Not punching people in the face

So I’m a teensy bit aggressive and confrontational. I also have a distinct lack of patience.

This has led to me occasionally punching someone in the face when they cross a line.

But I’ve been working on that. I haven’t punched anyone in in face in like six months.

But okay, to be fair, seriously, that guy deserved it. And I don’t regret punching him at all.

It was December, and the casinos were open again. I grabbed my mask and decided I wanted a drink.

And do you remember what happens when I try going to a bar by myself?

This guy came up, hitting on me. I thanked him and told him I wasn’t interested. He kept pushing, so I told him to fuck off.

He started rubbing up on me, so I called security. They told him to back off. He came back.

So I punched him in the face. No conversation, no talking, no waiting to see what he was going to say this time. As soon as he was close enough, he got punched in the face.

And security came back in force. But who did they grab and escort to that dark dingy office that every casino has in every movie? Who did they treat like a criminal?

I’ll give you three fucking guesses.

And the main security guard was such a condescending prick. He lectured me, like, “We’re adults here. We are supposed to handle problems like adults. We use our words.”

And I got pissed (and I was buzzed). I said, “If you’d done your fucking job the first time I came to you with this problem, I wouldn’t have had to handle it myself. God forbid you have to stand up to another man. No, that’s just too scary. It’s so much easier to let him harass a woman and sexually molest her on your property, and then lecture her when she does your job for you, you absolute fucking coward.”

Oh, I was pissed. And I didn’t have Kazander or Sounder or anyone there to calm me down or hold me back. I got downright mean.

He finally told me he wouldn’t ban me from the casino, but this would be my only warning, and he “expected me to behave myself.”

So whatever. I can guarangoddamntee that asshole didn’t grind up on anyone else the rest of that night, and it’s not because security told him to leave me alone, it’s because he got punched in the face.

He learned the same lesson that small children are taught: shit has consequences.

I should work security.

Anyway, I was hanging with this Mexican couple the other night. It was late, and suddenly this big group of drunk college-age white American kids came in. They were loud, rowdy, arm-wrestling on tables and just having a grand old time.

But, while annoyingly loud, I was fine with that. Just innocent drunken rowdiness. Boys being boys.

Until their friends came in. These guys were wearing speedo-type swimsuits, and started air-humping behind every woman in the place.

They came up behind me, but I waited. Because the staff was already moving. They wear all black, and the entire energy of the room changed, and all of a sudden it was like you saw these men in black just swooping in from every direction, all at once.

Surprisingly not this time, Alistair

And I’ve been trying to refrain from punching people, and obviously the staff wasn’t messing around, so I stayed seated and let them handle it.

They really weren’t playing around, either. The whole thing, from the time the second group came in, until the time security showed up, was maybe 30 seconds (I was drunk, so my perception of time might be off). Maybe a full minute before they got all of them out the door.

I was impressed, honestly. And relieved. And happy to sit there and let the staff handle it, since they obviously took it seriously. It was nothing like the “meh, shrug” attitude you see in the US when a guy crosses that line.

But apparently I’d tensed up. After they left, the husband said I looked like I was about to go off on the kids. I laughed and told him I thought about it, but didn’t want to risk being thrown out of the hotel.

He looked at me like I had three heads. So I explained last time I punched someone, and I got in trouble.

He looked at me like I’d just grown a fourth.

“What? Oh no, this is Mexico. That doesn’t happen here. As long as he’s 18, you’ll never get in trouble for that.”

His wife chimed in. “Why do you think you never see Mexican boys doing that? You wouldn’t be the first woman in this country to teach a drunk boy that lesson.”

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m kinda a fan of the US, it’s kinda my favorite place. But goddamn, you know, we could learn a thing or two from folks down here.

Even so, I’m glad I refrained. I’m trying to not be a complete asshole, and I really was impressed with how fast and how effectively the staff handled it. As long as the people who are supposed to care about my safety actually do care, I’m fine to sit tight and let them handle problems.

It was kind of an eye opener, though, just seeing the difference in how that sort of thing is handled. Like, the staff didn’t care about the rowdiness, I think one of them was going over to ask the first group to tone it down, but that was it.

It wasn’t until the kids started fucking with the women that suddenly it was like all the fun was immediately sucked out of the room. It was tangible. You could feel it. There was nothing good-natured or accommodating about the staff as they came running. They ran in, barking orders into their walkie-talkies, and everything about their faces, their body language, their energy was intense and serious. They almost felt dangerous.

Like, they weren’t getting the guys out because that’s what they’re paid to do. There was almost an anger behind it (though they are not US cops, so obviously they know how to deescalate instead of escalate issues. But to be fair, even McDonald’s workers have better deescalation capabilities than cops. Because, *sips tea,* they get fired if they don’t).

So it wasn’t hostile or violent, but it almost felt like there was this anger simmering underneath the surface in all the staff. Like they took it personally. It’s hard to explain, but it took me completely by surprise, and like, I was okay to be the damsel in distress and let the fierce knights come charging to my rescue.

I’d never felt anything like that in the US. You’d never see anything like that back home.

And it felt good, honestly. Like, oh, I can relax. I don’t have to be on my guard constantly, ready to hit someone at a moment’s notice. I can trust these people to step in, I don’t have to deal with it myself.

As if I needed another reason to completely adore this place.

And it makes me wonder, how much of me being an asshole is because I feel like I have to be on my guard constantly? How much of how aggressive and confrontational I am is because of shit like what happened at the casino, and would I still feel that way if I could trust the people around me to help out if I need it?

How many American women are assholes because we feel like we’re alone? How many women have bitten a guy’s head off for seemingly innocent shit, because she knows there is a size and strength difference, and she can’t rely on anyone to help her, so she needs to compensate for that difference and the fact that she has no one to back her up, by striking first, striking hard, without mercy?

A group of scared people who don’t know how to handle certain shit and don’t feel like anyone has their back, so all they want is to hurt someone before that person has the chance to hurt them. It’s not right, it’s not healthy, but you heal Johnny by supporting him and teaching him that he isn’t as alone as he feels, not by arresting him or beating him up or telling him he’s on his own, and goddamn I love the first season of that show.

I mean, yeah I can admit that American women seem to be getting meaner, myself included. But I wasn’t mean and quick to punch people before I had issues like at the casino, or at the swinger’s club where I hit a guy for grabbing my ass without permission, and he didn’t even get kicked out, or my boss and my male coworkers stayed silent instead of warning me that one of the other bosses had drugged my beer (thankfully a female coworker pulled me aside and warned me).

I wasn’t born an asshole, guys. No one is. And maybe the US should take a note from how Mexico handles this specific kind of situation. Because if I could go to a bar by myself and feel safe, I’d probably be way more likely to be kind and friendly if you come up and offer to buy me a drink.

I still loved the couple’s reaction, though. Like, “Honey, you’re in Mexico. If a guy gets in your face and won’t back off, you are well within your rights to fucking make him.”

And like Sounder said when I told him about it the next day, we need to make “Fuck around and find out” the basis for our laws in the US. I think it would make a difference in a lot of unexpected ways.

History’s Badass Bitches, part 3

So I’ve done one of these on the Amazons, and one on a Spartan queen named Arachidamia, but they were some of the posts that were lost, so I’ll have to rewrite them. Which I’ll do at some point, when I’m feeling productive.

Today, though, since it’s the 4th of July, I figured I’d be all patriotic and shit, and talk about a woman who helped build Nevada.

I was born and raised in Nevada, and I can rattle off all kinds of names and years and useless statistics, because dear god do we love Nevada history here in Vegas schools.

And don’t get me wrong, I love it, too. This is my home. And it happens to have a really fascinating history. We’re the Silver State. The Battle Born state.

We helped the North win the Civil War. We helped build California (San Francisco is a nice place, right? You’re welcome). We carved a life out of an extreme and inhospitable climate.

And by the way, when I say “we,” I’m talking primarily about women.

Prostitutes, specifically.

Because pretty much everything you’ve been taught about the Old West is dead wrong.

We were taught that gunslingers and cowboys and shady saloon owners were the backbone of society. That shootouts happened every day, and the streets ran red.

It was a bloody and lawless place, where only the strongest, toughest men survive.

And it’s all 100% romanticized bullshit. The West was built on whores and immigrants. End of list.

But it’s important to remember that in the Old West, sex work wasn’t seen the way we see it now. Whores were respected members of the community. Even in places where women couldn’t vote (many parts of the Old West allowed women voting long before it became a law, specifically because women were usually among the wealthiest and most influential members of any given community), they were still given seats on councils, they were listened to, their words and opinions given weight.

Which is why all that bullshit about women becoming cattle if society implodes drives me nuts. Because we had that here. Utter lawlessness.

And women excelled in ways that few men did.

Turns out, even in violent, lawless, harsh environments with no established society, humans are humans. The streets never ran red, shootouts weren’t a thing (the OK Corral is one of the bloodiest battles in the Old West, and a whopping three dudes died).

No. Nothing you think you know about how this country came to be is real. You owe your existence to Mexicans, Chinese, Indians, and whores.

Cowboys were nothing. Myth has turned them into these glamorous, romanticized “Man’s Man” types, but in reality, they were almost exclusively poor immigrants. Mexicans mostly, with a few Chinese thrown in.

It’d be like if, in 200 years, we decided to romanticize undocumented field laborers. Yeah they’re around, and our economy would be fucked without them, but they’re not exactly a focal point of the culture as a whole.

No, cowboys didn’t build the West. Whores did.

Because, particularly in mining towns (for which Nevada is famous), the men would get there and build a few shacks and a post office.

Then the women would show up, looking for work. Because of the nature of prostitution, they would quickly become the wealthiest members of the community.

And they would look across these sad little tent cities and say, “yeah, you know, fuck everything about that.”

They’re the ones who built things like hospitals. When they started having kids, they built schools and permanent family homes. They built the towns and cities we’re still living in today.

Go thank a hooker.

But when speaking about Nevada, everyone knows about Las Vegas. Today, that’s Nevada’s biggest draw, the thing that puts it on the map.

But before Vegas was a thing, there was Virginia City, up north, near Reno.

And the history of Virginia City is really, really interesting, but for today, I want to talk about one specific resident.

I want to talk about Julia Bulette.

Julia Bulette was a prostitute born in England, who came to America and moved to Virginia City. She was the first woman there, so she immediately set up a brothel and became the wealthiest person in the town.

Today, there are a lot of myths about her, and many historians have romanticized her, which makes it harder to sort through fact and fiction.

Some will mention her beauty. But in all honesty, nothing written about her at the time labels her as exceptionally beautiful.

They say she was tall. Thin. She had kind eyes and a warm smile. She was charming and funny, with a quick wit and an easy, infectious laugh.

She was average-looking, but she knew how to command attention and respect.

And she was pretty much immediately universally loved.

She had a soft spot for miners, and fell in love with the gritty, rough culture of the infant mining town. She involved herself in every aspect of that culture, and quickly became the unofficial leader of the town.

When an epidemic swept through, she threw open the doors of her brothel and personally nursed ill miners back to health.

When a fire ravaged the town, she worked tirelessly, right alongside the town’s fire brigade, for hours. Even when the men around her were exhausted, she kept going.

They later held a parade in her honor, presented her with a fireman’s hat, and made her an honorary member of the fire brigade.

And today, one of the only surviving portraits of her shows her with the fireman’s hat they gave her.

But she took the wealth and influence she earned, and put it right back into the town. She funded and helped write new training guidelines and procedures to keep firefighters safe. She wrote to and recruited knowledgeable experts to make sure the town would be safer for the residents (and as it happens, Virginia City developed some significant technological advances in mining).

As wealthy as she was, she spent herself practically into debt, funneling her money and power right back into the townspeople who followed her.

She loved the town, and the town loved her.

Others took notice, too.

You may have heard of Samuel Clemens. You may know him better as Mark Twain.

We don’t know how he came up with his pen name, but a popular theory is that he came up with it while in Nevada. Virginia City, specifically.

I came across one theory that Julia Bulette is the one who gave him the idea for the name. Now, I think that’s kind of a stretch, probably one of the romanticized myths that have sprung up about her, but Clemens and Bulette were close.

She had a purity in her that everyone could see. When she walked into a room, people noticed.

In January of 1867, she was found dead, strangled and beaten, in her home. A drifter named John Millain was quickly convicted and hung for her death (though he insisted, til his dying breath, that he didn’t kill her), and literally the entire town came to see him hang.

Mark Twain, who was too far away and couldn’t make it back in time for her funeral, made sure to be there for Millain’s execution, and was seen paying his respects at Julia’s grave.

Her funeral procession was thousands strong. Her body was transported in a glass-walled hearse (similar to the glass coffins in fairy tales such as Snow White). The firemen were next, followed by the Nevada militias, and then the miners, and then all the citizens whose lives she touched. The town closed down, to allow its citizens to attend her funeral (it closed down again when Millain was executed).

And her legacy lived on. A railroad honored her memory by naming one of its nicest coaches after her. Her portrait hung in every saloon and casino, and patrons routinely toasted her.

She was immortalized as Cherry Malotte in the novel, The Spoilers. She was the subject of countless articles, stories, and tall tales. One author claimed she was written about more than any other woman of the Comstock Lode (the silver rush upon which Nevada was founded, and helped fund the North in the American Civil War).

The Virginia City chapter of E Clampus Vitus, a historical men’s society, is named after her.

There aren’t many people who did more for the Old West than she did. She built Virginia City, which went on to revitalize the dying town of San Francisco. It became the richest city in the West, and one of the most populous.

Even though politically, Nevada has historically been split pretty evenly down the middle, and Virginia City had its share of Southern sympathizers, Nevada’s Comstock Lode was the greatest ore find since the California Gold Rush, which gave the North a decided advantage in the war.

It was Virginia City that gave Nevada the population it needed to qualify for statehood. Nevada, Battle Born, burst on to the scene in the middle of the war, a new powerhouse of political clout and funding (silver was just as valuable as gold back then) that helped the North win.

Julia Bulette, an immigrant, a woman, a whore, did more for Nevada history than almost any other single person.

But we don’t learn about her because she was a whore.

She, who exuded radiance and purity so blinding, the tall tales sprang up before her body was even cold, fueled by those who loved her.

She, who cared for everyone, from the wealthiest saloon owner to the poorest miner. Who accepted everyone, regardless of origin or background or the color of their skin.

She, who built schools, who reformed firefighting training, who gave miners a place where they could feel welcome, who carried a city of thousands on her back.

She, who was the heart and soul of that city. The foundation upon which it, and later Nevada, was built.

She was a whore.

And that’s a sin that will never be forgiven. She’ll always exist in the shadows of obscurity, despite the efforts of Virginia City residents to immortalize her and pay respect to her memory.

She wasn’t just a whore to them. She wasn’t just a woman. And the effort they went through to preserve her legacy is extraordinary.

And ultimately, they succeeded.

History tried its damndest to wipe her out. The antiquated, provincial notions about women and sex that were so prevalent in the east swept westward, erasing countless women like Julia.

But Virginia City fought back. They kept her memory alive. When the American political machine came through, trying to devalue every woman who helped build their communities, Virginia City stood firm. The richest and largest city in the West, built on the back of a prostitute, would not bow to what the other side of the country said it should be.

Though to be fair, I think part of why they fought so hard was guilt.

Y’all don’t understand. The town ground to a halt when she died. Stores and saloons closed. Flags flew at half mast. Bells rang in the fire station, a mournful wail that rang out across the town.

They were devastated. Crushed. Angry. They wanted someone to pay for the death of their matriarch. They found a French drifter named John Millain, and he likely became a scapegoat.

But I don’t think Julia would have approved of that. She knew how life was in the gritty Old West, but even so, she spent her life as a voice of compassion and reason.

I think she would have been disappointed in the town’s knee-jerk emotional reaction.

And I think, once it was all said and done, and emotions subsided, the people knew that. I think that’s part of why they fought so hard for her legacy. I think they all wanted to make sure they never let her down again.

And in the end, I think they did right by her. They kept her name and her story alive, even if it’s impossible now to tell fact from fiction. I think she would be proud of what they did, and the way Virginia City, her city, changed the course of American history.

She is truly one of history’s badass bitches, and because of those people, her memory survives today.

This is Vegas

Jen,

This might be a strange question given the subject matter you write about. I’m not a sub but I’m here in town on vacation and since you’re a local I was wondering if you could give me some advice. What kind of men do women ask out? I’ve been going to local bars for 1 week straight and got asked out by only 1 hot woman. I’m rich, muscular and usually get admired for looks. What am I missing?

You know, I’ve actually been asked this question quite a few times.  There’s nothing strange about it.  It’s happened often enough that I’ve finally decided to break down and post about it.  Because there’s a whole side of Vegas that you don’t experience unless you’ve lived here awhile.

Okay, so I’ve lived here almost my entire life.  One year was spent in New Mexico, and another year in Alabama.  And there’s something I’ve learned in living in those other places:

Vegas is not like other cities.  Here, there is no shortage of young, wealthy, attractive men.

But first, I’m wondering if there’s an issue with self esteem here.  Why are you waiting for a woman to ask you out?  Why not approach someone you’re interested in?

Many women appreciate someone who is direct, polite, and confident.

I get not wanting to be rejected or come across as a creep, but sulking by yourself in a corner isn’t going to turn anyone on.

Also, it seems like your only focus is on physical attraction; both yours and a potential partner’s.  You talk about being attractive and wealthy like those are your biggest or only strengths as a man.

Dude, this is Vegas.  The entire city is built on wealthy, attractive people.  You’re going to have to do better than that.

Because to be honest, most of the attractive men I’ve met in bars have been entitled tourists still living on Daddy’s credit card and talking incessantly about how hot and rich they are and how everyone just loves them.

And sorry, but that’s boring.  When I go out, I want to have fun.  And looking at a hot guy with the personality of a wet mop is only fun for so long.

Nah, I’ll take the average-looking, middle-aged accountant with a wicked sense of humor ten times out of ten.  Give me a conversation I can get lost in, and you become hotter than Channing Tatum, whether you look like him or Danny DeVito.

Your level of perceived hotness is directly related to how easy it is for me to lose track of time when I talk to you.

Where you’re from, your level of wealth and physical attractiveness are probably something legitimately special.  That’s probably enough to set you apart from other guys.  You probably have your pick of the most attractive women in any given bar.

But not here.  Here, you’re a dime a dozen.  I could literally drive six minutes and get free drinks from three of you.

And in Vegas, there is always someone hotter and richer right around the corner.

Literally.  Porn stars and Hollywood stars and models vacation here just as much as regular people.  The ultra wealthy and the ultra hot come here looking for the same thing you are.  Your income can’t compete with theirs, and you say you’re muscular and attractive, but chances are, you’re no Terry Crews.

Vegas isn’t like your hometown because just being attractive and wealthy are not enough to get anyone’s attention.  You’ve got to have something that sets you apart from all the other guys who look exactly like you.

Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with someone.  Be polite and engaging.  Be interested and interesting.  Learn to rely on more than your wallet and your body.  You’ll probably have more luck.

The super badass way I injured myself, part 2

Okay, so admittedly, this is more badass than the first one.

And, interestingly enough, like the first one, this was also caused by my boobs being so big.

I decided I wanted to learn how to shoot long, pointy things into other things. So I bought a bow, some arrows, all the other crap you need, and had a short intro lesson with one of the instructors.

As it turns out, I cannot do the beginner stance, because it requires standing perpendicular to the target and pulling the string across your body. We quickly discovered that I couldn’t pull the string back nearly far enough without having to go around my boob and holding it in the middle of the two.

Which, of course, would result in some massive bruises when I released the string.

So I have to do a more open stance. I face more toward the target, which gives me more clearance in my chest.

Which isn’t a huge deal, but they don’t teach it to beginners because it’s more physically taxing, more difficult to achieve proper form (if you haven’t already mastered proper form in the square stance), and much easier to develop bad habits.

Still, it’s doable. But you know that proper form thing? And the bad habits thing?

One of the common beginner problems is not rotating your elbow out. When you release the string and your elbow isn’t out, it will slap against your arm.

No big deal, right? Just a little sting, right?

Um….

20170806_033604

20170807_124141

And this is what it looked like the next morning.

Looks badass, right? I mean, granted, that’s not just one hit. I caught my arm 3 times. And all three times, I was quickly and effectively reminded how important proper form is.

So it’s a lot of fun, and string slap definitely motivates me to learn how to do it correctly. It’s not excruciating pain, but it’s painful enough to not want to do it again.

Busty girl problems, man. It’s no joke.

Beauty and the Beast

One of the longest running subjects Kazander and I bicker about is the fact that I love musicals and Disney movies.

Although he can’t say much about the Disney thing anymore, because he likes Force Awakens and Rogue One.

Disney knows their shit, y’all.  They generally don’t fuck shit up.

But the classic Disney Princess movies have caught a lot of shit, and 90% of it is completely undeserved.

One of the movies that catches the most hell is actually my favorite Disney Princess movie: Beauty and the Beast.

You hear people criticize this movie all the time, how it’s an example of Stockholm Syndrome, how it encourages women to stay in abusive relationships, hoping that the boyfriend will change, etc.

As far as the abusive thing goes, really?  You think a damn Disney movie will turn a woman into an abuse victim?

It just goes to show how truly ignorant some people are when it comes to the psychology of abuse victims.  But because I don’t want to turn this into a 10,000-word psychology lesson, we’re just going to sum up what I would’ve written and say that no, that claim has no basis in reality whatsoever, because facts, m’kay.

And the Stockholm Syndrome thing is the product of gross oversimplification, and completely misses the point of the movie, and annoys the ever-loving hell out of me.

First, you have to remember that Disney did not come up with the story.  Like all the other Disney Princess movies, Beauty and the Beast was based on an old fairy tale.  They made it more kid-friendly, as they do (you have a problem with Sleeping Beauty?  Check out the original fairy tale.  Holy shit, dude.  Disney’s version is a feminist anthem compared to the original).

Although Disney did break from its normal pattern, and actually made the Beast more aggressive and scary than he is in the original.

The original Beast isn’t aggressive or scary or angry.  Instead, he’s depressed and emo, and he wasn’t cursed for turning a homeless woman away, he was cursed because a sorceress tried to rape him when he was 16, and when he fought her off, she basically did the if-I-can’t-have-you-I’ll-make-it-so-no-one-wants-you thing.

The live-action Disney remake made the Beast slightly more like the original, and in my opinion, it just doesn’t work as well with Disney’s version of the story.  Disney’s Beast needs to be aggressive and angry and hostile.

But politically correct people don’t like that, so they toned him down, and the scene where Belle runs away after the Beast finds her in his room (which is one of the most important scenes in the damn movie) is just awkward in the remake, and it doesn’t fit either character.  The remake really ramped up Belle’s independence, and the fact that she’s a very strong woman.  The Beast barely raises his voice to her, once, and that’s enough to terrify her to the point of choosing certain death over staying in the castle?

No, dude.  It doesn’t work.  Disney’s original version, with him being scary, is better, and they should’ve kept it, for more reasons than just that scene.

Honestly, Disney’s 1991 version is a million times better than the original fairy tale.  A big part of the reason why is because of Howard Ashman.  He deserves the credit for changing the story so completely, and for turning it into the amazing, incredible, touching, heart-wrenching movie I watched as a kid.

I mean, do you understand what’s happening in the story?  Do you really understand it?

First, let’s a take a look at Belle and the village.  They often say she’s pretty, but she doesn’t fit in.  She’s an outcast.  They stare at her.  They mock her.  They shun her for being different.

Meanwhile, Gaston, the villain, is lauded as a hero.  And that’s truly the scariest thing about the movie.  Not the Beast, not the Beast’s temper.  Not the long claws or sharp fangs or dark castle.

The scariest thing about the movie isn’t that Gaston exists, but that he’s universally loved by society.

He fits everything society says a man should be.

They fall over each other praising him, ignoring how cruel and selfish he is, because that’s not as important as fitting in to society’s man-shaped box.

Meanwhile, Belle, who is kind, and smart, and loving, is ignored and shunned because she doesn’t fit what society says a woman should be.  This is one area where the remake actually got it right, in that they make the town even more hostile toward her, where in the 1991 film, the scenes in the town just aren’t long enough to provide as much of that attitude.

But even in the 1991 film, it’s obvious that being good and decent is not as important as fitting in, and the good, decent people suffer for it.  Bullies are rewarded and loved, as long as they fit in.

Because we’ve been conditioned to think that those who are different are somehow less than us.  And it’s everywhere.  Immigrants, Muslims, women, the homeless, the sick, the disabled, criminals, those who are gay (this is a big one, I’ll get to that), those who are poly, those who are atheist or polytheistic or pretty much anything other than Christian, those who are trans, I mean, the list goes on and on and on.

People like Trump, true, cruel bullies, are rewarded for criticizing and further ostracizing those who are different, because people are so quick to see them as less.  That they don’t fit in, so they don’t belong with us, and they must be put in their place.  Or killed.

This is a common theme that comes up in many of Disney’s movies, but the only one that even comes close to Beauty and the Beast is the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

So, look at the Beast.  He’s bitter and angry, and hates himself.  In the original, the Beast asks Belle to marry him every night.  Disney’s Beast doesn’t ask, doesn’t bother asking, because he’s convinced himself that he’s unlovable, that he’s a monster, and that he’ll never be anything more.  No one trusts him because of the way he looks, because he’s a beast, because he’s an animal, because he’s less than human.

His character, and the bitterness you see in that character, shows just how badly being ostracized can mess with your head.  It shows how being told by society that you’re a monster makes you start to believe it, yourself, and affects the way you see yourself.

Howard Ashman worked on the musical score, he wrote all the lyrics while Alan Menken wrote the music, and while he didn’t direct or write the script, this movie is and always will be his.

He was an openly gay man, dying of AIDS, when this movie was made.  And sadly, he passed away before it was released, and never got to see the success of his last great work.

But the story was very different when they gave him the script and told him and Alan Menken to write the music for it.  For one, it wasn’t originally supposed to be a musical.  And secondly, the Beast wasn’t meant to be a central character.  There wasn’t much to his character at all, really.

It was Howard’s idea to make it a musical, and to change the Beast, to make him one of the main characters, to make him more central to the story.  He recognized immediately the way Belle is ostracized by society, and gave birth to the love story in which she and the Beast can find comfort in each other after society rejects them both.

As an openly gay man, dying of AIDS, in 1990, he knew quite a lot about that.  He connected with the way Belle is treated by society, while Gaston is beloved.

He, as a gay man, also faced the same stigma that they wrote into the Beast’s character.  Because compare the Beast and Gaston.  Under the bitterness and anger, the Beast is kind, compassionate, and selfless.  Even in his rage, he never hurts Belle or her father, and he risks his life to save her after she runs away (and is injured to the point that he cannot stand or walk on his own).

Quick tangent:  It’s interesting to note that in this scene, after he collapses, unconscious, in the snow, Belle turns to her horse, intending to leave him there to die.

She doesn’t, of course.  She changes her mind and helps him, but that’s a significant moment.  He risked his life for her, he protected her even when he was angry, even when he knew that she would never love him, she would never break the spell (because at this point, you know he doesn’t think she’ll ever forgive him for his outburst).  He saved her, not for his own selfish reasons, but because he’s a good man, and that’s what a good man does.

Belle, on the other hand, turns to ride off.  For that moment, she becomes society, she sees him the same way society sees him.  She turns her back on him, she intends to leave him there.

But she stops, and it’s a very important, revealing moment in her character development.  Because it shows that she’s not perfect, that she’s human, that she can let her fear and distrust overcome everything else, the way any human can.  And it shows just how easily even good people can become victim to the conditioning society has ingrained in us.  She could have easily gotten on her horse and left.  She was tempted to.  It’s what she wanted to do.  But she turns, she sees him lying there, and sees herself in him.

It’s not the fact that he saved her that makes her stop, but her own realization, her own discovery of the man underneath the monster.  She shows her own strength here, in her ability to go against society, her ability to go against what society says she should do.  She makes the conscious decision to see him as more than a monster, and she helps him.

He’s completely stunned by this, and by her fearlessness when he yells at her later, while she’s tending to his wounds.  She inadvertently hurts him, and he roars so loud, right in her face, that it blows her hair back.

But unlike the last time he roared at her, there’s no fear.  She meets his anger fearlessly, she yells right back at him, she matches his fire with her own.  It’s yet another important point in her character development.  She is never the “damsel in distress,” at any point in this story, but here we see her not as his prisoner, but his equal.  She establishes herself as his equal, she commands his respect as his equal, and now that she sees him as a man, the roaring and the temper don’t scare her.

Again, she made the conscious decision to see him as a man while he was lying there in the snow, and now that she does, the monster doesn’t frighten her.  She yells right back at him, she doesn’t hesitate, she doesn’t show even a hint of fear.

It’s safe to assume that no one has ever spoken to him like this, and this is obvious in the way he stammers and stumbles over his words, his anger immediately gone.  It’s here that he starts to see her as more than just another person to reject him, and it’s here that he lets her see a glimmer of his vulnerability.

His anger and his frightening appearance have become the walls to keep everyone out, but inside, he’s lonely.  And sad.  And hopeless.  But he endures.  He keeps going, even though he’s so sure he will never be anything worth loving, he will never be anything more than a monster.

Meanwhile, Gaston is cruel, selfish, intolerant, and close-minded.  But he’s good-looking, charismatic, “brave,” and successful, so society loves him.

He’s everything society says a man should be.

But what is a man, really?  What makes a man?

Is it just a grown male human?  Is that all it is?  Or does it go deeper than that?  Does it mean more than that?

The Beast is Howard Ashman.  Being gay and being sick in 1990 carried a hell of a stigma, and most of society didn’t see him as a man.  He wasn’t what they said a man is supposed to be.  So he was ostracized, ridiculed, and attacked for it.  This was something he understood at a very personal level, and he wrote it into the story.

Because when you look at the Beast and Gaston, you have to ask; which is the monster, and which is the man?

Belle is the only one who can see the truth.  She looks past the Beast’s appearance and gets through the walls he keeps around himself.  She teaches him that he has a soul, that he’s worthy of love, and that he’s not a monster.

The only thing I don’t love about the story is how depressed he gets when she leaves, because he’s based his entire concept of self-worth on the fact that she cares about him.  When the angry mob attacks, he gives up, he doesn’t care, he simply wants to die.  He’s lost all hope, as he had before she came, but this time, he doesn’t want to fight anymore.

But given the story itself, and the life of the man who created the character, along with the fact that he was extremely ill while writing for the movie (he was tired, too, and knowing that his death was inevitable, I have no doubt he had moments where he just wanted to give up), I can understand it.

For Howard, it was a metaphor for AIDS.  It was a curse, that brought sorrow to him and everyone who loved him.  It was about his self-loathing, his regret, his despair, and through it all, the tiniest seed of hope, that he didn’t even want to really acknowledge, that maybe, just maybe, there was a miracle waiting for him, a way for the curse to be lifted.  And through it all, his partner, the man who stayed with him despite the stigma, the one who loved him when he couldn’t love himself, was there by his side.

Knowing this, the lyrics to the songs take on a whole new meaning.  You look at Human Again (which was originally cut from the film, but they added it back in when the special edition was released), and you see Howard’s own hope in it.

When we cast off this pall
We’ll stand straight, we’ll walk tall
When we’re all that we were
Thanks to him, thanks to her
Coming closer and closer

The Mob song is by far the darkest, most frightening song of the movie, not just because of what’s happening in the plot, but because it shows so clearly the mob mentality that turns men into monsters, and how easy it is to incite that kind of fear, and violence.

We don’t like
What we don’t understand
In fact it scares us
And this monster is mysterious at least
Bring your guns!
Bring your knives!
Save your children and your wives
We’ll save our village and our lives
We’ll kill the Beast!

In the title song, the way the Beast sees himself is really illustrated, and it touches on Belle’s ability to show him that he’s worth loving.  She shows him he can change, that he can let down those walls, that he can let her in.

Tale as old as time,
Tune as old as song,
Bitter-sweet and strange
Finding you can change
Learning you were wrong

Belle saves him, more than once.  First she saves him from his bitterness and despair.  Then, she saves him from his own self-loathing.  Next, when Gaston is standing over him, ready to kill him, she saves him by giving him something to fight for.  And lastly, when he is lying there, dying, she saves him again by breaking the curse for him.

People deride this movie, saying that Belle is “weak,” and I want to punch them in their stupid faces.  Belle is every bit the hero of this story.  She gives the Beast something to live for, she shows him that he’s not worthless, she teaches him how to love himself by letting him love her, even before she’s able to reciprocate it.

She makes it clear from the beginning that she doesn’t need the Beast (his name is Adam, but it’s never mentioned in the movie).  She doesn’t need anyone, and this shows in all her actions.  In the beginning, he’s her captor, but she doesn’t care.  When Madame Garderobe tries to talk to her, tries to convince her to get to know him, she snaps, “I don’t want to get to know him!  I don’t want anything to do with him!”

She’s strong and defiant, and even when she was afraid of him, she damn sure wasn’t going to let that affect her.  She wasn’t going to give in just because she was afraid.  She wasn’t going to let him have his way just because he could get loud and scare her.

She pushed him, she forced him to break out of the anger and bitterness that had become his defense.  And once he did, she fell in love with the man she found underneath.

This story is about how society sees people who are different, how quick the mob is to attack, and how that mindset is wrong.  Both Belle and the Beast are good, kind people, but because they’re different, they’re ostracized and rejected.  This story is about how two people, lonely and misunderstood, find comfort and understanding in each other, and can turn to each other when society turns its back on them.

And this is a story that’s actually paralleled in Phantom of the Opera, which, while most likely unintentional (although it’s possible the author took inspiration from Belle et la Bete), is eerily similar.  And I love that the same people who criticize Beauty and the Beast just love Phantom of the Opera, and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s version is seen as one of the greatest love stories.

…. Are you serious?

The only difference between the two stories is that Belle is strong enough to be Adam’s equal, while Christine is too weak to do the same with Erik.

Belle forces Adam to shed the walls he has around himself, she doesn’t let his anger and outward appearance scare her, and she doesn’t allow him to continue being bitter.  She’s strong enough to stand up to him, even when she’s frightened of him.  She’s strong enough to go against society’s expectations, she’s strong enough to see the man under the monster.

She’s strong enough to face him, to basically tell him, “Alright, that’s enough.  You’re going to stop being a dick, and you’re going to stop now.”

Christine, on the other hand, cannot do that with Erik.  She can’t stand up to him, she can’t push him, she can’t stop him from becoming the monster society has convinced him he is.  She’s weak, she takes the easy route, she goes with the pretty face that society loves (although Raoul is obviously not a villain like Gaston is).

She goes with the one that’s the easiest to love, and the one society loves.  She goes with what society says she should do, and Erik is left abandoned.  She’s weak, and she allows herself to be manipulated, even when she’s aware that it’s happening.

Throughout the story, she never does anything.  She never moves the story along on her own.  She requires other characters to drive the story, and all she does is follow and react.

I love the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, but I can’t stand the story.  I can’t stand Christine, I can’t stand the fact that she turns her back on the beast, and I can’t stand that she allows him to manipulate her even when she’s aware that he’s doing it, and she lets her own fear defeat her.  I can’t stand the fact that she can’t meet him as his equal, she can’t say to him, “Alright, that’s enough.  You’re going to stop being a dick, and you’re going to stop now.”

Both Adam and Erik suffer from the same curse.  They’re both shunned by society.  They’re both seen as monsters.  Convinced that it’s true, they both use it as their defense, to keep people away.  They both take advantage of it, because they prefer people being afraid of them to people being repulsed by them.

Unable to love themselves, they both look to a woman, hoping she’ll be able to love them.  Still clinging to their bitterness, they both end up kidnapping and/or imprisoning her, even as they hope she’ll be able to see what’s underneath all the anger and bitterness.  Through their despair, there’s still that tiny, tentative hope.

Belle rises to that challenge, she breaks right through the Beast’s defenses and society’s expectations, and she saves him.  She lifts his curse.

Erik’s curse is never lifted.  Because Christine is too weak and small and scared to meet him as his equal.  She can’t save him.  Hell, he’s the one who kind of realizes, “Hey, I’m being kind of a dick.  Maybe I should knock that off.”

In the musical, he realizes this and even finally shows her his vulnerability on his own, lays himself completely bare to her, he shows her every part of himself.  He realizes everything he’s done wrong, everything he’s done that has hurt her, and how he had been trying to control her, rather than love her.

He realizes this and opens himself up to her, he lets go of the hate and anger, and shows her the man underneath.

More than that, he begs her to save him.  Publicly.  He begs her to be strong enough to love him.

He submits wholly to her in that moment, he gives himself completely over to her.  In that moment, he is hers, and he’s begging her to accept him, to save him, to lead him, to guide him and teach him how to be a man, instead of a monster.

He’s willing to let go of all the hate and anger that has kept him going for his entire life, he’s willing to leave everything behind to follow her, if she’ll just accept him.  He begs her to accept him, to lead him, to save him.

Say you’ll share with me one love, one lifetime,
Lead me, save me from my solitude
Say you’ll want me with you here, beside you
Anywhere you go, let me go, too.
Christine, that’s all I ask of you

Of course, she fucks that up, too, because she’s an idiot and a coward, and he goes right back to the anger, but now he’s even more pissed off because he knows that she will never love him.  It makes him even more of a dick.

Until, again, he realizes he’s being kind of a dick, and he should probably knock it off.

He redeems himself, because she isn’t strong enough to save him.  Even when she finally sees him for what he is, even when she finally sees the man through all his anger and self hatred, she still rejects him.

Because Raoul is prettier.  And younger.  And wealthy, we can’t forget wealthy.

No, Beauty and the Beast is the way this story is supposed to go.  Phantom of the Opera is what would’ve happened if Belle was weak, the way the movie’s critics like to say she is.

The movie is dedicated to Howard, saying he “gave a mermaid her voice, and a beast his soul.”  He was made an executive producer of the movie, due to how much he influenced the story, and his life and influence played a big part in the live-action remake.

Disney has played with gay and queer themes before, but it had always been subtext, or implied, or just enough to make people wonder.

Yeah, they didn’t do that with the remake.  I mean, the director of the remake is openly gay, but openly gay crew members isn’t anything new (as evidenced by Howard Ashman, himself).  Adding it to the movie, however, is completely new.

Not only do you have LeFou, the first openly gay Disney character (and I just have to say, I’m totally in love with Josh Gad.  Laugh if you want, but find me something he’s done that is not unbelievably awesome.  Totally in love with the guy), but you’ve got quite a few little queer things thrown in.  Most notably, you’ve got the bisexual man and his cross-dressing “wife,” and you’ve got one of the mobsters completely thrilled with Madame Garderobe’s transformation of him.

I actually love the changes they made to LeFou.  Especially the changes in the Mob Song, where he really starts to doubt Gaston, and starts asking himself whether Gaston is a man or a monster.

There’s a beast running wild, there’s no question
But I fear the wrong monster’s released.

And I totally awwed at the end, where he and the cross-dressing mobster accidentally find themselves in each other’s arms.  Totally adorable.

But it’s a more optimistic picture of society than what Howard painted.  How even Gaston’s closest follower and most loyal friend, the one who followed him blindly, the one who worshiped him, the one who idolized him, even he can realize that what they’re doing is wrong.

LeFou was Gaston’s biggest fan.  Completely in love with him, there’s nothing LeFou wouldn’t do.  No one loved Gaston as passionately as LeFou did.  No one clung to the idea of Gaston’s heroism like LeFou did.

But even LeFou, when confronted with what Gaston is, knew that what they were doing was wrong, and eventually turned away from him, saving Mrs. Potts’ life.

It’s a more hopeful outlook, that even the most close-minded and fanatical can change, that no one is too far gone to turn back.  I really like that idea, I really like the idea of redemption.

But with Howard Ashman being so instrumental in making the story what it is, it’s fitting that this is the movie in which they decided to bring the gay and queer themes out from obscure subtext and make them prominent, fearlessly facing the backlash they knew would come from the very people Howard Ashman felt ostracized by.

A company as universal as Disney would generally try to avoid taking sides in any political or moral divide.  The fact that they very obviously and proudly chose a side here is a beautiful tribute to Howard.  It’s his pain that made the story, it’s his struggles with society that inspired the Beast, and it’s his spirit that Disney was loyal to.

The rest of society turned its back on Howard, and everyone like him, but Disney showed here that they would not forget Howard Ashman, they would not forget that it’s because of him that Beauty and the Beast became such a massive success (it is the first ever animated film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture), and they would not forget the battle he fought and the pain he endured.

I mean, when you look at the story, when you see it for what it is, it’s impossible not to love it.  The heart of the story, the way Belle saves the Beast, the way she teaches him how to love himself, the way she teaches him that he’s worthy of love, is beautiful.  She teaches him to be vulnerable, she allows him to take comfort in her as she takes comfort in him.

And it begs the question, “What makes a man?”  And it encourages us to take a long, hard look at ourselves, at the way we see those we don’t understand.

Yeah, not Stockholm Syndrome, m’kay.  Don’t tarnish Howard Ashman’s memory by reducing his work to that.

When you live in Vegas…

… What do you do when you want to get away?

I mean, we already live in the tourism capital of the world.  I was born here.  I was raised here.  It’s nothing new to me.  Nothing special.

So Kazander and I were looking at places to do another stay-cation this year.  We considered the Luxor again, but honestly, that place has just gone so far downhill, neither of us wanted to go there again.

Which is sad.  I remember when it first opened, when I was a kid.  I loved that place.  I loved staying there whenever my parents did a stay-cation.  The first time Kazander and I stayed there, I was shocked at how bad it had gotten, but I was still nostalgic.

After the second time, though, even I had to admit that it wasn’t what we wanted.

Where, then, would we go?

He suggested the bustling metropolis of Laughlin (pronounced lof-lin, like in “loft”), NV, population, 8,000.

And I promptly laughed.

But then he said, “Well, they’ve got the river, and a couple of beaches, and jet skis and things.  It could be fun.”

Hmm, that’s actually a good point.

I’d driven through Laughlin a million times, but never actually stopped in the town.  I never gave it much thought.  It was just one more tiny little town in the middle of the desert.  A couple of casinos and a post office.

Big deal.

But the Colorado River is pretty cool, and I haven’t been to any part of the Colorado River since I was a kid.

So I looked it up.  And sure enough, there’s enough other stuff to do there to keep us entertained for a few days.

Who knew?

Hell yeah, actually.  I could definitely go for that.  It’s out in the middle of the desert, which I love, in a nice, climate-controlled room, which I love, literally right on the bank of the river, which I love.

Hell yeah.

So we made the reservations and drove out today.  We’re going back on Sunday.

And it just feels so damn good to get away.

Things are quickly reaching a boiling point with us living so close to his family.  I’ve been wanting to move out for years, but never really pressed the issue, because I don’t work, and that wasn’t fair to him.

Then, in the last year or so, I started pressing.  Because I need to get away from them.  I know myself well enough to know my patterns, and they’ve been pushing me and pushing me.  When I break, there will be no going back.

And his MIL and SIL (Mother-in-law and sister-in-law) have officially gotten me to my breaking point.

I have a friend, who used to be SIL’s friend, until he realized the kind of human being she is.  But she did introduce us, and we hit it off great.

I was hanging out with him the other day when he got close and said, “I have something I need to tell you.”

My curiosity was piqued.  “What is it?”

“SIL has been asking about you and Kazander.”

“What do you mean?”

“Like, she’s been asking if you’re into any kinky or freaky shit.”

At first, I brushed him off.  “She’s done that before.  She’s just bored and nosey.”

But the friend was not so easily assuaged.  “She wants to find dirt on you to take the spawn from you.”

“WHAT???”

“She and MIL want you out of the picture.  They want to find a reason to declare you an unfit mother.”

“She said that?”

“Not in those words, but she might as well have.”

He’s not known for lying or exaggerating, or drama-mongering, so I completely believe him.

“But they’d never want to take her from Kazander,” i protested.

“They think he’ll side with them.”

I started to laugh, then stopped, thinking back to all the times MIL just insisted that Kazander would side with her on different things, or agree with her, or take her (poor) advice, etc.

Yeah, she absolutely would think Kazander would side with her.

Holy fucking hell.

So I got home and told Kazander what was going on.  He was shocked, but dismissive, and that angered me.

And I mean, I could see where he was coming from.  He would never side with them over me, so there’s nothing they would ever be able to do.  They could talk to lawyers if they want, but I have no record, I don’t do drugs, I volunteer with homeless veterans, I’m a total, upstanding citizen and all that jazz.  I mean, there’s not a lot they could use.  They’d have to do some serious digging to find anything remotely close, and he pointed out that they’re not intelligent or creative enough for that.

Okay, so cool, I’m in no immediate danger of losing my child.

That’s not the whole point, though.

Because we are living in an environment where people are conspiring behind my back to take my daughter from me.  Whether or not they can succeed is irrelevant.  I don’t want to be around that, and I don’t want my daughter around that.

That’s toxic.

So I told Kazander, “We need to move.”

He scoffed.  “We’re not going to move.  They can’t do anything.  There’s no point.”

“I don’t care if they can’t do anything.  It’s the fact that they want to do something!”

But he remained dismissive.  Even after I said, “Either we need to move out, or I do.”

So I started looking at options.

I wasn’t going to play tug-of-war with my child.  If they want her so bad that they’re willing to destroy her entire world, then fine.  They can have her.  Losing one parent would devastate her, but if Kazander’s family went through with this, she would either lose both parents (if his MIL and SIL won), or every member of her extended family (if he and I won).

That would hurt her so much more.  God, that would crush her.  I don’t think she could easily recover from that.  It’s been so central to her whole world, her whole existence, ever since she was born.

God… That would… That would just kill her.

I could never let that happen to her.

And I have faith in my daughter.  I have faith in the way I raised her.  I have faith that, even if she’s brought up around those pathetic, terrible, small people, she will know the truth as she gets older.

It was Sounder who suggested another tactic, one that would keep my family together.

So I talked to Kazander again.  I told him I wanted to move out.

He said, “What if I want to stay?”

I shrugged.  “Then you can stay.”

That angered him a bit.  “You’d break up with me over that?”

“Over your family having ridiculous amounts of control over us?  Over you choosing them and that control over me and your daughter?  Yes the fuck I would.”

So we agreed on a six-month trial run.  We’ll get an apartment for six months, and then reassess and decide if living away from them is worth the inconvenience of not having them there.

And of course we won’t be going far.  The family is still so important to the spawn, so we’d absolutely bring her over 2 or 3 times a week to spend time with them, or even spend the night once in awhile.  But she won’t be spending weeks with them anymore.  I told Kazander, in no uncertain terms, that’s coming to an end.

I want to be moved out by the time the spawn starts school.  So I’m looking at apartments and Kazander is talking to his dad about how he’s going to manage the finances without living there.  It can be done.

It will be done.  Because staying there, keeping the status quo, is not an option anymore.

I’m stressed.  All the time.

I’m on edge.  All the time.

I’m short-tempered and irritated.  All the time.

I can’t do this anymore.  And I hated having to give him the ultimatum, but I was literally at a point where it was either that, or I would have to walk away.  I’m not going to live in a place where people conspire to take my family from me.

It’s just not happening.

So due to the financial burden that moving out will be, we decided not to go to Cancun, as we’d planned in October.  We’d need that for moving costs and rent.

But Kazander said, “With us not going, you really just need to get away for a few days.  You need to get out of the house.”

Yeah, I really did.

Okay, so Kazander and I have very different ideas of a perfect vacation accommodation.  I want a nice room.  I want a suite.  I want… not crazy expensive, but definitely not Motel 6.  At least 3 stars.

Kazander hates paying more than he absolutely has to for a room.  He’d do Motel 6’s the entire way.

And I get where he’s coming from.  When we go on vacation, we have a budget.  He’d rather spend the money on activities and cool things to do than the room.  Where I would rather do cheap or free activities and be comfortable in the room.

So we’ve always compromised, and met in the middle.

Not this time.

We’re staying 4 nights, in a casino that has two separate kinds of suites.  The second-tier suite, and the first-tier suites.  He said we could get the top-tier suite.

You guys don’t understand.  He has never agreed to anything even remotely like that, much less offer it himself.  I was blown away.

And I appreciated the hell out of that.  So I looked on the casino’s website, juggled some things around, combined a couple of promo packages, and found something that was $300 cheaper (I’m really, really good at doing that.  I’m good at finding deals when I need to).

We’ll stay the first two nights, tonight and tomorrow, in the second tier suite.  Then, on Friday, we’ll check out of that room and into the top-tier suite, where we’ll spend Friday night and Saturday night.

After him going so far as to give me the best suite in the hotel, I’m more than happy to have the second best for two nights to save him some money.  It’s definitely worth the minor inconvenience of checking out and then checking back in.  And the packages I combined come with some nice benefits and coupons that save us even more money on food and activities.  So all in all, we’re looking at saving about $500.

Hell yeah, I’ll take the second tier suite for that.

So we drove out today, checked in, and walked up to our room.

And the room isn’t bad.  I mean, you have to understand, it’s Laughlin.  This is not Vegas.  This is not even close to Vegas.  The casino resort we’re staying in is, according to what I read, the nicest one in Laughlin.

…… That doesn’t really say much for Laughlin, m’kay.

Without the promo, after taxes and fees, the second tier suite would have cost $5 more than the pyramid suite at the Luxor for the same nights.  And it’s about that quality, just without the big tub that the Luxor suite had.  Or without the 12 years of dust hanging from the air conditioning vent that the Luxor suite had.

I mean, it balances out.

Still, kinda disappointing when you’re under the impression these are the “elite” rooms offered.

But it’s nice, it’s comfortable, we had a fantastic view of the sunset from our room, and the river is beautiful, and brings back so many memories.  We’re going on a river cruise, we’re going to one of the beaches, we’re thinking about renting jet skis, I mean, it’ll be a really awesome stay.

 

Sounder is coming out this weekend, too, to spend some time with us.  And honestly, both Sounder and Kazander are doubtful, but I promise, promise, promise that my reason for wanting him to come out to spend time with us is not to play, but to just hang out.

Kazander and Sounder are complete opposites in a lot of ways, but they’re almost eerily alike in other ways, especially regarding their senses of humor.  I think they’d get along really well.

And my dream is to have all of us live together one day.  Sounder and Kazander will have to spend way more time with each other than the occasional drink at a bar or the occasional cock in Sounder’s mouth to find out if that’s a possibility or not.

These are two very strong personalities, in two very strong men.  It could turn out wonderfully, or it could turn out badly.  I’ve had enough tense roommate situations to know that I don’t want to jump in to one again, without at least an idea of what we can expect and how we can all put in concentrated effort to make it work.

The only way to be able to make any sort of educated prediction about that is to have them spend more time together.

That’s why I want Sounder to come out.  Not to play.

Although, of course, while we’re in the room, I’ll expect him to wear girls’ clothes.  I mean, that’s just a given.  He should be wearing girls’ clothes 24/7 when he’s not in public, anyway.  Obviously he’ll wear it here, too.

And I mean, should the opportunity for play present itself, I won’t stop it.  As I told Sounder earlier today, I will never pass up the opportunity to put a cock inside him.

But even if we do play, that’ll just be a small, short part of the evening.  That’s not going to be the bulk of our interactions while he’s here.  For the most part, it’ll just be chill, seriously just innocent hanging out.

So yeah, y’all…. I am beyond looking forward to the next few days.

And for someone who lives in Vegas, who has done the “Vegas tourist” thing over and over and over again, this is a welcome change.  Hell, this might actually turn out to be my new favorite stay-cation place.  Who knew?

Kazander often has good ideas, but he hit it way out of the park with this one.  That was just sheer fucking brilliance.

Who would’ve guessed, Laughlin?

Why am I not surprised?

 

Okay so in my last post, I mentioned the large number of skeptics who give me hell or get all judge-y and condescending for choosing to believe that astrology has merit, and that I’ve never met one of these people who knew literally anything about it.

And sure enough, one such person poked his head up.  Surprising, right?  Aren’t you surprised?  Because I’m totally surprised.

See this?  It’s my “surprised” face.

But he wasn’t just condescending, he did one better (by not even reading the entire post before making his condescending comment, *Edit* and something else that seriously made my day), and since I’m just a bit argumentative (possibly because I’m an ENTP, possibly because I’m Air and Mercury Dominant in Aquarius, with Sun conjunct Mercury, or maybe just because I’m a bitch who loves to point out when people are flat-out wrong), I couldn’t resist.

Screenshot (29)

Aww, aren’t you precious.

It’s so cute when people try to be condescending, touting their imagined intelligence. Especially when their comment contains numerous grammatical errors.

And most especially when their comment reveals the fact that they didn’t bother reading the entire post before telling me why I’m wrong (and literally proving my original point about these obnoxious skeptics).

Like, I literally just got done talking about how the obnoxious, condescending skeptics prefer ignorance, that they jump to their precious conclusions without knowing anything about it, and here’s a guy who proves my point beautifully.  He didn’t even bother reading the next four paragraphs of my post (much less the whole thing).  He stopped at that sentence, jumped to his conclusions, and did the whole “do a simple blind study and win a million dollars. Easy money” thing.

And for the record, from this point forward, unless I specifically say otherwise, when I use the word “skeptic,” I am talking exclusively about those who get all judge-y and condescending, and feel compelled to give me shit about something they know literally nothing about.  I know a great deal of skeptics who are extremely respectful, and we can discuss it civilly and politely.  Nothing I’m going to say applies to those people.

But that’s not how things work? The burden of proof is on the person making the claim. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

Sigh….

Okay, so since reading is hard (and I know I got super science-y and technical in my last post, you may not have been able to follow if even if you’d taken the time to read it), I actually quoted 2 specific studies of astrology that literally did that exact thing. One by Clark, one by Gauqelin. I also pointed out that Gauqelin’s results were replicated 3 times, by 3 different organizations, in 3 different countries.

Which you would’ve known, had you bothered to read the entire post before telling me why I’m wrong.

Just sayin’…

Also, we don’t have “extraordinary evidence” that the Big Bang, dark matter, and dark energy exist. Those are some pretty extraordinary claims. But using what we currently know and understand, we agree that it’s extremely plausible, to the point that it’s generally accepted as fact. Are you saying you don’t believe in those things? That you’re incapable of understanding or acknowledging something you cannot see or touch, because it hasn’t been proven?

That’s a depressing way to go through life. And what’s more, every astrophysicist, quantum physicist (or quantum anything, really), and physical cosmologist thinks you’re an idiot.  I mean, that’s literally how these people make their living, by imagining things currently beyond the scope of our understanding, and entertaining the idea that it might be true.

Did you read literally anything past the sentence you quoted? Or, like many obnoxious skeptics, did you not bother to learn shit before making your snap judgement?

That’s a hypothetical question, by the way. Don’t answer it, I already know the answer (look at that, I’m like totally psychic). Because I’ve had this same conversation a hundred times with a hundred people exactly like you.

And, like I said in my post that you didn’t read, I have no desire to argue or debate with those who prefer ignorance to education.

Oh, but there is just one quick, teensy little thing….

But for the record: Just do a simple blind study of astrology and you will get one million dollar if it works. Easy money.

Bigger sigh…..

*Edit* So the commentor goes by Randy, and the url he provided is literally the link to the Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge (which was created by James Randi, and I’m assuming the commentor’s name “Randy” is a play on that), which makes all of this so much better.

Like, a million times better.  Oh my God, I literally, actually laughed out loud when I saw that.  Like, totally ugly laughed.  You guys seriously have no idea how happy this made me.

Okay, so the million-dollar thing was called the One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge (I know, Google is hard *Edit* especially when you were literally on the website), and the challenge was to prove the validity of ESP, and paranormal claims, not astrology. Not a single applicant accepted for testing was an astrologer.

You know, since multiple studies have literally already proven the validity of astrology.  Which, had you kept reading the next four paragraphs of the post after the sentence you quoted, you would have known.

Also (*Edit* and this is my favorite part, you guysthe challenge was terminated.

Which it says, in big-ass bold letters, at the top of the page you linked to.

*Edit again*  No seriously, how did you not know the challenge was terminated?  I mean, I know you didn’t read my post, but I figured you’d at least skim the shit you actually agree with on that site.  Like, how is that even possible, that you’d link to that site, but not know that it says, right up at the top, in bold letters, that they terminated the challenge?

Three astrologers applied.  None were accepted.  The most hilarious exchange was between the JREF (that’s the organization hosting the challenge, I know you didn’t know that *Edit* even though you were literally on that website.  Seriously, it’s almost not fair how much I’m enjoying this).  Look, I really am like totally super psychic!) challenge facilitator and an astrologer named John. A. “JAK” Keeran.

It’s hilarious because the JREF would literally not accept drivers’ licenses or birth certificates as legitimate proof of birth date, paternity, or biological parents’ birth dates.  JAK was never tested because they could not agree on acceptable proof of one’s birthday or parentage.

Oh and also, they didn’t like the idea of him using both astrological skeptics and believers in his data pool, because that’s something that made sense to them, while he wanted an equal number, or at least generally equal number, of skeptics and believers.  Because he felt that was the most objective method, that it would ensure that a group of nothing but believers couldn’t potentially slant their own answers to fit the test.  JREF felt that having skeptics specifically could somehow skew the results in his favor, and give him an “out” if the tests disproved his claim.

And while they said it had to be a double-blind test, somehow JAK was supposed to gather the group, interact with them, and get data from them.  Which is like, the literal opposite of a double-blind test.  When he pointed this out, and voiced concern that direct involvement with the subjects could potentially taint the test, their response was (I’m paraphrasing here) “Oh well, sucks to be you.  I guess you just can’t do the test after all.”

Oh, but tell me more about how objective and scientific and totally not-ridiculous that challenge was.  You can see the records by the challenge facilitator, and see just how demeaning and insulting he was to everyone who applied.  He openly mocked them, and was proud of it.

Whether their claims were bullshit or not doesn’t matter.  I happen to think 99% of anyone who claims any kind of paranormal thing is full of shit.  You won’t see me openly mock or insult them, though.

I know, it’s weird, right?  It’s almost like I’m a better, more compassionate, tolerant, and open-minded human being, capable of recognizing that other people have other experiences and thought processes that lead them to different conclusions that, while I may not agree, I can accept as valid to that individual.

Totally weird.

No, I save the mockery and insults for hypocrites, the willfully ignorant, and those who think they can come on my blog, say something demeaning (and incorrect) and not get publicly ripped to shreds.

So yeah, that challenge was a complete scam, by an organization (which was not a scientific organization, by the way *Edit* and you probably should’ve noticed that when you were literally on their website) run and headed by a former magician. It was so widely criticized, it was eventually terminated, citing wanting to use the money for other purposes as their reason (*Edit* which it literally says, right at the top, in big bold letters, on the website you were on when you copied and pasted the link to show how super smart you are)

And it’s hilarious to me that every obnoxious skeptic immediately brings up that challenge, knowing literally nothing about it, such as the qualifications for applicants, the “controlled” parameters, or the fact that applicants had to sign away their right to an attorney and had no access to the results of the tests, meaning that the organization could legally slant or change the results altogether to suit their purposes.

Whether the organization actually changed results or not, I don’t care. If their goal was truly to objectively prove or disprove the existence of paranormal abilities, why would they need to use such underhanded methods?

Uh, cuz it wasn’t objective, bro.

You know, facts and all.

The only “challenge” ever open specifically to astrologers was to see if they could correctly answer questions about future election results. Since astrology doesn’t predict the future (and it’s kind of laughable, and stupid, to think that astrology does that, and kinda just proves the ignorance of the skeptics running the test), that challenge was never won, and every time someone new opens that challenge (there has been more than one), no astrologist will ever win.

There’s also one open to anyone who claims to use paranormal abilities or astrology to diagnose and treat a range of illnesses. Again, astrology does not do that, so no astrologer will ever win it.

So, since no astrologer will ever win those challenges, that must prove astrology is bullshit, right?

Or is it possible the challenges themselves are slanted, knowingly or unknowingly, by skeptics specifically looking for flaws?  Or, more likely, by skeptics who are totally ignorant about what astrology actually is and have no desire to educate themselves?

Since, again, actual, objective scientists, using actual scientific method, repeatedly found validity in the practice.

Repeatedly.  As in, more than once.  As in, not an isolated incident.

As in, there are literally more tests and studies proving the validity of astrology than there are proving that it’s no better than chance.

Because of the studies that exist that claim to disprove astrology, a) I have a hell of a hard time finding the actual scientific studies themselves, published in the actual scientific journals, which immediately sends up red flags.  Any medical or scientific study that does not make its findings public screams “fraud” to me, but then again, I think Andrew Wakefield is a fraud, while a great number of people worship him as their cult leader, so what do I know?

B) They are made based on claims that don’t actually exist among professional astrologers (yeah, no astrologer can “predict your marital status at age 30” by using your birth chart, bro.  And none of the astrologers I’ve ever met have literally ever claimed to be able to do that.  What a shock that the study using that as their basis found no correlation), such as predicting the future or someone’s IQ, or whether they will die in an accidental death.  I mean, really?  Is that what all you skeptics think we believe?  Like for real?  You actually think that?

Wow, dude.

No seriously, show me where any astrologer claims to be able to determine your height from your birth chart.  That one, I’ve never even heard of.  But apparently some skeptics in India think that birth charts are supposed to do that.  What a shock, that study found no correlation, either.

There’s this one dude in Mumbai, named Raiyani, who tried to literally ban all public astrology practices.  He went to an event and issued a challenge.  These are his exact words:

“I said, you give me 12 predictions for every month-end about the movement of the Sensex, of inflation as per the price index, and the quantum of rain [in some of the main cities of India].”

He goes on to snidely say, “Predictably, no one responded.”

Uh, yeah, bro.  It’s not a damn weather service.  It’s not an economic guide.  It doesn’t show you how to game the Stock Market.  Those who are educated about astrology know this.  And we don’t pretend astrology can do what it can’t.

Also, c) astrologers will flat-out admit that astrology has limits, and will readily publish studies showing such limits (as opposed to the skeptical organizations in Belgium and France, who waited 8 and 14 years, respectively, to publish their positive results, because they didn’t like the answer they got).

Nona Press, an astrologer, gathered a few hundred birth charts from those who committed suicide in New York City between 1969-1973, and they found no significant correlation between suicide and astrology (which, to me, is common sense, but this was also 40-ish years ago, and apparently there were some people back then who thought astrology and suicide were somehow linked).  Quick, wanna guess how many years they waited to publish those results?  It wasn’t 14.  It wasn’t 8, either.

Oh, but astrologers are the biased, ignorant, close-minded ones.

Riiiiiight….

So um, the burden of proof is actually on the skeptics to show that those tests and studies are wrong.  Cuz as of right now, claiming that it’s complete bullshit is more extraordinary than claiming it has validity.  Since multiple people in France, Belgium, and the US already tried to prove one study wrong, and literally couldn’t.

Facts are hard, I know.

But no it’s cool. It’s totally cool to cite that paranormal challenge when you don’t know anything about it (you know, such as the fact that it’s been terminated).

Just like it’s totally cool to get all condescending about something you know literally nothing about.  And didn’t even bother reading the entire post, because your ignorance is just that important to you.

You wouldn’t happen to work for Trump, would you? If not, man, you missed your calling.

So I have a challenge for you (assuming, of course, you’re still reading this and didn’t stop after some random comment ten paragraphs ago.  I don’t have high hopes that you’re still with me, but we’ll see).  It’s the same challenge I’ve issued to every obnoxious skeptic who tries to get all condescending with me.  And just like your dear James Randi, no one has “won” my challenge.

In fact, while I’ve issued this challenge to literally every obnoxious skeptic who has given me shit for it (along with a few non-obnoxious skeptics, who have been respectful), only 3 people have ever taken me up on it, and one was Kazander.

Kazander was never obnoxious about his skepticism.  He was honest, direct, and polite, and that’s fine with me.  A few months ago, though, we were talking and I brought it up and he again reiterated that he thinks it’s bullshit.  So I issued the challenge, and because he is capable of changing his perspective when presented with conflicting information, he took me up on it, and discovered that he was wrong.

Interestingly enough, the other two who took me up on it didn’t fall under the “obnoxious skeptic” category, either.  It’s almost like those who jump to conclusions and feel the need to be condescending and put down other people are afraid that they’ll be proven wrong, because they cannot handle the world not fitting inside their precious little box.

Weird.

But as I was saying, only three people have ever taken me up on it.

Those three people are not skeptics anymore.

So here’s my challenge:  Tell me I’m wrong.

You want burden of proof?  M’kay then, I’ll prove it.

Give me the time, date, and location (city, state, county, country… or territory, whatever) of your birth.  Then give me a few days (these things are labor-intensive as fuck, I never do them for free, but I can be just a smidge spiteful – you know, it’s the Aquarius in me – and the chance to publicly show you up is more than worth the 10-15+ hours of my time it’ll take).

Give me that, and literally nothing else.  I don’t want to know anything else about you.  Then, when I’ve got your natal chart analyzed, tell me I’m wrong.  Tell me it’s not accurate af.

I’ll even post it here, so other people of different astrological signs can read it and weigh in.  That way you can’t cite the professor who handed out “individualized personality profiles” to his class, who scored it with an 80% accuracy, and then found out they all received the exact same thing (which, incidentally, was Gauquelin.  Does that name sound familiar?  It should, because he’s the dude who found the correlation in the positions of specific planets in celebrities.  He was in no way a believer of astrology, and he openly professed his skepticism.  He also openly professed that at least parts of it just cannot be explained by coincidence and random chance, and that there is validity to it).

If you’re a Cancer with Saturn and the Moon Dominant, chances are that there won’t be a hell of a lot in there that a Sagittarius with Mercury and Jupiter Dominant can relate to.

If you’re so sure it’s full of shit, you shouldn’t have a problem with that.  And if you’re so enlightened and educated, you shouldn’t have a problem admitting that you were wrong, and recognizing that being a judge-y douchebag probably isn’t the best way to navigate through life.

Oh and since you know everything you need to know about astrology, without having to read anything, do me a quick favor and calculate the ecliptical geocentric longitude on the eastern horizon at the time of your birth.  That’ll make things quicker for me, since I won’t have to do it for you.  It’ll help me out when I line up the Houses with Signs, and it’ll help me figure out your planetary chart ruler.

And just in case you don’t know how to calculate it, here’s the equation I use.  Just remember that you have to use sidereal time, not solar time, and that makes a big difference.  Since sidereal days are like 5 minutes longer than solar days.

{\displaystyle \lambda _{\rm {Asc}}=\arctan \left({\frac {-\cos \theta _{\rm {L}}}{\sin \theta _{\rm {L}}\cos \varepsilon +\tan \phi \sin \varepsilon }}\right)}

But it’s cool, if that intimidates you, or you don’t know how, or if you’re not familiar with the field of astronomy, I’m happy to do it for you.

You probably won’t take me up on it, though (remember, I’m like totally psychic.  I know these things).  No obnoxious skeptic ever does.  And because you choose to make condescending remarks without reading the rest of the post, because you cling to your ignorance and don’t bother reading what I wrote about it in the first place, anything you have to say outside of your birth info, I’m just not interested in hearing.

Good talk, though.