Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Harbinger… of Style!

I’ve decided to take a break from my ongoing coverage of the coverage of the Game of Thrones coverage for a little retail therapy.

My taste in jewelry tends to skew a little… baroque, but occasionally I find modern pieces that I adore. Right now, I’m loving California-based Harbinger, not only for their apocalyptic name, but for their clean bamboo designs.

I found these double-triangle earrings at last year’s Renegade Crafts Fair. I call them Silverlake-safe because they always make me feel chic, even when I venture out amid the hipsters. (A filthy business, my friends, and not to be entered into lightly.)

Deal: Harbinger is running a Mother’s Day special: Enter “merci” at checkout and get 20% off.

Blog-appropriate aside: I just learned that Harbinger is also a DC Comics superheroine from the 80s… who wears a deeply whack helmet.

Advertisements

5 Comments

Filed under Marvelous items

The Non-Apology Apology

Gina Bellafante still doesn’t get what she should be sorry for. Her reply to women, fantasy fans, and people who are fond of sense, is much less offensive than her original review, but it doesn’t address the giant pile of poop into which she has stepped.

If Game of Thrones is going to succeed it will have to reach an audience outside of George R.R. Martin fans and readers of epic fantasy (we’ll call them swing voters). In her reply, Bellafante basically says, “I’m one of those people and the show didn’t work for me.” Fine. Then break it down as a piece of entertainment, the way you would any other new show, or compare it to other work in the genre.

But the problem isn’t that Bellafante didn’t like the show. The problem is that she didn’t actually review the show. She attacked genre fiction. She made completely goofy claims about what women look for in compelling television and fiction as well. Now she says that she’s sure ladies like fantasy, she just doesn’t know any of them. Well, here’s an idea, given that female fantasy fans and GRRM fans are EVERYWHERE these days, why not talk to a few before you put on your snob hat and start slinging condescension.

And, really, Bellafante isn’t a swing voter. She’s one of those people who registers Independent and then votes the same party every time. GoT’s success depends on people who may not have any love for fantasy but who don’t think it’s beneath them.

I loved the “Song of Ice & Fire” series (of which GoT is the first book) but I also recognize that it isn’t for everyone and that, yes, there are elements in the books (both in terms of structure and content) that warrant debate. The same is true for the first episode of GoT. Fantasy and genre fiction should be viewed with a critical eye– just one unclouded by contempt.

6 Comments

Filed under The Violet Hour

Rattling My Broadsword: My take on Game of Thrones

I’m too scattered to just focus on one thing this morning so we’re going with a tasting menu.

THE PLOT: For those of you who don’t know, HBO’s marketing team successfully whipped me into fangirl frenzy before the GoT premiere on Sunday. Given my feverish state and my love for the books, I didn’t really trust myself to view the first episode with a critical eye. Luckily, I watched with friends who had avoided most of the marketing and who hadn’t read the books. Here’s the breakdown:

It’s pretty. From lighting to costumes, the world is beautifully conceived and designed. (Two possible exceptions: 1. The Dothraki wedding party. Somehow, “tribal” always seems to skew a little too Burning Man for my comfort. 2. The too-gilded-to-be-true Godswood where Ned goes to think deep thoughts and… clean his sword.)

It’s faithful to the spirit and complexity of the books– and therefore, a little confusing. Given the inter-relatedness of the story, I’m surprised that the writers chose to stick to such a linear narrative. I’m not looking for crazy title cards and flash cuts but I wonder if there might have been visual ways to highlight the relationships between the different story lines, even a better use of the gorgeous map from the opening sequence.)

It’s narratively satisfying… mostly. Most first episodes and pilots suffer from “information dump” and GoT is no exception. Still, I think they did a fairly graceful job of establishing so very many plot lines and characters. My fellow watchers seemed most intrigued by the mystery of the White Walkers and I think that might have been a bit more compelling than Bran’s fate at Lannister hands. BUT I just saw the teaser for episode 2 and it looks AMAZING, more action, more emotion. (The overriding emotion of episode 1 seemed to be resignation: Ned and Catelyn to his new position, Jaime to killing, Jon to bastardy, Daenerys to getting shtupped by a giant warlord. Everyone is still playing pretty polite. Not so in episode 2.)

THE POWER: For today’s post, I’d originally planned a scathing response to this obnoxious, condescending, and straight up lazy review from Gina Bellafante of the New York Times. But Doris Egan tackled it so elegantly that I’m just going to link to her here.

I will say that Bellafante posits a lot of truly daffy nonsense including the idea that women don’t have any interest in fantasy or genre fiction and that HBO’s solution to this is to throw in boobies and some rough sex– two things that are apparently staples of chicklit or Oprah or whatever else women supposedly like. (Also, “Winter is coming” is NOT a warning about climate change.)

According to George R.R. Martin, a whole nation of genre fiction loving women has risen up against Gina Bellafante and I am but one more soldier in this geek girl army. I have ladyparts. I write epic fantasy. I loved the existing books in the series (and I’m sure I’ll love the rest should they ever, you know, exist). You know what else I like? Great characters, political intrigue, high stakes plots, and a lush, lavish world that I can get lost in. The copious coochie just lets me know I’m watching HBO.

But since we’re on the subject and given my recent interest in female heroes, how does GoT measure up? Sex and sexual power are big issues in GRRM’s books and sometimes the ways that women use and get used can skew a little ugly. But there are a few remarkable female characters in the series, some to love, some to hate, some warriors, some wives. Their motives can be questionable and they don’t always do right, but the characters are tough, fully drawn, and, yes, often heroic. Given that this is a feudal world dominated by men and their might, the women still do pretty damn well.

THE PALATE CLEANSER: In the past, when favorite books have been turned into films or television, I’ve done my best to avoid them or I’ve approached them with what can best be described as suspicion and resentment. Not so with GoT. Maybe it’s because I knew about the series before I started reading the books. Maybe it’s because HBO clearly devoted so much time, thought, and money to the project. But I think it’s mostly the fact that I read the series as an adult.

I loved these books. They got to me in a way that fiction really hasn’t in a long time. They’ve baffled me, frustrated me, and engaged me. But they didn’t save me. The fantasy and science fiction books of my childhood (Swiftly Tilting Planet, Dune, Dragonlance, and Eyes of the Dragon come to mind) weren’t just entertainment, they were vital escape.

I delight in entering GRRM’s world, but leaving it isn’t a heartbreak to me the way it would have been as kid and I wonder if this is why I’ve been able to anticipate and enjoy the HBO series. I’d be curious to hear from people who read the books when they were younger.

5 Comments

Filed under The Violet Hour

One Flew Over the Coochie’s Nest

I finally saw Sucker Punch last night. After the scathing reviews, I’d planned on skipping it but Alyssa Rosenberg’s defense renewed my interest. Rosenberg contends that, flawed though Sucker Punch may be, Zach Snyder has at least put five brawling female leads squarely at the center of his narrative. She makes a good point and, for all its whacky muddle, I wish Sucker Punch well. But my chief problem with Snyder’s girl gang is that while he has created five female leads, he hasn’t created a single hero. To understand that, you just have to look at the baby dragon. (Spoilers ahead.)

To free herself from a mental institution, Babydoll must battle through a sepia-toned fantasy world to obtain a series of objects. In the second fantasy sequence, her grizzled mentor/coach/commanding officer tells her that she’ll have to enter a castle, kill a baby dragon and obtain a couple of magical crystals from its guts. Babydoll and her cohorts don’t question these orders or even blink a heavily-lashed eye. They battle their way into the castle and Babydoll proceeds to climb on top of a drowsy, docile little baby dragon, lift up its head and slit its throat. When the mama dragon discovers her DEAD CHILD, she becomes understandably enraged and goes after the murderers that have invaded her home. One of said minxy murderers then shoots at her from a plane shouting, “Die you ugly, mother f***r!” These are our heroes?

Heroes don’t kill babies. They don’t sneak up on helpless creatures and murder them in their beds. They question instructions like “Shoot the villagers” or “Kneecap the unicorn.” That’s what makes them heroes instead of just good little soldiers. They find a better way.

OR let’s say there is no better way. Let’s say the hero is faced with a hard choice and must do something cruel or brutal. Then she makes that choice with full knowledge of its implications and she suffers the consequences of that decision.

OR let’s say that our hero is a true antihero, someone for whom killing has become rote, who just does what she has to do to survive. Then we need to see that she’s chosen to reject her humanity, that she knows what she is, and– if it’s that kind of story, a hero’s story– then we have to see her struggle for redemption. None of these things happens in Sucker Punch.

If one of the themes of Sucker Punch is powerlessness then what does it say about a girl who murders a helpless creature without EVER stopping to question the choice? How exactly is Babydoll any different from the thugs who tie her down or put a spike through her head just because someone handed them the right paperwork? In the end, this is why Sucker Punch is so deeply unsatisfying. I’m glad to see female leads. I’m glad to see them doing something other than trying to get married or go to prom or find the perfect baby daddy. But we don’t just need female leads, we need female heroes.

I’ve whined plenty about the new Wonder Woman costume but, in the end, it doesn’t matter if a character is dressed in armor or a sexy schoolgirl uniform. What matters is that the character is fully formed and that she makes conscious choices. She doesn’t just stumble around doing what she’s told.

Rosenberg makes much of the fact that four of the lead characters of Sucker Punch sacrifice themselves for the chance to get just one of their number to freedom. But, with one exception, none of these characters dies fighting. In fact, Babydoll quite literally lies down and takes it. AND in the final scene of the film, the sole survivor doesn’t save herself. Instead, clad in a pretty white dress and docile demeanor, she tremblingly awaits capture and then (whew) accepts rescue from the aforementioned grizzled mentor. She is no less helpless in the world or better equipped to deal with its predators than she was at the beginning of the film.

It’s a long way from “This is Sparta!”

8 Comments

Filed under The Violet Hour

St. Barts in a Bottle

Though the abomination that is Disney’s desecration of Miss Marple has worked me into a bit of a tizzy, I promised a break from the grumping and a return to frivolity. So, this week, I present my favorite bronzer of all time, Revolotion by DuWop. I have tried lots of bronzers (I’ll cover a few more of them as we get closer to summer), but I keep coming back to Revolotion and here’s why:

1. Because it’s a cream and not a powder, it gives you a gorgeous, dewy glow that looks truly natural in any light. It won’t cake up or sink into fine lines and you can layer it without looking harsh.

2. It’s low on glitter. I love sparkle but so many bronzers go overboard (Benefit’s Hoola is a notable exception but can be tricky to apply). I want to look sun-kissed, not like Edward Cullen on a beach day.

3. It looks great on even the very palest skin.

I go through vats of this stuff. It’s great on face and body and can be a nice summer option in place of tinted moisturizer. You can apply it with fingertips or, my preferred method, a flat synthetic kabuki brush. Revolotion comes in Original (my go-to) and Deep (intense but still very natural color).  TIP: Revolotion doesn’t fully set– such is the price we pay for dewiness. So if you use it on your body or decolletage make sure to avoid light-colored clothing or you may end up with transfer.

2 Comments

Filed under Prettification, Products I Love