Round 7 TBR | Queer Lit Readathon

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome! Today, all the hosts of this round are sharing our TBRs, or To Be Read. This is what we hope to read during this week full of wonderful queer books. Kathy and I tend to try and go for a full blackout, which often results in having a list of five to ten books. I just want to be clear this is not what you have to do to participate! If you read even just one queer thing, you have taken part.

A few things before I go into the books. Multiple books are from the library, and I should be able to have them all during the readathon. For clarity’s sake, I will only be telling you the title and what challenges I’m applying them to. Many of these books also cover other challenges on the board, but I don’t want to bog this video down with repeating the challenges. I also won’t be going into much detail of what each book is about, because I’ll be doing a wrap-up at the end of the week, possibly a vlog if I remember! After the list of planned reads, I’ll throw in a few honorable mentions at the end.

I’ll go through the library books first, starting with Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi, which is the Group Read. It’ll also go toward Hard-Hitting Contemporary, and I already know it is, because this will be my second time reading this book. However, I have a different perspective on it since I last read it, so I’m interested to see how differently I read it now.

Next, I want to read She of the Mountains by Vivek Shraya. This will cover two challenges: Shorter Than a Novel, and M-Spec. Last round, I read something by this author and was okay with it, I’m hoping that this will be a much more enjoyable read.

Me, Myself, They: Life Beyond the Binary is a Memoir by Luna Ferguson. I’m very interested to read about this person and the work they’ve done!

This is a book that I’ll be reading first, since it’s due back the second day of the readathon, The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashely Poston. I’ve read one other book by this author, Geekerella, and really enjoyed myself. I’ve seen this one recommended multiple times by Kathy, so I’m finally picking it up. This will Bring You Joy and Summer Vibes, because I’ve been told this is a fun, fluffy read, and it happens at a con, which always gives me summer feelings.

Then I plan to read The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan, which will meet the Religion, Recommended, and Underrepresented Identity challenges. I’ve seen this recommended by multiple people, and I’m putting this in Underrepresented, because we so rarely see anything about queer Bengali people in literature or media.

Now we’re onto the books that I own! First, The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi. I didn’t even realize that this book was queer when I got it, but I’ve see reviews listing queer characters. This will hit the most challenges at once: Not Set on Your Continent, set in Paris; Vintage, happens in the 1880s; Choose Your Own Category, historical fiction; Intersectional, multiple queer characters that have other identities from my understanding; and as an bonus, there’s disability rep in this as well.

And for the final book on this list to be read during the readathon, we have Draw the Line by Laurent Linn. I’ve had this for a while, and it looks really interesting because it’s a mixture of text and graphics because the main character is a comic artist. This will hit the Superheroes challenge, I hope!

With those books, I have mentioned all of the challenges but one – 40%+ BIPOC. The intent of this challenge is to get you to make sure you’re reading widely and intersectionally, not all from white authors. I have seven books on my list, and four of them are by BIPOC authors, so this challenge is ticked off as well.

Books I want to mention that I considered for this readathon, but ended up not going with for a variety of reasons – the hold time is too long, it’s not available at my library, or other.

The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore. I actually have this checked out at the moment, but I’ll likely be reading it *before* the readathon because it’s also due on the second day of the readathon and I don’t want to attempt to finish two full books in the first two days, especially when there’s a hard return time, because they’re both ebooks. This would have gone toward M-Spec and Hard-Hitting Contemporary.

A People’s History of Heaven by Mathangi Subramanian. It also would fit Hard-Hitting Contemporary and Intersectional. I already had these challenges covered by other books, so I decided to read this another day.

And for the last book I was considering, Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo. This hits the most challenges this round: Choose Your Own which I decided would be historical fiction, Intersectional, Vintage, Underrepresented Identity, and Recommended loudly by Adri. I would have definitely gone with this book for the readathon, but the library waitlist is so long, I’m still three or four weeks out from even being able to get my hands on it.

Those are the seven books I’ll be reading, plus some recommendations for this round! Let me know what you’re most excited to be reading this round, if you’re participating. Bye!

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 language to text recognition

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome back! I know, it’s been a while. Some new things in the background! Things are still changing in this room, I still have a lot to go. My Patrons already know this, but I’ve been busy with a new job. I’ve been figuring out what the process looks like, what my process looks like, and having work from that. It’s going good. That’s why I’ve been gone for a while. So that aside, let’s get into this video topic.

As you’ve seen from the title, today I’m talking about sign language to text recognition. I want to quickly talk about this, because I’ve been getting a few emails. I’m still really conflicted about this. Basically, I’ve been getting emails asking if the person can use my videos on this channel for training their AI to recognize what sign means this, translating into text. This is because all of my videos have captions included, so they can use that in parallel to figure out what a sign can mean in English. I have problems with that. For several reasons.

First, I’m sure this is often not their intention, but when they contact me asking that… Basically, they’re looking at it as sign, ASL, to English. Like that can be done just looking and translated. I’m like, hmm. That is pretty much interpreting, translating, from one language to another. You’re not trying to create something that will take sign and make it into sign writing, for example. This is not equivalent to vocally spoken English becoming English text. That’s because they already have equivalency, while sign doesn’t. And my captions don’t always exactly match what I say.

Second, my signing has a range. Sometimes it’s very English, sometimes it’s more ASL. It depends on the day, what my brain process is, and so on. So… Your trained AI will learn that changing range, it won’t be able to identify that difference. Also, it’s learning from my signing. It will learn how to translate *my* signing style, not other people’s. Some people are more strongly ASL than I am, some people are more English, or use SEE. All of that. Learning from me is a tiny step, and barely even scratches the surface of all that ASL is.

Third, for those who are watching, you can clearly see that I’m a white, masculine-presenting person. I’m also queer. So that means my signing style, for those who aren’t skilled in ASL, often shifts from masculine to feminine. I tend to stay around the middle. So because of that, it means your AI will learn… It won’t learn how to read someone who’s very feminine or very masculine. They’re very different in how they sign certain words.

Fourth, like I just said, I’m white. You will be training your AI to learn from a white person. I don’t sign the same as a Black man, or a Black woman. Or even queer Black people. I don’t sign the same. This runs into the same problem as facial recognition. Facial recognition is biased to white people, because white people designed it in the first place, developed it, trained it on white people’s faces. It often makes mistakes with Black people. I foresee this sign language recognition will be the same with Black and people of color.

Fifth, I know the reason why they contact me is because I have *many* videos, almost 400 now. So that’s a big resource for training an AI, and out there, there are limited resources for the training. I get that, but like I’ve said, I am one person. Training your AI on one person won’t lead to effective understanding.

Vocal speakers are diverse – high, deep, lively, monotone, accented, regional, fast, slow, and the list goes on. It’s the same in sign, the same. Signing fast, slow, feminine, masculine, with facial expressions. Expressions are important. All of that… That’s why even speech-to-text recognition struggles sometimes. If you have a strong accent, it doesn’t understand. Even your register, it can’t understand some registers. You will run into the same problems in sign, and maybe even more so, because sign, specifically ASL, is very varied in our language structure, our linguistic features, how we express, and all the different things. So training your AI on one person is not enough.

I just mentioned facial expressions. That’s one of the things that I feel like many of these people who want to do sign language to text recognition work forget about the expressions. They tend to focus on the hands, how the hands flex and move, focusing on that. Facial expressions are very important. For example, if I were to say: I’m happy! Or: I’m happy. It’s the same sign, happy, exactly the same, but the expression changes the whole meaning. Happy! I do mean I’m happy, but if I say happy. Obviously I’m not. That sign language recognition tends to be missing that and not include expressions.

All of what I’ve said so far, I haven’t even mentioned coding. Coding is the most tough part of this whole thing. I personally don’t understand code, I don’t understand how to do it. I may understand really basic things, but in-depth typing, no. But I do know people who do. And I know of one group with deaf people that are working on trying to develop a method of recognizing sign language. They’ve really struggled, it’s tough. They’ve been working on this for several years, and they got nowhere near. And they’re deaf, know the language, and so on. So when I have hearing people–hearing people!–contact me saying that they’re doing this as a project for my university, my last semester, or my thesis project, whatever. That caused conflict for me, because they’re hearing. They probably don’t really know sign. This is their temporary, their final project. They probably won’t continue it after graduating. So… I almost feel like, what’s the point? I’ve had several, three or four different people contact me asking for this. I already understand enough that I know it’s not possible, even with in-depth training and such. This is a long-term project, if you really want to invest in it. I did have one group from the UK reach out. They are aware that BSL and ASL are different. They’re working on both ASL and BSL, okay. And they are planning on having this be a long-term project, alright.

I’m not knowledgeable on coding, but I know enough to recognize that what these people are trying to do is very tough. Because they’re trying to teach an AI or program a full language that has varying ways of signing it, teach it that when the programmer themself may not be knowledgeable with this language. Then taking that language and translating to a full other language. I don’t know if our coding or tech capabilities are there yet. Or if they will ever be.

So this has happened often enough recently, that when people reach out saying that they want to do this… I’m inclined to ignore it or say thanks, but no thanks. Because–especially if it’s a university project. I’m like, you will not be able to do this in one semester, you will not.

So from now on, any time people contact me for a university project or thesis or whatever, I will be saying no. Because… You do it, then what’s next? Will you make that available to the deaf community? High chances are no. Because it didn’t succeed, or with what you did, but you graduated so there’s no need to continue. So where’s your exchange for my sharing? All of that was just me throwing out things, unscripted. So I’m probably missing a few things, I don’t know. Leave in the comments what you think about this and how you feel about people doing this, the concept of this. Whatever. Leave comments below.

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.

April Books Wrap Up | BookTube

Hello and welcome to my wrap up of the books I read in April! This month, I read eight books, but this won’t be quite that long, since several books are part of a series. Let’s get into it!

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas. A reimagining of the classic Peter Pan story set in the small coastal town of Astoria, Wendy Darling has been carrying trauma for five years of having gone missing with her little brothers in the woods, losing them, and having no memory of what happened. Children are starting to go missing again, echoing what happened with the Darling children. People are starting to ask questions, bringing back all of that trauma for Wendy. One night driving home, she nearly runs over somebody, and when she goes to check on them, she discovers it’s the Peter from the stories she was told growing up, the ones she told to her brothers, and to the kids at the hospital she volunteers at now. It’s the person she’s been unconsciously drawing over and over, along with a mysterious tree. Her world is shaken as she has to reevaluate everything she thought she knew, and help Peter figure out what happened to the missing children, and hopefully, her brothers too. — *takes a deep breath* I LOVED THIS. Thomas hit it out of the park again. Their first published book is Cemetery Boys, and I absolutely loved that. This is their second book published, but the first one they wrote. I really enjoyed the twists that Thomas put on the classic story – how Peter’s powers work, what the Lost Children are, Peter’s shadow, the Darling family and Wendy. I really don’t want to spoil major things for this story, so I’m not going to tell you any more details. This book does go deep in on PTSD, trauma, mental health, so that’s something to be aware of going in. I preordered my copy, and it’s gorgeous! The hard cover is this beautiful blue color, and the endpapers are light pink! I also signed up for the preorder campaign, and got three beautiful cards with illustrations and an enamel pin. First card is of the Darling children smiling and posing for a family picture, flip side is Wendy alone, looking sad. Second card is of Peter Pan, mischievously smiling, flip side Peter is back-to-back with his shadow who looks malicious. The third card has Wendy alone in a window nook looking out, flip side Wendy and Peter smiling at each other on the floor. The enamel pin is of a silver acorn with a moonlit forest scene on it, a purple ribbon around it that has the title on it. Just beautiful, like this story. If you liked Cemetery Boys, you’ll probably enjoy this as well but they are not similar in any way! For a more detailed, but still spoiler free, review, I’d recommend watching Adri’s reading vlog.

I’m going to go out of order a little here, and jump to the third book I read this month. The Last Fallen Star by Graci Kim. Riley Oh is part of the Gom clan, a powerful lineage of Korean healing witches. She’s excited to see her sister, Hattie, finally get initiated and get her Gi bracelet, allowing her to be able to cast spells on her own. Riley would love nothing more than to follow in her sister’s footsteps, but she’s saram, a person without magic. She was adopted and has always been the outsider in her family and the gifted community. During a conversation, Riley and Hattie discover it is possible for a gifted to share their magic with a saram, and decide they’ll cast the spell during the initiation. What could go wrong? *stares in foreshadowing* They discover that Riley is not exactly what they thought she was, and Hattie’s life is now in danger. To save her, Riley is given the task of finding the last fallen star, which is just impossible. Riley has no idea how to find it or what it even is. On the journey, her beliefs are challenged by what she learns, she meets all sorts of magical creatures and people, and she has to figure out what being a witch is, what family means, what belonging means to her. — This is a Rick Riordan Presents, and I absolutely enjoyed it, like I have pretty much every other RRP book. I have read Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee, which also has Korean mythology, but that had a heavy focus on the gumiho, or fox spirit, mythology with others sprinkled in. It’s also sci-fi! Fallen Star is more about the six clans, which have different types of magic – protection, healing, illusions, among others. We also meet various mythical creatures, and some deities. This is set in modern-day Los Angeles, and the Korean witches are hidden in plain sight, their temples and buildings hidden by magic from passerby. The world that Kim created is just fantastic, and it never felt like she was info-dumping on us, we learned bits as we went. Part of that was because Riley was learning some herself, so we learned along with her. The story does have a main character and focuses on her journey, but the side characters were all fantastic and they had their own journeys too, they weren’t there to serve as just props for Riley. The whole message of this book—feeling like an outsider and having nothing to offer, or having two identities you care about very much, struggling to figure out where you belong—is just fantastic, and I can tell it will resonate with a lot of people, especially those who come from several cultures. To end, the plot twists!! There are multiple, and they’re all good! This is a book people need to read, and it JUST came out so it’s available everywhere now.

Now, back to the second book, which is Deep Wizardry, the second book in the Young Wizards series. I did the moving around because after Fallen Star, I read three more from the same series: High Wizardry, A Wizard Abroad, and The Wizard’s Dilemma. I’m currently reading this series for a Title Talks, where I’ll go more in-depth about each book. I didn’t say anything about the first book when I mentioned it in my February wrap up, so I’ll do a quick summary now. So You Want to be a Wizard is about Nita, a preteen that stumbles across a book and discovers that wizardry is real and she has the ability to use it. She meets Kit, and they both go on an Ordeal, where they have to prove themselves and probably save the world in the process. Deep Wizardry takes us under the ocean where whale-wizards are doing a big piece of wizardry to calm the Sea and protect the world. High Wizardry rips us away from Earth as Nita’s powerful little sister goes on her own Ordeal, hopping across the universe. A Wizard Abroad drops us into Ireland, where layers of old wizardries are so dense, you can’t do any spellwork without accounting for ancient magic first. The Wizard’s Dilemma forces us to face our own mortality, and how complex life can be, especially when it comes to diseases like cancer and viruses. That’s it for that series, for now anyway!

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen. Tiến loves his family, and enjoys reading his favorite stories with his parents, like they’ve been doing for most of his life. Tiến has grown up with communication challenges, since he speaks both Vietnamese and English, but his parents are struggling with English, being immigrants. Tiến is trying to figure out how to tell his parents he’s gay, because he doesn’t know if there’s even a word in Vietnamese for what he’s experiencing. He and his mother navigate life with fairytales weaving through their story. — This is a gorgeously illustrated graphic novel. The story of Tiến is interspersed with various fairytales that are very familiar to us, but their reinterpretations are the ones that are told. We read the German Allerleirauh, the Vietnamese Tấm Cám, and The Little Mermaid. I really enjoyed seeing these different reinterpretations, along with the styles of art/fashion for each story. The style of fashion was based on who was telling the story, and the period of life that the storyteller was in, giving us strong parallels between that person’s story and the fairytales. I absolutely recommend this, if nothing else but to read the fairytales and see this gorgeous art.

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston. August is a cynical twenty-three-year-old that moved to New York City to get away from her mother’s obsessive and all-consuming search for August’s missing uncle. She moved to New York to prove that being alone is the best way to go through life, true love and magic is all made-up. August ends up getting a job at a 24-hour pancake diner, even though she has absolutely no experience, thanks to her weird roommates. And she doesn’t expect her subway commute to be anything but boredom, full of strangers, and electrical issues. Until one day, August sees this gorgeous leather-jacket-swoopy-hair-soft-smile girl on the Q. She quickly develops a crush, and learns her name, Jane, and falls for her charming, mysterious persona. August tries to learn more but Jane evades almost any questions about her past, and August eventually discovers that Jane doesn’t just look like someone from the 1970s, she *is* someone from the 70s, trapped on the Q line. August decides she has to help Jane get unstuck, and ends up having to call upon all the skills and knowledge she tried to leave behind with her mother. A whirlwind of a pancake fundraiser slash drag show slash heist planning goes down to help Jane get to where she’s supposed to be. — I loved Red, White & Royal Blue and I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS. August, a bisexual and plus-size woman, and Jane, a Chinese-American lesbian, are wonderful, I love their relationship and banter, but I also loved the whole supporting cast. August’s roommates, who don’t blink an eye when they’re told Jane is a girl out of time, the neighbor who is also a drag queen, the colorful characters who work at the diner, and just everything. This is a book full of queer characters across the spectrum, with a sapphic romance between two completely useless people at the center. It’s full of aching loneliness in a city full of millions, people finding each other and creating little families out of love, self-discovery, and of course, so much food. There’s a lot that happens in here and I really don’t want to spoil anything! I absolutely recommend this amazing book. Quick note – this isn’t published until June 1st. I received an eARC through NetGalley for review. But when it is published, read it!!

That’s all of the books I read in April! Let me know what you want to read next!

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.

Defying Gravity | Wicked | ASL

This is a song translated into ASL, so there won’t be a blog post. This video also uses an instrumental, so there’s no vocals. The full lyrics are below, and they can also be found here.

Defying Gravity – Wicked (Lyrics)

[GLINDA, spoken]
Elphaba, why couldn’t you have stayed calm for once?
Instead of flying off the handle!
I hope you’re happy

I hope you’re happy now
I hope you’re happy how you’ve hurt your cause forever
I hope you think you’re clever

[ELPHABA, spoken]
I hope you’re happy

I hope you’re happy, too
I hope you’re proud how you
Would grovel in submission, to feed your own ambition

So though I can’t imagine how
I hope you’re happy right now

[GLINDA, spoken]
Elphie, listen to me, just say you’re sorry!

You can still be with the wizard
What you’ve worked and waited for
You can have all you ever wanted

[ELPHABA, spoken]
I know

But I don’t want it
No, I can’t want it anymore
Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes and leap!

It’s time to try defying gravity
I think I’ll try defying gravity
And you can’t pull me down

Can’t I make you understand
You’re having delusions of grandeur?

I’m through accepting limits
‘Cause someone says they’re so
Some things I cannot change
But ’til I try, I’ll never know!
Too long I’ve been afraid of
Losing love I guess I’ve lost
Well, if that’s love
It comes at much too high a cost!

I’d sooner buy defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye, I’m defying gravity
And you can’t pull me down

Glinda, come with me. Think of what we could do, together!

Together, we’re unlimited
Together we’ll be the greatest team there’s ever been
Glinda, dreams the way we planned ’em

If we work in tandem

There’s no fight we cannot win
Just you and I, defying gravity
With you and I defying gravity

They’ll never bring us down!

Well, are you coming?

[GLINDA, sung]
I hope you’re happy
Now that you’re choosing this

You, too

I hope it brings you bliss

I really hope you get it
And you don’t live to regret it
I hope you’re happy in the end
I hope you’re happy my friend

So if you care to find me
Look to the western sky!
As someone told me lately
“Everyone deserves the chance to fly!”
And if I’m flying solo
At least I’m flying free
To those who ground me
Take a message back from me

Tell them how I am defying gravity!
I’m flying high, defying gravity!
And soon, I’ll match them in renown
And nobody in all of Oz
No wizard that there is or was
Is ever gonna bring me down!

I hope you’re happy

Look at her! She’s wicked!
Get her!

Bring me down!

No one mourns the wicked!
So we’ve got to bring her…



Gray, Cheat, Early, Watch, Outside | Regional Signs

Blog post has been expanded to explain the signs.

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome to a new Regional Signs! I know, it’s been a while. If you’re new here, this series is where I find different signs across the country that aren’t common and usually are used only in a specific region.

How does this work? If in the previous video, I missed something in the signs I tell you, and I’m told in the comments, I will add at the beginning of this video. That’s first, then the list for today. With the list, I will first tell you the common sign, then the regional sign(s). Now, I’m not all-knowing. I may say that this sign is from that region, but oh it’s actually used in other regions too. The reason why I tell you here, is because I don’t see it often. Of course, I will link in places the previous videos, so you can watch and learn all the different signs! Let’s get started.

In the previous video, I told you several signs for pickle: fingerspelling it, a P in a twisting motion on the chin, a P twisting on the neck, and a G handshape touching the side of the mouth then moving away and shaking.

One I missed is from Iowa, two G handshapes moving back and forth, the tips of the fingers touching.

First new sign today, gray. Common: 5-handshape moving back and forth, the fingers passing through each other.

This sign is from Rochester: the index and pinkie are extended, the thumb holding the other fingers down. The index finger slides down the chin twice, with the hand oriented palm outwards.

Second, cheat. Common: The non-dominant hand is held in a flat hand, while the dominant hand has the thumb, index, and middle finger extended. The dominant hand taps the non-dominant hand twice, between the index and middle finger. It looks like a bit like when scissors wins over paper in a game of rock-paper-scissors.

Many areas use this one, but it’s less common: the dominant hand with the index and pinky fingers extended, thumb holding the other fingers down, rubbing in a repeating downward motion on the forearm near the elbow.

The third sign is much less common, and it’s a very specific use. I don’t see it often now. It’s literally the sign for dirty, but signed directly under the nose rather than under the chin. This is more of like, a really dirty person, a big cheater. Cheat!

Third, early. We have several. Common: The non-dominant hand is held in a fist, the dominant hand has all fingers spread, and swipes the middle finger across the back of the fist. The swipe is typically done moving from furthest side to nearest side, but the reverse is also correct.

Another fairly common one: quite literally, E-A-R-L-Y. It’s fingerspelled, but with flair added, moving in a circle while spelling it out.

We have a couple more regional signs, but I don’t remember which regions they’re from. So if you know, leave it in the comments!

One is the dominant hand in a 3-handshape, touching the forehead and moving away quickly. It’s similar to rooster, but rooster is tapping twice and ending with touching the forehead, early touches the forehead once and moves away.

The other has a similar motion to the first sign, the dominant hand doing a swipe with the middle finger. However, it’s swiping on the nose, starting at the top and going to the tip of the nose.

Fourth, watch. I don’t mean as in wristwatch. Common: the dominant hand in a V-handshape, moving in a short forward motion, like eyes looking at something.

The two signs I’m about to show you, the first one is more common, and the second is region-specific. Both of them are more specific to watching TV, watching a screen, not watch in general. It’s more specific to screens, that’s my observations from people’s use of these signs.

First, the dominant hand held horizontal with the palm facing your body. All fingers are closed except for the index and thumb. The index is hooked and the thumb is fully extended. The motion is the same as the first sign, a short forward motion.

Second, I think this is the Southwest? I know for sure Texas, but maybe the Southwest as well? The dominant hand has all the fingers spread out in a relaxed claw handshape, palm facing out. The back of the hand is tapped on the chin twice.

Fifth, and last, outside. Common: the dominant hand starting in a 5-handshape and moving away from the body while bringing the fingers together. The motion is repeated twice.

This regional sign is specific to the Upper Midwest, Minnesota, Michigan: it’s literally signed the same way as boss is, with the dominant hand in a claw tapping the shoulder.

That’s it for today! I hope you enjoyed and learned something new. Let me know if anything is wrong or you want to add another sign in the comments. I will add or correct in the next video, and hopefully that video won’t be as long in coming!

March Books Wrap Up | BookTube

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome to a completely different background. I’m currently in the middle of a renovation of my room! You will eventually see what I’m doing, maybe? Anyway, let’s wrap up the books I read in March! This month, I read six books and did *not* like two of them, unfortunately. You’ll see why when we get to them, but luckily, I was able to end the month with a couple of good reads. Let’s get started!

First up, Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. This incredible book tells the tale of Noemí Taboada who is living it up in 1950s Mexico City as a debutante, enjoying the wealth and partying the days away. One day, her family gets a very strange letter from her cousin who recently married and moved to High Place. This house is in the Mexican countryside, and her cousin is begging for someone to help save her. Worried about her cousin’s safety, Noemí’s father decides to send her to check on her cousin and take her away if needed. Noemí arrives to find a very hostile house – her cousin’s new husband who is menacing but also somehow enticing, his father who also rules the house with an iron fist and is fascinated—maybe even obsessed—with Noemí, house staff who barely interact with her, and it would seem even the house itself doesn’t want her there, causing her to have nightmares of doom. It’s not all awful though, the brother seems to be friendly enough and wants to help Noemí out. However, Noemí is determined to dig past the walls the family has around them. She starts learning more of the history behind High Place, the darkness that surrounds the area, the violence and madness that’s happened, and realizes there’s far more happening here than seemed to be at first. She’s trapped in more ways than just one as she struggles to figure out what she should do. — *faces of amazement, just wordless* There is so much happening that I didn’t mention in that description, mainly because this is a Gothic horror, and a lot of elements depend on you not knowing too much detail to be truly effective. But again, this is horror and it is chock-full of content warnings. A few major ones are graphic violence, murder, incest, racial supremacy, sexual and physical assault. There are also some related to body horror. You can easily find a full list of content warnings in places online. I said earlier that there’s a lot happening, and there is! However, it is also a very slow build-up. The horror slowly creeps in as Noemí learns more and more, and has a big, intense ending. The horror does become gory at times, but it’s also very cerebral, making you question things and struggle to separate fact from fiction. I was blown away by this, because while it starts out as your “traditional” haunted house and horror story, it doesn’t take long for it to swerve away from that and throw you into some dark situations. I’m going to just stop talking about this because you really should check this out if you like Gothic horror or just horror in general. By the way, I am so excited to see the Hulu adaption of this!! I hope it lives up to the book! Also, I definitely recommend another book of Moreno-Garcia’s that I’ve read, Gods of Jade and Shadow, which is also incredible.

Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay. This is a twisty story told from multiple perspectives and goes between the past and present about the Pine family and the tragedies that have struck their family. Present: Matt Pine, a current NYU student, just finished a night of partying to find out that his family has been found dead while on vacation in Mexico, and local police are claiming it was an accident. It seems too suspicious though, and no one is telling Matt why. This makes news everywhere, because the Pine family is a known name. Past: Matt’s older brother, Danny, was accused of murdering his girlfriend and was handed a life sentence. There was a viral true crime documentary made, suggesting that Danny was completely innocent, but Matt saw something that makes him sure Danny did it. Back to present day, Matt is thrust back into the trauma of the past, a media frenzy, and the mystery behind his family’s death in Mexico. He wants to find the truth to everything – the original murder, his family’s, and confront all of his fears. — I was sent an ARC, and a final hardcover copy, of this book by Minotaur Books for review. Thank you! I’ll be giving the hardcover to a friend of mine. I really enjoyed this! It’s a thriller, drama filled, very twisty, and the characters are great. They all felt very fleshed out, even the ones who appeared for only a brief time. Matt is surrounded with great friends who do their best to support him in this traumatic time, even when he tries to push them away and go it alone. The FBI agent that’s in contact with Matt, Sarah Keller, is fantastic and she deserves more! I’m not going to talk too much about this, it is a thriller after all, and the plot moves very quickly. It reads very much like a movie, and it’d adapt really well, I think. I do wish it had a bit more atmosphere, and maybe a little more depth with the Pine family, but I get that this is more focused on the after and the surviving members. Still, I really enjoyed this and would recommend if you like action/thriller stories.

Fabulous in Tights by Hal Bodner. Alec Archer is the owner of a successful male escort service in Centerport, where sex work has been legalized. He lives there with his husband, Peter, who he loves very much. Centerport also happens to be the place that a lot of villains choose to kick off their career. Luckily, Alec is also Whirlwind, a superhero that works to protect Centerport from all of these evil plots. We encounter Thanatos, who has a mysterious plot to twist a plan to end world hunger, which is led by Peter. Thanatos is very, very clever and has figured out things about Whirlwind that no one knows, not even Whirlwind. Whirlwind and his friends race to stop Thanatos before the plot is unleashed. — Quite bluntly, I didn’t like this. I gave it two stars out of five. Honestly, the only reason why this book still has two stars is because I really like the concept of this book, some of the worldbuilding, and we need more queer superheroes and villains. But there’s too many issues with it for me to give it anything higher. This book is extremely campy, which isn’t really a problem in itself, but combined with everything else, it just was too much. I didn’t really like Alec as a person. Sure, he had some great banter, but overall his personality is kind of trash. Near the beginning, we meet him as Whirlwind and he’s rescuing civilians from a burning building. He made way too many fatphobic comments, used several slurs, had a really creepy attitude towards a wheelchair user, and has the attitude of sort of a mean old queen. Weirdly self-absorbed at the same time as being a superhero who actually does care about the safety of other people. Just overall not a great person. There’s also a slightly confusing thing with the marriage between Alec and Peter. It’s said pretty early on that the marriage is secret, because Peter works in corporate, and people aren’t all that open-minded and such. But later, it’s said that people kinda just know about it, it’s not really a “secret” and it was kind of just brushed off. Plus, Alec is a pretty well-known figure, being the owner of an escort business, so it’d be really difficult to keep that marriage a secret anyway. What was even the point of that? Let’s talk about Thanatos. The whole description of his appearance was very interesting, and I did like it. There was also some sexual tension between Whirlwind and Thanatos. However, there’s some inconsistencies in the physical description. For example, he’s described as having a monstrous mask and it seemed to be something that fully covers the face. But then a leer and grin are described later on, it’s just unclear on what the mask looks like. Because of certain things and the way that were described about Thanatos, I was able to guess who he was *very* early on. Overall, I just didn’t really like the characters, it was very predictable for me, and kind of disappointing.

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson. This is the second queer book this month that I really did not like, and I’m going to tell you right now—if this book is on your list, take it off. There are so many problematic aspects, and I already saw them coming just from the blurb. This is supposedly about a trans girl, Kate, figuring herself out, how to move through the world and come out to people, but for maybe 90% of this book, her deadname and he/him pronouns are used. There’s this whole thing of “wanting” that doesn’t feel like a trans girl wanting to present as who she is, but is clearly written by a cis author with the mindset that this character is “a boy wanting to be a girl” which is just wrong. There’s a lot of transphobic things said by Kate, which is sort of understandable, because there’s a lot of internalized transphobia she has to work through, but there were also transphobic things said by Leo, the other trans character in this book. I will tell you this “”””twist”””” of both main characters being trans, because how we find out about the second trans character is just not right. Leo’s transness is used as a plot twist and he gets “found out” when he’s shoved into a room with a popular girl, being expected to have sex together and revealed that way. No, just no. When Leo found out that Kate was trans, he didn’t immediately switch to she/her pronouns in general and for his internal monologue. He pretty much used her pronouns and called her Kate only when she was in more feminine clothing, which is just not right. In the author’s note or afterword, whatever it was, she says that she worked with an UK-based gender clinic (this was set in the UK) to ensure the representation was done well. I— I disagree. I might have been more forgiving if this had been written in the early 2000s, but this was written in 2015, and I was just really annoyed the whole time I was reading this. Just don’t pick up this book.

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Braiding indigenous stories, science, and personal stories together, Kimmerer takes us on a journey through the living world to see what we can learn from it. Kimmerer talks about her childhood, her wonder at all of the living things around us and the stories that they have, the secret language of plants and how we can learn it if we just slow down enough to listen. She tells us of how she decided that she would become a botanist and was trained to ask questions with the cold lens of science, then eventually realizing that she’d lost her way and worked on returning to her indigenous ways of learning and being. Kimmerer emphasizes the importance of reciprocity in everything – our relationship with each other, the earth, animals and plants. By accepting the gifts of others, the earth, we grow and thrive but only if we give our own gifts in return. We learn about Kimmerer’s thoughts on western science and worldview compared to indigenous ways of thinking, the relationship between those, and how all of that affects the way we live today. — I had been reading this throughout the month for Signed Out Loud, a book club. It’s a lot to take in, and I think it is best if it’s read in parts. There are three major themes being woven (or braided) together: the long tradition of sweetgrass and indigenous traditions involving it, her own journey as an indigenous scientist and professor, and her life as a mother. While I did enjoy all parts, I feel like this book could’ve been a little more focused on one or two themes. That might help the book not feel so long and slightly meandering. That aside, Kimmerer’s writing is beautiful and very evocative. She takes the time to describe the nature she sees around her, how she interacts with it and learns from the land, and how she teaches her students about the earth. I really appreciated all of the stories that she shared, both personal and from the various tribes she’s connected or worked with. I learned a lot more about various indigenous traditions, and how they make sure they give back more than they take. This book reminded me how much I really miss being out in nature for longer periods of time, and I’m honestly excited for spring and summer to be able to really enjoy being outside. I would certainly recommend this, but I’d also encourage you to seek out indigenous reviews of this and not take just my white perspective on this.

Our Bloody Pearl by D.N. Bryn. Perle is a siren that’s been trapped in a tub on a pirate ship since Kian, the captain, created a device that allowed her to cancel out all siren song and capture them. Perle finally sees a chance to escape from Kian’s hold when the ship is attacked by another pirate crew, and is found by Dejean, the captain. Despite Perle growling at Dejean and being hostile, he simply treats them with kindness and does what he can to gain Perle’s trust. Slowly, the two of them build trust and a language of signs, quickly turning into banter and a tenuous relationship. Dejean devises a plan to relocate Perle and eventually help them return to the sea, and discovers Perle’s far more injured than first suspected. Their tail doesn’t work, and the best they can do is wiggle their hips. Dejean and Murielle work together to help Perle adjust to their new situation, recovering from being stuck in poor conditions and figuring out an aid to allow Perle to swim again. However, it’s not all calm. Kian is angry her first siren catch isn’t under her thumb anymore and is a looming threat above Dejean and Perle’s heads. They both know they have to kill Kian, because she’s been so destructive to the sirens and her own crew. — I’ve been seeing this book talked about a lot by my BookTube friends, and I am so happy I finally got around to reading this! First, let’s go over the fantastic representation in this. Perle, and the rest of the sirens, don’t have a concept of gender like humans do, so they/them pronouns are used for them throughout the whole book. There’s a lesbian couple, ace characters, and disability rep. There’s probably more that’s slipping my mind right now, but it’s incredible. I really appreciate that while this sort of has romance, it’s never obvious. It’s much more subtle and gradual. I absolutely love Perle and their dry sarcasm, the banter between them and Dejean when they’d built up enough language to communicate. I was fascinated by how Bryn did that part, the sign language, because by some of the descriptions, I can see the parallels with ASL. But at the same time, it certainly fit in the world and made sense. Of course, sign language is incredibly difficult to portray using English because there’s so much lost in translation, but the way it was done in this book worked for this situation. To be clear, there aren’t any deaf characters. The sign language was developed because humans can’t understand the vocal language of sirens, and the sirens already use signs in some situations. Perle simply taught Dejean those, and they created more as their bond developed. I really liked the siren mythology in this, how pods work, their views on social and gender constructs, territories, and the conversation around disability in terms of life in the sea versus on land. I could go on and on, but I think I’ve said enough! I really liked this and encourage you to go read it!

That’s all for my March books. I am SO glad that I was able to close out the month with two good books after those awful ones. Leave in the comments a book that you enjoyed recently or are currently reading.

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.

International Transgender Day of Visibility

Hello, I’m Rogan and today is International Transgender Day of Visibility! This is a day where we celebrate and recognize all the amazing and wonderful trans and nonbinary people that exist in the world. First started in 2009 because at the time, the only well-known day that centered trans people was Trans Day of Remembrance. It is very important, but it is a day of mourning and fails to recognize the vibrant living trans community. I also want to recognize and give a huge thank you to all of the beautiful trans Black, Indigenous and women of color who are the foundations of this community. It’s because of them that trans people in the US have the ability to be who we are today. However, we still have a long way to go for trans rights, and they are under attack right now in several states. I’ll link some resources at the end of this post to check out.

I want to remind you all that though I don’t talk about it all that much on here: I am queer or nonbinary, and I use he/him and they/them pronouns. Yes, I am very masculine-presenting most of the time, but that doesn’t make me any less trans. I’ve been playing around with what label fits me best, and queer feels the best for me. That one word encapsulates the whole of who I am, both my sexuality and my gender. Nonbinary is another word that works for me, but it’s not the first one I reach for. I want to be clear here, in this video I will often say trans as an umbrella term. Not all nonbinary people are trans or identify as such. I typically don’t refer to myself as trans, though I do fall under the trans umbrella. My gender experience isn’t one that people are aware of, or realize is possible, so I want to talk a little about it.

People have this idea that all trans people experience gender dysphoria, dissatisfaction with their own bodies, and want to change it. This is true for many trans people! But not every trans person wants to have surgery or even do anything to change their bodies. Simply acknowledging that they’re trans is enough, or their gender identity doesn’t cause them to feel the need to do anything except socially transition. This might be just a pronoun change, changing their name, adjusting gender presentation, among other things. I personally don’t experience gender dysphoria, but I do experience gender ambivalence. I’m fine with my body, I like my body, but I’m not attached to the idea of being a “man” nor do I want a more feminine body. A lot of people also have this idea that nonbinary people all want to either have an androgynous presentation, or have complete gender fuckery, mixing things that are categorized as masculine and feminine together. This is true for many nonbinary people. It is not for many others, including me. I really don’t mind presenting as masculine, and I don’t mind it when people use he/him to refer to me. However, I have been playing a little more with things that are usually seen as feminine, such as nail polish, lipstick, make-up. I really like it when people specifically use they/them pronouns for me. It’s a little thing, but it actually does make a difference.

To close out, I want to emphasize that trans and nonbinary people never owe you anything. Explaining their gender to you, sharing their transition journey—medically, socially, etc.—or even disclosing it in the first place, none of it. You may ask questions, but only if they’ve opened it up to them. Otherwise, do learning on your own. Don’t lean on your trans friend to do all of the work, there’s a lot of trans people online doing the work already. There are tons of resources out there on the internet, use them. The trans experience is so vast and varied, and I certainly can’t speak for the whole of it as a white, masculine-presenting person. I’ve barely scratched the surface today, and I’m sure I’ll think of things I wish I had added into this video once it’s up, but it’s a start. I’ll gladly answer any questions you might have that are specific to me and my experience, but for anything beyond that, go elsewhere. That’s it for today, Happy International Trans Day of Visibility!

About anti-trans bills:
Bills that have been introduced:
Things you can do:

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Dungeons & Dragons and the deaf community

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome! Today I just want to chat a little about Dungeons & Dragons, and the almost nonexistent relationship it has with the deaf community. This is somewhat based on a Thursday Thoughts video I did a while ago for my Patrons, but that was completely unscripted. For this video, I’m planning it a bit more and making my thoughts more coherent. Also, just to be clear, I’m talking about the original roleplaying D&D, not the spin-off games like Lords of Waterdeep, Dragonfire, and such.

In case you’re not really familiar with D&D, here’s a quick intro. At its core, it’s a collaborative storytelling game. You have the Dungeon or Game Master, often abbreviated to DM or GM, and Player Characters, PCs for short. The DM is responsible for the world and lore, encounters which is where the PCs fight monsters, baddies, and such. The DM also takes on the role of all the non-player characters, NPCs, like the townspeople, other adventurers, villains, creatures, etc. The PCs are the ones who move the story along, decide on what they want to do in this world. Yeah, there can be a bit of dice rolling, but it’s always up to the table for what style of play they want. Roleplay-heavy, combat-heavy, a mix of both, gritty or light, the possibilities are endless. So what is my background in D&D anyway? I have none. In all seriousness, of course I knew about D&D growing up. It’s everywhere in pop culture, movies, TV shows, and such. But I’ve never actually played myself, mostly because no one around me did and it never really occurred to me that it would be something I’d want to play.

Lately though, I’ve been kind of consumed by it. I blame NerdSync and his video about D&D, which I will link! Because of his video, I’ve been watching a lot of Dimension 20, a comedy-based D&D actual-play show on Dropout and YouTube, and their vodcast Adventuring Academy, where they talk about the ins and outs of D&D and tips, how to be a good Dungeon/Game Master, different styles of play, community, and a lot more. A lot of the earlier seasons are available on YouTube for free, and most are captioned. I decided to sign up for Dropout though, because I caught up on all the free episodes, there are some that will ever only be on Dropout, and it’s guaranteed there will be captions. Plus, it’s only $6 a month which is a great deal for all of the content they have on there! Quick detour for those who don’t know, Dropout is a subscription service under CollegeHumor, and all the shows on there are comedy, but also very adult so plenty of swearing, references to sex, and so on. AND completely ad-free. This isn’t sponsored, I just think they’re neat, that’s all.

ANYWAY, back to the topic of D&D! I think it’s quite unfortunate there aren’t many deaf people playing D&D visibly online, because I think our language is uniquely suited to this game. Before I go into that, I want to acknowledge that there are many reasons why there aren’t many deaf people playing in the first place. Access to knowledge of the game in the first place. It requires a group and someone willing to DM, which is already difficult for hearing people, so it’s even more difficult for deaf people to accomplish this. The information, like the DM’s Guide and Player’s Handbook, aren’t very accessible to many deaf people because it’s in dense English and not necessarily easy for people to understand if English isn’t their primary language. Many D&D actual plays are in podcast/audio form only which automatically excludes deaf people, and if a transcript is even provided, we come back to written English. And transcripts frequently lose a lot of the nuance that comes with seeing facial expressions, body language, and so on. So with that said, there are some people doing some streams. Check out Deaf Board Game Convention, I’ll link them below, they’ve been doing some streams for various games, including some D&D campaigns. There is also a Facebook group specifically for Deaf D&D, but I haven’t joined the group yet. While I was looking for deaf D&D groups, I also came across a couple of articles talking about it. Unfortunately, these articles are well over a couple years old and the social media accounts mentioned are defunct now. So there isn’t really anything recent apart from the Facebook groups which are somewhat active. Just want to point you to what I know about!

Now, why is ASL or any sign language suited for D&D? First of all, it’s obviously a visual language, and it is FANTASTIC for storytelling! There are some things that a DM could do or describe that’s just impossible to do in English. They could even describe things happening in slow motion or sped up. The possibilities are endless. Roleplaying is, in a way, literally built into our language. There’s a linguistic term: role-shifting. If we’re recounting a conversation we had with someone, we establish the sides of the conversation. When my shoulders and body is this way, I’m the one speaking. And now I’m saying what the other person said in our conversation by rotating my body. We also have other ways of shifting roles by changing our signing style to maybe match the other person, generalizing it into an attitude, mimicking the body language people had, changing facial expressions, and others. That’s a very simplified explanation, and the possibilities are truly varied. Of course, not everyone is a master storyteller—and you don’t have to be to play D&D!—but the fact that it’s already baked into the language gives us a boost.

I put up an informal survey on my Instagram stories, and interestingly, I got the same number of responses for people who did and who didn’t but were interested. Looking at who, there weren’t all that many deaf people who already do play but there are quite a few who want to. This doesn’t surprise me at all, and I really look forward to the day when there are a lot more deaf DMs out there and there’s more visibility for D&D in the deaf community!

Funny that I haven’t even played a single game of D&D myself, but I have quite a lot of thoughts about it!! Let me know in the comments if you play, or any thoughts you have about this. I’d also love to know of any resources you would recommend I take a look at!

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.