Wednesday Videos: Avengers 2 Panel from San Diego Comic-Con

WednesdayVideoNot sure how long this video will stay up, but here’s the Avengers panel, from San Diego Comic-Con Hall H, filmed by magicinthenumbers.  I waited in line for 22 hours to see this and you can see it from your couch BUT I’M NOT BITTER.  No movie footage included in this.


Orphan Black at San Diego Comic-Con

logo for Orphan BlackI waited in line for six hours for this panel and it was worth every single minute.  This cast has tremendous chemistry together.  The panel was so much fun and also very moving.  One person said that Orphan Black had helped her come out of the closet and helped repair her relationship with her mother.  “You save lives” this person said, and Tatiana Maslany teared up, as did all of us.

Orphan Black Panel

Photo is blurry because I had shaky hands of excitement. There they are!

I don’t mean to sound delusional but I couldn’t help having the nagging feeling that only one of the lead actresses came to the panel.  Where were the other eight? Oh that’s right – THEY ARE ALL THE SAME PERSON.  If you’re not watching this show, seriously – you’re missing out.  It’s that good, and not just because of Maslany’s acting, although that is phenomenal.

al the clones So here’s some notes from the panel:

The panelists were:  Tatian Maslany (who plays the clones), Jordan Garavis (Felix), Maria Doyle Kennedy (Mrs. S, the character who is my personal guru), Dylan Bruce (Paul), Ari Millen (Mark), Kristian Brunn (Donnie), John Fawcett (co-creator), and Graeme Mason (co-creator).

  • Donnie got some of the biggest cheers of the panel.  He is clearly enjoying his character’s trajectory from “eating, farting Donnie” to “Have a SHITTY DAY” Donnie.
  • On the show, Paul is extremely wooden and blank, because he’s constantly hiding all his emotions and thoughts.  It’s a hoot to see Dylan Bruce in person, because he’s such a crack-up – he’s goofy and silly and seems to love his co-stars.
  • Dylan says that he has a “huge man crush” on Jordan Garavis (says Jordan, “Yes, it’s come up several times on set.  We try to handle it professionally”).  He hated doing the scene in which he gets Felix’s fingerprints on the gun.  “I really thought Paul would be irredeemable after that”, he said.
  • Tatiana Maslany handled a question about what the hell is wrong with the Emmy nominating committee with class, saying, “We are at a point in which television is extremely exciting…I feel extremely lucky to be in television at this point in history, making a show like this and in company with shows like that”.  The Clone Club presented her with a special award in lieu of an Emmy:  “The Best Actress in the World Award”.
best actress award

Another Clone Club member gave Tatiana the nesting dolls! Love those!

  • Maria Doyle Kennedy regarding the moment in which she pins her enemy to a table with a carving fork:  “I wasn’t invited to dinner anywhere for ages”.
  • Ari Miller’s character, Mark, was supposed to be killed by Paul in the bar scene.  According to Dylan, that’s how they were introduced: “Hey Dylan, this is Ari.  you’re gonna kill him”, and Dylan was all, “Sorry, man”.
  • Will we ever see more of Beth?  What’s with her back story?  According to Graeme and John, “Nothing is off the table.  We’re both fabulously interested in Beth’s story.  We think there’s probably a twist in Beth’s story that we haven’t heard yet.

Tatiana Maslany and Jordan Gavaris


  • The highlight of the panel was seeing how passionate Tatiana feels about the importance of portraying Tony.  Tatiana said, “I love Tony.  I would love to explore him further…he offers so much in terms of gender identity and expression.  He’s a guy I’ve never seen on-screen, and I was so excited by the conversations it prompted.  Maria Doyle Kennedy added that she’d like to have Mrs. S. spend some time with Tony, because Mrs. S. would understand his struggles with identity and “she needs to teach him table manners”.

Sarah and Tony

  •  During the audience Q&A, someone asked where Cosima’s parents are.  “Their daughter is seriously sick!”.   Graeme explained, “They’re out in Berkeley.  They’re a little disengaged”.  Tatiana added, “They don’t have a car, so they’re walking.  Really slowly”.
  • At this point a woman got up and made an incredible moving speech.  I’m transcribing from hand-written notes so please forgive any paraphrasing on my part. She said, “Before I started watching the show, I was really in the closet”.  she was inspired by seeing that Cosima was more than her sexuality.  She started watching the show with her mom and “It rebuilt our relationship because she could see that Cosima was more than her sexuality, and she was OK with that…What’s it like to know the effect you have on people’s lives?  You’re saving lives.  That’s what you did for me”.  Of course at this point everyone, including Tatiana, had tears in their eyes.  Jordan responded, “We like to be reductive in life.  I don’t know why.  We reduce people down to their sexuality or their diseases or their race or gender or whether they watch Game of Thrones.  But that is not who people are.  People are complex and diverse.  There are much more interesting things about you than your sexuality”.
  • On a lighter note, someone asked if we’ll see Jesse again.  John responded, “One of our favorite moments in Season Two was seeing Helena get a little romance…it would be really cool to do more with him.

Jesse and Helena

  •  Finally, Maria Doyle Kennedy was thanked for making a career of playing complex women and she said, “I think women are generally pretty amazing and I’m not interested in playing parts where I’m just an accessory for someone else’s actions.”  BECAUSE SHE’S AWESOME!

Quick Impressions From San Diego Comic-Con and Pics!

San Diego Comic Con logoYou guys, I am so overwhelmed.  Please forgive the many, many typos that are likely to occur in this post.  My plan was to post about Comic-Con today, tomorrow, and Wednesday.  It is now obvious that I will be writing about things from Comic-Con all year.  Here’s just a few of the things I want to write about:

  • The hunger for representation.
  • Many, many thoughts from the Women Who Kick Ass panel and the super heroines panel.  So much to think about and share.  Common thread – women are complex, women don’t have to be either all perfect or all evil, women can have their own stories, and women can take up space in the world and in their own lives.
  • The difference between Hall H, which made me an excited but passive consumer, and the smaller panels which made me feel inspired and excited about moving forward in my own life.
  • The complicated  relationships between fans and stars.
  • How we crave face to face connection despite the availability of social media.  Everyone knows that the panels from Hall H will be on YouTube a day later and yet thousands of us camp overnight so that we can be there in person.  On a smaller scale, I was thrilled to get to meet a couple of people who I knew from Twitter in person.
  • On a related note, I have so many people who I’d love to do interviews with, so watch for those in the next few weeks and months.

I was totally unprepared for how overwhelming five days at Comic-Con would be.  There are so many huge websites that post Comic-Con news the instant it breaks, so I’m going to use this blog to talk about what the experience of Comic-Con is like, how it is different yet similar to other conventions, and highlight some things that I know are of special interest to my readers.  Yes, I did make it into the Orphan Black Panel, you guys!  I waited for five hours and I did it for you!  And it was great!

Right now it’s late so I’m going to leave these pics here for you to enjoy and will blog more extensively (including posting more pics) over the next few weeks.

Here I am!

Here I am!

The Flash and Green Aroow

The Flash and Green Arrow

By the way, I got to see the pilot for The Flash.  It’s rough, like most pilots are.  I got the sense that most of the actors haven’t figured out their characters yet.  Barry Allen is adorable, ethical, and gifted with an abundance of common sense.  I adore him unreservedly.   I’d grade the pilot as a B- with lots and lots of promise to be a fantastic show.  Back to pics:


These cosplayers are probably very happy that Marvel announced that there will be a Guardians of the Galaxy 2!

These cosplayers are probably very happy that Marvel announced that there will be a Guardians of the Galaxy 2!

Of all the Thors I saw this week, male and female, she was the most Bad Ass of them all.

Of all the Thors I saw this week, male and female, she was the most Bad Ass of them all.

The real-life superheroes of Comic-Con.

The real-life superheroes of Comic-Con.

These people told me that they didn’t feel heroic  – they just felt tired (it was Sunday afternoon).  But they are actually saving lives, as are the thousands of people who donate blood at the annual blood drive every year.  They don’t just consume superhero stories – they live them.  Whether you donate blood, donate money, or donate time, find a way to make the world a better place.  Go to a protest, write a letter, volunteer someplace, mentor someone, hug a friend.  You don’t have to be Batman.  Do what works for you – but do something.

Your move, D.C.

Your move, D.C.

More tomorrow!


Book Review: The Adventures of Superhero Girl, by Faith Erin Hicks

cover of The Amazing Adventures of Superhero GirlThis is a short review of a short book that provided my daughter and I with intense pleasure.  The Adventures of Superhero Girl follows the exploits of twenty-something Superhero Girl who tries to juggle being a superhero with being broke (says one evil Ninja, “You know what REALLY pays!  CRIME!”), being awkward at parties, and feeling inferior to perfect big brother Kevin.  This is a collection of comic strips that ran in a newspaper and there’s not tons of plot, just stuff like this (if you click on the comic you can see it at a larger size):

strip from superhero Girl


and this:

The Adventures of Superhero Girl

and this:

Superhero girl at landromatThere are times when I want to write in great detail about something but with this comic, I think it’s best to show, not tell.  The tone is pretty uniform throughout the book so you should be able to tell, from these three samples, whether you’ll like the book or not.  I loved it.  Better yet, my ten-year-old daughter, who seems to think of reading during the summer as a gross injustice, was crazy about it.  She read the whole thing in a day and now she’s reading it again.  She made her Daddy and I read it.  She seems to be reading it to the dog, who is confused but enjoys the attention.  Her one criticism is that the word “crap”, which is the strongest word in the book, is “inappropriate”.  This is true, although I regret to inform you that it’s not like my daughter hasn’t heard that word before, from me, on several occasions.

I hope you all like Adventures of Superhero Girl as much as my daughter and I and my husband and the family dog have.  Author and illustrator Faith Erin Hicks has several books out and I’m off to check all of them out of the library!


San Diego Comic Con or Bust – And a Cry For Help!

San Diego Comic Con logoWe are on the way to Comic Con!  Car is full of cosplay, snacks, and monsters.  Will be posting about Comic Con next week and can’t wait to share stories with all of you!  I have a professional badge, one non-paying adult guest, one paying adult guest, and three children ranging from four to ten years old.  I have no idea what to expect given the crazy composition of our group but I’m very excited.  If something goes terribly wrong with registration, then I’ll be posting next week about the Comic Con scene of downtown San Diego.  For quicker updates, follow me on twitter at @geekgirlinlove or on Facebook.  I’ll be tweeting like crazy so follow along!


Now I have a problem.  The three shows that I most love (that are currently on the air) are:  Arrow, Sleepy Hollow, and Orphan Black.  Do they have panels?  Of course they do!  and the panels are, I kid you not – at the same time, on the same day, in different rooms.  I have to pick amongst my darlings.  I am dying here.

So help me out, GGL’s.  Should I go to the panel for:

Arrow Tv show logo

or should I stare adoringly at Tom Mison at the panel for:

logo for Sleepy Hollow

or should I go to the panel for my beloved:

poster for Orphan Black

Leave your answer in the comments.  I’ll do my best.


Friday Book Club is on Summer Vacation

SWT-Book-ClubsOur book club is taking a break in August, but it will return in September, proudly bearing the name:  “Between the Lines”.  This book club is both online and offline – comments are welcome here on the blog, and if you are in the Sacramento, California area you can come to an in-person meeting at the Arden-Dimick Library.  Here’s the schedule:

September 28:  The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck

October 26:  The Orphan Master’s Son, by Adam Johnson

November 16:  The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd

All meetings are at 2PM in the Community Room of Arden-Dimick Library, which is located at 891 Watt Ave, Sacramento, CA 95864.  See you in September!


Audre Lorde Reminds Us To Kick Ass and Take Naps

audre-lorde-portraitI had every intention of staying up really late to write a blog post and then getting up really early to do the other things I do, and then I came across this quote by the poet Audre Lorde:

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare”.

So I’m going to bed, y’all, as my way of fighting the powers that be.  I’ll fight them in a more alert state tomorrow.  What are you doing this summer to care for yourself?  Have you tasted any berries?  Dipped your toes in any natural bodies of water?  Are you using your sunscreen?  I hope you all get a chance this week to read a good book in a happy place!



The My Writing Process Blog Tour

woman at Victorian typewriterAnd now for something…completely different!  I was invited to participate in this writing process tour by Emmy Z. Madrigal.  Emmy Z. Madrigal is the author of the musical romance series, Sweet Dreams and the artist spin-off Anime Girl. Her love of music and the Jazz masters of the Big Band Era have always inspired her life and her writing. She also writes horror and vampire fiction under the name Emerian Rich. To find out more, go to

Emmy asked me to answer the following four questions:

1.  What am I working on?

I’m in the home stretch of completing my third book for Harlequin Pop!, It’s About Power:  Bella, Buffy, and Katniss Take on the World.  In this non-fiction book, I talk about three iconic female heroines and how they deal with power.  All three of them are attacked and threatened by individuals and by institutions, and the three women respond very differently and with very different outcomes.

The most challenging part of writing this has been trying to figure out what tools Bella Swan uses in Twilight.  Much of her power seems to stem simply from the fact that the author likes her.  There’s a disturbing message of passivity in Bella’s story, paired with an intoxicating message about the ability of an ordinary person to inspire adoration. I was also struck by the fact that Bella is the only one of the three women to achieve an unambiguously happy ending.  This is partly because she is also the only one of the three to have a simple goal that never changes.  At the start of their respective franchises, Bella’s goal is to be with Edward, Katniss’ goal is to protect her sister, and Buffy’s goal is to have a normal life.  Katniss and Buffy develop more complex goals.  Often they have multiple goals and their goals are in conflict with each other.  Bella never wavers in her focus on being with Edward.  While there are some other things that she wants, they are always secondary to her main goal.  This makes her successful in the sense of achieving happiness but frustrating to write about.

 2.  How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I write in a funny, approachable, conversational tone but I also include a lot of depth.  I want a reader to feel like they are hanging out with me in my living room while I wave my hands around and get all excited about feminism and literature and history and politics.  I want the reader to have fun.  But I also include in-depth analysis in my books.  I want my reader to come away from the experience with a lot to think about and I want the reader to look at material in a new way, or be willing to try something they haven’t tried before.

My two books to date for Harlequin Pop! (Pride, Prejudice, and Popcorn: TV and Film Adaptations of Pride and Prejudice  Wuthering Heights, and Jane Eyre and Romance in Buffy the Vampire Slayer) are both works of literary and film criticism.  My online writing for Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and Geek Girl in Love involves a lot of reviewing.  It’s important to me that my reviews be honest and tough, but at heart I’m a huge fan.  Since I don’t write fiction, I have a huge appreciation of the courage and imagination of people who do.  Your worst fiction is better than my best fiction, which is nonexistent.  I want to convey a love of art and of artists in everything I do, even when I’m pointing out the flaws in a specific work of art.  I think that this passion for art, both written and visual, is the strongest part of my work.


3.  Why do I write what I do?

When I find something I love, I become an evangelist for that thing, and when I find something I hate, I want to understand why it was created in the way it was.  A good book brings me joy, and it makes me feel excited to share that joy with others.  There’s nothing as satisfying as matching a book to their perfect reader.  I also love examining the layers in a a book (or TV show or film).  I love how something like Pride and Prejudice is a romance, a political tome, a satire, a social commentary, a romantic comedy, and horror, all at once.  I love how stories challenge us to see through other perspectives and grasp an experience that is both different and similar to our own.  It’s not surprising to me that Buffy the Vampire Slayer makes me emphasize with a vampire slayer but astonishes and delights me that it makes me empathize with a girl who longs to be a cheerleader.

I’m also increasingly interested in using my writing as a way to let other voices be heard.  My favorite features on Geek Girl in Love are my interviews with other people.  The world is full of so many voices and I want to help share the voices that are most often marginalized (people of color, people with disabilities, and people who identify as LGBTQIA).  As I’ve made a more conscious effort to read diverse authors I’ve discovered so many exciting books – and we’re back to me being a book evangelist again!

vampire heart on a black background

4. How does my writing process work?

Inefficiently!  I’m usually writing either late at night or during the afternoon, surrounded by kids.  I’m convinced that buried in at least one of my books is the phrase, “No, you can’t have a cookie right now”.  I’ve written at roller skating rinks and science centers and water parks.  I’ve written at my kitchen table while simultaneously helping my daughter with her homework.  It’s not serene.  To make matters worse, I have a terrible habit of jumping over to Facebook and Twitter constantly while writing.  I have an app that I can use to block social media on my laptop, and that helps me focus.

Other than my problems with concentration, the biggest challenge I have is getting started.  No matter how much I’ve written something out in my head, there’s always a moment when I open a new document and both the page and my mind are utterly blank.  Once I type something I can usually get some momentum going.  Once I got so blocked that I typed the alphabet – sure enough by the time I got to the letter ‘M’ I was able to make actually words come out.  I enjoy writing short pieces because they usually come with tight deadlines, and I require deadlines to motivate me to move writing to the top of the to-do list instead of the bottom.  When I don’t have externally imposed deadlines I invent some in order to keep things moving.

Friday Book Club: Temple Grandin Speaks!

SWT-Book-ClubsWelcome to book club!  This month we have been discussing Animals in Translation, by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson.  Join us in person on Sunday, July 13, 2014!  We will be at Arden Dimick Library in Sacramento at 2PM for the Arden Dimick Book Club, so if you live in the Sacramento area, come on by!

Temple Grandin is an inspiring speaker.  You can find full speeches of hers on YouTube, many of which are over an hour long but well worth the time.  Here’s two quick clips to get us in the book club mood. 

The first clip is a ten minute long interview with Temple during which she talks about her upbringing, the challenges she thinks this generation will face, her struggles with sensory overload and anxiety, and how educators can best serve autistic kids.

In the last clip, Temple talked a little bit about the HBO movie based on her life.  Here’s a clip in which Claire Danes, who plays Temple, speaks up at a meeting of autistic parents:

See you on Sunday!

Wednesday Videos: Orphan Black Rocks Out

WednesdayVideoIt breaks my heart that I could not find an actual clip of Helena singing, “Sugar, Sugar” in Orphan Black, but here’s the next best thing – a fan video of Helena’s love affair with food by fan DogOFood.  This video contains footage through Season Two, Episode Six so if you are spoiler-phobic and not caught up yet, best avoid.  I was totally traumatized by Episode Five and so grateful for all the funny moments in Episode Six.  Go watch Orphan Black y’all – it’s on iTunes and available on DVD soon!

Oh, my gosh, you guys.  Amy Brooke put together this one about Cosima and Delphine.  I’m not even a big Cosima/Delphine shipper (I’m watching you, Delphine, you sneak) and it made me cry like a baby.  No making Cosima sad!  Stop that right now!

OK, that was painful, so here’s my spirit animal Alison, singing “I’m a Bitch” in the car.  You go, Alison!  You tell ’em!  This video contains cuss words, obviously.  I can’t even express how much I love Alison and how many happy hours I myself have spent singing “Bitch” in my car.

I only have four episodes of Season Two left!  What will I do until Season Three?

An Interview With Mark Oshiro: Part II

Mark OshiroWelcome to the second part of my interview with Mark Oshiro, of “Mark Reads”, “Mark Watches”, and “Mark Plays”.     Last week Mark talked about how he started “Mark Reads” with his series “Mark Reads Twilight”.  In this interview, we talk about his thoughts on diversity and his essay, “Parched”, that he wrote for Invisible, an anthology about the importance of diverse representation in fiction.

In “Parched”, you talk about not feeling represented in science fiction and fantasy.  Do you still feel drawn to those genres, and if so, why?

I always was interested in those genres as a kid, long before I knew there was a fandom.  I knew there was a fandom for The X-Files because I was super into the X-Files.  I didn’t know there was a larger fandom for the general genre.  I didn’t go to my first convention until I was in my twenties.

In terms of the general genre – the books and movies – I always had an interest in the supernatural, so I liked The X-Files and the Twilight Zone.  I liked fantasy because it was such a huge escape for me.  I grew up in a super conservative part of Southern California.  Even if I didn’t see myself in the genre, it was still fun to imagine that I could go on adventures.  Part of the problem I had growing up was that I lived in a bubble.  My parents were extremely strict, so they didn’t let me go out of the house, I wasn’t allowed to have friends over, I wasn’t allowed to go to other people’s houses.  So fantasy and sic-fi was my chance to imagine what adventures I would go on if I could leave the house.

YA [Young Adult] was particularly important to me because the characters were close to my age range.  It was a lot easier to project myself into something like that than to project myself into something like Stephen King or Heinlein, because those characters were a bit older.  I was always more Sci-Fi than Fantasy.  I like the idea of using our world to explain another one and using things we’ve learned about our world in order to invent other ones.  It’s always been easy for me to write science fiction.

If you could adapt any book into a film, and you have total control over the script and the casting, what would you adapt into film and who would you cast?

My initial answer with no hesitation is to remake His Dark Materials because The Golden Compass was a disaster, and hearing how much the studio changed everything that Chris Weitz wanted to do is very frustrating.  That trilogy is my favorite thing I’ve ever read for “Mark Reads” hands down.

I’d love to do Tamora Pierce’s Tricksters Series, because that series is almost entirely compassed of people of color.  And it has such a great story.  And it’s uncomfortable.  Casting?  Oh My God.  I have no idea!

Can you talk a little bit more about the gap you refer to in your essay between the white dystopian future and the dystopian present that you already experience?

There’s a writer whose name I can’t remember who was talking about the omission of people of color from dystopias.  They stated that there’s a problem when you don’t write people of color in dystopias novels because you are implying that these people are not in the future.  Someone made this point about The Handmaid’s Tale, which I enjoyed as much as you can enjoy something that is one of the most disturbing stories ever written.  And yeah I was like twenty pages in and I went, “Everyone’s white!  Where are all these other people!  And there are vague hints that there’s this other place.  But when you don’t explain that, and you don’t include any other parts of the world – when I read that, all I can think is that you’ve killed them all off!  If they were all killed, then not having that addressed in the text becomes distracting.  It becomes like the controversy around The Thirteenth Child  by Patricia Wrede.

cover of The Thirteenth Child

Basically Patricia Wrede wrote The Thirteenth Child as a fantasy set in a version of the United States in which megafauna still exist.  I don’t know her intentions, but in the book none of the native peoples of America exist.  They’re all written out.  They never happened.  It’s very creepy.  I understand that it’s challenging to write about something that you’re not.  But to approach it as “They’re just gone” – there’s too much history in our country of wiping people out and not including them.  I think with dystopian fiction the problem is more glaring because you’re talking about a vision of the future in which things are awful.  But if your vision of the future is not addressing something that is very real and is already happening, it feels disingenuous to me.

This whole concept is actually playing a humongous part in the novel that I’m working on right now, which is essentially a pre-dystopian trilogy.  Because I wanted to address this idea that people of color have to deal with systemic issues that – well, it’s not that our lives are awful as marginalized people.  We all find ways to find joy and enjoy ourselves.  But when you face systemic issues you feel like you are living in these awful alternate futures that are described in these books.  I wanted to write a book that not only openly addressed that but also featured all of these characters.  Of course there’s a larger question of diversity in general, which is why the community in general should be asking themselves why so many of these books are purposely skewed towards one demographic.  It’s an uncomfortable question, and it has uncomfortable answers, but I don’t think that’s a reason why we shouldn’t ask it.  From that uncomfortableness so many things can be born of it.

On how including diverse characters makes for better writing:

I think the thing that bothers me the most about it is that it’s not like we’re talking about policy.  We’re talking about people who are creative, who are writers, who create worlds, who are constantly faced with  roadblocks in their own writing, where they hit plot holes or they get stuck or they get writer’s block.  Writers constantly have to adapt to those things. So I don’t understand how, when you’re faced with issues of representation and diversity, writers don’t see them as the same thing.  This is a challenge.  This is a way for me to write better, to fix problems. Instead it’s viewed as censorship.  But would you say that writing a plot hole and having someone tell you need to fix it is censorship?  No!  It’s not!  Also, usually, people who say sort of thing don’t understand what censorship is.  I think authors need to see this as a challenge to make your work better, to make your world better.

If you’re  complaining about how hard it is – well, how hard is good world building?  How hard is doing research to capture a historical event?  These are things that incredibly difficult, and it doesn’t make sense to me to suddenly say, “Oh, this one thing is so incredibly difficult, I’m not touching it”.  Why?  Why that one thing?  That, to me, seems less of “It’s difficult” and more of “I don’t want to do it”.

Whenever I talk about race or sexuality in my reviews, I always get a response of “Well, what do you want people to do?  Do you want everyone in the story to be a queer person?  Do you want everyone to be a person of color?”  And you’re not asking the reverse question, which is “Why is everyone straight?  why is everyone white?”  Also, what’s the problem with having everyone be a person of color?  Then I get a response of “More diversity would be unrealistic” and my response is, “Where are you going in the world where that’s not happening?”

I’ve been reading a series on YouTube called Rivers of London.  The books are super diverse.  It’s great.  I get comments all the time, “Oh, he just added that character in to be diverse”.  And I’m all, “No, that person is affecting the story – and also, Hey!  Have you not been to London lately?”  Honestly, it shocked me when I went to London for the first time last year, and maybe one out of every five people was white.  I said, “This is not the London I see on television”.  Same thing when I went to Toronto.  There are immigrants everywhere!  How are you creating these world, whether in books or on television, that don’t include these people?

London crowd

Busy Boxing Day Sales Shopping Crowd in London

History’s Hidden Heroes: Dr. Patricia Bath

Dr. PAtricia BathTime for my favorite blog feature – History’s Hidden Heroes, where we talk about scientists who may not get the recognition they deserve, especially outside of their field.  This month we are talking about Dr. Patricia Bath.  If you’ve had cataracts, and you’ve had those cataracts treated, you can think Dr. Bath for saving your eyesight. Patricia Bath, an opthamologist, was the first African-American female doctor to patent a medical invention.  Her patent was for the Cataract Laserphaco Probe.  This terrifyingly named device was a method to remove cataracts from people’s eyes.  Dr. Bath owns four patents and also developed new strategies of delivering eye care to underserved populations.

Dr. Bath was born in Harlem in 1942.  Her parents encouraged her academic career.  While serving as a fellow at Columbia University, she began a life-long campaign to bring eye care to poor patients and to people of color who were often not receiving the same care as whites.

It seemed that at the Eye Clinic at Harlem Hospital, half the patients were blind or visually impaired. In contrast, at the Eye Clinic at Columbia . . . there were very few obviously blind patients. That observation fueled [a] passion . . . to conduct a retrospective epidemiological study . . . which documented that . . . blindness among blacks was double that [among] whites. I reached the conclusion that the cause for the high prevalence among blacks was due to lack of access to ophthalmic care. This conclusion led me to propose a new discipline, known as Community Ophthalmology, which is now operative worldwide.

The Laserphaco method and technology that Dr. Bath developed has restored sight to people who had been missing it for decades.You can find more about Dr. Bath, including more amazing quotes, at  Here’s the concluding quote from the Smithsonian webpage:

While her career has been marked by many “firsts” as a scientist, a woman, and an African-American, she looks forward to the day when a person’s work will speak for itself. “Hopefully, our society will come to that point. Sometimes I want to say to people, just look at my work. . . . I’ve had technological obstacles, scientific obstacles, and obstacles being a woman. Yes, I’m interested in equal opportunities, but my battles are in science.”



Friday Book Club: Animals in Translation, by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson

SWT-Book-ClubsWelcome to our July Book club – every week in July we’ll be discussing Animals in Translation, by Temple Grandin. This online book club goes hand in hand with an in-person book club that meets monthly at Arden Dimick Library.  In May, June, and July we read books that had to do with animals, in keeping with the “Paws to Read” Summer Reading Program at Sacramento Public Library.  Our previous books were The Call of the Wild, by Jack London, and  The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.

Join us in person on Sunday, July 13, 2014!  We will be at Arden Dimick Library in Sacramento at 2PM for the Arden Dimick Book Club.  

Temple Grandin is a women with autism who has become famous for her work in making slaughterhouses more humane.  As she became well-known for being able to figure out was bothering animals (often a very small thing, as when she describes a herd of cattle being spooked by a white plastic water bottle on a dark brown dirt floor) she became asked to consult in many areas of the animal food industry as well as zoos.  Temple has an interesting attitude towards her work.  She loves animals but has no problem with them being used for food.  what she objects to is their being made to endure fear, anxiety, or pain.  “I think using animals for food is an ethical thing to do, but we’ve got to do it right.  We’ve got to give those animals a decent life and we’ve got to give them a painless death.  We owe the animals respect”.

Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin suggests that her success with animals is directly tied to her autism, because both animals and people with autism tend to focus on detail.  When Temple is asked to visit a facility and explain why the pigs won’t move through a chute, she gets down on all fours in the chute and tries to perceive what the pig would notice.  In this example it was sparkles of light reflecting off the wet floor that was scaring the pigs, a problem that wwas solved by adjusting the lighting.  She’s able to hone in on small details that most people take for granted as we incorporate the detail into a bigger picture.  “Autism made school and social life hard, but it made animals easy”.

Temple Grandin has gone from being unable to speak (until the age of four) to being a renewed expert on animal behavior and rights for people with autism.  Many of her books focus on animals but several focus more exclusively on her experiences with autism, including Thinking in Pictures:  My Life With AutismThe Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism and Aspergers; and The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum.  She has a PhD in Animal Science.

Temple Grandin has become not only an animal welfare advocate but powerful advocate for people with autism.  while she recognizes that some forms of autism are terribly debilitating, she is adamant that we should not ignore the fact that autism can confer some advantages:

“In an ideal world the scientist should find a method to prevent the most severe forms of autism but allow the milder forms to survive. After all, the really social people did not invent the first stone spear. It was probably invented by an Aspie who chipped away at rocks while the other people socialized around the campfire. Without autism traits we might still be living in caves.”

― Temple GrandinThinking in Pictures, Expanded Edition: My Life with Autism

If you want to learn about Temple Grandin’s life, you can turn to the biopic from HBO which starred Claire Danes: Temple Grandin.  Here’s a trailer: