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Monday, October 31, 2011


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?
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