2016 NAFF race – voting open now!

NAFF 2015

Welcome to the NAFF race for 2016. The National Australian Fan Fund (NAFF) was created to assist fans to travel across Australia to attend the National Science Fiction Convention (Natcon). NAFF assists fans to travel to the Natcon and covers the costs of airfares and accommodation. The Natcon donates a convention membership. This year’s NAFF race is to the 55th Australian Natcon, Contact, which will be held in Brisbane during Easter, 25– 28 March 2016. It is expected that the winner will produce a report of their trip, engage in fundraising to support future NAFF races, and to help administer the NAFF race for the following two years. All Australian fans are eligible to vote.

The voting process contributes to the fundraising so each vote costs $5. You are more than welcome to donate more than this amount! Votes are being collected by: Tehani Wessely and the candidates. For more information please contact Tehani at editormum75@gmail.com.

You can vote online here with just a few clicks.

Voting opens Wednesday 2 December 2015 and concludes on Wednesday 23 December 2015.

Your candidates for this year:

Liz Barr (VIC)

Since 2013, I’ve been a member of the organising committee for Melbourne’s Continuum convention, serving in the capacities of programmer (C9, 2013); membership officer (C10, 2014); and chair (C11; 2015). With Stephanie Lai, I’ve blogged about fandom, media, social justice, childhood nostalgia trips turned dystopian nightmares and assorted Australiana at no-award.net since 2013.

I have a strong interest in developing and promoting an intersectional and accessible feminism in fandom, promoting Australian genre media, particularly for young adults and children, and also advancing a sinister squid-related agenda and the return of Harold Holt from his watery domain.

Nominated by: Lucy Baker (VIC), Melina Dahms (QLD), and Stephanie Lai (VIC).

Elizabeth Fitzgerald (ACT)

I’ve been a SFF book geek ever since reading The Hobbit at age five. Currently, I run a book blog at Earl Grey Editing and am just starting my fourth term as the Secretary of the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild. Over the years, I’ve volunteered with Dewey’s 24-hour readathon and Conflux. I’m an unabashed roleplayer and reader of fanfiction.

I love to connect communities and to create positive relationships between fans and creators. I’ve attended many Confluxes but would like to attend a convention with a stronger focus on fans (and to geek out over books with Kirilee Barker).

Nominated by: Donna Maree Hanson (ACT), Kathleen Jennings (QLD), and Gillian Polack (ACT).

Maureen Flynn (NSW)

I love the speculative fiction community – whether cos playing, attending cons (especially Conflux), judging on the Aurealis, supporting authors at book launches or being a friendly face for all who choose to be part of Australia’s vibrant community. I blog, I read a lot, I write and I love to support and really get to know people. I’ve never been to Contact before, and I’d love to hear the passion of others and share my passion right on back, especially at something at important as a natcon. NAFF would provide me with the financial support to make that happen.

Nominated by: Emily Craven (QLD), David McDonald (VIC), and Kaaron Warren (ACT).

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Squeeing over Supergirl: How Does She Do It?, S01E04

David McDonald and Tehani Wessely have been squeeing about the new Supergirl television show for months, so they decided to take time each week to discuss the new episodes as they air. They may occasionally rope in their friends to get excited too.

Supergirl_1920x1080_586896_640x360

Supergirl – Episode 5 (4?), “How does she do it?”

TEHANI: Please, PLEASE don’t let this turn into a show that is ONLY about boyfriends and girlfriends! I don’t mind it occasionally, but we need to see Kara as more than just a love interest or thwarted love interest or part of a love triangle… She’s freaking Supergirl for goodness sake—there is more to her than boys!

DAVID: I do wonder whether that is something that might be more appealing to the demographic they are targeting, though. I mean, all the relationships stuff isn’t something that really interests me, but I doubt that I would have been invited to their focus groups. So, is it a reasonable thing for them to be doing given the audience they are aiming at?

supergirl-episode-4-preview-imagesTEHANI: That’s not an unreasonable assumption, BUT… Why do all teen shows have to focus on the relationships? Can we not expect something more of these shows? Because you know, I reckon there are a whole heap of discerning young viewers who would be MORE THAN HAPPY to see people doing things and interacting without lots of love-triangley stuff getting in the way. You know, like real life…

DAVID: I am curious as to your thoughts on the whole “friendzone” discussion. It’s usually a term applied to men, and often has some unpleasant baggage attached.

TEHANI: Yeah, that made me cringe a bit. I get what they were trying to shorthand it to, but it is a bit off, considering the problematic connotations it has.

I do wish this had been aired in the order it should have been though, because there are some important relationship changes that make more sense having seen this episode prior to “Livewire”.

Supergirl-TV-James-Lucy-LaneDAVID: I can certainly understand why they rescheduled it, the climax on the train was more than a little disturbing simply in itself. But, there are a few things that would have shed light on the events of the next episode—especially Lucy and James suddenly being back together, and Kara’s seeming acceptance of it.

TEHANI: This is probably more a personal thing, but I really liked the theme of this episode, which basically was (for me, at least) about women and the myth of “having it all”. Supergirl pointing out that she can’t be in two places at once, Cat thinking she will miss out on collecting her award because she has no one to watch her son, all those things. And as usual, my favourite parts of the episode were Cat Grant speaking truth…

Cat: “How do you juggle it all? You learn, that’s how. You start with two balls before adding another. I figured out how to be brilliant in business and THEN I added being a brilliant mother. Far too many women burn out trying to do too much before they’re ready.”

Kara: “So you can have it all?”

Cat: Of course! Just not all at once and not right away.”

supergirl-cbs-salta-la-programmazione-di-how-does-she-do-it-al-suo-posto-livewire-243993-1280x720DAVID: I think that Cat perhaps suffers the most from the missing episode. We see a much more sympathetic side to her in this episode, and I wonder how much more forgiving I would have been of her treatment of Livewire if I’d seen this episode first. Is this the most human aspect of Cat we have seen so far?

TEHANI: Carter was also pretty awesome. I liked Cat’s relationship with her son, and I liked the way Kara got him to open up a bit. It was also interesting to see Carter used to make a point about Winn’s character (which helps us realise one of the reasons why Kara probably isn’t interested in him—he’s just a big kid!). Although it was a bit creepy that Kara was fishing for Supergirl compliments from him—even my 10 year old picked up on that and went “ew”!

"How Does She Do It?" -- Kara's two identities are stretched thin when Supergirl must protect National City from a series of bombings and Kara is tasked with babysitting Cat's son, Carter, on SUPERGIRL, Monday, Nov. 16 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured left to right: Levi Miller and Calista Flockhart Photo: Darren Michaels/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. © 2015 WBEI. All rights reserved.

DAVID: There was lots to like about Carter—but also a lot of pandering to the viewers. As his mother said, nerds can win in the end (and I’d argue that we have when you look at the current state of pop culture). I don’t like preachy TV, but I do like it when shows have a good message and I think that they are providing some good role models in this show. Role model might not be quite the right, but I am sure that plenty of tweens or young teens would identify with Carter and there were some good messages in there.

I think poor old Winn is getting a bit of the rough end of the stick here. As we see, James has far more flaws when it comes to being boyfriend material. Collecting figurines seems pretty mild in comparison to being a superhero groupie!

Perhaps I am too naive, but I didn’t get a creepy vibe from Kara with the fishing for compliments, it was pretty innocent stuff. I think it was more just wanting a bit of egoboo given that she was feeling inadequate in a number of ways, especially when it came to measuring up to Lucy. Plus, you have to remember that, chronologically anyway, it was only last episode that everyone was saying how useless and what a menace Supergirl was, so I am sure she was happy to hear that isn’t a universal opinion.

TEHANI: Fair enough, from that point of view. Also creepy though? Lucy basically saying Jimmy/James was obsessed with Superman and that “This hero wears a skirt. How am I supposed to compete with that?” So she thinks that James is just projecting onto Supergirl and would become involved with her simply because she’s a female version of his hero? Double ew…

DAVID: Yeah, there is a whole lot of wrong there. Of course, Lucy may be wrong about that, but the whole quasi incestuous nature of the relationships is bordering on weird. Basically Kara is chasing the guy who is going out with the sister of her cousin’s romantic interest!

107023wb0106bcjpg-a80ad2_640wTEHANI: While I would like to say I was surprised by the ending, I don’t think I was at all—Maxwell Lord was a very generic setup for a bad guy… Though I do wonder what has happened to Astra—are we not getting her as the big bad this season?

DAVID: There is so much baggage attached to the character due to his history in comics that it is almost impossible to be surprised that he would have sinister motivations. It’s like how in Smallville, no matter how friendly he was, you were always waiting for Lex Luthor to turn. I’d be surprised if we don’t see Astra pop up again, though—perhaps a Zod/Luthor type alliance a la Superman II?

TEHANI: Again, this is me not being familiar with the source material! On the other hand, I’m interested in what’s happening with Henshaw. As you know, David, I also don’t know the canon on this one, and am resolutely not looking it up! But he was prepared to risk his life (and/or exposing himself) to save Alex and all the people at the airport, so I’m coming down on the side of good for him!

timthumbDAVID: Pretty cavalier bomb disposal practices though—waving it over his head, and then just dumping it in the lab for Alex to discover it wasn’t a dummy WHILE TAKING IT APART! I want to see where they go with Henshaw too, he certainly isn’t a one dimensional character in the comics. They have a lot to work with there.

TEHANI: Good to know!

Previously, in “Squeeing over Supergirl”…

Pilot

Stronger Together

Fight or Flight

Livewire

 

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Squeeing over Supergirl: Livewire, S01E05

David McDonald and Tehani Wessely have been squeeing about the new Supergirl television show for months, so they decided to take time each week to discuss the new episodes as they air. They may occasionally rope in their friends to get excited too.

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Supergirl – Episode 5 (4?), “Livewire”

TEHANI: Well, I’m just going to say it: this episode had my least favourite dialogue of the season so far. Some of it was downright clunky, and a lot of it was disjointed and awfully juvenile. I mean really, would Supergirl say … “You MEAN girl!” in the middle of a battle? It was just a bit naff, and I kind of expect better. And the “coming out” innuendos were cute, but just a touch overdone.

DAVID: I really didn’t know how take those, as nice to see that TV has moved to a point where those references are just part of everyday reference rather than being used as insults, or whether it is appropriating the real experiences of people and using it in a way that cheapens it. I don’t think I am qualified to make that call, but I would be interested to hear from people for whom it has a personal meaning.

TEHANI: I also had some concerns about the mother/daughter dynamics portrayed here. I mean, Kara doesn’t even call Eliza “Mum” (or Mom, whatever…), but Eliza does and apparently consistently has put Kara above Alex. And the kind of non-resolution at the end was very wishy washy. I get what they were aiming for, but it fell a bit flat.

Supergirl-Recap-An-UncomforDAVID: I thought that was really weird, and actually kind of toxic! When Winn calls Eliza Kara’s mom, and Kara very clearly and very firmly corrects him with “foster-mom” I saw that as a bit of a warning sign that the relationship had a weird dynamic—even if Kara doesn’t call her mom, you would think in that context she wouldn’t have been so quick to correct it.

I am also not sure that one Thanksgiving mother/daughter chat is going to make up for decades of psychological trauma on Alex’s behalf. Those sort of things just don’t go away, and it isn’t as if she is all of a sudden not going feel undervalued or under extreme pressure from her mother’s expectations.

Eliza just didn’t come across as a very nice person, or a particularly good mother. I know that’s harsh, but we only go by what we see. Now, that’s an interesting story choice, because the Kents are held up as the gold standard of parenting (and even their relationship with Supergirl is traditionally much better than the one with Eliza shown here). It’s fascinating to see a Supergirl whose family life is a bit more…dysfunctional.

TEHANI: It will definitely be interesting to see if we get more of this. I’m going to make a prediction here – I reckon Alex’s dad, Jeremiah Danvers, isn’t really dead…

I was completely unsurprised to discover (thank you Wikipedia) that this episode was originally slated to air as episode five, with another episode (“How Does She Do It” – scheduled now for next week) supposed to run prior. The sudden jump in James and Lucy’s relationship didn’t make sense, and Cat Grant has mellowed somewhat, rather abruptly it seemed. Sort of feels like something else has gone down with Winn and Kara too. A couple of times while watching I wondered if I’d missed something!

SGS1E5 JamesDAVID: I’d already heard that they had changed it but, yes, there are some bits that seemed to have jumped well ahead. I’ll be interested to see the one that was meant to show.

The James and Lucy thing is a bit odd, too, he is so obviously into Kara that I feel bad for Lucy.

TEHANI: I think we really missed something in the network switching the air dates – hopefully that will be a bit clearer after this next week.

Despite my reservations about the dialogue, there was a lot I liked about the episode. I think it started really strongly, and I continue to adore the relationship between Kara and Alex. It was also lovely to see Helen Slater and Dean Cain getting airtime, although I really hope we don’t fall into the flashback trap that can become a bit tedious in Arrow. And this is a show about Supergirl, so keeping the focus on her is important.

SGS1E5 Kara-AlexDAVID: That’s very true, but the twist with the history with Henshaw has made things very interesting, and made the flashbacks worthwhile all by itself. I can’t wait to see where that goes, because it has major ramifications not just for Kara, but for Alex.

TEHANI: I particularly liked Cat Grant’s shot at Leslie Willis regarding attacking Supergirl about her body and that sort of thing. It was a bit undermined by the idea that Cat was only defending Supergirl because she was trying to build a relationship with her to exploit, but I think that’s a bit of a front. It certainly follows on from other points like this that have been made previously, and is echoed when Cat decided not to publish awful photos of young celebrities the day after Thanksgiving.

SGS1E5 Cat-LeslieDAVID: I think it is good that Cat made a stand on that sort of toxic commentary, but it is weakened by the fact she didn’t do it until it was affecting her plans for Supergirl and her magazine. I am sure that Leslie did the same to other celebrities, so why was Cat only reining her in now. Leslie was quite justified in calling her on her double standards.

But, maybe the photo thing did show that she has had an epiphany?

TEHANI: I wonder if the next episode (which should have come before this) will mean we see this differently? Perhaps there was another lead up event. We’ll have to see!

Look, I know that Marvel and DC riff (rip?) off each other a lot, but seriously, Livewire? Last week a cut-rate Iron Man, this week, a genderbent Electro, for goodness sake!

SGS1 LivewireDAVID: In fairness, Livewire is a very established DC character (who is also a very fun character), so I am not sure who was first. However, I had never heard of Reactron before and, given Iron Man’s current profile, I think they made a mistake there by not distinguishing the two enough. But, I doubt too many people would be comparing Livewire and Electro in the same way.

TEHANI: Oh, I googled it and Electro was first by a good three decades. AND he was in the relatively recent Amazing Spider-Man movie!

I’m going to put this out there – I think Cat Grant knows Kara is Supergirl…

DAVID: I wouldn’t be surprised if she does. Maybe she has a plan for that knowledge?

TEHANI: Look forward to finding out!

Previously, in “Squeeing over Supergirl”…

Pilot

Stronger Together

Fight or Flight

 

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Squeeing over Supergirl: Fight or Flight, S01E03

David McDonald and Tehani Wessely have been squeeing about the new Supergirl television show for months, so they decided to take time each week to discuss the new episodes as they air. They may occasionally rope in their friends to get excited too.

Supergirl_1920x1080_586896_640x360Supergirl – Episode 3, “Fight or Flight”

 

DAVID: Three episodes in and I am still really enjoying Supergirl, but it is clear that they are going the “monster-of-the-week” route which definitely has its weaknesses. I thought the idea of the villain being one who saw Supergirl as a way of getting at Superman was a good one, as was his back story, it’s just a shame that he looked like a cut rate Iron Man. It will be interesting to see where the show goes from here, because there is only so long that this style works before it gets repetitive, but the good news is that lots of shows that have started out like this have matured and developed, and been very successful—Smallville and Buffy are both examples. Hopefully we see more of an emphasis on season long story and character arcs as it goes on.

SG ep3jTEHANI: I don’t really mind the monster-of-the-week just so long as we continue to also get Kara growing into her role as Supergirl, Alex being badass, and lots of lovely team byplay and Cat Grant truisms. Although Reactron really was an Iron Man rip off, you’re definitely right there!

DAVID: We also saw a ramping up of the love triangle and I am definitely Team Winslow—for the simple reason I always go for the underdog, and he is definitely overshadowed by James! However, he hit on the winning strategy of not trying to hold Kara back, but instead supporting her in her decision to do the whole hero thing. I am calling something early, though, I am tipping that we will see Maxwell Lord as another love interest. There was some good development of James with his confession that his calling Superman was about him, not her, and his dependence on the Man of Steel. Superman casts a long shadow.

SG ep3gTEHANI: You and I are on different sides of this one—Team James here! And nopeity nope nope to Lord as love interest. Not a chance there, although he and Cat Grant are another story…  

DAVID: How about a friendly wager? I think they are setting him up for it, he is too pretty for a start! And, it would be a contrast with the “good” guys in her life—similar to one of the key romantic pairings in Smallville.

SG ep3eTEHANI: I’ll take that bet!

DAVID: Speaking of Cat, her interview raised the interesting point of the difference in questions men and women get. I can’t imagine Superman being asked when he was starting a family. That’s one of the strengths of this show, I think, the way it contrasts the way different genders are treated.

SG ep3fTEHANI: Isn’t the underpinning commentary WONDERFUL? It’s not always subtle, but it does shine a light on so many things. I also like the lovely little pop culture references—sure, they may date, but they make the show feel super modern, which is great for NOW. I do like that there’s some fallout from the interview, in that Kara realises how what she says can be taken out of context.

DAVID: The were a lot of mentions of Superman in this episode, but I think it makes sense that Kara would constantly be measured against him. He is obviously an established hero in this universe, and the moment she started wearing the “S” people would be comparing them. This is a fairly standard theme in the comics/other spin offs as well, where Supergirl tries to establish herself as a hero in her own right, not just as Superman’s cousin. Even the theme of Superman always wanting to rescue her, or being overprotective, is quite common and a source of tension between them—albeit usually minor. The show is walking a fine line here between acknowledging their relationship and turning this into a show about Superman, and I think they are getting it mostly right. And, I did love the IM conversation!

SG ep3aTEHANI: I’m interested by how they are dealing with the Superman stuff. I’ve read some really great team-up stuff with Superman and Supergirl, and while I don’t think we’ll get that in this show, I do like that he’s a part of Kara’s story. I think it’s important to always keep in mind who the actual audience for the program is—we’re talking about appealing to the teen demographic, mostly. Just as for many of them, life is about figuring out how they work and who they are out from under the shadow of their families, Kara is doing the same thing, except that her family is Superman. Well, it’s Alex and the DEO as well, to a point, but that’s not quite the same.

SG ep3hDAVID: I am not sure why Kara is taking orders from DEO about who she is allowed to take on, and Wynn’s control room should give her some more independence. Anyone familiar with the other versions of the mythos will know where they are going with Hank’s glowing eyes, but it is good to see his and Alex’s working relationship being explored.

TEHANI: I think I get why Kara is listening to the DEO. Partly it’s because of Alex, but I reckon mostly it’s because for all her talk about standing on her own two feet, it’s reassuring for her to have backup. She appreciates the support, even when she feels like it chafes, but you’ll notice how quickly she will take matters into her own hands if she disagrees, even this early on…

SG ep3iI don’t know what the deal is with Hank—bad fan, Tehani! But I have resisted looking it up, because I’m enjoying the not-knowing, so don’t tell me :) Also, I had no idea Lucy Lane was a canon character. I totally want she and Kara to become BFFs and sit around comparing Jimmy stories…

What did you think about James and Kara letting slip to Wynn about Superman’s secret identity? They really are rubbish at keeping secrets!

SG ep3DAVID: I have to admit that I actually did laugh at loud at that moment. I mean, it really is terribly bad of them, but it was pretty funny. Not sure Superman would be thrilled, though!

TEHANI: And can I just add how absolutely adorkable the last scene between the sisters was? I was in fits of giggles watching it.

Kara: …I will melt your face.

Alex: I hope you get fat.

Kara: Not on THIS planet…

SG ep3cPreviously, in “Squeeing over Supergirl”…

Episode 1, “Pilot”

Episode 2, “Stronger Together”

 

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Social media addiction: do I have it?

I read yet another article today about social media (internet) addiction and how awful and terrible and bad we all are, how neglectful of our children, so disconnected from reality because we are so connected online. And as usual, I read the article and though, huh, well, yes, I probably am a bit addicted to social media. I like being able to check my email whenever I want to and do so regularly throughout the day. I also flick frequently onto Facebook and Twitter, and scroll about on other social networks as the mood (or links) take me. And yes, I do usually have my phone or laptop in front of me when I’m hanging out with my kids or friends, so maybe I am addicted. Oh woe! How horrible must I be…?

And yet…

Believe it or not, I remember life before Facebook, before Twitter, before smartphones, even before email. Heck, before INTERNET. And funnily enough, from my perspective now, I think I was less engaged in so many ways. I would spend hours with my nose in a book, or watching television. I knew less about everything, though I thought I knew more. My friendship group was smaller, and far less diverse, than it is now.

Do we really think that smartphones and social media make us less engaged? What rubbish. I’ve never been so in touch with what’s going on in the world, and so in touch with so many people from so many places, backgrounds, lifestyles and experiences. Being connected makes me a better person. And I can guarantee you that in a world before the ever-present smartphone in my hand, there was a book in its place and I was no more aware of the world around me than I am now (and yes, the book is still there too, usually on my phone…).

I reckon it’s time to stop feeling guilty about the hours we spend online, hanging out with friends on social media, learning about the world from the different perspectives we never had access to before, ENGAGING as we never did before. We create, we communicate, we collaborate and we connect. It’s brilliant. Embrace it.

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