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And so it begins… November 9, 2016

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in deep thoughts, politics, random thoughts, reality-is-stranger-than-fiction.
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Early morning thoughts over the first cup of coffee.

One of the news stations (MSNBC, maybe) reported last night at about 10:30 or 11:00 that Trump had gone off to be alone and write his victory speech.

Not review. WRITE.

Why don’t you prepare a speech? Because you don’t think you’re going to need it.

Trump didn’t think he was going to win.

I have the feeling that this morning at Trump Tower, there’s a very Wile. E. Coyote atmosphere: “Okay. I caught it. NOW what do I do????”

I’m hoping he’ll surprise us. Because the alternative is untenable.

Quoting my husband, who was quoting the Vorlons:

“And so it begins….”

Transgender superheroes May 5, 2015

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in deep thoughts, inspiration, inspiration-strikes-OW, random thoughts.
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The things you think of while making breakfast…

1. Huh… transgender superheroes. Are there any? I can’t think of any, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t. I just don’t know any.

2. That would be a cool story-line. Big, famous male superhero, beloved by millions around the world, announces that they’re transitioning. They’ll still be a superhero, but now they’ll be doing it as the woman they’ve always been inside.

3. The first big battle between her and her arch-enemy, the arch-enemy realizes that while pre-transition Hero was good-looking, post-transition Heroine is absolutely stunning. He stops fighting in the middle of the battle and asks her out. Just coffee, mind. Not a date. Just… I’d like to get to know you better. You know, we’ve known each other professionally for years, but we never *talk*. Can we fix that?

I just don’t think I’m competent to WRITE this. I don’t know enough.

To those who have gone before July 22, 2013

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in deep thoughts, random thoughts, sadness.
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This week… what can I say about this week?

How about “Damn it, I want a reset button?”

This week, in the space of three days, I lost two good friends.

Marty Gear was East Coast Fandom’s Uncle Vlad (as you can see above. He did vampire cos-play before it was cool.) He was surrogate father, grandfather, favorite uncle to many, many people.  He was a SMOF (a Secret Master of Fandom), someone who had rubbed elbows with the Grand Masters, and he was hugely influential in costuming and in fandom in general. I’m told that he’d recently gotten into filking.

He died in his sleep on July 18th, at the age of 74. Friends of mine had seen him earlier in the week, and he’d mentioned that he was thinking of cutting back on his fannish activities.

Then, Sunday morning, I woke to the news that Dom Corrado had died in his sleep.

Dom was larger than life (literally and figuratively — most people knew him as Big Dom. Others knew him as Von Fritz, his persona when he was in college at Lehman. It was quite amusing to be in the same room with my cousin the day he discovered that the new friend I’d just introduced to him was someone he’d heard about for years when HE was in college). He taught English in the Bronx for years, until a crazy student attacked him and he had to retire on medical disability. Ever since Sunday, Dom’s Facebook page has been exploding with former students and fannish friends, offering condolences and reminiscing.

I have to admit that I was kinda-sorta responsible for bringing Dom to Lunacon the first time. I’d met him through my then-boyfriend, who had been one of Dom’s students. And we asked him if he was interested in going to a science fiction convention with the Bronx Science Science Fiction and Fantasy group. But I neglected to mention to him that he was the only adult going with this bunch of kids.

So he got there and discovered that he was… the chaperon.

I’m not sure he ever forgave me that. But he also never left Lunacon. He adopted the convention the same way he adopted his students, to the point of having special ribbons printed up every year for the Bronx Science contingent (the original ones, the ones that came later, and the children of those kids). Those ribbons said “Dom’s Kids.”

It was a badge of honor.

According to what I’ve heard, the ME says that Dom had a massive heart attack, and never knew what hit him. He died in bed, sitting up, with his glasses on. Probably reading — a very Dom way to go.

This has been a HARD year for East Coast fandom– science fiction and SCA alike.  The ones I can think of off  the top of my head are Craig Levin (also known as Dom Pedro de Alcazar), who was Atlantian Drakkar Herald the last I’d heard. He was a dear man, a passionate scholar, a NASA librarian and just plain fun to be around. Judy Gerjuoy, (better known as Jaelle of Armida, former Laurel Queen at Arms for Atlantia) who annually threw a Thanksgiving party for all of her friends and relations, for the past few years coming in from the Netherlands to do so. That party was Darkover, a fantastic convention which will be meeting for one more time this year to honor her memory, then will become  a whisper in the darkness. I have fond memories of Darkover. For some people, the holidays start with the Macy’s parade. For me, it started a few days later, with the midnight singing of the Hallelujah Chorus around the pool of the convention hotel.

Think I’m joking?

(The best seat in the house was in the hot tub. People would bring their own sheet music. This is the reason I can sing the Hallejuah Chorus from memory)

I have to say that losing Dom was the one that hurt the worst. He was the one I was closest to, the one who was there for me when my parents died. He was like my favorite uncle, or my big brother, and I miss him. I regret that I never had the chance to have him meet my son (who he would have LOVED).

I wish I could be at the funeral. I can’t. It’s in New York and I’m not.

So here’s my memorial.

To those who have gone before.

We miss you.

We’ll see you again.

We love you.

Goodbye.

 

 

Santa Baby… December 11, 2011

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in public displays of geekery, random thoughts.
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I wrote these a couple of years ago for a Mom’s group — we were talking about Santa and someone asked where Santa came from.

******

Way too much information on Santa Claus!

All right. Here goes (I can’t just let research lay and wait…)

Nicholas of Myra was a 4th century Greek Christian bishop in Turkey, who was renowned for his generosity. The famous example is when he broke  into the house of a poor, pious man in order to leave dowries for the man’s three daughters. Without the dowries, the three girls were going to be forced into prostitution. Nicholas is the patron saint of  children, pawnbrokers and thieves(!).

Now, the gifts come in from borrowing from the Germanic traditions. In  ancient Norse mythology, Odin Allfather is also called Jolnir, or the Lord of Yule. He is usually pictured as an older man with white hair and a long white beard, wearing a hat and carrying a staff.. Odin would ride his white horse, Sleipnir, across the skies on the Longest Night, and would leave gifts for the children who left treats out for Sleipnir. When the Norse became Christianized, the traditions kept on, but were  assigned to Saint Nicholas, who was represented in the iconography as an older man with white hair and a long white beard. Some of the oldest images of Saint Nicholas show him wearing a hat and carrying either a staff or a spear, and riding a white horse…

When the Germanic immigrants (German, Dutch and Belgian) came to the New World, they brought those traditions with them. The modern name of Santa Claus come from the Dutch Sinterklass (Saint Nicholas). The image of Santa in red is also Dutch in origin, where they depict him as a bishop in a long red cape, wears a white bishop’s dress and red bishop’s hat.

The images of Santa Claus became unified in the US after Clement Moore wrote “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” (otherwise known as “The Night Before Christmas”) Santa’s history came from L. Frank Baum (yes, the man who wrote “The Wizard of Oz”).In 1902, he wrote “The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus,” which you can now see occasionally as a Rankin-Bass Christmas special. And the very modern images of Santa are the direct result of a Coke ad from the 1930s.

You know, since I put in the anthropological Santa info, I should probably throw my two cents into the ring.

I totally believe in Santa Claus.

Surprise!

Now, let me back up and explain that. Santa Claus is, in my mind, an archetype. One of that timeless class of characters that lives on through the ages and shows up again and again in myth and literature. (Think Luke Skywalker and Han Solo – the innocent who becomes a hero and the rogue with a heart. Now, how many OTHER instances of hero and rogue can you come up with? See, archetypes.)

Santa is the universal father figure, the one who gives without expecting anything in return. In short, the heart and soul of the generous nature. As I pointed out in that other post, the Lord of the Yule predates Christianity by a good bit – and yet he’s STILL here. He hasn’t been abandoned the way so many of the other pagan gods have been. He’s been adapted. His name has changed, and his appearance, but I’m willing to bet the pre-Christian Norse would still recognize Jolnir. Because he’s at the heart the same. And I think he always will be part of this season, because we need him. We need that spirit of giving, because it also gives us hope.

I learned something this week. Publishing numbers are down, across the board. With one notable exception. Fantasy literature is UP. People are buying fantasy like they never have before. Quite possible because they need the escapism – why deal with things in this world when you can forget them by going to a world where things are all going to be better by the time you hit page 400?

Humanity needs faith, and it needs magic, and it needs something to believe in.  It always has, and it always will. And right now, the needs are especially great, when things are so… unsettled, and we’re learning that our heroes all have feet of clay, and the ones that we’re supposed to be able to trust have been laughing at us behind our backs. I think that’s why the election went the way it did – people NEED hope. They need to believe in something.

I believe in Santa. I believe in Jolnir. And I believe that the editor of the New York Sun had it right when he wrote back to Virginia:

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

(You can read the whole editorial here: http://www.newseum.org/yesvirginia/)

Thoughts on classic movies June 27, 2011

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in Movies, random thoughts.
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I caught about ten minutes of Gigi this morning on TCM (before J. said “Mommy, I don’t want to watch that!” and we went back to Sesame Street). It’s been a while since I’ve seen this movie, and looking at it now, my mind is blown.

How did this movie make it past the censors in 1958? HOW?

You have Gigi, the main character. 15-years-old, and the daughter of a minor vocalist in the Paris Opera (and therefore, by the definition of the times, her mother is only a few steps up from being a whore herself– theatre women were NOT respectable), and there is a strong implication that Gigi is illegitimate herself (I cannot remember any reference to her father). Her family is poor, and there is absolutely no hope of her ever making a good marriage. So her grandmother is training her to be a courtesan.

This is the exchange that fascinates me. The censors let this through:

Gigi: You told Grandmamma that you wanted to take care of me.
Gaston Lachaille: To take care of you beautifully.
Gigi: Beautifully. That is, if I like it. They’ve pounded into my head I’m backward for my age… but I know what all this means. To “take care of me beautifully” means I shall go away with you… and that I shall sleep in your bed.
Gaston Lachaille: Please, Gigi, I beg of you! You embarrass me!
Gigi: You weren’t embarrassed to talk to Grandmamma about it. And Grandmamma wasn’t embarrassed to talk to me about it. But I know more than she told me. To “take care of me” means that I shall have my photograph in the papers. That I shall go to the Riviera, to the races at Deauville. And when we fight, it will be in all the columns the next day. And then you’d give me up, as you did with Inèz des Cèvennes.

And then there’s the bit where Gaston tells Gigi that if she is nice to him, he’ll be nice to her. Her response: “To be nice to you means that I should have to sleep in your bed. Then when you get tired of me I would have to go to some other gentleman’s bed.”

Again, I’m amazed. And I’ll need to go rewatch this movie sometime soon. After J. goes to bed, that is.