Thursday, July 31, 2008

Book fans are the greatest

This article on the fans of the "Twilight" book series converging on the small town of Forks tickles me, especially the way the town has engaged in the enthusiasm.

I haven't read the "Twilight" books and probably won't. Not because they're YA -- I still reread the books I read when I was young, and I thoroughly enjoyed Harry Potter -- but because vampire books are just so pervasive that they're beyond cliché. They've taken over the SF shelves at the bookstore. And honestly, I find the whole vampire mythos boring.

I've said it. Vampires are boring.

For originality and creativity, I think the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books are outstanding. These are also YA, in the line of Potter and Twilight. They're written in the first person, and the narrator's voice is impeccable. The characters are rich and believable, although my daughter was a bit miffed that Ares wasn't handsome and noble. (Personally, I think Riordan did a great job characterizing Ares. And wow, did he nail Hera!)

I'm not sure where Percy fans would congregate, since the stories don't have a single locale like Twilight does. But fans are inventive - they'll think of something.

Monday, July 28, 2008

My many tribes

The first hit for "define tribe" on google is "a social division of (usually preliterate) people". I'm using it without the parenthetical condescension. It evokes the feel of the many cultures I've belonged to throughout my life.

I don't think it's possible to enumerate all of the tribes in this country (the US) alone, much less the world. Tribes are no longer a mere reflection of geographical proximity and the resulting community; they may or may not have any connection to the ethnicity of the members. Today's tribes are formal and informal, official and unofficial. People seek out their like, and as the groups expand, their own special language and rituals evolve.

It was this post on Whatever and following one of its links that started me thinking about it. I didn't realize there was a ChildFree tribe ("CF" is the shorthand). And that's part of the point about tribes: meeting the defining criterion doesn't make you a member. You don't belong to the CF tribe by not having children. Tribe membership results from identifying, engaging, participating, accepting, and claiming.

Briefly, I wondered why not having children would be important enough (other than as a simple choice) to jell a tribe. "Well, that's pretty judgmental," I criticized myself. "Have the tribes you've belonged to been any more important?"

So I have to list my tribes. I don't belong to most of them anymore, although there's still a fond nostalgia that is common to alumni.

  • Campfire Girls and 4-H, children's organizations.

  • Air Force Junior ROTC. Granted, it was a high school class, but it also formed my social circle and (since this was the early 70s) was my first tribe with a true "us vs them" context.

  • US Air Force. Twenty years, so I also could join the Retiree tribe, except I don't engage or participate.

  • Science fiction conventions. Con-goers are a tribe within the much wider fandom world which is within the readership world. (Then there are the graphic novel tribes and the film tribes and the art tribes and many more I never even noticed.)

  • L-5 Society. Partially overlapping fandom.

  • Society for Creative Anachronism.
    :::side-thought...belonging to a tribe helps you define, even create, your immediate world. Without a tribe, without fellows in the same mind contributing their thought energy to holding that world vision together, you're only day-dreaming:::

  • The Trivians. In the days of pay-by-the-minute dial-up AOL. I first found the trivia club in 1991, and thus discovered the social potential of the internet.

  • The Zoomie crowd at Keflavik. On the third floor of the senior NCO barracks at Kef, the dayroom had been refurbished as a bar, called the Zoomie, which became home-away-from-home for an amazing yearlong tribe.

I've wandered the periphery of numerous other tribes, but not fully entered because it becomes a commitment. A tribe is the core of what is popularly called communities. Community is casual; tribal membership is deep.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

User-friendly DVD: 24

I need to mention that, by season 5, 24 finally figured out how to do a great DVD set. No more multiple clicks to return to the main menu (and hoping you can remember exactly which hour episode you just finished) -- now, they offer the lovely Play All option. They also improved their packaging: individual cases in a cardboard holder, instead of the cumbersome unfold-six-times method.

I'm much happier.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Visiting other realms

I'm reading The Traveller books by John Twelve Hawks. If you're not familiar with them, they're about a dystopian near-future (not too different than the present) and Travellers, "prophets able to journey to different realms of consciousness". Which got me thinking...if I had the ability to travel to other realms, would I?

I surprised myself by concluding, finally, that I wouldn't. Here's the reasoning I went through:

  • If the other realm was terrible, I wouldn't want to be there.
  • If the other realm was wonderful, I wouldn't want to return, and I belong here.
  • If the other realm resembled ours--both terrible and wonderful and everything in between--well, I haven't finished exploring this one yet.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

24: season five

I'm marathoning season 5 of 24 and, just like the last time I watched it, I'm absolutely frustrated by the last quarter of the season. Why isn't Jack playing the tape for everyone he's speaking to? "Here, Karen, listen....Chloe, record this as I play it....make copies and post them to YouTube..."

We know Jack isn't stupid - why is he being stupid now?