I've been thinking about it, and I might not have been entirely accurate when I wrote in my review of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, also out this weekend, that it's the only movie this year with a skeleton fight. Because didn't oil used to be dinosaur fossils, which in turn used to be dinosaur skeletons? So isn't Deepwater Horizon, about an oil rig explosion, technically one big skeleton fight? These are the thoughts I have at 2 am when I'm trying to desperately to think of something interesting to say about a movie that's good...but not great. It's fine. It's good and fine. It is good and fine and decent and completely, in all ways, an acceptable movie. That also, technically, has a skeleton fight.
Mark Wahlberg stars as Mike Williams, the Chief Electronics Technician on the oil rig Deepwater Horizon, nicknamed the "Well from Hell" for the way everything on it is constantly breaking down. Still, Williams' crew--led by Deepwater Horizon's manager, "Mr. Jimmy" (Kurt Russell)--is barred by BP executives from running the proper tests before turning the rig on. They're already 43 days behind, you see, and every additional day costs them more money. Even if you don't remember from the news what happens from here, you can see it coming: There's a build-up of pressure, an explosion, and soon everything's on fire, leaving Deepwater Horizon's hundred-plus crew members trapped on a gigantic burning boat of death.
Director Peter Berg (Lone Survivor) has crafted a creditable addition to the disaster movie genre. All the expected elements are here: Wahlberg as the family man struggling to get back to his wife (Kate Hudson) and daughter, Russell as the wise old-timer whom the brass refuses to listen to, Dylan O'Brien as the scrappy youngster and Jane the Virgin's Gina Rodriguez as The Girl. (Leather jacket-wearing, muscle-car driving gearhead Gina Rodriguez, though: Yes.) And then there's John Malkovich as Vidrine, BP's top man on the rig and corporate stooge from hell. With a Southern accent dialed up to eleven and a speech pattern out of a demented children's book ("No mud. No flow. We gots. To go."), he's nothing less than a pure, unadulterated gift from heaven here. I want to pluck him and Eva Green out of their respective good-not-great movies and let them gnaw on scenery together for two hours.
Though individual elements of Deepwater Horizon deliver, the movie as a whole never quite gelled for me, in part because it's often quite impossible to figure out who is who, who's going where, and what they're doing and why. I know the disaster movie genre can benefit from a certain level of confusion, so that the audience experience can echo the characters' in some small way, but Berg and screenwriters Matthew Sand and Matthew Michael Carnahan take it overboard here. Are there parts of the drill that... aren't on fire? How long does the explosion and subsequent crew evacuation actually take? Did I ever need this much oil drilling jargon, ever, in my life?
All that said, even if you can't tell exactly what's going on, Deepwater's still engaging, with cinematographer Enrique Chediak in particular deserving kudos for the striking look of the rig as a fiery hellscape. It's just not a movie I'm going to really remember having seen in five years. Watch if it you're bored, or wait for Netflix. Other than that, didn't Luke Cage go up?
I talked to Jessica Moorhouse for her very fun Mo’ Money podcast. We talked about what Ask a Manager is all about, why it’s better to just be a normal person in interviews, bringing up money with your interviewer, how to deal with difficult coworkers, and that letter about the employee who was casting magic curses on her coworkers. And apparently I’ve developed a verbal tic where I say “I mean…” constantly so you can hear that too!
Arrays of microparticles are common in many material science and bioengineering applications, but can be tedious to use because of their limited capacity. Large-scale microparticle arrays (LSMAs) can make analysis more efficient and precise, allowing for the placement and study of many items at once. Unfortunately, today’s techniques of moving to a large-scale platform cannot simultaneously accomplish the requirements of scalability, precision, specificity and versatility that would make the use of LSMAs practical.
Researchers from MIT and the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have developed a new technique using porous microwells that pushes the precision and scalability of LSMAs to a new extreme. This new method, described in the Sept. 5 issue of Nature Materials, uses fluid flow to guide tens of thousands of microparticles at once, pushing them into microwells as the fluid moves through small open pores at the bottom of the porous well arrays. The new LSMA technique sorts and arrays particles on the basis of their size, shape, or modulus. This sequential particle assembly allows for contiguous and nested particle arrangements, as well as particle recollection and pattern transfer.
“Today’s applications are increasingly complex; this new technique creates the most precise arrangement of particles, allowing for a more detailed and accurate array,” says Patrick Doyle, the Robert T. Haslam (1911) Professor of Chemical Engineering and Singapore Research Professor at MIT. “This technique opens the way to new applications, including the study of diseased cells and anti-counterfeiting practices.”
Led by Doyle and Daniel Irimia, associate director of the BioMEMS Resource Center at MGH, the team developed this porous microwell platform where guided microparticles are inserted into congruent microwells, whereas geometrically mismatched particles are removed in a washing step. “Microwells have been used as an assembly template in the past, but they were useful only for single-particle arrangement,” says Irimia. “Scaling-up efforts resulted in particle arrangements with some degree of randomness. In our technique, controllable driving forces allow for the positioning of tens of thousands of particles with high specificity.”
The ability to generate large arrays of cells is important for cell-screening applications, which aid immunology and the fight against cancer. For example, arranging cells in 2-D arrays for the study of cellular processes that progress over time has significant advantages compared with serial approaches, such as flow cytometry. Cells in a 2-D array can be analyzed more than once and several cells imaged simultaneously. This creates a higher yield which helps to avoid potential differences between the first and last cell analyzed.
The team tested the performance of LSMA techniques by generating arrays of more than 10,000 mammalian glioma cells, which can cause brain tumors. An acceptable yield for each array took approximately 60 seconds, significantly faster than the previous method using passive cell settling in microwells, which requires between five and 40 minutes. “Because of the speed in which the cells are arranged, there is little change in the cell’s state,” says Doyle. “This gives us more time to observe how cells respond to drugs and disease.”
This research began when a team at MGH, led by Irimia, attempted a new way to arrange cells for analysis. “Understanding how neutrophils [the most abundant type of white blood cells in mammals] react to stimuli helps us to understand how inflammation starts and evolves inside the body,” he says, “This technique allows a level of complexity we’ve not had before; we can analyze the same cells repeatedly and therefore gather more information about their function and interactions in less time.”
The team also demonstrated that this new technique is compatible with particle recollection and pattern transfer. To demonstrate the encoding/decoding capacity of LSMAs, the researchers generated a 2-D arrangement of nanocrystal-laden microparticles for use in anti-counterfeiting. These nanocrystals, developed by Doyle and his team specifically for use in anti-counterfeiting applications, glow when exposed to near-infrared light. They can be altered to emit any color, allowing for the creation of unique barcodes invisible to the naked eye.
Conventional printing of the microparticle barcodes resulted in limited precision and resolution. By using a prealigned microwell array, this new approach generates a high-resolution, multicomponent pattern. The pattern is then transferred to a target object, like a poker chip. In tests, an image of the transferred pattern was taken with an iPhone under near-infrared exposure and was successfully decoded within 10 seconds.
“This development can impact future precision medicine since the platform can be effectively applied in many precision high-throughput molecular diagnostics, single cell analysis, and other innovative quantitative cell biological experiments,” says Luke Lee, the Arnold and Barbara Silverman Distinguished Professor of Bioengineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Biophysics at the University of California at Berkeley, who was not involved in the research. “Since smart microparticle technology with barcodes has great potential in life sciences and clinical applications, this team’s new solution for scalability is a great accomplishment for a large-scale automated precision biology and medicine.”
Other authors on the paper were Jae Jung Kim, Ki Wan Bong, and Eduardo Reátegui. The research was sponsored by grants by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
For years, we have dedicated our In the Kitchen With column almost exclusively to first-person stories. I thought it would be nice to bring in an additional focus this week with a short film by documentary filmmaker, Sara Washington. Her short captures the story behind Lauren Rose’s featured Stuffed Eggplant Recipe. Here we get to see the food through both Sara and Lauren’s lens. —Kristina
Why Sara chose Lauren Rose’s story to feature: Lauren and I both grew up in the same city of Stockton, CA. We both come from families that really value gathering together around food, and we both grew up watching our grandmothers in the kitchen, but the dishes that were on our tables were very different. My grandmother moved to Stockton from Texas, hers immigrated from Lebanon. I really liked the idea of this food portrait being of a food-obsessed Stocktonian by another.
Portrait by Rebecca Goldsmith.
More from Sara about telling food stories through film:
I love hearing people’s stories through food. I love hearing people’s stories, period, it’s why I am a documentary filmmaker. But when food is added to the equation, there are additional dimensions of texture, smell, sound, and taste that enhance my understanding of where they come from, and maybe what they aspire to be. When food and memory are married in these stories, it’s never just about the dish itself, but who they were with and what they were doing when they ate it.
When I think about places I’ve lived and experiences I have had, I remember them through the food I ate. I trace this back to the family I grew up in. I remember hearing my grandmother on the phone with her sister. They caught up only briefly on family news before their conversations turned to all of the foods they had recently prepared and eaten. They traded any new tips they had learned for old recipes, and critiqued the food at their most recent potlucks.
I don’t think you have to have been raised in a food-obsessed home like mine to be able to understand the language of dishes that define our lives when portrayed on film. And because food lends itself so well to sharing, when one person steps into the time machine that represents the taste and smells of their childhood, we all get to go with them.
Stuffed Summer Eggplant
– 1 large classic eggplant
– 1 large yellow onion
– 2 garlic cloves
– 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
– Salt and pepper to taste
– ½ pound ground beef (20% fat)
– ½ pound ground lamb
– 1 tablespoon cayenne
– 1 teaspoon cumin
– 1 teaspoon sumac
– ¼ cup pine nuts
– 6-8 small Indian eggplants
– Pulp of 1 large classic eggplant (see above)
– 1 garlic clove
– ½ cup tahini
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 ½ cup Greek yogurt
– Juice from half a lemon
– 1 bunch of fresh mint, chopped
– Salt to taste
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Puncture the skin of the large classic eggplant several times with a sharp knife. Bake for 1 hour or until the exterior is soft. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Dice the yellow onion and mince the garlic and cook in a saucepan over medium heat with olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste, and continue cooking until the onions are caramelized. Add the beef, lamb, cayenne, cumin, sumac and pine nuts and cook until the meat is done. Salt and pepper again to taste. Set saucepan aside to cool.
Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees. Cut a large “X” into the skin of the small Indian eggplants. Roast them on medium heat in an oven-proof saucepan until they are soft. Open the eggplants at the “X” and stuff the meat and onion mixture inside each eggplant. Cover and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, uncover, and set aside.
To make the Baba Ghanoush –– Slice the cooked large classic eggplant open lengthwise. With a spoon, scoop out the pulp and dice it finely. In a medium bowl, add the garlic clove and a teaspoon of salt and mince the mixture. Add eggplant pulp and ½ cup tahini and mix well.
To make the Yogurt sauce –– In a small bowl, mix the yogurt, lemon juice and salt.
To assemble your platter –– Spread the baba ghanoush on a small platter. Stagger the stuffed mini Indian eggplants on top of the baba ghanoush. Drizzle yogurt sauce over them and sprinkle with chopped fresh mint.
About Sara: Sara was raised in a really big family in California’s Central Valley, the oldest of six children. She earned her undergraduate degree from UC Santa Cruz and her graduate degree from The New School. Both degrees are in documentary media. To see a drink-related feature by Sara from our archives, featuring Crystal Sykes, click here. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram, and see a three-minute interview with her here.
About Lauren: Lauren Rose is a private chef, sommelier, and cheesemonger based in Northern California who enjoys creating unique dishes and wine pairings. Find out how to join her next EatWith pop-up dinner here, follow her on Instagram here, and find her on Twitter here.
= Recs update:
unfitforsociety has been updated for September 2016 with 24 recs in 7 fandoms:
* 12 Star Wars
* 4 Avengers
* 2 Check, Please!
* 2 Ghostbusters
* 2 Stranger Things
* 1 Harry Potter & 1 Star Trek Beyond
= Pitch: The Interim
( spoilers )
= Last night, twistedingenue mentioned how great a Check Please!/Sports Night crossover would be, and now I would really like to see Jack's big coming out interview be with Dan Rydell. ♥DAN♥ I am just saying. Also, while I'm at it with the crossovers that should exist, surely Ginny Baker should be on Sports Night and Isaac can be all stately and mentoring in public and secretly fannish about her. ♥ISAAC♥
= LUKE CAGE TONIGHT. I AM EXCITE. GIVE IT TO ME. I was talking about it with a co-worker yesterday and she was like, "We will convene on Monday to discuss!" so I guess I won't be parceling it out and making it last. Ah well, the weather is supposed to be chilly and rainy, so I guess that's all right.
= Speaking of fannishly inclined co-workers (though I haven't yet discerned the true nature of her fannishness beyond it existing), I thought the response was bad when I told non-internet people that I liked Jason Todd. That's nothing compared to the hilariously horrified reactions I get when I say, "You know, The Clone Wars actually made me like Anakin Skywalker." The recoiling that goes on then, and the clear marking down of my fannish intelligence, is pretty funny. Otoh, if she actually gives TCW a shot and likes it, I think we could have some fun chats. *hands*
I wish I could tell you Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a good movie. It's Tim Burton, misfit auteur, essentially doing a vintage 1940s version of the X-Men. It looks gorgeous, has the odd exciting set piece and features actors we've liked in other things. The book on which it's based, by Ransom Riggs, is enjoyable. Etc.
I wish I could tell you Miss Peregrine is good, except it isn't. It's not bad, either. It is, you might say, a movie that exists.
Asa Butterfield--so good in Hugo and Ender's Game, here giving an uncharacteristically flat performance hampered by a woeful American accent--plays Jake, a Florida teen who grew up on his grandfather's (Terence Stamp) tales of the British boarding school where he spent his idyllic childhood years. The school is a little slice of heaven, where it's bright and sunny every day, and oh yeah, the students all have superpowers and the headmistress Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) can turn into a bird. The death of his grandfather sends Jake in search of the boarding school, hoping to find closure. Instead, he stumbles upon the school exactly as it was in his grandfather's youth, thanks to the ability of its headmistress to create "time loops." There are bad guys hunting these "Peculiars," as they're called. Jake has to help them. Yada yada.
(One of those "yadas"--the monsters in this movie are basically Slenderman, at least design-wise. Tall, elongated limbs, wears a suit, no eyes, face tentacles, hunts children. Can the entire Internet bring a copyright claim or...?)
There are parts of Miss Peregrine that work really well, because they're weird and ... well, old-school Burton-y. There's one character who can bring inanimate objects to life as puppets -- dolls, corpses, he doesn't much care -- and a fight he stages between two Frankentoys could be right out of Edward Scissorhands. There's a skeleton fight in this movie. An honest-to-God skeleton fight. Every movie without a skeleton fight, as far as I'm concerned, is a blight upon the face of the earth, and yet Miss Peregrine is the only movie this year that has one. (I think. I haven't seen Nine Lives.)
Eva Green, needless to say, is kookily brilliant as Miss Peregrine, who in the movie has substantially more edge than her book counterpart. Look, if you want to see Eva Green as a crazypants and slightly scary headmistress who goes all-in on the bird mannerisms and has
maybe definitely murdered people, I can't guarantee she won't do that in another, better movie at some point in the future, but I sure as shit know Miss Peregrine is the only chance you have to see it now. (If you want her as a fabulously dressed teacher at a boarding school, on the other hand...) Samuel L Jackson, as the delightfully villainous Barron, goes all-in on the scenery-chewing as well...
...which, together with Green's performance and all Miss Peregrine's other good bits, really just puts in stark contrast how blah the movie as a whole is. The sparks of brilliance make me a little sad, really, because they serve as a reminder that the once-great Tim Burton has been running on autopilot for years now. Creepy toys and outcast misfits, sure -- but where's he fun of Beetlejuice or the heart of Edward Scissorhands? Switch out Helena Bonham Carter for Eva Green, and you still have the same old "cast my pale, dark-haired British muse in a role that allows her to be intense and weird" thing.
And it works, because Green sells it, but my God, Tim Burton, what happened to you? You used to be a truly original, compelling filmmaker! Now you're little more than a collection of tics, assembled in a way that's not bad (Burton still surrounds himself with expert craftspeople, after all, among them costume designer Colleen Atwood and cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel) so much as soulless. Quirkiness for the sake of quirkiness ain't sufficient--go down that road, and you get Burton's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which took Roald Dahl's eccentric candyman and dialed his creep level up to borderline pedo because ?!?!?!?!!.
Sorry. Still not over that one.
Miss Peregrine is a waste of a good Eva Green, is what it is.
And more movies need skeleton fights.
Which just goes to show that if I do need to get a new computer, I shouldn't be looking at the top of the line. I'd like just a basic laptop that can take a beating. (Unfortunately I'm really attached to iCal--and a planning/calendar app that I actually use is worth its weight in precious metals.)
Computers are much cheaper in the States, you'll notice, if you accidentally go to apple.com instead of apple.ca.
My "genius" bar appointment is this afternoon. They've always been really good to me, fixing my old computer, which is a 2012 Macbook. It's completely out of warranty so I don't know what kind of cost I'll be looking at, but. We will see. Tangentially, I despise planned obsolescence.
Now to work.
I love a flat, shiny wallpaper as much as the next girl, but sometimes it’s nice to use wallpaper to add some texture to a room. Grasscloth often gets a bad rap as being a little too 70s, but I think when used in the right context, it can look modern and sophisticated and add just the right amount of warmth to a room. I didn’t know until recently, thanks to Better Homes & Gardens, that “grasscloth” is actually a catch-all term for a range of natural fiber papers made of everything from hemp and jute to reed and arrowroot. So today I rounded up 15 of my favorite textured grasscloth papers for anyone looking to add some texture and warmth to their walls this season. xo, grace
Over the past several months, Nate Parker has attempted in various degrees of success ranging from "abject failure" to "better I guess kind of," to provide damage control regarding his college rape accusations. Parker has always maintained that the encounter was consensual. But for his victim, as her sister told Variety, that was not the case. That this case caused her, someone who had just aged out of the foster system and for whom going to college was "a big deal," to drop out of college. She ultimately took her own life in 2012.
In discussing her sister, Sharon Loeffler points out that this history makes one invented moment of Parker's film questionable to say the least.
As her sister, the thing that pains me most of all is that in retelling the story of the Nat Turner slave revolt, they invented a rape scene. The rape of Turner's wife is used as a reason to justify Turner's rebellion.
This is fiction. I find it creepy and perverse that Parker and Celestin would put a fictional rape at the center of their film, and that Parker would portray himself as a hero avenging that rape.
Given what happened to my sister, and how no one was held accountable for it, I find this invention self-serving and sinister, and I take it as a cruel insult to my sister's memory.
With all the attention surrounding this case and a million opportunities to comprehend and face up to his past actions, and at least one moment where it seemed he was beginning to understand the backlash, Parker's upcoming 60 Minutes appearance is devastating.
Anderson Cooper: Do you feel guilty about anything that happened that night?
Nate Parker: I don't feel guilty.
Cooper: Do you feel you did something morally wrong?
Parker: As a Christian man, just being in that situation, yeah sure. I am 36 years old right now...my faith is very important to me...so looking back through that lens...it's not the lens I had when I was 19 years old.
Variety reports that Parker goes on about his accuser. And how he won't apologize for his actions.
"I was falsely accused...I went to court...I was vindicated," Parker tells Anderson Cooper, according to a press release from "60 Minutes." "I feel terrible that this woman isn't here...her family had to deal with that, but as I sit here, an apology is - no."
The concept of consent is not nor should it be considered "new" in any sense of the word. For far too many men, it is not something that, at best, they've never had to consider. More commonly, the definition of consent is something they learn from T-shirts:
And perhaps because of that idea, that the men who've had a tenuous grasp of consent thus far in life do not want to feel bad or guilty for past behavior that they didn't realize was bad, as well as the more complicated matter that Birth of a Nation is the work of black artists and was poised to be the year's most celebrated film, the level of forgiveness and explanation for Parker is varied. Mostly by gender, as to be expected. Even Jesse Williams put the work above the deed when it comes to Parker:
They don't want you to see The Birth of a Nation though....— jesseWilliams. (@iJesseWilliams) September 22, 2016
People will see Birth of a Nation. It will make money. His accuser will still be dead.
My thoughts are with Gabrielle Union who is going to end up stuck having to discuss this interview and who will continue to do a far better job of it than Parker.
Hello, it’s about 10:00 am on Friday in Chicago. From now until noon, I’m going to answer as many short Twitter questions as I can under the hashtag #awkwardchat. Patreon patrons can also submit questions to the post comments there. Turning off comments here until the chat is over to limit confusion (and # of characters/words).
Let’s do this!
“What do I tell myself when I have to memorize, for an exam, things that have proven to be inaccurate or false?”
Howabout: “Once I make it through this class I will devote my life to setting the record straight. Now, my white-hot anger shall be my memory aid.”
Depression, anxiety, and lingering grief and anger from a bad breakup are wearing on me, but I still need to Get Shit Done(tm). How do I approach doing that without ignoring how I am feeling?
Give yourself permission to grieve for a short time each day. Maybe set a timer for 20 minutes and free-write in a journal in the morning so that you can indulge the yucky feelings and get them out on the page. When the timer goes off, make a choice to put that aside and focus on the things you need to do. The journal will be there later, or tomorrow, when you need it. If you can make a ritual like this where you have permission to feel your feelings, you might also be able to give yourself permission to put it aside when you need to get things done. When that fails, I’ve heard the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear is pretty good.
I’m working through a poly/metamour communication issue. Any tips on balancing different personalities and needs? Also, I’m an “everyone needs to like me gal,” and I often put that in front of whether or not I actually *want* to be friends with this person. The answer to your question is in your question: You’re considerate of other people’s needs, sometimes at the expense of your own. You’re probably a fantastic partner and really good at the negotiations of poly life as long as everything is going your way. What if for the next little while you tried an experiment, where you gently/kindly state your own preferences and let other people do some of the work of balancing? “I don’t want to hang out this weekend.” “I like our friendship just how it is.” “I’m glad you and (Partner) are having fun, that’s great! I don’t want to join your hangouts/hang out with you one-on-one.” “I prefer waffles to pancakes.”
How does one combine introvert and a very extrovert job (e.g. teaching) without feeling exhausted all the time? Dude. I wish I knew.
Ok, that’s not true, I *know* some ways, I don’t always *do* those ways.
- Remember to eat & drink – regular meals, bring a snack, drink water, plan to refuel.
- Get up early on class days and use that time to prepare/wake up all the way.
- Use the class breaks to get *away* for 10 minutes. Sometimes I go to the bathroom on a different floor so I can have a few minutes free of interaction.
- Track energy levels and look for patterns. It’s okay to plan something social for right after teaching – when I’m on and in that mode, I’ll stay on for a while. I will need some downtime the next day, though, so, plan for that if possible.
- Schedule blocks of time when I look at email/work with students.
- Simplify other stuff I have to do that day as much as possible.
- Have lots of teaching strategies on hand – get students working in small groups, get students presenting & sharing clips, get students moderating discussions & their own critique sessions, to give my voice/energy some built-in breaks.
Do you ever regret starting an advice column?
Rarely, if ever. Sometimes I regret that it took me off the road of making movies for a good while, but I love the work and the community. If I could do this as my main job, I probably would.
Ever regret answering a question?
Yes, a few. That one from the anxious guy, which I won’t link to, but if you remember it, you know exactly what it is. A few where I fucked up the advice, missed something really obvious, or didn’t think it through all the way. Some where the Letter Writer quickly became overwhelmed by All The Opinions of The Internet rolling in on their fragile life situation.
I’d love some Ask A Manager-style updates from letter writers. How likely is that too happen with CA?
I do get updates every now and then, some private, some with permission to post, but I never want letter writers to feel obligated to update us. I like Ask A Manager’s updates, too, and I know the woman who wasn’t allowed to pee haunts us all to this day. If you’re reading, we love you and hope you are okay. This sounds like a good January project, though. I’ll see what I can pull together.
HOW IS YOUR CAT SO CUTE? ARE YOU WILLING TO SELL? HOW MUCH $$$?
Her cuteness is a mystery – if only it came as a serum we could spray on not-cute things to make them cuter! As tempting as cash offer is, she is wrapped around my head like a tiny hat right now and winter is coming.
How do I overcome Resting Friendly Face?
I share your curse. Headphones. Always having a book with me. Helping people when I can, saying (while probably still smiling), “Forgive me but I have no idea! Good luck!” when I can’t. Basically, I can’t overcome it, so I try to live with it and then write a website about boundaries.
I’m going to be out of work to donate a kidney. I don’t have to tell my coworkers why. Pros/cons of telling?
I don’t have pros and cons, just questions.
- Do you like your coworkers?
- How gossipy are they? Do you think they are speculating about why you’re out of the office and coming up with weird reasons for it?
- Would you tell them if you were having another kind of surgery, like, “I broke my foot, need surgery”?
- Are any of them doing a giant favor by covering for you?
- Are you going to need any kind of specific help or recovery time when you come back?
- You sound like a person who is pretty private and who doesn’t a big deal made about you, which seems like a good reason not to tell. Maybe hold off on the specifics until after the fact.
Masterminds -- which opens nationwide today (though you'd be hard pressed to know that given the decided lack of promotion) -- is proof again that all the talent in the world cannot salvage a bad script, and not even a good screenwriter can make up for terrible performances. Masterminds is an atrociously bad comedy, and absolutely everyone is to blame.
Jared Hess directed Masterminds, and god bless the guy, but if Gentlemen Broncos and Nacho Libre were not proof enough that Napoleon Dynamite was a fluke, Masterminds should seal the deal. Here, he amps up the most obnoxious excesses of his entire cast and lets their grating bad-improv skills run amok. There's barely a laugh in the entire film, which looks like it was shot entirely in one take while the actors were still working out their characters.
Based on a true story, the premise itself is fascinating, which makes Masterminds all the more a waste. It's about the 1997 Loomis Fargo robbery -- also known as the "hillbillly heist" -- the second largest cash robbery in the history of the United States. David Ghantt (Zach Galifianakis), an employee of Loomis Fargo, robbed his own vault, left the $17.3 million in cash with his co-conspirators, Kelly Campbell (Kristen Wiig) and Steve Chambers (Owen Wilson) and fled the country to Mexico. Chambers promised to wire him money in Mexico until the investigation blew over and Ghantt could return to North Carolina.
However, the FBI knew immediately who robbed the vault (Ghant was seen on video camera), and it didn't take long for the FBI to loop in Kelly Campbell. Steve Chambers and his wife (Mary Elizabeth Ellis) were a little more difficult to connect to the heist. However, the fact that a man who formerly lived in a mobile home was lavishly spending money on a luxury home ($635,000 in cash), expensive cars, and a ring ($42,000 in cash) eventually made it easy to connect the dots. In the meantime, however, Chambers not only refused to wire money to Ghantt in Mexico, but ultimately hired a hitman (Jason Sudeikis) to take him out. The FBI (Leslie Jones, Jon Daly) made easy work of the case, however, and everyone involved was eventually arrested and imprisoned.
The problem with the movie, however, is that the talented cast had no idea what the hell they were trying to do. They're meant to be trailer-park trash, but they come off as character experiments on a bad night at the Groundlings. Galifianakis seems to be playing a character out of Dumb and Dumber 3: The Dumbening; Kristen Wiig plays what could only be described as her worst SNL character; Owen Wilson plays an Owen Wilson character; and Sudeikis plays a bumbling hitman who can't pull the trigger after he finds out his target shares the same name and birthdate, which is the dumbest twist since the Martha revelation in Batman vs. Superman.
I wish I could say that McKinnon -- who plays the fiancée of Ghantt -- acquitted herself better, but she plays one of those creepy McKinnon characters who just stares at the camera and makes faces, like Jim Carrey in nearly all of his comedies since 2000 (coincidentally, Jim Carrey originally signed on for Galifianakis' role but smartly pulled out). Leslie Jones, meanwhile, has around five lines, and all of them involve yelling.
There is nothing of value in this movie. Even the outtakes during the credits are bad. With a cast like this, and Emily Spivey (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Up All Night) as part of the writing team, Masterminds shouldn't be nearly as obnoxious and dull as it is, but nothing ever clicks. It's a farce that never farces; a comedy without jokes. It's 90-minutes of mugging for the camera, but the only people who feel mugged are those that pay to see Masterminds.
To its credit, Masterminds does nail down the broad strokes the real story, although there were a couple of noteworthy details the film left out. For instance, after stealing $17.3 million -- $11 million of which was in $20 bills -- the conspirators had to leave behind $3 million in cash because they couldn't it all in their cars.
Also, the film misses a real-life detail that's more amusing than anything in the film. From Wikipedia:
An additional tip reached the FBI when Michelle Chambers made a large deposit at a bank. She had previously been making frequent small deposits to avert suspicion. But after one visit, she asked a teller "How much can I deposit before you have to report it to the feds?" followed by "Don't worry, it is not drug money," the bank filled out a suspicious activity report, which ultimately reached the FBI.
ethrosdemon did not want a service or memorial of any kind. She didn't want flowers or cards sent to her family. Kassie's mom suggested that people if people want to do something, they should donate to a local animal shelter or rescue. I think we all know how much ethrosdemon cared deeply about her animals. I think she would also appreciate donations to local LGBT youth centers and organizations that help people living with HIV and AIDS.
Missyjack wrote an obit talking about Kassie's presence in fandoms & fannish activity.
Please feel free to pass this information around to people you think would want to know. Unfortunately ethrosdemon did not make a list of people she wanted contacted after she died. Also ethrosdemon did not let people know what she wanted done with her online presence and fic. Her family needs space to grieve and this is not a good time to ask.
ethrosdemonwas a complicated person to be friends with. She was smart, charming, passionate and loving. She was also volatile, narcissistic, stubborn and harsh. My feelings about her life and death are complicated. It's OK to feel a bazillion different things. Kassie always had a hard time with goodbyes and it's not surprising this final goodbye is difficult.
It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.
* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue :)
Does the modeling industry fetishize whiteness?
It turns out that the answer is: it does and it doesn’t. Ashley Mears, a model turned sociologist, found that high fashion models are overwhelmingly white, but that commercial modeling — the kind you see in catalogs for stores like Target, TJ Maxx, and JC Penney — is much more racially inclusive. Similarly, extreme thinness is more pronounced among high fashion models, whereas commercial models tend to have a few more inches around their waists.
Mears says that the difference has to do with the contrasting purposes of the different modeling worlds. High fashion is supposed to be, by definition, unattainable. The women used in high fashion, then, should be the most idealized, with bodies that are among the most difficult to attain and beauty that is the most rareified. In this context, whiteness is a marker of elite status because white femininity, thanks to white supremacy in U.S. culture, is the most purely feminine femininity of all.
In contrast, the commercial market is actually designed to sell clothes to everyday people. In this case, they want consumers to identify with their models. Their models aren’t supposed to signify social distance, they’re supposed to be just like us. Using more diverse models and models who are less waif-like helps accomplish those goals.
Screen shot from the JC Penney catalog, thanks to reader Chelsea S.:
Originally posted in 2010.Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Here’s a press release I received today from Worldcon 75, next year’s Worldcon in Helsinki, Finland:
The 75th World Science Fiction Convention, (“Worldcon”) taking place in Helsinki in August 2017, announced today that a special Hugo category for “Best Series” will be included in the 2017 Hugo Awards.
The Hugo Awards are the leading awards for excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy, and have been presented at Worldcons since 1953. They are voted on by members of each year’s Worldcon.
Fans voted in August 2016 to trial a new Hugo award for “Best Series”, which could be added in 2018. Each Worldcon Committee has the authority to introduce a special category Hugo award, and Worldcon 75 has decided to test “Best Series” in 2017. This follows the precedent of the 2009 Worldcon, which trialled “Best Graphic Story” before it became a regular Hugo the following year. Fans at Worldcon 75 will be able to decide whether to ratify the “Best Series” for future years and suggest revisions to the award definition at the World Science Fiction Society Business Meeting held in Helsinki during the convention.
Nicholas Whyte, Worldcon 75 Hugo administrator, said, “The proposed Hugo for “Best Series” is a big change, the first time that a new category may be added to the written fiction Hugo categories in fifty years. There is clearly a great deal of interest in how this new award will work, and what might be nominated.”
An eligible work for this special award is a multi-volume science fiction or fantasy story, unified by elements such as plot, characters, setting, and presentation, which has appeared in at least three volumes consisting of a total of at least 240,000 words by the close of the calendar year 2016, at least one volume of which was published in 2016.
My first thought, because I have an ego, is that this is a Hugo I won’t be eligible for, as I have no novels out this year, and therefore no eligible series. Unless, I guess, I quickly whomp up an Old Man’s War novella and make it available as a single volume before the end of the year — would that work?
Which is my other, really more relevant, question: What constitutes a “volume” in this case? I assume (for no particular reason) that a volume has to be released in itself and not as part of a larger publication, such as a magazine or anthology, but would a individually-released short story (or novelette, or novella) count toward a series credit? What about a graphic novel, set in the universe and part of the continuity? How about a song whose lyrics are written by a series author, set in the series universe? As long as all the previous criteria are met — at least three volumes, at least 240,000 words — where is the boundary line for a new volume?
Also, here’s another thought: Does this new volume have to be written by the author of the previous installments? If I hire someone to whomp up a new story in the Old Man’s War universe, and that story meets the criteria for a “volume,” whatever that might be, would it make the whole series eligible? And if so, who would accept the Hugo if it won? Me, or the new writer, or both? Or the editor of the series? Or the publisher? Or — and here’s a fun possible criterion — to the owner of the copyright?
(Combining both above: Would an anthology of short stories set in the universe constitute a new volume? And if so, to whom would the Hugo go?)
This isn’t to suggest I think a Hugo for series is a bad idea at all. But I do think it’s possible that unless the definition for “volume” is concretely defined, you might see a rush of shorter works tying into a series dropping into the stream of commerce between now and December 31. Electronic publishing makes that possible (let’s hope it’s a windfall for copy editors). After the hijinks of the last few years, let’s not pretend there aren’t people out there who will be happy to game the system if they can.
This “Best Series” Hugo is a trial run, to see how things work, and to see if it’s a good idea to continue such a Hugo. My own personal thought on a Best Series Hugo, if it were to continue, would be that I would wanted it handled as such:
- It’s not awarded every year, it’s awarded every five years, with an eligibility window of five years;
- If awarded every five years, the finalist slate is twice as long as the finalist slates in other categories;
- It’s a “one time” win, i.e., once a series is awarded, it’s ineligible for further wins in the category (although individual works in the series would still be eligible for other relevant Hugos);
- At least three volumes, at least 240,000 words total;
- A “volume” is defined as a new, original story of at least 25,000 words, released individually and not as part of a collection, magazine or anthology;
- The recipient for the Hugo would be the series author(s) and editor(s);
- The current “Best Novel” Hugo criteria would be amended to take out the bit that allows a series to have been nominated if no previous volumes had individually been nominated.
Why would I do it this way? Because series are (generally speaking) a multi-year endeavor and should be considered as such and because the number of eligible series in any given year is substantially smaller than the number of eligible works in any other Hugo category for fiction; because I think if you don’t define “volume” as a substantial work then the category runs the risk of being gamed; and because I think while editing is important to individual novels, it’s especially important to series.
If I had to pick just one of those criteria to pass on to an official Hugo definition, it would be the “one-time win” one. The Hugos aren’t the Emmys. If a series has gotten “Best Series” once, I think it’s okay for the category to be closed to that series further.
I’ll also note that “Best Series” here is clearly appears to be geared toward novels, so my own fantasy criteria for the category weights toward additional work of at least novella length. That said, I think you could make a perfectly good and valid argument that a “series” could be a bunch of short stories all set in the same universe, or anthologies set in the same universe, or graphic novels in the same universe, etc, as long as they meet the “three volumes/240,000 words” criteria. I’m not going to make that argument, but I think you could make that argument.
Finally, I’ll also note that if the Series Hugo does pick up traction and becomes an annual award, then what’s really likely to happen from a practical point of view is that the Hugos will be awarding a second “Best Novel” award, which just happens to be going to series novels. That’s fine but maybe there should be thought given to that fact — perhaps by an additional rule that says if a Best Novel finalist is in a series up for Best Series in the same year, if the novel and series both win their categories then the author gets to go home with whichever of the two awards they received the most number of votes for, with the other award going to the next work in line. Otherwise I suspect you’re going to see a lot of Best Novel and Best Series awards carried off by the same authors, because the votes will be highly correlated — someone who votes for a book in a series for Best Novel is also likely to think highly of the series in general.
Tell me your thoughts on a Best Series Hugo, and your thoughts on my thoughts.