Some thoughts on Pose, season 3. Felt like I needed some time to let this one sit a while. Big spoilers under the cut.
Underwear has been one of the missing bits in my gender-neutral clothing wear. What I want is something that is:
- Loose-fitting, because it’s way too easy for me to get skin problems.
- Substantial enough to offer reasonable privacy.
- Cheap to sew up, because I’m not up to paying over $25 a pair for a nonbinary brand.
- Not built for anatomy that I don’t currently have, but …
- Also lacking the fly, which of limited utility under the best conditions and is one of those pointlessly gendered flourishes that bug me.
When I first started my sewing journey, I found this great article on how to make custom tap pants. Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out quite how to do the back curve according to instructions. I realized what I needed was a reasonably good lower-body block with shorts, and ended up picking up the Ellie & Mac Good Vibes Jogger pattern. (Full disclosure, I have an acquaintance who works for them.)
For fabric, I ended up with a discontinued Avengers print knit, where my love of Kirby-era designs trumped my annoyance at the movie franchise. Again, we’re talking underpants here, and if I’m really embarrassed I can just wear them around the house. I also tried on a drawstring to secure the waist rather than elastic as an experiment. My prior experiences sewing waistband elastic have been mixed.
They’re really quick to sew up. A simpler waistband technique that doesn’t involve stitching in the ditch really helps here. I’m going to try a couple of waistband elastic variations, and maybe a pair that recycles a couple of old t-shirts.
Villefranche is a troubled town. The surrounding forest provides, but sometimes it takes. The Steiner family rule through a combination of economic control and gang thuggery. The quarry closed, the sawmill is closing, but the Steiners are still buying land. Prosecutor Siriani (Laurent Capelluto) comes to investigate the high murder rate. Ecoterrorist and protest groups have come with their own agenda. Police major Laurène Weiss (Suliane Brahim) struggles to investigate crimes in a town that serves as career purgatory for outsiders. The forest watches, and sometimes, it interferes.
Series 1 of Black Spot (Zone Blanche) works as a supernatural mystery by maintaining plausible deniability for most of the weirdness. People commit crimes, Laurène solves them. If there’s a ghost in the window, soil on the feet of a man who survives in a vegetative state, an unidentified figure in a photograph, surely there’s a reasonable explanation for it. Series 1 deftly avoids showing the audience everything, and the season concludes with the writers still keeping some cards close to their chest.
My father and material grandfather both share the same family mythology. My grandfather survived the depression as itinerant labor working odd jobs with his father and brother. He dropped out of college after one year to join the U.S. Army to make a living. He met my grandmother, and they married in secret so that my grandmother could keep her job as a schoolteacher. My grandfather vaccinated mules, and spent the winter of 1941 in Alaska as part of U.S. preparations for a war that was inevitable. He spent much of the war working in a military hospital in England. A family relic is the telegram he received announcing the birth of of my uncle. After the war, he took advantage of veteran’s benefits to become a professional chemist and homeowner. He stayed married to my grandmother, and had a house with three bedrooms, a piano in the sitting room, a TV in the living room, a photographic darkroom in the basement. He raised three kids, two of whom were moderately successful on their own.
My father grew up in rural poverty. His family owned a house in the woods with a coal fireplace and an oil stove. Dad worked hard for his good grades and his college education. When his draft notice came, there was no question about evading service. A musical whisp of a kid with coke-bottle prescription glasses, he had the good fortune to audition for the Fort Knox band. He spent his tour playing “Taps” at too many funerals, and serving as organist for both Catholics and Protestants on Sundays. He didn’t benefit from veteran’s benefits to quite the same degree, but they helped with his own college education that ensured he’d never have to wear a feed-sack shirt again.
These stories were typical of men around me growing up in the 80s. Being a man meant multiple things, having a job that you were good at, being a husband, becoming a father, and serving the country when called. And I inherited a huge body of media that reflected how war changes men for the better, in spite of disruptions to the heterosexual nuclear family. Many of the post-WWII Bing Crosby musicals, my grandfather’s favorite, involve veterans building better lives for themselves. On the other side, Star Trek (the original series) has about a dozen stories where male lead characters forsake love in the name of “military” service, including three different women for Spock. Cyrano de Bergerac presents the conflict between heterosexuality and military duty as a tragedy.
Revenant Gun brings Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of the Empire series to a thrilling conclusion. It scales back the weird science of earlier volumes in favor of better human development and a time-bound press to a final battle. It picks up the stories of multiple characters after Raven Stratagem and brings most threads to a conclusion.
Shuos Jedao is the most successful general in Hexarchate history. He is also its most notorious war criminal. Sentenced to death, Jedao’s mind survives as an immortal ghost attached to human hosts whenever the Hexarachate finds a need for him. Kel Cheris is an infantry captain with a talent for math and creative interpretation of orders. Manipulated into hosting Jedao, Cheris becomes a key player in Jedao’s multi-century plan to overthrown the Hexarchate. (Note: Throughout the series, first-names serve to identify faction, clan, or caste membership. Each faction has their own cultural role and specialization.)
16 thoughts about gender and sexuality:
(Warnings: sexual assault, sexuality, language, homophobia, and Ronald Reagan)
I didn’t talk that much about Mass Effect: Andromeda in my earlier post because I was only part-way through my playthrough. I’m still only partway through, but feel I have enough to comment on. Andromeda makes a huge leap involving a lot of handwavium. Six colony ships leave the Milky Way galaxy and arrive in the Helius Cluster of the Andromeda galaxy 600 years later. (Andromeda is a cooler name than Mass Effect: Large Magellanic Cloud or Mass Effect: Sagittarius Dwarf Spheroidal Galaxy.) On arrival, the colonists find their new home has been all but destroyed by an artificial planet-killing weapon, the locals have been invaded by an aggressive empire, and their only hope is to reactivate alien terraforming technology that seems to be ubiquitous. Under pressure, the society of colonists fractured into multiple factions. Arriving late to the party, the main character acts as the human Pathfinder tasked with solving problems, making peace, or just plain destroying enemies.
With a release of the Legendary Edition (MELE), I thought I would go back through the franchise and see if it’s worth paying for yet another copy of the franchise. In the process, I discovered a lot of stuff that just doesn’t age well. Some of it is down to how I’ve grown, and some down to political developments over the decade (rounding up).
This one’s been sitting for a while due to other stuff, but since everyone’s talking about the Blue’s Clues Pride Sing-Along, I feel like putting in a quick review. Dragon Pearl for the last few months has been one of my examples of how inclusive science fiction is the new normal, an award-wining young-reader novel by an out trans person, published by Disney, and including characters who use they/them pronouns.
Min can’t believe her brother, Jun, deserted from the Space Force. So Min runs away from home, impersonates multiple people, and ends up on a quest for the Dragon Pearl, an artifact with the power to terraform entire worlds. Min’s natural abilities as a shape-changing fox spirit can only take her so far, and she learns to live on her wits. In the process, Min changes her apparent age and gender, largely bluffing her way from problem to problem until the conclusion. Lee builds the science-fantasy setting around Korean myth and folklore, a galaxy where dragons, goblins, and tigers co-habit with human engineers and shamans.
I feel like I struggled with this a bit. Lee really dialed back some of the weirdness of prose that I love about him. But, it’s not written for me; it’s written for a middle-grade audience. Lee delivers a rolicking space adventure including pirates, ghosts, and a touch of social commentary. And it seamlessly integrates its gender diversity without comment.
I should probably clarify from the start that I’ve been a fan of Tempest since first exposure through KEXP a few years ago. Beyond that, when they came out as nonbinary, the word “Kae” fit a name-shaped hole I had been trying to fill for months, with the leading alternatives being “Kale” and “Kudzu.”
On Connection is the first published work since they announced transition. It’s nonfiction with a poet’s sensibility for words, rhythm, and metaphor. It’s a mix of autobiography, discussion of the artistic process, literary theory, and politics. In its better passages, it manages to reframe the essential triad of artist, work, and audience as a moral, communal imperative. In other parts, it feels vague to the point of frustration. Sections feel very grounded in their own experience as a spoken-word artist, and not so grounded in the forms of numbness they’re trying to address. Those ideas land better in the brilliant Let Them Eat Chaos.