Week of Geek: Springfield, New New York and Dreamland

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Hi again Geeklings!  Welcome to July!  Hope you had a great Canada Day!

So last week we got a first look at a new show airing in August on Netflix, and I’m pretty darn stoked.

This is our first look at Disenchantment, the third series from Matt Groening, who created The Simpsons and Futurama.  You may have heard of at least one of those shows.  While the above clip is really short, any longtime fans will definitely get a sense of the type of humor that often runs through all three shows (and that’s gotta be John DiMaggio as the king; his highness sounds way too much like Bender).

I’m excited for this new show because I literally grew up with Groening’s cartoons.  The Simpsons first aired all the way back in 1989, when I turned 8 years old.  Futurama debuted in 1999, when I turned 18.  So head’s up, a lot of this post is just going to be me gushing, because while I may not be good at a lot of languages I am fluent in Simpsons quotes.  My brothers and I still quote lines to each other to this day.  Treehouse of Horror episodes are still required viewing at Halloween.  I cannot understate how much of an impact The Simpsons has had on my life.

And it’s hard to describe how much of a big deal The Simpsons was when it first aired.  In the early 90s they were EVERYWHERE!  Merchandising, commercials, t-shirts, toys, even music.  There was a single called “Do the Bartman” and it is one of the most 90s things you will ever come across (also Michael Jackson had a hand in writing it and singing backing vocals).  The show was ahead of it’s time and considered quite risque in it’s day.

Countless guest stars, a theme park ride, a movie and some weird predictions later, the show has had almost 30 seasons by now, and there’s quite a bit of debate amongst fans when it may have gone off the rails (or definitely, depending on who you ask).  There have been quite a few recent episodes I’ve enjoyed but even I have to agree that it’s just not as funny as it used to be.  That can easily be chalked up to franchise fatigue, which is what happens when any show has been on for too long or had two many episodes.  It’s just impossible to keep that same level of quality over 30 years; you run out of jokes, ideas, storylines and character plots.  Most fans think the ‘Golden Age’ of the show was roughly between seasons 3 and seasons 9, and I’m inclined to agree.  I personally would tell any new viewer to start with seasons 4 and 5.  There are some classic episodes there.

Now Futurama doesn’t have the same problem of franchise fatigue as The Simpsons, as it hasn’t lasted nearly as long, but it has still had a bumpy history.  As I mentioned it started in 1999… but was cancelled in 2003.  It was then brought back in 2008… but was cancelled again in 2013.  But even with it’s first cancellation it had a strong fanbase, one that continues to this day.  There are people who feel Futurama surpassed The Simpsons in terms of quality, and while the show may not have had as much of an impact on me as the residents of Springfield did, the Planet Express crew and their wacky adventures and endless skewering of Sci Fi tropes still holds a special place in my heart.  They did a whole episode with the original cast of Star Trek, how could I not love them?

Besides, it has one quality that I don’t think The Simpsons quite managed; some episodes of Futurama will make you cry for days.  I still won’t watch ‘Jurassic Bark‘; once was plenty, thanks.

As was perhaps inevitable, the Simpsons and Futurama even did a crossover a few years ago.

And now we’ll see how Disenchantment does.  From what we know so far the story follows Bean, Elfo and Lucy, a princess, elf and demon respectively.  While The Simpsons is more slice of life and Futurama is more sci fi, Disenchantment will play around with fantasy.  I can’t wait!

What do you guys think?  Excited?  Couldn’t care less?  Eager to check out more Groening shows if you haven’t already?  Which one is your favorite?  Post in the comments or head over to WriteIt.

Thanks guys!  Have a great week, don’t forget to sign up for the Teen Challenge and get those ballots in, and until next time, End of Line.

TEEN CHALLENGE – Week 2

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Hi Guys!  Welcome to week 2 of the Teen Challenge!

This week’s theme is Sports.  I bet a lot of you are following the World Cup, so you already have a head start on that theme.

As with last week you’ll find the challenges either online or at your local library.  Get the challenges in to get your name in the draws and don’t forget to vote on a Summer Party.  Have fun!

Week of Geek: Pride Month Recommendations Part 4: Books!

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Hi again Geeklings!  Welcome to our final week of Pride Month 2018 and a whole lot more recommendations, just for you.

So let’s get to a library’s bread and butter; BOOKS!  SO MANY BOOKS!  Unlike last week’s post, where I was kind of coming up empty, we have no shortage of titles to suggest this week.

It wasn’t always like that though.  For the longest time the only way stories about LGBTQ+ people got published was if they were marketed to adults and ended in tragedy.  As this article points out, back in the middle of the 20th century if a book showed gay characters having positive experiences the book would’ve been considered obscene and would’ve been confiscated at post offices.  What?  Really?  Really?

I’ll Get There.  It Better Be Worth the Trip by John Donovan is largely considered one of, if not the first, YA queer books to be published, all the way back in 1969, which was the same year as the Stonewall Riots and only a couple of years after The Outsiders kicked of a new wave of YA fic.  In the 1960s homosexuality was still considered a mental disorder and was against the law in a lot of places.  Early YA novels featuring homosexuality still contained a lot of tragedy, and that didn’t really start to turn until the 1980s, particularly with books like Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden which was published in 1982.  That book has been frequently banned since it’s publication, and was even publicly burned at a school in 1993.  Change came slowly, with many books featuring only side characters that fit the rainbow, and whether side or not most LGBTQ+ characters were male or white.  It was the early 2000s when queer YA really started to take off, and to feature not just gay characters but trans, ace, bi, fluid and all sorts of people.  Though there are still many missteps and many imbalances that continue to this day, the market is there so publishers and authors keep putting new stories and new voices out there.  And nowadays we can expect dozens of queer YA books to be published each year, whereas before we’d be lucky if we got one.

So short overview.  Again, click on that article link to learn more.  But now, let’s get to the books!

Some I like to recommend are…

The Summer of Jordi PerezThe Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding – I’m currently reading this one, so the jury’s still out, but really liking it so far.  It’s sweet, it’s summery, and it’s main character Abby, though a girl with quite a few insecurities in some areas of her life, also does not let the fact that she’s plus-sized stand in the way of her fashion dreams or her fashion sense.  She’s someone who knows what she likes and is quite comfortable in the fact that she’s gay.  It’s just finding someone who likes her back that way that’s the problem.  But her fellow intern at a trendy boutique, Jordi, is the latest girl to catch Abby’s attention.  Between that, competing for a coveted job and hanging with her new friend Jax while they taste test burgers in LA, it’s shaping up to be quite the summer.

Carry onCarry On: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow by Rainbow Rowell – I LOVE Rainbow Rowell.  I LOVE Fangirl.  And I LOVE Harry Potter.  And The Adventures of Simon Snow was Fangirl‘s in-universe version of Harry Potter.  And Carry On is a companion novel to Fangirl featuring Simon Snow.  Confused yet?  I don’t blame you, but here’s the gist; Simon’s attending his last year at Watford School of Magicks.  He’s supposed to be the Chosen One, but certainly doesn’t feel like he’s living up to that, what with his girlfriend breaking up with him and his roommate, Baz, probably plotting against him.  And Baz is also probably a vampire.  Simon’s going to have to figure all of this out and also save the magical world.  It’s kind of a slightly more realistic Hogwarts, as the witches and wizards in this story still live in regular homes and still use tech.  Give it a try.  And there’s a sequel coming!  Wayward Son is not due until 2020, but it is coming and I can’t wait!

The Love InterestThe Love Interest by Cale Dietrich – This one involves teenaged spies and unexpected attraction getting in the way of being a teenage spy.  Caden and Dylan have been raised by a secret organization to be ‘Love Interests’.  Their job is to seduce a young lady who’s bound to make an impact on the world, with the goal being that she’ll choose one of them as her husband, and then the chosen spy feeds information about her to the organization to sell to the highest bidder.  Caden is a ‘nice’ and Dylan is a ‘bad’, so a nice guy and a bad boy.  And the stakes are high, because whoever she doesn’t choose gets hunted down by the organization and killed.  You might’ve guessed the twist.  Caden and Dylan might actually be falling… for each other.  *cue ominous music*

Ship ItShip It by Britta Lundin – This book had made my list of 2018 releases to watch out for, and having read it I stand by that inclusion.  Claire is a 17 year old fangirl, and her favorite show is Demon Heart.  She ships the two male leads hard.  But when she gets the chance to ask the panel of the show’s actors at her local comic con about that ship, one of the actors shoots her down in a less than kind way.  The reaction goes viral, the show needs to repair it’s image, and Claire is whisked away with the cast and creators to hit up other comic cons.  She’s determined to make her favorite ship canon… but she’s also interested in Tess, the artist who keeps showing up at these cons.  As much as I may not agree with everything Claire does in this book, as a proud fangirl I do get where she’s coming from.

Honorable Mention:

GeekerellaGeekerella by Ashley Poston – So technically the two main characters in Geekerella are not queer (or at least not in any way that’s shown in the book), but some of the other characters in the book are.  But mostly I’m including it here because I really REALLY like it!  Seriously, it’s been a while since I’ve liked a book that much.  This take on Cinderella features Elle, a die hard Starfield fan living with her step mother and step sisters and working out of the Magic Pumpkin food truck.  Her favorite show is being made into a movie, and she’s not sold on Darien, the actor chosen as the lead.  She ends up registering for a cosplay contest at the local convention… if she can do it without her step family finding out.  It’s such a good book!  And a sequel is coming for this one too, due out next year, called The Princess and the Fangirl.

Do we have more?  Heck yeah, we have more!  I have a massive list posted below.  We’ve got books featuring gay, lesbian, trans, ace, bi and fluid characters.  Click on the title of the list to see the whole thing.

I SO want to read Noting Happened, Ash, All Out, It’s Not Like it’s a Secret, Let’s Talk About Love, Sometime After Midnight (another Cindrella take), Queens of Geek (can’t believe I still haven’t read that one yet) and The Pros of Cons.  So many books, so little time.

Any books you’ve read that you’d recommend?  Add any suggestions to the comments section or check out WriteIt.

Hope you guys enjoy the rest of Pride Month.  Get ready for Canada Day and the rest of summer, make sure to sign up for the Teen Challenge, and until next time, End of Line.

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Summer = TEEN CHALLENGE!

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Hi Everyone!  Today is the first official day of summer (weird, seeing as how it’s felt like summer for a while now), and tomorrow is the first day of the Teen Challenge.  Coincidence?  I think NOT!

As with previous summers we wanted to do something special for our teens, but this year we’re trying some new stuff.  Ya know, doing things a little different.  Each week we’re going to give you guys four literary-themed challenges to complete.  Week one is going with Fantasy.

Some challenges you can do at home, some you do in the library, all can be done either by you or by you and friends working together.  It’s going to be super fun.

So what happens when you complete a challenge?  Your name gets entered in a draw.  We have weekly prizes and we have a grand prize – Beats Bluetooth Headphones!  WHA?!

And as if all THAT weren’t enough, we’re having a party.  A party YOU get to vote on for the theme.  We have three choices this year; a Videogame Fest, an Escape Room Party or Muggle Quidditch.  Tough choice, but I know you guys are up for it.

So how do you get in on this?  Go to the Teen Challenge website starting tomorrow and create an account of your very own!  Then get on those challenges!  They change every week, so keep an eye out, and also look to see your name on our new Leaderboard.

Have fun guys!  Stay tuned for more info!  Can’t wait to see what you come up with!  And enjoy summer!

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Week of Geek: Pride Month Recommendations Part 3: Movies

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Hi again Geeklings!  Welcome to week three of our Pride month recommendations.

This week though, I wanted to talk about movies.  I was wholeheartedly excited to put a list together of teen-friendly flicks that celebrate pride.  In reality, it turned out to be a heck of a lot harder to find those kinds of movies than I thought.  Here I am trying to write up some film options that are a) appropriate for the under-18 crowd and b) would appeal to today’s modern teen.  And… I’m kinda coming up a little empty.  Many of the most acclaimed films of the last year that highlight LGBTQ+ themes (like Moonlight or Call Me By Your Name) are rated R, which doesn’t really help you guys.

So why the dry spell?  Well, I think it’s mostly because while a lot of books and TV shows are starting to get more open about that kind of representation, a lot of mainstream movies are still REALLY hesitant to represent LGBTQ+ characters (here’s a more current assessment).  And like a lot of things in life, the main explanation as to why seems to be money.  Franchises like Star Wars, Marvel and the Wizarding World spend millions upon millions of dollars on their films, and they want to make that money back as well as turn a profit.  This means that the stakes are higher for them then for a TV show or a book, and they have to appeal to the widest audience possible, both at home and globally.  And since LGBTQ+ practices are still pretty darn taboo in a lot of places, many countries will not screen movies that have explicitly gay/lesbian/trans/etc content.  Or in places where they are screened some movie goers will simply not buy a ticket for them.

It’s one of the reasons why we’re not getting any mention of Dumbledore’s sexuality in this year’s Fantastic Beasts movie.

Which is a huge bummer, if you ask me.  Mainstream films are just starting to come around to the idea of including more women and people of color in their casts, but anyone of a different orientation or gender identity is still being left in the closet.  Many filmmakers hint at it (like Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok or Antiope in Wonder Woman) but hardly anyone will come out and say it.  It’s beyond frustrating for a lot of people… and for librarians who want to talk about movies for you guys.

So what DO we have?

Well, how about Love, Simon?  Based off the book Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, this film follows Simon Spier, a teen who’s trying to balance his family, his friends, his school and being gay but not out.  But a couple of people pop up online; one person’s trying to blackmail him by threatening to out him, and another person has caught his romantic interests.  What will Simon do?  Put a hold on the movie and find out!

One I’d really recommend is Easy A.  Though the main character isn’t gay, one of the big characters in the film is, and that kind of sets up the whole story.  Released in 2010, it stars Emma Stone as Olive Penderghast, and since she’s already lied about losing her virginity she’s asked by her friend Brandon to pretend to sleep with him so everyone will think he’s straight and the bullies will leave him alone.  Olive decides to fully embrace her new bad girl image, even stitching a red ‘A’ to her clothes after her class reads The Scarlet Letter.  But, as things often do in these situations, everything gets out of hand.  Funny and smart, Easy A is definitely worth a look.

Anything else?  Well, last year I talked a bit about LeFou in the live-action Beauty and the Beast.  It turned out that was a whole lot of nothing, much hinted but not outright stated, but the film is still fun.  There’s also The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Struck by Lightning and Saved.

So yeah, kind of a short list today.  Hopefully that’ll change soon, and more studios, directors and producers will take a chance and tell more stories that represent more people.  Any movies you guys like that I missed?  Post away in the comments section.

One more week to go for Pride Month.  Stay tuned, have a great week and until next time, End of Line.

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