Showing posts from 2009

Happy New Year!

Hello wonderful readers! RBB will be on break for the next bit. I'll resume acting out when I'm finally back in Malaysia (which should be on the 8th). In the meantime, take care, and have a fun time ushering in 2010!

I Write: Problems With SF

Here's an editorial by Nuno Fonseca, a Portuguese spec fic writer / editor at the WorldSF blog, talking about (I think, anyway, the text is dense - no fault of the writer) representation of minorities (e.g. women, LGBT) in World SF. A relevant tidbit:
Every time I see a flame war, a heated commentary discussion or simple online tantrum about the derision of a specific, be it gender-based, or around the colonialist-nationalistic axis, or about race discrimination, or even senseofwonder uberall-ism and whatnot, I feel happy and sad. Why? Because in most of these cases what we see is a plain bellyful attitude, even though it is a post-inclusive one. Let me explain.

I happen to live in a country where there are no women writing science fiction. Or black people. Or gay, or whatever you may think about as a specific. Oh it’s true there are a few one-off examples, but way too few. It is a country where the few people who do write SF, are inclusive ones, as it is possible in our global inf…

Quintessentially Chinese?: Gender Norms and Hua Mulan

Recently, the trailer for the newest Mulan movie, by Jingle Ma, came to my attention:

I will have to be honest and say that tears came to my eyes while watching this trailer for the first time. For several reasons. 
Firstly, I am pretty starved for Chinese movies here. I mean, real Chinese movies. Even an Asian-American, or Asian-Canadian movie would be nice. They're very rare. Ping Pong Playa came closest, and it didn't have very wide distribution. Kung Fu Hustle, when it came into theatres here, made me exceedingly happy, but that was a while back. (And it was doubly awesome because it wasn't even dubbed.)
Secondly, I haven't seen a good movie with a strong Chinese heroine in a while, either. There was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and there was Hero, and there was also House of Flying Daggers, but you know what they all have in common? Most everybody dies. If they don't, they are generally completely side characters, destined to live out their lives in pain and g…

Have A Very Merry Gendered Christmas Holiday!

It's Christmas Day! Merry Christmas to everybody who reads this blog that celebrates it! I will be doing... nothing, probably. Maybe making a pizza. Who knows! 

Jennifer Kesler over at the Hathor Legacy has a post up about gendered holiday expectations. It made me think about what happens for the annual dinner my family used to have around this time of year.

Usually, my dad and brother cook. My mom's usually too tired from her work at her shop to work, but she will on occasion order stuff from Victoria Station (a steakhouse) and bring it home.

Me, I'm usually in charge of drinks. It means I get the dubious honour of digging out the drink dispenser and buying the drinks. What I tend to do is go out and buy several bottles of various soft drinks. The dispenser takes about three bottles. I'm also in charge of making the ice that will go into the dispenser to cool down the drinks. It has the added bonus of diluting the drinks a bit too, so it's not so sugary. Not that t…

10 Things I Love about The Princess and the Frog

(Mind you, as of this writing, I have seen The Princess and the Frog twice already. And will see it hopefully a third time soon. This isn't really a proper review, yet.)

1. Even if Tiana's father isn't there for most of the movie, there's still a very strong fatherly love presence. Tiana's mom, Eudora, voiced by Oprah Winfrey (who, incidentally, is the only really Famous Celebrity name in the cast list) also has a presence too. The first five minutes has a clip with both her parents which is just heartwarming.

2. Cajun = Acadian, with reference to that big-time Acadian love story, Evangeline. I missed this reference the first time around, but I think it was a wonderful thing to add to the story. I love Ray's solo about Evangeline.

3. The animal sidekicks have their own stories. Usually, the animal sidekicks start and end with the main character (Mushu and Crikey in Mulan, Meeko and the pug in Pocahontas, for example). Louis has a goal that doesn't have much…

Steampunking: Orientalism In Any Other Form...

This was originally a Twitter rant and then I realized I'd already made several tweets and still wasn't finished, so I thought I'd bring it on here.

Minh-Ha at Racialicious has an amazing post up on a modern example of Orientalism which everybody should read. She nails it here:

Lagerfeld seems to anticipate this critique when he argues that his short film represents “the idea of China, not the reality. It has the spirit of, and is inspired by, but is unrelated to China.” Without meaning to, Lagerfeld describes precisely one of the core truths of Orientalism (a system of Western knowledge that, as Edward Said explains, “had since antiquity [imagined the Orient as] a place of romance, exotic beings, haunting memories and landscapes, remarkable experiences”). Lagerfeld’s China, like the Orient Said discusses, is a European/American invention.
 It's a brilliant send-up of everything that's wrong with Orientalism, and yes, steampunks are utterly susceptible to this.

The …

On Corporations Profiting And Voting With Our Dollars

Sometime in March, the following advertisement was circulating:

I like how it has subtitles.

When it first came out, those who weren't cooing about how progressive it was, how great it was, was criticising it, saying, "well, of course, but in the end, there's only one reason to do such an ad - to make money. And we're all buying into it."

Well, of course we would, right? Because it's a positive ad. If the bank really espouses such values, then isn't it worthwhile supporting? Even though it's an example of capitalism at work?

Recently, the Methods Shiny Suds PSA campaign went viral, creating a chain of events across the feminist blogosphere. From the looks of it, it turned off a lot of potential consumers of Method from ever buying Method products ever again. Even I will be on the lookout for Method products and making a note to not buy them. And screed after screed was published of men who refused to give up their right to laugh at the idea of a woma…

Answering Stephen Fry: It's not Good Naturedness

QI, short for Quite Interesting, a TV game show in the UK, is brilliant television. The contestants are often funny (without necessarily plying on -isms), rapid-fire with their conversation, and informative at turns. I love this show and wish it would come out on DVDs so I can purchase them and hoard them and treasure them and hand them down to my children so they'll know intelligent humour while growing up.

But QI does have its privileged moments where I pause and go, "did you really just say that?" Fortunately, with the exception of Alan Davies who insists on plying his trade in using faux Spanish accents as a source of humour, they move on to something more amusing. Here's an example:

Alan: He's a villain, I know that much.
Stephen: That's basically it.
David: We're gay
Stephen: Or gay.
John: Gay villain
Stephen: Or a gay villain!
David: Or people think you're Australian so you get bar work.
John: The high-octane version of the English villain which is to …

Today Is the International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers

Yes it is!

Unfortunately, I was remiss and didn't make a blogpost about it. So, instead, I will give you a brief linkspam about it:

Global Voices Online:
December 17th is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, a day which started  in 2003 as a memorial and vigil to the Sex workers killed in Seattle Washington and then evolved to an international day to call attention to the hate crimes committed against sex workers throughout the world.

Feminist Philosophers:
The day calls attention to hate crimes committed against sex workers all over the globe as well as the need to remove the stigma and discrimination that is perpetuated by custom and prohibitionist laws that has made violence against sex-workers acceptable.

The red umbrella has become an important symbol for Sex Workers Rights and it is increasingly being used on December 17: “First adopted by Venetian sex workers for an anti-violence march in 2002, red umbrellas have come to symbolize resistance against discri…

Grooming Habits: The Poop Edition!

My friend Talulah Mankiller recently wrote a post about pooping. Namely, her troubles with pooping in public poop places and how she got over that. I was deeply amused about her reticence to poop in public places, because my BFF and I, when we lived in the university residences, we had a similar problem, but in the opposite way.

Being that the rest of this post is about poop, readers who can't stand to read about that sort of thing are advised to move on!

We lived in a tall residence. Each floor had 4 suites for undergrad housing - each suite had one double room, four singles, one shower, one washroom, I guess so if someone's showering, everyone else can still go pee.

There are, of course, problems with 6 people sharing one washroom, and that being the problem of smell. After taking a dump, some of us took to spraying air deodorant into the washroom, as if that actually made the problem any better.

I am not naturally a reticent person about bodily functions. People poop, pee an…

On Support Systems

In "class, culture, and moving away from home," Hugo Schwyzer muses about what it means when people choose to live closer to home, or at home, while attending university, which he saw as rather limiting, because, he had been told, college was about "having new experiences, creating a new identity, developing one’s own emotional, spiritual, and intellectual autonomy without interference from one’s family of origin". He then meandered off into musings about this topic.

I understood his talk about individualism. I understood the desire to get away from restrictions of the family, the ideal of broadening one's horizons far away from family and family friends, to be forced to become independent (which I never mustered, being 25 and still without a career), to be thrown into a void where I would have to start ground up. I think I've done quite nicely. I have a support system of friends, I chose really well my educational institution which has made university a jo…

My 9/11 Aftermath

Like many other people, I remember where I was when 9/11 happened. I was downstairs with my mum, listening to her talk to a friend, and we got a phone call, which my brother took. He said "What?" and hung up, ran upstairs, and after that I heard, "Shit."

After the third such expletive, I went upstairs, where my brother stood in front of the television in my parents' master bedroom, watching CNN.

At, where I was a member since May of that year, we couldn't stop talking about it. Members were making calls to make each those of ours in NYC were all right.

And inevitably, there were discussions which made me freak out.

Because 9/11 was perpetrated by "Muslim terrorists" and I lived in a Muslim country.

When Malaysia pronounced solidarity with other Islamic countries, I was actually quite proud. It was a dangerous move to make, pronouncing that we were a Muslim country at a time when the world hated Muslims. Not only that, but Muslims…

8 Memorable Musical Moments

Cycads tagged me. Can you believe that?! Cheh!

Anyway, this is a hard meme, you guys. ;_;

1) So, to begin with, I took piano lessons starting age 5 or so. We bought a piano that was a full eight years older, so yes, a piano that was older than me, second-hand. Every good middle-class kid had to learn how to play piano. My parents saw it as an opportunity they never had, my mum thought if I was ever out of a job, at least I could teach piano, and my dad figured that learning new things, which one does when capable of wielding an instrument, is a good thing to head off things like Alzheimer's. Either way, growing up, a piano in the house was a kind of marker, a cultural cue that one had arrived. I grew up with the usual stuff - Beethoven and Mozart, the former particularly, as my dad was very fond of the Pastoral. I never really felt very moved until we bought a CD with Tchaikovsky music, and this was the first track:

My soul was sold.

2) I was at some point the only one in my family…

Quick Thought

So it has occurred to me, after reading post after post after post on rape culture, that here's where we are with progress, at this point of our civilization.

We can send men to the moon, but we can't protect women from being raped in their own bedrooms.

If that isn't profoundly disturbing, I don't know what is.

Turning Away From Religion: Rapture edition

So I was watching that "If You Use Contraceptives, You Will not Be Raptured" video that's been going around (transcript at Shakesville). I must confess that I don't actually get this Rapture thing, and how most people who believe in it really live their lives waiting for it.

It sort of is counter-productive to the idea of loving God, you know? Apparently, God put you on this earth so he could make your life miserable and see how well you bear it. If you do as he says, he rewards you. If not, you get sent to hell. Everything in your life is performed according to your fear of Hell, and wanting to go to that Good Place instead.

But as I said, it runs counter-productively to the whole, I respect God because He is in fact the Almighty, by ignoring that big thing which gives him that Almighty status in the first place - Life On Earth Itself. What kind of messed-up mindedness do people need to get to the point where they are driven to loathe or ignore the rest of the worl…