I’m Tired.

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This is a big weekend. Lots of people remembering 9/11 with a solemnity and fervor that I simply can’t muster any more. I won’t ever forget it, but I can’t dwell on it. The lessons that we as a nation have taken from it weren’t the right ones.

Instead of coming together, recognizing extremism (which we did for a far too brief period of time), we’ve punished anyone who is Muslim or might look like they’re Muslim – ignoring the truths about a religion that is peaceful. Just being shepherded world-wide by extremists and fear. (I’m mostly talking about our media and political agendas, not Islam. While extremists do shape public perception of what Islam is, I personally fault the media for its part.)

We’ve invaded countries, killed innocent people – and set up a hostile climate around the world where innocent people have been killed because of how we reacted.

I will never forget what happened. But at the same time, I will not leave that moment in a bubble and act as though everything we as a nation have done since then has been honorable.

I love our country. I want to comfort all those who lost someone in 9/11. But I want to stop other people from losing family members because of the climate of hate that’s been breeding since that attack.

(I appreciate those who serve our country, for making that difficult decision to put their lives at risk to hopefully make the world a better place, and defend what we stand for as a nation. I support the veterans who’ve returned. I don’t support the people who use veterans and those serving to change the subject for what’s going on in the world)

TRAILER: HIDDEN FIGURES (and raising a kid who asks tough questions)

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So one of the downsides to raising socially aware children is that they’re going to ask you uncomfortable questions.

The Oldest Kidlet is going through a massive space phase (though I get the inkling that this isn’t a phase, but a calling). Where I wanted to be an astronaut at his age, he wants to put people in space. (If you have a space minded kid like mine, our two favorite games are Universe Sandbox – where you can create your own solar system, and Kerbal Space Program – where you can build your own rockets, shuttles and rovers, and explore a fictional space station. Note: Kerbal has a pretty high learning curve because you have to learn about the angles of trajectory. There’s a WIKI with walkthroughs, but it takes a fair amount of crashing to get the hang of it. You can get both on Steam)

So when I saw the trailer for Hidden Figures, I watched it through and let him take a look. Hidden Figures is the true story of some of the unknown members of NASA’s team for the Moon Race – three African-American Women.

And after watched it, he looked at me. “They weren’t in any of the books I read this summer.” (And he read a lot about space this summer) “Why haven’t we heard about them? Is that because they’re women?” His voice lowered. “Was it because they were black women?” His brow furrowed. “That’s stupid!”

Which it is. And I’m proud of the fact that my nearly 11 year old son can watch something like this and these are the questions he asks and the conclusions he comes to. A couple years ago, he wouldn’t have pieced that together.

His class’s unit on California Missions was pretty interesting for that same reason- he devoured the history, but ranted at home for ages about how unfair it was that the Native American tribes had their culture ripped away from them. And that makes me happy. Because part of growing as human beings is being able to appreciate the accomplishments, but criticize the mistakes.

The only downside of this, is that you’re never really aware of where conversations will go. He’s surprised me numerous times by asking me about news stories he sees when he opens up the browser to go to YouTube. Or when he didn’t understand cellular division when he was watching Cosmos, and I ended up having a long discussion with him about how fetuses grow from a single cell. (We’ve had to preface those conversations as ones that he shouldn’t go yakking about with friends, because it’s up to other parents to decide when conversations like that happen)

And don’t get me started on how most of these conversations pop up in the car…

Are you excited for Hidden Figures?

When “Mad Love” is Abuse.

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suicide-squad-poster-harley-quinn-1-405x600Confession: I haven’t seen Suicide Squad yet. I was at a conference last weekend, and work’s been crazy busy. But what I have been is a fan of Harley Quinn since she was introduced in Batman: The Animated Series. So I was not surprised to hear that Harley & Joker are still in an abusive relationship.

However, I am sad, upset and disappointed that so many people are trying to claim that this is a romantic ideal type relationship. Or find ways to excuse abusive behavior as being deviant, not abuse. (I’m not surprised – I stopped being surprised when Hot Topic had their ‘Mad Love’ Valentine’s Sale with their merch)

Some history for non DC fans: In the cartoon, Psychologist Harleen Quinzel was obsessed with Joker and became Harley Quinn. He used that obsession of hers in order to get her to do what he wanted. There was no love there. Not on his end, at least. He used her, he berated her, and he hurt her. It was abuse- physical and emotional.

It’s been that way in the comics since she began appearing there, and only recently did Harley break the cycle. (Which, btw, has led to one of my favorite comic panels of all time – Harley punching Lobo)

So it’s not surprising that Harley in Suicide Squad is in the same position. Why? Because part of Harley’s appeal isn’t just the costume. It’s the underlying strength and brightness. It’s the spark of who she is that Joker can’t stamp out. The part that has her helping little kids, even if she’s a villain. The part that’s always believed she could befriend Poison Ivy (and she did). We just want her to be happy in the end. She can be happy and be a supervillain/anti-hero. Not arguing against that. Also, it takes incredible strength to survive abuse and keep that spark. No amount of reviews calling her a victim or abused diminishes that strength or that spark.

But the real problem comes from either downplaying their abusive relationship or romanticizing it – because there are so many younger fans who simply aren’t taught to recognize abuse until it’s much too late. Media today is filled with relationships that are either outright abusive or portray abusive tendencies as love. (Look at nearly every sitcom in the last decade. Actually… since television began. Couples who love each other gaslight each other for comedic effect. They tear down each other’s self images to make themselves seem better. I mean, I Love Lucy? Not the healthiest relationship. King of Queens? One of the most toxic sitcom marriages of all time. They might not lay a hand on each other, but nothing they do is emotionally healthy)

If we try to saying their relationship isn’t abusive because they’re supervillains who live by different rules, we’re ignoring that even at the core – they’re still humans. It’s their humanity that makes them relatable. Even if this was some elaborate game that they’re playing, it would require some equity. You can argue that the origin story has some equality (Harley chooses to jump into the acid, rather than Joker pushing her in as he did in the rebooted comics), but beyond that – are they on an even playing field at all?

On that note, if we try to portray their relationship as being Dominant/submissive (aka BDSM), then that’s just an irresponsible depiction of BDSM. Even with the power dynamic at work in BDSM, in healthy BDSM there’s equality- the submissive sets the boundaries and the Dominant works within that space. The sub is free to let get go (and submit) because there’s trust that the Dom will know when to stop. That isn’t the case with Harley and Joker. It will always be his rules they’re playing by, so it will never be an actual D/s relationship between them, no matter how much Harley seems to enjoy the game.

(And yes, you can have very healthy relationships that use BDSM – because they’re built on communication, boundaries and trust)

Abuse has been rooted in their relationship from the start. In B:TAS episode and comic named ‘Mad Love’, Harley came the closest that just about anyone has come to killing Batman. Batman has to convince Harley to call Joker to see him die, in order to give him time to escape. When the Joker arrives, he actually slaps her and yells at her – because he wanted to be the one to do kill the Batman. Bruised and heartbroken, she realizes that he doesn’t love her, but is won back over when he sends her a Get Well Soon card and a flower – which is classic behavior from an abuser. Making sure she’ll forgive him so he can continue acting as he always has.

There can be no true cat and mouse game between them, where they one up the other with a trail of crimes and bodies behind them because of the lack of equality in their relationship. She might see it as that, she might be on board, but time and time again – he’ll set Harley up to be the fall guy. To be in harm’s way. That isn’t love. Even a ‘mad love.’

If you’re someone who really wants to think that Harley and Joker aren’t abusive, ask yourself the tough question – why? Or make a clear case as to why in the comments.

(I do plan on seeing Suicide Squad, but feel free to discuss their relationship. If there’s something that somehow changes their dynamic in this movie – that accomplishes making it twisted vs abusive, let me know)

Allies: Don’t Pretend to Come Out.

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Over the weekend, Tyler Posey posted a video to his Snapchat. He was at Gay St and said, very happily. “That’s me. I’m gay!”

People waited for confirmation that he was in fact, coming out, and in the end – they got an apology from Posey. Because he was attempting to make a statement of love and support, but went about it in an extremely ill-advised way. He’s as heterosexual as they come. And honestly, it did hurt a lot of fans – because Teen Wolf has prided itself on being very inclusive when it comes to depicting sexual orientation.

Allies – coming out is a big thing. It takes strength, because you really don’t know how some people will react. I was terrified to come out as bi to some of my friends, because I’d been met with a lot of disbelief at my university’s GSA. A lesbian who’d previously thought I was very nice, decided I wasn’t worth pursuing – she didn’t want to be part of my experiment. (Which, I’ve been attracted to women my entire life. Definitely wasn’t an experiment)

You don’t know how being out will affect other aspects of your life. The only time I wasn’t extraordinarily out was when I worked at Disneyland – I was out to my friends, but I worked with a lot of guys who were 18-24. Most thought it meant bisexual women were promiscuous. Most of the time, you know that by being out, you’re preparing to fight for the right to be yourself for the rest of your life.

And I’m fortunate. I have a great support network that I knew wouldn’t judge, and most everyone understood that marrying TheBoy didn’t change my identity at all. People coming out as trans have to overcome a lot of bias and hatred in the world. People coming out as agender, asexual or aromantic get a lot of disbelief that their identity is even valid. Even gay people still face a lot of judgement – and there’s been more and more positive gay representation in media. So it’s scary to come out. You don’t know how it’ll affect your friendships, your family, your job.

If you want to show your support, do just that. All Posey had to do was show the street sign and say that it made him think of the community and that he sends his love. That’s it! Don’t come out.

It diminishes when others (especially celebrities) choose to come out, and it comes off as a mockery rather than your misguided show of support.

So if you’re tempted to pretend to come out? Even if you’re announcing that you’re “coming out as an ally”

Just don’t. Show your love and support. But save coming out for people in the LGBTQIA community.

(Perma-reminder: Allies are very important. When I imply that Allies aren’t IN the community, I’m not saying they aren’t welcome in queer spaces. What I mean is that the acronym is intended to give people who feel they aren’t welcome by heteronormative society to have a place to belong. An identity. Allies, by definition, support the community. Many people in the LGBTQIA communities once identified themselves as allies first, because they weren’t ready to come out. But they aren’t LGBTQIA. Veterans, for example – are people who served in the military. But those who support them would never call themselves Veterans. Make sense? Ok.)

The problem with Ilvermorny (as world building)

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You easily find a lot of posts discussing JK Rowling’s latest expansion into the Harry Potter universe – Ilvermorny, the North American Wizarding School. Most centering on the cultural appropriation that the school is built on. (And from better sources than me)

But here’s the cliffnotes version – it’s a British Colonialist’s dream – Young Irish girl leaves England (on the Mayflower!) and eventually founds the first magic school. The ONLY magic school. The houses picked by two children, day dreaming about what a school might be like – each named for a favorite magical creature…. most of which came from different Native American tribe’s lore.

It’s disrespectful to the Native American cultures it mines and treats as homogenous – but I wanted to address another entirely different issue. It’s just bad world building, even without the appropriation.

We already know that Wizards were established in Europe and in Asia going WAAAAY back. We know there are three central wizarding schools in Europe. And if you really wanted to double down on Jo’s idea that Native American lore is partially Magic and not just spiritual, that means it already existed here.

Which means that the first Europeans to come in contact with Native Americans would be from Spain. With the conquistadors. So wouldn’t it be likely that some Spanish wizards would have come over, used magic to help defeat Aztec and Mayan wizards? That their cultures would have blended and become their own magical tradition (the way that Mexican and Caribbean cultures evolved as distinct and unique from Spain)? That small schools would have sprung up across the country as it grew, changed and cultures spread? That instead of being sorted into a house, Brit style, you’d be sorted into the school of your heritage, or the school that your magic best meshed with?

Where’s the magic from Africa, brought into the Americas and the Caribbean with those stolen and sold as slaves? The magic from China that came with those who helped build the Bay Area and the railways?

The Native American wizards, pushed off their land and away from natural elements filled with magic (like the forest outside of Hogwarts) – what if hippies weren’t hippies in communes, but wizards trying to protect magical territory from No-Maj’s?

JK Rowling’s concept of a singular school is not only ridiculous for an area so large as North America (you’ll notice I mostly addressed American issues), but it ignores the history of the United States.

Do you really think that there’d only be one school following the Civil War- could you convince No-Maj parents to send their children to the same school as children from the other side? That Beauxbatons wouldn’t have sister schools in New Orleans or in Quebec? And that they’d both be very different from each other and Beauxbatons. That Texas wouldn’t have their own magic school?

The entire concept of Ilvermorny is insulting. Both to the cultural appropriation and the lack of thought about the country it’s set in.

I admit, I’ve been spoiled. In the time I’ve been on Tumblr, I’ve seen idea after idea about what schools were in America. What schools were like in Latin America. They were thoughtful and reflected the cultures they were meant to represent.

America itself is a country of immigrants. To suggest that all would abandon their own cultures and adopt a purely British POV is an insult.

So I’m sharing my thought process because as a writer, I think it’s important that you consider history and sociology when world building in an existing world.

Consider the Hunger Games and Panem. It’s definitely a future US – and it’s clear when you listen to the Districts, what part of the US they’re dealing with. What makes it a successful change is that a lot of the cultural turmoil is built on the turmoil that we know here in the US.

Ilvermorny fails as world building, because most Americans read the history and wonder how big the school is. Because even if it’s a very small percentage of North Americans who are wizards…. that’s still a really really large school.

So, if you’re writing about a country or culture that is not your own – learn from JK Rowling’s mistakes. Research the history and culture. THEN find someone who lives there to give you feedback. Then and only then, you can write your book.

Every time. Why there’s no need for heterosexual pride or white pride

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On the internet, trending today, I saw something about white history month and “Heterosexual Pride Day”.

Any time there’s a marginalized group celebrating themselves, out come white or straight people to wonder where the day is that they get to celebrate themselves.

I’m going to be blunt. That’s every day. You can turn on a TV or go to a movie and see any type of story being told about you. You can buy books that tell your story or tell the story of people just like you. In fact, in school, history books are biased towards telling your story and minimizing what white people have done to African Americans and Native Americans in this country.

A few times a year, marginalized groups get the opportunity to point out the unsung heroes of American history you haven’t heard of. Minority scientists who made important discoveries. Because they’re left out of your history books and TV shows.

The idea of LGBT pride started with trying to step out from the shadows, to make people realize that there is no shame in being LGBT.

Pride Month is timed with the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Which happened because raids went on in gay bars, targeting transgender people especially.

So no, you don’t need a month to celebrate your history. Or celebrate your sexual orientation.

If you can’t handle another group of people getting a tiny bit of a spotlight, the problem isn’t with them – it’s with you.

(I should have made a picture for this post, but to be honest… I didn’t want to lose the momentum I have and have this end up in my drafts folder. Like a lot of posts)

When do we say that enough is enough?

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My heart hurts. I don’t say this because it’s what is being said… I say this because those people who died in that club in Orlando? Those are my people. (I didn’t know them, but those were still my people – both LGBT and Latinx)

There were nearly two more attacks on Pride events this weekend – stopped, and not nearly talked about because both the attackers are white. It’s so easy to focus the attention on what may have been an extremist Muslim (though his own family were quick to say he wasn’t religious, he was just homophobic), when this was an act of terror because it was designed to make the LGBT community afraid.

I’ve been afraid. Afraid for the transgender community, who are misunderstood and have been targeted for decades – but the refusal by some parties to understand them in the last year or so has been aggravating. Afraid for the asexual/aromantic/agender community, who are continually told that they are wrong or broken (you aren’t, I promise). Afraid for queer youth who were told it gets better, and see everywhere that it isn’t better… the hate is just different. The hate comes in different ways. There are fewer people being beaten for being gay, but it’s still obvious that if you’re LGBTQA – people think you’re less. You are an other.

Sure you can have your same sex marriage now, but states will tell you that employers can decide whether or not you get health care. Or if you can adopt. Or whether or not, you retain parental rights if you divorce your same-sex spouse.

It used to be that Westboro was the extent of obvious hate. We could laugh at the God Hates Fags signs because the hate was so extreme. But it’s everywhere. I can’t drive through town without seeing at least one asshole with a Leviticus bumper sticker. Someone who hates gays so much they’ll casually put it on their car.

And allies sit by. Some question why we’re upset when people try to make the A in LGBTQA stand for allies instead of asexual/aromantic/agender (heck some people in the LGBTQA community would rather protect allies than others in the community), rather than focus on more important things – like keeping safe spaces safe. Like fighting for legal rights and basic human rights. I’m not saying that ALL allies aren’t helping – but I see a lot of people who say they’re allies that let comments slide. Who don’t understand what things are slurs and aren’t. Who don’t understand microaggressions based on sexuality or gender identity. Or support celebrities and charities that aren’t trans-friendly, who are biphobic.

Hate doesn’t spring from nowhere. It’s cultivated from a small seed of hate. Some small, seemingly benign thing – like a word. A stereotype. And accepting it normalizes the small behavior so that something bigger doesn’t seem so offensive. Then that becomes acceptable, until the extreme makes sense.

If we say or do nothing, that’s when things like this happen.

I could write about guns. I hate them. It makes no sense to me why we can’t at the very least make it harder for people to own them without proving that they’re responsible humans. Why we can’t admit that there’s no reason for someone to own an assault rifle. Those aren’t extreme suggestions. They’re reasonable. 100% reasonable.

We make people take driver’s tests – to test both mental competency and physical competency. We require people to re-test to maintain their license. Why don’t we do the same with guns?

I’m just tired. I’m tired and angry. I’m angry that we’ve reached this point, and there is no reasonable discussion in the media. That it’s all so focused on hyping up the tenuous threads of ISIS involvement (same as what happened with the San Bernardino shooting). I’m tired of having to reassure my children that there are good people who are full of love.

Do your part. Teach your children to be empathetic. Teach them to love. Educate people. Denounce hatred. Be better. As a community, we’re doing all we can – but we can’t get there if the rest of the population doesn’t step up to help.

And for fuck’s sake, vote out people who aren’t motivated to make your town, state or country better.

The Ancient One is… Celtic?

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Marvel, seemingly responding to critics about casting Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One, released the background for the character. Saying that this embodiment is Celtic. Well here’s the statement:

Marvel has a very strong record of diversity in its casting of films and regularly departs from stereotypes and source material to bring its MCU to life. The Ancient One is a title that is not exclusively held by any one character, but rather a moniker passed down through time, and in this particular film the embodiment is Celtic. We are very proud to have the enormously talented Tilda Swinton portray this unique and complex character alongside our richly diverse cast.

Which I suppose they’re saying she was Celtic and chosen as the Ancient One. (It’s an odd statement, since I don’t really know of anyone talking about people as Celtic since, say, the dark ages) Because if they weren’t saying that she’s just Celtic, where are the reflections of her Celtic culture? Why are all these non-Asian people appropriating a culture by running around in Asian inspired clothing and makeup? And why are we saying she’s Celtic when people stopped referring to them as Celts something like 1000 years ago? (Though I suppose, that would indeed, make her ancient)

Marvel's DOCTOR STRANGE L to R: The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) Photo Credit: Film Frame  ©2016 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

©2016 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.


All this does is raise more questions. One of the criticisms about Doctor Strange (the character) and Danny Rand/Iron Fist is that their stories make white people exceptional using Asian traditions. That somehow these men (and women) are somehow more worthy of picking up these mantels of exceptional strength than Asian people. And when people asked for those to be cast with an Asian person, fans said… “but, they were always white.” But if you take a role originally written as an Asian man and cast it with a white woman, Marvel says… DIVERSITY!

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Prince and Me.

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1035x1021-prince_purplerain-gal-coverMuch like David Bowie’s death, Prince’s sudden death threw me for a loop. He meant so much to me. While I don’t have a first hand story about Prince, I do have second hand stories about him (which I can’t really share). The one common thread in those stories is that despite his eccentricities, he was someone who really cared about other people. He was so beautifully contrary – the man who wrote beautifully filthy lyrics, yet apparently informed a DJ he didn’t get dressed up to hear swearing.

I first became acquainted with Prince as a little kid. My parents owned the Purple Rain soundtrack (who didn’t), and naturally, he popped up on the radio. Much like David Bowie, he was a major part of the soundtrack of my life. He was larger than life to me. (Especially once I realized he wasn’t actually all that tall)

Let’s Go Crazy has always been on my computer – same with Kiss and Raspberry Beret. 1999 was a constant, even after Y2K came and went with that song playing nearly non-stop. (I wondered how many people with their bunkers played it, rocking out in what they thought were the end times)

I sometimes forgot what an amazing guitarist he was, so caught up in his showmanship – the jumps, the clothes, the impeccable eye-makeup. The video below is proof of his skills. There’s an alleged quote from Eric Clapton (I couldn’t find a source) that when asked what it was like to be the greatest guitarist, Clapton said. “I don’t know. Ask Prince.” While it might not be an actual quote – he certainly was one of the greats.

I was awed by him changing his name to a symbol in order to get one over on his old record label. It was odd, but subversive, and powerful. Then again, that’s a pretty good summary for his entire career.

His ability to reinvent himself and unabashedly be himself gave me the courage to do the same.

But mostly, he taught me that when things were dark and dire – the one thing that you could always do was dance it out to Let’s Go Crazy. And that somehow, after throwing your all into rocking out… you’d feel better.

Here’s the Hamilton Cast honoring Prince by doing just that. (Also, this is the only way to dance to this song. Just going all out and feeling that joy)

My favorite thing tonight that I saw was the hashtag #bemorepurple from this post:

Love you all. Let’s all be more purple. (The link explains what I mean by that) Don’t worry so much about what men and women are supposed to do. Preen a little. Sing a little. Let it all out – good, bad.

I think he’d like that.

Marvel’s Doctor Strange Teaser Trailer – My Thoughts!

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The Teaser Trailer for Doctor Strange was released today, and I tweeted a bit about this, but I felt like I needed to discuss it some more. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch it below and then we’ll move on.

Of all the Marvel properties, Doctor Strange is one of the characters I know the least about. I actually know more about Namor than I do Strange. So if you’re looking for an outsider perspective, I’m about as close as you’re going to get.

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