March 1st, 2019



I have made bingo down the N column of my 2-1-19 You Are card for the Valentines Bingo Fest, plus one extra fill on that card. Then there are 8 fills on my Platonic card.


N1 (nurturing) -- "Chewing Anyway" (Polychrome Heroics: Shiv)
N2 (talented) -- "Mr. Ian Woon and the Excellent Adventure" (standalone)
N3 (dependable) -- "What You Want to Express" (Polychrome Heroics: Cuoio and Chiara)

I3 (complex) -- "Decent, Safe, and Affordable" (Polychrome Heroics)


B2 (be here now) -- "If We Had No Winter" (Path of the Paladins)
B3 (nonsexual touch) -- "All'Ombra" (Polychrome Heroics: Pain's Gray)

I2 (cuddling) -- "Made Anew in a Heartbeat" (Polychrome Heroics: Shiv)
I3 (nurture self-worth) -- "Zhen, Shan, Ren" (Polychrome Heroics: Officer Pink)

N2 (family traditions) -- "Sunday Dinner" (LIFC)
N4 (make new friends) -- "The Perfect Way of Moving" (Polychrome Heroics: Officer Pink)

O1 (cooking with love) -- "Calming and Rewarding" (Polychrome Heroics: Shiv)
O2 (set attainable goals) -- "Piggybank Habits" (standalone)

The Fridge Problem

Behind most heroes, male or female, is an injured or dead woman.  This is a problem.

It is not, however, a problem we need to keep expanding.  It is okay to have some heroes with this kind of background.  It is, after all, an actual reason why people go out and raise hell.  But there are other reasons, and other kinds of heroes.

An Army of One has a bunch of characters, assorted genders, and none of them have a specifically fridge motivation.  There was one big massacre, but I think everyone was already involved somehow before that happened.

Beneath the Family Tree is largely nonviolent, aside from period-typical threats from animals and weather.  Mostly they're inventing tools and civilization.

Clay of Life has one male and one neuter lead.  No females were harmed in inspiring these heroes.  Yossele simply ran away from an abusive master.

A Conflagration of Dragons is rather the opposite: lots of characters of various sexes, but no heroes. The dragons have pretty much wiped them out.  The survivors are the ones who ran like hell.

Feathered Nests has genders all over the place, but the only person who gets seriously hurt is male.

Fiorenza the Wisewoman is a female lead with a life of average-type tragedy.  Her female relatives died while she was a teenager and left her as the herbalist of the village.  Her father didn't return from sea until considerably later.

Frankenstein's Family -- amusingly, Victor is lying  about his "dead wife" to conceal Adam's true origins.  Some women have come to harm in the series, most notably Csilla, but she's not particularly heroic.

Hart's Farm empties the whole QUILTBAG.  Most of the characters are healthy and happy.  Auduna gets off to a rough start but is soon fine.  It's a great place to heal.  I think the most fucked-up person is Ragi, who is a gay man.

Kande's Quest most definitely has a hera.  She is inspired by the kidnapping of her baby brother.  Stuffed in a clothes dryer!

Kung Fu Robots has Eastern-type heroes.  They are questing for enlightenment.  Almost all are neuter, and I don't think any females were harmed in this series.

Monster House has a family of humans and monsters of various genders.  Some of the harm is dark fantasy stuff, but little of it drives anyone to heroism.  There was that time the bogeyman ate a couple of people for abusing their daughter, but that's about it.

The Moon Door is based on a women's chronic pain group, so all the women have been or are being hurt terribly.  It doesn't drive them to heroism.  It drives a bunch of them to lycanthropy.  Problem mostly solved.

The Origami Mage has two female leads who are rivals.  Aside from the paper magic it is a pretty ordinary rivalry with no heinous happenings. They're just arguing over the One True Way.

Path of the Paladins features a world in ruins.  Two female leads, one inspired by vocation and the other by rape.  Johan and Althey, both male, are also heroes.  There are assorted other characters too.  Real live heroes!  But only one with a fridge-type background.

P.I.E. has a female lead and a male sidekick.  Brenda uses a wheelchair after a serious accident.  It doesn't slow her down or make her unhappy.  She just likes to solve weird crimes.

The Steamsmith features a genderqueer lead.  Her mother died as an infant.  That's sad, but it's not driving her to heroism.  She's the daughter of a nobleman, hence her leadership training; and she loves alchemy.

The Time Towers has various gendered heroes seeking to make the world better through time travel.  No fridging involved.

Walking the Beat has two female leads, one of them a retired  hero for medical reasons.

Polychrome Heroics has heroes of all kinds and genders.  Most are not driven by a bad past.  But look at the supervillains.  Quite a few of them are, and some of those involve injured or dead women.

So out of that whole pile, only a handful have anything close to the background that everyone else seems to be writing.  Hey, that means less competition for me.  :D

Rose & Bay Awards 2019

Voting is now over for the following categories of the 2019 Rose & Bay Awards.

Art: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith Nominate art! Vote for art!
Fiction: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith Nominate fiction! Vote for fiction!
Poetry: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith Nominate poetry! Vote for poetry!
Webcomic: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith Nominate webcomics! Vote for webcomics!
Other Project: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith Nominate other projects! Vote for other projects!
Patron: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith Nominate patrons! Vote for patrons!

These are the 2019 winners:

Art: Positive Doodles by Emm Roy.
Fiction: SuperQueers by [personal profile] bairnsidhe.
Poetry: "Pipecleaners" by [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith.
Webcomic: "Lunar Baboon" by Lunar Baboon.
Other Project: "The Good Fight" by various artists.
Patron: Glenn Stone aka [personal profile] technoshaman, patron of the Poetry Fishbowl project by Elizabeth Barrette aka [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith

Congratulations to all the winners! Much appreciation to the people who nominated and/or voted for crowdfunded projects. Thank you for your participation.

Not Enough Healthy Food

Current food production is drastically out of step with nutritional guidelines, which means that even if everyone wanted to eat a healthy diet, there would not be enough food for them to do so. 

However, when you look at crop rotation plans, you can see many variations that would support a healthier balance of food production.  Grain (wheat, barley, etc.) > pulse (peas, beans, etc.) > pasture (red clover, alfalfa, etc. plus animal products) is one good option.  It's easy to add vegetables to that because most of those are annuals.  Perennial fruits and vegetables are more challenging because they require dedicated land.  One solution is to plant cover crops in an orchard, which can then serve as foraging space for small livestock, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers.

Distinguishing Character Alignment

My partner Doug watches more entertainment than I do.  Often when I walk through the living room, something is playing on the television screen.  Fight scenes are pretty common.

It occurred to me that I can't always tell which side the characters are on from a quick glance.  That is, the characters assigned as "good guys" and "bad guys" aren't readily distinguishable by fighting style.  If they're not flagged as Obviously Evil or Obviously Good with costuming or other features that designate their politics, it's difficult to detect.  Even some of the historic trends are fading somewhat -- the costumes used to be much more distinct.  Now it's pretty common to have both sides dressed in black urban combat outfits or something similar.  Distinctions between fighting styles are long gone in most cases.  About the only thing that commonly remains is color-coded blaster fire.

I think it's an effect of the slide toward Grey and Gray Morality.  That is, the primary distinction between the "good guys" and the "bad guys" is not their ethical framework, goals, methods, or other objectively observable aspects.  It's which team the author is rooting for.  In which case, you know, they really should use different-colored shirts so viewers can tell the teams apart.  I wind up thinking that many contemporary entertainers are lazy, sloppy, ignorant, or all three.

As a consumer of entertainment in any form, I find it unfulfilling when I can't really relate to or sympathize with any of the characters, when they all seem pretty much the same.  They're just some jerks I don't know smacking each other around. It's not my idea of fun.  Conversely, when both sides are sympathetic but they're too  balanced, I don't enjoy that either.  It means the only way I'll be satisfied with the ending is if both sides somehow win, and very few writers are creative enough to resolve that kind of conflict without it being obvious from the start and therefore pointless.  If a side I really sympathize with loses, I am unhappy with the ending, even if another side I also sympathize with has won.

I do love complexities, though.  I like exploring how messed-up people still have things they care about, and how well-meaning people can screw up.  Most of life is complicated; few issues have simple solutions.  Most people have a mix of positive and negative traits; it's the balance  that matters.  Figuring out which way someone tilts is vitally important to surviving and thriving in life.

So then, if you're writing characters, think about why they have the ethical framework they do and how they show that.  What are their good or evil traits?  What will they do, what won't  they do, and why?  How long do you have to watch them before you can peg their alignment?  The closer to the middle of the spectrum, the longer it tends to take.  The farther toward either extreme, the faster and easier it gets to clock them as Good or Evil -- or Lawful or Chaotic, or Superhero or Supervillain, or whatever other spectrum you choose.  The gray hats may look white or black depending on context, but an Unsullied Hero or Diabolical Villain should pop out pretty quick.

What do you think?  How easy is it for you to distinguish characters based on traits and behaviors?  How well do you think authors convey alignment through action?  What are your preferences in entertainment?