America: A Review

“Few countries that debuted in the 1700s have been as controversial or long running (it’s into its 237th season now) as America. It may not have the staying power of perennial favorites such as China or the credibility of indie darlings such as Finland, but America has proven that it can at least make some cultural impact. It’s not the best, but hey, they can’t all be Louie.”

FROM: McSweeney’s Internet Tendency http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/america-a-review


Review:
Fun Novelty Art Unisex printed T-shirt ‘Mona Lisa’.

Well you all know I’m slightly obsessed with cats and art so this t-shirt is the best combo ever! I recently got accepted into art college and I start soon and the first day I’m going to wear this, it’s going to be the greatest first day. Okay let’s get down to the actually review of this t-shirt firstly as I’m plus size it’s always a Russian roulette if the size is what it is online! This top comes in sizes s-xl normally xl is my size but it is often Asian xl which is extremely small but this time it is just the perfect fit and the fabric is the softest fabric very good quality most of the time when you order novelty wear it’s not the greatest quality but this is just brilliant.

Want to know something cool? This t-shirt comes with free post! Which is a great find as postage prices normally put me off buying stuff online and it’s just a plus on such a unique and funny t-shirt normally you pay quiet a lot for novelty/alternative wear. I am extremely happy with this product, I’ll include link if you’d like to check it out, also great store and very nice seller show them some love! And thank you for reading!

Store: sartorialiset2013

T-shirt: Mona Lisa

Sailor Moon Newbie Reviews: Episodes 118-119

The gang’s all here…

If you were wondering why the sailors skipped a planet along the way, wonder no more, for we’ve found Saturn at last, and she is… somewhat less interested in saving the world than the others are, it seems. And the Outer Guardians are a VERY exclusive club and don’t seem inclined to let her join. But that’s fine. I’m sure the Moonies can print up another Inner Guardian membership card if she asks. They gave Jupiter one, after all, so clearly their definition of “inner” and “outer” planets is already real flexible.

Read the rest on JND!

2

“I’ll do it over, no matter how many times it takes. I’ll relive it over and over again. I will find a way out. The one path that will save you from this destiny of despair. Madoka my one and my only friend. I don’t care because if it’s for you, I’ll stay trapped in this endless maze… Forever.”

these are the first few shots from my homura photoshoot with my photographer exhibitzero and i’m really liking how they turned out! and a special thanks to cosplaysky for this amazing custom-tailored cosplay. (you can use my code “criedwolves” to get a discount too!)

One Piece #792. 「土下座」 (”Kneeling Down”)

“Exploiting the system of the Ouka Shichibukai, that vile pirate… made himself the king of a country, and in its lands, subjugated none other than the World Government itself. People of Dressrosa, members of the royal family, in place of the World Government… I humbly beg for your forgiveness! It kills me just to know that we were the ones who put you through all this..!”

Synopsis:

Amidst the celebratory cries of the citizens of Dressrosa, Sabo wraps up his fight with Jesus Burgess. The all but defeated Blackbeard Pirate uses his last resort, provoking Sabo with a story about Ace’s last words before being sent to the Marines for his inevitable execution and striking him with a dagger presumably made of kairouseki. However, with his fingers already planted on Burgess’s face, Sabo relentlessly unleashes Ace’s signature attack, Fire Fist, on Burgess before he can make his move. Immediately after, Sabo receives a call from Koala on his Den Den Mushi, in which she reports that they’ve found the list they’ve been looking for and tells Sabo to meet them underground. Meanwhile, the Marines are binding the unconscious members of the Donquixote Pirates in kairouseki chains, King Riku is confronted by his past subjects to re-claim his title, and Admiral Fujitora has made orders to his subordinates to broadcast a transmission to Dressrosa’s three closest neighboring countries. Riku receives the support of his people, the support of old friend King Elizabello II of Prodence, and then finally the support of Fujitora himself, who kneels before the King and begs for his forgiveness in place of the World Government, thereby claiming all responsibility for what Doflamingo, a World Government-inducted member of the Shichibukai, has done to the country of Dressrosa. The entire incident is broadcasted live to the three countries, allowing them not only to publicize before the World Government the actions of Fujitora but also the reality that it was none other than the pirate alliance between Trafalgar D. Water Law and Monkey D. Luffy that saved the country of Dressrosa from this World Government-involved evil.

Review:

After last week’s chapter of celebratory expression one after another, we finally reach a point of dénouement, full of diplomacy and ideologies—and coincidentally enough, with not a single Straw Hat in sight save for Luffy’s oh-so-candid wanted poster profile. A good number of points I tried to predict upon last week show up this week, so I guess it’s worth delving into how I now feel about being wrong and right (mostly wrong) about those things. 

When we switch back to the exciting face-off between Burgess and Sabo, it’s a tad bit disappointing to find out that the confrontation has already come to a decisive end (though comforting is the notion that Sabo easily owns one of the Blackbeard Pirates—the purported number two strongest at that, given his status as captain of the crew’s first ship), as Sabo looks up towards the sky in hearty approval of the distant cheers. Unsurprisingly but perhaps just as enraging as always, we see members of the Blackbeard Pirates resort to underhanded tactics to compensate for their lack of strength, as Burgess provokes Sabo with snubs about Ace’s pitiful state before his death, all the while concealing a dagger apparently made of kairouseki behind his back. Whether or not Sabo was ever actually aware of the dagger in Burgess’s hand before he blasted the guy’s ass away isn’t explicitly depicted; but it really didn’t matter. At the heart of the trial was whether or not Burgess’s taunt could faze Sabo enough to lead to his downfall, and sure enough Sabo passes the test with a brimming display of his maturity (in regard to coping with Ace’s death, in contrast to Luffy overcoming a mental state of madness, Sabo seems to suffer more guilt-based symptoms and is tortured about “if” he could have saved Ace as opposed to the pure “couldn’t" in Luffy’s case—in that sense, it’s not a relatively simple solution of “training to become stronger and able to protect the ones important to him now” for Sabo as it was and still currently is for Luffy). 

In being on the topic of Burgess’s pussy-footed tactics, I’m compelled to express how I am only feeling more and more desperate that the Blackbeard Pirates do not end up being the big bad final bosses that the Straw Hat Pirates go against by series’s end. It’s my opinion that Blackbeard himself was most interesting as an antagonist when he was first revealed to be such; his capture of Ace and betrayal of Thatch effectively transformed him from the bumbling, cherry pie-loving drunk on the side of the road back at Jaya to a dark and manipulative player in the game of (thrones) Pirate King who is among the few characters in the entire series universe who have murdered another prominent character on-screen in cold blood. However, the first impression only seemed to regress (and eventually reverse) as the story progressed and continued to depict Teach as an antagonist viable of that final boss status. His mixture of both intellect and stupidity, of both courage and cowardice made him out to be a baffling character that, while interesting in some respects, definitely is not fearsome enough or conceptually foil to Luffy enough to live up to that position. (Notable examples: how he led his entire crew to being outright demolished by Magellan at Impel Down, how he subsequently suffered a more-than-crushing defeat at the hands of Whitebeard at Marineford after challenging the legend himself, only to end up crawling to his crew’s arms, literally). At this point, despite how insulting it feels to say, he pretty much serves better as a mirror to Luffy, given the fact that they both have lost to the same Magellan and were then again defeated thereafter due to their own degree of impetuousness. 

So, with Burgess down, the leading figures of the Donquixote Family being chained in kairouseki, and Ciper Pol-0 apparently not making a move, the people of Dressrosa are free to decide for themselves what to do in this one-hell-of-an aftermath; and sure enough, in high One Piece fashion, they elect to return power to the previous ruler whose reign had been interrupted by the invasion of pirates. Beyond this typical outcome is Admiral Fujitora’s take on the matter, who, after a long period of remaining a rather neutral force throughout the arc, finally dispels that nonpartisan, going so far as to preventing the immediate report back to Marine headquarters about the defeat of Doflamingo and prostrating before King Riku himself, begging for forgiveness in the name of the World Government (Did someone say, “new favorite admiral”?). Of course, the immediate effect this has is convincing Riku to re-claim the throne to Dressrosa, a matter of course, really; but in the larger scheme of things, its ultimate effect is letting the media of the masses reveal to the world that is was in fact the alliance between the Heart Pirates and the Straw Hat Pirates that brought a downfall to Doflamingo’s tyranny before the World Government could decide how to conspire and mitigate how such news would bolster Law and Luffy’s reputations. 

All in all, after a lengthy arc that has had its own considerable share of distinct moments, the story-telling takes a step back to interweave things with the grand narrative of the series, properly continuing the motif of the eleven members of The Worst Generation who ring in the New Age of Pirates. 

Rating: B+


Additional Note(s):

*Sabo’s Dragon Claw is definitely one of the most effective ways to hold an opponent at point-blank danger. Raise your hand if you tried adjusting your fingers across your own head like that see how they could possibly fit like that.

*Seeing Doffy’s motionless out-of-control body is still surreal at this point. Oda did a really great job depicting his dominance, definitely one of his greatest villains.

*I really hope Sabo’s “softness” isn’t going to end up with Burgess just waking up a few moments later before the Marines can find him and fleeing safely back to his crew, there’s just got to be some repercussions there.

*As far as we know, Burgess isn’t a Devil Fruit user, so it’s a wonder why he didn’t embed kairouseki into his gloves or arm-guard instead of making a dagger out of it—or why everyone else doesn’t do that for that matter.

*Koala’s stressed-out babysitter status is hilarious and makes her that much more lovable.

*Looking at the series of panels of unconscious Doflamingo Pirates and in retrospect, it’s a bit mystifying as to why Señor Pink was the only one who got a proper lifestyle-defining backstory.

*This week’s cover-page was nice, but I hope we get a bit more coverage of Mansherry; she’s a sweetheart and doesn’t deserved to be reduced to nothing other than this arc’s deus ex machina plot device.

*Looks like Maynard is back in top-form. Do you think things are just outright awkward between him and Bartolomeo now?

*Why do I feel like Issho bowing is still taller than most people in the One Piece universe?

*Oda giving us a glimpse at various islands (that we’ll probably never really visit canonically) in the Grand Line is always interesting. One of Dressrosa’s neighboring countries is Applenine Island (The roofs to the buildings are shaped like apples!), do you think they’re the kind of neighbors you could go next door to and ask for some apples, or say, some help from the tyranny of a mad king?

*YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, WHATCHU KNOW ‘BOUT DEM NEW WORLD BOUNTIES THOOOO!? 

Pink Floyd - The Wall

Side one of “The Wall” is better than side one of anything else.  And “Mother did it need to be so high?” gives me chills every fucking time.

This is the vinyl mix I had when I was a kid.  And it’s glorious.  The remasters are fine, but this mix is how I grew up.  And the art.  You don’t get this kind of immersive art with an MP3…

…and the liner notes–fun fact–are why my handwriting looks the way it does…

The secret to being creative


Creativity is not just for artists, musicians, writers, and designers. We are all creative, but the folks who are known for it have spent time cultivating it, failing at it, and working at it.

It’s easy to look at any famous creative person and think they’re naturally creative. It’s easy to assume their work just appeared and didn’t take hours/months/years of painstaking dedication. Much like the idea of ‘overnight success’, creativity is viewed as something that just happens.

Well, I’m here to tell you that’s not the case.

I’m here to share some examples of how anyone can cultivate and grow their creative muscle.

Because creativity is a muscle. Not an actual muscle like the ones bodybuilders sculpt, but a muscle in the metaphorical sense. Some of us are born with the ability to barely workout yet look like a Greek god (assuming that we all view Greek gods as muscular genetic freaks). But the majority of us aren’t so lucky. We have to work incredibly hard before we even see any sign of muscle being built.

The important thing is that the potential is there inside of all of us. You just have to really want it.

I’d like to share three ways you can increase your creativity. None of them cost you a single penny and all of them can be done right now.

‘No bad ideas’ brainstorming

One way to work the creative muscle is to do an exercise I like to call ‘No Bad Ideas Brainstorming’. I break this exercise down in detail here, but here’s a brief explanation of how you can do it right now with minimal effort:

  • Get together with at least one other person but no more than a group of 4–6 people (ideally in person).
  • Grab a pen and paper, or use a whiteboard if you have one.
  • Spend 30 minutes riffing on ideas without any criticisms or critiques. No idea thrown out there is a bad idea!
  • After 30 minutes of back and forth reassess all your ideas. Spend a good 15 minutes doing a broad sweep and see what stands out.
  • Once you have your broad sweep done, get critical with your ideas and see what’s staring you in the face. What idea stands out to you and your partner/group? Which one(s) do you want to pursue?

Much like exercise, if you were to put in the work and do ‘No Bad Ideas Brainstorming’ often, you’d come up with lots of creative ideas. And even better than that, you’ll learn to be consistent with your output.

What quickly becomes apparent when you do this exercise is that when it comes to being creative you need to get out of your own way.

Let’s stick with the muscle metaphor and talk about getting in shape or losing weight. Yes, you have the option to eat a delicious cheeseburger with all the toppings, a large order of french fries, and a sugar-filled beverage, but consuming those things won’t get you in shape. By eating a poor diet, you’re limiting your own ability to get in shape.

We all know that it’s possible to use willpower to overcome poor lifestyle habits but when it comes to being creative things get a bit more nebulous. There isn’t a real cheeseburger, fried potato stick, or soft drink staring you in the face.

You need to discover what is getting in your way of being creative and actively avoid it. You don’t expect six-pack abs to just show up with no effort, so why would you expect creativity to do the same? Trusting the process and putting in the work is the easiest way to keep you from putting up roadblocks in front of your creativity.

Get outside of your bubble

Too often we stay where we’re comfortable.

As human beings we’re pre-wired with a pack mentality: We consume content from the same people on the same platforms. We steer clear of topics we deem controversial. We simply go through the motions and try to avoid discomfort like it’s the Bubonic plague.

But merely going through the motions will never help you become more creative or generate your next amazing idea. Plus, you absolutely cannot catch the Bubonic plague just by venturing beyond your invisible line of comfort.

To be truly creative you must push yourself outside your comfort zone. You have to move into uncharted territory. Lucky for you, we live in a time where this is easier than ever and where new and exciting information is unbelievably accessible.

We used to have to seek out inspiration. If you wanted to see priceless art, you had to go to a gallery or look at books filled with photos.

Nowadays you can slide your phone out of your pocket, tap a glass screen, and have images of all the world’s greatest art just a few clicks away. Yet with everything thrown to our feet it begs the question: How can you possibly be impressed and inspired by things that take almost zero effort to seek out?

I’d like to challenge you to ask your friends on social media, email, or even in real life to share what things they read on a daily basis for inspiration. You may find a bit of overlap, but something tells me you’ll find a lot of new resources that you never would have thought to read or investigate.

And I know it may sound crazy, but read books! Especially non-fiction (although fiction can be a good source of inspiration, too). Just consume new and different content than you normally wouldn’t, even if it’s only for 30 minutes per day.

It’s no secret that we’re inundated with notifications, pop-ups, alerts, unread icons, blah blah blah. Everyone knows we live in a society with too much information being thrown at us. Yet people don’t realize you can do things the same way you’ve always done them, especially as it relates to creative thinking and coming up with new ideas.

Think about this for a moment: When was the last time you had a great idea, thought, or revelation while you were elbows deep in scrolling through your inbox or newsfeed on Facebook? It just doesn’t happen.

Give yourself the space to create

We’re not talking about Neil deGrasse Tyson-type space here (although, he could be a great source of information for #2 if you’re looking to get inspired), but rather mental space.

But if being consistently creative is as easy as just giving your brain some mental space, why aren’t all of us coming up with the next printing press, light bulb, or iPhone? Because it takes more space than most of us are willing to allow. An uncomfortable amount, in fact.

A few years ago, I ran a business that was fueled by creative ideas. The amount of content created in that business on a day-to-day basis was overwhelming, but there seemed to be an endless amount of ideas. Looking back, I now realize why there were always ideas to be had—I allowed for space to fill up my creativity bucket.

On days when I would feel myself getting low on creative energy or ideas, I’d take a walk on the beach with my dog or my girlfriend. I wouldn’t bring technology and I’d just let my brain wander.

I wouldn’t always come up with great ideas while on the walk, but what did happen was that it set my brain in motion. The creativity muscle was put to work behind the scenes.

It could have been days, weeks, or even months later, but a great idea would pop in my mind. These ideas didn’t come out of nowhere, they came out of the process of allowing for space.

Whether you have a beach, a path by your house, a hiking trail, or a forest, find a quiet place without noise or distractions. Personally, I’ve found that actually moving around and being outdoors allows the most mental space.

Remember, allowing for space doesn’t mean you have to lock yourself in a cabin in the woods for weeks on end. It could be as simple as a 10 minute walk every day. Or maybe even some (prepare for a dirty, over- and incorrectly used word) meditation.

There’s one important final step to remember if you want to create consistently: the work.

Simply having ideas doesn’t make you creative. We don’t remember famous inventors for all the inventions they thought of but never brought to life (they do have a ton of those though). We remember famous inventors for the things they actually built and created.

True creativity comes when ideas are given a chance to live. Because once an idea is alive, it sets in motion the opportunity for momentum. And momentum begets momentum.

Give yourself the space, practice, and daily intention to become more creative and watch your ideas come to life.

Read Next: The hidden power of ‘I don’t know’

Image credit: Wil StewartJordan McQueen, Unsplash

This post first appeared on the Crew blog.



Gadget Reviews: mamaktalk.com
Car Reviews: automoview.com
Entertainment News: 38today.com
Today’s Promotions: freepromotoday.com
Gossip News: 38now.com


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From the South Pole Iceberg to the Republic City Portal: A Critical Study of the Avatar Franchise: Part Three

In which Iroh and Zuko consult a map, Aang plays with some marbles, and Sokka wears a dress.

So it’s basically the “girl power/ sexism is bad episode”, right? No?

First off, let it be noted that I have next to no problem with episodes of television that certain sections of largely male fandom will dismiss as either “girl power” or “sexism is bad” episodes, mostly because the depressingly large swathes of that type of fandom will act like “Oh great, it’s the ‘Girl Power’ episode” is a legitimate criticism of episodes of television like “The Warriors of Kyoshi”. I’ll also defend the type of episodes that simply celebrate girl power or point out that sexism is bad because those are still (sadly) rare to see on television, and good, valuable things for a show like ATLA to do. But I think this episode and its exploration of gender politics takes on so much more depth than those descriptions suggest.

It’s worth examining what the show has done with regards to gender so far. At this point, it has seemed to follow the often used model in genre fiction where there is one significant female character in the main cast in Katara, and the world itself (see the original Star Wars trilogy as a prime example of this model). However, it is worth noting that the show has already created a wonderful female lead within this model – Katara is given narrative weight as the narrator and the viewpoint character of the show, and it has been hinted that she is on a similar journey to Aang, as both head towards the Northern Water Tribe to learn waterbending. And she has already been given a wonderful amount of complexity, with hints of her grief at losing her mother, her maternal nature, and her ability to fight past her limitations already having been demonstrated throughout the first three episodes. And of course, she had her wonderful takedown of Sokka’s sexism in “The Boy in the Iceberg”, a character note that is picked up on for both characters (though mostly Sokka) in this episode. The show has demonstrated through Katara that it can treat its female characters with real respect, but this episode shows what it can become as it slowly moves away from the “One female character of note” model.

The episode does so on the largely female space of Kyoshi Island, a place founded by the last female Avatar, protected by a female warrior troupe who style themselves after Kyoshi, and it’s a notable fact that these are the first group of non-bending fighters we meet. Kyoshi Island also acts as the setting for the show’s first “The Gaang visits a village” episode – a type of episode that is particularly prominent throughout season one (although it is still used in the later seasons as well). And this female space, defined by the figures of Kysohi and Suki, becomes a place for a deconstruction of the harmful masculinity demonstrated by the male leads.

The deconstruction of Sokka’s problematic values is in evidence from the beginning of the episode, as we see a repeat of pattern from the opening scene of the series, as Katara calls him out on his sexism by hurling back the trousers she was sewing for him unrepaired after he casually makes a gender stereotype. It’s an interesting moment because, as well as being a fun joke, it demonstrates how limiting Sokka’s ideas of gender roles are for him – he considers sewing a woman’s job, but after insulting Katara by vocalising these thoughts, he is left stranded, and unable to help himself, because he’s always considered himself above learning what he considers a female role. It’s an effective demonstration of how Sokka’s brand of toxic masculinity is ultimately self destructive.

Yet Sokka persists in his attitudes, being unable to  accept his capture at the hands of the Kyoshi Warriors, downplaying the idea that women can be strong until he is confronted with the inadequacies of his attitudes face on (or rather, with his face on the floor). However, as was noted in my first post, Sokka has always had the capacity for redemption in the fundamental decency he shows when he faces down the Fire nation ship and when he helps Katara rescue Aang in “The Avatar Returns”.  And after being humiliated by Suki, it is this decency, and not his pettiness, that shines through: Sokka kneels down before Suki as a mark of respect, admits he was wrong, and admits he would be honoured if she would teach him. And being taught by Suki allows him to embrace a more healthy attitude towards gender that embraces both the traditionally masculine and traditionally feminine aspects of himself: he learns to fight, but does so in the style and garb of an all-female warrior troupe, with the moment where he starts to embrace wearing Kyoshi-style robes being more of a revelatory moment than him becoming proficient at Suki’s fighting style. Yet even at the end of the episode, Sokka needs reminding that “warrior” and “woman” aren’t mutually concepts. He has been internalising the fact all episode, but his goodbye to Suki is the moment his attitudes truly change.

The episode is also interesting for the figure of Kyoshi herself, who offers the earliest possible revelation that the Avatar Spirit can be reincarnated into male and female bodies. Aang (on the whole) embraces this spirit, being comfortable with more traditionally feminine activities, a prime example being the “Maybe instead of saving the world, you can go into the jewellery making business”/ “I don’t see why I can’t do both” exchange from “The Fortuneteller”. Similarly, he happily shares the fact that he used to be Kyoshi with the people of the village, demonstrating his comfort with having a female past life. Notably, this is the first time we truly see Aang embrace the role of the Avatar.

However, this leads to a deconstruction of Aang’s performative masculinity, and the way being the Avatar feeds his ego. As this essay on the first episode of the series points out, Aang is incredibly comfortable performing in the female gaze for the female gaze, which is largely a positive thing. However, in this episode, Aang doesn’t perform within the female gaze, but instead actively seeks female attention to feed his ego, in particular the attention of an increasingly unimpressed Katara. This decision results in the Gaang staying in Kyoshi Island long enough for Zuko to burn down the Village, and for Aang to end up getting hurt by the Unagi, and need rescuing by Katara, who saves Aang with another piece of brilliant improvisation within her currently limited bending skillset. In the episode, Aang falls into a form of masculinity that is harmful to himself and the society around him. And Aang is only able to save the day by rejecting the hyper masculine “stand and fight” mentality, and listening to Katara’s advice, just as Sokka rights his toxic masculinity by learning to listen to Suki. He also saves the village by riding the Unagi not out of a desire to feed his ego, but to right the wrongs that desire caused: Aang gets rid of the harmful masculinity that caused damage, and replaces it with the desire to right his mistakes that makes him a hero.

And that’s “The Warriors of Kyoshi”: a story where a female space becomes a place for male characters to reevaluate the harmful aspects of their constructions of masculinity. It’s a wonderful little episode.

End of Part Three.

I've Moved!

Okay only technologically but it’ still a thing! Some of you have probably wondered why I’ve been AWOL on my blog recently beyond my hiatus status and most of you probably know that exam season is over so… where did I go? Well firstly I didn’t melt during the heatwave (though I was pretty close) and I am okay, I’ve actually decided to move my blog to Blogger instead. Why Move? When I decided to…

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Review: Finally His Bride - Maisey Yates

    Review I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The Montana Born Brides has entertained fans and readers for the past three books. This third book, while short, is yet another enjoyable love story under the friends-to-lovers trope. I like that world that the series writers created in Marietta. I could easily imagine myself walking into…

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Looking for Blogs to Follow

Hey all!


I’m a pretty new blog that reviews some of the latest books that I’ve read, currently including ‘Gatsby’ and ‘So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed’ and soon to include more! Not only this but I also love to reblog great literature quotes and pictures which you yourselves may have posted!


Therefore I need a few literature-themed blogs to follow so that I can reblog the wonderful literature-related content onto my own blog!


If you could suggest me some and maybe also give me a follow at the same time, I’d really appreciate it!


Thanks!


-QuickLitReviews