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It’s vaguely possibly you’ve noticed I’m involved in the running of Fangs for the Fantasy by my oh-so-subtle plugging. But yes I’m one of the ones behind it and I likes it I does. But there’s always the question of why, especially given how little time I have and how much time it takes.

Well, let me count the ways. I like Fangs, I like the reviews, I like an opportunity to snark, I like the new series its exposed me to and because it’s fun, lots of fun.

But also because I think it’s important. Especially analysing books from a social justice perspective. Yes, analysing fluffy, trashy, frequently silly Urban fantasy is important. Especially since it’s popular and, if anything, becoming more so and establishing itself very firmly as its own genre.

Our society is shaped by the media. In fact I think the media is one of the grand pillars of our culture. The media we consume reflects the stereotypes and tropes of society, reinforces them, encourages them and spreads them. We as a society, as a culture, as people are shaped by the books we read, the television we watch, the films we see and the games we play.

When we see the same type of people showcased front and centre, the same stereotypes paraded, the same groups erased, the same insults given, the same bad behaviour showcased, excused or justified and generally the same prejudiced, and –ism scented problems repeated again and again then yes it shapes us.

And I know there are people out there saying “but why urban fantasy? Who cares about sexist werewolves or homophobic vampires or racist witches?” there are many reasons – I can talk about how we tend NOT to analyse these types of books so the genre is even more unchallenged and just accepted. I can tell you it’s because I love the genre – I really do – and as such I want to be able to consume it without sporks and with more joy; as something I love, I want it to do better. But most of all, it’s because if we’re going to challenge any media, it has to be popular fiction that is consumed broadly for entertainment.

What do you think shapes culture more? A verbose, dense literary fiction artistic epic read by English literature professors in a university congratulating each other on how wonderfully dense and nigh incomprehensible it is, so full of metaphor and depth? Or Twilight? Or True Blood? A series that is read by thousands if not millions, turned into a TV series or a film and watched by yet more? Personally, I think it’s the latter that will have the greatest effect on our culture.

I also don’t think that you can truly change culture without addressing the media. Ultimately, no matter how many laws we pass saying that misogyny, homophobia, racism, transphobia, ableism et al are Not OK, no matter how much we fight, no matter how many bigots we vanquish, if everyone goes back home to books and TV full of hate speech and stereotypes and tropes and marginalised servants and villains or – and most commonly – to fictional worlds where we don’t even exist – then how much can you change? “Hearts and Minds” are the key here – and it’s in the pages of books and the light of the TV screen where we will reach them.

Yet if you turn round and say you’re going to analyse the dusty book of pretention everyone will nod and smile. Say you’re going to analyse True Blood and we get “it’s only fantasy! Don’t take it so seriously!” It’s a genre that seems to actively resist and deny analysis even more than most.

Do I claim I’m doing some massive cultural changing thing? Gods no. I snark too much for that :P. But it matters, it does matter.

Also, of course, I need to say the inevitable – we have yet to read/watch a perfect book/TV programme. We have always found something to criticise. That’s not because we’re joyless curmudgeons who hate everything – it’s because our society is so well and truly messed up that it’s nearly impossible to produce something lacking in problematic issues in a society that has saturated us with them. I say again, criticism does not mean “I loathe this book and all it stands for!” it means there are problematic elements that could be – need to be – better. For our opinion on the book, check the fang rating (and if it’s 0.5 fangs? Yes, I did loathe that book and all it stands for!). I will say that we’ll never just say “I hate it.” There’ll always be a why – so even on a negative review you can be a recommend – since you can see “oh Sparky hated this book because he loathes X, Y and Z. I actually quite like them so this book is worth reading”.

So, yes, Fangs. I like it.
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Are some people having trouble commenting on the blog?

I use intense debate commenting system because it gives more options for banning/blocking/turning into a pumpkin when people show their arses. And this is USEFUL yes yes it is. Blogger is a platform I chose for its simple simplicity (I can't even get twitter to work), but I felt I needed a little more for the comment section.

At the risk of talking down to people, to comment you have to click ont he comments (0) at the bottom of each post - it doesn't just show existing comments it has the option to comment there as well. I've had a few emails from people saying they can't find where to comment, is this bit missing or not showing up maybe on some browsers?

(and Sean Kennedy, how how how did you manage to comment using Blogger's original comment system? I have no idea I thought it was turned off! I don't even know how to reply using it :). But while tempting, I chose not to go the name & shame route because a) it's not me b) I have seen the epic flamewar clusterfucks consume so many people over this issue period and I ain't that daft to jump into that snake pit, noooo way c) I have emails and first names, could be anyone.)
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Harry Dresden returns in another Urban Fantasy Mystery. This time, ghosts are running amok, causing chaos and killing people and similar shenanigans. Harry must go out with his new side-kick, Michael a Knight of the Cross, and stop this sudden tidal wave of deadly ghost activity.

Following the exhausting and dangerous trail finds that someone is tormenting and manipulating these ghosts raising them and encouraging them to spread their havoc – and further, in doing so they are thinning the barrier between the real world and the Nevernever, allowing more and darker spirits to emerge. As if that weren't enough, there is something else out there, a Nightmare that is darker than any ghost they've faced that is hunting Harry and his friends specifically.

Harry must find how they are all connected and what lies behind the ghosts, the Nightmare, the thinning of the Nevernever all the while dodging his faerie godmother who hunts him and seeks to drag him away to be her slave – and even that must be done while negotiating the twisted and convoluted plots of the vampires as Bianca, an old enemy, rises within their ranks.

It's a desperate fight to keep body and soul together – and to protect those he cares about who are being targeted by forces even Harry can't comprehend.

Read More
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So the week before last was not a good week. Ups and downs, yes? Well, this was a down. Part of it was the general badness being generally bad, part of it was because it was, frankly, a bad news week and that, in turn was exacerbated by the behaviour of several of those writing about it and generally made me rethink my involvement in many places, my interactions and what I was reading and where

Then last week was one of my worst run of insomnias for a long time, which always makes me edgy, grumpy and generally wanting to curl up in a corner somewhere with a book and for the whole damn world to get on with it and leave me alone. But above and beyond that I was very inactive simply because I just didn't want to come online. I just didn't want to face the battles, the fights, the usual suspects and the supposedly not-usual suspects yet they still seem to push the same buttons all the time so maybe I should update that usual suspect list. In short, beyond commitments I had already made, I stayed off the net because every time I turned on the computer my thought was “I don't want to do this.”

This is not a good thing.

New post. you know the drill
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Renee's site to which I am a contributor went down because of various technological shenanigans, surprisingly not involving moose at all (I know, I asked).

Her site should be back up in the next couple of days. The content is still safe and all should be back up and back to normal again
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As people may have noticed for the past couple of weeks I've been trying to mess with comment moderation. Suffice it to say things have not gone according to plan. Technology, it still hates me.

In theory, while some people are on perma moderation (and you know who you are, your comments get deleted before they show their ugly ugly heads. Yes, by all means comment whining about it, I'll delete them too) most comments shouldn't be moderated. Give me a heads up if you seem to be on moderation for no reason. It's probably not intentional, more likely to be a technology fail.

I, thankfully, rarely have to resort to major comment policing (for some reason people send me nasty emails instead. One claimed it was because LJ tracked IPs which... confuses me, because doesn't email? And what would I do with an IP anyway? Is it like some old school magic? Once you couldn't let a witch know your name, now one must guard one's IP from a techno-pagan? Of course maybe people email me their bile because they know what will happen to them if they make their comments on the blog) and compared to some of my fellow bloggers I am miraculously free from the bile they have to deal with on a regular basis. Still there is crap I have no intention of allowing to defile my space.

And to the tiresome quoting of the first amendment that has landed with some regularity in my inbox: 1) you're not applying it correctly. Learn your own law before you misquote it. 2) I'm England, live in England and feel not the slightest desire to be bound by your constitution. Gods preserve me from Americans who think their laws are universal.

Now if you wish to scream “censorship” I will suggest you read my Comment Policy. The link's right there at the top of the page.. Apart from anything else, again, you're using that word incorrectly. I am not censoring you, silencing your or suppressing you. I am refusing to give you a platform. I do not OWE you a platform. If you have something to say and the big mean Sparky is not letting you say it then go to Blogger or Wordpress and make your own space. Since when do I have to be your broadcaster?

Ok, let's cover a few other things!

Email – I will get to it. All of it. EVENTUALLY. Yes I am not exactly timely at answering it, but I try. If, however you send me an LJ mail I probably won't answer it. Every now and then I look up and see “oh shit, 500 messages, I should do something about that”. So I may answer it – but maybe in 2020.

If you see something that may interest me amuse me or otherwise I may appreciate seeing – by all means send me it! My inbox is always open and I love people sending me things from sources I don't always follow. This is of the goooood :) It is appreciated and cookies will be given. I may write on it, I may not (depending on time, interest, mental strength and energy)

If you see something and decide to come to me screaming “zomg how could you not post about this?!” please feel free to eat your keyboard. I'm not a journalist, a reported, a ghost writer, author or even a professional blogger (I don't even had ads here. That's not a knock at adverts or a promise there never will be, it's noting my inability to figure them out. Technology is hard) and, frankly, none of these are obliged to write on command. I'm not a writing monkey. I have a full time job, a full time husband, charity work, a complex and involved family and an energy and time consuming mental illness(es) I do not have the time, energy, mental strength or, frankly, inclination to be on call to write on demand.

If you're coming screaming to me demanding I denounce someone, again, you can enjoy some keyboard chewing. If you've come demanding I apologise for what some complete stranger who happens to be gay has said/done then you can take your homophobic self and flounce out of here.

Ok, if you want to show me something grossly homophobic with a “can you believe this shit” slant, by all means do. I won't necessarily run over and comment because, really, seeking out homophobes in their lairs is one of the things I've crossed off my self-destruction list (it's a big list). I already dabble in more unsafe spaces than is wise.

If, however, you in general don't give a damn about gay rights but someone you REALLLY hate has said something homophobic and you think telling me will have me swarm in as some kind of grudge warrior for you – well, kindly sod off. Appropriating battles against homophobia for your gudgewank does not amuse.

Ok I think that deals with various things on my pending list. Go back to being awesome guys.
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So Blogger was down and a couple of my posts ended up disappearing. They say they're all back but I'm still missing some. Thankfully I keep a lot of back ups, oh yes yes I do.

Still, if you think posts have been repeated, or misdated, or disappeared or came back or there are broken links or whatever, for once it's not my technical skills.

Though I am honestly confused about a lot of it, so if there are duplicated posts, it's me putting back up what was taken down. I'm especially confused by a post that disappeared, didn't come back, so I reposted it and then the comments that HAD been on the old post came back attached to the new post I put up. Nope, not getting that one at all.

And I seem to have picked up a new tab that's not attached to any post but I can't get rid of it. Vexing.

Hopefully it's back to normal now
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A ramble on the many many issues I have seen with regards to gay actors and my musings on them

To read clicky on this linky here and go to my shiny blogy thingy

Comment here there or everywhere :)
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Hate speech, discrimination and all the violence that comes with it in a couple of new blog posts

Both, obviously with trigger warnings for homophobia, transphobia and arseholery

The speech and discrimination

And the violence
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Other than WoW (my eternal obsession and addiction) I don't blame a lot of computer games. But the brief forrays I have had into gaming have convinced me that there are few things in the world as heteronormative as computer games (I think advertising and children's programmes come close).

I admit that this is the only reason I bought and played this game. It's a genre of games I like a lot, but I don't normally have time (other games mean less WoW time! Uh, I mean less time with Beloved. Of course. *ahem*) to play computer games. But a computer game with a same-sex relationship? It was so rare and special that I went out and bought it (which should tell you a) how rare and special that is and b) should tell the computer games industry something. Yes, gay gamers – ugh, do I have to use the term gaymers? It's so cutsie – do want to see games with us in them).

Post Continues on the Blog


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