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hamster
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soleiltropiques
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My book reviews/critique de livres! :-)

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July 17th, 2020

Given the fact that Yahoo/Geocities, in their infinite wisdom (*choke*, *splutter*, *cough*), have elected to delete all free websites from their webhosting service, I am posting the content of my two websites to my livejournal.

Regarding the recommendations pages, please note the following. If we have an email address for an author, we will post it with the thought that feedback is a nice thing for authors and we like to do what we can to encourage it. If however you see your email listed here and would prefer NOT to have us post it, just drop us a line (soleiltropiques@gmail.com) and we'll remove it. Thank you! (Please feel free to drop us a line if you have anything else you would like us to change with regards to a fic you have written. We simply wish to pay tribute to the fanfiction authors mentioned herein and we would certainly not go against anyone's wishes!)
Coucher de Soleil"s fanfic and Fanfic Favorites (formerly Geocities websites) can be found here...Collapse )

March 24th, 2015

Now, thankfully TV doesn't always inspire in me the level of RAGE that the most recent episode of NBC's medical drama, 'The Night Shift' inspired in me last night (March 23rd, 2015, episode titled: 'Don't Shift Where You Eat'). 'Cause otherwise I'd needing serious therapy. (PS: This discussion can be followed even if you have never seen the show -please do weigh if you wish to since this post is more about the portrayal of women in popular culture in general than any one specific show.)

A brief summary of the episode in question is here.

To summarize though, here is a brief summary of the plot point I am referring to.

Essentially, a female intern (i.e. young physician in training) has been 'hooking up' (term used during the episode in question) with a young male nurse. During the episode we are treated to the growing attraction between the aforementioned female intern and a male surgeon who has supervised said female intern on many occasions. As for the young male nurse, he was initially shown to be quite content as a nurse (i.e. rather than wanting to become a physician) yet another (male) character suggests that he seems unhappy and needs to figure out what is bothering him (my read of this scene was that this 'unhappiness' may refer to not having a more committed relationship OR it may refer to his 'only' being a nurse). Someone (male) during the episode asks someone else whether they have ever seen a successful relationship between a MALE nurse and a FEMALE physician. The episode ends with our young male nurse being witness to a passionate kiss between the young woman he has been seeing and the previously mentioned surgeon.

Question: Why did this make me so angry?

The answer: The answer lies in the power dynamics accepted in heterosexual romantic relationships. In other words this episode crystallized something for me which had been niggling at me when I watched other TV shows, namely that partnerships between equals are (sometimes!) popularly accepted, as are partnerships where an imbalance exists but the balance of power lies in the hand of the MAN (always accepted!). Yet to depict a relationship where the imbalance favors the WOMAN seems anathema.

In other words, still think we live in a 'post sexism' world? Why then is it impossible to have a sensitive and realistic portrayal of a relationship between a male nurse and a female intern (or fully-fledged physician, for that matter) on a show like 'The Night Shift'?

Furthermore, why then was it apparently impossible for the producers and writers of Star Trek: Voyager (see also here for more info on this show) to give Captain Kathryn Janeway a long-term relationship (a potential partner who was hinted at early in the show was actually her first (and male) first officer)? Instead, the male first officer was paired with a female character whose hierarchical status was lower than his. "It is very possible that the J/C romance wasn't developed because it made the male producers and writers uncomfortable. At the end of the series, in a move which was essentially the antithesis of fanfic, Chakotay [(i.e. the aforementioned first officer)] is paired with the younger, larger breasted, lower-ranked Seven." (Excerpt is from the article, Somogyi V. Complexity of desire: Janeway/Chakotay Fan Fiction. Journal of American & Comparative Cultures 2002; vol. 25 (issues 3-4): pp.399-404.)

Finally, why are there so many problematic aspects to the relationship between Claire and Jamie Fraser in 'The Outlander' book series written by Diana Gabaldon (and apparently also in the associated Starz television series)? To recap: the relationship starts with a certain power imbalance, partly due to the fact that Claire is slightly older and more experienced than Jamie is about certain aspects of life (in particular, about sex and relationships). Claire is also (at this point anyways) depicted as a very strong woman who knows her own mind. She is also considerably more educated than Jamie (she is in fact a twentieth century nurse in the 1740s!), at the time these two characters marry. In other words, at this point the power imbalance is in Claire's favour. In relatively short order however, Claire 'misbehaves' (such details aren't entirely germane to the discussion at hand, but for those who care, she runs away to try to return to her time but of course cannot explain this to anyone, including her new husband) and is 'punished' by her new husband by being beaten "within an inch of her life" (!!). Days later, Jamie further enforces a changed power dynamic by raping Claire. (For further details on how problematic this show and the books are, go to my previous post here.)

Misogyny forges on.

PS: My use of the expression "'only' a nurse" in the text above uses quotes around the word 'only' because I am referring to the apparent attitude of the characters in show regarding nurses. This in NO WAY reflects my personal feelings towards the wonderful and courageous people who work as nurses all over the world. (NOT an easy job!)

October 23rd, 2014

I admit it, I'm a *huge* fan of the 'Outlander' series which is now in its first season on Starz (airs on Showcase in Canada), LOL.

The TV series is based on the book series written by author Diana Gabaldon, of which I read the first two books or so a few years ago before losing interest. I'll openly admit that I prefer the TV show's take on the material -for some reason I find it more romantic, despite the fact that they're being pretty faithful to the books. Odd of me perhaps, but there it is.

Something that has been niggling at me lately was how the series would handle certain issues.

Issue #1 or domestic violence perpetrated by the so-called 'romantic hero': there is a scene where Jamie BEATS his wife. Quoting from a blog called 'Persephone Magazine' which says it very well:

"When she ditches the Scottish clan she’s hanging out with to get back to the magic stones that worked as a portal, she gets herself and the Scotsmen into some trouble. Jamie Fraser, the new husband she didn’t ask for, and who unfortunately the reader has probably fallen for by that point, decides he has to punish her for this.

Claire says he can’t beat her. Jamie says, “Did I want to break your arm, or feed ye naught but bread and water, or lock ye in a closet for days–and think ye don’t tempt me, either–I could do that…”

You’re swooning, aren’t you? I’ll give you a moment.

She says she’ll scream, he basically says, “Ha, ha, you sure will,” and he reaches for a belt. When Claire accuses him of being a sadist, he thinks that’s funny, too. “I said I would have to punish you. I did not say I wasna going to enjoy it.” This ends with Claire, as she describes it, “Half smothered in the greasy quilts with a knee in my back, being beaten within an inch of my life.”"
(I'd also encourage all and sundry to read the full post at Persephone Magazine, as I heartily agree with their comments on this.)

Surely I can't be the only one who is really disturbed by all this, as well as by the fact that some readers AND NOW SEVERAL VIEWERS AS WELL are defending this.

SAY WHAT???

Issue #2 or rape perpetrated by same so-called 'romantic hero': In a later scene, Jamie RAPES Claire. Yep.

Quoting from another blog:

"Claire and Jaime get into an argument.  Unable to comprehend or accept Claire’s autonomy, Jaime responds with sexual violence, stating that she is his woman and he’ll have her whenever he damn pleases.  And then he rapes her.  Brutally.  As Gabaldon takes you through the graphic rape, I get the feeling that I’m supposed to be turned on.  But instead my feminist insides were raging in a putrid turmoil.  I felt sick.

The next morning the couple wakes up cute and happy.  Apparently it had been some great sex, despite the pain, bleeding, and bruises.  Then Jaime wants to have sex again, and Claire responds “No way, I’m way too sore.”  His response? Too bad. And then he rapes her again.  But he is gentler than usual, so apparently, it’s okay.  And after all this violence and rape, Claire finally realizes that she loves him. So much so that presented with the chance to return to her own time (spoiler alert) she chooses to stay with Jaime, her lover, her protector, and her rapist.  WTF?"  (Again, the full post is here and is definitely worth reading -it discusses how this book/TV series is basically yet another example of rape culture. Here is another discussion of this, also really worth reading.)

I was, until recently, wondering what Starz' take on this problematic material would be. Especially given the fact that Ronal Moore is at the helm of the series and I was a HUGE fan of the recent incarnation of Battlestar Galactica.

Now that I have an answer as to how the TV series will handle this, I'm really rethinking my decision to follow this series. Here is the answer (SPOILERS for episode #9 of the series are ahead), from Ms. Gabaldon herself:

"So, for example, in the book, there’s a scene where Jamie beats Claire, right, in the first Outlander book?

DG: Well, he doesn’t exactly beat her. He’s not punching her in the mouth or throwing her against the wall. He spanks her with his sword belt because she did something incredibly dangerous and nearly got them all killed. This was basically what the Highland justice was like. If you screwed up, you got punished for it, and then you were back in the good graces of the clan. That’s what he’s doing; it’s his duty as her husband basically to correct her, set her on the right path, and mind you, she doesn’t like it because she’s a twentieth-century woman. She’s very affronted that he’s hurting her.

But do you think that will be portrayed in the TV show the same way it was in the book?

DG: I know it will. I’ve seen it."

And Ms. Gabaldon's further comments on people's objections:

"What sort of reaction do you think that that will get from viewers?

DG: There will undoubtedly be a certain amount of knee-jerk feminism from very young women. Anybody over the age of thirty-five will appreciate both the cultural conflict in that scene—it’s one of my favorite scenes, in fact, because each person in it is completely right according to his or her own view of the situation, and yet, in this untenable situation, they aren’t both going to get their way. When push comes to shove, he outweighs her by eighty pounds. Most people, as I say, above a certain age will appreciate it for the inherent ironies and also for the considerable humor in the situation." (This is quoted from here. You can also see parts of the interview here.)

I am just raging right now, about the 'knee-jerk feminism' comment, as well as the fact that she also minimizes what the beating for one thing, by referring to it as a 'spanking'. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm not comfortable with labeling a scene where a woman gets beaten 'within an inch of her life' with a belt in this way, as 'spanking' is a term rather reminiscent of consensual bedplay, for example.

For the record, I am not a 'very young woman'. Neither am I given, I think, to 'knee-jerk feminism'. To wit, the fact that I am going to reserve final judgement until I watch the show's take on this. (I already know that I agree with those commenting on the problematic nature of the books' take on it.)

Anyone else bothered by this? Anyone? (NB: Note my 'quixotic' humor choice below, since evidently with regards to mass media and popular culture thinks this is all A-OK, apparently.)

But what am I talking about, OF COURSE people think this is fine and dandy! 'Fifty Shades of Grey' was the #1 bestselling book of 2012. Silly me!

October 7th, 2014

Want to see someone (a mod, no less) make incomprehensible arguments (which they never took the time to clarify further afterwards, I noted) in response to what I meant as a legitimate comment?

As a side note, apparently the meaning of 'derailing' has gotten pretty large/broad with regards to this group. Because it is apparently derailing to ask a question which directly relates to a post. (The derailing comment was never clarified either, such that I'm starting to wonder whether I was the one derailing the conversation, to be honest.)

But here is the link, so you (i.e. assuming anyone reads this little journal) can make your own mind.

I think I'm starting to realize why ontd_political seems to be going down the tubes lately.

ETA: In a related note, I won't be posting there again. It just isn't worth it if this is the level of response one can expect.

September 19th, 2014

There certainly isn't a dearth of these to choose from.

So far I've done the following:

(1) Kevin Sorbo

(2) Charlize Theron

(3) Mark Wahlberg

(4) music legend James Brown

(5) Eric Clapton

(6) Motley Crue's lead singer Vince Neil

(7) Sean Penn

(8) Donald Trump

See the post here. Yikes.

September 10th, 2014

On being poor

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hamster
As a person with limited financial means (things have REALLY been tight lately, in particular), here are some thoughts.

(1) ALL wages should be indexed to the cost of living (or be subject to regular increase in some other way). Otherwise, you are essentially getting a very gradual yet inexorable downgrade in your wages, which may well impact your standard of living and indeed your ability to live your life.

...Well, perhaps I would exclude the wages of Hollywood sports stars (as well as some others), who can negotiate pay issues quite well on their own, than you very much.

(2) Minimum wage is not only necessary, IT SHOULD ALSO BE INDEXED TO THE COST OF LIVING.

This SHOULD be a no-brainer, yet it seems to be regularly disputed throughout the world.

Go figure.

(3) The services sector is the largest sector of the world's economy. As such (i.e. it represented almots two thirds of the world's GDP in the 1990s), it is UNACCEPTABLE that such a large proportion of lower-rung workers in this sector be paid 'minimum wages' which differ substantially from that accepted as the minimum for everyone else.

This brings me to sub-point 3.1: The concept of TIPPING should either be abolished or tipping (or receiving tips) should be considered an occasional luxury, rather than a portion of an employee's salary.

This, again, should be a no-brainer, yet it is also disputed. (For instance, the province of Quebec, Canada, has a minimum wage of 10.90$/hour yet has a separate minimum wage of 8.90$/hour for employees receiving tips).

(4) Inflation is measured in many countries using the Consumer Price Index or CPI (link is to Canada's version). This index "(...) is obtained by comparing, over time, the cost of a fixed basket of goods and services purchased by consumers. Since the basket contains goods and services of unchanging or equivalent quantity and quality, the index reflects only pure price change".

This index has been criticized (see also here), with good reason, IMHO.

One interesting note is that the prices for certain items have fluctuated more than those for other types of items. For instance, food prices have reportedly far outstripped all other items with regards to price increases/inflation. Another note is that in many cases producers have maintained the same price for a portion size (e.g. a package of cheese) while reducing the actual package size as an alternative price increase tactic. (See for example here.)

The point is that we need a control of prices for essential items such as food and medicine. One reason being that if your salary is indexed to the CPI you could still have difficulty buying food if it increases at a disproportionate rate with regards to other items.

This, again, seems like a no-brainer. Go figure.

More to come soon, because I have a lot of thoughts on this.

September 5th, 2014

Our dog Felix (Félix) passed away yesterday. We got her in 1999 when she was 9 months old, so she was almost 16 years old (a venerable age for a doggie).

We'll miss you, Félix.

6035_600

August 21st, 2014

Here are some examples of some current or former celebrities who showcase the fact that Hollywood is still a 1) white, 2) male, 3) straight, 4) cis, 5) ableist, 6) (I should
probably add Christian here) -dominated and bigoted environment. (The same goes for the music world, clearly, as well as several other places, ugh.)

So far I have deets on Kevin Sorbo, Charlize Theron, Mark Wahlberg, music legend James Brown, Eric Clapton, Motley Crue's lead singer Vince Neil, Sean Penn, and
Donald Trump.

Click to read more if you dare...Collapse )

August 11th, 2014

Someone posted an article with the following headline to ontd_political: 'US analysts conclude MH17 downed by aircraft' ("KUALA LUMPUR: INTELLIGENCE analysts in the United States had already concluded that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by an air-to-air missile, and that the Ukrainian government had had something to do with it.")

Only it was complete bunkum/bullsh*te. It took 3 users a few minutes to debunk the entire article.

Read the so-called article and the debunking here. (PS: The original poster of the article has a history of this stuff -they seem to be either madly pro-Russian or paid to troll the internet to spread disinformation -apparently this is not uncommon all over the internet.)

Enjoy!

May 2nd, 2014

I've been sick

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hamster
Yeah, I've been really sick lately.

I've had a really bad cold all week, and I've got some more heavy duty health issues which I'm trying to deal with at the moment.

Ugh.
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