Mary Sue Lama revisited

I decided, in the spirit of fairness, to try to read “Cave of the Ancients,” the second in the Rampa series. I thought it might have been the one where they saw the giant gold Buddhas that were actually mummies or something, but no.

It was the one where Lama Dumbledore said that test-tube babies have no souls. He said if the conception wasn’t done in the “natural” way where a maaaaaaan loves a wo-muuuun, the baby would be broken and soulless.

Also, he cured cerebral palsy by yanking on a kid’s aura.

And did a double amputation in five minutes.

And said that sex was a man’s right and if a woman didn’t provide it, she would have bad karma.

I forget exactly which of these made me throw the book. I think it might have been the soulless baby thing.





The Englishman Who Fell Out Of A Tree And Became Mary Sue

Hello again, it’s been a while hasn’t it? I’ve been busy, sick, out of town, you name it. But I’m back now, with a blast from the past.

Many years ago I had this friend. He was into all things occult and mystical, even joining the Rosicrucian Order and trying Breatharianism. One time he spent 40 days in a cabin in the desert during midsummer, only drinking water and meditating. He said he had severe chest pains the last week or so, and was proud of his “detox.” I was fairly certain the only thing he was purging was healthy heart muscle, as starvation causes muscle breakdown first.

One year he got really into these books about a Tibetan lama called T. Lobsang Rampa.

I read all the ones he had, and towards the end, they got a little samey and preachy, but the first one stuck in my memory so vividly that I decided to revisit it.

With the benefit of around 16 years’ distance, it’s amazing how much better the book was in my memory than on the page.

I apologise if at any point I step on any legitimate religious toes here, but Rampa’s idea of lamaism was so far off reality I doubt that will be an issue. I am not picking on actual Tibetan Buddhism – rather, Rampa’s fictionalised version of it.

Here’s a good article about the man behind the monk:

We start in what is ostensibly the 1950s, or 2081 by the Phugpa calendar(Tibet has complex calendar systems- astrology, skip-days, and lunisolar), and the imposition of Chinese standards later in the 20th century didn’t make matters any simpler.) Somehow, this 7 year old prince who has never left Tibet knows what year it is outside the Himalayas, and also that the Chinese are coming.


Also, the T in his name apparently stands for “Tuesday,” claiming he was named for the day of the week on which he was born.

Excuse me while I laugh my ass off. Tuesday is an Old English word, coming from “Tiw’s Day,” a Germanic translation of “dies Marti,” meaning “Day of Mars.” The Tibetan word for that day of the week is གཟའ་མིག་དམར་ – roughly pronounced Mikmar.

If he’d just bothered to say “Mikmar Lobsang Rampa,” he could have sold the “day of the week” theory. In fact, there are a few day-names which are also used as forenames, like “Dawa” and “Lhakpa.’ But by insisting on the English word “Tuesday,” he left the door wide open for Actual Tibetans to call bullshit.

Next it’s his big birthday feast, though really the party is for his parents to show off to everyone in town just how much of a party they can afford to throw, and also to bring the monks to read his astrological charts and tell him what he’ll be when he grows up. He’s promptly informed that he’s to be a monk, and a week later, he’s kicked out to join the lamasery. If he fails to get accepted, his father says, he’ll be disowned.

He gets in, and within mere days, one of the senior lamas takes notice of him and declares he will get special training and treatment based on the astrology report. He was apparently a lama in his previous life, one who was very advanced. And – what are the odds – he and the senior lama were BFFs in that previous life!

Now, Previous Incarnations are a thing in Tibetan Buddhism, and a valid one insofar as their religion goes. It doesn’t mean that all small boys who are marked as PIs will, in fact, stick it out – some leave the lamasery in a kind of rumspringa fit and never return. Which, if the astrologers are honest with themselves, they really should have seen coming…

But apparently, for ol’ Lobsang, this is just the thing he wanted to hear, because now he gets 1 on 1 tutoring from Lama Dumbledore Dondup, and life gets a little easier for a while.

Until his 8th birthday, which is apparently celebrated with fucking trepanation.

They drill a hole in his forehead, stick a magic herb toothpick in the hole, seal it up and leave him in the dark for a few weeks. And when he comes out, he’s not dead or irreversibly brain damaged, nope – he’s got fucking superpowers.

Now, the idea of a Third Eye that could give one extrasensory perception, telepathy, aura-seeing, etc isn’t a new one nor is it unique to Tibetan religion, but what is unique is the idea of inflicting a potentially-fatal wound in order to achieve it.

The most likely location of such a place in humans is the pineal gland, which is a little oddball in the center of the brain that’s affected by light, generates melatonin, and is implicated in circadian rhythm dysfunction. Its location corresponds to that of the Crown Chakra, which is considered critical to attaining enlightenment/kundalini/the third eye.

Being that it is so deep within the brain, you could not possibly trepan yourself deep enough to touch the pineal gland without slicing through  your frontal lobe, which would do permanent, if not fatal damage.

So Lobsang survives the head-stabby, wakes up and can immediately see everyone’s aura in full Technicolor, Lama Dumbledore laughs and then they go off to talk about how Western people are dumb and literally suck rocks. (No, seriously. He spends a lot of the book ranting about the evils of the West, and how they lost their powers because of materialism. He also opens the second book with a chapter that is pretty much the same thing, but with bonus Atlantis!)

As our youngling grows, the language begins to more and more resemble that of a middle-aged man, and this is handwaved. Not by the fact that the author is writing from his middle-aged-reminiscing POV, which would makes sense, but by the fact that this 10 year old child is actually an old guy reincarnated.

He also becomes – by benefit of “hypnotic training,” an herbalist, a surgeon, and able to recite every scripture perfectly from memory.

Then they go kite-flying. Of course, no ordinary kites for this boy, but man-sized box kites! A fellow monk falls to his death and all they say is, “well, he was kind of a dick.” And Lobsang, being a naturally gifted (and by now, pre-teen) avionics engineer, figures out all by himself how to make the kites controllable and safe, and wouldn’t you know it, the Kite Master has just such a kite in his storage but he’s never been able to make it work. Yes, the lifetime of learning and practice has given him just enough knowledge to build the controllable kite, but not to make it fly! Oh woe! Whatever shall he do? How lucky for him that Lobsang is there to show him his failings and make the kite fly!

Of course it all works perfectly the first time and not only that, but the other monk who tries to fly it falls and dies. Only Lobsang can fly it. He is the magic boy.

I think this was the part where I threw the book across the room shouting “HE’S A GOD DAMN MARY SUE!”

And it just gets weirder. He’s also become besties with not only Dumbledore and the Abbot of the lamasery – now the Dalai Lama wants in on this! (Not the current one, but his predecessor.) Dalai Lama is super impressed with Lobsang and puts his name in the Triwizard Cup list of People He Trusts To Help Him Deal With The Chinese Invaders. He recruits Lobsang as a spy to read the auras and thoughts of the Chinese visitors, and later the English ones, finally sending him out of the country on a Sooper Seekrit Spy Mission to those evil backwards unenlightened Western places.

Which is where the story ends.

Not quite. There’s also massive Siamese cats that guard tombs, and Yetis.







The Last Time I Saw Her

The phone rings with a number I don’t recognise.

“Hey girl! It’s me, Vonnie! Whatcha doing?”


“I’m at work, can’t talk right now, but I do have things to tell you. Let’s catch up tonight.”

“Ok! Dinner, my treat.”

Vonnie is a five-foot-and-shrinking tornado, a dried apple doll in a t-shirt dragging a suitcase behind her everywhere. She sleeps in the mammoth Cadillac she’s owned for a few years now, since she refuses to stay put for more than a few months at a time. She tells me it’s because she’s a journalist and needs to document the realities of poverty and houselessness. I figured out a while back this is the lie she tells herself to make it all right.

After work I hop to the post office to mail my sister a parcel for Christmas, and Vonnie calls again. I meet her just as the sun’s going down on the east side.

I park on a side street and we go to the restaurant where the waiter ignores us and the kitchen belches out vinegar fumes every time the doors open for a server to emerge. We decide to go downtown.

“You’ll have to drive,” she says casually. “My license is suspended.”

The car is dark turquoise, and in the December evening it’s almost invisible. We walk the streets for some fifteen minutes, and she gets more and more frantic, name-calling, angry. I throw up my hands. “YOU try finding a specific Volvo on Hawthorne!” I shout.

Finally we find it and head to the restaurant. We’re chewing the same fat we have for the last seven years, telling stories of politicians we’ve worked for, of the evil sisters who poisoned her with lye and stole her inheritance,  of the never-ending lawsuit against them, of her three ex-husbands, each worse than the one before; of that time that Blair punched me because the candidate she was in love with hugged me and not her, or when the teapot-shaped Congressman leapt onto the rickety card table to rally the troops with a speech in the party office. We chew the fat till it becomes soap in our mouths, till it burns our tongues to speak. She asks me how I’m doing, how home life is, and what my news is.

I tell her, because she’s my friend. I tell her, because she has told me everything and I have listened and held it close for her. She goes silent.

We get to the restaurant, and make a small mountain of Chinese food disappear.

“Why didn’t you just tell me on the phone?” Vonnie asks.

Because not everyone knows yet, I want to say. Because they’re ashamed of me.
Because I’m ashamed of me. Because I thought you wouldn’t want to visit me after all.

“I thought you were pregnant,” she says. “I was hoping it was that.”

“I’m in no shape to carry a child right now,” I say, though this is just a gut feeling more than anything else. It’s another five years before the tests confirm that I was right, that my body was a miscarriage machine.

I drive her back to where she parked, as she tells me about her former friends who don’t want to see her anymore. The list seems to get longer every time we meet.

The ancient Caddy is gone from its parking space.

“This is your fault,” she says, gritting brown teeth.

“I don’t see how,” I say. “It’s got a big NO PARKING sign and towing stuff written underneath.”

“But it’s after hours!”

“All Days, All Hours,” I read from the red and white sign that’s right in front of where the Caddy was. “They towed you. Couldn’t you see that?”

“I’ve got cataracts!” she cries. “I can’t see that far ahead.”

She calls the impound number and finds out they towed it 20 minutes after she parked.

“It’s still your fault,” she says, fuming. “If we’d just stayed at the first restaurant this wouldn’t have happened.”

I drop her at the house where she’s staying, with the relatives she loathes, who she excoriated gleefully over cashew chicken. I know she’s only there because she has no one else left.

I head home, talk to my sister, and decide that maybe it’s time for me to make some space from Vonnie. Strange thing to say in a friendship that is marked by long periods of silence – but at least in the silence I have the illusion of her concern.

Before I can make a move, it’s Christmas Day, and the husband’s phone is ringing with an unfamiliar number. He answers.

“No, I can’t talk right now,” he says, and hangs up. She calls again, and he turns the phone off.

A few days later I notice the red light blinking on the phone.

“You have seven new messages,” the robot voice chimes.

Vonnie’s voice pours out, a torrent of hatred and anger, a warning to the husband.

“She is an evil, horrible liar-”

“-cheating on you-”

“-made me eat horrible food and it was expensive too-”

“-got my car towed-”

In the fifth message she addresses me directly.

“You had no right to tell me that filth. I didn’t want to know.”

“You are breaking your parents’ hearts-”

“-sticking your head up a girl’s butt-”

It goes on for three more messages, each message is a good ten minutes long. I delete them all. I still loathe voicemail, years later.

She spent half an hour on Christmas Day to berate me from afar.

She spent her precious phone minutes to tell me I was evil.

I can smell smoke as somewhere a bridge burns up.

When she comes through town again, with that tattered suitcase full of mysteries, where will she go?

I follow her sometimes online, tracing her steps till I hit the inevitable paywalls. I can see her heading south on a bus, to her only child, back up to the storage locker that somehow hasn’t been cracked open for auction yet, down to the homeless shelters, and then…nothing.

The trail goes cold, but it’s littered with ashes. Everyone she meets, everyone who loves her, everyone who tries to help –

This is how Vonnie fell out of the world.


Everyone in this story is real, though the names are fake. The real Vonnie spent many days on my spare futon throughout the course of our friendship, I’m not a heartless monster. I still don’t know what happened to her, but I still hope she’s all right.

























Star Wars: The Foul-mouthed Droid Awakens

Here’s my thoughts on the new Star Wars film, in two parts.

1. The non-spoilery:

Now, full disclosure time –  Star Wars isn’t my primary fandom. Heck, it’s not even in my top three. I’m a Whovian first and foremost, a Trekkie next, and a Grimmster -shake your head if you like, but I enjoy that daft little show.

Star Wars is one of those cultural institutions that I respect, but don’t go out of my way to indulge in. Or didn’t, until one of my favorite authors(Chuck Wendig, just in case you’ve never read this blog before) went and wrote a book set in the Star Wars ‘verse to get us all ready for the new film. It’s called Aftermath, and you might have heard of it because of the kerfuffle surrounding the trolls in its Amazon reviews. If you were to read these, your eyes might bleed from the WTFery contained therein, but I highly recommend reading the actual book instead.

And then one of my best friends saw Episode 7 and said it was wonderful, and as she’s trusted my opinions on entertainment before, I decided to trust hers.

This film ticked a lot of boxes. Nostalgia. Fanservice. Action. Conflict. Humor. Big booming John Williams score. Adorable droids. Et cetera.

I can’t help but compare it with the experience of watching Episode 1 years back – I was so excited then,and left feeling so hollow. Everything looked right in that particularly elaborate Star Wars way, but it didn’t feel like anything. I felt lost in the mess of a plot, and the characters were fairly wooden. I didn’t care what happened to them. They failed to make me care.

Episode 7, on the other hand, made me care. They gave me fully fleshed out characters, simple plots that tangled together to make a larger, more satisfying story, and even got me to pay attention during the protracted battle scenes, of which there were several. I actually cared who was in those little ships, so I barely blinked watching them zip around shooting at each other.

Even the little droid BB-8, who’s been plastered on every available inch of advertising space in the universe by now, has more personality than most of the cast of Episode 1. By design he’s got more subtle movement, and thus more emotive capacity, than any other droids I’ve seen. This includes C-3P0, who is sadly gifted with a frozen face that undercuts anything else he might want to express. The fan theory that R2-D2 is a foulmouth is even canonised in a throwaway line by another character who retorts “Don’t you call me that!”

So Star Wars. It gave me some stars, some war, and some characters I gave a fuck about, topped off with a cliffhanger that has me genuinely curious about Episode 8.

Now, below the sweary droid* lie great whacking spoilers, so turn away now!


       *quotes provided by Malcolm Tucker

2. The spoilery

REY! Oh my goodness, Rey. She’s knowledgeable, she’s clever, she’s resourceful, she’s got the Force – holy shit, I really hope they don’t screw this up. We last see her standing before Luke Skywalker, holding out his lightsaber – the very saber that called to her and showed her she had the Force.

Speaking of the Force – no more midichlorian bullshit! It’s back to being that which is within us and surrounds us again like it’s god damn supposed to be.

Finn!!! A reformed Stormtrooper, now that’s a surprise, and a good one! Even while he’s still in his armor, you can see his humanity breaking through, and it doesn’t take long for him to realise he’s not cut out for slaughtering innocents on Jakku(or anywhere else.) I really enjoyed John Boyega’s acting in this role, and he’s one to keep an eye on in my book. For playing a soldier brainwashed from childhood, he has a lot of complexity and feeling – proof, as well, that a person’s true humanity cannot so easily be quelled.

Which brings me to Kylo Ren. A young man torn between the light and the dark, who ultimately chooses darkness, and is now presumed dead alongside his father. It’s a terrible waste, and it feels like one.

Captain Phasma looks cool but doesn’t do much (except, apparently, anger fanboys who pre-emptively cosplayed her assuming she was male – there’s a screenshot of this very scenario floating around somewhere, it’s a hoot) but with her fate left up in the air, she may be back to make more mayhem in the next film.

Han and Leia are there doing their fanservice, of course, but they also serve an important role in bridging the events of the years (and films) past to the events of now. They also show the human cost of war in a beautiful, terrible way.


Overall, it’s a solid film, and makes me hopeful for the next episode. I’m not going to cosplay it or anything, and at $12 a pop, I’m unlikely to see it again while it’s still in theaters – but it’ll be fun to watch later at home, with the pause button at the ready, so I can squee over the really good bits over and over.

I might have to acquire myself a BB-8 though. That little fucker is seriously adorable.













On Companions

Warning: This post contains MASSIVE SPOILERS.













It was the hashtag #ClaraDeathParty that set me off.

And later, the taunting of a fan who was in mourning, with comments like “She’s a fictional character, get over it.”

I think to myself, not for the first time, goddamn Whooligans.

The term “Whooligan” (as opposed to “Whovian”) came about with the 2005 revival (I refuse to say “reboot,” it’s not a reboot if you just pick up where you left off) of Doctor Who.

Whooligans are fans whose fandom begins and ends with Their Doctor, as long as that Doctor is Nine or later. They refuse to watch the older episodes for various reasons, usually boiling down to a lack of trouser-tingles for the actors who portrayed the Doctor back then.

Anywho. The reason I bring this whole Whovian-vs-Whooligan split up is because of what I’ve seen since the  episode “Face the Raven” aired.

In “Face the Raven,” an innocent man is condemned to die by the mayor of a refugee village, and Clara decides to take his place. She’s operating under the belief that whatever condemned him in the first place can be resolved in time. She’s been assured she is under the mayor’s protection, and beyond that, she is under the Doctor’s protection.

But this is a situation where even the Doctor cannot save her. And he does try. He threatens to bring the entire world crashing down around the mayor’s ears if she doesn’t lift the sentence.

Clara tells the Doctor that “your reign of terror will end the first time you hear a baby crying,” and then they say their farewells, and it’s heartbreaking.

And Clara Oswald – Clara Prime, in fact – dies.

This is where the nasty little trolls crawl out from under their rock to celebrate. They celebrate Clara’s death, they say “maybe now the show can be good again.”

I don’t personally like having factions in my fandom. It makes for tension and fandom is my escape from tension.

But when I see shit like “Thank goodness Clara’s dead, I hated her anyway,” it’s often usually followed by “I can’t wait for Moffat to go” or “I hate Capaldi” or “Bring back Tennant” type statements.

And that’s when I want to bring out my 5-pound Peter Haining Doctor Who compendiums and clobber some Whooligans over the head.

Look. I get you don’t like everything you see. Them’s the breaks, especially when you’re getting into a show that’s been around in one form or another for 52 years.

I get that you might even loathe a character at times. I’m no great fan of Rose Tyler, for example, and I’m glad she’s gone, because she would have ended up just like Clara if she’d stayed. Think about it. She’s reckless, she’s convinced she’s indestructible, and where Clara thought she was being just like the Doctor, Rose thought the Doctor was just like her. They’re both blind to the very real dangers their travels put them in, and I absolutely believe that were it not for Pete Tyler’s blind leap of faith, Rose Tyler would have been dead.

And the Doctor tried to prevent that. He sent her away from the battle and she came back(against his wishes) and nearly paid with her life. He sent her away again after that, and she came back again, and finally he had to give her his own half-human clone just to get her to stay put. (People are angry to this day because he didn’t say those “three little words,” but if you’re repeatedly putting yourself in mortal danger and someone is repeatedly gently removing you from said mortal danger to safety, they must love you at least a little, you know?)

He told Clara he was worried about her recklessness, and she kept blowing him off until she got herself into something she couldn’t blow off.

The Doctor: This is my fault.
Clara: This is my choice.
The Doctor: I let you get reckless.
Clara: Why? Why shouldn’t I be so reckless? You’re reckless. All the bloody time. Why can’t I be like you?
The Doctor: Clara, there’s nothing special about me. I am nothing, but I am less breakable than you. I should’ve taken care of you.
Clara: I never asked you to.
The DoctorYou shouldn’t have to ask.

Back to the Whooligan debate.

We have lost Companions before. Rory and Amy were lost to the Weeping Angels, but they got to live out their full lives, just in a different time period, their family fractured. (Remember that River Song is their daughter, and the Doctor their son-in-law. Wibbly-wobbly.)

Rose, of course, lost to the alternate Earth with copies of her original family.

The Brigadier, from old age. (He counts, damnit. Three/Brig was a bromance for the ages.)

Jamie and Zoe, their memories wiped, returned to their own times.

“But Sporky,” I hear you saying, “Those people didn’t die before our very eyes! We didn’t get to SEE! It doesn’t count!”

Ah-ha, but there’s one more.


And here’s where the fandom sorts itself into two neat piles, because there’s nary a Whooligan who will recognise that name.

Back in the day, when the Doctor was portrayed by Tom Baker, aka “the one with the Scarf,” there was a young man named Adric, and he lived on a planet called Alzarius over in E-Space.

Well one day Adric stowed away in the TARDIS and thus our fourth Doctor found himself with three companions, as he’d also collected the wayward air hostess Tegan and the orphaned Trakenite Nyssa previously. Things were ok. They more or less got along. But then Adric invited himself on board, and things got tense.

The newcomer was a bit of a brat. Part of that was likely because he’d never met anyone outside his own little village before, but part of it was because he was a genius and he knew it. He was a math genius, and he was so excited to have other geniuses to bounce off of that he ended up annoying the living daylights out of the Doctor and Nyssa. Nyssa just withdrew, Tegan shouted back, the Doctor was probably swearing in Gallifreyan under his breath and hoping the TARDIS didn’t translate any of it. It was not a happy time.

During the story “Earthshock,” Adric finds himself on a ship that is doomed to crash into the Earth. Everyone else has evacuated, including the Doctor and the other companions. (No, the Doctor didn’t ditch him – he tried to get Adric to come too, but Adric refused.)
The controls are locked, but Adric is convinced he can break the lock in time by reprogramming it. However, a Cyberman shoots at him and destroys the keyboard so he can’t finish his calculations.

The Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan can only watch helplessly as the ship crashes, and Adric dies.

Even though Adric was not a beloved character, they still ran the closing credits in silence, with only a shot of his broken badge,  in tribute.

There may have been Adric death parties. I don’t know. We didn’t have the internet back then. What we did have was a sense that what we’d just seen happen was Not Okay.

The Doctor has always been a magnet for random people, and whether they get along or not, he still feels responsible for them. “I have a duty of care,” he tells Clara, more than once.

So when a Companion dies, it’s because something went massively, horribly wrong. Something so awful that not even the Doctor could fix it – and this is the guy who rebooted the universe, after all.

Even annoying old Adric was granted a modicum of respect, a moment of silence, by Whovians, because in our bones we know that Companions are not supposed to go out like that. Not ever.

Shame on you Whooligans celebrating Clara’s death. And if there are any Whovians joining the Clara Death Party, double shame on you, because you really ought to know better.













Three sentences

Ok. So I’m not doing Nano. Not even close to that level of readiness yet, for a variety of reasons.

But I’ll still be writing. I’m not going to make any promises as to how much, I’m just going to write for the fun of it and see what happens.

And maybe get my critical analysis paper done for the college app, too.

Three-sentence horror stories


The rain pounds the windshield, making everything white and featureless as the taxi driver veers along hairpin curves and over potholes big enough to swallow cows.

Inside me, I feel the baby’s limbs wriggling, widening their confines – tiny legs kicking aside tendon and bone to get ready for birth.

I had a hysterectomy ten years ago.


The first female President-elect placed her hand on the pebbled vinyl finish of the Bible’s cover as the oath was read.

“Do you, Kim Kardashian West, solemnly swear that you will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of  your ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States?”

“Yeah sure, whatever.”


The patient was laid out on the table, his head neatly sawed open, the brain carefully dissected and digitally re-assembled for study.

In his final days he had become a crazed, tormented monster, gouging at his own flesh and finally committing suicide by jamming fondue forks into his ear canals until they met in the middle.

When the tests were complete, the coroner was astounded to find that the poor fellow’s brain was eaten through with tiny tunnels of missing tissue that, when viewed from precisely the right angle, formed the words “Too many cooks…”

Another Writing Challenge

This one’s Horror-flavored  X meets Y, courtesy of Terrible Minds again.

At first I rolled “Interview with the Vampire” and “Pitch Perfect,” neither of which I know.I mean, I know that “Interview with the Vampire” was the one where everyone ships Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, but the whole RiceVampireVerse? And what even is “Pitch Perfect?” Is that about a demonic pitch pipe that terrorises a music class? Because I would watch the hell out of that.

Anyway, reroll. “It” and “Doctor Who.” Oh, this should be fun. Watch this space for the finished story.

Nerd Alert (Adventures at Comic Con and Urgent Care)

As I’m writing this I’m laying down amongst an absurd number of pillows, waiting for the muscle relaxants to kick in. You see, dear readers, I have had my first big grownup injury. I think.

There’s a line in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe where Zaphod says “I’m so hip I have difficulty seeing over my pelvis.” Or maybe it’s the first book in the trilogy, I don’t remember. But he says that. Anyway. Rewind. Back to last week. Back to…

Salt Lake Comic Con!

Massive convention of all things pop culture! (I can’t restrict it to all things nerdy, not when there are people cosplaying Minions and massively-endowed migrants from ModelsMayhem are swanning about in painted-on Spiderman suits – sorry no, just no, no, no. But that’s a rant unto itself.)

Competitor for the title of Bigger than San Diego Comic Con! (This is a stupid title, and a stupid – nay, dangerous – quest. More on that in a bit.)

Carpeted labyrinth of panels you’ll walk out of halfway through, unless they’re the celebrity ones, in which case good luck getting in in the first place!

Home of TWO TARDISes, mystery-meat hotdogs (eel? condor? lost children?) and a dealer’s hall that will make you sploosh your undercarriage!


So we arrive Thursday, my BFF/sister and I, and it’s a ghost town. I mean. It’s a decent line and that. But compared to the Saturday crowd it’s deserted.  YES. I hate dense crowds. Plus, this particular venue – the Salt Palace – is kind of a dense little maze, a folded intestine of corridors and escalator-tunnels. With crowds at “fire marshal giving the side-eye” density, I worry that someone will get smooshed. This year there were complaints of people’s service dogs getting kicked/stepped on, in fact. Does someone have to die for the organisers to figure out bigger isn’t always better?

We are cosplaying Miriam Black and River Song, and we chat up the authors for a time, and both end up leaving with new books.

Then we locate Joel Hodgson, also known as the original and superior host of MST3K. And he’s just lovely, frankly. I had heard he was kind of meh, but whoever said that didn’t meet the same person I met last week. Joel FTW.

Fast forward to Friday. Now, yours truly has always had a bad-but-not-quite-bad-enough-to-warrant-intervention back. Mild scoliosis, hyperlordosis, you know. No big. Everyone likes a big ol’ booty that pops. Well, except maybe the owner of said booty, who will more than likely have severe back pain from their lumbar region being about as well-aligned as a Chevrolet Cavalier that’s been used for student drivers.

Friday. Osgood, who keeps getting mistaken for the Fourth Doctor. I’m sure the real Osgood would have been delighted by the compliment, but I was just getting irked. I also was sore. Did my daily stretches, got up, and WHAM.

So I limp and yelp through the next four days till I’m back home, and in the meantime, there’s more Comic Con to be had. Saturday went well, we tried some panels, and some were good and some were dumb. We shopped more, and we rested up for the evening party. The party was not what they sold it to us as, so we called it a night.

The last day went great up until the part where we went to a panel for LGBTQIA representation in fandom. I had been really looking forward to this. I mean, this stuff matters to me. Hell, my first Gallifrey One convention had me ON a panel like this.

I get in there – there’s like – 3 gay guys, one bi girl who says she’s “just an ally,” and one little white girl who ID’s as a “two spirit” and says she’s a man when she works on cars…and she is policing one of the guys’ pronouns when trying to describe the Wachowski siblings.

Mm. Ok. Right away, it sat really badly.

  1. “Two spirit” is a First Nations word for people who are gender non-conformist or queer. It’s oh so inappropriate to appropriate that word for white use.
  2. Check your own words before you police someone else’s.
  3. Presentation != gender, hello, this conversation has been had to infinity and back! Doing auto work doesn’t make you a man any more than folding laundry makes you a dry cleaner. When I feel agender or masculine, it has fuck all to do with my outer activities. I may bind my chest, but I ain’t gonna stop knitting or cooking if I was planning to do that shit anyway! Is my mom a man when she does yard work? Is my dad a woman if he washes a dish? Are these questions stupid as hell?

Now maybe I wasn’t in the best shape to start with, what with the constant pain and all that, but the hits just kept on coming.

There was a spirited discussion of an “amazing lesbian romance.” The movie in question? “BOUND.”

Mother. Fucking. BOUND.

The movie that I have had recommended to me by straight men a-plenty because it was great fap fodder.

Because lesbians only exist to be fap fodder for straight men, unless they’re sexless lumps of obese cat lady, amirite?

I expected this shit from straight men, but from my own kind?

So that was strike one.

Strike two was when, every time I tried to bring something up, they looked right at me, then called on the guy in the corner. Same guy over and over. And he even said “I didn’t see anyone else’s hand up. Eventually they started calling on people right behind me, but they kept looking me in the eye before doing so. Like “I see you but I’m not calling you.”

Strike three was looking at their powerpoint slides and realising that most of the examples of representation they had were cis white males.

There were a few males of color, otherwise, it was just their own damn selves being mirrored back on the screen over and over.

I walked out to the doorway, and it was all I could do not to scream something as I did, something to disrupt their self-congratulation.  My sister held me back, then held me as I cried.

A couple of con staffers came over and I told them what was wrong. They gave me paper to write a complaint, and gave it directly to someone who was ostensibly in charge of programming. We’ll see if it goes anywhere…but it really soured me for doing any future LGBT con panels. I can’t believe there’s representation in the wider world if, even in our own narrow world, I can’t find anyone who looks like me.

OH, and they made sure to address trans males but didn’t even talk about trans females, despite the fact that they could EASILY have mentioned the show “Sense8″(also by the Wachowskis) and Samus Aran from Metroid for examples. Hell, I’m half baked on Robaxin and I remembered that off the top of my head.

No excuses, people. Not in the age of Google.

The only funny thing, I think, is that I was wearing my last costume of the weekend that day – Ohila, of the Sisterhood of Karn. Karn, a planet where men are only allowed if the Sisterhood deems it acceptable – otherwise they are set on fire.

I was feeling my Sisterhood that day for sure. I just wish I’d had my spear, peace-bonded or not.

I did get my mystery pain seen to as soon as I got home, and as it turns out, I’ve got a locked up SI joint as well as some locked up lumbar and thoracic joints. Yay for spinal fuckery! But a good crutch, some heavy meds, and an appointment for PT make a world of difference. I’ve also gotten the ok for a sleep study to see if I stop breathing at night often enough to warrant treatment.

The upshot of all these medical shenanigans is that I will hopefully be stronger soon. Stronger, and with more energy to kick some chauvinist butt.

The Sisterhood is coming for you, fuckboys. Gay, straight, other – you disrespect women, you will hear from me.

Stonewall Is A Shitty Movie, Apparently

The Stonewall film features THIS as its first-brick-throwing protagonist:

Oh look, a white, cisgender, “straight-acting”(director’s words) pretty young thing.

Here’s what actually happened (from

A scuffle broke out when a woman in handcuffs was escorted from the door of the bar to the waiting police wagon several times. She escaped repeatedly and fought with four of the police, swearing and shouting, for about ten minutes. Described as “a typical New York butch” and “a dyke–stone butch”, she had been hit on the head by an officer with a baton for, as one witness claimed, complaining that her handcuffs were too tight.[65] Bystanders recalled that the woman, whose identity remains unknown (Stormé DeLarverie has been identified by some, including herself, as the woman, but accounts vary [66][note 3]), sparked the crowd to fight when she looked at bystanders and shouted, “Why don’t you guys do something?” After an officer picked her up and heaved her into the back of the wagon,[67] the crowd became a mob and went “berserk”: “It was at that moment that the scene became explosive.”[68]

As for the “white boy throws a brick and starts a revolution” folderol:

Garbage cans, garbage, bottles, rocks, and bricks were hurled at the building, breaking the windows. Witnesses attest that “flame queens”, hustlers, and gay “street kids”—the most outcast people in the gay community—were responsible for the first volley of projectiles, as well as the uprooting of a parking meter used as a battering ram on the doors of the Stonewall Inn.[74] Sylvia Rivera, a self-identified street queen[75][76] who had been in the Stonewall during the raid, remembered:

You’ve been treating us like shit all these years? Uh-uh. Now it’s our turn!… It was one of the greatest moments in my life.[77]

And that right there is where Roland Emmerich got things so very, very wrong.

His comments are pretty fucking telling:

“Some people warned me, but I said, ‘Well, you know, so be it.’ […] You have to understand one thing: I didn’t make this movie only for gay people, I made it also for straight people,” he said. “I kind of found out, in the testing process, that actually, for straight people, [Danny] is a very easy in. Danny’s very straight-acting. He gets mistreated because of that. [Straight audiences] can feel for him.”

Stonewall, the actual historical event, came about because the police raided one of the few safe spaces for gay people in NYC. It was dingy and scary and run down but it was theirs. They rioted because they were sick of being humiliated, abused, and jailed for who they were. When you stomp on a group of people for long enough, for no damn reason, they are going to snap someday. And Stonewall was the snapping point. Up till then there’d been this massive secrecy and with secrecy you get its little friend shame. You think, “If this was really normal and healthy I wouldn’t be hiding it, would I? I’m skulking around, therefore this must be bad. This is what breeds internalised homophobia, which is where Emmerich’s precious “straight-acting” comes from in the first place. Straight-acting is camouflage. Straight-acting is bullshit.

It says, “I can’t act in ways that identify me as gay, because then I will lose passing privilege.”

It says “There is something intrinsically wrong with being gay and I have to hide that part of myself by acting straight.”

It says “I have to earn acceptance from straight people by pretending to be like them. I have to be non-threatening.”

Being non-threatening got gays arrested, beaten, strip-searched, fired, publicly humiliated, disowned, locked away in mental hospitals, and killed.

Being non-threatening never got gays anywhere but ground under the heel of the boots they were told to lick if they wanted to be accepted someday. If you’re a good do-bee, maybe someday we’ll let you eat the scraps.

Stonewall said “fuck that.” Stonewall said, “We’re done trying to earn your permission to exist. We’re done acting like you’re the Chosen Ones who get to decide whether we’re humans or not. Fuck you, we’re DONE. We’re taking our humanity back.”

The fact that in the bricks thrown by trans women, drag queens and street kids of all colors in real life were co-opted and put into the hands of a fictional white cis straight-acting self-loathing male is just proof that we have SO much more work to do.

Because let’s face it, a lot of the “gay history narrative” is still driven by cis gay males, usually white, and semi-affluent to boot. The stories of persecution during the AIDS crisis are focused on the men.

While we know now that lesbians were active in AIDS awareness and caring for dying patients when nobody else would, the scars are still deeply embedded in the community and some of the most narrow-minded, vicious, transphobic and woman-phobic rhetoric I’ve ever heard has come from these gay males. It’s as if they’re saying “My people suffered more than anyone else, so you can’t criticise what I say now.”

This is absolutely untrue, and worse, it’s poison to the movement. There’s no such thing as the Oppression Olympics, and even if there were, you wouldn’t want to win them:

RIP Bill Blackmar

When we play this game we forget that we’re all one, and that we’ve all been dealt some shit in our lives. AIDS was a great equaliser. It started with the gay community and then it went everywhere.

Retrovirus doesn’t give a fuck

But at some point we got the upper hand, at least in the First World. And we forgot. We got complacent again. AIDS became the thing you lived with instead of dying from. And we forgot. And we started to succeed, in getting our basic human rights. And we forgot.

We forgot that the experience of the cis gay white male is worlds apart from the experience of the trans lesbian of color. We forgot that the lesbian is still getting comparatively crappy healthcare compared to the gay man. We forgot that being non-binary means getting screwed on all sides, being bisexual means you’re an invisible slut* apparently, and being any sort of queer in the wrong 30 states means unemployment, homelessness, and any other forms of discrimination that those states haven’t explicitly outlawed.

Emmerich forgot so hard that he decided his version of reality – his Stonewall headcanon – was the truth. And he had the unmitigated chutzpah to push it out into the world like an ugly little baby made of lies, so that we could all coo over it and say “Good job!”

While I’m very relieved that the community has decided to tell him that his baby is, in fact, hideous as hell, I’m mad that someone like him still gets to drive the Gay Community Narrative Bus at all. I’m mad that I’ve never made a movie in my life and I can tell you right now how he could have had his precious twinkie cake AND eaten a respectful movie too:

  1. Make White Boy A Fucking OBSERVER. Let him walk into that mess and OBSERVE the bricks and bottles flying. Let him see the dykes and queens being arrested and let his ass be en-fucking-lightened. He can still BE there and serve a narrative purpose even if he’s not the center of attention, for fuck’s sake.

We didn’t get this far by playing NICE.

We won’t get our stories told correctly by playing nice, either.

Shame on you, Roland Emmerich. Our community deserves better than you.

*not as useful a superpower as you would think