Archive for July, 2013

fiddler at work

The talented Sunnie Larsen, as seen from the engineer’s desk, recording tracks for the Bone Walker soundtrack album.

The sound is clearer than the photo

If anyone’s curious, the two microphones involved are an Octava 012 (underneath, for lows) and an AKG Perception 200 (overhead), which seems to like Sunnie’s violin.

More SFWAdenfreude: word is that SpecFriction, the site leaking all the SFWA commentary, is getting DMCA takedown notices. Grab screencaps while you can. Also, you may be interested in S. L. Huang’s comprehensive timeline of the SFWA clusterfuck. Finally, Anna links to some juicy sexist criticising-me-is-violating-my-free-speech whinging in her latest post.

I love fireworks season, don’t you?

eta: Mary Robinette Kowal just lets some people absolutely have it. Tasty.

power and supervillainy

Over at Livejournal, Brooke writes about harassment at SF conventions in a long post worth reading, not the least of which being for the observation that men, overwhelmingly, have no idea it’s even going on.

There’ve been a lot of these posts lately; Amy’s post specifically got Brooke going; Scalzi hosted a guest post by Elise Matthesen about how to report harrassment after getting creepered by James Frenkel and a followup post laying down conditions for his attendance (I’d’ve written about that last week if I hadn’t been on the road); and Jim Hines talks about how Mr. Frenkel’s been doing it for years, because people get talked out of formally reporting it.

And there are many more, because a lot of women in fandom have decided that they’ve had enough of this bullshit.

I’ve seen this too, of course. I’ve talked about my adventures with Neckbeard Wondermen who lecture me – errantly – about computers. I’ve certainly had my share of talking-over… attempts. And I’ve had – in the past – the gropers and such.

But I don’t get harassed on the same scale. Not close to it; not in person, which is an important distinction. I’ve intervened between creepers and targets; I’ve got them thrown out of conventions – tho’ I’ve no idea how permanently – and I’ve seen it often. But I’m just a little too scary.

See, here’s the thing: harassment is about power. It’s about dominance, it’s about pushing people perceived as weak around, because you can, and because it’s safe to do so. The societal context tells men it’s okay to go after women in this way – large-scale religions tend to have this as a core value – and the constant barrage becomes wearying, making it easier. A slow grinding, if you will. (See, again, Brooke’s post.)

And all I had to do was become somewhat notorious as a supervillain with a penchant for disproportionate violence and questionable stability to stop it… in person. I have broken peoples’ ribs for pushing the wrong button – no, literally, for pushing the wrong physical button, it’s a funny story, I should tell it sometime.

To paraphrase The Annihilator, once one does that, choosing me as a target doesn’t seem so very safe anymore.

In person.

But get on, say, YouTube, or Google+, where there’s a lot of physical separation? And all those plays pop right back out.

Last year, Shanti and I hosted a series of online Google+ musical hangouts. They weren’t the hangouts-on-air, they were the original type, still in operation, where the attendance is limited to ten and you can’t boot people out. We were taking turns playing and inviting others in; the first couple of times were a lot of fun, and we met some people.

And that’s when the creepers started arriving.

Without fail, after that, when either of us did these, we’d start seeing men who would pop in and masturbate at us on camera. Whether we were both there, whether it was just one of us hosting alone, who else was in the room, none of that mattered. I hosted a session one night where I had four. They’d come in, drop pants, set camera on engorged dicks, and masturbate at us.

And we couldn’t kick them out. The only way to block them was to get everyone in the room to block them, and that was almost impossible – particularly when they’d show up in pairs to prevent it.

See, it’s all about power. The sexual component is power, and – even moreso – in violating your consent. And I can be all the supervillain I want to be, I can be as scary and intimidating in person as I want to be – but that doesn’t help if I don’t know where they are and can’t reach them.

Did we report this? Oh hell to the yes. Over and over again. We begged them for a solution of some sort, a moderated version of the hangout that would let us boot these people.

Google never even responded, not once, no matter how much we reported it. So I started posting about it in public; nothing. And then I took it to Twitter, posting about it several times a day for a while, tagging Google.


So you see, it can be, will be, and is that bad, and the powers that be – whoever they are – will tell you to sit down and shut up, if they even deign to respond.

Even being a supervillain isn’t enough to change that. Mute it, sure. In person. Even people who don’t know the supervillain thing can feel the threat in my body language.

But as soon as they feel like they can’t get hurt? Oh my, yes, the game is back on. The only thing keeping it at bay is the threat.

And if that doesn’t illuminate clearly enough for you what sexual harassment is really about – well, I can only assume you don’t want to know.

This post is part of a collection of articles on sexism and racism in geek culture.

thank you greenwood

Greenwood was super-welcoming and a most excellent first exposure to renfaire. Thanks to every one of you! Eight shows in two days, omg – photos, details, more all over here, in a post made earlier today. Thanks again, Leannan Sidhe, for having me along!

all that swfa fail

Remember all that SFWA fail I kept posting about? White supremacists using the SFWA promotions twitter account, the rampant sexism, all that? The discussions are still ongoing on the SFWA message boards, and, whelp, looks like somebody has decided to leak them via screencaps. This isn’t the best one, I just like it because it’s talking about the importance of voting for the White Supremacist:

Oh my. No wonder Scalzi made a big deal out of the end of his term as SFWA president.

eta2: Welcome, Radish Review readers! You may wish to look at a follow-up post, Power and Supervillainy, about harassment at conventions and online, if you’re following this topic closely. The SFWA Twelve only part of the problem.
eta: Welcome, visitors from James Nicoll‘s LJ and Dreamwidth blogs! Nice to meet you. I’m a musician who is also a long-time F&SF fan; I run nwcMUSIC, the pan-geekmusic programme at Norwescon; and I invite you to poke around the site a bit and listen to my work. Thanks for coming by!

thank you greenwood

Thank you, Greenwood Faire, for the welcome and the fantastic first experience at a renfaire – and thanks also Leannan Sidhe for bringing me onboard for the series! And also to Zinger and Royal Magic for letting us stow equipment and showing such hospitality. And to pirates and supervillains, yet!

Fun. Exhausting, but fun. We ended up doing eight shows, not six, not counting ‘gate sets,’ which are kind of open-mic length. Since I was filling in for so many people that meant four-instrument setup/takedown per show; I got really fast at that by the end of Sunday. So the whole thing is kind of a blur of setup-play-takedown-setup-play-takedown until dark.

That didn’t stop me from staying up late Saturday night with the Tri-Cities Drum Circle, tho’. They have a facebook page but I can’t find it – if you guys come find me, give me the group name again and I’ll link you! Thanks for being so welcoming, playing with you was really cool.

High-drama weather: 3am hour-long thundersquall with continuous lightning and nearly-continuous thunder, all experienced from a tent (which, thankfully, held out the water just fine); a mid-morning reprise the next day, scattering everyone but providing a desperately-needed reprieve from the sun. The heat was pretty brutal late Sunday, but the Faire itself is extremely well situated, in a little cool pocket by the riverside, sheltering us from the worst. It’s a fantastic site for it.

Have some pictures – I have to finish unpacking.

No more than 10 minutes after that morning squall

Jousting ponies at sunset

Ponies! The chestnut in front is pretty friendly. The grey in back, despite appearances, is not an Arabian. I was totally surprised by that; I knew an Arabian who could’ve been his twin, years ago, except the one I knew had slightly more mottled/patterned fur.

Saturday night is the big performer potluck and little groups all get together and play and hang out all over the camp; after the potluck, I found the aforementioned drum circle – which wasn’t, as they say, difficult. 😀

Also that night:

All Hail Roadie Matthew!

And Matthew’s golden backlit hair. Matthew’s golden backlit hair has a posse.

Leannan Sidhe Without Me

Despite best attempts, I wasn’t on every song, and when you’re not playing, you don’t stand there like a dork, you sit off to the side or front, depending. One set, I was out for two songs, and they were back-to-back, so I had time to grab my phone and snap a picture.

Bards of a Feather

Leannan Sidhe (official) gave way to Mickey and Wednesday’s band Bards of a Feather for the final set, appearing only at the end for one song. And they, in turn, let me open for them as Crime and the Forces of Evil, for one song. Shortest opening set evar! It was hilarious. 😀

Return top

The Music