A political revelation regarding the Star Wars prequel trilogy

I have a confession to make. I am kind of a nerd when it comes to politics and government. I became a journalist because I truly am fascinated by the political process. Things like economic development, infrastructure investment, community engagement, police policy, parks and recreation and more just really do interest me. I enjoyed my time covering meetings and seeing the political process unfold. I covered elections, even interviewed in person Beto O’Rourke before he got famous.

Sure it’s easy to see with that background why I would be a staunch defender of The Phantom Menace in particular, that whole scene with the congress calling for a vote of no confidence in the chancellor really gets my brain juices flowing. But did you know that it’s actually because of Star Wars that I became so fascinated by politics in the first place? Well let me explain.

When I was a kid I loved reading books. I read  books well above my reading  grade. I was reading college level by 5th grade. I remember reading the novelization of Star Wars From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker repeatedly as a kid. Even though it was just a few hints here and there just reading about the fall of the Republic and the rise of the Galactic Empire got me curious as to what all those terms meant.

It was sometime in 5th grade when I started learning the basics of the U.S. system of government. The first time the teacher spelled out the three branches of the government a light  bulb turn on inside. Then I got really excited when I started learning about the Rebellions against the Empire that took place in our nations history. Once I started connecting the concepts I was learning in social studies to the terms I had read in my Star Wars books I became even more entrenched. I remember sitting at home watching C-Span and being mesmerized by the debates. I hadn’t formed my political alliances yet but I was enjoying learning how it all worked.

Once I started reading the Expanded Universe books I started having fantasies of being a governor of a small outer rim system trying to balance being subject to the empire but secretly supportive of the Rebellion. It even influenced my interest in Sim City and similar games as a way to enact political scenarios in my mind. I would even imagine I was a dignitary on a capital warship on a political envoy while I was working as a busser at a buffet inside the casino.

I had always attributed my interest in the prequels as a combination of my love for the EU, my own interest in politics and being the right age when Episode I came out that I just fell in love with a movie others happened to hate.

It never occurred to me that the reason I enjoyed the movies with the most politics in them isn’t just because I was into politics, but it was because it was the very franchise itself that sparked my original interest in the field in the first place.

Why am I writing this now, today? Because of the connection with the 4th of July. You see I am a day dreamer of course. You don’t get to be a very good writer/storyteller if you aren’t. So I used to always lay in bed imagining that I was on a planet in the Star Wars  universe in a heated battle between Imperial and Rebel forces every Independence Day. The sound of the fireworks and the way they lit up the night sky was the perfect sensory enhancement to maintain that illusion. To this day I can’t do anything on the 4th without thinking of Star Wars. Not to mention the way my brain associates Star Wars with the Will Smith film ID4. It all kind of goes together for me.

This Fourth of July I am hoping to celebrate with my own re-watching of the two Star Wars films I associate the most with the holiday, the original A New Hope and of course, the Phantom Menace. I missed May 4th but there’s no reason you can’t have a May the Fourth be With You on the Fourth of July, is there? #StayCool.

The T in the LGBT you probably overlooked

I recently listened to a podcast where the discussion centered on how trans people are often left out of the LGBT story by gay men and lesbians. It sounded like the individuals were struggling with accepting trans people as a part of the community.

I have to admit that for me, I always had a different perspective on this issue. For the longest time I was someone who was hiding from my feelings at the same time hiding those feelings from others. I did it out of fear, shame and disgust with myself. I was very young when I first started asking gender curious questions. It started out innocent, casually asking my sisters and other girls what they thought about certain things. It evolved into my watching trashy talk shows on TV whenever a cross-dresser, drag queen or trans person was on. At the time the term most often used was transvestite. This was the word Tim Curry used in the Trans-celebrated cult horror film The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I felt disgusted by the use of that term myself so I avoided it.

When I was a teenager I stumbled upon certain websites on the internet that were specifically designed to assist in ones discovery of sexual identity. After watching the movie Clerks the scene were they were talking about “chicks with dicks” I became curious and therefore did some further exploring.

I have to admit I struggled with finding my own identity partially because I was raised in small town Kansas. We were a church going family. Dad ended up becoming a Deacon in our church and mom taught Sunday school.

One thing I struggled with was finding how to accept what I was feeling while trying not to identify with the LGBT community. I knew I felt very similar to how I had read about trans people online claiming they felt, but I still didn’t want to be associated with that community. To me I remember when it was referred to just as the gay community then the queer community before they came up with LGBT. Even that has evolved to include more people but again I have to question are we arbitrarily drawing an us versus them line in the sand?

Shortly after coming out and seeking trans communities online I discovered the term TERF. I won’t actually get into that discussion here. Maybe sometime. But I realized even within the “community” there are divisions. This got me to thinking. What I wanted to question is are the lines really “binary” people versus “non-binary” people? I heard the term  breeders versus non breeders but even that feels off to me.

My initial struggle, which believe me I lost many nights of sleep over not to mention all the heartburn I dealt with, stemmed from trying to solve the issue of wanting to accept I was trans but also fitting that idea into the binary/breeder centered perspective of the Judeo-Christian view point. I was afraid to admit that being trans meant I did in fact have something in common with the queer community. I read an article that was written before my time where some so-called expert said transvestites (the term for transgender people at the time) were just homosexuals who were ashamed of their homosexuality. That perspective got stuck in my head and yes this is where I admit as a born again Christian I had an aversion to that some would call homophobic. I didn’t think that was how I intended it to be taken but I can honestly say I closed myself off to exploring things for the longest time.

The first time I watched the movie Chasing Amy I did so specifically knowing it was taboo. The whole film depicted a Lesbian woman who chose to be gay because she got bored with men and turned to women. By the end of the movie she had gone back to being in a heterosexual relationship with a heterosexual male, and back to lesbian again. By today’s standard it might not be considered woke enough for some. At the time it was revolutionary for people of my generation. It might have been somewhat misguided but it did get a lot of people interested in the community who otherwise might have been closed off.

It wasn’t until I cried at the end of Being John Malkovich I realized how pervasive my inner transwoman really was. From then on I tried looking for a way to be trans while fitting outside of the LGBT norm. In other words I wanted to be a woman but I didn’t want to be attracted to men but I also didn’t want to be a lesbian because that would also go against my Christian upbringing.

It took me attending an Anglican mass and having conversations with the priest about gender and sexuality that my view began to shift from the hetero normative Christian perspective. I have yet to define my sexuality as I have a way to go to settle that issue in my own mind. However, the more I think about it the more I wonder if the reason gay men and lesbian women might have a hard time accepting trans people as part of their community is because trans men and trans women themselves might also feel uncomfortable identifying with or being identified as a part of that community. Even online I gravitate to other trans people rather than openly connecting with individuals from the whole rainbow spectrum. I met a non binary person recently and immediately  became friends. They identified as non binary and requested I use they/them pronouns when referring to them. It was tricky but I found it was easier for me to befriend them than it had been in the past befriending lesbians. I can say I had friends who were lesbian and some who were gay. I think in a way in my own mind I could understand lesbian or bisexual women but was still struggling with gay men.

Now that I am Catholic my view on God and Jesus has evolved. I see God as more loving and compassionate from the Catholic perspective than I did being raised in the very harsh, judgmental and always angry vengeful God the protestant perspective presented. It made sense to me that God would hate people who defied his creation because that was what I was told. Now to be fair the Catholic Church is not at all more accepting of LGBT or non binary people as some protestant churches. The difference, at least from how I was raised, is I discovered a compassionate God who understands we are flawed but loves us enough to guide us through life. I stopped seeing a hateful, vengeful God looking to swat us like flies for stepping out of line. I still believe in Hell, Heaven and eternal consequences of our actions. I just think some things I had been told were sin are probably not as cut and dry as some made me believe. I also believe that God’s mercy might be more obtainable than I had been led to believe. I was raised thinking rock n roll music was satanic and Pokemon was evil.

It took me attending my first Pride event last summer and mingling with all the different people before I realized there really is a sort of kinship between the various subgroups. I don’t like the us versus them mentality that labeling people creates. I am wondering if maybe it is time to redefine the whole concept of an LGBTQIA+ community? In an attempt to be more inclusive I wonder where do we draw the line? If you basically broaden it to include every person that isn’t heterosexual it sounds an awful lot like an us versus them line in the sand. Something that I think might be what is holding us back. In a way we need to all accept each other as human beings. I could be wrong. What I do know is I am trying to grow as a person.

I would be curious to get the perspective from others. Should trans people be included in the LGBT community or do we have the right to exist in our own spectrum of the rainbow? Is it inclusive to lump trans people in with the gay and lesbians or is it separate? I’ve been told gender and sexuality are not necessarily tied. There are cisgender gay men, cisgender lesbian women, transgender gay men and transgender lesbian women. Maybe it’s time we separate the LGB from the TQIA? What I mean by that is if we are to continue pushing the idea gender and sexuality are separate is it destructive or harmful for us to lump everyone together that isn’t hetero-binary? If gender and sexuality are different than trans and LGB aren’t really that connected anyways, are they? Or does it all go back to what we fight against? Are transgender women/transmen just homosexuals who cling to a gender stereotype that fits them into the binary hetero sexual world? Or are we allowed to buck the stereotypes? Can a transwoman be a lesbian tomboy and still be considered trans?

Pride week 4: LGBT creators, Freddy’s Revenge, WWE Undertaker and Keaton Batman!

And in this final episode of pride month the dark web podcast continues. I recommend other LGBT creators you should check out. I talked about a Nightmare on Elm Street 2 Freddy’s Revenge also known as the gay Freddy movie. I talked about Michael Keaton making maybe a return to the Batman franchise?! 🙂 I also talked about the Undertaker retiring from the WWE I talked about the Big Bang Theory the TV show I talked about 6 in GI Joe toys that just came out or about to come out also the 6-inch Ghostbusters toys that just came out. I talked a little bit about Atari doing stuff on social media? And I share some big exciting personal news you don’t want to miss so definitely check out this episode and stay cool.

Why sex is partially to blame for Transphobia

Men are pigs. It’s a saying made famous recently by Tim Allen and his popular stand up comedy series turned prime time TV sitcom a few decades ago. I grew up watching TV shows that reinforced a stereotypical, societally approved gender norm. Men want one thing, as Lauren Hill said, and we all know they will do anything to get it, including lying, cheating and breaking girls hearts.

Sex is the at the crux of why some men, especially those who have been brainwashed into conforming to the toxic masculinity our society glorifies. They see women as objects not equals. Inferior creatures to be adored, admired and sexualized. The problem is transgender women challenges their conventions. Even well-meaning guys who treat women right and are openly accepting to homosexual men often will cringe at the sight, or even mere mention of a transwoman. But why?

It comes down to sex. They see women as sex objects. So to them, a cisgender female is available for sex. A Bi-sexual cisgendered female could be available for sex. They know, in their minds a cisgendered lesbian is off limits, but still tantalizing in some respects so they can put those images in their mind and make sense of it. But a transgender woman defies that. She might look like a woman, have breasts, wear the right clothes, be sexually attractive but once he learns she has a penis, or used to have a penis, he is revolted by the idea of her, because she is not available for sex in his mind. So, he might accept homosexual guys as perfectly normal but he sees them as unavailable for sex because he is hetero himself.

This makes our struggle extra hard because even those who can fit bi, gay and lesbian concepts into their brains, and I’ll say that’s a start for sure, yet they see transwomen as unavailable sexually. Their eyes see a transwoman and they think bonable but then they think of her as a man in a dress and it confuses them. I get that somewhat, it was confusing for me.

I am not excusing this behavior. I am just pointing out I get it, I have observed it.

So then how do you fix it? How do you tell a man who is cisgendered and heterosexual that a transgender woman is not something to be afraid of? You start by reminding him that we’re women. But then you remind him that women are PEOPLE, not sex objects. See, they have to get out of their head the mentality of looking at a woman, trans or otherwise, and immediately summer her up sexually. It goes back to just seeing women as people, equals even. That is the first step in overcoming transphobia.

As a single gal who has spent her life looking for a female sexual partner while simultaneously pushing her own transgender feelings deep down inside, I can assure you my experiences are admittedly limited. I wish that wasn’t the case. I have had plenty of time to explore various scenarios in my mind. And I have had more than enough time to consider my feminine feelings. The truth is I just haven’t had the guts to admit the truth to myself, let alone share it with others. Being vulnerable is a decidedly feminine trait in our society. As someone who has been living as a male in a male-centric society I have  had to cope with my own insecurities as it relates to my femininity.

I sure as hell don’t believe for one second I have all the answers. What I can say is men are pigs and I am so glad I am finally getting on the path distance myself from that life. #StayCool.

Why THE RAT is so indecisive:Why friends are hard to come by.

When I was 5 years old my dad asked me what I want for Christmas and I said the number 7. It sounded like a smart alec remark coming from a kid who didn’t know what he wanted for Christmas but it was actually the end of an exasperated week of desperately trying to narrow it down to the one toy I could ask my parents to get me Knowing damn good and well they weren’t going to pick the right toy anyways. My dad recorded the conversation on a tape deck back when that was a thing you did we used to record our family game night and things like that and playing back as jokes. But the reality is that indecisiveness is the reason why I don’t have good relationships.

I’ve been trying to decide for 37 years if I want to live my life as a man or a woman and I don’t have a straight answer even to this day. My friends hate going to fast food restaurants with me because I’m the one who holds up the line I have to look at the entire menu before I decide that I’m going to get the same thing I got the last three hundred times I went because I’m always looking for something that will actually satisfy me and yet I never find it. That’s even worse at a sit-down restaurant. If I know that there’s a movie coming out that I want to see and I’m hyped for that movie I’m good to go but if there’s two movies playing that I want to see I stay home and play video games because I’m not going to be able to pick which movie to go to I don’t know if it’s fear of I’ll pick the wrong one or if it’s more why should I have to chew I want them both and if I can’t have both on I don’t want either, is that worse?

I’m a conundrum and I don’t know if I will ever be anything but. My favorite toy is Transformers but I also really like Gobots. When I was a kid I couldn’t decide which one I liked better. Whether you see it as a blessing or a curse Society made the decision for me by not promoting the GoBots line and letting Transformers live on.

I started life out down the path of becoming a Wiccan. I eventually got into the Baptist faith before growing up and joining the Catholic Church. Matters of Faith are the hardest for me because there’s so much that I want to do or want to know or want to question that I can’t get a clear-cut answer on. I started contemplating becoming a Catholic before I even settled on Baptist it took me over 20 years to decide I wasn’t happy as a Baptist and might as well give Catholicism a try and even then it took going to an Anglican Church to shake the Baptist off of me and the first time I went I was terrified of what I thought look like a Satanic ritual as I have been brainwashed to believe that. It was only after I went home and remembered that I actually used to be into witchcraft that I realized that what I saw at the Episcopal Church looks nothing like actual witch craft before I realized that I had been deceived.

The best I can come up with is I feel like a bicurious genderqueer unknown possibly trans may be bisexual individual who’s also a Catholic who identifies as a Christian who plays video games and reads comic books wants to be athletic but is too scared to commit to anything that will change the shape of my body because I am what I am. Decisions overwhelming if I had a guide if I had somebody telling me this is what you should do with your life do this life would be a whole lot easier for me but I suspect the truth is the same for most people.

I’m not like the Sheldon Cooper of the TV show Big Bang Theory I don’t have a routine I don’t wake up and have the same breakfast everyday on the right day of the week and have my set restaurant and my favorite activities or things I can really really like something one day and three weeks later have no interest in it. I went through a model train phase, break dancing hip hop DJ phase, tortured painter phase, fiction writer phase, blogger and podcaster phase, filmmaker phase, cinemaphile phase, nature photographer phase, toy collector phase, retro gamer phase, computer collector phase, CD collector and music buff phase, Nintendo Fanboy and Nintendo hater phase. It’s not like in none of these did I ever find some enjoyment it’s just I never stick with anything long enough to get good at it because I want to always try something else or I can’t decide what I actually like.

Anytime somebody asks me whether respectfully or otherwise what is my preferred gender or gender pronouns I was tell them just call me THE RAT, it’s the best I can come up with most days.

It even takes me about 45 minutes to decide what to eat for breakfast even when I only have a choice between waffles with syrup or waffles with peanut butter. By the way those are frozen waffles.

And I’m not going to be bogged down by my indecisiveness anymore I’m not going to let other people’s need to Define me Define me I don’t have a decision I don’t have an answer but if you ask me a question and I don’t have an answer right there instead of giving you a blank stare or not responding I think I’m just going to give you a I don’t know but I don’t care or let me get back to you because I’ve decided but I’m not letting people make decisions for me and that includes answering questions I don’t have an answer for. It only took me 37 years to make that decision.

Power Rangers S3 Ninjas~?

When I was a kid I fell in love with the Mighty Morphin Power rangers right off the bat. Unfortunately I was one of those kids who spent most of my life pretending to be something I wasn’t in a desperate attempt to fit in. I failed. Along the way I found myself to embarrassed to bring myself to Power Rangers out of fear of being made fun of.

I have started to revisit the series in an attempt to rectify that wrong. I realized as I was watching the first season I was having as much fun as an adult watching it as I did as a kid. Oh, sure the tension of the stories was gone but in its place was a greater appreciation for the stories, the fighting and the special effects that made the show so popular.

I stopped watching, then, around the time the movie came out. I kept trying to peak in when nobody was looking up till the Zeo era but after that I gave up. Mostly because I was just too far behind to realistically catch up.

I loved the movie and how it introduced the new Ninja Powers. Even to this day I still have a strong desire to buy the Zords from the movie. I was kind of surprised to discover the third season of the show basically ignored the events of the movie, opting instead to send the Rangers on a different quest to obtain their Ninja Powers. Ultimately it worked for me so far and here I am finally in the middle of watching season 3 for the first time.

I am a little disappointed in the acting brought on by the replacement rangers. Especially the new Yellow Ranger. I don’t know if it is the dubbing, the lines or her delivery but something feels really off whenever she is talking.

Putting that aside I am a little confused at how quickly they just swept the previous Zords under the rug. I mean so far I get not having the Thunderzords, supposedly they were destroyed or powered down, but what about the giant turtle? I don’t seem to recall anything taking place that would have prevented them from calling on him. I moved past that as I realized other optional Zord armors have been ignored once replaced so I let it go.

What about the show itself? Well the story is intriguing. The mythology is greatly expanded by the time  you get to the third season. With the quest to find the new power coins and the introduction to Rito Rivolto you get a lot of background mythology that really fleshes it out. To that end the series feels like it has taken a step forward in the story-telling department.

The Zords are one of the main reasons I got into the series in the first place. As such I had to be a little critical of the new Zords. While the ones from the movie were interesting and had similarities to the previous iterations, the new Zords felt wrong in comparison. Everything about them comes across as being out of place in that universe.

The other aspect that draws fans to the show is the action. So far I am a little disappointed. I have come to terms with the Ninjor character jumping in to save the day during every battle. However I am not liking the bird creatures that replaced the putties. Oh sure it’s easy to just complain the putties were familiar but change is a part of life, you have to adjust. I did take a step back and realize the Rangers often had to call in reinforcements even during the first two seasons so I was able to look past the Ninjor character showing up all the time. I would have preferred it if they would have waited to call him in after things called for it yet it seems like he just shows up each battle and the fight is over before it even starts. Sure there were some pretty quick end battles in the earlier shows but so far not a single battle has had any tension, no defeat, no powering down not even a monster disabling one of the zords or Mega zords, just every fight they go giant, get kicked and die that fast. It’s all feeling a bit rushed. I get the feeling the creators were pushing the story by increasing the time given to the Bulk and Skull storylines which necessitated the reduction in action scenes.  But, to be fair it’s all in the name of character development which I can’t complain about too much as those characters, previously seen as a nuisance at worst, comic relief at best, have become an integral part of the plot.

All in all I have mixed feelings about the third season of the show. It does lack a lot of the nostalgia that kept me going through the first two seasons. Yet, it has replaced some of that with a sense of discovery that has been missing from the show after all these  years.

I am somewhat feeling relieved that I am able to experience these later episodes somewhat with fresh eyes as I am seeing them for the first time. However, I do feel like the show loses some of its magic without the charm of nostalgia nor the pre-adolescent eyes of wonder to gaze upon it in admiration. The truth is the show is not meant to be viewed through adult eyes, save for the fog of time which colors all things with a rosy tint. That being said I can appreciate the things the show is doing different while allowing it to exist in the world I created in my own mind.

All things considered I am enjoying my journey through the original series. I do not know if curiosity alone will drive me to explore the later seasons but I have committed to at least get through Zeo and try to relive all of the episodes I would have seen as a kid had I had the guts to do so then.