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Queen Cloe by Wonkette Operative 'Rocky'

Welcome, Wonkers, to another Sunday Nice Things, your weekly shelter from the endless crapstorm of awfulness out there. Time to take a break, have a cuppa, and relax for a moment. We'd tell you to put your feet up, but we saw what you tracked in.

In hyper-local news, a Boise area man was immobilized for nearly an hour by his recently-adopted cat, Thornton, who wanted a hug.

I am at this moment typing with a cat in my lap; the little purrbooger has an arm and his chin resting on my left forearm. It's exactly what I signed up for. Now let's get on with the Nicetiming, shall we?


Wonkette Book Club Time Again!

Yr Dok Zoom is apparently the last person in North America to have heard that Margaret Atwood will be publishing her sequel to The Handmaid's Tale next week. It's titled The Testaments, and is set fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid's Tale. Here, have an NPR interview with Ms. Atwood about why she decided to write a sequel to the original, which was published in 1985 and has since become a modern classic. She very artfully manages not to say "I will make an assload of money," because that is not her motivation; she's more interested in looking at how a totalitarian regime like the Republic of Gilead comes to an end. Enjoy -- and don't worry, there are no spoilers for either novel.

No it is not a spoiler to note that Handmaid's Tale closes with a note that Offred's story is a manuscript under discussion by scholars in the distant future, long after Gilead faded into the Bad Old Days. Stop griping, you. No country lasts forever except US America, right?

Now, obviously, we need to read and discuss The Testaments for our little Wonkette Book Club, which leaves only one question: Do we do a Book Club reading of Handmaid's Tale first? That seems reasonable, for the sake of the 19 or so readers who haven't read it yet, plus the many more of us who haven't read it since we first encountered it -- in my case, that woulda been 1985. Or should we plunge right into The Testaments so we can all be reading it with the giant crowd who will be making it the Book Event of 2019?

My inclination is to go with Handmaid's Tale first, because I for one am the sort of person who sees last summer's big movie next year on Netflix, and also because I imagine a lot of us would enjoy talking about it here before jumping into the sequel. And I imagine that even if we take a few weeks to read Handmaid first, Testaments will hardly be old hat (or old bonnet) if we get to it in, say October. Plus, starting with Handmaid will allow more readers to dig out their old copies or get one used or from a library (it's already on hold until June, folks). Used/library copies of Testaments may be slightly more available if we wait, too. (But we are not waiting until it's out in paperback.)

But there are arguments for going straight to Testaments. As a novelist, Atwood is no slouch, and we imagine the new novel will stand just fine on its own. There's certainly the intangible fun of reading the hot new book while it still has that just-published smell, too. And if we read it fast enough, we might manage to avoid whatever spoilers will be circulating, though there are bound to be some circulating by Tuesday, when the book hits shelves and e-readers.

Here is a Twitter poll thingy whose results I may or may not actually consider before I make a decision! If you don't do Twitter, express your preference in the comments, which we do not allow.

Or you can just go buy both now, (or dig up an existing copy of Handmaid); early reaction to le poll is already heavily in favor of Handmaid first. Oh dang, another spoiler.

You Should Go To The TORONTO DRINKY THING, Eh?

Are you a Wonketter in the environs of Toronto (which we understand is somewhere in the vicinity of Greenland)? In conjunction with the Toronto International Film Festival, Wonkette Operatives "Pickwick" and "Prickly" invite you to join them this coming Friday (the 13th! Scary!) for the second annual TIFF Drinky thing, which last year consisted of just the two of them, but we bet there are more Wonkers in the vicinity. Here, have the deets!

Time: 4.30-8.30 p.m. (Eastern) -- anyone not tied to the TIFF schedule is welcome to stay longer

Location: The Pilot, 22 Cumberland St. Toronto (right at Bloor-Yonge subway)

If you are interested, e-mail: Ontariowonkers at gmail.com or just show up. Very smart of them to make a dedicated email for the event, huh?

Go! Meet up! Talk about movies and Wonkets and that awful Ford fellow! Make jokes at Alberta's expense!

Watch These Dudes Make A Tiny Cabin Out Of Salvaged Pallet Wood!

This is just one oddly satisfying video, featuring a father and son building a very small cabin out of wood salvaged from shipping pallets. Hand tools only, and they even re-use the nails from the pallets, which were salvaged, with permission, from a bunch of businesses. No dialogue, just hammering and cutting and making stuff -- including a bed and a table and chair. Plus a small wood stove.

Building a Cabin from Pallet Wood: Cheap Off Grid Homestead youtu.be

This appears to be a shorter version of a video the duo put up last year; looks like after the cabin had been up for a while, they had to take it down and rebuild it because the spot where they originally put it got all puddly after rains, so they didn't want it to rot. They have a whole bunch of neato outdoorsy videos, and we sure hope their interest in woodland survival stuff is entirely My Side of the Mountain and not at all Red Dawn. No AR-15s we could see!

Cool Reads!

1. Science fiction/fantasy writer Alexandra Rowland took some time to answer a reader's question about whether fan fiction -- specifically, the porny kind -- isn't just incredibly disrespectful to the creators of original works, because isn't that taking something a writer put a lot of work into and turning it to your own ends, possibly very icky ones? Rowland's answer is wonderfully kind to the reader, although Rowland couldn't disagree more: Once you've written something and it's out there in the world, only that original version is yours, and if it's any good, it will hold up on its own. Along the way, Rowland discusses the "Death of the Author" and why a fan's asking Hayao Miyazaki "How did you decide how big Princess Mononoke's boobs should be?" is both hilarious and something creators may as well take seriously:

I mean, if I got asked this question, I'd take it as an opportunity to talk about the images we have of women in media, about objectification and the male gaze, because maybe that IS what the person meant to ask. Maybe Miyazaki DID put deliberate thought into how big that character's boobs were. They're part of her body, so they're part of her image, and her image is carefully engineered to give a specific artistic impression. Miyazaki cares about the depiction of women in his films, and some women have boobs, and he can't just draw a blank void, so… "How big should this character's boobs be?" is a perfectly valid question for artists to ask themselves AND ACTIVELY THINK ABOUT, so they can grow to be aware of their presuppositions and assumptions[.]

Mind you, the essay is really not about anime boobs (and we think the question was hypothetical), or even about fanfic porn. It gets at some really neat stuff about how creators and audiences interact with art, and who "owns" a work of art once it's out in the world. I liked it.

2. Medieval Monks worried about losing their train of thought all the time, and it's a bit reassuring to know that the problem with distractedness has more to do with how brains work than with cell phones or the internet. I liked this one so much I wanted to tweet it, but I forgot.

3. WaPo has a neat piece on how historic plantations are FINALLY including slavery as part of the tour. More importantly, it's about how they handle certain visitors who think mentioning historical reality is "political correctness." This counts as "nice time" because they're not just nodding and saying "oh, dear, you're upset? We'll erase history for your delicate sensibilities." (No, they're not yelling "'Moonlight and Magnolias' is a fucking lie" either. Maybe eventually.)

4. Not a read but a resource for history and photography nerds: Yale has launched a tool "for organizing, searching, and visualizing" 170,000 photographs documenting the Great Depression, all of them in the public domain. I know what I'm going to mess around with this afternoon!

Your Weekly Dose Of Critters:

Novelist Chuck Wendig, he of the terrific photos of the fox family near his Pennsylvania backyard, invited people to share their pets' silliest moments. He got quite a few:




There was dual-cat blepping:



And a puddledog (but not a dog's puddle) for balance:

And speaking of puddles, since some have wondered whether Thornton has had any more improper micturations, I'm happy to report that so far, we've gone a week and a half with no issues. I'm a bit hesitant to say anything,out of a superstitious fear of jinxing a no-pisser.

So those are your nice things for this weekend, and this is now your open thread! Hooray! Talk amongst yourselves!

[NPR / The Handmaid's Tale / The Testaments / Alexandra Rowland / Aeon / WaPo / Open Culture]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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