Doctor Who Review: Under the Lake

Ohhhhmygod, y’all! That was much more intense than I expected! A streamlined plot AND an awesome deaf character AND an underwater setting AND a genuinely gripping cliffhanger all in one go?? I was pretty into “The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar,” as you know, but “Under the Lake” left more excited for next week than either of those.

Doctor Who Under the Lake promo pic

I’m just so, so happy that there’s a real plot here, not just bells and whistles. No bizarre left turn, just thickening. It’s a classic Who set-up, getting a bunch of characters into a confined space and then adding a sci-fi monster, but it’s a classic because it can really work if all those elements are done properly.

The characters are engaging and differentiated — Cass, the leader of the team, is a smart and resourceful and awesome chick. She’s also deaf, with a personal sign-language interpreter, but while she does use her ability to lip-read for the plot, her real plot-significance is that she can figure out the answers to the story’s questions. She’s great. I did wonder why this future couldn’t provide some kind of assistive technology instead of an entire interpreter, which I’d think would be more expensive for the company, BUT I loved that they were close but not treated as a unit, and I loved that he was cool and brave in his own right. The other characters don’t get as much screen time, but the highest compliment I can give is that no one is “the annoying one” and I still remember all their faces and care what happens to each of them.

Doctor Who Under the Lake Cass

The other two elements of the set-up also work splendidly. I love an underwater setting and they had several good shots. The sci-fi monster(s), too, were just interesting. It’s a ghost — it’s making more ghosts — it’s trying to tell us something — it’s not trying to tell US anything… I loved the way the script teased the questions out one at a time, drawing the viewer into the plot, trying to predict the answers. There are still questions to answer in the next episode, and OH GOD the cliffhanger. YES we all know the Doctor isn’t going to die, but I MUST KNOW HOW THIS IS RESOLVED and I must know it NOW.

The negatives for this episode really relate to the series as a whole. For the second time this season, the only black character died before the intro. Seriously, twice in a row, people. Then, it seems Clara’s back in gung-ho “Let’s have an adventure!” mode. I really wish they’d make up their minds what kind of character she is. And while the Doctor’s prompt cards were funny, his characterization regarding interpersonal skills is inconsistent. The jokes happen, but rarely enough that I forget “insensitivity” is meant to be part of his character.

Doctor Who Under the Lake cards

Still, I’m very impressed by this episode’s success with a new villain. Sometimes they just seem made-up, like Colony Sarff, but this one actually commits to one concept and doesn’t answer its questions too soon. I can’t wait for next week’s conclusion, slightly changing the set-up but, I trust, delivering the promised resolution. And these two-part episodes were an awesome, awesome choice for the season!

Museum Visit: Bartow History Museum and Tellus Science Museum

Several weeks ago, I made a special trip to Cartersville, Georgia, to visit the Bartow History Museum and the Tellus Science Museum. (Cartersville also contains the very large Booth Western Art Museum, which unfortunately I couldn’t fit into my day trip, but some other time!)

Bartow History Museum

A local history museum for Bartow County. This was the initial impetus for the trip, because I was researching museums at work and saw the BHM was about to close its temporary exhibit “Fill ‘Er Up: The Story of the Service Station.” Apparently I’m interested in antique gas pumps, because I REALLY WANTED TO SEE THEM, so I squeaked in on the last day of the exhibit.

Bartow History Museum Fill 'Er Up

That exhibit was a bit smaller than I’d hoped, but I still enjoyed seeing the pumps and associated paraphernalia. The permanent exhibits made up for it, too. The idea or “thesis” of the permanent exhibits is to convey Bartow County’s sense of place and development up to the present day. Most of it is set up in — what do you call life-size dioramas? Are they still just “dioramas?” Either way, it’s cool. You can see the insides of Cherokee and settlers’ homes, Civil War-era living rooms, a 1940s-ish kitchen, and so on. Then they also have industry exhibits, so you can see the inside of a barber shop, textile production equipment, and things like that. The walkthrough finishes with a gallery of notable Bartow County people and a gallery of military uniforms worn by residents.

Bartow History Museum

It’s a high-quality local museum, with informative and easy-to-understand labels that supplement well-chosen items. I was particularly impressed by their balance of videos, text and objects, and the occasional tactile element. It makes for an engaging walkthrough, and there’s also an interactive room where kids can touch stuff. I’m looking forward to hearing what their next temporary exhibit will be!

Tellus Science Museum

About fifteen minutes down the road, I totally switched gears for the science museum. It’s reaaaally big, so I had to be more selective in my time dispensation. My main objective, though, was dinosaurs! Huuuuge dinosaurs. I looked at every single bone and read every word of text in the Fossil Gallery, and it was delightful. Again, a really good job of label-text writing, giving a sense of what the dinosaur was like and often some information about how the bones were found. The labels might mention the dinosaur’s diet or lifestyle, but usually included a note about how the bones indicated those things, so there are several layers of education there. My favorite was the underwater room, with a plesiosaur and huge fish and a giant turtle. The underwater ones are my favorite anyway, but they had it set up with blue light waving like it’s underwater, fish outlines on the walls, and it was super awesome!

Tellus Science Museum

This segment of the museum also contained plenty of small fossils with notes on how creatures become fossilized, and they also had some push-button interactive displays as well as a few Touch Me! objects. They also had a panel about how and why they use casts for display. (If I have a criticism, it’s that I wasn’t always sure what was real and what was a cast.)

I had a quick walk through their “Science in Motion” gallery, which contained various historical conveyances and some spaceflight stuff. It was impressive and sparkling, particularly the space stuff, but (despite my apparent interest in filling stations) there’s only so long I can look at a car, so I didn’t spend a lot of time there. I also had a walk through the Mineral Gallery. I didn’t spend much time on the rows and rows of minerals, but there were some interesting science displays, a small temporary gallery showing mega-expensive art made of gold and jewels, and a big Periodic Table wall that displayed items and pictures, not just chunks of stuff! The whole gallery was very kid-friendly.

Tellus Science Museum

Other attractions I didn’t visit include a solar-powered house, an interactive “My Big Backyard” room for kids, fossil dig/gem panning activities, and temporary exhibits within their main galleries. I did walk through the substantial gift shop, though, and watched a planetarium show! It’d been years and I was super excited about that one. It was a live-narrated tour of that night’s sky. It was fun, but mostly for kids — it looked like all the shows on the schedule were kid-targeted, and I just wish they had something more advanced as well. (Some of the others might be, of course. I only saw one show.)

Verdict: Would attend again!

Doctor Who Review: The Witch’s Familiar

I regret to inform you all that I really liked this episode, and therefore my curmudgeonly Classic Who fan status may be at risk, but heck… I really liked it.

Not to say it’s perfect. Some of it was a bit silly. I still think Colony Sarff is a pointless idea, and even though the story’s all about the most popular villains ever, they hinge the resolution on a random new aspect of these villains. The immortal sewer idea actually makes more sense than the Dalek asylum did, but unfortunately the Dalek asylum was just cool in a way that the immortal sewer is not, and either way the more often these “revelations” occur, the more bored I become. However. Most of the plot twists add interest and are exciting, instead of totally changing the episode and killing the investment. The twist, re-explaining how the Doctor gets back to Davros with a gun, worked well.

The Witch's Familiar Doctor DavrosMost importantly, the Doctor and Davros get to have the long conversation that was promised, the one I wanted with a setup like this. I could watch an entire episode of the Doctor and Davros talking to each other, and I didn’t think they’d actually give it to me, but they did. To keep it moving, they cut in a bit of the Doctor goofing off, and a subplot with Missy and Clara coming to save him. Those elements, believe it or not, actually fit with the themes of the episode. Friends inside enemies, enemies inside friends. Obvious, sometimes, but consistent focus is more important to me at this point than subtlety. Missy’s presence makes perfect sense in the episode, given that theme. The idea of putting Clara inside a Dalek — hmmmmmmmmmm — does too, and made for some really interesting stuff between her and Missy, and later the Doctor, about Dalek language.

And of course, the Doctor/Davros scenes. They’re funny, they’re touching, they’re thoughtful because (by the end) we don’t know who’s lying when. I believe the Doctor when he says it’s not about running, that he came because Davros was sick and he called. I believe them when they’re joking, and I think somewhere inside Davros, he really was happy for the Doctor, or he couldn’t have faked it so well. (I don’t believe for a second that the Doctor had a plan all along, though. We open the episode with a story about the Doctor’s split-second genius, so it’s obvious to me at least that Davros had the master plan, but as usual, the Doctor foiled it at the last possible moment!)

DoctorWho-TheWitchsFamiliar-Doctor-ClaraSo, a good episode that pleased me. Just a few last notes: First, why is Clara just doing everything Missy tells her to? And on that note, why did she crack and run in the last one? Even I respect her more than this. She’s a smooth talker and a stubborn narcissist when she wants something. In these two episodes she’s just been a damsel, really. Second, the resolution totally overlooks the fact that Daleks have said the word “mercy” on numerous other occasions, but okay, whatever. And third, I dig those sonic shades. ;)

Doctor Who Review: The Magician’s Apprentice

When doing weekly reviews, it’s easy to fall into a “the show is only as good as its last episode” mentality. In this case, “The Magician’s Apprentice” is a pretty good episode, but I want to hold off on mega-excitement and see where the season is going.

They bring out all the stops for this one, and it feels more like a typical finale than premiere. The mega-villains, Missy and Davros/the Daleks, show up right away, and it ends on a cliffhanger. I like this choice, because after the confused season eight, they need to signal some direction. From the episode titles it looks like all of them will come in pairs, which is great — I’ve been arguing for longer episodes for ages.

The plot is good. If you’ve ever had any contact with organized philosophy, you’ve been led through the central setup of Doctor-Who-Episode-9-01-The-Magician-s-Apprentice-Promo-Pics-doctor-whothe episode:

  • “Is it ever right to kill a child?”
  • “Of course not!”
  • “Um…”

Or its variant, in which the child is drowning, and you have the ability to save it. Everyone agrees its a moral requirement to save a child if it’s possible to do so… But what if it’s Baby Hitler?

The Doctor has chosen not to kill Hitler before, by default. This time, he’s presented with the child Davros, who is about to die, but can be saved. His choice has repercussions, and he later decides to change that choice. The title “The Magician’s Apprentice” signals one option, but we have yet to see if the Doctor will think of that, or be able to carry it through if he does. Plus, we’ve got the return of Skaro… Maybe we’ll FINALLY get back to the “hunt” for Gallifrey?

I also appreciate the nod to Classic Who’s treatment of the same question. I’m a sucker for old clips, although I also think it could’ve been more subtle, and I’m not sure why Davros has old Doctor Who clips laying around when no one in-universe was recording, but whatever.

The characters are acceptable, bordering on good. I appreciate that Davros isn’t stark raving mad. He’s always been a bit unhinged, but he has a grudge here, and he wants the Doctor to know it. The Doctor, for his part, is stuck in an impossible situation where he’s made a bad choice that he can’t own. The choice to run away is in character for him, at least in the past nine seasons, but not a choice he can make and be proud of and carry on. He makes it, feels the guilt, and then desperately tries to come up with what would’ve been the right choice, when sometimes you just have to understand that there will never be a right choice. Peter Capaldi is, as always, brilliant.The Magician's Apprentice Missy

I don’t know yet about Missy. I really hate to see the Master turned into yet another Sexy Umbridge, and I hate that he couldn’t be sexual until he became female, but I’m also fine with having a sexual Mistress and one who, although crazier than ever, seems to have a certain clarity and acceptance of her fixation on the Doctor and how (paradoxically) it’s not a sexual one. Altogether she’s a strong presence and she had some great lines. “Death is for other people” indeed. I think I’d be happy to see her in every episode.

I still don’t care about Clara. Declared myself done last season, and meant it. But I’ll give her this — she realized the Doctor knew Missy was still alive, and that was clever.

The things that irritate me about the show are still irritating me. Clara, for instance. The whole tone and structure of the show is too flash for my taste, and Moffat has no concept of subtlety in dialogue. The snake minion is utterly random and have nothing to do with anything. One assumes it’s supposed to conceal the plot for a few extra seconds, but we hear Davros’s name in the first few minutes of the show, it’s not as if that needs to be a secret. It’s just an extra moving part in the episode when we could’ve used that time to develop themes more deeply.

Still. Within the confines of the show we have, this is a worthwhile episode. I went in not at all excited for the season, but this episode has improved my hopes.

#LazyLambs Book Club: Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

This time around, Lazy Lambs Book Club decided to take a break from the Christopher Moore books we’d chosen before and read Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. Here’s the description:

Fried Green Tomatoes coverFolksy and fresh, endearing and affecting, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is the now-classic novel of two women in the 1980s; of gray-headed Mrs. Threadgoode telling her life story to Evelyn, who is in the sad slump of middle age. The tale she tells is also of two women–of the irrepressibly daredevilish tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth–who back in the thirties ran a little place in Whistle Stop, Alabama, a Southern kind of Cafe Wobegon offering good barbecue and good coffee and all kinds of love and laughter, even an occasional murder. And as the past unfolds, the present–for Evelyn and for us–will never be quite the same again…

I particularly enjoyed this book because Whistle Stop is set just outside Birmingham, Alabama, and that’s where I’m from! I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel set here before. In Alabama, once or twice, but not this kind of familiarity with the places and names I know. This is probably the only novel in the world that mentions Vinegar Bend in south Alabama, where my grandparents are from. And it’s deeper than place names — Fannie Flagg conveys all the lovely Southern things, the food and the company and the way some folks really would embrace Idgie and Ruth’s relationship and never say a thing about it. At the same time, she shows all the awful things, the overt racism and sexism and violence. That mention of Vinegar Bend comes when a vagrant man is remembering the worst job he ever had, in a turpentine farm there… And my great-grandfather was a rich turpentine man in Vinegar Bend. Probably not many owners in a town the size of a dinner plate, although I can’t be sure. Wince.

So, I think this is kind of an important novel, and it’s important that it was written by a native Southerner. Someone who wasn’t from around here wouldn’t be able to tell the good with the bad like that. The Southern-ness comes through in the writing, too. The style of speaking, and the way the narrative moves around in space and time. With that in mind, I’m surprised so many people on the internet call it “fluff” or “for those mindless days” or “chick-lit.” I didn’t see it that way at all, and I wonder if it’s because the book is mainly about women, or because it’s set in Alabama, or both.

Those thoughts, then, are the answer to my discussion-question contribution: What do you think of Fried Green Tomatoes’ sense of place? Open-ended for whatever thoughts you happen to have on the subject. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but feel free to bring that in as well, and visit Diana and Allison for more book-club posts.

Sunday Post – Linky Linky

I’m at Write On Sisters today, talking about queer character development! Hope you’ll check it out, and I highly recommend their blog for insightful writing advice.

51V5KaamhFL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_This week on the blog, I think I’ll post a bit about Charity and Sylvia. I mentioned them in the Write On Sisters post, they were a lesbian couple in the early 1800s. I may not have time, but I’d like to. Then #LazyLambs Book Club will be discussing Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe on Saturday. After that, I’ve realized Doctor Who starts this Saturday, so I’m thinking Sunday Posts may be Doctor Who reviews for a bit… They’ll be labelled as reviews, but as with last season, they’ll be less-structured reactions rather than full-fledged reviews. I’m not super excited about this season, to be honest, but I can’t help it, I know I’m gonna want to talk about it.

Also, I mentioned it last Sunday, but don’t forget to join the Go Play! challenge at Nerd in the Brain! It’s sort of like a summer reading program, but in the fall, and instead of being about reading it’s about going out and having fun. It’s been a lovely encouragement to go out and do stuff in my new town. :)

A Controversial Theory About Women in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or, “I Love Hope Van Dyne”

If you recall from the Ant-Man post…

There’s also the previously-mentioned Hope Van Dyne, who’s basically “Pepper Potts with a grudge and superpowers,” not that I’m complaining, but more about her in a later post.

I promised, and now I shall deliver! This is a kind of thematic “part two” to that Ant-Man discussion linked above, a train of thought spawned by my slight obsession with the latest Marvel movie woman, Hope Van Dyne. The idea that we need more female characters shouldn’t be new to you. What I want to do here is take a brief look at MCU women over time, and look at the trajectory we’re on. I’ll argue that it’s a good one.

Tony and PepperThe Marvel Cinematic Universe began by using a straightforward girlfriend model. You’ve got your male superhero and (at minimum) two other characters in relation to him: A villain and a love interest. Pepper Potts in the first two Iron Man movies (2008 and 2010), then Jane Foster and Peggy Carter in 2011. All three are awesome characters, and cool girlfriends, but girlfriends all the same. In these movies they’re entirely subordinate, storywise, to the male superhero.

A little twist comes in 2012’s Avengers, where we achieve full use of Black Widow. Previously, she’d been a fanservice-y side note in Iron Man 2, but now she’s a full team member and a vital one. In 2013 we only had Pepper’s violent moment in Iron Man 3 (questionably awesome, but unquestionably positioning her in a love triangle between the hero and villain), and in Thor: The Dark World the unfortunately-obvious attempt to make Jane relevant to the plot without much success. But then, 2014! The year of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, with its awesome background-female-character representation and positioning of Black Widow as full partner in the story. In the same year Gamora was a full member of the Guardians of the Galaxy team, and in neither of those cases did the female character feel any need to smooch the male protagonist.

Black WidowThat brings us to this year, with the controversial portrayal of Black Widow in Age of Ultron. I personally did not like her character development at all, in fact I resent it deeply, but I also believe she’s a coherent character with motivations that make sense as told. Black Widow problems are scarcity problems. She’s the most prominent female character in the MCU, but she can’t be everything to everyone. If we had more than one woman on the Avengers team, those women could be portrayed in several different ways, and no one character would have to represent “what women want” or “what women are like.”

The good news is, Marvel is slowly adding more female characters. Scarlet Witch is now in the Avengers line-up, and Captain Marvel is coming. And Marvel’s TV shows shouldn’t be ignored here, either. Agents of SHIELD started late 2013 and, despite its shaky opening, developed into an awesome show that presents many and varied women, heroes and villains, sexual and non, violent and pacifist, of various ethnicities. (Various ethnicities all around in the second season, actually, and a decent disability storyline.) The acclaimed Agent Carter of early 2015 is also a crucial development, because it is amazing and basically the entire thing is about sexism.

What I see here is a process of testing the waters. There are some missteps, but we’re seeing Marvel’s female characters get increasingly more prominent. They’re deriving their story worth from story relevance, instead of from how attractive a male superhero may find them. The Winter Soldier was an experiment in female-character centrality, for instance. As a miniseries-length TV production, Agent Carter was a low-stakes dry run of a story with a full-fledged female lead. Both were wildly successful.

Peggy Carter

It’s all well and good to make demands. We want more women! Diverse women! Realistic women! And we have to keep shouting for those things until we get them. But the movie industry is not going to change overnight. It’s too big, too unwieldy, too afraid of innovation to become a haven of diversity in the blink of an eye. That can be used as an excuse not to change at all, certainly, but it’s still true. If we’re going to see better diversity in mainstream movies, not just indie ones, it takes small steps and small experiments. It has to be shown that the world won’t end if a woman leads a superhero movie. Really, I applaud Marvel for fully committing to these experiments, instead of half-assing them and then saying “See, nobody wants to watch movies about women!”

Each female character is important to me. I’m pleased when they’re well-done and bitter when I feel I’m badly represented. I’m not going to make excuses for a movie’s mistakes just because “they’re trying.” But I still feel the trying is vital, and that trajectory is important. Which, finally, brings me to Hope Van Dyne.


She was already awesome. A vital player with knowledge and skills, but she’s not being allowed to use those skills, and she’s angry and bitter about it. How often does a woman get to feel that onscreen, and have it be presented as entirely valid? Not often. But even though she’s angry, that doesn’t impair her ability to function. She has strong emotions and that’s not bad, but she can put them aside to work toward a goal that matters to her. There is eventually a smooch — and I resent it all the more because it’s totally irrelevant to every other moment in the movie — but in general, Ant-Man gets no special treatment from her. She’s part of planning the heist, not there as a love interest.

The real joy is in the stinger, though. The after-the-credits scene that changes the whole movie, because you suddenly realize we’ve been watching two origin stories, not one. That Hope not only could be a superhero, she goddamn will be at the first opportunity. We’ve already seen that she’s just as skilled as Ant-Man, if not more, so when she gives us that smile, we know what’s gonna happen. But we didn’t expect it, because the movie’s called Ant-Man. It turns audiences’ expectations on their heads, and it’s a moment of sheer glory.

Hope Van Dyne

Well, that’s what I think, anyway. ;)

Ms. Marvel #18 Review

Hannah G:

Ms. Marvel day!

Originally posted on Sourcerer:

Ms. Marvel #18 cover

This is one of those covers that has nothing whatsoever to do with the story inside. Just ignore it. Spoilers below, as always.

At the end of the last issue, the Ms. Marvel/Captain Marvel teamup had successfully located Kamala’s brother Aamir, who had been kidnapped by Kamala’s evil Inhuman ex Kamran. But they were too late to stop Kamran from immersing Aamir in mist in an effort to transform him into an Inhuman too.

It worked… Sort of. Aamir wakes up with superpowers, but the transformation wasn’t typical, and it seems to have made him sick. Kamran doesn’t care, and starts his speech about ruling the galaxy, but Aamir’s having none of it…

Ms. Marvel #18 Aamir

Aamir has never been so cool. He gives Kamran a spectacular piece of his mind — Aamir never wanted superpowers, he’s perfectly happy the way he is no matter what anybody thinks of it. And he will not…

View original 203 more words

Bonus Sunday Post – Decatur Book Festival!

I wouldn’t normally post twice on the same day, but this is a quick one! A bit of a ramble, a kind of mini-haul, and a bit of #LazyLambs chitchat. I started off doing this as a Facebook post, but it was suuuuper long and there are blog-related things in it, sooo… Let’s talk about books!

I just got in from the Decatur Book Festival in Atlanta, a yearly event with booths and food and author signings and other lovely things. (As a “fair or street festival,” it also qualifies as a challenge for Nerd in the Brain’s autumn “Go Play!” event!)


Honestly, convincing myself to go to things is a trial sometimes, even when I know I want to go. But I had a lovely, lovely time from start to finish. I was all ready to bail if the projected storms actually showed up, but it was a nice cool(ish) day instead, and I had an excessively good time listening to my Artemis Fowl book on the way there and back. (I’ve recently started getting into audiobooks again. I adore Artemis Fowl and it’s one of the few works that’s BETTER as an audiobook adaptation. Highly recommended. I’m almost finished with book five, The Lost Colony, then I’m taking a short break to listen to a random find called Museum of Thieves, a middle grade book by Lian Tanner, I found in my library’s e-audio list. It’s about a museum and it’s read by Claudia Black, I’m taking the risk! Then finishing the last few Artemis Fowls. So I’m set for a bit. But if you have a favorite audiobook I’d love more recs.)

The festival, though. I’m getting distracted. I collected a lot of pamphlets! I actually heard about the festival because a friend told me it might be a good place to look into southern queer authors for a possible final school project. (Yes, the final project is two years away, yes, I’m already working on it.) I picked up pamphlets for some local museums with book-related exhibits or overall themes, so we’re calling that a successful business trip! I also signed up for performing-arts and museum newsletters, because I want to know if cool stuff’s happening that I can see while I’m in Georgia. And also just grabbed pamphlets for interesting books I might want to read.

IMG_20150906_195401I behaved myself and didn’t buy EVERY SINGLE book that looked interesting. I came away with just two, actually, and both are special and signed. The first was an absolute surprise. Blue Delliquanti from O Human Star was there! O Human Star is an online queer space opera webcomic and those are ALL MY FAVORITE THINGS. I haven’t gotten far into the comic, but I’m really enjoying it, so I went ahead and bought her new printed Volume 1. Signed and pretty and shelf-worthy and I’m much more likely to actually read and finish it this way, so I’m excited, and I’ll probably review it here afterward.

The main event/author I wanted to see AHEAD of time was Christopher Moore, because of #LazyLambs! (For new folks: #LazyLambs is an informal book group founded at the beginning of the year to read Moore’s Lamband we’ve read several of his books. Right now we’re actually reading Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg, it’s not exclusively a Moore book club. But it started that way. Read along with us on Twitter!)

Moore gave his talk in a church sanctuary that hosted several authors this week. The irony was lost on no one — Lamb is a retelling of Jesus’ life “with the good bits left in,” and even though this particular talk wasn’t about Lamb but rather Moore’s new release, it was still the most profanity-laden “sermon” I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending. I continue to wonder whether this church actually knew anything about what was going on.


He talked about getting older — he’s 58 — and being not quite at death’s door, but certainly on “death’s porch,” and how that informed his new book Secondhand Souls. I wish the Q&A had been longer, because that was even better — He talked about his three years of research for Lamb, and I would’ve loved major detail on that, for instance. Someone else asked “Have you received any backlash…” and we all expected him to finish “from Christians” but he actually said “…from Shakespeare experts?” One of the Moore books I haven’t read yet is Fool, which is a Shakespeare satire sort of thing. Moore was obviously surprised and expecting the Christians thing too, but he said no, no Shakespeare historian had ever contacted him — but actors really love the book! I’m bumping it toward the top of my TBR, or maybe we’ll get to it in #LazyLambs here in a few months.

As you can tell from the church picture, we were in the back. This was so we could be in the front of the signing line outside, which was a good decision. It was long, my friends, very long. But he was cheery and personable with each person and I came away with a beautiful signed Bible-lookalike special edition of Lamb for my very own. It was a good day. :D


Sunday Post – Women in Museums

I’ve promised you a post about Marvel movie women, and it’s coming! But first, an aside in regard to women not from comic books: Women in my chosen nonprofit area, the museum field.

One of my classes this semester is about museum administration. It sounds boring, it’s not, but either way bear with me for a moment! I’d like to talk about the large number of women working in museums. Feel free to skim the numbers, major points are in bold.

Leadership Matters coverThere are a surprising number of books about museum administration, and we’re churning through a pile of them. The first we’ve finished entirely is Leadership Matters by Ackerson and Baldwin. I’d like to draw your attention to a study cited in the introduction, the American Alliance of Museums’ 2012 National Comparative Museum Salary Study, which covered four of the AAM’s six regions. The survey showed that women largely outnumber men in full-time museum positions, and somewhat outnumber them in CEO and VP positions. Two-thirds of museum professionals in the sample were women.

However, 82% of the museums surveyed had operating budgets under $3 million. Why is that significant? The book goes on to quote a passage from this 2013 article by Laura Otten:

… there is an inverse relationship between the percentages of women in CEO positions at these nonprofits the larger the organizational budget gets.  (Only 21% of women in nonprofits with budgets over $25 million are women.)  In organizations with budgets between $1 million and $7 million, the majority (52%) of the CEOs are women; and in those organizations with budgets under $1 million, 64% of the CEOs are women.

There are waaaay more women in small, local museums. The bigger and more professionalized the museum, the fewer female paid staff and CEOs.

Equal Pay Day 2012

Equal Pay Day 2012

But wait, there’s more. Back to the AAM salary survey… Women in the field make about $0.78 to a man’s dollar, roughly the same as the last national average I saw. Beyond just women’s pay, though, the book says according to (uncited) “researchers and pundits” the predominance of women in the field is probably why the field is underfunded and disrespected.

The rest of the book consists of interviews with prominent or efficacious museum-field leaders. One director, Melissa Chiu, notes that many baby-boomer senior officers are now leaving the field, and their places are being taken by higher percentages of women, presumably leveling those numbers out somewhat. But to her, this is a subtle indication that “job value is diminished” in the museum field, that women are only starting to hold these positions because those titles are seen as less valuable than before. 

Two separate allegations. One, that the museum field is neglected because it’s mostly women. Two, that the museum field has declined in respect, and because of that, women can get high-level jobs more easily than before.

Whether either of these statements is really true, I don’t know, but they say something about how women are seen. How they’re condescended to and boxed in by the ever-present cultural belief that women’s work is less valuable.

I don’t have a lot of information yet, just a few references in a book and an article, but this situation bears watching. I am irritated.