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Posts by Natasha Simons

10 Terrific Trios

Power Grid

To simply say that The Power of Three is a popular trope would be to vastly understate its importance in creative works. The Trio pops up all over film, television, literature, and assorted other mediums. The concept of three plays with and unseats our natural preference for the more stolid (or boring!) number two and creates something more unstable, and with inherently more possibilities. You won’t be surprised to see a lot of our picks have got some... issues to work out.

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Cinema Scope: A Short History of the End of Silent Film

Essay

The Artist is receiving many an accolade for its ambitious take on that peculiar episode of American cinema, the passing of the silent film to make way for "talkies". It’s a beautiful effort and a challenging watch, and it addresses that most artistic question of all artistic questions, that being: What is it to be an artist when it becomes impossible to practice that art? To the silent film actors at the end of the ‘20s, that question was a near constant concern, with varying opinions addressing philosophical and practical worries. The Artist barely addresses any of the milestone events during this transformation, choosing instead to focus on the acutely personal angle. The struggles that George Valentin faces in The Artist were echoed by many of our most popular film stars of the era.

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10 Ways Disney Parks Bowdlerized Their Own Rides (And Your Childhood)

I See What They Did There

We all know Disney has a nagging tendency to cover up its faults. Some are good -- for example, the embarrassingly racist Song of the South is no longer for sale in the parks or online – and some are not so good – helicoptering anyone with injuries off Disney property as quickly as possible so as to avoid having to say anyone ever died on grounds. The theme parks have always been a push-and-pull between the twinkling nostalgia of the past and the domineering pull of the ugly present. Let’s not equivocate: the parks have always been a money-grubbing entity. But some of their recent changes have made that grubbing front-and-center, as opposed to a background only cynics wanted to delve into. Over the years, your favorite rides have undergone some changes. Some were to make the parks less rape-y. Good! Some were to appease boring parents. Bad! And some called into question why the parks ever had the original way of things in the first place. Let’s get to it.

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The Girls of Summer (Television)

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

While television is largely populated by male-helmed vehicles this summer (television is always populated by male-helmed vehicles), female characters are popping up in all sorts of interesting ways. Take it as another entry in the so-called Golden Age of Scripted TV, because women these days comprise a wide array of flawed and flawless, seen and unseen, known and unknown.

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A Few Questions About Harry Potter

Questions! Questions That Need Answering

Listen, there may be no more devoted fan than I to the Harry Potter continuum. As testimony, accept my Halloween costume (Luna Lovegood), my trips to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Harry Potter: the Exhibition, my attendance at last fall's Quidditch Cup, the intricate Marauder's Map framed on my wall, the official Ravenclaw robes and casual wear in my closet and a pret-a-porter knowledge of the Trio and their various goings-on. But over the years, after several readings and viewings, I've collected a veritable treasure trove of questions regarding our heroes at Hogwarts. Now, before the last film arrives, it is time to share that trove with you lucky few.

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Game of Thrones Novice Recap: Fire and Blood

Recap

Welcome to our Game of Thrones recap from a viewer who hasn’t read the books. Enjoy the love and snark. Once upon a time, the first season of Game of Thrones began with a bang and scared us all sillier. Ten

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Game of Thrones Novice Recap: Baelor

Recap

Welcome to our Game of Thrones recap from a viewer who hasn’t read the books. Enjoy the love and snark. Whoa! This week, an incredibly shocking thing happened on Game of T

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Some Thoughts on X-Men: First Class from an Old-Timer, Or: Get Off My Lawn

Review

As I have to insist, I thoroughly enjoyed X-Men: First Class, but there's no harm in a difference of opinion. OH yes, sorry, I'll get off the lawn. Sorry. I know you don't like kids on your lawn. Some time ago, I was watching America's Next Top Model (bear with me), probably in the middle of Cycle 1433, when I realized that the conventions of the show would repeat themselves, in exactly the same procession, with the exact same result, ad infinitum. Even the labeling of each season as a "cycle" demonstrates the manner in which Tyra Banks et al see their hapless young contestants. This is to say, convention is not often a good thing. It makes writers lazy, it makes viewers lazy, and it makes our whole world a reflecting mirror unto itself. What X-Men: First Class has done is pay lip service to the conventions of the lore that predates it without a real understanding or feel for material (with one important exception) to create a new widget that has little to do with the X-Men at all. In fact, replace these characters with any Stock Superheroes and you'd have largely the same movie.

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Super 8: Stand By Me, With Aliens

Review

If you find yourself impressed upon by your friends in upcoming days to describe what, exactly, Super 8 is, you can tell them simply this: imagine a hybrid mix, if you will, of the Stephen King adaptation Stand By Me, The Iron Giant, E.T. (another Spielberg joint), and Cloverfield (another J.J. Abrams joint). You can bother them with specifics, sure, but that's about covering all your bases, there. The film is good, to be sure. It is highly entertaining, it is surprisingly touching, and it is well made -- but it is interesting that everyone's reviews think first of comparison points.

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Game of Thrones Novice Recap: The Pointy End

Recap

Welcome to our Game of Thrones recap from a viewer who hasn’t read the books. Enjoy the love and snark. Everyone feels the

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Game of Thrones Novice Recap: You Win or You Die

Recap

Welcome to our Game of Thrones recap from a viewer who hasn’t read the books. Enjoy the love and snark. Welcome to this week's Game of Thrones, which gets as literal about

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Game of Thrones Novice Recap: The Crowning

Recap

Welcome to our Game of Thrones recap from a viewer who hasn't read the books. Enjoy the love and snark. "The Crowning", hmm? Well, if I know my Game of Thrones, someone's about t

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Game of Thrones Recap From a GoT Novice: “The Wolf and the Lion”

Recap

One of the things The Mary Sue is committed to is being a place that's open to all kinds of female geek voices (even if we maybe don't agree with every argument that's offered), just so long as those voices say things that make us think. Because not all women agree on every issue and certainly not all geeks agree on every issue, and so when you put the two together, well, there can be a lot of discussion to be had. So! We're trying something new with our Game of Thrones recaps, starting this week. We're well aware that GoT has a rich canon completely independent of the HBO series, and so when Donna Dickens (one of our earliest contributors) kindly offered to be our GoT recapper who can recap from a reader's perspective, we jumped at the chance to produce twinned Game of Throne recaps every week, from each perspective. You can find Donna's recap for this episode here. Here we are, friends, midseason on Game of Thrones. Thinking back to just mere weeks ago, we were all a little younger, a little more naïve, a little less inured to the exposed inner workings of horses. That's all about to change. Roll the credits!

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Game of Thrones Recap: “Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things”

Recap

Game of Thrones: you win, or you die, or you talk about impending weather. Another week of not learning anyone's name! In the North of Convenient Amnesia, Bran is dreaming about following a crow. To make it clear that this is a dream, the camera pointedly focuses on Bran's broken, enfeebled, shattered, useless legs. You're a dick, camera. Incidentally, crows are a common symbol for thievery, metamorphosis, transitions and change, and death. The three eyes the crow has are a symbol for Blinky.

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Game of Thrones Recap: “Lord Snow”

Recap

What with the commoner marrying a prince and becoming a princess and the villain getting killed this past week, you may have felt that real life provided all the dose of fantasy that you needed. But, you guys, winter is coming and Game of Thrones is pretty intent on it arriving. Someone had better tell Jon Snow, because he looks  wholly unprepared to deal with the buckets of white powder the crew is dumping on him all episode. Onward!

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Game of Thrones Recap: Kingsroad

Recap

Another week, another GoT episode. The second episode, "Kingsroad," further develops the intrigue, the wolves, and doing it doggy-style. Music, steampunk credits, &c. It's classic Game of Thrones! We open on the Dothraki procession, the new queen Daenerys tagging listlessly along. Her steward (that's his title now, send me hate mail) tells her the Dothraki have grass and horses in abundance and then offers her some food. Grass jerky, I'm sure. She's less than thrilled. Daenerys, eat your jerky. There are children in The Dreadfort who would LOVE SOME HORSE MEAT.

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Game of Thrones: In Review

Review

The evergreen panoramics and sprawling landscapes of the first episode of Game of Thrones easily call to mind that old standard-bearer for live fantasy . But don't be fooled: the maggots crawling in lurid detail over the corpse of a moose make it clear -- this isn't your grandpa's Lord of the Rings.

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Women in the Webbys

the internet is serious business

The 2011 Webby nominees were announced yesterday, the recurring awards event that validates our strange forays onto the internet. Though the tech scene is by and large still vastly dominated by men, a few women have staked their claim in the digital expanse -- and they're not all named Arianna Huffington or Tina Brown. Read on for some of the women at the top of their game in the web universe.

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Reconsidering the Feminism of Joss Whedon

Essay

The facts are these: Joss Whedon is lauded as being one of the most forward-thinking show creators and writers currently wielding his craft today. The famous exchange between Whedon and a reporter – Why do you write these strong female characters? Because you’re still asking me that question – is bandied around the internet on a frequent basis. (Although this exchange was of his own imagining.) He’s praised for his interesting and multiform characters. Why, in these very pages, I’ve given him a share of credit myself. He’s earned the moniker of feminist seemingly through just the creation of strong female characters alone. But, as friend and scholar Jake says, “Having a girl beat up guys is not equivalent to a strong female character when they ALWAYS, CONSTANTLY depend on men.” So true! Let’s consider some of his body of work as we undertake the Topic that Made the Fanboys Cry: Joss Whedon’s feminism.

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Female Role Models in the Sciences Exert Positive Influence

Sock It To 'Em Ada

According to a recent University of Massachusetts Amherst study, academic contact with female role models in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) can "enhance positive attitudes and boost self-confidence among girls and young women." For male students in these disciplines, the gender of professors had a negligible effect. The female students, on the other hand, tried harder on difficult tests, identified more strongly with their discipline, and felt more positively about their chosen subject and ability to do well on that path in the future. The mere extra visibility of female professors in authority positions within STEM fields made the students take more pride in their work and improved their general outlook.

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