Windows 10–simple reasons I will probably go back to Windows 7

I downloaded Windows 10 on my laptop last night. For weeks, I was like “Ooo look, free upgrade! Poor people dreams realized!” I thought upgrading might help my aging computer run better (got it in 2010, can’t afford a new one).

So far though, I’m not enjoying Windows 10.

  1. Windows 7 looks better to me, it looks smoother and brighter. I don’t like the blocky, pixelated look of Windows 10, particularly its taskbar.
  2. Solitaire is gone? AND they took my desktop widgets? Oh hell no. Not here for it.
  3. I can’t play DVDs as conveniently. Windows Media Player played my DVDs better than Cyberlink PowerDVD without glitching over a couple of minor scratches. I never had problems with the Windows 7 player and DVDs, whatever my other issues may be .
  4. It appears to be screwing with my mouse. I can’t scroll on the right side of my touchpad anymore without clicking and dragging with the pointer.
  5. The start menu has all this extra crap in it that Microsoft thinks I’m supposed to find helpful…I don’t, it isn’t.

And this may only be the beginning of things I don’t like about Window’s 10. I’m really not that keen on exploring. I just want to watch Hellboy: The Golden Army without messing about with apps, new software rules, or playback issues while I do my hair. That’s not too much to ask for.

I really should’ve researched this before I downloaded.  Luckily, I can revert back to Windows 7 if I do it before a month is up. I intend to keep Windows 10 until I’m sure its in no way helpful. I am the kind of customer who has no problems remembering to cancel free trials and subscription before its too late–best believe that.

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M. Night Shyamalan: a reflection on his movies and how ‘The Last Airbender’ was completely and utterly wrecked

Contrary to all the negative reviews surrounding M. Night Shyamalan, as a writer and filmmaker/director, I had always enjoyed his work for the most part.The Sixth SenseSigns (even with Mel Gibson the Flaming-damn-Racist). Devil.The VillageLady in the WaterUnbreakable (even though Samuel L. Jackson is the villain). Even the bogus documentary. I even thought The Happening was a good idea even if it didn’t pan out all too great.

Ever since I read a quote from him about the spiritual message intended in his films, I was drawn to him and his work as an artist. I had nothing but high hopes.

It literally nearly made me cry when I heard that he screwed up Avatar The Last Airbender the live action movie. I was even more surprised to find that the casting was racist and that two clearly brown main characters central to the story were cast as lily white people (Katara and Sokka). Aang was even white. The acting wasn’t that great and I’m too scared to look at the other criticisms of the movie. He screwed up the plot and changed the pronunciation of names.

This show was handed to him–plot, details, action, emotion, potential–on a gotdamn silver platter. How did this happen?

I was heartbroken. But why? I had never watched the ATLA animation. As an American “cartoon”, most likely produced by white writers, I put it immediately out of my mind, as my opinion of most American animation is very poor, thanks to Disney and a white, conservative, middleclass dominated market. I prefer Japanese animation/anime, though Japan has it’s racism against POC, Black people in particular, that it needs to fucking deal with.

What I’ve come to realize though is that People of Color are never the main characters in M. Night’s movies. He himself is Indian (as in from India). As I understand it India is one of the nations of brown people known for it’s history with white European imperialism and colonization. Maybe this has something to do with it? There just has to be a reason why he has yet to make a film where a person of color is the main character.

The American mainstream film industry needs to die a hard, painful death. I give up.

*sigh*,

Queenly

Three Memories of Laurell K. Hamilton/Anita Blake I’d Like to Share

See? I can do more than criticize, lol. (yeah, right)

Anime enters her mind

I was absurdly, ridiculously happy when Anita said something about Nicky’s hair hanging in his face making him look like “an anime character” in Bullet.

Anita’s Penguins: A Love Story

I visited a Borders that was closing down and spent a lot of my mom’s money. I came across a little bookmark with penguins assembled on the ice and a little penguin hanging off the tassel. I got it, smiling, as I thought of Anita and her stuffed animals and all the penguin paraphernalia she’s evergotten from Jean-Claude as gifts.

Now what’d I do with it…?

‘The Harlequin’ book signing in Atlanta

I was in Seattle at the time, dealing with the undergrad life. I told my mom to get me the book from the store as a present and my sister with me. Who happened to be there? Laurell K. Hamilton doing a signing. I wanted Jean-Claude’s quote, ‘One lives in hope’ signed in my copy. My sister’s phone was dying and she had just enough power left to turn it on and hear the message I left her saying what I wanted Laurell to sign. What I said in my message is not what my sister heard.

She got the book autographed and told me later that Laurell was “a really pretty white lady”.

To this day, every time I think of it or look in the cover of my copy of The Harlequin I nearly cry in embarrassment. It reads in Laurell’s decent handwriting so confidently: ‘One lives and hopes’.

And the worst part about it is that I think Laurell knew because my sister told me that she asked, “Are you sure?” before signing it!

Really,

Ms. Queenly

Laurell K. Hamilton: Admiration is the furthest thing from understanding?

I’m tough to please in most arenas. I know that. I don’t settle. And I know that.

I stopped by and read the background bit/bio written by Laurell K. Hamilton about herself. As much as I criticize and sometime even loathe the Anita Blake series, I can’t help but admire this author. I realized it as I was reading and couldn’t help but smile.

She’s one writer that I can honestly say is published for a good reason. She has skill. She’s talented.

I am kind of disturbed by her track record in horror, as outlined in the ‘Laurell’ section on her website. I know sometimes Anita does things to creep people out in a show of power and I wonder about the information Hamilton selected to place in her biography. All the physical, psychological, and sexual violence the in ABVH series, plus her history in the horror genre (what she’s said she started out writing) makes me wonder about her being a sociopath herself. I believe this kind of writing has an effect on the mind and spirit and, to say the least, I find her writing “track record”…disturbing, kind of inhumane, and…frankly…creeeeepy.

But, then again, I think the same thing about Stephen King. What kind of person writes this stuff, you know?

Even so, I don’t know if I’ll ever make as big as her, but I love how she has shown everybody who ever said she wouldn’t make that they’re a bunch of fucking liars and I take heart in her success. I wonder if I’ll ever look back on all the people who said I wouldn’t/couldn’t make it with my writing style and energy and go “Muhahaha!”

I don’t want to follow her on my new Twitter buuut…I’m thinking about it, to be honest, just to show a little support (though she has enough of that, that’s why she’s still publishing). I also don’t want to overpraise her either. There’s definitely some stuff about her books that get on my nerves, for sure, and I talk about it extensively here. Call it bitchin’ and moanin’, whatever it is to whoever, I do my best.

for real honest,

Queen

Concepts of Vampires

DISCLAIMER: I know that vampires are a fad right now but I’ve been thinking about this for years.

What I’ve noticed about portrayals of vampires in media and fiction-writing is that most writers choose a type of vampire to portray. Over the years, after having read and seen much paranormal fiction, there is a common concept of a vampire and what that means and looks like; most of the time, pale, pasty, white, European, blood-sucking, holy-object allergic, coffin-dwelling, sunlight-evading,vicious, below-normal-body-temperature, and sometimes bearing varying levels of preternatural powers/abilities.

Offhand, I can think of several blood-drinking varieties that I am familiar with and what works they hail from: Christine Feehan (her Carpathians novels and related works), Laurell K. Hamilton (primarily the Anita Blake stuff), Anne Rice (my first cover to cover was Vittorio the Vampire), the ones in Night Prayers (by P.D. Cacek); Young Adult (YA) stuff like The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause, Look for Me By Moonlight by Mary Downing Hahn, Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde; manga and anime like Vampire Hunter D, Blood the Last Vampire, Vampire Knight, and Vassalord (one of my favs); films like 30 Days of Night, Queen of the Damned, I Am Legend, Underworld, Cirque du Freak,  Dracula 2000, Bordello of Blood (maybe I shouldn’t mention it…), Bram Stroker’s Dracula, a host of the classics thanks to my mom, and, I hate to mention it, Twilight (haven’t seen or read it, I refuse to actually, but I did watch Vampires Suck, lol, lol); and some from historical romance and contemporary paranormal romance novels too numerous to name (including but not limited to Teresa Medeiros and J. R. Ward *ewws*). You cannot forget that among the greatest vampire movies, I must add, are the Blade movies (though I have my issues with that Wesley Snipes after I found out about him abusing Halley Berry during their relationship, so disappointed) if only because the main vampire is Black and so very badass. Also there’s Vampire in Brooklyn, with Eddie Murphy (another problematic Black male celebrity/actor/comedian) though it seems to me that this movie is often forgotten (and maybe for good reason…?).

Laurell K. Hamilton’s ABHV series is probably one of the most interesting and ongoing paranormal series I have ever read though portrayals of people of color lycans and vampires and women frustrate me to no end; Hamilton is in no way free of guilt  in typecasting Black characters or excluding them altogether from the ABHV books in her heavy-handed exaggeration and perception of overrated white beauty. With the exception of Blade, most of the Black vampires I have ever read or seen are portrayed as villains or sidekick-movie extra-flunkies; this is true of both Eddie Murphy in Vampire in Brooklyn and Aaliyah as Akasha in Queen of the Damned (in the case of villains).

The only book I own that is about Black vampires is an anthology entitled Dark Thirst edited by Angela C. Allen. Out of fear of being disappointed, I never finished reading it and have had it for years. The tag on the front is by Tananarive Due and reads, “A shot of blood with a twist… Vampire mythology has crossed the color line for good.” I don’t really know how true that is and I have my doubts. Not enough published Black writers are on the market producing quality paranormal fiction. Paranormal fiction just seems beyond the Black imagination and as a paranormal/general literary fiction writer, I find that disappointing. At least it’s not very common or popular in the community as I know it. Are Black characters so poorly portrayed by writers like Laurell K. Hamilton because we as Black people do not imagine ourselves in this realm, or do we as a community view vampire stories as for “white folks” like so many other genres of writing and art? Are some things just plain anachronistic and countercultural to Black people that it manifests itself in their work which floods the writer’s market while Black writing remains a small, underrepresented, underfunded, and neglected niche? Or do most white writers just have a screwed up racist perception of Black people? I’ll write another in-depth post about this soon.

I am fascinated by all the types of vampires I’ve read about and seen, both the classical/quintessential and the newly crafted. I am particularly interested in the ones I myself am developing. I hope someday not to have to choose between the types when writing paranormal vampire work and am crafting a world where they all exist simultaneously. Sounds exciting, complicated, and like a lot of pints of blood, yes? ^_^

ever more creative,

Ms. Queenly

Toying with Whitness and ‘darkness’

Elia's Diamonds

One of the few books I ever pick up anymore is Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series–and that’s saying something. As I get older, my tastes become more specific. I am less amused by the things that occupied me as a child and as a young adult, percieving them as a semi-exciting maze that has no other paths and leads eventually, always, to the same damn dead end produced by the publishing market.

This being said, I have yet to write about in detail Laurell K. Hamilton’s fixation, like most racist fetishist participating in racialized fetishism on the page, with paleness and whiteness as opposed to brownness and the so-called ‘darkness’. Hamilton’s Anita Blake is caught up in the racialized dualism of ‘darkness; and whiteness with little to no middle ground. I will suspend my belief in the concept of the willful muse to go so far as to say that Laurell K. Hamilton herself is trapped in the same dualism, seeing as how Anita comes out of her head: Anita is a reflection of the author’s own psyche.

Through Anita, Hamilton toys with the idea of brownness through summer tans and suggestions of “darker heritage’, but couches the entire story from the prospective of a woman who is half white and middleclass, with an angelic deceased Latina mother, a mean strict Catholic Latina grandmother, surrounded by her white lovers–a score of men telling her how beautful she is mostly because the women around her are either victims, “meat” for abuse and weak, tarts that just wanna start something with Anita, resources for Anita to learn for and therefore do not appear often (and nor are they called upon by Anita as allies regularly), or more evil, sadistic, and scary than Anita is and, therefore, must be killed. Examples are Vivian, Raina, the Mother of All Darkness, Jade, Belle Morte, Cherry, and so on and so forth. Infrequent characters like Sylvie (victimized by Hamilton as well) and Claudia being the exception (and still white and blond at that).

Hamilton spends all this time, all sixteen or so books, establishing Anita as a woman whose beauty lies merely in the suggestion of her ‘darker heritage’, when she herself is pasty pale, petite, and curly-haired and might as well be white. She toys with the idea of ‘darkness’ while never really presenting anybody besides minor characters like Raphael and Jamil as truly “dark” or ethnic, whatever that may mean. What is the (political) point of even building and portraying Anita as half Latina when she’s just going to play with the idea of her being Latina? You could easily swap her out for a white girl and there wouldn’t be that much of a difference. There’s no point in emphasizing her Latina heritage if all her worth is couched in her pale white skin. Her Latina blood is just something to eroticize and exotify.

Shoot, the only thing that’s Latina about Anita, as my friend who is Mexican would say, is her hair. Believe it.

I am sick of writers and the media couching racial commentary in multiracial and biracial terms, as if this is the only perspective valid enough to be represented because whites are more accepting of someone who is half white. Of course, not everyone who is multiracial or biracial is half white, that’s a given, but that’s the most common “combination” that gets recognized and fetishized.

Laurell K. Hamilton uses biraciality as a spring board to toy with color and brownness when in reality there are no main characters who are people of color. Everything and everyone is seamlessly and technically white. Everybody is white, even Anita, at the very least physically. And I think its because LKH knows that a person, particularly a woman, who is truly ethnically brown, or dare I say, Black even, would stick out like a sore thumb with all those pretty, pale, white Europeans that she’s crowded this story with.

Ever more real,

Ms. Queenly

Literary Fiction v. Other Genre Fiction

Elia's Diamonds

So I was reflecting after being attacked by some of J.R. Ward’s fans, admins, and moderators on her message boards about the difference in readers’ minds between literary fiction and other types of genre fiction. Actually, I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time, since when I decided I wanted to write for a living someday when I was a child.

Since my experiences on J.R. Ward’s message boards are the most recent, she is the author I will use as an example.

One of the arguments launched at me when I seriously critiqued Ward’s race, class, and gender issues in her Black Dagger Brotherhood series was the idea that this paranormal romance/”urban fantasy” (questionable) series was not meant for literary criticism on the academic level. They claim that it is FICTION and NOT LITERARY FICTION, and that constitutes the difference between the two. Is there really a difference?

I would disagree with that.

Seeing as how this white author is crossing into dangerous racial territory with her characterization and portrals of “The Moors”, her appropriation of rap culture and by extension Black culture, and her own admission that she “enjoys” rap, I think this very much needs to be discussed on the academic level. Ward has been defended by her fans and message board staff for partaking of her 1 st Amendment rights and engaging in fictional/creative and artistic license.

As a white, supposedly privileged woman who “work[ed] in healthcare in Boston and spent many years as Chief of Staff of one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation” (quote taken from www.jrward.com, author profile), what responsibility does she have to her readers of color, particularly her Black readers? Doesn’t she have the responsibilty of not appropriating their culture and stereotyping them under the guise of “artistic license”?

Most people would ask why I’m taking a romance novel so seriously. Its not “literary fiction”, Ward’s fans say. To that I would ask them to consider the stereotypes being propagated about Black people in Ward’s portrals of Trez and iAm. Then I would ask them to ask themselves two questions: Is it okay to marginalize and stereotype Black people in the white imagination then put it on the page? What really gives an artist, especially a white writer in my opinion, the “right” to do that and who gave them that right?

Because Ward’s series falls under paranormal fiction and not “literary fiction”, I should ignore her racist/racialized portrayal of Black people and appropriation of Black culture through rap culture?

I would argue that all forms of writing are important and if we want to move towards a more socially just society and towards an idea of global justice, then we need to stop discounting one form of literature or one form of art as more important and worthy of criticism, consideration, and praise than the next. In our communities, then we, as a nation, need to make a move towards an understanding that no one person’s “right” to “fictional”, “creative”, and “artistic” “license” should propagate racism and sexism and the maginalization and oppression of a peoples in any arena of literature and in American society as whole and beyond.

Le Cliche au France

[Originally posted to my new writing blog @ Cradle of Cicadas. Hope to get more of my creative writing posted there. I sometimes think I really don’t have the tact or patience for political writing so creative writing is really my forte.]

Artist’s Note: Recently I was thinking about a critique I wrote on the top ten things I just could not stand about Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series which I really enjoyed when I first started reading. Someone commented rather scornfully on the fact that I said that hearing French sometimes makes me almost literally ill in the same sentence that I “complained” about racism in the books. I can never make anyone understand why I feel the way I do or think the way I think because they are not me and have not lived my life.  That doesn’t stop me from writing.

Le Cliche au France

did you know? did you know?

they whispered sweet nothings

in the ears of slaves

promising revolution

to white sheets

instead of hands in the fields

and Black women whose

children sometimes

belonged to masters

who impregnated

unwilling bodies

with sensual tongues

and fondling hands

did you hear? did you hear?

Haiti the Horse

dropped her french master’s load

and demanded freedom

so he told her

in the world’s most romantic language

“of course you may have your independence

however you must pay me for the labor you have

taken from me”

the english that my mouth speaks

is called “dialect”

called broken

called uneducated

my english

isn’t really considered english

because it isn’t the queen’s

or plymouth rock’s

nor is it flowery

and nor does it roll its rrrr’s

or rise from the grave of antiquity

if it isn’t worth anything

then why is my tongue constantly

colonized by the color of white skin

and silenced

by mixed skin

and colored skin

they say french

is the most romantic language

the language of love

yet a french tongue

can still speak white

and speak hate

with chains and flowers

and bloody wine

its a well-documented history

in spite of the revolution

and I’m still a Black woman

wherever I happen to go

no matter who I’m talking to

so when french tongues speak

i may find it soft and pleasing on the ear

but i still get a little sick inside

and don’t think anything special

because i know that this tongue

has made me wear chains

just like the tongue of the colonizer

in my own mouth

The Black “Gurrlfriend” Character

You’ve seen her before. You know who she is. Read what I think about this stereotype of Black women in pop media and literature.

Queenly

You know who she is.

You’ve seen her before.

She’s in movies with a mostly white cast or books chocked full of white characters. She is normally married to a white man or is the best friend of a white girl or running in a clique of white and/or wealthy girls (she may even be a snob herself). And even when she’s married to, dating, or in some type of relationship with another Black person or person of color they are the only “colored” people around.

She’s loud. She wears hoop earrings, braids (or heaven forbid unnaturally straight hair or weave usually dyed blond or some shade of blond), some form of typical/atypical ethnic hairstyle, tight pants, short skirts, and low cut, belly-exposing tops. Animal print something is near her (handbag, purse, nails, blankets, sheets, cell phone, earrings, jacket/coat) or there’s an actual live “exotic” animal near her. She dances, sings, cooks, does hair, chauffeurs, is a nanny maid (usually has a close master-slave family relationship with her non-Black employer), and/or makes crass jokes. She is portrayed as wild and exotic, an African mistress, a full-figured fertility goddess abundant in love, maternity, and bosom. She’s a hypersexual animal–rwarrr! She’s a professional dressed in a two-piece suit, middleclass, college educated, frigid bitch with no knowledge of her people’s past–classy not ghetto. Increasingly, she’s Black but she’s mixed with white or something else–the best of both worlds. She’s a prostitute, a mistress, a fast food worker she’s a victim to be used as an example for the author, director, or artist’s white main characters. She’s the only Black woman in the horror movie and she usually dies–very quickly so no one cares or very violently (sometimes like all the other losers in the film or worse than them). She is sometimes promiscuous and/or flirtatious and most likely has children–sometimes several children. If she’s in a comic, manga, cartoon, or anime she’s scantily clad, showing her breasts, legs ass, hips, and thighs and anything else she can put on display; she has big oftentimes glossy lips lots of jewelry and she has music notes inside of speech bubbles. Oftentimes, she is portrayed as violent or plain “gung ho” in the best or worst of situations.

She is the “friend” who says something soulful and inspirational right when her white or “Asian” [term used both cautiously and sarcastically] friend needs it most. But, most of all, she is NEVER the main character. She may only have one or two lines but she always says what her non-Black friend needs to hear most because she is bumbumbum–THE BLACK GIRLFRIEND CHARACTER!!!

Sistas, beware! This stereotype is dangerous. It appears in many different forms and all types of media especially now that America has a “Black president” . White America is now increasingly interested once again in the existence of Black peoples and how the Black folks operate. Books, ads, commercials, movies, daily television, music videos, porn, radio–you name it, she’s probably there. The Black Girlfriend Character or archetype never sleeps.

There was once a time when I would have given anything to see a Black female character in the mainstream but now I’m not so sure I like what I see. Black women are at the bottom of “racial heap” at no fault really of their own but because of a history that continuously and systemically tries to destroy everything that we are through our bodies and the bodies of the women and children around them. We are so much more than stereotypes allow us to be, especially when those stereotypes are being perpetuated outside of ourselves and our communities.

Can we even hope for a better tomorrow?

Though I do try not to be aware of it, but I both hope and expect. More to come on the topic….

*snap* Gurrlfriend!

Ms. Queenly

[Originally posted to Ms. Queenly’s Blog here.]