Flip Through

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Things I said while watching A Christmas Story (2011 edition)

  • I wonder if Peter Billingsley knows he's going to grow up and produce Jon Favreau movies.
  • Hmm, Ralphie is a terrible friend.
  • I wonder if Randy knows he's going to grow up to be a stoner.
  • I wonder if Zack Ward knows he's going to grow up to be rather handsome, and if that makes up for having successfully answered a casting call for "Ugly child, aged 11-13. Terrible teeth. Preferably ginger."
  • HOW DO PEOPLE NOT LOVE THIS FILM OMG SOAP POISONING
  • Except for the parts where the only black people are villains and the Chinese people are racist stereotypes. How come one Chinese man can pronounce 'R' and the others can't?
  • I wonder if the aviator goggles kid who likes The Wizard of Oz knows he's going to grow up to be a child molester.
  • BLUE BALLS HAHAHAHAHA HOW DID I MISS THAT AS A KID

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Whew, I never post anymore

I guess it's being in a new place--normally that would be exciting and cool and I'd be all over the place discovering things and having lots to post about, but I'm as broke as a very broke thing and have only ventured free places (like the park) and anyway the stress of trying to find a job has made me not very pleasant to be around.

Anyway...Here are some true things.

The thing that my manfriend and I argue about most frequently is Glengarry Glen Ross. He wants me to watch it, I don't.

Raspberry jam is the best jam. With seeds in, naturally.

The new Batman might make you fear owls.

Driving in snow is less fun than you might imagine.

If I ran a chain of nerd-themed brothels, they would be called Eroticon 1-5.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

These are a few of my favorite (holiday) things

Despite being a horrible Baby-Jesus-hating atheist pagan feminazi, I kind of love the winter holiday season. These are some of the reasons why.

The Snowman: a lovely little movie made from the book by Raymond Briggs, The Snowman is hands-down my favorite Christmas movie. Find the version with David Bowie's introduction if you can!


A Midwinter Night's Dream: Loreena McKennitt's first holiday album. This CD features both original songs and beautiful renditions of carols and hymns; her version of "The Holly and the Ivy" is my favorite of any.

Christmas trees made out of books: Like so.

The opportunity to buy my youngest cousin books: She reads like it's going out of style, which I suppose it is. This year she's getting two excellent tomes from two excellent authors, Karen Healey and Bryan Q. Miller (Rachel, you better not be reading this)!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Body Appreciation Sunday: Some nerve!

Nerves are a good thing. They tell us when something delicious is baking in the kitchen, when the music's too loud, when someone is touching us just right. And they register heat...and cold.

Oh yes. Cold. My poor nerves are probably wondering if I hate them; otherwise why would I expose them to such strange, bleak temperatures all of a sudden? Well, brace yourself, nerves, because it's going to get worse before it gets better. 28 degrees? It's only snowed twice so far and it's only December. I promise to wrap up in hats and scarves and gloves, and I promise I'll go inside before my extremities start to freeze.

Just let me finish this wander around the park. We never had real parks at home, nerves, we must take advantage! Even if it's very, very cold out. Even if there are tiny flakes of white stuff falling on our head.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Cracked-out music theory #54

Theory: Adam Levine is trying to get into Ke$ha's pants.

Evidence: He claims he's "got the moves like Jagger," while she warns that she "kick[s] 'em to the curb/unless they look like Mick Jagger."

Verdict: Keep making songs with Gym Class Heroes, Adam. They're better.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Body Appreciation Monday: Elbows

I like elbows. They hurt worse than pretty much any other body part when you whack them, but other than that they're pretty cool: they're interestingly shaped, useful as props, and the closest thing the human body has to a natural weapon. I especially appreciate that last function, because here's the thing: doom metal fans are much less polite than power metal fans.

Happily enough, my move to Ohio was inaugurated by a Sword concert in Columbus, a mere 2.5 hours away from Cleveland (I am continually shocked and pleased by how close things are to each other up here). Now I have been waiting to see The Sword live for five years--since they were in Tampa last and played at the skatepark and I had to work that night--and so I was leapingly, terrifically happy when I heard they were going to be nearby. It was a very nice night: there was a bar conveniently close to the venue where I tried out the local IPA (good!), I met two very pleasant young men who happen to also work in libraries, and The Sword is undeniably epic live. There is nothing quite like hearing a band perform the first song of theirs that you loved; in my case, that was "The Horned Goddess." J.D. Cronise had on a Rush t-shirt, the band's demonic touring drummer is demonic, Kyle Shutt winked at me when I walked up to buy tickets before the show, and, well, "Iron Swan" for an encore? FUCK and YES. For Seventies-drenched bellbottom'd rifftastic stoner metal, there isn't a group currently touring better than The Sword.


But yeah...doom metal fans. They like to mosh. Which is fine, because I enjoy elbowing people. Everyone wins!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy birthday, Greg Rucka!

Today is Greg Rucka's birthday, and I would be a bad fan and quite remiss if I didn't shout out my favorite comic book writer. He has written many of my best-beloved heroines, including Wonder Woman, Batwoman, the Question, Tara Chace, Huntress, Black Widow, and more. His talent is legendary and rightfully so.



So blessings and many happy returns, Greg! You continue to give me and thousands of other fans great joy.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Body Appreciation Sunday: Roots

First there was Waldenbooks (remember them?)--a tiny outlet in a mall already beginning to be run down, where I wandered in the speculative fiction aisle, touching the spines of books I didn't have money to buy yet: Green Rider, The Glassmaker's Apprentice, Vector Prime. My money had to be strictly reserved for Animorphs books, a new one nearly every month.

Then there was the brand-new Barnes and Noble, the biggest bookstore I'd ever seen, bursting with more books than even the library had. I hoarded money earned from digging weeds and cleaning the pool. I replaced my falling-apart copy of Little House on the Prairie. I bought All Over but the Shoutin' and The Handmaid's Tale for school. I stared at the strange new menu of coffee drinks which my friends bought, while I stuck to hot chocolate.

Then there were six years of discovering the joys of small, non-chain bookstores, of ferreting through narrow aisles of used books and giving my money to local business. There was Inkwood and Mojo and Wilson's, weird little stores crowded and crossed with interesting things (Dancing With Cats? Taxidermy Step by Step?), and my bookshelves at home exploded. A Wizard of Earthsea. Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. Six nearly-mint volumes of 100 Bullets. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Keep the Aspidistra Flying.

And now here I am, a brand-new city unfurled around me, and my great fortune is to discover Visible Voice, a beautiful bookstore in a beautiful neighborhood, a meandering shop whose exterior is shrouded in fallen leaves and bears the legend "Resist much, obey little," and whose interior is just bright enough and just wide enough and just welcoming enough. I can feel my roots going into this new Ohio soil already.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tales from the interstate

IT LIVES.

Yes, dear readers, it's true--I have returned. And here, in a nutshell, is my experience of a few of our Union's states.

  • The stretch between Ocala and the Georgia border in Florida is a Cthulhu-forsaken wasteland of anti-choice billboards and strip joints.
  • Athens, GA remains adorable and full of good food and beer. Given its size, I know a disproportionately large amount of people living there who are mostly unconnected to one another (seven, at last count)
  • Asheville, NC is downright magical. I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend Dobra Tea on Lexington, and Never Blue on Broadway. Three words: chocolate assam tea. Three more: mini meatloaf sandwiches.
  • Waynesville, NC is also pretty magical. North Carolina is forgiven for making me drive in Actual Falling Snow.
  • West Virginia seems to be a mostly awful place. Notable highlights: outrageous toll money on the turnpike, winding mountain roads with no lights, a bucolic scene of several kittens dragging a roadkill'd and/or still-alive unidentified animal across a street. Someone speak out in defense of West Virginia, please!
And, well. Now I'm in oHIo. Hire me, Cleveland companies!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Aaaagggghhhhhhh

There were weddings this weekend, and now I am moving. Count me out of this biz for at least a week.



I know, you'll all pine and balsam.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Surfacing

Yes, dear readers, this blogge has been a graveyard for the past few days. This is for a couple of reasons, among them that my beloved Tamora Pierce has a new book out and every spare minute between last Friday and today has been spent with my nose in it, and I'm still barely halfway through because it, like Aerin Dragon-killer, is so splendidly large.


Also people are getting married (not me) and getting ready to move (me).



Life happens sometimes.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

30 Characters Challenge

Each year when November rolls around I consider doing NaNoWriMo, and each year I discard that idea, because it isn't really the way I write. At all.

But this year, I am doing the 30 Characters Challenge. Draw or write character sketches for thirty new characters, one each day for the entire month, and ta-da! You have a library of characters to use in current or future projects.


If you'd like to take a gander at who I create this month (character profiles with inspiration images, since I can't draw a nice stick figure), my profile is here. There's already tons of amazing art and stories on the site.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Seriously?

This is deeply un-funny to me. Here are three reasons why.

1. It mocks a real, important campaign. This one, to be exact. USAmericans have a real problem with creating offensive Halloween costumes. Hello? Blackface is not ok. Sticking a feather in your hair, dashing on some red paint, and saying you're an "Indian princess" or, for fuck's sake, a "Poca-hottie" is NOT OK. People of color are PEOPLE, not costumes.

2. It fat-shames. Stereotypes abound regarding nerds as fat, pasty basement-dwellers completely sans social skills. This, like any stereotype about a group, is often inaccurate, and is yet another arm of our society's obsession with policing others' bodies. Think body shame doesn't touch nerd-dom? We're not immune.

3. The Doctor would never do this. On a totally petty, fannish, basic level--THE DOCTOR WOULD NOT DO THIS. This is not the MO of a thousands-year-old being who's literally seen everything. He's never met an unimportant person. He's a dick in many ways, but this ain't his brand.


Call me a humorless feminist, I do not care. There are millions of Halloween costumes in the world without needing to dip into abuse of cultures that have already been destroyed, ignored, bastardized, and stolen from. It's so easy to not be an racist asshole. All it takes is the tiniest bit of thought and absolutely no effort.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Body Appreciation Sunday: Imagination

"I don't know...I can imagine quite a bit!"

Thus spake one of the great men of our times, Han Solo. This line is somewhat of an adage for me; imagination is one of my favorite things about being human. It allows me to create visions in my mind, whether as mundane as what my manfriend is doing at the moment (carefully making green tea, wearing his superhero pajama pants and a Buzzo's t-shirt, and queuing up a DuckTales episode) or as magical as some of the characters in the current story I'm writing. Imagination is what gets me through the dreariest, quietest Friday night at work or a dentist appointment or renewing my driver's license. It is what creates dreams, daydreams, flights of fancy, nightmares, and woolgathering.


Halloween is a celebration which encourages the imagination and stimulates the subconscious. It is one of my best-beloved holidays: I love dressing up, candy, black cats, pumpkin beer, and scary stories and movies. Halloween means that, for a day or a night, you can be whatever you can imagine. Would that we could carry that particular spirit of Halloween with us always.



Friday, October 28, 2011

Film Fantasy Friday: We Have Always Lived in the Castle

It's Halloween weekend! That means I kinda have to do something in the horror realm for a would-be film today...and I've always been obsessed with Shirley Jackson, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle is my favorite of her novels, and so it goes. This story doesn't have a particularly large core cast, but it's one I would love to see made into a chilling, weird indie film.


Mary Katherine "Merricat" Blackwood: played by Mia Wasikowska, Merricat is the narrator of the story and a strange young woman, lover of deathcap mushrooms, her sister, her cat, and not much else. Since the death of her parents, she has made occasional forays into the village for grocery trips, but prefers to stay on the rambling family estate (which she protects via superstitions and sympathetic magic).



Constance Blackwood: played by Rosamund Pike, Constance is Merricat's older sister. She was tried for and acquitted of the murder of their parents many years previously. Her ostracism from the nearby village has left her with a penetrating agoraphobia.




Uncle Julian Blackwood: played by Christopher Plummer, Uncle Julian was also a victim of the Blackwood family poisoning years before, though he survived. He is demented, obsessively writing notes for his memoirs and talking about the murder with anyone who will listen.




Cousin Charles: played by Edward Norton, Charles comes to the Blackwood estate in search of his legacy, an event which touches off a fiery confrontation between him and the suspicious Merricat.


Have a wonderful Halloween, everyone. Pictures of my notably awesome Robin costume will be forthcoming.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hail Columbia (and happy Diwali)

This morning as I was running errands I got a phone call. Not recognizing the number, I let it ring and lo--there was a voicemail. Who could it be, Diana? I asked myself. Perhaps it's from a job you applied to in Cleveland! I opened my voicemail box to see.

It was a Mormon missionary. How do they still find me? I lamented. I changed my phone number! I moved to a different apartment! And then, in the middle of the message, the missionary's very polite voice said that she had met MY MOTHER in Salt Lake City during conference and was calling ON HER BEHALF.

Oh Mom, why you do this? It's been five years. I'm not coming back. Let it go...and don't give out my new phone number to Mormons. You can show your love in ways that don't involve LDS personnel calling me; in fact, just saying "I love you," as you do every time we talk, is enough.


This anecdote is a roundabout way of getting to the point: Hail Columbia. Hail Columbia is an initiative begun by pagan groups in order to remind people that, oh yes, here in the US we do have this thing called "freedom of religion." And the concepts of freedom and the US as a free land are handily personified in the figure of the goddess Columbia? So much the better! Minority religious and atheist/agnostic communities and people face a lot of garbage in the form of aggressive proselytizing, hate speech, and even legal measures which favor majority religious groups (read: Christians), much of which is outright lies. Hail Columbia aims to distribute information and coordinate marches, meetings, and demonstrations to "help re-affirm the idea set forth in our founding document: 'that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.'" There are currently coordinating groups in 26 of the 50 US states (no surprises, Utah doesn't have any yet). If you're interested in what this effort is about, check out the website's coordinators map to see if someone in your area is involved.



And on that note, it's Diwali! Best wishes of light, awareness, and clarity to Hindu, Jain, and Sikh readers out there.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Body Appreciation Monday: Mnemosyne

I dislike nostalgia, but I love memory; I like the way it works. No two people have the same memories of anything, and anything, from the taste of fish tacos to the smell of shea butter lotion to a particular song, can call up a shockingly specific memory.

The air at this time of year is dripping with memory. I've never been quite sure why that is, that winter air brings so much more with it than summer air. Maybe because Florida nearly always smells like summer, and rarely like winter.

Since I've graduated, I haven't spent much time on my university campus. I still live very close by, but I've rarely had a reason to be there. Lately, however, I've been going to the library for research reasons...and also just to give myself a reason to be on the grounds. Say what you will about my mid-FL alma mater: I love it. It isn't the prettiest or the smartest or the best at sports or the most well-funded or the biggest but it's mine. Everywhere I walk on its grounds, memories leap out. On the fourth floor of that building, an eighteen-year-old me waited outside a Latin classroom and a cute little redheaded girl walked up and said that she liked my sneakers (six years later, I'm going to be her bridesmaid next month). In the basement of that building I sat with a goofy Italian guy and talked about Watchmen. In the first-floor north corner classroom of that building I fell in love, with a subject and with a man. Before the new student union was built I laid on the hill on its far side and watched Red Eye on a way-too-cold-to-be-outside November night. I studied in that Subway for a math exam. I climbed that tree. I worked in that office park. I memorized a poem on that bench overlooking that pond. I kissed my manfriend for the first time at that curb.

Soon I will be moving far away from here. Soon there will be a whole new city, a whole new state, in which to make new memories from scratch. And when I return to Florida in the winter, since winter is when family gatherings happen, that keen air will bring back all the old, beloved remembrances.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Film Fantasy Friday: The Once and Future King

I'm finally doing it: a cast for my favorite book of all time. I am not going to divulge how much time this took; let's just jump in. In case you aren't familiar with the book (or its musical, Camelot), the run-down is thus: the boy Arthur has a mostly-idyllic childhood, becomes king, tries to be a good king and general decent person, is punished in a myriad cruel ways for his troubles, dies. A rather huge book, The Once and Future King has a large cast, and only the most essential are cast here. You may not that only adult actors are used here--I decided to skip the first portion of the book, "The Sword in the Stone." In all seriousness, this book would require a TV miniseries to do completely properly, as it covers a span of fifty years or so.


Arthur: played by Sean Bean, King Arthur is the forward-thinking lord of Britain who attempts to keep Might from ruling by instituting a code of knightly chivalry. Like all good men, he is mostly punished for his attempts.




Merlin: played by Donald Sutherland, Merlin is a bumbling yet wise wizard who happens to be living backward.




Guenever: played by Kristin Scott Thomas, Guenever is Arthur's queen and Lancelot's lover. She is frustrated by her lack of children and torn between the two men she loves.




Lancelot: played by Mads Mikkelsen, Lancelot is considered Arthur's greatest knight, yet his self-loathing is what really drives him.




Gawain: played by Kevin McKidd, Gawain is the oldest of the Orkney sons and struggles between his family loyalty and his devotion to Arthur.




Gareth: played by Tony Curran, Gareth is the second-youngest of the Orkney sons. His belief in Arthur's code defines his life.




Mordred: played by Domhnall Gleeson, Mordred is the youngest of the Orkneys...and Arthur's bastard son. Twisted by his isolated upbringing and his hatred for his father, Mordred is the doom of the kingdom.




Morgause: played by Kate Winslet, Morgause is Arthur's half-sister and the mother of his only son. She is nuckin' futs.




Galahad: played by Jeremy Sumpter, Galahad is Lancelot's son, an even better knight than his father, and as perfect a human being as ever was. Predictably everyone hates him.




Elaine: played by Gina McKee, Elaine is Galahad's mother. She loves Lancelot and tries to bring him into her life in various mostly-sad ways.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Another music post; still angry, now with added sad

I guess it's that kind of week. Honey Diana don't care!

I have a lot of deep feelings about music. Not deep in the "totally philosophical shit, brah!" way, just in the deep-rooted way. I was listening to Boys for Pele in a traffic jam on the way to work this morning and vaguely thinking about Tori Amos and how I like her and she has red hair and she is friends with Neil Gaiman and sometimes sings about him and she's a tree in his book Stardust and apparently her new record is really great and her daughter does some guest vocals on it and so on etc., and then I remembered that the first time I ever heard of Tori Amos was from a Mormon woman.

Not entirely expected.

This woman--I feel bad that I can't remember her name, because she was one of the better Young Women leaders I had--was talking to us in YW about music and how music affects the Spirit. LDS culture-dogma basically subscribes to the "rock'n'roll/rap/heavy metal/edgy country/odd female vocalists/everything non-MOTAB is Satan's music and he will use it to drag you to Outer Darkness!" brand of music appreciation. Easy listening radio stations are usually safe; LDS dances are horribly boring and non-danceable; me asking the guy with the guitar at a youth conference to play a Nirvana song was extremely daring indeed (I only did it to be a dick, since he was wearing a Nirvana shirt).

Anyway, this woman was talking about how she had basically forced herself to stop listening to Tori Amos, because she knew that Amos' music didn't bring in the Spirit. And even though I was very distracted at the time, because I was mentally going through my Kazaa playlists and noting all the punk and industrial and metal stuff on them and knowing that I was a Bad Person for ever listening to them in the first place and an even Worse Person because I probably wasn't going to stop listening to them, I noticed that this woman was pretty fucken sad about giving up Tori Amos. Clearly Tori Amos had brought her a lot of joy and fulfillment and deep feelings, and she disliked having to pretend to enjoy Sandi Patti's Christmas CD instead of being able to play Midwinter Graces.

I wish this story ended with "and so I went home and listened to Strange Little Girls and had a spiritual awakening and left the church and have never been happier" but it doesn't, and I actually only started listening to Amos a couple of years ago. But I can say that she brings me a lot of joy and fulfillment and deep feelings now, and so do Big Black and the Mars Volta and Foo Fighters and Kamelot and Evergrey and M.I.A. and Nine Inch Nails and many, many, many other devil's-music artists. I cannot, cannot, and will never again get behind any kind of movement--political, spiritual, religious, social, whatever--that pressures people to throw away things that they love, things that are meaningful to them, and yes, things that bring personal revelation. Our souls are too important to allow their forms to be dictated to us.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Another angry music post

So yes, this silly article is about a week or one hundred Internet years old, but I feel like bitching about it, so I am going to.


Is This It, really? I hadn't even thought about The Strokes or their "masterly debut" since I was in high school and they were all SPIN could fap over write about. It's not like I'm a Nirvana fan--I wasn't old enough the first time around, and by the time I was old enough, I had already discovered Mudhoney--but comparing a third-rate record like Is This It to the record that IS Nevermind...that's what, laughable? This article's writer does my work for me: he lays out exactly why Is This It was terrible, but then tries to pretend like it isn't, chiefly because it meant something to him when he was sixteen.

I'm all for music nostalgia and acknowledging that records you loved when you were a teenager Meant Something. This is a fine tack to take, but not for the purposes that this particular article requires. Extrapolating personal love to the entire listening public is a daft thing to do; it's using 31 Songs methodology to try to do what Fargo Rock City accomplished.

It doesn't work. If it did, I would argue that Deloused in the Comatorium, The Mars Volta's first full-length album, was without a doubt the most significant album of the '00s. You can debate matters of taste until the cows come home, but that isn't what this author is trying to do: he's trying to assign a specific kind of record as THE most, THE best, THE something-est--based on what, exactly? That The Strokes ripped someone off, and then a lot of other people ripped off The Strokes? Well bravo to all involved. Should we laud a group for being proto-Paris Hiltons?

In terms of cultural impact, The Strokes were far-reaching in that, after they launched, a wave of even more derivative post-punk bands arrived. If you like white dude rock music, I suppose that's important, since shit like The Killers dominated the radio for awhile after. But as far as lasting influence, innovation, and charm go, Is This It falls extremely short. I don't know a single person who owns the album; I don't recall the last time anyone I know, either in personal life or online, talked about the album OR the group; I've never heard "Last Nite" played at my local hipster club; and it's safe to say that Is This It didn't do a damn thing that hadn't already been done (which I suppose makes it the PERFECT album for the '00s, because let's face it, that decade was horribly steeped in deja vu). If music journalists continue to have a boner for the NYC prepsters, fine for them--but the rest of the country moved on in 2002, and to pretend that this album has the cultural cache of Nevermind is outright preposterous. IF there can be said to be an album which defined the '00s, I would put forth Stankonia by OutKast, but IF you decide that the most influential album of the decade MUST be made by white people, you might as well go for THE Whites (White Blood Cells came out in 2001 too). Though why would you kid yourself, with stuff like St Elsewhere, Demon Days, Arular, and The Blueprint floating around?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Film Fantasy Friday: Taco Edition

Sorry for the bait and switch, but there will be no fantasy casting today. I'm in mourning; my favorite local taco place, yes, even Mema's Alaskan Tacos, is closing. Yes, we've still got California Tacos and The Taco Bus, but Mema's holds a special place in my heart. For one thing, GATOR TACOS. For another, it was the first place I ate in Tampa (my sister took me there right after I moved), and it was also the first restaurant I ate at with my soon-to-be boyfriend after we visited the Dali Museum. It was the place to go during a ladies' night at the James Joyce, or after dancing at the Orpheum for Sink or Swim. Mema's made a big move into a cool larger location from its previous tiny hole-in-the-wall about four years ago, and I thought it was doing well. The news of its closing is a major shock and makes me fret for the survival of some of my other favorites (like Kaleisia and Mojo).





And this has just turned into a linkfest of my preferred Trampa eateries. Non, je ne regrette rien. I guess the upshot is: eat and drink and buy local! Chances are your area has some awesome local spots for food and beverages--ditch Taco Bell in favor of a freshly made grouper burrito.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Basically, fuck Rick Scott

What can I say, it's a vulgar week. Mostly because of this waste of space, my state's horrifying governor.

A reubttal from my university's Department of Anthropology students: This is anthropology. Maybe it's because I used to be part of that department, maybe it's because I value education of all kinds and detest deliberate ignorance, but this has made me more frothingly angry than anything else Skeletor has done so far (and he's done a lot of stupid shit). There aren't enough curses in the world's languages for this loathsome creature my fellow Floridians elected.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

Basically, fuck Columbus Day

So, here in the US, it's Columbus Day. Not an observance I have much use for. Instead of whacking on about the history of the nation, I thought I would provide a few links for my dear readers' perusal.


The Native American Heritage Association, a non-profit charity for reservations in South Dakota.

I Am Not A Mascot, a fantastic blog written by an Oglala Lakota Sioux journalist.

Native American Heritage Month is next month!

My culture is not a trend, a Tumblr account chronicling instances of micro and macroaggression against and appropriation of native cultures.

The American Indian College Fund, which provides scholarships, fellowships, grants, and other education opportunities for native students.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Film Fantasy Friday: Tunes Edition

This Friday, I feel like doing something a little different. What can I say? I'm a maverick. Anyway, instead of choosing a book and creating a film out of it, I'm going to choose a couple of songs and see how they'd do as movies.

"Prescilla" (Bat for Lashes, Gold and Fur): Karen (Rashida Jones) lives a life of motion, continuously on the road with her zany New Age preacher boyfriend (Michael Pitt). Though the adventure of travel is exciting, she longs to settle down and have a few kids--a dream that seems suddenly possible when she discovers that she's pregnant, then meets down-to-earth fortune-teller Prescilla (Ellen Burstyn) in Missoula who strengthens her courage.

"Summer of '69" (Bryan Adams, Reckless): It's the Summer of Love, and Bryan (Andrew Garfield)'s got a beat-up guitar and a band of hopefuls...and there's a new girl in town! Beautiful free spirit Lani (Nina Dobrev) blitzes through small-town Frontenac County, leaving a wake of broken hearts behind her, including those of Jimmy (Jay Baruchel) and Jody (Logan Lerman), Brian's band-members. Can the group survive with a force of nature like Lani around?

"Genius Next Door" (Regina Spektor, Far): There's an enchanted lake somewhere around here, but you didn't hear it from John (Jesse Eisenberg). The neighbors won't talk about it, the local kids pretend it's always been this way, and each night John goes for a swim in that water, until one evening when it's too cold for bathing, he doesn't come up at all. A hardened reporter (Michael Michele) and someone who could have been his friend (Harry Shum, Jr.) try to understand why.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The squee heard 'round the Internet

Ok, so. Gail Simone has a Tumblr. Last night on that Tumblr, she answered quite a number of fan questions left in her ask box. One of them was mine (mini-squee), with a thoughtful reply about the new Suicide Squad, though really I am still not giving it any more of my money because I remain QUITE HET UP about Savant, Waller, and a lot of other things.

One of them forthrightly stated that Catman (Thomas Blake) is bisexual.



Thus, the squee heard 'round the Internet. I think everyone who read that comment simultaneously gasped and shrieked. A lot of fans of Secret Six already ship Catman and Deadshot, and now they have ammo to back that up. I don't, personally (I love their WE ARE NOT FRIENDS DAMMIT bro-ship), but man oh man would I love to see Catman and Bane, Catman and Batman (der), Catman and Creote because apparently Savant is dead, Catman and pretty much anyone. This is awesome news for lots of people. More LGBTIQ characters in comics? Yes please. And she's writing a trans character right now! For what? For Firestorm? For Batgirl? Oh I can't wait to find out.


Also--Jesus Christ, Marvel, let this woman write Iron Fist already! My kingdom for that book.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Things I observed about the greater Cleveland, Ohio area

  • Plenty of good post-coital food. If you're lazy and/or in a hurry to catch a flight, head to the Big Boy for a Brawny Lad or pulled pork sandwich. If you want to make a night of it, Jammy Buggar's in Lakewood has an ENORMOUS fish'n'chips plate with hand-cut fries and plenty of good beer.
  • Irony. Has not yet been invented in Parma, OH. All the Big Boy customers save me and my manfriend seemed very serious about their food.
  • Parks. Metroparks, specifically--lovely! I like a city which invests in green spaces.
  • Comic book shops run by ladies are the best. I'm speaking of Northcoast Nostalgic specifically. Great place! That'll be my new LCS when I move in November.
  • Roads. Suck. I have never seen so many potholes in my life.
  • Libraries. Rock! About five branches within easy distance of where I'll be living. Now if only any of them were hiring...
  • Symbols on houses. Lots of them--crowns, initials, sunbursts, etc. I saw this a lot. I have no idea what it's about. Yuppification of Amish hexes, perhaps?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Noms-de-Internet

Every now and then I look at my long-time screenname (Menshevixen) and I'm a little tired of it, but not tired enough to go through the bother of rebranding, as it were. If I ever get to that state, here are some possibilities.

  • Anne Surly
  • Lamentation Blade
  • Trout Mask Woman
  • Superbooj
  • Deep Play

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pull List: All Star Western #1, Blackhawks #1, Fury of Firestom #1, Justice League: Dark #1

Well, my picks from the New 52 this week were sort of the B-list weirdo characters, as you see below--no Aquaman or Superman for this lass. I regret nothing!


All Star Western #1: I'm a Palmiotti fan--he and the co-author on this work, Justin Gray, did some wonderful Jonah Hex work recently, and his art awhile back for Secret Six was also stellar--and I like a good Western, so this title was an obvious choice. And frankly, "Hex in Gotham" is a premise I'm right smack on board with, especially when it's flavored like a Jack the Ripper story (prostitute killing ahoy). Moritat's art is perfect for this, stylized with muted colors and bright splashes of blood and firelight; in the bars and brothels of old Gotham, a certain amount of cheesecake is necessary and deployed rather charmingly. Overall this first issue is sort of a kindred spirit to the recent Gates of Gotham mini, which I very much enjoyed (the eponymous Gate brothers are even mentioned), but instead of delving into the pasts of the founding families of Gotham, Gray and Palmiotti go for the lower, dirtier, and weirder--including one Dr Amadeus Arkham, and a mysterious secret society. I can never resist a secret society! 4 out of 5 stars.

Blackhawks #1: I gave this title a shot because I figured with a team name like that, my beloved Lady Blackhawk, late of Birds of Prey, would be involved...and she is, kind of. On the first page she's listed as being part of the field team in action, but we never see her, so I assume she was piloting the plane the whole time and for whatever reason disappeared once the team got back to their base ("The Eyrie"). At any rate, the other members--Kunoichi, a pink-haired zany bitch, "The Irishman" (by way of Ukraine, and am I the only one who misses Creote a bunch when they see a red-headed burly dude with a Russian accent?), Attila, Wildman, and Andrew Lincoln, head of operations--are a rag-tag black ops division with a nanocite problem. I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed this #1; I wasn't expecting much, but I liked the group members, particularly Kunoichi, and the intrigue of this nanocite business is interesting enough to keep me reading. The art by Graham Nolan and Ken Lashley is messy and angular, and suits the bang-up action and undercover theme. Just give me some damn Zinda Blake next time, people! 3.5 out of 5 stars.





The Fury of Firestorm #1: Ahhh the second Gail Simone title! This is a case in which I followed the creator, because I didn't know shit about Firestorm prior to today. And now I can say that this is an cool little book. I like it! A lot: I like Ronnie and Jason, I like their high school clash of nerd-versus-jock, I like the cruel "antiterrorism" squad which opens the pages, joking about cutting apples with a bloody knife, I like where Tonya and Jason are going. The art, by Yildiray Cinar, is lovely and nuanced. Van Sciver and Simone's writing sparkles. This is just a solid, cool, thoughtful, good comic. 4 out of 5 stars.


Justice League: Dark #1: The only Justice League title I'm interested in is this one, because of its cast: Madame Xanadu, Deadman, Shade the Changing Man, Zatanna, Enchantress, and John Constantine...sign me up! I wasn't disappointed by this #1; the tarot-inspired and otherwise mystical art from Mikel Janin is smooth and evocative and the storyline of weird magical events is right up my alley. The images of Superman, Cyborg, and Wonder Woman fighting a tide of teeth were creepy and disgusting and, well, dark. On the petty side of things, JLD manages to spell "Belle Reve" properly (unlike *cough* Suicide Squad), and I don't particularly care for Z's new outfit--she and Canary can compare notes on fishnet sleeves--but I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the sheer power of the workaday, A-list JL and the murky, magical darkness of this band of witches and dead people. Let the fight against Enchantress begin! 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The actual review of the concert I talked about yesterday

Let's start off with some Twitter evidence. If you follow me on Twitter, this is what my Friday night looked like:

Sound quality here is...not what it could be. Or maybe that's just the opening band.

Hot twin Canadian guitarists! Did I say the opener sucked? Didn't mean it!

Uh, actually they're kind of great. The Agonist from Montreal, peeps. Check it.

Opener #2's frontman looks like Malachi from Hex.

Apparently power metal fans in Canada mosh.

WE HAVE A KEYTAR PEOPLE

The song...is Wenches and Mead. The band...is Alestorm. PIRATE METAL FUCK YEAH

If Dragonforce and Dropkick Murphys had a baby and abandoned it in Savannah, it would sound like this band.

There are legit like ten metal dudes on this stage. It's like watching porn.

And then...nothing for an hour and a half. Because as much as I enjoyed the three opening acts, they weren't Kamelot, and I don't Tweet during Kamelot. So let's get you fine folks up to speed on the nuts and bolts of this performance! As I've mentioned previously, Roy Khan is no longer with the band, so for the "Pandemonium Over North America" tour, Fabio Lione of the Italian group Rhapsody of Fire toured as fill-in singer...and did a pretty great job. Lione's vocals are quite a bit different from Khan's, most notably because Khan is, at last check anyway, a baritone and Lione is a tenor, but Lione's as polished and talented a singer as Khan, so we'll split the difference (though Lione's higher register combined with Simone Simons' soprano did make "The Haunting" sound somewhat odd). I WILL say that I really hope Kamelot auditions a new singer--in the event that Khan really does not return--because as great as Lione sounded, he's best with his own band, and I'm sure Rhapsody's fans don't want to lose their own frontman.

The set-list was interesting--largely Black Halo and Ghost Opera, with only two tracks off the newest album, Poetry for the Poisoned ("The Great Pandemonium" and "Necropolis"), and a few offerings from Karma as the earliest in the catalogue Lione went, though apparently in other shows this tour he's performed "Nights of Arabia," which I would have loved to see. The rest of the band was, as always, in fantastic shape. Youngblood and Grillo will play their instruments to their graves, I'm sure; Palotai has cut his hair--nothing drastic, but not the elf-locks he used to have, and it certainly hasn't affected his keyboarding skills; and original bassist Sean Tibbetts, who returned post-Ghost Opera, is definitely the (talented) ham of the group. All in all, a satisfying concert experience, though the sound mix SUCKED (Firestone, get that fixed please).


And a few words for the openers: The Agonist and Blackguard are both from Montreal, Quebec, and play death metalish stuff. I must say, whatever they put in the water up there is working, because I've never seen more attractive bands. Metal dudes are either really hot or really fugly--there's not much middle ground--and metal ladies are gorgeous across the board, with Alissa White-Gluz (vocals, The Agonist) and Justine Ethier (drums, Blackguard) being no exceptions. White-Gluz is spectacularly talented as a vocalist, being capable of singing both typical death metal and clean vocals, with very little strain. Fun note: she sang Shagrath's vocals on "March of Mephisto"; I think her cred is set for life. Alestorm, the pirate metal band from Scotland, was maybe the most hilarious thing I've ever seen, and actually pretty talented too. Lord knows I can't resist a keytar, or songs about rum.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Body Appreciation Sunday: Soul

Setting aside anthropological questions regarding the existence of the soul, I think it is safe to say that my soul, my essence of Diana, the thing that makes me Me, has three specific vacuums (in the mode of Pascal's God-shaped vacuum): music, books, and Manfriend.

Books are the singular portion, the most basic, the thing that truly belongs to only me. Music and Manfriend, they go hand in hand. Not to say that I never listened to music before I met him, and there are several bands that I would get to keep in the divorce, but my absolutely favorites are two that he introduced me to, likely because my love for them and him are inextricably intertwined.

Take Kamelot. I LOVE Kamelot (though not as much as Conception), thanks to my dude. You can kind of track our relationship based on Kamelot's album releases; when we had known each other for barely four months, we went to see their Black Halo concert (2006). Two years later, we saw them tour supporting Ghost Opera. And last August, we were supposed to see their Poetry for the Poisoned tour when it opened in Florida--quite near my birthday. We did not, because the lead singer left the band and they postponed the tour. So on Friday night, I finally saw their Poetry show, with a friend who is not Manfriend, and a singer who is not Roy Khan (though I will say, Fabio Lione did an AMAZING job). It was a great experience, as their shows always are, but a strange one, because I associate Kamelot with my man. Who am I supposed to make out with when they play "Forever"? Certainly not Matt.

My Kamelot viewing and listening experiences have changed a bit since last year. When it came out that Khan was leaving the group, I said some rather immature things to the tune of, Why couldn't he have had his breakdown AFTER they toured? I found it hard to imagine the band without him (though he is their second frontman, and their first two albums, with original singer Mark Vanderbilt, are actually great too). But a year later and having seen them perform without him, I'm good with his decision, though I wish they would've put out another live album before he left. But I'm not sure if my experience with the band could ever change to the point where, should I and Manfriend go our separate ways, I would still be able to enjoy the music. I hope never to find that out.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Film Fantasy Friday: White Tiger

That's right, I'm finally taking it all back to the book that got me into comics: the White Tiger miniseries from 2006. I picked up this mini because it was written by my favorite YA author, Tamora Pierce, and I've sworn to read anything she writes, so...anyway it was the beginning of a magical, frustrating relationship. And I still love Angela. And Tammy. Write more comics, Tammy! maybe some for DC they neeeed you This film is based around the mini with a bit of Daredevil: Shadowland plot thrown in, and involves a lot of characters we already know and love. PS: Happy birthday to Barbara Gordon, one of my favorite superladies!



Angela del Toro/White Tiger: played by Rosario Dawson, Angela is a former FBI agent who inherits a strange set of amulets from her uncle Hector--objects which transform her into the White Tiger.



"Daredevil"/Iron Fist/Danny Rand: played by Cam Gigandet, Danny is currently masquerading as Daredevil while Matt Murdock is in jail, to keep the true DD's cover.




Luke Cage: played by Terry Crews, Luke is an old friend of Angela's uncle Hector's and someone with whom she occasionally works out and teams up.



King Cobra: played by Mathieu Amalric, Piet Voorhees is a mercenary involved with an international cartel called Chaeyi. He also has some unnerving physical abilities due to a mutagenic serum developed by his uncle.




Lady Bullseye: played by Maggie Q, Maki Matsumoto is in the employment of the Hand, an infamous ninja order, with plans of her own where Daredevil and the White Tiger are concerned.



Black Widow: played by Rebecca Romijn, Natasha Romanoff acts as Angela's guide into the world of superheroing.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pull List: Batman #1, Birds of Prey #1, Blue Beetle #1, Nightwing #1, Red Hood #1, Wonder Woman #1

Yeeeeaaaaah, it's a hefty-ish list this week, so let's get down to business to defeat the Huns.


Batman #1: My local comic shop was BUSY today and I'm pretty sure this #1 was the reason--everyone was dying to get a look at Scott Snyder's other DCnU book, Batman. A relatively new creator, Snyder made his name on an amazing run of Detective Comics, and I don't see that he's going to let Batfans down with this title. Capullo and Glapion's art is up to the task as well, dark and artfully messy, and oh yes, I had missed seeing Bruce and his boys all together (and the impending mystery involving a certain First Robin). I have a funny relationship with interior monologues in comics--sometimes I feel they work fine and sometimes I hate them. I disliked how they felt in Detective Comics a few weeks ago, but here in Batman they are put to pitch-perfect use. Batman is introspective, but never emo; not completely sane, but not the brand of crazy Gotham usually turns out: it's a fine line to walk, but Snyder manages it. If I can easily imagine Kevin Conroy speaking whatever lines Bat has on the page, the writer is doing it right. 5 out of 5 stars.

Birds of Prey #1: I'm a nutty BoP fangirl and there was no way I wasn't buying this title, though I already miss Gail Simone (and Helena, and Zinda, and Oracle...*sniff*). I enjoy Jesus Saiz's art, costuming concerns that are probably out of his control aside. The only combat members we meet in this issue are Canary and Starling--no sign of Katana or Ivy yet, the two ladies I was looking forward to the most. I am rather fretted about how...not-there the relationship between Dinah and Barbara Gordon is, since Dinah notes that she's putting together the team and wishes Barbara would reconsider. Apparently also Starling (Ev Crawford) has taken Babs' place as Dinah's bestie, and also Helena's place as resident religious person, and also Zinda's place as balls-out brawler? DC bigwigs, note my displeasure. Swierczynski's writing is pretty sharp, but all in all this #1 feels too similar to what came before it, in all the wrong ways, though I will pick up at least one more issue because dammit, I want to see Ivy in action! Honestly I have hopes for this title and I hope it all pans out. 3 out of 5 stars.


Blue Beetle #1: Yeah, it's Jaime back in action! Don't get me wrong, I love Ted Kord too, but I vastly enjoy Jaime Reyes as Blue Beetle and was very happy to hear that he would retain that title in the relaunch. A couple of interviews with Tony Bedard indicated to me that he liked this character and would likely do a good job with the title, and the #1 proved me right. I like a book that isn't afraid to use its own heroes and villains, rather than trying to borrow other people's, and Jaime's fights are all his own. This is a solid origin story all around: a strange influx of space scarabs and what that means for Jaime, along with high school troubles and a mysterious, dangerous auntie, and Blue Beetle #1 sets us up for a fun ride. 3.5 out of 5 stars.




Nightwing #1: This was actually the book I read first today (for obvious reasons), and I was not disappointed! Well, I really kind of hate Dick's new outfit (why red? WHY NO FINGERSTRIPES?), but the art from Barrows and Co. is sharp, plenty of flips'n'shit, and the action hums along nicely, with a good cliffhanger ending. I loved Dick as Batman, but I'm not entirely sad to see him back as Nightwing, and at least Scott Higgins was allowed to acknowledge that yes, Dick!Bats had happened, which bodes well for the Batverse's continuity, I hope. The conceit of Haly's Circus being back in town is kind of tired, but is as good an opening story as any. Now four Robins removed from Batman, Dick's a grown-up and his own man, and I found that Higgins did a good job of showing that (including a dig about how Bruce lets his past scare him). Dick has always been a self-aware character. He's more sentimental and more extroverted than Bruce is, he's kinder, he's different, and that is part of why I like Nightwing. Higgins seems to like Nightwing too and it shows. 4 out of 5 stars.

Red Hood and the Outlaws #1: Let me confess right up front that I enjoy both Jason Todd and Roy Harper, and I think both of them have been treated badly by DC. I was somewhat leery about picking up this book--the interviews I'd seen with Scott Lobdell didn't leave me thinking he liked the characters very much--but I can't resist Arsenal and Red Hood (especially not with HO YAY a title like this is already delivering). The art's ok--Rocafort doesn't have Cliff Chiang's restraint or eye (see below) and I think everyone agrees that Starfire's new outfit is even dumber than her old one, but for a messy, bloody, shoot-em-up book, that's just what the doctor ordered. Something I heftily dislike: Jason's account of how Kory doesn't remember or care about her time with the Titans and Dick Grayson. Um, yeah ok. That plot point by itself (not to mention its followup of Kory throwing herself at Roy) is enough to make me very uninterested in getting the next issue. 1 out of 5 stars.

Wonder Woman #1: Well hello Diana, one of my favorite superheroines and not, sadly, my namesake! I was super excited for this #1--I LOVE Cliff Chiang's art--and both Chiang and Azzarello brought their A-game. As a Greek myth nerd, I really enjoyed the set-up of Greek gods and motherfucking centaurs right here on Earth, screwing with people's lives as the Greek deities of old were so wont to do. We don't even meet Diana for a good ten pages or so, but when we do, oh, it's glorious. I love that Zola (that's the lady in her jammies, if you saw the previews) knows exactly who Diana is; I love, as I have in the past, the conceit of the gods mucking about on Earth; I love that Chiang is capable of and willing to draw women without much on and not make it about their tits and ass; I love the mysticism and non-answers this book throws in our faces right off the bat. In short, I loved this issue. 5 out of 5 stars.


Monday, September 19, 2011

The Shattering (SPOILERS)

So a few nights ago I read The Shattering, New Zealand YA author Karen Healey's newest novel. I loved her first book, Guardian of the Dead, and enjoyed The Shattering so much that I read it in one sitting. There's a lot going for this book--a thoughtful cast of multicultural characters, sex-positive relationships, great friendships between girls and between boys and girls, a scary-cool premise.

That last hinges on something I was not expecting at all: an examination of modern Western witchcraft. One of the major characters, Janna, is a teenage semi-practitioner of Wicca (she says she believes but needs to study it more), and a couple of other characters are witches as well, including the major villain. No one in Summerton seems particularly bothered by this; apparently neopagans are common enough in New Zealand. Keri and Sione, the other two main characters, don't exactly follow Janna immediately down the path of believing magic is real right off the bat, but neither do they make fun of her or act like this isn't a viable belief system. Daisy, the villain, is a practitioner what Janna calls "the left-hand path," the leader of an apparently older coven which has less use for things like the Three-Fold Law. This coven has been ritually sacrificing young men for many years to keep Summerton safe and prosperous.

All in all, the comparison text that immediately popped into my head when I finished The Shattering was The Wicker Man. This was a trippy 60s horror film which revolved around a Scottish island where pagan ways were still practiced, including human sacrifice, to insure the island's prosperity (particularly that of the apples grown there). The movie was novelized, and I read the novel when I was a teenager. Go ahead, have a giggle at the thought of good Mormon teenager Diana reading The Wicker Man; obviously I would not have been allowed to watch the film, but my dear sweet mother doesn't believe in monitoring her kids' library records, a liberalism she likely regrets now. At any rate, I LOVED that novelization and didn't even know it was a movie first until I got to college. I think I read The Wicker Man three or four times. I did not connect it then with other books I was reading--Rosemary Sutcliff and Marion Zimmer Bradley specifically--though it seems clear now that my brain and spirit had been primed for this sort of interest and need since I was a kid.

The Shattering is in a similar vein to The Wicker Man, though more nuanced, less shock-valuey, and more suitable for younger audiences. Though set in New Zealand, her previous book, Guardian of the Dead, straight-up utilized Maori mythology for its plot and characters, while The Shattering bases its supernatural dealings in Western myth, specifically the idea of the Summer King (go read your Frazer if you don't know what I mean). As someone interested in neopaganism generally, any fiction book with a thoughtful treatment of modern witchcraft gets kudos from me, especially since there are far too many which go in for shock'n'schlock and fall back on idiotic tropes like Satanic ritual abuse or witches sexily applying fly ointment to their genitals. Healey presents a balanced offering of both witches who use their power for good (such as Sandra-Claire and Janna's protection spell for Takeshi) and for evil (Daisy and her coven).
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