Thursday, May 28, 2015

Three Interesting Things

1. A Twitter discussion broke out about lesbian, aka f/f romances, and the recommendations have been storified
2. This Radiolab episode about the photos taken of a dying soldier by an embedded reporter was powerful and raised some interesting questions about how the permission rules surrounding such reporting, impact what the public ends up seeing.
3. And researchers believe they have found the oldest tea in Britain. (Spoiler: they did not drink it.)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

7 Things: Sing It On

I have watched the first two episodes of "Sing It On" and I adore it.  So, this follows five college a cappella groups as they compete in the ICCA's.  Most people when I say this, go, so like "Pitch Perfect", which yes.  Although college a cappella groups, even ones that are big into the competitive side, often do other things, performing at parties and events, and while so far there have been tiny glimpses of some of these things, the focus here is the competition which is fine. 
A couple of notes. 
1. If you don't like a cappella, or singing, well, not sure why you're still reading.  (Kidding, love you!) But nothing about this will turn the tide for you. 
2. These college folk have all clearly been briefed on the appropriate competitive reality jargon.  The one notable exception, is that they are all there to make friends, because everyone loves everyone in their a cappella team the mostest (except when they don't).
3. The second episode in particular leaned hard on the put-aca-in-front-of-a-word thing.  It's hard to say if they are being coached to do so, or if it's a natural evolution of a thing folks squarely in the "Pitch Perfect" target audience might have naturally started to do.  But, probably don't put that on your drinking game or anything, for safety's sake.
4.  While the rise of musical television has brought more singing to my TV, one of the things I like is seeing people rehearse and occasionally not sound great.  Or the difference in three soloists interpretations of a piece.  Or people rehearsing in a classroom or hallway that sounds like a classroom or hallway. 
5.  Different people process pre and post performance differently, and that's normal and valid (and honestly true of many other things). 
6. Two sets of the teams are at the same university (which is to say five teams representing three universities) which also offers a glimpse into some inter-group interaction.
7. There was an argument about a pitch pipe.  Seriously, these are my people. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Mad Max

I did not think I was the target audience for "Mad Max: Fury Road".  I have seen one possibly part of two of the prior Mad Max movies and while they are fine, I don't have any particular attachment to them.  I have reached a certain level of ennui with dystopians in general. While the actors seemed lovely for this, there was no one that tipped me into needing to see this.  The clips I had seen were not particularly intriguing.  And then, people I know, in real life and on the internet all went collectively cuckoo for it, saying that not only was it fun and something that made some men's rights people mad, it was actually, feminist.  And I can't even tell you what tipped me over, I don't see every feminist movie, I don't see every fun action movie, but suddenly I had tipped from a person who was happy this movie was out there in the ether, to a person who was going to see this movie.  Okay, I can't say for sure, but reading this post about Charlize Theron's amazing, and oh yeah, disabled character helped some.
If dystopians aren't for you, it is still dystopian.  I have paid little attention to whether this is supposed to be the same Mad Max or some other dude named Max* who also lives in this futuristic desert world, but in the end, I enjoyed it.  Not sure it bears multiple rewatches, but it was fun, things blew up, and there were females, toting guns, wielding chains, and generally acting like people.  There were guys too.  There's still more men in this movie than women.  There's still more white people in this movie than non-white.  And while I did do some tiny internal cheers at some choices they didn't make (all of which would have been boring, I'm a girl so rifles are heavy type choices) the fact that the characters in this movie all have, well, character actually says more about other action movies than it does about this one.  But it was fun.  If you want to watch stuff blow up while competent people try to reach their destination, this movie is a great choice.
*Later internet readings have indicated it is same dude. So, sure.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Three Interesting Things

1. Rookie interviewed an amazing teen who started an organization to support teens who lost a parent.
2. Carlyn Jewel had some thoughts on the important ways that social media fails women
3. And this may have already been across your social media, but the Hebrew Edition of why you shouldn't get a tattoo in a language you don't speak. (The dictionary one is my favorite.)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Gaithersburg Book Festival

I made my first trek to the Gaithersburg Book Festival this weekend and had a great time.  I got a later start than hoped, although the free shuttle they ran from the metro was nice and easy, so I missed most of the We Need Diverse Books crew.  But I buried my sadness in a delicious food truck veggie rice bowl. (Also, as a side note, I read the first few chapters of Aisha Saeed's Written in the Stars, and O M G.)
But I got to hear Gene Luen Yang speak.  He talked about many of the things he had at the National Book Fest, but really, the man has great thoughts about the cross cultural implications of comics, how it appeals to people who feel like outsiders, whether children of immigrants, or others.  He also talked about the rise of the nerd, how now you see "jocks" wearing Avengers t-shirts.  And, I happened to get a signed copy of The Shadow Hero (which made a wonderful read for the metro ride home). While in line I had a great chat with an enthusiastic middle school librarian.
I then listened to Phyllis Reynolds Naylor talk about wrapping up the Alice series.  She also talked about how her writing process has changed over the years. Then Ally Carter was introduced by two teen writers* who were both Gallagher Girls fans.  Ally talked about writing the Embassy Row series, and her journey to being a young adult writer.  She said her fans usually have lots of questions, and one in particular asked if she would do more crossovers.  (There is a novella containing a character from the Gallagher Girls and a character from Heist Society.) She said she enjoyed doing it, but it makes legal things like film rights tricky so she would have to be careful about that.
Kwame Alexander spoke about the process of setting up a book festival from scratch and how he had done that, and then, after not winning a fellowship, deciding to create his own, which led to a published picture book.  Then, at a children's book panel, a librarian asked him if he had ever thought about writing for older kids after he read some love poetry he had self-published earlier in his career.  He said yes (this was a theme, saying yes) and ended up writing The Crossover, which went through about eight different versions and was rejected 20 times, before finally being accepted for publication.  He read parts of it.  So great. 
And about then, the sky started to dim and it seemed like a good time to head back home.  (Wonderfully, I came out of the metro station in DC to text messages from friends letting me know that there was a storm warning.) 
Also, Montgomery Community Media put together a Storify of tweets from the festival (and yes, I am in there) which has tweets from the panels I missed, so you can experience it through tweets.

*They were likely doing this all along, I just happened to miss all the other intros and I made my way back and forth.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Three Interesting Things

1. I had watched the first episode of "8 Minutes" and then heard that there were some issues with the portrayals and well, the apparent lack of truthiness in the show, so, was glad to hear that A&E had decided to pull it
2. You know I love my ereader, but Justina Ireland has some thoughts about the dangers of all that choice and power in your hands.
3. This story uses Black Widow as an example of how anytime there's a dearth of stories about something, well, the stories there are get held to a different standard.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Unintended Subtext

I read a book a while back that I'm still figuring out how I feel about. I distinctly remember, even as a teen, having a discussion with a fellow student about how the descriptive sex scenes in one book we both enjoyed all involved fairly messed up power dynamics while the couples who were generally on even footing tended to get fade to black scenes. I bring this up not to tell you how brilliant a teen I was (although I kinda was) but more to say that I don't really subscribe to the theory that younger people are unable to discern issues in the presentation of a story or that stories aimed at younger people have a standard to uphold beyond providing the promised story. 
But.  But.  But.  This story focused on high schoolers, told through one viewpoint.  And yes, as both a writer and a reader, first person can be a challenge because that person is (or should) bring their lens, their frame to the story and while a skillful writer can do their best to convey that other characters are feeling differently than the point-of-view character believes, it's still a challenge.  Also, it is perfectly fine that sometimes book characters will believe wrong things and not, in the space of the story, have that wrong belief challenged.  However, as a reader, it sometimes makes me want to put little virtual post its on the story - great story even though every character in it is terrible about having safe sex.  Unless they are not in love.  So apparently love makes you forgo condoms, birth control pills, or any sense of concern that your partner might have contracted something from the person they are dating who is not you.  
What's frustrating to me is I really liked the writing, there were moments in the story that rang so true. But being unable to have frank discussions about the steps you and your partner may wish to take to prevent disease or pregnancy, or the decision that you are ready for pregnancy, is not a sign of love. 

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Three Interesting Things

1. This story talks about how some hospitals are using remote staffing to help provide patient care. 
2.  Sarah Dessen talks about the strange attention she received from an older guy when she was a teen. 
3. With the caveat that it is always easier to spot the missteps in one's medical mystery after it's been solved, Amy Tan's story of the long road to her Lyme disease diagnosis is a fascinating read.  I have a relative, who fortunately had Lyme that was caught much earlier, but it's a scary disease with potentially lingering effects. 

Monday, May 04, 2015

Maryland Sheep and Wool 2015

A group of us headed up to Maryland Sheep and Wool on Saturday. I have thoughts about Saturday visits to the Festival. (The crazy people go on Saturday.  Sunday is so much more calm.  But one of our group had to head out of town Sunday, so Saturday it was.)  We arrived about lunchish and did not go straight for food, figuring everyone else would do that and, well, I can't imagine ever going Saturday again but I need to eat sooner or pack more snacks if I'm going to do that. Everything took longer on Saturday (seriously, in the same amount of time were were there Saturday I can usually, hit all my favorite booths, and check in on some others we wander past, get food, and find a nice spot on the grass to enjoy the weather and knit.)  It was mostly just the numbers game, because more people come on Saturday, you have to park in the overflow (If you are not there as it opens, which no) and so it took longer to get to the festival, and then there are more people milling about and while we missed most of the really crazy lines there were simply more people to navigate past and around everywhere we went.
Now don't get me wrong, it was still totally worth it and a lovely visit, and since we got there in the pm side, none of the lines were outrageous.  I came home with a wee bit more than I had planned, but I regret nothing.  It is all squishy and lovely and I want to knit it all now.  Also, saw quite a few new vendors this year, including Buffalo Wool (who I am used to visiting at the Holiday Market, so seeing them here in May was fun). 
And it was a day spent with people who understood the squishing and the petting of things sheepy (or buffalo, or cotton, or yak).