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Evil Plants in Pop Culture

Whether the “brightening spores” in Jeff VanderMeer’s mind-bending sci-fi novel Annihilation are actually evil (or plants at all) is open to interpretation, but all readers can agree that they’re definitely not benign. In honor of the film adaptation hitting theaters, we’re taking a look at a few other nefarious plants that have crept their way onto movie screens in years past.

Posted by Lauren Thoman

Who Says Pet Owners Have to be Human?

Have you ever sat down and really pondered just how strange it is that humans own pets? Whether it’s a dog or a cat or a gerbil or a parakeet, the basic principle is always the same: a person decides to invite one or more members of a completely different species into their home to live, henceforth, as a member of the family. And that’s only the beginning.

We talk to our pets, invite them to cuddle with us on the couch or sleep in our beds. We project personalities onto them and give them cutesy names and pretend to read their minds in silly voices. We pick up their poop with our hands, blot the occasional urine or vomit stain out of our carpets with paper towels without batting an eye, and go to work with clothing covered in their hair, because no lint roller can fully account for it.

Seriously, this is a very weird thing that humans do. But we do it happily, because let’s face it, pets are the best.

Today, we’re looking at a few pairings from pop culture that take the bizarre interspecies adoption ritual that is pet ownership one step further – not only are most of these pets pretty unorthodox, but the owners aren’t even human.

Posted by Lauren Thoman

Book and Grilled Cheese Pairings

Okay, gentle readers, before we go any further, we’re going to need to discuss how to properly make a grilled cheese sandwich.

“But,” you say, “I thought we were going to talk about books and grilled cheese.”

And we will. But it is a truth universally acknowledged that bad grilled cheese ruins lives.

Okay, maybe not lives. But also maybe lives.

Anyway. We’re going to talk about how to make good grilled cheese, and then how to pair good grilled cheese with books, and your lives are going to be better for it. I think we can all agree this is true.

So first off. A grilled cheese sandwich. Easy, right? Well, yes, but also, easy to screw up. People want to rush the process, or overstuff their sandwich, and it just ends in a pile of burnt bread and sadness. You don’t want that.

Posted by Lauren Thoman

Really Long Shows You’ve Always Meant to Binge… But Didn’t

[Still from Supernatural, Warner Bros. Television]

2017 has come to an end, and with it, our hopes for checking off the last few New Year’s Resolutions still hanging around from last January. Hopefully you managed to hit most of your big ones – finding a job, perhaps, or keeping in better touch with long-distance friends, or eating more salad – but there are always those little add-on resolutions that seem to slip through the cracks, the ones we think that surely we will get to sometime during the year, but never feel like quite a high enough priority to actually sit down and do.

Like finally binge-watching Supernatural.

Look, if you are one of those people who started watching Supernatural early in its run and have been keeping up ever since, good for you. But for those who were late to the party, thirteen seasons (and counting) is a tall order. That’s 287 episodes of television. You know what you could accomplish in the amount of time it takes to watch 287 episodes?*

You could complete a training program for a full marathon. Twice.**

You could watch the Lord of the Rings extended editions 18 times, with time for bathroom breaks.

You could write a rough draft of a novel.***

You could walk from New York City to Detroit.

Basically, picking up Supernatural now is not just a matter of curiosity; it’s a long-term commitment, like a middle school romance.**** So it’s understandable if you’ve decided that, at this point, no matter how great your friends say it is, the Supernatural ship has sailed. It’s too daunting. Maybe one day if you are ever recuperating from a severe illness, or are put under house arrest, you might give it a go. But as it is, you know better than to put that show on your list of New Year’s Resolutions again. You’ve learned your lesson. Fool you once, CW.*****

Then again, maybe you’ll give it a whirl anyway. Who knows, 2018 may just be a year where you want to hermit away for a few weeks and power through 210 hours of epic battles between good and evil. No judgement. Sometimes building a blanket fort in your living room and watching a full season of television in one sitting really is the best and most logical option.

Here are a few other shows that you’ve heard were good, and you were thinking about watching sometime this year…if you can just find the time.

* or 210.5 hours, assuming an average of 44 minutes per episode

** It takes about 88 hours of activity to train for a full marathon, assuming around a 10-minute-per-mile pace – although you could run at a slower pace and still be able to complete the training program twice in under 210 hours.

*** writing 3.5 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 3 months, assuming you are a person who can draft a novel on that sort of schedule. If you aren’t, no shame.

**** 8.77 days, which… actually, that might be aiming a bit high for a middle school romance.

***** Supernatural has actually been around for so long that it started on The WB, not The CW.

Posted by Lauren Thoman

The Three Types of Time Travel Stories

[Movie still from Back to the Future, Universal Pictures]

In Andrew DeGraff’s book Cinemaps, readers can track Marty McFly’s geographical journey through three different versions of Hill Valley, California, but there’s another aspect of Marty’s travel that can’t be captured geographically: his travel through time.

Posted by Lauren Thoman

Suggested Reading for the Kids of Stranger Things

[All TV stills from Stranger Things, Netflix]

Stranger Things just returned for Season 2, and while it’s probably safe to assume that the kids of Hawkins will have their hands full with monsters and alternate dimensions, they’re still middle school students who would benefit by squeezing a book or two into their busy Demogorgon-slaying schedules. Here are a few (modern) suggestions for each character, just in case the Upside Down happens to have a library.

Posted by Lauren Thoman