Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday Call to Action

This is your week's call to action.

It’s Monday, and the temptation is to phone it in. You just came off of the weekend. You’re tired. You haven’t “fully woken up” yet. Tomorrow will be a better day to do whatever it is you need to do.

Maybe you need to do the dishes. Maybe you need to do the laundry. Or pick up your house. Fix that leaky faucet. (Honestly, why is the leaky faucet such a prominent cliché? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a leaky faucet in my life. Leaky pipes, sure, but the faucet? Not that I can ever remember. Er…anyway…)

Or maybe you need to sit down and write some words.

People mock New Year’s Resolutions as that yearly time where we say we’re going to do something to improve our lives, but then JOKE’S ON US WE’RE LAZY HUMANS HA HA! Maybe consider this your New Week’s Resolutions and resolve to get your shit done.

I have things I need to get done today. Dishes that need doing. Laundry. And words. I need to get words on paper today. Preferably a bunch. At least a few.

Go out and conquer the world this week you crazy monkeys.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Things Other People Did by My Age

Via Wikipedia
I stumbled on this page on Kameron Hurley's blog where she listed things people did by her age (at the time--27). I got curious, so I clicked through and checked on my own.

So what have other people done by 25?
The future mythologist Joseph Campbell decided to move to Woodstock to read the classics for five years, nine hours a day. Living on very little, he would make himself readily available as a dinner guest. 
Orson Welles coscripted, directed, and starred in Citizen Kane. 
By this age, Charles Chaplin had appeared in 35 films. 
P. T. Barnum bought a "160-year-old" slave woman and began a career in show business.
Janis Joplin made her first recording, "Cheap Thrills," which grossed over a million dollars within a few months.  
Chris Burden created "Painting Shoot," which involved the artist being shot in the left arm by a friend. 
Charles Lindbergh became the first person to fly alone across the Atlantic, thus winning a $25,000 prize. 
Fayette, N.Y. farmhand Joseph Smith founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He claimed he translated the Book of Mormon from some golden tablets revealed to him by the angel Moroni. 
Bavarian painter Aloys Senefelder invented the lithograph. 
French engineer Benoit Fourneyron invented the first waterwheel turbine. 
Sarah Bernhardt scored her first triumph, being asked to repeat her theatrical performance before Napoleon III. 
Activist Mollie Steimer became the first person to be deported from both the United States and the Soviet Union. 
Physician Roger Bannister broke the four minute mile. As he collapsed unconscious into the arms of his trainer, the loudspeaker announced, "The time was three..." The uproar of the fans drowned out the rest of the announcement.
 Wow. I have been fucking lazy. I need to buckle down and get cracking on things.

Maybe after this next episode of House?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Peering Into the Darkness

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the horror genre and what it means to me.

I love horror movies. I’ve loved them since I was little. I got up early every Saturday morning to watch Goosebumps. I stayed up late watching Are You Afraid of the Dark? episodes. And I even remember watching the TBS version of Tales from the Crypt.

(Sidenote: Did you know there was a cartoon version of Tales from the Crypt? It was called Tales from the Cryptkeeper, and it was a kiddie version of TftC. There was also a TftC game show where kids were expected play their way through the Cryptkeeper’s house while he occasionally popped up and mocked them. Ah, those were the days, eh?)

I quickly graduated to adult horror movies. My mom was very laissez-faire when it came to what I watched and read. I saw The Terminator before I was in 1st grade. I destroyed the horror section of the local movie rental place long before the MPAA said I was even allowed to watch. I was recommended and even encouraged to read Stephen King when I was probably only 10 years old.

That freedom to consume whatever I wanted instilled a love of the horror genre that continues to this day. Lately, I’ve been jonesing for a good scary movie, and I've been scouring the dungeons of Netflix for a fix. But something has been troubling me.

If you'll bear with a little technical geekery for a moment: the ratings Netflix shows you are what they think you'll rate the programs based on how you've rated other things in the past. I've always been a generous rater, so it's dismaying that a majority of the horror stuff is ranked at around 1 or 2 stars.

What does that says about me and the genre of my youth? Have I grown tired of it? Or is there just a lot of crap being put out nowadays? Because I'm a child of the 90's, I hate it when the Man tries to put me in a box. I RESIST LABELS, MAN! I'M A COMPLEX INDIVIDUAL! So I'll frequently add movies that Netflix doesn’t think I’ll like because I’m worried I’ll miss out on something awesome. Netflix can't know my True Soul, man. Or maybe I just don’t like feeling like I’m predictable.

The sad fact is, Netflix is often right about me.

Pondering about all this made me start pondering the horror genre in general and what it means to me. As I've gotten older, I've gotten better at being able to appreciate something, but still recognizing the flaws. And as much as I love horror, there are some recurring themes and ideas that, as I’ve matured, I find troubling--and not in the good way.

For one thing, misogyny has a strong presence in horror. (Although, one could argue that misogyny has a strong presence basically everywhere, but that's neither here nor there.) Horror is a brutal genre, and I don't mean to imply that characters can't be run through the wringer--literally in some cases. But it's all about patterns, and one pattern I've pick up on is how frequently horror features women in particular being raped, beaten, tortured, and otherwise harassed. And although guys are certainly maimed and killed as well, from my observations, it's less frequently, and the guys aren't sexualized and objectified like the girls are.

A great example is the Survivor Girl trope. I've heard a few horror historians try to make the case that this trope isn't sexist because the Survivor Girl bests the danger. She may be tortured, but the audience is rooting for her and experiences vicarious joy when she comes out triumphant. While that may be the intention, the problem is it sometimes doesn't come across that way. "Rape/Revenge" is such a common storyline it's a subgenre. And admit it, part of the reason you watch horror movies is to see the creative and gross ways people get killed, not because you care if anyone lives.

Fear of the Other is another common trope that pops up. It taps into our neanderthalic fear that people from outside of our tribe will hurt us--because usually they would. But let's face it, when it comes to Things that Go Bump in the Night, human beings kicked all the asses. We won. Humans now dominate the planet, and because of the internet, we're increasingly a global community. Meeting people from all backgrounds and walks of life is easier than it's ever been. And yet, Fearing the Other still happens in modern society. In this case, though, the "Other" isn't some invading tribe or some hostile nomads encroaching on our hunting grounds. It's average folks from other religions or cultures that are just trying to live their lives but can't because ignorance and intolerance leads to their harassment or deaths. Since stories are often the barometer to measure our cultural weather, you can tell who or what mainstream culture hates and fears from our stories.

A great example of this is how frequently the villains of horror movies are gay or trans. This usually serves as a twofor since the villain being a minority (LGBTQ) makes them different than the majority, but it also denotes a "hidden" nature since the villains don't usually present as such until a dramatic reveal. Buffalo Bill's mirror dance in Silence of the Lambs and the big reveal of Sleepaway Camp are classic examples.

And then you've got the stories that teach you that learning is scary. That knowledge is bad. Curiosity killed the cat and left its guts scattered across three cornfields. After all, many of the things that cause the Big Terrible Things to happen are Man treading in places where only God should dwell, or studying ancient things that Should Be Left Alone. Don't read the Necronomicon, you'll summon Cthulhu or the Deadites. Don’t clone that person, they'll be a killing machine because they weren't created by God and don't have a soul. Don't try to cure cancer, you’ll start the zombie plague.

These stories, again, come from primal fears. Don't stick your hand in that hole, it might not be a hole but a mouth that'll tear you to shreds. But frequently, the best solution to solving your problem is learning more about it. In fact, ignorance is what often causes you to stick your arm in the hole and have it bitten off. If you'd studied more before blindly sticking your arms in holes, you would've noticed the jagged teeth, the rasping breath, the wild, staring eyes.

It’s not that science doesn't overstep and misjudge. Hell, doctors used to prescribe menthol cigarettes to asthmatics to help with their breathing problems. However, when science oversteps in these stories, the implicit solution to the problem is frequently ignorance, avoiding learning, as opposed fixing the problem through more study.

Again, I love horror. It's healthy, cathartic, and necessary to confront the darker aspects of our existence and see that we can overcome sometimes--or even that we can’t. These are things that are important for our mental and emotional development.I just wonder if it’s possible to write a horror story that’s pro-education. That doesn’t resort to raping women for cheap scares. That embraces foreign cultures rather than shoving them away as something to be feared and destroyed.

Because THAT is horror that I would lap up like coke laced Snickers bars.

It’s what I’m trying to figure out how to write.

Monday, September 22, 2014

10 Books That Stuck With Me

Photo by Steven Coutts - CC Attribution 2.0 
On Facebook, I was tagged for this challenge. "10 Books That Stuck With Me." Normally, I'm not one for Facebook memes, but this particular one was interesting. My problem was, as I read through people's posts and as I made my own, I thought, "WHY did these books stick with you?"

And so:

10 Books that Stuck with Me

***Be warned, I'm on cold meds, and so this may be a bit rambling or unclear. I tried to avoid that, but, hey, we'll see. Also, there may be possible mild spoilers. I tried to avoid major spoilers, but if that sort of thing bothers you, just be warned.***

1.) Girl Parts - John M. Cusick 
I liked this book. After a girl commits suicide via livestream, several kids are diagnosed as being a bit screwed up. To fix this problem, one of the boys, David, gets a robot that's supposed to teach him how to have appropriate relationships--a fembot named Rose that is programmed to shock him when he tries to move too fast or go too far.

The book's title, "Girl Parts," comes from the moment when David finally gets to see Rose naked...only to learn that she doesn't have sexual organs. He views this as a waste and kicks her out. I liked this depiction because it David was clearly using Rose for sex, going through the motions like it was a game, gaming Rose's programming, but he didn't truly care about her.

There's also a nerdy, quiet guy named Charlie that winds up taking Rose in. Which creates a love triangle of sorts. But this book almost felt like a critique of that very idea, a subversion of it.

Fembots are problematic because they are usually literally machines that are female-looking designed for male pleasure, which Rose is. But it exposes how fucked up that is, and you eventually realize this isn't David or Charlie's story. It's Rose's. And the resolution, Rose's eventual ownership of herself and her happiness, was what stuck with me.

It would probably be considered small potatoes to more mature thoughts on gender, but as someone just approaching feminist ideas, this book exposed ideas about relationships and sex in a way I hadn't considered.

2.) The Long Walk - Stephen King
This is one of the first books by Stephen King I read. Written under King's darker, bleaker pseudonym "Richard Bachman" this book stuck with me because it was almost like King's attempt at YA, but written long before there was a concept of "YA."

This is sort of Hunger Games before Hunger Games. Teenagers in this world elect to join The Walk, a spectator survival sport. 100 teens join up to walk. Be the one to survive, you get whatever you want for the rest of your life. The catch is, if you don't keep walking at a pace of four miles an hour or higher, you get a warning. Three warnings, and you get a shotgun to the head.

This book starts out with the kind of teenage bravado you expect from boys, which is probably what got me through the set-up. They were like me--although I was, like, 12 or 13 when I read this. The first time someone dies, though, is when I realized how rough this book was going to get: a boy gets a leg cramp and can't keep up the pace and is gunned down in front of everyone. He dies screaming and begging for a second chance. It's horrible.

The book is grim, and the end is interestingly ambiguous. King is amazing when it comes to dialog and characterization, and his writing of how someone is affected by trauma is harrowing and vivid.

3.) Misery - Stephen King
Stephen King is my favorite writer, so, y'know. Bear with me.

Misery. No need for an introduction. You probably know: writer gets kidnapped by a crazed fan and is forced to continue the series that he hates and is about to end.

King's talent is on full display here: the dialog and characterization are great. The torture and mutilation scenes are vivid, horrifying, and effective. And there's almost an element of magical realism to his books: while technically a reality-based story, there are moments where the edges of what's possible seem to blur a little.

The image of someone getting their thumb cut off with an electric knife is still with me to this day. The movie may be scary--Kathy Bates did amazing--but it doesn't approach nearly the fucked up level the book does.

4.) The Goats - Brock Cole
This is a strange book.

I won a contest in 6th grade and got to pick out a free book from the book box. To keep. I picked The Goats.

To be honest, I probably picked it because of the premise: two kids, a boy and a girl, are stripped naked by their camp mates and dumped on an island in the middle of a lake. Nudity? Girls? There was something forbidden and dirty about the premise. I sat down and kept waiting on the teacher to tell me that it had gotten in there by mistake and to pick something else.

And then I read it and had my little mind blown. It was one of those books so intensely personal, I never told anyone about it. I read it over and over and over. It spoke to something I still can't quite articulate.

The book's seemingly dirty premise is left pretty quick, actually. The kids--Goats, as their camp mates call them--escape the island and decide to run away to teach them a lesson. And then we have an almost Homeward Bound story. They steal spare change and clothes when they need to. They hitch hike. It's just their misadventures on the road. But they develop a bond that's incredibly deep and intimate.

In a way, the nudity at the beginning of the book sort of breaks a barrier for the two of them. Once that's over, there's no more mystery really. They just get to bond.

The intensity of their relationship--something far past the normal depiction of love--stuck with me for years and years. Whenever I'd feel lonely, I reread the book, just to experience that kind of intense friendship and love.

5.) Time Terror (Spookesville No. 16) - Christopher Pike
Speaking of friendship, I probably read this when I was about 8 or so, but this book. Good God. It tore me up.

Whenever I think of series book, I normally don't think of particularly deep plots. They're fun, shallow little entertainments. Like, there's only so many Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Babysitter's Club books that can be written by the original authors before they start being ghost written.

But this book stuck with me something fierce. A group of friends go see a movie and find a toy with a clock on its chest. Playing with the clock sends them back in time, and they realize it's a TIME TOY. Shenanigans ensue, and after a couple of them screw up and get one of their friend's ancestors killed, their friend ceases to exist.

The end is so surprisingly tragic and poignant for a kids book that I was completely taken by surprise. Most books like this end the same way: kid figures out how to fix things, and everything is back to normal. Not here. This book's ending is extremely sad, something I'd never experienced before, and not in a sorta-kinda manipulative way like Old Yeller or Where the Red Fern Grows. This one was just noble sacrifice and intense friendship.

6.) On Writing - Stephen King
I mean, c'mon. This book is legendary at this point, although my reason for liking it is probably not the norm. There are some good writing tidbits in there, sure, and King has good advice. But mostly, I love this book because of two things: 1) Getting to peak under the hood of King's Writer Mind, to see how he thinks about his craft, and 2) the memoir bits.

King is a hell of a story teller, and that goes for stories about his own life. He can spin a yarn thick enough to make a sweater. Sometimes, it's just encouraging to read through how someone else came to be who they are. You can say, "Hey, they made it. I can, too!"

7.) Feed - Mira Grant
I've written about Mira Grant's Feed before. I was going to just list the "News Flesh Trilogy," but while I did love the two sequels, the first one struck my particular chords very well.

Partially, it's the great scientific details she includes about how the zombie virus functions, including the little medical tricks, like the quasi-diabetes test that checks for zombie infection.

Partially, it's a book about politics, with bloggers following a president on his campaign trail and reporting on the events.

Partially, it's the fantastic world building. She includes all of these fantastic details. So many post apocalyptic books show humanity struggling and toiling to survive. The truth is, though, if something like this were to happen, we'd adapt. We'd survive. And Mira Grant's depiction of how we adapt and survive is logical and believable. And seriously, the cultural details are to die for: everyone named some variant of George in honor of George Romero? That's BRILLIANT!

8.) Feed - M.T. Anderson
Another book named feed, this one is basically about Google Glass. It's about a sort of cellphone that's implanted in your head. All the stuff you could see on your smartphone screen is visible in your field of vision. And Anderson's ability to spin this out into logical conclusions is very satisfying. Of course you're going to start seeing advertisements for deals that would be activated when you look at them. Google already sort of does that. Buy something on Amazon recently? You'll start seeing advertisements for similar products on random web pages.'

At this book's heart is the obvious critique of our cellphone culture, but a much more interesting critique of our consumer culture, including an examination of who we are to these big companies that keep buying up our personal data and analyzing it. And what happens if they we let them take over wholesale. The results aren't pretty.

9.) Good Omens - Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett are gods among men. They're so talented, it's just ungoddamned fair. This book was very personal for me because I was raised in a very VERY conservative Christian environment. My small town was like a lot of stereotypical small towns you see on TV. Basically the worst thing you could be was an atheist or gay.

This book takes the tired trope of the Antichrist being born, and goes, "Yeah, but what if Heaven and Hell were staffed by people somewhat incompetent at their jobs."

I hadn't read a book before that took the concept of Christianity and God and made fun of it. The book was like a revelation. "Oh. You mean this doesn't all have to be such Serious Business? Okay!"

And it's funny as hell.

10.) Talyn - Holly Lisle
Holly Lisle was hugely formative for me in the ways I thought about writing in high school. She was the first person that made me think about maybe actually trying to get published somewhere, and I read her blog pretty much every day when I was in high school.

Talyn was crazy to me because it was the first fantasy novel I read that wasn't basically a Tolkien clone. Her world building was fascinating, detailed, original. I was knocked back on my heels. My reaction was basically, " can DO that?" Up until that point, my friend had been suggesting books for me to read, and they were all basically the same: Elves and Dwarves go questing, fight monsters. Some magical mentor figure dances around the edges of the events, subtly manipulating them. And a mysterious bad ass is mysterious and bad ass.

But this book? Unique magic system dealing with alternate realms, a mixture of fantasy with romance elements, bad ass female main characters, unique world religions that weren't just thinly disguised Christianity clones.

Obviously I could go on. There are plenty other books I could talk about. And I'm always reading new books that could make an impact. But these were the ten that came to mind as I pondered the idea. So, what books stuck with you? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Happy Birthday to My Wife

Actually, her birthday was yesterday, but I didn't post about this yesterday because I was busy with work and with, well, actually being with my wife. While I always try to do something special for her, this year, I wanted to really do something special. This year, I got inspired.

First, she's not a comic reader really, like, at all. I've tried to get her to read something--ANYTHING, but nothing has really caught her interest. Then she found Detective Honeybear, a Kickstarter comic created by Alex Zalben and Josh Kenfield. There were only two issues, but she bought them both and devoured them. She's read them repeatedly, even had me read them outloud to try to mimic what we thought Detective Honeybear (a teddy bear who is also a detective) might sound like.

There hasn't been a new issue in a while, just the first two. She was disappointed that there wasn't more to read. While I'd love to keep it going for her, I thought, maybe I could do the next best thing and bring Detective Honeybear to her in person.

It ain't perfect, but thanks to Build-a-Bear and a little costume alteration trickery, I made my wife her very own Detective Honeybear.

Case cwosed!

But probably the best gift of the night was the cake, which I commissioned from a local German bakery that is just amazing.

Obviously, the break out hit of the summer (year?) is Guardians of the Galaxy. I mean, that's not even a question, right? And dancing baby Groot is, without question, the greatest thing on this planet, right? So why not have a Baby Groot cake?

This cake was made by Bizzy Bees, and if you live in the Northwest Arkansas area, I highly recommend you give them a try for some baked stuff.

Anyway, it was a great birthday. I love my wife very much, and it was nice to be able to do something nice for her this year, something special.

Happy birthday, sweetheart.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


As I write this, my hands are shaking. Not because I'm distressed. Not because I'm tired or hungry or my blood sugar is low. They're shaking because I took my inhaler. I woke up this morning, and for some reason, I couldn't take in a full breath.

When I was little, I desperately wanted to do sports, any sports really, but that wasn’t a thing I could do. Exercise was one of my triggers. From what my family has told me, there was a time where walking across the room would trigger me into an asthma attack, so running up and down a court or field for two hours was pretty much a no-go.

It’s actually kind of amazing how someone so disadvantaged in something can also want something so badly.

I was obsessed with basketball. I collected basketball cards. I played basketball video games. I watched basketball. I watched fucking Space Jam because the greatest basketball player ever--Michael Motherfucking Jordan--was playing basketball alongside the Looney Toons.

I don’t know if all of this was because I was actually that into basketball, or if I just liked it because my step-brother was into it and I looked up to him and thought he was cool. I wanted very much to be like him.

The why I wanted it doesn’t really matter because the why I couldn’t didn’t change.

When I was in the seventh grade, I finally joined the school sports team. It took some convincing, but my mom let me do it. During football season, we basketball kids that weren’t also doing football were supposed to run laps around the field while the football team practiced. I got teased a lot. I was slow. Chubby. I plodded more than I ran. But I did everything I could to get my laps done. I was always the last one done, but I did it.

Basketball season came. I thought I was ready. I’d already done so much running during football season!

First, we started by running laps. And then I realized how bad this was going to be. Most guys weren’t bothered at all. I was gasping.

Then we did more running drills.

Then we did line drills.

Then defensive stance drills.

Eventually, I was so out of breath, my vision narrowed to a pinprick before going black completely, like the end of a Looney Toons cartoon.

I was gasping, coughing, in a bad way. I hurried as fast as I could to the locker room, grabbed my inhaler. Once the medicine took effect, I headed back to practice.

More running.

More drills.

Run, slap the court line, come back, run, slap the further court line, come back, run, slap the further court line, come back. Come on, ladies, let’s go let’s go let’s go!

All the while, I was trying with everything I had to keep up with my teammates. Eventually, I had to go back to the locker room again. Take my inhaler again.

This time, I knew better than to go back out there. Besides trembling from the exhaustion and side-effects of the medicine, I was also scared. I couldn’t remember ever having to take my inhaler twice in an hour. I decided it was safer to just sit out the rest of practice, hope nobody would notice.

They did.

Specifically, the coach did, and called me out for it by name.

I heard the whistle blow and the coach call for everyone to line up. As I came out of the locker room, he shouted, “Well, now that Dow is back from hiding out in the locker room, looks like we can end this.”

I’m not sure I’ve ever been more embarrassed. It confirmed what I already knew: I was a loser, and I’d never be a part of that world.

Kameron Hurley's The Mirror Empire features a main character that has asthma. I'm only about 100 pages into the book, but so far, this girl is my favorite character. Because she's got a strong spirit, she's brave as fuck, and she gets shit done.

But when things get real, when she has to physically exert herself--climbing stairs, fleeing bad guys, etc., she gets wheezy; she gets short of breath. She has a hard time getting around. She's not going to be a bruiser of a character or some soldier with bottomless stamina, like James Bond, so she has to be crafty about things. She's also headstrong and stubborn and often doesn’t do what people tell her, even when it would be safer to just listen to them. She’s not defined by her disability, but she is strongly informed by it. Which makes her very interesting.

Asthma is a many-headed hydra. Different things trigger the disease in different people--exercise, a multitude of different allergens, etc. I'm sure the science has changed a bunch since the late 80's and early 90's when I was in Prime Wheezy State, but in my experience, you can't just press through an asthma attack. Something bad will happen and you will collapse.

It’s weird for me to write a post like this BEFORE finishing a book, but this book is already so loaded with interesting things that I would love to talk about that I figure I need to get them out now before I forget. One thing is this asthma-ridden heroine.

Asthma isn’t an uncommon disease. Say “asthma” to someone, they immediately know what you’re talking about. And yet, despite it being so common, you rarely see a well-written character with asthma.

I’m particularly interested in how Hurley handles this character because all my life, I was told by movies and TV that people with asthma were nerds. They were geeks, dweebs, losers. Pathetic little wastes that fly into a wheezing, gasping fit when things get difficult while, meanwhile, the HERO goes and kicks the bad guys ass and handles his shit.

Asthmatics are things to be pitied. And basically never the main character.

I can only think of two other books that I’ve ever read that featured a main character with asthma.

One was either a middle-grade book, or a middle-grade book of short stories. The main character had asthma--the story actually starts with him having an asthma attack and needing his inhaler. He and his family move to a new town where everyone is very well behaved. Eventually, his parents start acting the same way. Only he and one other girl aren’t affected.

Eventually, they realize that the town is pumping some sort of mind-control drug in through the vents, and the reason he and the girl aren’t affected are because they have to take medicine that counteracts the mind-control drug--his inhaler and her pills for...something...that I don’t remember...

The other book featuring an asthmatic main character was Eddie Kasbrak from It. And he…doesn’t exactly buck those stereotypes, even if he does get the badass moment of standing up to It with his “battery acid.”

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown out of my asthma somewhat, which is common, but mine will probably never go away because when I was born, I had a hole in my lung. I spent several weeks in an incubator with a chest tube that I still have a scar from, and I very nearly died.

Most of the time, I can forget that I have asthma. I’m lucky that it doesn’t factor into my life constantly. But with winter comes colds that could develop into pneumonia if I’m not careful, flu shots I need to get because I’m high risk, etc. And since I’ve been running, I’ve had to watch myself very carefully. It’s important to push yourself when you’re exercising, but it’s a fine line to walk, 

“Am I out of breath right now because I’m working my ass off, or am I about to have an asthma attack and black out?”

I'll be interested to see how Hurley handles the kid with asthma as the book progresses. How does she deal with physical confrontations? With fleeing? What does she do if she does trigger an asthma attack in the middle of a dire situation--while physical activity was always the most common reason, a good hardcore scare or panic could trigger one when I was little.

In the past, sometimes sitting down and just breathing as slowly and deeply as possible could stave off a full-on attack, but if you have an attack happening, you need immediate attention. Caffeine was helpful. The cold winter air could help in a pinch, too. And, of course, my inhaler.

I’m very interested to see how Lilia will deal.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Capaldi as the Doctor

BBC Promotional image from Wikipedia
I'm not a fan of Steven Moffat. It's not that he's necessarily grossly sexist as much as annoyingly oblivious to his sexism. In his mind he doesn't see anything wrong, and he keeps writing these female characters that are all the same--self-confident, quick witted, sarcastic, with cutesy, sexy banter, and all of them seem to know the Doctor inside and out but have no real personality outside of being a foil to the Doctor. Which can get a little humdrum and boring. Amy is pretty much River Song is pretty much Clara, with minor variations based on the actresses performance.

I'm also not a really big fan of seasons 6 or 7. While season 5 was amazing, and a great follow up to Tennant's Doctor, seasons 6 and 7 were extremely hit and miss and constantly bogged down with story arcs that didn't pay off well in the end. Whole episodes seemed to be limping by to get to the next bit of story-arc plot so we could get to the finale. I thought season 7 ended well with the specials really making a difference and sending Matt Smith out well.

And then there was Capaldi.

My God is Capaldi great.

He's grumpy. He's cranky. He's Scottish. He's world-weary, but there's still enough child-like wonder at the universe that, much like Tennant, Capaldi can carry the goofy scenes and he can carry a dramatic scene like a goddamned lumberjack.

The season premiere was okay. It had some great moments--the Doctor's confusion about who was who was funny, and his interaction with the dinosaur was glorious. But there were times when he wasn't just cranky, he was cruel. Demanding a homeless man fork over his coat is shitty. Later, he has the homeless man's coat, and I was furious. And it was only during the second watch through of the episode that I noticed that they hint that he traded his watch for the coat. Still dicey, but at least the cushioned that.

On the other hand, the Doctor leaves Clara in a horribly dangerous situation, and I don't care that he came back to save her later, fuck that. That is not what the Doctor would do. He does everything he can to make sure everyone else gets out first. He doesn't abandon people. I could see pulling that kind of stunt after the Doctor has been around for a while. I could maybe see Matt Smith being able to pull that scene off and have it be funny and quirky rather than shitty and selfish, but this Doctor is crankier and can't do that.

But the last three episodes have been great. Into the Dalek wasn't bad. You could tell the crew was still getting used to things, and I was as well.

The Robot of Sherwood was awesome. I've had an affinity for Robin Hood since I was a little kid anyway. The guy they got to play Robin Hood must have been channeling Cary Elwes, so much to the point I wondered if he was his younger brother.

And Listen was a great scary Doctor Who episode. They haven't had one in a while. And while I don't think they fully answered all of the questions like most Who episodes, I actually liked that ambiguousness. The Doctor shouldn't know everything, and neither should we.

All in all, I'm very pleased with season 8 (series 8?) of the show. Capaldi's performances are strong, and by God Clara is getting some actual character instead of literally being there only to provide the show mystery and flirt with the Doctor.

It's also nice to see PoC in the show again, even if it is only one guy.

Friday, September 12, 2014

My Fantasy Female Ghostbusters Cast

Right. So. Things have been a bit poop here lately, eh? Lots of terrible things happening online, life has been pretty busy at home. Rather than rant in your ear about important things that you should be paying attention to, I'm going to take a break from doom and gloom and indulge in a little personal fantasy for a moment.

Today, I want to talk about my fantasy casting for the female Ghostbusters reboot.

Bill Murray has been pretty adamantly against a Ghostbusters 3, mostly because they're all so old at this point that I think he thinks (and he may be right) that it'd be sort of like The Expendables: a bunch of old dudes dress up like they're in their 20's and 30's and try to recapture their glory days.

And nobody wants to see that.

But he seems to like this idea of an all-female reboot, and by God so do I. He suggests Melissa McCarthy, Emma Stone, Kristen Wiig, and Linda Cardellini as the new crew. While that's a decent list--all very funny, awesome ladies there--it's a little...pale? And since we're talking fantasy ideal casting for movies now? I've got some ideas.

The four Ghostbusters fit the basic personality types of all teams. They are the same as the Ninja Turtles, as the Power Rangers (plus one or two), the guys from the Hangover.

There's the smart one.

The child-like one/goofball.

The leader/straight man.

The sarcastic one/tough one.

Thats, respectively: Egon (Harold Ramis), Ray (Dan Ackroyd), Winston* (Ernie Hudson), and Peter (Bill Murray).

* The catch is, of course, that while I enjoyed the diversity and Ernie Hudson did a fine job, the writers gave Winston basically nothing to say. So, he is the straight man...just not a very memorable one, unfortunately.

My ideal casting for an all-female Ghostbusters movie?

1. The Smart One

I think that Billy Murray was on the right track with suggesting Linda Cardellini. I know that the Scooby-Doo movies aren't very well respected, but I thought she nailed Velma, and because of that, I'm pretty sure she could nail the brainy, techie of the group. She wouldn't have to pull a repeat performance of Velma--she's a great actress. But having seen Velma, I know she'd be great spouting the techno-babble--which really is an important role. You need some explanation of what's going on, even if its nonsense, and if the person lacks conviction saying it, the illusion is shattered.

But, let's say she doesn't want to get locked into anything even Velma-like? Who then?

I say Tina Fey.

Tina Fey is already hilarious. She's smart. And she pulls off "harried" in a great way with 30 Rock, and I can easily imagine her popping her head up from a pile of paper-readouts or mechanical parts and spouting technical jargon about what she's doing. Maybe even adjusting her glasses.

I know, I know, the glasses = nerd stereotype is played to death, but it's so iconic Ghostbusters!

2. The child-like one/The goofball

In the original movie, Ray was definitely as smart as Egon, spouting off just as much mumbo-jumbo. But where Harold Ramis brought a scientific and logical aspect to his performance as he watched these supernatural events unfold, to Ray it was more exciting. He is, afterall, the one responsible for the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. His child-like excitement at encoutnering these ghosts is something that the new movie will need to help avoid the cynicism that might come with a remake. It'd be entirely too easy for the writers to mock the old one, throwing out disses at the old outfits, the old hairstyles, whatever.

So, someone that can keep the innocence and magic is important. And I think Lucy Liu is that person.

Lucy Liu has been a bad ass. Lucy Liu has been a snake. Lucy Liu is fucking amazing.

I'm thinking of her rapid-fire humor, competence, and overall carriage in Lucky Number Sleven. I can easily see her being someone who maybe went to the same university as Tina Fey or Cardellini. Maybe they studied the old Ghostbusters cases together. But they're retired. And when shenanigans start going down in New York again, the two decide that THEY can do it.

For Fey or Cardellini's excitement over the science, Liu gets giddy and amazed over the wonder of seeing LIFE AFTER DEATH!

Liu is such a great actress, she could totally carry any heavier moments while keeping her performance light.

3. The straight man

Winston was the every man. Just some dude that got roped into this craziness. If Eddie Murphy had been cast as originally planned, we would have had some great ad-libbed moments of Murphy freaking right the fuck out over seeing ghosts. As it stood, Ernie Hudson did what he could with an underwritten role.

Dear god, the straight man can be so damned funny, though. In the show Archer, Sterling Archer is the swirling ball of narcisistic chaos, but who is the person that keeps him grounded to earth, whose reactions to his madness are hysterical on their own? Lana. Lana is a straight man character (most of the time) that OWNS that show.

So why shouldn't Aisha Tyler get a position on Ghostbusters?

She's righteously funny comedian, she already shows she has a lot of range voice acting on Archer, and she's well known for being a huge nerd. Being in Ghostbusters is a perfect fit, and honestly, I'm surprised I haven't seen someone else suggest her.

Seriously, if I were casting this movie, this would be one of my "musts." You HAVE to get Aisha Tyler for this movie, y'all. She's perfect.

4. The Wise Guy/The Tough Guy

Peter Venkman is probably the most memorable role in the movie because Bill Murray is hilarious. He has an almost supernatural gift of rattling off jokes off the top of his head and getting laughs. He's just naturally quick, and his biting sarcasm was great to vocalise what everyone was already thinking. And his cynical, cut-to-the-chase attitude business-wise was a great balance to Egon and Ray's excitement over the job.

Who better to pull off this role than the already suggested Melissa McCarthy. If anyone can fill the Venkman-sized shoes in the role, it's McCarthy. She's sarcastic, she's quick, so much of her stuff is ad-libbed and off the cuff. Watch some of her outtakes in The Heat or--JESUS CHRIST, GO WATCH HER STUFF FROM THIS IS FORTY. It's amazing.

Seriously: Melissa McCarthy needs to be all up in this movie.

If I were a studio exec, this would be my other "must." Because not having Melissa McCarthy and Aisha Tyler in this movie would be a goddamned crime.

So, who would you cast in the female Ghostbusters movie?

** I just want to point out that all of the women I mentioned are actresses in the early to mid-forties, and all very very close to the same age, which is awesome because we need to get more mature women on screen more often. Don't get a bunch of 20's actresses to make this movie just to appeal to the young crowd. Seriously, these are talented, smart, funny women that would kick ass in this role.

*** I know that a Hollywood exec isn't going to read this blog, and even if they did, it's not like they'll go, "Hey, he's right! Call up these women please!" These are just general thoughts.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

9/11 From Someone Raised in its Shadow

Today is September 11th. 9/11. 9-1-1.

You don’t need an introduction. Or a rehash. Even if you don’t live in the US, you probably know a rough idea of what happened.

It’s amazing that it’s been 13 years since the attacks. I don’t even know how to process that. I’ve spent more than half of my life living in 9/11’s shadow. Those towers cast long, dark shadows, even after they were gone.

Here are things I remember:

I remember I was 12 years old. I was in 1st period Geography class (or maybe it was 2nd…it’s been a long time…). My teacher was an awesome guy. He was in the Army, if memory serves. He used to tell us tons of great stories about shenanigans that happened while he was on duty. He was stationed in the jungle once when his troop was bombarded by monkey hurling poop at them. He said his sergeant was so covered in poop at the end of things that he just walked into the ocean fully clothed and let the waves wash him out a bit and wash him off.

I don’t remember where we were in the class. I could probably figure it out by looking up the times of the attacks, but I’ve never really thought about doing that before. This is just off the top of my head. Anyway, at some point, someone came into the room and said something to my teacher. He jumped up, led us all to the library. The TV was running. We all sat down in front of the TV while he talked to the librarian. Whatever was going on, it was serious. He looked scared. She looked scared.

The TV showed the smoking top of a building, one of the towers. We didn’t know what was happening, but the scroll at the bottom told us all we needed to know: a plane had flown into the towers. We didn’t know, at the time, that it was an attack, until the second plane hit live on TV.

We were 12. We were stupid. We realized that it was an attack not long after that. We got giggly. Excited. We didn’t fully grasp the reality of what was happening. It was almost like watching a movie. I don’t remember when I learned about the Pentagon attack, but I don’t think I believed it at first. I thought it was just over-excited people telling stories, trying to make things more exciting than they were.

I’m ashamed to admit, but I remember my friends and I, we started talking about going to war. What it meant. And I remember making jokes with my classmates about how they’d messed with the wrong people, that we were going to blow them off the map. 12-year-olds aren’t really equipped to deal with something as complicated and horrifying as war.

It wasn’t until after I was alone, until I’d stopped feeding off of everyone else’s excitement, that I started worrying that more attacks might happen. Would they bomb my school? Would we even go to school the next day?

I don’t know if I saw the towers fall while we were in the library, or if it was after I got home and I saw a replay on the news.

I remember rumors flying everywhere. The terrorists had bombed Pennsylvania, they were going after the Statue of Liberty, they were going to bomb sports stadiums during games. Surely they wouldn’t bomb my school, though. We were probably safe. We were middle of nowhere Arkansas.

I’m not sure who worried they’d go after the nuclear reactor in Russellville, maybe my mom. All I know is even Arkansas felt like a potential target. Nowhere felt safe.

The full reality of things didn’t really hit me until I went home. My mom was watching the news. She hugged us. We spent the next two weeks watching CNN. There were so many people missing. So many people crying, with handmade signs, flagging down every camera man they could, trying desperately to find their loved ones.

I remember it was basically impossible to find an American flag for a while. They were sold out everywhere. We wanted one to fly out of our car window, to show we were Americans, that we weren’t afraid of those monsters that attacked us.

Looking back on that time, I have this strange split, between the fear of those foreign countries, of those strange religions, and the knowledge I gained later. Of how that honest fear of the unknown was exploited, manipulated. Twisted and pushed.

I remember the pride I felt when we all pitched in together. Americans standing side-by-side, working together. No races. No classes. Just people helping people, recovering from the chaos.

I didn’t think about what it meant for people who were Muslim. I didn’t even consciously realize there were Muslim people in America. To me, they were all foreigners. They were all Others, form Over There.

I remember during the 2004 elections praying to God that George Bush would win another term because lots of my relatives said that if Kerry won, “the Muslims would take over this country without a shot.”

I remember learning that Islam was one of the fastest growing religions in the world and that it wouldn’t be long before they far outnumbered Us. Us, to me at the time, was Christians, and I remember feeling scared by that thought, but not being sure why I felt that way. I remember the same confused feeling when I learned that, based on birth rates, Whites would eventually be in the minority in the world. I don’t know why this scared me, just that it did.

I remember feeling a disconnect from the people around me, even after the 9/11 attacks. I remember speaking to one relative that I had loved and respected my whole life saying to me in Walmart, “We should round them all up and send them back where they came from.” And I remember saying, “But people born here wouldn’t have anything to do with that. Why do that?” And my relative just repeated, “Round them all up and send them back.”

I didn’t push the issue.

Thinking about 9/11 makes me angry. Not just because of the obvious horror, but also because I have spent nearly half my life sorting through the lies and scaremongering done in the name of "democracy". A lot of my opinions and beliefs in life have been influenced by 9/11. I learned a lot about ugliness in the wake--foreign, sure, but especially domestic.

I wish I could look back at 9/11 as a time where we were our best selves. A tragic moment where we rose up against an evil and stood defiant. Where we were the good guys.

I wish I could.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Brooke Johnson: Harper Voyager Novelist!

Photo from: Brooke's G+ Profile
Well, if this isn't just great news!

One of my oldest friends, Brooke Johnson, has received some fantastic news.

I'll let her tell it:
"I have some big news today!

I am happy to announce that I have signed a three-book deal with Harper Voyager Impulse, the digital-first imprint of HarperCollins’ Science Fiction and Fantasy division!

As part of the contract, Harper Voyager Impulse will be republishing the first book in my steampunk series, The Clockwork Giant, and my associated novella, The Mechanical Theater, (tentatively titled), as well as publishing a sequel, with an option for a third novel."
You can read more about the what and how and all of that at her blog post here.

You can also read a more frequently updated blog here.

And for good measure: Google+ and Facebook. Pretty much the only social media she's not on is Twitter.

Head on over to one of those places and congratulate her if you haven't already.

Monday, September 8, 2014

I Am a Motherfucking Sorcerer!

Gender is a bogus concept created by society, so before I run off at the mouth, please understand that I am using very stereotypical, generic terms. My view and understanding of gender and sexuality is much more complex and nuanced than male/female, okay? Just, go with me on this, okay?


So: "manliness." Fixing things with your hands. Using tools. Saws. Power drills. Getting grease up to your elbows and coming in smelling of sweat and motor oil goat ass, I dunno.

I'm not your traditional understanding of "manly."

Cars, electrical work, plumbing, none of those things interested me.

God knows my father and my grandfather tried. Every time they worked on a car, they'd have me come over and watch them work. But to me, it didn't mean anything. It was just tubes and hoses and wires. It looked like the plastic, greasy guts of a great mechanical beast, all pumping, heating, spinning chaos, with no rhyme or reason.

I don't work on my own car much for the same reason I don't perform surgery on people: there's too much I don't understand and I don't want to deal with cleaning up all the resulting blood.

To be honest, I never expected to have to do stuff like fixing my own car and such. Not really. I mean, I knew my grandfather couldn't be at my every beck and call, but at the same time, it never really sunk in that someday I'd want to replace the shitty tape deck in my car to a cd player or something. Or replace the air filter. Or whatever.

Plus, it was SO BORING! Oh my god, staring into the hood of a car was and is total snoozeville to me. I don't know why, but when I see that my brain just goes, "Lol, yeah right, LOOK OVER THERE--SOMEONE COSPLAYING LOKI FUCKING A HORSE!!"

The effect that my total obliviousness toward most things stereotypically manly is usually anger and frustration at a seemingly simple job being not as simple as I thought, and eventual sorrow and shame that I am not adequately manly enough to do [x job my father could have done].

Above you will find a picture of a light. It's not just any light, however. I put that in.

We used to have a big, 2-tubed fluorescent light there. One day, as I was working on the stuff for an upcoming D&D campaign, I noticed was sagging strangely. The screw holding one end in place came out, and I could not drill a screw in and hang it. It was too long, and no matter how many attempts I made, I just COULD...NOT...GET...those fucking screws and holes to line up.

At first we looked for a couple of brackets to maybe just drill to the ceiling and cradle the light, holding it in place. But no such brackets could be found. Such brackets may not exist in all of bracketdom, if you believe the asshole at Lowe's that stared at me like I was a Martian with three noses. And suddenly, our salvation: laziness! We could just take that light fixture down and replace it with a new one! A smaller, more manageable one!

So we bought one. At 7:00, I started trying to correctly hook the wires up and fasten the fixture to the ceiling. I cut the wires too short. I couldn't get the wires to stay cinched together. The bulb that came with the fixture was broken--IN ITS PACKAGING BUT WITH NO DAMAGE TO ANY OF THE PACKAGING, HOW THE FUCK DOES THAT EVEN HAPPEN??? And then, no matter what I did, I couldn't get the lights to come on.

I tried screwing the bulb in tighter.

I tried two or three times to rewire the fixture because the wires kept slipping out of the fastener, spinney-cap-thingy.

I tried just wiring one of the wires and grounding the other.

Nothing worked.

I watched a YouTube video and screamed in frustration when what the asshole did in that video was the exact same thing I did.

Finally, I realized my fatal mistake: I assumed that because my light fixture had a white and a black wire, I should match them like-color to like-color to the white and black dark brown wires in the ceiling. My years of training in kindergarten putting like things with like things and assuming they belonged together trained me. How am I supposed to eat my fruit salad by fruit now, when my world has been so completely rocked? IT CAN'T BE DONE I SAY!

So, I switched the wires and, lo and behold, the light worked.

I feel like a motherfucking sorcerer

Admittedly, all I did was tape two wires together.


Ahem, now if you'll excuse me, I've got a lot of feelings pumping. I'm going to go wrestle a grizzly bear because I installed a light fixture and that means I can do anything.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Podcasts I'm Listening To Lately

For the longest time, I was against audiobooks. I don't know why, but I just didn't like the idea of someone reading to me. I had this strange idea that having someone read a book to me meant I wasn't smart enough to read it myself. I took it as a sign of weakness in middle and high school.

It wasn't until I was in college and I got a copy of The Da Vinci Code on audiobook from the library that I sort of came around to the idea. Besides adding an extra dimension to stories that can be enjoyable--the right narrator can make a story come to life in a big way--audiobooks are also good for increasing how much you read. At the time, I was driving around 3 hours to get home on the weekends. Audiobooks would have been awesome.

But holy Christ those things are expensive, dude.

Podcasts are like a god-send, then, for the financially strapped. They're free, they're awesome, and they're numerous enough to match basically any subject.

Here are the podcasts I've been listening to lately:

With each podcast mentioned, I'll recommend an episode to listen to that I particularly enjoyed.

Writing Podcasts

I wanted to mention the writing podcasts upfront because not everyone that reads websites like mine are writers, but those that are might appreciate quick ways to jump right into some advice. My two biggest recommendations, however, aren't really that surprising.

I Should Be Writing
A podcast by the famous Mur Lafferty, this podcast makes things very personal. Mur is a writer on a journey, just like the rest of us, and while she often offers advice from her (at this point 10 years of) experience, you also often get what she's personally going through at the time. These talks are often for her as much as they are for you, which can be helpful. Hearing from someone in the thick of things can often mean more than hearing from someone who's only speaking in the abstract. Seriously, dude, you need to check her podcast out.

Myke Cole is an inspiration to writers everywhere. His work ethic is second to none, and he's just a very humble, very inspiring person to listen to.

Writing Excuses
Less personal than ISBW, what this podcast lacks in intimacy it makes up for with hugely entertaining and diverse hosts. Brandon Sanderson, Howard Taylor, Dan Wells, and Mary Robinette Kowall all write vastly different ways and in vastly different genres. Hearing each of their takes on weekly topics can be really helpful in breaking up the writer's block or trying a new way of spicing your writing up.

You should check out all the archives for sure, but if I had to pick just one, it was a toss-up. This series of episodes features the cast walking through different ways of critiquing rough drafts of stories. Hearing the different processes and how they approach editing and revising is very useful. --There's also spoilers for the pick up the anthology to read first.--

Fiction Podcasts

Are you hankering for fiction, but you don't have the money to drop on expensive audiobooks? Dude, I got you covered.

The Escape Pod Family

This doesn't really fit into one suggestion because all three podcasts--Escape Pod, Podcastle, and Pseudopod--are part of the same podcasting company, but they also don't fit into one space either, because each podcast is independent of the other. I mean, you don't have to listen to one to listen to the others.

Pseudopod - For Horror Fiction
I actually found Pseudopod first, gobbling up basically the entire backlog of stories on my way to work each morning for several months because, as I may have mentioned in the past, I love, love LOVE horror. When I ran out of those, I started checking into the other podcasts as well.

Pseudopod 340: Neighborhood Watch, by Greg Egan, read by Ron Jon Newton
This is a great story, it's true. Very clever way of playing with narration. But my GOD is the reader great. He puts a special oomph into this story that takes the already very good story and pushes it into something AMAZING. I listened to this one a couple of times because I loved Newton's performance so much.

Escape Pod - For Science Fiction
I found Escape Pod second. Something about the guitar-heavy, surfer-rock intro just hooked me in. And, like all Escape Pod podcasts, the stories were pretty great.

Interesting thing about this podcast--and Podcastle--is that they include feedback at the end of each episode, something that Pseudopod doesn't do.

Escape Pod 432: Inappropriate Behavior, by Pat Murphy, read by MJ Cogburn
This was a fascinating story. The narrator did a great job conveying the confusion of the character. Telling the story from someone who wasn't neurotypical, but wasn't crazy and violent ala Edgar Allan Poe, was a huge fresh take on point-of-view. The cognitive dissonance between what we understood to be going on and what the main character thought was very, very interesting.

Podcastle - For Fantasy Fiction
This is a podcast that runs some fascinating stories. Honestly, it's sort of a dream of mine to get something published on one of these three podcasts because they run cool, awesome stories. The tone of this podcast is a bit more mellow in the intros and outros, which was a little jarring at first. The other two have somewhat heavier, rock-sounding intros. This one is all flutes and breeze sounds and at first I was through for a loop. The host has a softer sound, and the way he outros each story, it almost feels like you're coming out of a meditation. And it's great because of that.

PodCastle 324: Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy, by Saladin Ahmed, read by Steve Anderson
I had such a hard time picking a favorite for this one. They have run so many good episodes: Enginesong (A Rondeau), Stranger vs. The Malevolent Malignancy, Gazing Into The Carnauba Wax Eyes Of The Future...seriously, they run so many good podcasts it's unbelievable. I went with 324 because Saladin Ahmed takes an old, racist fantasy poem, and infuses it with new life by flipping it on its head. He also does an amazing job creating a character that broke my goddamned heart.

Welcome to Night Vale
Imagine that you could listen in on the local public radio station of a town set in a desert community encountering the sort of problems that Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft write about. This is the podcast for you. It's weird, it's quirky, it's amazing.

No recommended episode. Start on episode one and listen all the way to now. DO IT! DO IT!

General Podcasts

Two more and I'll call it quits. These are general podcasts.

Cracked Podcast
It almost feels cliche to say that, but if you like the informative but also educational tone of the Cracked articles, the podcast is more of that. I'm not going to link to a specific episode. Just pick one at random and jump in. Each episode is its own thing, and they cover such a diverse array of topics, it's easier to find one of your own suiting by just looking and picking.

Stuff Mom Never Told You
Good lord, y'all. This podcast is frequent, so you better hope you have time to keep up with them because they are hella prolific with their podcasting. But these Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin research topics very well, and it is absolutely incredible how many diverse topics they cover, and how they still bring it back to what it means for women nowadays. There are so many things that affect women that I didn't realize. And they're very funny, and they have great chemistry together. Similar to Cracked, it's easier to just go to their website, pick a topic, and jump in.

I hope you find something you enjoy. If you do, and you want to talk about it, let me know in the comments!