Friday, March 29, 2013

Here's Your Friday Pup Pic

I would say a hard day of chewing bones and tossing around his rope wore him out, but this was taken only a couple of hours after we all woke up.  He's just pathetic.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Battle of the Oz Prequels

Image from: Wikipedia
Everyone has seen The Wizard of Oz.  It's one of those movies that of course you've seen it.  It has colored and shaped our pop culture understanding for decades.  It is truly a movie classic with characters that are practically immortal at this point.

Dorothy was a character out of time and space, an odd woman out trying to make sense of a topsy turvy world.  She stumbles into a territory war by accidentally killing a relative of one of the most powerful villains in Oz, but also makes a powerful ally in Glinda.  Dorothy is a strong, brave, resourceful female character and there still aren't many of those.  And let's not forget Glinda the Good Witch and the Wicked Witch of the West.  It's telling that the two most powerful characters in all of Oz are the females.  (It's also true that L. Frank Baum was a feminist and did that on purpose in his books.)

But let's talk about the character of the Wizard--after all, he's the title character of the movie, although not the main character.  The Wizard is a bumbling idiot.  When Toto and Dorothy finally reveal who the Wizard truly is, he's just a goofy, flustered man behind a curtain pretending to be an all-powerful being.  He then proceeds to try to fill the vacuum of disappointment that is...well...who he giving them some half-assed gifts.

Tin Man wants a heart?  Here's a shitty pocket watched shaped like a heart.  It's practically the same thing!  Except for ignorning the whole "deep down desire to become a flesh-and-blood human being so that he can enjoy the warm embrace of a loved one" thing.

Scarecrow wants a brain?  Shit, here's an honorary degree!  Sure, you haven't gained any intelligence or learned anything at all, but you can slap that bad boy in a frame and pretend!  You are now in the same boat as Steven Tyler and Kermit the Frog.  That's right, a felt puppet frog has an honorary degree as well.  You must feel so proud.

And of course, the Lion wanted courage and got a medal of bravery.

The thing is, how many people saw the Wizard and thought "that man right there?  He's the real hero."  Nobody.  Because even as a kid, I could tell that the Wizard was a conman and a piece of shit.  It was apparent in everything he did, in every excuse and bumbling "aw, shucks" facade he tried to pull.

For some reason, Sam Raimi thought he'd be perfect as the hero in his new prequel to the 1930's film.

I had this whole long post written out about how bad Oz was and all the ways it sucked, but I really wanted to highlight in the simplest way possible, the ways in which the movie failed.  I'm not going to nitpick the plot, I'm not going to bitch and moan about how three super-powered  magical women needed a bumbling idiot man to save them (although I bloody well could).  Instead, I want to compare and contrast the characters of Oz the Great and Powerful with their counterparts from the musical Wicked, which my wife and I saw just a couple of months ago.  Be warned, there will be spoilers ahead for both the movie and the Broadway musical.  I'm sure I'm not the first person to come up with this idea, but since I haven't seen anything like this online, I thought it would be worth a looksee.

Image from:  Wikipedia
Image from:  Wikipedia

Both Oz and Wicked serve as prequels to the 1930's movie The Wizard of Oz.  And true, due to time and advancements in technology, neither matches up perfectly.  They do, however, cover similar territory.  In both versions, the Wicked Witch of the West is turned that way because of bad things that are done to her (in part because of the Wizard).  In both, the wizard is a conman that came trundling into Oz via hot air balloon from Kansas.

The Wicked Witch of the West

In Oz, Theodora is turned into the Wicked Witch because she believes that Oz loves her, until her sister tricks her into thinking Oz is cheating on her with Glinda.  Theodora becomes jealous, and she already has anger problems, and is eventually tricked into taking a potion that removes her heart and physically transforms her into the ugly, green monster from the 1930's movie.  Mind you, getting tricked into being jealous is incredibly easy.  Literally all that happens is that Evanora shows Theodora a few images of Oz talking to Glinda.  That's it.  No, seriously.

In Wicked, Elphaba is turned green and "ugly" by a spell also.  The Wizard has an affair with her mother, while sharing a special green potion that Elphaba's mother is apparently addicted to.  When her mother becomes pregnant, she births the green-skinned Elphaba.  Everyone shuns her and she grows up never knowing the acceptance or love of her family because of her odd appearance.  This makes her an outsider, and a sad and lonely girl.  What eventually turns her wicked, however, is when she's betrayed by the Wizard (a person that she's always aspired to be like and grown up looking up to) and blamed for a series of cruel and horrific magical experiments.  The final straw comes when they seize and torture and presumably kill her boyfriend.

The Wicked Witch of the East

In Oz, Evanora is evil.  Because reasons.  Seriously, the only motivation that they ever give is that Glinda was always considered the pretty one, and Evanora was jealous.

In Wicked, Nessa has been paralyzed since birth.  This is in part to do with Elphaba.  Because Elphaba was born green, her father has her mother chew a bunch of milkweed in order to ensure that their next child doesn't come out green.  When Nessa is born, her legs come out in a tangled mess.  Elphaba feels personally responsible.  Nessa also feels like an outsider because she's sheltered and babied by her father, and generally pitied by other people (even her own sister to an extent).  When she finally gets asked out on a pity date by one of her classmates, she thinks he's being genuine and places all of her life eggs in his basket.  She's so obsessed with finding someone who will look past her disability and love her for who she is that she holds all of Munchkin land hostage when she inherits the governor's position from her father.  When her crush eventually reveals that he doesn't love her and in fact loves pretty and popular Glinda, Nessa steals Elphaba's magic book and tries to cast a love spell on him.  It goes wrong and she accidentally removes his heart.  It's only through quick thinking on Elphaba's part that they're able to save him (she turns him into a Tin Man), but both Nessa and her crush blame Elphaba for the predicament.

Glinda the Good Witch

In Oz, she's always been considered the pretty one.  She wants to free Oz from the evil reign of Evanora, although Evanora killed her father, so there's also a revenge aspect to it as well.

In Wicked, Glinda starts out pretty and popular and a bit of an airhead.  She's relatively cruel to Elphaba at first, but slowly learns that maybe she's being a bit of a bitch, and so she takes Elphaba under her wing to teach her how to be less socially awkward.  It works to an extent and they become odd friends.  Elphaba is the more politically active of the two, so Glinda is really mostly just along for the ride most of the time, supportive because she loves her friend.  When they meet the Wizard, Glinda is so concerned about getting into trouble that she grovels at the Wizard's feet, but Elphaba is too proud and refuses.  Glinda is promoted to a high-ranking position on the Wizard's court and is forced to perpetuate the rumors that Elphaba is evil, despite knowing she isn't.  When the Wizard drops a house on Nessa to draw Elphaba out of hiding, Glinda and Elphaba finally part ways--partially because Glinda decides to continue working for the Wizard, and partially because Glinda gave away the ruby slippers that Elphaba made for Nessa.

The Great and Powerful Oz

In Oz, he's a conman and piss poor magician.  He tries to escape in a hot air balloon when an angry man comes hunting for him.  Oz slept with his girlfriend (of course he did).  Oz has dreams of becoming a truly great and famous illusionist, but he's stuck pulling tricks in a small travelling circus.  He's ashamed of his smalltown, simple roots.  When he goes to Oz, he finds the opportunity to become a great man through lying to an entire population of people, which he succeeds in doing.  The film ends with him establishing himself as a monarch and rigging a contraption to help continue perpetuating his lies.  He lies to Theodora, pretending that he really loves her when he doesn't, which is what aids in her becoming wicked.  Despite her fears of him cheating on her with Glinda being a jump to a conclusion, it turns out to be justified as Oz does develop feelings for Glinda.  They even share in a foot popping kiss at the end, after both witches have been banished from Oz.

In Wicked, he's a conman that somehow accidentally wound up in Oz while flying a hot air balloon.  He's always had the desire to be a father, and although he's a liar and a conman, he wants to do right by the citizens of Oz.  He even tries to help Elphaba reach acceptance in his own way.  However, he's always been performing cruel magical experiments on the Animals that live in Oz--forcing wings to grow out of monkeys' backs and removing the ability to speak from the animals.  (The Cowardly Lion would be one of the few remaining that could speak thanks to the Wizard's sick games.)  He tries to convince Elphaba to work for him, and when she refuses, sickened by his experiments, he blames the whole thing on her and turns her into a villain and begins a literal witch hunt for her.  It's not until the end that the audience learns that its the Wizard's potion and seduction of Elphaba's mother that made her both magical and green.  When he learns this after Elphaba's death (c'mon, you knew that was coming, you saw the movie), he becomes distraught, as all this time he's wanted a daughter...and he learns that he's killed and tortured his actual blood daughter all along.  He's then banished from the kingdom of Oz by Glinda after rewarding those shitty prizes to the group I mentioned above.


While Oz's character is similar in both the movie and the play, it should be noted that Oz is very clearly a dickhead and a villain in the play.  Not entirely unsympathetic at times, but still a villain that gets his comeuppance for being a liar and a bastard.  The Oz of the movie, virtually the same character, does not.  He's treated as the hero.

Note that the course of the Wicked Witch of the West is also similar.  She turns into who she is in the movie and the play because of actions taken by the Wizard.  However, in the movie, she's transformed and mutilated into the witch through magic, her physical body supposedly representing the evil she was inside.  In the play, she's odd looking from the start, but her exterior doesn't truly reflect who she is on the inside, and its only through loss and betrayal that she becomes the person she does.  And she's still sympathetic after all that.

The three female characters are much more shallow in the movie version, with only just enough character development to quasi-justify their actions when they do things (although it doesn't justify them very well).  In the play, all of the characters are deep and motivated by different factors.  The play does very well to paint in shades of gray with the characters and their motivations, providing them with more depth and making them more realistic since they have complex motivations for doing what they're doing.

All in all, Oz the Great and Powerful was incredibly unfair to its female characters.  It provided very little time to get to know them, and their motivations were as thin as tissue paper.  What little motivations they have for doing what they do can't stack up to even the slightest amount of scrutiny.  And its disappointing that so many of their decisions hinge on what the man is doing, especially a man so incompetent and bumbling as the wizard.

Monday, March 25, 2013

This Is My Life Almost Every Evening

Seriously. The wife leaves, I'm tired from work, I know that I should be writing, but I just can't bring myself to do it. The siren song of the Internet calls.

The above song is by the always excellent John Anealio. He writes tons of awesome songs. (Maybe you've heard another quite popular song by him about a certain famous fantasy author and his relationship with you?) You can download the above song for free if you enjoy it as much as I did. And of course, if you do enjoy the song, perhaps you might consider buying one of his albums? Hmmm?

John Anealio can be found at his website Sci-Fi Songs or his twitter @JohnAnealio.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Springtime for Eostre and Germany

Image by ginqueen of deviantart.
I am not a religious person.  It's not my thing.  That doesn't mean that I begrudge those that do partake in the various religious celebrations, but left to my own devices, I'll probably just watch a Charlie Brown special or a historical documentary about it and then call it a night.  (The exception being Christmas, because I farking love Christmas, y'all.)

Growing up, Easter was always a bizarre holiday for me because it always seemed the most removed from the Christian lore it was supposedly celebrating.  I could see the symbolism behind gift-exchanges at Christmas.  Santa is basically Jesus Lite, a sort of starter Jesus with consequences easier for kids to grok.  I didn't understand how rabbits and eggs related to Jesus, especially since rabbits and eggs don't even relate to each other.  Where the hell did the Easter Bunny come into all of this?

It wasn't until I was in college that I actually learned a little bit more about the history of Christianity and how the Christians retrofitted a lot of Pagan holidays to help convert the natives over to the new beliefs.  Christmas was an amalgamation of several different holidays, including a Pagan winter celebration and the celebration of the god Mithra.

Easter was largely adopted from the Pagan holiday celebrating the spring equinox.  The pagan goddess Eostre is where Easter gets its name (aka, Ostara).  The imagery of the bunny, the egg, and dawn, are all images that are associated with the spring equinox (and Easter) because they symbolize birth, fertility, and new beginnings, which provided the Christians with a prime way of segueing the Pagans from one religion to another without losing a lot of the stuff they already knew.

I've actually been invited to a Pagan celebration of the spring equinox by a couple of friends.  It'll certainly be an interesting experience, and I'm likely to have fun, even if I don't share their beliefs.

I'm a firm believer in everyone doing their own thing.  Whenever I hear about people fighting about their religion, it makes me weary.  Most people are only looking for a little respectfulness and politeness.  I try to extend that to my fellow human beings.  I mean, I don't immediately spew bile and vitriol on people because they like Nickelback or the Star Wars prequels (although good natured teasing may occur).  Why would I do that for something people hold so near and dear to their hearts and lives as religion?

So, regardless of your belief systems, happy springtime.

And now to leave you with where I got the name of this post: a celebration of springtime, germany, and Hitler (from the 2005 movie The Producers).  And yes, the blonde man is John Barrowman from Doctor Who and Torchwood.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Nobody Panic!

Okay, who spilled Kool-Aid on the control panel?  Eh?

But seriously, you may have noticed I redesigned the sight a smidge.  You might notice the new header up there, and the new template. Since I don't do the illustrated posts anymore, I figured it might be slightly false advertising to keep the sites design based around it.  I still have the illustrated posts page, so you can check those out any time you want. I'm not saying I'll never make one again, but I don't really feel like it right now and can't see myself making any in the future.

Anyway, yeah...


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Veronica Mars Wants to Steal Your Money and Soul!

Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Or maybe not.

I'll be honest, I have only watched one episode of Veronica Mars.  My thoughts on it were:  "It's okay."

Now, mind you, it could be brain scaldingly brilliant and I wouldn't notice if I'm not in the mood to watch something--which I was not.  I was being forced to watch it and Doctor Who around the same time by a person that I did not like very much but tolerated because we had a mutual friend.

Anyway, that's beside the point.

My ambivalence about Veronica Mars does not mean that when the Kickstarter for a VM movie came up, I didn't understand why people were so excited.  1) It features a Whedon-ish kick-ass heroine (and who doesn't love that?), and 2) it was canceled before its time after a third (by all accounts, pretty terrible) season.  Sound familiar?  Sound an awful lot like Firefly?  Then you can probably relate to the fans of this show, too.

I was really happy--both for the cast and crew that got the chance to make this passion project of theirs, and for the fans that have been petitioning for more VM for years--and it seems that many people were pretty excited about the movie.  It raised its $2 million goal in the first day.  Which is incredible, and awesome.

But it didn't take long for naysayers to come along and start pissing in other people's Cheerios.

"That money would have been better spent on charities."

"That money should have gone to some indie project, not to a corporation."

"Ugh, these people are just paying for something that they'll have to pay for again."

These are all legitimate arguments that I saw pop up by various people, so I want to talk about each of them.

1) That money should have gone to charity.

While it's true that the $2 million would have done a lot of good at a charity, I would like to point out that Veronica Mars is a piece of entertainment.  Entertainment--the entertainment industry--is huge in this country (and always has been).  So, when you go out and spend $7.99 on a book to support your favorite author, that's money that you aren't spending on charity.  Making that argument that we shouldn't donate money to movies and other projects but instead to charities is a bit of a slippery argument.  Not to succumb to the slippery slope project, but where do you draw the line?  I mean, think about how much money Warner Brothers makes from Harry Potter merchandise.  How many people do you think would be willing to give up all of their Harry Potter shit, and instead donate that money to charity?  I'm betting few.

Unless you want to make the argument that we should shun all physical possessions and live the hermit-like lifestyle that Jesus intended, perhaps you could hold back from throwing stones, lest you shatter your own glass house.

That said, if you're feeling particularly guilty, donate to a charity, too.  No one says you can't do both.  Its your money.  Do whatever the fuck you want with it.

2)  Shouda funded indie projects instead.

People that make this argument make me curious...would they be making this argument if Firefly were being Kickstarted?

The people making this argument are more than likely not fans of the show--whether they actually dislike it or have just never seen it is irrelevant.  They don't have any emotional detachment to this project, so they want to tell you why their cause is so much better.

Projects like the Veronica Mars movie are always going to get more publicity.  It's the way of things.  Because it has a built in audience already.  And indie projects usually get funded when some celebrity that has an audience begins spreading the word.  Very few projects are viral enough to gain steam on their own.

As Seanan McGuire put it in her blog post:
So let's say that I've paid for my necessities, my survival is assured, and I have a dollar to give to a super-deserving project. Obviously, if I give it to one person, I can't give it to anyone else (although I could give both people fifty cents, but I digress). And you know what? That experimental retelling of The Crucible with sock puppets probably needs my dollar more than the Veronica Mars movie. But I'm paying for my luxuries here. I'm paying for what I want. And what I want is to see Logan, and Veronica, and my fictional friends again. I miss them. 
The Veronica Mars movie did not take my dollars away from "more deserving" projects, because no one gets to measure that but the person who holds the dollars. Me. And Sunil, and Chris, and Rae, and every other Veronica Mars fan I know.
You don't get to tell people how to spend their money.  If you want to shake your head and scoff at the sheeple spending their money on some shitty TV show that only got three seasons while you spend your money on the avant garde documentary about the post refrigerator life of bologna mold, you go right ahead.  But you can't force someone to like the same shit you like.  I might get frustrated that the Transformers movies keep getting made, but do you know what I do about it?  I don't go see them.  I don't give them my money.  I go see movies like Paranorman because I feel they deserve it, and I try to spread the word about projects that spike my interest.  I don't stand outside of the Transformers movies and make snide comments to the audience as they leave the theater.

3) Blah blah blah corporations are evil blah blah blah

Look, I have no love of corporations.  They're too powerful in this country, and I feel we need a new Teddy Roosevelt to come in and bust 'em up a bit--get them back to a controllable level.  But we live in the society we live in right now, and corporations run Hollywood.  So let me ask you this:  did you bitch this much when you went to go see The Avengers?  Zero Dark Thirty?  Lincoln?  No?  Then shut the fuck up.

People vote with their dollar in this society.  If a project is going to succeed, it has to generate enough interest to be monetarily feasible to continue to produce or the businesses that create them won't bother to keep wasting money on them.

Let's put it in a practical perspective: Let's pretend you're paying a neighborhood kid $20 a week to come over and mow your lawn.  However, the kid's scheduling is really sporatic--you can never tell when he'll show up, or if he'll show up at all.  Some weeks he just doesn't come, other weeks, he shows up late, forgets his equipment, and invites himself over for dinner.  He's sweet, charming, funny, and you like him as a person, but he's not earning his money. Do you keep paying him just because he's nice?

Of course you don't.  You fire his ass and hire someone who will cut your goddamned grass.

The business worlds works in the same way, but until recently with the advent of the internet and social media, it was more difficult to gain data on these things.  The Neilson ratings (and the box office performance of movies) demonstrate what people think about movies and TV shows.  So, crowdfunding--people donating money to projects the corporations aren't willing to take the risk on--gives people even more say in what they're consuming.

Let Kameron Hurley speak to yer hearts:

If someone is paying for the movie anyway, might as well be us, eh?

And to those complaining that people are pouring money into something that they'll just have to pay for again...first, see my previous point about whether or not you can dictate how other people spend their money (spoilers: you can't), and second...

That looks an awful lot like I get to enjoy the movie, and possibly get some other swag for a relatively low price, and they get to fund a movie--in fact, it looks like I'm buying the movie, a t-shirt, and the shooting script for $35, yes?  So...what would I have to buy over again?  And if I donate even higher (the $50 range), I get all of the above and a DVD copy of the movie.  Now, if a donor chooses to go see the movie in theaters as well?  Seanan McGuire again:
Yes, I'll have to pay if I want to see the movie in the theater, but that's paying the theater, which has its own bills to take care of (and will feed me delicious popcorn).
In summation:  the people who have been complaining about this are perhaps looking at things in the wrong light.  We're getting the choice to pick what the corporations make.  We're voting with out dollar.  There's nothing that's keeping you from supporting an indie project, too.  Mostly, the complaints sound like sour grapes.  Let people enjoy what they enjoy.  If you don't like it?  Don't buy it.  But don't not buy it and then spend all your time telling people how much better you are for not buying it.  Just...don't buy it.  Don't be a tool.

If you're interested in donating to the movie so they have more of a budget to work with (because God knows $2 million is a pretty modest film budget these days), you can donate here.  Or donate to an indie project.  Or donate to a charity.  Or bury your money in a tin box in your backyard by the light of a full moon.  Whatever works for you.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tropes vs. Women in Video Games Is Live!

Anita Sarkeesian runs an awesome website called Feminist Frequency.  It largely covers female representation in pop culture media--books, TV shows, movies, etc.  There was an awesome series that she made called Tropes vs. Women, in which she talked about a lot of common, negative, and often harmful tropes in popular media and why these tropes are negative and harmful.

The video series was a big success.  She decided to do a Kickstarter campaign to create another video series called Tropes vs. Women in Video Games, which obviously looks at how women are often portrayed in video games and how these representations are misguided at best and more commonly harmful.

I love critical analysis of media, and as I mentioned in a previous post, I've really been paying attention to representation of people in media lately.  I found the Nostalgia Chick through the Nostalgia Critic's videos, but I continue to watch them because she provides a smart, funny, engaging, and awesomely critical look at movies and television (and once children's toys). 

The Tropes vs. Women in Video Games video series was something that I was immediately interested in.  I mean, I understand that women are treated unfairly in the media, but to get an in-depth analysis of video games?  I really wanted to Kickstarter to succeed.

And it did.  Her intended goal was $6000; however, she instead raised close to $160,000.

She also became the target of a malicious and organized online harassment campaign led and consisting largely of grown men intent on keeping the status quo in the video gaming industry the way it is--i.e. excluding and discouraging women from entering wherever possible.  Since a lot of these tropes are power fantasies by men, Anita Sarkeesian is sort of threatening their way of life (viewing women as possessions and objects rather than people).

They didn't win, and part one of her video series is now live.  Watch it.  It is awesome, and I am already eagerly waiting for the next video in the series.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Behold! The Cuteness!

Quiver in terror at his absolute cuteness!  All will surrender, for he is totes adorbs!

Aaaand that's all I got today.  Have a good Sunday.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Race, Gender, and Being a White Dude

Image from:  quinet of Flickr
(Totally forgot about today being International Women's Day, so this is a happy accident.)

I want to talk about race and gender for a moment. Not necessarily in a deep way, just a few things on my mind lately.

Lately, I've been immersed in a serious amount of self reflection. I don’t exactly know how it happened, but over the past two years, I've been educating myself about race and gender in media. I think perhaps the journey started getting kicked off with some of Scalzi's essays. I mean, they weren't things that I didn't already agree with. I wasn't some bigot. I just thought he was very articulate, and his articles on gender and race were very creative and clever. I wanted to be creative and clever, too, and have interesting things to say on the subject.

As I read the comments, I was exposed to little windows of people’s worlds. They shared their stories with him, and (to an extent) with me. They argued the finer points of things, and even the idiots and the bigots gave me something to think about. I followed links, I read blog posts, I started looking into and eventually following authors on Twitter that looked at things in a different way than I did. I started following N.K. Jemisin and Saladin Ahmed. I started following Gail Simone, renowned for her depiction of women, the disabled, and other people that are underrepresented in media.

And I started thinking. In that thinking, I've found a lot of media I used to like, I can no longer enjoy. I enjoy potty humor and stupid, immature jokes as much as the next person, but I've become much more sensitive to representation and diversity. Things I would have never noticed before--like the surprising diversity, but then disappointing eventual elimination of that diversity in the new Red Dawn--became more sharply in focus. The movie Ace Ventura, a childhood favorite of mine, has been tainted. I didn't just outgrow the humor (that's true, too), but I now realize the villain of the movie is a transwoman, which is a cliched and problematic depiction of transpeople.

Let me just get this out of the way: I’m a white, straight, cis-gendered, mostly able-bodied dude. The only discrimination I’ve ever faced has been that I was a bit pudgy in school, and that was almost certainly in a large part due to social awkwardness than any tubbiness I had going on. I’ve had a few struggles--depression, weight, anxiety, being poor--but I can go out at night and wander around without fear of getting raped or harassed for being who I am.

My school was basically 99% white. I can count on one hand the number of Hispanic students that attended it, and I only went to school with two black students, and they didn't begin attending school until I was a junior or senior in high school.  When we had actual black people move to town, it was gossip throughout the town for days, weeks.

The last two years has been a breakdown of everything I thought I knew, and reconstructing it, shifting my understanding.  It's why I've been working on reading more female and PoC writers.  I did not realize what being a woman entails, what being a person of color entails, what a huge umbrella of privilege I'd been living under.

All of this new information has me often completely blown away.  I now constantly study the way women and PoC are portrayed in media--movie, TV shows, books, you name it, I'm always thinking a little bit.  Taking all of that information into account has me terrified to write people of color, women, transfolk, etc. All of this has me scared to death of doing it wrong, of hurting people. But the desire to tell these people’s stories--partially because they’re under represented, and partially because I want to know these people--is incredibly intoxicating.

I’ll definitely screw up--it’s pretty much a given. I’m still learning. I’ll probably never stop. But I’m so grateful that over the past two years I've learned to shut up and listen, and I’m very grateful to the women, trans, and PoC bloggers out there that work so hard to educate lunkheads like me.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sweet and Sour Diseases

Photo from:   acme of Flickr
As I've mentioned previously, I am not the most confident person when it comes to health. I mean, I’m not some caveperson huddling in the back and flinching from the shadows the fire throws on the wall. I don’t view doctor’s prescribing antibiotics as some sort of magic. What I’m saying is, I’m not exactly a medical expert, but I understand enough about basic science that the concept of medicine to me isn’t some dangerous voodoo that mortals need not meddle in. Now computers, that’s a different story. (My friend, the computer engineer, is basically a digital wizard in my eyes.)

Still, there’s something about the microscopic world, something about something so powerful being intangible and difficult to control, that I get the antsies whenever I think about disease or infection or other things of that nature.

Which leads me to being out with my wife over the weekend.

It was a fine weekend. My wife insisted that we go to JC Penny’s--partially because her wallet had decided to play this fun little game called “stab the owner, and partially because they just ran a new ad supporting gay marriage and my wife wanted to support their support...this parenthetical statement is incredibly long now, isn’t it?--and after we finished with that, we decided to walk to the fro-yo place down the road and get dessert. However, a group of rowdy teenagers showed up, and we decided to walk to the food court to eat our fro-yo in peace.

The moment we entered the food court, my nose began to play a lovely waltz with the local Chinese restaurant. It’s not good Chinese food, but sometimes, you just want cheap, shitty Chinese food, y’know? So, after I convinced my wife that this was something that I had to have, we wandered over where I piled my plate high with blood-red sweet-and-sour chicken.

Something like 10 minutes later, I was full and kinda sick, but not sorry.

It turned cold on the way back to the car, we we made the last leg of our journey in a rush. We jumped into the car and cranked the heater all the way. It was then that I noticed a little smudge on my hand, a little red smear. Without thinking I stuck out my tongue and took a big solid lick.

Instead of the tangy, sweet flavor of sweet and sour sauce, my mouth was assaulted with a metallic, irony taste, and my brain immediately began screaming, BLOODBLOODOHMYGODIJUSTLICKEDBLOODSWEETBABYCHRIST!!!!

I tried to play it cool, but my wife could tell something was wrong. I was really tense and not talkative. All I could imagine was some AIDS ridden hobo had smeared his blood on a public surface and now I was infected--all because I thought I was licking some dried sweet and sour sauce.

Eventually, my wife pulled the confession out of me:

“What’s wrong with you? You’re acting weird, even for you.”

“I think I have AIDS.”


“I just licked what I thought was sweet and sour sauce off my hand, but it didn't taste like sweet and sour sauce and I think it was blood, and now I may have AIDS.”

“You know that you’re ridiculous, right?”

“I’m just saying, what if it was hobo blood or something? I should go get my blood tested right now!”

“Well, if you did have AIDS, that’s something I would definitely want to know. Being your wife and all.”

Ooooohhhhhh, GOD!

“Oh, shut up. You’re fine. You don’t have AIDS. Or sweet and sour AIDS, you weirdo.”

I want to stress that I’m not mocking people with AIDS. I'm mocking my ridiculous reaction to the most mundane of situations when illness is involved. The other day I scratched one of my fingers on the bathtub faucet washing my hair (like a boss) and spent the entire day thinking I had tetanus.

I hear they just cured a baby that had AIDS. This is fantastic, especially for people like me who live in fear of accidentally getting an incurable disease from our sweet-and-sour Chinese chicken.