Top 20 GeekMom Articles of 2015

As 2015 comes to a close and we prepare for 2016, take a look at some of your top viewed GeekMom posts from 2015.

What does this list tell us? That you are a diverse group of readers, interested in everything from creativity to conventions to coding to knitting to Lego to pop culture discussions.

What’s ahead? There’s sure to be more about women in the world of geekdom, DIY articles putting geeky spin on clothing, knitting and baking, more tech and more strong opinions about everything from Marvel movies to the comics.

Thanks for joining us in 2015 and here’s to a great 2016!

If you like any of the below articles, let us know why in the comments.

1.The Meanest Thing You Say to Your Creative Friend

What I could really use is a time turner on my hands. Photo by lozikiki on Flickr
What I could really use is a time turner on my hands. Photo by lozikiki on Flickr

Article by Ruth Suehle.

You just worked your creative butt off and finished the final touches on your amazing project only to show it to a trusted friend, family member, or blog community and this is the response you get:

You have too much time on your hands.

In her article, Ruth discusses how this phrase can take on dual meanings. She also addresses how one should respond to such comments, with or without snarky retaliation when dealing with friends, family, or anonymous commenters working on their troll skills.

2.Whoops! Inappropriate Old Movie

Whoops, inappropriate movie.
That’s a whole different sort of entertainment. (CC 2.0 by Nadia Hatoum)

 Article by Laura Grace Weldon.

Have you ever thought about showing some of your favorite cult classics to your tiny human?

Check out Laura Weldon’s article about showing Blazing Saddles, Airplane, or Sleeper to her kiddos.

Also, check out some of the comments other geeky moms have faced when watching movies that are inappropriate for kids. Pop some popcorn, scroll through the hilarious comments from fellow GeekMoms and enjoy this article one more time.

3.Why I Won’t Be Attending Wizard World

An upcoming Wizard World convention’s webpage with the “Cosplay & Fan Communities” section conspicuously empty, but representative of their attitude towards those groups. Screenshot by Ruth Suehle (thanks to Boycott Wizard World on Facebook for pointing out this glaring hole in event information).
An upcoming Wizard World convention’s webpage with the “Cosplay & Fan Communities” section conspicuously empty, but representative of their attitude towards those groups. Screenshot by Ruth Suehle (thanks to Boycott Wizard World on Facebook for pointing out this glaring hole in event information).

Article by Ruth Suehle.

Wizard World-branded Convention, is it a Fandom gathering or Fan-exploitation.

In her article about the pros and, well, cons, Ruth takes on the Wizard World convention and how they move in after other major conventions come to town. She even explores several instances when Wizard World feigned ignorance when prize winners stepped forward to claim their prize, only to receive blank stares from the Wizard World officials.

Explore Ruth’s hard hitting article about disappointed fans as they get slapped in the face by Wizard World Convention and its dark secrets.

4.  The Dreaded G-Word: When Your Child is Asynchronous

Image Source: Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley
Image Source: Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

Article by Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley.

Parenting isn’t neat, clean, or pretty. Most days parenting consists of chaos and emotional highs or lows. Continue reading Top 20 GeekMom Articles of 2015

Rape as a Plot Device: The Difference Between ‘Spartacus’ and ‘Game of Thrones’

Spartacus, Starz, War of the Damned, Roman Gladiators
Would you believe the majority of people in this photo are rape victims? image via Starz

Spartacus and Game of Thrones have many similarities. Both are historicals, though Game of Thrones world is in a fantasy medieval setting while Spartacus is set in ancient Rome but both societies are patriarchal.

Both have a sprawling cast, romantic subplots, nudity, and violence, including many instances of rape. Both are set in a brutal world where human lives are cheap.

Both are shows in which beloved characters suffer shocking deaths and, yes, women are fridged to create conflict and drama.

Why, then, do I unreservedly love Spartacus while watching Game of Thrones lately often fills me with disgust?

I could go the easy route and say that Spartacus is better written, at least better written than this season of Game of Thrones, but that’s too easy, though it’s true.

From Jamie’s ridiculous plan to invade Dorne with only Bronn as back-up to the silliness of them actually being able to get close to Myrcella, and to Cersei’s absurd reasoning that put her former lover who helped commit regicide in charge of fanatics who have power over the crown, the logic on this season of GoT is lacking.

(Note: Steven S. DeKnight, executive producer of the excellent Daredevil series, also was an executive producer on Spartacus, which gives you an indication of his ability to create masterful shows.)

No, the real explanation is more complicated. For one, the women aren’t singled out for special rape treatment or showcased nude just for boobies. Men are also raped on Spartacus, sometimes repeatedly, to the point where when I looked up an episode summary once, it mentioned a shocking assault, and I had no idea if it would be against a man or a woman. (Spoiler: Julius Caesar was the victim.)

You deserved better plotting, Sansa. Image via HBO
You deserved better plotting, Sansa. Image via HBO

Men are also nude quite often in Spartacus. You like Manu Bennett as Slade Wilson? Let me introduce you to Crixus, the champion of Capua. Not to mention all those gladiator training sessions or the gladiator bathing sequences. Or the orgies.

Secondly, and most important, rape has consequences for the victims that are explored extensively in Spartacus. In one case, a character spends an entire season regaining their agency and, oh, it’s a glorious scene when she finally confronts her tormentor and wins. In the case of Crixus, who is being used as a sex toy and stud by his mistress, his lack of consent is made clear, as is his frustration at his failure to prevent what’s happening, though he, of course, has no way to fight back because he’s a slave.

He, too, is damaged, and he, too, is allowed to confront and triumph over his tormentor.

Spartacus isn’t a show that uses rape to shock viewers. It’s a show interested in the abuse of power, how that abuse destroys the psyche of those who suffer under it, and how the victims take back their power or sometimes crumble underneath it. It also explores the mistakes people make as a result of being damaged. Good people do bad things and sometimes bad people do something good.

These are complex characters.

Game of Thrones seems to be only showing abuse of women (and one man) to prove that, yes, it’s a violent and scary world and people die at any time. It’s not at all interested in showing us recovery from abuse, save in one case (Dany), so much as using women’s nude bodies to horrify or titillate viewers. This is the show that created a character, Ros, whose sole purpose was to be naked, be used for sex, and then tortured to death to prove how evil Joffrey was even though we already knew that. Heck, Ros even died off-screen. We’ve no idea how she felt.

In Spartacus, we know how all the victims feel. Some of them die and never get any resolution. Some of them are broken and commit suicide. Some of them fight back and lose. Most of them lose, really, given what happens to Spartacus’ army.

The story is about them and their struggles and the struggles of those who want to defeat them. As with Daredevil, the villains are complex.  Spartacus isn’t interested in simply proving how evil the Roman General who enslaved Spartacus is so much as showing how he got that way and what motivates him.

Spartacus shows us Katrina Law (Nyssa on Arrow) nude not because it’s cable and hey, boobies, but because the main character’s refusal to use her is important to both of them.

Spartacus knows where it’s going with its characters and never forgets that. You know the point of view, the hopes and dreams, of the victims of abuse and power in Spartacus.

In Game of Thrones, you know them as the women gang-raped in the background at Castor’s keep, or as naked now dead Ros, or any of Ramsey’s faceless victims.

And even when we know them, the producers sometimes insist it’s not rape, like Dany’s original wedding night or Cersei’s rape last season, which the producers claimed, hey, it really wasn’t, even though she said ‘no’ at the end. In any case, neither Cersei nor Jamie seemed bothered by it. So why did we even have that scene? What purpose did it serve?

I have no idea.

What purpose did the rape of Sansa serve?

I suspect it’s to show Theon’s change from Reek back to Sansa’s ally. How nice that Sansa’s rape is about the man pain and not her own. How horrible that we never saw her at least attempt to gain a little sense of herself  in a situation where she appeared powerless or even watched her put together a plan (however futile) that might have made this story a little bit about her and not about evil Ramsey. Plus, we’ve already seen Sansa terrorized and beaten. She’s in a tough situation. We know. We get it. Now show us something new.

For those who say ‘well, what did you expect from that scene, given the situation?” I say:

Something interesting. 

Something that showed me a different part of her personality. Something that isn’t used every other episode on Game of Thrones just to prove men are evil bastards.

Something far better written.

Something of the quality of Spartacus.

The Spartacus: War of the Damned Finale: Nearly Perfect

I was not hooked on Spartacus: Blood and Sand by the first episode. Nor the second. But sometime between the third and sixth episode of that first season, I was drawn in. And the show never stopped surprising me as I fell in love with characters I knew would die, as the plot twisted and turned, and as the ancient saga of the rebellion by the former gladiator, Spartacus, drew to it’s inevitable conclusion.

At some point, I will have to sit back and digest the entirety of the series but right now, I’m still blown away the the finale, which aired Friday night on the Starz network. It was not the ending I completely wanted but it was definitely the ending I and other viewers needed.
Continue reading The Spartacus: War of the Damned Finale: Nearly Perfect

Spartacus Morituri by Mark Morris

Spartacus Morituri by Mark Morris, Image: Amazon

The third and final season of the hit Starz series Spartacus doesn’t air until January leaving fans yearning for some gladiatorial combat. They’ll find plenty in this novel based on the series. It’s the perfect way to pass the time until the show returns.

Spartacus Morituri takes place during the first season of the series. This means Spartacus is the champion of Capua, Batiatus is alive and kicking, and the focus is on the gladiators and political back-stabbing.

Hieronymus is the new lanista in Capua and he’s determined to make a name for himself with his gladiators. He’s also extremely well-funded, being backed by the real-world historical figure of Marcus Licinius Crassus. While battles rage in the arena, both Batiatus’s and Solonius’s gladiators are getting mysteriously sick which puts them at deadly disadvantage.

Continue reading Spartacus Morituri by Mark Morris