Media Update 4/9/20

April 9, 2020

This week is a special book review edition because I have been engrossed in these books lately. All three books were available in audio form from my local library.

She Said
by Meghan Twohey and Jodi Kantor

When the Me Too movement began to flourish like a genie’s bottle suddenly and finally uncorked, I was really happy. Sexual violence and sexual harassment are things that took me a long time to understand. I always believed they happened but, for some reason, I never understood why. It finally clicked with me over a decade ago when it was described as less of a sexual thrill and more of a dominance thing. Anyway, this book is written by the two New York Times reporters who broke the story on Harvey Weinstein’s mistreatment and abuse of so many women who passed through his life. However, it is not only about that. It is also about their story on his misappropriation of AIDS charity money. It is about Non-Disclosure Agreements in general and how many attorneys make a living on silencing victims for profit. It touches on the many cases of abuse perpetrated by Donald Trump. It is about the mistreatment of Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford during the confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh. It is about how Trump’s own history colored his handling of the situation. It is about the Me Too movement’s evolution. I definitely recommend it.

Catch and Kill
by Ronan Farrow

This is Ronan Farrow’s book on his own efforts to report on Harvey Weinstein, efforts that were a lot rockier than the journey at the New York Times. At the time, Farrow worked as an investigative reporter for NBC, mostly working on the Today Show. After getting a lead on the Weinstein scandal, he was assigned the story. As soon as he started to gain some traction, his bosses tried to kill it. Eventually, the story was published through New Yorker Magazine. Farrow reads his own book in this version and he does a lot of voices and imitations but I think it comes off as endearing, not silly. Farrow is a consummate performer and it shows that he gets great joy out of it just like his mother. He is also a former attorney and the combination of journalistic and legal insight is very useful in telling his story. His story is less about the Weinstein story and more about the extraordinary lengths that Harvey, NBC, the National Enquirer, and so many others went to ‘catch and kill’ the story and many like it. It goes into detail about the actual spy agencies hired to intimidate, investigate, and surveil those trying to get the story out. It also goes into great detail about the inner workings of NBC. It chronicles the fall of Matt Lauer and Tom Brokaw and how NBC tried to hide their culpability and complicity in the whole thing. I definitely recommend it as well.

Permanent Record
by Edward Snowden

During the Obama Administration, there were a great number of whistleblowers who sought to reveal the sins being committed by the US government. Many, if not all, of these people were severely punished and their lives continue to be absolutely ruined by the government. Edward Snowden is one of those people. Through journalists, Snowden revealed a secret spy program that was constantly monitoring all US citizens. No longer were they just surveilling suspected criminals, they were watching everybody and saving it all as a permanent record for each citizen. This is Snowden’s account of how he came to the decision to release this information and why he ultimately did. It is also a reflection on his life, a memoir that helps frame why he did what he did. It is a really charming tale of a young, curious kid from North Carolina who eventually got swept up into a terrifying bio-mechanical organism that never had the People’s best interest at heart. I also recommend this book.

Music of the Week:
ORESAMA – 流星ダンスフロア

The Ratler Brothers – Flowers On The Wall

IGORRR – VERY NOISE

Badflower – The Jester

Megan Thee Stallion – Savage

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Surveillance”
– I watched more Stumptown Season 1
– I watched more Prodigal Son Season 1
– I watched more Elementary Season 1
– I watched more Slasher Season2
– I watched more Bojack Horseman Season 6
– I watched more Black Lightning Season 3
– I watched more Penn and Teller’s Bullshit!
– I watched more Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath Season 2
– I watched more Rizzoli and Isles Season 2
– I watched more Dirty Money Season 2

HoloTek Programming – A Star Trek Story

April 9, 2020

President Adrienne Cocteau sat at her desk tapping away at the console embedded in her desk. She was a bit distracted and had not yet really acknowledged her visitor even though she had told her secretary to usher the man in. For her part, Judith Korben was happy to wait even though she was a little anxious about the visit. Getting hired at HoloTek Programming was a dream come true. It was definitely the place to work if you were interested in working with bleeding-edge holographic technology. Judy had been hired as an entry-level programmer but had quickly shown her skill and creativity when solving problems. She was a valued employee now and that is how she had requested and received a meeting with the big cheese.

Of course, Judy would have to actually get a chance to speak in order to make this worthwhile. Several minutes had gone by and her lunchbreak did not last forever. Thankfully, Ms. Cocteau’s secretary cleared his throat standing at the doorway which caused Ms. Cocteau to look up. Judy flashed the secretary a grateful look and then turned and smiled at her boss’ boss.

“Thank you for agreeing to see me today, Ms. Cocteau,” Judy said.

“Please, call me Adrienne,” Ms. Cocteau said. “I’m happy to meet with you, Judith. I’ve heard really great things about the work that you have been doing. You’ve increased our efficiency a lot.”

“I’m flattered to hear it,” Judy said. “It’s Judy, actually.”

“What?” Ms. Cocteau asked, confused in the moment.

“Judy not Judith,” Judy said. “It’s not a big deal, though.”

“Oh!” Ms. Cocteau exclaimed as she realized what Judy had been saying. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s fine,” Judy said. “It’s perfectly alright.”

Ms. Cocteau seemed relieved. “Well,” she said with an easy smile. “What brings you to my office today?”

“I have a proposal for you,” Judy said. “I have a new direction to take our business which could make the company a lot of money.”

“Last time I checked, we are making a lot of money marketing our products to Federation and independent laboratories. Our revenue is higher than it has ever been.”

“Which is why I think we need to redirect that revenue for even further growth,” Judy said.

Ms. Cocteau’s curiosity had definitely been piqued. “What sort of growth did you have in mind?” she asked.

“Have you thought about entertainment?” Judy asked. “I think there are a lot of avenues that we can explore there. When I was little, I played a lot of video games. Actually, to be honest, I still play a lot of video games during my free time. I think we can adapt our technology to the world of video games.”

“I’m aware of video games,” Ms. Cocteau said. “I’m still not really seeing how this all connects. Also, with all of space to explore, why would people sit on their butts playing games?”

“I’m getting to that,” Judy said. “Ages ago there was a video game technology called virtual reality. Through the use of goggles and headphones, the player was immersed within a virtual game environment. With holographic technology, we could do this but make it way better. You would actually walk around and actually do things instead of manipulating a controller. We could create whole worlds within a single room.”

“This does sound interesting,” Ms. Cocteau said. “It sounds pretty complicated.”

“Oh definitely,” Judy said. “Each character within the world would be programmed separately and guided along by a dynamic and interactive script.”

“So you propose that we fill a room with holograms and each of them is controlled by a separate artificial intelligence program?” Ms. Cocteau asked.

“Guided by a voice-activated artificial intelligence. Yes,” Judy said. “Each game would have branching paths based on the player’s actions within the game.”

“That’s a lot of processing power, Judy,” Ms. Cocteau said. “It seems like there might be a high rate of hardware failure.”

“I think we can compensate for that,” Judy said. “Besides, I really only envision this technology being used on a planet or in space stations. Conditions there should be pretty stable and won’t be interrupted by the rigors of space too much.”

“I suppose that’s true,” Ms. Cocteau said.

“Oh, and there is some really interesting work being done with beams, fields, and replication which would be able to make everything feel real in the simulations.”

“That sounds like it has the potential for being dangerous,” Ms. Cocteau said. “Correct me if I’m wrong but video games can get fairly violent. That sounds like a recipe for injury and maybe even death.”

“We’ll install safety protocols,” Judy said. “If somebody is about to be hurt then the program will shut down. Like a killswitch.”

“I really don’t think we should call it that,” Ms. Cocteau said. “That sounds really iffy, Judy. This whole thing sounds like a huge liability risk.”

“I mean, that can be covered by waivers and warning labels, right?” Judy asked.

“I’m not so sure,” Ms. Cocteau said. “I appreciate your creativity and there might be something to all of this but I don’t think we’ll pursue it.”

“Oh,” Judy said, obviously disappointed.

“I’m sorry to bring you down,” Ms. Cocteau said.

“That’s ok,” Judy said as she brightened after thinking of something. “Do you mind if I shop this idea elsewhere?”

“I suppose I don’t mind,” Ms. Cocteau said. “Just keep me apprised of the situation. I’m very curious now.”

“I definitely will,” Judy said. “This is going to be huge.”

<Star Trek was suggested as a topic by my friend Vashti on Twitter>

Girls’ Night -A Harley Quinn Story

April 8, 2020

“You’re not going straight, are you?” Ivy asked. She was tending to a couple different venus flytraps but she was paying attention to the conversation. Mostly.

Harley Quinn laughed. “You know that I’ve never been anywhere close to straight,” she said and then she shrugged. “I’m not going all goody-two-shoes, Red, I’m just talking about kicking a little ass.”

“Criminal ass,” Ivy noted with a slight smile. “You’re talking about busting criminals. A lot of the people you worked alongside previously.”

“That was with Mr. J,” Harley said and then corrected herself. “Joker. I’m done with that, it always ended in tears.”

“It always ended in Batman,” Ivy said. “He would abandon you and then Batman or Robin or Batgirl or whoever would catch you. Batman always wins.”

“Exactly,” Harley said. “I don’t want to fight Batman anymore. I just want to do my thing.”

“What is your thing?” Ivy asked, turning toward Harley. “You don’t want to fight Batman and you don’t want to be with Joker anymore. Wait, that’s still the case right?”

“Oh Hell yes,” Harley said. “I’m done with him forever.”

“Because the only reason I allowed you to stay here was that you promised,” Ivy said sternly.

“Geez Red,” Harley said. “I’m done. I’m here with you now. I also don’t just ‘stay here’. I pay rent.” She said the last with a slight pout.

“Sometimes,” Ivy said with a smile.

“That’s going to change,” Harley said defensively. “I’m changing.”

The truth was, Harley had already changed a lot. She still had a lot of the chemicals that had ‘created’ her flowing through her veins. However, it seemed like some of the mania in her head had cleared thanks to the correct balance of medications. Ivy had helped to cultivate the correct treatment with consultation from Bane of all people. When Harley had finally broken with Joker, Ivy had taken her on a trip out of the country. That meant that Harley finally got some sun and stopped using facepaint. She had started to shake up her style now that she was not trying to please anybody but herself. She had abandoned her trademark pigtails and had gone with a sidecut instead. She died her hair multicolored and wore whatever she pleased. She was happier.

“Is that why you bought the armor?” Ivy asked. She gestured over at Ivy’s new acquisition which had been meticulously designed.

“It’s hardly even armor,” Harley said dismissively. “It’s just the chest piece and some leg plating. I can’t do all my flippy stuff if I’m weighed down too much but this stuff is bulletproof in case things go to crap.”

“Are you expecting that things will ‘go to crap’?” Ivy asked. “I don’t want you hurt out there.”

“These streets are rough out there, Red,” Harley said. “But it’s just in case. Everything is going to be fine.”

“Is it?” Ivy asked. “You still haven’t exactly explained your plan here.”

“Well,” Harley said. “I don’t really have anything against criminals. A lot of people get left behind and they gotta survive the best they can. What I don’t like are people like Joker, like Black Mask, like Scarecrow. The dangerous assholes. The killers. What I wanna do is take them out. While we’re at it, we might as well take their money. Maybe Batman will be grateful we’re helping him do his job.”

“I doubt it,” Ivy said. “but it is a fairly noble plan.”

“So are you in?” Harley asked. “Do you want to join the team?”

“Team?” Ivy asked. “Harley, you know I love you but I’m done fighting. I’m a scientist again now and I just want to develop things that are going to save the world with ecology, not violence. I’m just Ivy now, no poison. I’ll always support you, though.”

“That’s alright, Ivy,” Harley said and leaned in to kiss her. They shared a sweet but passionate kiss. “Like I said, I’m putting together a team for this. You can party with us anytime but you don’t hafta. I understand.”

“Good,” Ivy said. “I’ll always be here when you come home.”

“You’re so sweet, Red,” Harley said.

There was a sound in the living room and Harley spun around, she just suddenly had her oversized pistol in her hand by instinct. She pointed it at the door that led into the living room.

“Who’s there!?” Harley yelled out. “Show yourself.”

Catwoman walked into the room with her hands up and a confused look on her face. “It’s me, Catwoman,” she said. “You invited me here to talk over your proposal.”

“Oh yeah!” Harley said with a smile, setting her gun aside. “Welcome! Can I get you something to drink? Saucer of milk?” It was hard to tell if Harley was serious or just joking. Catwoman just decided to brush the comment aside.

“Cute,” Catwoman said. “I’m good.” She looked around, taking the place in with mild interest. There was nothing really to steal so it was kind of boring.

“Harley!” Ivy hissed. “You invited somebody to our apartment?”

“Yep,” she said. “I needed an out of the way place.”

“Without my permission?” Ivy asked.

“Oooh,” Harley groaned. “Sorry about that, Red. I wasn’t thinking about that, I was just so excited!”

“I know,” Ivy said. “I know how excited you get.”

“Maybe we should meet somewhere else?” Catwoman asked. “I know a few places that would work.”

The doorbell rang.

From around a corner, the porcelain-white mask of Anarky appeared. “Hey, is this the right place?” he asked. “Oh and Renee Montoya is at the front door.”

Ivy looked at Harley helplessly and Harley gave her an apologetic look. “Yeah,” she said. “We should go. Let’s go. Sorry, babe, see you later!” Catwoman slipped out of the apartment while Harley dragged Anarky out through the front door, past a confused Renee Montoya and Grace Choi. Ivy sighed and went back to work.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road – A Wizard of Oz Story

April 7, 2020

Dorothy stumbled out of the house. The inside looked like a bomb had gone off but somehow Dorothy had survived the fall. She leaned against the door frame, her hand clutching it tightly. She reached up instinctively toward a sharp pain on her forehead and she saw that her fingers were now covered in blood. Maybe she had not been as lucky as she thought. She heard Toto scramble out of the house behind her and felt thankful that the dog had survived. Then a sudden thought hit her. Where was Elma? She turned carefully and shouted into the wreck of a house.

“Elma!?” she screamed. “Are you alright? Where are you?” She and her sister had been unable to make it to the storm cellar and had instead ducked into the house. They had hoped for the best but the tornado had somehow lifted the house up. She had no idea how long she had been passed out on the floor. There was no answer. She did not have the strength to walk back in to check. She barely had the strength to remain standing. She started to cry.

“You killed the Wicked Witch of the East!” A voice said from behind her.

Dorothy jerked around and nearly fell down. “What?” she asked. “I didn’t kill anybody.”

Standing there was a young girl who was very short. Actually, she was incredibly short like a child but she had adult features. Was it some form of dwarfism? Dorothy remembered hearing about that in school. She had never seen anybody like that in person, though.

“No you definitely did,” the woman said. “Her body’s right over there.” She pointed over at the side of the house. There were two feet sticking out from under the house. Thankfully there was no blood visible but there surely was a lot of it under the house.

Dorothy leaned against the house and threw up all over the siding. She wiped her mouth and turned back toward the woman. “It was the storm,” she said. “I didn’t mean to.”

“No, it’s alright,” the woman said. “She was oppressing us. We had been engaging in warfare against the Witch’s forces for years now. You did us a favor.”

“I didn’t mean to,” Dorothy said. “Have you seen my sister?”

“You and this little fella are the only ones here,” the woman said, leaning down to pet Toto who seemed miraculously unharmed. “I’m sorry. Are you ok?”

“No,” Dorothy said in a whimper. “I’m really not.”

The woman gestured toward the nearby bushes and several people her size came out of hiding. “It’s safe!” she called out. “Come help me carry her. We need to get to the village. She needs a bed and medicine. My name’s Pippa.”

“Dorothy,” Dorothy said and her voice sounded weird.

It was at this point that Dorothy’s vision started to swim and her knees buckled. She could hear Toto barking as she fell towards the ground and then everything went back. She had the vague sensation of being carried somewhere. The little people were stronger than Dorothy would have guessed. Everything went dark and silent again.

She had no idea how long she had passed out when she awoke later. She was aware that she was now in a bed but she was also aware that her feet were hanging over the end. Still, it felt warm and soft and her head did not hurt as much anymore. She could feel Toto nestling against her side and that was a comfort. She tried to sit up and it went alright although she still felt kind of sore. A woman with pink hair suddenly appeared in the doorway, she was tall and thin and very pretty.

“Are you a good witch or a bad witch?” the woman asked dramatically.

“I’m not a witch at all,” Dorothy said. “I’m Dorothy Gale from Kansas.”

The woman glanced at the door and gestured and it closed on its own. “My name is Glinda,” the woman said. “I’m from Pennsylvania.”

“What?” Dorothy asked.

“Look, you’re like me so you must have come through one of the gates,” Glinda said. “People who come here from Earth absorb the energies between worlds and it allows us to perform great feats of magic.”

“What?” Dorothy asked again.

“One minute I’m a hairdresser in the Poconos and the next moment I’m a sorcerer here,” Glinda said.

“Where is here?” Dorothy asked.

“Welcome to Oz,” Glinda said. “It’s a really weird place.”

The End of One Road – A Star Wars Story

April 6, 2020

Finn carried a box of parts up the ramp of the Millenium Falcon and poked his head around the corner. He did not see anybody so he looked for somewhere to put the box down. It had been two weeks since the battle against the Final Order. Rey had gone off on her own but a lot of Finn’s other friends had been ordered to get some rest. They had run themselves ragged for so long, nearly dying on so many planets. Now everybody was going back to work and part of that was getting the Falcon back in tip-top shape. Not that it ever stayed in tip-top shape.

Finn was kind of surprised that the Falcon was even still there. He had thought that Rey would take it with her, maybe bring Chewie along for the ride. Instead, she had taken her own craft wherever she had gone. Chewbacca seemed to be done with the Falcon now and probably had no fight left in him. As he was the oldest current member of the Resistance, everybody understood his retirement. Lando had just said that he had already lost the Falcon a long time ago and felt that it had belonged to the Resistance now more than anybody.

While Finn was lost in thought, Poe climbed out of a hatch below and removed the welding goggles he had been wearing.

“Finn!” he said suddenly which made Finn nearly drop the box he forgot he had been holding. “What’s going on?”

“I, uh, just brought this box of parts,” Finn said. “I think this is what was needed. At least, it’s what I could scrounge up so far.”

“Cool,” Poe said. “Set it anywhere. Can you give a hand on a few things?”

“Sure,” Finn said. “I’m not really doing anything right now besides carrying stuff around.”

“Don’t sell yourself short,” Poe said. “You’ve learned a lot during your time with us. There was a time where I thought you’d run.”

“I actually tried,” Finn said. “Early on. Twice actually.”

“Really?” Poe asked. “Why am I only hearing about this now?”

“I guess I was embarrassed,” Finn said. “The first one Starkiller convinced me to stay and then Rose stopped me the second time.”

“I can’t really call you out,” Poe said. “Remember that I actually tried to stage a coup?”

“Oh yeah,” Finn said with a laugh. “That sucked.” Even though Finn had been off at Canto Bright at the time, the resistance’s rebellion had been laughed about when Finn got back. It was one of the only things to laugh at the time.

“Not my finest moment,” Poe said, blushing slightly. “I can be an ass.” It had been one of the first real stings to his ego which had thankfully led to him being a more mature officer and a real asset to the Resistance.

“You saved me, though,” Finn said. “Over Jakku.”

“You saved me first,” Poe said. “That was… intense.” The two of them shared a look as they remembered the frantic escape from the Star Destroyer over Jakku. The thrilling space battle which ended in disaster.

“I thought you died,” Finn said. “The only person I had in the entire universe and he was dead.” He saw the ship sinking into the sand in his mind’s eye and it made him shudder.

“I’m glad we met again,” Poe said.

“It’s part of why I stayed to handle Starkiller Base,” Finn said. “I trusted you. I trusted Rey.”

Poe thought for a moment. “Finn,” he started. “I’ve been meaning to bring something up with you.”

“What’s that?” Finn asked

“I’ve noticed that in the year since we met, you’ve gone after quite a few girls,” Poe said. “I mean, first you seemed to be trying for something with Rey.”

“I mean, I never said anything to her,” Finn said. “Now I never will.”

“Then you and Rose were actually an item,” Poe said.

“Not for long,” Finn said. “It kind of started in the heat of the moment but it fizzled out.”

“Then along came Jannah,” Poe said.

“Who?” Finn asked. “Oh, yeah, that was never really a thing. We’ve just got that shared history thing.” He was still not sure how he felt about that. He wanted to explore his past but he was also interested in his future. He felt conflicted.

“Do you think you would ever go for a guy?” Poe asked, looking Finn dead in the eye.

“What?” Finn asked, swallowing hard. “I’m not sure. I don’t have any experience there.”

“Could you see yourself with me?” Poe asked with a smile.

“I’ve met your ex,” Finn said. “I thought you liked girls too.”

“A person can like both,” Poe said with a shrug.

“A person could like both,” Finn agreed. Somehow that had not occurred to him.

Poe smiled again. This time there was something a little more intimate to that smile. “Think about it,” he said. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“I, uh, I will think about it,” Finn said. “What are you going to do now that the Final Order is toast?”

“Well,” Poe said. “I’m sure there are still First Order flunkies out there. There are rumors that Phasma is still alive somewhere.” At the mention of the name of his old Captain, Finn tensed.

“Then I’m definitely sticking around,” Finn said. “I want a piece of that.”

“That means we’ll be spending more time together,” Poe said.

“I guess it does,” Finn said with a smile. “I guess it does.”

<This was suggested by #BloggessFam friend Meerkat on Twitter>

Deposition – A She-Hulk Story

April 4, 2020

Patsy Walker felt weird being out of costume. She usually did a lot of her work as an investigator for Jennifer Walters (alias She-Hulk) under the guise of Hellcat. That meant that she wore a mask as she crept around and figured out the truth of the matter for Jen’s cases. OF course, she did ask plenty of questions without the mask but she still felt like Hellcat when she was doing that. Patsy Walker was famous for her mother’s dumb soap opera. She felt so disconnected from that life. She also felt pretty disconnected from superhero life. She was happy to do some investigation for her old friend but also loved running the job agency she had founded while Jen was in a coma.

She also felt uncomfortable because of why they were sitting at the oak table so early in the morning. She glanced over at Jen. Jennifer Walters, Esquire was the picture of calm looking serious but with that warm nature that her best friends knew she had. Patsy knew that she was angry. Who wouldn’t be? Unlike her cousin, Jen could control her anger. She would remain professional and she would continue to conduct business in the interest of her client. Patsy was ready to go out and get revenge, maybe enlist somebody like fellow investigator Jessica Jones to help her. Jen would be so disappointed in that, though.

At 10:05, just 5 minutes late, the potential client walked in wearing a scarf over her hair and large sunglasses. As she took those off, Patsy saw how beautiful she was. Of course, Patsy had seen pictures in the paper and news footage but it was different when you saw somebody in person. Her name was Amber Guttierez but the public knew her as Lightblaster. She had been born with the power to generate and control light which she easily used for offensive and defensive capabilities. She had been part of the superhero group known as The Blockbusters, a C-level team that had achieved some notoriety as good crimefighters.

Jen stood up, towering over both Patsy and Amber with her gamma-irradiated condition. Patsy scrambled to her feet and tried to smile brightly. Jen’s smile came off as warmer and welcoming. Amber held out her hand and Jen and Patsy both shook it in turn. Jen gestured to the seat opposite where Patsy and she had been sitting.

“Please, Ms. Guttierez,” Jen said. “have a seat. Can we get you anything? Coffee? Water?”

“No,” Amber said. “I’m fine. You can call me Amber.”

Jen and Patsy sat back down in their seats. “Thank you for coming, Amber,” Jen said. “This means a lot to us.”

“I’m not sure how much I can help,” Amber said. “I just don’t know.” She looked away and down and Patsy could not help but feel for the woman. She knew something but was afraid to talk. If she did not talk, then the case was weaker for it.

“That’s ok,” Jen said. “We’re not about to make you do anything you don’t want to. That’s what we’re trying to stop.”

Amber looked at her helplessly. “I signed a paper,” she said. “My hands are tied.”

“There are ways around that,” Jen said. “We can help protect you. I know, why don’t we tell you what we have so far? That way you can see where you stand and with whom.”

“Ok,” Amber said softly and nodded, a little hesitant.

There was a pause and then Jen nudged Patsy and she blinked. “Oh,” Patsy said. “Right. It’s nice to finally meet you, Amber. My name is Patsy Walker.”

“The Patsy Walker?” Amber asked. “I’ve read all of your comics.”

“Yeah, that’s me,” Patsy said, trying not to show her annoyance. “Nowadays I work as an investigator.”

“And you’d be working on this case?” Amber asked.

“I already have been,” Patsy said. “Yours is not the only story we’ve gotten wind of. I have interviewed many young women with situations similar to yours. I can’t exactly name names but what we are seeing is a pattern of behavior. The superhero (and I use hero with extreme quotes here) known as Hardliner has exhibited a lot of inappropriate behavior. He has been aggressively sexual with over a dozen different superheroines and probably more. He might even have done the same to civilians.”

“I’m not the only one?” Amber asked, tears starting to form in her eyes.

“You’re not alone,” Jen said. “We’re here to tell you that if you choose to move forward with us, then you will have company. He did this to other girls and that will not stand.”

“Are you telling me that he hurt other girls? That maybe if I had done something, he would have stopped?” Amber asked.

“He would not have stopped, Amber,” Jen said. “Guys like that do not stop until they are stopped.”

“How can I do that?” Amber asked.

“How can *we* do that?” Jen said, correcting her gently. “We do it by standing together. We do it by adding your story to all of the other stories we have.” She held out a box of tissues.

“Alright,” Amber said, dabbing the tears away. “I’ll tell my story.”

Patsy reached out and turned on her recorder and gave Jen a nod. “Whenever you’re ready, Amber,” Jen said.

(Marvel Comics was suggested by my friend Liz on Twitter)

Clear Skies – A Breaking Bad Story

April 3, 2020

Jane Margolis looked out at the sunset and took a drag from her cigarette and then blew it into the wind. She watched the smoke disappear and just let the moment be. She stretched and put out the butt in the ashtray on the railing. She was wearing a short-sleeved shirt and the breeze momentarily made her clutch her arms. She looked down and saw once again that her track marks had healed now too. That made her smile a bit. She looked over at Detective Knight.

“I’m sorry,” Jane said. “What was the question again?”

“We’re still looking for your ex-tenant,” the Detective said. “The one who was a drug dealer. Do you remember his name yet?”

“You know what,” Jane said. “I really don’t.”

“Look, Ms. Margolis,” the Detective said. “I know that you went through a lot. You OD’d. You almost died. This guy put that shit in your hands, he nearly killed you. He’s nothing but a drug dealer.” He was obviously losing patience and Jane did not really blame him. Of course, she did not really blame anyone anymore. She was at peace.

“Detective, I chose to do heroin,” Jane said. “It was not his fault. Sure he supplied it but I made the choice. I would have made the same choice no matter who was offering. I was sick.”

“Look,” the Detective said. “This guy is out there. He’s putting drugs in the hands of people. He’s a scumbag.”

“I was going to move to New Zealand with that ‘scumbag’,” Jane said. “He was a good guy. He was better than all of that. I think he’s going to be alright eventually. I think he’s going to break free.”

“That’s really sweet and all but I’m concerned with closing off drug sources,” the Detective said.

“And I’m interested in not ratting out somebody I used to fuck,” Jane said. “I’m interested in the beauty of the universe and the spirit of creativity. I’m not interested in what you’re interested in.”

“We didn’t arrest you, Ms. Margolis,” the Detective said. “We did you a favor.”

“You didn’t arrest me because I went to the hospital,” Jane said. “You didn’t arrest me because you didn’t have anything on me. There’s no possession when it’s in my veins.”

“That’s not necessarily true, Ms. Margolis,” the Detective said. “We did you a favor.”

Jane laughed. “New Mexico has a Good Samaritan law,” she said. “It protects the person who overdosed from prosecution if somebody seeks medical assistance. I don’t know who called the ambulance but they saved me.”

“Do you think it was the guy who called?” the Detective asked. “Is that why you’re protecting him?”

“I don’t think it was him,” Jane said. “We were both lying in bed totally gone on some good, good shit. I don’t think he was even conscious. I’m surprised he didn’t overdose too.”

“What do you think happened?” the Detective asked.

“I think the universe aligned so I could finally get my shit back together,” Jane said. “I think whoever took him away, did us both a favor. He and I were toxic together. We loved each other but we did not mix. I never want to see him again and yet I do but I can’t.”

“Ms. Margolis, were you threatened?” the Detective asked. “Is that what’s happening? We can protect you.”

Walt’s face flashed before Jane’s eyes but she shook the image away. An image of Jesse slipped into her mind and she pushed that away too as if the Detective could possibly see them too. “I’m fine,” Jane said. “I’ve moved all the way out here and away from all of the bullshit. I just want to focus on my art. I want to move on.”

“Are you sure that’s what you want?” the Detective asked.

“I’m more than sure,” Jane said. “I’ve answered your questions. Please leave.”

“Once again, Ms. Margolis, if you think of anything, don’t hesitate to call,” the Detective said.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Jane said and then she turned to look back over the railing and lit another cigarette. She really needed to quit this too but one day at a time.

(Breaking Bad was suggested by my friend Steve on Twitter. This is the first thing that came to mind.)

Media Update 4/2/20

April 2, 2020


The Hunt

This was obviously a very controversial movie even before it came out because its release was delayed due to one of the summer mass shootings. Probably because it is another take on that old chestnut, The Most Dangerous Game. Also, there is a crapload of guns in it. The premise, as far as the trailer is concerned, is liberal elites hunting MAGA folks. However, there is more to it than that. Here is a story where everybody kind of sucks and we get to see how all of these viewpoints get twisted by rhetoric and the noise in the signal. I have to give a shout out to Reed Birney (and not just because I’ve talked to him and he’s friends with my mother) who joins <> as the best stereotypical annoying liberals. Hillary Swank plays a very good self-important neoliberal. The rest of the speaking parts are mostly given to the conservatives. I really liked Ethan Suplee as a vlogger who is constantly trying to “takedown” the libs through conspiracy theories. Wayne Duvall is a great older ex-military guy, far far from his fit days. Of course, as you may hear elsewhere, Betty Gilpin is the real star here as she gets most of the lines and is a no-nonsense special forces type. There is a twist and I do not want to spoil it. I definitely recommend this as there is a lot of good fun with violence and funny dialogue.


Tiger King

A lot of people have heard of this one. This is a short docuseries only on Netflix which chronicles the crazy battles between Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin. The two are both keepers of tigers in the United States. They go about it in different ways but they are both equally crazy. The documentary also covers Antle, a weird leader of a tiger and sex cult (the tigers and sex stay separate, barely). There’s also Joe <>, a wealthy and eccentric millionaire who comes in to try and take control of the whole thing. Also, there’s a reality television director who is apparently a crack addict. Joe Exotic is a gay redneck with five husbands who he has a weird power dynamic with. The story has so many layers and so many threads that every episode just explodes with new scandals and weirdness. It is great schadenfreude. I recommend it.


Dirty Money

Another docuseries, this one focuses on finance-based crimes. Each episode centers around a group of perpetrators or a type of perpetrator. The only episode I have watched so far is The Kushners. This was of interest to me because I already knew that Jared Kushner was and still is one of the biggest slumlords in Maryland. The episode zeroes in on his father being investigated in New York, the Kushner’s dealings in New York, their dealings in the Baltimore area, and the foreign countries that Jared tried to get involved in bailing them out. I will have to watch more episodes but what I have seen so far was put together really well. I recommend it.

CHEPANG – Kyacha Pyakha

Lordi – Devil is a Loser

Ed Sheeran – Beautiful People

Mars Argo – Mrs. Stadler

Sofia Carson – Ins and Outs

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Assholes”
– I watched more Bob’s Burgers Season 10
– I watched more GDQ VODs
– I watched more Stumptown Season 1
– I watched more Prodigal Son Season 1
– I watched more Elementary Season 1
– I watched more Slasher Season2
– I watched more Ducktales Season 2
– I watched more Slasher Season 2
– I watched more Bojack Horseman Season 6
– I watched more She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season 3
– I watched more Black Lightning Season 3
– I watched more Penn and Teller’s Bullshit!
– I watched more Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath Season 2
– I watched more Rizzoli and Isles Season 2

Brooke Wayne – A DC Comics Elseworlds Story

April 2, 2020

Brooke Wayne would be the first to admit that she had not had the happiest life. Her therapist, Dr. Crane, would confirm that. Everybody knew her story. Her parents had been murdered in front of her outside of a theater in downtown Gotham. She had undergone significant trauma but all of her friends had not taken her seriously. Poor little rich girl. She had disappeared suddenly one day and left her trust behind. That was the part of the story that the public did not know. What came after had been a secret. She traveled the world and trained her body and mind to fight crime. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

When she returned to Gotham, she took up the life of a costumed vigilante. She styled her costume after a bat, a creature she had encountered in deepest Africa. She had looked to battle the criminal element but she ended up in a war with the Gotham City Police Department. Supervillains began to appear in Gotham. Brooke felt like she was losing more ground than she was gaining. Finally, she explained her double life to her therapist, Dr. Tabitha Crane. It was at this point that Dr. Crane revealed that her ex-husband was the supervillain known as The Scarecrow. Together, Brooke and Tabitha put together a plan.

Brooke contacted the GCPD and worked out a deal. The Bat would disappear, here reign of terror would evaporate like shadows in sunlight. In return, she proposed setting up a special task force directly under Commissioner James Gordon. Additionally, Brooke would donate part of her vast family fortune to the police force for better technology and resources. She was already starting numerous social welfare programs to help heal a city broken by crime and corruption. She had other people running those. People more qualified to determine where that money should go. She was bored, she wanted to channel her anger in a more positive way.

Amazingly, Commissioner Gordon had conferred with the Mayor and had agreed. Brooke was sent to the police academy to learn protocol and pay her dues. She was sent along with several other vigilantes who were offered a similar deal. Now, Wayne had been on the force for years and she was really good at it. She was working things out with her therapist and the squad was having real success cleaning up the city. Things were looking up with crime and corruption on the decline. This left Brooke’s squad to tackle the real threats, the real dangers to the community.

“Good morning, Captain Wayne,” Olivia said. “How are we doing today?”

“Your Royal Highness,” Brooke said. “So nice that you could grace us with your presence.”

“Queen by name and Queen by reputation,” Olivia said. “Thank you for continuing to get the good word out there.” She set her gear bag down and hung up her bow. She had a special dispensation to carry a compound bow instead of a rifle. She had crusaded as the Green Arrow, inspired by The Bat. Brooke had eventually used that reputation to convince Olivia to partner with Brooke to fund the new GCPD squad.

“Whatever Queen,” Brooke said with a laugh. “You’re late. We’re joining everybody in the briefing room after I stop by to see the new tech from Holt.”

“I’ve got all the tech I need right here,” Olivia said and patted her bow. “What’s on the docket today? Spill.”

“You could just wait until the briefing,” Brooke said. “Sage, Dodds, Grant, and Tyler are already in there.”

“You have never been fun,” Olivia said. “Not once.”

Brooke sighed. “Fine,” she said. “We’re following a lead. Harley contacted me last night with some juicy stuff.”

“That whackjob?” Olivia asked. “I don’t trust her.”

“She’s given us good intel before,” Brooke said. “You have to learn to trust people, Queen. I can give you the number of my therapist.”

“Don’t get me started,” Olivia said. “She used to date the Joker.”

“I used to date Catwoman,” Brooke said. “Nobody’s perfect. She’s reformed. Well, she’s mostly reformed now that she’s with Ivy.”

“Well,” Olivia said. “I do believe in redemption. I guess you do too.”

“I’m starting to,” Brooke said. “One night at a time.”

(DC Comics was suggested by my friend Liz on Twitter)

Agares Be Damned – A Hellboy Story

April 1, 2020

Agent Meredith Harper had been first on the scene, there had been reports of screaming and gunshots. Headquarters had gotten wind of the situation through FBI channels and had locked things down. Local authorities were advised that everything was fine and that it had all been a false alarm. The location was an art museum after hours so there was not much worry that the public would get in the way or figure things out. Merry had been ready to scout things out herself through the power of her third eye but there was a problem. One of the amulets tied to her wrist had started to glow and float. The various amulets acted as warning signals for different kinds of supernatural threats. The red one, the one that was currently going off, was for demons.

She was trying to look casual as she waited outside of the museum for backup. She leaned against a wall and started to review demon protocols on her phone. She was pretending to be bored but she was still a newbie and she felt like she was vibrating. She hoped backup would come soon. Due to her psychic powers, there was a chance that she would have been given a job at headquarters or a field office like other seers. Such talents were often used to guide agents where they were needed most to save the most lives. However, she lacked the gift of foresight and had begged to go into the field anyway. Now she had to prove herself.

A large truck turned onto the street and pulled to the stop right in front of the museum, parking next to a fire hydrant. Merry walked over to the truck from the passenger side. She heard the driver’s side door open and heavy boots hit the payment. A seven-foot-tall, red-skinned demon with broken horns and a long coat came around the front of the truck smoking a cigar. It was the legendary Hellboy and Merry found herself blushing and blinking in surprise before she regained her composure.

“Director!” she said, a bit too loud. “I didn’t expect to see you here.”

Director Hellboy grinned as he stomped out his cigar on the pavement. “Well, I was in the area so I thought I’d kick some ass,” he said. “What’s your name again newbie?”

Merry was momentarily thrown off by the use of the word again. “Agent Meredith Harper, sir,” she said and saluted.

Hellboy waved his hand as if trying to waft away smoke. “Don’t call me sir and don’t salute,” he said. “People call you Merry, right?”

Merry’s eyes went wide. “Uh yes,” she said, nearly saying ‘sir’ again. “How did you… we haven’t met, right?”

“Not until now,” Hellboy said. “Liz put together a dossier of every agent on staff with pictures. I need to know who’s putting their asses on the line out there while I’m stuck with paperwork. Well, while I stick Abe with the paperwork.”

“Agents Sherman and Sapien,” Merry said. “Wow.”

Hellboy let that go. He was kind of amused by the hero-worship and at least Merry was not staring at his horns like a lot of the other newbies through the years. “Well,” he said. “Let’s do this thing.”

“Without backup?” Merry asked, surprised.

“They’ll be here soon,” Hellboy said. “They’ll seal things off. In the meantime, let me show you how it’s done.”

“Sure,” Merry said, throwing away all of the protocol that had been drilled into her during training. She followed Hellboy as he started toward the museum entrance.

“By the way,” Hellboy said. “I love your amulets. Very old school. The tech always jams up.”

“Thank you!” Merry said. “I keep saying the same thing but nobody listens.” This drew a chuckle out of Hellboy.

They made their way into the museum. Merry drew her service weapon and Hellboy drew the legendary Good Samaritan heavy pistol. Merry pried her eyes away from it and focused in. They made their way through the museum until they reached the main hall. The double doors were closed but Merry could smell the iron smell of blood coming from the room.

“I smell it too,” Hellboy growled. “This is it. You ready?”

Merry nodded although she was not entirely sure she meant it. However, she was side by side with a legend and how was she supposed to say no? Everything would be fine. While all of that was going through her head, Hellboy slammed his rocky right fist into the double doors, knocking them both off of their hinges. They moved into the room and Merry saw dead bodies everywhere and the blood she could practically taste as the smell filled her senses had painted the room. An empty frame for a painting sat on an easel in the middle of the room. In front of that was a gray-skinned male demon who growled as they approached.

“Of course,” the demon said. “My traitor cousin shows his face.”

Hellboy looked annoyed. “Cousin?” Hellboy asked. “If you were on my family tree then you fell off and rotted.”

“There are many of us, traitor,” the demon said. “My name is Agares, Duke of Hell also known as The Want of Man.”

“All I want from you,” Hellboy said. “is to go back where you came from.”

“My too-trusting followers released me from that painting where I was trapped by Merlin,” Agares said. “I won’t be going back there.”

“Then to Hell it is,” Hellboy said and leveled the Good Samaritan at the demon’s head. Merry followed suit and aimed her weapon.

“Are you sure you want to do that?” Agares asked and waved his hands.

Hellboy seemed to be reacting to something that Merry could not sense. She reached out and touched the Director’s arm and opened her third eye. She watched as out of the shadows, an old man and a gaunt man in a suit stepped out of the shadows. Merry recognized them from their portraits hanging back at headquarters.

“I know how tired you are, my son,” Trevor Broom said. “It’s time to finally rest.”

“We can take over from here,” Thomas Manning said. “We know you just want to go back to the field. We can take charge again.”

A single tear slid down Hellboy’s cheek. Merry could see that he was buying the illusion. Hellboy started to lower his weapon. She had to act. She activated her third eye again and shoved her own vision into Hellboy. She wanted to show him that he was being tricked.

“There’s nobody there, sir!” she shouted.

In an instant, Hellboy’s vision cleared and he brought Good Samaritan up again. Merry joined him in shooting at Agares whose eyes went wide. He vanished. They waited for several tense moments and Agares did not reappear.

“I told you not to call me ‘sir’,” Hellboy said after a bit.


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