Happy Holidays!

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I mentioned in an earlier post that my microSD card bit it before I could get photos from our vacation off it.

Which is a shame. We came home with a picture of the four of us- which as any parent will tell you is rare. Any family photo is usually missing the person who took it.

So here, I offer this. Our LEGO Family picture.

2014 minifig holiday card2

Yes, I am totally making the joke you think I am.

Happy Holidays!

Listen.

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141209-listenMy last blog post… I’m not happy with it. It was a reaction, and I was upset. I don’t normally blog about things when I’m that upset. I’d love to delete it, but pretending I didn’t write it isn’t fair.

I’m writing a follow-up instead, one that won’t make me feel like I’m overstepping boundaries.

For those not in the black community, listen. If you don’t believe that things are this difficult, listen. You can’t comment until you understand how it really is. Hell, I’m hispanic and know that racism exists in this world… and I can acknowledge that what they deal with as a community is not my own life experience. So listen to someone who is going through this, instead of making assumptions. (Over on Twitter #AliveWhileBlack is a hashtag well worth browsing)

Over on Tumblr, I reblog a lot of stuff about Ferguson, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice- as well as media coverage about those events. People sharing their opinions. Striking images. And tips for white people who want to join in the protests.

Most of the posts geared towards outsiders include this suggestion- listen. If you don’t believe that this is the world we’ve always lived in, listen to those who assure you that this really is the way the world is. If you want to help and go protest? Listen to the black protestors, because this is their cause, not yours. Let them lead. You’re there to support.

And if you are or if your loved ones are in law enforcement, don’t reply with “NOT ALL POLICE OFFICERS.” We know that not all police officers are racist. Just like when feminists say that men need to do something, they aren’t referring to all men, but problematic men. But if you’re busy defending you or your family members who aren’t part of the problem, you’re ignoring that someone is telling you that there is a problem out there- and it’s a problem that law enforcement needs to tackle head on. Because it isn’t something the public will let them cover up or hide. (Also, if someone is criticizing white people and you’re offended and want to defend white people as a whole… just stop yourself.)

Listen. Learn. Ask yourself some tough questions- and then react.

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How do we move forward?

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A week and a half ago, I was just outside of San Francisco in my hotel’s fitness room- waiting for the prosecutor to come out and read the results of the Ferguson Grand Jury about Darren Wilson, the cop who shot and killed Michael Brown.

The kids were in the pool, I could see them through the glass. The TV’s in the hotel lobby were tuned to Monday Night Football. It was already late in Ferguson, and getting later and later. As I listened to Bob McCulloch drone on and on, congratulating himself, vilifying social media… it was clear that this was a three ring circus. Not justice. They gave people time to show up to protest. Made them wait, become frustrated. They were basically setting up the stage for there to be riots, because they knew the nation was watching.

Sure McCulloch claims it was because he wanted to release all the evidence- but there was no need to do it concurrently. Nobody was demanding that it would all be released at the same time.

And now, this. Eric Garner, killed by a police officer because of an illegal chokehold- a grand jury failed to indict the officer, even though there was actual video evidence to show that there was no resistance. Even though the coroner ruled it as homicide.

Our justice system is broken. It’s hopelessly in favor of those who already have power- whether it’s literal (the police) or societal (the wealthy and/or white). How is it that you can have actual video and not be able to bring a single charge against a police officer?

Don’t sit there and say this isn’t a racial issue- I’ve seen white friends/acquaintances try to say that it’s a class issue. But this is about race. You don’t hear about police officers shooting a white kid with a toy gun. You don’t hear about police officers shooting a young white man with his hands up, or shooting him after asking him to get his ID out during a traffic stop. You don’t hear about police officers forcibly cutting off the extensions of a white woman. You don’t hear about police officers using a choke hold on a white man for a crime that’s probably a misdemeanor.

Because it doesn’t happen like that.

My children are going to face racism. I’ll have to tell them about the subtle racism of someone saying that they’re well spoken, with the unspoken “for a brown kid.” Or someone turning them away because they don’t quite fit what they’re looking for. Or that they’ll likely be watched by security guards if they go into certain stores. But I probably won’t ever have to tell my boys how to act around police officers, out of fear that they might be shot.

The ugly truth is that nothing about this is new. Nothing about this is different. The only difference is that the US and the World are finally watching.

Don’t mistake this statement as me saying that all police officers are racist, or should be demonized. But I think we can recognize that positions with power don’t always attract the people who want to do better- they also attract bullies. (Same with the military) But when you have generations of cops training rookies to look out for certain behaviors from black people- it becomes societal.

All you have to do is look at the way that black men are described by police, with mythical strength (the same way society referred to black slaves, to justify using them for labor) and being animals/demons (Darren Wilson even referred to Michael Brown as both a demon and “it”). It’s the sort of garbage that you only believe when someone teaches it to you. No child wakes up thinking that another person isn’t a person.

I don’t know how to fix things. My fear is that with officers wearing cameras, you’ll just get footage like Eric Garner’s death- where one officer misbehaves and everyone else just stands and watches. I just know that it’s time to stop pretending that we live in a post-racial world.

Because we aren’t there yet. Not by a long shot.

Goodbye Eleri. Hello Natasha.

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The last two weeks have been surreal, to say the least.

Zorro killed my laptop. He crippled Eleri, to be precise. Yes, that’s what my last laptop was named – every device I own has a name. Anyhow, he knocked a drink over the keyboard… and while I put it in rice, it fried the keyboard and the trackpad.

So I worked on the desktop PC that we own- which lately was our Minecraft machine. You can imagine how much fun that was, trying to convince my kids to wait to play Minecraft so that I could finish up my work for the day.

When we were on vacation, I hijacked TheBoy’s laptop and used that to work. And for everything else, I took advantage of my phone’s unlimited data. Consequently, I fell behind on what a lot of people were doing.

After our vacation, the microSD card on my phone died – and I’m currently trying to figure out if there’s any way of salvaging the data on that. Since it had vacation pictures I hadn’t shared with anyone else yet (that’s really what I’m upset about)

And I’ll be honest, not having the laptop was an annoyance more than anything. I could still read. I could keep up with the news, and wade into my social media streams. I could email and text. I could write offline, but I had a harder time finding time to write using the desktop computer. Why? Because it faces the corner and literally anyone could walk behind me and watch me blog or work on fiction… and my brain shuts down when faced with that.

But I now own a new laptop! Instead of me taking my laptop to the Genius Bar, TheBoy decided I should just get a new one, since it was about time to upgrade.

introducing-natashaLong story short, I now have Natasha, and will be able to blog regularly again. Isn’t she beautiful? She’s faster, lighter. I’m soooo excited!

(And this isn’t even addressing the emotional toll that Ferguson has taken, or how busy I was with Thanksgiving, a cold, and a kid that needed to go to Urgent Care)

Always Listen. The Allegations Against Bill Cosby

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I’ve been putting together my Avengers Half Marathon Weekend Recap, but my computer’s been acting up. Correction: Zorro knocked a drink across my laptop and borked the keyboard and trackpad. I can boot it and get information off… so after Thanksgiving, I’ll be taking that over to the genius bar so that they can try to salvage my baby.

When I told TheBoy about it, his first response was “And Zorro’s still alive?”

But I realized that before I share some pictures and talk about last weekend, I should address a much more serious issue. The rape allegations against Bill Cosby.

Just in case you’ve been frozen in a block of ice since the 80s, Bill Cosby was once sued by a group of mostly anonymous women because they alleged that he raped them. Bill Cosby settled. Then about a month or so ago, comedian Hannibal Buress brought up Cosby and the rape allegations in a set and the video went viral.

And for the first time since the social media age began, the internet became aware of the allegations. Then, for reasons unknown, Bill Cosby’s PR team asked people to meme him… and the majority of the meme posts referenced those rape allegations.

Women have started to come forward, and the similarity between all of their stories is that they were drugged, woke up in a state of undress, and weren’t believed by anyone they told. Or were told to keep quiet because of Cosby’s influence.

I’ve seen a lot of people doubting these accusations on the grounds that charges were never filed, that there are no rape kits, that some of the women admitted to additional encounters with him.

This is the same thing you hear with victims of abuse. Most of these women were young, early on in their careers and looking for some guidance. When faced with an older man with a pristine reputation in the public eye- there would always be an uphill battle. And much like victims of physical violence, there’s always the hope that they were wrong. That it wouldn’t happen again.

Today, it’s easy to judge and say that someone would be believed. But there was no social media. PR firms could do a much better job of controlling what people believe about celebrities.

Case in point, do you remember hearing about the time that Sean Penn almost killed Madonna? Did you hear about Charlie Sheen shooting Preston before that weird descent into madness a couple years ago? It’s because these things could be covered up, because the news hadn’t hit a 24/7 cycle with social media fueling it.

Most of these women didn’t come forward because they knew that nobody would believe them. It was their word against the man perceived as America’s TV Dad. So if you hear more victims pop up (and you will), understand that they’re doing so because people are finally listening. People are finally willing to believe that public image isn’t always what someone is like.

Not to mention that inconsistencies are common in stories from rape victims. Often, they’ll tell an account that minimizes what happened (to help themselves cope, or diminish the risk of being judged by others) and then later tell the full story. It’s hard to admit when you’re a victim when you aren’t sure how it’ll be received.. (It was hard for me to admit I was being stalked, or that I’d had a sex tape stolen, so I can’t imagine how hard it would be for someone who was assaulted)

So before you start judging, just remember that most of these occurred at a time when he had all the power, and they had no platform to speak. Now they do. So, listen. Don’t discount someone simply because their story makes you uncomfortable.

(And if you really want me to dig up statistics on false rape accusations, I will. It’s an insignificant amount compared to what goes unreported)

I’ve got IRON, how ’bout you?

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I have anemia. I’m still not sure if it’s because of the Crohn’s, or just exacerbated by it – but I have severe anemia. As in, when I went to the hospital (the trip that led to the Crohn’s diagnosis) my iron was so low that they had no idea how I was conscious.

That first trip I had an infusion of iron (and blood!) and started taking iron pills. Daily. Then, for a period of time I was taking liquid iron (which is disgusting and stained my teeth), but I’d finally made it back into a normal range.

Then I went to the hospital in January. And with that flare-up, I lost a lot of blood, and thus… a lot of iron. So I’ve been gradually building it back up.

I had a blood draw last week (it’s my 7th blood draw of the year, 12 if you include the hospital stay), and went to my doctor today – and voila! My hemoglobin level is .1 under normal range, but it was a vast improvement – and my iron levels are normal.

It’s huge, really. I think that a big part of it is that I’ve been so very careful about keeping my Crohns from flaring up – it means I absorb more nutrients and lose less blood. So diet and exercise really does work!

Though, as my fantastic boss put it… the downside is that I’m more vulnerable to Magneto now.

magneto too much iron in your blood

Comikaze 2014: Being Black Widow

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Whitney Drake as Black Widow

Me: Black Widow

This was our third year going to Comikaze Expo, and I have to say – it’s come a long way from the convention that made me want to weep because it took over an hour in the heat to get inside the convention center so I could wait in another line to get my badge.

If you live in the LA area, I actually recommend going to Comikaze. It’s affordable, there’s plenty of food at the Convention Center and around it (we went to a nearby parking lot where there were a bunch of great food trucks)- the floor is pretty well laid out with wide aisles so you don’t get a ton of bottlenecks, and there’s a nice variety out on the floor (despite “Comi” being in the title, it’s heavily a pop culture convention – a little bit for everyone, though Mile High Comics had a HUGE wall for their booth this year. It was pretty awesome). Their big panels are on the con floor, and it’s standing room only. Literally. You stand during the panels.

Also, they had HUGE Cosplay is not consent signs all around the floor and lobby. And they set up a ‘cospitality’ lounge for cosplayers to rest and touch up – I didn’t get to use it this year, but I saw a lot of people cycle through it.

I’ve gone in costume every year, in 2012 I went as Ramona from Scott Pilgrim. 2013, I went as Abaddon from Supernatural (it seemed fitting since the con shifted to Halloween weekend that year). This year, Black Widow.

It’s the most recognizable character I’ve ever cosplayed, and Natasha’s a character that’s near and dear to my heart. I’m not going to lie- when I posted about the sex tape here, I thought about her story arc in Winter Soldier. Knowing that everyone would know her secrets, but still blasting out all of SHIELD’s information because it was the only way to halt HYDRA. Even though it terrified her, she did it.

So we went, nice and early- and got a parking space under the Convention Center (that’s $20- the one in the adjacent lot is $15, I think). And it didn’t take very long before someone asked for my picture. TheBoy was surprised at how quickly I’d catch the people who wanted to stop me for photos- but it was pretty easy. I wasn’t listening for Whitney or Mom. I was listening for Black Widow or Natasha. And since I was people watching, all I had to do was notice if they were lifting their camera/phone in a ‘can I take your picture’ pose. (Plus, most people made a beeline for me if they wanted one. That was hard to miss)

And while I’d practiced a few poses at home before the con, some photographers were kind enough to give me some suggestions for the picture they wanted (I had a tendency to turn to the side, so you couldn’t see much of my costume- one guy pointed it out because he liked the details that I’d added). So that was pretty cool, and for me – cosplay’s a learning curve. Both in making the costumes and wearing them.

(more…)

My thoughts on the Upcoming MCU

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At a Marvel press event yesterday, they announced the movies of Phase 3. For those not familar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the movies are broken up into phases. Iron Man is off on its own, and Phase 1 officially started with Iron Man 2, Thor, Hulk and Captain America. All those movies, timeline-wise happen in and around each other. Phase 1 ends with the Avengers. Phase 2 covers Iron Man 3, Captain America 2, Thor 2, Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers 2. (And Ant-Man. I keep forgetting Ant-Man.)

So I figured I’d go from beginning to end.

mcu-cap3

I’ve been worrying that this was coming, as soon as the Pegasus facility was mentioned in Avengers. Civil War was a major story arc in the Marvel comics – big enough that while I wasn’t a huge Marvel fan, I actually read it (this was back in the days of scans_daily on LJ, and man, that makes me feel like I’m old). And… it just tore me apart, and unfortunately set up a lot of stuff in the comics that I didn’t particularly like.

But I’ve been talked back from the ledge- having it be a Captain America movie means that Steve will be the moral barometer and that they’ve slowly been pushing Tony into a position for him to make some questionable decisions. (And that’s factoring in the questionable ones in Phase 2)

mcu-drstrange

Not the movie I’m most excited for, and last night I was saddened by the rumor that Benedict Cumberbatch was taking on the role. He’s a fine actor, but the MCU right now is pretty darn white. Plus, Dr. Strange was one of those characters that was created when people thought you couldn’t really have an asian lead- so instead you had a white guy learn the mystical powers of the East. It’d be a nice correction to have him played by a non-white actor.

At least the tweet above gives me hope. Fingers crossed for someone awesome. Like Oded Fehr, or Pedro Pascal. Who would you cast if you were going for a non-white Dr. Strange?

mcu-gotg2

I think this was a given, but it makes me very happy. Yay for space misfits!

mcu-thor3

Loki will return! Ragnarok! Aaaahhhh.

mcu-bp

T’challa! It’s about time. They announced that Chadwick Boseman will be playing Black Panther with a 5 picture deal. So there’s your first POC lead in the MCU. May he pave the way for a lot more!

mcu-marvel

Captain Marvel. Who they confirmed would be Marvel’s current Cap – Carol Danvers! And the MCU will finally get their first female centric film. I love the book, and I think she’ll be a great addition to the MCU. Any thoughts on who you think they’d get for Carol? (Katee. I mean it)

mcu-avengers3

I think Marvel comics fan has been waiting for this to be announced- other than the Civil War, this has been the storyline that they’ve been setting up from Thor onward. And it’s an event so big, they had to split it in two. I’m excited.

mcu-inhumans

…and I’m really excited about The Inhumans. Black Bolt and Medusa are one of my favorite couples, and with Carol being Captain Marvel, it makes me wonder if they’ll add Kamala in the lineup, since she’s Ms. Marvel. Because that would be amazing!!

So, I’m definitely excited for what the MCU has coming up. What are your thoughts- and tell me, who would you cast as Carol Danvers and Dr. Strange?

Oh HaleNo: When the Bully thinks she’s the victim

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If you were on Twitter yesterday, you probably saw #HaleNo trending – it was in response to Kathleen Hale’s piece in the Guardian where she shared the tragic story in which her life was RUINED by a book blogger who devoted their entire life harassing her.

Which, given the stories we hear about online trolls/bullies, doesn’t seem too far-fetched, does it?

Only, if you read the piece (linked using donotlink so that it won’t improve the Guardian’s site ranking), it’s clear that isn’t what happened at all.

One of the amazing things about the internet is that you can create a pseudonym. Want to whistleblow? Live in an ultra conservative community, but want to write about things you know wouldn’t fly? You can create a pseudonym and do so. It’s amazing. It’s also something that bullies and trolls use to their advantage.

But that is absolutely not what happened in Hale’s case. Hale is the one who engaged the blogger, after she read the blogger’s negative review. She’s the one who couldn’t let it go. She decided that the negative tweets and reviews she got were the fault of that negative review. And just like that The Blogger became her white whale, who she continued to pursue – to the point where she used her publisher to get the blogger’s home address and went to confront her. That’s right. She actually went to someone’s house.

How bad was this harassment? It was enough that the blogger blocked Hale on FB, deleted her Twitter account – and then eventually returned to Twitter and set her profiles to private. But not before Hale sent the blogger multiple DMs to criticize her for using someone else’s pictures for her account. (Which incidentally, we don’t know whether or not they were used without permission- that’s entirely Hale’s assumption)

I’m not underplaying any of it. Literally, as you read, there’s red flag after red flag that Kathleen Hale can’t be trusted to be honest about herself. She begins by sharing the anecdote of her so obsessing over her book that her editor had to tear the finished book from her hand to keep her from attempting to edit it further. It’s meant to be funny, but makes it clear that she’s someone who obsesses.

It’s obvious reading it that Hale isn’t the victim. She’s the aggressor here, picking on a person who chose to use a pseudonym for her own reasons- reasons we aren’t entitled to have.

And the Guardian happily shared this story of an author stalking a reader.

Some good pieces about this:
Stalking is Never OK! Authors, Bloggers, Entitlement and Obsession
On the importance of pseudonymous activity

Thankfully, #HaleNo was the response from authors and book bloggers alike, saying that her behavior isn’t acceptable.

What are your thoughts?

His name is WHAT?!

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As many of you know, I am kind of a walking Star Wars Encyclopedia. When I got into the Star Wars movies, I really got into the Star Wars universe. Memorized timelines, adjusted timelines when things just didn’t make sense… and for about a decade ran a Star Wars RPG (using West End’s d6 system) with my best friend in college. It was awesome.

Even he's perplexed.

Even he’s perplexed.

So when news surfaced that Emperor Palpatine was finally given a first name, I couldn’t wait to see what it was. C, the aforementioned college best friend, was annoyed when she shared the link- but I figured it would be something overly fussy.

Nope. According to Wookieepedia, who sources the name as being in the upcoming Tarkin novel, his name is…

Sheev.

Sheev Palpatine. Or Sheev Sidious if you’re nasty going with Dark Side monikers.

Seriously? I would have gone with something a little more Roman sounding.

So, as I said on C’s FB post about this, I’m going to paraphrase Nick Fury for my official response: It’s a stupid-ass name, and I’m going to ignore it.

What sort of name do you think that Senator/Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine should have had?