Category Archives: literature

Rowling’s Wizarding World: Just As Small As Ours, Unfortunately

I like the Harry Potter books. I just can’t say I love them [my favourite YA series of novels is Percy Jackson & the Olympians], and after having finished all seven and catching the last few movies in theatres haven’t thought about them much. Certainly not enough to give the Pottermore website, created by Rowling to give HP fans what they continue to jones for, even a cursory visit.

On that same note I haven’t really been following Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a prequel and spin-off to the film franchise, aside from perking up at the idea that protagonist Newt Scamander might be something other than White. I briefly mentioned it back in 2013 when covering the inherent problem with assuming that White is the norm, but ultimately stopped paying attention after it was officially announced last June that Eddie Redmayne had been cast in the role.

That said, fantasy worlds and the worldbuilding involved in their creation have always interested me, and I didn’t hesitate to click on a link a friend had shared on Facebook stating that Rowling had “[revealed] four wizarding schools, including one in the United States“, with the latter being one of the settings in the upcoming film. After all, if one of the aforementioned magical places of learning was to be in North America chances were that the other three were located elsewhere. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire had always been my favourite of the series, with one of the many reasons being that it featured the two other wizarding schools and characters from them, expanding the universe beyond the borders of Great Britain. Continue reading

The 2015 Evan Yeong Literary Awards

You can read a better introduction at the beginning of last year’s awards, but I can quickly fill in for any new readers out there that I began reading at a fairly young age and continued on to study literature in college. That being said reading and literature have been a part of my life for about as far back as I can remember.

evanyeongliteraryawards2015

This second installment of the Evan Yeong Literary Awards seeks to once again call attention to the artistic medium that I love most, taking note of the books I read in the past year and [at least this time around, solely] praising the standouts. A lot of pages were put away in 2015, and it was actually a challenge this year to keep the number of winners to just under a dozen.

In 2015 I once again resolved to read 52 books and this time met my goal; sweet success. You can check out a full list [with the exact dates of when I read each one] at this link.


anansiboys

book that most helps “the cause/mission”

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
Published 2005

The former as used by the hosts of the podcast Black Men Can’t Jump and the latter being the name of Joseph Philip Illidge’s column on Comic Book Resources, both terms are ultimately defined as work that progresses diversity. To that effect, White British author Gaiman is one of its truest champions, crafting a fantastical novel that lets its characters fall under the default race of reader’s assumptions only to have that torn away, much to even [or especially] my chagrin, in later pages. Fantasy as a genre is not often populated by men and women of colour, at least in Western fiction, and to have this novel exist, as well as be supported by such an unshakable talent, is a wonderful thing.

catcherintherye

novel that doesn’t, and then does, live up to the hype

The Catcher in the Rye in J. D. Salinger
Published in 1951

The only thing I knew about this [in]famous work of fiction prior to reading it is that the murderer of one of The Beatles was obsessed with it and that it has been a frequently banned book, so I was not at all expecting the tale of a teenager who just wanted to drink some drinks and go on some dates and figure out what adolescence is really about. On that same note, I also didn’t think I would be exposed to some of the most raw and honest writing about what it’s like to be a dumb, lost kid. I still don’t fully understand what all the hubbub was about, but I also see why so many dating profiles have it featured as their favourite book.  Continue reading

The Wolves that Live in Skin and Space: A Book Review

wolvesthatliveThe Wolves that Live in Skin and Space is Christopher Zeischegg’s, better known as adult performer Danny Wylde, second novel. It’s also a deeply personal one that he described as “an autobiography horror hybrid” in an interview I conducted with him last month.

Given the first person point of view used throughout and the idea that the events taking place were based on, or were actually, “things that were happening in [his] life at the time” it became impossible for this reader and reviewer not to make his way through the book without mentally hearing the words in Zeischegg’s voice. Upon finishing the final, chilling page I was forced to ask myself the question: Does this novel only succeed given a reader’s connection with Chris himself?

While knowing the author, either as a performer or otherwise, may add another dimension to reading it I ultimately decided that it wasn’t necessary, and may even be unadvised as far as fully experiencing The Wolves that Live in Skin and Space is concerned.
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Christopher Zeischegg [aka Danny Wylde] on Art, Horror, Racism, and, of course, Porn

wyldefisherEarlier this month LA-based artist Luka Fisher reached out to me through the site’s email, calling my attention to an art project that may be the first of its kind. Christopher Zeischegg, more commonly known online as porn star Danny Wylde “On The Moral Imperative To Commodify Sexual Suffering“. Accompanying the short story was a silkscreen print created by Fisher, which was in turn featured in a high-concept art commercial directed by Matthew Kaundart. Through this correspondence I was given the wonderful opportunity to discuss the story with Zeischegg, as well as pick his brain on a number of other topics.

Before proceeding onto the interview I would strongly encourage you to read his story, or at least watch the video, which I’ve embedded below. I would also like to warn you that both are decidedly not safe for work before proceeding.


So before we really get into things, Luka Fisher, the artist who emailed me and who collaborated with you on the release of your short story, described you as a “BuzzFeed sensation”. Would you say you live up to that title?

[laughs] Well, I would say I don’t live up to that title. I mean, Luka is a friend of mine and he’s an artist producer in LA. I think more than anything he was just trying to get press and attention for this thing we did; trying to get keywords. As far as being a “Buzzfeed sensation”, I’ve been in a few videos about porn stars, et cetera.

I didn’t participate in that press release. I would not call myself one.

I also noticed that in their [Buzzfeed’s] feature they describe you as a “porn star”, whereas most places I could find state that you’re no longer an active part of the industry. I was wondering if you could clear that up for both me and my readers.

I retired actually about two years ago from mainstream porn. Though I have been submitting videos to Make Love Not Porn. I also do some other sex work that I’m not going into for legality issues. I retired two years ago. But, y’know, stuff is out there forever on the internet, so people kind of associate that with you.

So the reason for this interview even existing is because of your short story, “On The Moral Imperative To Commodify Sexual Suffering” [which I’ve asked my readers to check out first], which of course presented alongside a piece of static visual art-

Some Such _Fisher1

-as well as a short film. On top of all that you’re also one half of a Chiildren, a metal band, so I think it probably goes without saying that you’re by most definitions an artist-

Yeah, I guess so, I would agree to that.

before we really dive into the story I thought it would be cool to hear your thoughts on pornography as art.

Well, in general I don’t think it is. I can say that there are some examples of people who are doing art within porn, and I guess one of them is even my current employer, or one of them, James Deen. I work for him a lot in production and last year we did some higher end art films [7 Sins, we made a porn version but there’s also a cut-down version going around].

But my interest in porn did not really participate in art, especially in the beginning. It was just something to get through school. And then continued doing that for some years after. Because it pays better in retail, you know what I mean.

I don’t think typically it is, though. It’s just entertainment to jerk off to. That’s what most porn is. I don’t have anything more to say about it. We’re not doing anything important with it, there’s no real higher cause. We’re just making stuff so people can jerk off to it.

Which I guess you could call art. It’s a nuanced conversation. It’s entertainment. Continue reading

Am I Disablist? 2 Surprising Ways We Still Oppress Disabled People or: How A.J. Withers Changed the Way I Think About Disability

A little while ago, I was chatting with Evan when I made some offhand comment about something being “crazy” or “lame”. Honestly, I can’t remember what the comment was about. I do remember Evan mentioned that he was making a conscious effort to avoid language that helped embed our negative cultural attitude towards disability and mental illness.

At the time I was somewhat dismissive of his comment. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly do believe that our words matter.

But in that moment, I just filled away his comment without much thought.

I wonder if the reason I was so dismissive is because of the social invisibility of disability. Don’t get me wrong, I know that disabilities are very visible-

-but we tend to ignore the voices of disabled people, unless they have a particularly tragic and/or inspirational story to share. We don’t want to hear about the ways our society continues to be stacked against disabled people. And we certainly don’t want to hear that we need to change. Continue reading

Is It Time To Stop Reading Shakespeare?

I never really liked Shakespeare.

Never hated the guy, mind you- downright enjoyed a few of his plays (The Tempest, Coriolanus, Hamlet). Still, I never really could bring myself to relish the bard’s works with the same zealous enthusiasm of the drama geeks and English majors.

With that in mind, you might spare me perhaps a little of the horrified gasping when I ask:

Is it time to stop reading Shakespeare?

And I ask that with all sincerity. I’ve made no secret about my general dislike of the theater and the culture surrounding it, but I’m not here to talk about those guys.

You know the type. Melodramatic airheads who’ll actually only refer to this as “the Scottish play”…

I’m talking about the actual works of William Shakespeare here.

Why still read ’em?

After all, with every passing year, we drift further and further away from those stories. In spite the film industry churning out one or two adaptations or modernizations of Shakespeare’s plays, there’s only so many ways to re-imagine Romeo and Juliet.

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Re: #DontStayInSchool: In Defense of the System

A few weeks ago my brother sent me the following video and asked if I could write about it on the blog. He challenged me to defend academia and promised that he would respond by commenting on why this video resonated so deeply with him. So, although I agree with many of the comments Dave from Boyinaband makes in his video, I’m going to offer you several reasons why our education system can be, and has often been, a good thing.


1. Our education system was designed to promote equality

In his video on the history of education, Salman Kahn explains how our contemporary education system was shaped by ideologies that valued class equality. According to Kahn, the Prussian education system, despite its faults, insisted on providing public education for all citizens. Meanwhile, even the “Committee of Ten”,  the group of educators who originally introduced standardized curriculum, were motivated by their belief that economic status should not prevent students from having access to “higher order” skills. Standardization of curriculum meant that every student would (ideally) have access to the kind of information that was once restricted to the elite.

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