1. a) What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before?:
Went to Colorado. I love going to new places, and this was pretty spectacular, as places go. With some good company, too
1. b) What did you do that you hadn't done in a long time?
Worked really seriously on my poetry.
2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I try not to make resolutions. They're an exercise in futility. I set goals and plan projects instead. A lot of those didn't get done.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Nope. Gettin' kinda old for that now. Most of friends are about my age, though some are younger, and I don't have kids myself.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes, sadly. My friend Jean Courtney took her life.
5. What countries did you visit?
No countries this year, but two states.
6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
An updated computer system and faster connection.
7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I'm terrible at dates, but the day I found out that Jean had killed herself is pretty stark, and the week I spent in Colorado was, on the opposite end of the scale, fantastic.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I finished an arc of my fan fiction saga, and with Helen's help, put together not one but four poetry collections out of the mass of material I've got.
9. What was your biggest failure?
I didn't revise my novel.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No, knock wood. My back's been kinda messed up for a while though, making me numb in odd spots.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
It's a three-way tie: The new hand-marbled scarf I bought myself at the Center for Book Arts Holiday Fair, my Nook, and the little hadnmade ceramic soap dish I bought in Maine.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My hardest-working students. They know who they are.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Far too many of the Tea Partiers.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent. Same as it ever was.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Gwen's amazing house in Colorado. Not that I want one that big, but I want one that arty.
16. What song will always remind you of 2010?
"Empire State of Mind." I played that over and over coming back on the SI ferry at night. God I love it here!
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Still happy.
b) thinner or fatter? think I put on some weight over the holidays.
c) richer or poorer? Materially, 'bout the same. In friends, much richer.
18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Art and writing.
19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Fucking Facebook. What a time suck.
20. How will you be spending New Year's?
Cooking for friends.
22. Did you fall in love in 2010?
No more than usual.
23. How many one-night stands?
24. What was your favorite tv program?
Sherlock, though my CSI infatuation continues apace.
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Try not to do hate any more, though I can say I'm completely disgusted by the stupidity of so many of the Tea Partiers.
26. What was the best book you read?
The same one everyone else was reading: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.
27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
School of the Seven Bells
28. What did you want and get?
A new teaching gig.
29. What did you want and not get?
A slightly bigger place to live and a Powerball win.
30. What was your favorite film of this year?
"Iron Man 2." Wish I could say it was "The Tempest," but not.
31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was 50, and I went for cupcakes with the Birthday Club.
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Cooler weather this summer and more time.
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
Fashion concept? Er . . . .
34. What kept you sane?
Books and friends. And beer.
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Oh, all the old favorites, though I was mildly fascinated by Benedict Cumberbatch.
36. What political issue stirred you the most?
The oil spill, and the stupidity of people protesting the Islamic Cultural Center near Ground Zero.
37. Whom did you miss?
Jennifer. One of us, obviously, is going to have to move.
38. Who was the best new person you met?
Gwen, though it was not so much met as rekindled a 30-years-dormant friendship. Why did I never keep in touch with her when she moved?
39. Was 2010 a good year for you?
Not fantastic, but certainly not a bad one. It feels a bit wasted, especially for a milestone year like 50.
40. What was your favorite moment of the year?
Swimming in the hot springs in Colorado with the Nympho Lesbo Killer Whores +2.
41. What was your least favorite moment of the year?
Anything that involved DeeDee the Destroyer's presence.
42. What was your favorite month of 2010?
August, a week of which was spent in the Rockies.
43. How many different states did you travel to in 2010?
Colorado, Wisconsin (inadvertently), and Maine.
44. How many concerts did you see in 2010?
None. Too damn busy this year, and teaching nights.
45. Did you do anything you are ashamed of this year?
Not that I recall, which is good however you look at it.
46. What was the worst lie someone told you in 2010?
"Sure, you'll make your connection in Madison!"
47. Did you treat somebody badly in 2010?
Gosh, I hope not. I haven't paid enough attention to Jean's parents though.
48. Did somebody treat you badly in 2010?
Not that I remember, and that's all that counts.
49. If you could go back in time to any moment of 2010 and change something, what would it be?
I'd try to talk Jean out of taking her life. I don't know if I really have that right, but I'll always wonder if someone had been with her if she would have kept plugging. But then, maybe it was just too hard for her, and I'm merely being selfish.
50. What are your plans for 2011?
See my previous post.
51. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010:
Sometimes life is harder for other people than you can possibly know. And you can't fix it for them. All you can do is love them.
1. a) What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before?:
In case you were under a rock or celebrating Easter or something today, and haven't heard about the AmazonFail brouhaha, here's what they're up to: Amazon has, ostensibly for the sake of their readers delicate constitutions, decided to strip the rankings from pretty much any book that has to do with anything related to the LGBT community, everything from textbooks to literature to scientific studies, whether those books include explicit descriptions of homosexual acts or not. This prevents those books from showing up in general searches and will ultimately hurt their sales figures. You know, the harder stuff is to find, the less likely people are to buy it? That kind of logic.
According to Mark Probst, who first noticed this a couple of days ago, and wrote to Amazon about it, a spokesperson from Amazon explained it this way:
In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.
Among the books being stripped of their sales ranks and obscured in the search function are notable classics like James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room, Rita Mae Brown's Rubyfruit Jungle, E.M. Forester's Maurice, Edmund White's A Boy's Own Story, and Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness, all of which I've read in English classes at some point. Oddly enough, both Lady Chatterley's Lover and Lolita have retained their sales ranks (Lolita is up around 2,000). Also stripped of their rankings are Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain and Jeanette Winterson's Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. Even Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity has had its ranking stripped.
If you're unclear about what this means, go to Amazon and search books for "homosexuality." You'll notice that what comes up are largely Christian screeds against it, written by straight people, even when you click on "Gay and Lesbian" in the side search tabs. This made me feel physically sick. How awful to have decades of writing just erased from public viewing. I can only image how my LGBT friends feel watching their literature, history, and scientific studies disappear virtually overnight. This is censorship of the worst kind, and a really vile form of bigotry.
Horror aside, one of the interesting things about this event was how quickly it exploded onto the net. I saw a note about it from Charlie Anders of io9 over on Facebook this afternoon, toddled over to sign the petition after doing a little confirming research, and by 9:00 pm, it was racing across Twitter, LJ, and the blogs like wildfire. The Google search results went from two pages to 13.
So I'm urging you to boycott Amazon until they stop with censorship crap. Over at Publishing Talk, there's an excellent, excoriating open letter to Jeff Bezos, written with the kind of gentle viciousness the British do so well. There are Google bombs on the words "Amazon ranks" spreading (look! here's one now!), and numerous petitions. You can call Amazon's customer service: 1-866-216-1072 or if you're feeling particularly frisky, their board of directors. In the meantime, fuck 'em. Get your books from Powell's instead.
UPDATE: This is hitting the mainstream press now, with "Publisher's Weekly" and Salon reporting Amazon claims it's "just a glitch," which still does not explain Probst's and others reply from customer service, or the fact that this started several days ago. There's an interesting theory at the LJ of former SixApart employee who was around for the Great Strikethrough on LJ. He thinks is a trolling campaign. I'm reserving judgment. My natural suspicion makes me think that Amazon is just covering their ass with the "glitch" statement. I'd be pleasantly surprised to be wrong.
UPDATE 2: More information and sleuthing at Dear Author, which definitely makes it appear far more deliberate than glitchy. The evidence deals with the metadata entered by both publishers and Amazon and a filter applied to that data: "It appears that all the content that was filtered out had either “gay”, ”lesbian”, ”transgender”, “erotic” or “sex” metadata categories. Playboy Centerfold books were categorized as “nude” and “erotic photography”, both categories that apparently weren’t included in the filter." *rolls eyes*
FINAL UPDATE:So the word is out it was some Amazon employee in France who "broke" the system by flipping a database flag from false to true. Even if this was not a policy change, Amazon's PR needed to make that clear a lot sooner than they have (there's still no official statement, more than 4 days after this started happening). When the literature of an oppressed minority group starts to disappear without explanation, it makes people testy. And isn't spin control what PR people get paid for? Where are they? Where, for that matter, is Amazon's official explanation?
So did we all over-react? I don't think so. I think it's obvious that, thanks to the vocal activists in various movements, none of us have a real sense of trust in corporate America, or, after the last eight years, in the stability of our rights. I think it was heartening to see how fast the response moved, how vocal it was, and how much it seems to have freaked out a large corporate entity. I feel a little like the girl at the end of "V for Vendetta," taking off my Guy Fawkes mask.
If this were a real emergency . . .
So the poetry muse has given me the big finger for the last two days and I've fallen behind the poem-a-day. Today's prompt was to write about a routine or routines in general. I should have written about grading papers, because that's what I done today. I got all but three graded for my Modes class, and still have a smallish pile for the Logic bit. But in the meanwhile, there's a fascinating discussion of story and meta and criticism, and fannish appropriation as art over on my pal Gloriana's LJ. Having graded papers all day, and struggled mightily to get my students to read deeper, I dived in with my thoughts on teaching people to do criticism. Go take a look if this sort of thing intereests you. It's sparked by this fan video by Lim, which is on display in a group exhibition in a museum in Riverside, CA. The video, if you are the fannish sort, is a piece of genius. As Gloriana says, it is,
full of the meta, about ourselves as pirates and thieves, done with nods to many fandoms (and, of course, the more of them you understand, the better the vid); and in particular, ending with the clips from 'V for Vendetta', which speak about the power of the anonymous mass to dispense with tyranny. (Or at least, that's one message you can take from it).
If you're not the fannish sort, I'd be interested to know what you make of it.
1. You can ONLY answer Yes or No!
2. You are NOT ALLOWED to explain ANYTHING unless someone messages or comments you and Asks!
Now, here's what you're supposed to do... And please do not spoil the Fun. Copy and paste this into your notes , delete my answers, type in your answers and tag as many of your friends as you'd like to (if you wish). Then see what happens.
Kissed anyone one of your LJ/Facebook friends? Yes
Been arrested? No
Kissed someone you didn't like? Yes
Roger over at Many Thngs, drat him, has tagged me with a meme. I'll have to think of some way to get him back. Suggestions welcome.
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.
Rules 1 and 2 complete (see above).
Rule 3 - Six random things about myself:
- I used to want to be a writer for Marvel Comics. Or DC. I'm not that fussy. But it would be cool to work on Batman, or Green Arrow, or the X-Men. Or, even better, any of the new generation of female superheroes.
- When I was a kid, I took ballet, tap, and gymnastic lessons. I still love dance but I don't do much of it myself anymore. I do go watch it fairly often. I still have a soft spot in my heart for tap dance. And yet . . .
- The art of choreography is incomprehensible and amazing to me (see above). I can't imagine how it's done.
- I used to draw portraits in pencil and they were actually quite good. I can't draw for crap now. Practice, practice, practice!
- I write fanfic under a supersecret alias. No, I'm not telling you.
- Like Roger, I want to travel a whole lot more than I can afford to. Someday I'd like to live abroad.
Okay, so there.
And now to spread the misery:
Uh, and that's all I can manage, since my other friends are not self-absorbed bloggers, or paranoid that someone might discover their blogs, or only blog about important stuff like, you know, science.
Available: For what?
Animal: cats (don't have any right now, but plotting them)
Birthday/Birthplace: 15 June/West Point, NY. Yes, the military academy.
Best Friends: Too many to name individually, bu the oldest ones are Mel and Paul
Best feeling in the world: Afterglow
Best weather: cool & sunny
Been in Love: Yep.
Been on stage?: Yep. Still do readings too.
Believe in yourself?: Most of the time.
Believe in life on other planets: How could there not be?
Believe in miracles: No. Statistical anomalies, yes.
Believe in Magic: in the non-miraculous sense, yes.
Believe in God: Not per se. But I believe in the numinous.
Believe in Santa: Never. My folks never lied to me that way.
Believe in Ghosts/spirits: See "magic" and "God," above.
Car: don't own one. Use mass transit!
Color: blues and purples; basically anything bright.
Cried in school: Just over my homework.
Chocolate/Vanilla: equal opportunity sweet lover.
Chinese/Mexican: Anything not 1950's American "cuisine"
Cake or pie: cake