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2012 Pop Culture Prognostication

Breaking Bad castI’ve done a political clairvoyance act for the last few years on this blog, with more than a few teaspoons of satire thrown in for good measure. But 2012 doesn’t feel like adequate fodder to me, because hello, Barack Obama is going to be reelected President, and all of the other commentary around the election is just noise. So I’m setting my sights on popular culture this time around. With that, here are my thoughts for what I see will be terrific stories, so-so pop moments, and overhyped crap: Read More…

Enjoying the Holidays Zombie-Free

zombie carolersNothing blows a holiday party like an uninvited zombie guest. I for one don’t want to have all of my planning and preparation ruined by even one moaning undead person with a penchant for biting my other guests. Plus, those zombies are always bringing uninvited friends, and they’re horrible at making small talk. While anyone who smells of decomposition or has limbs falling off is easily identifiable as a zombie, an individual may be in an earlier state of zombification and thus harder to detect. Here are some easy ways to spot the burgeoning zombie so they don’t wreck your holiday: Read More…

Grey’s Anatomy Season 8, Episode 8: Heart-Shaped Box

This week the writers gave us something we all really needed: nostalgia and unconditional love. Who’d have thunk anyone had fond memories of 2009? Spoilers after the jump, as usual. Read More…

Grey’s Anatomy Season 8, Episode 7: Put Me In, Coach

In my early 30s I joined a rough and tumble flag football league, coached by a two-year veteran of the Lions who’d blown out both knees and still hungered to get back on the field. His frustration at enduring such a short NFL career was often realized in the form of shouting at us, and one of his favorite things to shout about was our apparent lack of dedication to winning. Did I mention he’d been on the Lions? When another team so much as assembled together before a game, he would point at them and then tell us loudly, “They came to PLAY!” Why this is relevant and spoilers after the jump. Read More…

Actual Signs of the End Times: Pop Culture Style

Anonymous movie posterOnce again we’ve passed a doomsday, this one set for October 21, 2011. Well, Hello, October 24. I guess we made it. Hysteria around the Mayan Calendar aside, there are perhaps a few other signs that collectively we’re about to face Armageddon anyway. Here are my guesses, for what it’s worth.

The movie AnonymousOf course the theory about Shakespeare’s fraud on the world of playwrighting has been around for millennia, but to put it into a blockbuster movie, by the same director who made us all terrified of 2012? It’s got to be evidence that soon we won’t need movie making anymore. Because we’ll be fighting over the last can of succotash in the bombed-out grocery store, that’s why. Read More…

When Zombies Attack Walla Walla

zombie movie posterEven small towns as isolated as Walla Walla, Washington, may fall prey to a zombie outbreak at some point, especially given the global nature of travel and commerce. Although only two state highways connect to the city, it does receive regular cargo shipments by truck and by rail, and it does house a working airport with connections to Seattle, a major seaport and airport on the West Coast. Looking at the nature, history, and geography of Walla Walla can help identify concrete strategies for defending against and surviving a zombie attack when it comes to the area. Strengths and weaknesses of the region, and specific tactics will be the subject of the rest of this brochure. Read More…

Why I Miss Octavia Butler

Like a flailing restaurant patron who has a chunk of beef stuck in his windpipe, I write speculative fiction. It’s a messy process, of combing through research so I retain a kernel of accuracy in the story, say of physics or history, of plot points and character sketches, scratched out, erased, and written over in my notebooks. There are many notecards and scraps of paper tucked into my journals, so many that I tend to break the bindings of lesser-made books. Don’t forget this detail, that sub-theme, this one scene that keeps popping up in my daydreams. I go back, rewrite, reconceive, get frustrated, re-execute, finally feel satisfied.

Octavia Butler and her booksIt could very well be that all of my energy is in vain, and none of it is any good. I think it’s healthy for writers to drink a cup of hubris with a side of humility every so often. There is so little that keeps us honest. Writing is supposed to be sellable, and to make it to the commercial market, it needs to be definable—what’s the synopsis, who’s the audience, is it like any other bestseller out there, what’s the genre? It had better not fit in too many boxes, or the marketing department at the publisher will implode like an old Vegas casino.

Octavia Butler was one of those writers who defied pretty much everything in publishing—its tightness on genre categories, certainly, but also its expectations around audience appeal, topics that could be covered in fiction, and what bestselling authors should look and sound like. Read More…

Grey’s Anatomy Season 8, Episode 5 Recap: Love, Loss & Legacy

Let it never be said that Grey’s Anatomy’s writers were afraid of multiple season-long story arcs. We’ve got a few this year, and we’re only a little way into the season, but so far there’s the adoption story line, the Lexie-Jackson affair, the baby angst between Owen and Cristina, and Alex’s plight of isolation. This week, those stories continue, sometimes with a little poignancy, but they mostly took to the backstage, two-upped by the twin moments of us meeting a character’s mother for the first time, and with The Trendsetting Surgery of the Week. Spoilers after the jump. Read More…

Who Chaz Bono Is Not

Chaz Bono dancingI’ve had it. I gave Chaz Bono’s interview with The New York Times a tired, jaundiced eye because there was a lot of gender stereotyping going on in his comments, and at the time it reminded me of other problematic things I’ve heard transfolk say when the spotlight is upon them. But I freely admit that a lot  of this is about the questions culturally incompetent people ask (read: I don’t think David Letterman has any training in which questions to avoid asking trans-identified people), and the stress of coming up with responses on the spot. Given the documentary that focused on Chaz’s transition, and Chaz’s gracefulness during the Dancing with the Stars competition—in which people have questioned his manhood, his fitness, and his dance skills—I’d say Chaz is treading more carefully now, repeatedly speaking about listening to his elders in transition/transitude, and more importantly, speaking only for himself. I dare say it’s a level of diplomacy that Thomas Beatie, a.k.a. “the pregnant man” has not shown himself capable.

Certainly, I didn’t have high hopes for the national response to Chaz as a transsexual, but even skeptical moi is surprised at the intensity of the vitriol and resentment. Read More…

Grey’s Anatomy Season 8, Episode 4 Recap: What Is It About Men?

I’m just going to put the spoilers announcement right up front this week because honestly, I can’t say anything about this episode, even in my introduction, without giving anything way. So, spoilers from here on out, folks. Read More…

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