I PASSED :D

Apr. 16th, 2014 11:59 pm
starlady: (king)
[personal profile] starlady
As of about 12 hours and 15 minutes ago, I'm ABD.

It went great, and I had a great time. Thanks to everyone who's provided support this semester--I couldn't have done it without you, truly.

Achievement unlocked: ABD

Apr. 16th, 2014 11:57 pm
ahorbinski: kanji (kanji)
[personal profile] ahorbinski
I passed my qualifying exam this morning. I couldn't be happier. It went great, and I had a great time. With many thanks to my examiners, and to everyone who's provided support this semester--moral, caloric, emotional, etc, etc.

Daily Happiness

Apr. 16th, 2014 11:40 pm
torachan: brandon flowers of the killers with the text "some beautiful boy to save you" (some beautiful boy to save you)
[personal profile] torachan
1. I took my bike up to the repair shop this morning and got the tire fixed. Turned out to be a thorn! Grr. Stupid nature.

2. I took my mom computer shopping today and got her new computer mostly set up. I need to go back again tomorrow, though, because one program was going to take an hour to download and I just didn't want to sit around that long waiting. :p I've never even used Windows 8 myself before and I'm still not sure what I think of it. If it were my own computer, I'd have more time to play around with it and try to customise it and get it how I wanted, but for her I'm just trying to get as much of the junk out of the way so she can use the few programs she uses (basically just Firefox and WordPerfect).

3. Since I have to go over to my mom's tomorrow after work, I think I'll make tomorrow my short day. (Since I went in for three hours on Sunday, I need to take three hours off somewhere else. I could take an hour here and there from several days, but it is nice to only work five hours!)

4. My mom gave me an easter basket with See's candy. :D

5. There is a baby goat edition of 2048.

6. I feel like I got a lot done today! The bike, the computer, plus vacuuming and some manga stuff.

Wednesday Reading

Apr. 16th, 2014 08:57 pm
torachan: an avatar of me done scott pilgrim style (scott pilgrim style me)
[personal profile] torachan
Not used to having Wednesdays off, so I keep thinking it's Friday or something, but I did see everyone's reading posts, so that reminded me!

What are you currently reading?
I'm currently doing a reread of Scott Pilgrim. It's been a long time since I read it, so I'd forgotten a lot. Also apparently while I'm not usually a headcanon sort of person, when I do have a headcanon, it's very persistent, because despite having seen the movie with Kieran Culkin as Wallace, when I read the comic I'm still convinced Wallace is Asian. When I first read it, I just assumed he was Asian, and then the movie came out and I was like, okay, that's interesting casting, but apparently it had no effect on how I see the character when reading the comic.

What did you recently finish reading?
Well, I finished reading Mayoke no Darling, which was cute, but did not make me want to get out and start reading BL on a regular basis again.

What do you think you'll read next?
I'm only about halfway through Scott Pilgrim, so I imagine I'll be reading that for a bit longer and then who knows!

Dog bites man

Apr. 17th, 2014 12:21 am
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Woman writes an article about a lousy cover, gets rape threats.

On an issue raised in the original article, why are so many comic book artists so terrible at drawing human breasts? Don't we live in a research-friendly environment these days, what with the interwebs?

Wednesday reading

Apr. 16th, 2014 08:02 pm
cofax7: No such thing as too many books (Too Many Books -- Ropo)
[personal profile] cofax7
Hey, it's Wednesday!

Recent reading: My internet was out over the weekend; I got a lot of reading done. Among which: Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison/Sarah Monette. Which is really rather sweet, even though it's a novel of political intrigue. Kind of hurt-comfort, although much of the hurt is offstage. I really enjoyed it, and didn't want it to end.

I also just the other day finished Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice, which I found ambitious and really interesting. I didn't have as much trouble tracking the POV as I expected, and I liked the way Leckie challenged our male-as-default gender problem through pronouns, language, and cultural behavior. I also liked the plot, which I found interesting, and I'm looking forward to the next one.

Oh, and I read Machines of Freedom, an X-Files novel by Amal Nurriyah. It's set after the 2nd movie, and it's about how Mulder and Scully (and their kids) (and Skinner, Doggett & Reyes) save the world from colonization. I rather enjoyed catching up with the old gang again.

Current reading: I'm on a reread of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I'm on jury duty this week, and it's kind of difficult to switch back-and-forth from the trial to Jonathan Strange fighting with Wellington in the Peninsula, though.



Next up: I'm not sure. Possibly Elizabeth Bear's Range of Ghosts; I read the first chapter on Amazon and thought it was interesting, and I haven't read any Bear since the original Hammered trilogy, some years ago.

~I sense the demon's name is Beth

Apr. 16th, 2014 04:26 pm
zarla: yanni yogi is tired (yannitired)
[personal profile] zarla
I'm back! I actually got back like yesterday but I was super tired so I didn't feel like typing for a million years, haha (this is a lie, last night I typed for a million years on my stupid ukagaka tutorial site that isn't even done or posted anywhere, shh). But I might as well get to it now!

Anyway, this time around I decided to take the train, cause why not! Also I saw some pictures of Joe Biden and thus thought about trains, and thought it might be a fun experiment. Also way cheaper than a plane ticket, so woo! However, it WAS like a sixteen hour train ride, which can be pretty rough, but it left in the afternoon and got there in the morning, so you can sleep through a good amount of it. Or at least some of it. I got some sleep, although it was pretty in-out restless sleep, but it was sleep! Next time I should bring a pillow and a blanket or something, I had to fold Kitty and a sweater up and use them as pillows instead.

The real convenient part is that each seat has an outlet next to it, which meant I could catch up on some gaming on the way without having to worry about my 3DS dying, haha. I ended up beating Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, Ghost Trick, and got to the first day in court in the second trial for Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies, so pretty productive! I'll talk a bit more about those in a second. Also the seats were very roomy! Lots of space for your legs, and they had a dining car and the food was good too. So really, it wasn't so bad at all! It actually went by surprisingly quickly I think. :O But it's not too hard for me to keep myself amused for long periods of time, haha. Unfortunately the train does move around enough to make drawing kind of hard though, so couldn't do too much of that really. But I enjoyed the train ride! If you've never tried it you should give it a go.

Anyway, I had a lot of fun over there! The days just flew by, it feels like I barely spent any time there at all. Like I got back home and it's like I didn't leave. :O I guess time flies when you're having fun, haha. |D I got to show Moro all my weird creepy artsy animated films which was a lot of fun, because I love seeing how people react. |D She managed to escaped watching Jan Svankmajer's Alice (SOMEDAY, MORO) but we did watch Fantastic Planet! That movie is so freaking weird. And Interstellar 5555, which was a bit more accessible. |D We also watched the Resident Evil movie which was fun. EXPERT SPECIAL EFFECTS
We watched Koyaanisqatsi as well last time, but she wasn't as into it as I am. |D I LOVE KOYAANISQATSI, I AM A BORING PERSON BUT IT'S SO HYPNOTIC

We also watched the new Smash Bros. video so I got to freak out like a nerd about BALLOON FIGHT STAGE (!!!!) AND ALL THE MEGAMAN STUFF AND OMG THE YELLOW DEVIL OMG YOU GUYS AAA AAAAAA. also GRENINJA WHAT, I NEVER SAW THAT COMING
SAKURAAIIIII
I am worried for Ness and Lucas, Ness not so much but poor Lucas. I HOPE THEY PULL ANOTHER OUT OF NOWHERE CHARACTER AND PUT IN KUMATORA OR DUSTER HOW AMAZING AND COOL WOULD THAT BE I WOULD LIKE HAVE A HEART ATTACK YOU GUYS
I was a teeny bit perturbed about them cutting Olimar's Pikmin down to three, but his new air recover move looks way better than the Pikmin chain, so it won't be so bad. Olimar is my main so I am super interested in seeing what they'll do with him! I hope they don't nerf him too bad. Maybe he'll be even stronger like Game and Watch was from Melee to Brawl, but eh. IDLE SPECULATION.
BALLOON FIIIIIGHT

BACK ON TOPIC A LOT OF FUN WAS HAD I got to show off my rapidtap skills as well, hehe. Moro was very impressed! WHO SAYS PLAYING NES TRACK AND FIELD A LOT AS A KID NEVER PAYS OFF heheheheh

Anyway, what else... oh right, game reviews! I'll break it up a bit.

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon! With a few spoilers )

And after that, I finished Ghost Trick! I'd picked it up a while back and just briefly started it, so it took me a bit to remember how to play when I picked it up again.

Ghost Trick, with spoilers! )

And finally, I started Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies! Which reminds me, I should finish the patched cases in AAI2 as well, but anyway! I haven't gotten very far in this one, just to the first day in court of the second case, but I'll say some stuff anyway WHY NOT

Don't spoil me for this one please! )

That's all I can think of for now!

(no subject)

Apr. 16th, 2014 07:54 pm
the_rck: figure perched in a tree with barren branches (Default)
[personal profile] the_rck
It warmed up a bit today, and most of the snow melted, but Rec & Ed canceled outdoor practices today. Fortunately, the coach of Cordelia's team anticipated that this might happen and reserved the gym at his neighborhood school for an hour. It's less time than the kids would usually get and a lot less space, but it's much better than nothing. The practice started an hour later than it would have had it been outside, so Scott and Cordelia had plenty of time for dinner.

Since Scott took Cordelia along to do the grocery shopping, he bought lots of ground turkey. We've mixed it with Alfredo sauce to put on pasta, and we've made meatloaf. I'm not sure what I'll do with the remaining package tomorrow. Cordelia would love more pasta, but I'm not enthusiastic about that (plus we're out of Alfredo sauce). I'll probably brown the meat, and we can make soft tacos. I can have Scott pick up lettuce on his way home tomorrow.

Scott has to be ready to go into work early tomorrow. I'm torn-- It's awful when he has to go in at three, but if he gets up at two, calls in and doesn't have to go, his alarm goes off again at five thirty which means a broken night for me. Of course, sometimes when he doesn't have to go in, the supervisor is nice and calls at eleven to tell him he doesn't have to come in. That can't be relied on, however.

Ingrid Michaelson, "Girls Chase Boys"

Apr. 16th, 2014 09:05 pm
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Posted by Emma Carmichael

by Emma Carmichael


Maybe you're like Bobby and you've been aware of this very catchy lead single off of Ingrid Michaelson's new album, Lights Out (released yesterday) for a couple months now, or maybe you're like me and you had no idea. Either way, close out your humpday con Ingrid (and Robert, if you need the refresher).

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You Are Not a Descendant

Apr. 16th, 2014 08:30 pm
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Posted by Laura Sook Duncombe

by Laura Sook Duncombe

“You don’t have to know what you’re looking for. You just have to start looking."

I'd been hearing this siren song from an attractive soccer mom from an Ancestry.com commercial throughout months of late-night TV, and anyway, I needed a reason to hole up in the local library: it was an unreasonably hot summer, and we didn’t have air conditioning. I gave in and charged the $299.40 “World Explorer Membership” to my VISA card. I would give up my couch potato habits to “meet my ancestors, learn their stories, and journey into the past.”

Like many recent grads, I was jobless and had a lot of time and energy on my hands at the time. I’d been through the requisite stages of grief about my job-hunt, and I was hovering just outside acceptance when an idea came to me: what if I have Famous Ancestors? I became obsessed with the idea of finding someone to look up to and lean on in times of stress. My plan was simple. First: find these Famous Ancestors. Then: get my mojo back and land my dream job. What could go wrong?

For several weeks, I spent three to six hours a day on Ancestry.com. Once I built my initial family tree, I waited on tenterhooks for the all-knowing green leaf to appear, signifying that there was some lead out there. Most often, it was an old census or something else that I already had, but occasionally I struck gold: a record that gave me a precious nugget of new information, like a parent’s name. Soon I'd developed an all-consuming lust for names. Each one felt like a fix in this new addiction, bringing me closer to my Famous Ancestors, the golden apples of my family tree. I skipped over trivial details like birthdays and marriage dates. All I wanted were the names.

One night I found something: a large boat icon on a tree that shared several family members with mine, meaning that someone in the family was a Mayflower descendant. My heart started racing. I struggled to remain calm, reminding myself that this person could be on a branch unconnected to my own, and I clicked up the tree hesitantly. I took my time. I double-checked names, trying to be ultra-careful; if I found what I’d been dreaming of, I wanted there to be no mistake that it was really mine.

Click by click, I watched the years reverse. I was getting closer and closer to the early 1600s, and finally, I found him: William Brewster, born 1566 in England, died 1644 in Plymouth, MA. Religious Elder of the colonists and passenger on the Mayflower. He was my 11th-great grandfather.

The lineage was clear. I couldn’t believe it: William Brewster, not just a passenger, but a leader. I bellowed for my husband and broke the good news. I showed him the steps I had taken, the lines I’d traced. His eyes lit up and he compared me to a beachcomber with a metal detector who’d turned up a treasure chest. Then I called my dad, who was overjoyed, and proud that this had come through his family.

For me, I was thrilled to have finally set out to do something, and done it. What else might I be able to do, armed with the knowledge of my impressive pedigree? I felt like a new job and a better apartment and everything else I’d ever wanted was imminently in my grasp.

I made my appointment at the Mayflower Society. I climbed the stairs to the second floor office and spoke to its sole inhabitant: a large, shoeless, polo-shirted man who looked annoyed that I’d interrupted his computer solitaire game.

“You brought your family tree?” he asked, reaching for it without looking at me. I handed it to him and stood with my heart in my throat as he perused it.

“This is wrong, right here. Eunice Meech. She’s not a part of the family line.”

“What do you mean?” I mumbled.

“You’ve got it all right down to here. William Meech and Hannah Freeman never had a daughter named Eunice. So you’re not connected to them. You’re not a descendant.” 

I wanted to burst into tears. Still, I clutched at some hope. I gestured to his file cabinets brimming with paper and overflowing bookshelves.

“Can I do some research? I just want to see if there’s any way…”

He cut me off. “There’s nothing you can do. Eunice Meech isn’t real. Where did you get your information, Ancestry.com?”

I froze.

“I should have known,” he said. “That stupid site has everyone believing things that aren’t true. You have to do real research, not that junk. I’m sorry but there’s nothing I can do for you.” He did not sound sorry. I slunk out, tail between my legs.

I called my dad, who was disappointed and a little embarrassed; he’d told people at work about it. Knowing I’d disappointed him was the worst part—in my search for my deceased family, I’d inadvertently hurt my living family. When I lamented the accuracy of Ancestry.com, my dad suggested that I call and speak to my relatives instead, an idea so crazy I decided to try it. .

Over the rest of the summer, I called my aunts and asked them about their childhoods. I begged them to send photos, tell stories, give me anything they could remember about parents, grandparents, and great grandparents.

I learned that my great-grandfather, Martin, loved the Pittsburgh Pirates and listened to the games on his transistor radio. My great-grandmother Vera told me about a trip she took to the Kentucky Derby. I discovered that my dad had Scottish blood on his side, and men in his family fought in both world wars. The stories and pictures that came pouring out of my relatives about our passionate, creative, headstrong crew illustrated our history in vibrant color, giving me a sense of my ancestors far beyond anything that could be brought to me by a green leaf.

I never found a famous ancestor. In fact I found exactly the opposite. I come from a line of mill workers, farmers, coal miners, and blacksmiths. But this was more than I’d expected. Could my ancestors working the fields in Ireland have ever dreamed of a daughter of theirs becoming a lawyer in America? And here I was, the first person in my family with a law degree. Instead of looking backwards for inspiration, I should have been looking forward, to the limitless horizon my ancestors chased. My ancestors did, in the end, give me my mojo back. They taught me to go after my desires with courage and aplomb, just like they did. Who knows: someday in the future, the famous ancestor could be me.

 

Laura Sook Duncombe is a part-time lawyer, part-time YA novelist, and full-time Christian feminist nerd. Greek epic poetry, Sherlock Holmes, and musical theater are a few of her favorite things. Her work can also be found on The Toast. 

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Posted by Jia Tolentino

by Jia Tolentino

The Paris Review has a little teaser up about perverbs, a term invented by Maxine Groffsky for the result of split-and-crossed proverbs. Harry Mathews makes terrific use of the exercise:

All roads lead to good intentions;
East is east and west is west and God disposes;
Time and tide in a storm.
All roads, sailor’s delight.
(Many are called, sailors take warning:
All roads wait for no man.)

All roads are soon parted.
East is east and west is west: twice shy.
Time and tide bury their dead.
A rolling stone, sailor’s delight.
“Any port”—sailor take warning:
All roads are another man’s poison.

I love this. [Paris Review]

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Posted by Emily Richmond

by Emily Richmond


Sixty-five mangos, 12 coconuts, and three rubber-banded baggies of coffee slide across the deck in two large plastic bins. There’s a broad-built man in a little boat called COUNTRY staring at me. I have no money and it’s 600 miles to the nearest ATM.

For four years, I've been traveling the high seas, alone aboard my sailboat BOBBIE long enough to know that being cashless doesn’t have to be a problem. For centuries, explorers have ploughed all corners of our watery world, armed with little more than improvised currencies. From the Portuguese pursuits of exotic spices in the Moluccas, to the movement of molasses across the West Indies, the sea has always remained the most flexible of marketplaces.

And so, in much the same way, today on this tiny island in the middle of the Java Sea, we shall improvise. I duck inside, grab a half-full bottle of rum and toss it to Romy, my new bounty-bearing friend. It’s a solid deal: I don’t drink at sea, and he hasn’t seen commercial grade liquor in the better part of a decade.

I’ve traded all kinds of things like that out here: a clunky machete from Costa Rica for some custom-welded bolts I needed in Indonesia, old eyeglasses for avocados in Samoa, spare hooks and line for a bucket of shrimp in El Salvador. Even when I do have cash, often locals don’t want it. Maybe we’re on a tiny atoll days away from the nearest urban center. If I’ve got a thing they want, the whole transaction is just way easier. Cash? That’s just some clunky middleman.

There are faded rock band t-shirts, stray DVDs of cheesy action movies, old issues of National Geographic — these are the things that are as good as gold out here.

But then, of course, there’s gold to be had as well. In New Guinea, where I found myself marooned for the better part of a year, I literally stopped counting the times passersby would try to hawk me bricks they’d dug up in their bush gardens — apparently leftover remnants of a war and occupiers that had long since up and gone.

I never bought any — it all just seemed too weird, and probably illegal — but I loved the mystique, the excitement, the idea that I every time I sailed away I was on my way towards the next great discovery.

And yet, there is actual money to be made out here, as well. Even today, the savvy sailor can cash in on the basic principles of supply and demand: buy the stuff that’s cheap in one place, haul it somewhere down the road where it’s harder to come by.

Take Easter Island, for example. It’s a tiny spit of land, 1,100 miles off the coast of Chile. For some inexplicable reason, bottles of Johnny Walker are insanely cheap at just over five bucks a liter. The savvy sailor could easily snug a pallet or two in the bilge and unload them in landfalls further west, where the brand fetches a price nearly ten times that. And I’ve met countless dudes doing just that, shirtless and leathery, blissed out on the same kind of rum runs that have existed for ages. Paradise is not only real for them, it’s also lucrative.

But that’s never really been my style. I much favor the exchanges that are simpler, that get to the core of what huckstering misses entirely: it’s not about who comes out ahead. Once, in this little jungle outpost called Pomio, villagers caught wind of that fact that I had solar panels on board. Before I knew it there was a steady queue of outrigger canoes dropping me their mobile phones. I was happy to oblige, it was no sweat off my back to put a little charge in their gear, but it’s what happened when they came back that got me: the old women would bring fresh coconuts to drink together, the young men would swing heaping sacks of sweet potatoes on board. It was a simple system that had nothing to do with wealth or status. It was a system of camaraderie and kindness, that approached life like it was a big pot and everyone was only expected to toss in whatever they had. And I loved it, you know? This way of living that systematically acknowledges that we’re all in this together – a currency I can really get behind.

Emily Richmond is a round-the-world solo sailor and a freelance radio producer.

Photo courtesy of the author, whose Flickr account is amazing

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james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Sorry, not cute. I misspelled "steadfastly provincial in the manner of persons from great empires".

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Posted by Rachel Vorona

by Rachel Vorona

When I was thirteen, I participated in an after-school activity ambiguously—and generously—named “Lifetime Sports.” At my North Carolina private school, a place particularly dedicated to social hierarchy, your position on a team was determined as much by popularity as athletic ability, and as I was fundamentally lacking in both coolness and hand-eye coordination, I thought I might as well try life-sporting. Participation would involve periodic trips to a local roller rink.

This was 1998, when roller rinks were just becoming passé. My friends no longer held their birthday parties at the local rinks, and, generally, they smelled kind of funny (the roller rinks, that is). But the activity seemed to have immediate perks. I already owned a kickin’ pair of plastic teal roller blades. I imagined perfecting the dance routine from Will Smith’s “Men In Black” music video, gossiping with my friends as we attempted to maintain both our sick grooves and our balance. And maybe, with dedicated practice, we would even dominate those limbo competitions (it was such injustice that toddlers were allowed to compete with those of us taller than three feet, skates included).

It was more than okay, though. Though I never triumphed at limbo or lived up to Will Smith’s slick moves, I quickly discovered that the roller rink was the absolute best place to think about sex.

I can’t articulate exactly what it was that turned the roller rink into fantasy-on-wheels for me. It certainly wasn’t the act of skating, as I discovered when I tried ice-skating too, hoping for similar physiological results. Between the cold, the unwieldy weapons strapped to my feet, and, most critically, the absence of music, I found myself completely unfulfilled and with a damp, sore butt to boot. No, the feelings I sought only came from visits to those dingy rinks—their smell of ashtrays, sweat, and desolation.

In retrospect, part of what I craved was the roller rink’s ability to detach me from the everyday. Because I frequented roller rinks as they were on their way “out,” they seemed to exist apart from the regular world. It wasn’t cool to go to the roller rink, per se, but it also wasn’t exactly a trip to yesteryear. Because the rinks had slipped into that ambiguous space of almost-nostalgia, they made me feel comfortingly removed from the world of “cool,” from my everyday existence as a hapless, flat-chested cluster of insecurities. Every time I visited the roller rink with my fellow life-sporters, I could beg the disc jockey to play the Goo Goo Dolls’s “Slide” and, as Johnny Rzeznik sang with abandon about running away to marry the beautiful May, I could—with Johnny’s biceps in my mind’s eye—be May, be beautiful. I could slip into my own, reimagined music video. I was the tragic girl in the white prom dress, running tragically through town, moping tragically at the diner counter where Johnny-with-his-biceps would croon in my ear. I could contemplate the exhilaration of being wanted so much that someone wrote a half-decent song about me.

To be clear, I also spent plenty of time with the Goo Goo Dolls and Third Eye Blind in my bedroom at night, seeking rapture by smuggling my Discman under the covers and allowing my thoughts to dwell where they might (oh, what I’d have given for “I Want You” to have been in that roller rink DJ’s catalogue). But those nights always concluded in frustration and a sense of isolation, feelings I never experienced while gliding around the rink. The lights of the rink were always dim enough that the space felt secure and sufficiently—if paradoxically—private, but I could still discern my fellow skaters, my friends. So when my thoughts took a turn for the bleak and angst-y (“Will anybody ever love me? Will I ever get to run across town in a flouncy prom dress? I bet no one has ever felt these feelings before.”), I could take a respite from my trauma-drama. I would rejoin my buddies for some therapeutic chatter on how broodingly beautiful David Boreanaz looked in the last episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” conversations that inevitably led to even more fantasy fodder.

But the beauty of the roller rink was the ease with which you could glide—literally—in and out of conversations, and in and out of your own thoughts as well. When I was content to inhabit my fantasy space, I could do so with tangible evidence that there were other people in the world who, I realized, must possess their own vibrant, tumultuous, inner lives—even if, of course, my own thoughts and desires were the most vibrant, most tumultuous, and totally most special. To a great extent, the roller rink was to me at age 13 what a coffee shop is to me at age 28: a place where I can retreat into myself while comforted by the bodies around me. The roller rink appealed to me like a womb with a door—the cradle of music surrounding me, constructing a wall between my thoughts and environment. And yet I could emerge back into presence at any time, if my fantasies ever turned scary or overwhelming.

And they were always fantasies. My love of the roller rink had nothing to do with the possibility of meeting someone there and experiencing a real, in-the-flesh romantic interlude. True, years later I did swoon when I watched the roller rink love scene between Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci in “Monster.” But as a shy and anxious 13-year-old, that wasn’t what I wanted from these venues. What I wanted—and what I gained—was a communal, yet anonymous space both to contemplate my desires, and to attempt to understand myself as someone who desired in the first place. As a public space for my teenage romantic fantasies, the roller rink let me explore—in public—a vibrant erotic inner-life, without self-consciousness.

Of course, I was extremely self-conscious of these sexual thoughts in every other context. Around the same time, I would bring Sophie’s Choice with me to read during free time in school, captivated and horrified by its sexual frankness. It was in English class that I reached a prolonged and no-holds-barred description of fellatio. After racing through a few paragraphs of the sordid details, I shoved the book into my backpack, cheeks burning, waiting till I could get to my bedroom and surf waves of desire with the ever-present awareness that my sisters were in the next room and my parents across the hall. Even here, my anxiety generated a superstitious terror that my thoughts would appear flamboyantly above my head in a comic strip thought bubble. Or maybe, à la Harry Potter, my book would begin reciting its racy contents aloud, in the voice of a sex-phone operator. Maybe my parents would hear me sigh with happiness when fantasy-Taylor Hanson ran away with fantasy-Rachel to have sex in a mountain cavern. But never, never in the rink.

The roller rink never became a space for masturbation-on-wheels, which sounds in any case dangerous. But I always relied primarily upon my mind as a pleasure generator in the first place. A sucker for narrative, my fantasies often involved elaborate plots, say, about narrow escapes from bloodthirsty pirates on deserted islands. (I grant you that my storylines needed work.) And of course, lots of interludes for passionate love scenes. Lots of them. And I was satisfied with just my hormonally-propelled mind. I never needed masturbation to experience the exhilaration of a wish-fulfilling tale about Taylor Hanson.

What a physical pleasure it was to roller blade in the rink, aligning fantasy with motion with hyper-sincere, late-nineties alt-rock. I could adjust my speed to align with the intensity of both the music—I requested “Slide” every time—and the “plot point” I was developing about Taylor or Johnny. My mind and body felt in sync, and I felt an illusory—yet fulfilling—sense of achievement. Roller blading became the genuine enactment of my desires. It made the fantasies feel as real as they could ever possibly be.

I don’t think that I have visited a roller rink since I concluded my tenure as a life-sporter a decade and a half ago. But part of me wonders if I should give the roller rink another whirl. Perhaps it would bring me to a new liberating space of sexual possibility. Until I fell on my ass. Lord knows it's been almost fifteen years.

Rachel Vorona is an English doctoral student living in Washington, D.C. She also writes creative non-fiction and personal essays at positiveandpromise.wordpress.com. You can find her on Twitter here: @RachelVorona.

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Posted by Jia Tolentino

by Jia Tolentino

Meet Hogwarts Is Here, a fan-run online wizard education, in which you can "enroll at Hogwarts, collect your textbooks and begin taking our 9-week courses online. You can now progress through all seven years of schooling and be assigned a professor, homework assignments, quizzes and more." The most popular course is Defense of the Dark Arts, naturally, and here is the answer to the most important question: you have to sort yourself. [Via AV Club]

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by The Hairpin Sponsors

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Posted by Jia Tolentino

by Jia Tolentino

Researchers put plastic backpacks on cows, then inserted tubes into their rumens (their biggest digestive tract). They extracted the methane–about 300 liters a day. That's enough to run a car, or a fridge for 24 hours. [Fast Company]

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Posted by Molly Pohlig

by Molly Pohlig

Welcome to mid-April; or, that dark chasm of working days that stretches on with no holidays until Memorial Day. Joy! In that spirit, I've been hitting the Wikipedia hard lately, and these are the most gruesome sentences I could find. I consider it a public service to share them. I'm sorry.

Anencephaly. “The most common type of anencephaly, in which the brain is completely absent.”

(Even if you can stomach the first photo, don’t scroll down. Seriously, don’t. I screamed out loud at work. Similar precautions go for the following 25 entries.)

Belle Gunness. “Hack driver Clyde Sturgis delivered many such trunks to her from La Porte and later remarked how the heavyset woman would lift these enormous trunks ‘like boxes of marshmallows,’ tossing them onto her wide shoulders and carrying them into the house.”

(runner-up: Botfly. “Squeezing the larvae out is not recommended, as it can cause the larvae to rupture; their bodily fluids have been known to cause severe anaphylactic shock.”)

Carlos II. “The physician who practiced his autopsy stated that his body ‘did not contain a single drop of blood; his heart was the size of a peppercorn; his lungs corroded; his intestines rotten and gangrenous; he had a single testicle, black as coal, and his head was full of water.’”

Dyatlov Pass incident. “Some were found wrapped in snips of ripped clothes that seemed to have been cut from those who were already dead.” (In sum, this is possibly the best Wikipedia entry of all time, not to get all superlative or anything.)

(runner-up: Danny Lyons. “As Lizzie the Dove lay dying she was said to have told Gentle Maggie that she would ‘meet you in hell and there scratch your eyes out.’”)

Elizabeth Báthory. “Before being burned at the stake, Semtész and Jó had their fingers ripped off their hands with hot pincers, while Ficko, who was deemed less culpable, was beheaded, and his body burned.”

Flaying. “Generally, an attempt is made to keep the removed portion of skin intact.”

Gangrene. “The affected part is edematous, soft, putrid, rotten and dark.”

Helios Airways Flight 522. “They intercepted the passenger jet at 11:24 and observed that the first officer was slumped motionless at the controls and the captain's seat was empty.”

Iron Maiden (torture device). “It was anthropomorphic, probably styled after primitive ‘Gothic’ representations of Mary, the mother of Jesus, with a cast likeness of her on the face.”

Jellied Eel. “The eel is a naturally gelatinous fish so the cooking process releases proteins, like collagen, into the liquid which solidify on cooling to form a jelly, though gelatin may be added in order to aid this process.”

Katherine Knight. “She then decapitated him and cooked parts of his body, serving up the meat with baked potato, pumpkin, zucchini, cabbage, yellow squash and gravy in two settings at the dinner table, along with notes beside each plate, each having the name of one of Price's children on it; she was preparing to serve his body parts to his children.”

Localized cicatricial pemphigoid. “Nikolsky's sign is present in case of pemphigus only but not in the case of pemphigoid.” (This is terrifying because none of these words mean anything to me.)

Marion Parker. “Her eyes were wired open so as to make her appear alive.”

Necrotizing fasciitis. “For reasons that are unclear, it occasionally occurs in people with an apparently normal general condition.”

Ovalteenies. “Ovalteenies are round sweets made of compressed Ovaltine.’ (Shudder.)

Purgatorio. “The souls of the envious wear penitential grey cloaks, and their eyes are sewn shut, resembling the way a falconer sews shut the eyes of a falcon in order to train it.”

Quiricus and Julietta. “Julietta was tortured, and her three-year-old son, being held by the governor of Tarsus, scratched the governor's face and was killed by being thrown down by some stairs.”

Rat king (folklore). “It consists of 32 rats.” (Imagine that on the A train.) (Sorry, I have to go have a little sick now.)

Scaphism. “The condemned was forced to ingest milk and honey to the point of developing a severe bowel movement and diarrhea, and more honey would be poured on his exposed appendages and on his genitals to attract insects.“

Teratoma. “The tissues of a teratoma, although normal in themselves, may be quite different from surrounding tissues and may be highly disparate; teratomas have been reported to contain hair, teeth, bone and, very rarely, more complex organs or processes such as eyes, torso, and hands, feet, or other limbs.” (Screaming.)

Unusual deaths. “Garry Hoy, a 38-year-old lawyer in Toronto, fell to his death on 9 July 1993, after he threw himself against a window on the 24th floor of the Toronto-Dominion Centre in an attempt to prove to a group of visitors that the glass was "unbreakable," a demonstration he had done many times before.“ (Go read this page and you’ll appreciate how hard it is to pick just one sentence. Sadly, it’s been edited down lately, and I would be remiss if I didn’t send you here instead.)

Verrucous carcinoma. “This form of cancer is often seen in those who chew tobacco or use snuff orally, so much so that it is sometimes referred to as ‘Snuff dipper's cancer.’” (If you’re trying to get someone to quit tobacco, maybe show them the pictures.)

Who put Bella in the Wych Elm? “He found taffeta in her mouth, suggesting that she had died from asphyxiation.”

Xabi Alonso. “Alonso was regarded as a quiet and friendly person by his former teammates at Liverpool.” (Xabi Alonso is not gruesome, he’s an adorable Spanish footballer, but I thought you deserved a treat for making it this far.)

Yellow fever. “Bleeding in the mouth, the eyes, and the gastrointestinal tract will cause vomit containing blood, hence the Spanish name for yellow fever, vomito negro (‘black vomit’).”

Zelus biloba. “Zelus biloba is a species of assassin bug found in Florida.” (This is terrifying because it is the only sentence. Although I’m not surprised that it’s found in Florida.)

 

Previously: Imaginary Miniseries I Would Enjoy More than Downton Abbey

Molly Pohlig lives in Brooklyn and works in publishing. She is currently tweeting her way through Proust, all seven volumes, at @poppycockltd.

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India Recognizes Third Gender

Apr. 16th, 2014 03:15 pm
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Posted by Jia Tolentino

by Jia Tolentino

From NPR:

India now has a third gender. The Supreme Court has recognized the country's transgender community as being in a third neutral category — neither male nor female.

In handing down the ruling, Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan said, "Transgenders are citizens of this country … and recognition as a third gender is not a social or medical issue but a human rights issue."

Progressive legislation! Always awesome—2 to 3 million people identify as transgender in India—and always uneven, contextual, fascinating. From the Washington Post:

The progressive ruling applies only to eunuchs – or hijras as they are called in Hindi — in India and not to gays, lesbians and bisexuals. In many ways, expanding the rights to transgendered people is far easier than legalizing homosexuality in India. For centuries, eunuchs – called hijras in Hindi — were given a special place in Indian religious epics and parables.

"Granting rights to transgenders is more acceptable to our psyche because we find many transgender characters in our religious, cultural mythologies and literature. Some of our Hindu Gods were of third-gender, some Gods changed their gender seamlessly to perform specific roles and rituals," said Rose Venkatesan, who transitioned from being a man to a woman four years ago and is a former television host and an independent filmmaker in the southern city of Chennai.

Photo via Nagarjun Kandukuru/Flickr

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