Racebending Hermione Granger

"Racebent" characters have long been making appearances on sites like Tumblr, but they’ve been picking up heat recently. One of the most popular and frequent, at least on my dash? Hermione Granger as a woman of color, most often black. 
For the first time, I was seeing Hermione’s subtext brought out into text.
alannabennet, "What A 'Racebent' Hermione Granger Really Represents" (Buzzfeed)

I'm mostly too old and not-with-it to know what the kids are doing on Tumblr, so I haven't seen this before. But I love it, hard. If I'd been an actual 14 year old when reading the Harry Potter books, I'd have cosplayed the shit out of Hermione Granger.

Lucida Grimbrow, Ravenclaw alumna. She's a teacher of wizarding ethics and bookseller.

She is not 14. Accio, beer!

Sunday with Rouxpert

Dog: Hey, human! What are you doing? Are you working? On this computer? Cool...cool. Well, I'll just squeeze in over here and take a little nap while you finish up—no rush!

Human: Dog, that doesn't even look comfortable. I mean, your head doesn't even fit—

Dog: Hey, human! What are you doing? You doing some laundry? Washing the stuff in these bags? Cool...cool. Well, I'll just curl up over here and take a nap while you finish up—no rush!

Human: Dog, are you really trying to get into that IKEA bag? I mean, it's already full of stuff and—

Human: OK, I'm sure it's actually pretty comfortable. But, I can't wash the clothes if you're on top of them. You're too heavy to stay in the bag while I take it down to the laundry room and—


Human: Dog, if I'd know you'd be happy sleep on top of laundry—

Dog: So comfy!

Human: —and that you'd happily squeeze yourself into places that are obviously too small for you—


Human: Yes, but I might not have bothered getting you that dog bed...

At least I can't say he's hard to please.

life in seemingly perpetual motion

Tending towards entropy without giving in to drift

I'm at that stage of moving prep where I go through boxes and stacks of paper and try to get rid of things I don't need, or take care of things I've let sit for too long. It's a little easier this time around. I did it when I moved to Oakland in 2011, and again when I moved to New Orleans in 2012, and again when I moved to Brooklyn last year. So, my packratness notwithstanding, there's not really a lot that I've got that I'm able/willing to get rid. As my best friend pointed out in advance of the Oakland-->New Orleans move, I am not a minimalist. And I'm ok with that right now. I don't give in, full tilt, to my urge to keep and catalog everything, but I also don't fool myself into thinking that I'll have, in any literal sense, only what I "need." But I also haven't had quite so much time to let the stacks of things accumulate between my last few moves, which probably helps as well. This time, a few books and DVDs, some old bedding, and a few pieces of clothing look to be all of the physical things that I'll get rid of on this move. And I've recycled a bunch of paper and made a list of follow-up and to-do items, mostly calls to be made to my insurance company, because god forbid they should get something right the first time and without making me fight for it. Ugh.

But, there's a whole nother world of virtual accumulation to deal with now—inboxes and folders and lists of links; things Pocket-ed, Pinterest-ed, or otherwise saved for later. Today, I've been going through some of those virtual things. This is, in some ways, much easier that the other kind of purging—there's no sentiment or nostalgia attached to the URLs and PDFs, and most of them are obviously disposable, being out-of-date in one way or another. But there have been a few things it was worth taking a few minutes to read. So far, I've reminded myself not to get so hung up on goal-reaching as the way to happiness (a chronic problem of mine); I've found a task-organizing program that I do actually want to give a test run (Todoist); and I'm making a playlist of new-to-me music to check out while fighting the neverending tendency towards entropy.

Now, yes, I've also put off the document review I'll have to do before I sleep tonight, and the actual putting of things into boxes that will have to happen before I can move, but this is not wasted time for me. Some people run as a way to clear their heads. I impose order by organizing to accomplish the same.

While deleting a bunch of things I no longer had any interest in or need for (so much easier than giving away clothes I don't wear anymore!), I found this little post hiding among the lifehacks and tips on everything imaginable. It doesn't have anything in it that I don't already know, but it's nice to be reminded to think of things like this. And, since I've been thinking of significantly scaling back my Facebook time, it's good to remember that there are other (and I might argue better, at least for me) ways to keep in touch.

So in the spirit of National Long Distance Friendship Day (I made that up, but don't you have a friend you need to call?), here is a list of the tips, tricks and forgivable blunders that have allowed me to delight in a collection of real friends."across the country and internationally.
--from Louise Hung's "Long Distance Friendships: 5 Louise-Approved Tips for Making Them Work" (xoJane)

Special shout-out to the friends who've made #5 happen when I couldn't. It's been fabulous to see you in New Orleans and New York, and I look forward to seeing you where you live when life allows. In the meantime, I'll see you on Skype and Google, and in New York again. I might even get my act together and call you someday soon.

Autumn in New York

For a long time, I only knew Harry Connick, Jr.'s version of "Autumn in New York," from the soundtrack to When Harry Met Sally (1989). It's jaunty, for lack of a better word -- the kind of song I play when I'm in a good mood, or when I want to be in a good mood. It might actually be the first NY song I ever loved, though I had absolutely zero dreams of living here, at the time. And every time I hear it, the playlist in my head segues directly into "I Could Write a Book."

Perhaps because I had been so very attached to that soundtrack (I wore it out on my mom's portable cassette player, and eventually on my very own Walkman), it took me a while to warm up to the next version I heard.

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong (1957)

It did, eventually, grow on me. If I'm in the mood for the more melancholy sound, though, I prefer Sarah Vaughan's version, from just a year earlier.

On the random, there's a bit of this version where the instrumentation reminds me of a James Bond theme.

So, it really is Autumn in New York. I've been here for just shy of a week, but am already feeling immersed. My things arrived from California the day after I landed, so there was a scramble to find movers and transfer it all to a storage unit, which was, of course, more expensive than I'd budgeted for. But it was doable, so now it's done. And with that, I have—after 9 months—really, really left the bay area! I've also received word that my New Orleans stuff is (finally) en route to Brooklyn. No clue, yet, what I'll do with it all in the long run. Depending on what apartment I eventually find, it may all end up in storage, or maybe just sold. Either way, it'll feel good to have it all in one place.

After a couple of days spent largely at U-Haul, I've now been able to start exploring and meeting/meeting up with people. I've mostly been in Prospect Heights—I'm crashing here, but it's also turned out that the people I've been meeting up with are in this area as well. Yesterday afternoon, I had brunch (lunch, really) with two ladies I hadn't seen since high school. We went to a Mexican restaurant called Taqueria des los Muertos (not the name I would have chosen). In the evening, I had dinner with a friend of a friend, who had been kind enough to invite me over. We talked until late, and I walked home, around the corner, in the rain. Today, I'll probably drop by and watch a movie with a former coworker from San Francisco, who has recently moved into an apartment right down the street from where I'm staying. It's strange, like acquaintances from far flung times and places have all converged in one place.

So, now I'll start figuring out my place here. I expect to be a bit of a nomad for a while, which I'm beginning to get anxious about. I do think it's all going to work out, but I'll feel better when I know how!

"NYC" and a little music trivia

I've never seen the stage production of Annie. I've also never watched the entire 1999 film, but will need to rectify that sometime. Audra McDonald (Grace) is a boss. Victor Garber (Spy Daddy Warbucks) is a boss. If they weren't awesome enough, there's also Alan Cumming (Rooster), Kristin Chenoweth (Lily), and Kathy Bates (Miss Hannigan)!

This number, NYC, isn't in the 1982 movie (which I watched A LOT as a little girl). Bonus points for the Andrea McArdle cameo.

True story: I thought McArdle was the original stage Annie, but looked it up to confirm. Turns out she wasn't—she replaced the original actress after a week of performances. The role was actually originated by a girl named Kristen Vigard. Funnily enough, I know that name, but only because my friend M. put a fantastic song by her on a mix.

Kristen Vigard - God Give Me Strength

I later heard a cover of the song by Audra McDonald -- Annie full circle! I like both versions, though I tend to prefer Vigard's: I find hers more powerful, though McDonald's is more beautiful.

Also true: I didn't know until tonight that "God Give Me Strength" was a Burt Bacharach tune (written with Elvis Costello for the film Grace of My Heart). It's not as obvious in the version I'm familiar with, but this earlier version (featured in the film, though not on the soundtrack) is totally Bacharachian. And here's Bacharach and Costello performing it on Letterman, for good measure. I'm not enough of an Elvis Costello fan to appreciate that version, but it's still clear that it's a gorgeous song.

"Empire State of Mind (Part 2) Broken Down"

I had never heard this version until my brother played it for me, the night I got the job offer in Brooklyn. Out of the set, I'd say Alicia Keys' lyrics are the weakest, but the hook is still catchy, and I do love a slightly melancholy piano.

Alicia Keys, The Element of Freedom (2009)

For some reason, it reminds of of an old-fashioned TV show theme. I mean that in a good way.

Crosspost: Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

My instinct was to write this review longhand, which probably won't mean much to you (except that I am old), but says something to me about the emotional space I was in after finishing the book. I took out my boarding pass, thinking I'd write on the back, not wanting to put it into my just-started professional notebook (it's teal, and has a fabric placeholder, and only has writing on one page -- a to-do list, most of which remains to be done). That was my instinct but, as it turned out, I'd left my pen in my backpack, which was safely stowed in the overhead compartment, and which I did not feel like retrieving just to get a pen. So, I "wrote" on my phone, in an app designed to look like a pad of yellow paper. I like the lines, but I miss the feeling of pen, and the imaginary lines on the imaginary page made me think of Lettie Hempstock saying that nothing is really what it looks like on the outside. 
I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane in less than the time it takes to fly from New Orleans to New York. I started during takeoff and when I finished, and checked the map, it told me that we were somewhere over North Carolina. It was a quick read, and the story is fairly simple: a man returns to a place he once called home and he remembers a time when he was a boy, when he met a girl and lost his heart. But it's better than that, and not quite like that at all. It was, as the best books are, full of more than you think will possibly fit in its pages. It was A Story, in the way Isak Dinesen might have meant -- bigger and more true than you'd imagined at the start. It was not unlike Lettie Hempstock's ocean, even knowing that it really was an ocean. 
And now I'm not sure what to say about it, though I felt, immediately, like I wanted to say something. Hm. That seems like a problem for a book review. So, here's what I think you need to know to understand what I thought of the book, which is really the point of a review: I mostly didn't think about it and I consider that a good thing...

This is how it is.

[CROSSPOSTED AT No Shortage of Opinions]

I am tired, and I am angry. I am overwhelmed by the sense that nothing will stem the tides of violence against black bodies. I am afraid that no amount of hope or change or dialogue or legislation can undo centuries of dehumanization and disregard. I feel sad that the arc of history bends too slowly for so many. I feel powerless. But I do not feel surprised. The Zimmerman trial ended exactly the way I expected it to. I do not feel surprised, and that hollow feeling of "this is how it is"-ness really scares me.

Last night, I did something I'd avoided doing for almost a year and half: I allowed myself to see a picture of Trayvon Martin's dead body. It was attached to an article at Gawker, written by Adam Weinstein, entitled "This, Courtesty of MSNBC, is Trayvon Martin's Dead Body. Get Angry"--I'm not linking because the article is easy to find, and the picture is right up at the top. I didn't really want to see the picture, but I felt like I needed to. I needed to remind myself in the most visceral way possible that this is how it is. Beneath the rhetoric and abstract arguments of the trial and the public discourse, this - this dead black boy - is how it is. George Zimmerman follows, threatens, and fatally shoots an unarmed young man. He walks free, because he was "standing his ground." Elsewhere in Florida, Marissa Alexander fires shots to scare off a man who admits to beating her: she is denied the right to "stand her ground," and is sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Things have changed in America, and often for the better. But things have also remained the same.

Last night, I did something I haven't done in years: I cried because I was so angry that I couldn't express it any other way. I heard the verdict and it filled me with sadness and rage. I looked at the picture because I needed to let that out, and I knew that the reality of that image would give me permission to do so. Sometimes crying is cleansing -- a way to expel negative feelings and make room for positive ones. I don't know what I made room for last night. I know that, when I stopped crying, I still felt full. When I started writing this, last night, I felt too full to collect my thoughts in any coherent fashion. (I'm still not sure how coherent this is, but believe me when I say that it's an improvement.) I gave up on trying to let this out and turned instead to taking things in. I let myself get lost in the Facebook posts, Tweets, and text messages full of outrage and sadness and resignation. This sadness, this anger, is how it is. I found some comfort in knowing that I was not alone in those feelings, but it did little to help me settle my thoughts before bed. I thought I could do that by reading something frivolous, but what started out pleasantly escapist soon became too real. I was too full to handle themes of bullying, loneliness, and the emotional damage of being constantly told that you are less-than, so I gave up on that, and went back to my laptop, to see what I'd left open to read from the past few days. As it happened, I'd left open on my browser a transcript of Malala Yousafzai's address to the UN. Malala, who was also shot by a coward who feared the threat that her existence posed to his narrow-minded beliefs, was speaking to the UN on the importance of education. It is worth noting, though, that she ties her focus on women's rights and girls' education to wider ideals of justice, and the lack thereof. "Poverty, ignorance, injustice, racism and the deprivation of basic rights are the main problems faced by both men and women," Malala said. This is how it is. But Malala also reminded me that my initial sense of powerlessness and insurmountable sadness are not the final word.

So here I stand...one girl among many. I speak – not for myself, but for all girls and boys. I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard. Those who have fought for their rights:  
Their right to live in peace.  
Their right to be treated with dignity.  
Their right to equality of opportunity.  
Their right to be educated. 
--Malala Yousafzai

Yesterday, I was filled to capacity with sadness and anger. This morning, watching the video of Malala's speech, I was struck by her courage and her capacity for forgiveness. I remember, today, that my hope, though certainly shakeable, is not yet uprooted. Tomorrow, or maybe the next day, I will again find some comfort in the knowledge that what was shared on Saturday night was not just the understanding that this is how it is, but also the conviction that this is not how it should be. I will, again, find some comfort in the hope that it will not always be this way -- that though some of us may be silenced, others will speak out in the face of injustice.

Malala believes that illiteracy, poverty, and terrorism of all kinds can be fought -- that our situations are not hopeless, and that we are not powerless. I hope that I can learn from her example that this, also, is how it is.

Quick Thoughts on Entertainment and Critical Thought

My geekery would probably be much easier for me if I didn’t think so much, but I also think that would just enable me to be passively part of the problem. And I’d like to be a part of the solution. If only to make it easier for me to enjoy the geekery.
Me, in response to Aamer Rahman's "Game of Thrones and Racist Fantasy." Read the full post over at No Shortage of Opinions.

Man of Steel (***1/2)


Catching up on "summer movie" reviews. Seems strange to feel like I'm playing catch-up here, since summer doesn't actually start until Friday…
Anyhow, I'm digging out the old movie rating system:
5 *s = "WOW!"
4 *s = "Good."
3 *s = "Stupid fun, decent, or at least not bad enough to get 2 *s."
2 *s = "Bad, but not awful; or awful, but enjoyable either despite or because of that."
1 * = "The best part was the end, because then it was over."
no *s = "*Deep, pain-filled sigh*...I will never get that [insert running time here] of my life back."

First up is the most recent one I've seen: Man of Steel. My prediction was: good action, mediocre plot, bad gender. So, how did it do?
Well, the action was good, sometimes. I think the story held together better than I expected. I liked the themes they chose to focus on (hope, use of power vs. restraint, and self-determination), though I don't think they did them as well as they could have. And, the gender stuff was  less aggressively bad than I'd thought it would be. So, I have quibbles, but I think it was entertaining. It's definitely worth watching, if you're into the idea of a Superman movie (or a movie with Henry Cavill in it). It's especially worth it if you, like the gentleman I recently overheard at a coffee shop, "just want to see a big, loud movie, where Zod and Superman break some shit, and Superman eventually saves the day, and Lois Lane is a hottie."
But, therein lie the quibbles. (And, herein lie the spoilers.)
Read the rest at No Shortage of Opinions.

Tropical Green Smoothie

Tropical Green Smoothie
Mangoes were on sale, so I figured it was a good time to change up my smoothie routine.

1 mango
1 banana
1 small green apple
1 kiwi fruit
1/2 of a pear

1 orange (peel a remove most of the pith, pull apart into 3 or four chunks)
or juice of a large orange
or 1/2 cup water

Blend, blend, blend, on whatever speed your blender likes for making a smoothie. If the fruit is fresh, I squish and stir, using less liquid; if it's frozen, I add liquid to get the blender going. It should end up looking something like this: 

No doubt, this would already have been a delicious fruit smoothie. But, I'm doing a green smoothie thing right now, and this is more of a lovely orange color. Not to worry!


3-ish handfuls of leafy green stuff -- I do a mix of kale and spinach, and change up the ratio to suit my mood.

Blend some more. If I've been working with fresh fruit, I'll also blend in some ice cubes. If most of the fruit has been frozen, I don't usually need ice.

Now, drink up! I don't really do exact measurements, but I usually get enough for a big (32oz-ish) smoothie.