I’ve been watching ContraPoints channel on youtube this past few weeks and it’s great. Natalie Wynn is pretty amazing.

I’ve watched a few of the videos so far — be prepared, they can be long. I put them on while I’m at my computer and just pause them whenever to pick it up later. Today I finished the “Are Traps Gay” episode, which holds many fascinating secrets.

The basic point is that if you accept the idea that the category “woman” is socially constructed, rather than biologically determined, then a trans woman is a woman and therefore men who are attracted to these women are not gay.

But that’s not where the fun ends, that where it begins.

There’s a section on the ‘lady penis’ which is too good to be true. As a man on long term Androgen Deprivation Therapy as a cancer treatment, it’s the only open discussion of the issue I have ever heard. It’s liberating.

And it reinforces the idea that I am having a trans experience.

GoT Patriarchy

In the last couple of days I watched all of GoT season 8. I didn’t hate it. I was seriously bummed to see who ended up at the high table in the last episode. Not sure why, but I was hoping that Daenerys, Sansa, Arya, Yara and Brienne would sort out the future of the continent. How the fuck did we end up with so many shitty dudes at the table? Assuming that the two DBs are total shitheads, it’s a predictable yikes.

Going into it, I was hoping that the white walkers would wipe Westeros clean of all humans. I figured the idiots would never get it together, winter would come, they would all feel the wrath and all the good people would be dead. This is the ending that would be fitting for the series.

My favorite thing about the books was that the heroes died. My favorite characters would get dramatically and surprisingly murdered, then the people who conspired against them would become more sympathetic as a new bad guy emerged. The TV show didn’t stick with this, and maybe the final books won’t either. But I was still hoping that all the heroes would die or something massively surprising would happen.

I didn’t expect Bran to end up King, but I definitely didn’t think they’d make him king without exploring his experience and memory of the old gods and their power. What was cool about Bran in the book was that he wasn’t really human anymore and was essentially an all seeing tree. But in the show he’s just the snarky disabled kid who gets to be king. Whatever.

The first two episodes of reunion, planning and storytelling were pleasant. I was surprised at how much I felt at seeing some of my favorite characters reunite. I prefer quiet, observational cinemas, so the style worked for me.

I don’t generally like long fight scenes. Tons of meaningless bodies dropping is boring to me. Long war scenes, like in Saving Private Ryan and the Band of Brothers series work because there is a specific narrative progression accomplished by each scene of the fight. The only element of the Winterfell fight that worked for me was the moat. At least that gave some structure to the fight that made sense. The rest of it was a lot of slashing and gore with some minor characters dying.

I wish that Arya had been more of an assassin and had sniped the undead that were chasing her. That she was so incapable of killing anything until the Night King was weird. I mean good for her, that move of dropping your knife or an offhand gut shot was dank, but unpredicated. Her killing of the Frey’s was totally badass. I just wished she’d planned to kill the Night King, maybe using some kind of white walker faceless shit. Instead, she got some kind of pep talk from Melisandre and the next thing we know the Night King is dead. Ok. She saved their asses. And it landed like a dud. There should be epic songs about Arya.

In the aftermath of the fight, only Daenerys sees clearly. She knows that the only way through is for Jon to sit on the truth. But he’s a Ned Stark acolyte, and has to tell the truth no matter what. I relate to that — I’ve ruined plenty of relationships by being hardheaded about “telling the truth.” I groan at my memories of such stupidity and inflexibility, but I still do it. At least Jon’s action is in keeping with his character’s history and trajectory. He hasn’t been changed by any of it.

Not sure why Varys went out like such a bum. Eunuchs everywhere deserve better. His great strength was his duplicity, subterfuge and timely alliances. He blew it. Why was he so open about his intentions with Tyrion? Probably lazy writing. Wouldn’t it have been nicer if all of his spy-kids turned on him? Maybe someone like Arya, who was once a fleabottom urchin herself, could have won them over.

The end of Cersei was super lame. She had no plan? Wow. And why didn’t Daenerys or Sansa send the realm’s best assassin to take her out? Arya went anyway, but without taking any faces. Cersei just stood there. Finally she broke and wept. When Jamie found her, it was a reunion of the depraved. I was still hoping that he would shank her, but no. That they ended up crushed by rocks was anticlimactic, but even worse was watching Tyrion weep over them. I felt nothing for the Lannisters. Did anyone? Good riddance.

Daenerys always had a bit of the mad king in her. She had better motivations, but she could kill some people. That she got so angry at Cersei and acted in brute force wasn’t out of character, but it was interesting that the men trying to talk her out of it were so falsely moralistic. Jon’s argument was always that we need all the humans to fight the undead. With at over, what, he loves the Lannisters? And with Tyrion, the interesting part was that he might actually be a traitor, willing to sell anyone out for his family, as much as he hated them. That weakness is compelling, but at least for me I had lost so much sympathy for him and them by the end that I couldn’t care.

That Daenerys was killed by Jon in a parallel with Cersei and Jamie was interesting. Jon’s choice was to go down as a Jamie (things we do for love), and start it all over again, or kill his queen and also become a Jaime (kingslayer). So incestuous hetero-(ab)-normativity kills us all. Great.

What if Sansa and Yara and Brienne had stood up for Daenerys against the men with bad grooming? Why not have Sansa tell Jon to stfu and support his queen? Why didn’t the ladies band together and support each other? Oh right. All that hope about a future of westeros ruled by women was our collective fantasy, but it was never a priority for the showrunners. Despite all the opportunities given to them by the many strong women characters, they managed to kill or neutralize all of them via the petty squabble. How fantastic.

Should Jon have been sent to the wall? Sure, but by Queen Daenerys, just like extraneous Targaryen’s before him. Bran should have gone back under the tree and been consumed by the roots, to become the old gods and the new. Arya should do what she wants, because she’s a badass. Tyrion should have been killed or given a haircut.

And the small council should have been the women.


Where are the pollinators?

I have plenty of flowers in my raised beds. The pepper plants, melons, cucumbers and tomatoes are all blooming but many blooms don’t become fruit.

Over the winter the wild mallow was full of bees, but now I barely see them. Where are the pollinators?

Vegan Yellow Squash Lasagna

I start by making a big batch of cashew vegan cheese. Soaking the cashews overnight with multiple drain/rinse/add fresh water cycles gives it a milder flavor that I prefer. 4 cups of soaked cashews with a cup of water and 1/4 cup of lemon juice blended smooth. You can salt and pepper if you like or spice it up. It’ll be creamy and heavy, giving weight to the lasagna.

I sautee onions with garlic, ginger and cilantro in olive oil, then add diced red and green peppers. I used all six of my yellow squash. Cut up and added to the sautee on high heat. A little water, salt and aminos for moisture. When they cook down and soften a bit, I put in the spaghetti sauce and spinach. If I’d had a bag of vegan crumbles on hand, I’d have dumped them in too. Lower heat and stir until well cooked and combined.

Organic lasagna noodles al dente, as I don’t want them to fall apart and they will finish during the bake. I layer the noodles first, then the red filling and a layer of the vegan cheese. The repeat. In this case, I cut a block of firm tofu as it’s own layer. Topped with red filling and sprinkled with vegan parm. Bake for an hour or the top slightly browned.

inguinal hernia

One of the first things I knew about myself and some of my early memories are related to my childhood hernia. I recall having pop-up books that were designed to help make medical experiences less scary for kids. And it worked. I was never afraid or felt traumatized that I can remember.

I only learned recently that inguinal hernias are one of many conditions that babies have that are corrected by simple procedures after birth. Some of these “corrections” are sex assignments, as inguinal hernias can impact the development of the sex organs.

Total number of people whose bodies differ from standard male or female. It turns out that it’s about 1% over all. Was I one of them? Would that explain something about me?

I called my mother if she knew whether I’d had any adjustments done during this surgery, but I was too afraid to ask.

What am I looking for? A justification in the body for liking pink or being a feminist?


Two Regrets

I have two persistent regrets:

  1. Not making it work with Abigail

  2. Not spending a year in Paris with Carolyn

These regrets are overlapping. Abigail was my first true love. But I was afraid with her that my life would become smaller, that I wouldn’t do the searching I needed to meet my unknown future. Some of this was petty in my youth—chasing dreams and girls. Some of it was real—I wouldn’t have asked her to follow me east and to New York.

Carolyn was a whole different thing. It was initially intellectual. A slow burn of years, full with reading and writing that only much later blew up. I was afraid that I would never be her equal. I could tell she didn’t trust my youth. I ruined it before we got to the year in Paris together. Instead I went to graduate school and met the people who would later betray me.

I can say unequivocally that I was doing the very best that I could do. I was making sane and sober decisions. I was being true to myself. I was protecting my dreams and forwarding my personal growth. I don’t think I could have done my part much differently, given who I was. I regret that I wasn’t different. I regret that I couldn’t commit my life to another ahead of my own ambitions. I regret that I couldn’t imagine my life being better as part of a couple.

The last time I spoke to Carolyn was in the late summer of 1998. I missed her for years before that and all the years since.

Abigail stopped talking to me at my best friend’s wedding. She might have stopped some time before that, but that’s when I realized it. What year was that? 2002, 3, 4?

Now I sit here at what feels like the lame denouement of my life. Winding down and reflecting, exhausted, waiting for cancer’s return. My mind turns again and again to these old regrets: two people I loved uniquely, hurt brutally, and who asked me to stop contacting them. So I did, and I have.

I’ll probably go on wishing for them to be in my life until the end.


Adding Poo

Added this week’s bags of pet waste to the bokashi bucket. Smell was a yikes. I got ph test strips but the smell got in my mouth and I couldn’t take it anymore. I’ll try to test it next time. Apparently, the ph is the best indicator of the pickling and fermentation processes, not the smell or surface fungus.

Rick and Morty

I’ve been watching Rick and Morty via the Adult Swim marathon stream almost daily for the past few months. The stream is amazing because they simply play every episode from the first three seasons back to back on an endless loop. I’ll check in and see where the loop is and possibly watch one or more of my favorite episodes.

What I have learned is that I enjoy the darker parts of the show. The return of Evil Morty, Cop Morty and the whole election business in season 3 is an awesome thread to follow. But one of the first dark moments that demonstrates the core storytelling device of infinite universes takes place in season 1, episode Rick Potion #9.

The episode content seems fairly light — Morty wants Rick’s help to get Jessica to love him. Rick makes a love potion which eventually leads to Rick accidentally and irrevocably mangling the dna of humanity into “cronenbergs.” (My sense of this reference is that it is most related to Cronenberg’s eXistenZ, which has the fleshy game pod and gristle gun.)

The conclusion of the episode has Rick and Morty travelling to a universe in which the dna mangling was fixed, rather than worsened, by Ricks attempt to reverse the effects of the potion. In this universe, Rick and Morty are also grotesquely killed by accident in the garage shortly afterwards. So Rick and Morty who just ruined their own world, slide into a different version in which everything is fine, except that they are dead and have to bury themselves. Grim.

Two episodes later, Morty tells Summer about it:

Morty : That, out there, that's my grave.
Summer : Wait, what?
Morty : On one of our adventures, Rick and I basically destroyed the whole world, so we bailed on that reality and we came to this one, because in this one, the world wasn't destroyed and in this one, we were dead. So we came here, a- a- and we buried ourselves and we took their place. And every morning, Summer, I eat breakfast twenty yards away from my own rotting corpse.
Summer : So you're not my brother?
Morty : I'm better than your brother. I'm a version of your brother you can trust when he says "Don't run." Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody's gonna die. Come watch TV.

Rick and Morty Dead.jpg

The OA

I’ve been watching the new season of the OA this week. To prepare, I rewatched season one. It was great. I stumbled upon the OA a couple of years ago on Netflix and it blew my mind. That the opening credits come up about an hour into the first episode when things start getting crazy was had a big impact on me. I had to pause the show and get up to walk around my room and consider what I was seeing.

Terrible things happen to our favorite characters in the OA. But instead of them resulting is something sad and even more terrible, the bad things give rise to strange and wonderful new ideas.

The movements. I love them. That they have real power is the amazing reality of the show. I saw a performance by Elevator Repair Service back in the mid-90’s that kinda blew me away with how synced dance moves outside the context of a music video could be so powerful. To have a show with characters who believe in collective movement and get real results is pretty wild.

In the last episode of season one, with the kids jump up and do the movements under pressure, it felt like a triumph of insanity. I loved it.

Season two doesn’t provide those high highs, but doubles down on the movements and their power. It introduces a house that functions as a puzzle and portal, which reminded me of Gregor Schneider’s “Haus ur.” I like the PI character, but it wasn’t clear to me why he is the one who has to navigate the house.

I wondered why the kids didn’t use the movements more among themselves in season two. For healing, in particular. Why did they give up on it during the scene on the beach? and what about the cubes? They seem like a cool way of negotiating the movements, but how does a traveler keep them? And why are the ones in the final scene so big? And when does HAP have time to do all that?

Anyway, I’m in for season 3. Curious to see where it all goes.


Meatless Meatballs, Beefless Tips

Transition towards a vegan diet was bumpy for me. I had always liked cooking meat. I enjoyed BBQs on the rooftop in Brooklyn and eating ribs in both texas and memphis. Finding something to cook around that felt satisfying was hard. I didn’t really want to eat more processed foods or fake meats. I felt stuck.

A few Gardein products have helped my transition. The Meatless Meatballs and the Beefless Tips are two that I cook with regularly. I use them in vegan stews, curries and pasta sauces along with lots of vegetables. Good flavor, good texture, and something that feels like it sticks to your ribs.


Burying Bokashi Food Waste

Dig the trench. Foot deep and wide, three feet long. This one I made a little wider. Put the finished bokashi food waste in the ditch. Back fill with displaced dirt. Mix the waste with the soil. Use enough water to wash the bucket and mix into the trench. Bury mix and let it sit.

Mostly mixed and partially buried. 

Mostly mixed and partially buried.