Commentary #66: “T5W – Favorite Science Fiction & Fantasy in Other Media” (Reblogged)

Star Wars

Image Credit: Quora

I think I need to start doing these different posts during the week! This one from Thrice Read caught my attention immediately. By the way, T5W stands for Top 5 Wednesday. Too cool!

I’m married to a wonderful, amazing geek, so I have a much greater appreciation for science fiction and fantasy now!

Here are my Top Five:

1. Star Wars (Movies)
2. Star Trek (Movies and T.V. Shows)
3. The Princess Bride (Movie)
4. Jessica Jones (T.V. Show)
5. The Flash (T.V. Show)

Star Wars (Movies)

Full disclosure: I already liked the Star Wars franchise before I met Al. I have now watched all of them. I wasn’t partial to the sequels at first, but now that we watched all of them in “machete order,” I understand why they were produced. I don’t have to like them, though. My all-time favorite Star Wars movie is currently The Force Awakens (2015).

Star Trek (Movies and T.V. Shows)

I have definitely gained a greater appreciation for the Star Trek franchise since meeting Al. I remember watching The Next Generation as a kid, and loving LeVar Burton! We’ve seen all the movies. The Wrath of Khan (1982) and Star Trek Into Darkness.

The Princess Bride (Movie)

This is one of my favorite movies!

Jessica Jones (T.V. Show)

Like Thrice Read, I love this show! Netflix struck gold with this one. We just finished watching all of Season 2, which we both think was better than Season 1!

The Flash (T.V. Show)

We loved this show from Day 1. It’s a good series. Plus, Grant Gustin is a local boy! My mom’s best friend taught him piano!

What about you? What are your favorite sci-fi and fantasy in other media? Let me know!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Thrice Read

It’s another Wednesday and another really awesome top five Wednesday.

Obviously I’m a huge fan of sci-fi and fantasy, but this week I get to completely geek out over the genres.

This week I’m going to give you guys the low down on my favorite science fiction and fantasy’s in other media.

The 100 (T.V. Show)

The 100 wasn’t a show I would have watched without Jenn pushing me to watch it. It’s a CW show and it’s not really within my demographic any longer, but I absolutely love it. It’s got both elements of science fiction and fantasy and it’s just everything for me.

Jessica Jones (T.V. Show)

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love this show. From the cast to the story line, this show is everything to me. I’m about two episodes from finishing the second season and, honestly, I may just go…

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Commentary #63: “Awareness vs. Understanding”

Image Credit: TOBYMAC

I started following Caralyn’s awesome blog, Beauty Beyond Bones, a while back. She is an awesome, amazing woman. I love all of her posts!

She always shares something profound, or thought-provoking, every week. This past week was no exception.

Here’s the link to her post, published on February 22nd:

Caralyn’s focus is her journey after her eating disorder (ED). She’s a beautiful woman, who is an activist for so many causes. She posts recipes, too!

This particular post shined a spotlight on Weight Watchers being in the news last week, and not for a good reason.

They announced they would be offering free memberships to teens, ages 13-17.

Naturally, this caused almost immediate backlash.

I’m with Caralyn. I don’t agree with Weight Watchers offering these free memberships. Teens, ages 13-17, have enough to deal with in their lives. Yes, obesity remains a significant issue. Caralyn cited several statistics, including some from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). But, for Weight Watchers to offer these free memberships to this very vulnerable age group is not the answer.

She tied the Weight Watchers news in with National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (NEDA), which starts today, February 26th, and runs through March 3rd.

I see her point about viewing NEDA with somehow glorifying the disease, and so on. But, then she realized that the news about Weight Watchers is one reason why conversations need to be had.

And then, she hit on the Awareness vs. Understanding point, which I think is so important.

There is a difference.

Awareness is certainly important, and a good thing – Share stories, come together as a community, and so on.

However, understanding is even more paramount. With something like eating disorders, moving beyond awareness into understanding is critical.

With that said, I cannot say that I empathize with Caralyn, or say that blanket statement of “I understand” at all. I have never had an eating disorder. I know what they are, how they start, the basics. You could say that Laura Beth is aware of eating disorders.

Caralyn, however, truly understands eating disorders. She is a survivor. She is an advocate. She works hard to discuss ED, her own journey, and help others, which I find incredibly admirable. In her post, she writes that “an eating disorder is a mental illness.”

She closed her post with wanting to “foster understanding on this anorexia recovery blog” and “answering any and all questions about eating disorders, recovery, treatment, how to support. Nothing is off limits.”

I think this is wonderful! She, of all people, knows what she’s talking about. She writes beautifully and humbly, too.

So, if you’re interested in asking questions or learning more, check out her blog!


Image Credit: BeautyBeyondBones

To me, Caralyn is a source of inspiration. Thank you for being amazing!!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #59: “Once Teased For Her Love Of Bugs, 8-Year-Old Co-Authors Scientific Paper”


Sophia Spencer and Morgan Jackson co-wrote a scientific paper on Twitter, entomology and women in science, after a tweet about Sophia’s love for bugs went viral. Image Credit: Nicole Spencer

I stumbled upon this NPR piece last week, and thought it was awesome!

Here’s the link to the original article:

It’s such a shame that bullying is still so prevalent in our society. However, this story shows that something good can come out of it!

I’m in awe of Sophia Spencer. At 8-years-old, she already doing amazing things! She loves bugs, and she’s a co-author of a scientific paper. Wow!!

I felt tears in my eyes as I read this quote from her:

“‘Before … I really thought loving bugs wasn’t the best hobby,” Sophia told NPR. “But after I realized bugs are for girls I thought to myself, ‘Well, I think I should start loving bugs again, because just because people say they’re weird and gross doesn’t mean I shouldn’t like them.’ ”

How many kids — How many adults — can say that?

I’ll admit, I wasn’t a big fan of math or science as a kid. I was a bit more interested in science, mainly because of The Magic School Bus and Bill Nye The Science Guy.

Sophia’s passion will carry her far in life. She’s already changed the world of Morgan Jackson, and all the entomologists who responded to her mother’s pleas for support and encouragement!

As I was reading the article, I couldn’t help but think of two of my friends – Melissa and Brittany – who are both passionate about science, physics, STEM, etc., and how they’re changing the world in their own ways. Brittany has two adorable girls, and I love how she is teaching them about science (among other things) every single day!

Thank you, Sophia, for inspiring me! You’re gonna be a great entomologist someday!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #44: “Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake”

Catch Me If You Can

Image Credit:

I couldn’t pass up this book for 49 cents! I found it at Best Thrift in Norfolk on my birthday.

I’ve always loved the movie, and I knew it was based on a true story. I hadn’t read the book that inspired the movie. Until now!

For me, finishing this book was a struggle. I think this is one of the few times where seeing the movie affected my perception of the book.

Reading Abnagle’s story, overall, was very fascinating. Before he turned 19-years-old, Abnagle had successfully conned many companies and banks out of millions of dollars. He posed as a Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) pilot in the U.S. and in cities throughout the world, a doctor in Georgia, and a lawyer in Louisiana. After he was apprehended, the FBI came to him to help them catch other check forgers.

But, after Chapter 8, I stalled. It was tough to keep going. I almost gave up entirely.

At the same time, I hate not finishing books. So, I pressed on. It ended well, but I felt like I stuck in neutral for a while.

Initially, I wasn’t sure why I got stuck for several days. Then, I realized that I was playing the movie in my head, and I know that affected my reading.

If you’re looking for an interesting, true story, about one of the smartest, most cunning thieves that both the U.S. and the world has seen, I recommend this book.

3 out of 5 stars.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Hot Topic #21: The Confounding Congress


Image Credit: AZ Quotes

Disclaimer: This post contains strong language.

Hey there, readers. Bear with me. This post is probably going to be long-winded, basically a stream of consciousness, and likely have a significant amount of profanity in it.

You’ve been warned.

As a result of a spirited discussion with my wonderful husband last weekend (Note – Not spirited as in angry or anything. We typically tend to agree on most things, including politics and things going on in Washington), I’ve been inspired / motivated to write out some thoughts about our United States Congress.

Simply put – It’s completely fucked up.

And it has been for a LONG time.

Meanwhile in Congress

Image Credit: Meme Center

I decided to read through the entire U.S. Constitution.

Friends, it’s been way too long since I read this (I think the last time I read it in full was, begrudgingly, for my 10th grade IB Government class). I’m glad that I took the time to read it – It was like another education.

The Patriot Post

Image Credit: The Patriot Post

Here’s some highlights:

“All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” (Article I, Section 1)

“The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.” (Article I, Section 2).

“The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, [chosen by the Legislature thereof,]* for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.” (Article I, Section 3).

“The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.” (Article I, Section 6).

“The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” (The 16th Amendment – Passed by Congress July 2, 1909. Ratified February 3, 1913.)

“No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of representatives shall have intervened.” (The 27th Amendment – Originally proposed Sept. 25, 1789. Ratified May 7, 1992.)

They’re fighting over healthcare, but they all know that they’re completely exempt from whatever legislation that eventually passes?

I say that every member of Congress should have to go through the same process that all of the other Americans in this country go through to sign up for healthcare. They should experience the hardships that so many others face!

There is no “employer-sponsored healthcare” in this instance – That’s only for people who work for businesses that offer health plans to them. Period!

Wouldn’t it be great if Congress also couldn’t vote for themselves?

I wish that every member of Congress could be knocked down a peg, so to speak. I wish we, the people, could mandate that every single member only makes $7.25 an hour. Yep, you got that right, make sure that those serving in Congress only make minimum wage.

Oh, and you’re capped at 40 hours a week. No overtime. Nothing extra. And during those 40 hours, you get your work done. If your work isn’t done … You can be fired. Kicked to the curb. If you’re kicked out, then you have to go back home and start all over. Plenty of Americans have gone through layoffs, corporate restructuring, and being fired. Why should members of Congress just be able to sail through?

You get two weeks of vacation per year – That’s it. No more ridiculous recesses that last WEEKS. Recess is for those in elementary school.

No more housing allowances – That’s only given to those who serve our country in our armed forces. Period.

Back to healthcare for a minute. Since you, as a member of Congress, only make $7.25 an hour – You have to choose your healthcare like anyone else who only makes minimum wage. Yep, that makes you have to take the time and go on or go through the exchanges to find your health plan.

Oh, and you have to make sure your spouse and all of your children are covered, too.

Not so easy now, is it?

Oh, and whatever happened to serving in Congress actually being a service to your constituents and this great nation?

If I remember correctly, not too long ago, there were no career politicians. None, zero. There were farmers who were elected in Kansas, businessmen elected in Arizona, dentists elected in California – Those men (and later women) maintained their households, jobs and/or businesses, and lives in their constituencies. When their work was done in Washington, they went back to their families and jobs and businesses at home, and worked with their constituents to help their districts change for the better. These men and women didn’t have apartments or houses in Washington, Virginia, or Maryland. They went home to Kansas, Arizona, California, and so on!


Image Credit: PolitiFact — Based on numbers from 2014, this is nearly 100 percent accurate. *facepalm*

If you stuck with me through now, thanks for reading! I try really hard to not get political on the blog. But, sometimes, something makes me really mad, and the best way that I cope is to write about it!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #35: “The Man in the High Castle”


Image Credit: Catspaw Dynamics

Finally! This is one book that I was hoping to finish a LONG time ago. I almost finished it in the fall, but the two-week window from the library closed so quickly. It was bugging me, for months. I hate not finishing books, unless it was so insufferable that I couldn’t stand to finish it.

This book was not one of those insufferable ones. I got it from the library two Saturdays ago, and I just made the deadline. Hooray!

It was an intriguing book. In a sentence: Imagine if the Allies lost World War II.

Think about that. If Germany, Japan, and Russia had won, what in the world would happen?

Philip K. Dick is (was) a very interesting writer. As I’ve said in previous reviews, I’m not a huge fan of science fiction, but alternate reality has recently captured my attention. I’ve even considered using it in some of my own writing.

Now that I’ve finished the book, I’m excited to see what Amazon has done with their TV series of the same name.

Trying not to give away a lot (The book is only a little over 200 pages), it’s 1962 and the U.S. has been divided into the Greater Nazi Reich and the Japanese Pacific States. Mr. Dick creates multiple characters as they try to live their lives under seemingly oppressive rule and challenging times.

Mr. Dick also creates “a novel within a novel.” This is something that I don’t see very often, but I usually enjoy. The novel within the book shows details of what would happen if the Allies HAD won the war, though it’s different that what actual history has shown. Regardless, it was fascinating. I appreciated how the author carefully wove it into the plot.

In writing this post, I started looking at other books that employ alternate reality or history. One that made me raise my eyebrows was Bring The Jubilee (1953) by Ward Moore, about an alternative Civil War. You can bet I’m adding this one to my TBR.

This was not a hard read, at all, despite my previous reservations / hesitancy about science fiction. It flows easily, and I enjoyed learning about the different characters. Through his words, it was frighteningly easy to imagine what life could like if the Allies had lost and Germany and Japan swiftly took over everything. The characters attempt to make the most of what they have and what they are living with, but I imagine that life would be pretty miserable. I found myself reading at least one chapter per night, unless I was completely exhausted.

This book made me think about how wars affect everyone and everything. Unfortunately, several countries in our world are suffering under dictatorships and oppressive rule, and there’s nothing that anyone can do about it!

Seeing what Mr. Dick created made me shiver. I’m curious to see what else he wrote in his short time on this Earth (He died in 1982 at age 53, from a stroke).

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #32: “Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison”


Image Credit: Wikipedia

At the end of April, during a long weekend with Al and his parents, I found this paperback while visiting the Virginia Avenue Mall in Clarksville, Virginia. There were so many books – It was a really cool indoor, two-story flea market. I was hunting for something else, but for $4.00, I couldn’t pass this up!

I haven’t watched the series on Netflix, but I’ve always been curious about it. I knew it was based on a true story / inspired by true events, but I didn’t realize that Piper Kerman had written a book about it!

This was another book that I finished quickly, but forgot to write the review. I’m trying really hard to break this habit! I think it only took me about two weeks to read.

It was crazy to read about how Piper’s unfortunate globe-trotting escapades caught up with her several YEARS later. She was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison, and served her time in three different facilities.

Having only learned about prison from books and other media, reading a first-hand account from a woman who was not a typical inmate was eye-opening, and oddly fascinating. I say “not typical” because Piper was well-educated (She graduated from Smith College before getting involved with her criminal activities), and had an immense support system on the outside.

She did a fantastic job of painting the experience for the reader – I felt like I was right beside her the entire time. I really got to know Piper, as well as all the women around her. I went through many emotions – I laughed, I teared up, I wanted to scream. Mostly, I laughed. I personally think Piper tried to make the very best of her not-so-desirable situation, and I think she handled it really well.

I didn’t want to put the book down. I started to limit myself to only 1-2 chapters per night, because I wanted to read 5-6. It’s no wonder that this book has transformed into a successful series on Netflix.

Kerman did a great job with details, and made sure that the reader got as much of the full experience of her 15 months between Danbury, Connecticut; Oklahoma City; and Chicago as possible. It was also really interesting to go back in time, in a way, reading about headlines and news from 2003 through 2005.

She displayed a significant amount of courage by writing this book. She gives the reader an inside look into a tough place, and she does a really good job of showing honesty, sympathy, and advocacy.

I highly recommend this book. It’s definitely not the easiest read, but it really opened my eyes. I have a better understanding of what these women go through, and how those on the outside should be better about treating them. There’s still a huge stigma around incarceration, and these women deserve better.

5 out of 5 stars.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂