Netflix Review: GLOW

Hey all, I’m gonna review the Netflix show, GLOW. If you haven’t seen it yet, go watch it and then let’s chat. There be spoilers here and I don’t want to ruin the show for you, ok?

GLOW starts with an acting audition that is too real even by today’s standards. Main character Ruth (Alison Brie) is at an audition; she reads a meaty part with passion, and conviction….only to be told, no honey, that was the male part, can you try it again reading the other part? The other part is one line, letting the boss know he has a call on hold. This sets the stage for one of the more meta themes of this show. Yes, it’s 2017 now, but really, how much have things changed? Continue reading

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Summer Reading 2017: Mythology and Monsters

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but here in Massachusetts the weather has finally embraced full-on summer, the kind with clear blue skies, warm nights, and the occasional thunder-storm to keep things exciting. It’s a great time to hit the beach or a park and catch up on some reading, so here are some suggestions to get you started. Continue reading

Comic Review: Clean Room Vol. 1

When I discovered that Gail Simone was writing a series for Vertigo, I was annoyed with myself for not knowing about it sooner. I mean, seriously Smalerie? Gail Simone. Original horror series. Get on it, girl.

So I did.

Then I wrote a review.

 

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Image: Vertigo

 

The Plot

After Chloe Pierce loses her fiance to suicide, she embarks on a mission find out what could have driven him to take his own life. When all signs point towards self-help guru Astrid Mueller, Chloe will stop at nothing to find the truth behind Astrid and her mysterious organization.

My Thoughts

When writing a mystery/horror story, the author has the difficult task of providing enough intrigue to keep the reader interested without making them frustrated. Clues need to be left behind like breadcrumbs or shiny pebbles leading you out of the dark forest. Clean Room handles this so well that I simply could not stop reading the first trade. At one point I was forced to put the book down, and it almost felt like the story followed me, hiding in a dark part of my mind and forcing me to think about it when I should have been concentrating on dinner conversation or watching an action flick with my family. I think reading this one as the issues came out might have driven me crazy.

 

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Image: Vertigo

 

From the description alone, I’m sure that most of you have figured out this book is for mature audiences. There are some VERY disturbing things that both happen and are referenced in this book. And while there were a few times when I felt that certain language and nudity might have been used more for the shock value rather than because it added to the story or said something about a character’s true nature, this story intends to strip characters down to their emotional cores and that is rarely pretty.  But regardless of how ugly it gets, it still remains an engrossing read.

Mueller’s organization is an extremely secretive and organized one, providing more access and information as you go up the ranks. While this structure is common among many organizations, there is a lot here that reminds me of Scientology. It’s still early in the story for me to say if Mueller and her followers are dealing with their reality in the best way, but this book makes you really wonder what’s happening behind closed doors. This is true both in the story and in the outside world. What’s being kept from us? What do we have the right to know? And how high do the stakes need to be for you to give someone complete power over you? It makes you question authority and feel uneasy. And it’s very possible these questions might never really be answered in the story, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth asking.

 

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Image: Vertigo

 

The Art

Jon Davis-Hunt’s artwork is slick and detailed. His art and Quinton Winter’s colors match the writing well and create a really creepy and stark environment. This is especially true when we get the contrast between the Clean Room itself and the outside world.  I will admit that there were a few times I felt that the characters seemed too stiff, but it still kinda works once you start to understand what’s really happening in the story. Without giving any spoilers, I think it’s safe enough to say that what you see on the surface is not always a reliable tool for truly understanding the world of this book.

As for the monster factor, I found them to be suitably creepy. You know when you run across something that’s just spooky or gross enough that you need to share it with someone? To either validate your feelings or just to make someone else shudder? Well, let’s just say there were a few times I found myself showing a page to whoever was unfortunate enough to be in the room with me.

The Verdict

It’s great to see Gail Simone writing, well, pretty much anything.

The story builds, feels satisfying enough to keep you reading, and I defy you not to run out and get Vol. 2 immediately.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Batman’s Hero: Adam West and the Animated Series

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Source: DCAU Wiki

Unless you’ve been away from all media for the past week or two, you know that Adam West passed away. West was well-known and well-loved for his performance as Batman in the 60s TV series of the same name, the movie spun off from the series, and numerous animated appearances of the Caped Crusader. Plenty of writers have already covered what made West’s Batman so iconic, but I want to focus on another one of his contributions to the Bat mythos – the first time West was on a Batman series and didn’t play Batman. Continue reading

Wonder Woman: Tiny Doom Reviews

Photo credit: screenrant.com

Hopefully, you already saw Wonder Woman if you are reading this. If not, you may want to bookmark this for later because – spoilers.

Before I even get into the movie itself, it’s almost impossible not to talk about the discussion leading up to Wonder Woman. For women in Hollywood and women characters, there was a lot riding on this one film. That’s largely because the reality is that women don’t get the chance to fail like men do. One dude does a bad thing and it’s #notallmen, but women don’t get that luxury. If WW is considered a failure by the industry it’s “women heroes can’t carry a movie”, or “women can’t direct superhero movies.” Never mind the sub-par records of some other male-centric superhero movies (Batman v Superman, Daredevil, Punisher), these directors and characters all got second chances. I know I don’t feel confident that women are afforded the same luxury, so Diana and Patty Jenkins carried a lot of their shoulders. Thankfully I don’t think we have to test this theory with Wonder Woman. While I didn’t feel it was the best movie (I’m not sure anything can dethrone Fury Road for me), it was a good movie – you know, for a movie about a woman hero written entirely by men.

I haven’t been shy about the fact that largely the DC movies haven’t been for me. It’s a stylistic opinion, but I have generally felt these movies lack joy and color. Wonder Woman tries to buck that trend…at least at the beginning. Themyscira is beautiful, full of cool blues, crisp green, and shining gold. It’s the world of man that is drab, and drags us back into that standard DC color palette. The movie is essentially an origin story. As WW’s origin is less known than her male counterparts this makes sense. And as a character more steeped in traditional myth, this gives an opportunity to explore another part of the DC Universe, especially for those WW fans who don’t read comics.

Photo Credit: digitalspy

There was a lot that was good with this movie. First, the Amazons. My main disappointment with them was that they were only in a small part of the movie! While there could have been some more diversity, as someone who will soon be part of the over 40 set, it was nice to see that Themyscira was not filled with young waifs. Nor were the older women covered in overflowing gowns or caftans that hid their bodies. The Amazons were shown as strong, with scars, or marks out in the open.

Diana herself is very much a fish out of water for the majority of the film but remains self-assured and formidable. I’m not gonna lie, the No Man’s Land scene was powerful, and that’s because Diana looks powerful. I believed she was unmovable, and then able to move forward despite what was being hurled at her. It’s maybe a little heavy-handed in terms of metaphor, but I don’t care. For me, it worked. There were some other interesting takes on common tropes. As The Red Menace overheard two women in the bathroom discussing, the typical make-over scene was flipped on its head as Etta Candy (MORE ETTA!) is tasked with making a beautiful woman more dowdy, less distracting to men. You know, so they can continue planning the war and whatever. Thank God she wasn’t wearing yoga pants or leggings, society would have come to a standstill.

photo credit: The Grapevine

My biggest disappointment is the reveal that Diana’s strength is based in the power of love – here’s a trope I would like to see a lot less of! While I get what they are trying to say, having this reveal of her ultimate strength comes right on the heels of Steve Trevor’s death (yeah, he was totally fridged) made it feel more like romantic love, and an utter cliché. I felt the initial scene where Diana first reveals herself as an Amazon and crosses No Man’s Land (I see what you did there), is a much better characterization of her values. Diana’s strength lies in compassion and despite being a god, in her humanity. Compassion, of course, is a type of love, yes, and we see this play out in how Diana rescues a village no one else thinks is worth the time. But the moment where she “seizes the sword” of her own power was too wrapped up in her feelings for Steve, and given the romance angle, that he could be seen as an avatar for the human race gets overshadowed. Diana’s story and origin shouldn’t be based on her love for Steve, but rather in the fact that her compassion is what drives her decisions.

All that said, I think this movie is doing what it needs to do. It is proving that women heroes and directors (let’s get some women writers in there too) can carry a big budget movie. And more importantly how exciting is it for kids of all genders to have Diana be one of their first exposures to heroes? It’s pretty dang great.

The Handmaid’s Tale: Further Thoughts

As promised, the second half of my thoughts on Hulu’s adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale – namely, the differences from the novel and how I felt about them. This will have major spoilers for the series, so if you haven’t watched yet, you might want to bookmark this and come back later.

Ofglen being pious. All rights Hulu.


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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!

Copyright CW

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.

 

The Handmaid’s Tale – First Thoughts

NB: This post will contain spoilers for both Margaret Atwood’s novel and Hulu’s adaptation of it through episode 3. It also assumes familiarity with the basic plot of the book.

I have a confession to make. Despite being a feminist of a certain age, I had never read Margaret Atwood’s story of women living under an oppressive patriarchal regime until last week. The Handmaid’s Tale was forever on my to-read list, but somehow it never quite crept to the top. But with Hulu’s adaptation coming out and the state of the world being what it is at the moment, the time had finally come.

Having read other Atwood and found it a bit of a slow burn, I was a bit surprised to find the novel compulsively readable, despite being incredibly bleak. I finished it in two days, marveling over the eerie and disturbing parallels in our current sociopolitical climate and delighting in Atwood’s prose (and spot on description of Harvard Square). The book is a damnation of the power dynamic between men and women, of course, but it touches on so much more than that – the way that fear causes us to exchange freedom for the illusion of safety, the damage of white supremacy, religious hypocrisy, and the pain of post-traumatic stress disorder. I was interested to see which of these would surface in the series – I knew going in that they’d removed the race elements, but what else would change?

Let me start by saying that, after watching the first three episodes, the show overall is incredibly well done. There are certainly changes and updates, both major and minor; some I agree with and some I don’t. But on the whole, the creative team has done an amazing job of setting the right tone and message. Like the novel, the show makes liberal use of narration and flashbacks, though it rearranges the timeline of the entire novel. The flashbacks help establish both how new and foreign the position of women in this society is, and how they struggle to survive it. As Aunt Lydia helpfully reminds the handmaids-to-be in the Red Center, “Ordinary is just what you’re used to. This may not feel ordinary now but after a time it will. This will become ordinary.” Women aren’t used to being chattel anymore, she’s telling them, but in a few generations no one will remember another way.

The show also makes excellent, unnerving use of music. Most of it is instrumental, humming quietly in the backgrounds of scenes, imparting an air of menace and tension. However, when a song does come to the forefront, they are often even more jarring – a combination of 80’s classics, remakes of the same, and newer songs with similar new wave sounds. This choice both nods to the book’s original time and setting, while providing a creepy counterpoint to the nearly Colonial-style dress and mannerisms of the future it depicts. It’s a reminder that although it may look like the past, it’s the near future we’re watching.

The actors also give excellent performances. You can feel the strain in every interaction our narrator Offred (Elisabeth Moss) has with other characters in the present day scenes – no one is saying what they mean, no one can be trusted, and kindness always has some sort of strings attached. You can see it in her face and body language. This tension is complemented by the total ease in her memories of her former life before the government takeover. Her scenes with her best friend Moira (Samira Wiley) are particularly good – you feel their closeness, and how they’ve influenced each other’s lives.

With all of that said, the show makes a few changes that I don’t entirely agree with, changes that affect how we see Offred and the other women in relation to each other. Keep an eye out for part two, where I’ll explore those changes.

Have you been watching The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu? What do you think? Let me know in the comments.