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Heavens. I can’t believe I let this sit for 10 months. A quick run-down of the things that have happened since my last update:

  • I won the 2012 Laine Cunningham Novel Award from The Blotter with my novel Perishables. It’s three connected stories about various experiences of a zombie apocalypse. In one of them, a vampire is at a meeting of his homeowners’ association when the dead rise. It’s a little silly and a little funny and a little serious and it has terrible recipes in it.
  • I published Perishables via Smashwords and Kindle and then decided to edit and publish the sequel, called Tooth & Nail. It’s built on a heavily edited NaNoWriMo I did some years ago about the same vampire.
  • I worked the partisan primary runoff election and my staff never mentioned the O’Keefe video. I’m sure they had seen it, but no one brought it up. I was intensely grateful.
  • I worked the general election in November. Jesus H. Christ on a platinum surfboard, what a day. I’ve never been so busy. It was busier than the partisan primary but the county gave me lots of staff and we all survived. There were partisan observers from both major parties in my precinct but they were very kind to me and to one another. Again, I’m sure lots of those people had seen the video but no one said anything. I was at least ten times as grateful because I had plenty more to think about that day. I also passed the election without any major run-ins with campaigners though I did have a couple of really amusing conversations with them.
  • I spent much of last autumn thinking about Tooth & Nail while I did a few promotional activities for Perishables: interviews on blogs and podcasts, for instance, and a few Google Hangouts with a group devoted to zombie fiction fandom. It was nice, after all the stupid bullshit of a year ago, to have a fictional world in which I could curl up and forget reality.
  • I ran my first 5K fun-run last October and my friend who is 6’7″ and ex-Army Airborne had trouble keeping up with me.
  • I spent November, December and January editing Tooth & Nail and dealing with my next-to-last class in the graduate certificate program I’ve been pursuing. I was kind of a stress ball.
  • I’ve spent the spring semester dealing with my last class and I still am kind of a stress ball.
  • I tried to play in two games of Call of Cthulhu at Dragon*Con last year, both of which were disastrous busts. I ended up running a one-shot for the Scourge of Nibelheim (aka “the Vampire group”) a few weeks ago. I enjoyed it but it ran too long and I didn’t get to include like half the stuff I came up with for it because I am just terrible at managing a game and remembering, you know, the poignant bits.
  • I had Shadowrun pretty much ruined for me, and for all my friends, by one really terrible game of it at Dragon*Con. Way to stay classy, totally-separate-and-self-isolating-and-aggressively-dickishly-insular Shadowrun Dragon*Con gaming track.
  • I ran my first timed 5K a few weeks ago and on a cloudy, rainy morning of running uphill at ~40F I clocked in at 25:13.6, 7th out of 46. I am extremely happy with that!
  • I’ve learned to love Twitter. Seriously, I used to say it was the diametric opposite of what I wanted the Internet to grow up to be but it is pretty great.
  • I gave a five-minute lightning talk at the opensource.com #cc10 get-together celebrating 10 years of Creative Commons:

  • I’m approximately two years behind on reading comics. I plan to catch up as soon as I finish this graduate certificate program next month.
  • I’ve been asked to contribute a short story to an anthology built around the theme of “invasion” and am currently mulling some ideas. I am super-excited!
  • I attended my twenty year high school reunion and survived it and even reconnected majorly with some really wonderful people I knew back in the day. Facebook and life in general have gotten a lot more entertaining as a result.
  • I’ve joined a queer softball league.
  • I’m going to be a guest at ConCarolinas in Charlotte the weekend of 5/31 through 6/2!
  • I want the word “marriage” and I want to win the Supreme Court cases, absolutely, but I am also a little bit afraid that the queer communities will be divided into “normals” and “freaks” if we win and that the Right will use our victory as an opportunity to draw a line between those of us who are already primed for idle conformity: relatively moneyed, adhering more closely to rigid gender roles and identities, white, middle-class, “safe”. It will be vital, if we win this, to remember that it still must be okay to be different. Difference is what has given us the culture we create and celebrate together and difference has given us the advantages we are afforded by outsider status in the larger culture around us. We must continue to value people who have different families, different identities, different relationships (or none at all), different goals, different priorities and different beliefs. We do not all have to settle down into quiet, monogamous, dom/sub, top/bottom dichotomies defined by doggy day care and dinner parties. We have to stay freaks somehow.
  • My house is ruled by my cats and sometimes I find that really frustrating but mostly I am thrilled beyond measure at their benevolent dictatorship.
  • I’ve been watching Star Trek: Deep Space 9 while at the gym and it is really fucking good.
  • Last year I skipped NaNoWriMo – what would have been my tenth – to focus on editing Tooth & Nail. This summer I’m doing My Own Private NaNo to work on the first draft of a science fiction novel, the setting for which was developed in a two-session game of Microscope played by Scourge of Nibelheim.
  • We tried Fiasco this year and it is so. Freaking. Fun.
  • I bought a new camera – an Olympus – and I loooooove it.

Is that everything? I think that’s everything. A year of blogging in a single post. Heavens, indeed.

The Boyf and I have been tearing through some Netflix of late, as a hankering for old-school X-Files has been riding me ever since we went to see the movie a year or two ago. I’ve learned that I vastly prefer watching a TV show on DVD, even over watching it on TiVo. The upconvert capability of the PS3 as a DVD player is tremendously impressive. Regular DVDs look spectacular, almost as good as Blu-Ray.

Last night we popped in the first disc of season 3 of Battlestar Galactica, a show I dropped halfway through the third season when I realized I was so emotionally invested that I could no longer enjoy watching it. We skipped an episode, watched another and then watched all the most important bits of both parts of “Exodus”, the episode in which the colonists abandon and/or are rescued from New Caprica. I was left dumbfounded, over and over again, at just how good the show was. Time and again it takes concepts we know all too well from the news – in this case, insurgencies, occupations, suicide bombings and indefinite detentions – and turns them inside out for us. As 24 whiles away the seasons on torture porn, one after another, Battlestar Galactica made us root for the terrorists without even realizing it. Years later and on my second lap with these episodes I still found myself shaken.

That’s the good stuff. The Boyf points out that this is why he loves science fiction: it can say anything and it most of all can say all the things other genres can’t.

Questions I had the first time I tried to watch the show have only strengthened over time: what, exactly, is the technical difference between Cylons and humans? If a Cylon can pass a colonial fleet physical and incidental injuries and all the broken skin of everyday life, what exactly makes them different? I suppose that’s the philosophical point of the whole show, or at least I hope it is. In the meantime, I’m an engineer. The physical answer is just as interesting to me as the metaphysical one.

I have suffered a lot of bogus “breaking news” spam from various news sites but today, when CNN saw fit to inform me via a breathless email that one of Jackson’s kids had said something nice about the guy at the dude’s freaking funeral, I’d finally had enough. I hope nothing important gets sent out by CNN via email because I sure as hell am no longer subscribed.

Of note: I’ve read that they charge much higher advertising rates when they’ve just sent out a breaking news alert.

So, through a chain of links and events too circuitous to be interesting, I recently learned that a GLBT pay channel called here! has a show called “The Lair” and that this show is a soap opera about gay vampires who run a strip club. This had “trainwreck” written all over it in big letters so I had to step up and watch it. Once I knew this existed I knew I would have to see it. Happily, Netflix has it so I got to watch the first half of the first season this week.

Here is the thing: its negatives are some real negatives and its positives are, surprisingly, some real positives. This is a half-hour show with a season length of six episodes. We are talking about some extremely efficient storytelling here and they honestly get points for that. The storyline moves because it doesn’t have time to dawdle over much of anything.

On the other hand, the DVD should feature a voiceover on each menu that says, “We’ve replaced the lifestyles section of your local newspaper with Skinemax; let’s see who notices,” because that is exactly what one gets when one watches this show.

The basic premise is that a small-time reporter at a small-time paper lives in something right out of the Tour of Homes with his boyfriend, Fauxhawk McJunkyard, and investigates a string of grisly murders perpetrated by the gay vampires. It is an almost woefully ambitious storyline that tries to incorporate a lot of different topics that could make for a really interesting story: trust issues in relationships, the ways in which an unrestrained and irresponsible sexual environment can be seen as preying on people, the political angle of a boyfriend who can’t get any information from the doctor after his boyfriend is attacked because he isn’t technically a family member, etc. There’s a lot to work with there, the lead is cute, the boyfriend is cute, they’ve got a resident fruit fly, plus the whole fangs thing. In the end, though, it’s such a low-budget affair and the villains are so ham-fisted that it falls fairly flat.

The impression one cannot escape is that the incredibly stupid vampires in this town – whatever it’s name is – are incredibly lucky to be surrounded by even dumber mortals. They occasionally require the characters to make stupid choices just so they can set up false, fleeting suspense. The only straight people in the show are in a horribly abusive relationship to make Fauxhawk’s creepy stalking seem less crazy. The dialogue could be worse but the delivery is pretty cringe-worthy. To top it all off, no pun intended, every episode has to include at least one session of incredibly lackluster and unenthusiastic dry-humping. There’s actually a scene in which, to demonstrate his ennui, the head of the local vampires watches with obvious boredom as a bunch of dudes in those way, way played out leather strap bandolier things hump each other and all I could say in response to his complacency was, Brother, you and me both. If the softcore is how they sold the show, well, so be it, but damn, it is not in fact a selling point.

As I said to Deadblob after, this show is the intersection point for cute guys, bad acting, unrealized ambition and pantomime blowjobs. For all that, its ambition wins out. I have to respect it for trying so hard. I left the second disc at the top of my Netflix queue, anyway.

Sweet velveteen Christ.

Wow.

KJ and I, in what has become something of a Monday tradition, left one another largely incoherent voicemails afterward.

Also, The Boyf and I got caught up on Heroes last night.  I am not about to say anything at all substantive about the plot, so no worries about spoilers.  I would simply like to note this:

  • Mohindir is the hottest guy ever.
  • Peter is a very close second.
  • DL is a very close third.

Now back to not posting about Heroes because it is making my brain explode with the goodness.

OK, so two quick things:

Went to see Snakes on a Plane on Saturday night.  If you go, and you live in the Triangle, you simply must go see it at the Starlite Drive-In.  Cheap admission, cheap concessions (with corndogs on the menu!), sit in your car, laugh your butt off.  It’s the world’s stupidest movie, but it’s a lot of fun in the right circumstance.  One of those circumstances is definitely having the windows down, enjoying a breeze and listening to the people in the car a couple of spaces away yell at their kids to avert their eyes during the T&A bathroom-booty scene.  A mom would shout, “Eyes closed!  Eyes closed!  Eyes closed!”  Then, a pause.  Then, “EYES CLOSED!  CLOSE THOSE EYES!”  It simply made everything even better.  For those who know me, and thus know how I get antsy and slightly violent when someone talks in a movie, this should tell you everything:  the drive-in is so much fun that I didn’t even care that I could hear someone yelling at their kids.

Second, The Boyf taped a mini-marathon of Life on Mars, which is currently playing on BBC America.  If you get BBCA and you like the cop dramas, you simply have to check this out.  A time-traveling (or comatose) modern-day detective winds up in (or hallucinates) 1973, trying to apply current police procedures – highly developed techniques such as “avoid police brutality” and “don’t plant evidence on someone just because you have a hunch” and “build an evidence trail to secure conviction” – in a setting which doesn’t have much time for them.

Get it?  Time!  Ha ha!

Anyway, good watching.  And seriously, Starlite is now my preferred place to watch popcorn movies.  Yowza!  It’s awesome.

Yesterday I griped that the current Times-News series on a triple murder from forty years ago was lacking in its open discussion of some of the things that doubtless contributed to the murder investigation and the community’s reaction, if not the murder itself:  the lives of gay people in the ’60s, the prejudice against them then and now, the community’s unwillingness to discuss them above a whisper and attitudes towards single, independent women.  I have to at least mostly rectract my complaints, as today’s issue included a story devoted entirely to attitudes at the time, a story that openly discusses the “compromising photographs” rumored to exist from the victims’ large parties (if the pictures existed, they were probably destroyed immediately after the victims were found dead) and some pretty detailed discussions of several thensuspects in the case.

So, I take that back.

That said, isn’t it enlightening (somehow, of something) to note how people who didn’t actually know the guys are quick to fall back on the rumors that the photos were of underage victims of sexual or drug abuse?

As I said yesterday, at least one of the major revelations of these stories – news that perhaps isn’t so new – is how quickly people will fall back into the attitudes and beliefs of that time, their personal prejudices, their personal beliefs.

40 years ago, in my hometown, three people were murdered. The crime has remained unsolved in the intervening decades.

This week, the hometown paper is doing a series of articles about the crime, its victims, and the subsequent investigation. If you want the whole story, you can start with the first article and go from there if you want to read the rest in its presented order. The short version is this: two gay men and a woman who was probably a friend of theirs were murdered, their bodies were abandoned, and when they were discovered five days later the law enforcement officials investigating the crime managed to completely and utterly botch the job. I’m sure they would take issue with that summary of things, but there aren’t very many ways to view an investigation that includes an unprotected crime scene, an officer driving the victim’s car halfway across the county upon its discovery (thus destroying any fingerprints, for instance, that might have been left in it) and a murder investigation that doesn’t even bother with an autopsy until a year after the murder – and then only on one victim.

The story is a remarkable demonstration of the state of law enforcement at the time, perhaps especially in jurisdictions unaccustomed to investigating murder scenes.

The thing that excites me about this series of articles is that I read basically everything there was to find about it when I was in high school. Twenty-five years after the murders, all I could find at the local library were the microfiche copies of the original articles in the local paper. Needless to say, there were aspects left unsaid in those stories. Now, the paper is willing to discuss the fact that two of the victims were gay men, possibly lovers. Now, the paper is willing to discuss that one of the victims had long been friends with African-American recording artists of the time and had been the victim of intimidation tactics when a black musician stayed as a houseguest for a few days in the 1960’s. Now, the paper will discuss the rumors from that time that two of the victims had been involved in drugs – possibly for sex – and the rumors that they had been with prominent, closeted gay men in the community.

What bugs me most about the current coverage, however, is what always bugs me about news coverage: that mix of prudish “good taste” and sensationalism that leads to articles that will discuss in detail the obvious sexual assault of the woman who was among the victims but will only mention in passing that the two men may have been in possession of “compromising photos” from various parties they threw in Hendersonville and Asheville. This may sound dumb, but c’mon. In the debate between “good taste” and telling the full story, pick a path and stick to it. There is rarely a middle way. If you’re going to frickin’ diagram the murder scene, including details about injuries to a woman’s anatomy, don’t suddenly get shy about the rumors these two guys were the hottest potential blackmailers in town. It’s not even a gender-equality thing here, it’s just… either tell the story or don’t. Y’know? This is the post-Monicagate era, ferchristsake. We can talk about these things, and we don’t have to use them as a teaser for the next day’s articles then bury them in a couple of single-sentence quotes before the jump.

And of course it bothers me that if the deal was that they were murdered for knowing a bit too much, perhaps even first-hand, about the proclivities of the various closet queens of the southern WNC mountains then an article that skirts that whole issue is itself an expression of the very silence that might have made these men dangerous. Likewise, a story that will so freely discuss the romantic history, and rumors thereof, of the woman who was the third victim – down to quoting her father as having said, “She still likes the men” – is also an expression of the same contemporary attitudes that made her a forgettable victim, easily dismissed either as someone clearly knee-deep in “trouble” or someone who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, as others insist.

Perhaps that’s the best purpose the story can serve, to document that the attitudes of the time are so quickly and easily reflected in the quotes that can still be obtained today, to remind us that we walk with those same burdens of acquired shame on our backs. Everyone starts off talking about what great guys Glass and Shipman were, always on time to work, always sharply dressed, always having people over for Sunday dinner or big parties, and then the next step of conversation – at least in the retelling – is to immediately leap from there to intimations that they were dealing, they were the secret boytoys of community pillars, that there were pictures, etc. There is no middle ground. They seem to universally be remembered either as perfect mamas’ boys or twin icons of vice. Likewise with Shumate; everyone who speaks of her either talks of her as an aloof intellectual with a taste for parties or as an innocent victim who somehow happened to go from picking blackberries on Old Mills River Road to being beaten to death on the other side of town with absolutely no intermediary steps.

I don’t blame the journalists of the Times-News, to be honest. It seems to me like they have tried to integrate and synthesize the two very different world views of that place and the two very different standards for acceptable discourse of that time and this, and in so doing they have reflected the cultural chasm that is at the heart of almost every small-town-life drama. Gay men living in a place and time when there were precious few outlets for what gay culture there was were forced into the shadows, forced into relationships made inherently sketchy by their clandestine nature, and people either ignored it or whispered about it, but no one sought to change it. Meanwhile, a woman who was divorced, independent and possibly addicted to prescription drugs is neatly pigeonholed along the lines of the ol’ sinner-saint framework. And still, forty years later, almost everyone is quick to rush back to those old positions.

To be fair to those quoted in the stories, there are plenty of people who clearly did not hate Glass and Shipman for being gay, and there are relatives of Shumate who are quick to talk about her in friendly, even wistful terms. The second the story steps outside of that, though, and particularly when it gets to those charged with investigating the crime itself, attitudes very quickly return to the old strategies of ignoring who and where and when they were or immediately pointing to those facts as self-supporting explanations for what happened. If the Times-News wants to shed new light on the case, other than describing the crime scene in detail or being willing to mention, if only briefly, the seedier aspects of their lives, it could at least do them the service of discussing attitudes towards them in the same era – and now.

If they’re going to run a quote like “Word was they gave drugs for sexual favors,” from a retired deputy, there are at least two other questions they could ask:

So is that what got them killed?

Or did it keep anyone from digging very deep after they were killed?

According to this MSNBC.com story, “The Dog Whisperer” is getting sued by his producer after the producer’s dog was injured at TDW’s animal-training facility.  The dog, it is alleged, was put into a choke collar that damaged his esophagus, then overworked on a treadmill.  $25,000 in vet bills later, the dog isn’t finished with surgeries to try to repair the damage.

It’s sick and tragic if this is the case.  It also reminds me of a few weeks ago when I heard TDW as the guest on the Diane Rehm Show on NPR.  There was an office potluck that day, and one of the things I was bringing required me to be out of the house earlier than usual.  As I sat waiting for my contribution to be prepared, I caught part of his interview.  In it, he expressed his philosophy for training a dog:  exercise, discipline, affection and reward.  I have never seen the guy’s show, so I have no idea if he’s in fact the most talented dog trainer ever or just another snake-oil salesman.  What I want to note, however, is what I heard him say on the topic of that approach:

“It’s just like how I treat a woman…”

*pause*

“…How I treat my wife.  First I exercise her, then show affection, then ask for what I want.”

Now, I cannot find a transcript of that interview, and so I have no way to demonstrate that I heard him correctly.  What I can tell you is that I sat there and stared in shock at the faceplate of the radio.

Exercise her, show affection, then ask for what you want.

Smooth.

Now, did anyone else hear that?  Or am I insane?

Just a few things running around my mind today:

  • One of the criticisms leveled against Twin Peaks in what little scholarship I’ve read regarding the series’ encoded meanings is that it is an anti-feminist work that glorifies violence against women. Taking the series and film as a whole, however, and especially in light of the last scene of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, it seems to me that it has no agenda other than to reflect Laura as a whole person with good and bad qualities and decisions all her own. She is neither held up as a saint nor damned as a sinner. In fact, the end of FWWM suggests that the only way she is able to move forward is by having someone, presumably the audience, witness – neither condemn nor endorse but witness – the whole truth of her complicated life and recognize her as a fully three-dimensional human being rather than a positive or negative stereotype or otherwise pigeonhole her specific and unique and human experience. As such, it has no specifically feminist agenda but it is also impossible to classify as anti-feminist; given that its message, if one chooses to find it in this way, is that each person must be allowed to be all of themselves and recognized as such, and that each person has a right to face their own fears and demons and, by integrating those and other experiences into the whole of their being, gain enlightenment, it seems that it is equally empowering of all people and, in that regard, may be more subtly feminist than anyone suspects. It also means I’ve probably watched Twin Peaks too many times, but in fact sitting around thinking about it like this makes me want to watch it again. I also think that the show’s message, if there is one, is no more complicated than that the social pressures of the middle class make it easy for kids to turn out fucked up.
  • There are few things in the world more tasty than salmon.
  • I would rather spend a sweaty morning mowing my back yard every 2 years than sew it with grass seed and have an easy time of mowing it every 2 weeks.
  • I really need to get my emergency brake fixed so that I can get my car inspected.
  • Dan Brown (author of Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code) should be publicly mocked for publishing such a thinly veiled pitch for a screen adaptation and daring to call it a novel.

Re: Your Brains. (Music link; use headphones if you’re at work, not because anyone cusses – they don’t – but because it’s f’ing rude not to, OK? Thanks.)

I was talking to Aaron a few weeks ago and he asked if it was just him or if everyone is all of a sudden really into zombies. “Zombies are the new vampires,” I told him. I’ve thought more about that since then, and wondered why. I’m sure a lot of it is just fashions changing, but we all know that the fashion of horror says a great deal about a society’s fears. In the ’80s it was all serial killers and nuclear-waste zombies: under Reagan our greatest fears were superhuman sex pervs and the irradiated proletariat hordes of post-nuclear Marxism. In the ’90s, our enemy was defeated, long gone, and in the era of trashy talk shows and self-help and Trainspotting we wanted what scared us to be intimate and sexy, to have a face we wanted to kiss before we died. We wanted that which we feared to be some dark reflection of ourselves, not because we were afraid of our inner demons or at all seriously self-critical but because we thought they flattered our waking-life features.

Post-9/11, the enemy is something that has no face, no name, no body; it is a concept, an abstract. It is also, quite frankly, almost impossible to actually fear. Those of us who simply were not busy duct-taping plastic wrap around the windows the last four and a half years and watching the alert level to see if it’s still breathing are busy joking about being afraid way more than merely being afraid. Zombies are a nice fit for that sort of thing: nameless, faceless, relentless, but also easy to be all self-consciously ironic about. Oh yes, the zombies are coming, etc., we’ve seen this part of the movie like a gazillion times! It’s so easy in a society where terror alerts only happen in election years and the fatwahs get issued by guys we’ve never heard of whose names we’ll never remember and whose pictures we’ll never see. Yeah, OBL is out there somewhere, but you certainly don’t hear the Prez’nit talk about him, or anyone else, so he’s easy to forget. He’s just kind of there, like the way Davros is there somewhere in Dr. Who, issuing orders to the Daleks, but nobody remembers Davros, they just remember the Daleks.

Poor mutant, scarred, irradiated Davros, all one big electronic eye in the middle of his misshapen forehead.

See how easy it is? I started talking about terrorism and ended with Daleks. That’s why zombies are so perfect. They’re like the Mad-Libs of horror, just a big sheet full of blank spaces and devoured brains. Add the verbs, nouns and adjectives of your choice to make the story you want to tell. What do they want? What can they tell us about ourselves? Brains, and nothing, in that order. They are unintelligent, unresponsive, inscrutable, unrepentant. They require no complex justifications, no back-story, no catalyst event, no redemption. They show up, they munch cranium, they get axed to death, next scene please. They will repeat, over and over, a thousand times over, so that we can cram whatever meaning we want into them, fill them to the brim with whatever motivation we can’t ourselves articulate. Though I would argue that every zombie movie I have ever seen had strong, often blatant and overt elements of social commentary to them, and always come away believing the zombies represent something, the zombies themselves never make the case. Zombies have no agenda and have no desire to make the case themselves. They have no fear to articulate for us. The ball’s in our court on that one. It’s that simple. Louis can grab Christian Slater by the throat and slam him against the wall and state, plain and simple, that the point of the Interview was to explain why it’s terrible being a vampire and that he knows we all want the everlasting hotness anyway, but no zombie is ever going to produce an almanac of pop culture and explain how their actions over the course of the original Dawn of the Dead will describe the rise of the shopping mall as the new public square, the crass commercialism and remorseless ethic of the ’80s, the end of the “Me” Decade and the beginning of the heartlessly go-getter, active-verb “I” Decade. It’s there, but we have to find it and express it ourselves.

Zombies are open-source horror. Roll your own reason to fear them if you can’t find one you like. It really is that easy. They don’t mind one bit.

I’m from the mountains, so I am well-accustomed to the sort of things that happen deep in shadowed hollows where the same genes have mixed and mixed again for generations. But when MAC alerted me to this story, even I was surprised. From Haywood County News:

WAYNESVILLE – At least six men traveled from across the nation and South America to have their genitals mutilated in what Haywood County authorities described as a sadomasochistic dungeon.

Three Haywood County men are now in jail on felony charges of castration without malice and practicing medicine without a license.

OK, um, wow. I didn’t even know “castration without malice” was a crime. I mean, wow. Some legislator, somewhere, must have had a fun time hearing about it in the cafeteria after they proposed that one.

Also, you really must visit the link for the mug shots. Damnation. No one, and I mean no one, in their right minds would walk into that house, drop their pants and hope someone produces a knife. Additionally, you have to respect a media outlet that captions the photo with “CASTRATION HOUSE,” then helpfully provides a map to the place in the same story.

They asked a neighbor about the guys, and got this:

Kurtz said the men kept to themselves, rarely waved and never spoke.

I hate to say this, but in the mountains that is every bit as good as putting a sign at the end of the drive that reads WE ARE DOING SOMETHING FREAKY HERE. It shouldn’t be that way – people should have a right to ignore each other all they damn well want, and I remember well when a neighbor accused a gay couple in my neighborhood, back in the ’80s (no, really), of being “drug dealers, or something,” because they didn’t talk to others in the neighborhood and occasionally had out-of-town guests. Still, if the allegations are true, maybe it turns out that even a stopped social clock like that one can be right once in a while. And I find it somewhat heartening that her suspicions were not raised by more than one unmarried man living together, but about their lack of neighborly ways.

My favorite part of the whole article, though?

The victims met the men through a locally produced Web site that published photographs of men engaging in sadomasochistic behavior.

Of course there was a website.

Yahoo! shut down the site in December 2004. The castrations took place last year beginning in March and continued through November, according to police documents.

The case is the first involving willing castration in the county and could be the first in North Carolina.

“This right here beats everything I have ever seen,” the sheriff said.

That’s the mountains, for you.

OK. V for Vendetta. Let’s just crack that one open right from the get-go. Half of my friends seem to have hated it. Me? Loved it. Loved it, loved it, loved it. Yeah, there are some differences from the book – a couple of characters compressed into one, some alterations to the precise mechanics of the ending, some things stated more overtly because a movie doesn’t have time for the subtlety of a trade paperback – but the fascist UK of the book is the fascist UK of the movie, the Evey of the book is the Evey of the movie and the V of the book is the V of the movie. I could find nothing to really complain about. Now, as I said, I can name at least two friends who just loathed it through-and-through. So, YMMV, as always. However, without saying anything more for fear of spoiling it, I think that if you liked the book you’ll like the movie. I think you’ll like the movie even if you’ve never read the book. And, having seen the movie, I have discovered over the course of conversations after that two friends had never read the book and have, as a result, gifted them with copies of it because, in all seriousness, everyone should read V for Vendetta. Then they should go see the movie.

The other big thing is season finale of Battlestar Galactica. Holy crap. More thoughts below the fold to prevent spoilers.

(more…)

Straight from Billy West himself: 26 new episodes of Futurama. The DVDs are on hold until after the episodes are done.

Gods yes. Gods. Yes.

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