desk lunch – 2015-08-06

Brought to you this week by the Wet Hot American Summer prequel. I’ve allowed it to consume my entire life this week and I’m pretty okay with that! Why does Bradley Cooper only seem truly happy when he’s falling in love with Michael Ian Black? IS IT… ACTING?

Speaking of Bradley Cooper, you can read my short fiction about Bradley Cooper at Atlas and Alice. (SMOOTH)


My Where We Are viewing experience was transformative, but not in the way I expected. I didn’t start a 1D Tumblr or troll Twitter for band rumours…. I did stop policing myself and other girls, both onscreen and off. I relaxed, and I had fun. I didn’t care about being the coolest girl in the room, because the coolest girls in the room were the ones not thinking about male critics. They were just having fun.

I’ll probably never tire of articles about fandom, but this one has a strong section specifically about the gendered language to describe stadium-sized events. Sports events vs boyband concerts: WHICH IS THE GREATER THREAT? All that and more blood-boiling sexism that permeates our every waking moment!

No, the Atlantic, your very detailed photo essay isn’t like a trip to Antarctica, but it does very much make me want to go to Antarctica. Caption for this photo: A whale fossil is seen near Brazil’s Commandante Ferraz Antarctic Station, located in Admiralty Bay, King George Island, Antarctica, on November 25, 2008.

Right, right, right. I talk about that as the logic of homosexual necessity in the book and that comes up a lot, this claim that, well, men have to do this for X or Y reason. There’s simply no other choice. I think people are really committed to that idea because it means that men are not agentically choosing homosexuality as something that is happening to them, so it’s what keeps their heterosexual identity intact, when that’s the logic that applies.

This Science of Us interview runs along similar lines to the “Born This Way” piece I linked to last week, but this one explores the way that self-identified straight men justify homosexual acts in the frame of their suffocatingly rigid masculinity. Homosexuality and homosexual acts could never be choices; they have to be explained away or, I don’t know, the ice caps would melt and poison the oceans and drown every coastal metropolis in the world and drive civilization into a frenzied competition for the last of our natural resources!

On July 20th, James Hansen, the former NASA climatologist who brought climate change to the public’s attention in the summer of 1988, issued a bombshell: He and a team of climate scientists had identified a newly important feedback mechanism off the coast of Antarctica that suggests mean sea levels could rise 10 times faster than previously predicted: 10 feet by 2065.

Speaking of our dwindling natural resources, here’s a piece in Rolling Stone letting us know that within 50 years our ecosystem will very likely drop a brick on the accelerator and destroy our precarious grip on order and civilization. Ecosystem will then heave our screaming, flaming corpse out of the car and drive us into the ocean, so… I guess I’ll keep contributing to that 403(b).


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desk lunch – 2015-06-25

Brought to you this week by a brain so scattered I’m reviewing twitter and my calendar to recall what exactly consumed another week of my life. Work? Panic? Naps? Work again? Discussions about homoeroticism in The Silmarillion like I’m 16 and living on livejournal again? Reading the juiciest parts of DID MY BOYFRIEND JUST GET MARRIED? (Girl. He did. He got married.) Yes, it was all these things, and probably more, but take this non sequitur: if you need a Comedy Central show in the background, start easing yourself over to Larry Wilmore and the Nightly Show, ok??


Carvell: Right. Well, when your entire history in this country has been about literally dying to be considered human, you have to develop a Christianity that enables you to fight while also “forgiving them” who hurt you. We have to forgive the sinner because the accumulated resentment could destroy us, but that will never mean that we don’t fight tooth and nail against the sin.
Mallory: So it has more to do with self-protection than it does with absolution, it sounds like.
Carvell: Absolutely. It’s nothing to do with the offender and it’s not about granting a pass to anyone.

Judging by the comments on this interview with Carvel Wallace at The Toast, I’m definitely not the only one who needed explained in great detail how the concept of forgiveness differs between white and black communities in America. And to be honest, this concept of forgiveness (making peace with something and also continuing to fight the offense and how it hurt you) makes a lot more sense than Catholicism’s sacrament of a third party wiping the slate clean for you and declaring it All Good. Which- nope! That’s not how my intricate resentment irrigation system works!

The Civil War was easy to misunderstand at the time, because there had never been anything like it. It was a total mobilization of society, the kind Europe wouldn’t see until World War I. The Civil War was fought not just with cannons and bayonets, but with railroads and factories and an income tax.
If the Napoleonic Wars were your model, then it was obvious that the Confederacy lost in 1865: Its capital fell, its commander surrendered, its president was jailed, and its territories were occupied by the opposing army. If that’s not defeat, what is?
But now we have a better model than Napoleon: Iraq.

This essay (originally posted in August 2014) is a fascinating longread that examines the lasting culture of the Confederacy. Essentially, the idea goes that we’ve only just developed the correct language and framework for talking about the Civil War, now that modern warfare has moved from a “clear” capture/conquer model to sustained insurgencies. The Confederacy, says the piece, is just such an insurgency that managed to weave itself literally into the fabric of our national culture. HILARIOUS.



POEM REC! (excerpt)

You can’t see beneath the exoskeleton,
this stylized mockery of female form:
smooth cyberskin, DD breasts,
perfectly calculated 0.7 waist-to-hip ratio.
By your standards, it is perfect.

I see the overlap—cars, guns, violence, danger, chasing and escaping, a relationship that seems more than brotherly but not quite romantic—but I think Crush and Supernatural are products of a cultural moment, not products of each other.

HAHAHA, RICHARD SIKEN. I’m not joking when I say this interview covers topics that I’ve wanted to write about and explore for years. This isn’t just about Siken and Supernatural– more interesting is this longer pull quote that I scrambled to submit to The Rumpus’s blog with embarrassing speed.

Siken gets why fandoms and slash writers have latched on to his work; he gets it better than any other writer I’ve seen try to address fanworks and the give/take relationship with the original work.

Fanwork artists don’t borrow another creator’s fictional world, but expand its boundaries. In this case, fan artists use Crush and slash to push the dialogue between the show and its themes in directions the shows refuse to incorporate seriously. It’s especially important for shows like Supernatural and Sherlock, whose writers and showrunners build deep emotional attachments between men with one hand and deny every shade of serious homoeroticism/romanticism (queerbaiting!) with the other. Fandom and its fanworks imagine storylines without a virulent undercurrent of gay panic, stories that allow genuine intimacy to exist between characters without rushing to reinforce traditional masculinity. Frankly, that’s kind of the point: to undermine “traditional” masculinity in favor of characters who can experience the full range of human emotion! IMAGINE THAT.