Wednesday, July 29, 2020

What Your Favorite She-Ra Ship Says About What I Think You Should Read/Watch

For the past couple months, I’ve been occasionally posting new blog posts on here, despite having abandoned the blog for several years. I thought I’d start out testing the waters by posting a few small posts and not saying much about it, and then maybe quietly share it with a few friends, so as to not make a fanfare and get expectations up if I wasn’t gonna follow through. I was worried Google might email old subscribers without my knowledge, but no emails were sent, so I figured I was in the clear.

Then, after two months, Google sends out a flurry of emails to all my old subscribers and suddenly my dad’s telling me that his cousins saw my stupid blog posts… Great. So yeah. I restarted my blog and now I have readers so I have expectations to live up to, and I probably have to maintain some sort of consistent brand, and post something that people actually want…

LOL just kidding! I’m gonna keep posting whatever I want until such day as this blog may get attached to something professional, like if I ever get a book deal. Until then, deal with my unfiltered nonsense.

And a reminder: I’m not posting with any sort of regularity, but I’d like to post ideally once every week or every two weeks.

On to this week’s blog post: two pieces of online media inspired me recently. One is one of my favorite YouTube series, “What Your Favorite[book/TV show] Ship Says About You,” a funny series by user Eldena Doubleca5t that tells you tidbits about your personality based on which ships you like. Definitely check it out, but be warned, there’s a lot of anime there, so if you don’t watch much anime, many of the fandoms there will not be your fandoms.
The other is a post I saw called “Books to Read Based on YourFavorite Avatar Ship!” It goes over most of the popular ships from the show Avatar: the Last Airbender, and gives you book recommendations based on which ones you like. I thought that was pretty cool!

So my idea was to sort of combine these. Lately I’ve been super obsessed with She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, the 2018 reboot of the old She Ra cartoon. I mentioned it in my WLW rep post as my #1 favorite TV show with WLW rep in it. Well, I thought I’d do book recs based on favorite She-Ra ships! However, I honestly don’t read as much as I should, and some of these ships have some pretty specific content, so I threw in non-book media as well. And this is obviously limited by my own knowledge base, so if you’re like “uhhh there’s actually a WAY better book about this thing” then please let me know in the comments!
Make sure to check out “What Your Favorite She-Ra Ship Says AboutYou” for some of the deep call-outs of my very own personality that helped inspire this post.

Catra/Adora: We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Catra and Adora are the heart of this show. These two girls were raised in a horribly toxic environment, and managed to find comfort and friendship with each other. But then they became bitter enemies when Adora escaped to join the other side of the war. Similarly, in We Set the Dark on Fire, Dani leaves her family at a young age for the opportunity she never wanted: to train in a boarding school to become a perfect wife for a man who, if he knew her true background, wouldn’t hesitate to jail her. On the bus ride to school, she finds friendship in the beautiful Carmen, but Carmen betrays her when they arrive by bullying her and becoming her school rival. And then what do you know, they’re both chosen as wives for the same terrifying general. And they’re both kind of extremely gay. So if you like childhood friends enemies-to-lovers recovering-from-trauma-together lesbians, check out this book.
BONUS: If what appeals to you about Catradora is the sizzling tension of their S1-S4 rivalry and constant bickering and their “attempting to kill each other” version of flirting, DEFINITELY watch Killing Eve, a show about an oddly charming assassin and the woman tasked to track her down.

Entrapta/Hordak: Starship from Team Starkid

Entrapdak is a quirky ship. Entrapta is a soft nerd who’ll do pretty much anything to get her hands on technology that she can manipulate. Hordak is… literally the main villain of the series until Season 4 or 5. He’s a volatile dictator who hates everyone, and Entrapta is warned to leave him alone, but she ignores this warning because she thinks his science lab is so cool and Hordak is like “why is this small cute genius making my heart feel things”. It’s a ship that’s simultaneously adorable, hilarious, and messed up as hell.
You know what else fits those categories? Team Starkid’s original musical, Starship. It’s a comedy musical that you can watch online that features three different romances and a ridiculous plot set against a background of alien bugs, space ships, and killer robots. One of the ships involves a human falling in love with the killer robot, and it’s adorable and fun. The show is SO much fun and so funny and honestly the best. Check it out!
BONUS: Read the book Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones for another story about a cranky scary magic man whose life gets upended by a one-woman force who steals his heart (kind of literally? it’s hard to tell with the magic in that book). Yes, it’s the book that inspired the Ghibli movie, and the book is even better.

Scorpia/Perfuma: HBO’s Betty


This is MY favorite ship on the show! It is so wholesome, so soft, and makes my heart feel SO many things. Scorpia is this absolute angel who’s been through hell and just wants to love her friends, and Perfuma is a soft useless lesbian who sees Scorpia and essentially thinks “not ONLY is she a gorgeous butch, but she’s ALSO the nicest person I’ve ever met????? I’m just one lesbian how can I handle this”
For those of you who love the soft, sweet, extremely gay nature of this ship, please check out HBO’s new show, Betty. It’s about a group of girl skateboarders hanging out in New York City and their friendships and romances. It will warm your heart the same way Scorfuma does, and it is equally as gay. The show is mostly heartwarming and fluffy, but it also tackles trauma and difficult issues, such as unjust arrest, sexual assault, and abusive relationships. There is nothing graphic or explicit on screen, and by the end, there’s a beautiful scene of all the girls creating a line of movement winding through the sun-filled city.
BONUS: Read my Scorfuma fic it’s very good and I’m proud of it, no this post was not just an excuse to promote it but still.

Glimmer/Bow: Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

If you like Glimmer and Bow, you’re probably a fan of the soft but awesome boy meets total badass magic girl dynamic. You’re also down with romances that more or less pass as romantic-but-not-canon friendships until the veeeery end, and couples that take down evil oppressors together with their powers. Well, in that case, you have to check out Sorcerer to the Crown, one of the best-written fantasy books I’ve ever read. In it, Zacharias has just inherited the position of Sorcerer Royal in eighteenth-century England from his adopted father, and people are being kind of racist about it because he was adopted from Africa, even though Zacharias is an extremely skilled wizard that’s handling a whole lot of problems. To keep up public image, he heads out to give a speech to a boarding school of young witches. In this society, women who have magic are taught to suppress it, but Zacharias finds that despite everything he’s been taught, the girls at this school are wildly talented- especially the fiery Prunella Gentleman, who latches onto Zacharias as her one-way escape ticket out of the boarding school (she’s one of the teachers). Together, the two of them take on the racist, sexist hierarchy of British sorcerers and help handle some serious diplomatic issues with the fae. And also, they’re totally in love and adorable about it.

Sea Hawk/Mermista: Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Clueless hero who just wants ADVENTURE? Check. Totally-done-with-his-bullshit woman who’s the coolest character in the book? Check. Fun times on a boat? Check. Falling in love against all odds? Check. The movie is also very good.

Spinnerella/Netossa: Steven Universe on Cartoon Network

These two were the first canon gays on the show, and they’re a very sweet married lesbian couple. They remind me a LOT of Ruby and Sapphire from Steven Universe, who literally have a wedding on the show to represent their 500-year-long devotion to each other, and who also are a total power couple.

Lance/George: The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater

If your FAVORITE ship is Bow’s dads, then a couple of things are probably true about you: You really like canon m/m ships. You really like academic couples. You think magical lore, and the people who study it, are super cool and fun. In that case, there’s a good chance you’ll like The Raven Cycle series, where a couple of private school boys and one extremely awesome local girl work together through the power of magical research to figure out what the magical hell is going on with ancient Welsh kings, dream forests, ley lines, and their Virginia small town. And two of the guys end up together in one of my favorite ships from anything, so keep an eye out for that.

Kyle/Rogelio: Fanfiction about Jenny and Madame Vastra from Doctor Who

Kyle and Rogelio have nearly zero canon content because they’re minor characters and one of them is literally a lizard man, and the closest thing I could find to that is Jenny and Vastra, a ship between a Victorian serving girl and a lizard woman from the dawn of time. Yes, we have got content for all you lizard fans out there. Here’s two excellent fanfics about this couple:
Angella/Micah: Song of the Sea from Cartoon Saloon

Angella and Micah are a tragic couple and their whole love story is shrouded in mystery and magic and softness. Their main relevance in the show is that they’re Glimmer’s parents. I get similar vibes from the stunningly animated movie Song of the Sea, which is about the two children of an Irishman and his wife, a selkie, who disappears early in the movie, leaving behind a grieving son and a daughter who’s mesmerized by the sea for mysterious reasons. Please watch it, if only to see gorgeous animation.

Glimmer/Adora: Thelma directed by Joachim Trier

We’ve entered the non-canon section of this post!
So, imagine a girl who grew up in a very toxic environment that she mistook for a healthy family. She grows up and leaves that place and quickly finds out she has immense magical powers, and meets a really nice girl who befriends her and helps her find herself, and is horrified to hear about her childhood. Still, the shadows and demons of her past keep chasing her, and despite the other girl’s support, she finds that she has to defeat those demons herself. Am I describing season 1 Adora and Glimmer, or the movie Thelma? Actually, both. Thelma is a LOT darker than She-Ra season 1, but if you want that good friends-turned-lovers with a side of recovering from trauma via magical abilities, definitely watch Thelma.

Glimmer/Catra: Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

Honestly, I couldn’t find much that captured the Glimmer/Catra dynamic, mainly because I really don’t ship them at all, but if you like bi girls in magical worlds who delve into their dark sides the way Glimmer does, then definitely read Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire. It’s book 2 of the Wayward Children series, but it works as a standalone. It’s about a pair of twin girls who accidentally enter a twisted and horrible dimension run by a sadistic vampire lord. One twin, Jill, loves the luxury of being the vampire’s favored ward; the other, Jack, escapes to do grueling necromancy work for the mad scientist who has a tenuous deal with the vampire lord. While there, she is able to explore both her dark side and her bisexuality in a healthy way, and falls in love with one of the local girls.

Glimmer/Catra/Adora: Rescuing Her Redeemed Omega by Lia Meyers

This ship has polyamory, friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, and fighting an evil space empire. You know what else has all that? Rescuing Her Redeemed Omega, an erotic novella with a Star Wars-esque plot and a healthy and loving polyamorous group. 

Scorpia/Lonnie: Nanette by Hannah Gadsby

If you like this ship, you either really love butch women (who doesn’t?) or you just want good things for Scorpia (who doesn’t?) or you thought Lonnie deserved more screen time (who doesn't?). I realized that I have NOT consumed a lot of media with butch women in it, unfortunately. However, this comedy special delves into the realities of living as a gender non-conforming woman, and of how to recover from trauma, and of why endlessly focusing on getting a laugh isn’t always the solution even if comedy was your old coping mechanism, and how love and friendship is the real solution. Aka, if you love Scorpia, you’ll love this. You will cry, though. Like, you’ll laugh, but you will cry. Be warned. Serious trigger warning for discussion of sexual and physical assault and homophobia.

BONUS: The only other media I could think of that heavily featured butch women was the movie Pariah. It’s about a teenage Black lesbian dealing with homophobic parents, trying to get a girlfriend, and thinking about how to incorporate her talent for poetry into her future. It will also make you cry a lot, but it has a hopeful ending.

Bow/Sea Hawk: The Adventure Zone by the McElroy brothers

Full disclosure: I never finished listening to The Adventure Zone, because I have trouble focusing on podcasts. However, this podcast, much like SeaBow, is full of wacky hijinks, lovable buff guys fumbling through adventures, and eventually, gay content. (I didn’t listen far enough to get to the canon gays, but I’ve been assured they are there).

Catra/Scorpia: BBC’s Merlin

My personal relationship to Catra/Scorpia is weird. I “ship” them in the sense that I think something romantic happened between them, but I do NOT ship them in the sense that I want them to be together. However, if you like Catra/Scorpia, you’ll probably like BBC’s Merlin. Merlin and Arthur, the two main characters of the show, have been (rightfully) compared to Catra and Adora, but they also remind me of Scorpia and Catra. One lovable but kind of assholey character in a position of power who’s dealt with a colossal amount of parental abuse, and one endlessly loyal servant who’s endlessly underappreciated, and the not-canon-but-might-as-well-be love between them. Merlin is a sarcastic dork, which differs from Scorpia who’s a very genuine and optimistic dork; and Arthur is an upbeat jock, as opposed to Catra who’s a pessimistic goth, but the DYNAMIC is very similar. Arthur shows a lot more love and appreciation to Merlin than Catra shows to Scorpia, though, so it will be more satisfying in that sense… but the show no-homos them pretty hard, so it will be less satisfying in that sense. However, you get to see Katie McGrath and Angel Coulby, so that should be sufficiently enjoyable for any lesbians out there.

Mara/Light Hope: The Good Place

The main reason Mara/Light Hope shippers would like The Good Place is because of Jason and Janet. Janet is a Siri-like character who’s essentially an immortal, infinite database in the shape of a friendly woman. Jason is a clueless but extremely sweet guy who dies and meets her in the afterlife. The two of them somehow fall in love. In general, the show is a sitcom that takes place in the afterlife and centers four humans who died and have to figure out their morality and what life and death means, and deal with the corrupt and inefficient afterlife bureaucracy- all of which are similar themes to what Mara has to grapple with when talking to Light Hope.

So, whew! I hope the, like, three people that this might appeal to enjoy this post! Once again, if you think there’s a piece of media that works better than the ones I listed, please let me know. And if you haven’t seen the new She-Ra, definitely go watch it, because it’s amazing.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 10, 2020

Summery Pasta Salad

(There'll be caveats and explanations, but all of those will be after the recipe- so, if anything in the recipe confuses you, scroll down and you'll get the info you need.)

1/2 pound (about 1/2 box) of penne rigate or other small pasta
3-4 mini bell peppers, or 1-2 regular size bell peppers
A large handful of fresh basil leaves
15-20 cherry tomatoes
10-12 bocconcini (small mozzarella balls) or 5 slices fresh mozzarella
Olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste

1. Set a pot of salted water to boil for your pasta.
2. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil and set your peppers on it. Drizzle them with olive oil. Broil for 10 minutes either on 375 degrees F, or on high, or whatever settings your broiler/oven/toaster oven has. When it's done (whenever the skins of the peppers have started blackening), take it out and set it somewhere to cool.
3. Wash the basil and then chop it into messy ribbons.
4. Chop all the cherry tomatoes into bite-size pieces.
5. Slice all the bocconcini into two or three pieces. (Or slice your mozzarella into bite-size cubes).
6. Place tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil into large bowl.
7. When the water boils, cook your pasta according to box ingredients. Drain and leave in the colander to cool.
8. Once the bell peppers have cooled enough that you can handle them with your bare hands, peel off the skins- they should be easy to peel off, but don't worry if some of the skins stay on. Slice off the tops of the peppers and then slice them open and scrape all the seeds out. Chop the peppers into thin ribbons. Toss them into your bowl.
9. Pour the pasta (once it's cooled a bit, and you un-stick any pasta that stuck together) into the bowl. Mix well.
10. Drizzle on olive oil and balsamic vinegar to the amounts that you like. Add more to taste as well as any herbs that you want.

Serving size: This makes about 3 large plates' worth of pasta salad, so like, 3 servings. More if your servings aren't as big as mine are.

Recipe Notes:
-Bocconcini are little mozzarella balls that I love. My dad has found them at Costco in giant containers filled with oil for them to marinate in. However, they can be expensive sometimes, and regular fresh mozzarella works just as well.
-Mini bell peppers are really convenient because they come in a bag and you can use them for lots of things! They also fit neatly into the toaster oven, where I just put on the broil function and then voila, roasted red pepper effect. But you can also just use regular bell peppers, or even buy a jar of premade roasted bell peppers. Also, I only know how the broiling function on my own oven and toaster oven work, so you know. You'll have to figure out how your own kitchen works. Regular roasting can also work but it takes longer. 
-And the roasted bell peppers really make this recipe! Otherwise it's just a basic caprese pasta salad, which I used to make all the time and got sick of. This adds a delightful smoky flavor. Another option: add kalamata olives, or replace the mozzarella with feta. Adding something salty or smoky adds a kick to make the flavor interesting. 
-Penne rigate is the best, but fusilli, cavatappi, rotini, etc. are also great options.
-Tbh get a basil plant because it is so helpful to have around, but you can also just get basil at the store, idk.

Me Talking, Irrelevant to Recipe:
Yes, I did it! I started posting my own recipes! I did make that big post where I shared the links to all the recipes on my Twitter thread, those of them that had links, that is. However, I also did say that some of my recipes were just ones I made up! So I'm going to become a Recipe Blogger. Oh. Em. Gee. Guize. I am dying for these salted caramel brownies. Yes, Dave ate three. Around my house we call them the "Dave addiction brownies," which is why I made the title of this post uncomfortably sexual. Seriously, when Dave is watching the playoffs, he can NOT get enough of these. Thank God for Trader Joe's sale on my secret ingredient, FLOUR, which is a secret I will take to my grave- except for you guize! Time for a hundred ads.
OK, sorry for the unwarranted roast on recipe bloggers. Obviously I will not be that type of recipe blogger, because I am gay. However, I do want to share my recipes from time to time. Since it's summer, I thought I would start with a very summery recipe that is really easy to make. Pasta salad is a refreshing dish, tends to use ingredients that are at their peak in the summer, and doesn't make you want to die at the thought of preparing it because it's so damn hot that you just want to eat an ice cube for lunch. Honestly, this recipe is primarily good in summer, because let's be real, tomatoes kind of suck when it's not summer. Like, they're fine, I guess, and of course I use tomatoes the rest of the year, but there's not much point to having a dish with fresh tomatoes in the winter. Same with fresh basil. As soon as summer hits though, you get that first whiff of basil and that first bite of a tomato that has some real personality, and you're like, oh damn! I guess it is summer! I guess summer has a purpose besides melting my brain off! The purpose is fresh produce!

Anyway, caprese pasta salad used to be my go-to meal because it literally is just "chop small ingredient, make pasta, mix, eat" but then, because I'm the world's most annoying eater, I got bored of the same flavors over and over and went back to eating tortilla chips with nothing as my go-to meal. Yeah, really healthy, I know. But then I learned how to make roasted red peppers for a different recipe and learned that it's actually wildly easy and I decided to make some for a pasta salad that I was making on a whim, and suddenly, pasta salad was fun again, and interesting! I know, that was a thrill ride of a story.

I figured a super-easy recipe like this one that really matches the Vibes of the season would be perfect. I do tend to try and challenge myself when cooking, because it's one of the few things I'm good at, but I also want to be accessible to the common folk who are not so good at cooking. So I will be explaining things that might "seem obvious" to more experienced cooks, and whenever I open my blog to public eyes again, I will be open for any "dumb" questions in the comments. And yes, a lot of my recipes will include things like "just cook it for like 10 minutes I don't know, just whenever it looks like it doesn't suck anymore" because you know. Who knows. Wing it. That's cooking, and life.
Oh and yeah I like to think I "eat seasonally" like some sort of California hippie, because if you read my blog in the old days, you know that I'm semi-obsessed with the seasons, and I also like food, so this was sort of inevitable. So I'll try and post recipes that match the season, but that might not always actually happen.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy the pasta salad if you try making it! Keep your eyes open for more recipe posts and for more posts about me complaining about things or God knows what.