Category Archives: seriously?!?

oh, tiger beatdown!

Basically, this movie seems very much like some guy – let us call him, for legal reasons, “Phlames Phlameron” – sat down and was like, “well, I like Star Wars. And I like masturbating to old copies of National Geographic. If only there were some way for me to combine these interests!”

Reasons I Laughed Out Loud, Offending Several Fellow Patrons, During The Major Motion Picture “Avatar.” @ Tiger Beatdown

“Avatar really did look like a Lisa Frank binder had sex with a mid-’80s sci-fi paperback cover and their baby threw up on your face, which was great.”


reading dudes

I just redid my livejournal, so I decided that this blog deserved a reciprocal souping up. I’m quite happy with the layout, and I encourage you to check it out!

I read Lev Grossman’s The Magicians shortly after I returned home (to Chicago) post Thanksgiving, and I am probably going to read it again on the plane home (to Orlando) this afternoon. I’ve been mulling over how to talk about it for two weeks now; this isn’t exactly my final word on the book, but it’s good enough to get started.

About three years ago, when I was working in Wash U’s library and processing new books, I realized that I was reading an awful lot of cisgender male authors. Without thinking too much about the implications, I decided that I was going to go out of my way to read female-identified authors (all other non-cisgender-male flavors of the gender spectrum being equally awesome, but not consciously on my radar at that point), because it seemed kind of silly. As a classicist, I was already trawling through a lot of dead white* dudes. This was also the summer that I read Cunt by Inga Muscio, because that is a book that all college ladies who like women and gender studies love, subsequently desiring giant posters of daisies to put up on their walls, at least if by “all college ladies” you mean “Olga.” Although I can’t say that I took anything directly from my reading material at the time (aside from the fact that the reason I’ve always thought Che Guevara was hot is that he looks like one of my ex-boyfriends – see: processing the new books) , I had become more aware of what I was reading, and more importantly, what our library was buying.

Right now, I read a lot of stuff by non-cisgender-dudes (let’s call ’em NCDs), even without taking into account that Most Fanfic Writers Are Girls. Part of this is that my reading tends to center around my academic work; part of this is just due to the fact that I tend to prefer books written by NCDs for whatever reason. I could never get past The Hobbit because even the promise of slashy subtext could not compensate for 700 pages of dudes slogging through a forest or whatever. The best part of that shit was Legolas’s hair, and Orlando Bloom was not in the book. Back on topic. When I do read books by cisgender dudes, I’m conscious of their gender identity, albeit in casual way. Terry Pratchett’s CD status would never put me off a Discworld book.

My friend H. Susanne Moore sold The Magicians to me with promises of drunk magic students making fun of Quidditch. Like I could refuse that. So I began the book with few expectations aside from meta magical boarding school lulz. I didn’t look at the jacket flap — actually, I still haven’t looked at the jacket flap, even though the book is within grabbing distance. TOO BAD, GENTLE READERS. For the first half of the book, I though it was going to be like Harry Potter with booze and sex, so I was taken by surprise as the book slowly veered away from the obvious path into a serious meditation on what fantasy means and the implications of power with few limits or purpose.

The Magicians is a really, really good book; I recommended it a few posts back cheek-by-jowl with The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, which is a smart and sassy feminist coming-of-age story, and my favorite book of 2007. I lend it to everyone. Like The Disreputable History, The Magicians ends with the main character having reached a place of knowledge rather than a “happy” ending. Frankie’s story is written for a younger audience, although it translates wonderfully to older readers; Quentin’s story is darker. The story doesn’t resolve with the conclusion of the novel; instead, we’re left with more questions than we ever had answers. They’re good questions. They messed me up for a few days, in the best kind of way. Like I said: a good book.

But it’s not quite as simple as that, of course. The Magicians is also incredibly and disconcertingly sexist. Although the most powerful magician in the story’s world is a woman, the female characters are never truly developed or explained to the reader. The magician in question sacrifices herself to save her (CD) lover, who is a jerk who cheated on her and has been spending his time post-graduation loafing aimlessly around NYC. The female characters in the book serve as objects of male sexual desire, symbols of motherhood, and/or they die. They are defined by their relationships to men: mother, sister, hot teacher, daughter, lover, sexual conquest, whatever. It’s pretty bleak for a gal in Fillory, NYC, Brakebills, wherever she goes in the magical world, or outside it.

I love this book. And I want to read it, think about it, discuss it, take it apart. But it’s like a barrel full of apples and some of them are the most delicious and some of them are rotten to the core. I came away with good questions, but I also came away with questions I didn’t want to have to ask: where are we? why are we invisible? why aren’t our questions important? why does my cunt make me pure and self-sacrificing and dirty and deranged? Also, dead.

I don’t have a daisy on my wall.

*Although we tend to forget that a lot of the Roman empire was, you know, Africa/the Middle East. I’m not sure how many authors from that area were of Italian descent (probably a good handful), but there were certainly people indigenous to those areas writing at that time, albeit those raised and educated in Roman imperial culture. Somebody has probably written about this, but I am heading out to the airport in three hours, so I do not have time to J-STOR.

when necessary use words

Ravenswood Community Services, which operates out of my church, All Saints Episcopal, was recently featured in two articles which appeared in New York TImes via the Chicago News Cooperative:

“Outside a World of Wealth Stands the Reality of Hunger”
“Vandalism at Food Pantry Shows Best and Worst of People “

You know, it’s really tempting to make broad generalizations. It’s really tempting to talk about RCS as though it’s a group of Robin Hoods, robbing the sidewalk space of a wealthy neighborhood to *gasp!* feed “the poor.” You know, “the poor” who need our help, our charity? Yeah, this is totally a story you’d like to read. It’s a feel-good story; you can feel righteous anger toward the family with the carriage house across the street, while you sympathize with the line of hungry men and women and children who wait patiently for generously proffered bounty.

That story is also bullshit.

Our neighbors are neither rich jackasses nor voiceless Jacob Riis photographees, okay? Everyone in our neighborhood IS A NEIGHBOR, IS A PERSON, whether they come in for dinner or just live down the block. Even if they did, actually, complain to the alderman about the people waiting outside of the church on Tuesday nights. I don’t care. If those people showed up, I would still welcome them in. We are not in the business of “rescuing” people or fighting the good fight against the indolent bourgeoisie around us. We… feed people. Who are hungry. Who need food. Physical bread, spiritual bread, it’s all good. On Tuesday nights, we have food.

On Tuesday nights, we also have coffee. I work with Betty, who volunteers social work services every other week; on those nights, I head up beverages with a rotating cast of assistants. I have the privilege of keeping my schedule free on Tuesday nights. As a graduate student, I may actually make less money than some of our neighbors. (Actually, I’m pretty sure that’s the case.) But I have social capital that they don’t. I have a safety net, hard-won as it is. So I make the coffee. One of our neighbors sets up the cold water, the hot tea. And our other neighbors help me carry the coffee out, help me wipe the table, bring me the empty carafes and sugar bowls: we work together.

Here’s one of my favorite blessings, which we used at my campus ministry from time to time:

The Wisdom of God,
the Love of God,
and the Grace of God
strengthen us
to be Christ’s hands and heart in this world,
in the name of the Holy Trinity.

Sometimes, I really feel like every sermon I ever give, and every essay I ever write boils down to the same thesis: “shut the fuck up and actually do some shit, you guys.”

Or, as St. Francis said more eloquently: “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

I’m glad to see that, in his follow-up article, Mr. Warren seems to have considered the power of his words, even if he isn’t checking his class privilege quite so much. Although the vandalism is very unfortunate, it did not do any permanent damage, and no one is holding any grudges. It’s sad that a window had to get broken and a church had to get flooded for someone to point this lack of grudge-holding out.

breakin’ out the old blog

ok, for peeps who wanted to see me actually posting publicly somewhere about feminism and not about Buffy (as if those categories were mutually exclusive!), this is the place. Right now I am allowing comments; if that gets annoying, I will turn them off. If you like a post, feel free to leave some thoughts, but I encourage you to talk to me in person if you do, in fact, see me in person on a regular basis.

I will probably not post about shoes too much. I did spent too much money on lipstick and eyeshadow from Lime Crime this week, but all my old makeup is getting sketchy so I need new makeup. (At least, this is the justification.)

Here are some recurring themes in any discussion about feminist whatever with me:
– lack of a prehistoric matriarchy does not invalidate current feminist religious practices
– I love Judith Butler
– I am a Christian, ergo, I am a feminist. I realize that this may seem an odd order. If so, consult Rosemary Radford Reuther’s Sexism and God-Talk, for the best support of liberation theology that I have read. Have I mentioned my love for my bff RRR? If not — she’s the best.
– Thomas Aquinas is not my bff.
– I had a really hard time thinking about how I would present as the opposite of my gender (chaotic lady feminist), until I utilized the rubric of alignment in D&D and came up with Riley Finn (lawful male douchebag). (Ok, I lied when I said there would be no Buffy in this blog, but I’ll try to keep it to a dull roar.) Thinking about myself dressed as Riley Finn is like imagining Snape in a dress, except Alan Rickman in a dress was adorable. And that hat! Anyway.

Feministing continues to be home to a crapload of disability fail.

Background: My friend Anna was one of the people who confronted the mods of feministing about ongoing ableism from mods and commenters alike, and participated in a discussion with the mods. You can read a transcript of the discussion on her blog.

This is all terribly wrong because: hello, disabled people are not a fucking learning experience? Clearly, y’all are not actually sorry, and this is not as funny as that episode of Intervention with Our-Lady-Of-Walkin’-On-Sunshine, even though you’re clearly experiencing the same level of denial. What is so hard about not using ableist language? Personal survey, sample size one, reveals that it is much easier than giving up curse words for Lent ’07, or celebrity gossip for Lent ’09. Also, you’ll moderate comments for language, but only when it’s really really offensive language?

Man, this is why I have avoided getting involved with Feminism of the Internet. I only have so much time and energy I can spare for rage, and I prefer to conserve it for things like homework, my parents, etc.

In other news, I bought a mattress and a hot pot today. Tomorrow, salsa dancing. In between, I have to write a story for my friend E who is laid up with the swine flu. Stories are good! Maybe I will post later about the power of narrative, and the excitement of writing narrative about narrative, because that is in fact pretty exciting.