Remembering Leonard Nimoy – Eulogy

•March 3, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Rabbi John Rosove's Blog

(What follows is a portion of my eulogy at Leonard’s funeral on Sunday morning, March 1. He was married to my dear first cousin, Susan)

Leonard shared with me after he and Susan married 26 years ago that he had never met a woman like her, never had he loved anyone so dearly and passionately, that she’d saved his life and lifted him from darkness and unhappiness in ways he never thought possible. His love, appreciation, respect, and gratitude for her transformed him and enabled him to begin his life anew.

Susan – you were a stellar, loving and brilliant life-partner for your Leib. He knew it and in loving you he learned how to love his own children and grandchildren more deeply, and he came to recognize that his family was his greatest treasure and gift.

At the moment Leonard’s soul left him on Friday morning, his family had…

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•August 22, 2014 • Leave a Comment

After watching this video from an adult fanfic reader critiquing the mainstream porn industry, I initially posted this response to Facebook, but on later reflection, I decided that this blog may be a more appropriate venue in which to vent. Of course, the link will be shared to Facebook, so I’m not really sure what difference it makes, but it is what it is.

So, at first viewing, I was all “YEAH!” and “PREACH ON, SISTER!” I can totally understand preferring to read about characters you feel you have some kind if intimate connection to, people you care about to want to know what they do next and why. And it’s no joke that the porn industry has given us all kinds of unrealistic ideas about sex.

But then a couple of things occurred to me.

First, she’s talking about Harry Potter. Harry. Freaking. Potter. They’re teenagers. Okay, maybe some people are reading about older characters like Snape and Dumbledore or whatever…but how many aren’t? I can’t help but point out that conventional porn involving adolescents is illegal in this country. How does taking erotica featuring adolescents and putting it on legitimize it? I guess it’s okay to fantasize about teenagers if you *are* a teenager…but I’m betting that quite a few people who read and write NC-17 Harry Potter fic are over 18. For one thing, NC-17 by its definition means you’re not supposed to be viewing it unless you are an adult. So…ew. Better to stick with reading and writing about consenting adults.

But that brings me to my second point: even stuff about consenting adults is problematic. Let’s talk about that 50 Shades of Grey mess that started out a Twilight fanfic. I never read the original. I’ve never read the Twilight books or seen the films. I know that the Twilight source material is meant to be young adult, but I don’t know how old the characters are. By the time they’re reinvented – er, renamed – for 50 Shades, everyone involved is over 18. So, okay.

Except….what this thing passes off as a BDSM relationship is actually an abusive relationship. (Read here for just one sampling of what’s wrong with this mess: And though I never read the original fanfic travesty that gave birth to this thing, I can tell you that the amateurish handling of the sex in that book wasn’t changed from the original, because entirely too much adult fanfic reads that same way. What you have there is the product of fantasy and an author trying too hard to make it “hot,” not the product of experience or research. How can I tell? Because even the BDSM community calls b.s. on this book. (Read this for more about that: So again, fanfic fails to deliver on that “more realistic than mainstream porn” thing, to the point of perpetuating misconceptions and being dangerous.

Furthermore, I was at the movies last weekend and I saw a preview for the film adaptation of 50 Shades. The release date? VALENTINE’S DAY. So now abuse can be even MORE romantic. How ’bout that????

Not all fanfic out there is like that. As with all things, some of it is better than others, and “better” is often in the eye of the beholder. The vast majority of it isn’t even erotica. And among the NC-17 stuff, some of it is well-written and demonstrates what, by modern standards, is a healthy sexual attitude among consenting adults.

So while I agree with the critique of mainstream porn, I’m not sure that Harry Potter was the best example to use while making that argument. A lot of the erotica in fanfic is the way it is *because* of mainstream porn – sex is personal and it’s still hard to talk about in a lot of ways for a lot of people, so porn often becomes the default barometer for how sex works. Much of what this young lady has been reading was probably inspired by that which she is criticizing.

(Video is NSFW.)

LITR 490 — Anyone Else Keeping their Blogs?

•April 23, 2013 • 6 Comments

Just a question that I probably should have asked before, but is anyone else from this class keeping their blogs? Mine existed before the class so I’ll definitely be keeping it; I just thought it might be a good way to keep in touch for those who aren’t on Facebook, etc.

The Party’s Almost Over

•April 18, 2013 • 2 Comments

Turned in my final portfolio in senior seminar today. What does that mean to you? Well…no more reading my homework on my blog, for one thing!

The project was a learning experience, and not just in terms of the research I did. I had an Alfred Hitchcock moment with it on Monday. By that, I don’t mean that I was a master of suspense. Rather, I’m referring to Hitchcock’s propensity to just throw a scene or even an entire project away when it’s clearly not working. After all, why waste precious time and other resources on something that’s just not going to be any good no matter what you do?

So I did it to my own project. It was a multi-genre project, and it ended up looking nothing like the proposal I’d written. I did the formal paper part about participatory fandom. For the second genre, I was going to do a small fanzine, and for the third, I was going to do a photo essay of sorts if I had time.

Nothing came together the way I hoped or planned. So I was faced with a deadline an the prospect of turning in something I wasn’t happy with. I couldn’t do it. So I was up until 3:00 this morning creating something completely different — something I’m much happier with. I feel it does a much better job of what I intended to do — demystifying participatory fandom — than a fanzine would any way. And I should have known that even the smallest zine couldn’t be done in a month or so, at least not one that lives up to my standards.

So, I’ve learned to let go (to a point) and be okay with it.

The Defining Science Fiction Books of the 1970s

•April 13, 2013 • Leave a Comment


Auxiliary Memory

We've added a new feature that allows you to create your own lists from our database of recognized novels and short stories. You can set your own date ranges. Change the citation numbers to focus on more popular titles.

What started as a review of American Science Fiction: The Nine Classic Novels of the 1950s, has put me on a quest to organize my memories of the great science fiction books, decade by decade, and year by year.  Back in the mid-90s I created The Classics of Science Fiction website.  Then I wrote The Greatest Science Fiction Novels of the 20th Century about the science fiction books that people who don’t read science fiction might know.  I’m preoccupied with how people remember science fiction, well at least the literary form.  Recently I wrote The Defining Science Fiction Books of the 1960s which is getting…

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What Do We Call It?

•April 9, 2013 • 1 Comment

Senior Seminar is winding down, and now we’re on to the assignment in which we read non-Western literature. The work we agreed on, Persepolis, is a graphic novel…although yesterday, we struggled with the fact that this is not an accurate category for the simple fact that the book is autobiographical. Is it a memoir? Is it a novel for the simple fact that it can’t all be true and the people and events have gone through the filter of the author’s own perception.

Through the discussion, I mentioned that graphic texts work like storyboards for me, so I am inclined to think of this text in terms of film and not literature. If Persepolis was a film, I thought to myself, I’d know exactly what to call it. I immediately thought of documentary film, because even in that genre, we still struggle with the question of, “What is ‘Truth’?” As I mentioned in previous posts, the closest to “truth” a filmmaker can get is to set up a camera and just let it start rolling, let whatever transpires unfold in front of it without interference. However, even that goes through the filter of the filmmaker’s perception. Someone has to decide where to set up the camera. Someone has to decide what direction to point the camera. Someone has to set up the shot. These are all decisions made for the viewer, but we still accept it as truth enough to be considered “documentary.” Furthermore, documentaries come in all sorts of flavors — advocacy, propaganda, educational, cinema verite, etc. Some of these even allow for reenactments to be played out by actors, and yet we don’t not consider them to be documentaries. In documentary, we accept that the story is sometimes going to be told through a specific lens, that one point of view can be privileged over another. It doesn’t make it “wrong,” it just means that it’s one way of looking at the subject.

Another way we could make a film about someone’s life is to produce a biopic. In comparison to a documentary, we accept that there will be a certain manipulation of the “truth” in a biopic for the sake of dramatic/narrative value. Take Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, for example. The film gets much of Wood’s life right, but there are obvious exaggerations and embellishments. For example, I haven’t found any evidence that Bela Lugosi used to swear a lot…but Martin Landau’s portrayal of him in Burton’s film sure was funny when he dropped all those f-bombs. That this film about Wood’s life was made after the fact is not what separates a biopic from a documentary; rather, it’s because of all the creative and dramatic license that was taken with it for the sake of telling a good story. This does not make it a complete work of fiction, just a fictionalized account of someone’s life story.

Some biographies, on the other hand, are actual documentaries. Most of the biographies you see on the Biography Channel, for example, would count as documentaries — interviews, photos, and other “evidence” from those who were actually involved contribute to the telling of the person’s story.

Persepolis, in fact, has been made into a film, so I turned to its page to see if that provided any clarity. It’s categorized under “animation,” “biography,” and “drama.” It wasn’t as helpful as I thought it would be. I have not seen the film, but I get a distinct “biopic” feeling from the site because the words were “animation” and “drama” were used.

Where has this left me? It’s left me a lot less certain of how I’d categorize a film adaptation of this book. I was ready to accept Persepolis as a literary documentary because we are getting the story from the source. Does the fact that it’s drawn make it less credible? Not to me…but perhaps it does to IMDB? Or has the story been embellished enough by its author that it now crosses over into “literary biopic” status, despite the fact that it’s the author’s own story she’s embellishing.

I doubt I’ll be any closer to these answers when I’ve finished the book.

Resume hell.

•April 6, 2013 • 3 Comments

Much like the other discussions we’ve been having about our futures, the preparation of my resume has sent me oscillating between a clear sense of direction and tears.Dr. Tange suggested a skills-based resume because I have 25 years of experience in the work force, just very little of it directly relevant to teaching. It sounds good — after all, I’ve got some “mad skillz” — but somehow, when I see it all distilled down to a single sheet of paper, I feel woefully inadequate.

Am I alone here? I would like to know what some of my classmates think. Heck, I’d like to hear what anyone who’s been in this situation thinks.

The Defining Science Fiction Books of 1950s

•April 6, 2013 • 2 Comments

Awesome post for any sci-fi lover to read!

Auxiliary Memory

We've added a new feature that allows you to create your own lists from our database of recognized novels and short stories. You can set your own date ranges. Change the citation numbers to focus on more popular titles.

In 1963, when I was 12, science fiction began imprinting on my brain, so that science fiction from the 1950s is how I define the genre.  All science fiction novels I’ve read in the succeeding fifty years are measured against those stories I  first discovered in my early teens.  That’s why I so completely understand the statement, “the Golden Age of Science Fiction is 12.”  Younger generations of science fiction fans have since imprinted on science fiction via television shows like Star Trek, or movies like Star Wars, and even later forms of the genre that I don’t even understand like comics and video…

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Get a Job

•April 4, 2013 • Leave a Comment

In Senior Seminar, we’ve been devoting more time to the big question of “What do I do next?”

Despite some jitters, I think my plan is still solid. I am trying to make myself valuable to two departments (English and Communications, Media, and Theater Arts) with the ultimate goal of teaching writing in the Electronic Media and Film Studies discipline. I will take media studies electives as I pursue my written communication degree. At some point, I really need to address that question of the PhD. Everyone keeps telling me that I have time, that I don’t have to answer that question now. It’s hard to leave it at that for now, though. I finally have concrete goals in terms of what I want to do for the rest of my life. I almost can’t not try to answer that question now.

I thought this decision-making thing was supposed to get easier.

Decisions, Decisions

•April 1, 2013 • 1 Comment

It’s about that time of the semester: in Senior Seminar, we’re talking about the fact we’re about to graduate, grad school, and PhDs. We also discussed the joys of being an adjunct and making no money, and we asked our professor questions about what we can expect in terms of looking for a job, what it’s like to be faculty, etc.

One of my big questions is the to PhD or not to PhD question. I have one friend/mentor/colleague telling me that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, that jobs are scarce, and so forth. However, I ran into a former professor last week, Dr. Aldridge, who was one of my instructors 20 years ago at my first (and less than stellar) attempt at college. I have found that I respect his opinion quite a bit because he and I had a long talk last November about where I was 20 years ago versus where I am now. He didn’t remember me from before — not surprising, because I was almost never in class and pretty unremarkable and unmotivated. Instead of finding me a disappointment before, he seems absolutely pleased that I’ve come back, turned things around, and found what I love.

Though I haven’t been in any of Dr. Aldridge’s classes since then, it’s kind of become important to me to make him proud of me. I told him about recently accepting a GAship in the English department, and I found out that he and I have that in common — he was a literature major as well as a media studies major. He got his Masters in literature, then a PhD in media studies — a very similar path to the one I’ve been contemplating. I told Dr. Aldridge this, as well as what my colleague said about not being able to get a job even though he had a PhD.

What Dr. Aldridge said sounded so simple and right at the time: “But you can’t get a job without one.” It made so much sense…

…until I came to class and all the scary adjunct talk started. I mean, I don’t suffer from any delusions that I don’t need to pay my dues and start at the bottom or anything. I’m prepared for that. What I’m afraid of is being stuck there. I’m in my early 40s. It’s not like I have a lot of time.

The discussion is set to continue today, so expect another post on this very topic.


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