Secret Identities, Mutant Powers, Bright Costumes and Other Aspects of Queer Lives

I have another little bit of a confession to make, everyone. I’m not the only Natalie Reed.

In addition to the model, the contestant on So You Think You Can Dance 5, the maker of handmade jewelery, the character in the Harlequin romance “His Partner’s Wife”, the MD in San Antonio, the alleged “lesbian pedophile” in London who (according to the ever so trustworthy and queer-friendly Daily Mail) allegedly disguised herself as a 17 year-old boy at a high school in order to “groom” two teenage girls as sex partners, and the young LA mom who somehow lays priority claim to the name on twitter and Facebook, we have this wonderful badass:

That’s the second Lady Blackhawk, Natalie Reed. An American-born aeronautical engineering genius who defected to Soviet Russia due to her faith in the Marxist ideals with which she was raised, her expertise advancing the Soviet air-force’s technological edge by years, she ultimately joined the Blackhawks international freedom-fighter force when she realized that Communism had become corrupt under the rule of Stalin and his successors.

I know, she’s awesome. [Read more...]

Confessions Of A Post-Modernist

It’s true. I’m a post-modernist. We walk amongst you! OOOoooOOOooo! *spooky fingers*

Okay, but seriously…

One of the things I’ve been thinking about a lot this week is the difficulty of having a set of values, beliefs or personal identifications that don’t always comfortably intersect, and that finding a safe space for one aspect of who you are or what you believe will often leave you vulnerable to having other aspects attacked or demonized. Like feminists who dislike trans women and skeptics, trans women who dislike feminists and atheists, and atheists who dislike trans women and feminists.

Well, it’s not exactly a big secret that the skeptic community really isn’t keen on post-modernism and post-modernists, and like to treat them as a bit of a universal punching bag, to the extent that simply describing something as “pomo” is enough to theoretically discredit it. Within this community I frequently see post-modernism straw-manned as some kind of airy-headed, woo-supporting, pseudo-intellectual nonsense that is so wholly committed to radical relativism that it is completely unable to bother taking a stand on anything at all.

That’s a pretty piss-poor, and not very educated or skeptical, understanding of what post-modernism is or is about. Post-modernism was where and how I learned to think, and to do so critically. It taught me to value questioning assumptions, to understand the difference between what I want to believe and what I ought to believe, to understand how perceptions can be distorted and how the process by which we come about our beliefs and conclusions is not always as neat and tidy as it appears, and to look for the unconscious or implicit motives and biases of whomever or whatever is making a claim. In other words, it taught me skepticism. [Read more...]

Why I Love Doctor Who

You know, I hate to admit it , but despite appearances my geek credentials aren’t nearly as solid as they look.

(who am I kidding? I don’t actually mind admitting it at all)

I’m just not really all that into it all. I’m a mac user, and not a particularly talented one, and generally find computers and technology an uninteresting sort of bewildering. I read very few superhero comics, mostly prefer “indie” / “alternative” comics like Chris Ware, Lynda Barry (go Geoducks!), James Kochalka, Dame Darcy, Charles Burns (go Geoducks!) and Daniel Clowes, and my impressive knowledge of DC and Marvel canon is just because I’m freakishly good at remembering trivia and go on lots of wiki walks (though I really do adore Dr. Strange, and loved the X-Men when I was a kid). I’ve seen very little Buffy, only a couple episodes of Firefly, and don’t think Joss Whedon is all that impressive, really. Just pretty good at what he does. I’ve never seen the Battlestar Galactica reboot at all, and may never really bother getting around to it. I hate Kevin Smith, and The Big Bang Theory, with a fiery passion. I’ve never ever read Orson Scott Card, David Eddings (except for the first few chapters of the first Belgariad book when I was 10), Terry Pratchett,  Suzanne Collins, George R.R. Martin, J.K. Rowling or Isaac Asimov. I really love basketball, fashion, high art, punk rock and poetry. I’m really just a sort of culturally omnivorous sort so I just end up really liking some random things that happen to be part of geek culture (like Douglas Adams or tabletop roleplaying) and have the aforementioned weird memory thing that lets me memorize lots of canon even from franchises I don’t particularly care about…. which then lets me hang out with people who do love those things, and carry on friendly conversations with them about it, even though I don’t actually care. [Read more...]

Cloud Atlas and The Lana Wachowski Wiki War

There’s a beautiful, wonderful, intricate novel I love called Cloud Atlas. I’d probably be willing to put it in my top ten novels list, if I had a top ten novels list. Do I have a top ten novels list? Maybe I should have a top ten novels list. I’m going to write one more sentence ending in top ten novels list.

It’s structured as six separate stories, nested inside one another like Matryoshka dolls. Each story hops across genres, and moves forward through time. The first is a 19th(?) century journal of a man sailing in the south Pacific, then an epistolary set of letters sent from a bisexual composer exiled in Belgium in the early 20th century to his ex-boyfriend back in England as he becomes embroiled in a complicated love affair and struggle to complete his own masterpiece, then a sort of mystery thriller in the mid 20th century as an investigative journalist unravels a cover-up of flawed safety precautions in a nuclear power plant, then a comedy of errors in present(ish) day as a publisher finds himself mistakenly imprisoned in a nursing home, then a dystopian ultra-corporate future cyberpunk version of Korea where a cloned slave for a fast food chain develops self-awareness and rebels for freedom, and finally a post-apocalyptic (very post, no one even remembers what happened) distant future Hawaii where industrialized civilization has long since collapsed and the few surviving humans are living tribal, pre-agrarian lives.

The stories move forward, getting cut off at crucial points and revealed as a story being followed by a character in the next section, until the middle of the novel, at which point the last story is told completely through, then we start moving backwards into the completions of each story until finally ending on the one we started with: The Pacific Journal Of Adam Ewing.

It’s absolutely, staggeringly, breathtakingly awesome. You should read it. Now. Right away. Before something I’m about to tell you about happens. It’s written by David Mitchell. [Read more...]