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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Body Appreciation Sunday: My period and me

So I read this and lol'd my fucking head off. Then I started crying, because it was so true, man. And then I thought, Well, what does MY period like to do when it decides to come visit? Because that's what periods are: your sometimes-funny, sometimes-scary, usually-mean older sister who drops in unexpectedly, for unspecified amounts of time, and makes you do things you thought you had gotten past, but who you are always SO GLAD TO SEE.

My period likes sushi. This is bizarre, because I HATE SUSHI. I really do not like sushi. But my mafriend has learned that if he wants sushi for dinner, the only time I'll be like, Yeah we should do that, is when my period has taken over my stomach. Go figure. So we go for sushi, and then since Manfriend's in a pleasant mood because he's FINALLY getting to eat a meal he loves with the woman he loves (note: this is comedic hyperbole, I'm not picky at all. Except for sushi. USUALLY), my period says, Manfriend we must watch Moulin Rouge! when we get home. And you can't say a damn word when I quote every line from every character, sing along to all the songs, including humming on "Nature Boy", and then projectile-weep during the final scenes.

Manfriend is a canny fellow. He is not quite helpless in the face of my period. He is also not afraid of my actual older sister (I am. She's fucking terrifying). So we watch Moulin Rouge! and then my period demands Reese's Pieces. At this point Manfriend says, I think I'm going to play DragonQuest...do you want to play? He knows that even were my period NOT in charge, I would say no, because my video game skills wallow in dreckitude; he also knows that my period and I need some alone time. Period shrieks, Are you KIDDING I am going to Target. To try on shoes that I will carry around the store and then not buy. And to buy Reese's Pieces because you have declined to get them for me.

So we go to Target. And then to the Payless which is so handily located next door, where my period steals my debit card to buy a pair of black patent leather high heels. You want to be a sexy librarian, don't you, Diana? Come on! These are so hot. And then to the coffeehouse/bookstore down the street, because my period thinks that tea will make it feel better, which never actually works, not even that goddamn raspberry leaf tea that every midwife will tell you is AWESOME for lady issues, but more importantly, the coffeehouse/bookstore down the street has matcha cookies, vegan peanut butter cookies, and double-fudge brownies. My period orders that I fork over for one of each. Ok, two brownies, because the Reese's Pieces didn't cut it. Then my period leads me through the labyrinth of used books, stopping to pore over tattered copies of books about "the real King Arthur", smelly copies of The Writing Life, and my period says, You never got around to writing that reworking of the Arthurian saga. Don't you think you owe it to Granny to write that?* You hardly ever write anymore. You should write more. And I buy the smelly copy of The Writing Life, even though I have about eight similar books at home, and feel terrible about my lack of creative impetus.

On the way home from the coffeehouse/bookstore, my period exerts its magical will on my car's CD player, forcing it to skip to all the romantic tracks on whatever Glee album happens to be in the disc drive. I muster up the will to replace the disc with a Lacuna Coil CD, but end up crying for no reason anyway. Once home, my period compliments me on my jaunty choice of cloth pad (green with a peacock feather design) and deigns to allow me to go to sleep, exhausted, crampy, and tear-stained.


So there's that. That's what USUALLY happens. That's what SHOULD happen. But then there are those months when your period decides she hates me and doesn't feel like visiting, and then I spend ten bucks on pregnancy tests, all of which come up negative, but I am convinced that they're faulty, so I buy four more--still negative--but I've got to be knocked up, I've just got to be, otherwise wouldn't my period come to hang out? She just hates fetuses. Like I do. It's the one thing we have in common, besides a love for Reese's Pieces and Ewan McGregor. I resist the urge to eat an entire bottle of Vitamin C supplements in an attempt to induce my estranged period to show up, crying aimlessly. They're going to create a totally new reality show JUST FOR ME, akin to I Never Knew I Was Pregnant but WORSE, because of all the negative pregnancy tests. They'll call it When First Response Lies and my high school classmates, the ones who never left Merritt Island because they were potheads/slackers/utter dumbasses/too rich to function, will see me on Lifetime or whatever fucking network they air those shows on and laugh their heads off. Still the same awkward, weird Diana! they will crow. That's if they even remember me. Fucking period, why couldn't you just show up? I never care about high school, never even think about it, except when my period hasn't arrived.

Is it too obvious that the TARDIS has not become a paradox machine this month?

*my Granny gave me my copy of The Once and Future King and tipped off a lifetime of obsession with King Arthur stories

Friday, May 27, 2011

Film Fantasy Friday: The Girls Get Even

Ok, so, that title is totes a fake-out. There IS indeed a rather awesome book by that name, which would probably make a pretty fun family movie, but that is not the topic for today. Rather I wish to compile my dream cast of my dream movie: the DC Superwomen Team-Up. As I have mentioned before, time and again, I am right fucking tired of not seeing any awesome super-ladies on the big screen. Should someone in Hollywood get his head out of his ass and decide this is a good idea, well, CALL ME. This ginormo line-up would be (far, far) better served as a television series and that is what I had in mind: two teams of heroines, sometimes working together, sometimes not, and a recurring cast of villains, with guest stars on either side.

Wonder Woman: played by Gina Torres, Wonder Woman is also known as Diana of Themyscira. Formed of clay and given life and power by the deities of Greek myth, Diana has formed a team of superheroines dedicated to fighting earthly, supernatural, and extraterrestrial threats.

The Oracle: played by Rachelle LeFevre, Barbara Gordon's second alter ego is the Oracle. After being maimed by the Joker, Babs hung up her Bat-cloak and began a new career as a shadowy superlibrarian information broker to heroes (and sometimes villains). Her team, the Birds of Prey, sometimes works with Wonder Woman and sometimes find her methods to clash with theirs.

Black Canary: played by Julie Kedzie, Black Canary (alias Dinah Lance) is a deadly hand-to-hand combatant and the possessor of a sonic shriek that can cut through steel and anything else in its path. She is a member of the Birds of Prey and Barbara's closest friend.

Huntress: played by Eva Amurri, Helena Bertinelli took on the moniker Huntress to avenge the deaths of her family and terrorize the Mafia groups and lowlifes of Gotham. She is a member of the Birds of Prey.

Lady Blackhawk: played by Blake Lively, Zinda Blake is the last remaining member of the Blackhawks, a WWII fighter pilot group. After returning from some strange adventures in time travel, Zinda serves as hotshot pilot and general brawler to the Birds of Prey team.

Catwoman: reprised by Keira Knightley, Catwoman's allegiances are never quite certain. She lets slip some interesting information regarding another cat-woman to Wonder Woman, but still chills at home with Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy.

Power Girl: played by Carina Damm, Power Girl, AKA Karen Starr, is the superpowered cousin of Superman. A boisterous fighter, her personality sometimes clashes with Wonder Woman's, though she joins the team readily.

Amanda Waller: played by Loretta Devine, Amanda Waller is the current president of the United States...as well as the leader of a shadowy project to assemble a team capable of withstanding Wonder Woman and her warriors.

Batwoman: played by Milla Jovovich, Kate Kane is ex-Army and a hardcore fighter. Her on-again off-again relationship with Renee Montoya is currently on again, and the two join Wonder Woman's team after Kate's frightening brush with death.

The Question: played by Michelle Rodriguez, Renee Montoya is a tough former Gotham cop-turned-costumed crimefighter.

Big Barda: played by Gina Carano, Barda is a warrior supreme from the brutal planet of Apokolips. She and Wonder Woman become close friends.

Harley Quinn: reprised by Kristen Bell, Harley is distraught and crazier than ever in the wake of Mister J's apparent death. Can Cheetah direct her deadly energy toward a certain Amazon target?

Poison Ivy: reprised by Rachel Hurd-Wood, Poison Ivy isn't quite sure where she stands on the issue of Wonder Woman's leadership. After all, they do share an interest in preserving the environment..

Cheetah: played by Olivia Wilde, Barbara Minerva is an archaeologist-turned-villainess who commands the powers of the cheetah. Ever Wonder Woman's foe, she has teamed up with Harley to take out the Themysciran princess and make the streets safe once more for thieves and scoundrels.

Cassandra Cain: played by Chiaki Kuriyama, Cassandra is the daughter of master assassins David Cain and Lady Shiva. Estranged from the Bat-family, she currently leads the League of Assassins, who have their own reasons for being interested in Wonder Woman.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

To be blunt

So, there's this. I have to say, Matthew Vaughn: a catchy (maybe? Never heard it) song is not topping my list of reasons I want to see X-Men: First Class. Here are a few things that ARE topping that list:

  • Michael Fassbender and Kevin Bacon, being fine pieces of villainous ass.

  • The inclusion of Emma Frost, my favorite Marvel lady.

  • It's a goddamn X-Men film. I saw X-Men 3: The Last Stand at midnight opening night and it was a steaming pile of garbage and I didn't particularly care because it was a goddamn X-Men film.

  • The Sixties setting is intriguing.

  • I'm into self-abuse (the literal kind, and sometimes the metaphoric kind if I'm looking at Michael Fassbender), and I neeeeeed to know if this film is going to suck, based on its jacked-to-shit lack of continuity, even movie continuity, and its bizarro lineup.

Matthew Vaughn, Matthew Vaughn. Sir. Get real! There will be PLENTY of women seeing your film! Have you not been following the recent ridiculous conversation about female nerds? WE EXIST. And we don't need a fucking love theme to get us into the theatre. Jesus fucking Christ.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Impending nuptials

Running on empty

Blogger frands, I have so very much nothing to say. There's a post in me that could be interesting, even scintillating and brilliant, and I can't seem to coax it out.

Time to refuel. Time to go read my library books.

Friday, May 20, 2011

So long and thanks for all the free space

Things I will be doing during Rapture '11:

  • hanging out with my good friends DR SHE BLOGGO, Princess Slayer, and Alex the scientist at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

  • Downing pints of butterbeer at said theme park; searching fruitlessly for firewhiskey

  • Laughing and carrying on about STAR WARS and Doctor Who and the new pic of Tom Hardy as Bane from Dark Knight Rises

  • lavishing DR SHE BLOGGO with birthday gifts

  • eating overpriced food and buying overpriced Ravenclaw scarves

  • possibly whipping out my kung fu skills to put Jesus on ice should he show up looking for a fight

Things I will not be doing during Rapture '11:

  • Being raptured

Film Fantasy Friday: Spoiled

So, some of my favorite fashion bloggers--the Fuggirls--just published their first novel, a young adult wonder-confection titled SPOILED (they're hosting a contest for a free signed copy here). It's pretty damn irresistible. And here is my conception of their wacky characters.

Molly Dix: played by Bridgit Mendler, Molly is an Indiana-born-and-bred teen who enjoys chilling with her on-again boyfriend Danny and her best bud Charmaine...until her mother dies and she's off to L.A. to be reunited with her father, famous actor Brick Berlin.

Brooke Berlin: played by Ashley Benson, Brooke is Brick's other daughter and the queen bee of Bel Air. She's not so keen on the idea of another daughter competing for Brick's attention.

Brick Berlin: played by Jean-Claude Van Damme, Brick is one of Hollywood's most notable leading me. By turns action star and family-comedy daddy figure, he's too busy sucking down wheatgrass shakes to notice Brooke's need for attention. Will Molly be a different story?

Teddy McCormack: played by Alexander Arnold, Teddy is the first person at Colby-Randall to actually be nice to Molly. Doesn't hurt that he's easy on the eyes, too...

Max McCormack: played by Kay Panabaker, Max is Teddy's green-haired, smart-mouthed sister.

Danny: played by Chord Overstreet, Danny is a swimmer and the sometimes-boyfriend of Molly.

Arugula: played by Keke Palmer, Arugula is Brooke's brilliant and beautiful best friend. She also has her eye on Teddy.

Note: Shelby Kendall, the queen bitch of Hey!, will be played by Tamara Feldman. However, since Blogger's new fiddly-woo with images blows monkeys, you'll have to hit the Google Images to see what she looks like.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A tattoo, a book, and a ramble

Because I am me, I find it most utterly necessary to deconstruct my recent tattoo and its meanings for you, my fine bunch of reubens. I mentioned the new ink and included a picture in Sunday's post, but the tat is more than it appears. As is evident, it's a rendering of a portion of the autograph Neil Gaiman left in my copy of American Gods--but for me, it's more.

See, the tattoo is not EXACTLY what I would have wanted. While trying to decide on its placement and size, I realized that I thought the "Believe" looked better by itself, without the exclamation point. But as you can see, the exclamation point is there. I decided to include it in the tattoo as a reminder of a couple of things.

First, that although I really, really admire Gaiman as a person and I love his writing, he IS a person and not everything he produces is solid gold and rainbows. Some of it is imperfect. More on that in a moment.

Second, that my beliefs are always going to be changing and that I am probably going to be dissatisfied with them and with myself at various points in my life.

So that first note really needs expanding upon. By all accounts (these accounts being Twitter, blogs and LiveJournals, interviews, and the body of work Gaiman has produced and is producing), Gaiman is a pretty fantastic person: a good dad, a good husband, a good artist, a good activist for comic book creators and libraries and literacy initiatives. But I'm old enough now that I have to see the warts on my heroes, as much as I'd like to stay in the safe realm of ZOMGURAWESOME. One of these warts is a portion of American Gods--a segment which did not strike me odd the first time I read the book, but which now I find difficult to countenance. This passage is below:

'"Eh? Excuse me, miss?" This to their waitress.

She said, "You need another espresso?"

"No, my dear. I was just wondering if you could solve a little argument we were having over here. My friend and I were disagreeing over what the word "Easter" means. Would you happen to know?"

The girl stared at him as though green toads had begun to push their way between his lips. Then she said, "I don't know about any of that Christian stuff. I'm a pagan."

[...] "And tell me, as a pagan, who do you worship?"


"That's right. I imagine you must have a pretty wide-open field. So to whom do you set up your household altar? To whom do you bow down? To whom do you pray at dawn and at dusk?"

Her lips described several shapes without saying anything before she said, 'The female principle. It's an empowerment thing. You know?"

"Indeed. And this female principle of yours. Does she have a name?"

"She's the goddess within us all," said the girl with the eyebrow ring, color rising to her cheek. "She doesn't need a name."

"Ah," said Wednesday, with a wide monkey grin, "so do you have mighty bacchanals in her honor? Do you drink blood wine under the full moon while scarlet candles burn in silver candleholders? Do you step naked into the seafoam, chanting ecstatically to your nameless goddess while the waves lick at your legs, lapping your thighs like the tongues of a thousand leopards?"

"You're making fun of me," she said. "We don't do any of that stuff you were saying." She took a deep breath. Shadow suspected she was counting to ten. "Any more coffees here? Another mochaccino for you, ma'am?" Her smile was a lot like the one she had greeted them with when they had entered.

They shook their heads, and the waitress turned to greet another customer.

"There," said Wednesday, "is one who does not have the faith and will not have the fun,' Chesterton. Pagan indeed. [...]"'

Yeah. That passage hurts to read, now. My beliefs have changed enough over the past few years that I can no longer read it detachedly. In a book about gods in America, Gaiman's premise ignores the million-odd people in the country who worship an old god--whether the Lord and Lady of Wicca, the Aesir and Vanir of heathenism, the orishas of Vodou, the animikiig of Anishinaabe religion, any of the panoply of Greek, Irish, Indian, Gaulish, Egyptian, and Babylonian deities, or yes, the "feminine principle." And though many of these gods appear themselves in American Gods, the only inkling of modern pagan religion that the book shows is the above passage. Another of Gaiman's books, Anansi Boys, utilizes vodou and other African diaspora spiritualities, and most of his writing incorporates otherworldly characters and ideas, but American Gods--given its title--is notable for what it lacks.

It seems likely that Gaiman simply didn't have time or space to delve into modern American pagan paths. It also seems likely that Wednesday is not a mouthpiece for the author, since (SPOILERS) he's the villain, a villain who uses his words as weapons to goad, trick, deceive, coerce, and con: He is an extremely not-nice person. And the book as an organic whole is fully deserving of the moniker "masterpiece." It is my favorite of Gaiman's offerings, yes, I even like it better than Sandman (which has its own set of issues with old gods and modern worshippers), and the gaps as I perceive them do not detract--for me--from it being a very powerful, important book. There ARE "glitterwitches," as one of my friends calls them; there ARE people only interested with the trappings of Wicca or Thelema or whatever path they find interesting; there ARE people who, as Chesterton has it (hateful man), do not have the faith and will not have the fun. But there are also people who do hold mighty bacchanals, who do carry out magic rituals to their gods and ancestors, who do walk between the worlds, who do gather and dance under the moon.

Those people exist, too.

I have to assume Gaiman knows this and simply did not see fit to address it or include a modern pagan character in the story. The concept of American Gods is a fascinating one: that when immigrants came to the U.S., they brought their gods and demons, and generation by generation belief faded as offspring turned to the "new" gods of technology, fame, etc., leaving the gods and demons in a pale, shadowy state. It's a perfectly sound concept...that is weakened considerably by the fact that modern Americans DO worship a vast variety of foreign and native "old" gods. I suppose if you want to write a story like this one, factors such as that must by necessity be left out.

So yes. That is the over-long story of my new tattoo. I like it--I think it looks great, and it's a wonderful, personal symbol. Expect more ink and more ink-related musings in the hopefully-near future.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fuck gods, give me my goddess

So there my manfriend and I were, comparing the Greg Rucka Wonder Woman to the Gail Simone Wonder Woman in a state post-coital laziness, and I had a Thinky Thawt: Thor is effectively the same character as Wonder Woman. So why does he get the big-budget summer blockbuster and she gets David "E for Egregious Asshat" Kelley and a failed NBC pilot?

Seriously, think about it. Both Wonder Woman and Thor are the children of gods and gods themselves. Both have one foot in their strange homeworlds (Themyscira and Asgard) and one in the world of humans. Both are stronger than the strongest human. Both use arcane weapons. Both have homelands, adversaries, and stories based in mythology. In some versions, Thor is even a peacekeeper type. The only difference that anyone cares about is that one has a dick and the other has a vagina.

I'm not stupid. I know the reason that there's a Thor movie at all is that there will soon be an Avengers movie and the Marvel studios like to make as much money as possible. But I also know that there is an entire section of Wonder Woman's Wikipedia page devoted to "undeveloped projects". That section contains three failed television projects and four movie scripts (including a Justice League script that I would KILL to see) that never saw the light of day. WW is arguably the most popular and and certainly the most iconic superheroine in comics. What's the problem, DC? What's the problem, Hollywood? When are we going to see this? I don't know who created the image below (I found it via DC Women Kicking Ass), but that is pretty much what my heaven looks like. Supes and the Bat need not even be there; I just want to see Diana on the big screen.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Body Appreciation Sunday: Eyes

I like my eyes a lot--they're a nice shade of green-brown and I've been told they are quite captivating. But the best part about them is the most obvious: they see. Yes, they don't see very well without the aid of contact lenses or glasses, but they do see and sight is one of my favorite senses.

Eyes let me see my favorite things: Alexander Skarsgard, kittens, heaping bowls of mashed potatoes, the Vancouver skyline, the new issues at comic book shops, my manfriend's dimples. They also, working with my brain and hands, allow me to do my absolute favorite thing in the world: READ. There is nothing I'd rather do than sit down with a book or a magazine or a comic and now that I've graduated, I have time to do just that. And oh, the stack next to my bed has grown significantly: the Fuggirls' just released Spoiled, a totally fun YA summer read; there are new issues of comics I read and a whole new DC event just now; there's my much-anticipated re-read of The Hunger Games; and there are libraries full of books waiting for me to discover them.

Reading is most best; reading led to my first tattoo and also my newest one, pictured below, and reading is inspiring the next eighteen or so percolating in my head (maybe not that many).

Read on, eyes. We have so many things to see and learn and love.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

When your favorite singer finds God

Prooooobably my favorite band currently recording is Kamelot (I say probably because come on, that's like picking French fries or mashed potatoes), a power metal outfit originally from Tampa, FL and now based mostly in Europe. Norway, specifically. This is because Roy Khan is Norwegian--remember him?

Yeah. He's foxy. He's also fucking talented (proooooobably my favorite band NOT currently recording is Conception, his other project). And now apparently he's found religion, and will not be singing for Kamelot anymore. This is both completely shocking and totally unsurprising, for the same reason: many of Kamelot's lyrics and most of Conception's revolve around, at the least, a confusion about mainstream religion, specifically Christianity, and at the most, a hatred for it. I talked a little about this in a post a few years back--an incomplete post, since I hadn't listened to Flow, Conception's last album, and Poetry for the Poisoned hadn't come out yet (and now I have linked to my own blog twice, and that is totally chavvy and I will stop), but its point is reasonably clear. From listening to both bands, it seems obvious that the songwriter has a real problem with religion. Many songs from both groups focus on the search for personal truth, self-reliance, damnation, and so forth. So to read Khan's statement, which ends with "The good news is, God was there after all...", is a tad--odd. Unsurprising, but weird.

I am sure I'm not the only impressionable young thing who started listening to heavy metal and then magically became an atheist. What I'm saying is the music of Kamelot and Conception had a profound effect on my mental development regarding religion. I have posted here a couple of times--resisting the urge to link!--about Deep Thinky Thawts stemming from Conception lyrics. Hell, I even based a short story on a line from one of their songs, and it actually got published. To my shallow mind this whole shebang feels like a betrayal...partially because Kamelot's most recent tour was SUPPOSED to start in my city on my birthday, best coincidence ever, and then it was canceled because Khan left. So yeah, I'm a tad butthurt. But I also think it's kind of awesome that Khan's journey has ended, or at least changed course, and that I and maybe hundreds of other people can still derive our own meanings from his music. And I'm glad that I was lucky enough to see Kamelot play at their height, several times, and I know whoever they snatch up is going to kick (nearly) as much ass.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thor (spoilers)

As promised, some thoughts on Thor! I'm coming at this from four perspectives: first, that of a person who genuinely enjoys films; second, that of a person interested in paganism and portrayals of pagan stories in the media; third, as a comic book reader; and fourth, as a feminist.

Given that...I actually don't have much to say. SHOCKING I KNOW. Guess I'm still distracted by this.

For perspectives on the pagan aspect, I would direct you to the Wild Hunt's post about the movie, because it includes some interesting links to a variety of reviews, as well as over 60 comments that are actually worth reading. Thor is not in my personal pantheon, I'm not Asatru, and I'm not qualified to comment on the sticky topic of seeing one's gods on the big screen. Bastardized, blasphemied, homaged, or reinterpreted: take your pick.

From a strictly film-goer's point of view, it was a well-made popcorn movie. I can get behind such films; this summer is going to be full of them and I'm looking forward to it (thanks, AMC, for showing me every single action movie trailer worth seeing!). The action was pretty tight, Branagh must've known that there were some ladies and gay men in the audience, because damn that was a long, lingering look at Chris Hemsworth's abs, the CGI portrayal of Asgard was spectacular, and the acting was generally solid, especially from Tom Hiddleston as Loki and Idris Elba as Heimdall.

For the comic book fans--sure, why not. I don't read Thor, but my manfriend is more familiar with the stories associated with Marvel's version of the Thunder God, and he was pretty pleased. I was glad to see the Hawkeye cameo. I like Clint Barton and I like archery, and he's going to be in Avengers, and it was quite a bit neater and more subtle to include him in a small scene rather than attempting to shoehorn in the Incredible Hulk or Iron Man. I thought Jeremy Renner looked pretty great in character.

And the feminism! Well. I have to say I was rather pleased with Jane Foster's character (portrayed by Natalie Portman). She's an astrophysicist who just wants to get her work done, doesn't take kindly to it being lifted by S.H.I.E.L.D., and goes to great lengths to get it back. The role could very, very easily have been strictly love-interest, so props to the writers for fleshing her out substantially. No idiotic costume changes, no running in heels, and the cooing over aforementioned Hemsworth abs seemed, in conjunction with her character as established, refreshingly forthright and straightforward: she's got the hots and she wants to lay it on him. So she does, without sacrificing her interests and career. Sif and Darcy (Kat Dennings' character), however, got some short shrift. Sif came off as the Warriors Three's token lady friend and Thor's line about how Sif was the first warrior maiden was a touch unbelievable, given that the Asgardians are essentially a warrior race. It WAS nice that Sif followed up that line by pointing out that she did all the work. Dennings as Darcy was funny, but that was her sole purpose.

So there you have it: a basically better-than-average summer comic book movie. Cheers to Thor and its crew for delivering the first of the season.

Monday, May 09, 2011

In which I overanalyze a goddamn heavy metal record

So I was going to review Thor but then I realized that, although I mentioned The Sword here on the blog way back in 2006, I haven't talked about them since. This is an injustice, really, since they are awesome. However, I suspect this post is going to be less about how utterly righteous Warp Riders (the newest album) is and more about how I managed to analyze it in the car on the way to work.

Oh well. Music fans are supposed to be selfish, right? Very High Fidelity. At any rate, Warp Riders IS utterly righteous--a concept album centered around an original science fiction story written by the man himself, J.D. Cronise (featured in my hot dudes of heavy metal post). The story is that of Ereth, an archer banished from his homeworld of Acheron, a planet which has been divided into two sides of eternal light and darkness due to tidal locking, of all things. Yeah, the band are a bunch of dorks. Excellent! According to Cronise, the bent of the story is more science fiction overall, what with spaceships, moving through time, and the like, but there are fantasy elements as well--Ereth is an archer, after all, and his movements mimic those of the hero on the quest. Overall I found that the story felt like Campbell written by Clarke, which is to say, perfect. Musically the sound varies a bit from previous albums; though none of The Sword's records really have an overarching style, the predecessors of Warp Riders were on the doomier side. Noted by Cronise himself, Warp Riders is a rock'n'roll album. At its height it's totally '70s ("Lawless Lands" has one of the sweetest guitar riffs I've ever heard, though the title track sounds like thrash metal composed by Bene Gesserit sisters), chunky and danceable and very hairy. Even the album art is right on point, harking back to the pulpy sci-fi book covers of the '60s and '70s.

So get to the feminism, Diana! you say. WELL OK IF I MUST. See, Warp Riders, while being the story of a male hero, has some notable lady characters. A trio of witches appears in "Tres Brujas" who correspond to the Maiden/Mother/Crone archetype which The Sword have utilized before. The witches interact with Ereth in various ways ("the first will love you, the second will deceive you/and the third will show you the way") and are aligned with times of day ("the first is twilight, the second is night/and the third is the coming of day"), placing the women at the cusp of Acheron, between light and dark. A magical spaceship is portrayed as female, as ships of various kinds usually are, and further as having been waiting the arrival of Ereth to take command for eons. Then there is the Sisterhood, who perform mysterious sacrifices on behalf of the warp riders in order to allow for time travel, with their leading priestess being referred to as "navigatrix of the star-seas". Finally, in "Night City" there appears a woman on the run, who is caught and shackled and "sold at auction/to the highest bidder" but not before being stripped of all her weapons. These characters call up mythic images of women throughout the ages--the wyrd sisters of Macbeth, the three faces of Hecate and other triple goddesses, the three tessering witches of A Wrinkle in Time; every famous ship in fiction, from the Pequod to the Ship Who Sang; sacred sisterhoods of nuns, feminist collectives, women-only communities such as Lesbos, and as I referred to before, futuristic societies of women such as the Bene Gesserit in Dune; and the fallen woman, the lady of the night, the woman enslaved, used, and brutalized by men from the dawn of history to the present day.

Beyond these corporeal characters, the language of the lyrics is steeped in female symbolism--mentions of wombs, of slipping into and between worlds, curves, and folds in space, the cord of life, passageways, phoenixes and rebirth, and orbs. Women generally and witches specifically have often been painted in terms of liminality, of being on the edge, in between light and dark, sacred and profane, male (as the default human) and animal. The concept of warp has many uses, most of which use female language and aspects: in sailing (star or sea), in airplane flight, in digital images, and of course in science fiction, where the Alcubierre drive allows for faster-than-light travel. This last is used in Star Trek where it is called a "warp drive". All of these uses stem originally from the use of warp in weaving, where the warp is the set of vertical yarns which are held in tension on the loom (the weft or weave are the yarns drawn through horizontally). To illustrate why this word makes sense in terms of space travel, behold the following images:

The first is of warp and weft on a loom, the second of what space theoretically looks like when it is warped to allow for faster-than-light travel. As you can see, the spaceship travels on a horizontal line--the weft--with the vertical lines of the warp twisting and distorting to allow its passage, but remaining intact otherwise.

Does there exist a more perfect metaphor for human history? I mean really. For one thing, the image of woman as weaver is as old as mythology (often coming in threes, as in the case of the Moirae and the Zoryas), and it's clear that the sisterhood and the tres brujas are weavers--of space and time, of possibility. The arcane sacrifice which the sisterhood makes for the warp riders is never stated explicitly, but we can imagine--not that we need to. Women have always made every sacrifice necessary for the sake of men's ambition. Even in Dune, which I find to be shockingly feminist for the time period in which it was written, the Bene Gesserit--awesomely powerful, intelligent, and significant female characters--are waiting for their Ereth, though to Frank Herbert's credit they are extremely active in their waiting. The "shining angel" of Warp Riders, the spaceship destined to save Ereth's life and then to be used by him, the living womb traveling across through the ether to meet her fate; the mysterious "Lady" referenced in the final track, who keeps her promises; the sisterhood who seemingly exist only to make space travel possible: these are the functions of women. Notably, the functions of men--to move at liberty, to fight, to explore, to learn--are also present in the forms of Ereth the voyager (and his phallic weaponry), the pirates of "Night City", and the Chronomancer (a magician of esoterica and strange lore). The male characters space-hop, chill at bars on the Night Side of Acheron, gather armadas, ferret out ancient knowledge from caves and tombs, and generally do the explorer-warrior-sage thang.

If I sound bitter, apologies. I'm not--really! This is really an awesome album. I love the band who created it, I love sci-fi and fantasy stories, I love concept albums. It's totally solid and definitely worth listening to, and it's still on constant rotation in my car. But my appetite for deconstruction is difficult to slake and a story like this is hard to resist, but thankfully, this is one case in which my awareness of certain gaps in the story does not detract from my enjoyment. The ratio of awesome to eh is heavy on the awesome side. Cheers, Swordspeople. And have no fear! I'll get around to Thor eventually.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Film Fantasy Friday: Squire

Hark, children, I speak to you from the past--this post was written yesterday, because guess what bitches, today I'm busy graduating and shit. INDEED. So in congratulations to myself, this week's book-to-film is my favorite book about my favorite Tortallan heroine: Squire by Tamora Pierce.

Keladry of Mindelan: played by Emily Browning, Kel is a newly-minted squire, joining Raoul of Goldenlake and the men of the King's Own for four years of thankless labor, jousting practice, and proving dumbasses wrong about women in combat.

Raoul of Goldenlake: played by Antonio Banderas, Raoul is the Knight Commander of the King's Own and Kel's master. He's a jolly fellow and a sworn bachelor...though who knows what could happen on a chilly winter night with an old friend?

Wyldon of Cavall: played by Ed Harris, Wyldon is Kel's former training instructor, whom she both admires and is confused and occasionally angered by.

Cleon of Kennan: played by Domhnall Gleeson, Cleon is a knight and Kel's love.

Buriram Tourakom: played by Zuleikha Robinson, Buri is the Commander of the Queen's Own (a paramilitary force) and the queen's oldest friend.

Domitan of Masbolle: played by Matt Bomer, Dom is Neal's cousin and lieutenant of Third Company. He is smokin'.

Nealan of Queenscove: played by Andrew Garfield, Neal is Kel's best friend and squire to Alanna the Lioness, from whom he is learning humility restraint cool-headedness healing as well as swordplay.

Lerant of Eldorne: played by William Moseley, Lerant is the irritable standard-bearer of Third Company. He is jealous of Kel's place in the company.

And that's how Diana casts it. All images pulled from Google and Wikipedia.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


There are so many fantastic nerd offerings this summer that I decided I needed to post them here in order to a) rejoice over them in a public display of lust and anticipation and b) remember them all. Therefore, beginning in May and running through July (my count for "official" summer, Florida's nine-month summer notwithstanding):

May 6, 2011: Thor opens in US theatres. Can I just point out what an excellent graduation present this is? Thanks, Marvel! Hobo With A Shotgun, starring Rutger Hauer, is also getting a limited release this week.

May 13, 2011: Niche-nerdy, but Hesher opens in LA and NYC. Why do I not live in a cool city? I have Joseph Gordon-Levitt heavy metal needs!

May 20, 2011: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides opens. I don't even care anymore, I would throw money at this franchise even if Geoffrey Rush, Johnny Depp, and Ian McShane just spent the whole film drinking and screwing. Wait, "even if"? How about "especially if"?

June 3, 2011: X-Men: First Class opens. After my initial reaction of ZOMGWTFCONTINUITY, I think this looks badass and I hope it's great.

June 10, 2011: Super 8 opens. I WANNA KNOW WHAT'S IN THE TRAIN DAMMIT. The Troll Hunter also gets a limited release. All I can say is, if the Norwegian folks in this film had ever read their Wil Huygen, they might not be so surprised at the fact that trolls are for reals.

June 17, 2011: Green Lantern opens. As far as comic movies go this summer, GL is pretty low on my list...a sentiment I hope is changed when I see it. I do love the Green Lanterns, but I vastly prefer John Stewart to Hal Jordan. Also, Ryan Reynolds to plz go make a Deadpool film.

June 14, 21, 28: LORD OF THE RINGS: EXTENDED EDITIONS SHOW IN AMC THEATRES. No words, dudes. No. Words.

July 1, 2011: Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon opens. Unfortunately I will have to see this, because my hometown and my favorite hick restaurant get a shout-out. Damn you Michael Bay.

July 8, 2011: Project Nim has a limited release. I really want to see this documentary. Netflix, don't fail me!

July 15, 2011: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 opens. And my childhood ends. In fire and tears. BRB, stocking up on tissues.

July 22, 2011: Captain America: The First Avenger is released. Can I just say, I think Marvel really missed a primo opportunity by not having this premiere on the Fourth of July? Another Earth also gets a limited release today.

July 29, 2011: Cowboys & Aliens opens. FUCK and YES are the only words coming to mind. Maybe also I'VE MISSED DANIEL CRAIG'S ARMS.

And that's just the movies, guyz! In terms of reading material, DC's newest event, Flashpoint, kicks off on May 11, Batman Inc. and Birds of Prey and a dozen other awesome series are going strong. ShadowFlame, the second book in Dianne Sylvan's Shadow World series, comes out July 26. Where She Went, Gayle Forman's sequel to the awesome If I Stay, came out two weeks ago. Forever, the third book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater, comes out on July 12. And Karen Healey's new title The Shattering is set for international release on July 11 (though we don't get it here until September, WOE!). The eleventh Sookie Stackhouse novel just came out last week. For Song of Ice and Fire fans, George R.R. Martin has FINALLY announced that he's finished Dance With Dragons.

It is a great time to be a geek. Rejoice in it! Wallow in it! This summer was made for us. Oh, and check out Girls Read Comics Too for an admirably lucid take on the newest piece of stupidity in the geek blogosphere, which I refuse to link to here (I did Tweet it though, if you follow). My response was just to sigh and turn on Sex and the City, since that's all I'm really capable of enjoying...props to Emma Houxbois for the awesome post! Also note that this Saturday is Free Comic Book Day! Check out your local shop for free issues and awesome deals on everything else.

Monday, May 02, 2011

International Pagan Coming Out Day

Dirt-worshippers, tree-huggers, Asatruar, Goddess women, faeries, voudouisants, Wiccans, crystal-gazers, shamans, merry apatheists, UUs, hedgewalkers, witches, animists, and Others unite! There is power in names, as any fantasy fan knows: if you can, and you feel you ought, name yourself. Don't let anyone else do it for you. I am an atheist; I am a pagan. I get to say who I am. My voice is mine.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Body Appreciation Sunday

You may notice that there is no colon and no sub-heading in this post's title--no "eyes" or "armpits." That is because today I am celebrating the entire body. Today is May 1st--May Day, or Beltane, or the feast day of St. Walpurga, or the central day of Floralia. Any way you slice it, today's the day for celebrating the body in the most carnal ways possible: with dancing, with eating, with wandering around outside, with adorning oneself with bright colors and fine textures and bright baubles, with jumping around dangerously large fires, and most certainly with fucking.

I like days that encourage these sorts of things. To that end, trust--today I've wandered around outside, I've worn red and turquoise and loud jewelry, I've drunk pomegranate mimosas in the middle of the day and cooked love foods (sausages and strawberries, among other things), I've covered my apartment in flowers, I've danced around with a frying pan in my hands to Lady Gaga, and since it's illegal to start a bonfire in my complex greenery, I've lit as many candles as possible.

And now I am going to undress my manfriend, thank you very much, and glory in his body and mine. We are temples. You are temples. Today, far more than Valentine's Day, is the day for love in all its forms. Bask in it, folks.

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