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: (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: (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: (girl you talk too much / shut up)
Yes, it's two horror movie reviews!  Not very extensive ones, I'm afraid, but still!

Don't you just hate those movies where dumb Americans go off to some far-off foreign locale and end up getting sacrificed by some deceitful Paganistic locals to some dark and primitive nether-god?  So do I!  And so does The Shrine.  I thought The Shrine was going to be one of those movies until about the 2/3 point, and I kept watching anyway because the acting is decent for a shallow little horror movie and I was curious, despite my distaste for the set-up, about the eventual reveal.  But surprise!  Things are not what you would expect them to be. 

Now none of this is going to change your life.  It's not Candyman or Japanese or anything.  It would be a great entry in the After Dark Horror Fest or a great episode of Masters of Horror or Fear Itself, if those shows were still alive.  A neat little short story.  A worthy contribution to horror as fun schlock.

Absentia is a strange beast, completely lacking in horror movie context and almost directionless.  The characters and setting are great, and refreshing for horror - two young adult sisters (one a former drug addict and one pregnant) just muddling through life in working class California.  Nothing glamorous.  The pregnant one has a husband who's been missing for seven years, and is declaring him dead in absentia.  She's also having horrible "lucid dreams" about him.  The former drug addict has now found Jesus.  You think it's setting up to be a demonic possession type thing.  It's not.  Really, really not.

This one feels much less put together than The Shrine.  It is flawed.  And considering what it turns out to be about - the tone is bizarre, subdued and unsettling and sad, something more befitting a ghost story perhaps.  But I feel like Absentia is both going for and accomplishes more, emotionally/intellectually, than The Shrine.  Probably because I am a sucker for horror movies that try to be artsy and sensitive.  But there really is something here, particularly about the rationalizations we tell ourselves about people that go missing. 

Both on Netflix Watch Instantly. 
intertribal: (Default)
1. Money first.  Dreams later.  The Dark God of Capitalism, etc., The Unnameable Slithering Horror, is actually not the worst fate for Southeast Asia after all.
2.  I am exactly like my father, temperament-wise, hence my impatience with incompetence.  Uh-oh.
3.  Cities need effective mass public transportation.  Especially poor ones.
4.  Moderate Islam is in the fight of its life.  I don't want to sound hysterical but the situation is much more dire than I think outsiders know - not in terms of the effects on the amorphous "war on terror" but in terms of the survival of the affected nations/states. 
5.  I need to grow up.  I need to settle down.  I need to stop comparing myself to others and be honest with myself about what I need, not what others think I need. 
6.  Everybody wants to be Korean.
7.  I am actually pretty good at killing mosquitoes.
8.  Typing without an a key is hard.
intertribal: (luna)
My two library books are due tomorrow and can't be renewed again for whatever reason, so I just spent the last three and a half hours finishing them: The Priest by Thomas Disch, and Tik-Tok by John Sladek.  Both turned out to be pretty weird books, in different ways.

I've been wanting to read Disch for a while because he seemed like an interesting guy, but I only picked this book because the library had nothing else by him (I was looking for The Genocides).  The Priest is about - I guess - Father Patrick Bryce, a priest who also happens to be an alcoholic with a fondness for teen boys.  He's not the most likable dude, but he's also not the least likable dude.  The really bad guys are Nazi-homages, unfortunately, obsessed with a German saint and with holding young pregnant women hostage in a grotesque shrine to keep them from having abortions.  Father Bryce is blackmailed by a whole number of people and suffers strange flashbacks to the Dark Ages, where he's a nasty Inquisition-supervising bishop named Silvanus.  I enjoyed some of the writing and the complexity promised by the plot, but my interest/enthusiasm waned.  I'm not sure why.  I didn't get how all of it was going to tie together, and I disliked everyone.  A lot of the content just tasted like vomit - noxious people, medieval torture, catacomb prisons, murder, Satan tattoos.  And unfortunately, as the plot clumsily wraps up it starts feeling more like The Da Vinci Code.  I was okay "spending time with" Father Bryce - he was a well-grounded, complicated character who I felt bad for - but then the reader is splitting time between him and Silvanus, who's just ick, and then with a bunch of other characters who become "action heroes" out of nowhere.  I'm like, "Wait, where the fuck is Father Bryce?  Oh yeah, still trapped in the Dark Ages.  Damn it!"  I am perfectly willing to concede that I was not the right audience for this book, because I can't say that I "got it," and my feelings toward it are very... meh.  I kept forgetting who the hell all these damn people were and all the horrible things they'd gotten away with and how they knew each other.  What may stop me from trying more Disch, though, is the dialogue.  Oh man.  All his characters sound the same, and none of them sound like people.  It's surprising in a book that is otherwise competently written.  You've got a 12-year-old girl sounding the same as a middle-aged male priest - and this is a Just No for me. 

Tik-Tok I wanted to read because of the premise: in the foreseeable future, the incredibly misanthropic and cunning robot Tik-Tok goes from being a servant of various bizarre households to an acclaimed painter to a healthcare CEO to Vice Presidential candidate - killing humans as the whim strikes him on the one hand and playing to whatever vision of robot-hood humans want from him on the other.  I loved this book.  It reminded me of darling Catch-22, which I incidentally thought was science fiction the first time I read a snippet of it.  Sladek clearly had a blast creating an absurd vision of the future - starting with Ridiculous and Bad Situation 1 and just making it worse and worse.  But Tik-Tok doesn't go down like vomit, because it's very funny (to me, anyway) and it doesn't waste time getting you to care about anyone.  Children, pets, love interests - forget it.  They'll probably all end up in the grinder.  This is one of my favorite passages (it reminded me of the Canadian pipeline project currently being pushed through Nebraska):
The USS Leviathan would not be anything like an ordinary carrier.  It would be a monster platform, some fifty miles across and equal in area to the state of Delaware.  It would launch both missiles and planes of all types, and it would be capable of fast movement around the countryside.  

In the first design, Leviathan was to run on wheels, thus promoting the interests of a large rubber company.  But the number of tires required turned out to be 135 million, plus spares (a tire change would be needed every hundred yards).  Unless a complete rubber factory were taken on board - one of the alternative suggestions - the entire ship would have to hover.  Grumbling, the rubber company settled for a contract to provide the giant hovercraft skirt required.

Both houses of Congress shoved through the necessary legislation.  There were objections that Leviathan would cost too much, would be a sitting duck, would devastate any land over which it happened to hover.  But by now the Army wanted it as badly as any of the dozens of states, thousands of companies and millions of workers.  The combined force of industrial, political, military and commercial arguments rolled the project over all opposition as one day Leviathan itself would crush down anything in its path.  One junior Senator who continued to oppose it was sent on a fact-finding mission to Antarctica while the bill was railroaded through.

From the start, there were problems called "teething troubles".  The fans which were to lift the craft were at first too weak, then (redesigned) so powerful that they blew away the topsoil for miles around the craft, created dust storms and buried small towns in soildrifts.  A computer company suggested expensive monitoring equipment to regulate each fan, but this never seemed to solve the topsoil problem.  A chemical firm then went to work on a binding agent to hold the topsoil in place; Leviathan would spray the stuff out before moving.  After months of experimentation with expensive agents, they found the best to be ordinary water.  The Leviathan was now redesigned to accommodate huge water tanks holding whole lakefuls of water.  Even so, it would never be able to stray more than fifty miles from a major water source (though thousand-mile flexible pipelines were considered).  
The truth is, I was interested in Tik-Tok because the whole robot-slaves-in-a-human-world thing seemed like it might strike the same chords as my novel, and it sort of did - Tik-Tok himself is a lot like my character, Peter, just way over the top, and at one point the political group American People First comes up with a Keep America Human slogan, much like my disenfranchised villagers come up with Keep Junction Human (I kid you not - I cracked up when I read it).  So I felt real conceptual kinship with this book, even though my novel isn't satirical, and was sad to see it end.  I'll definitely read more Sladek.

But apparently fans of The Priest find it hilarious and ironic, so maybe what all this means is that humor is subjective. I think I felt like The Priest didn't go far enough for it to really be funny to me, whereas Tik-Tok functioned entirely in the realm of the absurd. 
intertribal: (black tambourine)
Okay, laughing a bit at all the people vigorously claiming that AMC's The Killing isn't a Twin Peaks rip-off.  Granted, it's a remake of a Danish show that I haven't seen, so either the Danish show is ripping off Twin Peaks and the American show is ripping off a rip off, or the American show is ripping off Twin Peaks all by itself.  Yes, there's the ridiculously ripped-off tagline, but the point of no return for me was the scene where the dead girl's father finds out that his daughter is dead while he's on the phone with his wife, who's at home in the kitchen.  It is sad and dramatic (the dad does the whole Mystic River thing, the mother is screaming at home).  But it felt so very "done before" to me because, look:

That scene (with Grace Zabriskie as the mother) was sort of the defining moment in Twin Peaks' pilot, and I could not believe that The Killing did something so similar.

So when I read reviews like "What really stands out for me, in this age of cookie-cutter procedurals, is how The Killing dramatizes the devastation a violent death has on a family, a community, on the people involved in the investigation" and "not as much about a young girl's murder as it is a psychological study of what happens afterward, how a tight-knit community tries to recover and how a dead child's mother, father and siblings learn to deal with their pain in their own private ways" my reaction is, have you seen Twin Peaks?  I get that two shows can be aiming to do something similar but not only is the approach the same, it's practically the same dead water-logged high school girl, secret life and flings with the town's most powerful grown men and BFF and inconstant boyfriend and all.  But no demon.  Which is a shame.

Cuz it's the tone of The Killing that really sets it apart from Twin Peaks.  It's basically Twin Peaks minus the humor and minus the supernatural.  It's all grim, all the time, with no moments of insanity or absurdity.  I do like the lead actress and the subversive undercover cop (the closest thing this show has to a break from the mundane, grim norm), and it's certainly not bad in any technical way, but it's nothing special.  Twin Peaks is special, and it's actually its particular supernatural trappings that make it so.  Randomly inserting people that happen to be vampires and werewolves clearly does nothing for a show; what I mean by supernatural trappings is Twin Peaks' embrace of the truly not-natural and not-normal and not-scientifically-objective, the "half light" in between spaces and times and states of consciousness/rationality, if you will.  And that stuff is not uniformly anything.  It's definitely not uniformly gloomy.  Like the dreams and the death omens and love and unusual ways of grieving and people who talk to inanimate objects and fish-coffee and secret government projects and inhabiting spirits all that "other" crap that's a part of human experience and human understanding.  Watching Twin Peaks was like finding a kindred spirit, for me.

On the other hand, I was watching Luther the other day - a BBC show with only six episodes in its first season - and while it doesn't have the same sort of prestige touch as The Killing and has been received poorly by the British press, it's the more interesting crime show IMO.  For one, it has Idris Elba as the lead (and yes, this is the main reason I started watching).  For two, it has a serial killer named Alice Morgan who's the self-described matter-destroying black hole to Elba's bright sun.  She kills her parents in the first episode but because there's no proof she's free to go, and she's like this recurring narcissistic ghoul that sort of tries to help Idris Elba's character resolve his personal problems but goes about everything very badly - Alice is great.  My favorite episode was the fourth, and actually it wasn't either of them that made that episode - it was Nicola Walker, who played the wife of a man she thinks is a recovering small-time crook but is actually a serial killer.  The scene where she finds out what her husband's done in a police investigation room is great in a way that Grace Zabriskie's Twin Peaks scene is great, though of course with very different emotions on display.  And Nicola Walker's ending... well, you can see what she does in this fanvid, although it doesn't do her justice.  She was a great emotional pivot.
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.
intertribal: (Default)
The happy news is that I am definitely in a reading mood, for the first true time since like... I don't know when.  A very long time ago.  Middle school or something.  My first Amazon batch of this new euphoric period - Pym and Volt - arrived a couple weeks ago, and I haven't gotten the chance to read them because I've been finishing up Hostage to the Devil, by Malachi Martin.  [ETA: I got this book on [ profile] handful_ofdust's recommendation - thank you!]  It's a book about exorcism.  Martin was a theologian and Catholic priest, and the bulk of the book consists of 5 case studies of Americans in the 1960s-1970s who underwent the rite of exorcism - each time with a bonafide Catholic priest, not somebody called in by Lorraine Warren.  It's non-fiction. 

Each case study spends a lot of time developing a nuanced, multi-decade view of the exorcist and the victim of possession, because in this book, that's how long it takes.  It's not exactly playing with ouija boards one day and levitating the next week.  Evil has to be allowed in, and weaves its way into an authoritative position of a person's life - to the point that it provides ready-made answers and decisions for the person to accept that are designed to separate the person from humanness - over many years.  It's a complicated, invisible downward spiral.

My favorite case of the 5 was the last (very long) one, The Rooster and The Tortoise.  It's about a scholar of parapsychology, Carl, who the book readily admits has psychic capacities of some kind and eventually was convinced that he was the reincarnation of an ancient Roman and had to go to ancient Aquileia to worship some thing called The Tortoise.  The priest, Father Hearty, also has psychic capacities of some kind, and had taken classes from Carl at a university.  The whole interaction between psychic phenomena and academia and spirituality was pretty interesting, but what made the story for me was this part where Carl is talking to his mentor, a Tibetan guy named Olde who practices Tibetan Buddhism.  Carl had already been in contact with the evil spirit at this point, but was essentially ignoring that it was evil - anyway.  He's trying to learn higher planes of consciousness.  I was really afraid that Olde was going to turn out to be evil, but not so:
Finally one day Olde seemed to have no more answers.  Every soul, he said, which turns to the perfection of Allness is like a closed-petaled lotus flower in the beginning of its search.  Under the direction of a master or guide, it opens its eight petals slowly.  The master merely assists at this opening.  When the petals are open, the tiny silver urn of true knowledge is placed in the center of the lotus flower.  And when the petals close in again, the whole flower has become a vehicle of that true knowledge.

Looking away from Carl, Olde said gratingly, almost inimically: "The silver urn can never be placed at the center of your flower.  The center is already taken by a self-multiplying negation."  A pause.  "Filth.  Materiality.  Slime.  Death."

Carl was stunned, literally struck dumb for an instant.  Olde walked away from him, still without looking at him.  He was about five paces away when Carl broke down.  He could only manage a choking exclamation: "Olde!  My friend!  Olde!"

Olde stopped, his back to Carl.  He was utterly calm, motionless, wordless.  Then Carl heard him say in a low voice and not particularly to him: "Friend is holy."  Carl did not understand what he meant. [...] Olde said only this to Carl, words Carl could never forget: "You have Yama without Yamantaka.  Black without white.  Nothingness without something." 

As Olde turned away again, Carl had a sudden reversal.  He seemed for a few instants to be absorbed in "higher prayer."  His surge of frustration and anger gave away to contempt and disgust for Olde.  Then as he looked at Olde's retreating back, he was filled with a warning fear of Olde and what Olde stood for.  Somehow Olde was the enemy.  Somehow he, Carl, made up a "we" and "us" with someone else, and Olde could not belong to it.

"Enemy!" he suddenly heard himself shouting after Olde.

Olde stopped, half-turned, and peered over his shoulder at Carl.  His face was back to its usual repose.  His forehead, cheeks, and mouth were unruffled and smooth.  His eyes were calm, wide open, just gentle deeps of impenetrable light, as they usually were.  The compassion in them hit Carl like a whip.  He did not want anybody's compassion.  He took a step back, wanted to speak, but could not get any word out of his throat.  He backed away another step, half-turning away, then another step and another half-turn, until he literally found himself moving away.  He told himself he had walked away, but deep in himself he knew he had been repelled, had been turned around and propelled away. 

Apparently Olde too had his own protectors.
I've been thinking more about morality lately, and turning against relativism.  I think this is actually due to a combination of reading about the use of torture and reading that whole "bankrupt nihilism" epic fantasy smackdown a while back.  The idea of a divine goodness and an evil that transcends particular religions really appeals to me, but is probably hopeless naive.  But I am a religious naif.  All I know is few things bother me more within this subject than listening to Christian exorcists say that Hindus worship Satan because Kali is in their pantheon.  I like to believe that people of multiple religions can touch/experience the same basic "Allness" in their worship.  But anyway.  I'm sure I sound like a moron, so I'll just move on.

This book taught me a lot about Christianity.  Before reading this book, my knowledge of the subject was restricted to my experience living among and being close friends with Christians (for some reason I get along better with the orthodox/LDS variety than the moderate kind), basic pop/mainstream culture exposure, the American religious right in politics, the Unitarian Universalist church (but only marginal exposure to that one), college courses on colonial and U.S. history (not flattering depictions), and Jesus Christ Superstar.  And none of those things gave me the same impression of Christianity as Hostage to the Devil does.  As strange as it may sound, I never "got" that Christianity was about love before this book.  I mean, I'd heard that, certainly seen the church signs saying "Jesus Loves You" and so on, but mostly my impression of Christianity was this and Jesus Camp.  I know a lot about - and disagree to the extreme with - what the dominionist religious right does politically and the tactics that they use, and I'm still allergic to Left Behind, but this book was like a small revelation to me.  It's kind of funny that a book about exorcism and dealing with evil is what gave me this compassionate, loving view of Christianity, but in the end that's really what it seemed to be about.  The emphasis really wasn't on horror, although there were unsettling passages.  But then the depiction of evil also wasn't something I expected - I think I was expecting pain or cruelty or hatred, and that's in there, but more than anything else, evil in this book is about meaninglessness and nothingness. 

It took a little getting used to - I had particular trouble with the attack on evolution in the chapter Father Bones and Mister Natch, but by the end I felt like I understood, somewhat, what Martin and the exorcists were getting at.  Not that I can put it in words right now.  I'm planning to reread the book.  But I do feel like this was an eye-opening experience for me.  It made me think a great deal about evil and humanness and goodness and Earth, and I was quoting passages of the book to my mother, who really didn't want to hear it, I don't think.  My mother is an atheist who gave me a horrified "are you becoming Christian? do you believe this guy?" line several times.

And no, I'm not saying Hostage to the Devil made me a Christian.  That would be too easy and thoughtless a conversion.  And as to whether I "believe" Malachi Martin, I guess I'd say that "I don't think he's lying," to paraphrase Scully.  In any case, I'm glad I read it.

And now I get to go write my book about non-evil "demons."  Heh, as Lindsey says.  At least the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church doesn't seem to believe in the gag-inducing deliverance movement (it's probably connected to the Alaskans that believe there's a demon queen on Mt. Everest), so that's something I can leave to my charismatic church.  Going off that tangent:

I caught an episode of the new Animal Planet show "Demon Exorcist" last week.  I like some paranormal-reality TV, for the same reason I like horror, and I like AP's "The Haunted" quite a bit, but "Demon Exorcist" was hysterically horrible.  A lot like "Extreme Paranormal."  Suffice it to say that if you catch that show, about a ghost hunter who has some run-in with an evil spirit and then becomes a wannabe John Constantine (I wouldn't be surprised if he somehow got licensed to practice "demonology" over the internet, and no, I do not take "demonology" seriously), the rigorous, devoted exorcists in Hostage to the Devil are the polar opposite of that guy.  For one, this guy totally violates the spirit of working under the banner of the power of God instead of making it about the exorcist himself, cuz the exorcist ain't strong enough (has he not seen The Exorcist?  "The power of Christ compels you!"), because he wants to be a hero.  For two, this is the kind of person who sees anything vaguely malicious and says "demon."  No question about mental or physical health.  Just straight to "demon," every time.  He's a lot like the Warrens.  Maybe it's a demonology thing.
intertribal: (bass down low)
My mom and I went to a performance by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater last night (they're on tour).  It was the most enthusiastic about anything artistic I've ever seen her.  She was a modern dancer through her 20s and 30s.  She wasn't famous, she was just a dancer - dance was her burning thing, and what took her to Indonesia, and thus how she met my father, etc.  Before she started doing exclusively  Javanese dance, she took after Merce Cunningham's style, which is very "abstract" (her words) and does not use music, and she described Alvin Ailey's style as essentially the opposite.  The only dance story she's ever told me is of Merce Cunningham visiting her college's dance department or something and noticing how she was dancing (she was "falling very slowly") and saying "keep doing that."  But she had gone to a performance by the AAADT and still recalled parts of "Revelations," which is Alvin Ailey's signature 1960 piece: "the story of African-American faith and tenacity from slavery to freedom through a suite of dances set to spirituals and blues music."  They performed "Revelations" last night, and it is indeed very soulful and religious and "epic."  My favorite part of the whole performance was "Revelations"'' first segment, "Pilgrim of Sorrow."  The upward-reaching hands in "I've Been 'Buked" symbolize a total commitment to reaching for something that cannot be touched.

We were reading the program and my mother was looking through the names mentioned - Katherine Dunham Dance Company, Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, Lester Horton - and saying, "ah, see, this," because this had been her world.  

Alvin Ailey died in 1989 after appointing Judith Jamison as a successor - she is passing it on to Robert Battle, who choreographed "In/Side" - the lighting doesn't come through too well in that abridged video, but after this performance my mother immediately gave a standing ovation.  She does give standing ovations, but usually it's after she sees other people doing it, and it's a slow ascent.  This time she just shot up of her own accord.  When she sat back down she was crying and said that was one of the best performances she had ever seen.  She appreciates dance on a totally different level than I do, obviously - I'm always trying to "interpret" dance, and my reaction to "In/Side" was "it was like he was the last person on some planet and this was his mental process" and "the contrast between him being totally alone and the song, which is all about this other person being with him," whereas the most interpretation my mother provided for this dance was "it's like going really, really, really deep inside."  What she first praised was the dancer's control and energy flow and the different shapes he could take and his "absolutely perfect stance," and how when he would momentarily relax she would think, "no, no, don't relax!"

She said in the parking garage that the performance was good for her soul.  The only real chance I get to hear her perspective on dance is when we watch So You Think You Can Dance (she's a big fan of it), and in fact the AAADT gave a performance on SYTYCD last season that I think reminded her of the company, and inspired her to buy the tickets.  I think the most benefit for my soul was actually just listening to her.
intertribal: (sit down shut up)
Re: The recent controversy over the Smithsonian Institute's installation "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture." 

I actually really, really like the "video in question:" "Fire In My Belly," created by David Wojnarowicz in 1987.  Brutal and sad and frightening for sure (it almost reminds me of Begotten, but better).  But powerful, I think, and evocative.  You can hardly accuse it of having nothing to say or being "merely competent."  And look, people: I have mummy-phobia, and I have it pretty bad.  I don't find it pleasant either.  But judging by the way people were talking about it, and the way it was described in news articles, you would have thought it was a 4-minute video of ants crawling on a crucifix (or as the Washington Post puts it "Ant-covered Jesus video").  That segment is 11 seconds.  11 seconds!  And not even a memorable part.  That's like calling Cormac McCarthy's The Crossing a "book about abandoning dogs."

But, the video was removed after people like the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights (hahaha), House Minority Leader John Boehner, and Republican Whip Eric Cantor complained about it.  Catholic League guy is just grossed out: "The material is vile... This is hate speech... It is designed to insult (Christians)."  Eric Cantor is pitching to the Putting the Christ Back in Xmas demographic: "an obvious attempt to offend Christians during the Christmas season."  Just want to remind: 11 seconds.  Also, not everything is about you.  Boehner threatened the Smithsonian with... something, when the Republicans take control of the House in January, if they didn't fix the problem.  But another Republican, Jack Kingston, wants to launch a Congressional investigation, because he is very angry about tax dollars - no, no, public space - being used to fund this "really perverted sick stuff" (he also thinks "Male nudity, Ellen DeGeneres grabbing her own breast" are sick and perverted and kinky and questionable; presumably female nudity can still qualify as art): "They claim that this is not paid for by tax dollars, yet this is a public building with a publicly paid staff, public heat and air-conditioning, if you will, public security. So there’s no question the taxpayers are subsidizing this."

Contrast this with this snippet from the Publishers Weekly review of a book about Wojnarowicz, David Wojnarowicz: A Definitive History of Five or Six Years on the Lower East Side: "informed by his outrage against America's treatment of outsiders, in particular those suffering with AIDS." 

So on the one hand, video informed by outrage against America's treatment of outsiders.  American politician condemns video as, essentially, not representative enough of the public experience to justify public dollars being spent on it.  Yes, you ARE an outsider, says Jack Kingston.  You are not one of the public.  Your pain and your experience are not ours.  Sit down and shut up

Which is fucking bullshit, in case I needed to add that.

See also, a great article by John Coulthart (he makes the same point I do - "Among other things Wojnarowicz’s film depicts the artist having his lips sewn together. By shutting out Wojnarowicz from their exhibition the gallery and the Smithsonian Institute re-affirm the point he was making in the 1980s about the voices of the afflicted being silenced" - and adds a ton more, including a bonus riff on The Passion of the Christ, re: who is "allowed" to depict violation of Christ's body): "Ecce homo redux."
intertribal: (ich will)
I've never been made unsafe because of my demographics.  I'm half-white and half-Javanese, but I pass.  I look a lot whiter now than I did when I was younger (my skin has gotten paler, I've started looking more like my mother, IDK).  I guess most people can identify that I don't look totally teutonic, or whatever, but I get to rest in the safe "mildly exotic" zone.  The only people that actually broach the ethnicity subject with me are themselves not white.  And I know that has made my life a lot easier.

Lately I have started to feel uneasy.  I keep having nightmarish visions of America entering some kind of... social bottleneck, or something, because the amount of combative racist agitation in the country seems so high right now.  A little while ago it was Arizona and the border.  Now it's Islam.  And while the anti-immigration rhetoric did make me nervous (and pissed for non-personal, more philosophical reasons) the anti-Islam rhetoric actually creates physical discomfort, because I was raised in Indonesia and my father's family is Muslim.  To be honest I don't know much about the religion.  I went to a Muslim school for two years, learned nothing (I was too busy talking to myself), was registered as Muslim at my international school, literally raced through my prayers, the end.  My best friend was Christian.  I was more excited about Christmas (presents!) than Idul Fitri (adults talking).  But it was a Muslim society, and save for my atheist mother, all the responsible adults in my life were Muslim - though they ranged all the way from my dad, who was mostly atheist, to a friend of my dad's who was like a freelance preacher.  To this day hearing the adzan comforts me.  So I guess I have some cultural identification with Islam.  

I pretty much know that the anti-Islam stuff going down in the U.S. is never going to hurt me, personally.  I don't identify with any religion (right now I'm immersed in Christianity, and dabble in paganism, a la Christine O'Donnell I guess) and I look white enough that no one's going to bring it up.  But I guess... I just feel more on-edge about it than I used to.  I don't know if that's because of the changed climate or because I've gotten more sensitive or what.  But these days I feel wary about saying I used to live in Indonesia, because what if they know Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population?  Why did that woman at work mistake hearing "Indonesia" for "Egypt" and then say "close enough"?  That is how hyper my neurosis is.  After all, if that is how Obama has been identified as Muslim - going to school in Indonesia, having a Muslim father - well, shit, my cover's blown.  I shudder to think of the number of people who would happily high-five me in Memorial Stadium now who wouldn't if they knew.  And believe me, thinking that way - feeling paranoid that I'm going to be somehow "found out" - makes me feel very cowardly and hypocritical, because WTF, right, there should be no shame in identifying with whatever ethnicity or religion, and how lame am I in propagating that there is something shameful about Islam through my actions.  Like I am braver about sticking up for other people (who I couldn't be mistaken for) but don't have the balls to put myself on the line.  That's fucking awful. 

But then there's the question of whether I should even identify with Islam enough to feel uneasy and paranoid.  I mean, there are a whole lot of people who have more cause for concern than I.  It's not part of my identity.  If we're going to pick out cultural/ethnic markers for me, I would say something along the lines of "l'enfant colonial."  The line "Chubby Checker, Psycho, Belgians in the Congo" is my favorite from "We Didn't Start The Fire."  And on the other hand, I totally believe that people shouldn't wait to be a member of a group at gunpoint to, you know, say or do something.  A lot of casual and/or combative racism upsets me mentally - but this is the first time I've ever felt physically and emotionally uncomfortable, for purely self-defensive reasons.  It is very different from anything I have felt before. 

intertribal: (if the bible tells you so)
First up, we've got the "no duh" revelation by some guy at the New York Times that American Vietnam War fiction is not, in fact, popular in Vietnam!  Steinglass writes: "It shouldn’t have been so hard to find Vietnamese who could talk about O’Brien. He is, after all, a seminal Ameri­can novelist of the Vietnam War."  Man, Steinglass cracks me up.  Then again, my transformative moment came watching a documentary where this old woman in Vietnam were like, "Why would we hate you (Americans)?  We won the war."  I actually do like quite a few Vietnam stories (my favorite movie is Apocalypse Now), but I'm aware that my American-ness colors that opinion.

Moon Rat, aka Editorial Ass, gets asked about the gender of the main characters of the books she acquires for edits.  Do girls write books with female MCs?  (I don't).  Do girls read books with female MCs?  (I don't).  Kind of interesting to read the comments.  We've got things like "If [the book category is] adult and it's witty, MC's tend to be female" and "don't feel bad about acquiring all female MC's. You're balancing things out--helping readers get over their sexism one protag at a time! ;-)"  and "do you think there is a prejudice regarding women writers writing male protags?"  If so, FUCK.

Speaking of fuck, I really enjoyed this post about obscenities in writing.  In the narrative voice?  In dialogue?  Certain words off-limits?  Loss of "fire power"?  There are a few classist calamities in the comments over yonder ("it's a real turn-off for me, particularly since she seems a well educated and well-brought-up girl", Charles Dickens never swore, etc.).  I've definitely noticed that the profanity in my writing has increased as I've started swearing more.  I was so happy when I relocated the novel to a setting where people would still use my kind of curse words.  Related: [ profile] winterfox's review of Richard Morgan's The Steel Remains.  Related Related: Torque Control's interview with Richard Morgan, where the comments get into a weird tangent about whether "frak" means Battlestar Galactica doesn't have balls or basic realism (I guess Richard Morgan doesn't watch non-premium cable...).

On the other end of the spectrum (maybe), I really wanted this article wondering where all the Christian writers went to be good.  It's kind of... melodramatic in a dull way and doesn't seem to know where it's going.  I wanted an article about Christian themes and Christian representations in books being published today, not which dead writer was exiled by which church and why.  But eh.  I offer it.

And finally, a post from last year by Jim Hines about rape in fiction.  The comments are really, really interesting - and all over the place.  On the one hand we've got "I can't think of an example where rape was handled well," and "I... put the book down, because I read for fun and escapism, and as soon as somebody gets raped, I'm not having fun anymore" [that comment made me :( in real life].  On the other hand we've got "I've read far too many posts on LJ, writer's mailing lists and articles aimed at writers that flat out state there is never a place for sexual assault in a book or story... Many people don't think rape should be part of fiction at all. I worry about that as well. Hiding from an issue and not addressing it as writers or readers isn't going to make it go away."  Guess which one I agree with???  Anyways, if these comments are any indication, I will probably make a lot of enemies halfway through book 2.  And it makes me wonder if I should back off, but I already know I won't.

Title from the opening of "Aisha" by Death In Vegas.  I always think I should introduce myself to my characters that way: "I have a portrait on my wall.  He's a serial killer.  I thought he wouldn't escape - Aisha, he got out."
intertribal: (medusa)
Everybody knows Westboro Baptist Church, right?  They're in Kansas.  They're famous for "picketing" soldiers' funerals (some family is now suing them for emotional damage or something) as well as the funerals of people who died of AIDS (and Matthew Shepard) because they think 9/11 and American deaths in Iraq are retribution for homosexuality, and apparently drug use (?) (Miss Megan Phelps thinks Heath Ledger was struck down by God, so...).  One family is basically in charge of the whole thing, the Phelpses.  Granddaddy founded the church, Mommy the Minister (one of thirteen children) got arrested in Nebraska* for letting her 8-year-old stomp on the American flag (see?  those flag desecration rules are enforced!!), and Megan Phelps is one of her eleven children.** 

So anyway little Megan made a "parody" of Lady Gaga's Poker Face.  It's called, uh, No Poker Face (surprising it's not Poke Her Face).  I could not stop laughing while watching this thing.

* I have to say, I held it against SVU that their version of the Westboro Church was Nebraskan.  We wouldn't have a church like that.  Neo-Nazis, yes.  Westboro Church, no.

** Look, my grandfather was one of thirteen too.  In the 1900s.
intertribal: (she dyes it black)
All I really have to say is... where the hell has FARGO been all my life?  

I watched this on the plane going to China.  This is the clip where I was like, "OMG, it's Nebraska."  Except of course it's not, and it's not our accent, but whatever.

The whole movie is on YouTube, so seriously, no one has an excuse not to watch this beauty.  It's already vaulted into my top ten.  If I'm not careful my entire top ten will compose of Coen Brothers movies and Apocalypse Now.

I've managed to recently watch quite a few movies that I should have seen long before.  Like, The Matrix.  There are some really neat ideas tucked in here, and great music that I already own.  But damn if Keanu Reeves is not a horrible actor.  I wasn't blown away.  Especially by the climactic events.  This was sort of - worldbuilding = A, plot = C.  I fell asleep watching The Matrix Reloaded, but not before getting creeped out by their future human city.  Another movie I fell asleep watching was The Informant.  Really I watched the first 1/3 and then woke up for the last fifteen minutes.  Which seemed interesting, really, and I want to try to watch it again, but the dialogue was so quiet and I couldn't hear it on the plane.  Don't ask why I could hear everything on Fargo. 

I also watched the entirety of The Shining (Stanley Kubrick) for the first time.  I'm a Nicholson fan, and a Shining fan, so it's not like this could really go wrong.  It's not as scary as the book, and I admit some changed details annoyed me, but uh, I had to look away during Room 217.  That was not good, and it went on way too long for comfort.  I hadn't known much about Insomnia, but I clicked on it because I saw Christopher Nolan and "land of the midnight sun."  It's one of those cops going crazy movies, and it's actually pretty good.  Mostly because Alaska makes for such an intense setting, and it's filmed with aplomb.  Get Carter - Stallone the financial adjuster goes home to the Seattle burbs to find out who killed his brother - is pretty entertaining for the first 2/3 of the movie, all this off-beat humorous violence and stuff.  Then it turns into a rape-secondary-revenge movie and gets all somber and icky.  Still, not bad for a let's-be-criminals movie. 

The Legend of Drunken Master/ Drunken Master II is some seriously good shit, better than the first.  I know some people aren't into kung fu attempts at comedy, but I was literally laughing like 80% of the movie (I mean, you know me).  Anita Mui is just fucking fantastic in it - she plays Jackie Chan's stepmother.  Oh yeah and Jackie Chan.  Basically I wanted to join their family.  And yes, I know - I watched the dubbed version.  My only other language choice was French!  Thanks, Netflix!  I can't recommend Bloodsport, though: '80s Van Damme movie about an underground world fighting tournament.  Yeah, you hear world fighting tournament and you're like, oh man, it's gonna be awesome!  Not really.  More like land o' cliches with no entertainment in sight.

I watched a few of Showtime's Masters of Horror pieces.  They're not very good, in general.  That Damned Thing is under an hour but probably the best, about a monster in a small town in Texas.  The acting is reasonable for a TV movie and the plot feels... I don't know, genuine in some way?  I don't want to totally recommend Dreams in the Witch House, a modern adaptation of the Lovecraft story, but for you horror junkies, it may be worth a view.  It's not only creepy in a fun way but it's highly amusing as well, kind of like a good Tales From The Crypt.  Nightmare Man, about an evil African fertility mask, is very very bad - laughably bad.  Valerie on the Stairs, about a haunted writer's colony, is even worse because you can't even laugh at it.

So many religious horror movies!  I lost interest in The Prophecy pretty much immediately.  Requiem, on the other hand, is a really interesting movie if you want to know the true story behind the "true story" behind The Exorcism of Emily Rose.  As in, this is what really happened to the girl - epilepsy and intense religious pressure, from within and without.  Depressing movie, but good, with a very retro/antique feel (set in the '70s in rural Germany).  On a similar note, we've got The Woods, a sort of B-movie-trying-to-be-A-movie-or-is-it-really-trying? about a girls' boarding school with a supposed history of witchcraft, and oh, the evil woods.  If you're into that sort of thing, it's not bad.  I can't say it's worth watching though.  Picnic on Hanging Rock is a far superior treatment of the Witchy Boarding School idea.  Hell House, the original Jesus Camp, is a less scathing, more personal documentary about fundamentalist Christians trying to save America - by building "haunted houses" to scare people out of being gay or having abortions.  It really gets in the heads/motives of the organizers, though, with interesting results.  Not a movie, but I also watched an episode of this BBC show Apparitions - about a Catholic priest who exorcises demons in modern London - and quite enjoyed it, particularly the emotional honesty of the characters portrayed.  Plus I'm a sucker for the whole ambiguously "good" versus "evil" fight over some guy's eternal soul thing.  Apparently British people didn't like it, because it got canceled.  C'est la vie.

Oh yeah, and I watched Shutter Island.  I never felt like it was a real movie.  The acting made it seem more like a community theater production.  Like, way below the caliber I expect from all these guys involved, including Scorcese.  A couple unnerving shots, and I will admit the last 20% of the movie felt like a step up from all that came before - ironic given the plot - and of course, gratuitously scary asylum is gratuitously scary.  I'm not going to rec it though.  I have very mixed feelings.  Like disappointment matched with bewilderment.
intertribal: (all you bitches by your christian names)
These are the same psychos who think DBZ is about Jesus, right?  Gotta justify our bloodlust somehow.  You see this in Jesus Camp too.

More Churches Promote Martial Arts to Reach Young Men
The outreach is part of a larger and more longstanding effort on the part of some ministers who fear that their churches have become too feminized, promoting kindness and compassion at the expense of strength and responsibility.

“The man should be the overall leader of the household,” said Ryan Dobson, 39, a pastor and fan of mixed martial arts who is the son of James C. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, a prominent evangelical group. “We’ve raised a generation of little boys.”

Over the past year and a half, a subculture has evolved, with Christian mixed martial arts clothing brands like Jesus Didn’t Tap (in the sport, “tap” means to give up) and Christian social networking Web sites like

Men ages 18 to 34 are absent from churches, some pastors said, because churches have become more amenable to women and children. “We grew up in a church that had pastel pews,” said Tom Skiles, 37, the pastor of Spirit of St. Louis Church in Arnold, Mo. “The men fell asleep.”

In focusing on the toughness of Christ, evangelical leaders are harking back to a similar movement in the early 1900s, historians say, when women began entering the work force. Proponents of this so-called muscular Christianity advocated weight lifting as a way for Christians to express their masculinity.

Jesse Johnson, 20, a potential convert, was subdued in a chokehold and decided not to return home with the other church members after his bout. He stayed in Memphis, drinking and carousing with friends along Beale Street, this city’s raucous, neon-lighted strip of bars.
I agree that we've raised a generation of little boys, but disagree that encouraging MMA will solve the problem.  Not that I have anything against MMA.  But it shouldn't serve as medication for the bruised male ego.  That's making problems worse, dudes! 

And the fact that it's "predominantly white" churches getting involved leads me to conclude that there's a lame persecution-of-the-hegemons complex involved here too.
intertribal: (all you bitches by your christian names)
Quite the Christian movie for Damn Liberal Hollywood, but not overbearing.  Actually fairly well-done, with sufficiently-drawn characters, and a satisfying story.  It was kind of fun/funny watching Mila Kunis become an action hero - she pulled that off with varying amounts of success, but it was nice that her character got the chance to do major damage.  Denzel Washington clearly playing himself as he sees himself.  A more upbeat version of The Road.  More religious than Christian anyway.  There were actually parts of this - tender quotes here and there, coupled with the apolitical bleakness of the surroundings - that might have converted me if I were, say, a teenager listening to Flyleaf trying to reconcile my interest in zombie apocalypses with my religious upbringing.  Now I do listen to Flyleaf, but that's beside the point.

Awesome score, regardless. 

oh, great.

Nov. 20th, 2009 01:55 pm
intertribal: (things i put myself through)
from the Lincoln Journal Star, via the wild hunt:

A woman who sued the University of Nebraska saying the school fired her after learning she is a witch has agreed to settle the case for $40,000.

The university made the offer "solely to compromise the claim ... without admitting the validity of plaintiff's contention or any allegations of wrongdoing by the defendants," attorney David Buntain said in an October letter.

Does this mean I have to stop wearing the triquetra to work? Crap-oh-la.
intertribal: (life's a witch)
"The Danger of Celebrating Halloween" by Kimberly Daniels for Charisma Magazine, via The Wild Hunt:
The word "holiday" means "holy day." But there is nothing holy about Halloween. The root word of Halloween is "hallow," which means "holy, consecrated and set apart for service." If this holiday is hallowed, whose service is it set apart for? The answer to that question is very easy—Lucifer's!

The key word in discussing Halloween is "dedicated." It is dedicated to darkness and is an accursed season. During Halloween, time-released curses are always loosed. A time-released curse is a period that has been set aside to release demonic activity and to ensnare souls in great measure. (A/N: Is that something like a time-share?)

For example, most of the candy sold during this season has been dedicated and prayed over by witches.  (A/N: Witches at the Hershey factory!)

Mother earth is highly celebrated during the fall demonic harvest. Witches praise mother earth by bringing her fruits, nuts and herbs. Demons are loosed during these acts of worship. When nice church folk lay out their pumpkins on the church lawn, fill their baskets with nuts and herbs, and fire up their bonfires, the demons get busy.

Gathering around bonfires is a common practice in pagan worship. As I remember, the bonfires that I attended during homecoming week when I was in high school were always in the fall. I am amazed at how we ignorantly participate in pagan, occult rituals. 

Halloween is much more than a holiday filled with fun and tricks or treats. It is a time for the gathering of evil that masquerades behind the fictitious characters of Dracula, werewolves, mummies and witches on brooms. The truth is that these demons that have been presented as scary cartoons actually exist. I have prayed for witches who are addicted to drinking blood and howling at the moon. (A/N: Sweet, thanks!)

While the lukewarm and ignorant think of these customs as "just harmless fun," the vortexes of hell are releasing new assignments against souls. Witches take pride in laughing at the ignorance of natural men (those who ignore the spirit realm).  (A/N: Cackle cackle cackle.)

The word "occult" means "secret." The danger of Halloween is not in the scary things we see but in the secret, wicked, cruel activities that go on behind the scenes. These activities include:
  • Sex with demons
  • Orgies between animals and humans
  • Animal and human sacrifices
  • Sacrificing babies to shed innocent blood
  • Rape and molestation of adults, children and babies
  • Revel nights
  • Conjuring of demons and casting of spells
  • Release of "time-released" curses against the innocent and the ignorant.
There is no doubt in my heart that God is not calling us to replace fall festivals and Halloween activities; rather, He wants us to utterly destroy the deeds of this season.
intertribal: (un-professional)
Things I get in the mail: a brochure for Decoding Prophecy, a FREE and exciting Bible prophecy adventure seminar to be held at a Lincoln church in which the Bible, I am promised, will come alive.  This is the web site of the folks in charge but it does not convey the greatness that is this glossy brochure.

1.  There is a winged lion on the cover. It's walking through mist and looks like it's on LSD and it's accompanied with font that says "Four great beasts from the sea - the first like a lion, with an eagle's wings..."  They've taken an ad out in the paper too, and the lion accompanied it there as well (almost as if the winged lion is the mascot).  But then beast, isn't that usually a negative word?  So is it a good lion or a bad lion?  It looks like angelic Aslan, so I'm really not sure how it could be evil.

2.  Inside the lion appears again, along with three bubble-pictures: the first, "Countdown to Eternity," depicts a comet surging towards the feet of a giant Phoenician Transformer; the second, "Jesus is Coming - Ready or Not!" depicts Prince Jesus in a red robe riding a white horse through clouds, looking off into the distance with all the posed complexity of a Ken doll; the third, "The Antichrist Beast Revealed," depicts the most fantastic image of all.  Another lion, except it's spotted like a leopard, and six additional smaller heads sprout from its neck - two leopard heads, two polar bear heads, and two passive-ish lion heads.  And then there's ten horns that look like women's arms with the hands chopped off and wearing bracelets coming out of the top of the main lion's head.  Oh, and it's coming out of the sea.  It's just spectacular.

3.  Beside these three-bubble pictures is a "sidebar" of sorts.  First we have "The Time of the End," depicting a burning-into-the-sun Earth; then "The Devil's Greatest Deception - Part 1," apparently about a giant cosmic man who is concerned about something and creating blue energy between his open palms; then "The Devil's Greatest Deception - Part 2," which is just a straight-up Sith, I'm sorry; then "All the World Wonders After the Beast," showing a guy with a Left Behind-esque shining 666 barcode on his forehead; and finally "Revelation's Keys of Death," wherein a woman's hand places a rose upon the tombstone of someone called Father.  

4.  Down below all of this is some more text: "Biblical Symbols Bring Meaning and Understanding Into Our Daily Lives," in LOTR font, and promises of more presentations to come, about "Revelation's Hottest Prophecy!" (Megan Fox is being born again?), "Showdown at the New Jerusalem - Revelation Reveals the Millenium (sic)", and "The Rapture, Tribulation and the Last Night on Earth."  

5.  On the back of this brochure we get some more schedule information - "Opening Night for Revelation of Hope," "Revelation's Biggest Surprise," "Revelation's Greatest End-time Signs," and my favorite, "Revelation's Star Wars' Battle for the Throne."  This confirms what appears to be a clear Star Wars theme to the whole Decoding Prophecy adventure seminar.

I don't think I've ever seen a more lavish ad for a Bible seminar.  

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