I Call Shenanigans

June 28, 2009 at 1:04 pm (Writing) (, , , , )

I was rereading Shirley Darsgaard’s series last night when I came across a section in “Witch Hunt” in which the protagonist’s friend, Darci, is putting up with a MAJOR red-flag guy. Ophelia, the protagonist, notices this and immediately bitches and moans about it. Her grandmother, Abby, is supposed to be this loving mentor figure who understands everything.

And, guess what? Ophelia points out Danny’s red flag behavior and all Abby has to say about it is to the effect of, “Some men just want to be the center of their partner’s universe. That’s Darci’s problem, not yours.”

Seriously, ma’am? I get that you’re older and were raised in the Appalachians and whatever other stupid-ass excuse you can come up with. But how DARE you hold Abby up as a prime example of good female knowledgability and matronliness, and then have her say something like that?

Danny is a red flag male. He controls Darci, pushing different clothes and different beliefs on her. He tells her what to think and what to say. He tells her it’s “for her own good.” He isolates her from her friends and loved ones and forces himself on her by pushing Darci to let him move in with her after a murder occurs in her house instead of letting Darci find other real estate. That kind of behavior is a warning sign of future abuse to come, and you basically have your character green-light this because it’s “Darci’s problem”?

I call bullshit. I feel angry enough about this to actually write to the author.

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The Difference

April 12, 2009 at 11:41 am (Life, Writing) (, , )

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because it’s a recurring word in conversations with certain friends. It is also a word many people seem to mistake for something entirely different. I won’t claim the word does not have certain connotations, but the difference between its real meaning and its implied meaning is an important one.

The word I speak of, my dears, is submission and the act of being submissive.

Especially when you consider yourself a feminist, being submissive seems frowned upon. Aren’t we supposed to spend every hour of our life caterwauling against the patriarchy? Burning bras, not shaving, not wearing make-up and what-have-you? Feminism, these days, is equated with a raging activism that bases itself in hating men – but that’s an entirely different discussion. Fact is, feminists are not, in fact, man-hating harpys. We can be as traditionally feminine or as “butch” as we like, we can have civilized discussions over the state of the world and the position of women therein. Many feminists get offended when you refer to them as bra-burning radicals, and yet I get the impression a lot of them will wrinkle their nose at a fellow feminist saying they are submissive on occasion.

They think doormat. They think coward. That’s where they’re wrong.

Being a doormat is vastly different from having submissive personality traits that you occasionally let out. A doormat is someone who will let you walk all over them, no matter what. A doormat will not resist, a doormat will just bear whatever you fling at them and later cry about it, but not do anything to change their situation. They will rely on the help of others for a long time; being a doormat is not necessarily a permanent state, but it becomes one for women who are never taught that they, indeed, have the ability to take their life into their own hands.

To be submissive requires a level of trust in another person, a level of understanding and hope that someone will not abuse the privilege of seeing the submissive person in that position. Someone who is submissive is a strong person who is – at least to a certain degree – stable in their core so they can handle their situation, but will not be diminished by it. There is the possibility that one can slide into being a doormat, but a submissive person will know how to resist and work it out.

This all came to be at like 01:30 AM as I was trying to sleep, and I’m not sure it makes any sense. But I wanted to get it out there.

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A Book Review

April 1, 2009 at 5:31 pm (Writing) (, , , )

Have you ever picked up a book and started reading it, and half-way through, you start wondering why the hell you do this to yourself? Yeah. This is precisely what I experienced with this one in particular. I brought it with me after I found it in our house in England, hoping to kill the few days of boredom during my stay here in D.C. back in December. When I read books, I usually tend to finish them out of some sad sense of obligation. I believe this stems from the fact that I would really like people to finish my own damn stories.

I really, really wish I hadn’t done it with this time. It’s a waste of paper, time and brainpower.

delilah-street The book I speak of is called Brimestone Kiss (vom) by Carole Nelson Douglas. It is, apparently, the second installment in a series. I have not, I repeat NOT, read the first book. Perhaps this would have enhanced my understanding of the general writing.

The story follows Delilah Street, an orphan who hails from Kansas and used to be a TV reporter, then moved to Las Vegas after she got fired from that gig. Street claims she wanted to follow a trail regarding her heritage – there’s a TV show that involves live autopsies and solving said crimes, one of the corpses on that table was a carbon copy of her, down to the “blue gemstone twinkling in my left nostril.”

Delilah Street is, much like our favorite literary heroine Bella, a self-insert Mary Sue. She has “issues,” is anything but eloquent, yet somehow every male lusts after her. She keeps talking about how fat she feels at 5’9” (or something) and being “curvy,” yet somehow she still fits into vintage gowns. (Remember, vintage clothing runs small!) Waahh, wahh, wahh. She also seems to harbor mysterious powers that she deems herself a “mercury medium,” because she has an affinity for silver and black and white movies or whatnot.

Naturally, because she is so hot, Street has a boyfriend from the previous book. Said boyfriend is a Mexican macho man who thinks that his sex is as magical as Jon Lajoie’s sex moves, which means she will automatically be cured of any and all potential rape trauma she may or may not have. While he may not be the Hulk Hogan of slamming muff (OR IS HE?), he seems to do the trick for Street despite a decided lack of chemistry. Reading any of those scenes is flat-out boring. Good thing you have a warning sign – the second you start seeing something Italicized, the likelihood is that it will be Spanish, meaning that the characters are “whispering sweet Spanish nothings to each other.” (Cue projectile vomit.)

Next to being an overprivileged twatwaffle who somehow does not have to pay rent because she’s so pretty (and her landlord wants to bang her, natch), Street moonlights as a paranormal investigator. There is no investigative work involved in this book. All that happens is the following: Delilah has an idea. Delilah goes to talk to someone. Delilah is sexually harassed by random supernatural person. Delilah sulks and mopes about how hard it is to be “large” and “ungainly.” Delilah has sex with Ric, Ric make wounded ego all better. Wash, rinse, repeat. A series of entirely random, unconnected events somehow leads to a lair of Egyptian vampires who are trying to resurrect someone or another. And I do mean random events. Even after the revelation of who her enemy is, the events do not make sense. They never connect with each other at all, it is never clear why on Earth they’re targeting Delilah when they’re really going after Ric. Delilah has little to no combat skills, she just has protectors (a silver “familiar” and a wolf-dog-thing) who make sure her arse is not grass. She also happens to have something of a voice inside her head that she’s dubbed Irma, which seems to be the voice of a sex-starved Sex and The City star.

In short, seriously. Do not pick up this book. It was an awful waste of money and I will hurt my mother for ever buying it in the first place. It reads like a rough first draft and, if you want me to be honest, the first draft of my own nonsensical novel reads better than this steaming pile of shit.

An excerpt:

“And this neat white blouse that buttons down the front under the jacket you left in the car. Surely you didn’t want me to rip it open, ruin it, just to see your breasts. Just to see the full tops of your breasts inside those push-up bras you wear.” Buttons flew as he bared me.

“I don’t wear push-up bras,” I said indignantly. I didn’t need them. Oh. His hands were underneath the satin cups, pushing me mostly out.

Before I could react, he reached down to pull my tight linen skirt up to my hips until it was a cummerbund.

“And you don’t wear hose in the heat, of course, but, what, no panties, not even a shred?”

I murmured mindlessly in self-defense, because I did indeed wear a brand-new thong and it still felt darn uncomfortable up my back crack. So much for Irma’s lingerie advice. His finger found that narrow bridge of silky fabric and teased it aside.

His hands ran up my bare arms to my secured wrists, linked fingers with me as his body leaned hard against my mostly naked parts.

“You like this vertical, I know, Delilah. And I’m very vertical at the moment. I think you can tell.”

The more intimate Ric got with my body, the more he used my formal name. I moaned. “Por favor, por favor,” I murmured, knowing how much Spanish from my mouth pleased him.

Like, really? I know a lot of ESL people and NO ONE ever opens their mouth to birth something as cheesy as what Ric utters.

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Authority and Disobedience

March 25, 2009 at 11:13 pm (School, Writing) (, , , , )

Several of you may have already read this, as it was an assignment to be written for my English class. However, I need a space filler while I contemplate more interesting things to write about on here. We recently discussed the research study called the Milgram Experiment in less formal places. Officially, the published paper was (pretentiously) called “Some Conditions of Obedience and Disobedience to Authority.” If you follow the link, you will find a more detailed description of what the research was about, but a brief summary is appropriate.

After watching the Nuremburg trials, Stanley Milgram was stunned and somewhat appalled to find many of the Nazis on trial to either be unrepentant or unwilling to take responsibility for the atrocities they had committed. He posed himself the question “How far can a human be pushed until they reach a point at which they will disobey authority?” So he conducted a study with Yale in which he tested male subjects aged 18 to 40 from all types of educational and social backgrounds in the following situation: The subject was placed in a room with an experimenter who functioned as the authority. In another room was an actor – the fact it was an actor was not disclosed to the subject. The subject was to administer electroshocks to the actor when commanded by the experimenter.

Milgram found that it took an astonishingly long time for almost all of the subjects to disobey; many of them showed signs of psychological distress and extreme tension, but it was only at 120 V shocks that the first subjects began disobeying the authority. Many subjects continued administering shocks when absolved of the personal responsibility for hurting another human being or only verbally protested. Milgram was obviously appalled by these findings and raised the question that, if humans are so willing to follow authority, this kind of power in the hand of a government with malicious intent could be fatal. Then he proposed this: “Perhaps our culture does not provide adequate models for disobedience.”

My task was to work with the following assignment: “In paragraph 47, Milgram comments, ‘Perhaps our culture does not provide adequate models for disobedience.’ What do you think of this hypothesis? Are there such models? Ought there to be? Have such models appeared since the experiment was conducted? Explain your stand on Milgram’s statement.” I thought the topic was interesting enough to post here.

Models for Disobedience?

Disobedience is, in itself, an unpredictable form of refusing to conform to certain standards or to blatantly resist an instruction given by a third party or society. For Milgram to state that “Perhaps our culture does not provide adequate models for disobedience”  (467) is nonsensical. A model of for disobedience would imply a rigidly structured set of rules to be followed, therefore defeating the purpose of disobedience. Would a person truly be disobedient if he or she were simply complying with the laws of disobedience? Clearly the answer is “no.”

The act of disobeying is natural to humans, as we are a species gifted with the ability to form critical thoughts and reflect past, present and future. An intrinsic moral compass that allows us to compare reality to our ideological standards guides us. When our perception of what is right and what is wrong collides with what we witness in our lives, we are inclined to demonstrate our ability to disobey so long as we are fully responsible for our actions. This was the catch in both Milgram’s experiment and day-to-day life.

Closely linked to resistance, disobedience comes in many forms. It is possible to violently resist conformity just as it is possible to take a passive, more intellectual path to disobeying a strict set of rules. Depending on the circumstances, it is up to the individual in such a situation to rely on their own judgment. Disobedience can be as simple as not obeying a command or as complex as resisting the general societal consensus on what is right. During the Third Reich, disobedience was not simply disagreeing with what the government dictated, it was actively seeking to save individuals or raise awareness to the government’s inhumane practices. The lack of a model for their disobedience was apparent in the diversity of disobedience, ranging from assassination attempts to intellectual resistance from groups such as the White Rose, which was group of college students eventually executed for writing and circulating flyers condemning the politics of the Nazis.

One could argue that the extreme conditions and the indoctrination into a collective mindset would not be able to offer up a model for resistance in the first place, but at least it is plain as day that disobedience was not accepted as an appropriate phenomenon, which made it a valid act. Various forms of disobedience manifested themselves in pop culture in the last fifty years, all of which became moot once they were accepted as trendy. One such “model for disobedience” is punk. Punk was considered to be a real breakthrough for its time, delivering a message of anti-authoritarianism, anarchy, direction action and non-conformity. It quickly developed into a subculture of its own through which young people could defy the beliefs of the older generation by listening to loud music, protesting the establishment (The Man) with their dress and hair and radical politics. However, over the years, punk became a more mainstream phenomenon that pressured its followers into a pre-made mold of “disobedience,” which defeated the purpose of such actions. With the establishment of rules to be followed in order to disobey, the intentions become muzzy at best.

At the end of the day, disobedience is a matter of personal choice and it shaped by the beliefs and background of the individual. There can be no standardized form of disobedience because there is no standardized form of society.

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Deathwish & Writing

March 2, 2009 at 10:28 pm (News, Writing) (, , , )

If you like dark urban fantasy and a lot of snark, action and lovable characters, please look into my favorite lady of the genre, Rob Thurman. The newest installment in her Leandros series, Deathwish, is being released tomorrow. I rarely beg, but I do think she’s a wonderful writer and person who rescues abused dogs and would like to see her books promoted more. I’m doing my best to spread the word.

The list of books in which her writing appeared:

  • Nightife (March 2006)
  • Moonshine (March 2007)
  • Madhouse (March 2008)
  • Mistletoe and Wolfsbane (October 2008)
  • Deathwish (March 2009)

Her new book Trick of Light will be debuting this fall and will be the beginning of a series named Trickster. Ms. Thurman can be found on LiveJournal. I’m not exactly begging, but just making anyone who reads this aware of this awesome lady. I know I will be hitting Barnes & Noble hard tomorrow.

In other news, I will soon be posting a list of recommended authors and books, and books on my reading list. Or something. In the meantime, I have vowed to start writing again, potentially collaborating with my friend Anna. I am currently thinking about working with the story “The Giant Who Had No Heart In His Body,” to be found here if you’re interested.

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Lyrics

February 28, 2009 at 1:55 pm (Art, Music, Writing) (, , )

Self sent a twister
A-tearin’ after me
Gonna bust my house to splinters yes
An’ take all that’s dear to me

You say you saw it comin’ yeah
But still you did not flee
I was too weak i couldn’t move
Held by growth of a tree

An’ yes i fell upon that rock
I did not die jus’ badly broken
An’ in time my healin’ it will come yeah
By the words that he has spoken
I fell upon that rock

Who is it now that loves you
Straight in the front door
An’ crooked out the back yeah
What is it now you’re a slave to
On your knees out in your shack

I fell upon that rock yeah
He’s beyond the shadow
Of your doubt an’ mine
He’s no man’s opinion
He is truth divine

Self sent a twister
A tearin’ after me
Done bust my house to splinters yeah
An’ took all that’s dear to me

Who is it now that loves you
Straight in the front door
An’ crooked out the back yeah
What is it now that you pray to
As your world begins to crack

I fell upon that rock yeah
He’s beyond the shadow
Of your doubt an’ mine
He’s no man’s opinion
He is truth divine

An’ yes I fell upon that rock
I did not die jus’ badly broken
An’ in time my healin’ came yeah
By the words that he had spoken

– 16 Horsepower, “Splinters”

People tend to be attracted to art that somehow reflects them, and music tends to be the same. You can form a very clear image of a person just by looking at their music, how often a song has been played, the artists, the style. If not about the person themselves, then at least about their personality.

I hereby conclude I suffer from dissociative disorder in terms of my music. Or something along those lines. I should have thought of listening to this last night when I was feeling really out of it.

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