Carmen Maria Machado’s ‘Her Body and Other Parties’ to be adapted into feminist ‘Black Mirror’-style anthology at FX

What’s that? The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t dark enough for you?

After negotiating through what Deadline is calling a “competitive situation,” FX has won the rights to adapt Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties into a televised anthology series. 

And that’s great news for people seeking out their next bout of nightmares.

The feminist short story collection has been described by its publishing house Gray Wolf Press as a collection of “narratives that map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.” 

From horrific re-imaginings of Law & Order: SVU to the disturbing observations of a woman who can hear porn actors’ thoughts, Machado’s tellings have gained a reputation for their unnerving depictions of femininity and fairy tales. 

The source material comes so highly praised that the fledgling FX series—still in pre-production—has been described as “the feminist Black Mirror.” (Notably, Charlie Brooker’s Emmy-winning science fiction series released its most female centric season to critical acclaim just late last year.)  

Machado will produce the project under the direction of industry veteran Gina Welch, who is slated as the series’ EP. Welch previously collaborated on FX’s Bette and Joan with creator Ryan Murphy, who has helmed FX’s mainstay horror anthology, American Horror Story, since its premiere in 2011. (Murphy is not currently expected to contribute to the Her Body adaptation.)

FX has yet to commit to a production timeline for the adaptation. However, if the fall horror premiere pattern continues, then we can likely expect Machado’s nightmarish tales to hit screens in time for a future Halloween binge.

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Writer Of “How To Murder Your Husband” Killed Her Husband Betches

Do you love true crime? We’re launching a true crime podcast called Not Another True Crime Podcast on October 1! Follow @natcpod on Instagram and Twitter for more info. 

I’ve been sitting staring at my laptop for the past 20 minutes trying to figure out how to write this news story in a fresh, clever way, but sometimes a story just writes itself and the best way to tell it is to simply word vomit. So, here goes nothing. A novelist who literally wrote an essay called “How to Murder Your Husband” just got charged with, you guessed it, MURDERING HER HUSBAND.

Nancy Crampton-Brophy, the 68-year-old Oregon woman who deadass has a series of books with muscular dudes on the covers called Wrong Never Felt So Right allegedly killed her husband Daniel, and then threw up a shady Facebook status acting shocked. Come on, Nancy. According to The Oregonian, Daniel was found dead at a kitchen in the Oregon Culinary Institute in June, and she was charged with the murder this week.

Her post reads, “For my facebook friends and family, I have sad news to relate. My husband and best friend, Chef Dan Brophy was killed yesterday morning. For those of you who are close to me and feel this deserved a phone call, you are right, but I’m struggling to make sense of everything right now. There is a candle-light vigil at Oregon Culinary Institute tomorrow, Monday, June 4th at 7 pm. While I appreciate all of your loving responses, I am overwhelmed. Please save phone calls for a few days until I can function.” And there are over a hundred comments being like, “my heart hurts for you, Nancy!” and “So very sorry for your loss.”

Nancy’s essay, “How To Murder Your Husband”, was posted on a WordPress website called See Jane Publish, which has since completely disappeared. It’s basically just like, a rambling of why she’d rather kill her husband than get divorced, and then a few suggestions on how to do it. Homegirl is certain that every one of us is capable of murder, to which I say, okay that’s your opinion, but I have a hard time believing things can be that infuriating in Portland, Oregon on a daily basis. I’ve never been there, but I have watched a lot of episodes of Portlandia, and it seems like there are tons of nice people who wouldn’t murder anybody. Like, deal with the New York City MTA for one week and then talk to me about wanting to commit a capital offense.

“As a romantic suspense writer, I spend a lot of time thinking about murder and, consequently, about police procedure,” Nancy wrote. “After all, if the murder is supposed to set me free, I certainly don’t want to spend any time in jail.”

I just feel like… if you’re going to publish an essay all about your desire to murder your husband, maybe just write it under a pen name? I mean, sh*t, I’m even writing this under a pseudonym. Did she really think the police were that dumb?

I’m not even going to hide the fact that I’m a little salty that normal betches everywhere get ghosted for like, triple texting, and this woman stayed married for eight years after writing about how she’d kill her husband. 

Do you love true crime? We’re launching a true crime podcast called Not Another True Crime Podcast on October 1! Follow @natcpod on Instagram and Twitter for more info. 

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Archaeologists Surprised To Find “Comic Book” Style Murals In Ancient Greco-Roman Tomb

A large Roman-era tomb unearthed in modern-day Jordan in late 2016 has continually astounded international researchers in the time since due to its remarkably well-preserved art and artifacts, which provide a glimpse into the rich tapestry of cultures present in the region nearly 2,000 years ago.

The consortium of expert historians, archaeologists, conservationists, and architects – who have been studying the site since spring 2017 – are especially delighted by one finding in particular.

The walls of the 52-square-meter (560 square feet) subterranean chamber are adorned with murals embellished with accompanying text describing what the painted figures are doing – not unlike an ancient comic strip, according to the researchers.

“These 60 or so texts painted in black, some of which we have already deciphered, have the distinctive feature of being written in the local language of Aramaic, while using Greek letters,” Jean-Baptiste Yon, of the Histoire et Sources des Mondes Antiques, told CNRS News. The combination is rare and will help them better understand the structure and development of Aramaic.   

That’s not the only unusual thing about it though.

“The inscriptions are actually similar to speech bubbles in comic books, because they describe the activities of the characters, who offer explanations of what they are doing (‘I am cutting [stone],’ ‘Alas for me! I am dead!’), which is also extraordinary.”

The clearing of the site of Capitolias, with the assistance of Dionysos and other gods. Depictions of deities interacting with mortals in this way are exceedingly rare in Greco-Roman art. © CNRS HiSoMA.

The tomb was uncovered under the entrance of a school in the town of Bayt Ras, yet in the first century CE, this location hosted the Capitolias, one of the 10 city-states that comprised the Decapolis. Known from historical records to be Roman-ruled but semi-autonomous from the larger empire, these settlements became epicenters of Greek and Roman commerce and expression scattered amidst a landscape of native Semitic cultures.

The chamber comprises of one large room and two funerary rooms, one of which contained a sizable basalt sarcophagus in excellent condition. The abundant paintings, featuring nearly 260 figures in various scenes, are present on three walls of the main chamber and appear to form a narrative that centers upon a tableau of a priest offering a sacrifice to the patron deities of Capitolias and Caesarea Maritima, the provincial capital of Judaea.

To the left of the entrance, one mural depicts gods reclining on beds, feasting on offerings brought by smaller humans while another shows a country landscape dotted with farmers tending to grapevines, gathering fruit, and plowing fields with oxen. Curiously, the next panel shows woodcutters chopping down several types of trees with the help of gods, an exceedingly rare occurrence in Greco-Roman imagery, say the researchers.

On the right wall, a painting shows the building of a stone wall, replete with stonecutters, foremen, laborers, and even several construction accidents. On the ceiling and near the center, there is a more traditional tableau of marine and Nile-based imagery featuring nymphs and symbols of the zodiac.

“Of course other Roman tombs from the Decapolis also offer sumptuous mythological decor, but none of them can hold a candle to this one in terms of iconography,” they shared in a press release sent to IFLScience.

“For all these reasons, the new painted tomb of Bayt Ras is an extraordinary record of religious, political, and social history, as well as an open window on the cultural interactions in a Greek city in the Roman Near East.”

The first results from their ongoing studies will be the presented at the International Conference on the History and Archaeology of Jordan in January 2019.

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A self-driving car could soon deliver your groceries

Bob Woodward visits Trump Tower, January 2017.
Image: drew angerer/Getty Images

There is a great narrative to be written, a first draft of the history of the Trump administration and the long national nightmare it is making us suffer through. Unfortunately, Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward isn’t it. 

Having slogged through Michael Wolff’s gossipy Fire and Fury and Omarosa Manigault-Newman’s self-serving but not very self-aware Unhinged, I had high hopes for Woodward’s book. The legendary Washington Post reporter has dished the goods on five presidents now, famously helping to bring down one.

If anyone could bring us back to Earth and do the full Nixon number on Trump, many thought, it would be Woodward.

Unfortunately, it seems that at this point in his life, Woodward has become more a creature of official Washington, DC than just about anyone in that city. For example, he has a certain starry-eyed reverence for the military; more than one general in Fear is described as “ramrod straight.” 

Vast chapters focus on internal debates over what to do about Afghanistan and Syria, while the chaos of the Muslim travel ban gets nary a mention. If you based your entire knowledge of the Trump era on this, you’d think Stephen Miller was just another staffer rather than the most loathsome kind of Nazi troll. 

And in the most unintentional self-parody, Woodward declares himself skeptical about the Steele dossier on Trump-Russia collusion, which contained the infamous rumor of a pee tape that the Russians are said to be using as “kompromat” against Trump. But his skepticism about a document that has been largely verified is based on … well, himself. Woodward at the time was skeptical about its content, and he quotes his own television appearances from early 2017 at length. 

It’s fair to say his opinion that the Russia thing is overblown has not aged well, so it’s odd to see him trumpet it like this. It’s especially odd to see him quote Trump’s lawyer John Dowd claiming the Trump Tower meeting to get dirt from the Russians on Hillary Clinton; Dowd calls it “opposition research” even if it comes from a foreign government, which it manifestly is not. It is a crime, it should have been reported to the FBI, and it’s odd that Woodward doesn’t push back. 

The benefit of the doubt he gives Trump borders on imbecility. He is apparently shocked when Trump declares in a TV interview with NBC’s Lester Holt that he fired FBI director James Comey because of the whole “Russia thing.” This answer, Woodward declares in passing, “seemed very much at odds with [the reasons given in] his letter to Comey.” 

Gee, Bob, you think? 

Woodward has good sources, but is incredibly credulous about them. You can practically hear the stampede as members of Trump’s inner circle rush towards Woodward to get themselves portrayed in the best light. He repeats conversations as Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, and Senator Lindsay Graham related them. By contrast with interviews elsewhere in the media, they all come out glowing. 

Most shamefully, Woodward leans heavily on accounts of conversations by former Trump staffer Rob Porter. Only in the last 20 pages does he casually mention that Porter resigned after evidence emerged that he beat his wife. 

Much of what emerges from these conversations is as gossipy as anything in Wolff’s book. Only Wolff, a seasoned gossip columnist, knew how to make this stuff interesting. Woodward has committed the cardinal sin of political reporting: He has written a boring narrative.

For example, Woodward tells us that Bannon eventually shed his boisterous appearance at the beginning of the administration, became a team player, and “was 10 times the unifier that Jared and Ivanka were” by the end of his time in power. There’s no justification for this statement; it’s just put out there like some ineffective slam from a B-movie version of Mean Girls. Wolff, come back, all is forgiven.

Similarly, we’re repeatedly told that former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster felt shut out by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who had formed a “team of two” against him. But so what? Who cares? Trump is actively tearing away the fabric of the American republic, and this is what you chose to focus on?

Just about all the shocking news from the book — such as the fact that advisers like Porter would hide trade withdrawal letters from Trump to prevent him from signing them — has already come out. What remains in Fear has the feeling of album filler from a band that knows you’re just buying their latest record for the hit singles. 

As for Trump himself, he really didn’t need to go nuclear on Woodward. He comes out of the book looking relatively good. Sure, he is petulant, foul-mouthed, perpetually insulting, unwilling to learn or to change his decades-old concepts on trade and international alliances. But we already knew that about him. Woodward portrays him as a man constantly trying to do the right thing by his base. 

There’s little mention of the president’s inherent racism, his overt obstruction of justice, or his decades of involvement with Russian organized crime (as detailed in another book out this month, Craig Unger’s superior House of Trump, House of Putin). Woodward does Trump a huge favor: He takes him at his word. He legitimizes him. In these pages, the tantrum-throwing leader is transformed into a president who’s not afraid to break a few eggs in his pursuit of a harsh but pro-America agenda. 

Especially, he legitimizes Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, quoting that speech at length. And again, he does not push back on Trump’s claim that he was “elected to represent Pittsburgh, not Paris.” It would have been the work of a single sentence to add that Pittsburgh’s mayor issued a strong statement of disapproval at that: the city knows we need to address climate change.

Which is not to say we don’t get a negative picture of Trump. In many sections he comes across as a sad, small man, unable to control his impulses, unable to listen, bereft of true friends. 

It’s more that Woodward is a journalist of the old school who insists on a studious and fake neutrality even when the house is in flames. As Winston Churchill once complained about the BBC before World War II, Woodward has reached the point of being “neutral between the firefighter and the fire.” He may have been the right man for Watergate. He is not the right man for Stupid Watergate.

In fact, it’s a good thing Woodward has spent his promotional media blitz telling us that he’s trying to get his readers to wake up and pay attention to the dysfunction at the White House. Because that is not something you’d necessarily get from his book; it’s almost an apology for Trump. 

If this is what passes for the first draft of history, then the only thing we have to fear is Fear itself. 

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