strange fire

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

Finished (big fat spoilers) July 29, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 3:35 pm

Wow. 10 minutes after I finished it and even though my mind’s still reeling (DUMBLEDORE!! SNAPE!!! OMG!!) I’m already speculating.

I can’t believe that Snape is actually a Death Eater. He’s still a double-agent, I’m convinced. Dumbledore’s death is the Order sacrificing their queen. I’m going with the theory that Snape must kill Dumbledore because Dumbledore ordered him to; they’re both talented Legilimens, after all. Was not expecting him to be the Half-Blood Prince, however.

Wow. Just, wow. Must get back to reading internet discussions full of wild theories and speculations.

 

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: progress report July 28, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 4:21 pm

[If you don’t want to be spoiled for a romantic sub-plot everybody’s figured out already anyway, skip this post]

You know, someday, when I’m independently wealthy, living in my beautifully restored Georgian home, I’m going to have a gorgeous library. Something along the lines of the Beast’s library in the Disney movie. Floor to ceiling bookcases; rich, luxurious rugs; window seats; a handsome fireplace; cozy chairs and sofas. Tastefully arranged flowers on the end-tables, I think. Leather bound volumes on the shelves.

The one thing this library will absolutely NOT contain is a telephone.

Because every time–every single time–I’m reading a Harry Potter book, I’m interrupted at crucial moments by the goddamn phone. It’s jinxed, I swear to god. The universe does not want me to finish this book. I’m sitting there, blissfully enjoying chapter 24, Harry’s just got out of detention with Snape (who I think is acting as a double agent for the Order of the Phoenix), Gryffindor’s just won the Quidditch cup, here comes Ginny and just as they’re about to finally, finally kiss–the phone rings.

But wait, it gets better: there’s no one there on the line.

The first time I get to read their first kiss. Ruined forever. And for no. good. reason! It’s not even a telemarketer!! The baby Jesus weeps in heaven, I tell you! It’s criminal!

::sigh:: There. I feel better. I think Half-Blood Prince is fantastic; better than Order of the Phoenix, which could have used an editor, I noticed that on my reread. This one’s tighter, more streamlined. It’s going too fast and too slow at the same time; in other words, I must-find-out-what-happens-absolutely-immediately-right-now, but I don’t want it to be over yet, I want to draw it out and savor it. I hate it when books do that. But I hate it even more when they don’t, cause then they’re just wasting my time.

(Seriously, how can you expect me to write about Barbara Kingsolver when Ron and Hermione haven’t gotten together yet and I haven’t even found out the identity of the Half-Blood Prince?)

 

the best thing you’ve ever done for me/is to help me take my life less seriously/it’s only life after all July 27, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 1:05 pm

Went to the library this morning to pick up some music I requested; I’m determined to realize my lifelong dream of The Ultimate Shakespeare Mix CD. Think about it; a CD full of the bard’s songs and poetry set to music. I’ve got everyone from Loreena McKennitt to John Williams to Ralph Vaughn Williams lined up. Unfortunately that only gives me 7 0r 8 tracks; and unless I want to fill up the rest with British counter-tenors (who give me the screaming meemies. I HATE counter tenors. They’re goddamn fucking creepy, I tell you), I’ll have to do quite a bit of digging.
Anyway, I wandered over and browsed through the CDs and picked up an Indigo Girls retrospective best-of album thing. I’ve had a distantly polite relationship with Amy and Emily most of my life. I first heard them, believe it or not, in a religion class at my Catholic girls school (it’s so ironic I think my head might explode). My teacher, who’s name escapes me, used to have each of us choose a song for us to reflect on in the context of whatever catechism lesson they were pushing on us at the time. She liked to play the Indigo Girls “Secure Yourself” a lot.
Now I bet this woman had no idea that Amy and Emily were, you know, like that, and not actually pleasant Christian folkies who were just very close friends. She was a Very Nice Person, you know the kind. She always wore pennyloafers and her socks never, ever failed to match her cable knit sweaters, which tended to be school bus yellow or shocking turquoise. (Katie, do you remember her? What the hell was her name?) “Secure Yourself” has the word “heaven” in the refrain, so I guess she felt that was all she needed to hear. Clearly, any music she liked was immediately judged to be Majorly Uncool. Ain’t no way I was going to listen to it.
I later learned about the Indigo Girls progressive radical politics, but it still made me think of that religion teacher and woozy soporific Christian “rock.” Ever listen to that stuff? I had to my entire sophomore year of college; my ride on breaks was a cousin, a Bible Study vet. It’s full of really, really bad music and sublimated, repressed sexuality twisted around into gooey lyrics about Jeezus. It’s freaky stuff, let me tell you.
Anyway, after I did the whole coming out thing (fun times), I associated the Indigo Girls with flannel wearing dykes a generation or two older than me who looked like my mom and had kids and mortgages and while that’s nice, it’s not really anything I connected with. Plus, it’s such a cliche. It’s like a lesbian qualification test, you must love the Indigo Girls, especially if you’re a lesbian of a particular generation, just like you must also love Ani Difranco if you’re my age (I don’t).
So anyway, I picked up this album, and while I don’t think I’ll be burning it, I might copy a few tracks. I like them better than Ani Difranco, but not nearly as well as I like Dar Williams or Gillian Welch when it comes to women with acoustic guitars. Still, I can see why Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival is always packed with thousands of topless dykes who know every single word to “Closer to Fine”

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains
There’s more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine

Cause it’s a damn good song. I guess we’re okay now, me and the Indigo Girls. Friendly. I can see the huge appeal they have. The world can always use more queer female radical music duos.
Yet more irony: Corny Religion Teacher also introduced me to Joan Osborne. She loved that whole “what if God was one of us” song. Which is not really her best song, IMHO. My relationship with Joan was quite different from the Indigo Girls. My sister had the tape Relish and I was kind of obsessed with it for a while there. I’d never heard a woman sing bluesy-rock like that, or with such raw sexuality. It was a baby dyke moment, to be sure, so thanks, Corny Religion Teacher. I guess I learned something from you after all.

I really am going to post about Barbara Kingsolver soon! Cause I know you’re all on tenterhooks!

 

seen on a bumper sticker July 25, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 4:33 pm

I’D RATHER BE READING JANE AUSTEN.

So true. Must have. Maybe I’ll screen print it onto a t-shirt. Finished up Love and Freindship in the Juvenelia; I hereby bestow it with The Best. Death Scene. Ever. Award.

“My beloved Laura (said she to me a few Hours before she died) take warning from my unhappy End and avoid the imprudent conduct which had occasioned it… Beware of fainting-fits… Though at the time they may be refreshing and agreeable, yet beleive me they will in the end, if too often repeated and at improper seasons, prove destructive to your Constitution… My fate will teach you this… I die a Martyr to my greif for the loss of Augustus… One fatal swoon has cost me my Life… Beware of swoons, Dear Laura… A frenzy fit is not one quarter so pernicious; it is an exercise to the Body and if not too violent, is, I dare say, conducive to Health in its consequences — Run mad as often as you chuse; but do not faint –“

Been working on a post about Barbara Kingsolver forever; will get around to posting it one of these days.

(Seem to have taken to dropping personal pronouns and articles in manner of Bridget Jones or similar. Interesting, as have not read said Diary for several years).

 

I am officially a new age hippie freak July 21, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 7:32 pm

I got all excited this morning because I had a chance to clean the bathrooms with environmentally friendly baking soda recipes involving vinegar.

It’s only a matter of time before I start smelling of patchouli and walk around sporting white girl dreds and tie dye.

Actual book post coming up. Really!

 

" ‘Scuse me, can I be excused? I seem to have the plague…" July 19, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 7:49 pm

And later on, when we become more mature, we have that line, where if you’re talking to someone, getting on well, you can say that great line, “Do you want a cup of coffee?” And if they go, “Ah… yeah, okay,” then sex is on, yeah? That’s the unwritten rule. Doesn’t always work. If the President of Burundi says, “Would you like a cup of coffee,” you’re not supposed to go, “Oh, I’m in here!”
“And how do you take it?”
“Anywhere I can find it big boy! Oh, just a cup of coffee? All right… I thought you meant ‘Do you want a cup of coffee!’ So you’re from Burundi, are you? Fantastic! Yeah! No, I know, it’s near Zaire, isn’t it? Near Tanzania, yeah. Yeah. No, I learned them all when I had chicken pox. I have to go now, ‘cause my grandmother’s on fire…”
But normally it does work as long as you keep the chat sexy. “Yes, I like my coffee hot and strong. Like I like my women! Hot and strong… With a spoon in them. Ah, the curve of the spoon, the curve of your breast! I like to run the spoon ( talking with the tongue sticking out ) across my lips…” Then you’re pretty close, yeah?

Dress to Kill

Yeah, so my life has started resembling an Eddie Izzard routine. Which, you know, is amusing, but since I’m not an English transvestite comedian (he looks way better in fishnets and lipstick than I do), is also rather unfortunate.

I hate it when it turns out to really be “just coffee.” Or, in this case, “just dinner and a movie.”

Right. So. Dyke bars and anonymous sex it is, then!

 

Don’t let the muggles get you down. July 15, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 1:19 pm

–Ron Weasley, Chapter One: “Owl Post”, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I’ve had Harry Potter on the brain, just like every other bookish geek in the universe. My sister has her copy of The Half-Blood Prince ordered, and since we share our HP books (it’s cheaper that way), I’m going to be re-reading The Order of the Phoenix in the meantime. Mags at Tilneys and Trapdoors posted about taking flak for being an adult fan of Harry Potter (some douchebag wrote an op-ed calling HP “simplistic fairy tales”). I commented

Whether the Harry Potter books are Great Literature is a matter of debate that only time will settle, but they’re damn good. And clearly Mr. Stein knows nothing about fairy tales beyond Disney movies. Fairy tales are complex, enigmatic, and dark, full of archetypes and surrealism. They aren’t simple. They’re a culture’s subconcious dreaming, and every society has them.

The tendency to dismiss Harry Potter as “kid’s stuff” and criticize adult fans of it is just part of a larger trend of disparaging fantasy. Residual effects of the Enlightenment and all that Cartesian rationalism, I guess, combined with our dour Puritan heritage. Fantasy isn’t “serious.” It’s escapism, childish, wishful-thinking, immature. Adults who read fantasy, who take it as real art, are seen as foolish. You might as well still believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy. Genre fiction is always the bastard child of the literary world, especially fantasy, never mind the fact that some of the classics are fantasy to the bone. Alice in Wonderland, anyone? Animal Farm? The Divine Comedy? How about the Iliad and the Oddessy? I was at The Dan Brown Wholesale Warehouse the other day, also known as the mall bookstore, they had Ray Bradbury shelved in both Science Fiction and Literature. Fahrenheit 451 is Literature; The Martian Chronicles is Sci-Fi. It can’t be literature if it involves aliens. The Lord of the Rings is the only fantasy that’s taken seriously by the mainstream, and only because the movies were a success. The fact that it’s written by an Oxford don (as opposed to a single mom on welfare) helps quite a bit I imagine. Not to mention the fact that it’s about That Big Important Manly Subject, Warfare. Massive amounts of violence are always an indication of Serious Art. We just kind of over look the bloated length, meandering plot, over-wrought prose, and data-dumps of arcane minutiae (and I’m a fan of the books).
Fairy tales are even further marginalized. Most people are only familiar with bowlderized Disney versions and the sexist appropriations by male writers like Charles Perrault and the Grimm brothers. The older versions more often resemble horror movies than Victorian morality lessons. And they’re traditionally the province of women, told and retold by illiterate poor and working class women maintaining an oral tradition. I first heard them that way; my parents never read to me as a child, that I can remember. My mother would send me to sleep by playing a cassette tape of a woman reading the classic stories. I don’t think she ever actually listened to that tape, because if she had she wouldn’t have let her nightmare-prone daughter near it. I fell asleep listening to the evil stepmother in Snow White dance herself to death in red-hot iron shoes, to the prince in Rapunzel having his eyes pierced with thorns, the step-sisters in Cinderella cutting off their toes and heels, Rumpelstiltskin tearing himself in two in a fit of rage. There’s a whole obscure field of modern writers who do wierd and wonderful things with fairy tales, exploring everything your A-List Boring Author of Serious Fiction writes about, but nobody really pays any attention.
Which is why I love the fact that everybody pays attention to Harry Potter, even those who hate or fear it (and what else is fundamentalist condemnation of the books but a display of pure fear). I love the media circus, the internet sub-culture of gossip and speculation and fan-fiction, and even, dare I say it, the merchandizing. Since when does the front page of a newspaper report on the publication of the next installment of a kid’s fantasy series? I love the communal feeling of reading the series. Reading is such an isolated, individual experience, most of the time. But here it’s a cultural day-dream that everybody can participate in, from kids too young for the books to elderly folks. The excitement and anticipation is infectious. It makes me think of Dickens serializing The Old Curiosity Shop. People would swarm the docks of New York City when they shipped in the British magazine with its monthly installment, desperate to find out if Little Nell dies in this issue. The nay-sayers are missing the point. My beloved A.S. Byatt wrote an op-ed a few years ago lamenting that everybody was reading J. K. Rowling instead of the arguably superior Diana Wynne Jones. But if J.K. Rowling isn’t a great writer (and I think she is), so what? The kids reading Harry Potter today will get to Diana Wynne Jones eventually. They’ll find their way to C.S. Lewis, and Lewis Carroll, and Lloyd Alexander, Roald Dahl and Patricia McKillip on their own, once Harry has hooked them on the addiction of reading. I spent most of my childhood and pre-pubescent days reading Marguerite Henry and The Baby-Sitters Club, and it didn’t melt my brain. Most people don’t start off reading Austen and Tolstoy; you got to find your way there on your own.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get back to Harry and Co.