Thursday, August 29, 2013

Invasive Maneuvers

Me being  me, I had to search for
one with braille
I had a dream last night I need to share  because, well, feminism.

I was in a bathroom, set up more like a women's locker room (there were, in fact, lockers and benches). While about to exit the stall, I heard a woman on the other side of the door say, "What are you doing here?" in a semi-frightened tone.

"Men's bathroom is full," a male voice said. "Principal said we could use this one." He sounded pleased with himself.

"Yeah," another male said, "it's not like we're going to cause any trouble." His tone was very, uh, insincere. 

My dream-self thought, "Aw, HELL no," and as I flushed the toilet, I undid my jeans (well, capris, but not that it matters too much) and pulled them down a little so the bright pink of my panties showed through the opening made by the button and zipper. I unlocked the door, jammed my thumbs in my poockets, and stepped out, doing  my best gorrilla impersonation, complete with kind of sticking  my jaw out a little as the first guy told a woman he liked her necklace in a way that makes my real-self's skin crawl as I think back on it, now- he obviously  wasn't talking about her necklace.

The two guys were standing right outside my stall. I very slowly looked both up and down, head to toe, letting my eyes hover over their crotches and shoulders. I did this until they looked confused.

"Hey ladies!," I shouted in my best cat-call tone, "there's MEN in the house!"

Taking my cue, a bunch of other women started whisling and ow-OWing and oo-la-laaing, and a crowd assembled. 

One said, in what I recognized as the first voice, "Yeah, that's right." He stared at the top of my panties as he went on to say, "And we like what  we see." 

"Honey," another woman said, "you have no idea." And she stared at his ass. 

The next few comments are kind of a blur, but basically, the other women helped me cat-call these guys and  make the same kind of comments to them that women get tossed at them all the time. Some highlights I do remember, though:

"I love your pecks, can I motorboat them?"

"That hair, it's silky enough to pull."
"It's a good thing you have permission to be in here, otherwise I'd have to force myself on you... in a citizen's arrest."

There  was also this one kind of hilarious moment where the second guy said to a gal in a hoodie, "And  what, are you planning on hooding me?"

Her response was, "Please, I wouldn't stick my hood in something that nasty, gonorrhea ain't my style."

There was also a moment at which I said, "Mmmm, I looove objectifying men!" and the other women cheered and whistled their agreement.

So then the next thing I knew, I and a bunch of the other  women were at group interview with some news crew in a classroom (because apparently I was back in high school?), and it seemed to be going okay. The interviewer, a dude in a suit, asked why I started the whole thing, and I kind of monologued at him. The  exact wording is gone, but  here's basically what I said, in conjunction with a remark  by the guy about unisex bathrooms.
"I use  unisex bathrooms all the time. This isn't about that. I use those when  I feel like  it. When I go into a women's restroom, it's because I want to be in a safe space, away from men. Sure, gender is a social construct, but so is the violence  against women that's so normalized in our culture. A women's restroom is like a safe haven from that. So I was enraged when two dudes came in and invaded that safe space. I mean, I get objectified the moment I step outside those bathroom doors, I don't need it in there, too. So I thought, why not show them why their arrogance is exactly why they shouldn't be there? Give them a taste of their own medicine?" 

Then at some point, Hoodie Woman was singled out, presumably for her "biting wit," and I added, "And I'm glad you handled it that way, especially."

"Whhy?" the interviewer asked.

"Because," I said, "given that the other guy  had been so overt in staring at my underwear and saying he  liked what he saw, I had absolutely zero expectations of him, and if she hadn't said something, I would have in order to avoid him making a tasteless Treyvon Martin joke."

The interviewer seemed flabbergasted. "You really think he'd do that."

"I had no reason not to."

"Well," the interviewer said, "that's the perfect chance to bring the two men in here," and he started to turn around and gesture, but I interrupted as a bunch of the other women  tenssed up around me.

"Stop right there!"

"I beg your pardon?" he said, confused.

"Are you seriously going to bring those two in there without  even asking if we're comfortable with it?"

"Well, I don't see why it's a problem?" His tone  made it sound like a question.

I sighed exasperatedly and said, "Because that would be  a total repeat of the bathroom. We were in a safe place, when some dude on high gave some other dudes permission to invade it, without even mentioning it to us. Right now, we're in what  was moments ago another safe place, where we were expressiong some deeply personal, sometimes traumatic stuff to you, and you, a dude, want to call in the same dudes that violated us before? How can you possibly think that's okay?"

"But aren't you the person that said you, quote, 'Love objectifying men?'"

"Wait," I said, 

"hold the goddamned phone. I see what's actually happening, here. You're intending to villify us, and make those two assholes out as the victims here, as if we all sought them out and bullied and intimidated them of our own design. Fuck that. They invaded our space with every intent to belitttle and objectify us and make us feel small. All we did was prevent that from happening by doing the exact shit they intended to do to us. If you want to call us the baddies, here, if you're going to defend them, you're doing the exact kind of stuff men do whenever they defend that kind of behavior toward women when they get called to the carpet. What, did they mean to compliment us? Make us feel good about ourselves? Let me guess, they love women,  so why would they evver be intentionally disrespectful  Why  is  it okay for men  to so overtly express their appreciation for women's bodies but women can't?"
"Well, isn't this situation different?" he said.

"You're Goddamned right it is. They came into our safe place with ill intent. On the authority of a male principal. These dudes have no idea what it's like to have those things said to them when they're alone at night, trying to get to their car or their home. They have no idea what it's like to be afraid to walk  their dog. They have no idea what it's like to have threats to their physical safety made casually, as if it isn't a big  deal, or to be told to calm down or they're overreacting if they express upset at it. They  have no idea what it's like to have their own safe place invaded like that- because when the fuck was the last time you heard of some executive order to let women use a men's restroom when the women's is overcrowded? How often do you see women's restrooms with lines out the door and men's almost empty? If a woman went in there when it had a bunch of men in it, she'd be shamed, possibly even sued or something by some fanatical MRA afraid she was going to cut off his penis. So maybe we assumed the worst of them off the bat, but a man would assume the worst of a woman in his restroom, and besides, the way they were talking, as if they owned the place, they  gave no indication they  just wanted to do their business and get out."

"But you showed them your underwear, didn't you?"

"Right, so that gives them cause to treat me and any other woman like shit?  Then I had every  right to treat them like shit, since one of them had on a tank top that showed way  too much arm for polite company, and the other had one too many buttons undone on his shirt. Please, spare me. You've heard of rape culture, haven't you? Or slut shaming? You wanna call me a tramp for having the top of my underwear exposed, then call them tramps for showing too much skin."

"But there were a dozen of you and only two of them."

"Good. Now they have an inkling of what it's like for us every Goddamned day. Because women feel vastly outnumbered because the system is bent in a direction that leaves us at the bottom and isolated. We feel helpless, scared, and when a place we usually feel safe gets violated, we'll defend it. Because we aren't alone. We're all in one."

And that's pretty much it.

Yeah, I know, it got a little corny, there, but hey. I'm kind of a walking bottle of high fructose syrup sometimes. 

I'm glad I defended our actions, but the thing is, I think, of anything in this scenario, that is the least likely thing to happen. I'm pretty sure if some dudes did go into a women's restroom and they got cat-called and stuff like that, they'd definitely get portrayed as victims of some awful, awful bullying campaign. And the women involved would be portrayed as deplorable, horrible people, and not given a chance to defend themselves. Sure,  objectification of anyone  is bad, but guys going into a space filled entirely with women and intending to be douchebags would be defended by society, and if those women tried to defend themselves, they'd be depicted as the ones doing wrong. 

The fact that the dudes started off as rude is important,  here- there's this horrible tendency for lewd men to get defensive when called out, as if women should thank them for painting scenarios of assault in their heads. When women say something back in defense, they're a "bitch" or a "skank" or whatever else- we have no right to respond, we're supposed to, literally, lie back and take it.

That's rape culture.  

And I gotta say, dream-Me is pretty  damn clever- the thing with showing my panties was perfect, really. Because as indicated by my monologue, yeah, one of the dudes was in a tank top that exposed his muscles very overtly, and the other guy had a button-up shirt on that was half undone, exposing his pecks and part of his stomach muscles. Yes, the dudes in my dream were attractive- flat-out gorgeous, really. But that isn't the point. It would be entirely inappropriate for me to shout something at them if I passed them on the street, but they had entered a women's restroom on the pretense of leering and staring at the women in there. And they had no shame in it, were open about it. So I was criticized for having my jeans partially open, but nothing was said to them about how they were both only partially dressed. The double standard there is exactly the kind of double standards in reality. When women are objectified, their wardrobe  and even why there were in the space in the first place is questioned- but we're supposed to feel sorry for dudes with ill intent. 


I have stuff to do, but let me end by saying I hope that last part in my last speech matters. I'm so sick of slut shaming and double standards and being afraid to walk River by myself. Society needs to change, and men that think it's okay to whistle and say they want to pull my hair need to be put in their place. Not necessarily by being scared shitless, but at least by  being made to realize their behavior is damaging. And that they're huge assholes for thinking it's okay.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Oh My Fucking God (of War)

I'm stuck in God of War, and fucking pissed as fuck. Why? Because the last fucking level is nothing but a bunch of rotating spike  things you either have to walk  across or climb up.

It's God of WAR, not God of Spikey Death Traps!!! But I've been trapped in the last level for a total of over two hours. I have it stuck on the "YOU ARE DEAD" screen right now. Because I beat one of the above spikey walls, but I keep dying on another, and the checkpoint is in between, and the nearest safepoint is quite a bit before the first rotating column. So. If I turn the system off, I lose the first one, so I feel just as trapped as Kratos, the dude you play as.

And spare me any thoughts on how this proves I'm not really a gamer or just not good  enough. These fucking things aren't about how good you are at video games, they're about abysmally monotonous game mechanics and a system setting you up to fail. Honestly, when the only time I've ever had the game offer for me to change to easy mode happens because of stupid challenges and traps like this, even though the mode only affects combat, there's a problem.

I was hoping to be able to give this game a good review, but shit like this makes me wary of going higher than a 6 on a scale from 1-10.

I mean, don't get me wrong, for a PS2 game, the in-game graphics are actually pretty fantastic, and so is the world design. But for fuck's sake, it shouldn't be this hard to push a box around or get through a room because of rolling blades. I've died more times because of booby traps than I have in combat, and that's bad. The dudes making this game made  the challenges too difficult. What's the point in offering to make it easier if that's not even going to distill what keeps killing me?

It's all fun and games until someone loses a hand.

The combat has been good, though- I've even come across a few battles where I know I was supposed to have magic left (yay online walkthroughs with tips), but  didn't, yet still hacked and slashed my way  through.

But the fact that I keep relying on the walkthrough is a bad sign, too. There have been times where I've spent nearly an hour wandering between the same two rooms  or something before resorting to the online guide. Not that I think they're inherently immoral, but I'm usually pretty adamantly against walkthroughs because I feel like I should be able to complete a game by, you know, playing the game and  not relying on an outside source (even if it's from the game company itself). Yet for this game, I really felt like I had no choice. And yes, I think this speaks poorly for its overall gameplay. I should be able to get through all the rooms without seeking an outside source for help, but without it, I wouldn't have made it through the first level. 

Also, it's a hack-and-slash game, which in itself is  fun,  and I got some sick pleasure out of the couple  battles where killing peasants actually gives you health and magic back. But this game  is definitely a game for dudes, by dudes. Case in point:

God of War also means  god
in the sack, apparently
At the very beginning of the second  level, you wake up in bed  with some prostitutes that ask you not to leave, so you jump on the bed and the "camera" focuses on that vase to the right. Then the game prompts you to rotate the directional joystick in various ways, left, right, left, right, each time the ladies making pleasured sounds while the vase shakes. Eventually it has you keep rotating as the ladies make sounds like  they're cumming, and the vase falls off the little side table.

And it powers you up.

And you can do this more than once in a row. Seriously, I stuck around  just to see how many times it'd let me, and I eventually just got fed up with it. 

I just... I mean... Really?

And there's a part where you're swimming around a bunch, and you basically have to rape little water sprites (Poseidon's daughters, that part is made explicit, so they're definitely female- plus the voices, and the boobs). No, sorry, you "embrace" sneaking up on them... and they struggle against you at first, then go limp, as if they've given up the fight. 

So yeah, it's objectifying and rapey, too. YAY!

The story is okay. You're a dude that wanted to be a badass in war, so you ask Ares to help you. He gives you the Blades of Chaos, some awesome sword things on chains, the chain parts embedded into your arms. Some shit happens, you decide to say, "FUCK YOU, Ares!" to get your soul back or whatever, so now you're sort of Athena's puppy dog, running around doing what she wants in order to save Athens from the terrible Ares. Gasp! Just like in regular mythology, the gods use mortals for their whiney sibling rivalry!

So you get stuff from other gods/goddesses along the way. Athena gives you "Rage of the Gods," essentially like the star in Mario Kart- you become invincible  and your hits are worth more damage while it lasts; there's a fancy sword from Artemis; Poseidon gives you badass lightning; Venus gives you the "Gorgon's Stare" which turns baddies into stone (which you then can smash into bits and pieces). My favorite is Hades- he gives you fucking souls that eat the baddies for you, and even the lowest level for them is so fucking awesome and does serious damage (so no wonder one use takes all your magic juice). And the lamest is Zeus, bolts of lightning you're supposed to throw at enemies but I find take too long and aren't strong enough (unless you're going to waste time powering them up, I imagine). Hades and Poseidon's magics are the coolest and most useful in combat, and Artemis's sword is hella awesome. The Rage thing comes in handy, but it takes a long time to build up the power for it.

The design is nice, too. As in the worlds within each level are all richly complex and look pretty. Lots of detail- it may be monotonous to some, but I actually really like the bits where I have to do something like  ascend a spiral staircase. I mean,  that shit takes effort, and it looks really good. So props to them on that. 

So you run around  killing things, and you collect three kinds of energy, red, which powers up your stuff, blue, which fills your  magic meter, and green, which is health points. It actually reminded  me  a LOOOT of Onimusha  Warlords, a series of games in which you're running around killing things and collecting their souls in order to, well, power up, magic up, or heal up. And  hold the phone, which one came first? I'll give you a hint: It's not the main game I'm talking about, here. Hmmmmm.....

(Sidenote: I should repurchase those. I loved those games.)

My pseudo-classicist in me is angry because they're getting a lot of the monsters wrong- like  having a million minotaurs and cyclopses, as opposed to one of each, for example; yeah, I know there was more than one gorgon, but  not that many. And there was only one Cerberus, not ten thousand. And he didn't go from puppy-sized to full-sized, either. Nor did he rotate and knock  shit over like Sonic the  fucking Hedgehog and spit fire.

So anyway, these gorram rotating spikes.

What. The. Fucking. Fuck.

I mean, seriously, what makes them so hard to get around is the fact that you use the joystick for movement, and it's really easy for the controller to think you're pressing it differently than you are- it keeps making me jump sideways when I'm trying to jump upward, or the other way around, or it'll make  me jump diagonally. And I'm just mad as Hell. There was another part earlier in the level that had me trapped for a long time- the spikes were instead on logs you had to walk across, and you had fucking harpies chasing you as you were going, too. I know I skipped some chests filled with souls to power up in order to get through that part, but I got so tired of those fucking logs, I didn't even care. I didn't want to die because I was being greedy. Here, it's not like that at all. I just can't get high enough to escape these gorram spikes.


So yeah. Not a very happy review, and yeah, it's written out of anger. Still, prolly only a 6/10. Between the rapey  stuff, and the fucking difficulty  to just get through a room sans combat  for fuck's sake, even the lovely graphics and world design can't save this game from ire. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Simplicity Matters: 'Journey' Review

As I start  writing  this review  of Journey, the credits  are still rolling and the music  is playing. My eyes are a little watery, and my heart feels full, but with a sense of longing. As if I need to play it again.

And oh, look, now I have the option to do so. It's as if the creators knew their players would feel that way when finished.

I'm going to try  to explain the experience of playing this game, but  honestly, I think the best way to understand it is to just play it yourself. 

Note, I'm on a PS3, so yeah.

Anyway. There will obviously be SPOILERS, but this  game doesn't really have, uh, plot, so much as, well... story or, yeah, JOURNEY.

If I was to give you a theme for this review, it's the beauty through its simplicity that this game accomplishes.

Wow. No words in-game, none at all. Just striking imagery and exceptionally poignant music make Journey an incredible interactive work of art. As has been somewhat popular recently, I gotta say, "Oh, the feels! THE FEELS!" But what  this game is and gives you, does to you, it'
s certainly more than a feeling. (I  had to, sorry.) This game is and  gives an experience.

As you wander the desert in search of the shining mountain peek, you encounter various entities and objects to which you must sing. Some are pieces of cloth that give you semi-flying powers, some are large birds made of cloth that do the same, some are GIANT birds  (more like whales) made of cloth that do the same, and some are paths or shrubs or... seaweed-type things... You sing to them, both you and they light up, and you can fly. It's a really lovely game mechanic- you're wandering on  your own, but you can't do it by yourself. You don't gain power-ups that enable you to jump or float higher or more. You have to interact with the creatures around you. There are even jellyfish-type cloth creatures floating around that you bounce around on and with as you try to go higher in some areas.

The first time I encountered the big birds, I wasn't sure what they were, and they seemed frightened of me- this  made me sad, and I said aloud, "Don't run away! I'm lonely!"  Then I freed one from a cage in front of a few others, and they became playful and helpful, showing me the correct way to go once all their companions had been rescued.

And the more you sing to the things around you, the more you see, the more they do, the more you gain from the experience. Not in a points kind of way, but the enviornment gets enriched- things light up, paths clear, objects become cleaner, artwork is revealed. As you travel through the ruins of the civilization you've found yourself literally on top of, you uncover more of it  as you sing more.

So music plays a role in that sense- it's what you use to accomplish the goal, reaching the glowing summit of a mountain off in the distance.

But the background music takes the prize for aesthetic. My bias toward the cello (former cellist, HOLLA!) not withstanding (lots of cello solos), it's fantastically composed and designed. The main theme is rather simple and somewhat haunting, but  they did a fine job of sprucing and spicing it up by adding wondrous counter-melodies to fit the moods of different scenes. Because, to my surprise, there were actually a number of rather scary  moments, and some sad, too. And the strings going on in the game pull the ones of your heart right along for the ride, magnifying the scenes incredibly.

I'm partial to strings, and I don't recall any brass, and only a little woodwinds- which keeps it rather ephemeral and airy. And suitable to my tastes, while also suitable the game perfectly- the desert landscape of the game lends itself to a limited number of layers in the music, and they definitely held true to that throughout. It's never cheesy, always supportive and supplemental. 

I mentioned feeling lonely before. It's definitely a draw. Like I said,  your progress depends on how much you interact with the environment. And also, you have the ability to interact with other players that are online playing at the same time as you- but again, no words, all you can do is sing at each other. I ran into a few people along my way, and some of them came across as more receptive to companionship than others- conveying this through the tone and speed of their notes. Fast and somewhat harsh cued me to stand down, while slow and light told me they were cool with some tagalong time. While it's possible to go through most of the game with another player (or, I imagine, more) in a semi-cooperative fashion, I didn't have any companions that lasted very long.

The most memorable one was toward the end for me. The final level is in snow, blizzard conditions, and you have to hide behind rocks and tombstone-type things to avoid gusts of winds. The other player and I ran from rock to rock together for a few minutes, and it was a shared moment of bonding and struggle that, had it been scripted, would have just felt corny and contrived- but the fact that the two of us did it organically made it exceptionally powerful and real for me.

Interestingly, when you beat the game, you're given a list of all of the people you had met along the way. I wish I knew which of those people had been the one from the snow. I felt genuinely sad I didn't know.

I've heard of how players have discovered unconventional ways of getting through different levels, ways that  depend on coordinating  with at  least one other player because, say, lots of flight is necessary and there aren't any sources for it, other than meeting with/being near another player. How wondrous, to think that two players can come up with a plan together without using  any words, just the notes they sing and the way they move around one another. So while again, there is much isolation, interaction with and connection to other players can make the experience even more nuanced and fantastical. 

I can't not at least bring  up the visual quality of the game, too. It's positively stunning. And again, simplistic. But the detail is impeccable- sand that reflects like water, the flow of your character's cape or all of the cloth animals and plants, the structures you run in and through and that you see in the background... There's so much texture and detail, even though the spreads are still rather barren. There are a few different  color pallets, and they too help set the mood in the different scenes. The way the cloth creatures look is incredible. And there are also these huge semi-mechanistic dragon things you have to run from a few times that have this sort of timeless/ every-culture look about them- they're made of just vertebrae, a skull, and wings, but they move as if made of liquid and so realistically/believably that they genuinely freaked me out.

There's one sequence where you're sort of sand  surfing on your feet through the ruins  of one of the cities of this ancient civilization- well, okay, so you do that sort of thing a few times (and every time, it's thrilling and impeccably joy-inducing), but one in particular struck me  as so beautiful, I had to pause a few times just to admire it. The camera is to your side instead of behind you as you're on a balcony-type thing, and  the sun is setting  on the side facing the camera- everything is rather backlit and has an incredibly striking gold sheen to it, and the way the shadows play with your own silhouette and the columns  and railings and the windows is so engulfing that it's almost jarring when the camera goes back to normal and behind you. I just loved that sequence, and I'd go back and play it over and over again. 

This game definitely immersed me in a full range of emotions. And I realize the experience may have been heightened because I'm still grieving over a number of things, and still dealing with others, etc. But regardless, I experienced loss, redemption, wonder, fear, sorrow, and almost piercing joy- sometimes all within a few moments of one another. 

I'm finishing this the next morning, but I'm about to turn  the TV on and play through again. 

I give Journey 10/10.* It's no wonder it took home "Game of the Year" on multiple lists. Journey is proof that you don't need an overly complex story, flashy special effects, or a bunch of violence-focused action in order to create a beautiful, moving, high-quality video game. If I was alone in this opinion, there wouldn't be people replaying it over and over. 

*Which is kinda cool, given  my last review was a 10/10- I know  how to pick 'em? Heh. I have a stack of games left unplayed I need to dig into. Good thing I'm not taking classes right now....

Friday, August 23, 2013

Wide-Eyed Wonder


I'm in a really rough period. All sorts of stuff I don't want to burden anybody with (and prolly can't be entirely honest about because my unfortunate motto is, "I don't get mad, I get hurt," so I'd prolly end up saying something I regret). But I know it has me  kind  of on edge. I was crying off and on all morning.

So I thought, okay, I'll watch some more Torchwoodhaving started it for serious (as in with the intent of finishing it) for the first time recently. And this episode, "Random Shoes" makes me  cry so hard at the end, I can barely  breathe because the dead guy, Eugene Jones (a name I think they could have done better with- dude's an uber-nerd, and they picked one of the archetypal names for him, "Eugene"- screams broken glasses and crooked teeth) spends the whole episode (which begins with his spirit looking  on at the car accident  that took his life) retracing his last couple weeks to remember that he died running away from his two best mates that were beating  him up over an "alien eye" they wanted to steal from him and sell, his estranged father was an even bigger loser than he thought, his little brother basically hated him, the woman he was in love with barely realized he existed, and his death pretty much destroyed his mother. I started sobbing during the funeral scene when  he makes a joke (he sort of narrates the episode) about how few people went to his funeral. And I really lost it during  a voiceover thing at the end of him saying you should enjoy life because it's so "amazing" but it ends really fast. But there's absolutely nothing for him to enjoy or be happy about in his life, and it just felt entirely contrived and pointless for me, like the writers shoe-horned it in because they realized how gorram depressing the whole episode is. 

And I think it just got me so worked up because I felt like, My God, this dude had such a terrible end,  and it was all just so unfair- he was selfless, smart, funny, and sweet, but people just constantly let him down and hurt him. And the writers made him out as some naive moron for still believing in something, the alien that supposedly would want their eye back. They tease you for a second when he goes solid long enough in the last minutes of the episode to stop someone from getting hit by a car- and everyone that was at his funeral (all ten) sees him, including his poor, emotionally destroyed mother. And then he gets sucked up into that stupid white shining light and is gone. It's just terribly unfair. 

Generic name, generic white light-
all-around depressing.
And I find  that extremely sad because notice it's nobody here on Earth he believed in or trusted. He had to indulge in the notion that an alien would want to meet him someday in order to keep going. Why?

Because people suck. That's why.

People let you down. They hurt you. They betray your trust. They break your heart. Abandon you. Lie to you. Suck you dry and give nothing  back (or if they do give anything, it's not remotely the same- like you give your kidney, they give you five bucks of Monopoly money). 

I wish I could have wide-eyed wonder like Eugene's for something, but I don't. Not anymore. I just can't.

This whole people-let-you-down thing is precisely why I have my weird unitarian/deist/whatever imaginary friend I've talked about before. I use it as a crutch because people are the reason for my worst pain, and people are thus precisely not going to help me. Do I even believe in it enough to blame it for my troubles? No. I blame people. So does it really provide me any comfort? No. And yet this pseudo-faith of mine is one of the reasons I'm hurting right now. Not because I know it's a crutch or whatever, but it's being used against me by... wait for it... another person.

Go figure? Yeah. Irony. If my life really was a scripted dramedy, it'd be dramatic irony, because my character prolly wouldn't have actually made the connection. As it's real life and I'm entirely aware, I imagine it's more situational. Such as this:

Besides, reality is quite often better than fiction. And what funner stories to tell my children and grandchildren than about the time I started having chest pains over a cheesy British sci-fi show?


I'd love to believe in something, have  a dream. I used to. I had dreams, big dreams, but life and people have given me every reason to give up on them. So I can't have wide-eyed wonder. I'm too jaded.

Right now.

Because I know myself. Once the storms have settled and I've cried enough, I'll be... okay. I don't remember the last time I felt whole (well, I do, but once reality set in, I knew it was a farce, and then just hated myself even more for thinking it was real
), but I can feel happy. I think more people are like that than are willing to admit- we need to be sad before we can be happy. I haven't had much time to process what's been going on in my life, and I guess today was a day for that. And I'll prolly need more days like this before I feel ready to dream again, and then perhaps a few more before I try to make whatever my new dream is into something real.

So I guess now I sound kind of like Eugene. But a big difference between the two of us  is that he never lost his wide-eyed wonder, and mine keeps coming and going. I'd say like  the tide, because that sounds pretty, but it's more like a yo-yo. Because I'm terrible at yo-yo-ing. The thing leaves my hand far too roughly, and I have a hard time getting it all the way back to my hand more often than not. In fact, it usually takes a long process of winding the string back around the thing in order for it to be in my hand again. 

But it'll get better.

Wait! I got it! I'll believe in Harvey Dent!!!!

But seriously, folks. Dawn will come. I believe in that, I guess. That I'll feel better, sooner or later. I just need my crying moments and a chance to lick my wounds. 

What sucks  is that I usually don't go seeking out the dreams. They sneak up on me gradually, and I've frequently exhausted myself trying to resist them. And then I give in. And then I try to make them real. And then I get hurt.

So either I'm doing something wrong, there's something wrong with  me, or I just can't seem to meet people that won't end up killing my dreams when said people are directly involved.

Ugh, okay, so I've done  enough babbling/emotional vomitting.  Here's a dancing puppy.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

On Love and 'Firefly'

(and also for Serenity)

So I'm totally a Browncoat- prolly not a shocker (although I don't berate or negatively judge anyone  that doesn't think Firefly shouldn't have been cancelled). While traveling last week (a bus to Seattle), this song came up on my MP3 player, and by golly, I thought it was perfect for the two unresolved love stories from Firefly:

Perhaps just a little more  form Kaylee's perspective (the "like a child" line is why), but basically, the general idea is sound for all four characters in those subplots- they obviously do think about the other person and desire them, dream about them, etc., but it doesn't get worked out by the time we reach the last episode they aired*.  So all the questions don't get directly answered- it's insinuated everyone in these entanglements is doing what Sarah is asking about each other, but we're never given confirmation. And there's never any idea of whether Sarah gets an answer from the object of her affection by  the song, just as the show leaves us hanging. So what she's asking, as well as how she never gets an answer, both make  it perfect.

(Also, the style fits the music from the show to a T, eh????)

Love is a major theme in the show, though, and outside those romantic messes. Think about it.

The crew loves Mal. Aside from when Kaylee says  it flat-out, it's still obvious. For example, when  Jayne gives River and Simon up to the feds, his guilt when it's all said and done doesn't come across as guilt at having betrayed them, but rather at having betrayed Mal. Jayne and every other person on that ship cares for Mal deeply, and while, "Because he's my captain," or the like gets tossed around a lot, you know there's more going on when watching them- they trust him and do what he says because they love him. Another example, Zoe- the bond  they  share from the war means their feelings run deep, like the blood they both spilled together on the battle field. Simon may not really seem too sure about his feelings for Mal, but he and the rest of the crew feel very deeply for Mal, regardless. And some of this, I think, comes from how they also know that...

Mal loves his crew. He's exceptionally protective of them, and you could argue that's just his job, sure. Yeah, okay, but that would be far too flat for even a minor recurring character on a Joss Whedon show, let alone the main character in a series by him. There are far too many times where he shows genuine distress at the thought of any one of them being  in danger, or comes to their defense. Romantic feelings for Inara aside, there are a few times, particularly in "Shindig," where he comes to her defense when others would insult her for being a Companion, which is very much the way family or close friends are with one another- it's okay for me to make fun of my siblings and call them assholes, but nobody else had better do it, too, otherwise they face my wrath. And his loyalty to River and Simon is telling, too- they're fugitives of a far more severe degree than he and the rest of the crew was before they came aboard, and his consistent support of them and the danger he puts  himself in time and again for their sake says he cares about them in more than a captainly capacity. Now I understand you could argue against this by citing all the times he threatens members of his crew, but you could also use that as evidence in support of his love for them, too, so it goes both ways.

Jayne and Kaylee are like Wonder Twins. Seriously, in some of the extras and in the ten year anniversary special, this gets discussed by the cast and crew. They have an adorable brother-sister thing going on that gets shown in a few ways, like how they tease each other but smile the whole time (except that one time Mal kicks Jayne out during dinner). Or when Jayne is sitting outside the sick bay as Simon is operating on Kaylee. What makes this special is they're such an odd pairing. The mega-macho, kind of bloodthirsty, greedy Jayne with the spunky, ever optimistic, gentle Kaylee. I mean, Jayne masturbates with his guns, while Kaylee can't even fire a pistol, and they're that close to one another. It's just a great bit of relationship building one wouldn't necessarily expect. Joss is good at that, though- they aren't the only ones in the show like  that, such as...

Jayne and Shepard are bros. C'mon, they're work-out buddies! It's hilarious and awesome, again, because they're pretty  much opposites. You could say that's just because they're there, but I think Jayne genuinely cares about Shepherd. This is pretty evident when they show up on Haven (in the movie) and he shows his gentler side with the kids and by playing guitar (swoon- I do love a macho man that can be nice to kids... and plays guitar? Oh dear...), and then in how upset he is when Shepherd is killed (and when Mal suggests they use the bodies of everybody there to turn their ship into a Reaver one). And Shepard genuinely cares about Jayne, too, if only because he's friggin' Shepherd Book. It's sort of his job to love everybody, but again, I think this runs much deeper, such  as...

Inara and Shepherd are another odd couple. The scene where he comes to her, essentially asking forgiveness, says it all. That sets the groundwork for them, and while they don't really have much  time onscreen alone with one another, any time they do, it's obvious they share a complex bond and find comfort in one another in ways the other crew can't do with them (or each other). Inara has an exceptionally close tie to...

Kaylee and Inara are another sibling setup. They hang out together on the ship. Inara does Kaylee's hair in a very older sister/ motherly way. Kaylee notices when Inara is hurt  and tries to make  her feel better. Theirs is pretty straight-forward, but sweet- you can tell they need one another. Inara needs someone she can relax with, and Kaylee needs someone to cuddle with. It's totally sensical. They have their little girl-time moments, like when...

Kaylee is like River's older sister, too. River freaks Kaylee out a few times, but in the end, she still tries and shows that she cares- playing jacks with her, for example. Kaylee does her best to get along with River, even though she sees River do some pretty weird/frightening things in a few episodes (poor Kaylee...). And even though Kaylee clearly has feelings for River's brother, Simon, I think there's more to it than Kaylee trying to impress him. Still, you can't deny that...

Simon and River love each other kind of dangerously. This gets said pretty bluntly by the Operative in the movie. But we never really needed his exposition to hit  us with a hammer of subtlety- it's obvious. Simon gives up a career as a surgeon to rescue  his  sister. He goes on the run with her, and he certainly seems entirely resolved to let someone die in order to protect her,  even if  it means going against his creed as a healer. And River, she'd probably revert to super-soldier mode if she thought Simon needed it- Hell, that's pretty much what she does at the end of the movie when she locks herself in the room with the Reavers (holy poop, that slow-mo of her fighting them, then the shot of when it's over and then the wall blows in and the Alliance soldiers find her... I mean... wow... that's why I named my dog after her!). Simon and River love each other so much they'd die for one another. And I'm sad to say it's refreshing that Joss never implied anything incestuous between them, but it is- under a less skilled hand, it would have felt icky to watch them together. But instead, it's painfully beautiful. Just like...

The love all of the characters have for the ship. Serenity the ship is a character with no lines, but lots of personality. And I think every single human crew member, at least once, says something about how they care for the ship, shows affection in some way. The times where Kaylee speaks to her are exceptionally poignant. Serenity is  the heart and soul of the series, and  it's obvious anyone  working on her loves her deeply, including...

The crew behind the scenes. As in the writers, producers, and of course Joss himself. He said his heart was broken when the series was cancelled,  and  that even making the movie couldn't quite heal that. And I dig. Again, extras point to when the series was canceled- the funeral scene at the end of "The Message" was really everyone, cast and crew alike, saying goodbye to the show. Even the music in that scene, it was a sendoff, filled entirely with love and devotion. And their willingness to continually come back to it and talk about it- having their own Irish wakes again and again over the series... That's not really normal. Not in a bad way- rather, it demonstrates how Firefly was far, far more than just  a paycheck for every person involved in the creative process of the show. Joss says that when he writes shows, he tries to write the construction of families- and I'd say he definitely accomplished that onscreen, but it's pretty evident he  did  that offscreen with Firefly, too. As awesome and cult-following-ee Buffy and  Angel were, you don't really hear nearly as much  about big cast and crew reunions, you don't get anniversary specials for those shows. When Joss goes to cons, he goes for Firefly. And that has a lot to do with...

The fans love the show somewhat viscerally, at times. The fandom of Browncoats can get pretty loud. But they do good things- that Wiki article references some of the charitable causes Browncoats work for across the U.S. And it all comes from their devotion to and love for the series. It connects with people on a level far beyond your average TV show. And I think, unlike some franchises, it's well-deserved. People relate to these characters not because they're flat or a Mary/Barry Stue they can insert themselves into, but  because they're so rich and  deep and have real qualities we can all relate to. I think it's common for Browncoats to, at least subconsciously, figure out which character they're most like (or most unlike) and then grow attached to that character or couple of characters. I mean, I think I'm a cross between Kaylee and River- hopeful, bubbly, and kind of naive, but also experienced, protective, and a little broken. And that makes me love those two almost as if I've met them and have known them for ages- again, I named my dog after one. I'm not weird, I'm not abnormal for this. It's just how Firefly fans operate- we love it the way  we'd love a real person. 

I think Firefly teaches us the truth about love: It can be both beautiful and dark, uplifting and burdensome, delightful and painful. I think the most important lesson Firefly teaches us- through the characters and through the fans loving the show- is that a love that's worth it isn't easy. Love is hard, you have to work for it. Simon has to fight to keep River safe; Mal has to control his own emotions in order to protect the crew; we fans have suffered  the loss  of the series and relive its cancellation every time we close our DVD/BluRay/Netflix/etc. after watching the last episode; etc. But we keep on loving it, because damnit, however painful the reality may be, the joy we get of reliving those moments with the characters and Serenity, ostensibly with Joss, make  it very, very much worth it. Love isn't perfect, but Firefly itself is okay with that, proud of it- and we, Browncoats, are, too. 

*I'll admit, it also fit my own personal life for a while, although I was quicker to realize  it about Firefly- I didn't make the connection about my own life  until after talking to the object of my affections about my feelings. When I was "told true," it didn't turn out very well for me. Go figure.  Maybe I'll wax philosophically/introspectively later. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

"Washington's Football Team"- Why 'Slate' is Awesome

I'm just going to lead with the punchline: Words matter, and choosing what and how you say whatever you're trying to say can unwittingly encourage discourses of oppression and marginalization. 

So Slate ran a piece today, announcing they'll no longer refer to the Washington Redskins  as the Redskins, but rather say things like, "Washington's NFL team" and the whatnot. I'm kind of glad their editor suggested they  replace "Redskins" with  "Griffons," too- that's actually something I've thought of in passing a few times, and brought up with people in person (that, you know, didn't see what the big deal is or were more focused on the fact that it probably won't change any time soon, so why think about future names, than even the possibility of a change) (yeah, assholes).

It's prolly no surprise I'd be totally into this idea from Slate, of simply refusing to use "Redskins" (unless quoting something else of necessity). Refraining from using negative language is just as important as calling out and naming forms of subordination. Doing either is the opposite of sitting on your arse. 

And I think that, like the editor says, the meanings we give to things change over time. So while sure, "Redskins" may have been nonoffensive back in the day, the term is offensive now. And  even though the logo hasn't been too caricature-ee, the use of the imagery is still a form of cultural appropriation, something else I've written about before.  I get more upset by seeing this  guy than Washington's logo, even though the name of the team is less offensive in and of itself. 
How, White man! Me Cleveland  Indian,
love baseball heap big  much!
And it has  never been very good for this mascot, either. While "redskin" is indeed more offensive  than "Indian," I still don't really dig this all that much. The Atlanta  Braves have also been kinda  shady before, and I could go on and on and on...

My point, though, is that using a "tribute" to indigenous peoples  as the name  of a sports team isn't a straight-forward thing. There are reasons for changing them and reasons not to. And I won't go into all of them.  

But I will say that allowing a racial slur to continue to be the name of a professional football team for this long is deplorable on the part of the franchise itself. And Slate has the right idea in defying the team's owner. By demonstrating the power of  words, even if not also blocking the imagery of the indigenous guy the  team uses, Slate is making a statement about power and hegemony. And while yeah, I'd be even happier if, somehow, Daniel Snyder came around and decided to change the name, I'm at least glad Slate is being proactive in going against the status quo. In my perfect world, there would be no more Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Blackhawks, or any other team with indigenous iconography or name.

And let tell you a brief story. I once had a dude defend the Cleveland Indians chieftan dude up there to me by tossing the Minnesota Vikings at me.  In case you don't know, here's the mascot logo:

The guy said that if the Indians logo is offensive, so is this one.


Yes, really, because it's appropriating the heritage of lots of people and using a caricature of it for media purposes, so said this guy.

Bull fucking shit. 

The most basic refutational argument is that white dudes are in charge of the NFL, so that's their thing. And the white people that get all excited about the team and its mascot and iconography are, very likely, getting  excited of a celebration of their own culture. If white people want to make fun of themselves, that's their business. It's not appropriation if you're caricaturing your own damn culture- and the WASPS in charge of the NFL are descendant (some, at least) of the Anglo-Saxons. But the face in the Indians logo is of a person of color, as well as the name of the team itself, and those, too, were selected by white dudes. And it's mostly white people that are okay  with it- if you look carefully at those Wiki articles, you'll see various polling results, and when it's a poll aimed at Indian Country, the results are against Indigenous iconography for sports teams; and even when it's a general poll, indigenous sports mascots may have approval of a majority, but  it's a very small one. Barely over half. I think that says a lot.  

Which makes me think the two main reasons for the resistance to change are the resistance to change in  itself that institutions get stuck in, as well as the fact that these are all, essentially, businesses, and  short-term economic interests always trump long-term ones when a corporation or business is involved.

"Tradition, blah blah blah." Slavery was a tradition. Stoning was (and still is, in some places) a tradition. Marital rape was (and still is) a tradition. Sure, tradition can sometimes be fun. But it's also a tool for oppression. And even if that's not the goal, oppression can often be  an unintentional  outcome.  As a collective, we're so afraid of change, we freak the fuck out whenever it gets proposed. And if we think about NFL franchises like bureaucracies (which, yeah, they kinda are), you'll notice the only people that really seem to change things are the players themselves- it's why you see the same old campaigning and ads, and the same old defensive and offensive strategies, even when execs and coaches rotate and change out. There's a reason they  say, "That's a real Chargers offense!" or, "That's a perfect example of a Bears defense!" The linking verb is "a," not "the," and that means they're being general, as if the thing being discussed is an example of a plurality, not an individual. As if that thing can has copies out there. 

And "it's too expensive".... Really? I place claims it'd be to expensive to change mascots in the same category I do ones that it'd be too expensive to provide accommodation for disability- one of false claims. Yes, I recognize there may be a large up-front cost, but in the long-run, it wouldn't matter. And a huge, reputable franchise like a sports team would  get investors easily that would help pay for a revamping of the label. The problem with paying for a brand change is it would probably mean lightening the bonuses of the execs in charge, and that's the last thing they'd agree to do. 

And I guess, ultimately, I hate excuses about costs because I hate how capitalism is an exacerbator and enabler of oppressive and selfish desires in people. Like with the whitewashing I've discussed, or the isms, since it makes a profit, it's the status quo, and Heaven forbid we try to change the quo's status.

While Slate prolly won't be able to change  the logo or iconography, I'm glad they're taking the initiative to not use "redskin" whenever possible. And as the article says, they aren't the first to make that choice about D.C.'s team. As an NFL fan, I hope this means something to other NFL fans. It's bad enough the NFL thinks I and other persons of my sex are terrorists; it'd be nice if they stopped objectifying my heritage, too. If more media outlets took a stand like this, perhaps D.C.'s franchise will change, and others in different sports (and their fellow Chiefs) along with it. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


As I've said before, The Last Unicorn is a source of comfort and nostalgia for me. I really want to watch or read it right now, but I'm traveling and unable to access any of my copies of the movie, the book, or the soundtrack. So instead, I'm going to write about it and why it's awesome and any fantasy fan of any age should love it in general, as well as why it's so personal to me. Except not in that order.

"Am I the only unicorn there is? The last?"
My oldest happy memory is of being curled up under  my maternal grandma's arm, watching the VHS copy of the movie she had just brought over for me and my older sister (under her  other arm).  This  is important because I have plenty  of memories  of things from before that  moment, which was when I was three or four, but they're all dark and bad- snippets of my biological father yelling at someone, of him pushing  me off the couch, of my mom crying when she thought I couldn't see... those are all I have of anything earlier. I don't know  where Mom was during this first viewing, but until my biological father was gone, I never really felt safe except for that moment (and then there are plenty  of happy memories, like  Mom, my older sister, and I having  breakfast together, of when she took me with her when she voted for Bill Clinton the first time around).

So when things get really crappy, I like to watch the movie again to try and escape back to that feeling. It may be kind of strange, but if I let myself and don't try too hard, I can kind of forget whatever made me pop it in to begin with, and for that hour-and-a-half, I feel like everything is just fine, and I'm loved and cared for. So I watched it enough as I was growing up that by the time I was in high school, the VHS was worn and didn't work any longer.

The box is destroyed, too. It took me a long time
to find an image of the right VHS copy- this thing must
be hard to pretty rare nowadays. 
And I ended up buying a copy of the original DVD release, then the BluRay combo with two different versions on it, which is now my preferred disc to use.

Because here's the thing. I didn't  realize it as a kid because unicorn! Prince! Talking cat! But it's actually quite dark and has myriad mature themes running through. And the "d"-word gets said a few times. So I, and a number  of fans, absolutely hated the first DVD release because they edited a, "DAMN YOU!" out of one of the best, most moving scenes in the movie (and a, "Damn!" from another scene, which reduced comedic effect). As a kid, I didn't realize how incredibly sad, mournful, and  of course angry the character  saying it is as the time, but  as I grew older, I came to recognize the power of that scene, and now, even though it didn't when I was little, that  part makes me cry  a little, every  time. And yes, the, "DAMN  YOU!" in there is incredibly moving because it shows just how broken the character feels- she uncharacteristically lashes out and goes beyond her usually somewhat blunt but sincere nature to one aiming deliberately to hurt. To hurt in the way she felt hurt. And then the moment when she comes around is just as powerful, too.

And there are multiple scenes like that in the movie, scenes I came to appreciate for their beauty and poignance when I became old enough to truly appreciate that in a movie.

Some other things I came to appreciate are: 

  • The art. I made the connection that it reminded me of Thundercats and the animated version of The Hobbit as a young-un, but when I got older, I realized it was produced by Rankin/Bass, the company that made all of those Christmas claymation specials in the sixties*. And I came to realize that yes, Topcraft, the animated studio that provided the art, made all those titles I was thinking of, and was actually the precursor to Studio Ghibli. The detail in the backgrounds, and the character design are incredible, and so many of the stills from the movie make for great wall-hangings (which isn't really the case for most Disney movies, as much as I love Disney).
  • The voice acting. Just look at this cast. Come the fuck on.
  • The music. It has a few lovely themes that invoke notions of a place and time closer to the Dark Ages or medieval times, yet it still manages to sound contemporary. The songs by America are kind of corny on their own, yeah, but they fit the film perfectly. And I really enjoy  the song Prince Lier sings because when you read or listen to the lyrics, you realize it has a very complex rhyming scheme, and the lyrics themselves are delightful and perfectly fitting for the way the film portrayed Lir. And the harmonies that pop out in the end when Lady Amalthea joins in the tune are wonderful. In truth, pretty  much all of the songs have relatively sophisticated rhyme  schemes and any time  there are harmonies, they're lovely. (And  yeah, Mia Farrow is terrible singing her solo song- that's why another woman does it on the soundtrack, and  also for her reprise during Lir's song in the movie already.)

Likewise, my love for the book the movie is based off of (and the screenplay was by  the same author, Peter S. Beagle) has evolved. I first read it  when I was thirteen or so, but I didn't own my own copy until I was in college. And by that time, I was able to appreciate the subtleties in Beagle's writing- the slight satire, the significance of the contemporary bits of poetry and song lyrics he inserted, the way his own depictions of the characters were less straight-forward, more complex than the movie (not that the movie's characters weren't interesting). In truth, the book is really a deconstruction of both fairy tales and the fantasy genre- there are a few moments where the characters and events don't quite break the fourth wall, but they sure as hell smack up against it, and in ways that are so easy to get lost in- ways that make it easy to forget that the fourth wall is being almost-crossed in the first place. (Like a scene  where a bunch  of characters are talking about what heroes are for.) It's no wonder the book has such a huge following and fandom (seriously, just Google it and let your eyes boggle at all of the fansites and boards and Deviant Art pages with pictures). Beagle is an incredibly beautiful storyteller, and the mythology he sets up in the book is solid and "believable" enough that it took me years to realize a lot of it is stuff he came up with (like the explanation for unicorns in the sea, for example). 

So I have a few copies of the book, too, as well as the most recent version,  a graphic novelization of it.

So not only do I love the book because it's the basis of the animated film, but also because it's an amazing story in its own  right- well-written, thought-provoking, and boundary-pushing  in subtle  ways that sneak  right by ya. 

Also, a small, interesting tidbit, Loreena McKennitt covered  the main title song from the movie a few years ago**:

When I think about it more, I realize that I don't really think the book or  movie were made for kids entirely. There's so much going on in both, the the themes are dealt with in such deep, usually brutal ways, I think Beagle  wrote both book and screenplay with the intent of hitting adults hard. Sure, kids can enjoy them, but adults can appreciate them.

Which leads  back  to yours truly. 

I've had a very difficult... well, I'll say  summer  to be  specific. But really, I've been pretty miserable since starting grad school. I'd watch the movie or read the book  to escape  all of the bullshit from my university and the people and institutions  that keep throwing me under the bus, taking advantage of me,  etc., and  it got me through strep and shingles and countless depressive moments. I was careless not to bring  it with me on this trip, especially since the thought crossed my mind as I was packing.  So since I love it so much, I won't try and pirate either the book  or movie, but if I end up going to a place with a bookstore before I leave Seattle, I'll probably end up buying another copy. 

I feel like I should confess, I already had all of these images in my
haddrive,except the one of the VHS tape...

Appendix: I found this tumblr slideshow thing when looking for a good picture of a particular scene. It's funny, and this person brings up a pretty good point I hadn't thought of: That some of the themes, while usually traditionally feminine, are done so well, they're really more gender neutral as it should be. And yeah, the Unicorn/Amalthea is feminine, but incredibly strong- the choice she makes in the end, and her ability to carry on, is worthy of any story hero.

Also, the title of the post comes from this

*When I was little, my favorite of these was The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. Unlike The Last Unicorn, I've grown to realize it's crap and the only reason I liked it was because Rankin/Bass was totally going for a pseudo-Tolkein thing in the way they  did it- really, the only  scenes worth watching are the ones where the forest deities are debating Claus's fate. And the part where they're all parading in at the beginning. 

**I can't help but think that the myriad other options for this song on YouTube that didn't have  clips from the movie  were made by people whose lives clearly aren't complete- because if they didn't think to at least get a single  image from the movie for a cover of its theme song,  they probably haven't seen it. Poor  saps. And yes, I'm slightly judging them. Not because they haven't seen it, but because... well... Sure,  Loreena McKennitt writes some kind of hippie stuff, but this cover is  just so far and away  from anything else in her personal lexicon that why these people didn't think to look into the song's origins  before posting  it on YouTube fails to come to me. Of course, this  could also be coming from my kind of sometimes snobby way of viewing music. 'Nother post, that is, and not even fully conceived, let alone up for your reading pleasure.