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Hang On Tightly, Let Go Lightly


31 ramblings or ramble

Coming in time for Xmas! Buy copies for your friends!

Perhaps you'll be unsurprised to hear that my contribution to this fine tome is about LARPing (although I don't rate a mention alongside the real writers ;)).

Anyways, here's the blurb:


Chicks Dig Gaming:
A Celebration of All Things Gaming by the Women Who Love It
essay collection slated for November 11th release

Mad Norwegian Press is proud to announce the forthcoming publication of Chicks Dig Gaming --- an essay collection and sister publication to the Hugo Award-winning Chicks Dig Time Lords, the Hugo-nominated Chicks Dig Comics, and more.

The book is edited by Jennifer Brozek (Apocalypse Ink Productions), Robert Smith? (Who’s 50: The 50 Doctor Who Stories to Watch Before You Die) and Lars Pearson (editor-in-chief, the Chicks Dig series), and features essays by nearly three dozen female writers.

Contributors include Catherynne M. Valente (The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland…, Indistinguishable from Magic), Seanan McGuire (the October Daye series); G. Willow Wilson (Alif the Unseen), Rosemary Jones (Forgotten Realms), Emily Care Boss (Gaming as Women), Mary Anne Mohanraj (Bodies in Motion), Jody Lynn Nye (the MythAdventures series), E. Lily Yu (“The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees”) and more.

Also included: exclusive interviews with Paizo CEO Lisa Stevens and Dragonlance author Margaret Weis.

Chicks Dig Gaming will be published on November 11, 2014, and retail (print version) for $14.95. The book will also be available as an ebook on Kindle, Nook and iBooks on the day of release.

To request a review copy of Chicks Dig Gaming, or to schedule an interview with one of the editors or contributors, please email: MadNorwegian@gmail.com

A web-quality version of the Chicks Dig Gaming cover is attached; please email: MadNorwegian@gmail.com if you require a print-quality version.

5 ramblings or ramble
This week's (short) free reading is available on the Simply I Ching page.

Or, if you like, download the PDF of the "long" version.

The difference between the two? About 500 words. The "long" reading goes into a lot more detail about the changing lines, the path described by changing gua and even takes a glimpse at the "hidden" hexagrams.

If you'd like to commission a custom reading, drop me a line. "Short" readings are $15 and "long" readings are $30. Turnaround time is 24 - 72 hours.


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Feel free to share/repost this:

I've created a Meetup group in the hopes of bringing together Welsh language learners in the SF Bay Area*. All very early days but it's my hope that enough interested persons can be found to support a regular study group.

SF & East Bay Welsh Language Learners' Group.

Please join the group (it's free!) if you'd like to participate.

*since the Welsh Society of Northern California seems to be a totally defunct website, alas.


8 ramblings or ramble
Copied out my basic princess sloper, added ease, copied some details from the Vogue pattern and ran up a muslin - which doesn't sound like much four hours' work, but there you go.

Tried on the muslin, decided that I'd added too much ease in the back, as I rather suspected I would. Also decided to hell with the double-breasted closure, I was going to do a center-front opening with a faux double-breasted look, as I rather suspect Tennant's coat is. Ever see him wear it closed? Exactly. Besides, I need to save yardage. I'm still not sure I'll have enough as it is...

Tweaked seams to take in the too-much ease in back - managing to get the cut a bit closer to the rather dramatic lines of the Vogue pattern. Hemmed and hawed about doing the same in front but, really, the fit there is good. I had to gentle the side-front curve as it was a little too roomy, even for my bust, but that only shaved off an eighth of an inch, or so.

Took a tiny bit in at the armscye in the back, as it was too big for the sleeve provided with the Vogue pattern and, honestly, that was a bit big, already (the perils of a plus-sized pattern when one is, um, plus sized in an inconsistent manner). Tapered sleeve, slightly - probably a drafting no-no, but I like it better - and knocked a good three inches off the length. Along with short little legs, I have short little arms, it seems.

Spent FAR too much time redrawing the line for the opening of the coat. Going from the overlapped front of a double-breast opening to something more like a regular overcoat changed the angle of the neckline, which, in turn requires a change to the lapels (which were by now FAR too wide) and, oy, three rounds of back-and-forth between checking seamlines and tweaking the width of the collar and lapels...

But! I think I've got it right. I won't really know until I take apart the muslin and re-sew it, but that won't be too aggravating - just trimming off bits here and there.

As I say, not much for about six hours' work - total - but I'm actually very pleased with it. I have high hopes for the next muslin.

The remainder of my evening shall be spent with the freshly baked batch of cookies my Swain was kind enough to make before dinner time and The Fellowship of the Ring on the DVD player.

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As I've told you ad infinitum already, I picked up Vogue 8346 - below - with the intention of making it over into a new coat for Femmy!10. The short bolero thing just didn't work with the long skirt of the new version of the costume, you see.

It finally seeped into my brain that I hadn't given any thought to the *back* of the coat. Oops!

Obviously, there are differences, seam-line-wise between this:

Vogue 8346
(click to embiggen)

and this:

Abbyshot Tenth Doctor Coat

However, I absolutely do not have the yardage* to slavishly copy how the original item is cut (caveat, the above is actually Abbyshot's replica, but it's a good-enough reference photo), so I'm sticking with the princess seam into the armhole in back, as per the Vogue pattern.

But I would like to re-create that inverted box pleat at CB (I'm rather proud of the fact that I managed to do so on a freakin' bolero jacket) and I'm giving thought to vent in back, too, although I probably shouldn't - full-cut twirly-butt coats don't need a vent for movement, because of that aforementioned fullness.

Anyways. Glad I looked at things, as I'm on the verge of tracing out the test pattern (just doing the top half of the coat - no need to burn up yards and yards of muslin) and I would have kicked myself if I'd missed the CB detail.

I'm reasonably sure that the lapels are going to be wider than I am**, when all is said and done, but for this first draft, I'll copy the pattern bits as closely as I can (as I've NO experience in figuring out such things, myself) and see how it looks. THEN I'll adjust. The Idris bodice experiment has taught me that I can't introduce too many changes at once, as I'm just not skilled enough at pattern manipulation to handle that. That said, I'm putting the pleat in for this draft, as that nicely fixes the problem I was having re: ease in the back vs. desire to keep the coat as closely fitted as possible, despite it being an overcoat, etc, etc.

*I have five yards, so it's going to be a squeeze, however I - ahem - cut it.

**I'm not kidding. My shoulders are 3.5" wide. The lapels, once sewn, are 3.5" wide. It all depends where the roll-line falls, methinks.

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2 ramblings or ramble
This is really only meant for two people to see - one is a non-LJer, hence this post being public. It will probably go away as soon as advice is acquired. But if you fancy offering some advice, heck, I'm listening. What's going wrong with this Idris bodice mockup?Collapse )

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2 ramblings or ramble
Alex always loved the fact that he shared his birthday with HP Lovecraft.

Further sadness because Alex's b-day was when we celebrated the pets' birthdays, too, and Jack's been gone for two weeks, now.


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6 ramblings or ramble
Right then. Even though I've promised myself I'll hold off the actual construction (because my waist measurement is currently what my bust measurement was, 20 years ago and I know it's a long way from 21 to 41 but I can get rid of at least SOME of that, dammit) I've made a lot of progress in the materials manipulation for Idris. Details behind the cut tag. many pixCollapse )

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4 ramblings or ramble
It seems that ReaderCon also rocks at genderfail. Sigh.

By rax: Readercon: This Isn't The Only Reason Not To Go.
Filter: public

In the comments to my entry of last night, kest reminded me of an anecdote I wanted to share.

Some of y'all have already heard this. Some of y'all were present when it happened and I know I blogged about it shortly after the incident, but I think it bears re-telling.

I was at a convention in 2008 - a small event of not more than 500 people or so. As is per usual at this sort of thing, folks would hang out in the lobby of the hotel after programming was done for the night and shoot the shit, knock back a few beverages, etc. Much conversation, some flirtation and, I'm sure, some hooking-up occurred.

There was a guy there, whom we shall call Asshat for reasons that are about to become obvious.

Asshat was trying, oh was he trying to make it with the ladies. But instead of succeeding, he was checking off every box on the How to be a Creep bingo card. He wouldn't respect personal space. He touched women without asking. He offered (and offered, and offered) to give women back rubs and foot rubs and would persist with the offer, even when turned down. And, as the night progressed, he got extremely drunk (even by my standards, it was pretty epic) and increasingly pushy.

At one point, I was having a great conversation with a fantastic costumer I had just met. Let's call her V.. V is extremely talented and I was dying to pick her brains. She was also very pretty and apparently unaccompanied. About ten minutes into the conversation, Asshat comes barreling towards as V looks panicked and disgusted and says "Oh my god, this guy. I can't stand him. Excuse me." and she fled for the elevators.

Me? I ended up talking to the guy for I don't know how long. Over an hour, trying to get it through his head that he was on a hiding to nowhere. Furthermore, I deliberately decided to throw myself on the grenade for the team. If I was occupying his attention - and I was one of his targets for the evening - that meant he wouldn't be harassing anyone else. It was not the most fun I've ever had at LobbyCon.

Finally, I convince the guy that he needs to go to bed - no, thank you, I'm not coming with you - and he goes.

Me? I was pissed at having to spend a chunk of my evening like that, furious at Asshat for being an ass and bloody annoyed that the only solution that I thought was tenable was to throw myself on that grenade and talk and talk and talk to him instead of saying "Dude.You're a creep. You've managed to alienate pretty much every woman in the room. Fuck off." Any why didn't I say that? Because I had no way of telling if this guy would retreat with his tail between his legs and/or physically assault me either then-and-there, or at a later point in the weekend. But I've gone over that, already...

The next day. several people - male and female - approach me and say "Wow, Johanna. That guy was a real ass. If he bugs you again tonight, you just let me know and I'll step in."

My reaction to these declarations wasn't simple. Several thoughts ran through my head simultaneously:
1) You noticed that I was being bothered by Asshat, last night, but you didn't step up at the time. Thanks a heap. And I'm sure all the other women you saw him bothering are pleased, too.
2) Since when do you get to decide that I need rescuing?
3) Oh, thank god, I won't have to handle Asshat alone, tonight.

And then I felt ashamed for getting angry about #2.

There have been times when I've sought rescue, and there have been times when people have appointed themselves my shining knight - even when I didn't need one. But I got over feeling bad about feeling angry. And the whole who decides who needs rescuing in an uncertain social situation is a thorny problem and merits discussion all by itself. It'll come, believe me. But I'm digressing...


In the end, Asshat was so badly hungover after that night, he remained invisible for the rest of the convention. I heard rumor that he realized he had fucked up and was, in fact, hiding out. But I don't believe that rumor was true.

Why? Because the next year, Asshat emails me a couple of weeks before the next instance of the event (I let him have my email address because I have trouble enforcing my boundaries, remember?) and he told me that he was, indeed, just too hungover to socialize at the convention the next night and, by the way, he was so looking forward to meeting up with those lovely ladies of the event again and did I have any tips for how he could avoid getting shot down so hard this time around?

There was also some babbling about having been on medication that aggravated the effects of alcohol and oopsie and but I'm a nice guy!, too.

So I let him have it. Politely, to be sure, but I told him that he had been a creep at LobbyCon and the best thing he could do was not try flirting with the "lovely ladies". Indeed, don't even talk to them. Wait for them to come to him, if they were going to which, to be honest, was rather unlikely...

Cue: approximately half a dozen rounds of email in which he defends himself with "But I'm a nice guy!" and "I'm just trying to pay these pretty gals a compliment, I don't get what the fuss is?" and "How am I supposed to make new friends (translated: hook up) if I don't talk to anyone?" and I keep repeating the same don't-be-a-creep points over and over.

I hoped some of it sunk in, but I think what really got to him was the rumor that reached me - and him - that if one person, one person complained about his behavior at the next LobbyCon, he was going to get thrown out so fast and so hard, his ass would bounce on the sidewalk. As I recall, he was there when the con rolled around a few weeks later, but generally kept to himself. To be honest, this time I did line up a few would-be rescuers in advance and, whenever I saw him floating around the edges of the heaving mass of LobbyCon I - and many other women, I'm sure - turned my back on him and threw myself into whatever conversation I was having with even more gusto. Anyone who had been there the year before immediately picked up on the situation - there's those non verbal cues again - and we all pulled together to exclude Asshat.

Was Asshat clueless? Based on the email conversations we had, I think so. Was Asshat also malicious? Yes. I don't believe that the terms clueless and malicious are mutually exclusive. Some folks talk like that's the case, but they're wrong.

The sad and horrible thing is that guys like Asshat are everywhere. They're at conventions, they're on the bus, they're at the workplace. And so we end up with situations like Shrodinger's Rapist.


A quick postscript on non-verbal communication and deciding whether or not to step into an encounter to break it up because you think someone is being harassed. I apologize for the awkward structure, but I'm trying to keep it gender neutral, for obvious reasons.

ETA: I'm assuming a situation like a SF/F convention, not a random encounter on the street. Different rules apply. But some principles are universal.

Watch the encounter.

Is one person physically backing off from the other - and the other keeps trying to close that space? Is the person who's backing off trying to turn their back on the encounter?

Does the aggressor keep reaching out to touch the other person, despite being shrugged off?

Is the possible-victim looking around the space, trying to make eye contact with someone, anyone?

They are? Then make that eye-contact and pay attention to what happens next. I have managed to summon more help with a quick eye-roll - or a widening of my eyes - and a momentary downturn of the mouth (hate to say it, but the aggressor is often looking at my tits, so a change of expression isn't noticed) than a whole set of semaphore flags.

Contraiwise, I have managed to convey no, really, I'm okay with a bit of a wink and a half-smile.

Actually, body language is the set of semaphore flags. So, yeah, assess that when deciding what to do.

If in doubt, barge on in. Me? Me in particular? I might mutter something about #2, above, but it's far more likely that I'll thank you for getting involved.
7 ramblings or ramble
ETA: this is a public post because, damn, this s*** needs to be talked about. A lot. Out loud and in public.

ETA2: But wait! There's more!

It's a topic that's been on my mind for a long time, but not one I've spoken up about because, honestly, people who are much smarter and more articulate than myself have said pretty much everything I've ever wanted to say.

However, recent events have me thinking that I have to put in my two cents.

For a long time - until quite recently - I was suckered into the notion that if I wore a costume at a convention, any kind of costume, I had to accept unasked-for remarks with good grace, even when they went far past the line of, say, appreciative and into creepy.

I would let people touch me - from arms around the shoulder to unasked-for back rubs - because I didn't want to be the bitch who told them back off.

Correction: I didn't know that I could say "Back off!" without there being horrible consequences.

During my too-brief sojourn in talk-therapy* one thing that was pulled out into the harsh light of day and thoroughly examined is that, because of a couple of traumatic incidents, I have very poor boundaries and great difficulty enforcing them.

Okay then. The lousy boundaries aren't my "fault", per se, but in failing to deal with some matters, I tolerated unacceptable behavior - and by tolerating it, I (silently) approved it and therefore perpetuated it.

So the guy who I let circle me and whistle and say something along the lines of "You've still got it, baybee" (this was a man who I'd threatened with a restraining order some years prior to that incident - we encountered each other in the hallway of a local convention) was not reprimanded by me at the time (I wanted to, even in my clueless state back then, his behavior enraged me) and I'm sure he went on to pull similar BS on other women. And, damn, do I feel stupid for not calling him on it.

At first, I didn't know such behavior was unacceptable. Young, clueless and insecure, I'd accept such things with the equivalent of "tee hee" and tossing my hair. Any attention was good attention, right?

Then, even after I twigged on to the fact that I had the right to be treated as another human being (paging Simone DeBeauvoir!) I kept my mouth shut as I had already encountered the privileged brushoff of "Geeze, calm down willya, it's just a joke!" and worried that not only would my thoughts not be respected, but I would be seriously marginalized. Fandom was the center of my social life. I couldn't afford to find myself booted out of it.

(Don't even get me started on the "But I'm a nice guy / paying her a compliment!" defense. Just don't.)

Tangent: A friend of mine who I consider one of the most liberal-minded and book-smart guys I've ever known told me a few years ago that, in all honesty, that he thought I was taking the whole Barbie-is-not-an-acceptable-role-model-for-little-girls thing "too seriously" and did I really overthink every advertisement in which women were objectified and children sexualized every time I watched TV? It was a few months before I could talk to that guy again. FWIW, he's moved on a lot and I think he gets it now. I think. But I was gobsmacked at the time that he didn't get it, and I see folks who I thought were similarly smart saying the same things. Anyways...

I'm insecure and kind of needy. I want the approval of my friends. I've been into SF/F since long before it fought its way into the mainstream and better-than-it-was gender parity. Many of my friends in fandom are male. Because I'm insecure and kind of needy, I was willing to accept objectification as a form of (male) approval.

Not any more. I've not worn certain costumes for several years and, believe me, the weight I've gained rendering those costumes a bit snug is only one reason of many.

True, I should feel free to wear whatever I want at a convention and if some asshat makes unwanted comments or - worse yet - touches me without consent, I should be able to tell that person where to get off, without fear of being accused of over-reacting, of being shrewish, or being hysterical.

I'll pause for a second while the female readership regains its breath from laughing itself sick.

Shrodinger's Rapist is a very real concern for all women - even at a "safe" event**. I have no way of knowing if the guy who I ask to stop giving me an uninvited backrub at a convention party is going to attack me in a stairwell after the party is over. I don't. So I let him give me the backrub and take a long shower afterwards.

Newsflash: women will "accept" minor assault - and that's what unwanted contact is - rather than risk something worse.

Newsflash the second: in my experience, unwanted attention at conventions (or other public spaces) has always come from men. Always. But that is, to be fair, partially attributable to the gender disparity at conventions, in that case. If BayCon 1996 had a 50/50 gender split, maybe I would have had women catcalling me when I wore the infamous black plastic minidress. Who knows?

And so I've quit wearing outfits that I fear will get me harassed, or that I'm wearing to please the male gaze (see: insecure and needy, above). I've started speaking up when I'm the object of unwanted attention - and speaking up like that scares the shit out of me. There are people out there who will react violently to what they perceive as rejection. Maybe not right then, but maybe later that night, or a week from now, or six months down the road.

But I have to speak up. Have to.

I've been encouraged by the growing awareness of the need to make conventions a safe space for everyone, regardless of gender, sexuality, race, etc. More and more people are encountering unacceptable behavior and calling the perps to account for it. If I want to feel safe, I must join my voice with theirs, rather than try to shrug incidents off and/or convince myself I'm overreacting.

Harassment, marginalization, perpetuation of rape culture... all of that and a dozen more oppressive situations... silence equals consent.

People who feel threatened must speak up. We must support each other. We have to keep hammering on this topic, even when we're dismissed, told to "chill out", patronized and ignored.

We're making progress. Even I, Ms. Oblivious, can see this. Let's keep it up!

*Ended because of financial issues and a twit of a boss who wouldn't let me leave a half hour early twice a month to make it to my sessions. That's changing, now, thank heavens.

**What is safe? A place where I don't have to worry about dismissal, harassment or assault. It doesn't exist, yet, and so I must remain vigilant.


44 ramblings or ramble
My best friend is gone.

Alex passed away about 20 minutes ago.

I think he waited until I had stepped out of the room - I needed to take a break - but I got back in time. It was very quick and very peaceful. We were all there and we said goodbye.

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272 ramblings or ramble
today's clue-by-four from the oracleCollapse )


1 ramble or ramble
My mother died at 2:45AM. It was very peaceful, and we were all able to say goodbye before she went.

Thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts and good wishes during the past few days.


78 ramblings or ramble