Sep 07 2013

I’m Not In It For the Cookie

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When talking about problematic social stuff, there is a concept that gets thrown at me a lot which, depending on my mood at the time, occasionally really rankles. The first time I was really hit by it was some years ago now, when Drezzer Wolf was revealed to be gay in Suburban Jungle, and someone described him with a heavy sigh as “the obligatory alternate-lifestyle character.”

My own thoughts in response ran along the lines of: “‘Obligatory?’ I’m creating this comic in my own time and paying somebody else to host it– who the heck do you think I’m obliged to? Here’s a crazy thought: maybe Drezzer is gay because that’s what’s right for the character! So sorry you have to put up with a gay wolf in a furry comic, you poor old thing.”

In the years since then, I’ve seen this idea come up again and again, that there’s some kind of “obligation” to do what I consider basic decency, or that I’ll somehow “score points” for expressing an opinion (usually of a feminist or anti-racist variety).

To those who try to undermine my beliefs or opinions this way, I have only this to say: fuck you.

Seriously.

If you disagree with me, well fine, you disagree with me. Nobody agrees on everything. But at least have the common courtesy to work from the assumption that I say what I say because I mean it. There isn’t anyone in the world whose good graces I care about enough to espouse a cause I don’t believe in. I’ve quit jobs and dissolved friendships based on my convictions before and there’s no reason to think I won’t do so again.

Similarly, the other day an author I like awarded me what I assume was a feminist cookie for my comment that I don’t like being called a ‘brony’. I’m pretty sure she meant it in a friendly sort of way, but it still touched on that same nerve. It could be that I come across as looking for approval; I’ve never been very good at guessing how I appear in other people’s eyes. But really, I’m not.

I’m not in it for the cookie; I’m not obliged to anyone (except myself); and I’m not here to score points. If I wanted to fish for approval, there are much easier ways to get it than discussing these sorts of topics.

-The Gneech

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Jan 25 2013

16 Tons (of Stuff In My Nose)

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(To the tune of “16 Tons” by Tennessee Ernie Ford…)

You blow 16 tons of junk out your nose
try to do it discreetly where it doesn’t show
You blow 16 tons, and what happens then?
You get out another tissue and do it again

Sinusitis is a crap malady
you have it every day but get no sympathy
You blow 16 tons out your nose every day
but it ain’t good for nothing, so you throw it away

You blow 16 tons of junk out your nose
try to do it discreetly where it doesn’t show
You blow 16 tons, and what happens then?
You get out another tissue and do it again

If boogers were gold I’d be a rich man
instead crusty dragons fill my garbage can
If I had stock in Kleenex I could pay my own way
‘cos I use at least twelve boxes every day

You blow 16 tons of junk out your nose
try to do it discreetly where it doesn’t show
You blow 16 tons, and what happens then?
You get out another tissue and do it again

Blowing out 16 tons, you’d think I’d lose weight
The Sinusitis Diet man, sure would be great!
When doomsday arrives, I’ll know how it goes:
I’m going to blow the whole world right out through my nose

You blow 16 tons of junk out your nose
try to do it discreetly where it doesn’t show
You blow 16 tons, and what happens then?
You get out another tissue…
…and you do it again!

-The Gneech

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Nov 06 2012

Election 2012

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Warning: Politics! Which should be obvious.

Obama 2012I voted! Huzzah. :) Since it’ll hardly come as a surprise to anyone who follows my LJ or Twitter feed, I’ll go ahead and put up a sign, even. It’s nice to be voting to re-elect a President I actually like, that’s never happened before… but my decision was made before the republican candidate had even been decided. This time around there was not a single candidate in that ring I’d want anywhere near the White House, and several that would have been just plain disastrous.

For what it’s worth, if Obama isn’t re-elected, it won’t be so bad. We survived Bush the Younger, whom I can’t even really talk about with Godwinning all over the place, so I’m confident we’d survive Romney who, as bad a choice as he is, is no Bush. The real problem with Romney isn’t himself, so much as the fact that he’d be sympathetic to all that’s worst in the House of Representatives, instead of checking and balancing them. If we had a less malignant Congress, Romney would be a total non-issue either way. But in this environment? I’d frankly prefer a liberal President if we could get one, but I’ll take a moderate democrat.

(NOTE: If you stand there and say with a straight face that Obama is a liberal, I will point and laugh. He is a very solidly moderate democrat. It’s just the demagoguery of the right that holds that “middle of the road” is “far to the left,” as part of their never-ending crusade to shove the US further to the right whether that’s where the rest of us want to go or not. I have many liberals in my life. Obama is not a liberal. And neither am I, so don’t go there.)

In this election, the real issue for me on a local level is a proposed amendment to the Virginia Constitution that would force eminent domain to be applicable only in the case of public use of lands. In other words, the state would be prevented from snatching land with the express purpose of handing off to private development “for economic growth.”

I am all over this amendment and have a hard time believing this is my state that proposed it! I couldn’t believe it when the SCOTUS ruled that gov’t land-grabs on behalf of corporations was a-ok. I thought you guys were supposed to be a bunch of conservatives who were in favor of restricting gov’t power! Or does that not apply to using gov’t power to hand money over to wealthy developers? Ugh. So damn corrupt.

Keep in mind, I’m no fan of eminent domain for public use either, nor indeed a fan of eminent domain for any use whatsoever. However, government forcing you off your property so it can hand that property off to a private interest who just wants it? No way. Big, big kudos to Virginia for getting this onto the ballot, and even bigger kudos if you manage to get it passed.

Anyhow! That’s enough of that. :) We’ll see how it goes. Meanwhile, have an awesome day, all.

-The Gneech

EDIT: Corrected spelling of “eminent” domain. Stupid homophones. :P

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Jul 27 2012

A Thought On the “Fake Geek Girls” Thing

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Yesterday, John Scalzi posted a righteous smackdown upon those who cry “fake geek girl” and demand proof of geek cred whenever someone engages in geeky behavior while also having the nerve to be female. His smackdownery was in response to a specific editorial written by a guy named Peacock, but also sums up well the feelings a lot of us have had over the past months as more geeky gals have stood up and pushed back against the phenomenon.

As someone who is not a gal but is of the general opinion that gals are awesome, I stood and applauded at this. On reflection this morning, however, I remembered that I have myself encountered, and commented upon, exactly the sort of “fake geek gal” Mr. Peacock was describing. She was at Dragon*Con, some years ago now, sitting at a table adjacent to mine, and well… let me just quote from my LiveJournal entry at the time

Sales were slow on Saturday, so late in the day I crafted a new “BMSIBYF” ["Buy my stuff, I'll be your friend!"-- a running gag of mine at cons] sign out of bristol, tape, and extra cardboard and went back to the campy grin technique. Immediately sales picked up, and by midday Sunday, I’d made lots of new friends. :)

This caught the roving eye of the booth bunny next door. I have only a passing familiarity with the group who was next to us, but like so many of the people at D*C (and even more at Comic-Con) they are an indy comics shop who are Not Dark Horse and Not Image Comics, if you see what I mean. Demons in spandex and leather-trenchcoat vigilantes, that kind of thing. Their table had fairly brisk traffic, but their only product as far as I could make out was a $20 shirt with their company logo on it– not exactly an item calculated to set the congoing public on fire.

Thus, they had a booth bunny, a latter-day Betty Boop who appeared to be in her early twenties, with abs and eyeliner and auburn-in-a-bottle hair, who would take turns sitting on their table and lying on her stomach on their table, batting her eyelids at the people who walked by. Unfortunately for our neighbors, even having a booth bunny was not enough to make a $20 shirt bearing an indy comics label logo an attractive commodity, and sales were suffering. Meanwhile, 85% of the people who came back to our little corner and spotted me smiling happily and holding up my silly little handmade sign, would at least laugh, and a good 50% would then come over to the table and even if they didn’t so much as buy a button, they’d walk away having heard of NeverNever and The Suburban Jungle and remembering me as the “buy my stuff sign guy.” Several people who’d never heard of my work still wanted pictures of me with my sign.

Well, not knowing the booth bunny I can’t really ascribe motives to her, but I got the distinct vibe that she was jealous. At a lull in the proceedings, she sidled over to our table, batted her eyes at me, and cooed, “Could I borrow your sign for a little while?”

Halfway between annoyed and amused, I responded, “Wellll … I dunnoooo…” In the past, I’ve been approached in exactly that same manner by people who then proceeded to punch me in the face and take my lunch money. But she assured me that she only wanted it for ten minutes, so I acquiesced. And, having learned from bitter experience that discipline is paramount in these situations, made an exact note of the time.

So she took the “Buy my stuff! I’ll be your friend!” sign, hiked up her midriff-tied torn-off t-shirt, and started posing with it and telling people, “GOSH, if you buy our SHIRT, I’ll be your FRIEND! What more could you WANT?” [A business partner at the time], being susceptible to booth bunnies and insufficiently clad females in general, took the opportunity to take several pictures of her.

Not a sale.

After eight minutes of the fanboys not noticing the difference between her with the sign and her without it, their continued insistence on not buying the shirt no matter how much they stood around and ogled her, and my answering queries of “You gave her your sign?” with a casual, “Yup … she’s got six minutes left!” she apparently got disgusted and handed it back to me.

“Here,” she said. “I guess I’m just not as cute as you are.”

Now here’s the thing: I’ve been going to Dragon*Con for over ten years. Of the thousands upon thousands of women I’ve met or seen at Dragon*Con, regardless of whether they were supermodel types or not, this gal is the only one I have ever encountered who seemed to actually hold geeks in contempt and only be there with the purpose of being gawked at. (Technically she was there to sell books, as she was the model the artist had used to base his heroine on; I don’t know if she was getting a cut of book sales or what. The gawking was intended to lead to book selling, not actually the desired goal in and of itself.)

So it’s not like “fake geek girls” are exactly a rampant epidemic.

On top of which, and this is the part that gets me, can you blame the gal? By wearing her ridiculous outfit and posing in her ridiculous poses and doing that duckface, she got crowds of hormonal nerd zombies to line up at her table, staring and making Beavis and Butthead noises. If the table had been stocked with a $10 book instead of a $20 shirt, I have no doubt they would have made a killing that day from all the troglodytes going “Uhhh… hot chick… me give money…”

Meanwhile, a perfectly nice and real, genuine, bona fide geek gal artist of my acquaintance who was across the aisle was being roundly ignored by those same troglodytes, because she wasn’t vamping it up but instead sitting there, drawing and smiling quietly at anyone who walked past. If Mr. Peacock feels insulted that “I am supposed to feel honored that a pretty girl is in my presence,” maybe he should be railing at the troglodytes who create that environment rather than the occasional (and frankly rare) woman who tries to capitalize on it.

Y’know, those same troglodytes who do this crap. And this crap.

Those are the real “pox on our culture,” Mr. Peacock.

-The Gneech

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Jun 20 2012

Dear AnthroCon: Can We Do Something (Good) About This, Please?

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So a gal was approached by a creepy guy at AnthroCon; gal chose to be polite and mostly non-confrontational, guy chose to be creepy. Yesterday, gal wrote a blog post about the event, detailing the creepy guy as a warning to other gals who may have been similarly creeped at.

Since then, gal’s post got linked to on 4chan and lulz.net, which apparently mobilized hordes of knuckle-dragging scumsuckers to mock and harass her, effectively bullying her into removing the post and generally creating a “you better keep your mouth shut if you know what’s good for you, girlie” environment. As a result, she’s now gone quiet about it, and creepy guy is still out there, creeping.

This must not stand.

Creepy guy does not appear to have been an AC attendee, but gal was, and we should be protecting our own. Not only in the case of the incident (’cause even the Dorsai, love ‘em, can’t be everywhere at once), but also when she tries to tell everyone what happened and spread the word.

I’m not posting gal’s name here, because if she feels threatened she’s entitled to her anonymity. But we need to create an environment where gal is the one who is safe and protected by the social fabric, and creepy guys are the ones who get shamed and harassed.

More On the Topic…

Victim shaming & blaming (sexual harassment at Anthrocon)

Dragon*Con’s Back Up Project FAQ

Video Blog on a Different (But Sadly the Same) Event

-The Gneech

(Crossposted to the AnthroCon LJ community and my LiveJournal)

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May 29 2012

Let There Be Art! Also, Some Mini-Epiphanies

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So! I’ve been going through some interesting mental gymnastics recently about my creative endeavors, which I will spare you the sordid details of (at least partially because I don’t think think they’re finished and I’m not sure I spotted them all as it is); the net result as of this weekend, however, is that I went out and bought myself a new color printer and a laminator for making artistic stuffery.

I also put together a new price list for the upcoming cons, which ended up being a lot more fun of an activity than I expected. Something about making it, jazzed me up about wanting to do more art, probably at least in part because I tried to pick some of my favorite pieces for putting onto it. Note that I said some of my favorite pieces, not necessarily some of my best pieces.

The reason I say this is because one of the things that’s been getting the way of my creative endeavors lately is the nagging sense that I’m not working on what I “should be” working on. Writing fanfic? I “should be” trying to write a proper novel! Drawing ponies? I “should be” trying to do something more grand or with a broader appeal, etc. And few things kill the joy in art faster than the word “should.”

And without joy, what’s the point of doing art? I mean. Really.

So screw it. I’m going to do the art I want to do, and stop trying to think about what would be “good for my career” or “get a lot of attention” or “broaden my fanbase” or whatever. The goal is to be having fun with it! Anything that adds to fun, is a good thing. Anything that takes away from fun, is doing it wrong.

Bringin’ the Awesome

I also had a little mini-epiphany last night while playing “Draw Something” of all the silly things. I sent a way-more-elaborate-than-it-needed-to-be drawing to another player, who sent back the message “Just a [simple thing] would have been fine.”

I wrote back, “‘Fine’ is fine, but I always try to at least aim for ‘awesome’ if I can!” I meant it as a joke, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. The truth of the matter is, I’m not a particularly good artist– in point of fact, most of the time I’m way out of my depth. But for whatever reason, I keep aiming for awesome, even if I know I’m not likely to hit it. This used to be a constant source of frustration for me, but somehow, lately, it’s become a source of pride and pleasure. I dunno, maybe I’m channeling my inner Soarin?

Whatever it is, I like it. And I want to hold on to it. :)

Finally, Commission Pre-Announcement

It is widely-known, by the ten or eleven people who know such things, that I almost never do commissions. However! As I need to rustle up a few extra bucks to offset the cost of going to BroNYCon, I’m going to open up some commission slots in the next week or so. The reason I’m telling everyone now before I actually do it, is because there will be limited spaces, and in the past I’ve received flak for the way the slots opened and then closed again before people even had a chance to get one.

I don’t expect it to go that way this time– I’m not the celebrity I used to be– but better safe than sorry. So this is the official word: if you’re interested in a commission, keep your eyes open, because they’ll be opening soon.

That’s all for now! Have an awesome day. :)

-The Gneech

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