Monday Muse: My Resistance

Well, what can I say? Shit is getting very, very real and very, very bad. And it’s… Really Bad. 

Honestly, I’m not sure where to begin. My head is spinning. Do I start by condemning the actions of a tiny-fisted fool whose mental capacity for anything above 140 characters is questionable? Do I begin by lamenting the damage that is being done to American values and freedoms by blatantly disregarding our Constitution? Should I focus on the very real problems posed by the current administration’s cronyism and strong-arming (that is typically associated with authoritarianism)? Do I rage and scream about the decision to cut valuable programs that collectively cost each American citizen about $22 annually? Do I verbally attack the Republican senators and congressmen who have shown themselves to be spineless, hypocritical weasels by putting their “party” above their country?

Honestly, so much has gone so wrong this past week there’s no good starting point and there doesn’t seem to be an ending point. Nerd Cactus has long had a policy of refraining from political discourse, but what is happening right now is legitimately out of the 1940s and there’s simply no way that we can sit back and be silent. So if you hadn’t figured out where we stand, it’s about to become very clear…

“Voter fraud is a total myth, but there is evidence that people voted for a total fraud.”

Certainly you’ve seen the reports and read the stories. You’ve probably watched, mouth agape, as another asinine and unvetted executive order was signed. Someone has probably tried to convince you that alternative facts are indeed real. You may have an acquaintance or two claiming to be a devout Christian while simultaneously defending the horrid actions of a man who wouldn’t know the meaning of Christian values if they pissed on his chest. 

This week has been revealing on so many levels. It has revealed the true threat that sits in the oval office. It has revealed the complacency of those who struggle to admit their party is deeply in the wrong. It has unearthed – with astounding affect – the insane amount of people who are so trapped by their pride and racism and anger and hatred that they see NOTHING wrong with what is happening. They don’t understand the dangerous and illegal precedent that is now being set to overrule checks and balances by pushing through order after order. They don’t see the danger of cutting/endangering economic ties with our allies and neighbors. They FAIL to see the heartbreaking parallels of today’s refugees to the victims of the Holocaust.

That thing that now holds the most powerful job in the world is supposed to work for US. But again and again he makes his statements and policies about himself and his image and his business. I will not stand for it. No American should. I have donated to the ACLU and to Planned Parenthood. I have signed every goddamn petition demanding to see those tax returns, demanding to have Russian ties investigated, demanding impeachment on the grounds of essentially giving a tiny middle finger to the emoluments clause. I’ve done my research and I’ve tried to do what I can… Which, infuriatingly, doesn’t feel like a lot. And it certainly doesn’t feel like enough…

It has been insinuated to me that because I am a creative individual (actor, singer, dancer, writer) I don’t know what I’m talking about and therefore have no right to express my ideologies… That I am too stupid to understand the nuances of what’s going on in the world. Somehow the education that I invested my time in is useless, because how could I possibly know anything about politics or history or economics if I majored in music? Oh, right, I took classes in all of those subjects at one time or another and I have this crazy habit called reading.

I don’t claim to know everything, but I know enough to understand the difference between right and wrong, the difference between leadership and tyranny. It has also been suggested that I am somehow being cued to participate in dissent by the likes of BuzzFeed and Meryl Streep (who, by the way, I respect the shit out of for speaking her mind, but honestly I had those exact same thoughts long before she publicly expressed them). I am capable of thought and critical thinking in a way that my close-minded acquaintances have never dared dream of. Granted, I have the advantage here, as I wasn’t indoctrinated with hateful prejudices and bizarrely overzealous instances of religious cherry picking leading to narrow-mindedness and limited interaction with the world at large…

Frankly, I refuse to respond to the people who try to make me feel small or stupid, because they are the same ones who refuse to look for other information beyond Fox News. I read articles on both sides of the argument as much as I can. I pay attention to current events outside of the country I live in because I understand that globalization cannot be reversed and we are all connected. I have tried to hold open and honest conversation with those who hold opposing viewpoints. I have tried respectful debate only to be spoken down to in increasingly patronizing tones and eventually called names simply because I take pride in having educated myself with facts. Fine, you want to live in your absurd nationalist dream in which Obama was somehow an overreaching President? OK. I’m done talking to you. 

But hear this: I will continue participating in the Resistance. I will fight tooth and nail against every outrageous, hateful, and unamerican action to come out of this adminstration, and I hope that someday your grandchildren learn that you were on the wrong side of history. 

And to the world at large: I’m sorry. I truly am. This is not a reflection of the America I know and love. 

Stay strong, my friends. Keep fighting.



Silly Sunday: Some Things That Made Me Smile

Heyo! Welcome to this week’s Silly Sunday. After WordPress deleted the entirety of my LAST attempt to write this, I am now going to do it again. Because the system won’t keep me from sharing the smiles!!!

So, this week’s collection of joy comes from A and my boyfriend, who between them have managed to make me laugh despite the… well, you know. The soul-sucking depression/rage spiral in which I’ve dwelt for the past week.

Y’all know it’s only been a little over a week right?


First up, from A. This needs no explanation… or it shouldn’t…

Image may contain: 2 people, beard

Second is this. Which is the best thing ever. EVER. I am going to go find every video like this and watch it. THIS IS EVERYTHING TO ME RIGHT NOW. (A really, really knows me, y’all.)


Third… for your case of AWWWWWW: did you know the nations zoos and aquariums have been having a Cute Battle? This is just what the nation needs, man. (For the record, Team Baby Elephant… or Red Panda… or that Otter… or you know. I’m Team Everyone!)

#CuteAnimalTweetOff is here to save us all (27 Photos)

(I’m going to leave the link like that because it is inevitably when I convert it to HTML that WordPress decides to delete everything. STOP IT, WORDPRESS!)

We’ll be back tomorrow for a Muse!


Shakespeare Saturday: Listen to the Bard. All of It!



Check this out, everyone!

The “Argo Shakespeare Recordings” have been remastered and re-released on a 100 CD set. Except for The Two Noble Kinsmen it’s all there. All the plays PLUS 4 narrative poems and 154 sonnets in their entirety. So if you have like all the time in the world and want to have Shakespeare read to you for hours on end this may be calling your name. Check it out!


Boozy Books: Apparently, I was saving 1984 until it was needed.

Hey, guys! Welcome to today’s Boozy Books.

I am going to keep this short.

There are already posts for Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, and Animal Farm, all of which are books I think everyone needs to be reading. Yes, we all want to joke (re: laugh hysterically) about the Hunger Games coming, but the books that most accurately describe what’s happening now are the ones we’ve been talking about for years.

I have a special loathing for 1984. It’s actually a good read, so that’s not what I hate about it so much. To this day, George Orwell’s dystopian novel about Big Brother is the only book I have ever–ever–thrown at a wall. And I gave Twilight a chance. (Granted, I got two pages in before I realized the entire thing was trash, but I just laughed and dropped it back at the library the day after I borrowed it.) It’s the last line that gets me. ‘He loved big brother.’ It enrages me. It goes against every American ideal I possess, mostly especially that rebellions against shitty governments should work. And, ultimately, we can make our world better through active resistance. The idea that Winston could be re-programmed still sits like lead in my stomach, and I first read this book over a decade ago.

George Orwell doesn’t have that positive outlook. At least not in this book (if you read the pairing for Animal Farm, you’ll see what I mean). The state completely overwhelms Winston and Julia’s rebellion, torturing them and forcing them to each betray the other. In the end, Big Brother wins. And I am not happy with that. Never have been, never will be. I grew up in a nation where we threw tea in the harbor for a tax that actually meant we paid less than everyone else. And I am not about to think resistance is futile (OK, I know I’m mixing fandoms now. Sorry.)

I think everyone knows why I chose 1984 this week. You can’t possible not know. Not in a week with ‘alternative facts’ being bandied about completely seriously by representatives of the new administration.

I think, perhaps, whiskey is in order. Straight, no chaser, not even whiskey stones to keep it cold. Keep the bottle right next to you and pour until you can’t hit the glass anymore. I know that’s what I’ve felt like doing for the past week.

On a very-much-related note: make sure to toast John Hurt. RIP, Winston Smith.


Monday Muse: Education! What is it good for? ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING!

Welcome to today’s Monday Muse! Sorry this is almost late. I’ve been enjoying a great conversation on Twitter about the necessity of a good education.

I won’t be going into details–they’re not mine to share–but I want to share with you the crux of our discussion:

  1. Public education in this nation is a shambles.
  2. This is in large part due to the reining in of teachers’ creativity and individual approach to teaching, very often brought about as a result of budgetary crises.
  3. These crises are brought about by the fact that we, as a society, have decided that an education–that learning–is not only unnecessary, but untrustworthy (in that people who are educated are not to be trusted). As such, the point of schooling has become the rigid conformity of students to a particular behavioral ideal.
  4. It will not be fixed until funding is not contingent upon tests scores but allocated entirely due to need. We need to decide that the education of future Americans is worth money from our pockets, AND that the money needs to go to students instead of administration.
  5. An education is necessary to a strong population who won’t fall for propaganda. A population of people with knowledge, critical thinking skills, etc. is a population that cannot be manipulated.
  6. Higher education is not what we’re talking about, though no one should begrudge someone who wants to go to university PURELY to learn. A higher education, and education in general, should not be seen merely as a means to an end, but as the end itself.
  7. Being educated doesn’t necessarily require a formal education beyond the basics. You do not have to go to a university to be educated. You do, however, need to read–and read voraciously.
  8. As such, never trust people who don’t read.
  9. Also… pants are optional. (That was after we started talking about homeschooling, mind. Pants are not optional in public. Pants=trousers, for anyone reading who learned the Queen’s English.)
  10. And go ahead and punch Nazis.

That was the outline of our conversation. We have since decided to figure out a hashtag and discuss the means by which we can facilitate an education outside of the public education system, how we can improve the system, and the ways we can convince the non-readers in our lives how much they are suffering for their choice. The world is always brighter, less frightening, and easier to change when you educate yourself.

The intellectual elite is only worth fearing if you won’t bother to join us. We’re open to anyone willing to learn. And the goal is to make it so we’re no longer elite, just part of a grand tradition of intellectualism in America.



Silly Sunday: Regarding the Legacy of Famous Authors 

Hello, everyone! Welcome to Silly Sunday! I officially made it through opening weekend of Titanic and now I’ll be taking the next few days to decompress or veg out or whatever it takes to feel rested again. (Have I ever felt rested, really?) 

But before I curl up for a few blissful days off, I’d like to share one of the silliest things I read this week. The New Yorker posted an article imagining how famous authors would request nudes and it’s a brilliant look at the essences we assign these writing legacies. It’s super funny and also highly insightful… And they include Shakespeare! Because, duh.

 Please, enjoy


Shakespeare Saturday: Shakes Would Celebrate Nasty Women!


This will be short, I promise.

We’ve talked about Shakespeare’s heroines before. Both of us are firm believers that even Shakespeare’s least obvious heroines (Kate of Taming of the Shrew comes to mind) are powerful manifestos on the power of women. Kate, for example, gets the longest speech in the whole play even while she’s talking about how women should listen to and be submissive to their men; the irony is palpable there. Portia (of Merchant of Venice) is brilliant, quick-witted, gracious… and absolutely determined to at once follow her father’s commandment and find a way to marry the man of her choice. And, of course, it is she who, dressed as a lawyer named Balthazar, outwits Shylock and saves Antonio. (Whether Merchant of Venice is antisemitic or not–and, believe it or not, the jury is still out on that one–is for another day.) You have Cleopatra who has led her own nation and refuses to give Augustus the final victory. Even Juliet’s choices are often seen as a woman at the nascence of her sexual awakening deciding to take said sexuality into her own hands (which makes the choice of Romeo perhaps… not… entirely well-advised). Rosalind of As You Like It takes Orlando to task for mistaking his sweet words for ardent devotion, teaching him what it is a woman wants. My favorite–Beatrice–is sharp-witted, determined, knows herself and her wants, and extraordinarily loyal. She demands Benedick prove himself to her; no mere words of love here.

Powerful women abound in Shakespeare. Arguably Nasty Women, who use and manipulate the system to get what they want or fight for someone else. They fight. They don’t give up. They are in control of themselves.

So, yeah… Nasty Women of the world: Shakespeare is on your side. And, if he were alive, he would celebrate all of you in his plays. Even if he’s forced to dress you up like a man to accomplish it.


Not-Quite-Boozy-Books (or) Friday

Hey, guys.

Sorry. I just don’t think either of us were up for writing about a book today. I know A has been reading The Underground Railroad and I’m reading Stamped From the Beginning, but I don’t think we’re ready to pair either of them. And nor are we…

Well, at least… I am not ready to write about a book today. And I know A just opened a new show, so she probably doesn’t remember that today was even Friday. But I doubt she’d be ready to pair anything today, either. In whatever case, there is no pairing today. We’re taking it off.

I do want to say one thing, though:

Throughout history, whenever the tyrants have risen, whenever the darkness has come crawling, the world has also seen the rise of greatness. Last time this happened, we got Winston Churchill and FDR. And, yes, both of those men were problematic, but they were the exact people the world needed when Hitler, Mussolini, and Imperial Japan decided to come a-conquering. (This is also another lesson in maybe not allying ourselves with Russia, even if it seems like we’re on the same side now. Because we aren’t, and Russia has its own agenda that just isn’t compatible with ours.)

Somewhere in the world is our Churchill and our FDR. Maybe they’re even here in America, but maybe they’re not. People who will rise up to fight and to become the emblematic leaders of our age. Hell, maybe we’ve already met them and we just don’t know it.

It comes as no surprise to me that this whole thing happened as the generation who fought in WW2 is dying en masse, leaving us without a living memory to rely upon. We’re humans; we need a human face, and those faces are disappearing. But they leave their words behind, their lessons, their experiences. And maybe–just maybe–we’ll have learned enough from them to get through this.

You’d think, as a historian, I would have lost my idealism a long time ago. Because history is just humanity making the same mistakes over and over, thinking that they’re going to be the one to make it. It’s Hitler not learning from Napoleon not learning from everyone whose plans outlasted their supplies and/or the morale of their men (ie Hannibal and even Alexander the Great). But I do have faith.

Our FDR is coming, if they are not already here. Our Winston will join them soon.

Or maybe they’re already here.  Maybe, this time, it’s us.


Monday Muse: Query Nerves

Happy Monday, readers!!! It has been a very long, trying day for C and myself. We have officially sent out our first batch of queries! AAAHH!!!! Lord, help us. 

We spent the afternoon adding personalizations, attempting to copy and paste, and hesitantly clicking send. All told, we sent out 8 queries to 8 promising agents. And now. We wait. And wait. And wait. Up to 8 weeks to be exact.

After sending the first query we treated ourselves to a good, stiff drink. Querying is scary! But we got it done and now we are officially official writers who have written a book and are making moves to get it to an audience. And that’s a huge step. So go us!

Yes, there are lots of nerves, but I’m excited for the next step in this adventure. Go on, baby bird Killing Mercutio, fly into the world and be free!


Silly Sunday: I Totally Sort My Characters! (Wanna Join Me?)

Hey, guys! Welcome to today’s Silly Sunday! Today is going to be a writerly silly post because I want it to be.

A lot of writers use MBTI tests to figure out their characters. I do it, too, because it’s helpful for having a set of criteria to use as a baseline. How your character lives up to their classification and how they deviate from it are a really good way of understanding them and making sure they’re focused. That’s the problem with characters being at the whim of a writer; sometimes, the writer needs a character to do something, but that’s not what the character would do. And, of course, characters don’t have the freedom to be as unpredictable as a human being; narratives just aren’t as random as real life. Having things written down, a checklist or list of behaviors that fall in line with the character you’ve created, is a really easy way of keeping track of what your baby would do.

But… sometimes the MBTI is too restrictive for me. Hedy, for example, was all the positives of one and all the negatives of another. She cares about people, but isn’t all that sensitive. She is introverted, but not shy (which is something a lot of personality tests seem to not realize is a thing). She is analytical, but also very motivated by her emotions. No matter how often I took the test, I couldn’t find the right configuration. Nothing felt right.

Except I knew her Hogwarts House. Or, at least, I thought I did. She is bold, almost to the point of recklessness. In order to save the people of Leyton, she puts herself under ridiculous strain and, on occasion, in danger. She is intelligent, yes, questioning everything, but only because she has to in order to achieve her goal. She follows her gut. She always does what she thinks is right. You know where I’m going with this. I was sure she was Gryffindor.

But then I went down to my favorite Sorting Hat tumblr — the BIBLE of Sorting Hat psychology — and had a really good think. And it came to me: Henrietta Warwick is a Slytherin. She is a loyalist rather than an idealist, which narrows her down to Slytherin or Hufflepuff, and she constructs a series of rules and mores to fill in the gap between her moral system and the world. She is, of course, fiercely ambitious, as well, but… basically, Hedy lives her life by the notion of caring for her people and she will do whatever it takes to do that.

You see how awesome this Sorting Hat Bible is? It’s basically a personality test that narrows everything down to two things: what motivates a character and how they go about achieving their goals. And once you understand those things, everything else just sort of falls into place.

Where can you see this thing? Why… HERE, of course! That page is just the basics. From there, it goes even deeper. Have fun, y’all!