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Victims of East Village blast continue to regroup3Photos

Victims of East Village blast continue to regroup

East Village residents who lost everything in Thursday's explosion are working toward a normalcy that might not come for a while.  Five days after the explosion at 121 Second Avenue, believed to be caused by a improper gas line, New Yorkers who used to call the row of apartments between East Seventh Street and St. Marks Place home are staying with family and friends, setting up post office boxes and canceling cable subscriptions. Matthew and Nora Brooks, who lost their home at 45 East Seventh Street, were hoping to get close enough to the site Monday to retrieve one particular item of great value: Nora’s cat of 16 years died in the fire. “I need to bury something, I need to have a funeral,” Nora Brooks said.   "Life is going on and New York City is still New York City," Matthew Brooks said. "But everybody has a different reason for hanging around, trying to run errands, tying up loose ends. All those things you don't even really think about you have to deal with now." Many of the blast victims, including the Brooks, have either started or become the benefactors of online fundraisers to help them rebuild their lives. Branden Guy helped start a fundraiser for his mother, Mildred Guy, who lost her home of 46 years, where he grew up and first brought home his now-1-year-old son. "We lost a lot of stuff, it hasn't all sunk in yet. But the most painful thing was all of the pictures, generations of the family, weddings, photos of all the grandchildren," Guy said. "Everything was on those walls. Guy said he wasn't sure how much money to list on the Go Fund Me page, so the family decided on $46,000 at the suggestion of his wife — $1,000 for each year Mildred Guy lived at 45 East Seventh Street. On Monday night, the campaign had reached nearly $20,000.  “I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of strangers,” said Mildred Guy, who has worked as a paraprofessional at The Neighborhood School on East Third Street for the last 20 years. She returned to the neighborhood for the first time since the blast on Monday. A small rolling suitcase, duffel bag and purse contains everything she now owns.  “I tend not to move, I stay put where I am,” Guy said, laughing. “I’m not very adventurous, but I have to be now.”  Local organizations have have also started gathering clothes, toiletries and other supplies for the displaced families. Lilah Mejia, disaster relief coordinator at Good Old Lower East Side, said residents started dropping off donations on Friday — enough to fill a neighboring office space on Avenue B.  Mejia said the organization is now asking people looking to donate goods on their website at goles.org because of the high volume.   Mercedes Sanchez, a parishioner at Church of the Nativity, said about 30 people came through the church on Second Avenue on Sunday, donating clothing and other items. The church is planning to start distributing them today to families in need.  "The neighborhood is supporting each other, thinking of ways contribute and help each other out, making themselves available," Sanchez said. 
 
2015 MLB Power Rankings: Dodgers, Nationals, Cardinals the top 3

2015 MLB Power Rankings: Dodgers, Nationals, Cardinals the top 3

1. Los Angeles Dodgers – After falling in Game 7 of the ALDS to the Cardinals last season, the Dodgers are out for revenge. With a starting rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Grenkie, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy, you’re likely not going to find a better rotation in the game.  2. Washington Nationals – The Nationals already had one of the top young talents in the game in Bryce Harper but Washington went out and had one of the better offseasons in baseball this past winter. With the addition of Max Scherzer, their pitching staff will once again be one of the best in baseball. 3. St. Louis Cardinals – The Cardinals are known for their pitching, led by young stud Michael Wacha, but St. Louis went out and got right fielder Jason Heyward to help bolster its lineup. They will are surely the favorites in the NL Central. 4. Seattle Mariners – The Mariners missed the playoffs by just one game last season, and with additions the organization made there’s a good shot they will end their postseason drought this year. Last year’s home run leader Nelson Cruz should help the Mariners offense become one of the better ones the American League has to offer in 2015. 5. Los Angeles Angels – Los Angeles was one of the best teams in 2014, winning the AL West. There’s no doubt the Angels will be good this season, but how good is the question. The status of slugger Josh Hamilton remains up in the air. 6. San Francisco Giants – The defending World Champs lost their third baseman in Pablo Sandoval to the Red Sox and may not even be their best team in their division. But, with the World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner leading the way, anything can happen. 7. Pittsburgh Pirates – Pittsburgh has had a sudden resurgence in the past few seasons led by center fielder Andrew McCutchen. He will get some help with Korean infielder Jung Ho Kang, who hit 40 homers in Korea last year. 8. Kansas City Royals – There are a lot of question marks with the defending AL champion Royals, and that is why they aren’t even in the top five. Kansas City lost their ace in James Shields, so they will be in search for a new No. 1 starter to lead their rotation to go along with their exceptionally strong bullpen. 9. Detroit Tigers – The Tigers are loaded offensively, as they are always close to, or at the top in baseball in runs, but pitching could be an issue this season. Detroit lost two of their top starters in Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello, so it wouldn’t be a shock to see their pitching and defense dip this season. 10. Toronto Blue Jays – No team made more noise this offeason than the Blue Jays as they added Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson offensively. Toronto has been tabbed by many to win the AL East, which would get them back into the postseason for the first time since 1993. 11. Oakland Athletics – Oakland lost a lot of talent this past offseason, and seems to be going with a new philosophy of younger players with cheaper contracts. Will it be enough to get back to the postseason? 12. Boston Red Sox – The Red Sox could be much higher on this list, but coming off a last place finish last season, they haven’t proven anything yet. The Sox should have one of the better lineups in baseball with the additions of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez. The team’s success will depend on the pitching and how well they can perform. 13. San Diego Padres – Similar to the Red Sox, this team could be ranked higher with all the talent they acquired this offseason, but they haven’t proven anything and they are coming off of a disappointing 2014 season. 14. Baltimore Orioles – Led by Buck Showalter, the Orioles should once again be in the playoff mix this season. The loss of Nelson Cruz will likely affect their offensive production, but they are hopeful their pitching can help pick up some of the slack. 15. Cleveland Indians – The Indians were in the Wild Card hunt for much of last season, and should be able to compete with the Tigers and Royals in the AL Central once again this year, especially with defending AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber. Also with Terry Francona as manager, the team has as good of a chance as any to make a run at the postseason. 16. Miami Marlins – Miami showed a lot of promise last season, especially with their run in the middle of the season. With a healthy Giancarlo Stanton, and not a dominant team in the NL East, the Marlins could be back making a run at the postseason again. 17. Chicago Cubs – Could this be the Cubs year to turn things around? General manager Theo Epstein certainly helped his cause by getting arguably the best free agent pitcher on the market in Jon Lester. The Cubs play the opening game of the season Sunday night. 18. New York Yankees – There are a lot of question marks with the Yankees going into the season. The biggest is the health of their pitching staff and how will Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia hold up. Right now, it’s hard to see the Yankees doing much damage this year. 19. Tampa Bay Rays – Like the Yankees, there are a lot of question marks as well. After losing David Price last season, their starting rotation certainly isn’t as good as it once was. They too have injury concerns in their rotation with Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly having tendinitis. 20. Chicago White Sox – The White Sox had a terrible year last season, but made some moves this past offseason to give them help for 2015. Jeff Samardzija headlines the players they added, but they also added talent in Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche. 21. New York Mets – Although the Mets struggled much of last year, they showed some promise towards the end and are looking to carry some of that momentum into this season. Getting Matt Harvey back in the rotation will certainly help. 22. Texas Rangers – After a major disappointing year in 2014, the Rangers will look to rebound this season. Things won’t be as easy as they could have been as Yu Darvish is out for the year with an elbow injury. 23. Milwaukee Brewers – Milwaukee was one of the best teams in the majors to open the season last year, but slowly dropped in the rankings as the season went on. They will once again need All-Stars Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Gomez to have good years once again. 24. Houston Astros – After a few years at the bottom of the league’s standings, the Astros could be looking at a bit of resurgence this season. After winning the batting title last year, Jose Altuve will once again lead the Astros’ offense. 25. Cincinnati Reds – The Reds struggled for much of last season and didn’t really do much in the offseason to get any better. They still have one of the better pitchers in the league Johnny Cueto, but one pitcher usually isn’t enough to get it done. 26. Minnesota Twins – There isn’t really much to get excited about with the Twins these days. They are hoping new manager Paul Molitor can bring some life to the organization. 27. Atlanta Braves – Atlanta always seems to be at the top of the NL East, but that may not be the case this year, as the rest of the division got much better and the Braves did not. Their offense should once again struggle. 28. Colorado Rockies – There’s no doubt the Rockies can score runs, as they are always at or near the top with runs scored, but they never can have the pitching to even remain competitive. 29. Philadelphia Phillies – The Phillies haven’t made the postseason in three years and the draught looks to continue as the team now looks to rebuild for the future and getting rid of its core players. 30. Arizona Diamondbacks – Arizona had the worst record in the league and they didn’t do much in the offseason to give any real hope that it won’t be the case again this year. So, for that reason they start the year in the last spot.
 

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Geek Girl in Hollywood: A plea for more sensible female costumes

Geek Girl in Hollywood: A plea for more sensible female costumes

This past week we got a brand new costume for Wonder Woman in the comics. This time around she’s wearing pants. Whether or not you like the way it looks, it’s certainly going to be easier to fight in. I’ve been thinking about it since it came out and it’s gotten me into a lot of late-night discussions about female costumes. Before you start typing me that angry tweet, let me say this. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being sexy or looking sexy. I love the Slave Leia costume! She freaking strangles Jabba the Hutt in it! However, Carrie Fisher has stated that it was hard to — ahem, keep things where they were supposed to be in a metal bikini top.  Have you ever tried to do yoga in a bathing suit? Doesn’t work. You know why? It doesn’t hold anything in! Now, I know we’re talking fantasy in movies, TV, video games and comics. I don’t believe that a real person could wield a sword the size of Sigfried’s in the old game “Soul Calibur,” but Ivy’s costume stretches even the most elastic bits of acceptance to the breaking point. (I’m not saying she shouldn’t be drawn that way. I’m saying it’s a fun discussion to have.) Boobs the size of pumpkins cannot stay inside a one-inch piece of fabric, no matter how strong. If they were even really attempting to hold them in, boob physics (yes, I wrote that) would argue that they’d be smooshed in a bit.  Again, this isn’t a “don’t do it that way” piece. However, as I watch shows or read comics, I’ll find myself saying things like, “You can’t fight with a long pony tail! It’s practically a handle for your enemy!” or “No more boob armor! If she fell, her chest would be cut open by the edge of those things! Physics!” “Why would you have a metal bra on to fight but have nothing covering your stomach? You can die from a gut wound! Oh, right. You’re protecting the important bits.”  The reason I say all of this is that it might be interesting for artists and costume designers to consider what takes you out of the story. Or be wiling to admit what is done for artistic reasons vs. what is done for the straight male gaze. If that’s your thing, go for it. If you’re looking to bring in other types of readers or viewers as many studios and comic book companies are, it’s something worth thinking about. A friend of mine said to me recently that lots of male superheroes are drawn in skin-tight outfits that show an unrealistic muscle structure, so it’s not surprising that women are. There is a difference though. They’re drawn that way to look strong. Female characters are drawn in similar outfits to look sexy.  What I’m saying is this: How about we combine the two? And for Pete’s sake, no more fighting in pony tails! Follow Jenna Busch on Twitter @jennabusch and visit her website, Legion of Leia.
 

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