Monday, December 31, 2007

Girls, Girls, Girls

I'm reposting this comment I made over at Echidne's because I think it's something that you, my (whole three) readers might find interesting, and because I might want to expand on later. For context, go here.

Because men like to see women naked a lot more than women like to see men naked.

I call bullshit.

It may (or may not) be true that men are more visually stimulated than women are, but it's absolute BS that biology alone accounts for the fact that pornography is aimed almost solely at men - which is what I gather you are trying to argue.

As I said on my own blog just last night, anyone who thinks that women aren't turned on by pictures of men has never had the task of cleaning up the teen mag section of their local bookstore/supermarket.

I've been that girl. I know what they are looking for in Bop, Tiger Beat, etc. And it isn't that so and so likes Mars Bars but hates peas.

However, unlike boys, they often can't ever find what they are looking for, and so they settle for his favorite color instead. In part because they know that, unlike the boys, they aren't supposed to be looking for it. They aren't supposed to be masturbating. (And I don’t mean “people will tease you” - I mean “your parents will wish you weren’t their daughter.”) Girls aren't supposed to want sex – popular media may show women wanting sex more positively that it used to (but still usually not) but everyone is still very, very frightened of the fact that girls want sex. And so, during the time when they are just learning about their sexuality and are feeling very unsure about themselves, girls usually still hear over and over again that only bad girls want sex.

And so they learn to subvert their sexuality into something more palatable to the general public. One either learns to be asexual or to pretend that one's sexuality is defined only by what other people (men) find to be sexy in you. Often that weird mix of both that keeps us always on the losing side.

That isn't to say that wedes is wrong when she argues that it's normal for women to be aroused when others find us sexy. That this would be true seems obvious. But if it's so obvious, why isn't it obvious for men as well? (And how does who is looking at us come into play?)

I think that it's problematic to talk about freedom of choice and feeling sexy because someone is watching you without also addressing the male gaze, the absence of the female gaze in popular media, and the extent to which women are still often trained to view their own sexual pleasure as secondary, sinful, and/or non-existent. The fact that all this desperately needs addressing elsewhere does not mean that it shouldn’t be addressed when it comes to stripping and porn.

(Although I do agree with wedes that porn gets picked on a lot - because doing so allows us to pretend it's all over there, not in the middle of everything.)

Mostly though, I think it’s just dumb to talk about the gender division in stripping and porn as if it isn’t affected at all by the sexism that affects all other kinds of gender imbalances.

Why is prostitution a mostly female occupation? Do I really need to answer that question?

I’m guessing that you should think about your answer to that question a little more, at the very least.

And when you do, keep in mind that prostitution isn’t really a mostly female occupation. Worldwide, it’s mostly an occupation for women and children. Which isn’t to say that prostitution in inherently exploitive. Just that there’s lots of evidence that the extreme gender division in prostitution, like gender divisions elsewhere, is very much rooted in gender inequality and power structures, not biology.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Random Observations and Rantings

Since I started this blog in part to rant about working retail - because I quickly learned that one cannot actually rant to family or friends about working retail (at least when one is middle class) because it will inevitably lead to various iterations of "yeah, but..." - I thought I'd kick off my last week as a bookseller with some random observations/advice from working at a bookstore:

1) When giving a title/author over the phone, always say it slowly and enunciate. The person you are speaking to doesn't have the option of going to the other room where it's quieter.

In fact, this is fairly good advice in the store as well. Your title/author may sound perfectly logical to you, but I promise you that unless you are asking for a bestseller along the lines of The Secret or The Da Vinci Code (NOT the latest one week bestseller from Douglas Preston), your friendly neighborhood bookseller is not likely to hear "for a fueding once more" as "For a Few Demons More."

2) Whoever decided that women are not as visually stimulated as men has never had to clean up the teen mag section of their local bookstore/supermarket. If those 13 year olds thought they could get away with it, those pictures of the Jonas brothers on their walls? Would be completely buck naked. I swear, it's like they have to go over every single inch of every single one of those things every month just hoping they'll get some skin this time. (btw, whotf r jobros n e way?)

3) The most recent issue of Bitch? We got enough to warrant a full, unencumbered, out to edge, front row, eye-level slot on the magazine rack this time. awesome

4) When looking for a book in the children's section with "love" in the title, have either the exact title or the author. Preferably both. "But I saw it at Walmart and it had a cover with bears hugging..." Does NOT cut it and will just make me hate you. Do you have any idea how may books we have in the store that fit that description? Much less in the search database?

5) Do not, under any circumstances, answer "Are you finding everything ok?" With "Not my wife/husband/friends!" Your friendly neighborhood bookseller may cease to even remotely friendly at this point. And I swear, if one more person answers with "Not my kids!" I swear I am going to smack them. How the fuck am I supposed to know you mean your 16 year old and not your 4 year old? On second thought, I think I'm just going to look all panicked and immediately ask for a detailed description of the kid(s).

6) That "never" goes double for making cracks about stuff being free when we can't get the scanners to work. Making fun of us isn't going to endear you to us or make us think you ought to have your own sitcom. We are just going to think you are a jerk and pathetically unoriginal.

7) It's also not funny or nice when you joke about working at a bookstore actually entailing work. That's right up with there with the people who proclaim "I'd love to work here! I'd read books all day!" (You can do that now, you know...and get paid pretty much the same.....since you'd be fired before your first day was over. Presuming you made it past the interview.....)

I know it sounds like you are being sympathetic, but all you are doing is making more work for me - because yes, smiling while I pick up, for the umpteenth time, the dozens of millimeter thin chapter books that someone decided would stand upright on a shelf - that is work. Especially if what I am pretending to smile at is someone commenting on how much my job must suck while they just stand there and watch me do it. That's why they can fire me for simply failing to be friendly enough.* So, I may not hate you as much as I hate the idiots that decide to answer "can I help you?" with a question that belongs in Deep Thoughts, but I certainly don't think that you are funny. And if you are trying to be kind, you are failing miserably.

8) Speaking of jerks and jokes made at the expense of people who have very little power - I stopped laughing at your dumb jokes last year when retail ceased to be my primary source of income. Yeah, you don't like that too well, do you?

9)'s two days before Christmas, and we consistently do several thousand better that just about any other bookstore in the area on a normal day. We don't have shit. (No, seriously. We ran out of Goosebumps books this year, of all things.) Yeah, I know that the Riverside store does. Riverside still has copies because no one shops at Riverside. Why? Because they don't answer the effing phones for one....but if you'd like me to call them and have them put it on hold for you....

10) It's two days until Christmas. And Christmas is on a Tuesday this year. That makes today a Sunday. No, we cannot order it today and have it in before we close at 6 pm tomorrow.

11) "But it's cheaper on the website." Yes, that's because the website does not involve paying people like me.

12) I don't expect you to take my advice, but when you ask for it, and both I and the preteen fantasy fan** standing next to us advise you not to give your nine-year old daughter Tolkien as her first fantasy novel, I am a little miffed that you go ahead and get her The Hobbit anyway.

Now I, personally, loved The Hobbit at the tender age of 9***. However, I'd already read A Wrinkle in Time (et al), The Chronicle of Prydain, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Princess and the Goblin****. I may have even read The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown. In other words, lots and lots of fantasy books that actually have girls in them. But, please, do go on ahead and make your daughter's first introduction to fantasy a book that doesn't just feature a male protagonist (as does The Chronicles of Prydain) but is pretty much devoid of women and girls altogether. I'm sure that will go over quite well. Especially since it was clear that she would be reading it, rather than the two of you reading it together.

The Hobbit rocks. It also seems to think that girls are creatures more mythical and less likely than dragons. Methinks there are better first fantasy novels out there - for boys and girls. But wtf do I know.

13) Dear god, either my coworkers don't know the alphabet or they don't even bother to look. (Which, ok, Christmas, I can't really blame them.) I finally found 1 of our 2 copies of A Companion to Wolves next to The Princess Bride. I suppose I ought to thankful that it was in SciFi/Fantasy.

That's all for now, but I'm sure I'll have more. :)

*technically, I think I need to do more than that, but they can certainly cut my hours to the point where they might as well have fired me.

**I was initially just going to answer his question of "which cover would she like better?" Because I know better than to argue with customers that have that look in their eyes. The "I loved this as a kid and my kid will too!" look. (Yes, and that story your tell you kids to make them go to sleep will one day be a bestselling picture book!)

It was the 12 (?) year old girl that overheard our conversation that first suggested he pick something else.

***I may have actually been 10. But the point still remains.

****Too bad we didn't have that one in stock, I might have been able to persuade to him to see reason by telling him that George MacDonald's children's books were an inspiration to Tolkien. It also would have been fun watching him pretend to have already known that. Cuz tons of boys read MacDonald's stories nowadays.

And yes, I know I'm assuming that I know his daughter better than he does. But if he wasn't sure about the gift, he wouldn't have asked me for advice in the first place. He didn't give a damn about the covers, he just wanted me to tell him it was a fantastic idea. And possibly to brag about his daughter's literary feats.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pot, Meet Kettle

So, in doing some research to rebut a comment over at Pandagon, I stumbled across the information that McGovern was the replacement for Bobby Kennedy.

How did I not know that before?

And, wow, as if I didn't hate all the people that point to McGovern's loss as proof that under 30's are useless on election day enough to begin with.

Gee, you mean that the generation that watched the murder of their much beloved president on television when they were in jr. high and high school, and then watched the murder of his brother and their favorite presidential candidate only five years later when they were young adults, you mean they weren't really all that "into" the electoral process that year? Gosh, whodathunk.

Do you know what my mother says about that election? She's one of those people that will never talk about who she is voting for. However, she has told us several times when talking about her first presidential election that "I don't remember who I voted for that year, but I know that it was supposed be Bobby."

And, of course, I've always loved the irony that it's usually baby boomers that are the ones that do this - point to McGovern's loss as if it means something profound about 18-30 year olds, I mean. Because, of course, it's never that it means something about them and the profound cynicism they developed in order to deal with the murders of JFK, RFK, and MLK.

The Things You Discover When You Should Be Sleeping

1) There are over 4,000 fan fiction stories based on the Animorphs series posted to

That makes it #6 in books.

What are numbers 1-5, you ask?

Well, you don't really need to be told that Harry Potter is #1

Lord of the Rings is #2

Twilight is #3

The Phantom of the Opera is #4

Tamora Pierce is #5

2) There are 9 stories posted to based on The Princess and the Goblin

What the hell kind of fan fiction does one write about The Princess and the Goblin?

Apparently, several are sequels written by people unaware that there is an actual sequel. Or that didn't get it. (Just for the record, I loved it. I was, however, no more than 10 at the time, if that matters.)

3) Someone made a movie? MUST SEE!

Final Thought: I'm amused by the number of stories on based on Eragon. Isn't that a bit redundant? Fan fiction based on Eragon, I mean?

Friday, December 14, 2007

TiVo Has Come to Save Us All

So, I get it when people complain about what's on TV. I complain about what's on TV. Quite a lot, actually.

What I don't really get is when people complain about what's on TV nowadays as if TV was somehow better in the past. I want to ask them what decade they really think compares favorably to the one we are in now.* Because while there may be a hell of a lot of crap on TV, there's also huge number of shows that are leaps and bounds above anything that's been on before. I mean, I agree that the loss of The Cosby Show left a void that has yet to be completely filled again, and that I have better judgement now as an adult than as a kid, but still. I kinda think that if there was something better that Silver Spoons on the air, we would have been watching that instead.

IMO, this is largely due to dvd's and TiVo. It's a lot harder to tell really deep stories if you can't count on repeat viewings. You can't really expect viewers to pick up nuances on first viewing, especially when the chapters are broadcast weeks or months or years apart. Pause and rewind buttons are essential as well. All of the things that the content owning companies hate about new media are the very things that make their products of better quality than they ever were before.**

Did I mention I got into a fight with my sister and dad last night? This was one of the arguments my sister gave. That she'd be more sympathetic to the writers if most of TV wasn't crap. Gee, maybe if writers got rewarded for better stories - ie got a better cut from the shows that are popular enough to sell dvds or be used as bribes to get people to watch ads - maybe they'd have more incentive to write better shows, instead of just what some network committee thinks will sell.

But then, she's also very confused because she thinks that the networks have free downloads available mostly because they will get more people to watch the show each week. Not that this isn't part of the reasoning, or wasn't the initial idea, but I kinda doubt it's the main purpose at this point. First of all, even when this is the case, it's important to remember that free downloads are partly a result of dvds success allowing TV to use arcs more often and make the arcs longer. It's more that networks feel the need to make past episodes of Lost available in order to not lose viewers, rather than because they think it will help them gain viewers in any noticeable amount.

Secondly, if this was the overriding reason, it would be the shows they are trying to heavily promote that would be the available for download (similar to the way the CW will repeat on Sunday episodes of shows they think might do better with a little push), not the shows that are already popular. I'm sure that they use the free downloads to boost their sweeps ratings, but it makes more sense that during the rest of the year, the downloads are mostly there to generate ad revenue.

But then, mostly I just wanted to smack her for flat out saying that she doesn't care if the TV shows her kids grow up to watch are smarter than the ones she watches. Unfortunately, I was so floored by such an idiotic sentiment that at the time my response was (while possibly a good one in other contexts) exactly the wrong tact to take with her. A part of me wishes I'd been clever enough to say something like "well, it's nice that you don't care if your kids never have the opportunity to read Newbery quality literature. Yes, let's stick to the dime novels of the 1900's, it's all fluff anyways." But that would have just made her perpetually defensive about the subject.

Sorry for rambling. It was just very frustrating to come across this kind of attitude in my own family at the same time that I'm finally really getting going in the career that I hope will eventually allow me to help teach media literacy to kids of all ages. I really think my sister thinks that I've just kind of fallen into this because I've always like books. The truth is that that I've been trying to find something that would help me get to where I want to be, which is designing educational programs (both the event and the computer type), toys and/or media for kids that teaches them how to be better writers and readers of all media.

I did at first apply for library jobs in part because I figured that if I was going to work around books, I might as well get paid more to do so. But I was able to see really quickly that public libraries are a great place to experiment with allowing kids to become content creators and readers of all media - especially right now as so many of them are, like the netowrks, looking for ways to not become obsolete in the face of new media. And I suspected this might be true even before I applied. I may have yet to read The Anarchist in the Library, but it's not as if I began this career completely ignorant of how most librarians view things like censorship, free speech, and public access to information.

I'll be getting started on my library school application soon, but I already know that I'll eventually be taking classes in things like film studies and child psychology as well. One of the big reasons why I haven't just up and left CA already is because while it may be expensive to live here, one of the most affordable and best schools for Information Architecture (as applied to libraries) is a CA state school. (Actually, they both are, but San Jose is loads cheaper than UCLA, and still very well respected.) I don't want to just learn how to use to the tools available to serve children and teens better, I want to figure out how to design the tools themselves so they serve teens and children better.

So, yeah, last night's conversation was annoying on several levels.

And then there was the lovely xenophobia/racism exhibited by my extended family earlier that day. Which, considering that the other side of my extended family (not present) is half asian - just like the people they were making fun of - yeah, I'm so ready for them all to go home already. (And yes, I was a coward and kept my mouth shut. I suck.) At least Saturday should be fun, because we'll be to busy coordinating who is waiting in line and who is getting the Fast Passes for there to be too many cringe inducing conversation drifts.

*by which I mean simply the overall quality of storytelling. Not, sadly, the amount of racism, sexism, or unnecessary violence.

** on average - I'm certainly not saying that more than a fraction of what's on TV now could even dare to be compared to All in the Family. I'm saying that TV is quickly becoming more literary because viewers are able to watch shows in ways similar to how we read books.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Another preview pic of the Where the Wild Things Are movie. (via Shakesville)

In case you missed it, here's the first.


I will be a full-time Library Assistant come January. With benefits! And time to take the classes I need to in order to be a real Librarian! And I will be working at a brand spanking new huge library once it opens in the spring!

Y'all have no idea how eager I have to give notice at the bookstore.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I have a post stuck somewhere in draft hell about trust and experience and how people interpret the books they read, the movies they see, etc.

Reading this comment over at Random Thoughts and watching Criminal Minds tonight made me think of it.

The gist of the comment at Random Thoughts was this:

You see, you say something like this and you get messages of support.

I say something like this and get told that I shouldn't be saying women should go out and make comics. Of course, I was a lot more confrontational, but still.

Tammy's response was:

I'm sorry. I know it ain't exactly fair. Sometimes gender does count for more.

Which, a fan of Tammy's books, I hate to disagree with her because it reminds me that she's merely mortal, a fan of comics and scifi and fantasy and books and movies and TV and lots of other stuff, I have to call bullshit.

All reading, viewing, listening, etc. involves a certain amount of interpretation.

So, I don't listen when Tammy says this but ignore people like her commenter because Tammy is a girl and the commenter is a boy, I listen to Tammy because I actually know who the fuck she is. Relatively speaking, anyway. I've read her stuff, both fiction and non-fiction, and I have a general idea of where she's coming from so I can read between the lines a lot better than when I run across some random person I've never encountered before.

Now, it's true that being female generated a certain amount of initial trust back when I started reading her books. Or, well, not trust, exactly, but a certain amount of capital when it came to risk analysis. (Cost of book versus chance it will suck.) Not because of anything to do with biology, but because of socialization. Hers, not mine, that is.

Mickle is quite aware that male authors are capable of writing female characters worthy of mountains of praise. But she has noticed that male authors are more likely than female authors to write books that get lots of fannish praise - but also include female characters that make her want to raise invading armies.

More importantly, unlike the guy who is suspicious of the female mechanic because he's never dealt with a women who knows anything about cars before, logic and basic understanding of the culture I live in support my risk analysis rather than contradict it. A female mechanic, after all, is more likely to have faced a lot of discrimination than oh, say, actually been able to sleep her way into a job. (I've never really gotten that. At least not how common such accusations are, anyway. Are women so completely devoid of logic that we would willingly do two jobs for the price of one? en masse? Anyways.....) However, considering how often the male experience is treated as the default, it unfortunately makes a lot of sense that a not insignificant number of male writers, both good and bad, would write women that sound fake.

Still, despite all that, gender was a tiny fraction of my consideration when deciding whether to spend all of 5 bucks on one of Tammy's books. The main factor was the vast amounts of praise her books always got, and who was giving the praise, and what the praise actually was.

The same logic and risk analysis comes into play whenever I decide how to spend my money and time.

The point of my previous (and now molding) post on trust and interpretation was that while I ignore a lot of stuff that might otherwise piss me off as long as it comes from writers that I know, I don't do this out of some misguided sense of fan loyalty. When Julia Quinn's heroes start acting like jerks, I don't ignore my feminist sensibilities because, golly gee willickers, that Julia person seems like a nice girl! I keep reading because I know from experience that there's going to be a payoff a chapter or two down the line.

As a more accessible example of what I mean (since I'm guessing a limited number of my readers are Julia Quinn fans), tonight's episode of Criminal Minds started out with an opening that would have had me switching channels if I didn't know the show already. Not only is the girl who is kidnapped the silly girl who doesn't listen to all the scary warnings about teen girls gone missing! she's also kidnapped while out alone, at night, with her boyfriend. Making out, of course. With suggestions of much more to follow. Bad slutty teen girl, you broke one the cardinal rules of being in a bad horror flick! You must be punished!!!!!!!!

However, not ten minutes later, my double crush says one of the many true things that are acknowledged more often on Criminal Minds than on any other show I've ever watched - that the evil, bad, monster who is raping, torturing, and murdering women does it (in part) because he hates women. And not "hates women so much it's made him crazy crazy crazy!" But "he's messed up enough to kill and he doesn't think too highly of women." The "is willing to commit murder" and "really dislikes women" are connected but not necessarily dependent upon one another. (Thus the constant reminders that cruelty to animals is part of the homicidal triad.)

Every time one of the characters says something like tonight's "Well, we know what he thinks of women." I want to send the writers a lifetime supply of brownies. Especially when it's followed up by "he's a part of this community" - in other words he's not some monster hiding in the shadows, he's one of you. He's a husband, a father, a co-worker. Then I also want to send them milk to go with the brownies.

-mental reminder to donate to the writer's guild - BAD MICKLE!-

And that's before you get to the subplot of rape victims not being believed, the conversations between the victims that revolve around them worrying what other people think of them, and the conversations between JJ and Hotch about what it's like to be the target of so much violence* and the fine line between not caring enough and being consumed by empathy.

Honestly, I wasn't overly impressed with this episode. But part of the reasons why I love Criminal Minds is because the more I analyze it, the more I agree with it. And the more I re-watch seasons 1 and 2, the more I'm convinced that there's a lot being snuck in there that works as commentary about the bad trends it's supposedly a part of.

Like violence on TV.

I was cringing through a good chunk of this episode. The stuff they were describing? Yeah, I can totally see a victim of that being extremely eager to convince herself that everyone is right, she was lying, it never happened to her. But - they never actually show any of it. It's all suggestion.

Fast forward to the opening of tonight's CSI:NY and one of the many reasons why I stopped watching the CSI's a long time ago: several shots (maybe even a full minute or two of screen time) of a dead guy with a big gaping hole where is mouth, upper chin, and nose used to be. That? DO NOT NEED.

Now, this isn't to say that the CM writers don't fuck up (scroll down to the third *). But it does mean they do so less often. And that when they don't, they sometimes get it really, really right. I'm all for less violence towards women on TV, but I much prefer CM's more realistic portrayals and stats to CSI:NY's statistically negligent man whose mouth was blown off by an exploding cigar.

Anyway, back to the main point.

It may be that there is more back story to the comment on Tammy's post, but, well, to go with the themes laid out so far (or, attempted to, anyway)...this is an argument that I've seen come up several times before. And the people crying sexism** when feminists note the gender of the author, or people listen to the Tammys or even Ragnells of the world more than the random dudes out there....they are often people who can't seem to differentiate experience from discrimination, caution from accusation, example from bullying.

If I ignore you, or even berate you, because I misinterpreted what you said, the fault isn't necessarily mine.

The fact that CM warms my heart - despite my being heartless, bitchy feminist- that doesn't mean that CM's opening scene tonight wasn't stupid.

It was. Very.***

Likewise, if I misinterpret what you are saying because it sounds a hell of a lot like what really stupid people say...that's not really my fault. The likely explanation is not that I'm a mean feminist who thinks less of men, but that I misinterpreted what you said because you began it by making it clear that punishing slutty teen girl with a serial rapist/murder/torturer was considered to be appropriate. Or, it could be that experience, logic, a basic understanding of human nature, and risk analysis predicts that you are blind to the fact that she is being punished at all.

Then again, it simply might be useful to establish a certain amount of trust and understanding before we delve into complicated topics.

*technically, the conversation is about what it's like to have so much in common with so many of the victims. But again, an interpretation that takes past episodes into account - which we are obviously meant to do, what with two echoes of Vigilante!Elle! in the same episode - reminds us that JJ isn't just like the victims. Aside from the FBI training, she is the ideal victim - at least in TV land - and has even, like Elle, played the victim to get the case solved.

**unsurprisingly, such people also tend to call this "reverse sexism" -sigh- I'll just leave that one be for now, 'cuz I'm all out of outrage tonight. Except as directed towards my family and my inability to communicate to them the political and social ideas that are the driving force behind my chosen career path. I really think they believe I just love books that much. Game Nights are apparently just bribes. -sigh- sorry for the digression, I had a long fight with my dad and sister tonight about the writer's strike. not fun.

***It was made less so by the team talking about how well executed the attack was; it's clear that the unsub was, um, talented enough to have found someone to grab. This was cancelled out, however, by the scene where the second victim blames herself for what happened to her, and nothing in the episode contradicts this. Although I guess one could argue that since this is the segue into the victims talking about shame.....And I was already willing to give them bonus points for showing some male flesh.....

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Books for Boys - and Girls

I'm dropping in from my blogging vacation to say that this conversation made me think what was said when someone asked "are there enough books for boys?" at one of the YA panels at last spring's LA Times Festival of books. The panel was made up of M.T. Anderson, Coe Booth, John Green, and Nancy Werlin, in case anyone cares.

1) Everyone agreed that this was (mostly) bullshit.

2) John Green partly dissented. But his argument was not that there aren't enough books for boys, but more that most of the books with teen boy protagonists tend to be, well overly stereotypical. They are almost always heavy on the action and adventure and light on the emotional chaos of being a teen boy. In other words, there are too many Eragons and not enough An Abundance of Katherines. Although, needless to say, that's not quite how he put it.

3) Everyone agreed that the best way to get your book challenged and/or sent back with lots of red marks from the publisher/editor was to include a female protagonist that has sexual desires/experiences (like, gee, most teen girls) and isn't punished for having them (sadly, not quite as universal).

And on that note, in case anyone cares what I've been doing during my unplanned vacation from blogging: I've been out of state for Thanksgiving, interviewing for full time library jobs, and thinking really wicked thoughts about this fictional man and this real one. Not, um, all at the same time.

(more pretty pictures here - you have to look for mgg yourself to see them - I'm too tired tonight to get around the site's security)

PS - because I know everyone cares - my niece can read and write now. (sort of)