No Codpiece For You!

I grew up watching Dark Crystal, The NeverEnding Story, Legend, and Willow, and my love for these 80s cult fantasies stuck. One of my favorite articles of clothing features the text of The Last Unicorn, I can recite half the screenplay of The Princess Bride, and I mimic the Skeksis voice on a frighteningly regular basis.

Needless to say, I was ecstatic when I read earlier today that finally, after long years of anticipation, a sequel to Labyrinth was in the works, despite my fear a sequel or remake would end in disaster. More Jareth? Oh, yes, please. Including the frighteningly large codpiece, if you don’t mind. The prominence of David Bowie’s member* in that movie marks the moment I became consciously aware of the differences in women’s and men’s bodies. I was only twelve at the time and still quite innocent, so it took a package worthy of its own lines and paycheck to catch my notice.

There was something so creepily fascinating about the way Bowie played that character, and though I still love and watch all of the movies listed here, Bowie’s performance sticks with me more than any other actor’s from that set. Jareth represented a different world — an adult world, full of sexuality and responsibility and temptation that my twelve-year-old mind hadn’t begun to grasp. Until that movie. It was the first time I remember watching a movie and consciously thinking, “This is about growing up,” and, “Crap. I’m growing up,” and, okay, I’ll be honest, “Good Lord…those pants are really tight!”

And so I’d just stifled my squeal of excitement and headed off to read about the new movie when I discovered that, no, in fact, a sequel is not in the works. Neither is a remake. All a misunderstanding. Sorry. No codpiece for you.

My heart. It bleeds.

Perhaps it’s for the best, though. If they made a sequel, I’d drag my kids to see it on opening night, and God only knows what kinds of assumptions the thirteen-year-old would make. Don’t get me wrong…she’s already seen David Bowie’s giant crotch at least twenty times. I try to counteract the impact with gentle, codpiece-free movies like My Neighbor Totoro and The Cat Returns. After all, a girl can only handle so many hyper-masculine crotches in one lifetime. Our quota is set at one.

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The End Is Nigh! Or maybe not.

So. Ebola is in Spain now, and the first person known to have contracted the virus outside of Africa is a Spanish nurse. So ebola is on three different continents, which seems pretty significant. Being rather obsessed with the TEOTWAWKI, I should probably say something about this, but oddly, ebola doesn’t worry me, despite being a really freaking nasty virus. Maybe it should. Any deadly virus that’s present on three continents, has already killed thousands of people at a rate of nearly 50% of those infected, and makes victims bleed from their eyeballs is cause for serious concern. I mean…bleeding eyeballs. That’s some heavy shit.

But what strikes me as most interesting is the publicity ebola is getting and the public’s readiness to freak out over it. By night, I write, but by day, I teach junior high, and let me tell you…I’ve heard an awful lot about ebola from my students. Ebola’s in New Orleans. The virus is mutating. No one survives. We’re all gonna die. At least according to my sixth graders.

Today I noticed a normally popular kid sitting alone on one side of an otherwise crowded picnic table. The bench on the opposite side of the table was full, and ten kids were milling about, eating their sandwiches standing up. Why? He sneezed. Pretty sure he’s got ebola.

I keep reassuring them. Statistically speaking, you are more likely to get simultaneously hit by a bus and struck by lightning than catch ebola. None of you are going to die of ebola, so chill and sit next to your germy friend like you always do.

And yet, it’s not like I can reassure them with much authority. After all, I’m the woman with bags of lentils and white rice stored under my bed, just in case of an EMP, a supervolcano, worldwide economic collapse.

Or, let’s face it. Ebola.

Happy Friggin’ Fall, Y’all.

Judging from the weather, today was the first day of Louisiana’s obligatory two week fall season. I knew something was amiss the minute I drug myself out of bed this morning. Veterans may be able to predict the weather by old war wounds, but I can tell you the temperature outside by how cold my toes are. The high today was 71. Right now, it’s 58. And let me tell you, my toes are freezing.

I am not built for cold weather. I’m on the thin side, and I have circulation issues (thanks, Dad). When it drops below 75, I need a sweater. When it drops below 60, I break out the hat and gloves. Anything below that, and you’ll find me wearing multiple pairs of fuzzy socks and a blanket anytime I stray from the bed.

While most Louisiana natives are hanging “Happy Fall, Y’all” wreaths on their doors and anticipating the day they can wear boots and sweaters again, I’m wearing fingerless gloves to type and sticking hand warmers in my socks.

Ordinarily, I’m a bright, happy person, but when it comes to anything less than warm weather? Total humbug. I live a stone’s throw from New Orleans for a reason, dammit. Gimme my 100% humidity and 95 degree weather back. In the meantime, I’m going to stock up on Toasti Toes and bitch about the weather. So happy friggin’ fall, y’all. I’m going back to bed.

Southern Snowpocalypse

It snowed here yesterday, and when I say “it snowed,” what I really mean is everyone in south Louisiana lost their ever-loving minds. Schools and businesses and roads were closed. Traffic was insane. Bridges were iced over. People panicked and rammed their cars into things. Wanna know how much snow we got? 1/16″. Maybe. If we’re being especially generous.

That’s not to say the panic was completely unwarranted. My Damn Yankee husband rolls his eyes at this kind of hullabaloo every time it happens. He grew up in Pittsburgh and Chicago, so I guess the eye rolls are deserved. But you know what? He once spent all day buying gallons of water, tying down plastic lawn furniture, and contemplating whether he should board up his windows for a tropical storm that fizzled out before it ever hit land. I distinctly remember rolling my eyes a couple of times.

And that’s the way it is everywhere, right? My friends in Kansas haul ass Flo-Jo style and make it from their second story bedrooms to their basements in five seconds flat once that tornado siren goes off. My friends in California have their shit together when it comes to earthquakes, but the only shit I’d have together in an earthquake would be the pile of gold bricks under my butt. It’s all about what you’re used to. And here, we ain’t used to snow unless it’s soaked in flavored syrup and drenched with condensed milk.

Snowball - New Orleans Style

The forecast for the Greater New Orleans area where I live currently calls for lows in the teens and a chance of snow, sleet, and/or ice next week. We’re pretty sure we’ve lost our lemon tree to the cold, and even our satsuma is looking iffy at this point. And while 2013 was the hottest year on record, south Louisiana has never seen anything like the cold we’ve seen this winter. Ever. Okay, well, maybe during the Ice Age. A chance of snow in south Louisiana on two separate occasions within the span of one week? I’m pretty sure this means we’re in END TIMES, y’all. It’s time to stock up on rice and Dinty Moore beef stew. Trust me on this one.

I’m Calling Bullshit

I have a secret board on Pinterest titled “These Would Make Beautiful Characters.” Like many writers, I work better if I have visuals in front of me, so this board is populated with people like Josh Holloway, Henry Cavill, Jamie Dornan, Joe Manganiello. Where are the women? Oh, yeah. Those. They’re scattered here and there, but the board is mostly full of eye candy of the manly muscular variety. Which brings me to my thought of the day. How many times have you heard that men are more visual than women or that physical looks aren’t as important to us as they are to men? If you’re anything like me, more times than you can count. I was just reading yet another article arguing that women still look for mates based primarily on their ability to provide for a family. Frankly, I’ve seen that argument so many times I want to scream. I’m not arguing that those claims are necessarily wrong, but I’m calling bullshit on anyone who paints me with that brush. I have a feeling many women would do the same.

It’s true that women often wind up in relationships with men who aren’t as good-looking as they are, and we see this reality reinforced on television time and again (Peg and Al Bundy, anyone? Cliff and Clair Huxtable? Wilma and Fred?), but that seems just as likely a side effect of the fact that society demands women work fifty times harder than men at maintaining their looks than it is due to us having some evolutionary disregard for a man’s looks. Let’s face it, ladies. We don’t have the luxury of choosing a mate from a huge pool of men highly invested in maintaining their looks. Men do. And so we wind up with an awful lot of Cliffs and Clairs, Pegs and Als, Wilmas and Freds. And that’s perfectly fine. But even after all this time, there’s still far too much evidence that women’s primary form of currency is still their beauty; men’s currency, their ability to support a family, which is not so perfectly fine. It’s 2014, and women are doing a damned fine job of providing for themselves. A biological imperative driving us to get all hot and bothered over average-looking great providers? Bullshit. You know what? When I was single, I wanted a lot of things. I wanted a good provider, sure (just like I wanted to be a good provider myself), but I also wanted a mate who was funny, intelligent, caring, and hot. Lucky for me, I got one.

But when it comes to my heroes, I’m no different, and the romance genre is evidence that a ton of women feel the same. What’s the ratio of heroes who look like Chris Hemsworth to heroes who look like Cliff Huxtable? 20:1? At least. Because for many of us, romance novels are our equivalent to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue (unless you’re into erotic romance, in which case maybe they’re equivalent to Hustler or Penthouse). Sure, we’re here for the story first, but we’re also here for the fantasy, and the fantasy is usually gorgeous. Why? Because we too are highly visual creatures, we too are attracted to beautiful bodies, and it just serves to fuel misconceptions about the sexes to pretend otherwise. For the vast majority of us, the fantasy doesn’t look like Cliff any more than swimsuit models look like Oprah. The fantasy looks like David Beckham or David Gandy. Smoking hot. And you know what? I bet both of them are great providers.