Sunday, 31 August 2014

Marvel's Artists, Aren't

It seems I've gone on a bit of a Spider Woman web crawl today. (Pun totally intended) For those of you who haven't been drawn into the controversy (another intended pun), Marvel comics unveiled their new Spider Woman comic a few weeks ago. The cover depicts Spider Woman in a highly sexualised and physically impossible to get into pose.

This poses (I just love puns) several problems. First being that it really isn't necessary to sexualise women in any form of media.

Don't get me wrong, sexy poses (containing any gender) in artwork is perfectly fine and I do love looking at sexily posed drawings of people irregardless of what gender they may be. Saying that, is a comic (which is being marketed towards teens) really an appropriate place for what is basically soft porn? I don't think it is. Misogyny runs rampant in graphic novels and games and it's high time it goes away. Basically what we need is less misogyny and highly sexualised women and more depictions of strong women who are more than capable of kicking ass without the need to wear cleavage enhancing clothing that's so tight it looks like it was painted on.

The second problem, as I alluded to above, is that due to the artist's hang-up on making his drawings "sexy", the anatomy is so messed up it quite simply doesn't exist. Some of you will no doubt say "It's artistic license. The artist doesn't have to make his drawings anatomically correct." You do have a point, if that's what you're thinking. However, when you're drawing in a realistic style (which is the style Marvel's comics are typically in), then you do need to keep the anatomy fairly believable.

My web crawl was started when I saw a post on The Oatmeal where the artist drew Spider Man in a "male equivalent" provocative pose. ( This (obviously tongue-in-cheek) drawing highlights how ridiculous it would look if Spider Man's "assets" (hehe) were similarly on display for all to see.

A link in the comments of The Oatmeal's Facebook post led me to this gem ( where an artist gives a professional critique of the drawings in the comic. Her red-lines (click on the image gallery to see them all) give a very good look at exactly where the artists went wrong and how to fix their mistakes and proves that you don't need to sacrifice anatomy to draw women. Her sketches are still sexy, but it's more of a "that woman can kick my ass" type of sexy and less of a "this woman is only here for my sexual kicks" kind of way.

Finally, in the comments in The Mary Sue article, I found this rather amusing link ( which proves once and for all just how much of a monstrosity the "roof pose" really is.

Not so sexy now, is it?

Friday, 1 August 2014

Armley Mills

This past Tuesday (29th July) Paul and I went to Leeds Industrial Museum. The museum is located on the grounds of the old Armley Mills in Leeds. Armley Mills, for those who may be interested, was once the world's largest woollen mill. Exhibits cover 3 floors, in addition to outside areas. Admission is £3.60 for adults, £1.80 for children over 5, £2.90 for concession tickets (students and OAPs), and £7.60 for families. Saying this, Paul and I got in for free as he's disabled/special needs and I'm his carer. It might be worthwhile to bring a letter from the DWP to prove that your child is in receipt of DLA, if this applies to you as well.

When we first walked into the museum, I was concerned that it looked quite small. As I said before though, the museum is larger than it looks and there's quite a bit to see and do there. You enter the museum via the gift shop. To your right is the café which serves biscuits and hot drinks, to your left is the museum proper. The gift shop is well worth looking around. There are several items there from toys to books to mugs and tea towels. All of which are high quality and would make wonderful souvenirs. Paul chose a model train which makes train noises. It's just the right size for his wooden train tracks.

The first room you enter after the gift shop has several exhibits as well as a few activities. Paul really enjoyed playing with the train tracks.

Further into the museum is a small playhouse which is made completely of material knitted by the public. I thought it was pretty neat; Paul didn't seem too impressed by it, though he did go inside and sat down for a minute.

A few of the more hands on activities consisted of a faux phone operator's control panel and some optical illusions. Paul listened to one of the operator recordings, but they didn't hold his interest. He did love the optical illusions however. He loves spinning things, so that's what he started doing. After I showed him how to see the pictures "move", his response was "Wow. That's cool".

Armley Mills also has a working replica of a 1920's cinema. You can sit down and watch a short film clip from that era. Most kids aren't going to be impressed by this, unless they're history buffs. Paul just wanted to completely bypass the whole thing, but I convinced him to sit down long enough for a photo. You can probably tell he was just humouring me at this stage!

Paul's favourite exhibits of the museum by far were the trains. They had several restored engines inside and several more outside. Paul really enjoyed looking at them all. He was a bit disappointed that he couldn't ride on any of them, but that didn't stop him from walking along the short length of disused track and making train noises!

If you visit the museum, you'll want to bring a picnic lunch (or get takeaway from the nearby Pizza Hut) in order to take advantage of the beautiful outdoor picnic area.

Overall, the museum is quite nice. Whilst it might not hold the interest of really young children, there are enough hands on activities to keep slightly older children occupied. Paul certainly seemed to enjoy the outing and we spent just over an hour walking around looking at things. If you do the activities, read the exhibit signs, and watch the film, it will probably take upwards of two to three hours to get all the way through the building.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

R.I.P. Dad

 (TW: death, rape, childhood trauma)

On the 13th of June, 2014, my Dad passed away from advanced lung cancer. He was 69 years old.

I found out about his death from my mother, via an email on Facebook. Don't judge - I live in England, while the rest of my family live in The United States of America; Facebook is pretty much the only way they can contact me. Mom also has cancer, but unlike my Dad, she hasn't given up and is fighting it with every ounce of stubbornness she possesses - which believe me, is a very large amount.

When I read Mom's message, I experienced a bit of shock, as you can probably imagine. The knowledge that someone you knew from a very early age has died always comes as a shock, the death of a family member even more so. If this was a typical story, one would probably expect the next few paragraphs of this blog entry to say what a great man my Dad was and how much I grieve his passing and that I'm going to miss him terribly.

This isn't a typical story.

To be perfectly honest, I haven't grieved at all. Not one tiny bit. When, a few weeks ago, I learned that he had cancer, I did cry. It wasn't a "I'm sad because my Dad has cancer" thing though, but rather an "I'm crying because I should be sad, but I'm not and everything inside of me says I should be so I'm really confused" thing.

To those of you reading this who are thinking "What an unfeeling, uncaring bastard." - I'm not a sociopath and had it been anyone else in my family who had died, I would still be in extreme mourning. It just so happens however, that the person who died was my Dad and well, I just don't feel sadness at his passing.

Don't get me wrong, I have lots of good memories of my Dad. He got me interested in Dungeons & Dragons and table-top games, he bought me my first games console, he taught me how to ride a bike, and he loved roller coasters and going to Six Flags Theme Park in Eureka, Missouri as much as I did. But sadness at him dying? Nope. Not even a sliver.

I've actually been puzzling about this over the last few days, because society demands that we mourn over the loss of our loved ones. It was while reading Laurell K. Hamilton's A Shiver of Light earlier this evening, that I realised exactly why I haven't grieved and probably will never do so.

I mourned the loss of my Dad back when I was a kid. 

When I was between the ages of 9 and 10 years of age (I can't say exactly how old I was because I've found that my memories from 7 - 13 years old are quite hazy and indistinct), my Dad moved back to the state of Missouri from a 2 - 3 year stint of living in Florida. My parents split up when I was 7 - 8 years old; my sisters and I stayed with our Mom in Missouri while my Dad moved to Florida. Their divorce was finalised soon after he came back.

It was during this time that my Dad sexually molested me. Actions which continued off and on until I was 13 years old and a series of events put him in prison for a total of 10 years.  It was at this point that I grieved over the loss of a parent. From the moment he took the last bits of my innocence - that is when I lost my Dad.

The grieving process lasted years for me, even though it's only now that I realise that's what I was going through. All the stages of grief and mourning were there (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance), but neither I nor any one around me at the time picked up on it. These stages followed me well into my late 20's and early 30's; some of them repeating several times, due to all the self-confidence and self-doubt issues his actions caused me.

I've already grieved. Not only over the loss of my Dad, but also over the loss of myself because to claim that what happened didn't change who I am would be lying. My entire being - everything that makes me ME - changed on the day my paedophile father decided to act out his perverse fantasies on me.

Everyone else in my family can mourn his death; it's their right to do so. But the man who died? He wasn't my father and hadn't been for a very long time.

It's funny how a make-believe world can show you truths.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Leeds Museum

My boyfriend and I took Paul to the Leeds Museum yesterday. I was pleased by how well he handled the crowds and loved that he really seemed to be enjoying himself. All of the staff we came in contact with were really nice and understanding as well.

The only thing that caused a bit of a problem was they had some of their "do not touch" exhibits right out in the open and often right next to a hands on exhibit. Needless to say, this confused Paul to no end. He just couldn't understand why he could touch the little blocks, but not the big ones in the Ancient Worlds exhibit (as an example).

For anyone who may be thinking about going, it's a nice day out, but you may want to prep your child before hand so they will know what they can touch and what they can't. I was thinking a social story might work in this instance. Something to explain how we look for "do not touch" signs on exhibits and if there isn't one, it's OK to gently touch the object.

Here are a few photos of our visit.

A photo of a photo of a fox with chicken egg


Sunday, 18 May 2014

YouTube Walk 1

Sometimes - usually on Sundays, but not always - I find an interesting video and before I know it, I've watched several. I call these "YouTube walks". 

YouTube walks are similar to Wiki walks. I watch a video and count down the suggested video list (the list on the right side of the screen) until I reach the day of the month. So if it's the 18th day of the month, I choose the 18th video link. I continue until either I run out of links or get bored.

Since I've been neglecting my blogs recently, I figured I'd start documenting these walks so as to share them with everyone who may be interested. 

This was the start of today's YouTube walk. It's an optical illusion video linked by I Fucking Love Science on Facebook.

This was followed by a video of practical jokes. (Don't worry, I won't be playing any of these pranks on my friends and loved ones)

The third video is by the same guy who made the pranks video. This one is more of a neat "how'd they do that" trick.

Yet another one by Quirkology (YouTube tends to do this a lot). This video is different to the last trick because they show you how the trick is done. 

Finally got away from Quirkology and moved onto TEDx Talks in this next video which asks "Why do we ask questions?".

 And finally, the last video (another TEDx Talk) is on sustainable fashion. 

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Celebrating Easter

This post was shamelessly stolen from Daylight Atheism. All credit goes to the author of that blog.

Beloved, let us rejoice, for this is a time of celebration. In the true spirit of this season, let our hearts be gladdened, and let us pray and pay tribute to the deity in whose honor this holiday comes…

…Eastre, the Germanic goddess of spring.

No, no, wait, that’s not right. Let’s try again.
Please forgive our previous silly mistake. As we all well know, beloved, this holiday comes not because of any primitive druidic goddess, but rather in honor of a heroic figure, a true god among men, who was born of a mortal woman and a divine Father. As should be obvious by now, the name of this very special child was…


No – hold on. That can’t be right either.
Of course, of course. The hero of our story, the one whom we have gathered here to thank, was no figure of pagan Greek polytheism. He was a redeemer, one who came to earth to lift up sinful and ignorant humans, knowing full well he would pay the ultimate price for his actions, but willing to go ahead anyway out of love and compassion. As you all know, this blessed Savior was called…


No, no, give us just a minute. We’ll get it right.
We all know full well who is being described here, of course. He is the one, the One, who defeated death itself and rose from the grave, in a miracle that no other would-be savior has ever been able to duplicate. By dramatically displaying his power over death, he proved once and for all that he was the single true god. And his name was…


No, wait. That’s not right either. Of course! What a ridiculous error to make. Our apologies.
Beloved, only one god fits this description. You know him well — millions of you around the world today worship him. He was conceived miraculously and visited while still an infant by wise men who were guided to him by a star. He lived in a small province whose evil ruler sought to have him killed before he could rise to power, but his parents were warned by a heavenly messenger who instructed them to take their child to a neighboring district, where he would be safe from the slaughter. This miracle child would come to grow up and perform many great deeds, and the timeless and moving story of his life was recounted throughout history and still rings true today. I refer of course to…


Is that right? That can’t be right, can it?
No! Beloved, the god to whom I refer stands alone, unique, head and shoulders above the myths and fables of the false religions. No other savior ever claimed to duplicate his deeds. No other prophet was anything at all like him. He was the mediator between God and man, he helps departed souls ascend to heaven, and he will judge the human race at the end of the world. He shed the blood of an innocent to wash away the sins of the world and established a sacred meal ritual where flesh and blood were symbolically consumed by initiates. Only one person fits that description. You know this person well – his birthday falls near the end of the year, on December 25. As should be more than obvious by now, this person can only be the one who was called…


That doesn’t seem right either…

Of course. That, too, is incorrect. My most sincere apologies. Beloved, do not let these slight slips of the tongue distract you from the power of the message I bring. Our religion is the one true religion. The claims of all others crumble under scrutiny, but ours and ours alone is validated, again and again, by historical fact. It was the first of its kind to make such claims as these; all others are merely impostors which sought to capitalize on its fame. Our savior cannot be mistaken for any other. He performed countless miracles on earth, miracles well attested to by bystanders. He healed the sick and the crippled, restored sight to the blind, cast out demons, yea, even raised the dead! His birth was of a virgin, foretold by an angel. While still a child, he exhibited extraordinary knowledge of religious scripture. He reformed the corrupt and worldly religions of his day. After his death, he rose from the grave and appeared to his disciples to prove to them his miraculous power, after which he ascended to Heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. He was known as “the Son of God!” No other religion can make such claims! No other savior proved his divinity again and again to so many! No one can doubt his power or the truth of the message he brought. His memory will live forever. How can he be mistaken for anyone else? Of course, by now there is not a shred of doubt in any of your minds. You know as well as I do to whom I am referring. We must worship him, pay tribute to his memory, and focus on spreading his message of love and compassion; that, after everything, is the true meaning of Easter. Come, beloved, let us pray and honor the divine prophet whom I have just described. Let us glory in the everlasting love of…

…Apollonius of Tyana.

Wait – wait – wait – eh, you know what? Screw this.