it’s almost spring trash day

It’s almost, marginally, spring here. It’s nice. I’ve been pretty much stuck in the house though, dealing with various illnesses, desperately trying to finish various articles for various books, and adjusting to this home office thing, which has its pluses and minuses, and the wrinkles of which I really want to sort out before Patty comes home in about a month. Home. Patty. Good. She’s really awesome, you know.

Astounding actually. She just called me. She’s in Mumbai. She’s not supposed to be in Mumbai. She’s supposed to be in Baroda, having taken an overnight train from Delhi last night. Since the ticket indicated a boarding time and end time, 8:30am, she assumed that time was when she’d arrive in Baroda. Nope, train stopped at Baroda in the middle of the night and she woke up in Mumbai. But, friends from her dig have family there, she’s been well taken care of, and she’ll get on a train to Baroda tomorrow.

If it were me, I’d freak out. But she’s good.

Now, on to stuff….

First thanks for being so totally awesome and engaged with the big post about and the link to the mourning work yesterday. I spend a lot of time having certitude about this stuff and being shameless about this stuff, but it’s also deeply scary, vulnerable space for me, on intellectual and professional levels as well as personal ones.

Next, speaking of Bristol-related stuff, Ika Willis has a great post about the horror of hate speech delivered in a reasonable tone, and that thing where queer people are expected to do hard, unpleasant work that should be unnecessary, for free, to spice up someone else’s “conversation” about hate (now with correct URL, sorry about that). No thanks.

In the department of things that make me uncomfortable, things that also remind me of home (even if I was an interloper, even if I am 10 years older than everyone in this article, even if the name makes me shudder): New York’s newest list of 400 to be on, the Native Society. Mostly this reminds me that I need to decide whether I am going to the Hewitt reunion this year or not (although I certainly won’t make Patty suffer through it again; she can rescue me after).

I’ve decided that to go with my suits and other anachronistic habits, I want some letterpress business cards. Recommendations, anyone?

Today’s crowdfunding link is about bread. Really. Bread. I can’t eat bread, because I have celiac disease, but if I could eat bread, I would eat this bread, so folks — get some bread! (Seriously, once Patty is home I may order some for her).

Can we talk about Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull? Because that is some masterful design work (both makeup and costume). It’s also dark. Powerfully so, in that troublesome way where the bad guys always have the best outfits (see: Jack’s coat = awesome; John Hart’s coat = AWESOME). I’m fascinated, both in fact and fiction, about the marketing of evil, both as evil (as happens with villains in fiction) and as the supposedly right thing that’s actually horrific beyond previous imagining (which is generally the insidious way it goes down in non-fictional life). Fascinating stuff on the screen, even more fascinating, I suspect, when it comes to the reception it’s getting and is going to get (I had a long, enjoyable email thread with Christian yesterday about Bad Things That Will Happen in Fandom Regarding This Character and Why We Should Write a Torchwood Battles the Red Skull Fanfic immediately). Who are the bad guys that keep you awake at night, not because they are too terrifying (and they are), but because they are too fascinating for your comfort?

Finally, there’s this awesome search string that keeps sending people to this journal: “In what ways can we look at fiction as history?” I’m sure there’s some actual scholarship on it out there, but once I crawl out from under all these deadlines, I’m going to take a stab at my own take on it, because I adore the question so much.

On that note, I need to go finish some stuff so Kali and I can get back to our book, which is all about the uncomfortably human lives of some mostly awful (and evil) people, and Erica and I can get back to our musical, which is about some people that aren’t awful at all, but get vilified for the work they do and the concerns with which their lives and bodies provide them.

26 thoughts on “it’s almost spring trash day”

  1. I can’t decide if my reaction to ‘The Native Society’ is desire or a kind of sickening hatred, either directed at me or at them.

    Not that I could have been one of them even if I’d known what I was doing, socially, when I was at school with them — wrong address (Upper West), wrong culture (musician parents). But there’s still this sense of — missed opportunity.

    Not that I terribly much want to spend time with these people. But I was damn close to having access to their sort of power, and I didn’t know I wanted it at the time, or how to get it if I did.

    1. Yes.

      Of course, the myriad scathing comments on it in the article from people of the same class/world is sort of satisfying.

      Didn’t you love how they have token artists as members? I bet they are supposed to be very grateful.

        1. I suspect, very strongly, that in this particular group, it’s not that useful. It may become so, but this sounds like kids playing at another era. And really, I should know!

  2. Re: Letterpress Business Cards, I’ll check with my friend Matt and see if he, or someone else in his service-frat-what-owns-a-printing-press, is willing to do the job. I believe they charge basically just the price of the cards (three dollars? Four? per either hundred or five hundred, I’ll check) and everyone I’ve met from there has been a pretty cool person, so yay supporting them.

    If you’re looking for something closer to home than MIT, I have no suggestions.


  3. Powerfully so, in that troublesome way where the bad guys always have the best outfits (see: Jack’s coat = awesome; John Hart’s coat = AWESOME).

    There seems to be a spectrum of these things, too. Bad guy: AWESOME OUTFIT, Good guy: awesome outfit, any female in the show/movie: mediocre outfit, if clothed at all.

    Also, I find the Red Skull costume disturbing because it’s part-and-parcel of the bizarre USian fetishization of Nazi uniforms (I’m thinking not only of that Tea Partier, but also the uniforms/choreography in the Gaga video of Alejandro, etc). I suppose it’s not that different from the strange fetish/fascination that some percentage of men (it’s always men in my experience, but perhaps my experience has been limited) have for Jack the Ripper.

    1. Well, the Red Skull is canonically a Nazi, is my understanding, so there you go.

      I also don’t think the Nazi uniform thing is at all a unique US thing, although I think it happens in a uniquely US way here. Certainly, I know many US people view it as a “awful stories we’ve heard about sexual and other roleplay involving various British folks of significance” so there you go — apparently we all want to think the Nazi fascination is someone else’s problem.

      As to Alejandro, I’ve seen some great discussion on the what and why of the design in that video that makes it more complex than “bad guys have good tailors,” but help me I can’t remember where. Someone will surely provide at some point. There’s a lot of scholarly Gaga blogging out there.

      1. Yeah, the Red Skull is canonically a Nazi (I wonder if in the movie he smokes with the elegant little cigarette holder), but one could make the costuming a little less interesting. (Though, um, I have this sense that the Nazis were less about leather than that costume is. I wonder if that’s why I’m reading it as fetishistic. *whistles innocently and tries to shove her own thing for leather behind the door*)

        I keep meaning to go read some of the scholarly Gaga discussions, so thank you for reminding me! People keep comparing her to Madonna — I wonder if Madonna would have gotten the same sort of thinky-thoughts about her had the Internet been more developed during Madonna’s early days.

        1. I _have_ to go get my hair cut now, but I’ll come back later to talk about the leather and my read on this design, because yeah…. if I am scholarly, I’ll feel less bad about it. Maybe. Sort of. A little.

    2. OK. This is not something I admit in public often for what I hope are fairly obvious reasons, but I have a small Jack the Ripper preoccupation. Speaking of villains and all.

      Now, of course, my gender is complex, but in this case I definitely feel like my interest and concerns are different than the men I’ve known. I’ve talked to a couple other women about their usually very guarded interest in serial killer stories, though.

      1. While I don’t necessarily have anything to say here that adds to the conversation (as Jack the Ripper isn’t one of those things that gets my attention), I did want to say thank you, as this is very much the sort of thing I meant by the query. This is exactly the sort of thing that doesn’t get discussed in “villains are fun!” discourse and stuff which I think has a lot of interest/meaning as evidenced precisely by our hesitance to discuss it. I hope other people will engage this.

        1. I think in the cases I’m interested in, it’s partly the complete cipher that interests me. *Known* serial killers are, er, boring. (To me!) I’m preoccupied with the unsolved and unsolvable cases — JtR, the Black Dahlia. The ones that both seem completely monstrous on the one hand, and so utterly a predictable expression of their time and place on the other, if that makes sense. And how this always gets enacted upon women’s bodies.

          P.S. I finally read that Native Society piece. And the amount of schadenfreude I felt when I read that quote about feeling sooo out of place when they went to college and couldn’t really relate to anyone…!

      2. I have more of an interest in “team serial killers”. In the team serial killers it seems like you have two types. One team consists of folks who probably wouldn’t have become killers on their own. But together they become killers. Why?

        The other ‘type’ is where you have a dominant personality and one who is follows the lead of the more dominant one. Sometimes it’s thought that the more submissive/enabler wouldn’t have started serial stuff on their own. So why do they follow the lead of the killer?

        It’s pretty interesting reading shrinks’ ideas on the “why.”

        That said, I can’t read real life serial killer stuff too much- it gives me nightmares. (OTOH, I can watch Criminal Minds marathons without any problem.)

  4. Who are the bad guys that keep you awake at night, not because they are too terrifying (and they are), but because they are too fascinating for your comfort?

    Count Olaf in the Series of Unfortunate Events. He’s probably one of the most vile, awful, nasty, evil human beings I have ever read in any book series, let alone one for children, and yet I found his character fascinating. And yet, by the final book in the series, the author still made me actually feel bad for him. I’m still stunned by that. I’d hated him for 13 books and suddenly saw him in a different light.

  5. Well, my favorite villain is definitely Asia the Invincible (of my various userpics). She’s the star of a seminal wuxia movie called Swordsman II: the character was so awesome she got her own movie afterwards, The East is Red.

    I think her story is so fascinating to me because it’s all about power and limitation. Asia the Invincible started off as a (male) minority rebel group leader who castrates himself to gain ultimate supernatural power from the sacred scroll, but then disguises the fact that he’s becoming a woman from his lover and followers. Then she falls in love with one of her enemies and pretends to be her own lover in order to have… actually, it’s so damn complicated I’m not even going to ATTEMPT to sum it up. But she’s a) mad murderous b) incredibly stylish, dynamic and visually compelling c) complicated. The first time I saw Swordsman II in the 90s my jaw just dropped to the floor and stayed there for a looong time, and I’ve been fascinated with the character ever since.

    1. It may have something to do with seeing The East Is Red first and not catching the rest of the Swordsman series until a few years later, and a lot to do with the character being just So. Damn. AWESOME. in all the ways you note, but your comment made me realize that I seem to default to thinking of Asia as an antihero rather than a flat-out villain.

  6. > “In what ways can we look at fiction as history?”

    It seems amazing that this question has found you before you even answered it, like it has been waiting for you.

  7. The best fictional villains are always villains you can sort of understand. They’re not one-dimensional “I’m Evil” cardboard cutouts, but ‘people’ who have real motivations reasons for their behavior. A really good writer makes you feel for them, even if you know they have to be stopped.

    Am I making any sense?

  8. I always wind up getting buzzed when I go to a barber, and having a roommate with clippers, I’ve managed to ditch trips for haircuts entirely. Sympathy on convincing haircutters you really want a short cut. Second the comment about knowing what number you like, and just using that for instruction.
    Sadly, my only barber rec is for London.

  9. FYI:

    Rally tomorrow with a bizarre-sounding name but a good-sounding message; thought you might like to spread the word.

    “On Sunday March 6, 2011, a broad coalition of over 75 interfaith, nonprofit, governmental, and civil liberties groups will come together in Times Square (42nd Street and 7th Avenue) in support of equitable civil rights for the Today, I Am a Muslim, Too, rally. Taking place in response to upcoming Congressional hearings led by Peter King (R-LI), rally-goers will stand together against bigotry caused by anxiety, misinformation, and ignorance, to show Congress a united American community which seeks to strengthen – not dilute – our bonds of friendship and trust. Organizers of this rally believe one can be a loyal Muslim as well as a loyal American without conflict.”

  10. If you find lovely and well done letterpress cards, I hope that you will post the name of the shop/person that did them.

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