First up, a quick reminder that I’ll be a Guest of Honor at MarCon in Columbus, Ohio on May 12-14!
Last month, I had a very nice time at HELIOsphere in Tarrytown, New York… with one minor exception. Finding myself with hours of free time on the first day, I decided to walk from the hotel to the downtown. I love exploring a new area on foot when I have the chance. I notice more, it gets me outdoors, and I get some exercise in the bargain. It was snowing, but hey, I’m from Michigan. I wasn’t about to let a bit of snow deter me.
Upon setting out, I discovered that it was a particularly wet snow. Still, it’s not so bad, I told myself as my hair grew sodden. At least it meant it wasn’t much below freezing, and the snow clinging to the trees was very pretty. And so I persevered, getting wetter and wetter by the minute, until a passing car plowed through a deep puddle, throwing up a wave of street-melt that soaked me from head to toe, like I was Drew Barrymore in the midst of the most pathetic rom-com sequence.
I gave up, turned around, and went back.
Between that chilly dowsing, travel, and exposure to the “con crud,” it’s no surprise that I came down with a nasty cold the following week; and in a perfect storm of minor misery, Julie was visiting her sister in Texas, and I was home alone without the companionship of a dog for the first time in twenty-some years. So I curled up on the couch with a box of tissues and a mug of tea and binge-watched Iron Fist on Netflix, despite the bad-to-mediocre reviews it was getting.
Does Iron Fist deserve its bad rap? Yeah, pretty much so. The use of the White Savior trope is grating, especially knowing that fans lobbied hard for an Asian lead. The writing is sloppy. The series was stingy with its backstory, it lacked an overall narrative arc, and seemed to change its mind about who the Big Bad was at least three times. Orientalist clichés abounded. The fight choreography was mostly uninspired. And yet in the depths of my misery, it did keep me entertained.
There was one fight scene that stood out for me, in which the hero Danny Rand faced off against a Drunken Master. The choreography was head and shoulders above the rest and Lewis Tan, the actor playing the Drunken Master, had some real swagger. Later, I read that Tan, who’s the son of a renowned martial artist and stunt coordinator of Singaporean descent, was a serious contender for the lead role.
What a missed opportunity! The series could have been so much richer exploring the narrative of a fish-out-of-water character who’s a product of two very different worlds and cultures, belonging wholly to neither. And for me, the importance of representation—whether it be in terms of race, culture, trade, socio-economic status, sexual or gender identity—can’t be overstated. I wish the studio executives responsible decisions like these could experience what it’s like to live in a world where their presence is so largely erased from popular culture. And perhaps this is an instance that struck a particular chord with me because over the years I’ve had more than a few Asian men thank me for writing Bao as the romantic lead in the Naamah Trilogy. It’s just something that happens too seldom.
Anyway, that was my month! I’m happy to say that the sun did eventually come out during my free day at HELIOsphere, and I ventured out again, this time to trek to nearby Lyndhurst Mansion with its stunning view of the Hudson River, pictured here on the homepage.