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Friday Creature Feature

[ 38 ] June 19, 2015 |

Friends, there’s not much people agree on. Should the Air Force continue as a separate branch? Is “Game of Thrones” the best show since “Family Matters?” Was ketchup Hitler’s favorite condiment? Is it probable that 1 of every 3 of the children on “Toddlers and Tiaras” is named “Kaylee?” Opinions differ. We’ll never come to a consensus on these important issues.

But if there’s one thing I think we can all agree on it’s that newborns–of just about  every species– are disgustingly ugly. Just BUTT. UGLY.



This is the Eastern Phoebe chick (s/he hatched in the nest on our front porch) that recently (tentatively) took flight. Whew. Talk about a face only a mother could love…


UPDATE: I don’t think this chick is an Eastern Phoebe. Poster Lara thinks it may be, in fact, a baby Cowbird. I’m inclined to agree because they are so plentiful around here…and this baby was so much bigger than the others. I think, folks, this is a baby Cowbird. Oops!!!

Belated Creature Feature: I AM THE SMARTEST (WO)MAN ALIVE

[ 28 ] June 7, 2015 |

My son has recently gotten into bird-watching. Translation: I have gotten into bird-watching because I have to as my son has taken a serious interest in birds (also, I’m really digging it). We have bird-feeders, Cardinal feeders and hummingbird feeders set up and we’ve attracted a sweet little variety of birds to our yard. So far we’ve identified House Finches, American Goldfinches, Northern Cardinals, House Sparrows (our most abundant visitors), Red-Winged Blackbirds, Rock Doves, and Brown-headed Cowbirds. BUT we had this cute little bird that has a nest on our front porch and rarely leaves our house we could not identify. We bought books. We consulted bird-watching apps. COULD NOT figure out what our mystery bird was. Finally, I got fed up and…did something revolutionary–I Googled it. And I found out our mystery bird was…



Did I just put an Adam Sandler video on this esteemed blog? Yes, yes I did. I realize this is the pop culture equivalent of liking ketchup and vodka, but that’s totally how I felt when I found an exact match for my query–I AM THE SMARTEST WOMAN ALIVE!

Also, our own Dr. Bimler would like you to look at this amazing new ceratopisan.

The Fifth Character

[ 60 ] June 5, 2015 |

One of the reasons I loved the admittedly corny and silly “Witches of East End” was because its sets (and often its cinematography) were stunning. When I watched the show I became completely immersed in another world, a world I can only dream of for now. I’ve yet to find another show/book that scratches that “magical transportation to another world” itch.

Wayward Pines comes close. It’s not exactly what I was looking for (something soapy and tinged with magic; it’s a surreal drama/murder mystery.) But the sets are otherworldly.

The show is filmed in British Columbia…

The makers of “The Sex and the City” said that New York City was the show’s fifth character. I treasure movies where the sets are the fifth character. I study sets, I love sets,  I absorb them. Which movies/shows have you loved for their amazing sets?


[ 103 ] June 5, 2015 |

Janet Mock: activist, writer and transwoman

The Federalist has gone feminist, y’all! And they are very concerned that Caitlyn Jenner is bad for feminism. I had no idea you guys cared, Federalist! Welcome to Team Screechy Professional Victim!

…These carpet-baggers to womanhood are trying to prove to all of us that what it really means to be a woman is to pose in a playboy bunny outfit and make kissy faces at men. They reinforce this idea to teenage girls: go put on the miniskirt, honey, celebrate Jenner’s beauty, and try to exemplify it in your own life.

It’s almost as if transwomen are… women, who are subject to the same pressures all women in our culture are subjected to. It’s almost as if a high-profile transwoman might feel pressure to “put on her best face,” as it were, when she comes out to the world.


…For years, a major aim of the sexual revolution has been to deconstruct gender differences as being “social constructs”…

This is the ideology that governs liberal sexual philosophy, and it collides head-on with major aspects of the transgender movement. Transgenderism is unavoidably based on a kind of gender essentialism…

Well, for those transwomen who are very high-profile, perhaps you’re right. I’m sure that many transwomen who are in the public eye feel pressure to perform femininity. But not all of them do. I look forward your articles on Martine Rothblatt, praising her for the good she does feminism, by eschewing artifice and gender norms. I’ll just sit right here and wait for them. I won’t have to wait long. Right? Right?


Oh, Federalist. Your concern has been noted.

A Few Wednesday Links

[ 179 ] June 3, 2015 |

I apologize for not being around much. I’m trying to get over a sinus infection and my son just came down with a nasty cold. Life is kicking my butt right  now.


I’m Prone to Her

[ 58 ] May 29, 2015 |

It’s rare that a song grabs me by my throat and doesn’t let go. It’s a choke I welcome.

What’s the last song that grabbed you and didn’t let you go?

The Quiet Humor of “The Comedians”

[ 35 ] May 23, 2015 |

What is quiet humor? I don’t know, exactly. It’s not the easiest concept to explain. It’s not easy to explain why I really really like “The Comedians” though I mostly don’t find it laugh-out-loud funny. I find it compelling. I find it poignant. At times I find it extraordinarily clever. But its humor is quiet. Don’t get me wrong. It’s funny; it’s really funny. It’s just not loud funny.

“The Comedians” is a show within a show–a mockumentary about Billy Chrystal and Josh Gad (former “Daily Show” correspondent and OLAF) trying to get their new FX sketch show off the ground. They’re not quite gelling as comedy partners and they’re unsure about the fate of this rather risky endeavor.

I love watching Billy Crystal do subtle. Please forget everything you know his about imitations of Sammy Davis Jr. and the catchphrase “You look mahvelous.” This is not the Crystal you were looking for. The Crystal you’ll find in “The Comedians” is a low-key guy who’s in the twilight of his career sharing the stage with a guy who’s at dawn of his. There’s a little bit of bittersweet flavoring just about everything he does and every line he utters, and it’s lovely.

Josh Gad, meanwhile, is  perfection as an up-and-coming actor who’s caught between wanting to compete with or openly worship the comedy icon he’s been paired with. Watching that tension at work in Gad is gobs of fun.

I feel like “The Comedians” cribs a lot from its sister show, “Louie,” but, geez, if you’re gonna crib…why not crib from the show that’s mastered the art of wringing humor from the deeply uncomfortable situations? Let’s put it this way, if you like “Louie,” you probably won’t hate “The Comedians.” And if you like the idea of two comedians getting baked, hanging out in a grocery store and fighting with blow-up sea mammals, you’ll probably like “The Comedians.” And if you like the idea of grainy security camera footage capturing Billy Chrystal trying to steal a blow-up sea mammal by simply running out of the store with it, you may, like me,  love “The Comedians.” I didn’t know what to make of the show the first couple of times I saw it, but I’ve decided it’s a surreal and hilarious. Quietly hilarious.

Are there any shows/movies  you think are “quietly” funny?

Friends, I’m in Love

[ 11 ] May 22, 2015 |

Don’t mind me, I’m over here, making out with this gallery

Read more…

No, You Make It for Me

[ 124 ] May 21, 2015 |

I really really don’t like the he old “Don’t like it? Make it yourself” chestnut. It’s lazy and dumb. Think about this: if a bunch of tall men said to car manufacturers “Your cars are too cramped for us.” No one would say “Make your own cars, freakshows.” No one who designed, say, dishwashers or homes or computers would have that sort of dialogue with consumers. So why are people in the creative arts allowed to say things like that?

I suppose you could argue artists should get special dispensation because artistic vision is sacred, but I think there are two problems with that: 1.) You have to argue that engineers, designers, architects, etc. aren’t artists. But I would argue that a decent amount of artistry goes into designing even something like, say, a refrigerator. 2.) When an artist becomes popular, she’s not creating her art in a vacuum. She’s profiting from it. She is necessarily in a give and take relationship with the people who consume her product.

I understand why people get very sniffy about keeping artistic vision “pure.” People staying absolutely true to their vision sounds right and the idea of our vaunted genius-artists compromising their artistic vision sounds terrible.  But I think that when you become a popular artist, it’s actually quite fair for your fans to make demands as reasonable as “Hey, could you make your make your next episode less rapey?” (Yes, people in the “Princess” thread, I’m looking at you.)

I can afford to stay 100% true to my artistic vision, because I don’t have an audience–no one is reading my erotic slashfic “T-Rex Takes Clippy.” But once I start selling, you’re damn right I’ll listen to my readers. And if they want me to make it clearer that the sex between a dinosaur and computer icon is consensual, I will happily comply, artistic vision be damned, and thank you for your money.

The Old Model Minority Bullcrap Again

[ 80 ] May 20, 2015 |


If you speak glowingly of “model minorities,” it is fair for me to assume you are an idiot. Do not compare the experiences of Blacks to any other minority group in the States. You can’t. Black people have had a uniquely (bad) experience as Americans. They’ve been subjected to unique and uniquely awful prejudice. When you compare Blacks to, say, Asians or Jewish people, you are showing your ignorance. The experiences of these different groups simply cannot be compared.

This, ladies and gentleman, has been the latest chapter in “bspencer’s Pet Peeves and Bugaboos that Make Her Want to Slam Her Head Against a Wall Until it Explodes.”

I highly recommend reading the comments, which are–as always–amazing. But this one especially.

They Hate Us for Our Branes

[ 283 ] May 19, 2015 |


Normally I would not link to stuff like this but I am in a weird mood. Anyway, I read it. Now you have to. What you’re clicking on is probably the unsexiest circle jerk of all time. OK, I’ll quit hedging: It’s Vox Day talking about how people don’t like him because he’s just too goddamn smart. Thanks (??) to Origami Isopod.

Another Demographic Battle Lost

[ 107 ] May 18, 2015 |

When someone in my twitter feed made this snarky tweet, I did not, as they say, “trust the shorter.”

Well, I should have. Damon Linker weighs in on religion’s (soon to be–I HOPE) waning influence on, well, everything (again, I HOPE).

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