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Nightmares and Daydreams | Avatar Wiki | Fandom02.07.21

"It's the nightmares. They just get worse and worse!" Aang to Team Avatar.

"Nightmares and Daydreams"Original air dateOctober 26, 2007 (UK)[1][2]November 16, 2007 (United States)Transcript"Nightmares and Daydreams" is the ninth episode of Book Three: Fire of Avatar: The Last Airbender and the 49th of the overall series. It debuted on November 16, 2007.

The invasion is four days away, and Aang begins to feel nervous about confronting the Fire Lord. Feeling that he is unprepared, he trains constantly and his anxiety causes him a string of nightmares, whereas his lack of sleep results in mad daydreams. After three straight days, it takes the collaboration of Sokka, Toph, and Katara to get him to finally sleep and feel confident about facing the Fire Lord. Meanwhile, Zuko learns about an upcoming war meeting. However, what he learns leaves him uncertain of what he must do.

The gang arrives ahead of schedule at the Black Cliffs, the intended meeting place for the invasion force. Aang is stressed about the invasion being only four days away and that night he has a nightmare, in which he comes face to face with Fire Lord Ozai, only to be told by him that he forgot to wear his pants. Meanwhile, Prince Zuko is enjoying his life of royalty and making the most of it while his relationship with Mai is going well.

A dark-haired Aang finds himself without pants in one of his nightmares.

After staying awake training for the past twenty-four hours, Aang tries to get some sleep, only to have another nightmare; this time he forgets to study for a math test administered by Ozai. He wakes up and starts walking around some koala sheep; Katara also gets up and asks him to try to get some sleep. As this happens, Mai tells Zuko that there is a war meeting coming up to which he says that he was not invited, leading him to think that his father does not want him there.

Aang has another nightmare in which Ozai tells him that he has overslept and missed the invasion, riding atop a flying, fire-breathing hippo cow no less. As he wakes up, he starts going crazy from the lack of sleep, and says that he is unraveling. Katara, Toph and Sokka all try to help Aang using different methods. Katara tries yoga in an artificial hot spring, and when she asks how he feels, he says that he feels hot, as if he is in the Fire Lord's palace and Ozai is shooting fireballs at him, making him panic. Katara says that maybe he should talk his problems out. Sokka dons his beard and mustache from "The Headband" and tries to be a psychiatrist, talking to Aang about his feelings on confronting Ozai. When Aang simply asks how to calm himself, Sokka suggests that he should scream into a koala sheep, which he says is a pillow. This does not make Aang feel better. Meanwhile, Zuko confronts Azula, who is, at the moment, getting her hair done, about the war meeting, asking why she got invited and he did not. She says that he did not get an invitation because it is obvious he is supposed to be there, and goes on to tell him to stop acting like a paranoid child and go to the meeting. He says he will not go.

Next, Toph tries her method on Aang, giving him a brutal massage using log-shaped pieces of earth and earthbending to create hard vibrations. When this fails, she offers acupuncture with a boar-q-pine. Aang, petrified of the idea, runs away screaming.

Aang kisses Katara in a hallucination.

That night, the gang asks Aang if he is okay, to which Aang answers that he may feel a bit better. They all go to sleep, but the Avatar has another, much more frightening nightmare, this time a jumbled montage which consists of snap images that express Aang's fear and stress over the upcoming battle. He wakes up and, because of the stress, he decides not to sleep until after the invasion. The next day, Aang, now very tired from lack of sleep, daydreams about professing his love for Katara, and passionately kissing her, calling her his "forever girl". After he snaps out of the illusion, he lies to her about it afterward, saying that he was daydreaming of what it is like living underwater. He spars against the noodle Ozai he made in "The Headband" and begins to hallucinate.

Meanwhile, Zuko is told by a servant that everyone is waiting for him at the meeting, and he realizes that his father does want him there. Aang, on the other hand, is not doing so great, and as he tries to train, he starts hearing Momo and Appa talk. He hallucinates them fighting samurai-style, as koala sheep cheer them on, and also sees a six-armed Guru Pathik floating on a cloud with two bowls of onion and banana juice, singing about chakras, as well as rocks surrounding him and forming columns.

After the meeting, Zuko tells Mai that his father treated him like his right-hand man. However, he confesses that although he acted like the perfect prince, he was not being himself.

Katara, Sokka, and Toph succeed in encouraging Aang to go to sleep.

Aang, now completely exhausted, wanders around the campsite and stumbles across what he takes to be a bed of clouds. He immediately dismisses it as another hallucination. His friends inform him that it is a bed of koala sheep wool which is indeed real and they spent hours working on it, so he could sleep.

Aang continues to insist he is not ready, but Katara and the rest of the gang encourage him, with Katara saying that he has been training for this since the day they met, and that he is ready. Aang finally calms down and falls asleep. He has one last dream in which he appears before the Fire Lord. Ozai says that he forgot his pants, but Aang merely smiles and says that it is in fact the Fire Lord who has forgotten his pants. Ozai covers himself, embarrassed that his "royal parts are showing". Aang, with his nerves gone, can now rest for the upcoming invasion.

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Capitol Riots: ‘Antifa tattoo’ is actually a Dishonored symbol02.07.21

Confusion and unrest ran deep in the United States Capitol today as right-wing rioters descended upon the building in a futile effort to overturn a fair election that has been repeatedly held up to scrutiny and warded off unfound claims of fraud.One of those elements of confusion in the Capitol riots surrounded a tattoo on one of the participants, as some falsely said it was a mark of Antifa, a protest movement dedicated to stopping fascism and fascist government takeovers.

However, despite this conspiracy gaining steam among those trying to justify the rioters, the tattoo was instead a Mark of the Outsider a symbol prominently featured in theDishonoredvideo game series,whichwould be immediately familiar to those who have played Arkane Studios stealth franchise. This isnt the only time video games and the riots mixed in a confusing way, as players have recently started revisiting the Modern Warfare 2 levels that took place in D.C.

https://twitter.com/Harvey1966/status/1346931748282765313

This conspiracy started when Florida Senator Marco Rubio tweeted about the riots, and another user without a drop of irony or self-awareness falsely replied saying the people draped in Donald Trump shirts, flags, and hats breaking into the Capitol and trying to overthrow a fairly elected government were antifascists.

One of the photos attached to her two-word reply zooms in on a tattoo decorated on one of the rioters hands; a sign she signaled, without any evidence to draw from, was from Antifa.

However, as many Dishonored fans will know, it is the Outsiders Mark that protagonist Corvo also has on his left hand. Harvey Smith, creative director on all three Dishonored titles, cheekily pointed this out on Twitter in his reply to the picture.

Corvo is branded with this sign on his left hand in the first game as he gets his otherworldly powers from the Outsider in order to take down those who corruptly try to seize power. Such a motive is antifascist in nature, but not a sign of Antifa. Corvo never tried to stop democratically elected officials from taking office, but only the power-hungry individuals who lied, cheated, and abused others to unfairly climb to the top.

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500 Best Tattoo Designs For Men That Can Change Trend02.07.21

Here a quiet bigdesign can be drawn.

Symmetricalpictureslook very beautiful!

The choice ofsketches is wide here

and gives you freedom of choice with no restrictions.

is thebest spot for hugedesigns,

like dragons,

ancient themes,

and even a whole picture.

especially attractive

for those who have big triceps or deltoids.

The inner side of the hand is a bit more sensitive

butlettersand quoteslook especially cute here.

Hands down is thebestplace for ink.

and ancientsketches are usually put on the legs

and calves.

It gives a masculine look to the owner,

plus calves are less painful than other parts of the body.

look absolutely fantastic

and can be anything from letters or quotes up to

complicatedsketches andphotos.

In a few dozens of years your six pack will turn into a beer belly

and your excool tattoo will turn into chaos under the belly.

If you decided to get a tattoo on the ribs, you should be aware that the process is going to be extremely painful and healing will last for 1-2 months. It depends on the size, complexity of thepicture and physical peculiarities of your body.

Placement is one of the most important things to determine for the tattoo. Thedesigncan beunique, creative and really attractive, but if it is not scaled to the body, it wont work out the way you want. The question is: Are you getting a tattoo for itsdesignor just to fill the empty spot on your body?. The most important thing to remember is that a tattoo should complement your body, be a part of it, and look natural.

A tattooed man should look like a man whom you cant imagine to be without a tattoo.

The question ofpainis the most common when it comes to tattoos. Sad to admit, but tattoos do hurt. The level ofpaindepends on the individuals and on the location of the picture.Painthreshold of every person is so different, that this question is hard to be answered. But there are parts where tattoos are less painful:

More or less handleable:

And now the worst parts:

The most painful parts are those where skin is the thinnest and needle is close to the bone. Dont forget that alcohol is not thebestway to release stress, because it widens the vessels and may lead to high blood pressure. As a result, you can start bleeding when the needle is inside. So, if you decided to put a sketchon your body, be a little bit patient. To answer the question, whether a tattoo hurts, the answer is yes and no. The feeling of a needle crashing your skin is not the most pleasant thing you ever felt, but if you definitely decided you want a tattoo, it wont be an excuse.

The idea to get a tattoo sometimes comes unconsciously and is not well thought through. It happens, that a tattoo comes out not the way you expected it to be or the location is not thebestand your boss gives you a hard time instead of a promotion. No matter what the reason, you need to remove a tattoo, the question you face is how? Here are the modern ways to helpmenin such situations:

Many of us dream about getting a tattoo when we are young, but sometimes what fits a youngboy doesnt really look good for a matureman. There are ways to remove no longer wanted tattoos, but you should be prepared for the outcome.

The variety ofideasfor mens tattoo are so rich, that you can spend weeks in search of your perfect tattoo. The choice of adesignis very complicated and the true meaning of the picture will be open only for the owner. If you didnt make up your mind yet whichsketchto choose, you can always look through thephotosin the saloons to choose one fitting exactly you. Though, there are few commonly usedideasformens tattoos:

The content can be different, but in most cases,

Polynesian tattoos, Japanese or fantasy. Arms can be of one color

or many. They can combinelettersand mix fewpictures.

deserved and only then it could be drawn. Nowadays there are different kinds and variations of Polynesian tattoos.

They should be differed from traditional ones.

tattoodesigns, which contain pictures of mechanical creatures imitating actions or other states.

Many biomechanical tattoos take pictures from comic books.

It is a commondesign for sailors, who spend most of their time at sea, for people who love the sea and those who live next to it.

An anchor is also a symbol of early Christianity.

Many people with such tattoos have a connection between their lives and ship life. A woman and a ship are two non matchable things. A ship is often depicted as a symbol of destiny.

For some cultures it has a positive meaning, for the others, evil.

A man with such a tattoo wants to show his power and leader qualities.

Usually there are initials next to it, the letters of a persons name who was dearest to a man.

They are usually performed in the army. If a man took part in a war, or actions the stinger is raised up, if he just served in the army, the stinger is curved down.

Japanese, Chinese, Latin or another language.

Hieroglyphics used to be extremely popular and are often seen now.

These categories belong more to male tattoos rather thanfemale. No matter what kind of tattoo you choose, it should be meaningful only to you.

There arephotosandsketches not recommended formen. And not because they are notcool, just some of them look kind of strange:

or other heroes

turnsmen intosmallboysfond of childish comics.

art or a fan of Elvis Presley,

putting the photo of a favorite star on the body means you are making a gallery, which will distract attention from your personality.

Moreover, we all know the statistics of break ups and divorces.

How are you going to explain to your new passion a sign of an ex on your body? It doesnt lookcool at all.

The eternal question that bothers all the tattoo owners and not only. It is not going to be very pleasant to see your tattoos as messy pictures, the skin will no longer be beautiful and tense. But this change is going to happen with everybody, doesnt matter if they have a tattoo or no.

On the one hand, the picture on the body can even have an advantage: to cover the flaws of skin when you get old. At least some part of your body will look younger and accurate. It is up to every man to choose to get a tattoo or not. People who judge and bring this well-known argument about the look of tattoos in 30 years dont take into account one thing.

How many times have you heard from people with tattoos complain about the others clean bodied, who dont have any? They dont careso why does this question bother people who dont have a tattoo?

How are you going to look with a tattoo in 50-60 years? The same way as other people, just with a tattoo!

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The Mandalorian Reveals the Tragic Meaning of Cara Dune’s …02.07.21

The Mandalorian Season 2 finale provides some background to Cara Dune's mysterious teardrop tattoo, and it's tragic.

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for The Mandalorian, "Chapter 16: The Rescue," streaming now on Disney+.

The Season 2 finale ofThe Mandalorian contained a planet's worth of shocking reveals, one of which connects back to the tattoo below Cara Dune's eye tattoo. "The Rescue" opens with Din Djarin and his motley crew -- including Dune -- boarding a Lambda-class shuttleto capture and interrogate Dr. Pershing, who is the key to finding out information about what is being done to Grogu. As they come aboard, a pilot holds Pershing as blaster-point, warning Dune, "Stay back, Dropper."

"Dropper," of course, is referring to the tattoo right under Dune's eye, something that has been a mystery since the character'sintroduction in Season 1.Dune displays the mark of the Rebel Alliance on her arm, harkening back to her former days as a shock trooper, but as the pilot reveals, her other tattoo has a much more tragic backstory.

RELATED:How The Mandalorian Sets Up Season 3

"This is a top-tier target of the New Republic," the pilot continues. "This is a Clone engineer. And if they find out hes dead because of you, youre gonna wish you never left Alderaan. I saw the tear." Evidently, the tear tattoo is a callout to Dune's home planet of Alderaan. The planet is most well-known for its appearance in Episode IV: A New Hope, being Leia Organa's adopted home planet. Unfortunately, Alderaan met its end when the Death Star's laser was tested.

The fact that Dune is Alderaanian is nothing new. Her origin was revealed in last season's finale "Redemption," allowing fans to see her in a whole new light. Her support for the former Rebels had a rationale, as she was eager to take revenge on those who destroyed her friends and family in an instant. The tattoo shows her continued remembrance of that tragedy, being permanently inked on her skin.The teardrop tattoo has prominence in the real-world as well, being a way to can symbolize the loss of a friend or family member. In this case, Dune is memorializing the millions of souls lost in the destruction of Alderaan.

RELATED: Mandalorian Finale Reveals Secret Star Wars Project for 2021

The reveal of Dune's teardrop tattoo continues to slowly, yet importantly, fill in the backstory of the enigmatic character. It's unknown what her involvement onThe Mandalorian will be moving forward, given her new position as marshal for the New Republic and the development of the upcoming Rangers of the New Republic, but it wouldn't come as a shockif Star Wars dives deeper into theformer shock trooper's time on Alderaan.

Created by Jon Favreau, The Mandalorian stars Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, Carl Weathers and Giancarlo Esposito. Season 2 is now streaming on Disney+.

KEEP READING:Pedro Pascal Calls Baby Yoda One of His Best Acting Partners Ever

Transformers: Why Megatron Turned Evil Is Absolutely Tragic

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Chrissy Teigen Just Got The Sexiest John Legend-Inspired …02.07.21

John Legend wrote a song about Chrissy Teigen, and his wife just returned the gesture by getting the name of the track, Ooh Laa, inked on her body forever. For the meaningful body art, the model made an appointment with top Hollywood tattoo artist Winter Stone, who penned a delicate cursive inscription of the title down the Teigens spine.

Stone then posted a photo of his work on Instagram, showing Teigen with her hair pulled back showing off her new ink. What a blessing to honor Chrissy with this ooh laa tattoo down her spine, Stone wrote in the caption. John wrote this sexy song for her, so naturally she should have it tattooed on her right?

Teigen herself also shared a behind-the-scenes video on IGTV, showing fans the entire tattoo process in 2 minutes and 54 seconds with Legends Ooh La playing in the background. The clip shows Winter stenciling the design, and then using a tattoo gun to ink it on Teigens back.

Almost more than the tattoo itself, fans in the comment section are loving the meaningful tribute and the fact that Legend was actively involved, holding his wifes hand the whole time.

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Is ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ Scripted? Gordon Ramsay’s Show …02.07.21

Though reality television shows claims to depict real-life situations and follow everyday individuals, not every series is as authentic as it claims to be. Yes, reality TV shows typically come equipped with writers, producers, and storylines that the creators look to capitalize on to make it more entertaining for viewers.

In 2007, the British chef ventured across the pond in a new reality TV show, which showed the outspoken cook helping struggling restaurants across America. Gordon and his team would retrain the staff members, remodel the business, and help the owners take back their eatery.

One of the biggest highlights of the show was when the chef would butt heads with staff members and fight with stubborn owners. However, was it real... or fake?

According to Reddit user @mikethewalrus who attended a "before" service of the New Orleans-based restaurant (Oceana Grill), "very little was staged."

He continued: "I was expecting there to be a larger production team in there, but it was mostly ceiling-mounted cameras and 2 small camera crews, who were non-invasive. We were told to call the producer over if we wanted to send anything back, but were otherwise left to our meals."

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The commenter wrote that he did not witness actors being used, adding, "Everything that I witnessed was the real deal & was shown on the show, including him shutting down the kitchen mid-dinner service."

The Reddit user also claimed that people were charged for the meals and it was not comped by production.

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"The meal wasn't that great, but wasn't the worst I've had. ... The worst part was that we had to pay for it," the person wrote. Though the dinner service was shut down, the patron claimed that he/she tried to get the meal for free, but the waiter only gave the group a round of free drinks.

Adding, "The scene where Ramsay shuts down the dinner service literally happened right in front of me. It was intense."

An editor for Medium.com opened up about having his dining experience filmed for a 2013 episode of Kitchen Nightmares. "There were cameras everywhere capturing everything. With this being reality television, I knew there would be, but not sure about how natural it would feel. It was quite unnatural," Greg Taylor wrote.

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Though, the writer noted that what happened on the show was not fabricated. He recalled: "This behavior that you see (or will see) on the show is 100% true to form and not doctored for TV."

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In 2018, it was reported (via Mashed.com) that only 15 restaurants out of 77 that Gordon "fixed" on his TV series were still open.

"You don't ask to take part in a show called Kitchen Nightmares if your restaurant business is booming and therefore it is not surprising that many of the restaurants which Gordon has visited over the ten years are now closed," a spokesperson for the chef told The Daily Mail in 2014 after the show ended.

Well, it seems like some problems just can't be fixed.

In a 2017 interview with The New York Daily News, Gordon stated that he ended the hit series after seven seasons because he was facing a lot of backlash after restaurants he fixed kept closing.

He explained, "I woke up one morning and I thought 'f--k it, I'm done.'"

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No way forward, no way back: the nightmare of migrants trapped in Bosnia – Yahoo News Canada02.07.21

CBC

Two Canadian government scientists escorted from the National Microbiology Laboratory amidst an RCMP investigation and internal review have been let go from the Public Health Agency of Canada, CBC News has learned. "The two scientists are no longer employed by the Public Health Agency of Canada as of Jan. 20, 2021," Eric Morrissette, chief of media relations for Health Canada and PHAC, confirmed in an email late Friday. "We cannot disclose additional information, nor comment further, for reasons of confidentiality." Sources say members of the lab's special pathogens unit were called to a meeting on Thursday and told that Dr. Xiangguo Qiu and her husband, Keding Cheng, will not be returning to work. They were not given an explanation. Cheng, Qiu and her students from China were removed from Canada's only Level 4 lab in July 2019 over what was described as a possible "policy breach" and administrative matter. The Public Health Agency of Canada had asked the RCMP in Manitoba to get involved several months earlier. A Level 4 virology facility is a lab equipped to work with the most serious and deadly human and animal diseases. That makes the Winnipeg lab one of only a handful in North America capable of handling pathogens requiring the highest level of containment, such as Ebola. As recently as December, the RCMP said the investigation was ongoing but that there is no threat to public safety. Sources say the couple have been off work with pay, living in Winnipeg, but PHAC has never confirmed that, citing confidentiality. Developed Ebola treatment Qiu is a medical doctor and virologist from Tianjin, China, who came to Canada for graduate studies in 1996. She is still affiliated with the university there and has brought in many students over the years to help with her work. She helped develop ZMapp, a treatment for the deadly Ebola virus, which killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa between 2014 and 2016. She was head of the Vaccine Development and Antiviral Therapies Section in the Special Pathogens Program at the Winnipeg-based lab. Her husband is a biologist who has published research papers on HIV infections, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), E. coli infections and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Last year, documents obtained by CBC News through an access to information request found that Qiu was responsible for a shipment of Ebola and Henipah viruses to the Wuhan Institute of Virology four months before she and her husband were escorted from the NML. At the time, PHAC said the shipment and Qiu's eviction from the lab were not connected. "The administrative investigation is not related to the shipment of virus samples to China," Morrissette wrote in an email last June. "In response to a request from the Wuhan Institute of Virology for viral samples of Ebola and Henipah viruses, the Public Health Agency of Canada sent samples for the purpose of scientific research in 2019." No connection to COVID-19 The RCMP and PHAC have consistently denied any connections between the COVID-19 pandemic and the virus shipments. There is no evidence linking the shipment to the spread of the coronavirus. Ebola is a filovirus and Henipah is a paramyxovirus no coronavirus samples were sent. Qiu also made at least five trips to China in 2017-18, including one to train scientists and technicians at China's newly certified Level 4 lab, which does research with the most deadly pathogens, according to travel documents obtained by CBC News in October 2019. Despite RCMP and PHAC denial of connections, there have been conspiracy theories stating otherwise. One medical expert says we need more transparency on the issue. Canadians have the right to know more, said Amir Attaran, a professor in the faculty of law and School of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Ottawa. "This adds to the appearance that NML staff acted improperly, and perhaps illegally, when they exported Canada's collection of Ebola virus to a lab in Wuhan, China, totally without any scientific justification that NML cares to offer," Attaran said. "It is a deeply suspicious transaction that deserves powerful, but not politicized, parliamentary scrutiny when it comes to an extremely lethal virus." The former head of the NML, Matthew Gilmour, left last July to work for the U.K.-based Quadram Institute Bioscience. His medical adviser, Dr. Guillaume Poliquin, took over until a permanent replacement can be found.

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The Role of Violence in the American Literary Canon – Fordham Observer02.07.21

American Psycho, Blood Meridian and the surprising benefits of graphic content

In his controversial book Clash of Civilizations, late former White House Coordinator of Security Planning Samuel Phillips Huntington wrote, The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. He continued, Westerners often forget this fact.

Americas development is indebted as much to the firearms of Hotchkiss and Colt as to the policy of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. We owe our history as much to the smallpox virus as to the Declaration of Independence. American independence was not achieved through peaceful protest, but with what would now be considered terrorism.

Violence in America is part of our history and identity. Today, Americans own more guns than anyone else, while producing the highest number of serial killers globally.

What we see in books like Psycho and Meridian resonates with the realities of 2020 and the emerging events of 2021.

Americans have a special relationship with violence, and violence occupies a special place in American literature. Perhaps the most violent novel written to date is American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, a book listed at #6 on the Goodreads list of the most violent books ever written.

All other books in the lists top 10 were written by extreme horror author Wade H. Garrett. Garrett is not a gifted writer but his monopolization of the Goodreads list is only broken by American Psycho and Cormac McCarthys Blood Meridian, which are both formidable American classics.

Unlike Garretts pretentious and juvenile ultra-horror, Blood Meridian is based on historical events, documenting the massacre of Indigenous Americans who stood between settlers and western goldfields.

American Psycho is similarly nestled within the physical and social realities of 1980s Wall Street. The soulless antihero of Patrick Bateman embodies what an American corporation might have looked like if it were human: ruthless, vain, prideful and insecure.

While American Psycho occurs in a moral desert, Blood Meridian occurs in a literal one. The unforgiving landscape of Meridian displays the inherent brutality of nature itself a sort of warfare predating and underpinning all humanity. As it is explained in Meridian, war lay waiting for man the ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner.

In a review of Blood Meridian, literary critic Harold Bloom said, The sheer carnage of it, though it is intensely stylized, is nevertheless overwhelming. Its shocking. Its horrifying but if you break through it, if you read your way into the cosmos of the book, then you are rewarded you get a frightening vision of what is indeed something very deeply embedded in the American spirit.

Similarly, what makes the violence of Psycho redeemable is the power of its vision: a world of faceless yuppies with interchangeable suits, haircuts and names, so concerned with appearance and wealth that all moral concern and human substance recede as if into an abyss.

Reading Psycho is like listening to death metal through a Walkman while doing aerobic gymnastics. Its like seeing Nietzsche dressed in a neon bodysuit dancing to Madonna while cheerfully declaring God is dead.

Upon the Technicolor canvas of the 1980s, Ellis paints a world of unrelenting economic expansion, a place where moral humanity is sucked into the flames of an ever-expanding capitalist garbage fire.

In Ellis vision, mergers and acquisitions become interchangeable with murders and executions. Within the gilded cage of Ellis modern nightmare, Bateman is the most dangerous animal at the Armani zoo.

But literary violence isnt only about entertainment. What we see in books like Psycho and Meridian resonates with the realities of 2020 and the emerging events of 2021.

According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, 2020 saw over 19,000 people killed by firearms, the highest fatality rate in more than 20 years. Time magazine declared that 2020 Will End as One of Americas Most Violent Years in Decades. A report from the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice found that homicides rose by 36% across 28 major U.S. cities between June and October 2020. Every year since 2017 represented a spike more than double the previous average for school shootings.

The video of George Floyd being casually murdered sparked protests that occasionally erupted into violent upheaval. No sooner had the outrage begun to subside than the Capitol was besieged. Irreverence and force have never been far from American hearts.

A long time ago, in a neighborhood not far from Fordhams Lincoln Center campus, a mob assembled in lower Manhattan. It was July 9, 1776, when the crowd tore down a government-installed statue of King George III.

They didnt stop there. They melted George into ammunition.

When the British government responded with troops, they were met with melted majesty their beloved king had become musket balls.

Reading provides a pathway to extremes of human behavior that doesnt sacrifice personal safety.

A quote often attributed to Thomas Jefferson states, When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty. But there is no evidence Jefferson ever actually said or wrote these words.

The violence in American literature and culture might help explain why this fictional quote is so widely embraced. Violence is etched into the stones of American history. Its a tattoo upon our national flesh that has never really begun to fade.

When you read violence, youre placing your fingers more firmly against the pulse of this country and, indeed, the world. Horror may be an appropriate reaction to violence, but it is rarely useful. Critical reading subverts horror reactions, replacing them with deeper meditations.

An hour of reading can unlock decades. Importantly, reading provides a pathway to extremes of human behavior that doesnt sacrifice personal safety.

If you can develop an understanding of monsters like Patrick Bateman of American Psycho or Judge Holden of Blood Meridian, you might find yourself more perceptive when it comes to the motivations of your fellow citizens. Monsters, after all, are most compelling when they are human.

The word violence comes from the Latin word for vehemence and, in the hands of a competent author, violence can be where we can find our own neglected passions and forgotten feelings.

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Adoption has been a journey from ignorance to enlightenment – The Guardian02.07.21

I assumed I would conceive naturally when John and I decided to start a family. I didnt. We turned to fertility drugs with ambivalence. Reports of the mood swings the drugs sometimes caused worried me. I had only gone through one round when I broke a wooden dish-drying rack over Johns head. I dont remember what he said, but Im sure it was something Id otherwise have considered innocuous. Instead, a growling, uncontrollable rage emerged from nowhere and then overcame me like an emotional tsunami. We decided the drugs werent for us.

I had gone along with fertility treatments for the same reason I went along with other non-decisions Ive made in my life, like having an enormous wedding, because people whom I loved wanted it for me. I thought I was supposed to want it, just like I was supposed to want to get pregnant by any means. Yet I cried genuine tears when, month after month, I was unable to conceive. I felt like a failure.

My friend Lisa, a scholar of the Bible, sat with me once as I confessed that another fertility treatment had failed to take. This is your pain, she said. You must bear witness.

Her words gripped me physically. I stopped crying. I was erect, alert and full of purpose. From that moment, I paid attention to the more important presence in my insides: not the drugs but the little door in my heart that had always been closed to them. Behind that door was my truest self and she didnt want to conceive that badly.

Not long ago, I read an interview with a famous actress who adopted two children. When the subject of pregnancy came up, the actress said something like, It didnt interest me. It wasnt that pregnancy didnt interest me at all; it just didnt interest me enough.

Adoption, however, came naturally. One day I woke up and I knew. It hit me like a revelation. We were going to adopt, I told John, and then Lisa. We were going to adopt from Ethiopia. There is a notable Ethiopian-born population in Vermont, where we live, and a substantial number of them are adopted children. But to me the decision felt less practical than magical. Im the kind of person who typically questions her instincts. In this case, I did not.

Sometimes people assume my husband and I adopted for altruistic purposes. In truth, we adopted for the same reason that people pursue natural birth, because it was what we wanted. As it turns out, I am selfish. Adopting my daughters is the most self-centred thing I have ever done. It is the one decision I have made in my life that represents who I truly am; the only choice that aligns most squarely with my deepest and most fundamental belief about life on Earth that we are here to see one another through this journey. We are here to keep our brothers. Our sisters, too.

Once we decided to adopt, signs seemed to spring up everywhere. I was sitting in a waiting room and opened a magazine at an article written by a woman who had adopted as a last resort and then conceived a second child naturally. Her greatest fear about adoption, she wrote, had been that she would not be able to bond with her child as intensely and authentically as a natural mother, that the bond between herself and her daughter would be, at best, only an approximation of that natural bond, or, at worst, simply counterfeit.

She discovered that they were different, her relationships with each of her two children, but the most fundamental difference between being the mother of an adopted child and being the mother of a biological child, she said, was that she was able to take public pleasure in the beauty of the child she had adopted. When strangers said of her adopted child, What a beautiful baby! she could respond without hesitation, Yes, she is, isnt she? But when strangers exclaimed over her biological child, she fumbled for a response. To agree, she explained, felt like vanity.

I hold her story in my heart.

I was on the phone waiting for a picture I had forwarded to my friend Iris to open on her computer screen. I knew the picture intimately. It featured two brown babies with enormous eyes. One of them was in tears; the other looked like she was trying not to laugh. Both of them were wearing crocheted yellow caps that made me think of the 1940s swimming champion and actress Esther Williams.

Before we heard about the girls, John and I had never considered the possibility of twins. As the picture opened slowly on Iriss screen, she and I discussed this unexpected factor and all of the challenges it would present. When it finally opened, Iris went quiet. Then she said, Oh, you are fucked.

We were, indeed, happily fucked. There was no turning back. But what we assumed would be a straight line from us to the babies in the picture turned out to have close shaves and hair-raising detours. At one point, it looked like the adoption would fall through. John and I were in Ethiopia at the time. A government official told us to prepare ourselves for the worst. That night John and I held each other and sobbed. I was more terrified that night than I have ever been in my life; the anguish seemed to have no bottom to it. I thought of the babies in the picture, the perfect roundness of their eyes, the delicate curve of their feet, their dark, miniature hands. They will have no memory of me, I thought, but I will remember them forever. The next morning we soberly considered other options, like going for another round of drugs. Later I joked I might be the only woman on Earth to pursue pregnancy because I couldnt adopt.

We hardly slept for the next seven days, keeping our phones close and checking our email almost hourly. Suddenly, the same official emailed to say she had decided to approve the adoption. She didnt explain and we didnt ask why. I am still baffled and awed by the sudden turn around that changed our lives forever. I routinely tell my daughters that they are my miracles, gifts from providence itself, to which they respond with exasperation, Mommy, stop.

After a 24-hour journey, we met Johns mother, sister and her two children at the airport in Boston. They burst into tears as the four of us deplaned. John drove us back to Burlington in the middle of a snowstorm. He was so exhausted that twice he pulled over to do jumping jacks in the snow in order to stay awake. He had no choice. When I took the wheel I nearly ran us off the highway. The girls sat silent and staring in the back, looking like tiny Michelin men in identical padded snowsuits. Eventually they fell asleep. When we finally arrived and put them on our bed, they lay flat as boards. Suddenly, their eyes flew open. They looked at us and then peered around their fur-lined hoods and looked at each other. A feeling of peace seemed to settle between them. It lasted for a second. Then, as if on cue, they commenced to wail in unison until they passed out.

During those dizzying early months, two good friends became pregnant in quick succession. I agreed to host their baby showers. No, I offered. Actually, I insisted. I consulted friends and the internet for baby shower protocol, shopped for the right decorations, ordered cute cakes, all the while asking myself, What are you trying to prove?

At one of the showers, every single guest seemed to be pregnant, too. A woman I hardly knew put a newborn in my arms. Overwhelmed by feelings I didnt understand, I handed the baby back and went into another room to cry in private. What had my daughters looked like at that age? I tried to imagine their one-year-old faces pasted on to newborn bodies and cried some more. I would never know. I hated feeling so vulnerable, but even more than that, I hated that those feelings of vulnerability could be so easily triggered by a stranger. The fact that I had no control over those feelings frustrated me. I cried out of frustration, but also out of shame. I was ashamed of the secret envy I felt as I stood and chatted with women whose stomachs were as big as beach balls. Ive heard adoptive mothers say they wish that they had originated their children. I know that if I had given birth to my daughters they would be wholly different people, and I like them just the way they are. Still, when I stand next to pregnant women, my stomach sometimes feels concave and hollow.

I no longer cry at baby showers, but the feeling of vulnerability, the experience of sudden exposure and, sometimes, the same shameful, secret envy of women who have successfully conceived compose a quiet, even current in my life as an adoptive mother. These feelings exist in the private chambers of my heart. In the very same chambers throbs the electric joy I experience as the mother of my daughters.

I never know how to respond when those negative feelings are triggered. Once, a friend and I stood naked from the waist up as we changed clothes to go to an exercise class. Look at those breasts that never nursed, she said, wistfully. She meant it as a compliment. I was on the phone with the same woman a few weeks later and confided to her my worries about some problems one of my daughters was having in science class. Well, theyre not genetically yours, so at least you know its not your fault, she said. Later, she explained she had meant the comment to reassure me.

Both times I was caught completely by surprise, stunned by how quickly ordinary activities changing clothes, an idle conversation transformed into emotional landmines. I believe she meant no harm, but the effect of her comments was to remind me that I was not a biological mother. I dont need reminders. Even more disturbing was the fact that her comments revealed that she, herself, was constantly, even vigilantly, aware of the fact that I was not a biological mother. Her reminders touched my own quiet fear that my bond with my daughters might be missing something vital; that my maternity is an illusion and a lie.

I have found that another constant in my life as an adoptive mother is that other people often project on to me their essential feelings and beliefs about the mother-child bond. While we were in the process of adopting, one friend wondered aloud if true bonds were even possible between mothers and children who were not biologically related. This same friend confesses that there is little about her own daughter that she finds familiar. Still, to her, to many people, the biological relation blood is supreme.

Several years ago, I told my daughters that I had made contact with their biological cousin.

We already know all of our cousins, Isabella said.

But this cousin is related to you by blood, I explained.

By blood, Giulia wondered. Whats that?

Before I became a mother, I believed in the primacy of blood. Once I even said to one of my closest friends, who had decided to use a surrogate, that I was relieved she had chosen that route instead of adoption, because using a surrogate meant that her children would be really hers.

Today I am embarrassed and amazed, not only that I said those words, but even more that I actually believed them.

For me, adoption has been a journey from ignorance to enlightenment. What I understand now is that the difference between pregnancy and motherhood is something like the difference between having an enormous wedding and being married. But Im not sure I would have found this out otherwise.

When she was six, Isabella went through a phase during which she tried to figure out what to call me. For a while, she settled on stepmother. I felt tender amusement as I witnessed her trying to make sense of the nature of our relationship in her own mind. So far, it is only Isabella who has puzzled over what to call our bond. Not coincidentally, when I deny her something she wants, Isabella is the one to sometimes fling the barb that perhaps all adoptive mothers fear: Youre not my real mother! In one such instance I replied, I am your mother on Earth. And you still cant wear your pyjamas to school.

I am fascinated by the fact my daughters never question the authenticity of their fathers paternity, considering the racial difference between them. Isabella is happiest when she can begin and end her days with John. Daddy, you should get a tattoo of me going like this, she told him years ago, mugging like Shirley Temple. At around the same time, she informed me calmly that it would be most convenient if I died first, so that her daddy could take care of her without my interference. John is the one she goes to when she has a bad dream. You cant comfort me the way Daddy does, she once explained to me gently. Even when John becomes irritated by the chaos that the girls create and leaves the room, Isabella trails behind him, an identical scowl on her face and a stuffed animal under her arm.

No one on Earth wants to be with me as much as Isabella wants to be with you, I sometimes complain to John. He pats my shoulder pityingly, like a prince dispensing coins to a pauper.

My daughters biological mother is dead, but she is an active presence in our lives. Isabella says her birth mother appears in her dreams and sometimes signals her presence by turning the light on and off in their room. She is your mother in heaven, I tell her, and she entrusted you to me. Like a divine priestess, like a holy ghost, I believe she blesses our union.

Adoption is a holy sacrament, said the priest at a ceremony my parents arranged to welcome our daughters into our church family in Nashville. I believe this is true. I have the same feelings about adoption as I do about zebras, in whose astonishing, majestic presence I think, this must be God at work.

When we met the girls maternal grandmother, she said I was her daughter returned to her from the dead. She compared me to Mary, mother of God. I was glad; I felt unworthy. I felt her quiet agony over her daughters death. I looked at my new daughters and realised immediately that I would spend my life trying to reconcile myself to the terrible coincidence that brought about our union, and the fact that my greatest joy was occasioned by someone elses tragedy.

But tragedies happen. People die and the living must take up where the dead left off. This is our duty; this is our joy. A friend once told me that she had never felt more like a woman than when she was pregnant. When the girls were placed in my arms, I had never felt more deeply human.

This is an extract from Black is the Body: Stories from My Mothers Time, My Grandmothers Time, and Mine by Emily Bernard (Doubleday, 14.99)

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Adoption has been a journey from ignorance to enlightenment - The Guardian

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Two giant pandas slide in the snow at the National Zoo – Yahoo Lifestyle02.07.21

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This time of year, the at-home manicure takes care of two birds with one stone: You have a productive 30-minute indoor activity, and the end result is a glossy accessory you can show off on FaceTime or Zoom while working from home, waiting for the snow to thaw.That said, if you're bored of all of your polishes (we're right there with you), it might be time to order a pack of nail-art stickers. Being that it's early February, may we suggest hearts? Not only are the teeny-tiny stickers festive, they're wearable well past the 14th, whenever you're looking for an elevated manicure that could pass for professional even if you don't have any artistic inclinations.Ahead, we scoured the internet to find the best heart-shaped nail stickers and press-ons. Scroll through to find your favorite. At Refinery29, were here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission. Olive & June Heart To Heart StickersThis nail-art kit comes with 36 itty-bitty stickers. Plus, there's a range of heart sizes, colors, and variations, so you can create an entirely new design every time you do your nails.Olive & June Nail Art Kit - Heart to Heart - 36ct, $, available at TargetManiMe Honeymoon Phase ManicureWhat's particularly special about ManiMe is that the label works with Instagram's most-followed nail artists to create custom designs, which are then printed on press-on gels that you can have delivered right to your door, no salon appointment needed. This one was designed by celebrity manicurist Queenie Nguyen as a part of the retailer's XO Capsule collection.ManiMe Honeymoon Phase, $, available at ManiMeLe Mini Macaron "La Touche Finale" Mini Nail StickersIf you're looking to try the trendy heart-tipped French manicure, but would much rather spend $5 on a pack of stickers than attempt painting a heart bow with your non-dominant hand, this is what you need.Le Mini Macaron "La Touche Finale" Mini Nail Stickers - You, Me, Oui, $, available at Le Mini MacaronTattoorary Tiny Gold Heart Nail TattoosEtsy is a great place to shop for fun Valentine's Day supplies, nail-art stickers included.Tattoorary Tiny Gold and Black Hearts Nail Tattoos, $, available at EtsyPreciousKreation Paint My Heart Pink Nail SetYou can also use the small-business marketplace to buy from Black-owned brands. These pink bedazzled press-ons come custom-made by a Los Angeles-based artist, and are durable and reusable so you can style your heart tips all year round.PreciousKreation Paint my heart pink nail set, $, available at EtsyLike what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?L.A.'s Trendiest Nail Brand Just Launched JewelryThis $10 Nail Primer Made My Lazy-Girl Manicure LAPinterest Search For "Indie Nails" Is Up 21%

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Two giant pandas slide in the snow at the National Zoo - Yahoo Lifestyle

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