Note to self: Next time, warm up before attempting to play Wii Boxing. Three minutes of carnage, and I’ve been paying for it for three days…

The agony of strained muscles aside–I am so damn out of shape–it’s been a good few days. Went to dinner with Kevin’s family last night, drank quite a lot of wine–his aunt has the Feed People gene, which apparently also has a Get Them Drunk allele–and played drunken Trivial Pursuit, which took my usual form (i.e. I fill up the pie in one or two rounds except for sports. Then I spend the rest of the night not getting sports and eventually lose to someone more well-rounded. My default strategy for sports is to answer everything with "Secretariat."  Someday, this will work.) 

Today I have hot tea, pumpkin pie for breakfast, (decadent, but damnit, it’s the holidays) hot tea, the warm glow of not being at church, and later on brunch with buddies from out of town. It’s pouring rain, but the little birds–mostly tufted titmice and Carolina chickadees, a couple of grumpy little juncos–are still on the feeder. Got some birding time in Thursday. Being a non-cook, I was exiled to the backyard to guard the boiling oil. (Deep frying the turkey is a longstanding southern tradition.) Various parties expressed their alarm at the notion of me being anywhere near five gallons of boiling oil AND open flame, let alone responsible for it, but no one died. Since guarding boiling oil is really rather boring* I got out the binoculars, and spotted a couple varieties of woodpecker, the most exciting being a sapsucker.

And now I should go back to writing…the editor is going to demand the script sooner or later, and it would probably be nice to have something to give them…

*Presumably there are moments when it is All Too Exciting…

I had a dream last night that I was walking across a college campus that was apparently home to the only indigenous population of the Walking Smelt, a small fish that flopped around on its side in shallow puddles its entire life. 

At some point, my friend Deb showed up and informed me that when she wrote my tell-all biography (which she often threatens to do in real life) she would title it "Engulfed in Smelt." I countered that her tell-all biography, which I would write, would be called "Never Seduce A Smelt."*

Apparently smelt was much in my brain of late.

*Deb is a romance writer, aka Sabrina Jeffries, and one of her books was "Never Seduce a Scoundrel."

Ahhhh. An excellent Thanksgiving, lots of friends came over, a pleasant evening–I have introduced Kevin to the joys of God of War–and today was actually fairly productive.

I had an itch to work a little more on my old bread wizard story, and found a minor character that took me a little farther along–ergo:

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Knackering Molly was, to put it bluntly, insane.

She wasn’t dumb, though. There was a sharp, glittering intelligence inside the insanity that had learned early on that it was much easier to get away with being insane if you were also useful and had a little bit of money, and if people were just a little bit scared of you.

Molly was, like me, a very minor wizard, but her talent was even weirder. She could make dead horses walk.

This may not sound like a very good talent, but if you live in a large city with narrow streets, it’s actually quite handy. Horses are useful animals, but they die like everybody else, and when they’re dead, they’re about a thousand pounds of meat and bone that you have to dispose of before it starts to stink. The knackermen who run the big rendering yards at the edge of town will pay money for the dead horse, but they also charge money to come take it away, and they have to roll a cart in, and the cart takes up space and disrupts traffic and blocks people’s doorways. Then the people loading the horse onto the cart want to get paid, and sometimes they have to start butchering the horse right there if they can’t carry it out and it’s just a horrible business with blood and nastiness everywhere, and the neighbors get very put out.

Or you can go get Knackering Molly, and for sixpence, she’ll put her hand on the horse’s head, and it will stand up and walk to the knackers under its own power. It’s still pretty horrible to watch, but it’s a lot less trouble.

Anyway, you can spot Molly pretty easily. She rides around the city on Nag. Nag’s been dead longer than I’ve been alive, and he’s mostly bones now, so she pads him with rags and straw and old flour sacks. He looks like a magpie nest with hooves.

Plenty of people beat dead horses, but Molly is the only person I know who can ride one.

I sort of know what happens next, I just have to figure out how to get there from here…

Note to self: If somebody is extremely punchy, and as a result is trying to play "Stairway to Heaven" on your ass, yelling "Play Freebird!" will not help matters to any significant degree.

Random Round-up

Ben is in a cone, and grumpy. We had a flea problem for awhile–it’s been a horrible year for fleas here in North Carolina, the vets are grumbling about it every time I go in–and while it’s mostly under control, thanks to the miracle of modern medicine, Ben tends to yank his hair out when he’s under stress, and denuded a patch of his back as a response to the flea dermatitis thing. Since he’s been losing weight–combination of more exercise, not being constantly overfed, and the kitty herpes flare-up*–he can actually REACH the patch on his back with his tongue now, and managed to lick it raw.

Hence, the cone.

He is not pleased. 

He is deeply not pleased. It constricts his whiskers, and the beagle is totally laughing at him. He will allow some petting, but as soon as he feels you’re patronizing him, he will growl at you. Ben, much as I love him, is a bully by nature, and being unable to bully the other members of the household has him completely off kilter.**

Meanwhile, Thanksgiving prep proceeds apace. Library is finally done–just needs another chair in it.

And I woke up this morning to Kevin saying "Oh lord. You’re in the Devil’s Panties." Heh heh heh…

In other news, Kevin and I frequently joke about the Stages of Intimacy–y’know, when you’re comfortable farting in front of the other person, when you’re willing to break into the bathroom while they’re using it, at what point you let them drive your car, that horrific moment when you get a zit in a place you cannot reach…. He’s written an amusing column on some of those stages.

And I should probably get some Real Work done, and write a little Dragonbreath this morning…

*Kevin, in a further sign of awesomeness, took to hand-feeding him, since Ben’s not at all food-aggressive and wouldn’t push past the other cats. Greater love hath no man than will kneel patiently on the floor while an enormous tabby snarfs and drools over his hand.

**He cannot bully the border collie, who is simply too large and too patient, or Kevin, who has too much experience with irritable cats. This puzzles Ben greatly.

My Autobiography Is Now Illegal

I’m going to tell you a story. Bear with me a moment, O best beloved. I promise I’m going somewhere with it, and probably not quite where you’d expect.

When I was fifteen years old, I lost my virginity. I have never once regretted this, and far from the life of pregnancy, promiscuity, degradation and low self-esteem that I was threatened with (mostly after the fact) I seem to have done okay, which fact I lay primarily at the feet of a really fabulous sex ed program.

It didn’t hurt at all, although it was awkward as hell. It was not a sexy experience. We were not sexy people. We looked like coathangers with acne. I was as flat as a board, my hair was regrettable, and the only reason anyone would put lingerie on me was if they were planning on ironing it. After several abortive attempts to do the deed, we finally managed it in his parent’s guest bedroom, while they were at work, during which time A) his very large dog kept trying to jump on the bed to see what was going on, B) his performance anxiety got the better of him. Twice. and C) he was so scared that his parents would find out that when the phone rang mid-coitus, he actually answered it, spent ten minutes attempting to act normal to a caller from Science Museum who was trying to renew the family membership, and by the time he got back to the business at hand, the performance anxiety problem had fatally reoccurred, a situation not at all helped by the fact that I’d begun laughing at the sheer absurdity of it all.

This was not erotic. Me telling it to you is not erotic. At best it’s funny and stupid and a bit sad, and if I took the time to polish it and work the narrative and fine-tune the phrasing, I could probably aspire to poignancy. Still, it’s my life–my stupid idiotic wonderful life–and every word I have written is entirely true and I would change no part of it because I would not be other than as I am.

If I made a comic out of it, not only could I go to jail for child pornography, but you, O best beloved, could be in the cell next to me for owning it.

(See, I told you it probably wasn’t going where you were expecting.)

Ganked from Neil Gaiman’s blog today:

The CBLDF is currently in the very weird position of having to defend a reader of comic books, because his yaoi collection looked like child porn to the postal inspector.

Uh-huh.

No photos. Manga. And we all know the manga style, and there’s a real taboo against pubic hair in a lot of Japanese comics, and the end result is that because they’re drawings of explicit sex and OH GOD ANIME STYLE, somebody got their panties in a wad.

Now, like everybody else with two brain cells to rub together, my response to child pornography is OH GOD NO NO NO KILL IT KILL IT WITH FIRE. But when we start to talk about art featuring such things I get the feeling of straddling two very slippery slopes, and while it’s pretty easy to see where the bottom of the child pornography slope leads — KILL IT WITH FIRE BRING THE GRENADES — I get the feeling with this case that we’re staring down at the bottom of the other slope. And it’s bad.

Really bad. Very, very, very bad.

If a comic book artist draws something sexual that looks like the participants might be under eighteen–or where they ARE under eighteen, as witness my autobiography–that’s apparently child porn.

And these guys are actually prosecuting it as such.

My outrage is late to the party, but better than never showing up at all, I suppose. I was willing to sit on my hands when they promised that they were just going after the really freaky stuff at the far end of the spectrum–I mean, I felt a sort of twitchy "this is daaaaangerous" voice in the back of my skull, but it ran into the KILL IT WITH FIRE screaming and was doused. But you start going after yaoi manga and even though it is desperately far from my tastes, that little voice starts chanting "First they came for the homosexuals, and I didn’t speak up…" I mean, dude. I know people who LOVE yaoi–normal, sane, awesome people, the vast majority of them perfectly cool heterosexual women. These are not people who should be prosecuted for sex crimes in any world that I recognize.

(Seriously, do these obscenity people know about "Love is…"?)

I’m a comic book artist. Comics provide me with the better part of my living. If I drew the love scene from Romeo & Juliet, I could get hauled up before a jury. Okay, that’s Shakespeare, I’m guessing it would fall under having redeeming artistic merit…but what about my LIFE? Sure, I think it’d have artistic merit, but I sure as hell don’t want to be having to defend that to a jury in rural North Carolina, where the BEST case scenario is that I’d wind up innocent and dead broke to say nothing of the destruction to my reputation, and if they happened not to agree that I’m the artist I think I am, I could end up on a sex offender list.

For doing a comic about my life.

And if you, O best beloved, who have listened to me so faithfully, who like my work despite it all, and bought "My Life And Dumb Luck: An Autobiography"*–you’ll be there in the cell next to me.

That’s what this is about. I was already kinda screwed, but this is the first case I’ve heard of of somebody getting screwed merely for owning comics that somebody thinks looks inappropriate. (Shit, dude, it’s manga. I mean…I mean…DUDE. MANGA. I realize that’s not a coherent argument, but all I’m managing here is a lot of meaningless hand gestures and that thing where you open and close your mouth and splutter a bit.) 

I like you guys. I’m sure you’d be excellent company in the cell, but I’d much rather have coffee and skip the whole jail thing.

So the long and short of this is that the government has decided that it’s illegal for me–a comic book artist–to do a comic about my life. My teen years are now off-limits to me as an artist. (God help you if you actually sexually abused as a child and wish to do something hard and grim and brutal about it. Maybe they can slip you an Eisner with a file in it.) And not just like "sort of illegal but c’mon, we’re never going to do anything about it," illegal, but "we are going to try to get precedent to nail your ass to the wall for even OWNING a copy" illegal. (And while this section of my hypothetical autobiography would probably not be particularly explicit by my standards or yours, I REALLY don’t want to have my artistic future dependant on what the postal inspector thinks is appropriate.)

I was willing to go with the law, as part of the greater good, on the principle that surely nobody would ever go after anything that wasn’t completely freaky-wrong-kill-it-with-fire no-question-in-anybody’s-mind child porn, but this just goes to show, yet again, that if you give some people an inch, they’ll take a goddamn yardstick and try to shove it up your ass.

Seriously. What the hell?

So anyway, that’s my outrage. Go buy a membership in the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund or something, and may the art gods have mercy on all our souls.

*Alternate title: "This Reminds Me Of Labyrinth: The Ursula Vernon Story."

Full press release from the CBLDF

NOTE: Discuss this in the comments all you want, but BE NICE. If somebody disagrees with you, it is not okay to call them a pedophile apologist. We tend to be incredibly civil in the comments here, and I am super proud of how y’all handled the election discussions, but this particular topic tends to get ugly as hell. Please proceed from the assumption that nobody here thinks it’s okay to sexually exploit children.

Whew. Spent most of yesterday with my skull bones feeling like they were made of hot rocks. It didn’t really present like a migraine, but by the end it was definitely feelin’ like one. Seems better this morning, but blarrgh! I’m a little sloggy still, and I can feel it kind of…lurking. Time to hit up the ibuprofen.

In other, and rather more cheerful news, my much-more-on-top-of-things-than-I-am significant other has posted my tentative con appearance list for 2009! Yay! Cons!

Today I have to run errands, mail prints, and pick up a coupla pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving…

A productive day yesterday, as we prepare for Thanksgiving and the resulting guestification and turkey-waving.

And then we played Raving Rabbids for awhile–Kevin had never seen it, and I got a cheap used copy, because That Cannot Be Allowed To Stand. (I mean, Superbunny! How can you not love Superbunny?) So that was a pleasant end to the evening.

He’s off at church now, and I am wallowing in the contentment that comes from having slept in, had tea, and avoided church. This is interesting, because Kevin’s never particularly pressured me to come along with him–occasionally I do, on the principle that these people are important to him, generally I don’t, on the principle that I’m a semi-secular humanist and his priest’s sermons tend to be fairly mediocre God-wants-you-to-do-good-stuff rather than anything intellectually interesting* and anyway I have a bad habit of showing up on the days they’ve decided to do communion, which necessitates me slipping out halfway through because respectful observance stops there.

Nevertheless, I still feel a sort of smugness at having successful avoided church, although avoiding church required no effort on my part whatsoever and was pretty much expected and condoned. This is completely a holdover to my childhood, when church was a big damn production, all of it tedious, and in my childhood opinion, a waste of a perfectly good morning. I hated getting up, I hated dressing up, I hated having my hair curled, I hated sitting through the sermons, I hated Sunday school, I hated the laughably-ignorant-of-the-minds-of-actual-children writing in the little handouts…yeah. So far as I was concerned, any morning when I managed to weasel out of church, either because I was sick or had successfully feigned sickness (this required me to start by midday on Saturday at the latest in order to convince my mother**) or through some other happy accident, I felt wonderful. I felt smug.

(There was never any chance at all of me going on my own when I became an adult–even if I hadn’t had a de-religious experience, even if I’d retained a nominal Christianity, I would never have gone to church. I felt the whole thing was unneccessary and unneccessarily tedious.)

But even now, when it’s completely a moot point, I spend most early Sunday mornings in a good mood, wandering around the house with tea, maybe taking a nice hot bath, and generally feeling smug. I have Dodged a Bullet. Sure, it was a blank, and aimed in completely the other direction, but some early-childhood part of my brain is convinced that it’s the non-principle of the thing.

*I know, I know, the members of the audience who would actually be interested in a dissection of the cultural context of the symbolism in Elijah or whatever are basically…um….me and Kevin. I can’t fault the man for catering to his audience.

**I have since realized that she probably didn’t believe me even then, but some days found it easier not to argue.

Well, I just had a very strange dream.

In it, I was Batman. I was also female, but I was Batman. Not Batwoman, Batgirl, Batchick, not She-Bat or Batrude Stein, just…Batman. And female. This is important.

I had managed to corner the Joker in an apartment complex, with a couple of random people in it, and just at the critical moment when I was about to beat the hell out’ve the Joker* he dosed me with some kind of aphrodisiac and the dream took a Decidedly Different Turn.

Then they sent in the SWAT team, since I hadn’t come out in a reasonable amount of time. (I WAS BUSY, OKAY?)

This was a problem, since I now had to get the innocent bystanders AND the Joker out of the complex, while not killing (or letting him kill) any of the SWAT team, a situation made notably worse by the fact that somebody in the building was wearing something called Weave Boots, which changed the fabric of reality every time they took a step.**

Still, I’m Batman, damnit. I have grappling hooks and GPS doohickeys. I got the bystanders hidden and the Joker and I escaped through the wall of glass (there is always a wall of glass, so that it may shatter dramatically.) 

Then we wandered around Chinatown for awhile, holding hands and getting pork buns from street vendors. "Isn’t somebody going to notice Batman and the Joker making out on a street corner?" I asked.

"They’ll assume we’re cosplayers," said the Joker, who apparently had a grasp of metafiction that I lacked.

And then we wound up at the police station, and I kissed him passionately and slapped handcuffs on him and turned him in. Because I’m Batman, damnit.

He didn’t seem surprised.

…..

The only possible thing I can derive from this is that if I don’t read fan-fic, my subconscious apparently starts to create its own. Which is a terrifying thought on a lot of levels.

And also that you know you’re in a relationship with a geek when you wake up and mutter something groggy about having erotic dreams about the Joker and the question you get is "Really? Classic Joker or Heathe Ledger Joker?"

*Classic Joker, not Dark-Knight-Joker.

**Seven-League Boots get you where you’re going faster. Weave Boots apparently grab wherever you’re going and bring it to the space under your feet,  regardless of the sudden inconvenience to everyone else in the universe.