Shadows & Tall Trees 7 Reviews, Interviews, & Updates

I am trying to be better about website upkeeping. (I am bad at it.)

There’s a new review up at This Is Horror. I’ll admit to being quite pleased with what was said about “The Triplets.”

Tried to reblog V.H. Leslie’s post with pertinent links, but failed. Here’s a pasted excerpt:

With stories from Malcolm Devlin, Brian Evenson, Rebecca Kuder, V.H. Leslie, Robert Levy, Laura Mauro, Manish Melwani, Alison Moore, Harmony Neal, Rosalie Parker, M. Rickert, Nicholas Royle, Robert Shearman, Christopher Slatsky, Simon Strantzas, Steve Rasnic Tem, Michael Wehunt, Charles Wilkinson, Conrad Williams and cover artwork by Yaroslav Gerzhedovich (paperback edition) and Vince Haig (hardback edition) Shadows and Tall Trees 7 will mark the welcome return of this journal.

Award-winning writer Angela Slatter, has been kind enough to interview us all about our stories and the motivations behind them, starting Rosalie Parker, Michael Wehunt, Malcolm Devlin and Manish Melwani. And inimitable reviewer, Dew Lewis has already begun his Real-Time Review of the journal which can be read here.

Don’t forget to pick up a copy from Undertow Books.

To the 82-year-old Witch I Waited on Last Night

Welcome! Welcome! I hope you made it to my website! To be a witch is a glorious thing! To be a witch is to strive for wisdom and truth, to see through the lies that surround us, especially the lies about us. I was thrilled to spend a little time with you last evening. I hope you find something here you enjoy. I hope you live to be 100+ with birds in your wild, beautiful hair. I will keep you in my heart.

love,
harmony

Harmony Fixes the Wonder Woman Script—SPOILERS!

Harmony Fixes the Wonder Woman Script—SPOILERS!

The featured image is by Castaguer93, a person who can envision a female fighter who wears actual armor (if not a helmet) and doesn’t make sure to pose provocatively while fighting. You might be surprised by how hard it is to find such an image. I wasn’t.

I will say there were things about the film I did appreciate. I spent the first 15 minutes or so weeping because you never get to see a screen full of women doing things and talking about things that aren’t men or childrearing or chores. A mighty fighter woman with wrinkles! Be still my heart and soul!

Too bad there were so many problems even within that setting, and that it lasted not nearly long enough before MEN took over the story line, and Diana, in all of her goodness, of course, allowed them to dominate most of the rest of the film.

 

So here are a few fixes I would have made, if DC had consulted me.

 

Don’t Make The Amazonians Exist From a Male Imagination:

There is actual racial diversity on the island, NOT tokenism with white women in charge.

The women don’t all shave and wear makeup, though some could. It seems more likely that most would not bother at all or see any benefit to shaving off useful hair or applying gunk to their faces that could run into their eyes during training/battle.

The warriors wear protective gear, not exposing lots of skin, which they simply would not do. It’s so preposterous. I understand that they could have been even more naked from a male perspective, but just give me a fucking break already.

The women can and do have sexual and romantic relationships with each other. While the movie makes it clear men aren’t necessary or even desirable for sexual pleasure, it does so in a way that implies the alternative is masturbation, which is dumb.

 

Diana in “The Real World”:

The first time dude tries to physically prevent her from doing what she wants, she breaks his fucking wrist. She does not allow him to keep limiting her physical movements, waiting for him to never really explain WHY he believes he has the right to physically limit her movement, then acquiescing to his demands.

She does not develop a romantic relationship with dude. That is dumb, unnecessary, and plays into all the aspects of patriarchy this film pretends to question, but actually reinforces and reproduces.

His friends are either not creepy toward Diana (what a limited male imagination to say most men are going to hit on Diana and make her uncomfortable), OR, if they must be creepy losers, then she is not asked to forgive and overlook their misogyny because they have their own crosses to bear (Ignore him! He doesn’t mean any harm). Preposterous. I’m sick of being told it’s my womanly duty to care about the trials and tribulations of men and forgive them for their misogyny because they have to deal with the problems Toxic Masculinity bring to them.

The film reinforces our dominant narrative that women just have to understand that most men are creeps and don’t have time to worry about not being creeps because they have to deal with racism or PSTD or whatever themselves. It’s our womanly duty to see past all their transgressions and feel sorry for them and try to help and support them even as they treat us like shit. Interestingly enough, the men are not asked NOT to be creeps… No, Diana must use her wit and charm to show them up (as a means of politely trying to get them to stop hitting on her) and then feel sorry for them. FUCK THAT.

In a better version of the script, the stupid man doesn’t get to play the martyr. I’m sure other people also reasoned out that if Diana hadn’t allowed him to keep physically limiting her, that she would have killed the super evil caricature German before he could have ordered that plane to leave with all that gas… Instead, the movie sets up a bullshit “they’re both right and wrong” pattern in order to justify the dumb love story, his controlling behavior, and then a super immature overall message, given to Diana BY a man and reinforced by her supposed love for a man who repeatedly tells her she’s too distracting and can’t do what she wants to do because he knows better.

Having her (once) say he doesn’t get to tell her what to do DOES NOT eradicate all the times when she in fact allows him to do just that. That’s a major problem. The bombshell can SAY a man can’t tell her what to do, if she actually lets him do exactly that MOST of the time. Enough already!

Aries raised many good points while he tried to recruit Diana, but the writers apparently couldn’t come up with any nuance or counterarguments that weren’t insipid and first uttered by the male character. The power of LOVE! Meaning what, exactly? No one knows. No one needs to know. What could be more revolutionary than a half-naked, shaved, plucked, heavily made up woman who can kick serious ass but also (blindly, it seems, based on finally having a penis inside of her) believes in LOVE, as is her feminine duty?

Well, asking more women for their thoughts might have helped… Plenty of us are able to envision truly revolutionary female characters and roles that aren’t all about exciting the male fantasy…

 

Broader Considerations:

Either all the fucking gods are supermodels or none are. The Amazonians all have to be 12s on a scale of 1-10, but Aries can be an average looking dude? I don’t think so. That is one of many things that points to Wonder Woman springing from a male imagination for the gratification of male fantasies while almost barely succeeding occasionally in moving away from gender roles and myths.

There can be an evil genius female character, but only if she too was a 12 on a 1-10 scale, then made ugly by her evilness. Just fuck off already.

Why was this script written by three men? I mean, they claim many writers in fact worked on it, while the three men get the main credit. You can do better than that, DC! Maybe Wonder Woman (and other scripts) should be written by women? Has that EVER crossed your minds?

So yeah, woo hoo, hooray, on a first glance, parts of the movie are revolutionary and better than what comes before, but really, when you get down to it, most of it is the same fucking bullshit crammed down our throats only gussied up a bit more to pretend at female liberation while continuing to keep women everywhere in their places (subservient to men and beholden to their “love” and penises and versions of reality they claim are fact and immutable). Thanks but no thanks.

In Which Harmony Says Very True Things About Suicide That People Don’t Normally Admit/Discuss:

There are some people who just can’t understand suicide at all, from an emotional or intellectual level.

Then there are people like me, who cannot understand how other people cannot understand. I was absolutely laid low by yesterday’s news, in part because Chris Cornell is a kindred spirit. He saw all the evil everywhere, and it laid him low. He called it out. He brought messages of love. He was one of the few famous (or frankly, non-famous) musicians who isn’t a fucking misogynist. But it didn’t matter in the end.

I was discussing the issue with someone who can’t understand suicide as we listened to Soundgarden. And I kept being like, “We’re listening to his extended suicide note right now!” And I’d turn up whatever song was on and repeat the lyrics.

The person I was conversing with, quite reasonably, trotted out our cultural line about people being able to make dark art without that meaning they are suicidal. Well, that’s not really the whole truth. There are distinct differences between “dark” art that doesn’t mean anything, and “dark” art that is screaming that the world is an evil, toxic place, and that it could and should be better. I’ve certainly lied and said my “dark” art didn’t mean anything, when clearly it does. Why? For my own protection (young women can very easily be institutionalized for daring to say the world we live in sucks—good thing I’m “old” now), and because people get really really uncomfortable around suicidal people who say they’re suicidal because the world is a fucking awful place.

Instead, people try to rationalize that those of us who see and feel that FUCKING FACT clearly have chemical imbalances in our brains that could be rectified with drugs and therapy to convince us every fucking terrible thing isn’t really terrible. War, racism, misogyny, poverty, homo/transphobia, environmental destruction, etc and so on. A Trump presidency. All these pieces of our every day existence really aren’t so fucking bad. Us poor, help-needing suicidal people have brains that are somehow tricking us into thinking they’re bad. (I’ve been hearing this since I was 14 years old. It’s just not true. How I stay alive is a subject for a different discussion. Feel free to ask.)

We have all these “get help/need help” narratives. What “help” is there for this shitty, toxic world we live in? There’s no “help” for that except for everyone else admitting we live in a shitty, toxic world and making serious efforts to fundamentally change it. And yet, I’ve noticed that the people most vocal in trying to convince me it’s my brain that is the problem are often the least likely to try to make the world a better place at all.

So, I, for one, am really proud of Chris Cornell for fighting the good fight as long and as hard as he did. Love was his drug, but that’s not what he died of. He died from all these systems of oppression, like many artists before him.

I am committed to speaking truth to power on this issue that most people absolutely DO NOT want to engage with or think critically about. I know I’m absolutely not supposed to talk about being a suicidal person because it makes other people extremely uncomfortable. But I have been speaking more and more openly about it the past few years because I think it’s a vital conversation to have as a culture and species.

Yes, Chris Cornell’s artistic body of work is a long suicide note. So is mine. We both tried like hell to live anyway, despite learning that we’re liars, knowing that being alive (as white Americans) is being complicit in all sorts of evil (we daily steal a 1000 beggars’ change and give it to the rich).

I mean, I’m definitely trying and have commitments to my younger sibling, so even though I still have suicidal ideation, I have no intention on acting on the thoughts I typically have several times a year.

“Someone, tried to tell me something: don’t let the world bring you down.
Nothing can do me in before I do myself.”

If we can’t blow up the (wicked, awful, terrible) outside world, sometimes we have to do ourselves in. So maybe we could start talking about how to fundamentally change the outside world so it’s not so freaking toxic and unlivable?

“Not one for giving up though not invincible I know.”

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things

 

favorite things close upToday is the release date for Shadows & Tall Trees Vol. 7, where you can find my latest story, “The Triplets.” My copies arrived Saturday. When my partner went to read the soft cover version, a spider watched him from the ceiling, threatening to drop on him at any second. He wondered if the spider hadn’t been complimentary with the issues…

I couldn’t be more thrilled to be included in this amazing anthology with so many delightfully horrifying writers. Michael Kelly is the best editor anyone could ever hope to work with and an all-around phenomenal human being. I hope you’ll grab a copy while they last. Just look at those beautiful covers!

The Trial of Black Panther

I am super excited to have my novella “The Trial of Black Panther” up at The Fantasist. “The Trial of Black Panther” is the final story from my collection of linked stories: Real Life Superheroes: Crisis on Finite Earth. In it are many superheroes from many walks of life and backgrounds.
 
Before the whole world turned upside down, I was trying to write stories I’d want to read, stories with protagonists readers could identify with who weren’t the usual line up of a bunch of middle-class/rich, cis white dudes and white women OR a bunch of stereotypical characters of color or LGBTQ characters with the usual story-lines and issues mainstream publishing is willing to put in print for the edification of white cis people everywhere.
 
“The Trial of Black Panther” is particularly important to me because it’s in conversation with “The Trial of Thomas Builds-the-Fire” from Sherman Alexie which is in conversation with “The Trial” by Franz Kafka. It explores issues of our current police state and asks what each of us is personally obligated to do in times of crisis and what prevents us from doing the things we should do.

Read it here: http://thefantasistmag.com/the-trial-of-black-panther/

The Internet Makes You Stupid, but I Am Protected

4.30.05 This is the End

I sat in my car outside Lowtax’s, watching his white double door flanked by yellow siding, trying to keep my eyes from closing. After four hours of waiting, I really needed to pee. There was a QuikTrip at the corner, but I was afraid I’d miss Lowtax. Luckily, I couldn’t feel hungry while I needed to pee. It was lunchtime, and a few people walked by devouring fast food. Needing to pee helped me stay awake, but I worried that in my diminished capacity, I might have an accident. I dug around in the backseat and found a mostly empty Mountain Dew bottle, so I put my Chinese dragon sunblocker in the windshield then carefully rolled t-shirts into the windows, so I could still see Lowtax’s front door out of a crack in the driver’s side. I unzipped, got the bottle ready, and let go. It was the best feeling in the world for about 3 seconds until I realized the bottle was fast reaching capacity and my stream was not diminishing. I didn’t have much time to decide anything, so I got on my knees and leaned over to the passenger side floor mat.

I hadn’t slept in over twenty four hours. My coordination was off. The bottle slipped, and I ended up with piss all over the gear shift and a little on the front of my pants, not to mention the floor on the passenger’s side. All the while, I was glancing over my shoulder at Lowtax’s door. I was about to look for napkins when I saw Lowtax.

I didn’t think: I just acted. I zipped up, wiped my hands on my shirt (I know, I know, but I hadn’t slept in over a day, I drove 13 hours, and this was my one shot at getting back in the forums), grabbed my foam hand, and jumped out of the car.

My shirt caught on the seatbelt clip, and I slammed myself in the door. I jerked my shirt free, tearing the corner, and ran across the street where Lowtax was strolling in the direction of the QuikTrip. I caught up and got in front of him. He’s a lot shorter than I thought, skinnier too. He backed up, like I was going to ask him for spare change.

Hunched over and panting, dizzy from taking off running after sitting still, full of caffeine, I whispered, “Lowtax, I’m Duke Chocula.” He started to walk around me. I stood up straight. “Wait, Lowtax, really, I’m Duke Chocula. I came all the way from Ohio to talk to you about my permaban. I love the forums. The goons are my people, my community, this is my life.” I waved my foam hand for emphasis, “Please reconsider. I’m begging you, as one goon to another.”

We stared at each other, me with pleading in my eyes, and Lowtax, I don’t know what he was thinking. He looked me up and down a few times. “Why do you smell like piss?”

We looked down at the same time. My Dockers had quarter-sized dark spots on them, worse than I thought. My shirt had wet handprints on the sides. I shoved my hand in my pocket to feel Ashley’s quiz for moral support, but instead found a soaked and disintegrating mess. I panicked. “Lowtax, look, just hear me out.”

He glared at me. “No, you look. I don’t know who you are or how it is you know where I live, and I don’t want to know. You’re creeping me out. Now get back in your car or tricycle or wheelbarrow or what-the-fuck-ever, and take your ass the hell away from me. If I ever see you near me or my family again, I’m calling the cops.” He walked away.

I’m man enough to admit I started crying.

I stood on that sidewalk, pimped out in my SA gear, covered in piss, and I cried. When a hot chick with a mohawk asked if I needed help, I ignored her. I limped back to my car, climbed in the backseat, and cried myself to sleep.

I woke up to the sound of rain and the smell of dried piss, not immediately remembering where I was. My SA is #1 foam hand was in pieces, which really sucks, since I have no way to get another one. I climbed into the front seat from the back and pulled the t-shirts out of the windows, getting splashed with rain in the process. I drove straight out of Missouri, not stopping until I hit Illinois, which is where I am now, at a McDonald’s with wifi (who knew?). I’m in a corner, trying not to notice the people staring at me, eating a #3, and telling you, blog, my e/n story.

Posted by Duke Chocula at 10:36pm

0 comments so far…

 

 

4.30.05 Wish Me Luck

I drove all night, but I’m finally here, at a Borders with wifi, having a double espresso before I head over to Lowtax’s house with the gear I was saving for GoonCon. I washed up as best I could in the bathroom and changed into my natural color SA shirt with the logo on the front and “The Internet Makes You Stupid” on the back, and I put on my SA ballcap, which is good cuz it hides the greasy state of my hair. My English 101 pin is in the bill for an added touch. I also have my SA is #1 foam hand. I want him to see how dedicated I am to the community. He’s gotta let me back now. All the Red Bull and coffee and espresso are making me a little twitchy, but I gotta talk to Lowtax.

Posted by Duke Chocula at 9:11 am

0 comments so far…

 

 

4.29.05 Do You Have Stairs In Your House?

I am no longer protected. Fuck, fuck fuck fuck. Look at this fucking shit I got this morning!

“Duke Chocula,

Fuck you, rapist. Don’t ever come back.

Lowtax”

HE PERMABANNED ME.

 

Posted by Duke Chocula at 8:26 am.

0 comments so far…

 

 

4.28.05 Deaf Ears

I can’t believe this is happening. I went into IRC to plead my case with my fellow goons, but this is the reception I got:

<DukeChocula> Hey Guys, I need your help.

<goatse4lyfe> Hey look, it’s the rapist.

<happycat> Hay Guys, Raping Women is COOL. AMIRITE?

<DukeChocula> I didn’t write that post! That’s what I want to talk about.

<PhinPhin> Huh? What’s going on?

<happycat> http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?s=&postid=204806832#post204806832

<BlasterCop> DukeChocula: You’re a fag, get out.

<DukeChocula> I’m telling you guys, I didn’t write that post. I was in the library on campus and this girl I like emailed me and I went to meet her and she didn’t show and I came back and was banned.

<PhinPhin> dude, you’re fucking sick

<freebird> He could be telling the truth. I know a goon who watches public computers and when he sees someone logged into SA who leaves, he’ll post ban-mes.

*** happycat changed the topic to: DukeChocula LOVES RAPING WOMEN

<DukeChocula> freebird: ty, I think something like that happened to me. If people would pm Lowtax saying they know I wouldn’t do that, I could clear all this up.

*** fuckyourmom [isotope@69A884.8B4117D0.A14AC03E.IP] has quit [Ping timeout]

*** xanadu [xanadu@2E2721E.8X34467D0.J28DC03E.IP] has joined #sa

<captainunderpants> Who the fuck is DukeChocula? I’ve never seen you before.

<goatse4lyfe> Some rapist fag.

<AlexTrebeck> We should totally kick his ass.

* munster slaps DukeChocula in his bitch head.

<JuvenileWhiskey> I’m down, where is the little rapist?

<AlexTrebeck> Bowling Green, Ohio

<JuvenileWhiskey> That’s only a few hours from me. Who else is in?

<threedollerbill> i’m in

<DukeChocula> Seriously guys, I don’t know what happened. I would never write that.

<CuriousBill> me too

<happycat> Seriously shut the fuck up and get out of here.

*happycat kicks DukeChocula

 

WTF? No one but freebird stood up for me at all.

DarthChrist emailed me and said he didn’t want to say anything in IRC, but I should just register a new account with a different email addy and credit card and handle and avatar and not let anyone know it’s me. But that’s a whole new problem. No one could ever know it was me, so I’d lose all my old friends. Then I’ll just be another stupid newbie and no one will care what I say. I’ll have to spend months trying to meet people again. I mean, I can’t imagine trying to make friends with old friends as somebody new.

No, I gotta talk to Lowtax and get my name cleared. I’ll take 3 months probation if I have to. So long as I can eventually return as Duke Chocula, the guy who isn’t a rapist, I’ll be happy.

I haven’t done any studying yet, and I missed the last Chem lab, which is really going to hurt my grade, but there was no way I could pay attention in lab with this shit going on. I’ve been reading the forums today, accountless, and it makes me feel hollow inside. Every time I want to post a reply or see the YOU HAVE NOT REGISTERED AN ACCOUNT YET banner, I just… it feels awful.

I accidentally tore Ashley’s quiz today while in IRC. I was stroking it, and before I realized what I was doing, I‘d torn a corner off. I taped it back together and it should hold ok.

 

Posted by Duke Chocula at 8:11 pm

0 comments so far…

 

 

4.28.05 It Wasn’t Me!

I got an email back from Ozma. She said, “I’ve seen the misogynistic shit you write in GBS. Fuck you rapist, get out.”

I’ll admit I’ve made a few jokes that were probably in poor taste, but so have other goons. I never meant anything by them. Jesus.

I could just pay the tenbux to reinstate my account, but this is exactly the problem. I don’t want people thinking I’m a rapist. I want them to know I didn’t write that post. What will Ashley think? I’m going to email Lowtax.

“Dear Lowtax,

My name is Duke Chocula. I am a goon registered January 12, 2002. During my 3+ years on the forums, I have only gotten 6 hours of probation once, which I deserved for posting a single emoticon reply, which is explicitly against the rules (despite which, people seem to do it quite often). Today Ozma banned me for posting a rape fantasy, but I was away from the computer when this post was supposedly made by me, so please hear me out!

Here’s what happened: I was working on a research paper at the library when I got an email from this girl I like telling me to meet her in front of the union at 5 because she wanted to talk. Before today, I didn’t even know she knew my name. I’d run into her an hour before on my way to the library, and she asked me if I had stairs in my house. I was so nervous I ran off like a loser. So when I got the email, I was excited and nervous as hell.

It’s finals time, and I didn’t want to lose my computer, so I figured I’d just leave my shit sitting there and it’d be safe for ten to twenty minutes. Big fucking mistake. After twenty minutes waiting at the union, it was obvious she wasn’t going to show. I headed back inside, fuming, fully prepared to take a break and write an e/n thread about how much girls suck and how they play mind games etc, to purge the incident from my system. I got to my computer, and it looked like how I left it, until I pull up the GBS thread I started about finals sucking, only to see that it’d been gassed. I scrolled through and saw a new post from myself that says, “Here’s something I just found that helps me get a little release during finals” and a very vivid description on how to rape a girl. I was like, what the fuck? I looked around the library, but everyone was doing normal library stuff, and I have no idea who did this.

I would never write a post like that. Rape is disgusting and not funny at all. I don’t know who did this or why they did it, but it wasn’t me, Lowtax!

Can I please just get probation for account sharing even though I didn’t intentionally share my account? I love the forums, all my friends are here, and I don’t want people to think that I am some sort of slimy rapist.

I throw myself on your mercy,

Duke Chocula”

 

God, I hope he emails me back soon.

 

Posted by Duke Chocula at 6:52pm.

0 comments so far…

 

4.28.05 I’ve Been Banned?!

Ozma banned me! Like hell I’d post this:

“Here’s something I just found that helps me get a little release during finals:

You know that girl you like who won’t give you the time of day and has some stupid ass jock boyfriend? Fuck her! Follow her home after class. Sneak into her dorm behind her, do this during the day so people won’t be as likely to notice your presence, then walk right into her room, unless she’s locked the door behind her. If she’s locked it, just knock, she’ll answer. Once in the room, mace her and have some balled up socks ready so no one hears her scream. Shove the socks in her mouth and duct tape them in place. She’ll be so shocked it will be easy to throw her on the bed for some good old-fashioned surprise sex. After you’re done, wipe your dick on her pillow and piss on her floor. She’ll be so embarrassed she won’t tell anyone, and you are now ready to get back to work on your finals.”

 

Posted by Duke Chocula at 5:43pm.

0 comments so far…

 

 

4.28.05 Oh No!!!!!!!!!!

On my way to the library, I saw Ashley. She was standing less than ten feet away in front of Olscamp Hall drinking a soda. I stopped for a minute, trying to decide whether I should approach her, then she approached me! She walked up, took a long drink from her straw, then said,

“Peter, right? We’re in Chemlab together?”

“Um, yeah, hi.”

“Do you have stairs in your house?”

Normally I’d be excited to find out a girl is a goon, but my brain flipped to all the e/n threads I’d written about her. I couldn’t say anything. Then this dude walks up and puts his arm around her like he owns her. He’s all super smooth,

“Hey baby, who’s this guy?”

“This is Peter.”

“Oh, this guy?”

At this point, I did what any reasonable person would do. I stuttered that I had to get to the library and ran away. The dude called something after me, but I didn’t understand what he said.

I can’t believe Ashley’s a goon. How did she figure out who I am? Maybe she doesn’t really know. And that guy, her boyfriend I guess, sure didn’t seem like the goon type. His hair was fucking bleached and styled, for christsake.

Fuck, this isn’t getting my Econ final written. I’m going to lay low for a bit and try to get this shit done.

 

Posted by Duke Chocula at 4:18pm.

0 comments so far…

 

 

4.22.05 I saw Ashley again!

I was downstairs eating lunch while trying to finish going over the last Biochem Lab for the semester when I looked up and saw Ashley standing three feet away, scanning the caf for a seat. I was taking a bite of pepperoni pizza, and I didn’t know what to do. Should I offer her the seat next to me? Should I say hi? Should I look away before she caught me staring at her? I wished I was wearing a better pair of Dockers than this pair that has a mustard stain by the crotch, but it’s not like she could really see my pants anyway. So I stared at her, pizza half hanging out my mouth, and she LOOKED RIGHT AT ME. Oh god, I thought I was going to die! But then, she smiled at me. She smiled! She didn’t say, “Ew, what are you looking at, dork?” Nope, she beamed a big beautiful smile at me then walked away and got a seat towards the back of the caf with some other girls. I don’t know if she knows we’re in Biochem 153A together or not, maybe she recognized me or recognized the textbook and figured she might know me or maybe she is just nice, either way, I love her now more than ever. I still have her quiz from the beginning of the quarter in my pocket. She only got a C+, and I really should have offered to tutor her, but then she might have suspected that I have her quiz and that is why the TA couldn’t find it. I think he ended up giving her an A, so really, it was mutually beneficial for me to keep it when I found it stuck to the back of my quiz (A-, if only I hadn’t spaced on the atomic weight of oxygen: -218.4).

I think her quiz has been good luck. You know, having something in her handwriting that I can stroke in my pocket any time I get bored or upset.

I know the goons think I should just get up the balls to ask her out, but I don’t know. I always seem to be doing something stupid every time she sees me, like tying my shoe or sitting there with half a slice of pizza hanging out my face.

And let’s not forget the year is ending so soon. L

 

Posted by Duke Chocula at 1:47pm.

0 comments so far…

 

4.18.05 SA is #1

It came today! My SA is #1 foam hand! This is so kicking rad! Now I can hang it on my wall by my Family Guy rasterbation and take it to the GoonCon in July. I’ll be totally pimpin SA style. I now own: 3 SA t-shirts, an SA hoodie, an English 101 pin, an SA keychain, an SA ballcap, and my foam hand. I’ll be the dorkiest goon at the ball. I do wish some of the goons around here were planning on going so we could carpool and share a room, but most of them say New Orleans is too far away. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. My parents never let me attend one before, but I told them it’s a Linux Convention. I guess I didn’t have to lie since I am technically an adult now, but I didn’t want to hear my mother worrying over whether it’s safe to meet people from the internet, and I definitely don’t want another lecture from my dad about how the Something Awful Forums are a waste of my time and how I should have more real friends and get away from my computer more often, blah blah. The goons are real friends. I guess I could have tried to make some new friends here at Bowling Green, but I’m really busy with my 18 hours of courses. It’s too late now anyway. Finals are coming up with the quickness. I better get back to work.

 

Posted by Duke Chocula at 4:22pm.

0 comments so far…

 

 

4.07.05 Welcome to the New Blog!

I have officially given up my crappy geocities page and moved into the blogosphere. I might move some of the old content over here, but maybe not, there wasn’t much worthwhile there.

Nothing much recently. College is fine. We’re getting close to the end of Spring Quarter. I still don’t know my way around Bowling Green, but I don’t really need to. Everything I need is on campus or Internet.

I still haven’t asked out Ashley. I know, I know. I have that huge e/n thread about it, and everyone is telling me to quit being a pussy and ask her out. I know. The worst that can happen is she says no and then I have to move on, but I don’t know that now is the right time. It’s only a month before school’s out. I don’t think I want to start a relationship that has to turn long distance in a few weeks.

On a happier note, I did reserve a hotel room for GoonCon. If anyone wants to share, let me know, we could easily fit four people in one room.

I also posted my aim again in the latest “post your info” thread, but no one has messaged me yet. L You can find it there or in my profile (blogger or SA) or here: dukechocula86

That is all for now.

 

Posted by Duke Chocula at 3:37pm.

0 comments so far…

 

An Open Letter to the Literary Community

An Open Letter to the Literary Community,

American Letters are in crisis. With the recent election, I’ve seen our community struggle with all the things we got wrong. For decades, we’ve told young writers not to be “political” in their writing, which somehow transformed into “don’t write about anything important. Only write in ways that quietly reinforce the culture we have now.” We took imagination out of fiction and said to write realism or your work wouldn’t be taken seriously, wouldn’t be important. We were wrong in our approaches, even when our intentions were good, and the results have been devastating.

Now more than ever we need writers who look at the broader picture, whose writing will help shape a new world for people to inhabit. We need writers who include a broad range of characters in their stories, essays, plays, and poetry; who don’t treat female, of color, LGBTQ, disabled, etc people and characters as anomalies, as stereotypes or spectacles; who don’t only include those people and characters in supporting roles or only focus on their seemingly “otherness.”

We need writers who look at the broader picture and question themselves and their work and what value it has or doesn’t have. Who think globally and locally. Who are aware of more than themselves and their lives. Who notice the environment and other people. We need writers who are helpful in workshops to all of their peers, who do not try to force their aesthetics onto people who are writing from different backgrounds and experiences, who won’t other their experiences or try to diminish or control their contributions. We need writers who listen. Who think. Who try to help their peers write the best work that they can, in the way they want to write it.

We need writers who read broadly and are familiar with a ride range of literary styles and the works of people from many different backgrounds, including female authors, writers of color, and LGBTQ writers. (And to provide such opportunities and requirements for all of our students.) We need writers who don’t show up to MFA programs and pretend they’re Ernest Hemingway like two-thirds of the men in my MFA program did. Who won’t belittle and diminish peers who aren’t writing from the white male canon of American Literature, and won’t attempt to replicate outdated ideas and norms in their own work (and actions) either.

Most people who attend MFA programs stop writing within a few years, and yet we do very little to protect people from harm while they attend our programs. Those of us who have MFAs, who aren’t middle class cis white men, have the battle scars from finishing our degrees, the wounds from being forced to listen to people who didn’t listen to us, who were unfamiliar with traditions outside the mostly white male literary canon presented in Kindergarten-graduate school classrooms across the country. Sometimes it wasn’t only our peers, but our faculty who didn’t take our ideas and contributions seriously, who didn’t have any knowledge of feminist schools of writing, of the reality of life and writing for people of color, for bi-lingual writers, of what’s being done in the LGBTQ writing community, of environmental writing, etc.

Ignorance and an adherence to a colonial point of view in our deeply white supremacist, misogynistic, racist, classist, elitist literary canon has pushed most of us to the margins and kept us there, maybe with a few electives on the contributions to literature by people like us (women, people of color, poor people, non-cis people, etc), as core courses replicate dangerous power structures and work to silence our voices on multiple levels. At the same time, people who are NOT us occasionally tell their versions of our stories and win awards for treating us as stereotypes and spectacles, then are told how brave they are for writing stories about those poor, sad marginalized people.

Now more than ever, it’s vitally important to American Letters to train a new generation of writers from a broader swathe of the population, and I know from personal experience that the only way that can be a truly productive and inclusive environment is if the majority of the people involved are on the same page morally, ethically, creatively, and intellectually, if we share the same commitments to equality and inclusion and hearing new voices speak to us in new ways. We all aspire to greatness in our craft, in our style, and now, we all need to aspire to greatness in our content as well. There are enough stories about the thoughts and feelings and experiences of middle class white men that don’t include the thoughts and feelings and experiences of other people. We’ve already exceeded the limits for how many stories we laud and force other people to read that are essentially about white men and their very important feelings. We need a better, more thoughtful, more inclusive, more forward-looking literature. Our courses need to be inclusive, and our MFA programs need to be inclusive and constructive in ways they haven’t been to date.

I am writing this as a person who has a BA and MFA in creative writing, who was the 2011-2013 Fiction Fellow at Emory University, who by 2014 decided to take a break from the “literary” community because of all of these problems. Literary magazines say they’re looking for diversity and inclusion, but then I’d read the same old stories told the same old ways. I was sick of it, so I started seeing other people. In genre magazines, I found important stories about a wide variety of people in a variety of circumstances. Stories with protagonists of color, female protagonists, LGBTQ protagonists, where the stories weren’t about their “otherness.” In genre magazines, I read stories that actually mattered, that were about important issues of the day and the wider world outside the precious thoughts and feelings of academic white writers.

Before the election, I was quietly filing for divorce from the “literary community,” but I now realize I need to make an effort to make the literary community a better place that actually lives up to the ideals it’s so proud of that it doesn’t actually practice. I am calling on each and every one of you to look at yourselves, at your courses, at your programs, at your literary magazines, at your admissions processes, at your own writing, and decolonize. Words are great. Of course I think so, I’m a writer too. But, as Octavia Butler said, “Belief initiates and guides action—or else it does nothing.” It’s time to act on our beliefs.

Best,
Harmony Neal
happyepsilon@gmail.com

PS: Please feel free to share my statement and/or your own similar calls to action wherever you’d like, with no need for additional permission from me.

What’s Up With All the Unicorns?

Unicorns are awesome.

I believe most aspects of our culture to be toxic and in favor of creating wealth for the rich while preventing most people from living fulfilling, meaningful lives. Human flourishing isn’t a priority at all. In fact, in the past, major employers tested out shorter work hours and discovered that when people worked less, they spent their free time doing meaningful activities instead of buying crap. That’s a huge no-no in a capitalistic culture, so they took back the option of working 32 hours a week instead of 40+. The wealthy want us exhausted so we’re easy to trick into leading meaningless lives of consumption.

There are so many obvious ways racism, misogyny, toxic masculinity, advertising, consumerism, glorification of work for work’s sake, etc play into this, but there are also many many small ways human flourishing is blocked by cultural norms and expectations. One of the things that concerns me is ideas about what’s for children and what’s for “adults.” Creativity and imagination and fun are for children. REALITY (narrowing defined) is for “adults.” There are so many invisible forces working on us, telling us what we are and aren’t allowed to like, be, do.

I always loved unicorns as a child. Why is it bad for an adult to like unicorns? I prefer animals to humans on multiple levels. (My smileamazon account is linked to The Nonhuman Right’s Project.) A unicorn is an imaginary, wonderful, magical animal. I am into all of those things. Why am I not allowed to like those things as an adult? And if I do, why am I supposed to be ashamed of that fact?

Because a person who loves unicorns and isn’t afraid to say so probably also doesn’t love things like 50-hour-work weeks and rape culture, etc. A culture that wants to humiliate people for benign things like unicorns is trying to prevent people from expressing other unpopular ideas as well. I am committed to expressing my unpopular, anti-consumer culture, anti-capitalist ideas. A unicorn is an easy symbol of that. It’s not direct. It’s not obvious, but it does send a message. ❤