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Review: “Love In the Time of Zombies”

Last weekend Elisa and I were honored to be invited to review Vagabond Alley Productions‘ “Love In the Time of Zombies,” which opened on Saturday. We were doubly honored when the Horror Honeys offered to host said review as part of their Undead Thursday line-up!

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The play’s central plot-line is the most fundamental of zombie tropes: our heroes are in a safe enclosed space, fighting the zombie hordes, when another survivor (Robert Hankins) comes into their sanctuary with a suspicious wound. This scene is practically obligatory in any zombie media, and it’s easy to see why. You’ve got immediate tension, a mystery to solve—is it a cut or a bite?—and the ethical questions of whether or not to kill the infected person before they turn. (Pro tip: It’s never just a cut. Tie that guy up before it’s too late.)

Click on over for the full review, and thank you again to Vagabond Alley and the Horror Honeys for giving me a chance to actually use my degree for its intended purpose. It’s a fun show: if you’re in Seattle and in the mood for some late-night zombies and live theatre, check it out! Tickets are only $10 online.

And if you enjoy me and Elisa yakking about horror, you should also check out our fledgling podcast, Femimonstrosity, wherein we sit around with coffee and ramble about movies like Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Rosemary’s Baby. I promise it’s worth every penny.

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‘Authentic’ Shakespeare? Not Really.

‘Authentic’ Shakespeare? Not Really.

Samuel Barnett as Viola and Mark Rylance as Olivia in “Twelfth Night.”

This is so, SO interesting. Elizabeth Dalton writes in the Wall Street Journal about whether the current run of Twelfth Night on Broadway is really as “authentic” to Elizabethan staging practices as it could be:

These Shakespearean boy actors could indeed have appeared girlish. Although the age of puberty now seems to be heading rapidly downward towards kindergarten, in Renaissance Europe it was quite late. Even in mid-19th-century England the average age of menarche—first menstruation—was 17, so it must have been at least that late in Shakespeare’s day. The nutritional and other factors involved in the onset of puberty presumably applied equally to boys, who tend to mature later than girls. Thus the audience might well have believed Malvolio when he says of Viola disguised as Caesario: “Not yet old enough for a man . . . ; one would think his mother’s milk were scarce out of him.”

Continue reading

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A Requiem for Molly, the “Archived” American Girl Doll

Cover of Meet Molly

Molly looked EXACTLY like me, so of course she was the American Girl I was least interested in. Kirsten was my favorite.

Anne Helen Petersen reflects on American Girl dolls, childhood consumerism, and the values we absorbed in spite of ourselves in a piece that articulates feelings I didn’t even know I had.

I’m not, strictly speaking, a Molly. I had a Samantha and a Kirsten, and both of them spoke volumes about who I wanted to be (privileged, so well dressed, urban) and who I was (Scandinavian, solidly built, rural). Chiara Atik has already written the definitive statement on what your doll says about you, and I don’t disagree with her assessment of Molly-owners:

If you had Molly, you probably wanted Samantha instead, but contented yourself with Molly because you too wore glasses, liked books, were bad at math, and would concoct various schemes to get attention. (Oh, Molly.) If you were a Molly, and had a Molly (as opposed to being a Molly and aspirationally owning a Felicity), you were imbued, then and now, with an immutable sense of self. At least Molly could tap dance, which is frankly more talent than any of the other girls exhibited.

Truth: Molly was the least showy and, at least of the original, lily-white, middle-class American dolls, the only one with any sort of class consciousness. It was a consciousness enforced by the war, but still, the book’s renderings of thrift were my introduction, other than A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, to what it meant to sacrifice, and how to substitute the feelings of resentment with those of purpose and solidarity.

I look back on my own years spent poring over the American Girl catalog with a red pen, circling the exceedingly expensive swag I wanted from Santa for Christmas, and baking petit fours for the American Girl Doll Club, and it’s hard not to view it all with a strong sense of cynicism. But the books were another matter: sure, they were another way for the Pleasant Company and later Mattel to get me to empty my parents’ wallets, but I think they taught me more than I realized. For better or for worse, maybe, but mostly I think for better.

Au revoir, Molly McIntire.

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Extreme, ridiculous, funny yet horrible: Indiana makes applying for a same-sex marriage license felonious

Please click here for a correction to this post. Thanks to Andrea for the article!

Extreme, ridiculous, funny yet horrible: Indiana makes applying for a same-sex marriage license felonious

Want to hear something that is so ridiculously extreme I have to laugh at it?

A same-sex couple applying for a marriage license in Indiana will be guilty of a Level 6 felony, punishable by 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Furthermore,

The new law also makes it a Class B Misdemeanor for a clergyman, judge, mayor, city clerk or town clerk-treasurer to perform a same-sex marriage, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Silly me, I was under the impression that the LAST thing same-sex marriage opponents wanted was the government legislating what kind of marriages could be performed, because then the government would surely FORCE good heterosexual evangelical Christians and Catholics to perform same-sex weddings. Forcing everyone to not perform same-sex weddings, on the other hand, is apparently totally fine. Doesn’t set up a precedent for charging people with misdemeanors for performing or not performing a specific kind of marriage at all. As Sadly, No! says, It’s Always Projection.

I can’t help seeing this as the final, violent death throes of the opposition to same-sex marriage. When you have to start splitting hairs to this point (“Because Indiana marriage license forms have a space for ‘male applicant’ and ‘female applicant’, any same-sex couple filling out the form would automatically violate the law [against furnishing false information on a marriage license]”) then you’re losing. And a year and a half jail sentence for applying for a marriage license? It’s so over-the-top and draconian that it’ll never stand up to legal scrutiny or public opinion.

Don’t get me wrong, this law is terrible, and I feel awful for same-sex couples in Indiana — where same-sex marriage is already illegal under state law, I should point out. This law is kicking a group that’s already been down in Indiana for a while. But I really do think it’s one of the last flailing, foaming-at-the-mouth convulsions of this kind of legislative hatred. It is unquestionably terrible to watch and terrible to be in its range, but it won’t last forever.

A somewhat hopeful closing from that same article:

Although same-sex marriages are currently banned by state law, the Republican controlled General Assembly is considering submitting an amendment to the state constitution for a vote of the people next year. The decision will be made in the January-March 2014 legislative session. It is unclear whether such an amendment would survive a popular vote, as recent polling finds a majority of Indiana residents are now against a constitutional amendment forbidding marriage equality.

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Slacktivist: When you meet someone who’s been told they don’t matter, give them a chance to matter

Slacktivist: When you meet someone who’s been told they don’t matter, give them a chance to matter

I have very little to add to Fred Clark’s post today; I just want to call attention to it.

Beck describes a couple of men like that who attend his church. They’re lonely and powerless and seeking a sense of significance in a world that regards people like them as insignificant. One has become a “confabulator,” using tall tales to find a sense of importance. The other seems to be perpetually injured. Beck says of these Eleanor Rigbies:

Though his stories don’t jibe with reality, you listen attentively and express interest and concern. Because he wants to matter.

And:

When you see him you inquire about his most recent injury. And he tells you the story of the accident. And you listen because this is how he matters.

[…] To be honest, in my case, it’s not always accurate. I often look for any chance I can find to escape from people like those Beck describes, to avoid having to listen to their stories, which tend to be frustratingly long and time-consuming, and I haven’t got a lot of time to spare. I have other things I have to do — important things, things that matter, and …

Uh-oh.

[…] In Richard Beck’s terms, “We all want to matter.” We all require some sense of “respect, esteem and interest.” Once I realized that cheerfully accepting the superfluous instructions or inaccurate advice of one of those various bosses was an opportunity to allow them that, I was able to take the focus off myself — and thus off of my reflexive resentment over being denied even that slight source of mattering. I began, instead, repeating the mantra: This is water. This is water.

When you meet someone who maybe feels like they don’t matter — or who has been told they don’t matter, or who has been assigned a lot in life that the world says doesn’t matter — you have the chance to choose consciousness over unconsciousness. You have the chance to regain a piece of some infinite thing.

I’m going to go into this more in the video I’m working on critiquing Jerry Spinelli’s Stargirl, but the tasting portion for now is: you cannot always, in every situation, be the person making other people feel that they matter. That’s an unrealistic expectation, and it sets you up for failure. Nobody has limitless reserves.

But Fred Clark and Richard Beck’s point here, I think, is that you don’t have to give that much to make someone else feel like they matter. Just — give someone a few minutes of your time and listen. Let them tell you what matters to them. Let them know you heard them — “reassure them that they are deserving of respect, esteem and interest.”

Because they are.

You are.

Don’t forget that.

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Another blog rec: man boobz

A woman wearing a dinosaur mask, wearing a T-shirt that reads

I’m sure this picture makes sense in context. Somehow.

Another blog recommendation: man boobz, by the irrepressible and inimitable David Futrelle. I discovered man boobz sometime last year, devoured the archives, and now look forward to its updates in my Google Reader every day.

This recommendation comes with a major content warning. Man boobz is dedicated to exposing, critiquing, and mocking the Men’s Rights movement and misogyny in general. Futrelle does an excellent job of quoting and citing the people he’s calling out, letting their words speak for themselves — but that means that very often he is discussing topics like rape, domestic violence, and sexual harassment, and his blog often contains extremely misogynistic language. If those are likely to be triggering or upsetting to you, you may want to steer clear. That said, Futrelle does a pretty good job of putting in his own trigger and content warnings when he’s discussing particularly vile stuff.

(It also sometimes contains kittens to clear the palate.)

While I read Slacktivist to remind me that there’s hope and love and hippies out there, I read man boobz to remind myself that there’s still a lot to be angry about, a lot to fight for. The people Futrelle quotes are often cartoonishly horrible, but they’re still real. They are real actual people who think insanely terrible things about me because I’m a woman and a feminist. They are actually for real out there. (I have lived a fairly charmed life in terms of knowing good men who consider me a person — or at least polite men who treated me that way — so sometimes it’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that these retrograde excuses for humans exist in the real world.)

But people like Futrelle are also out there, calling those cartoonishly awful people out and doing it with humor and wit. So that does give me some hope.