Monday, February 3, 2014

what i think about harry & hermione ending up together

The digital world is a-twitter thanks to a recent interview with J.K. Rowling in Wonderland magazine conducted by Emma Watson. In the interview, Rowling claims putting Hermione and Ron together romantically was a mistake. She describes the choice of "the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment,” and wrong because it
was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility.
Of course Buzzfeed immediately jumped in with a listicle supporting this position. That's what Buzzfeed does. But then came the push back. Slate assistant editor L.V. Anderson laid out the reasons why Hermione's know-it-all personality meshes so well with Ron's take-it-with-a-laugh philosophy. She also pushes back against the underlying assumption that "an intelligent, type-A woman" should end up with a traditionally successful guy like Harry Potter (he's "athletic, rich, famous") instead of a "kind, charismatic, supportive, but penniless guy" like Ron.

Anderson makes a good point. My reason for resisting the "naturalness" or "credibility" of a Harry and Hermione pairing, however, is simpler: it's sexist. Harry, a naturally and supremely gifted wizard, and Hermione, probably the brightest wizard of the age, apparently can't just be friends because one has an outie and the other an innie. It's the erroneous "logic" of this (admittedly hilarious) Chris Rock bit. Heterosexual men and women aren't capable of respecting each other, cherishing the other's company, depending on the other for counsel and guidance, or leaning on one another for support without the spectre of sexual attraction haunting their relationship.

Harry and Hermione defy that assumption. Even though others at Hogwarts presume they are a couple because of their intimacy, Harry and Hermione don't waver in their "just friends" position. Hermione might put Harry in his place from time to time, but it's only to check his ego, not to remind him that his place is in her bed. Harry exhorts Hermione repeatedly to bend and break the rules but never to cross the boundaries of their friendship. They make each other better by pushing and prodding and encouraging. You know, like (same sex) friends do.

That physical attraction or romantic thoughts must follow from their mutual respect and capacities, in Rowling's and other people's minds, is sexist. When Rowling backs away from her literary decision to put Harry's technical advisor and his emotional advisor (admiringly gender swapped from expectations) together, she casts aspersions on a model of gender equality for this generation. She denies that compatibility borne of complementing talents and friendship can be valued in another person without heterosexual anatomical "compatibility" therefore becoming destiny if those two people are not the same sex.

Men and women can just be friends. Even (especially) when they are equals. This is one of the most progressive and enduring of themes in Rowling's stories of the Golden Trio. It's a shame six years after publishing the last book of their adventures she now wants to fall back on old prejudices about match-making.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

wolfs rain i

dir. Tensai Okamura
writer Keiko Nobumoto
music Yoko Kanno

Ep. 1 "City of Howls"
Ep. 2 "Toboe, Who Doesn't Howl"
Ep. 3 "Bad Fellow"


Kiba - the white wolf, alpha

Tsume - lone wolf, cross-shaped scar on his chest

Hige - endless appetite, powerful nose, dog collar becomes necklace in human form

Toboe - the naif, youngest, raised by a human woman, silver bangles on wrist

Quent & Blue - seeks to exterminate wolves because he considers them demon spawn

Detective Hubb - Cher's ex-husband, law enforcement in the domed city, Quent initiates him into the secret world of wolves. Not sure if he'll stick around now that the wolves have left the domed city.

Cher - Hubb's ex-wife, lead scientist studying the Flower Maiden Cheza. Not sure if she'll stick around now that the wolves have left the domed city.


Wolf's Rain has an odd premise. In a diesel-punk world, people assume wolves have been eliminated. Little do they know wolves still walk among them in human clothes. These aren't werewolves; they aren't wolves that can shapeshift into human shape. They "cast a spell" on humans to make them see the wolves in the guise of humans.

The show opens with Kiba, the white wolf, descending from the mountains to the domed city in search of Paradise. He smells Lunar Flowers. However, he is injured on this first leg of his journey. He encounters Tsume, a lone wolf personality, who has been leading a gang of humans in supply raids against the Nobles of the domed city. Tsume warns Kiba to hide his true form from the humans but Kiba refuses because of his wolf pride.

On Kiba's tail is Quent, a sheriff from a mountain town. Quent hates wolves and calls them demons. His companion is Blue, a black, blue-eyed dog. Quent has come to kill Kiba and any other wolves he might find. He scoffs at the old pagan belief that, when the end of the world comes, wolves will find the way to Paradise.

Most of the denizens of the domed city don't recognize Kiba as a wolf, thinking him just a big white dog. But Blue sees him as a wolf, a power possessed by all dogs (perhaps animals in general). Quent shoots Kiba but the police arrive, taking both Kiba and Quent into custody.

Detective Hubb interrogates Quent and gets the story on wolves. Hubb isn't willing to believe wolves survived the culling 200 years ago. Hige, another wolf, helps Kiba escape, convincing the white wolf to set aside his pride and cast the illusion of human form so that they can walk right out of the station.

Meanwhile, Tsume's next raid goes bad and a young boy member of his gang falls. Tsume tries to save him by grabbing his shoulder but because human form is merely a guise, he bites the boy's shoulder. The boy falls to his death.

Tsume's gang abandons him because he "isn't like them." They also blame him for the boy's death. Tsume wanders the domed city and eventually runs into Toboe, a young wolf he has become infatuated with a young girl Lira. Although he rescues Toboe, Tsume refuses to be friendly, adhering to his lone wolf mentality. Toboe accuses him of only befriending humans because they will never be as strong as him.

Kiba and Hige get captured on purpose to re-enter the police fortress to scent out the source of the Lunar Flowers. A Noble arrives, in black with wild black hair and a white mask, and seems to knock out all the humans he encounters rather than hurting him. He confronts Detective Hubb's ex-wife Cher, a scientist studying the Flower Maiden Cheza. The Noble removes his mask, revealing a strange, animalistic golden eye that renders Cher unconscious.

The Noble takes Cheza, who has been stirring ever since wolf blood spilled when Kiba and Tsume briefly scuffled. He is able to see Kiba and Hige for what they are. Cheza awakens and lets out a high-pitched scream that the wolves can all hear. Toboe describes it as "saddening." The Noble says he will meet the wolves in Paradise before leaving.

Kiba and Hige then plan to leave the domed city in search of Paradise now that the smell of Lunar Flowers is gone. Lunar Flowers seem to have some connection with the wolves being able to find Paradise. Toboe joins up with the two wolves with Kiba quickly assuming the alpha role.

Tsume's gang, who have been captured, turn on him and lead the police to him. Quent's dog Blue attacks Tsume but he gets away, dropping his human guise for his wolf form to escape police looking for the man leading the gang.

Kiba leads the wolves to Tsume and convinces him to join them in leaving the domed city. Tsume is reluctant but recognizes that, as a wanted man and without a gang, he cannot remain in the city. Toboe stumbles and falls but Tsume saves him by biting his shoulder. This scene imitates the earlier death of the young boy in his gang, indicating Tsume's appropriate place among the wolves as those who are strong enough to be handled (and helped) by other wolves. Hubb, still not quite willing to believe the evidence, seeks out Quent for more information and learns about the Book of the Moon, a pagan text that contains the mythology of wolves. Humans, for instance, were made from wolves and to be their messengers.

As the four wolves leap from a wall into the arctic harshness outside the domed city, Hubb and Quent arrive. Quent fires at Tsume but Hubb intercedes. He says he still only sees a human. After the wolves are gone, Quent takes the detective to where the wolves left and shows him the paw prints leading away. Hubb struggles to believe the incontrovertible evidence of his eyes.


The Nobles are possibly fallen angels. Given their high social  place (Hubb notes "only the nobles are still allowed to fly") and their awareness of Paradise, this seems plausible. Plus, there is the repetition of the feather motif. The Noble who takes Cheza has hair that faintly resembles feathers. When he removes his mask to ensorcel Cher, there briefly appears what look to be black feathers. And as the wolves are leaving and the Nobles have Cheza in their flying ship, feathers continuously rain down on Hubb and the police.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

best albums of 2013

It's nearly Super Bowl time and here I am finally getting out my best albums of 2013 list. Explanation: the first 4 and a half months of 2013 were spent in a near constant state of schooling to get out of law school. The summer wasn't much better as I contracted a month long lung and ear infection. Since then (and on into 2014), the crippling weight of unemployment continues to stagger.

So here it is at last, in no particular order...

1. Savages - Silence Yourself

When I heard the first single, She Will, back in March, I immediately preordered the album. After spinning the album once, I knew it would be one of my favorite albums of the year. I saw them at ACL and the stage was just too big for Jenny Beth. She kicked and punches to fill up the empty space but also spent a lot of time walking to the back. I said to myself then I need to see them in a more intimate venue. One week later they played The Parish in Austin and it was everything I'd hoped it would be. A confrontationally sexual album. Don't be surprised to hear Jenny Beth describe BDSM and kinky sex in her intros. A very sex positive album and a just plain fantastic collection of songs.

2. The Knife - Shaking the Habitual

Weird. Experimental. Beautiful. Haunting. Brilliant. Challenging.

3. Simple Circuit - S/T

I always include a local Austin band in my top albums of the year. Thanks to local radio station KVRX for introducing me to this garage punk band. Permanent Records in Chicago describes this self-released debut as

The Austin Texas onslaught continues with Simple Circuit's art damaged self-titled self-released debut!!!!! Fighting for notoriety in a city already overflowing with killer bands, Simple Circuit's brand of catchy fuzzed out, angular garage punk definitely puts them at the top of our lists of bands to watch out for. Fans of fellow Texans rock n rollers Video, Spray Paint, OBN IIIs and Gospel Truth as well as junkies for shop faves like Intelligence, Thee Oh Sees and Tyvek might've just found your new go-to record. Forget the second tier garage punker bands kicking around and grab this killer debut album now. "Simple Circuit" is SUPER RECOMMENDED!!!!!!!!

I concur. Highly recommended.

4. My Bloody Valentine - m.b.v.

Somehow I missed this release during the year and had a mini-breakdown in December when I finally learned about it. It was, what, more than 20 years since their last album release? I like shoegaze. So what? You want to fight about it.

5. Jagwar Ma - Howlin

6. Unknown Mortal Orchestra - II

7. Neko Case - The Worse Things Get...

8. The Oh Sees - Floating Coffin

9. Mikal Cronin - MCII

10. Waxahatchee - Cerulean Salt

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

lego my 1x8 brick

Ahead of the 7 February 2014 release of The Lego Movie, porn actress Christy Mack has dipped into the same murky publicity well as Bobbi Eden and the rest of the Vette Nation with a salacious offer via twitter. She will provide a "blow job" [sic] to the person that builds her the "best Lego creation to put in [her] house". For those who don't remember, during the 2010 World Cup, Bobbi Eden offered each of her 50 thousand plus twitter followers a blowjob if her native Netherlands beat Spain in the world cup, thus overturning the predictions of the psychic octopus.

Christy Mack denies this is self-promotion, instead claiming via twitter to be "just a whore that likes Legos." But given the recent obsession with Lego set releases (Simpsons) and some Batman levels of willpower to painstakingly recreate Hogwarts and the Battle of Helm's Deep from Lord of the Rings, perhaps this is just a moment of seizing the geek-chic zeitgeist?

But what does it say about the current state of men, masculine, sexuality, and so called "geek culture" that such an offer could be made, and, it seems, so many men are lining up the bricks for a chance to have a porn actress perform oral sex on them?