News out of SDCC

There’s a lot of superhero movie and tv news out of San Diego ComicCon this weekend.

This Wonder Woman movie trailer looks pretty good. Speaking as someone who has boycotted all the recent DC movies, well, I think I’ll go see this one.

Marvel’s NetFlix show, Luke Cage, looks promising. I particularly like contrasting this hallway fight with the hallways fights in the first two season of Daredevil, and Jessica’s hallway walk in the first episode of Jessica Jones.

The Black Panther movie casting was announced, and it’s pretty damn good.

And they announced that Brie Larson will play Captain Marvel in the upcoming movie.

… I don’t even know where to start with feelings about this.

There was a time in my life when I would have seriously considered signing a contract with infernal forces if it meant seeing a good, serious, well-made movie about my favorite comic book characters. Like, weighing my soul against the value of one really good superhero movie that everyone in the world could see? The amount of joy that would bring to the planet? For my soul? Seriously, y’all, I woulda signed.

But I’ve never been really good at hope.

I’m an optimist, yes, obviously. But I am a weary, resigned, squinchy-eyed optimist. I am an optimist because there are no other choices. Being a cynic is both boring as hell and it does nothing, creates nothing. Being a pessimist just means your friends avoid you and you spiral into clinical depression. If you truly believe that everything is shit and the worst is unavoidable, well, how much do you contribute to the planet? So I’m an optimist. I believe that I can effect change. That I have a right and duty to effect change.

I’m an optimist because I don’t have a choice. Not because I am hopeful.

I look at the Brie Larson casting and I think, geez, they couldn’t’a cast someone older? Someone bigger? A woman of color? And the part of my heart that still cries every time I read a Captain Marvel comic just sits numbly in the corner, waiting for the movie to suck. Or for it to never get made. Or for Zack Snyder to be made the director. Or SOMETHING terrible to go wrong.

But … But I can’t really be bitter. Or angry. Or cynical. Because there is going to be a Captain Marvel movie, and this matters to me, and I want it, and I want it to be good.

But I can’t be hopeful because I am an intelligent and aware person who lives in reality, and I’ve met superhero movies before.

If there is a word for this feeling, I don’t know it.

Is there a word for “I once would have given my soul for this movie and I can only see the flaws and problems with every announcement but my heart still thumps with joy and if you slag on Brie Larson in my mentions I will CUT you”?

If there is a word for it, it’s probably in German.

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A good person’s empathy

It’s kinda been a long, grueling week in the news.

I know that many people, myself included, are struggling with empathy right now. I want to be a good person. A good person fights against evil and wrongdoing. In matters over which I have no control or impact, I try to stay informed. When the siren call goes up of some late-breaking atrocity, I do not want to realize in dawning horror that this thing has been going on all along and I just didn’t care enough to notice.

I hate that feeling.

Some piece of anguish hits the news sources I see, some death or crime, and I read more. And I find that some small group of people — usually people of color, poor, suffering some sort of cultural disadvantage, possibly in a war zone, possibly mentally ill, sometimes queer, frequently woman and children — has been suffering this horrible thing for a while. And I didn’t know. And the accusation hits me: we’ve been in crisis for a while now, you just didn’t give a shit about us to notice.

Deaths of native people in Canada. Continuing violence against Rom in Europe. Still-poisoned water in Flint. Sexual violence against women who have worked with/near Trump. Deaths of trans women of color. War of police departments on poor people with traffic citations. Violence against migrants in Europe. Pollution in China. Underfunded animal shelter kill rates. U.S. airstrikes in Syria.

Those, those are the second- and third-tier things I try to stay informed about, try to be empathetic about. That’s not even mentioning the first-tier things. Nice. Black Lives Matter. Turkey’s coup. Abuse and harassment on Twitter and other online platforms. Police violence in the U.S.. Gun control reform. The upcoming elections.

I cannot care about all of these things. I don’t have it in me. I just … I run out of caring.

Now, running out of caring as I have gotten older has done me a world of good in some arenas. I simply cannot be arsed to care about what my hair looks like. Just, I don’t care what you think, I barely care what I think. Done worrying about this bit of silliness.

But I feel it’s important to keep caring about the world. About humanity. About the environment. About living creatures. About the future.

I just … I can’t care about it ALL, is the thing.

So I find myself doing empathy triage. Which things am I going to decide to not care about. And, by extension, which human beings I will decide are not worth my time.

That’s a fucking awful feeling.

I read a news story, I see the suffering and death and pain, and I think, “okay, well, I am going to not care about you.”

It’s the internet, really, that has brought me to this point. And, specifically, my efforts to broaden my understanding of the world. In the past three years I have deliberately made an effort to learn more about people and communities not-like-me. To read outside my comfort zone. To educate myself, to listen, to understand. And, well, I have been successful. So now I find myself reading about the U.S. military murdering families in airstrikes and I just think, “I cannot care about you right now.”

And I ponder. How am I making these decisions? Am I privileging people similar to myself? Am I refusing to care about people farther away? Or, do I decide to care about things that result in death, but not, say, torture or rape? How about animals, is caring about animals okay when there are still people suffering? Or is caring about animals more important because they cannot speak for themselves? Is caring about SFF and comics kerfluffles wildly self-indulgent or is it important?

What should I work on? Where should I spend my time and money? Where do I place my empathy points when I only have so many to give?

I don’t know.

I know that ignorance makes me feel like a worthless shitheel, and knowledge makes me feel like a callous bastard.

I think the answer has got to be teamwork.

I’ll care about these things, here. You care about those things, there. We each care about some huge issues and some smaller ones. We each give a little money to MDF, a little blood to the Red Cross, we each donate some books to a local library, we each foster an unwanted animal, we each buy some chickens for a needy family across the world, we each help out a GoFundMe when we can. You, you can follow the RNCinCLE, I’ll follow Philando Castile’s investigation, and you over there, you can follow the Canadian indigenous situation.

That’s got to be the solution, you know?

There’s no heroes. Instead, we are all on the Global Frequency. We each live our lives in our own small ways and every once in a while we get to help someone else out. We care where and when we are able.

And the world slowly turns onwards, into the light.

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Links for July 21 2016

Just not gonna link to anything depressing today. Just not.

* How a Guy From a Montana Trailer Park Overturned 150 Years of Biology

“In the 150 years since Schwendener, biologists have tried in vain to grow lichens in laboratories. Whenever they artificially united the fungus and the alga, the two partners would never fully recreate their natural structures. It was as if something was missing—and Spribille might have discovered it.

He has shown that largest and most species-rich group of lichens are not alliances between two organisms, as every scientist since Schwendener has claimed. Instead, they’re alliances between three. All this time, a second type of fungus has been hiding in plain view.”

* What About Me? Dealing with Professional Jealousy

“You see how your measure of “success” can keep going up and up and up until you’re just never happy, ever. My spouse often shakes his head at me because I move my bar for success all the time. What I have is never enough. For me, this works, because if I was satisfied in my professional life I wouldn’t be inspired to do anything.”

* Kirkus review: Bound by Blood and Sand, by Becky Allen

“While this volume comes to a satisfying (if bittersweet) conclusion, there is clearly—thankfully!—more to come.

Ferocious and intelligent.”

* The ozone layer is bouncing back

“But it’s another reminder that when it comes to the big environmental problems we’ve created for ourselves, all hope is not lost.”

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Things of interest on a Monday morning

1. I’ve been watching the NetFlix series Longmire, and I love it. It’s a gritty cop procedural set in Wyoming. I tend to like the one-off procedural episodes more than the long-running plots, but both are good. Be advised, the show does get pretty gruesome at times. But the acting is *fantastic*.

2. My family is all enamored of Pokemon Go! We’re Team Mystic.

3. I finished the alpaca scarf I was working on! I made up the design as a went, which resulted in me finishing the two ends differently. Whoops. I doubt I’ll go back and fix it. It is lovely and soft, and I look forward to wearing it in colder weather.

4. I started listening to Knitlandia on audiobook, and now I want to go to some of our local sheep-and-wool festivals.

5. The second season of Killjoys has begun! I am loving it! I actually feel pretty fannish about it, and, goodness, it’s been a long time since that happened!

Onwards and upwards —

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Where did the time go?

1. My family is back from vacation, yay!! I am so pleased they are home. They all had a fantastic time.

2. The only thing I forgot to take care of was a hanging house plant by the front door. We’ll see if I killed it or not.

3. The last five or six days has been a slog of misery in the news.

4. I have been playing Pokemon Go.😀

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Links for July 6 2016

* Mark Reads “Slammed By the Substantial Amount of Press Generated By My Book ‘Pounded by the Pound'”

NSFW. Mark Oshiro reads Chuck Tingle’s latest novella, “Slammed By the Substantial Amount of Press Generated By My Book ‘Pounded By The Pound: Turned Gay By The Socioeconomic Implications Of Britain Leaving The European Union'” live at CONvergence.

* I don’t have much else this week, y’all. I’m sure that there are things going on in the world, but I’ve been staycationing. I’m almost done with Wynonna Earp, I found out I can watch the previous season of GBBO on my computer (Thanks, TPT Passport!!) and I am over halfway done with this alpaca-yarn scarf.

See you ’round the internets!

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That was CONvergence!

Y’all, thank you so much.

That was a pretty damn fine convention.

My head is full of improvements to make, of things we manifestly need to do better for next year. But you all — guests, attendees, volunteers, staff, cosplayers, panelists, AV, nerfherders, all y’all — you made a great convention.

If any of you have feedback, I *strongly* urge you to fill out the survey forms.

This is the general attendance survey. This is where you say how much you liked the Masquerade M.C. this year, whether you thought opening ceremonies went on too long, how you love the look and feel of the new dealer’s space but wish it wasn’t across the street, that sort of thing. PLEASE tell us your thoughts! And make sure to tell us what you liked, what worked for you, in addition to problem areas.

We honestly, truly want to make a better convention for everyone. Let your voice be heard.

I, personally, am BEGGING you to fill out the Panel Feedback Form. Please. The feedback you give us on panelists is vital to me doing my job in Invited Participants. If a panelist was terrible — lackluster, unengaged, uninformed — or offensive — racist, misogynist, ablist, homophobic — I do not want Invited Participants to invite them back! Similarly, if a panelist was a sparkling gem of delight, I *DO* want to invited them back! But we can’t know either way unless you tell us.

So, please, help me make next year’s CONvergence better still. Fill out the survey forms! Let’s all improve the world one convention panel at a time!

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