Thursday, October 22, 2015

Attempting a Change In Habits

I know. I know. I did it again. I was gone forever, popped back in with *awesome* news, and was all 'gushy gushy' and then I disappeared.

Besides the whole contract excitement, life has been super busy recently. Not bad busy, just super busy. I went to Sirens (of course) and for the first time ever, my sister aka Stella Luna, went with me!!! She had a great time, especially when our super amazing and awesome/friend/basically family Hilary, whom I go and stay with (along with her daughters) and camp with, was able to stop by, sneaking into the hotel lobby to surprise ambush Stella Luna and I for a day of adventure visiting the elk rut in Estes CO. All in all, it was a grand trip.

Since we've been back from Sirens, I've had more developments with my upcoming book. I don't want to give away too much, but suffice to say I have, thus far, been immensely blessed throughout this process. Immensely. I can't say that enough. Thank you for everything so far, and everything to come in the future, Stephanie, and the Clean Reads team!!!

I've also been dealing with... stuff I won't get into because, TMI, and while I don't care what people know, I don't want to gross anyone out. I'll leave you with one word to google: endometriosis (possibly, working on diagnosis now) and this ominous threat that my Mother has often (jokingly) used on my father 'You know what'll happen if you're not a good boy? When you die, you'll come back here as a woman!' Which, I should make clear, my Mom loves being a woman, and my Dad is not one of those 'Oh, get over your discomfort, already.' type of guys when it comes to repro stuff, but this is a longstanding joke, and one to which he always responds by saying 'No, I'm good. I'll leave the hard stuff to the people who can handle it.' I love my parents.

On top of all that, I've also been working on two WIPs, one a prequel to CATSKIN, the other an entirely new endeavor, adult fantasy, which was born of several conversations that took place at Sirens. Only at Sirens can you come out of things with ideas based off an agent who wishes she'd see more 'older women' protagonists, and musings over just *why* there is such a stigma in regard to 'crazy cat women' and why they're never considered to be capable women.

So, with life not really getting any slower, but the importance of having an online presence greater than ever, I've decided to try actually scheduling blog posts, and, after the fashion of Kristin Cashore, structuring them to be more like glimpses into how things are going, with sprinkled bits of information about everything, but not necessarily a single theme that requires the entire post. Make sense? We'll see!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Big Book News!!! After a Rather Long Absence....

Well, I'm writing a post I've wondered sometimes - over the years - if I would ever write. I'm absolutely ecstatic to announce that my novel Catskin has been contracted for publication by Clean Reads, formerly Astraea Press! *And there was much rejoicing*

Anyone who's friends with me on Facebook or follows my blog will know that I've always envisioned myself as having an 'old school' sort of route to publication, agent first, then publishing, all that. However, the truth is, I have an excellent support system of family who are knowledgable in meaningful ways (IT brother in-law, etc.) and two amazing critique partners, Christi Corbett and Margo Kelly. Christi is a Clean Reads author herself, so I've gotten to watch her own journey to publication with them, which provided me with a wonderful insight into how they work, and how they care about their authors, and their authors' careers. I trust them. So I submitted to them, and subsequently, I've signed a contract with them. *pinches self to check that this is real*

After a long string of 'almost' rejections (and some amazing feedback from one agent, without which Catskin would not be the book it is now) I took a step back and looked at my life, and realized that basically, I was doing what I've often joked about, and likened to Drew Barrymore's Never Been Kissed prom scene. I was standing on a curb holding a sign that said 'Please believe in me and my writing' and waiting there, frozen, until someone came along who would, and who would then take me across the street, where we would meet someone else to say they believed in me and my writing and help me publish a book, and introduce me to more people, and so on and so forth. I was waiting, convinced that I needed to meet all of these people in a specific order, when really, I was perfectly capable of crossing the street and meeting all kinds of people, in call kinds of order, all on my own.

Don't get me wrong, I'd still love an agent, and might well get one in the future. But the thing is, I was waiting to start a journey because I'd convinced myself that I had to start it in a specific way. This is something Christi and I have talked about before. I just needed to get to a place where I could embrace 'stepping out into traffic' to begin the journey on my own. And here I am.

If you haven't heard of Clean Reads, here are a few links. Check them and their authors out! Maybe buy a few books while you're there...

Their website can be found here.

Their Publisher's Marketplace info can be found here.

Predators and Editors readers voted them one of the top E-publishers here.

And here's an interview with Stephanie Taylor, founder of Clean Reads, from 2011. Some of the information is dated, but it'll give you a great overview of what their about.

In a world of 'edgy' fiction, wherein you'll find every curse word known to society and more varieties of sex than you could ever imagine, Clean Reads provides readers with great stories without all the cursing and sex. Now, I come from a long line of Navy folk, with potty mouths the likes of which would make landlubbers melt into their shoes, and I'm not one to shy away from sex, either. However, I do believe strongly that it's becoming more a 'thing' to have in books, than it is a part of a book. When I look back at the books I still love years on, books that I still reread, most of them do not, in fact, have a lot of cussing in them (besides Stephen King:) nor do they have gratuitous sex. It's perfectly fine to have those things in books, but it's also very nice to have great stories without the cussing and sex.

Catskin, for example, naturally didn't have a ton of cursing, and no sex. That's just how it came out of me. However more than once, it was suggested that I 'dirty it up' a little with love triangles (that were unneeded) or language to 'make it more realistic' which is something that really bothered me. A good story doesn't need these things unless they add to the story. There are thousands of amazing people out there who don't cuss, and they're very real. I've got friends who write erotica. I've read plenty of erotica. Same with cussy books. There are some very cussy characters whom I love. I'll always stand by the right to cuss! However, it's just not always needed. And when I pick up books off the shelf and encounter a plethora of curse words within the first few pages, well, they aren't books I want my niece reading, and while she's just five, she's already had Tolkien, among others read to her, and she's going to be a voracious reader. I want books that she can read, and enjoy, and remember at a young age, without having to explain what curse words mean, or vetting the books for sex scenes.

So, here we are. I have a contract to publish a book. (!!!) I'll post more as timelines are firmed up, but sometime in 2016, summerish, Catskin will be here!

Okay, back to pinching myself to make sure this is real...

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Author Page! And Other Stuff...

I officially made and official Author Page over on Facebook. I'm not sure this was the right thing to do, since I don't have any books out (besides the poetry anthology, Poetry Pact 2011, which you can buy here, if you like poetry. It's modest, but has come great poets (not me) involved, and poems that range from complex to Byron and Frost-type (me) and is a fun read) out but since so many submissions ask about Author pages and how many followers one has, and so on and so forth, I thought I ought to have an official page. At the very least, I can try to start accruing followers and such. If you're feeling kindly, please go here, and follow me.

The 'other stuff' is mostly just musing about how difficult it is to keep writing sometimes. Not difficult as in, you've got writer's block, or anything like that, but difficult as in, you've got so many stories in your head that want to be written, but you don't know which one should be the next one. There are so many options here, and I find myself flickering back and forth between several. Currently, it's between A Life Once Borrowed, which is a contemporary (with magical elements, though just how much magical elements is still unclear) inspired by the Scottish ballad, The Daemon Lover, and a completely new WIP, tentatively titled The Weight of a Shadow, which is much more fantasy. I'm also continuing to plug along with the Castalia memoir, and the super secret project.

Also, it's always interesting to find out that you were walking around with an injury you didn't know you had. Since I'm now off the blood thinners, I've finally gone to PT for what we thought was rhomboid pain, which has been causing me an increasing number of severe headaches. After initial treatment of the rhomboid and neck issue my PT guy traced the origin of the trouble back to a lump that I've had for about seven years, since a tragically clumsy 'almost' fall in the shower. Turns out that lump, is not one, but two torn muscles, which have subsequently scared and developed adhesions to the structures around them. Nice. On the upside, at least we discovered this now, as opposed to five or ten years from now, at which point, there might not be a way to fix things. And my shoulder is healing. I'll have PT for another couple of weeks but already the torn area is beginning to resolve and the lump is less than half the size it was.

And, because life is always better with old lady cats, here's a random photo of Face, who often sits with me while I'm writing. A fitting copilot when I'm working on the Castalia memoir. 17 years young, she is. And still death to any mouse she sees, as well as random feet.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

For the Betterment of Oneself.

A friend of mine shared the file below on Facebook tonight, and I thought I'd take a brief moment to pass it on. Not all of these apply to me, but enough of them do, that I'm going to print it out and carry it around with me so that when I need a moment, I can take it and reflect on it. Selflessness is a wonderful, WONDERFUL thing, but sometimes, it's vital that you take care of yourself first, and worry about everything around you second. So, here it is!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

She had a skittish soul, that girl with the faraway eyes...

The title is part of the first line of one of my WIPs. Specifically, the memoir I'm muddling through about Castalia, where I worked for thirteen years, and would still be, were that an option. I have so much to say about that period in my life, and yet each sentence is wrought of blood, extricated from my mind like a pale splinter of bone being pulled free from flesh and muscle, each spell spent working on it an exhausting and painful bout of self-inflicted wounds.

I'm in a maelstrom of life right now. Not because bad things are happening, but because many things are happening, but happening around me, while I'm secluded from them, even though I want to be a part of them so very badly. I am trapped inside a glass ball, tossed from wave to wave, caught by the storming winds, and pulled by the currents, yet completely unable to influence my own movements in any manner.

I know, so Eeyore, so emo, such a downer. I don't mean to be, and I'm not depressed.

More, I simply feel disconnected. Friends have books coming out (!) some have second books coming out (!!!) others have gotten agents (!) In the non-writing world cousins have had babies (*squee*) best friends have had babies (*more squeeing*) people have gotten married, other people have died. Everyone is doing things, going places. Meanwhile, I float in my sea-tossed glass, still writing, still fixated on that one goal of attaining an agent or a publishing deal. I don't begrudge the ships of friends, the schooners, and galleons, the sleek yachts or catamarans of other's lives setting off on different courses, but the distance between us has never yawned wider. They ride currents of wind and air, choosing their route with rudders and sails, while I bob at the mercy of the elements, unable to even cobble a ship together, never mind a process of steering it.

My cage is only made of glass. If I struck it, it would shatter. But that would leave me exposed to the sea without any means of staying afloat, so for now, I keep my hands fisted at my sides, hold all my weapons, the chafing frustrations, and irascible truths, that could fracture the insubstantial globe close against me, where they scrape and cut away at my calloused insides, but cannot damage the fragile cage. And I wait, scribbling stories across my own skin, putting them where I can never forget their sound, where they might safely wait until they can finally be recited within the sheltering glow of the campfires of others' minds. Those stories are all that matters, all that will be left once the body they're written on has dried an turned to dust, their passages impermeable to decay.

Should my glass some day finally be thrown onto the rocks of a seaside town, or hauled up in the belly of a fisherman's net, at least there will be stories inside it, if nothing else. Indelible traces of the bones and skin that made them so long before. Stories that will be heard and told and retold and reformed and passed from one mouth to another ear, to be regurgitated yet again in yet a new body. Immortality, by its truest definition, gained by accident through the act of creation.

So, here I bob and sink, and rise and fall, contained, and railing against the sphere around me while at the same time I resist doing anything to escape my cage. For now, I wait. And write. Always, I write.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

My Response to the Criminal District Attorney's Office of Austin County's Press Release

An Open Letter to the Criminal District Attorney’s Office, Austin County,

Congratulations. You have gloriously failed Tiger, along with the tens of thousands of humans, and hundreds of thousands of abused animals who were watching you with the earnest hope that a rational, and public champion for the prevention of cruelty to animals had finally stepped forward. Instead, you have proven, yet again, that those in authority are most often in that position because they’ve chosen to take the easy route whenever faced with an obstacle. In a state that leads the Nation in criminal executions, you decided that you couldn’t be bothered to mount a thorough prosecution against a woman for inhumanely butchering the beloved pet of a local family.
I’m not talking about the Grand Jury’s failure to indict Kristen Lindsey . I’m talking about the fact that you, the Criminal District Attorney of Austin County, did not provide the Grand Jury with enough evidence to indict Kristen Lindsey- likely knowing that the wrath of the public would fall on the Grand Jury, rather than your office. I am not a lawyer, I am not an expert on legal matters, but I understand this game of public appearances, and I haven’t been fooled by your attempt at diversion. There was no lack of evidence in this deplorable - and very blatant - situation of animal cruelty. Rather, there was, decidedly, a lack of effort put forth to gather, and present that evidence. If the Criminal District Attorney’s Office chose to collect the evidence required to gain an indictment of Lindsey by the Grand Jury, they would have obtained an indictment. Instead, the Criminal District Attorney of Austin County shuffled a few papers, requested more time for gathering evidence in order to convince the public that they were applying sufficient attention to the matter, and then, in actuality, did nothing.
In your press release, you stated that while you subpoenaed Lindsey’s Facebook account, it was unsuccessful because the account had been deleted. Just to make you aware, this is the twenty-first century, and nothing on the internet is ever truly deleted. Erased from one location, maybe, but eradicated from existence? Never. If that had been a photograph of child trafficking, or pornography, I guarantee you, that a ‘deleted account’ would serve as nothing but a speed bump for you on your way to justice. I did not realize that simply deleting posts on Facebook is sufficient to stop the authorities from ever successfully finding evidence of a crime. Someone should let the Federal Bureau of Investigation know that they’re wasting tens of millions of tax dollars on their Cybercrime Division.
You also stated in regard to Lindsey’s Facebook photograph, and caption that “Evidence is insufficient, based on the online photograph alone, to determine whether the animal was killed in a cruel manner,” and then you cited the American Veterinary Medical Association’s guidelines on humane euthanasia, again, I suspect, just to prove that you’ve ‘researched’ the matter. Or that some intern in your office has ‘researched’ it, at least enough to sound like you cared. But as your own citation reveals your complete ignorance - or your determination to just make the subject ‘go away’, I can’t decide which - let us examine these AVMA guidelines that you proudly hailed as proof that you couldn’t conclude from a single photograph that Tiger was inhumanely killed.

Here is what you said in your press release, and I quote:

‘First, the American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines state that physical methods of killing animals such as a gunshot or bolt to the head can be humane when done correctly. (A.V.M.A. Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals, 2013 Ed., at 11-12). When performed properly, the animal may exhibit involuntary movements but is unaware and unable to experience pain. (A.V.M.A. Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals, 2013 Ed., at 16). Evidence is insufficient, based on the online photograph alone, to determine whether the animal was killed in a cruel manner.’

I’m not going to properly cite the reference, I’m simply going to copy and paste the entire thing. Here is the full passage in regard to humanely dispatching animals by physical methods:

‘Physical methods of euthanasia include captive bolt, gunshot, cervical dislocation, decapitation, electrocution, focused beam microwave irradiation, thoracic compression, exsanguination, maceration, stunning, and pithing. When properly used by skilled personnel with well-maintained equipment, physical methods of euthanasia may result in less fear and anxiety and be more rapid, painless, humane, and practical than other forms of euthanasia. Exsanguination, stunning, and pithing are not recommended as a sole means of euthanasia, but may be considered as adjuncts to other agents or methods.
Some consider physical methods of euthanasia aesthetically displeasing. There are occasions, however, when what is perceived as aesthetic and what is most humane are in conflict. Despite their aesthetic challenges, in certain situations physical methods may be the most appropriate choice for euthanasia and rapid relief of pain and suffering. Personnel using physical methods of euthanasia must be well trained and monitored for each type of physical method performed to ensure euthanasia is conducted appropriately. They must also be sensitive to the aesthetic implications of the method and convey to onlookers what they should expect to observe when at all possible.
Since most physical methods involve trauma, there is inherent risk for animals and people. If the method is not performed correctly, personnel may be injured or the animal may not be effectively euthanized; personnel skill and experience are essential. Inexperienced persons should be trained by experienced persons and should practice on euthanized animals or anesthetized animals to be euthanized until they are proficient in performing the method properly and humanely. After the method has been applied, death must be confirmed before disposal of the remains.
Penetrating captive bolts have been used for euthanasia of ruminants, horses, swine, laboratory rabbits, and dogs.331 Their mode of action is concussion and trauma to the cerebral hemisphere and brainstem.48,332,333 Adequate restraint is important to ensure proper placement of captive bolts. A cerebral hemisphere and the brainstem must be sufficiently disrupted by the projectile to induce sudden loss of consciousness and subsequent death. Appropriate placement of captive bolts for various species has been described.130,332–335 Signs of effective captive bolt penetration and death are immediate collapse and a several-second period of tetanic spasm, followed by slow hind limb movements of increasing frequency.46,47 The corneal reflex must be absent and the eyes must open into a wide blank stare and not be rotated.45
There are two types of penetrating captive bolts: a regular penetrating captive bolt and an air injection penetrating captive bolt. In both cases, the bolts penetrate the brain. In the air injection penetrating captive bolt, air under high pressure is injected through the bolt into the brain to increase the extent of tissue destruction. Powder-activated guns that use the traditional captive bolt are available in 9 mm, .22 caliber, and .25 caliber.130 Captive bolt guns powered by com- pressed air (pneumatic) are also available in regular and air injection types. All captive bolt guns require careful maintenance and cleaning after each day of use. Lack of maintenance is a major cause of captive bolt gun failure for both powder-activated and pneumatic captive bolt guns.101 Cartridges for powder-activated captive bolt guns must be stored in a dry location because damp cartridges will reduce effectiveness.336
Advantages—(1) Both regular and air injection penetrating captive bolts may be used effectively for euthanasia of animals in research facilities and on the farm, when the use of drugs for this purpose is inappropriate or impractical. (2) They do not chemically contaminate tissues.
Disadvantages—(1) Euthanasia by captive bolt can be aesthetically displeasing. (2) Death may not occur if equipment is not maintained and used properly. (3) The air injection captive bolt must never be used on ruminants that will be used for food because of concerns about contamination of meat with specified risk materials (neurologic tissue). (4) Because the penetrating captive bolt is destructive, brain tissue may not be able to be examined for evidence of rabies infection or chronic wasting disease.
General recommendations—Use of the penetrating captive bolt is acceptable with conditions and is a practical method of euthanasia for horses, ruminants, and swine. To ensure death, it is recommended that animals be immediately exsanguinated or pithed (see adjunctive methods) unless a powerful captive bolt gun de- signed for euthanasia is used. These guns have recently become available and reduce the need to apply an adjunctive method. Ruminants used for food should not be pithed to avoid contamination of the carcass with specified risk materials. Captive bolt guns used for larger species must have an extended bolt.

Well then. That’s quite a bit of information you didn’t offer the public, either because you didn’t think it was relevant, or because you didn’t want to draw attention to it. Since you saw fit in your press release to pick out a single fragment of information from within a plethora of it, I’m going to do the same thing here, by highlighting just a few other points.

  • Penetrating captive bolts have been used for euthanasia of ruminants, horses, swine, laboratory rabbits, and dogs.
  • Adequate restraint is important to ensure proper placement of captive bolts.
  • Inexperienced persons should be trained by experienced persons and should practice on euthanized animals or anesthetized animals to be euthanized until they are proficient in performing the method properly and humanely.
  • Because the penetrating captive bolt is destructive, brain tissue may not be able to be examined for evidence of rabies infection or chronic wasting disease.

Nowhere in the section regarding physical methods of euthanasia does the AVMA state that either penetrating captive bolts, or non-penetrating captive bolts are considered a humane method of euthanasia for cats. On top of that, a penetrating captive bolt is a self-contained unit, from which a bolt is expelled into the skull and brain of an animal, and then retracted into the unit. The photo Lindsey posted of herself clearly shows a full length arrow protruding from both the front and the back of the cat’s head, and she herself proclaimed it a ‘bow kill’. Not a bolt kill. The perpetrator herself announced that she was using a bow, not a AVMA recognized method of euthanasia.
If the cat was feral, as Lindsey has stated multiple times she believed it to be, it’s not possible for the animal to have been restrained at the time of ‘euthanasia’ in order to assure that it was quickly and humanely killed.
Unless Lindsey has been secretly euthanizing animals repeatedly with a penetrating captive bolt, she is not experienced, and thus is outside the AVMA guidelines on the face of it, never mind the fact that Tiger was not killed with an approved bolt gun, but a bow and arrow.
And lastly, there have been references to the fact that Lindsey thought Tiger was feral and was afraid the cat was rabid, and The Austin Country Sherrif's Office said that they ‘received an unsworn hearsay report that Lindsey was protecting her pets from a 'potentially rabid stray cat’. Interesting, considering that the AVMA guidelines clearly state that penetrating captive bolt euthanasia can damage the brain, making it impossible to determine whether or not the euthanized animal had rabies. One would think that a vet, of all people, would know this, and would take care not to damage the animal’s brain. So was Tiger ‘feral’ and unwanted, or ‘rabid’ and endangering Lindsey’s other animals? Or was he, in fact, just a pet she thought she’d kill for fun?
Finally, we have the matter of proving that the cat in the photograph is, in fact, Tiger, the missing pet. Horses can be positively identified by nothing more than trichoglyphs (whorls) in their hair growth. I find it impossible to believe that the District Attorney’s office was unable to make even a rational argument for identification of the cat in the photograph. If the photo depicted a dead human, the lack of a body would not result in a ‘sorry, we tried’ shrug. That Tiger didn’t happen to be wearing a neon sign proclaiming his name and the fact that he was owned does not mean he was a stray. The striations of a tabby cat are not unlike the fingerprints of a human. Individual Snow Leopards, Jaguars, Leopards, and Tigers can be identified on game cameras by their unique coat patterns. Similarly, whales can be identified by callosity patterns, scars, and fluke shapes. This is not bunk science, it’s actual science. Lindsey’s own photograph provides you with a full side view of Tiger, and Tiger’s owners can provide, and have provided, multiple full side views of Tiger while he was alive. Tiger can be identified as Tiger from the photo provided. It’s simply a matter of applying effort.
If they wanted to, the Criminal District Attorney’s Office of Austin County could indict a couch cushion under the charge of aiding and abetting the delinquency of a minor who gained weight and developed diabetes. But would take some effort. And obviously, despite the continued scientific links between animal abuse and criminal activity, despite the tens of thousands of people calling for justice for Tiger, and straining for forward steps in the prosecution of animal cruelty in general, the Texas District Attorney felt that it had better things to do, and more important things to worry themselves over. Perhaps, for example, the next planned execution of a criminal who was caught, by tracking his movements online, and convicted of murdering someone without the victim’s body ever being recovered.
And the worst part about this - besides that Tiger is still dead, and Lindsey is still free and living her own life - is that the Criminal District Attorney’s Office thinks so very little of the intelligence of the public at large, and has so little in the way of courage that instead of simply stating that they would not seek charges against Lindsey, they dragged the matter to the Grand Jury without bothering to provide them with any evidence, and then merely claimed it wasn’t possible to gather that evidence. I’ve no doubt that you hoped the public would take their anger out on the Grand Jury, rather than the Criminal District Attorney who ‘attempted’ to have charges brought. A grievously spineless, and simultaneously pretentious action. It is my sincere hope that in the struggle against animal cruelty, the Texas District Attorney’s Office be remembered in perpetuum as an icon of what it is that we rail against in our fight.

The press release from the Texas District Attorney’s Office can be found here:

The AVMA guidelines for humane euthanasia can be read in full here:

To learn more about identifying animals by their coat patterns, whisker patterns and other patters see:

Monday, June 15, 2015

Obligatory Post...

I admit it. I'm writing this post, literally just so that I've written a post. I probably shouldn't bother. They tell me that having an ill-tended social platform is worse than not having one at all, but the truth is that I like blogger, and I want to be a part of it, but it's changing, and I'm changing, and 'there's always a fork in the road... at some point. And sometimes you have to go on one part of the fork and they gotta go on the other part of the fork. Or just down the back part of the fork while you go forward. And they're like, *sigh* Or they got a salad fork and you have one of the big dinner forks and you have longer to go but they're like done because that's it, they're stuck on a piece of food, that they *sigh* Theirs is a dessert fork or like one of those, you know small little shrimp forks or crab forks and you're trying to get out a crab. They're like that and you're over here jumping to the huge serving fork or something like that, or a ladle, you know.'

Still one of my favorite quotes ever. It's just so freaking true.

Anyway. I've been plugging away at writing, working on both a Beauty and the Beast retelling (are you really surprised I'm working on another one of those?) and a memoir, and a super secret project that we're not talking about publicly yet, because it's still in the itty bitty baby stages and no one wants to jinx anything, or count chickens before they're hatched. Other than that, I'm just treading water mentally and physically. More than ready to be off Coumadin, and ready to have been off it long enough to know that I'm not going to suffer any complications from coming off of it.

Not much else to say, so I'm going to leave this post short, and get back to plugging along on my writing. As another one of my favorite quotes goes 'Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!'

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Why Mad Max, Fury Road is Now My Favorite Movie of All Time, and Why Hollywood Needs to Take Notes From It.


I went with a group of friends to see Mad Max, Fury Road last night. Over the last year, my hopes in regard to the upcoming Mad Max movie had shifted from dubiously guarded, to ecstatically hopeful. By the time the movie arrived, I knew I was going to enjoy it. The question was simply, would I like it? Or would I love it?

The answer is a resounding I utterly adore Mad Max Fury Road to the end of all things.

There are so many areas of adoration to cover, that it would be almost impossible to get them all discussed, so for this post, I'm just going to focus on a huge factor that the rest of Hollywood has been floundering with of late. Women. For the last several weeks women in action movies has been the theme of numerous headlines, none of them good. Heroines have been undermined on posters, and in toys lines, they've been thrown under the bus due to their sex lives and written clean out of parts that are rightfully theirs.

If all the aforementioned bullshit plucks your nerve, then let me humbly suggest that you get your ass to the nearest theater and watch Mad Max Fury Road. Yes, it's a movie about Max Rockatansky. But it's also a movie that embraces women. I mean seriously, and honestly embraces them, without any reservation. Doubt me? Here's a small list (because I'm super tired, and I overworked myself today, so a list is easiest) highlighting the female embracement going on in Mad Max FR.

- Max is only one of the main characters, not *the* main character. He shares the podium equally with Furiosa.

- Furiosa and the Wives thoroughly beat Max's ass when they first meet each other. Not by luck, by brute strength. In fact, Furiosa would kill Max, if not for faulty shotgun shells (nice nod to Mad Max 2, there)

- Furiosa and the Wives save themselves. Repeatedly. Yes, Max is with them, and he's fighting as well, but the women hold their own, despite that one of the Wives is 8 months pregnant, and all of them have been kept as prisoners for at least the last several years of their lives, and have not allowed to do anything for themselves.

- Furiosa and/or the Wives save Max repeatedly. True, he saves them here and there as well, and Nux, the War Boy is not to be discounted, but the women do a huge amount of saving each other as well as saving both Max and Nux.

- Furiosa is first introduced to us as an Imperator. She is held in awe by all of the War Boys serving in Immortan Joe's army of 'half lifes'. A literal army of men view Imerator Furiosa with reverence and respect, and take orders from her without ever questioning her. So profound is their devotion to her as a leader, that when she drives her War Rig off course, abandoning her supposed run for a gasoline shipment, the War Boys with her don't immediately question her actions. Also, she does all the mechanics on her War Rig, she built it and she maintains it.

- At a pivotal moment, when it all hangs in the balance, and Max has already missed one shot (and only had two bullets to start with) he hands the gun to Furiosa, and tells her to take the shot, putting his faith in her without hesitation. She nails it perfectly.

- Once Max, Furiosa, the Wives and Nux are all on the same page, and have managed to escape (temporarily) the reach of Immortan Joe, the People Eater, and the Bullet Farmer, they discover that their destination is a place that no longer exists, but at the same time, they're reunited with people Furiosa grew up with. Who are all women.

- This is where we learn that Furiosa grew up among the Many Mothers, a group of all-female tribes. The Vuvalini are the last of these tribes, and though they regard Max and Nux with guarded acceptance, they readily welcome Furiosa and the Wives.

- When the lot of them eventually decide to return to the very Citadel they escaped from (in hopes of gaining control of it, since Immortan Joe and all of the War Boys are still after them) which means charging directly into their enemies, the Vuvalini readily join forces with them. To Nux and Max, this is the best chance they have. No one ever questions the decision, even though it means a group of maybe a dozen women (and two men) are going up against hundreds of male warriors.

- Through the ensuing battles, the women - Wives and Vuvalini alike - fight shoulder to shoulder with Max and Nux, just as powerfully as either man. In one instance, Furiosa actually catches a falling Max by the ankle with one (prosthetic) hand and drives while holding him upside down out one window. Oh, by the way, she's doing this during and after she's been viciously stabbed by an enemy and she never falters.

- Mad Max doesn't kill the ultimate bad guy, Immortan Joe. Though he does kill the two side-kick-type baddies (the People Eater, and the Bullet Farmer, whom Furiosa had already blinded with her perfect shot) It is Furiosa, with the help of the Wives, who destroys Immortan Joe, and subsequently end the war.

So, there you have it. There is virtually no part of Mad Max, Fury Road that doesn't utterly and unfailingly embrace women and all of their strengths. Why the rest of Hollywood can't do this, I don't know. But if you want to see the most badass, high octane, action packed, gender equal movie hitting the big screen this year, I suggest you go see Mad Max, Fury Road.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Last Of The Thunderbirds

It happened again. The Henni Penni killer returned last night and took Woebegone. Not literally, but it killed him.

It was easier, in some ways, this time, to find the aftermath. Woebegone was so very old (13ish) and he couldn't walk much, only hobbilty-hop from resting place to resting place. Most people would have put him down already, but he was so happy with Henni, who gave him purpose, and provoked sun-worshiping crows from him on a regular basis. Since finding Henni yesterday, he was subdued, withdrawn. I don't know if it was simply the sudden unexpected solitude, or if he possessed some sense of failure at having been unable to protect her. After all, Woebegone was a battle-ax of a rooster, who once tore a spur clean off fighting with a cat (who was just examining them, not stalking) through the fence of the chicken pen.

He was sleeping when it happened last night, and these days, he slept with the sort of utter detachment reserved for the very young, and the very old. There is no indication that he suffered. He was, I suspect, glad to meet Lord Death, just as most warriors of legend are, choosing that over a continued half-life of crippled existence. The wee chick who couldn't even get out of his own egg without help did, in the end live longer than any of his contemporaries.

I plan on setting a trap tonight, and if I'm successful in catching the chicken killer, I suspect that it will meet a similar fate itself. Not out of revenge. I don't begrudge anything the right to live, but out of protection of the other animals I look after. Whatever this animal is (raccoon/weasel/opossum(doubtful)) it's been here three nights, leaving the tray I feed the ferals on in disarray the first night, killing Henni the second, and killing Woebegone the third. The only thing left for it to do is get into the outside cat cage (where there is a supply of dry food in their bowl) and possibly harm or kill one of the cats, if they fight. I don't intend to let that happen.

Will post results, if and when there are any.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Loving My Food... But Not In The Way You're Thinking...

It was a high stress week, last week, for us. Anyone following will recall that last Monday, Mad Max decided to sample a few pieces of lily leaf and we subsequently learned just how toxic lilies are to cats. After two nights and three days in hospital, I'm relieved to say that Max is fine and suffered no lasting effects from his adventure.

The weekend was much better. I've gotten my vacation set up, even managed find super cheap tickets and get them bought, I spent Monday with the woman who taught me to ride - and in truth taught me a huge amount about life - and I got a whopping 17 new pages written on two different stories and also got several pages edited that belong to an old story that I'm reworking. It was an awesome weekend.

Which is why I never expected to face a dead pet this morning. Woebegone, my ancient rooster (whom some of you may remember from waaaaay back as both a thunderbird, and one of the Demon Chickens from Zorgnog) has been ailing recently, and though he seems happy and comfortable, I know his time is limited. But it wasn't Woebegone I lost. It was little unassuming Henni Penni whom I found lying dead in her favorite wallow, in the front corner of the chicken pen.

It was fast. Probably a raccoon, because whatever it was reached through small gauge chicken wire and wrung her neck. I'll spare you anymore details, except to say that because she was in her wallow, which is dusty, I know truly that it was fast, virtually instant. The smooth dust proves that. No struggle. No terror. She likely never woke up.

I was so shocked, that for a few moments I just stared, trying to grasp the fact that she wasn't busily chattering to me while waiting for her breakfast.

I was very, well, human, about losing her, at least right at that moment. We forget, so very easily, when animals whom we love are, within the realm of the natural world, basically food. People who raise animals and subsequently butcher them understand this, and rarely forget it. But those of us, even the ones with farm experience, who don't regularly raise animals and then kill them, easily forget.

To me, Henni wasn't a walking main course, or an egg machine. She was a little wily person, who'd dominated her first residence (and gotten her beak cropped for it) and who had escaped that place, wherever it was, and hit the open road in search of a better life. She'd found my sister, who had in turn, brought her to me, and at my house, she'd gotten what she seems to have always wanted. Adventure and solitude and one aged rooster, who didn't ask much of her, and was a nice companion, when she felt like being companionable. But to the rest of the natural world, she was food. And sometimes, no matter how much we try to protect creatures, to shield them from their own being, nature finds a way of reclaiming them. No human walked by and opened the chicken pen and killed Henni Penni for love of killing. Some animal (probably an asshole raccoon - the only good raccoon, to me, is a Rocket raccoon) saw an opportunity to grab an unsuspecting meal, and attempted to take that opportunity. That animal failed, but in the end Henni still rejoined the natural circle, because I took her small body out into the woods and left her under an oak sapling, that both the tree, and some other animal might benefit.

I will always remember Henni Penni as a very small entity, with a very large personality, someone who didn't look at herself, or her situation and ever consider, even for a moment, that she might be incapable of changing her own stars. She simple went out and changed them.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Appropriations, and The Concept of Human Entitlement

Max is back home now, and happily running amok. Even after a full evening, night, and morning with him, I found myself following after him, just watching him and aching with how much I love the little disaster-invoking fur ball. He's oblivious to my residual, PTSD fretting, of course, and seems perpetually surprised to find me hovering, whenever he turns around, and thus merps his little trilling greeting and comes trotting over to me for chin scratches and to offer me love nibbles. I love him all the more for that. The discharge papers from the vet described him as capable of being 'very affectionate' but also capable of being 'quite fractious'. That's Mad Max, just like his namesake.

But onto the meat of this post. I've posted before about Native appropriations, and everything I said in those posts, still stands. This time I'm focusing on a different sort of appropriation, one that the public at large has probably not even noticed, or registered, and one that I'm sure at least a chunk of folks will tell me is simply me taking offense to something unoffensive. But I'm going to write the post anyway.

It all started with a trip to Starbucks. I had gone and gotten Max from the overnight vet, and transferred him to our regular vet for daytime care, and on my way out of town I stopped to nab some coffee goodness for my coworker and myself. While I was waiting for my order, I noticed another patron's shoes. My instant response was *I WANT THOSE SHOES* but then I looked at them more closely, and my insta-love turned into insta-loathing. Such insta-loathing that I covertly snapped a photograph to be used for this post.

Here's the thing. Those shoes are awesome, because they look like actual pointe shoes. The problem is, you don't just 'get' pointe shoes, you earn them. And you earn them by doing years of hella hard fucking work. This is a picture I've seen going around which is a great representation of the sacrifice that goes into gaining the beauty of a pointe shoe.

My point (no pun intended) is, pointe shoes are a right you earn, not an accessory you wear. Before anyone argues with me, I know it's *possible* the woman in Starbucks is a dancer, but her body says otherwise. If she danced, it was years in the past. So what right does she have to wear a pointe shoe, or a shoe designed to look so much like an actual pointe shoe, that at a glance one would think it was a real pointe shoe?

And I don't feel this way only about this specific pair of shoes, and this specific incident. I was rolling in my grave, so to say, over the obsession with fashion riding boots - and 'riding pants' - in recent years. Uh, no. I've spent 26 years working to earn the right to wear riding boots - and let me tell you, honey, even I don't wear the black boots with the brown tops, hunt-tops, they're called. That's formal hunting attire, to be worn only with a red hunt coat (there are numerous regulations) and if you aren't a member of a hunt club, you don't wear that shit. And yet, here I am surrounded by people, many of whom have never even touched a real horse, wearing 'riding boots' and 'riding pants' (For the record, they're called jodhpurs if you're a junior, and you were them with leather garter straps around the leg below the knee, and jodhpur boots. They're called breeches, if you're older and those are worn with tall leather boots, field boots for hunt riders, and dress boots for dressage riders. There are major differences in attire across the disciplines) while I'm just walking around in my jeans, and my breeches and field boots are in the closet, because, you know, I'm not riding a horse, I'm walking down the street. Look at this hot mess, which I found particularly amusing and irritating, with its fake little 'spur' around the heel. No riding boot ever looked like this.

Where did this concept of I'm a human, therefore I'm entitled to wear anything that looks cool come from? I understand such appropriations have been going on for centuries, but they've certainly gotten more profound or, perhaps, more widely visible in recent years. I'm sure much of such visibility comes from the internet and social media. But I still fail to grasp why society in general thinks it's okay to appropriate things. I look at fashion icons (I'm thinking Michael Jackson, whose distinctive style was influenced by various things, but which never actually copied anything that I know of) who created their own style without appropriating cultures or skills. Yes, at some point in their career, I'm sure something was appropriated, inadvertently or otherwise, but they didn't sell entire fashion lines by taking another cultures style. And no, I don't count Cher and her 'Cherokee' outfit as an appropriation because she is of American Indian descent (in part, at least). 

Appropriation has been in the news quite a lot recently, and I think that's a good thing. But I think we also need to take it further. Enough of this picking and choosing what's okay to appropriate, and what's not okay to appropriate. If you aren't of American Indian descent, don't wear something that utilizes one of their cultures, unless it's something you bought directly from an American Indian artist. I wear tons of turquoise, but I don't wear anything with religious emblems, or tribal patterns, not unless it's an item I bought from a Native artist. If you don't ride horses, don't wear freaking 'riding boots' or 'riding pants'. If you're not a ballet dancer, don't wear pointe shoes, or shoes that mimic true pointe shoes. Be aware of crap like Givenchy using words like chola to in their fashion designs, and lines, when they have no right to, and have no understanding of what the word means to those who do have a right to use it. Don't be sporting bindis just because they sparkle. Pierce your nose if you want, but don't wear jewelry designed to mimic the plethora of nose-specific jewelry worn by the various cultures of India, because, you know, those styles mean something spiritually and religiously to those peoples.

Basically, if something being utilized in fashion is defended by the designer as 'simply inspiration' or 'just hair' or 'just makeup' then you need to take a closer look at the designer/company, and why they feel like they have the right to 'just use' whatever it is they've utilized in their fashions. The same goes for popular trends. If it's something that seems cool because it makes you feel like another culture, or whatever, then you probably ought to look at it a second time, and discern whether it's something that was actually inspired by a culture or subset, or if it's something that simply copies an existing culture or subset. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Lily of Death

I type this to you with Xanax seeping through my veins. Meanwhile, I.V. fluids are creeping through the veins of my beloved Mad Max Rockatansky. Why? Because he chewed on the leaves of an Asiatic lily. The life of my cat hangs in the balance because of four fucking leaves. Or more accurately the mere pieces of four different leaves.

Until 3:47 this afternoon when my Mom informed me 'Your son is chewing on my lily, google that and make sure it's not poisonous.' I had no idea - literally no fucking concept - of just how toxic lilies are to cats. If pollen gets on their fur and they lick it, they could die. No, I'm not being dramatic. That was my first reaction when the first website so, being the 'multiple reference' person I am, I went to another site and then to and and

By then, I was genuinely starting to panic. I had *watched* Max swallow one of the leaves, and three others were tattered. So I called our vet, and was told to bring Max in immediately. To overview: At approximately 3:47 Max chomped the ends off four leaves of an Asiatic lily. By 4:30 we were at the vet's, and he was consulting with a specialist in animal toxicology. By 5:00, Max had been induced to vomit (he vomited all the leaves, they could practically put the pieces back together) and they were waiting for the sedative (with cats, they give them an anesthetic, which causes nausea, and vomiting) to wear off so they could begin giving him activated charcoal. He's a twelve pound cat, which equals a dosage of 70 MLs of activated charcoal. By now, Max was swearing that he'd never even look at anything green again. Amazingly, they got all 70 MLs into him, and other than burping droplets a few times, he kept it all down. The next step is I.V. fluids. For 48hrs. The idea is that any bits of toxin which don't adhere to the activated charcoal, will be flushed out of his system before they have time to settle in his kidneys. Basically, it's the same sort of toxic process as antifreeze poisoning.

Shocked yet? Yeah, me too. I'm still trying to convince myself that in the span of five hours, I went from loafing in my pjs to writing this and not knowing if Max is going to live. Scientifically, rationally, and medically, his prognosis is 'very good' according to the specialist, my vet, and the emergency clinic vet, where he'll be spending tonight, and possibly tomorrow night. But anyone who has much experience in medicine understands that having everything go even the best way, doesn't guarantee that it will *continue* to go the best way. Now, with lily poisoning, the consensus is 'treatment within the first 18 hours' gives you the best chance for recovery, and obviously, Max started treatment within the first hour, so *crosses fingers and knocks on wood* in theory, Max stands a good chance of running rampant for years to come. 

But we won't know for sure until we're through the next 48 hours without problem. And no amount of scientific or medical fact is going to assure me of his safety until 48 hours has gone by without incident and he's charmed all the vet techs and comes bouncing home with me. So in the least, this incident has given me more gray hair, and empty bank account and a hell of a lot of emotional trauma.

The terror associated with the idea of losing Max aside, I'm still reeling with horror over the toxicity of lilies in general. And it's not just cats. Dog, humans and goats (of all animals) are incredibly vulnerable too. I mean, let's get real. Dropping pollen on a cat can kill them? Now think about a toddler chewing on a leaf of that Easter lily on the coffee table. Or the dog snuffling it.

There is not enough public awareness of just how poisonous lilies (all of them, to varying degrees) are to us, and the animals many of us keep as pets. I beseech you to share this post on all of those Facebook groups you're in, or Pages you frequent. And the lily that got Max into all of this? $3.98 at Walmart, not a single word of warning anywhere on the label or pot. Nowhere on that plant did it say just how devastatingly harmful it could be to an animal or human. I presume that the lack of warning is because everyone and their second cousin buy lilies in the millions around Easter and in the spring or early summer. This one happened to be be given to my Mom last week for teacher appreciation week. I hazard that the mother who bought it might have had second thoughts if there was a big old skull and crossbones on the tag. But I wouldn't be going through all of this, either. Even my vet, who's been in practice for over 30 years, hasn't ever dealt with this. He has indoor cats, and his yard is full of lilies of various types. That's probably going to changed. 

Please, share this. Help me spread this information now. The majority of lily poisonings are fatal, simply because people don't understand how dangerous they are. If no one witnesses the cat consuming the lily, the symptoms that eventually provoke treatment are related to renal failure, not the actual poisoning. And once the cat enters renal failure, chances of survival are slim, at best. Sometimes even weeks of dialysis are not sufficient to get the cat through.

The best way to assure that a cat recovers from lily poisoning, is to make sure they never get poisoned to start with. ALL LILIES ARE POISONOUS. If you have pets, or small children, don't have a lily. Period. It's just too dangerous. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Driving All Over The Place And Going Nowhere...

I figured it was time to throw another post up, you know to stay in the habit of posting... at least every couple of months... or so... Anyway, I'm *finally* over whatever abominable plague I had. At leas, I'm over it enough to feel like a million bucks, but I suspect I'm still slow enough that once I'm *TRULY* over it, it'll seem as though I've been sick for most of my life. Point is, I'm back to doing stuff, laughing and snorting, and writing. Also, mowing the lawn.

Anyone who's known me for any length of time will remember that I'm not normally allowed to touch things like the weed eater or lawn mower. This is because like some sort of rogue EMP wave, I can break the shit just by touching it. No joke, this happens a lot. On smaller things (like watches) the stuff just stops working for no obvious reason. On larger things, it's sometimes more obvious (split main belts, ruptured things, whatever) but the result is the same. Shit no work, no more. So normally, I don't touch it, and that solves the problem.

But Dad, while he's doing fine, is at a point where stuff like riding the mowing for two hours, affects him more and more. So I'm his replacement. I know, terrifying. It's like sending Chris Farley to stand in for Chris Pine. Not the same. But after a lesson from Dad, I managed to mow the whole property without dying, killing anything or breaking anything. Sunday, I repeated the procedure (except that I forgot to mow the back lot...) and succeeded again.

While I was driving the mower the first time, I was hit with yet another story idea. I know, I know. You're thinking Just pick a story and write it, kid! But the problem is that I don't have anyone waiting for the stories, so I just keep plodding along with them instead of running a marathon, and along the way I find shiny new things to pick up, and eventually I start dropping other shiny things that I've gotten tired of carrying. But I do remember where they all got dropped, so I can go right back and pick them up if anyone is ever interested in them. This is what happens when you drive all over the place and go nowhere. You start playing make believe while you're driving.

In my case, that means that while I'm writing, but not moving forward toward publication (not that I can tell, anyway) I tend to have many multiple projects going at once, and sometimes, they get traded out for new projects, which eventually get set aside so I can work on older ones. But at least my engine is still going. And when that gate toward publication finally opens, I intend to roar down the racecourse without a backward glance, my stories flying behind me like banners in the wind!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Childhood Dreams Become Artist's Fodder

Overdue for a post... as is custom. But I must have some traditions, mustn't I? Anyway, I've been laid up sick for a week (not in a fun 'oh I get to be 'sick' and stay home and write' kind of way, but in a 'occasionally surfacing to consciousness, then submerging again' kind of way) and since I've been able to cling to humanity long enough to string a few thoughts together, I've been writing madly on yet another new project, one that I already love dearly.

I'm not entirely sure what this project is going to look like once I'm finally facing it at close range. It's like a massive stag moving back and forth through thick fog. But I know the project more intimately in other ways. I know the characters in it, the things that drive them, the things that haunt them. I know where it's going, and I'll learn what it looks like on the way.

All of this ties into the fact that while I was sick, I saw the latest Transformers movie (Edge of Extinction, or Age of Extinction or some such...) and - I know, I know, stop rolling your eyes! So much of the recent 'live action movies' are terrible, but some parts of them are actually pretty wonderful. While I have an undying hatred of the 'token hot bimbo with no intelligent reason to be there' and the 'token hot guy who's supposed to be witty' (I'm not even able to quantify my hatred of Shia Labeouf. I mean, plagiarizing your apology for plagiarizing something else? I can't even.) and all the other random story devices that Michael Bay has made up because, Bay does what Bay wants, I really do think he got the souls of the Transformers themselves well represented. It's something I'm willing to debate, anyway, with anyone who wants to. Also, the music in those movies is awesome.

So, anyway, the whole point is that I'd never seen the most recent movie, so I watched it. Like four times. Because, you know, I'm sick on the couch, and they just kept playing it, so I kept watching it. I cannot remember a time when I didn't love the Transformers. I've been with them since the very beginning, and I maintain a certain devotion to them even in less than perfect manifestations. I, personally, rather liked the newer looks given to them in the more recent incarnations, because they're viably realistic. Even if there are parts of these movies I don't care for, the Transformers themselves give life to all the daydreams I thrived on as a kid. They make me go out and look at the stars at night and wonder what might be up there. Consider things like the idea of a non-human entity having more humanity than humanity generally does, and how being alive has more to do with actions than it does with having a heartbeat.

Which leads me to new ideas, new themes, new stories.

My happy obsession at the moment is this revisitation of longstanding childhood dreams involving the Transformers, and associated themes. But they're only one remnant of my childhood dreams that provide me with fodder for stories and characters. So often as people grow up they leave behind influences that, at the time, meant a great deal to them, even shaped how they viewed the world. Let's face it, not many guys will say 'I went into the Marines because it was the closest thing to being He-Man that I could find.' But how many engineers really wanted to find out if you could built a glider out of three pieces of bamboo, a trash bag and a garden rake, like MacGyver, how many conservationists wanted to be like Jana of The Jungle and run with the animals. Adult underestimate the influences of childhood dreams, even as they're utilizing those very things in their careers.

I prefer to embrace my childhood dreams, feeding them and loving them.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Random March Post

This post will be random and rambling. I'm warning you because I've had two good glasses of scotch and I haven't had scotch in at least two year, so I'm pretty drunk about now. Obviously not drunk enough to throw grammar and spelling out the window, but then, the moment I'm so drunk that grammar and spelling go out the window, you need to lock me in the shed out back...

ANYWAY... I'm sitting here drunk because I am very unhappy right now. There's shallow unhappy, like I had a shitty day, and I hate my job, I don't have enough time to write all the things I want to write and UPS didn't deliver my package that I paid extra to have delivered today, unhappy, and there's deep unhappy, like I still miss Di, I shouldn't be sitting here missing her because she ought to be alive, instead of half the worthless souls who are still walking within our realm, unhappy. And I'm sorry, I know she's *just a horse* to most of the population, but she was a lot more to me.

But shallow or deep, the fact remains that I'm unhappy. Blah blah blah.

There's not point in whining. What is, is what is. All I can do, is to write. Sometimes, I write better drunk. Who said that? Hemingway? Write drunk, edit sober? It's good advice. You're free when you're just enough tipsy to not give a shit about the consequences of saying wha you feel.  Now, maybe you're going to say something in your ms now, and then later when you go back to edit, you're like WTF was I thinking? And you change things- usually for the better. But I think you know what I mean. You get so much more in touch with raw emotions when you're not worried about what anyone is going thing of you for revealing those raw emotions. Like I said, maybe later you go back sober and edit things, but there's something to be said for offering up your most raw emotions.

And on that note, I'm off to offer up my most raw emotions on a new WIP...

Monday, March 2, 2015

Di's Poem For 2015

3:00 Am on March 2, 2013 I lost my beloved Di. On the anniversary of her death 2014 I wrote a poem for her. This year, it just felt right to continue the tradition, and I plan on doing it for the foreseeable future. So here is Di's poem for 2015.

Marrow Lost

The world somehow faltered, when she went away
All the bright allure began to go to grey.
From dawns’ firsts breaths to darkened gloamings
No solace found, in midnight roamings

She walks no more with a mortal’s stride
Just a shadow now, on the moon’s tide

Silent are the mountain hollows, and empty stand the trails
No hoofbeats echo long, to race the rushing gales
Fallow lie the fields and lanes, and haunted are the glens
The world now seen always, through a shattered lens

She walks no more with a mortal’s stride
Just a shadow now, on the moon’s tide

A void remains within, where once she held much sway
A dark forsaken corner, in a heart so fey
Always will it be, the soul against long sorrow
Sundered from the pneuma, of her closest marrow

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Four Hundred Years And No Progress At All

Sometimes, I’m ashamed of every fragment of my DNA that is not identifiable as Cherokee.

This is one of those times.

On February 18 the London-based fashion company KTZ, designed by Marjan Pejoski revealed its ready to wear Fall line at New York Fashion Week. The problem with the 2015 Fall line designed by Marjan Pejoski is that Marjan Pejoski didn’t design any of it. 

Oh, you haven’t seen any headlines leading with ‘Famed Fashion House Plagiarizes Existing Designs’? Me neither. And the sad part, is that you’re not going to. Not unless mainstream-everywhere suddenly realizes that using other peoples’ cultures to add a ‘primitive touch’ to clothing, art, or, well, anything, is wrong.

Pejoski states - very proudly - in an interview with Milk Made

“-as a way of paying tribute to the country, to the land, and all the indigenous people, it was based on the Native Americans, after a lot of research obviously. With every collection I go through lots of troubles when I take different countries and places, and coming to America was something that I wanted to explore. I’ve always adored Native Americans and their culture since I was a kid and I always loved their flamboyancy and their furs and feathers and leathers, and it was just something that was almost very close to me to do.”

Huh. It’s almost as if Perjoski, like about 98% of mainstream hive-mind America, doesn’t understand that the term ‘Native Americans’ does not connote one massive universal culture, but rather it encompasses hundreds of individual entirely unique and entirely different cultures. Loved their flamboyancy? It’s like Perjoski thinks of the various clothing types, patterns, styles and colors used by the different tribes as daring fashion choices instead of what they are: Representations of religious figures, theories and symbols, of family heritage, history individual culture.

Pejoski says that his 2015 Fall line “-was based on the Native Americans, after a lot of research obviously.” and that it is “-a tribute to ‘the primal woman indigenous to this land,’ who evolves into a sexualized, empowered being.”

With claims like those, I’m a tad confused as to why Union Army kepis and military style coats and braiding were used in the line as both accessories and designs. I wonder if Pejoski meant for them to somehow honor the thousands of unknown and unnamed women captured, raped, traded and sold by soldiers during the Indian Wars, which took place pretty much from the moment that settlers arrived until (officially) 1890, though armed conflicts continued sporadically until the 1920s. Is that what he intended to honor?

But let us set aside my confusion over what Pejoski states that he wanted to say, and what he did say, with this clothing line, and let us, instead, focus on this single, simplistic declaration by Pejoski during his Milk Made interview:“-we do a lot of custom-made things—every detail you see is everything we developed in house, the whole thing.”

If every detail you see in Pejoski’s line is developed in house - the whole thing - then how, pray tell, did the family beadwork designs of Bethany Yellowtail’s ancestors end up on a dress in his runway show? Below is a side-by-side of the dresses for comparison. On the left is Yellowtail’s Apsaalooke Night dress (2014) which is based on beadwork from her great-grandmother’s collection. On the right is the dress from the 2015 KTZ line.

If you’re looking at the two dresses and thinking “What is she talking about? So they both have triangles and squares?” bear with me. The issue here isn’t about whether or not the mass public can see or understand the importance of Yellowtail’s designs. The issue is that the designs are sacred to Yellowtail, a Crow/Northern Cheyenne and they are sacred to all Crow people. It’s also a portrayal of her own great-grandmother’s beadwork.

The matching silhouettes and lengths of the dresses aside, you don’t just artistically arrange some shapes and accidentally recreate a generations-old pattern of beadwork. Pejoski took a historically, culturally, important - and for Yellowtail, an incredibly personal - beadwork design, loosened it and called it his own creation. Pejoski’s line is not ‘inspired by’ the designs, color, and forms of American Indians, it’s a twisted amalgamation of blatantly copied designs, constructed with absolutely no consideration for the multiple cultures he was pillaging and bastardizing.

Here is another glaring example of Pejoski’s theft of pre-existing cultural designs. In this case, Lakota skinners who have been ripped off.

The greatest tragedy of this fashion conflict is not even the gross affronts committed by Pejoski himself. People do stupid things. Artistic people of position and means often do incredibly stupid things. The greatest tragedy of this debacle is that the mainstream media doesn’t even know it’s going on. And any of the larger mainstream outlets who have noticed what’s happening, are choosing to very politically stay mum about it, rather than openly making a stand one way or the other.

Despite that online entities like Beyond Buckskin and Indian Country among others, are coming out in support of Bethany Yellowtail, and are denouncing the appropriations of traditional American Indian designs, the mainstream media hasn’t noticed, or if they have noticed, they’ve remained conspicuously silent about it.

A simple Google under KTZ 2015 Fashion Week reveals pages of articles touting Pejoski’s fall lineup as a triumph, a bold, primally satisfying group that any woman would want to wear. It is only Native-based sites, or more outspoken, less mainstream sites who have made any mention of the ongoing conflict, and then it’s often in a passing article, a note of interest that’s quickly set aside.

People who aren’t associated with any specific American Indian tribe (or any other indigenous peoples) fail to see what the big deal is, and in this world of social media and distanced opinions, most of them opt to shrug and suggest that it’s not, in fact a big deal and that those of us who have grievances should just get over it, already.

For the last four hundred years the indigenous peoples of America have been slaughtered, demeaned, shoved aside, cheated out of their own cultures, and disregarded in general, and all along the way they’re been told to get over it.

Now, those who have managed to survive repeated assaults by the American army, who have managed to surpass the excruciating poverty and impediments forced upon them by the United States government, those individuals like Bethany Yellowtail who have succeeded in becoming forces within their own industries are effectively still being told to get over it when a non-Native person like Marjan Pejoski decides to loot the ancestral coffers of cultures not their own.

Four hundred years of history, and mainstream America still cannot grasp the concept that you don’t have a right to claim something just because you like it.