Wednesday, December 20, 2006

the anti-woman new Wicker Man

I saw the original Wicker Man in the mid-seventies. It was by far the most gut-clenching film I've ever seen. From here:
The Wicker Man is a cult 1973 British film combining thriller, horror and musical, directed by Robin Hardy and written by Anthony Shaffer. The film stars Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Diane Cilento, Ingrid Pitt and Britt Ekland. Paul Giovanni composed the soundtrack, a recording cited as a major influence on neofolk and psych folk artists.
The original Wicker Man film focused on an island population of pagans that included both men and women -- all of whom were engaged in determining what was to befall the "hero." I remember that the film was steeped in a ancient eroticism as the island population struggled to find their balance between all of those natural forces of opposites.

The new Wicker Man is devoid of male-female tension and eroticism of any kind; the pagan population is totally female (except for a few drones). The new version attributes only to women the chthonic spirit that the original movie rightly attributed to all people who followed the pagan ways. The unspoken message to us in these times is "watch out when those women take over" especially those females who find personal strength in the mythic histories of their gender. They are dangerous. They will destroy you.

The primal darkness in all of us is a powerful and dangerous force. The original Wicker Man captured that terrifying power. The new Wicker Man is a weakened and distorted version of what was once a truly horrifying tale.

(Side note: The star of the original Wicker Man was Edward Woodward. In the new version, the name of the "hero" is Edward Woodward.)

I don't know if you can rent the 1970s Wicker Man, but you can buy it here.

It's worth the price.

(cross posted at

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Writer Ratio

People's perceptions of who reads what are definitely skewed. But what about authors on the publishing end? Do authors self-segregate into particular genres or do editors have some say in what kind of author get published?

I came across the Broad Universe Bean Count which has some very interesting statistics on how many women and men are published in the speculative fiction field. Of course, compared to the romance genre (where most men still work under pseudonyms or with female co-authors), science fiction and fantasy appears to be a bastillion of equality. But nonetheless, the numbers aren't that great. It's true that over the years, the percentage of women winning awards has gone up, but for most of them, the split is still not fifty-fifty.

Some other observations: Male reviewers prefer to review books authored by other males. The majority of stories in anthologies of speculative fiction are by male authors. However, is it possible that this is also a function of how many female speculative fiction writers are present in the first place? The membership of SFWA is not an accurate indicator of how many writers there are--you have to get published first before you can be a member. But according to Strange Horizons, about a third of their submissions were from female writers. I am very curious as to whether this is true or the exception compared to submission statistics to other magazines, agents, and editors.

And another question: Does the sex of the authors also influence what kind of readers are drawn to a genre? With the quality of writing being equal as well as the male/female ratio of writers in whatever genre--would this equalize the readership as well? Or will people still be too hung up on convention and formula to read a book for the story?

(Cross-posted at Syaffolee.)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Museum of Kitschy Stitches

If you're searching for the perfect holiday gift, if you're having friends over a lot in the coming weeks and want a great conversation-starter, or if you just need to laugh until you're wetting your pants, check out The Museum of Kitschy Stitches: A Gallery of Notorious Knits, by Stitchy McYarnpants. Stitchy is the nom de plume of a Boston-area woman who likes to collect supremely tacky old knitting and crocheting patterns (mainly from the '60s and 70s). She illustrates a few dozen of them along with hilarious commentary in this book.

I saw her a couple of months ago at the local Barnes and Noble, where she was doing a booksigning. She'd brought along a trunkful of hideous creations collected from yard sales and ebay. I bought the book, and it's been generating an evening-ful of reminiscences every time someone has spotted it. At a book discussion I hosted last month, we spent more time discussing this than the book we'd all read. I brought it on a business trip recently and showed it to a female colleague in our hotel room. She insisted I take it to a dinner party hosted in the CEO's home to show his wife. It pretty nearly took over the whole evening.

Stitchy has a website:
and I posted a blog entry about her booksignings, which has some pictures of Stitchy and of the treasures in her trunk:

Friday, December 01, 2006

World AIDS Day

Here's the facts:


  • Over 22 million people have died from AIDS.

  • Over 42 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, and 74 percent of these infected people live in sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Over 19 million women are living with HIV/AIDS.

  • By the year 2010, five countries (Ethiopia, Nigeria, China, India, and Russia) with 40 percent of the world's population will add 50 to 75 million infected people to the worldwide pool of HIV disease.

  • There are 14,000 new infections every day (95 percent in developing countries). HIV/AIDS is a "disease of young people" with half of the 5 million new infections each year occurring among people ages 15 to 24.

  • The UN estimates that, currently, there are 14 million AIDS orphans and that by 2010 there will be 25 million.

United States:

  • An estimated one million people are currently living with HIV in the United States, with approximately 40,000 new infections occurring each year.

  • 70 percent of these new infections occur in men and 30 percent occur in women.

  • By race, 54 percent of the new infections in the United States occur among African Americans, and 64 percent of the new infections in women occur in African American women.

  • 75 percent of the new infections in women are heterosexually transmitted.

  • Half of all new infections in the United States occur in people 25 years of age or younger.

It's not someone else's problem. Protect yourself and your lover - use a condom. Get tested. Educate yourself and your children.

Give to the organization of your choice and join in the battle against this world-wide killer.

Not just today. Every day.

Cross-posted at I See Invisible People

What to do with teenagers when roller skating gets old? SkyZone!

As the mother of a teenage daughter, figuring out activities that give ME a break, are nearby, don't involve computers and cell phones...