Couple Announces They’re Expecting A Baby In Adorably Geeky Way

Someone needs to buy a car seat for their Batmobile.

James and Alisha Doherty, a couple in their late 20s from Nashville, Tennessee, love Batman.

Both have been fans of the caped crusader since they were little kids. Alisha can quote all the Batman films from the ’90s, and James even volunteers to dress up as the Dark Knight at birthday parties and local events to entertain folks.

So, when Alisha recently found out she was pregnant, there was only one way to announce the news.

“I think we both kind of knew we would be doing it even before we found out we were pregnant,” James told HuffPost.

On April 20, both got decked out in their Batman and Batgirl finest and snapped a few fabulously nerdy shots.

Afterwards James decided to post the photos on Reddit, using the caption: “My wife and I have a sidekick on the way.” The photos ended up getting a good amount of attention, racking up over 1,200 comments on Reddit and over 368,000 views on Imgur.  

The couple feels the reason for their popularity is because the photos are 100 percent authentically them.

“We wanted to take a few of the most common poses and add our own twist to them,” James said. “Alisha had the ‘drinking for three’ idea and mine was the What To Expect When You’re Expecting one.”

James told HuffPost that their photo shoot lasted about 30 minutes, and it consisted of him setting a timer on a camera in their living room and jumping into the shots. He said the entire time, he and Alisha had a blast.

“You can’t dress up in suits like that and not have fun doing something,” he said.

He also wants all the haters out there to know that he and Alisha are perfectly aware that Batman and Batgirl never hook up.

 “We’re both aware that Batman and Batgirl did not have a romantic relationship in the canon,” he said. “There’s always the issue of making non-canon fan content and placing it on the internet. There will always be naysayers and mean spirited comments. But the good has vastly outweighed the negative.”

But the best thing of all? The couple is totally psyched to meet their first child who is due on October 31.

“We are very proud, happy, and thrilled,” James said. “This baby coming is the biggest blessing of our lives. And we can’t wait.”

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Michelle Obama Thanks Beyoncé ‘For Investing In Our Girls’ With Scholarship

Beyoncé’s newly formed scholarship program is getting two thumbs up from Michelle Obama.

On Tuesday, the former first lady went on Twitter ― a rare occurrence these days ― to share a heartfelt thank you to the artist for launching Formation Scholars.

“Always inspired by your powerful contributions @Beyonce,” Obama said. “You are a role model for us all. Thank you for investing in our girls.”

Beyoncé announced the launch of Formation Scholars on Monday in celebration of the anniversary of her visual album “Lemonade.” One scholarship each will be awarded to a woman who is “unafraid to think outside the box and [is] bold, creative, conscious and confident” at Berklee College of Music, Parsons School of Design, Howard University and Spelman College.

Since Obama is also dedicated to helping girls pursue an education, it’s no wonder why she’s giving Beyoncé praise. In 2015, Obama launched her Let Girls Learn initiative. The program was started to help young women around the world get access to a better education. Obama is also a huge cheerleader for College Signing Day. Plus, after Beyoncé performed for Obama a few times and collaborated with her for Let’s Move!, it’s safe to say that they’re practically BFFs.

Queens recognize queens.

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In A Bold New Book, Earth Is Left Uninhabitable By War

Lidia Yuknavitch’s latest novel, The Book of Joan, pays homage to a figure who’s inspired the author since her Catholic upbringing: a woman and a martyr, Joan of Arc. In an interview with The Rumpus, Yuknavitch explained how the historic idol allowed her to turn her suffering into “something more like girl power,” and her novel makes that personal connection clear.

Honoring the story of 1400s Joan, Yuknavitch’s book follows another Joan on a near-future expedition. As a girl, she learns that she’s intimately connected with Earth, down to her anatomy, which includes a blue light that emits from her forehead, coinciding, it seems, with the planet’s pain. As war happens ― suddenly and everywhere ― child soldiers are enlisted, and Joan’s oneness with the natural world is used as a weapon. She also discovers she has the power to bring the dead back to life, for a short time.

These skills turn her into a symbol of hope, one the tyrannical Jean de Men aims to destroy. The dictator reins over CIEL, a space home inhabited by humans whose skin has lost its pigmentation and whose genitals have become shriveled and useless. In this new society, there are no books, only stories branded onto skin through a process called grafting.

One expert grafter, Christine (after Christine de Pizan, a medieval writer who criticized poet Jean de Meun’s work about courtly love), wears Joan’s story and believes that, although Joan was burned alive, she’s still living and thriving somewhere down on Earth. She hopes to lead a coup against Jean de Men, who’s working to restore human genitalia not for pleasure, but for reproduction.

Meanwhile, Joan roams Earth with Leone ― her closest friend ― exploring deep caves where life thrives in the form of worms and bugs. Yuknavitch’s stellar prose is most alive here, when she’s lovingly describing the natural world ― its beauty and brutality.

As a story, The Book of Joan is something new altogether. The characters moralize. They give speeches, they lay out their philosophical views, and they seldom act in ways that contradict their beliefs. So, the effect is like that of reading a comic book ― or medieval text ― infused with lines of perfect poetry. There are heroes and villains. The heroes act heroically, and the villains, corrupted by power, enact evil deeds without remorse. Jean de Men’s “gross train of flesh [is] splayed out on the floor.” His voice is “reptilian.” “He aims his words with measured venom.”

This is not a conventional approach to contemporary literature or science fiction; both genres aim to create characters who are as morally complex as most humans. (Individuals are large, remember? They contain multitudes.) But, Yuknavitch isn’t a conventional writer, and has, in fact, devoted her career to rethinking conventions.

She runs a writing workshop called Corporeal Writing, where budding authors’ intuitions are valued and where politically engaged work is encouraged. In the description for one of the courses, the program’s site reads, “A cohesive narrative can happen any number of ways.  It can be an accumulation of fragments, it can be kaleidoscopic, it can by lyric, braided, circular, vertical, visual, it can be arranged as a palimpsest.”

Kaleidoscopic, lyric ― these words nicely fit Yuknavitch’s style, which is especially suited to the passages wherein Christine is telling the story of Joan, who, to her, is a symbol of hope.

But, aside from her descriptions of her heroes, her fantasies, and her beliefs, we’re not given access to Christine’s life on CIEL. This book will appeal less to readers interested in worldbuilding and in individuals navigating future social systems ― a la Ursula K. Le Guin, more anthropologist than philosopher. It is, instead, an homage to an idol, an ode to a way of life, and a warning about mistreating the earth and each other. All of that’s wrapped up in a voice that’s uniquely Yuknavitch’s, which is worth reading for alone.  

The bottom line:

More poetic creed than conventional story, The Book of Joan shows off Yuknavitch’s imagination and her gift for crafting sonorous sentences.

Who wrote it:

Lidia Yuknavitch is the author of The Chronology of Water and The Small Backs of Children, which we named one of HuffPost’s Best Books of 2015.

Who will read it:

Anyone interested in fiction that grapples with gender, climate change or near-future scenarios.

What other reviewers think:

The New York Times: “Telling the truth with precision and rage and a visionary’s eye, using both realism and fabulism, is one way to break through the white noise of a consumerist culture that tries to commodify post-apocalyptic fiction, to render it safe.”

LARB: “Perhaps it is only ‘natural’ that in a book that brings together so many different strains of history, literature, theory, and even science, some parts are bound to contradict others.”

NPR: “Yuknavitch is a bold and ecstatic writer, wallowing in sex and filth and decay and violence and nature and love with equal relish.”

Opening lines:

“Burning is an art.”

Notable passage:

“Leone, whose small heart had a defect at birth, who carried a heart that started out in a pig. Xenotransplantation and Leone had become Joan’s favorite words. Xenotransplantation represented a change in the distance between people and animals in a way she loved. Leone represented Leone, just Leone, Leone.”

The Book of Joan
Lidia Yuknavitch
HarperCollins, $26.99
Published April 18, 2017

The Bottom Line is a weekly review combining plot description and analysis with fun tidbits about the book.

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Elisabeth Moss Absolutely Knows ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Is A Feminist Story

Ahead of the premiere of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Hulu’s 2017 adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s beloved dystopian novel, actor Elisabeth Moss would like to make one point clear: The show is “obviously” feminist.

She intimated otherwise during a packed panel discussion that took place at the Tribeca Film Festival. “It’s not a feminist story, it’s a human story, because women’s rights are human rights,” she told audiences in New York City. Some fans were less than pleased with what seemed like an effort to distance the show from its, to use her word, “obviously” feminist underpinnings. 

Women’s rights are human rights, but, according to many readers and preemptive fans of the show, there is no need to explicitly state that a TV series centered on the life of Offred ― a woman stripped of her societal power, forced into gruesome sexual servitude, and still willing to fight like hell for her freedom ― isn’t feminist. 

“I’m not sure that that was exactly what I was trying to say, or what we were trying to say,” Moss told HuffPost on Tuesday, hours before Hulu released the first three episodes to stream. “I wanted to say ― and I’ll just say it right here, right now ― OBVIOUSLY, all caps, it is a feminist work. It is a feminist show.”

Moss identifies as “a card-carrying feminist,” who herself doesn’t believe there’s such a thing as being too vocal about your feminist views. In past interviews about her “Mad Men” character Peggy, she’s said she’s “super-proud to have been part of a moment that people can gain any inspiration from or connect with women’s rights.”

“I think what happened was that I left out a very, very important four-letter word, which is ‘also,’” she said of her “Handmaid’s Tale” comments. “It’s also a humanist tale. That’s all. Women’s rights are human rights. For me, they’re one and the same. And I welcome the conversations. Anything that brings feminism into the spotlight, anything that brings reproductive rights into the spotlight, is a great thing. Whatever that is. We should be talking about it.”

Moss plays Offred, the narrator of “Handmaid’s Tale,” whose “reproductive rights and human rights have been stripped,” who has been “enslaved because she is fertile” and consequently “sexually assaulted every month.” In the Hulu show, these rape scenes are carefully wrought, giving viewers a sobering glimpse into one aspect of the seemingly hopeless lives of the many lower-class women subjugated by Gilead’s theocratic regime. 

“It was super important to us that it was very clearly a sexual assault and not something enjoyable by any of the parties,” Moss, who’s also a producer on the show, emphasized. “That it was clinical, that it was brutal, that it was emotionless.”

“For me, what I was trying to do as an actor,” she added, “was to try to imagine ― where do you go? For me, I felt like it would be so horrible that you would have to sort of not be there and that was the only way you could get through such a thing. We do two or three of them ― the ceremonies ― throughout the series, and each time it was really important for us to show that this is not something is remotely sexy. This is sexual assault.”

The show, created by Bruce Miller and executive produced by Warren Littlefield, is fierce in its dedication to realism. Moss was encouraged to not wear makeup in the show, not only to hew closely to the show’s source material ― the detail is outlined in Atwood’s book, in which handmaids are legally prohibited from wearing makeup ― but to allow the near-constant close-up shots of Offred to sink in. 

“It does feel like you can see so much more of the character and so much more acting that way,” Moss said. “For me, I don’t want to get dressed up and pretty when I’m acting. I like to play challenging characters ― characters who are going through the challenges of life. It actually makes my life so much easier if I can use that hair and makeup process to the advantage of telling the story and seeing where the character is at.”

Moss’ character ― separated from the husband and daughter she knew before the rise of Gilead, back when familiar companies like Uber and Tinder had more pull over contemporary society ― certainly faces challenges rarely seen on TV before. In one particularly haunting scene, Offred and a group of handmaids are commanded to collectively attack a convicted rapist ― a directive some of the characters almost eagerly obey. 

“It raises interesting questions, doesn’t it? Interesting questions about a prison system.” Moss notes of the scene, which occurs in the opening episode. “If you imprison these people and take away all of their rights and sexually assault them and treat them with violence, what happens to these people? How do they change? How do they adapt to the prison? These women are angry, and they are hurt, and they’ve had everything taken away from them including their children. When presented with the male figure, who they are led to believe has done something horrible similar to what has been done to themselves and what is done to them every month, it’s a representation of might happen. What they might do. All that anger, all of that pain, all of that frustration comes out.”

“There’s also the point that can’t be overlooked or missed is that they have to,” she added. “That if they don’t participate in what’s called a particicution, that they will be killed or maimed or physically abused. They have no choice.”

Choice is a word that seems to once again summon the feminist allegory built right into “Handmaid’s Tale.” In the 1980s, Atwood herself was somewhat hesitant about aligning with the feminism of the time ― second-wave. “I didn’t want to become a megaphone for any one particular set of beliefs,” she said. Thirty years later, she still holds measured reservations.

But to Moss’ Tribeca comments, she’s clear: “They needed an ‘only,’ an ‘also,’ and a human rights definition of the F word, imho,” she tweeted

“[’Handmaid’s Tale’] is first and foremost feminist,” Moss concluded on Tuesday. “And it’s also about many other different problems we are facing ― infringements on a lot of different human rights. I got the privilege of spending so much time with Margaret recently, and hearing her talk about this stuff. I know what this book is and I know what she’s talking about.” 

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These Illustrations Show What It’s Like To Live With Schizophrenia

It’s hard to walk in the shoes of someone with a serious mental health condition, but art can play a major role in bridging the divide.

Kate Fenner, an 18-year-old artist, tapped into this exact creative process in order to better explain how her schizophrenia diagnosis affects her everyday reality. The result is a series of illustrations that perfectly capture how the mental health disorder feels and manifests:

”I’ve been ‘diagnosed’ with multiple labels over the years,” she wrote on Bored Panda. “At the age of 17, I finally was diagnosed with schizophrenia after my parents realized my mental health was getting worse.”

Fenner’s art focuses on her symptoms, which include experiencing hallucinations of bugs and hearing voices. She hopes that by being more open about her personal experience, she opens the door for others to share their stories. She also said she wants to dismantle the misconception that those with a mental illness are lazy or violent.

“As soon as I tell people what I struggle with, I feel like that’s all they see me as,” she wrote of the stereotypes. “They see the stigma perpetuated by the media, and the inaccurate stereotypes portrayed in Hollywood. That is precisely why I am so open about what I live with.”

Approximately 4 percent percent of adults in the United States are diagnosed with a serious mental illness like schizophrenia. The disorder is highly stigmatized, which can be dangerous: Research shows negative attitudes and shame around mental health prevent people from seeking help.

That’s where education can come in: Experts say that learning about mental health disorders and how they take a toll on the person living with them can help people become more compassionate.

Take a look at a few of Fenner’s illustrations below to gain more insight into what it’s like to deal with schizophrenia firsthand. Nothing like a little visual perspective.

The above illustration is an image of the bug Fenner often sees in her hallucinations, she said in Bored Panda.

This sketch explains what a hallucination is and how Fenner experiences it.

This drawing portrays how her condition sometimes robs Fenner of her self esteem.

Head over to Fenner’s Instagram to see more.

H/T Bored Panda

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It’s Hard To Forget The Best Photos From Obama’s First 100 Days

With President Donald Trump’s 100th day in office approaching, we’re looking back at the photos released by the White House since Inauguration Day.

And it became clear that there was a stark difference in the intimacy of Trump’s photos compared with those from President Barack Obama’s first 100 days, likely because of the wealth of images captured and shared by White House photographer Pete Souza. (You can revisit them all thanks to the archive on the Obama White House Flickr.)

Souza captured many iconic images during Obama’s first 100 days, ranging from private Super Bowl screenings with 3D glasses to quiet moments with first lady Michelle Obama.

Check out photos from Obama’s first 100 days below. You might just see one of your favorites. 

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These Are Some Of The Best Photos From President Trump’s First 100 Days

The first 100 days of any presidency have long been held up as a marker, and President Donald Trump’s expectations for his first 100 were high.

Some of the photos from Barack Obama’s first 100 days became among his most iconic. Images from Trump’s time in office so far include signed executive orders, handshakes with world leaders and even a childlike moment in a big truck. 

Only a handful of photos have been released by the White House’s official photographer, Shealah Craighead, and her staff. But thanks to wire services, too, we have images of some truly memorable moments from the beginning of Trump’s presidency. 

See more photos from Trump’s first 100 days below. 

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Cop Called To End Kids’ Dance Event Ends Up Teaching Them How To Salsa

This police officer in San Antonio, Texas, has sure got some smooth moves.

When a neighbor called cops out to shut down a children’s dance club event that was being held in a backyard late Saturday, the unidentified officer went off script — and ended up teaching the attending youngsters how to dance salsa.

See how it went down here:

Leslie Sapp, whose daughter was attending the Next Generation Dance Crew event, shared the above footage of the heartwarming moment to Facebook. It’s now going viral.

Instead of shutting it down or even interrupting, the officer asked to play a song and then his song came on, and well, the video speaks for itself,” Sapp told KSAT.

The officer danced with several children and posed with the crew once the song had ended. 

Sapp said the officer had helped alter her daughter’s perception of law enforcers. “As a parent, especially these days, there is a lot of negativity in the world when it comes to cops, and he broke that stereotype,” she said.

HuffPost has reached out for comment.

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Stephen King Has A ‘Gentle’ Message For Trump Voters

Author Stephen King has a message for people who voted for President Donald Trump and still support him.

The horror master is likely referencing recent polls that showed Trump voters weren’t having any second thoughts about their pick for president. A Washington Post/ABC News poll found only 2 percent had any regrets.

At the same time, Trump approaches his 100-day mark as president with a record-low approval rating overall and a fairly meager list of accomplishments.  

King has long been critical of Trump. In March, he mocked the president’s unproven wiretapping claims in a series of tweets. And last year, prior to the election, King shared this: 

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Creative Family Photo Shows Four Generations Of Women

A Texas photographer found a creative way to take an intergenerational family picture.

Amber Rater of Moose Photography created this special image of local mom Nicole Margavitch, along with her mother, grandmother and daughter.

The awesome photo appeared on the popular Facebook page, Love What Matters, where it received over 19,000 likes. 

“This photograph is something I will cherish for the rest of my life,” Nicole stated in the caption. “There are 72 years between the first and the last photo in this sequence, yet the values, beauty and love transcend through generations. This photo captures the pride we have for those who came before us and those who came after us.” 

Several Facebook commenters shared similar photos of their own families.

Though Amber used Photoshop to bring the image to life, you can create a similar photo manually, by printing out photographs as you go along and having each successive family member hold them. 

It takes work, but as the above photos show, the result is pure family joy.

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