strange fire

books. poetry. paganism. feminism. queerness. blog.

insert post title here August 27, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 8:27 am

A fluffy little meme to finish off the summer (I move back to school tomorrow!) and because the last entry started off celebratory and kinda went all bitchy on me. Via Mouse Words

1. Your name spelled backwards. Enna. My sister is left handed, and she used to accidently write her name backwards as a kid.

2. Where were your parents born? St. Louis, MO

3. What is the last thing you downloaded onto your computer? Well, I haven’t used my computer in three months, but it was probably desktop stuff. I am a wallpaper fiend.

4. What’s your favorite restaurant? There’s a vegetarian restaurant in a nearby town that’s really neat. And I love the rolls at the famous German restaurant in town.

5. Last time you swam in a pool? Probably last fall, when I had to swim for gym class.

6. Have you ever been in a school play? Once. I did a lot of speech team suggested acting, where I performed excerpts from plays in a competition. But the only time I was actually in a play was when my high school put on a production of Life With Mother Superior. I got a three-line bit part, a Catholic school girl named Anne Marie. I was absolutely flabbergasted that I got cast as myself. We didn’t even have costumes, we just wore our school uniforms. You know, I played a lot of guys on speech team. Biff in Death of a Salesman, Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath, Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. I even played God once, when I did Bill Cosby’s “Noah” sketch.

7. How many kids do you want? None, at the moment. I am perfectly happy to get paid for playing with my little cousins for an hour or two and making sure they don’t burn the house down.

8. Type of music you dislike most? I have pretty eclectic taste and like a little bit of just about everything. I really really hate the Serialist school of classical music. And I can’t stand that really heavy Goth metal rock stuff, where the guys have greasy braided goatees and scream suicidal lyrics. They’re both just plain noise.

9. Are you registered to vote? What do you think? Actually, I should probably get registered in my College Town so I can vote for prez there instead of doing an absentee ballot. But I really like Mouse Word’s response: Anyone who doesn’t think voting is fun isn’t doing it right. As I’ve said a hundred times, you should wear something to shock the upstanding ladies that run the polls when you vote. Then you should reward yourself with a margarita afterward. See, she’s got the right idea. I think I’ll wear one of these shirts when I vote.

10. Do you have cable? The only cable channels I want are BBC America, HBO, and Showtime. And they’re exactly the ones I don’t have.

11. Have you ever ridden on a moped? No, because they’re annoying pains in the ass. Europeans sure like them though.

12. Ever prank call anybody? Nope, I was a goody two-shoes as a kid (what a weird expression).

13. Ever get a parking ticket? Nope. I’m still a goody two-shoes, the queer feminism notwithstanding.

14. Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving? Bungee jumping, definitely. Sky diving I’d have to think about.

15. Farthest place you ever traveled. France

16. Do you have a garden? I like to daydream about having a garden but I’m too lazy to actually create one. Guess I’ll have to find myself a cute red-headed horticulturist or something.

17. What’s your favorite comic strip? Can’t go wrong with Peanuts. Boondocks is good, and then there are the masters, The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes. I love Dykes to Watch Out For.

18. Do you really know all the words to your national anthem? Finally! A chance to go on my National Anthem Rant! Seriously, we have the most dumb-ass anthem EVER. The music covers five octaves, and unless you’re an opera singer, practically nobody has a five octave range! Plus, the words are stupid. Francis Scott Key was writing about the attack on Fort McHenry. It’s about the British bombing the shit out of Baltimore Harbor during the War of 1812! Why are we singing about that? Does anybody even know what the War of 1812 was about?

(Ah, my dear Soapbox. How I love you so!)

19. Bath or Shower, morning or night? Showers, in the morning, except when I take them at night. I love how in English we “take” a shower and “draw” a bath. The French say “take” as well, and I consider it one of my highest achievements that I learned to say prendre une douche with a straight face.

20. Best movie you’ve seen in the past month? Road to Perdition, no question. Plus, I know one of the extras, so now I can connect myself to Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, and Jude Law in three degrees.

21. Favorite pizza topping? Mushrooms!

22. Chips or popcorn? Kettle corn!

23. What color lipstick do you usually wear? I only have one tube of lipstick, that my mother bought me back before I had come out to her and she was suspicious and panicking and trying desperately to make me more feminine, not that I’m even all that butch. I never have reason to wear it, but it’s very pretty.

24. Have you ever smoked peanut shells? Um, I don’t even smoke so much as cigarrettes, because I’m allergic to it. Is this drug slang or something?

25. Have you ever been in a beauty pageant? Well I can barely walk in high heels when I’m wearing a dress, never mind a bikini. And I’ve gotten plenty of scholarships with just my brains, thank you.

26. Orange Juice or apple? Cider! Close enough, right!

27. Who was the last person you went out to dinner with and where did you dine? Um, probably with my family, at Olive Garden, right before I left for France.

28. Favorite type chocolate bar? Snickers! God, is it lunch time yet?

29. When was the last time you voted at the polls? I believe it was, what, the 18th of July? My polling place is the Catholic church where my family worships. I went to grade school there, they still have the same Irish nuns running the place. There are two public schools with perfectly functional gymnasiums within two blocks of this church, but no, the lesbian gets to go to a Catholic church to vote on a state amendment that would reinforce pre-existing discriminatory law and strip her of a civil right, because the 14th amendment doesn’t apply to queers! I mean, why make gay marriage illegal when you can make it really really illegal, right? [/rant]

30. Last time you ate a homegrown tomato? Well we got some of grandma’s tomatoes last night for the salad, but I didn’t eat any.

31. Have you ever won a trophy? I played soccer as a kid and we were pretty darn good. I was little and fast and had sharp elbows, very useful. I watched the US women’s team win gold the other day and I wish I had kept with, it was the only sport I was ever any good at.

32. Are you a good cook? I can barbecue and I make a mean macaroni and cheese.

33. Do you know how to pump your own gas? You mean driving up to the gas station and opening the tank and putting gas in it? Doesn’t everybody?

34. Ever order an article from an infomercial? No, but sometimes I get sucked into the ones selling CDs of the best singer/songwriters of the 70s and stuff.

35. Sprite or 7-up? Mountain Dew! Mmm, caffiene. I developed a serious addiction last semester.

36. Have you ever had to wear a uniform to work? Yep, when I was schlepping rubbery hot dogs and greasy nachos to kids at the pool. I’m always super extra nice to people in food service because I know what a sucky job it is. If I had any money I’d be a big tipper too.

37. Last thing you bought at a pharmacy? Actually I can’t remember the last time I bought something at the pharmacy.

38. Ever throw up in public? Thankfully, no.

39. Would you prefer being a millionaire or find true love? See, now you’ve got my inner Marianne and Elinor going at it again. Hell if I know.

40. Do you believe in love at first sight? See above.

41. Ever call a 1-900 number? Nope.

42. Can ex’s be friends? Sure.

43. Who was the last person you visited in a hospital?My grandmother. Don’t smoke, kids.

44. Did you have a lot of hair when you were a baby?I was completely bald until I was two years old. My dad was freaking out, he said he prayed to God to give me hair. I didn’t have enough peach fuzz to stick a velcro bow on my head.

45. What message is on your answering machine? The usual. I always thought about copying George on that Seinfeld episode and leaving a corny song.

46. What’s your all time favorite Saturday Night Live Character? It’s been so long since I watched it I don’t really know. Church Lady maybe, or Dan Ackroyd doing Julia Child.

47. What was the name of your first pet? I had a few nameless fish for a while, and then we got a dog when I was 11 or 12, a Bichon Frise named Bailey. She didn’t walk so much as prance. I miss her.

48. What is in your purse? Tom Jones, card and envelope from my grandparents with 20 bucks in it, wallet, post-it note pad, voter ID card, nifty cool ticket stub from an art house theatre where I saw Before Sunset (incredible movie. Go see it!), $1.96, Borders bookstore reciept, Target receipts, Bitch lip balm, hand santizing lotion, one undeveloped roll of film (shit), and some missing part of a retractable pen.

49. Favorite thing to do before bedtime? Watch the Daily Show.

50. What is one thing you are grateful for today? I have the house to myself. Oh, and I finally got to watch Fire last night, which was just, wow. So good it renders you inarticulate.

 

Happy Women’s Equality Day! August 26, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 8:19 am

Congress passed the 19th Amendment on August 26, 1920, giving women the right to vote, thanks to 72 years of activism (including hunger strikes, solitary confinement, and physical abuse by prison guards) by suffragettes. I’m probably going to spend most of this coming semester badgering my apathetic peers to register.

“As a woman I have no country. As a woman my country is the whole world.”

—Virginia Woolf

I’ve been thinking of that quote a lot lately. I never went in much for school spirit, much less patriotic flag-waving, and this administration’s virulently homophobic and sexist policies have made it clear that I have no country, and never have had one. Maybe someday I will, but only if we can get people–especially single working women–to fucking vote.

 

one geek to rule them all August 24, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 8:35 am

Lord of the rings

J.R.R. Tolkien: Lord of the Rings. You are

entertaining and imaginative, creating whole

new worlds around yourself. Well loved, you

have a whole league of imitators, none of which

is quite as profound as you are. Stories and

songs give a spark of joy in the middle of your

eternal battle with the forces of evil.

Which literature classic are you? brought to you by Quizzilla



Take the What High SchoolStereotype Are You? quiz.

 

The Sandman Library: Dream Country, Season of Mists, A Game of You ~ Neil Gaiman et al. August 18, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 9:35 am

Every time I read a volume in this series, I think it’s the best one ever, until I get to the next one, which is even better, and so on. You get drawn in to these eerie Wonderland fantasies, all swriling around the enigmatic Sandman himself, Morpheus. It’s hard to believe that Gaiman was orignially recycling an old superhero who fought crime while disguised behind his WWI gas-mask. Gaiman’s Morpheus is one of the Endless, a personification and embodiment of abstraction. Morpheus is an apt name, he’s always shifting, both in space and time and character as well, both just and cruel, wise and selfish, powerful and vulnerable. He’s pretty much an angst-filled Hamlet figure, in black jeans and t-shirt. If the Dream King ever did smile, it would only make you nervous.

I love the snarky black humor in this series. Cats dream of a world where humans are the pets (and prey); Lucifer decides to retire from his position as Ruler of the Damned and saddles Morpheus with the keys to an empty Hell. The Devil ends up sunbathing on a beach in Perth, Australia while Morpheus is mobbed by an assortment of deities and demons, all trying to blackmail him into giving them the Underworld. Who knew Hades was such a prime piece of real estate?

Samuel R. Delaney’s introduction to A Game of You really is the best one so far; he not only praises Gaiman’s work but tells you why it’s great, giving the volume a Lit Crit once-over. For me it was really fascinating, as Delany analyses not only the story but the physical structure of the comic itself, explaining the interaction between words and pictures, revealing the depth and richness of it. For me that was when The Sandman when from an intelligent, marvelously entertaining comicbook to a piece of literature. God, think of the papers I could write on this thing! Like “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” in Dream Country, where Shakespeare and his men perform the play for a Faerie audience, with Auberon and Titania and even Peasblossom in attendance. Puck, of course, causes trouble. Ten year old Hamnet Shakespeare tags along, and at the end you get an idea of the price Shakespeare may have paid for his genius. If I really sat down and studied it and researched the references and themes, you could do a lot of great stuff with this series.

 

Hornblower During the Crisis, and Two Stories: Hornblower’s Temptation and The Last Encounter ~ C. S. Forester August 16, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 10:31 am

Goddamn it, Forester, you’re not supposed to up and DIE on me in the middle of the goddamn book!! I hate it when authors do that. Forester’s books are all plot; he doesn’t waste much time with expostition, and even though I know our Intrepid Hero saves the day in the end, that’s not the point. I want to see him do it! Forester just finishes setting up the main story, putting all the parts in motion, ending with the final sentence, “[Hornblower] was about to become a captain at last, and he was about to become a spy.” And that’s it. Forester dies with the book unfinished. You’re left hanging there. They provide the author’s notes with the plot outline, but that hardly makes up for it. It’s frustrating. You never actually get to see Horatio try his hand at espionage. You never find out what Forester means by “The Crisis”. Any crisis in particular, or just the usual unease over whether or not the French will invade? Really, it’s very inconsiderate on Forester’s part. I only hope A&E/BBC decides to film the rest of the series, I’d love to see what they would do with Hornblower the Spy.

The two short stories following are pretty good, but obviously can’t compensate for what might have been. “Hornblower’s Temptation” is just another example of Horatio’s inner struggle to Do the Right Thing, and of course he does, being an honorable chap and all. “The Last Encounter” is more interesting, because I’m reading the books following the chronology of Hornblower’s life, not the order they were written (hence Forester managing to die in the middle of his series), and this is the first time I’ve met Lady Barbara, Horatio’s True Love. It’s also the first time I’ve ever seen Horatio in love, and happy (well, as happy as he would ever allow himself to be). It’s unusually tranquill, for a Hornblower piece; no raging battles or life-and-death decisions or ethical quandries. Just a nice, quiet evening by the fire with the wife, and a guy who thinks he’s Napoleon.

Now I’m anxious for Lady B to properly make her entrance, but I think I still have two or three more books to go before she shows up.

 

Hornblower and The Hotspur ~ C.S. Forester August 14, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 11:15 am

July 29, 2003



I didn’t enjoy the plot as much as that of LH , but just the intricacies of Horatio’s character is enough to keep me reading. Forester contrasts his nautical expertise and skill with his anxiety and insecurity. He proves his worth in his first command of a ship, but he still gets seasick in rough weather. He can save Ireland from invasion, but at home he’s harassed by his badgering mother-in-law and needy wife. He’s a bit of an actor, really, desperately playing a part to Maria and keeping up appearances with Bush. I wish Forester would give us more background on him; we don’t know much about Horatio’s life before he joins the Navy. Why did he join the Navy so late anyway, at 17, when most boys signed up at 12? You wouldn’t know the guy has parents; he only writes one letter to his father, in Mr. Midshipman Hornblower (and our first glimpse at his knack for bullshitting, a skill that comes in handy later when he feels obligated to send love-letters home to Maria). Did he ever have any siblings? And at some point he must have had a mother. I suppose you could argue that Horblower’s past doesn’t matter; this is swashbuckling Boy’s Own stuff, pure plot. But Horatio’s a great character, and I want to know how he got to be the way he is. I’m hoping Forester will reveal more in the later books, but I’m not holding my breath.

 

Lieutenant Hornblower ~ C.S. Forester August 13, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 1:34 pm

May 30, 2003

I bet the slash fic writers have a field day with this one.

The plot of course revolves around crazy Captain Sawyer, who gives Ahab a run for his money in the insane leadership department. And poor Horatio, a lowly junior lieutenant, does his best to keep Sawyer from getting everybody killed. But really this book is about Lieutenant William Bush and Horblower, establishing their relationship as Hero and Loyal Sidekick.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the book told from Bush’s point of view. I love Bush; he’s a decent, steady guy, a welcome relief from Horatio’s incessant self-criticism, and a good foil to him as well. It’s a clever way to show the beginning of their friendship, to portray it from a secondary character’s perspective. Horatio pretty much runs the show, as he always does, while Bush looks on in bemused amazement. The unexpected tenderness and affection between them is moving, especially since the characters are in such a macho setting. ( I thought it was kind of morbidly hilarious, how the Article of War punished practically every infraction with a death sentence. No wonder they had to keep pressing men into service). It was kind of bittersweet, they lead such lonely, harsh lives, so busy being manly that they can only express any sort of emotion through the most oblique methods. Well, and they’re English too. Luckily Forester manages to avoid the melodramatic sentiment that plagues most stories about comrades-in-arms (Seriously, people say that “chick flicks” are sentimental, but any war movie about army buddies has just as much, if not more mushiness).

I see now why poor Archie had to be killed off in the movies. They can’t be the Three Musketeers because Horatio’s a leader, not a team mate. He’s too forceful and dynamic a personality ( I think he probably did push Sawyer; he’s clear-sighted and objective enough to see that Sawyer needed to be removed from command, and I think he’s reckless enough to do it, if it meant the good of the crew and the ship).

As for poor Maria, I pity the woman (at the moment). She’s poor and plain, lives with a horrible mother, and is basically a workhorse. Horatio’s probably the first person in her life to treat her like a human being with feelings, so no wonder she falls head over heels for him. And Horatio, for all his nautical skill, is pretty stupid when it comes to people, and is exactly the kind of guy who would propose to a girl just be nice. Idiot. I kept yelling at him that you don’t marry someone just because you feel sorry for them and you’re lonely, but did he listen?

Ironically, the most suspenseful part of the book for me was the card game with Admiral Parry in Portsmouth. I’d already seen the movies and knew how the battles would turn out, but card games can be pretty dicey, especially when you pay your rent by hustling people at whist.

Favorite scene was probably when Bush is wounded in battle and Horatio rushes to his side:

“Bush! Bush!” That was Horblower’s voice, pleading and tender. “Bush, please, speak to me.”

Which they totally messed up in the movie, they had Styles run to Bush’s aid, and missed a great opportunity for Ioan Gruffud to actually show some emotion, since he usually has to be the stoic officer of His Majesty’s Navy. Horblower’s such a great character, I love him dearly but he drives me crazy too, he’s so freaking uptight and neurotic.