Sunday, October 18, 2015

Andy Fairhurst (artist)

I love the combination of kid-size figures with the iconography of classic heroes. Andy Fairhurst, an artist from North Wales, has many more of these pieces on his deviant art page that you can check out here. He also has a set of "geek kids" that is pretty cool, too.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

FALL 1.0

As I languish in the morass of awaiting a disability appeal, I have taken up "gardening" for 20-30 minutes at a stretch on my better days.

My gardening is very hands on as I cannot wield any of the heavy equipment designed for such work. Thus, I mostly pick out weeds and clip hedges with a handheld clipper while sitting on my ass.

(And, yes, I have been mocked by friendly neighbors for working from my ass-down position.)

While slow and arduous, I made progress on the lawn over the summer with my compulsive tidying -- which stemmed from my absolute boredom at watching Sadie Mae stare (with a commitment bordering on the obsessive) at the drainage ports down which shrews and chipmunks made their escape from her tireless pursuit.

Fall, however, has turned my "hobby" into a true meditation on accepting the fruitlessness of my former perfectionism. As quickly as I tidy, the winds and nature undo my fine work and invite me to try again.

The red handles in the lower right
belong to a trash bag full
of the leaves of my labors

This was a groovy meditation to work to when it took three days or so for the leaves to pile up again, but now-- whoa!

I shall illustrate with before and after pictures.

Here's the tidied version of our front entryway after being cleared:

And here's the same entryway a short while later on the very same day:

Mere moments later...

...loads of leaves hiding in the hosta

Sadie Mae, who has lost 3 lbs on the healthier diet at our new abode, waiting at her post for chipmunks to miraculously appear despite her vigilant presence:

The formerly 20-lb sausage that is Sadie Mae

Thursday, August 13, 2015

I Fought the Lawn and the Lawn Won...

Sorry for my absence of late. While my folks are out gallivanting on another photo safari, I have been trying to tackle a little lawn work each day. I don't have the energy for more than 20-30 minutes at a time, so one would think I could stay out of trouble with so little time devoted to the task.

One would be wrong.

A little poison ivy/oak/whatever on my dominant hand was to be expected. Like mosquito bites and chiggers, my flesh seems to invite all manner of itchy stuff to traumatize my over-sensitive skin,

I plan for such things and avoid wiping my brow -- or any other part of my body -- with my hands once I've gotten close to mother nature.

What I didn't anticipate was that using the crook of my elbow to wipe the sweat and bugs off my neck and brow would prove even more problematic.

It seems I had the prototypical poison ivy rash secretly growing on my "safe spot" in the crook of my elbow.

Yes, this was the arm I was using to wipe my brow, my cheeks, the back of my neck... It wasn't red and puffy at the time, I'll have you know.

This is what my hand looks like now:

And this is what the rest of me looks like:

Yes, that rash now goes all the way across my brow, on to the left cheek, and all around my neck, just for good measure.

It has finally stopped manifesting new splotches, but the interwebs tell me it could take 2-3 weeks to abate.

I have been a little socially phobic as a result, mostly because I don't want people to fear contamination from my "plague."

Mother Nature loves me.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Animated Comic Covers

There are two talents I wish I had: (1) the capacity to carry a tune and (2) the ability to draw. I don't wish I had these talents in order to earn money at them or become famous by them. I just like to sing (though my brother likens my singing to a cow mooing), and I liked to draw simple cartoons as a kid. (I liked coloring them the best, though. I am a huge fan of coloring.) An example of my work:
A Coffee-Stained Example of a Drawing from My High School Days: Captain Chemistry
An Aged & Coffee-Stained Example of a Drawing From
My High School Days: "Captain Chemistry"
A Cleaned Up Version of Captain Chemistry that took Entirely Too Long to Tidy Up
A Cleaned Up Version of "Captain Chemistry"
(That Took Entirely Too Long to Tidy Up in Adobe FireWorks)

Not only am I a complete dork for drawing about a Captain of Chemistry, I still chuckle at my efforts to infuse the word "chemistry" with a Bunsen burner, a measuring glass, and a carbon ring. Like The Doctor, I thought I was clever.

I also came up with a name for my comic strip (the one that I have yet to actually create): "The short End." (<-- The "short" is deliberately un-capitalized to emphasize its shortness, and it comes from the adage: "The short end of the stick.")

While I lack both the talent and physical capacity to be the cartoonist I once imagined being, I still look for ways to be "artistic." I tend towards synthesis rather than creation. It just seems to be the way my brain works. While I cannot craft something out of the ether, I do aspire to combine and animate art already created by others.

One set of animated gifs by Kerry Callen (of classic comic book covers put in motion) illustrates the kind of craft I would like to learn how to do.

Animated Classic Superman Cover
Classic Superman Animated Cover

Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #4 Animated Cover
Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #4 Animated Cover

The Amazing Spider-Man #33 Animated Cover
The Amazing Spider-Man #33 Animated Cover

Batman #15 Animated Cover
Batman #15 Animated Cover

Daredevil, The Man Without Fear #7 Animated Cover
Daredevil, The Man Without Fear #7 Animated Cover

Fantastic Four #51 Animated Cover
Fantastic Four #51 Animated Cover

Iron Man #128 Animated Cover
Iron Man #128 Animated Cover

Lois Lane, Superman's Girlfriend #29 Animated Cover
Lois Lane, Superman's Girlfriend #29 Animated Cover

Batman Incorporated (v.2) #13 Animated Cover
Batman Incorporated (v.2) #13 Animated Cover

Batman, The Dark Knight Returns Animated Cover
Batman, The Dark Knight Returns Animated Cover

Justice League of America #6 Animated Cover
Justice League of America #6 Animated Cover

All discovered on tumblr, of course. I'll leave you with one of his best: Calvin & Hobbes.

Calvin and Hobbes: The Days are Just Packed Animated Cover
Calvin and Hobbes: The Days are Just Packed Animated Cover

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


Sense8 Netflix Promo Image
Sense8 Netflix Promo Image
I am only four episodes in and I am already in love.

In fact, I find I cannot binge-watch Sense8 because each episode requires my full attention. Each draws me in and leaves me wanting to linger in the sensations and thoughts it has provoked in me.

I felt this way about the Wachowskis' Cloud Atlas as well.

I find myself haunted and intrigued. I feel as if they are tapping into something profound, some piece of humanity's shared experience right out of the Jungian collective unconscious.

And, as a result, these stories touch me in the same inarticulate-able way that music can stir the heart.

And J. Michael Straczinski -- writer of plays, films, TV, and comics as well as a director and executive producer of one of my favorite Sci-Fi shows in 1990s television: Babylon 5 --  is their co-writer and co-creator! What a combination of idealists and dreamers.

There is something deeply rooted in the human experience that is noble/heroic, despite the harm and selfishness and idiocy we subject ourselves and each other to. These creators write normal humans who are extraordinary within their normality.

And, as with their other works, in Sense8Straczinski and the Wachowskis proffer a deeply personal interconnectedness, one in which all humanity shares as hopeful, conflicted, inspired, and wounded beings--- one that we all could embrace by letting compassion and empathy be our guides.

If I were to be said to have a mystical belief system, this Netflix show depicts that spiritualism made manifest. We are better for our link to one another, a link that must be believed in and embraced and protected.

Sense8 cast pics with character names and actors' names under each pic

Monday, June 1, 2015

Making art with art: "Panels that become Creepy"

On tunblr today, I ran across these amazing gifs fashioned out of classic pieces of art. Unfortunately, my efforts to locate the creator of these little masterpieces was hindered by my lack of Italian language skills. The most common "attribution" I found was: QUADRI CHE DIVENTANO TERRIFICANTI, which Google translate tells me basically means "Panels that become Creepy." Oh so very true.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Helen Slater as Supergirl in a promo shot for the 1984 film.
Helen Slater as Supergirl
I'm old enough that my live-action Supergirl was Helen Slater in the 1984 film Supergirl.

She went on to guest star as Kal-El's mom, Lara, in the WB's (later the  CW's)  Smallville.

Screen capture of Helen Slater, as Lara, and Julian Sands, as Jor-El, from the TV show "Smallville"
Julian Sands (Kal-El) and Helen Slater (Lara) on Smallville
(I confess I had a little crush on Ms Slater back in the '80s and found her Lara preferable to Laura Vandervoort's supergirl in Smallville, but that's neither here nor there.)

Melissa Benoist as Supergirl in promo shoot for CBS's 2015 Fall TV show
Melissa Benoist as Supergirl

Now Andrew Kreisberg and CBS plan to re-introduce the character to TV in the Fall of 2015 with Melissa Benoist as the titular heroine.

Here's the first promo spot released for the new show.

Having become a daily tumblr-user, I have also become better acquainted with the construct called "fandom."

I am a bona fide geek-girl from youth having been raised on nightly readings of J.R.R. Tolkein's Lord of the Rings and the long lines and action figures for Star Wars IV (the original release). I am most assuredly a fan.

However, I have never before experienced the equivalent of the modern fandom found online: people who claim to love all things nerd-ish but have an amazing capacity to dissect and critique those artforms before they have even had a chance to be fully born.

I ask you, who among us could survive unscathed the brutal onslaught of critique modern artists must wade through to bring their creations to life (to print, the stage, or the screen)?

There has to be a better way to show our love for someone else's creation when we engage in conversation about how and why we love it.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Wonder Woman on The Mary Sue

Screen capture of the top of an article from Doctor Bifrost titled "Wonder woman and the Paternal Narrative: The Rise of Wonder Woman, the Fall of Women" from the 14 of May, 2015 found on The Mary Sue
Click the pic to go to the article.
Now here's a lengthy article I am most happy to link to on The Mary Sue: "Wonder Woman and the Paternal Narrative: the Rise of Wonder Woman, the Fall of Women" by Doctor Bifrost.

According to the credit at the end of the article, Doctor Bifrost is not, in fact, from Asgard:
Doctor Bifrost is a software engineer, writer, reader, activist, and big-time nerd. He was brought up on The Lord of the Rings, The Left Hand of Darkness, Greek & Norse mythology, and comic books, which he’s been reading since he was four. He’s still running a D&D game he started in 1982. Doctor Bifrost enjoys well-thought-out world-building and nice merlot. He can be reached at
Cover A of Wonder Woman #1 from the New 52 (2011) featuring the art of Cliff Chiang
Cover A of Wonder Woman #1
from the New 52 (2011) featuring
the art of Cliff Chiang
The article is a good read and addresses a dramatic shift in Wonder Woman's origin story with DC's New 52 reboot of their story-lines in 2011. I am quite a fan of Cliff Chiang's art work for the series, but I have to agree with Doctor Bifrost's complaint that transforming Diana's back-story into the archetypal "paternal narrative" version of the hero journey has robbed the series of its vital spark. 

Ironically, in the second issue of the series, the comic itself presents the traditional story of Diana's birth: being shaped from the clay by her mother Hippolyta...
Images from Wonder Woman #2 (2011) by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang depicting the traditional story of Diana's birth from clay with the textual narrative: "According to legend, Hippolyta -- the queen -- her womb was barren. Yet she desperately wanted a child... So, on a moonless night, she fashioned a child out of clay... and prayed to the gods for a miracle."

Images from Wonder Woman #2 (2011) by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang depicting the traditional story of Diana's birth with a textual narrative: "When she was done, she fell exhausted...into deep slumber....And with the sun above, Hippolyta was awakened by her child. Wonder Woman is the perfect amazon -- no male seed created her."

...only to dismiss this original version of the story as legend used to cover up the nature of Diana's true birth. Hippolyta finally confesses: "There was a man. No, there was more than a man. There was a God. The God. There was Zeus."

Images from Wonder Woman #2 (2011) by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang depicting Zeus and Hippolyta in combat with Hippolyta's textual dialogue: "There was a man. No, there was more than a man. There was a God. The God. There was Zeus."
Image from Wonder Woman #2 (2011) by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang with textual dialogue between DIana and Hippolyta: D: "I wasn't made of Clay." H: "I had to protect you from Hera! She's--"
Brian Azzarello, the writer, utilizes the familiar trope of Hera's dangerous jealousy of Zeus' paramours and hatred of his bastard children from Greek myth as Hippolyta's rationale for lying to Diana about the true nature of Diana's birth. 

To add to the heartbreak Diana feels over her mother's lies, Azzarello depicts her as feeling ashamed of her "new" birth, so much so that she must exile herself from her sisters, her mother, and Paradise Island forever. 

Image from Wonder Woman #2 (2011) by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang with text over image of Wonder Woman/Diana: "the Only Shame on this Island is MINE and I will Take it from you all...never to return."

Before this revelation, Diana's identity well into adulthood was of a woman born as a "perfect Amazon" -- someone so wanted that her mother's prayers created her, a miracle. Talk about taking the agency out of a female narrative. 

And by replacing it with the paternal narrative, Azzarello and the editors at DC have also replaced pride with shame as one of Wonder Woman's defining experiences.

Friday, May 15, 2015 To post or not to post?

Screen capture from ABC's "Agent Carter" featuring Agent Carter (Hayley Atwell) pointing a gun off stage-right
ABC's Agent Carter starring Hayley Atwell
Having been a teacher in my former life, I have often been confronted with an internal moral dilemma when utilizing new media (everything find-able on the web) within the confines of what is "appropriate" for the teenage audience in my classroom while simultaneously honoring the copyright and intellectual property of the creators whose material I would like to use in my lesson.

Today's tumblr find is one example. Someone linked to a really cool article by Rachel Edidin on the TV series Marvel's Agent Carter, and the one who posted the link (the "poster"?) included bulk excerpts from the article in his/her tumblr post. I find such editorial moves incredible handy because they allow me to preview an article's content to help me decide whether or not to click on the link and go to the article on its source page.

At the end of most original content found online, one is often offered the option to "share" the material on a social network such as Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. When I went to Edidin's article, I was indeed given those options. However, this article happens to be on

Ah, the now almost instinctual hesitation to link to a site that some might deem inappropriate by its very name alone.

What to do? Cut and paste the article here in order to give my audience the option not to have in their browser histories? (Giving due credit to the author and source, of course, to honor the intellectual property rights of the owners of the article.)

Just hit the share button and be damned the consequences?

Screen cap of the top of the article "Marvel's Agent Carter: Looking Back on the Ballsy, Brassy, Revolutionary First Season" by Rachel Edidin from 24 February 2015 on
While I hold an indigenous view at heart when it comes to most elements of the construct known as "property" (we don't own it, it owns us), I am loathe to deny creators fair attribution for the work they've created.

I also have one of the most liberal notions of what others call "propriety" (labeling something "inappropriate" is a means of social control the power structure wants to have over those who pass within its circumference), which has occasionally made me a poor judge of what teens (or anyone) should or should not be exposed to.

Thus, my inclination always is to provide choice whenever I can.

If you don't care if passes through your browser's history for the NSA and others to see, click on the picture directly above to go to the article in question on

However, if you would rather consume this content here to avoid such potentially problematic internet surfing, the article is provided in full below with all credit to its author and the creators/publishers of the content.


The final episode of Marvel’s Captain America spinoff Agent Carter airs tonight, and statistically, you’re probably not going to be watching it. Not a lot of people have been: despite a significant Marvel PR push, Agent Carter kind of flew in under the radar. I’ve been talking to my hardcore Marvel nerds I know, the history buffs who can tell you where and when and how the Howling Commandos made their debut, the die-hards who gritted their teeth and held on until Agents of SHIELD got good; and half of them never even bothered with the pilot.
And that is a goddamn shame, because Agent Carter is superlative television. It’s the type of period spy piece genre fans live for: clever gadgets and brutal fights, double-crosses and the kind of costumes and dialogue that tell you everyone involved really did their research. It’s accessible even if you’ve never cracked a comic in your life and skipped all the Marvel movies and Agents of SHIELD (though it’s full of easter eggs for the rest of us). Agent Carter is smart and funny and tense and heartbreaking, expertly directed and beautifully shot, and the casting is pitch-perfect, and I love it all: the knock-out spy lipstick, and the mad science, and the grappling on top of cars, and the occasional and unexpected moments of slapstick. I love Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy) and Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) and Angie the waitress (Lyndsy Fonseca), and the shy small-town girl who turns out to be something else entirely. Hell, I even love the crunchy vets at the Strategic Scientific Reserve — SHIELD’s precursor agency — who call Peggy “sweetheart” and relegate her to taking lunch orders and filing reports.
If all of that were all Agent Carter brought to the table, it would still be more than enough. But it’s so much more. Agent Carter is a quiet revolution, and throughout all of those fights and heists and car chases, it is quietly and continually subverting what it means for a woman to be an action hero.

The first scene of the first episode of Agent Carter — once they’ve gone through the obligatory Captain America death footage, in case you’d forgotten — is actually two montages, intercut. One is in the past, and that one you’ll recognize, because it’s mostly more footage from Captain America: The First Avenger: Peggy firing guns, taking down an opponent twice her size, stealing a plane with Howard Stark and Steve Rogers. The other is in the show’s present, quiet and domestic: Peggy in her cramped apartment, checking on a whistling kettle, ironing a blouse, rolling up stockings. Their intersections are uncomfortable, removed: a newspaper headline about Stark; Peggy pausing at the mirror in a silk robe to examine the now-old bullet scars in her shoulder. (Of course, the whole thing is set to “That Man,” by Caro Emerald; which seems too pointed not to be a wink and a nod.)

The dichotomy executive producers Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas are setting up seems obvious, right? On one side, she gets to save the world. There’s excitement, camaraderie, action. On the other, ironing and silk stockings. Peggy Carter is an Action Chick, that opening tells us. She’s clearly better than this bullshit, this purgatory of the feminine and the domestic.

See, that’s the thing about Action Chicks. Even when they get headline status, they’re occupying a genre assumed to be By The Guys, For The Guys and that means that as a rule, Action Chicks — especially high-budget Action Chicks — prove their value by internalizing misogyny. I’m used to Action Chicks who make a point — overt or coded — of rejecting the feminine sphere and everything it represents, by being the only girl; or the girl who’s not like the other girls and will do anything to prove it, while still staying sexy enough for the male gaze. The femininity they cling to — the vanities, the romances — almost always end up liabilities.

So: I’m watching Agent Carter, and I assume I’m in for more of the same, which isn’t surprising, really. I figure, I’ll turn off the critic filter and enjoy the fights and the fashion, and maybe I’ll watch episode two, but probably not.

But the thing is, Agent Carter has my number, because the first thing that happens after that montage is that Peggy’s roommate walks in the door. And even though they don’t know each other very well, despite the inconvenience of an opposite-shift roommate and the secrets she’s keeping, Peggy clearly likes Colleen. There’s genuine affection and camaraderie — and again, when she greets the woman at the fake switchboard that serves as a front for the Strategic Scientific Reserve, and the waitress at the automat.

And all of a sudden, I’m paying attention. Because I know the Action Chick rules, and Action Chicks aren’t allowed to like other women. Other women can be rivals, or foils, symbols of what they’ve given up or failures for the Action Chick to transcend; but neverfriends.

Don’t get me wrong: She kicks ass. In the first episode, I watch her fell a towering thug with a teakettle and stove burner; and another with knock-out lipstick; and a third with a stapler. I watched her get classified information from a meeting over her clearance level by bringing coffee to her male colleagues. I watched her defuse a bomb with chemicals scavenged from her kitchen and vanity and mixed in a perfume atomizer. Do you know what all those things have in common?

They’re coded heavily as feminine. Even the stapler: remember Peggy spends most of her time in S.S.R. relegated to secretarial work.

Now, there is a subset of Action Chicks who use feminine accessories as weapons. They’re femmes fatale, grifters; morally grey and usually doomed as hell; and those feminine weapons are coded as sinister and deceitful. There is a femme fatale in Agent Carter, and she is subversive and wonderful and terrifying and very, very sad: not because she is relegated to the feminine, but because of how violently she has been stripped of her agency and identity.

But Peggy knows who she is. She’s not a femme fatale or a grifter. She’s a secret agent, and she’s more than a little bit prim, and she makes her own calls and messes up — sometimes catastrophically — on her own terms. Peggy Carter’s femininity isn’t a trick or a trap, nor is a mask she wears for the benefit of the men around her: when we finally see her stripped of those cultural expectations, fighting and drinking alongside comrades who know her value, she has shockingly little pretense to shake off.

Peggy knows who she is, and that knowledge allows her to use and embrace the tools she has on hand. She’s not a badass because she rejects the feminine. She’s a badass because she’s capable of recognizing its value.

And that changes everything.

In writing about Agent Carter, it’s natural to compare the show to the character: overlooked because it’s so wholly unexpected, because it refuses to fall neatly into the categories and expectations we’ve spent our lives lining up. Because, brilliant and brave and groundbreaking in its own right, it never quite got out from under the long and broad shadow of those Captain America films — which are of course terrific, vindication of both comic-book cinema and, in The First Avenger’s Joe Johnston, one of the best overlooked directors in the business.

But you’ve seen movies like Captain America. There are no shows like Agent Carter —The Bletchley Circle comes close, but Agent Carter is still something new and revolutionary, something that not only subverts gender and genre; but, like its hero, changes the world left in its wake. Captain America sets a strong foundation. But Agent Carter…

Agent Carter soars.

Rachel Edidin is a writer, editor, and podcaster. She hangs her Internet hat at; X-plains X-Men at; is vaguely Internet Famous as @WorstMuse; and lives in Portland, Oregon, with a nice system administrator and a terrible cat.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Spaghetti Grass Fungus?

Sadie Mae (my Jack Russell tiny terror) when she first joined the family
Sadie Mae (my Jack Russell tiny terror when she first
joined the family): the other half of my we.
Now that Spring has sprung, we have discovered new & wondrously strange plant life inhabiting the matchbox bit of wilderness that is our backyard.

Not that we set out to do backyard exploring today. Sadie Mae took it upon herself to set the agenda for this afternoon.

Chipmunkey (not the actual but a representation)
A Chipmunkey (not the actual one
but a representation)
We discovered the Spaghetti Grass Fungus in our hunt for the notorious Chipmunkey. If you are not familiar with the Jack Russell species of dog, they were first bred in England to hunt fox (not that Sadie Mae is big enough to take on a fox).

According to, "If you can't deal with a dog who will chew, dig, and bark, rocket through the cats and other small animals with glee and murderous intent, and will always find the loophole in any command you give, [s]he's definitely not the dog for you, no matter how cute and small [s]he is."

Backyard Brambly Hedge occupied by Chipmunkeys
Backyard Brambly Hedge
occupied by one or more Chipmunkeys
Sadie Mae exhibits all those characteristics with particular glee. Today, for example, she got herself stuck in this pile of fallen trees and a sundry detritus at the back-most edge of our yard.
My tiny terror's white butt sticking out of the Backyard Brambly Hedge in her search for the Chipmunkey
My tiny terror's white butt sticking out
of the Backyard Brambly Hedge
in her search for the Chipmunkey

Tiny Terror in action

Spaghetti Grass Fungus grasping at fallen branches
Fallen branches succumbing to 
the Spaghetti Grass Fungus
Since Sadie Mae's unplanned excursions can go on for hours before she'll get close enough for me to put her back on her leash, I often have to find ways to entertain myself while I wait.

Thus, while pondering the possibility of extracting her manually, I noticed this crazy vine-like creeping something taking over the yard like some alien fungus from the X-Files. It was wrapping around trees, stitching itself through fallen branches, and spreading across the ground in relentless fashion.

Spaghetti Grass Fungus taking over a fallen log
Spaghetti Grass Fungus taking over a fallen log
Spaghetti Grass Fungus climbing a nearby tree
Spaghetti Grass Fungus climbing a nearby tree

Non-cannabis five-leafed plant of unknown origin
Non-cannabis five-leafed plant
of unknown origin
Then, I spied what I thought was some native cannabis growing near the fecund fungus. Alas, my limited horticultural knowledge became apparent when I discovered that the popular weed has seven leaves, not five as I had thought.

Circular icon with a cannabis plant in green in the center with the text "The Weed Issue" around the topFortunately, the internet was able to instruct me with an abundance of imagery and information on the recreational, medical, legalized/decriminalized-in-many-places-but-not-here-at-all-in-any-fashion plant.