After the blistering success of my Handmaid’s Taletwo-parter, I thought I’d chime in about my mini garden and the wild bunnies. Both garden and bunnies seem fine.
The punkins now peek over the old tire. The herbs– oregano, lavender, dill and lemon balm– have not died a withering, bitter death. Yet. They appear to enjoy me moving them about from here to there. There are little newbies coming up where I planted seeds. Cucumbers and possibly a second eggplant plant. And I noticed squash babies have formed. Little teeny squash.
I’m so glad I collected cow shit from the field across the way and mixed it, by hand, in the soil before I planted my pet squashes. So glad.
Now I note there are ground squirrels sharing the far corner of the lawn with the rabbits.
I whistle at them through the window. They sit up, trying to find what bad-voiced bird calls at them so. There is also a giant mouse that lives in the wall by the fuse box…and it does not seem afraid of humans. I’ve seen it several times now, even tried to trap it and get it out of the wall because…yeah. A mouse munching through important electrical wires. Yeah.
I’ve read the smell of mint keeps them at bay. I do have catnip sprouting everywhere. Years ago, I got a single plant to delight our cats, when there were cats here. I do mean over ten years or so. Longer. Catnip grows from the corner of the fence closest to the road all the way to the ditch that runs below the small cliff face stuffed full of rodents and snakes that hide beneath rotting boards and rectangles of metal.
Catnip. It’s everywhere. And it smells good. It puts out tiny purple flowers!
The biggest privet hedge hosts several families of small brown birds. Sparrows? Wrens? It’s like an apartment building, except it’s a messy clump of nests smushed together, sometimes with the odd collection of loud-mouthed baby birds demanding snacks.
The blackbirds seem to like the actual trees or the old lilac bush. I keep finding blackbird eggs here and there, with a hole punched through the fragile shell. Some savage bird warfare going on about my oblivious head. Are the blackbirds attacking each other or is it a magpie or some other bird? The magpies have not been around that I’ve heard and oh, they are noisy, raucous presences.
My mother once had one, long ago when she was but a girl, as a pet. It attacked someone, some old family story I cannot quite remember now.
And my grandmother, who had a man come to the house one morning, looking for Mr. Bird. I don’t know where he lives, my grandmother allegedly said, but I do know where Mr. Fox and Mr. Squirrel live. Both were actual names but she was having a little fun with a stranger. I think that stranger probably stormed off, cussing.
I also remember my grandmother watching the rabbits at night when she couldn’t sleep. She even told of watching them play during a brightly lit moon-filled evening.
And watching birds through the window, sitting in her wheelchair, drinking coffee. A big picture window that provided her endless viewing options. The road, the birds, possible stray wildlife strayed in from the sagebrush-cursed hills.
A stump, that had once been a black walnut tree, that stump covered with a board, where bird seed got scattered. This was where her eyes would go, observing whatever showed up for a hasty meal. She had severe arthritis, as did my other grandmother.
I realize I am among the few left who remembers the ‘old stories’. The little moments. The sorrows. The tiny joys.
Farming in a place that has almost no water. The eternal sameness of Christmas traditions that now seem tiresome and stale to me. Because it wasn’t the tree or the presents, it was the people I got to enjoy. How maudlin, but how so horribly true.
I meant to pen a quick little smear about growing pumpkins and the yard rodents. I veered off into Remember When land. I guess that happens on unsettled late spring evenings.
It’s long, it’s messy, it’s long. My concluding remarks on America Now. Just sort of kidding.
But what I wanted to talk about was Offred or June.
As I expected to hate her. I’m not a big Liz Moss fan. I had almost no liking at all for Peggy on Mad Men, found her annoyingly whiny and too much of a Mary Sue. Which was probably the writer’s doing that but still. And then episodes I did like her and then…it seesawed. But here. I find myself holding my breath on Offred’s fate from scene to scene and I read the damn book. Years ago!
Moss’s character provides the voiceovers. This is June’s tale. This is Offred’s tale.
Of-Fred. I had an actual OMG moment…I realized how those names were arrived at in episode one of this series.
I had either forgotten or not figured it out when I’d read the book and yes, seen the movie made of this, with Natasha Richardson as Offred and Robert Duvall as the commander. The real names of the handmaids are not used! They lose their identity! They get erased! OMG.
Yeah, then you realize…that’s what getting married does, or did. Still does. The wedding industry, after all, wields gigantic power as well as churning out gigantic profits. You, the girl in the marriage equation, erased your name and took on a new one. You have a maiden name.
Tee hee, how cute!
Handmaid’s tale doesn’t include any radically new way we’ve treated females in the course of history, does it?
Tangent. Back now. Offred. Oh.
Her voice is the voice we need. It is our rock, our anchor, in this batshit crazy Gilead, where everything is so stark and harsh and demarcated.
Commanders, the wives, the Marthas, the Eyes, the Aunts, the handmaids…it’s like a rancid layer cake. With the frosting tasting like blood, tears and shit.
June speaks of her days, the dread of that Ceremony, what her life was like before and what her life is like now. We see her oh so careful shuffling through her existence and hear her rebellious, fierce reaction to it all; her thoughts wrap around us like blankets of thorns. We grow uncomfortable. We become witnesses.
Witness to her daily degradations. Witness to the routines her life has become. Witness to Serena’s understandably abusive treatment of Offred/June. Witness to Fred’s pattern of flirting with handmaids too scared and broken at times not to play along with his obvious games.
Witness to her letting this fragile man win, witness to that ego stroking that most women on the planet have had to do…
Witness to her growing relationship with Nick, the driver, even though we know her husband is still yet alive.
Witness to her friendships with the other handmaids, which is fraught with suspicion and paranoia, as anyone could be a spy in this new reality and that spy could very well get you hanging from the wall down by the river, your body rotting away, some sign nearby stating your crime. We witness how nothing about Offred is important except her uterus.
Nothing else matters. She’s a womb on legs, as the show had one of the wives say. A womb on legs.
I don’t know if it was ever stated why the fertility rates had gone down. [America’s own birth rate has been down the last two years running, by the way…] Oh yes, it was attributed to pollution, for one. Ah. Mm. Do I even need to go there with the current administration? Do I?
The sequence involving Mexico.
Where the diplomat, a woman, refused to help Offred. Because Mexico wanted the breeding potential of the handmaids and was prepared to trade with Gilead to get fertile women…after Offred stood there and told this diplomat, a woman, the truth about her existence after having been forced to lie.
To a room full of people who clearly knew she lied and yet…it was all a show. A show with Offred forced to give a bravura performance or face dire consequences, more than she already endured.
I also wondered why this brand new spanking theocracy didn’t just use in vitro fertilization. Instead of that ghastly monthly rape ritual. No monthly rape ritual, the wives can have their husbands back and handmaids can still be bred like human cattle. And you can feed babies formula from the get go, so, really, no need at all of the vessels after they’d pushed out their sole purpose for being allowed to live at all. Sure, it’s not Biblical. Or whatever that reasoning would be. But why not use modern science and ancient patriarchal oppressive regime stuff in one horrid, lumpy lump?
Offred and Nick, the Eye spy.
Both are victims of this new, awful regime. Nick might seem freer, being, oh, a guy and everything but he’s really not. He’s walking a big tightrope here that could very well end up with him going splat. And by splat I mean being hung by the neck until dead in a very public way. Or shot. We find out he’s there to spy on Fred Waterford, and he admits to Offred that he’s an Eye. Yet, we also see that Nick has more than a professional interest in the oh so carefully controlled handmaid, who can’t quite yet hide how repulsive she finds this entire new system.
I find the characters of Nick and June to be those of survivors cast deep into a prison that can crush them at will at any time. Both driver and handmaid are, after all, interchangeable. Any fertile woman will do, any guy who can drive can sit in that front seat behind the wheel. They are not valuable or unique in Gilead, at all. They are bricks in the wall. Thank me later for that song going endlessly through your head.
Nick and Offred find ways to rebel. Their forbidden affair. It allows them a measure of illusion. A measure of control over their very much regulated and regimented lives. Nick doesn’t betray Waterford, as it would also get Offred taken away. It might also get him into deep doo doo as– why didn’t he report the commander’s behaviors IMMEDIATELY?
There’s no actual mercy for anyone in this world. You could be next in the public execution spectacle, no matter your rank. We see this, over and over and over.
And as the series moves relentlessly onward, we catch glimpses of Nick’s growing feelings for the newest handmaid in the Waterford’s lovely but prisonous abode. And Offred admits she goes to Nick’s room because it feels good.
This is sex she chooses to have. This is sex that’s not about filling her womb with some sort of sacred child. Even though their first time…was under Serena’s hard, watching eyes. As she arranged a far more likely fertile stud for the vessel of God living in her home. Nick’s body is also at the mercy and exploitation of this new order; what would be the consequences if he refused? And he can turn Serena in for this one, but then what? Mm.
That manly ideal of rampaging, all-powerful stallion who can run everything all day and fuck everything that moves all night. That toxic notion seems to be rampant in this world.
The manly leaders, praised for their potency, are seldom actually fertile or even able to achieve an erection at times. But these men in charge must be praised incessantly for how potent and hard-dicked they are…while the handmaids are probably fertilized via doctors, drivers and whatever lower down stud the wives can arrange. Or perhaps a handmaid let a doctor or some other male other than their commander use them to get that much-lauded pregnancy up and running.
Again, it’s all about the Big Show here in Gilead.
Where was I? Oh yes, Offred. I wanted to end this rather long take on a positive note, because America right now is a grim-seeming dystopia in the making.
I find that last episode, where Offred says no to Aunt Lydia ordering Janine stoned by the other handmaids incredibly satisfying. Here is what I want the Resistance, that so-named movement against the Far Right Fuckery, to be like.
And of course win the day and turn everything back to what it once was. I am just as delusional as the next person, thanks.
I want that HEROINE TO RISE trope. I want it. I want it!
You shouldn’t have dressed us like an army…Offred thinks at us. And I go, FUCK YEAH, BABY!
We get to see the actions of a swelling opposition to Gilead’s draconian strangle-hold over its citizens. We see a small act of defiance. We see decency and humanity take forefront over conditioning and fear. We see that in June’s face, her wide blue eyes as clear as open skies full of freedom, hope and strength. Those stones dropping from hands is the act of revolutionaries being born.
Do You Hear the People Sing, from Les Miserables, should be playing in the background!
We get an actual HELL YEAH GIRLFRIEND moment in Moira’s hand wiping the snow from a license plate. We rejoice in June telling off Serena after Serena’s savage tactic in trying to make sure Offred knows her place and her only value. When Serena offers proof positive Offred’s child is yet alive and then threatening that child in bald terms if Offred doesn’t deliver the baby Serena so desperately needs to keep her high status.
I haven’t seen the second series yet. I hear it’s…grim. I hear it doesn’t go the way I want it to go…where Gilead gets overturned and it’s all happy ever after, of course.
I find I want my television to not reflect reality. At all. Because. It’s unbearable. It hurts. Because I am being made to feel just as helpless and corralled as Offred, Ofwarren and Ofglen.
Which is probably just me identifying too much with fictional characters created by a writer writing during the big bad Eighties.
Until I look at how others react to Handmaid’s Tale.
And it seems everyone else, oh tee hee, feels much as I do. That it’s a timely series that has arrived just when it needed to.
As All in the Family allowed American audiences to become a bit uncomfortable over accepted norms that were racist, sexist and usually pretty awful…so does the Handmaid’s Tale allow the audience to see what happens when you allow a religion to take over so completely and impose their set of rules and regulations. We can all agree such a society is bad.
And yet…in real life, people vote for the very thing they find off-putting, bad or evil in a television series.
Oh there are now a plethora of shitlaws that attempt to turn back time. To some time that never really existed, at that. That’s not new or prophetic or original at all.
We here in America have seen this attempt for, well, years now. When the Far Right embraced the Evangelicals way back during Jimmy Carter facing off against the juggernaut that was Ronald Reagan. The Family Values party, one of the more cynical names ever invented by smirking Jesus-shouters ever. In my humble opinion, at least.
The religious righties coldly stepped back, assessed both candidates and put their support with the divorced Hollywood jelly-brained bean, rather than the actual Christian who, to this day, practices his Christianity in open, gentle ways.
It’s about power, as it always was, and not any sort of love for a god or need to see people treated well, fairly and as equals under the law.
It’s about power and that’s what the Handmaid’s Tale gets so frighteningly right. I have to go watch puppies doing cute things now while I’m still allowed access to the internet. Small joke. Tiny one.
Got around to watching the Handmaid’s Tale. And being an almost writer, had some thoughts and notions and impressions. Which went on rather long-ish. So I’m chopping my review/primal scream/ramblings into two parts. Here we go:
It’s the red dresses, the white hats that act like blinders on the women. Rather like one puts blinders on a horse. That red of sin and menstrual blood and fertility and death. The women walking in pairs, the flap of their cloaks, their faces so careful. So careful. The least betrayal of their actual thoughts could get them killed. Everyone, though, in Gilead, seems to be playing a part. The honesty seems gone from the very air even as people murmur constantly their allegiance to some truly tyrannical deity.
If you’ve not seen Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, with Mad Men’s Peggy front and center, or Elizabeth Moss as some call her, you should. It’s…timely. So fucking timely. And yet it has an ancient grit to it. That grit of slavery and bodies exploited for the common good and a god used as a hammer to make everyone fall in line. Oh, we’ve seen this tale, it’s not a new one.
It wasn’t that long ago, after all, that women couldn’t have their own bank accounts. Or own land. Or run a company. Or attend school to become a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer of some kind. It’s only been recently that single women could get birth control openly without having to lie or obtain it illegally. You had to be married. Why does a single gal need the Pill for? Mm!
That was reflected upon in another great show–Call the Midwife, which chronicled the dawn on the Pill hitting the market and so forth. There was even a bit about a widowed Lady Mary, on Downton Abby, having Anna buy condoms for her. In the 1920’s. Anna got slut-shamed pretty hard at that chemist shop.
We seem to forget that openly buying birth control is a relatively new thing, since about the seventies or so and it’s still controversial here in America. There are groups working against it, as well as being rabidly ‘pro-life’ or pro-forced birth. As these same groups seem to drop any concern or care for that child once it’s born. So it seems.
Oh gosh, and the big one. Voting.
Being able to help decide who runs your country. Who gets to speak for you in the halls of government. 1920 is when women won the right to vote in America. Woman had actually run for office earlier than that, in protest.
Women started being included in the American government. White women became grudgingly more and more common in the rank and file of Congress’s elected officials. Jim Crow laws, laws against Native Americans and the Chinese and…mm. America, you sure got a weird notion of who’s a citizen and who’s not. Even when born here.
Those red dresses.
The handmaids never allowed to wear anything else. That almost theatrical costume that marks them as human livestock. They are not free, they are watched constantly, they are guarded from taking their lives. Offred’s predecessor, for instance, hung herself using her own bed sheets.
What God would want any woman treated like that? Like birds in too-small cages, being asked to sing songs that ring with such false notes? What God is that?
I sat there and binge watched this show and wondered that. What society wants to follow a God that thinks so poorly of women?
It’s just traditional values at work, dear.
I hear that in my head. I hear it all the time in American society now. So called traditional values being used to justify the devaluation of women, the curbing of rights to anyone not a straight white male, the attempts to force LGTBQ folks back into closets, the snarling against the other known as immigrants, etc, etc. That ‘animals’ remark…
Conservative values seems to be they can do whatever they want and everyone else can suck it. That seems to honestly be what Conservatives stand for right now. It’s rather a little bit, or, a lot, scary. There doesn’t seem to be any opposing force to this yet. Yet.
Handmaid’s Tale showed, rather than told, very well why women didn’t openly rebel. Because those that did ended up swinging gently from ropes or they disappeared. Just gone. Or they came back with eyes missing. Or a clitoris.
One of the Of-girls, played by a Gilmore Girl! had ‘gender traitor’ qualities. She was gay, in other words.
This was found out, and since she was fertile, she was given a judgment of mercy.
Oh sure, she got to live and go to some new household where once a month she had to shave her legs, take a ritual bath and then get raped. By a commander. Be raped as the wife held her arms down and watched her own husband rape another woman. All in the name of God.
But this ‘gender traitor’ can’t act on her sexuality, or so the reasoning goes behind mutilating a woman’s genitals; she has been stripped of not only her identity but an attempt has been made to actually erase her essential self.
Her standing there with that heart-shaped bandaging between her thighs…we see her break. And she doesn’t scream or cry, she just breaks with a quiet ghastliness that actually hurts the viewer as well. This was silence screaming, if you will.
This was a reminder that such things have happened to women, to little girls, fellow humans, since a long time ago on this very planet. With dull knives used and no nice modern surgeon and anesthesia. That such things happen now…
And we get a small flashback scene where the commanders speak about renaming this rape-itual as the Ceremony.
To make it sound nicer. More palatable.
They KNOW what they do to the handmaids and their own wives is gross, creepy and fundamentally wrong, wrong, wrong and yet instead of facing that, and facing their own filthy dark hearts, needs and beliefs, they rename the damn rape day for PR purposes. That’s what God wants? Lies and theatrics and costumes and…?
So this Gilead doesn’t seem to run on honesty or truth, but on theatrics and mirrors and smoke so a few men at the top of this theocracy can reap some substantial benefits while nearly everyone under them suffers, burns silently, or burns openly and dies, or gets mutilated or sent off somewhere to work in a place of nuclear contamination or in a secret brothel everyone seems to know about.
The Jezebels, where we find out what happens to June’s best friend, Moira.
Everything in this ‘new’ society seems a gag-inducing farce.
We get a hideous picture of this in Commander Fred Waterford’s household.
The wife, Serena. Who helped craft the very laws and customs that now chain her into a narrow, icy role of sexless wife who must watch her husband use the handmaids that come into their home like a teen boy might use a sock. Or a flesh rocket.
That handmaid becomes both sacred vessel and sex toy. Without a name of her own.
But poor Serena and I do feel an actual measure of pity for her, in between bouts of picturing her riding a chainsaw as someone pours salt over her…because it would hurt more. And salt is very Biblical.
She had to become single-focused on Offred becoming pregnant or there’s literally no reason for her to exist in Gilead. If she’s not wheeling around that trophy baby, she’s relegated to arranging flowers and abusing the handmaid and the Martha. She’s also used as corporate wives are so used– to make the man look good.
Go look up how Hillary Clinton got compared to Barb Bush, for instance. One was a scheming, too-ambitious cold monster, the other a cookie-baking, cuddly grandma type. Mm.
Serena’s ambitions and dreams must be subverted and funneled toward the man in her life. She wrote books, she gave talks, in the old life. Clearly, Serena was a sort of Ann Coulter figure, using the very things feminists before her had won with such hard work and sacrifice to decry feminism itself.
She must now look good and act perfectly, to be a credit to Waterford. She must embrace this new role of hers or face uncertainty and chaos. She is a monster because she had to become one to survive.
I also think, and here the writers and the actress came together in small, brilliant little moments…I also think Serena didn’t think it all the way through.
She didn’t realize Gilead’s rules would include her. I honestly think that’s part of her deep, savage divide, one of her many layers. That bitter realization that she’s just as trapped as Offred and who better to take that out on? She can’t go after Fred, after all. It would bring her down as well. She would no longer have a place of some value. She might become a Martha or have to find a new husband and start that cycle all over again…suppress herself for yet another’s man’s fragile ego and standing among the other men. It would be unbearable, so she puts up with Fred.
Which is rather a throwback to the days when divorce was nearly unheard of and everyone looked the other way about the true nature of your marriage. Told you to bear it, marriage was for life.
A good wife has to wait for her moment of revenge.
Like the wife of Warren did. Warren, who, of course, had a side thing with their handmaid, the one-eyed mad girl Janine, or Ofwarren, who actually managed to get preggers and bear a kid. That wife threw her husband to the lions without a backward glance. We feel Serena would toss Fred, too, if it came down to it.
There is a definite caste system in Gilead. These wives are a higher rank than most, and coast on that with a carelessness that makes you wince and cringe. Because we see that. In real life. All the time. We see the privileged talking about how they managed to make their own toast one morning because the cook had an emergency. And expecting applause and endless praise…for some small ordinary act the lesser mortals take for granted.
That scene of Janine giving birth upstairs and the commander wives offering Offred a cookie, a treat. Treating her like both a whore and a child, at the same time. As if Offred had a choice in being a handmaid.
Well, she did. Which would have involved her being executed or tortured or banished to the Colonies. And she has a daughter.
Somewhere. That she hopes is still alive.
So we understand very well why June goes along and does what Aunt Lydia and the others want her to do…pretend she’s some obedient fertile cow for Jesus.
There. Underneath a spring sky of undecided moods. Small, still, surprised in the act of nibbling at the young thistle growing against the fence. A rabbit. A cottontail.
Not one of the mighty jackrabbits from Eastern Oregon myth and legend. A common, ordinary actual bunny. Something out of a tale for Easter. A tale about some spring goddess.
It freezes as I freeze, my eyes trying to determine if it’s real, if I’m hallucinating a young rabbit. Another rabbit darts out of the pile of metal irrigation tubes, or just called tubes if you’re an insider in the world of farming.
Gotta set the tubes. Check that tube there. Is that tube running?
It’s a lingo I’ve heard since before my birth. I’d wager a bit on that.
The other rabbit darts out from the tubes, sees me, stops, reverses. Rather like a cartoon bunny. It acts like a bunny should act, skittish, scared and quicksilver as all hell. The rabbit in the yard must wait for me to either pass by or try to escape me; I’m rather too close for it to just pull a runner. I might be faster, I might not have seen it. Hi, bunny, I call to it and it remains in statue-like posing. It’s okay, bunny, it’s okay.
I pass by, after a bit.
A real live wild rabbit remains too big of a draw for me. I have to pause, stop, observe it, say silly things to it, admire it, wonder at it. Something wild is nearby. My brain slows, calms, becomes that tranquil sea that stretches to the horizon.
But I know the little animal’s heart is under extreme stress and it’s in fear of its life. I pass by. I continue to work in my mini garden, place the rocks I’ve brought. Arrange them on the stumps and about the sectioned off bit that contains the eggplant, the pumpkin twins, the summer squash, the zucchini.
The cucumber lives by the front steps and gets to watch the men pee and perhaps, when it wakes up at night for a bit, the owls that wait for the rabbits and mice and ground squirrels to dare a dash across the open space between the house and the beet field. There are several elderly fruit trees just perfect for such a waiting, and the old cottonwood has the appropriate spooky dead branches stretched out just so in twisted, devilish fashion.
I’ve witnessed owls in that old cottonwood, glaring eyes and loud hoots warning me they have work to do, why am I disturbing the sacred business of filling their bellies?
When I pass back again through the gate, I note the rabbit has gone. I notice, as well, there seems to be a rabbit-sized hole in the lawn, oh, two of them.
Please be careful, I think at them, hoping they are telepathic. Please be careful and move back to the pile of tubes or live in the small bank that skirts the field. There are piles of dead branches, old weeds, debris. Everything needed to hide a rabbit or several little hoppies. And no one would care if a rabbit, or several, dug their dens in this bank. Stay out of the lawn. Please. Stay out of the lawn.
There is no sympathy in farm country for small lives.
I understand it. I do. When your livelihood depends on getting a harvest to the correct market and collecting that check, having those small lives take a big chunk out of that means you can’t pay your bills.
Not that farmers can pay their bills anyway, even in seasons when no storms hit, the sun shines just enough, the equipment doesn’t break down that much, things sort of line up…even then, luck or the devil or God says, here, have pennies on the dollar. Here ya go. Better luck next year. Better luck next decade. Shoulda kept your knees shut, farmers-– seems to be the message at all times.
So. I get it. I get people trying to kill every last little life they come across if a farmer or rancher. Letting them run rampant could mean you lose your shirt. And your land. And all your stuff used to make that land produce. Because the courts take your stuff to sell so a fraction of your giant ass bills, yep, yeah, uh huh.
But that young rabbit, as fresh as a dream, as light as hope itself for a bit. Here I am. Taking a chance. Eating something tasty. Why does that giant predator keep chirping at me??
I have every wish under the stars and tired moon to catch a brief glimpse again of the newest neighbors. And hope the old neighbors called Hawk and Owl and Coyote…I don’t know who I would root for or if any rooting should be done.
I watched one of the very local hawks land on something in the corn field across the way. I watched from the yard. It crouched over something unseen, tore at it a bit, then flew toward its nest in the pine trees at the abandoned house just down the way. Which caught on fire, briefly, years ago and no one bothered to rebuild it.
The cops use it for drills and exercises and this pair of big hawks have a nest there and hunt the three fields about.
Those hawks find me silly and dismissible. One or the other will sit in the locust tree at the end of the lane, glaring down at me as I send words up toward it.
Hello, gorgeous!Aren’t you a pretty bird?
Of course it knows it’s gorgeous and of course it knows it’s a pretty bird! Geez, lady! Then, it flaps off with a truly bitter air.
I’ve disturbed its hunting or perhaps it had stopped to have a smoke break. Or it just didn’t like a human talking to it. Being a rather wild and fierce raptor, after all.
So, I suppose I will glimpse those rabbits again.
I cannot wait. I know they will dread it but I mean them no harm. And that end of the lawn is pretty much riddled with gopher desecrations, anyway. It’s a lost cause sort of corner of lawn.
There’s what remains of a dead cherry tree and some persistent irises that persist in coming up each May. And abandoned gopher holes, as they trek in from the field and dig their way down the bank and into the yard…and as farmers hate gophers around here, well.
I wonder that our two Labs, actual hunting dogs with all the hunterly instincts, haven’t gone after the bunnies yet.
Well, it was on TMC, which has been showing Tarzan movies for days now for some reason. I got to see the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan, the Ape Man, and part of Tarzan and His Mate. I’ve seen both already, if we’re all being strictly honest here.
So there it was. With that title. Come on! You’d scroll past that title?
Is it weird 1950’s era porn? It is a horror movie? Is Tarzan facing off against the actual devil, who’s a woman?? What can it be?
I read the synopsis–Lyra wants Tarzan to bring her lots of elephants to kill so she can harvest their ivory, but Tarzan refuses.
So, in trying to get Tarzan to comply, Lyra has her henchmen [one played by Raymond Burr, who oddly reminded me of the guy who plays Negan on the Walking Dead.] kidnap Jane to persuade Our Hero to do as Lyra wants.
The henchmen, of course, mess this up! Jane is presumed dead, the tree house gets burned down, Tarzan gets captured. What??
SPOILER——–> Don’t worry. Tarzan wins the day.
There’s also, gulp, some tribe of white folks living in the…African jungle, who look like products of actual Aryan breeding, right down to the curly blond hair and Nordic cheekbones galore. And that’s just the manly men of that tribe. Yeah. Uh.
My mind went pffft.
And stayed off the rest of the movie, it had to, out of sheer primal survival needs.
This tribe of Vikings gets tapped to do the heavy lifting as the ‘natives’ are, um, lazy and don’t wanna work hard and…PFFFFT. The men get captured, helped to escape, by Tarzan and then re-captured because…SHE-DEVIL wants her some money-making ivory, baby!
So, Jane fights the same snake and crocodile from all the other movies, gets sick, has to be healed by a guy dressed in straw and beads, and Tarzan allows himself to be gently tortured by Raymond Burr. Whose character, by the way, is the actual villain of the movie.
The she-devil seems oddly caring and concerned about people, especially Tarzan. Who’s this 6’4″ GORGEOUS man with blond hair and Weissmuller’s swimmer build.
I then note this actor, Lex Barker, has played Tarzan about five times. And died in his early fifties. Ah! Sad!
Because, yes, I looked this movie up on IMDB. I’d never heard of it.
Because it stormed all afternoon so I couldn’t stare at my mini garden, looking for new leaves. Or take a quick peek into the bird’s nest in the privet hedge. Or go look for the dog’s lost ball, which he loves and wants back. It’s been lost for days now.
Yes, actual thunderstorms and some actual rain.
Of course, all the animal stuff, it just jars you. You know good and well animals were hurt during the Tarzan shoots, you just freaking know that. But.
When the editing is off or does those jumps, you notice how the elephant will lie down first and then get attacked and ‘killed’. I also noted that the monkeys, in one of the Tarzan movies I peeked at for a bit…and I watched several because I’m a sad sad little shut-in…were actually people in monkey suits. Cheetah was real, at times. I guess?
At one point, Tarzan jumped on a hippo to escape crocodiles. There was the shot of an actual hippo and then the very fake hippo with Tarzan sprawled across that weird fake back like some sort of human frog.
Oh and my fave. When Tarzan fights not one, but two lions. That was not in the She-Devil one, and was Johnny, not Lex.
We clearly see the fake lion that Tarzan wrestles, mixed in with a real lion that just growls and runs about looking spooked…as if someone had a whip and chair and a torch off-screen to get it to go where the director wants. I don’t know if that’s what they did, but that’s what it looks like.
So, our manly jungle man kills the lioness, then faces off against a lion. Back to back fights with giant felines.
Tarzan also is seen taking on a gnu, killing it with a small knife after twisting its head about as the animal yells accordingly, and then cutting off a hunk of raw meat from the carcass as yet another lion runs up to drag off this dead beast as Tarzan heads up the nearest tree, one hand full of actual raw meat.
Jarred is rather too polite a word to express my inner WTF screaming.
Was that a real goddamn gnu? It sure looked a little too real. Brain PFFFT. Ah, that’s better.
If you’ve seen any of the creaky Tarzan flicks, you know a bit of what I’m blithering on about.
Oh my gosh, the rampant racism…can I get an amen? It’s…wow. You just…wow.
And I don’t remember which film this was, but I do remember Weissmuller in it– where I think it was supposed to be pygmies who had a pit with a giant ape-thing in it. Who killed whatever victims the pygmies? children dressed up in weird ways? threw down to it.
Now, the monkey monster thing was a man, obviously so, dressed up in some sort of monkey outfit. And oddly more pitiful than scary. I wasn’t scared of that thing. It was deformed and lumpy and sad. I wanted to help it.
Yeah, it was tossing victims around like they were stuffed bunnies, but…still. One of the intended victims was, ahem, Jane. Who got to do the faint and be carried bit. Oh my! That same limp draped in the villain’s or monster’s arms popular go-to.
Oh the pygmies. Or Little People in blackface. Or children. Or…yeah. That was. You just. Your brain stops.
You’re going, am I seeing this? Is that, uh, what is that? What’s happening here? And then you go– golly, so glad we’re in post-racist times! [Sarcasm. That was sarcasm.]
You then switch over to the Hallmark movie where a young couple fight gently to remain in love and save their bed and breakfast and the guy gives up Manhattan for a goat. A goat. He misses the goats.
So, yeah, I switched back to Tarzan. I’m a sad little shut-in, did I mention that??
Why am I writing about Tarzan movies that today would be rightfully skewered for their KKK-esque treatment of Africa and all that?
I’ve been avoiding a big long political rant for some time because…I’d lose my marbles and not get them back for some time if I did.
SPOILER—————> Political shriek almost here. Look away now if you’re squeamish.
I also have Handmaid’s Tale, season one, waiting to be watched. For a week now.
I peek at the American political landscape and it’s almost as if this Hulu series is more of a documentary than grim misery porn entertainment.
I don’t need to watch a television series where a country morphs into some sort of hellish biological prison for women, who are forced to breed for the state. Is that not where American is headed RIGHT FUCKING NOW? Look at Iowa. Look at the Bible Belt.
You have trouble breathing as this shit starts to stack up and stack up and stack up. Is this where dictatorships starts? Of course it is.
But where is the tide to stop the rising tide of totalitarianism? Where are the check and balances? Where are the loud-voiced pugnacious fighters on the side of common sense, common decency and basic rights for all people, not just the few selected Christian-esque males who make all the laws and hoard all the money?
Right now, it’s comedians versus politicians and actual presidents. It’s people doing satire versus people unable to understand why they are fodder for the satire cannons.
That absence of self-awareness just shines right through there on the Alt-Right. Wheee!!! It’s people greedily hurting as many as possible then claiming they’re the real victims here.
When conservatives and such are called out on their nastiness, their hypocrisy, their crimes and misdemeanors, their schemes and frauds and underhand dealings…they cry and scream and claim they’re the ones being attacked and marginalized.
And it works, it works, it works so very well.
There was an actual New York Times op-ed piece [by Bari Weiss] on JUST THAT VERY FUCKING BULLSHIT TACTIC. Being presented as if…as if very very true.
As if those conservatives screaming and stomping in so many public places, and on the media lately and gosh, always, have been silenced and not allowed to speak at all…while speaking about how silenced they are.
With no awareness that they are speaking, about being silenced, WHILE GETTING AN INTERNATIONAL PLATFORM TO AIR THEIR ALLEGED GRIEVANCES.
God damn it. GOD DAMN IT.
Ah, mini political rant. Well. There ya go.
Oh and to end this weird mash-up of Tarzan and political shrieking, I got some submissions sent off. A film noir-inspired play for a contest in Los Angeles and three plays for some woman-heavy festival in Detroit. I think I’ve been rejected by both places.
But yesterday, this woman from Columbia [the country!] wants to create a work around one of my short plays, as well as use that same play for some university something or other. The Care and Feeding of Baby Birds.
Sometimes the universe gives you a small sign that yes, you can sorta write stuff people actually do respond to once in a blue moon.
And then you wonder how Tarzan always looked so shaved and groomed in those old Tarzan movies. No chest hair. Did he manscape, too? Those loincloths don’t hide a lot.
You have to wonder about grooming because the movie itself seems full of fake stuffed animals stalking the latest version of Jane and people dressed up like some Grand Dragon’s most acid-laced dream about Africans in actual Africa.
And those ‘long ago’ views on black people seem the same as they are right now in 2018…holy fake stuffed lion, ya’ll.
But gee, Tarzan’s kinda nice to look at if you ignore everything else…
Hello, May. Something light and frothy. Let’s see. Oh.
May the Fourth Be With You. If you don’t get that…I cannot help you in any way, shape or form.
So, yesterday. I had saved a submission opportunity and actually took a moment to read through it, as I noted, somewhere in my messy mindhole, that I might have something to actually send that way. [The Honest Women, to be honest and frank and factual.]
Ah, yes! I read through the FAQ, like an innocent little idiot. I saw the requirements were not too weird, absurd or strenuous. I saw the deadline date– May 31, 2018. No entry fee.
I can do this, I thought with real American vigor. I can do this!
So, I tidied up a full-length play, which I’ve written about here a bit. Yep, the rewrite, I finished it! It was just sitting there, pages not numbered, no title page. A sad little full-length that had not yet had my attempt at polishing it up a bit.
So I spent, yes, the entire morning, putting page numbers in, doing a title page, coming up with a synopsis. Coming up with this, that, the other as per the submission guidelines. I even had to PDF it! Oh the horror! No, actually, it’s not, but I added that for dramatic effect. Get it?
GET IT NOW?
Okay, so I magically produce a product that roughly fits the guidelines of this submission opportunity. I email it off, using the email address the FAQ provided. I had a real sense of accomplishment. Oh yes, I did. I knew and know now that my play getting picked is a long shot on the odds of a donkey winning the Kentucky Derby. You know, that ‘not gonna happen’ outlook that I have so cheerfully and sweetly adopted. So that when I do get picked for whatever, I will be truly and honestly surprised.
So, not seconds after I sent off my submission…I get an email back from this crew. Claiming I had MISSED THE DEADLINE, that it was April 30…and they included the link to their FAQ.
I read this over several times, it seemed to be in Klingon. [ Or whatever Wookiees speak.]
What the hell, I thought, honestly and truly bewildered. I then went to check my saved link to this submission opportunity. Nope, it said May 31, 2018. I checked the link the crew sent me. Nope, May 31, 2018.
Gaslighted? Were they playing some weird Gaslight prank on me?
But wait, THERE’S MORE. Can you dig it? Can you survive the rush of adrenaline that just hit your system, fellow babies???
So today, as I write this, I went back to check for that bit that says the right date. And there’s an email from this place, that says, hey, you were right, we were wrong, so sorry.
Happy ending? What??!! Some trickster god went, hey, here, I’ll give you one, you sadsack. Is that what happened?? I’m looking for supernatural elements in a very mundane, boring clerical error story. I must be an American, bwha ha ha.
The moral of this story is…don’t pet fish.
I have no idea what the moral is here. Other than double and triple check dates for deadlines? I’m careless that way.
I also didn’t just let this go, I went back and rechecked the date and then copy-pasted that into my email back to ‘them’. Instead of sighing and going, oh well. So that’s…um, something. Right?
I was also nice and polite in my email. Nary a cuss word or hint their mom wore combat boots. Not that I regularly send off emails to sub ops cussin’ em out.
It’s nice here today in Eastern Oregon, my mini garden is yet alive and the dove baby I wrote about in One Egg IS STILL ALIVE AND THRIVING , thank you. A beautiful little birdling.
There’s also a nest of tiny babies squawking in the privet hedge.
And the blackbirds are back, with their ugly warning shouts. The lilac blooms. The ancient irises persist in throwing up their swordish leaves. Spring has sprung and I have learned not to pet fish. All is well, my darlings, all is well.