Feb. 5th, 2014 11:15 am
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (lennon cat)
Tweetie's school had a two-hour delay this morning, on account of snow. I got up at the usual time anyway, because I was so stuffed up and thought it'd be nice if I could breathe. What coffee, meds, and a shower couldn't quite accomplish, the walk to-and-from school--twice, once with Tweetie, once with her violin and music stand--has. I can breathe now and, yes, it IS nice.

I'm wearing my wrist braces most nights, and often during the day, too. Because of wrists and depression and a trial membership of Amazon Prime, I've been watching way too much tv. I finally got to see the first season of Vikings. I'm most of the way through season 1 of Copper. I'm zooming through Parks and Recreation. I watched season 4 of Justified and season 5 of Sons of Anarchy. I tried Lost Girl. I've been rewatching season 2 Buffy. ALL THE TV GIVE IT TO MEEEEE!

I've roused myself from my self-pity enough to pick up another book to read, Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie.

Writing time is devoted mostly to the next novel, with occasional breaks to work on a short story for a Secret Thing or to provide extras for recent or upcoming poetry publications. I hope to get back on track soon with the Writing Latin@ Characters Well series, but we shall see.

How's everybody else doing? It'd do me good to focus on somebody else for a change.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (morena baccarin)
Last week I wrote about stereotypes regarding Latinas. This time I'm thinking about the men. It occurs to me that the stereotypes about women revolve around sex and those about men concern work. There's some overlap, of course (the Mexican maid, the Latin lover), but I wonder if the tendency to lump into those two groups reflects USian obsessions or my own observation biases.

By far the most prevalent Latino stereotype I see in fiction and movies is the gangbanger. I don't even know what to do with that. Can we just call a moratorium on writing Latino gang members?

If you write crime fic, if you've researched real gangs and their methods of operation, if you portray a range of Latin@ characters—individuals versus groups, I might give you a pass. Under those circumstances, you're less likely to mistake fashion (or camouflage) for a uniform, or confuse safety-in-numbers for gangs. For example, in INK by Sabrina Vourvoulias, anti-immigrant legislation has essentially criminalized the existence of most non-whites in the near-future US. Vourvoulias portrays a range of covert communities, including Latino gangs. Although not POV characters, the gang leaders Toño and Neto are portrayed sympathetically and distinctly.

Richard Kadrey veers from the gangbanger stereotype in Sandman Slim with his portrayal of Carlos, the owner of the Bamboo House of Dolls, "LA's greatest and only punk-tiki bar." Carlos has a physique that suggests ex-football player or boxer, but he has an aversion to guns. Carlos admits he did time for boosting cars as a kid, but he seems to have been on the straight and narrow since. He asks the main character to deal with the skinheads demanding protection money from him. It's refreshing that he doesn't have recourse to friends or relatives who are gang members.

When writing about different eras, take care not to fall into the gang member stereotype under another guise. For example, if your story is set in 1940s California, think twice about making your sole Latino character a gangster in a zoot suit. Likewise, don't assume futuristic drug cartels will use the same distribution pathways used now, or that a drug kingpin must always be brown.

The flipside of the Latino gang member is the Latino cop or military guy. With a backstory of struggling against the evil influences of drugs and gangs, the Latino cop or soldier represents the "good" minority who pulls himself up by his bootstraps and seeks to help his community. Grimm just featured one of these guys in its "El Cucuy" episode. Most representations of these "good guy" Latinos, especially the military types, ignore the social realities that guide Latinos into those careers, nor do they question the morality of police or military work.

"Jorge Mariscal, Ph.D., director of Chicano/a studies and professor of literature at University of California San Diego, has researched Latinos in the military and says that there are three basic reasons Latinos join–the lack of opportunities to pursue other careers since education is being priced out for many working class people, a tradition of military service in many families, and the appealing masculinity attached to serving. He points out that the highest percentage of Latinos is in the Marine Corps, which is often considered 'the baddest gang in the world.'" [emphasis mine; source]

From the same source: "the army intentionally uses Latino recruiters in Latino areas, and…to get families on board, recruiters often make home visits, which is very rare in the recruitment of other nationalities."

Agent Carlos Delacruz in Daniel Jose Older's Salsa Nocturna is a welcome departure from typical Latino cops. In fact, when reading Carlos's stories, one realizes how rare it is to hear a Latino tell his own story, cop or otherwise.  Although definitely one of the good guys, Carlos is matter-of-fact about his bosses not being awesome. We get an insider's view of the racism and power politics involved in the supernatural equivalent of the NYPD.

Private First Class Vasquez in ALIENS is memorable largely because she's a genderswap of the stereotypically macho Marine. But the critique of military force in ALIENS is important, too. And though Vasquez falls on the wrong side of that critique, she is shown dealing with sexism and mourning the death of one of her comrades. So she rises above the usual Latin@ (and action-hero) caricatures.

Latinos are often portrayed as lazy. This folds into the gangbanger stereotype, as the typical gang member is shown holding up a wall until called upon to fight or commit some crime. Ironically, in the double-think common to prejudice, alongside the cartoon Mexican who sleeps under a sombrero against a cactus (because I guess we don't feel pain like white folks?), we often have the martyred migrant farmworker. Cowardly, powerless, and/or ignorant, the downtrodden farmworkers need a charismatic savior to advocate for and organize them. (Mulder and Scully showed up to investigate once, because chupacabras, but the agents did nothing for the workers' living conditions.)

Cesar Chavez notwithstanding (incidentally, did you know he served in the Navy?), the charismatic labor leader story is a version of the "Great Man" theory of history. As such, it ignores the fact that Latin@s, Mexicans especially, have a long history of union and anarchist organization. Por ejemplo. It would be exciting to see stories that convey an understanding of Latin@ union history, or that portray Latin@ farm owners and their employees, whether those farms operate in the US or elsewhere, past present or future.

Terraforming is common in space opera, yet we don't often see Latin@ characters engaged in that work. Agriculture will be crucial to human survival on other planets, but too often, once ag work achieves that level of sophistication or becomes high-stakes, writers whitewash the workers.

On a slightly different note, the tv show Revolution caught my eye when it introduced Mexican day laborers, with a twist. In Revolution's post-techno-apocalypse, Americans clamor for the opportunity to do physical labor in Mexico. The white protags, who are searching for a family member in Mexico, pose as day laborers to get across the border. Unfortunately, we never see the labor reversal truly developed. Once chosen for farm work and smuggled across the border, the white protags hijack the wagon and head off in a different direction, quickly running afoul of—wait for it!--a Mexican gang.

I said I wasn't going to focus on the negative, but I'll harp on Revolution's misstep a bit longer, because I think it's emblematic of spec fic's failures. For this storyline, the writers had already broken with status quo by reversing the day-laborer scenario. They'd already done some world-building regarding US-Mexican relations. But the show failed to commit to its own innovation. Revolution needed conflict between the American and Mexican characters, and it resorted to an old standby, rather than using something that likely already existed in its nascent world-building.

If we truly want more diversity in spec fic, we need to go beyond the gesture or flourish. We need to commit.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (hola)
Last night J and I watched John Dies at the End (courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] handful_ofdust). Originally, I'd planned to read the book, but then I got confused as to whether it was a book or movie, and I ended up with it in my movie queue. Given David's narration in the movie, I think it worked out for the best. I'm not sure I could've handled that voice in my head for long. (Although I was curious about whether the book made David's mother's mental status do more heavy lifting. Feel free to spoil me in the comments!)

That said, I'm unsure what I think of the movie itself. I'll have to watch it again. My first impression is that it wasn't as wacky as it made itself out to be. Also, I don't think it's just my degree in philosophy that made the film's questions about time and space feel sophomoric. David's philosophizing actually made Catholicism sound logical in comparison--which is not meant as a dig at Catholicism, because faith and religious paradoxes, etc. (The Catholic detective had the strongest characterization and some of the best lines in the movie.) As I watched, I kept thinking of Vonnegut and Lynch and Naked Lunch--all tough acts to follow. Or maybe I'm missing something, maybe I'm too old. The munitions factory sequence especially reminded me of Slaughterhouse-Five.

But Clancy Brown! I've loved him since Highlander.


Michael Northen reviewed WisCon Chronicles 7: Shattering Ableist Narratives for Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature. Northen pays special attention to essays by s.e. smith, Nisi Shawl ( [livejournal.com profile] nisi_la ), Kathryn Allan, and Andrea Hairston (who provides a seriously awesome analysis of the movie Source Code). Northen also mentions my essay, "Dead Man Not Walking: Bobby Singer's Paralysis and Repair on Supernatural." Here's my thesis:

One might expect a show revolving around combat to tell its story through a range of handicapped bodies and injured psyches. Instead, Bobby's paraplegia is the only physical disability of a main character on Supernatural. In fact, Bobby's reluctance to "emote" about his disability mirrors the show's reluctance to depict a physically disabled character. Its limited depiction reflects discomfort with highly visible assistive devices, value judgments regarding accommodation, and fears of uselessness and lost identity. Furthermore, the miracle cure Bobby receives at a plot-convenient moment suggests ease of storytelling trumps full participation of the disabled character.

This was a really important essay for me to write because I love Supernatural like whoa, but the whoa is sometimes because the show is deeply flawed in its treatments of race, gender, sexuality, and yes, disability. (In fact, I've outlined another essay about how Bobby's wheelchair storyline is used in the show.) I am deeply grateful to editor JoSelle Vanderhooft ( [livejournal.com profile] upstart_crow ) for choosing my work for WCC7 and to Michael Northen for the in-depth review.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (O rly)
As a fan but not a "Fan" of Teen Wolf, I found the aftermath of that fandom's recent explosion quite illuminating.

It seems the worst thing one can do is challenge someone's fanhood, even if that person has done something egregiously awful--say, hacking into their beloved celebrity's personal photos and posting the photos online. Although most everyone I read on tumblr admitted that "stealing" personal photos was wrong, many fans also sounded discomfited by the celebrity (Tyler Hoechlin) questioning whether the thief was a "True Fan." As if they were concerned that they too might be called out if they crossed some invisible line. To my mind, password protection offers a very visible line between right and wrong, fan and criminal, but perhaps I am old fashioned.

The celebrity may have compromised the fan's privacy by using her tumblr handle on twitter. (although I'd think turnabout would be fair play) The fan claims to now be receiving death threats from other fans. Did Tyler sic his fans on the thief? Did he "allow" his followers to attack her? I don't know. Perceptions seem clouded by whether a person interprets the power dynamic as favoring the celebrity (he's "rich," he's beautiful and famous, he's got legions of followers) or the fan (empowered by anonymity, whereas the celebrity has ceded all expectations of privacy).

As a Supernatural fan, I can't help but wonder how the CW would've handled the fiasco. It's hard to speculate, since the stars of Supernatural were social-media reticent until maybe season 4, but I've always had the impression that the CW has fiat power over how Jared and Jensen interact with online fans. And that guest stars and crew make themselves available to fans as a way to draw some of the heat off the guys. (Jared asserts himself more now; after eight seasons, he's earned the right--and now he's got a family to protect.)

MTV released promotional video that's obviously fan service. It shows Tyler and a co-star hanging all over each other, thus fueling their characters' OTP status. (Had the personal photos not shown Tyler kissing a popular actress, more to the point--a woman--I doubt we'd have gotten such an uproar. Tyler having a heterosexual romance apparently stomps fans' fantasies.) CW also strategically releases promo material to sustain fan interest, but I can't think of an instance where it moved this fast to save face.

Whether at the behest of MTV or not, Tyler requested via twitter that fans "Forgive and Forget" and all be friends again. I don't think it works that way, but it sounds nice.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (neon sign)
It is Spring Break at Limoncello. Even JJ took the week off. Last week we did a major cleaning, so all that's left are some odd jobs before we head to Wisconsin for adventures.

One of the odd jobs was buying new luggage for J and Tweetie. (My suitcase is in decent shape.) They found a deal at CostCo, getting a matching set of "Ricardo of Beverly Hills" hardcases with slick caster wheels. Tweetie has thus named her suitcase Ricardo and spent a LOT of time yesterday speaking in a loving robotic voice to Ricardo and her old suitcase, Space Giant. (Why was she speaking in a robotic voice? I don't know. But it was weirdly cute.) She also donned as a toga the foam sheeting that came in the cases, then had the suitcases wear it as well. And, she curled up to read in the big box that the luggage came in. So, good purchase!

We continue to watch Smallville as a family. We are in ssn 9 and I spend most of my viewing time rolling my eyes so hard it's a wonder they haven't rolled out of their sockets. The show is a debacle. Plot holes and fantasy elements that only a tween could accept, but with hokey sexual content that embarrasses us all. Alas, Tweetie is hooked. I enjoy Teen Wolf MUCH more, but it's scary for Tweetie, so we have to pace ourselves with that show.

I'll admit to one highlight of watching Smallville this week: after a magician cast a spell on Clark Kent to make him kiss and make out with her, Tweetie told me, "I know what that was. That was rape." I was astonished, but got it together enough to agree that yes, sexual activity without proper consent from the participants was rape. And I was proud that she knew that, even though she likes the show, even though it was a man who was the victim, even though the aggressor was a smiley female and the episode continued as if it had all been a game. Tweetie was not fooled.

We've been investigating the history of our town a bit. Using a Google program called Field Trip, J found mention of a devastating fire at a glove factory near the Iowa River back in 1911. We hadn't even known there was a glove factory. So we went to the site, which is rather glum looking now, being a run-down industrial area and now home to the sprawling recycling center. We agreed the site would've been a very convenient factory location, near the river, near the railroad tracks.

Also using Field Trip, J showed Tweetie a photo of a man fishing in the Iowa River right near a fish ladder. After explaining to her what a fish ladder was, I suggested it wasn't very sporting to fish there. I said, "It's like building a bridge over a highway so people can walk across, then shooting them." Tweetie's face went pale and tight. After a moment, she said, "Mom, sometimes you scare me."

A Blockbuster store was going out of business, so we went in to score some cheap DVDs. I got Pontypool, The Crazies, The River's Edge (all of which I've seen and enjoyed before), and a couple of things for Tweetie. I also saw about 500 copies of My One and Only, a 2009 Renee Zellweger movie I'd never even heard of. J suggested Blockbuster's inventory of that movie for the entire country had ended up in this store. It still seemed like way too many.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (lennon cat)
There's a crow conference being held down my street. Some crows are doing that clicking purr in their throat, sounding disdainful or disappointed. Maybe just tsking that the meeting is starting late. Other crows are cawing, as if to drive off curious onlookers. At least one has learned to honk. I like the crows, but I try not to stare. They are like the mafia of the avian world, and they have long memories.

I may have found a way to keep the kitchen table clean and uncluttered: Bribery. Tweetie loves to eat by candlelight, even if we have the overhead fixture on as well. So I've told her if she helps me keep the table clear, we can have candlelight more often. So far, so good.

I had been doing LetterMo, then I got really sick and gave up, but now that I'm mostly recovered, I've realized I'm not that far off track. Granted, I haven't gotten to the mailbox every day, but I've sent multiples at a time, so number-wise, I'm close. And I have received some really fabulous mail.

Our family started watching Teen Wolf on Netflix. I think it's hilarious--really, the "dramatic" shots of Derek suddenly looming in the moonlight, then gone in the blink of an eye? It helps that he looks like every broody dude on the cover of a paranormal romance. And I LOVE Stiles. I just want to rub his fuzzy head and clap a hand over his motormouth. 
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (hola)
1. I am finally starting to feel human again, though I keep overestimating my ability to remain awake and upright. The fortunate thing about having been so inarguably ill...

leave me alone to die

is that I was forced to cede control over a number of things I thought were important (and which may have well been) but that were diminishing my resources without sufficient payoff. 

castiel I quit

2. Winchester Wednesday! A new episode of Supernatural airs tonight, and though I don't love it the way I used to, it's been surprisingly entertaining as of late...

sam and dean in the batcave by huntercest

and it gives me an excuse to be alone for an hour on a weeknight. (Tweetie is allowed to watch it but prefers not to. And JJ keeps Tweetie company and keeps her on task with her school night routine. (Except for when something happens to the Impala and I shriek in horror, at which point he rushes in to ask, "Are you okay?") Win-win? I think so.)

3. My first winter women's retreat was successful. We all agreed it wasn't quite long enough, and I spent most of it sick, but it seems to have done the trick for me, jogging me out of some unhelpful patterns. I really enjoyed tromping around in the snow, following deer tracks, trying to figure out where the land ended and the snow-covered river began, eating pristine snow, finding still-verdant streams, lying in the snow and waiting for the stars to materialize, listening for coyotes...

4. Banana Joe. I love that name. I say it just to smile: "Banana Joe."

5. Stoned corgis. Corgis in mailboxes. Floppy-eared corgis

6. Only half an hour before I can take more medicine.

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (hola)
Today I saw five bald eagles sitting together in a couple of trees on the Iowa River. That's the most I've ever seen at once, and I've never seen them "congregated" like that.

Today I wrote my first poem in my new monsoon journal. I filled up my previous journal just before Christmas (though I did have to cut out a bunch of blank pages so it would close (more or less)). I'd done some art journaling in the new book, but I was feeling twitchy about writing in it ("it's too beautiful for my stupid scribbles") until this morning, when I had most of a long poem for [livejournal.com profile] diatryma lready composed in my head. What the hell, I thought, and jumped right in.

I started watching American Horror Story n Netflix, and I like it. For one, any show that averages two double-homicides per episode is alright by me. Srsly, I think I've counted 8 instances of multiple murder and I just finished episode 3. I really love that the female lead, played by Connie Britton, is allowed to look more or less her age, and that the daughter, Violet, is both as merciless as only a teenager can be, but also vulnerable and honest. Although I have "issues" with the character of Addie and the Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? -ness of Jessica Lange, they're minor quibbles until I see how things unfold. I just now noticed, there are a lot of women on the show, which is refreshing. The only other show I watch with a comparable number of women characters is Once Upon a Time, which is on Netflix and family friendly, so we've been working through season 1.

Tweetie is on a media binge. She received a set of the Case Closed dvds from her dad for Christmas, and she regularly disappears for hours to watch the anime mysteries. She also received a digital camera from...someone...and has been shutterbugging around the house. We're both amused by her two-minute videos of the mundane, me because how much can you say about stray cat toys and our bulletin board; her because of the cognitive dissonance between her recorded voice and the voice she normally hears. Also, JJ updated her laptop (which used to be my laptop (Cherry Pie)), and now she is playing games with much less frustration.

I've been fiddling with my LJ theme, and am once again grateful for my hacker husband, who can carry out  orders like, "Get rid of all the friggin' pink!" I need to add a sticky note to the home page, but I'm terrible at writing bios and profiles, so it'll take me a while to figure out what to say. Suggestions (even silly ones) are welcome. :) I'd also like a more fitting mood theme, so if you have recommendations as to where to find good/weird ones, I'd love to see 'em.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (Maggie with Coffee)
As always, you are welcome to share your Happy-Making Things in the comments! 

1. Programmable coffeemakers. We never had one when I was a kid, so these seem amazing to me. Mine is a minimal set-up; I load it up the night before and push "delay brew" and it switches on in the morning. It's easier to wake up when you know you have coffee waiting, and I need coffee before I'm able to brew coffee these days (fumbly fingers and fumblier brain on dark winter mornings). So, YAY, Mr.Coffee--even if he is starting to sound like a dragon.

2. Killian's Irish Red. I don't drink a lot of beer, and I usually prefer hard ciders, but I had this red lager last week and when I tried to have it again at a different pub, the bar was OUT and I was DEVASTATED. The waiter was unsettled when I actually cried out in horror, then mayhaps offended when I rejected his suggested pale lager substitutes with another outburst. (Eventually he warmed up to me. To hubby, not so much.) BUT, to focus on the HAPPY, I love this beer and would like to marry it.

3. DVD director commentaries--most recently, the Sons of Anarchy season 4 commentary. The actual commentary was rarely substantive and there were too many participants to keep track of who was saying what all the time, but I felt really, really relieved to hear the creator Kurt Sutter's relentless stammering. Even Tweetie mentioned all his "uhh, you know, um..."s (before she asked why all those guys cursed so much). And this is comforting to me because I think Sutter's show is excellent and the story choices often masterful and to know that this talented, successful man can sound as awkward as I do when my nouns go missing, well it was reassuring. 

4. Speaking of Sons of Anarchy, Happy Lohman, who gets all the best lines in SoA, including this timeless gem: "He's got to die. Like a lot."

5. My media savvy daughter. We were watching tv the other night, and an Obama campaign commercial came on. As the female narrator delivered a conspiratorial-toned dressing-down of Romney, Tweetie looked at me and whispered, "Negative campaigning." I was flabbergasted she could tell, even though it was "our" candidate's commercial, just from the voice it used. I was so proud.

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (thinking bros)
Thanks to the wonders of Netflix streaming, I got to try out several shows I'd heard about but never watched, since we have the most basic of cable packages. (Really basic, just enough to ensure the local stations come through the static.)

First off, Tweetie is wild about Phineas and Ferb, and weirdly enough, I like it, too. It rewards kids for re-viewing and remembering, and it genuinely amuses me without ever becoming too "adult" (or suggestive, I guess I should say).

The Walking Dead puzzles me. Despite plot holes big enough to drive our rental car through, I keep watching. Mostly, I think, to see how a TV series handles a story of that scope. I dislike a lot of the characters. Some I *want* to like but can't, because the writers use them as plot devices (Darryl, for example, who is only a hothead until the writers need the story to move along, at which point, he concedes to whatever the Sheriff's plan is). I have mixed feelings about the racial elements of the show, too. But I guess sometimes I just need to see people being attacked by zombies and shooting the hell out of those disgusting walking corpses.

Twin Peaks is a rewatch for me. I can't remember, as a 14 yr old, watching many episodes after finding out who killed Laura Palmer mid season 2. Most viewers' enthusiasm seems to have been similarly defused, but now, as a writer, I find it fascinating to study the show and try to understand why it failed so badly at the soap opera format. When it was all about the Palmer murder, it functioned rather like a mini-series. Once the opening mystery was resolved, viewers seemed not to care much about the rest of the town's more mundane problems. Even the serial killer stalking Agent Cooper isn't too compelling. Personally, I love Audrey Horne and still enjoy the show when it follows her development. I'll probably finish this re-watch over the winter break.

Sons of Anarchy. I loved season 1. I seriously wept with gratitude at the season finale, which pulled together story elements I'd forgotten from early episodes to create a damn satisfying conclusion. I have kind of stalled out for the time being, however, because the rape storyline in season 2 is so upsetting to me. But I suspect I'll get back on the horse soon enough. I need a Juice fix, after all.  ;)

Still in the queue is Terriers. Only so many hours in the day, you know?

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (thinking bros)
I am not a good TV viewer. I grew up in a family that was very...interactive with TV shows. We mocked and berated the characters endlessly. We rewrote dialogue ala Mystery Science Theater 3000. Nothing was sacred. I was in my teens before I realized that some folks, you know, actually sit and *watch* a show. Now that my evenings are filled with homework and cooking dinner and school night routines, I don't have time to watch network TV, even when I can find a show that doesn't piss me off.

My only must-see TV this year remained Supernatural. Not because I was dying to know what would happen next, but because I felt compelled by dread. How else could they massacre Dean's character? How much bigger were Sam's sideburns going to get? Would they ever mention Adam again? How could Castiel be dead?! Every once in a while, there's a smidge of brilliance that could've been squeezed into a previous season, but those moments make watching even more painful. Whenever some fan mentions the possibility of an eighth season, I die a little.

The shows I tried via Netflix:

Survivors, a BBC apocalypse-by-superflu drama. I watched five episodes before I couldn't stomach the lead anymore. So "good," so "moral," she's bulletproof. Don't get me wrong, it was a huge relief to see a post-apocalypse world where women didn't automatically become a resource akin to gasoline and penicillin. But the way characters reacted to the heroine was just ridiculous.

Being Human, a BBC show about a ghost, a vampire, and a werewolf who live together. I persevered until Season 2, disc 2, when the male leads were total assholes, the women were flimsy plot devices, and the religious freaks were powering the main storyline.

Arrested Development. Seventeen episodes I really enjoyed. But there's only character I care about, and frankly, humor--in and of itself--isn't sufficient to keep me watching. I know, I'm a curmudgeon.

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (hola)
Hi! I feel crummy, and have for about a week now! But I don't want to talk about that because it is BORING. So instead I offer five happy-making things, with LINKS!

1. Pontypool. I'd been wanting to see this movie for a long time, and it finally appeared on my Netflix streaming queue. Here's the trailer. (Incidentally, the DJ's tirade against the winter weather is about twice as long as what you hear in the clip. I could identify.) Pontypool is an ambitious little horror movie uniquely suited to writerly audiences. It takes place almost entirely in a small-town radio station, over the course of one day. The three main characters (two of them women) gradually piece together the nature of a viral outbreak turning their town into babbling psychos. There's little gore (though what there is, is effectively distressing) and it comes maybe three-quarters of the way in. Almost all the suspense depends on storytelling: the DJ tells stories, people who call into the station give reports, messages come in via internet and disembodied military announcements. I found the premise imaginative and quite disconcerting. 

2. "Girls on Film: The Battle between Feminism and Horror". This essay does a super job of conveying both feminist successes and remaining challenges for portrayals of women in horror films. And note that the title itself is not careless. The central females in these movies are usually *girls*, not women. And that in itself is something to think about...

3. Gross bikes! You know those people whose reaction to smelling something truly heinous is to try to make YOU smell it? I'll admit, I'm being kind of like that here. I was looking up customized motorcycle gas tanks and I found, in addition to copious breasts--including some pneumatic examples on the Mona Lisa--this really disgusting bike that squicked me out, maybe even more so after I'd seen the smutty ones that give a whole new meaning to "crotch rocket." Because on this one, the gas tank looks like a human heart. The bike cost $120,000.

4. Jezebel.com shared a youtube video by Caitlin, a fun, friendly mortician willing to answer random questions about death and funerary practices. In the posted vid, Caitlin explains rigor mortis and how long it lasts, as well as what does and does not happen during the cremation process. And she shows off her pet python.

5. I've been rewatching "Twin Peaks" (that's the happy-making thing) and I'm intrigued by its portrayals of characters with mental and physical handicaps (not happy but thoughtful-making). For example, Donna's mother uses a motorized wheelchair. A reason has not been given (I'm on ep 2.5 or 6), and it's not really relevant. There's a handsome young man who's a shut-in due to agoraphobia. The Log Lady, although she can be taken for laughs, is no sillier than any other character. As much credence is given to her log's eyewitness reports as to Agent Cooper's dream visions. There's a one-armed man who remains suspicious, and Nadine's bipolar behavior is over-the-top, but a lot of the characters are over-the-top. It's a soap that pokes fun at soaps. Still, much to think about...

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (hola)

The other night I finished watching the first season of Sons of Anarchy. I near wept with happiness. Such good storytelling. My favorite character is Juice. (Are you surprised? Tell me you're not surprised.) Look at this cutie.

theo rossi times four 

And here's a strangely happy song I fell in love with yesterday... (It's strange I fell in love with something so happy, is what I mean.)

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (hammer head)
Tamora Pierce ([info]tammypiercesounds off about the upcoming NBC tv show "Playboy Club" that completely infuriates me as well, but for which I couldn't summon the necessary righteous eloquence.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (boondock saints smoke)

1. Wig and Pen's Flying Tomato Pizza Pie in my belly right NOW

2. I sold a poem to Strange Horizons!

3. Beautiful found poetry jewelry by [livejournal.com profile] chimera_fancies now on sale

4. a lovely Thanksgiving Day card in the mail from one of our tribe

5. I remembered it was library day for Tweetie. No overdue books this week!

6. Aquaman on Smallville--how is there any water left on earth with this dude so smoking HOT?

ETA: I knew I shoulda waited until after Supernatural! Dean versus Tinkerbell--like deep-fried crack.

Women on TV

Nov. 1st, 2010 10:01 am
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (garcia)

i. I love Supernatural, you know I do. I can compartmentalize like nobody's business. But I could've given myself an aneurysm this Friday trying to suppress my fury.

Dean is sitting in a bar feeling sorry for himself (as per usual) and the bartender strikes up a conversation. My interest skyrockets. Because the bartender is a black woman--and she has lines. (Entire episodes of SPN pass without a woman in a speaking role, let alone a black woman.) This woman is not glammed up, but she's attractive. She seems sympathetic but not naive, as a good bartender should be. She's got lines of dialogue. Is she an actual character? Will she be important? I'm on the edge of my seat.

Then the truth curse hits and she blurts out that she's afraid she can't get pregnant because God knows her marriage is a sham. I am shocked. Didn't see that coming, and her character just took on loads of depth. And then, while Dean and I are still processing, she blurts out that she's been snorting oxy all day.

And there goes that delusion of mine. Figures that Show gives a black woman a speaking role only to unveil her as a druggie.

ii. We don't need another Law and Order show, and yet...Skeet Ulrich and Terrence Howard. My brain says NO, my heart (or is it my ovaries?) says YES. I watched two episodes of Law and Order: Los Angeles. And regretted it.

With the first, I decided I didn't buy Ulrich as a cop/detective. Director might be overcompensating for Ulrich's still-youthful vulnerability by making him play it too reserved and beatdown. I also disliked that all the female characters in that episode were merely dots connecting the male characters, who were the ones really driving the story.

With the second, I realized the female characters as connecting dots was a Thing for the show. And the episode was about a blond American woman who is so desperate for love that she converts to an extreme form of Islam (is there any other kind on television?) and becomes a terrorist. Nice. And Terrence Howard plays a typical tv DA: he uses those soulful eyes and pleads until I'm willing to testify to anyfuckingthing (hell, he could have my next child) and then when it suits his case, he throws the witness under the bus.

Done with that show.

iii. A headline on the front page of the Lifestyle section of USA Today proclaimed "Kick-butt aim is true / Girls rule TV." The photo made clear that girls meant women and kick-butt meant willing to use a gun.

Intrigued, I turned to the actual article, where the revised headline read, "These ladies want a piece of the TV action." So they don't rule, after all. They just want a piece.

The article profiles four female tv characters. Of the four, only two are really the stars of their own show, and one of the other two prefers "getting her flirt on with her trademark 'sex-pionage'."

So girls don't rule, only some of them kick butt, and only some of them have the ratings to get a second season. But if you just read the first headline, you'd think, Wow, women are taking over!

iv. I don't watch a lot of non-PBS Kids tv, and I don't think that's changing anytime soon.

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (sad panda)

One of my poetry profs told me that it was impossible to write a sad limerick. Just try it. Hanged homicidal mom? Hilarious. Little Miss Nobody? It is to chortle! Likewise, I used to be on this horror listserv that enjoyed debating the possibility of making various adorable animals horrific. Pandas were the go-to.

Well, this series of commercials comes pretty damn close. Especially the hospital scene at the end. My blood went cold, even as I laughed my ass and other appendages off.

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (abby)

Oh "Glee." Only you could dedicate a show to empowering young women, and end said show with two boys discussing one of those girls (ex-girlfriend to one, girlfriend to the other) like a possession, while she's standing right there--and she's too smitten to call them on it.

cafenowhere: abby from TV show NCIS, eyes closed, listening to music (abby dreaming)


scratched DVD
we munch popcorn
make up the rest


I think my one complaint about NetFlix is that every time we've ever gotten a damaged disc and asked for a replacement, I'd swear they turned around and sent us the exact same disc. The "replacement" always has the same problem in the same place as the "previous" disc. Actually, it also pisses me off that Netflix will recommend a movie I've *tried* to watch three times (Shoot 'em Up) but given up on because of the whole "replacement" runaround.

Last night J and I watched Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter, which was awful. Not even two minutes in, we were guffawing at "Captain Emo" and his dead-dudes raft. I have no idea how this 15-minute animated gory-story fits into the Watchmen world; I don't know enough about the original comic.

To make up for that--J was looking at me like, "You wasted a slot on our queue for *that*?"--we finished watching the British mini-series Jekyll. I loved it. It struck a good balance between campy horror and philosophical speculation, and there was some juicy gender commentary. Despite the eponymous male lead, at one point I asked J, "Does this story have *anything* to do with men?"

And tonight, Supernatural's back! With Bobby! And zombies!

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (Maggie with Coffee)


His mother
His psychiatric nurse
social secretary
His wife
(the whiny real life one
and the sultry dream version)
His private detective
and her pregnant lesbian lover
His as-yet unnamed
corporate pursuer, "She"
And me, Janey Come-lately,
his sympathetic Miss America



cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (Default)

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