Tag Archives: reviews

Addedum to the Jungle, via IGN

IGN, a ‘gaming site aimed at 18-34 year old men, attracts over 40 million unique visitors monthly to their site worldwide’, according to the “About Us” section of their website. 40 million unique visitors. That’s a lot.

They have recently instituted some changes to their forums, which I thought was timely considering my last post. If they can attempt this at a site of their magnitude, there’s no reason it can’t be attempted at Goodreads, or even Amazon, given they have the people to do it, and do it fairly. I think it’s extremely interesting, and something to think about.

Here’s the link the the article at IGN:

http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/07/12/changing-the-comments-at-ign

Here’s the article, written by IGN’s Head Editor, Steve Butts:

Changing the Comments at IGN

IGN announces new moderation guidelines.

So there’s this problem with IGN. A lot of the comments lately have been terrible.

Horrifying is probably more like it.

While most IGN comments are respectful and productive, we’ve let the abusive comments get to a point where they dominate our discussions. When even just one hostile comment is enough to ruin an entire thread, we’ve got to take our job as curators of our site more seriously. The best way to create an appetite is to feed it and, by letting these abusive comments live on IGN, we’ve been encouraging more of the same. It’s long past time for that to stop.

Some of what we’re dealing with is an extension of the trash-talking that’s part of a competitive gaming culture. Some of it is just the bold lack of empathy that the facelessness of the internet allows. Some of it is just the natural tendency of some people to find happiness in making other people miserable. The excitement over next-gen consoles and the increasing popularity of games in general means that we’re seeing more new users on the site each and every day. When you add all those factors together, it’s clear we need to pay more attention to our interactions with each other.

With that in mind, we’ve revised our community moderation guidelines and brought on several new moderators. As Editor-in-Chief, I’ve also made it clear to the entire content team that moderating comments and positively confronting abuse is a critical part of our jobs. All of us — staff, moderators, and community included — have to lead by example. No longer can we simply throw our hands up and suggest that cleaning up IGN comments is someone else’s responsibility, or worse, pointless to even try.

We’ve written new guidelines for the IGN comment culture and moderation, which are going into effect immediately. They outline what we don’t allow. Take them seriously and hold us all, readers and staff alike, accountable for their enforcement. Positively confront and report abuse where you see it. I promise I’ll be doing the same.

Will that mean we won’t tolerate disagreement or fiery debates? Not at all. We’re an audience of advocates who come to IGN because we feel passionately about certain platforms, products, and philosophies. Being able to express and defend those tastes is part of why we’re here. Articulate disagreements about those tastes are a healthy and necessary part of those interactions. The comment guidelines aren’t meant to stop that.

The problem comes when a disagreement stops being about the merits of the argument and starts being about the people making it. It’s okay for us to disagree with each other, but we won’t tolerate abuse and threats disguised as disagreement. We also won’t tolerate ad hominem attacks, where you insult a person’s character or identity merely because you don’t like that they’re not the same person as you. None of us are perfect, and we all have bad days, of course, but we can’t let a difference of opinion devolve into being nasty to each other.

This change starts today. I’d like to say the change will be instant, but it won’t. It will take time as we discover and encourage new habits in each other. I’d like to say that the change will be absolute, but it won’t be that either. It will take constant attention and thoughtful reinterpretation. What I can say is that the change will be worth the effort.

If you have any questions about any of this or want to know how you can help, please sound off in the comments below, or reach out to me or our Community Manager, Sean Allen.

Steve Butts is IGN’s editor-in-chief. Keep up with him @SteveButts on Twitter or SteveButts on IGN. Do not follow him down the streets of San Francisco.

Welcome to the Jungle (gym)

I’ve been posting some about bullying at the elementary through high school levels. There’s another kind of bullying going on, right now, probably as I write this, that I have to admit I haven’t delved into with the depth and resourcefulness I normally would. Mostly because the topic makes me shake my head in disbelief that people could be so petty, so immature, and so completely amoral. And I’m not talking about children, I’m talking about adults, the people who are supposed to be examples to these children.

I didn’t do a lot of research because I didn’t really think it was needed. I’ve seen the writing spray painted all over the walls of both sides of this repugnant war that’s taking place.

Has anyone read The Pushcart War, a children’s book about a battle between street merchants fought with pea shooters? How about Comfort and Joy, a Bill Forsythe film about rival ice cream companies fighting over a recipe for ice cream that, in the end, end up being members of the same huge family? Those are delightful, because they poke fun at the ridiculousness of how far some people go to win.

So what, then, am I talking about? I had heard and read about this on Goodreads in some of the forums, and was shocked. When Amazon bought Goodreads, I remember there was concern that some of the pathetic, infantile behavior of reviewers on Amazon would make its way over to Goodreads. I had no idea it wasn’t restricted simply to the reviewers, but some of the authors as well. I was on Amazon yesterday, looking at a very long thread of discussion about this, about how dissenting views on books mysteriously disappeared, as did those who didn’t particularly like the book or recommend it. Someone would write a post, recommend it to a friend, and by the time the friend got there to check it out, that short of an amount of time, the post would be gone. They would repost it. That one would disappear as well. What’s going on, Amazon? And Goodreads, I thought it was just sockpuppets and reviewers going through on their mad slap a one star rating on everything in the m/m romance section or against particular authors in that section, or any other author you happened to dislike. I didn’t realize they were pre-planned strategic assaults. And authors. Authors should know better. They should know not to engageIt’s not worth it. Breathe. Count to fifty before even thinking of reaching for that keyboard. When you engage with someone who wants to get involved in nothing but an insult war, you’re sinking to that level. Walk away. Be a duck and let their words just roll off of you. Easier said than done, but be a professional, be the person other authors will respect.

Because right now, anyone who has engaged in this behavior is right back in elementary school, it’s recess, and I have all the clothespins. What the heck? Clothespins? Yeah, that took me a while, too. See, I worked in a classroom that wasn’t fully involved with the rest of the school, and the school had assistants who worked as recess monitors. Kids would come up to me all the time, because I was a grown up, and ask if they could go to the bathroom, George was picking on them, Charlie hit Elizabeth, Arthur called Sandy a bad word, and I had no idea what to do with them. I worked with children who were nonverbal, and this barrage of requests was a shock to me. I finally asked one of the other assistants what they did. “Just tell them you don’t have any clothespins,” he said, “and they’ll go find someone who does.”

So, the ineffable power of the clothespins, and, as I said, I have them, just for this moment.

See, these behaviors, reviewers going after authors,

authors going after reviewers,

reviewers giving books that are a “threat” to “their” authors one star,

reviewers giving books that go against their belief system one star, say, because of sexual orientation,

reviews disappearing because they are unflattering, flagged as abuse by who knows how many of the author’s “allies,” or the authors themselves–I have no idea on this one,

reviewers not actually reading books and giving one star reviews simply for the hell of it, or saying, this really isn’t my type of book, and giving it one star,

writing reviews that are nothing but insults to the author and have nothing to do with the book,

and anything else I may have inadvertently left out, on behalf of either the reviewer or the author.

Look at these things. “Oh, they’re not that bad, they’re just reviewers being reviewers.” That’s what they always say, isn’t it? Excuse me? Did I give you a clothespin? No, you may not leave.

Now look at these things and ask yourself this question: Are these things I would do or say if the person were standing right in front of me?

I don’t want to hear the answers. You have to answer to yourselves. To your own moral codes. Because think about that question and then think about the following issue, that is also being committed by reviewers and some authors online.

In some cases, reviewers and some authors have searched and found data on all their intended “Targets,” including where they live, children’s names, where they work, phone numbers, etcetera. A frightening amount of information, in some cases. Excuse me, NSA? There might be some candidates for jobs for you over here. Because let me tell you something, those of you who have done this? You have gone TOO far. That is stalkerish, restraining order time far. Would you want people to have all that personal information on you? People who don’t like you and who know what they might be planning? Think on that. You are nothing but a terrorist literary group, which is nothing I ever thought I would say. Over what? Ratings on a book. Or a book written by someone whose beliefs you don’t like, which I believes pushes it into the land of a hate crime. If nothing else, this knowledge is intended to be used as a threat. No? Why did you look it up, then? Sending them Harry & David’s at Thanksgiving?

This is nothing more than bullying. Pick any search engine and look up “bullying” and “suicide.” Think about the example adults need to provide. Is this it? The anonymity of the computer that you use as your shield when making these attacks, you think those kids don’t know how to use that technology far more efficiently than you do? How much better is what you’re doing than what they’re doing? Driving children and teens to suicide?

What is wrong that there is such hatred getting thrown around on these book sites? I think part of it must be that people aren’t actually reading, because otherwise they wouldn’t have the time to waste acting in such a manner. So, all it really takes for people to lose their humanity is to stick them behind a computer so no one knows who they are. Boy, then they’re tough. It’s easy to be obscene when you’re unseen.

This won’t cause a drop of difference in the whole debacle. But I’ve had my clothespins for a few minutes. Now each of you take one and report to the Principal’s office.

SF Signal-MIND MELD: LGBT Themes in Fantasy and SF – Recommendations

I found this in the fanzine SF Signal, which I was unaware of (shamefully), and the recommendations are really good and interesting. Definitely worth checking out!

Chat

Review: Bear, Otter, and the Kid

Bear, Otter, and the Kid, eBook   by TJ Klune
Dreamspinner Press    Release Date: August 12, 2011

I have to admit that I’m torn about this book. I did something with it that I normally don’t ever do. Usually, as soon as a derogatory term against the disabled community appears in a book I stop reading it, mark where I am, what the term was, and write up a quick note on Goodreads, Amazon, and my blog about it. The worse offenders are YA novels, which is really disturbing. The term in this case was “retarded,” one that seems to be on the upswing these days, sadly, as it had been slowing down for a while. The fact that it’s appearing in so many YA novels is really disturbing, I think, because it’s showing a whole new generation it’s ok to say those things. It’s being incorporated into their culture.

It’s something I think editors need to be aware of, possibly more important than a misplaced comma or a maligned semicolon.

It shocked me to see it in a m/m romance book, though. I hadn’t seen anything of that nature, that I remember, out of everything I’ve read so far. I contacted Mr. Klune, but haven’t heard back from him. What I think is truly ironic, however, it that it’s someone from one marginalized group demeaning another group that’s marginalized.

Just to take a quick side-step here, and forgive me, because my memory’s not always that great and it’s been awhile since I’ve taken these classes. Brown vs Board of Education was a groundbreaking case for more than just, at least in the eyes of the law, the judgment that separate educational facilities were NOT equal, starting the beginning of desegregation. This is important because it had a ripple effect, it was the beginning of civil rights movements for many groups, including gay rights and rights for people with disabilities, among many others. Both groups had to fight, and both groups still face countless challenges. Politicians and religious groups turn sexual orientation into something they have no business in, people with autism are refused heart transplants because the doctors don’t know how they will react in a hospital. Illegal restraints are used on children with disabilities who are nonverbal, and they can’t tell anyone because they don’t have a communication system and people who know are either too afraid to speak up or punished if they do. Gay men are attacked simply because they’re gay. WTF? I meant to keep this more positive, but I feel this deeply, because I’ve advocated for people with disabilities who can’t speak, who people don’t listen to if they can speak, and who people treat as “retarded” just because they’re nonverbal. Just because they’re nonverbal doesn’t mean they don’t understand exactly what you’re saying. Just because a man is gay doesn’t mean he can’t love just as deeply or truly as any other human being. Feel passion any less.

So what do I do? I finished the book–I liked it, other than the fact that “retarded” was used three more times. So now I feel conflicted and upset, the more I think about it.

I advocate for the right to love and marry whoever you want to, to have or adopt children if you want to, and I advocate for people with disabilities to have their rights respected. What do you do when two things you feel so passionately about conflict?

To everyone else this may seem like no big deal. It’s just a word. There are no such things as “just words.” Words influence, they hurt, and they bully, because there are people behind those words who are capable of inflicting pain, whether it’s physical, or mental or both.

This isn’t intended as an attack on Mr. Klune, and I’m sorry if it’s taken or seen that way. It’s more built up frustration. For anyone who writes and uses terms that are derogatory. The fact that I feel like people snicker at me–“oh, it’s that crazy lady who gets all worked up about people with disabilities.” I have a lot of reasons to get worked up, I won’t go into them here.

I just wish I could have read the book and enjoyed it without knowing those words were there, because they really ticked me off. And I really would have liked it so much more if they hadn’t been.

Optimized-homophobia_only_oneattitudeslittle girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playing Nicely

This started with a conversation with my youngest sister, who is on the internet more than I am these days and involved in more things like Tumblr and such. She started to talk about sockpuppets, which cracked me up, because I thought it had something to do with one of the conventions she’s always talking about where she does cosplay, and for some reason reminded me of the episode of Red Dwarf where Rimmer had space fever or something and dressed up in the little red gingham number and had a handpuppet who was in charge because he was delirious.

I’m not exactly ancient, but I remember when AOL was a brand new company and all you had was dial-up, and watching it connect on my old black and white Mac Classic screen and getting incredibly excited. Does anyone remember when the internet looked like lists of subjects? No cool pictures all over the place, when Mosaic was a browser? I spent hours online looking up ways to hone my Magic decks. I didn’t have a lot of versatility: either white and blue or white and green. It has changed so much. No support for Macs for Internet Explorer anymore, no more updated Netscape, no more updated Eudora.

There are a lot of advantages with the way the internet is today. There are also some odd things it seems to make people think are OK to do. Take the abovementioned sockpuppets, defined by wikipedia as an online identity used for the purposes of deception. I’ve always used one account, which makes it pretty easy to track me down, and holds me accountable for my actions when I’m online. I have thought if I ever wrote in a genre where I’d want to keep my identities separate, I’d have a different account for each. Just to keep those identities separate. I went onto some author blogs today, because they seemed the most concerned with multiple accounts. One author said that unless for the reason I mentioned above, or to have an author account and a personal account, there was no need to have any more than that. I couldn’t find anything from the perspective of the readers, but from the authors’ viewpoints, one of the reasons they’ve noticed for readers having multiple accounts is to leave multiple reviews for friends’ books to bolster their ratings, or, conversely, write negative reviews for another authors’ books to bring down their ratings. The authors whose blogs I looked at were skeptical of reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads for this reason, especially people who had only written a few reviews, or gave lots of one star reviews with no reason why.

I’m a not very successful author (yet), and I can see where this would really be a problem. The ratings do influence people–I know I pay attention to them, but if something looks interesting enough to me, I’ll check it out anyway. The weird ones are the ones where there are a bunch of fives and a bunch of ones. A love it or hate it book. A reason that came up on one of the blogs and in the wikipedia article was that one of the reasons for having sockpuppets was so you could go to groups or discussion areas where you really shouldn’t be, pretending to be someone you weren’t, for whatever reason you wanted to go there for.

But one of the main reasons I’ve never had more accounts was that it just didn’t seem very ethical to me. I don’t know how Goodreads or Amazon would or could keep track of something like that. It’s easy to come up with another email address and sign up for a new account. I’d always held that belief and figured most people did the same until a recent experience taught me otherwise in one of the groups I’m in online. There was an activity that was a somewhat complicated thing involving several parts. Let’s just say it was divided into parts, and different people were supposed to be involved in each part. I discovered that my “different” person had used two screen names other than the one I knew to participate in the activity. The first one would have been alright, I suppose, if the second part hadn’t involved something she shouldn’t have been involved in, but was under the other screen name. So three screen names. I could understand two, possibly, but adding a third to manipulate the situation, I think, was unethical. I was upset about it, but the answer was, why shouldn’t she have three? The woman I asked had about ten. Ten. Who needs that many? Ten??? (I rarely use multiple punctuation).

This is a group I was starting to become more comfortable in, I was actually posting instead of lurking. But now I’m going to try to keep my mouth shut and go back to lurking. It’s a little like Big Brother. You never know who is really there and who isn’t. Shouldn’t we know who we’re really talking to? Sure, there are people “in the know” who know all of the identities, but then that starts to get clique-y, and I hate stuff like that. Sort of an elitist air among the people running the group. Yes, there needs to be control of the group, but there also needs to be control of how many identities a person can have. I wouldn’t talk to someone in real life, start becoming good friends with them, and then one day someone else shows up and says, “Oh, hi, I’m Monique today,” and then you’re never sure which Monique is coming over.

That may seem melodramatic and maybe even a little childish, but it’s easy for people to hide behind their computers. That’s already a degree of trust that you’ve given up just in that–you’ve ceded that you don’t know what the other person doesn’t look like, sound like, and that you can’t read their non-verbal language (from last post). You’ve given all that up and all you can trust are the words they put on the screen. That requires a great deal of trust. Which, amazingly, we do. We want to find other people like us, who want to talk about the things we like, so we’re willing to take that risk just so we can talk to strangers because we have something in common that we like. Which is often how people really do meet. We trust them (I trust people more quickly than I should) and hope things work out to be friends. How do any of you know that I’m really who I say I am?

The sad thing is that people seemed surprised I questioned how many screen identities you could have, as if it had never occurred to them that there might be something wrong with it, that some people might think it was a little…sneaky. A little underhanded. That it made the person that I had thought they were more untrustworthy, and it made me wonder why they had never thought it might be thought of as strange, not in a good way. Now I am not entirely sure what to do, leave because I don’t feel comfortable there anymore or stay because the discussions are interesting and just keep quiet?

I don’t know why little things like this bother me so much. I think it’s because I worry if people stop questioning the morality of small questionable actions, the size of the questionable actions they don’t question will increase by tiny increments until it’s large, important issues that effect truly important things.

Carlb-sockpuppet-02a                      So, let’s say no to sockpuppets, and yes to playing together nicely. children playing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Review in Review Section: Master of Crows

I am actually not sure which is the better route to take–to post the reviews here or have a dedicated place to put them. It seems neater to put them in their own little spot, but I’m not sure if anyone reads them over there. I posted the review for Keeping the Castle here because I really liked it and I’d needed something to cheer me up, and I know at least a couple of people at least looked at it (thank you very much). If anyone has any particular preferences, I’m open to suggestions.

Alright. This is not a direction I had planned to go. At all. It isn’t entirely random–I ordered something from Ireland–it’s probably the closest to actually going there I’ll get in a long time. I received an e-mail from them last week confirming the order, which was supposed to ship yesterday, but I hadn’t heard anything, so I thought maybe an email saying it had been shipped had gone to my bulk mail folder. Of course, the information that it was shipping yesterday was in the email last week, so there very well might not be an email saying it shipped, since they already told me when it was shipping. Little normal things like that can escape one’s attention in the age when you’ve been Amazonified and are sent an email or text everytime your package sneezes. Not that Amazon sells anything that sneezes, that I’m aware of. Maybe I should check. Anyway, the bulk mail folder. It’s one of those places I never go until there are about 400 emails in it, then I empty it, end of story. But no, today I opened it. No dice on the email. I think the one last week was telling me it was going to ship yesterday. Sort of like correspondence before computers, remember that? Hm. I’m dating myself. Actually, that could prove incredibly awkward. What if I decided it wasn’t going to work out? How do you handle the break-up? You’d still have to live with yourself for the rest of your life.

OK. A little too much sugar. But, to be fair, at least spam doesn’t seem to discriminate.

For example (and these two were colluding next to each other):

From: “Expess Pharmacy” <prigckpoir@yahoo.com>

Subject: Open up the new edge of fantastic sex with the premium package!

From: “Expess Pharmacy” <prigckpoir@yahoo.com>

Subject: Shoot massive loads and have bigger size

First off, I don’t know if I’d trust a place called “Expess Pharmacy.” I know from my elbow injury it is hard to type with one hand. That meant I had to proofread more closely. And aim things away from the computer–but see, that’s the point. I can’t “shoot massive loads.” It was very nice of them to think of me, but I’m fine, thanks. There are other options to that I’m not even going to delve into. Now, if there’s something that accomplishes both claims, I do have an area I wouldn’t mind having a little bigger, but I don’t think men want that on themselves. Or do they? Has anyone seen the episode of Red Dwarf where Holly turns Rimmer into Kochanski for a while and when he’s switching Rimmer back forgets something–at first, Rimmer is upset, then decides he’s just going to go to his bunk for a while. Apologies to anyone to hasn’t seen Red Dwarf. I think people either like it or they don’t. We can’t forget the first one, also from “Expess Pharmacy” (of the two words, which is the harder to spell?). From the subject line, I can just imagine a fast food restaurant menu, with a chirpy teenager asking, “And what kind of sex would you like to have today?” Starbucks has three sizes, sometimes four. We’ll stick to three. Mediocre, Cool, and Fantastic. But then you already know the next question, “Would you like to supersize that?” Well, that takes care of the next email, doesn’t it. It would be like a happy meal, only instead of toys it comes with condoms. I think that covers that genre of spam.

From: “Christian Mingle” <contact@goodbyelucas.com>

Subject: Meet Christian Singles Today

Date: February 14, 2023 6:19:40 AM PST

The task of looking for a mate took on a whole new dimension with the advent of the internet. Now, truthfully, once you’re out of college and your co-workers are no longer the perky people your age, and next thing you know you’re the oldest one in the office with people at least ten years younger than you (not that I think there’s a problem with that by any means–compatibility is compatibility, regardless of age, once you’re past a certain point) and things start to look, well, a little drab (insert bleak if desired). Much like in Bridget Jones. Only not so funny because it’s happening to you, and you’re not nearly as clever as Bridget Jones, because even the stupid things she says are funny. This email subject line is actually very tame, I just don’t like the term “mingle.” It looks funny, it sounds funny–say it a few times. It does, doesn’t it? Maybe I just don’t happen to be among those who do mingle, and it’s commonly used and I’ve completely missed the mingling train. Did a teacher ever ask you in high school, “Hey, what are you kids doing mingling over in that corner?” What if I prefer to mingle on my own. Do you get labeled if you’re more of an introvert? “Oh, don’t mind her, she’s just an anti-social non-mingler.” It just occurred to me that if you replace the “i” with an “a” it seems more truthful as to what things like this could actually be like. But it makes for a more interesting conversation (not to mention that this mingle isn’t happening for another ten years, or is that just the date it was sent? On Valentine’s Day. How cute) when you go to work or whatever you do on Monday or your next day at work after work. When someone asks what you did over your weekend, it would be much more fantastic to say that you went to a Christian Mangle as opposed to a Christian Mingle. Because that leaves you wriggle room. With the former, I think getting together with some of your friends and watching Carrie counts. And is probably a lot more fun. (Disclaimer–for those truly interested in Christian Mingles, for goodness sake, mingle away, who am I to mock something that I don’t even know what it really consists of?)

From: “Fraud Monitoring Offer” <newsletter@pleakn.info>

Subject: Your Credit-Scores may have been Updated

From: “Loan Pre-Approvals” <365.Day.Loans@shelledpooris.com>

Subject: Re: ✔✔ Your $2,500 Same-Day Deposit Has Been PreApproved. ✔✔ 100% ONLINE – ALL CREDIT OK! ✔✔

From: Resolution Center <onlinepay_pal1@mail.com>

Subject: Your PayPal account access has been limited

Alright. There may be truth to the first one, because as I’ve been pasting the headers in, they’ve been opening, and I’ve been deleting the contents, but the three credit scoring companies it listed were all the ones you really can get free copies of your credit report from every year. So I’ll reserve judgement on that one. Now, these deposits being approved and all they need is your bank account number are ridiculous. I didn’t have any of these this time, but I have. No one in my family has died and left me a million dollars for which you also need my bank account number. If that were the truth, 1) i didn’t know them, and 2) I would either be receiving correspondence from a lawyer or a phone call from a lawyer. Not a shady email with multiple errors in grammar and spelling. I have pondered that question, though–it would be sort of cool if some elderly relative I never knew I had and who had led a happy, long life left me a million dollars. However, even with that million dollars, my PayPal account continues to suffer. There were only two spams on that one, which isn’t bad out of roughly 150 spam emails. For people who do use PayPal, I could see that causing a momentary heart-stopping moment. I don’t use PayPal, mostly because of a very roundabout civil discussion/argument I had with one of their representatives. I had forgotten my password because I hardly ever used it, tried everything I could think of, also couldn’t remember my security question answers (I have no idea what I was thinking when I started my account). The representative wanted the account number from the bank, and it didn’t match up with the bank I have now. I decided I must have started it before I moved to Oregon, years ago, when I was with a different bank, and didn’t remember the account number (of course). I explained this, but since I still couldn’t give them the account number, they said they couldn’t help me. They said to try a different card. So I put in my debit card, but it wouldn’t work either. I called back, but still couldn’t answer their questions with the right answers (it was like having a nightmare about a pop quiz). So I couldn’t use the account. I realized much, much later (months) that it was the account I have now, which is why the card wouldn’t work (but why not? I don’t like things like this. They fluster me easily. It makes me want to call them back and cry into the phone “Soylent Green is people!” and then hang up. My partner has been saying that constantly lately. It could be the effects of having a frozen food diet for a while now).  Neither of us feel like cooking. I did make some soup a few months ago. He was going to make some soup, bought the veggies to put in it, but them in the veggie drawer. That was months ago too. I’m just as guilty of consigning veggies to their fate down there. It’s as bad as being sentenced to Siberia. Only there they would freeze and not slowly dissolve, coating the bottom of the veggie drawers with a thick layer of something. One of them was removed at arms length and taken outside (about three or four days ago now. Whatever was in the bottom is beige now).  Now that I think on it. I think that’s about the same time the Soylent Green thing started popping up. Hey, not everyone has their very own slythy toves in the refrigerator. I actually think you could take about any part of that and claim to be growing it in your refrigerator. You’d need one mean set of leftover containers to keep it out of trouble.

From: “SENSA” <uncommercial@vivianpoint.com>

Subject: Eat Yourself Skinny.

From: “Weight loss now Free trials” <damagefeldman@museumsnett.no>

Subject: Expectant Britney Spears Debuts Her Bump

From: “No risk Jessica Alba Free trial” <communionbootes@sacred-destinations.com>

Subject: Rapid fire weight loss Reese Witherspoon

OK. There were more weight loss ones than you could shake a spoon at. By far. The first one I picked reminded me of a project I thought of once but others didn’t seem to think was quite as funny: The Donner Party Cookbook. I thought a section on finger foods would be especially appropriate. Now, there’s the saying you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but boy, people sure do. I think the same can be said if you’re trying to market something through email subject lines. Really? “Eat Yourself Skinny?” No mention of any diet. So I’m taking the literal interpretation. And quite frankly, I don’t think it’s worth it. “Oh, I lost an arm and a leg over my last diet.” The thing is, the lengths women go to are frightening in the effort to look either like a stick or Barbie. Maybe that’s what needs to happen. Mattel can do their part in what they’ve helped create and design “Anorexic Barbie” and her cousin, “Bulemic Barbie.” They should come with truly informative booklets, online links, where to go for help, etc. I’ve had a problem for the last few years where I haven’t been particularly hungry and have lost a lot of weight. The doctors don’t know why, and we’ve gone through meds, numerous blood panels–thought it might be my gallbladder, which did have issues, so it came out last summer–no change. I’ve had CT Scans, ultrasounds (that was more fun when my sister was pregnant and going in for ultrasounds as well). I like sweet things, which is probably why I haven’t gone off the lower end of my BMI. The sick thing is, while I know it isn’t good for me, part of me was relieved I wasn’t as large as I was before. There could be some weird form of cancer somewhere in my body causing this to happen (there isn’t), yet the fact that I don’t have to worry about my weight so much makes it alright. I consider myself an odd but reasonably intelligent woman, who has tried to not pay so much attention to society’s expectations for appearance and fashion for women, but it’s still there in the back of my head. And when I mention it to other women, they say things like, “You’re so lucky, I’d love to lose some weight.” What part of “the doctors are trying to figure out why” is inexplicable? I occasionally worry I might have the potential to become anorexic simply because now that I’ve lost the weight and am at the lower end of where I should be, I don’t want to go back (did I mention the weight gain was a little present from Depo?) Ugh, onto the next one, another thing I can’t understand. Now, I don’t watch TV, I don’t know in particular who’s popular and who’s not, but I do realize this crazy baby bump thing is going around. Probably longer than I’ve been aware of. So, “Pregnant Britney Spears Debuts her Bump.” It doesn’t specify it’s a baby, but I’m assuming it is? Is debuting your bump going to become a requirement, like a coming out ball for debutantes? Sort of an unveiling? Are there large parties with chandeliers and sparkling cider with very chi chi invites that only other bump owners and, hm, one could really have a lot of fun with this, bump givers, shall we say, could attend? What sort of entertainment would there be? Small children running around pretending to be Humpbump whales? Tummybump painting? If one had a dance card, where exactly would it be fastened? Oh! On the wrist, probably. A good, safe idea. It won’t get bumped off there. There could be a DJ there playing “Baby Beluga” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider, the X-Jam Remix.” Maybe do a little Gangnum style? The buffet could be broccoli florets, baby carrots, and those little itty bitty sausages in croissant wrapping. But, to go on to the sender: Pregnant women do not go on diets to lose weight. The baby will be extremely unhappy and unhealthy. They can improve their diets, sure. Just not to lose weight. Unless there is some weirdly extreme case. Enough said. The last one I’m completely happy about: a free trial for Jessica Alba? Awesome. I don’t have to do anything. Apparently Reese Witherspoon in involved somehow–does the rapid fire imply dodge ball? Jessica Alba and Reese Witherspoon playing dodge ball. I imagine that might make some people happy. Maybe even really happy. But since they’re the ones doing all the work, fine by me. I’ll just sit here and continue to eat my Mother’s English Tea cookies.

OK, this is the last one, I swear. Pinky swear. With my good pinky.

From: ÔÆÊÀ½ç <kitson@ccnets.org>

Subject: 云世界邀请您免费开通个人云”waclements”并共同开发云世界

I really have no comment, because I honestly don’t know. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t respond, because I can’t read the message either. Free turtles? A $200 gift certificate at Powell’s for even more books that I have nowhere to put (OK, there is currently a bookcase out in the car that I am waiting for partner to help me unload. I also just got new glasses, which may seem random after that, but I really like them and they make me feel sort of perky and cute, and I got the glasses before I went to get the bookcase, and the young man who helped me, who I expected to get a cart, one of those big, long rolly ones, actually carried it himself all the way to my car. I had remembered to put the seat down and take the cover holder off (it’s a Subaru–anyone who has a Subaru knows what I’m talking about–it’s like a projector screen thing only it goes sideways and covers up the stuff in the back. And it’s black.) I think the current amount of unhoused books around my desk will fill it up, sadly.

I have a feeling, though, that I’ve inherited a million dollars and all I need to do is respond with my checking account number…