April Books Wrap Up | BookTube

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome to my wrap up for April books. This month, I read 13 books, but five were graphic novels. Let’s get right into it!

The first book I read this month was also the first of a new book club specifically for signers. If you’re interested, I’ll leave a link for their Instagram down below. The book we read was A Woman Is No Man. This mainly follows two different perspectives in two different times, Isra in 1990 and Deya in 2008. This is a story about Palestinian-American women who have experienced heavy oppression by their culture. Isra lived in Palestine until an arranged marriage had her moving to the US to live with the Ra’ad family. She saw this as an opportunity for a fresh start and freedom. Deya lives in her grandparents’ house in Brooklyn, dreaming of going to college. Her grandmother is insisting she get married first, and brings suitor after suitor, attempting to arrange a marriage. Isra struggles with the expectations placed on her to bear a child, especially a son. She has four daughters and no sons, so faces a lot of judgment from her community for “failing” her family. Deya struggles with the expectations that women are supposed to be good wives, keep house, bear children, and not be interested in things like college or working. As this goes on, we see how Isra and Deya are connected. We also get some of the grandmother’s perspective, which is also her struggling with her culture’s expectations for women. First, I’m obviously white, masculine-presenting, and US-born so I definitely do not share any of this experience. With that, I did enjoy this read. I’ve read several Muslim stories that have talked about the cultural views on women, some positive, some negative. This really went hard on it though, it didn’t hold back on “airing dirty laundry” and told it as it is for some people living with that experience. There is some abuse, and a brief scene of nonconsensual sex. Overall, this is good, but not easy to read. I want to quickly mention a quote I really liked from this. “She thinks about the stories stacked across the shelves, leaning against one another like burdened bodies, supporting the worlds within each other.” I thought that this was a beautiful way to describe a library and all of its books.

Next, I wanted something light and funny so I read something that I found on NetGalley, Ghosted in LA Vol 1. This book is out now! Daphne graduates high school and moves to L.A. for college, following her high school boyfriend. When she arrives, she finds a rude roommate and gets dumped by her sweetheart. Lost and alone, she’s wandering the streets sobbing her heart out when she runs into a light pole and notices a big old mansion, Rycroft Manor. Out of curiosity, she goes in and encounters ghosts! After the initial panic, she negotiates with them, and gets her own room in the mansion. Supernatural hijinks ensue! I enormously enjoyed this supernatural romp in Los Angeles! I loved the illustrations in this, the art is just gorgeous. The representation in this is great too with a bi/pan Jewish main character and several side characters that are queer. I’m definitely looking forward to the upcoming volumes, because in this, the focus was on introducing the characters, the backstories of each ghost, so the worldbuilding suffered a little for that. I can’t wait to learn more about how they came to be at Rycroft, a bit more about how the supernatural works, and their adventures together.

I was still in the mood for light reads so I went for a re-read of Bloom. This is an adorable story of two boys who meet because of a bakery. Ari’s family owns the bakery which is in a little coastal town, and he’s been working there his whole life. He wants to get out of town though, to the big city with his band. Ari’s trying to find a replacement, and one day Hector walks into the bakery and changes his life. I just love this cute queer story, and definitely would recommend it. The whole thing is in a gorgeous blue monochrome like the cover, and the illustrations of the food is amazing. I want this bakery to be a real place!

After a couple of light reads, I went on a N.K. Jemisin binge. I started this binge with How Long ’til Black Future Month? which is a collection of short stories Jemisin’s written over the years. A few of them went on to become full-length stories that are currently out. I love being able to see that part of someone’s process, what started as something little, a small idea that grew into something much bigger. For example, Stone Hunger is what eventually became The Fifth Season. There were some fundamental basics that were changed for the full-length novel, which I think were appropriate! But I liked seeing what Jemisin started with. Another one is The City Born Great, which became her most recent release, The City We Became. I haven’t read the full-length book yet, I have it on hold at my library. But! What I read in the short story made me even more excited to read the book. I know I haven’t really described any of the stories, but it’s so hard when they’re short stories and there’s so many of them. Instead, I’ll list a few of the ones that really stuck out to me. L’Alchimista, The Effluent Engine, Cloud Dragon Skies, The Trojan Girl, On the Banks of the River Lex, and Non-Zero Probabilities. Many of these are available online to read as stand-alones. I’d definitely recommend reading this collection!

Then I read the next two books in The Broken Earth trilogy, The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky. Since they’re the second and third in this series, I obviously can’t say too much without accidentally spoiling the first book. But I will say that the stakes get even higher, and it’s *so* worth the hype! If you like apocalyptic worlds with a touch of fantasy and science fiction, this is definitely a read to check out.

I decided I wanted to do a re-read of Red, White, & Royal Blue,in part because of where our world is today. This is like an alternate reality that I wish existed. In this universe, a white woman won the 2016 election for president. Her children are mixed race, and her son, Alex Claremont-Diaz, is bisexual. Of course, he doesn’t know this until later on. Alex is at the wedding of British royalty and causes an international incident with Prince Henry of Wales, his long-time rival. They’re forced to pretend they’re best friends and it was just a big misunderstanding. They eventually realize they actually have quite a lot in common, quickly falling into a romance that they struggle to keep hidden. This is just a wonderful hate-to-love story, and I *need* more people to read this! These two disaster boys are so adorable, and I live for their relationship.

Next was my book club’s second book, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed. This is a memoir of a therapist, which is kind of obvious from the title. One day, Lori Gottlieb’s working with her patients as usual. The next, her life turns upside down and Lori realizes she needs a therapist for herself, and finds one in Wendell, a quirky and experienced therapist. While she learns the innermost parts of her patients—who include a self-centered Hollywood producer, a newlywed with a terminal illness, a senior who decided she’s going to end her life if things don’t get better by her birthday, and a twenty-something woman who keeps hooking up with the wrong guys—they make her wrestle with some of the same questions for herself in her own therapy. Lori doesn’t just talk about her patients, but also talks about her own life and how she arrived to therapy much later in her life. This was after being a TV writer on ER, deciding to pursue a medical career, while writing at the same time, until an advisor suggested she do psychotherapy. Lori was much more interested in the “helping people” part of the medical field anyway, so this is how she finally became a therapist. I enjoyed seeing inside a therapist’s head while she sat with her patients and worked with them on their problems. I thought this was an interesting read. Not blow-away-amazing, but interesting for sure.

I was browsing Hoopla to find something easy and quick to use up my remaining borrows for the month, and I spotted this book, I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf. Of course, I had to read it! This is simply a love letter to bookworms, people who love books in all forms. It’s full of one or two page comics that explore bookishness in various forms. There are comics about reading spots, treatment of books, progression of reading habits, and so many more. It did get a little repetitive at times, and some were pretty stereotypical, but again this is short comic form so it’s hard to cram a lot into a small space. If you love books in any way, you’ll probably enjoy this quick read.

Still on Hoopla, I was looking for graphic novels to read, and I found Legend of Korra: Turf Wars. I read all three parts so I’ll sum them up together. This is set immediately after the TV series ends, where Korra and Asami are on a short vacation in the Spirit World. When they come back, they find Republic City in chaos with political scheming going on and human/spirit conflict. A snooty developer wants to turn the new spirit portal into an amusement park, angering the spirits. The triads are shifting and fighting over territory, while evacuees are clamoring for homes. There’s a new bid for the presidency, a kidnapping and sojourn into the Spirit Wilds, and of course, bending fights. I will always relish a chance to get back into this world and learn more about it. The illustrations are amazing, and the story arcs are engaging. One thing that did disappoint me was that these were SO short, or felt like it. I kept feeling like I wanted more story, more depth. I did enjoy this though! I also read the next trilogy of Korra graphic novels, but I read them in May so *clicks* you gotta wait. One more thing I want to add. Korra and Asami are for sure in a relationship. They’re a queer couple. I’m thrilled about that. They actually have more characters that are shown as queer. They couldn’t do it for the TV show, because… You know. Networks don’t like letting queer people be visible. Anyway.

Finally, the last book I read this month was Little Secrets which was a free copy I received from Minotaur Books for a review. This is a mystery thriller about Marin Machado who has the perfect life—married to her college sweetheart who has his own company, and she owns a chain of fancy hair salons. Then it’s turned upside down when their young son, Sebastian, is taken from her. There’s a huge hunt for him, but the trail goes cold and we meet Marin again a year later, where she’s a shadow of her former self. She clings to hope that Sebastian can be found, and she’s hired her own private investigator to keep up the search. The PI happens to discover that Derek’s having an affair on her with a young artist and grad student, McKenzie Li. Kenzie is deep in debt, but she’s also a professional girlfriend. She knows Derek is rich, and uses the perks that comes with dating him. He’s not the first, but she’s falling for him and that was never the plan. When Marin finds out about the affair, rage gets her going again. This is a problem she can *fix* and sets a plan in motion. The blurb gives away a thing that we don’t really learn until muuuuch later in the story, so I would suggest you avoid reading it if you want to keep the suspense. I think that might have ruined the tension for me a bit, though I kind of enjoyed this? I gave it a three out of five stars, not because it’s bad or good, but because I had mixed feelings about it. This was more focused on Marin and Kenzie, the whole affair, rather than the mother and her missing son. Sure, it’s a part of the story and the grief plays a big part in Marin and Derek’s behavior—even though I never liked Derek, and would have left him a long time ago. But this was definitely more about the affair and Marin’s actions to end it to preserve her perfect rich white lady life. Honestly, I don’t really care for stories like that. I felt more for Kenzie, who was struggling with being able to afford school while paying for care of her sick mother. Yeah, being a professional girlfriend and taking advantage of married rich men is gross, but she’s doing it to survive. #millennialproblems. Just so you know, there are zero “good” characters in this book. Some are still likable, but none of them are great or perfect. I saw several of the twists coming from miles off, one of them because it was given away in the blurb. So yeah, I clearly have very mixed feelings about this.

All in all, a pretty good month of reading! There were some fantastic books that I’d happily re-read. Have you read any of these? Leave it in the comments, or books that you would recommend.

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made a one-time donation to my Ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

English Idioms in ASL

Note: I’m talking about ASL signs using English words to explain. In this post, I’m expanding on what I say in the video because you don’t have the same visuals. I do my best to make it clear how things are signed, but it’s not perfect.

Hello and welcome! As you know from the title, we’ll be discussing idioms today. As a deaf interpreter—and this applies to hearing interpreters as well— this is one of those things you have to understand well to be able to accurately interpret into ASL. I want to emphasize here that I’m talking about English idioms being interpreted into ASL. I’ll go through a few examples, but what I personally would do is generally sign what the idiom means and not the words. You’ll see as we go through them. Deaf people are often more direct and say what they mean. They don’t use too many metaphors or idioms. Most of the ones I’m talking about today are suggestions I got from my Instagram. There were a few in there that aren’t originally English, or ones more like slang not idioms. I have a list of more, so I might do more than one video, let me know if that’s something you’re interested in! I’ll stop talking and get to it.

Cat got your tongue? Obviously, this doesn’t really work for people like me. Something biting your tongue, I don’t use my tongue for talking. I interpret this simply as, Basically saying what’s wrong? But more concise. (This particular sign doesn’t necessarily mean “what’s wrong,” it can also be used to ask someone what’s up with them.)

Adding insult to injury. That was really English in how I just signed. I will be doing that for a lot of these idioms, so you know what I’m talking about. But really, even if I signed that phrase, how I sign it in ASL would be [finish injured, on top insult]. An example of how it tends to show up in ASL: My boss asked me to work longer hours. Even worse, they won’t pay me more money.

Heard through the grapevine. This really depends on if you’re talking about more of a sharing of information or rumors. If it’s just information, it tends to be signed a little more literal. [heard multiple times and moving around] Or if it’s about rumors, it’ll be [rumor repeated while moving in a large circle].

Information
Rumor

I want to add a few other similar phrases. Spread like wildfire. In ASL, you would sign it like [spread but moving extremely fast and one rapid motion with a sudden stop at the end].

Another one that’s used specifically in ASL only, I’m not sure how to interpret to English. I’ve seen people use this, [rumor handshapes, non-dominant hand staying in place, dominant hand moving in a quick circle, opening up as it moves away from the ND hand and closing as it touches the ND hand]. It’s like rumors, but moving very quickly in a circle.

Raining cats and dogs. That’s a really awkward phrase to sign, and I don’t sign it myself so I’m tripping up on signing that. Really, in ASL, we just show how serious the rain is. Regular rain is well, signed normally. Light rain is signed with shorter and quicker downward motions. Mist (or drizzle) is signed with all of the fingers wiggling in short downward motions along with a mouth morpheme to emphasize the smallness of it. For this phrase: [raining hard, pouring, hard rain]. It’s that simple.

A perfect segue into the next one, piece of cake. This just means something reallyyyy easy. In ASL, I would sign this, [nothing]. It can mean “that’s easy” or it can mean “oh, that’s nothing!” Really nothing. We have several meanings for that sign [nothing].

When pigs fly. This really means sure, that thing will not happen. It’ll never happen. Usually, deaf people’s response to that kind of statement would be: suuuuuuure. Or sure, sure, sure, sure. It tends to be more about the facial expressions than the words themselves.

Out of the blue. It means something unexpected. I would sign this a little bit different, it might depend on context, but I can’t think of examples of why I would sign one way over the other. There’s two ways I sign this. [punch] or [random]. I think [punch] would be more of a thing that happens to me and [random] might be something weird happening there. More of an outside thing, happening to someone else, or happening to a group of us.

Think outside of the box. Meaning think creatively, think differently. How to interpret to ASL… You could still use the box example, like: [staying the box, jump out, think different]. Or I would do: [think same-same, stop, go random].

Up in the air. It means waiting for something, don’t know, etc. ASL can sum this up into one simple sign: [????] That’s many questions marks. You make the shape of a question mark with your index finger for a normal question, but with this you make the question mark with all of your fingers.

Mountain out of a molehill. This is making a big deal out of a really small problem. ASL signs: [increasing chaos, really it’s little]. “Chaos” is not the best word to explain that sign. People will sometimes use the claw handshapes next to each other, rotating in small circles, to represent tension between two entities. Rotating it and moving it away from the non-dominant hand changes it into essentially, tension or something that started small that gets bigger and bigger.

That’s all for today! Let me know of more idioms you’d like to see, or what your favorite idiom is.

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made a one-time donation to my Ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Round 5 Announcement | Queer Lit Readathon

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome! Today, we’re announcing round FIVE of the Queer Lit Readathon. It feels strange to be saying that, but it’s great! As always, Kathy and I are co-hosting this and as always, we have a guest co-host. But this time around, it’s two! Rebecca and Sarah from the Tea Hags will be joining us for this round, so give them a warm welcome.

Tangent – if you are interested in being a co-host for this, our criteria are that you yourself are queer and you caption your videos, because accessibility is important. Let’s get back to the announcement!

This will be happening May 31 through June 6, Sunday to Saturday. You can do this in the timezone of your choosing. As we do every round, we have sixteen challenges for you to choose from. We have a beautiful bingo board of all the challenges. You do not have to do them all or even make a bingo! You can read as little or as much as you want. You are allowed to use one book for multiple challenges. Kathy and I both like to aim for a blackout of the board, but that’s just us book nerds. Okay, let’s go through the challenges shall we? Of course, all of these must have a queer main character or revolve around queer topics.

  1. Read a backlist title. This would be a book two years or older.
  2. Group Read – This is What it Feels Like by Rebecca Barrow
  3. Read a book about queer friends
  4. Choose Your Own Category – tell us what it is in your TBR
  5. Read a book with a female protagonist over 40
  6. Read a book that gives you summer vibes
  7. Read a book with a sports theme
  8. Read a book of poetry by a queer author
  9. Read a non-coming out story
  10. Read a graphic novel
  11. Read a book that has a cover that is mainly a color from the rainbow
  12. Read a book recommended by a host
  13. Read a book with a bisexual/pansexual MC
  14. Read a book with a disabled MC
  15. Read a nonfiction book
  16. Read a 5 Star Prediction

There are sure to be a few challenges you’ll love! If you have trouble finding books that fit any of these challenges, both Kathy and I have recommendation videos which I’ll link below. Also, as this round approaches, we will be posting recommendations from each host on our Instagram, @queer_lit, for each challenge. So you will easily be able to meet the challenge of a book recommended by a host. We will all be posting our personal TBR videos a week before the readathon begins, on May 22nd. So if you’re curious what we all will be reading, keep watching for those!

If you decide to make your own TBR video, a reading vlog, or a wrap up afterwards, it would be much appreciated if you captioned those. I would love to be able to watch all the amazing queer books y’all read! When you post anything related to this readathon, you can tag us on Instagram and Twitter using @queer_lit and use the hashtag #queerlitread.

I know this is a lot of information in one video, which is why you can find all of this information PLUS a FAQ here on my website, roganshannon.com/queer-lit-read/ which will be linked down below of course. Be sure to go check out Kathy and the Tea Hags for their videos! That’s all I have for this announcement, and I hope to see you joining us this week!

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made a one-time donation to my Ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

My recommendations video: https://youtu.be/upp-ucTLmdU

Kathy’s recommendations playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLc67yFXHFDCbcpRyx60HhS0xjx3ogb-eF

Patreon Revamp!

ARE YOU READY?

Hello, and welcome! I’m excited to be announcing my revamped Patreon today. I’m going to keep this post simple: What is Patreon? What tiers do I have? What are other ways you can support me?

What is Patreon? At its core, it’s crowdfunding for creators of all kinds. I’m able to get paid monthly for creating things I’m already creating, these videos! This is a way for you to join my community and support me in making the stuff you enjoy.

I have tiers starting at as little as $1, going up to $10. Each of these tiers has a fun name. You choose how much you want to pay, and the more you pay, the more perks you get!

Starting with the cheapest tier, $1 – Buzz & Hype. You get access to all written posts on Patreon. I will sometimes give a quick update that way, and Patrons get to know that before anyone else. You also get your name at the end of my videos.

The next tier is $3 – Previews. You get all of the benefits from the previous tier, plus access a day early! You also might get the occasional sneak peek of current projects. *wink* When I do a poll, you’ll also get to vote on which video I do next.

For only two more dollars at $5 – Clapboard, you get all of the previous, and you get to see behind the scenes! I’ll show how I set up my videos, and the process of some more involved videos.

Then the next tier up, $8 – Unscripted, again you will get all of the previously mentioned benefits. At this tier, you will get access to a weekly unscripted vlog. I have absolutely no idea what this will look like, and we’ll find out together!

Lastly, if you want to get ~fancy~ and be the ultimate patron of the arts, you can sign up for the $10 – Concept Art tier, where you’ll get all of the benefits AND a custom piece drawn by me! You’ll be able to receive this after your first month has been paid for.

That’s all of the five tiers I have on my Patreon. If any of these strike your fancy, there’s a link below where you can sign up to become a Patron of Rogan Shannon. Your cards get charged on the first of every month, just a FYI. If you don’t feel like you can commit to paying monthly, there are other ways to support me.

Financially, you can do a one-time payment through Ko-fi. That’s the equivalent of buying me a fairly cheap coffee. By the way, if you can, let the ads on YouTube play. Letting them play all the way through means we can get paid, so it does help. Though I will completely understand if you aren’t feeling it or if the ad is ridiculously long. If you still want to support me but can’t do so with money, share this and my content with people who might enjoy it! Subscribe to my channel, and hit that bell so you don’t miss a video. 

Check below for links to all of the things I mentioned. That’s all for this post! All of those names listed below are my current Patrons, thank you so much for your support!

  • Anna G.
  • Autumn B.
  • Brian S.
  • Charis M.
  • Christy F.
  • Erin M.
  • George L.
  • Jordan B.
  • Lee O.

  • Lena R.
  • M lim
  • Mary A.
  • Ravi R.
  • Sarah B.
  • Stephanie
  • Taylor M.
  • Princess and Scrivener

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made a one-time donation to my Ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Life Update | Pandemic Edition

Hello and welcome. Today I just wanted to let you know what’s up with me, during this whole pandemic situation.

My living situation – I am very lucky that I live with my parents. I’m really– Some of you might already know, I was thinking about to Seattle soon, hoping to. Because I could finally afford to live in Seattle, but then this whole thing hit. So… I’m really glad that I hadn’t moved, because… That leads into my work situation.

All of my usual jobs have pretty much gone up in air, nothing. What I do is deaf interpreting, as my main income, that’s deaf interpreting. And most… I plan to make a video for those of you who don’t really know what deaf interpreters do. I plan to explain the whole spectrum of work that we do, but my work is mostly with DeafBlind clients. Obviously, because DeafBlind interpreting work requires a lot of touch, a lot of closeness, that doesn’t really work with social distancing and all of that. So my work in that field is gone. And generally, deaf interpreting often requires in-person work. Or it’s more effective if it’s in person. So that means jobs for deaf interpreters are very limited now. Most deaf interpreting jobs are in person, and I’m willing to work those jobs. But even if I had jobs that I could accept, I wouldn’t. Because I live with my parents, and they’re both immunocompromised. That puts them at risk, so I can’t do that. I can only do remote work right now, which is tough.

So, because I can pretty much do only remote work right now, I’ve been trying to make more YouTube videos, get a little bit of revenue from that. I’ve also worked on improving and changing the look of my website, making it a little bit–making it so I’m happy with the layout. I’ve also worked on revamping my Patreon tiers.

I mention it at the end of every video, but a quick explanation of what Patreon is. It’s basically crowdfunding for creators of any kind. Artists, writers, musicians, YouTubers, and so on. Any kind of creator can use Patreon for supporting their work. I’ve had this for a while, but right now, I’m working on improving it – more tiers, more options, more benefits. That’s one way people can support me. But if you’re thinking yeah, you want to do that, hold on! Don’t do that yet, because I will soon release the new tiers. I will release a video explaining each tier, so when you see that video, you can go ahead and support me. My Patreon is set to pay me once a month. So it doesn’t matter how many or how few videos I make that month, it will pay me once. I hope to get all of the new tiers set up before May 1st. Maybe by the end of this week. I will put out a video explaining everything, so look for that if you want to support me that way.

I have another option for supporting me financially, and that would be Ko-fi (sounds like coffee). This is different from Patreon. Patreon is like a monthly subscription, while Ko-fi is once. You pay, and that’s it. Unless you decide later on you want to do it again, you can. It’s the equivalent to buying me a coffee. Of course, I will leave the link for that here. Really, any financial support from you all in these weird times is much appreciated.

Another thing that I was thinking about, maybe, is creating an online art store where I can sell prints of my work. I don’t know if it’s worth doing the work for that. I’m still thinking about it. So if I do that, I will leave a link below, or I’ll just post it all over my social medias.

If you know of any work I can do remotely, or ideas on how I can earn money while I can’t interpret, let me know in the comments. Any ideas are much appreciated.

Yeah, I think that’s it for this video. I know that these are really weird times for everyone, so… In the comments, leave one thing that has made you happy during this whole stay-at-home thing.

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon (but hold until the new tiers are up) or made a one-time donation to my Ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Gender and Animated Characters | Onward (2020)

Today, I’d like to talk about gender and how it’s portrayed in movies or TV shows. More specifically, animated things.

I decided to make this video because I went to see Onward in the theaters with OC before all of this happened. If you weren’t aware, there is a queer character in this movie. A supporting character, but still. That would be Specter, the cyclops cop that pulls over the brothers. Lena Waithe voices this character. This is a brief scene and we never see Specter again after this from my recollection. During this scene, she says, “It’s not easy being a parent… my girlfriend’s daughter got me pulling my hair out, OK?”

Now, let’s back up a little. I knew that there was a queer character in this movie, but had no idea who and when it’d happen, so I went in expecting to see something, and came out confused. I had to Google it, and that line went over my head because I didn’t realize that Specter was a woman. I don’t remember there being any pronouns used, but I might have just missed it. Specter’s design is a little on the masculine side, and I obviously can’t hear her voice so I coded her as a man. Ugh, I know.

Gender is arbitrary, and I shouldn’t have to rely on gender coding to determine a character’s gender but that’s how it is. Hearing people in general have both voices and visuals to decide gender if no pronouns are used, but I have only visuals. That can become a problem sometimes, like in this case. Another example is Brick in The Incredibles 2. I had no idea that she was a woman until I was reading information after watching the movie. It’s made more difficult when the characters are non-human, like Specter. A few other examples: Francis, the ladybug from A Bug’s Life. They do have him clearly emphasize that he’s a man, but I feel like that might not have aged well since he’s supposed to be a drag queen. Terk the ape from Tarzan. I grew up thinking that she was a boy, and the same goes for Blue from Blue’s Clues. Yeah, Blue’s a girl!

So while it’s annoying having to rely on visual characteristics or clues from the characters around them, it’s unfortunately how the world works. This is why I appreciate it when it’s unambiguous on what gender the character is, whether by visual characteristics, a word someone uses for them—like Mom or Mister—or by using their pronouns in conversation. Hell, I’d be happy to see a nonbinary character and that made clear from the start.

Animators, producers, writers, and so on can easily fall into the trap of assuming people know the gender because to them it’s obvious. Well, of course, you’re the one who wrote the script, read it, stared at the screen all day, so it seems obvious to you. People who are seeing your story for the first time don’t have any of that knowledge, just what’s presented to them on screen. It’d be great if during the test screenings with people, they had one of the questions be about gender of characters or something like that. I know that by this point, they probably can’t change that much about a movie, but it’d be good to get that feedback for future productions.

Movies need more queer representation which is no shocker. [Editor note: This applies to all media obviously, but I was referencing more specifically to animated movies, because right now, there is *very* little of it.] That’s my thoughts on this right now, if there’s anything more, I’ll add it at the end of this blog post. What are your thoughts on this? Any ideas on how people in the industry can improve this?

EXTRA THOUGHTS:
I made a script for this, and let it sit for a few days in case more things came to mind. Of course they didn’t until after I’d filmed, edited, and uploaded to YouTube. So I’m just going to add a few things here 😅

  • I do love that they’re not going high femme with all the female characters, because that’s not how women are. It’s just difficult for me to be able to identify them “correctly” when there aren’t any identifiers used for them. And isn’t it interesting how when it’s a woman character created to be butch, it’s a little more difficult to identify them as a woman… But when there’s a man character created to be more feminine, it’s still fairly clear that it’s a man.
  • Following on the previous, there are several good examples of animated characters that have variety, while still being clear with what we’re supposed to read them as. Take Inside Out. All of the emotions have the same general shape, color, and look, but when it comes to individual people, they’re slightly different. The parents’ emotions are all clearly of one gender, with some slight changes to make them more masculine or feminine. Riley’s are clearly mixed. That’s just one example.
  • A friend of mine gave me another example of clear gender coding in animation – Cars the movie. They’re literally non-human, but are very clear on what the “genders” of the cars are, adding eyelashes and lipstick to the female ones. They also have what would be classified as clearly feminine mannerisms. They’re cars.
  • I know voices aren’t always a reliable way of determining gender, since some men have high voices and women have lower voices, but in general, that combined with appearance can tell you what they’re supposed to be.

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March Books Wrap Up | BookTube

Hello and welcome to my March wrap up of the sixteen books I read! Several of them are graphic novels, but I also read this many because you know, this whole situation. It’s going to be a long one, so let’s get right into it!

Space Between: Explorations of Love, Sex, and Fluidity – Nico Tortorella, an actor and LGBTQ+ advocate, tells their story of identity exploration, interest in spirituality, downward spiral into addiction and the recovery process. Nico goes in-depth about embracing a queer lifestyle, discovering who they are, exploring their masculine and feminine expression and connecting with their sexually fluid nonbinary self. I immensely enjoyed this read, learning about how Nico experimented with their gender expression, since I am somewhat in that place currently. I would happily recommend this book!

Trigger warning for abuse. The Bone Dragon – a girl experienced abuse at the hands of her grandparents, and suffered through having a broken rib in her body. There was a surgery to remove it, and she carves a dragon from that bone. It starts coming alive at night, taking her on a journey. I really liked this, but it was certainly difficult to read at times, because of the abuse. That’s told through flashbacks. However, the abuse is never clear, directly told word for word describing what it is. It’s always indefinite, but it’s still tough to read.

Black Girl Mania – In a world where there’s only one habitable landmass left, Géminis Castores is trying to survive out on the water and she makes a discovery in her garden that could get her a spot on land for generations – but she experiences a psychological split that could be the bane of her success. This is a graphic novel, and it has aspects of afro-indigenous futurism. Géminis has bipolar disorder, and this book highlights what’s most commonly misunderstood about mania. I thought this was quite an interesting read, but it was sometimes difficult to follow. I feel like it might have been trying to do too much in such a short space, this book is only 146 pages. I think this might have benefited from being a little longer, having more room for the story to breathe. But again, maybe that was the intention since this is focused on the manic part of bipolar disorder. I don’t know, I’m not the right person to be reviewing this.

Nature’s Remedies: An Illustrated Guide to Healing Herbs – It’s what it says on the cover. The basic layout is an illustration on one page, and the common name, scientific name, and quick summary of its properties on the other page. It’s broken down into categories of digestive health, energy boosting, and so on. I know, doesn’t seem like my usual kind of reading. I got this book as part of a Secret Santa thing my friends did at New Year’s Eve. My friend picked this one mainly because plants, and because the illustrations inside reminded them of the ones I did for Inktober 2019 (If you want to see them, you can find them on my art Instagram or see it in the Highlights on my personal Instagram here). I do love the illustrations in this, and I thought the summaries were nice. It’s good as a quick reference book.

Where to Begin: A Small Book About Your Power to Create Big Change in Our Crazy World – That’s a long title! This is a small anthology of poetry and prose, and I think this might be a very appropriate read in these times. There’s a lot of uplifting mantras, affirmations, reminders to stay hopeful, harnessing your power to change the world. I suspect that if you are able, listening to this would be the best way to enjoy this book. The author does emphasize that this is a book that can be read in sections, jumping around from page to page as you feel, so in that way, the physical copy is better.

The Fifth Season – I will never be able to do this book justice. If you’ve heard all the hype about this book, it is justified. N.K. Jemisin is an AMAZING author. This is a world where the earth is never still, people are used to the possibility of having to pack up and move, and every once in a while there’s what they call a Fifth Season. This is a Season where the world is devastated by some huge disaster that can last for months, years, or centuries. There are people called orogenes who have the ability to move the earth, and they are loved, hated, and feared. This book spans several decades, so you get a look at very different times in this world’s history. This is impossible to condense so I won’t even try. If you love sci-fi and fantasy, apocalyptic stories, and stories about family and love, you’ll love this book.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and Persepolis: The Story of a Return. Marjane Satrapi tells the story of her childhood in Iran during the Islamic Revolution in the first book. She grew up as the daughter of committed Marxists, and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors. She tells us the history of her country through a child’s eye, one that’s intensely personal and very political. In the second book, she tell us the story of when she was sent away as a teen to Vienna. She struggles to find her place in Austria, and decides to return to Iran after graduation. When she gets home, she’s confronted with a changed country, one that’s more repressive than the one she left. She’s also struggling with the shame of what she sees as her failure in Austria, and questions whether she was right to return to Iran. These were good reads, certainly not easy because it’s about a dark time in Iran’s history. They’re graphic novels, and they’re all in stark black and white colors which I think really fits for this type of story.

The Kiss Quotient – Stella Lane is a brilliant woman who creates algorithms to predict customer purchases, and this makes her have way more money than she knows what to do with. She’s also clueless in the dating department at thirty years old. Stella has a hard time with this, because she’s autistic and struggles with any physical touch. She decides to fix this by hiring an escort to practice and teach her the ins and outs of everything. *eyebrow waggle* This is supposed to be purely a professional relationship, but of course, with romance novels, that’s never the case! This book is a darling of BookTube, and with good reason! This was really well written, and it got this bisexual hot and bothered at certain points. It puts a heavy emphasis on consent, taking your time, building up. It has good representation with Stella being autistic obviously, but there’s also Michael the escort who is half Vietnamese and half Swedish. Michael’s Vietnamese family and friends make an appearance as well. I will admit that this book has some tropes that people might not like, and there are a few parts where it’s a little ehhh until it gets resolved. Overall, I *really* enjoyed this read!

Next, I’m going to talk about Jackaby… And the next three books in the series – Beastly Bones, Ghostly Echoes, and The Dire King. I got Jackaby from a Half-Price Books warehouse sale, and once I finished it, I just *had* to read the next, and the next, and the next. My library happened to have all of them in ebook form, so I was able to immediately borrow them. I finished all four in roughly three and half days, I was that into it. The Jackaby series is kind of like a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who set in 1892. Jackaby is a detective of the paranormal, and this whole series is written from Abigail’s point of view, who is his assistant. He can see the supernatural and the extraordinary, while she has a gift for seeing the utterly ordinary but essential details. The first book is them trying to catch a serial killer that the police are convinced is just an ordinary baddie, but Jackaby is certain it’s supernatural in origin and there’s only one person on the force who doesn’t deny the existence of the paranormal. The second involves vicious shapeshifters, missing dinosaur bones, and a beast attacking people and animals. The third is about a ghost trying to solve her own murder, a trip to the underworld, and mad scientists. The fourth and final book has an evil king using magic and technology to pit Earth and the Otherworld against each other. This series is just— I really enjoyed this series. Yes, I recommend this.

This was the first time that I actually checked out a book from the library this year! The other books that weren’t mine were all borrowed from friends. After breaking my streak of no library books, I went ahead and got a couple more specifically for Queer Weekend that Kathy and I did at the end of March.

The first of that was The Avant-Guards Vol 2. A ragtag basketball team from an arts college, their winning streak is broken. Will the team survive this? This second volume focused more on the perspectives of other team members compared to the first volume, which I really enjoyed. There’s also *fantastic* representation! There’s the lesbian love interests of course, multiple characters of color, but there’s also enby babe, Jay! It’s very subtle and really well-done, but is very clear from the beginning. This is why it really annoys me when I see reviews say “an all-women team” or “group of girls.” Jay is literally introduced in Vol 1 by using they, and is repeatedly used throughout this. Anyway! Queer sports comics, I’m always here for them!

Then I got Taproot, which is just adorable! Blue is in love with his best friend, Hamal. Blue’s also dead. Lucky for him, Hamal can see ghosts, so Blue can haunt him to his content. Something eerie is happening to the ghosts around the town they live in, making them uncomfortable. Blue realizes that it might have something to do with Hamal’s ability, and they have to figure out what to do to stop it before they’re all in danger. I loved this quick little graphic novel, I really liked how the ghosts were drawn, and the story is just great.

The last book I started during the Queer Weekend, and the last book I finished this month, was Less. Arthur Less, a failed author, is about to turn fifty, and he gets an invitation to the wedding of his ex of nine years. Instead of sending a RSVP saying no, he decides to say yes to a whole bunch of half-baked literary events around the world. What could go wrong? This covers all of the drama that he experiences while traveling abroad, seeing his first and last love during the journey, and he’ll turn fifty during all of this. Okay. I… felt meh about this. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great either. I did like the descriptions of the different locations he went to, the general plot, and even the love story throughout it. But the way the “gay experience” was described – partying hard, sleeping around with married men, having bad relationships with men – made it seem like it was a universal one. Let me tell you, it is absolutely not like that at all. I felt like there was quite a lot of whining about becoming old and being forever unlovable. Ugh, that’s not a view we need more of. There’s a quote in this book from someone about Less’s newest novel-in-progress which is almost a quote in itself: “A white middle aged American man walking around with his white middle aged American sorrows? …sorry to tell you this, it’s a little hard to feel sorry for a guy like that.” It was probably intentional on the author’s part, but I think that sums up this book pretty well. I didn’t really see any growth from Less, just a lot of self-gazing and no actual introspection. So yeah. Meh.

That is the sixteen books I read in March! Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments.

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made a one-time donation to my ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

The library saved me so much $$$ in 2019 | BookTube

I know we’re well into 2020, but I recently discovered a BookTuber named iLivieforbooks that has captioned videos, and I’ve been binge watching them. I saw one video that Livvie did at the end of last year, and thought that I’d love to know this too. I’ll link here, and you can probably guess what it was, based on the title. She basically took a look at how much money she saved by using all of the resources the library had to offer. The libraries Livvie used have amazing resources, like tablets you can rent for a few hours, camera equipment, and more. Both of the libraries that I have access to are in small towns, so they have more limited resources, but they still have so many great books.

In today’s video, I’m going to go over all of the books that I read in 2019. First, I’ll tell you about the books that I already owned or bought. Then the books that I got from the library… And those I read and finished in a bookstore. The pricing for everything is based on Amazon list prices, so it may not be exactly how much I or the library spent, but it gives you a pretty good idea.

In 2019, I read a total of 126 books, but two of those were rereads, so that’s 124 individual books. I either already owned or bought 35 books, which makes 83 books from the library, and 3 I read in one sitting in a bookstore.

For the 35 books I owned, I know whether I bought them new, used, or got for free. For the new ones, I used the list prices. For the used ones, I tried my best to remember how much I paid for each book, but it’s not exact. I won’t be counting the cost of the 12 free books, because I either got them from friends, my family, a Little Free Library, or it was a free download. So for the remaining 23 books, I spent about $280.41. Dividing that amount makes it come to an average of $12.19 each book, which isn’t too bad! Seriously, if you don’t buy used, you are MISSING out.

The three books I finished while in the book store were all short ones, but that still came to a total of $67.97 saved!

Now, for the 83 books I got from the library! A large majority of these were physical books from two different libraries, but some of these were either ebooks or digital graphic novels. Again, I used list price to calculate the final total and that would be a whopping $1,799.48 that I saved by going to the library! For real, I don’t understand people who are readers and say, “Oh, I don’t use the library. I buy my books!” Like that makes them superior somehow. News flash: it doesn’t. Why would you *not* want to save money?? Especially when you read a lot, like I do.

The library is just a fantastic resource for everybody. Not all libraries are the same of course, but check out what your library has to offer. You might be surprised! That’s it for today, I hope you enjoyed this video. Let me know if there’s anything you want to see from me!

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made a one-time donation to my ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Sign for Transgender | Response

Hello, and welcome back. Today, I wanted to take a moment and talk about a specific sign – the one for transgender. When I posted my updated Queer Signs video, someone left a comment then deleted it before I could respond. I decided I’d make a video because it’s important to me that this information is out there. I want to be clear, I’m not saying that this is wrong or bad. I just want to give another perspective on this.

The comment basically said that in NYC, people—and I think the comment said trans people specifically—sign the word trans in reverse, essentially, opening up rather than closing in.

Let’s get this out of the way: I strongly recommend you don’t use that sign.

Everyone I know, in and out of the queer community, uses the same sign for trans(gender) with a 5-handshape closing in until all five fingers are touching, in the middle of the chest. (Think the handshapes and movement for “beautiful” but signed on the chest.) There’s a reason for this.

Back in around 2003, this sign was decided on by a group of trans Deaf people and spread from there. I’ll leave a link to the source for this along with a transcript at the end of this post, since the video isn’t captioned. The point is, this sign was decided upon by the community.

Now, let’s talk about the other sign – [trans in reverse]. If I remember correctly, there was a big uproar over this sign when it first showed up. Mainly because it was a cis woman who first suggested it, who had no right or place to be discussing this sign. She was also signing it incorrectly, moving it downward while closing the hand. She said that the sign should be changed because the actual sign is a “negative” sign because it’s closing, it’s moving down. She’s not wrong on that count. Most negative signs in ASL move downward, like sad, depressed, and dark. Most positive signs move upward, like happy, thrilled, and bright.

However. Trans is signed horizontally, with no vertical movement. The meaning of this sign is your identity is on the inside, and no one can change that. I also interpret it as meaning beautiful on the inside, no matter your external appearance.

So if you still choose to use [trans in reverse], that’s your decision, but at least do so knowing this history and the actual meaning of the sign. That’s all I have for this video, and if I’m wrong about any of this, please tell me!

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TRANSCRIPT – Timecodes 3:35-5:49

Transsexual, trans, transgender are typically the same sign – trans. Let me explain a little bit about the history of that sign. The old sign is [shows sign]. It means changing sex, and for us, we don’t feel that’s appropriate. We’re not changing our sex, we’re changing our bodies to fit our identity. So… Oh, another sign – [T-G]. It looks like no good [N-G]. That doesn’t fit us obviously. We were struggling to find the right sign. So we got together at the RAD (Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf) conference in 2003. It just happened that there was a large number of trans people there. We got together and said we need to discuss a sign. One woman, a trans woman from Europe who grew up in Spain, has traveled to different places in Europe, checking out all their signs. She saw different ones – [demonstrates a couple]. I can’t remember, there were a lot of different ones. Then she said trans. We asked her what that means. It means who you are on the inside, that’s your identity. No one can change it, it’s inside of you. It doesn’t matter what the outside looks like, your identity is here (inside of you). Cherished. Regardless of surgery, hormones, whatever, or you decide not to, that doesn’t matter. That’s still your identity here (on the inside), no matter what you look like. So that’s why it’s signed trans. We tend to use that for in general, anything. So it can include trans, transgender, transsexual, and so on, all the different words. All under one sign, trans. If you want to know more information about that person, ask them directly. Everyone’s a little different, identities are a little different.