monkey-see

Our pop culture blogger Linda Holmes went to BookCon this past weekend, and she has some thoughts a fascinating and important cultural force: the Book Girls.

On the young end, they may only be 10 or 11; they remain demographically Book Girls at least through college. And they do, on a broad scale, seen in large groups, seem to emerge as a type that is in a sense unfair to all of them but feels like a weighted average: They dress for comfort; they pull their hair back. They move in groups, they drink iced coffee, they talk about podcasts, I secretly suspect as I eyeball their earbuds that all their music is playlists, and they read all the time. They have The Fault In Our Stars shirts that say “Okay” and “Okay” in word balloons, they are very glad Harry and Hermione never got together because that would have been terribly reductive, and they consider power and individuality to be topics for books that are at least as important as kissing.

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: I want to be Linda Holmes when I grow up.

– Petra

Every year, there is a capricious quality to the nominations that makes it difficult to draw any particular meaning from them, but there are likely to be a few discussion points floating around today in the wake of these announcements.

  • Even for the Oscars — even for the Oscars — this is a really, really lot of white people. Every nominated actor in Lead and Supporting categories — 20 actors in all — is white.
  • Every nominated director is male. Every nominated screenwriter is male.
  • Shall we look at story? Every Best Picture nominee here is predominantly about a man or a couple of men, and seven of the eight are about white men, several of whom have similar sort of “complicated genius” profiles, whether they’re real or fictional.
  • Particularly in light of these two points, the lack of a Best Director nomination for DuVernay (nominations went to Alejandro González Iñárritu for Birdman, Linklater, Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher, Wes Anderson and Morten Tyldum) is a disappointment not only for those who admired the film and her careful work behind the camera, but also for those who see her as a figure of hope, considering how rare it is for even films about civil rights to have black directors, and how rare it is for any high-profile project at all to be directed by a woman. Scarcity of opportunity tends to breed much lower tolerance for the whimsical sense that nominations normally have, so that even people who know better than to take Oscar voting to heart feel the sting of what seems like a deliberate snub. (While the film has been criticized for the places were it takes liberties with facts, that issue doesn’t comfortably explain any challenges it faces with voters, given the welcoming of The Imitation Game and Foxcatcher, both of which have been criticized for substantial alterations to the stories of not supporting characters but principal characters.)
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At The Oscar Nominations, It’s A Good Year To Be An Idiosyncratic Man

Photo credit: Atsushi Nishijima/Fox Searchlight

If you watch the film The Martian, you’ll see Hollywood explosions and special effects galore, but you’ll also see some serious science.

“The Martian has almost all of its technical details correct,” says Robert Zubrin, the head of The Mars Society, which advocates sending people to explore the planet. Zubrin, who has written nonfiction and fiction books about going to Mars, points out there have been many other accurate books written about missions to Mars. What makes The Martian special he says, is its simple man-versus-nature plot. “It’s about one person, one human mind, one human heart,” he says.

How ‘The Martian’ Became A Science Love Story

Photo: Giles Keyte/EPKTV

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Autumn 1979. Ohio. Five kids on bikes tool around their suburban development and stumble into an adventure involving monsters and sinister authority figures.

Autumn 1983. Indiana. Four kids on bikes tool around their suburban development and stumble into an adventure involving monsters and sinister authority figures.

Autumn 1988. Ohio. Four kids on bikes tool around their suburban development and stumble into an adventure involving monsters and sinister authority figures.

These are the setups of three recent pop culture offerings: respectively, the 2011 film Super 8, the new Netflix series Stranger Things, and the Image Comics series Paper Girls, which launched last year.

But these three properties share a lot more than just that common jumping-off point. They are all concerned with adolescence, specifically the push-pull tension between the familiar safety of home and the unknown dangers of the adult world.

Kids On Bikes: The Sci-Fi Nostalgia Of ‘Stranger Things’, 'Paper Girls’ & 'Super 8’

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I decided Asami needed her own animal companion, and I figured it should be something small and handy that could help her out while she worked. So she gets a tiger monkey! The wiki only described it as a “monkey with tiger features” so that sounded pretty rad. 

– x –

Headcanon: 

  • While on Avatar assignment in the Fire Nation with Korra, Asami comes across a small injured tiger monkey. She takes it home to nurse it back to health
  • Normally a solitary and aloof creature, it takes immediately to Asami and sticks close by her as much as possible
  • It can be v territorial and protective of Asami and sometimes growls at Korra if she gets too touchy-feely
  • It has v sharp claws that are retractable, but Asami has to keep them carefully trimmed or risk getting gouged on the shoulders
  • One day in the workshop Asami absentmindedly says the name of the tool she needs out loud and is shocked when the tiger monkey brings it to her unbidden 
  • She then teaches it all the names of the tools and their different sizes, and it always brings her the correct one
  • V much like a cat in disposition, it sleeps a lot, usually curled up somewhere within reach of Asami
This wasn’t just a story about Peggy getting a boyfriend; it was a story about Peggy getting free of trying to emotionally connect with Don Draper, which she’s been trying to do since the pilot. It was a story about Peggy stepping away from a relationship from which she gets nothing to make room for a relationship from which she gets something. Stan started out as a jerk, but Don stayed a jerk. Learning to stop throwing good emotional money after bad is one of the most important elements of adulthood; despite its cinematic-swoon elements, this was more than met the eye: it wasn’t just a story about getting what you’ve always dreamed of. It was just as much a story about when to give up.