Breaking Bad was great….

When I watched Breaking Bad, I thought was the absolute best show I’d ever seen on TV.
Then I saw Orphan Black.
Then I saw Mr Robot.
Then I saw Jessica Jones and Luke Cage.
Then I saw Stranger Things.
Then I saw Sense8.
Then I saw 3%.
Then I saw Dark.
Then I saw Altered Carbon.

Breaking Bad was amazing with the plot, and characters but the other shows have other shining accomplishments. I can’t say enough about Dark’s incredible cinematography and intricate plotlines with acting that goes above and beyond what we ever see here in America. But Altered Carbon is like watching Blade Runner ramped up times ten. 3% is character-driven and brutal in its depictions of human aggression whereas Sense8 has a sensual joy that no other show has ever touched (or probably will try) StrangerThings has its nostalgia and amazing acting. The Marvel shows are intense fantasy with shades of moral questioning thrown in. Mr Robot gives you a roller coaster ride not unlike Fight Club while Orphan Black was just identity exploration gone haywire.

though it’s been slow to catch up, I’d put Cleverman as an honorable mention becuase of it’s vast array of characters who, much like the old show Heroes, struggle mightily with racism, identity and ethics while navigating a terrifying world teetering on the brink of fascism

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Ursula K Leguin

Ursula K Leguin has died. She was the first sci-fi writer I read who was a woman. I was 13. I had read some fantasy stuff before but nothing could have prepared me for the brilliance that was The Dispossessed. She blew my mind. She made me hunger for more. Not just more sci-fi,. but more sci-fi like that. Playing with stereotypes, challenging tropes, and questioning our cultural mores. I honestly could not believe such writing existed before I stumbled upon her. She blazed a trail that was so necessary yet so welcome. Until I “found” her, I didn’t even know you could write things like that (and be popular!) She gave me hope and something to look up to. But it wasn’t just her books, it was her essays, her introductions for other authors and her missives she sent out for her fans. She was a bright spirit, despite what her writing was like,. with a quick wit, a sharp perspective and a very warm personality. I always wished I could meet her just to let her know how important her work was to me. But I take solace knowing that she knew, even if she didn’t know it was me personally, that her work was needed and loved by so many. The best part was knowing how happy she was to be doing what she wanted; sending messages to society, shouting into a void that whispered back in lines of gratitude and love. I am glad I was able to be a part of that. I will miss her. Even though I never knew her, she knew me.

Clara and the Doctor

Eldest and I love talking about Doctor Who (and it took some time to get him hooked, gotta say) because we don’t quite agree about ANYTHING but we agree enough to really have rousing debates. The latest is that he doesn’t like Clara for precisely the reason I love Clara. She’s no Donna or Amy but I like Clara *because* she doesn’t have a personality focus. All the Doctor’s companions (that I’ve seen) had a very prominent personal focus for being on teh show – Rose’s romance and verve, Amy’s intensity and cleverness, Martha’s pining and independence, Donna’s boldness and peace-making, even Craig had his lovability and everyman-appeal. But Clara is just somewhere in the middle of all of them. A little bit of everything but none in particular. She was refreshing for me. She could say “no” to the Doctor, like Martha could. She could be clever like Amy. She could be vivacious like Rose. She could be demanding like Donna. She could even be lovable like Craig, wise like her grandfather Wilfred and dependable like Canton or even suspicious like Micky .
But the best thing about Clara was her story. Sure the seasons had some stupid episodes and there were times I found myself rolling my eyes are what the writers were doing but Clara’s character never disappointed me. She never went over-the-top and never faded into the background. She had nuance and style without hitting me over th head with her issues. What they did to her (via Danny) was horrible and scandalous and I think I was even more angry than how they treated Donna. But Clara still had her own story that made the Doctor himself want to understand her. She had a place in the universe – many universes – that went beyond her place as companion. She always felt like the Doctor’s sister, to me. And no other companion ever made me feel that way.
I think Clara loved the Doctor in a way no other companion ever had and probably never will.
If nothing else, I say to you, four words: The Rings of Akhaten

Norway memories

When I was packing for Oslo, two years ago, I discovered I was out of my favorite lotion. I am a lotion hound and I knew I’d be using bunches of it when I made it to Norway. So I went out and bought a tube of something I had never tried before. I had always wanted to try it and it had similar ingredients to another lotion I very much liked (but couldn’t find) so I figured it would be okay to splurge and buy the big tube.
Big mistake, really, the lotion made my skin break out with acne. It had a very specific scent too which wasn’t unpleasant but just odd to me. When I got back to the states I decided that big honkin tube would sit in my half bath and be good for HAND lotion only.
Now its been two years and every time I use that lotion, I think about Oslo.
For the rest of my life, Burt’s Bees Radiance smells like Norway.

Its not racist to be against the Syrian refugees

I kind of wish people would stop using the term “racism” and “Racist” when referring to the Anti-Syrian prejudice. Its xenophobia and christian nationalism or maybe just religious intolerance at its finest. I understand that racism has become the most heinous crimes against society ever and i”m not here to debate that judgement at all (I will delete you if you start that discussion in either direction) but it bothers me to mislabel the problem. Muslims are not a race. Syrians are not a race either. People of Middle Eastern heritage are not a race either. They aren’t even an ethnic group per se.
I think its time to recognize that religious intolerance and xenophobia are heinous crimes against society too. That’s all I”m saying. We do not have to dilute and distort the word “racism” in order to recognize how bad this shit is getting.

the differences are inside but important nonetheless

One thing I’ve been noticing more and more as I’ve gotten older is the divide between people who raise children and people who don’t. (This is absolutely no judgement or commentary on the value or worth of either group or their choices)

People not raising children seem to have this odd (to me) glamor attached to them and how they live. Many of them spend their free time doing fun things or romantic things or admirable things like vacations, road trips, going on dates, engaging in hobbies and charity work. It’s nice and fun to read about but its mostly a foreign thing for those of us raising children not because we can’t or don’t do those things but because we can’t or don’t structure our lives around those things. Our priorities are obviously different, as they should be. But what I’ve noticed more and more is a sort of shiny happiness that comes from the confidence of being kid-free. People who raise children are constantly questioning themselves, those around them and their purpose. People who raise children spend an enormous amount of energy just trying to believe they are “doing the right thing” which kid-free folks don’t have to spend even a nano-second worrying about. Not to say kid-free folks don’t have anxieties and worries and self-doubt, of course they do that’s the human condition, but people who raise children often mire themselves in the self-doubt of epic cultural proportions.

If you are kid-free and you feel unconfident, you worry about yourself, your image, your social standing -whatever metric you use to gauge your internal worth. You don’t spend any (or much, I guess) time worrying about any of those issues on behalf of another person. You do not wonder if people are judging you based on how you spoke to your best friend the other day. How your co-worker is dressed does not make you particularly embarrassed as a reflection upon your work ethic. Nothing that others do (with some exception for SigOths) really makes you lose sleep worrying about how YOU will be judged. Your self-doubt and recrimination revolves solely around your own actions and your own decisions on behalf of… you. Because of this, it seems as if kid-free folks spend far less time grinding away at the most mundane tasks of life with as much grim determination as people who raise children. We can both decide not ot clean our bathroom floor and it might bother you for a moment or two here or there, but you made your decision to do other things besides clean your bathroom floor and you go about your life. If I choose not to clean my bathroom floor it generally isn’t a matter of opting for something more fulfilling or interesting – it usually is a dire choice I make fully aware that I end up looking bad and will be judged by someone somewhere for being bad at a host of other aspects of my life: my parenting, my housekeeping and my dedication to being an adult in general. If a kid-free person forgets to pay the electric bill, that’s considered pretty flakey and roommates may be pretty ticked about it becuase its a huge inconvenience. If I forget to pay the electric bill, I could be investigated for being neglectful of my children’s needs.

This difference in emphasis puts the perspective of each class towards a very different schema in life. If I want to go to a party, or do some purely “grown-up fun” kind of thing, there’s planning, scheduling, and many avenues for guilt, anxiety and worry- not over the planning of the thing itself but of whether one is WORTHY of doing such a thing. Kid-free people rarely have to decide if going to do something fun is “okay” they generally have to decide if they can afford it with their time and money and maybe energy. Social standing, personal esteem do not really enter the picture.

For this reason, kid-free folks who embark on some minor event of frivolity often have a glow of absolute unfettered freedom that comes with recreational enjoyment being “the norm” rather than an unsual event one has earned the right to do. Because there is little to no social or cultural price to pay, kid-free folk seem to be enjoying life far more and more often than people raising children. This is not a bad thing, but it does create a divide between the two groups. Watching documentation of my kid-free friends traipsing off to yet another fun grown-up gathering full of adventure and self-actualization means I feel a gulf between us as basic citizens. They smile for the camera in a way I don’t think I’m even capable of without heavy planning and inebriants. The look of total immersion in their enjoyment is a look I doubt I will have for a very long time. And as a person who raises children, I do not bemoan that fact – I do raise children and thus everything I do in life, at least right now, has an impact on other people who are less capable of dealing with the ramifications of my decisions. Pictures of myself enjoying life sans kids are always more guarded, more careful and yet more desperate than pictures of kid-free folks.