On Sherlocking

Drew Chial

Writers, are you looking for a crutch to improve your characterization, a trick for easy subtext, and a way to enshroud what you’re foreshadowing? What if you could learn all of this as part of a game? Interested? Then let me ask a few more questions.

Clark Kenting

On Sherlocking: How to Use the Deduction Game to Improve Your Writing

Do you find yourself mirroring movements? Have you walked into a pedestrian’s path, pivoted in the same direction, and paused to break the connection. At the bar, do you find yourself raising your drink in unison with other patrons? In conversation, do you cross your legs at the same time as your friends? Do you scratch your cheek when someone else starts itching? At the end of the night, do you finish other people’s yawns?

Are you so in tune with your surroundings that you can see bathroom breaks coming?

Do you…

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Why now, Michael Sam? (A letter to Michael Sam)

Preferred Walk-ons

BY: BRANDON TURNER

Why now, Michael Sam? Why did you decide to come out to the national media now? You knew you were gay back in August when you told your teammates. And you had to have realized with this some time before that. So why now?

Don’t get me wrong. I support you. I want you to do whatever makes you happy. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to have whatever sexuality you deem is right for you. No one can take that away from you. I will fight along side you to make this happen.

But why now? You see, I’m skeptical. Not that you’re gay. I have no right or reason to challenge that. But I’m not sure why you decided this was the time to tell everyone. I’m skeptical that this announcement is coming from a manipulative place.

You had to have learned in football…

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10 Myths About Writers and Writing

Love this, it’s so true.

Pilot Fish

In order to write creatively, we need to exercise our free-spirited and impulsive right brain.  It might take a while to “liberate” this side of the brain especially if we have worked in fields that are linear, concrete, and require rationale thought.  This is what happened to me many years ago when I switched from a career in teaching and publishing to full-time writing.   As I began my apprenticeship in the creative arts,  I had to dispel several myths about the writing process and writers.

"Incognito: The Hidden Self-Portrait" by Rachel Perry Welty, DeCordova Museum. “Lost in My Life (Price Tags) ” by Rachel Perry Welty, DeCordova Museum.

1.  Myth: Writers Are Strange.

There is an element of truth to this!  Writers (and other creative people) must be willing to look below the surface of everyday life and explore the world and relationships like a curious outsider.  This perspective sets us apart, but at the same time, it allows us…

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Why do we hate femininity?

I hear it every day

“Don’t be a bitch, jump.”

“Quit being a bitch, man up.”

Merriam-Webster has two major definitions of the word bitch:

  1. the female of the dog or some other carnivorous mammals

  2. a lewd or immoral woman

What do those two definitions have in common?

They both describe something feminine.

Yet, when we use this word in a negative, diminutive, connotation, we direct it at men. If a man isn’t doing something out of fear, he’s a bitch; If he displays a quality that other men mark as “feminine” he’s a bitch.

This is a clear attempt to emasculate a man. If a man is not doing his job of being masculine, he might as well be a woman.

But why do we demonize femininity? We don’t want our heroines in media to wear dresses, lest they be seen as feminine, and therefore weak. We insult women who make the perfectly valid choice to be homemakers. If a man shows that he has an emotion other than anger, he’s relentlessly mocked and called a bitch. Why?

Why can’t a man cry when he is sad? Why Buffy wear a dress for Halloween and not be stricken useless by her femininity? What is the problem embracing your feminine side?

We use it as a joke, as a punchline. We show men in dresses on television because we think it’ll get a laugh, and it does.

You may have noticed I keep using the word we.

That’s because I do it too. I have two brothers. I grew up around them calling each other feminine words to get a rise out of each other. I heard them spew emasculating words to people through headsets.

Chances are, I’m not alone, because it’s true. Everyone at some point or another has tried to emasculate a man. We’re taught that without his masculinity, a man is nothing. That’s why in the media, men are identified by their genitalia. They fight with large phallic weapons; Broadswords and lances in fantasy, automatic weapons in action films. We do the same with women.

Once a woman is given a sword, or a gun, or a pair of pants she is empowered. This only teaches us that femininity is weakness, and masculinity is power. Of course, no one does this on purpose. It’s only years of reinforcement that have taught us this. We see it in media, hear it in school; we have people telling us that we have to be confident and assertive to get what we want. And which people are stereotypically “assertive”? Men.

Everywhere people go, there are other people telling them to shed their feminine traits. And yes, like it or not, men have feminine traits. Men are empathetic, sensitive, and compassionate. Why these traits are seen as feminine is a different blog entirely. What matters is that these traits are seen as weaknesses in men, but with no clear reason why.

We want our men to be “men”. Strong willed and hardy. The problem with this is that whenever they break out of this box, they’re shoved back in. And we start this type of thing early, too. There are toys for little boys, and those for little girls. Boys get adorned in blue upon birth. They’re beat over the head with messages to suppress their emotions and fight like the men they are. They can’t cry for fear of being called sissies.

Isn’t this more damaging than letting them be “feminine”?

Dear Parents, other people can take care of your kids

Before I say anything on this very controversial subject. I must say that I have no children of my own. Many people will stop reading at this point, because a person with no children apparently has no say in how to raise them. In fact that’s exactly the attitude I’m talking about.  worked at a church, aiding with toddler aged Sunday school kids, for several years. Every Sunday, I had to deal with overprotective parents. These were people who would (every Sunday) tell me how to take care of their kids. Here are some of the worst examples:

  1.  The mom who felt the need to tell me her child’s problems every week: “Cole has a peanut allergy.” she would say, “So he has have the snack I packed for him.” This would be an acceptable thing to tell me under different circumstances, like if I was babysitting her son for the first time. However, the church I worked for had a system for this sort of thing: They ha a card for every child, if the child had an allergy, there would be a sticker on their card. There was actually a sticker for most special circumstances, and I was trained to recognized which sticker was which, and also to inform new parents of the system. This mother was not new to the program, yet insisted on saying something every week. As a result, I had to show her the card and explain the system to her every week. 
  2. The parents who won’t leave soon enough: Sometimes there were kids who didn’t like when their parents left. Usually, in these situations, we would take the kids aside and try to distract them from their parents walking out the door. This worked, the kids would be playing happily, and sometimes even didn’t realize their parents had left. And, usually, the parents caught on and went off to church. This is not about those parents. This is about the ones who insisted on calling attention to the fact that they were leaving, saying things like: “Bye, Kyle, we’ll be back in a couple hours!”. This resulted in the child watching their parents leave and crying until we had to call their parents back in.
  3. The parents who stayed behind: “We’ll just keep an eye on her for a few minutes”. “A few minutes” quickly turned into an hour, which turned into “I’ve missed too much of the sermon, I’ll just stay until the end.” Seriously. This was alos paired with them not letting us discipline their kids, or change their diapers, or play with them.  

As you can see, all of these parents were overprotective in their own way, but it all came down to one thing; they didn’t trust anyone else with their kids. It didn’t matter if that was the point of the whole class, or the fact that most of the teachers were parents themselves. Which brings me to my point. 

I understand that it’s stressful to see your kids left with someone else, even for a second. But daycare centers and preschools are not the devil. They help kids with socialization, and prepare them for going to an actual school. And, most of the time, anyone who works with young children has to go through an extensive screening process. For me, this included fingerprinting and a background check. Most of the teachers and aids love kids, and take extra care to ensure their safety and comfort. 

So, seriously, don’t fret about having your kids go to daycare for a few hours. You’re not abandoning them, you’re helping them. and parents deserve their own time, too. 

So Bad It’s Good

I have a confession to make:

love bad movies.

I’m not talking “you have to leave the theater” bad. I mean the movies that are so bad that they’re like a train wreck. The ones you can’t stop watching for reasons unknown to you, or anyone else who’s watching with you. The ones that leave you laughing for all the wrong reasons, that have midnight screenings with rituals attached.

I’m sure on the internet this is nothing new. It seems like every week there’s a new “Bad Movie” site, churning out reviews and recaps of movies that are “so bad, it’s good”. But that just furthers my point and raises questions. Mainly, why are bad movies so popular, and furthermore, why does anyone watch them?

I can’t speak for every fan of bad cinema, but I can for myself.

I love these movies because they bring people together. They can unite people of different backgrounds and cultures by making them discover that they have the same sense of humor. People flock to midnight screenings with plastic spoons in hand, screaming: “YOU’RE TEARING ME APART, LISA!”. The memorable nature of these films keeps people talking and laughing years after they’ve seen them.

I think that, beyond anything, is what movies are supposed to be. Nothing is as memorable or quotable as a film that fails, but somehow manages to hit the right note, especially if unintentional.

Another thing about these movies is that they never all fail for the same reasons. You could have actors and directors who took the film too seriously, or those who didn’t take it seriously enough; there’s also the films where everyone had so much fun they didn’t care about the final product. Usually, you can tell which is which. It’s rarely as simple as a bad script, bad acting, or bad direction, and sometimes it’s all three.

But all that hardly matters when you’re watching one of these films for the first time. You don’t know whether to watch them through your fingers or turn them off entirely. But you just can’t look away. Soon, you’re laughing at dialogue that doesn’t make sense. You’re  cringing at an earnest actor who’s not going to have a career after this film. By the end, you want to share it with the world.

Because it’s so bad it’s good.

Warning, Rude People: Eavesdropping Advisory Issued

This made me smile.

Drew Chial

Weather Drew A warning to rude people, on behalf of writers everywhere. We’re issuing an eavesdropping advisory: if you don’t have an indoor voice, expect to end up in one of our stories. If your temperance drops, and you put a shrill into the air, you’re begging for a role in our next adventure. If you blow white noise conditions out your molar vortex, we owe it to future generations to make a record of it. If you’re a severe weather friend, letting out an arctic blast every time you vent, we’ll be there to chronicle it.

To those who suffer from line blindness. Who steal spots because they feel entitled. Who complain about having to wait, when they couldn’t be bothered to make an appointment. When you say you want to give management a piece of your mind, we’re the ones who really take it.

We welcome you line cutters, you…

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The hypocrisy of the LGBT community

Image

Disclaimer:  I am not, in any way, homophobic. I support the efforts of the LGBT community to gain equality and recognition. Now, onto the post.

I’m warning you now, this is going to be a deeply personal post. More personal than anything I’ve written here before. I’ll just start simple and throw myself in headfirst.

I am bisexual.

Okay. The easiest part is done. Now I’m going to talk about bisexual erasure.

What is Bisexual Erasure? Well, basically, it’s the tendency that media has to ignore, remove, or deny the existence of bisexuals in a work. You’ll usually see this in an adaption; where a character in the source material will have relationships with people of both sexes, but the adaptation focuses only on the relationship they have with one sex. Most of the time, this sort of thing will be done in a work that caters to a heterosexual audience. This is “justified” by the thought that heterosexuals (usually of the white male variety) won’t be able to identify with a character who is attracted to both sexes. But, that’s a different post.

I’m talking about works catering to an LGBT audience. This makes a lot less sense, after all, the in LGBT stands for bisexual. The best example of this I can think of is Glee. Yes, Glee does have a bisexual character in Brittany S. Pierce. But it’s the way she’s portrayed that is the issue.

Brittany has slept with nearly everyone at McKinley High (by her own admission), and for a while she was involved with Santana, a lesbian character, whom she eventually dumps in favor of a man. I know what you’re thinking “Well, they aren’t denying the existence of bisexuals.” No, in essence, they aren’t. But all of the things I mentioned above are a result of her bisexuality, and are also stereotypical complaints about bisexual people. Brittany can’t make up her mind, and as a result causes Santana emotional distress.

Santana is portrayed as a far more sympathetic character; she is more well rounded and has, overall, a more interesting story arc.

If that example isn’t a good enough illustration of the concept, there is a much more blatant one.

In the season 2 episode “Blame it on the Alcohol”  Blaine (Kurt’s boyfriend) shares a drunken kiss with Rachel during a game of spin the bottle. This causes him to question his sexuality and wonder if he could possibly be bisexual. By the end of the episode, he realizes that his doubts were unfounded. What struck me most about the episode was Kurt’s attitude toward the whole situation. Naturally, he harbors some jealousy over the kiss, and feels as though Blaine might abandon him. However, when Blaine comes to him for advice, Kurt balks:

“Bisexual is a term that gay guys in high school use when they want to hold hands with girls and feel like a normal person for a change.”

When I heard this, I couldn’t believe my ears. Glee is a show that claims to be “all-inclusive” but, at the same time, has the character based heavily on Ryan Murphy himself say something like this. And it’s clear from the way the episode handles the situation that Kurt is supposed to be in the right for saying it. The idea that male bisexuality doesn’t exist is, for lack of a better term, bullshit. This is an example of bisexual erasure at its worst.

And Glee isn’t the only show that did this. The explosively popular Showtime show The L Word did it too, starting with three bisexual characters in its main cast and ending with a whopping zero. They also mad a running joke out of bisexuality as a whole on the show, with characters in early seasons telling the bisexual Alice to “make up her mind”. Guess what? She does, and eventually speaks of her experience identifying as bisexual with disdain.

That (extremely long) segue, brings me to my main point. Bisexual erasure, and outright biphobia, in LGBT works is pure hypocrisy. Again, the B in LGBT stands for bisexual. Yet, still to this day, bisexuals are misunderstood an antagonized by the very people who should respect them as equals. It is only whenever someone outside of the LGBT community attacks bisexuality that they do anything about it. Otherwise, they themselves refer to bisexuals (male and female) as “fence-sitters”, indecisive and selfish.

This kind of hypocrisy is what makes me wary of getting involved in the LGBT “community”.

What makes a “real” writer

“Am I a ‘real’ writer?”

It’s a question I ask myself every so often, particularly when I’m procrastinating instead of working on my writing. I ask myself this because I’m not technically a published writer. Sure, I do this blog, and I’m on a ton of writing sites. I certainly wear the costume of a writer. But I’ve never had my work featured in a newspaper or a magazine. And I’ve never written a published novel. But does that matter?

I’ve always written. From the time I could comprehend a narrative, I’ve made an effort to create one of my own. As I child I mimicked the work of Shel Silverstein. And as a teen, I wrote poetry in the style of Emily Dickinson. I’ve always wanted to be in the shoes of great writers; to walk their path and inspire the world with my imagination.

I believe that, and not notability, is what makes a “real” writer. It takes courage to put your thoughts on a page, even if there’s no one to see it. Because there’s always that nagging voice in your head that tells you that no one wants to read your story. A writer chooses not to listen to that voice. They will find their words and make them real. It doesn’t matter who reads the story as long as it’s written.

On Shaming Seven-Year-Old Fame-Sluts: A Rant on Rape Culture, Revisited

The Undefended Border

I don’t know what kind of a person Woody Allen is. Actually, I don’t even believe in “kinds” of people – you know, racists, sexists, rapists, good, bad, ugly. I have seen people I otherwise like engage in awful behavior, and people I find difficult have impressed me with unexpected acts of kindness. So let me rephrase it like this: I don’t know what Woody Allen has done, aside from his work in cinema. I find some of it compelling, and some of it boring, and some of it self-indulgent.

Allen’s talent was initially a large part of what some internet commentators are disingenuously calling a “controversy” over his daughter Dylan Farrow’s accusations of sexual abuse. (If you are somehow unaware of this, come out from under your rock and do a quick Google search.)

At first, the issue was whether one can appreciate the films of a sexual predator…

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