Sunday, November 30, 2014


crosspol is a journal of transitions for high school and college writing teachers edited by Andrew Hollinger and Colin Charlton who are both rad as all heck.  Anyway, you should check out the inaugural issue, v1i1, featuring yours truly.  I am flattered to be a part of the discussion, and excited for Andrew and Colin.  Looks great guys!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"Other Daddy" becomes "Other Mommy"

Being an avid Thor fan... it's funny.  I was never much of a Thor fan until my youngest son became fascinated with him.  It happened one day when I sat down to watch the first film, and my son became enthralled.  Since that day, Jonas refers to Thor as "other daddy."  I told my wife I wouldn't judge her.  Thor is the very portrait of pseudo-masculinity: muscled, powerful, bearded... he's apt to kill a dragon, binge drink mead for days and make time with the entire village's population of ladies. He exemplifies all of the superficial traits of manhood... at least in the most recent Thor: God of Thunder series by Marvel comics.  I very much enjoyed the comic, especially the story arc featuring Gorr The God Butcher.  The Roxxon arc was decent as well.  I am very fond of the stand alone issue in which Thor battles a hoarde of trolls with and then celebrates victory with a dragon, who he later has to put down... once a dragon gets drunk he develops a reckless taste for the stuff, I guess.  But since the God of Thunder series has terminated and Thor has been re-imagined as a woman, my mind has done this... So, Marvel is owned by Disney... Thor is a prince of Asgard... OMG!  Thor is a Disney Princess!  Thor!  The man who grafted the necrosword to his soul as a bearded, eye-patched, one armed all-father and defeated Galactus Devourer of Worlds!  A woman!  The pseudo-masculine voice inside my head asked in its traditional sarcastic drawl, "What is the most awe inspiring thing a woman can do?"

The father and thinker that lives in my head responded with, "Create life, dummy."  Dudes are incapable of this amazing feat, and yet culturally we tend to associate pregnancy with a state of vulnerability and weakness: not befitting the God of Thunder...ultimately deemed so to emphasize the power and destructive capability to make things go boom.  And yet the hammer is also a tool to build.  In the movie Thor regains his power only when he learns to put others before himself... a gesture we often, culturally, associate with weakness and vulnerability.  Has that changed?  Will it change?  Will we ever associate pregnancy with strength?  Will there ever be a bad ass male hero with the power to create?

But the more I think on it... Disney is guilty of emphasizing superficial feminine features in its princess characters... so, I'm assuming they will do the same with Thor?  Was the destructor Thor really that much of a Real Man?  Will the female Thor really be that much of a Real Woman?  I think of my youngest son... Jonas, who loves Thor... what will the character's legacy be to my son?  To smash, drink and womanize?  Pseudo-masculinity can be fun, but as long as it's tongue in cheek.  I may prefer the film message in this case: to learn how to put others first.  Isn't that what a real man does? How is the female version of Thor going to behave?  Smash, drink and sleep with tons of men?  For some reason I don't think that image is going to hold up for Marvel, or Disney.  My guess is that she will in some way need to learn her role through a man, just like the vast majority of Disney princesses. Will she sparkle?  Will Disney use her to continue to market princess products? What is the proper behavior for a female God of Thunder?  How will the plot-twist in the Thor universe "other mommy" reinforce or challenge established gender stereotypes?

Update 12.8.15

I just finished Thor #1 released in November of 2015, and I'm speechless.  It's almost like my thoughts about true heroism were being played back to me through the comic.  In case you're not reading the new Thor comic, let me explain.  Jane Foster, Thor's love interest who happens to be battling breast cancer, is the new Thor. There is a scene in the new issue where she is receiving chemotherapy and someone is in need of Thor.  Jane calls Mjolnir and makes the transformation.  We learn that every time she transforms, she gains back her strength, but the chemicals involved in chemotherapy are also purged from her body and therefore lose their effect.  By choosing to use the power of Thor, Jane is revealing a self-sacrifice that is beyond admirable.  I couldn't be happier with the new series and the unlikely directions in which it is traveling.  What a read!

Jonas with "Other Daddy"

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Romeo's Kind of a Hipster

I'm sure you've heard this song by now, so there's probably no need to post the video, but I've gained an appreciation for this pop single by imagining it from the point of view of Romeo.  I don't know why but I can't get it out of my head.  One of my 4 Noble Truths is "Refuse to Take No for an Answer at Least Once in Life" (no clue why the randy caps).  Love seems like a good reason.  Classic themes.  If I ever teach R&J I'm going to work in the song somehow...

Update... The songs "No Evil" "Let Your Hair Down" "Stupid Me" and "How Do You Want To Be Remembered?" are all great tracks for "The Crucible."   I'd love to spell out the connection, but then if I had to do that the tip wouldn't be worth a darn, now would it?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mission Questions

The soul speaks a subversive language. 

It looks for exceptions rather than rules… mistrusts the handles of “wise men” and "fool."

The journey toward literacy is a pursuit of the formless through a form.  Some days it’s like trying to make a mirror speak lies.  To what is math a language?  Do hearts pump logarithms?   How many stars am I capable of understanding?  Are any of them on a flag?  Who was the President of the Divided Tables at Lunchtime on September 17, 2014?  What is the atomic weight of love?   How deep is the lake of the mind?    

How do we inspire ourselves to seek the unanswerable question?  How do we chart its value?  Can we quantify gains in the dynamo of the imagination?