Redbud Winter

I went down to get the mail today and thought it still felt a little chilly. The I saw the redbud trees and remembered what my neighbor used to call redbud winter. So here are pictures of some redbud trees to remind us that even a chill brings beauty. 

   

Compliments are nice, an acceptance would be better

It’s been one of those weeks in writing. I received compliments on my submissions and told they had reached the final round only to get rejected after all. Well, pooh. Yes, it happens. And the compliments were very nice. One was on a short short that I really liked. In fact, I have a fondness for it that doesn’t always happen in writing. I was nice to hear the editors thought it was lovely, but a check would have been better. 🙂

It’s nice to know that after all these years, I’m not getting rejected immediately. And the down swings are usually followed by some good news in writing (at least I hope that pattern continues!). Though sometimes, I would prefer to get a standard rejection than to be told I was close, but no cigar.

Anyway, this is what it is like to be a writer.

Daredevil

Thanks to the cats, I binge finished the last five episodes of Netflix’s Daredevil the other night. (They were taking turns sitting on my lap and I didn’t want to disturb them.) I had planned on stretching it out a little, but still, an excellent show.

The strength of the series to me was the length and format. The 13 episode mini-series offered enough time to develop all the characters and viewers didn’t need to rely on prior knowledge of the character to make sense of it all. The development of Wilson Fisk was particularly well done. Villains often make the movie/series and this is an excellent example. The series spent time showing him in different aspects of his life, including his love for Vanessa. Vincent D’Onofrio pulled it off amazingly (I suspect an Emmy nomination for him.)

Matt Murdock was also well developed and played well by Charlie Cox. The flashbacks worked will in the longer format and we got to see him with both his father and his friendship with Foggy in the early years.

Overall, I thought the casting and acting made it work. All the characters were brought to life by the actors.

I know how mainstream superhero depictions are going to end. The hero will win. But this series still managed to surprise me with its plot and its characters.

For Marvel readers, there were hints of what’s to come in the other Netflix series. The Hand will certainly make an appearance. Elektra was referred to. I’m sure Madam Gao will be back, probably in Iron Fist. The one I really wasn’t expecting was Van Lunt and his astrologer.

I highly recommend watching it.

This Week’s Gay Agenda

Okay, at risk of having my toaster oven confiscated for revealing the super-secret agenda, here it is anyway.

Week of April 13

1. Go to work

2. Spend time with family

3. Play with pets

4. Do yard work/enjoy Spring

5. Take nominations for new gay icons

6. Watch Daredevil on Netflix

7. Send Aaron Schock a “Free Get Out of the Closet” card

8. Plan for summer vacations

9. Clean the house to favorite show tunes album

10. Bring down Western Civilization by asking to be treated the same way as straight people.

Superheroes, Harry Potter, and English Curricula

This week, an alum invited me to come speak to the English Club at Jefferson County Community and Technical College in Louisville, KY. The students were particularly interested in superheroes and fantasy. I gave a talk and read some of my work, particularly the superhero poems. They were a great crowd and audience not to mention incredibly hospitable. I was invited for pizza and chat afterward. It was a great day and I am very glad I went.

Also this week, I announced that I will be teaching a class on writing Young Adult fiction in the Fall. Many students were excited, many wished it had been offered before they graduated, and one student was appalled. I gathered from his comments that he thinks this class and the Harry Potter class I teach are demeaning to the program. This brings me to a discussion of what goes on in a English curriculum.

Certainly one idea about English programs is that they should introduce students to great works of literature, the “canon.” That’s fine. However, one must also understand that the canon is a construct. Today’s literature books look a lot different than they did 20, 40, 50, or however many years ago. When I took an American lit class in college, the professor who taught the 1850 to present day included only three women authors. That would (or at least should) not be the case today. When I taught Intro to Lit and The Short Story lit class, I tried to introduce students to new authors as well as “canonical” authors.

Another aspect of English programs is to teach students methods of inquiry and analytical skills and how to use these skill to approach texts. In this case, it really doesn’t matter what the text is. Harry Potter is a great tool for this since students want to talk about the series and can see it in new ways.

Ideally, I think an English Program should incorporate both ideas. We have two courses that deal with Harry Potter (three counting study abroad). Students obviously have to take other classes about writing and literature.

Writing for Young Adults is hardly a new item in curriculum either. I took a writing for adolescents course 25 years ago at Emerson College (the home of the highly regarded literary magazine Ploughshares). This winter I took a workshop in writing YA at Eckerd College’s Writers in Paradise workshop. I will use what I learned to create the class for the fall.

The student who is upset about the offering stated that math has moved beyond 2+2 and so should we. This is a ridiculous and faulty analogy. 2+2 is basic math but writing a novel, or even a short story, is hardly comparable to solving that math problem. You have to incorporate all the aspects of fiction writing as well as the aspects of the genre. It’s hardly something first graders can do or even most high school student or for that matter most college students.

Okay, I’ve gone on enough. I’ll wrap it up by saying that I am happy to be at a school and department that lets us create classes that students want to take and incorporate them into the department’s mission.

Dear Mike Huckabee and his friends

Just to let you know, I have no interest in closing down all the churches in America. I do not hate Jesus. I do not hate America. In fact, I wouldn’t mind the spreading of the Gospels in America. You know, the gospels that say “Blessed are the poor” and “Blessed are the peacemakers” and all that. The gospels that say nothing about gay people. The gospels that say “Love thy neighbor” without qualifiers.  And if you want to discriminate based on the Gospels (not Leviticus) then rich people should not be served in restaurants, etc. since they are the most likely to go to hell (eye of the needle and all that). If you are concerned about people reaching heaven, where are the laws mandating rich people give at least half their income to the poor?

Do you understand what I’m doing here? I’m using selective quotes form the Bible to back up my argument. It’s easy to do since there is a lot of conflicting passages in the Bible, particularly between the Gospels, which you want to spread, and Leviticus. (Yes, I have read the whole Bible, the Catholic version with more books.)

I am gay and while I can obviously no longer claim to be a practicing Catholic, (Though I still feel guilty if I eat meat on a Friday during Lent.), I still consider myself a Christian and live by the Love thy neighbor code. That means I said a prayer for Fred Phelps when he died. It means I pray for a country that really does want to help the poor and spread peace.

Oh, and if you are looking at Ten Commandments, remember that one about bearing false witness? Maybe you should review that one.

May you have a blessed Easter or Passover or Spring religious festival of your choosing.