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Posted by Ana Valens

“Basically, my soul is like male,” Jake Zyrus told Oprah Winfrey in 2014, then identifying as a lesbian. “But I’m not going to go through that stage where I change everything.”

Three years later in June 2017, Zyrus changed his name to Jake Zyrus online and officially came out as transgender. The change brought about massive support across the internet for the former Glee star, as Zyrus joined the ranks of such transgender celebrities as Janet Mock, Ian Harvie, and Laverne Cox.

Of course, Zyrus isn’t alone by any means. Trans celebrities are on the rise, and they’re more prominent than ever.

That’s because transgender representation is increasing in media, and there are plenty of trans actors, musicians, comedians, and entertainers out there making their work known. Other times, transgender people find themselves thrust into the spotlight thanks to their extraordinary stories. Take Chelsea Manning, America’s most controversial whistleblower in the nation’s history. Being a transgender woman most certainly changes the mainstream discussion on her actions and treatment in prison.

Of course, there are too many trans celebrities out there to list. But here are a few out, open, and proud activists you should know about.

Transgender celebrities

1. Janet Mock

transgender celebrities : janet mock Screengrab via Janet Mock/Instagram

Janet Mock is one of the most famous transgender women of color in media today. First entering the world of journalism as a staff editor for People magazine, in 2011 she came out as transgender for women’s magazine Marie Claire. Mock has since hosted the MSNBC interview series So POPular!, featuring such popular figures as Lena Dunham and Amber Rose. And she’s also served as a producer and interviewer for the HBO documentary The Trans List, exploring the lives and times of popular trans celebrities.

“As long as people are targeted because of their identities, our politics and our movement and our actions need to be just as targeted,” Mock told Elle in an interview for The Trans List. “We need to be exacting about who is most vulnerable, who is not being served. It’s the poor, the incarcerated, the condemned, the feminine, the trans, the queer. It’s the uneducated. That’s what we need to center in our politics. And when we center our most vulnerable, we actually are a stronger society.”

Alongside her work in entertainment media, Mock came into critical acclaim with her memoir, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More. Released in 2014, Mock’s book opens up about her transition as a transgender woman, her life struggles from a young age, and her growth into the person she is today. Redefining Realness is considered a staple in trans non-fiction literature, showing how transgender writers can talk about their pasts in honest and thoughtful ways.

2. Jen Richards

celebrities that are transgender : jen richards Screengrab via Jen Richards/Instagram

Jen Richards broke out into the spotlight with her 2016 webseries Her Story, a romantic drama exploring transgender women’s romantic lives in a hostile and transphobic world. But Richards has been working for years as a trans activist in entertainment, writing several editorials on trans representation in media, and hosting the Trans 100 project celebrating 100 influential trans figures in the community.

Most notably, Richards reached popular and critical acclaim as physical therapist Juliette on CMT’s series Nashville. In an interview with NewNowNext, Richards praised the show’s writers, pointing out how her character’s transgender history is handled through subtle and layered dialogue that isn’t too explicit. She believes that, through open and visible representation on TV, trans actors and actresses can change the public’s perception of transgender women.

“The first trans death of 2017 was a young, black trans woman in Mississippi. One of the ways we can combat things like H.B. 2 in North Carolina is by getting trans people on television,” Richards told NewNowNext. “That law is only possible by peoples’ projections of their own fears. They buy into this image of some burly predator who throws on a wig and says they’re a trans woman and can get access to a women’s bathroom. Which is fiction for people like me, who have been invisible.”

3. Laura Jane Grace

transgender celebrities : laura jane grace Screengrab via Laura Jane Grace/Instagram

Frontwoman for the band Against Me!, Laura Jane Grace has been making headlines for years as an out and open transgender punk rock musician. After initially coming out to her band and the public in 2012, Grace’s story sparked public awareness for trans rights in punk rock, with many musicians openly supporting Grace through her transitioning. Since then, Against Me! has released the studio album Transgender Dysphoria Blues, discussing the gender dysphoria and disassociation Grace felt with her body before coming out.

Years later, Grace has continued to work as an LGBTQ activist both inside and outside of the music industry. She also released a memoir in 2016, Tranny, exploring her coming out as largely inspired through her journal entries. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Grace sheds light on her transitioning, calling it a process that changes and grows with the person undergoing gender transitioning.

“This idea of what you’re going to transition into or who you’re going to be, that’s not how you’re going to end up,” Grace told Rolling Stone. “You don’t know who that person you’re going to transition into is. You just have to see.”

4. Thomas Beatie

celebrities that are transgender : thomas beatie Screengrab via Thomas Beatie/Instagram

American transgender activist Thomas Beatie shows that there’s more than one way to become a father. Beatie hit national fame after a report for the Advocate revealed that he had faced discrimination across the country for being a pregnant man. Doctors objected to having him as a patient, citing religious reasons, and Beatie’s prenatal care quickly became difficult. But as mainstream news outlets began covering Beatie’s story, his pregnancy gave rise to national and international interest in transgender parenthood, paving the way for a larger discussion on fatherhood and pregnancy for transgender men.

Beatie’s story has also introduced another important issue for the trans community: transgender parental rights.

After Beatie and his former wife Nancy began divorce proceedings, Beatie’s relationship with his wife and his children created a national precedent for transgender child custody cases. A messy and complicated proceeding with the Arizona court system followed, which repeatedly wavered on Beatie’s gender identity as well as his relationship with his children. By 2013, the courts refused to allow Beatie to separate from his wife, citing Beatie’s transgender status to claim that the marriage was actually a “same-sex” relationship. At the time, Arizona did not allow same-sex marriage, so ironically the judge ruled that Thomas Beatie was in a same-sex marriage and thus could not get a divorce for a marriage that the state did not recognize.

The ruling was riddled with transphobia. But in 2014, the Arizona Appeals Court ruled that the Beaties’ marriage was legitimate, and Thomas Beatie and his ex-wife Nancy were allowed to finalize their divorce. Both Beatie and his ex- have equal custody rights. While trans activists still have a lot of work to do before transgender parenthood is widely respected across the U.S., Beatie opened up a legal precedent that legitimizes trans parenthood by treating transgender fathers as legitimate parents.

5. Ian Harvie

transgender celebrities : ian harvey Screengrab via Ian Harvie/Instagram

Transgender comedian and actor Ian Harvie has starred in Amazon’s series Transparent as Dale for a while now, but Harvie has been performing stand-up since 2002. Touring with Margaret Cho and appearing in the LGBT talk show The Ian Harvie Show, Harvie has since featured in shows from Roadtrip Nation to Young & Hungry.

Harvie is different from other standup comedians. He’s open about everything in his stand-up, from using restrooms to getting top surgery, from his sex life to being trans. As an out and open trans man, Harvie has worked as an activist for trans representation in entertainment for years, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. He thinks that producers should employ more trans people to tell trans stories and that by including trans people in productions, transgender writers, actors, and editors can create better stories to share with the world.

“I think that people are understanding that they must include trans people in the storytelling behind the camera, in front of the camera, in the writer’s room, producer, and all aspects… because it’s passing through so many hands before the consumers actually see it and having us involved in the storytelling is gonna get the story right,” Harvie said during an interview with the Mary Sue. “When you get the story right, it can be lifesaving so representation matters.”


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7. Caitlyn Jenner

transgender celebrities : caitlyn jenner Screengrab via Caitlyn Jenner/Instagram

Highly controversial both inside and outside the trans community, Caitlyn Jenner is one of the most prominent transgender celebrities in the United States. And for many, her story features the first compassionate coverage of gender transitioning in the American mainstream media.

Jenner first came out in 2015, during an interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC’s 20/20. She revealed that, from a young age, she had dealt with gender dysphoria and identified as a woman. Back in the ’90s, Jenner had experimented with her gender identity and even began hormone replacement therapy, but she stopped after her relationship with Kris Kardashian grew into marriage.

Since coming out, Caitlyn Jenner has constantly been in the public spotlight as a visible trans woman. And for many Americans, Jenner is also their first exposure to gender transitioning and transgender women. Vanity Fair ran a feature story on Jenner at the time, she received an ESPY award for her bravery, and activists (initially) turned to Caitlyn Jenner as a role model for the trans community. Jenner didn’t bring trans issues into the mainstream, but her transitioning certainly cemented their presence.

Since then, Jenner has stirred some major disagreement among both LGBTQ Americans and outsiders. Transgender Americans have largely criticized Jenner for her Republican leanings, including her support for Ted Cruz and her bizarrely apathetic gay marriage statement on Ellen. More recently, Jenner received bipartisan scorn after joking about the Alexandria GOP shooting that left Rep. Steve Scalise in critical condition. But the LGBTQ community has come to her support in multiple occasions, including defending Jenner after she was harassed in the United Kingdom over her gender identity.

America may remain mixed on Caitlyn Jenner, but when it comes to trans celebrities, she’s out, proud, and isn’t going away anytime soon.

7. Laverne Cox

celebrities that are transgender : laverne cox Screengrab via Laverne Cox/Instagram

Laverne Cox may just be the most famous transgender actress in TV and film today, thanks in part to her role on Orange Is the New Black. She’s also the first openly transgender person to receive a Primetime Emmy nomination in history.

Cox stars as Sophia Burset in Orange Is the New Black, a transgender woman sent to prison for credit card fraud while attempting to fund her gender transitioning. For many viewers, Burset was the first sympathetic trans character ever seen on TV. Since then, Cox’s career has grown, and she’s starred in a variety of projects and series, from CBS’s Doubt to Fox’s remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Although most Americans recognize Cox through her appearance on Orange Is the New Black, Laverne Cox has been cast into a variety of shows and movies since first appearing on the show, from Paul Weitz’s comedy-drama film Grandma to the upcoming drama film Freak Show. She also ran, produced, and starred in her own show, TRANSform Me, in which three transgender women give a cisgender woman a makeover.

With each new show, Cox has become a more visible openly transgender woman in media. And offset, Cox works on behalf of transgender women of color across the U.S., raising up trans voices and making room for visibility in a world where most trans people of color are looked at with disdain and scorn. By far, she is one of the most important trans women actresses in the world to date, along with one of the most important transgender activists of color.

Cox also agrees that transgender women should primarily play trans roles because trans characters can help cisgender viewers build empathy for transgender women. “My experience as a trans woman playing a trans character is that I have found that audiences not only have empathy for the character that I play but they find themselves having empathy for the actor who plays that character,” Laverne Cox said. “And I think there’s a lot of evidence that this moment happening with me and ‘Orange’ has created an enormous amount of social change. Right? I mean, like just look at the resume! The proof is there.”

8. Chelsea Manning

transgender celebrities : chelsea manning Screengrab via Chelsea Manning/Instagram

Easily one of the most internationally famous transgender activists in the United States, Chelsea Manning rose to fame as a whistleblower that shed light onto civilian casualties amassed during the Iraq War. Imprisoned for years, her sentence was later commuted by President Obama, and she was released in May 2017. But during her years in military prison, Manning came out as a transgender woman and began working as an activist for trans rights for both incarcerated trans people as well as trans citizens across the U.S.

An interview with the New York Times reveals the turbulent years Manning spent in prison, discovering her identity while fighting to stay alive in grueling and isolating conditions. She opened up about some of the struggles she experienced on hormone replacement therapy, including the emerging and conflicting emotions she felt as estrogen began giving her a wider range of feelings.

“I’d built all these defenses and walls around my emotions over the years, since being a teenager. When my testosterone levels plummeted, I suddenly became more vulnerable emotionally. I could no longer just hide my emotions: I had to deal with them, usually right there and then,” Manning told the Times. “Good ones, like confidence, and a sense of connection with my friends, mixed in with a lot of bad ones, like doubt, loneliness, uncertainty and loss.”

Manning’s activism not just gives hope to young trans people, but her story also sheds light onto some of the haunting experiences that transgender women face while incarcerated. And they look at Manning with hope for the future, showing how transgender women can survive even the most oppressive conditions.

The post 8 out and open transgender celebrities you should know about appeared first on The Daily Dot.

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Posted by Teresa Jusino

It’s of the utmost urgency that we revisit something really important that we retweeted last week, as we need to make sure you didn’t miss it. Zola, a gorilla at the Dallas Zoo, has become a viral sensation thanks to some fancy footwork and some well-timed water-splashing. Not to mention an assist from a Twitter user editing in the perfect song choice like a boss. And this is important, because it is awesome.

We came across this clip thanks to Kristina Lucare on Twitter, but the edit of this majestic gorilla dancing was set to Michael Sembello’s “Maniac” from the soundtrack to the 1980s film, Flashdance, is by @bobhagh. It’s perfection. It’s basically Joy Incarnate in 16 seconds of video footage.

Inspired by Hagh’s work, the Huffington Post put together other edits. I’m partial to disco:

Keep dancing, Zola! You’re an inspiration to us all!

(image: screencap)

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Posted by Amanda

It’s that time again! Cover Snark time! This is where we gaze upon book covers that don’t seem quite right. Let’s have at it, shall we?

Fall Into Darkness by Valerie Twombly. The hero has angel wings, but where the wings meet his back, it's flesh colored and very much looks like the start of another arm.

From Karen: Well, I’m not sure this will seem icky to everybody or just me, but here’s another possible entry for Cover Snark. Anyway, what bothers me is the positioning of his wing. I know that it’s gotta be connected somewhere but where the cover illustrator put it is kind of creepy to me. Maybe if it wasn’t partially skin before becoming feathered, but it just looks like a bad deformity. Actually, it looks like a skinny arm coming off his shoulder. So, ewww.

The other issue, of course, is whether the positioning would actually allow him to fly. Doesn’t seem so to me. Maybe someone with aerodynamics experience will know that.

Amanda: His face says it all.

Sarah: I feel sad for his chiropractor.

Redheadedgirl: That’s not…why.

WHY

Elyse: That looks like something you should have biopsied.

Sarah: A little late now.

Elyse: Can you imagine that doctor’s day? “Good morning Mr. Smith. I see you’re here about–HOLY MOTHER OF GOD!”

Redheadedgirl: I mean….okay…. I guess in terms of wing position on birds, and chordates that actually fly…. maybe? but you’re not taking into account the surrounding muscular development that would be required for those things to work

Also since humanoids don’t have keelbones and the chest shape that birds have evolved and…. am I overthinking this?

Elyse: Yes.

Redheadedgirl: I just feel like those wing supporting a body weight from the shoulders isn’t going to work.

Sarah: I’ve seen a ton of intricate drawings of how wings would fit and work on humans, and how existing muscles would have adapted or grown. This wasn’t one of the designs.

Redheadedgirl: Also how did he get that tank top on?

Doe she have a valet to sew him into his muscle tanks every morning?

Elyse: How does he go to the bathroom? Where do the wings go?

Redheadedgirl: Wheelchair accessible stall, I guess.

Sarah: Imagine what his car must look like. Forget moving the seat back. He has to be in the trunk.

Maybe he can steer with his wings?

Redheadedgirl: Sarah, he doesn’t need a car. He can fly.

Sarah: Even he has to obey no fly zones, righ?

Right? Like, if he lives in a metro area with a bunch of airports, he’d have to drive or take the train.

Redheadedgirl: I don’t think the FAA had regs on angels.

Sarah: Imagine that guy on a bus. That’s a whole other realm of manspreading right there.

I bet they do. I mean, Sandra Hill has Vampire Viking Angel Navy SEALs. you’d think if there were angel SEALs the FAA would have to be at least aware.

Concealed by M.M. Koenig. The bottom half of the cover is a woman's face, but displayed horizontally. The top half is a shirtless, heavily tattooed man, who kind of looks like the lead singer of Maroon Five.

Amanda: The face placement is jarring.

Sarah: I’m curious what ink she’s concealing.

Interlude by Kay Halliday. The cover is supposed to be the concert scene, but the audience is faceless and blurry, except for one woman. She's missing her lower half as she looks up at what I assume is the hero. He's wearing a white t-shirt and has a noticeable tribal tattoo. There is no stage. He's just sort of hovering.

Elyse: She has no legs

Art dept: I feel like we forgot something here… Nah. I bet it’s fine

Carrie: I loathe both of them on sight.

Amanda: Never trust a dude with a tribal tattoo.

Sarah: I keep thinking the curl next to the title is toilet paper. She has to run and get more because he used the last of the roll and rock stars don’t replace the paper roll, no, ma’am.

Only a Viscount Will Do by Tamara Gill. The man is embracing the woman, but is bending her back over his arm at a startling angle. She's about to flash everyone a bit of nipple. His pants are also flesh-toned, so a quick look makes it seem like he's totally pantless.

Elyse: Is he trying to steal her heart by biting through her ribcage to get at it?

Amanda: I feel like with the way her dress is sitting, we should have seen some nip by now.

Sarah: Amanda, the thumbnail image! It’s the best part of this cover.

Amanda: Feast yer eyes!

A smaller version of Only a Viscount Will Do cover and yep, the hero totally looks like he's missing his pants.

Amanda: It’s like one of those Magic Eye posters.

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Posted by Amanda

Today, we have an exclusive cover reveal of Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton ( A | BN | K | G | iB ). Trust us, you’re going to want to see this cover.

This book is “equal parts love story, historical fiction, and love letter to Cuba.” Though we do have some bad news: it doesn’t come out until February 2018. WOE!

Better get your library holds and preorders in now!

Here’s the official book description:

A young woman travels to Havana to honor her late grandmother’s wishes–and discovers her family’s greatest secret, hidden since the Cuban revolution. A mesmerizing novel about two generations of Cuban-American women.

In 2017, freelance writer Marisol Ferrera travels to Cuba to honor her late grandmother’s wishes to return her ashes to her homeland. There Marisol recovers an unexpected piece of her family’s history–a box buried in the backyard of her family’s former mansion in Havana. Hidden for decades, it unearths her grandmother’s greatest secret.

In 1958, Elisa Perez, the daughter of one of the wealthiest sugar barons in Cuba, meets a young lawyer at a party in Havana. Their attraction is instant, their chemistry undeniable, but they’re caught on opposite sides of a growing political movement. Unable to deny their love, they begin a clandestine affair while all around them Cuba’s fractures cut deeper and deeper, violence spilling throughout the country.

Now, as Marisol grapples with her own Cuban identity, she must navigate a perilous political climate and a growing attraction to a man with secrets of his own. And as more family history comes to light, the past threatens to collide with the present, and Marisol will discover the true meaning of courage.

Now are you ready for the cover?

Are you sure?

Really, really sure?

Cover Reveal

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton cover. A woman in a gorgeous peach-colored dress, sitting on a turquoise couch. She's wearing dark lipstick and there's a beach landscape of Cuba.

What do you think? Gorgeous, right?

You might recognize Chanel Cleeton’s name from her Capitol Confessions series, or the Wild Aces romances. This book is a little different, and a little personal, too: according to her bio, she “grew up on stories of her family’s exodus from Cuba following the events of the Cuban Revolution.”

Are you excited for Next Year in Havana? Bummed about the wait time? Let us know your thoughts on the cover in the comments!

Comic for June 26, 2017

Jun. 26th, 2017 11:59 pm
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Posted by Vivian Kane

The “Andy’s Dad” theory from Toy Story has been floating around the internet for a while. Now, the full story of how the boy’s father fits into the movie’s world has been released, and oh wow is it ever sad. Like, way too sad. Polio sad. The problem is, some other Pixar bigwigs are calling it “fake news.” What do you think? Was this a story only known by a few, or was it made up? Either way, I’m ending the day in a puddle of feelings. (via i09)

Happy Pride to those who have spent this weekend celebrating! Among all the very cool happenings this weekend, there’s now a rainbow crosswalk outside the Stonewall Inn in New York. (Via Gothamist)

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, the Black Lives Matter movement intersected with the Pride Parade in Seattle today in honor of Charleena Lyles. Some outlets are reporting this as a clash, but those I’m hearing from in the area make it sound more like a mutually respectful collaboration/cohabitation.


Well, file this under The Most Impressive Thing I Saw Today: Yesterday, I linked to voiceover actor Rob Paulson’s lesson in how to talk like Pinky (of and the Brain fame). Today, there’s video of Paulson singing Animaniacs’s “Yakko’s World” song FROM MEMORY. He even added in an updated verse. (Via Nerdist)

A bunch of little kids were asked what makes them different from each other, and the sweet baby angels’ answers are too precious to exist in this world.

Have you been watching Netflix’s G.L.O.W. this weekend? Do you love it? If so, you’ll want to check out this interview with the real women the show is based on. (Via Inverse)

Also of interest to G.L.O.W. fans (or anyone, really): Betty Gilpin (who plays Debbie) wrote a beautiful piece about “What It’s Like to Have Pea-Sized Confidence With Watermelon-Sized Boobs.” (Via Glamour)

That’s it on my end. What did you all see today?

(image: Pixar)

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Posted by Vivian Kane

For as long as there have been dress codes, women and girls have been hating them. More often than not, the restrictions placed on women’s clothing are based in nothing but unmitigated gender-blaming, teaching girls from a young age that not only are their bodies a natural threat to boys and themselves, but that the response boys and men have to those bodies is to be considered over the bodies themselves. Add to that the body-shaming that comes with applying blanket rules (hiding cleavage, mandatory skirt & short lengths, tightness, etc) to all bodies without exception, and there’s a lot to hate about gendered dress codes.

Luckily, thanks to the internet, the struggles women and girls face on these issues can quickly and frequently go viral, gathering support and camaraderie worldwide. Every time a girl gets sent home for having fingertips that don’t touch her shorts’ hem, or people criticize the way a woman’s swimsuit fits, or a group of boys feels emboldened enough to publically call young girls derogatory names because their school sanctions the intention behind them–these women and girls, at the very least, know they’re not alone.

And now, this struggle against unfair, sexist dress codes is finally making some headway. And all it took, wouldn’t you know it, is for some people to start speaking up who aren’t women.

Last week, a photo and story went viral about a group of boys at a school in Exeter, England who aren’t allowed to wear shorts to school. The recent heatwave proved miserable to ride out in pants, but the school wouldn’t budge on letting the boys trade them in for shorts. So they showed up in skirts, which are allowed per the girls’ dress code.

The initial reaction of “Heck yeah, wear what makes you comfortable!” is followed quickly by the uncomfortable knowledge that this act will make an impact because boys in dresses is still, by many, considered an over-the-top joke of a statement meant to highlight just how ridiculous the lack of options is for boys. Indeed, a quick scroll through the replies on Twitter (never look at the comments!) is a wave of gay jokes and derisive questioning of these children’s masculinity.

The school hasn’t caved yet. They’ve made some hot weather amendments to the dress codes, allowing students to “undo the top button of shirts” and carry their tie rather than wear it. Shorts haven’t been implemented, but the headteacher wrote to students and parents that “with hotter weather becoming more normal, I would be happy to consider a change for the future and will talk to families and staff further about this in the coming weeks.” That’s more than most schools have ever done when girls fight their own dress codes.

Daily Dot points out that this isn’t the only recent progress we’ve seen with dress code battles waged by men and boys. Another U.K. man was sent home from work after showing up in shorts, which are not allowed by his company’s dress code. So he showed up in a dress and voila, official dress code changed to include shorts.

How is it that men in dresses is still, to this day, seen as such an offense that companies and schools will do whatever necessary to make it stop?

How, also, is it possible that when men and boys claim of physical discomfort, their concerns aren’t undermined by assumptions? When they complain of being hot, no one assumes their real aim is to sexualize themselves or distract women and girls from their work and studies. They’re not told their physical comfort is going to detract from the needs of others. They just–get this–are listened to.

That must be pretty nice.

(via Daily Dot, image: Shutterstock)

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Posted by Chris Tognotti

With the July 4 congressional recess just one week away, it sounds like Senate Republicans are feeling pressure over their impending votes on their healthcare bill. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been pushing to schedule a vote on the Better Care Reconciliation Act prior to the recess, some GOP senators are now indicating they might need more time to make up their minds.

A trio of key Republican senators indicated on the major Sunday morning shows that they either can’t support the bill in its current form or are still weighing concerns about it. Maine Sen. Susan Collins, for one, said she has “serious concerns” about the bill, citing its deep cuts to Medicaid and its stripping of federal funds from Planned Parenthood. And with the high-stakes vote potentially just days away, Collins cast doubt on the notion it could pass as currently constructed.

It’s hard for me to see the bill passing this week,” Collins told ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos. “But that’s up to the majority leader.”

According to Collins, she’s currently partnering with Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski on an amendment to the bill that would restore Planned Parenthood’s funding. Both senators are rare supporters of the organization within the GOP.

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson also urged McConnell to slow down, telling NBC News’s Chuck Todd that the Senate shouldn’t be rushing to hold a vote before the outcome is assured.

I would like to delay the thing,” Johnson said, arguing that his constituents hadn’t had enough time to evaluate the bill, which was publicly released just days ago. “There’s no way we should be voting on this next week. No way.”

Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy has also voiced uncertainty on which way his vote would go, telling John Dickerson of CBS’s Face The Nation that he remains “undecided” on the bill, citing concerns around what it would mean for Louisianans.

Right now I am undecided,” Cassidy said. “There are things in this bill that adversely affect my state, that are peculiar to my state.”

The Senate’s revision of the American Health Care Act the House passed in March, and the BCRA has yet to receive a score from the Congressional Budget Office. When the AHCA was scored following its passage, the numbers were not good for the Republicans: It projected that 23 million people would lose coverage by 2026.

Republican efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act have so far been hugely unpopular with the public at large. A recent Quinnipiac poll pegged popular support for the House bill at just 17 percent, an almost unheard-of figure. Given these numbers and the fact that the GOP is playing with a fairly narrow margin of error―they can afford to lose no more than two votes, and ostensibly lost one Saturday in Nevada Sen, Dean Heller―it wouldn’t be a shock to see McConnell change course and push the vote back until after the July 4 recess.

That, however, would mean senators would have to return to their constituents before casting their votes, which could have a chilling effect. Given the bill’s basement-level approval ratings and the heightened scrutiny it’s received in recent days, activists and advocates would almost certainly use the recess to make their voices heard, which could make the bill an even tougher lift when the Senate reconvenes on July 10.

The post Key Republican senators want the GOP healthcare vote delayed appeared first on The Daily Dot.

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Posted by The Daily Dot Bazaar

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Posted by Chris Tognotti

Apple is the biggest, most profitable tech company on Earth, so it makes sense that it’d have the most awe-inspiring headquarters on the planet, too. Which is exactly how things look at the Apple Park site in Cupertino, California, as revealed by some breathtaking drone footage uploaded to YouTube earlier this week.

The video was shot by Duncan Sinfield, a drone videographer who’s given the world some sneak peaks into the construction of Apple’s futuristic-looking new campus during the past couple of years. The new Apple Park has been unofficially dubbed “the spaceship” by many, thanks to its giant saucer-like shape and high-tech aesthetic, and never before has it looked quite as close to completion as it does now. The lights in the Steve Jobs Theater were even switched on while Sinfield’s drone looked down.

Construction of the 175-acre Apple Park campus began in 2014, and while it opened to employees in April 2017, it’s still not quite finished. It’s unclear when exactly it will be fully polished and operational, but it’s already an impressive sight all the same, in no small part thanks to the building’s colossal solar-paneled roof.

Moreover, it seems like Apple is starting to staff up some of the parts of the new headquarters that will be open to the public. It reportedly started hiring for positions at its Visitor Center Caffé this week, a positive sign that things are coming along.

The post Drone footage shows the nearly-completed Apple Park campus in all its glory appeared first on The Daily Dot.

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Posted by Vivian Kane

The Big Sick finally hit theaters this weekend, and for those of us who had been counting down the days since we first heard about the movie, the success it saw at the box office is so exciting.

If you’re not familiar, Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon (who also co-hosted the awesome podcast Indoor Kids and co-created the best comedy show in Los Angeles, The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail) wrote the movie together, based on the story of their real-life relationship.

From the official Amazon Studios synopsis:

The Big Sick tells the story of Pakistan-born aspiring comedian Kumail (Nanjiani), who connects with grad student Emily (Zoe Kazan) after one of his standup sets. However, what they thought would be just a one-night stand blossoms into the real thing, which complicates the life that is expected of Kumail by his traditional Muslim parents. When Emily is beset with a mystery illness, it forces Kumail to navigate the medical crisis with her parents, Beth and Terry (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano) who he’s never met, while dealing with the emotional tug-of-war between his family and his heart.”

The story told in the movie is wholly personal, as, again, it parallels their actual lives. (Gordon wrote about that “medical crisis”–the medically-induced coma during which her relationship with Nanjiani solidified–in the fantastic piece “Girlfriend in a Coma.” ) And now this intimate rom-com has had one hell of an opening weekend.

No, technically, it wasn’t the #1 draw of the weekend. It didn’t bring in the $69 million Transformers did. (Make that $265 mil global.) But broken down by theater, with Transformers: The Last Knight playing in over 4,000 theaters and The Big Sick playing in 5, that little romantic comedy averaged nearly eight times Transformers’ numbers. In fact, at $435,000 ($87,000 per theater), The Big Sick has the highest per-theater average since last year’s La La Land. Oh, and it also has a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

If you don’t live in New York or Los Angeles, The Big Sick’s wide release is on July 14th. Make sure to check it out and keep this beautiful movie’s success rolling.

(via Uproxx, image: Lionsgate/Amazon)

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Posted by Chris Tognotti

Talk about a horrifying moment. A teenage girl somehow got stuck dangling from a gondola 25 feet off the ground at Six Flags Great Escape on Saturday, but the frightening scene had a merciful ending as the girl ultimately fell from the ride into the arms of her fellow park-goers.

The girl’s identity has not been released, but according to Time, she’s just 14 years old. Video taken during the incident doesn’t show how she got stuck dangling out of the gondola at the amusement park in Queensbury, New York, but an onlooker watching the incident unfold can be heard yelling that “her neck is stuck.” There’s a totally understandable amount of panic and urgency in the crowd, but some of them called out with words of calm and encouragement too, promising the girl that she’d be safe if she dropped.

“We’ll catch you, honey,” a voice could be heard yelling. And catch her they did, keeping her from crashing into the ground and narrowly avoiding a truly terrible accident.

Girl falling from ride at 6 Flags Great Escape and they have NO means to rescue them. Thanks to the guys who banded together to catch her and the guy who climbed the tree to move the branches out of the way.

Posted by Loren Lent on Saturday, June 24, 2017

The video was posted by Facebook user Loren Lent, who thanked the people who caught the girl, as well as a man who climbed a nearby tree to move the branches that were in her way.

Here’s another view.

The girl was reportedly taken to a nearby hospital, and luckily, she has no serious injuries. The official website for the park describes the Sky Ride as follows:

You’ll fly right under Boomerang, but you’ll be safe and sound in your peacefully drifting sky chassis. Sometimes it’s more fun to coast. What’s the rush? This is a mellow-paced ride with an awesome view, not to mention a sneaky way to make a game plan for hitting the rest of the day’s rides. Just take note of what to hit when you land back down to the ground.

It’s entirely unclear how the incident occurred, as local authorities reportedly inspected the ride with park employees and found it in full working order. At the time of this writing, the ride is listed as “temporarily closed.”

The post A girl fell from a Six Flags ride, but the crowd made an amazing catch appeared first on The Daily Dot.

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Posted by Eddie Strait

Netflix’s new thriller You Get Me beamed onto our queues as a messy and fun guilty pleasure. But instead the schlocky movie fails to deliver schlocky delights.

You Get Me stars a bevy of generically attractive 20-somethings playing high school kids who do adult things. Halston Sage, Taylor John Smith, and Bella Thorne play Alison, Tyler, and Holly, respectively. YouTube star Anna Akana and Vine-famous Nash Grier round out the ensemble.

Alison and Tyler are in love in the way most teenagers are, which is to say they’re in love with the concept of being in love and not the reality. Summer is winding down and a last-hurrah party turns dramatic when Alison and Tyler have a dramatic fight. (Is there any other kind when you’re in high school?) Tyler storms off and makes his way into the car and, eventually, the bed of the new girl Holly. As it turns out Holly is unhinged and dangerous. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, you’ve seen this before.

Wouldn’t you know it, Alison and Tyler decide they’re going to make things work. This displeases Holly immensely, so she begins methodically integrating herself into Tyler’s life. She infiltrates his social circle, some of his classes, and his house. If you’ve seen any thrillers of this ilk, you already know how You Get Me will play out. The fact that the movie is predictable isn’t necessarily bad, but the ways in which it is bad are predictable, and that’s my biggest gripe. The movie would be more entertaining if Holly’s antics went bigger: If you’re making a B-movie, take advantage. Have Holly rack up a ridiculous body count. Have Alison and/or Tyler match Holly’s mental state and turn it into a chess game played by psychopaths. Get weird, please. If you want to slum, get dirty.

Pin most of the blame on the writer, Ben Epstein, and director, Brent Bonacorso, for the film’s dullness. The actors, particularly the lead trio of Thorne, Sage, and Smith, are fine in their roles, they’re just not asked to do much more than be pretty faces. The kids here live in the world of affluent movie teens, meaning they’re free to do whatever they want with almost no supervision. Save for the occasional check-in, the adults are mostly here for occasional appearances and artificial tension. But that freedom is all for naught, as the characters are hemmed in by their phones and school schedules.

As the plot twists and turns, it’s like driving down a winding road and heeding every warning sign. Dull turns abound! Caution, pregnancy revelation ahead! Third-act violence upcoming!

The film is so focused on the love triangle that there isn’t room for a wacky sidekick or a scene-stealer to emerge. For the most part side characters are there to be pawn’s in Holly’s game, but this isn’t 12th-dimensional chess. It’s hide and seek in an empty room. That leaves a movie with zero imagination in its characterization and plotting. How much more fun would it have been if Holly were an unrepentant killer? Or if Tyler actually fell in love with Holly? There’s a point where we learn Holly’s backstory through a Google search and the headlines are fodder for a much more interesting movie.

Among recent movies similar, The Boy Next Door, Obsessed, The Perfect Guy, When the Bough Breaks, or The Roommate are better examples of what You Get Me wants to do. Make no mistake, they’re all bad movies, but at least their dopiness is amusing. When all is said and done, You Get Me is something you’ll forget about before the end credits roll.

The post Netflix’s ‘You Get Me’ is a tired thriller without imagination appeared first on The Daily Dot.

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Posted by Samantha Grasso

Jewish celebrants at Chicago‘s Dyke March Pride parade on Saturday were asked to leave after sporting Jewish LGBTQ Pride flags featuring the Star of David.

According to the Windy City Times, an LGTBQ newspaper, several people were asked to leave the 1,500-person march on Saturday because their flags “made people feel unsafe” by resembling the Israeli flag and appearing to support Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.

All of the people asked to leave said they had been approached or harassed several times throughout the march. A Dyke March member told the publication that they were all asked to leave because the march was anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian.

“They were telling me to leave because my flag was a trigger to people that they found offensive,” Laurel Grauer, a marcher who said she was harassed countless times because of the flag, told the Windy City Times. “Prior to this [march] I had never been harassed or asked to leave and I had always carried the flag with me.”

Another person who was asked to leave, Eleanor Shoshany-Anderson, said she felt the Dyke March was supposed to be intersectional but that she didn’t feel welcome.

According to the newspaper, some social media users supported the march’s denouncement of the flag, which they saw as a form of “pink washing,” a term used to express that Israel’s support for the LGBTQ community is used to detract from the oppression of the Palestinian people. They also alleged American Pride flags, seen as another sign of oppression, were also removed from the march.

However, others found the ban to have been anti-Semitic more than anti-Israel and took issue with the march’s actions.

“People asked me if I was a Zionist and I said, ‘Yes, I do care about the state of Israel but I also believe in a two-state solution and an independent Palestine,'” Grauer said. “It’s hard to swallow the idea of inclusion when you are excluding people from that. People are saying, ‘You can be gay but not in this way.’ We do not feel welcomed. We do not feel included.”

According to Facebook users posting on the march’s event page, Dyke March Chicago still hasn’t responded to criticism for asking people with Jewish Pride flags to leave. Posters allege Dyke March has gone so far as to block critics and remove critical messages on its event page.

However, shortly after 9:30am local time on Sunday, Dyke March Chicago posted a statement on the event page thanking the community and its partners for a successful march, with one portion of the statement possibly alluding to the events of the day.

“Thank you to everyone who fought and resisted alongside us during some of the most stressful moments of the day and who tried their hardest to guarantee everyone’s safety. We appreciate y’all so much,” the post read.

H/T Haaretz

The post Pride flags featuring Star of David reportedly banned from Chicago pride parade appeared first on The Daily Dot.

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Posted by Chris Tognotti

The world of online entertainment is about to get a little more crowded, as Facebook is planning to leap into the TV programming by the end of this summer. And it’s planning to spend millions of dollars to make it happen. 

In May, reports suggested the social media giant was planning to roll out a couple dozen shows at launch, a mixture of high-end, pricier shows and shorter, lower-budget blasts of video content. It sounds like there are some thoroughly innovative ideas being kicked around, too—like a virtual-reality based dating show.

Last week, Bloomberg reported that the priciest of Facebook’s top-flight shows, while not meant to directly compete with other top-flight prestige paid TV services like HBO and Netflix, would boast budgets of up to $200,000 per episode. The smaller, quick-hitting projects, on the other hand, will have an average production cost of between $10,000-$20,000, and websites like BuzzFeed and Vox are reportedly in the mix to produce content.

According to a recent report from the Wall Street Journal, however, it sounds like Facebook is now willing to raise the high-end episode budgets even further. While meeting with Hollywood talent agencies like William Morris Endeavor and Creative Artists Agency, Facebook signaled it could actually spend up to $3 million per episode, a staggering 1,400 percent increase on the previously reported $200,000 figure.

While the majority of the shows Facebook will produce aren’t yet known, the company reportedly picked up the now-defunct MTV series Loosely Exactly Nicole and a reality series titled Last State Standing.

The rollout of Facebook TV was originally slated for mid-June, but from the sounds of things, the company is slowing down the process, as reports now indicate that a new “video” tab on the social media site will be going live by the end of summer. For a frame of reference, the final day of summer in 2017 is Friday, Sept. 22.

The post Facebook TV programming is scheduled to debut by the end of summer—and it’ll cost millions appeared first on The Daily Dot.

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Posted by Vivian Kane

Before Carrie Fisher passed away last December, she was scheduled to appear at this summer’s Denver Comic Con. As a tribute to Fisher, the convention commissioned longtime LucasFilm artist Joe Corroney to create an in memoriam piece of art. (Click the above picture to see the full image.)

The result is breathtaking. Seeing five sets of Fisher’s eyes staring into yours is enough to stir up a whole mess of emotions.

I’m in love with the fact that Corroney included the quote from Lor San Tekka, “To me, she is royalty,” yet chose to put the focus on General Leia Organa. Because yes, she will always be Princess Leia to us, but the leader she grew into, and the fierce, perpetually bare and painfully honest woman Carrie was, deserves to be front and center. The Leia we always knew and loved is there in celebration, but the Leia we were just getting to know is the one we lost.

I think it’s also worth noting that my Coat Envy is currently dialed up to 11.

Corroney says in his post that the art is for the con’s “hardworking and necessary volunteers and staff,” but presumably, it will also be for sale, either at the con next weekend, or (fingers crossed!) online. Proceeds will go to Denver Comic Con’s parent company, Pop Culture Classroom, which uses comic books and other pop culture tools to encourage a love of reading and self-expression in children.

Here’s hoping those of us not attending Denver Comic Con will be able to get our hands on this print. Although, to be honest, I’m not sure I could handle having this on my wall. Maybe I could keep it tucked away and only bring it out when in need of a cry.

(via Nerd Approved, featured image: Lucas Film)

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Bayou Shadow Hunter by Debbie Herbert

Jun. 25th, 2017 06:00 pm
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Posted by Guest Reviewer

B-

Bayou Shadow Hunter

by Debbie Herbert
March 1, 2016 · Harlequin Nocturne
RomanceParanormal

This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by Ms G. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Paranormal Romance category.

The summary:

HOT, SULTRY, DEADLY… THESE ARE THE SECRETS THAT LURK IN THE BAYOU.

Bent on revenge, Native American Shadow Hunter Tombi Silver could turn to only one woman, the “witch” Annie Matthews, for help. Her ability to hear auras had allowed her to discover Tombi’s friend mystically trapped by forces that could destroy them all. The accompanying message of a traitor in their midst meant Tombi could trust no one. Dare he bring Annie along on his quest to fight shadow spirits? Putting his faith in someone outside his tribe, especially one who pulled at his tightly controlled desires, could prove just as dangerous as his mission…

Here is Ms. G's review:

I haven’t read a paranormal romance in a long-ass time. I binged and then got sick of vampires and werewolves. However, whilst scrolling through the open options on the RITA spreadsheet, I came across a book called Bayou Shadow Hunter. Damn if that shit didn’t sound either fucking awesome or batshit crazy. Since it is a paranormal without bizarre creatures, I decided to give it a shot, and I ended up enjoying myself quite a bit.

Annie Mathews is a Hoodoo witch with magical auditory powers that not only allow her to hear like a roided-up bat, but also listen to other people’s auras in the form of music. Annie fucking hates her gift because all the constant auditory input makes it nigh impossible for her to person IRL. All she wants is for her Grandma Tia, the Hoodoo Queen of Alabama, to help her get rid of it. Annie has been coming to stay with Tia in Bayou La Syrnia every summer since she was a kid, but Tia can’t/won’t help Annie ditch her gift.

One night, while trying to fall asleep Annie notices a glowing green orb floating outside her window, and she decides to Nancy Drew it. Turns out the orb is a will-o’-the-wisp and it leads her into the Bayou. Wisps are trapped spirits of the dead, and this particular one is named Bo. He can only talk to Annie because of her gift. He wants Annie to tell his BFF, Tombi Silver, that there is a traitor in Tombi’s inner circle and Tombi shouldn’t trust anyone.

Of course as soon as Bo finishes delivering his cryptic message, who should step out of the woods but Tombi! Tombi is a carpenter by day and the leader of a group of Choctaw warriors who run around the Bayou freeing trapped spirits and fighting evil by night. He has pretty full plate.

The second these two clap eyes on each other, they catch a raging case of insta-lust. They are also kind of suspicious of each other because, you know, the whole total strangers in the dark thing. After they spend a few minutes feeling each other out (verbally) Annie delivers the message from Bo. She also explains her gift to Tombi.

Though Tombi is intrigued by Annie’s gift, he’s also suspicious as fuck. See, besides releasing the souls trapped inside wisps, he and his warriors are also looking for a way to stop the evil spirit, Nalusa, that their ancestors trapped in the Bayou. Hurricane Katrina not only took Tombi’s parents and his home, but it also fucked shit up so bad that Nalusa started gaining power and running amok. Tombi and his warriors are desperate to keep Nalusa confined to the Bayou because not only can this son-of-a-bitch shapeshift into a creepy-ass snake, and other horrible things, but he can also infect the minds of the living and bend them to his will and drive them to kill themselves. So when Annie tells Tombi that one of his most trusted friends is a traitor, he half thinks that she is under the control of Nalusa and spends a most of the rest of the book trying to decide whether he can actually trust her.

Annie is kind of fascinated by Tombi because not only is he hot AF, but she cannot hear his aura. Yep. It’s reverse Twilight. Turns out that being a shadow hunter means that you have a very particular set of skills, such as night vision and the ability to control how much energy you release into the world.

Despite being wary of Annie and her message, Tombi still feels the need to look into this whole traitor kerfuffle. He wants Annie to come and creep on the auras of his friends. At first Annie is all “Hell no. I want none of your evil snake monsters.” However, Tombi tells her he can teach her to control her energy field which might help her learn to turn off her gift. The prospect of being rid of her super hearing is too good, so Annie agrees.

This book has A LOT of plot, so for the sake of brevity I’m just going to say that Tombi’s plan doesn’t work out so well, straight up because of his trust issues and rather magnificent dumbfuckery, and all the shit hits all the fans.

Show Spoiler
Annie totes identifies the traitor (his other bestie) but Tombi doesn’t want to believe it and disregards her. Basically, Tombi is a fuckwad who should have listened to the outside consultant that he brought in because doing so would have solved almost all of the problems that arise in the rest of the story, but hey, that would have been a much shorter and less angsty book.

They spend the rest of the book hunting wisps, trying to figure out how to fight Nalusa and, attempting to suss out the traitor. Of course, all this intrigue and danger is just bursting with sexual tension and they end up boning like bunnies. And in the grand tradition of the majority of romance novels that I’ve read, Annie falls hard and knows it while Tombi has trust issues and manfeels he doesn’t quite know what to do with. Besides, he has a sacred duty to fight evil and love makes you weak so…. Anyways, it all works out OK. Evil is smushed back into a tree, Annie owns her power, Tombi figures out his manfeels, and love and weddings and shit.

I really enjoyed Bayou Shadow Hunter. There were a lot of things that I liked; however, there were also a lot of things that kind of annoyed me and took me out of the story. Granted I am a nitpicky motherfucker, so the things that bothered me might not phase other readers at all. I am willing to admit I tend to overthink. Especially about books that are set during my lifetime. I ended up having a lot of feels, so I figured the best way to break this down was to make a list (I am a BIG fan of lists) of what worked for me and what didn’t.

Things That Totally Worked for Me

– The plot is crazy interesting and compelling. There is a lot of it, but it is paced pretty well. Not too bogged down in detail or slower moments, and not too rushed or so action packed that there was no room for character development. Now it wasn’t quite I-can’t-put-this-book-down-or-I-might-actually-go-crazy good, but it was damn!-I-am-so-curious-to-see-what-happens-next good.

– I loved the setting. Debbie Herbert does a good job at giving the reader a really concrete sense of place. Her descriptions of all of the natural elements of the Bayou are lush and detailed without going complete Anne of Green Gables with the adjectives. As someone who has spent the grand total of a whole week in NOLA, I found the constant mention of mosquitos and being bitten by mosquitos to be very authentic. Though, no one ever mentions bug spray which I found disquieting.

– The main character’s total acceptance of each other’s cultures. Now, I don’t know much of anything about Hoodoo or Choctaw religious practices, but in the book there is a decent amount of overlap between the two. However, neither Annie nor Tombi ever prioritized their rituals or practices above the other’s. In fact, they were usually willing to try both or blend the two together figuring the more firepower they had in the fight against evil the better. In this era of what seems like constant religious conflict and judging, it was really nice to have two supportive people who were like “Yeah, your thing is totally cool. You do you.”

– Annie’s super hearing is really interesting. I’ve never come across paranormal auditory powers before, so for me this was a cool and unique gift. I could also see how it could be a total pain in the ass and why she was so desperate to get rid of it. As a reader I found the constant whining she had at the beginning of the book to be a little grating, but if I’m being honest with myself, if I were in her shoes I would probably be waaaay more of a sad sack.

Things That Kinda Worked for Me, but I Wish Were Better

– The world building in the supernatural realm is pretty good and vivid. There are some basic rules and people follow them. I am persnickety however, and just wanted a little more explanation. For an example of extreme persnicketiness, the shadow hunters free wisps by hitting them in the center with stones. Does it have to be stones or could any projectile work? I am sure that most people won’t care, but rocks were specifically mentioned enough that it got me wondering. Also, Grandma Tia is kind of an all knowing badass. She can suck demon-snake poison out of people and come out the other side alive. She also seems to know a whole lot about Tombi’s secret fight against Nalusa and about how and he and Annie they are destined for one another. How does she know this? Do the spirits tell her? Does she have visions? Grandma’s intuition? This inquiring mind needs to know! I mean all the stuff with Grandma Tia was cool and very convenient plotwise, but it all kind of felt Hoodoo hand-waved, which stuck out because Herbert took time to explain the mechanics of a lot of the Hoodoo rituals.

– I want more backstory on Annie. We learn that Annie is known as “Crazy Annie” in her home town up in Georgia. How did the whole town find out about her gift? Did she ever tell other people? We are left to assume that as a kid hearing shit all the time meant she acted weird, but I am hella nosey and wanted more info. Plus, we are told that Annie’s mom is awful and does not do well with Annie and her magic powers, but it is just talked about and never shown. The rejection from her town and her mom is a huge part of Annie’s character make-up and explains why she is such a shrinking violet at the beginning of the book, and I would have liked a little more explanation into her past.

Also, Tombi’s cultural heritage is a huge part of who he is. Annie is Cajun, Native-American and Caucasian, but her heritage(s) (beyond Hoodoo which in my understanding is more religion than heritage but I could be mistaken) is barely mentioned. I cannot tell if this an intentional choice to show that her past doesn’t mean anything to her, or if it was just lost in all of the paranormal stuff and plot, or whatever, but it kind of bothered me.

– I am very meh on both of the main characters. Their flaws and motivations make sense given their what we know of their backstories. Tombi is fighting an evil demon that controls people, so his trust issues, while rather prolonged, are not unfounded. Annie has had very little support and can’t do much of anything because she is constantly trying to filter out noise, so her desire for quick fixes for her gift and tendency to just bounce when the going gets tough, while a bit grating, make sense. Usually (I’m looking at you Tombi) neither one was Too Stupid To Live, which is nice. They were both just kind of broody and angsty a lot, which used to thrill me when I was a teen, but I now I like it when my heroes have their emotional shit together a little bit better. I was totally fine hanging out with both of these people for a whole book, but I just didn’t love either of them.

Things That Annoyed The Ever Lovin’ Dickens Out of Me

– PROTECTION!!!!!!! This is one of my biggest pet peeves: if you are going to set your novel in modernish times (I have no idea what year this is supposed to be taking place. Cell phones are used a lot, but no one even mentions the internet so . . .?) then your grown-ass characters should not be having unprotected sex! Protection and/or birth control is never even mentioned. No condoms. No “I’m on the pill.” No “Don’t worry baby I will pull out.” which is bullshit, but still would at least show they are aware of basic biology. NOTHING!! They just keep going at it like irresponsible twits.

I find this kind of hard to believe since when they started going to pound town Tombi was actively avoiding emotional entanglements. You know what’s emotionally entangling Tombi? A baby. And syphilis. Also, you know that Annie, working with the Hoodoo Queen of Alabama since she was knee high, has seen women showing up to Grandma Tia’s for various reproductive reasons. Girlfriend should know better. Especially because they both have been sexually active before. Unless one of a shadow hunter’s particular skills is immunity to STIs, protection should have part of the sexy times. There is no reason modern characters to be sexually irresponsible. It actually pops me out of the narrative and makes the sex scenes way less sexy because you know what is not hot? Genital warts.

– The secondary characters are barely flushed out. Tombi’s twin Tallulah gets an okay amount of page time and motivation for her actions (she is also the heroine of the sequel) but all the other warriors are barely mentioned. Like we get their names and some jobs and maybe an adjective but other than being potential traitors, they are pretty much just filler.

Show Spoiler
Even when we do find out who the traitor is, it has no emotional impact at whatsoever because we have no idea who this person is or why they go dark. It’s just like, “Surprise bitches! I’m a jackass! And now I’m going to fuck all of y’all over and be an evil rapey dick.”

– Probably not a big deal for most readers, but after I put the book down and thought about it for a minute this drove me crazy. The shadow hunters spend a week camping in the woods every month. The week after the full moon is the time when the supernatural is extra frisky, so that’s when they hunt. However, these guys have jobs. One dude in the inner circle is the local sheriff. Tombi’s sister works at a museum. How do they disappear into the woods for a week once a month and still hold down their jobs? Especially the sheriff. Tombi is self-employed, so he can peace out for twelve weeks out of the year I guess. It’s never made clear how many shadow hunters there are, only that not everyone in the tribe can be one. Overall, it’s not a huge thing, but I am detail oriented and I want to know how they manage to incorporate shadow hunting into their daily lives. Do they rotate shifts? Is there a schedule!?! An age limit? What are the mechanics of fighting evil in today’s fast paced world?

I think I would give this book a B-. Even though there were quite a few things that got my dander up I was very engaged and interested in what was happening throughout the story. Also, I was being a bit more critical than usual since I’m reviewing this book. If I was reading this book just for funsies I probably wouldn’t have been as critical. So if you just want a fun fast read, if you are into paranormals that are not vampires and werewolves, and enjoy books with a firm sense of place I think this could be an enjoyable book.

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Posted by Samantha Grasso

U.S. military leaders will ask for a six-month delay in allowing transgender people to enlist, the Associated Press reported.

According to anonymous military officials, service leaders agreed on requesting a six-month waiting period prior to the enrollment of transgender service members. The agreement is a paring-down from the two-year waiting period that the Army and Air Force originally requested, a compromise reached in order to avoid further criticism in Washington.

The chiefs will also require that enlisting members who are transgender be two years into their transition, a six-month increase from former Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s requirement of 18 months.

Current transgender service members have been able to openly serve since Oct. 1, but Carter originally gave military until July 1 to develop policies for allowing trans people to join. As many as 250 service members are already in the process of transitioning or have been approved to “formally change gender” within the Pentagon’s personnel system, the AP reports.

Despite being given a year for policy development since Carter’s original announcement last June, officials are seeking an extra six months in order to further these policies. Officials said the six months will also allow services to gauge how current transgender military are being treated, if they have medical issues or face other obstacles that impede their ability to serve, and if they’re facing discrimination or have disciplinary issues.

Both the Army and Air Force had originally planned to request two-year delays to “further study the issue.” The Navy had originally suggested it was ready to enlist in July, but it backtracked with a request of one year to accommodate a request from the Marine Corps.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Army unveiled its “Transgender Training” sensitivity seminar required for all officers, non-commissioned officers, and civilians working with soldiers.

“Each day that passes without implementing the final piece of this important policy harms our military readiness and restricts the Armed Forces’s ability to recruit the best and the brightest,” Stephen Peters, a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign and a Marine veteran, told the AP. “There are thousands of transgender service members openly and proudly serving our nation today, and as they’ve proven time and time again, what matters is the ability to get the job done—not their gender identity.”

H/T Fox News

The post Transgender people may not be able to enlist in the military for another 6 months appeared first on The Daily Dot.

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Posted by Bryan Rolli

President Donald Trump introduced the world to his private attorney, Jay Sekulow, when he tweeted last week that he was under federal investigation for firing James Comey, and allowed his lawyer to clean up the situation on multiple Sunday talk shows.

Not that Sekulow fared much better. He told Fox’s Chris Wallace twice that Trump was being investigated, then backpedaled and argued that Wallace had twisted his words and that Trump was not, in fact, under investigation. (Wallace swiftly corrected him.) 

Yet as bad of a lawyer as Sekulow may appear to be, it pales in comparison to how terrible his music is.

The studious folks at Spin revealed this week that Sekulow plays guitar and drums in his self-titled, staunchly right-wing Christian rock band. One could even call it a supergroup of sorts, as the lineup boasts Christian rock singers John Schlitt (currently of Petra and formerly of ‘70s Midwestern rock group Head East) and John Elefante (who fronted Kansas in the early ‘80s and now plays in the Christian rock outfit Mastedon).

Decades after its inception, “Christian rock” still proves a fairly ambiguous term. Some people think Stryper, some people default to Sixpence None the Richer, and others still look to Underoath as the holy grail of the genre. But as it turns out, the Jay Sekulow Band can’t claim a single redeeming feature from any of those artists. Instead, they just plod through painfully irrelevant lite-rock with the subtlety of a divine smiting stone.

Look no further than “Undemocratic,” the raucous, anti-Hillary Clinton barnburner that I can only describe as a fifth-rate Tom Petty tribute band soundtracking the latest episode of InfoWars. But hey, damned if you don’t believe Schlitt’s conviction when he wails those magnitudinous opening lyrics: “Strummin’ on my Gibson, singing my song now, hoping that the feds won’t take it away now!” 

Church and state have made notoriously volatile bedfellows throughout history, and the band’s more religiously inclined work does nothing to improve its standings. “Through the Years” functions as a perfectly earnest—albeit cookie-cutter—praise song, though it’s hard not to scoff at the fact that the man who legally represents Trump in court plays on a track that sports the lyrics, “He is in need of no wise counsel.”

Not that their lyrical content or musical integrity matters, because these guys are plain-as-day heretics anyway. Why else would they (crappily) cover the Beatles’ “Taxman”? Yeah, remember the Beatles, who set the Christian world ablaze when John Lennon claimed they were “more popular than Jesus” back in 1966? If Sekulow and his cronies really practiced what they preached, they’d be leading crusades to remove the Fab Four from all streaming platforms, not covering their satanic socialist anthem! Jeez, talk about serving two masters.

Look, in all seriousness, America was founded upon religious freedom, and this country is still a democracy. Nobody should ever be persecuted for their religious beliefs. In fact, making music that honors one’s deity of choice is a generally admirable task. But you’ve got to draw the line somewhere and expose music like the Jay Sekulow Band for what is really is: empty, platitudinous shlock-rock that somehow manages to piss off Christians, atheists, liberals, and conservatives all within the same song. In fact, the hideousness of this music might be the only thing upon which our fractured nation can agree.

When the apostle Paul commissioned the Church in Ephesus to “address one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,” he didn’t mean like this.

The post Donald Trump’s lawyer plays in a terrible Christian rock band appeared first on The Daily Dot.

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