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February 2021
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April 2021

Makeover Games are Conspiracies

OK, so I know I said I was going to reduce playing games on my phone (and I AM! Really, I am,) however, at the reduced, allotted times I DO play I have been increasingly disturbed by the ads for other games that are playing on my game. (You followed that, right?) Especially the ads for Makeover Games.

I really feel like that should be followed with a dun dun DA! Or at least said in a voice of doom.   

These games' storylines center around girls receiving makeovers so they can catch the guy's attention. The girls in the ads are always mocked by other people and are shown as miserable until they get their makeover. In one of the games, the character is shown over and over getting dressed and then her male counterpoint judges whether she is dressed appropriately. The makeovers focus on getting rid of body hair, wearing certain types of makeup and clothes (anything outside a certain parameter is deemed a "fashion emergency"), putting on heels, etc. in a very narrow range of what is acceptable.  So... not only are the games teaching messages to girls that they are and should be judged on their appearance, then, the player herself, gets judged by the game on whether she did the makeover correctly? What. The. Fuck?

I took a moment when I first saw these ads to check myself. Perhaps, these ads are misleading and they're just to get people to download? Perhaps, there are other storylines in the games? But then I kept seeing ads for other games along the same lines.  Frankly, the ads are so off-putting I have yet to download one. I ALMOST downloaded one, just to check it out. Impartial journalism and all. But then I read the comments and many of them reiterated the sexist themes played out in the ads and more than one mentioned how the characters are told to get rid of their glasses! 

(Oh no. You don't fuck with glasses!)

One of the most disturbing things... almost all of these games are labeled for 4 years and up. I thought that we were in a new era of women empowerment? I thought we had left some of this crap behind. So why the hell are outdated, sexist, and repressive games popping up that are targeted to little girls, tweens, and teens?! Is this payback from some weird segment trying to hold onto patriarchal power? An intentional undermining? Because somehow this feels a bit like when the women's movement started to get rolling in the 60s and 70s, and suddenly there was ALSO a huge explosion in porn. (OK, ladies, you can go to work! But you're all nymphos or ball busters and no one will take you seriously.) But these games are worse because they are targeting children. The ads, in fact, tell girls that these are the type of games (and attention) they're supposed to want, even if they don't actually play them. It's conditioning them in restrictive stereotypes on multiple levels. And it's also conditioning them to normalize judgement in all its unhealthy glory.

So I have to ask... are there companies out there so fearful that the future is female that they have to tell five-year-olds they'll never be happy unless they dress a certain way?

I'm not paranoid if it's true.    


New Methods to Shake Up Old Writing Habits

Remember about a month and a half ago when I finished my last book and I was trying to channel all my productive momentum into the next project? Well, I failed. I stumbled around, flailing my arms, jumping from project to project, trying to stave off “the crash” but, inevitably, the crash came. I was mentally and creatively exhausted. I would start projects and then stare blankly into space, my mind refusing to budge beyond the vaguest of plans. I could do research fine but implementing creativity wasn’t working. But I kept fighting it! I thought, if I just keep plugging away it will all click eventually. But it didn’t. Finally, I had a long hard talk with myself and… took a break.

Whew! I feel so much better.

Now I’m ready to get back into the game. However, I realize I may need to shake things up a bit. This pandemic year has instilled some good habits and some bad habits. (Thank you James Clear!) At this point in my writing journey, I’m good about sitting down to write at least once a day, every day. However, I’m great at playing stupid crap on my phone ten times a day! This seems like it should be flipped, no?

So, I’m trying something a little new. (Besides the whole plotting thing. I’m still working on that.) First, I set a timer on my phone for 20 minutes. I’ve realized I can get a lot done in 20 minutes chunks. I can do a laundry. I can paint a little. I can write 200-300 words. AND I feel satisfied by what I did in those 20 minutes, too! Therefore, 20 minutes of game play on my phone should be plenty. I’m also resolving to not play anything on my phone until the evening.

Second, I set up four alarms on my phone. Four times a day a special alarm rings and I sit down to write. It doesn’t matter what I write, as long as I’m writing. Four times I show up at my computer. Four times a day that should work with all my zoom schedules. For instance, I generally have meetings at 11:00, 4:00, or 6:00(ish). I set up alarms for 10:00, 12:00, 3:00, and 7:00.  I’m writing this during my 12:00 slot right now. 7:00 has traditionally been my go-to writing time. 10:00 will make me take a shower sooner (damn you, pandemic schedule)! (I mean, that didn’t work out today, I’m still in my pajamas, but in theory it should.) 3:00 is to work through the afternoon slump.  

Yes, I realize this will take discipline, and I might not make all four writing slots every day, but 2-3 times is still more than once, right? What I’m really hoping for is that I’ll hear the alarm and it will build the desire to write/be creative over picking up my phone. I know, I know, cold turkey doesn’t generally work, but I’m both highly motivated AND I’m at the point where I sick to death of every game on my phone except one, so I figure the opportunity is there. Fingers crossed.

What kind of changes do you make when you really need to shake things up?

Bullshit Butt

I just spent two and a half hours planting flowers. I kept waiting for winter rains to start here and it just hasn't happened (worrisome given our wildfires), so I finally went out front and filled in the scraggly, empty patches in my flower beds that, when it's raining cats and dogs, I AM PERFECTLY JUSTIFIED TO IGNORE! But, no rain, no justification, so off to plant I went.  

Sooooo... you know those TV shows and movies that always have some elderly lady happily gardening in her front yard? Like, almost every time you see her she's in her garden? Gardening all day, happy happy happy? I call bullshit on those images!  First of all, I know I'm getting older and I'm nowhere near elderly, however, I can no longer garden for long periods of time without seriously hurting! Like really, I should be doing an hour at a time tops, especially if it's heavy duty work.  My ass is already in pain from the stint I did today and that was "gentle" gardening. I'm sitting on a heat pad and just took two Aleve! 

Second, knees. Bending. Squatting. Getting up, getting down. I think people pay to have workouts like this. (Not me!) I basically hurt from my butt all the way down my legs.

Third! Those ladies are always adorably outfitted in light spring colors, with coordinating gloves! Sometimes, they are even wearing white pants. WHITE PANTS! Like grass and soil don't even exist! 

Fourth, I had dirt in my hair! Also, up my arms, all over my pants, and a smidge got up my nose. (Post-gardening tissue blow, am I right?) I wasn't throwing dirt around either, or shoveling, or tossing sod. I was sitting on a pad on the ground, planting flowers from a pack. Small flowers! I only had to dig small holes! My gardening gloves were covered in damp mud. Have you ever seen one of those gardening grannies on TV with muddy gloves? No. They're always perfectly pristine, in cute floral fabrics. Not, NOT dirt encrusted, stiff suckers that the rest of use. I mean, I know it's Hollywood, I KNOW it's all made up, but seriously people, have you never seen someone garden before?

I love my garden. I'm not going to stop gardening; I am perfectly aware of what's physically doable for me as I age. But geez, I'd just like to see a realistic version of life once in a while! Stop pressuring me with your images of pristine, elderly ladies who apparently kick ass in the garden! 

Show me a granny with an ice pack and pain killers, or better yet, a gardener, and we can enjoy our flowers together. Tired but realistically happy.  

That is all.