Category: Uncategorized


“For Today I Am A Child”

Tina painted my nails Monday night.

I came out as nonbinary trans a year ago, and I talk about my “transition” a lot. However, in almost all of the ways that matter, that transition was internal. I had to unlearn (and am still unlearning) so many misogynistic and transmisogynistic and otherwise transphobic beliefs. I had to find (and am still finding) a livable praxis for a total re-orientation of my political beliefs that included intersectional trans representation. I had to figure out who I was in almost every facet of my life after realizing that if there was one thing I wasn’t, it was a man.

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“Amuse-Bouche” features one of Hannibal‘s less memorable one-shot villains while also crafting one of the series’ most concise arguments for its own existence.

Eldon Stammets is a pharmacist with a penchant for inducing diabetic comas in his customers/victims. Stammets uses his victims’ still living bodies as fertilizer for a mushroom garden, deep in a Maryland forest. Like the Minnesota Shrike, Eldon sees a grand design in his crimes.

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What Remains of Lewis Finch

Of the many broken lives and abandoned rooms in What Remains of Edith Finch, the loss that haunted me the most was Lewis Finch.

The Finch family believed it was cursed. It wasn’t an entirely irrational belief. From the moment the Finch family crashed against America’s shores, Finches died young. Babies drowned in tubs. Children went missing. Parents were pushed from cliffs. Child stars were murdered as teenagers. Death was around every corner of the towering and haphazard Finch home and the island where the Finches lived.

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“This is my design.”

Will Graham is overwhelmed by intention. In Hannibal‘s pilot, Will tells his boss, Jack Crawford, that evidence can explain Will’s capacity to solve crimes and catch criminals. Evidence can explain Will’s inductive observations. Will doesn’t have magic powers. He isn’t seeing into the past when he reconstructs a crime scene. However, Will is not Gil Grissom. He is not a forensic crime scene investigator. Will uses the carnage of brutal crimes as a canvas for exploring purpose and intent. The crimes he investigates were committed by someone who made a choice; Will’s gift is opening himself up to the feelings that allow someone to make those choices.

Of course, Hannibal would be a lesser show if Will’s talents were so simple. One of the most horrifying symptoms of the identity disorder that haunts Will and makes him such a potent profiler is the way in which the lines between Will and the murderers whose psyches he inhabits can fade away.

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There’s a moment in A Room With A View where the novel/film’s Edwardian romance is interrupted by horrific, fatal violence. Lucy Honeychurch, the story’s temperate heroine, is wandering the Piazza della Signoria — the square outside Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio that now houses the reproduction of Michelangelo’s David and a host of other, priceless Renaissance sculptures — when two Italian men get into an argument. One of the men is stabbed in the ensuing brawl and dies.

Lucy has spent her days in Florence wandering churches, evading lectures from the prudish Reverend Eager,  and barely listening to equally magnanimous sermons from her aunt and chaperone, Charlotte. Lucy has also caught the eye of a strange suitor, George Emerson. George is the son of an equally puzzling journalist, atheist, and political radical, and the Emersons have brushed against the coarse strictures of turn of the century English mores in ways that Lucy finds both offsetting and exciting.

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Around the release of Zootopia, a friend on Twitter posted a short thread about the futility of cinematic/literary metaphors for race. His argument was that, at best, these metaphors over-simplify and reduce complex real world matters without materially contributing to combating racial injustice. At worst, these metaphors unintentionally confuse and obscure real world suffering. And so if someone wants to make a literary argument about race, perhaps it would just be better to strip the metaphors away and have a frank conversation about the topic.

I adore District 9. It’s one of the essential science fiction films of the last ten years. It’s also a metaphor for apartheid in South Africa. Aliens forced to live in poverty and as non-citizens while they’re poked and prodded by paternalistic Afrikaans. It is also obviously problematic to recast black South Africans as alien space shrimp in the story of their own struggle for liberation (and to also make one of those white Afrikaans — who is the film’s POV and lead — so integral to that struggle).

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(Author’s Note: Lyrics credit to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” for the headline of this piece. All photography by the author and taken inside of the video game No Man’s Sky by Hello Games.)

My roommate isn’t home.

Joe Manchin is in Morgantown, and my roommate is at the townhall. I wish I was there. I want to let West Virginia’s nominally Democratic Senator know how I feel about him selling my home state out to Big Coal. How angry I am that he’s the latest in a long line of West Virginia politicians exploiting the bigotry and hatred that still infest Appalachia to line carpetbaggers’ pockets. But I’m not like my roommate. I’m not downtown giving Joe hell.

I’m at home.

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[Author’s Note: This post contains significant spoilers for Kenneth Lonergan’s 2016 film, Manchester by the Sea. If you don’t want some of the film’s major reveals spoiled, you might want to avoid reading this until you’ve seen the film.]

I don’t  believe in God, but I do believe in Hell. Hell doesn’t have to be Satan inflicting infinite pain for eternity. Hell can be something as simple as you and everyone you love suffering… suffering and not having any answers for why you hurt or any solutions to make the misery go away. Manchester by the Sea‘s Lee Chandler isn’t just trapped in his own private Hell. His self-immolation is burning everyone around him.

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Throughout the 1960s, Ingmar Bergman would tackle the question “How are we able to live?”

That’s not a question you ask when you’re happy with the state of the world. It’s a question you ask when you have thought seriously about the history and perpetuation of suffering and oppression. It’s that inescapable, nagging thought that humanity’s power structures, humanity’s base drives, and humanity’s future is fundamentally evil and you’re terrified that these cycles of destruction, violence, and wanton cruelty will never disappear.

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A Free Train Ride

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Yesterday, I woke up to find that my Twitter feed had been inundated with anti-Semitic threats. People using anonymous handles referencing 20th century as well as contemporary neo-Nazi culture flooded my mentions. They let me know that I was being explicitly targeted because I was a Jew. They let me know that I was being explicitly targeted because I spoke out against white supremacist hate speech. Which is all to say, they let me know I was being targeted because I was willing to defend myself and and to mobilize others that were willing to do the same.

I’m going to include the most upsetting of the comments as an image below this sentence. I am warning you ahead of time about anti-semitic hate speech being included in this post.

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