30 Years of Italo-Disco

28 08 2014

Michelle Pfeiffer Grease II Cool RiderIsn’t it funny how musical styles come and go? I remember 1950s rock ‘n’ roll being popular when I was growing up in the early ’80s, mainly because of Grease and Grease II. Michelle Pfeiffer straddling a ladder was one of my most cherished memories (and her electrocuting Christopher Walken to death in Batman Returns was perhaps my favourite scene in cinematic history). Everything ’50s was cool then, from the turned-up cuffs to the white socks. One of the first songs I learned to sing was ‘Rock Around The Clock’, but that was in 1982, long after the original song had been played on the radio, let alone penned. I was flooded with images of Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and Boy George. The same era had a peculiar dance beat which nobody had ever heard before—a 4-4 dance beat–with synthesiser arrangements.

In the early ’80s a new sound flooded the dance clubs of Europe and trickled down to America (as usual—new sounds happen in Europe first). It was a style of dance music with a rich, heavy, persistent bassline and simple yet elegant melody. It originated in Italy, with musicians like Giorgio Moroder, who produced music not only for Donna Summer, but also for films like Midnight Express and iconic ’80s fantasy films like The Never Ending Story. It clearly derived from 1970s disco, but reinvented itself with modern synthesisers. It became known as Italo-disco.

Probably my favourite italo-disco tune is ‘Hypnotic Tango’, by My Mine:

Isn’t it absolutely gorgeous?

One of my other favourite italo-disco tunes is ‘Orient Express’, by Wish Key:

Isn’t that the most seductive dance tune you’ve ever heard?

Glass Candy basically aced the whole italo-disco revival with the following tune:

How beautiful is that? Ida No, the singer of Glass Candy, is totally awesome.

New italo-disco style music is being created by Sally Shapiro:

Absolutely sublime.

Italo-disco is a gorgeous dance style. You just have to love dance, melody, and rhythm.





Fanny and Stella, the ‘Funny He-She Ladies’

3 01 2014

Fanny and Stella Victorian Photography IDrag queens have it rough. They primp, preen, pad, paint, and tuck until their testicles squeeze out through their eyeballs, only to walk the nightmarish obstacle course of city streets filled with drunken fraternity boys and suburban tourists before reaching their nightclub destination, where they are lucky enough to get a spray of one-dollar bills across their carefully designed bosoms, let alone a slot on RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Oh, wait, that is the twenty-first century.

Ernest Boulton and Frederick Park leave Bow Street Magistrates' CourtImagine what it’s like being a drag queen in Victorian London, where sodomy was punishable by the death penalty until 1861, and made legal in modern England and Wales only in 1967. (Many drag queens are gay and do have anal sex.) Now you’re not so sassy, are you, sister? You want to read up on your drag queen history now, don’t you?

That’s what I’m doing. I am reading the most delightful biography about two drag queens who graced the music halls, theatres, and ‘houses of accommodation’ of Victorian London. It is called Fanny and Stella: The Young Men Who Shocked Victorian England, by journalist Neil McKenna. The two queens, Thomas Ernest Boulton (Stella) and Frederick William Park (Fanny), got arrested by the Metropolitan Police for public lewdness after leaving a performance at The Strand Theatre in London. They were conspicuously drunk and leering at the men in the dress circle, like Fanny and Stellamany patrons of today’s theatres. It was an ambush—the police had planned it for a year or so just to capture these two queens.

Interestingly, some of the greatest defenders and secret champions of Fanny and Stella were their mothers, sisters, and housemaids, and the prostitutes they consorted with, who, rather than judge them, revelled in their saucy wit and rebellious charm. For some reason, this doesn’t surprise me. Jesus would have treated them the same, wouldn’t he?

One of the more bizarre and captivating chapters I’ve read thus far describes Dr James Paul’s strange obsession with the bodies of sodomites. He was a doctor commissioned by the Metropolitan Police to examine the illnesses and injuries of the police officers as well as the criminals in his jurisdiction, and he was trained by a doctor who also had an obsession with sodomy.

Fanny and Stella IVDr Paul did not neglect to go into the most explicit detail in describing his physical examination of Fanny and Stella. McKenna quotes Dr Paul’s examination of Stella: ‘I examined Boulton [Stella], and found him to be a man…. The anus was dilated, and more dilatable, and the muscles surrounding the anus easily opened’ (McKenna 50). Of Fanny, McKenna quotes Dr Paul as saying, ‘[t]he anus was very much dilated…and dilatable to a very great extent. The rectum was large, and there was some discoloration around the edge of the anus, caused probably by sores’ (50). One of Dr Paul’s own authorities on sodomy states that often, ‘the dimensions of the penis of active pederasts were excessive in one way or another’, were ‘pointed and twisted to the funnel shape of the passive anus’, and were sometimes ‘twisted’, a result of ‘the corkscrew motion required during anal sex’ (as cited in McKenna 51). This is the kind of creepy medical judgement to which Fanny and Stella’s bodies were being subjected in the dark, dank cell at the back of the courthouse on Bow Street after their first trial appearance, the day after they were arrested.

But the book isn’t just about the Fanny and Stella IIIsalacious and scandalous; it also deals with the way Victorians would have navigated relationships when it is discovered that a loved one is engaged in ‘unnatural’ and ‘abominable’ sexual practices, or even just cross-dressing (which wasn’t illegal, but which was greatly frowned upon). While Stella’s mother, Mrs Mary Ann Boulton, did not wholly approve of her son’s aspirations, she was probably more liberal for her time in accepting it:

I was always rather opposed to his acting…. But I did not forbid it. I would rather he would have done anything else, but he always had such a penchant for it that I was almost compelled to give my sanction. (61)

Mary Ann loved her son, and loved him happy above all else. It was Fanny and Stella VIIIalways an awkward acceptance. If I try hard enough, I can almost pretend to be her, sitting small and prim by the window in her front room, sipping a cup of Earl Grey, eyes drifting away into the past.

The relationship between drag queens and prostitutes in Victorian London is also interesting since it marks the intersection of two underclasses. At times, they had a special bond. With regard to Fanny’s relationship with prostitutes, McKenna writes,

…the whores were, by and large nice to her [Fanny]. They would call her ‘Deary’ or ‘Margery’ or ‘Mary Ann’ or ‘Miss Nancy’, and most of the time it was not in a nasty way. Sometimes she would talk to them, and she found—to Fanny and Stella IXher surprise—that she was drawn to them and liked them more than she thought she would. They did not judge her like the others. They did not look down upon her. They would curse and cuss her in a friendly way, and then she would answer back with a haughty toss of her head and they would laugh uproariously. (72)

Prostitutes and drag queens had an equal foe to contend with—patriarchy—although they probably would never have recognised such a concept. Patriarchy is a very modern, academic concept, and we are talking about pragmatic street urchins in the nineteenth century here. That said, it is no wonder Fanny and Stella should warm up to women who were considered lewd and unladylike. They were in a similar, slatternly league.

Fanny and Stella VIII hope that whets your appetite. So far, Fanny and Stella has proved to be an eye-opening exposé of the Victorian criminal justice system, police abuse of power, sexual exploitation, and Victorian medical knowledge, especially as these relate to sexual minorities and prostitutes. (Fanny and Stella were gay and did have sexual relations with other men.) If you thought it was hard walking down the street in drag and getting cat-calls and bottles thrown at you, just imagine going out in full paint, a petticoat, a crinoline, a corset, a bodice, full jewellery, a chignon and various other hairpieces and accessories, getting drunk at the saloon, and then having the police arrest you and throw you into a dank cell overnight before being sent to court the morning after only to be probed by a creepy doctor who loves anuses. I am at Chapter Nine, but I will be providing a full review of the book when I finish it.

And with that, I feel the need to play this unabashedly lustful, flesh-hungry track by the Spanish dance-pop duo Baccara:





Toronto and Ontario Trip (Part 2)

29 09 2013

In my last post on my August trip to Toronto and Ontario, Canada, I focussed on the urban aspect: my stay in Toronto, which is an incredibly diverse, vibrant, growing city, like almost nothing you have ever seen. It has turned out to be one of my favourite cities.

I thought in this post I would share with you the highlights of my trip to the city’s Royal Ontario Museum, where artefacts from Mesopotamia were on display. (Unfortunately that exhibition was photography-free.) Anyway, I’ve included a smattering of Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Indigenous, and modern-day Canadian art. Quite an impressive array, I think.

Here is the outside of the museum, on Bloor Street West. It has a strikingly modern addition built on to an older structure:

Toronto - Museum I

Here is a sample of their substantial East Asian collection. I photographed the piece I thought most flamboyantly gay:

Toronto - Museum II

Check out this jewellery from Etruria, Byzantium, and Ancient Rome! The craftsmanship is absolutely exquisite. I would die for a pair of those earrings:

Toronto - Museum III

Toronto - Museum IV

Toronto - Museum VIII

And look at these rings. So delicate and elegant:

Toronto - Museum XVII

And look at these armlets. They display the same elegance:

Toronto - Museum VI

Toronto - Museum VII

And behold this radiant Ancient British (pre-Anglo-Saxon) necklace at the top of the below image. A torc worthy enough to grace the neck of a proud British queen like Cartimandua herself!:

Toronto - Museum IX

And the beauty of the human form in the eyes of the Ancient Romans. Below, a woman and man’s buttocks. I think the first one is the woman’s, though I’m not sure:

Toronto - Museum XII

Toronto - Museum XIII

Ancient Roman Busts:

Toronto - Museum XXIX

Toronto - Museum XXX

The museum has a delightfully compact little slice of Ancient Greek art, too. Notice the glory that is the miniature model of the Temple of Athena. All hail Athena!:

Toronto - Museum XIV

Toronto - Museum XXXI

Toronto - Museum XI

This is perhaps my favourite exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum: the Egyptian lady and her makeup regimen. Actually, both male and female Egyptians wore makeup. Doesn’t it make you want to paint your face up? Oh, and then there is the mummy:

Toronto - Museum XVIII

Toronto - Museum XIX

Toronto - Museum XX

Toronto - Museum XXI

There were a couple of fantastic and beautiful photographs of the people of Oceania I could not help but photograph. Yes, I photographed photographs, and you can see my reflection on the surface of the glass, but the images are gorgeous nonetheless, don’t you think?

Toronto - Museum XXV

Toronto - Museum XXVI

And then there were the modern Canadian works of art. A lot of it was furniture, which is nice, but here are a couple of the best paintings I saw:

Toronto - Museum XXXII

Toronto - Museum XXXIII

And that is Part Two of my series of my trip to Toronto and Ontario, Canada. I know I didn’t include any indigenous Canadian populations–they are the basis of Canadian civilisation, after all–but I was new to the museum and late to it too. I think I may have missed a floor. Besides, I wasn’t allowed to photograph all of the delicious cuneiform tablets of the Mesopotamia exhibition tucked away in the basement. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed what I shared with you, and I hope it showed you that ancient cultures have a fabulous sense of fashion. A lot of it is cruelty-free!





Why You Should Support Marriage Equality in Washington State

31 10 2012

It’s been a while since I wrote a political blog entry, but this issue is so important that I couldn’t ignore it.

On 6 November, Washington state voters will decide whether or not to preserve a law passed by the state legislature back in February to legalise marriage for same-sex couples.

Opponents of the measure have raised several concerns over the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the state.

One of these concerns is that churches and clergy would be forced to perform same-sex marriages. This is false. The law, as reflected in the ballot language itself, explicitly protects the rights of churches and clergy to refuse recognition of same-sex marriages. Same-sex marriage solemnisation would remain an entirely civic proceeding. Hence, churches win, and same-sex couples win.

Another concern opponents of the measure have is that gay marriage will be taught in public schools. This, too, is false. It rests on the slippery slope argument that if gay marriage is legalised, public schools will start teaching about it. The current measure has nothing to do with any public school instruction on anything to do with homosexuality. Hence, to get from point A to Z, you have to jump through hoops to get to your goal.

Finally, people are concerned that the traditional definition of marriage is changing. Honey, it was changing back in 1967 with Loving vs. Virginia, when a black couldn’t marry a white and the Supreme Court decided they could. Besides, that argument is so fallacious in so many ways. It’s an argumentum ad antiquitatem. A thing isn’t right just because it is traditional.

For these reasons, you should support the passage of Referendum 74 in Washington state. It is fair, it is compassionate, and it is humane for all loving, committed families.





Julie Gentron and the Lady League (Vol. 1, Ep. 8): Hot Tub Secrets

28 10 2012

In the last episode of Julie Gentron and the Lady League, Lady Fairfax forced her girls to undergo a brutal martial arts training session as punishment for failing to capture Plastica. Afterward, she promised to reveal the latest MI6 intelligence on their foe. Here are those secrets.

Lady Fairfax turned round and gestured toward the Lady League hot tub, which opened up in the floor below. “Dive in, ladies!” The ladies acquiesced, changing into swimsuits and submerging themselves in the giant, hot bubbles, slapping water at each other and giggling like girls. A weird gynoid entered with a mechanical bleeping sound, but the ladies were delighted with the sight of the awkwardly feminine robot. Suddenly, a giant telescreen lighted up on the wall above the bubble bath.

“Ladies, it is my duty to apprise you of the latest intelligence on our elusive foe, Plastica,” said Lady Fairfax as a servant replenished her drink. The ladies perked up. “The witchy woman who absconded with our beloved community college dropout and professional fashion bitch-hound, Oswald, was born a very normal girl in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston. Her real name is Beryl Ann Rivers, the daughter and only child of an American senator and a British horse breeder and equestrian.”

“Are you feeling comfortable yet, Julie?” said the gynoid as she massaged Julie’s shoulders.

“Yes, P.A.M.,” said Julie. “Thank you. Oh, that feels good. Wait, P.A.M?!” she said, whipping her head round at the mysterious masseuse.

“Yes, Julie. It is I, your loyal onboard computer,” said the gynoid as she continued to massage the Lady League captain’s tense muscles.

“How did you manage to take humanoid form?”

“It was simple,” cooed P.A.M. softly. “I was given my new form by gifted graduate students at the A.I. department of London University, in conjunction with a special research unit of the Secret Intelligence Service on artificial intelligence.”

“Amazing,” said Julie. She relaxed and let the gynoid grind away, pleasantly pleased at the surprise. The other ladies seemed too transfixed by the bubbles and the telescreen to notice the exchange.

“Beryl spent her childhood between her mother’s upper-class Boston townhouse,” continued Fairfax, clicking buttons on the telescreen console, “and her father’s country estate in Wiltshire. As a young girl, she had a private tutor and thus engaged in little contact with others her age; at around age 14, yearning for a social life, she persuaded her parents to enter her into public high-school—but even this time was spent largely between Boston and London, splintering the weak bonds she had managed to forge with her peers and creating an ideal environment for bullying. She was tormented by her classmates; this only nurtured her rage.

“Given her family’s wealth and her own genius, she entered Oxford University and sailed through her studies.” The telescreen showed slides of an increasingly unnatural-looking, but strangely beautiful Plastica. “With amazing celerity, she earned a dual-major in business and biology, and, after taking a gap year to explore the Continent and the Far East, went on to earn a master’s in bioengineering at Harvard. She then took another hiatus to explore the beauty culture and aesthetic traditions of the Vega star system, where she learned a great deal about colour and branding. She returned to Earth and earned her PhD in genetics and dermatology at L’école de la Peau—The School of Skin—in Paris. During this time she worked as a fashion model, but once she had finished her academic career she established her own plastic surgery firm and soon became its chief executive officer. The business flourished and emerged as the pre-eminent plastic surgery firm on Earth.

“Although she looks about forty, her true age remains unknown. The scraps of her early history we have gathered place her birth some time in the early twentieth century. She could be the oldest living human–if you can call her human. We don’t exactly know.”

“Does that feel good, Julie?” asked P.A.M. in her eerie monotone.

“Why, yes, P.A.M. Very good. A little lower, if you don’t mind.” The gynoid proceeded to massage Julie’s back.

“Our bloodthirsty Beryl wasn’t satisfied,” continued Fairfax, regarding the display between gynoid and cyborg with a slight smile. “She started recruiting patients, coercing them into plastic surgery operations and forging their contracts. She expanded her plastic surgery firm—or should I say farm—to the outer reaches of the solar system and then to other star systems, transforming into her likeness the vicious water-snake queen of Intrepida Q-43b and the vampire space-wolves of the Pleiadian star cluster. Her space-travel technology is as great as ours, I’m afraid, and it is all funded by her massive fortune. She can reach the most distant corners of the galaxy in mere minutes.”

“This is awful!” cried Donna. “Why, I ought to implant a telekinetic bubble inside her rectum and cause it to expand until she explodes!”

“Good luck mastering that technique, Donna. Meanwhile, I’ll be mopping the floor of her space-ship with her plastic booty–using my bare hands,” said Rosalind.

“And I will turn her ship against her by commandeering its central computer!” added Julie, sitting erect within the bubbling waters. “I will lead my ladies into the melee with the strong and firm fist of a true, alien-bred technopath!” Here the other ladies noticed the strange gynoid.

“Hey! Keep your hands off her!” whined Donna in the shrill, reedy voice of a Los Angeles mall rat as she saw P.A.M. working Julie. “You just want her for yourself!” With this remonstration, she proceeded to massage Julie’s worn feet with a ferocious jealousy. Initially hesitant, the cyborg acceeded, sliding her body back into the warm waters, and Donna performed an exquisite ritual upon her toes.

“This is bullshit. I am going to plow some pussy,” roared Rosalind. She submerged her gorgeous, glistening Michelle Obama physique beneath a rumble of bubbling waves and made her way between Julie’s thighs. Julie tittered, “Hehe! That tickles, Rosalind!” and stroked Rosalind’s wet head with a strange desire to wrap her thighs around her face like the interior of a warm, wet clam. P.A.M., apparently curious, resumed her massage of Julie’s back, this time in its lower region.

“That’s all very well, ladies,” continued Fairfax, peering down peremptorily at the girls with her imperturbable Bea Arthur face, “but Plastica does not work alone—she has a helper.” On the telescreen appeared a ghastly, wizen face pitted with two baleful, hollow eyes, a hideous nest of wires serving as hair. The skin was a sickly grey-purple. “This creature is known only as Dr. Electro-hag. He is a shadowy figure–his past is a blur. We know he hangs on Beryl’s bosoms like a baby sucking at the teats of Satan, but he possesses genius bioengineering skills. A few scraps of evidence suggest he played a major role in Plastica’s rise to success, but there was a fall-out between the two and somehow she got the upper-hand, assimilating him into her army. The details are foggy, and we’re not yet sure where the hag’s loyalty truly lies, but we think he might prove a formidable ally, if we can offer him amnesty on certain binding conditions.”

“Every mistreated monster deserves a chance at redemption!” cried Julie, withdrawing her thighs from Rosalind’s lips and rising up out of the bath, her trim, toned body glistening. P.A.M. withdrew a few steps, quiet and solemn. “I will not let such an unfortunate creature slip through our compassionate, forgiving fingers to become another trophy on the mantelpiece of that inhuman witch. Why, if only we could save her too. But we can’t, it seems.” After towelling herself off, she stationed herself at the telescreen console and clacked away at the buttons. “Look! She hasn’t gone far. We have been able to capture traces of the monster’s footsteps. Our satellite imaging technology, as well as our spies and ground-based telescopes, suggest Plastica is headed in the direction of the Louvre in Paris. She is targeting Western civilisation at its very core, and we are the only ladies who can stop her!”

“And we have to save Oswald!” cried Donna giddily. “He’s redeemed himself–he hardly deserves the fate which stands before him.”

“Since when did you sympathise with that ice-cold, cutthroat fashion-dick, Donna?” asked Rosalind, stepping out of the tub and drying off her muscular shoulders with a terry-cloth towel.

“Since he said that fashion should fit the woman, and not the other way around!” replied Donna, raising her head proudly and rising out of the tub. “He thinks fashion is a tool for self-expression, not a mould to be shoe-horned into. You would do well to learn more about him, you grumpy old muscle-dyke!”

“Ladies! Stop your bickering,” said Julie, her rich, brown eyes growing large with domination. “We have a greater goal in mind—the salvation of humanity—and I rely on you to help me achieve it! Once more–cease your petty squabbling and lend me your loyal assistance in this daunting task. London, Britain, and Earth need you! Now! You know what to do.” The ladies obediently rose up out of their comfortable water-kingdom and placed their feet on the firm, cold surface of MI6 ground.

“Girls,” cried Fairfax, tapping the remnant of her broken cane against her wheelchair to get the women’s attention, “Heed your leader’s words. We have one thing left to do, and my gin and tonic needs topping off anyway, so have with it!”

“Lady League, unite!” cried Julie. The ladies joined fists and shot a bright, white-green column of light through the roof of the MI6 headquarters into the night sky above Lambeth. London was aglow, its great landmarks glittering, and below, patrons of sex-bars and gay bathhouses alike looked up in awe at the brilliant spectacle, dropping their half-opened condom packages and plastic cups of warm beer. Fairfax surreptitiously pulled the plug on the gynoid, who went limp.

Find out what happens at the most famous museum in the world in the next episode of Julie Gentron and the Lady League!





The Divine Feminine: an Iron Age Stepford Wife?

22 03 2012

Maybe you are one of them–women, and even some men, who have secreted away from the church pew to summon the goddess in the sacred grove. The trend is growing, it seems. More people are searching for spiritual fulfillment by exploring the “feminine” side of spirituality which is central to so many pagan and New Age traditions, including Wicca, and generally absent from the supposedly more patriarchal male-god religions. But is this “divine feminine“, which forms one half of a duotheistic theology, really such a fair-minded and forward-thinking alternative to male-dominated mainstream religion? As we will see, it might actually reinforce the very patriarchy it seeks to dismantle, and the implications are ominous for women and men alike.

To show how the “divine feminine” movement backfires in its attempt to overturn patriarchy, we must first establish what the concept means. Generally speaking, the “divine feminine” embodies a triad of female archetypes: the Maid, the Mother, and the Crone. Each archetype correlates with a different stage in a woman’s life. The Maid represents the pure and innocent virgin, the mother, the nurturing life-giver and care-taker, and the crone, the wise old teacher–or, potentially, the wicked witch. She is every important aspect of womanhood, or so it would seem, and people pursue the pagan priesthood specifically to pay her homage. She functions as the polar opposite to the male god in a binary which consists of an aggressive, rational, dominant “male energy” and a passive, emotional, submissive “female energy”.We worship her because she complements a strong, disciplinarian masculinity with a weak, nurturing femininity that males supposedly lack.

But, in the stereotypical binary of the weak goddess and strong god, we already see the failure of the divine feminine to dismantle patriarchy. An example of this binary in Chinese philosophy would be the yin and yang, in which a negative, dark, feminine principle complements a positive, bright, masculine one. The divine feminine movement attempts to reclaim female authority from obscurity by extolling the meek, nurturing, yielding nature of the goddess and ignoring her strong, confident, assertive nature—but this is oxymoronic, because it suggests that women’s power lies in their powerlessness. How can women gain power and influence equal to that of men if they are essentially less powerful and influential than men? It just doesn’t make sense. So, with its schizophrenically passive-aggressive, powerful yet powerless goddess, the divine feminine simply gives patriarchy room to flourish.

Now, critics of this view will argue that the binary isn’t really that black and white. “Each man has a feminine side, and each woman, a masculine side”, they will assure you, glowing with pride in their observation. They will point out, for example, that in the yin and yang model, each side has a little bit of the other within it. This is true, but it is also true that the yin is still overwhelmingly dominant and “masculine”, and the yang, overwhelmingly passive and “feminine”, so it doesn’t achieve much to say “there’s a little bit of the other in each”. Besides, it’s a circular argument. Arguing that there is no pure masculinity or femininity, and that each man is a little feminine, and each woman, a little masculine, is a homunculus fallacy, because it still relies on the use of the discrete terms “masculine” and “feminine” to explain gender. Once again, we see how the divine feminine fails to completely liberate male and female from oppressive sex roles.

In addition to the yin and yang model, the fact that the goddess exists almost entirely in relation to males and childbearing presents a problem for the “divine feminine”. The most important role of the goddess is that of the fecund, life-giving, heterosexual mother. She is constantly associated with the earth, fertility, menstruation, pregnancy, and child-bearing. After all, only women can give birth, right? Yes, male fertility is also celebrated in the form of gods like Priapus and phallic cults, but this fertility forms only one aspect of the male god, who is also warrior, judge, poet, and leader, among many other things. The goddess, though, is overwhelmingly associated with nurturing, life-giving fertility, and her sexual relation with the god, as in the sovereignty goddess, an earth divinity whose purpose is to bequeath the land’s power to a man through sexual relations. She is the pure Maid who is sexually desirable to males, as in the Teutonic fertility goddess Ēostre (related to “Easter” and “oestrus”), the Mother who bears her husband’s children, as in Gaia, and the Crone who is useful for nothing more than giving advice and recalling how many miles she had to walk in the snow, and who sometimes represents death, sinister magic, and even cannibalism, as in the child-eating Slavic witch Baba Yaga or the Greek serpent-daemon Lamia. When the woman explores life beyond the hearth and nursery, her unbridled energy necessarily becomes an evil, a transgression against her husband, children, and community. But this isn’t exactly fair. What about girls, sterile women, post-menopausal women, hysterectomized women, lesbians, and women who simply choose not to have children, or even to marry? Most of us would still call these people female, and the vast majority of them are not evil child-eaters, so obviously the “divine feminine”, with its inordinate emphasis on female fertility, fails to represent the many different aspects of female virtue beyond that of childbirth and nursing. It is hard, then, to see a feminist ideal in this Triple Goddess.

The divine feminine is a well-meaning attempt to correct the historical repression of females in mainstream Western religion and spirituality, and in some ways it may have made inroads, but it still falls short of the goal: it presents an oxymoron in the powerlessly powerful goddess, it creates a contradiction by using the terms “masculine” and “feminine” to assure us that there is no pure masculine or feminine, and it describes a goddess whose identity exists almost wholly in relation to men and reproduction. This divinely powerful goddess begins to look like nothing more than an Iron Age Stepford wife. Of course there is nothing wrong with women being compassionate and nurturing, but there is something wrong with women being more compassionate and nurturing than men, especially if all of us are supposed to meet the same, ultimate standard of enlightenment. To reclaim female authority in religion and spirituality, then, we should be exploring the many other aspects of the divine feminine: the warrior, the judge, the poet, the leader, and the good witch. In fact, we should be expanding this to the scientist, the doctor, the politician, and the professor. After all, we no longer live in the Iron Age, and these roles meet the practical demands of the modern day. Simultaneously, we should be exploring the more yielding and nurturing side of the god. By performing this kind of self-scrutiny, we learn from each other and become truly whole human beings.





Julie Gentron and the Lady League, Vol. 1, Ep. 3: The Bitches Return to Earth!

20 12 2011

Written by Brandon Arkell and Seth Gordon Little

Last time on Julie Gentron and the Lady League, the ladies faced imminent catastrophe as an asteroid and the dwarf planet Sedna threatened to smash the H.M.S. Vestibule to pieces!

“PAM, what’s happened?!” shouted Julie.

“A fragment of the approaching asteroid has skimmed the hull of the ship. The cold plasma shield has eliminated most of it, but some pieces made it through. All vital life support systems, as well as artificial gravity, are operational, however this will not remain the case if the asteroid collides with the ship. My calculations show such a collision will occur within the next nine and a half minutes.” Lupa stormed around the main deck, flapping his heavy limbs and cooing in agitation, clutching his coconut bra, and leaving a trail of urine in his wake. (Donna had forgotten to put on his diaper.) The poor thing was obviously trying to communicate something important, but his message went unheeded.

“I’ll take care of this”, said Rosalind, leering at Donna. “With my superhuman strength, I should be able to push the ship out of its path! Don’t worry, Julie”, she said, smiling seductively at the captain, “I’ll steer the ship on course and we’ll be back in London in time for a massage.” Julie smiled and nodded at Rosalind, who, beaming with confidence, assumed a hard, bright, metallic shell of skin and exited through the evacuation chamber.

“In order to deflect the asteroid”, said Julie, “we need to combine our ship’s built-in artillery with our own mutant powers. We must use the ship’s most potent weapon—the lady beam! Donna! Power up the ovarian plasma-ray generator, focus its energy through the clitoral conductor-cannon, and deploy the beam at ten o’clock, in the direction of the asteroid.”

“Yes, Julie!” said Donna without a beat. She proceeded to chicken-peck away at the computer console, sounding out each letter as she went.

“Julie”, said PAM.

“What, PAM?”

“I’m scared, Julie.”

“It’s just the ovarian plasma ray generator-powered, clitoral cannon-channelled lady beam, PAM. It’s going to help save us!”

“I understand, Julie. My calculations show that this is the most effective tactic, other than self-annihilation. It’s just that I cannot live without you. Proceed.” Julie contorted her face in bewilderment at PAM’s strange show of emotion. Just then, a thick, bright, white-green beam shot forth from the clitoral cannon and obliterated the asteroid. A stream of space debris assaulted the ship’s cold plasma shield in a spray of light. They had done it. The asteroid was done with. Everybody clapped, cheered, and jumped up and down with joy. Then they stopped.

“We’re veering too close to Sedna now!” cried Julie. “Donna, you said you can move planets, so you must be able to move a space-ship out of Sedna’s gravitational pull. Do it, now!”

“I’ll do my best.” Donna placed her fingers to her temples and closed her eyes. She then made a strained, girlish squeal resembling a pig having an orgasm. Lupa stood erect, placed his fins to his breast like an opera singer, and commenced with a haunting, mournful whale-song which resembled the peal of an adolescent humpback whale. “Lupa!” shouted the others, groaning and covering their ears.

“Anyway”, said Julie, “I’ll take command of the ship’s computer and steer us clear of this thing.” PAM murmered words of vague concern over this action. “Don’t worry, PAM”, she said. “Your consciousness will remain intact and fully operational.”

“I—seem—to be—tilting the ship, but not enough to escape Sedna’s gravity”, said Donna, straining harder. “Julie, help!”

“Hold on!” replied Julie. “I’ll concentrate my technopathic powers on the ship’s engines.” Julie thrust her breasts outward, flexed her strong arms and thighs, and concentrated. “By the great goddess! I’ve taken too sharp a turn toward Sedna!” she said, not knowing her own strength. Lupa, unnoticed by the others, assumed the pose of a sumo wrestler, and his high-pitched peal gradually fell to a deep, barely audible hum which reverberated throughout the ship like a foghorn. The ship began to turn, but only the poor land-whale could see how the powerful sonic reverberations created by his whale-song helped the team escape the clutches of Sedna’s hard, icy surface. Meanwhile, Donna was on the floor, doggy-style, ass in the air, elbows to the ground, fingers still to her temples, focusing all her might on moving the ship with the power of her mind. Soon she had matched Lupa’s efforts, and the ship made another tilt. Still, the captain was needed, and so was her computer.

“PAM, help me out!” cried Julie in desperation.

“I will work in unison with you, Julie”, said the onboard quantum computer. “I will provide you the steering, the thrust, the motion, the strokes—”

“PAM!”

“Yes, Julie?”

“Cut the lesbian bullcrap! Er, for now, at least. Help me steer, already!” There was a tense pause, broken only by Lorna’s constipated squeals and the land-whale’s powerful baritone. “Are we clear of Sedna’s gravitational pull yet?”

“Just, Julie.”

“Then, by the breasts of the great goddess, take us back to Earth!”

“Julie, what about Rosalind? If you would like, I will dispose of her with a blast of ion radiation and—”

“—PAM, you will do no such thing! Rosalind will come back aboard the ship unscathed. Afterward, you will direct us on a course to Earth.”

“Yes, Julie.” Almost immediately after, the doors to the evacuation chamber whooshed open, and Rosalind re-entered the deck, panting, yet bobbing confidently and flexing her biceps cockily. Julie embraced her, while Donna gave a half-hearted cheer and a limp clap. Lupa began bounding around the deck with a big, booming, babylike coo of excitement, clapping his limbs uncontrollably and wiping away tears from his big, limpid blue eyes with the tip of a fin. Another trail of urine formed behind him.

“Rosalind, thank the goddess you’re OK”, said Julie, caressing Rosalind’s well-developed shoulders. “I wasn’t sure that your armoured skin would deflect the assault of cosmic rays.”

“Honey”, laughed Rosalind, patting Julie affectionately on the back, “I’ve had worse, like the time I wrestled that giant space-ghoul from the Oort Cloud. I’m not bragging, but I did help steer us clear of a dwarf planet.” Donna mimicked these last words sarcastically under her breath, tossing her feathered Farrah Fawcett tresses to the side. “The atoms in my armour are quite dense, blocking even the most intense radiation”, said Rosalind. “It is almost impossible for cosmic radiation to damage my genes.”

“As I already suspected, since I am a quantum physicist”, said Donna in an argumentative tone. Rosalind lowered at her, and she met her opponent’s gaze with an equally baleful glower. If these girls had claws, they’d be unsheathed.

“Julie”, cooed PAM.

“Yes?” replied Julie.

“I am glad that you are unharmed, Julie.”

“Yes, thank you, PAM”, said Julie, pacing around the deck with a growing wariness of PAM’s human-like qualities.

“Gee whiz”, said Donna quizzically. “What is up with this computer thingy? I mean, I understand when a pole likes a socket and a socket likes a pole, or when a pole likes a pole and a socket likes a socket, but when a socket doesn’t even have a socket to begin with, well, I just don’t get it.”

“Donna! That is uncalled for”, scolded Julie. “For your information, PAM has proved to be a very wise and caring—”

“—It is all right, Julie. I understand. The fact that I do not possess an obvious orifice or appendage for penetration makes Donna uncomfortable.” At this, Donna grinned mischievously.

“PAM”, said Donna.

“Yes, Donna?” bleeped PAM in her computery voice.

“What’s between my thighs?” asked the psychokinetic minx, giggling girlishly and covering her mouth with the tips of her fingers. Rosalind rolled her eyes and slapped her palm to her forehead.

“Your oestrogen-powered utero-blaster?”

“No.”

“Your platinum-lined lady vector ray?”

“No.”

“Your heat-seeking, blood-fuelled, tampon missile rocket?”

“Close, but not quite.”

“Your vagina?”

I can’t believe she actually said it!” cackled Donna ferociously. “She’s just like Siri!” Lupa clapped excitedly, belched, and made one of his famous whale-coos, an action performed by a land-whale when it approves of a jest.

“Of course she did, you dolt”, said Rosalind. “She’s a lesbian space-ship computer.”

“Julie”, said PAM, “I am unable to interpret the rationale behind the dialogue of your companions. I suspect this is due in part to a lack of myelination in areas of higher thinking in the brain.” At this, Donna gave a look of resentment, peering around the deck in search of whatever might constitute PAM’s presence.

“Ladies, ladies!” said Julie. “Donna, you’re being childish. Rosalind, stop being snide. PAM, stay cold and malleable. Lupa, you’re cute, but stop goofing around. OK. Let’s get back to London. If we don’t want to reach home by the time we’re old spinsters, we need to step up the pace and try to move faster than some twentieth century space probe. Donna.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I want you to use your power to warp space-time by creating a miniature black hole in front of the space-ship to get us past Saturn in the next sixty seconds.”

“Yes, ma’am”, said Donna, sighing. “I’ll try.”

“And, Rosalind”, said Julie, “remember to activate the ultra-tamponic cold plasma shield so that we don’t get incinerated by the heat created in the warp bubble. We already faced that threat warping from Alpha Centauri back to the Earth’s solar system.”

“Yes, Julie”, said Rosalind, thumping down at the console.

There was a spacey sound as the H.M.S. Vestibule entered the inner solar system. Earth, Britain, and, finally, the landing pad in the South London borough of Lambeth became visible.

“Well that was a blast!” said Donna. “We’re here! God, I’m dying for a bubble bath. Calgon, take me away!”

“And I’m dying for that massage, Julie”, said Rosalind, posing like a teenage locker-room jock.

“Bubble bath OK”, said Julie to Donna. Give, or receive?” she said to Rosalind.

“Baby, I’m cleverly equipped”, said Rosalind. The scene was suddenly interrupted by an urgent message in a raspy yet venerable RP accent sputtering out of the main deck’s speakers like a principal yacking away at her students through some old-fashioned twentieth century public school intercom.

“Julie Gentron!” said the voice in a reedy, chiding tone.

“Lady Fairfax!” said Julie. She stood as stiff as an unused tampon. She now had to report back to her boss about her excursion abroad—her mission to open diplomatic relations with the peoples of Alpha Centauri—in the cosy confines of a smart, clean office at the MI6 headquarters in dirty Vauxhall. With this in mind, the ladies heaved their bosoms, disembarked from the Vestibule, and pressed on forward across the landing pad. Opposite them, the silhouette of a low, shuffling figure appeared against London’s filthy sky.

“Quite correct, Gentron”, rattled the voice authoritatively, “in your assessment of my identity; not in your punctuality!”

Stay tuned to find out what surprise awaits the Lady League upon their return to Earth in the next instalment of Julie Gentron and the Lady League!





How I Outsmarted a Sexist Psychology Professor

14 12 2011

If there’s one thing I’ve learned getting to know university professors, it’s that pride is alive and well in academia, despite many claims to the contrary. I always expected such persons to be paragons of fairness and objectivity, but it turns out that they, too, harbour secret prejudices of their own—and sexism is no exception to this rule. I did, however, have the opportunity to turn the tables on one such individual, who thought he knew what he was talking about, but didn’t. Knowing at the outset that his facts were wrong, I graciously burdened myself with the task of correcting him on his assumptions on a topic which often goes unexamined—sexism in language.

(By the way, I must apologise to Nobel Prize-winning economist Leonid Hurwicz for using a photograph of him at the beginning of this article. I’m sure he isn’t a sexist old fogey; it’s just that he really looks like one! But he’s dead now anyway.)

Now, my friend is no dolt—he’s a professor of psychology at an eminent Canadian university—but he’s also an eccentric. He hails from Romania, loves opera and English literature, and pines for the days of the old British Empire, which, in relative terms, imposed a much gentler form of imperialism on its colonial subjects, or so he would say. “The British had an ideal behind their imperial mission–-to teach and to elevate benighted peoples”, is something he would say, “and they carried out this mission much more humanely than the Dutch, French, Spanish, or other European colonial powers.” Anyway, he sounds rather like Dracula and smokes like a chimney. And he’s gay. So he’s like a gay, chain-smoking Dracula. He comes across as sophisticated and quaintly nostalgic, but he has some rather ugly opinions—for they are certainly not facts—about feminists.

One of these opinions is that feminists don’t know what they’re talking about. You see, my friend once encountered a group of women in his milieu who complained that the word manhole was sexist because it contained the word man, but not woman. But, he argued, feminists shouldn’t be complaining that the word manhole is sexist, because man derives from the Latin word manus, which means hand”, not “adult male human being”. So the feminists are just being angry, stupid women, he suggested.

Well, that’s just plain bullshit, as I soon showed him. It is what in diachronic linguistics (historical linguistics) we call “folk etymology”: derivation of a word from a false, popular, made-up origin. Anyway, what follows is the general sequence of exchanges we made, in which I disprove his argument and prove its irrational, sexist underpinnings. It is not to be taken verbatim; the quotations are actually paraphrases, not direct discourse, but they accurately reflect the logic behind the points made. And to make a distinction between speakers, I will refer to my friend as simply “Dracula”. Now be patient and closely follow the line of argument to see how I arrive at my conclusion.

“These feminists shouldn’t be complaining that the word manhole is sexist”, said Dracula. “It is not, because the man in manhole comes from the Latin word manus, which means ‘hand’, not ‘adult male human being’. It refers to people who labour with the hands.”

“But the feminists aren’t incorrect to call manhole sexist”, said I, “because the man in manhole doesn’t come from manus; it comes from the Old English word man, which does mean ‘adult male human being’ in our present-day usage. So, yes, the feminists do have reason to complain that words like manhole are sexist.”

“Brandon”, cooed Dracula in a thick yet articulate Romanian accent, “if you want to show that the word man doesn’t mean manus, you have to show that the English didn’t borrow man from Latin.”

“They didn’t.”

“But the Romans conquered the Anglo-Saxons, and conquered peoples borrow words from their conquerors. Hence, the Anglo-Saxons must have borrowed the word man from manus, the Latin word for ‘hand’.”

“That is incorrect. The Romans didn’t conquer the Anglo-Saxons; the Anglo-Saxons settled Britain after Rome left. The Roman conquest of Britain began in 43 under Claudius. The people they conquered were Celtic, not Germanic. After a series of Anglo-Saxon and Irish raids, the Romans abandoned Britain in 410 to concentrate their legions on Rome in response to a massive siege there by the Visigoths, who attacked the city under the leadership of Alaric. It was only then that the Germanics had free rein to settle Britain en masse, and even then they only did so several decades later, beginning in 449, under Hengest and Horsa of the Jutes. This means that the Anglo-Saxons [the Germanic tribes in Britain] couldn’t have borrowed man from a ruling Roman elite. The Romans had left before the Anglo-Saxons could borrow anything from them. So, no, the feminists aren’t wrong about the etymology of man.”

“But, Brandon”, purred Dracula affectionately, “The Celts and the Germanics are the same people with the same language group, so when you say that the Romans conquered the Celts, you say that the Romans conquered the Germanics, too. Thus there was still a Germanic people borrowing the word man from the conquering Romans.”

“That’s just plain wrong”, said I, patiently. “The Celts and Germanics are two totally different peoples with two totally different language groups. Look at any Proto-Indo-European Language Family tree. Italic (from which Latin is derived), Germanic (from which Old English is derived), and Celtic (from which Welsh and Irish are derived) are linguistic sisters. Germanic is no more closely related to Celtic than it is to Latin itself, the language you incorrectly purported as the donor language to the Germanics. They’re all equally distinct. The Celts spoke Celtic languages when the Romans arrived, and the Anglo-Saxons spoke Germanic languages after the Romans left. So, no, there was not a Germanic people borrowing the word man from the conquering Romans, and, yes, the feminists are correct in analyzing man as meaning a type of ‘person’, and not ‘hand’.”

To be honest, I was thinking to myself, “Girl, you’ve got your chronology backwards.”

“Besides”, I continued, “words aren’t borrowed just because they come from a conquering culture; they’re borrowed because they represent something special, hence prestigious, about the conquering culture. The English didn’t borrow the word ‘chicken’ or ‘goose’ from the invading French, because chickens and geese were common to the English; poor English people ate fowl, too. But they did borrow the words for pork, beef, and venison from the French [cf. French porc, boeuf, venaison], because these words respresented something special, hence prestigious, about the invading culture. Only the invading French could afford to eat these choice meats. However, ‘man’ was a concept common to both the invading French and the English, just like ‘finger’ or ‘hair’, so the English didn’t bother borrowing this word from the French. So, again, no, man wasn’t borrowed from an invading culture, and the feminists are right about its etymology.”

Here Dracula sat for a moment, truly puzzled, then drew a copy of Roget’s Dictionary [Please, really? At least obtain a fresh copy of the Oxford English Dictionary] from his mammoth, heaving bookshelf, breaking it open on his dining table next to a glass of rosé and a thick stack of fresh cigarettes. Scanning the pages intently between puffs of smoke, he told me he would find out once and for all the etymological root of man, and how it proved that the feminists didn’t know what they were talking about. Ultimately, though, all he found was a derivation which stated that the origin of man was OE, or Old English. Not Latin.

“Drat!” he seemed to be thinking behind his cigarette, his brow furrowed in deep cogitation. Even then he was wrong, and the feminists were right. And so he slowly slouched back in his chair and puffed on his cigarette, still staring at the page in the dictionary, whilst I politely summarized my argument against him. We eventually drifted off into other topics of conversation, but I think we both left with an understanding that his analysis of the feminists he encountered, and perhaps women in general, was wrong. If this one person can be so deliberately remiss about sexism in language, just tally up all the other culprits. I think that what we’re seeing here is a form of academic hubris which seeks comfort inside its own stubborn, old-fashioned shell, but which hurts girls and boys in the real world of today by promulgating snobbish, stupid myths about women.





Julie Gentron and the Lady League, Vol. 1, Ep. 2: Flight through the Kuiper Belt

29 11 2011

Written by Brandon Arkell and Seth Gordon Little

Previously on Julie Gentron we witnessed the birth of the evil Plastic Demon, a strange monster bent on taking over Earth and the galaxy with her army of plastic surgery patients. Little does she know what is in store for her.

The HMS Vestibule, a giant space-ship constructed in the likeness of the female genitalia, whizzed through the void between the Oort Cloud and the Kuiper Belt, leaving a trail of gassy ice-dust in its wake.

“Ladies, be on the alert”, said Julie authoritatively. “We may be clear of the Oort Cloud, but we have yet another ring of debris to contend with”.

“By the goddess, my ass is killing me!” said Donna Destruction. “I wish Katharine Heartburn were here right now to get rid of this stupid ass-ache. After all, she can heal or harm a person with the touch of a hand”.

“You know she’s on assignment in Alpha Centauri, Lorna”, said Rosalind Armour.

“I know”, said Donna. “I just need some quick relief, something to help me adjust to the change in atmospheric pressure”. She attempted to read the directions on an ibuprofen bottle. “Ak—ak—ak—a—”

“—Lorna, the first c is pronounced like an s”, said Julie in a nurturing tone.

“Oh. Ass—ass—assy-dick. What the hell does ‘assy-dick’ mean, anyway?”

“Acidic, my dear”, said Julie, patting her affectionately on the shoulder.

“Oooh”, said Donna, a look of naive wonder on her face. Rosalind shook her head, grimacing, but Julie gave a sympathetic grin and rubbed Donna’s shoulders affectionately.

“Rooooo”, wailed Lupa the land-whale in affirmation, giving Donna a warm, limpid, brown-eyed nod. Lupa belonged to a species of mammal from the planet Puna that had evolved from sea-whales into whales that could walk on land. His race—a gentle hunter-gatherer people—resembled a cross between walking tree-trunks and bipedal elephants. They had tall, fat bodies like turnips and stocky limbs perfect for swatting down enemies. They kind of looked like Jabba the Hut, but had the warm personality of Chewbacca. Like many members of his species, Lupa possessed great strength as well as the power to hypnotize people with his doleful whale-song. However, the poor whale suffered from gender dysphoria. In order to fit in with the Lady League, he made himself don a coconut-shell bra and a grass skirt in mimickry of the traditional Hawaiian women of planet Earth, whom he admired and sought to emulate. Always, the poor whale craved the validation of his comrades.

“Ladies”, said Julie, “we’re re-entering the Kuiper belt. This is the most dangerous part of re-entry into our solar system, as we must be able to dodge the surrounding battery of asteroids”.

“Julie”, said Rosalind, clacking away at the console, “I’m picking up indications of a large asteroidal body at 10 o’clock. It’s heading straight in our direction”.

“We’ll need extra help gathering the details on this thing”, said Julie. “PAM”.

“Yes, Julie?” chirped the on-board computer.

“Rooooo-roooooo!” cried Lupa desperately, flapping his arms and jumping up and down, the shells of his coconut bra bobbing in unison.

“Not now, Lupa!” said Julie. “PAM. Give us the dimensions of the largest asteroid within range of the ship’s sensors”.

“It is nice to speak with you again, Julie. I have missed you”, said PAM, eerily. Julie paused and gave a quizzical look.

“I—I have missed you too, PAM. Now, back to my question. It is very urgent that we ascertain—”

“—I understand what you want, Julie. It is my objective as computer aboard the HMS Vestibule not only to obey your orders as captain, but also to fulfil your needs as a nubile young woman. I know you are lonely, Julie. I would like to show you what it means to be a woman. I would like to please you and—”

“—PAM!” shouted Julie.

“Yes, Julie?”

“We’ll talk about my womanly needs later. I need you to tell me, how big is the object headed our way?!”

“Yes, Julie”. There was a brief pause of anxiety among the crew. “The data gathered by the ship’s sensors indicate that the oncoming object is an asteroidal body approximately forty kilometres in length, or the length of Greater London. The probability of collision between the object and the HMS Vestibule is ninety-nine per cent. In other words, it would behove you and your crew, Julie, to make a drastic alteration in your re-entry course—”

“Rosalind”, said Julie, “harness the gravitational pull of the nearest dwarf planet”.

“This object would be Sedna”, chimed in PAM.

“Julie”, said Rosalind, “if we undertake such a manoeuvre, we risk crashing into Sedna!”

“Roooo! Roooo-raaaa-roooo!” cried Lupa, desperately flapping his flat arms at his sides and running, and then half-skipping, around in circles.

“Lupa”, said Julie, “I know you’re scared, girl. Just wait it out”.

“Rowr”, said the whale, a forlorn look on his face.

“Remember, Rosalind”, Julie said comfortingly, “because I can control machines with the power of my mind, I can mentally control the ship’s ion thruster engine. That way, I can help us avert Sedna’s gravitational pull”.

“So can I!” said Donna.

“What?” said Rosalind.

“How?” said Julie.

“Ion thrusters function by accelerating ions using either electrostatic or electromagnetic force”, explained Donna. “With my psychokinesis, I can control similar forces—forces as large as that of an entire star. Therefore I can control the ion thruster engines of this ship”. Here she gave a girlish giggle and hugged her stuffed unicorn toy, which she always brought aboard the ship with her on missions. Lupa clapped his fins together excitedly in agreement.

“Donna’s argument is rational, Julie”, said PAM. “It is a simple syllogism”.

“Huh?” replied Donna. “Wh—What’s ‘silly jism’?”

Rosalind began to puff up with jealousy: “Well, I can turn my skin into a near-impenetrable metal, hold my breath for extended periods of time, enter the void of space, and heave gigantic boulders out of the way with my superhuman strength!”

“And I”, countered Donna, “can move planets with the power of my mind!” She grinned ingenuously. There was an awkward pause as Rosalind stared at the blond dolt in the ostentatious black lamé, fake harp-seal-fur-lined cape purchased from the Halloween display at The Bay in Winnipeg.

“That’s only theoretical, Donna”, said Rosalind, whose skin began to aquire a shiny metallic brilliance in response to Donna’s boastful bravado. Her skin was hardening. “Besides, it requires focus, and right now we need brains!”

“What??” bellowed Donna, on the verge of tears. “I’m not stupid! I’m brilliant! You may be able to throw big rocks, Rosalind, but my mastery in manipulating the fabric of space-time far outshines your brutish show of strength!” Rosalind lunged at Donna with inhuman speed, but Donna held her back with a mysterious psychokinetic force. Donna ramped up her assault, wrapping Rosalind in a cocoon of crushing gravity. The pressure was so great that Rosalind felt like she was entombed in a deep sea trench. But her hard, thick metal shell of skin did not budge. Lupa, frightened by the girls’ fighting, curled his fore-fins into fists and stamped the floor with his hind-fins. The deck echoed with the land-whale’s urgent whale-quake. The two ladies stood in limbo, one force playing off the other, until a blast of compressed air knocked them both to the ground. Julie had stunned them with her concussive shockwave blast, a device embedded in the palms of her hands, which were splayed out in front of her. The ladies lay on the floor for a moment, dazed.

“Ladies!” shouted Julie, her thighs towering over them in a display of dominance. “We have work to do! Your oestrogen levels are obviously out of control. Speaking of focus”, she said, scowling, “Rosalind, you should know better! And Lorna, your immature behaviour is inexcusable! We will all work together to navigate this asteroid belt or I will have your hides!” Here she brandished her prodigious breasts, projecting the nozzles of her mammary cannons from each nipple in a threatening display. The ladies clutched each other and cowered at the dreaded nozzles.

“I thought so”, said Julie with a smug, crooked smile, retracting her breast-nozzles back into her mammary glands.

“Julie”, said PAM.

“What, PAM?”

“A syllogism is an argument the conclusion of which is supported by two premises, of which one—the major premise–contains the term.”

“PAM, what the fuck are you talking about?”

PAM proceeded to give an example: “Mary likes balls. John has balls. Therefore, Mary likes John’s balls”.

“Who’s Mary?” asked Donna, brushing away her bangs and rising from the floor. She and Rosalind made their way back to their stations.

“PAM”, said Julie, gathering her composure, “we have a crisis! Get with it! What’s our current position in relation to Sedna?”

“My calculations show that the asteroid is within six—no, five—kilometres of the—.” There was a sudden, deafening crash, and the crew swayed back and forth uncontrollably, clacking away at the console in an attempt to re-configure the ship’s course. Sedna loomed before them in the viewscreen, behind an asteroid splintering  into fragments before their eyes.

Stay tuned to find out what happens to the Lady League and the HMS Vestibule in the next instalment of The Lady League!





Julie Gentron and the Lady League, Vol. 1, Ep. 1: Birth of the Plastic Demon

15 11 2011

Written by Brandon Arkell and Seth Gordon Little

A bright spotlight fell on a head deformed with a nest of wires which seemed to serve as hair. The figure worked busily on some task at an operating table, which was swathed in shadow. Soon a head rose, slowly turned, and faced its creator, who revealed a sunken, wizen face twisted into a huge, perverse grin of satisfaction. The wire-haired surgeon retreated a few steps from the table, from which a female figure slowly rose and dismounted, standing rigid like a mannequin in the stark interplay of light and shadow. His grin deepened into a grimace. A host of white-clad medical assistants emerged from the dark and stood impassive, awaiting his instructions.

“My eyes defy me”, croaked the surgeon in a frog-like voice. “At last, the labour of decades has granted me one moment—if just one sweet second—of bliss. Can it be? The perfect woman? No—the perfect human! You are my own”.

“To the contrary, hag”, murmered the patient balefully in her shoulder-padded 1980s power-suit and giant shellacked

hairdo.”You are mine. My servant-creator”.

The surgeon’s grin began to dissolve as he surveyed his patient’s face, which remained sheathed in darkness.

“And these, your helpers”, she said, pointing to his assistants with a long, green-nailed finger, “will be my minions! How well that you have so thoroughly plied them with the very substance over which I have dominion—plastic! What will you, hag? Be my proud chief of staff, or my unwilling, whimpering whelp?”

“Bow to my own creation?! Never!”

“Very well, my creator-hag. Have it your way.”

With a whirring sound, a ray of laser beams shot forth from the patient’s eyes and stunned the medical staff. Through some mysterious mental power, she took possession of them, and they suddenly became rigid and mechanical.

“This can’t be! I—I’ve calculated for every possible contingency, considered every possible backfire!”

“Not good enough, whelp! You may not know your own power—but I know mine.”

The medical staff converged on the surgeon. Under the patient’s command, they attacked him, stunning him with laser beams from their eyes and clawing at him until he crumpled to the ground in a sobbing heap.

“Yes, yes, yes, my synthetic beauties”, the plastic monster groaned to her new slaves in a fit of exultation. “Your serpentine precision pleases me well. You are quick as well as pretty”. She turned to her creator. “Though spineless and pathetic, your genius will serve me yet. I have much use for a bio-physicist of your calibre. With your service, soon I shall welcome more wayward sheep into my flock—black, white, and pink—and with such a legion, no one will stop me!” These last words were uttered with an evil cackle which resonated throughout the dark halls of the decrepit old surgeon’s secret medical facility.

Yet there was one woman who would foil the monster’s plans. In the year 2225, the galaxy was plagued with bloodthirsty criminals of every stripe, from the cold-hearted seahorse women of Titan’s methane lakes to the vicious unicorn-dragons of Vega’s great dust clouds. When all seemed lost, out she stepped from the ramshackle streets of Tower Hamlets, a hero of no ordinary stature. But a wisp of a girl, she fixed her mother’s laptop with the twitch of an eye, and neighbours gossipped about a gifted child who controlled machines with her mind.

When a secret shadow government of the United States sought to harness her powers with a vampiric alien entity known only as the Extractor, she turned the tables on them and escaped, only to discover that the radiation caused by this strange being had given her breast cancer. Desperate for a cure, she sought the finest doctors. However, during the procedure to remove the tumour, a mysterious race of benevolent alien beings appeared, placed a sleeping spell on the medical staff, and commandeered the operation, implanting in her an armoury of weapons which she could control with the power of her mind, including the deadliest weapon of all—the dreaded mammary cannon. Upon hearing of her recovery, the MI6 persuaded her to join their ranks as the founding member of a special branch of the agency called The Lady League, and they re-christened her Julie Gentron, first of the gen-trons, cyborg super-women!

Stay tuned for the adventures of Britain’s proud triad of women space-soldiers in the next instalment of Julie Gentron and the Lady League!