Tag Archives: ROMANCE

general olga update

My birthday is this weekend, and it’s turning out to be one of those birthdays that start a week early and end a week late. Pretty awesome, if you ask me.

Here’s my birthday present to myself:
my tattoos
If you need an explanation about the new one, urban dictionary does a good job. Also, it’s a (F/f)aith tattoo! Yes, I went there. As to the one on the right (c. 2007), beyond the obvious, it’s not a topic for this blog.

The lettering was done by my friend Yuko.

Hmm. Other news. I love Foucault, but he is BREAKING MY BRAIN. I have realized that I do not know enough/ANYTHING? about economics, although I more than passed the AP Macro exam in 2005… something got lost along the way. There are cute boys on my radar, but as I have realized that I need someone to be a Watson to my Holmes, they may or may not be qualified candidates. Forget Miss Marple! Holmes is what I am going for!

Mmm, Jude Law. But I digress.

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wise as serpents and innocent as doves

Hey, gentle readers. Sorry about my absence! As much as I enjoy linkspam, I like this blog to have actual content, and while I’ve had a few ideas kicking around in my head, none have entirely come to fruition. So this post is kind of all of them at once. In case you get confused, just come back to the thesis, which is: how Olga is Miss Marple.


My first grown-up book was Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians, which I read at the end of third grade or beginning of fourth grade, and which was pretty freaking morbid for a 9 year old, and also kind of racist, but whatever. I got totally hooked on Agatha Christie and plowed my way through most of her back catalogue over the next three years. As a result, I have read almost all of her Miss Marple books and short stories, a fair amount of her Hercule Poirot works, and ALL of Tommy and Tuppence because they kind of rock. Namely, Tuppence rocks. Can I be Tuppence? But that is not the topic of this post. The topic of this post is why I really like Miss Marple.

This is Miss Marple’s schtick, for those of you who are not familiar with her: she is a little old lady who lives in St. Mary Mead, a quiet little English town, and people think that she is a tad bit doddering and off in the head. But Miss Marple is incredibly smart and a great observer of people, and she solves crimes, often using her harmless appearance to great advantage.


Recently, I have been reflecting on how much I no longer regret my decision to major in classics. For quite some time after choosing to forsake the world of togas for the world of forsaking bras, I looked at my classical period primarily as a springboard for future endeavors and six years’ worth of training to write the best Harry Potter spells OF ALL TIME. (At least, that was my motivation when I started taking Latin in 2001.) Now, however, I’ve realized that a background in classics has had other benefits, namely, accelerating my transformation into Miss Marple. Wikipedia agrees with me: “Miss Marple’s Olga’s acquaintances are sometimes bored by her frequent analogies to people and events from St. Mary Mead the internet The Past, but these analogies often lead Miss Marple Olga to a deeper realization about the true nature of a crime the patriarchy life, the universe, and everything.”

Being Miss Marple means that I spend a lot of time connecting the dots, but it also means other things, namely that I spend a lot of time sitting around going, “Somehow, Inspector Fox, I don’t think you’ll find the murder weapon in Mr. Clarendon’s shed.” In other words, I spend a lot of time debunking things. Prehistoric matriarchy! Goddess worship = female empowerment! The decline of Western civilization!

I really, really hate the “decline of Western civilization.”


In other ways, I have also been like Miss Marple. For a long time, I liked appearing to be innocent and sweet, and in some cases, namely in my relationships, I really tried for the sweet part. But when you are a grouchy and smart old lady, that tends to rear its head after a while, especially if you are trying to keep some of that on the down low. It also gets aggravating, day after day, to have people constantly underestimating and undervaluing you, assuming that you are eye candy or just She Who Keeps The Home Fires Burning (not that these in particular are Miss Marple problems).

At a certain point, appearing harmless and fluffy, having people tune you out because you don’t get straight to the point, and then surprising them when you hit them upside the head with your awesomeness isn’t subversive. It’s just kind of sad.

I’m still a grouchy old lady, though.


Ironically, after I came to the realization that it was best to just fly my freak flag and let the chips fall where they may, people started making even more erroneous and frustrating assumptions about my innocence and purity because I got Jesus. (That’s a phrase I deeply enjoy using. Like, fuck yeah, Jesus is the mud I’m rolling in! except it’s like spa mud because it’s made by God, and it’s also like regular mud because it’s outside and available to everybody, at least in rainy seasons!) What I had once enjoyed – creeping out my housemate with my tentacle bunny plushie, getting approved of by partners’ parents (hoo boy), alarming various people with the egg story (I only tell that one in person) – had lost its charm. When my mom told Martin that it was okay to tune me out sometimes, I just talk a lot, it runs in the family — that was not funny. Also, not ok.


For a long time, when I was very sick — that’s why I’m a grounchy old lady! not exaggerating, my dear readers! — I kind of forgot I was smart. I assumed people tolerated me on sufferance and attempted to buy their loyalty with baked goods. (In case you were curious, I make a truly bitchin’ three bowl devil’s food cake.)


Miss Marple is smart. She is a badass. People often forget this. That’s why, when she catches the bad guy, it’s a surprise. It shouldn’t be a surprise when women are smart, observant, socially aware. Those shouldn’t be “women’s secrets,” either. And when women talk, it’s worth listening. If people ever listened to Miss Marple finish her stories… well, those books would be a lot shorter. And possibly more morbid.
Which is fine by me.

come with us now, if you will, gentle readers

So, I mention occasionally in this blog (and a lot more, in meatspace) that I spend a lot of time in Buffy fandom. Sometimes, this is greeted with “how totally cool, please link me up to your hot Spike/Buffy fanfic,” but more often, with bemused tolerance, and occasionally, rolled eyes. I actually suspect that more eyerolling goes on behind my back, but, you know, that’s ok. The point of this post is not the true love of Spike and Buffy (or Kirk and Spock, or Harry and Draco…). Rather, it’s transformative works. Although fanfiction is more what I do (since 1999, yo), this post largely focuses on vidding because it has a very interesting history and I think it’s more accessible to the outlander, if you will.

What is a transformative work? Well, I will give you the definition that the Organization for Transformative Works has in its FAQ, which I think is an excellent one:

A transformative work takes something extant and turns it into something with a new purpose, sensibility, or mode of expression.
Transformative works include but are not limited to fanfiction, real person fiction, fan vids, and fan art. The OTW is interested in all kinds of transformative works, but our priority will be to support and defend the types of works hosted in our archive, and the fans who create them. […]
The term transformative was specifically chosen to highlight in the nonprofit organization’s name one of the key legal defenses for fanworks of all kinds (including real person fiction): that they are transformative of original source materials.
A transformative use is one that, in the words of the U.S. Supreme Court, “adds something new, with a further purpose or different character, altering the source with new expression, meaning, or message.” A story from Voldemort’s perspective is transformative, so is a story about a pop star that illustrates something about current attitudes toward celebrity or sexuality.

andrew in buffy 7x16 storyteller

So, my gentle readers, you may be going, “why do I care about this” and/or “is this remotely related to feminism” and/or “is this remotely related to life,” but trust me, I am going somewhere with this.

Did you know that the 90% of fic writers publishing in Star Trek zines in 1973 were female? Star Trek is considered the foundation of contemporary fandom, and also the origin of vidding culture. In the early 1980s, female vidding collectives sprung up to meet the needs of early vid makers. Collaborative effort was necessary due to the time-intensive and cost-prohibitive nature of vidding in the early days of the VCR.

Check out “Women, Star Trek, and the early development of fannish vidding” by Francesca Coppa.

It’s not just Star Trek. Fan culture at large is not disproportionately female. But the culture surrounding fanworks, and the creators of fan works, has historically been female-driven and women-populated. (I am aware that this is not always the case these days – anime vidding fandoms? Might be dude heavy? But my point stands.) There’s even a TV Tropes page, because we all know that TV Tropes is the true arbiter of truths on the internet: Most Fanfic Writers Are Girls.

Why do women create fan works? Back to all that “transformative works” stuff. Women are challenging, editing, and changing popular culture because we’re not satisfied with it. Fanfiction and vidding are both fertile grounds for textual de- and re-construction, and for expressions of female desire. They’re also both powerful mediums for feminist critique. As someone who literally grew up in fandom (I started reading and writing Daria fanfiction when I was 12 – yes, I’m a little embarrassed), the strong, nurturing, and largely female community I found in fandom has been a huge part of my life. I met my best friend through fandom in 2001 – through her, I discovered and decided to attend [that place where I went to undergrad]. Every time I go to a new city, there’s someone I know and want to meet up with there. Nimbus 2003 was the summer before my junior year of high school. (And here I am Nimbus. Yeah… no explanations for that one.)

So, transformative works? Important.

If you are curious about vidding as feminist critique, here are a few vids you might check out:
She Walks by jmtorres (Dollhouse). Meta on rape culture; I just linked to it in my previous post.
Bachelorette by obsessive24 (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Patriarchy in the Buffyverse. This video also showcases the epic racefail that is Joss Whedon, so forewarned is forearmed.
Origin Stories by giandujakiss (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). “It’s Nikki Wood’s fucking coat.” Criticism of the series’ handling of Spike and related epic racefail.

…the title links the vid to Donna Haraway’s feminist, antiracist critique of Western civilization’s origin stories in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women, much of which is based on a close reading of Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis trilogy; because superheroes have origin stories,and Slayers are superheroes, and so is Robin Wood; because the plural in the title makes you think, “Whose origin? Whose story?”; because there isn’t just one story, ever. Because I wanted to say, “Pay attention to whose stories don’t get told.”

ETA: Piece of Me by obsessive24 (Britney Spears) is a great example of a vid about celebrity culture working with non-narrative footage. obsessive24 is one of my favorite vidders, and her work is generally excellent – this is no exception. 🙂

book recs & link round-up

Last night’s party was awesome! If you weren’t there, we totally missed you. It was good times.

Two books I heartily recommend:
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks – Do you like smart girls? Do you like the panopticon? Do you like subverting the dominant paradigm? In YA fiction? Then… this book is for you. There aren’t even any vampires.
The Magicians – I just really want someone to read this book so they can discuss it with me! A strange blend of Harry Potter, Less than Zero, & The Secret History.

LINKS (the part you all care about)
great post by my friend Flourish about Twilight.

But when we do that, we’re aligning ourselves with the patriarchy. Do you think that patriarchy is only about presenting women with images of sexy Edward who stalks you (but it’s okay, because he loves you)? No, that’s not the only thing patriarchy is about. Patriarchy is also about saying that what women like is not appropriate. Boys read boys’ books, and girls read boys’ books. Girls get to cook and clean and be doctors and lawyers, but boys only get to be doctors and lawyers. Girls are shamed for their desires, girls are told they aren’t allowed to have desires.

16 of 19 social networking sites have a more female than male users.

– (ok, this is just cool) The Jayne Austen Book & Gun Club: Pride & Extreme Prejudice. I’m not a Firefly fan, but this made me laugh. A lot. So I offer it to you.

Dollhouse, Joss Whedon, and the Strange and Difficult Path of Feminist Dudes: Some Thoughts. As someone who (a) loves Buffy and (b) only managed to get three episodes into Dollhouse, I’m really intrigued by this writer’s perspective. It may persuade me to give Dollhouse a second chance. But maybe not. (You should totally watch the linked vid, btw.)

– Another great post about Twilight from Tiger Beatdown. It’s my new favorite blog, btw.

of colds, romantic aspirations, sci-fi heroines, and DARK WILLOW

(Remember how I was like, I’m totally not going to talk about Buffy in this blog? That was a lie. But there is way less Buffy here than in my other blog, so there!)

My brain was totally on vacation last night, so I’m going to try to read the articles for today again before class. Colds are so annoying. Also, soy milk with Hershey’s Special Dark syrup? Cannot compare to the same with whole milk, but I am off the dairy sauce until I stop being so mucousy. For someone who loves dairy, this is akin to torture. MIIIIIILK. I could be in one of those ads.

Due to recent singleness, I have recently been pondering whether or not I should look for the qualities I think I want in a partner or embrace them for myself. I could be a butch, leather-wearing, motorcycle-riding Ph.D. candidate! Unfortunately, when I shared this with friends, they giggled and said, “Sorry, Olga. You are way too lipstick.”

That wasn’t even my problem with this plan. How I am going to ride a motorcycle if I don’t even drive a car?

I guess that’s going on the backburner.

Admittedly, as I expressed to my friend Rebecca, I’m pretty sure that my checklist is an improbable conflation of patriarchy blamin’, cradle Anglican, and Spike. Still, I’ll keep looking. There must be one out there. Maybe even one with a sexy accent. Who knows all the words to the secret handshake Easter hymn that I don’t even know all the words to.

I wrote an essay a while back, for a book collecting contest, about women in science fiction. I should probably track that down and post it, because it’s, uh, a HIGHLY AWESOME list.

In conclusion: I spent way too much time looking at Dark Willow fanvids last night in an effort to explain to my ex-boyfriend why Dark Willow is so much more badass than regular Willow, even if she is all veiny. (Although, problematic trope at in play here (see: Evil Magical Lesbian), which, while I think worked on the show – the show is in the context of real life, Joss! And real prejudice! Jeez.) Anyway, seriously, why are all of these fanvids SO BAD? Sigh. I guess I know what I’ll be doing once I get the hang of Adobe Premiere Pro (my project for the December intersession). Remember how I keep talking about conferences? VividCon is right here in Chicago in August and I am totally going to go. I am SO SAD that I missed the Bechdel test show this year!

conferences (I promise the vampires are academically relevant)

Successful day at the library today! Man, I whine about the library a lot, but they have a ton of awesome new books on disability theory/PWD/women & disability. Today’s AWESOME find (while checking in books): Digital Disability: The Social Construction of Disability in New Media! Not only is this freakin’ awesome, it’s also perfect for a paper that I’m writing. Other library loot: Gilead (it’s been rec’d to me by about a billion people; I keep confusing it with The Handmaid’s Tale), Creating Mental Illness (right up my alley!), and What Would Buffy Do? The Vampire Slayer as Spiritual Guide (I am morbidly curious, in addition to being mildly appalled).

I’m a tiny bit stressed because, in addition to finishing my final project/papers for my two classes, I also need to whip up two abstracts for Slayage (OMG I AM SO EXCITED) and 11th Annual Graduate Symposium on Womens and Gender History. The papers are due on 11/18 & 11/21; the cfp deadlines are, respectively, 12/1 and 11/15. On the bright side, I am pretty sure that I know all about what I want to submit for the latter conference (19th c. narratives of mental health stuff). For Slayage, I have some ideas, but there is SO MUCH literature reviewing I have to do. Thank goodness for Thanksgiving weekend, no pun intended!

(Also, my fellow graduate students? You should totally be submitting abstracts to the Graduate Symposium, too! It’s at UIUC, so not too far away. We could carpool. If you have a car.)

I really want to go to WisCon, but I have a feeling that WisCon is just not in the cards this year because it’s so close to Slayage. WisCon is every year and Slayage is not, so I know where my priorities lie. :/

Also, if it is not totally obvious? Olga == nerdcore.

I will conclude this post with a link to Kate Beaton, whom I adore, and you will, too: DUDE WATCHIN’ WITH THE BRONTES.

Get your Gmail stickers

I think this is pretty cool, but I am also someone who, when purchasing her iPod in 2006, had her gmail address engraved on the back in case it got lost, because that is (still!) the most reliable way to contact me.

Of the books from last post:
Doodle Stitching and Kyuuto! Japanese Crafts!: Woolly Embroidery are good for the embroidery beginner (or, the needleworker who has gotten tired of cross-stitch kits, as in this case). I’m still waiting on an embroidery kit coming from a friend (Jen of Rabid Designs) to test these out, so more on that later.
Food Matters was informative, but I mostly bought it for the recipes, which look delicious as expected. I haven’t had the opportunity to test drive any of them yet.
Yes Means Yes! and Bitchfest are full of awesome essays. I haven’t looked at Bitchfest yet, but some standouts from Yes Means Yes! are Kate Harding’s “How Do You Fuck a Fat Woman?”, Stacey May Fowles’ “The Fantasy of Acceptable ‘Non-Consent’: Why the Female Sexual Submissive Scares Us (And Why She Shouldn’t)…”, and Latoya Peterson’s “The Not-Rape Epidemic.”

From this list of books, one might gather that I have not had much free time lately, and that would be accurate. Between applying to graduate school and other obligations, the most non-coursework reading I have gotten done was a Harlequin romance novel (they are offering 16 free ebooks in celebration of their 60th anniversary in publishing, so hie thyself over there, romance readers). I also have giant stack of research-related tomes looming over my head. Literally, when they are stacked on my desk. At least they are about punk rock and no wave, and thus far from dull.

Finally, despite the bitter winter weather, I have managed at least one day in my new shoes, and it was comfortable and fabulous day. I approve.