What's with all the "Fiction must reflect the horrors of reality" snobbery lately?

Charle Stross just posted a polemic on why he hates <a href'"http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2010/10/the-hard-edge-of-empire.html#comment-64882">steampunk</a>, most of which seems toreflect the thought that because it is set in the 19th century, it should reflect all the horrors of that time. Tobias Bucknell says basically the <a href="http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2010/10/the-hard-edge-of-empire.html#comment-64882">same thing</a> with an added hate on fantasy thrown in. China Meiville gets the hate on for <a href="http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=7813">Tolkien</a>, again, ostensibly, for not being dismal enough in it's portrayal of the landscape. Hell, JJ Sutherland cronies up with <a href="http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=7813"> this</a> on an NPR blog.

So, what's with all this "Fiction sucks if it's not historically accurate and condemning everything I don't like about the past" nonsense? I mean, sure, most steampunk might glorify some aspects of Victorianism a touch too much. But so what? Did Stross bitch about Neal Stephenson proclaiming the Victorian ethic superior in the Baroque Cycle? Why do people spend so much time hating on fiction that they don't like, instead of moving on to what they do like? Hell, did Charlie Stross even read Boneshaker (which he points out for scientifically inaccurate zombies, for christ's sake)? It's not exactly saying life in 19th Century American was a laugh riot. But that's not what fiction is about. Or at least not what I read fiction for. I want compelling characters, in compelling situations, that hold my attention. If I want history, I'll read a history text. I'm certainly not caring about historical accuracy in a book with ZOMBIES!! Get real.

I guess I'm saying that if Stross and Bucknell and Meiville are so broken up about historical hegemony and imperialism, maybe they should move out fo fiction and go work in Africa with the peace corps. But quit bitching about books that people obviously like just because they aren't what they like.


(no subject)

I just finished 2 books from this year's Hugo list: Boneshaker by Cherie Priest and The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. 
I have to say I liked Boneshaker better, but only just a little bit. And I didn't love either one of them. I had problems with the endings in each and similar problems with character in each...that being that I hated one of the POV characters in each. With a passion. To the point that those chapters detracted from my pleasure in the story.
I hated Zeke in the Boneshaker, and I hated the Jaidee/Kanya pair in The Windup Girl. 
I also felt that the ending was the weakest part of each novel...Boneshaker kind of dribbled off at the end, for me and The Windup Girl...well, lets just say that my sense of justice is offended by The Windup Girl's ending. Kind of like it was by Babe 2: Pig in the CIty. I felt appropriate come uppances were missing and the supposed good that was to come to my favorite character (who was, in fact, the only innocent in the story) was going to be just as bad as all the other options, given who it was being offered by. 
Now, I liked great chunks of both books. The first 22 or 23 chapters of The Windup Girl were some of the most compelling writing I've found in a while. It kept me well gripped. I just wish, in both cases, that the endings had been more satisfying to me. 

I wonder what Samuel Taylor Coleridge would do?

I keep thinking that I should join the Satan School of the Romantic period. Coleridge and Shelley and Byron were all pretty successful writers...And they clearly had slain their internal editors (I mean, c'mon - a 5-Act Play about incest THEN?).

See, that is my actual quest. I have a bunch of half-written stories and articles and screenplays and I can't seem to finish them because my editor destroys them before I can reach the end. I've tried writing late at night. I've tried writing in the morning...I'm just wondering if I need to try opium?
Or absynthe, at least (although, I don't think absynthe would work - I hate anise and I don't particularly have any greater control over my editor when drunk than when sober).  

Linus is mad at me

My basset-beagle mix is mad at me right now. He hates his allergy shots and I had to stick him 3 times today to give him his shot because he kept pulling away from the needle.

Yes, my dog is getting allergy shots. We are hoping that the shot course will ease the way he breaks out and gets staph infections all the time. He's mostly allergic to mold. And we have a basement in the house, so there is going to be mold of one sort or another.

The funny thing? Well, Linus is allergic to cats.

My musical obsession

I look over my life as a 40 year old and see some tendencies that society, should the know about them, would frown upon...Like my obsession with the music of teenage female performers. Now, let me say that only one of the performers themselves actually offers me anything obsession worthy...the rest seem pretty bland as people. But they are putting out some music that really catches my attention and holds it...which is not what I'm getting from most of the rest of the musical world.

Singers like Avril Lavigne (I could make 1 really really great album from her 3) and groups like The Veronicas are doing innocuous pop, but it's innocuous pop that is fun and bold (for pop) and holds my interest. Add to that the slightly older Sara Bareilles, who IMO should win the Grammy for album of the year this year, as Little Voice was WAY better than anything else put out on a major label, and my musical taste has subverted from old singer/songwriters like James Taylor and Jim Croce to a younger set who has the concerns and desire that I share, even though I'm supposedly to old to really care about such things.

My very latest obsession is Julia Nunes. She's a college student going into her sophmore year who just decided last year that she was going to put out a CD (and she's putting out a second one at the end of this summer)and posts homemade videos of her singing her stuff on You Tube. She is 1) completely cool and I wish I could hang out with her and 2) very talented. While she doesn't always write the best lyrics in the world, she write very strong musical lines and she has some damned fine songs. Some of my favorite songs at the moment. Go watch her: http://www.youtube.com/user/jaaaaaaa. I have to say that one of the most endearing things about her is the joy that she gets from people enjoying what she is doing. She is genuinely floored that people actually like her stuff and deeply appreciative. Most artists I'm seeing in the world today could take a lesson from that. Buy her album off iTunes. Support her or someone like her. We need more of that.


I've been cooking a lot lately. If I were a good blogger, I'd take pictures and post them, while cooking. I'm not so I didn't. But I have discovered my new favorite coleslaw recipe this summer. It's tangy and tasty and creamy which is everything I like in a coleslaw.

Coleslaw, creamy dressing

1 head green cabbage, finely shredded
1 cup shredded carrot
1 cup of shredded parsnip

Usually this works out to be about 4 or 5 small carrots and 1 large parsnip (that's the sizes I usually find in the grocery store).

3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 shallots minced
2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 teaspoons celery salt
salt and pepper to taste

mix the mayonnaise, sour cream, shallots, sugar, white vinegar, dijon, celery salt, salt, and pepper in a bowl and taste. Add more sugar if necessary.

Mix the cabbage, carrots, and parsnips into the dressing and taste. add more salt and pepper as needed.

This recipe provides about 8-10 servings.

Sticker Shock...

Okay. Fine dining restaurants are expensive. It goes with the territory. However, I was a little shocked to see how much the tasting menu at Spiaggia was after drinks were added. Not that it wasn't good. But $500 for two (including tip), that was a little surprising.

If you've never had a tasting menu (often called a Pri Fixe menu at restaurants that only server tasting menus), it's a series of small portions over 7 to 11 courses.

Tonight we had 8 courses...

1) Buffalo Mozzerella anti-pasti. one with mushroom and fried sage, the other with imported Itallian tomatoes.
2) Savory doughnuts wrapped in proscuitto - one wrapped in San Danielle and the other wrapped in Parma.
3) Poached Dover Sole with some stuff on it.
4) Potato Gnocchi with parmesian
5) Risotto with saffron and marrow
6) Beef with lentils and 100 yr old balsamic vinegar
7) Three cheeses with condiments
8) Lemon Marmeletta

Okay, first let me say that there was nothing bad on this menu. I probably wouldn't eat the fish on a regular basis, but it was okay. The doughnuts were marvelous, and the risotto fantastic. Everything else was good, but I want a meal of just the doughnuts and the risotto. It comes with a level of contentment. However, I could eat more.


Candi had another seizure tonight. It's been 18 months, give or take, since her last one, which is good. And it's about 30 minutes past and she seems alright, if a little tired. But I had kind of hoped that she was done with seizures. They are hard on little dogs and make me feel stressed out, too.