First Autograph Request – Update

I got some mail today. 

On April 2, I sent two Wolves books to Chaske Spencer, via his agent, requesting that he sign the picture he liked the best anywhere inside the books.  Or, if he wasn’t comfortable doing that, he could return the books unsigned.  I included an envelope with enough postage to cover the return of the books at Media Mail rates.  Here’s a copy of the envelope I sent …

… It’s the one I found in my mailbox this evening.  Only, the books were not in the envelope.  No.  Instead, I got a nice autographed photograph of Sam Uley.

Autographed photo of Chaske Spencer as Sam Uley

Now, I don’t mean to sound ungrateful or anything. I’m not. Glossy photographs like that can’t be inexpensive, and I didn’t ask for it. So, I’m glad I at least got something.  But, you know, what I really want is the books.  Signed or not, I’d really like to have the books back.  I’m rather upset that someone in New York has two copies of a really nice book about wolves that don’t belong to him/her/them. 

I’m going to sleep on this tonight and try to decide the best way to go about trying to get my books back.  Should I call?  Should I write?  Should I call and write?  Who do I call and/or write to?  I’ll give it a night or two of thought before I do anything.  Then I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, I’d like to thank Mr. Spencer (or whoever reads his mail and sends out signed pictures) for sending me this picture.  While it’s not what I originally asked for, it will still go to help the kids at the Quileute Tribal School, and that’s a good thing.  If you’re interested in purchasing this photograph, visit the Third Wife Rez School store.

Positively Awesome Twilight Men

Last night, I found an article discussing an upcoming forum where the members are going to debate whether or not the Native Americans in Twilight are being portrayed in a stereotypical, negative manner. Well, that got my goat, so I promptly forgot about what I was supposed to be doing and wrote a four-page essay expressing my opinion on the subject.

The short version is: where are these people talking about?!  The slightly longer version is below.

I wrote it to submit as a comment on a couple of the blogs I follow, but it’s a tad too long to be acceptable as a comment. So, I sent it to a fellow Twilight-a-holic, thinking that would be it, but at least one person would get to read it. A comment (my first!  yay!) on this blog made me realize that perhaps more people could read it if I just posted it. I mean, I do have a blog and all, and isn’t that what it’s for?

First: the article, as found on QuileuteWolfPack.com: Newest Attack on the Twilight Saga – Racism?. I won’t post the text of the article, but you can click on the link to read it. I strongly recommend reading it first, as I think the essay will make more sense if you do.

Here’s my response. Let me know what you think.

To begin with, I would first ask these forum members if they have, in fact, actually read the books. I’m sure they have, else they would not be able to legitimately hold a forum to discuss matters within these stories; nonetheless, I find myself wondering if they read them with the express intent of finding something negative on which they could base a debate. Next, I would ask them to please list the stereotypes they feel might be being perpetrated about native men. The only references to any stereotypes are feathers and living in a teepee. Surely they have more than two examples in mind; I cannot imagine a forum of any length based on such a short list. Another question I have for them is, Why now? Why do you choose now to explore any traces of social negativity about these stories? If anyone at all was concerned about how a race of people, fictional or not, was portrayed in these stories, it surely would have come to light before now. Since the racial red flag has not been hoisted until this moment, it seems to me that some grasping at straws for debatable topics about this popular series is occurring.

I might suggest that they begin their questioning with the actors. Every character living in La Push was portrayed by an actor with some sort of tribal affiliation. The only exceptions are Taylor Lautner (playing Jacob Black) and Booboo Stewart (playing Seth Clearwater); neither has any official tribal affiliation, though each has some native ancestry through family members. (Source: QuileuteWolfPack.com, click on The Wolf Pack link). I can’t imagine that indigenous people would sign on to have themselves portrayed in a bad light. The actors are proud of their heritage, as they have continually shown by promoting awareness of Native American events. For example, Chaske Spencer, Alex Meraz, Gil Birmingham, Boo Boo Stewart, and Julia Jones have all lent their support to Shift the Power to the People to raise awareness and encourage support of South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, whose reservation was devastated by a snowstorm (Source: http://shiftthepowertothepeople.squarespace.com/). Tinsel Korey has been a guest speaker to empower native youth, conducted a coat drive, and visited students at the Quileute Tribal School (Source: QuileuteWolfPack.com), among other things. I cannot imagine that people with such pride in who they are would stoop to portraying characters that would malign their heritage.

Casting calls were sent out specifically for Native American actors; you can view one such example here: http://www.filmgecko.com/new-moon-casting-for-native-americans/. “Summit [Entertainment] wanted to stay true to the story book characters by making sure that the ‘wolf pack’ were truly of Native American descent (Source: http://www.zimbio.com/Kiowa+Gordon/articles/4/Summit+Entertainment+Casts+New+Moon+Wolf+Pack). Why would a film company go to such lengths to fill these roles with these specific types of people? In this day and age of special effects and spray-on tans, nearly anyone could have filled the roles of the Wolf Pack and residents of La Push.

The comparisons of Jacob and Edward can be explained on several different levels. The article states that “Jacob Black is ‘muscular, hotheaded, passionate, and often dressed in cutoff-style jeans or shorts’…” Jacob was passionate long before he became a werewolf, as evidenced by his love of rebuilding cars and his dedication to Bella. His muscles and hotheadedness came about as a result of the werewolf gene being activated due to the presence of vampires in the vicinity. Jacob’s growth spurt can be followed throughout the pages of New Moon. In fact, on page 131 of the trade paperback version, Jacob is described as having “passed that point where the soft muscles of childhood hardened into the solid, lanky build of a teenager; … His face …had hardened, too–the planes of his cheekbones sharper, his jaw squared off, all childish roundness gone.” Further down the page, Bella exclaims “You grew again,” to which Jacob replied that he was now “six-five.” Bella noted a difference in his size after only eight months, also noted on that page. “By Eclipse, Jacob stands at 6’7″ and has a muscular build” and “his body [has] physically grown to the equivalent of a 25-year-old” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_Black).

In New Moon, Jacob is sixteen (pg. 135, New Moon, trade paperback), which brings with it some natural coming-of-age angst, but add to that the sudden ability to change into a werewolf, something that, until this moment in his life, has only been the stuff of fiction and myth, … well, is there any doubt as to why he might be angry? He didn’t have a choice in this matter; it’s in his genetic makeup. Then he realizes that the girl he loves is in love with his tribe’s mortal enemy, and he can’t harm a hair on his enemy’s head without hurting the girl he loves. While he lives at home with his father, he’s pretty much been free to roam due to his father’s disability; now he has to follow the commands of the Alpha wolf, something which chafes, not only because of a wolf’s natural inclination to be subservient but also because Jacob himself is the true Alpha due to his lineage and he is fighting his inborn instincts to lead (pg. 209, Breaking Dawn, hardback). Alice Cullen chides Bella for being friends with a young werewolf (pg. 387, New Moon, trade paperback). Bella claims that there’s nothing wrong with werewolves, to which Alice responds, “until they lose their tempers.” Jacob is more than “somewhat childlike;” he is a child, albeit a teenage one, dealing with a plate heaping with all the normal problems and several outlandish ones as well–a combination that is sure to make even a grown person “irrational and emotive.”

Jacob dresses in cut-offs or shorts for the sake of convenience. First, he doesn’t get cold, with a natural body temperature of 108.9 degrees (pg. 490, Eclipse, trade paperback), so he doesn’t need to wear a lot of clothes. Then, too, there’s the fact that his clothes don’t transform when he does, so when he changes to a wolf and doesn’t undress first, his clothes are torn to shreds. As a result, he has wrapped a black leather cord around his ankle so he can tuck his pants into it when he’s in wolf form; the fewer clothes he has to tuck, the easier it is (pg. 216, Eclipse, trade paperback). The matter of Jacob’s dress, all the wolves’ dress, is simply due to their very nature: transformation wreaks havoc on their wardrobes, and none of them have the financial resources to keep buying new clothes. The non-wolf characters of La Push, including those we get to know before they become werewolves, are always fully dressed in a tasteful manner befitting the socio-economic situation in which they live.

As for Edward, the “very white vampire … who is well-groomed, elegant, and rational,” he, too has depth of character. First of all, he is pale because he has no blood running beneath his skin to give it color and life. The venom in his veins leaves his skin resembling stone in both color and texture, points mentioned repeatedly throughout each book. He is well-groomed in large part to the fact that his sister, Alice, is passionate about fashion, a trait referenced several times throughout the books. She chooses her family’s wardrobes, and often never lets any of them wear the same thing twice (pg. 273, Eclipse, hardcover).

The Cullen elegance comes from a variety of sources, the first being, quite simply, their ages. They are all from other times: Carlisle is more than 300 years old, the rest are over or near 100. That one fact alone will lend them an elegance of manner and dress that is not seen today, as they reflect the times from which they originated. Like the rest of his vampire family, Edward has a photographic memory, and 109 years of memories, education, and experience stored in his head. He’s not given to spontaneity or hot-headedness, though he can be hard-headed and stubborn, especially as concerns Bella’s safety. But such life experiences have taught him to think first and act later. Their age is the reason for their wealth, which merely adds to their elegance. Any money they had and invested has compounded interest and made them very wealthy, partnered with the fact that Alice has the ability to see the future and direct them on investing in the stock market. Time, experience, and money have all lent themselves to the Cullens’ behavior, appearance, and tastes.

I wonder what is meant by stating that Jacob is “not really equal in citizenship”? Is it because Jacob is 16 and Edward is 109? That, to me, is reason enough; Edward is Jacob’s elder, and, as such, has the benefit of years of experience on Jacob, regardless of either’s ethnicity. Is it because Edward is calm and rational and Jacob often speaks before he thinks? Perhaps, but, again, Edward has had years to perfect his manner and learn to control his temper. In what way is Jacob, and by extension, the Quileutes, not equal in citizenship to Edward and the Cullens? Was Sam Uley taken into consideration? He, too, is a werewolf, the first one of his generation. Yet, when he first turned into a wolf, he hid for two weeks, keeping himself away from those he could hurt (pg. 116, Eclipse, trade paperback). And now, at 20, he is the calm, rational leader of the pack, helping the new wolves understand the changes they are undergoing and learning how to cope with them. Certainly, that deserves some consideration? Isn’t Sam rational, lacking in hot-headedness? Yet, he, too also dresses in cut-offs, so maybe not.

I don’t understand the claim that there are negative stereotypes being reinforced about indigenous men in the stories of the Twilight Saga. I believe quite the opposite, in fact. Here is a group of young men and boys – in Eclipse, the youngest wolves are 13 years old (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Twilight_characters#Collin_and_Brady) – sworn by birthright to uphold a generations-old treaty against an enemy they can barely tolerate. Yet, uphold that treaty, they do, eventually creating an alliance with their enemy in order to defeat a group that threatens them both. In chapters eight and eleven of Breaking Dawn, the wolves discuss as a group what action to take regarding a potential threat. How is discussing matters as a group portraying anyone in a negative light? Though there is one undisputed leader, the Alpha, who makes all final decisions, he allows those under him to have their say and takes into consideration all viewpoints. This seems a positive thing to me, with the slight dictatorship being a reflection of a wolf pack, not of humans.

The werewolves’ minds are linked when they are in wolf form, meaning that they can hear each others’ thoughts as if they were having a conversation. Having to share their thoughts with everyone else is not easy, so they each work to control what they think about while in their wolf forms (pgs. 416-419, Eclipse, trade paperback). Having consideration of others does not at all seem like a negative trait to me.

Jacob, by his very personality, is passionate and, by circumstance, is hot-headed, muscular, and wears cut-off shorts. Edward, by his physical makeup, is pale, and, by circumstance, is wealthy, well-groomed, and rational. Jacob is still a boy, with only 16 years’ life to his experience; Edward is a 17-year-old man, with 109 years’ experience guiding him. I cannot understand how comparing these two completely different people can begin to illustrate how one is being negatively portrayed against the other. The wolves are protectors, sworn to guard their land and the people who live on it. When circumstances force them to work with their enemy, they overcome their hatred and become allies. When their pack is pulled apart, the two packs eventually work out an understanding and work together. So, there is protection of loved ones, cooperation, teamwork, and overcoming prejudice. If that’s a negative portrayal of indigenous men, then I want to see more of it.

Published in: on April 7, 2010 at 12:29 am  Leave a Comment  

First Autograph Request

Wolf and pack life explored

I finally got everything together and sent items off with a request for autographs. I chose a book about wolves to start with, and I’m hoping to get autographs from all the members of the wolf pack. I sent two copies of the book to Chaske Spencer. It felt fitting to start there, as he’s the alpha wolf. I might try Taylor Lautner next, since he’s the beta, but he’s also the most popular wolf, so it might take longer to get him to sign something, which means I might go for the rest of the pack first.

Since all profits from the things I sell via the Third Wife Rez School Store will go to the Quileute School, I thought it’d be interesting to track the cost of everything. Initially, I was thinking that everything but the price of the books, but then I realized that I had to pay not only for postage to send the books (or other items, whatever they may be) to the people I want to autograph them, but I also need to send along return postage as well, which doubles the postage for each autograph I request. Plus, I need to send them in something. That’s why I went ahead and sent two copies of the book. (Hopefully, Chaske will agree to sign them for me!)

So, here’s a running list of all costs associated with getting these books autographed. I’ll update this post each time I pay for something else.

Total so far

 $20.60

 The books (I get them half-price where I work, so there’s a bit of savings)  $5.99
 Sales Tax on the books  $0.46
 Envelopes (pack of 20 10×13)  $7.99
 Sales tax on the envelopes  $0.62
 Postage (Media Mail, $2.77 each way)  $5.54
   
   

The Third Wife and the Real Team Jacob

A couple weeks ago, I read a New York Times online article about the effect the Twilight Saga is having on La Push, the Quileute Reservation near Forks, Washington.  In short, despite the masses of tourists flocking to the area and the myriad products being marketed using the Quileute name and idea, the real Quileutes are not benefiting much at all; in fact, many of the Quileute families still live in poverty. 

Being a fairly recent, but no less avid, fan of the Twilight series, I found myself scouring the internet daily looking for the newest news about the books, movies, actors, and anything else remotely related to my beloved stories.  When I read this article, my heart nearly broke.  When I read that “They struggle to maintain adequate tribal housing and to support their tribal school…” I knew I had to do something.  But what?

My family background is very pro-education: my mother has an Ed.D. in education administration and has taught math for 40+ years; my sisters and I all have Masters Degrees; one sister is a middle school teacher; I have a degree in library science and have worked in elementary schools, public libraries, and other venues promoting research and reading.   I’d love to help with the housing and the other things listed in the article, but I can’t do it all, and I have to start somewhere; so, I decided to begin with the school.  Like the Third Wife in the fictional history of the Quileutes (chapter 11: Legends , Eclipse), I will do what little I can to help.

On the Quileute Wolf Pack website , I found a link to the Quileute Nation website , from which I was able to locate information about their school.  (Remember, Jacob goes to the school on the reservation, preferring the “Rez school’s exclusivity” as opposed to the Forks High public school.)  I contacted some people at the school, and heard back from someone associated with the tribe’s PR department.  They had just established a fundraising site for the school, and were working on promoting it to the fans.  Here’s what she said:

We are trying to spread the link out to reach the fans–I have also linked it through Facebook as a “cause” facebookers can support and hopefully spread word about. (I don’t know if you are a part of one of these social networks but if you are join our cause by searching “Support the Real Team Jacob!”). The donation website is:

 If you have friends that are hooked on the Twilight craze, this is an easy way to reach out to them and spread information on how to donate to the school and support the tribe directly. 

With that, my imagination started soaring.  I began to wonder what I could do to raise money for the school.  I began by making a small donation of my own, but felt that there was surely more that could be done.  Twilight fans banded together in record numbers to raise funds for Haiti … surely we could work together to help people in our own country, people who play a vitally important part of our favorite books?  I felt certain it could be done. 

I came up with tons of ideas and have absolutely no idea whether or not they are all possible.  I’ve never tried to do this before, so I don’t know the parameters of possibility for something like this.  That can be both good and bad.  We’ll see how it goes.  But I decided that a blog would be a fun way to not only track my progress as a neophyte fundraiser, but also to hopefully raise awareness among Twilight fans and hopefully garner a few donations.

So, welcome!  I hope this proves to be an interesting journey.  Please, make a donation if you can; at the very least, please let your friends know about the Quileute school fundraising project.  Together we can all make a difference in the lives of the real-life Quileutes, and in the process, make Jacob Black and his wolf pack proud of us!