Great Life Lessons Taught To Me By My Transgender Girlfriend

Everybody deserves to be happy with who they are and in the skin they want.
Source: Huffington Post

Those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter will know that, on Tuesday, I publicly announced the official first date between me and Marie – a beautiful and talented anthro artist (check her out on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram and commission her if you get the notion) and out-and-proud transgender woman. We’ve been chatting for some time now without ever being face-to-face due to several states worth of distance between us. But, an overnight trip to Connecticut allowed us to meet and I was introduced to her circle of friends. It was a great time and I feel we got to know each other a lot better – an impressive feat since this appears to be one of those rare relationships where both parties seem to know each other before they even meet.

But, more pertinent to this essay is the fact that she, knowing that I recently came out as gender fluid, helped me rediscover and feel more confident in my newly freed identity. And because I know she wants little more than to see her fellow trans men and women be happy and confident, I’d like to share the teachings she passed on to me during those magical two days together.

‘Transgender’ means more than you may think

This is less something Marie taught me than it is something I always knew, but I was reminded of it several times over the course of our trip. So I feel the need to establish it here.

But yes; even though I identify specifically as “gender fluid,” you’d be TECHNICALLY correct to call me “transgender.” You see, transgender is a rather large umbrella term that goes far beyond transgender man or transgender woman. It’s meant to be a sort of catch-all term for anyone whose gender identity differs from the standard identity that’s prescribed to someone’s biological sex.

Of course, while it may be TECHNICALLY correct to call a non-binary, gender fluid, etc. person transgender, it’s worth it to go the extra distance to refer to someone as the gender they identify as. It’s similar to how you should respect a person’s preferred gender pronouns if they have any; not only will you get a better understanding of them as a person, but you demonstrate that you care enough about them to get it right – thus strengthening the friendship.

Trans-people are just like cis-people

Again, something I already knew. But meeting with Marie and her friends (a few of whom were also transgender) and talking about life experiences re-confirmed it and it’s something worth noting to the public.

Talking to trans-people since college has taught me that there’s actually very little (if anything) different personality and lifestyle wise between a transgender person and a cisgender person. We both have shared experiences, feelings, and insights. We fall in and out of love the same way, work similar crappy jobs, enjoy watching the same movies and rocking out to the same music. Hell, we even have the same sweetheart-to-scumbag ratio between the two of us.

The only thing that separates the two is that incredibly minor difference in how we identify ourselves. And let’s be brutally honest; if you’re going to let something as minor as a personal identity separate you from an entire swath of humanity, you are missing out on a lot of potential good times. Yes, you’re likely to meet some duds here and there, but you were going to get that with the crowd you were with anyway. So why not broaden the friend search?

You don’t need hormones to feel sexy

One of the many exciting moments I shared with Marie was when she, knowing I had a limited wardrobe to choose from, donated some old hand-me-downs she was planning on getting rid of. Miraculously, almost all of them fit. And when I first put them on, I couldn’t stop striking poses in the mirror for how much I loved the way I looked.

For most trans-people, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is one of, if not the most, crucial choices in their lives. However, seeing me strut about in pants that ACTUALLY made my butt look cute for a change reminded me that you shouldn’t feel pressured into jumping into it ASAP. Much like the initial process of coming out, you get to decide when, how, and even if you decide to start HRT.

Don’t get me wrong, I’M still probably going to do it. In fact, I’m going to try talking with an endocrinologist on my next day off to set up the initial meeting and go through health risk, planning, etc. But the point is that only I, not anyone or anything else, gets to dictate that.

Having trusted friends makes all the difference

I had only been out in public twice in feminine attire before this trip and always in smaller settings. This trip was a big deal; I was in crowded restaurants and malls where anyone could raise a fuss. But having Marie by my side really did make it all seem like less of a problem. In fact, both she and I were stunned by how casually I strutted about without a single f*** to give out like business cards.

This bit of advice goes out to friends of trans-people as much as trans-people themselves; If you care about the well-being of your friends, be there for them. The little things like helping them shop for clothes or escorting them to the bathroom may seem like small potatoes to you, but they give them all the confidence in the world.

And speaking of confidence…

As in all things, confidence is key

I was pleasantly surprised with just how many people seemed unbothered by the six-foot-four, 250-pound Scots-Irish amazon idly traipsing through the food court in a pair of hip-hugging stretch jeans as I downed an energy drink and nibbled on my bland but passable sweet and sour pork from the Chinese food place. That’s when Marie dropped the biggest truth bomb of the entire trip on me; no one cared because I didn’t care.

In the back of my head, I knew this for some time. My years as a stage performer in college taught me that the slightest weakness in your ego will give everyone something to criticize. But when you step off the stage and into the public eye, it’s surprisingly easy to forget that truth. Whatever you do, trans-related or otherwise, you need to go into it without hesitation and confident that you have this locked down tight.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go shopping for a new purse because woman’s pants pockets are even more bulls*** than I gave them credit for and I am NOT going to carry my phone around in my adorable new bralette.

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The Beautiful Sadness of Optimistic Nihilism

When you aren’t led by purpose, you are freed by absurdity.
Source: 9Gag

I have, on multiple occasions, been a firm believer in the absurdist school of philosophical thought. But lately, as my news feeds get filled with more of the same political drama and I hear more from friends being dragged down by the weight of the world, I’ve been falling back on my absurdist thoughts. To that end, I feel I owe it to those that may be struggling to go into the very core of my philosophy. And if any of you know of someone that that is being brought down, I pray that you take this view to heart and share it with those that may need it.

To that end, let’s talk about nihilism.

Nihilism has a lot of different meanings depending on what field of study you use it in. For the purposes of philosophy though, we’re talking about existential nihilism – the belief life has no intrinsic meaning or purpose. If you’ve paid attention to my long-winded speechifying on the subject though, you will note that – despite being born of the existential school of philosophy – this concept of meaningless and valueless existence is the very definition of absurdism.

It seems that, to the average person, a nihilist is just a gloomy, misery obsessed downer who seeks to bring others down with them. And while those people do exist and should be avoided at all costs, they aren’t the what the average nihilistic absurdist strives to be.

To an absurdist, the knowledge that we are all so insignificant in the grand scale of the universe is not a spirit-crushing thought, but an uplifting one. The fact that human existence is an aimless task with a definitive and likely fast approaching endpoint means that the only things of any importance are the things and that YOU personally prescribe value to; Only the things that bring you joy matter.

As for all of the negativity in your life? All the mistakes you made? The people that hurt you? Yup, they’re just as pointless. All of those terrible things and people that have tormented you will evaporate into oblivion along with you and the rest of humanity when our time comes. So it only makes sense to ignore all of that infuriating nonsense that only serves to distract you from the things that enrich your limited time.

Now, I realize that this all sounds very egocentric and self-absorbed. But if you’re the kind of person that gets enjoyment from other’s happiness (and you are, AREN’T YOU?), this is also a huge motivator to want to improve the world and the equally brief lives of those in it. After all, there is a legitimate case to be made for altruism motivated by self-interest.

To put it in nerdier terms, imagine life as an RPG. You spawn on Earth with a randomly generated character and are given a sandbox environment so massive that neither you or any of the other players will likely ever be able to see it all. You can build and grow your stats through the various quests you can choose to take or leave at your leisure. You can choose whatever class you want to play or even discover a brand new class that others may want to play as. You can customize your character with all sorts of gear you can earn through any number of means. You can go on party quests with as many or as few people as you want. But most importantly, there is no end to the number of achievements you can earn and no one knows what kind of great loot you can find for earning them. There are no boss battles, but those would just distract you from the thrill of exploring the environment, interacting with other players, and watching the beautiful cutscenes of the most immersive story in gaming history. And should you start feeling sad because you failed a quest, don’t despair. That only means that something amazing happened during that quest to make you happy to begin with and that you’re still alive to find a new quest or maybe even try that quest again.

This is why I embrace nihilism. I’m not miserable, as I’m often lead to believe; I’m merely contemplating what quest I should take tomorrow. I’m planning my next big raiding party. I’m wondering what gear I need for the big PvP event next month and how much gold it will cost.

If you or someone you know is feeling trapped by the world – like prey to a carnivorous and uncaring universe, please take these words to heart: Focus on your past only long enough to avoid repeating it. Walk through the things and people that hurt you like the vapor they are. Only YOUR journey and how YOU choose to make it truly have any meaning in such a beautifully brief existence.

May the chaos of nihilism shatter the chains that bind your soul.

A Very Brief (And Woefully Incomplete) Primer on Asexuality

… Well, some of us do on occasion, but we aren’t exactly crazy about doing so.
Source: falunel.deviantart.com

I’ve made mention several times on Twitter, Facebook, and right here on The Archive that I am an out-and-proud Asexual. But recently, I’ve noticed people within my circle of friends and family discussing the topic of asexuality more or even coming out to me as falling under the asexual spectrum (yes, asexuality is a spectrum; we’ll get into that).

So, I felt like it was my duty to talk about asexuality; not just among friends, but publicly so that all of those curious about it could understand it better. After all, one of the biggest problems plaguing the asexual community is a lack of visibility that leads other to claim that it “doesn’t exist” or that we’re just “secretly gay” or “trying to be special.”

Now, to be clear, this isn’t going to be a perfect resource. I may be asexual myself, but I’m not an authority on sexual orientation (if such a thing can be said to exist). To that end, this is going to be a HIGHLY simplified collection FAQs and debunked misconceptions tinged by my own experiences. If you want to learn more, I deeply ask you to check out The Asexual Visibility and Education Network for more information. So, with all veneers of expertise removed, let’s begin.

Attraction Vs. Desire Vs. Activity

One of the larger misconceptions is that asexuality is just a fancy name for what others would call celibacy. Another is that asexuality is just an excuse to justify a weak libido. These couldn’t be further from the truth.

Asexuality, low-to-no libido, and celibacy together demonstrate the disconnect between sexual attraction, sexual desire, and sexual activity respectfully. It’s often difficult for most asexuals or “aces” to explain the concept of sexual attraction since – surprise – we don’t experience it and it’s kinda hard to explain something that you don’t have a frame of reference for.

The simplest explanation I can muster is this: An ace can still be sexually aroused (genitals are stupid and can be turned on by just about anything) and many are still willing to engage in intercourse (until evolution allows humans to reproduce through parthenogenesis, babies need to come from somewhere). However, they simply don’t find others sexually attractive. We can certainly identify people as “cute,” “beautiful,” or sometimes even “sexy,” but sexual attraction may as well not exist to us.

This separates asexuality from the aforementioned low libido – a loss of sex drive and sexual desire that can be countered with medical treatments – and celibacy – the active choice to abstain from sexual activity for various reasons. So when in doubt remember this: if there’s no sexual attraction, it’s asexuality. If there’s attraction but no drive or desire, it’s low libido. If there is attraction and desire but you actively choose not to, it’s celibacy. The important point to take home here is that, whatever you identify as, it’s your identity and it’s valid.

Sex-Positive, Sex-Neutral, and Sex-Repulsed Aces

As briefly mentioned above, many aces still engage in sex or sexual acts. However, not all of them do and not all of them enjoy it or enjoy it to the same extent. This is why the asexual spectrum and the distinction of grey-asexuality or “gray-a” is so important. Different aces may, and likely will, have varying feelings towards sex.

Sex-positive aces regard sex as an enjoyable experience and may even encourage openness about sexuality. However, they still don’t find themselves sexually attracted to anyone. When interacting with a sex-positive ace, please note that their sexual identity is still valid and the fact that they find sex enjoyable doesn’t make them less of an ace. Remember; there’s a difference between attraction, desire, and action.

Sex-neutral aces – the camp that I belong to – tend to treat sex as a tertiary thought. We aren’t exactly opposed to the idea of sex and many of us will gladly engage if it means pleasing a lover or wanting to start a family. However, we aren’t exactly crazy about the idea and probably won’t break our necks to get some. The same considerations paid to sex-positive aces above should be given to sex-neutral ones. Again, attraction is not desire is not action (is that getting through yet?).

Sex-repulsed aces are genuinely disinterested or even disgusted by sex and/or sexual activity. In some cases, just the mere mention of sex makes them incredibly uncomfortable. Bare this in mind when interacting with sex-repulsed aces and respect their comfort zone. This also means not treating them – or any ace, for that matter – as emotionally or psychologically broken. There doesn’t necessarily need to be some kind of trauma to be repulsed by sex. Sometimes, people just find sex undesirable for any number of reasons (speaking personally, I usually just find sex too funny or too clinical to be enjoyable).

Demisexuality

I can’t in good conscience talk about the asexual spectrum without giving at least a brief mention its most often underrepresented section; the demisexuals.

Demisexuality falls under and is a very important part of the asexual spectrum. It describes a person who CAN develop a sexual attraction towards a person, but only after a deep, emotional connection has been formed. This makes it one of the most difficult orientations in the asexual spectrum to explain to people and, by extension, one that catches a lot of criticism – even from fellow aces.

But, it’s important to note that demisexuals ARE part of the asexual spectrum. They don’t experience sexual attraction in the same way as other sexual orientations would and need to be respected and welcomed. They aren’t outsiders; they’re human and kin.

How To Respect An Ace

I know I’ve beating the “attraction/desire/action” drum this whole time, but it seems so difficult to convey the importance of it to some people. These folks and I have a valid and legitimate orientation – a very specific way that we prefer to interact with our lovers in order to feel comfortable and secure. This doesn’t mean that we are broken or seeking attention and it’s not a moral or ethical choice like some people consider celibacy to be; it’s just the way we are and we all need to respect that.

Also, just as you should ANY sexual orientation, we ask that you respect our boundaries. If one of us tells you that sex or talking about sex makes us uncomfortable, please stop. If we don’t want to have sex with you, please understand that it’s not a negative judgment of you but us trying to maintain a comfortable sexual environment.

Ultimately, we aces are just like everyone else. And like everyone else, we just want to feel happy and comfortable in our own way.

The Agent’s Lyrical Breakdown of Luke Bryan’s “Most People Are Good”

So, no sooner did I put out my declaration of disgust for Country music, I found one that seemed to fly in the face of most of my statements.

Luke Bryan’s ” Most People Are Good” isn’t a sad, pity song like most old-school Country nor is it an obnoxiously chipper party anthem that co-ops Rap because it’s too ashamed to be called country. Instead, what we have here is an inspirational ballad meant to lift spirits and keep us soldiering on through hard times because life is worth living – a sentiment that I’ve championed more than a few times here.

So by that logic, you’d think I’d like this song. But, no. There are a lot of lyrics that I have hang-ups with that make my skin crawl. And since I had so much fun destroying Meghan Trainor’s work by applying logic to her lyrics, I thought I could do the same with Luke here to edify while getting some cheap yuks through riffing. So, let’s begin.

“I believe kids oughta stay kids as long as they can…”

You hear that, mom and dad? Luke wants me to move back in with you and sit around the house watching old Looney Tunes shorts and eating Kix cereal.

Look, living life like you’re young is okay to a point, but you’ve got to grow up and forge your own way at some point.

“… Turn off the screen, go climb a tree, get dirt on their hands”

Ah, so that first line just meant that you’re a crotchety old bastard who doesn’t like them new-fangled smarty phones.

You do realize that ‘the screen’ you want me to turn off is the only way most of us even know who the hell you are, right? Traditional radio is being fazed out and almost no one consumes physical media anymore. So maybe you shouldn’t, to reference a better musical talent, “bite the hand that feeds”.

“I believe we gotta forgive and make amends/’Cause nobody gets a second chance to make new old friends”

A noble sentiment and all, but a bit too broad for my comfort levels. I can think of quite a few people I wouldn’t want to rekindle a friendship with; school bullies, egomaniac ex-girlfriends, junkies, ETC. You’ve got to start vetting people a little bit for your own sake.

“I believe in working hard for what you’ve got/Even if it don’t add up to a hell of a lot”

So do I. I’m an old farmer’s kid myself. However, the way you word it here makes it sound like you think we shouldn’t demand better for that hard work. You should always demand better and fair pay for your effort. That’s LITERALLY what this whole “Fight for $15” campaign to raise the minimum wage is all about.

“I believe most people are good/And most mama’s oughta qualify for sainthood”

Firstly, I think Sturgeon’s Law would argue with you on that first point.

Secondly, I love my parents. They’ve always been supportive of me even when I was a genuine scumbag. But speaking of parents in general, they’re just like any other group of people; a few keepers and a WHOLE LOT OF BASTARDS. Just ask the gay kid with the homophobic mom if he thinks she’s saint material. Ask the beaten and bruised girl what she thinks of her alcoholic dad when he abuses her. The idea that parents deserve your respect by default just because they farted you out of/into their orifices is an outdated and toxic one and needs to be buried. Let them earn respect like everyone else.

“I believe most Friday nights look better under neon or stadium lights”

Okay, neon lights CAN be pretty. But so can the stars that the light pollution from your lights blots out. This is just subjective B.S. meant to pander to emotion and doesn’t add anything to your critical commentary on the state of the world. Next line, please.

“I believe you love who you love/Ain’t nothing you should ever be ashamed of”

You know what? I can’t complain about this line. I totally agree with you on this.

Though if I had to nit-pick (which I do for the sake of comedy), your lack of mastery of proper English is starting to wear thin on me.

“I believe this world ain’t half as bad as it looks”

That may be true, but that doesn’t mean you start slacking off. When you see a problem, you attack it head on – you protest, raise awareness, raise money, organize people, ETC. Letting things fall by the wayside just because, “it’s not a big deal,” is how things BECOME a big deal.

“I believe them streets of gold are worth the work/But I still wanna go even if they were paved in dirt”

Well, scientifically speaking, gold is so heavy for its size and so much softer than standard paving asphalt that the cost of transporting and upkeep would NOT be worth the work. But I get what you’re saying. It’s the same chestnut as before with your “working hard for what you’ve got” line and I stand by my rebuttal.

Also, what’s with you cowboy types and your dirt obsession? I can only imagine that folks like this see pictures of dust bowls and get the most Brobdingnagian erections you’ve ever seen.

“I believe that youth is spent well on the young/’Cause wisdom in your teens would be a lot less fun”

Oh yeah. Not knowing how to balance my bank account, wondering how credit cards work, paying people to do my taxes because no one taught me, trying to learn to cook on my own. Every day was just like F***ING DISNEYLAND as a teen.

Seriously though, this line pisses me off more than any of the others. This whole “ignorance is bliss” bulls*** needs to stop.

“I believe if you just go by the nightly news/Your faith in all mankind would be the first thing you lose”

Well, sure, if your only news sources are angry d-bags on either side of the political spectrum like Fox or Young Turks. That’s why I have #GoodNewsFriday on my Twitter and Facebook pages. You’ve got to spice it up. Get your news from a variety of sources.

“I believe that days go slow and years go fast/And every breath’s a gift, the first one to the last”

And more emotional pandering. Not the best way to end your song, sir.


Okay, I rag on the lyrics here. But I don’t honestly think Luke is as shallow as I’ve made him out to be here. As it turns out, this kind of sappy, feel-good music is just really easy to make fun of.

Unfortunately for Mr. Bryan, happy music that acts like it has all the answers just doesn’t make for good art to me. Combine that with the slow, edgeless tone, and you have a song that fails on just about every level to engage me.

Ah, this was fun. Remind me to do this again sometime.

Archive News: Unexpected Problems

Yeah, I know. I said this would be happening less often. But I have some issues that need working through.

See, currently looking at my current financial and living situations and thinking I should be making a change to my life. I’m not terribly comfortable with where I’m at right now and comfort has been a primary concern of mine the last few months. So naturally, this is foremost in my mind at the moment.

I’m spending the day trying to find a new and better way of living within my means while still living happily and healthily. I’m not sure what direction I’ll be going, but I know for certain that it’s not where I am right now.

Sorry for the delays. I’ll see you all next week.

Why The Agent Dislikes (Modern) Country Music

Ladies, gentlemen, and fellow enbies: everything wrong with modern Country music in a single image.
Source: Best Top 10

So, I may have gone on record more than a few times voicing my displeasure with the state of the genre of music we know as Country. Most of that is due to my boss’ insistence on playing a Country music station at work EVERY. SINGLE. GODDAMN. DAY.

Now, I realize that a lot of people can be VERY sensitive when something they love gets criticized. And you know what? I totally get it. When you love a particular art form enough, any attack on it can feel like an attack on you personally. It’s the main reason why we nerds get into such heated debates about our passions (that and debate is fun and healthy).

But I don’t like feeling like I’m just singling people out with malicious intent. If I ridicule something you love, it’s because I’ve found something questionable or objectionable about it that ruins my ability to enjoy it; not because I think you are an inferior person for enjoying it. So, let’s discuss my rationale for why Country music repulses me so.

Firstly, I want to make it clear that it’s mostly the turn that modern Country has taken – not Country as a whole – that perturbs me. Granted, I have issues with Classic Country as well, but that’s mostly an unfortunate byproduct of my upbringing. My parents raised me on Classic Rock and Hair Metal. When your life’s soundtrack consists of Aerosmith, AC/DC, and Kiss, everything else seems soft and unengaging.

But, even then, I’m still neutral to Classic Country at most times. Compared to the stuff we get today though, the likes of John Denver and Johnny Cash may as well be Freddie Mercury to my ears. Being assaulted with today’s Country has had the effect of allowing me to reassess those old-timey tracks with a more favorable ear.

Really, my disdain for modern Country comes from what seems to be its two largest modern sub-genres; Bro-Country and Country Rap (AKA; Hick Hop).

The problem that I have with these classes of music is two-fold. Firstly, the subject matter never seems to change. This was a (slightly less prevalent) problem in Classic Country as well with its performers working on the unchanging theme of, “my life sucks, but I’ll get by with enough booze.”

In today’s country scene, they dial that up to eleven. Nearly every song I hear coming over that radio is about A) glorifying alcoholism, B) Objectifying women, or C) turning to alcoholism to cope with the loss of an objectified woman. So not only is it infuriatingly repetitive, it repeats an equally infuriating theme. When the modern country station I have to listen to needs to sneak in pop tracks that are over 10 years old to spice it up, you know the genre is getting stale.

Secondly, the thing that Bro-Country and Country Rap have in common is the reliance on Rap-style production and themes. And as much as I loathe the word “cultural appropriation,” I can’t shake the feeling that it may be at play here.

To be clear, not all of these artists are apeing Rap to keep their careers afloat because it’s just how pop music sounds today. Hell, you can even make a legitimate case that Rap and Country have a common cousin in Talking Blues. Plus, with Rap dominating the sound of Pop Music and with Country being the number one radio format, the two were bound to come together eventually.

However, Rap is a lot more than just a style of music. It’s one of the “4 pillars” of Hip Hop. Rap, along with DJing, Break Dancing, and Graffiti, form the basis of an entire culture of artistic expression that defined life for countless people that, while not possessing great monetary wealth, were rich in history and pride. To take that for yourself for no other reason other than, “because the kids like it,” is kind of disrespectful – especially when you boil it down to a couple of tired and problematic tropes.

So, in conclusion, modern country is a tired, old, cliche-ridden genre that shamelessly rips off other, more popular genres without understanding the societal weight of the art form it’s attempting to emulate and it really needs to take a few steps back to reassess its current position in life before I start considering it good art.

And while I’m ragging on music genres, all of the above applies to Contemporary Christian as well (saved me writing a future article there).

3 Shakespeare-inspired Stories You Should Absolutely Experience At Least Once

Happy Ides of March, Field Operatives!

This is the day that the internet rises up to show their love of one of William Shakespeare’s most beloved historical dramas, Julius Caesar. I’m no different; I am a Bardolator – a term used to describe lovers of Shakespeare that was once used as a pejorative (the word is meant to be a portmanteau of ‘Bard’ and ‘Idolator’) but, like most titles in art, was re-appropriated and embraced by the very people it was meant to demean.

However, I feel that focusing on only Julius Caesar does a huge disservice to The Bard. I’m far more interested in how his works continue to influence us and our media. We continue to retell these stories with different perspectives, characters, and contexts to such an extent that we now question what he actually meant to tell us half the time.

So today, to celebrate the Ides of March, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite films and books that bare the tinge of the western world’s most celebrated playwright as I encourage you to seek them out and experience them the way I did.

 Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood

Japan – a country that has been historically cut off from the western world and only taking influences in very small, heavily modified doses – has had a difficult time importing The Bard. In fact, the earliest attempts played the drama of Shakespeare off as farcical comedy.

However, acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa found the ideal way to make Shakespeare’s Macbeth work in a Japanese context.

First, he chose a more familiar art form to translate The Bard into. Instead of western theatre, Kurosawa draws his visual style from Japanese Noh theatre. The expressions, makeup, and actions of the cast are meant to resemble Noh actors and masks; a medium that takes full advantage of the talents of our leading actor, the incomparable Toshiro Mifune.

Second, parts of western mythology that would be foreign to Japanese viewers were replaced with similar tales from Shinto folklore. This is most noticeable in the removal of The Weird Sisters, inspired by Greek tales of The Three Fates, and grafting in their place an Onibaba – a demon hag made a legend in the tale Kurozuka (lit. “The Black Mounds”) where she tempted two monks to their deaths whilst singing of the pathetic fates of mortals.

Lastly, Kurosawa changes the message to reflect more Buddist ideals rather than western Christian ones. In the British world, there is a cyclical system of rule where chosen monarch replaces chosen monarch. Evil comes when a wicked ruler takes power and can only be undone by a good ruler – “The king is dead; Long live the king.” In Throne of Blood, it is the desire for that power that’s evil and, without spoiling the movie, ultimately spells the final fates of the cast.

Even if you struggle to appreciate the different cultural lens, this is still worth watching just to see some of the greatest film talents of Japan who have shaped the cinematic world as a whole.

Rozencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Starting life as a stage play before making its way to film, Rozencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is a retelling of Hamlet from the perspective of the titular comic relief side characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (… dur-hey).

While it’s easy to play the entire show off as comedy, I feel a lot is lost in doing that. This is, in fact, a prime example of a style of performance known as “The Theatre of The Absurd,” a style of fiction that has its cast delve into existentialist thought only to find almost everything absurd – that is to say, “meaningless.” If you remember my pontification of the works of Albert Camus, you’re already familiar with the concept of Absurdist philosophy.

Rozencrantz and Guildenstern spend the bulk of the show questioning why they do what they’re doing and wind up with so many more questions than answers, they make a game out of them that would later inspire the show Whose Line Is It Anyway? The ultimate answer ends up being that they are actors merely playing their chosen roles both on the stage and in life and that they, and we by extension, must see the play to its conclusion; “The show must go on.”

This is a great introduction to The Theatre of The Absurd and I recommend you see it either on stage or on the screen.

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

Yes, this is a thing… and it is amazing.
Source: writingwithaesop.blogspot.com

Shifting from film to literature, did you know the same publishing company that distributed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies also brought us the Star Wars films redone in the style of William Shakespeare?

Author Ian Doescher does an amazing job in recreating The Bard’s style; not only is every episode recreated in iambic pentameter with all of the requite thee’s and thou’s, but he also uses some of Shakespeare’s notable deviations such adding an extra unstressed beat – known as a “weak ending” – for meek characters like Shakespeare did for Hamlet or replacing the elegant verse for simpler prose for the lower born bounty hunter Boba Fett.

But what makes Doescher stand out is how he deviates from THOSE deviations. He does things that Shakespeare likely never would have conceived of. Such examples include dropping a beat of iambic pentameter for the character of Jar-Jar Binks (because he’s “one beat short of a verse,” get it?) and writing Yoda entirely in Haiku.

Not only is this series a fun way to introduce newbies to iambic pentameter, it’s amazing just how far even the most cringe-worthy moments and lines from the movies are elevated by being written in Shakespeare’s style.