Green's Hill-Amy Lane's Home - News

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Quirky, Odd, Random Thoughts

Thought the first: It's funny--after the post about the gun, I've heard from two people who said, "Did you call the police and report the gun anonymously?"

Now, I'd like to say, "I thought of that, but since I looked at the kid and there aren't a lot of people my size/shape/coloring wandering the neighborhood, it wouldn't be as anonymous as I'd like to think," but I can't.

Truth is, it didn't occur to me. That could be because I was twenty minutes from home when the whole thing occurred. It could be because I don't carry a cell phone with me. It could be a couple of things, but I think what it came down to was almost as disturbing as the gun itself.

Truth is... the truth REALLY is, that when I talk about the bone-deep distrust I have for authority, I am not kidding. I used to think I exaggerated. I don't believe that anymore. The idea of calling the cops didn't hit me until someone brought it up to me nearly 24 hours after the whole thing happened. I guess all my hype is true--I really don't trust people in power. That includes administration, policemen, government, and all big corporations. This could be a bad thing or a good thing, depending on your point of view, but I don't know if it's a CHANGEABLE thing, if you get my drift. Who knew?

Thought the second: Ten days left of school. Can I get a woot? A whoop? A holler? Don't worry--you'll hear them all from me, June 12th. I'm ready!

Thought the third: Mate and I will have been married for 20 years on June 17th. Today, we took the kids to see UP. For those of you who have seen it, or who are going to see it, if you've been married for any length of time at all, the first 10 minutes will break your heart. Don't believe me? Mate's eyes were pretty damned bright after the first 10 minutes, and I was sobbing like a kid. Must say, I thought the movie was wonderful--even with the beginning.

Thought the fourth: I got taken to dinner last night by a nice person who read my books and got in touch and then we met at a signing--and then we went and saw Star Trek. I've got to say, she's a fun person to see a movie with--she laughs loudly, claps enthusiastically, and gets the jokes you whisper in the middle of the movie. She also doesn't mind sitting on the end so I can take my pee break in the middle. (Every movie. It's a fact.) I like her--I'm gonna keep seeing movies with her. Wheeee!!! I've got a friend! (But next time, darling, dinner's on me!)

Thought the fifth: I'm in the difficult phase of the book. The, "I'm never going to finish it, and even though I know how it ends, I don't know if I can go on" phase. I know I'll go on--so far, I'm five in five--and I like the way this puppy ends... but sometimes writing's harder than just typing shit up, you know?

Thought the sixth: My family is watching MTV movie awards. They're pretty damned funny--just sayin'.

Thought the seventh: Spaznado boy just handed me a sad picture of himself. After he didn't share his toys and played too hard with his little sister, she decided he wasn't enough fun to play with. Go figure!

Thought the eighth: Pushing Daisies was on last night-- one of the last three unaired episodes. I really loved that show... (not as much as, say, you know, that one with the veal, but I loved it...) so I'm glad Chicken taped it last night to watch... which I'm going to do... right now!

Happy evening!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

On a lighter note...

Just so that last post doesn't stick with you for too long, I thought I'd tell you that for the last ten minutes, Spaznado boy has been bringing his teddy bears to me from the living room, one at a time. "This one has a sore leg, bear doctor--fix him. Wait, doctor--you forgot her! You forgot this one!"

The Bear Doctor then kisses the bear and gives the bear back--all is well with the bear, all is well with the world.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Deep, Dark, Heavy Thoughts

So, I went off to my walk tonight wondering what I was going to post about, and wishing something exciting had happened to me and mine in the last two days to make the choice easier.

Wish granted!

Now, it's getting close to the end of the school year, when I stop walking and start going to the gym to use the pool instead--and I really love this time, because I hate walking in the heat.

I may start swimming a little early this year.

The area I live in is not great. It's not bad--there are some houses with really nice landscaping and there are a lot of people I say 'howdy' to in the course of my walk that make me feel safe and part of a community, but there are also a lot of houses like ours, where the lawn is always on the verge of dying, and it's not much of a loss to humanity if it goes. I assume those houses are like us--basically nice people, but too flaky to really get into the whole 'my lawn is my life' facet of suburban living. There are only a couple of hurricane fences, but a disturbing number of foreclosures.

Some of the nicest houses/lawns/front doors are in the part of my walk that runs by the 'gang house'. I know it's a gang house--I've been trained to look for the signs! I can't seem to find a way to write that which conveys my wide-eyed sarcasm in the face of my overwhelming gang-obliviousness. If there weren't between five and twenty kids hanging out playing pool in Chicago Bulls (for the red and black) basketball shirts I wouldn't know it's a gang house--but I've got to tell you, they're not exactly subtle.

And until tonight, I haven't been afraid of them.

But as I walked up tonight, there was a big muscular car peeling out of the driveway, and what looked to be a fight on the verge of breaking out. That itself didn't bother me--there's a bunch of teenage boys hanging out, there will be some rough-housing. It happens.

But as the car pulled out, there was a clatter, and my head jerked by instinct to see what made that sound.

And a semi-automatic gun rattled to the blacktop in the middle of the road.

I stopped and looked at the gun, and looked up automatically to the people hanging out in front of the garage, and then to the kid walking out to pick up the gun.

The kid looked back at me to see what I'd do.

My neck snapped around and my feet moved forward and Kenny Loggins came up on my i-pod rotation and I let it play in spite of the fact that I'm not really a fan.

And I just kept walking. I walked my normal speed, although I probably had enough adrenaline in my body to work up to an actual run. I followed the culdesac around to the right, knowing that from the spot in the middle of the street where the kid had been, I was a big, fat, waddling target. I took the next turn to the left, knowing that if the kid had a mind to follow me, he could probably drop me with two well-placed shots. Probably even one. Most of the neighborhood knows that house--most of the houses are RELATED to the people in that house. If I got dropped in the dark on a Friday night, there would probably not be a soul who would profess to see who did it.

Which would be a shame, because I was, at that moment, perfectly willing to vouch exactly the same sentiment about the ugly piece of metal that had clattered out of that car.

Well, I obviously made it home, but it's weird what you think about while you're pretending your world didn't just shift sideways on its axis and reveal the nasty moldy underbelly underneath.

I was thinking about teaching The Pit and the Pendulum. In order to get my kids into the story, I had them list their top ten ways they didn't want to die. The kids, of course, asked me for the top three ways I DID want to die, and I'd grinned at them with some bravado and said, "A long distance sniper, double-tapped in the head. I don't want to see it coming."

I had time and opportunity to change my mind this evening.

On Thursday, one of our teachers out on leave visited work. He was out of it--he'd just been to his radiation treatment and they had to drug him seriously to get him not to freak out when they'd locked him in place and burned his head with nuclear laser beams or whatever--but he seemed to be doing okay. He was dismayed but unsurprised to find that his hair was coming out--but since he'd shaved most of it off before the operation, it was okay.

But he still has hope, and he's still kicking back, enjoying his time with his wife, and visiting his colleagues, enjoying his children...

There are worse ways to face death, I would imagine.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Three Letters, Sent Today

To the big, furry, black, scary arachnid that walked across my wall today:

Dear Spider:

I must be honest--if you hadn't shown up in the middle of my 3rd period for the first time they were on task all fucking year, I might not have been quite as vicious. As it was, you freaked out five six-foot plus bundles of hormonally enhanced testosterone, and it took me forever to get my class back. I'm afraid I took insuring your demise a bit personally.

In short, I'm glad you're dead.


Ms. Lane, Room G113

To the colleague who seemed to think that killing spiders was against my creed:

Dear Mr. Trick

Were I Wiccan, I would have to concede that the creed 'An it harm none' would have been violated by the demise of the furry, eight-legged nightmare that freaked out my 3rd period class. But I'm not Wiccan, I'm Pagan, which means I can worship at the feet of whatever god I choose. Today, it was the holy idol of Arachnid Whoopass. Good ol' A.W. did me proud, and that fucker is now fodder for the vacuum cleaner, cannyagimmehallelujia?



Ms. Lane, Room G113

To the value-depreciated husk of electronics formerly known as my DVD/VCR player:

Dear Worthless Piece of Shit:

I don't like to get ugly about this, but hear me, and hear me now: If you don't play the very next dvd I shove down your useless, pathetic, cheap-assed, craptastical maw, I will personally insure that the next big-scary-furry-arachnid that should cross the threshold of my den of education shall be BEATEN INTO THE GROUND WITH YOUR UGLY METAL CORPSE! Now get with the program and work, motherfucker, or I'm serious, the jig is fucking up!

I mean that.


Ms. Lane, Room G113

(Heh heh heh... go ahead. Ask me how my day went. I dare you!)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


(*whew* I'm SO glad I'm done with the archetype shit... it looks like you guys are done with it too!)

Sunday, I went out to do the laundry, and Spaznado boy followed me. And that's when he saw *IT*.


"What sweetheart."

"Can I have that *BOX*?" (Can you hear the eyes the sizes of saucers in this question? I could!"

"Sure--have Dad come get it."

"Daddy daddy daddy daddy daddy daddy...can I have the box? Get the box get the box get the box... please? Please please please please?"

So Mate does--the clean, large box that the lawnmower came in was put in our kitchen, and it had barely hit the ground before the Cave Troll had made it his cave. Now, if you have ever watched the Spongebob episode called idiot box, this next line will have deeper meaning, but even if you don't, it'll crack you up.

As he's settling down he has us close the top of the box and throw a blanket over it to block out all light. And it's from this cozy little bolt-hole that we heard him say, "I-MAG-IN-AAAAAAAA-TION."


And as an addendum to that story? I just went and tried to get a youtube clip for all of you so you could see this episode, and I discovered a disturbing trend. Now, some of you know (KNITTECH! GALAD!) that there's an entire hobby devoted to making music videos from Supernatural--seriously, the amount of man-hours, talent, and dedication that goes into it is sort of staggering, and, I have to say that Knittech, Galad, and I are VERY grateful. I am a little disturbed by the offshoot of this art form, though--apparently, dubbing Spongebob cartoons with swearwords is a VERY hot item on youtube. It's kind of creepy... I mean, even though we all know Spongebob and Patrick are "Fucking morons," to hear Squidward SAY it? Just... sick and wrong, that's all. Wrongsick. Totally. Nuff said.

So our weekend was mostly that box, really. Okay, I simplify. The weekend was the big box, a trip to the movies, and a trip to the park. And really? That's all I wanted. I woke up this morning and thought "Omygod! I should have visited elderly relatives!" But in the meantime, I wrote 28 pages, got some knitting done, and cuddled with the kids. All in all, not bad--hopefully it took care of my end-of-the-year misanthropy well enough to keep me from killing something underaged that talks for the next three weeks--it's a hope!

And some of you have noticed that I've rediscovered my Ravelry! I got a few pictures up and even two patterns--but not where the patterns SHOULD be, I've noticed. I LURVE Ravelry, but, seriously--it's SOOOOOOOOOOOOO BIIIIIIIIIIIGGGGGG. Dauntingly big. Frighteningly big. Too big for me to surf, big. I'll try to keep current, and I'll even add a couple more of my back pictures and patterns, but believe you me, I'm MORE than aware that I'm a tadpole in a sunfish pond, when I'm on Ravelry.

That being said, I'm going to totally crunch on some sock yarn... Ty-Dy merino/nylon sock yarn. It's probably 8 plied, (maybe 4) but it's sort of crepe-y, and it does have a slight splitting problem, but.. mmm... the finished fabric? SCRUMPTIOUS. It's like the Tirimasu of sock yarns... no shit nor shinola... i've got a real hard-on for this one almost (but not quite) as passionate as my lust for Cherry-Tree Hill or Schaeffer's Anne. Maybe on-line with my shameless harlotry for Araucania's Ranco... (wait... does this make my yarn taste promiscuous? Does it help that they're all sock yarn? Nevermind... that just tells you I have a type and I indulge in it, doesn't it?)

And speaking of being in love?

I'm reading the next Harry Dresden-- Turn Coat, and, as always, I'm WILD about Harry-and about Thomas. If they spent more time together, I might even be in Sam & Dean land--but no, they broke my heart about four books back and Thomas moved out. Anyway, I'm enjoying myself--almost as good as summer started early. (But not quite. Nope. Not. Quite.)

Still--I'm fighting misanthropy off one indulgence at a time--I've started the fingerless mitts my TA requested--they're from the book "Not Just Socks" by Sandi Rosner-- I lurve her like a long lost cousin--and I think my Senior will like them. She's been supremely awesome this year, and anything I can give her to make her happy when she graduates, well, I'm there.

But now, I've got a little of this and some more of that to do, so while I might be *there*, I'm not really here...


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Archetypes Part 4: Assorted Shit I forgot to wrap up

I've got family stories to tell, actually, but I promised I'd wrap this up and I hate to leave shit hanging. I'll try and post the family stories tomorrow--they're worth remembering:-)

The points that many of you brought up, as well as the ones I made to Ilona Andrews are important enough to recap, and to add shit to:

* These archetypes were established with male dominated, male written, male critiqued literature--they are going to be heavy on the misogyny. Just stands to reason.

* No genre gets legitimacy without them. That's the way life works.

* The big transition of heroines from the four V's (Virgins, Vixens, Victims, and DEFINITELY Vamps) to the male archetypes indicates that women, in recent years, have been given equal billing in the heroine department.

* That last thing I said relates directly to my snarkiness about relating it all to the almighty penis. If sex=power in the male archetype world, then when our girls move in on the boy's territory, it's going to mean the same thing.

* In the case of our ladies, sex also equals full fledged humanity. Like I said, it's a woman's full-access visa to both saving the world and fucking it up beyond repair--just like the big boys.

* Even though our characters may be striving for a relationship, and working towards the ideal of love, you can write volumes about how love and power can self-annihilate on a planetary scale. That doesn't make the love any less real, or the carnage any less appalling. (I'm firmly convinced that Hamlet loved Ophelia. Fat lot of fucking good that did all the bodies on the stage at the end.)

* Sex itself is not a requirement of the literature--but an opportunity for a relationship that combines sex and power is. (In this case, Kate Daniels IS a Gothic heroine.)

* If anyone wants to argue which archetype a heroine/hero falls under, well, feel free. SCHOLARS HAVE BEEN DOING IT FOR YEARS! The fact is, the archetypes seem to be (and this is wholly my own observation) a sliding scale of a hero's humanity, and his ability to fuck up his life by swapping humanity for power--or by having power and not using it to serve humanity, depending on your character, archetype, etc. No matter how clear you make your scholarly criteria for an archetype, that sort of scale is bound to be up for interpretation. For several years I've shown Gladiator, and had the kids tell ME which archetype Maximus falls under. Sometimes he's an Epic Hero. Sometimes he's a Tragic Hero. Sometimes he's a Romantic Hero--it all depends on the kid and how he or she interprets Maximus' actions. We like our heroes complex--that's why they're not all Epic Heroes, and that's why it's fun to talk about.

* Regarding the Gothic vs. the American Romantic archetypes--they are VERY close to each other--and they emerged in literature at about the same time, only on different continents. In American Literature, the America Romantic hero goes Goth when Poe and Hawthorne write--and they're the closest writers to European literature as any American writer at the time. It seems that the difference between the two archetypes is the difference between royalty and peasantry. If the royalty went rogue, he'd rise above humanity and fell hard and fast--hullo, Gothic. If the peasantry went rogue, even the peasantry with societal heft, well, as long as his ideals were still good, he couldn't wreak a whole lot of havoc. So the across the pond, the rogue hero went Gothic. Over here, he went Bruce Willis.

* (And you knew I had to bring this up.) Supernatural. I've got some theories on the show that relate directly to this discussion, because I think it comes down to this in the end:

Sam Winchester goes Gothic for a couple of reasons:
A. Sam has an education--the American olive wreath, right there
B. Sam's demon blood--it's not that it's demonic, it's that it raises him to the rank of royalty
C. Sam's lack of sacrifice--what has Sam given for anybody in his family? He succumbed to the lure of the power because he wanted to do things the easy way--no sacrifice, no redemption. Just ask his brother.
D. Sam's entire personality change this last season has been to pursue the heroic agenda no matter the human cost. Including his brother.

While Dean stays American Romantic for some archetypal reasons as well:
A. Dean manages to retain his innocence--even when he comes back from hell. He is hurt--he is not jaded.
B. Dean never succumbs to the chosen one idea, unless it's for a chance at redemption. All romantic heroes are pretty big on redemption.
C. They're also big on sacrifice. Hull-o, Dean Winchester-- who hasn't he died for? Except his father, but that really wasn't his fault--he would have done that if daddy hadn't beaten him to it!
D. He forsakes his heroic agenda for his personal agenda in a heartbeat.

And the final addendum to this whole thing--although I'm sure there will be more questions/discussion forthcoming, and that will be fun too!

Big T is ALWAYS asking me, "Is this guy a Gothic hero or an Epic hero? American Romantic or Tragic? What kind of hero is it mom?"

My answer never varies: "Big T--we don't really know for sure until he's dead."

And that's the Goddess' honest truth!

Tomorrow, a tale of a box, a movie, and kids that make me crazy!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Dreaming in Poetry, Writing in Twitter

* Watching five year olds squaredance is highly amusing. My son is all hands and elbows--and he never goes in the right direction.

* The line for refreshments at Open House moved by attrition--but cavetroll HAD to have his pizza.

* The animal he made out of clay was a seven-legged bright yellow starfish. Too much Spongebob, not enough math.

* Knittech keeps sending me Supernatural videos. I love Knittech.

* "Ms. Lane--guess where I was on Tuesday?"


"Taking my naturalization oath. I'm a citizen now!"


* "In answer to your question, if I'd totally quit on you, Berto, do you think I'd be up here SCREAMING AT YOU ALL TO SHUT UP, DO YOUR WORK, AND PASS THE GODDAMNED CLASS?"

* Cavetroll started to play the "hypochondriac game" this morning--claimed he had a broken leg. Mate threatened to leave him home if he didn't get his ass in gear. "Mate, you can't DO that," I said quietly. So Mate gave him a Motrin instead. Cavetroll wanted to play chase on the way out to the car.

* Chicken's pscychocat hasn't pulled his tongue in his mouth in three days. He just likes the look.

* My shorts and my haircut: Good ideas in theory, comfortable in execution, and shittier in appearance than anything I've tried in recent memory.

* Our rat is dying of cancer. I need a big spatula to scrape Chicken off the floor when poor ol' Lullaby goes toes-up. Fucking rat.

* I found someone to take my 4th period on Thursday so Mate could go to training. Mate told me training was canceled.

* Six different people made the connection to American Romanticism from Supernatural without my help. I feel like all that class time watching the show doesn't make me a bad teacher after all.

* I took Chicken to the orthodontists yesterday. FTR? There is NO shortcut from Fair Oaks to Lincoln. It's all suburbs, all the fucking way.

* Had to ask Big T a pop culture question. And quietly shut him down fifteen minutes later when he was still detailing the answer. All I needed was two words: Judd Apatow.

* Can anyone come up with a porn movie title that rhymes with "Pride and Prejudice?" The closest our staff room came was "The Bride and Festishist."

* I'll take any other Jane Austen/Shakespeare/Dickens recommendations for that sort of thing. But "Great Expectations" sort of speaks for itself, doesn't it?

* Ladybug wants to be Cavetroll when she turns five. Oh, baby--anything but that!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Lady Cory's Punk Goth Brocade

Okay--I will wrap up the archetype thing, probably this weekend--there's not too much more to say, but some of the comments were so awesome, and my reply to Ilona Andrews brought up some interesting points, and, in general, I need to pull my scrambled brains back into the shell and see if I can't make that chicken come out right. Unfortunately, at the moment? I'm tired. I've been writing up a storm on Rampant, I gave a library talk on Monday (two people, Mate, and the librarian. Alas, the sound on the recording was weak, or I'd share,) the little kids have been out in the kiddie pool and they're overtired and driving me crazy, the big kids have a bajillion things to talk to us about and the students are particularly squirrelly this time of year--in short, I'm bushed.

But I did finish a couple of pairs of socks during training--and one of them was this design.

The title of the pattern is, appropriately enough, Lady Cory's Punk Goth Brocade. They have beads in the cuffs and a slipped knit stitch through the back of the reverse stockinet that looks like a line on the back of a stocking. The vertical motif is called King Charles Brocade--Samurai told me that this was the motif that the monarch himself wore on his nightgown as the poor clueless bastard was being executed. She also told me it was at some insane gauge per inch, like nine or ten inches, in silk, but, uhm, I don't think so. I've said before that Cory's colors were sunset, azure, and Adrian purple--I couldn't find those colors to my satisfaction, but I think this sort of pewter-tarnished-teal would appeal to my little sorceress. It only looks like a dirty color--in the sunlight, it's lovely and true.

I'll even print the pattern for ya, and I've rediscovered my Ravelry--sometime this weekend, I may actually get all my patterns up there!

I used fingering weight yarn (malabrigo/nylon--mmmmmm....) and I think they're sized ten beads--they're the ones that thread fairly easily on fingering weight yarn! I actually knit the beads in differently on the photo (you can't tell) than I put down in the pattern. The pattern placement is a LOT easier to do--when I sent this pattern as my roulette sock, (which means I've done it twice!) I did it the way it's printed on the pattern, and I like it ever better. I also used the magic loop method--it worked just fine.

Pre-string 21 beads

Cast on 63 stitches

SKPO—slip 1, knit one, pass slipped stitch over
B1—k1 and slide a bead into the stitch (when you p1 over the bead in the next round, use the purl bump to lock the bead in place)
S1K2togPSSO—slip one stitch, knit next two stitches together, pass slipped stitch over the two knit together

Divide stitches so that 31 are on first side (front) and 32 are on the second side (back). Whether you use magic loop or dpns, keep this division of front and back.

Round 1: ( p2, k7) around
Round 2: (p2, k2tog, k1, YO, k1, YO, k1 SKPO) around
Round 3: (p2, k7) around
Round 4: (p2, k2tog, YO, k3, YO, SKPO) around
Round 5: (p2, k3 b1 k3) around
Round 6: (p2, k1, YO, SKPO, p1, k2tog, YO, k1) around
Round 7: (p2, k7) around
Round 8: (p2, k2, YO, S1K2togPSSO) around
Round 9: (p2, k7) around

Repeat rounds 2-9 TWO more times

Work the FRONT of the sock as follows while you’re working the BACK of the sock as it says later (this is the same motif pattern from above, without the beads and without the purl bump to lock them in place):

Round 1: (p2, k2tog, k1, YO, k1, YO, k1 SKPO) around
Round 2: (p2, k7) around
Round 3: (p2, k2tog, YO, k3, YO, SKPO) around
Round 4: (p2, k7) around
Round 5: (p2, k1, YO, SKPO, k1, k2tog, YO, k1) around
Round 6: (p2, k7) around
Round 7: (p2, k2, YO, S1K2togPSSO) around
Round 8: (p2, k7) around

Repeat the motif round for a TOTAL of seven diamond motifs before working the heel on the back.

Work the BACK of the sock as follows while you’re working the FRONT of the sock as shown above:

Round 1: p16, M1, p16
Round 2: p16, S1, p16
Round 3: p16, K1, p16

Repeat rounds 2 & 3 until ready to work heel.

Leaving the first and last stitch on the side UNWORKED (because, remember, we’ve got two extra stitches on this side) work the short row heel IN PATTERN (i.e. in reverse stockinet stitch with a slipped knit stitch in the middle)

Change to plain stockinet when it’s time to pick up stitches in the short-row heel process.

When heel is finished, resume sock, continuing the motif pattern on the front and working in stockinet in the back.

Work foot of sock for 8 ½ motifs, finishing motif after round 4 of pattern.

*Knit all the stitches at front of sock
Knit the bottom of the sock until three stitches before the end, k2tog, k1
Knit 1 stitch on the top of the sock, ssk, knit until three stitches before the end of the front, k2tog, k1
Knit 1 stitch on the bottom, ssk, knit until the end*

Repeat * * until there are 18 stitches left on the top (instep) and 16 left on the bottom, then work the next decrease round as follows:

K1, ssk twice, k8, k2tog twice, k1
Kn ssk knit until end of bottom
Knit top of the sock plain

When there are 8 stitches left on each side of the toe, break yarn and graft toe.

And with any luck, the pattern will leave you THIS happy:

Or at least this handsome:

Monday, May 18, 2009

Yikes! My apologies to Ilona Andrews

Sory darlin' --you're absolutely right. Kate Daniels really hasn't garnered that spot under the Gothic Heroic archetype yet--she's still an American Romantic. And, of course, the 'having sex' thing is an oversimplification--what the sexual relationship represents (in this case) is the door to complete personhood that allows a hero/heroine to fall. Until women got their all-access pass into human vice, they really weren't able to compete in the grand and important 'human-of-noble-weight' virtue department. Just because the American Romantic archetypes haven't fallen doesn't mean they don't weigh in--but having a wider variety of behavioral options really does seem to give some characters a carte blanch to turn their lives (and the lives of others) into a great and tasty F.U.B.A.R. salad.

So Kate Daniels isn't Gothic--but even if she was, it wouldn't be a bad thing.

And as for love? Well, it matters (trust me--if you've read my stuff you know I believe that's the truth!) But the yardstick I'm using was written by men, for men--love doesn't factor into this particular assessment strategy. That's not to say I don't think it should, or that the assessment isn't outdated-- but the archetypes are male archetypes (even the ones I used to identify the women are male driven models). Masculine models tend to discount love in favor of power. So sex becomes an instrument of power and not of love. Of course, that's in archetype land--not in the land I know and write about, and obviously not in your beautifully constructed world either. I'm only talking one facet of literature here--not the whole caboodle, and not the facet I prefer to write to. But it's always important to see where a literature fits in the old standards--it's one sure way to know if you're setting those old canons on their ear. It also gives the pnr/ucf genres some legitimacy-and I love these genres and I would DEARLY love to see them achieve the same respect as traditional science fiction, fantasy, or romance--taking a look at how they work within traditional formats helps that to happen.

So sorry, Ms. Andrews--I didn't mean to offend!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Archetypes Part 3: From Celtic Princess to Punk Goth Chick in one grunting thrust

First of all-- Tinkingbells? You're absolutely right--I don't know how I could have missed out on Vamps, because they're important--but it has always felt (to me, and the circle of stuff I end up reading) that the woman who gets all of the penis she can handle is usually using her happily gathered empirical knowledge to whack that puppy off with efficiency and style. If I was doing this for any sort of academic organization AT ALL, I would go back to the drawing board and research me some slutty penis lovin' trollops--and I will probably still do that, but not now. I've got somewhere I'm going with this, alas, and that's not just a little country side road, that's an (aherm) well traveled highway, with lots of important phallic shaped landmarks, so we'll have to make the sluttey penis lovin' trollop a whole other vacation stop, yeah?

That being said, it's funny that you all should have mentioned Celtic heroes and Sanna in your comments, because, oddly enough, I was wandering in that direction myself.

It's funny--when I first started this little archetype exploration, I thought I was going to be writing about women--but it turns out, I'm spending a lot of time writing about the Holy Penis, and, sadly, this bit is going to be no exception. It turns out, as I was trying to name women who fit the American Romantic heroic archetype and trying to figure out what made them so different from the women who fit the Gothic archetype, what it all came down to was, in fact, that little bit of inflatable gristle that gets so much of our attention, scorn, and fascination--bear with me on this, I've got back up.

First of all, traditional fantasy and Celtic heroines tend to live in American Romantic Hero-land--no shittin' around.

I was falling asleep last night (around 2:00 am, for anyone who wonders how tired I'm going to be this week) and trying to wrap my brain around heroines who were American Romantic Heroines but who WEREN'T Gothic heroines, and it's harder to do than it sounds. See, the American Romantic Hero is what America was doing with it's literary archetype around the same time Britain was doing the Gothic archetype--and the thing that defines them both is that they both work outside of societal norms. The American Romantic hero is independent of what all of the big city, big brained, big-book learning eggheads deem "proper heroic behavior"--they color outside the lines. John MacClane, Dean Winchester, Natty Bumpo--we've covered this already--these guys are known for their independence in order to answer a higher moral code, and, as we talked about with the Gothic heroes, that 'rising above society's rules for the greater good of mankind' is what leads a hero to fall.

Well, the thing that seems to make our heroines fall seems to be coming down to is the fact that it gives our American Romantic heroine easy access to (you guessed it) the penis.

Brigid, the Celtic warrior heroine fits into the ARH archetype, and so does Lloyd Alexander's incomparable Eilonwy, Patricia McKillip's female characters, Tamora Pierce's heroines, Paksenarion (yup, Needletart, I've read those and loved them!) and our very own Sanna, beloved child of Roxie's clever, innovative, silk-wool-spun mind. All of these women measure up--they work outside of societal boundaries to answer a higher moral sensibility, they are all determined to make their own individual worth richer for their varied experiences, and they are all young or young at heart--and they are all, to some extent, isolated by age, experience, or simply writing style, from the penis. It's not that these girls are flat characters, or that no one hits on them (Sanna gets her share) or even that they're all virgins (we know what Eilonwy was doing when she went through that doorway with Taran, oh yes we do!) it's that the nature of the conflicts they deal with makes the sexual relationship secondary to their other three major relationships--filial, platonic, and divine. (And, oh shit, this is a whole other essay, but, thank Triane, one I've written already so if you're interested, let me know and I'll post it.) Anyway, it seems that in the balancing of the personal and heroic agenda, the romantic relationship--while important, is equally balanced and completely separate from the heroic agenda and never the twain shall meet. (Notice--this is the same dilemma of the American Romantic Hero, both past and present). The heroine's power as a mover and shaker of big things in the world has no relationship to her power as a woman--she is simply a woman who works outside of society's strictures ABOUT women, in order to achieve her objective, the end.

Her more modern counterpart does not seem to have that sort of simplicity as an option.

The Urban Contemporary Fantasy Heroine has a higher agenda, works outside of societal norms, uses spitloads of yankee ingenuity, values individual experience over fancy booklearning, and, unlike her traditional fantasy counterpart, has up-close, public and personal knowledge of the penis.

Emma Bull's Eddie, Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake, Charlaine Harris' Sookie, Lilith Saintcrow's Danny Valentine, Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels, Jeaniene Frost's Cat, Carrie Vaughn's Kitty, my own Lady Cory--all of these heroines start out as American Romantic Heroines with that all important fantasy/magic gender equalizer, and then an interesting thing happens.

They have sex and turn into Gothic heroines.

It sounds like an oversimplification, but being a Gothic heroine is not simply a matter of consorting with vampires or wearing black make-up and multiple piercings. The Gothic heroine needs to rise about humanity in some way so that her natural human flaw will send her life spiraling out of control. To a one, all of these women fit the bill--and to a one, the romantic relationship/s (many of them have multiple lovers-on-a-leash) act as a catalyst to bigger-than-human behavior. The combination of their special skill set AND their empowerment as women works to put them in a position high enough, with enough societal heft, that when they fuck up, the entire world shouts "Dammit, Bitch, KISS US FIRST!".

Now I can hear a lot of you out there fuming. That's not FAIR! Shouldn't a woman be able to rule the world and get laid and not have to worry about opening up a pit of hell or decimating an entire indigenous species or starting open warfare between vampires, shapeshifters, and elves? My answer is, "Well, the men can't do it--why should we?"

It's true--in real life, some of our best leaders have the most fucked-up relationships (Bill Clinton, anyone?) and some of our worst leaders can air their dirty laundry in public precisely because their are no stains on the sheets. (The Ex-President who shall not be named comes to mind.) I once did an entire twenty page paper for a Master's class on why Hamlet's entire damage was caused by his increasingly disastrous attempts to put his personal damage and his political agenda in a blender and get something palatable by man or archetype--why should women be any different? Just because we (or our heroines) don't have a penis doesn't make it anymore acceptable to put a collar on a bunch of them and take them for a walk like little fluffy dogs--the Gothic heroine who takes that personal female empowerment (which often goes stellar on the magic scale) and uses it as a tool to rule the world is doing exactly that. If Sookie uses her mind-reading ability to judge a lover before exploring his motives and good points, well, she deserves to be betrayed. (And she was.) If Kitty uses her radio talk show to instigate a war, well, she's going to lose her best friend and have to deal with that failing. (And she does.) If Anita can't keep track of who she's boinking and whose power she usurping, well, she deserves to get boinked by strangers and attacked in the parking lot (and I personally just wish she'd stop whining about it!) and if Cory Kirkpatrick uses her sexually-powered-emotional-fusion-ray-gun to wipe out all of the vampires in Folsom--well, she's going to spend four books in the series trying to redeem that Gothic fall from grace.

It seems the uneasy mix of personal empowerment and political power gives our UCF women the same benefits and weaknesses it's been giving Batman, Frankenstein, Childe Harold and Roderick Usher for going on two centuries: the ability to fuck up so badly, the LIGHT from the planet F'ucKe-DuP takes a million light years to penetrate the miasma of guilt and misery the Gothic Heroes have been cloaking themselves with in sheer self-defense.

Congratulations, girls--we've reached true literary archetype equality.

(This is the never ending essay. Sometime next week, I want to get to the shit Julie and I talked about and the Mary Sue type, but I'm burnt and fried and have earned myself some time in front of the television watching whatever the fuck I want and either knitting or cuddling. And then I get to clean the kitchen. Suffice it to say I'll never be a Gothic heroine because I am perfectly aware of my inability not only to not "do it all", but I remain unconvinced of my ability to even get close to half of it. Keep the comments coming, guys--you're totally inspiring me to do my best and I love you all!)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Archetypes Part 2: Virgins, Vixens and Victims

Okay-- a couple of things before I start.

Thing the first: I'd like to thank Samurai for asking awesome questions and generally talking this shit over with me. Thanks to her, there will probably be a part four to this little shindig. Blame her.

Thing the second: I saw a lovely grandmotherly sort of woman dancing on the street corner with a sign--except in stead of 'Eat at Joe's' or 'Apartment for Rent', this one was homemade and said "Yard Sale"-- she was awesome, props out to ya sweetheart.

Thing the third: I knit during my entire training. At first it freaked the trainer out--I got the hairy eyeball for about a half an hour... then she saw that I was paying attention and participating, and she let me alone. By Day Three, she hardly noticed me. By Day four, she was congratulating me on Lady Cory's Punk Goth Brocade--which is finally finished.

All that being said, and bypassing the really boring domestic stuff that I can't remember now because my brain is fried, on to the three V's!

You see, the thing is, I've never taken any feminist literature classes or even any women's studies. My own gender has uniformly bored me in fiction, unless she was the heroine of a romance novel because, let's face it, some of that is wish fulfillment and I've always been a big fan of the girl who got the hot guy. But thinking back on the reading I HAVE done--Tale of Two Cities, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Beauty (by Robin McKinley), The War of the Oaks (Emma Bull), and a zillion and one serial romances that I read just to clear the crap out of my brain cells, I have come to a few conclusions.

First conclusion--until contemporary literature, women have never been written to fulfill the classical archetypes. They haven't. Women don't get to cross geographical boundaries, are ALWAYS expected to fulfill the domestic personal agenda, and, most importantly, they ALWAYS had less weight in society than the men. They just didn't get to do hero shit--at least not in Western culture. Now that doesn't mean that some great female parts haven't been written--it just means that her archetypes have been different.

Now I'm sure someone has come up with this before--I can't possibly be the first person to come to this conclusion, but, like I said, this wasn't my area of expertise in school--I always wanted to be the guy with the sword, not the damsel in distress.

The way I figure it, for a while, there were three basic female heroic archetypes out there: Virgins, Vixens, and Victims, and, superficially at least, we can figure out which one of these a heroine is in relationship to the penis.

You heard that right--think about it:

There's the Virgin: O-my-God-I've-never-seen-one-of-those-before! But you have one, so you must be stronger, more powerful and more capable than I am, and therefore I shall dedicate my life to serving you and your big piece of manly equipment, because I may not have seen one before now, but I get that it's pretty awesome. Of course, a woman can't be a virgin forever--not if her hero is worth his salt, but there are plenty of Virgins out there who have had sex AND children--it's all in the attitude. Juliet had certainly seen Romeo's penis by the end of R & J, but that didn't stop her from killing herself when he was dead because she thought that was the best one she'd ever get to see. I mean, why take Romeo's side after the death of Tybalt, if it wasn't because Tybalt had a penis she wouldn't get to see, and Romeo's was due to make an appearance that very night? Viola? A Virgin. Jane Eyre? A Virgin--although, in Jane's defense, she did reject St. John because she didn't want to be one of those forever. But, she also ditched all her higher priorities to go serve Rochester in his blindness--mostly, I assume, because even though he was blind, he did have a penis that he knew how to use. Hell--Victor Frankenstein's Elizabeth got killed before she even got to SEE the penis--she was the uber-virgin, and brother didn't he milk THAT to death!

In modern literature, if you want to see a Virgin, well... open any Harlequin, Silhouette, Danielle Steele, etc. etc. etc. romance from the 1880-1980. I don't care if she's a porn star, the heroine is still attached to the hero because for some reason, his particular penis does things for her that she's never experienced before. (*snark* Of course in PNR/UCF, which we'll get to in a moment, said member often has design features that make this the literal truth. But more about that later.)

Which brings us to the Vixen.

Now, while the Virgin has never seen one of those before, the Vixen has seen plenty--or, well, at least one. The difference between the Virgin and the Vixen is all attitude. While the Virgin wants to worship it for what it might do to/for her, the Vixen just wants to cut that fucker off. (Mate wanted me to add that she usually wants to USE it before she cuts it off. Mate, of course, is right about this, as he is about so many things. Thanks Mate!)

Lady MacBeth? She pretty much grabbed her husband's pubes in one hand, his testicles in the other, and old Roddy himself between her teeth and then gave a big fat yank and told him, "If you want them back you big baby, you'd damned well better do what I say!" Catherine and Heathcliffe frolicked on the moors, then she ran off to marry a spineless weenie, and then she came back to emasculate Heathcliffe as a ghost and a memory. That bitch had her hands on his marriage tackle even from death--and even when she refused to marry the big misanthropic bastard. (I guess he wasn't actually a catch, but the least she could have done was let him go, you know?) Even Jane Austen's Emma had to let Mr. Knightly carry the marriage tackle with some dignity before she was allowed to win his hand (okay, that's actually good advice for most women--guys don't look good with boobs, we're not really supposed to have swinging balls--we should respect this as basic human nature--that's my two cents, for what it's worth.)

In modern literature, Vixens are the mistresses, the ex-wives, and the ball-busting bosses--pretty much across the board Anybody remember that 'Cake' song? "I want a girl in a short skirt and a LLLOOOOONNNNGGG jacket.". Of course, many Vixens are very sympathetic--just as many Virgins are ice queens who need a trip through a glass-blower's forge before you want them in your bed--but I never said that Virgins were the 'heroes' and Vixens were the 'villains'--that's the thing. The girls just don't get the major heroic appellations: Heroes have societal heft--very often, the villain's motivation in the story is the QUEST for societal heft--that's why Morgaine La Fay (or Morgause, depending on your version) can be a villain, but Guenivere ain't ever going to be a hero--until women got some social equality, the classical heroic archetypes aren't equipped to hold water.

Which, of course, gets us to 'the Victim', who may have seen the penis, may have even LIKED the penis--but some problem from her past, some glitch in her present, some quirk of her character, insists that she's not WORTHY of the penis. She's the girl who has made 'powerlessness' her superpower.

Guenivere can't make King Arthur stay home? Poor baby... she'll just accidentally fall on Launcelot's penis and instigate a war. We just feel so baaaaaad for her--it's not her fault, poor thing. She's just such a brave little victim, isn't she? Elizabeth Bennett doesn't have enough money? She'll make up for it in wit and chutzpah--but she's still not going to defeat the big, bad, Catherine de Bourgh unless she marries the guy with the penis as a big finger in the face of society! Lucy Manette loves her penis (okay, her HUSBAND'S penis) enough to go to dangerous France for him in the middle of a revolution? Well, by all means, let's sic a homicidal Vixen on her ass with a knitting needle sharpened to a high gloss, because a Victim can never be stalked by enough dangerous predators, who smell blood, helplessness, and a stiff, brave upper lip!

You want modern day Victims? Julie Garwood? Amanda Quick? Sharon Sala? Modern romantic writers have made a living writing about the girl who is not worthy of the penis because her resourcefulness has enabled her to provide for herself. She's physically able--heck, a lot of times she's exceptionally kick-ass--but she's so mentally damaged, she denies herself the penis until the very end. She's just not WORTHY of love--she has to prove herself again and again and again. Even Katherine Hepburn in Philadelphia Story--one of the most 'heroic' heroines in early film, given the fact that she really DOES carry weight in society--gets her happy ending because she finally allows herself to be vulnerable to Jimmy Stewart--and Cary Grant gets to use this to prove to her that she's not REALLY a Vixen, she's just a Victim to her own fears about men.

Now don't get me wrong--I'm being a snarky bitch, but I love all of these characters--ESPECIALLY the modern ones. Because the thing about the Victim is that she's usually VERY brave--very often, she's admirable, smart, resourceful, and fully developed as a character--but until recently, it has usually been her vulnerability that attracts the men, very often 'in spite' of the strength that makes us appreciate the girl in the first place.

But it's the 'until recently' that I want to get into now, because the heroine had improved so much in the last twenty-five years that she's hardly recognizable as a big V anymore.

You want proof? Take a look at The Princess Bride. Now, we all love Princess Buttercup--but look at what she actually DOES in the course of the movie:

A. She gives up on life completely after Wesley dies.
B. She stands by helplessly in the fire-swamp when Wesley was being attacked. (For Christ's sake, pick up a fucking piece of driftwood and club that fucker on the head!)
C. She abandons Wesley and doesn't try to find him.
D. She decides to stand up to the evil Prince Humperdink by COMMITTING SUICIDE? (Bad Prince--now you have to clean up the mess--that'll learn ya!)

Now let's look at... well, Anita Blake, Sookie Stackhouse, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Captain Janeway, the females aboard the Serenity (ESPECIALLY Zoe, the second in command), the Witches from Charmed, Princess Arwen in the film (NOT in the book), Melinda Gordon the Ghost Whisperer, Eve Dallas and so on and so on and so on.

The first thing we notice about all these women?

They're all science fiction/fantasy characters. Part of that is because sci/fi is my glitch--it just is. But I was sitting here, racking my brains trying to find another show in which a female character has enough societal weight to have to make balancing the personal and the heroic agendas a real conflict, and the the only non-sci-fi heroine I came up with was Cherry Jones' president in this season of 24. However, since I've been calling Jack Bauer a Gothic Super Hero for the last three seasons, I'm not sure if she even counts as a non-sci-fi character at all. I think there's a couple of reasons for this--the most notable one being that sci-fi/fantasy characters get the option of having some sort of magic equalizing power to make up for the differences in sheer stinking physical prowess that give the combat edge to men without a lot of training on the part of the women. (Hullo Eve Dallas and Xena Warrior Princes, who both work out like madwomen and are constantly training at arms.)

The thing about these characters is that their efforts to make the world a better place GET GREATER OR EQUAL BILLING with their efforts to engage in active, meaningful relationships with the penis. This makes them TRUE romantic heroines (Janeway might even qualify as an epic heroine, with the exception of one memorable episode featuring mmmmm... Chakotay!) by definition the men have been living up to for a couple of hundred years. What it DOESN'T make them is American Romantic heroines--because something really weird happens to a girl who lives so far beyond societies rules that she's making up her own little world.

She goes Gothic.

And that's where I'm going to have to leave it for now--I gotta date with two teenagers at Wal-Mart--see you if I survive.

Edited to Add: Don't worry, Sanna fans--I'm going into the American Romantic Heroine (there is such a thing) and why she usually swings darkside tomorrow!)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ooops... not today, the OTHER tomorrow!

Busy busy today--will finish up with archetypes tomorrow! But in the meantime, I thought I'd share this with you:

We heard a ruckus from our bedroom last night, where the little kids were watching tube. Mate went back to see what it was and when he returned, this is what he reported:

Spaznado boy was laying on the bed, covering his ears, and Ladybug was standing on the end of it, screeching at him like a rabid harpy. As soon as Daddy showed up in the doorway, her shoulders slumped, her lower lip stuck out, and her big blue eyes filled with crocodile tears. "Daaaaadddddyyyyy!!!!" she wailed, "He was MEAN to meeeeeee!!!!"

Heh heh heh.

Little shit.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Homework: Archetypes Part I

Okay--I signed on to do this. I have to keep telling myself that--I volunteered. In fact, I was thrilled--I still am. I get to stand up and talk to an audience of one about something it's taken me hard years to learn about, and something that actually uses my English degree to the max. (My pedagogical degree is a total loss--I'm having philosophical differences with California at the moment.)

So I signed on to talk about archetypes and urban contemporary fantasy, and by golly, I'm gonna do just that.

But first, I'm going to bore all of you with it, to make sure I'm not a complete babbling mess. Before I start, I'll tell you that most of my sources are the anthologies I use to teach the kids, but if Curmudgeonly Colleague is paying any attention, he'll be able to tell you right quick that a lot of this is my own reasoning. Are there papers out there or professors who have already reasoned through this and published large? Morenlikely. Have I read any of them? Nope. This is all the product of my fevered brain, right? Feel free to ignore at will. I'll also tell you, I may have repeated parts of this at various times--I've got three years of blog archives back there, and this is one of my favorite subjects--so, again, if I bore you to tears, well, be kind.


A literary archetype is a mold--it's like God made certain types of humans--same mold, different accessories, and man, following Her footsteps (gotcha!) created certain heroic molds--forms, shapes, etc. The clever writer hangs different accessories on the mold, makes the archetype into a character, and the REALLY clever writer makes the character into a human being--but it was created from the mold, after all.

Now British and American literary archetypes tend to develop along the lines as the British and American civilizations. As I tell the kids all the time, if you're living back on the cliffs of Dover in 700 A.D., looking out at a vast, unlit sky and an obsidian ocean, who's your hero? Your hero is the big fucking sword between you and the barbarian hordes looking to kill you, steal your land, and rape your women. Consequently, your Epic Hero--your Beowulf, for example--he really didn't need a whole lot of civilized characteristics, did he? Beowulf didn't need no stinking love life, he didn't need a whole lot of personality--all he really needed to be was the strongest guy with the biggest sword who promised not to murder his brother or eat his fellow humans. Compared to the bad guys, Beowulf was the pinnacle of gentility--we didn't need to know if he scratched his balls in public or ate his meat with the same hand he used to pick his nose--he had a big fucking sword and he was willing to use it on the guy who threatened to eat you. Hero! Buddy! Rock-the-fuck-ON!

Now Beowulf's counterpart in the modern world would be Superman. Notice Superman never really hooked up with Lois Lane? A woman was too complicated for the Epic Hero. According to one of my anthologies, an epic hero had the following characteristics: crossed geographical boundaries, worked for a higher purpose, fought for a universal truth, had some sort of divine help, had some weight in the world (the anthology says 'of noble birth'--the point was, he wasn't the third peasant living under the pig-pen), and he gave long-assed formal speeches. Superman DOES all that--I mean hell, he can fly, right? He crosses boundaries, he's always working for truth, justice, and the American way, he's got that sci-fi strength thing, what he does is important--with the exception of that last requirement. (Okay--that last one? That doesn't really carry too much weight in the modern world, but it does explain why Superman always sounds like he's got a stick up his ass, doesn't it?)

Now imagine that British civilization gets a little more set, Edward the Confessor comes in after a few hundred years of civilized warfare and guys in tank suits, and he brings his wife who likes the pretty French stories of King Arthur. King Arthur hits Great Britain HUGE, except Artie, he's not a hero like Beowulf. Artie's got personal problems--in fact, he lets his personal problems get in the way of his job, and the peasants? They'd rather watch King Artie deal with his baggage than worry about the fact that their pigs have to come in for the winter or they'll starve come the spring, so they're right on board. Artie, Lancelot, Merlin, Gawain--they become the first Romantic Heroic Archetypes. This is our favorite archetype to put on the movie screen--he's the guy who wants to save the world AND save the girl, and we WANT him to be able to juggle both those agendas. Spiderman is the perfect example of the Romantic archetype-- remember that scene where the Goblin tells him he can save the girl or the car full of kids? And Spidey gets them both? YAHTZEE!

Of course, the Romantic Archetype is a lot more human than the Epic archetype--and humans fuck up, as Epic heroes don't. They fuck up bad enough, and they get themselves, or the people they love, or a group of complete strangers killed--or, like MacBeth, they kill these people themselves, which is even worse. Because the same rules still apply--noble birth, a little bit of God mojo, strength, intelligence, knowledge of right and wrong--and a big honkin' flaw in their make-up that is eventually going to destroy them, and that they can see coming. And since their heroic flaw fucks up the universe the hero lives in, he also gets to set the universe right with his death--although I'm not sure that's a whole hell of a lot of comfort. This, ladies and gentleman (there's one out there. Maybe two.) is the Tragic Heroic archetype--hel-lo Elizabethan theatre, hel-lo Incredible Hulk. Take a look at Hamlet--he's a prince--and a lot is made of how handsome, witty, bright and shiny he is as a prince, but he gets into a black funk of vengeance, and this melancholy paralyzes all his action, and even though he knows that no action may possibly be worse than action at all, he still can't make himself kill his uncle in cold blood. HE SEES IT COMING--and can't do a fucking thing to stop it. Of course, I'm not sure he deserved to see the stage littered with bodies, but he kept his very good buddy from falling on his sword at the end to tell his story and restore his name, and the final requirement of the tragic hero was fulfilled. Universe better, Hamlet Dead. Go team.

The Hulk fulfills the same requirements (except that last one--he never dies, because, well, it's Marvel, and you know, dead guys don't sell a lot of comic books). David Banner's original problem was that he was too weak to save his family, and then he was too weak to forgive himself and then he gave himself the serum, and his temper became his tragic flaw. Too weak to control his strengths--that there is a heroic flaw even Shakespeare could have embraced. He's smart, has heft (notice it's DOCTOR David Bruce Banner) a little preternatural God mojo, and a big honking flaw. However he dies, you can bet when he goes, the universe will be made right when it happens--I'd put money on it.

But what if the Romantic hero HAS no flaws--what if he's constantly trying to rise above the petty human problems of pride and weakness and romantic attachments and he's all about the greater good and he never allows himself to be humans and...

Well, that's a whole other flaw, isn't it? And here you get your Gothic hero--your Frankenstein, your Batman, your bad guy on Serenity, your Sam Winchester (we'll get back to him when the show ends, or after tomorrow night's season finale, which, by the way, threatens to RIP MY FUCKING HEART OUT, but that's another post) but anyway, you get the picture. The Gothic hero is the uber-romantic hero. The guy who has human needs but refuses to acknowledge them, whose flaw is that he tries to have no flaw and thus, rises so far above the rest of humanity that when he has his fall (oh yeah, he always falls) he not only shatters the pavement, he punches a hole through the crust of the earth and drags assorted buildings and civilians in after him. Victor Frankenstein rose above humanity, created the creature, bailed on the creature, and fucked us all. Batman forsook his humanity in patrolling Gotham--and he's the only shmuck who could have created the Joker. The bad guy on Serenity forsook his humanity for the Alliance because he thought his bosses would build a better world, and then realized the Alliance had fucked up the world they built and used him to sweep it under the rug. Even poor, doomed Sam started drinking demon blood in order to be a more effective demon killer--he didn't even realize he was turning into what he hunted. One of the major differences between the Gothic hero and the tragic hero is that death doesn't seem to be a requirement of redemption--Faust and some versions of Batman have a chance to redeem their fuck-ups. Frankenstein DID, but he was too fucking stupid. The guy from Serenity actually DOES, but he has to abandon all of the trappings of who he was in order to do do it. The Gothic hero rises above us, falls beneath us, and maybe gets a chance to atone for his foul-ups... but that last one doesn't seem to be a requirement of the beast.

So these are your British Heroic Archetypes (excluding the Satiric hero--a whole other post, thank you very much) and they're fine and dandy--but they spawned a buddy who is worth mentioning.

The American Heroic archetype came along in America about the time Great Britain was fermenting Frankenstein. Whereas the Gothic archetype was the dark side of individuality gone haywire, the American Heroic archetype was America's individual finger in the face of British cynicism (or, at least that's probably how the American transcendentalists thought of him. They were bright people, but not short on sanctimony, oh, no, not in the least. The American Romantic Hero has some specific traits too--a sort of academic checklist, some of it borrowed from the mama country, but some of it uniquely ours. The ARH needs to be young--or young at heart, which means Bruce Willis in Die Hard 4 counts. He needs to have a distrust of 'fancy book learnin', some serious independence and ingenuity, and he needs to work outside of societal laws--which he can do, because he's going for a higher purpose. He's innocent instead of sophisticated, willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good, and trusts his own inner experience as opposed to what other people tell him to do. He's also supposed to be a total loss with women, but since the rest of this sounds so much like Dean Winchester it's almost like Kripke had the same anthology I did, I'm going to take a wild guess and pull that requirement into the 21st century and say he's just not great with relationships and leave it with that. I would imagine the Flash would be your American Heroic Archetype--but really, most of your comic book characters stick to the big British Four--mostly, I would guess, because if your AHA gets too angsty, he becomes Batman, and that puts him in the Gothic category and he's got a whole other set of problems, right?

Now, I've got a reason for rehashing all this shit--I really do, and it's not to agonize over tomorrow's season finale (Dean? Sam? You MUST spend Season five together or I can't hardly stand to watch... just sayin'...) The deal is, the urban contemporary fantasy HEROINE hasn't really been defined in terms of these tried and true archetypes, and, just for shits and giggles, I wanted to figure out where she stood.

And tomorrow, that's EXACTLY what I'm going to do.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Surprisingly Good Gift

Okay--so, on the surface, Mate blew off Mother's Day. No flowers, no candy, no gift bags from the kids. The little ones brought me cards on Friday, Chicken baked a cake, and we planned to go out to eat (which we rarely do anymore) and, well, that was it. He felt bad--I got to sleep in til ten which was cool, and he cleaned out my car (a HUGE deal--it was revolting, trust me) and well I was going to call it good.

And then a curious thing happened.

You see, in many relationships there is the flake/fuck-up, and the sane normal person who puts up with the flake/fuck-up for the laughs.

I AM that flake/fuck-up. If something is going to be broken, that's me. If someone's going to forget a bill--hello! Right here! If someone's going to forget the kid's at the sitters and get halfway home before she has to turn around and get said child... uhm, you guessed it. The flake/fuck-up, lock the keys in the house/lose the work keys/wreck the car for no particular reason/loose wing-nut member of the relationship, desperately grateful for her beloved wrench to screw her back in place. (Uhm... that wasn't wasn't supposed to come out dirty... but, if that's the way you want to take it? Fine.)

Anyway, to prove this, we were getting in the car, and I had a flash: After lunch we were going to go get flowers to drop off at Mate's mom's and my mom's and there is NO radio reception by his mom's, so I wanted my iPod, right? Makes sense to me, made sense to Mate. So I get to the porch, say, "Mate, keys!" And Mate throws the keys in a fine arc, over the car...

And on top of the roof.

No shit. You know the phrase "laughing my ass off?" I. WISH. Anyway, while I took MY keys out of the running car (it was in the nineties--if the kids were stuck in the car we were going to leave the a/c on) Mate got the ladder and the rake out to take care of business.

I watched him use the rake to get the keys off the roof, then hold the rake over the driveway and drop the keys and then pick up the ladder and the rake and get in the car.

Did you notice he missed a step?

He didn't--not until we got the the restaurant and went, "Oh fuck. I forgot my keys." And sure enough, he says they were waiting in the driveway, where he left them--we sat at the table and ate an appetizer while he went back. So. that behind us, we went on to the grocery store for flowers. We took the little kids inside and left the big kids in the car--Mate thoughtfully left the fan on when we did that, and I thought, "Well, if Mate doesn't think that's going to run down the battery, he probably knows."

Last words anybody?

We had to call my brother for a jump start--which made ME feel bad. My brother's birthday was the day before yesterday--I didn't forget, truthfully, but I didn't call. Honestly, Toad's address is always so transient that while I remember him on his birthday, I don't always have an address to call him--he's actually staying at my parents right now, who were the people we were TRYING to get a hold of.

It was all good--I wished him happy birthday, gave him my mom's flowers and had him bring them home so they'd be there when she got home from work. But the damage to Mate's state of mind? Horrendous. He'd gotten into that "I'm doomed" frame of mind--which isn't a lot of fun when you're driving on a curvy road, trust me.

We visited his mom (nice lady), said hi to his grandma (also nice lady) and came home intact, in spite of the fact that he took a couple of curves fast enough to make all occupants but Mate blow chunks (which we didn't. *whew*) But Mate's funk pervaded--he wasn't sure what happened to his mojo, but he was pretty sure he got hit by the karma train for blowing off Mother's day.

It wasn't until we were falling asleep that I started to giggle.

"What?" he asked grumpily.

"I figured out what your Mother's Day gift was!"

"What's that?"

"You got to be ME for a day!" And with that I burst into giggles and Mate started to laugh.

"You know what?" I asked.


"Best. Gift. EVER!"

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Bless me Father, I ate a lizard.

For anyone who's ever read A Canticle For Liebowicz, that line right there is high comedy--and, pretty much, that's all I've got for you.

I've been in training for the last two days. The thing about working part time is that everyone assumes "It must be nice to get off early," without really getting the fact that you're not getting off early, you're reporting to duty for your other job. So when my administrator asked me 'ever so nicely' if I could please please pretty please show up for five days (non-consecutive!) for the full day of training, I tried to explain that this would completely fuck up everybody's life to the extreme--but I don't think I quite got the message through.

In order for me to stay at work until 2:30, the following has to happen:

Mate has to drive from Folsom to Citrus Heights to pick up Cave Troll, and then drop him off in Natomas. And then go back to Folsom. This adds up to about 40 miles of driving, much of it city driving, on Mate's lunch hour.

After I pick the kids up from the babysitter (who we now have to pay extra which I'm not making) I have to haul them NOT home, but to the Fair Oaks Library (this is one suburb over from home) in order to pick up Chicken. This effectively turns the half-an-hour trip home into an hour of driving for the little kids, which sort of sucks--especially since Cave Troll already made a similar trip only three hours earlier.

"Thank you, Amy! That's wonderful that you were able to do that!"

"Don't thank me, thank Mate, Ladybug, Chicken and the Cave Troll. They really are the ones suffering here, right?"

I feel bad because yes, that's pretty darned ungracious of me, but after I got Chicken home yesterday and effectively passed out in front of the television (because I stay up later working part time than I would working full time) and THEN took Chicken to a party and THEN dropped Mate off at the movies so he could save the line for Star Trek and THEN picked Chicken up from her party and THEN actually GOT to the movies...

Well, I was cooked and done. After four hours of sleep, I was still cooked and done, to the effect that, as I was bringing the short people from gymnastics this morning I truly had no predictive ability for the suicidal squirrel that decided to throw himself in front of my car as I hit our residential neighborhood.

It's true--I did try to dodge the little fucker, but as I looked in my rearview mirror and saw his tail spazzing out in his little death throes, that line from Canticle For Liebowitz came back to me. It's spoken by a young man training for the ministry (it's a warped, post-apocalyptic ministry, but there's the whole fasting in the desert thing to contend with anyway) and he finds what he thinks is the secret to the universe, only to have his finding so covered up by bureaucracy that he almost loses his faith. The poor guy is sent back to the desert for prayer and fasting, and he's so miserable that he has a falling down. Hence, "Bless me Father, I ate a lizard." "Say five Hail Liebowitzes my son, and do penance. Amen."

So here I am, tired to the gills and trying to do my best for my superiors, and I still manage a tiny fuck-up that's going to be tail-spazzing in my dreams.

Bless me Father, I killed a squirrel. "Say your ed code my daughter, and be sure to read your section on curricular mapping. Amen."

Oddly enough, I'm starting to lose my faith... go figure. (Fucking squirrel. Really. Do they have to get suicidal in the spring? Can't they just go antagonize pit bulls or something, do they HAVE to run into traffic? Just sayin'.)

(Happy Mom's day tomorrow--if I'm not quite as cooked and done and get a little more time to myself, I shall try to get to everyone's blog tomorrow. It's been so busy here, I've actually READ BLOGS I HAVEN'T COMMENTED ON. Considering how very little I like to keep my mouth shut, that's pretty amazing:-)

I'm going to go write three unintelligible pages for Rampant, which I will try to clean up by tomorrow--I'm about at 500 pages-yee-ha!)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Spaznado Boy Hits and Hits Hard...

We got a different satellite carrier and there was housecleaning and installing and drilling holes in the house and a lot of freakin' questions I couldn't answer and no television during the time when the short people usually have television to just chill them the hell out.

They were driving us crazy--or, rather, they were driving Mate crazy, because I had retreated to the computer to get a teeny tiny bit of writing done, and I heard Mate shoo them down the hall to get ready for their shower and then...

My Mom-dar went off.

"Hey, Mate, wherethefuckiscavetroll?"

"I don't know--when did you see him last?"

Ten minutes later we had turned the house upside down and inside out, Mate had been around the block once, the cable guys were helping us look, and I was WETTING MY FUCKING PANTS.

I was just pulling out of the driveway, thinking maybe we needed to expand our search parameter and wondering when you call the cops in this situation, when he came be-bopping out of the house, all dimples.

"Mommy guess what? I was HIDING, and you couldn't FIND ME!" Isn't this great? Wasn't he a good hider?

"That's awesome, sweetie," I said faintly. "Next time you do that, could you let mommy know we're playing the game first?"

I came inside, to Chicken, who was terribly full of herself for having found him. "Where the hell was he?" I asked, still shocky from ALMOST WETTING MY FUCKING PANTS IN ANXIETY.

"Under the end-table between the chair and the couch."

I looked--honestly? I wouldn't have looked in that spot for the damned cat--too fucking small. And by the way? When I was outside, calling his name with several operatic cracks in my voice, he was about four feet away, laughing is bony little ass off.

"Chicken, do me a favor, wouldja?"

"Yeah mom?"

"When I'm about sixty-five, and I drop dead for no discernible reason, I want you to get your brother, and slug him really fucking hard in the arm, and say, "You asshole, if you hadn't pulled shit like that when you were a kid, we could have had mom for another FIFTEEN YEARS!!!"


And this next is a true story of dreaming in puns:

I had a dream about a beautiful, graceful dancer, practicing the choreography to March of the Marionettes with her partner. Her partner was an extraordinarily lovely young man who had a burning crush on the dancer's brother.

I woke up in a sweat of revelation and said, "Yaoi Story."

I shit you not.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Administrators Who Give You Cancer

"Okay guys--I need your eyes up here. I need the ed's (electronic devices) put away and your eyes up here. Guys, you need to stop talking, put your ed's away and look up. Okay, Ratfucker and Insincere Dumbshit, I need you to put that way. I'm right here in your face, and you're turning your bodies away from me? Put that away. Put it away. Guys, I'm six inches from your face, okay, here GIVE ME THAT!"

The kid wrestled it back. It was physical. I let him have it and said, "Get the hell out of my room."

I sent a T.A. with Ratfucker's referral-- experience has shown that he's inclined to throw them away. He threatened her the entire trip up to the office, and she told the vice principal.

I backed it up with an e-mail saying this kid needs to be suspended for real.

The kid was back at my class today--and I wouldn't let him in. He said "Bon-bone told me you were being disrespectful when you just grabbed my phone without warning."

"Without warning?"

"Yeah, you didn't ask for it or anything..."

I got in his face--"Ratfucker, I was as close as I am to you right now... is it comfortable? Do you know I'm here?"

"I only wanted to finish..."

"I don't care--it was over. You were being disrespectful, and then you threatened my T.A. Get the hell out of my room."

"So she says."

"Stay here until security comes."

Of course, he's gone by then.

And so on.

Another kid I sent out for talking got sent back because, in MY ADMINISTRATOR'S WORDS, "You're being petty."

And in the meantime, every day these motherfuckers are tardy. Every. Fucking. Day. I mark them tardy most days--and they don't care. But what kills me is the time before they get there. The entire class just stares at the places I have to MOVE THEM FROM EVERY DAY BECAUSE THEY'VE BEEN TAUGHT THAT MY REQUESTS ARE PETTY AND INCONSEQUENTIAL and says, "It would be nice if the class could stay like this. Just like this."

The kids who have been taught that I'm shit they step in by the administrator that should have my back walk in tardy and laughing, and interrupting me while I'm speaking, and all the shit that they think they're entitled to do thanks to this spineless prickweenie who doesn't think that one disrespect leads to another (including, maybe, this furious blogpost). The kids they're hurting stare at them and look at me helplessly. They sigh. "Too bad," they mutter under their breath, and then, when the the motherfuckers have polluted my room enough, they join in the hilarity. After all, it doesn't matter. I'm nobody.

Their vice principal told them so.


Okay, now that I've ranted against Ratfucker's best friend, Vainglorious Prickweenie the bajillionth, let's move on to happy shit.

For one thing, that class that I think I hate to the n'th level, actually has some decent kids in it--and imagine my surprise when they all stood up and started freaking out in the middle of a movie. All of them were boys, and they were all losing their nuts about a spider... "It's big, Ms. Lane." "It's black and hairy. It scares me."

Of course, by this time, I'd been pretty ticked by the whole Ratfucker and Vainglorious Prickweenie the bajillionth episode, not to mention hearing the kid who can't spell his own name call me 'petty'-- a word I'm pretty sure was fed to him with a rubber coated spoon, so my 'Pagan creed' was left to shred in the wind.

I pulled my sweater around my wrist and beat that little fucker to a pulp, and when the kids asked, "Where did it go?" I scraped the mushed little body off my sweater and said, "It's in the trash. Sit down."

At the end of class, one of those kids waited until after class. "Thanks for killing the spider, Ms. Lane. I really hate them."

*laugh* At least I'm someone's hero.


And all that being said, I'd like to thank you all for following the link yesterday--it was awesome that you liked the essay-- I may be doing a couple more of those between now and the 18th--they're going into my presentation at the library. And Galad's Gallant Daughter? I can't thank you enough for telling me you liked Bitter Moon II--not a lot of reviews up yet, and, like all of writers, my feedback-blood-sugar is eternally low.

I'm also shyly pleased by how happy you all are that I'm actually working on RAMPANT. I'll try not to let you all down. (And don't forget, the Jack & Teague will be released shortly after--I hope you all like that as well.)

And now, after a day and a dentist appointment (Big T's) and picking the dog up at the vet and Chicken's dance lessons and a nutritious dinner by Taco Bell...

I'm off to knit and watch television with the big kids. Small pleasures, big enjoyment.

Lubs to alls of yous!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

I'm a guest...


Many thanks to Tamela for having me guest for her--and everybody make sure to leave a comment so she knows you visited! (And I want to know what you think of the essay!)


(And, uhm, Curmudgeonly Colleague, if you're out there, you get mention. Don't worry--you'll know it when you see it!)

(And for those keeping track? 480 pages of RAMPANT complete--I think it's going to be around 700... maybe more. HUZZAH!)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Fucking Monkey...

Yeah... the more I look at the picture, the less it really looks like a monkey. I'm so depressed... it would have been a really spiffy blanket if I hadn't tried to get cute at the end. But it did give me some street cred at the shower, where the mom-to-be, (who looks REALLY happy) was hosting a game where people had to color in the best cardboard figure for a mobile, and she picked her favorites. I was tired, I was traumatized by the road (no fewer than three 5mph hairpin turns in less than a mile--the only way it could have been uglier is if it had been narrower and LESS of the shoulder had been paved--and if it had been on a 1000 foot cliff instead of just a REALLY STEEP 50 foot drop off. And if ANYBODY had actually met me coming the other way. And if it had chosen to piss down rain instead of just steadily dump it. Or, even better, if it had been snowing.) and anyway, I was still working on the matching hat (which I didn't finish) and as everyone was scribbling frantically, I was just chilling and knitting, thinking: Hey, I crocheted and stitched an entire fifteen inch monkey face in less than two hours. Coloring pens? I don't need no stinking coloring pens!

But I got to chat with people I was happy to see, and the mom-to-be is terribly enthusiastic when it comes to opening presents, and one of the co-hosts (whom I didn't know well) was cleaning up, and she noticed that one of the (incredibly rich and frighteningly yummy) cupcakes had been cut into a genteel half and shouted, "I'm trying to get rid of this food here and you skinny bitches aint even trying!"

All in all, a fun day.

But it was weird, because I got home, and realized that none of my actual family had moved AT ALL in the entire five hours I was gone! (One hour either way...) It was like they were stuck in a time warp where the house just got uglier. Weird. The only exception was that my roulette sock got here (OH JOY!) and it's GORGEOUS, made of this lovely, petable cotton yarn (no label... but it was SOOOOOO bright and pretty, and a pattern I'd totally knit) and so all I have to do is get rid of a couple of WIPS and I'm good! (Okay. A mucking-fuckload of WIPs, but they really have been IN PROGRESS.) I also have to start a pair of half-fingered mitts for my TA who insists that this is what she wants for her gift... I think I'll use that lovely stuff Roxie sent me because A. It's DK, and B. It's my TA's color EXACTLY.

But first I have to find a place to sit--my living room really only seats five, which means on family movie night (right now they're ALL watching Fairly Oddparents. I am not shitting you about this) one of us is exiled to the computer.

Oh yes--none of the finished blanket could have been accomplished without the cessation of the crud, which has since vacated both my children and fled (I hope) screaming into the rain. And I actually plan on joining it shortly--I need a walk! But thanks everybody for the support--it was nice to whine to you as I had been whined to all week--but I'm done with whining for present. (Notice I didn't say "permanently"?")

And now, I'm off to either sit down or walk it off. I'll decide which when I look soulfully at my chair and see if my husband wants to vacate it. And then I'm going to put the finishing touch on the matching hat (well, sort of matching--it's yellow with an orange bill, so it's a ducky hat, but it's the same color scheme) and think with a shudder that while the little points on the edging took me all day yesterday, the part that sucked the worse was the confetti tassels on the points. *shiver* The worst thing was that the entire blanket from start to finish was my idea. Yup--have the sugar induced fever dream, see it through--that's my motto!

(And a note to any designers who may be visiting for spite, that although the monkey could have used a big do-over, I am not only NOT blaming my editor for this problem, but that the blanket will in no way make the baby look fat. See. Practicing what we preach.)