"Your ability to get through [life], even as things get harder, is worth a hundred times more than your ability to slap a smile on your face and pretend that everything is just fine."
Thank you, Matt Murdock. I really needed to hear that this week. In other news, I streamed the entire Defenders series yesterday and wrote a short fic about Foggy dealing with the aftermath (spoilers, naturally).
On the whole, I liked it. It's not flawless, but it didn't have as much dead space as some of the individual series, and they improved some areas that were lacking in Daredevil season two and Iron Fist.
Ruby, the title character of the book, is a black woman who fled to New York City when she was young but ultimately comes home to a black township in East Texas. Adjusting to life in the South after the freedoms of the North is harder than Ruby realizes it will be, and the pressure of her barely suppressed childhood traumas quickly results in severe mental illness (or, to be more accurate, something modern readers will quickly recognize as mental illness, while the townsfolk mostly blame her for "not keeping herself under control"). Ruby herself believes that she is haunted. As a child, she witnessed terrible things happening to other children, and now the souls of those children flock to her for protection. Readers get the choice of how to interpret these "haints" -- as a symbolic representation of being trapped in a moment of trauma, or as literal ghosts that cling to Ruby's skirts. The situation comes to a head when Ephram, who loved her from afar as a child, sets himself as Ruby's protector amid fierce opposition from his ultra-religious sister.
This book contains serious triggers for rape and child abuse, both of which are referenced below the cut.
Title: The Best Dressed Lie Rating: PG Characters: Leia, Breha Organa, Bail Organa, Grand Moff Tarkin, Han Solo Summary: Leia begins showing signs of force sensitivity at an early age. Her parents struggle to dissuade her from investigating her new powers before Vader discovers the daughter he never knew he had. Word Count: 5400
I rewatched Star Trek: Into the Darkness last night, and...I really love the movie. I wish that Kirk and McCoy did not sexually harass women. I wish that the role of Khan had not been given to a white guy. But in the storytelling sense, I think it's a really good movie.
I love that the characters' strength and maturity are tested by impossible dilemmas. Of course Spock wouldn't be willing to let a planet die after witnessing the destruction of his home world. Of course Kirk wouldn't let his first officer perish for the sake of a rule. Their response to those dilemmas creates a huge conflict rooted in their underlying cultural assumptions. Kirk, the brash American rule breaker, thinks it's just common sense to lie to Starfleet. Spock, on the other hand, has fought so hard to be considered Vulcan and now feels obligated to be the living embodiment of a culture someone tried to destroy. His response is totally Vulcan: tell the truth, make someone see the logic of the situation, and take full responsibility for it. Neither Kirk nor Spock understands each other's perspective, which puts a huge strain on their friendship. This is the kind of thing that happens all the time, both between individual personalities and different cultures trying to get along.
Another impossible dilemma appears when a beloved character is murdered, and the crew receives questionable orders to execute the killer. The right thing is to refuse completely, but only the oldest member of the senior staff -- Scotty -- can bring himself to do that. The rest of the crew goes with Kirk's "halfway" plan that actually makes matters worse. Chekov takes on responsibility he's not ready for. Sulu feels ambivalent about being in the captain's chair. Uhura behaves unprofessionally by starting a relationship argument on a dangerous away mission. After that, you get the second half of the movie, which is basically everyone repairing their mistakes. Uhura tries to negotiate with the Klingons by herself. Spock tricks Khan to save the Enterprise. Kirk immediately calls Scotty to admit his mistake and ask for help, then sacrifices himself for his ship. All this contrasts with Admiral Marcus, who responds to his mistake by trying to kill everyone. He claims he's looking out for Starfleet, but he's really trying to avoid responsibility for his decisions.
I've heard people claim it's not a Star Trek movie because they characters do not behave admirably. I agree. It's better than the original movies because the characters make mistakes and have to fight their way back from them. Underneath all the character conflicts is the moral dilemma of targeted killing and clandestine warfare, which we have engaged in heavily since 9/11. The movie concludes by telling us that seeking revenge is natural after loved ones have died but will turn us into the very thing we are fighting against. As someone who lived less than a mile from the World Trade Center after 9/11, I find that a very powerful message.
You guys, it took me a YEAR to write this story, and I finally finished it for Fandom 5K (with lots of help from fleurlb's inspiring prompts!) This definitely goes on the list of hardest stories I've ever written, but I think (hope) it is also one of the best.
Title: Any Scar You Give Me (I Will Endure It) Rating: Teen Characters/Pairings: Leia/Han, Ben Solo, Luke Skywalker, Poe Dameron Summary: Leia and Han had escaped from Imperial assaults, been captured by Jabba the Hutt, blown up the shield generator on Endor, and helped to found the New Republic. After all that, raising a child together couldn’t be that hard, right? World Count: 15K
Title:Fast, Thorough, and Sharp as a Tack Rating: Teen Pairings: Leia/Han Summary: Leia knows how to fire a blaster, survive an interrogation, and escape from the Death Star, but she's still missing a few essential survival skills -- like how to apologize, how to accept help from a friend, and okay, she might not know how to wash her own clothes or cook a real dinner. Word Count: 3,000
Friends, is there any show that can make me as happy as the Great British Bakeoff? Because I just consumed all the seasons that are available in the United States, and I'm at a serious loss. It was just so perfect! And so different from American reality shows, where everyone is typecast, people have to quit their jobs and squish in a house together, and it's all about the prize money. All the contestants are such ordinary people, like teachers from Leeds or firefighters from whatever-shire. The hosts make ridiculous requests like "bake 17 identical profiteroles from enriched wheat dough and join them together with royal icing in the shape of your hometown." And everyone does it! And they are all so adorable and British and modest! How kind of you to say my obscure Latvian pastry is a masterpiece, but really, I hardly know anything about baking and I'm right chuffed the judges loved it. Are all British reality shows this cute, or is this one just special?
The ResistBot uses your name and zip code to identify your Congress people. Then it turns your texts into nicely-formatted faxes and sends them in. I just used it this morning to tell my Senators that you can't be pro-life while also saying that insurance companies don't have to provide maternity care.
I'd been struggling with my activism a bit. Everything I read said that phone calls are super important, but my workday is well underway by the time my Senators' offices open, and teachers don't really get phone breaks in the middle of the day. But just because you can't do the optimal thing doesn't mean you shouldn't do anything, so the ResistBot is a good compromise for me.