I am the Queen of Awesome. My words do not represent my employer, but I bet you already knew that.
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Knock, knock.

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I’m scrolling Facebook this morning and I see this graphic appear in my newsfeed:


And my first reaction, pre-coffee, is the Liz-Lemon eye-roll:

Not just because it’s sexist. I mean… it is. But also because it’s, well. Dated. 

I mean, really dated. That joke is the equivalent of wearing pleated pants and clutching a hoagie-sized cell phone, wondering if Ross and Rachel are ever going to figure their stuff out. This is rooted pretty firmly in the “Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus” era of relationship humor, a book which I admittedly have never read, mostly because I was in elementary school when it was released and I had better things to do, like organizing a playground clean-up committee after a brief fascination with the life’s work of Rachel Carson, or hiding the evidence from my mom that I ripped my school uniform skirt again while climbing trees in the next-door neighbor’s backyard. (True story: my elementary school playground was where older kids would climb over the fence at night and drink beer and get stoned, and there was always garbage lying around. I did once organize an actual playground clean-up recess committee, like the baby Leslie Knope that I am. It went well up until my first-grade teacher yelled “PUT THAT DOWN, that is NOT A BALLOON!” and it kind of fell apart after that.)

Point is, this joke is ooooollld. And to a degree, I get it. Finding new ways to point out that men and women have a difficult time communicating — that’s what thousands of literary and cultural greats have been doing for centuries. Shakespeare gave us Beatrice and Benedick. Austen gave us Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Nora Ephron gave us Harry Burns and Sally Albright. They’re the first three examples that came to mind, but there are thousands and thousands more — stories about men and women who can’t quite figure out how to break through to one another. And I write those stories too! Because there is truth in there, and that truth can be very, very funny.

Except that joke up there – at least to me – isn’t very funny. I don’t actually think it’s funny at all.

That image was posted by a theatre company that I work for. They’re advertising for a touring production of a one-man show that they’re hosting in their space.

I teach at this theatre company, as part of their summer arts theatre program. It’s an incredible, life-changing experience — easily the best theatre education program I have ever witnessed, and I’ve worked with many. I love these kids, and I love that job, with a fierceness and a protectiveness that is hard to explain. I’ve seen kids utterly transformed by their experiences. They are some of the most incredible young people I have ever met, and I am so proud of their accomplishments and achievements, so grateful that I get to play a small role in their lives.

Which means that some of them — the older ones who are on Facebook — saw that image in their newsfeed today, too.

And my heart sank when I realized that.

The rest of the staff and I work so hard to make that theatre a safe space. We encourage imagination and creativity and growth. We help them write their own plays, which means I’ve seen young women play evil villains, space aliens, zombies, cowboys, pirates, the Fonz. I’ve heard young men sing their own renditions of Let It Go. I’ve seen fearless young women and men transcend dumb stereotypes and build deep and meaningful connections with one another.

And I don’t want anyone — especially not the organization that these kids trust to keep them safe — to reinforce the message that when a woman says “No,” it actually means “Yes.” 

My first summer teaching at this camp, a fourteen-year-old girl taught me this incredible lesson. I had handed my kids the first draft of the play we were working on — a sweet little comedy about high school. There was a plotline in which the main character, a shy teenaged girl, gets to dance with the coolest boy in school at the end of the play. After we read through it, I asked, “Does anyone have any questions?”

And one of my students tentatively raised her hand and said, “Actually … I was wondering about the end. I don’t know, it just seems like… it kind of feels like the ending is sending the message that all the crappy stuff about your life would be better if you could just dance with a cute boy. And I don’t really think that’s true, and I don’t think it’s a great message.”

My jaw hit the floor. That is exactly what I had done. I hadn’t even realized it. I was hit with equal parts personal shame and incredible pride — pride that this shy young woman had the guts and smarts to call out sexism when she saw it. We all sat around and talked about ways we could make the ending better.

Some of those kids in that room saw that joke today. And it kills me to think that it’s burrowing down into their psyches. Because that’s what the joke is asking us to do, right? We shouldn’t take what a woman has to say seriously, because women are notoriously flighty and unpredictable. We shouldn’t take a woman at her word, because she’s just going to change her mind. (Besides! It’s not like, I dunno, any of these jokes might burrow into our cultural attitudes about women?)

I know that this theatre company didn’t mean to cause offense when they posted this. I know that they’re in the tough financial situation of needing to make money, and appealing to popular demand is sometimes a necessity. I get that. I understand that completely. I don’t think this was an intentional sexist thing, just like I didn’t intentionally write a sexist play with my kids. This kind of thing happens. It’s so deeply culturally ingrained in us not to think about this stuff.

But. Much like my student called me out several years ago, I’m gonna do the same: I think this that isn’t a great message, and I think we could do better.

I remember hearing this one when I was in middle school, and I remember exactly how it made me feel. A boy told it to me moments after I had beaten his team in the mock trial:

What’s the difference between a knife and a woman’s argument? 

The knife has a point. 

If you think that last one is funny, I bet tickets are still on sale.

**UPDATE: I’ve just heard back from the marketing director at the company, an extremely lovely person who agrees completely that the image was in poor taste. They’ve removed the image and are going to use this as a teachable moment for the person who updates their social media. We all talked about it! We learned something! Everybody wins. High-five. Onwards.**

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andrewneilblog:‘Hush’'Hush is a collection of military images...




'Hush is a collection of military images responding to the US policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Infused with joy and playfulness, these works present a stark contrast to the silence and secrecy enforced by this policy'

Steven Beckly

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Planet Comicon Program Guide now available

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HePlanet Comicon 2015 Program Guidere it is! The digital version of the Planet Comicon 2015 Program Guide is now available to download.

This 32-page convention guide features a cover spotlighting the work of local cartoonist Daniel Spottswood. Inside, you’ll find details about the guests, floor plan, and event schedule of the biggest fandom fiesta ever to hit Kansas City.


The post Planet Comicon Program Guide now available appeared first on Planet Comicon • Kansas City's Largest Comic Book and Pop Culture Convention.

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Saturday Only tickets can be used as Sunday Only tickets

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samellYou may have heard the news that Stephen Amell has had to change his Planet Comicon schedule. Due to a network press event in Los Angeles on Saturday, he can only be at Planet Comicon on Sunday, March 15th.

This may be a concern for some of you who have purchased a “Saturday Only” admission for Planet Comicon. If you would prefer to attend Planet Comicon on Sunday instead of Saturday, we have good news for you.

Planet Comicon will honor “Saturday Only” passes as “Sunday Only” passes.

You don’t have to do anything except come to Planet Comicon on Sunday instead of Saturday. Please note: The passes are good for one day only. If a pass is redeemed for a Saturday admission, it will not be valid for the Sunday admission.

Stephen Amell posted this message to Planet Comicon attendees: “Hey everybody… I feel awful. I can’t attend on Saturday because of an Arrow press event. I’m hopping on the red eye Saturday night to spend the day in Kansas City, Sunday. I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about this event and I will put forth my best effort on Sunday for all of you.”

Thank you for your enthusiasm about Planet Comicon. We look forward to seeing you in a few short days!

The post Saturday Only tickets can be used as Sunday Only tickets appeared first on Planet Comicon • Kansas City's Largest Comic Book and Pop Culture Convention.

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How to Be a Good Husband During "Ladytimes" (rerun)

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As always, thanks for using my Amazon Affiliate links (USUKCanada).

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‘Avengers 2’ Reveals ‘Wonderful Secrets’ About Hawkeye

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After the first Avengers came out, star Jeremy Renner was outspoken about his disappointment in the way Hawkeye was used in the film. Largely hypnotized by Loki for the duration, Renner felt Hawkeye got short shrift from Marvel. “To really kind of take away who that character is and just have him be this sort of robot, essentially, and have him be this minion for evil that Loki uses?...”

Renner wanted more out of Hawkeye in Age of Ultron, and it looks like he's getting it. Hawkeye is a much bigger part of the team this time around; “we’re all together a lot more,” Renner tells us. But, that doesn't really explain where Hawkeye, who was curiously absent from all of Phase 2 up until this point, has been for the past few years. When we asked director Joss Whedon if we will find out what Hawkeye was up to, he told us, “Yeah, We are. ‘Cause somethings up with that boy. That’s all I’m gonna say.”

We prodded Renner for some details, and he wouldn't divulge much, but did promise some “wonderful secrets” about Hawkeye's past, including his relationship with Black Widow. (Remember, she was wearing the Hawkeye “arrow” necklace in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.)

He also teases his new Stark Industries tech, being a “grump” and what exactly Hawkeye thinks when he sees Vision.

Read More From the Avengers 2 Set: Joss Whedon, Robert Downey, Jr. & Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans

How is Hawkeye involved in this one that’s different to the first Avengers?

It’s a lot of the stuff that Joss and I talked about to do in the first one, but it just didn’t work out that way. It’s really exciting for me and Joss to kinda dive into the character a little bit more. There’s some wonderful secrets and relationships deepen, and so there’s a lot more of him to deal with versus the hypnotized version of him.

Elizabeth Olsen said in this movie Hawkeye is a “delightful grump.” Can you talk about bringing in Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver and welcoming them into the Avengers?

Yeah, those are great characters. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are great characters, and my character and them have a lot to do together. They’re a little blurry on where they stand as far as good as bad and, which I appreciate, I guess. (laughs) But yeah, I think I’m sort of policing them to see if they’re worthy or not, I guess, of being good guys or bad guys. I question them a lot. (chuckles)

One of the biggest questions that came out of Captain America: The Winter Soldier was, “Where was Hawkeye?” Are we going to get a definitive answer to that question?

You’ll know in this movie, yeah, where he’s been. Yeah (laughs) you’ll know. It’s actually a really wonderful secret reveal. Yeah, it’s pretty awesome.

Can you talk about Hawkeye’s new weapons and the new costume?

Yeah, he’s got a coat 'cause we were fighting in the woods, so I guess he’s got this pretty cool coat (laughs). I can’t move in it, but it’s cool-looking at least. Yeah, there’s always new tech and different things. I don’t wanna get into any of that sort of stuff either, but, yeah, there’s some new costumes, new tech; got some new characters — new good guys, new bad guys. A lot more of us together in the movie as Avengers, which is I think there’s only once or twice that we had that, so that’s been quite fun. They’re long days to shoot, because there’s a lot of people to cover in a scene when you have like ten Avengers in a scene, but there’s a lot more about what I think worked in the first one. They’ll have that exponentially more in this one.

What was your reaction when you first got the script, and how much changed from when you first got it to what you’re actually filming?

I mean, the bones of it were always there and the script that we got was really solid and great, and then, as we go along, there’s more things we find and as in any movie, there’s just a lot. There’s so much to cover. I don’t know how Joss does it. All have to focus on is like small, little parts. Like I asked, “What the heck’s being built over there? I mean, I have no idea what’s going on (laughs). This world and the things going on in this movie are so vast and so many things going on. I think for the most part the script is what it was when we started, and you make minor adjustments here and there for clarity and, like I said, it’s a big, big movie.

By his nature, Hawkeye’s a very physical role. He was very involved in that final battle sequence without having the powers or tech of some of the others.

That’s the fun part.

How has that changed in this movie? Is it more physical? Does it still feel like you have to keep up with the other Avengers?

Yeah, I suppose I’ve done a lot of that stuff already. We still have a couple more sequences to go where it’s fun. You have to be a smart fighter when you don’t have the superpowers, you know, and that’s what makes him sort of super in a way, I guess. He has to use his mind as much as it his physical ability, and his ability to never miss. I still miss, but yeah, stay the distance and don’t miss.

Hawkeye seems very cynical and skeptical. How does he react to something like The Vision showing up?

He’s always very skeptical of new people. It’s a military kind of thinking in the sense of, “I have to trust that you have my six or that you have my back while I’m trying to manifest something up here. You have to work as a unit, as a team, otherwise we all fail or I die or somebody else dies.” So that’s where the skepticism comes in. It’s not just to be grumpy or not to like somebody. It’s all there for a reason, and that plays a lot in this movie.

Does he still have a strong connection to Black Widow for that reason?

Yeah, yeah, of course. They have a long, long history together and there’s more of that revealed in this as well.

Is he particularly skeptical of Scarlet Witch though, because he has to be burnt after having his mind controlled by Loki in the first movie?

Yeah, well, there’s a little bit of that, because that happens to people in the movie. I’m not giving away too much, but yeah, there’s animosity, I suppose, with any newcomer, good or bad.

The last few years has been especially kind to Hawkeye in the comic books. Is there any sense as you finish with this that Marvel is going to explore Hawkeye away from the Avengers?

I don’t know. I mean no. Well, I mean there’s always opportunity in the Marvel Universe to jump into a lot of different scenarios, but it only makes sense, I think, that just as an outsider, that Captain America, those sort of things, he fits into that world pretty well, because they’re similar in their military ideals. Like Hawkeye’s not in Thor. It’s hard to really imagine that, but they leave it pretty wide open for a lot of different venues, a lot of different scenarios to happen. I do not know the future. I’m just happy to be doing it now.

As a follow-up from earlier, how is Hawkeye dealing with the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. Obviously, this was an organization he was a huge part of not knowing it was rotten to the core?

For me, my take on it is, you know, it’s probably a good thing. He’s kind of a loner anyway. He’s a team player, only because he sort of has to be. He’s not really a company man. Cap can be that guy. Hawkeye is his own… again, a lot will be revealed with a few simple scenes. You’ll understand why he is and thinks the way he thinks. But yeah S.H.I.E.L.D., I don’t think, was ever really that important to him. Fury’s awesome. He likes Fury and will do anything for him, but a company man is just not him. He doesn’t punch in and punch out.

What is your own personal interest of being more involved in the Marvel Universe as Hawkeye outside the movies?

I think there was talk of having some of the guys go up and jump onto the TV show. I remember them mentioning something about that. There has to be a good rhyme or reason for it, and I like the character enough and anything to do to explore him more. I’m always open to it, 'cause he’s obviously not had a franchise of his own to really deeply explore who Hawkeye is. Yeah, I’d always like to explore the guy more. He’s an interesting character to me.

Does it conflict with what Joss is doing with the movies to have him in appear in things where they really have to keep it very tight?

When you blur the lines like that, you still don’t wanna cement yourself into a direction to where you kill somebody off. It’s hard to kinda bring that back. I mean they kinda did that with S.H.I.E.L.D. with Coulson who died in The Avengers, right? They try not to box themselves too much into those things, 'cause it leaves these options for them, and Feige is the puppetmaster behind all this, so I think they’re really smart about that stuff.

Talk about the vibe on set compared to the first film. Everyone’s having a lot of fun, and it feels like a more of a like a family unit. Was that how it’s been for you?

Yeah, absolutely. I mean I saw Downey like twice, I think, in the last Avengers, and this one, we’re all together a lot more. So that makes it really, really great, and also tedious when we shoot it, because there’s so many people to cover. And there’s so many storylines to tell, but it makes the off-camera stuff just so much more fun. I personally like to go to work and just knock out some action sequences and get it done and, and we do do that, but when we’re all together, it’s really great fun. It really is a wonderful family unit. It’s the best part of doing a big, crazy, action movie like this, which usually can be quite unfulfilling as an artist, but because all the people involved in this are so great, it makes coming to work every day really, really joyous.

In terms of the action, Chris Evans was talking about consciously really wanting to evolve Cap’s fighting style and seeing that happen.

Yeah, I think that’s still always trying to find that, and again, there’s new tech and new costumes and new things, and there’s always new abilities and new sort of things. For instance, if Hawkeye’s a distance guy, what happens when it’s up at close quarters? We did a little of that in the first Avengers, but having to use arrows just in hands and having to do different things like that. You know, be nimble and fly under people’s legs and you have to be clever with things. Clever fighting to me is what I like to explore a little bit more with that as well, and then using each other. Like if it was Cap and I and say Widow in the scene and how we can use each other’s abilities as teamwork. Say, he can toss me somewhere up higher, and that’s where these new characters are great, too, with the Scarlet Witch,you’ll find that her abilities are just being tapped into in this movie, and what they can be become. She’s still learning what they are, which is really cool, man. That to me as a nerdy, geeky dude about this world, that’s what I’m excited to kinda see what happens in the future, because that can be quite fun. Again, it happens a little bit in this, but I really want to explore more of that.

Did they tell you in advance before filming that you were gonna have some new arrows, or did sort of you arrive on set and they showed them to you?

Both. It’s both. It’s kind of like the bat belt for Hawkeye. He really has a lot of utility. And for writers to make this see, creative in any scenario, we gotta go. “Oh, wait. He has an arrowhead that does this and does that, but it’s still just the tip of an arrow. It can only do so much. But yeah, I got a couple new tech things that were pretty cool. I’m like, “Oh, I didn’t know I had that. Alright, that’s cool. That’s a cool one.” (chuckles)

Do you wanna tease us with one of the specifics?

No. (laughter) There’s a couple cool new ones though.

How has that been different, working with Joss Whedon on this movie?

Well, I’m seeing him a lot more, which is nice. I’ve known him since ’98 since I did “Angel” with him. Yeah, man, it’s great to dive into the character, and he’s just as excited as I am about finding who Hawkeye is. I remember the beginning of the movie, we were shooting the end of the movie as movies go, right? There was this moment — it’s more of a chatty bit for Hawkeye — and we realize, “Wait, well, we’re running out of time or doing all this action stuff,” and he’s like, “Let’s finish all the action. Maybe we can do the little talky back on stage or something.”

He was a little afraid, because this is the first time we really get to see his personality or what his sense of humor might be or who he really is. “I know, let’s think about it for a minute. Let’s play around with it and not have like thirty minutes and cement ourselves into something.” It’s been a lot of fun. I always feel good, because I know him so well. I know when he likes a take and he likes something, and it’s always been like one and a half takes and, “Okay we’re done. You got it.” When I get him smiling or laughing and he feels good and that’s a good feeling. I like making him happy, because I trust him. Even though I don’t know what I’m doing half the time, I’m like, “Really? Well, okay, I’ll do it.” And I’ll fight back on a few things (laughs). I know how to shoot a bow and arrow, but yeah, he’s great, man. We’ve had a lot of fun and he’s the mastermind behind all this stuff in these Avengers movies. They’re impossible to write. Impossible, but he does it and pulls it off.

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