Toller Cranston on Janet Lynn

[obviously written a while ago, but this shit keeps happening…]


Toller Cranston, as Janet Lynn takes the ice: “You wouldn’t know by looking at her that she’s a housewife and mother of three.”


Would he have said of Kurt Browning, “You wouldn’t know by looking at him that he does stuff around the house and is a father of three”??

I think not.

Clearly Cranston thinks that – well, I don’t know what the hell he thinks.  That doing stuff around the house is somehow incompatible with – skating?  I’ll grant that being a parent could deplete one’s energy to the point that maintaining an elite level of athletic performance is unlikely, but that would apply only if the kids were a certain age and only if one didn’t have any assistance – and it would apply to men as well as women.

I suspect he has some stereotype of housewife and mother in his mind that Lynn didn’t fit.  Perhaps that of a ditsy simpleton or an unkempt troll.

I am Mary, Chris Wind

from Thus Saith Eve, by Chris Wind

I am Mary

mother of God. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now—it’s immortalized. I am indelibly identified by my relationship to a male: all of me has been denied, except that one part. And yet even that part has not been accorded full status: I am the mother of God! It’s a relation whose ramifications no one seems to recognize, to credit.

My existence became important, became worthy of mention, only after (only because) Christ became important and worth mention. My childhood, my girlhood, is never looked at, and yet it was my life before Christ that was responsible for my being the mother of God in the first place: I was favoured (Luke 1:28, 30), I was chosen because of the goodness and purity of my life[1]—and yet none of that purity, none of that goodness was documented.[2] From what was considered important enough to document, one gets the impression that Christ and his apostles were the only ones capable of good works.

The issue of good works leads us to another unrecognized ramification of my role. Christ, my son, is known internationally for his compassion, his love, his generosity, his forgiveness—he’s famous for his ethics: well who do you think taught him right from wrong? His mother, of course! Who is it who always teaches a child the first and formative values?

It was no easy feat raising the son of God! Think about it: here we have a little boy who has the gift of miracle-working—do you think for one minute he always used his powers to serve God? Of course not! For a while he went around creating fantastic toys (as a carpenter’s family, we couldn’t always afford the best), and there was no end of trouble because all of the other children wanted ones just like them (I had to laugh at some of them, the rascal had imagination!). And I had to explain—somehow. He also played some very nasty tricks on people who angered or upset him (once he changed some children into goats).[3] It took some doing to get him through that phase quickly! So even though he was the son of God, he had to be taught that there is a good way and a bad way to use his powers. And, as his mother, I taught him.

In fact, I suspect at times that the only reason I wasn’t chosen to spread Christian morality was because God knew no one would listen to a woman. It’s sad, but it’s true. So the next best thing he could do was choose me to be his mother. He didn’t have to. Did you ever wonder why he even bothered? I mean, the virgin birth proves he—[4]

Let’s consider next this issue of virgin birth. I am not going to debate its truth. I have realized for a long time that what is believed to be true matters more than what is true. And the story of the virgin birth is believed to be true.[5] But the belief is at my expense! Because of it, I was suspect of infidelity—a very serious accusation then, I could’ve lost my life (Matthew 1:19)! Fortunately the suspicion was disconfirmed.[6]

Furthermore, to believe in the virgin birth denies me the joy of sexual intercourse—I am not even allowed the biological prerequisite to motherhood. (That is, I am not allowed the pleasing one. The painful one, childbirth, I am allowed: contrary to popular belief,[7] Christ was the son of woman, and he was born of flesh and blood, not of the spirit—I have the scars and stretch marks to show it.)

Further still, the ramifications of this belief go beyond the personal. I have become a universal symbol: the virgin birth implies that intercourse is undesirable, that natural conception is inferior, that the state of virginity is more blessed than the state of non-virginity.[8] I resent symbolizing such a concept: one state is neither more nor less blessed. And I resent being in the awkward position of putting women into an even more awkward, indeed impossible, position: motherhood is pure, but the prerequisite, sexual intercourse, is impure. Well what is one to do then?[9]

Let me go on to yet other unrecognized ramifications to my role as mother of God. For instance, a little publicized fact is that I had some powers of my own. In fact, many people at the time had psychic powers—clairvoyance, psychokinesis, telepathy—it was a time before those skills evolved out of use.[10] I could tell you of several proofs, but I’ll choose one which is documented (but again, unacknowledged): near the end of my life, I went with St. John to Ephesus, then ‘appeared’ in Jerusalem. (However, I fell asleep when I got there; a feat like that at my old age took a lot out of me.) Such an event should not surprise you—I am, after all, venerated as healer, said to have the powers of ‘miraculous intervention’; and the power of relics of mine was reaffirmed as legitimate by the Council of Trent (1545-64); and don’t forget the Shrine at Lourdes, established in 1858, to commemorate my appearance to Bernadette, and the Shrine at Fatima, 1917, for when I came to those three shepherd children.

Another example, the one last point of ‘credit not given when credit is due’ that I want to make, is best illustrated by examining the image, by examining how I am portrayed. Think of the Madonna. Any madonna will do, they’re all the same. Or think of the pietà. Any pietà. Always the young girl with the blank face, like she’s never had a real thought or a strong feeling in her life. Real thoughts and strong feelings! One of my children went through life as the son of God—wouldn’t that make you think? Then he—my son—had nails driven through his body—wouldn’t that make you feel? Can you understand the struggle to understand, or at least accept, such an injustice without anger, without hatred? Your (male) image-makers call me mother of God, but they don’t take into account what that means, they haven’t understood what that really means! I lived, through days, months, years, I became a middle-aged woman, an old woman.[11] In the pietà, my son is thirty-three—that should make me forty-eight, but do I look it? No, I have been denied my life, my experience, my self. And if you do not recognize my reality, you do not recognize me.

Yes, I am the mother of God. But it appears to be in name only. For all intents, purposes, and effects, Christ (like almost every other male in The Bible) may as well have begotten himself.

[1] Later this was not enough: in 1854, Pope Pius IX instituted the concept of the Immaculate Conception which insisted that my purity extend back all the way to a conception unsullied by original sin in order to provide a satisfactorily chaste womb for the birth of Christ.

[2] Actually there are several accounts of my life before and after Christ, but they have not been admitted to The Bible because they are not considered ‘authentic’ enough. The Protoevangelium of James for instance, written around 150-180 A.D., tells that my parents were Anna and Joachim, and that I lived in the temple of the Lord from the age of three.

[3] See the Arabic Gospel, Chapter 40.

[4] God didn’t really need a biological mother for Christ. He obviously didn’t really need a biological father. In fact, God has Christ born without a human father, because that would’ve detracted from his divinity. But it seems having a human mother didn’t detract as much—hasn’t anyone ever considered the implications of that one?

[5] And yet there are innumerable such stories in pagan mythology, but no one dreams of taking them seriously. This one, they took seriously.

[6] But not on my word, no, my word was not good enough: only after an angel appeared and explained to Joseph, did he believe it.

[7] Which is amazing, in view of the many confusions: (1) Was it a virgin birth or not? If it was, if Joseph wasn’t the biological father, then doesn’t the genealogy tracing Jesus through back through Joseph to David and Abraham (Matthew 1:1-17) break down? (2) Was it a virgin birth or not? The doctrine of virgin in partu claims I did not experience the ‘pangs’ of childbirth, but Salome, my midwife, will vouch for the pain; and that eyewitness account of her arm withering because she reached out and touched me, not believing the hymen could still be intact but discovering it was, has been relegated to the Protoevangelium (I wonder which part of the story was decided to be invalid. If it was the intactness of the hymen that was in doubt, they had to be considering then either sexual intercourse or natural birth as a possibility.)

[8] This view continues to be manifested by the vow of celibacy taken by nuns and priests; by the popular male habit of according extra status to ‘deflowering’ a virgin; by popular porn (by men for men) which exhibits women in childish, innocent, virginal costume and character; and by popular ‘kiddie’ porn (also by men for men) which exhibits children as sexually desirable—all of which implies that the state of virginity is something special, an added bonus.

[9] Furthermore, the state of motherhood may be pure, but the physical experience of it, childbirth, is not: consider the ‘purification rites’ I had to undergo (Luke 2:22) even though I had just given birth to the son of God!

[10] Peter, for instance, made some dogs talk; he also raised the dead, and flew (The Acts of Peter, Chapter 9). John, another example, controlled the bedbugs that were bothering him one night (The Acts of John, Chapter 61).

[11] Like my existence before Christ’s birth, my existence after his youth also becomes unimportant—it’s as if I was his mother only for the first ten or fifteen years. Even he seems to have thought that: at first he simply wouldn’t acknowledge me as his mother—I was the same to him as anyone else who followed God (Mark 3:31-35); later, he had the hurtful ingratitude to call me ‘woman’ (John 2:4)—not ‘Mom’, not ‘Mother’, not even ‘Mary’.


According to Christian mythology, God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to save us by dying for our sins. Mary (a virgin, wife of Joseph) was chosen to be the mother, and impregnation occurred without sexual intercourse—thus the ‘virgin birth’. (The ‘Immaculate Conception’ is usually thought to refer to this conception of Christ, but actually it refers to the conception of Mary—see the first footnote.) This remarkable event led to suspicion on Joseph’s part; at that time, a man could kill his wife for adultery. However, an angel came to explain the miracle to Joseph, and all was well.

The figure of Mary (the ‘BVM’—’Blessed Virgin Mary’) is most prominent in the Roman Catholic sect of Christianity. She is ‘celebrated’ in the five ‘Joyful Mysteries’, which are often depicted in pictures: the Annunciation (when she is told she will be the mother of Jesus, Son of God), the Visitation (she visits a friend with the news), the Birth of Jesus (in a stable at Bethlehem), the Presentation (she presents Jesus in the temple), and the Finding in the Temple (when Jesus is ‘lost’, she finds him there). She is also ‘allotted’ two of the five ‘Glorious Mysteries’: the Assumption (she dies and is carried to heaven by angels) and the Crowning of Mary (she is crowned Queen, which gives rise to her power of intervention).

The bit about Jesus creating toys and turning children into goats is documented (see the Arabic Gospels, below); so is Mary’s ‘teletransportation’ feat (but unfortunately I can’t track down the source of my notes for this one) and her appearances at Lourdes and Fatima (see the encyclopedia citations, below).

A very common prayer is the ‘Hail Mary’: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” It is often given as penance (that is, one must say so many ‘Hail Marys’ to absolve oneself of one’s sins) and it is a major part of the Rosary (a string of beads one passes through one’s fingers, saying a certain prayer at each bead).

John 2:4.

Luke 1:28, 1:30, 2:22.

Mark 3:31-35.

Matthew 1:19.

The Arabic Gospel, The Apocryphal New Testament. tr. Montague Rhodes James. London: Oxford University Press, 1966. 68.

Protoevangelium of James, The Apocryphal New Testament. 39-49, 74.

The Acts of John, The Apocryphal New Testament. 242-243.

The Acts of Peter, The Apocryphal New Testament. 313.

The Columbia Viking Desk Encyclopedia, ed. William Bridgwater, New York: The Viking Press, 1953. 1:412; 2:736.

The Last Man on Earth explains everything

The Last Man on Earth explains everything.  But he’s too stupid, too infantile, and too self-centered, to know it.  Which is exactly why he explains everything.


1. He enjoys knocking things over, breaking things, destroying things.

He rams his grocery cart into a pyramid of cans.  He rolls bowling balls into a row of aquariums. (1)  Apparently delighted to hear the smash.  His reaction to blowing up one car with another is orgasmic.  What does that tell us?  Destroying things gives men pleasure. 


2. He wantonly pollutes the water. That is to say, he does not use resources responsibly. And that is to say, he exhibits extremely short-sighted thinking. 

He uses a swimming pool for a toilet. (2)  A metaphor if there ever was one.  In more ways than one.  (In addition to the despoiling of resources, it shows us how full of shit he is.)  (And that he is, quite literally, an asshole.)

He does this, perhaps, because he figures he can just move into a new house whenever he’s finished wrecking the one he’s in. (3)  Again, such a metaphor.  (We’ve used up our own water and oil, so let’s go to someone else’s country and use up theirs.)  (And when we’ve used up Earth, we’ll go live on the Moon.)

Is it that, like other infants, Phil doesn’t understand “All gone!”? (4)

Is it that he lacks the ability to imagine the long-term consequences of his behaviour?

And does he really think he’s the only one left?  What a special little snowflake he is.  Sure, he drove all over the country.  Calling out from an RV.  Real thorough.  Apparently, he didn’t consider the possibility that someone might be alive, but hurt or in other need of help that would require him to actually get out of the RV and walk around a bit.

But that’s Phil.  He thinks the world is all about him now.  (Actually, he’s probably thought that all along.)


3. He doesn’t really do much else. 

Well, he eats a lot of junk food.  And he drinks a lot of alcohol.


4. He thinks about himself.

He thinks about how lonely he is.  Which may seem paradoxical, given how incapable he is of thinking about other people.  But he’s incapable of thinking about what other people might need or want.  He’s lonely because of what he needs and wants.  (Which explains why, when he finds himself so utterly alone, his cry sounds more like the wail of an infant than an existential scream. [5])

No surprise, then, that


5. He considers half the human species merely as things to be fucked. 

Almost the first words we hear him say are about how much he misses women.  Since that comes right after apologies to God for masturbating so much, we know he misses women because he uses them to masturbate.  (Not because they might know the cure for the virus.)

And just in case we missed this, we see him choosing porn over food in the grocery store (6), and we see his lingering gaze at the female-bodied mannequin.

So that’s three times in the first six minutes we get this message: women are sexual objects for his use. (7)

When he dreams about a woman eagerly kissing him, the woman is, of course, gorgeous.  Why is it that unattractive men always think women will find them attractive?  More incredibly, why is it that unattractive men think attractive women will find them attractive?  Seriously.  How deluded do you have to be about your own attractiveness?

And again, just in case we missed this, when Carol introduces herself as “the last woman on Earth,” we see from the look on his face that he’s thinking he may have to break the bro pledge, “I wouldn’t fuck her if she was the last woman on earth.”

Phil thinks he’s the last man on Earth because some virus wiped out everyone else.  That may have been the proximate cause.  (Or just bad writing.)  It’s likely that climate change, due to melting polar ice and the consequent change in the ocean currents, due to increased greenhouse gases, due to relentless fossil fuel use and meat consumption, changed disease vectors which, along with the consequent disruption in the supply of goods and services (food, water, drugs; medical care) created a perfect storm for the virus to become a global epidemic.

He’s the last man on Earth because he gets pleasure from destroying things, because he doesn’t live responsibly, because he thinks only of himself, his own (primarily physical) needs and wants HERE! and NOW!—in short, because he’s disgustingly infantile.

I don’t find that at all entertaining, let alone insightful, so I stopped watching. (9) (10)



(1) And of course, he won’t clean up the broken glass.  But, well, he’s the last man on Earth, and, hey, if he doesn’t bother him…  So if, when, he discovers he’s not the last person on Earth, if, when, he discovers there are other people in the world, other people who might want to walk there without getting cut up, will he go back then and clean up the mess he made?  Of course he will.  And pigs will fly.

(2) It brings to mind the patch of garbage floating around in the Pacific Ocean that’s twice the size of the United States.  And all the industrial waste — 70% of it — that men (most likely) pour directly into our fresh water.

(3) The truly disgusting shape of the house he’s living in after a mere five months brings to mind that thing about if the history of the Earth were a year, life wouldn’t appear until March, multi-cellular organisms not until November, we’d show up on December 31, by late evening, we’d have well-developed brains—and then it’d take us a mere forty seconds to thoroughly trash the place.

(4) He glories in there being no rules or, more specifically, in there being no rule-enforcer: like a child, he hasn’t developed any rules of his own.

(5) That he continues to believe there’s a God also indicates just how child-like Phil is.  He may as well be writing Dear Santa letters.

(6) That pornographic magazines, magazines in which women are for the most part humiliated and degraded, is openly for sale, even in grocery stores, without disapproval by the writers or Phil is clear evidence of the rampant misogyny I’m pointing out.

(7) It’s pretty much what the writers think about women.  In the very first episode, we see there’s also a woman alive.  But is the series titled, then, The Last Man and Woman on Earth?  Of course not.  Women are not worth mention.  (Well, except, as fuckholes.)

(8) He’s certainly not thinking that she might be thinking “I wouldn’t fuck him if he were the last man on Earth.”

(9) Who does find that entertaining?  And why?

(10)  And does anyone find it insightful?  I mean, really, is any of this news?


Artificial Intelligence Indeed (Ex Machina)

So I first heard of the movie Ex Machina when I read a review (by Chris DiCarlo) in Humanist Perspectives—and was so disgusted that I wrote a letter to the editor.  Why?  Because the reviewer had revealed his own misogyny by failing to address the elephant in the room: the fact that the body the guy created for his AI was that of a female, a sexy female, a young female, is what—mere coincidence?  The picture they’d chosen to accompany the review (no doubt, the one chosen to promote the movie) showed her bound.  In fishnet.*  Her pose was right out of a BDSM scene.  Not worth mention? As I said in my letter:

That you failed to remark on any of this disturbingly telling.  It indicates just how much men have come to expect to see women as young and sexy.  Apparently it’s the norm, it’s normal, to pornify women, to present their bodies as sexually available.

Well, fuck you.

(Have you heard of sexism?  Feminism?  Check it out, why don’t you.)

The letter was not published.  The editor wrote back and said,

I don’t know if this changes anything, but Chris had nothing to do with the selection of photos for the review. That was done by a woman who helps me with the onerous task of laying out the magazine.

—a comment that opens up a whole ‘nother area worth investigation.  How is it that people think that if a woman does X, it must be okay?  This notion informs the currently popular misconception of feminism as indiscriminate female solidarity.  (As a commenter said recently in response to one of my posts on BlogHer, implying that I was not a feminist, “My feminist sisters support all woman in whatever choices they make…” At the very least, that stance would be rife with internal contradictions.)

But onwards.  Does it change anything?  No.  As long as the image is from the movie, then the movie is evidence of the normalized pornification of women, and DiCarlo still ignores that elephant in the room.

If the AI had been male, black-skinned, called ‘boy’, and given menial tasks and whipped, I suspect it would have been noticed.  I suspect DiCarlo would have made at least passing mention to the implied racism.

But—and I’ve just watched the movie.  Not only is “Ava” sexy woman-child (there’s even a ‘play dress up’ scene), the guy has a hall full of closets of similar AIs.  He’s not making AIs.  He’s making fucktoys.  He actually tells his (male) guest that they have fully functioning holes.  We see him using said holes for his apparent pleasure.  The guest realizes that the guy has created Ava to match his porn file.  (What the hell is a porn file?  Oh.)

All very unremarkable, apparently.

There was one promising line—the guy insists that consciousness is gendered.  But the claim isn’t really challenged.  And it becomes clear that he has come to that conclusion because his ‘source material’ (his ‘blue book’) for Ava comes from a net cast wide upon the world-as-is.  That is, he’s just grabbed all the sexist sociocultural conditioning in the world and built something from it.  No wonder, Ava.

Ex Machina is just another movie that objectifies women.  It just pretends to be about AI, but it’s not even a little bit past Asimov’s I, Robot.

Is it redeemed by the fact that Ava escapes, after killing the guy (and leaving the guest imprisoned, facing the same outcome)?  Not really.  Because she does so by sexual manipulation (“I want to be with you,” she tells the guest in her soft, little-girl voice.  “Do you want to be with me?”).  (“Yes,” I imagine the guest replying.  “I’d like the girlfriend experience, please.”)  That’s apparently what the script writer and director believe intelligence is, at least when female-bodied.

And she escapes into the forest wearing high heels—fuck-me heels.  Though, okay, that’s probably all that was available to her, and we do see that she takes them off.  But she doesn’t throw them away.  Once in the real world, does she choose instead Doc Martens, loose pants with pockets, a comfortable sweatshirt, and a jacket?  No.  She remains sexualized.  Artificial intelligence indeed.

*Right, okay, it was actually metal mesh, I get that.  And the similarity to fishnet is also mere coincidence?  (If you think so, you are too naïve for words.  Certainly too naïve to be writing movie reviews.)

(You know we’re laughing at you, right?  [When we’re not screaming at you.]  You who investigate artificial intelligence but are too stupid to recognize your own immaturity, you who have conferences on “The Future of Humanity” with all-male panels, you who publish special issues called “Speaking of Humanism” featuring nothing but male faces…)

a couple poems from UnMythed, by Chris Wind

from UnMythed, by Chris Wind




she unwraps the traditional gifts:
first, the brush-comb-and-mirror set,
pale pink marbling
with gilded edges—
they lie heavy in her hand;
then the jewelry box,
gold and cream
lined with velvet—
it plays “Fascination”

the new thirteen-year-old
hands them back to her mother and says
“Narcissus was a man.”


Narcissus was a man who fell in love with his own appearance—he spent all of his time gazing at his reflection in a pool of water.






I can see you sitting there
looking up to your love
watching his every move
through the sky

like the girl who waited
every day at the corner
so to follow him to school
I knew his timetable
where he sat for lunch
and which afterschools he had practice

gradually your life changes
from human to plant
till you are finally immobilized
by your adulation
and unrequited love

if only you’d known
he wasn’t a god at all
but just some bunch of hot air


Clytie was a young woman in love with the Sun god. She would sit outside all day and watch him. Eventually she turned into a sunflower.


The Waiting-for-the-Elevator Thing

So I’m sure this has happened at least once to every woman.  You’re standing in front of an elevator, waiting for it, and a man comes up and presses the button.

Oh is that what that’s for?  I saw the button, with an upward-pointing arrow, and I understand that elevators go up, but you know, I just never put the two together!!

I was just waiting for it to know that I was standing there.

I thought I might try to push the button, but then I thought, no, I’m just not strong enough.

So I was just standing there.

Or maybe I did push the button (you know, I just don’t know?), but the system doesn’t recognize buttons pushed by people with uteruses.  Which is why you had to push the button.  You’ve got a penis!

So good thing you happened to come by!  I could still be standing there!


Imagine that …

…all males had to have their DNA on file with the government.

…all newborns had to have their paternity established by law.

…all males discovered to be fathers had their wages garnished at the source to support the mother of the child for six years (assuming she would be the one to be with the child 24/7 for the first six years and could not therefore obtain employment and therefore financial self-support) and the child for 18 years (half-support from the 7th year).

…and condoms and vasectomies were illegal.

Where are the independent (unattached and not seeking attachment) hetero women?

I have lived a lone life.  For a long time, well into my thirties, I attributed that to my personality — I’m a loner, not a joiner.  I also attributed it to my work life — part-time, relief, occasional, and done-at-home, none of which tend to result in the development of collegial friendships.  And I noticed early on that any female friendships I had quickly dissolved when the other woman got married.  And especially when she had kids.  And friendship with men simply isn’t possible: time after time I tried, but it seems only gay men can accept a woman as a friend; straight men were always after a sexual/romantic relationship.  Or assumed I was.

And all this was okay mostly.  Between the minimum work-for-pay to pay the bills, the household chores typically done by the husband as well as those typically done by the wife (though very little of each, admittedly), the passion I had with being a composer and a writer (first literary, then academic, now comic) and a runner — there was no time for friendships, no time for social activities.  But now, now that finally my obsession with my self is smouldering…

Now I seek kin.  Well, that’s not exactly right.  I’ve always sought kin.  And mostly found them.  Dead.  Chopin, Socrates.  Or unreachable by fame.  Vangelis, MacKinnon.

Now I seek kin who are alive and accessible.  And find none.  I have too little in common with women who have spent the last thirty years married (and, worse, mothering).  And even less in common with the men who have spent the last thirty years married.  Lesbian women?  The few I’ve met, like straight men, seem to be seeking attachment.  And despite my non-attachment to a man and my very feminist views, my hormones are still — whenever they make their presence known — straight.

So where are the unattached straight women?  Am I the only straight woman to have gone through life solo?


The Soaps vs. The Game

While both ‘the soaps’ and ‘the game’ have been criticized as poor viewing choices, only the soaps have been dismissed as fluff.  However, a close examination reveals that, in fact, the soaps have more heft than the game.

In both cases, the central theme, and that which drives the action, is winning.  In the soaps, what the players are trying to win is money, power, love, and/or happiness.  These are pretty substantial goals.  In the game, however, the players are trying to win – the game.  Frankly, it verges on circularity (you play the game in order to win the game), which comes close to utter triviality.

And while both sets of players use strategy, often involving manipulation, the strategy of the soaps is considerably more complicated than ‘Go left, fake, then go right.’  In fact, I would venture to say that the soaps is to the game what chess is to checkers.

With regard to setting, the soaps have a bit of an edge: while a well-furnished room is the norm, at least the set does change.  (One has the well-furnished office, the well-furnished den, the well-furnished living room…)

With respect to dialogue, again the soaps have the edge: there is some.  (Actually, I expect the game players speak to each other too, but for some reason we never get to hear their dialogue; instead, we are privy only to a voice-over commentary, explaining the action, rather like a Greek chorus – as patronizing now as it no doubt was then.)

While the characters of the soaps are more gender-inclusive, the characters of the game are more race-inclusive.  (And in both cases, they’re rich.)  I’d call it a tie here.

As for plot, again I’d call it a tie: in both cases, the events are terribly predictable.  I’d venture to say one is hard put to distinguish one game from another or one soap from another – only the characters give it away.

In the cinematography category, the game is superior for its long shots, but the soaps are superior for their close-ups.  Again, a tie.  However, in the soundtrack category, the soaps walk away with the prize.

As for sex and violence, I’m afraid the soaps lead the game on both counts.  There is simply no sex in the game – unless you count the occasional ass-pat (but that is so very elementary, it hardly even counts as foreplay).  And while there is a lot more physical contact in the game, of a violent-seeming nature, and while injury must therefore be frequent, it is seldom permanent; in the soaps, however, people get hurt all the time, in rather long-lasting ways.  Death is even rarer in the game; not so in the soaps.

One might point out that the game is real, whereas the soaps are not, and on that basis alone claim victory for the game.  Unfortunately this very ‘advantage’ backfires: given the level of injury and death in the soaps, it’s to its credit that it’s not for real; in the game, however, real people get hurt.

Tally up the points and I rest my case: the soaps are pretty substantial stuff compared to the schoolyard play of the game.


Kids Behind the Wheel

The other day, I was walking on the gravel/dirt road I live on.  It’s a back road that might see a dozen cars in a day.  As one such car passed us, I noticed that a kid was at the wheel in dad’s lap.  Proud dad, happy kid.

What is it with that?  Why, of all the adult things, do parents push their kids into that one?  Mis-asked the question.  It’s not the parents, it’s the dads.  And usually, it’s their sons, not their daughters.

Given that men are worse drivers than women (ask the insurance companies – why do you think young males pay such a high premium?), perhaps it makes sense: boys need all the practice they can get.  But surely it would be better to take them to a go-cart track.

Proud dad, happy kid.  I get the impression it’s not practice.  Is it a rite of passage to manhood?  But women can, do, and should drive as well.  There’s nothing gender-specific about driving a car.  So why would it be a rite of passage to manhood?

Maybe it’s the vroom vroom that confuses men.  It’s a surrogate roar.  They think they’re intimidating when they make a lot of noise.  (Actually they’re just annoying.  As hell.)  And they want to be intimidating because – ?

Or, also, attendant with a roar, maybe their primitive brain triggers the production of adrenaline, and the adrenaline makes them feel good.  Perhaps that explains the appeal of the Indy.  And the adolescent males who take the mufflers off their trail bikes.

Or maybe it’s the speed that confuses them, makes them feel like they’re chasing prey (or fleeing predators) and again, their primitive brain produces feel-good adrenaline.

So why doesn’t their modern brain recognize this and veto the primitive response?  Noise and speed matter little to homo sapiens living in the 21st century.

Proud dad.  Happy kid.  Oh aren’t you the grown-up.  No, you’re not.  You shouldn’t be behind the wheel until you’re sixteen and then you should approach the task with fear and trembling.  Driving is not fun.  A car is not a toy.  One wrong move and you could kill someone.


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