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Posted by Marykate Jasper

Architect and producer Kai Cole has posted a devastating account of her and Joss Whedon’s 16-year marriage, which ended after a very private five-year separation. In her piece, Cole reveals that Whedon cheated on her multiple times and lied about it, and she accuses Whedon of “the hypocrisy of being out in the world preaching feminist ideals, while at the same time, taking away my right to make choices for my life and my body based on the truth.”

“He deceived me for 15 years,” Cole writes, “so he could have everything he wanted. I believed, everyone believed, that he was one of the good guys, committed to fighting for women’s rights, committed to our marriage, and to the women he worked with. But I now see how he used his relationship with me as a shield, both during and after our marriage, so no one would question his relationships with other women or scrutinize his writing as anything other than feminist.”

I encourage you to read the whole post.

Cole writes that Whedon first began cheating on her on the set of Buffy, but more affairs followed after that – affairs which he hid from her. He only revealed his cheating when he filed for divorce after their nearly two decades together.

A lot of what Cole describes from Whedon sounds like sounds like classic “nice guy” behavior and entitlement; it’s the sort of stuff we’ve all seen before. For example, Whedon reportedly described his Buffy affair like this: “When I was running Buffy, I was surrounded by beautiful, needy, aggressive young women. It felt like I had a disease, like something from a Greek myth. Suddenly I am a powerful producer and the world is laid out at my feet and I can’t touch it.” I mean, ew.

And Cole writes that she doubted her own suspicions, because of Whedon’s public commitments to feminism. “There were times in our relationship that I was uncomfortable with the attention Joss paid other women,” she says. “He always had a lot of female friends, but he told me it was because his mother raised him as a feminist, so he just liked women better. He said he admired and respected females, he didn’t lust after them. I believed him and trusted him.”

Now, just so we can get it out of the way: yes, this piece comes with the caveats that (1) people who are recently divorced sometimes say shitty, exaggerated things about one another because they’re in a lot of pain (2) monogamy, especially given its patriarchal history, is not a pre-condition for a feminist life. (Honesty with your partner(s) is, though!) It’s fine to consider these two points when absorbing this piece, but don’t try and use them to dismiss it, okay?

This must’ve been an incredibly difficult piece for Cole to write, and – whatever positive impact Whedon’s work may have had on the industry, or on any of us personally – it sounds like he was a pretty terrible husband. I’m sorry she had to put up with this so quietly for so long, and I hope speaking up will help her heal.

(Via The Wrap; image via Shutterstock)

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Posted by Marykate Jasper

The Alexandria, Virginia City Council has voted to rename the Jefferson Davis Highway, and they want some suggestions for what to call it instead. You can offer up to three of your ideas on this form. Pretty much anyone would be a better choice to name a highway after, but I’m curious who you’d all like to see in particular. Harriet Tubman? Heather Heyer? Booker T. Washington (born in VA)? Willa Cather (born in VA)? (via Jalopnik)

  • We lost two great comedians today. Dick Gregory, the dedicated civil rights activist and groundbreaking stand-up comedian, passed away at the age of 84. Jerry Lewis, the Nutty Professor comedian and muscular dystrophy activist, passed away at the age of 91.
  • Heather Heyer’s cousin, Diana Ratcliff, published a crucial op-ed about how we can move forward and honor Heather’s memory after Charlottesville. Writing about Heather’s funeral, Ratcliff said, “The moment that will forever be burnt in my memory was when a speaker asked the uncomfortable question. While she hailed Heather’s courage, she asked something to this effect: ‘Why does a white woman have to get killed for you all to become outraged?’ All I could think was, ‘Heather is sitting in heaven right now, shaking her head in agreement.'”
  • Go ahead and Google “Wubba lubba dub dub” from Rick and Morty. (via Nerdist)
  • The National Video Game Museum in Frisco, Texas has announced that they’ll be awarding four $1,500 educational scholarships – and one is especially for women! (via GeekDad)
  • Girls Trip has passed $100 million, making it the top R-rated comedy of 2017. But I thought only men could enjoy raunchy comedies? (via MTV News)
  • Marvel and ABC have another teaser for Inhumans. (via /Film)

That’s all I caught today! What’d you all see?

(Featured image via Shutterstock)

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Posted by Marykate Jasper

Universal Studios and Frontier Developments (the developer behind games like Planet Coaster) have unleashed the trailer for Jurassic World Evolution, which will let you live our all your most catastrophic Jurassic Park ideas in the safety of a simulation.

“Players will build their own Jurassic World,” said Frontier COO Jonny Watts in a statement, “as they bioengineer new dinosaur breeds and construct attractions, containment and research facilities. Every choice leads to a different path and spectacular challenges arise when ‘life finds a way.'”

Honestly, this is a pretty genius idea. Half the fun of simulation games is watching things go catastrophically, unavoidably wrong, and the original Jurassic Park film was basically one of my middle-school Roller Coaster Tycoon games brought to life. With its massive monsters, crowd control, and potential to collapse in chaos, this franchise is the perfect subject for a theme park simulation game.

“As long-time fans of the entire Jurassic series we’re thrilled to be putting players in charge of their own Jurassic World,” said Watts. “We’re excited to bring over fifteen years of management, simulation, and creature development expertise to a destination and franchise that remains an inspiration to us.”

Jurassic World Evolution is expected to land in summer 2018, around the same time that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom arrives in theaters, and it will be available for PlayStation 4, Windows, and Xbox One.

(Via Polygon; image via screengrab)

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Posted by Marykate Jasper

Back in mid-August, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) extended the open comments period for its proposed changes to net neutrality from August 16 until August 30. Advocates and activists had initially requested a month-long extension, but they got the two weeks. So let’s make good use of them!

FCC Chair Ajit Pai has proposed ending or reinterpreting the Title II classification of broadband internet services as “telecommunications services” and returning them to being “information services” – so that he can gut net neutrality rules. Back in 2002, the FCC initially classified broadband internet as “information services,” and the results were terrible for consumers. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) summarized, “the rules that we need to preserve the open internet — such as forbidding discrimination against certain applications — require the FCC to treat access providers like ‘common carriers,’ treatment that can only be applied to telecommunications services.”

The American people fought back, and in 2014 and 2015, citizens successfully pushed for the creation of net neutrality rules and the Title II reclassification of broadband internet as a “telecommunications service.” They sent more than 3.7. million comments to the FCC during that campaign. This year, FCC Chair Ajit Pai’s proposal to end those protections already has more than 18 million comments, making it the most-commented-on item in the commission’s 83-year history.

If you’re already on of those 18 million respondents, thank you. And if you thought you missed your chance to be part of something historic, now’s your chance to participate!

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has made it easy to send a comment to the FCC with their Dear FCC tool, and so has Battle for the Net. As it says at the links, please keep in mind that these comments will be publicly searchable – so nothing you wouldn’t want your grandma or your future political opponents seeing.

(Via Ars TechnicaThe Verge and The Electronic Frontier Foundation; image via jeremy brooks on flickr)

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Posted by Marykate Jasper

We don’t know a ton about the forthcoming anthology series, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, but we know that it has some serious talent involved. Brian Cranston (Breaking Bad) and writer-producer Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica, Outlander) are some of the executive producers. The writing staff includes Travis Beacham (Pacific Rim), David Farr (The Night Manager), Dee Rees (Bessie, Mudbound), and Tony Grisoni (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas). The cast includes Steve Buscemi, Terrence Howard, Anna Paquin, Timothy Spall, Benedict Wong, and Janelle Monáe. 

(Listen, marketers. When you have Janelle Monáe in your cast, put her in every trailer! Why is she not here?)

The trailer definitely hints at the sort of mind-blowing revelations and world-shifting secrets that characterized much of Dick’s work. Issues of identity, reality, and memory also play strongly here, and it looks darkly trippy. This feels fitting, since Dick’s work isn’t always trippy in the Doctor Strange, lights-and-colors sense, but rather in the sense of “new worlds, sensations, and understandings have been opened to me, and they’re terrifying.”

Given that this is a science fiction anthology series, I’m sure the producers are hoping to be the next Black Mirror. That shows a bit in the color scheme and cinematography, but for now, it looked appropriate for the material.

For those of you who were curious about which material the show is drawing from, here are some of the stories they’ll adapt:

  • “The Commuter”
  • “The Impossible Planet”
  • “Sales Pitch”
  • “Human Is”
  • “The Father-thing”
  • “The Hood Maker”
  • “The Hanging Stranger”
  • “Autofac”

This particular trailer comes from Stan, the service that will broadcast Electric Dreams in Australia. Channel 4 in the UK and Amazon Video in the United States have also purchased broadcast rights to the show. It’s unclear when it will air in those countries – or worldwide, but I’m at least curious to see more.

What do you think, though, readers?

(Via io9 and Variety; image via screengrab)

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Posted by Marykate Jasper

The Australian TV show Growing up Gracefully recently shared a musical number, “Leave at 3:43,” which jokingly suggests that women should be “fucking off and going home” early, since they’re not getting paid for that time relative to men anyway.

“3:43!” they sing, “All us bitches should leave work at 3:43 / ‘Cause time is money, and money is time / And since I’m being paid for 84% of mine, then / We’re fucking off and going home / At 3:43!”

This video is quite white, and it doesn’t touch on the ways that most women of color suffer more from the wage gap than white women. Australia is admittedly a whiter country than the United States, and the government’s own Gender Equity Insights report doesn’t even tackle the statistics by race, so it’s possible the numbers were trickier to find. But women of color in Australia – especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women – still face significantly higher income disparities. A video which took the time to highlight specific professions definitely should have taken the time to mention the racial wage gap, as well.

That said, I love how catchy this song is, how it pairs aggressive language like “fucking off” with the faux-cheeriness of a musical number, and how it acknowledges the unpaid, under-recognized domestic labor that millions of women perform, with no one to worry about their working conditions. “And stay-at-home mums? Just kidding! You work for free!”

I’ll definitely be humming this one to myself at work.

(Via Ms. Magazine; image via screengrab)

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Posted by Marykate Jasper

If you’ve already been banned from your local Target for go-kart racing with their shopping carts, despair no more! There’s a new way to bring Mario Kart into the real world. At VR Zone Shinjuku in Tokyo, visitors can play a new arcade game, Mario Kart Arcade GP VR, that allows you to feel what it’s really like in the driver’s seat of that veering go-kart. Players are seated in a race car console and equipped with virtual reality (VR) goggles and headphones; you face off against three other players on a hybrid race track that combines multiple Mario Kart roads.

Personally, I am a pretty a ridiculous Mario Kart driver, so the thought of experiencing my driving in VR is…terrifying. But I can’t deny that it looks like a lot of fun in this video, and I love that you have to reach up and throw the items.

IGN also played the game, and their reporter Lucy O’Brien loved the experience. “These karts, they’re outfitted with air machines that blow wind in your face, the whole thing is rumbling,” she said, “so you really feel like you’re there. And, on top of that, you’ve got your friends in your ears screaming and whooping. It’s honestly one of the most incredible Mario Kart experiences I’ve had. I’m still kind of shaking from it.”

VR Zone Shinjuku also features VR versions of other games like Dragon Ball and Neon Genesis Evangelion. While there are no plans to open a similar VR arcade in the United States yet, hopefully they’ll be popular enough in Japan to get us one over here. As Nerdist’s Blair Marnell pointed out, arcades have been on the decline in the U.S., but virtual reality “zones” like this “could lead to a resurgence of interest in arcades.”

(Via Nerdist, Endgadget, and IGN; image via screengrab)

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Rugby Players, Magic, & More!

Aug. 20th, 2017 03:30 pm
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Posted by Amanda

Scrappy Little Nobody

RECOMMENDEDScrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick is $2.99! It’s a part of today’s Kindle Daily Deals (I highly recommend you check out the rest) and is being price-matched. I listened to this on audio narrated by Kendrick herself and I really liked it. The stories/chapters are short enough to where you don’t lose interest and it has a great balance of being touching, genuine, and really funny.

A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect.

“I’m excited to publish my first book, and because I get uncomfortable when people have high expectations, I’d like to use this opportunity to showcase my ineptitude, pettiness, and the frequency with which I embarrass myself. And while many of my female inspirations who have become authors are incredibly well-educated and accomplished comedy writers, I’m very, very funny on Twitter, according to Buzzfeed and my mom, so I feel like this is a great idea. Quick question: are run-on sentences still frowned upon? Wait, is ending a sentence with a preposition still frowned upon? I mean, upon frowned? Dammit!” —Anna Kendrick

Anna Kendrick’s autobiographical collection of essays amusingly recounts memorable moments throughout her life, from her middle class upbringing in New England to the blockbuster movies that have made her one of Hollywood’s most popular actresses today. Expanding upon the witty and ironic dispatches for which she is known, Anna Kendrick’s essays offer her one-of-a-kind commentary on the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture.

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Winter Garden

Winter Garden by Adele Ashworth is 99c! This is a historical romance with spies! However, readers seemed to be divided on the actual spying assignment. Some found it added a great element of action, while others felt it made little sense to them. This is the second book in the Winter Garden series and the first book is also on sale.

Though a celebrated French beauty in 1849, Madeleine DuMais’s cleverness is her greatest asset — and one she puts to good use as a spy for the British. When her expertise is needed in the south of England to break up a smuggling ring, Madeleine willingly puts her life on hold to help the crown …

Arriving in the quaint resort town of Winter Garden, Madeleine meets her partner in subterfuge. Thomas Blackwood is unlike any man she has ever met. His quiet confidence and mysterious intensity send shivers of pleasure coursing through her … shivers that slowly melt into a desperate passion. As duty gives way to desire, surrender holds its reward. And Madeleine will never recover from the touch of Thomas’s hands on her body — and the touch of his heart on her soul …

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Knowing the Score

Knowing the Score by Kat Latham is $2.99! This is a contemporary sports romance – set in the world of rugby. I mentioned this book on a previous podcast episode. It has a 3.7 average, and readers at GR liked the humor and the dialogue between the hero and heroine (though some reviews warn of a slow start to the story).

Rugby player Spencer Bailey is determined to win a spot on England’s World Cup team. But with a month break before the selectors start watching him, he’s eager to have fun with a woman who knows the score: the relationship will end when rugby season begins. The lovely American Caitlyn Sweeney seems perfect for the role of temporary lover, since her visa will run out soon anyway.

Caitlyn works for an international disaster relief organization and can handle the world’s worst crises, but she flinches from her own. Her past has left her with a fear of intimacy so deep that she has trouble getting close to anyone—until she meets sexy Spencer. His hot body and easygoing nature are too much for even her to resist.

Neither Caitlyn nor Spencer expects to fall hard for each other. But with their relationship deadline approaching, the old rules of the game seem less important than before…until past secrets surface, challenging everything they thought they knew about each other.

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Tarnished

Tarnished by Karina Cooper is 99c! This is a gritty steampunk novel with paranormal and romantic elements. Readers are divided on the heroine, who is an opium addict. Some found that the heroine was too unlikable, while others enjoyed a flawed protagonist. Have you read this one?

My name is Cherry St. Croix. Society would claim that I am a well-heeled miss with an unfortunate familial reputation. They’ve no idea of the truth of it. In my secret world, I hunt down vagrants, thieves . . . and now, a murderer. For a monster stalks London’s streets, leaving a trail of mystery and murder below the fog.

Eager for coin to fuel my infatuations, I must decide where my attentions will turn: to my daylight world, where my scientific mind sets me apart from respectable Society, or to the compelling domain of London below. Each has a man who has claimed my time as his – for good or for ill. Though as the corpses pile, and the treacherous waters of Society gossip churn, I am learning that each also has its dangers. One choice will see me cast from polite company . . . the other might just see me dead.

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Posted by Amanda

Welcome back to Lightning Reviews, where we give some quick and dirty thoughts on books in a mini-review format. We’ve been away from this feature for a while because of all the RITA reviews, but now we’re back into the swing of things. This trio features a historical romance, some historical fiction with romantic elements, and a thriller!

 

    The Dry

    author: Jane Harper

    The Dry is an Australian-set mystery perfect for those who (like me) enjoy a good cold case.

    Federal Agent Aaron Falk returns to the small community he grew up in after a childhood friend, Luke, kills his family before committing suicide. His horrifying actions are chalked up to stress: drought has plagued the community for years, farms are failing, and the town is fracturing.

    Falk isn’t sure he buys the murder-suicide theory. When Aaron and Luke were teens, a friend of theirs, Ellie, was found dead in a river. Luke and Aaron, under suspicion, provided each other with alibis. The truth is, Aaron doesn’t know where Luke was when Ellie was killed all those years ago, and his friend’s death is dredging up a lot of questions that had been buried.

    The Dry is an excellent, solid mystery. I loved the setting of a rural community struggling through a drought that sets everyone on edge and amplifies tensions. I loved how the cold case (Ellie’s death) tied into the mystery surrounding the murder of Luke’s family.

    Trigger warning–this book does discuss the murder of children (obviously) and also deals with the sexual assault of a child. It’s not the book to read if you get the heebie-jeebies easily, but if you love a good whodunit and have girdy loins, then I totally recommend it.

    Elyse

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    Goodnight from London

    author: Jennifer Robson

    Goodnight From London tells the story of Ruby Sutton, a journalist who is sent to London at the dawn of World War II to cover the war from the perspective of a young American woman. Once there, she endures the deprivations of war on the home front, the Blitz, sees the changes and horrors that the war causes in Britain, meets a man, falls in love, and all that good stuff.

    Honestly, while this was a good read while I was reading it, in the end I found it curiously unsatisfying, and I spent about four days thinking about why.  First is that Ruby Sutton is a boring heroine. She has one big secret in her background, and a bunch of adversity she needed to fight through to get to her place in the world as a journalist. But once she got that job, everyone falls over themselves to help her, except for one and a half people. There  is very little that even mildly complicates her life.

    Hell, she gets bombed out of her flat during the Blitz, and ends up safe and sound with rich friends, so other than, “well, my passport got blown up, that kinda sucks,” it barely causes a hiccup. Even when her Big Secret comes out, the complications get quietly washed away. And these are MAJOR complications! They should have had actual repercussions, and not have been neatly disposed of in half a chapter.

    The romance is mostly conflictless: he’s got a weird job during the war so he’s in and out of London, but there’s barely any tension. The whole book is “Ruby wants to do something, people help her in doing that thing, Ruby worries that she’s not worthy of their help, people fall over themselves to assure her that she’s adored, rinse, repeat.”

    The best parts of this book where the stories that Ruby went out to report on, like a field hospital in France, or the aftermath of the bombing of Coventry. Those parts were great. But all the interpersonal non-drama was a HUGE drag.

    Redheadedgirl

    ,

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    Six Impossible Things

    author: Elizabeth Boyle

    I mentioned this in a previous “Whatcha Reading” and I totally admit that the title and the cover got me interested. I like Boyle’s writing, and I enjoy her books, but it was the gorgeousness of the cover moved this one up the TBR pile. Marketing: it works!

    Rosalie Stratton’s father worked in the Home Office as a spymaster and diplomat. Of all his children, she is the one who inherited all his skills and his brains. Of course, since she’s a girl, it’s simply impossible that she put those skills to good use…until she just does anyway, with the support of her uncle and a few other people.

    Brody, Baron Rimswell, also works for the Home Office, and he’s had a number of run-ins with a mysterious masked woman, Asteria, who might work with the Home Office (or maybe the Russians?) and those run-ins seem to always end with a passionate make-out session. As so often happens.

    Rosalie and Brody have known each other since they were children, and she’s both annoyed and amused that he doesn’t recognize her when she’s in her guise as Asteria. When they’re caught in a compromising position, they must do the responsible thing and get married, and then figure out how to sort out their lives as spies and spouses. The romance is based on figuring out how a partnership works- Rosalie is NOT going to be a quiet wife, and Brody needs to rethink his ideas of what being a husband means. His parents didn’t give him a good template for a successful, happy marriage, so he needs to figure it out for himself.

    What I liked best about Six Impossible Things was Rosalie and her determination that she would use her talents to help King and Country, whether King and Country liked it or not. She’s a patriot in the purest sense, and she’s got a brilliant mind that’s working two steps ahead of everyone else. Once Brody figures that out – that she’s as smart and talented and brave as anyone he’s ever met – he’s on her team. I love terrifyingly competent heroines and the heroes that adore them.

    This is the sixth book in a series, and I have not read all of them. While I think you can read this as a stand-alone, I have a feeling there are some through-lines that might have more of a payoff if I had read all of the other books. I had a conversation with someone who has read all of this series, and she said that it’s not at that clear how all of these couples intersect (“How is that a SERIES?”). So maybe I didn’t miss a through line.

    Redheadedgirl

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Whatever Security Update

Aug. 20th, 2017 01:25 am
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Posted by John Scalzi

A small piece of security information for you: Whatever (was well as the whole Scalzi.com) site, now operates using https, for extra added security. Mind you, as this site does very little in the way of transactions or anything security-critical, this may not be a big deal to anyone. On the other hand, Google sent me a note recently noting that unless I switched over to https, they’d start blasting “INSECURE” in the URL field of the Chrome browser, so, fine. Now it’s secure. Enjoy the securiosity! No, that’s not a real word. Even so.


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Posted by Marykate Jasper


A British metal band, Architects, were performing in the Netherlands when lead singer Sam Carter noticed one of the attendees groping a woman who was crowd-surfing.

“I saw a girl, a woman, crowdsurfing over here,” Carter said, “and I’m not gonna fucking point the piece of shit out that did it, but I saw you fucking grab at her boob. It is fucking disgusting and there is no fucking place for that shit.”

“It is not your fucking body,” he shouted. “It is not your fucking body and you do not fucking grab at someone. Not at my fucking show. So if you feel like doing that again, walk out there and fuck off and don’t come back.”

Personally, I’d have thrown the creeper out immediately, so this isn’t my ideal response, but I’m still glad Carter called him out and set expectations for any would-be assaulters in the rest of the crowd. Crowdsurfing is often unsafe for women, and it’s important for men to shame and condemn anyone who uses it as an excuse for assault.

Carter finished his rant by calling for attendees to “make this a safe place for everybody,” because – hate to break it to you, Nazis –  there’s nothing more metal than creating a safe space. (via Huffington Post)

  • The Joker’s real name is now canonically Jack Napier – at least in the pages of Batman: White Knight, which takes place in an alternate DC universe where Batman became Gotham’s worst villain and the Joker has to stop him. Though the name first appeared in Tim Burton’s Batman movie, it will now be official in at least one of the comics universes. (via io9)
  • The forthcoming board game Monster Slaughter will let you play as the horror-movie monster who kills everyone. Choose those victims wisely. (via Kotaku)
  • Sonny Landham, who played Billy Sole in Predator, has passed away at the age of 78 (via SYFYWire)
  • Batman and Harley Quinn is apparently THE WORST. Curse you, DC animated movies.
  • Oooh, check out these pretty character posters for The Gifted, Fox’s upcoming mutants TV show!
  • Are you going to be in Austin on September 14? You can watch Evil Dead II in the woods with Bruce Campbell. (via Nerdist)

(Featured image via screengrab)

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Posted by Marykate Jasper

This weekend, we’ve seen yet again why it’s crucial to show up in the fight against racism, just like the anti-racist demonstrators in Charlottesville did.

After the Ku Klux Klan reportedly planned to rally in Durham, North Carolina, residents showed up by the hundreds to counter-protest. The Klan never showed up, but hundreds of local residents took to the streets to demonstrate against white supremacy and hate – and to enjoy a dance party.

Meanwhile, in Boston, a so-called “Free Speech Rally” which had originally invited a bunch of white supremacists to speak, was scheduled to take place on Boston Common today. Thousands and thousands of New Englanders showed up to counter-protest, with attendance estimates ranging from 30,00045,000. Meanwhile, only a few dozen people showed up at the “Free Speech” rally, which had a permit for up to 100 attendees.

As you can see from the video, the “free speech” proponents looked small, petty, and foolish. Obviously, this annoyed Trump, who won exactly zero counties in Massachusetts, so he had to tweet something divorced from reality.

(Hi, there were approximately 27 arrests in Boston. Out of 45,000 people.)

These were definitely not the only anti-racist demonstrations this weekend. Groups in New Orleans rallied for the removal of Confederate and Andrew Jackson statues, and demonstrators in Dallas will gather later this evening for an anti-white supremacy march. These are great causes, and I don’t want to downplay the importance of proactive anti-racist rallies. However, I highlighted Durham and Boston because they were specifically organized to counter-protest a fascist/white supremacist rally.

Some thinkers will advise “ignoring” white supremacists and alt-right groups, because “they want a platform” or “they want the attention.” And that’s certainly true when it comes to media coverage. Richard Spencer can’t wait to get his punchable face on television, or spout his ideology to a newspaper. They love any opportunity to win over followers by spreading their garbage.

However, a counter-protest serves to redirect media attention. If you look at the coverage of Boston in particular, very few outlets mentioned the speakers or talking points of the “free speech” contingent. Instead, it was all about the massive counter-protest and its organizers. Suddenly, the message was about resistance and anti-racism, about the counter-protesters and their concerns.

As it says on this image from the Charlottesville candelit vigil, organized as a direct rejection of the torch-wielding racists who were there a few days earlier: “We replaced you.”

(You can tell you’ve stolen the narrative when even racist-in-chief Donald Trump, who obsessively watches the media, wants a belated piece of the feel-good coverage. After disparaging Boston in his police tweet, he then tweeted, “I want to applaud the many protestors in Boston who are speaking out against bigotry and hate. Our country will soon come together as one!” Cool story, bro.)

Counter-protests also help to discredit the newly emboldened far-right, and to make the people targeted by far-right terrorists feel less scared and alone. White supremacists want to claim America as “their” country, as the exclusive provenance of white people. It’s crucial to demonstrate, as they try to grow their movement, that they are vastly outnumbered and widely hated. It’s crucial to show them the joy, solidarity, and life-giving, righteous anger that animates the “social justice warriors” they claim are ruining the world. (Tubas and trombones and dance parties, folks.) Most of all, it is crucial to remind them that the United States does not belong to them – and that the future belongs to their opponents.

(Via USA Today, The Herald SunWBUR, and NPR; image via Shutterstock)

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Posted by Marykate Jasper

Donald Trump announced that he and his wife Melania won’t be attending The Kennedy Center Honors – which will be held on December 3 – because they want to allow the “artists to celebrate without any political distraction.” Two of the five honorees – television producer Norman Lear and dancer/choreographer Carmen de Lavallade – had already indicated that they would refuse a White House reception with Trump.

The Kennedy Center chairman and president issued the shadiest statement in response.

“In choosing not to participate in this year’s Honors activities,” reads the statement, “the Administration has graciously signaled its respect for the Kennedy Center and ensures the Honors gala remains a deservingly special moment for the Honorees. We are grateful for this gesture.”

I know the Kennedy Center was trying to keep it classy and frame Trump’s months-early snub as a decision they could respond to graciously. But this is pretty much a sly acknowledgement that Trump degrades any tradition he takes part in, from the Boy Scout Jamboree to space explorationNot attending is the only way he can “signal…respect” for any event, because his very presence is an insult to the dignity, decency, and honor of an organization.

Plus, the Kennedy Center is entirely right. Trump’s absence will ensure a better night for everyone involved. The honorees – dancer/choreographer Carmen de Lavallade, TV producer Norman Lear, rapper LL Cool J, singer Gloria Estefan, and singer Lionel Richie – did not deserve to have their shining night tarnished by a photo op with some misogynist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic white supremacist sympathizer. Now they can celebrate their accomplishments without enduring a man who, given the ethnic makeup of this group, probably hates them.

Trump is no friend to the arts, having proposed eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and driven his entire Presidential Committee on the Arts and Humanities to resign with a badass letter. Skipping the Kennedy Center Honors is only his latest – and, surely, not his last – conflict with the arts community.

(Via NPR; image via Shutterstock)

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Posted by Marykate Jasper

A new initiative called #PaintBack aims to do more than just paint over Nazi graffiti; they work to transform it into art. “We hope to see more people peacefully claim back their neighborhoods and contribute to building strong, open-minded, and colorful communities,” said Victoria Tschirch, the co-founder of Die Kulturellen Erben (The Cultural Heritage).

Back in the spring, Tschirch received a call from a concerned citizen about a swastika that had been graffiti’d on a local wall. She was intending to arrange for its cleanup, but Die Kulturellen Erben co-founder and street artist Ibo Omari, who was born in Europe to Lebanese and Turkish parents, said he and a friend would handle it. “We said we are going to take care of it — don’t spend any money, don’t get your hands dirty,” Omari told The Verge. “So we went there and made something beautiful out of it.”

Omari and his friend transformed that initial swastika into a mosquito, but designs since then have included four-leaf clovers, houses, owls, Rubik’s cubes, and more. The movement has since spread out from Berlin, with hundreds of posts on Instagram.

Omari also hosts graffiti workshops at Die kulturellen Erben, so that young street artists can learn to easily alter the swastikas with templates and training. “We wanted to answer with love and happiness,” he told The Verge, “so that young people can relate to it…We take their ugly message and make something beautiful out of it.”

However, the group is careful to get permission from the city before spray-painting over the swastikas. It is illegal to spray paint a public building in Berlin without permission, even if somebody else has already defaced it.

Omari and Tschirch both believe that the move to reclaim streets from Nazi propaganda is especially urgent now. Like the United States, Germany has seen a recent surge in far-right activity. Since more than a million refugees have joined the country, xenophobia has been on the rise. “It’s strange that in 20 years of integration and politics, people still feel scared by foreigners. That is unacceptable to us,” said Omari. “People are manipulated by fear,” Tschirch said. “They fear the unknown and they fear that someone could possibly take something away from them.”

Honestly, just getting rid of a Nazi symbol is plenty enough. But I do love that PaintBack is helping young people to reclaim their neighborhoods as their own, by painting over hate with clever, creative artwork. In place of hate, they’re not just restoring the status quo; they’re making something better than before – and that’s a beautiful metaphor for political progress.

(Via The Verge, CityLab, and Al Jazeera English; image via screengrab)

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Posted by Marykate Jasper

After The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Disney and Lucasfilm are in talks with director Stephen Daldry to helm an Obi-Wan Kenobi film, the speculation began. The project does not have a script or a star attached yet, and the negotiations with Daldry “are in the earliest stages,” so we honestly have no idea what’s in store at this point…which means we’re going to lean the hell into this speculation, everybody!

Now, pretty much everyone agrees that Lucasfilm and Disney have three main options for this movie:

  1. Young, pre-Jedi Obi-Wan
  2. Sad, middle-aged Obi-Wan in the span between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope
  3. Force Ghost Obi-Wan during the new trilogy

Given that, let’s examine the options.

Young Obi-Wan (Pre-Phantom Menace)

As Nerdist‘s Jessica Chobot observed, this isn’t the studio’s best bet. “We’ve already seen the Jedi Knight origin story from Anakin’s perspective,” she said, “and it might have been the dullest entry in the entire series…You probably want to set these spin-offs during the actual ‘star wars,’ not during all the trade negotiations and Senate hearings that led up to those wars.”

I also don’t think anyone’s really clamoring for a young Obi-Wan movie, especially given the fandom’s hope for Ewan McGregor to get a shot at a decent script, but there’s no denying that it would give Lucasfilm and Disney a familiar, easy, three-act structure and heroic arc. Hollywood loves an origin story.

However, Lucasfilm and Disney also have the option to hedge much closer to The Phantom Menace material, pulling us into some of the diplomatic and political machinations from the prequels. And the fact that they’ve reached out to Daldry as a potential director does suggest some talkier material. Daldry got his start in theater, the talkiest of visual mediums, winning two Olivier Awards and a Tony. He then received Oscar nominations for The Hours, a talky drama; The Reader, a talky drama; and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, a talky drama. (Also Billy Elliot, a dancy drama.) He received an Emmy nomination for The Crown, another talky drama.

Looking at that career, it seems like he’s the sort of director you’d contact for a Senate-hearings-heavy piece from just before The Phantom Menace. But I would hope, after the prequels’ rather disastrous reception, that Lucasfilm won’t go back down that road.

Middle-Aged Obi Wan (Between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope)

Most sites seem to agree that this nineteen-year time period is the most likely setting for Obi-Wan’s solo movie. First off, it allows them to use Ewan McGregor. And as Wired‘s Matt Kamen points out, this time period has already proven the richest well to mine for the comics and novels, so why not for a film? “Although this [Expanded Universe material] has all been deemed no longer in continuity,” he wrote, “there are lost riches in those stories. Disney has also proven it’s not above reclaiming Expanded Universe characters and concepts that could still work.”

The question, then, is which stories Disney and Lucasfilm might adapt. The Hollywood Reporter‘s Graeme McMillan believes “there’s a high probability that the stand-alone Obi-Wan Kenobi movie currently in development will feature the Jedi Knight taking on Tusken Raiders.”

Honestly, the dusty, vigilante justice of Obi-Wan Kenobi in exile basically sounds like Logan on Tatooine, which I would be 100% here for. Daldry also really knows how to use characters’ silence to create a moment, so he’d make excellent use of the barren, wind-wracked landscape and the nighttime quiet of a deeply underdeveloped planet.

Wired, on the other hand, is rooting for another expanded universe story from this time period: Obi-Wan’s adventures with Ferus Olin. This story would have a much more action-adventure, master-apprentice feel to it, as the two try to outwit the growing fascist Empire and help others to resist. (Wow, this story also sounds timely.)

Either of these seems like a bankable option for Disney and Lucasfilm, and I’m sure there are dozens more alternatives as well.

Galaxy-Haunting Ghost Obi-Wan (During New Trilogy)

As Nerdist’s Chobot pointed out, this is pretty seriously unlikely. “We already heard [Obi-Wan’s] voice in Rey’s Force Vision from The Force Awakens,” she observed, “so we know he’s probably still out there, somewhere, in shiny blue translucent form. But somehow we doubt Disney is going to be keen on dumping $200 million into a movie where the hero is a dead dude who just goes around telling other people to use the Force.”

But, hold on just a second. While I touted Daldry’s talk-heavy movies above, it is also true that he’s got a great history with musicals. Directing Billy Elliot on both stage and screen, and the film adaptation of Wicked for 2019, Daldry clearly knows his way around a song-and-dance number. Obi-Wan ghost musical, anyone?

(Okay, in all seriousness, we’re getting the nineteen-year-gap story.)

What are you hoping for from the Obi-Wan movie, readers?

(Via Nerdist, The Hollywood Reporter, and Wired; image via Lucasfilm and Disney)

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Posted by Marykate Jasper

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is taking credit for Monday’s total solar eclipse in this funny promotional video. “This will go down in history as the single-most important movie promo of all time,” says Director of Market Research Guy Miller. (Please read all of these titles and names with air quotes.) The video then walks through the genesis of the idea, which they adopted after rejecting other marketing ploys like “flash mob” and “millennials.”

(Obviously, please do not share this video with that one uncle who still unironically shares Onion articles with the caption, “Unbelievable! What is happening to our country?”)

Having worked in corporate marketing, I particularly enjoyed this video because it’s so spot-on with its mockery of advertising and marketing terms. “If you look at our target audience, it makes perfect sense,” says Research Assistant Brian Weigel. “I mean, we have people that know about the sun, and we have people that know about the moon. That’s where they overlap. That’s where the magic happens, right?” The silly PowerPoint graphics are so similar to real-life, why-did-anyone-pay-you-for-this “insights” that consulting firms offer up, and the can-do slogans sound just like actual outlandish marketing campaigns, such as KFC launching a chicken sandwich into the stratosphere.

“Of course it’s possible,” says aerospace engineer Dr. Clifford Johnson. “It’s potentially catastrophic, but it’s possible.”

“Is it legal?” asks Weigel. “I mean, I couldn’t find any laws against it. I don’t think you can get sued for moving the moon.”

The total solar eclipse will be visible in a diagonal band across the continental United States on Monday, August 21. However, even if you aren’t in one of the areas where the eclipse will be visible, you can still watch it online.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle will be rather more widely available than the eclipse itself. It lands in theaters around the globe on September 22.

(Via io9; featured image via screengrab)

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30% Off Zazzle Mug Sale!

Aug. 19th, 2017 09:00 am
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Posted by Amanda

From today, August 19 to 11:59pm PST on August 20, Zazzle is offering 30% off mugs, tumblers, and coasters. Use code ZAZZLECHEERS at checkout.

The SBTB store has some great mug selections if you’re looking for a gift or just to treat yourself.

Slayer of Words

 

Disrupt the Patriarchy

 

It’s Romance Reading Time

 

Mug Full, Book Open, It’s Romance Reading Time

 

Bad Decisions Book Club – “No, I wasn’t up too late reading, not at all.”

 

That’s “Smart Bitch” to You

 

That’s “Smart Bitch” to You Magic Mug – Design appears with hot liquid

 

Disrupt the Patriarchy, Read Romance Tumbler

 

Bad Decisions Book Club Drink Coasters

 

Slayer of Words Stone Coaster

 

Happy shopping!

August Book Club Chat Announcement!

Aug. 19th, 2017 08:00 am
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Posted by Amanda

We know many of you are excited to discuss this month’s book club selection: Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai! You can read our official selection post here to catch up.

Our chat will occur on Wednesday, August 30 from 8:00pm – 9:30pm. That afternoon, we’ll post the chat link on the site and it will go live around 8:00pm. If you’re new to the chats, Sarah will lead a discussion of the book and then Alisha Rai will join us for a Q&A!

We hope you can join us!

Whatcha Reading? August 2017 Edition

Aug. 19th, 2017 07:00 am
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Posted by Amanda

Illustration of magic opened book covered with grass trees and waterfall surround by ocean. Fantasy world, imaginary view. Book, tree of life concept. Original beautiful screen saverI can hardly believe it’s time for Whatcha Reading already. It always sneaks up on me and I can hear my book budget weeping quietly in the background. If you’re new to the site, this is where we recap the books we’ve been reading and how we feel about them.

Let us know in the comments how much or little you’ve whittled down your TBR pile!

Sarah: One of the benefits to developing and then testing the course I’m building on using Google Calendar to declutter your schedule is that I am finding more and more time to read, and making it a priority. It’s too easy to set it aside like I’ll have time later, when reading is one of the best ways for me to recharge and comfort myself. So while I’m working a lot lately, I’m also reading a lot more, which makes me really happy.

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud
A | BN | K | iB
This week, I finished the books in the Peter Grant series and read Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Petersen (review forthcoming!). I’ve also read one of Olivia Dade’s books and close to finishing another.

I struggled with the rapid pace of the emotional development in Broken Resolutions ( A | BN | K | G | iB ), and didn’t quite buy the HEA, though I learned that reclusive writers are a particular strand of my catnip. I caught the Jane Eyre references, though, which I did rather like.

Elyse: I just fell down the In Death rabbit hole so I’ll see you all in a year.

Naked in Death
A | BN | K | iB
Amanda: Goodbye, Elyse! We’ll miss you!

SarahHidden Hearts ( A | BN | K | G | iB )I’m enjoying more, as there is more space to develop the emotional connection, and there’s email back and forth which is another strand of my catnip. Epistolary romances with reclusive writer characters are apparently my ultra-catnip.

Carrie: I have been reading There Is No Lovely End by Patty Templeton ( A | BN ). It’s fictional weird western horror story about Sarah Winchester, who built the Winchester Mystery House.

Crash Into You
A | BN | K | iB
Amanda: I checked out Crash Into You by Roni Loren from the library. It was on sale a couple weeks ago. It’s the first in an erotic romance series and I’ve enjoyed Loren’s writing before. I’m also anticipating the release of the Royally Mine anthology ( A | BN | K | iB ), which comes out on the 22nd this month. There was a great discussion in a recent sale post about some of the descriptions. Like with most anthologies, I know there are going to be some highs and lows and I’m eager to see how the collection shakes out.

Sarah: Next I’m reading Ink & Bone by Rachel Caine ( A | BN | K | iB ), recommended by Beverly Jenkins in the recent podcast interview we did. The podcast episodes are just as dangerous to my TBR pile, I promise.

How has your month been for reading? What books have you loved or hated?


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!

Buy from Amazon.com

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Posted by Vivian Kane

Yesterday, the New York Times published an op-ed titled “I Voted for Trump. And I Sorely Regret It.” If you’re already rolling your eyes at that headline, oh just wait.

The piece isn’t just written by a Trump voter, by the way. It comes from Julius Krein, who, last February, founded American Affairs, a pro-Trump website designed to give his campaign “intellectual heft.” He’s been called, in all earnestness, “Trump’s wunderkind.” This man didn’t just cast a single vote for Trump, he worked hard to legitimize his entire campaign.

So now that Krein has finally realized his “optimism was unfounded,” you’ll have to forgive me for not giving one single shit.

Krein throws out some examples of things he couldn’t possibly have been expected to know would be bad for America, including Trump’s “needlessly inflammatory” statements on immigration. Funny, I seem to remember a whole lot of people foreseeing those as being dangerous. The same goes for those typical politicians’ “strict ideologies” he eschewed. We call those “The Constitution” and “civil rights & liberties.”

Krein wrote about the denial he was in before and since the election, which he sees so clearly now. “For months, despite increasing chaos and incoherence, I have given Mr. Trump the benefit of the doubt,” he writes. “’No, I don’t really think he is a racist,’ I have told skeptical audiences. ‘Yes, he says some stupid things, but none of it really matters; he’s not really that incompetent.’ Or: ‘They’ve made some mistakes, but it’s still early.'”

Now, he concedes, “It’s no longer early. Not only has the president failed to make the course corrections necessary to save his administration, but his increasingly appalling conduct will continue to repel anyone who might once have been inclined to work with him.”

To which literally everyone who saw this coming from the very start replied:

You don’t get a fucking cookie for being sorry now that you contributed to the growing chemical fire that is the state of our country. You supported a candidate because he told you you would rise up by stomping down many, many others, and now you’re surprised that that vicious ideology is affecting your life too? No one is going to wipe away your tears and thank you for allowing us to see them.

What’s possibly even more amazing and maddening than these “I was so wrong” pieces are the “How could we possibly have known??” people.

I’m sorry, WHO COULD HAVE PREDICTED THIS? That’s a serious question?? Gee, let’s start with:

To anyone who actually feels bad for voting for Trump: good. You should feel bad. Because it was not unforeseeable, and you had to ignore a hell of a lot that the rest of us were standing here, waving our arms, and pointing at for a good long while.

If you’ve realized the error of your ways, that’s a fine start, but you don’t get praise or sympathy and the New York Times sure as hell shouldn’t be letting you believe otherwise.

(image: Shutterstock)

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