Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Supergirl

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.


http://dccomicstv.tumblr.com/post/119103587760/king-fergus-reacts-to-the-supergirl-trailer-and

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 DoctorBifrost@gmail.com.
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

Playboy.com: 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 Playboy.com.

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 Playboy.com 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 Playboy.com.
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 Playboy.com 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 Playboy.com.

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.

Enjoy.

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 racheledidin.com; X-plains X-Men at rachelandmiles.com; 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 dogtime.com, "If you can't deal with a dog who will chew, dig, and bark, rocket through the house...chase 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

video
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.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Anna Kendrick cracks me up

I have never been one to watch comedies or TV sitcoms, and I typically find what I tend to call "boy" humor dismaying instead of funny (though women can be idiots, too, and find such idiocy funny); however, for some reason, Anna Kendrick can tweet something quirky, and I will find it hysterical (which I would argue suggests I do indeed have a sense of humor of some sort).

I found these gifs of her on tumblr (of course), and I was trying to describe them to my mother as "funny shower thoughts," but I must confess that I am not exactly sure from where or whence they come. I apologize for not having better context to give you, but I think you'll enjoy them anyway.

Gif of Anna Kendrick with text: "I've probably said 'fuck' more times than my own name."

Gif of Anna Kendrick with text: "They should announce a sequel to Groundhog Day and just re-release the original."

Gif of Anna Kendrick with text: "If I had a dollar for every time I needed a dollar, I would never need a dollar."

Gif of Anna Kendrick with text: "Does a frozen yogurt headache burn fewer calories than an ice cream headache?"

Gif of Anna Kendrick making a mind blown gesture with text: "If I touch my phone in the right places, pizza will show up at my front door."

Gif of Anna Kendrick with text: "Using your laptop to research buying a new one is like asking it to dig its own grave."

Gif of Anna Kendrick with text: "When a pregnant woman swims, she's basically a human submarine."

Gif of Anna Kendrick with text: "If you break a pencil, you have two pencils. But if you break a pen, you have zero pens."

Gif of Anna Kendrick with text: "A birth certificate is basically a baby receipt."

Gif of Anna Kendrick with text: "I wonder what my dog named me."

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mash-Ups: GoT & Disney

Text "Mash Up" in letters from various fonts on a lined backgroundWhen I was teaching, one of my favorite projects to assign was the video mash-up. The creativity of my students was boundless: they would stitch together some of the weirdest genre combinations (clips from Mary Poppins with a horror trailer soundtrack, for example) into something completely awesome and entertaining.

On tumblr, I came across some hilarious images mashing up Game of Thrones characters with a Disney animation style. After some research (in order to be able to attribute this fine work to the actual creators of said images), I ended up at Refinery29.com and an article by Lauren Le Vine.

There I learned that illustrators Anderson Mahanski and Fernando Mendonça created the images which can be found on their website: Combo Estúdio.
GoT/Disney Mash-Up of John Snow and Ghost

John Snow & Ghost

GoT/Disney Mash-Up of a White Walker

White Walker/Other

GoT/Disney Mash-Up of Tyrion Lannister

Tyrion Lannister


GoT/Disney Mash-Up of Cersei Lannister

Cersei Lannister


GoT/Disney Mash-Up of Daenerys Targaryen with Drogon

Daenerys Targaryen with Drogon

GoT/Disney Mash-Up of Brandon Stark and Hodor

Brandon Stark and Hodor


GoT/Disney Mash-Up of Arya Stark and Sandor Clegane (The Hound)

Arya Stark and Sandor Clegane (The Hound)


GoT/Disney Mash-Up of Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth

Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth


GoT/Disney Mash-Up of Lord Varys

Lord Varys

GoT/Disney Mash-Up of Oberyn Martell (The Red Viper of Dorne) and Gregor Clegane (The Mountain)

Oberyn Martell (The Red Viper of Dorne) and Gregor Clegane (The Mountain)


GoT/Disney Mash-Up of Melisandre (The Red Woman)

Melisandre (The Red Woman)







Thursday, May 7, 2015

Introversion

"Introji" Recharging One's Batteries
One of my dearest friends (who knows me all too well) sent me a link to a recent article (30 April 2015) by Jenn Granneman entitled "How to Understand an Introvert {Explained by Introjis}" on Introvert, Dear.com.

Not only does the article describe aspects of my being quite well, it also includes animated gifs of "introjis" that one can use to illustrate these aspects of an introverted nature.

My mother is under the impression that she is an introvert, but when I have tried to explain to her my need for a lot of "alone time," she mistakenly thinks I am depressed which leads me to think that she's really just a shy extrovert rather than a true introvert like me.

I encourage you to check out the article and the site, especially if you, too, are an introvert. Just click on the pic below to get there.
Screen capture of "introjis" from the article "How to Understand an Introvert {Explained by Introjis}"

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Baltimore

When the enormity of events overwhelms my capacity to articulate my feelings on those events, I often find myself relying on others to help me express myself. Usually this comes in the form of an amalgam of "news" clippings that I have encountered through various social media.

From the Washington Post...
FB post from the Washington Post regarding "Racism Isn't Over" video

to PBS...
http://newshour.tumblr.com/post/117967574224/learn-more-about-the-statistics-behind-life-in

...to citizens on tumblr.
http://lyrafay.tumblr.com/post/117977585007/did-you-hear-about-the-black-man-in-baltimore-that


When is it okay to riot?
Image of a Time magazine cover containing an image from a riot with edited text changing "America, 1968" to "America, 2015"
Picture of a protester holding a sign that reads "When It's Okay to Riot in America" with checked boxes for sports and other events but an unchecked box by "When an unarmed Black man is killed by police"



http://queeringfeministreality.tumblr.com/post/117939652425/mediamattersforamerica-you-need-to-watch-this

And how should our national media cover the news...?