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Posted by Marykate Jasper

The Trump administration is trying to use court delays to force a young woman to either continue her pregnancy – or leave the United States.

A 17-year-old girl, who has chosen to go by the name Jane Doe (J.D.), fled her home country in Central America (also unidentified at her request) and crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas. She was undocumented, and is currently being held at a detention center in Brownsville, Texas in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Upon arriving in the United States, she discovered she was pregnant after a medical exam, and sought to procure an abortion.

She went through all the required steps, obtaining the judicial waiver that is mandated by Texas law, and acquiring a guardian ad litem who will transport her to the clinic and cover the cost of the procedure. However, the government will not release her to the clinic get her abortion, claiming that it has a policy of “refusing to facilitate” abortions for undocumented minors and “promot[ing] child birth and fetal life.”

HHS was willing, however, to drive Jane Doe to a religious counseling center which pressured her to continue her pregnancy.

On October 18, a court ordered HHS to immediately release Jane Doe to procure her abortion, but the government appealed to a Washington, D.C. court. Now, the latest ruling on that appeal has given the government yet another flimsy excuse to delay Jane Doe’s abortion. The appeals court declared that HHS has, as the ACLU summarized, “until October 31 to find a sponsor and release Jane Doe to that sponsor. If HHS cannot find a suitable sponsor in that time frame, the court’s order states that the lower court may re-enter its order requiring the government to release her for an abortion, but that order would be subject to appeals.”

The assigning of a sponsor would give HHS a way around the “refusing to facilitate” issue. If Jane Doe can be released from the detention center to a sponsor, then the government would no longer be arguably “facilitating” the abortion. However, the government has been unable to find a sponsor thus far, and it is unlikely they’ll find a new one in the next 11 days.

Jane Doe is already 15 weeks pregnant. Texas does not allow abortions after 20 weeks. Every delay brings her closer to that limit – a limit I’m sure the government intends to force her past.

While two of the three judges on the Washington, D.C. appeals court ruled for HHS, Judge Patricia Millett dissented strongly from the decision. I urge you to read her full dissent, but the below excerpt captures just how vile and outrageous the behavior of HHS is.

“The government does not dispute—in fact, it has knowingly and deliberately chosen not to challenge—J.D.’s constitutional right to an abortion,” reads her dissent. “The government instead says that it can have its contractor keep J.D. in what the government calls ‘close’ custody—that is, more restrictive conditions than the contractor imposes on the non-pregnant minors in its care—because of the agency’s own supervening judgment that it would be in J.D.’s best interests to carry the pregnancy to term. If she wants an abortion, the government continues, she must surrender all legal claims to remain in the United States and return to the country of her abuse. That is wrong and that is unconstitutional.” (Emphasis added by me.)

In addition, as The Washington Post reports, abortion is illegal in Jane Doe’s home country – so that “offer” isn’t even a legitimate one.

Judge Millett further pointed out that the government’s refusal to “facilitate” Jane Doe’s abortion is “an immovable barrier to J.D.’s exercise of her constitutional right that inflicts irreparable injury without any justification offered for why the government can force her to continue the pregnancy until near the cusp of viability.”

The ACLU is helping to represent Jane Doe. They have first and foremost argued for an emergency injunction which would allow her to go to the clinic for an abortion. This is the first priority. But their second, further-reaching argument is that this “refusing to facilitate” policy is, in fact, unconstitutional.

There are a million furious things I could write about this case. The government’s behavior is outrageous, illegal, and cruel. It denies a fundamental right to the most vulnerable as part of a stupid, vicious crusade against women’s autonomy. It exploits and dehumanizes a teenager specifically because she is undocumented, and specifically because she is a woman.

However, Jane Doe herself has explained things better than I could. She signed a declaration of her own, which includes the below numbered points. This list is heartbreaking in its repetition and bluntness, so I’d only read it if you’re in an okay place.

  1. I am hopeful to obtain an abortion as soon as possible. I understand the next counseling appointment should have been October 12, with the abortion appointment on October 13. However, because I keep being delayed, the only appointments available to me are on October 18 and 19, 2017.
  2. Defendants have forced me to obtain counseling from a religiously affiliated crisis pregnancy center where I was forced to look at the sonogram.
  3. Defendants have been talking to me about my pregnancy – I feel like they are trying to coerce me to carry my pregnancy to term.
  4. Defendants told my mother about my pregnancy and are trying to force me to tell her as well.
  5. I do not want to be forced to carry a pregnancy to term against my will.
  6. I do not want to proceed in court using my real name because I fear retaliation because I am seeking an abortion. I do not want my family to know that I am seeking an abortion.

Jane Doe deserves to have all that she asks for here and more. She deserves to be treated like the human being that she is – and any government that would deny her that deserves only our disgust and our outrage.

(Via NPR, The Washington Post, CNN, and the ACLU; image via Shutterstock)

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Survey Meme

Saturday, October 21st, 2017 03:31 pm
bearshorty: (Default)
[personal profile] bearshorty
A bunch of people were doing this, so I will too:

Tattoos: None.
Surgeries: I had my adenoids removed when I was 8.
Broken bones: I fractured my left ankle when I was 9 and wore a cast for a month.
Shot a gun: No. Well, does a fake gun count? I shot one of the giant machine guns with blank rounds at a WWII museum place in Belarus.
Quit a job: Yes. Just last spring when I quit teaching.
Flown on a plane: Many, many times. First time when I was 12 and immigrating to America.
100+miles in car: Loads of times. My college was 200 miles away from home. And I did lots of driving road trips.
Gone zip lining: No. No, thank you.
Watched someone give birth: Just me, twice.
Watched someone dying: No.
Ridden in an ambulance: Yes. I was sitting with my Dad when he went to the hospital once and rode in the front of a small English one when the paramedics took me to the hospital after I passed out on the street in Richmond. (Bear was with me on his vacation. I was in London doing research at the National Archives. So he got to ride in an ambulance too).

Been to:
... Canada: I went to Niagara Falls with my friend Marianna on a bus tour when we were 17. And in 2004 I lived in Toronto for 6 weeks, studying Latin in Medieval Institute there. My parents decided to make a vacation out of driving me to Toronto and we went to Montreal and Kingston first.
... to Europe: I was born in Europe (Belarus), and been to Russia, Ukraine, England, Netherlands, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, and Spain. And airports in Ireland and Poland.
... to Washington D.C: Twice. Once when I was 15 on a bus tour with my parents and when I was about 23 or so, with Bear and my friends to visit Janna for the weekend.
... to Florida: Several times: Miami (twice) Orlando, Cape Canaveral, Everglades.
... to Colorado: No
... to Mexico: To Cozumel only when I was on a cruise.
... to Las Vegas: No. It's not my type of fun.

Sang karaoke: No. I don't sing in public.
Had a pet: I'm not a pet person. I took care of a turtle in summer camp once.
Been downhill skiing: Tiny hill in a park doesn't count. So no. I've been cross country skiing. That I like. But I prefer sledding.
Gone snowboarding: No
Ability to read music: Yes, but not fluently. I have to think about it and work it out. And I'm out of practice.
Rode a motorcycle: No.
Rode a horse: Less rode and more sat on it as someone took it in a circle. Or sat on it for pictures.
Stayed in a hospital: 3 times for 3 days. Once when I was 8 for adnoid removal, and twice to give birth.
Driven a stick shift: No
Ride in Police Car:No
Driven a Boat: I rowed one but I don't think I've driven one.
Eaten Escargot: No. Won't mind trying
Seen a UFO: No
Been on a Cruise: Twice. Once in 1999 with my parents when I went from Miami to Haiti, Jamaica, Grand Cayman Island and Cozumel. And the second time with Bear in 2008 when we went from New York to Florida and Bahamas. I want to go to Alaska sometime.
Run out of Gas: No
Eat Sushi: Lots and lots of times. Love sushi. Can't wait to eat it again once I'm done nursing.
Seen a Ghost: No
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Posted by Marykate Jasper

IGN has, to use their own descriptor, “one of the most active comments sections on the internet.” And so, fittingly, they had the highly animated Taika Waititi over to respond to some of their commenters. Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok hasn’t hit theaters yet, and while most viewers have yet to see the film, they’ve still got plenty of opinions for Waititi to respond to!

In characteristic fashion, Waititi mugs it up, puts on funny voices, and literally hoots at the camera at one point, before ending with a series of ridiculous faces. He responds to both negative comments – such as “This looks beyond stupid” or “Another movie to pull Norse mythology in the dirt” – and positive comments like “NEW ZEALAND REPRESENT” and “This is gonna be more of a acid trip then doctor strange and i’m gonna love it.” Whatever the spirit of the comment, he leans into the natural absurdity of reading anonymous, poorly punctuated internet hyperbole – you know, the sort of stuff you would not say to someone in person – aloud.

Numerous reports from the Thor: Ragnarok set mention improvisation and invention, and it’s easy to see why from this video. Improvisation is clearly part of Waititi’s signature style. Even just looking at the word “represent,” he goes off in a bunch of different directions, testing out new ways to turn it into a joke. I can’t wait to see what he and his cast did with the far more expansive absurdity of Asgard and the Marvel cosmos. Another!

Thor: Ragnarok hits U.S. theaters on November 3, 2017.

(Via io9 and IGN; image via screengrab)

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Posted by Marykate Jasper

As the Harvey Weinstein allegations continue to reverberate in the entertainment industry, more than 200 women and gender non-conforming animators sent an open letter to the animation community at-large, in which they laid out their demands to address sexual harassment and assault in the industry. They ask for “clear and enforceable” sexual harassment policies at every studio, an update to the Animation Guild constitution which would allow the Guild to “censure, fine, suspend or expel” members, and a cultural change that “male colleagues start speaking up and standing up for us.”

“When sexual predators are caught at one workplace, they seem to easily find a job at another studio, sometimes even following their victims from job to job,” the letter reads. “We are tired of relying on whisper networks to know who isn’t safe to meet with alone. We want our supervisors to protect us from harassment and assault.”

As many commentators have pointed out, it’s important and often healing for women to share their stories and name their abusers. But it’s just as important for us to respond to those stories with concrete, system-wide changes which make it far more difficult for harassers to get away with their behavior. This letter calls for exactly that sort of change – so let’s hope the studios respond. Bento Box, Cartoon Network, Disney, DreamWorks Animation, Nickelodeon, OddBot, Paramount, Shadowmachine, Sony Pictures Animation, Stoopid Buddy, Titmouse, and Warner Brothers were all sent the letter.

The signatories of the letter include animators from dozens of shows, including Adventure Time and Bojack Horseman, as well as big-name creators like Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar, Danger & Eggs creator Shadi Petosky, Bob’s Burgers producer/writer Wendy Molyneux, and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic creator Lauren Faust.

Below is the full text of the letter. You can see the full list of signatories at Deadline.

— — —

“An Open Letter to the Animation Community

We, the women and gender non-conforming people of the animation community, would like to address and highlight the pervasive problem of sexism and sexual harassment in our business. We write this letter with the hope that change is possible, and ask that you listen to our stories and then make every effort to bring a real and lasting change to the culture of animation studios.

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, many of the women who work in animation have begun discussing more openly issues that we have dealt with quietly throughout our careers. As we came together to share our stories of sexism, sexual harassment and, in some cases, sexual assault, we were struck by the pervasiveness of the problem. Every one of us has a story to share, from tossed-off comments about our body parts that were framed as “jokes” to women being cornered in dark rooms by male colleagues to criminal assault.

Our business has always been male-dominated. Women make up only 23% of union employees, so it’s no surprise that problems with sexism and sexual harassment exist. Sexual harassment and assault are widespread issues that primarily affect women, with women of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized groups affected at an even greater rate.

As more women have entered the animation workforce, it seems that some men have not embraced this change. They still frequently make crass sexual remarks that make it clear women are not welcome on their crews. Some have pressed colleagues for romantic or sexual relationships, despite our clear disinterest. And some have seen the entrance of more women into the industry as an opportunity to exploit and victimize younger workers on their crews who are looking for mentorship. In addition, when sexual predators are caught at one workplace, they seem to easily find a job at another studio, sometimes even following their victims from job to job. We are tired of relying on whisper networks to know who isn’t safe to meet with alone. We want our supervisors to protect us from harassment and assault.

This abuse has got to stop.

The signatories of this letter demand that you take sexual harassment seriously. We ask that:

1. Every studio puts in place clear and enforceable sexual harassment policies and takes every report seriously. It must be clear to studio leadership, including producers, that, no matter who the abuser is, they must investigate every report or face consequences themselves.

2. The Animation Guild add language in our constitution that states that it can “censure, fine, suspend or expel any member of the guild who shall, in the opinion of the Executive Board, be found guilty of any act, omission, or conduct which is prejudicial to the welfare of the guild.” To craft and support the new language, we ask that an Anti-Harassment and Discrimination Committee be created to help educate and prevent future occurrences.

3. Our male colleagues start speaking up and standing up for us. When their co-workers make sexist remarks, or when they see sexual harassment happening, we expect them to say something. Stop making excuses for bad behavior in your friends and co-workers, and tell them what they are doing is wrong.

It has not been easy for us to share our stories with each other. Many of us were afraid because our victimizers are powerful or well-liked. Others were worried that if they came forward it would affect their careers. Some of us have come forward in the past, only to have our concerns brushed aside, or for our supervisors to tell us “he’s just from a different era.” All of us are saddened and disheartened to hear how widespread the problem of sexual harassment still is in the animation industry, and how many of our friends had been suffering in secret.

It is with this in mind that we resolve to do everything we can to prevent anyone else from being victimized. We are united in our mission to wipe out sexual harassment in the animation industry, and we will no longer be silent.”

(Via Buzzfeed News and Deadline; image via Cartoon Network)

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Posted by Marykate Jasper

Irony has taken many blows in the marketing for Lionsgate’s adaptation of The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins’ young adult trilogy about a society which transforms suffering and death into reality-show entertainment – but this one might be the death blow. Variety announced that Lionsgate has partnered with Dubai Parks and Resorts to open “The World of The Hunger Games” theme park.

The opening celebration for the park was held this Friday, October 20. “The World of The Hunger Games” will be the largest Hollywood-inspired theme park in the Middle East, with attractions like the Panem Aerial Tour hovercraft simulator, the Capitol Bullet Train rollercoaster, and the – I kid you not – Coal Miner’s Clash “festive, high-energy percussion show.” Guests can also shop at Peeta’s Bakery for food and Panem Supply Co. for merchandise.

Below is the promotional video for the park, shared by Dubai Parks and Resorts on YouTube. (And yes, it does look like Stanley Tucci got back into costume just to film this promo, but it may be the magic of CGI.)

Tim Palen, the chief brand officer at Lionsgate, said, “Dubai Parks and Resorts is a fantastic partner. Together we have created an interactive experience that allows fans from around the world a chance to immerse themselves in the world that Suzanne Collins created in an authentic, fun and exciting way.”

Honestly, we’re discussing a theme park which made a percussion show out of a rebellion that ends with the whole district getting firebombed, so there really isn’t much more for me to add. But it remains super-weird that The Hunger Games phenomenon has been adopted so straightforwardly, with no awareness or acknowledgement from the studios of how their marketing plays into exactly what the book’s critiquing.

It’s genuinely surreal – like, premise-of-an-SNL-skit surreal – to see them build a Hunger Games theme park in Dubai, a city which struggles deeply with income inequality, to promote a movie about how the rich make spectacles out of other people’s suffering. This is a book about dystopian child-murder, and we’re going to make it into a “fun and exciting” immersive theme park?

(And, yes, I suppose Star Wars is technically about anti-imperial warfare, and Harry Potter is about trying to stop a violent political movement built around “pure blood.” But those franchises aren’t also explicitly and scathingly critiquing the ways that fascism and late capitalism use media and spectacle to control people and cover over suffering – so their theme parks are definitely less absurd. Also, who in the world would want to live in Panem?)

The script for 2017 continues to keep things waaaay too on-the-nose.

(Via Variety and SYFY Wire; image via Lionsgate)

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Saturday, October 21st, 2017 09:36 am
nancylebov: (green leaves)
[personal profile] nancylebov

Ex-KGB guy lecturing about subversion in 1983.


The beginning is ... amusing. He claims that the Soviet Union is immune to subversion because it's closed off from outside influences. It might also be amusing that he claims religion is the only thing which holds a society together, but fails to notice that the USSR tried to weaken religion.

However, his claims that it's possible to take a society down by amplifying its internal disruptive influences might be true.

The part that catches my attention is that cultivating no-compromise attitudes among people is very destructive. And that if you're looking to punish the other guy rather than get a good solution for the both of you, you're heading for trouble.

Unfortunately, it takes two to cooperate.

I'm wondering whether the world is worse than it needs to be, not so much because people are personally rotten as because there are organizations encouraging bad behavior for reasons which have nothing to do with the self-interest of the obvious culprits.

I suggest that malice is not adorable. Even if it's from people you agree with against people you don't trust. And that tear-it-all-downism might actually be bad for you.

There's a challenge here because hunting for negative foreign influence can also be a destructive force.

I'm not sure what the answer is. Look for people of good will. Don't make things worse.

Interesting Links for 21-10-2017

Saturday, October 21st, 2017 12:00 pm

Poldark 3.03

Saturday, October 21st, 2017 09:00 am
[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by Redheadedgirl

Poldark Season 3 posterNote: the recaps this season are written from the British airings, which often have 6-10 minutes that the US airings do not. If you’re reading this and going “Hey, I don’t remember that!” that’s probably why.

Previously: Enys is alive! And imprisoned! George is social climbing like whoa. Elizabeth is using opiates to manage her anxiety.

This episode uses a lot of short scenes and quick cuts, which makes great visuals but is hell to recap.  I did my best, but this sucker is LONG.

The waves crash angrily on the cliffs, and people shiver while holding their hands over fires. A man yells that the grain ship is in, and people grab pans and buckets and start running.

At Wheal Grace, Henshawe tells Ross the the Princess Charlotte, a ship, was ambushed when pulling into port. Ross is like yeah, it’s a grain ship. Of course it was ambushed.

George proclaims a group of people guilty of rioting and theft, “Crimes for which there can be no justification.”

Ross and Henshawe provide some justifications: failed harvest, and the worst winter in 30 years. People are starving.

George continues to lecture.

Sam, who is with Ross and Henshawe, asks how else people are to get food in their bellies? Ross: “No doubt they pay dearly for it.”

They pay with musket balls in their backs. There’s a scene of soldiers shooting and killing people clutching bowls of grain. Henshawe says the 20 died in riot, some shot, some trampled. Ross asks if the Princess Charlotte was a Warleggan ship. It was, so that means any survivors of the ambush will also pay.

George sends the survivors to trial at the assizes with a recommendation for 15 years transportation. Bodies lie in the street.

At Nampara, D is digging in the garden, when a contraction takes her. She calls for Purdie and asks her to make sure everything is ready. Prudie doesn’t like the current birth plan, and thinks D should “take wise.” D: “It isn’t wise to endure the ramblings of Doctor Choake.” She’s right. Ross wouldn’t want her birthing alone, but “What he don’t know can’t hurt him.”

Henshawe asks if George Warleggan can’t see the link between riots over grain and his decision to hoard grain. “I can assure you he does not.” They both look at Wheal Leisure, still chugging along, “Once a Poldark mine on Poldark land” which could provide decent work and decent wage, and now it’s held by an asshole who thinks workers are chaff and profits are God.

(I’m refraining from making a bunch of editorial comments about the shame and abuses of capitalism and how employers want capitalism for themselves and feudalism for their workers, and making parallels between current events and this show, but hey.)

A group of men pulling a cart with a body on it pass them, and Ross asks what he died of. “Starvation?” George happens to ride by and announces, “Pneumonia! I’m told he’d been fading for weeks, but he refused to stay home and rest.” Ross: “So he has only himself to blame.” “It would appear so.”

Look, asshole, there have been some many times when I’ve worked low-paying contract positions that had no sick time, so I would have to come in INCREDIBLY sick, because I couldn’t afford to take a day off to get well. Thank the voters of Massachusetts that earned sick time is now a thing, even for contract employees, and I guess I’m going to be editorializing a bunch anyway because I want to punch George in the THROAT. A LOT.

Ross tells George that Leisure used to be a good mine, and George is like, bro, it was a vaguely adequate mine. “Oh, the famous red copper… that made her such a rarity? That’s gone.” George draws some comparisons between a played out mine and Ross, and they aren’t flattering, but it’s super over-rehearsed. Ross thinks he rushed it a bit. George sniffs that now no doubt Ross wants to tell him to get off his land, but the land belongs to the mine, and the mine belongs to George! See how that works!

“How do you sleep at night, George?” “Perhaps you should ask Elizabeth.” Henshawe hauls Ross away.

Click for gifs!

Ross, saying How do you sleep at night, George?

George, responding Perhaps you should ask Elizabeth

Ross comes home, calling for D, and she’s not in the kitchen. Prudie runs behind hi and out the door, saying “Miss Demelza says you should go upstairs and bring her a plate of soup!” Ross is like, “Isn’t that your job?” but the door slams behind her before he can say it. He shrugs and brings the soup up to D, who is in the bed and looking VERY satisfied with herself.

“Thank ye kindly, my man.” He asks if she’s unwell, and she’s like no, never better. “Can I do anything else for your ladyship?” “Well, you could say good day to your daughter.” She moves the blanket, and there’s a tiny pick cheeked burrito baby, named Clowance. Ross looks completely poleaxed. “Where was Doctor Chaoke?” “It was all over before we could send for him!” Ross picks up tiny Clowance while D grins.

Click for gifs!

Ross, holding tiny baby Clowance, and grinning. It's adorable how happy he is.

Baby Val is fussy. George would like to know why Val is fussy. Elizabeth says that Doctor Choake says that “some babies are willful” and that they should “put their foot down.” She sends the baby off with a maid to be kept warm and quiet.

These fucking people. HE’S A BABY.

Elizabeth has plans for tea and for dinner and cards, but they have not received any invitations from the Godolphins, despite George letting their son get away with rape. But Christmas is coming, they’ll have a ball, and the Godolphins will be invited, of course. “But will they accept?” Elizabeth looks at him challengingly. George puts down his teacup with some force and looks petulant. I mean, more than usual. He leaves, because he’s got a Wheal Leisure shareholders meeting, which will be sad without one Ross Vennor Poldark. “How I miss the days when I had him at my mercy.” This obsession with Ross is not becoming, George.

Drake knocks on the door at Trenwith, and Geoffy-Chuck answers! Drake brought toads for Aggie. “You did say your aunt do love a toad.” That seems fake, but okay. Morwenna comes to the door, and he presents her with a posy of primroses. “If you ever wish for more, I’ll comb the earth in search of them.” D’awwwwww.

Click for gifs!

Morwenna takes a posy of primroses from Drake

In front of the fire, Geoffy-Chuck is holding a toad, while Aggie grins in delight. I guess she really do love a toad! Geoffy-Chuck says that George hates toads and had them cleared from the pond. Morwenna isn’t sure the George would approve of their…guest. Geoffy-Chuck: Aunt won’t tell him. “Did you know that Geoffy-Chuck’s friend is related to my nephew?” Morwenna doesn’t answer, and Aggie’s like, yeah you do, because this FRIEND tells you a great deal. “Tell my nephew that his aunt is MUCH AGGRIEVED by his neglect.”

Said nephew and said nephew’s wife are entertaining Caroline Penvenen, who has a note from one Member of Parliament Unwin Trevaunance (“who you JILTED” “I may have led him to believe he’s got another chance”) who has gotten news of a certain naval officer. Unwin has brought all his influence down on the Admiralty, and our people are talking to their people and soon all of the officers will be brought home. “In time for Christmas?” D asks. “Or shortly thereafter.” Ross looks faintly dubious, but Caro is glowing. “Unwin has his uses after all!”

In the prison, things are dire. Enys is cauterizing a wound, and there’s a line of men to see him. He’s exhausted.

At Trenwith, Morwenna gets a note when she comes in with G-C and Drake trailing behind her. She and G-C are to go to Truro for Christmas and the carriage is coming for them on Saturday. Drake asks how long they’ll be gone. A few weeks, maybe more. Drake would come to see them off, but Clowance’s christening is that day. “Your cousin, Master Geoffrey.” G-C says that if they won’t see him again before Christmas, then Drake must have his present now. “There’s no need!” “OH THERE IS.” Morwenna and Drake are left alone, and Drake is ashamed he has nothing to give Morwenna.

“Oh, but you gave me this!” she says, touching the bracelet. Drake asks if she ever takes it off, and she does not. “And I never will.” Drake kisses her hand, letting it go as Geoffy-Chuck runs back with some paper and envelopes. “So you can write to us while we’re away.” Geoffy-Chuck notes that Morwenna’s cheeks are flushed. “Do you have a fever?” Morwenna ducks her head and smiles at Drake.

Drake saunters home, and passes Sam, who’s washing in a barrel. “Be that the light of God in your eyes?” No, but it’s sacred to Drake anyway. “But is she worth the risk to your mortal soul?” Lighten up, dude. Get laid. “Reckon so!” says Drake cheerfully.

Ross writes to Aggie, inviting her to the christening. D asks if this is wise, and Ross is like, fuck wise. She’s a Poldark, and my aunt, and George has brought Leisure to it’s knees, and I will be damned if he does the same to my aunt. Why shouldn’t she come to my daughter’s christening?

Prudie knocks on the door at Trenwith, and it’s answered by Constable Goon, who takes the letter, and he and Prudie have a stand-off for a moment. As soon as Prudie’s back is turned, he crumples the letter.

Ross, D, Jeremy, and Prudie (and baby Clowance) walk to the church.

Click for gifs!

From left to right: Prudie, Demelza holding Clowance, Jeremey holding Ross's hand, walking to the church for Clowance's baptism.

At the Warleggan townhouse, footmen unload baskets of holly and oranges and other decorations, under George’s watchful eye. He tells Elizabeth that he’s sent the carriage to fetch Morwenna and G-C, as she requested.

At Trenwith, G-C has some other plans for his day. Clowance is his cousin, and there’s no good reason to not go to her christening. He tells Morwenna she doesn’t need to come. “I don’t think either of us should!” “I’m GOING, ‘Wenna! No one needs to know!”

At the church, Clowance is baptised, and Caro assures Ross and that Enys is there in spirit. “As godfather in absentia.” Ross agrees. The door opens, and G-C and Morwenna enter. D notes that Morwenna and Drake are smiling at each other.

After the service, Morwenna apologizes for bursting in, and Ross assures her that no, it’s totally fine, and invites them to Nampara for the reception. G-C, of course, wants to go, and Drake wants them to, but she knows that time is short. There’s some back and forth and Drake says, “only a half hour?” which never goes well, and Ross and D exchange a look, and Ross nods slightly. Without missing a beat, D hands Ross the baby, and he leads G-C away. D gently guides Morwenna off to the side.

“My brother is a gentle soul… and were he of your station, I would wish nothing more. But he’s far beneath your station, and cannot aspire so high. You know it.” Morwenna had a wide-eyed innocent “whatever do you mean” thing going on, but lets that fall. “I know it.” D says it’s good that they’re going away for a bit. “T’will break the bond.” “That’s what I tell myself.” They curtsy, and Morwenna collects G-C. “We’re very late.” He forgot his hat, though, and he pops into the church to get it, and Drake follows. “I’ll come visit?” She does not think that’s a good idea. “This must stop.” Drake asks if she can stop. “Yes.” He kisses her, and she kisses him back for a half second before running out.

At the reception, Caro is cuddling the baby and saying that Unwin has assured her that it’s only a matter of time before Enys is released, and in the meantime, he’s receiving the best possible treatment

He is not, though. Enys is performing surgery and doing the best he can, but conditions are terrible. Lt. Armitage comes by, and Enys says he ordered Armitage to rest. Armitage asks who orders Enys to rest, but Enys will not, because there’s no one else. Armitage offers to watch and learn from Enys so he can have some help.

D opines to Ross that this is good news about Enys, and Ross is as cynical as I am: “If it’s true. I’ve been a prisoner of war, myself.” D asks if Enys wouldn’t get special privileges. Ross sighs, and looks over at Caro, who is telling Henshawe that she will open her house to all emigre nobles fleeing the Reign of Terror. D also sighs. “She hates to feel useless.” Ross: “I know the feeling.”

At the Warleggan townhouse, Elizabeth is getting ready for their ball, and puts more of her tranquilizers in her port and chugs. George watches, judgily (I don’t know if he knows what that stuff is, but he’s judgey), and Elizabeth is like what? You don’t like my gown? It’s a red and dark red striped gown, and yes, it’s very pretty. George says “I cannot permit you to dance tonight…with anyone but I.”

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Elizabeth, in her red striped gown, gazing at herself in her mirror, considering her life and her choices.

At Nampara, Ross is chuckling over G-C’s spiritedness, and then suddenly remembers that Aggie never replied. “Perhaps she never received the note,” says D the Realist. Ross: fuck this, let’s go get her. D: THEY’LL SHOOT YOU. Caro, using her privilege for good, notes they wouldn’t dare if she’s with him, and off they go.

G-C and Morwenna arrive in Truro, and Elizabeth hugs her son, and then shoos him upstairs to change before the guests arrive. “Guests?” asks Morwenna. Yes, for the ball, and there’s a new dress waiting for her upstairs. “Oh.” Morwenna is perplexed.

Ross and Caro ride to Trenwith, and the footman opening the door is bowled over by Ross and Caro smiles politely. “Captain Poldark is here to visit his aunt. A glass of canary and a blazing fire, if you please!”

Aggie is in her room, swathed in blankets and sitting before her cold fireplace. “Of course I never received your invitation! Do you think I’d pass up an opportunity to drink port and eat heavy cake?” Aggie has her priorities in order. Ross notes that the room is freezing, and Aggie tells him that the maids don’t light her a fire. Ross: George’s plan is to kill you with cold and infection. (Aggie: Pluttthhththt.) Ross asks her to come live at Nampara, at least. Aggie, still with reasonable priorities: “And lose the chance to torment him? I was born in the house and I will die in this house. If it costs me cake and a few hot coals….”

Ross: what must Geoffy-Chuck think, seeing that asshole strut about his home? Aggie: And the baby? Ross: I feel sorry for any kid with THAT as a father.

In Truro, the turnout is…light. No Godolphins, nor any of the other ancient families that the Warleggans are desperate to cultivate.

(Seriously, the parallels between the Warleggans and Certain Other Families are so thick.)

Cary looks at Elizabeth and Morwenna and intones, “Very eye-catching.” George takes this to mean Elizabeth, but Cary means Morwenna. G-C wanders over to Morwenna and declares that he’s bored and he wishes they were at Uncle Ross’ party. Morwenna says that they shouldn’t have gone, and G-C says that he wants to get to know his cousin Clowance better. “I wager that she’s less dull than Valentine.” George overhears this and gets that look on his face that means he’s going to use this blow to his delicate masculinity to fuck with everyone some more. “First thing tomorrow, I’ll write to Harrow. I want that brat out of my house.”

Ross comes down stairs and sees Caro standing with a maid. Ross reminds the maid that it’s her job to look after his aunt, and he’ll be making regular visits, and if she fucks up, he’ll have her dismissed. How? Unclear. But the maid looks suitably terrified.

Back at the ball of sadness, George asks Elizabeth if Morwenna enjoyed the christening. Elizabeth: what now? George: Oh, I thought she told you, they trotted down to the church to see the latest Poldark brat get baptized. Elizabeth chews on the fact that Ross and D have a daughter. “Let’s hope they are less careless with this one.” FUCK YOU. Elizabeth states that G-C can’t be blamed for going to the christening. It’s Morwenna, she needs to be punished! George: “Oh, she will be.”

A rotund, officious looking man enters the party- one Reverend Whitworth, who is recently widowed. Elizabeth expresses her condolences and asks after his two little girls. “As well as could be expected. It’s only been a week. Only your kind invitation could have forced me to leave the house today.” George nods that life must go on. “My very thought when I chose this waistcoat!” Welp.

Ross and Caro ride back to Nampara, and happen on Constable Goon marching some unfortunates through the woods. They were caught robbing another Warleggan grain ship. Ross and Caro look disgusted, but Ross shrugs: George is within his rights to protect his property. Caro asks if George is aware the harvest failed, and Ross says yeah, he’s super aware. “That’s why he’s importing and selling to the highest bidder.” Caro ponders what would be the best way to help people.

George advises Elizabeth to say nothing to Morwenna about her “misdemeanor.” (God, George, you’re worse than first year law students in in their first week of Criminal Law.) No, they need to think about ‘Wenna’s future, like when G-C goes to school, what will happen to her then? George is sure Elizabeth would want to see her well-matched. He eyes Wentworth, who is a “highly respected young man, and his mother is a Godolphin!” Gross. George introduces Morwenna to Whitworth, who makes the SLIMMEST bow, and asks her to dance the gavotte. She is not fond of dancing. “It can only be because your partners thus far have lacked the expertise. Allow a master to induct you into the pleasures.” He holds out a hand, Morwenna looks at Elizabeth in alarm. I throw up. Elizabeth merely raises an eyebrow and Morwenna takes his hand.

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A Poldark Christmas, with Drake, Jeremy, Ross, D, Clowance, and Caroline, standing around the table Jeremy is standing on his chair and looks SO PROUD of himself singing.

At Nampara, everyone is singing “here we come a wassailing” and tiny Jeremy is SO CUTE AND SO PROUD. Sam is pouty because it’s too cheerful for his methodist heart. Caro wonders how Enys will keep Christmas, and the answer is with roasted rat.

In the village, the Nampara crew passes out bread to the hungry as soldiers drag someone else off. D says she’s never seen it this bad, and Samuel Carne loftily says that sinners must pay the price. Ugh. D demands to know what sin? “They should all examine their consciences to see if they be without blame.” Drake says that his conscience is fine.

Ross gathers his chosen family- D, Caro, the Brothers Carne, Prudie, Henshawe, Tholly, and outlines a plan. It’s a plan that can’t feed all of Cornwall, but it’ll help some, but they need to keep it secret. Ross clearly has a speech planned, but Henshawe’s like dude. We’re all in. Shut up. Ross says cool, I gotta go check with an old friend and see what he thinks.

It’s Trencrom, the leader of last season’s smuggling ring, who tells him that he’s out of his goddamn mind. Ross: “That’s promising.” Trencrom lists out the problems- getting “it” in war time is hard, getting it across the channel is hard, not having an actual delivery date is hard, and the cost is prohibitive. Ross: We’re on that part, don’t worry.

In France, Enys is dozing next to a patient, who wakes him up begging for water.

At Wheal Leisure, where even the sign is in bad repair, Ross looks out over the above ground workers, who look tired and downtrodden. His face gets determined, and he rides over to Sam’s meetinghouse. Ross says it’ll be perfect for his devices, and Sam snits that he doesn’t like the idea of a House of God being used as a cache. “Nevertheless, it will be so used.” Sam doesn’t like it, and Ross is like, fucking get used to it.

D and Caro are arming themselves for battle. D is wearing one of Caro’s reddingcotes, the silver one, and one of Caro’s fancy hats. Caro wonder’s what Enys would think of them, and D grins that they look the part of highwaymen, since it’s their goal to part as many men from their money as possible.

And here’s another set of scenes quick cut together, so: here we go. Each new paragraph represents a cut.

Wentworth simpers into George’s office, saying it’s a fine day to address the topic of matrimony (ew). George barely covers his disdain of Wentworth, but Wentworth is so enamoured of himself that he doesn’t notice.

Drake sits on a cliff, thinking sad thoughts and holding a shell. Morwenna sits in the parlor of the Truro townhouse and touches her shell bracelet and also looks sad.

George offers a settlement of 2,000 pounds as a settlement for Morwenna. Whitworth says “Ah” and explains very earnestly that a man in his position must look the part and carry himself in such a way as to inspire awe. “Must he?” Besides, Whitworth has debts of over 1,000 pounds, so he can’t possibly accept a penny less than 6,000. George does not laugh in his face.

D, sitting next to Caro, explains to a Sir John that their goal is the help the poor survive the worst winter in living memory. They both have wide eyes.

Whitworth: MY MOTHER IS A GODOLPHIN. George: MORWENNA IS A CHYNOWETH. “Devout, healthy, fond of motherless children” but hey, if you can find another girl of similar pedigree and virtue to yoke yourself to, by all means, go find her.

Caro to an unseen rich person: We pledged 50 guineas each, and a large donation in my late uncle’s name, so you might be able to kick in….? D: You wouldn’t want to be lacking in your own generosity, would you?

The music turns jaunty, and Whitworth stalks out of George’s office. Drake looks at an envelope with the direction to the Warleggan townhouse in Truro and starts walking.

D: We wouldn’t want to tell you, Sir Phillip, how much to pledge, BUT Sir John kicked in 20 guineas!

Whitworth comes back with a counter offer.

Caro: “My dear, you do him wrong. I believe he offered 25.”

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Caro and D, side by side, in fancy clothes and wearing shit-eating grins as they charm men out of their money.

Whitworth: How about 4,000? George: Economic times being what they are, go fuck yourself.

D: I was just telling Caroline that there isn’t a kindlier man than Sir Hugh!

Whitworth: I cannot exist on so paltry a sum! George: Find an heiress, then. Wentworth leaves.

Caro: 30 guineas, then? Excellent.

Whitworth comes BACK. I can accept 3,500? George: “GOOD GOD MAN, DO YOU IMAGINE I HAVE MONEY TO BURN.” I mean, yes?

Drake has made it Truro and to the townhouse, where Morwenna is looking dreamily out the window, but not toward the street.

Inside, George is crowing to Elizabeth that they finally have a deal. He was willing to go higher for a connection to the Godolphins, but “the idiot settled for 3,000 pounds!” So Elizabeth can inform the bride now. Elizabeth: uh, you came up with this plan so you do it. “I would not, for the world, deprive you of this happy task!”

Drake approaches the front door, and a footman is like CAN I HELP YOU. Inside, Elizabeth calls for Morwenna, and Drake skitters away.

Morwenna: “Marry? Mr. Whitworth?” Elizabeth is like, girl, you’d be making the jump from governess to lady of the town, it would be a help your POOR STARVING MOTHER and your UNMARRIED SISTERS and also George was VERY NICE to give you settlement so be grateful we’re whoring you out to someone in society! “Does Mr. Whitworth’s love mean nothing at all?” Morwenna: we haven’t talked barely at all! Elizabeth: I mean, you’ve talked enough that he’s willing to marry you, so what are you on about? Also your mother is very happy with the idea. Morwenna: My mom is okay with this? Elizabeth: Why wouldn’t she be? Morwenna thinks her mother would be all over it if she thought that Morwenna loved Mr. Whitworth, “But I do not!”

Elizabeth: I think your mother would be dismayed if you found fault in a good match because of this idea you have about love and shit. Morwenna: “Is it wrong to hope for love in a marriage?” Elizabeth takes a second, because there are a bunch of thoughts crowding her head – Francis, Ross, and George and her reasons for picking (or not) each one. “When you wed Francis, did you not marry for love?” Elizabeth hardens her voice: “I married for what I thought was love….it lasted barely a year. My marriage to Mr. Warleggan is not founded on love, yet it is altogether more successful.”

Elizabeth goes into George’s study, where’s he got a letter from Caro, asking for 30 guineas to “help the poor.” Elizabeth snaps that he spent 3,000 on a dowry, so will another 30 bankrupt him? “No doubt she expects your refusal.” “Then I shall disappoint her!” George crows. God. He’s dumb and mean.

Caro is counting money. George sent 50 guineas. D snarks that he’s not interested in “concern for the poor” he just wants to make sure everyone knows he sent the most. Caro: we have his money, so he can think whatever he wants. D grins that they should become footpads, they’re pretty good at it. “Now all we need is the goods.”

Elizabeth doses her port and stares off into the middle distance as Val cries. This poor kid.

At the meetinghouse, Ross and Zacky worry a bit about if the goods will be safe. Ross says they’ll be safe enough for one night. Tomorrow, they’ll be done, and Zacky’s like yeah, landing a cargo of extreme value in utmost secrecy.

At sunset, Ross and the boys are at the cove, and D, Caro, and Prudie are waiting in the kitchen at Nampara. D says the girls should be away, and Prudie’s like, uh, Ross said to stay put? D: “He did. He also said that I’m the mother of two small children and ought to start behaving as one. Daniel’s upstairs with Clowance and Jeremy, and we’re away to the meetinghouse.”

At the cove, the boys see the ship, and Zacky signals with a light.

At the meeting house, the girls sing and sing with a handful of the congregation.

On the beach, the goods are loaded into carts, and everyone hustles off. The girls continue to sing. In the woods, the goods are being moved, and Constable Goon sights them.

The girls finish the song, and D calls for the congregation to put out the candles and be quiet. “If anyone be watching, let’s hope we throw them off the scent.”

Constable Goon rides off.

Zacky peeks into the meeting house and tells the girls the boys are on the way “With no one the wiser.”

Constable Goon reports to George what he saw, and that Ross is definitely the ringleader, and that “there’s no mistaking the goods.”

At the meeting house, where many hands are stacking the goods, Ross eyes D. “Did I not bid you to stay at home?” “Yes, Ross, as often I bid you, and see how well that works.” BURN. Prudie and Caro explain that they’ve been decoys and singing at their top of their lungs.

George decides that he’s going to get some sleep, and that as resident magistrate he must have his wits about him when he busts Ross’ smuggling ring.

In the morning, Ross rides off, and George gets his morning report from Constable Goon: the soldiers will be at the meeting house soon, and George intends to meet them there. Why miss all the fun? Morwenna comes down the stairs, and George also informs her that Wentworth will be calling that day, so she can see for herself what an amiable man he is. He leaves, and she sighs heavily.

At Nampara, D checks with her brothers that they know what to do, and also that the villagers are to keep quiet. Drake’s like yeah, of course they will, or all hell with break loose. Sam snits that it isn’t fit for the the Lord’s House to be used for such a purpose, and D and I make identical sounds of disgust. “Get ye gone!”

Whitworth arrives while Morwenna is reading, and he’s SUPER officious, posing in the doorway and generally being a turd on the doorstep.

On the road to the meetinghouse, George finds himself preceded by poor people running holding plates and pans, urging each other to hurry. The thought of dragging Ross away in chains is giving George such a boner, I’m surprised he can ride at all.

Whitworth is prattling on about a game of cards he played once, while Morwenna looks down at her hands.

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Morwenna, sitting on the red and gold couch, staring down at her hands as Whitworth prattles on.

He then says that he detects the Hand of God in leading him to the Warleggan ball, and to wear the lemon silk “So you could not help but to notice me” (and Morwenna looks like she might actually throw up on his shoes, which she has every right to do, I AM JUST SAYING ’WENNA) and that she could comfort him as only a wife could. “And now that I know my sentiments are returned!” Morwenna says that she is not sure they ARE returned, and he’s like no, it is only your delicate sensibilities, all women approach matrimony with a hint of shyness. “As a man of feeling, and a man of God, I assure you, my love will be returned.”

Whitworth and Mr. Collins read the same books, I see. God, I hope he dies soon. Horribly.

He slimes a kiss on her hand, and Morwenna’s finally like NOPE ‘WENNA OUT, and runs out of the room, only barely not hip-checking Elizabeth.

Elizabeth asks Whitworth if Morwenna refused him, and he’s like, I am not discouraged. She’ll come around. “Proceed with arrangements as planned.”

At the meetinghouse, George and Constable Goon ride up to see the soldiers leaving, and Ross shaking hands with the captain, saying he’s sorry the captain was sent on a fool’s errand. What Ross and his people are handing out is grain, not riches. D and Caro smile brightly at George. “See the fruits of your generosity? Have you come to make further donation?” George: Donation? Yes, see, they bought a load of rain and are now selling it at half the market price. Caro: shall we put you down for 70 guineas next time?

George snits that there won’t BE a next time, because HE is not in the habit of pandering to wastrels and lazyasses who can’t earn their own bread. Ross: what are you doing trespassing on Nampara land? You’re a magistrate, go away, or I’ll call back the soldiers and have you both arrested. George and Constable Goon turn and leave, while Zacky cheerfully shouts, “BYE!” which is my favorite part of this scene, even more than D and Caro’s shit-eating grins.

Back in Truro, George snaps and snits and throws a tantrum about how this whole scheme was a deliberate attempt to humiliate him. Elizabeth, reasonably, offers that it might also have been an attempt to avoid a riot? Bah, George doesn’t care about riots. “He made me think he was breaking the law, and then made me look a fool when I attempted to bring him to heel! Well, he’s overplayed his hand this time.”

Caro stares out over the water, and Enys dozes. Armitage comes over and tries to send Enys to bed, and Enys is like, I said I’d keep watch over this patient. Armitage says the reason he offered to help Enys was so that Enys could get “one hour’s sleep in twenty” and be able to keep doctoring. Enys: “with no fresh water? No medicine? No supplies?” The French guards blather, and Armitage says they’re taking bets on which prisoner will be the next to die.

At the meeting house, Zacky brings news that George has decided to close Wheal Leisure. Immediately, ending 70 jobs. D asks why, and Ross is like, because he CAN, and the profits are small. And it used to belong to Ross. “So to spite Ross, George would put 70 families into direst poverty?” Yes, yes, he would.

Morwenna gets told by Elizabeth that she’s being sent back to Trenwith, and when told to start packing, she begins to cry as she goes up the stairs. Upon being told this, George is like, yeah, she’s being sent back to the tedium of Trenwith after the “happy bustle of Truro.” Elizabeth is unconvinced by this logic. “She’ll soon see the error of her ways and be begging us for the date of her wedding.”

At Nampara, D feels like they’ve done what they set out to do: five villages will survive. Ross is still poleaxed at the cost. This was set into motion by their grain venture and George’s fragile masculinity.


Ross and D begin thinking about what they could do for the 70 families that just lost their income, when Caro runs into to tell them that she’s off for London. D asks if she’s had word about Enys, and Caro has gotten word from Unwin saying that she has no cause for concern, but she’s going to the Admiralty and start negotiating for a ransom. Ross and D wish her luck, but after she’s left, Ross’s face turns grim. “The Admiralty doesn’t deal in ransoms.”

Enys has managed to get some water to another prisoner, but the French have decided that the prisoners Enys has been trying to keep alive will be the next to go, so they shoot him, right in front of Enys and Armitage. Enys begins to weep and crumples to the ground.

At Wheal Grace, Ross walks up to Henshawe and Zacky, and says he’s got an idea. They’re already over-manned as it is, and if they get more miners, and get more ore, they might flood the market and bring prices down. But there’s a few parts of the mine that have made indications of new lodes (“Which may not come to anything” Zacky says) so, maybe, with 30 extra men they could pay for if Ross doesn’t take his profit dividend… Henshawe and Zacky worry that D might actually kill him for this, and Ross, for once, talked to D and she’s on board.

A driver pushes on a carriage stuck in the mud (and, I note, had made no effort to make the load lighter or have the other driver get off to lead the horses or even make them pull at ALL), and Drake, Sam, and D walk along the road (with Drake and D singing together and it’s ADORABLE). Sam smacks his brother and goes to help, and yes, in the carriage is G-C and Morwenna. Morwenna’s face shines like the moon when she sees Drake.

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Morwenna seeing Drake outside of the carriage

D is a little dismayed, and Sam does all the pushing. The carriage gets unstuck (“Thanks for all the help, brother.”) and the kids go on their way, while Drake grins to himself.

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Sam, efficiently pushing the carriage

The carriage leaves and Sam, Drake, and D standing in the road. Sam: Thanks for the help, brother.

George demands of Elizabeth to know how long Morwenna will need, and she’s like a few weeks, but “I’m not overly enamored of him…there’s something about him that makes my skin crawl.” THIS IS THE MOST ACCURATE STATEMENT ELIZABETH HAS EVER MADE. George is like yeah, he’s a reptile and prig, but he’s also a Godolphin. Morwenna will realize how lucky she is.

How lucky she is, is a suitor telling his tailor to make a waistcoat of gold brocade and trousers tight enough to inspire in his bride “awe and anticipation.” The tailor is a TOUCH rough in measuring the inseam, but honestly, could have been rougher and perhaps careless with his scissors?

D tells Ross that she likes Morwenna, she seems to be kind and sweet, but she worries about what this return will mean for Drake. Ross: It’ll piss the holy hell out of George, and that’s good enough for me. D is more concerned with class divisions (reasonable, given the amount of work she put in so that she could fit in with Ross’s class), and that George would lose his shit over a miner’s son aspiring to his wife’s cousin. Ross: How about a lowly mine owner aspiring to a great lady? He kisses her hand, and she grins at him. “That’s different.” She hopes Morwenna takes care to stay out of Drake’s way.

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Ross, looking at D and thinking I cannot live without this woman and D, looking at Ross and D thinking That's right, you can't and they kiss

GUESS WHAT: she does not. Drake and Morwenna run to each other on the beach, and hug, and they kiss.

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Morwenna and Drake, making out on the beach. You go, kids.

Whatcha Reading? October 2017 Edition

Saturday, October 21st, 2017 07:00 am
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Posted by Amanda

old book on the bench in autumn parkIt’s Whatcha Reading time, where we discuss all the highs and lows of our month’s reading. We all hope you’ve had some good book noises this month, but we know sometimes that doesn’t happen. Feel free to rage and gripe as much as you want. However, we can’t be held responsible if your TBR pile doubles in size from the book recommendations you’ll most likely get.

Sarah: I am reading a nonfiction and a romance, because my brain is tired and stressed. The nonfiction is Deep Work by Cal Newport (insert all jokes here) (insert jokes about inserting jokes here) (fin). On one hand, the reframing of what is deeply focused work and what is shallow, distracting work is interesting and very helpful to my own feelings of productivity and accomplishment, especially when paired with a recent podcast interview with Basecamp CEO Jason Fried.

Deep Work
A | BN | K | iB
I’m constantly questioning what I do, and why I do it, and whether I can do less, do things more efficiently, or not do them at all. So the idea of focusing intently on my creative projects and goals is something I’m very curious about. But the book itself, while it contains several helpful concepts, grates on me with the sexism and the ignoring of other work that women typically do (e.g. emotional labor and caretaking). Most of the examples are men, with two exceptions, one of them negative, and most of these examples portray work as a singular monolith or field of study. So I take frequent breaks between chapters so I don’t get too angry to keep reading and cheat myself out of valuable ideas.

Carrie: I am reading Chasing Power, a YA by Sarah Beth Durst ( A | BN | K | G | iB ), and also What She Ate, a nonfiction about six historical women and their relationship to food. The former is entertaining but uneven and the latter is excellent.

Sarah: I’m also currently reading The Offer by Sara Portman ( A | BN | K | G | iB ), which is coming out on 10/24. The heroine is a penniless vicar’s daughter who opens the story in the strange position of deeply envying her best friend, now a duchess, who is in the midst of horrible morning sickness. The hero is also in debt, and not in a position to offer for anyone unless that person comes with several wagonloads of money, so OF COURSE they are going to be drawn to each other. I just started it, and am very curious, so ahoy, more reading time for me.

What She Ate
A | BN | K | iB
Elyse: I just started The Bloodprint by Ausma Zehanat Khan. It’s an epic fantasy about a group of women with magical abilities working to overthrow a patriarchal, repressive society. Their magic is tied to the ability to read and use words of power, so it’s pretty solidly my catnip

Sarah: I read the first chapter of that book and so wanted to continue, but it was giving me the “your brain is going to wake you up with nightmares” feeling with some of the violence. But the women in that first chapter are SO INCREDIBLE.

Elyse: One of the things that I found really fascinating and relevant is that the authoritarian regime bans reading as a means of controlling its populace

Sarah: YES. This is a perfect example of a book that I wanted to read but knew would give my brain middle-of-the-night freakouts.

Amanda: Can I just say that I love these little conversations we have about books? What we like, what we don’t like, what aspects work of us as readers. It gives me the warm and fuzzies.

The Bloodprint
A | BN | K | iB
Sarah: I know, me too.

In the past year I have learned so much about how to work with my brain and my brain chemistry. it’s life-changing on a very basic level.

But knowing when something violent is going to exacerbate my anxiety to the point of losing sleep is a big help, much as I want to read this book.


Redheadedgirl: So…I maaaaaaaaay be at “one book bought per day of trip” so that’s a lot?

Elyse: Nah.

Amanda: I just finished an exhausting week in South Florida, cleaning out my late grandparents home where they lived for over 40 years. On the cool side, I found my great grandmother’s bible from 1917. On the bad side, who knew just looking at belongings could sap so much energy. Because of this, I’m waffling between two different types of reads – dark and gritty to channel some of my negative feelings. And reading an autobuy author for some comfort.

A | BN | K | iB
For the former, I have An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard from my library ( A | BN | K | G | iB ). It has a magical NYC and a heroine who wants to destroy the current magical system.

For the latter, I have Roomies by Christina Lauren. They write such great modern romances that make me laugh and cry. It’s like a hug in book form and something that I totally need right now.

What have you been reading this month? Something spooky? A comfort read? Let us know in the comments!

By request, since we can’t link to every book you mention in the comments, here are bookstore links that help support the site with your purchases. If you use them, thank you so much, and if you’d prefer not to, no worries. Thanks for being a part of SBTB and hopefully, you’ve found some great books to read!

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Posted by Kaila Hale-Stern

The thriller starring Michael Fassbender as a person named Detective Harry Hole chasing a killer who loves making snowmen or something is getting scorchingly critical reviews.

A few of my fave pull-quotes regarding The Snowman from Rotten Tomatoes, where it’s currently at a cringe-inducing 11%:

“The Snowman” is like if aliens studied humanity and tried to make their own movie in an attempt to communicate with us. —The Arizona Republic

“The Snowman” is ugly and nasty, but that’s not the worst of it. The worst is that it’s boring and makes no sense. —The San Francisco Chronicle

Playground snowball fights have more suspense and intrigue than “The Snowman,” the most puzzlingly bad movie of the year. —Detroit News

Completely, atrociously, perhaps even impressively, stupid. —The Globe and Mail

I know this means we should stay away—and I’ve been flinching over the film’s annoying posters in the NYC subway for months (the AV Club calls it among “the worst movie advertising campaigns of all time”)—but sometimes, when a movie gets piled on like this, I’m almost curious enough to want to go to see why. Almost.

Anyway, people have been defacing the ridiculous Snowman posters in the subways. Here’s my favorite alteration that I snapped a few days ago:

(via Rotten Tomatoes, image: Universal, Kaila Hale-Stern)

  • “Amber Tamblyn on Charlyne Yi’s Accusations Against Her Husband David Cross: ‘I Believe Her'”. (via Jezebel) Also:

  • Daisy Ridley has joined a “comedic superhero” movie pitched by actor Josh Gad, that will also include Gad and his Beauty and the Beast co-star Luke Evans. So far everything about this already sounds amazing. (via Syfy)
  • Let’s break down those in-jokes on the Spider-Man: Homecoming deleted scenes. (via Collider)

So what’s on your mind this fine Friday?

This is Josh Gad voicing a snowman. Everything comes full circle.

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Posted by Teresa Jusino

If it can be said that there’s a silver lining about the election of the Trump administration, it’s that it has gotten people for whom politics was a mere afterthought to bring the state of our country and the world front and center in their minds. That’s certainly the effect Trump’s election seems to have had on comedian and host, Chelsea Handler.

Yesterday, Handler took to Twitter to release a statement about the future (or lack thereof) of Chelsea Lately. In short, she’s giving up her show to devote herself to political activism more full-time. Here’s what she wrote:

“Like so many across the country,” Handler says, “the past presidential election and the countless events that have unfolded since have galvanized me. From the national level down to the grassroots, it’s clear our decisions at the ballot box next year will mark a defining moment for our nation.” She plans to not return to Netflix for a third season of her show, instead devoting her time to doing more learning and growing in the field of political activism.

Handler hopes to put her focus specifically on women, both in trying to get more women elected to political office, and fighting for gender equality.

This doesn’t mean that she’s severing ties with Netflix completely. As reported by The Huffington Post, “Handler said she plans to travel the country, speaking to people to gain ‘a better understanding of our political divide.’ That concept will form the basis of a documentary for Netflix, and she will retain a relationship with the streaming service. The current season of weekly hour-long Chelsea episodes will continue to stream until the end of 2017.”

This isn’t entirely a surprise, as she’s been increasingly vocal already, both through her show and on social media, about the goings-on in our country. I’ve gotta say, I love when people put their money where their mouths are, and I’m looking forward to seeing how she uses her platform to do more political good.

(image: screencap)

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Posted by Teresa Jusino

The parade of testimony against Hollywood predator Harvey Weinstein, sadly, doesn’t seem to have an end yet. This time, one of our favorite actresses around these parts, Lupita Nyong’o, has come forward in a personal essay for The New York Times, giving a harrowing and detailed account of an entire spectrum of abuses she received at the hands of the disgraced (and disgraceful) movie mogul.

In The New York Times, Nyong’o recounts how she first met Weinstein in Berlin in 2011 while she was still a drama student at Yale. She was attending an awards ceremony at which he was present, and when an intermediary introduced Nyong’o to him, it was emphasized that she should “keep Harvey in your corner,” because he was extremely powerful and could elevate her career, but that she should also “be careful around him. He can be a bully.”

Though he was a powerful presence in that first meeting, Nyong’o didn’t feel afraid of him or anything. Not yet.

Shortly after that first meeting, when back in the U.S, Weinstein invited Nyong’o to a private screening at his Connecticut home with him, his family, and some other industry folks. Since she was in CT at Yale, she agreed, glad for the opportunity to network with such a high-profile industry contact. When she got there, Weinstein took her out to lunch first, and that’s when things started getting really weird. Nyong’o writes:

“The driver and I met Harvey in the little town of Westport, where he informed me that we would be having lunch at a restaurant before getting to his home. I did not think much of this. It was a busy restaurant, and as soon as we sat down he ordered a vodka and diet soda for himself. I asked for a juice. Harvey was unimpressed with my choice and told the waiter to bring me a vodka and diet soda instead. I declined and said I wanted the juice. We went back and forth until finally he turned to the waiter and said, ‘Get her what I tell you to get her. I’m the one paying the bill.’ I smiled and remained silent. The waiter left and returned with a vodka and diet soda for me. He placed it on the table beside my water. I drank the water. Harvey told me that I needed to drink the vodka and diet soda. I informed him that I would not.

“‘Why not?’ I remember him asking. ‘Because I don’t like vodka, and I don’t like diet soda, and I don’t like them together,’ I said. ‘You are going to drink that,’ he insisted. I smiled again and said that I wouldn’t. He gave up and called me stubborn. I said, ‘I know.’ And the meal proceeded without much further ado. In this second encounter with Harvey, I found him to be pushy and idiosyncratic more than anything.”

Later, when at his home, after beginning the film everyone was there to be screened, Weinstein pulled Nyong’o out of the screening (leaving everyone else in a closed, soundproof room) to “show her something.” That something was his bedroom, where he asked to give her a massage. Thinking on her feet, she offered to give him one instead, so that she could maintain physical control as she figured out how to extricate herself from the situation. He agreed, and as she was massaging him, he said he wanted to get naked. She asked him not to. He got up to do that anyway, and she left.

In her piece, Nyong’o brings up the important point that hers is a profession built on intimacy. As she says, actors are “paid to do very intimate things in public.” She goes on, “That’s why someone can have the audacity to invite you to their home or hotel and you show up. Precisely because of this we must stay vigilant and ensure that the professional intimacy is not abused.”

It isn’t only actors that are asked for a certain level of professional intimacy that is expected. I, as a pop culture writer for this site and others, have attended many a press junket. All of them have been held in hotels. And I have interviewed both male and female subjects in hotel rooms, sometimes with a publicist in the room, other times not. Hotel rooms make a certain amount of sense in that, when you’re not expecting a predator, a hotel room provides comfort for what can otherwise be a stressful situation.

Giving interviews and revealing private details about yourself and your process is not exactly the most comfortable thing in the world. I get that. So, interviewing in a comfortable environment, like a hotel suite, as opposed to in a colder office environment, has its uses. Thankfully, everyone I’ve encountered in this capacity has been completely professional and kind. I have been lucky. Countless female journalists, like TV critic Maureen Ryan, have not been.

But yes, in an industry that trades in people’s most vulnerable moments and emotions, a certain level of intimacy is expected. That said, it should not be abused or taken advantage of. It’s not about “you shouldn’t have gone into that hotel room.” It’s about “I shouldn’t expect to be raped or molested when I get there.” That’s how all this should be framed.

Instead, you have men like Weinstein who trade on the fact that far too many people expect sexual abuse as “just the way it is.” Nyong’o writes:

“Afterward, as planned, his male assistant arranged for me to get to the Tribeca Grill, where Harvey would be joining us. I met a female assistant when I arrived there. I was expecting that it would be a group of us, as it had been for the reading, but she informed me it would just be Mr. Weinstein. She would sit with me until he arrived. She seemed on edge, but I could only imagine how stressful it was to work for a man who had so much going on.

Harvey arrived and the assistant immediately disappeared. We ordered drinks and starters. Again he was offended by my nonalcoholic beverage choice but he didn’t fight me on it as hard. Before the starters arrived, he announced: ‘Let’s cut to the chase. I have a private room upstairs where we can have the rest of our meal.’ I was stunned. I told him I preferred to eat in the restaurant. He told me not to be so naïve. If I wanted to be an actress, then I had to be willing to do this sort of thing. He said he had dated Famous Actress X and Y and look where that had gotten them.

I was silent for a while before I mustered up the courage to politely decline his offer. “You have no idea what you are passing up,” he said. ‘With all due respect, I would not be able to sleep at night if I did what you are asking, so I must pass.'”

His assistant felt scared enough for her well-being and her job to leave Nyong’o alone with him, and Weinstein felt free enough to say all this to Nyong’o’s face, because of the attitude “that’s just how it is.”

There’s a much longer pattern of behavior that Nyong’o describes in her piece, so you should definitely check it out. But if stories like this teach us anything, it’s that 1) there’s power in numbers, and hopefully people feel more comfortable coming forward now, knowing they’re not alone. And 2) at a certain point we have to see that things are so bad that we have to be willing to risk something in order to fix it.

Because yes, at a certain point it’s understandable to want to keep oneself safe, or protect one’s job. However, if you hear about abuses and continue to work with abusers? If you fail to stand in solidarity with the victims of abuse? If you remain silent about things you know that can allow harm to come to others? At a certain point, that’s on you.

Nyong’o recognized the fact that she was not alone, and she spoke up to contribute to a culture of accountability and change. Because yes, one does have to protect oneself, and a great way to do that is not only to ensure that the marginalized feel safe, but to ensure that abusers feel very, very unsafe.

(image: Shutterstock)

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We Need More STIs on Our Sex Shows

Friday, October 20th, 2017 09:12 pm
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Posted by Princess Weekes

During the second season of the hit HBO television show Insecure, there was a big discussion about condoms being depicted on-screen. Mainly, that they aren’t really. In the second season, the main character Issa, played by the talented Issa Rae, has just recently gone through a breakup and decides she is going to have a “ho phase” and a “ho-tation.” Which, you know, good for her. Turn up. The controversy came when viewers noticed that it seemed as though Issa’s partners were just “sliding into her DMs” with no pause for a glove.

Showrunner Prentice Penny spoke to Buzzfeed about this issue and said, “We’re not a documentary; we’re not a public service; we’re not a nonprofit. We’re a scripted television show, and so our thing is always about how do we tell the best story?” Penny went on to describe that they place condoms around the set in order to create that illusion, but as a fan of the show, I can say that when I watched Issa sleep with “Neighbour Bae,” there was no pause that indicated he could have wrapped up anything. However, Penny did not begrudge the fact the conversation was happening. “To me, this Twitter debate is kind of perfect for our show because we have so many discussions on our show that are uncomfortable.”

However, what I realized watching the show is that while we are often talking about depictions safe sex in the media, the reality is that we do not have shows that tackle the reality that people already have STIs and they still have sex.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “In 2016, Americans were infected with more than 2 million new cases of gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia, the highest number of these sexually transmitted diseases ever reported.” Just today, multiple news outlets are reporting about the rise of throat-related cancers in men, with an estimated 1 in 9 men having oral HPV. Most people who have sex and have had more than four sexual partners will get some form HPV. Nevermind that no matter how much shows and movies may turn it into a punchline, herpes is the second most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. So why aren’t we talking about it?

Listen to anyone who is living with an STI, and they will tell you that the hardest part of having it is the stigma. Kelly Gluckman, who spoke with Bustle earlier this year about the need for more comprehensive sex-education, said that when she found out she contracted HIV, she assumed that it was a death sentence. “All I knew at that point was ‘You get HIV, you get AIDS, and you die.’ So, I was reading these papers and wondering when I would die.” Fortunately, in 2017, HIV is no longer the death sentence it was in the ’80s. Medicine is available and while it needs to be taken every day, it makes the condition chronic, but manageable and greatly reduces the risk of infection to other partners. Yet, the most stressful part for Gluckman is the stigma: “Other people’s misconceptions are more burdensome than the virus itself.”

A similar sentiment was shared by Ella Dawson in her excellent TEDx Talk about Herpes and STIs in general.

What Dawson makes very clear is the unfair taint we put on people who get STIs from their partner. That we assume they are dirty or irresponsible and that this is some type of “punishment” for having sex. STIs are not a punishment; they are inevitable if you have a lot of partners—or if your partner has had a lot of partners—and that’s no one’s fault. Despite what people have told you, there is no certain type of person who gets STIs. It can happen to anyone.

Not to mention many are asymptomatic, and you don’t know you have most of them unless you get tested. I say “most” of them because there is no test for HPV for men, and you don’t usually know you have it unless you get a wart (low-risk/non-cancer causing HPV) or if a woman gets a pap smear and there are abnormalities. As for Herpes, well, guess what: most places don’t test you for herpes unless you ask, because it does not have the same long-term negative side-effects as untreated gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia.

A consequence of us being unable to deal with that reality in a non-shaming way is part of why people are (a) reluctant to get tested and (b) simply do not talk about it.

That’s where the media comes into play.

I have a very vivid memory of watching the UPN show Girlfriends as a pre-teen, and an episode came on where Joan (played by black-ish‘s Tracee Ellis Ross) found out that her college friend, Reesie, contracted AIDS from someone they both dated. There is a scene where Reesie cuts her finger with a kitchen knife and everyone jumps away from her like a pariah, they throw away the kitchen knife even though the virus dies as soon as it touches the air. The look of sadness on Reesie’s face of being isolated by her friends was something I always have remembered, and I remember learning not to be afraid of people with HIV. I went to a Catholic School as a child, so I can tell you that if I hadn’t learned it from that show, I might not have learned it period.

While most shows relegate STI exposure to an “after-school special” of trauma or an episode-centric issue that will never be brought up again, the truth is that if we have shows that want to revel in the freedom of sex, then they have to learn to deal with STIs in a better way. Some have already got the ball rolling: Miranda dealt with it for one episode on Sex in the City, Illana got the last batch of her HPV vaccine on Broad City, at least Hannah knew about her HPV status on Girls, even if it never really came up again, and Oliver on How to Get Away with Murder has taught us more about prep than most sex-ed classes.

This is important because, as much as we want to think “it’ll never happen to me,” shit happens. Condoms break, sometimes you can get infected even with a condom, and sometimes you get caught up in the moment and you don’t use a condom. Sexually transmitted diseases aren’t going anywhere, and we are not going to stop having sex, so we have to figure out a way to the conversation without shaming people who get sick.

(via NBC, image: HBO)

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this was a new one

Friday, October 20th, 2017 02:13 pm
solarbird: (tracer)
[personal profile] solarbird
So normally these gaming posts lately have Widowmaker's icon, but today is definitely a Tracer icon day. (I've also been playing around with my Widowmaker sight/targeting settings, now that linear tracking mode is working as it should on PS4, and I'm still getting used to it but I like it.)

Right. Offense. Junkertown. We're inside, but haven't been inside for long, on the last leg. I am in full-bore Manic Pixie Murder Machine mode, I end up with some very large and enjoyable kill streak that I card for, all that. That's all fairly normal.

But I've never been the greatest with Tracer's bombs, right? They're everybody's weak point because they're so damned random and often just won't deploy and even when they do sometimes they just don't go off. This has been seen in pro play, even. But today was not that day.

'Cause I've just killed their Mercy and their Hanzo and somebody else in their backfield (maybe their Junkrat? I forget who, I was doing a lot of backfield killing and they were not picking up on it) and their D.va comes charging by out of the shortcut just as I'm looking back towards my team and the payload to see what's up.

So I empty both clips into the back of her mecha a couple of times, getting her about, eh, 60% down or so? And just as she jets away, I follow it up with my Tracer bomb.

As I'm doing this, she hits her nerf. Her mech goes flying forward, into the rest of my team, and...

...my bomb goes off, and her self-destruct doesn't.

That's right. NERF THIS CANCELLATION MOTHERFUCKERS. She lost the ult completely, straight up cancellation, had to earn it back from scratch. In other words: nerf this? No, nerf this.

I didn't even think you could do that. I didn't know it was possible.

They didn't even give me play of the game. WRONG. I know who had play of the game. It was me.

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Posted by Dan Van Winkle

Star Wars is a franchise that’s no stranger to big twists. The Empire Strikes Back even pulled a little fake-out with Yoda before dropping one of the most famous movie twists of all time, and Return of the Jedi returned to that same well when it revealed that Luke and Leia were siblings. The Force Awakens, pulled a similar trick in the reveal of Kylo Ren’s true identity, and Rian Johnson, director of The Last Jedi, is enjoying the fan anticipation of future surprises.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Johnson was predictably evasive when answering a question about a popular fan theory—that it’s not a coincidence that Luke Skywalker’s looming presence on the movie’s poster mirrors that of past villains in the franchise. We’re only about two months away from the movie’s release, so we’re not likely to get any more big details before we finally see for ourselves, but Johnson did mention that he’s very much enjoying providing fans with plenty to theorize over, since he’s taken part in that himself:

“Having been a Star Wars fan myself for the past 40 years, having spent most of my life on the other side of the curtain, I know the anticipation and the guesswork and theorizing is all part of the fun and game of it. So I love it. I love seeing what people are thinking, seeing what they’re guessing, seeing what they’re anticipating.”

The latest trailer certainly played into that, with plenty of hints—whether straightforward or intentionally deceptive—that not all is as it seems in the next chapter of the saga. Luke Skywalker himself even comes out and explicitly says that at least he expects things to take a turn. Although maybe he just needs to heed the advice that he should keep his mind on where he is and what he’s doing, hmm? Or just have a little more faith?

Whatever the case, don’t expect the teases to stop anytime soon.

(via THR, image: Disney/Lucasfilm)

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7 things make a post

Friday, October 20th, 2017 09:26 pm
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
1. We spent a pleasant low-key weekend in Todmorden with my mother and stepfather for Charles's birthday / their wedding anniversary. The only niggle was the mild cough I had before going turned into a horrible cough and I got very little sleep on the Saturday night, so my patience etc on the journey home was ... limited. We got home with no-one murdered though.

2. I love my Yuletide assignment and have a plot bunny gently growing. It's going to be pretty niche and I don't care, so long as it works for the recipient.

3. Thanks to the aforementioned cough, I missed morris practice last week - so frustrating given my fears about falling out of it - but I managed it again this week, and it is still very happy making. (I am so, so unfit compared to all these older women, but they are all so pleasant and welcoming.)

4. Charles was away this week with the school residential outdoor activity week with PGL. It was a bit of a challenge for him being away from home and his usual routine, but he seems to have mostly enjoyed it, and enthused at me about climbing and rifleshooting and archery and a few other things too ... It is good to have him back; and now it is half-term.

5. I had my flu jab this week, and the children had their flu sprays last week (I am a bit envious of them, but the nurse at my GP surgery is really very good about doing jabs quickly and with minimal pain). Flusurvey has started up again and are keen for more participants if any of my UK subscribers aren't already doing it and would like to.

6. It seems like half my reading list already posted about the #PullTheFootball campaign to require a congressional declaration of war before the US President can launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike.  But in case you didn't see it, that link has actions, phone numbers and a script for US citizens (the rest of us can just help by sharing it with US citizens ...)

7. Clipping wrote the soundtrack for a new TV show, The Mayor, and tracks from it are being released weekly onto Spotify and iTunes.  I couldn't find an official Spotify playlist so I made my own and am adding the new tracks each week as they get released - TWO this week for a Halloween-themed episode.  The show's premise is that an up-and-coming rapper stands for mayoral election as a publicity stunt for his music career and accidentally wins. I love this idea, but can't find a way to legally watch the show from here; anyway I am really enjoying the musical output.

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Posted by Kaila Hale-Stern

The Hollywood mogul at the center of the widespread sexual harassment and assault allegations is reportedly falling asleep in therapy sessions, claiming conspiracies against him, and “barking” into a mobile phone he isn’t supposed to have.

I wish I could say I was surprised by the reports of Weinstein’s terrible behavior coming out of Page Six, but I’m so far from surprised that I have reached maximum velocity in the state of non-surprise. Page Six is a gossip site, sure, so take everything with a grain of salt—but they also have a long and storied history in gossip, and a lot of well-connected sources. And do you really think a serial harasser like Weinstein would suddenly do an about-face and make a genuine attempt at rehabilitation just because he was finally “caught”? Harvey Weinstein needs to be behind bars, but instead he’s passing his nights in comfort at a hotel and apparently idling away his days, hoping the media storm will pass. According to Page Six:

Weinstein was reported to be at an inpatient facility, but our source says he is actually being treated at an intensive outpatient facility, which allows him to spend nights at a hotel. The clinic offers one-on-one counseling and group therapy sessions, among other treatments.

The source told us, “In one group therapy session, Harvey arrived 15 minutes late. Then, when it was his turn to speak, he launched into a speech about how this is all a conspiracy against him.

The source added that as others at the clinic shared their personal stories, “Harvey fell asleep in his chair. He was only woken up by the ringing of his smuggled mobile phone [which is banned at the facility] . . . Harvey jolted awake, jumped up, immediately took the call and then ran out of the room.”

Weinstein’s no doubt hugely expensive “treatment” is based in Arizona, but it’s unclear to me what any amount of therapy is going to do for someone so vehemently in denial and so obsessed with conspiracies of persecution. He’s apparently moved away from group therapy—what newfound sensitivity, falling asleep while others share their stories—and is now “undergoing individual treatment, and is accompanied at all times by a therapist.”

If I were his therapist, Weinstein’s sense of denial, persecution, and disdain for others would be the first things I’d address. But it strikes me as patently ridiculous that Weinstein, confronted with what’s now more than 40 women on the record accusing him of acts that range from exposure to groping to rape, gets to trot off to “sex rehab” for good optics, as though his problem were on par with other Hollywood figures entering facilities for substance abuse.

Even if Weinstein could be classified as a sex addict—and that’s debatable—the first step in any recovery method is recognizing that one has a problem. Per another source that spoke to Page Six, “He insists he never raped or assaulted anyone, and that all the encounters were consensual. He realizes he has acted like an a–hole, but he still insists he’s not a rapist.” So Harvey Weinstein has gained the self-awareness to classify his actions at “a-hole” level, but is obviously unwilling to take any responsibility for the dozens of claims made that the encounters were anything but consensual. In fact, he’s chalking those allegations up to a big ‘ol conspiracy against him.

That source continued, “He does have his phone, but when he is in therapy, he has to give it to someone else.” Wow, progress is really being made here, when you voluntarily give up your phone during your private therapy sessions. “The characterization of what he said and what happened at the group session isn’t true,” the source finished, but this is also the person relaying Weinstein’s assurance that he never raped or assaulted anyone, so let’s just assume their take on how Weinstein behaved in group therapy is already on shaky ground.

Money and influence don’t disappear even when a figure falls from a position of power, and it’s likely that we’ll see Weinstein lounging around in rehabs for a while. The only people I’m feeling bad for here are his many, many victims, who continue to have their experiences questioned and disparaged by the man who harmed them, and for Weinstein’s therapists, somewhere in Arizona.

(via Page Six, image: Shutterstock)

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Posted by Kylie Cheung

Welcome to The Week in Reproductive Justice, a weekly recap of all news related to the hot-button issue of what lawmakers are allowing women to do with their bodies!

So, let’s see—the past month has seen the president of the United States repeal a policy that ensured millions of women’s access to free or affordable birth control, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement actively deny an undocumented minor access to abortion, and of course, thousands of people take to the internet to share heartbreaking tales of sexual abuse.

In a word, it’s been a horrifying time to be a woman. But events of this week in reproductive justice tell a sort of different story—one of women, activists, and courts fighting back, and research and academia fighting to make their voices on the abortion debate heard.

Here’s what you may have missed:

Federal courts in conflict over whether undocumented minor has human rights

Last week, the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement’s hand in barring a pregnant, undocumented minor from leaving a detainment center in Texas to have an abortion was shocking, even for an administration that claims its goal is to protect “life beginning from conception.” On Wednesday, a federal judge ordered the Department of Justice to allow the minor to have the procedure.

However briefly, the order offered some hope that the 15-weeks pregnant teenager who says government agencies “forced [her] to obtain counseling from a religiously affiliated crisis pregnancy center where I was forced to look at the sonogram,” would have access to the procedure, but the very next day, an appeals court put a hold on the order.

The gist of the Health and Human Service Department and Texas officials’ staunch refusal to recognize the minor’s right to an abortion is that she isn’t a citizen, and therefore, lack of paperwork somehow equates to her having no human rights whatsoever. But ultimately, what’s going on here remains pretty transparently connected to the Trump administration’s obsession with controlling women and dictating their bodily decisions and dehumanizing immigrants—imagine being both.

In an America plagued with a range of restrictions on abortion big and small, some women are more affected than others: minors can be blocked by judges and parents from having the procedure, and detained, undocumented women clearly have no rights whatsoever.

The case will return to court Friday morning, according to NPR.

Democratic lawmakers introduce bill to fight Trump contraceptive rollback

A couple of weeks after the Trump administration announced that it would allow employers and insurers everywhere to stop providing birth control coverage to people for quite literally any reason, 19 Democratic senators got behind and this week introduced a bill to fight back.

The Obama-era contraceptive mandate saved women about $1.4 billion annually, improved women’s health across the board, and served as perhaps one of the most effective mechanisms to protect equal opportunity in the country, only to become conditional based on whether or not employers respect women. (And, as new revelations of predatory men in positions of power reveal, many do not.)

According to The Hill, four Democrats in the House plan to unveil similar legislation, but the chances of either bills making it to the floor are dubious. Many of Trump’s actions are controversial even within his own party, but believe it or not, many predominantly white, male, Christian Republicans in Congress either don’t know or care about uses of birth control unrelated to pregnancy, and staunchly oppose women of reproductive age engaging in casual sex—shocking, I know. To most self-identified freedom lovers, freedom of religion means one thing and that is the freedom to punish women and gay people—that’s how it is, and that’s how it’s always been, really.

Anyway, where opposition to Trump’s actions will likely face failure in Republican-dominated Congress, lawsuits that will in all likelihood be met with success have already been launched, and individual states are already fighting back.

Wisconsin bill aims to bar UW residents from receiving abortion training

On Tuesday, the Wisconsin senate oversaw a contentious health committee hearing over a bill that would make it illegal for University of Wisconsin residents to receive training to perform abortions. The bill was first proposed in July, justified by the fact that state law prohibits taxpayer funding of abortion.

But there’s a thousand reasons why this bill and the logic behind it simply don’t make any sense. However much conservative lawmakers may wish this weren’t so, abortion is legal and there’s no reason why medical professionals and OB-GYNS shouldn’t be allowed to learn how to provide it. Further, the Council for Graduate Medical Education states that OB-GYN training must “provide training or access to training the provision of abortions, and this must be part of the planned curriculum.”

Of course, the conservative war on reproductive health specifically in education—i.e. the rise of abstinence-only sex ed in rural states, aka that region with the highest rates of teen pregnancy—is nothing new. But this case is particularly dangerous, as it seems to ignore that abortions can be necessary to save women’s lives. A new generation of doctors without these skills will inevitably equate to a new generation of endangered women, an alarming path forward for a country that already presently boasts the highest maternal mortality rates in the industrialized world, according to the most recent data.

In the state of Wisconsin, there are only two abortion clinics remaining as of 2016, and we all know how quickly these numbers can change for the worst.

But according to the Wisconsin State Journal, health experts aren’t taking this hit lying down: The Wisconsin Medical Society, the Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians, the Medical College of Wisconsin, and 12 other similar groups have already registered against the bill.

New data shows the abortion rate has steadily declined—but this could all change

Fresh research published in the American Journal of Public Health on Thursday reveals that between 2008 and 2014, the nation’s abortion rate fell 25 percent.

You might think that, considering 2008 and 2014 saw sporadic funding cuts to women’s health organizations and the rise of TRAP laws (targeted regulation of abortion clinics), perhaps this was because women simply didn’t have access to abortion. But according to the study’s researchers, the primary factor behind this decline was simple: more contraceptive use.

Prior research has shown that restrictions on abortion don’t affect the abortion rate, because women who need the procedure will find other—usually less safe—ways to have it, shouldering immense burden and even potentially endangering themselves in the process. Bottomline: Restrictions don’t work, but birth control does. What does work? Contraceptive access and sex ed. So, in summation, in dedicating their careers to barring both contraception and abortion access, conservatives aren’t even achieving their goals—they’re just ruining women’s lives.

Unsurprisingly, according to some experts, this decline in abortion rates could halt and reverse—a trend neither the right nor the left wants to see—and we’ll have “freedom of religion” to thank for that.

Tune in next week to see what lawmakers will try next in their never-ending mission to derail reproductive justice!

(image: Rena Schild / Shutterstock.com)

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October Book Club Announcement

Friday, October 20th, 2017 07:24 pm
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Posted by Amanda

We’ve selected With This Curse by Amanda DeWees for our October read for the SBTB book club. Our official selection post has some more information on the book, including Elyse’s thoughts on why it’s a great Gothic pick for the month of October.

Our chat will occur on Wednesday, October 25 from 8:00pm – 9:30pm EDT. That afternoon, we’ll post the chat link on the site and it will go live around 8:00pm. Sarah will lead a discussion of the book for around an hour, and then author Amanda DeWees will pop in for a Q&A!

We hope to see you there!

Does The Walking Dead Have a Big Negan Problem?

Friday, October 20th, 2017 06:25 pm
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Posted by Kaila Hale-Stern

I haven’t watched The Walking Dead since its first season (if you read my articles, you’ll have seen my many confessions to being easily frightened and generally avoiding horror). But as a pop culture writer, I try to stay apprised of what’s happening, and I’ve kept up on Walking Dead news throughout the years, reading recaps and articles on major twists and plotlines and, of course, the splashiest deaths.

So I had known about actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s much-touted rollout as the iconic comic’s villain Negan, and read the many takes during the agonizing season break while fans waited to discover who Negan had first killed on the main cast. Since then I hadn’t heard much noise about Negan, though at this year’s New York Comic Con, I spotted many Negan cosplayers, and several merch tables were selling officially licensed replicas of his barbed wire-wrapped baseball bat, Lucille. When a villain has a named weapon that even non-fans can identify on sight, that’s pretty damned impressive. I figured that Negan’s ubiquity made him the character that everyone loved—or at least loved to hate.

“Role play bat”

That’s why I was struck by a take in USA Today by Kelly Lawler, whose headline declares, “The Walking Dead needs to kill Negan to survive.” In the article, Lawler argues that Negan has overstayed his welcome by whole seasons, and is now bogging down the entire show.

“Negan is still alive, kicking and siphoning off what little energy the aging series has left,” Lawler writes, explaining that she’d expected Negan to be killed off a long time ago. Instead, “The villain has been at the center of nearly every storyline for nearly two years, and he’s a repulsive, tiresome and — worst of all — boring antagonist.” She lays the blame for Season 7’s ratings decline squarely on the show featuring Negan and his attendant plotlines so prominently.

Most damningly, Lawler argues that Negan was never fleshed out or presented well in the first place:

From nearly the moment it began to name-drop the villain early in Season 6 (Nov. 2015), Dead handled Negan badly. The character is a big presence in the comic books on which the series is based, and the TV version seemed to rely on that extratextual knowledge to give the character gravitas and depth, rather than actually earning it.

The threat posed by Negan and his followers was never clearly articulated, and it was impossible to make him seem truly menacing, partly due to  the fact that our heroes underestimated him. But that choice made the build-up to Negan’s first appearance seem forced.

When Negan finally surfaced, I was already tired of him.

She praises Morgan for being a good actor, but says that his portrayal leaves Negan as simply surface-level evil, without the substance or conflict that makes for a truly great villain. Instead, The Walking Dead spent “16 episodes demonstrating his depravity,” and even worse, all of this repetitive violence wasn’t even interesting: “This barrage of barbarity quickly became monotonous. Yes, Negan’s scenes were grotesque, but they were also utterly dull. In most of his scenes, he brought the momentum to a dead stop. His evil machinations were more annoying than threatening, his dialogue was flat and his scenes a slog. ”

I asked our social media guru and TWD authority Daniella Bondar whether she concurred with Lawler’s assessment. Daniella responded with a resounding YES. “They did a terrible job with him,” says Daniella. “Dude does not shut up.” She adds, “They just made him too much too fast instead of slow-playing him … If they want to keep him on the show a while, which is the plan I think, then they should have had a more editing eye with him.”

And herein lies the biggest problem, as both Lawler and Daniella point out: rather than having plans to summarily deal with the Big Bad once and for all, it looks like The Walking Dead wants to keep him around for as long as possible. (Maybe they are selling a lot of replica baseball bats?) The whole premise for the new season “is being hyped as an ‘all out war’ between Rick and Negan,” so it doesn’t look as though he’ll go anywhere fast. Even if Negan ultimately doesn’t survive the war, that could be another 16 hours of his relentless and apparently boring cruelty.

I should also point out that Jeffrey Dean Morgan recently drew the ire of fans for posting statements on “Blue Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter,” writing in a now-deleted Instagram post, “Dear a-holes, Blue lives do matter. Can’t believe I need to explain to you this fact. All lives matter. All of em,” thus demonstrating either an inability or an unwillingness to understand the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement. Fans who were already exhausted by Morgan’s portrayal of Negan now aren’t feeling too kindly about Morgan, either.

As an outsider looking in, it seems to me that The Walking Dead‘s creatives loved the idea and the mythos of Negan more than knowing what to do to make his character truly effective and menacing in a way that fans actually care about. When you keep beating a dead zombie—or person—again and again with the same barbed wire bat, at what point do you say “Enough?”

Lawler ends on a somewhat hopeful note: “Sunday marks The Walking Dead’s 100th episode, and part of the reason the series has survived so long is that it has managed to bounce back from creative downturns. Once the series dispenses with Negan, it can do so again if writers find new villains with some vitality.”

How do you solve a problem like Negan?

(via USA Today, image: AMC, Image Comics)

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Posted by Princess Weekes

A lot of the hashtags out there right now are addressing important issues like sexual assault (#MeToo), representation in the media (#SWRepMatters) and politics (#IBelieveFrederica). All of these are important, but sometimes it is good to have an escape on the internet that does not remind us of all the battles that still need to be fought.

#WhyIWrite is part of National Day on Writing, so authors, bloggers, and all lovers of the written word have taken to Twitter to express what writing has meant for them. While of course, there are some taking the opportunity to mock the “liberal media,” overwhelmingly it is about people expressing the importance of telling stories.

From the time I was 10 years old, I knew that what I wanted to do was tell stories, and a huge part of that was because it was rare to see people who looked and sounded like me in the books I liked. When I write, I write for that young girl who wanted more than anything to fly with Harry Potter. Also, Math is scary and I don’t care what Cady in Mean Girls said; just because it’s the same in every language doesn’t make it easy!

So why do you write?

(image: Shutterstock.com)

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Posted by Teresa Jusino

Imagine Captain America as the narrator of Our Town. It’s kinda perfect, right? Well, I don’t know if that’s the role Chris Evans will be reading, but what I do know is that Scarlett Johansson is gathering her Avengers buddies, as well as some other celebrity friends, for a staged reading of Our Town, which will benefit Puerto Rico’s disaster relief effort.

The people of Atlanta, GA are really lucky in that this benefit reading of Thornton Wilder’s play will be happening on November 6 at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre. So far Johansson, who’s currently in Atlanta filming Infinity War, has landed Avengers co-stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Mark Ruffalo, as well as additional surprise celebrity guests.

Johansson said this in an official statement:

“The struggle faced by Puerto Rican residents since their island was ravaged by Hurricane Maria is terribly heartbreaking and has left many feeling hopeless and helpless. It is a great privilege to be able to participate in whatever way I can, to provide some relief to those that are struggling to access even the most basic of human needs in the aftermath of this disastrous event. Please help me and my co-stars in coming together for an extraordinary, one-time-only evening to raise lifesaving funds for a devastated island and to help celebrate the true meaning of community with this unique reading of a great American classic.”

John Gore Organization is backing the benefit, and Gore says “We immediately asked how we could help. We couldn’t be happier to support our friend, Scarlett, and her co-stars in producing this evening for such a worthy cause.”

Proceeds from the evening will benefit The Hurricane Maria Community Relief & Recovery Fund which is housed at the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD). Funds will support “immediate relief, recovery and equitable rebuilding in Puerto Rico for low-income communities of color hit hardest by the storm. The fund will support organizations working on the front lines with these communities.”

If you’re in, or can be in Atlanta in November, tickets go on sale MONDAY over at the Fox Theatre’s website. The Our Town-specific site isn’t up yet, but the address will be FoxTheatre.org/OurTown.

And now, because there’s never not a good reason for this meme, but right now it seems really appropriate:

(image: Teresa Jusino)

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(no subject)

Friday, October 20th, 2017 01:54 pm
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[personal profile] the_rck
Cordelia got home about 1 a.m. I think she enjoyed the concert (Imagine Dragons) in spite of several anxiety spikes. It means that she and I each only got about three and a half hours of sleep. I let her go to bed without even brushing her teeth. My impression is that they'd have been back here a good bit earlier, but they got stuck in the parking structure for more than half an hour after the concert.

I went back to bed after Cordelia left for school. I slept another three or four hours (not sure when I actually fell asleep). I still want more sleep, but Cordelia will be home in an hour.

Rumors where Scott works are that there may be an opening for a supervisor on third shift. If there is, he wants to apply and thinks he has a good chance of getting it. Both of us have mixed feelings about it, but getting a supervisory slot on either second or third shift is the only path to advancement from where he is. The times he's applied for jobs off the factory floor, the decision has always come down to him and one other person who has supervisory experience. Even when supervisory experience isn't relevant for the position, it matters. The fact that supervisors make more money matters, too, but they get more mandatory overtime to go with it because there has to be a supervisor there if anybody's working.

It would mean that he and I would never sleep at the same time and that he'd no longer see Cordelia for that little bit of time before school (he never used to when she was getting up for a later start time). Another downside is that he and I wouldn't intersect for meals very often-- I'd eat breakfast before he got home and both lunch and dinner while he was asleep. I'd need to alter my daytime activities a lot so as not to wake him when playing music or watching DVDs. He thinks that I can do more than I did while he was on that shift temporarily, but we'd have to experiment a bit to find the parameters.

He did tend to get more sleep when he was (temporarily) on third shift and so would be more awake/energetic in the evenings, and it meant being able to deal with his medical appointments without taking time off.

(no subject)

Friday, October 20th, 2017 09:16 am
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[personal profile] sistawendy
[Access restricted for kink - or rather, the consequences thereof.]

But first: Learning Elixir for work. So far so good. Slightly weird syntax in places, but not verbose and not an egregious violator of the sadly underrated Principle of Least Astonishment.

You know those spectacular bruises I picked up at the Folsom Street Fair, or more precisely, the Friday night before? The last of the deep purple and yellow disappeared early this week, but most of the large original area of the bruises is still faintly lavender. I've never seen anything quite like it on myself or anyone else. I can't help but wonder if it's ever going away, because it's been four weeks now.
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Posted by Princess Weekes

When it was announced that the Boy Scouts of America was going to start allowing girls to join all sections of the programs, it was expected that there would be some pushback from different places. I mean girls … in the boy scouts? What’s next? The White House? Anytime women begin to integrate a literal boys’ club, traditionalists act as though the very concept of masculinity/manliness is under attack. Political cartoonist, Rick McKee attempted to “call out” this particular “attack” on traditional male identity in his cartoon published by The Augusta Chronicle.

Sadly, in the words of hit-maker and Rihanna collaborator D.J. Khaled:

Instead of riling people up about the tragic, de-masculinization of the Boy Scouts, people instead were confused as to why this was supposed to be a bad thing. I mean of course, there were some who continued to play themselves, but overwhelmingly, people are not afraid of the Boy Scouts becoming a gender-neutral organization. Because, spoiler alert: boys and girls playing and learning skills together … is something they do most places.

Yet, with all the talk of what this means for the future of the Boy Scouts, there is still a discussion that needs to be had about how the Girl Scouts will continue as an organization if they lose potential members to their brother organization. As some Tumblr users commented:

“This is literally just a way of attracting girls away from the feminism of Girl Scouts to the Christian patriarchy because we still think Boy Scouts are better because they’re for boys. …

“Girls joining Boy Scouts is false progressivism. While I think perhaps the days of gendered scouting might be numbered, it shouldn’t be because everyone is now joining the conservative organization of the Boy Scouts.”


“Plus, the girls won’t really be allowed to do all of the scouting things. Just some limited things, in special programs.

“Don’t for a minute believe this means a girl can be an Eagle Scout. It isn’t even close. It’s a bullshit program from everything I’ve read.”

(via Buzzfeed, image: The Augusta Chronicle, Rick McKee/Buzzfeed/Tumblr )

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Listen to the Stranger Things Season 2 Soundtrack Now

Friday, October 20th, 2017 03:14 pm
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Posted by Charline Jao

There’s a lot to look forward to when Stranger Things season 2 returns this month, especially more of the awesome music they had in Season 1. The soundtrack for the second season is currently on Spotify, and the original work of Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, members of the band S U R V I V E is as synth-heavy and sci-fi appropriate as ever.

Those curious can also try and interrogate some meaning from the song titles, which include “Eulogy” (who’s gone?!), “The First Lie” (as we learned from Season 1, friend’s don’t lie), “Birth/Rescue,” “Eggo in the Snow,” and “Shouldn’t Have Lied.” There’s going to be a lot going down this season. The last song on the list? “To Be Continued.” Looks like we might be getting another ambiguous/cliff-hanger ending.

Anyway, don’t mind me as I try and make my morning commute way more interesting and full of science fiction possibility by blasting “Walkin in Hawkins.”

What do you think of the Season 2 soundtrack?

(via Indiewire, image: Netflix)

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Posted by Ashley Chupp

“You cannot overcome suffering if you refuse to look at it” is a line spoken to the titular character in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. It also serves as something of a thesis statement for the game, in which a warrior traverses the Norse mythology-based Underworld to redeem the soul of her deceased love. In a medium saturated with glory or duty-spurred warrior archetypes, Hellblade gives us something sorely needed: an achingly realistic portrayal of how women experience and cope with severe trauma.

It is important to note Senua’s physical aptitude. She’s a skilled warrior, on par with one of any gender, and this is important to her journey. Still, it isn’t her sole source of strength. Combat play is interspersed with stretches of puzzle-solving and long, revealing cutscenes that make it clear to the player that Senua’s emotional fortitude is exactly as vital to her survival as her battle prowess. Even during combat, each individual fight is deeply felt, as opposed to cutting down swathes of foes, then sprinting off unaffected.

Hellblade’s chief distinguishing feature is its aural atmosphere. It’s best played with headphones, as the information the player receives through sound is crucial to gameplay. The enveloping soundscape doesn’t just guide the player; it gives them immediate insight into Senua’s state of mind. When the way through Hel becomes especially bleak and terrifying, you hear it in Senua’s shaky breath. The graphics are excellent, but there are still intimacies of expression that technology can’t artificially generate. This is where Hellblade ingeniously supplements with sound. Senua’s terror and trauma is evident and unfiltered, making her courage and perseverance that much more affecting.

Women have been soldiering on in the face of immense hardship for as long as they have existed. In a world where women are so often abused and disenfranchised, Senua’s journey is more universal that it seems at first glance. So many of us have experienced significant loss and mistreatment, yet still rise to the unfair expectation that we provide care for everyone other than ourselves. Senua plays this out on a grander scale than the average woman, but at its core, it’s still the story so many of us find ourselves living out on repeat.

Indeed, the entire reason Senua single-handedly storms the gates of Hel is to save someone she cares for. She doesn’t come for revenge. She doesn’t come to prove herself. She comes to do right by her loved one, even when no one would blame her for giving up or moving on.

Senua is “cursed” with something referred to in-game as “The Darkness,” a clear allegory for mental illness. (The game begins with a trigger warning for realistic simulations of psychosis.) Senua was born experiencing the world in a way different from others, which unfortunately begat so much of her situational trauma, as often is the case for women who struggle with mental illness. Some (including Senua herself at times) view her as an abomination, but a precious few believe in the enormous strength she has already shown.

Trust in these allies is essential to Senua’s survival, even as she maneuvers through a hostile world, even as her own mind deceives her. Breaking through the fog of harmful voices, Senua’s lost love Dillion, her old friend Druth, and her mother Galena all speak wisdom, guidance, and motivation to her. She cannot make it through alone. Accepting help from her loved ones is crucial. In this, Hellblade illustrates one of womankind’s most incredible abilities: that of remaining open no matter how badly the world wants to see them hardened and isolated.

Senua also must learn to trust herself, broken as she may be. Women are vigorously socialized to assume responsibility for their own trauma. Slut-shaming and victim-blaming are used to dismiss the pain and suffering women face to such an extent that we often internalize these lies subconsciously. Senua is no exception. The voices in her head whisper blame and doubt in her darkest moments. “This is your fault,” they tell her. They beg her to give up—to accept that she is doomed.

She doesn’t. Senua fights her own internal battles with the same steadfastness and bravery she brings to her external ones, as women do. In order to succeed as Senua, you must sift through the voices that surround you, weeding out the ones that preach self-doubt and self-blame to focus in on the ones that offer you help and hope. If you know who to listen to, you will find crucial hints in both the combat and puzzle-solving aspects of the game, and Senua will be victorious.

Hellblade is not a simple or easy ride. It is emotionally taxing, painful, and terrifying. But it is well worth it to validate the everyday heroism of women who tirelessly grapple with the world and themselves, just because it’s the right thing to do.

(image: Ninja Theory)

Ashley Chupp is a Chicago-based writer, improviser, and crossword enthusiast. She can usually be found drinking Diet Coke at the bar or crying at Trader Joe’s.

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Merriam-Webster's trending list today:

Tuesday, October 24th, 2017 10:07 am
conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
mike (short for "microphone")

Should I ditch my plans and plunge into a day of current events?
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Posted by Charline Jao

Director Quentin Tarantino, who had collaborated with producer and predator Harvey Weinstein for decades on films like Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds, and The Hateful Eight, spoke to the New York Times for about an hour about the producer’s continuous harassment and assault towards women in the industry.

Mainly, he revealed the unsurprising but still horrifying fact that he was completely aware of Weinstein’s behavior. “I knew enough to do more than I did,” he said. “There was more to it than just the normal rumors, the normal gossip. It wasn’t secondhand. I knew he did a couple of these things.”

Tarantino confessed that he had known about the abuse of power from actress friends of his, including his former girlfriend Mira Sorvino who recently shared accounts of Weinstein trying to massage her, chasing her through a hotel room, and more. The director shared that he felt the problem was resolved when Sorvino became his girlfriend, and Weinstein would keep his distance.

The director also pointed out that nearly everyone close to Weinstein knew one of these stories. So how did Tarantino continue working with with Weinstein for several more years, even attending an engagement party Weinstein threw for the director just weeks before? “What I did was marginalize the incidents,” says Tarantino. “Anything I say now will sound like a crappy excuse.”

And of course, that’s what they are. They are crappy excuses that paint him as an apathetic, uncaring coward whose career benefited from keeping his silence. The New York Times article is full of apologies. He also said (emphasis mine):

“I chalked it up to a ’50s–’60s era image of a boss chasing a secretary around the desk … As if that’s O.K. That’s the egg on my face right now.

“I wish I had taken responsibility for what I heard. If I had done the work I should have done then, I would have had to not work with him.

“I’m calling on the other guys who knew more to not be scared. Don’t just give out statements. Acknowledge that there was something rotten in Denmark. Vow to do better by our sisters.

“What was previously accepted is now untenable to anyone of a certain consciousness.”

Now, reactions to Tarantino are somewhat split, with some praising the director for being candid and upfront about his failures, and others feeling frustrated and angry at how blatantly complicit the director was in Weinstein’s abuse. If it wasn’t clear, I’m in the latter camp. I’m furious at how familiar this story is, as it reminds us that while there are many hidden predators, there are just as many who quietly support them—that you could be Tarantino’s girlfriend and he still wouldn’t take real action against your abuser.

That’s not to promote the idea that men should be motivated only when someone close to them is under threat, only to point out that Tarantino’s reaction to Sorvino’s treatment wasn’t to try to create an environment where that couldn’t happen to any woman. Rather, his reaction was to use his own status, to enforce the idea that Sorvino was off-limits because she was his—not because she’s, you know, a person. What he thought of the less-famous actresses without famous boyfriends, we don’t know.

And “previously accepted”? By whom? Because anyone with a “certain consciousness” recognized that Weinstein’s behavior was never acceptable. Tarantino, in his call for action, also noted that Hollywood has been “operating under an almost Jim Crow-like system that us males have almost tolerated. We allowed it to exist because that’s the way it was.”

Beyond what’s wrong with the Jim Crow comparison in the first place (let’s remember that black women often have an even harder time when it comes to going forward with allegations), Tarantino’s use of the word “tolerated” and “allowed” really snag here. It’s incredibly telling about how he views his position. “Tolerating” and “allowing” something implies a certain level of passivity. Let’s make it clear: What Tarantino was doing was not passive.

It was a conscious choice of looking away from a problem, and deciding that the well-being and safety of these women weren’t of enough concern. It was hearing these stories and then going on to make hugely popular, award-winning films—ones that Weinstein would later go on to quote, name-drop, and reference when propositioning and preying on young, up-and-coming actresses.

It was an active enforcement of the status quo, of rape culture that keeps women silent and afraid while uplifting their abusers. Tarantino’s work and career is one that uplifted and contributed to Weinstein’s power—this is not tolerating a power structure, it is creating one.

Like all the stories coming out now about Hollywood and Weinstein, we should never forget that rape culture is in every industry and every aspect of our day-to-day lives. “When did you meet YOUR Harvey Weinstein?” showed us that countless women encounter workplace harassment and assault from men in power. But I’m sure that just as many women can recall a Quentin Tarantino in their life.

The Tarantino is the man who made excuses for your abuser, who didn’t cut him out of his life despite the fact that just the mention of his name leaves you crying and shaking, and who you see posing and smiling with your abuser in photos. He’s the man who feels so, so bad about what he did and gets called “brave” and “honest” for admitting his wrongdoings while the women who came forth before him are still dealing with threats and doubt. He’s a crappy excuse.

Tarantino states that Weinstein needs to “face the music,” but it feels just as necessary for men like Tarantino who are complicit in that kind of abuse to face the music as well. That is, if we truly want to change the culture.

(via NY Times, image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

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Julian Clare May (1931 - 2017)

Friday, October 20th, 2017 10:03 am
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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Angry Robot Books reports the death of Julian May.

Eva's 12 today!

Friday, October 20th, 2017 09:01 am
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[personal profile] conuly
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Posted by Teresa Jusino

A big concern some Star Wars fans have about J.J. Abrams returning to direct Episode IX after helming The Force Awakens in 2015 is that he was too “safe” a choice for the end of this particular trilogy. What’s more, they feel that TFA was simply a retread of A New Hope, so they worry about the implications of that on the final installment. It seems that Abrams hopes to alleviate some of those concerns.

In a recent interview with BBC Radio 4, Abrams was with long-time collaborator Michael Giacchino, who recently contributed to the Star Wars universe by taking on last-minute composing duties on Rogue One. With regard to what their intentions are for working on Episode IX, Abrams said:

“[I]t’s certainly something that I’m aware of now working on Episode IX — coming back into this world after having done Episode VII. I feel like we need to approach this with the same excitement that we had when we were kids, loving what these movies were.

“At the same time, we have to take them places that they haven’t gone, and that’s sort of our responsibility. It’s a strange thing – Michael’s worked on things like Planet of the Apes and Star Trek and Star Wars, and these are the things of dreams. Yet we can’t just revel in that; we have to go elsewhere.”

Meanwhile, as reported by ComicBook.com, a fan on Reddit recently talked about meeting Abrams and Episode IX co-writer, Chris Terrio, and why it made him confident that Episode IX is going to be awesome:

“They said that they’re going to be brave and there will be big surprises. I got the impression that J.J. felt like he had to refresh previous Star Wars moments for a modern audience in TFA, and now it feels like they have free reign to do what they want.

“Apparently they’ve had no interference from Kathleen or Pablo or the Lucasfilm Story Group. 9 is also the film which unites all three trilogies and brings everything together. That’s all they would tell me.”

The trilogies, you say? Ugh. Don’t remind me (well, don’t remind me of The Phantom Menace. The other two were okay). Still, it makes sense having Episode IX be the culmination of the entire Skywalker saga film franchise as it stands now (no pressure), and if that’s the case then it really should be the freest of the bunch as the last chapter of a really long story.

I’ve gotta say, there’s no pleasing some people. Star Wars: TFA was “too much” like A New HopeStar Trek in 2009 was “too unlike” original Trek. Be risky, but not too risky. There’s no winning, really, which is why we’re gonna get whatever movie we’re gonna get without getting any say in it whatsoever.

What I kind of hope happens is that I want them to film a short film that looks like the beginning of Episode IX, except that after the crawl the film opens with Rey, Poe, Finn, and BB-8 sitting at, like, an Applebee’s having a Tarantino-esque discussion about pop culture. For half an hour. Then, just when fans start getting really pissed, Abrams comes on screen and is like “You wanted different!” and then says, “Nah, I was just messing with you. Here’s the actual movie.” That’s what I’d do, anyway, if it were me.

Which is probably why no one will let me direct anything.

(via The Wrap, image: Lucasfilm)

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Posted by Charline Jao

Backstage on The Late Late Show, Adam Scott and Ben Schwartz took some time to respond to Parks and Recreation fan theories the show pulled from Reddit. These range from theories that point out tension in plot lines (how does Leslie buy those extravagant presents?) to the completely outrageous. But do they amount to anything?

The theories:

  • Was the team embezzling money from Pawnee City Hall? (Evidence cites the money Ron and Leslie have and Ben’s nervousness around the police.)
  • Did Ben once date Rachel from Friends? (The name “Ben Wyatt” comes up in one Friends episode when Monica mentions Rachel slept with Ben. The theory also speculates that she dumped him after learning of Ice Town.)
  • Is Jerry actually a sleeper agent? (His family is too perfect, he’s “oddly okay with people changing his name,” and The Americans “is a really cool show.”)

While Scott and Schwartz both strongly disagree with the first point, with Schwartz repeatedly going “How dare you?”, while Schwartz is willing to let the second one go for kicks. Scott essentially sums up how I feel about crossover fan theories (I’m looking at you Disney conspiracy theorists), responding, “When you cross TV streams like that, it tears a hole in the space-time continuum.”

As for the Jerry-theory, the two are all for it. “I agree with this 100%” says Schwartz, “and then I would like to see a Jerry/Mr. Bean type film where he’s an international spy and he says no words, but he farts and has heart attacks all the time. He’s constantly, like, falling into good luck. I would love to see that, he’s 100% a spy. I mean, you’re right, it’s almost too easy and too wonderful. He’s just so happy all the time, he’s hiding, he has deep regrets and the only way he can get it out is by taking lives and stealing artifacts.”

Do you have any favorite Parks and Rec theories?

(via screencap)

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Unwanted Girl by MK Schiller

Friday, October 20th, 2017 08:00 am
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Posted by Carrie S


Unwanted Girl

by M.K. Schiller
January 19, 2016 · Lyrical Shine

Unwanted Girl deals with serious topics and yet manages to be a sweet, satisfying romance. It’s quite a balancing act in terms of tone.

The hero of Unwanted Girl is Nick Dorsey, the writer of a series of bestselling spy novels of the James Bond type. Nick is also a recovering meth addict. When the book starts, he’s been meth-free for eighteen months, although he still drinks alcohol in moderation (N.B.: most recovery programs do not recommend continuing to drink alcohol after quitting other drugs, although it appears that some people are able to do it). Nick goes to Narcotics Anonymous, has been healing his relationships with family, and is struggling with writer’s block. He lives in New York City.

Nick likes to order sandwiches from a deli that delivers. The same woman always delivers his sandwiches. Eventually she introduces herself and invites herself in. Her name is Shyla, and she is from a small village in India. Shyla is studying education with plans to return to India to be a teacher. Shyla asks Nick to help her write a book of her own and as they work on it they fall in love.

Shyla promises Nick that her book has a happy ending. Nick finds this hard to believe, since her story is about the practice of female gendercide as well as spousal abuse and rape (obviously, HUGE trigger warnings for rape, spousal abuse, child abuse, and sexism). As they work together on her book, they also watch movies and she reads both his spy thrillers and his much more personal first novel. This leads to talk about culture, the meaning and purpose of fiction, and gender and race representation.

Shyla’s story forms a book within the book. It’s about a baby in rural India who is abandoned by her biological parents due to her gender and adopted by a woman who has recently lost her only child. This woman, Nalini, names the baby Asha and raises her with the support of a local nun and teacher named Sarah. Sarah insists on Asha continuing her education well into adulthood. However, Asha is frustrated when she marries an abusive man whose mother is also abusive to Asha. Asha wonders the point of all this education is if she never gets to use it.

Even though the book Shyla is writing is full of trauma, and Nick is dealing with the consequences of his addiction, Shyla and Nick are very playful together. Their playfulness lightens the tone, rounds out their characters, and is just generally a kick to read. It also establishes that despite Nick’s original assumption about Shyla, she is comfortable and confident in her sexuality and not opposed to pre-marital sex. Nick makes many assumptions about Shyla and it’s satisfying to see her overthrow them one after another.

Shyla is an interesting character and I would have enjoyed learning more about the family and friends she works with and lives with in New York. She has a strong sense of self that I admired, and she also has the ability to be flexible in her understanding of the world around her without losing the core sense of who she is. For example, she explains that earlier in her life she would have been shocked at the idea that two women could be in a committed relationship and raise a child, but after living for some time in New York she accepts the idea that there are many configurations of family (Nick’s sister and sister-in-law have an adopted daughter). She has a wicked sense of humor that endeared her to me entirely. On the other hand, towards the end of the book she makes a couple of comments that drove me up the wall, including one about women needing to be ladylike. If she had made that comment at the beginning of the book instead of near the end I doubt I would have stuck with it.

Nick is a more bland character. He’s used to telling people what to do. His inability to comprehend things like the racism in Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom frustrated me. I felt that he tended to infantilize Shyla, assuming that she would be naïve and shy when actually she’s seen much more of the world than he has. Their relationship levels out eventually.

This book is basically a billionaire romance, with Shyla as a Cinderella who finds a rich prince. Nick isn’t a billionaire, but he is very wealthy, and he loves and is generous with beautiful things and good food. Meanwhile, Shyla is hardworking and, while not desperately impoverished, limited in her financial resources. The cross-cultural and feminist elements deepen the story and there’s a bit of thriller intrigue at the end involving a twist that frankly I did not entirely buy. There is a happy ending to both Asha’s story and Shyla’s story but readers should be warned that Asha goes through absolute (graphically described) hell before she gets to the happy ending that Shyla promises. The writing can be a bit stilted and the characters aren’t equally balanced, but the sensitive handling of difficult material and the balance of tragedy and humor bring the book up to a B+.

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Posted by SB Sarah

This is something of an all-in-one episode. Ready?

We begin with one last recommendation request for Amanda and me, and then we squee! Amanda and I both read a book we loved, and want to tell all of you about it. We go on at length, too, so be ready. It’s got magic and mystery and a terrific heroine.

But because I know so many of you immediately grab the next book when you begin a new series, I wanted to include a little information about book 2, which I DNFd after a scene that really irritated me.

THEN, I have an email from an anonymous listener who wanted to share some information based on episode 257, where we discussed BDSM and chronic pain. This is some fascinating stuff, so stay tuned for that.

Listen to the podcast →
Read the transcript →

Here are the books we discuss in this podcast:

Our anonymous listener mentioned shibari rope bondage techniques, and you can learn more online.

The episode our anonymous listener was responding to was episode 257: Bitches Assemble: Our Favorite Recommendations and the Expectations of Tentacles. 

If you like the podcast, you can subscribe to our feed, or find us at iTunes. You can also find us on Stitcher, too. We also have a cool page for the podcast on iTunes.

Thanks to our sponsors:

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Sponsor us through Patreon! (What is Patreon?)

What did you think of today's episode? Got ideas? Suggestions? You can talk to us on the blog entries for the podcast or talk to us on Facebook if that's where you hang out online. You can email us at sbjpodcast@gmail.com or you can call and leave us a message at our Google voice number: 201-371-3272. Please don't forget to give us a name and where you're calling from so we can work your message into an upcoming podcast.

Thanks for listening!

This Episode's Music

Our music is provided by Sassy Outwater.

This is “Fishing at Orbost,” by the Peatbog Fairies, from their album Dust.

You can find all things Peatbog at their website, or at Amazon or iTunes.

Podcast Sponsor

organization Academy lighthouse logoThis episode is brought to you by Organization Academy.

Organization Academy the home of my online courses on using Google Calendar to declutter your schedule and organize your life. I did a series on SBTB about how I use Google Calendar to automate and manage every aspect of my day, including home, family, business, other business, freelance writing, podcasting, meal planning, and more.

Over the past year, I have developed a step by step instructional program outlining the method I use for meal planning, and I am about to launch my first online course, Menu Planning Mastery. It’s all about saving time, energy, and money by harnessing the power of Google Calendar to manage your meal planning.

If you feel overwhelmed sometimes by the question “What’s for dinner?” when you don’t know the answer, this course is for you. This method can save you time and reduce stress.

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mostly links, some work wtf

Friday, October 20th, 2017 02:10 am
tsuki_no_bara: (Default)
[personal profile] tsuki_no_bara
happy birthday [livejournal.com profile] halfshellvenus! this hedge is for you. :D

dancing boys: *two-step*

them too.

so i survived another busy season, and seriously, this was the chillest busy season since i started in tax. i did eventually get in some overtime, tho. yesterday was marked by a lot of frantic bursts of activity in and among stretches of nothing working. >.< SO FRUSTRATING. and today everything was fine. and for reasons that escape me, our holiday party is going to be on a monday night. because that makes sense. last year i think it was on a thursday.

i'm watching 28 weeks later and jeremy renner is in it! and idris elba! i saw it before i knew who either of them was, so i only remember robert carlyle and harold perrineau. i like 28 days later better. it's a little more hopeful at the end. 28 weeks seems kind of nihilistic.

if you've been feeling like the world is a trash fire (understandable, since it is), maybe thirty-six baby pandas will help you feel at least a little better. i mean, come on, baby pandas.

also take comfort from the fact that a memorial fund set up to honor philando castile raised enough money to wipe out all student lunch debt for the year. (we will for the moment try to ignore that "student lunch debt" is even a thing.) (we will also for the moment try to ignore why there's even a memorial fund for philando castile in the first place. [1])

scientists discovered two stars slamming into each other, the first time such a thing has been observed from earth. it was such a massive collision that it distorted spacetime. neat!

there's going to be a women of nasa lego set! also neat! it includes mae jemison and sally ride with a space shuttle, nancy roman and a hubble telescope, and margaret hamilton and a stack of "books" to represent the source code that helped get men to the moon. there was supposed to be a katherine johnson too, but i don't think they could get permission.

richard spencer, known white supremacist and neo-nazi, famous for having been punched in the face on camera, spoke at the university of florida today, and a local brewery had a fabulous suggestion on how to protest. hint: it involves free beer. :D

a huge cache of yiddish documents were found in a church in vilnius, in lithuania, where they'd been hidden during ww2. when the soviets came through and took the country from germany, local jews managed to smuggle some stuff out, and a non-jewish librarian hid a lot of things in the church basement.

[1] he was killed by a cop. he was a nutrition services supervisor for a st paul school and would help kids pay for their lunches with his own money, hence the purpose of the fund.

Today's ambiguity

Thursday, October 19th, 2017 10:47 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
"Resent" is both how one might feel about being told an email never arrived and also what one might do in response.


Thursday, October 19th, 2017 10:47 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
The month was only half over last weekend. How can it be almost three quarters over only a week later?

(no subject)

Thursday, October 19th, 2017 09:48 pm
the_rck: (Default)
[personal profile] the_rck
I went downtown yesterday early enough to have time to return things to the library and to pick up my holds. I had a little more than forty minutes before the bus I needed to take to get to Skyline. I got out to the school about fifteen minutes before the final bell. Cordelia was a little worried about where to meet because I wanted to give her geometry teacher some Puffs as a donation (the district no longer provides tissues for teachers to put out for the kids who have colds/allergies).

The fundraiser stuff was in two smallish boxes, one of which only contained a beef sausage thingy and so didn't weigh very much. I told the cab dispatcher where we'd be waiting, but he neglected to tell the cabbie. Fortunately, he guessed the front entrance, and we'd positioned ourselves where we could see cars on both loops approaching that (there's one for buses and one for parents dropping off/picking up, but when there aren't buses there, cars can use either).

We had friends over to play games last night. We played a cooperative game called Star Trek Five Year Mission that Scott's planning to run at UCon. We missed a lot of details the first time through. I didn't play the second game because they wanted to do the timed version. I didn't want to deal with that. Instead, I took a short walk and recaptured the Ingress portal down the street. I managed to get a silver (second level out of five) badge for making fields.

I had intended to go out this morning, but Scott's sister texted me with an invitation for Cordelia to go out to a concert this evening, and I spent quite a long time trying to coordinate that (including reaching Cordelia to make sure she even wanted to go). I can only assume that my niece intended to take a friend and had that friend cancel at the last minute. I didn't ask.

I've written 1200 words today, just not on any of my established WIP. Because I needed a new, half completed story. Really, I did.
bbb_mod: (Default)
[personal profile] bbb_mod posting in [community profile] bandombigbang
Thanks to everyone who helped make this year's Big Bang a success. *showers everyone in confetti*

Seriously, there are more than 40 new Bandom fanworks out in the universe, and that is an amazing thing!

Please take the time to experience some of the great fanworks that have come out of this challenge, and try to leave a comment or kudos if you enjoyed the creator's work. We know that everyone worked really hard to complete their fanworks, and we're very proud of them.

Spread the word about the Bandom Big Bang, rec a fanwork to your friends. Share the joy. If you have any final comments/complaints/ideas/etc, feel free to email the mods or leave a comment in this post.

Hope to see you next year!

-the mods

The Masterlist )

Plugin Problems

Thursday, October 19th, 2017 07:06 pm
jimhines: (Shego - Facepalm)
[personal profile] jimhines
My Journalpress plugin is no longer posting things to Dreamwidth. I've seen reports that this is due to a change Dreamwidth made in their site security or configuration, but I'm not sure.

I'll be looking for solutions, but in the meantime, you can always find everything on the website at http://www.jimchines.com/blog/
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