1. Roz's great trip up North, in which I saw seven or eight friends in four days and managed to behave badly in three cities.
I had been asked up to Ladyfest Manchester to perform as part of a panel on trans-inclusivity, that old, old question of whether feminists ought to put up with trans-women in safe spaces and so on.
The other transwoman on the panel, Jenny, is a bit born-again on the issue, to an extent that makes me look like a raving trans nationalist, which forced me to do some serious thinking on the hoof.
I decided that what I believe is that there is a useful distinction to be made between spaces and services. There is perhaps a case that those women who really cannot cope with trans people have a right to disappear into their own space to bitch and moan about us without us demanding access to that space - though this is not a case that anyone would make were we black or Asian and they were white. I have had to put up with enough transphobia in my lifetime that I would never expose myself to more if I could help it.
On the other hand, most actually existing exclusion is also a matter of denying trans people services. Those rape crisis centres that will not help trans people, for example, are discriminating between victims of rape in a thoroughly invidious way; that course for women motor mechanics that excluded transwomen on the specious grounds that they could train with the men was obviously discriminating in a way which denies human rights and equality. Various women's spaces that exclude trans people are clearly in breach of the law as it now stands and need to ask their own consciences if this is appropriate.
Jenny argued that such exclusions were justified by the poor socialization of some trans women. This is not an argument that anyone would accept in the case of other groups, and the fact that some places make exceptions for those trans women they find acceptable is an odd mixture of 'some of my best friends are' tokenism and something even creepier. I am not going to critique Jenny's position at length here, because she is not an lj person and so cannot argue back.
What was heartening was mostly that we were having the discussion at all, and that most of the women there were taking it for granted that those spaces which exclude should stop.
Apart from that, there was the heartening experience of meeting a lot of bright young women who were feminists and dykes and, yes, quite a lot of them Buffy fans, and listening to some really good bands and only getting claustrophobic in the music space some of the time.
I got to steal the bed of one of the organizers, Claire, and did not feel even a bit guilty - just too old for floors.
So then I met up with Paul and Jeremy for lunch in Canal Street and got mocked for treating the entire North as if it were the London tube map, which was actually fair comment because I left them and jumped on a train to Leeds. Where I hung with Matthew, whom I only knew on the phone before, and waited for Karen to turn up, who did the really good essay on space in RtVS1 and has rewritten it, even better, for RtVS2, which btw is definitely going to hit the shops in December. So we talked about slash and RPGs and alternate worlds and ate excellent home-made quiche until my sister Jane collected me.
My nephew is just about to go up to Lincoln to do media studies, so the late night that ensued turned into a bit of a film-fest - he knows all the stuff about movies and television that I have had to struggle to teach myself, damn his eyes. The rest of the family slept in and so Jane and I got to play each other music most of the morning and coo over various things we did not know already. Given she plays a lot of Latin jazz, it was a treat to play Piazzola's 'Maria de Buenos Aires' at her and be able to talk about the nueva tango; I really love showing off, which is one of my worst traits as well as the source of much of what is OK about me.
Then I went off to Sheffield and met up with Jo, who was a colleague in the Civil Service thirty years ago, and turned up on line a year or so ago, before staying with Mike and Jacky, old old friends from sf fandom. Mike indeed brought me into sf fandom one bright morning by ringing me from a con at Heathrow asking me to do a mercy dash with picnic supplies for people who could not afford the hotel's snack prices.
Monday was back to Manchester and lunch with alexdollard who had never before met a netfriend in the flesh, bless her. We talked about her thesis on epic fantasy, about slash, about the way that master-servant relationships inevitably get eroticized retrospectively -we have to read Frodo and Sam as an item, because their relationship no longer makes any other sense to us, and maybe we are being perverse and maybe we are being perceptive.
Not a show I ever much liked, but watched carefully from the beginning shows some signs of being more interesting than I thought on random dips in. One absolutely chilling moment - sweet little Trance chops a hunk off a bonsai and we realize that this is how she sees alternate times and destinies and that she is much more manipulative, much more a player, than we have ever known. I suspect it doesn't all live up to that, but I am going to enjoy finding out, thanks to my friend Marcus, who lent me the whole of Season One.
Cypher, which is perfectly fine, though the character name Jake Thursby is a silly piece of reference - Thursby is a guy mentioned in the novel 'The Maltese Falcon' who changed his life in order to live in a different suburb...
Swimming Pool, which was partly notable for letting me fancy Charlotte Rampling. I lust after women even older than me, as well as sweet young things - thank god, not a pervert after all. It was also notable for the idiocy of most reviewers who failed to realize that almost everything that happens, doesn't happen. The reason it looks like a crude version of cold Brit spinster loosening in hot French summer is that it is just that - the novel a mediocre thriller writer is working on after thinking of a plot bunny on the train. The deeply slashy relationship with the younger woman, the sinister midget woman, the doomed waiter - these are trashy because she is not a good writer. I wasn't over the moon about the film, which was more ingenious than good, but I was amazed at how totally most people - though not my friend Other Neil- missed the point.
Spirited Away, which was sweet and beautiful and almost entirely original.
Belleville Rendezvous - this was a weekend with two great animated films in it. Belleville Rendezvous is a French animator being rude about France and even ruder about the USA - it has almost no dialogue and is quite bizarre. Granny and dog search for kidnapped cyclist who is being forced to re-enact the Tour de France in a cellar for Mafia gamblers and they are helped by the French equivalent of the Andrews Sisters, who have become mad old bats who live on stews of frogs they hunt with hand grenades. Almost everything in the film has a pay-off sooner or later, in insane troll logic ways.
American Pie - the Wedding, I had to see this for the teen movie book - I more or less guessed it was going to be The Redemption of Stiffler, because that is the logic of the other films' themes. Given that they clearly only had Alyson Hannigan for about a third of the shooting, it had to focus on the boys - and some of it is very crass and some of it is quite brilliantly funny enough to redeem it from the shit-eating joke and such like things.
Well, that is not nearly enough, but sleepiness looms.