being a “silent majority.” They’re a minority. They only “won” because the Electoral College screwed us over (for the second time in five elections). We have more voters. Full stop.
Erin Reads: Princess Ozma’s Party Guests November 16, 2016Posted by Erin Ptah in Erin Watches.
Tags: racism, The Wizard of Oz, transgender
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Only two Oz books left in the reread. I’m dragging it out with some of Baum’s other works.
…so I had this mostly geared up last Monday, and then, uh, some stuff happened that took precedence. And there will be more election-handling signal-boosting posts to come. But for now, let’s take a trip back to the beginning of the 20th century…in the fun children’s-fantasy way, not the way the Republican Party wants to take the country for real.
Dot and Tot in Merryland
From general osmosis I thought Dot and Tot were magical children, but no, Dot is a normal American kid! In contrast to Dorothy’s poverty, Dot (full name Evangeline Josephine Freeland) is the daughter of a banker. Grew up with servants, they own multiple residences, her mom does a health-improving tour of Europe without any detriment to her finances. Tot is the gardener’s boy, a little younger, reminiscent (preminiscent?) of Button-Bright’s first appearance.
Looks like this is the first book Baum published after Oz became a runaway hit? He’s not very creative with names yet, is he. Dorothy and Toto; Dot and Tot.
The kids are in a boat that comes loose, and drift through a cave and into the valleys of Merryland. There’s a clown valley, a candy valley…the Queen is a doll, and lives in the Valley of the Dolls. Kitty valley, toy-animal valley, and eerie Valley of Lost Things.
It’s…remarkably boring. The valleys are themed based on Stuff Kids Like, which feels like pandering without a whole lot of thought put into it — and it falls flat, because “I like watching clowns” doesn’t necessarily mean “I like reading about fictional characters observing that they like watching clowns.”
We only get tiny blips of conflict, like when Tot eats a Candy Man’s thumb. (Dorothy notices the missing thumb in Road to Oz. Continuity!)
I do like the running gag of never getting an answer about the Queen’s name until the very end.
So I’m listening to a charmingly bland passage about the valley of the candy people, when OH SNAP suddenly I can tell you why this book hasn’t stood the test of time.
A man made of marshmallows abruptly throws out this gem:
“One of our greatest troubles is that we cannot depend upon our colored servants, who are chocolate. Chocolates can seldom be depended on, you know.”
Aaaand not long afterward: chocolate “serving maids, with complexions so dark brown in color that Dot was almost afraid of them.” WOW.
The illustrations, too — I looked it up on Gutenberg — aren’t shy about things like golliwog dolls. (The cooks are black dolls and the chambermaids are china dolls. Good lord.)
…It occurs to me that, since this is from 1901, the whole “comparing black people to chocolate” trope might actually have seemed like a clever innovation at the time? But whoo boy has that not aged well.
(Things that don’t age well even though they weren’t a problem to start with: the valley of cats features liberal description of “pussies.”)
Verdict: Technically better-crafted than Mo, not as good as the Trot books, maybe on a par with the worse Oz books…but holy cow, that overt racism. Skippable.
Zixi of Ix (or, The Magic Cloak)
This one was originally written as a serial for a magazine (and it shows). The plot flips between Ix and Noland, both countries whose royalty also showed up at Ozma’s party.
King Bud and his sister Princess Fluff sounded older at the party, but here the country of Noland seems almost unmagical, and they start off as normal kids. The king dies; some obscure statute says the 47th person to come in the capitol city’s gate the next morning is the new king; and, whoops, it’s the recently-orphaned Bud.
(Real names: Margaret and two-years-younger Timothy. Baum sure does love writing kids with weird nicknames.)
Meanwhile, the faeries have made a magic cloak because they were bored, and gave it to Fluff. It grants wishes, and she cheerfully lends it out to people indiscriminately, so accidental havoc-wreaking wishes ensue. Things like “I wish I could fly” or “I wish I was ten feet tall.”
The palace has lightning rods! Modern!
Shameless references to children getting whipped. Un-modern.
The sentence-by-sentence writing in this one is really solid. Good scene-setting. Good dry wit. When the councilors are initially debating what to base their decisions on:
“This book of laws was written years ago and was meant to be used when the king was absent or ill or asleep.”
And this is from when Bud first takes office:
“Just now it is your duty to hear the grievances of your people,” answered Tallydab gently.
“What’s the matter with ’em?” asked Bud crossly. “Why don’t they keep out of trouble?”
“I do not know, your Majesty, but there are always disputes among the people.”
“But that isn’t the king’s fault, is it?” said Bud.
Enjoyable, thoughtful scenes about what it’s actually like for a kid to suddenly have absolute power. Like, there’s an unusually subtle mix of “from the mouths of babes” and “you just got conned, because you have no idea how to do this.”
We’re almost halfway through the book (chapter 10 of 23) when we actually pay a visit to Ix, which appears to be another mostly-mundane country, except that Queen Zixi is a witch of 683 years old who still looks 16. (The rest of the populace ages normally. Reference to old men whose grandfathers remembered how Zixi was just as pretty when they were kids.)
“…for newsmongers, as everyone knows, were ever unable to stick to facts since the world began.”
Sudden body horror, yikes. “To mortal eyes Zixi was charming and attractive, yet her reflection in a mirror showed to her an ugly old hag, bald of head, wrinkled, with toothless gums and withered, sunken cheeks.”
And that’s why Zixi vows to steal Fluff’s cloak.
Geez, from her presentation at Ozma’s party (…and, let’s face it, her name alone), I was expecting her to be generally Ozma-esque, much the way Betsy is Trot-esque. Not so!
Her first scheme is downright Pratchettian:
Then Zixi had printed on green paper a lot of handbills which read as follows:
“MISS TRUST, a pupil of the celebrated Professor Hatrack of
Hooktown-on-the-Creek, is now located at Woodbine Villa (North Gateway of
Nole) and is prepared to teach the young ladies of this city the
Arts of Witchcraft according to the most modern and approved methods. Terms
moderate. References required.”
Even more so when she says “all right kids, come in tomorrow wearing your best cloaks!” — and Fluff’s immediate response is to think “huh, that sounds really suspiciously specific.”
I’m really sad that Ixi only keeps this up for like a chapter before deciding “screw it, I’m just gonna declare war on Noland.”
“Yet I can never resist admiring a fine soldier, whether he fights for or against me. For instance, just look at that handsome officer riding beside Queen Zixi—her chief general, I think. Isn’t he sweet? He looks just like an apple, he is so round and wears such a tight-fitting jacket. Can’t you pick him for me, friend Tellydeb?”
(That’s from Tollydob, one of the councilors. I could ship it.)
The war is also won by Nol pretty fast. You can tell Baum is constantly working in a mindset of “better wrap things up, the next chapter might be my last — oh, it won’t? — okay, better make up a whole new conflict, and fast.” Like a TV writer, only more so.
Zixi finally gets ahold of the cloak by getting herself hired as a maid, making an imitation cloak, and swapping it for Fluff’s in a game of Duck Season/Wabbit Season. So technically it’s not stolen, and the magic works.
Although she still screws up her wish. Sigh.
By the way, this book is blissfully racism-free, but it does give us this bit of unnecessary meanness:
“Why do you sob?” questioned the queen.
“Because I want to be a man,” replied the child, trying to stifle her sobs.
“Why do you want to be a man?” asked Zixi curiously.
“Because I’m a little girl,” was the reply.
This made Zixi angry. “You’re a little fool!” she exclaimed loudly.
I’m just going to pretend that was a trans girl wishing she was a cis man. Makes it all the better when, in a chapter or so, she’s decided to love and accept herself for who she is.
Two-thirds of the way through, Zixi wanders out of the narrative completely, and in bounce a civilization of rubber people living up in the mountains. Baum sure loves his bouncy people, huh?
They decide to take over Nol, and do a much better job of it than Ix did. Especially since the kids don’t have the real cloak to use in self-defense anymore. So they decide:
“Well, there’s no one else we can trust, so we may as well try Zixi.”
Seems like a fast turnaround for an Enemy Mine situation, but okay.
What finally ends the story is that the fairy queen Lulea comes to get her cloak back. She’s sick of it being used for silly things. Bud complains that it’s not fair: he didn’t get a wish, because he’s been holding off until he had a really good idea.
And Lulea lets him have one! So instead of being a clunky Aesop about not putting things off, it becomes a story about how taking your time and thinking about your decisions is valuable, and wise queenly types appreciate it.
“I wish,” announced Bud gravely, “that I shall become the best king that Noland has ever had!”
Epilogue says that it works! Plus, Fluff later marries the unnamed prince of an unspecified kingdom, and is also a good queen.
John Dough and the Cherub
This one’s all plot.
A Mysterious Arab(TM) named Ali Dubh has been hoarding the Water of Life for years now, the latest in a long line of hoarders, but since he’s being chased by people who want to steal it, he gives it to someone else to keep safe…and makes the mistake of choosing a French-American baker couple, who promptly accidentally use it to bring a five-foot-tall gingerbread man to life.
John Dough is another animated-artificial-humanoid in the vein of the Scarecrow or Jack Pumpkinhead, whose main goal in life is not to be destroyed (in his case, eaten). He starts off in the mundane US, but a Fourth-of-July firework takes him to the unsubtly-named Isle of Phreex, and from there he journeys through a series of weird islands trying to stay one step ahead of Ali Dubh.
For the record: while the whole “sinister Arab antagonist” thing is awfully sketchy, at least this time Baum doesn’t put in anything about how all Arabs are [insert stereotype here].
On Phreex, John meets Chick the Cherub, who immediately decides to be his best friend. Chick’s whole backstory is so trippy. Apparently “putting a baby in an incubator” is the 1910s equivalent of the 1960s “accidental dose of gamma radiation” — a plausible-sounding excuse for all kinds of bizarre physical traits. No parents! Incredibly intelligent! Needs a special exotic diet! (Conveniently, it excludes gingerbread, so John has no fear Chick will eat him.)
And this is fun: Chick is canon nonbinary. And/or intersex. It’s not clear how much Baum knew about either issue, but we do know is that the writing plays a strong game of pronoun-dodging, and when a pronoun is unavoidable Chick uses “it.”
Para Bruin the rubber bear is also from this story! (Baum’s thing for rubber strikes again.)
Is this the only Baumian book with a language barrier? John Dough is magically enabled to speak to anyone, but Para Bruin speaks one language, Chick and the other humans speak another, and the Mifkins speak a third.
Unexpectedly serious body horror when John’s fingers get eaten off.
The story wraps up in a typical Baumian way: John stumbles into a country (well, two countries; this is the book that Hiland and Loland are from) that needs a new ruler, and the people immediately decide he’s a great choice.
Apparently the publishers wanted Baum to firmly establish Chick as male or female by the end. He refused. The last few lines of the book:
“The Records of the Kingdom say very little of Chick’s later history, merely mentioning the fact that the King’s most valuable assistant was the Head Booleywag, who grew up to be the especial favorite of all the inhabitants of the island. But, curiously enough, the Records fail to state whether the Head Booleywag was a man or a woman.”
Post-election huddle crosspost. November 10, 2016Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup, Personal.
Tags: Hillary Clinton, Politics, things that matter
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So. That happened.
Clinton won the popular vote, but Trump got the presidency.
I know a lot of people who are really scared right now. I know I’m scared. It’s horrifying to be faced with just how many people in your own country absolutely hate you and your family and your loved ones and other people like them. Or at the very least, who don’t appreciate that you exist, as real live people outside of political talking points.
Hillary appreciated it. She was with us. The fact that she never caused a revolution made a lot of people overlook the steady progress she’s been making for us all along.
She was with us as an undergrad, fighting to get more black students and faculty at her college. With us as a young lawyer, getting laws changed to make schools accommodate disabled children, founding the first rape crisis counseling hotline in her state, making sure low-income people could get attorneys over conservative outrage that they dared to serve gay clients. With us as first lady, winning huge victories for veterans’ mental health care and children’s health insurance and adoption for non-traditional families. With us as a Senator, co-sponsoring bills that expanded health coverage into Native communities, supported Afghan refugees, monitored everything from anti-Semitism to broadband access. With us as Secretary of State, making it easier for trans people to get the right gender on their passports, creating wide-ranging programs to support women around the world.
She can’t be with us as President right now. Neither can Bernie or Warren or Biden or either of the Obamas, or any of the other people we love. But when you look at everything Clinton’s done without ever holding that office — we can keep doing these things, guys. We can love each other and support each other and keep fighting for everything in reach.
We’re still with each other. Please hold that in your hearts.
Here’s a list of organizations that could use your help. The ones standing up for reproductive rights, for the environment, for our kids, against sexism, against police violence, against racism, against homophobia, for our future.
I love you all.
Monday Works Roundup, 11/7/16 November 7, 2016Posted by Erin Ptah in But I'm A Cat Person, Leif & Thorn, Works Roundup.
Tags: art, Dorothy Gale, Fake News, Hillary Clinton, MadoHomu, Politics, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Steven Universe, Wizard of Oz, yuri
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Leif & Thorn
…and how it harmed you (art | gem!Leif, gem!Thorn | worksafe)
Thorny Fanservice Meme (art meme | Leif/Thorn, Del, Kale | NSFW ish)
Year One (art | Leif/Thorn | worksafe)
Costumed in Ceannis (art | Violet, Rowan, Ivy, Holly | worksafe)
2016 sketchpile (sketches | ensemble | worksafe)
Happy birthday, HRC (art | Hillary Clinton | worksafe)
Dorothy’s Menagerie (sketch | Dorothy, Toto, Eureka, Billina, Lion | worksafe)
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Red Bow Gives You Wings -preview- (art | HomuMado | worksafe preview, NSFW full size)
Luchaquartzes (art | Amethyst, Jasper | worksafe)
My pretty bluebell doll (art | Blue Diamond/Blue Pearl | worksafe)
Got you a flower (art | Lapis/Peridot | worksafe)
Besuited Sardonyx (art | Pearl/Garnet, Sardonyx | worksafe)
This Week in But I’m A Cat Person:
I been runnin’ down the road tryin’ to loosen my load, got a world of trouble on my mind.
This Week in Leif & Thorn:
Meet the engineers who are going to help sort this mine collapse. The tiny, tiny engineers.
Political grab bag. (Grandkids, hotels, post-apocalyptic Elizabeth Warren, and more.) November 4, 2016Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
Tags: Fake News, Hillary Clinton, Politics
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TDS flash-forwards to a pirate broadcast from the end of Trump’s first term. Desi Lydic is doing makeshift alleyway broadcasts with a rat, Ronnie Chieng moved back to China just in time to make millions off of Trump’s botched details…my favorite part is how Trump’s opponents have all been banished, but Elizabeth Warren is leading a group of rebels as “The Woman in the Woods.”
“How many presidents had grandchildren when they moved into the White House? Given that more than 14,000 historians are members of the American Historical Association, and that genealogy has become an enormous hobby, you would think this would be an easy question to answer.” It’s not, but they’ve taken a shot at it. 3 of our last 6 presidents had them, and at least 12 out of the whole 44.
“Consumer of orphan and puppy souls Hillary Clinton helps raise awareness about child trafficking in Haiti.”
“Between 2003 and 2009, the Bush White House “lost” 22 million emails. This correspondence included millions of emails written during the darkest period in America’s recent history, when the Bush administration was ginning up support for what turned out to be a disastrous war in Iraq with false claims that the country possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and, later, when it was firing U.S. attorneys for political reasons.”
Surprising numbers of teenagers in Macedonia are getting rich quick…by writing fake Trump-related news stories and reaping the ad revenue.
Guess which employees is Trump refusing to pay this week! If you said “his own campaign pollsters,” you guessed right.
Trump hotels are taking a beating in the price wars. Beautiful schadenfreude.
“but what has Hillary ACCOMPLISHED?” #ImWithHer November 4, 2016Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
Tags: Hillary Clinton, Politics
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Yeah, I’m gonna crosspost one more of these.
Because it’s an ugly sexist myth that Hillary Clinton has never gotten anything done, and Donald keeps saying it anyway, because he knows his supporters will never bother to look it up. (Also to distract from his own record of bankruptcies and lawsuits and not getting an Emmy.)
And even on the left, you get people saying “how can we trust Clinton, even if her positions sound good, how can we know if she’ll follow through?”
Gee, I dunno, maybe we can look at her forty-year track record and extrapolate from there.
(Buckle up, this one’s gonna get long.)
In fact, let’s go back farther, let’s look at Hillary Rodham the Wellesley undergrad, 1965-1969:
- This kid pushed for everything from “increasing the number of black students and faculty members” to “a better system for returning library books
- Seriously, Hillary did more to advance racial justice while she was in college than Trump has done in his entire life
- …and one friend remembers her as the only white person who called with sympathy when MLK was shot
And then let’s talk about Hillary the law student, lawyer, and professor, with some First Lady of Arkansas thrown in:
- 1972: went undercover to expose secret illegal segregation in Arkansas private schools
- 1973: went door-to-door for the Children’s Defense Fund, looking for people whose kids weren’t getting to school, and asking why
- Turns out the reason was usually “the school can’t handle my kid’s disability”
- In fact, pre-1975: “U.S. public schools accommodated only 1 out of 5 children with disabilities. Until that time, many states had laws that explicitly excluded children with certain types of disabilities from attending public school.”
- HRC researched and helped prepare the CDF report that was a major catalyst for the US finally making that illegal
- 1975: you may have heard that this was the year when Hillary was the (court-appointed) defense attorney for a rapist (who pled guilty)
- but you probably haven’t heard what she did next:
- She founded the first rape-crisis counseling hotline in Arkansas
- And this was not a symbolic gesture
- This was not something she halfassed for the sake of looking good
- Hillary made herself a nationally-renowned expert in the field
- Listen: “In 1975, I helped start the first rape crisis center in Atlanta. I was trying to navigate the legal issues related to child assault victims, but the law was so new, I was lost, so I asked for help. Everywhere I called, the experts would say, ‘Do you know Hillary Rodham? She’s who you need to talk to.’”
- 1977: co-founded Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, a nonprofit that’s still going strong
- And worked for the Legal Services Corporation – a government service that makes sure low-income people can get attorneys – under Jimmy Carter
- Note that conservatives hate the LSC, in part because it was openly serving gay clients in the ‘70s
- Seriously, open this Heritage Foundation screed and skip to the bit about “homosexual activists”
- (or just read the whole thing, it’s great)
- With HRC’s chairmanship, that agency tripled its budget
- 1979: chair of a committee that expanded healthcare access into rural Arkansas! and helped establish the state’s first neonatal nursery! and a program to help parents of preschool-age at-risk children!
Let’s talk about First Lady Clinton, 1993-2001:
- 1994: (movie trailer voice) In A World where gay sex was literally illegal … where gay people were thrown out of the military, to laughter and applause on the Senate floor … One Political Couple had a politically radioactive idea: what if we stopped doing that?
- 1995: Hillary fought for mental health care for Gulf War veterans, back when the Defense Department hadn’t even worked out that Gulf War PTSD and chemical-warfare-related health issues were a thing
- 1997: long before Obamacare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program
- More than 8 million children got health insurance
- HRC wasn’t even in Congress yet, and her efforts were pivotal in getting the law passed – and then translating it into action
- Same with the Adoption and Safe Families Act, “the most significant change in federal child-protection policy in almost two decades”
- Note: “it expands both adoptions and federal assistance in general to a wider population of Americans — single adults, including lesbians and gay men, even single elderly people — people usually left out of family focused agenda”
- 1999: Followed that up with the Foster Care Independence Act, making sure kids who have aged out of the foster care system could get things like healthcare, housing assistance, and counseling
HRC followed that by immediately getting elected Senator from New York, and then re-elected by an even wider margin, so she served from 2001-2009.
I’m just gonna focus on the 77 bills Senator Clinton sponsored or cosponsored that that became law (although she introduced more than 2000, so imagine what could’ve happened with a Democratic majority):
- Of the 70 GOP senators she worked alongside, a whopping 56 of them co-sponsored at least one bill with her.
- That’s 80%
- That’s the “4 out of 5 dentists recommend…!” tier of approval
- (and STILL you get people trying to spin that as proof that she’s not bipartisan!)
- 2001: Clinton was “instrumental” in getting federal aid for NYC after 9/11
- Then in getting medical treatment for first responders
- And it’s not just the people close to home she works for: check out the Afghan Women and Children Relief Act, to “provide urgent funds for immunisation, basic education and other assistance to vulnerable women and children, including refugees.”
- You like research and care for leukemia and other blood cancers, right? So does HRC
- You like research and care for breast/cervical cancer, right? And you think Native American women should be covered by the treatment options? So does HRC
- 2002: Requiring pharmaceutical companies to do specific research on the effects their drugs have on children, and label accordingly
- Pediatricians talk about how this has led to real, substantial improvements in their ability to treat kids
- 2003: You like research and care for West Nile and other mosquito-borne viruses, right? So does HRC
- Congress’ very first nanotech bill, authorizing R&D funds
- 2004: Creating a State Department envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism
- Try to look this one up and most of what you’ll get is furious articles from Stormfront
- 2006: You like research and care for babies born prematurely, right? So does HRC – and the March of Dimes loves it
- Protecting people in the armed forces from predatory insurance schemes
- Improving our preparedness for public health emergencies, including funding for NHS workers, more consideration for at-risk individuals, and uniform coordination of electronic response systems across states
- Look, I’m not saying there will be a zombie apocalypse
- I’m just saying, HRC has taken into account the needs of children, people with disabilities, and people with limited English if there’s a zombie apocalypse
- 2008: You like research and care for traumatic brain injuries, right? So does HRC
- You like early screening and care for congenital disorders that show up in newborns, right? So does HRC
- There’s a whole package of amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act to make it apply more broadly, which, again, just go read the whole thing, it’s worth it
- You like research and treatment for ALS, right? “A nationwide registry will help us learn what causes ALS, how it can be effectively diagnosed and treated, and ultimately how it can be cured. This is a tremendous victory.”
- btw, this was 6 years before the Ice Bucket Challenge
- Hillary Clinton: Cares About Stuff Before It Goes Viral
- Mapping broadband access across the US, particularly in rural and native communities, so we can compare our progress to other countries and identify barriers for getting high-speed internet access everywhere
- Hey, Tumblr, you care about keeping sexual predators from targeting children online, right? Here’s a bill with a ton of provisions going at that
- 2009: the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which is still having real-world effects as it lets women and minorities sue for equal paychecks
At this point she was also running for President, but in swept Barack Obama and charmed the hearts of America, so Clinton ended up serving as his Secretary of State from 2009-2013.
There’s no Big Flashy Showpiece you can point to from Secretary Clinton’s tenure. A lot of her diplomatic work was straight-up post-Bush-administration repair work and maintenance. A lot of it was, frankly, unsexy. No one writes breathless headlines about statistically-supported initiatives to distribute lifesaving low-pollution stoves.
Also, she didn’t singlehandedly bring peace to the Middle East. So, y’know, missed opportunity there.
But she was obviously doing something right, because Hillary Clinton had a 69% approval rating when she left the State Department in 2013.
A quick roundup of some things Secretary Clinton pulled off just fine:
- Visited more countries than any Secretary of State in US history
- Seriously, she spent the equivalent of 87 full days on airplanes
- Do not talk to Clinton about stamina
- 2009: Policy nerd Hillary gave the State Department internal reviews and long-term planning on a level they had literally never done before
- (I told you some of this was unsexy)
- 2010: Did you know we had a 25-year loss of military defense ties with New Zealand? Yeah, HRC fixed that
- “Clinton enacted a new rule making it easier for transgender people to register their identities on their passports. […] At the time, this was the most pro-transgender action by the federal government ever, and—coming a full six years before the Pentagon announced transgender troops could serve openly—it stands as one of the most progressive things Clinton has ever done.”
- 2011: pledging disaster relief for Japan after the earthquake and tsunami
- Oh, and the team behind the takedown of bin Laden
- When surveyed a few months after that, a third of Americans believed Clinton would’ve been a better president than Obama
- 2012: Negotiated an unexpected ceasefire in Gaza between Israel and Hamas
- and hey, you want to talk about business experience?
- Clinton’s State Department helped clinch a bunch of business contracts between US companies with foreign governments
- Notables: Boeing and Russia in 2009, Lockheed Martin and Japan in 2011, Space Systems/Loral and Australia in 2012
- ”…the State Department’s 2012 fiscal-year request includes $1.2 billion in programs specifically targeting women, $832 million of which will go toward global health initiatives. Tellingly, comparisons with past years can’t be made, since the department only started tracking women-focused dollars in 2010.“
People keep talking about how Clinton is, historically, one of the most unpopular presidential candidates. Those people usually don’t mention how, three years ago, she was the most popular politician in the United States.
And, look: no one is saying she’s only done good things. You can’t work this long in politics and expect to make only the right choices – follow only the strongest intelligence – back only the best policies. Reasonable people can find plenty to disagree with in her record. Plenty to criticize.
But when people try to claim she’s done nothing?
Or that she doesn’t have any consistent beliefs or principles – that her record doesn’t have constant themes that she’s been reliably standing for since the 1970s?
Hillary Clinton has made real, substantial progress for women’s rights.
Real, substantial progress for people with disabilities.
Real, substantial progress for the rights and protections of children.
Anyone tries to tell you otherwise, you laugh in their faces and start listing things. I bet you anything they run out of patience before you run out of list.