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Si, and I like potatoes.
We consumed some media this weekend:

1. Captain America: Civil War. This tiny indy character piece does a nice job of establishing two friends as antagonists (both driven by different forms of grief), without making either into a villain. More importantly, while it's got plot holes aplenty, it's infinitely better than the flaming heap of dog shit that was Mark Millar's comic series. It has at least a couple of truly wonderful moments, and it has the first Spider-Man I've given a shit about since the original Raimi film. There's also a wonderful moment right at the very end in which Black Panther undercuts and takes the piss out of one of my least favorite recent movie and TV villain tropes (not going spoilery yet -- I might make a longer post later).

2. Sisters. Grabbed this from the library, and was genuinely surprised by how funny it was. It's an inversion of the classic party movie (think House Party or Can't Hardly Wait), this time with the party being held by a bunch of forty-somethings, all of whom have kids and stable lives now. The entire cast is brilliant (I mean, when Poehler and Fey are your stars, and you have Maya Rudolph, Diane Wiest, Bobby Moynahan, and James Brolin, you know you'll get some great moments). Moynahan nearly steals the movie in the second half, but pretty much everyone here is wonderful and the chemistry between all the characters is great. If you want a plot, it's this: Fey an Poehler play sisters whose parents are selling their childhood home, and while cleaning out their room, they decide to throw one last party, this time allowing Poehler (the "good" sister who was always sober at parties) to cut loose. All hell eventually breaks loose. Oh, and it has John Cena being surprisingly funny in some scenes. Kind of like the next film.

3. Trainwreck. This was a fun movie that should have been a good half hour shorter, and was frankly probably a little overrated. There were a ton of great comedy bits, but at times, it got so lost in the comedy that the characters just didn't work (specifically, there's just no reason to believe the love story at the center of the film). Yes, it subverts and reverses the male/female romantic comedy roles, but so did Pitch Perfect (which did so much better, and happens to have been directed by the same person who did Sisters). The best roles are almost always given to the athletes here, as not only does Cena do some great stuff early on (there's a sex scene between him and Poehler that's painfully funny), but Lebron James and Amar'e Stoudemire also get some great opportunities to shine. The big issue, as with a lot of comedies, is that it has trouble balancing finding some heart and doing zany stuff, and the decision was made to throw everything into the final edit, which just got overburdened. Still worth a view, but definitely the weakest of the three films we saw.
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I'm even more behind on closing tabs than normal, but there's a lot of good stuff online these days:

Books and literature:

As some of you might remember, I wrote for Bookslut a good decade ago. The site, which remained interesting through its entire run, is closing, and Boris Kachka has a good interview with Jessa Crispin at Vulture about the end.

At The Spinoff, freelance editor Stephen Stratford, tells some great (or appalling, but wonderfully-told) stories of his time in the editing trenches.

Sex:

In An Exegesis on Spanking Fetishists, Jessica Gross interviews Jillian Keenan on a huge range of topics, many of them centered around Keenan's exploration of her fetish, the line between fetish and kink, and lot of other issues. TW both for mention of a specific sexual assault in Keenan's life, and for general discussion of the basic fact that spanking children is abuse (and specifically the fact that it's a form of sexual abuse).

And Charlotte Shane (who may be the best example of folks whose TinyLetters are being turned into books, as Jessa discusses in the Bookslut piece) has a piece railing Against the Cult of Pussy Eaters.

Food:

Nicholas Hune-Brown at Slate writes about how AllRecipes represents a much better look at the typical house's eating habits than foodie-obsessed blogs or sites like Epicurious. On the one hand, that's a pretty obvious and hardly new sentiment, but it's a good look at how much people (yours truly included) rely on sites like AR.

I can't imagine anyone hasn't seen it, but just in case, here's Laura Reiley's huge piece at TampaBay.com on the utter lies about the origins of your food at so many "farm to table" restaurants. Do not think for a second that this is a Tampa-specific thing.

Other:

This old but fantastic piece by Chris Jones in Esquire is a great account of Teller (of "Penn and" fame) a stolen magic trick, and the impact such theft has on the industry as a whole. I find it even more interesting because of how copyright and patent law applies different here than in other areas (computer programming, for example, where reverse engineering things is often the norm). For folks who want closure on the lawsuit itself, here's a rather dry follow-up.

Rebecca Greenfield and Kim Bhasin at Bloomberg examine how Adore Me and similar clubs are basically replicating Columbia House-style rip-offs. Having seen my daughter taken for three or four months of bogus charges when Big Fish pulled a similar scam, it's definitely something that gets my hackles up.

Buzzfeed has an excellent piece on The Secret History Of The Photo At The Center Of The Black Confederate Myth by Adam Serwer.

And finally, Anna Weiner's Uncanny Valley is simply the best thing I've ever read about working at a Silicon Valley startup, bar none.
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I'm reading David Graeber's generally excellent* The Utopia of Rules, and it's reminded me of a pet peeve of mine with much of the publishing industry.

Folks, I do not give a flying fuck what your style guide, your academic advisor, or anyone else says. If you have notes appended to the text that are digressions, additive text, anecdotes, or anything other than basic bibliographic information, they should be fucking footnotes. Period. Maybe, if you've got really short chapters, you can get away with using end-of-chapter notes. But fucking endnotes? Fuck that shit. Your work of pop academia is not a fucking Choose Your Own Adventure, and my reading experience should not include keeping my finger inserted between pages 234-235 so I can flip back and forth every time you want to make an aside.

I realize this is likely a publisher issue as much as anything else (and probably not the author's fault), but it is so fucking annoying. Usability is a concept that applies everywhere, not just in technology (where, incidentally, this is less of an issue generally, since services like Kindle can handle moving between notes and text gracefully).

*Although anyone who writes "ATM Machine" repeatedly deserves a solid whack with an LCD display.
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I have tabs. They need closing and sharing.

1. Dan Lyons -- of Fake Steve Jobs fame -- was fired from NewsWeek a couple of years ago, and went to work marketing for glorified spam firm Hubspot, where he realized that all the cliches about startup culture were true. Mind you, I'm a fan of at least one thing he criticizes (walking meetings -- they can be damned useful, and not just when scripted by Aaron Sorkin), but some of the stuff discussed is horrifying (note that this is an excerpt from an upcoming book, so is lighter on details than you might expect). The coda -- that two HubSpot execs were fired (or quit before they could be fired) when they attempted to use possibly-illegal means to stop the book from getting published -- will likely lead to another fascinating read one day.

2. Buzzfeed, which has been on fire lately, especially with their Reader section, manages to make me care about something I'd never thought I'd care about: How Jennifer Garner Went Full “Minivan Majority”, by Anne Helen Petersen.

2.5 Other great things from Buzzfeed lately include a breathtaking story by Helen Oyeyemi, a fascinating by Sarah Weinman on one of the country's first mass-shootings, and a heartbreaking piece by Ian Carlos Crawford on finding a friend (and former lover) dead.

3. Patrick Klepek writes a piece interviewing the people who upload torrents. This one's more a medium than a long read, but is still interesting (although I'd love to get a sense from folks who torrent in other areas than just video games).

4. Sponsored content (content co-produced by an editorial group for advertising purposes) is a longtime thing in journalism, and the results aren't necessarily qualitatively bad (Slate and GE, for example, gave us The Message, a genuinely engrossing science fictions serial podcast). But Jacob Silverman's essay on the process at The Atlantic (which has a bad track record there to begin with, as he notes) definitely makes it sound ugly.

5. I am more terrible at the game of go than I am even at chess, but this article by Melissa Hillman at Quartz analyzing the games Google's AlphaGo played in its famous match earlier this year is fascinating nonetheless.

Bonus: It's not a longread at all, but here's Hannah Keyser at Deadspin on why butter crocks are a crock of bullshit.
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With fans clearly craving more, and a renewal imminent, I've managed to get a copy of the TV Guide descriptions the six episodes featured in 2017's Season 11 of The X-Files

S11E1 "Renewals" You liked Lauren Ambrose? We're upping the Six Feet Underness of the show by adding Mathew St. Patrick! You know, Keith, the only black character from that show? Yep, after twenty years, the X-Files finally has black character who isn't an alien. Or do we? Oh, wait, we forgot about Kersh, but don't worry, we totally won't make St. Patrick a one-note character just there to be hated. You have our word! Oh, and we gave this episode a snappy title that could be meta. You like that, right?

S11E2 "Jose Chung's Back to the Well." This one has everything! D&D references, men in black, surprise celebrity cameos (you kids still think Dean Cain's a big deal, right?), metatextual BS, and Mulder masturbating to a Sasquatch. A real live one, not a video.

S11E3 "Cotton-Eyed Joe" Mulder convinces Scully to investigate a series of weddings that are getting called off at the last minute. Scully suggests that this is just fucking normal in the 21st century, but her foolish female skepticism is once again shattered, as they encounter a mysterious being whose "smile was his gun." They eventually solve the case by visiting genius.com and finding the secret messages in a Rednex song.

S11E4 "Chinchilabeast." Chinchillas. One of the few creatures that hasn't been the subject of an episode yet. Also, this will be the episode with the transphobic jokes shoehorned into an otherwise entertaining episode.

S11E5 "Phoning It In" Shit, I don't know. There are some bees, and the Cigarette-Smoking Man working with yet another unexpected traitor (spoiler: Doggett), and maybe someone with with awkward social skills who seems monstrous but turns out to just be protecting something else and it all ends in tragedy?

S11E6 "My Struggle III" Mulder just says "fuck it," rips off his mask, and reveals that he's Adolph Hitler, just like Hate-Monger did decades ago. The remainder of the 42 minutes is just Chris Carter curled up in a ball, sobbing and shouting, "why couldn't I get Vince Gilligan back?" As the show fades to black, we see the words "to be continued." You try to leave your house, but opening the door leads to an impenetrable void. You are trapped, forever, just like Carter.
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If you somehow don't have them, Amazon's doing a one-day sale on the complete Buffy for $49.99 (75%off), and the complete Angel for $39.99 (71% off). That's about $7 a season for Buffy and under $8 a season for Angel.
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There's not a lot I can add. But a few things:

picture behind the cutCollapse )
That revenge shitting was really bad. If you took Bash in a cat carrier in the car, he'd meow in protest, then shit in protest. Every trip to MSPCA for his eye herpes also ended with the docs needing to clean him off.

We thought they might have gotten his age wrong when we first got him. He was so damned playful. Obviously, they were right, alas.

He ate pork. When Elayna would eat pork tenderloin for dinner, she'd cut off the edges, and Bash would have a fucking feast eating the scraps.

And as recently as last week, when we got a Star Wars cat teaser toy, he was happy to chase and attack it.

Here's what I wrote on Facebook yesterday:

"Murder Cat, aka Bash, aka Count Sebastian Ampersand Vorcattigan, passed away at the age of 15. For all his malice (most often manifested when he'd chew on people's hair), he was as loved a cat as there was, and even often loving himself. We adopted him as a twelve-year-old who still acted like a kitten, and he gave us three wonderful years. We'll miss him so damned much."

Originally posted by shadesong at RIP Murder Cat
In early 2013, we had no intention of getting another cat. We'd lost Jack the previous August; then we lost Victoria in February.

And then newly-solo Max started caterwauling all night, every night, out of sheer loneliness. He needed a buddy. We weren't ready, but we saddled up and went out, on my birthday, to acquire a cat from the MSPCA.

His original name was Bunz. Yes. Ridiculous. We first called him Ampersand, then Sebastian, which went straight to Bash. And, later, Murder Cat. And Jerkface. Because omg was he a trick cat. Kitten-playful and sweet in the shelter, but, well, a Murder Cat at home.

He was 12 when we adopted him. Everyone was like "Are you sure?" Yes, we were; at the time, we were thinking of him as a companion for then-17-year-old Max, and this was before Max's kidney disease diagnosis, so we thought a few years together as buddies would be good. Average Maine Coon life expectancy is 12-15, and he was going to be an indoor cat; Siamese can live to 20. It was a good bet. But Max took ill that summer, and died right after Thanksgiving.

And Bash? Oh, Bash. Bash was a revenge shitter, a nervous traveller, a biter of hair and arms, trouble all the way down. Bash had a bump on his chin - $600 of tests later we found out it was acne. Bash got eye herpes. EYE HERPES. We shuttled him back and forth to the veterinary opthalmologist for months. We medicated him multiple times a day. He fuckin' hated that. We all have scars. He started shit with the other animals we eventually acquired. He swatted at Nicky and chased Whisper. He pissed on my bed. He ate every piece of plastic that entered the house. He was a giant furry asshole.

But he made this sweet "murr" sound whenever you touched him. And he had the world's floofiest belly and gigantic paws and that stunning ruff. And he would let me - for brief amounts of time - pick him up and snuggle him in my arms like a baby, tummy exposed. And he had a mighty purr, and loved it when we had company - he would walk right up to any guest and regally demand to be worshiped. Which the guest always did, because he was a beauty, and he *would* be sweet before he bit you. He's the first cat my toddler niece ever met, and she fell in love with him.

And she won't remember him.

Bash seemed fine last week. He acted totally normal when Sioban and Emily came over for dinner on Wednesday, I remember that. Emily took selfies with him. He demanded petting from Sioban.

During Arisia this weekend, Elayna noticed that he wasn't eating.

We made an appointment for Wednesday late afternoon, because it's the first time we could - we can't leave Nicky unattended in the cone (which comes off tomorrow), and Wednesday's the vet's only open-late day. We thought maybe arthritis had dimmed his appetite. Maybe cancer. Oh, Bash, getting expensive again.

He stayed under the dining room table all day yesterday. I kept checking on him. At 1:00, I saw he was having difficulty breathing; I texted Adam "Can you get home earlier today? I'm really worried about him." I hit send.

And Bash cried out, and I ran to him and scooped him up in that baby-snuggle position, and he left. Instantly.

We were bracing ourselves for Nicky, with that risky surgery. We've been joking that Bash is too mean to die. At the very least, we figured he'd put us through a protracted illness.

No one expected this. We're still in shock. The girl-cats knew; Nicky is just distressed because he can tell everyone else is.

Bash was an asshole cat. I used to look at him, shake my head, and say "I don't love you."

And then I would lean in and whisper "actually i do love you, don't tell anyone, it's a secret."
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My schedule for Arisia (where I’m thankfully not as over-scheduled as I’ve been in the past) coming up on MLK weekend. As always, I’m hoping to spend plenty of the con in the gaming room, and will hope to see folks throughout the weekend.

Friday

5:30PM Supergirl!

Although not (as of yet) connected to the rest of the TV DC Universe, the new Supergirl show is both a hit, and a blast to watch. We’ll talk about the first half-season of the show, what it means to have a positive female hero on the small screen as a headliner, and how the creators are reinterpreting a familiar mythos through an amazing new lens. We’ll also discuss the verve Melissa Benoist brings to the title role, and the dual roles played so well by Laura Benanti.
Gordon Linzner (m), Crystal Huff, Sharon Sbarsky, Adam Lipkin, Cassandra Lease

10PM

Wait, That’s Not in the Sci-Fi Section!

A look at the NYT bestseller list clearly shows a lot of genre work that isn’t being marketed as science fiction of fantasy. David Mitchell has never been called an SF writer; Ben Winters has won the Edgar Award for his SF, yet we don’t hear about him in genre circles. The lack of labels can help these authors find mainstream success, but how can we find out about genre work that’s not marketed as such?
Walt Williams, Mark W. Richards, David G. Shaw, Adam Lipkin (m)

Sunday

10AM

DC Comics 1985 to 1995: A Decade of Epic Change
For ten years at DC Comics decisions were made and books were published that would redefine what mainstream comics were capable of. Crisis on Infinite Earths brought us the reboot. Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns gave us the “grim and gritty” aesthetic. The debuts of Swamp Thing, Hellblazer and Sandman helped establish the Vertigo line. Our panelists will discuss this decade and how it could affect comics in the future.
Glenn Hauman, Ken Gale, Adam Lipkin (m), Alisa Kwitney Sheckley, Joey Peters

1PM

Arisia Curmudgeon Panel 2: Curmudgeon Harder!
Last year, we told you why things that “everyone” loves, from Middle Earth to Star Wars, from Gaiman to Whedon, suck. But one panel wasn’t enough time for all the loathing we feel. This year, expect more vitriol, snark, and actual media criticism at this wide-ranging panel.
Pablo Miguel Alberto Vazquez, Mark Oshiro (m), Shira Lipkin, Adam Lipkin
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1. Kingdom of Loathing: Since I took my hiatus, KOL started doing yearly rewards for standard ascensions (with limited access to old content while in Ronin, similar to the way M:TG runs things). So I've now completed my first standard (as in, not hardcore or a challenge path) ascension since maybe 2010? It's fascinating, because things like pulling items from Hangks are so not on my radar, it's harder than HC is. But I'm enjoying it, and will be doing all six standard paths (and then doing each in HC, since there are separate yearly rewards there).

2. Marvel Puzzle Quest: They just introduced a Champions mechanic for maxed-out characters, and I'm liking it so far (even if its cost me all my spare ISO-8). Once a character's a champion, you can rejigger their powers at any time (which means that for Black Panther, for example, I was able to finally get him to five levels in his best power without waiting for that last cover), and each cover you use to level them once they're a champion gets you a prize. I snagged Legendary tokens that in turn got me Nick Fury, Jean Grey, and Professor X covers today, and my Fury is finally strong enough that he was able to win the Legendary mission today (which then got me a 4* Deadpool). So yeah, really enjoying it, and now I have a lot more incentive to scrap for ISO again.

3. Neko Atsume: I have pictures of every cat but Sassy Fran. Dammit.

4. Plants vs Zombies 2. I'm at level 27 on Vasebreaker Endless. Woohoo! I basically just play Vasebreaker and the daily challenge. I still haven't won the actual "game." If they ever offer I, Zombie for PvZ2, though, I'm totally there.

5. Lara Croft Go. I beat both the original levels and the expansion, which means I could delete it from my iPad. As with The Room 3, this is an amazing puzzle game, but at over a gig of space, took up too much room to keep on the device permanently. But I highly recommend it if you've got some spare iTunes credit.

6. Disgaea 5: Haven't had a chance to play on the PS4 in ages, alas, but I'm about 3/5 of the way through the main game, and loving it.
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