Fan fic (but not slash) in the Wall Street Journal

Someone in the real world notices fan fiction. Specifically, they measure it using search engine rankings.

Good points, but they make too much of “female substitute for sexuality.” True, I do like that bit about revelation of character, but take slash: a lot of them also show the protagonist (the "heroine," if you will) realizing that they're gay (clichéd nowadays) or discovering why they hated some other character on site: because they loved them and assumed this feeling would never be returned. (Depressingly common IRL.) In other words, it's not all about the hero's character: it's about the heroine, too.

And I mean, come on! Have you read the steamy sex scenes in slash? (And some het?) Substitute for sex??

Lesbians, gay porn and the success and failure of imagination

Some noticed that some lesbians like gay porn. They contend that the girls in lesbian porn aren't realistic, enthusiastic or pretty. They also offer curiosity about penises or revenge fantasies (watching men get fucked).

Comedienne Judy Gold humorously notes that penises offer a visible measure of arousal. This is actually interesting. The dramatization of inner states is both a staple of personal and home life (and work) and the theater, painting, sculpture and film.

Tristan Taormino is freed from worrying about exploitation by watching gay men. Thanks, but no thanks: you don't get freed from complicity in exploitation when men are cheated, suborned or brought into hustling and porn when underage.

Difference can be very exciting; this is part of it, I think. But I prefer to think of it as a triumph of imagination. Some guys love women so much they want to be lesbians. Why shouldn't some women fantasize about growing members to take even more advantage of all those lovely orifices? And what is porn but a fantasy of more?

On Edgar Allan Poe

“The Tomb of Edgar Poe” by Stéphane Mallarmé

As to Himself – eternity’s changed him,
The Poet rouses with his naked sword,
His age fright-stricken: never knowing
Death triumphed in that uncanny voice!

Hydra’s vile rattle, hearing the Angel
Giving sense more pure to the clamoring horde,
Acclaimed aloud that wild elixir drunk
From some black tide’s dishonored flow.

What grief from soil and hostile cloud
If soul nor thought not scribe a bas-relief
So fit to grace his shining tomb?

Calm block down-fallen (some dark disaster),
Let black granite mark the path forever
Blasphemy’s flight to some occult hereafter.

I really liked this poem, but hated the translation so I found two more on the internet and cobbled this together. No, I don’t have any French.

I came across the poem in Wilson’s book, below, and thought this worth quoting, too; such a touching tribute from Whitman to Poe:

There occurr’d about that date in Baltimore a public reburial of Poe’s remains, and dedication of a monument over the grave.

Being in Washington on a visit at the time, ‘the old gray’ went over to Baltimore, and though ill from paralysis, consented to hobble up and silently take a seat on the platform, but refused to make any speech, saying, ‘I have felt a strong impulse to come over and be here today myself in memory of Poe, which I have obey’d, but not the slightest impulse to make a speech, which, my dear friends, must also be obeyed.’ In an informal circle, however, in conversation after the ceremonies, Whitman said: For a long while, and until lately, I had a distaste for Poe’s writings. I wanted, and still want for poetry, the clear sun shining, and fresh air blowing the strength and power of health, not of delirium, even amid the stormiest passions with always the background of the eternal moralities. Non-complying with these requirements, Poe’s genius has yet conquer’d a special recognition for itself, and I too have come to fully admit it, and appreciate it and him.

In a dream I once had, I saw a vessel on the sea, at midnight, in a storm. It was no great full-rigg’d ship, nor majestic steamer, steering firmly through the gale, but seem'd one of those superb little schooner yachts I had often seen lying anchor’d, rocking so jauntily, in the waters around New York, or up Long Island sound, now flying uncontroll’d with torn sails and broken spars through the wild sleet and winds and waves of the night. On the deck was a slender, slight, beautiful figure, a dim man, apparently enjoying all the terror, the murk, and the dislocation of which he was the center and the victim. That figure of my lurid dream might stand for Edgar Poe: his spirit, his fortunes, and his poems themselves all lurid dreams.

— Edmund Wilson quoting Walt Whitman on the
dedication of a new monument to Poe,
in The Shock Of Recognition, vol. I, 1955.


Fantastic, Epic TG fic updated since 1997

Tuck by Ellen Hayes is a gorgeous, original transgender fic that has been continuously updated since 1997. Hayes writes like Kate Bornstein if the latter could channel purely the mighty Robert A. Heinlein. (Though Tuck's father wears a t-shirt that says "Leftist Gun-Nut," the politics hew to more than stray from Heinlein: all his kids, regardless of sex, learn armed and unarmed self-defense.) This novel is 7,093,495 bytes in pure *.txt format; stripping the headers and tails, call it 1,200,000 words, or one of the longest novels in the world. (All seven Harry Potter books: 1,090,739)

Tuck, in the eponymous story, is 15 year-old Eugene Tucker, a ham radio and Unix geek who, under the influence of a girlfriend, discovers a hidden talent for crossdressing. Never a paragon of standard masculinity, Tuck adopts the name Valerie and struggles to overcome his fear of jocks, make-up, all-girl sleepovers and his own doubts over his actions and feelings thereof.

The characters encounter sex, suicide, grudges, romance and violence (including sexual). Tuck narrates the story with a mordant wit shared by family and friends; this passage, of a trip to King's Island amusement park in Ohio, illustrates some of the humor of the novel:

12:24 29 Jul

We were making our way to the top - clunkclunkclunkclunkclunk - and I was looking around, enjoying the view from up high, when I caught sight of Travis' knuckles, which were rather white and bulgy, like he was straining. As he gripped the restraints.

"Scared?" I asked, not quite sure. Clunkclunk-

"No," he lied. I could tell he was lying because of the exceptionally grim expression he had and the completely serious tone in his voice. Clunkclunkclunkclunkclunkclunk-

"Oh, Travis, it's okay, it's barely a hundred and forty feet up," I said. That didn't make him happier. Clunkclunkclunkclunkclunkclunk- "And wooden coasters always feel a bit looser than the steel ones, that's part of the charm." He was not apparently convinced. "Hardly anyone gets killed on roller coasters," I said brightly, and he turned his head and glared at me. Clunkclunkclunkclunkclunkclunk- Just a bit more- "Anyway," I said slowly, stretching it out, "it's perfectly safe unless something breaks, and they hardly ever do."


Perfect! I even got a little squeak out of Travis, which was equivalent to Ricky pissing himself.

I looked ahead of us suddenly, pointed and screamed, "Oh my God where's the TRAAAAAACK!" as we went over the top. Travis just screamed.


Deconstruction at

This article needs a severe pruning. First off, it contains too many parodies which are to deconstruction as an accidentally fatal bar fight is to a full out mechanized war.

The best definition of deconstruction is given therein: "Deconstruction for our purposes basically involves colliding a trope with Real Life at high speed... A deconstruction will not just make fun of its genre, but attack it. The most common way to do this is to take a trope and play it utterly and brutally straight, showing just how bad an idea it would be in the real world."

Second, Derrida's deconstruction involved interpreting Aristotle's Poetics through the author's love of ice cream. It is essentially a joke discipline that is useless here.
  • Current Mood
    amused amused
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Obama’s speech to the childrens…

Sorry, but I am unable to resist Chef’s voice. (Also, I have no dog in this fight as my daughter’s school district had a half-day today.)

I heard the speech on television and all I can think is, “American Orwell.” It is content neutral, but the style is all you would hear if Marxism truly rooted in this country. It was also amusing to hear him decry the shortcut of celebrity, as someone pointed out, while offering up nothing but sports stars as role models. (Even Warren Buffett, who is not so exalted as a community organizer, is an unperson, let alone Gates, Jobs, Bezos, Tesla Motors…)

Those pundits decrying opposition to the speech as racism are worthless liars, of course: they deliberately ignore the marvelously Orwellian, ah… study guide? Hm… talking points, yes, that asked the students to think of how they could help “the President.” They also forgot the negative front page stories in the Washington Post, leading to Congressional hearings, when George H.W. Bush did the same thing to polish up his image as a caring man.

One of the hardest things a President does is preside, especially over the 40-49.9% of the country that did not vote for him. Simply, that makes or breaks his presidency. Bush’s numbers suffered from pre-Surge Iraq, Katrina and finally the immigration/border debacle before the 2006 elections, but George remained President of us all, a lesson Barack “We Won Wee Wee” Obama seems determined not to learn.

Sam Raimi, Equinox, the Evil Dead and prior art

Equinox by Mark Thomas McGee and Jack Woods stars TV's Frank Bonner (AKA Herb Tarlek from WKRP in Cincinnati) in a film that sounds astonishingly familiar:

  • Four teenagers
  • Visiting a professor who is now dead
  • At his cabin in the woods
  • Find an anti-Bible
  • Which can summon evil spirits upon mere reading
  • Who are represented by special effects
  • By which one of the students is turned into the undead;
  • Cut off from civilization
  • They must destroy or banish the book
  • And repel the evil invaders.

Despite a budget that makes Plan 9 from Outer Space seem lavishly funded, Equinox is surprisingly effective and even did well enough that it has been re-released as part of the prestigious Criterion Collection.

  • Current Mood
    happy happy
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GB Shaw on Obama

Surfing the Web, I came across The Perfect Wagnerite, commentary on the Niblung's Ring by George Bernard Shaw and now have the burning desire to go to Washington, D.C. and read this to Barack Obama:

Now I do not pretend to be perfect myself. Heaven knows I have to struggle hard enough every day with what the Germans call my higher impulses. I know too well the temptation to be moral, to be self-sacrificing, to be loyal and patriotic, to be respectable and well-spoken of. But I wrestle with it and — as far as human frailty will allow — conquer it, whereas the German abandons himself to it without scruple or reflection, and is actually proud of his pious intemperance and self-indulgence. Nothing will cure him of this mania. It may end in starvation, crushing taxation, suppression of all freedom to try new social experiments and reform obsolete institutions, in snobbery, jobbery, idolatry, and an omnipresent tyranny in which his doctor and his schoolmaster, his lawyer and his priest, coerce him worse than any official or drill sergeant: no matter: it is respectable, says the German, therefore it must be good, and cannot be carried too far; and everybody who rebels against it must be a rascal. Even the Social-Democrats in Germany differ from the rest only in carrying academic orthodoxy beyond human endurance — beyond even German endurance.

Too funny.


The Breeders, “Pod”

I’ve owned, and loved, the Breeders’ Last Splash since the mid-’90s, so why the hell did I wait nineteen years to listen to, and be entranced by, Pod?

One of the most influential albums on Kurt Cobain, Pod is to minimalist pop what The Velvet Underground and Nico was to pop’s avant garde. All the bones, all the architecture is exposed; and what gorgeous bone structure it is. I don’t know what Steve Albini’s production actually does to Pod, but the sound is amazingly spare, especially compared to Last Splash’s lush, distorted guitars and full sound.

Music snobs blab a lot about Keith Richards and Mick Taylor’s interweaving guitars, but on Pod they blend and contrast much like the music of They Might Be Giants: at once simple and cohesive, yet the guitars, like a TMBG bridge, create most of their effect from pure contrast. The anthems “Glorious,” “Hellbound” and “Iris” manage to paint large canvases with spare, reaching sounds without sacrificing any intimacy.

The lyrics are, of course, up to more than snuff on both albums, as Kim Deal takes on the majority of the writing. “Roi”’s puckish one-line entendre, “Saints” gorgeous evocation of state fairs, the restless dissatisfaction of time dragging on in “Glorious,” and running out in “Iris.”

  • Current Music
    The Breeders, "Roi"
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