Role-playing Horror, Erotic Stories, and Baba Yaga

Chase Baily

This week I finished reading Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal. I really appreciated the main character’s exploration of understanding her Western identity while learning to embrace her Punjabi identity as well. I work at a Punjabi restaurant and it was fun to expand what I know about Punjabi culture through fiction. Jaswal crafts a thrilling tale of culture and community through mystery, humor, and, well… sex! It’s definitely a book I recommend anyone adding to their to-be-read pile.

Andrew Jimenez

Despite being a theatre kid through much of my adolescence, I’d never seen Angels in America, Tony Kushner’s early-nineties epic play about being gay in America during the onset of the AIDS crisis. A good friend had seen the National Theatre’s 2018 revival and told me Andrew Garfield’s performance is the best acting he’s ever seen in his life. This prompted me to finally start the 2003 HBO miniseries, which was adapted for the screen by Kushner and directed by Mike Nichols. As this year’s NYC Pride approaches, we find ourselves in a world where HIV is no longer a death sentence for those of us privileged enough to live in the wealthy western world, and the Pride March has been completely co-opted by corporations—the visibility that was once protest now a line item in so many marketing spreadsheets across America.

What was supposed to have been a 250-word staff pick about Angels in America had turned into a much-longer think-piece on capitalism’s cynically peaceful take-over of Pride. But I think a more apt thing to do would be to link to this wonderful Vox piece written by Emily Todd VanDerWerff, on her coming out as trans at the age of 37.

Kaley Kiermayr

I am slowly working my way through this tabletop RPG podcast that plays through movies as role-playing games. My favorite game so far is a two-episode oneshot based on the Friday the 13th movies. The GM hasn’t told any of the players that they’re in Friday the 13th. He tells them they’re playing through an indie sex-comedy coming-of-age film they’ve never heard of (because he made it up). The dramatic irony is awesome, because the characters in a slasher flick don’t know they’re in a slasher flick. Why should the players of this game? Other great movies Film Reroll has played through: The Wizard of Oz, Alien, and Jurassic Park.

Stevie Molina

Recently I read the latest installment in the Mercy Thompson series, Storm Cursed. Of the series, this was one of the best; it gets darker, the stakes are a bit higher, and we get to find out the origins of a character author Patricia Briggs has been teasing for a while. If you like black magic, werewolves, vampires, and fae—all minus the cheesiness—with a side of historical Easter eggs like Grendel, the Green Man, and Baba Yaga, then this is your deal. The series definitely isn’t without its problematic moments, but I stick with it for the excellent action, mystery, and incredibly engaging side characters—plus the fact that this is one of the few urban fantasy series with a mixed-race protagonist (that I know of). Mercy struggles with the two halves of her identity in a way that feels true to life, and she’s smart, hilarious, and bold to boot.