Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Dejah Thoris in London

Posted by Wendy B
Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Too often when I see pregnant women in entertainment, the pregnant belly is anything but beautiful and powerful. It is, instead, baggage. Excess baggage. Even though it may contain precious cargo. And so too is the woman attached to it. Together, the woman and her belly become a plot device with any number of tropes used to show just how inconvenient—but oh so dramatic—that pregnant belly can be.

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Monday, 22 June 2015
Alice in Wonderland has a special place on my bookshelf. The faux leather bindings of the copy that I used to read with my mother are loosely repaired with tape that has lost much of its stickiness. It is part of the same collection of classics that contained Gone With The Wind, the second book, turned movie, that shaped me. But Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are the big girl stories my mom let me read first. Apparently, according to some, in 1865 when Lewis Carroll (born Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) wrote this book full of anthropomorphized animals, he was alluding to various political and personal issues of his time.

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Thursday, 11 June 2015

I’ve been meaning to play Life is Strange for a long time, but reality keeps getting in the way of my virtual commitments. A recent comment by my friend Dave prompted me to move the game higher up on my schedule. Why? Well, because Dave, who frequently posts commentary on his various gaming adventures, expressed some particular concerns that piqued my interest. Specifically, he spoke about the “creepiness” of many of the male characters that Max encounters.

Read more at WWAC
Monday, 1 June 2015
But, unlike the WWAC staff, my girls had very little interest in designing their own superhero Barbie. My eldest blames the company’s marketing campaign, which, during their favourite cartoons, spammed the obnoxious advertisement once, and sometimes twice, during every single commercial break. Finally, they understood how I felt about having to listen to Barbie mess with my favourite tunes from the ’80s and ’90s in movies like Barbie and the Three Musketeers or The Princess and the Popstar.

Littlest Pet Shop is still the ruling toy in the house, but when it comes to dolls, thankfully, Barbie has been replaced.

Enter the ghouls of Monster High.

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Thursday, 21 May 2015
When I saw my mom on Mother's Day, part of me knew. My dad knew too. He'd been talking over the past while with a woman whose husband shared the same illness. Mom's symptoms had followed his path and he had died shortly after. My mom was in pain. More pain than she had already suffered. I'd slept over the night before and helped her with her myriad if medications throughout the night, but nothing was working anymore. These were only bandaids on a wound that wouldn't close. The week before she had been at church, feeling good. But she knew then what we wouldn't have accepted (partially because my mom was the epitome of a drama queen and, while we never doubted the severity of her illness, we're sure there was some embellishment from time to time). Apparently, she told some of her many church friends that she was going home soon to see her own mother. God gave her that day to say good bye. The subsequent degradation of her body after that day was rapid. There could be no doubt, but how do you let yourself believe that?

My sister called on Monday. The doctor gave his verdict. He didn't sugar coat it, though I could have sworn I heard "weeks," not "days." 

I made plans to go see her on Thursday. I live two hours away. Not far, but mom had weeks, right? I would let my brother, father, and sister sort out the details to grant mom's wish die at home (or in this case, my brother's house, since my parents were in the middle of moving out if our family home of three decades). I would give them time to do this and not get in the way.

On Tuesday, my sister called again. We went to say good bye the next day. 

My husband and I told our daughters before hand. Their tears were hard to bear, as is to be expected, but the little one's sobs were like nothing I'd heard from her before. She is very intuitive and empathetic; so much older than her seven years. I feared how she would deal with this, but both of them have been incredible. They express their sadness, but they also make it clear that they want to be positive. Just  like grandma would have wanted. They are free with their hugs and come to check on me when I am too quiet. They are my little rocks.

My sister warned us that mom had gotten even worse since I'd seen her just days before. I worried how this would affect my husband, but he had no qualms about standing by her side and making her laugh. There was so much laughter in the house. Several friends were already there, along with the nurses and family. I am glad my mom could hear that laughter, even as we cried. The girls and I gave my mom fake tattoos, and then my eldest read to her from Robert Munsch's Love You Forever while I cried and held and kissed her hand.

Then the ambulance arrived to take her to the hospital where she had finally agreed to go after much deliberation and convincing from family in Jamaica. She had feared being in a hospital and dying alone. Many years gone, I had been in the hospital to see the dying mother of a friend. Across from her was another woman who looked very much like death had already taken her, though her chest still rose faintly beneath the sheets. There were all sorts of photos and newspaper clippings on the wall. But no one was with her. I went over and held her hand for a while and talked to her. When I left, I could only hope that her friends and family would be there in her final moments. My mom had no such issue and she needn't have feared. So many people rushed to her side that day and the next. I think, the hardest part of the day had been watching the ambulance drive away and wrestling with the unrealistic belief that maybe, at the hospital, she would be able to recover, and the fear that she would not be able to hold on long enough to see my other brother, flying in from New Jersey. "I don't have much time," she said, as I held her and thanked her for everything she'd done for me. If my brother did not have that opportunity, it would have broken him.

But my mother knows us. She knows what her children need. She waited for my brother that evening, just as she had waited for him to get a job after two years of searching. She waited for my issues to be resolved, and for her grandkids to be okay. And when she was certain we'd all be fine, she let go.

Daddy called me on Friday morning, May 15, 2015, 6:13AM.

So now I grieve, though I don't exactly know what that means. There are stages of this, apparently? Is there a handbook? I keep trying to go to work, but they keep kicking me out. I went to work on the Friday and organized everything I had to for the camp I'd been working on for months. Then I finally consented to letting my co-workers practically escort me out of the building. They get it though. I don't like leaving my work for others to do and there's nothing I could do for my mom at that moment and I knew my dad was in good hands with my brother and sister. We went down that evening to be with the family and stayed the following day. I vacillate between tears and laughter, I sing this song, sniffing her clothes, and I find distraction in my usual haunts. Sometimes, when I'm not crying, I get that numb feeling and wonder if I'm really the cold and uncaring human being I sometimes think I am.

My siblings are all dealing with it in their own way. My sister is even less emotional than I am. Or rather, where I can be intermittently passionate about certain things and will express my emotions when they choose to make their presence known, she is more reserved. But this has been an emotional drain on her because she's had to bear the emotions of others, especially my dad. My brother in the U.S., the one I worried most about, is doing well. He cries, of course, but he's happy that mom is no longer suffering and that it didn't take long for her to go--and of course, that he got to say good bye. Each of us has a bit of my mom in us, and my other brother has the lion's share. He's got the belligerence and the control, and has funneled himself into the task of organizing the funeral, sometimes without the consent or courtesy of discussing it with us. For the most part, we're allowing it. It's his way of coping. But this past Tuesday's trip to the funeral home could have gone sour. If there's one thing my family is good at, it's drama. We get that from my mom. Which is why, even through the sadness and frustration, we are confident that she's looking down on us and laughing at her legacy.

I'm home today. Every now and then, friends check in on me. At the office yesterday, and on my brief trip out to pick up some stuff, co-workers expressed their condolences. I tell everyone that I'm okay and sometimes I believe it, until I realize how many times I keep saying "I'm okay," and that I'm trying to convince myself, not them. Then they offer me their kind words and hugs, or I visit the guestbook of mom's memorial page, and the tears well and my throat tightens.

Tonight is the viewing and tomorrow the funeral. I've picked out my dresses. Dresses my mom bought for me. She never wanted black at her funeral. She was too vibrant for that. I suspect tomorrow will be my true breaking point, though there are others who will take it far harder. But tomorrow will also be the final moment of closure, though the wound will never truly heal.

I will be okay though. Mom made sure of that. We all grieve in our own way. Our own time. I guess this is mine.

Oh, and I'm totally gonna get a "mom" tattoo on her birthday.

Adventures in Bereavement

Posted by Wendy B
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Saturday, 16 May 2015
August 12, 1940 - May 15, 2015

Miss You

Posted by Wendy B
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Monday, 11 May 2015
My mother is a pain in the ass. She's a loud, boisterous, belligerent Leo woman who takes the phrase "all the world's a stage" to heart. Sometimes it's hard to tell when she's not acting in some way. It's what she was born to do. There was a time when I was headed down her path. When I could steal any show I wanted to when I stepped on stage. But that was just one of the many talents I got from my mother. There's a lot of my mother in all of my siblings and me. For better or for worse.

This newspaper clipping was one of the many remnants of her past I found this weekend as I sorted through the junk under her bed, prepping my parents for the move out of our family home of 30 years. I've seen all of the old pictures before. My mom was a stunning woman.

The contrast between the photos I was looking through and the woman who could barely walk up two flights of steps this weekend was....

Mother's Day. The day I realized my mom was dying.

It's not surprising, really. She's suffered from a chronic, not-quite-cancer, blood disease for almost two decades. It's slowly been whittling at her from within, but, despite the constant pain and fatigue, she always rallies. Even as the medicines fail or the prognosis gets slightly worse. She rallies. We joke that mom is going to out live us all. This disease is a very real torment, but admit it, mom, you love the attention you get. ha ha ha.

But I looked at the pictures this weekend and at my mom struggling to speak and knew that the joke was over.

It feels wrong to write this. Like I'm saying good bye before she's even gone. The doctors have given her a few weeks. A bed is being organized for my brother's house. She's signed the papers. But her mother was a fighter too. She was given a few weeks several times and defied them until she was 98 years old. My mom could damn well do the same. If nothing else, but to spite us. Like that little magnet on her fridge that says "A parent's greatest revenge is living long enough to be a problem to their children." That would totally be a mom thing to do.

 I left work early today. I have lots to do and the work would have been a useful distraction. But every moment since my sister called me has been peppered with tears. I didn't feel like having to explain that to anyone. But I did have to tell my daughters when I got home. I couldn't hide it from them. Their sobs wrenched my soul.

Still. I have to look at this as a blessing. They have a chance to say good bye. They've known her and she has been an important part of their life. Death is not new to them. They never met their paternal grandmother who passed away suddenly before my husband and I even met, though we visit her grave every year. This is hard for him too. When I met him, "mother" was an understandably difficult subject. Now he calls my mother "mum," as do many others not of her blood. That's just how big her heart is. Room for every child who needs to be loved unconditionally.

A few weeks ago, I was talking about Robert Munsch's creepy book, Love You Forever. That crazy mom who loves her kid so much that she sneaks into his house at night to cuddle him even after he's grown into an adult. But as much as it amused me to make fun of creepy stalker mom, I got what the book was saying. I'm 38 years old and tonight mom reminded me that I'm still her baby. As if I could ever forget.

We're going to go see her in a few days. And see my dad, whom I worry about far more. My mom, I know, is ready for this. Scared, but ready. I've never much cared for church, mainly because of my mom's preachiness, but I've never doubted her faith. She has her God and knows she is going to Him. I will not take that from her. And I'll do my best to keep my tears here so that she can have my laughter and in turn, make her laugh.
I'll love you forever.
I'll like you for always.
As long as I'm living
My Mommy you'll be.

Mother's Day

Posted by Wendy B
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Sunday, 3 May 2015
This was the pressing question from my daughters as we waited for Avengers: Age of Ultron to start last night. By the end of the film, we had determined that Ultron was about a week or so old, but more importantly, we all enjoyed the movie for its entertainment value. That doesn't mean the movie was without its problems though. Just relax and watch the movie you say? That would be all well and good if so much time wasn't spend in building up all these great big important themes and characters for me to think about. Spoiler filled thoughts ahoy.

So how old is Ultron?

Posted by Wendy B
Thursday, 30 April 2015

Spoiler Warning: These diaries will contain spoilers for The Witcher, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt by CD Projekt Red, possibly the books upon which they are based by Andrzej Sapkowski, and the comics from Dark Horse, depending on just how ambitious/obsessive I’m feeling.

WWAC: The Witcher Diaries

Posted by Wendy B

I am a huge fan of Modesty Blaise. The cheap description of the character is “the female James Bond,” but oh, Modesty is so much more than that. She was born in 1963, when writer Peter O’Donnell and illustrator Jim Holdaway brought to British newspaper strip comics—and later novels—her adventures in subterfuge and action and capers that took her all across the world. She is one of my favourite sex positive comic icons, and, in a discussion about female comic characters and sexuality, I cited Modesty as an example of someone who is inherently sexual, but whose sexuality is used sparingly, in context, and with far greater subtlety than we tend to see today.

Read more at WWAC
Wednesday, 29 April 2015
My fellow WWAC Warriors impress me to no end with their incredible feats. From to bodybuilding to Muay Thai to recovery workouts and diets, it seems like they can and will do it all. Their dedication and effort are inspiring—or at least they ought to be, but my problem is that I’m lazy. Also, I really love food.

Read more at WWAC
Tuesday, 28 April 2015
Saturday, 25 April 2015

Scarlett Couture

Posted by Wendy B
Friday, 17 April 2015
Friday, 10 April 2015
Tuesday, 31 March 2015
I don’t remember my mother ever reading to me (mainly because my brother—ten years my elder—took it upon himself to manage my parenting), but I do remember reading to my mother when I was around ten years old. We’d cuddle up in her bed with kids books like Maybe A Mole, but eventually, my eyes turned to the books in her closet. Alice in Wonderland came first, but soon enough, I was devouring Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind, the 733 page monster bound in blue leather—my first real grown up book.

Back then, I didn’t understand many of the adult references, the historical events, the political, and racial significance. But it didn’t matter. I was in love with Scarlett O’Hara. Then I saw the movie. And I wanted to be Scarlett O’Hara.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015
Feminism totally is too.
The word "feminism" is being thrown around a lot. Last year, several celebrities "came out" and stood up to be counted among those who would call themselves feminists. Twenty years ago. Hell. Ten years ago, I would not count myself among them. When I was younger, I thought feminists were the crazy women who burned their bras for some reason I couldn't bother to learn about. When I was a little older, I thought they were akin to the women who frequented the parenting boards on Livejournal, venomously swarming new moms who dared to admit that they didn't want to breastfeed.

In other words, I really had no clue what feminism was really about. I just took for granted that I could vote, have babies or not have babies, own property, work, etc. Ah the ignorance of youth.

Now I'm a little older, wiser. I have daughters. I have friends with daughters. I also have friends with sons. Friends who are men. Family who are boys and men. And I've come to the shocking realization that I'm a woman and a human being living in a society that has changed and continues to change and still has a ways to go when it comes to gender equality. So yes, I will call myself a feminist. Not because I want to see men brought down in order to raise women up, but because we live in a patriarchal society that needs to do a whole lot of reflecting on how it has oppressed not only women, but men as well. Because yes men have struggles in our society too. And I will stand up and help raise awareness about those issues, because to me, they stem from the same place: the gender roles that have been ingrained into our society.

There's the suggestion, that, because of the stigmas that have been attached to the word "feminism," that people should move away from it. That I should use something less divisive, like "humanist." Semantics, really. Feminism has always been about equality, like I said, through raising women up, not -- as some would have you believe or as some do believe -- by bringing men down. Not that I'm naive enough to believe their aren't extremists in the bunch. Every movement has its bad apples. Bullies, really. That's what they are. There are feminists who make the word ugly. But there are also humans who make "humanist" ugly.

I've seen many men argue that feminism is inappropriate because it ignores men's struggles. Ignores the statistics that show more men are murdered, more male soldiers die, etc etc. But if feminism is about raising women up and finding equality in our society's gender roles, then the obvious result would be less pressure on men to "Man Up" and to solve their problems through violence and manly manliness, instead of assuring men that it's okay to cry and express emotions (because it is). There would be more women on the battlefield, sharing that burden. More men teaching, staying at home with the kids, etc. We've already seen these changes happening, little by little, but there's still far to go. Why shouldn't I be standing up and speaking my mind about such things. It's the least I can do to honour the women (and men) who have fought for equality in the past so that I can vote, own property, etc.

Some men take issue with terms like "privilege" and "mansplaining" -- and with good reason, because there are those who would use those terms as insults and to bully people into silence. But the thing is, there is often truth, even in insults. Just like some jokes are very serious, even as we laugh. Just like stereotypes have grounding in truth. It's easy to get defensive. But in the right minds, what those words are asking for is empathy. A listening ear. It's hard to hear sometimes, especially when the speaker is too loud. Too in your face. Or if your biases (we all have them) are getting in the way. But when you set that all aside and just listen for a moment; hear the experiences of another, try to put yourself in their shoes first, something magical might happen, and that's called empathy. It will hopefully lead to a willingness to support the struggles of those less privileged to work towards something better for all, and I appreciate the men that, instead of crying sexism, lend their voices in support to uplift the voices of those who are ignored, punished for speaking out, or are too afraid.

I'm still learning how to be a feminist. Not a good feminist or a bad feminist, but a woman who wants to see change in our society and is willing to speak up. I'm still learning about all the ways systematic discrimination affects others and identifying my own ignorance and biases to understand how I can use my voice to help those less privileged than I. Because why shouldn't I want a society where women are equal to men? Why shouldn't I want to see a change in our system to allow that equality? So I will express my opinion on issues that I am passionate about, even if I might earn the rank of cunt, bitch, whore, or vile fempig for doing so. (Yes, I know that's #NotAllMen. If I thought that, I probably wouldn't be married to one, or have so much respect for my nephews, brothers, guy friends, etc. Please don't tell me to just ignore the trolls until they go away. Because they don't. Contrary to the belief, words do hurt. Violence hurts a whole lot more. Do not simply accuse me of sexism for identifying misogyny without first considering the foundations on which our society is built, where women were not only unable to own property, but were considered property -- in some case, "still are" is more apt.)
That doesn't mean I'm campaigning all day every day for the cause. I'm not instilling my Feminist AgendaTM on my kids through lessons and diagrams. But, I hope, I am showing my girls that men and women can do many of the same things, share many of the same roles. That progress has been made, but that there is still much to learn and do. That it's okay for boys to wear pink and play with dolls. I want to teach them about the various achievements of women throughout history in hopes of inspiring them to do and be more, and I love days like International Women's Day that bring to light and celebrate those accomplishments. I'll still watch movies, read comics, play video games where women can be interchanged with lamps, but I'm going to question the tropes and demand better. No, I will not be appeased by "strong female characters." I want characters who reflect who I am. The people I know. And I want recognition and realization that I have every right to be in this space when it comes to my preferred forms of entertainment. I will dress in short skirts and tight clothes because I enjoy my femininity, my body, my sexuality, and I'm tired of being ashamed of or shamed for that.

I do these things because I am a woman. I am proud to be a woman. And as a woman, I will fight for a society, a world, where my daughters can be proud to be women and to do and be and achieve as women, without fear.
Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Personally speaking, instead of a remake, I’d have preferred a Cinderella movie that focused on the villain, like Maleficent, which is a favourite in our household. Well, maybe not just another re-envisioning where we learn the villain’s story and realise she might not be so bad after all. Actually,  I’d rather have seen a badass version of Cinderella 3: A Twist In Time, where Lady Tremaine—played by Cate Blanchett—has an epic showdown with Helena Bonham Carter’s Fairy Godmother, steals the magic wand, and bippity boppity boos away Cinderella’s happily ever after. Or maybe even a version that calls back to the darker origins of the fairy tales Disney has been plundering all these years.

What I got was an update to Disney’s 1950s fairy tale of a downtrodden young woman who sings gaily while scrubbing the marble floors, and the knowledge that Disney has earned that much more of my money.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Bunny has also played Moshi Monsters and Club Penguin. The latter regularly features major themed events, and, because it is now owned by Disney, that means things like awesome Marvel penguins saving their little penguin world. Now they are both playing Animal Jam from National Geographic Kids. I had originally planned to make this a review of their favourite games, but I realized that, well, the games are all the same. It turns out that, much like adult MMOs, these games have the same basic elements. While adult MMOs try really hard to be unique within an industry saturated by this type of game, MMOs for kids can get away with repeating the same concepts. The only significant difference is in what kind of cutesy characters the kids are running around with.

Monday, 9 March 2015
Friday, 27 February 2015

I don’t think I truly appreciated Dr. Spock in my youth, at least not until Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country. But he has always been a recognizable part of my life, from voicing Galvatron in the Transformers Movie, to playing William Bell in Fringe. He’ll always be Mr. Spock to me, but somewhere along the way, I discovered his photography work and realized that he was so more than just an actor on screen. Photography is one of my secret passions, though I have no talent for it myself. I love photographers who can capture the essence of a person through their images, and I find that through those images, the photographer reveals something of themselves, as well. Mr. Nimoy captured such intimacy and beauty in his work, and presented each image with an elegant simplicity, compassion, and respect.
“I’m so intrigued with the idea that the way we present ourselves to the world isn’t necessarily all of us, that there are other identities that we carry with us that sometimes slip out.” [x]

LLAP

Posted by Wendy B
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WHAT IS THIS?

This is my mindspill. Mostly about comics, books, video games, movies of the science fiction and fantasy leanings. Sometimes recipes and parenting stuff will sneak in, along with a real world rant or two.

I also write about geek culture at Women Write About Comics, and I review genre fiction at The BiblioSanctum.

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