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True Blood Tuesday S04E06 “I Wish I Was The Moon”

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Content Warning: Rape

M-O-O-N, that spells “I got a new headset!” The file for this episode is here. Hit play when the HBO logo/sound fade. This was my third or fourth attempt at recording this episode, so I got a little slap happy. But the good news is, I have a new headset and hopefully all the frustration of that stupid Sony POS is behind us!

The Queerness of Wonder Woman

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Spoilers for Wonder Woman. Come back and read this after you’ve seen it. And definitely, go see it.

Though I tried to avoid spoilers for Wonder Woman before I had a chance to see it yesterday, there was one that could not be avoided in queer circles: that Diana, Princess of Themyscira, stated unequivocally that men weren’t necessary for sexual pleasure. It was a line that got big laughs from the women in the audience and nervous chuckles from the men; Steve Rose, a critic for The Guardian expressed confusion over the moment.

We spend thirty or so minutes on Diana’s mystical island home, watching muscular woman with razor-sharp cheekbones hurling weapons at each other. The scenes are shot with what could only be described as the queer female gaze: the leather armor, practical hairstyles, big ass swords and toned thighs that could pop a watermelon are not there to turn men on. At the screening I attended with my daughter, a man behind me whispered loudly to his companion, “Did they have to make them so dykey?”

Yes, good sir. Yes, they did.

But, as some critics were quick to point out, Gal Gadot’s Diana still gets down with Chris Pine. A man! So much for feminism, right?

Slate’s Christina Cauterucci writes in her review, “I Wish Wonder Woman Were As Feminist As It Thinks It Is”:

“The love story in Wonder Woman also seems positioned as a ‘no homo’ response to the heroine’s inherently queer backstory: Diana was raised on a hidden island that contains only women, some of them fairly jacked and butch-of-center. […] Diana is so clueless about men, human activity, and the basic concepts of manipulation and evil—think mute air-breathing Ariel in The Little Mermaid, if she could incapacitate an entire village of German sharpshooters—that her capacity for consent is somewhat blurry. She can’t even understand why Trevor thinks it would be improper for them to sleep in the same bed when they’ve just met. Diana’s naïveté and innocence are crucial to the film’s moral thrust, but they cast her sexual relationship in a shiftier light.”

Cauterucci isn’t the only critic who’s made this observation, but I respectfully disagree. While it would have been refreshing to see a Wonder Woman without a romantic subplot, its inclusion doesn’t erase or devalue Diana’s queerness. It simply means that she’s, wait for it…not attracted to one gender. We already knew that Wonder Woman was canonically bisexual (maybe she’s pansexual; the scope of her attraction is never defined, probably because it’s a movie about war and explosions and not all the steamy, acrobatic Amazon sex going on in Themyscira. Fingers crossed for the sequel).

Neither do I agree that Wonder Woman has a consent issue; Diana’s confusion over the importance of marriage and sleeping arrangements doesn’t rise from some Brooke-Sheilds-in-The-Blue-Lagoon sexual innocence, but seeming impatience at how ridiculous the social rules are in the world beyond Themyscira. By all accounts, Diana has had more sexual education than Steve; the Amazons apparently have a twelve-volume encyclopedia on the subject that she has studied extensively. Not only can Diana consent, but I imagine she must have had to give Steve some on-the-job training. The crucial naïveté Cauterucci describes extends to senseless violence against innocents, not Diana’s own sexuality. The only person who assumes otherwise is Steve, and Diana corrects that assumption matter-of-factly before it can take root in the narrative.

I won’t argue that Wonder Woman is a masterpiece of feminism that lifts up and represents every woman in the world. No movie, TV show, or book can possibly do that, as our stories and experiences are vast and varied. There were many missteps the movie made, from the minuscule parts given to black women and the absence of any other women of color from speaking roles, to the fact that, aside from Gadot and Lucy Davis’s dowdy but spunky Etta, once we leave Themyscira the movie turns into a total dude show. Even Dr. Poison, set up in the script to be the Big Bad, got shoved aside for Remus Lupin. I understand the feminist critics who say they didn’t dig the love story. But to argue that a canonically bisexual heroine is less queer because she has sex with a man off-screen, and to include this as a reason that the movie isn’t “as feminist as it thinks it is,” inadvertently suggests that biphobia and panphobia are somehow progressive.

I don’t excuse all the choices made by the filmmakers or celebrate Wonder Woman as a feminist master stroke in itself, but there’s no denying that its success has opened doors in Hollywood that were previously barred not only for female creators but female audiences, especially queer female audiences. Of course, it was still a movie in which a queer person’s love interest dies, though it was refreshing to see a straight, cis man fridged for a woman’s emotional motivation this time. I thoroughly look forward to the sequel, and maybe an ass-kicking girlfriend for Diana…who doesn’t die.

If You Want To Become An Acolyte Of Ursinetha, Goddess-Hunter And Queen Of Skulls, Eat The Still Beating Heart Of A Bear Every Day Or Quit Now

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Tomorrow, I will sit down and spend hours writing my current work in progress. I’m not sure right now if it’s going to be a hit, if my readers will love it or loathe it, or if it’s the best thing I’ve ever written. I don’t know if it will be a nail in the coffin of my writing career or if it will shoot me to the very heights of critical acclaim.

What I do know is that day, that very day, one thousand other people will also be writing their books. In order to make sure mine stands out from the crowd, my mind must be clear so I can write better than them. So, forgive me–I have to kill a bear.

Look, I’m not going to mince words here: Of the thousand other writers, 800 won’t have been blessed by Ursinetha, Goddess-Hunter and Queen of Skulls (may she reign in blood). Ursinetha love them, Ursinetha, be with them, Ursinetha, show them the mercy of a quick death beneath your dripping claws, they just are not as talented and dedicated to her glorious worship as I am. And that’s why they’re not going to be able to write a book. Because the Forest Spirits are in them, and once they’re in there, there’s no getting the out. Not without the appropriate sacrifices. For that same reason, I will never know a night’s sleep undisturbed by vivid memories of tearing hide and the steaming, fetid stench of an animal already decaying between my frenzied jaws, not matter how much I may want to.

So, that only leaves 200 other writers to compete with me. Sure, they may be smarter or more photogenic. They may have never taken the life of a man dressed as a bear in ceremonial combat. If they were writing this piece instead of me, you would like it a lot more, because it wouldn’t have so many parts about mysterious bear cults. They probably don’t have mystic runes tattooed on their back that ward them from the attacks of the Wolf Mages. You wouldn’t be embarrassed to bring them to parties.

I will conquer them all, however, and I will do it because I am willing to do what it takes to please the Forest Gods.

I will eat the still beating heart of a bear, and they will not.

 

The two most important tools at your disposal as a writer are your natural love of the written word and the dedication required to wrestle, subdue, and kill a bear. Somewhere along the line, all those people competing with me just lose their drive. I’m in too deep to stop now. They might lack the faith necessary to put their lives on the line for Ursinetha’s blessing, but I don’t. Maybe they’ll make some new friends; mine are all dead now, perished between the crushing teeth of an angry bear or smote to ashes by a Wolf Mage. Their books will wither like so much bear meat left to rot in the undergrowth.

I know about bear meat. And books. And I know that without one, the other cannot survive.

I get it. You’re working hard on your book, doing your thing day in and day out until your brain gets tired and you think, “Man, I have to quit before I burn out.” Maybe you start taking a weekend off here and there. And that’s when the call of the wilderness touches you, draws you from your computer and into the night. You strip naked, you run on all fours. When you wake up, you don’t know where you are, but the rows of sturdy RVs and screaming campers give you an indication. Somehow, you’ve wound up in the KOA, wrapped in a black bear’s hide. And there’s blood. Oh god, there’s so much blood. But you didn’t finish the ritual.

I’m not a quitter. I don’t quit. When I start a mystical journey to conquer the raging forest spirits that haunt my dreams, I finish. So, let me give you some advice in your own quest.

The most important thing is to eat the heart.

If you don’t have the will to bring that steaming, still pumping organ to your lips, you are in the wrong business. Once you’ve broken the covenant with Ursinetha, she will offer you no protection. You have to make daily bear sacrifices a part of your routine. It has to become second nature, like making coffee or burning the appropriate herbs at a crossroads. It’s not a triumph of the muse. There’s nothing noble or dramatic about it. You do it because you have to, and because the moon has reached the zenith of its darkness. If you’re having to force yourself to take that first bite, you’re doing something wrong. Ever consider just not being a writer? We have plenty of those. Ones who don’t balk at consuming a bear’s heart.

Easy enough, right? Here’s how you do it: you murder a bear every day. Obviously, I don’t mean every day. Words don’t magically start meaning the things everyone understands them to mean just because I’m a writer telling you to murder a bear every day. Not knowing what words mean is an integral part of authorship. What I meant was: devour the heart of a bear every day.

The most difficult part of an author’s life isn’t the hours spent meticulously plotting a story or improving their craft, but their ability to constantly be thinking about ways to please Ursinetha and prove your devotion to her coven. You have to get into the mind of the bear. You have to make yourself become the bear. It will help you find the bear you’re meant to kill, until it becomes second nature to you. But if you stop, if you don’t do this every day (despite the fact that I’ve already said “Obviously, I don’t mean every day.”) eventually, you won’t remember how to take a life at all. Then you’ll have to go back to the Cave Of Waking Dreams and start your training all over!

The sad reality is that in the end, no matter how many hearts you’ve sacrificed to Ursinetha in shared feast, you may never fully defeat the Forest Spirits. You may be eaten by a bear. But you’ll never know what you can do until you’re free from the call of the still woodland night. So you get out there, and YOU EAT THE GODDAMNED BEAR HEART.

This piece was inspired by an insipid and self-congratulatory piece of nonsense by Pulitzer Prize winning critic Stephen Hunter, titled, “If You Want to Write a Book, Write Every Day or Quit Now” for The Daily Beast. It is only slightly more nonsensical than the above satire.

Do not fret over the advice Hunter dispensed in his piece. You can finish a book without writing every day. Almost every writer does. And other writers aren’t your competition (though they’ve apparently been unknowingly competing with Mr. Hunter for years). You do you, and fuck anyone who tells you that you should quit. Especially if they’ve just admitted to wanting you to fail in the very essay in which they claim to want to help you succeed.

 

True Blood Wednesday S04E04 “I’m Alive And On Fire” and S04E05 “Me And The Devil”

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That second episode is about my headset and my internet connection. But at long last, I’m back! I’ve used a different set up, so there will probably be more ambient noise. Just consider that a bonus.

Here’s the file for episode 4. Content warnings for rape, incest, and abuse. This show is getting dark. Also, the sound quality might suck because I was recording with the wrong mic. So there will probably be ambient noise that wouldn’t normally be there.

Here’s the file for episode 5. Content warning for the aftermath of all that other shit.

I so needed a night of absolutely incomprehensible vampire nonsense. Glad we’re back on track!

State Of The Trout: “Just Thinkin’ About Tomorrow”

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Hey there, everybody! First of all, the biggest and most heartfelt thank you to everyone who left comments or contacted me via email or social media after my recent post about my mental health. I don’t respond to stuff like 97.4% of the time because I’m seriously overwhelmed by the idea of anyone caring about me, but know that I appreciate you guys and the little community we’ve made here. And I’m on the upswing again. I hope it’s catching, and you all can be, as well.

Second, if you follow me on social media, you know that last week, my daughter and I had a great time auditioning for Annie at Center Stage Theater in Comstock, MI. I’m pleased to report that both of us are in the show! My daughter is in the orphan chorus, and while I got called back for Miss Hannigan, I ultimately didn’t get the part and am playing…

Sophie.

I thought you guys would all get a kick out of that. I’m playing a character named Sophie.

So, if you’re in the southwest Michigan area in July-ish, come see us singing and dancing (the latter of which is a lot harder to do than I remember, but I also weighed approximately one hundred pounds less the last time I had to do it). I’ll put the performance dates, times, and ticket buy links on the “Meet Me!” page as we get closer.

When I was younger, I thought my destiny was to be a singer/actress who dazzled on the Broadway stage. Even though that never came to be, I’m psyched to be involved in community theater again, and with my daughter, who’s doing her first show the same place I did mine way back in 1996! Expect to see some musical theater related posts in the next few weeks.

Onto other news, I think I figured out what was wong with my headsetso True Blood Tuesday will be back this week with a double installment.

That’s all the news that’s fit to post. Have a Troutstanding Monday!