In this fantastic article for The Mary Sue, Caroline Chao explores the weird lack of importance of mothers in the Star Wars franchise. She writes:
Even before the universe of Star Wars was welcomed into Disney’s custody, Lucasfilm had upheld the Dead Parent Quotas to maximize the Hero’s Angst. Demises of moms tend to be potent fuel for Offspring’s Angst. Mothers play a role in shaping the arc of their protagonist offsprings, but they don’t receive as much thematic prominence as father-son/child relationships in the cinematic world of a galaxy far, far away. If they do, they are noticeably disposable. Shmi Skywalker sees her son walk off to Temple life in the care of a Jedi. The next time she sees her beloved Anakin again, she expires in her son’s arms as a damsel. Shmi’s ass-kicking daughter-in-law Padme soon follows her into the afterlife. Padme gives birth, feebly acknowledges her newborns with sorrow, and perishes because of a “broken heart” (or because women’s health care in the advanced far, far away galaxy is as shoddy as women’s health care on our Earth). And in both instances, they serve The Tragedy of Anakin, not the Tragedy of Shmi Skywalker or Tragedy of Senator Padme Amidala.
While the Star Wars franchise is full of father/son relationships and even father/daughter ones, mothers are continually left in the lurch. As Chao notes:
But even with the existence of exceptions [in the larger Star Wars canon], all moms deserved better. Despite the death marks on mothers or the wider emphasis on their other careers, these women aren’t cheapened by their status as mothers. Rather, the scriptwriters take mothers for granted and don’t know what to do with their maternal greatness. The moms deserved better than to be angst-fodder. Didn’t the Star Wars moms deserve to be alive to spend quality time with their offspring as main players in their drama, rather than martyrs to their tragedy?
You can read the full article on The Mary Sue.
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You pays your money and you takes your choice with this week's tabloids.
"Crooked Hillary Will Die in Jail!" screams the 'Globe' cover, with a two-page exclusive inside predicting "Hillary's Prison Death Sentence!" You have to admire the Photoshopped picture of an ashen-faced Hillary, dark bags around her eyes, care-worn face furrowed with wrinkles, clad in an orange jumpsuit behind grey metal prison bars. It's harder to be impressed by the "new evidence that will put her away!" which supposedly will be supplied by former president Bill Clinton when he testifies before the Eastern District of New York grand jury investigating the Clinton Foundation -- testimony which he may never give. And that "death sentence"? That's simply the 'Globe' anticipating that "Bill's testimony sends her away for 20 years," and with her "killer medical ailments, even a 10-year stretch would be a death sentence."
But if you believe the 'National Enquirer' -- and who wouldn't? -- the future looks rosy for Hillary Clinton, who it forecasts could be the next Mayor of New York City. It "Could Happen" assures the 'Enquirer,' which calls her mayoral election "easy pickings."
Singer George Michael "turned to booze and drugs" after his voice was "destroyed" by pneumonia in 2011, leading to his tragic demise, reports the 'Globe.'
Or you can believe the 'Enquirer,' which insists: "Blackmail Demands Drove George To Suicide!" Supposedly Michael was "driven to suicide by sinister blackmail threats from a train of male lovers in his life." It's a typically homophobic allegation that makes little sense for a man who was openly and proudly gay, and had little to fear from exposure.
How about J. Lo's blossoming romance with hip-hop star Drake? "Wedding Bells for J Lo & Drake!" predicts the giddy 'Globe,' whose unnamed source says of their passion: "It's for real -- and it's only getting stronger!" Or if you prefer, believe the 'Enquirer' which has unnamed "pals" wanting J Lo that she is "Courting Danger With Drake!" As one "source close to the singer" opines: "Drake is the poster boy for problems she really doesn't need."
At least the tabloids can agree on one thing: the universe is dangerous, and it's out to get us. "E.T. Is Calling! But top scientists warn us: Don't Answer The Phone!" reports the 'Globe.' Evidently "astronomy experts" have warned: "Earthlings need to brace for a bloody invasion and start laying low." How this failed to make the front page is beyond me. Did "Crooked Hillary" and Dolly Parton's "Secret Family Shame" really seem more important than an alien invasion of Earth? Evidently. Meanwhile the 'National Examiner' warns of the "Universe's Deadly Forces Set To Attack!" Watch out for dying white dwarf stars tearing apart nearby planets, rogue planets careening like pinballs through the cosmos, gamma-ray explosions that could cause mass extinctions, fast-moving black holes and destructive solar flares.
So after so much science, the tabloids feel the need to give us our regular dose of fact-challenged news too. Why are so few celebrities booked to appear at Donald Trump's presidential inaugural celebrations? Not because the stars have shunned him, but because Trump reportedly turned down offers to appear by Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, the Dixie Chicks, Billy Joel, the Beach Boys, Blake Shelton,Gwen Stefani, John Legend, Ice-T and Celine Dion. Well, that's one explanation for their absence.
"William & Kate Unfit to Rule!" proclaims the 'Globe,' allegedly reporting the sentiments of Prince Charles' wife, Camilla. Firstly, let me point out yet again that Prince Charles is next in line to the throne, and William won't "rule" until after Charles has died. But why does Camilla reportedly believe her nephew is unsuited to the throne? Because William's children, George and Charlotte, are being taught Spanish by their nanny, and allegedly "speak Spanish better than English." Even if this were true, having bilingual children should be a point of pride, not shame. And considering that George is all of three years old and Charlotte is aged only one, their vocabulary in any language is likely to be limited to the level of a seasoned 'Globe' reporter.
"Mark Harmon Heart Attack Horror!" reads a 'Globe' headline above photos of the NCIS actor looking spry and healthy. Evidently his father died of a heart attack at the age of 70 in 1990, therefore "pals fear" that 65-year-old Harmon "could be on his last legs!" Because that's what pals are for in the world of the tabloids: living in fear for your life.
"Emma & Ryan Bonkin'??" asks the subtle, sophisticated 'Enquirer' of actors Ryan Reynolds and Emma Stone, who have co-starred in three movies, most recently 'La La Land.' "Secret Lay of La La Land!" adds the incredibly witty headline. Well, did they? No, reports the 'Enquirer,' resorting to what they assume is gossip-land argot: "Our delectable duo nevah, EVAH bonked in real life!" In other words, there's no story, just a salacious and misleading headline. Classy. No wonder Trump loves the 'Enquirer,' saying that the tabloid "should be very respected," and deserves "Pulitzer Prizes for their reporting."
But has the Trump-loving 'Enquirer' become the official mouthpiece for the incoming administration? This week the rag predicts a "Secret Trump-Putin Summit' within 45 days of The Donald taking office. Let's see if they're right. If so, the 'Enquirer' will have a source inside the Trump White House -- perhaps Trump himself? -- that any news organization would envy. If it's true.
It's a shame that this week's tabloids were published just hours too soon to include the as-yet-unsubstantiated "golden shower" and Russian hooker allegations against Donald Trump -- though the 'Enquirer' would probably call them part of a a Hillary Clinton conspiracy. Uncorroborated allegations are the stock-in-trade of the tabloids, but where Trump's concerned they're all lies.
Fortunately we have the crack investigative team at 'Us' magazine to tell us that Kendall Jenner wore it best, actor Charlie Weber "can't start my day without an espresso," that actress Archie Panjabi carries a mini-flashlight, coconut oil and dog treats in her Tumi tote bag, and that the stars are just like us: they buy veggies, shop in fashion boutiques, eat desserts and take selfies on the beach, all of which make me feel that I'm more like Meryl Streep than Donald Trump, who I'm guessing never takes beach selfies or shops for veggies.
'Us' brings us the "secret pasts" of TV's 'Bachelor' show contestants, promising "the truth about Nick's women" -- "sex obsessed, fame hungry, ready to play dirty." But doesn't that describe everyone on reality TV these days?
'People' magazine devotes its cover to Oprah Winfrey's revelation: "How I lost 42 lbs!" which would be all the more impressive if she hadn't lost the same 42 lbs at least a dozen times before. "I finally made peace with food," says Oprah, which is good, because it's no fun being at war with your food. Let's remember: Molotov cocktails were invented in retaliation to "Molotov bread baskets" which rained death and destruction over Finland during the Winter War of 1939 - 1940. Hopefully Donald Trump can negotiate a peace deal with Beef Strogonoff, and we can finally have peace in our thyme.
Onwards and downwards . . .
The Kalvan family brings juggling, acrobatics, science, and engineering together in an astonishing variety show.
Jack, Jeri, Max and Oz are all talented faces you've likely seen on TV and in the movies. In addition to their insane book of skills, they're accomplished jugglers, acrobats, circus and stunt people, this is also a family of makers. Jack is an engineer who can't resist blending science and stunts.
The Kalvan's have devised an astonishing show that employs all their skills, and some really fun contraptions! This family made the toys you wish you always had, and then they dare show you how much fun playing with them can be! Trick-shooting with a tennis ball gun? A synchronized flowerpot drill team? The world's largest whoopee cushion?
Jack Kalvan and Company certainly raises the bar on family activity time.
I've read a few of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels and they are a lot of fun. James Bond is much more flawed and weird in the books than he is in the movies. Right now Amazon is selling the Bond series for $2 a book as Kindle editions. But if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited (I do) you can read them for free. Here's a link to a join Amazon Kindle Unlimited with 30-Day Free Trial.
Hidden Figures—which tells the previously untold story of three black women who were influential in NASA’s Apollo program—is one of my favorite films I’ve seen in a long time. And in this wonderful video, 15-year-old Giovanna from Black Girls Code interviews the stars of the film about its message and the importance of representation. As Janelle Monáe puts it, “Hopefully when [young girls interested in STEM] watch this, you’ll realize that your dream is valid and you are the coolest girls around the planet.”
You can learn more on FutureKatherineJohnsons.com, which is built by Black Girls Code.
Last year Polish graphic designer Michał Kulesza completed not one, but two daily Lego projects. For the first half of the project, he spend 135 days photographing everyday objects transformed into Legos. Kulesza writes, “[In the project] simple everyday objects are connected (or totally inverted) into Lego bricks. In this way I created different grotesque or even absurd daily situations. I took photos in minimal composition and every time I showed new ideas. In my work I just wanted to make people smile.”
For the second half of the project, Kulesza was accidentally “transformed” into a Lego figure and photographed himself in everyday situations.
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Amazon reviews are mixed. Anyone tried it?
In this 360 degree video, the YouTube channel Skunk Bear explores how long it would take to walk to the Moon. And it does so while paying homage to David Bowie’s long career.
Evan from Fight for the Future writes, "Whoah. This is huge news. NBC is reporting that Chelsea Manning is on President Obama's "short-list" for commutation. It even appears that the DOJ has recommended that she be released. Chelsea has suffered immensely at the hands of the U.S. government, all for doing what she thought was right and trying to help people. I hope everyone will drop what they are doing today to call the White House at 202-456-1111 and tell President Obama go do the right thing and reduce Chelsea's sentence to time served. Read a statement from Chelsea's attorney and Fight for the Future here."
Brutal London: Construct Your Own Concrete Capital tells the stories of nine of London's greatest brutalist structures (with an intro by Norman Foster!), including the Barbican Estate, Robin Hood Gardens, Balfron Tower and the National Theatre -- and includes pull-out papercraft models of these buildings for you to assemble and display. (more…)
Thomas "Capital in the 21st Century" Piketty endorses the World Wealth and Income Database, where you will find "open and convenient access to the most extensive available database on the historical evolution of the global distribution of income and wealth, both within countries and between countries" in English, with upcoming translations in Chinese, Spanish, Arabic and French. (more…)
Since 1991, the number of full-time librarians working in Philadelphia's cash-strapped, budget-slashed public schools has declined by 94% -- only eight remain, while the state continues to trail the nation in literacy scores. (more…)
The most remarkable criminal justice story of 2017 is that the FBI has arrested a real corporate criminal, a VW executive who tried to engineer a coverup of the Dieselgate scandal, and that he might go to jail -- it's remarkable because the Obama administration spent eight years resolutely not sending criminal executives to jail, preferring instead to let their corporations buy their way out of criminal sanctions with huge fines, a doctrine pioneered by Obama Attorney General Eric Holder back when he worked for Bill Clinton's administration. But while Clinton rejected this idea, Obama put it into practice. (more…)
Following last night's unverified spy-sourced report concerning Donald Trump's links to Russia and its security services' alleged surveillance of him paying to watch hookers piss on his bed, president-elect Donald Trump ("Peeotus") is getting even madder on Twitter than usual. (more…)