Posted by Teresa Jusino

It’s of the utmost urgency that we revisit something really important that we retweeted last week, as we need to make sure you didn’t miss it. Zola, a gorilla at the Dallas Zoo, has become a viral sensation thanks to some fancy footwork and some well-timed water-splashing. Not to mention an assist from a Twitter user editing in the perfect song choice like a boss. And this is important, because it is awesome.

We came across this clip thanks to Kristina Lucare on Twitter, but the edit of this majestic gorilla dancing was set to Michael Sembello’s “Maniac” from the soundtrack to the 1980s film, Flashdance, is by @bobhagh. It’s perfection. It’s basically Joy Incarnate in 16 seconds of video footage.

Inspired by Hagh’s work, the Huffington Post put together other edits. I’m partial to disco:

Keep dancing, Zola! You’re an inspiration to us all!

(image: screencap)

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Posted by Bill Barnes

Liven up your next conference, staff day, or event with Unshelved!

Unshelved comic strip for 6/26/2017

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This classic Unshelved strip originally appeared on March 7, 2006.


Posted by Thomas Carew

Ask me no more where Jove bestows,

When June is past, the fading rose;

For in your beauty's orient deep

These flowers as in their causes, sleep.

Ask me no more whither doth stray

The golden atoms of the day;

For in pure love heaven did prepare

Those powders to enrich your hair.

Ask me no more whither doth haste

The nightingale when May is past;

For in your sweet dividing throat

She winters and keeps warm her note.

Ask me no more where those stars light

That downwards fall in dead of night;

For in your eyes they sit, and there,

Fixed become as in their sphere.

Ask me no more if east or west

The phoenix builds her spicy nest;

For unto you at last she flies,

And in your fragrant bosom dies.


Posted by <a href="/users/kurrent/pseuds/kurrent" rel="author">kurrent</a>


Short two-shot looking at the relationship between Kitty Pryde and Illyana Rasputin, and how life has a way of putting things into perspective for you when you least expect it. Some harsh language, mild violence.

Words: 12817, Chapters: 1/2, Language: English


Posted by Vivian Kane

The “Andy’s Dad” theory from Toy Story has been floating around the internet for a while. Now, the full story of how the boy’s father fits into the movie’s world has been released, and oh wow is it ever sad. Like, way too sad. Polio sad. The problem is, some other Pixar bigwigs are calling it “fake news.” What do you think? Was this a story only known by a few, or was it made up? Either way, I’m ending the day in a puddle of feelings. (via i09)

Happy Pride to those who have spent this weekend celebrating! Among all the very cool happenings this weekend, there’s now a rainbow crosswalk outside the Stonewall Inn in New York. (Via Gothamist)

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, the Black Lives Matter movement intersected with the Pride Parade in Seattle today in honor of Charleena Lyles. Some outlets are reporting this as a clash, but those I’m hearing from in the area make it sound more like a mutually respectful collaboration/cohabitation.

Well, file this under The Most Impressive Thing I Saw Today: Yesterday, I linked to voiceover actor Rob Paulson’s lesson in how to talk like Pinky (of and the Brain fame). Today, there’s video of Paulson singing Animaniacs’s “Yakko’s World” song FROM MEMORY. He even added in an updated verse. (Via Nerdist)

A bunch of little kids were asked what makes them different from each other, and the sweet baby angels’ answers are too precious to exist in this world.

Have you been watching Netflix’s G.L.O.W. this weekend? Do you love it? If so, you’ll want to check out this interview with the real women the show is based on. (Via Inverse)

Also of interest to G.L.O.W. fans (or anyone, really): Betty Gilpin (who plays Debbie) wrote a beautiful piece about “What It’s Like to Have Pea-Sized Confidence With Watermelon-Sized Boobs.” (Via Glamour)

That’s it on my end. What did you all see today?

(image: Pixar)

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Posted by Vivian Kane

For as long as there have been dress codes, women and girls have been hating them. More often than not, the restrictions placed on women’s clothing are based in nothing but unmitigated gender-blaming, teaching girls from a young age that not only are their bodies a natural threat to boys and themselves, but that the response boys and men have to those bodies is to be considered over the bodies themselves. Add to that the body-shaming that comes with applying blanket rules (hiding cleavage, mandatory skirt & short lengths, tightness, etc) to all bodies without exception, and there’s a lot to hate about gendered dress codes.

Luckily, thanks to the internet, the struggles women and girls face on these issues can quickly and frequently go viral, gathering support and camaraderie worldwide. Every time a girl gets sent home for having fingertips that don’t touch her shorts’ hem, or people criticize the way a woman’s swimsuit fits, or a group of boys feels emboldened enough to publically call young girls derogatory names because their school sanctions the intention behind them–these women and girls, at the very least, know they’re not alone.

And now, this struggle against unfair, sexist dress codes is finally making some headway. And all it took, wouldn’t you know it, is for some people to start speaking up who aren’t women.

Last week, a photo and story went viral about a group of boys at a school in Exeter, England who aren’t allowed to wear shorts to school. The recent heatwave proved miserable to ride out in pants, but the school wouldn’t budge on letting the boys trade them in for shorts. So they showed up in skirts, which are allowed per the girls’ dress code.

The initial reaction of “Heck yeah, wear what makes you comfortable!” is followed quickly by the uncomfortable knowledge that this act will make an impact because boys in dresses is still, by many, considered an over-the-top joke of a statement meant to highlight just how ridiculous the lack of options is for boys. Indeed, a quick scroll through the replies on Twitter (never look at the comments!) is a wave of gay jokes and derisive questioning of these children’s masculinity.

The school hasn’t caved yet. They’ve made some hot weather amendments to the dress codes, allowing students to “undo the top button of shirts” and carry their tie rather than wear it. Shorts haven’t been implemented, but the headteacher wrote to students and parents that “with hotter weather becoming more normal, I would be happy to consider a change for the future and will talk to families and staff further about this in the coming weeks.” That’s more than most schools have ever done when girls fight their own dress codes.

Daily Dot points out that this isn’t the only recent progress we’ve seen with dress code battles waged by men and boys. Another U.K. man was sent home from work after showing up in shorts, which are not allowed by his company’s dress code. So he showed up in a dress and voila, official dress code changed to include shorts.

How is it that men in dresses is still, to this day, seen as such an offense that companies and schools will do whatever necessary to make it stop?

How, also, is it possible that when men and boys claim of physical discomfort, their concerns aren’t undermined by assumptions? When they complain of being hot, no one assumes their real aim is to sexualize themselves or distract women and girls from their work and studies. They’re not told their physical comfort is going to detract from the needs of others. They just–get this–are listened to.

That must be pretty nice.

(via Daily Dot, image: Shutterstock)

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Posted by <a href="/users/Sineala/pseuds/Sineala" rel="author">Sineala</a>


The year is 1943, and the war is swinging into an unexpected front: the Allies need to get their hands on every magical item they can find before someone else does. There's no one more qualified for the job than Tony Stark, former adventurer for Marvels magazine. When Nick Fury sends him on his latest mission, Tony finally gets the chance to work with Captain America... and the guy won't stop extolling the wonders of his partner, some kid called Bucky. But when Tony gets back to base, he meets someone even better than the Bucky of Cap's stories: an enigmatic -- and incredibly handsome -- marksman by the name of James Barnes.

Words: 18510, Chapters: 1/1, Language: English


Posted by Riese

In which the whole team gets together to answer your pressing questions on topics including being never kissed, living in the suburbs, fashion tips for a trans woman with Cerebral Palsy, getting back into the dating game, starting a freelance career and so much more!

Posted by Vivian Kane

The Big Sick finally hit theaters this weekend, and for those of us who had been counting down the days since we first heard about the movie, the success it saw at the box office is so exciting.

If you’re not familiar, Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon (who also co-hosted the awesome podcast Indoor Kids and co-created the best comedy show in Los Angeles, The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail) wrote the movie together, based on the story of their real-life relationship.

From the official Amazon Studios synopsis:

The Big Sick tells the story of Pakistan-born aspiring comedian Kumail (Nanjiani), who connects with grad student Emily (Zoe Kazan) after one of his standup sets. However, what they thought would be just a one-night stand blossoms into the real thing, which complicates the life that is expected of Kumail by his traditional Muslim parents. When Emily is beset with a mystery illness, it forces Kumail to navigate the medical crisis with her parents, Beth and Terry (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano) who he’s never met, while dealing with the emotional tug-of-war between his family and his heart.”

The story told in the movie is wholly personal, as, again, it parallels their actual lives. (Gordon wrote about that “medical crisis”–the medically-induced coma during which her relationship with Nanjiani solidified–in the fantastic piece “Girlfriend in a Coma.” ) And now this intimate rom-com has had one hell of an opening weekend.

No, technically, it wasn’t the #1 draw of the weekend. It didn’t bring in the $69 million Transformers did. (Make that $265 mil global.) But broken down by theater, with Transformers: The Last Knight playing in over 4,000 theaters and The Big Sick playing in 5, that little romantic comedy averaged nearly eight times Transformers’ numbers. In fact, at $435,000 ($87,000 per theater), The Big Sick has the highest per-theater average since last year’s La La Land. Oh, and it also has a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

If you don’t live in New York or Los Angeles, The Big Sick’s wide release is on July 14th. Make sure to check it out and keep this beautiful movie’s success rolling.

(via Uproxx, image: Lionsgate/Amazon)

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Posted by Vivian Kane

Before Carrie Fisher passed away last December, she was scheduled to appear at this summer’s Denver Comic Con. As a tribute to Fisher, the convention commissioned longtime LucasFilm artist Joe Corroney to create an in memoriam piece of art. (Click the above picture to see the full image.)

The result is breathtaking. Seeing five sets of Fisher’s eyes staring into yours is enough to stir up a whole mess of emotions.

I’m in love with the fact that Corroney included the quote from Lor San Tekka, “To me, she is royalty,” yet chose to put the focus on General Leia Organa. Because yes, she will always be Princess Leia to us, but the leader she grew into, and the fierce, perpetually bare and painfully honest woman Carrie was, deserves to be front and center. The Leia we always knew and loved is there in celebration, but the Leia we were just getting to know is the one we lost.

I think it’s also worth noting that my Coat Envy is currently dialed up to 11.

Corroney says in his post that the art is for the con’s “hardworking and necessary volunteers and staff,” but presumably, it will also be for sale, either at the con next weekend, or (fingers crossed!) online. Proceeds will go to Denver Comic Con’s parent company, Pop Culture Classroom, which uses comic books and other pop culture tools to encourage a love of reading and self-expression in children.

Here’s hoping those of us not attending Denver Comic Con will be able to get our hands on this print. Although, to be honest, I’m not sure I could handle having this on my wall. Maybe I could keep it tucked away and only bring it out when in need of a cry.

(via Nerd Approved, featured image: Lucas Film)

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Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Do you think this comic is overly wordy, or did I just prime you to believe that?

New comic!
Today's News:

Last full week to get in your BAHFest proposal, people of Houston!


Posted by Vivian Kane

It’s been a while since we talked around Pitch Perfect 3 around here. We’ve gotten drips of news over the last couple of years, but nothing more than the occasional returning cast member or creator. So imagine my surprise when the film’s first full trailer dropped last night.

This installment isn’t directed by Elizabeth Banks, but rather Trish Sie, the woman behind a number of OK Go’s reality-defying videos. The movie sees the Bellas post-graduation, struggling to make things work out in the “real” world. And, as most of us who live in that world can attest, it’s not always aca-easy. With their jobs and lives not working out as they hoped, the Bellas decide to get the gang back together and compete against musicians who also use, you know, instruments.

Not only do all the original Bellas (plus Pitch Perfect 2’s Hailee Steinfeld) look to be back, along with Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins’ commentators, but they’ll be going up against Ruby Rose as one of those musicians, named Calamity. I have to admit, I wasn’t super into the last installment in this franchise, but I am 100% here for Ruby Rose anytime, in anything. Plus, the last third or so of that trailer gets mighty epic, packed with action and explosions, like an acapella 21 Jump Street. My curiosity is definitely up.

The movie’s being tagged as the Bellas’ “farewell tour.” Or, according to Banks & Higgins, their “big plummet, their fade out… into nothingness.” So presumably, this third movie will be the last. (Unless, let’s be real, it makes a ton of money.) It’ll be going up against Star Wars with a December release date, so you’ve got your winter watchlist all lined up.

(image: YouTube)

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Posted by Taimur Dar

Marvel made a bold claim when it promised to “change the comic book industry” on Friday June 23rd with a major Marvel Legacy announcement. Turned out to be just a series of retro homage covers revealed throughout the day. I’ll leave it to you the readers to decide for yourselves whether that promise to change […]

Posted by KaeLyn

It's Laverne Cox Day in NYC, a whole lotta' Pride, Vogue mother Leiomy Maldonado stars in Nike ad, Gabby Rivera show us her writing process, a sneak peek of Hannah Hart's new show, third gender ID's offered in Pakistan, and more good news!

Posted by Carolyn Yates

Mostly: "Why???" Also, why waiting for a crush to text back is the worst, why going to weddings is also the worst, self-sabotage, thinking through different relationship styles and more.

Posted by Bill Barnes

Stop by ALA Booth #4724 for the latest and greatest from Grey House Publishing, Salem Press, Financial Ratings, and H.W. Wilson. While you're there, demo their new databases and pick up a free Unshelved poster!

Unshelved comic strip for 6/25/2017

link to this strip | tweet this | share on facebook | email us

This classic Unshelved strip originally appeared on March 4, 2006.


Posted by Brenda Shaughnessy

I forgot how lush and electrified

it was with you. The shaggy

fragrant zaps continually passing

back and forth, my fingertip

to your clavicle, or your wrist

rubbing mine to share gardenia

oil. We so purred like dragonflies

we kept the mosquitoes away

and the conversation was heavy,

mother-lacerated childhoods

and the sad way we'd both

been both ignored and touched

badly. Knowing that being

fierce and proud and out and

loud was just a bright new way

to be needy. Please listen to me, oh

what a buzz! you're the only one

I can tell. Even with no secret,

I could come close to your ear

with my mouth and that was

ecstasy, too. We barely touched

each other, we didn't have to

speak. The love we made leapt

to life like a cat in the space

between us (if there ever was

space between us), and looked

back at us through fog. Sure,

this was San Francisco, it was

often hard to see. But fog always

burned off, too, so we watched

this creature to see if it knew

what it was doing. It didn't.

Brenda Shaughnessy, "Gay Pride Weekend, S.F., 1992" from So Much Synth. Copyright © 2016 by Brenda Shaughnessy.  Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press,

Source: So Much Synth(Copper Canyon Press, 2016)

Brenda Shaughnessy

More poems by this author

24 June 2017

Posted by <a href="/users/LordryuTJ/pseuds/LordryuTJ" rel="author">LordryuTJ</a>


This story is heavily inspired by the "Epic Crossover" porn cartoon, and could be considered a spiritual sequel, considering this features a completely different set of fictional babes.

The young relative of an experienced scientist discovers a chamber that intends to "fulfill his every fantasy". When he enters, it's certainly not the kind of fantasy he was interested in, but the babes within it will change his mind.

Chapter 1: Mercy, Captain Marvel / Carol Danvers, Supergirl / Kara Zor-El

Words: 4635, Chapters: 1/?, Language: English

24 June 2017

Posted by <a href="/users/KaRaEa/pseuds/KaRaEa" rel="author">KaRaEa</a>


Bruce knows what he is.

He is the son of a mighty, fallen King, a Warlord in his own rights, a powerful man. A killer.

His name is known throughout Greece and beyond, his reputation stretches almost as far as that of the mighty daughter of Hippolyta, Diana, though his is far less heroic. Far more bloody. If he was to turn to the west he would find allies enough to retake his army with ease.

He keeps true north.

Words: 4656, Chapters: 1/1, Language: English


Posted by Vivian Kane

The official World’s Ugliest Dog competition took place yesterday in Petaluma, California. Martha up there “won” the title, but as far as awards go, this one seems pretty darn rude. We’re with @WeRateDogs on this one. Stunning as h*ck.

This woman was kicked out of her own apartment complex’s swimming pool for wearing a one-piece swimsuit. I have two questions: 1) At this point, what are women allowed to wear in public, and 2) Why is everything terrible? (Someecards)

The headline here reads “Angela Lansbury Might Co-Star in BBC’s Little Women Miniseries — But, Be Honest, We Had You at Angela Lansbury” and they are CORRECT. (Via Vulture)

Google has said they’ll stop reading your emails for targeted Gmail ad material. Which is a reminder that Google has been reading your emails. (Bloomberg)

Artist Brian Kesinger just created the mashup of our Alan Tudyk-filled dreams! (Via NerdApproved)

#firefly #rogueone #mashup. #k2so #wash this print will be available when my Etsy store reopens next month!

A post shared by briankesinger (@briankesinger) on

Voiceover legend Rob Paulsen gave a lesson in how to talk like Pinky & the Brain’s Pinky. Are you all pondering what I’m pondering? (Via Nerdist)

The group Film Fatales put together a comprehensive list of all the films currently streaming on Netflix USA that were directed by women, just in case you’re looking for some criteria to plan your weekend movie marathons around. (Via Film Fatales)

Today was a lot of Johnny Depp, Sean Spicer, and Republican lawmakers. I’m sorry, friends. Here’s a baby elephant chasing birds by way of apology from me to you.

What did you all see out there on this fine–or blazingly hot, depending on your location–Saturday?

(featured image: screengrab, AP)

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The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—


Posted by Vivian Kane

While onstage at the Glastonbury Festival, Johnny Depp channelled his inner John Wilkes Booth and mused to the crowd, “When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?” The Scottish crowd, by the way, went freaking wild. Still, because freedom of speech (even from awful people saying awful things) is nice in theory but doesn’t seem to be super en vogue with the current administration, Depp issued an apology. He told People Magazine, “I apologize for the bad joke I attempted last night in poor taste about President Trump. It did not come out as intended, and I intended no malice. I was only trying to amuse, not to harm anyone.”

Here’s the thing: I don’t give a crap about Johnny Depp. I don’t care that he made a stupid joke; I don’t care that he apologized; I don’t care that he continues to exist. I’m done caring about Johnny Depp.

What I do care about though, is how many people–and which people–took major, public, vocal issue with the joke.

There’s been a dramatic uptick lately in the condemnation of Trump criticism. Whether or not you agree with that criticism, or think the form it takes is in fine taste or poor, speaking out against Trump has become a target of protest (look at Julius Caesar) and even a fireable offense (i.e. Kathy Griffin), and that’s a dangerous direction to be heading. The hypocrisy is staggering, as Trump supporters spent eight years overlooking or cheering on Ted Nugent’s calls to lynch Barack Obama or the multiple Obama-themed productions of Caesar that ran in multiple prominent American theaters. Now, though, making allusions to violence against the president is an unspeakable, some might even say deplorable, act. What a fascinating change of heart.

And let’s not overlook what else so much of America never had a problem with until now: namely, everything else Johnny Depp has done over the last few years. When Depp was accused of abusing his ex-wife Amber Heard, the silence from most of the country was deafening. (Except, of course, us damn feminists and SJWs trying to tear a good man down.)

Where was the Fox News condemnation of Depp when he was accused of abusing his wife?

No one would expect Donald Trump himself to ever speak out against a man over issues of abuse or harassment. In addition to the accusations leveled against him by many women, I’m guessing he’s never met an accused man he didn’t want to defend. Now, though, Depp is on Trump’s official “sad” list.

Donald Trump, Jr. even went so far as to pretend he cares about the abuse, tweeting out pictures of Amber Heard’s bruises.

How disgusting do you have to be to exploit a woman’s suffering after ignoring it right up until it becomes a useful game piece in your war against people who insult your dad? As disgusting as Donald Trump, Jr, I guess. He’s actually laughing.

I know that these are total false equivalencies, wondering why people can ignore Depp’s alleged abuse but condemn his tasteless joke about violence. They are not the same thing. But if anything should have brought Depp down–if anything should have kept him out of Fantastic Beasts or put him on America’s shit list–it should have been those pictures above, the accusations of abuse, the way he very obviously and publicly tried to manipulate Heard during their divorce proceedings. And none of it mattered. Most people turned a blind eye, or worse, blamed Heard.

Court documents from their lawsuit have revealed that even Depp’s managers knew about the abuse, at least through the divorce process if not before, and did nothing. Because Depp is a powerful man, and he was making them money. And because we’re still struggling to get people to take the assault of a woman as seriously as they take a joke against a man.

(via BBC, image: Shutterstock)

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24 June 2017

Posted by <a href="/users/Twilight_Angel/pseuds/Twilight_Angel" rel="author">Twilight_Angel</a>


The worst part is, it might not actually be the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to him.

Words: 19, Chapters: 1/1, Language: English


Posted by Vivian Kane

I’m always boggled by how little understanding so many Republicans seem to have of abortion issues. Between letting the church crash the state’s party with the whole “life begins at conception” thing and Mike Pence wanting to force women to throw funerals for their miscarriages and abortions, it’s clear that this group of almost exclusively white men have no idea what’s actually entailed in the personal experience or medical physiology of pregnancy.

Case in point: the Republicans from New Hampshire who just accidentally made it legal for pregnant women to murder people.

Senate Bill 66 defines a fetus as a person after the 20-week mark, thereby allowing anyone who causes the death of that fetus to be charged with manslaughter or murder. However, the bill–which was passed by both the House and the Senate, but not yet signed into law by the Governor–uses incredibly vague language in making exceptions for abortion. When defining the crimes it protects against, the bill specifically excludes “any act committed by the pregnant woman.”

Any. Act.

The bill also makes an exception to the fetal homicide law for “any act committed at the request or direction of the pregnant woman or for the benefit of the pregnant woman,” and “any act performed by a physician or other medical professional in the course of such physician’s or medical professional’s professional duties.” Many are pointing out that that language essentially legalizes assisted suicide.

It took more than a week for Republicans to notice what they’d done, and quickly amended the bill through a process “normally used to correct spelling and grammar,” according to the AP.

On its surface, SB 66 doesn’t look like an anti-abortion bill. After all, it specifically makes an exception to the fetal homicide law for cases of abortion, right? But New Hampshire Democrats are insistent that this is a “vehicle to undermine protections established by Roe v. Wade.” Giving legal status to a fetus is a slippery slope, undoubtedly ending in fewer rights for women. As BuzzFeed points out, the law itself is unnecessary, since there are already additional penalties for crimes against pregnant women. SB 66 is simply a step towards establishing legal rights for fetuses.

But since Republicans don’t actually understand that there is a HUGE difference between a fetus and a person, this is where we end up. Roving gangs of pregnant women, freed from the normal laws of society, killing people at will. I assume.

(via BuzzFeed, image: Shutterstock)

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Posted by David Nieves

Earlier this week SEGA, the company that at one time was a giant in the world of video game hardware with the Genesis and Dreamcast, announced they would bring a series of their “classic” titles to mobile devices, with an initiative called SEGA Forever. Free to play, ad-supported ports of old SEGA games came to […]

Posted by Vivian Kane

Over the last five months (sweet Christmas, how has it only been five months?), Sean Spicer and the rest of the White House team have made a number of attempts to get around that whole pesky “free & independent press” thing. They’ve tried having closed-door, invitation-only briefings (that didn’t go over well), they’ve tried hiding in bushes (ditto), and now they’ve banned cameras from the White House press briefings.

So CNN did the only reasonable thing: they brought in their courtroom sketch artist to cover the briefing.

This not only highlights the absurdity of the Trump administration’s efforts to avoid accountability and keep the press from reporting all the “alternative facts” that come out of these briefings, but it allows CNN’s Jim Acosta to make a Grade-A Dad Pun.

Others were having just as much fun.

Others, though, weren’t feeling the jokes. Because while we do need to be able to point out the absurdity of the Trump administration, the degree to which the White House is fighting to restrict journalists’ access to the office of the President is not normal, and not democratic. It’s a legitimate threat to the First Amendment, and cheeky jabs aside, the press needs to put up a fight.

Because the sketch is a cute visual and makes for good headlines, but it can’t get across the buckets of misinformation Spicer spewed out up at that podium.

(featured image: NBC)

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The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—


Click here to go see the bonus panel!

We need to build a space elevator just so we can all get a taste of this.

New comic!
Today's News:

Just about a week left to submit your proposal for BAHFest Houston! Rice kids, this is your chance to show up MIT. Carpe diem.


Posted by Antonia Honeywell

At one point in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, a rape victim is surrounded by other women ritually chanting that the rape was her own fault. I live in the UK, so haven’t managed to see the new television adaptation yet, but I imagine it makes a powerful scene. Perhaps as powerful as the one where a woman is forced to pretend she’s enjoying sex, because that’s what she’s for, and the man has gone to so much trouble to take her out. Or the one where the State strings abortionists up on the Wall, for everyone to enjoy, or the one where the woman who gives birth is immediately abandoned, her purpose fulfilled, and a simple game of Scrabble is the greatest rebellion.

Margaret Atwood didn’t stamp a foundation date on the Republic of Gilead, but the novel exerts as powerful a hold on readers in 2017 as it did upon publication in 1988. Is a room full of older white men determining that rape should be classed as a pre-existing condition for health insurance purposes really so different from declaring that there must be some form of punishment for women who have abortions, as in The Handmaid’s Tale? What’s the expiry date on a terrifying futuristic vision? Clearly, three decades is not enough.

What about twice three decades?

Six decades ago, in Nineteen Eighty Four, George Orwell wrote of a totalitarian regime in which every home, building and public space is monitored by a screen, which broadcasts as it surveys. Winston Smith, performing his compulsory morning exercise at his telescreen, finds himself reprimanded by Oceania’s Jane Fonda for not trying hard enough. From Poltergeist to The Ring, the blurring of the line between the screen and real life has been the stuff of horror, not science fiction. For Orwell’s original readers, the idea of being personally addressed from the telescreen was one to fear—the loss of individual freedom expressed in a moment.

Where lies the horror now? For the modern reader, such reprimands are the stuff of everyday life. I wear a wristband that shouts at me if I haven’t moved for an hour. My phone throws up dresses I can’t live without, because I once bought one online. My laptop puts together my weekly grocery shop. ‘Antonia,’ it trills merrily, ‘have you run out of Medium Sliced White Bread?’ Sometimes I feel like Tom Cruise in Minority Report, haring down a station corridor while the models on the advertisement hoardings literally turn and call his name. Even more so when the next notification I receive is extolling the virtues of wholemeal.

And yet, if I step away from this intrusion—if I do all my shopping in store, in person, with cash, and I throw away my smart phone—I’ll lose my primary means of connection with the world in which I live, in which I am bringing up my children. More than this—I’ll lose the time I save by being able to shop, e mail, research, chat and read at the touch of a button. It’s a trade off—one that allows me to do my piano practice. Bake. Write. It drives me mad, and it keeps me sane. That’s the great oxymoron of our time, and Nineteen Eighty Four is our warning light. Sleepwalking to Oceania cannot be an option.

Step back seven decades, and Aldous Huxley shows us a world in which babies are grown in glass jars, their future lives laid out for them by the section of society in which they’re born. Leaving aside the vast advances that have been made in the science of conception and gestation since Brave New World was published in 1932, set against which a baby developing in a jar doesn’t seem such a great leap, we do seem to be moving towards a world in which success or failure is set out at birth.

In our world, education standards have become inextricably linked to parental wealth; earning potential is determined not only by education but by family connections and social environment. Wealth has become a justification in its own right as the gap between the rich and the poor becomes more extreme and less bridgeable. Show me where in the world a child is born, and the education and income level of its parents, and I’ll be able to predict, with some confidence, whether its life will be lived as an Alpha or an Epsilon.

Once, we used our fiction to send our heroes into space, to restore peace to warring galaxies. We were noble and brave, and our incursions into distant and dangerous realms brought hope and justice. HG Wells published The War of the Worlds in 1897; the chances of anything coming from Mars are still a million to one.  And those pesky Martians weren’t even strong enough to defeat the germs that we human beings fight off every single day. But our world has changed. The mirror of science fiction can also show us, not as heroes, but as a flawed and arrogant animal, seemingly intent on destroying the very best of ourselves.

We’re faced with impossible questions, dilemmas that are too big for the individual to solve. Our planet needs action on the largest scale, governments that embrace and accept the scientific evidence of the damage that human activity has done and is doing. I cannot refreeze the ice caps by watching videos of disorientated polar bears, or solve poverty by donating to the food bank; I cannot give the homeless person in the doorway a place of refuge by giving a few coins. My advantage is as systemic as Winston Smith’s oppression, as Offred’s eradication as an individual, as the monotonous, servile life of the Epsilon.

The rise of technology, the uneven distribution of freedom, the comfort of victim-blaming, perpetuate themselves in spirals. It seems that all we can do is close our doors—to surround ourselves with caring, loving people with whom we are in sympathy, bar our doors and turn off the news. Faced with a collapsing society, the people in my book The Ship do just that.

But we must continue to face the ugly parts of life if we are to change them. If we resist, like the Mayday rebels in The Handmaid’s Tale, maybe eventually we will be able to consign these dire visions to the past, and enjoy them as the fictions they should be.

(image: Hulu)

Antonia Honeywell studied English at Manchester University and worked at the Natural History and Victoria and Albert Museums in London, running creative writing workshops and education programmes for children, before training as a teacher. During her ten years teaching English, drama and film studies, she wrote a musical, and a play which was performed at the Edinburgh Festival. She has four young children and lives in Buckinghamshire. The Ship is her first novel.

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Posted by Bill Barnes

Stop by ALA Booth #4724 for the latest and greatest from Grey House Publishing, Salem Press, Financial Ratings, and H.W. Wilson. While you're there, demo their new databases and pick up a free Unshelved poster!

Unshelved comic strip for 6/24/2017

link to this strip | tweet this | share on facebook | email us

This classic Unshelved strip originally appeared on March 3, 2006.

Also today, Burbank, CA CSTS event is having a craft fair with Serenity.

"At the Fair you will be able to pick yourself up The Slayer's Scythe, some Premium Alliance Cargo, Tesseract Crystals or even some Freezeray Wonderflonium!"

Here is the find another event page.


Posted by Thomas McGrath

Before you, I was living on an island

And all around the seas of that lonely coast

Cast up their imitation jewels, cast

Their fables and enigmas, questioning, sly.

I never solved them, or ever even heard,

Being perfect in innocence: unconscious of self;

Such ignorance of history was all my wealth—

A geographer sleeping in the shadow of virgins.

But though my maps were made of private countries

I was a foreigner in all of them after you had come,

For when you spoke, it was with a human tongue

And never understood by my land-locked gentry.

Then did the sun shake down a million bells

And birds bloom on bough in wildest song!

Phlegmatic hills went shivering with flame;

The chestnut trees were manic at their deepest boles!

It is little strange that nature was riven in her frame

At this second creation, known to every lover—

How we are shaped and shape ourselves in the desires of the other

Within the tolerance of human change.

Out of the spring’s innocence this revolution,

Created on a kiss, announced the second season,

The summer of private history, of growth, through whose sweet sessions

The trees lift toward the sun, each leaf a revelation.

Our bodies, coupled in the moonlight’s album,

Proclaimed our love against the outlaw times

Whose signature was written in the burning towns.

Your face against the night was my medallion.

Your coming forth aroused unlikely trumpets

In the once-tame heart. They heralded your worth

Who are my lodestar, my bright and ultimate North,

Marrying all points of my personal compass.

This is the love that now invents my fear

Which nuzzles me like a puppy each violent day.

It is poor comfort that the mind comes, saying:

What is one slim girl to the peoples’ wars?

Still, my dice are loaded: having had such luck,

Having your love, my life would still be whole

Though I should die tomorrow. I have lived it all.

—And love is never love, that cannot give love up.

Thomas McGrath, “Celebration for June 24” from Movie At The End of the World. Copyright © 1972 by Thomas McGrath. Used by permission of Swallow Press/Ohio University Press.

Source: Poetry June 1944

Thomas McGrath

More poems by this author


Posted by <a href="/users/StreakingHerculobus/pseuds/StreakingHerculobus" rel="author">StreakingHerculobus</a>


Gambit steps in to save Rogue from her own self-destructive tendencies. And other drabbles.

Words: 3101, Chapters: 5/5, Language: English

23 June 2017

Posted by Ann

Some things I’ve read recently!

The Last Good Man by Linda Nagata

If you didn’t read Nagata’s The Red Trilogy, well, you might want to consider doing so. But whether you have or you haven’t–The Last Good Man is near-future military sf. It’s tense and compelling, and features a middle-aged woman protagonist, an ex-Army pilot who now works for a private military company. During a rescue mission she discovers something that casts a new and disturbing light on an event that she’d thought, well, not safely in the past, but over and done with and accurately understood. But she wants the truth, no matter the cost. If near future and/or military is your jam, don’t miss this.

All Systems Red by Martha Wells

This is volume 1 of the Murderbot Diaries, and I suspect a certain percentage of my readers don’t need to hear anything more. Go, purchase, download! You will enjoy this.

Murderbot is a SecUnit–a security android, part organic part mechanical, that isn’t supposed to have any sort of free will. It does, though, and having achieved that free will it secretly names itself Murderbot and then works hard to hide its freedom of thought from the corporation that owns it. It doesn’t actually want to murder anyone, though. It just wants to be left alone to watch its stories. Unfortunately, someone is trying to kill the humans Murderbot has been tasked to protect.

I’m not kidding, I can almost guarantee that my readers will enjoy this. I have already pre-ordered volume 2, which is out in January.

Barbary Station by R.E. Stearns

So, Lesbian Space Pirates. Out at the end of October. That may be all I need to say.

Or not. Our heroines hijack a colony ship in a bid to join a famous band of space pirates–only to discover the pirates are not, as widely believed, hiding out on Barbary Station rolling in money and loot, but are in fact trapped there by the station’s renegade AI. Why is the AI doing what it’s doing? Is it conscious? Does it matter when it’s trying to kill you?

This book is good fun. Set in the Solar System, lots of action, I really enjoyed this, and I bet you will, too.

The post Recent Reading appeared first on Ann Leckie.


Posted by <a href="/users/AlinaSorokina/pseuds/AlinaSorokina" rel="author">AlinaSorokina</a>


LoVe are married, soon to be divorced and two ghosts won't let that happen. Thus time travel happens...

Words: 0, Chapters: 1/1, Language: English

23 June 2017

Posted by <a href="/users/tarialdarion/pseuds/tarialdarion" rel="author">tarialdarion</a>


"Steve didn’t mean to become friends with Tony; it just sort of happened. It seems like one day he was a faceless dealer at Extrema, the next he was getting drunk with a millionaire genius. He knows what caviar tastes like now (he doesn’t like it) and he’s seen the Strip skyline at night from 60 stories up in a penthouse (that he does like). Most importantly, he knows Tony."

Words: 3989, Chapters: 1/?, Language: English

23 June 2017

Posted by <a href="/users/tarialdarion/pseuds/tarialdarion" rel="author">tarialdarion</a>


"Steve didn’t mean to become friends with Tony; it just sort of happened. It seems like one day he was a faceless dealer at Extrema, the next he was getting drunk with a millionaire genius. He knows what caviar tastes like now (he doesn’t like it) and he’s seen the Strip skyline at night from 60 stories up in a penthouse (that he does like). Most importantly, he knows Tony."

Words: 3989, Chapters: 1/?, Language: English


Posted by Teresa Jusino



Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, had a very specific vision of the future. By the time Star Trek: The Next Generation rolled around, he insisted on a story mandate: the conflict can never be between our main characters, because in Starfleet, petty squabbles are a thing of the past. Which is weird, because on the Original Series, Spock and McCoy were all about petty squabbles, and Scotty would punch you in the face if you trash talked about the Enterprise.

According to Nerdist, Star Trek: Discovery showrunners Aaron Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg are putting the kibosh on that mandate. Says Harberts, “We’re trying to do stories that are complicated, with characters with strong points of view and strong passions… People have to make mistakes — mistakes are still going to be made in the future. We’re still going to argue in the future.”

He continues, “But while we’re human or alien in various ways, none of us are perfect. The thing we’re taking from Roddenberry is how we solve those conflicts, so we do have our characters in conflict, we do have them struggling with each other, but it’s about how they find a solution and work through their problems.” And Berg adds, “The rules of Starfleet remain the same.”

I’ve been watching Star Trek since I was eight years old, and I’ve heard about Roddenberry’s mandate before. It never made any sense to me, because it didn’t seem to jibe with the show I was watching. At least, not the way it was described by people who’ve worked with him.

io9 talks about a William Shatner-produced documentary called Chaos on the Bridge, which focuses on the tumultuous first years of TNG. They say of the documentary:

“The picture that emerges is of a man who was angry and bitter after years in the wilderness following the cancellation of the original Star Trek in 1969. Roddenberry, according to all Shatner’s sources, had also developed a huge ego after years of going to conventions and college campuses and speaking to huge, adoring throngs—and the ‘Great Bird of the Galaxy’ had started to believe his own hype regarding his status as a great visionary who pointed the way toward a utopian future for the human race.”

It’s certainly very possible that, by the time Roddenberry got to TNG, he’d become more set in his ways thanks to decades of fans blowing smoke up his skirt. But as a kid growing up watching the show, particularly the Original Series, and hearing about Roddenberry’s “no conflict” mandate, I didn’t understand it as “no conflict between main characters ever.” I understood it to mean no conflict based on things that humanity had gotten over, like racism, sexism, and differences in class. Roddenberry wanted his starting point to be a human race free of those things. This doesn’t mean that there will never be interpersonal conflicts. It simply means that those conflicts won’t have the added layers of racism or sexism, or won’t have economic underpinnings.

To me, it makes sense for Starfleet personnel to not throw racial slurs at each other, or think less of each other because of gender, race, or physical appearance/ability. But yeah, the entire point of having a Spock and a McCoy tempering Kirk is that there is a conflict there. Spock and McCoy were like the Logical Devil and Emotional Angel on his shoulders, fighting with each other as they each tugged Kirk in their direction, with Kirk left to decide how to balance the two. The entire series was based in conflict like that.

And clearly, no one told Scotty about these higher ideals. Sure, the person he wants to punch for talking trash about the Enterprise in the Original Series episode “The Trouble With Tribbles” is a Klingon, but if Starfleet officers were really as “over it” as all that, surely that wouldn’t have been Scotty’s go-to impulse. Especially with someone of a different culture.

To me, that’s the spirit of the mandate: that conflict between humans only be based in universal concerns, not stemming from any sort of inequality. So long as Discovery does that, that’s totally in the spirit of Roddenberry’s mandate and his original creation, even if it’s not following the letter of the law written by a man whose sense of self had gotten inflated.

Tl;drwrite what you want, Star Trek: Discovery. You’re correct in that you don’t need any kind of mandate to “get it right.” Roddenberry’s original vision is like pornography. Hard to define, but you’ll know it when you see it.

(image: CBS)

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The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—


Posted by Heidi MacDonald

Just as a feel good end to the week, cartoonist John “Derf’ Backderf posted on his FB some thoughts about how Trumpcare/ACHA, which the Senate is trying to pass, might affect cartoonists. A disproportionate number of people making comics don’t make a lot of money (The Beat included) and having access to affordable healthcare via […]