Book Review: Love + Sex with Robots, David Levy (2007)

Friday, May 4th, 2012

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Welcome to New Earth

three out of five stars

I have a confession to make: my BSG OTP isn’t Starbuck and Apollo. Or Starbuck and Anders. It isn’t Lee and Doulla, Saul and Ellen Tigh, or even Captain Adama and President Roslin (as lovely as their relationship was). My favorite coupling in the entire series is Helo and Athena – Karl Agathon and his Cylon wife. She defected to the human side of the war to be with him; he saved the Cylons from certain genocide. Their love survived and flourished in spite of overwhelming odds. The product of this love, daughter Hera – the very first human/Cylon hybrid – joined the first settlers of New Earth, eventually becoming Mother Eve to us all.

Perhaps, then, I’m not the best judge of David Levy’s Love + Sex with Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships, seeing as I’m already sold on the idea. (Assuming, of course, that we one day develop sentient, self-aware robots. Otherwise it’s all just physical and mental masturbation, don’t you think?) Drawing upon decades of psychosocial research, Levy – an expert on artificial intelligence and author of Robots Unlimited (2005) – explores two (really three) separate but related topics: 1) Will robot evolution result in androids that are physically and behaviorally indistinguishable from humans and, if so, will humans prove willing to enter into 2) emotional and 3) sexual relationships with them?

Levy answers these questions with a resounding – if sometimes overenthusiastic – “YES!” Tracing the history of sex toys, Levy demonstrates that humans are already “having sex” (read: masturbating) with technology, and have been for some time: consider, if you will, sex dolls, vibrators, virtual reality, teledildonics, and the like. Whereas sexual aids were a source of shame (and even criminal prosecution) in days past, they’re now sold openly in Western societies. Likewise, many people retain the services of sex workers at one time or another; taking into account their reasons for doing so, robotic sex workers seem inevitable. On the “love” side of the equation, Levy delves into psychological research which parses out the hows and whys of human relationships – and adeptly explains how most (though not all) of these factors would play out in human-android couplings. He points to peoples’ attachment to their robotic and virtual “pets” – such as the Tamagotchi and Digimon – as an example of how we extend attachments from sentient, organic beings (dogs, cats, gerbils) to their artificial (albeit not quite intelligent – not yet!) counterparts.

While Levy presents a compelling argument, there are also a few missed opportunities. Given that popular culture – movies, television shows, literature, music, etc. – both reflects and influences social mores, I would’ve liked to have seen a discussion of human-robot relationships in pop culture. Blade Runner, Battlestar Galactica, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alien, Star Trek, Wall-e, Futurama, A.I. – there are so many from which to choose! An examination of the audience’s reaction to human-Cylon couplings in BSG, for example, might evince how viewers feel about “love + sex with robots” – in theory at least. Further, a generation of kids weaned on shows that positively portray such relationships is bound to be more receptive to the idea in practice.

More problematic is Levy’s near-total failure to examine the ethical implications of such relationships. As objects – pieces of property belonging to their human owners – can robots even be said to have sex or fall in love “with” humans? “With” implies some degree of reciprocity, which requires not just intelligence but also free will. If robots are made to order and can be reprogrammed at the owner’s whim, can their “choice” to enter into an emotional or sexual relationship with a human (particularly their owner/programmer) ever be truly consensual? And how can a mere piece of property, with the same legal status and moral standing of a tv or computer, enter into a legal contract such as a marriage?

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Sweet Spot: A Taste of Things to Come, a catalogue from Hong Kong, lists nearly 70 different models of blow-up doll, including saucy Sondrine, whose hair, nipple, and genitalia glow in the dark; Betty Fat Girl Bouncer, to satisfy the chubby chaser; Brandi Sommer, with ‘super vibrating LoveClone lips’; and The Perfect Date, which is just 36 inches tall and is equipped with a mouth and a cup holder built into her head. There’s even a dairy maid doll who lactates and has short blonde braids reminscent of Swiss Miss. Some of the blow-ups vibrate and, oddly enough, scream.”

Meghan Laslocky, quoted in Love + Sex with Robots, David Levy (2007)
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Some will argue that a robot can be re/programmed to enjoy whatever fate her owner has chosen for her. If the robot is “happy” with her treatment, then, what’s the harm? Consider the following scenario, if you will. John Smith is a misogynist. He gets off on humiliating, hurting, and dominating women. Rather than rape human women and risk jail time (a slim risk, but that’s another matter), he decides to buy a robot and program her to “enjoy” physical and sexual abused. Is this acceptable? Why or why not?

But let’s say that John doesn’t want “his” robot to enjoy being treated so poorly; after all, causing a woman to suffer is the best part! Suppose the robot is programmed to merely tolerate his sadism, or perhaps to be traumatized by it. What then? Or maybe John Smith is a pedophile or zoophile. Is “sex with” a child or nonhuman animal somehow more ethical if these children and animals are artificially created? Where’s the line? Is there a line?

At times Levy describes these future robots as “conscious” and “sentient” without going into further detail. If androids do evolve to the point that they are sentient – capable of feeling pain and suffering – are they not deserving of the same rights that humans enjoy, regardless of how they came into being? (As a vegan, my answer is obvious: I believe that ALL sentient beings have the right to live free of human oppression. Or perhaps “human/oid oppression” is a more accurate phrase, at least in the context of this discussion!) Chief among these is these is autonomy – the right not to be treated as an object, bought, sold, and owned by others. For robots and humans alike, the right to control one’s own body – mind/programming included – is also a basic “human” right. If it’s acceptable to reprogram a sentient android to do your bidding, then what about naturally created humans (a la Dollhouse)?

These moral quandaries are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg – and, while I realize that a satisfactory discussion of these could easily take up an entire book or even series of books, Levy would have been well served not to relegate them to a passing mention in the conclusion. Doubly so since some of these issues go to the very core of his argument: namely, that humans will one day fall in love and have sex with robots. This is only possible if robots are equal partners, capable of falling in love and having sex of their own accord. Otherwise it’s not love and sex – but rather rape, masturbation, and one-way object attachment.

Given how we treat our fellow earthlings, I think it’ll take the equivalent of a Cylon rebellion to realize Levy’s vision.

A promotional image from the Battlestar Galactica sequel, Caprica, shows a young white woman holding a rosy red apple, from which she has taken a large bite. the copy reads, “The future of humanity begins with a choice.” The woman? Zoey Graystone, the very first Cylon in the BSG ‘verse.
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On that note, I seriously need to rewatch Battlestar Galactica and Dollhouse, stat!

As always, this review is crossposted on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please vote me helpful if you’re so inclined!

Vegan Junk Food Up the Wazoo!: Creamy Ranch Dressing

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

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So here we have a batch of the Creamy Ranch Dressing from Lane Gold’s Vegan Junk Food. Super-yummy, and very close in taste to its dairy counterpart – or so the husband tells me. (This is the first ranch dressing I’ve tried, vegan or otherwise. Look out Thousand Islands, you’ve got competition!)

The name of the recipe is a little deceptive, actually, as Gold gives you options for creating both a dressing and a dip. You begin by making a sort of “spice packet” with garlic, onion, chives, and other goodies. (This, in turn, makes about 6 batches worth of dip/dressing.) Next, the base: one part vegan mayo to one part vegan sour cream. (There’s also a recipe for the latter, fyi. I thought I saw one for mayo, too, but I can’t seem to find it now!) Mix in a tablespoon of the spices and voilà! – you’ve got dip! Prefer dressing instead? Simply water it down with some soy milk.

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The taste of the dressing pairs especially well with sundried tomatoes and bacon bits, imho. I’ve got to find a way to work these into the recipe. I’m inclined to add the bacon bits to the spice packet, so they get nice and pulverized; but the sundried tomatoes might fare better when added at the last minute, when you’re actually making the dip/dressing. I wonder how well the base will soak up the flavor of the tomatoes if it’s allowed to sit for several days? THERE’S ONLY ONE WAY TO FIND OUT. I smell an experiment!

The dressing, though? Still makes for a nice dip, especially when chilled:

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(If you’re wondering why there are so many damned saltines around, it’s because they’re an ingredient in the spice. Seriously!)

Last night, having depleted my salad reserves, I was snacking on some potato chips and ranch dressing over the kitchen counter* when suddenly a few of the dogs started barking at me. Out of nowhere! “Put down the chips, fatty, it’s eleven o’clock!” I’m pretty sure that’s what they were saying; they’re super-rude like that. Mags especially.

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True story!

* While watching – shhhh! don’t tell! – Toddlers & Tiaras. Two of the prizes in the featured pageant? PUPPIES! Freaking PUPPIES! Gifting animals with the advantage of advanced planning is bad enough, but handing them out as door prizes? WTF! How do you know whether the winner even wants a dog? I mean, the kids do, obvs – the temper tantrums and cryfests from the losers were evidence enough – but what about their parents? You know, the ones who will actually (hopefully) be caring for these living, breathing, sentient creatures? Just when you thought the train wreck couldn’t possibly get any more twisted. Oy.

Mayhem!

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Normally I adore Allstate’s “Mayhem” commercials – my (as of now not-so-) secret crush on Dean Winters* being reason numero uno – but I loathe their latest edition, “Guard Dog.” Seriously, I start shouting at the tv / my husband / the dogs whenever it comes on. And yet, Dean Winters! I am unable to look away.

Guard Dog Mahem, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways:

  1. If my house were ever burglarized while I was away, I’d want my dogs – all seven of ’em – to run and hide: under the bed, in a closet, behind the couch, whatever, wherever. Make themselves scarce. Disappear without a peep. Stay safe. What I wouldn’t want is for them to be injured or killed while protecting my property.

    Computers and tv sets can be replaced; my family members cannot.

  2. You hook your dog up to instruments of torture (i.e., “shock collars”) and expect him to be loyal, loving, and obedient, to the point of risking his life to “guard” your home? Fuck that noise!
  3. In this scenario, the dog is mayhem? How about the burglars? Feh, such bullshit.

Also, there are what – four thieves? One dog vs. four humans? Doggie Dean Winters would get his ribs broken and his ass handed to him. You bet he’s choosing the bone over a fight.

* Law & Order: SVU! Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles! 30 Rock! (In chronological order, not order of awesomeness!)

Book Review: Mission Child, Maureen F. McHugh (1998)

Friday, April 27th, 2012

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An epic masterpiece!

five out of five stars

Mothers & Other Monsters excepted, I’ve read the entirety of Maureen McHugh’s oeuvre. (“Devoured” is more like it; after stumbling upon her latest release, After the Apocalypse, I requested every McHugh title my local library owned – including any scifi anthologies containing her short stories – and consumed them all within the space of just a few months. She’s the greatest thing since Margaret Atwood, yo!) Mission Child is far and away my favorite of the bunch.

Hundreds – perhaps thousands – of years into the future, the citizens of Earth have pushed their settlements forever outward, colonizing other planets throughout the universe. Young Janna lives a sparse existence on the north pole of one of these “offworld” planets. In Hamra Mission, she and her clan learn about “appropriate technologies” from earth-born missionaries. When her village is attacked and destroyed by a hostile band of raiders, Janna must struggle to find a new home – first with her husband’s clan, later in a refugee camp for indigent peoples, and finally in the “civilized” world. Throughout her journey, Janna struggles with her self-identity and gender expression.

Born a female, Janna begins dressing and “passing” as a man as a teenager in the refugee camp; she makes the astute observation that women traveling alone are at great risk of gender-based violence. Eventually, she begins to identify as both a man and a woman. When offered (by her employer, which provides gender counseling to its employees!) an implant that will impart some male characteristics, enabling her try out another gender without undergoing surgery, Janna jumps at the chance. Throughout the story, she resists others’ attempts to label her; neither woman nor man, Janna is just that: Janna. (Grandmama Lili’s name for Janna is my favorite: “son-in-law.”) Novels featuring transgender and/or genderqueer protagonists are few and far between, making MISSION CHILD the rarest of gems. (FYI: The titular character of McHugh’s debut novel, China Mountain Zhang, is a gay man. Pass ‘em along to those in search of good LGBTQ fiction.)

Mission Child is a masterpiece with true epic potential. Though I don’t know of any plans for sequels, prequels, or the like, I sincerely hope that McHugh revisits Janna’s world – or, better yet, introduces us to the inhabitants of another of Earth’s sister planets. Mission Child sets the stage for what could easily be an epic series. McHugh’s knack for creating fully realized future worlds is on full display here, and Janna and her kin will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page on her story.

Major trigger warnings for violence – especially sexual and gender-based violence, though rape is thankfully implied rather than described – sickness, death, child loss, poverty, and speciesism.

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(Crossposted on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads.)

The Soy Milk in the Ice Cream

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

purely decadent vegan ice cream on bones

Who watched last week’s episode of Bones? (7×09, “The Don’t In the Do” – available on Hulu!) Did you notice that one of the pints of ice cream that Bones and Booth were about to make sexy time with looked an awful lot like Purely Decadent by Turtle Mountain?

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It’s hard to be sure, since Fox was obvs being a bunch of poopyheads and purposefully not positioning the label so that it faced the audience – vegan companies just don’t have the advertising bucks of, say, a Chevy, which bought its own 90-second infomercial smack dab in the middle of the episode – but considering Emily Deschanel’s veganism, it’s plausible.

I nearly squealed with joy when I saw it. I JUST LOVE VEGAN ICE CREAM SO MUCH!

I get the same way about Wegmans brand products on The Office, since I used to work there. Wegmans, not Dunder Mifflin.

Book Review: Of Muscles and Men, Michael Cornelius, ed. (2011)

Friday, April 13th, 2012

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Ralphie prefers Jason Momoa’s Conan. “He’s dreamy!”
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Hey y’all! This post has zero to do with animal rights, but bear with me. I’m thinking about consolidating my other, mostly-unused blog, Smite Me! with V for Vegan to create one blog for (nearly) all of my writing. Maintaining two personal blogs, each for different but sometimes overlapping topics, just isn’t working for me. Anyway, you may see some non-AR posts pop up from time to time. For now that’ll mostly just mean more book reviews. Eventually I may also change domains, but I’m still thinking on it, experimenting and whatever.

Along these lines, I’ve already changed my twitter username, from @easyvegan to @vegandaemon. Vegan sraffies, holla!

So that’s what’s up. Hopefully you enjoy my writing no matter what it’s about, but hey. You’ve been warned!

 

By the Power of Grayskull!

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program.)

Aside from the early ‘80s Conan the Barbarian films (starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as the eponymous, loinclothed hero) and a few odd campy television shows (namely He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and She-Ra: Princess of Power, which I grew up on, as well as Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, which I’ve enjoyed as an adult), I’m not what you’d call a big fan of the sword and sandal genre. But when I spotted Of Muscles and Men: Essays on the Sword & Sandal Film in Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program, I decided to request a copy anyhow, since I highly enjoy critical pop culture studies and thought it would make for an interesting read.

To say that Of Muscles and Men veers toward the academic would be an understatement. In terms of accessibility, it’s much more similar in difficulty to, say, The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series or Investigating Cult TV than the more mainstream Smart Pop Books by BenBella (of which I own nearly half the available titles!). That said, some essays are more suitable for lay people than others – it really just depends on the author and his or her approach and writing style.

While most of the essays focus on the intersection of violence, sex, and/or gender in the peplum or sword and sandal genre – loosely defined as those films featuring a reluctantly heroic strongman, clad in sandals and/or a kilt and carrying a sword or other phallic weapon, and set some time in humanity’s ancient past – the authors nevertheless manage to touch upon a breadth of topics. Among my favorites are:

* Larry Shillock’s piece on Helen of Troy (the 2003 USA miniseries), an arguably feminist retelling of the Trojan War featuring Helen of Argon as the protagonist (“An Enduring Logic: Homer, Helen of Troy, and Narrative Mobility”);

* “Beefy Guys and Brawny Dolls: He-Man, the Masters of the Universe, and Gay Clone Culture,” in which editor Michael Cornelius parallels the development of Mattel’s Masters of the Universe action figures and Filmation’s animated television show (the latter essentially being a marketing tool for the former) with the rise of gay clone culture in the 1980s; and

* the hilariously titled “’By Jupiter’s Cock!’ Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Video Games, and Camp Excess,” wherein David Simmons examines the influence of video games on the increasingly violent and stylized Fourth Wave peplum films of today (such as the STARZ original series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, from which the interjection “By Jupiter’s cock!” originates).

I must admit to only skimming several of the twelve essays in this collection, either because they failed to hold my interest or contained so much jargon that I couldn’t easily decipher it all. Also disappointing is the lack of attention paid to those sword and sandal films and television shows starring female heroes: for example, the previously mentioned She-Ra: Princess of Power and Xena: Warrior Princess (both are mentioned in passing). Granted, Of Muscles and Men is ostensibly a collection about masculinity – “male protagonists as heroic, violent, fleshy, and, in the end, extremely useful” – but the presence of the occasional woman in such roles is a topic worth exploring, inasmuch as it challenges the role of “hero” or “strongman” as the exclusive province of men.

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(Crossposted on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads.)

Eat your vegetables! (Or not.)

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

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Image: A photo of a page from the book Mission Child by Maureen F. McHugh (1998). The pertinent passage reads, “There were places that sold stew and places that sold meat grilled on skewers. One place sold sausage. Another sold fish, but it was meat I really wanted.”

Thousands of years into the future, after humans have pushed out into the universe to colonize other planets; developed implants which allow the wearer to send a distress signal to those living on other worlds, hibernate for the winter, or channel superhuman bursts of speed and agility; and created tiny discs capable of replicating the pharmaceuticals of your choice … and there’s still some confusion as to whether fishes are plants or animals. Ditto: insects. Groan.

Still, this is a pretty awesome book, definitely McHugh’s best. You should totally read it, especially if you like your dystopian scifi with a feminist twist. Also, the protagonist? Is transgendered/gender queer. (Born a woman, living largely as a man, Jan/Janna resists efforts to label her as female or male. When asked “what she is,” her answer is “me. Janna.”)

I feel like maybe someone was asking about ya fiction featuring LGBTQ characters on twitter a few months back, but damned if I can remember who. If you know, point ’em in this direction.

…greetings from the Planet of Moths.

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

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A(nother) page from Margaret Atwood’s In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination (2011).

excerpted from the short story “Cold-Blooded.”

To my sisters, the Iridescent Ones, the Egg-Bearers, the Many-Faceted, greetings from the Planet of Moths.

At last we have succeeded in establishing contact with the creatures here who, in their ability to communicate, to live in colonies, and to construct technologies, most resemble us, although in these particulars they have not advanced beyond a rudimentary level.

During our first observation of these “blood creatures,” as we have termed them – after the colourful red liquid that is to be found in their bodies, and that appears to be of great significance to them in their poems, wars, and religious rituals – we supposed them incapable of speech, as those specimens we were able to examine entirely lacked the organs for it. They had no wing-casings with which to stridulate – indeed they had no wings; they had to mandibles to click; and the chemical method was unknown to them, since they were devoid of antennae. “Smell,” for them, is a perfunctory affair, confined to a flattened and numbed appendage on the front of the head. But after a time, we discovered that the incoherent squeakings and gruntings that emerged from them, especially when pinched, were in fact a form of language, and after that we made rapid progress.

five tributes

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

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A page from Margaret Atwood’s latest, In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination (2011).

excerpt from the short story “Time Capsule Found on the Dead Planet”

3. In the third age, money became a god. It was all-powerful, and out of control. It began to talk. It began to create on its own. It created feasts and famines, songs of joy, lamentations. It created greed and hunger, which were its two faces. Towers of glass rose at its name, were destroyed and rose again. It began to eat things. It ate whole forests, croplands, and the lives of children. It ate armies, ships, and cities. No one could stop it. To have it was a sign of grace.

"…quietly turning to rust."

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

“Dinosauria, We (blue man)”: CC image via flickr user danielofredorota.
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Father Gomez

I.

He came out at sunset on a little headland beside a shallow bay. If they had tides in this sea, the tide was high, because there was only a narrow fringe of soft white sand above the water.

And floating in the calm bay were a dozen or more. Father Gomez had to stop and think carefully. A dozen or more enormous snow-white birds, each the size of a rowboat, with long, straight wings that trailed on the water behind them: very long wings, at least two yards in length. Were they birds? They had feathers, and heads and beaks not unlike swans’, but those wings were situated one in front of the other, surely…

Suddenly they saw him. Heads turned with a snap, and at once all those wings were raised high, exactly like the sails of a yacht, and they all leaned in with the breeze, making for the shore.

Father Gomez was impressed by the beauty of those wing-sails, by how they were flexed and trimmed so perfectly, and by the speed of the birds. Then he saw that they were paddling, too: they had legs under the water, placed not fore and aft like the wings but side by side, and with the wings and the legs together, they had an extraordinary speed and grace in the water.

As the first one reached the shore, it lumbered up through the dry sand, making directly for the priest. It was hissing with malice, stabbing its head forward as it waddled heavily up the shore, and the beak snapped and clacked. There were teeth in the beak, too, like a series of sharp incurved hooks.

Father Gomez was about a hundred yards from the edge of the water, on a low grassy promontory, and he had plenty of time to put down his rucksack, take out the rifle, load, aim, and fire.

The bird’s head exploded in a mist of red and white, and the creature blundered on clumsily for several steps before sinking onto its breast. It didn’t die for a minute or more; the legs kicked, the wings rose and fell, and the great bird beat itself around and around in a bloody circle, kicking up the rough grass, until a long, bubbling expiration from its lungs ended with a coughing spray of red, and it fell still.

The other birds had stopped as soon as the first one fell, and stood watching it, and watching the man, too. There was a quick, ferocious intelligence in their eyes. They looked from him to the dead bird, from that to the rifle, from the rifle to his face.

He raised the rifle to his shoulder again and saw them react, shifting backward clumsily, crowding together. They understood.

They were fine, strong creatures, large and broad-backed, like living boats, in fact. If they knew what death was, thought Father Gomez, and if they could see the connection between death and himself, then there was the basis of a fruitful understanding between them. Once they had truly learned to fear him, they would do exactly as he said. […]

(More below the fold…)

I like big books.

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

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YOU OTHER READERS CAN’T DENY
WHEN A BOOK WALKS IN WITH A GOOD PLOT BASE
AND A BIG SPINE IN YOUR FACE YOU GET SPRUNG
WANNA PULL OUT YOUR PENS
‘CAUSE YOU NOTICED THAT BOOK WAS DENSE
READING, HALF-RIMS I’M WEARING
I’M HOOKED AND I CAN’T CARING
OH BABY I WANT AN E-READER
AND A MEANINGFUL METER
MY TEACHERS TRIED TO TRAIN ME
THAT BOOK YOU GOT MAKE ME SO BRAINY.

(Photo via The Daily What; lyrics by Seven Points.)

Veg-sploitation Halloween Horror Flicks Even a Vegan Zombie Could Love!

Monday, October 31st, 2011

The husband and I have a longstanding Halloween tradition. Three words: horror movie marathon. Three more: vegan junk food. There will be John Carpenter and Stephen King and Tofurky pizzas and fancy movie popcorn and more gallons of homemade vegan ice cream than you can wag a tongue at.

This year’s picks include a few films that might be loosely described as vegan-friendly, inasmuch as they contain elements that are potentially anti-speciesist or might otherwise appeal to vegan sensibilities: vivisection that triggers an apocalyptic plague; nonhuman “monsters” who prove more human than the story’s human protagonists; cow meat pies secretly swapped for those containing bits of human flesh; bird flu and mad cow disease; exploited animals out for revenge – all these and more make for a “vegan-friendly” horror flick. “Veg-sploitation,” in more colorful terms. (Like “sexploitation,” but SEXIER! AND VEGAN! ‘CAUSE VEGAN = SEXY, YO.)

For those who’d like in on the festivities, I’ve compiled a list of veg-sploitation horror flicks that appeal to the vegan zombie in all of us. (What’s that? You don’t like horror movies? LALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!) Many of these I’ve seen, some I haven’t; so there are bound to be a few lemons on the list. (Poultrygeist, I’m looking at you!) Most are pretty f’in awesome, though.

In the queue this year: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Soylent Green, along with three or four more as-of-yet undetermined movies.

Got a favorite vegan-friendly horror flick I missed? Tell us in the comments!

(Unless otherwise noted, the summaries are snagged from Netflix.)

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Soylent Green (1973) – “Set in a polluted, congested New York City in 2022, this sci-fi thriller stars Charlton Heston as Robert Thorn, a gumshoe looking into the murder of a corporate executive (Joseph Cotten) whose company makes a nutritious synthetic food called Soylent Green. But in the process of tracking down the killer, Thorn unearths shocking information about the product’s ingredients. The cast also includes the great Edward G. Robinson in his last film role.” Soylent Green is people! No more outrageous than if it were chickens!

Attack of the Vegan Zombies! (2009) – “Joe and his wife Dionne have had yet another bad crop for their winery. Faced with the prospect of losing the family farm, Dionne convinces her mother (a witch) to cast a spell upon next year’s crop. The crop is such a success that Joe hires some college students to help them harvest. However, when a nosy neighbor begins poking around in the fields, he finds out more than he bargained for. Now the question isn’t how to best harvest the crop, it’s how to keep from being harvested!” I do not understand where the vegan zombies fit in, but I would like to find out! (plot summary via imdb)

Isolation (2005) – “On a desolate farm in the Irish countryside, destitute Dan Reilly (John Lynch) — in return for cold cash — allows his heifers to be part of a genetic study intended to boost bovine fertility and beef output … until the experiment goes awry. When one of his cows spawns lethal mutants, Dan and a few other unlucky folks suffer the repercussions of meddling with nature in this unsettling chiller also starring Essie Davis and Marcel Iures.”

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – “Director Tobe Hooper’s horror classic is a gruesome reminder that a movie need not be complicated to scare the daylights out of viewers. Sally (Marilyn Burns), her wheelchair-bound brother (Paul A. Partain) and their friends travel to a vandalized graveyard to see if their grandfather’s remains are intact. En route, they come upon chainsaw-wielding maniac Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen), and it’s a fight to the bloody death between good and evil.” The greatest vegetarian movie of all time?

King Kong (2005) – “Set in the 1930s, Peter Jackson’s remake of the black-and-white classic follows a group of adventurous explorers and filmmakers (including Jack Black, Adrien Brody and Andy Serkis) to mysterious Skull Island, where they search for a legendary giant gorilla known as King Kong. The team battles dinosaurs and, with the help of a beautiful woman (Naomi Watts), manages to capture the mighty ape and ship him back to New York.” Like Rise of the Planet of the Apes, minus the ape revenge fantasy. A kind of prequel, perhaps?

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Alien Resurrection (1997) – “Sigourney Weaver and Winona Ryder star in the fourth installment of the Alien series. Two hundred years after Lt. Ripley (Weaver) died, a group of scientists clone her, hoping to breed the ultimate weapon. But the new Ripley is full of surprises … as are the new aliens. Ripley must team with a band of smugglers (including Ryder) to keep the creatures from reaching Earth. Includes the theatrical and extended cuts of the film.” The scene in which Ripley stumbles upon the failed Ripley clones – her sisters – shattered my heart into a million pieces. Since when is Alien a tearjerker!?!

Willard (2003) – “In this remake of the 1971 horror film by the same name, Crispin Glover plays a shy young man named Willard who is constantly pestered by his co-workers and has no friends save for his beloved pet rats. When one of the rats is killed at work, Willard exacts bloody revenge on all those who did him wrong — with the help of his furry friend Ben, an unusually intelligent (and lethal) rat who leads his cohorts to commit horrific murders.” Okay, so maybe Willard proved to be a back-stabbing, narcissistic frenemy to his posse of rodent roommates. But still: A POSSE OF RATS! If I lived in NYC, I’d totes be a female Willard, but better. As in, nicer to the rats.

28 Days Later (2002) – “Twenty-eight days after a killer virus was accidentally unleashed from a British research facility, a small group of London survivors (including Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleeson) are caught in a desperate struggle to protect themselves from the infected. Carried by animals and humans, the virus turns those it infects into homicidal maniacs — and it’s absolutely impossible to contain. Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) directs.” There goes vivisection, unleashing a zombie apocalypse again! When will we learn? Also: Cillian Murphy and Naomie Harris. Yes please!

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Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) – “Johnny Depp reteams with director Tim Burton for this big-screen adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, earning an Oscar nod as vengeful Sweeney Todd, who becomes a deranged murderer after being falsely imprisoned by a sinister judge (Alan Rickman). To cover his tracks, Todd enlists the help of Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter), who disposes of the victims by baking them into tasty meat pies that become the toast of London.” Reviewed by yours truly here.

Little Shop of Horrors (1986) – “Plant yourself in front of the tube and veg out with Frank Oz’s horticultural horror flick. Gawky Seymour Krelborn (Rick Moranis), looking for a way to save his job in a ramshackle, skid row flower shop, purchases a curious exotic plant hoping it will make business bloom. And it does. There’s just one problem: The little creeper possesses a rapacious appetite for fresh human plasma … and it’s mushrooming out of control!” A carnivorous, human-munching plant. From the ’80s. IN MUSICAL FORMAT. This one’s a must-see, odontophobia be damned!

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Zombieland (2009) – “An easily spooked guy, Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), joins forces with wild man Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) to fight for survival in a world virtually taken over by freakish zombies. As they destroy scores of the undead, they meet up with two other survivors, Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) and Wichita (Emma Stone), and journey to a supposedly safe abandoned amusement park. Ruben Fleischer directs this horror romp.” Two words: VEGAN TWINKIES! Two more: Woody Harrelson!

Daybreakers (2009) – “Earth’s population is up against a vicious plague that’s transforming everyone into vampires and draining the world of an increasingly precious resource: blood. Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) and “Elvis” Cormac (Willem Dafoe) must decide what happens next. As the human race count nears zero, will vampires feast on the few men and women who remain, or could science hold the key to a less destructive solution? Sam Neill and Claudia Karvan co-star.” With the development of synthetic blood, are vampires morally obligated to dine on it, instead of humans? Or does their physical superiority give them the right to dominate this “lesser” species?

Swamp Thing (1982) – “When the botanical experiments of Dr. Alec Holland go awry and a lab explosion renders him more plant than man, rival scientist Anton Arcane plans to capture the Swamp Thing and learn his secrets.”

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Black Sheep (2006) – “On a quiet New Zealand ranch, a genetic experiment has gone horribly wrong, transforming a calm flock of sheep into killers hungry for human blood in this outrageous comic gore-fest. Those bitten become ravenous were-sheep. As the body count rises, a desperate handful of outnumbered survivors take a last stand against the bovine onslaught. Who will live, and who will be the next victim of the vicious killer sheep?” …and hilarity ensues.

Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006) – “What happens when a fast-food chicken franchise is built on a sacred Native American burial site rife with restless spirits? Zombie chickens! Now it’s up to high school grad Arbie (Jason Yachanin) to find a way to destroy the featherless fiends. Or will the fowl beasts turn the hungry drive-thru customers into the insatiable undead, too? This gleeful free-range romp through the supernatural also features Kate Graham and Allyson Sereboff.”

Severed: Forest of the Dead (2006) – “When a forestry company’s profit-driven decision to genetically engineer trees goes horribly wrong, a mismatched group of loggers and environmental activists become ravenous flesh-eating zombies. And although a few uninfected survivors remain, their chances of getting out of the wilderness alive are as remote as the forest itself. An ensemble cast stars in this undead gore fest that makes a run-in with a wood chipper seem tame.” I’M ROOTING FOR THE ABOLITIONIST VEGANS. (Rooting! Get it?)

Dead Meat (2004) – “You are what you eat! The seventh level of hell is unleashed when a mutated strain of mad cow disease infects the countryside, turning people into flesh-eating zombies that like their food … fast! Caught in the middle of this gory upheaval is Helena (Marian Araujo), a young Spanish tourist, and Desmond (David Muyllaert), the local gravedigger. Together, they must join forces and fight for survival or else become appetizers in a zombie feast.” Horror flick or speculative fiction? You decide!

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Mad Cowgirl (2006) – “Director Gregory Hatanaka’s decidedly twisted thriller stars Sarah Lassez as Therese, a health inspector whose progressively delusional psyche leads her on a surreal — and bloody — odyssey. To cope with her marital split, Therese takes up with a slimy televangelist (Walter Koenig), indulges her appetites for sex and beef, and obsesses over a kung fu TV show. Meanwhile, her meat packer brother (James Duval) may have infected her with mad cow disease.” Ew.

Meat Market (2001) – “When two former employees of a company that conducts bizarre medical experiments put two and two together, they realize that a series of “animal attacks” reported by the media are actually the work of flesh-eating zombies created by the company. As the walking dead invade the city, the two truth-seekers team up with three vampire women, a washed-up Mexican wrestler, a wounded soldier and a mysterious scientist to fight for their lives.”

Flu Birds (2008) – “A tight-knit group of teens find themselves fighting for their lives when unexpected visitors — a flock of flesh-eating birds infected by a malicious virus — crash their carefree camping trip in the woods. With each deadly swoop, the flying predators are spreading their dangerous strain and transforming the locals into bird feed. Can a shrinking group of survivors fight back and reclaim the skies?” The Birds meets Bird Flu meets zombies. Hello, awesomeness!

Beast Within (2008) – “Terror catapults onto the screen as a new form of avian flu turns its unsuspecting victims into voracious zombies. Pleasure-seeking 20-somethings partying in a remote mansion must then battle the flesh-eating monsters and the infected birds. Armed with flamethrowers, brawn and scientific know-how, the friends barricade themselves against the horrors of the night, but will any of them live to see the morning light?” See: above, plus flamethrowers.

Masters of Horror: Dario Argento: Pelts (2006) – “Sleazy fur trader Jake Feldman (Meat Loaf) will do just about anything for a quality skin. When Jake crosses paths with a trapper (John Saxon) offering raccoon pelts, he jumps at the chance to score big bucks and win a stripper’s heart. Little does Jake know that the supernatural furs wield bloody revenge upon anyone who covets them. This very different kind of skin flick is the 19th episode of the hit Showtime series.” MEAT LOAF! “I would dew anyTHING for LOVE…”

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Harry and the Hendersons (1987) – “Returning home from vacation, the Hendersons — George (John Lithgow), Nancy (Melinda Dillon), daughter Sarah (Margaret Langrick) and son Ernie (Joshua Rudoy) — accidentally run over a strange Bigfoot-type animal (Kevin Peter Hall). They decide to take the friendly “Harry” home and adopt him as a pet. But soon, they’re scrambling to hide their new friend from authorities and Bigfoot hunters. This charming family film won a Best Makeup Oscar.” Not a horror film – heck, not even a monster movie, as evidenced by Harry’s gentle demeanor and compassion for his fellow nonhumans – but I just had to include it on this list anyway. I COULDN’T NOT INCLUDE IT! It’s Harry and the fucking Hendersons, yo! A vegan classic.

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Maximum Consumption! Songs to Shake Your Spatula To

Friday, October 28th, 2011

A few weeks back, Mofo Goddess Isa held a contest on Facebook; to enter, fans were asked to weigh in with their favorite tunes to cook to. Sadly, I didn’t win – but on the bright side, I got a post idea out of the deal! Here are a few of the songs I like to shake my spatula to (in no particular order, but the first being my entry in the contest, fwiw).

What about y’all? What gets your pancakes flipping?

  • “I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked,” Ida Maria

    Ever since I was reminded of this song via a David Tennant fan video, it’s been stuck in my head. Fun and sexy and cheeky and catchy, what more do you need? That said, the only food I’d recommend cooking in the nude is ice cream. Banana ice cream, natch. (No hot ingredients, duh! What did you think I meant, you pervert?)

  • “Peaches,” The Presidents Of The United States Of America

    “Peaches” is like my life story; just change “peaches” to “apples” and this song = my life. Or at least my autumn, when I spend most of my free time picking, peeling, coring and boiling apples to make applesauce and fruit leather. (Mmmm, strawberry-apple fruit leather!)

    Check it:

    “Movin’ to the country gonna eat a lot of peaches” (OMG I LIVE IN THE COUNTRY AND EAT A LOT OF APPLES!)

    “Millions of peaches peaches for me” (I HAVE A MILLION APPLES! OKAY NOT A MILLION BUT HUNDREDS! FOUR TREES’ WORTH!)

    “Millions of peaches peaches for free” (MY APPLES ARE FREE TOO!)

    “Look out ” (SERIOUSLY THOSE SUCKERS WILL CONK YOU ON THE HEAD WHEN YOU’RE NOT LOOKING!)

    See, it’s like they’re inside my brain!

  • (More below the fold…)

    Frozen Chocolatl (with variations for S’mores Ice Cream & S’mores Ice Cream Sammies!)

    Monday, October 24th, 2011

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    Readers of His Dark Materials get their first taste of chocolatl when, in The Golden Compass, Marisa Coulter uses the sweet, hot drink to lure unsuspecting children into the hands of the Gobblers – more commonly known as the General Oblation Board, a research arm of the church which conducts unthinkable experiments on children and their daemons. (See the excerpt below. Yes, I included an excerpt! ALWAYS QUOTE PHILIP PULLMAN.) A favorite of children and adults alike, “chocolatl” is what people in Lyra’s world call hot chocolate or, more generally, chocolate.

    Since I experimented with marzipan ice cream earlier this month, I decided that it’d only be fair to give chocolatl the frozen treatment too. (“Chocolatl.” “Chocolatl.” It just rolls off the tongue, no?) Plus, Chicago Soydairy is totally running a veganmofo contest: create “something amazing” with Dandies, enter to win a year’s supply of the white, puffy stuff. How could I resist? (Answer: I could not. I WAS POWERLESS.)

    idk if double chocolate marshmallow ice cream, topped with crumbled graham crackers and even more marshmallows counts as “something amazing” – but given this dessert’s backstory, I’d like to think that it’s “something charming,” at the very least. I hope you agree!

    (…and then go pick up a copy of His Dark Materials, stat. I need some fellow heathen vegans to geek out with over Lyra & Will and Mary & the mulefa and the witches and Iorek & Lee and Baruch & Balthamos and dust and the deaths and Xaphania SO BAD IT HURTS! ON A PHYSICAL LEVEL, for reals.)

    If not, perhaps the variations for S’mores Ice Cream and S’mores Ice Cream Sammies will do the trick? (I know, bury the lede much?) Three desserts in one!
     

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    Frozen Chocolatl (i.e., “Chocolate Marshmallow Ice Cream” in Will’s world)

    Ingredients

    1 cup soy milk (plain or vanilla), divided
    2 cups soy creamer (plain or vanilla)
    2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
    3/4 cup sugar
    1/4 cup cocoa powder
    1 cup vegan chocolate chips
    30 Dandies marshmallows, divided
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    1/4 cup vegan chocolate bark or chocolate chips (optional)
    Chocolate sprinkles, chocolate chips, Dandies and/or crumbled graham crackers to garnish (optional)

    Directions

    1. In a small bowl or mug, combine 1/4 cup of the soy milk with the arrowroot powder. Whisk briskly and set aside.

    2. In a saucepan, combine the remaining 3/4 cup of the soy milk with all of the soy creamer and sugar. Whisk briskly over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until blended. Add the chocolate chips and one half of the marshmallows and stir until they’re melted. Increasing the heat, bring to a slow boil, stirring constantly.

    3. Once the mix begins to boil, remove from heat and add the arrowroot “slurry.” This will cause the batter to thicken noticeably. Add the vanilla extract and mix well. Chill in the fridge for four to six hours or more prior to processing in an ice cream machine. (Usually I prefer to let the batter chill overnight.)

    4. Process the batter according to your ice cream machine’s directions. Add the remainder of the Dandies to the batter while it’s processing – earlier in the cycle for smaller bits, later for larger chunks. Ditto: the chocolate bark (or chips). (If you’re afraid of gumming up your machine, you can add them after the batter’s done processing, as you’re dispensing the ice cream. In this case, you’ll need to dice the Dandies by hand.) When done processing, transfer to an airtight container.

    5. Serve immediately for soft serve or pop in the freezer for an hour+ for a more solid dessert.

    6. Along with vegan sprinkles, chocolate chips, and/or graham crackers, use those extra Dandies for topping. Assuming you didn’t scarf them while waiting for the ice cream to freeze, that is!

    (More below the fold…)

    "Playing the Serpent" Marzipan Ice Cream

    Thursday, October 13th, 2011

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    For a brief moment, I considered making my veganmofo theme a His Dark Materials one this year. But after several days of wracking my brain and only coming up with a few scattered foodstuffs – namely, marzipan, chocolatl, Tokay, tea crackers and vegan seal blubber (!) – I gave up on the idea, with not a small twinge of regret. But! We can still have marzipan and chocolate, can’t we? I don’t know about y’all, but I fancy some sweet almond paste today! Plus, I did promise you a marzipan recipe earlier this month, did I not?

    Since marzipan ice cream is a more unusual flavor, I decided to try my hand at making my own concoction. Plan A was to use a standard vanilla ice cream recipe as a base, and then mix marzipan blended with (vegan) heavy cream (for a creamy effect) in with the ice cream after it was processed through an ice cream machine, à la this recipe for Marzipan Swirl Ice Cream (veganized, of course). For the marzipan, I used this recipe (also veganized!) for Almond Paste at food.com. Epic disaster!

    I’m not sure what (if anything) I did wrong, but the end result was less like paste and more like soup. Even after I doubled the dry ingredients, the almond “paste” had at best the consistency of caramel sauce – not even close to paste-like. Just as I was on the brink of despair, it hit me: I was planning on liquefying the marzipan anyhow, so what’s the diff? If anything, this saved me the extra steps of making vegan heavy cream and then heating it with the marzipan to make the “cream” for the swirl. Score!

    So here’s Plan B, the result of a happy accident which saved me at least a half hour of extra work and a quarter sink of dirty dishes. May this little taste of the sweet stuff bring you a fraction of the wisdom and fortune that it did to Mary Malone – and, by extension, Lyra, Will, and all the animals of all the worlds, human and non.

    Go forth and play the serpent, my friends.

     

    365 Days – Day 037 “For the Adam and Eve in all of Us”

    FIND THE GIRL AND THE BOY. WASTE NO MORE TIME.
    But why?
    YOU MUST PLAY THE SERPENT.

    – Philip Pullman, His Dark Materials (The Subtle Knife)
    ——————————

    “Playing the Serpent” Marzipan Ice Cream

    Ingredients

    for the marzipan:

    1 1/3 cups dried blanched almonds or almond meal
    1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
    2/3 cup sugar
    1/8 cup agave nectar
    1 tablespoon almond extract
    1/2 cup water

    for the ice cream batter:

    1 cup soy or almond milk, divided
    2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
    2 cups soy creamer
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    1 teaspoon almond extract

    (More below the fold…)

    Everyday Ironies: Equality for…Some

    Friday, August 26th, 2011

    Wyoming State Quarter

    Here we have the Wyoming state quarter, which on the back features its state motto – “The Equality State” – and, to its left, is the silhouette of a “cowboy” riding a bucking horse.

    The website TheUS50 explains:

    The bucking horse and rider symbolize Wyoming’s Wild West heritage. “Buffalo Bill” Cody personified this in his traveling Wild West show. First settled by fur trappers, Fort Laramie, Wyoming, later became a popular destination for pioneers traveling the Oregon Trail.

    Wyoming was nicknamed the “Equality State” because of its historical role in establishing equal voting rights for women. Wyoming was the first territory to grant “female suffrage” and became the first state in the Nation to allow women to vote, serve on juries and hold public office. In 1924, Nellie Tayloe Ross became the first woman elected Governor of Wyoming. In 1933, Ross became the first woman appointed as the Director of the United States Mint.

    As per usual, “equality” by default applies only to human animals; the irony of choosing to feature an image of animal exploitation alongside the state’s nickname was apparently lost on the US Mint. This is hardly surprising, given the speciesist world in which we live. So ubiquitous is our oppression of animals that it’s rendered mostly invisible; like water to a fish. Try as we might, sometimes it can be difficult to recognize it all.

    Although this particular quarter was released in 2007, I didn’t catch on to the irony until last winter.* The husband, having taken the dogs walking in a nearby park, accidentally left the car’s lights on, thus draining the batteries. Long story short, I ended up stuck behind the wheel for a half hour while we jumped the battery. Bored to tears, I started rummaging through the car’s various cubbies and compartments and found a few state quarters. Though I’d probably glanced at a Wyoming state quarter countless times by then, for some reason the contradiction struck me; equality for whom? Certainly not the horses imprisoned, enslaved, raped, abused, maimed and killed in rodeos (not to mention other horse-related industries). But nonhumans – much like women before them – simply aren’t deemed worthy of our consideration. I can only hope that history will once again prove us wrong.

    * Yes, this is on average how long my posts languish in draft purgatory. Bad blogger, bad.

    DFTBA!*

    Saturday, August 6th, 2011

    Stumbled upon the short film Traffic Warden while surfing the youtubes this afternoon. Shared for those of you who like fishes, Doctor Who, random acts of kindness, whimsy, and/or water fountain kissing.

    Me? All of the above!

    * Don’t forget to be awesome! (Read the comments!)

    Is there another way to win a maiden? | Kindness, courtesy, good works, that sort of thing.

    Sunday, July 31st, 2011

    Still fro The Last Unicorn

    “What can I do for you?” Prince Lír asked. “Nothing very much just now,” Molly Grue said. “The water was all I needed. Unless you want to peel the potatoes, which would be all right with me.”

    “No, I didn’t mean that. I mean yes, I will if you want me to, but I was talking to her. I mean, when I talk to her, that’s what I keep asking.”

    “Sit down and peel me a few potatoes,” Molly said. “It’ll give you something to do with your hands.”

    They were in the scullery, a dank little room smelling strongly of rotting turnips and fermenting beets. A dozen earthenware dishes were piled in one corner, and a very small fire was shivering under a tripod, trying to boil a large pot of gray water. Molly sat at a rude table which was covered with potatoes, leeks, onions, peppers, carrots, and other vegetables, most of them limp and spotty. Prince Lír stood before her, rocking slowly along his feet and twisting his big, soft fingers together.

    “I killed another dragon this morning,” he said presently.

    “That’s nice,” Molly answered. “That’s fine. How many does that make now?”

    “Five. This one was smaller than the others, but it really gave me more trouble. I couldn’t get near it on foot, so I had to go in with the lance, and my horse got pretty badly burned. It was funny about the horse —”

    Molly interrupted him. “Sit down, Your Highness, and stop doing that. I start to twitch all over just watching you.” Prince Lír sat down opposite her. He drew a dagger from his belt and moodily began peeling potatoes. Molly regarded him with a slight, slow smile.

    “I brought her the head,” he said. “She was in her chamber, as she usually is. I dragged that head all the way up the stairs to lay it at her feet.” He sighed, and nicked his finger with the dagger. “Damn. I didn’t mind that. All the way up the stairs it was a dragon’s head, the proudest gift anyone can give anyone. But when she looked at it, suddenly it became a sad, battered mess of scales and horns, gristly tongue, bloody eyes. I felt like some country butcher who had brought his lass a nice chunk of fresh meat as a token of his love. And then she looked at me, and I was sorry I had killed the thing. Sorry for killing a dragon!” He slashed at a rubbery potato and wounded himself again.

    – Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn (1968)

    Son of a Bieber!*

    Thursday, July 28th, 2011

    Apropos my suggestion to fellow vegans that they come up with their own unique insults, rather than rely on the same tired sexist, racist, speciesist garbage:

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    For those who can’t view the image, it’s a series of four panels, all of which are animated gifs:

    1) A white, blond, bearded man is animatedly addressing the camera: “Instead of deriving ‘bad words’ from sex, we should derive it from bad musicians.”

    2) The same man is shown walking down a hallway and into a living room. Not paying attention to where he’s going, he walks right into a sofa, presumably hurting his leg or otherwise sustaining injury.

    3) Hopping around on one leg, gripping his knee, the man screams out, “NICKELBACK!”

    4) And, grimacing, “THAT HURT LIKE A KATY PERRY SINGLE!”

    Fin.

    Originally spotted on tumblr! I don’t usually take the time to repost stuff from tumblr in this space, but this was just too good not to share! (That’s a not-so-subtle hint that you should follow me on tumblr, people!)

    Added bonus lolz: when the husband and I first started dating, I found a Nickelback CD in his car. Note how I say “found” as though it was some horrific discovery … cause it was. Ten years later and his liking Nickelback enough to shell out $15 for their CD is still a running joke/insult.

    * Credit where credit’s due; I so did not think of this one!

    furkid friday: dogs and books (and books about dogs)

    Friday, June 3rd, 2011

    Today we have an extra-special furkid friday/Shout Out two-fer! (Dogs and books, books and dogs; throw in pizza and netflix, and that’s all you really need in life, amirite folks?) I even redesigned the old Colbert Report SHOUT OUT! graphic for the occasion!

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    Animated gifs, they’re all the rage. Alas, I was lazy and in a hurry and only used four frames for this one, so it’s a bit choppy. But still, animated Stephen! Times two!

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    The props go to Columbia University Press, which kindly sent me a copy of Creaturely Poetics: Animality and Vulnerability in Literature and Film by Anat Pick, a senior lecturer in film and program leader for film and video: theory and practice at the University of East London. From the book’s back cover:

    Exploring the “logic of flesh” and the use of the body to mark species identity, Anat Pick reimagines a poetics that begins with the vulnerability of bodies, not the omnipotence of thought. Pick proposes a “creaturely” approach based on the shared embodiedness of humans and animals and a postsecular perspective on human-animal relations. She turns to literature, film, and other cultural texts, challenging the familiar inventory of the human: consciousness, language, morality, and dignity. Elaborating on such themes as witnessing, commemoration, and collective memory, Pick identifies the animal within all humans, emphasizing the corporeal and its issues of power and freedom. Through her poetics of the creaturely, powerlessness is the point at which aesthetic and ethical thinking must begin.

    This looks like an interesting read for those concerned with how portrayals of nonhumans in pop culture – literature, film, television – both reflect and inform societal attitudes and ethics towards our fellow sentient beings. (In other words, me!) If you’d like to learn more, check out the book’s listing on Columbia University Press.

    I tried my best to snap a photo of Peedee and/or O-Ren with Creaturely Poetics – mock reading it, or some such other cutesy silliness – but neither was feeling very cooperative. (Too hot!)

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    That’s okay, though; truth be told, I wasn’t trying that hard anyway. (TOO HOT! Seriously, have I mentioned how hot it’s been lately? We’re looking at a week of 90 degree weather with 70%+ humidity. Ick!)

    (More below the fold…)