Your new series, Transformers-Robots In Disguise, is going to air on Cartoon Network. In the press release, you said it is because more boys watch Cartoon Network, that Transformers are for boys, and that girls watch what is still The Hub and will become Discovery Family.
Are you aware of how many of your fans you just insulted and dismissed.?  I am a female, and I have always loved Transformers, even though many deemed me nerdy and geeky because of it. It’s bad enough to be looked at as a freak by your peers simply because you love a particular toy. It is worse when fans of those same  toys — and the toy creator itself — ostracize those they don’t believe belong in the fandom. Yes, girls and women love Transformers just as much as boys and men.

I started watching Transformers when I was a kid in school. It was the original, now known as Generation 1. That was 30 years ago and since then I have watched many different incarnations, Animated, Armada, Beast Wars, Prime. I’ve seen the movies. Cringed at the deaths of Transformers I came to care about. I’ve read the comics, fan fictions, bought toys, tee-shirts and movies.

Now you say they are for boys. Why? Why do feel the need to dictate whom the cartoon is for? Why can’t it be for girls as well? Have you seen Twitter, Facebook and Deviant Art? So many of the Transformer fans there are girls and women.

Gender bias is nothing new and sadly a very real topic in the geek world. To have the very creators of something I enjoy so much deem it not for me because I am a woman bothers me. Transformers are just as much mine as any boy or man’s.

But your comments did not just insult Transformers’ legions of female fans. They also insulted and dismissed the legions of Bronies who are loyal to My Little Ponies. These boys and men have faced mockery and ridicule for their enjoyment and loyalty to a show, you and others have deemed appropriate only for girls. School age boys have been bullied, men have been laughed at and in some cases physically attacked for being Bronies.

Perhaps you could lead the way in ending the gender biased and separatism that plagues not only the geek world, but society in general, by not delegating which genders your shows and toy lines are for. Instead, you could promote and market them to all their fans regardless of gender.

As I watch the series Outlander I don’t have to wonder what it would be like to suddenly find oneself in the same place but in a different time. The sad truth is I am living it every day with my Aunt. She is getting older and suffered a TIA almost two years ago. Since that time I have been her full time caregiver and I have watched as this strong, vibrant, intelligent woman has declined physically and mentally.

I’ve watched this slow decline over the last year and a half but it never hit me as hard as it did the other day. My Aunt enjoys spending time on the enclosed back porch. I clicked the security camera on and watched her shuffle back to her seat. She is no longer the woman who climbed Machu Pichu and the pyramids in Mexico. Instead what I saw was a thin, frail, woman hunched over a cane, holding on as she went. A lump formed in my throat as my chest knotted.

She is living with me here and now but not really. More often than not she looks at me and says she feels like she has woken up in another time. Inevitably this leads her to ask me when she will be going home. She bought the house we live in over 60 years ago and now she thinks she lives back in the apartment she grew up in. Each time she asks, I explain how we are home and retell the story of how and when she bought the house. A story she used to tell me with pride when I was growing up.

When I see something wrong, I want to fix it. I’ve always been this way. I can’t fix this. I can only take care of her, retell the story of her life to her and reassure her. It doesn’t seem to be near enough and I feel helpless and useless.

For my Aunt, huge parts of her life are missing. She has indeed gone to another time while in the same place, but there is no romance in her journey. It is one of fear and heartbreak. She knows what is happening to her. There are days she knows where and when she is and is terrified. She can’t stop what is happening, none of us can.

The other night I was watching Deadliest Catch. In one scene, the captain’s girlfriend was cooking dinner for the crew. One of the crewmen said he was allergic to milk. Hearing this, the cook laughed and added milk to the meal she was preparing. The crew member became sick and when the cook found out, she laughed.

I was so angry when I saw that. I have food allergies and to see someone show such blatant disregard for another person’s health and deliberately feed a person food that would make that person sick was pathetic.

For most of my childhood, I complained of stomachaches and not feeling well. I was never taken seriously, usually being laughed at and dismissed as “the family’s little hypochondriac”. By the time I reached adulthood, I did not know what it was like not to have a chronic stomachache, ulcers and discomfort. When I would complain to my doctors they dismissed the problem or advised me to take anti-anxiety or anti-depressants. None believed my complaints were anything but psychological.

Only once did a doctor offer a different approach. She tested me for h-pylori, believing that to be the cause of my chronic ulcers. It wasn’t, but it was nice to have someone finally believe there was something wrong.

Several years ago another doctor did listen to me, right down to every meal I was eating during the day. He knew the problem, celiac disease, more commonly known as wheat gluten allergy. Since eliminating wheat from my diet, I no longer have a chronic stomachache. I don’t have acid burning my stomach and throat. It is a welcome relief, but I do miss so much of what I used to be able to eat, pasta and pastry most.

My family and friends all know of my allergy and still insist I eat foods I’m allergic to. Their usual comments are “Just take a taste.” What will one bite hurt?” “Oh, you won’t get that sick.” “It’ll be worth it.” These comments are stupid and upsetting. It is precisely these comments and attitudes that have kept me from attending any family holiday since my diagnosis. The sad truth of the matter is I do not trust anyone to not have gluten in what they are serving.

You cannot tell a person has food allergies by looking at them. It is not something they can ignore for one meal. It is never okay to “Just eat this one thing”. In many cases the allergic reaction is becoming sick, but it others, the allergy is so severe anaphylactic shock and death can result. As I watched that scene in Deadliest Catch I couldn’t help but wonder if that dingbat would have been laughing and giggling about feeding the crewmen milk if his allergic reaction had been anaphylaxis. Would she have giggled if her willful ignorance had cost that man his life?

Despite my constantly telling my family and friends all the things I can’t eat, they still try and entice me to eat what will make me sick. Food allergies are very real and serious. Those who do not have them need to understand this. For those who don’t have food allergies, before you feed a person with allergies what they are allergic to, or tell them “it will be okay, just this once”, ask yourself this, do you really want to feed a person a toxin that will not only sicken that person, but could cost them their life?

A month or so ago I got my Masterpiece Sideswipe and Sunstreaker. I break the cardinal rule of collecting Mint in Box, Transformers. I take them out of the box and play with them. I make comics with them and post the comics on my DeviantArt page.

 

I’ll devote another blog post to how my spoiled robots actually live. But this blog entry is about my Masterpiece Sunstreaker. I am a huge fan of the Lambo Twins, but there was something about my Sunstreaker that wasn’t sitting right with me. Sure, he’s missing the Autobot logo on his chestplates. No harm there, a small oversight. No, there was something else nagging me that was off about the frontline melee warrior. The proverbial itch that one cannot scratch. And I’m ashamed to admit it took me until this morning to have my “Eureka” moment.

 

Sunstreaker is missing his helm fins. Instead of his trademark fins, he is sporting the same audial horns as his twin, Sideswipe. How could the manufacturer get it so wrong? Yes, I know they just changed the paint scheme on the previously released Sideswipe, but really? Sunstreaker is known for his exotic helm fins. They are as much a part of him as his golden paint and narcissistic personality. It seems wrong to look at him and see audial horns. The Transformer Universe Sunstreaker has the helm fins, so they can be done and look pretty good I might add. It’s just Sunstreaker without his helm fins is like Prowl without his chevron or doorwings. It’s just wrong on every level. So very very wrong.

 

Masterpiece Sunstreaker and Sideswipe

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Transformer Universe Sunstreaker

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On June 30, 2014 the Supreme Court issued a ruling making the corporation Hobby Lobby a person with more rights than a woman. The 5 male justices all decided that an inanimate object, a piece of paper, which in essence is what a corporation is, has rights that women do not have. That inanimate object can arbitrarily decide which medications its health insurance will have to pay for based solely on religious grounds. Apparently those 5 men have forgotten this country was founded on the idea of a separation of church and state.

 

Oh, wait the corporation isn’t making those decisions. It is the owners of Hobby Lobby making those decisions. Odd thing about individuals and corporations, they are not the same entity. A corporation is set up to separate a person, from their business. The owners are arbitrarily making the decision to deny certain forms of birth control because they have had no issue with before, which brings up a bigger issue. Was this ever a religious rights issue? Why is Hobby Lobby so concerned about covering some forms of birth control when they themselves are helping to fund millions of abortions? Why do they have no religious issues when said forms of soon to be denied birth control make them a dividend profit?

 

Hobby Lobby invests in pharmaceutical companies that make birth control. So HL’s religious beliefs are not being affronted while money is put in their pockets. A large percentage of HL’s stock is from a China. A country which has over 14 million state funded abortions per year.

Hobby Lobby’s religious beliefs are nonissues while the company is able to buy mass merchandise at cheap prices to sell at a good mark up. The fact that money China receives from Hobby Lobby helps pay for abortions in that country doesn’t even cause a religious twinge in the righteous ones.

 

The health plan Hobby Lobby had before Obamacare with its Affordable Care Act did in fact pay for the very same medications it claimed it is religious opposed to. Odd that their religious conundrum began after the ACA came to fruition.  So was the whole lawsuit nothing more than a swipe at Obama with religion being a convenient excuse.

 

Another puzzle to their religious righteousness is their health insurance covers male impotency medication. One can assume that not all male employees of Hobby Lobby are married. Why is it, Hobby Lobby’s owners have no religious objection to unmarried men having sex? Surely their Christian faith, which was strong enough for them to be so outraged at the idea of paying for different form of birth control, must be just as bothered by men engaging in non-marital sex, a no-no in the Christian faith.

 

On June 30, 2014 the 5 male justices of the Supreme Court made a piece of paper a person with more rights than women. Assholes.

From June 25-30, my publisher, Writers AMuse Me will be having a special promotional contest. Visit the website of each of our writers and playwrights’ and find the hidden letters. Unscramble the letters and enter the contest at Writers Amuse Me.com.

Talking to a friend recently, she commented “Oh, that’s so vanilla.”

I replied “I like vanilla.”

Her response “You would. You’re weird. Vanilla is boring and bland.”

I did not take her assessment of me as an insult. Yes, in fact I am weird. Happily so. I was more miffed about her insult of vanilla.

Vanilla is many things, but boring and bland. No.

Take vanilla ice cream. It has a subtle yet distinct flavor. Its smooth yet subtle taste makes it the perfect ice cream for hot fudge sundaes. Neither overpowering nor getting lost in the warm, chocolaty goodness of the hot fudge. Nor does it get outshined by the sweet, creamy flavor of the whipped cream. Vanilla ice cream is also perfect for adding chocolate jimmies to. (For those of you not from Massachusetts, more than likely you call them chocolate sprinkles.) Again the vanilla flavor neither overpowers nor is lost in the chocolate bits.

The scent of vanilla is comforting and soothing. As with the flavor it is neither overpowering nor weak. Unlike so many scents it is not sickeningly sweet or bitter and sharp. When baking with vanilla the scent lingers but not too long, nor is the lingering scent unpleasant as so many can be. Far too many food smells delightful when cooking, but the scent that lingers hours to a day afterward, not so much.

Nilla wafers the quintessential childhood favorite with its subtle vanilla flavor and crunchy, crumby, bite. Yum. They are not just for lunchtime snacks anymore. They are used as the base for cheesecakes, banana pudding, tiramisu and Key Lime pie just to name a few. All delicious desserts enhanced by vanilla.

Vanilla, bland, not a chance. It is strong without overpowering. Subtle without being lost. It is comforting and soothing when edges are frayed and frazzled. Boring, hardly. Vanilla is versatile while remaining wonderfully independent.

So for those who still mock vanilla as bland and boring. I have to laugh. They are so very wrong.

I’ve been watching Transformers every morning. Who am I kidding? I’ve been watching Transformers for more years than I care to admit. Currently there are two different versions airing, the original G1 series and Transformers Prime. I’ve noticed something.

For some reason, each incarnation of Transformers portrays Starscream as an idiotic, cowardly traitor, a mediocre flier and incompetent in battle.

It leaves me wondering if those who write and produce the different series have ever read about who Starscream is.

Before the war he was Winglord of Vos, a brilliant scientist at the Academy creating many inventions while still a student.  A deep space explorer he ranged across galaxies and was unparalleled in flight. He had deadly accuracy in weapons training, and was well known for his weapon creations, including the null rays which he is most famous for.

Once he joined the Decepticon Army Starscream led his trine to become Megatron’s Elite Trine, while he himself became Air Commander and Second-In-Command of the Decepticon forces.

Why then is he always portrayed as such a coward, idiot and a traitor?

Perhaps his portrayal as a coward is because throughout every incarnation the one thing that is consistent with Starscream is he is afraid to die. As a soldier, as a Decepticon, and Second-In-Command, Starscream is a target not only for the Autobots but his fellow Decepticons. While it would be a badge of honor for any Autobot to off-line the Decepticon Second-In-Command, among the Decepticons it would be their chance to move up the ranks.

His portrayal as an idiot, I think is little more the comic relief. This is sad because it takes so much away from the character as he was originally written. He is not bungling, incompetent, or a mindless idiot. He is sharp-witted, intelligent and very quick to assess situation and see flaws in not only military strategy but weaponry. He is anyways very similar to the Autobot Second-In-Command Prowl, who is renowned in both armies for his intelligence and tactical brilliance.

The last and probably worst character assassination of Starscream is his constant portrayal as a traitor to the Decepticon cause. Starscream is the most loyal to their cause. The one who has betrayed the Decepticon cause is in fact their leader Megatron. When he called for the revolution that led to the Cybertronian war, Megatron’s rallying cry was freedom and equality for all Cybertronians. No longer should Cybertronians be owned as slave and forced to fight in the gladiator pits of Kaon. No longer should the elite few hoard all the energon and wealth for themselves. He argued the Council should no longer be able to rule without question and they should be held accountable to the citizens of Cybertron. Megatron argued the Flyers of Vos should be seen as equal Cybertronians not some strange sub race that were to be feared because they were different and had a different culture.

It was to that cause Starscream and the Flyers of Vos and other Decepticons pledged themselves. And it is cause that Megatron himself has betrayed. He no longer fights for equality or freedom but for universal domination and tyranny. His will and word are absolute and any who disagrees finds themselves on the opposing end of his fusion cannon.

Starscream is unapologetically ambitious. Is this something to be looked down upon or admired? Starscream has never hidden his ambition or desire for power and greatness, either scientific or political. Throughout the different series, his ambition has always been looked down upon and scorned.

Combine all of these factors and Starscream is constantly portrayed as a traitor. But is he? It was Megatron that deviated from the path of his original cause to one of self serving glory and power. Is Starscream truly a traitor if he still supports the Decepticon cause but no longer supports Megatron? Is it wrong for a Second-In-Command to point out obvious flaws in not only tactics but weaponry? For those of us familiar with the G1 series has anyone figured out the reason for Megatron’s giant, flying, purple griffon yet?

Does questioning the wisdom or lack thereof and plans of a leader make one a traitor if those questions are in the best interest of original cause one fights for? Is it better for one to be a devoted, mindless sycophant who obeys without question, even when the chosen path is wrong and will cause more harm than good?

Starscream does question Megatron; call him out on his faults and misguided plans. Yes, he has tried to overthrow and offline the tyrant. His loyalty to the true Decepticon cause puts him at odds with their leader, but does it make him a traitor, or the most loyal of Decepticons?

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All of my life I’ve wanted 2 dogs. A Mastiff and a German Shepherd. No one in my family wants a Mastiff besides me and since I live with my Aunt I knew that big, drooly behemoth wasn’t an option. Much to my surprise however when it came time for us to get a new dog, my Aunt said she too had always wanted a German Shepherd.

For years we have done older rescue but have had problems with the dogs. All were supposedly housebroken, two were not, all supposedly healthy, again they were not. We spent a fortune on vet visits for everything from food allergies, to chronic ear problems. One of the rescues was supposed to be good with cats, that wasn’t true and he made our cat unhappy. Not one to be defeated she launched spectacular sneak attacks on her live in irritant that would have made a Special Operative proud.

So after the passing of the last rescue we decided to get a well bred German Shepherd puppy. I did my research, found an excellent breeder and we sent our deposit and made the commitment.

I found a trainer, brought all the supplies, did my research and after months of waiting brought home my new puppy.

At first everything was great. The puppy responded and was content. We fell in love immediately. He was as happy with me as I was with him. I was prepared for the usual puppy antics and he was full of them, running, hopping, playing and mischief. Quiet time was spent with ear and feet rubs that he relished and happily being together.

It soon became obvious that even though my beloved puppy loved me, he had no respect for me as pack leader and alpha. I worked every day on training and everyday our situation became worse. He had little interest in engaging in play, fetch, tug, chew bones or toys. The only thing he was happy doing was biting me and not just the usual puppy chewing. He as challenging me at every turn to be leader.

For those who don’t have dogs, pack leader is in charge. Pack leader eats first, determines the length and type of play, where they are walking, in short they make the pack decisions and the other dogs follow. Every day my boy’s challenges for pack leader became more and more aggressive and determined. When I would take him out he would push me out of the way to go through the door first, another no-no.

I talked with the trainer and breeder repeatedly. And despite my not wanting to admit it, it was becoming obvious I had made the wrong decision. I spent days trying to come up with ways to make my relationship with my dream dog work, from more days at doggie daycare to burn off steam, to investing in a treadmill and more trainers, and combing training methods. When I stepped back and looked at all I was willing to do, I knew that at the end of it there was no way to be sure my dog would ever respect me as pack leader and he might very well still continue to bully and challenge me. It was tolerable when he was 17 pounds, what would I do when he was 90 pounds?

After many days of thinking, crying, trying to find a way to make it work, talking to trainers, my family, I returned my beloved dream dog to the breeder.

I’m logical in my thinking, but my emotions have always been stronger. Logically, I know I made the right decision. If I had kept him and done everything I had planned on doing, it would have been a bad decision physically, emotionally and financially, and I could have been in a dangerous situation with a 90 pound dog controlling me and the house. I know the puppy has since found a home with experienced German Shepherd owners who will be what he needs.

Do I feel in my heart I made the right choice? NO. I will spend the rest of my days, regretting my decision and believing I gave up too soon and should have done more. If I had tried another trainer, if I had tried more training methods, if I had done this differently, if I had done that differently…

If I had has quickly become my new unwanted mantra. I have been crying for a week. The grief I feel at my decision is a chronic burning pain that doesn’t let up. I am angry at myself for not being able to be all that my puppy needed me to be. Family members questioned my decision to get a German Shepherd, but I knew better, I had no doubt it was going to work. And I was wrong. It doesn’t bother me to be wrong; it bothers me to have failed at my dream so badly. I love that dog and will to my last breath.

I did what was best for him, and the bitter truth is, what was best for him wasn’t me.

 

puppy

The second book I’m reviewing for my blog is Singapore Sucks, a collection of short stories compiled and edited by Singa Crew.

The short stories are a compilation of what both foreigners and locals feel about life in Singapore. Sadly a few of the stories by foreigners are examples of the proverbial ugly American complaining that a foreign country isn’t as American as America. The majority however are compelling, focusing on the frustration of Singapore natives regarding their Government, its propaganda, foreign workers, the lack of freedom, as well as military conscription.

Several of the short stories are allegories based on actual events. One of the most disconcerting is Sleeping Beauty, which deals with controversial subject of organ harvesting from live donors. Unlike in the US, where people sign up to become organ donors, in Singapore people have to opt out of organ donation. Family members aren’t even given the option of allowing their relative sufficient time to heal from an injury, accident or illness before the hospital harvests their organs. There is a link at the end of the short story to the case of Sim Tee Hua which the story was based on.

I found Singapore Sucks to be a good book. It conveys how so many people in Singapore are frustrated by their lack of basic freedoms that so many of us in America take for granted. The rigid uncrossable line between social strata, the dictatorial control of the media and constant reaffirming of how giving your all for the government is in one’s best interest.

The stories definitely inspire one to look deeper into what’s really going on in Singapore underneath the glittering lights of the modern cities now being built.

I recommend it.

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