Comic for June 27, 2017

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017 11:59 pm
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elf: Petalwing, singing (Petalwing Singing)
[personal profile] elf
Ok, we're back to lists. Not that I have a lot of options here; I don't listen to a bunch of loud music, and most of the songs I like aren't loud. But there are a few. I'm including songs that I don't think need to be loud all the way through, but have a section that I prefer to be at top volume so I can scream along with it and not year my own voice.

Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go | Ballroom Blitz | Shut Up and Dance | It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) | Cum On Feel The Noize | We're Not Gonna Take It | I Wanna Be Sedated | Immigrant Song | Fat Bottomed Girls

...okay, maybe I do have a lot of options. Not as many as some of the others, but I'm not running out.

I have no idea what show or movie this was made from, but it's awesome )

Meme list
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[personal profile] starwolf_oakley posting in [community profile] scans_daily
Conflict is needed for drama. And in a group, there is that one character who is around just to cause conflict with the other characters. WEST COAT AVENGERS #69 is an example of when there are two characters there just to cause conflict, and what happens when they fight each other.

Story by Roy Thomas, with art by Paul Ryan.


Grudge Match )

Reading update

Monday, June 26th, 2017 11:06 pm
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[personal profile] buttonsbeadslace
Before I started Dragons of Spring Dawning a few weeks ago, I wrote up a batch of Thoughts about Caramon and Raistlin, among other things, and then while I was reading the first few chapters I wrote a bunch more notes that I haven't posted about yet. At the time I was writing them, I sort of felt like I was reaching a bit in my conclusions, but now I've gotten to chapter 15, which is the most detailed version of Raistlin's Test so far, and wow, I was not reaching at all, wow.

Read more... )

Local news

Monday, June 26th, 2017 10:34 pm
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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll

Mosque approved despite pleas to think of the little turtles and an odd assertion that the mosque would produce more sewage than "normal " spiritual use.

Everyday stuff

Monday, June 26th, 2017 10:04 pm
buttonsbeadslace: drawing of a high-heeled boot (Default)
[personal profile] buttonsbeadslace
 I got distracted playing a game last night and didn't post. Oops. 

Sparkly arrived safely for eir work trip, got eir employee ID and everything, and has been busily filling out very boring forms. But ey tells me that the people running the training are very nice, and ey has met some of eir future coworkers. Ey was issued a phone, so now I have eir new work phone number (which I am not to call unless it's an emergency.)

My hand is healing up well from Zinfandel's accidental attack. I spent most of yesterday morning with my thumb taped to my hand, to keep myself from using it and stretching the injured skin, and that seems to have helped. 

The exgf's cats meet Fig

Monday, June 26th, 2017 09:42 pm
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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Ibid has a ... troubled history with Nigel so we're holding off on that.

No histrionics but somehow Rufus established himself as a cat Fig needs not to annoy, whereas Nigel is someone Fig will happily follow around.

Also, Fig made himself sick eating daisies, then tried to eat one again.

Request for prayers or whatever analog you prefer

Monday, June 26th, 2017 05:34 pm
ysobel: (me)
[personal profile] ysobel
Okay, so, uh. Most of you know that I have a condition called FOP -- Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva. For anyone who doesn't: it’s a really fucking rare medical condition where the body creates bone in and around muscles and tendons, progressively immobilizing the body into a human statue. It is incurable and untreatable.

This is a highly relevant video:

The 11-year-old in that video, Erin, got sick in April with basically the common cold, but it landed her in ICU. Between the severe scoliosis that FOP causes (I have way milder curvature because I was older when I started losing mobility, 10 instead of Erin’s 3, and my progression was slower) and the bone locking up her rib cage and taking up space in her chest, her airway is severely compromised. She was intubated as a last-resort measure for keeping her alive.

For the last two months, she’s been bouncing between ICU and “regular” hospital. About a week ago, her parents and doctors were discussing long term care options -- either BiPAP and hope like hell she never gets sick again, or a permanent tracheotomy. The trach procedure, complicated by the restrictions of FOP, would have her in the hospital until at least September and probably longer.

Four hours ago, she stopped breathing.

She has been successfully (re-)intubated, but... it’s bad and scary and so fucking not fair she’s a fucking *kid*, she isn't even 12 yet, she shouldn't be in the fucking *hospital* for *months*, let alone almost fucking *dying*.

(and if I’m being honest, this is fucking scaring me, not just on her behalf. My airway isn’t as bad, but this could be in my future too, and in another universe it could have been my path.)

So. Please, if you pray or send positive vibes or whatever, please send some to Erin and her family.

(She also loves postcards -- address is here -- but mainly I just want positive energy out in the universe for her.)

The Hood #3

Monday, June 26th, 2017 01:04 pm
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[personal profile] mastermahan posting in [community profile] scans_daily

Only possible trigger warning for this issue is some blood.Read more... )

I call this

Monday, June 26th, 2017 07:18 pm
[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

Posted by Vivian Kane

At VidCon last week, Anita Sarkeesian participated in the Women Online panel. As just about any woman who spends time online knows, a huge impediment to happiness and success in that arena is the disproportionate levels of harassment we so often receive. From YouTube comments that consistently focus on the physical appearance of women hosts (which, be they positive or negative are frustrating, diminishing, and not something men have to deal with on the same scale) to threats of violence, women who want to pursue careers or hobbies online will end up dealing with harassment.

So when moderator Rosianna Halse Rojas began this VidCon panel by asking “Why do we still have to talk about the harassment of women?” Sarkeesian had a career’s worth of examples to choose from, but ended up going with the one literally right in front of her. She answered, “Because I think one of my biggest harassers is sitting in the front row.”

Garbage human (as she aptly branded him) Carl Benjamin–known online as Sargon of Akkad–makes a living posting misogynistic and otherwise hateful videos on YouTube, many of which target Sarkeesian. And he was sitting in the front row of her panel. Here’s just a sampling of his work, if you’re curious:

That panel, by the way, was designed to let women in online communities “talk about how we can foster new creators and communities, amplify often-marginalized voices, and move forward together.” That must have been confusing to Carl, seeing as it was in no way about him. Showing up to a panel featuring women he professionally harasses (and it is a profession, as he makes over $5,000 a month through his Patreon) is nothing more than an attempt to put himself at the center of their narrative.

Sarkeesian wrote about the experience and his pitiful transparency on the Feminist Frequency website:

“When you have a history of harassing someone for years, and you show up in the front row at their panel with a camera and an entourage, that is not an act of good faith, to put it mildly. That is itself an act of harassment and intimidation. He and his companions were doing this not just to me but to other women as well, women like Kat Blaque and Franchesca Ramsey, so that we all are aware at VidCon that this man who has harassed us and whose hundreds of thousands of followers have attacked us online for years is here, watching us. It’s a deliberate act to create an environment that feels hostile, to communicate to us that if and when we dare to show up in public to express the ideas that we express online, the harassment will follow us into the physical world as well.”

Of course, Carl is now claiming that by calling him out during the panel, that constitutes abuse. He is claiming to be a victim of bullying at the hands of the woman he’s dedicated a large chunk of his career to harassing, simply because she had all the power that comes with the microphone being placed in front of her.

Sarkeesian called that what it is: straight-up gaslightling. To claim men with a history of harassment were there in the front row for any reason but to further that harassment is ludicrous. These men want so badly to feel they have power over women, that they can control our choices and our feelings, and intimidate us into leaving the communities they feel they own by nature of their gender.

A woman who attended the panel with Carl tweeted, as Sarkeesian writes, “that women are ‘powerful’ enough to ‘deal with things like workplace harassment to rape.’ As if power is in accepting a culture in which women are second-class citizens, in which misogyny and workplace harassment and rape are the norm.”

Talking about harassment, or calling out misogyny or racism or homophobia in video games and the media as Sarkeesian does, is not claiming victimhood. Talking about what plagues us and what we can do better is not disparaging to ourselves, nor is it a direct attack on anyone else.

Yet a whole lot of people in this conversation are calling themselves victims. Carl, like so many other men in online (and, let’s be honest, offline too) communities, cannot hear talk of something aimed at “marginalized voices” without feeling like his exclusion from that narrative means he’s now the real marginalized voice. He cannot hear a woman talk about abuse without feeling abused. He will go out of his way to harass and intimidate a woman and then cry persecution when she notices him. That’s as manipulative as it is pathetic.

Good for Anita Sarkeesian for showing up in the first place to talk about such an awful, but pervasive and therefore necessary subject. And even better still for calling this human garbage out for his awfulness.

(image: Global Panorama/Flickr)

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[ SECRET POST #3827 ]

Monday, June 26th, 2017 06:38 pm
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[personal profile] case posting in [community profile] fandomsecrets

⌈ Secret Post #3827 ⌋

Warning: Some secrets are NOT worksafe and may contain SPOILERS.


More! )


Secrets Left to Post: 02 pages, 41 secrets from Secret Submission Post #548.
Secrets Not Posted: [ 0 - broken links ], [ 0 - not!secrets ], [ 0 - not!fandom ], [ 0 - too big ], [ 0 - repeat ].
Current Secret Submissions Post: here.
Suggestions, comments, and concerns should go here.

(no subject)

Monday, June 26th, 2017 06:21 pm
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[personal profile] the_rck
Today is our 24th anniversary. Scott took the day off so we could hang out together. We went into Ypsilanti to do some Ingress and got lunch at a diner called The Bomber.

Cordelia spent most of the afternoon with one of her friends downtown. She kept calling us and asking us to suggest things to do. I couldn't come up with anything she liked. They'd already gotten ice cream and didn't want any other type of food. They didn't want to window shop. They didn't want to actually shop. They didn't want to visit any museums. Pokemon Go and Ingress are too out of style to even be considered even if they had either on their phones.

Yesterday, Scott got the lawn mowed and cleaned out one of the two Time Capsule drives. The big problem we've got is that his hard drive is over a terabyte of family photos and videos. We may need to dedicate one of the drives to his machine and use the other for me and Cordelia, but that will require that Scott actually pay attention to what the program is doing and be willing to address the matter rapidly if one drive or the other stops working.

We watched two library DVDs last night and then returned them today (long, long waitlists). Both were amusing in different ways, and we even got Cordelia to join us in watching one of them.

Scott bewilders me by watching TV episodes on his laptop while he's also watching his brother playing games with active voices (and explosions). I think he flips back and forth in terms of the visuals. When I'm in the same room with him, I keep trying to follow what's going on just by listening, and... Yeah. Not working.

I used the c-PAP for a chunk of last night and didn't have any sneezing or runny nose today. Hopefully, that's done. I'm not sure how much the Ativan is actually helping and how much is just that I've got more time for sleeping to make up for the poor quality. I'm having trouble, when on my side, with getting adequate head support without dislodging the nasal pillows. I very much doubt that a different mask would help given that it seems to be the shape of my face changing depending on which bit the pillow is pressing against.

And now we're trying to come up with dinner ideas...
[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

Posted by Teresa Jusino

There’s been a lot of discussion surrounding Sofia Coppola’s star-studded novel adaptation, The Beguiled, which comes out Friday. One of the larger topics of discussion is how, despite slavery being addressed in the original source material—complete with a black female character named Hallie—Coppola’s film addresses none of it, instead erasing that character and choosing instead to stick with what’s familiar: white, Southern femininity.

We’ve definitely written about it here at The Mary Sue. In fact, the folks at Birth.Movies.Death took notice when our own Vivian Kane wrote this piece about Coppola’s comments regarding the Bechdel-Wallace test.

According to BMD, “The Mary Sue even goes as far as to smarmily note that it’s “not surprising” Coppola didn’t know what the test is** “even if she wasn’t born into her career”; a glib attempt to invalidate her rather obvious skillset as a filmmaker. Now, not only is Coppola’s movie—which revolves around a group of women finding themselves falling victim to the wiles of a lecherous man—erasing black history from its storyline, it also isn’t feminist enough for certain viewers. To call these assertions unfair seems like an understatement.”

I would love to thank this male writer for telling our female writer that she was being “smarmy” by remarking on a female filmmaker’s privilege, a remark that is not inaccurate. I’m sure that Coppola acknowledges the role that being her father’s daughter played in her career. I’m also sure that both Coppola and we here at TMS are capable of seeing enough nuance in these discussions to be able to separate privilege from talent. No one is saying that Coppola isn’t a talented, competent filmmaker. Of course she is. That doesn’t make her privileges go away. They are inextricable.

Much the way slavery is inextricable from any tale of Southern Belles.

The BMD piece is titled “Support Female Filmmakers (As Long As They “Behave”),” and is basically one long concern troll about how horrible it is when female filmmakers are held accountable for their choices, artistically or otherwise. The piece then over-simplifies the fervent response to Wonder Woman, saying that the only reason why we like it so much is because it provides us with “palatable,” “safe” feminism.

As if there wasn’t plenty of criticism of Wonder Woman about everything from it being a “white feminist” film, to  whether or not its lead actress counts as a woman of color as an Israeli Ashkenazi Jew. I guess this writer missed all of that?

Rather than look at each criticism on a case-by-case basis, the way one might do if one wanted to treat film criticism with nuance, the BMD piece is determined to categorize any and all criticism of Coppola as “gotcha” criticism.

Now, here’s the thing: there is plenty of that on the Internet. There are plenty of people who are all too willing to jump on the merest whiff of “wrongdoing” (often without enough context) to feel self-righteous. However, there’s a difference between that, and asking legitimate questions, and it seems that the biggest, trendiest “gotcha” of all is complaining about “gotcha” criticism.

There seems to be a misguided notion that “supporting female filmmakers” means that they should never be held accountable for their choices or actions. Supporting female filmmakers doesn’t mean supporting every single one blindly. It means giving a platform and opportunity to the ones without them, and amplifying the established ones you respect.

Supporting female filmmakers also means protecting them from the female filmmakers who would do them harm.

The BMD piece brings up Iranian filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour, who recently drew criticism when she dismissed a black woman’s concerns about the representation of the black characters in her film The Bad Batch at a Q&A. Now, I’m a writer of color, and I love seeing creators of color succeed, particularly when they’re women. That said, Amirpour has a long track record beyond this film of questionable, racist behavior and comments re: black people, from dressing up as Li’l Wayne (complete with blackface), to this most recent, callous dismissal.

Amirpour being a woman of color doesn’t make her exempt from criticism when it comes to groups of which she is not a part. Yes, she’s a woman of color. But she is not a black woman. I’m Latina. That doesn’t mean I get to say the n-word or wear yellowface. And that is a valid thing to acknowledge when talking about intersectional feminism.

It’s valid, too, when discussing female filmmakers. Yes, women should all be on the same team and support each other, but if someone on the team is, knowingly or unknowingly, doing things that harm other members of the team, they need to be told.

The BMD piece talks about Coppola as if she needs “protection.” She is an intelligent, capable woman who can speak for herself and her choices and, in fact, has. As a filmmaker, she should (and likely is) prepared for a certain level of dialogue with the viewing audience, because creating art is all about entering into a dialogue between artist and art enthusiast. Art is a two-way street, and Coppola doesn’t need anyone “sticking up” for her. She’ll be fine.

There’s something to the idea Coppola expressed when she said, “I didn’t want to brush over such an important topic in a light way. Young girls watch my films and this was not the depiction of an African-American character I would want to show them.”

“I feel like you can’t show everyone’s perspective in a story. I was really focused on just this one group of women who were really isolated and weren’t prepared. A lot of slaves had left at that time, so they were really—that emphasized that they were cut off from the world. [Hallie’s] story’s a really interesting story, but it’s a whole other story, so I was really focused on these women.”

That is a perfectly reasonable, thoughtful answer. It’s also one with which critics are free to take issue, pointing out (for next time, as The Beguiled is already done) that there are ways to think about these things differently so that, perhaps, she would feel more equipped or comfortable being inclusive in this way.

We here at TMS are never interested in taking a female artist down just for the sake of it. Whenever we criticize a woman in the public eye, for her words or her work, it is because we believe that if one has earned a platform from where they have the privilege of disseminating ideas, they have a responsibility to those on the receiving end. What they choose to do with that responsibility is, of course, up to them.

(image: lev radin/Shutterstock)

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Posted by Kaila Hale-Stern

National hero Stephen Colbert temporarily defected to Russian late-night TV, and it was everything we dreamed Stephen Colbert in Russia could be.

Last week in TWS I mentioned that Stephen was headed to Russia on what he called a “secret assignment.” Well, he cropped up over the weekend on the Russian late-night show Evening Urgant, turning his usual tables by appearing as a guest. There he played a special modified sort of Russian roulette with host Ivan Urgant involving vodka shots and pickles. Colbert was surprised to find it wasn’t Russian roulette exactly because all of the shot glasses contained vodka. Sounds like my kind of game.

It’s a delight to watch Stephen interact with Urgant, even when you have no idea what Urgant is saying in Russian (if you speak Russian, please help us out in the comments). Their physical comedy is top-notch. Per The Washington Post:

Colbert joked that, because the show was part of a state-owned TV channel, Urgant was “officially an employee of the state.”

“I look forward to going back to America and testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee about colluding with Russia,” Colbert deadpanned.

As Stephen takes his first shot, he says, “To the beautiful and friendly Russian people, I can’t remember why no members of the Trump administration can remember meeting you.” The crowd loves it. So do I. Although it’s more than a bit sad to consider what a joke America’s politics have become internationally and most especially in Russia. These days when I picture Putin I imagine him laughing all day long over how much he’s successfully messed with the American system.

Mid-game, Stephen says, “By the way, may I announce something? This is not shown in the United States? I’m here to announce that I am considering a run for President in 2020. And I thought it would be better to cut out the middleman and just tell the Russians myself. If anyone would like to work on my campaign in an unofficial capacity, please just let me know.”

This was absolutely masterful trolling of the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia and the ongoing Russian electoral meddling headaches. Stephen gives his final toast: “A strong America, a strong Russia!”

Colbert is a comedic genius, and we’ve never needed his mocking voice more. Not a day passes that I’m not thrilled and grateful that he’s reaching a massive audience via The Late Show and that CBS appears to have given him so much creative freedom. His potshots at the perpetual trainwreck of the Trump administration will go down in history. I hope he never stops showing what a smart, savvy troll can do. Trolls can be heroes too. And all of us need to laugh to keep from curling up into a fetal position and crying at the state of the nation.

Будем здоровы!

(via the Washington Post, image: screengrab)

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[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

Posted by Charline Jao

Critically acclaimed horror author Stephen King is a huge fan of TNT’s Claws, and so are we! Seriously, what other endorsements do you need? Go watch it now!

  • Why is the plural of moose “moose” instead of meese? Merriam-Webster has your answer.
  • Fuller House season 3 will premiere on the 30th anniversary of Full House. How *sobs* rude. (via Deadline)

If you’re a fan of the HBO show Silicon Valley, that had its season finale last night, here’s a video breaking down the companies and details of the opening sequence. It’s amazing what they fit into that small amount of time. (via BoingBoing)

Finally, John McEnroe had the audacity to suggest that Serena Williams would be ranked 700 in the world if she played against men. I’m calling for another Battle of the Sexes where Serena Williams, the greatest tennis player in the world, smokes all of them while carrying her baby, running the tech world, and reciting Maya Angelou because she could. (via Buzzfeed)

That’s it for what we saw today. What did you see?

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The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

Posted by Dan Van Winkle

We’re learning a lot of new things about the Marvel Cinematic Universe/Sony Spider-Man as the final publicity push for the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming kicks in ahead of the movie’s release late next week. Not only is Marvel planning to use Peter Parker to guide audiences through a human-level look at a changing MCU, but there may be room left open for big changes for Spider-Man himself in the future.

By that, I mean that the groundwork is there for Miles Morales within the MCU/Sony’s Spider-Man franchise, and comics fans know that could mean a brand new Spider-Man at some point in the future, though it feels, at least right now, as though that point is probably still far away. The specifics of that groundwork may be a little spoilery for Homecoming for some of you, though, so do yourself a favor and skip right on past the spoiler bars if you’d like to save the surprise (and haven’t had it spoiled yet)—one of very few surprises it seems we have left in the movie, at this point.

At the Spider-Man: Homecoming press junket, where all this information is flowing from, Marvel’s Kevin Feige briefly talked to Screen Crush about

Feige, famously of a “never say never” attitude, had this to say about whether or not the Morales Connection™ is just an Easter egg:

“All of those little things are just Easter eggs for fans until they’re something more than that. But anything that’s happened in the books is potential material for us. In the meantime, I think Miles is a big part of the animated movie that Sony’s making. But where WE go … we definitely want you to go ‘He’s there. He’s there somewhere.'”

So … yeah, it sounds like the intention was certainly to set up for a Miles Morales storyline on the big screen, even if it is still far away.

Speaking of Easter eggs, here’s one that was accomplished by retcon after fan theories about it: Peter Parker appeared in Iron Man 2. Homecoming star Tom Holland told The Huffington Post that he and Kevin Feige had discussed it, and this kid in Iron Man 2 is officially a young Peter Parker:

While Spider-Man becomes more intertwined with the MCU, though, Sony’s other Spider-efforts probably won’t. Sony is planning Venom and Black Cat movies, but it currently seems as though those characters won’t even have much to do with Spider-Man, let alone the wallcrawler’s MCU crossover. Tom Holland told, “Everyone’s asking this question, man. It’s never happening,” in reference to Venom specifically showing up in his Spider-Man movies.

Though not exactly directly Spider-Man-related, there’s also talk from Feige of the next two Avengers movies being the end of the narrative road for some of the major players in the MCU up to this point. Meanwhile, Homecoming Director John Watts seems like his path is just beginning, as positive reactions to the movie seem to have cemented his return for the sequel, according to Feige and Producer Amy Pascal. For even more tidbits from the press blitz, Newsarama has a rundown for you, with bits about Marissa Tomei’s Aunt May, what Homecoming means for Iron Man, talk about the movie’s diversity just portraying reality, and more, and Monkeys Fighting Robots has extensive video interviews for you to check out.


(image: Marvel Comics)

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Just finished the recent Bad Penny book

Monday, June 26th, 2017 04:26 pm
conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
Two thoughts:

1. The author must have had "agouti" come up in his word-a-day calendar
2. Holy shit that ending. That just came the fuck out of nowhere.
[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

Posted by Kaila Hale-Stern

Twenty years ago, a book went off like a bomb and changed everything.

I was already a voracious fantasy reader and a precocious teenager when Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone—renamed to Sorcerer’s Stone for American audiences who knew nothing of alchemy—hit the best-seller list. Though the book was popular, this was in the time before Harry Potter became a cultural phenomenon and an international powerhouse of a franchise.

I remember, distinctly, firing up my modem and AOL account and searching for Harry-related content and there were maybe three hits on the entire Internet. I remember, to my dismay, trying to build a Harry Potter fan site and giving up when I couldn’t figure out how to make my sorting hat icon auto-sort each visitor. More’s the pity, because other teenage Harry enthusiasts went on to build successful brands of their own from those nascent fan sites. Alas, I was not cut out to run a Leaky Cauldron.

I read Sorcerer’s Stone in one sitting at Barnes & Noble, so enraptured that a bookseller came over to ask if I was okay after I sat unmoving for five hours. This experience would set a precedent going forward: I don’t think there’s a single subsequent Harry Potter book that I didn’t devour through sleepless marathon nights as soon as I got my hands on it.

As the books grew wildly in popularity and began to be followed by the movie adaptations, getting the latest Harry Potter became an event and sometimes a struggle. Bookstores threw parties worldwide where staff and attendees dressed as witches and wizards. We waited in lines that snaked around blocks and blocks, only to be told that that location was sold out. Then we’d head to the next closest bookstore. Sometimes the pilgrimage lasted for hours. There was mad scrambling and joyous triumphant book-clutching and many stuffed owls riding on shoulders. I don’t think I’ll ever see anything like it again.

Those near-yearly parties became a touchstone and a reunion to pass with like-minded friends. My affection for the wizarding world was a bright thread to follow through more than a decade of my young life. I aged alongside Harry &Co. As they began exploring the ups and downs of who to ask to Yule Ball and taking trips into Hogsmeade for frosty mugs of Butterbeer, I graduated high school and went to college and started to attend Harry Potter book release parties for grown-ups where the punch on offer was spiked with (Fire) whiskey.

The books helped me make new friends and I converted old friends to the books. A truly extraordinary element of the Harry Potter series is that they appealed to people who had never before hefted a fantasy novel as much as those of us who grew up making our own magic wands. J.K. Rowling also single-handedly reversed the idea, popular around Harry’s debut, that children and teens had lost interest in reading. She lay the groundwork for the explosion of YA success that came in Harry’s wake—from A Series of Unfortunate Events to Percy Jackson to The Hunger Games and beyond, what had once seemed a risky market now appeared to guarantee a literary blockbuster. The same publishing houses that had famously turned down Rowling’s initial manuscript now scrambled to get their hands into the Christmas pudding.

The first time I sat in a theater and watched Harry Potter come to life on the big screen, I almost burst into tears at the opening theme. It didn’t matter that the first movie wasn’t a work of art. Harry was real now. His world had been embodied. Somewhere there was a set that stood in for Hogwarts. I never stopped searching for manifestations of Harry’s magical world in our own. Visiting London at the age of 15, I went to King’s Cross station and searched determinedly for the space between platforms 9 and 10. At the time there was nothing there to mark that momentous locale. Now, because Harry Potter altered even our physical landscape, there is indication that beyond the wall lies the Hogwarts Express.

(image: Val Vannet)

I was a few years older than the kids and young teens who fully experienced Harry as a way of life, with the movies as much of a focal point as the books. In college, I temporarily dropped out of fandom, and so I missed Harry Potter taking over the Internet, the ship battles as fierce as anything between Death Eaters and the Order of the Phoenix, the fanfiction, fan art, and videos produced in such voluminous quantities it would fill Hogwarts’ library many times over.

Sometimes I regret this absence, but it also kept me in a headspace where the books were mostly untouched by outside argument. Harry remained for me as whole and wondrous as it had been that first day in the bookstore. I studied abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland my junior year, motivated by my interest in British literature and history. But I’d be lying if I didn’t confess to spending many an afternoon at the Elephant House tea and coffeeshop where J.K. Rowling, then a single mother on government benefits, famously wrote much of The Sorcerer’s Stone. Many people who desire to write now seek out The Elephant House, where skeins of blank paper are helpfully provided, in an attempt to soak up some of Rowling’s residual magic. From the cafe’s windows you can see Edinburgh Castle resplendent in the distance and imagine how Hogwarts began to take shape.

The books and movies were still emerging as I became a fully-fledged adult. I developed more of a critical eye but never lost my deep affection for Harry and his world. The last books in the series are a good deal longer and more meandering than their predecessors—for me the high point and finest volume will always be Prisoner of Azkaban—but there’s still no diminishing Rowling’s tremendous achievement and global domination.

There are studies that say the act of reading Harry Potter makes its readers more compassionate towards groups like immigrants and LGBTQIA communities, and that it even instills empathy in children. To date the series has sold 450 million books and been translated into more than 60 languages. The brand Rowling created is worth more than $15 billion dollars and her personal net worth makes her the world’s richest author. Whenever anyone questions the value of writing, I like to point out that Rowling now has more money than the Queen of England.

Through it all Rowling has remained down-to-earth and accessible to her fans. In 2012 Forbes dropped her from their billionaire’s list, citing large and generous charitable contributions that had diminished her fortune. (She has likely since made it up in proceeds from the expanding Fantastic Beasts franchise, the success of the stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, as well as the ever-popular Wizarding Worlds theme parks. I’m hardly the only one who dreams of wandering the streets of Diagon Alley.) Rowling is a regular presence on Twitter, a fierce defender of social justice as well as the world’s most well-known expander of the Harry Potter canon. She frequently releases plot points only known to her before, fleshes out Wizarding family histories, and answers fan questions. She’s made a yearly event of apologizing for the deaths of beloved characters throughout the series. Personally, I can never quite forgive her for the loss of Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, but the apologies are appreciated.

It’s hard to overstate the impact Harry Potter, in all of its myriad manifestations, has had on millions of lives. I have several close friends who cut their teeth in Potter fandom and through those communities found friends, lovers, jobs, even book deals—and from the first Harry pages years ago, perhaps discovered their own personal creativity that might otherwise have gone unexplored. The fact that every new revelation or revision from Rowling continues to spark a furor of international debate demonstrates that even ten years after the publication of the final book, The Deathly Hallows, Harry’s world and the people who inhabit it are still alive for many of us. That I remain disappointed by the epilogue of Deathly Hallows speaks to the profound place these characters carved out in my life. No ending of Harry Potter could truly have satisfied its fans, because Harry Potter is ultimately without end. His text lives and breathes and continues to change and grow, just as we did with him and continue to age accordingly.

Online, fandom and commentary around Harry still flourishes (and blotts). (Sorry.) Gifs, memes, fic, fan films, critical essays, and works of art abound. The debate over the characterization of Severus Snape alone could be printed out to fill volumes longer than the series. And House pride is as fierce and popular as ever, as evidenced by the easter egg Facebook just introduced to celebrate the anniversary that will light up your text of Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, or Ravenclaw in House Colors on your status. It also provides a magical graphic treat when you click on the text.

Recently, I attended a performance of the delightful off-Broadway Puffs with our assistant editor Charline Jao. It was 90 minutes of hilarious Potter in-jokes playing to a packed house, and I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much. Of course, before the show, there was much talk of Houses: Charline identified as a proud Hufflepuff, the kindly House I always figured I’d belonged to as well. But a while back, I took the Pottermore fan site sorting test and was placed into—of all places!—Slytherin. In a panic, I took more and more sorting tests, this time trying to game the system and not choose Slytherin-y answers. Still Slytherin. A greater percentage of Slytherin than before, even. Reader, I was thrown for an existential loop.

But the more I thought and read about it, the more I realized I had many guiding Slytherin characteristics I’d left unexamined: a willingness to break rules and defy authority for the causes that most concerned me. A desire for power over my own life. A fierce ambition. And on and on and on until I couldn’t imagine belonging to any other House but Slytherin. I have a rather lovely badge in my wallet that proves it. Because even in my considerable old age contrasted to the kids who are just now getting their hands on the books, Harry Potter can still change my life. I hope that you’ll share some of the ways that it intersected with your own.

Happy anniversary, Harry.

(images: Warner Bros.)

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Posted by Charline Jao

Warning: Spoilers for My Cousin Rachel

Directed by Roger Michel of Notting Hill and based on the 1951 Daphne du Maurier novel of the same name, My Cousin Rachel is a deep look into the construction of female villainy and the demonization of female independence. As a mid-twentieth century writer revisiting the 19th century, du Maurier played with tropes and archetypes, and in this adaptation, Rachel Weisz as the title character is a sight to behold.

The story begins with Philip, the male protagonist whose perspective is demonstrated in the title. This is his cousin and his story, but we’ll see Rachel break out of it. (I’ll get to that later.) Philip is an orphan raised by his cousin Ambrose, a man he admires and loves like his own father. When Ambrose gets sick, he goes to Italy for the sun (the solution in those times), and writes constantly to Philip.

Ambrose writes that he has fallen in love with their half-Italian cousin Rachel and they marry to his delight. However, after a long absence of letters, Ambrose writes that he’s in danger and Rachel is a scheming, evil woman constantly monitoring him. Though Philip rushes to Italy, Ambrose has already died and the only explanation he receives asserts that his beloved guardian had a brain tumor that changed his temper, fostering paranoia, violence, and irrationality. Philip returns home, not fully believing this explanation—until Rachel shows up at the house.

We’re positioned to hate her for what we suspect she did to Ambrose, though many factors—she gains nothing in his will, the death certificate claims the cause was a brain tumor, and her pleasant personality—all suggests her innocence. However, considering there’s an atonal minor musical theme that follows her everywhere, punctuated by bells, it’s inevitable that Rachel becomes a suspicious figure.

Weisz made a decision about whether her character was guilty or innocent and played it as so, and director Michel apparently “still doesn’t know” the answer. We never find out the truth. While uncovering that mystery is the conflict of the entire film, it’s not the purpose of the story because the film ultimately depends on that ambiguity. Michel fully embraces the novel’s unreliable narrator and uses that male focus for a story that’s constantly shifting villainy—is Rachel really the one we should have been worried about?

A heavily sinister trailer also suggests she’s a dangerous woman, along with other Gothic signifiers like her witch-like talent for brewing tea concoctions, widow-dom, being 16 years older, and Italy. (Any Ann Radcliffe reader knows that nothing good happens in Italy.) She remembers specific details from her time with Ambrose, but claims she can’t be expected to remember everything in other situations. Her contradictions as a character are suspicious to us, yet they’re also the traits of a real human being.

The blue-beard character, the one who murders their spouses one after another is another familiar Gothic trope (one that Guillermo del Toro similarly plays with in Crimson Peak), as is the hidden spouse, and while they aren’t present in My Cousin Rachel the possibility appears when we’re told Rachel keeps sending money away to a mysterious place out of the country. This kind of evil is one that Romantic plots rarely leave unpunished, usually with death.

Constant lingering shots on the tea she brews also place the suggestions of poisoning early on in the film, long before Philip even suspects this (another popular theme, also in Crimson Peak!). This may be an unintentional allusion to the abundant visual misdirections of others du Maurier adaptations like Don’t Look Now, where the camera constantly pauses on certain details—an accessory, a portrait, etc. We’re taught that this means “keep this in mind because it will become important later on,” and yet in these films the objects never return in a significant way.

Rachel barely does anything bad, save for unexplained careless spending, and without the music these could be scenes out of a love story, like the good parts of Far From the Madding Crowd. She does not ask him for anything, and yet, he gives it all to her out of love and a desire to marry. Rachel opens up about how terribly Ambrose treated her when he got ill, putting his hand around her neck and being cruel after a miscarriage. Just as Philip becomes infatuated with her kindness, beauty, and vulnerability, we too begin to doubt the original narrative—but we’ve also been set up to expect some kind of twist.

At his 25th birthday, when he’s meant to inherit the estate, Philip chooses to transfer everything to Rachel and the two have a sexual encounter. He assumes that this means she will marry him, but if she marries anyone that newfound wealth and independence transfers to him. So, Rachel refuses.

It becomes clear at this point that for Philip, marriage is a means of possession and he wants to own Rachel. Her independence and their relationship cannot coexist. The face of kindness and accommodation starts to crack, as he’s visibly shaken by this rejection.

Her constant pleas to Philip about wanting to be a woman making a way in the world and to hold onto her independence unmarried are all fully understandable. It’s something many viewers no doubt rooted for. It seems in these moments that her only villainy is her refusal to give herself over to Philip, to become the romantic heroine that we’ve come to expect from women in 19th century period pieces. In some ways, I found her journey not too different from that of the protagonist of the more light-hearted comedy Love & Friendship, that also centers around a woman who’s learned work within her societal restraints.

We constantly suspect she is doing something sinister, but in not knowing what it is, we’re completely taken aback by the anger and violence that the kind Philip builds up and eventually directs at her. In a case of Gothic doubling, as we’re told Philip looks just like his cousin Ambrose, a similarly abusive situation has replicated itself. We fear for Rachel and empathize with her.

It might be Rachel Weisz’s great acting, because even with the distrust built over a long time I believe her emotional words. Is it Weisz or Rachel that is the talented performer? It’s unclear, but her lament that she left one abusive relationship that started off wonderful justifies her doubt concerning man’s youthful, bright-eyed and infatuated proposal. She’s 16 years older, and knows better.

Many women may recognize this moment. The moment when a previously kind and generous man turns into a violent and dangerous being when not given what he wants. Claflin’s performance was perfect for this. He begins a romantic-ish hero, caring for his family, good to his servants, and even better to Rachel (after some initial rudeness), giving her a home and new life.

His immaturity, naiveness, and lack of experience in the word come across as innocence and earnestness next to Rachel’s learned manners, accommodating nature, and eloquence. From his perspective, it’s Rachel who’s wrong for being too affectionate with a male friend. It’s Rachel who’s wrong for keeping a female friend nearby for safety and not trusting him. It’s Rachel who led him on for showing him affection and having sex with him, while rejecting his marriage proposal.

It’s all Rachel. Despite society insisting that a woman learn all these societal tactics and performance, a woman who does it too well suddenly becomes calculating. It’s why we love our Elizabeth Bennetts, who don’t blend in perfectly with this world (but do so without totally making a spectacle of themselves, like the Kittys and Lydias.)

But after an incident where Philip puts his hands around her neck, just as Ambrose allegedly did, we become heavily aware of just how much the film was aligned to his view. He tries to reassert his love in trying to win her back, speaking softly, lovingly, and increasingly with desperation. However, after outbursts like that there really is no going back as much as he wants to once again be the good romantic. Other films this year with similar figures, like Colossal or even The Beguiled, understand that facade. It understands that Rachel did not make him like this. This is who he has always been.

It’s Rachel fault for not wanting to trust him again? No, It’s Philip who lost that trust. And it’s Philip that kills her at the conclusions, by suggesting she visit a perilous cliff (just go with it, it’s a Gothic story). Does it matter whether Rachel killed Ambrose or not when it comes to condemning Philip? It doesn’t, because his motivations for hurting her are completely unrelated. At the conclusion, he’s married with children, but a headache constantly haunts him as a sort of punishment.

My Cousin Rachel is first presented as a mystery, then a love story, then a tragedy. While the story could have very easily used the shroud that covers Rachel to keep her a mysterious and elusive figure that drives men mad, it instead showed the violence of male entitlement and the unreliability of narrative when we talk about female villainy. It illuminates how we’re trained to see female characters a certain way, and asks us instead to question the male perspective we too often accept as objective.

(image: Fox Searchlight Pictures)

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One bonus of packing up thousands of books

Monday, June 26th, 2017 03:45 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
I finally found out where I misshelved this.

(no idea what review series I can fit it into)

Dumb Calibre/Kobo question

Monday, June 26th, 2017 03:20 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
I can see my Kobo has about 300 more titles on it than my laptop Calibre does (because I got the Kobo well before the laptop). How do I move the titles that are on the Kobo to Calibre?
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
One issue: I really suck at giving people their free reviews. Would appreciate pointers on how to suck less.
turlough: confrontation between Party Poison & Korse (Gerard Way & Grant Morrison), SING video, Oct 2010 ((mcr) you’re here with me)
[personal profile] turlough
Gerard can't find Observation Room 4, and after a few minutes of aimless wandering, and several dirty looks from people he keeps passing over and over, he finally asks someone.

"Korse went that way," the guy answers, before Gerard can get his question all the way out. It makes him a little paranoid that this guy already knows who Gerard is looking for.

"Thanks, Mikey," he says.

"Michael," the guy corrects, and Gerard sees it clearly on the nametag clipped to his shirt.

"Sorry," Gerard says, "I don't know why I -" and then he trails off. The guy stares at him, and scowls. Gerard hurries off in the direction he pointed, and finds Korse, looking at his watch.

"Close the door," Korse says, when Gerard steps into the room. As soon as the door clicks shut behind him, Korse says, "Come here, Gerard."

- [ profile] jjtaylor's Workplace Appropriate Attire

Music meme and gaming

Monday, June 26th, 2017 08:00 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
Day 9 of the (in my case very slow-running) music meme asks for a song that makes you happy. And I have quite a lot of those, making me happy is a big reason I have a music collection at all. I think I'm going to go for Complex person by The Pretenders. The lyrics are not all that cheerful in some ways, but I love the bouncy tune and I always hear this as a song about determination and not letting things get you down.

video embed, actually audio only )

Also I've had a good week for playing games: mostly list with short comments )

Hot in Hellcat Canyon by Julie Anne Long

Monday, June 26th, 2017 06:00 pm
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Posted by Guest Reviewer


Hot in Hellcat Canyon

by Julie Anne Long
May 31, 2016 · Avon
RomanceContemporary Romance

This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by Crystal Anne with an E. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Long Contemporary category.

The summary:

A broken truck, a broken career, and a breakup heard around the world land superstar John Tennessee McCord in Hellcat Canyon. Legend has it that hearts come in two colors there: gold or black. And that you can find whatever you’re looking for, whether it’s love . . . or trouble. JT may have found both in waitress Britt Langley.

His looks might cause whiplash and weak knees, but Britt sees past JT’s rough edge and sexy drawl to a person a lot like her: in need of the kind of comfort best given hot and quick, with clothes off and the lights out.

Her wit is sharp but her eyes and heart—not to mention the rest of her—are soft, and JT is falling hard. But Britt has a secret as dark as the hills, and JT’s past is poised to invade their present. It’s up to the people of Hellcat Canyon to help make sure their future includes a happily ever after.

Here is Crystal Anne with an E's review:

First, let us all enjoy the Post-It notes that I jotted down thoughts on. It was a library book, so no notes in the margins.

I’m not getting hunted down for a librarian for nobody.

Post-Its with a bunch of notes

So I am familiar with the fact that this website loves them some Julie Anne Long, and their effusive love for her has actually caused me to one-click at least two Pennyroyal Green books.

That doesn’t mean I have actually read them yet. #failureasafunctionaladult

That familiarity means that I am aware that she has a reputation for writing really good small town. However, when the Pennyroyal Green series and its attendant corsetry came to an end, she went for contemporaries. Still with the small town, though. What I came to find out is that yes, she does good small town.

So let’s meet our lucky couple, shall we? First we have Britt Langley, a pretty blonde that both waitresses at the local watering hole and works in real estate. She’s very nice, has justifiable pride in a well-developed vocabulary, and has what is literally a pathological impulse to rescue neglected plants. Trigger warning: she also has a history of abuse that has left her both gun-shy in the extreme and she is just now starting to let herself get back into things that she loved and made her happy.

Then we have John Tennessee McCord, who goes by J.T., because that is one hell of a moniker. He is Southern, an actor who is currently on a bit of a career downswing, but he can see a possible upswing in the offing. He’s often funny, absently flirtatious (it’s pretty much second nature to him), got a black belt in his free time (like you do), says some breathtakingly stupid things during the course of the book, and has a grey streak in his hair, because someone thought of me specifically and wanted me to be happy (#silver fox #cometoButthead).

Basically, I spent the whole book picturing Timothy Olyphant’s absurdly handsome face. THANK YOU.

Gif of Timothy Olyphant in a henley shirt, jeans, and a Stetson, with the text Shitload of Swagger

There was nothing particularly new about the structure of the story. Dude walks into bar, dude meets hot lady, they both notice that the other is hot, at least one of them is reluctant to bone, they both decide that boning without a commitment is a thing that they will do, they have the best sexytimes ever, sketchy pasts invade their present, they both realize they caught feelings, someone makes a big gesture, and then declarations of love occur. Seriously, this particular sketch has been A LOT of books. That said, this book makes it work, and while not particularly fresh, it has a lot of things going for it that make it a comforting and engaging read.

Timothy Olyphant saying, Sounds like a love story

First, we have the cast of characters that always comes with the small town. We’ve got a gun-toting granny, a big dumb dude, the ladies who run the local hair place and dress shoppe, and the staff of the watering hole consists of a forever-married couple and the requisite taciturn and temperamental cook that has mad burger skills. Oh, and there’s Sequel Bait. That said, it was pretty clear that all of those characters had rich internal lives (that forever-married couple are into some gentle role-playing, and the big dumb dude makes a conscious choice to not remain dumb), and their interest and delight in the love story that was unfolding in front of them was cute. I also enjoyed some of the Hollywood types that descended onto the town, and by that I mean I liked Franco. He made for an interesting foil in the fact that even though he and J.T. are hyper-competitive, it is clear that most of the negativity is on J.T.’s side.

Then we had the conflict. Most of it is interpersonal and driven by misunderstandings on both sides. Which is fine, I don’t always need a knife-wielding maniac to drive conflict. I had several “Use your freaking words!!” moments. Both characters had had experiences that caused them to not be particularly skilled at relationship building. The book probably would have moved a bit faster had at least one of them just tried to be somewhat straightforward. They both also had the capacity to be astoundingly unreasonable (people, amirite?).

Timothy Olyphant in a Stetson and a busted lip saying, Could you be any more vague

I did like them as a couple, though. When not being close-mouthed to a fault, they both genuinely liked each other and tried to do nice things for the other. One of my favorite parts was when they were both hanging out and decided to trade e-readers so they could read what the other had. I also liked that this couple was a bit older than what one often finds. J.T. is forty, and Britt thirty-two. These were already people that had had lives, and experienced both success and failure. It might be my age (I’m 38), but I’m here for a lived-in character (also, get off my lawn).

There were a few things where, well, I had concerns. At least the first two love scenes took place in weirdly unhygienic locales (I’m not kidding, it is exactly what my Post-It note said). Second, the ex-girlfriend is villainous to the point of ridiculousness. Not a lot of complexity, almost no humor. Also, I’m sorry, I refuse to believe that a successful, skilled actress has never heard of the Greek myth of Persephone, nor do I believe that a guy that clearly enjoys reading and learning would have tolerated her for very long.

In all, I enjoyed the book, and will probably seek out more of Long’s work. As I said, I can live with the fact that there was a formula when the writing of the formula is good. Chocolate cake comes from a formula, too, and I am always here for a good piece of cake. Also, any book that makes me picture Timothy Olyphant for 374 pages is going to engender a general fondness.

Nice solid B+

Oh what a gorgeous day

Monday, June 26th, 2017 01:19 pm
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
[personal profile] elainegrey
On the back porch because it's a California like day with low humidity, mild temperatures, and blue blue skies. Hmm, i could probably dry the towel load outside today.

The weekend was pleasantly spent. The local library seems to have switched to Overdrive for eBooks (or i found their Overdrive link) so i did some casual reading. We had a pleasant bit of thrift shopping after a late brunch out on Saturday. There was a fellow selling Adirondack-ish furniture at the circle in Pittsboro, and we finally stopped and asked after the pieces. We've been talking about a bench for the back glade

I made tamales, which i was certain were failures but were, actually, just fine. The Great Northern beans turned out ok despite using the "rapid soak" shortcut. The pickled peppers i put in the squash weren't too hot (indeed, perhaps a bit bland). The amount of salty veggie bullion in the masa was not really noticeable after cooking. The masa wasn't stale, even though my nose kept saying it was.

One thing i wasn't worried about was that i used processed coconut oil instead of the traditional lard. (I didn't fluff it up first, though.) It's the first time i've used coconut oil: it seems like a lovely replacement for the Crisco i grew up with. And then there's the thought of tropical tamales made with unprocessed coconut oil. Fish filling? It's been ages since i made tamales: i should do it again soon.

Meeting for Business did not need a lunch dish -- or such was asserted. Never trust someone who thinks their meeting agenda is short. I drove home pondering how i would clerk at this meeting. I was quite hungry when i got home.

I harvested the russet potatoes. There was a little wireworm damage, and they weren't as big as grocery store potatoes, but there's a good pile. I'm a little disappointed because i will need to use these damaged ones earlier instead of letting them keep. (I probably cleaned them all up too well, too. I know the advice says let the dirt dry and brush it off, but i want to see the pretties!)
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Posted by Vivian Kane

When Ivanka Trump was named an official White House employee back in March, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense. I mean, it made perfect sense in terms of the self-serving nepotism this administration runs on. But as for actual qualifications for being hired into a high-ranking position with at least great theoretical power? Not as much. Despite having no experience in anything even tangentially related to politics, Trump and her husband Jared Kushner are official advisers to the president.

So how does she advise on something she knows nothing about? An interview with Fox & Friends’ (of course) Ainsley Earhardt has finally provided a sort-of answer: she doesn’t! She told Earhardt, “I don’t profess to be a political savant so I leave the politics to other people.”

Cool. Cool cool cool. Except that’s, you know, literally her job. To advise. On politics.

As usual, an Ivanka Trump interview leaves us with more questions than answers. When asked point blank what she discusses with her father, she answers only, “a plethora of things!” Okay, but like what? Well, she and her father are “different people, so there are areas where [they] disagree.” No, Ivanka, we’re really asking. What do you talk about? What is your job? What do you do?

“I think it’s normal to not have 100% aligned viewpoints on every issue,” she says. “I think that would be a very strange scenario.” Um, yes, we agree. No one thinks you should or would agree with you dad about everything. In fact, we’re hoping you don’t. Ivanka keeps selling herself as the advisor who can make her father listen, and people are onboard for that. But she has yet to prove she actually gives him anything to listen to, ever. Instead, she appears only to exist as an empty, fake-progressive, fake-feminist figurehead meant to assuage her father’s tyrannical homophobic, xenophobic, racist, misogynistic agenda. And she’s right, that is a very strange scenario.

Trump says that while she does disagree with her father, all the negativity is just too much. Because of course “It’s much easier to criticize than to dive in and effect change.” So instead, she likes to focus “on areas where I can add positive value.” She says she’s “more interested in being for something than against something.” Apparently White House adviser and bumper sticker slogan writer are the same job now.

She does finally list some of those subjects she likes to focus on: workforce development, policies that allow working families to “thrive,” helping veterans, and addressing the nation’s opioid problem.

And yet then in the very next breath, she made that statement that she tries to “stay out of ‘politics.'” And yes, she used air quotes around “politics.” Which I guess is why all those issues she just mentioned are being trampled by her father. Who, by the way, she was asked to grade on his performance. Obviously (her word) she gave her dad an A. An A on his Muslim travel ban; an A on his cuts to veterans’ benefits; an A for undermining advancements made in LGBTQIA rights. An A all around.

So, I suppose the question is still on the table. Ivanka Trump, what do you actually do?

(image: screengrab, Fox)

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updates and stuff

Monday, June 26th, 2017 01:17 pm
illusion_is_mine: (Siouxsie)
[personal profile] illusion_is_mine
Well I'm still a bit sick from last week, but I'm recovering. I went to pick up some of my meds today at the store, and pick up a few things. My sister went to Vegas over the weekend, and her facebook posts imply that she had a blast. It makes me look forward to our upcoming trip to Panama even more. I believe I've gotten everything I'll need as far as luggage, clothes, and other things I'll be taking on the trip.

I called about my student loans which I've been having trouble paying, and they informed me that they wouldn't actually help me until my account was behind for 15 days which is ridiculous.  It's a shame they want you to get behind, and be in trouble before they will help you.  I guess I'll just have to do that.  I'll probably just pay what I can, and when they call hopefully they can lower my interest rates, and payments for those particular loans.  Sigh...

I've been trying to avoid going outside anymore today because my dad is mowing the lawn, and allergies are no joke. As far as other things go I've been playing a few games. Mainly Persona 5, Chrono Trigger, God of War, Batman: Arkham Knight, and Metro 2033 Redux. Apparently Metro is based on a book of the same name, and the story is a bit sad. It's a survival horror game so avoided playing it the few days I was really sick since my reflexes weren't too great. I also bought a digital copy of Resident Evil 5 for pretty cheap on PSN.

Well that's it for now. Here's a song of some music I've been digging lately. I've been on a huge Depeche Mode kick lately since I picked up their "Ultra" album. That bassline tho! <3

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Posted by Teresa Jusino

Obviously, when you think DC Bombshells, you think powerful, badass, beautiful female heroes in brilliantly-designed costumes. However, there are totally dudes in the Bombshells universe, too. And now, for the first time, one of them is getting a DC Bombshells statue all his own! DC Collectibles’ first solo-male Bombshells statue is none other than the King of Atlantis himself: Aquaman!

DC Collectibles has provided us with a DC Bombshells Aquaman statue, which debuts this week, to give away to one lucky reader. Here are the specs:

On sale now (last week of June)
MSRP: $125
Height: 11.26 inches
Designed by Ant Lucia
Sculpted by Jack Mathews

I’m really digging those pants, and I love the tats, especially the Mera tattoo! And speaking of the First Lady of Atlantis:

DC Collectibles isn’t sending Aquaman to our winner alone! They are also providing a Mera bust as part of an ocean theme package celebrating Aquaman’s release. Here are the specs on this gorgeous Mera bust:

Mera Bust:
On sale now
MSRP: $60.00
Height: 6.47 inches
Designed by Emanuela Lupacchino (Bombshells variant cover month)
Sculpted by Jack Mathews

Want to give these beautiful statues a home? Enter to win! ONE winner will receive BOTH statues. All you have to do is be sure you’re following us on Twitter (so we can DM you if you win!) and tweet the following in its entirety with no alterations:

I’m entering @TheMarySue’s #DCBombshells giveaway because I <3 #Aquaman & #Mera, the #FirstCoupleOfTheOcean!

This giveaway is limited to people in the US and CANADA only (but if US/Canadian residents want to help out overseas friends by entering for them and taking on the shipping, we won’t judge). You have until this Friday, June 30th at 6:00PM EST to enter, and we will alert our winner after that. Good luck!

For more information on the entire DC Bombshells collection, visit!

(image: DC Collectibles)

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Posted by Charline Jao

The main story for yesterday’s Last Week Tonight was vaccines. Specifically, where these big fears regarding vaccines are, why they’re so persistent, and the consequences of these skeptics.

So how did vaccines go from being celebrated for their success, to a conversation dominated small skeptical small groups that now have the voice of Donald Trump (“Tiny children are not horses,” he tweets) similarly raising doubts?

Oliver points to the abundance of information that parents are constantly overwhelmed with, saying “While it is important to remember that most parents are making sure their children get vaccinated on time, the voices of those who don’t carry.” Their nervousness, in some ways, is understandable. Hopefully, this Last Week Tonight segment might help amend that. Because the number are getting “startlingly high” and putting children in very real and severe danger.

The host tackles the persistent myth that vaccines are linked to autism (something we’ve covered here and here), the flawed science behind anti-vaccine figures across the political spectrum, and the language of “I’m not anti-vaccine, but…” That rhetoric, Oliver says, gives attention to a lot of non-problems and he gives viewers a crash course on how science works.

For instance, “turning it around” and demanding that scientists prove a negative is ridiculous, which the host illustrates with a “Prove you’re not a donkey-fucker” jokes. See how stupid you sound now? “Science can be at a real disadvantage in this debate,” explains Oliver, “because they, by nature, are careful in how they present their conclusions.” Unlike some people.

Oliver is careful to address that there are problems with big Pharma, something the show has covered in the past. He anticipates comments that accuse the show of not looking into every single argument, but likens the conversation to Whack-a-Mole. “The problem with spending more and more time and money trying to prove that link is that it takes resources away from studying actual causes and treatments,” he says, “it’s like that Einstein quote you sometimes see on the internet.”

The host also addresses the “alternative vaccine schedule,” the infectiousness of measles, and the fact that not vaccinating your children isn’t a personal decision for your own family. It’s a decision that will put other lives at risk.

“It’s easy to forget the benefits of vaccines are enormous” Oliver says, suggesting we should talk about the positives more than the untrue or unlikely negatives. The host ends by opening up about his son and the many fears that plague parenthood. “He was born prematurely following a very difficult pregnancy and I’ve worried about his health and I still worry about his health a lot,” he shares, “but we are vaccinating him fully on schedule and if I can overcome the temptation to listen to the irrational shouting of my terrified lizard brain, then I believe everyone can.”

(image: screencap)

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Posted by Dan Van Winkle

Nintendo’s NES Classic Edition was a big hit during the last holiday season, quickly selling out and making scalpers tons of money. Shortly thereafter, rumors sprung up that Nintendo, encouraged by that success, was already working on a Super NES version for the following year. The all-but-inevitable has now come to pass with the official announcement of the Super NES Classic Edition.

Like the NES version before it, the Super NES Classic comes with a set of preloaded SNES games and is capable of outputting them in high definition for your modern viewing pleasure. Compared to the 30 games on the NES edition, the SNES Classic’s 21-game library is a bit smaller, but it’s packing an unexpected surprise: the previously unreleased Star Fox 2, the sequel to the SNES original. If that’s not already enough for you, here’s the rest of the game lineup:

• Contra III: The Alien Wars
• Donkey Kong Country
• EarthBound
• Final Fantasy III
• Kirby Super Star
• Kirby’s Dream Course
• The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
• Mega Man X
• Secret of Mana
• Star Fox
• Star Fox 2
• Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting
• Super Castlevania IV
• Super Ghouls ’n Ghosts
• Super Mario Kart
• Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
• Super Mario World
• Super Metroid
• Super Punch-Out!!
• Yoshi’s Island

In the press release, Nintendo of America Senior VP of Sales and Marketing Doug Bowser (yes, really) pitched the SNES Classic not only as nostalgic, but also as a great opportunity for younger games who never got to experience some of these classics. I’d like to take this time to point out that it’s also a great opportunity for gamers who came down on the Sega Genesis side of the storied ’90s console war to go back and see what they might have been missing (speaking from personal experience).

The SNES classic is a bit more expensive at $79.99 to the NES Classic’s $59.99, but you won’t notice the difference while you’re paying $500 on eBay. Happy hunting when the new mini retro console hits store shelves on September 29!

(image: Nintendo)

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Posted by Charline Jao

Okja comes out on Netflix this week, and it’s one of Netflix’s best original films. This isn’t a huge surprise, considering it’s directed by Bong Joon Ho of The Host and Snowpiercer and has a phenomenal cast, but I was taken back by how skillfully the film blends genre. Okja has all the sensibility of a great Bong film, different emotional landscapes, black humor, and a monster-like creature.

However, it’s also his first film that puts a child at the center and Ahn Seo-hyun does a fantastic job as a brave protagonist ready to take on anything for her friend. I’d mention that while the film focuses on a child’s perspective and I referenced Totoro, this is not a movie I’d suggest watching with your child as includes lots of references and portrayals of animal violence and abuse. If you’re looking to convert someone to vegetarianism though, this is your movie. That’s not to say it’s a preachy film about animal rights and veganism, as you’ll enjoy this story even if those are causes you’re subscribed to. The movie is invested in these conversations, but it’s also that—a conversation.

The story begins with a U.S. company called the Mirando Corporation, run by Lucy Mirando played by Tilda Swinton. Mirando claims that they’ve discovered a new breed of super-pigs that grow to be gigantic, and will be the future of eating meat in a more environmentally sustainable way. In a promotion, they’ve sent a super-pig to different farmers around the world in a competition to raise the biggest super-pig. One of those pigs goes to Korea, and is raised as the gentle Okja with Mija and her grandfather.

The story than takes a journey to mountains up in Korea, where Mija, Okja, and her grandfather live off the land. The way Okja interacts with the environment is gorgeous, and it wasn’t surprising when director Hong and Swinton mentioned that they were huge fans of Miyazaki and would sing the Totoro theme on set. The scenes in Korea with the young actress and Okja set up the friendship, familiarity, and love between the two, making viewers understand what a life the two have built together along Mija’s grandfather.

But, as many films do, the conflict of the story begins with a loss as Okja is taken away by the Mirando corporation and prepared to be shipped off to New Jersey. While shortlived, these early scenes make us realize exactly why Mija fights for Okja in so many dangerous situations. Her desperation to protect her best friend is clear in the way she’ll recklessly jump onto trucks, break windows, and flies across the country.

I really did adore the premise that resulted in the plot being a mix of Korea and the United States, as it makes sense within the plot and doesn’t feel forced the way that some Hollywood films films decide to, say, include China simply for the viewership appeal. In fact, it works even better than if, say, the plot were only contained within one country (I’m looking at you Willy Wonka. Chocolates all around the world and all you get are white English-speaking children? I’m calling bullshit).

Bong’s goal was to make a film that “transcends ethnicity and borders,” and Okja accomplishes this with generous character development. The story has three main groups at war, there’s Mirando Corporation, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), and Mija. While lots of these characters are outrageous and larger-than-life, Bong never fails to give them all some kind of emotional core and meaningful motive. Mirando’s main goal is to take Okja away, but there’s also a second layer of internal conflict where Mirando as CEO is pushing against a terrible family legacy with terrible, but more hidden, methods.

Also part of Mirando is Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, who is absolutely terrifying. He plays Dr. Johnny Wilcox, a celebrity animal personality that feels like someone decided cross the Joker with Steve Irwin. One part unstable mad scientist and another part performer dependent on public adoration, Gyllenhaal disappears into the role the way the talented actor always does.

The ALF, led by Paul Dano’s character, includes Lily Collins, Steven Yeun, Daniel Henshall, and Devon Bostick. While their immediate goal is to destroy Mirando, there’s also varying views within their group about how their love of all living things translates into action. The portrayal of the ALF humorously stereotypical at times, but compelling in its own way. Dano’s character has both a deep and convincing love for every living thing on earth, combined with an occasionally terrifying amount of conviction for his moral code. His evolving protectiveness and respect fir Mija was one of my favorite part of the film. Steven Yeun’s character is occasionally a bit too eager, resulting in laughs, and Lily Collin’s a tough advocate, resulting in cheers.

Finally, there’s Mija who just wants to return to the mountains with Okja, a plan that becomes complicated through the interference of Mirando and the ALF. The duo-language of the script and movement between countries feels fluid and organic, and should be an example going forward of how to approach such a plot. One trope that sometimes irks me is the “foreign character speaks in different language and everyone magically understands,” because language differences or culture clashes are great opportunities for storytelling. In this case, Okja fully embraces that opportunity and uses it for scenes involving deception, emotional impact, and isolation.

Okja comes to Netflix June 28th. Definitely give it a watch!

(image: Netflix)

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Historical Romances, Plus an Entangled Sale

Monday, June 26th, 2017 03:30 pm
[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by Amanda

The Soldier’s Scoundrel

The Soldier’s Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian is $1.99! This is a gay historical romance with class differences, which readers seemed to really love in terms of the pairing. However, other reader mention having some problems with the book’s pacing. It has a 4-star rating on Goodreads. You can also grab The Lawrence Browne Affair for $1.99!

A scoundrel who lives in the shadows

Jack Turner grew up in the darkness of London’s slums, born into a life of crime and willing to do anything to keep his belly full and his siblings safe. Now he uses the tricks and schemes of the underworld to help those who need the kind of assistance only a scoundrel can provide. His distrust of the nobility runs deep and his services do not extend to the gorgeous high-born soldier who personifies everything Jack will never be.

A soldier untarnished by vice

After the chaos of war, Oliver Rivington craves the safe predictability of a gentleman’s life-one that doesn’t include sparring with a ne’er-do-well who flouts the law at every turn. But Jack tempts Oliver like no other man has before. Soon his yearning for the unapologetic criminal is only matched by Jack’s pleasure in watching his genteel polish crumble every time they’re together.

Two men only meant for each other

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A Bride in the Bargain

A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist is 79c at Amazon and 99c at other vendors! Gist is a bit of an auto-buy author for some. This is an American historical and Inspirational romance, though there does seem to be some debate on shelving it as “Inspirational” on Goodreads. Readers say that though what little and tame sexual content is in the book, there is plenty of sexual tension. It has a 4.1-star rating on Goodreads.

In 1860s Seattle, a man with a wife could secure himself 640 acres of timberland. But because of his wife’s untimely death, Joe Denton finds himself about to lose half of his claim. Still in mourning, his best solution is to buy one of those Mercer girls arriving from the East. A woman he’ll marry in name but keep around mostly as a cook.

Anna Ivey’s journey west with Asa Mercer’s girls is an escape from the griefs of her past. She’s not supposed to be a bride, though, just a cook for the girls. But when they land, she’s handed to Joe Denton and the two find themselves in a knotty situation. She refuses to wed him and he’s about to lose his land. With only a few months left, can Joe convince this provoking–but beguiling–easterner to be his bride?

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The Highland Duke

The Highland Duke by Amy Jarecki is $1.99! This is the first book in the Lords of the Highlands series, and features some forced proximity and the heroine who heals the hero. Readers loved the blend of action and romance, though some found the plot a little unbelievable. It has a 3.8-star rating on Goodreads.

She’ll put her life on the line for him . . .

When Akira Ayres finds the brawny Scot with a musket ball in his thigh, the healer has no qualms about doing whatever it takes to save his life. Even if it means fleeing with him across the Highlands to tend to his wounds while English redcoats are closing in. Though Akira is as fierce and brave as any of her clansmen, even she’s intimidated by the fearsome, brutally handsome Highlander who refuses to reveal his name.

Yet she can never learn his true identity.

Geordie knows if Akira ever discovers he’s the Duke of Gordon, both her life and his will be forfeit in a heartbeat. The only way to keep the lass safe is to ensure she’s by his side day and night. But the longer he’s with her, the harder it becomes to think of letting her go. Despite all their differences, despite the danger-he will face death itself to make her his . . .

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Playing By Her Rules

Playing By Her Rules by Amy Andrews is 99c! This is a sports contemporary romance with a rugby-playing hero and second chance romance. Be warned, the book is a little on the short side, but 99c isn’t a bad price to give it a shot. But many loved the slow burn of the second chance romance between the hero and heroine. This is part of a huge Entangled sale with books priced at 99c!

In this grudge match, the first to score…

When style columnist Matilda Kent accidentally lets slip that she was once involved with the captain of the Sydney Smoke rugby team, she suddenly finds herself elevated to the position she’s always wanted – feature writer. The catch? She’s stuck doing a six-part series on her ex. Still, there’s no way she can turn down a promotion…or the chance to dish the dirt on the guy who so callously broke her heart.

…could win it all!

Tanner Stone wants to be involved in a feature series about as much as he wants to snap an Achilles. But the thought of seeing Tilly again is a bonus—and has him more worked up than he wants to admit. Only he’s not prepared for how different she is – all cool and professional. His Tilly is still in there, though…and he still wants her, now more than ever. All he has to do is charm her into giving him a rematch. And this time, winner takes all!

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conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
Comment here and he'll get you in touch. You gotta pick them up in Kitchener, though - at this point, I doubt she'll lug them to the post office to mail them, even if you promise to pay shipping and your firstborn.

(no subject)

Monday, June 26th, 2017 08:49 am
ironymaiden: (Default)
[personal profile] ironymaiden
Facebook sent me a birthday notification for a deceased friend today.

Free comic book collection

Monday, June 26th, 2017 11:34 am
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
There is an interested party. Will update if this changes.

Jasmine's closets are filled with the late MV's comic collection. She's been trying to find home for the 30 cartons of comics for the last decade. If anyone would like them, they are free for the picking up (in bulk, not piece meal. Sorry.).

If she cannot find a taker in the next week, they are going out to recycling.

Please contact me here or at jdnicoll at panix dot com for more details.

Clarification: you can take individual boxes if you like. You just cannot take individual issues.

Two Concerts

Monday, June 26th, 2017 09:48 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
I attended concerts on Saturday night and Sunday night.

Saturday was Night Music, playing the following on period instruments with a pick-up choir for the last two pieces:
Mozart: Divertimento, K. 138
Mozart: Oboe Quartet, K. 370
Joseph Haydn: Trio, Hob XI:80
Michael Haydn, Divertimento for oboe, viola, and violone, MH 179
Mozart: Ave Verum Corpus, K. 618
Mozart: Te Deum, K. 141

I've memorized "Ave Verum Corpus," but never sung K. 141, so I really enjoyed hearing that. My favorite was K. 370, terrifyingly virtuosic for the oboe, full of moments of WTF amazement.

Sunday was Arcana New Music Ensemble, performing:
Oliver Messiaen: Le traquet stapazin (no. 4 of Catalogue d'oiseaux)
Franco Donatoni: Fili
John Cage: Two
John Cage: Aria
Kenneth Amis: Interludes I-IV
Stefan Wolpe: Quartet for Trumpet, Tenor Saxophone, Percussion and Piano

My favorite was the Donatoni, requiring incredible virtuosity on the flute; my least favorite was Cage's "Two," which mostly made me aware of how people can't sit still and listen to silence. The vocal soloist for Cage's "Aria" was terrific, and I'd never heard that piece live before. I also loved the Amis Interludes, short sets of repetitive phrases from the four voices, overlapping and echoing, exactly the sort of thing I love to listen to deeply. Alas, I was tired by the end and the Wolpe mostly blew right through me, so I'm not sure if I would have liked it or not.

Next up, I need to think about tickets for next year's season for the various local groups.
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Posted by Casey Griffin and Nina Nesseth

Forget lizards — Kira’s looking to mice to learn more about her biology.

Welcome to our Orphan Black science recaps, where Casey, a graduate student in genetics and developmental biology, and Nina, a professional science communicator, examine the science in each episode of OB and talk you through it in (mostly) easy-to-digest terms.

If you haven’t watched the latest episode of Orphan Black, be forewarned: there will be spoilers. There will also be crazy science.

Nina: Remember in season one when Kira got hit by a car and was … fine?

Casey: Well it turns out that wasn’t just a stroke of luck. There is something special about the offspring of Leda clones in that they can self-heal at a pretty fast rate. Kira managed to heal from getting hit by a car in the time it took to get to the hospital and Helena’s baby healed itself after impalement by the time Helena awoke from surgery. It definitely seems like this has something to do with the synthetic sequences in the Leda genome.

Nina: Rachel says herself that she thinks it must come down to something in Kira’s genes (and Kira confirms that Cosima thinks so, too).

Casey: Why would Helena’s babies be of even more interest to Rachel and Neolution than Kira? Well, simply put, they are still in utero, and there are many tissues associated with the fetus and the placenta that contain stem cells that would be of interest to those wishing to study the children’s genomes. While things like cord blood and placental tissue aren’t ever-lasting, they can provide an excellent basis for Neolutionists to begin experimentation. And as the kids grow, they will continue to provide usable samples such as their baby teeth, making them a much more viable source of material than Kira.

Nina: As for Kira … Rachel gifts her with a mouse. As if it isn’t a symbolic enough gift to give Kira the moment she becomes part of Rachel’s experiment, this isn’t any ordinary laboratory mouse: it’s an African spiny mouse (Acomys sp.). As Rachel describes, the spiny mouse has the ability to regenerate skin and fur, not to mention glands, and some cartilage and fatty tissue, but not muscle, without forming any scar tissue (scar tissue doesn’t have glands or hair follicles). Even though it’s practically unheard of in mammals, this sort of regeneration is more common in other types of animals, like salamanders, echinoderms (like starfish!) and lizards. And not to contradict Rachel, but the regeneration process isn’t all that mysterious.

Let’s say a lizard with tissue regeneration traits has its tail cut off. Within hours cells gather at the injury site to generate a blastema. A blastema is a mass of cells with the ability to generate or regenerate tissue.These cells have a sort of “memory” of their tissue of origin. As the blastema forms, specific genes become activated. These form a group of genes responsible for directing the body plan in a developing embryo (namely, Hox genes), and when they’re activated in the case of regeneration, their job is the same: to guide where a specific body part should develop (so that they replace a missing tail with a new tail and not, say, a foot). As the new tail develops, new muscle tissue, nerve tissue, and blood vessels develop with it and reconnect to existing muscle tissue, nerve tissue, and blood vessels at the site of injury. And voilà! a functional, regrown replacement.

As Sarah rightly says back in season one: her daughter is not a lizard. But studies have shown that the mechanism for the spiny mouse’s tissue regeneration is probably very similar. The spiny mouse likely developed its ability as a defence mechanism, much like some lizards drop their tails to escape predators. Its skin is reportedly 20 times weaker than your average mouse’s, so it tears really easily.

Kira, like her mum, seems to be made of tougher stuff.

Like our science recaps? We wrote The Science of Orphan Black—the official science companion for the show! Coming August 2017; available for pre-order now.

Casey Griffin is a graduate student in genetics and developmental biology. She obsesses over the blood-brain barrier, plays around with frog embryos, and nerds (and cries and screams) about Orphan Black. You can check out her OB Science Time Tumblr posts here.

Nina Nesseth is a professional science communicator, writer, and serial tea-drinker. She’s happiest when science-ing at people (yes, that’s “science” as a verb). You can find her on Twitter @cestmabiologie.

—Please make note of The Mary Sue’s general comment policy.—

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Posted by Dan Van Winkle

We’ve still got almost a year to go before Avengers: Infinity War kicks off the fated battle with Thanos that’s been building for the entire run of Marvel movies, but the Marvel braintrust has already hashed out how the connected universe’s next “phase” will begin—a necessity with so many interconnected parts. Details of what phase 4 will be like will likely remain under wraps for some time, with the MCU likely going through some unusually big changes, but we know one thing for sure: Spider-Man will help introduce us to the rearranged MCU.

Speaking to io9, Marvel’s Kevin Feige explained that it’s no coincidence that the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming is set to debut almost back-to-back—a relatively short two months later—with the fourth Avengers movie in 2019. Bringing the wallcrawler back into the Marvel fold will serve to ground things for viewers as Peter Parker comes to terms with a wild summer of battles with cosmic villains, just like the rest of us:

“So much happens in [the 3rd and 4th Avengers movies], as you can imagine, and so much is affected by it that we felt what better person to hold your hand and lead you into the next incarnation of the MCU, in a grounded, realistic manner, than Peter Parker? So, coming out two months after Untitled Avengers, [that’s what] much of what the next Spider-Man film will be about.”

Feige went on to say that this has all been baked into how Peter’s solo movies will each take on a year of his high school career, with his junior year showcasing how the world is changing in phase 4, much like Spider-Man: Homecoming deals with a post-Civil War world and a plot involving technology salvaged from the Avengers’ battles. We’ll see how this method of using Peter Parker to put the MCU in an everyday human perspective pays off in just over a week when Spider-Man: Homecoming debuts on July 7.

(via /Film, image: Sony, featured image: Marvel Entertainment)

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About Bypassing

Monday, June 26th, 2017 06:21 am
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Posted by (Velveteen Rabbi)

Spiritual-bypassingA few days ago I mentioned spiritual bypassing in my commentary on a short Hasidic text. A few of you reached out to me after that post went out, asking for more about spiritual bypassing: what it it, how can you recognize it, why is it important. 

For a basic introduction, here's a good article by Dr. Ingrid Mathieu: Beware of Spiritual Bypass. Dr. Robert Masters also offers a great essay about bypassing, calling it Avoidance in holy drag. His book Spiritual Bypassing is a classic in my field, and with good reason.

Spiritual bypassing is a defense mechanism in which one uses spirituality in order to avoid uncomfortable or painful feelings. Maybe one wants to avoid anger, or grief, or loss, or boundaries. So instead of feeling that anger (or grief, or loss, or boundary, or whatever the thing in question may be), one papers it over, and calls the papering-over "spiritual." 

(The image illustrating this post is a great example of spiritual bypassing in pop culture: Princess Unikitty from the LEGO movie. She's a sparkling rainbow unicorn, and she over-focuses on the positive, refusing to acknowledge anything that hurts... until she reaches her breaking point, whereupon all the negativity she denied herself causes her to boil over in rage. Image via Stephanie Lin.)

It's easy to mis-use spirituality to justify avoidance of things that are painful or uncomfortable, like anger or conflict or boundaries. But this is not spiritually healthy, even though it disguises itself as spiritual. It is a spiritual sickness, disguised as spiritual health.

Authentic spiritual life calls us to experience what is: all of what is. And that includes the things we tend to categorize as "dark" or negative: pain, sorrow, loss, rejection, grief. (I wrote about that recently in my review of Barbara Brown Taylor's Learning to Walk in the Dark.) 

The Jewish mystical tradition describes God via a series of qualities that exist in holy balance, such as chesed (lovingkindness) and gevurah (boundaries / strength / judgment). When someone leans so far toward chesed that they reject its healthy balancing with gevurah, that's spiritual bypassing.

When a spiritual leader serving a community where there has been abuse (whether sexual, emotional, ethical, spiritual, or all of the above) ignores the abuse, or urges community members to rush to healing before there has been justice for the abused, that's spiritual bypassing.

When someone doesn't want to feel angry, or isn't comfortable with conflict, so they over-focus on sweetness and light while sweeping their anger under the rug (or encouraging others to sweep anger under the rug), that's spiritual bypassing.

When someone doesn't want to be constrained by someone else's interpersonal or systemic boundary, so they transgress it while convincing themselves that the boundary really shouldn't apply to them anyway, that's spiritual bypassing.

In all of these instances, the quality that's chosen for over-focus -- whether it be healing, or sweetness, or lovingkindness -- is in and of itself a good quality. That's part of the challenge: everyone likes healing and sweetness and lovingkindness, right? But these qualities are only healthy when they're used honestly, authentically, and safely -- and, as the Hasidic text I translated last week suggests, when they're in appropriate balance with qualities like judgment and healthy boundaries.

If I pursue healing at someone else's expense, then that healing is not only false but damaging. If I pursue pleasantries in an abusive context instead of naming the abuse for what it is, then my sweetness is not only false but also complicit in the abuse. If I disregard someone's boundaries because I think I should be exempt from their rules, then my "love" will cause hurt.

Even gratitude, the middah (quality) to which I most often gravitate, can be used in spiritual bypassing. When faced with trauma or grief, if I leap too quickly to "let me find something to be grateful for so I don't have to feel this thing that hurts," then the gratitude practice that's such a core part of my spiritual life becomes a tool for bypassing the thing I need to actually feel.

Spiritual bypassing is what Reb Zalman z"l used to call "whipped cream on garbage:" a sweet topping disguising something rotten underneath.

Spiritual bypassing pretends to make things better, but it actually makes them worse. If a wound is infected, then suturing it and simply hiding the infection will not help the infection to heal. If a relationship is abusive, then pretending that it's healthy will not help the person who is being abused. (For that matter, it also doesn't help the abuser to name and recover from their own trauma.) Spiritual bypassing does serious damage to people and communities.

Authentic spiritual life calls us to feel what we feel, even when what we feel is uncomfortable or painful. Authentic spiritual life calls us to speak truth, even when we'd rather pretend there are no difficult truths to be spoken. Authentic spiritual life calls us to pursue justice, even when we'd rather imagine that if we close our eyes to injustice it will simply go away on its own. 

Any spiritual leader who claims otherwise is not worthy of the title. 


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