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: (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: (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)
... this one just came out of the swamp."
- Radiohead, "Optimistic"

Orson Scott Card is no longer contributing to the Superman mythos, and people are very happy about that because of his stance on gay marriage and homosexuality in general (being a Mormon).  This being the first I'd heard about any Card/Superman shenanigans, my reaction was "Well, of course he wants to write about Superman.  Superman is probably perfect for him.  He probably thinks Superman is the perfect Mormon, just like Stephanie Meyer wrote vampires as the perfect Mormons."

This blog, for instance, explains that Card should not write Superman because "I do not think that an admitted bigot, whether bigoted for religious reasons or no, is qualified to write for the comic universe’s greatest symbol of truth, justice, and equality."  I don't read Superman or Card, but I'm sure - sure - that Card thinks he's got at least truth and justice on his side.  Most people with strong beliefs don't think they're fighting for injustice and falsehood.  Here's an example of the defunct British political party, Veritas (note their primary policy, liberals).  Here is the famous USSR paper, Pravda.  Islamist Justice Parties are all over the place, like Indonesia's own Prosperous Justice Party - and most Western liberals don't think of Islamic law as the foundation for justice.  Truth, Justice, it just sounds like a good place to start.  And a character like Superman - who to me is the boyscout superhero with an unshakable dedication to all that is good - is going to be an appealing totem for any movement that thinks it's got righteousness on its side.

I don't begrudge Chris Sprouse, the would-be illustrator, his decision not to work with Card.  I don't begrudge not supporting Card.  I don't begrudge liking Superman.  I'm not even saying there is no absolute Truth or Justice.  But Superman is a symbol anybody can claim.  Card writing Superman is not like a misogynist writing Wonder Woman, because Superman's not gay.  Superman is a boy from a farm in Kansas who just wants to help people with his incredible strength. Sounds like a good place to start.  Boys Wanna Be Him, Girls Wanna Be Him.  DBZ fandom was the same way - jam-packed with conservatives and libertarians who read totally different messages in what I thought was The Great Post-Colonial Disaster.  Stephen Chow explained it very graciously: "the airy and unstrained story leaves much room for creation."  The main reason I'm writing this is because I am familiar with the feeling of frustration you get when something you love is terribly "misread."

I also know that with that feeling of indignation is a little hint deep inside that maybe you're the the one misreading things all along.  There was once a xenophobic facebook group, for example, that used The Lord of the Rings and Aragorn's "I Bid You Stand, Men of the West" in particular as its mascot.  I love LOTR, and I love Viggo Mortensen's Aragorn, and that is not what they represent to me, but I'm not going to pretend there is no xenophobia in that story, and that the facebook group creators were totally coming out of left (right) field.  l do think there's something about simple hero epics that appeals to a more conservative - and more ideological, on either side - audience overall.  It's the absolutism, I'd guess, and the masculinity.  So I also think Superman is a symbol someone like Orson Scott Card can easily claim.  Hooray.

Also, this is why I study -isms like fascism and nationalism: because there's a reason people sign onto these things.  These are words, ideas, symbols, codes that work.

This song helped me come to terms with this.  Hope it helps:

ah, shit.

Aug. 12th, 2012 01:19 am
intertribal: (get back (you don't know me like that))
Reading Junji Ito's "The Will" while listening to "Come to Daddy (Pappy Mix)" by Aphex Twin at 1 a.m.?

May rank in my list of dumbest decisions of all time.

intertribal: (where would you go if the gun fell in yo)
I'm getting ready to write a story about self-immolation (what a great opening line that is) so I've been doing a lot of research on that, but I hadn't run across this.

At my internship I'm making this enormous insane database of internal conflict/collective violence in Indonesia since the beginning of the year, with columns like "# Houses Burned" and "Types of Arms Used" and "Army Deployed?" (you would be alarmed by how much of it there is), and this requires reading lots and lots of Indonesian newspaper articles that pertain, even vaguely, to the topic.  The latest one, an argument that these small conflicts are beginning to threaten national security, mentions Sondang Hutagalung, a 22-year-old law student (son of a taxi driver) who self-immolated a few months before his planned graduation in front of the Palace of Independence as part of a campaign against government corruption/graft:

From here (note the picture):
“Time for change, remember Tunisia, dissolve the legislature,” Rakrian Yoga said in his Twitter feed, alluding to the death of Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi from self-immolation, which sparked the Tunisian revolution that led to the ouster of the country’s president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Bung Karno University will grant an honorary bachelor’s degree to him. 

“A number of public figures and organizations suggested granting the honorary bachelor’s degree,” university deputy rector Daniel Panda said on Sunday in Jakarta as quoted by  He added that the granting of the degree should not been taken as encouragement for other students to do the same thing. 

“As an academic, I hope there will be no repeat of such a measure. There are other options. This is a too high a sacrifice.”
I had no idea that such things were happening in Indonesia - it is not a "tradition" here (see here).  We burn buildings and get shot by the military, but political suicide is not a thing.  I suspect the "remember Tunisia" line is key.  You always wonder about precedent though (in May - in an apparently completely unrelated, random incident - a 69-year-old Dutch citizen self-immolated in front of the Dutch embassy in Jakarta, but he apparently thought that the police were in collusion with the Balinese mafia and trying to chase him).  It is interesting also that Sondang was a devout Christian who always accompanied his mother to church.  A couple months later his girlfriend tried to kill herself out of personal grief, by overdosing on anti-malaria pills in front of his grave. 

This song was playing on my iTunes while I was reading about this:

intertribal: (like a thought touching up against a sig)
One of the little joys in my life is staying at other people's houses and reading their books.  For some reason it comes much more easily than reading books I bought for myself - it's like they're just there, free, weightless, "read me or don't read me, I don't care."  It's how I read The Quiet American and The Bell-Jar, and now it's how I've read Revolutionary Road (in the span of three nights) by Richard Yates.

It's the kind of book that I can imagine readers (especially today's readers) picking up, saying, "I hate all the characters, they're all so annoying and unsympathetic," and putting down.*  That's their loss, though.  And yes, everyone is portrayed almost in the worst light possible, which makes the recurring line from The Petrified Forest spoken by the female lead, April, "Wouldn't you like to be loved by me?" all the more ironic.  But they are human beings, and when I described the plot to my mother - "it's about this couple that considers themselves sort of 'above' the 50s, and they're always going on about the 'hopeless emptiness' of suburbia so they have these dreams of moving to Paris but when the wife tries to actually make these dreams reality, so that the husband will have time to 'find himself,' he gets cold feet and starts to be happy about his mundane job because he gets offered a promotion" - she said, "sounds like life."  And those are my favorite kinds of books.  Nobody here is extraordinarily anything, but they are so life-like in their concealed fucked-up-ness that I read compulsively. 

A lot of books try to do similar types of stories with life in suburbia today, but I have found that they usually descend into sentimentality and/or feature "darling" characters who the writer identifies with or, worse, admires, who get elevated treatment of a sort.  The only person in Revolutionary Road who sort of gets spared the quiet handsawing of Richard Yates is Howard Givings, the old husband of the real estate agent who just stays "steady down now" and turns off his hearing aid to drown out the world around him.  A strong sense of fatigue runs through these people, despite (or because of, more likely) their dreams and masks and plays and vestiges - one of the habits we witness from our main character Frank is the constant rehearsal in his head of what he's going to say to April about events still taking place at work in order to make himself sound like the most interesting man she's ever met, or what he's going to say to her to repair damage from a fight, so that you have to read very carefully to figure out if this is a projected future event or current reality - and it's like Howard is just tired of all this.

For me, two things stuck out: how much the 1950s reminded me of Lincoln, Nebraska (and 1950s New York is apparently what girls who go to Barnard still seek), and how great Richard Yates is at structuring plot and character development, and how extremely readable he is without sacrificing depth.  Everything just flowed with the sense of inevitability (and dread), from tense but mundane beginning to horrific end (see Stewart O'Nan's assessment).  I hate to sound so hallmarky, but it is pretty inspirational from a writing standpoint.

I think if I were to pick a song for this book, it would be one that has no sense of the 1950s at all:

* A couple chapters in the main character accuses his wife of acting out something from Madame Bovary, another book that was condemned by many of my AP Lit classmates as having no sympathetic character (as I recall they were happy when Emma finally died, in a "good, bitch is dead" sort of way).
intertribal: (Default)
Last year I read this sweet little article on Jezebel, "How Tragic Kingdom Saved My Life," about the writer's therapeutic "relationship" with the No Doubt album, and I remember thinking, hmm, I'm so obsessed with carving albums up into patchwork playlists (and leave the dregs behind!) that I don't really have any especially meaningful albums.  I think that's started to change a little - I can't imagine carving up The XX (The XX) or Loveless (My Bloody Valentine) because they're like 40-minute songs - and now I have discovered The Birthday Massacre's fourth album, Pins and Needles

The Birthday Massacre is one of my guilty pleasure bands - they're so ridiculously Hot Topic with their Goth!-Alice-in-Wonderland aesthetic that they seem kind of embarrassing for a 24-year-old pre-professional - and I can't say they're musical geniuses by any stretch.  I would not have discovered them had it not been for Pandora, which suggested to me "Lovers' End" and "Happy Birthday" off Violet.  Today Pandora suggested "Two Hearts" off Pins and Needles and I was instantly in love:

Obviously I was particularly drawn to the lyrics: "Two hearts beating, one beats the other while the other just looks away."  Yesterday I admitted in therapy that I'm attracted to people that seem damaged - instead of wholesome, normal, well-adjusted, generally sane, like they could go live in a little box made of ticky-tacky and be satisfied - because I see myself as damaged and dangerous, and at least if they're already messed up, I won't feel so guilty about the inevitable damage I will do.  This is what I was thinking about while dancing (painfully sober) at a bar/club in Farragut North on St. Patrick's Day (the song I declared to be "my song": a techno remix of "Somebody That You Used To Know.").  My friend Alicia was ecstatic as we left because she hadn't gone clubbing in a while - whereas I went to Pure and The Bank in Vegas this past weekend, and besides which I feel no great difference between a silver-glitzy club and a bar with a dance floor, so there is zero novelty for me - and I just ended up feeling claustrophobic and anxious to get home, which is I guess what happens when I go clubbing sober. 

So anyway, Pins and Needles.  Is very listenable, to start with, and has TBM's trademark sound, which I cannot describe as anything other than like, deathpop, although wikipedia calls it synthrock (they say that about almost everything I like, though).  They are named after Clive Barker's Imajica, which tells you something.  They go with Jack Off Jill/Scarling and Kidneythieves in  my head-catalog.  And this album in particular sort of perfectly describes the contrasting elements in my life - the high-pitched pop of everyday tasks and my "upwardly mobile" trajectory and my happenin' friends and contacts, vs. my melancholy, downward-sloping heartbreak.  And the words.  Even the title Pins and Needles pretty much accurately describes my existence. 

From "In The Dark": "I'm in the dark, I'm alone around you.  I've never been here before, nobody here to get me through."

From "Always": "Repeating words until they're true: it slows the breathing.  Pretend they never came from you: it kills the feeling.  I'm not what you want:  you said what I never could."

From "Pale": "I'm looking at a face, a pointed chin towards the sky in arrogance./  Imitation, a fabrication, a pretty fake, but counterfeit, an empty carcass behind the artist, is there a trait of innocence?/ And much to our dismay, they're ignorant.  The more that we make up, the more it fits./  This doesn't feel right, feels like everything's further away.  Dead as the nightlife.  Hindsight, watching another mistake.  We never feel right."

From "Control":  "Two-faced, too poised to shed a tear/ A new trend: indifference."

From "Shallow Grave": "She was always good for nothing when the good broke bad.  All she's got to lose is everything she never has.  Every back turned to her./  She never fooled us because she could never fool herself."

From "Sideways": "How can you criticize when you're not here to compromise?  Words fade as time goes by without you."

From "Midnight": "I can't decide which one of us will leave here alive.  Your fingers breaking as I place them over mine.  The only thing I need is time to change your mind, I said./ I can't decide which one of us is dreaming tonight.  I'm just a shadow in the light you leave behind.  The only thing I need is time to change your mind, I said./  It's always darker at the end of every answer, like a finger down the back of your throat."

From "Pins and Needles": "It's been so long, feels like pins and needles in my heart.  So long, I can feel it tearing me apart./ It's always a nightmare, it's never a dream."

From "Sleepwalking": "Wait, dear, the time is getting late here.  I'm all washed up and graced with feigned applause, dressed in a cheap facade.  I'm looking for a place I'll never see again.  A night turns to a day, a street I've never walked on.  I was never here, just a faint reflection.  A day turns to a month, a second of affection./  Faking, there's nothing here worth taking.  Just my reflection fading on the wall, not the fairest one of all."

From "Secret": "I woke up as I waited.  Bleeding slow, there was no way to make all this blow over, so I started writing the ending.  I said too much.  And you just kept on pretending for both of us.  I could never speak anyway.  What you wanted to hear, I couldn't convey./  All the days that I've counted, you'll never know."

I don't know if Pins and Needles will save my life, but it certainly gives my inner turmoil some voice.  It's alienation in a busy city, it's walking back to the metro at 2 a.m. alone, it's being "pre-professional" at all in this city of berserker networking, it's the pure sadness of unrequited love, it's the chase.
intertribal: (i like it rough)
Katie is my favorite character of the Paranormal Activity franchise.  For a while I had a default icon that was called "because she looks like Katie."  She was the reasonable one (compared to her boyfriend Micah) in PA1, with a delicious darkward turn as she becomes possessed and kills Micah, as if telling him in the most ferocious terms, "see, this is what happens when you don't listen to me, dumbass."  PA2 reveals that she became possessed because her brother-in-law Dan "sicced" the demon on her - it was to save his wife and son, but still - and Dan gets his comeuppance and "Katie" gets "her" revenge when she comes to their big fancy house, demon-possessed, to kill Dan and Kristi (his wife/her sister) and take Hunter (the infant son).  In PA3, Katie is a child who gets dragged (literally) into Kristi's bad-idea-of-the-year "friendship" with the demon - she and Kristi both end up at least somewhat possessed and in the care of their evil witch grandmother Lois*.

I really love PA1, enjoy PA2 mostly for the big "Fuck U" it allows Katie to give, and am not such a fan of PA3.  I think this is because I didn't like the story that the creators (who changed from movie to movie) eventually laid out to explain what happened in PA1.  Witchcraft - especially of the matriarchal "coven" variety - in horror always sets off an alarm in my head: "this is a women-are-evil story."  That's accentuated in the Paranormal Activity franchise by the special importance given to the firstborn son, who everyone will go to extreme lengths to protect and who is apparently Blue Moon rare (girls in this family are basically throw-aways, especially if they can't be broodmares).  By contrast, Katie is sacrificed by her brother-in-law because she's nothing to him - she is an expendable, mother to no one.  Dan's teenaged daughter from a previous relationship, Ali, is the only one who says "hey, this isn't fair to Katie," and Ali is also safely tucked away on a field trip during Katie's rampage.  And while I liked the potential that Paranormal Activity had to be Katie's Good Girl Gone Bad (kind of Laura Palmer in reverse) story - even if witchcraft and a special son had to be involved - PA2 and especially PA3 show that there's nothing unique about Katie.  The same thing happens to her sister.  They get possessed and go bad because they're women (and I will note that the possession scenes always read very "rape-y" to me), the end. 

There's a perspective shift too.  In PA1, Katie and Micah are both leads, and you're in each of their headspaces; because the "paranormal activity" revolves around Katie and she's an adult, she might be more the main character than Micah.  PA2 is very decentralized - it's also very shallow in the sense that it's in no one's head in particular, and all the characters are ciphers.  In PA3, the boyfriend of Katie and Kristi's mother, Dennis, is the lead.  Katie and Kristi are children and not especially emotive ones, and their mother Julie is a non-entity.  The next closest thing to a character in PA3 is Dennis's male videography buddy.  It's interesting that in PA3 Katie and Kristi are basically there to be "creepy little girls" with incomprehensibly creepy behavior - "little girls are creepy," as my roommate says - whereas there's nothing creepy about Hunter, the baby boy in PA2, and the audience is simply meant to feel protective of him ("that poor baby boy," etc.).  PA1 sets itself apart from its sequels because we actually get to be in the headspace of the eventual-possessee, to see her as a three-dimensional human being instead of just a "creepy little girl" or a blank mother-type placeholder (in Kristi's case - who is Kristi?  God knows!). 

Men are do-ers in the Paranormal Activity franchise.  Micah is dense and foolish, but he is the macho take-charge investigator - and this trait of his is sort of mocked in PA1 as Micah bombastically insists that "no one comes into my house and fucks with my girlfriend" and Katie's just like, "you don't have power here" (his defensive reply is something along the lines of "don't tell me I have no power").  In PA2, Ali is the investigator, but she's not an actor, and she apparently wields zero influence over any other character, making her relevant only as an info-dumper.  Dan, the brother-in-law, is the only actor, and shows piss-poor decision-making - firing the maid for saging the house, ignoring video footage that he himself arranged, and ultimately transferring the demon to Katie.  Dan is actually absent during most of the movie (when the women of the house are being afflicted with paranormal activity), and it falls on him to make up for his failure to be the responsible man of the house by saving Kristi and Hunter and sacrificing Katie to the darkness.  Dennis, Katie and Kristi's would-be-dad, is neither a dolt nor an asshole, and is more of a protector for Katie and Kristi than their own mother.  He's heroic and self-sacrificing, a sensible investigator, and the good-guy foil to the human villain, the evil grandmother (there are no human villains in PA1 or PA2, and I think this does change the dynamic of a horror story - just ask Stephen King).  And of course then there's the biggest do-er of them all: the demon.  With all the marriage talk in PA3, the demon is definitely male.  But whereas the human men of Paranormal Activity all (arguably) mean well as they try to fix this situation that their women thrust them into, the human women are either corruptible to the extreme or just irrelevant, and in all cases unable to even try to protect themselves or their loved ones.  Their bodies are the battlefield for the war/pissing contest between the human men and the male demon. 

The demon always wins, and it's through the demon that the human men are killed by the women in their lives.  The visual effect is different, though: on screen, it's psycho bitches on the loose (with the only really affecting death, at least for me, being Micah's at the hands of "Katie").  It's too bad that Katie's actions at the end of PA2 probably aren't Katie's at all.  I would have preferred her to be taking revenge on Dan and Kristi - if only subconsciously, if only with the last smidgen of Katie that still existed within the bloody Katie-shell - but it was probably just the demon being demonic en route to obtaining that precious little boy. 

"Jennifer's Body" - Hole
"Arsenal" - Kidneythieves
"Climbing Up The Walls (Radiohead cover)" - Sarah Slean
"Behind Blue Eyes (The Who cover)" - Sheryl Crow

*: Fun fact - Lois is my maternal grandmother's name!  This is why one of my middle names is Louise.  Because my mother didn't like the sound of "Nadia Lois."  WITCH! 
intertribal: (i want love)
Fata Morganas (responsible for "The Flying Dutchman," UFOs, etc., named for Morgan Le Fay): "Fata Morgana mirages tremendously distort the object or objects which they are based on, such that the object often appears to be very unusual, and may even be transformed in such a way that it is completely unrecognizable."

For example:
In 1818, Sir John Ross was on a voyage which was an attempt to discover the long-sought-after Northwest Passage. Ross's ship reached Lancaster Sound in Canada. The Northwest Passage was straight ahead, but John Ross did not go in that direction because he saw, or thought he saw, in the distance, a land mass with mountains, which he believed made going any further simply impossible. He named the mountain range of this supposed land mass "Crocker Mountains". He gave up and returned to England, despite the protests of several of his officers, including First Mate William Edward Parry and Edward Sabine.  The account of his voyage, published a year later, brought to light their disagreement, and the ensuing controversy over the existence of Crocker Mountains ruined his reputation. Just a year later William Edward Parry was able to sail further west, through those non-existent mountains.

Ross's second mistake was to name the apparent mountain range after the First Secretary of the Admiralty. Naming what was in fact a mirage after such a high official cost Sir John Ross dearly: he was refused ship and money for his subsequent expeditions, and was forced to use private funding instead.

By an odd coincidence, during a 1906 expedition 88 years after Ross's expedition, Robert Peary gave the name Crocker Land to a land mass which he believed he saw in the distance, northwest from the highest point of Cape Thomas Hubbard, which is situated in what is now the northern Canadian territory of Nunavut. Peary named the apparent land mass after the late George Crocker of the Peary Arctic Club. Peary estimated the landmass to be 130 miles away, at about 83 degrees N, longitude 100 degrees W.

In 1913, Donald Baxter MacMillan organised the Crocker Land Expedition which set out to reach and explore Crocker Land. On 21 April the members of the expedition saw what appeared to be a huge island on the north-western horizon. As MacMillan later said, "Hills, valleys, snow-capped peaks extending through at least one hundred and twenty degrees of the horizon.”

Piugaattoq, a member of the expedition and a Inuit hunter with 20 years of experience of the area, explained that this was just an illusion. He called it "poo-jok", which means mist. However MacMillan insisted that they press on, despite the fact that it was late in the season and the sea-ice was breaking up. For five days they went on, following the mirage, until on 27 April, having covered some 125 miles (201 km) of dangerous sea-ice, MacMillan was forced to admit that Piugaattoq was right. Crocker Land was in fact a mirage, probably a Fata Morgana.

Song for tonight (for the line "I still dream of Dad.  Though he died."  Although today I was dreaming mostly about Silent Hill and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, of all fucked up combinations):

intertribal: (can we forget about the things i said)
I published two stories this year that were "the kind of thing I want to write," by which I mean, more in line with my mission of being informed by socio-political concerns: "Princess Courage" at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and "Absolute Zero," in Creature!  Thirty Years of Monsters (reprinted in Fantasy).  Francesca, thank you for your thoughtful emails.  I'm just very bad with emails, and online communication in general, these days.  If I see that an email is not related to work or school, it goes way on the back burner.  I did really try to make "Princess Courage" not about "imperialists = bad," although of course I do think imperialism is a scourge upon the earth.  Reading Charles Glass's interview/list of books about Americans abroad yields this wonderful-yet-simplistic truism:
So what is the fundamental error of colonialism?

That’s another subject and not really literary but I suppose its fundamental flaw lies in telling other people what to do in their own countries.

When I was writing "Princess Courage" I had a whole playlist called "Current Story 2" that I never got a chance to share - I'd like to do so now.  Here are the songs, in actual order (I don't think the zip file put them in order, because it's awesome/I can't be bothered to figure out how to fix this):
  • "Das Tor" - Faun
  • "Proven Lands" - Johnny Greenwood (There Will Be Blood OST)
  • "Runes and Men" - Death in June
  • "Lament for the Wild Geese" - Cruachan
  • "Death and All His Friends" - Coldplay
  • "Violet" - Hole
  • "The Quest I" - Tomandandy (The Hills Have Eyes OST)
  • "Scar" - Bear McCreary (Battlestar Galactica OST)
  • "Yesterday's Hymn" - Queen Adreena
  • "Low Five" - Sneaker Pimps
  • "Take Your Time" - Low
  • "Horrorshow" - Bat for Lashes
I didn't make a playlist for "Absolute Zero."  But this is the song that I quote in the beginning:

In the interview that I did for "Absolute Zero," I mentioned something about being biracial, I believe, contributing to how I wrote this story.  I totally stand by that, and this song reinforces that.  Of course I don't want to imply anything so pathetic as one-of-these-cultures-is-monstrous (jesus christ), but the sense of belonging/un-belonging, the where-the-fuck-did-I-come-from, the hiding in plain sight in Nebraska, the if-I-join-your-kingdom-can-I-feel-less-bad... that's all there.

There is also a playlist for "Current Story (1)" as well - that story is "Endless Life," which I recently sold to Laird Barron at the new mag Phantasmagorium (huzzah).  I'm doing edits for that beast now.  Just like "Absolute Zero" was inspired by mishearing a terrible SyFy movie, Carny (yes, really), "Endless Life" was inspired by the rather terrible SyFy program Ghost Hunters International - specifically, the one where they go to South America in search of Hitler's ghost.  A lot of my stories seem to be an attempt to explain/extrapolate from some absurdity on SyFy.  "Endless Life" has a fantastically appropriate playlist, if I may say so myself - either that, or I have creepy/disturbing/sad taste in music.  These are probably the most appropriate songs off that playlist:
  • "Now Now" - St. Vincent
  • "If I Had A  Heart" - Fever Ray
  • "When I Am Queen" - Jack Off Jill
  • "Bela Lugosi's Dead (Bauhaus cover)" - Nouvelle Vague
"Endless Life" is kind of set within the same world as "Intertropical Convergence Zone" and "Red Goat Black Goat," even though those two are much more obviously set in Indonesia and refer - in passing, in the case of the latter - to Suharto's regime.  "Endless Life" isn't really identifiably Indonesia, and I name that General, but it does fit into the whole critique of authoritarianism. 

Speaking of Indonesia, I'm working on a new novel (yeah...) about a group of young Indonesianists called The Crew.  Trying not to put too much pressure on myself to make it perfect this first time around.  Trying not to falter under the weight of my own expectations.
intertribal: (can we forget about the things i said)
My experiment with Mad Men is now over - it just got too depressing for me.  I have started devoting my couple hours of free time between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. (seriously) to Nip/Tuck, which so far I'm enjoying a lot more.  It's interesting, because they're ostensibly very similar shows - main characters are male professionals, there's a lot of emphasis on objectifying the female form and shallow facades (advertising, plastic surgery) - but whereas my reaction to Mad Men was "oh my God, I hate you all," my reaction to Nip/Tuck is "yeah, that's pretty much the way it is," and even though neither Troy and McNamara are anyone I want to know, I give them more leeway than I do anybody in Sterling Cooper.  I think it's a generational thing, though.  Like, which set of men and women are we taught to consider normal, or something like that.  Once again, I don't really like anyone (but ugh to McNamara's teenage son in particular), although I do have a strange fondness for Kimber and Julia.

I must say that I also enjoy the insanity and grotesqueness of Nip/Tuck.  And the music.  This is the full-length version of the opening theme - unsurprisingly, there's a ton of thinspo videos set to this song, but there's also a bunch of thinspo shit set to Radiohead's "Creep" and Fiona Apple's "Paper Bag," so whatever.  It makes me think of... well, grad school, but life in general if you're living in Go Getter World.  And I realize now that I am back in that world, and deeper in than I was as an undergrad because the emphasis now really is on becoming a full-grown yuppie, not just getting hot drunken pictures of yourself on Facebook (which is, I think, what it was in undergrad).  I kind of consider myself lucky that I fell into this job, even though I hate it and am fairly bad at it, because it hooks me up to the two professors who can connect me to anything/anyone in the very narrow field that I want to enter.  Hilariously I apparently decided to wed myself to this field in a matter of, oh, a month.  But I've sworn off government work as an option, so there you go.  I am left with think tanks.  I think I'm just kind of like, "okay, fuck it, Southeast Asia politics it is, fuckin' good enough."  My point is I don't necessarily feel like I have to struggle as hard as other people I know who are just starting to feel out a direction.  Of course, there is more to life in Go Getter World than having a well-connected job, as we all know, and I still feel pressure - "perfect soul, perfect mind, perfect face" - like whoa. 

Added: I think this pressure is also there for men in the grad program - obviously.  But it is different for women.  It's like we have to impress fucking everyone, all the time.

Also: It reminds me of whenever I'm asked "where else did you apply?" and I say that I chose AU over George Washington.  Even AU people don't get why I would, sometimes - why wouldn't you go for the better name, regardless of anything else?  And when I explain that GW didn't click with me, and AU did, I tend to get blank stares.  I usually have to add "well, AU is giving me way more money than GW would have..." before I get the "oh" of understanding.

intertribal: (aviatrix)

Yeah, so apparently the Gregory Brothers have been doing this for a long while (auto-tuning the news), but the Atlantic Wire just clued me in today.  These two are my favorites of the batch (watch them in order).  The first one was actually made in 2009, so it's just coincidence that Bachmann is front and center.  And you can never go wrong with turtles.
intertribal: (pro nails)
My story "Princess Courage" will live at Beneath Ceaseless Skies!  I've known about this for a while (there have been revision requests...) but I wanted to wait until Scott Andrews put it on his latest Recent Acceptances post, because that's when it felt official.  This is the story I mentioned in this post with "White Wedding" and all.  I'm a fan of BCS and rarely write stories that would fit their parameters, so it's exciting.  "Princess Courage" was inspired by my recent contrarian reading of Lord of the Rings and ended up becoming kind of like that movie W. except for William McKinley and except not in our world.

Here are two more songs used in the writing of this story - both by Hole.  As they contributed to the story they're less about gender and more about power in general (in particular invasion/colonialism and leadership/hero worship, but I see that in everything).

You should learn when to go
You should learn how to say no!
When they get what they want, they never want it again
I told you from the start just how this would end
When I get what I want, I never want it again


I'm Miss World, somebody kill me
I'm Miss World, watch me break and watch me burn
No one is listening, my friends
I made my bed, I'll lie in it
I made my bed, I'll die in it

intertribal: (pro nails)

It started with "Not In Love," and it grew all the way to 60 songs.  I have no idea if any of them fit the creators' very particular aesthetic, but they're songs that I either associate with the entire cast (like "Wife By Two Thousand," "Little By Little," "Love Will Tear Us Apart," or indeed, "Not In Love") or with a particular character.  Some are sort of "crack" songs (like "Telephone" and "Tainted Love"), but most are "serious."  I tried to give all major characters at least one song, but I know I'm missing some people (sorry Pete Martell and Andy) and I gave my favorite characters extra attention (hence why there is so much Shelly/Bobby and Audrey). 

The mix is divided into three parts: Welcome To Twin Peaks (general overview/character intros), A Strange and Difficult Path (secrets and complications), and The Gifted and the Damned (the BOB/Black Lodge mythos).  The music is sort of... rock/electronica?  I'm very bad at describing and categorizing music, so I have no idea - I just really like all the songs, obviously, and my taste is pretty consistent these days, so chances are you'll be able to tell if you'll like the mix based on the artists.  If in doubt though, you can either take a gamble or look the song up on YouTube.  I chose NOT to provide YouTube links for 60 songs, I'm afraid.  Links should connect correctly, but if not, this is the Twin Peaks folder on my MediaFire. 

Some additional notes: I deliberately put Mrs. Tremond's grandson and "Horror Show" at the end of A Strange and Difficult Path, to illustrate what the Lodge's inhabitants might think of the preceding human problems.  On "Strange Hours," I'm not implying that Laura's killer sacrificed her, but that she sacrificed herself "for the purity of all mankind."  Yes, I used "Dai the Flu" for Bobby and his father, because of the whole "now I know you love me/ thank god you love at all" part.  "Caribou" is basically just there to represent the French-speaking characters and because it sounds like a One-Eyed Jack's song.  I guess I think Hawk is a "Friend of the Night"?  That one's more about the feel of the music.  Hawk is awesome beyond words after all.  And yeah, "Coconut" is just too obvious for Dr. Jacoby, I don't even care. 

And for those of you who disable LJ-cuts, uh, I'm sorry.

Freshly Squeezed )
intertribal: (book of black valentines)
The Gmail "call phone" function (the little green phone under Chat) has given me helpful tip today: "Reminder: Call dad."

I interpret this to mean "Reminder: Buy ouija board" or "Remember: Call medium" or "Remember: Hold seance."  This in turn is called humor to deflect pain.  It reminds me of that begging-for-donations letter from my alma mater around Mother's Day talking about how important our mothers were to us, how she was the woman that inspired us to go to this college - this wasn't true for me, but how much less true would it be for people who never knew their mothers? 

Ironically, Father's Day wasn't a thing for me when my father was alive (because it isn't a thing in Indonesia).

So, this is my Father's Day song:

intertribal: (Default)
I feel like I haven't been to LJ in a while, but that isn't really true.

Dude I'm dating came back from Morocco recently - said there were some nice scenes of police beating protesters because they didn't have the proper permit to protest, of course.  Also, there's a large, beautiful mosque in Casablanca that is built on artificial land on top of the Atlantic - it's architect didn't take into account that the Atlantic will someday come back and bite that artificial land in the butt, eventually sinking the mosque.  It also cost the country a lot of money and displaced a bunch of poor people without compensation.  He also tried to climb this mountain, but failed.

Saw X-Men, don't have anything to say about it beyond what I told [ profile] cafenowhere (Leland Palmer as Dean Rusk?).  Yesterday I watched an interesting little extremely low-budget horror movie on Netflix called The Ceremony (don't ask me what's up with that cover), about a guy graduating college who finds that his roommate has left behind an odd little book surrounded by a ring of burning candles.  Being concerned about fire safety, the main character blows the candles out, and being a curious student, starts reading the book, which turns out to be a history of a ritual used to summon Satan, here "the man in the white suit."  Of course he reads some unfortunate parts aloud and things start happening around the house, culminating in a phone conversation where he tells a friend, "The furniture, it came alive.  It had to be contained."  It takes its cues from Paranormal Activity and had some interesting touches, particularly when the main character learns to his horror that he can understand as well as speak the language being spoken by the presence in his house.  It's creepy, it has a cast of essentially one person, and it's well-made on a shoestring budget.  Good job, director James Palmer.  Horror fans, check check it.

I've been putting all my writing efforts into the novel, which is now at 77,000 words.  Unfortunately, it's nowhere near finished, so looks like I'll be overshooting that 100,000 word goal.  This is how it's getting done: I made an extremely detailed outline of 10,000 words, and I'm writing it scene by scene, often out of order.  I do foresee problems with flow and continuity and a believable evolution of characters, doing it this way, but at least it's getting done this way, right?  I'm going to quit my job in July to devote the rest of the summer to writing this thing before I move to D.C. to start graduate school. 

Had a David Lynch moment today while driving to work.  We've had construction in the left lane of this one big swerving road for a month now, so all the regular commuters automatically drive in the right lane even before we're told to merge right.  But today there was a new big flashing construction sign telling cars that the right lane would be closed up ahead, so go into the left lane.  Everybody's like, wow, maybe they finished the left lane and are starting work on the right lane?  And after about a mile of driving in the left lane, with no sign of construction on the right, the old familiar big flashing sign pops up telling cars that the left lane was closed, so we all scoot back over to where we started.  Calisthenics for cars, I guess.  Speaking of David Lynch, I'm trying to convert my mom to Twin Peaks.  It's going... interestingly.  One of my tactics is comparing it to our favorite shared show, the British cozy-mystery series Midsomer Murders.  They both feature a gamut of weird people in seemingly-innocuous, scenic small towns, grisly murders, and supernatural undertones.  If you're unfamiliar with MM, I've always thought it was what Hot Fuzz was tipping its hat to.  MM is also one of the few TV shows to ever make me cry (in the episode "Green Man," which is very environmentalist).  Someday I'll do an ode to my favorite MM episodes, cuz it's a wonderful show.

I'm almost done with Alan Heathcock's Volt (one more story to read).  Also almost done with Godforsaken Lord of the Rings (two more chapters).  

Here's an acoustic version of Korn's "Freak on a Leash," with Evanescence's Amy Lee.  Shut up, I don't shop at Hot Topic!  Also, Evanescence did a cover of "Thoughtless" that I like, but a lot of Korn fans are all "what the fuck this song has to be full of AGGRESSION and RAGE D:<" and I'm like, whatever.  

intertribal: (Default)
In honor of the short story I just submitted that I'm crossing my fingers for, here's a song I started to associate it for God only knows what reason (probably because I am weird).  Sadly, the only wedding in my story appears off-screen, there are no motorcycles, and no leather.  Oh well.  You can never have too much of the '80s, right?  Don't answer that.

My actual "soundtrack" was a combination of The Hills Have Eyes music (by Tomandandy), like such, and "Proven Lands" off There Will Be Blood (by Jonny Greenwood).  I'm really obsessed with "Proven Lands."  It's like the music of capitalism. 

This song actually fits the story better in theme and atmosphere and such - "Das Tor" by Faun.  I actually didn't look up the translated lyrics until now - I just felt that the song worked with the story: "And when the night is at its darkest, then we shall look at each other, and laugh and laugh and laugh doing so, then we shall look at each other.  And then shall be a meadow with many-coloured flowers.  I shall give you a flower and you shall give me one.  And then we shall run, run through the gate, through the gate to the eternal day, to the eternal day.  I shall give you my hand and you shall hand me yours.  The night, it shall be no more, only a meadow with flowers." 

You have to listen to it to feel how... unreal and dreamlike all this is, or how unworldly.  Like this is a vision that will not be achieved on the earthly plane, or is a pre-death hallucination, or something. 

All this makes the story sound like a romance, but it's not one in any conventional sense.  
intertribal: (book of black valentines)
1.  My mother and I are going through the basement.  She finds a manila envelope stuffed with old pictures from the 1940s-1960s of her nuclear family growing up.  The ones from the 1950s really do make them look like a "perfect American family" - tight-lipped but proud father, demure homemaker mother, and the older brother (my uncle) looks like he could be an athlete of some kind, tall with a crew cut and good-looking enough, and the younger sister (my mother) looks like a cute sunny little blonde girl with her hair in a ponytail.  It changes, though.  My uncle goes to college, becomes scrawny and awkward-looking in his journey toward becoming an English professor, and marries a homely blonde girl who looks too young to be pregnant in the late 1960s and he will eventually divorce when she gains too much weight.  My mother has an awkward period in middle school but she's really pretty around the time she's graduating high school, 1965.  She's got long dark hair that she's ironed straight and she's got this open, intelligent-looking face, like she's always thinking about something beyond the picture being taken.  Sort of a Colleen Corby type.  This is the time when she discovered atheism, tried to dismantle the pep club despite being its president, and decided to go to a hippie college (Antioch).  As I'm admiring one of the pictures, she points to the dress she's wearing and says, "That yellow dress.  That's what I wore when I did this pageant thing."  I'm all, "A pageant?" and she's like, "Yeah, I stood up there and sang a Bob Dylan song and played my guitar.  'The Times They Are A-Changin'', I think."

2.  After a dinner I spend quizzing her about my dad's political beliefs, my mother gives me a copy of my dad's political science dissertation.  She pulls out an entire magazine file.  The papers are wrapped in plastic, but this isn't a bound copy.  I'm like, "That whole thing?"  Yep.  It's 700 pages.  700 pages.  My mother's never read it, and she doesn't even know she's in the acknowledgments until I read it to her - "my friends at Cornell University, especially" (my mother).  It was submitted in 1983, so they were already in a relationship.  The dissertation is called State and Society: Indonesian Politics Under the New Order (1966-1978).  The theory among my dad's family and my mother is that he got the Fulbright to go to the U.S. because he was involved in student activism in the 1970s and dating a disapproving military leader's daughter, and "they" wanted to get rid of him.  God knows, though - that's how the mythology goes, anyway.  I'm reading the introduction and holy crap, it is dense.  It's an incredible contrast to the Educational Administration dissertations I edit in my job, which are mind-numbingly boring and obvious and simple - I can't help but think my dad's dissertation could stand to be a little more understandable, maybe written a little more naturally, because as it is I have difficulty keeping all the concepts straight, and this is the introduction.  But I will do my best.  I remember trying to read this in high school and just giving up because I didn't understand the words, pretty much.  Now I know the political science terminology, and I have at least heard of the people he's talking about, so I have a better shot.  The dedication page reads:
To those who suffer in
their struggle to reduce
human misery
3.  Back in the basement, my mother is going through a stack of books, some of which are ours, some of which came from God Knows Where.  She picks up a big red hardcover and says incredulously, "A hymnal?"  Incredulous because she's still an atheist.  I'm like, "Oh, I might want it," because I was just looking through online copies of The Lutheran Hymnal the other day for use in my novel, and my mother's all my-kid's-weird-but-whatever, and I say, "What religion?" and she says, "Lutheran."  So of course I start screaming "YES!" ecstatically, and my mother realizes it's for the novel and then we're both laughing in triumph.
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