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Getting Medieval with Rammstein and MATKA DANU MIKLAGARTH

the first single, "Deutschland"
The seventh Rammstein album comes out today! I'm an old-fashioned lady (and also I promised myself not to buy it until my first draft of Matka Danu Miklagarth was 100% completed), so I will drive on over to a bricks-and-mortar media store after work. It will be fun, just like when I used to go to Tower Records for punk rock album releases. But it will also be embarrassing, because I am a 36-year-old mom. It's that half-giddy, half-ashamed feeling of purchasing a 100-count box of condoms.

Hey-O, speaking of birth control! Have you heard the news? The legislatures of Ohio and a bunch of what our president might call... what-hole states? ...have gone on a bender of writing up bills that sound like the dystopian plot of a Margaret Atwood novel, brutally targeting the nation's most vulnerable children and women.

What a great time to buy a 100-count box of condoms and a really, really heavy metal album.

And to finish my historical novel set in 11th century Eurasia, where (spoiler alert) life was not a white supremacist, MRA gamer fantasy. It was a time when straight, white men did lots of terrible and gruesome things to each other and mostly died young of uncontrollable diarrhea (before flush toilets and paper products even). It was a time, like most times, when the most universal and ancient of "traditions" included living with cockroaches and mutilating the genitals of boys and men (not so much women). Is this shocking or confusing to you? How about interesting? Well, I have recently discovered a fantastic resource for the non-scholar who wishes to learn more about these topics as well as check on the historical accuracy and authenticity of popular medievalist TV shows, games, movies, and books: The Public Medievalist.

There, and in other sources by current medievalists, you'll find that women used to be deacons, that female sex work and same-sex relationships were tolerated far more than male "sodomy," and that the hottest product in Eurasian markets, fueling a few large economies, was the slave. The most popular kind was a child about eight years old, and the most expensive kind was the eunuch. Some eunuchs were purchased from Africa, but most were home-grown and homemade in Europe. Early Vikings (who appeared to their own contemporaries more like A Clockwork Orange dandies than hypermasculine barbarians) loved raiding Christian monasteries, not just for the gold and jewels hoarded within but for the family-jewelless monks and castrati choirboys who could be sold for massive profits.

Traditional values, don't we love them.

While researching Matka Danu Miklagarth, I have been careful to ask different questions and to examine and avoid the peculiar inaccuracies about medieval Europe--and Asia and Africa--fostered by upper class white European men of the Victorian era. As a result, I've created a historical thriller that offers a tour through a richly multicultural, not-necessarily-racist, sometimes-woman-run, pioneering and forward-striving world from the Black Forest to the Black Sea.

History is terrible and beautiful in complex ways. National identity is a steaming hot mess. Violently oppressive governments are always a nightmare. Neither essentialist racism nor the criminalization of women's sexual and reproductive freedoms qualify as "natural" for human beings. And the seeds of hope for a better future are to be found scattered throughout the past. Rammstein has so elegantly expressed in the historically rich videos for their first two singles off the new album, "Deutschland" and "Radio."

I've already read some intriguing reviews of the album by musical publications, and I've even heard from some fans who have already obtained the music and described listening to it in religious language. Ugh, I'm so ready for this.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some writing revisions and, um, listening to do. And maybe also condoms to hoard.


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