The holidays are upon us! Things are getting busier at the store, my parents visited me for some Thanksgiving cheer, and I’ve been singing Christmas carols to myself at work all day. Of course, there’s a different holiday upon us—the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who. I’m trotting off to a Doctor Who party this evening, where I’ll hopefully watch the new special, but I know that festivities will continue well into Thanksgiving with the sheer amount of programming BBC America is offering.
This week, I’ve read The Princess in the Opal Mask and The Queen of Whale Cay. I’m currently reading Bitterblue (princesses staggering under the weight of the crown? More, please!) and I’ve just gotten my hands on the audiobook of A Wrinkle in Time. I do try to listen to audiobooks on my way to and from work, but sometimes I need to listen to “True to Your Heart” on repeat for half an hour to sort through my Sleeping Warrior feels.
I knew very little about sf author Doris Lessing before her passing last week, but this 1988 The Paris Review interview is charming and informative. She pulled a Robert Galbraith long before J. K. Rowling was writing. Here are her thoughts on what a writer is for:
I think a writer’s job is to provoke questions. I like to think that if someone’s read a book of mine, they’ve had—I don’t know what—the literary equivalent of a shower. Something that would start them thinking in a slightly different way perhaps. That’s what I think writers are for. This is what our function is. We spend all our time thinking about how things work, why things happen, which means that we are more sensitive to what’s going on.
Pay It No Mind, a documentary about the life of Marsha P. Johnson, the legendary trans activist who started the Stonewall Riots, is out! I’ve had this on my movies to watch list for so long, and I’ delighted it’s available on Vimeo.
The rumor mill is pretty sure Michael B. Jordan will be playing Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, in the Fantastic Four reboot.
I know the Doctor Who anniversary special was last night, but surely cocktails themed after each Doctor are useful for all occasions?
In bidding goodbye to 30 Rock at the beginning of the year, Anisha Ahuja at Feminspire wonders why sexism is so pervasive in sitcoms:
We have shows like 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation struggling to stay on every season, and shows like Two and a Half Men and Big Bang Theory having no trouble at all. Shows like the latter two, which capitalize on trivializing women and their roles or attempting to put them in “their place,” become the most popular and successful shows on TV. So this poses a grander question: Why does our society enjoy sexism so much? Or, more importantly, why is our supposedly progressing world so opposed to breaking this sexist quo? You might say that it doesn’t matter – it’s just a TV show. But it’s not “just” anything. Everything matters, especially television. Everyone enjoys television, and until that arena of entertainment can employ more ladies and create shows that demonstrate the depths of different types of characters – women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community – our society that is so incredibly susceptible to what’s on that silver screen is going to continue to inherently absorb sexism.
The amazing Anne Helen Petersen reveals the history of Hollywood publicity and how it’s changed in the last century at The Virginia Quarterly Review.
The Open University gives us the history of the English language in ten minutes.
A Tolkien biopic is in the works, courtesy of Fox Searchlight! Oh my gosh, I hope there’s a charming montage of C. S. Lewis bugging him to publish. And copious usage of the nickname “Tollers.”
Crap is a sign of life. New bad stories are a sign that this genre — fan fiction, the genre I adore the most – is alive and well. Bad stories mean new people are trying to write in it, and people are trying to do new things with it, and maybe new people are joining the audience, too. When only the best and most popular are writing in a genre, it’s on its deathbed. (See: Westerns and Louis L’Amour.) I want this genre to be here forever, because I want to read it forever. So I’m happy that teenagers are posting Mary Sue stories to the Archive of Our Own.
Also via ladybusiness: tumblr user missturtle talks about the importance of the Magical Girl genre as one of the few popular narratives centered entirely around the experience of women and girls.
And one last bit of ladybusiness—Renay joined Liz Bourke and sf blogger Stefan Raets to discuss the practice of actively trying to read more books not by straight white guys in an environment and industry that seems to discourage it. Her thoughts on YA are perfect:
“Something I noticed coming up in the comments to the SWM post was the idea that there are a handful of massively successful female authors (mostly big YA names), and this means there is no bias in coverage/success across the field. What do you think?”
I really don’t understand this argument at all. “Hey, you know that marketing category that the adult SF community as a whole derides and loves to mock as empty/vapid—at least when they’re not ignoring it—that’s dominated by women writing about the feelings of young men and women? It PROVES there’s no bias!” Meanwhile, over in SF fandom, a Hugo-nominated fanzine can tag a YA book review with the words “books for chicks”. As if the young women reading these books right now won’t grow up and come to adult SF looking for women’s voices, and not finding them accorded as much respect. SEXISM IS OVER.
Cary Elwes is writing a memoir about The Princess Bride titled, of course, As You Wish.
That sci-fi museum in Washington, D. C., is a-go; it should open sometime in 2017. A preview of the museum is currently being funded on IndieGoGo.
The A.V. Club offers ten episodes of Doctor Who that exhibit the show’s particular strengths over the last fifty years. Eight is missing, but that’s because he’s only ever had the 1996 television movie (not so great) and “The Night of the Doctor” (five minutes long).
When you divorce a food from its place and time, you can ignore global civil unrest and natural disasters (see: Zagat declaring Pinoy cuisine the “next great Asian food trend” this past fall as deadly floods swept through the Philippines), knowing as you do that the world’s cultural products will always find safe harbor in your precious, precious mouth.
Emily Asher-Perrin at Tor.com looks at Neville Longbottom (the real hero of Harry Potter, let us be real) through the lens of generational parallels in the series, comparing and contrasting him against Peter Pettigrew. Wonderful stuff.
While we’re talking Harry Potter, Foodbeast has the details on how to order your very own butterbeer frappuccino at Starbucks.
I am not a traveler, despite being raised by a pack of them, but if I could ensure that I was fast asleep for the lengthy plane ride, I would go to New Zealand and have myself a Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings self-guided tour. This enormous infographic that shows where key scenes from the trilogy were shot would come in handy when planning that.
I celebrate holidays with seasonally appropriate films, but for Thanksgiving, there’s only one choice—Mystery Science Theater 3000. To celebrate their 25th anniversary, creator Joel Hodgson will be streaming an online marathon of the show on Thanksgiving Day. Just how it was back in the day!
Added: Middle-earth Envisioned by Brian J. Robb and Paul Simpson (via TheOneRing.net), The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing (via io9), Being Rita Hayworth by Adrienne L. McLean (via “Scandals of Classic Hollywood”), Stars by Richard Dyer and Paul McDonald (via “Scandals of Classic Hollywood”), Heavenly Bodies by Richard Dyer (via “Scandals of Classic Hollywood”), Down and Dirty Pictures by Peter Biskind (via “Scandals of Classic Hollywood”), The Glamour Factory by Ronald L. Davis (via “Scandals of Classic Hollywood”), Nightwood by Djuna Barnes (via The Queen of Whale Cay), Egyptomania by Bob Brier (via work)