Representation & My Search For the 13th Doctor of Bass Players

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I keep talking about music, in life and in this blog, because it’s what’s on my mind. I podcast about music, listen to as much music as I can (for the podcast and because I feel like I have 20 years’ worth to catch up on) and I love the fact that I’m practicing my bass at least every second day to stay sane not just because I “should”. So, with that in mind I wasn’t expecting thoughts about representation relating to Doctor Who and the new, upcoming female Doctor to necessarily enter into the equation because of music. I thought I had made up my mind and come to a fair point of neutrality even if I couldn’t quite understand why the gender of the Doctor was that important to these people. Wasn’t the most important concern whether she was the best actress for the job? (Spoiler: yes, and…)

The word representation was brought to me time and time again in response to this question. I thought I had a good idea of what representation meant.  I thought I was savvy on this kinda thing. I actively try to listen to bands and surround myself in people that promote positive messages, whether that’s fighting sexism, racism, homophobia, fascism and/or just making sure their fans know that treating others badly isn’t cool. It’s punk to call people out on that nonsense. I may have understood the definition of representation, but I didn’t understand the meaning.

So, I wasn’t expecting the frustration I would encounter when I was trying to find representation. I just wanted a band to watch & listen to that had a member that was like me. Could I not become a bassist as part of a band? Logically I knew that my gender shouldn’t stop me,  I can do anything. Still, there is a kind of magic of imagining yourself on a big stage playing perfectly while you struggle through the same song for the umpteenth time. I wanted to read about someone else’s struggles, give myself inspiration to keep practicing and eventually find a group. I knew picking up the instrument that bassists need bands; it’s not a solo instrument, so where were they?

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Some of Us, We Have Tattoos…

In July 2003, I got my first tattoo.

I was 16 years old, worried more about school than anything else and I wanted to “rebel” safely. My stepfather’s brother (step-uncle, I guess?) has a tattoo shop* so he did it in just under an hour. There wasn’t any hesitation, I knew straight away that I wanted a wolf on the back of my shoulder. I picked out a friendly looking wolf from a big book of flash art on the shop’s coffee table. The only alterations I requested was for it to be coloured to match a character named Salvaged Eternity I had created for a play-by-post roleplaying game. The wolf had brown, white and black fur with bright green eyes which I thought looked far better than the black and white wolf with red eyes in the book.

Due to my age my mother came with me to sign the parental consent form. True to her style she didn’t protest my getting a tattoo and actually got her first one a week before. A mother dragon clutching two eggs with name and my little brothers on them. I don’t think she stayed the whole time I got mine, I may have asked her to go. This would start a trend of always getting tattoos alone. I won’t lie, it hurt like hell. I remember my step-uncle having a heavy hand, this is now compared to the three other tattoo artists I’ve gotten inked by since then. Whether this is because of my age I can’t say. I do know I almost “whited out” about halfway through. Apparently this is the precursor to fainting, but all I needed was a very cold hand on the back of my neck and time to breathe.

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Writing & Not Feeling Qualified

I’ve been thinking a lot about writing recently. Possibly it’s because of NaNaWriMo, maybe because my coworkers have been asking how my novel has been coming along. They’re excited about it.  I’m too ashamed to tell them that I haven’t looked at it in 3 months, even though I think about the main character, Sydney, every time I listen to a punk song. So, I asked myself, “I love this character, why am I not writing her story?”

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More than that, there’s something about the process that has made writing difficult lately. The act of showing my thoughts to the world and what may come back to me isn’t that frightening. I don’t usually start out to open a dialogue between myself and the reader. I write just to get the words out of my head. At least once a day I compose an essay style piece in my brain around a topic that I’ve been mulling over. It’s one way I process things I’m currently obsessing over and if they have substance I want to share them. They very rarely, if ever, make it down on paper. Why?

I’ve determined it’s a mix of confidence and feeling like I shouldn’t have an opinion on certain topics (music & improv are the big ones). I still need to get the words out, but there’s actual fear holding me back from publishing it. After all, don’t you need experience to write about stuff? I read that on the internet somewhere. I mean, I’m only taking improv classes, what do I know? I’ve only listened to punk music for a couple years. Apparently two years ago today I talked about my first punk mixtape on this blog. Sure, when I find a band I like I try to jam 10+ years worth of being a fan into two months, but I still didn’t know them before. 

When I type this out it’s so silly sounding, but it’s exactly the way I think!

It’s not just essays. These feelings also exist in my fiction. Continue reading

Star Trek TOS – A Change of Opinion

I’m think I’m starting to become known as somewhat of a contrarian.

That may be an understatement. I don’t usually set out to be seen that way, but it often happens. I enjoy not seeing something because everyone is recommending it. I generally end up seeing things in the wrong order and as is often the case I prefer the first thing I see.  I’m trying to break out of this pattern though, it’s one of my resolutions for 2016, and while there’s no way to see certain series in the correct order I’m trying to give the “originals” a chance. That’s why I started at the beginning of Star Trek: The Original Series and currently sit somewhere around the middle of season two. I’m really, really enjoying it, so why is this a problem? Well…

I was recently on Star Trek: Romulans Bearing Gifts talking and thinking about the newest Star Trek reboot movie Star Trek Beyond. During that discussion I said that I preferred the reboot cast to the original cast. I said it was difficult for me to connect to the original series and my Kirk and crew would always be Chris Pine, Quinto, Pegg, etc, etc. Just like my Captain will always be Picard, my Doctor is the Fifth, and my preferred Obi-Wan will always be played by Ewan McGregor. So, here comes an admission of guilt of sorts: I said that knowing full well that I had seen maybe six episodes total of the original series. That includes the pilot and the Trouble with Tribbles. It was a blanket statement and a hasty one at that. Opinions can change sure, and you never have to see everything to make a decision, but now I’m stuck in a strange circumstance where it seems like I’ve totally changed my mind about something. I haven’t changed my mind; it was never really made up in the first place. Ugh.

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It’s a potential peril of podcasting, I guess, especially with group reviews, where you find yourself maybe agreeing a little bit more, or disagreeing simply to freshen up a conversation and actually bring in some discussion. I’m sure many, many podcasters are completely honest, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with stretching a review here or there. If you haven’t listened to the episode I still recommend it, just take what I say in it with a grain of salt. In fact, always take what I say with a grain of salt and that way I won’t feel the need to write any more of these. What follows are more, let’s say, informed opinions (from 2.5 seasons of the show) on the reboots vs TOS. More informed than before, less informed than any proper Star Trek fan.

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Let’s Talk about Strong Female Characters: My Top 10 Kickass Ladies

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There’s been a lot of talk lately (and rightly so) about feminism, fandom and the lack of “strong” (3-dimensional, interesting, complex, REAL) female characters in mainstream media. The above quote has been going around for a long, long time and I encourage you to find similar quotes from female writers. I just adore that quote, so I put it there.

There was a very interesting post about female protagonists here that I encourage you to read. The author talks about looking at the books she was reading to her child and her attempts to balance male and female protagonists, but they fall very short of a 50/50 split. (It ends up being more like 60/30)

When I saw that my spreadsheet project featured exactly zero actresses I realized I needed to do something. As an exercise I decided to put down my top 10 favourite female characters. Surely there were ten lady characters that kicked ass from TV shows and movies I love. Ten fictional ladies that I’d want to have a drink with, or at the very least were played by actresses I really enjoyed?

The first five were a breeze, and then suddenly I was struggling to come up with female characters that I liked, let alone strong female characters I admired or that I could take traits from to help me in my everyday life. I looked. Leading ladies didn’t suddenly come out from the woodwork, but there were strong, awesome characters that I was over-looking because I was too busy watching the leading men on the show. (Leading men talk a lot and the camera likes to spend lots of time pointed at them.)

A lot of these characters are supporting characters, in fact they all are except Rey* and an argument can be made for Clara and Sara Lance who are both part of an ensemble of sorts. Yet they are kick ass in their own way, furthering the plot and embodying traits that I want to emulate in my everyday life.

So here’s my list, I know I’m forgetting lots and I’d love to see your lists in the comments.

(In no particular order)…

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These Are a Few of My Happy Things…

Disclaimer: I get that now maybe isn’t a good time to come out and say, “look at all these happy things!” but there never will be a good time. I hope they bring a little joy to others.

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One of the things I love about being on Verity! Podcast is the inclusion of our “happy things” section we start each full episode with. I may moan about finding a happy thing some weeks, but it is nice to see what is going on in the world of Doctor Who that has my co-hosts excited.

Of course, Doctor Who isn’t my only love and as a proud multi-fandom lovin’ person I thought it might be nice to devote a blog post here and there to talk about things I’m excited about in different fandoms. Read on for Supernatural, Walking Dead, superheroes (SPIDEYPOOL!), music, young Peter Capaldi, and more.

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Fangirling: A Review of Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls

March 6th I went to a concert. Now, I’ve gone to concerts before, it’s what differentiated this concert to all the other ones before that has stuck with me. It’s the reason I’m writing about it on this blog. It’s revitalized my perspective on fandom. If I wax a bit nostalgic about this experience it’s because it has imprinted itself in my memory just enough to make me wonder if it was actually a dream. So, here’s a retelling of that experience and some very interesting things that I’ve learned because of it. All the videos and pictures that I included are credited to their owners. Crowdalbum was a huge help in re-living the concert.

I bought tickets last year, as soon as they were available, to see Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls. Frank Turner’s music had played a big part in getting me through a rough period of time in my life. Hell, he’s the only person to which I’ve ever written a “fan letter” and he wrote back! At the time I purchased the tickets I hadn’t asked anyone to come with me so I just bought one for myself. I’ve never gone to a concert alone, but I figured I could find someone in five months. At some point I heard that they had sold out the venue (I misheard, there were still tickets available at the door) so I gave up finding someone to go with me. At first, I hoped I could work up the nerve to go by myself. That nerve didn’t seem to come. The day before and the day of I really considered not going. The tickets were less than $30, so chickening out wouldn’t cost me too much and I had to work the next day. (I know, I know. Excuses, excuses) More than one person told me that not going was a stupid idea and to just go. They said that I would regret not going.

I showed up at Union Hall about 5:45pm assuming there would be a line already forming to get in when doors opened at 7:00pm. The last concert I went to at the same venue there was a fair size line an hour before. This time there was only one person. She had been there since 4:30pm making sure she could get a spot at the barricades, front row center. A year ago I would have shut up and sat there, in silence until she said something. Instead, we made small talk almost right away; talking in line at conventions gave me some confidence and the conversation helped us ignore the cold and rain.

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