Andrea Tang

Storytelling with genre-bending inclinations & international flavor.

2017: Year of Baby’s First Eligibility Post!

2017 marks both the year of my first ever professional short fiction sales to SF/F markets AND the year I signed with my agent, the inimitable Thao Le of the Sandra Dijikstra Literary Agency! It’s been a wild, humbling, incredible ride, and at some point, I’d like to sit down and write a proper blog post about the zany querying adventures that led me to a near-two-hour (!!!) Skype chat with Thao one night on the outskirts of Paris, and eventually, to her representation.

Alas, that is a tale for another day! Right now, I am – in that great rite of passage for all hapless baby writers who dip their toes into the world of short form SF/F – going to catalogue the stories I’ve had published in the past year, which comes out to a total of lucky number seven: one novelette, and six short stories (including one flash piece). This is – by virtue of my baby-ness – also my first year of eligibility for the John W. Campbell Award, which is really exciting in its own right!

Links where available – which is almost always! – are included below, along with brief descriptions of each piece, but I’m also happy to provide PDF copies of these stories upon request to anyone who wants to read for awards season. :-)  Without further ado, for your generous consideration:

 

Novelette

“Hungry Demigods” (12,700 words), GigaNotoSaurus. Available online here.

Franco-Chinese-Canadian urban fantasy set in Montreal: in which a code-switching, beignet-baking, cha siu bao-loving kitchen witch sets out to solve the mystery behind a Chinese curse on an English boy in Quebec. Probably my very favorite – and most personal – thing I saw published this year!

 

Short Stories

“Cassandra Writes Out of Order” (3,100 words), PodCastle. Available online here.

DC-flavored magical realism with a side of spy story. Some feds in Washington hire a liberal arts-educated, debt-ridden, twenty-something poet-prophet to predict the future of the world. This goes about as well as you’d expect. Sandra Espinoza (voice of America Chavez on Avengers Academy!) does a really fabulous job on the audio narration here.

 

“The Man in the Crimson Coat” (5,000 words), Apex Magazine. Available online here.

Neo-noir / cyberpunk: in which an ex-vigilante and a pianist walk into a bar, and a great deal of political and personal chaos ensues. Lori Henry (of Black Tapes fame!) performs a podcast narration – produced by the amazing KT Bryski – that’s particularly worth a listen!

 

“The Moons of Zaaros” (4,800 words), The Sockdolager. Available online here.

Queer girls coming of age and figuring out gender politics during a massive anti-colonial space war! If I could point to one story of mine that I wish got a bit more attention, this would probably be it, as I’m terribly fond of these two heroines, emotionally constipated goobers that they are. Technically part of The Sockdolager’s Winter 2016 special issue, “Women of War,” but initially published in January 2017, which I believe makes this little guy eligible for 2017 consideration (though someone savvier than I should correct me if I’m mistaken about this)!

 

“To Smoke, From Words” (2,600 words), Secrets of the Goat People Vol. 2: Resistance.

A grouchy Korean refugee and classically-educated member of the Chinese bourgeois try making it among the May Fourth Movement’s new breed of literati. Began life as a super old scribbling of mine that I specifically revised & rebooted for Women Write About Comics’ submissions call.

Caveat: honestly, this one’s more straight historical fiction than anything else – though historical fiction that takes great liberties with twentieth century Asia! The actual speculative elements are extremely light, but exist if you squint, mostly in the form of vague strokes of alternate history and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it magical realism. No online version available for this one, I’m afraid, but can provide a PDF to interested parties.

 

“Pro Patria Mori” (900 words), New Myths. Available online here.

A short, wry, fantastical tale of reincarnation blues in wake of history’s myriad wars. My freshman foray into flash fiction.

 

“The Family Business” (5,000 words), Triptych Tales. Available online here.

A very silly contemporary meet-cute fantasy about a surly gay Korean-American boy packed off to the coast of Busan for the summer, who finds a bit more than he bargained for on the island where his eccentric uncle lives. A nostalgic nod to my Fulbright grant days in South Korea, and one of my earliest stabs at SF/F shorts as a form!

On Day Jobs, Double Lives, & the Greatest Unrequited Love of my Childhood

Let us begin with two confessions:

One. A writer – and a rather fanciful genre writer, at that – is all I have really, truly, in the most mortifying, hopeful recesses of my heart, wanted to be. Growing up, I found less embarrassing ways of saying this: oh, I wanted to be a lawyer, or a journalist, or a professor, someone who worked with words in sensible, sustainable ways, and then perhaps in my spare time I’d make up fairytales for kids, or something.

Which leads neatly to confession number two: I don't remember any point in my life where I envisioned penning novels or plays or poetry without a day job. Given the constant anxiety around publishing, probably not a bad way to be!

 

I suspect my sensible physicist father had some hand in this. My arty fashion designer mom (that is, my bio mom, before my dad remarried) passed away young, so my dad was, by default, the primary adult influence in my formative years. This is not to say that my dad didn’t or doesn’t value the arts and humanities, but I got the early impression that my love of literature and history was like a garnish: useful for presentational purposes, but mostly there to enhance real intellectual substance, which was to be found in STEM fields. I took it into my head that “day job” meant I’d be a scientist like the majority of interesting, respectable adults I knew, which sounded great to me, since at that age, science still meant building dioramas of biomes and drawing comics about asteroids, and I was still pretty omnivorously a nerd for all seasons. I wasn’t so hot with numbers, but algebra was boring, not incomprehensible, and besides, I figured my enthusiasm for the comics could compensate.

I'll be real with y’all: my childhood was pretty cool, for a card-carrying nerd's definition of cool. Growing up as a scientist's kid in Princeton, that cradle of academia, meant I spent a lot of time in and out of my dad's lab, in the company of my dad's science bro friends, who would patiently humor my questions on everything from Steven Spielberg movies to neutron stars and binary pulsars, but would also later turn out to be celebrated string theorists or Nobel laureates or a dude who lived in Albert Einstein's old house, where I also definitely had a slumber party with my friends once. It was pretty rad. I could totally be a scientist of some sort when I grew up, I thought, and live in Einstein's house, and write really badass science fiction!

 

But then high school happened. Oh man, high school. I had the tremendous luxury of attending a local fancy boarding school as a day student, where I met a bunch of other clever, ambitious kids, some of whom probably really will win Nobel prizes for cool scientific accomplishments one day! Alas, I was not fated to join their number, because this high school full of crazy talented teenagers is also where I suddenly, tragically discovered my total lack of actual aptitude – or, if I'm honest with myself, sufficient sustained interest – for any of the STEM disciplines. This revelation was vaguely traumatizing to my wee teen self, in much the way I imagine young aspiring ballerinas are traumatized at discovering they have the wrong feet for classical dance.

I'd also, in the same window of years, lost one mother to cancer and gained a new one via my dad's second marriage, so despite a remarkable effort on the part of all three parents, my personal life wasn't exactly making great contributions to my mental health either. My family was in flux, my dreams were being slowly crushed beneath the heel of my quantitative incompetence, my dad kept making sad, bewildered faces at my lackluster problem sets, and everything was terrible! I could still write just fine, but what was mere word-slinging, given the looming horror of failing Honors Chem? Surely I was fit for nothing more than starving for bad poetry and perishing under a bridge somewhere!

Being surrounded by multidisciplinary high achievers was both a blessing and a curse, in this context. On one hand, having sixteen-year-old friends who can dance La Bayadère perfectly en pointe and make minor groundbreaking discoveries in biochem during independent study at Princeton University is great for providing you with a vibrant, stimulating social circle! It is, on the other hand, significantly less great for your adolescent self esteem. My childhood was basically an extended exercise in making peace with never, ever being the smartest person in the room. I became rather impressively zen to what I perceived as my relative uselessness.

 

But hey, I still wanted to write, and I still wanted not to starve under a bridge somewhere. Teen Me figured my dad, my mom, and my other mom's angry ghost would all be like, super pissed if I wasted all the money they'd thrown at my education by dying from pulpy writing and poor financial planning, like some Keats-ian wannabe. There was no help for it – I'd simply have to get over my unrequited longing for a passionate talent in STEM, trot off to a nice liberal arts college, and make do with what limited skill-set and interests I had. Surely, something sensible could be wrought from a head full of humanities!

Here, I actually struck gold. Growing up with a globetrotting family comprising a Chinese-American dad, a Taiwanese mom in early childhood, and a Korean mom in my teens – not to mention a coastal college town teeming with expats (and even a small but influential French consulate near my house!) – had bequeathed upon me (1) a passable knack for foreign languages, and (2) a deep-seated interest in cross-cultural communications. This paired quite conveniently with my literary inclination toward postcolonialism and diaspora narratives. When the summer between junior and senior years of undergrad rolled around, and my parents were like, "yo, you need a job," I wrangled myself a summer gig at the State Department, plus for good measure, a bunch of applications to graduate programs in international relations and area studies.

 

Now, here in my freshly grown-up twenties, I'm a geopolitical analyst, and proud to report that I have not yet starved under a bridge! Instead, I get paid to write a lot of pedantic translations and monographs and war gaming analysis. I also get paid – albeit much, much more modestly – to write a lot of fanciful fiction. Like most writers, my grown-up career is a bit of a balancing act. Shockingly, the adult world is generally more inclined to provide a steady paycheck and benefits for pedantic translations and monographs than for my made-up stories about robot dragons and space privateers, so I'm not throwing away that day job any time soon.

Would I, if I could? That's a complicated question. To my mind, the root of both good writing and good analysis stem from the same sort of inclination toward speculative thought – i.e. the skill you cultivate in plotting fictional worlds is not entirely unlike the one you use to extrapolate how real life global actors might think or move. A working knowledge of international affairs has almost certainly informed my overarching approach to making art, by the same token that writing for fun (and occasional profit) has probably, in some bizarre way, shaped my brain into a more bankable analytic mind. I'm sure other arty types with brainy day jobs (lawyers and journalists and yes, scientists all come immediately to mind!) have similar thoughts on how their work informs their storytelling, and vice versa.

 

But, in an effort to be more publicly emotionally honest, I'm not going to pretend the balancing act doesn't stretch me painfully thin sometimes. I'm penning a YA sci-fi query when I could be drafting an extra paper for a defense conference, or I'm staying late at the office to get through a tough translation when I could be getting a head start on short story edits. It's an exchange I'm mostly happy to make for the benefits I reap on both ends, but the fear of double-whammy failure is a constant, low key buzz in the back of my mind: striving to be enough for both ends of my double life, but never enough for either. This is especially legit when I’m simultaneously drowning in my day job’s research deadlines and weathering rejection after rejection on story submissions, which is unfortunately, an unavoidable reality of both gigs.

I brood from time to time over the first novel an agent ever signed me for, a YA action-adventure which died a brutal death in publishing acquisitions while I was clawing my way through my first grown-up Washington job at age twenty-three. I’d been too busy learning how to investigate global money laundering ops to grieve my book (hey, I never said it wasn’t an interesting and ironically plot-relevant job!). I've wondered aloud more than once, in drearier moments, if I irrevocably screwed up my life by spending too much time building up geopo wonk credentials, and not enough time focused on creative writing or MFA programs. Then, naturally, I second-guess myself wondering if an MFA would have tanked my relative financial stability (thus disappointing dad, mom, & ghost mom all over again!).

But then I third-guess myself, because frankly, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a thrill out of the sheer range of human experience that the international affairs community has allowed me, and what are writers, if not total sluts for experience? My entire adult life often feels like a weirdly adolescent exercise in either overcompensating for The One That Got Away: STEM, That Elusive Rogue, or proving that I can build an awesome, non-bridge-starving life for myself despite tragic math skills. Of course, that I'm a young woman of color navigating both (1) the defense/security industry, and (2) SF/F literature – neither of which are always super friendly to people who look like me! – does not make any of this easier, and could probably be its own essay.

 

That said, where I am right now is a product of immense privilege. I get to work a secure, interesting, well-compensated day job in the humanities because my field privileges the same expensive brand of education my family encouraged, and the convenience of respectability is super real. My greatest sources of angst are like, the ultimate in first world bookworm problems. Moreover, I have the remarkable fortune of friends who have, during difficult weeks, patiently endured such self-pitying bawling as "I AM A BAD WRITER WHO WRITES BAD ART AND BAD ANALYSIS" and "I have become a dog of the military-industrial complex for the sake of my own ambitions, and I AM NOT EVEN A VERY GOOD DOG." Possibly, I watched too much FMA as a kid, and therein lies my true fatal flaw.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this, except I suppose, to remind folks – most of all, to remind myself – that work and art and life are never precisely easy. Everyone’s got their own weird balancing act, and probably their own weird leftover adolescent hang-ups, and almost certainly their own weird hurts and fears and insecurities. None of that really goes away. But I do like to think that we grow more comfortable with our warts – physical and mental – as we age. Writing navel-gazing personal essays on the Internet about them is certainly one way to manage the process, but really, even this is just another way to reach out to some sort of communal human experience: to touch a hand, or three, and say, “hey buddy, I’ve got ‘em too.”

A loose schedule of some stories-in-waiting for the fall!

So, on the heels of my poet-prophets & secret agents story Cassandra Writes Out of Order, which dropped at this week's PodCastle episode (technically my second pro sale, but the first to go live, with the bonus of some truly spectacular narration by Sandra Espinoza, the voice behind America Chavez on Avengers Academy!), I got some lovely news from the fine folks over at the Devilfish Review that they've decided to pick up "Courtesans Tell Tales," my prequel / companion story to The Moons of Zaaros, a coming-of-age short originally published by The Sockdolager in their Women of War special, about doofy queer girls power politicking (& gender politicking) their way through ~WARS IN SPACE~. Also, adolescence & feelings, natch.

"Courtesans" technically stands alone – it's set significantly before the events of "Moons," features an entirely new cast of characters, and is also somewhat more adult in its subject matter – but it does set up the eventual political conflict that the young heroines of "Moons" grapple with. If I ever pen more stories in this universe, I feel like I should just name the whole collection "Variously Queer & Genderqueer People Power Politicking in Space." It can be an art house installation somewhere.

Autumn is apparently my particular publishing season for Loads & Loads of Stories, though, because in addition to "Courtesans," I've also got my pro debut, "The Man in the Crimson Coat" appearing in Issue #100 of Apex Magazine for September. "Crimson Coat" is my short fiction foray into cyberpunk & noir-style suspense stories, and will be available to your eyeballs inside the month!

Tentatively slated to appear in audio & text at Glittership in October is "Graveyard Girls on Paper Phoenix Wings," my spooky, frothy fantasy romance replete with misbehaving ladies of varying sorts, plus a Hot Fucky Bird Man. Next, coming up at GigaNotoSaurus for the month of November, is "Hungry Demigods," my utterly self-indulgent urban fantasy novelette about a grouchy Chinese kitchen witch in Montreal, full of multicultural food & multilingual swearing. 

Prose aside, autumn should also, by hook or by crook, see the release of "Dearest," a short noir comic co-authored with longtime friend and co-conspirator, Baltimore-based artist Margaret Huey, and possibly some snippets of music and audio drama. Stay tuned, and meanwhile, do feel free to check out my currently available selection of short fiction, conveniently portfolio'd over here. That's all for the moment – catch y'all next time! 

In Stirring Defense of Roy Thomas, A Most Excellent Occidental

I have become aware that recent remarks by creator of original-flavor Iron Fist, Roy Thomas, have given way to a most unfortunate hullaballoo. To so cruelly pillory this fine Occidental fellow is an injustice, for he is a credit to his race! Because Thomas is a humble creature (in keeping with the cultural expectations of his kind), he will not be so vain as to declare himself "the safeguard of some kind of Caucasian literary standard." However, one cannot deny that – bashful though he may be to assume such distinguished weight upon his shoulders – Roy Thomas speaks a voice for his people. After all, he chose to write the original Iron Fist as a descendent of the European peoples, because he "found [the Occidental experience] easier to write about."

This is only natural, as Occidentals face all sorts of adversity in the realm of literature. Why, Roy Thomas himself has decried our indifference to his people’s plight: "Don’t these people have something better to do than to worry about the fact that Iron Fist isn’t Oriental, or whatever word? I know Oriental isn’t the right word now, either."

Indeed, we must be ashamed of ourselves! As all enlightened individuals know, the Occidentals have historically faced much difficulty regarding the mastery of words. Indeed, they were mere illiterate savages for much of their recorded history. It was not until learned gentlemen of the Chinese and Islamic civilizations so benevolently bestowed their innovation upon these pitiable creatures in the eleventh century, that the Europeans even had paper to write upon!

As such, to lampoon poor Roy Thomas for being unable to produce the appropriate words to describe Asian people is an unkindness! After all, while an individual Occidental may prove himself exceptional for one of his unfortunate background, such a man is nonetheless beholden to the historical and cultural shortfalls of his people. His confusion over words is not his fault; one can only expect so much of an Occidental writer, even one who has so remarkably exceeded the standards set for his race.

Our "endless capacity for righteous indignation," as Roy Thomas calls it – and truly, one must marvel at how articulate his words are, for an Occidental’s! – is misguided. We should aim such indignation not at one unjustly-maligned Occidental writer, but at the inherent, violent strife within Occidental culture, which has so trapped their unfortunate descendants within the terrible shadow of ignorance and savagery. To turn a blind eye to their troubles is beneath our dignity. We may only hope that Roy Thomas shall continue lighting the way for his kind, a true pioneer and role model to all men of his hue.

Overcome by his plight, this most excellent Occidental now prevails upon us to "try to put yourself in [another excellent Occidental's] shoes instead of constantly complaining because they didn’t do exactly what you think they should have done." This is a fine sentiment, doubtless shaped by centuries of authentic European wisdom, which we outsiders are so lucky to sample from time to time. I hope that this essay, in its own small, humble way, has done what justice I could to Roy Thomas' most heartfelt plea. After all, I can only imagine what a great privilege it is, to experience the majesty of an Occidental mindset as a true native.

 

Disclaimer: In case it wasn't abundantly obvious, this essay is satirical. I think Roy Thomas, like most writers – and human beings in general, myself included – has probably said and done and produced his share of both merit-worthy and cringe-worthy things. I don't believe the two cancel out like some sort of bizarre sociological chemical equation that must achieve balance, as the Force must, but I do believe they add up to food for thought.

Netflix's Iron Fist, Abridged (#1-4): The Adventures of Iron Goldendoodle & The Bargain Bin Lannisters!

This weekend, between bouts of story-editing, I meandered my way through the first four episodes of Netflix's Iron Fist, which I'm actually quite enjoying so far, probably for the same reasons I've seen Vampire Academy three times. I'm pretty sure the writers pitched this series as, "What would happen if you put a goldendoodle puppy in the body of a WASPy ten-year-old blue blood, then traumatically dropped him off in the Himalayas for Fifteen Whole Gap Yahs? Probably, he would die, but that is boring and untrue to comics canon, so what if we made kung fu magic happen along the way in a manner most likely to bring the wrath of Edward Said's ghost down on our heads? LET'S FIND OUT."

Danny, when we meet him, doesn't actually appear to have mentally aged past ten, and is also still basically a goldendoodle on two legs with a fifth grader's education. Mind you, this doesn't stop him from wanting to run a multinational corporation. Professional and educational qualifications are for pussies! 

IRON GOLDENDOODLE: Hello, New York! I'm back from Fifteen Whole Gap Yahs in Asia, where I became fluent in Mandarin and the ways of the Chinese people. I have now returned to claim my rightful seat at the helm of my dead parents' corporate empire, but failing that, I'll settle for being a research intern on the China desk. Have I mentioned that I'm fluent in Mandarin?
PEOPLE OUTSIDE MARVEL LAND:  Oh, you mean the RAND Corporation? I didn't realize you owned a think tank! That's weird, but they do always need Chinese speakers. 

RAND:  No dictionaries allowed on the language exam. Begone!

IRON GOLDENDOODLE:  But. But I studied abroad!

RAND:  Begone! Who do you think you are, Mark Zuckerberg? PERA PERA POPUP LANGUAGE APPS ARE FOR THE WEAK.

 

Not to be discouraged, we follow Danny the Iron Goldendoodle to a random street corner, where he meet-cutes the first Asian person he sees.

IRON GOLDENDOODLE:  Ni hao! I have just met you, and I ai you! That means love in Chinese, btw.

COLLEEN:  Oh boy, here we go.

IRON GOLDENDOODLE:  *eagerly spouts gibberish*

COLLEEN:  Failed RAND's Chinese language test too, huh.

IRON GOLDENDOODLE:  *spouts slightly sadder gibberish*

COLLEEN:  Hey, no shame, dude. They don't even let you use a dictionary on that shit. Downright unfair, if you ask me.

 

However, no Marvel adaptation is quite complete without Terrible Dads and Corrupt Corporate Drama. In what may or may not be an homage to the Game of Thrones alumni on this show, we get both neatly wrapped up in one, villainous package of Fuckboys, Father & Son. The Meachum men appear to be what would happen if Steve Bannon tried to cosplay Tywin Lannister, and acquired a slightly milquetoast Jaime substitute along the way.

STYWIN BANNONSTER:  Let me tell you something about cultivating loyalty, son.

MILQUETOAST JAIME:  Oh, I know this one! A Lannister always pays his debts!

STYWIN BANNONSTER:  False. A Lannister always poaches unsuspecting millennials from Big Four firms, then traps them in psychological horror films! They're already pre-conditioned by utilization rate anxiety, and buried under a mountain of student debt, so really, it's an upgrade for them. Say hi to Hollow-Eyed Due Diligence Intern #24601!

MILQUETOAST JAIME:  ... What happened to Hollow-Eyed Due Diligence #1 through #24600?

STYWIN BANNONSTER:  Oh, Jaime. Dear boy. Read some Sun Tzu. The English translation, obviously; classical Chinese is hard, and also un-American.

DUE DILIGENCE INTERN #24601:  *sings sadly* Look down, look down, you'll always be a slave. Look down, look down, you're standing in your grave.

 

It's rather unclear if Due Diligence Intern #24601 has a home or family at all, or if he just lives in Stywin Bannonster's creepy underground villain lair, performing Google-fu all day.

STYWIN BANNONSTER:  Have you found anything at all about this obscure monk order? Try this search string: "Order of the Crane Mother" AND ("Edward Said" OR "Orientalism") AND ("Rolling In Grave" OR "Despairing Screams of Rage" OR "Angry Ghost Swears to Haunt Marvel Forever").

DUE DILIGENCE INTERN #24601:  No adverse or noteworthy information was found regarding your search inquiry. 

STYWIN BANNONSTER:  Really? Did you try LexisNexis? Goddammit, 24601, if you messed up your Boolean search order, I'm going to Sun Tzu the shit out of you.

DUE DILIGENCE INTERN #24601:  Sorry, milord Bannonster. Er, Lannister.

 

Meanwhile, Danny, in true Iron Goldendoodle style, has decided to follow the complete stranger he met ten minutes ago back to her dojo.

IRON GOLDENDOODLE:  I was hiding under your dojo because I ai you! Also, have you considered teaching kung fu?

COLLEEN:  That might be a little weird, since this is pretty specifically a Japanese martial arts school. Like, you know those sketchy-looking Chinese restaurants run by white people in tiny midwestern towns that serve sushi buffets? And how you always regret all your life choices when you accidentally eat there?

IRON GOLDENDOODLE:  I'm not sure I follow. Hey, want to check out my kung fu?

COLLEEN:  I would really rather not, Goldendoodle.

IRON GOLDENDOODLE: *pulling a pose* Look at me, look at me, I'm so good at yoga~!

COLLEEN:  Look at you, look at you, take these shoes and get out.

 

In a shocking turn of events, the homeless-looking dude running all over New York committing shoe-less physical assault on various white-collar workers and security professionals eventually winds up in a mental ward. He tries to convince a rather skeptical therapist that he's secretly Danny Rand. This goes about as well as you'd expect.

DR. SKEPTIC:  Your passport says you're from Toronto, dude.

IRON GOLDENDOODLE:  I paid extra for it in Morocco during my Fifteen Gap Yahs! The street vendor there says the True North is all the rage these days. Canada is the new America. Smoked meat is the new burger. Trudeau is the new Kennedy. The Moroccan shopkeeper says actual Americans seem too provincial, and so do shoes. That's why I had to pay double the usual price and give him all my footwear. Great deal, huh? Moroccan people are so wise in the ways of the world. 

DR. SKEPTIC:  ... Wow, no wonder you failed RAND's Chinese test. I'm pretty sure a Beijing bargaining showdown would actually kill you. 

 

Meanwhile, Milquetoast Jaime attempts a corporate carrot-and-stick routine on Colleen to get her to throw Danny under the bus. I think we're supposed to find this menacing, but the Milquetoast of it all kind of ruins the effect.

MILQUETOAST JAIME:  I have appeared, in my extra metallic-looking helmet hair, to FORCE YOU TO SIGN FALSE TESTIMONY AGAINST DANNY MWAHAHAHA.

COLLEEN:  ... Who?

MILQUETOAST JAIME:  That dude who called you from the mental ward and hid under your porch once! I bet you are in love with him!

COLLEEN:  Oh, you're talking about that goldendoodle who failed RAND's Chinese test! 

MILQUETOAST JAIME:  Sure, whatever. Are you gonna sign or what? I'll pay you!

COLLEEN:  ... You mean illegally bribe me.

MILQUETOAST JAIME:  A Lannister always pays his debts. What do you say?

COLLEEN:  I'm pretty sure I can rate how bad my day is based on how many white boys have put their shoes on my dojo mat. Also, no.

MILQUETOAST JAIME:  Goddammit, dad, I knew the villain laugh would be too extra!

 

Milquetoast Jaime also has a sister, oddly named Joy, who might be the most compelling member of the Bargain Bin Lannisters, though this is a decidedly low bar when your dad -- who is also pretending to be dead, btw, for Reasons of Plot -- is basically living performance art titled, "You'll Never Guess What Happens When Steve Bannon Reads Too Much GRRM & Goes To Comic-Con (Spoilers: He Traumatizes Everybody)." She and Jaime, our own homegrown "I Can't Believe It's Not Incest!" pair are, as the moniker suggests, marginally less screwed-up than actual Jaime and Cersei. Probably because Joy, while a bit spoiled and impulsive, does not appear to be a full-blown, Joffrey-mothering, direwolf puppy-murdering sociopath. That said, girl's got her priorities. 

IRON GOLDENDOODLE:  Why would you care about something so tastelessly middle-class as money, Joy?

JOY:  Um. Because it pays for my fabulous shoe collection, and also, I am an adult human with a job and living expenses? Besides, real talk: being a rich white girl has worked out pretty well for me so far. Have you seen how swank my apartment is?

IRON GOLDENDOODLE:  A POX ON YOUR SWANK; I CARE NOT FOR SUCH BOURGEOIS DECADENCE.

JOY:  Dude, I know you're woke after your Literal Fifteen Gap Yahs, but like, some people have student loans and shit. Though not me, obviously. I'm a Lannister.

IRON GOLDENDOODLE:  Ugh, AMERICAN WOMEN. SO BASIC. I knew I should have kept that Canadian passport. Other countries are so much worldlier than the United States. I wonder how Morocco is this time of year.

 

Not that Iron Goldendoodle's relationship with Milquetoast Jaime is much better.

IRON GOLDENDOODLE:  You threw me out a window?

MILQUETOAST JAIME:  Oh, you like that? I call it the Bran Stark-en-ing!

IRON GOLDENDOODLE:  I can't believe you THREW ME OUT THE BLOODY WINDOW.

MILQUETOAST JAIME:  Look, it was either that or bang my sister, and I'm not sure how far I actually want to go with my dad's weird Game of Thrones LARP fantasies. I have issues, but not those kinds of issues, you feel me?

IRON GOLDENDOODLE:  No! I don't feel you! And I don't want to! Y'all are gross!

MILQUETOAST JAIME:  Hey, has anyone told you that you look exactly like the Knight of Flowers? You could totally play --

IRON GOLDENDOODLE:  IRON GOLDENDOODLE OUT.

 

That said, we do get cameos from some faves in the established Netflix Marvel canon! They seem decidedly unimpressed with what they've stumbled into, though.

TRINITY, JD:  As the single smartest person on this show so far, I'm in major-key judgment mode at all times, but now that the Tyrell heir has given up his life as a passive-aggressively bitchy flower knight to assume the form of a ten-year-old crossed with a particularly slobbery puppy, I can probably more easily leverage him for my own advantage, assuming he doesn't muss the carpet first.

IRON GOLDENDOODLE:  J-MONEY!!!!!!  :D  :D  :D

TRINITY, JD:  ... I still kind of wish Jessica were here to punch him, though. The horrid nicknames and alarmingly goldendoodle-like attempts at physical affection are getting tiresome. Also, I think he might have gotten children's sticky glue on my pencil dress during our last client meeting. Suppose I should be grateful it's not dog slobber.

 

Colleen, meanwhile, has gotten into the cage fighting business. Iron Goldendoodle periodically offers her cryptic sparring tips, some more useful than others. 

IRON GOLDENDOODLE:  You could just stay in child's pose.

COLLEEN:  Or I could assume kicking-you-in-the-balls pose.

IRON GOLDENDOODLE:  This tattoo will protect me from harm!

COLLEEN:  ... I hate you, and everything, so much.

 

That's it for now, but stay tuned for more of this rollicking, postcolonial scholar-baiting kung fu adventure! In the mean time, enjoy these exclusive bonus missing scenes from the show:

I'm So Good at Yoga, or how Danny actually performs his Goldendoodle Fu.

This Tattoo Will Protect Me From Harm, or how Danny got that dragon tattoo.

Gap Yah, or: what really happened during Danny Rand's missing years. 

Beauty & the Beast, Shounen Heroes Edition: Who Would Throw Gaston Off a Castle Roof?

Because we're adults, my most excellent friend Claire & I spent St. Paddy's Day watching the new Beauty and the Beast and drinking cocktails. Auto-tuning aside, I found the movie pretty charming, and was fonder of grouchy-yet-bookish Matthew Crawley-eyed Beast than I expected to be! There's a lot we could probably say about the film, but honestly, the most important post-movie discussion we had was definitely the one about how the Beast is basically Inuyasha: anger management issues, check; literally part animal, check; really needs a manicure before his hands go anywhere intimate, check; Terrible Dad complex, check; curse angst, check; reluctantly in love with spunky bossy girl, check.

The sorceress is obviously Kikyo the ex-girlfriend priestess; Belle is Kagome the spunky schoolgirl; Cogsworth is Myoga the flea servant; Gaston is Kouga the wolf demon; and Chip is Shippou the baby fox demon. IT ALL FITS.

The major difference, though, according to mine & Claire's increasingly bourbon and gin-fueled literary analysis, is that the Beast's human conscience -- do these count as spoilers if the Disney storyline was first released in like 1991? Eh, whatever -- prevents him from just chucking Gaston off the castle roof, whereas Inuyasha would definitely throw Gaston off that bloody roof. Like, SUPER FAR off that roof, no hesitation, no regrets, except maybe when Kagome inevitably yells at him about it.

This, of course, begs the question of which classic shounen anime & manga heroes from our childhood would throw Gaston off a roof, and which would not. It's like the philosophical question of our times & a fun new drinking-game alternative to Marry, Fuck, Kill, all wrapped up in one! Here were the results:

 

Goku (Dragonball Z): Nope. (But Chi-Chi would.)

Vegeta (Dragonball Z): Could go either way, depending on mood and current empathy levels for the human race, which is really dependent on which place in his narrative arc he's at. (Bulma probably would though, lbr.)

Yusuke (Yu Yu Hakusho): Threatens to spirit gun Gaston off the roof; in reality, probably just swears at him a lot and punches him out cold.

Kuwabara (Yu Yu Hakusho): Really wants to throw Gaston off the roof, but can't quite bring himself to do it. Probably reacts the exact same way the Beast does, actually.

Kurama (Yu Yu Hakusho): Passively lets Gaston beat him up for a while, until Gaston insults his mother, at which point Kurama grows the Beast's magic rose into a giant demon plant that consumes Gaston's body, yet allows Gaston himself to live a cursed half-life. Gaston's soul feeds the scary-ass nightmare plant for all nightmare-fueling eternity; everyone is traumatized.

Hiei (Yu Yu Hakusho): Peaced out of the castle fifteen minutes before the villagers and their pitchforks even arrived. Gives exactly zero shits; cannot be bothered with this human idiocy. Hiei out!

Kenshin (Rurouni Kenshin): Attempts to moralize kindly with the villagers, inevitably fails. Sighs, gives them all reverse-blade sword concussions & probable brain damage instead, then dramatically cripples both of Gaston's hands, so that the latter can never hold a gun again. No chucking anyone off a roof, though; that crosses a line in the moral code, clearly!

Ichigo (Bleach): Beats Gaston up, is briefly tempted by roof-chucking option, ultimately tries to gruffly talk the dude through his issues over a beer instead. (Might just end up having to chuck him off the roof anyway.)

Rukia (Bleach): ... Yeah, no, Gaston totally just got thrown off the roof.