intertribal: (huh?)
Part of the reason I keep a livejournal is so I can remember hilarious things, years later. For instance, while listening to Roland Garros radio eight years ago, I discovered a wonderful tennis commentator by the name of Richard Evans, who was commentating a painful women's match on his own, running out of things to talk about, and wondering when dinner was. Years passed, I discovered Robbie Koenig, and I would have forgotten all about him if not for going back through old entries. Richard Evans, I thought. You cantankerous bastard. Whatever happened to you?

Look who showed up on my Twitter feed just now:
Never change, Richard Evans! (Never change, Roger Federer!)

theme-post

Jun. 6th, 2014 08:09 am
intertribal: (peace)
"Blindfold" - Curve

Now I remember two days that mean a lot to me
I remember the two days when every hour was a minute
And every minute was a lifetime and the ocean was a sea
And you dragged me into the mountains with a flimsy guarantee
The stronger the man, the stronger the woman
If it ended now, would you be willing?
See how it feels for me - do you believe in me?

"Blinding" - Florence + the Machine

No more dreaming of the dead as if death itself was undone
No more calling like a crow for a boy, for a body in the garden
No more dreaming like a girl so in love, so in love
No more dreaming like a girl so in love with the wrong world

"Blindfold" - Morcheeba

Spring has gone
And summer keeps on coming on
I'm so glad to have you
And it's getting worse
I'm so mad to love you
And your evil curse

"Blind" - Michael Gira

Please don't ask me a question
It'd just be misunderstood
And if you could step inside me you'd feel what hatred brings
And if you saw with my eyes you'd see what self-deception means
I was younger once and I created a lie
And though my body was strong
I was self-deluded, confident and blind

"Blindsided" - Bon Iver

I'm not really like this
I'm probably plightless
Would you really rush out?
Would you really rush out for me now?

"Blindness" - Metric


What it is and where it stops nobody knows
You gave me a battle I never chose
I was the one with the world at my feet
Got us a battle, leave it up to me

-- side note: Can I just be Emily Haines?  Check out her fucking sunglasses in this "Help, I'm Alive" video.  
intertribal: (tongue)

Dude: Letting people down is my thing, baby - find yourself a new gig, this town ain't big enough for two of us
I don't have the right name, or the right looks, but I have twice the heart
Dudette: If I spilled my guts, the world would never look at you the same way
And now I'm here to give you all my love... so I can watch your face as I take it all away
Both: I know I'm bad news, I saved it all for you.  I want to teach you a lesson in the worst kind of way -- still, I'd trade all my tomorrows for just one yesterday.

I have no idea what's going on in this video, but I've always loved this song.  When I heard it I immediately associated it with my "super-couple," the one I've been writing about since middle school.  For a while I was going to have their first book be my first book - I had worked exhaustively on the outline, written sizable chunks of the story, was living and breathing the characters - and then earlier this year, I decided I couldn't write their story now.

You see, my "super-couple" have always started off as best friends.*  The exact details of their unconscious coupling has changed over the years.  In the first version (the middle school one), the guy had always had feelings for the girl, and she is eventually convinced after some dangerous encounter to give the relationship a shot.  In the second version (written while I was in college), there was mutual unspoken tension that was never acted on because the girl was afraid of intimacy and the guy was afraid of commitment, and when it finally is acted on, it's when the guy has a girlfriend an ocean away.  In the third version (drafted last year), they start a FWB relationship that emotionally destroys the girl and initiates a cycle of jealousy/revenge/sabotage.  Their relationship has gotten progressively darker each time - I almost wondered if I overdid it with this last version, because the guy is such a selfish asshole and the girl is so pathetic.  Her friends stage interventions repeatedly and they never work.  Anyway, the thought of writing about these two right now is just like "NOPE NOPE," - I am just not in the right emotional state.  I know some writers are all about "spin that angst into writing gold!" but I need writing to function at least a little bit as an emotional escape for me.

So I'm writing the story about Americans studying abroad in Indonesia instead.  It's going well so far.

Other songs I've associated with my super-couple over the years (they have a lot of problems):

  1. "Limp" - Fiona Apple: "You feed the beast I have within me/ You fondle my trigger then you blame my gun."

  2. "Suspension Without Suspense" - No Doubt: "Now that I've/ forced you off, do you hate me?  Do you want revenge?"

  3. "Nothing Better" - Postal Service: "Don't you feed me lines about some idealistic future."

  4. "Push It" - Garbage: "I was angry when I met you.  I think I'm angry still.  We can try to talk it over."

  5. "Paradise Circus" - Massive Attack: "It's unfortunate that when we feel a storm we can roll ourselves over cuz we're uncomfortable."

  6. "Slide" - Goo Goo Dolls: "I wanna wake up where you are, I won't say anything at all."

  7. "Closer" - Nine Inch Nails: "I wanna fuck you like an animal."

  8. "Ways & Means" - Snow Patrol: "Maybe I can do it, if I put my back into it.  I can leave you if I wanted, but there's nowhere else that I can go.  Maybe I won't suffer, if I find a way to love her - I'd be lying to myself, but there's no way out that I can see."

  9. "Drowned World / Substitute for Love" - Madonna: "Traveled round the world, looking for a home, I found myself in crowded rooms, feeling so alone/ Should I wait for you, my substitute for love?"

  10. "Sometimes It Hurts" - Stabbing Westward: "God, I hate myself when I try to get over you."

  11. "Filth Noir" - Zeromancer: "Sometimes you just have to risk it all to get what you want."

  12. "Leif Erikson" - Interpol: "You come here to me, we'll collect those lonely parts and set them down."

  13. "Teardrop" - Massive Attack: "Love is a verb, love is a doing word."

* Same first initials too.  Same last initial as well, on his part.
intertribal: (leather)
Oh, and while I'm at it: Godzilla --

-- was not as good as Cloverfield or Pacific Rim.  By a long-shot, in my opinion.  The trailer is a lot better than the movie - there's an apocalyptic solemnity in the trailer that's quite convincing, but lacking in the movie, which feels like a throwback to the 1990s' style of fluffy blockbuster without any of the humor or star power.  I really didn't understand what was going on with the plot, even though I suspect it was very simple - the movie rushed through its clumsily-delivered explanations.

The audience didn't take it too seriously either - everyone could not help laughing when Ken Watanabe ominously intoned, "Gojira," and everyone clapped for Godzilla's power move kill shot at the end.  It was the kind of movie that had L. suggesting that Godzilla should have just gone ahead and done a little salute at the end.  It was corny.

What I love about Pacific Rim is that it's scary, and it builds its world extremely well.  I bought the world of Pacific Rim as a world in which these gigantic monsters keep popping up and destroying cities, for years and years on end, and humanity has more or less altered to live with it.  The indie movie Monsters is the best example of this sort of creativity, but Pacific Rim has a bold, neon, all-in shamelessness in its world-building that I loved.  (Also, Raleigh and Mako ugh I can't)  I mean, for God's sake, the entire Ron Perlman character. Godzilla has none of that. Godzilla is bland - camo-toned and humorless and flat.

And what I love about Cloverfield is its sincere, hysterical emotion.  You hate those stupid yuppies but damn if they don't seem like real people.  Damn if this doesn't seem like what would actually fucking happen if you were living in New York City and a monster attacked.  What struck me about Godzilla was how utterly calm everyone seemed to be.  The military, the civilians - it was almost like people had to be reminded to run, to scream, to act scared.  Bryan Cranston was the only person who seemed to be articulating his emotions, and as a result actually looked a little out-of-place.

In other words, Godzilla didn't seem to believe in itself.  Which is too bad.

I will say, though, I would love to watch a giant monster movie compilation set to Iggy Azalea's "Change Your Life" ("pop out your past life and I'll renovate your future/ yeah I love your hustle baby, just let me add a little bit of muscle, baby").  Seriously, something like this set to "Change Your Life"?  Would be amazing.

iggy muscle
intertribal: (fuck)
Lessons learned from Season 4 of MTV's "Friendzone":

  • People who have been friends since childhood can't transition into more than that, despite what soft-focus romance novels and black-and-white pictures of children kissing may tell you.

  • The more confident you are that your best friend likes you back, the less likely it is that you are right.

  • Displays of jealousy are not an accurate indicator of the other person's feelings.

  • Do not ever do this in front of a group of people.  Especially if those people are your sorority sisters/fraternity brothers.  No but really.

  • It is uncanny the number of times that the other person responds with "yeah, I've actually... always had a crush on you too."

  • Sometimes, people do change their minds.

  • The worst?  When you tell someone you like them, and they say they have a crush on your best friend.

  • Don't ever try to get out of the Friendzone with someone who is in a relationship.

The "friendzone" is frequently and disparagingly described as such: Person A meets Person B, and instantly is attracted to Person B.  Rather than directly asking out Person B, Person A hangs around them, surreptitiously becoming their friend in the hopes that they will eventually change their minds, out of inertia if nothing else.  Frequently, Person A is described as a guy, and Person B a girl; Person A does good, friendly deeds for Person B with the expectation that Person B should love and fuck them in return.  The xkcd comic is a classic understanding.  The Friend-Zoner vs. the Nice Guy is another.  And I guess that's fair - there are people like that, usually guys who conclude that girls "just don't like nice guys."

But the reality is a lot more complicated, as "Friendzone" the show demonstrates.  Feelings are fluid.  Feelings are multi-faceted.  All of the people on "Friendzone" who are in love with their best friend genuinely and deeply care for both the best friend and their friendship.  They worry about losing the best friend and making the friendship awkward.  In real life, Person A may have approached Person B with interest, Person B declined, and years later, Person B develops feelings for Person A.  In real life, Person B liked Person A all along as well.  In real life, there is not always a hard and fast line between "platonic" and "romantic."  In real life - as long as they did not meet as children - both parties wonder if anything could or should happen with this person they click so well with, but fear is the mind-killer.  Fear that the other person does not feel the same; fear that a prior bad experience with a friends-to-dating transition will repeat itself.  "Friendzone" is more like "Fearzone," really.  And MTV knows all about that.

intertribal: (fuck)
From a classic (2011) n+1 essay on "how we chat now":

And who do we Gchat with, when it counts? Friends, past boyfriends, future boyfriends, other people’s boyfriends... Gchat is for friendship, and affairs. It’s for allowing into the home everyone who isn’t supposed to be there, who’s supposed to be at home in their own bedroom... Might this be a model of commitment: truly felt on both sides, mutually desired, without exclusivity? These conversations don’t occur at the exact same time—if we wanted threesomes, we’d be in Group Chat—but the long view is the one to be taken here, and the beginning of one chat does not mean the end of another.
intertribal: (peace)
la colonia

  • Chantecaille Kalimantan fragrance is inspired by the intoxicating and lush forests of Borneo, available on the market from September 2010. Intense, sexy and exotic, it features the notes of labdanum, incense and patchouli, merged with benzoin, vanilla and cedar, to illustrate the fragrant wild flora of the island of Borneo.

  • Patchouly Indonesiano is a deep, dark and exotic fragrance. Its entire composition consists of Indonesian patchouli (in the top notes, the heart and the perfume base).

  • Rituel de Java by Cinq Mondes is a Woody Spicy fragrance for men. Rituel de Java was launched in 2008. Top note is eucalyptus; middle notes are cinnamon and woodsy notes; base notes are patchouli and virginia cedar.

  • Borneo 1834 by Serge Lutens is a Oriental Woody fragrance for women and men. Borneo 1834 was launched in 2005. The fragrance features patchouli, white flowers, cardamom, galbanum, french labdanum and cacao.

  • Colonial Club by Jeanne Arthes is a Woody Floral Musk fragrance for men. Top notes are mint and lemon; middle notes are jasmine and fruity notes; base notes are patchouli, musk and cedar.

  • Poivre Colonial is a new fragrance from the Eaux de Toilette collection from Phaedon. The scent has been described as both "prickly and smooth” woody – spicy one. It opens with an explosion of grapefruit, nutmeg and pepper. The heart includes cedar and vetiver, mixed with warm cacao bean. The base is dominated by notes of oak moss and patchouli with blonde woods.

  • The Italian brand of I Coloniali presents their collection Seductive Elixir of 8 fragrant waters in 2012. The collection is inspired by distant countries and offers intense, long-lasting fragrances with various fragrant compositions.

  • Acqua di Genova, Colonia Classica by Acqua di Genova is a Citrus Aromatic fragrance for women and men. Acqua di Genova, Colonia Classica was launched in 1853. Top notes are bergamot, amalfi lemon, orange, rosemary, neroli and lavender; middle notes are jasmine, rose and orange blossom; base notes are patchouli, sandalwood, amber and musk.

  • Agua de Colonia Concentrada Barberia by Alvarez Gomez is a Citrus Aromatic fragrance for women and men. This is a new fragrance. Top notes are lemon, bitter orange, bergamot and ginger; middle notes are rhubarb, labdanum and coriander; base notes are cedar, sandalwood and white musk.

  • Colonia del Sacramento fragrance by Fueguia 1833 belongs to the Destinos collection. “A mix of European detachment with River Plate indolence, this blend combines a restless fragrance of bergamot, orange blossom and lemon.”

intertribal: (tongue)
I saw two horror movies back to back recently - Contracted and Alyce Kills (both on Netflix).  They're both like Girls episodes gone bloody, which is always interesting to me since we know how much I like the whole women-in-horror thing.  I told a friend who doesn't like horror movies the plot line of The Descent this evening and she came away saying, "I will never watch that because I can't handle gore, but it sounds intriguing."  Which of course it is!  I have come up with a new crazy theory about how watching and writing horror has made me a stronger person, but I think it needs to be fleshed out before I show it to the world.

Contracted is about sexually transmitted diseases. Alyce Kills is about being obsessed with your best friend, I guess.  The main characters of both movies are lesbians in their 20s living in some L.A.-like city, working as a waitress (Samantha from Contracted) or a menial office worker of some kind (Alyce from Alyce Kills).  Both are surrounded by an infuriating cast of realistically - sometimes absurdly - obnoxious characters.

Neither of the two are especially sympathetic, but both are - at least at first - at the mercy of larger forces, both supernatural and societal.  Samantha is a nail-biting bundle of nerves who's recently broken up with too-cool-for-school Nikki and living with her ridiculous mother, whose inability to accept that Samantha is a lesbian is perfectly mirrored by her inability to see that Samantha has contracted some terrible, terrible illness.  Samantha is not over Nikki and wants desperately to get back with her, but meanwhile she's being harassed by dweeb-leech Riley.  She's sleepwalking (nightmaring, really) through life.  Then she goes to a party and has her drink spiked by a dude no one seems to know named B.J., who we previously saw engaging in necrophilia.  B.J. rapes her.  Samantha thinks she's got a bad cold... then a bad stomach bug... then a bad STD.  But come on, people: her eyes are bleeding, her hair and nails are falling out... Samantha's turning dead, and no one seems to be all that alarmed.  The movie is an allegory about a lot of things, but I came away thinking mostly about invisibility, intense helplessness, and apathy.  Samantha definitely has an external locus of control, and unfortunately the world just doesn't give a shit about her - until, of course, she's become a full-on zombie.

Alyce is different, and in some ways a relief after the excruciating passive weakness of Samantha - except that Alyce has murderous, apocalyptic tendencies.  But Alyce, to her credit, gets shit done.  When she pushes her best friend off a roof - accidentally?  again, Alyce, like Samantha, has been drinking when the great Calamity happens and the horror rabbit-hole opens up - she quickly figures out that she's going to lie to the police about having been on the roof too.  She decides she'll have sex with a drug dealer for the drugs she needs to get the ghostly visage of her best friend out of her head.  She decides she needs to kill her paralyzed best friend (who she loves, and hates, and everything in between) before the best friend can point the finger at her.  She decides to cause a terrible scene at the best friend's funeral.  She decides to start killing people who hurt the best friend.  Etc.  Alyce, if nothing else, is a very active agent in her life.  She also makes terrible - evil, really - decisions with very little regard for others.  Both Samantha and Alyce kill people, but Samantha does so out of a combination of her slow-burning frustration with existence and more importantly, the zombie disease inside her.  Alyce, like her best friend before the fall, is hovering over the precipice and cracking up, probably because she's one of those people who doesn't really consider other people to be "real."

Neither of these are much fun to watch, and neither are beautiful in any way.  My favorite scene in Alyce Kills is one where Alyce takes home a douchey stud-muffin who's been hitting on her and can't resist inflicting minor pains on him - he'll punch her off the bed, and she gets right back up, laughing.  It's perfectly uncomfortable and hysterical in a Hole-ish way.  The equivalent scene in Contracted is horrific, grotesque, and involves maggots ("my body the hand grenade," indeed).  I'm not sure I had a favorite scene in Contracted because the whole experience is so uniformly unpleasant and sad and there's not an ounce of mirth or glory in it.  But Contracted stayed with me for longer.  These are both flawed movies that certainly won't speak to everyone, but they're certainly interesting additions to women-in-horror-the-saga-continues.

On that note, one of my favorite horror-Hole songs:

intertribal: (city)
I watched Norwegian Wood a few months ago (haven't read the book, I know, a thousand suns of shame).  I didn't think that I would ever be in the position of relating to the girl described as "outgoing and lively," but man, I was definitely Team Midori.  Maybe because like Midori, I've been hurt too much in the past and I just want to be happy now.  So Midori is in love with the main character, Toru Watanabe, who is depressed and attached to this suicidal girl Naoko who's off at a resort-sanitarium.  And I have no idea how it is in the book, but in the movie it comes across like he's just kind of like, man, I know Midori likes me, but I don't know what to do about it, so I'm gonna do nothing and just sit here quietly with my dark thoughts, blahrghgh. So there's this part where Midori finally tells him, "I'll wait, because I trust you, but when you take me, take only me"... fuck it, I'll just post it.



I'm reading through the Goodreads quotes from the book and they're a little eerie.  Especially this and this.  And this letter is from here (I guess this is from the book?  It almost made me cry though):

midori toru
intertribal: (fuck)


All I can do is fight, even if I know you're right.
Pretty fingers holding fast - maybe it's your violent past?
All you can do is hide - God bless the darkness of the night.
intertribal: (leather)
Reading this obituary of Fred Phelps Sr., founder of the notorious Westboro Baptist Church --

Fred Waldron Phelps was born in Meridian, Miss., on Nov. 13, 1929. After his mother died of cancer, he was mostly raised by an aunt. His father, a detective for the Southern Railway, was often away on business. He was ordained as a Baptist minister at 17 and bounced around as a street-corner preacher while taking classes at various colleges.

-- made me think that maybe this guy is the all-grown-up version of Francis Tarwater, from Flannery O'Connor's The Violent Bear It Away.

Truly, would explain a lot.  Don't let the door hit you on your way out, mister.
intertribal: (peace)

"It just goes to show you, you have to go with your first instinct.  If you were originally thinking A, then go with A.  It's good to know that sometimes your gut is right."

Bonus Nostalgia Songs on a Theme (and One Non-Nostalgia Song):
"Stories" - Trapt
"Letters" - Stroke 9
"Little Talks" - Of Monsters and Men
"All Good Naysayers, Speak Up! Or Forever Hold Your Peace!" - Sufjan Stevens
"Big Talk" - Speakerhedz

* Either MTV's most cynical or most idealistic show yet.

intertribal: (balance)
i.e. Heather Havrilesky, my favorite advice columnist working today (now that Ask Barf and Dear Sugar are ended):

"If you have a big, imaginative brain and you naturally think think think in circles anyway, obsession is like coming home to mama. Only mama is more like a vengeful, unforgiving god. Mama is the fucking Heat Miser."

And when you have two people like this...
intertribal: (fuck)
"Relationship questions on this site are littered with the bones of people who believed there was a way to decide how they were going to feel later."

"If someone had figured out a way to turn off unwanted romantic feelings at will they'd be a billionaire and you'd see it sold at pharmacies across the world."

"this is one of those questions where if you have to ask the answer is no."
intertribal: (punk pop)


Katy Perry's Grammy's performance of "Dark Horse" was visually fucking great, but the song didn't come across so well.  Which is not to say I think Katy Perry is any great vocal talent... but I really love this song, it deserves something steadier.  I've been listening to it on repeat today.  So here you go, enjoy this super kitschy lyrics video.  Aside from the central question, "So you wanna play with magic?" the best lines belong to Juicy J: "She's a beast / She'll eat your heart out like Jeffrey Dahmer / be careful, try not to lead her on / shorty's heart is on steroids cuz her love is so strong / she's sweet as pie but if you break her heart, she turn cold as a freezer."  Which of course, goes back to my favorite nursery rhyme: "And when she was good, she was very, very good / and when she was bad, she was horrid."

There's a lot of hate for Katy Perry -- do you ever feel like a plastic bag? -- but she's one of my favorite Top-40 pop stars.  I think I just really enjoy her imagery.  I really like "Roar." The video is quite great.  Any video that has a tiger eating an asshole earns points from me.  I love "E.T." for being as creepy as a Top-40 can be without being, you know, (too) rapey.  Then there's the songs I don't like that much, like "The One That Got Away" and "Part Of Me," but I'm still like, okay, that's an acceptable pop song that's a little different, has a little bit of an attitude.  Still have fun videos.  I like the girl, what can I say.  And I was not expecting to, considering she started off as a Christian artist.  It's okay, she's evil now (title is from a disappointed Christian, but I mean it sincerely!).  She's with the Illuminati.

And then there's "Hot N Cold."  Oh, how I love "Hot N Cold."  The veil, the raccoon eyes, the hair in her hip-hop scene.  In my alternate reality I wear pink matte lipstick, see.  I feel like Katy Perry would wear my fictional make-up line, Frantic.  And then the lyrics, of course. Yeah, you PMS like a bitch.  I would know.



On a related note:

Are you ready for a perfect storm?

Well, are ya, punk?  
intertribal: (meow)
New Year's Resolution #1: Get serious about writing.  It's put up or shut up time.  Those novels are not going to write themselves.

You may have been wondering what the hell I've been doing for the past two years (aside from getting a Master's degree and working almost full-time). Well, I've been mulling.  I've been outlining.  I've been making playlists.  I've been reading (not enough).  And now, I am absolutely ready to make a serious go at a novel.  But I'm at a crossroads: where do I start?

Option #1: Novel 1 out of 3 of my "American fascism" trilogy.  Set in a contemporary city in a slightly-alternative, highly-corrupt and "materialistic" America, it's more in the vein of Lewis's It Can't Happen Here than Roth's The Plot Against America.  One of my main characters, in law enforcement, is a "winner" in the current social landscape; the other one, a journalist, is struggling.  A new religious movement, and a new political party, sweeps the nation with the promise of transformative, transcendental change.  Now I love this story.  I love the messy, desperate, self-deceiving characters.  I kind of live and breathe them, actually - I stay up late tinkering with the outline, writing random scenes.  I've spent so much time planning this story, and am so excited about this story, that I could probably write it fairly quickly.  This is, hands-down, the option with the most momentum and passion behind it.  But: it's pretty political, obviously.  No John Galt speeches, and hopefully it's not a polemic - it's way more focused on characters' inner lives than the grit of political issues - but it's political.  It might piss people off.  And I worry that a potentially "controversial" book isn't the right choice for a debut.

Option #2: A stand-alone story about young Americans studying and working abroad in a fictionalized Indonesia.  The overarching theme is self-discovery: discovering what truly matters to you, what you'd be willing to do to get it, and who you really are.  The other theme is the interaction between the (naturally) self-absorbed post-grads and the politics of the foreign country that's hosting them, which is experiencing Sukarno-style turbulence.  So we've got a few overlapping stories: an ambitious scholar falls in love with the girl of his dreams, but she's heading toward a psychotic break; a rich kid with poor grades finds his calling with the military general who knows his father; one dude turns into a prophet and starts his own (very small) religion.  Now I "know" far less about Option #2 than Option #1.  I know the contours of the plot and the way each character develops, but I haven't spent as much time processing it.  I just came up with the title today.  I don't know the characters as well, and except for the girl on the verge of a psychotic break who becomes convinced she's possessed by the mask she's studying... I'm not as enthusiastic about this story.  On the other hand, I feel like it would make more "sense" to start here - it's a stand-alone, I too just finished grad school, I don't think it would be at all controversial.

Both of these stories are concerned with the way the personal snake wraps around the political axis (or sometimes, vice versa) - it's by far my favorite thing to write about.  Both flirt with horror (psychic powers in Option #1, evil spirits in Option #2), though that's not the main focus of either.  But they otherwise feel very different.

If I had my way, I'd keep going full-speed ahead on Option #1.  But I worry that that's not the strategic choice, right now.

Thoughts?
intertribal: (black)
One of the most common conversations I get into with friends who discover that I really like horror movies is this: "Why are the ghosts/demons always women?"  It's an age-old question, one that I've probably talked about already, but once you point it out to someone you can't stop noticing it.  I've even noticed it in my own writing: I'm way more likely to write a female ghost than a male one, even though when you watch those shitty ghost re-enactment shows, the ratio seems to be about 50-50.  If these little testimonials are any indication, you're just as likely to be haunted by Great-Uncle Bob as Great-Aunt Millie.*

I have a few theories that I offer when asked the aforementioned question:

  • Women are more likely to be disenfranchised with limited options in real life, so their only recourse for the plethora of wrongs done to them is supernatural vengeance (c.f. the rape-and-revenge ghost movies like Shutter and Rose Red, or even that old samurai ghost story retold in Kwaidan, as well as the occasional slow-burner like Lake Mungo or Ghost Story)

  • Women are considered closer to wilderness, savagery, evil, insanity, magic, so they are either explicitly more susceptible to the supernatural or just the quicker, lazier, easier option for the creator (c.f. a whole bunch of stuff, from Evil Dead and Infection to The Ring and Noroi and The Haunting of Hill House)

  • Women are more likely to die a violent death - this goes with #1 (c.f. Ju-On, Silent Hill, What Lies Beneath, Retribution, all them Korean Whispering Corridors movies)

Demon possession movies are an extreme version of Theory #2, because demon possession in real life tends to be colored by the perception that young women are: 1) walking potential demon vessels, because they are the weaker/fairer sex, or further from God, or natural followers, or something - I really don't know, but something about Eve?; 2) really tasty demon food, sometimes because they can potentially bear the anti-Christ; 3) more likely to give in to temptation?; 4) so sweet and innocent and virginal and protected that it's more tragic and horrifying all-around (the same reason some Christians say believers are more likely to be attacked by demons: they're a more impressive conquest); 5) NO ONE EXPECTS THE LITTLE GIRL.

If you look at movies like Emily Rose, The Exorcist, and The Last Exorcism, wherein you've got a pretty teenaged girl writhing around in her nightgown and talking dirty to stiff, straight-backed male priests - and of course, the implication that the Devil has literally invaded this girl's body - you've got to conclude that there's some psycho-sexual shit going on, like the Devil is mocking and showing off our society's sexualization of young women who are, nonetheless, still absolutely required to be good girls (a lady in the street but a freak in the bed, and all that).  Like we are so used to ogling and objectifying young women, well look at her now.  Like the most grotesque and disturbing thing we can think of, as a culture, is a wicked, furious, enraged sixteen-year-old girl - precisely because they are supposed to be pliant, happy, vulnerable, something for Liam Neeson to rescue.  The irony is that she's still all those things, of course, because as the Paranormal Activity trilogy sadly reminds us, it's the demonic spirit acting through her body.

The Conjuring is all about all this stuff, but also highlights a couple less common, but still pervasive themes:

  • Ghosts and demons and poltergeists alike attack families when the father is out of town.  Strangely, this actually does correspond to those ghost re-enactment shows.  I always assume it's because the malevolent entity thinks the father is the alpha.**  The father also tends to be the disbeliever/skeptic, compared to the histrionic mother.

  • The truly most horrifying thing we can think of is an evil mother: a mother who kills her own children.  I'm torn on whether this is seen as worse than or equally as bad as an evil father, because there are fathers-gone-rotten: Amityville, The Shining, Insidious.  I think if you look at the news media, you get the sense that child-killing mothers are worse, because maternal instinct is assumed to be stronger, and men are assumed to be violent anyway.  "Mother is God in the eyes of a child," as they say in Silent Hill, so naturally the topsy-turvy version of that Good Mother is going to be pure evil.

Put in this perspective, The Conjuring isn't really especially right-wing.  It falls right into place in a very old-fashioned, very Christian rendering of the supernatural genre.  "God brought us together for a reason," Lorraine Warren says to her husband, who admonishes the besieged family for not baptizing their daughters.  Note that it's also a very American Christianity here: the Catholic Church is no help because it's tied up in red tape, so if you want an exorcism done right you gotta do it yourself, Signs & Wonders style.  It occurred to me last night that it's really quite incredible how much American demon possession movies align with the world view of a very fringe faction of Protestantism along with other people who take exorcism and "spiritual warfare" into their own hands and are thus most likely to accidentally kill somebody in an exorcism.  The most disturbing part of the movie for me comes near the end, when the demon is breaking the possessee's bones and Lorraine says, "We are now fighting for her soul!"  This is in other exorcism movies too and I gotta say, few sentiments in horror movies seem as likely to lead to the deaths of actual people.

But I guess I've grown weary of movies like this - The Conjuring even comes complete with a creepy haunted (girl) doll that needs to be kept in a glass case, how much more retrograde can you get? - especially when even Hollywood seemed for a while to be churning out new, different types of supernatural horror movies, like Insidious, Sinister, Cabin in the Woods, Mama - not to mention the indies, like the extremely creepy and highly-recommended Lovely Molly, problematic V/H/S, Absentia, The Moth Diaries, Hollow.  I like to think that we can be more interesting.

* Speaking of Bob, David Lynch deserves credit for making one of the most frightening supernatural men ever, and one that clearly hates women, at that.
** Yeah, "malevolent entity thinks"... I know.  Can never be too careful!
intertribal: (meow)
"Miles and miles of perfect skin, I swear I do, I fit right in.  Miles and miles of perfect sin, I swear, I said, I fit right in, I fit right in your perfect skin."
- Hole, "Reasons to Be Beautiful"

This is an issue near and dear to my heart, so I'm actually going to respond to it: Can Male Writers Successfully Write Female Characters? Rod Rees defends his female characters in a way that makes you really appreciate Cormac McCarthy's refusal to write female characters, because he just knows he can't pull it off.  Because if there's one thing worse than a man who claims all women are incomprehensible, it's the man who claims to understand all women!

The old adage is write what you know and living in a house with two hi-achieving, confident and very ambitious teenage girls and having an intelligent and thoughtful wife (who happens to be beautiful to boot!) gave me, I thought, something of an insight into the female mindset.

Beautiful to boot!  I'm sure that makes her easier to try to understand.  Based on his descriptions of them, his female protagonists tend to be young, feisty, and ready and able to market themselves to men.  They admire their breasts in the mirror, use their sexual wiles to get themselves out of a tight corner (the backseat of a Volkswagen?), and call themselves "a lush thrush with a tight tush."  Rees protests that women do, indeed, objectify themselves.  And yes, many women do - many women are constantly preoccupied with their bodies, but about 80-90% of the time, such preoccupation comes from a very scary place of self-hatred and envy.  Even my most confident friends say things like, "bad news, I got fat :(" and when they tell their mirror selves, out loud, "I look hot," it's to combat the years and years of negative internal dialogue, their relatives' nitpicking, their boyfriends' secret stash of porn featuring women that look nothing like them, and of course, that ol' bugaboo, the media.

Rees also protests that women - grown-up women, that is, in the "visceral world of adult fiction" - use their sexual wiles.  Yeah, also true; some women do.  But again, it's accompanied by a whole host of other issues: flashbacks to uncomfortable/negative/non-consensual sexual experiences, fear of "something going wrong," and of course, the above body shame.  There's also the issue of personality shame: "I'm too awkward," "I scare people away," "no one likes me," "I'm not popular."  I'm not saying guys don't have this too - they do - but that this is a real insecurity experienced by many, many women (pretty much every woman I know) who are under pressure to be the kind of socially-adept coquettes that Rees apparently thinks is standard adult female behavior.  And as I argued in my essay on Shirley Jackson, women who fail to play the social roles assigned to them rarely if ever appear in fiction, and almost never as heroines.  This doesn't mean there's not a hunger for them, among both men and women, which is why fucked-up, maladroit women like Kara "Starbuck" Thrace and Lisbeth Salander have proved so popular, and why I've got high hopes for Sonya Cross on "The Bridge."  The issue, for me, isn't that Rees writes about women who don't exist.  I'm sure they do, somewhere - there's a lot of women in the world - and they're probably fucked-up in ways that Rees can't imagine.  The issue is that female characters like his are so obviously a male fantasy, and all they really do is contribute to the huge pile of excrement that is The Portrayal of Women in Media.

What it comes down to is this: spending your life looking at women does not give you insight into what it's like to be a woman, to think like one, to act like one.  All it does is enable you to create avatars who fetishize themselves.  When temporarily transformed into a woman for a movie, Dustin Hoffman came to the astonishing conclusion that the world was full of interesting women that he had not deigned to talk to, because they didn't meet "his" standard of beauty - because he had been brainwashed.  This is a really important discovery that more men need to make.  To some extent, it goes both ways, but men have more social tools at their disposal: wealth, power, seniority, wit, or even just being "not creepy."  By in large, women are still defined and judged by their physical characteristics.

Once female writers venture into the more visceral world of adult fiction they find this stereotype doesn’t work and hence struggle. Just a thought.

The stereotype, by the way, is the "ideal" heroine who doesn't "see herself as an object of male sexual interest" and doesn't "use her sexual charisma as a means of achieving an objective."  This is probably the most woeful, enraging assertion of all, but I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Rees hasn't read a lot of books, or stories, or songs written by women.  I mean, if he's really suggesting female writers write female characters who have no idea they're objects of male sexual interest, he really needs to listen to Courtney Love's entire ouevre, for one, and Catherine Breillat's, and Sylvia Plath's.  Believe me: we know.  And actually, there are female writers who write his type of self-fetishizing female characters: teenage girls writing bad fanfiction, copying what they've seen in some romance novels, some erotica, and male-gaze sex scenes.  He's got plenty of company. 
intertribal: (smoke)
I'm starting to think that writing about contemporary politics (a political thriller!) from the liberal perspective is like trying to analyze security and war from a constructivist perspective: goddamn near impossible.  Like a fish trying to ride a bicycle.  Etc.  My roommate says I will have bombs delivered to my mailbox if I publish this story, and I said nobody tried to bomb Margaret Atwood, but then again she could hide her true ambitions in extreme dystopia elements, which I'm not doing. This article suggests I take my cues from David Baldacci, whose ads I sometimes see on the metro, or apparently turn to legal thrillers (also check out the conservative author's covers sometime.  They are really very macho.)

Needless to say, I'm an Idiot Writer that does not think about readership and marketability until it's too late.

As you can tell from the novel's playlist, it's mainly a love story.  It's about the power of ideology, after all.  Really more It Can't Happen Here than anything with big block letters and the Capitol building engulfed in darkness and flames.  It's not really about the people with fancy titles trying to stop plots - I don't even know what the President's name is, and anyway, can anybody really imagine me writing something where a politician is portrayed as anything but a half-cocked, rambling lunatic?  House of Cards, this ain't.  None of the main characters have any real national power, although the protagonists are Johnny-come-lately political activists.  I also spend way too much time on interpersonal drama - I've been watching The L Word and goddamn if that isn't the best relationship drama I've ever seen, although I am not surprised at all that the only thing that's come close for heterosexual relationships is the psychotic and unpleasant Nip/Tuck - and rape culture and depression for this to be a true political thriller, I think.

  1. "Filth Noir" - Zeromancer: Sometimes you just have to risk it all to get what you want

  2. "Sometimes It Hurts" - Stabbing Westward: I hate myself when I try to get over you

  3. "Hey Man, Nice Shot" - Filter: I wish I would have met you, now it's a little late

  4. "Tensioning" - Sparta: The sky could fall, the bliss of beginning replaced with an ending

  5. "Not in Love" - Crystal Castles (Robert Smith): And we were lovers, now we can't be friends

  6. "Weapon of Choice" - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: I won't waste my love on a nation

  7. "Is Your Love Strong Enough?" - How to Destroy Angels: Someone I could die for, there's no way I could ever leave

  8. "Bodies" - Smashing Pumpkins: Love is suicide

  9. "We Are The Lust" - Death in June: Hold the knife, bloodied, to the throat of love

Also, Glenn Beck's written another novel, and it's a (surprise!) dystopia - as far as I can tell, the UN appears to be committing genocide in the name of protecting the Animals of the Earth.

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