|Thursday, August 31, 2017 05:21 AM|
| by Fëanor|
Not sure if I like how this one came out, but I'm posting it anyway. See what you think. It's a villanelle.
The Thing About Mistakes
One thing, at least, is good about mistakes:
We learn by them how not to live our lives.
These errors made but once, we won't remake.
Each day our agonies are fresh, our aches
Are newly forged, as bright and sharp as knives.
One thing, at least, is good about mistakes.
This poison drunk in haste our thirst will slake
For testing what our bodies can survive.
These errors made but once, we won't remake.
Perhaps a time or two our hearts will break,
But surely love will help us to revive.
One thing, at least, is good about mistakes.
The searing words I spat for anger's sake
I won't repeat - will I? - while I'm alive.
These errors made but once, we won't remake.
Oh we'd be victims of the cruelest jape
To wrong each wrong again a hundred times.
One thing there must be good about mistakes.
But errors, once they're made, we make and make.
|Wednesday, August 9, 2017 07:26 PM|
|(Last updated on Thursday, August 10, 2017 09:02 AM)|
|It's been a while. How about a sonnet? |
| by Fëanor|
I hadn't written anything in a long while and I was starting to feel pretty down, so I banged out a sonnet. Hope you like.
To whom it may concern, as dear to me
as air: my doubt of you's a sour stone,
a serpent 'round my heart. Your ghost, at sea
Might swallowed be to wander halls of bone,
Your jail the whale that made you: 'prisoned wraith
From bottled boat, excreted fantasy.
However, if this note were sent in faith
It might be found and caught between your teeth.
It takes a mouth, an ear,
so many words
To lay this revenant. But if I speak,
To prove your life, will fog of breath just blur
A mirror's glass? Whose feet set boards to creak?
Whose hand is this I hold?
I am sincere
In this, at least: I wish that you were here.
|Friday, February 3, 2017 09:06 AM|
|(Last updated on Monday, February 6, 2017 03:34 PM)|
|I Wrote a Book!|
| by Fëanor|
Well, I wrote the book a while ago. And then my brother drew and colored pictures to go with. And then he made a couple of physical copies just for us. But now! You can go and buy it yourself! On Amazon! It's only an eBook for now, but we're going to look into making it possible to buy a physical, printed copy, too. Anyway, here it is!
Ballyhoo, and Mom's Other Tigers
It's a children's book, in verse, about tigers, sort of. If you do purchase it, and like it, please leave a review on Amazon! I understand good reviews are a great way to help us generate further interest and more sales. Thanks much!
UPDATE: And now it's also available in paperback!
|Tuesday, January 10, 2017 08:14 PM|
|(Last updated on Tuesday, January 10, 2017 08:17 PM)|
|Letter to Trump|
| by Fëanor|
This is a letter I wrote and mailed to Donald Trump last week. I... probably shouldn't have done it. I certainly hesitated before dropping it in the mailbox. I was probably already on a watchlist somewhere, and I definitely am now. But I figure, as a white man, I should use my privilege, make myself a target, stand in front of the more vulnerable, and yell, "Come get me!" And that's basically what this letter does. Hoo boy.
January 6th, 2017
President-Elect Donald J. Trump
C/O The Trump Organization
725 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10022
Dear Mr. Trump,
Greetings. My name is Jim Genzano. I'm a liberal, a husband, and a father. I also voted for Hillary Clinton for President – as did a majority of my fellow Americans, I'm happy to remind you. I'm writing today what I believe will be the first of many letters, to you and to my other elected representatives.
Although I've paid attention to politics on and off for many years, and have voted in the major elections since I've had that right, I've recently become far more politically active than I've ever been before – calling my representatives, joining online action groups, and donating money to various candidates and causes. Perhaps you can guess the reason: your election to the office of President of the United States.
I was horrified and disgusted by your campaign, and certain you could not win. How could someone so obviously inexperienced and unprepared for the job; so blustering and unprofessional; so xenophobic, misogynistic, homophobic, regressive, and racist – a con-man, a bully, a fascist, and a serial sexual harasser – possibly be chosen to follow the first African-American President, who has been such a beacon of hope and progress?
But, thanks to the racists, the short-sighted, the uneducated, Vladimir Putin, and James Comey, you were elected. And here we are. And I'm not quite over my horror and disappointment yet. But I am determined to fight.
Let's talk about your cabinet picks. Each one has been more horrific than the last.
Rex Tillerson lacks any of the necessary experience to be Secretary of State. He has suspiciously close ties with Vladimir Putin, the man our intelligence agencies tell us was directly involved with hacking the DNC and helping elect you. As CEO of a fossil fuel company, he can hardly be expected to be a champion in the fight against climate change and fossil fuel use, which is a cause that's very important to me, and to all reasonable humans. We will fight to keep him from becoming Secretary of State.
Jeff Sessions is an infamous xenophobe and racist, fighting amnesty and immigration at every turn. He's pro-war and anti-environment. He voted against banning torture of prisoners. Many civil rights organizations, including the NAACP, and more than 1100 law school professors, have protested his nomination. We will fight to keep him from becoming Attorney General.
Tom Price is anti-choice and pro-gun. He believes insurers should not be required to cover pre-existing conditions, or provide access to birth control. He also wants to cut Medicare, and is a member of the fraudulent group the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. He's a terrible choice to head the Department of Health and Human Services. We will fight his appointment.
Betsy DeVos wants to destroy public education. She has already made a disaster of it in Michigan. And you want to put her in charge of it at the federal level. We will fight to keep that from happening.
Ben Carson has no experience in federal government and shouldn't hold any position in it – as he himself has admitted. We will fight his appointment.
Do you plan to install a reactionary Justice on the Supreme Court? We will fight you.
Will you seek to take away women's rights, including the right to choose? We will fight you. We cannot and will not allow the overturn of Row v. Wade.
Your Republican friends have already begun their latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Such an act would leave millions of Americans without healthcare, and condemn many to death. There's no question that the American healthcare system needs repair, but dismantling the ACA with no backup plan in place is obviously not the answer. We will fight to protect the ACA.
Your friend Paul Ryan plans to dismantle Medicare, but it should be protected and expanded. We will fight him.
The GOP seeks to defund the United Nations, while you sit on Twitter fomenting war and supporting nuclear proliferation. But the world needs empathy, calm and organized discussion, and peace – not more posturing, antagonism, and weaponry. We will fight for disarmament and peace.
You have said that you plan to take away the rights of American citizens based on their race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation. This is unethical, immoral, and un-American. We cannot deport millions of Americans, or tell them their love is illegal, or that they cannot use the bathroom they feel comfortable in. We will fight for an America for all.
Black Lives Matter. Police corruption, militarization, and abuse of power must end. We will fight any attempt to install white supremacy in the American government.
The NRA and gun lobbies do not need to gain even more power than they already have. Gun violence is an epidemic and only reasonable gun control legislation can rein it in. More guns will never lead to fewer shootings. We will not allow this.
Do you plan to give tax cuts to your cadre of billionaires and leave poor Americans footing the bill? This is unacceptable. It's the rich who must begin to pay their fair share. Poverty and income inequality must end. We will fight for that end.
You have expressed skepticism about climate change. But it is a scientific fact, and humans are responsible. We are also responsible for fighting it. We must protect our environment, end fracking, stop the building of pipelines through protected land, bolster environmental regulation, invest in renewable energy, and move away from fossil fuels. You will not be allowed to undo the progress we have made on this front. This is not about money or politics – this is about the future of humanity on this planet.
I thank you for taking the time to read this. And know that I have asked my representatives to fight your agenda every step of the way, and that I will be doing the same in my own small way. I know that you may succeed in much of what you plan to do. But we will not make it easy for you. We will obstruct you every way we can. Assuming you are not impeached and removed from office before your term is over, I suppose we must resign ourselves to four years of you as President. But don't expect to hold the title a single instant longer than that. Given a second chance, I am convinced that the American people will reject you, as they should have in the first place.
And meanwhile, we will fight you; I will fight you. That's my promise.
|Friday, December 16, 2016 07:12 PM|
|(Last updated on Tuesday, December 20, 2016 10:24 AM)|
|On the Viewer - Rogue One: A Star Wars Story|
| by Fëanor|
TL;DR - Despite some weird choices and missing details, this is a great movie.
The first of the standalone, spin-off, non-"Episode" Star Wars movies has been released! Rogue One sits in a territory of the timeline that is already being effectively mined by the animated series Star Wars Rebels: the period between Episode III and Episode IV, when the Empire is spreading and gaining power, and the Rebellion is still a scrappy little thing seeking its first big success. It focuses specifically on the small team of misfits that pull together against all odds to steal the plans to the first Death Star. In fact, (spoiler?) the movie takes us right up to the opening second of A New Hope, and features various cameos from that film's cast of characters - sometimes even going so far as to include creepy computer-generated recreations of the actors, or actual footage from the movie.
One of the more interesting things about Rogue One is that it gives us a different perspective on the Rebellion than we're used to. The original trilogy of Star Wars films is fairly black and white: the Rebels and the Jedi are the Good Guys, and the Imperials and the Sith are the Bad Guys. Sure, there are Han and Lando, who do questionable things, but they're the exceptions that prove the rule - a couple of rough and tumble dudes who are ultimately transformed and choose to join the Rebellion when they see it's the right thing to do. The Alliance itself is presented as a kind of monolith - a group of good people united to do good.
Things get a bit more complex in the prequels, as these films are the story of good things going bad - a Republic rotting from the inside and becoming an Empire (sounds familiar!), and a great Jedi falling and becoming twisted into a Sith Lord. But still, there's not a lot of gray area; Anakin and the Republic are good, and then a switch is flipped and they are bad.
What Rogue One gives us is an Alliance that isn't as allied, or as good and pure, as what we've seen in the past. These Rebels are fractious, with their own internal politics, intrigues, and warring factions. One of the first Rebels we meet, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) does very questionable things in service of the Alliance. So questionable that he himself cannot look back at them, and must always move forward, trusting that the end will justify the means (which is a pretty morally and ethically shaky stance for a Star Wars hero). Later, at a Rebel council, we see how at odds the various heads of the movement are, and how easily the whole resistance could have fallen apart in despair and hopelessness right at its beginnings. But hope is what the film is all about: hope that we can see our loved ones again, hope that we can redeem ourselves, hope that we can make a difference, hope that we can somehow stop the darkness, no matter the cost. The "New Hope" from the title of Episode IV starts here - is born here, with the selfless and desperate actions of a group of people thrown together by fate (or the Force?) who seek only to stop the rise of the horrible, destructive, all-encompassing power of the Empire and its terrible new weapon, the Death Star.
Another interesting new perspective that Rogue One gives us is a view of the Star Wars universe through the lens of the ordinary people in it, instead of through the lens of a heroic prophesied Jedi. In fact, for the first time, this is a Star Wars story that has no Jedi in it at all. Donnie Yen's blind mystic warrior, Chirrut Îmwe, appears to be at least Force-sensitive, but as his close friend and partner, Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen), points out, he is no Jedi - because there are no Jedi anymore. Despite that, a faith in the Force flourishes among the Rebels, and it is much more like a religion here than it has ever been in the other films, where it was more a super power than anything else.
(Time for a plot summary! Mild spoilers follow.)
The central character of the film is Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), a girl orphaned by the Empire, raised by a rebel even among the Rebels - the warrior Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) - and then cast off into the world to fend for herself. Jyn believes in little except her own survival, and is resigned to the world the way it is - under Imperial control - until she has hope kindled in her again by a message carried by defecting Imperial pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed). The message is from her long-lost father, Galen (Mads Mikkelsen), and it reveals that he is still alive, still loves her, and is not truly the traitor he appears to be. In fact, he has hidden a fatal flaw in the heart of the Imperial superweapon he's helped build, if only the Rebels can acquire the plans, and find an opportunity to exploit it. (It's a pleasing revelation that the design flaw in the Death Star was actually put there on purpose by the Rebel sympathizer who was forced to help build the thing.)
Even speaking as a die hard Star Wars fan, I have to admit that the series has never been big on complex characters or deep characterization. Anakin/Vader, as examined over the course of six (now seven!) films, probably ends up being the most complex and deeply realized character in this universe, despite the fact that he starts out in A New Hope as little more than a mysterious black-clad uber villain (albeit the daddy of them all). That being said, The Force Awakens made a successful attempt at deeper characterization, especially with Finn and Rey. Rogue One makes that attempt again, but it goes less well. Part of the reason is simply that there are so many characters, and so much story to tell, that there's little screen time available to devote to backstory and development for them all. By the end of the movie, I didn't feel like I'd really gotten to know any of our main cast. We only get the barest glimpses at their pasts and motivations. Jyn is the person we learn the most about, and I still felt like I was missing important information about her. The good side of this is, we want to know more about these people. They are intriguing, and clearly have fascinating pasts. I'd particularly like to know Captain Andor's story. He clearly has done some horrific things for the Alliance, and they haunt him.
Another good thing about this big cast: it's quite diverse. We've got a woman as the main character, accompanied by a Hispanic man, a black man, a couple of Asian men, and a Pakistani man. The people in charge at the Empire are white, but it seems clear that there's a point being made there - they're Nazis, after all. The Alliance has a lot of white guys, too, but they also have women, aliens, and black and brown people on their ruling council, as well as black and brown people among their ground soldiers.
Probably the greatest character in the film, however, is not any of the humans or aliens. It is instead Captain Andor's sidekick, the reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk). The droid is a sarcastic, pessimistic, wise-cracking misanthrope, and it's hilarious and fantastic.
More mild spoilers: one of the things I found most disconcerting and odd about the movie was the decision to use computer technology to resurrect Peter Cushing so that he could reprise his role as Grand Moff Tarkin. Similarly weird was the inclusion of Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia in the final shot, made young again through computer technology. This was very distracting and totally unnecessary. The filmmakers could easily have found actors who looked and sounded like Cushing and a young Fisher and put them in the roles. We're smart people, used to different actors playing the same part; we would have been able to figure it out.
Rogue One is a Star Wars movie that takes a hard look at the filthy reality and the hard costs of war. It is a dark and a brutal story, but it offers us the promise that with these peoples' many sacrifices, a terrible evil will be destroyed, and future people will live in freedom and peace. And sometimes that's the best we can hope for.
|Monday, December 12, 2016 11:33 AM|
|Making the Rounds Again|
| by Fëanor|
I called my reps again today, and below is what I said this time. I'm trying to keep it short and sweet, for the benefit of myself, and that of the poor interns that I talk to.
Hi, I'm Jim Genzano. I'm a constituent of Mr. _________ and I'm calling to ask him to support the call from members of the Electoral College that the Electors be fully briefed by U.S. Intelligence Officials on Russian influence on the election, before they cast their votes on December 19th. Thank you.
|Tuesday, December 6, 2016 04:16 PM|
| by Fëanor|
I called my representatives again this afternoon with a new wishlist! Thought I'd share it with y'all. (I considered also adding a bit about encouraging Electors to refuse to vote for Trump, but decided not to.)
Hi, I'm Jim Genzano. I'm a constituent and I'm calling to ask _____ to continue to block President-elect Trump and his agenda in every way s/he can. Specifically, I'm hoping s/he will:
- Support calls to investigate irregularities in the presidential election.
- Support efforts to recount votes in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nevada.
- Support calls to investigate Trump's financials and conflicts of interest.
- Block all Trump's cabinet appointments in any way possible, especially Steve Bannon.
- (Senators only) Filibuster the waiver that retired Gen. James Mattis would need in order to serve as secretary of defense.
- Support calls to impeach Donald Trump.
|Monday, November 21, 2016 10:45 AM|
|Call and Call Again|
| by Fëanor|
I just called my representatives back and gave them a list of specific things I'd like them to do. Here it is, if you're interested:
- Demand that President-elect Trump denounce the hate crimes being performed around the country in his name.
- Oppose any attempt to create a registry of Muslim citizens.
- Demand an investigation into Russian interference in the election.
- Support the call for a bipartisan review of Trump's financials and apparent conflicts of interest.
- Oppose the appointment of Steve Bannon as chief strategist and senior counselor.
- Oppose the appointment of Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.
- Oppose the appointment of General Mike Flynn as national security adviser.
- Oppose the appointment of Representative Mike Pompeo as CIA director.
|Thursday, November 17, 2016 09:45 AM|
|(Last updated on Thursday, November 17, 2016 12:33 PM)|
| by Fëanor|
I've been trying to work out how best I can fight back against Trump, and according to what I'm reading, actually picking up the phone and calling your Representatives is the best way to be heard. My Representatives here in New Jersey are all Democrats and most of them have already spoken out and taken stands against Trump, so I'm not sure how much me calling them really means, but I want to feel like I'm doing something, so that's what I'm doing.
I spoke to a human at Donald Norcross' office, and left a message for Cory Booker. Interestingly enough, Robert Menendez's line was busy, and his mailbox was full! So I'll have to try him again later. (ETA: I did call back, and this time I got through to a staffer and gave him my spiel.) I'm not sure if it's worthwhile to call my more local Representatives, like the state senator and state assembly members, as I'm not sure how much they can really do, but maybe I will give it a shot.
If you're interested, below is a generic version of the script I'm using; I alter it slightly for each person to make it more specific to them and what they've done so far. Also, if you need to figure out who your representatives are (I did!), you can use this tool or this site.
Hi, I'm [Your Name], a constituent of [Representative's Name]. I'm calling to ask [Representative's Name] to use all means at his disposal to fight back against President-elect Trump and his policies of hate. In particular, I'm hoping [Representative's Name] will speak out strongly against President-elect Donald Trump's naming of Steve Bannon as chief White House strategist and senior counselor. Mr. Bannon built and runs a powerful platform for promoting racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia. The election of Trump and appointment of Bannon made the KKK and other white nationalist groups rejoice. For me personally, Trump's election and his actions so far have been terrifying. I fear for the safety of my friends and loved ones, and for the future of our country and our world. We cannot sit idly by and allow white supremacists to take over our government. We cannot allow Mr. Trump to take away womens' right to choose; to take away the rights of citizens based on their sexual orientation, race, or religion; to dismantle the Affordable Care Act or Medicare; and we cannot allow Mr. Trump to obstruct the fight against climate change, which is essential to the survival of humanity. All Americans of good conscience must join in opposing Mr. Trump, and I hope [Representative's Name] will be part of that fight. Thank you.
|Friday, October 28, 2016 03:06 PM|
|Please Please Please Vote Hillary. Please.|
| by Fëanor|
Really, the title of the post kind of says it all. But I've got this blog here, and this election is important to me, so I feel like I ought to state my case in a little more detail before the big day is here. I'll try to make it quick.
I'm pretty radically liberal, so there's almost no chance I'd have ever supported a Republican nominee for President, regardless of who that was. That being said, I don't think I've ever been confronted with a presidential candidate of any party more frightening than Donald Trump. As poppy and I have said to each other many times over the last year or so, although we certainly didn't want a President Mitt Romney, we weren't actually terrified of the possibility. He didn't seem clinically insane, completely unreasonable, dangerously unqualified, or at all likely to cause World War III. Then there's Donald Trump.
I'm sure you've heard or read about the various horrific things Donald Trump has said during his campaign; he's got a fresh zinger in the news nearly every day. He is unapologetically racist, anti-immigrant, and misogynist. He is supported by various racist groups. When he said "no one respects women more than me" at the final debate, the audience actually laughed at him and had to be quieted by the moderator. He has little or no qualifications for the job. He is a petulant, belligerent egoist; a repugnant bully.
Poppy and I are actually frightened at the prospect of what this man would do if he were given the powers of the President of the United States. Just watch him for a while, read about him, listen to him speak. Do you really want this man sitting in the Oval Office? Do you really want him to be your representative to the world? Because that's what will happen if we don't all vote for Hillary Clinton.
Some people say both candidates are awful, and complain about having to choose the lesser of two evils, but for me, the differences between the candidates have never been more stark, and the choice has never been more clear. We can choose to follow up the first African-American President in history with an unqualified racist misogynist who denies the reality of climate change, or we can choose to follow him up with the first woman President in history, who is more than qualified for the job and who, thanks to Bernie Sanders pushing her in that direction, is supporting some surprisingly liberal policies.
Years from now, when it's all over, would you rather be able to say, "I helped put the first woman in the Oval Office," or, "I helped put that guy from that reality show who made fun of disabled people in the Oval Office?"
Do you want to keep on the way we're going, moving with the current of history, embracing hope, inclusion, and empathy? Or do you want to turn around and march backwards into the arms of hate and fear and bigotry? Because that second thing is what Trump is talking about when says he wants to "make America great again." That may all sound a bit melodramatic, but I really feel that's the choice that's facing us with this election.
And if you're anti-Trump, but you don't want to vote for Hillary... Okay, I understand that. Clinton wasn't my first choice. I voted for Bernie in the primary. But the sad fact is, any vote that doesn't go to Hillary might as well be a vote for Trump. And I just don't think we can afford a President Trump.
The polls and forecasts are definitely pointing toward a victory for Hillary Clinton. But polls and forecasts don't mean anything in the long run. It's the actual votes that count. So please. Please, please, please. For my sake, for your sake, for the sake of our families, for the sake of our country, for the sake of our world, please vote for Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.