[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Hello Captain,

My distant friend Sally and I went out to dinner and she started asking me about my past relationships. I’ve known Sally for over a decade and she’s never pried into my dating life. I told Sally I wasn’t interested in dating anyways as I am looking for a job and like to online date or meet people through work. She tried to reason me out of all of this which seemed troubling.

A couple weeks ago Sally had a birthday party. She had put the event on Facebook. After our dinner, Sally texted me that her friend John saw me on the invite list and became “interested” in me. She said he might hit on me at the party ( he did not show up). This made me uncomfortable as I hate flirting with strangers. It’s odd but I’ve never even flirted with someone who’s become my boyfriend.

I also don’t trust Sally’s judgment at all. To be blunt I’ve met her friends and they aren’t horrible but they’re the “I don’t suffer fools gladly” type.

John has also been asking Sally about me. He wants to know when I’ve found a job and want to meet him. I have never indicated I want to meet John. I’m refusing, there’s something odd about a person in their late twenties being this invested in someone because of their FB profile. I rarely if ever post on FB. He is also asking me out through my friend which seems manipulative.

Do you have script suggestions?

Thanks,

– No thanks stranger ( female pronouns)

Dear No Thanks, Stranger!

I do have script suggestions! And other suggestions! I’m getting a weird vibe like John scouted you out before the dinner and was pressuring Sally to pave the way for him even back then, and you’re right, this needs to be shut down now.

Step 1: BLOCK that John dude from Facebook and then go ahead and find him on all social media platforms you use and preemptively block him there. Not unfollow, not unfriend, not “hide feed” – BLOCK. Also, consider temporarily changing publicly visible avatars to something other than your face, and locking down security/visibility of any photos of you that are out there. Make sure there is nothing out there to feed his fantasies.

If that seems mean or harsh or unfair, let’s remember: You’re not interested in him at all, you’re already vaguely creeped out by his attention, you are losing nothing from your life by cultivating your internet garden as you see fit. The way he’s monitoring you, asking for updates about your life, and trying to get Sally to set the stage for him but not talking to you directly is odd and he needs to stop it right now, so, help him out with that.

And if this is all projection/matchmaking by Sally, oops, you blocked a total stranger who doesn’t actually know who you are. Not a big deal at the end of the day.

Possible Reaction: John will get the message and leave you and the entire topic of you alone. Good news everyone! This Choose Your Own Adventure Story ends here!

Probable  Reaction: John will notice what you did immediately and he will contact Sally to see what happened. Sally will then ping you to talk about John and his Johnfeels of rejection. (If this happens, please keep reading Step 2)

Step 2: Tell Sally that the whole John thing made you really, really uncomfortable and you don’t want her to set you up for any more “hitting on” scenarios or act as your romantic go-between. Also you’d prefer to keep your information completely private where John is concerned, so, you’d appreciate it if she didn’t update him on your job search or your life or pass on requests from him.

Possible Reaction: Sally will say, “Oh wow, sorry for making you uncomfortable, I get it, don’t worry about a thing.” If this happens, keep enjoying whatever you enjoy about your “distant friendship” with Sally! Here endeth this Choose Your Own Adventure Tale! Yaaay!

Possible Reaction: Sally will be hurt that you didn’t appreciate her matchmaking efforts or feel bad for John and think you’re mean for rejecting him and she’ll double-down on John advocacy. If this happens, please continue reading Steps 3 and 4.

Step 3: Do not give Sally reasons for your rejection of John. “I prefer not to.” “I’m just not interested.” Don’t pick apart his actions or his undesirable qualities or give excuses about being busy – she’ll use whatever you say to convince you to “give him a chaaaaaaaance.”

Step 4: If Sally continues sharing your info with John and trying to play matchmaker in your life, block Sally or, if you’re reluctant to do that after 10 years, put her in that Facebook-Jail thingy where she can’t see any of your posts for a good while.

If you miss Sally you can always dig up her number down the road. If John wanted to ask you out he could have come to the party, had a normal conversation with you and said “Hey, want to grab a drink with me sometime?” without all the fanfare. He could have also asked Sally straight up for an introduction (and respected your resulting “no thanks” when and if it came). He could have sent you a friend request and a note that says “I’m a friend of Sally’s, I saw you on the invite list, mind if we connect here?” Even if he’d chosen a less creepy and roundabout method of getting in touch, you’re not interested, so, farewell, John, we hardly knew ye.

For those who like to matchmake (I sometimes like to matchmake, especially “you live in the same city and I think you’d make good friends” matchmaking), I recommend asking the people in advance, like, “Hey, I’d love to introduce you to a friend of mine who lives in your city/does what you do for a living/reminds me of you/keeps sending me the exact same Twin Peaks memes that you send, I think you’d really get along, would that be cool?” and then if it is cool with both people I make a quick introduction and then I get out of the middle of things – the people will either find their own conversation or they won’t. If it’s not cool, I drop the subject.


plumbing washers

Jun. 23rd, 2017 09:36 am
darkoshi: (Default)
[personal profile] darkoshi
If you have any kind of filters or adapters on your faucets, especially in the kitchen, check the rubber washers once in a while. While replacing the filter unit on my kitchen sink, even though it hadn't been leaking, I discovered the old washer had completely disintegrated, leaving behind nothing but black goo. That's not something I want in my drinking water.

In the past, I've encoutered washers partially disintegrated, but I've never seen one completely gone to goo, like this one was.
[syndicated profile] tordotcom_feed

Posted by Alasdair Stuart

With The Dark Tower hitting cinemas this year, his directorial debut Yardie having just finished principle photography, and John Luther set to fight London’s most twisted crime in an upcoming fifth season, Idris Elba is in the middle of a very prolific year. Elba’s always great, but some of his very best work to date has been in genre films, where he never fails to bring authority, humor, and intelligence to the role. Here are some of my favorites.

First up, a few honorable mentions. His work in RocknRolla is ridiculously good fun; in fact, the entire movie is. Gerard Butler, Elba, Tom Hardy, and Toby Kebbell as gloriously incompetent criminals must represent some kind of Brit actor singularity, and they’re all fantastic in the film, especially Hardy as Handsome Bob and Elba as the endlessly laconic Mumbles.

His work as Heimdall for Marvel is also impressive, as is his array of voiceover work. Then there’s his turn as tortured DCI John Luther, his work as Nelson Mandela, his mesmerizing role in Beasts of No Nation, and so on. But in genre terms, you don’t get better than his work in the following films—at least until The Dark Tower comes out…

 

Marshal Stacker Pentecost (Pacific Rim)

First off: BEST. CHARACTER. NAME. EVER.

Secondly, Elba’s turn in Pacific Rim is central to very nearly everything that makes the movie work. As Stacker, he plays a former Jaeger pilot who, it’s heavily implied, has been promoted off the line in order to keep him alive. Along with Charlie Hunnam’s Raleigh he’s one of the only people in history to drive a Jaeger solo and live. Unlike Raleigh, it’s killing him, following a fatal dose of radiation.

This being Pacific Rim, and this being Stacker Pentecost, that mostly just annoys him.

Stacker’s persistence, years later, is the embodiment of the scrappy, bloody-nosed spirit of Pacific Rim. His speech to Raleigh about his job—“All I need to be to you and everybody on this dome is a fixed point—the last man standing.”—reinforces that. He is endurance and tenacity personified, the rock hard moral and ethical core that the Pan Pacific Defense Corps, and the movie itself, revolve around. He’s dying. He fights anyway. No one else has any excuse.

But where the character of Stacker really shines is in the way he interacts with other characters, most notably Mako (played by Rinko Kikuchi). His adopted daughter, raised in the Corps and with the tips of her hair dyed the blue of Kaiju blood, Mako is a clenched fist looking for something to punch. That’s on Stacker, and the film is at its best when it shows that he’s both a devoted father and one that struggles to be good enough. Their final scene together, separated by a mile or so of ocean and multiple Kaijju, could be interpreted as melodramatic, and I’m sure it strikes some people that way. For me, though, it’s painfully emotionally honest and sweet.

It’s not just Stacker’s interactions with Mako that bring out the depths in this performance, either. His relationship with Herc Hansen, the other old warhorse, is sketched in but no less poignant. Herc, like Mako, knows that Stacker doesn’t have long to live. He also knows, when Stacker takes his place in the final run, that the odds are good he’ll never see his friend or his son again. He lets them go, making his peace.

Then there’s Raleigh, for whom Stacker is alternately an immovable object and a scalable peak to strive towards. The two men have shared trauma, a shared past, and far more common ground than they see at first. For Stacker, Raleigh is a proxy, a man who can do what he knows will kill him. For Raleigh, Stacker is the embodiment of everything he’s run from and everything he once aspired to be.

Most of all though, Stacker’s memorable because he’s Henry V in an angry, mobile skyscraper. The “cancelling the apocalypse” speech doesn’t just work because it’s rousing, it works because Elba is able to show us every emotion Stacker is working through as he rallies his troops. He’s terrified. He’s serene. He knows for certain this will kill him. And above all else he’s bubbling over with satisfaction at finally being able to DO something. The closed fist he’s made of his daughter is being thrown, and he’s there to help set up the punch. He’s happy, as much as he’s enraged and impassioned, and that’s what really lands the speech. That, and the “I don’t remember it being so tight” moment, which always gets me somewhere between laughing and crying. Stacker knows time has passed. He knows his time is almost up. And he knows exactly what he plans to do with what he has left.

Here’s to you, Marshal Pentecost. We look forward to your son continuing the family tradition.

 

Captain Janek (Prometheus)

Arguably Elba’s most high profile film role (prior to The Gunslinger), 2012’s Prometheus saw him playing the captain of the Prometheus itself. Janek is the sort of blue collar space trucker that Parker and Brett from Alien would get on with. Or, at the very least, they’d enjoy some good-natured arguments together.

Janek works because he’s such an honest and straightforward character. In a film that, thanks to some mystifying cuts, frequently appears to be full of idiots (RUN TO THE LEFT, VICKERS! RUN TO THE L—ahh, DAMN IT), Janek is never, ever one of them. He’s a welcome control for the movie and one of the parts that genuinely holds the rest of it together. (Plus, he really does love that tiny Christmas tree. It’s endearing.)

 

Chief Bogo (Zootopia)

While my (Manx) island boy heart will always gravitate towards Moana and Lilo and Stitch as my favourite Disney movies, Zootopia is right up there, too. It’s not only a clever and subtle story about race relations and Nature vs. Nurture debate but also a smartly constructed thriller and the best mismatched cop movie since…the last mismatched cop movie you really, really liked (take your pick).

A huge part of the film’s success is the voice cast, all of whom are fiercely great. Ginnifer Goodwin’s endlessly perky, wry Judy Hopps is fantastic, and she and Jason Bateman’s fast-talking fox, Nick Wilde, bounce off one another brilliantly. J.K. Simmons as Mayor Lionheart and Jenny Slate as Bellwether are great, too.

Elba’s turn in the movie is a small but vital role, and interesting in a couple of different ways. As Chief Bogo, he runs First Precinct and is Judy’s commanding officer. That instantly sets up a fun size/power dynamic, as Bogo’s colossal Cape buffalo frame towers over Judy. However, as the movie goes on it, becomes apparent there’s much more to the Chief than just size. Bogo’s attitude is as biased and bigoted as Judy’s, but in subtly different ways, and the film takes both of them through the other side of that with surprising delicacy and perception. His reading glasses, too, hint at an interesting age difference/generational gap, but it’s when you realize that he’s a herbivore in charge of a squad largely consisting of carnivores that the character really begins to unfold in interesting ways. Bogo’s had to work just as hard as Judy to succeed in the force for different reasons, and that changes how he sees her. At least at first.

Bogo was originally written as a one-note character, but with Elba’s casting he was expanded to take on some more comedic elements and greater nuance. His colossal love for Gazelle is the big payoff to this, as is the implication Bogo may be gay (at least according to some corners of fandom). It’s never confirmed, but he and Clawhauser make an adorable couple and whether you subscribe to that reading or not, Elba’s work is impressive, sweet and honest throughout the film.

 

General Stone (28 Weeks Later)

Directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, 28 Weeks Later has none of the faux-Dogme 95 cinéma vérité stuff that chokes the life out of 28 Days Later. There’s no overbearing soundtrack, no ludicrously accurate drops of blood, and a definite change in focus. Instead of being a character-driven sequel, it’s an event-driven sequel picking up six months after the outbreak that began in the earlier film.

The result is a movie that feels like a hybrid of those moments in 28 Days Later that do work brilliantly (Jim’s parents, the contrail) and something we almost never get to see: what happens after the world ends.

An expeditionary force spearheaded by the U.S. Armed Forces has taken back a sizeable chunk of London and, with the Rage-infected population almost dead from starvation and attrition, resettlement has begun in earnest. The UK is a mass grave, streets deathly quiet, and the film follows one particular family group as they struggle to rebuild their lives. Inevitably, things go sideways and the action shifts to US Army medic Scarlet (Rose Byrne), Delta Force sniper Doyle (one of Jeremy Renner’s career-best turns) and chopper pilot Flynn (the always brilliant Harold Perrineau) as they race to get a pair of vitally important children out of London before it’s firebombed to sterilize the new outbreak of infection.

There is so much to be said about this movie—the interesting ways it builds on the original and just how badly it ultimately fumbles the landing—but that’s a story for another time. What’s particularly interesting is Elba’s turn here as the US Army CO, General Stone. Stone’s a gifted soldier and diplomat, and a man whose job clearly weighs heavily on him.

In a kinder movie, Stone would be a figure similar to the surprisingly nurturing and supportive Colonel Weber, as played by Forest Whitaker in Arrival. But he isn’t that lucky. Instead, Stone makes every right choice and it doesn’t matter. It’s a small role, but Elba gives it both the authority and dignity needed to make this smart, good, tragically unlucky soldier one of the movie’s most memorable characters.

 

To sum up: intelligence, charisma, humour, and, on occasion, colossal monster-punching robots, magical demon-killing six-shooters, or just a really great coat—clearly, Idris Elba’s got it all covered. When he’s the hero of the piece, there’s a good chance the apocalypse will be cancelled, permanently; can’t wait to see what he does next.

Alasdair Stuart is a freelancer writer, RPG writer and podcaster. He owns Escape Artists, who publish the short fiction podcasts Escape PodPseudopodPodcastleCast of Wonders, and the magazine Mothership Zeta. He blogs enthusiastically about pop culture, cooking and exercise at Alasdairstuart.com, and tweets @AlasdairStuart.

[syndicated profile] theatlanticeducation_feed

Posted by Hayley Glatter

How Accusing a Powerful Man of Rape Drove a College Student to Suicide

Katie J.M. Baker | Buzzfeed

No one was there to help Megan [Rondini] ... one night in July 2015, except for a well-to-do businessman Megan knew only as “Sweet T.” The 34-year-old later told authorities he offered 20-year-old Megan a ride home because he and a friend saw her leaving downtown Tuscaloosa, [Alabama,] alone. Megan couldn’t remember how she ended up in Sweet T’s white Mercedes on the way to his ornate mansion, decorated with his choicest hunting conquests, from massive-tusked elephant and wide-mouthed hippo heads to taxidermied lions and leopards. But, Megan later told police, she was sober enough by the time he pointed her toward his bedroom to know she didn’t want to have sex with him—and, she said, Sweet T should’ve known it, too.

* * *

A School That Provides the One Constant in Homeless Students’ Lives

Katie Hayes Luke | NPR

Positive Tomorrows is a small, privately funded school in the heart of Oklahoma City, designed to meet the needs of homeless children. The future of these students hinges on the one constant in their lives: the school, which addresses both education and basic needs. The educational challenges associated with homelessness are broad and extend to every corner of a child’s life. Without consistent access to adequate food, shelter and safety, students are often too hungry, tired, and stressed to keep up in the classroom.

“It is sort of like trying to change your tire on I-35 and I am trying to teach you how to read while that is happening,” says Amy Brewer, the school’s director of education. “Obviously that does not go very well.”

* * *

Why Schools Are Prime Targets for Cyber Hackers

Kyra Gurney | Miami Herald  

[The hackers] weren’t just looking for the names of kids and valuable Social Security numbers, [United Data Technologies, the Doral-based cybersecurity company that investigated the incidents] found. The hackers were also searching for some way to slip into other sensitive government systems, including state voting systems.

Luckily, the hackers—from Morocco, not Moscow—never found one or managed to get their hands on personal data. But the attempted hacking exposed the vulnerabilities of Florida’s school-district networks: vast computer systems that store sensitive information on thousands of students, and their parents, and could potentially provide a backdoor into other government systems.

* * *

Arizona’s Unqualified Teachers

Ricardo Cano | The Arizona Republic

The Arizona Republic gathered data from 162 Arizona school districts, accounting for 46,000 teachers and about 80 percent of the state’s 1.1 million public-school students in the 2016-17 term. Of those teachers, 22 percent lacked full qualifications.

Many in that 22 percent did have a college education and teacher training, but had less than two years in the classroom, a time frame when they don’t qualify for the state’s full credential—a standard certificate. Many others lacked even more basic qualifications. Nearly 2,000 had no formal teacher training. Dozens lacked a college degree.

* * *

The 395 Kids Philando Castile Left Behind

Rebecca Klein | Huffpost

Jeronimo Yanez, at the time a St. Anthony police officer, shot and killed [Philando] Castile last summer during a traffic stop. Castile, 32, left behind not only a girlfriend and her daughter, a mother and a family, colleagues and friends, but also 395 adoring students at the Saint Paul, Minnesota, elementary school where he worked.

The students have spent the past year mourning Castile, a loss that was felt anew last week with the news that Yanez had been acquitted of any wrongdoing.

Now that Castile’s killer has been found not guilty, the young children are grappling with another uncomfortable truth: The justice system doesn’t always deliver justice.

* * *

How the Liberal Arts Help Veterans Thrive

Kara Voght | The Atlantic

In partnership with the Posse Foundation, a nonprofit with a successful track record of connecting students from underrepresented backgrounds with elite schools, Vassar enrolled its first cohort of veterans in the fall of 2013. ...

The intimacy and intellectual growth at the heart of the liberal-arts experience has enabled veterans to thrive at these institutions, even as those students overcome spades of difference. What’s more, the benefits of Vassar’s experiment aren’t limited to the veterans: To faculty, administrators, and traditional students, student-veterans have imparted lessons about what it means to be liberal and inclusive not only by aspiration, but also in practice.

* * *

Inside Harvard’s Search for a New President

Claire Parker, Leah Yared | The Harvard Crimson

When University President Drew G. Faust announced last week she would step down in June 2018, she set into a motion a months-long, secretive process that will set Harvard’s course for years to come: a presidential search.

While Harvard will conduct the search—still in its early stages—from behind closed doors, glimpses from hotel lobbies and conversations with insiders from searches past shed light on how one of the world’s most prestigious schools will choose its next leader.

fatalism o' the day

Jun. 23rd, 2017 06:30 am
metaphortunate: (Default)
[personal profile] metaphortunate
I am not good at political predictions. And I hope I'm wrong about this. But I don't see how we can keep the ACA.

I mean, this is why Republicans have been swallowing Trump's shit, right? For the Supreme Court seats and the right to pass this enormous tax cut? Isn't this what they sold the republic for? If they don't pass it now, wouldn't that require them to decide to have given it all up for nothing? Wouldn't they be taking a huge personal hit to their own opinion of themselves, not to mention their own taxes, and their own donors, for no other reason than to help millions of people they've never personally met and would probably not like if they did meet? Humans are not super good at doing that kind of thing; the richer the worse, the more powerful the worse, and I just don't really see how I can expect these particular rich old powerful motherfuckers to transcend the limitations of their species at this moment in time.

(no subject)

Jun. 23rd, 2017 09:10 am
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[personal profile] choco_frosh
Yoiks. I never posted about LAST weekend (well, the non-theater bits),* and now I'm headed for Maine again.

Well, as soon as I get this job interview done.
#toomanythings

* The fact that the ten-foot long fast sketch artwork has been riding around in my car all week pretty much says it all.

this is not a fandom post, sorry

Jun. 23rd, 2017 08:57 am
nanslice: ([FFXV] eeeeehhh)
[personal profile] nanslice
Thanks to everyone who commented on the last post.

I'm okay! I actually ended up spending most of the day alone, watching SVU and playing on Pinterest. Mom and my sister went to places but I really resent my sister inviting herself over like she did (and she knew it) so I elected to be alone.

weight and health )

Let's see. I'll get back to fandom soon.

Weekend To Do

Jun. 23rd, 2017 08:34 am
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[personal profile] oracne
1. Write and submit PW review. Probably Sunday, so I can work in the library near where I'm attending a concert that night.

2. Rest strained/pulled muscle (possibly hip abductor) whatever it is so it gets better.

3. Venture out for concerts Saturday and Sunday nights.

4. Laundry? If my muscle is better. It is raining a lot this weekend, so I might not want to trek to the laundromat for that.

5. Try not to be too frustrated with my injury.
[syndicated profile] markreadsstuff_feed

Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the second half of the fifteenth and final chapter of Wizards at War, I realize just how bittersweet this ending actually is. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of grief and death of pets.

So, lemme just admit that this chapter works best when it’s not split up, since it’s a giant piece on endings. Loss. Hope. For every bittersweet thing here, though, the second half of this chapter provides potential and possibility.

LET’S DISCUSS.

Dairine

There’s a callback later in this chapter during Kit’s POV where he recalls how recently Nita lost her mother, and it’s meant to highlight the loss he feels now that Ponch has ascended. For many of us, our pets were very much like people in our lives, and losing a pet can be downright devastating. However, upon reading that line, I realized how much more distraught Dairine must have been, given that she lost her mother and then Roshaun in a relatively short span of time. Reading back on her scene which opens this section is hard, y’all. The grief is all over these pages, a testament to how talented Duane is as a writer. You can see it in the vacancies in the descriptions: thee’s no crowd outside the palace; the plain is “vast,” made to seem all the more empty because there are no people on it; a single light burns at the end of a motionless hallway; Dairine herself didn’t even bother to change clothes or shower before traveling to Wellakh.

In short, it’s unbearable, and her conversation with Roshaun’s parents is just as heartbreaking. There is a finality to their words, an inherent acceptance that Roshaun is gone and gave his life in order to save the universe. Which was surreal because… well, we didn’t know if Roshaun was actually dead or if something else had happened that would explain his disappearance. And maybe Dairine was in denial of that, fine. I accept that. Still, that’s not exactly an easy thing to tell Roshaun’s parents! So I understood why she didn’t mention her hunch that he wasn’t dead. His parents were already grieving; why give them false hope? Why make matters worse?

Yet here’s the first example of the possibility written into this ending. First, Roshaun’s stone has responded to Dairine, which means she might actually be able to perform the same wizardly specialty as Roshaun, but for humanity’s sun. I don’t quite understand what that entails, but training with Roshaun’s father??? OKAY, I HOPE THAT IS IN THE NEXT BOOK.

But it’s Dairine’s bizarre dream journey that we find the most hope. The mobiles help create a version of Timeheart… that’s not really Timeheart? But sort of? In this, Dairine goes to the world that Roshaun “created” for himself (or was created for him, I’m not sure), only to discover a gate that leads… RIGHT BACK TO DAIRINE’S HOUSE. And Roshaun is gone, and this whole thing, as confusing as it was, HIGHLY SUGGESTS THAT ROSHAUN IS NOT DEAD AND MAY EXIST IN ANOTHER FORM OR STILL HAS WORK TO DO OH MY GOD, PLEASE. PLEASE.

I’m saving that for predictions for the next book.

Nita

The world keeps needing to be saved.

It’s a sober thought, especially after these characters lost so very much throughout Wizards at War, but it’s also a succinct summary of what it’s like to be a wizard. There’s not really a time for wizards to truly rest, since the universe is always affected by entropy and death. It’s easy to see this as a commentary on our lives, too, that the quest for a just and fair world is never going to be about winning a single battle. It’s a lifelong journey, a commitment to always working towards a better life for all people. That’s more or less a parallel to Nita’s dream, where the Lone One confronts her and tries to dissuade her from action by drilling home the idea that what she does is futile and unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Maybe so, but that’s all the more reason to make the life she does have full of purpose and meaning. If this is all she’s got, why waste it?

Kit

Like I said earlier, grief and loss is everywhere in this finale, and it’s no more present than in Kit’s big scene at the end. He follows routines out of habit, despite that everything reminds him of Ponch. It’s agonizing to read both because of how sad it is and because I related so very much to Kit’s reaction. Often, your brain doesn’t realize how much meaning it has assigned to inanimate objects until a person or pet is gone, and then that meaning is obvious. Painful. Unfair.

Like the food and water bowls. The leash. The walk. The dogs in the neighborhood behaving normally. All of it has the old meaning, but with a new one tacked on: this is what Kit used to do with Ponch. IT HURT A LOT, OKAY? Now, I don’t know if Kit will ever get another dog, and I don’t blame him if he doesn’t for a while. However, that final scene was almost like Ponch giving him permission to, if only because PONCH IS NOW IN ALL DOGS PLEASE HELP ME I AM TEARS. It’s such a fitting end for the character of Ponch, who we might very well see again in the future. I’d sure like to. But if not… well, this is how a character should go out.

Goddamn, what a book.

I am thrilled to confirm that I will be a Guest at CrossingsCon 2017! Badges are now available, so COME HANG OUT WITH ME THIS SUMMER.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

[syndicated profile] nerdist_feed

Posted by Alicia Lutes

What happens when you embark upon a road trip to find God? A little bit of jazz, a lot of bloodshed, and a veritable smorgasbord of crazy you never thought would ever be portrayed on screen. Such is the place AMC’s Preacher finds itself in its second season. While critical acclaim secured the series’ place in the pantheon of crazy-good new TV, it was the expansion and the execution of writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon’s original story that made it one of the most anticipated sophomore returns this year. And in season two it only gets better—at least based on the first few episodes and our time spent on the New Orleans set earlier this year.

Moving Preacher‘s set to New Orleans from New Mexico for its second season imbued the series with a more southernly gothic feel, the perfect juxtaposition for a story about a man trying to confront a runaway God. Particularly one populated by a preacher with a voice that controls minds thanks to the angel/demon hybrid living in his chest (Jesse Custer), his best friend who just so happens to be an Irish vampire (Cassidy), and the badass girlfriend of said preacher (Tulip) with whom they’re both in love. So what should expect from this season’s expanded, 13-episode run, outside of a lot of blood and sacrilege?

So, so much. Let’s break it down for all you believers.

It Gets Into the Comic Book Material in a Big Way

As Kelly Kanayama mentioned in her review of season twoPreacher dives headfirst into the source material in its second season, an assertion evidenced by the litany of characters we saw, ripped from the pages, walking around on set. We can’t spoil who all of them were or in what context we saw them, but there is certainly an expansion of how certain stories from the books intertwine with our main trio and move the story forward.

“The new characters are fucking badass,” explained Joe Gilgun, who plays Cassidy. “For anyone whose read the comic, they’ll know who we’re talking about, and the people that have been picked to play those roles are fuckin’ mustard.” (Whatever that means, though it’s apparently a compliment.)

Graham McTavish as The Saint of Killers - Preacher _ Season 2, Episode 2 - Photo Credit: Skip Bolen/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

There is one character, however, that we can talk about: the Saint of Killers. Though introduced as nothing more than a curiously angry cowboy in season one flashbacks, this season Graham McTavish’s (Outlander) role makes huge strides in his mission to kill Genesis and Jesse Custer, and it sets up a mighty battle between two fairly unstoppable men.

According to Jesse Custer himself, Dominic Cooper, season two “takes things to extremes, as the comics do. It’s completely complicated, and ludicrous at times, but I think this underlines the absurdity of it all.”

Trouble is Brewing for Tulip and Jesse

Though at odds for most of season one, the complicated dynamic—and love!—between Tulip and Jesse is expanded in big ways this season, though mainly through conflict. “[Jesse’s] a man with a mission,” actress Ruth Negga explained. “He has a very strong concrete idea of what he wants, which is he wants to find out where God is and see that through. For Tulip, that’s difficult because I think she feels that she’s become second fiddle to that desire and need.”

For Tulip, that meant coming to terms with the fact that Jesse has ultimately changed. “She really wants to rewind back to how they used to be pre-Dallas, but that’s not the case and it can’t ever really be the case when something like that happens to relationship,” Negga continued. “It evolves into something different, and I think she’s very resistant to that.”

Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer, Ruth Negga as Tulip O'Hare - Preacher _ Season 2, Gallery - Photo Credit: Marco Grob/AMC

It also means the trio may have to come to terms with the fact that there are secrets between them (namely the fact that Tulip and Cassidy had sex that one time), which is sure to make things complicated. As Negga put it, “I remain vigilant to that idea that they orbit him. They’re essentially orphans—they don’t really have any other purpose in life [besides following Jesse].”

Tulip Gets More Time to Shine

In season one, the show did excellent work in adding some much-needed characterization to one of the few women in the story. Negga’s work as Tulip will be kicked into high-gear in season two, and the actress hints that it may turn divisive for the couple in the end. “She wants to go back on her own, just have fun like the old days,” said Negga. “She’s having to come to terms with Jesse—AND Jesse is a very different person in many respects.”

“I think that really annoys her, the idea that the thing that makes her happiest—or that did make her happiest—is him,” Negga explained. “I think she finds that very hard because she doesn’t have any goals as solidified as that. I think that’s very hard for her to come to terms with. I think we explore how that makes her question herself. ”

Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer, Ruth Negga as Tulip O'Hare; group - Preacher _ Season 2, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Skip Bolen/AMC

Negga went on to add that even though her relationship with Jesse is major, Tulip’s past is also being expanded, saying that the series’ start “insinuates that she’s on the lam from quite a few different organizations. This [trip] is her refuge, but I think we toy with the frustration that she feels about having to do whatever he says. That’s not an unconscious by-product, I think that is something deliberate.”

But for all Tulip’s strength—and trust, she is strong as hell in many ways—that doesn’t mean she’s without vulnerability, which we see in major ways once the Saint of Killers comes on the scene. “A lot of people respond to this very strong female presence and character, [but] we’ve talked about that that’s not someone without vulnerability,” Negga told us. “That’s not someone without flaws that haunt them, and Tulip is an incredibly haunted being.”

Ruth Negga as Tulip O'Hare - Preacher _ Season 2, Gallery - Photo Credit: Marco Grob/AMC

“I think Tulip very much resists that about herself and she wants to bury a lot of that, get on with the fun, and relish and adventure,” Negga continued. “But I think there’s only so much distance you can run when you approach life like that. I think in some ways she’s run out of a bit of road in this season in terms of facing her fears and dealing with chinks in her armor. Her way of dealing with life is not to accept that, not to accept her own issues, but fight through them and fight them off and kill them. That’s one of the avenues that we go down this season with her.”

Cassidy Will Surprise You

With the gang filming in New Orleans, our mind immediately went to one place: VAMPIRES. Readers of the comics know that a contingent of New Orlean vampires plays a major part in Cassidy’s storyline, but don’t expect it to get all the way there yet. “That [stuff’s] not happened yet,” explained Gilgun. “If everyone’s sat there thinking there’s gonna be a bunch, that Cassidy’s going to meet these vampires, that shit hadn’t happened yet. They’re really stringing it out.”

But he did add that it may be teased this season: “It’s not to say there’s not vampire shit going down, like there’s a bit of something goes on … you don’t see it happen, but we’ve visited the world of vampires, just not in the way it’s done in the comics.”

Joseph Gilgun as Cassidy - Preacher _ Season 2, Episode 2 - Photo Credit: Skip Bolen/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

For all his comic relief, however, Cassidy displays a more vulnerable side that pervades the first few episodes of the season.

“I think this year people will be surprised,” Gilgun explained. “It’s just… I think his past has caught up with him in such a way that it’s redemption for Cassidy, a little bit, this year. He’s trying to seek a bit of redemption in New Orleans. I think the viewers will be shocked to see that difference—a bit more of a caring side to Cass.”

Would that caring side have anything to do with his repressed feelings for Tulip, his best friend’s girl? Sure seems that way, based on Gilgun’s explanation: “We all have the best intentions of going on these adventures, but unfortunately, especially [for] characters like this, the past catches up with them and that’s exactly what happens to Tulip and Cass for sure.”

It is “Stiller”

For all the bombast and audacious excess in the first few episodes of season two, Gilgun asserts that the show has found a pace that allows for more breathing room for the story they’re telling. “It gets stiller, I guess, is what I want to say,” Gilgun proclaimed. “For want of a better word, fucking word, it gets stiller. It starts to chill out a lot more. It’s not like constant fucking road trip—obviously we land in New Orleans and everyone’s past catches up with them. We wanted to put … the reality of a road trip like this on screen, and the reality of a road trip like this would be shit getting in the fucking way.”

Joseph Gilgun as Cassidy - Preacher _ Season 2, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Skip Bolen/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Preacher season 2 premieres on AMC on June 25th at 10pm. Are you going to tune in? Let us know in the comments below!

Images: AMC

Alicia Lutes is the managing editor of Nerdist, host of Fangirling!, and a total stan for Preacher. Find her on Twitter!

[syndicated profile] theatlanticeducation_feed

Posted by Conor Friedersdorf

The national controversy surrounding attempts to shut down controversial speakers on college campuses entered a new phase this week, with the Senate Judiciary Committee holding a hearing, “Free Speech 101: The Assault on the First Amendment on College Campuses.” But even as they held that hearing, Republican legislators in the Wisconsin State Assembly advanced legislation that would severely punish such protests—and pose its own threat to free speech in the process.

Under the bill, University of Wisconsin students “could face a disciplinary hearing if they receive two or more complaints about disruptive conduct during a speech or presentation,” The Washington Post reports. “If a student is found responsible for ‘interfering with the expressive rights of others,’ the bill would require that the student be suspended for a minimum of one semester. A third violation would result in expulsion. Anyone who feels their expressive rights are violated can file a complaint.”

State Representative Jesse Kremer says he sponsored the legislation as a response to situations when the free-speech rights of students were taken away by disruptions. “People are still allowed to protest and disagree,” he told the newspaper. “It’s that the person in a forum has the right to get their point across without being disrupted.”

But a critic of the bill suggested that its punitive approach to protest was itself a threat to free speech rights. “Our colleges and universities should be a place to vigorously debate ideas and ultimately learn from one another,” State Representative Lisa Subeck, a Democrat, told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Instead, this campus gag rule creates an atmosphere of fear where free expression and dissent are discouraged.”  

For years, I have been a staunch critic of activists who shut down invited speakers with whom they disagree, whether through force or sustained chanting and disruption. And I agree with the premise that students who repeatedly engage in  that sort of behavior should be punished. Denying members of an academic community the ability to host controversial speakers, or to hear hotly contested ideas, jeopardizes the core missions of undergraduate education and knowledge generation.

Administrators at many institutions of higher education have been derelict in protecting those missions from censorious student activists with authoritarian tendencies. What’s more, recent, prominently reported shut-downs of speakers like Charles Murray and Heather Mac Donald have caused faculty and students hoping to avoid the shutdown of their next event to shy away from speakers who might be controversial—a chilling effect that could be reversed by clearly communicating that denying others the right to speak will no longer be tolerated on college campuses.

But I had several misgivings about the Wisconsin bill as originally drafted that went beyond my general aversion to state legislators trying to micromanage student life at public universities, especially ones that haven’t themselves experienced a rash of shutdowns.

The original language was based on model legislation from the Goldwater Institute. Its features were described as follows by Wisconsin’s legislative analyst in the official summary:

The policy must include a range of disciplinary sanctions for anyone who engages in violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, obscene, unreasonably loud, or other disorderly conduct that interferes with the free expression of others. In addition, the policy must provide that in disciplinary cases involving expressive conduct, students are entitled to a disciplinary hearing under published procedures that include specified rights. Also, the second time that a student is found responsible for interfering with the expressive rights of others, the policy must require the student to be suspended for a minimum of one semester or expelled.

I objected most to the language that requires punishment not just when student protesters prevent an event from happening, or disrupt it in a way that denies others free speech, but when there is mere interference with another person’s speech or expression. Should a protester be punished for briefly interrupting a speech with a sign, then leaving voluntarily when asked? How about loudly booing a speaker or interrupting and talking over a speaker during a question and answer session? I have been disrupted while speaking to college students, but never in a way that denied me the ability to express myself or stopped the event in question. There was never a need to bring formal discipline into those situations.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education recommended that Wisconsin mandate sanctions only for substantial, material disruptions of free speech, and avoid defining minimum sanctions in statutes, because “not all disruptions are equal in their severity, and sanctions should be proportional to the offense.” Like zero-tolerance-for-weapons policies that result in expelling grade-school students for water guns or butter knives in a lunch pale, this bill seemed to risk unreasonable outcomes by denying college administrators discretion to exercise judgment and common sense.

That input seems to have significantly improved the final bill. As the amendment report puts it:

The bill requires that the Board adopt a policy that includes a range of disciplinary sanctions for certain individuals who engage in “violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, obscene, unreasonably loud, or other disorderly conduct that interferes with the free expression of others.”

The amendment modifies the types of conduct for which disciplinary sanctions must be established. Specifically, the amendment provides that there be disciplinary sanctions for “violent or other disorderly conduct that materially and substantially disrupts the free expression of others.”

Many mere disruptions to a speech, like booing a particular line in a speech, or disrupting a speaker’s words while walking out of a talk in disgust, should themselves be considered protected expression by principled advocates of free speech. The amended language seems much less likely to punish or chill protected speech, although the words “disorderly conduct” remain a bit too vague for my taste.

The amended version of the bill also declares that “a student who is subject to a disciplinary hearing has the right to counsel in all circumstances, no matter the nature of the potential penalty,” rather than only when they are facing suspension or expulsion.

But minimum penalties are retained. And the amended version also fails to resolve my next biggest concern: “that any person be permitted to make a report that another person has violated the bill’s provisions” and “that a formal investigation and disciplinary hearing be conducted if two or more reports are made regarding the same person’s violation.”  

If I know academia, the potential for abuse, absurd outcomes, and chilled expression is greatly exacerbated by giving everyone the right to file a complaint on a whim.

This power to initiate formal proceedings may well exacerbate two pernicious trends in campus life: 1) the evolution of a culture where harassing innocents with the filing of frivolous complaints is a common feature, forcing victims into time-consuming administrative investigations, often with opaque rules and rampant due process violations; 2) administrative bloat that flows from hiring staff to investigate complaints, carry out hearings, adhere to bureaucratic rules, and demonstrate compliance.

Both trends should be of concern to conservatives.

The administrative bloat would likely remain in Wisconsin for years after the trend of speech disruptions by student activists fades away and other campus problems loom larger. This is how bureaucracies become cumbersome and sclerotic over time.

Republicans may be correct in concluding that speech is being shut down often enough on college campuses to warrant a legislative response, especially if public university administrators are repeatedly failing to punish students who shut down events. But if legislators intervene, they should do so with more precision and restraint than is demonstrated by the counterproductive activists that spurred them to action.

As a governor I would certainly veto the Goldwater Institute’s model legislation, despite my sympathy for its main goal. The Wisconsin legislation comes closer to the mark in its amended state, and is a better model for Republicans in other states to follow, if they must insert themselves into campus life at all. But the provisions I’ve criticized in the Wisconsin bill should still be significantly improved, and easily can be.

Perhaps it would still be an improvement on the status quo in a public university system where administrators were standing idly by as activists shut down multiple speakers or routinely prevented fellow students from expressing themselves. That may describe life on some campuses in 2017, but I see no evidence that it describes life at the University of Wisconsin, or reason to believe it will anytime soon. And that makes this a bill likely to do more harm than good.

[syndicated profile] thisishorroruk_feed

Posted by Bob Pastorella

“The individual elements of character, setting and description are intertwined like a strand of DNA to give this tale life and readers a quality read.”   Tony McMillen is the author of the novel Nefarious Twit (Branch Hands, 2013), a book LitReactor selected as their Book Club Selection for March 2014. A wonderful achievement for …

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Jun. 23rd, 2017 01:10 pm
selenak: (rootbeer)
[personal profile] selenak
Confessions of a Trekker: I really don't like ST VI - The Undiscovered Country. Which is, I've discovered, something of a minority opinion, for at least the vocal part of fandom holds this last cinematic outing of the TOS crew in a fond light. However, now and then the dissent becomes vocal, too, as in this rewatch post about the movie in question .


In more fun Trek news, check out this vid about everyone's favourite Cardassian tailor-plus-spy:

Dedicated Follower of Fashion

(Every now and then I wish the movies instead of going for the nth version of Wrath of Khan (with or without a villain called Khan) would tackle the Cardassians instead. And then I conclude the movies would probably mishandle the Cardassians as badly as they did the Romulans, and am glad the Cardassians so far have been reserved for tv.)

And lastly, a BSG fanfic rec:

Rippling Light: tender and heartbreaking take on the friendship of Felix Gaeta and Anastasia Dualla, two characters for whom the phrase "they deserved better" might have been invented.

Night Flight

Jun. 23rd, 2017 10:18 am
nanila: little and wicked (mizuno: lil naughty)
[personal profile] nanila
I’ll never understand the pride people take in saying, “I was born and bred here” or the use of the same phrase to defend one’s perceived superiority or deservingness of housing, health care or other basic human rights.

I mean, what did you, yourself, actually do to influence where you were born or bred? Unless you were a particularly ambitious embryo, the answer is “nothing”. Sure, your parents might have made some kind of effort to select your place of birth. Maybe they strove to move to better housing in a neighbourhood with better services and schools. Maybe they’re even immigrants, like my dad, and they struggled long and hard to learn their fourth language in order to integrate into their adopted country. But you? You didn’t do anything. Why are you so proud of that? Think of the things you've accomplished in your life. Isn't it far more fitting and fulfilling to be proud of those?

And why the obsession with asserting the superiority of a single identity over the others? “I’m English first and then British.” Pro-tip: Most of the rest of the world considers both of those to be synonymous with “ex-colonialist imperialist arsehole” so it doesn’t really matter which one you choose. ^.^

Here is a list of the geographically-linked identities that I consider myself able to lay claim to. I’m proud of some and not others.

  • American
  • British
  • European
  • Hawai’ian
  • Filipino
  • Olympian
  • Seattleite
  • Angeleno
  • San Diegan
  • Londoner
  • Brummie (this is a new one; still feels a little odd)


Today, I think I’m proudest of being European. I earned that identity and that passport, and I’m still very pissed off that some people want to take it away.

Today is also, weirdly, simultaneously:

  • the anniversary of Brexit, aka the Colossal Waste of Time and Money Foisted Upon Us by a Generation That Tore Down Decades of Painstakingly Won Goodwill with Our Neighbours and Won’t Live to Experience the Disastrous Consequences, Thanks a Lot, Dickheads.

    And

  • International Women in Engineering Day


So, to close this post, here is a peaceful photo of a woman doing some engineering.

Scientist at work

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