Sunday, April 14, 2013

Book Review: The Witch Sea

The Witch Sea, by Sarah Diemer, is a short lesbian fantasy tale with a very small cast of characters, a gloomy island setting and a young woman struggling with defining her own identity.

It is available for free Kindle download on Amazon.

This story has a great deal to recommend it.  This is no angst over the character's sexuality. Meriel has always known she had no interest in men. This doesn't cause her any anxiety, although she felt she could not tell her mother. Not because her mother would necessarily object to her lesbianism, but because Meriel was expected to have a child to carry on the family business.

The questioning of why Meriel was continuing the family tradition of holding the curse in place was central to the plot. What did she really gain from it? What does it cost her? How reasonable is that family expectation? It's a question most people have to face in one way or another, so it resonates with readers.

I also liked the exploration of how isolation and being overburdened with expectation can shape a person's character. Meriel has been alone since she was 15, when her mother died. Her current age is never stated, but she doesn't feel more than maybe her early 20's. Until Nor arrives on her island, it seems she's only known perhaps two other people. That limited perspective, that knowing only what she's been taught by her mother and grandmother, having no genuine knowledge of the outside world, that resonates as well, echoing the questions we ask ourselves as we leave home for the first time. Is the world really what I've been told it is? Is it really as dangerous? Is it really as wonderful? Is it worth leaving this place of safety to find out for myself? These are the questions Meriel wrestles with and they are universal questions.

The story was told from Meriel's perspective, so we have only her view of the other characters, but Nor came across as perceptive and thoughtful, wiser than her age would suggest. Perhaps this is because she's really a seal magically transformed into something resembling human and thus her personality naturally tends toward it, but she is the more pensive of the two. We see her evaluate the situtation, both on Meriel's island and on the sea folk island. We see her approach to Meriel soften and shift, we see her begin to understand the toll this life is taking on the other woman, see her understand that both islands are prisons, that no one is free or living fully. We see her embrace Meriel not as a jailer but as a fellow prisoner, allowing Meriel to see for the first time what it is to be valued, not for any magical ability, but simply because she is.

There are sex scenes in the story, but they are not graphic. It's not a total fade-to-black, but focuses more on kisses and emotions. A great deal is left to the imagination, which works in this situation. It feels in keeping with the tone of the story, not like the writer just doesn't want to write lesbian sex. This isn't a story about physical things, it is a story about souls and imprisonment and working your way to freedom.

The only thing I wish this story had included are scenes from Nor's point-of-view. She, along with Meriel, is the key player in this story and yet we only see her through Meriel's eyes. I understand that decision; this is, after all, Meriel's story. And yet, I can't help but wonder what was going on in Nor's mind. I like to believe, as Meriel does, that Nor is being truthful and not manipulative. That while she was sent to entice Meriel to drop the curse, her feelings for genuine and not faked to get what she wanted. And so, I will. Because this is a lovely story of growing up, making your own decisions and setting yourself free, although some readers may not be comfortable with the vagueness of the ending. I thought the ending was in keeping with the rest of the story: You're never quite certain what the full consequences of your actions will be, but you have to make the choices that are most true to you despite not having full knowledge of the future.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Hobbit

The second time I saw The Hobbit, I brought my two nieces with me. The 8-year old got bored and restless about an hour and a half in. The 4-year old, on the other hand, sat in my lap and watched the entire thing, refusing to leave when her sister suggested we cut out early.

So, as a movie for children, my not-so-scientific study yielded mixed results. As a movie for adults? Well, I saw it twice. And I'd see it again, if I were asked.

There were points where the movie dragged -- did we really need to stick around to listen to Gandalf and the gang discuss what a bad idea it was for the dwarves to head back to the Misty Mountain while the dwarves were, well, sneaking off to the mountain? The trolls were amusing enough, I suppose, and the storm giants were visually impressive, but I'm not sure they served the movie well. 

On the whole, however, the performances made up for the draggy bits. (Unless you're an 8 year old, it seems.) As someone who hasn't read the book (and frankly, I don't intend to), I can't tell you how much was added or subtracted from the movie. I can tell you that I found Richard Armitage's Thorin believable and only slightly annoying. (I've been told he's much more egotistical and arrogant in the book.) And Martin Freeman's Bilbo was fairly spot-on.  Easy to relate to as well, because who doesn't yearn for a bit of adventure while being too afraid to chase it down?

But really, everyone watches this for the dwarves. The pretty, pretty dwarves with their happy fighting and delightful accents. Pervvy dwarf fanciers, the whole lot of us. But really, look at him. Can you blame us? No. No you cannot.

I was disappointed that we didn't really get to the dragon until the very end. And I'm not pleased that there are THREE movies in this thing, but I'll go see them. Of course I will. I'm a pervvy dwarf fancier and there are pervvy dwarfs to fancy.

Also, dragons. Who doesn't love a dragon?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Twilight -- Finally It's Over

I'm a huge fan of vampires, but whatever those are in Twilight they are not vampires.  Not a new opinion or particularly originally, but there it is. Even if I looked passed the sparkling in the sun thing, they have no fangs. How can you be a vampire and have no fangs? Does not compute.

But, non-vampireness aside, this movie is just...well, mostly a letdown. In places it is really beautifully shot and the music is affecting...but it says something about a film when you notice the music over the action.

I was disturbed by the fact that the setting was so idyllic, while we were supposed to believe that vampires are so dangerous. Because no one seemed dangerous in this film. Sure, we were supposed to believe that Bella almost ate a rock climber, but there was no real tension there. And we were told repeatedly that she had such super self-control, but since EVERYONE had such self-control how were we to believe that? We were told that some of the other vamps that showed up ate people, but aside from one brief scene NO ONE ate anyone.

There was very little actual vampireness in this film. No fangs, no blood and very little actual fighting. And what fighting there was, was SPOILER undone! The climatic fight scene that saw losses on both sides was in fact only a psychic projection. Never happened. So, we have this supposedly huge battle an have exactly one death...and she was a fairly minor character.

This filmed seemed to be so much noise about nothing. The stakes never felt high, partly because so much of the action was conveyed via voice over, instead of actually you know, SHOW ON SCREEN.

And there was the creepiness factor of Jacob, an adult, being bonded and in love with Renee-Esme, a child. I know, it was handwaved away as being uncontrollable and that she'd be an adult in seven years, but that does not change the fact that her future-husband (who she had NO CHOICE in choosing) changed her damned diapers. And the fact that Carlisle seemed to have a penchant for turning young, attractive men into vampires. It's creepy all around.

And so romanticized. It may seem odd to complain about the fact that this movie waves away the genuine difficulties of marriage and parenthood when it's supposedly about vampires, but...they get married, have a baby in three days, she gets turned into a vampire and suddenly their baby is a toddler, they have a lovely, full furnished house and built in babysitters so they can have sex all day? That's sticks out like a sore thumb.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Four Year Nap

Ok, so....this blog has been silent for four years. That's long enough, yeah? So, I'll be posting again. Whee! Watch this space for witty reviews, snarky opinions and random pop culture chattery.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Old School Sexism and a Closeted Elf

Last night, as I decorated my Christmas tree, I had Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on in the background. When I was a little girl, my brother and I always decorated our family tree while watching Rudolph and Frosty, while nomming down on fresh-baked cookies and hot chocolate. (Yes. I did, really, have that Norman Rockwell Christmas. I honestly didn't realize other people didn't until I got much older.) Anyway, Rudolph is not quite what I remember it to be. Or rather, I'd blocked out lots of bits that make me annoyed.

The sexism throughout this show is just....*sigh* First, there's the fact that all Mrs. Claus seems to do nothing but run around feeding people. Santa treats her like a nuisance. Then, we have Rudolph's mother and Clarice. When Rudy goes missing, his father forbids them from looking for him. And once he's gone, they promptly set out on their own and get captured by the Bumble! Who tries to eat them, only to have Rudy and Co. end up rescuing them. Then, there's this condescending comment about Rudy deciding the best thing to do would be 'get the ladies back to town." ARG!!! It's not bad enough that they end up almost eaten, they also get talked down to. *sigh*

And none of the deer on Santa's sleigh are women either. Even though they are given names that could belong to either gender. Hmp.

Way to go, sexism. Destroy another childhood memory.

On the upside, Hermie really does seem quite gay, doesn't he? Here, have some funny:

Ain't No Girl Love 'round Here Anymore

Grey's Anatomy, I have a bone to pick with you.

You have couples on your show that run the gauntlet.
We have couples that form when an underling sleeps with her boss. (Never a guy who sleeps with his boss. Notice that?) We have couples that for strictly for sex. We have couples that seem to be happily married, only to break up shortly after the birth of their child. We have couples that have been together for decades who break up then reunite. We have couples that cheat. Oh, gods, do we have couples that cheat. Let's see...we have a married man who knowingly sleeps with his underling, without telling her he's married, then wonders why she gets so upset when his wife shows up. We have couples that break up on their wedding day. We have couples that get married in a rush, only to have the husband freak out and start sleeping with his best friend because -- why again? I never really got that part. Does anyone on this show know the meaning of fidelity? (Wait -- Christina does. As does Bailey. So, two out big's the cast again? And hey, they're both minority women. . .)

So, anyway. You have all these kinds of couples (and I'm sure I missed some somewhere), but you can't handle a same sex couple?


This season, the only thing that had me watching was the unfolding hook-up of Callie and Erica. I thought it was sweet. The build up to the first kiss last season? I liked it. Sure, as a queer girl, I was a little bemused by Callie's freak-out at discovering she had feeling for Erica. Hey, it IS confusing if you've never been attracted to another woman before to suddenly find yourself smitten. It was cute and not overdone and she and Erica dealt with it easily enough. And the leaked previews for this season had that relationship front and center. Good deal, I thought.

And then, what did you do? Oh, you did what every damned show does -- you fucked up. Big time.

First, Callie. Callie, one of the few people on the show who got fidelity. (Oh, look. ANOTHER minority woman. Are we sensing a pattern here boys and girls?) She hooks up with Erica, gets a little freaked out by Erica's "You're a leaf' speech and runs back to Mark for a little sex. (Although, Erica's leaf bit? Awesome. Likewise her, "I'm so totally gay" line. Very nice.) Callie. Who has just recovered from the devastation of her husband's cheating. Becomes a cheater. Uh-huh. At least Mark had the sense to tell her that she was cheating. (Mark Sloan: Grey's Anatomy Man Whore and Voice of Reason.) And you did get her to come clean pretty quickly. But still. Callie, cheating?

Then, Erica. She seemed to handle Callie's revelation of her on-call room fling with a bit of grace. Seemed to, being the operative word. They patched things up, Callie declared her desire to be with Erica and off we go. OK. Rocky start, but I'll go with it. These things happen. Then, Erica finds out about Izzy's whole 'stealing a heart for Denny' schtick. And that the hospital knew about it, including Callie, and didn't fire her. So, she goes off. An understandable reaction, given the circumstances. I'm all there for the righteous anger. BUT -- when Callie tries to talk her out of reporting the hospital, thereby endangering it's transplant statue and thereby risking the lives of countless patients -- she turns on her.

"You can't be a part-time lesbian," she says.

Hell, yes you can, says I -- and every other bisexual woman in the world. Oh, and so did Callie. Yay for Callie. But clearly, Erica is not over the whole 'I slept with Sloan, but I want you.' episode. (And really, can you blame her? You wake up with your girlfriend, tell her she's your Leaf, she runs away to work, knocks boots with the resident Man Whore and then tells you about it? All in, it seems, ONE DAY? I'd be pissed too.)

So, then what happens?

She leaves. Just up and leaves. No explanation, no goodbyes, not so much as a break-up text.

Oh, Grey's, how I hate you. Right now, you're up there with Heroes.

First -- the word is bisexual. Try it. Say it slowly at first. It gets easier the more you say it. Callie is not gay. Callie is clearly bisexual. She has had, and enjoyed, relationships with men. They were important to her. They should not be invalidated just because she's discovered she has a thing for women too. It's ok. We exist. You can use the word. Bisexual. See? That didn't hurt at all, did it?

Now, try this one: Lesbian. It seems a bit sexier, but that's ok. Lesbian. Erica was a lesbian. Lesbian and bisexual are not the same thing, but we can get along together quite nicely. Unless stupid writers decide to have a Lesbian tell a Bisexual woman that she cannot exist. Then we get angry, take back our toasters and go home.

For a show that fired one of your biggest stars (Oh, hi, Isiah. How you doing?) because of RL slurs about one of your RL gay stars, you're being seriously hypocritical. Oh, we support our gay stars. We just don't want to see two girls getting it on on-screen. But it's okay to routinely show het couples sexing it up in the bathroom or the bedroom or the on-call room or hell, a gurney in the middle of the hall. (Ok. Not yet, but I'm waiting for Mer and Der to just go for it one day. Just wait.) But two women having a relationship, that's too much? You've fucking blown a man to a red mist, but girl-on-girl is too much for you?

Yeah, yeah. Fuck you too. You fired one of your best actresses over this and the rumor has it that Sara R. will be leaving when these season is over. I hope she does, because unless this thing between Christina and Owen takes off, I'll no longer have a reason to tune in.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

And why wasn't this put out BEFORE the November vote?

Here's a little something that doesn't make me want to throw things at my computer monitor.
Prop 8 -- The Musical!

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die