Handmaid, Pt. 1

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:

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from Jacob’s Media. Hulu’s the Handmaid’s Tale, with Elizabeth Moss.

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.

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from the Daily Mail. Joseph Fiennes as Fred, Moss as Offred and Yvonne Strohovski as Serena Joy. The Ceremony.

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?

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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.

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from Medium. Enjoying the river. And oh, some dead people rotting away there on the wall.

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…

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from Insider. Alexis Bledel as Ofglen and Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia

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.

Serena!

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.

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from the Bradford Zone. Moss, and Strohovski. 

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.

Part II to follow! 

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from Pinterest. Protest sign

 

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Rabbit

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One of the doors down into the lawn rabbit abode.

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.

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I actually managed to get a snap of one of the lawn rabbits against the tubes. Go me!

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.

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I somehow managed to actually capture one of the local owls sitting in the elderly cottonwood. Who’s a pretty bird??

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.

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Harvest

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.

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One of the hawks, surveying the fields, from atop the locust tree. It’s fuzzy but that is, indeed, a hawk. 

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.

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The persistent iris

 

She-Devils, Tarzan Marathon and Political Shriekings, wheee!

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from Alamy. Now, that’s a damn title for the ages.

I watched a movie called Tarzan and the She-Devil. Yes, I did. Why?

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.

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Monique Van Voreen as Lyra, the She-Devil. From Down Memory Lane.

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.

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Raymond Burr as Vargo. from Rare Films.
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Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan, from the Walking Dead. For compare and contrast fun.

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.

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from Pinterest. See what I mean? Yep. Also– the lack of hirsuteness. ?

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!

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Joyce MacKenzie as Jane and Lex Barker as Tarzan. From Rare Film

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.

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Weissmuller and lion. from the Film Experience

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.

Okay.

If you’ve seen any of the creaky Tarzan flicks, you know a bit of what I’m blithering on about.

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Johnny Weissmuller. 

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.

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The, uh, Pygmies, from 1932’s Tarzan, the Ape Man. Wikipedia

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.

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I don’t know who designed this. 

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.

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An actual sign from Maryland. This is real. 

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…

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Douglas P. Whitney, photo credit. 

May the Fourth

 

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from Neatorama

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.

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Me invading this poor young bird’s privacy. Isn’t it cute???

There’s also a nest of tiny babies squawking in the privet hedge.

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Me playing bird paparazzi. Tiny newborns hastily caught with my elderly digital camera

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.

NEMO: THE ADULT YEARS

 

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Someone in the internet interverse referred to the movie, the Shape of Water, as Fucking Nemo. That has stuck with me.

I’ve read a review over on Movie Boozers where they shredded this film, nearly as much as they went after the Fifty Shades stuff. Okay, not as much, but close. If you’ve never heard of Movie Boozers, go check them out. I find myself actually LAUGHING OUT LOUD at their take on the current and past crop of films. [It might even have been on Movie Boozers where I read that reduction of Shape of Water into Sex with Pixar Character.]

1. Shape Of Water: That said, Shape of Water robs me of the ability to coherently speak due to its staggering levels of self-indulgent, and highly disturbing, narrative dissonance. YOU CAN’T MAKE ME BELIEVE IN AN INTERSPECIES LOVE STORY IF THEIR BIG ROMANCE PRIMARILY INVOLVES LINING UP EGGS ALONG AQUAMAN’S TANK FOR BRING-YOUR-PET-TO-WORK SNACK TIME BEFORE YOU, UGHHHHHHH, BANG HIM GIVE IT UP AND SWIPE LEFT ON TINDER LIKE THE REST OF US, BISH. Oh, yeah, I wondered when the all caps button would get stuck again. No. Just no.

So, I rented the film. Yes, from Red Box. I’m one of those people who miss Blockbuster. Now you have a real and awful glimpse into my soul.

The Shape of Water had just won the Academy Award for, uh, everything? Best Picture, at least, I remember that. And it’s by the guy who did Pan’s Labyrinth. Which, if I need an excuse to sob and feel bad for days, I pop into my DVD player and wallow in the soul-destroying beauty of that film. I don’t need an excuse to sob and feel bad for days, my brain does that to me all on its own…so.

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from Vulture. Sally Hawkins as Eliza, Octavia Spencer as Zelda

Okay! I expected a gorgeous, dark film, full of uncomfortable truths and great visuals. Perhaps the people who had not liked this film were more into Lifetime movies about abused women taking back their lives and crazed stalkers being brought to justice. Or movies where shit blows up and it’s ninety percent men with lots of sweaty muscles on display and giant weapons, not to mention shotguns and flamethrowers. Tee hee. 

First off, the film really is gorgeous. The tones reflect a rather watery world, with cool wavery blues, shadows, blurred lights, night setting…yeah. The tiny apartments they lived in, yes, yes, yes. People with no actual money living in tiny dark dingy places! Yes, ma’am! Our heroine masturbating every night before she goes to work, hey, who hasn’t done that when having to work graveyard? Hands? Tee hee.

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from Hype MY. Gold and shadows. That’s Doug Jones as Amphibian Man.

Though, I honestly did like that this woman, who lives alone, masturbates on a regular basis and the film maker regards it as normal and natural. It’s just part of who she is. Score! She’s not waiting for some man or beast to ‘wake her up’. She’s woke, baby. It’s just rather startling and pleasant to see a depiction of female sexuality that’s about HER PLEASURE and that she just enjoys it.

It also gave the movie a foreign film air. As America cinema tends to paint women as shrills, shrews, bitches, cold sex-hating ex-wives or very young whores/madonnas. Masturbation among American cinema females is seen as desperate, old-maid behavior. See Girls Trip for an example of this. Jokes about detachable shower nozzles here please.

Okay, before we veer off into how the movies treat women’s sexuality…

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from the News Geeks. 

Secondly! I expected more and got far less from this movie. The story…eh. It’s the wallflower and the outsider; they just added a fishman to the mix. Is that bestiality? If you’re having an affair with something with gills? Are we edging over into, gulp, tentacle porn? Well, sort of. We do get brief fish/heroine sex. We also got a finger show on how the fishman’s penis works.

Now, Adult Nemo, wow. Well done on that. It didn’t look like some skinny dude wrapped in plastic and making weird sounds, like oh, the Creature from the Black Lagoon. There seemed to be an utter believability to this fishman of Shape of Water. That it could mate with a human…eh. Does that make it part human? Because that would get into some actual legal and ethical issues over keeping it locked up, torturing it and yes, you guessed, killing it and then dissecting it later on.

Because what do movie scientists and military folks do the very second they get their moist hands on something exotic, out of this world or unknown and rare? Right! They wanna cut it up and look at its guts! Oh my goddess!! Can we for once NOT GO DOWN THIS PARTICULAR PLOT HELLWAY? Scientists find some one of a kind creature and WANT TO KILL IT RIGHT OFF? Are you INSANE? I just…it’s just not logical or…god damn it!

What if they had discovered the fishman was some sort of undiscovered evolutionary shoot of humans?? What??!! I’m already more interested in that angle than the tired, played out, little shy mouse falls in love with some outcast who falls in love with her, wah, the end.

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from tumblr

Thirdly–The storyteller, the film maker here…took away her voice. My my. In a time when it’s so horrifically obvious that women’s voices are already pretty much silenced, to feature a MUTE FUCKING WOMAN as your main character…Jesus wept.

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from Dance Network. Suddenly we’ve wandered into someone’s high school prom that took place on Halloween? 

And then that dream sequence where she sings and dances…dances with the fishman…I…I honestly didn’t know what to make of this. Because it seems more fairy tale/fantasy than the entire film combined and then some. It jarred me. It was beautifully done but seemed at odds with the entire rest of the film. Ah, there it is.

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from the Verge. Michael Shannon as Strickland. Mr. Grey can see you now. Come on! It’s right there. 

Okay! Here’s four. Here we go. Hold on to something. 

Let’s move on to the super-concentrated Batman-esque villain that rape-romps his way through Shape of Water, shall we?

Michael Shannon is one of my favorite actors. He’s scary-sexy; yeah. I can’t explain it better than that. He should have been Christian Grey. I bet Shannon spitting out those truly abysmal lines would have been something to hear and watch. That intensity, that quiet intent, that notion that he could go pussycat or psycho tiger and you’d welcome both.

My crushes are weird and varied, sorry. If you got through my take on The Big Lebowski…yep.

Now! As the villain of this film, eh. I’m going to blame the story here.

This villain, a government procurer of oddities–honestly, that’s what I thought his job was. He just goes around slapping the shit out of weird animals/human hybrids and grinding his teeth because his wife talks too much-– brings in a tank full of SOMETHING to this government facility in Baltimore, Maryland.

Whee.

It was found in South America. It does not like our villain and shows this by biting off two fingers, which our heroine finds. Now, the fingers being sewn back on to his hand and then rotting away…that alone was great. It was visual, it summed up the villain, it…yeah. Our villain is a rotting smelly finger! Got it!

The problem with the villain? One-note. Bang bang bang. He’s one of the sharks from a sharknado. You just sit back and wait for someone to chainsaw this guy in half while spouting a sporty one-liner. 

Not to mention, he’s such an OBVIOUS villain, everyone knows to avoid him and fight him. He’s repulsive, he’s a bully and then some; he’s a concentrated dickhead. 

Ugh.

I wanted so much more from Shannon’s role. Oh my gosh, a love triangle developing instead of him trying to be a rapey asshole to our heroine.

What if he had been torn by the empathy and such Rita shows to the fishman [is there an official name for the creature?], which makes his job all the harder as he, too, starts to understand and sympathize with Fishy? Sort of like the Russian spy guy…who had an actual character, motivation and arc. He, the Russian spy guy, sympathizes with the monster, and helps with the escape…by planting something that so very obvious the Russians would have used…in a facility full of American military personnel. I just. Ugh.

What if we get to see something other than kill kill wanna rape that silent freak girl I’m mean mean mean from the villain? Give Shannon a real acting challenge. Give him a place to go. He can’t start at ten and stay at ten and end the movie at ten. Boring!

And worse, just bad screenwriting. It’s a rookie mistake. This is a rookie mistake in a straight to dvd movie called Bad Villain, Part 8, Revenge of Squishy. [A Finding Nemo shout-out.]

Give us a story where we root for everyone and it breaks our hearts. Because those we root for can’t all win in the end…which is rather closer to actual stories of love in real life.

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from Mashable. Cuddling!
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from the Independent, UK. The Creature from the Black Lagoon and friend. For compare and contrast purposes only. 

But.

This is touted as a fairy tale.

Fairy tales tend to teach lessons. On behavior and what to do and how society deals with those who step off the path. [Badly. Badly is the answer. Do as you’re told, ladies.] So what do we learn from The Shape of Water?

Mm.

Love conquers all, even death. Yeah, except it doesn’t.

Bad guys always get theirs. Yeah, except when they don’t and they seldom do in real life, if their lawyers are competent.

Friendship is rewarding and wonderful. Yes, actually, it is. Point awarded. I really enjoyed the relationship between Eliza and Giles, played by Richard Jenkins. Far more than the romance between Rita and Adult Nemo…oh dear. I keep thinking her name is Rita. It’s not? 

Scientists are evil and always want to kill everything. Except for the Russian double agent guys, because they know about being different? I’m not sure at all here what I’m supposed to take away about scientists.

Red shoes are a sign of rebellion.

Oh yes, you thought I wouldn’t bring up the RED SHOES our heroine, Rita, [or Eliza. Why do I think her name is RITA? Why?] bought and then wore. Women and shoes, oh yes. Uh huh. Though, women really do love shoes. Here’s why.

Your feet don’t look fat in shoes. Your shoe size doesn’t go up or down, after all. 

No one looks at your feet and tells you about the latest diet craze or that you have such a pretty face, it’s a shame you’re such a hideous porker from the depths of hell. Of course, if you have hooves for feet…welp. So no, women can’t win this one, either. Sorry! 

Same thing with jewelry or scarves or hats.

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from Fashiontalks. The red shoes!

But. Red shoes. She couldn’t buy them before she…DISCOVERED NEMO LOVIN’. And got her groove going and discovered her inner sand dollar! Oh god damn it to hell and back and then back again.

An actual romance novel/chick flick staple! Fuck me running.

That woman who finds courage to buy some article of clothing because…I just can’t, my brain liquefied for a bit. It’s Pretty Woman and she gets to wear pretty clothes! Incoherent scream snarls inserted here. 

It might seem I hated this movie. I didn’t. Most of it was well done and entirely watchable. Other parts, not so much. I wanted to love it, I just couldn’t get there. It was no Sharnado II. Feeble joke but you get the point? Sharknado II came together as a whole…Shape of Water just did not. This is why I do not review movies for a living or, um, ever.

Yes, I did compare a movie about sharks raining down on NYC with a movie about interspecies romance that won actual big time awards. Yes, I did.

I had the same problem with La La Land. I could admire the artistry, and that scene in the planetarium, City of Stars. Wow. That I actually watched with real wonder and a slight ache in the remaining straggles of my soul. But the La La story, oh so overdone and been there many times feel to it. Trying to make it in LA as an actress…slap me with a mackerel. And the ending. I wanted to just beat the film makers with a sack full of moldy pudding. It would be gross but not leave bruises.

I hesitated about posting this at all.

It’s rambling, long, disjointed, full of adult language and adult themes and reveals I have a bit of a crush on Michael Shannon. But.

It’s my blog, right?

A few only will glance at this and then go on to look at cute cat videos and some super-popular mommy blog and add their comments under politically charged stories written in the Washington Post.

And last night, Michelle Wolfe roasted all of D.C. and the media. She didn’t mince words. So, if she can do that, I can post a random movie review.

Oh, the mini garden is doing okay. In case you were hankering for news in that area from yours truly.

 

 

THE SMITING IS COMING O SINNERS

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Molly, the scourge of the local rodent population. 

It’s been windy since January. Or so it seems. No snow but lots of whushing sounds outside.

So, the dog, Molly. She dug up a nesting pair of shrews or something. Rodents with very short tails, not mice but they were mouse-shaped, if that helps everyone. The rodent she grabbed fought like the dickens. I got over there a bit late to save it. It expired before my eyes after I got the dog to ‘drop it’. I walked back over to where the dog had dug a hole to get at the underground-living shrews or whatever they were. There was a second one. Frozen as I stood over it. I stepped toward it and it went underneath the old boards, into the spring weeds and winterly dead leaves.

I went back outside, that same day, hours later, to check on my wind-whipped, probably don’t have a chance now, collection of veggies. A squash, two pumpkins, an eggplant…that poor cuke plant, ugh. I could hear a faint high-pitched calling. Not a bird. I know the local bird sounds;  this was something far different.

Some tiny voice calling for something that was lost.

I went very still, turned toward the fence. To that spot where Molly had dug out the two rodents and then killed the one…that ‘are you there, where are you‘ had come from where Molly’s nose had led her to investigate. 

I walked toward that still-raw hole in the lot next to the house, where the men folks park their giant tractors and talk of man stuff…and the calling stopped. Silence. Waiting for me to go away. So the calling could go forth again. Come home come home where did you go?

Actions have consequences. What a strange thing to learn so rather late in life.

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Jake, to the left, and again, Molly. Note the hole dug…the rodents were not at home this time.

I keep waiting, for the winds that seem to eternally blow here in Eastern Oregon, to knock a giant branch off the elderly cottonwood. The giant branches that hang above the house like something out of the Old Testament.

They will smite us. Oh the smiting is coming, o sinners.

I kept waking now and then in the night, waiting. Waiting for that crash, that boom, the shock of limb striking roof, waiting for it finally to happen so I don’t have to dread the big whoooshy sounds outside at night or the day or ever. Nothing tornado-speed has come through lately, but it could.

And that little widow or widower rodent can perhaps rejoice that justice has come for the spoiled Lab in the smushed dwelling next door.

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from Royal Queen Seeds. 
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From last November. Me fiddling with the B/W setting. Oh the branches that hang over all our lives, eh? Usually laden with garbage-esque plastic bags. Some writer should take a whack at the symbolism here…

One Egg

 

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The actual two egg starter kit

 

The doves have once again built their shoddy little nest at eye level. It sits in a crotch of the old plum tree. I think it’s a plum tree, don’t quote me on that.

At first, two white eggs rested against each other upon that rough bed of twigs. The dove parent exploded and cried out every time I did anything in the yard. I try, even now, not to disturb the nesting doves. But. You can’t not go out into the yard, especially when you put in a mini garden and have this anxious need to SEE IF ANYTHING’S COME UP YET. Or clean up the winter debris that’s gathered, you can’t just ignore it. Well, you can.

So, in my faintly scientific study of the nesting doves, I note that the two eggs have become one single egg. Ah! Was it that big rain storm that went through? Something took one of the eggs? Why didn’t it take both eggs, then? Again, I tried not to harass that poor pair of birds just trying to raise a family. You’d think they’d get used to me going to and fro. Nope. The explosion of dove from that tree, the waiting for yours truly to GO AWAY, the mournful calling. It’s been rather cold so I worry that the egg would not hatch if the easily spooked dove mom and pops had to lurk nearby too much, instead of actually sitting atop their single hope.

Ah.

The egg has hatched! A single ugly baby! Again, I just try to glance at the dove family as I pass by to water my lavender, which I’ve put in a container in the corner of the yard. Maybe I should move my lavender but even stepping into the yard disturbs the doves. It’s a no-win here, unless I just avoid the yard altogether until the ugly baby flops about in the yard trying to teach itself to feed and fly. I try not to go near that plum tree. I try to work in the front part of the yard or find other things to do outside that need doing that are not IN THE YARD. Of course the two dogs want me to either throw sticks or balls CONTINUOUSLY or lift this or that so they can hunt for rodents. Trying to get anything done with those two dogs about is nigh impossible. Or so I tell myself.

I’ll end this brief missive about dove eggs and the hatching of the remaining egg with…something profound and meaningful. If you can think of something profound and meaningful, then, by all means, credit that to me. Thanks!

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The hasty, blurry newborn chick pic. 
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Jake and Molly, the two dogs mentioned. This was taken at the local reservoir beneath a very gray sky.