April 24   Hugo Nominations 2014

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This is the podcast you’re having when you’re not really having a podcast. Don’t think of it as a new episode. Think of it as an additional appendage. If we’d recorded the last episode further down the timeline, we’d have discussed the Hugo ballot in full. And when you think of it that way, aren’t you glad we split those 4 hours into two?

Galactic Suburbia the John Campbell Memorial not a Hugo Episode 

In which we do discuss the Hugo shortlists both Retro and Current, but this is not an episode. Not at all. For… administrative reasons.
Retro Hugo Shortlist 1939.
Hugo ShortlistBrandon Sanderson says interesting things about fandom groups, and the Wheel of Time nomination. 

Some gender notes on the Hugo shortlist
Tansy’s Hugo links post
Tansy & John DeNardo of SF Signal discuss the shortlist on Coode Street Podcast
THANK YOU EVERYONE WHO NOMINATED GALACTIC SUBURBIA FOR BEST FANCAST, WE LOVE YOU TOO. WE LOVE YOU SO MUCH WE WOULD GIVE YOU FIVE STARS ON ITUNES.
Download the latest not a Hugo Episode Hugo Episode Additional Appendage HERE


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Heads up: there’s a bonus Hugo edition episode incoming.

In which we approach Fringe from multiple sides, rant about Game of Thrones, muse about cake lit and Alisa is a PhD student again! Bonus supplemental awards chat (but not in depth about the Hugos because we recorded before the shortlist went public) and an invitation to CAKE OUT for our 100th. See you there…

Culture Consumed:
Alex: Fringe s1; A Million Suns, Beth Revis; The Crooked Letter, Sean Williams

Tansy: Game of Thrones rant, Jenny Colgan novels, Jago & Litefoot 7, Yonderland!

Alisa: Game of Thrones; Generation Cryo; The Cuckoo by Sean Williams, Clarkesworld Issue 91; the PhD Report

Aurealis Awards were awarded.

(sidetracked: Before the Internet from XKCD)

Hugo nomination
CAKE COMPETITION! For our 100th episode, we would like to have a new logo. On a cake. Designed by you. Send a picture of your creation and you could win… something… and you can eat the cake, too. (This is episode 98, so you’ve got 4 or 5 weeks to plan your creation.)
Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!
LISTEN TO US HERE!


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One of my favourite greetings at a convention is “How is your con going?” I love the implication that everyone is experiencing the same event differently, from their own perspective. I love that it’s implied that one person can be having a terrible time and that be completely unrelated to someone else’s ie a great convention is one that offers a diverse group of people that which they each need to have a good time. Not such an easy task to complete when you run a con and a very easy thing to attack when you attend. It also means that you can be hearing a lot of complaints about a con being boring or disorganised yet be having the best time yourself.

We just came off of Swancon 2014 (39 for those who talk SwanconGeek). It was the first con I’ve attended with my child in tow. That had its drawbacks – I didn’t manage to get to the Art Show for example, which I really wanted to (I think there was some work there I might have wanted to buy.) I couldn’t have done the con at all without Terri and Shani who did a lot (most) of the baby wrangling. The baby didn’t really want to nap too much, what with all the people and things to look at and process. So we had quite a grumpy baby by the end of each day and yesterday was painful trying to get her back into her routine. My favourite grumpy baby moment was when she just gave up on Friday night and sat in her highchair at a restaurant and squealed over and over and over like she was on total overboard (her daddy removed her from the situation and we went home).

But for me, a good con starts and ends with a good dealers room – decent size space for the traders who will be there, nice mix of traders offering different things, enough chairs for each table, access to power, aircon (that can be adjusted) and a good steady flow of people coming in to see us! This year Margaret was the dealers liaison and she was hands down the best liaison I’ve ever dealt with. She sent out regular but not too often emails ahead of the event with relevant information (and information gathering about our needs). She organised traders to bump in at 15 min intervals allowing only one of us to be unloading and using the hotel trolley at a time. She was hanging around and available to assist us when we arrived. She organised menus and took lunch orders, our money and then sent up the waiters with lunch for us at lunchtime. We DID NOT STARVE. And she did it in a calm, take charge authoritative manner. She made it an enjoyable breeze. The room was a good size and overall pretty pleasant.

Being a trader, my con basically looks like the inside of the dealers room. Hopefully trade is brisk and constant so I have things to do (and I sell my books to enthusiastic readers!). But also, hopefully everyone eventually comes past and says hello. I definitely feel like I got to have good chats with lots of people – new friends I’ve made in the last year on Facebook and old friends too. It’s also a good chance for writers to come past and talk about stuff, pitch projects or touch base on work we’re working on and so on.

We had a small Twelfth Planet Press event. I was quite worried I’d overcatered and that noone would come. Terri spent hours and hours conceiving, making and icing 450 macarons. I helped a bit with some oven management but basically that was all her. She made 9 kinds to match the covers of the Twelve Planets published so far and flavoured them according to themes within. (I’ll be posting more on that over on Pinterest). Shani kindly looked after the baby during this. As usual at Swancon, some lovely people popped in early to help me set up – thank you to all those people, I greatly appreciate your help. And I had Cat there who made sure all the champagne was served and drunk (I definitely was worried I’d overcatered). So many people came along and it turned out to be a really lovely event to celebrate the books we’ve done so far and the four more to come (yep – FOUR!).

And finally, for me, a good con has attracted some of my friends along so I get to catch up and hang out with people I love. That definitely happened this year and I can tell because I got given homework by Stefen, Nick and Jonathan as well as Cat and Bec. Should keep me busy for a while!

When you leave a good con you feel inspired to do something, be it consume or create. I came away with some ideas to mull over and a lot of reading to do. And I think we managed to feed everyone some Twelve Planets coloured and flavoured macarons thanks to Terri’s creativity! So I’m calling it a Good Con.

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Photos taken by Cat Sparks

 



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Spoilerific Special – Veronica Mars

 Veronica_MarsIn which a long time ago, we used to be friends, but I haven’t heard from you lately at all – come on now, sugah, bring it on, bring it on. Just remember me when
It’s the Kickstarted Veronica Mars Movie Squeeful Spoilerific Special!
With Alex away stargazing, Alisa and Tansy dig into the nitty gritty of the recent release movie we had been waiting YEARS for. We talk about the history of the show (SPOILERS FOR ALL OF VERONICA MARS, NOT JUST THE MOVIE), the writing, the characters, the love stories, the murders, the stars and the in-jokes.We also talk about the Kickstarter campaign and its ramifications for a TV industry teetering on the brink of a total rebirth.

Are you Team Logan, Team Piz, Team Mac or (most importantly of all) Team Veronica? Does a soundbyte of a certain Dandy Warhols song make you break into a smile? Were you so disheartened at the end of Season 3 that you watched all of Party Down to get over the sad? Come on down to Galactic Suburbia.
People say we’re a marshmallow.
Listen here or subscribe via iTunes
Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!


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For my birthday, I allowed myself to buy a yard of a bunch of fabrics at the Fat Quarter Shop that I’d been leaving open in tabs in my browser.

So uh, yeah. I have a Paris thing going on. I’m adding these to a stack I already have. For a um, as yet non defined project. And quilt shop fabrics – it’s so meta I had to get it.

Ballet fabrics. Also a theme I am currently unable to resist collecting. I’m hoping the pinks work together so I can just make the one ballet themed quilt. Two is probably overkill.

I had to do a big thing and unpack the fabrics for these photos. It took me a couple of days of “can I really do that?” but  think I’m ok about it now! And I might even start thinking about what I’m going to do with these! I suspect a long time ago I made a rule about not starting new projects when the textiles came in because I might have a tendency towards startititis. You’re shocked to read this, I know. But the rule seems to have set in so hard that I now am leaning towards scary hoarder who buys stuff and then just never unwraps it or looks at it but stacks it in the ballooning back room.

I have a cute idea for the fashion fabrics I’ve been collecting which may or may not extend into using some of these. I’m going to let the idea percolate.

Meanwhile, my March KnitCrate finally arrived, and a little worse for travelling as it looked like customs had to pack it into a plastic bag, it having come apart at a seam. I was sad because a couple of my friends had already got theirs and I couldn’t yet agree that I loved the pink yarn but not the shawl pattern (now I can agree on both). The indie yarn this month is from Hazel Knits – a new dyer to me. And I can’t believe we got two skeins – that would make two pairs of socks if I went that way. Instead, I’ve cast on a little sweater/shrug for the baby. I’m going to think about what I will do with the second skein later. And MINI SKEINS (10) in Hazel Knits various colourways too.

The baby yarn is LanaMundi Yarns and is spun with a thread of silver which is exceedingly cool! I don’t fancy the little baby slippers, especially after seeing how quickly baby socks got schlepped off this morning. The kit came with ideas though – apparently silver threaded yarn makes mittens that can still navigate an iPad! Goodies in the kid included some boiled lollies and these two lovely knitting needle rulers. Can never have too many of those!

My finished piece this week has been the first (of 12) of the alternate blocks for the Solstice Quilt. They are log cabins with a fussy cut centre. 6 will look like this and the other 6 have a different centre. I’m sewing these sort of in batches but the lead block is finally done!

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March 31   Coffeeeeeeeee!

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For my birthday, Kathryn got me this from Three Thousand Thieves! How is it that I had not heard of this?! We are such huge subscription box people in this house too! So Three Thousand Thieves will send you every month a bag of freshly roasted coffee beans from an artisan underground Melbourne coffee roaster. What an awesome world we live in that this exists!!!

The March batch is The Governor from by Contraband.

Since we’ve been a bit picky with study location cafes, Amanda came and worked at my place last week and I offered table service and this coffee freshly roasted and espressed! This coffee is “rich, clean and exceedingly complex complex coffee with a bright raspberry aroma and flavours of milk chocolate caramel and hazelnuts, and finishes strongly with a crisp and refreshing citrus.” It will be no surprise to you that our household do like our limited edition boutique stiff. So yeah, major hit – can’t wait for next month!

I’m also very happy that I opened them right away and tried them – I also made some coffees today so the bag is nearly finished. Normally I do not do this – I think I worry about using it all up or enjoying all the fun out of the New Thing (craft fabric, yarn, tea, book, whatever) all in one go and not having any saved for later. Which means that I usually stash New Thing and end up never enjoying it. I’m trying to break this habit in 2014. It being coffee, and me being a coffee snob and thus not wanting the beans to go stale is really helping with that! I can also happily report I opened the March Monstrositea tin and am enjoying this month’s teas too!





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Peacemaker Tour Banner

Why Westerns Appeal

Peacemaker-CR_webAt 14, when I started out reading Westerns, I wasn’t much of a critical reader, so I devoured them with an enormous but undiscriminating reading appetite. I didn’t understand the inherent sexism, or the fact that many of them were formulaic. Teenager me, was totally seduced by the landscape and the romance and the action. The notion of the male hero was appealing and entrancing. So was the tradition of courtly love – men prepared to die for their women, defend their honour, and ride to the ends of the earth to rescue them.

Reflecting upon that now makes me very uncomfortable. What was I thinking? And why does my attraction to the traditional Western still remain?

Well, there’s definitely a sense of nostalgia at play, a wistfulness that comes from the knowledge that the young, wide-eyed reader from those days no longer exists. But that’s not all. See, I love a sense of purpose and a sense of place in a novel. I’m really not one to meander around in someone else’s fictional world, content not to know where I’m going. Westerns get me somewhere. They also, in my experience, always have a deep connection with the landscape. The West itself, is a major player in the story, just like The City is often the silent protagonist in urban fantasy. In Westerns we not only get to look at the scenery, we get to experience how it makes it makes our hero’s life better, or worse, or sometimes both.

Then there’s the lawlessness. I’ve always been a fan of anarchical tales. In destroying or ignoring one set of rules, do we just build another? What’s the higher connection between morality and the law? How do we organise ourselves in times of chaos? All these are questions I’ve been exploring in other genres for a long time. It was only a matter of time before I re-visited them in the Western format — but with a brand new set of eyes.

GR author pic_web Marianne de Pierres is the author of the acclaimed Parrish Plessis and award winning Sentients of Orion science fiction series. The Parrish Plessis series has been translated into eight languages and adapted into a roleplaying game. She’s also the author of a bestselling teen dark fantasy series entitled Night Creatures. She lives in Brisbane, Australia. Marianne writes award-winning crime under the pseudonym Marianne Delacourt.

 



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wallpaper-s5-bill-and-wives-1600I recently finished a full rewatch of HBO’s Big Love. I’d recommended it to my sister and so I watched a long with her, mostly for her reaction to the ending, which was totally worth it. I really love this show, especially what they did with the ending and the way it empowers 3 women in a very interesting way.

Spoilers for the entire show below.

I can never remember if I’ve actually seen this show from the pilot or if you really are just thrown into the action. Bill Henrickson is a self appointed Priest of his own church having returned to polygamy and being kicked out their LDS church and also have been kicked off the compound he grew up in, Juniper Creek, as a 16 year old boy. We don’t see a lot of the history and background that brings this family of 3 wives and 8 children together but can only glean it over the full four seasons. And that picture that we put together ourselves is a complex and complicated one. In many ways Bill is a good man, a well intentioned man. He was a “lost boy” – kicked out by his father at 16 and left to fend for himself in a world that he didn’t grow up in, with rules that he wasn’t schooled in. Presumably Bill (and his brother) was kicked out much like young male lions are from the pack by the dominant male – the threat to his power and virility. On Juniper Creek, women are possessions that can be traded for favours, the Prophet can reassign wives if it pleases him to reward and punish. It seems that most of those wives are not treated very well, most live in what looks like abject poverty, with little power, and the power they do have is through the hierarchy of their sister wives. Not only this but girls are placed in the Joy Book at 15 or 16 to be perused like shoes a catalogue and traded across borders and between other compounds. Not all women are of the age of consent when married off.

Bill is essentially a good man. But that doesn’t mean he’s without flaws or that he does not always do well even when with the best of intentions. He spend his life fighting for freedom for the women on the compound, by way of wanting more for his mother but also in pursuing through legal and governmental policy means, as well as developing a program, to assist women to leave abusive situations. And in trying to help prosecute paedophiles and the peddling of young women through the Joy Book.

As I watched the show this time round, I started to wonder if this show is feminist. Bill has 3 wives. He is the head of his house. He consults with the women and looks for family decisions *unless* they disagree with him. He often makes decisions on his own. Two of the four (one doesn’t work out) wives that he marries he sleeps with before marriage even though he is staunchly against sex before marriage. He absolutely cannot deal with Barb’s (his first wife) declaration that she holds the priesthood too – I loved that whole logic, she couldn’t possibly hold the priesthood because noone had laid hands on her and it was just impossible because its passed down from father to son. (That sounds more logical an argument, even if I disagree with it but in the show it was a lot more circular in that basically he was choosing not to allow her to feel it therefore she couldn’t feel it.). Only Bill’s testimonies from Gpd were real and funnily enough they always involved either him getting a new wife, setting up his own church, deciding to run for office – they always involved him getting more sex or power. I kinda decided in the end that even though he means well, he is a bit of an arsehole. A kinda well meaning arsehole, held back by his frame of reference but kinda sexist and self serving. Basically I found his biggest flaw to be hubris – he never ever took a moment to step back and look at his weaknesses as something to overcome. He never ever addressed ideas like, maybe if I continue to cheat on my wives, then have a testimony that I’m supposed to take a new wife, that maybe my current wives might feel – jealous, betrayed, angry, ignored etc. I feel like he really got in the end what was coming to him – in so many ways he really did try to resolve conflicts but he also conveniently ignored lots of ticking bombs and then was shocked when people reacted in human ways.

Really, I feel like the show is not about Bill at all but about his three wives and that’s what has always drawn me to this show. Bill takes his second wife – Nicky – when Barb is (I presume) sick with cancer. He had a testimony I guess, that he needed another wife to look after his first one but also to look after his kids should the first wife die. In this context, it’s kind of extreme that a woman who did not grow up in polygamy to accept this as the obvious solution but it *is* sort of understandable. If you squint. Barb follows Bill into polygamy I think firstly because she thought she was going to die (and her kids were little, you would want someone to love your kids the way you do so if you could groom that replacement? I dunno). But mainly she follows him because she loves him and accepts him as her head of house. What is interesting though, is how much of Barb’s character we see throughout the four season as a result of this. How much resentment, jealousy, anger and so on she swallows and how she makes the best of this situation.

Nicky is the least likeable woman you would ever want to share a family life with. She’s mean, jealous, spiteful and very prickly. She hates hugs. She will always point out the bad in the situation. She will always expect the worst and remind you of that when it happens. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to learn to love this woman as your sister wife. To share not just your husband but your house, your children, your life. Nicky grew up on Juniper Creek so for her polygamy is the natural way of things. Her jealousy is not about sharing Bill but in all kinds of other ways. We learn though that she was a child bride, her father, the Prophet, traded her via his Joy Book and married her to a man older than her. Bill must have rescued her from the situation of living on the compound – though he did not know of much of her personal history or that she had a child in that union, which must have happened well before she comes to care for Barb. (We learn her father relented and let her divorce her husband, as an indulgence … )

Margene is the third wife and the newest on the scene. She’s young and peppy and not a Morman. She was the babysitter – I guess Barb went back to work and Nicky needed help, this is never really explained much – and Bill had an affair with her. We learn in the final season that she was totally not of legal age when he married her. And so the whole story comes full circle. What’s so interesting about that is even though it’s Bill who is responsible, Barb and Nicky are implicated because they consented (though Nicky did vote No – Of course she did!) to the marriage. And Barb of course was in the house the whole time so she becomes an accessory to statutory rape. And the women feel just as betrayed by Margene as Bill is responsible for sleeping with a minor.

These women have strength of mind and commitment to the vision of their family, both now and in the afterlife where they believe their family will be reunited, to want to work on making it work. It’s so interesting to watch their relationships and they evolve and interact – they must absorb the waves that Bill is constantly making. They must make it work and they work to move past jealousy and pettiness to do so. They raise each other’s children as their own. They have their own politics that are outside of their relationships with Bill. Some favourite moments are when one wife kicks him out of her bed on their scheduled night and he wanders next door to another wife who sends him back to the first. That doesn’t always hold true – later on things do break down. But when Barb leaves Bill, briefly, I love that Nicky and Marge feel like she has left them too, they feel that they are married to Barb as well and that they didn’t deserve to be punished for Bill’s mistakes. There very much are 4 people in this marriage.

What I love most is the evolution of each woman across the series. Barb struggles to find meaning in her life between losing her affiliation with the LDS church and in some ways having to move over and share her husband after I think it was 16 years of marriage. She wants to have her own spiritual path and hold the priesthood – give blessings and take a greater role in the church. I wonder a lot about what might have happened if Bill could have loosened the reins and felt he could share his church with his wife rather than pass it down to his son. He felt very threatened by her desire to have a greater role as though it was commentary on his ability to lead or the job he was doing. Sometimes, it’s not about you, dude, sometimes someone else is just walking their own journey. (Sorry, I did a lot of yelling at Bill this time).

Nicky becomes liberated. She goes from a very traditional woman, living in a suburb but with her head still on the compound. She’s the work horse, she can fix anything that’s broken, isn’t really very materialistic (though amassed a $20k debt before we begin following the story) and cares a lot about the insulation of family against the world. Through various circumstances she goes out to work to a day job, meets other people, falls for someone in her office (which does make her have to address the fact that she’s kinda married to someone she doesn’t actually love and what kind of choices did she have in getting to there), takes contraceptives because she doesn’t want more children (really interesting thread because it’s seen as a betrayal to the vision of the family if she’s not contributing more children yet Margene is allowed to not want more children eventually too with much less contention, though she does have to fight for that somewhat.), changes the way she dresses, eventually falls for Bill and then kinda doesn’t want to share him anymore (interesting …) and runs the underground train for helping women escape Juniper Creek. Really though, what hope did Nicky have given both her parents were amoral, self serving, manipulative, selfish people who kinda didn’t love their kids. Nicky probably does really well with what she has and there are some great moments when she is the parent of choice to go to with problems.

Margene grows up. Basically. She was a child going into a marriage with three adults who in some ways parented her but mostly just tolerated her. She had very little say in things in the beginning and was kind of a sex kitten come babysitter. It’s very hard for Barb to see and treat her as her equal. She was a child who got distracted by having children – three in a very short period of time. I think she was about 21 either at the beginning or the end of the show. In that time, she finds herself. She discovers she’s good at business, setting up her own, and then when that gets harpooned due to them coming out about being in a plural marriage, she gets involved in a pyramid scheme company. But through all this she finds her own voice and her abilities. She starts to earn her own money and see life goals she might want to pursue. That’s a bit difficult when you have kids at home and your husband thinks your family should be your life goal. She agitates a lot for pursuit, and Bill tolerates it where it doesn’t mean he has to give up anything. But clearly that is not going to be a sustainable situation long term. I very much love a conversation between the wives where Margene says that she didn’t get to have a life between being a child and a parent and Nicky points out her childhood was taken from her, thus Margene is better off!

There is much talk about love and family and the vision of their family in the after life. And in the final episode, Bill gets killed. There is this healing scene where he begs Barb to give him a blessing as he dies. Well, healing or infuriating cause he’s ever the hypocrite, anyhoo. And you think, well, did these women really share his vision of family? They are all young women with a long life to live. We get a flashforward to not quite a year ahead and we see that Barb has taken over Bill’s church. And Nicky and Barb are raising Margie’s kids whilst Margie is off on three month stints doing volunteer work in South America. She looks vibrant and energised and happy. And she looks older, more equal to the other two. And Nicky and Barb are at home, in a sisterwives marriage with each other. Living the life Bill envisioned.

I do wonder though. Will those women really live the rest of their lives like this? Surely they will want to meet other men and maybe have other romantic relationships? What will Bill think if they rock up in heaven as a marriage of 7 people! “It’s just not the way it is, Barb! It’s not *right* for a woman to have more than one husband!” But you know, they do like to seal people after they’re dead so … Bill better prepare himself for reality :)

 

 



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March 28   Cafe Review: Brew-ha

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For reasons that make sense to me, pretty much all my doctors are up north of the river, in and around Subi. So I kinda spend a bit of time killing time or grabbing food before and after appointments. Brew-ha is conveniently located very close to my new GP and with babies, you’re kinda at the GP a bit. Last week I finally did the second lot of baby vaccinations which I required my mum to come along and help me with :) Poor bubba cried her heart out, and then was smiling and laughing like nothing happened.

We met for lunch at Brew-ha beforehand and I grabbed this very pretty flat white and a raspberry and white choc muffin.

I’m in two minds about this cafe. It *does* have free wifi and quite a bit of space for wheeling a pram in and around. The coffee is fine. And I think the food we’ve had there has also been fine. It doesn’t have table service, you usually have to wait for the staff at the counter to finish their chat in order to order and they only take cash at the register. I’d complain about that but there is a bank ATM just down the street so I spose I could use that if needed (I never have cash on me).

 



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I’ve just started watching a doco series on MTV (Foxtel) called Generation Cryo. It’s about a young woman called Bree from Reno Nevada who goes in search of her 14 half siblings and her sperm donor father.  Best quote so far, “my mom blames my lesbian mom for why I’m gay…” (yes her mums were in a gay relationship when they conceived her.)

In the first episode, Bree visits her first set of siblings in Georgia who are Jewish and she has Shabbat with them. The family is really lovely and welcoming and open. Their father is really honest about how he felt about his own infertility and his hesitations with Bree’s quest to find the donor – that he feels threatened by it. It was very moving. Bree forms a bond with her two half siblings and her half brother agrees to give her his DNA so she can search databases to locate their father. (They do get a match and a few of the half siblings send an email but it’s a dead end.)

In the second episode, Bree travels to Boston and California to meet several other siblings. And we learn that many of them have already met each other and their parents have kept in touch with each other over the years. Not something I knew was possible with anonymous sperm banks. In a sense, I think Bree realises she’s missed out a bit by her mothers never being curious about the idea of other people out there related to Bree and that maybe she would have liked to have had some siblings or at least know of them. Some of them take a visit to the Cryo Bank where they learn that they can write letters, when they are 18, to the donor and the bank will pass them along. He may choose to ignore the letters entirely or may communicate back to the bank. Several of her siblings are 18 and so write letters. Afterwards, she learns her half brother Julian had written his own letter more than 8 months ago and had no reply, and she feels a little disappointed. It seems that the donor wishes to remain anonymous. She then recruits one of her other half brothers to help her further in her quest.

There were some really crunchy discussions in the first two episodes – Bree has lesbian mothers who have since split, one family is a single mother, one is where the father was infertile, and another where the father was originally infertile but later on was able to father a child so those two siblings are half siblings and thus related the same was as the donor sperm kid to Bree. And these bring up such interesting discussions about how the men feel. So interesting to see how open and inclusive all the parents seem to be, both with welcoming Bree in to their fold and also with how comfortable the other half siblings feel in some of the other homes. And what constitutes being a parent.

Not all the kids feel the same way either – some want to meet their father, some just want to know who is and some still have no connection at all and want nothing to do with it. Julian, who himself had already gone on an expedition to find this guy, argued that it was immoral for Bree to try and find him – that the conditions that these men donated sperm under was that it was anonymous and that it’s not ok to now try and find them. Bree doesn’t see it that way – it seems incomprehensible to her that someone would donate sperm to create people and then never ever think about it again or never want to know who they are (I wonder how anyone would feel if 16 people suddenly showed up and said, “hi we’re your children”. So many interesting sides to the situation. I’m assuming that they find him because it doesn’t make an interesting arc if not. Though watching Bree be awkward and yet feel kinship with basically strangers is fascinating.



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March 25   Phd Data Mining

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I officially finish maternity at the end of this month ie next Tuesday. Can you believe that’s been six months already? I can’t! Except, almost 5 month old baby tries to say differently :)

I’ve been trying to do a regular catch up day of study with Amanda and some weeks I’ve done better at that (either in the actually meeting up or in the getting significant work done) than others. I figured a really easy place to start researching – easy in terms of being able to pick up and put down bite size pieces – was with the data collection. I’ve done a reasonably thorough scramble around our house to find all the Aussie SF (short fiction) we have as a starting point. At the moment, my sample set is going to be Aussie SF because it seems more doable and I’m probably going to be able to better, and more completely, source all the texts. And my thinking was, just work through the piles of mags, collections and anthols that we’ve got in the house as a starting point.

The problem of course is, I’m not yet sure what and how I want to crunch data so I don’t quite know what and how to capture information. I don’t want to have to come back and get something else from all these titles later. And the way I collect all this data now is likely to affect what I can do with it later. It’s very circular. The other issue is, because I can only pick up and put down small bite size pieces, I never really get the chance to sit and think long and hard about it. Other than the thinking I did for the general objectives and broad methodology I outlined in my candidacy proposal. So this means that every time I do sit down to work, I get distracted by possible tangents to veer off on or rabbit holes to dive into. Though probably that would be the case even if I was sitting in an office on campus in silence for hours at a time too.

Yesterday I sat down and managed to work on some old ASIMs. I’m looking at the gender breakdown of publications in SF in Australia, basically. Originally I was just looking at the fiction. Though I had also planned to look at other methods of performance evaluation ie years best round ups (both the fiction chosen and the way the editors view the year in their editorial round ups) and then also the various awards. These two will likely be more general SF rather than Aus SF in isolation (again because the sample set seems more doable). But along the way I realised that I will also need to look at other features in magazines such as the interviews (who conducts them and who do they interview) and also the reviews (again, who reviews whom).

I’m interested in the way we rewrite and reframe the scene – women have always written SF and yet they mostly have also been written out of (or their roles downplayed in) the history. How does that happen? Looking at the books that get attention, the authors who are spoken about, held up as the finest or the core or the genre shapers of our field may give some hint to that. These are the authors we remember and these are the ones that become easy for everyone to then pull out if they suddenly need a list (try it in your head and then see how many women are on those lists). And I realised today, that along with looking at editorials for gender breakdown of who is most discussed or held in esteem, I also need to do the same within interviews and reviews, if necessary. It’s quite fascinating, and well, then quite angry making followed by downright depressing. But not anything we didn’t know or haven’t discussed before. All I’m doing is collecting the data to make the pretty pie charts later.

I like to play games with it like, will the one woman mentioned be Ursula le Guin? And now I’ve got a list of Australian male writers too. I don’t have a sample set big enough yet for that one but I might have some breakdown on who those authors are at some point. My guess is that the Aussie women will be Sussex, Love and Lanagan but we shall see.

 

 



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In which we announce the 2013 Galactic Suburbia for activism and/or communication that advances the feminist conversation in the field of speculative fiction.

 [If you want to listen unspoilt to the episode discussing shortlist and winners of the GS Award, listen Noooooow without reading the rest of the show notes. Don't even glance at them! Move along, nothing to see here] 
Culture Consumed:
Alex: Shadow Unit! Haven ep 1!
Alisa: Fringe, Haven S1, Game of Thrones S1 and S2, Veronica Mars Movie
Tansy: The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin; Dark Eyes 2 (Big Finish); Veronica Mars Movie
Shout out for Night Terrace.Cranky Ladies of History funded!
Galactic Suburbia Award!! for activism and/or communication that advances the feminist conversation in the field of speculative fiction
  Malinda Lo’s continuing statistics gathering on LGBT YA books
  Foz Meadows for her blogging generally, but particularly “Old Men Yelling at Clouds.”
  Anita Sarkeesian – Tropes vs Women in Video Games (Damsel in Distress 1 & 2, Ms Male Character)
  Kameron Hurley, ‘We Have Always Fought’: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative,” at A Dribble of Ink.
  The Doubleclicks – Nothing to Prove music video
  Cheryl Morgan – The Rise & Fall of Grimpink
  Deb Stanish for her essay in Apex magazine: “Fangirl isn’t a Dirty Word.”
Honorary shortlistee (the Julia Gillard Award):Wendy Davis for her amazing filibuster
Joint Winners this Year!!! (drum roll please)
  NK Jemisin for her GoH speech from Continuum (link)
  Elise Matthesen for her essay “How to Report Sexual Harassment at cons” (link)
Also discussed:“Not Now, Not Ever” (Gillard Misogyny Speech) by Australian Voices
Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!


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March 23   Crafterly Update

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I’ve been posting these blocks of my current quilting project on Facebook as I finish them but here they are all in one place. These are the individual blocks of the month from 2013 Jinny Beyer block of the month quilt – Solstice. C bought me the kit for my birthday last year and I was so hoping to work on just one block a month as they got emailed out to me. It seemed like such a reasonable goal. Unfortunately, I got carpal tunnel with the pregnancy and ended up not being able to sew at all for most of my confinement. This was very devastating – being cooped up at home with time on your hands and being expected to loll about on the couch watching TV and NOT being able to craft!

The other obstacle with this project which I now know I should have tackled differently is that at the very beginning of the project, before the first block, Jinny sent out the in between block pattern which is a basic log cabin with a fussy cut internal square. You have to make 12 of them and the instructions suggested making them up whilst you wait for the first block. I took that to me, finish these before you make the star blocks. And that would have been well and good had I been machine sewing and not hand sewing because 12 log cabin is actually more than 1 month of hand sewing. And it took me a long time to let go of finishing these before starting the project. (I’m still sewing these damn log cabins!). But I’m very proud of myself for wading in and attempting this project. Yes I made mistakes on the fussy cutting but making mistakes and having a quilt is much better than never starting for fear of failing, I ended up buying some extra fabric for the fussy cutting and now I can cut away with error room to spare.

Block 1

Block 3

Block 4

Block 5

Block 6

Block 7

Here’s a close up of the fabric that is being fussy cut for the details in the stars (colour not quite this purple in real life)

And the fussy cutting – cutting out exactly the same diamonds etc across the fabric to produce the extra patterns when sewn together. I’m thoroughly enjoying this process. It requires precision and exactness but the payoff is amazing. I’m hoping to do this by myself in other projects when I’m finished this one.

And!!! Because the socks in 2014 project plods along, here is Sock Pair # 2!!! A gift, so clearly not my size!

These are made from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, Rocking Sock Yarn, with a Mille End in mediumweight. I’m not sure I’ve knit in medium weight of theirs before and I was surprised by how much leftover yarn I had even with making these socks in a few sizes bigger than mine. I love this colourway so the baby is getting a pair of socks from the leftovers!



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When you’re home all day every day, it’s inevitable that every so often you will get someone door knocking to sell you something you don’t want. Yesterday, a very nice young woman knocked on my door and tried to sell me roller shutters. “Not just roller shutters,” she said when I quite clearly articulated I was not interested, “but to be a display home.” Long time readers/followers of me on social media might remember last year some time when we got a similar offer, by the same parent company, for solar panels right before the election and the end of subsidies/and increases in our state electricity for a bunch of other reasons. My husband researched this company after our interactions and found the deal not quite as good, shall we say?, as they claimed. In fact it was a total hustle.

Now, normally, I feel a need to be polite and I let solicitors go through their full spiel before I say I’m not interested. And you won’t be surprised if I tell you that this allows a lot of them to push me into things I actually didn’t want. My husband likes to remember the time I changed internet providers when they weren’t even offering the promised ADSL2 down my street as claimed in the upsell. Or the time on our honeymoon when I okayed a not-actual-taxi-driver to give us a lift from the airport even though I felt bad and wrong about it and there were signs saying not to. It’s not that I’m stupid or that I fall for the scam, it’s that I feel rude saying no. I feel obliged to engage when sales people cat call to me in shopping centres or in malls. I participate in annoying phone surveys even when I don’t have time and am in the middle of my dinner.

I’ve noticed, though, that my husband, who is actually very polite, has no such reservations about such things. He investigated the solar panel business quite thoroughly after deciding on the spot that he wouldn’t be pushed into a deal that was only available whilst the salesperson was at our house. He headed off at the pass the non-taxi-driver at the airport business. And the other day, when a survey person asked to speak to the oldest male in our house for a survey, I handed the phone to him and he hung up, without even speaking to the person! He said, “I don’t have time for this,” as he shoved more laundry into the machine.

Lately, I’ve noticed I have a lot less time and a lot less patience. I’m annoyed when people step in my way, ignore me and bash into my pram as I walk keeping to the lefthand side of the footpath. I’m tired and I don’t have time to fill in surveys or competitions or whatever it is someone is selling that I don’t want. And I’m sick of every charity in the state calling me exactly when my baby is finally asleep for her midmorning nap asking me for money. I found myself telling the door knocker yesterday that we weren’t interested in dealing with her company. Shocked, she pushed to ask why – when I’m fully reformed, I will just shut the door afterf saying I’m not interested – I told her that her company rips people off.

It’s not that I’m not a giving person. I donate money all the time to charities that I seek out to support. And when I want to change phone plans, as an educated female adult, I realise I want to and do my research before making my own decisions about what plans I want from what phone company. But lately I’ve realised that I want to be left alone, not seen as a constant stupid buyer to be sold crap I don’t want. And I want to choose who I let into my personal space.

I’ve had to start to unlearn something in order to be able to do this – that I’m not a bad person for not doing or going along with what someone else wants me to do.

I’ve been doing some reading on how to raise your children to protect themselves from harm – to learn how to establish their own boundaries and that what is private is private and not for anyone else to take or touch or use etc. This is also what I was taught as  a child about sexual predators/stranger danger. It didn’t, by the way, stop me from having my boundaries violated. And I think that’s because of this other thing that we teach girls, in all kinds of ways, that to be a polite and nice girl, you must go along with what other people want you to do.

Ignoring people in high school (or later in life on the bus or train or in a line at a nightclub) – bullies, annoying boys, girls being bitchy – didn’t make them go away. It made them angrier and meaner. And they made it about you being rude for ignoring them. Once, when I was standing with a group of girls at a school camp, a male teacher wanted us to move and do something he wanted us to do but noone in my group moved. So he came up behind me, grabbed me to lift me (and touched my breasts in the process) and shoved me to make me do what he wanted me to do. When a person in authority does that to a teenage girl, they are teaching you that you don’t even get the right to choose to defy them. He taught me that I don’t get to determine my personal boundaries. I don’t get to decide who could and could not touch me. He taught me that someone bigger and angrier than me can make me do what he wants me to do, even if I try and stand my ground. It’s pure biology, isn’t that what they say? Isn’t that why patriarchy?

In all kinds of ways, in all kinds of roles, I’ve been groomed to be polite – that’s what nice, good girls are. So when someone in a public space puts their hand out to shake mine in greeting, I can not just walk past them. Even when they are quite clearly selling me something I don’t want. Last year, I was pregnant and walking from the supermarket with a bunch of flowers and one such salesperson called out to me flirtily, “Oh are they for me?” I’m sure I said something witty back to diffuse the situation but it made me angry. Of course they weren’t for him and he was only trying to engage me to sell me something. At the time, I wished so hard that I could have walked past and not replied. I didn’t invite conversation with him, why should I feel obliged to be in one? Why should I feel *obliged* to diffuse it? Last week, some sales guy stretched his  hand out to shake my hand and called, “Hi Mummy!” – ew! I’m not your mummy!

A few years ago, a friend of mine made me feel uncomfortable and I pulled back from interacting with them. Instead of having a conversation with me about it, they spent about 2 years making digs. As though they could make me feel bad enough that they felt bad and I would acquiesce and put myself back into a situation that I was clearly giving signals about not being comfortable being in. When people do that, they are telling you that you don’t get to make decisions about your boundaries. They also like to pretend that they didn’t know that that was harassment … And many many many men I have known in my life, men most people think are good and nice men,  have pushed and bullied and wheedled and cajoled to move those boundaries in all kinds of ways. I have been in more situations where I feel uncomfortable and thus hate myself for being pushed into being in than I care to recall. And it’s because I feel bad telling someone something that they don’t want to hear. Being honest when it involves telling them no. That I don’t like them.  Because actually, good girls don’t say no. They don’t make waves. They don’t make trouble. They aren’t difficult. Or impolite. They liked everyone. They play by the rules, even if the rules get to bent for other people. They don’t make you feel bad about whatever it is that you are doing.

Screw that. I’m angry that I found it weird when I met my husband and he would ask me to define my boundaries. When he would ask me what it is that *I* wanted – for all kinds of things from what movie to see, to what restaurant I wanted to go to, whatever. I found it *difficult* to make decisions like that without knowing what “the right answer” was. With the right person, there is no “right answer”, there’s only, “your answer.”

I don’t want my daughter to think that being polite and a good girl means doing what other people want her to do. Or not telling them what they don’t want to hear. I want my daughter to choose any and all of her personal boundaries – physical, emotional, financial and intellectual. I want her to know that for “no to mean no” – to *really* mean no – it can’t just be about situations where a stranger jumps out at you in a dark alleyway at midnight, it has to mean no all the time. It has to be ok to say that you don’t want to move when someone (even in authority) tells you to, or that you don’t want to hear about a product you don’t want to buy or be friends with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable or bad or stupid. It has to be ok, polite even, to say no when you feel like saying it. In all situations.

So I’m working on this. Model the behaviour you want to teach, right? Right now, I’ve got it to when people shout out greetings at me in the shops ,I smile and say “Hi, but I’m not stopping.” I’m going to keep working on this so that I’m ok with walking past without even acknowledging them and not feeling bad about it. Baby steps.





March 17   Haven Season 1

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I’m rewatching Haven after seeing the finale for Season 3. A lot of information was imparted in the final episodes and I’m interested to see who knew what and how they reacted given I now know a lot more about what they knew (and also, seeing whether the writers were making a lot of this up on the run.) I keep thinking that if you liked Bad Power by Deborah Biancotti, you’d like Haven. But then, we claimed the reverse of that on the back cover :)

In episode 1 we meet Audrey Parker, an FBI agent who perhaps is a bit out there in her investigation methodology. Her boss sends her to Haven, Maine to bring back an escaped convict. As we get a bit of a view of Haven on Audrey’s drive into town, I realise how much I have fallen in love with Maine, and mostly due to Stephen King. Since a lot of the town and coastal shots throughout the show are the same few, it’s obvious it’s not filmed in Maine. But I still think one of those gorgeous red brick farmhouses nestled sleepily into the rocky shoreline, with the windy sea air is just begging to be rented for a year long writing project. As long as they have internet, I can run my press from anywhere, right? Course, not in Haven. Somewhere less … troubled.

Agent Parker’s convict is found dead the day she arrives, in somewhat mysterious circumstances. And she encounters some other oddities – a crack in the road appears as she’s driving which causes her to have a dangerous accident, a local cop with whom she instantly establishes witty rapport can’t feel pain and an odd fog envelops them – that have her hanging around a bit longer than she expected. Agent Parker solves the episode mystery but it raises more questions than answers.

A random highlight is meeting Duke – “The guy’s not all bad,” she tells cop Nathan, “he saved my life and then he served me coffee.” And it should be pointed out, he made plunger coffee! Can’t be all bad at all. And he laundered her clothes. But … replacing her phone was just weird.

SPOILERS (from up to Season 3) BELOW:

So, now onto the broader picture. We’re left wondering just what is happening in Haven – a town with full translated name is “Haven for God’s Orphans”. I always remembered it as Audrey Parker coming to Haven having seen the picture in the paper with the woman who looks like her mother. But no, Vince and Dave totally plot to keep her there by planting the question in her head by handing her the photo of her the day the Colorado Kid goes missing/is killed. And they pointedly mention it was  “27 years ago”. They  know she appears every 27 years and they know that means the Troubles are back. You can see them, rather than rattled by her appearance, eager to pick up where Lucy left off. They ,issed their friend, and are eager to play again.

The Chief knows who Audrey is too. And I think he’s sort of amused that she’s back as an FBI Agent this time.

Agent Howard is all creepy with watching her from afar and calling, presumably the Chief … but maybe Vince? and saying, “She’s staying, maybe she can help you with your troubles.”

Questions. Howard arrives at Audrey’s place to kinda kick it all off. But where did she, and he, come from? Presumably they came out of the Barn. So why does Haven manage to manifest them both so far away from the town? That’s kinda odd considering the Troubles always seem implied to be a Haven only thing (even though it could be a haven *for* the troubled since people obviously come to Haven via the underground railway of Vince’s.)



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Veronica_MarsLast night we watched the long awaited, Veronica Mars movie. For those who have no idea what the what, Veronica Mars was a three seasons long show on the old WB Network that came just after shows like Dawsons Creek, Buffy, Roswell etc and was a noir detective show with Veronica Mars as the teen private eye protagonist. I know! Right?! And yet it got cancelled after just 3 seasons.

Veronica Mars was a popular kid in Neptune, California and hung out with the rich kids until her best friend is murdered. After that, her life went to hell – her mother left, her father got fired as the local sheriff and she was kicked out of the popular crowd but not before her drink gets spiked and she is raped whilst unconscious at one of those rich kid parties she used to enjoy so much. So we enter the pilot episode. Veronica is now an outsider, loner at school and working in her dad’s private detective agency (Mars Investigations) in her spare time, determined to solve the murder of her best friend.

Veronica is smart and strong. She always has a come back. She always has a plan. And she always manages to wangle the situation to get her way. Despite – or perhaps because of – what’s happened to her, she has a very pragmatic, cynical view of the world and people. She could get depressed about all she’s lost of her old life but instead she uses what she has left (mostly her smart mouth and resourcefulness) to look out for herself. Technically she might be morally dubious but usually it’s in the scheme of helping someone out or exposing someone else’s corruption and that makes it ok, right?

Veronica Mars was a show with a strong female lead that was something other than a pair of angry trousers (Tansy’s TM). Her superpower is that she’s smart, inventive, resourceful and sure of herself. And a woman being the detective, instead of the broad? SO FREAKING COOL.

The first season was all about solving Lily Cain’s murder. And that had us worried that maybe the show would fall over in season 2. But that didn’t happen. It was still awesome. And so was season 3. And then there was the rumour that there might be a spinoff sequel where Veronica joins the FBI. I saw some little clips of her finishing up at Quantico. But then nothing. And there were rumours off an on about how there could be a movie. And this show was so awesome! Every now and then Kristen Bell would rally the Marshmallows and encourage them to lobby Warner Bros. She would do a movie if given the chance. And then last year at first I thought it was just a hoax, but there it was – a Kickstarter to raise the funds from fans of the show to make this movie already! And within 24 hours they’d reached the first million. But alas, they were only allowing US fans to fund it! Eventually they managed to negotiate the rights with Warner to let the rest of the world play and records were broken with the amount raised and the number of backers. And they made the movie.

March 14 was delivery day and (after wayyyyyy too many backer updates) there in my inbox was the download code to download VERONICA MARS!

I didn’t want to just download that and watch it on my laptop late at night by myself. So I invited some friends over, we borrowed a projector and screen and we had a small cinema in our house to watch it!

AND IT WAS AWESOME!

And it has IRA GLASS (from This American Life) in it as well.

Anyway. It’s 10 years after high school, Veronica is a lawyer interviewing for her first job out of college in NYC and she’s happy. She comes home to help a friend out, investigate a murder and attend her high school reunion. It’s Veronica at her best! And Neptune still at its worst.

I was so worried that after everything, the movie would suck. Or that it wouldn’t be everything I was hoping it would be. Or that it would be 90 minute movie with a straight, obvious plot and then the end. But it was so much more. And I don’t mind one bit that they’ve written it with ways to launch off another series or movie. I’m a fan, I want more.

As things go, it was really interesting to see crowdfunding used to finance what should have been a Hollywood movie. And I think they did amazing with the budget that they had. It’s an interesting idea, perhaps a gamechanger, on the way movies might be funded in the future. You either need 1 person or entity to sink a huge investment into your project or nearly 95000 people with just a bit of cash each. But now, even though the movie happened, it could still be considered a flop because – 95000 fans willing to pay for the movie they wanted is still a small crowd when you consider success by the box office numbers. I’m fascinated by this and in seeing what will happen next. I’ve already preordered the first novel which apparently picks up at the end of this movie but won’t get in the way of a second one …

 



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The thing I love, and need to keep revisiting, with GTD is that if you’re on a flow, you stay with the flow and you don’t need GTD. GTD is there for when you fall off the horse, when you’re stuck or blocked and when you’re procrastinating. I’ve been in a slow panic for a couple of weeks with regards to, well, everything. Time management, household chores, running the press, getting my PhD up and going, a bunch of big commitments I signed up for this year. You name it, I think it’s currently out of control. And when completely overwhelmed, I tend to ignore and hide. And, you know, generally make it worse.

I’m still fascinated by how you can be in a rut for days and days and weeks (and months sometimes) and then one day you just wake up and feel differently. Suddenly tackling the big scary pile of whatever it is you’ve been avoiding feels like the only thing you want to do that day. Or getting stuck into solving some problem that seemed insurmountable every other time you vaguely thought about it feels easy. I need to remember, to remind myself, that it’s all ebbs and flows, ups and downs, and that just because I feel a particular way about something doesn’t mean I will always feel that way about it. Just because something seems hard now, doesn’t mean it won’t be easier later.

This year I’m working on putting out into the world what I want to see in the world. No matter what the world throws back. And I’m also working on stepping back from emotion. Not ignoring or denying how I feel about things but stepping back to observe them. I came upon the realisation that the meditation I’ve done in yoga of observing thoughts and feelings as leaves floating past you is the same as the idea of the seated self, that part of you that is immovable and apart from fleeting thoughts and feelings. And when you become in tune with that part of yourself, you can (sometimes) step back when you feel something, and let it pass by you. Not so that you don’t feel anger/hurt/jealousy/pettiness etc but rather that you name it and let it pass you by and then you react.

And what does that have to do with GTD? I forgot that Next Actions don’t have to be the Final Action. That you can work on things and take them to temporary done and come back later to finish them. And that sometimes that’s more progress than waiting to do it perfectly the first time. I had a dire situation in my kitchen that required a massive task of pulling everything out, culling, sorting and cleaning before organising to a better system. Not fixing it was stressing me out. Fixing it was stressing me out. We spent a whole weekend on it, two weekends ago now, and it mostly got done. But you know, not everything fit back in the cupboards. Funny that. But I really want everything to be neat and organised. It makes me happier to actually be in my kitchen and do things. And so I’ve been slowly trying to rejig it all. But I still have a bunch of things that don’t fit. And of course, I can’t move on to the next task until I deal with this one. But it finally occurred to me that since it’s all clean and whatnot, I could out everything back and then reorganise smaller parts that don’t work as they are not yet in the perfect configuration now. That whole, it can be perfect or finished but not both.

I’m slowly trying to climb back on the horse of practicing GTD – I’ve not done a weekly review fora few weeks, I’m struggling to get my email inbox back to zero and my intray empty and I don’t know what many many Next Actions are. But I’m slowly trying to climb back on and that’s more progress than sitting here pretending I don’t even see the horse.



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I’m really pleased to announce the following changes to format delivery at Twelfth Planet Press.

Since I’ve had my baby, I’ve been thinking a lot about convenience and maximising time. I’m often held up or waiting for something or sitting with a baby who needs cuddles or settling or feeding and might not have had a chance to prepare myself adequately. I want the book I’m reading to be within arms reach whether that be the print version that’s by my bed or thrown into my handbag on the way out the door or if I’m stuck on the couch or in a carpark or in a dark room at 3am and only have my laptop or iphone or ipad, I want to be able to continue reading that book. I just don’t have the predictability of habits/lifestyle anymore and all I want is to be able to access the book I’m reading no matter where I am when I get the chance to read a few pages. Otherwise, I just won’t get back to it at all. And these thoughts have prompted me to tweak some things at Twelfth Planet.

As of now, direct from our website, all our ebooks will be delivered with both epub and mobi formats. At the point of purchase download, both links will be provided and customers can choose their preferred format or to download both. (Our Twelve Planet Subscriptions have already been providing subscribers with both.)

In addition, we’ve rolled out our long intended paperback and ebook bundle option. Customers now have the option to buy the ebook version of their print book purchase for just an extra $3. And I’ve tidied up the website so that all formats are now available for each title on the one page. Hurrah!



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March 13   Cafe Round Up!

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My lack of cafe reviews is purely down to being short of time and nothing to do with being short on visits. Here’s a quick round up of a bunch of places I’ve been to recently.

Taste and Graze

I met Terri here for a TPP publicity meeting – she’d told me they boast having “Melbourne coffee” and I was keen to check the claim. The coffee is indeed very good, possibly the best in a 20 minute drive radius from my house and I admit having considered several times heading out there for another cup. The food is excellent – I had eggs on toast. The service became counter service for some reason (wasn’t clear if it was the time of day or a new thing – I’d been there a week or two before that and it was table service). Located on the Mandurah foreshore, the view is lovely (though broken by the main road). However, both times I’ve been there now have been hot days and there is no aircon. My poor baby slowly wilted.

The Merchant on Beaufort

Met my sister for lunch here – I don’t feel it’s the type of place I would feel comfortable sitting and working for hours. That said, it’s got great pram access and I was able to keep the pram next to the table without it feeling in the way. The table service was excellent, very helpful and our waitperson knew exactly what was in every dish (she was quizzed). The coffee was good. And I had the pan fried gnocchi (above). This is where we begin to notice that at the moment, Perth vegetarian option on the menu is most likely to be gnocchi.

The Daily Planet

OK so, I’m completely torn about the Daily Planet – next to Planet Books on Beaufort St. It’s not a very warm place in that the first of the two visits reviewed here, I thought there was no table service at all because all the staff were hipsters and dressed no differently in any way to the customers. And then the second time I visited, not a week later, table service had gone completely and you had to order at the counter. I don’t *necessarily* mind ordering at the counter *except* when you have to wait for the really cool people to stop their inane conversation to pay you attention. And this of course meant that both times, when I’d gone there to work, it was hard work to get a follow up coffee. Or a glass of water. Or a new menu.

But! The Daily Planet has free wifi, nice spaces to sit and spread out and work. AND a really great baby changing facility in the disabled toilet. It’s not even one of those gross fold out from the wall tables but a proper table with lots of space to put your bag down and change a baby in peace. This leads to happy baby and mummy staying for many more hours than she has done elsewhere. Also cool mural on the back wall.

The food is fine. In fact, the breakfast I had the second time and the lunch panini (above) the first time were really delicious. And the coffee is ok to good. I had a piece of cake the first visit which was stale – that was my bad because I should have known and not ordered it. Very rarely do you get not stale cake at cafes. (Sigh – anyone else remember the outstanding cake that Blakes had? When it was the very original Blake’s Blakes?) But there is also no aircon and lots of windows and doors open which makes for a hot cafe on hot days.

Standing Room Only

It’s only fair that I declare that coffee by which I compare everything else. To me, Standing Room Only serve the best coffee in Perth. It’s clearly not everybody’s cup of … coffee … as I could never get anyone else I worked with on board (they tried once or twice). Located in Piccadilly Arcade (which is all pink marble and art deco ness) makes it fun to visit and they’ve now done some changes to the place. I don’t really like them but I think knocking out the storefront window probably eases some of the congestion at peak times. I miss the wood floors that have been replaced with black and white tiles. Standing Room Only is as advertised and is just a takeaway place. They offer three beans each day – their house blend, a single origin and another blend. The latter two get changed daily. When I used to work in the city I didn’t really like the house blend and I’d try one of the other two every day. I guess though if I didn’t like one of the daily specials, I could come back and try something else. The last couple of times I’ve been in the city, I tried first the house blend and then a recommended blend the next time. Whilst the blend was lovely, it wasn’t *as nice* as the house blend and since it’s so rare now for me to get into the city, I’m just having the house blend and being assured of a really good cup of coffee. It’s a deep, rich, intense blend with several layers of flavour. Everything else, to me, tastes hollow. My work mates think that it was too strong. It probably is. Note: a large cup is three shots of coffee.

The Peasant’s Table

My sister and mum took me for breakfast to The Peasant’s Table at The Mezz in Mt Hawthorn for my birthday. The Mezz has been renovated and given a facelift and has a very nice outdoor seating area complete with a kids’ playground that’s easily visible from coffee tables. Unfortunately for us, they don’t do breakfast on Thursdays which is when we went. I had a muffin with coffee, which were both fine, and probably all I wanted anyway. I took this photo of my mum’s cup of tea cause I thought the little bottles of milk were gorgeous. Again, no table service – is this now a thing in Perth? And no cooked breakfasts. But very accessible for the pram and they had a high chair for my niece. I’ve been there before for lunch with my sister (whilst pregnant and they had good vegetarian, pregnant friendly dips and things for a ploughman sort of lunch). I have a feeling this would be a really nice place to hang out in wintery rainy months (here’s hoping we get some of those in Perth again). The bonus here is the parking is good (park on the roof and take the lift down to the ground floor) and you can do a nice food shop with a few specialty stores too.

Wild Poppy

I met Kathryn at Wild Poppy in Fremantle on a Thursday afternoon for a work session. There are lots of little nooks to sit and be in a quiet space as well as comfy couches and places to park a pram and spread a baby out. The coffee was good. And I had a very nice toasted vegetarian mountain bread roll as well as a delicious caramel slice. Bummer was that they closed at 4pm which was just about when we were settling in to work. There were other people in the cafe who had clearly been there settled in for work sessions so it’s worth another look, I guess. Though for the drive, I think probably for me, somewhere north of the river is more feasible (or closer to K’s place) where I can run a few errands or drop into see people.

Circa

Circa deserves a relook even though it didn’t really get a bad review here. We were back here this week and whilst access into it is really bad – I need a friend to help me lift the pram up the three steps and into the restaurant, especially since I watched a table of men sit there and watch me struggle without offering to help – there is space inside for the pram. The staff are very helpful and pleasant – they rearranged the tables so the pram could slot in next to me out of the way and they didn’t mind bringing several pots of hot water to sterilise certain people’s dummies that kept getting spat on the floor. I had the beetroot ravioli this time which was delicious. And the coffee is good.  It’s a very lovely space though the issue with the lack of changing facilities for the baby means I probably wouldn’t bring her with me to work there again.

Cucina

I met up with Naomi in the Perth CBD for lunch at Cucina yesterday. She knew to enter the side entrance which has easy access. I came in the front (from Hay St) and struggled up the two steps – again, people watched but didn’t help. The service was by and large very attentive, helpful and pleasant, except for the drink server who slammed down my lemon, lime and bitters before sauntering off. Not sure what I did to offend. Both vegetarians, we ordered the gnocchi – goat curd, chilli and lemon butter I think. It was very nice. The space was good for leaving two prams next to our table and they offered us two highchairs which was very nice too. And they coped well with a bub dropping toys and rusks from his chair. Naomi discovered there was no real space in the toilets for a nappy change and I’m still trying to figure out how she did it with her bub standing up. She was raving about the souffle which is no longer on the menu though we heard it might be coming back so we might have to go back and try it.

Cafe Vinyl

This one was totally me taking one for the team. I popped past on the way back to my car to grab a cup to test it out entirely for my blog. Cafe Vinyl is down the West End of Hay St (it’s actually very close to where I park my car) and my brother in law used to tell me it’s the best coffee in the city. It is very very good.





March 12   Guest Post

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Feminism, Anger and Silicone Dolls

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by Kirstyn McDermott

I’m cruising a forum for owners and devotees of sex dolls, checking out the For Sale board – one of my habitual research haunts – when I spot it. Someone in Australia is selling their Real Doll. She looks to be in fair to fixable condition and the asking price is only a couple thousand dollars plus shipping. An excellent price, I think, considering these ultra-realistic dolls go for upwards of US$5500 new – plus more than a grand on top to get one out to Australia. And it’s rare to be able to get a second hand doll over here. Their owners tend to hang on to them.

As I scrutinise the photographs, I’m already running numbers in my head. I’d get most of it back when I resold her, right? It’s not like I’m going to do anything that would cause further, ah, injury. I just want to touch her. Hold her. Move her. I’ve been researching these dolls for months, on and off. I know exactly how they’re made, what types of damage can be done to them, how repairs – both amateur and professional – are carried out. I know they’re supposed to be slightly tacky due to the way their silicone skin “sweats” and I know their articulated bodies can be posed in almost any natural position. I’ve seen more photos and amateur videos, in various degrees of graphic intimacy, and watched more documentaries about these dolls than I can count.

In theory, I know a lot. In practice, I know nothing.

How exactly does the silicone feel beneath your fingers? Texture? Softness? Resistance to pressure? What does it smell like? Taste like? How does it feel to handle a doll, to bear the full ungainly weight of her in your arms? These, and other less seemly questions, are the kinds I want answered. Via personal, practical experience if possible – in the name of research, of bringing the necessary verisimilitude to my story, I can justify almost anything – and here is a second hand doll just across the country. So close.

It’s too much money, I tell myself. It’s ridiculous. But if I get most of it back … Hell, if I fix her up a little before selling, I might not even lose a single dollar on the exercise … She has got a very pretty face, even beneath the peeling makeup …

You get your hands on that doll, you know you ain’t even gonna give her back.

The voice in my head is sharp, with a vague American twang. It belongs to Beryl, the lead doll in the novella on which I’m working. Beryl, who is always angry and whose commentary I’ve been hearing in my head a lot lately. It’s something I tend to do when I’m in the middle of a difficult project – and none has been more difficult than The Home for Broken Dolls – carrying characters around with me, viewing the world as they would view it, getting a good sense of their voice.

And if you did go and give her back, if you went and sold her back to them what broke her, now what would that make you?

Beryl is right. I would never re-sell the doll. And I wouldn’t know what else to do with her. This is the path that Jane, my doll-obsessed protagonist, started down and look where that led her. I’m not Jane. I’m not Beryl either. (But they are, both of them, me.) I leave the forum. Wander off instead to explore websites both less and more disturbing. In my head, Beryl is silent. I wonder if she is even angrier that I didn’t make the guy an offer on his doll. That I chose instead to abandon her. And maybe she’s right about that as well.

When I started writing The Home for Broken Dolls, the character of Beryl emerged with speed and furious certainty. Much more so than Jane, or any of the other dolls, who all needed to be coaxed and cajoled. Who needed to be found. Beryl, she found me. She became a near constant presence – not just when I was actively working on the novella, or bogged down in research, but in my daily life. I could be reading an article or news story online, reading a book, watching a movie or TV show, even having a conversation with someone, and her voice would chip in with some barbed comment, an observation full of scorn and fury and no small amount of truth.

I confess that I did try – more than once – to tone her down a little as the story developed. To soften her edges, mix in some vulnerability, add emotional – read feminine – nuance. Because no one likes an angry woman, right? Only male characters are beloved for their righteous, unrelenting fury. (Don’t agree? Provide me, please, with the male equivalent for harridan, or harpy, or shrew. Hell, provide me with one for bitch.) Thankfully, the doll resisted my attempts to reshape her. Even-tempered dialogue sounded wooden; sympathetic gestures and signifiers of fragility rang false. I stopped trying. Beryl remained, until the end, unappeasable and utterly true to herself.

And I loved her for it. I still love her for it.

At one point in the novella, Beryl is asked if she ever gets tired of being angry all the time. “Only always,” the doll replies. “But that’s why I been put here, ain’t it? I get angry, so you don’t gotta.”

I do get angry. A lot. And it makes me so very, very tired. As a woman – even as a woman with the privileges of being white, cis, presenting as straight, educated, financially stable and able-bodied – spend any amount of time online or immersed in the dominant cultural output, and you will likely become angry, frustrated and exhausted. In recent years, I’ve had to learn to pick my battles and my allies, to know when to switch off, turn away and retreat. Otherwise, self-combustion.

But I have come to value anger most highly. Both in myself and, more importantly, in those who are usually scorned for brandishing such a volatile emotion. Those who are called harpies and bitches, those who are deemed to be uppity or loud, those who are ever so helpfully chided to be mindful of their tone in polite conversation. I listen to these voices, even when they are angry, especially when they are angry, and I try to learn from them. Because sometimes when they are angry, it means I don’t gotta be. And I thank them from the bottom of my exhausted heart for that, and hope to return the favour on another day, another front.

Beryl still speaks up in my head from time to time, though not as often as she used to. Part of that is me moving on from the novella to other projects, and the natural fading from view of former central characters that accompanies such a shift. Part of it is the (re)assimilation of her self into my own. (I am not Beryl. But she is me.) My acceptance of her anger and its value, an appreciation of the power it can bring to marginalised voices. I’m still learning how to cultivate my own anger constructively, to know how to wield it and when to set it aside.

But I will never abandon it.

Anger is a feminist and feminine emotion. It doesn’t need its sharp and bloodied edges pared away. It doesn’t need to display a vulnerable underbelly, to show fragile bones between its seething skin. It doesn’t need to speak in modulated tones.

What it needs is to be heard, understood and respected.

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Kirstyn’s Twelve Planet collection Caution: Contains Small Parts is listed on Locus Magazine’s Recommended Reading List and shortlisted for the Aurealis Award for Best Collection. The novella “Home For Broken Dolls” is shortlisted for the Aurealis Award for Best Horror Short Story and on Locus Magazine’s Recommended Reading List.

Caution: Contains Small Parts is available here and on Wizard’s Tower Books, Weightless Books, Amazon and Kobo.

 



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