Soapbox: Platonic Friendship

Soapbox Platonic Friendship

I’m a Geek, not a Nerd. I’m not into science, or math, or anything like that. I do have a deep, deep love of history (though in a geekier, less nerdy way). The real difference is nerds are into science and geeks are into stories. I love stories and all the things that are wrapped around them. I’m loyal to my stories and can be a bit ‘fan-ish’ about them. For instance: Lord of the Rings. I’ve read the books numerous times, seen the movies (extended edition) more times than I can count, and have random facts about both stored away in my head. I’m tempted to buy any and all paraphernalia that even hints at Lord of the Rings. Multiple different print editions of the books line my shelves, along with books about the books, and about Tolkien. To this collection has been added, by me and loved ones, lots of Tolkien’s random writing. It’s a story obsessiveness. I want to know all about what I love.

I love stories and a handful of particular stories especially.

This is how this plays out: I miss a story and its characters, but can’t watch/read it at that moment. So, I look up stuff about it. I get on Pinterest and look up Firefly. I chuckle to myself and pin away. Yes. Yes. I’m so familiar with the show I can quote most of the scenes I’m pinning. It’s strange, I know. But, it’s me enjoying the known, revisiting old friends. (See? I’m a Geek.)

Recently, I’ve returned to Sherlock. I haven’t watched it since season 4 came out, and not as a complete unit. A few weeks ago on a Wednesday night, Price mentioned something that made me think of Sherlock. Obviously, I had to start re-watching the show. The show, the story, the characters pulled me back in in an instant. I remembered and re-enjoyed all the things I love about Sherlock. It’s clever, unique, artistic, funny, relatively clean, with most excellent character building, and (most of all!) most of all the friendship between John Watson and Sherlock Holms. It’s beautiful. (A running theme in all my fandoms is friendship.) I love how they’re best friends, but also annoy one another. I love how John gets Sherlock, and how much Sherlock thrives having John as a friend. I love their loyalty, friends no matter what. I love their comradery and teamwork. It’s just wonderful. It makes my heart happy.

MaleFriendshipRuined

The other night, after all the day’s work was done, unable to find a book that gripped me, I went on Pinterest to look at Sherlock stuff. I smiled over clever memes, teared up at favorite lines, then . . . wait . . . what is this? Scroll. Scroll. Scroll. No. Stop. Quit. Please. All this stuff about John and Sherlock being gay, homosexual, having sexual a relationship. Really? Face Palm.

Every time.

In just about every fandom the world has seen fit to ostentatiously turn male friendships into something sexual.

Sherlock: John and Sherlock.

Band of Brothers: Winters and Nixon. (I kid you not.)

MCU: Bucky and Steve/Thor and Loki.

LOTR: Sam and Frodo.

Supernatural: Dean and Castiel.

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Winters and Nixon. Courtesy of Pinterest.

It happens again and again and again. All male friendships are twisted and turned into something they’re not. Our culture is so homosexual-centric and so sex oriented we can’t have friendships any more. Male friendship is being ruined. Currently, it’s almost impossible for two men in a story to be close buddies without someone turning it into a gay thing.

It makes me sad.

Can two people of the same gender with the same shared experiences not love each other platonically? Do we even know how to do that anymore? We lose one of the great joys and blessings of this life when we destroy platonic friendships and relationships.

Funny enough, you don’t see this as often with female characters. It’s there, but not as prevalent. Fans seem fine with girls being friends, platonic friends. The gay side is still there, but less extreme and extroverted. You have to dig deeper into the darkness of fan-fiction to find it. But male friendship? It’s just about gone. Is this because women form bonds more quickly amongst themselves?

Our inability to honor male friendships makes me concerned for my own stories. What if I found a Soul/Haze homosexual fan-fiction? No! No! They’re friends, buddies, brothers! Brothers! Why can’t men just be friends? Why do we always have to sully them with unintended sexuality?

Even Supernatural has an episode where Sam and Dean meet a fan and find out, to their horror, that there’s an undercurrent of them having a sexual relationship. They’re brothers! Brothers! Where do we draw the line? Why can’t we see this is ruining male relationships? Why can’t we see that we’ve let sex into every facet of our beings? It makes us jaded. It clouds everything. It taints what once was pure. You watch. Soon, it will be parent and child. We will take all forms of love and make them sexual.

Sex is great. It’s a gift of God. We’re all sexual beings. It’s part of being human and creaturely. Unfortunately, we’ve made the helpful servant the master, and it’s a horrible master! Instead of keeping sex in a good, right, and pure place, using it as God intended, we’ve poured it into every segment of our lives. The outcome: girls and women writing male homosexual fan fiction about two real men who bravely fought in WWII—who still have living children and grandchildren, people who know them—having sexual relationships. It’s disgusting. They can’t just be friends. Oh no, of course not. We can’t let friendship be enough. Beautiful, strong, faithful, loyal, good friendship, one of the strongest bonds in humanity isn’t enough.

What really gets in my craw, is that the whole LBGT etc., gay community, who screams bloody-murder about not forcing people into a sexual box and safe spaces, doesn’t defend the straight the way they demand the straight defend them. Imagine the hue and cry if a fan made a gay couple only platonic friends. Image the witch hunt, the tar and feathering! But, if you take two historic or obviously platonic males and make them straight, it’s like the sweetest, best, cutest, coolest thing. Please kill me now. What hypocrisy.

Okay. I’m getting off my soap box, but fans, come on, let friends be friends. Embrace the beauty of the non-sexual friendships as much as you do the romantic ones.

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Thanksgiving (Day 18)

I’m thankful today for something that is very earthy and ordinary and temporary. I’m thankful for the TV Show Band of Brothers (my favorite only after Firefly). 

I’m so thankful for this weekend when I get to share it with a dear friend. This show resparked my love of WW2 history and reinforced my love of the brotherhood of warriors.

And now, I get to share it with someone else!!!! I swear I will try to keep random Band of Brothers facts to myself. 

Let the viewing begin. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

There is Beauty Even Here: All the Light We Cannot See and Hamburger Hill

 

It seems odd to connect the book All the Light We Cannot See with the violent war movie Hamburger Hill. One is filled with elegant and gripping prose. The other reeks of dirt, blood, gore, language, and nudity. And yet, a beauty resonated within them both.

All the Light We Cannot See is the story of a blind young girl, and a smart, small boy caught up in WW2. Werner is a German and Marie is French. Their lives touch for the briefest of poignant moments. Instead of getting down in the muck of war, Doerr captures haunting horrors in words of longing, and broken grace. You know all that is happening is gross, mean, and destructive, yet you are removed from all that by a prose that takes you higher. And somehow this lofty view makes it all the more terrible. It paints death with beauty which only makes the death more jolting, more revolting. Your heart weeps at the loss of innocence, family, goodness. You see souls torn more deeply by the careful choice of each perfect word.

Hamburger Hill is as opposite as you can get. There are no majestic shots, no moving music, and no quotable dialogue. All there is is a handful of very young men cussing, fighting, and lusting. They are covered in dirt, sweating, and unattractive in every way. But, as the movie culminates, beauty blazes through. It is seen in the worst guy who hasn’t said one pure thing about a woman, hugging the other guy who’s girl just dumped him. It’s seen when a Lieutenant weeps as his men are mowed down by friendly fire, when a sergeant explains why he came back to Vietnam, when race is sponged away between white boys and black boys cause they’re all dying, when a private wipes his sergeant’s face, and when a man holds so gently his dying buddy. Great tenderness blooms between these men as they attempt to fight their way up a hill for ten days.

Beauty is found even here.

Two stories of war, as different as can be, and yet both show a light burning bright in the darkness.

Reading/watching these back to back was emotionally taxing, and yet it reminded me of why I’m drawn back to war stories over and over. I love seeing the light in the darkest moment. I love the beauty that blooms in battle. I love brotherhoods. There is something magical about men who have fought together that we’re losing in our feministic culture. I plan to go down kicking and screaming. I will be a woman who honors warriors without demanding to be one.

I love these stories because they capture the reality of my existence. I am not what I seem on some level. It’s true, I am a middle class, white, suburban housewife. But, I’m also a saved sinner, a healed monster, and a warrior in the battle against sin. War movies are my unseen reality and my church family is my band of brothers. I may not want women to be forced into the bond of battle formed between men, but I can also be part of that great friendship in the spiritual army of the Lord. When I see them fighting down in the dirt, when I see two children suffering all that war brings, I look with my Christian-colored-glasses and see the spiritual battle I engage in every day.

Life is more than it seems, both uglier and more beautiful.

Sometimes as a writer, I lose my way. I forget what story I’m telling when I’m in the middle of plot lines, time lines, and commas, but movies and stories like this help re-align me. They help me keep fighting. They help me to pray for my family. They remind me to hug and hold cause I don’t know the battle my fellow soldier may have engaged in this week.

There is beauty even here.

 

Favorite Books

A friend of mine, Bethany Jennings, posed the question of favorite books on Facebook the other day. While I have a running list in my head of favorite movies, I was stumped to think of my favorite books. This bothered me since I consider myself a reader. After much thought I came up with this list:

  • Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
  • Harry Potter by JK Rowling
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams
  • The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell
  • Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
  • Mindhunter by John Douglas
  • The Count of Monte Christo by Alexander Dumas
  • The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
  • Fiddler’s Green by A.S. Peterson
  • Sunshine by Robin McKinley
  • Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz
  • All Band of Brothers Books but especially: Easy Company Soldier: The Legendary Battles of a Sergeant from World War II’s “Band of Brothers” by Don Malarkey, Biggest Brother: The life of Major Dick Winters, the Man Who led the Band of Brothers by Larry Alexander, Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends: Two WWII Paratroopers from the Original Band of Bothers Tell Their Story by William Guarnere
  • The Lost: The Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelssohn
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
  • 3000 Degrees: The True Story of a Deadly Fire and the Men who Fought it by Sean Flynn
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Les Miserable by Victor Hugo
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy
  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  • With the Old Breed by Eugene B. Sledge
  • The Killing Zone: My life in the Vietnam War by Frederick Downs
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Most books by Diana Wynne Jones
  • The Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin
  • The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
  • The Redwall Series by Brian Jacques
  • The Railway Children and Five Children and It by E. Nesbit
  • Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
  • The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  • The Hardy Boys by Franklin W. Dixon

These are books I have either read several times, quoted from, was strongly influenced by, stuck with me, or I learned from. The longer I think about it the more books I want to add. This list is not static, but growing all the time.

And, due to popular demand, some of my favorite books are also:

  • When Skies are Gray by Abby Jones
  • Never Know, Dear by Abby Jones
  • Don’t take my Sun by Abby Jones (Unfinished)
  • Happy Thought by Abby Jones
  • Hero’s Story by Abby Jones
  • Hope’s Journey by Abby Jones (Unfinished)
  • The Cost of Two Hands by Abby Jones
  • The Sparrow and the Star by Abby Jones (Unfinished)
  • The Seventh Son of the Seventh Son by Abby Jones (Unfinished)
  • The Playground Children by Abby Jones (Unfinished)
  • The Texas Cousins Adventure Stories by Abby Jones

 

Happy Memorial Day

 

To the Heroes who Never Came Home.

To the Heroes who Never Came Home.

Carwood Lipton, Don Malarkey, Dick Winters at the grave of Skip Muck.

Carwood Lipton, Don Malarkey, Dick Winters at the grave of Skip Muck.

Happy Memorial Day!

In honor of those who have fallen, who gave their all in defense of this country, who never came home, we set aside this day. May we never forget the cost of freedom, the cost of defending our country. May we never forget these real heroes.

These images show heroes that are close to my heart, but there are not enough minutes in the day to honor all who paid the ultimate price.

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December Books and Movies

Here are some of the books and movies I’ve enjoyed over the last month. I’m leaving out Platoon and Good Morning Vietnam because I want to do an article sometime early next year covering all the classic Vietnam movies. I also watched Band of Brothers for the fourth time and won’t write a new review for it.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1451638590/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1451638590&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=3BBVO3XUMK7NQ5OF

Spellbound (Grimnoir Chronicles #2) by Larry Correia

The second book in this series is just as good as the first. Rewriting history to include magical Actives and using them to explain events like WWI, the dustbowl of the Midwest, and the growth of government power under FDR is so much fun. Due to his first hand knowledge of guns, Correia is exact with his weapons. If you’re a gun nut, you’ll enjoy these books. Correia is also very conservative. It’s nice to read a book you don’t argue with the entire time. He never gets preachy—his books are, after all, action flicks—but he does make a jab here and there at FDR. They are fairly clean with limited language and over the top violence. These books aren’t without heart. I did tear up a few times as the Grimnoir struggled to keep their friends and family safe while battling enemies on every front. Correia’s good like that. This is a book I have on Audible and I highly recommend it because Corriea got the perfect reader for his book. If you’re looking for a good weekend read, check out the Grimnoirs.

Rated: PG-13 (Language and Violence)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/143919260X/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=143919260X&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=KHYW2Q4M6P2DF3V6

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

King offers up four unique, creepy, and down to earth stories in this book. They feature normal people in bad situations usually making them worse, though two of them aren’t without a semi-happy ending. The last one was my favorite. Based on the BTK killer, King explores what it would be like to find out after 30 years of marriage that you’re husband’s a serial killer. (Queue extra creepy music.) Thankfully, this was one of the stories with a happy ending, or at least as happy as King can get. Because he capture the simple habits of a long marriage so perfectly, the little things you know so well about each other, the special quirks, the chilling horror level ratcheted up quickly. If you like King you will enjoy this collection.

Rated: R (Language, Violence, Adult Situations, Rape, Serial Killers)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1416955070/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1416955070&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=HUD4XBTTOL2VJW33

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009AMAKWM/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B009AMAKWM&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=TOMI323XEBTTNZLD

The City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare (Book and Movie)

Since I have switched to writing YA fantasy some of my YA friends have given me a few books to read in that genre. This might be a bad thing because neither the book, The City of Bones, nor the movie impressed me. When my husband and I finished the movie neither of us understood the overall plot. What was really going on? What world events swept this girl up? (I had this problem with Divergent for the first 2/3 of the movie, too.) At first, I enjoyed the book more than the movie because I felt like I had a better sense of what was going on. Then, I got bored and realized the movie was mashing things together because they were cutting out the long and pointless teen drama moments. The movie tried to fix the book. Sigh.

The writing style of the book was sub-par. Clare threw in large and odd words here and there like she closed her eyes and pointed at that section of the thesaurus with no sense of what worked in the voice of the story. Every time she did this, I got pulled out of the book. A reader should be able to tell by the context what the word means. In Clare’s case, I could not.

Ultimately, I only cared about one character in the whole book and found the story to be mostly uninteresting.

My main problems with this style of writing—normal human female drawn into supernatural world of hot men where she realizes she is beautiful and must beat said men away with a stick, oh and some plot going on over there, and of course the jerk is the guy who gets the girl—are I always feel on the outside of the world, and appealed to on my most basest level.

It wasn’t until the very end of the book, like the last chapter that I even felt connected to the world. Through this big thick volume, I felt like I had my nose pressed to a window and only got a truncated view of Clare’s fantasy world. When I read Harry Potter, Harry’s world was more real than mine. When you read Lord of the Rings, you are in Middle Earth. E. Nesbit, Neil Gaiman, Robin McKinley, Suzanne Collins, Larry Correia, Scott Lynch and so many other good fantasy writers want you in their world. That’s why you’re reading it. You’re not reading it to stand on the outside observing.

Driving the reader based solely on who is going to end up with who does not a good page turner make. I hate it when I realize the only reason I’m interested in a story is to see if these two people hook up. And even that wasn’t done well. I never really felt a strong connection between Clary and Jase. Their romance wasn’t memorable. Plus, it’s not that important to have a boyfriend when you’re 15. Clary had a tiny bit more personality than Belle in Twilight, but I never cared about her. I never cared about anyone other than Luke. (Side note, including a homosexual character made all the relationships questionable. Whenever two male characters were good friends, I never knew if they were friends or lovers. I enjoy some blurring of moral lines because life can have some very gray moments, but not smudging like this.)

Rated: PG-13 (Mostly because the worldview is one that needs lots of guiding. There are some YA sexual jokes, violence, and language. The love relationship is unrealistic and unhealthy. The lead male is a jerk through the entire story, yet she still falls for him. If you want to see magic, read Harry Potter. If you want confused brother/sister relationships watch the original Star Wars.)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/147671746X/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=147671746X&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=GSJ5VNRKFZASEWHQ

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

One would believe that this is a unique romantic comedy about a zombie who falls in love with a human girl based upon the preview for the movie. It’s not. I don’t even know if this is Young Adult. This book is beautifully written and filled with interesting tidbits to digest. It is a thinking book. Is it a commentary on a mid-life crises? Is it a rewrite of Romeo and Juliet? Is it a commentary on the pointless void the next generation faces due to their entitlement status? On this basis, I would say that this could be a great book to read with your Junior or Senior kids. It would need to be read and savored for its beauty and then picked apart for its philosophy. The joy of a well-written book is that you can do both. There were some moments I lost interest in the story and felt it dragged a bit. But since I read it at the same time I read City of Bones, it’s beauty was provided a stark contrast, so I never just gave up on it. Again, I was drawn right into the world, not forced to stand on the outside. While there was an important romantic relationship, the story was more than that. Their romance was the catalyst for the story not the only point.

Rated PG-13 (Violence, Language, Sexual Content: this book makes the common error of assuming Hate and Greed are sins but lust is not.)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0425224368/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0425224368&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=7GT7HYFQIMT4WCZ2

Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends by William Guarnere, Edward Heffron, Robyn Post

I stumbled on this little treasure at Half-Price Bookstore and read it on Black Friday instead of going shopping. Anytime I watch Band of Brothers I tend to get a little obsessed. This is the third book I’ve read about Easy Company. There are also some interviews on YouTube that I’m working through. This book focuses on only two members of Easy Company: Wild Bill and Babe. They grew up only blocks from each other without ever meeting and served together in Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge where Wild Bill lost his leg. After the war was over Babe looked Wild Bill up and they’ve been best pals ever since, dying only months apart.

Because you get to see their lives from the beginning, you get a sense of why their generation was able to do what they did. They grew up hard and fast, but with strong families and close friends. Then they joined the unique training experiment of the 101st Airborne and . . . the rest is history.

Rated PG-13 (Young men at war, war)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1599253453/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1599253453&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=MVJCUPHHDW2XTJQN

Holding Communion Together by Tom Chantry and David Dykstra

After all the controversy, I was eager to read this book and see what all the hoopla was about. I came away from this book sad because sin tears us apart. As Chantry and Dykstra take us through the growth of Reformed Baptists in America in the last century, they also take us through the problems plaguing us even to this day. It is always helpful to get a historical perspective. It’s just not often that when I’m getting that perspective I know the people being talked about. That was just a bit surreal. So, my first reaction was sadness, sadness over the friendships destroyed, the churches torn apart, and the splits that fractured so many people. Continuing in the story, I was made aware of the need to pray for our leaders, pray they will be kept from the lies of the evil one, that they will stand under the pressures of other churches to bend and compromise, and pray that they will stand for truth. On a very personal level, I enjoyed reading about David Straub. He was very dear to me and I miss him even to today, though I was only a little girl when I knew him. God is good and I’m thankful for the work these men did. May it encourage us all in prayer and steadfastness.

Rated PG (Sinful men in a sinful world and church fracturing)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001HN694K/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B001HN694K&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=I5RZQREN3DKAVWJ5

Alice in Wonderland

This movie is odd. In true Alice fashion, it’s odd. It would have helped if I had picked up earlier on that Alice was returning to Wonderland. For some reason I didn’t get that this was the continuing of the story not a remake of the story. There were several points where I just couldn’t follow what everyone was saying. But, the fight against the Queen of Hearts, the costuming, and setting were well done. Then the end just jumped on the feminist bandwagon and that was that. Of course, a woman who saves a kingdom would never settle for being a mother. What a waste of her life. She must go adventuring. Sigh. So overall, I’m glad that I watched it. The hatter was fun and so were the White Queen and all the little animals. It felt less frustrating than the original story, but I didn’t love it.

Rated: PG (Dragon fights, intense themes)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00K7IPFSM/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00K7IPFSM&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=FM2RQA76N5RJLL7I

X-men: Days of Future Past

I’m not a big comic book fan. I enjoyed Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy a lot, but most of the rest of them seem to lack heart. I just never really connect with the characters. Their struggles never seem real. I did love the first X-men movie where I did connect with Rouge and Wolverine as the outcasts in this world welcomed into Xavier’s school. But, I haven’t kept up with the franchise. Recently, I watched Days of Future Past. Surprise! I was on the edge of my seat! I think most of this is due to the acting chops of James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, and Jennifer Lawrence. They bring the heart and soul to the story. I was also pleasantly surprised by the plot twist brought by Magneto. I kept thinking everything was going just too smoothly for Wolverine. Well played. I don’t think I’ll buy this movie, but I’ll borrow it again from my sister. Also, for any of you comic book geeks, based on how this movie ends does Wolverine not have titanium on his skeleton now?

Rated PG-13 (Mystique has blue skin, not clothes. Brief Nudity, action, violence, some Mutants get torn apart, adult themes.)

Merry Christmas!

I’ll let everyone know what movies and books grace my stocking this year!