3 Spooky Podcasts

If I know anything about our readers, it’s that as soon Labor Day has passed and a slight chill hits the air, it’s time to get ready for Halloween. Suddenly your Netflix queue is filled with scary movies, your house is covered in fake cobwebs and real animal skulls, and all you want to do is suck the marrow out of this all too short season as much as possible.

Well friends, let me add to your current atmospheric choices by suggesting a few things that are a bit unnerving and creepy to keep you company during your darkening commute and warm mugs of pumpkin-spiced drinks.

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Image: Snap Judgement and WNYC Studios

Spooked – What I love about this podcast of true-life supernatural experiences is that each experience is told by the person who experienced it. The variety of voices is engaging and the fear in their voices rings genuine. Regardless of whether you believe in curses, hauntings, or the like, these stories are fascinating.

Suggested episode: This podcast is barely 2 months old, but my favorite episode so far is “The Curse.” A man tells the story of how his mother was cursed. It’s not only creepy to think of the powers some people claim to have over others, but it’s also heartbreaking to hear the story of a small child who believed he was witnessing the death of his mother.

 

 

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Image: https://www.nocturnepodcast.org/about-nocturne/

 

Nocturne – Less about ghost stories and more about all the things that happen in the world while most of us are asleep. The stories range from being lost in the inky blackness of the ocean to big rig night runs, but regardless of the content, each episode illustrates how nighttime experiences are unique and intriguing.  If you want a podcast that is filled with ambiance and is perfect for listening to while drinking tea and watching the sunset, this might be a perfect match for you.

Suggested episode: “Episode 16 – Standing Over the Bed” tells the story of a man who suffered from night terrors and paralysis so brutal that they not only threatened his grasp on reality but also caused him to question his relationships with his loved ones. This episode disturbingly graphic as it describes how sleep can become your enemy.

 

 

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Image: https://player.fm/series/stuff-they-dont-want-you-to-know-1659658

 

Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know – I know there are an awful lot of “How Stuff Works” podcasts out there, but if you really want to stay up at night worrying about things you can’t control, then this might be the podcast for you. I mean, I’m personally not much for conspiracy theories, and with the world as it is right now, I’m not even sure why I have this on my list. I suppose I just want to be sure I’m covering enough ground to creep everyone out. The episodes range from the silly (The Search for Bigfoot) to the timely (how vulnerable is your personal information online).

Suggested Episode: “The Sick, Sweet Secret of the Sugar Cover-up” I personally find the things that have a direct effect on my life to be the most worrying and upsetting. This podcast covers the history of sugar and how it was deliberately sold as an essential part of our diets by powerful lobbies/trade groups and backed by a lot of money. Sugar is in so much of what we eat that it’s interesting (and important for some of us) to make sure we are aware of how free sugars can affect our health.

What creepy or spooky podcasts are in your playlist? Share below to make sure that none of us get any sleep this season!

 

 

 

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Nevermind Pennywise, Let’s Talk About Beverly

Photo Credit: moviepilot.com

Here be spoilers for Stephen King’s IT (movie, mini-series, and book), proceed with caution if this is a thing you care about. 

 

When evil wakes up in Derry, Maine, a group of marginalized kids come together to form a bond and take on the monster. Given their social status, the kids call themselves Losers Club. Beverly Marsh is the only female member of the Losers Club (the group that takes on It/Pennywise) and one of the most complicated in terms of what role the character plays.

If you have read the book, you know there is a scene that takes place in the sewers with the Losers Club where Beverly must have sex with all the boys to further bond the group or usher the boys into manhood or some other such bullshit. I’m not going to get to into that scene but I will say that cutting that scene out of the movie is the absolute right choice. So how was Beverly handled in the most recent movie?

First off, Sophia Lillis, the actress who plays Beverly, was incredible. She does her best to play Beverly as strong, independent, caring, and a leader. And for the most part, this comes through, making Beverly more than a love interest for the boys in the group. While I was disappointed that the slingshot scene, where Beverly emerged as the most capable with a slingshot, was not in this most recent movie, I was pretty happy with Beverly’s portrayal and felt it was a step up from both the book and the mini-series. That is until the final act of the movie. But we’ll get to that in a second.

photo credit: Stephen King wiki

All of the Losers are isolated from their parents. But in the case of Beverly, she is the most vulnerable and the most at risk. When It shows the Losers all their worst fears, Beverly’s is a bathroom covered in blood. Given that we have seen Beverly buying tampons in the previous scene, it’s an obvious reference to the horrors and fears of puberty and being a teenage girl.  However, once you see the way Beverly’s father acts towards her, this fear takes on a much more sinister edge in terms of Beverly being a victim of sexual assault at the hands of a parent. For Beverly, the monsters are not limited to the supernatural, and now that she has had her period, the repercussions of perceived womanhood are even more terrifying. Because of this struggle she is perhaps the bravest of the Losers, and the one manages to hurt Pennywise first.

photo credit: popsugar.com

Beverly is the one who vanquishes her personal monster, fighting back against her father and ultimately killing him, freeing her from his abuse. However, when Pennywise takes her to the sewers she is suddenly reduced to a plot device for the male characters. She isn’t fridged, but she is reduced to becoming a damsel in distress. After vanquishing her own demons, Beverly becomes a tool to help the male lead, Bill, confront his fear. Beverly is put into a trance and this motivates Bill to head to the sewers to confront Pennywise. Additionally, Beverly is literally awakened from the trance with a kiss, by another male character, Ben. It should be noted that while Ben is interested in Beverley and sends her poetry, it’s Bill and Beverly who have the burgeoning relationship. Besides being super lazy writing, having a character who has faced sexual abuse be saved by a non-consensual kiss is cringe-worthy at best; a complete erasure of Beverly’s control of her own sexuality at worst.

There is still a second chapter of IT to come. We will see the Losers Club return to Derry as adults to once again face It. It will be particularly interesting how Beverly will be handled as an adult but I can only hope that she is once again given agency and individuality, and not just used as the 3rd point in a rekindled love triangle.

Henchgirl Review

Back in July, Smalerie shared a recipe for a hamburger. What it lacked in deliciousness it made up for in creativity and in its physical resemblance to the product that inspired it – the Cthulhu burger in Kristen Gudsnuk’s Henchgirl. At the time, she mentioned she wasn’t going to review the book; the focus of the post was the horrifying delicacy she’d created. Since then, we’ve discussed the book at Comicazi Book Club, and hosted Kristen as one of our guests of honor at LadiesCon.

Kristen at LadiesCon 2017.

So it seems like a good time to review the book and let you know that if you haven’t jumped on this bandwagon, you should.

Henchgirl is the story of Mary Posa, a somewhat aimless twenty-something. She’s a pretty typical young adult on the surface – she lives with roommates, has a bit of insecurity about her looks, and is stuck in a job that she’s not sure her heart is really into. On the other hand, one of her roommates has started manifesting weird powers, her sister is one of the hottest up and coming superheroes, and her dead-end job is working as a goon for Monsieur Butterfly, a supervillain. Even Scott Pilgrim’s life wasn’t quite this weird and complicated.

One of the real strengths of Henchgirl is that it handles some pretty heavy themes – identity, parental expectations, and free will – with a playful sense of humor. There are background jokes aplenty, as the Cthulhu burger attests. Mary’s roommate Tina develops a strange power that is at once humorous, disturbing, and ultimately world-threatening. There’s a scene where Mary is delighted to be mistaken for someone named Consuelo…until she realizes the person in question shares a name with her grandmother. Even some of the very darkest moments, such as this world’s mightiest hero and Superman analog, Mr. Great Guy, losing his beloved in a tragic accident, have humorous results.

This approach can be cynical and overdone (I’m looking at you, Garth Ennis’ The Boys), but in Gudsnuk’s hands it never teeters over that line. Instead, the humor serves as both a relief from the potential angst and also serves to underscore how deeply weird it is to be human, especially a young adult. Your problems in your twenties certainly feel momentous and world-ending – Gudsnuk just makes that literal for poor Mary. One of my favorite running gags is Mary’s fervent desire to be a taxpayer – a symbol of a “normal” life.

The other thing I love about this book is its unapologetic girlyness. A major plot point revolves around a magical girl in the style of Sailor Moon, Lovely Celestial Angel Amelia. Mary herself has a fondness for pink glitter, and of course, she works for a supervillain whose shtick is butterflies. Mary’s doesn’t worry about being tough or hard – she just does her job and if she can look good while doing it, she will. At the same time, no one in the cast is limited by their gender roles. Men love butterflies and women heft heavy objects with ease, and it’s never a big deal – it’s just how things are.

So, if you’re looking to read a complete story about the pains of growing up, complete with family drama, romance, and carrots, pick up Henchgirl. If you’ve already read it, tell me what you thought in the comments!

My favorite character. Explaining this artwork would only spoil it.

LadiesCon 2017: Recap and Revelry

I once had a teacher in grade school who told me that she loved to read my essays because she could tell that I was enthusiastic about learning and the subjects I would choose to write about. There was just one problem though. If everything I wrote about was “the absolute worst” or the “absolute best” that wasn’t going to give me a lot of space or freedom to really make careful and thoughtful comparisons. So why is this little anecdote important to my recap of LadiesCon 2017? Because I’m about to throw that advice out the window and use superlatives like crazy. Wanna know why? Because LadiesCon 2017 was THE. ABSOLUTE. BEST.

For those of you familiar with our event last year, the first LadiesCon was essentially a testing ground to see if our vision of an inclusive Con would even be something that the community wanted to see. In a donated office space, we managed to catch lightning in a bottle and learned just how dedicated the Boston comics community was to making an event that was for everyone.

This year, we took that to a whole new level. We tripled the number of panels and doubled our space, guests, and vendors. We reached out to artists and creators who were making things that were original, beautiful, and even a little terrifying. The response from the community was once again warm and enthusiastic, and together we created a colorful and vibrant Con.

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And again this year we were able to focus on what sets LadiesCon apart from other cons – creating an environment of inclusion and having a great time while at it. Thanks to our sponsors and fundraising over the last year, LadiesCon remained free to the public ensuring the event was affordable for everyone.

I could spend this entire post going on and on about what a fun day this was. And how happy-tired we all were by the end of the night. But I have this feeling that some of you are here for the pics. So here we go!

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If you want to see more about the Con and programming we offered, feel free to check out the LadiesCon website. This is also where we’re going to start posting info for next year’s event.

If you want to continue to support any of our vendors or artists, check out our Vendors page. Many have online shops and schedules of other events they attend throughout the year.

Lastly and certainly not least I want to just thank everyone who was involved this year. There would be no LadiesCon without you and we are thankful every day to know you and have your support.

 

Let’s Get Ready for LadiesCon 2017!

 

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LadiesCon 2017 is just days away and we hope you’re as excited as we are for our second ever convention celebrating women of kinds in comics and pop culture. Although you can just walk on in on Saturday and start looking around, there are a few things you can do to prepare for LadiesCon to help make you experience even better. Continue reading

Netflix Review: Marvel’s Defenders

Warning: Possible spoilers

Welp, it’s been a long time coming. Back from when we all were like “Whoa” when the first Daredevil series came out, to when we were like “Ugh” at what went down with Danny Rand, the Defenders is now on Netflix.

Coming down off Iron Fist, I feel like Defenders could only go up. And it did, starting with the open credits, which remind us that the city is actually the main character here. And it’s more than Cap just calling back to being from Brooklyn every chance he gets, the boroughs of NY are more than a setting, they are the uniting factor for the team. As metaphors go it has the subtlety of a jack hammer, but that’s ok, I’m not really watching this for subtlety.

Defenders isn’t perfect, and I did wish there was more, but for the most part what Marvel does well is bringing together the huge cast of characters they have been building towards. It’s not just about the title characters, but also all those supporting folks. Almost all of them are there (though I do wish there was more Marci), even if some character appearances feel like checking a box. That said I’m not going to complain about one moment of Sigourney Weaver’s (and her outfits) screen time, so yes, sacrifices need to be made.

The main storyline focuses on The Hand, immortal clan leaders, and dragon skeletons, so this gives Matt Murdock and Danny Rand an easier entry into the main story line, while Luke and Jessica remain a bit more street level chasing down tendrils that show how larger schemes affect everyday people. This is really the heart of Defenders and having Jessica remain a 5-star general of snark gives you a touchstone back to what the regular folk might be thinking.

Some additional thoughts:

Claire Temple. She is the voice of reason and a pragmatist in a world with super strength, glowing fists, and bullet proof skin. She’s also the catalyst, the center spoke who brings everyone together. While her appearances in earlier episodes start strong, as the series continues she and Colleen are marginalized to emotional back-up for Luke and Danny.  NOT COOL.

Luke Cage has the patience of a saint. He finally calls Danny out on his privilege, asking him what he did before he became the Iron Fist, has he really earned what he thinks he’s owed? And maybe that’s what will salvage this version of Iron Fist, giving him counterbalance. And remarkably, Danny seems to welcome this. Sometimes boundaries are good, so let’s hope Luke continues to play that role because when the series starts one of the biggest disappointments is that Danny Rand hasn’t grown at all. He still thinks everything is about him, and for some reason, Colleen is still with him. WHY??? And she even makes excuses for him when he finally does turn inward to examine what Luke says. WHAT???

By episode 3 we see the 4 heroes come together in what is now a ubiquitous hallway fight scene. I love this and I don’t care if they do one in every series. There are also some nice Power Man and Iron Fist feels.

Black Sky (or as I called it, Dark Afternoon) made Elektra more palatable for me. Previously I didn’t find her overly interesting, but this incarnation of her seemed to have more dimension.

Unlike Claire and Colleen, Misty Knight’s story progressed in some really big and important ways. She has a new look and will soon have a new arm. Will we see Control? God, I hope so.

Despite my earlier griping, this story is still about Danny Rand. He’s like the Key Master or something, and while the character is better in this series, he’s still the least compelling. Except for one moment…..that dumpling scene in the restaurant. Danny finally abandons all his super hero drama and just wants to stuff his face the instant some dumplings show up. I have never felt closer to the character than in that moment.

In this moment Danny Rand is my spirit animal. Photo Credit: Netflix

The next Netflix series is The Punisher, and while it’s in this universe, it’s not super closely tied to the Defenders. I think what I am looking the most forward to is right now is the next Jessica Jones season. David Tennant is still involved so what’s not to look forward to?

3 Manga Titles The Red Menace Recommends

In my last post, I mentioned that there were some manga I was excited to share with you all. Since nothing else took my attention this time around, let’s talk about them.

I should note that I haven’t yet read a lot of manga – I really enjoyed Ranma 1/2 when I was just getting into comics, but that was nearly 25 years ago, when the selection of good translations in America weren’t as plentiful as they are now. Additionally, there are SO many manga, in every genre you can imagine. Separating the wheat from the chaff, or even just what stories might be interesting to you in particular, can be a daunting task. Luckily, there are folks out there who can help. Comicazi has a manga book club – I learned about one of these titles from their list. Another I learned about from my pal Morgana, who is the manga maven at Comicopia, a store with a great selection of manga. The last was given to me by my husband, who thought it just looked up my alley. So here are my three picks – don’t be afraid to ask your local shop for other suggestions!
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Review: The Secret Loves of Geek Girls

Guys, I’m sure you’re tired of hearing us say this over and over again, but LadiesCon is getting closer by the moment. While I can’t speak for the other Ladies, I can say without a doubt that I’m feeling both VERY excited and VERY tired. Putting together this event is a constant adventure so I’ve been making a point to find time to relax, recharge my batteries, and seek out other lady-led geeky projects for both motivation and inspiration.

My latest attempt at “Chicken Soup for the Geek Girl Soul” was getting my hands on The Secret Lives of Geek Girls. Kick-starter funded and featuring over 50 writers and artists, this non-fiction anthology contains short stories and comics about love, being a girl, and being a geek. So um yeah, pretty much what the title promised.

 

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Image: Dark Horse

 

The Good

Just one look at the list of writers and contributors and I knew I needed to own this book. Not only does it include LadiesCon guest Kristen Gudsnuk, but it pretty much goes on to read as a dream guest list for future Cons..or maybe as a list of guests for the world’s greatest cocktail party.

Many of the stories are well-written, relatable, and at times powerful. My favorites included Marjorie Liu’s haunting story about lost memories and dreams and Katie West’s story that cleverly compares the end of a marriage to surviving the apocalypse.

At its best, you can see yourself reflected in the pages of this compilation. While reading, I found myself feeling odd nostalgic pangs for when I first discovered some of my favorite fandoms and swooned over their adventures. Of when I would stay up late watching Red Dwarf on PBS and dream about meeting someone who would think my ability to quote Invader Zim on command was one of my best qualities. Corny, yes, but that’s the point. These stories run the gamut and cover not only the process of love, but how our own love of “geekdom” can make us who we are and help find who we want to be. To me, that’s the good stuff.

The Bad

The trouble with all anthologies is that they can be uneven. Not every story is a home-run and not every story spoke to me. There were times when I just didn’t love the style or tone. There were even times when I wasn’t sure what the point was, especially if there were a lot of references to fandoms that I’m not familiar with. At worst, there were certain stories that felt too cute or trite, just another meet-cute starring characters who happen to be geeks. Meh. Time to move on to the next one.

The Verdict

Back in July another Kickstarter was launched for The Secret Loves of Geek Girls Redux – a more compact follow-up to the original book. If history repeats itself, there is a good chance the book will be picked up by Dark Horse for another wider release. Assuming that’s the case, I will be there throwing my money in its direction.

The Secret Loves of Geek Girls is a fun book with a great message. It’s also a great way to support female and feminist creators who are producing some very high-quality work. Who knows, your new favorite might be waiting to be discovered among these pages. At the very least, it might be nice to know that you’re not the only who fell in love while gaming or used stories to help you made sense of the complexities of growing up. Really, many of us have been there, so why not spend some time with your kindred spirits?

 

 

 

The Panels of LadiesCon 2017

As you saw in last week’s post, we’re all super excited about everything we have planned for you at LadiesCon 2017. Our panels at the last LadiesCon were very popular and this year’s panels promise to be bigger and better than ever. And thanks to our new location at the Armory, you can check them out in the very same building as the vendor floor.

Want a preview of a few of the panels we’re presenting? Read on!

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