OK this is my favourite news article of the week – a Womble performer traumatised a nation (well, the six year old portion of the nation) when he accidentally removed his head during a live webfeed. Now, my first reaction was basically that it’s awesome that the Wombles are a THING again for today’s kiddies. As a mother of a six year old myself (who broke my heart with her reaction to finding out about the Santa thing last year)… seriously?
“Parents from around the UK said the ‘damage had already been done’ and that they had been forced to come up with ‘all kinds of explanations’ about why there was a human inside a Womble.”
HOW MANY KINDS OF EXPLANATION ARE THERE?
Elsewhere in the world, Aqueduct Press continue their marvellous blog series of posts about the Best Reading, Listening, Viewing, etc. in 2011. I like especially that the contributors are asked to talk about what they enjoyed, but not limit themselves to work published this calendar year. And I was honoured to be asked to talk about my own favourite things of 2011. I forgot lots of things, of course, but that’s what my own blog is for!
Also, Brit Mandelo of Tor.com blogs about her new reprint anthology, Beyond Binary, which includes a story by MEEEEE as well as a whole bunch of more famous and wonderful writers. Hooray for genderqueer SF being talked about!
Nnedi Okorafor blogs powerfully about her discomfort in discovering, in the wake of her marvellous World Fantasy win for Best Novel, that the trophy depicts the head of a very racist, unpleasant person. Ie. H.P. Lovecraft. Which has led to all kinds of conversations across Twitter and other forums about, you know, what kind of alternative trophy could better represent excellence in fantasy fiction, or the history of fantasy literature. I suspect TRADITION is going to win out on this one, or at least a combination of tradition and resistance to change, which are not entirely the same things, but personally I can think of a whole bunch of other unpleasant heads which could take his place. Like Medusa!
Sarah Rees Brennan continues to point out the horrible double standard we have in our culture when it comes to talking about female fictional characters, as opposed to male characters, and the extra levels of perfection (BUT NOT TOO PERFECT) that fictional women are supposed to attain.
Meanwhile, a chap explains male privilege to other chaps. I always enjoy a good explanation of such things, that can be widely linked to, and makes a postitive contribution to the conversation. A part of me though is always a little bit sad, knowing that women have been patiently (and sometimes less than patiently) explaining things rather a lot longer, and it often seems like the message is more heartily supported and embraced when it comes in a male voice. Sigh.
Speaking of men fighting the feminist fight (and don’t think I’m not grateful, cos I’m busy baking shortbread and wrapping Christmas presents, yo no this is not sarcasm, I am actually too busy being barefoot & domestic to deal with internet feminism right now) Mondy has been talking about the latest Gardner Dozois Best of Science Fiction anthology, and the importance of looking at gender breakdowns. I’m linking to his blog because that’s how I take my internet these days (livejournal, I do not miss you and your nested comments of rage) but apparently there’s a whole lot of something-something going on in the comments of said LJ, which I think is under the name mondyboy. My Christmas present to myself this year is not reading said comments. LIFE IS WONDERFUL AND I AM ON HOLIDAY.
Meanwhile, DC Women Kicking Ass, a fabulous Tumblr, is talking about the failure of mainstream comics to market effectively to women, when they have actual properties women who don’t necessarily hang out in comic shops (WHO KNEW?) might be interested in.
Another of my pet topics, that of gendered toys, made the news this week with the announcement that Hamleys, the iconic toy store in London, is getting rid of its ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ floors. This comes after an ongoing Twitter campaign complaining about them, though they claim it is a coincidence that they made the decision. At a time when the gender divide of toys is getting worse and worse, it’s nice to see such a positive step. Having been raging about Lego excluding girls from their main range of toys for years, I’m now discovering the wonderful world of action figures thanks to Raeli’s action figure obsession. And once again, it turns out, the representation of female characters in comics and superhero movies turns out to be a hell of a lot better than what happens in the toy industry. Damn it.
(after feeling guilty for realising that it didn’t occur to me until recently to buy my Doctor Who fangirl daughter a sonic screwdriver, purely because she’s a girl, I had a revelation this week that I have also never been able to bring myself to buy her a toy oven/kitchen set BECAUSE SHE’S A GIRL, even though she adores such toys when she plays with them elsewhere. She’ll live, I reckon.)
Some baking goodness, because linking is easier than actually baking. My friend Iz who is currently building a Moomin House out of gingerbread sent me a Finnish gingerbread recipe which comes with images and instructions that have been enabling her in this wild endeavour. And elsewhere on the internet, keeping in mind that I have to figure out what kind of Doctor Who birthday cake I am going to produce a certain little girl in January, I found this brilliant design for a Dalek Smash Cake, which can be taken apart to discover the jelly mutant dalek inside.
Finally, my favourite Christmas post of the week is by Neil Gaiman, who talks about his Jewish childhood and the desirability of Christmas trees. As a non-Christian, lapsed pagan who is big on traditions being flexible, the Christmas tree is probably the most powerful image of what the festival means to me, and I love hearing about other people’s emotional attachment to it.
I can’t express enough how awesome it was to have two little girls decorating the tree with us this year, and that Jemima is now old enough to hang decorations without automatically gnawing on the tree branches, or stealing plastic-wrapped candy canes to see how many she can fit in her mouth. Also, that Raeli has now heard my stories behind every collected-while-travelling Christmas decoration so many times that she can recite them herself, and she has her own collection of decorations and stories from daycare, kinder and prep, thanks to the crafty factory that kicks into gear in schools across the country at this time of year.
Did you know that the Wombles were aiming for the Christmas No. 1 single this year in the UK? DID YOU?