Archive for April, 2013

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April Showers

30/04/2013

This has been a numbing month.

Work is busy. My son had a stomach virus. A friend moved in with us from Indianapolis.

And then it was Patriots Day.

Being a Massachusetts native, Patriots Day was always a day met with enjoyment – a way to get out of school, watch the Red Sox game that started in the morning, and catch the winners of the Marathon as soon as the Sox game wrapped up. It was a celebration – a day used for remembering Massachusetts importance in the founding of our country, in the pursuit of liberty and democracy.

Now that I live in Florida, I don’t celebrate Patriots Day. Rather than dates celebrating the democratic spirit of our country, we get strawberry festivals and hurricane days. Rather than tuning into NESN to catch the Sox game, we get the Rays. Rather than celebrating, I sit, 1100 miles removed, and reminisce about when I lived in Fall River.

April 15th 2013, my worlds collided, and in a way, shattered.

At roughly 4PM, two bombs were detonated at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. In the aftermath, my city – a place I still identify as home – is in chaos. At least 100 people are injured. 2 are dead – one of which was an 8 year old boy. People are scattered, fleeing on a day that should instead be celebrated as one of pure joy and accomplishment.

Despite all of this, I am hopeful. The videos of the bombings, despite people fleeing in terror, showed waves of people running to aide those that had fallen. Police and rescue workers responded instantaneously, helping those that were in need. It made me proud to live in a country so uniquely designed to immediately pitch in and help out. We are Americans, and in times of need, we do what we need to in order to help our fellow countrymen.

There has been sentiment amongst people I know that they wish that Captain America and Superman were real, following the terror attacks in Boston. My friend Elliot Serrano said it best – “They are. In each of us.”

As I am a nerd, I leave you with one final thought. There are oaths that members of various Lantern Corps recite upon charging their rings in the Green Lantern mythos. My favorite, and one that is truly appropriate in current circumstance, is from the Blue Lantern Corps – the symbols of Hope in a chaotic universe.

In raging day
In fearful night
With strong hearts full
Our souls ignite
When all seems lost in the war of light
Look to the stars
For Hope burns bright

~Jay

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Jason Collins

29/04/2013

Lets talk about Jason Collins, a Washington Wizards basketball player,  and the fact that he is the first professional athlete to come out openly gay while still an active player and how badly some people are trying to spin it.

Let me be clear,  This IS a big deal and it should be.  For anybody who is active in sports for somebody who has played on 12 different NBA teams to come out paves the way for professional, semi-professional, college, and every other athlete to do the same. It is good because there is a long history of homophobic tendencies in professional sports.  Sometimes its the gay guy in the showers with his other male teammates stigma or its the portrayed erotic fantasy of the all female team making out with each other.  Make no mistake these are both are versions of this.

What Jason Collins has done is incredibly brave and I do not want to down play it all because it really does open up a lot of doors for athletes every where but the spin the media is putting on this is abhorrent.

ESPN is on at work (I work at a cable company, its almost always on at least one of our TV’s because its work friendly) all day today and I have seen one commentator after analyst after journalist after NBA coach/admin say how its no big deal.  They say how they already guessed he was, along with other athletes, and the only concern they see is possibly with younger, less mature players.

Excuse me while I try not to laugh out loud.  Does ESPN live in the same country that I do?  Instead of interviewing people who need to be okay with this because its their job why don’t you interview other players from other teams.  I would be very interested to have ESPN go into the Nick’s or the Laker’s or the Thunder’s locker room and see what other players think;  I have a feeling the rose color of this story will wear off real quickly.

However I hope I am wrong. I really do hope that because athletes have achieved almost god status in the US, and a lot of the world, this will be the final push that starts knocking down all kinds of discrimination bias in the US.  Maybe this will open up a path for all LGBQT* folks to be better accepted for the fact that they are human.  Maybe sports can do a really good thing here.

I know sports are not an often topic for DFTBA News but what do you think; Should ESPN be down-playing or up-playing this more? And should they include interviews with players as well?

~Peeta

*no source article other than ESPN the channel because this has been their on air coverage all day but the Sports Illustrated article that this is all about is here.

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Could Not Have Said it Better…

29/04/2013

themunchkym:

If it were up to me, there would be no abortions except under extreme circumstances. Because there would be SO MUCH education and availability of contraceptives that they just wouldn’t be necessary.

But fighting abortion rights is not going to help us get there. It’s going to continue the stigma that having sex is wrong and if you have sex, you deserve to be punished by having to raise a child for the next eighteen years, even if you’re a child yourself. Or going through the extreme body changes caused by pregnancy and childbirth and then giving away that child, a decision that is not easy for anyone.

A perfect reproductive rights country would look like this:

  • All students (home school, public school AND private school) are required to take comprehensive sex education courses around the time when they are going through puberty (13).
  • Contraceptives are encouraged for all girls from the date of their first period and covered by insurance (preferably public insurance, but that’s a completely different topic).
  • Sex is an open topic and, even if newly sexually active people aren’t comfortable discussing it with their parents, there is an adult they can comfortably talk to.
  • Abortions are no longer limited to “clinics” or specific doctors and are available at most hospitals. They are covered by insurance and are seen as something that is an absolute last resort that should only be used in extreme cases. However, there are few (if any) legal limits on when they can be used such as they must be before 23 weeks, with smart exceptions.

Again. No one is pro-abortion. If you believe that, then you really need to have some empathy and try harder to understand the other side.

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A Feminist Paradox

28/04/2013

First, I am coming to you as a writer who is genuinely concerned about not presenting women in a subordinate objectified light in my stories.  I deeply and truly want the all characters  in my books to be real people and not just fill a role.

Having said that I have a question that I cannot seem to find an answer too when it comes to the trope known as the Manic Pixie Dream Girl.   This is not my only question but one that comes to mind as I have recently watched Garden State which was written, directed, and stars Zach Braff.

/!\ Spoiler Alert for Garden State /!\

In the movie actress Natalie Portman who plays Sam is said to be Andrew’s (Mr. Braff’s character) manic pixie dream girl who only serves a purpose to “fix” Andrew.   After watching the movie I didn’t agree with this idea until the end of the movie where the two main characters are in the airport with Andrew getting ready to leave and he says to Sam “You changed my life.”  Because of this single sentence Sam is solidified as Andrew’s manic pixie dream girl.

This single sentence bypasses almost everything else that has happened in the movie.  Andrew stopping all of his psychotropic drugs, Andrew’s mother dying, Andrew starting to repair his relationship with his father because of the first two, Andrew coming back home after not being there for nine years.  All of these things probably did more for him than Sam.  But, the movie chooses to focus on this and because of that, in what I feel is an otherwise well written film, it suddenly falls into a trope.

Sam is a fairly well rounded character who is dealing with real life issues.  She works in a law office but has to wear protective gear because of her epilepsy.  She lives with her mom and adoptive brother.  She makes her own choices.  She states she doesn’t need to be protected but is still somewhat flattered when Andrew does it.  She has goals and dreams.   I know that her character is not perfect but this is much better than in a lot of movies.

In my pursuit of NOT writing the manic pixie dream girl I thought it would be an interesting change of pace to write about a female who is down on her luck, not going anywhere in life really only to meet a guy who, as the trope says, “uses his bubbly cinematic personality to teach a brooding soulful young woman to embrace life and and its infinite mysteries and adventures.”  You know, kind of turn the trope on its head.

As soon as I thought that I knew it was wrong because now all I am writing about is a lady who cannot get her life together without the help of a man.  I titled this piece “A Feminist Paradox” not because this is a problem that feminists are creating but because it is a paradox that exists when dealing with feminist issues.

So I ask plead for somebody to help answer this question.  How can a story be written that includes a pairing of woman&man or man&woman where one gets help from the other that does not fall into the trope of manic pixie dream girl or a women who needs her life fixed by a man?  I ask this because people helping other people is an important theme to life and it needs to be handled better.

Thank you,
~Peeta

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Hey you guys…

23/04/2013

Maybe its because I have spent too much time on Tumblr but the phrase “you guys” is really starting to bother me.

Today at work I had to send an e-mail to a department that has both male and female (as defined by their sex) employees.   The  first draft* of the e-mail was harmless enough I was simply following up on a procedural thing we have to do and I said, “(internal company website) says I need to email you guys to make sure X and Y are completed. ”

The second draft* was changed to read, “(internal company website) says I need to e-mail your team to make sure X and Y have been completed.”  I felt much better about this because it seemed somehow less offensive.

As I stated, perhaps this is because I have spent too much time on Tumblr, but why don’t we have some phrase that is the equivalent of you guys?   I suppose I could have said you people but that has all kinds of other connotations and working for a company that is a lot like the Cheers bar you do your best not to offend anybody.

I know that probably not a lot of people care about words and phrasing but since words is what I do the more days that go by the more I find the way things are phrased bother me.  So I am going to do my best to abolish the phrase “you guys” from my vocabulary (unless I am of course talking to a bunch of people who happen to be guys) and see what happens.

What other words and phrases bother you all? (oooh I like that one)

~Peeta

*somebody told me not a lot of people proof read their e-mails.  When I am sending them to a friend I rarely do but when I am conducting professional business for my job or DFTBA News I do… every time.  Sometimes more than once. Is it really that weird?

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EARTH DAY PSA

22/04/2013

Remember that no harm ever came from leaving something better than you found it.

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About Girls and Wonderly

16/04/2013

If you watched the seventh installment of Benjamin Cooks “Becoming YouTube,” then you know its focus was on the females of YouTube and some of the challenges they face. The essential question the video sought to answer regarding this was “why?” Why is it harder for girls to make it big?

Lately, more and more people are taking a stand for girls who want to create and express their thoughts and opinions on YouTube. People from John Green to Tyler Oakley have commented on this issue and posted incomplete lists of several female vloggers worth watching.

One major contributor, or even leader, to bring awareness of female talent and encourage it is a website called Wonderly.  What is Wonderly? To put it simply, it is a place for girls to discover amazing new things and be inspired to create amazing new things. The website features a ton of video recommendations. Each month has a theme and anyone is allowed to  get involved and submit their creative content to be displayed.

Two specific vloggers that I encountered there are Emily the Brave and MarinaShutUp, whose content I really enjoy for their blunt, yet funny nature.They also feature my favorite web series, Squaresville. The show is in its second season and each episode is about the same length as your average YouTube video. It depicts two girls growing up in the suburbs facing challenges many teenagers go through. Its ability to be relatable is what makes it a good show.

However, it is more than just a place for entertainment. The creation of Wonderly is important. At least I, personally, think it is. While women have made great progress to find equality in a male dominated society, there is still much to be done.  Wonderly is a great tool to motivate girls to use their talent and share it with the world. It is a great way to boost their confidence and be assured that what they can do is not just being noticed, but is also being celebrated. I am sure Wonderly and all of its supporters will reach great new heights to have girls be seen as talented equals and also have them feel like talented equals. I wish them all of the best.

If you haven’t yet taken the time to check out Wonderly, do it now and see for yourself the awesome things that are happening there.

~Celene