This post contains spoilers.

Pop Culture

Ok, so that title is a lie. I’m not here to spoil any major plot points for you today. However, I do want to talk about spoilers today.

I’ve been thinking about spoilers because I recently finished the audiobook of Allegiant by Veronica Roth. For those of you who have been living under a rock, Allegiant is the third and final book in Roth’s Divergent series. When Allegiant first came out, there was talk around the bookish internet, particularly among those who read and review YA, about the huge spoiler that takes place at the end of the book. Personally, I’m someone who tends to prefer to avoid spoilers of books (and movies and TV shows) I think I’m going to consume at some point (In case you were wondering, I might look up spoilers if it’s not something I think I’ll ever want to invest time in). In the case of Allegiant, however, the ending was spoiled by mistake and without my permission. I was leaving a movie theater after a viewing of Catching Fire, and a young woman was yelling into her phone about Allegiant and the spoiler that occurs. I really wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, but the conversation was hard to tune out. So I left the movie theater annoyed that this random stranger had spoiled a book for me. Annoyed because she was loudly yelling into her cell phone (a pet peeve of mine) outside a movie theater that was clearly playing a movie that attracted audiences similar to the book you were spoiling (shouldn’t be too hard to figure out that maybe some of those folks were planning on reading Allegiant and didn’t want to be spoiled…because duh). But you know what? I got over it. She doesn’t/didn’t know me, didn’t know I didn’t want to be spoiled, and didn’t owe me anything.

I take the following attitude towards spoilers:

If I don’t want to be spoiled for something, it’s on me to avoid them.
This might mean staying away areas of the internet where I might accidently come across a spoiler or politely ask those I’m talking to that I don’t want to be spoiled. I think it’s polite of people to ask questions like “have you read this?” and “Do you want to be spoiled?” But, I don’t think anyone is under any obligation to do so.

If a spoiler “ruins” the book/movie/TV show for you, the problem is the book/movie/TV show, not the fact you know the spoiler.
Let’s say you get accidently spoiled for something. I think that if that thing hinges on the spoiler you accidently learned, it probably wasn’t that well written anyway.

There’s a difference between a spoiler and a content/trigger warning.
Some people are survivors of horrible things, such as sexual assault, childhood abuse, etc. For folks like this, certain things (like scene of sexual assault) may be triggering or otherwise harmful. And you don’t always know whether this is true of someone – even someone you consider a close friend may not have disclosed this information to you. If the media you’re talking about contains something you think might trigger someone in certain instances, I think it’s not only ok but incredibly important to say something along the lines of “I wanted to let you know that there’s a rape scene in this book. I wanted to make sure you were aware going in, just in case that’s something that might bother you.” By phrasing it in this way, you’re not “spoiling” which character(s) are involved or under what circumstances while also alerting the person you’re talking to that there’s something potentially harmful in the plot.

I’d like to end this post with a few questions for you: how do you feel about spoilers? Do you intentionally look them up? Avoid them? Do you think people who have a conversation in public have any obligation to the people who might accidently overhear their conversation?

0 comments

Confessions of a comic book newbie: three things I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know.

Books, Comics

I’ve been reading comics off and on for several years now, but I still consider myself a bit of a newbie. Mostly because I haven’t been reading them consistently. I thought it’d be fun to periodically talk about comics here….because why not? Since I’m still getting the hang of how comics work, today I want o talk about three things I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know about comics until relatively recently.

  • Pull lists are a thing.
    I had no idea what a pull list was the first time I set foot in a comic book shop. I thought that you had to show up every Wednesday and hope that the issue(s) you wanted hadn’t been sold out. If you couldn’t make it into the shop on Wednesday, you were screwed, I thought. Imagine my surprise to learn that you could request titles in advance! And your shop would hold them for you! And doing this could help keep a struggling series afloat!
  • Trades are also a thing.
    There was this one time a few years ago when I decided I really wanted to read the New 52 run of Wonder Woman. By that point, there was already a ton of issues out and I thought I’d have to buy each issue individually. Because I didn’t realize that trades were a thing that exists. So I went to the comic book shop prepared to take my chances and spend quite a bit of money. The shop ended up having many, but not all, the issues that were out. When I took the issues I could find to the counter, the very helpful employee I encountered said, “you know, there’s a trade of this over there.” And pointed to a shelf on the wall opposite from where I’d been looking. Whoops. My mind was blown.
  • Don’t have access to a comic book shop? Not enough space? Digital comics can help with that.
    You guys. It wasn’t until very recently that I even discovered that things like Comixology and Marvel Unlimited even existed. And while these services have their limitations (I think buying comics a la carte from Comixology can get expensive – I feel that there should be some discount on buying a comic digitally; Marvel Unlimited’s selection is obviously limited to Marvel comics), they make it possible to read comics if you don’t have access to a comic book shop or a place to store physical comics.

What are some of the things about comics that took you time to figure out?

0 comments

Confessions of a comic book newbie: I have no idea whether I like the art in comics

Books, Comics

One of the things I’m always ashamed to admit is that I have no idea how to talk about art – whether it be the art in comics or elsewhere. I just don’t have a lot of experience talking about art in general and I mostly lack the appropriate tools to discuss them.

And I’m finding that because I don’t know how to talk about art, I’ve gotten really overwhelmed by it. One of my coping mechanisms for things that overwhelm me is to not think about it. And when I don’t think about something, I’m not going to actively find a way of rectifying the situation. See where this is going?

So instead of looking at comic book art, I’m mostly ignoring it – choosing instead to focus on the story.

Let’s take Ms. Marvel for example. I absolutely love that Kamala Khan is a Pakistani-American Muslim teen. This might be the YA lover in me, but I totally appreciate her struggles to fit in. I’ll probably be cheering for her in that regard to my last breath. Despite my love of the story, I have no fucking idea whether I like the art in Ms. Marvel or not. Well, I mostly have no idea. I’ve seen some people comment that they don’t care for the art in Ms. Marvel. So I went beck and read the first two Ms. Marvel trades (having only previously read it in single issues). And you know what? I found myself thinking, “yeah, I guess I can see what these folks are saying….” But you know what? I had to stop myself. I went into that reading of Ms. Marvel with those comments in mind, which is never a good idea if I’m wanting to form my own opinion about something. In a situation like this, I can’t be sure if I would have come to this conclusion on my own or not.

The truth is that when it comes to comics, I read the test on the page and largely ignore the art. I mean, I look at the art to the extent that it helps tell the story, but I put zero thought into what I do and don’t like about the art. Does that make sense? And I know – I know – I’m doing it wrong but I have no idea how to change this habit.

Help me internet: how can I fix this issue?

0 comments

What reading science fiction taught me about historical fiction

Pop Culture

Ok, folks, I’m about to admit to something I’m not proud of. There was a time when I would look down on people who read historical fiction. Ok, that’s not completely accurate: I didn’t care if someone would read historical fiction purely for its entertainment value. What would bug me would be the people who’d read a work of historical fiction and then go on about how much they learned about something simply by reading this one novel.

Fiction – historical or otherwise – is first and foremost fiction, I reasoned. It’s made up; it isn’t real. Just because a novel is based on historical events doesn’t make it factually accurate. For the longest time, I’d be annoyed with people who insisted they learned something about a historical event because they read historical fiction.

And then I discovered science fiction.

I’d been watching science fiction on television and in films for a while, but until this year, I hadn’t really read much science fiction aside from the random dystopia or post-apocalyptic novel.

I should take a moment to explain that math and science really aren’t my forte. In fact, I’m pretty hopeless when it comes to the academic study of either discipline. Conversely, I’m much more comfortable with history. I’m not a historian or any sort of historical expert by any stretch. But, I have been known to read works of historical non-fiction – including works that others might find dry or boring – and enjoy every minute of it.

My lack of scientific background is part of what draws me to science fiction. I may be ignorant when it comes to science (what I like to call “science stupid”), but I’m interested in learning more. Because I don’t have a scientific background, I’m overwhelmed by the prospect of picking up a non-fiction text about science. I’m not even sure I’d understand it even if I did. So what’s someone like me to do?

For me, I feel like reading science fiction has helped a lot. I don’t expect the science in my science fiction to always be absolutely correct. It is, after all, fiction. But science fiction has made it possible for me to get my toes wet in a fun, less intimidating way. And maybe, as some point, I’ll give non-fiction about science a try.

My experience with science fiction has got me thinking about historical fiction. What if some of the folks reading historical fiction are people who don’t have a background in history? What if reading non-fiction about history intimidates them the same way non-fiction about science intimidates me?

I think I’ve officially developed a new appreciation for historical fiction. One of the great things about books, I think, is their ability to meet you where you are. I still want to remind you that while reading fiction is great, reading The Other Boleyn Girl doesn’t make you an expert on Anne Boleyn any more than my reading The Martian makes me an expert on space travel. I believe that everyone should be able to read what they want. I just also think it’s important to think critically about what you’re reading.

0 comments

Three things I loved about Sailor Moon season three

Televison

To recap a few things: I’m recently watched the original Sailor Moon anime for the first time. That’s right – I wasn’t subjected to the English dub that aired in the States in the 1990s. I’ve heard various things about the dub (and undoubtedly so have you), but since I haven’t seen it, I can’t comment. I have yet to see any of Sailor Moon Crystal and the first arch is pretty much all the manga I read. I started watching Sailor Moon because I was interested in trying out some anime, I didn’t know much, and Sailor Moon was something I’d heard of.

Since I recently finished season three of the original anime (also known as Sailor Moon S), I wanted to talk about three things I loved about the season.

  1. Meeting the Outer Senshi.
    I’m not going to lie: this was something I’d really been looking forward to. We were introduced to Sailor Pluto in season two, but didn’t see much of her. Not only did we get more of her in season three, but we were introduced to Sailors Uranus, Neptune and Saturn. While it’s never explicitly stated, Uranus and Neptune are pretty obviously lesbian lovers and a very welcome addition to the show. The Outer Senshi has a very different approach to fighting the bad guys and were an interesting juxtaposition to the Inner Senshi.
  2. Chibi-Usa was far less annoying.
    Of the three seasons I’ve seen so far, the second has been my least favorite. I think Chibi-Usa is the primary reason I disliked season two. I just found her really annoying – perhaps because I don’t really like little kids? So when Chibi-Usa returned for season three, I was kind of bummed at first, but was pleasantly surprised when she didn’t annoy me. In fact, I enjoyed her as Sailor Chibi-Moon. I don’t know if I found her less annoying because she grew on me or if the character has grown. Also, it seemed like she had less screen time in season three than season two, though I don’t know if that’s accurate or just my perception. And can I just say that her relationship with Sailor Pluto is really sweet?
  3. The villains of season three could be hilarious.
    I loved that Mimete was obsess with celebrities. It amused me that every time the Sailor Senshi defeated one of the witches, a handwritten sign would appear on their door indicating how many witches were left.

Which season of Sailor Moon is your favorite and why?

0 comments

In Pop Culture, There’s Always A line

Pop Culture

We can all pretty much agree that pop culture is a complicated beast, right? Unless you’re a hermit who lives in a cave and has no contact with the outside world (in which case you wouldn’t be reading this), you’re going to be exposed to pop culture. Whether we want to admit to it or not, pop culture impacts our lives. It’s easy to dismiss all TV or all films or whatever we don’t like as trash, but I don’t think it’s that simple. Pop culture gives us insight into who we are and the world we live in.

What I like about magazines like Bitch is that it takes an element of pop culture – a movie, a television show, whatever – and examines it through a feminist lens. I credit Bitch with awakening my critical eye when it comes to pop culture.

What I really want to talk about here is how pop culture is neither entirely good nor entirely bad. It operates in a grey area. Regardless of how much we like a particular pop culture artifact, it’s bound to have at least one (probably more) negative element to it. And I think it’s important to constantly be aware of that. It’s important to be able o accept that something you love is flawed. Enjoying a flawed pop culture artifact doesn’t make you a bad person; being able to see those flaws and a willingness to discuss ways it could be better make you a smart person. No matter how much I enjoy the Harry Potter books or the Buffy The Vampire Slayer television series, there’s no denying that both have some pretty serious issues.

We each draw a line somewhere. On one side of the line are things we’re willing to overlook (ok, “overlook” is probably not the right word for me to use here, but it’s the best I’m able to come up with) in order to enjoy pop culture. On the other side of the line are things we’re not willing to accept under any circumstance. Some of us might be able to compromise. For example, we might be willing to accept depictions of x, but only if y and z are also present. It’s like we agree to accept the bad as long as we get something we feel important a long with it.

As for me, I’m not entirely sure where I draw the line between what I think is acceptable and what I think is unacceptable. I do know that a pop culture artifact has to give me a really compelling reason to like it, something truly amazing to get me to enjoy it for what it is.

0 comments

Comic pull list, 08 October 2016

Books, Comics
Comic haul, 08 October 2016

Comic haul, 08 October 2016

Aren’t they beautiful? I’m so looking forward to reading these suckers.


You guys. I finally set up a pull list at my local comic shop on the eighth of October. And it’s a doozy of a list. To be honest, I’m not sure if I’m going to stick with all the titles on my list. This is my first ever pull list and I may have gone over board. I like to think that I’m testing the waters to figure out what works for me.

When I was in the comic shop setting up my pull list, I also picked up the following comics:

  • The Backstagers #2
  • Cage! #1
  • Faith #4
  • Jessica Jones #1
0 comments

Stranger Things is happening!

Televison
Stranger Things

It’s hardly a secret that I have a hard time keeping up with current shows on network TV. I usually prefer to focus on a show or two and watch it either via a streaming service or on DVD. I had been watching a lot of superhero shows (Agents of SHIELD, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Arrow, etc) and as much as I’m looking forward to watching Luke Cage, I think I need to take a break from the genre so I don’t burn out. In the meantime, I think I’ll give Stranger Things a go.

Things I know about Stranger Things:

  • Winona Ryder is in it.
  • It’s set in the 1980s, perhaps 1984?
  • Creepy government experiments.
  • Creepy kid.
  • Missing kid.

For as popular as Stranger Things seems to be, I’m really glad I haven’t really been exposed to spoilers. I’ll certainly be talking about this show on Twitter. What I’m trying to decide is how I want to talk about the show here. Do an episode by episode review? Or just talk about the whole season when I finish? Thoughts?

How would you prefer I discuss TV shows here?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
0 comments

Comic pull list, September 2016

Books, Comics
Comics purchased in September 2016

Looking forward to trying out these comics.

Ok, so I don’t officially have a pull list set up at a comic book shop. Yet. I’ve been wanting to set up a pull list at a local comic shop for ages, but have been nervous to do so. For those unaware, comic shops have a reputation for not being the most welcoming of female (or female presenting) customers. So I’ve been nervous to walk into a comic shop and ask. Fortunately, my fears were assuaged when I walked into Atomic City Comics here in Philadelphia. The staff was not only friendly, but it looks like at least some of their employees are women. This was encouraging: if comic shop that’s willing to hire women, to me that says that they’re committed to making the space welcoming to female customers. At least, that’s what I’m hoping for.

Anyway, I spoke to a friendly employee about setting up a pull list. Sadly for me, they wanted a deposit. Which is understandable, but I didn’t have enough money on me to both pay for the comics I wanted to buy that day and give them a deposit. But I’ll definitely be going back very soon with enough money for the deposit.

For now, let me tell you what I picked up when I was there:

Single issues

  • Backstagers, The #1
  • Bitch Planet #8
  • Faith #1-#3

Trades

  • Jem and the Holograms vol 3

And that’s it. I’m thinking I’ll do some sort of monthly post of the comics I picked up that month, so look forward to future updates.

0 comments

LootWear, Sock edition – September 2016

Subscriptions
LootCrate logo
LootSocks - September 2016 edition

LootSocks – September 2016 edition

It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for subscription boxes – services where you pay a monthly fee and receive a mystery box on your doorstep. I have a knack for signing up for things and ending up with a lot of crap that I won’t ever use. Fortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case here. I signed up for LootWear from LootCrate, or more specifically the sock edition, because I was looking to acquire some nerdy socks to wear around the house. I’ve gotten to packages from them so far and haven’t been disappointed. Pictured above is what I received in September – a pair of Deadpool socks and a pair of Sonic the Hedgehog socks. Of the two, I think I prefer the former, but I’m sure I’ll get some use out of the Sonic socks as well. Assuming I continue to be happy with this service, I’ll probably add LootTees to my pile of subscription services.

0 comments