Wednesday, July 27, 2016

We're at Anime Iowa this weekend!!

Convention alert!

This weekend (July 29th - 31st) we'll be at Anime Iowa!

No map this time, but we won't be hard to find.  We'll have Brichibi's new Rainbow Brite dress on Saturday and we'll be premiering my matching Patty O'Green!

Not to mention a new print!!

Hope to see you guys there, please stop by the table or catch us in the hallway, we always love to say hi and spend time with people.  


See you there!!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

I Can't Imagine

I’m sitting here, in front of my computer, looking over at my partner of almost fifteen years, and I can’t imagine what’s going on inside her head.  A man was shot not two miles from our house and now she’s sitting, reading another insensitive, insulting, social media post about how people are being violent and not approaching the situation correctly, just because they dared to voice that they deserve the right to live.  

I can’t imagine the pain in her mind when it’s someone she knows, a close friend making such a post.  I can’t imagine the struggle to make words move from her brain to her fingers to reply, yet again, that they don’t understand.  I can’t imagine the sadness when she sees another article, another post, another news clip broadcasting her pain for the world to see.  I can’t image her utter anger at how people can dismiss her because she might wear a hoodie, might linger at the makeup counter, might have natural beautiful hair, might dare to breathe air too close for comfort.  I can’t imagine the amount of pain due to something as stupid as a pigment in her skin, something she can’t hide or cover because it will always be there.

I can’t imagine growing up, being told that your people were once slaves, less than human, and that moment when she realized that movements and protests and assassinations that happened when her parents were children seem to have changed nothing.  I can’t imagine seeing the endless parade of faces and names of men and women killed for the color of their skin and the creeping dread that one day she might know one of those faces.  I can’t imagine the sadness when, once again, those names and faces are forgotten by the media, because there’s another happier and less depressing story to be told.

I can’t imagine the sheer frustration and need to scream when yet another person claims she isn’t doing enough.  That she isn’t protesting correctly.  That she isn’t acting in the ‘correct way’ to protect and save her people.  I can’t imagine what it’s like to have a stranger, or a friend, insist they know the simple answer to decades of protesting: “Why don’t you just do this?” as if all of those things haven’t been tried before.  I can’t imagine the pain of knowing that person doesn’t really want to help - they just want the inconveniences to stop interrupting their privileged and happy world.

I can’t imagine falling asleep at night, in bed, listening to sounds outside the window and wondering if it’s a firecracker or a gunshot.  I can’t imagine hearing that police siren passing by and wondering if another face will show up on the news and another man will walk away with no consequence.  I can’t imagine her knowing that when she wakes up, there will be more posts, more memes, more people not understanding that her life is and continues to be a sad and painful hell because of the color of her skin.

I can’t imagine because I am white.

And if I can’t imagine, what can I even do?

I can stop.  I can listen.

I can understand that even though I am a female and I am not christian and I am gay that I will never understand what it is like to be hated for something I can’t closet or deny.  I can see that she was raised in this world, from the beginning, knowing that there will always be people, strangers, police officers, politicians who will hate her because her skin is darker than theirs.  I can acknowledge that when the media stops paying attention, when the bodies are buried and when the protests die down there is still this deep pain that makes her want to stop and cry because she knows it will happen again.  

I can step back. I can be a platform for her voice, share her words and her replies because they are so much more powerful than anything I could ever say.  I can stop my friends and family from saying hateful things and yell “Listen to her!” because she and her people have been silenced and ignored and brushed to the side for too long.  I can share articles with facts, showing the pain and the misery so that the world doesn’t forget their names and doesn’t forget that there are so many people they’ve pushed away who deserve the right to just exist without fear of dying.

I can be silent.  When she breaks down and cries, or yells in frustration, I can close my mouth and realize that I can’t fix this problem.  I can’t hand her a band-aid or a pill or a hug that will stop the festering, painful, cancer growing in our society.  I can understand that she doesn’t need a quick fix, doesn’t need to be told it will be ok, and doesn’t need a vacation.  I can accept the reality that this won’t end until she’s accepted and it’s going to be a long road until then.  I can assure her that I’m here and that I, unlike the faceless hating hoard around her, don’t hate her and I can show that fact by supporting her.

I can accept that I can’t imagine her pain and I don't need to.

I will never be able to imagine what she is going through. I will never be able to offer that magical solution that will solve it in a night and make her life better.  That’s not what she needs.  I don’t need to understand what she is going through to be a decent human being and see her pain.  I just need to be next to her, beside her and support her and join her in the simple statement that her life matters.  

I can step away from the hatred, the denial, the cure-alls and realize that we - as a world - are not ok. That the world needs to change.  And that the hatred, the denial and especially the killing needs to stop.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Book Review: The Morgan Kingsley Series by Jenna Black

Generally I'd do a single book review, as I just finished this one, but as it's the end of the series and I haven't reviewed the rest of the series I decided to tackle it as a whole. (Plus I missed a blog entry last week, oops!)

Book 1

Welcome to the world of Morgan Kingsley, exorcist extraordinaire.  It's not much different from our modern world, really, except for one specific thing: in Morgan's world, you can be possessed by demons.

In fact, demon possession is a way of life.  It's fought over by people and the government much like gay rights (with religious groups on either side to boot) and the whole of society is learning to live with their new 'reality'.  On this stage, Morgan is an exorcist, brought in to exorcise demons when they've overstayed their welcome in their human hosts.  You can imagine she has very specific feelings about whose side she's on.

The problem is that Morgan now has a demon inside of her, and not just any demon: he's the king of them all.  She doesn't want him, but she can't get rid of him, not when there's a war going on over leadership in the Demon Realm and her world will be affected by the outcome.  Her life just got a lot more complicated.

Book 2
I have been a lover of urban fantasy for a long time and I'll admit that when I'm not sure what to read next, this is the genre I immediately look to.  It's not the sex with other worldly creatures, really, it's the world and the creativity that's scattered about.  It takes a lot to make these stories believable in our world and I love it when authors can manage this.

With Morgan Kingsley's world, Jenna Black has done just that.  She's created a believable world and very interesting characters that I loved coming back to. Specifically her side characters caught me in the first book and I found myself wishing they were the main focus.  Not that Morgan herself is bad, but the side characters are also more interesting then usual.

Book 3
The concept of the demons in the world is also super interesting.  With demons, you would expect quite a few religious undertones to fill the book, however the author took another route, and treated it more like the social issues we see in our world, with religious groups taking part, but there's also laws and realistic reactions.  For example, there are people who actually want to be demon hosts, because it gives them the ability to heal and strength, so they can be better at fighting fires, being police and other such service jobs.  And Morgan's religious beliefs are not tied to her ability to exorcise.  It's a route that I wouldn't have immediately thought of and it presented an interesting challenge in that you couldn't assume that all 'demons' were evil, because some genuinely weren't.

I was also a fan of the very distinct culture created for her demons.  As an anthropology major in college, I appreciate the time authors take to build cultures and here is no exception.  There's the standard 'we don't understand humans' but there's also the mention of how our sexuality and gender thoughts don't quite apply when you're not used to having a physical body.  So demons have no issues with homosexuality and monogamy is another sticky issue, especially if someone loves a demon and not the host, or vice versa.  That along with the BDSM threads because demons aren't used to feeling the sensation of pain and therefore some delight in it a bit too much, creates a culture and a world that I would seriously pick up textbooks about in my free time, if that were an option.

Book 4
While I do love all the things above, I did run into an issue, especially toward the end of the series, that the character of Morgan started to grate on me.  She is very steadfast in her 'I hate demons' attitude and this doesn't change throughout the books, even when she's possessed by one and gets to know him very personally.  As the books moved on she struck me as very childish in how she refused to grow as a character.  It wasn't that I wanted her to completely step forward and accept demons all the way, but I did expect her to grow at least a little.  Instead she greets each opportunity at growth with clenched teeth and only in the end of the series does she start to admit that maybe she could change her views.  I like characters who are consistent, but this seemed a bit much and it made it hard to empathize with her at the end because I just wanted to smack her upside the head.  Though, I will admit, it's a great portrayal of those in our world who really will never change their view, no matter what realities they are confronted with.  

My only other issue with the series is specific to the last book: The Devil's Playground.  Unfortunately the series set up a giant demon war and a fight for the throne, and when it came time to play those cards it sputtered and failed.  There was no war, there was no epic battle, instead it all ended with a whimper that, I swear, only lasted five pages. And the wrap up afterwards didn't end a series, it was a rushed summary that left too many open ends for me to be satisfied.  In the last book specifically Morgan feels more like a looking glass to view the situation and doesn't really act, in fact, she's not even allowed to be Lugh's host for the main parts and it almost left me feeling cheated out of what should have been a much better thought out ending to an otherwise impressive series.

Book 5
Overall Rating:
Even with my gripes about the ending and how carelessly it was brought to a halt, I would still recommend this series.  Overall it's worth the read, specifically for the world building and the amazing characters and all the concepts that the author put forward.  And I even added Jenna Black's other series to my wishlist, eager to pick up the next.  I wish more care had been taken with the end, but I can't fault the entire series for it when the trip to that ending was well worth it.  Oh well, that's what fanfiction and my own writer mind are for, and the pile of books sitting near my bed, waiting to be read. I'm slightly disappointed, but still very much a fan.