Category: Philosophy

Sparking Joy – Suggestions for Decompression

Today is the last day to register to vote in Massachusetts. Are you registered? Up to date? Good!
With an important mid-term election looming, and the news cycle, well, all the time really, but particularly in the last few months, many folks I know and particularly folks who identify as women have been feeling pretty stressed out of late. The Kavanaugh hearings were difficult for a lot of folks and the results were even more so. It’s important to allow ourselves to feel those feelings and, if possible, use them constructively. But sometimes you just need to take a break and feel some positivity. Here are a few things that have been working for me, lately.

Tussetroll and Tingeling: Fun fact, I am not particularly an animal person. I’m not afraid of them – I’m just…not that interested. However, once in a while there comes a pet Instagram that I can’t help but fall for, and this is the latest. The animals I like have a lot of personality and are usually a little different from the norm, and huge, flat-faced Persian Tussetrolle and his pitch-black, Scottish Fold flat-eared sister Tingeling hit all of the right notes for me.

The Little House, ready for Honk!


Little Allejandro: Another Instagram feed, but this one’s closer to home. The Giant Party should have made it obvious that I am in love with tiny things. I also really love inanimate objects having grand adventures – it’s a little bit of magic in a world that is often far too mundane. Little Allejandro is a doll who lives in a house quite nearby to my own – and the house has a little dollhouse BUILT INTO THE FRONT OF IT. Child-Me would have been obsessed with it – and frankly, adult me is, too. The homeowners change up the scenery of the dollhouse frequently to match the seasons, holidays, and events in the neighborhood, but they also run this Instagram feed for their most iconic resident, Little Allejandro. He accompanies them on trips and occasionally runs into trouble. It’s a brilliant, soothing bit of everyday magic.

Vanilla Ice Cream with Fancy Sprinkles!


Making Ice Cream: I’d never suggest eating your feelings, per se, but this summer I finally broke down and bought my own ice cream freezer and I’m having a lot of fun figuring out how to get the most out of it. So far I’ve mostly made very traditional, custard-based ice creams, largely inspired by http://bravetart.com/, but there’s a whole world of sorbet, ice milk, and other delights waiting to be explored.

Hilda: I don’t want to step on the toes of any other Ladies who might want to do a more comprehensive review of this Netflix gem, but if you’re looking for something comforting to watch, you couldn’t do better than Hilda. Based on the popular graphic novels by Luke Pearson, Hilda is the story of a little Scandinavian girl who has adventures meeting the magical creatures who live in the woods and city around her. The animation is beautiful, the voice acting is top-notch, and the whole show is like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket with a cup of cocoa. (Hilda herself is voiced by Bella Ramsey, better known as the amazing, scene-stealing Lyanna Mormont on Game of Thrones.)

Work with the Rage: Finally, sometimes you just have acknowledge your anger to let it go. The Believer published this excellent long read by Megan Stielstra about women’s rage and why we have so much trouble acknowledging and processing it. She’s been dealing with her own anger in part by throwing axes, which you can now do here in the Boston area, if that appeals. However, you can also use those strong feelings to make a donation or volunteer for a nonprofit in your area (here’s my personal favorite), campaign for a politician or cause you believe in, or start a Meetup for folks to come together to share other ideas for engagement, learn more about candidates, or just talk about how they’re feeling.

So that’s how I’m dealing with my anxiety about November 6th. ON November 6th, of course, I’m going to do the only thing I can do – I’m going to vote! What are all of you doing to deal with your hopes and fears? Tell me all about it in the comments.

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Why Can’t We See Normal Looking Female Super Heroes in Comic Books: A Dad’s Perspective

New She-Hulk. All rights Marvel Comics.

This post is written by a member of our community, Avram Baskin. All opinion expressed are the author’s own.

The other day while I was visiting my local comic book store I picked up a copy of Marvel Universe 1. The cover of the magazine is what will be the cover art for the rebooted Avengers #1.

The depiction of She-Hulk reminded me of drawings of female super heroes in the broke-back pose — an anatomically impossible pose that shows off the characters (usually) large breasts and butt at the same time. The connection is “anatomically impossible”.

Well, in the interest of accuracy, women can look like that drawing, but only after continuous use of steroids and breast-enlargement surgery. With a little research I came up with the name Natalia Trukhina. She’s a pretty close approximation of that picture of She-Hulk. She also freely admits that she couldn’t look that way without steroids.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully support the first amendment and artistic freedom and I have no problem with women pursuing whatever athletic interest they find fulfilling. That’s especially true because I’m the dad of a 14 year old daughter. But because I have a fourteen year old daughter, I’m aware of the implications of body shaming and the various ways that our culture objectifies and demeans women. There is a difference between a woman choosing to dedicate herself to an athletic goal and a male artist deciding to depict a female character with the combination of an impossibly muscular physique and exaggerated breasts. One is liberating, the other is demeaning.

How do I think female super heroes should look? They should look like normal women who happen to have powers, super or otherwise — like the female super heroes in the movies and on television. I’m especially thinking about that with Black Panther in mind. It’s rightfully lauded for it’s depiction of it’s primarily African-American cast. But it is also iconic because it features five strong female characters — role models for girls of any race.

I think it’s ironic that in the wake of that Marvel movie we get this drawing of She-Hulk, which doesn’t serve any purpose I can see, other than to objectify the character for the purpose of fulfilling someone’s weird masturbation fantasy. Instead of trying to titillate a real or imagined male demographic, comic books should be providing positive and realistic looking images of women that young women like my daughter can identify with.

Avram Baskin

What Women Want – is Action Movies.

Recently, I came across an article on Women and Hollywood regarding a survey Fandango did that looked at women’s movie-going habits. Women have often been an untapped market in both movies and comics. “The industry” often claims it knows what sells to which market, namely action movies for boys and romantic comedies for girls. This data thankfully pokes holes in that theory.

Some data highlights:

  • The majority of women surveyed chose action movies (with 22% of the vote) as their favorite movie genre, while only 9% chose romance or romantic comedy as their favorite genre.
  • 82% are more inclined to see a movie with dynamic female characters.
  • 75% prefer to watch movies with diverse casts
  • 77% contend that female characters are often stereotyped in blockbusters.
  • 75% would like to see more female ensembles in the movies.
  • 62% feel that women are not equally represented in big screen roles.

This survey highlights some of what we ladies have known all along. We love action movies or a good Hollywood blockbuster. We also want more of them with diverse casts, especially female-led ones. We want to be able to see ourselves in these female characters. That means well-developed characters, complete with flaws, who are not fridged or victimized. Bonus points for not filtering that character though the male gaze.

The recent success of movies like Wonder Woman and Black Panther hopefully drives home the points from this survey as movie-goers vote with their feet and wallets. There have also been earlier films that paved the way and gave action movie loving women something either enjoy and inspiration to future film makers.  I’ve always loved these types of movies, so here are some of my favorites.

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Issues on Issues

The beautiful slide featuring Lobo and Oracle.

In recent years, there’s been a lot of talk saying that the comics industry has shifted to making social justice a priority in its storytelling, and that “social justice warriors” are ruining comics by pressuring the industry into representing these issues.

Modern comics on social issues.

What these folks fail to realize is that telling stories about current events and the changes we’re going through as a society has always been a part of comics – as a dated periodical, comic books are necessarily a product and reflection of the times in which they were created.

Northstar’s wedding.

The earliest days of American comics coincided with the rise of Hitler and the beginnings of World War II, and the heroes of that era and the adventures they had are entirely reflective of that. When the war ended and the economy boomed, the stories became lighter and more imaginative. The 60’s and 70’s brought women’s liberation, the civil rights movement, and a growing sense of eco-consciousness, and characters like Diana Prince, Black Panther, and R’as al Ghul appeared in stories with those themes.

Groovy Diana Prince.

Recently, we worked with our friends at Comicazi to present examples of how comics have represented social attitudes and values, as well as how they’ve changed over the years. Called “Issues on Issues,” it was part museum-style exhibit, with comics from the golden, silver, and bronze ages on display, and part comic salon – an opportunity to discuss the books and their topics with others. Attendees were asked to consider – whose story is being told? Who is telling that story? And how would we tell it today?

Some of the more dubious choices creators made.

Comics aren’t necessarily promoting a particular answer to social problems in America, but like all art, they reveal the hopes, fears, and dreams of the times in which they’re created. The comics displayed here are examples of how these themes have been portrayed in the medium throughout its history. Some of the books we displayed at the event have had a lasting impact, while others clearly missed the mark, or represent views we no longer ascribe to as a society. Still, others were misses in their first incarnations, but have changed and adapted from their well-intentioned but clumsy characters into nuanced, well-thought-out characters. As more people with different gender, cultural, ethnic, sexual, and religious identities are writing and drawing the stories we read, the perspectives and ideas being shown become more diverse and authentic. While this seems to dismay a small, vocal minority of fans, it’s also opening doors for new readers to fall in love with comics for the first time.

Women can be characters, too.

40 things I learned by 40

If you have been reading along you know that we have been focusing on love this month….not necessarily romantic love, but rather those things you might be a little embarrassed to love, and well, love filtered through the eyes of some dinosaurs. This month I am going to tackle what is probably the most difficult type of love. Loving yourself.

Two of the ladies hit big birthdays this year, and hitting a big birthday can trigger a desire for introspection. You’ve made it this far, so what did you learn? What would you tell 20-year-old you? This, plus, have any of you seen this Vogue list? Frankly, I barely got through the thing. It’s astounding in its lack of relevance and practicality. But it did inspire me to , as our Honorary Lady Gary says, turn inward, and take a look back at what I did right, what I did wrong, and what stuff makes me realize that yeah, maybe I’m doing all right.

Your mileage to this list will vary, you might think it’s terrible, or just as irrelevant, but I hope it inspires you to make a list of your own so you can take stock of what you learned, how you have grown, and what a long way you’ve come baby.

Tiny Doom’s 40 things I learned by 40

  1. Don’t listen to your High School Guidance Counselor
  2. It’s ok not to want kids
  3. You are just as valid if you are a mother of pets, plants, other humans, dragons, or nothing
  4. Be reliable
  5. Be capable
  6. Be open to compromise
  7. It’s never a good idea to idolize someone, everyone is human
  8. Know what colors look good on you and wear those
  9. If you want a tattoo, get a tattoo
  10. Do your research
  11. It’s ok to be a little weird at work so long as you can back it up with #’s 4 and 5
  12. Friendships drift and that’s ok
  13. Pay your bills on time
  14. You can adapt to almost anything so don’t be so afraid of change
  15. Put stuff in your Amazon shopping cart and then give it 24 hours before you hit buy
  16. Look forward, not back
  17. Avoid self-help books
  18. When it comes to skin care most expensive stuff isn’t always the best stuff
  19. It’s ok to drink most of your liquid in tea form
  20. Eat your vegetables
  21. Scarves really do keep you warm
  22. Take care of your feet! I cannot stress this enough
  23. You don’t have to smile when someone tells you to
  24. Always act like you are supposed to be there-it’s ok to fake it
  25. Watch all the crap movies and TV you want
  26. Say no
  27. Red lipstick
  28. It’s not bullshit that doing nice things for other people can make you feel better
  29. Bring your lunch to work as much as you can
  30. Make a family that’s not related to you by blood
  31. Mittens are better than gloves
  32. Just do the thing, you’ll feel better when it’s done
  33. Walk there when you can
  34. There is a certain joy in day drinking (as long as you don’t make it a habit)
  35. Don’t be afraid of new technology
  36. Always keep your own bank account no matter how in love you are
  37. Try to travel if you can
  38. Learn to make things-food, socks, plans
  39. If people make you feel bad about yourself, don’t hang out with them
  40. Never turn down a piece of pie

Ok, if anyone else feels like taking on a list, I would love to see it.

Advice for the Lovelorn – Raptor Style

Happy Valentine’s Day, Ladies fans! In honor of the holiday, we’re bringing you a very special Fashion Raptors column. You see, our friend and Honorary Lady Gary had this blog years ago where he talked about some of his collectibles. His great passion is for Bobby Orr paraphernalia, but he’s no slouch at comic collection, either. A subset of that collection is romance comics – those treasured tales of the 60s and 70’s. Part of these books involved advice columns – the mostly teen, mostly girl readers could write in and lay out their romantic and other dilemmas for the book’s agony aunt to solve. Gary shared a few of these, and we thought that, beyond the historical interest, there was an opportunity here for the Fashion Raptors to weigh in with their own take on the questions. So here it is, the Fashion Raptors’ advice to the lovelorn, next to the originals. Enjoy!

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Beating the Winter Blues: LOC-style

Wow, just wow. No matter how tough we New Englanders are, our insane winters always find a way to surprise and challenge us. This winter has already proven to be no exception. So, the question on my mind is: Is there a way to actually enjoy the winter as opposed to just surviving it?

In the interest of sharing more than just my methods, I reached out to my fellow ladies to get some of their ways of beating the winter blues. They should be following up during their weeks.

Disclaimer: I feel that it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t take a moment to acknowledge that both depression and seasonal depression are very real things. The methods we discuss here are meant to be fun and might be helpful to some, but are by no means designed to replace a doctor’s or therapist’s guidance.

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Movies and Books to Look Forward to in 2018

The new year has arrived, bringing with it the usual vows of self-improvement, opportunity for fresh starts, and hope that the coming twelve months will be better than the previous. It’s a traditional time for optimism.

Unfortunately, New Year’s Day 2018 doesn’t find me full of anticipation for the new year. Aside from the bigger problems of the world that haven’t disappeared with the 2017 calendars, my husband and I are both sick. We’re also still recovering from the emotional drain of the holidays. And temperatures aren’t venturing above 30 degrees. Don’t get me wrong; my life is good and I’m still grateful for what I do have.

Still, it can be tough to find enthusiasm for the new year when I’m more inclined to curl up in a blanket with my dogs to stay warm. However, I’d like to feel that sense of a fresh start and anticipating the new. So I am focusing on something I am definitely looking forward to in 2018. I’ve asked the other Ladies what they are looking forward to as well so click through to find out what we can’t wait for. Continue reading

Conversation Helper: What Superpower Would You Want?

Felix Felicis- copyright J.K Rowling

So, I am guessing we all survived Thanksgiving? Perhaps a little over-indulging occurred, but hopefully we all had a generally nice time? That said, as we look down the barrel to the December holidays, it’s a reminder that one of the more stressful parts of the holidays can be getting folks with different political leanings together and having them share a prolonged meal or gathering. You can only talk about how good the yams were for so long (I made the yams and they were good). It’s never a bad idea to have a stash of safe conversational topics that you can use when talk starts to shift from “crazy weather we’re having” to “here are my thoughts about climate change.” There are still a lot of potential gatherings to get through, so perhaps consider a discussion on what super power you would like to have.

 

That hair though. (Longshot- Copyright Marvel)

I know the usual question about powers is flight or invisibility. And while that can spark an interesting conversation as well as give you a look into your companions’ inner psyche, neither of those powers really appeal to me. I’m not a risk taker nor do I really care about sneaking around places.  My fave superpower and the one I would want is the power to manipulate probability. There are several representations of this power out there, and many genre shows do an episode featuring a “luck” power. Some examples of this power are Longshot (Marvel Comics), Domino (Marvel Comics) Luck Virus (Red Dwarf), Felix Felicis (Harry Potter), Lucky Rabbit’s Foot (Supernatural).

I’ll be the first to admit on that if you were to look at this choice on a deeper level, this is the power a control freak would want. The ability to have incidents of chance come out the way you want them, for better or for worse? Yeah, that’s one of those abilities that has a good chance of turning the user into a super villain, fast. That’s why much of the time this power has a shadow side or time limit. For example, Longshot’s ability to use his probability powers is tied to positive usage. Should he use his powers to hurt people or with ill intent, it reverses and has a negative effect on him. Or in Supernatural, once the user loses the lucky rabbit’s foot, her luck turns bad to such a degree that it usually results in imminent death.

The Flash- copyright CW

As much as I love this power I was disappointed in its recent portrayal in The Flash episode Luck be a Lady. At one point Barry gets stuck in his own power-negating handcuffs asking “how did this even happen?!” Indeed. There has to be some reasonable probability of a thing happening in the first place in order for the portrayal of this power to be effective, believable, and fun. In another scene, while being an unloaded from a truck, a barrel of marbles is dropped, spilling marbles all over the street…the street that The Flash is running down. Maybe this was some kind of homage to Home Alone but if you find yourself asking, why does a barrel of marbles even exist, then I’m not sure the writers are working with probability, so much as a series of unrelated bummers.

So, what power would you want? If you aren’t sure, start thinking now so that next time someone shows up for dinner in a MAGA hat, you will be armed with the ability to avoid the impending screaming match, which is perhaps a super power in itself.

PS- Our once a year snowglobe workshop is in a few days. Get your tickets now!

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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