First of all, I added a few new haiku to The Haiku Zone in the top left corner of the page. There are now 23 rotating haiku featured.
Meanwhile, I’ve also got a bunch of links to share:
The Golden Globes have been awarded and once again I find myself not caring about any of the winners. Okay, so I’m happy for Hugh Jackman, annoyed that Christoph Waltz keeps getting showered with awards (the only thing I ever liked him in was King of the Last Days, long before Tarantino knew his name) and very annoyed that Michael Haneke’s Amour won over Intouchables.
Foz Meadows has a fantastic post about how real history was not as white, male and straight as certain SFF readers would like to believe. Bonus points for listing physicist Lise Meitner, after whom my school is named, among a whole bunch of other impressive women, people of colour and GLBT people in history.
Slate has an interesting article about Song of the South, Walt Disney’s 1943 live-action/animation mix, that is rarely seen today because of its problematic depiction of black characters and the casual racism of the era. I’m pretty sure I have seen at least bits of Song of the South, if not the whole film, sometime in the 1970s or early 1980s. And I definitely know the “Zip-Pe-De-Doo-Dah” song. But then, a lot of problematic stuff was still in circulation back then. I also remember seeing some of the so-called “censored eleven” Warner Bros cartoons on TV as a kid (though not Coal Black and the Seven Dwarves) as well as several of the really blatantly offensive WWII propaganda cartoons. I saw at least one of the censored eleven as late as the early to mid 1990s as part of a Tex Avery retrospective.
Also from Slate comes this article about my least favourite pseudoscience, graphology. Now I’m not one of those self-styles “skeptics” you find on the internet who feel the need to air their hatred for astrology, homeopathy, accupuncture, mumbling magical incantations over warts, etc… at every occasion. I don’t believe in any of those things (though homeopathic medicines have helped me on occasion), but I don’t feel the need to disparage those who do. However, graphology is a big exception to this rule, because I really hate graphology, probably because it was (and still is) given a lot of credence here in Germany. Employers regularly used graphologists to “analyze” job seekers well into the 1970s/1980s century. Now my handwriting is naturally scrawly – my Mom blames the American kindergarten which did not teach me to write “properly”, though I also have fine motor control issues. And as a kid I was frequently told that I had to learn how to write neatly and properly, because I would never get a job, if my handwriting looked like that of a lazy and criminal person. There still are employers and – worse – public institutions which employ graphologists BTW. I once had a potential public employer request a handwritten CV (typical trick to get a sample for a graphologist) and quickly decided that I did not want that job anyway. Fellow students at university have reported similar experiences. You could probably sue against discrimination on the basis of a pseudoscience, but so far no one has bothered.
Dear Author has a good post about the romance genre, its supposedly formulaic nature and whether the latest trends as well as the likes and dislikes of (some) readers are broadening or narrowing the genre. Now personally, I’m not at all happy with the latest trends in the romance genre, which seem to tend towards more erotica, more BDSM, more billionaire Cinderella fantasies and college romances, which have zero connection to any university experience I ever had. If anything it seems that the romance genre is moving backwards to gender dynamics that were popular in the 1970s and 1980s, only this time around with more sex and a bit of bondage. But luckily it’s such a big genre that I’m still bound to find books I enjoy, even if there are fewer of them published now.
Publishers Weekly has a nice article on Georgette Heyer and her aversion to publicity, because a new biography of Heyer has just appeared.
L.B. Gale has an interesting post on why a bad ending or a bad season can ruin even the best of TV shows. The examples Gale gives are the new Battlestar Galactica, which I hated right out of the gate, and Lost, which I gave up on in the middle of season 2, so I obviously don’t agree with him or her on those particular shows. However, I have had a couple of experiences myself where a show I used to love a whole lot was ruined by taking a bad turn in latter seasons. The X-Files is the obvious example of a show that continued long after it turned to crap. The British Being Human went from a show I liked a whole lot to one I no longer bothered to watch sometimes during season 3 (though maybe one could also put the place where it turned bad at the end of season 2). And then there’s Torchwood, which went from all-time favourite during season 1 to “hate it, hate it, kill it already” when they destroyed everything I ever liked about the show from season 2 onwards. Finally, there is Doctor Who which went from all-time favourite to “Is this crap still on?” once I realized that I no longer liked the Doctor as a character during the latter Tennant era, a feeling that was only exarcabated by the Steve Moffat/Matt Smith era. And let’s not forget Prison Break which managed to completely ruin four years of increasingly preposterous plots completely in the final ninety-five minutes and also contradicted it’s own core message. And yes, L.B. Gale is also correct that you cannot rewatch even the good episodes of a show that turned sour. This is the dark side of the now prevalent story arcs in TV shows. I have no problem rewatching good episodes of 1980s shows I once loved and ignoring bad ones, but if there’s an overall arc, a bad turn ruins the entire show. I’ve never rewatched a single X-Files ep, even one I enjoyed, because I know that there is no real answer to all the mysteries. I can’t even rewatch 1970s Doctor Who anymore, because I know that the Doctor will someday regenrate into David Tennant and Matt Smith and I will hate him. And I wish I could rewatch that really good first season of Torchwood and pretend that seasons 2 through 4 never happened. Or that I could rewatch Prison Break, fast-forward through the preposterous bits and stop five minutes from the end of the final regular episode (which would have been perfect) and ignore the ninety-minute special that followed. And I’m probably the only person in the universe who’s not sad that Firefly was cancelled, because at least I can still rewatch the episodes there were without getting mad at latter developments (and it’s Whedon, so I’m sure I would have disliked much of it). It’s a sad thing, hoping that a TV show you like will be cancelled before it can turn sour. And I wish I knew a way out of that dilemma.
More on television: At Variety, Brian Lowry finds unexpected parallels between Downton Abbey and The Walking Dead, beyond the fact that I don’t like either show, that is. Found via SF Signal.
At last: An article at The Atlantic explains in detail that single people are discriminated against in the US (and many other countries including Germany). Because a lot of people flat out deny that this is happening, while a lot of politicians are concerned only with families.