If you’re going to GeekGirlCon this year, you can find me moderating Crowdfunding Without Losing Your Mind on Saturday, October 19th, in LL2 from 6:00-6:50 p.m. I’ll be joined by Julie Haehn, Nicole Lindroos, and Shanna Germain. If you’re interested in using IndieGoGo, Kickstarter or GoFundMe to get a creative project off the ground, we’ll be there sharing our experiences from our own crowd funding campaigns.
I recently watched the 2012 Sam Raimi movie The Possession. The basic plot is that a young girl comes into ownership of a curious carved box via a yardsale, and is quickly besieged by a terrible spirit unleashed from the box, which is bent on her destruction. Why’d I force myself to watch the movie? Because years ago, I tried to bid on a strange box on eBay. While my boyfriend at the time began to argue against doing this, our power went out. I don’t ascribe anything supernatural to that (we lived in a house with terrible wiring) but it did make the box stick in my mind. Great story to get a free drink, but I had no idea what had happened to the box once the auction ended.
Fast forward. In 2011, Truman State University Press publishes a book by a man named Jason Haxton, called The Dibbuk Box. A museum curator, Haxton is the newest owner of the strange box: the dybbuk box. In the book’s opener he tells the reader it’s up to them to decide if they feel the events surrounding the box are true, or fake, or some mixture in between. Haxton isn’t a writer by trade, so the book was rough going at times.
But he does his best to chronicle life with a strange, purportedly Jewish artifact in his house. It’s an outsider’s tale of dealing with an insider’s problem, an artifact created by a people he doesn’t belong to, but one he must learn to deal with. Though the film, based loosely on his books, plays merry Hell with the details and circumstances in the book, that basic theme is retained. There are, however, events and details that remain identifiable as being from the book, which are a nice nod to the movie’s source material.
- The stroke suffered by a woman who comes into contact with the box triggers one of the sales of the box, putting it into a new owner’s hands.
- Health problems plague people surrounding the box, particularly the victim of its malevolent attentions.
- The father in The Possession takes on Haxton’s role as researcher, trying desperately to learn how to keep the box and the entity it contains in check.
- The box has a Hebrew inscription. In the movie it’s a warning about the dybbuk within, and a caution to not open the box. In real life, the inscription is the opening words of the Sh’ma. There are deliberate changes in the spelling and rendering of Adonai and Eloheinu, which take the box from something that would require a great deal of care and respect due to the holiness of the words carved into it, to a less holy object. This is important, because that ‘loophole’ could be used as an ‘out’ for anyone who had to destroy or bury the box. Had the names of G-d been spelled correctly, such an artifact would be far more difficult to dispose of in a holy and respectful manner.
- The box’s purpose is to contain something far more frightening and powerful than any human being should attempt to trifle with.
- The box used during filming is a replica of the box currently in Haxton’s possession.
At the climax of the film, Hannah, the daughter possessed by the spirit within the box, undergoes an exorcism at the hands of an Orthodox Jew willing to help the family, named Tzadok. The name pops up in the Tanakh, and it springs from its root, Tzedek, which you can express in English as justice. That root underpins some interesting concepts within other words, like tzedakah and the Tzadikim.
I think the movie was less scary for me as a Jew because it’s set so firmly in an outsider worldview. Visually I found it a bit similiar to Unborn, and The Ring; very bleached out colours, tight scene shooting, an almost claustrophobic sense of being confined in a small space with the plot and no escape of the characters or viewer. Unlike The Unborn, this is not a Jewish film disguised as a horror movie.
The Unborn, which also revolves around a young women who is possessed, did scare me some. But that was primarily because of its insider themes surrounding faith and the dangers that can come for us when our faith is gone. The Possession was ridiculously weak in scares for me, but that helped make it more of an eye rolling, palatable slog than an untenable chore to watch.
I only have three conventions left in 2013.
- Big Bad Con: Oakland, CA (Attending)
- GeekGirlCon, Seattle, WA (Panelist)
October 31st-November 3rd
- Metatopia: Morristown, NJ (Industry Guest)
I’ll be doing interviews for the Makers, Schemers and Dreamers oral history archive during Metatopia around panels, and I’m seeing what I can do about making time available to take interviews for the archive during my time in Oakland. I’m also looking into the possibility of scrounging recording space to facilitate interviews with women in games who are in Seattle from out of town during GeekGirlCon. If you’re interested in being interviewed during any of those conventions, get in touch via my contact form, and I’ll see what I can do about getting you set up with a time slot. If you’re attending any of those cons, I look forward to meeting you!
This is a great Kickstarter of fiction from local (Seattle) small press Broken Eye Books. It’s closing in on its final day to fund, and some amazing books will hit publication if it does.
- Crooked, by Richard Pett
- A second printing for The Hole Behind Midnight (and an audiobook!), by Clinton Boomer
- By Faerie Light, an anthology that includes fiction from Jennifer Brozek, James L. Sutter, Elaine Cunningham, Erin Hoffman, Shanna Germain, Cat Rambo, Jeffrey Scott Petersen, Christie Yant, Lillian Cohen-Moore, Torah Cottrill, Erik Scott de Bie, Andrew Romine, Ed Greenwood, Amber E. Scott, Jaym Gates, Nathan Crowder, Julia Ellingboe, Minerva Zimmerman, and Dave Gross.
- Soapscum Unlimited, by Clinton Boomer
- Questions, by Clinton Boomer and Stephen Norton
These books cover Victorian horror, wicked faerie tales, cyberpunk, mysteries, superhero noir, and a whole lot of weird in between. Check it out if you like some creepy fun with your early mornings (or late nights).
2013 was my third PAX. And it’s going to be my last, unless things drastically change for the better.
I’ve given PAX multiple chances to stop being an unwelcoming and hostile space to women. I’ve volunteered at PAX, and spent countless hours offline and online discussing how to make the space welcome the actual diverse array of gamers and fans present in the real world. But I cannot in good conscience go to PAX any longer. The visible leadership of PAX doesn’t want to change the status quo, and refuses to learn the decency and empathy required to help PAX change.
The “change from within” movement I’ve encountered from multiple attendees is admirable. But the battle they’re fighting is and will be long, uphill, and slow. PAX is home to a great deal of institutionalized sexism, much like our shared and overarching culture. And I am tired of fighting that battle at PAX, because I don’t think that battle will ever triumph there.
PAX will never change unless it unseats its leadership, or its leadership changes at the very top. And changes does not mean “stops saying horrible things.” It means that the leadership has to listen and change in response to what people say to them.
Am I hurt and angry that people will continue to give money, energy and airtime to PAX?
Because so many people ‘know better.’ They’re voices for social change and often staunch supporters of women and minorities of all kinds in other spaces and their daily lives. But when it comes to PAX, they fall down on the job. When you support social change, you have one job: to resist the status quo that oppresses and attacks so many people. Making an exception for PAX is sending a message that you will only go so far for change, that you will only care so much about those who are oppressed and demeaned among you. That your fun or career trajectory will come at a cost to others that reinforces the cycles of oppression.
My energy, time, money and airtime will go to other cons. It will be invested in other spaces. My struggle to fight institutionalized sexism and prejudice will continue, within larger culture and the multitudes of co-cultures contained within it. But all of what I am or could ever offer will no longer go to PAX. I will no longer be a part of a space where I have been viciously sexually harassed, challenged to prove my “geek cred.” I will not give more of myself to a space that shouts women down, online and offline, when we have asked to be treated with basic decency and respect in PAX space.
It is time for me to stop being part of the problem.
It is time I stop falling down on the job.