Category: Things To Love

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

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Netflix Hidden Gem: April and the Extraordinary World

The weather has turned cold and many of us are preparing for the long winter – filled with hot cups of tea, ill-fated attempts to wear 6 sweaters at once, and spending snowy evenings with your dear friend, Netflix.

And that’s where I come in. I’m a firm believer that Netflix time should be quality time. Until their algorithm improves, I’m hoping to spare you some time searching through their catalog and point you right towards the good stuff. So in this edition of Netflix Hidden Gems, I present you with April and the Extraordinary World.

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Looking Back at Mr. Hooper

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Brought to you by the letters J and M, the number 5, and the fact that life isn’t fair. (Source: Muppet Wiki)

It’s been over thirty years since one of Sesame Street‘s most memorable episodes: the one that deals with the death of Mr. Hooper. For children of the early 80s, it’s a generational touchstone, something nearly everyone has a personal memory of. But decades later, there are generations who know little to nothing about Mr. Hooper. Even people who did see the episode may not remember much about it or anything else about Mr. Hooper. So today, we’re looking back at Mr. Hooper, the actor who portrayed him, and the episode that came from the passing of both. Continue reading

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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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.

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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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5 Fun Facts about LadiesCon

Word is out and LadiesCon 2017 (or as I like to call it LadiesCon II: The Revenge of LadiesCon) is coming at you on Saturday, September 16th. The guest announcements have begun and our social media is buzzing with excitement. In the case that you’re itching for even more info about the Con, here’s a little something to help tide you over – 5 Fun Facts About LadiesCon.

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1) LadiesCon is for Everyone

We’re often asked if LadiesCon is just for those who identify as women. While we do strive to highlight the contribution of women in pop culture and the community, you don’t have to be a woman in order to support and be a fan of work featuring women or created by them.  This means that everyone is welcome, including all ages. Inclusion is very important to us whether it’s our guests or vendors.

2) LadiesCon is FREE again this year!

That’s right! Admission to the LadiesCon 2017 is completely free.  There are a few reasons why The Ladies have insisted that it be this way. The first reason goes back to the previous fact – LadiesCon is for everyone. We don’t want high admission prices to prevent anyone from coming to our Con or even just stopping by out of curiosity. We want to expose as many people as possible to our guests, vendors, and panels. Letting people in for free helps us do just that. Another reason we keep admission free is that we want those attending LadiesCon to spend their money on our guests and vendors. Purchasing books, art, etc. from the creators directly is more than just a chance to get your hands on some really wonderful stuff. It’s also a chance to support them financially, allowing them to create even more wonderful things. So seriously, we want to you spend your money, just not on getting in the door.

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Happy Guests and Attendees = crazy wall art.


3) LadiesCon is run by volunteers

LadiesCon is proof that if you get enough passionate people together, amazing things can be accomplished. By the time we open the doors at the Armory, dozens of people will have already contributed their time, skills, and community spirit to creating LadiesCon. In fact, a lot of those people will then be running around all day at the Con giving one last push to make everyone’s LadiesCon dreams a reality. If you see them in their Staff shirts or buttons, feel free to say “hi” or “thanks.” Without them, there would be no LadiesCon.

Want to know what else is fun about this being run by volunteers? It gives you a chance to get in on the action as well. The Ladies are always looking for people to partner with whether it’s for the Con, our blog, or any of our other events. Remember, you don’t have to be a lady to contribute. Warning though, once you’re in “the family” who knows what else we might try to rope you into… *wink

 

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We have ways of making sure our volunteers get their work done. Trust me, you don’t want to make Mr. Flibble cross!

 

4) We have some big changes and surprises planned for this year

I’m not the kind of girl who enjoys spoiling surprises, but let’s just say that our new space gives us a lot of elbow room to add some more content. We are also reaching out to new potential partners and guests every day. We are reaching for the stars in hopes of making our little Con as special and fun as it can be. Who knows what goodies you might find yourself taking home with you this year?

Also, remember those VIP events we had last year? The early admission lunch and the after-party? Keep your eyes out for those as we have not only listened to the feedback we received last year, but are also hoping to make them even more fun and interactive this go round.

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Our 2016 after party focused on creativity. This, my friends, is more than just creative, it’s hilarious.

 

5) You can still support LadiesCon even if you can’t join us on Sept 16.

The Ladies work all year to support LadiesCon – this is especially true financially. If you can’t be at the Con this year, you can show your support by attending other events or fundraisers we host throughout the year. Looking for something more specific?  Here are some ideas:

  • Shop at Comicazi and maybe purchase one of our bracelets up at the register
  • Attend one of the Comicazi Yard Sales and drop by our table (The next one is Sunday, June 25th!)
  • Come to any of our upcoming events and purchase a snack or raffle ticket

A great way to stay up to date on what we’re up to is to get on our mailing list.

Not local or want to support LadiesCon another way?  Easy, spread the word. Honestly, the more people who know about the Con and our mission, the easier it will be to have bigger and better events.

So, what are you most excited about this year? What would you like to see added? Let us know in the comments below!

Cartoon Sara Listens to Three Podcasts: Faith in Humanity Edition

Hardly a week goes by where I don’t see some friend on my social media accounts looking for new podcast recommendations. Personally, I’ve been seeking out podcasts that highlight the positive, tales to soothe a troubled mind in an increasingly troubled world and remind me of the good that still exists in it. These are three that have made it into my listening rotation and may be just what you need to add to yours.

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Honorary Lady of Comicazi: Shoshannah Stern

It’s been a while since I’ve done an honorary lady post, but I think it’s time. For those of you new to these posts, this is where we want to highlight and all attention to those who are out there fighting the good fight, highlighting issues, blazing paths, creating, and building community. You get it, yeah? We want to give some love back to Ladies (and some non-ladies) who are doing things we love and want to see more of. There is a lot to be said for positive reinforcement and I feel like these days it’s even more important to acknowledge those who make a positive impact on you and prompt you to learn more about something that you might not be totally familiar with. So my Honorary Lady this time around is Shoshannah Stern!

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So, who is she?

Shoshannah Stern is a deaf actor and writer who has most recently been on Supernatural (but has also been on other shows like Lie to Me, Jericho, and the lady-led comedy Another Period). I’m gonna keep this write-up spoiler free about that because really this post is about the actor, not the character. But suffice to say, Shoshannah has made a huge impact on the SPN fandom in her few appearances with her portrayal of Eileen Leahy, a hunter who happens to be deaf. This is an important distinction as deafness is not what defines the character, but rather is merely one aspect of who Eileen is. Not having deafness as the central character driver is a point of representation that Shoshannah feels passionate about. So often when deaf characters are represented in entertainment being deaf is what defines their character and their story is a discussion of struggle or hardship solely around being deaf. Deafness is often seen as something that one must overcome to be successful. It can have an encompassing hold on the character and prevent other aspects of a character from being explored. This type of representation can carry over to how how people see deaf people outside of the media, and that’s not great.

Another Period, Season 1, Episode 1. Copyright http://www.shoshannah-stern.com

How is she helping representation?

Shoshannah works hard to push back against one dimensional representation of deafness. In her own writing characters are deaf because they are, and that’s because people just are. There isn’t a point to be made about being deaf except to show that while being deaf is a minority experience, within that experience there are many levels of how deafness is part of ones life (and many different levels of deafness itself).  Shoshanna has played character with more or less levels of hearing than she herself has and her character on Supernatural can read lips much better than she can. Her most recent work The Chances is a series about deaf characters written by deaf people. The hope is to highlight the intersectionality of the lives of deaf people and move toward portraying them as full 3-dimensional characters rather than ones with only one note. Like all representation this can also help educate those who may not have interaction with deaf people on a regular basis about the different aspects of the deaf experience. But more, and perhaps most importantly it helps to break down stereotypes about deaf people and opens doors to new opportunities and experiences.

A cool thing she did that you should know about.

Shoshannah established the Eileen Leahy Scholarship, named after the character she played on Supernatural. Shirts and mugs were sold and the majority of the proceeds from these items support the scholarship that will help a deaf woman attend Gallaudet University, the premier university for deaf students and Shoshannah’s alma mater.

 

Netflix Hidden Gem: Ernest and Celestine

French animation isn’t something that’s on a lot of radars in the US. With major houses like Disney, Pixar, Illumination, and Dreamworks (and even Ghibli for a bit) taking up the major real estate in theaters and awards shows, it can often seem surprising when a quiet French animated film starts to get even a little recognition. And when it gets nominated for an Oscar, chances are quite good that the film is going to be worth your time.

When I saw that the English dub of Ernest and Celestine was available on Netflix, it was a no-brainer. The only choice I needed to make was what type of tea to drink while watching.

Based on the book by Gabrielle Vincent and made on a shoestring budget, Ernest and Celestine tells the familiar story of two unlikely friends who manage to create a home and family together. It’s familiar, yes, but it’s also warm, sweet, and perfectly crafted.

Celestine is a young mouse living beneath the streets of a city inhabited by bears. Each night she sneaks into town to steal the teeth that young bears leave under their pillows for the Mouse Fairy.  These teeth are then used by other mice to repair their own damaged and missing teeth. Sadly, she’s not great at her job and the dentist she works for threatens to fire her if she doesn’t improve. Desperate to make her quota, Celestine gets caught in the city above and finds herself in the paws of Ernest the bear.

First things first, the animation is gorgeous. With hand painted watercolor backgrounds and matching Flash animation, the soft tones result in a visual style that is extremely enjoyable to look at. Everything feels soft, cozy, and dreamy. It’s a children’s book come to life with mice scurrying across pages and bears quite literally lumbering around. Yes, it’s very cute, but it’s never cutesy or sickeningly sweet. The tone and the stylistic animation complement each other, and it works just as well during the darker moments as it does during the lighter ones.

Additionally, this movie is funny. It’s hard to explain why, but there is something about the slapstick and physicality of the characters that made me smile a lot. The timing and pace never feel heavy, so when a character trips or runs into a wall, the audience is given just enough time chuckle without feeling as though the movie is waiting for you to congratulate it on how clever and funny it is.

Lastly, the voice acting in this film is great.  The cast is filled with distinguished, talented, and familiar names like Forest Whitaker, Lauren Bacall, and Paul Giamatti. Celestine herself is voiced by Mackenzie Foy, who does a charming job of making Celestine both empathetic and brave.

So, go ahead and add Ernest and Celestine to your Netflix queue and maybe someone other than me will start gushing over it to her friends and online. Hey, it could happen!

Already seen Ernest and Celestine and looking to expand your horizons when it comes to animation? Specifically French films?  Here are a few recommendations (many of which can be found on Netflix):

Triplets of Belleville
A Cat in Paris
Tales of the Night
The Rabbi’s Cat
Secret of Kells (French-Belgian-Irish)
The Little Prince (2015)