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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the sixth part of Thief of Time, I am a bit lost. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

I can’t quite see the point of this. Yet.

That’s often the case with the way I read things for Mark Reads, and I had to accept a long time ago that the nature of this project meant I was reading books in a rather strange way. That’s especially the case for books without chapters. It’s easier to stop at the end of a chapter to go do something else than in the middle of a scene, and we’ve all artificially broken up the Discworld books to accommodate me, so… it’s going to be weird sometimes. Pratchett doesn’t write things randomly, so I imagine that Lobsang’s training is important to something, but I admit to feeling aimless while reading this.

Am I supposed to? Is Lobsang the stand-in for the reader? Because I also can’t ignore the parallel there. I honestly expected Lu-Tze to skip any sort of introductory lessons and instead focus on teaching Lobsang something more advanced, given that Lobsang already has sensitivities and abilities that most monks don’t. Yet Pratchett toys with us and with Lobsang by having Lu-Tze do exactly the same thing you see in martial arts films where a student is trained in mundane things in order to learn some greater lesson.

Does Lobsang need those lessons? Kind of, I’d say. He’s wildly impatient, and he also has a misguided and misinformed view of Lu-Tze. Lobsang went into this expecting he’d learn some sweet martial arts moves, when that’s not really what Lu-Tze does. But how much of what Lu-Tze says is a joke? His notebook is largely filled with aphorisms that he borrowed or took from Mrs. Cosmopolite, believing that she somehow “knew” what the Book of the Way said. He also traveled to Ankh-Morpork because of the language in an ad. And there’s a part of me that can’t believe that someone as clever and smart as Lu-Tze can be so openly foolish, so is he just toying with Lobsang? For what purpose? Is he teaching some important lesson? If so, he never stops to actually say what it is; instead, the text just moves on to the next thing, like when Lu-Tze takes Lobsang to the dojo to stage a fight.

And how bewildering is that? It’s all meant to be a test to see whether or not Lobsang needs to be taught anymore, but the entire sequence is so confusing. Lu-Tze insists on Lobsang using a sharp sword at first, but then he switches to a dakka stick, and there are Rules, and even though it was made super clear to remember those Rules, I COULDN’T REMEMBER RULE ONE. And then the fight is interrupted and they don’t even take a single swing at each other??? WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THIS BOOK. Something in the Mandala Hall is worth interrupting the test, and perhaps that’s why this felt so jarring. There were so many interruptions that none of the scenarios got any closure, you know? I felt like I was wandering through Lu-Tze’s mind.

Anyway, Jeremy’s construction of the Glass Clock is now starting to affect Lobsang. Unfortunately, the vision he gets passes seconds after it’s over, so Lobsang can’t even remember it to tell Lu-Tze about what happened! NO, THIS IS NOT GOOD. What if he’s hit with another glimpse like this during something important?

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

Prompt for 2017-07-26

Jul. 26th, 2017 12:35 pm
sacredporn: Kris Allen icon made by Sacred Porn (Default)
[personal profile] sacredporn posting in [community profile] dailyprompt
Today's prompt is "heat wave".

FedEx: A Dramatic Tale

Jul. 25th, 2017 06:38 pm
settiai: (Blue Beetle/Booster Gold -- dreadable)
[personal profile] settiai
As I've mentioned in the past, I tend to have trouble whenever I pay FedEx extra for an evening delivery (between 5-8pm). Unfortunately, if I order anything that needs a signature, that's my only option as I'm not home to sign for packages earlier than 5pm. So requesting evening delivery is the only way for me to actually get what I order, since they won't deliver after 5pm unless you pay extra.

Cut to the last week of June. I ordered two packages that were scheduled to be delivered on Thursday, and I paid for evening delivery. As has happened several times in the past, the packages never showed up as being on the truck to be delivered. So around 7pm or so I called customer service and started a paper trail, as well as started livetweeting the whole story on Twitter.

FedEx managed to get in touch with the local facility, who told them the package was out for delivery. The driver just hadn't scanned it when he left. ("Uh-huh," I told the poor customer service rep with more than a little skepticism.) This gets a bit long, but it's honestly a rather amusing story. In retrospect, at least. It wasn't so amusing at the time. )

... and that's why I will never again order from any company that only offers FedEx as a shipping option.
[syndicated profile] who_daily_feed

Posted by psubrat

Do you have a Doctor Who community or a journal that we are not currently linking to? Leave a note in the comments and we'll add you to the who_daily reading list.

EDITOR'S NOTE: who_daily will no longer link fanfiction that does not have a header. For an example of what a "good" fanfic header is, see the user info. Please note, the fic must have a header with the fic, not just in the link post, in order to be added to the newsletter. Thank you.



Off LJ Links
BBC: Christmas Special – Title and Cast News! (SPOILERS)
Doctor Who News: Christmas Details Announced at SDCC (SPOILERS)
Doctor Who News: Red White and Who - The Story of Doctor Who in America
Doctor Who News: Tennant tops "Doctor" eBay listings
Blogtor Who: 'Twice Upon a Time' – Christmas Special Trailer, Title and Cast Details Announced (SPOILERS)
Blogtor Who: PIX – Christmas 2017 – Doctor Who returns with Twice Upon a Time (SPOILERS)
Blogtor Who: Trailer – Doctor Who Returns Xmas with Twice Upon a Time (SPOILERS)
Blogtor Who: Video – BBC America’s Tribute to Peter Capaldi’s Doctor
Blogtor Who: Watch Doctor Who SDCC 2017 Q&A Panel
Blogtor Who: Peter Capaldi Gets Standing Ovation & Gives Speech At Comic Con Panel
Blogtor Who: Exclusive P2 – Doctor Who The Fan Show’s Christel Dee Talks After Show, Cosplay & Interviewing
Blogtor Who: Tennant and Tom Top eBay Doctor Rankings!
Whoogle News: Pearl Mackie confirms that she will not return to Doctor Who (SPOILERS)
Whoogle News: Steven Moffat knew about the Thirteenth Doctor But Didn't Know Who Would Play the Doctor (CASTING SPOILERS)
Whoogle News: Russell T Davies to receive Outstanding Achievement Award at Edinburgh TV Fest
Whoogle News: Whotopia - Issue 31 Cover and Details
Whoogle News: Colin Baker is backing Idris Elba for the Doctor (CASTING SPOILERS)

(News via via blogtorwho, tardisscanner (Whoogle News), og_news, among others.)
(For additional news, please visit: googledw)


Discussion & Miscellany
Christmas Trailer Reaction SPOILERS
locker_monster wants to know if it's Chirstmas yet!
astrogirl2 discusses the trailer for the Christmas special
shannonsequitur wants to talk about the San Diego Comic Con Christmas trailer
elisi posts the trailer - reactions in comments

General
nwhyte gives advice for someone who hasn't seen Doctor Who yet (CASTING SPOILERS)
whoandme reviews The Keys of Marinus/The Aztecs


Communities & Challenges
dwstills: challenge reminder
who_contest: "Wrinkle" Winners


Fanfiction
Single Part/Completed
Postcards by badly_knitted [Tenth Doctor, Donna, Wilf | G]
Rock And Roll Heart by jackdavfan692 [Twelfth Doctor/River | PG-13]


Fanart & Creative Endeavors
mekare has Tenth Doctor/Jack fanart piece for summer holiday prompt 12 at wintercompanion
acciochocolate posts a link to the Radio Times article on costuming



If you were not linked, and would like to be, contact us in the comments with further information and your link.
[syndicated profile] markwatchesstuff_feed

Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the third episode of the second season of Enterprise, THIS EPISODE IS INCREDIBLE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

Trigger Warning: For brief discussion of aquaphobia

You know… Malcolm Reed gets in a lot of life-or-death situations, doesn’t he? Him and Tucker are constantly NEARLY DYING, and lord, this example is somehow a billion times worse than when Malcolm nearly froze to death. It’s also a vastly superior episode because… well, let’s talk about that. It’s not that “Minefield” is trope free or anything. There’s still an element of familiarity to this script, but I found myself enraptured by how this all unfolded. It came across as so urgent, first of all, but that doesn’t mean the writers traded suspense for flat characterization. Much more so than “Shuttlepod One,” this episode explores character in a way that the former lacks.

Which is fascinating to me, since both episodes have Malcolm Reed in them as a focus! Yet there’s a stark difference here, and it’s evident in the opening scene of “Minefield.” At the time, I didn’t understand the importance of Malcolm’s awkward behavior during breakfast. He seemed so deeply uncomfortable with the very idea of being social with Archer, and I chalked it up to a lack of experience. We’d never seen him have a meal with his captain, so maybe he’d have to adjust!

Yet the writers build off of this after Malcolm volunteers to defuse a mine that becomes lodged on Enterprise‘s hull. (THAT EXPLOSION WAS SO SCARY. BLESS THE SPECIAL EFFECTS OF THIS SHOW.) I figured that the only tense thing we were going to deal with was the meticulous defusing of the mine. Right??? That was bad enough. No one knew why there were mines surrounding that planet; no one knew what sort of people had deployed them; and Malcolm basically had to make educated guesses as to how he could stop this mine from exploding.

Look, I just love writing where a very difficult and challenging thing happens and the text explores the aftermath. This is exactly what “Minefield” does by having another magnetic leg of the mine attach to the hull of Enterprise THROUGH MALCOLM’S LEG. It is a painfully visceral sequence, and it immediately changes the stakes. The tension. The fear! And unlike “Shuttlepod One,” the conversation that Archer has with Malcolm while he tries to defuse the mine comes off as meaningful. Important. Revelatory! It doesn’t come off as trite as I expected, and that’s particularly because of how deep the writers go in exploring Malcolm. Faced with the possibility of his death, Malcolm is shockingly honest about his family’s history and the legacy of heroism. I do think this goes a long way in explaining why Malcolm’s father behaves so strangely towards him. I believe we knew that Malcolm had not pursued a career in the Navy and that his position in Starfleet was a point of contention for his father. But this adds layers to that. Malcolm has aquaphobia, more specifically a fear of drowning. And he’s not even the first member of his family to have it! WHICH MAKES MATTERS WORSE! His great uncle (I may have gotten that familial designation wrong) not only joined the Navy despite his phobia, but he “faced” it and DIED IN THE VERY MANNER HE MOST FEARED WHILE SAVING HIS SHIP.

My god, practically ANYONE would develop a fixation or a complex over heroism, duty, and fear after something like that, right? I can easily imagine the sort of pressure Malcolm was put under while growing up. I can imagine the crushing disappointment when he chose not to do as his great uncle did. And this episode does an incredible job of gradually leading us to that point where Malcolm unhooks his oxygen tube from his tank in order to sacrifice himself. Without that build up and without the emotional context, that might have seemed uncharacteristic and strange. Instead, Archer’s talk with Malcolm reveals the complicated reality of Malcom’s insecurities and fears, and it’s a heartbreaking thing to watch. Just that morning, all Archer wanted to do was to get to know his Armory Officer better, AND THEN THIS HAPPENS.

Oh, and no big deal, this episode casually features humanity’s first contact with the Romulans, NO BIG DEAL AT ALL.

I admire this episode because it’s got such a skilled balance between plot and characterization, and I know that’s not easy to pull off. BUT THIS EPISODE DID IT. Bravo, Enterprise, and bravo to John Shiban, who did a lot of great work on The X-Files!

The video for “Minefield” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the twenty-fifth and final episode of the fourth season of Steven Universe, Steven discovers what Aquamarine’s and Topaz’s mission was. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steven Universe.

I’m just so overwhelmed by this.

Since the beginning of this whole show, Steven has lived in the shadow of his mother. It’s an immutable part of the narrative, which is why “I Am My Mom” feels so huge. After struggling with his own sense of worth, after dealing with his growing abilities, after discovering this massive intergalactic war, Steven has finally made the decision to deal with what was left for me. And it’s really a tragedy if you think about it! Steven never asked to be a part of this. He never made the conscious decision to start this war, but he sure as hell has grown up within it. He has had to deal with consequences of this war, regardless of whether he’s wanted to our not.

And that’s messed up. It’s a messed up thing to have in your childhood, and yet, here’s this bright boy, this beautiful beacon of joy and hope, who is so willing to help his friends and his family, who is willing to risk himself to save others, who is willing to sacrifice his life if that means he can save Earth. On top of it all, he’s also willing to be responsible for what he’s done, and in this case, he blames himself for Aquamarine’s mission. (Moment of silence for my inability to tell apart characters and for thinking that topaz is a blue color? I DON’T KNOW GEM STUFF, I AM A MESS.) I feel more forgiving towards Steven than he does for himself because… well, it’s not like he knew that his conversation ages ago to Peridot would lead to this. However, Steven is aware of what he HAS chosen to do in the recent past, and I interpreted his actions as being a response to that, you know? He’s been dealt a complicated card in life, but that doesn’t mean he relies on that to dodge responsibility.

That’s not the only factor at play here, though. Aquamarine and Topaz are formidable foes, and it’s been awhile since the team was up against people who seem so impossible to beat. Aquamarine’s powers are just RIDICULOUS, y’all. What is that wand??? What else can it do? Where does it get its powers??? What do the other Aquamarines do? I’m guessing all the Topaz gems are soldiers or warriors. Why don’t they talk??? Are they not supposed to? (Let me put my critical hat on, however: this is yet another instance of a large, butch gem being coded negatively. Granted, I know very little about the Topaz line of gems, so maybe the initial characterization will be subverted or something, but as it stands, it’s not a cute look, especially after the Bismuth affair.) These characters left me feeling bewildered, and ultimately, I still have no idea how any of the gems could have fought them off. Even Steven’s protective bubble couldn’t poof Topaz. At best, Steven was able to free the humans from Topaz’s weird fusion ability. Plus, it’s not like any of these fighters are unskilled or out of practice. As far as I could tell, Topaz and Aquamarine were just better.

Then we’ve got Lars. Y’all, the show doesn’t even deal with the ramifications of what he does here, so I’m assuming I’ve got to wait until season 5 to see it. Steven hasn’t even realized that he’s still onboard the ship!!! Oh god, that conversation is going to be so painful. Lars chose to run and hide rather than save Sadie. Or even attempt to save her! You could see the heartbreak on Sadie’s face when it happened, but it was also clear that Lars was more scared than he had ever been in his whole life. I don’t feel like this show is gonna ignore the implications of this, so HERE’S TO HOPING SEASON FIVE RUINS ME FURTHER.

I actually have high hopes for season 5 because this set-up is already so immense. Steven reveals his mother’s gem to Aquamarine and convinces her to take him instead. (Seriously, that scene is amazing, especially Steven loudly proclaiming that he is his mother. MY HEART.) It’s remarkably in-character for him, but it also holds so much promise. Will we learn the truth about Pink Diamond, or will we learn more about Rose Quartz? Will Steven be held accountable for his mother’s crimes? I don’t see the Diamonds as being understanding of this young kid, but YOU NEVER KNOW. Ah, I’m so glad I don’t have to wait for the start of season 5, either. I NEED MORE.

The video for “I Am My Mom” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

[syndicated profile] markwatchesstuff_feed

Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the forty-second episode of the second season of Gargoyles, Oberon returns. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Gargoyles. 

You know, I didn’t realize how much I am into this trope until now, but here it is: the otherwordly, godly being who is humbled and realizes how much they enjoy and respect those who they previously saw as inferior. I did not believe that we were going to end at that place because OBERON IS TERRIFYING. Most of “Ill Met By Moonlight” felt like a boss battle to me, especially when you’re playing a game that’s more open than most and you accidentally wander into an area of the map where you should be level 40 but you’re level 6 and everything hurts forever.

Oberon’s arrival answers few questions about his children, who apparently are still being called back home. Instead, there’s a more immediate problem: a whole bunch of people now live on his island, and he wants them all gone. Obviously, this is a huge problem because Oberon had abandoned the island a thousand years before, and all these creatures and people had made it their home. But the conflict felt so much more complicated to me than that! That’s partially due to the fact that we still don’t know why Oberon waited so long to return or why this all felt so urgent. He didn’t want them gone in a month or two; he wanted them gone IMMEDIATELY. What for? Spite? Because he’s powerful? Or is it because of that “Gathering” mentioned at the end of the episode?

Regardless of the reason, there’s still such an admirable amount of tension and frustration built into “Ill Met By Moonlight.” Until the non-competitors are given a hint by Titania in regards to Oberon’s weakness, there is no hope whatsover. Even with a limited amount of power, Oberon comes off as invincible. Nothing works against him, so all Angela, Gabriel, and Goliath can do is escape each attack and then run away. So it’s an intense cat-and-mouse game that unfolds onscreen, and not once did I ever feel like those three gargoyles had the upper hand. It’s an interesting choice for the writing because usually, our heroes gain some ground against the antagonists, yet there’s nothing in this episode. It’s just one nightmare after another, including that incredibly close call in the volcano.

Meanwhile, there’s a striking sequence in which the other inhabitants of Avalon discuss Oberon’s weakness and whether they should even be trying to defeat him. IT’S SUCH A COOL MOMENT, and I’m floored that the writers thought to address this. Because it is true that, despite his absence, Avalon “owned” Avalon. It was his island, and to him, these other beings really are invaders. Granted, the closest analogy I have to what they are is refugees, since the gargoyles were brought to that island while the humans were escaping persecution in their world. It’s such a meaty question to ponder, even if it isn’t explored more than a minute or two. Who belongs there? Is it fair for Avalon to have them removed or tormented just because it was once his?

I think the answer to this lies in the theme of Oberon and his children. If they were sent to live amongst humanity to learn a lesson, then this was a lesson for him. His arrogance and sense of superiority made it impossible for him to see any sort of possibility in these people. They were beneath him, and he dealt with them with that in mind. Yet without flinging a single punch at him, a group of them won the battle. WITH JUST THE RINGING OF A BELL. It’s a blow to Oberon’s ego, but it’s a necessary one. Look how much he changes by the end of the episode!!!

So.. who exactly was Titania? Someone we knew??? WHAT??? And what’s the Gathering? Probably that magic that is pulling Oberon’s children home, I’m guessing. But… what’s the magic of Avalon? You know, the one sending the others on missions around the world. I always assumed it was linked to Oberon, but he did not make one mention of it at all! I’M LOST.

The video for “Ill Met By Moonlight” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

[syndicated profile] markreadsstuff_feed

Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the first half of the sixth chapter of A Wizard of Mars, Nita’s dream worries me. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.

Look, I’m at a point where I just have to believe that Nita’s dreams are a form of communication. It’s how wizardry speaks to her, and it’s how this oracular ability of hers presents itself more frequently. So, given that, what does this dream mean?

Well, there’s the “strange many-legged” creature, and I’ll assume we will meet them at some point in the novel. Perhaps a creature that used to live on Mars??? See, I’m also operating under the assumption that Nita is reacting to what’s happening on Mars. It barely seems a coincidence that this dream occurred after Kit “unlocked” that superegg, you know?

I don’t know what the water means, though I still think the theory I made on video is close to… something? I remember how important it was to find water on Mars, so there’s got to be a meaning to a tsunami on Mars. THAT’S A BIG DEAL, RIGHT. Is it a hint of a coming doom? Is it a metaphor for Nita feeling overwhelmed? Actually, I don’t really believe Nita has metaphorical dreams anymore. They tend to be literal, and the fact that her transit spell wouldn’t work in the dream makes me believe this is all a huge warning.

I THINK. This really could be residual anxiety and fear leftover from the Pullulus, but I’m not betting on it. SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN.

In the meantime, Duane peppers the first half of this chapter with a number of cool character moments between Nita and her father. We get to see the first result of the new arrangement that was made so that Harry can check in with and watch Dairine while she’s in Wellakh. It’s a good solution so far, especially since it appears to cater to Harry’s need to know as much as possible. It’s a combination between a live stream and a Wikipedia abyss, so basically, it’s my worst nightmare. (I would waste so much time with something like that, and I don’t even have anyone in my life who I would need to monitor like Harry does.) And, even better: Dairine actually did her chores before she left to Wellakh. SHE WAS RESPONSIBLE. Okay, it’s like the bare minimum, but it’s a start.

I hope that we do get a scene where Harry and Nelaid meet, because I’m sure THAT will be a lot of fun. (Mostly because they’ll likely bond over how difficult Dairine can be.) This half of the chapter is largely a set-up for other things, though, such as Nita’s meeting with S’reee or all the foreshadowing. I AM EAGER TO READ THE SECOND HALF, Y’ALL.

I am thrilled to confirm that I will be a Guest at CrossingsCon 2017! Badges are now available, so COME HANG OUT WITH ME THIS SUMMER.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

Unshelved on Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Jul. 25th, 2017 12:00 am
[syndicated profile] unshelved_feed

Posted by Bill Barnes

Liven up your next conference, staff day, or event with Unshelved!



Unshelved comic strip for 7/25/2017

link to this strip | tweet this | share on facebook | email us

This classic Unshelved strip originally appeared on April 12, 2006.

A fannish update...

Jul. 24th, 2017 08:15 pm
settiai: (Liara -- bleeding_muse)
[personal profile] settiai
Now that I've talked about real life a bit, I guess it's time for a bit of a fandom-related update. I'm not watching a lot of television lately, and the handful of shows that I am watching tend to be webseries rather than more traditional series. We'll see if that changes in the coming months?

I finally was able to start playing Mass Effect: Andromeda and have fallen back in love with the whole ME universe. I know a lot of people didn't like ME:A, but I really loved it. It's not my favorite game (that's still ME2), but I do think it might have moved to the #2 spot on my list. Could it have been better? Sure. But that doesn't mean I don't love it (and the characters) any less.

On a somewhat related note, I still love Dragon Age. I haven't been playing it as much lately, since ME has been taking up so much of my time, but I've gone back to working on fic. Which is a good thing, because DA is one of those rare fandoms that makes me want to write longfic. Even though I kind of suck at writing longfic and take forever to finish stories that are more than 5000 words.

I've also continued with my Critical Role obsession, to the surprise of nobody. The current storyline is slowly drawing to a close, and I'm expecting Vox Machina's tale to come to a close by the end of the year. Which makes me sad, since I love the characters. But on the other hand, a new story! With new characters! My chances of convincing people to start watching will greatly increase when they don't have 400+ hours to watch in order to get caught up.

Speaking of which, Dungeons & Dragons continues to eat a lot of my free time. I have two weekly games that I play in online via Roll20, one on Friday nights and one on Sunday nights. Then I have another Roll20 game on Saturday nights where I'm the DM. And then, because I have no sense of self-preservation, every other Sunday afternoon I walk over to the gaming store near my apartment to play in another campaign.

So, basically, every other week? I play four D&D games in a little over 48 hours. And even when I'm not cramming four games in, I'm still playing three. Which isn't much better.

Oops?

Um, let's see. What other fannish things should I talk about?

Geek and Sundry and Alpha are behind most of the webseries that I'm watching nowadays. There's Critical Role, of course, which I've already mentioned. Then there's Eric's TBD RPG, an awesome Doctor Who RPG that just recently came to an end and was replaced with Shield of Tomorrow, a Star Trek RPG. Oh, and Sagas of Sundry which is just... gods, it's hard to describe. It's creepy and amazing and I highly recommend it.

I'm not watching Vast yet (another one of their RPGs), but I've heard good things about it. It's definitely on my list, whenever I have free time again. (I also watch The Wednesday Club, but it's a bunch of geeks sitting around and talking about comics for two hours each week rather someone I'm particularly fannish about. It's a lot of fun if you like comics, though.)

Based on the recent Doctor Who casting news, I'm cautiously optimistic that I might be able to start watching regularly again. I managed to watch some of the episodes from this most recent series but not all of them. Still, the ones that I was able to watch reminded me just how much I miss this show. I really hope that, once Moffat is gone, it will feel more like Doctor Who to me again.

The upcoming fourth and final season of Star Wars: Rebels has me both excited and terrified. I want to see what happens, but at the same time... well, it's Star Wars. I know going in that there was a good chance a lot of the characters wouldn't actually live through the show. The question is this: who and how?

I really need to start thinking about Yuletide and what fandoms I want to nominate this year, since it's coming up fast. This might be the first time in years that I haven't even started thinking about it yet, though. That will deserve its own post in a few weeks, when I try to start brainstorming.

A long overdue RL update...

Jul. 24th, 2017 07:42 pm
settiai: (Cass -- shoemoney2night)
[personal profile] settiai
So, yes, I'm still alive. Life in general has been busy lately, and the little bit of spare time I've had has been taken up by D&D and Mass Effect: Andromeda. Oops?

Work has been ridiculous lately. It's not really something that I can talk about in detail, but there's definitely quite a bit of tension between the higher ups and, well, a large percentage of the employees who aren't being paid six figures annually. Let's just say that the amount of work expected of most employees has gone up while salaries haven't (except for the higher ups, who magically were able to get raises when people making significantly less than them weren't), and I'm very worried the directors are going to find out first-hand just how screwed they are if a large number of people all turn in their notice and walk.

Mainly because I'm not in a position where I can afford to do that, no matter how much I might want to sometimes. Which means I'll also be somewhat screwed if anyone turns in their notice.

Add in the aforementioned extra work and the fact that several people have been out for health-related reasons, meaning our workload is even heavier, and... well, needless to say, it's not been fun.

Let's see... I should probably talk about the cats, huh?

Garrus and Percy are getting along surprisingly well. The first few weeks were a bit rocky, but once they got used to each other (and realized just how similar they are), things became a lot smoother. They're at the point where they're regularly grooming each other and sleeping just a few inches apart, which is a lot better than I was hoping for after less than two months.

I still miss Tali a lot, obviously, but the fact that Garrus and Percy are getting along so well is definitely helping. Percy is a doll, and I'm already at the point where I can't imagine him not being here. I just, you know, sometimes wish that I could have had all three of them, even though the realistic side of my brain knows that I never would have met him if I hadn't lost her.

VividCon is next week, which... I have complicated feelings about. Brain weasels! Aren't they fun? )

Anyway, I'm hoping that my brain weasels will go away once I'm actually in Chicago. At the moment, though, I'm not nearly as excited about the con being next week as I usually am by this point. Which makes me sad. Hopefully that will change somewhat over the next week-and-a-half?

... oh, I just realized that I never posted about my week of hell with FedEx here on Dreamwidth. I should rectify that. I want to make a separate fandom-related post first, and then I'll post the whole terrifying tale.
shinyjenni: Close up of Jaylah from Star Trek Beyond (jaylah)
[personal profile] shinyjenni
1. I went to see Cursed Child the other week! I had very few expectations going in, other than that the staging would be fantastic (which it was), but friends, I loved it. I mean, I'm sure there are criticisms to be made of it? But I just enjoyed it so much. (Not least because I went to see it with [personal profile] raven, so we got to talk about our reactions and take photos of each other with our respective house banners. ♥) I laughed, I cried, I never knew what was going to happen, it was excellent. I'm torn between "I WANT TO SEE IT AGAIN" and "I don't want to risk diluting this wonderful experience". I do want to read the script, though, which I haven't yet done.

2a. STAR TREK DISCO NEW TRAILER AHHHHH WHAT IF IT'S GOOD

2b. I saw Star Trek Beyond a year ago yesterday, so have now been at Peak Star Trek Joy for a whole year and it's been amazing.

3. THIRTEEN. I didn't really know who Jodie Whittaker was, so it took a moment to sink in, but then I watched the teaser and suddenly had all these emotions in my eyes. And she looks so Doctorish! A little weird and otherworldly and mischievous. I can't wait. It's a shame that we still have a white actor playing the Doctor (my top picks for Fourteen: Meera Syal, Indira Varma, Josette Simon), but this means so much to me even so, not least because I was so sure it was going to be yet another white dude. Also, I watched a few episodes last season for Bill, who is wonderful, and I'm crossing my fingers that she'll be Thirteen's companion, whilst also resigning myself to the likelihood that we'll get a solo boy companion instead.

4. Character announcements for Young Justice season three! I've always found Young Justice a bit hit and miss (I still haven't seen the last three episodes), but with enough hits to keep me more or less on board. ALSO. don't think this is really a spoiler, but just to be on the safe side ) I'm also holding out a teeny tiny bit of hope that now they're free of the constraints of whatever network they were on before, they might be able to include queer characters, as originally planned.
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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the second episode of the second season of Enterprise, T’Pol tells a story. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek

This is like a more charming version of “Little Green Men,” or perhaps a spiritual successor to “The City on the Edge of Forever,” which isn’t a suggestion that this is merely a copy of something that’s come before. Indeed, there’s a lot here that made this feel unique. For one, it’s a bold choice in terms of focus because the entire episode is devoted to three characters we’ve never met and will likely never see again. It’s an extended flashback AND a story within another story. And it’s all about Vulcans!

Ultimately, I thought “Carbon Creek” was endlessly charming and endearing, which is a feat in and of itself, given that T’Mir, Stron, and Mestral themselves were often so stoic. (Well, maybe not Mestral, but more on that in a bit.) As a storyteller, T’Pol is very matter-of-fact, which is not that surprising, but what thrilled me about this was all the small moments that revealed that Vulcans are not as un-emotional as they claim themselves to be. Here, after crashing on Earth in the 1950s, three Vulcans (including T’Pol’s great grandmother!) attempt to survive on their own before being forced to interact with the people of Carbon Creek, Pennsylvania. The writers exploit a lot of the awkwardness and tension that I expected from this sort of scenario, so in that sense, this was familiar. They’re aliens trying to blend in with humans while avoiding detecting. Of course, there’s gonna be a lot of culture clashing that almost risks spoiling who they really are.

Yet the big thing that distinguishes this from the episodes I mentioned at the start of this is the character work. You can see a similarity between T’Pol and her great grandmother, T’Mir, though T’Mir is much more rigid and strict than T’Pol usually is. There’s Stron, who is unimpressed with humanity and just wants to get home as quick as possible. But Mestral finds humanity fascinating AND THEN PROMPTLY BREAKS ABOUT A BILLION PROTOCOL OUT OF THIS FASCINATION. But it’s rewarding to watch this because he’s so sincere about everything he does. From his decision to hustle people in pool to make money to his interest in Maggie, he commits to everything so completely. He doesn’t half-ass anything in this episode. Why? Well, unlike T’Mir and Stron, he’s willing to engage his emotions. Mestral begins to develop an intense compassion for humanity, and I’m not just referring to his romantic interest in Maggie. That’s a part of this, too, but in hindsight, I see how Mestral rethinks his perception of humans and adjusts himself accordingly. He goes from a curiosity to caring. Look how determined he was to risk himself, his well-being, and the safety of the Vulcans so that he could rescue the other miners! Yes, it was the kind of behavior that could have gotten them all discovered, but that’s partially why this was so rewarding to watch. Mestral became emotional about humans. OF COURSE I WAS GONNA LIKE THIS.

Yet this transformation is not reserved for Mestral alone. T’Mir developed a quiet compassion within “Carbon Creek” as well. She comes to see the tragedy in how money can often limit a person’s opportunities, no matter how “fair” this is or not. Should she have intervened? According to Vulcan protocol, no. She should have left Billy alone and let him delay going to college. BUT SHE INSTEAD “INVENTS” VELCRO, SELLS IT, AND THEN GIVES THE MONEY TO BILLY. Also: oh god, how cheap was tuition back then? I don’t even want to know because I’m sure it’ll make me mad.

So, is every detail in this episode true? I think I’m delighted more by the idea that T’Pol made some of this up; that implies that she’s more creative than she’s letting on. But I don’t doubt that first contact was made in Carbon Creek over two hundred years prior. Instead, I’ll just accept T’Pol’s story at face value. It’s just a story, right?

The video for “Carbon Creek” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the twenty-fourth and penultimate episode of the fourth season of Steven Universe, Steven realizes that residents of Beach City have gone missing. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steven Universe

By virtue of the fact that I’ve watched season four over the course of many months, I felt like “Are You My Dad?” hit a whole lot harder than if I had watched this straight through. So… yay? Except BOO TO MY HEART, which was not ready for the final scene of this episode. I wouldn’t say that the hints towards this end were subtle, necessarily. It was pretty blatant that two creatures or people were stalking about Beach City. But this episode reveals that everyone who saw them disappeared shortly afterwards.

And while most of this episode is a set-up for something else, it’s not without meaning or emotional power. If anything, it’s kind of sad. We’ve never seen Sour Cream look so dejected as when he’s setting out to plaster the city with posters advertising his missing brother. The same goes for the eerie vacancy inside Big Donut, which is always so full of life and energy. Once you take Lars and Sadie out of the picture, it’s just creepy.

That’s a large part of the tension of “Are You My Dad?” We know that the people of Beach City make it such a vibrant and wonderful place. So what happens when those people are missing? How does Beach City feel then? That sequence where Steven wanders the boardwalk is a great example of how the show uses open space to unnerve the audience. Doesn’t the arcade just feel wrong without anyone in it? It’s the characters who give it life, who make it feel like a place you want to be. Thankfully, Steven finds Barb at the Big Donut, but they’re together for only a few minutes before they realize that this might be the start of something terrible. For the most part, Steven is alone.

Until her. I am not sure if her name is Topaz (was she referring to herself in the third person???), or if that gem was referring to someone else. But up to this point, we’d never seen a gem quite like Topaz. And I had so many questions upon her appearance! What role does she perform within gem society? Why did she act like she was innocently looking for her father? HOW CAN SHE EVEN HAVE A FATHER? What’s with the tear? WHERE DID SHE EVEN COME FROM?

I think it’s natural to assume the worst, and even before the reveal of what she was doing (alongside someone maybe named Chompers???), I figured she had to have come from the Homeworld. After everything that happened at the start of the season, it was only a matter of time before Homeworld retaliated. But… what the hell kind of retaliation was this? An innocent looking gem asking people for her dad? WHAT IS GOING ON?

In hindsight, I see how the writers set this up for maximum impact aside from how creepy it was. Once Steven and Connie head out to find the unnamed gem, there is just so much hope. I LOVE THEIR CONVERSATION. And after all the training that Connie had done, I felt like whatever they faced, at least they had a chance. But the reveal of what was behind those shadows was so completely out of left field that NO ONE, NOT EVEN THESE CHARACTERS, WERE READY. Just… WHAT IS THAT GEM??? If the blue one is Topaz, WHO IS THE OTHER ONE? The one I thought was called Chompers??? How can they just fuse organic bodies within their own? WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THIS SHOW? I recognize that this has a very common structure for hero narratives, given that the final image is absolutely Steven at his lowest. He’s been knocked out, and he’s watching these horrifying gems (ONE OF WHOM HAS A WAND WHAT THE HELL IS THIS HARRY POTTER SHIT) leave with his friends fused inside of them.

I don’t even have a theory. I am just messed up.

The video for “Are You My Dad?” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

Unshelved on Monday, July 24, 2017

Jul. 24th, 2017 12:00 am
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Posted by Bill Barnes

Liven up your next conference, staff day, or event with Unshelved!



Unshelved comic strip for 7/24/2017

link to this strip | tweet this | share on facebook | email us

This classic Unshelved strip originally appeared on April 11, 2006.

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the forty-first episode of the second season of Gargoyles, the team travels to Flagstaff to help Elisa’s father resolve a part of his history. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Gargoyles.

I still see some of the same problems within this episode as I did in “Heritage,” especially the cardinal sin that we non-Native and non-indigenous folks commit so frequently: equating every tribe and nation with all the others. This episode did feel closer to something far less ambiguous than “Heritage,” but as far as I could tell, the writers still appeared to have grabbed customs or visual references from multiple different groups and combined them all in one. Like, are these people Hopi? Navajo? They could certainly be both, but the episode doesn’t ever make that case at all.

It didn’t help that the flashback at the start of “Cloud Fathers” tread familiar ground. That whole set-up – Peter leaving home despite his father’s protestations – seemed to be the same thing we’d already seen. Peter rejected his heritage and his traditions to seek a better life in the outside world. IT’S BASICALLY THE SAME STORY. Thankfully, that’s about the only thing that the two episodes share. Instead, this is about how Team Gargoyle guides Peter Maza back to his home and what that means for him. Initially, he just wants to stop Xanatos, A NOBLE CAUSE INDEED. There’s something deeply satisfying about that, y’all, because it shows that the Maza family cares about the world independent of Elisa. They’re not involved because of her. And I respect that the show is willing to give us glimpses of their lives outside of the main action, you know?

I’ll also admit that I love the trope of someone being introduced to something fantastical – like Peter learning of the gargoyles – and then refusing to believe a separate fantastical thing. LIKE COYOTE THE TRICKSTER GOD. Dude, there are living, breathing gargoyles literal inches from you, and you don’t want to believe in one of the gods of the religion you were raised in? “Cloud Fathers” paints Peter as stubborn, both in the flashback and in the present time. He’s incredibly resistant to change! And it made me wonder: how had he reacted privately after learning about Derek? About where Elisa had been? I got the sense that it was much harder for him to acclimate to new things than his wife, who dealt with the strangeness of Elisa’s life in stride. But that stubbornness wasn’t just a negative thing, and I’d argue that his dogged pursuit of the truth led him right where he was supposed to be: in Xanatos’s warehouse.

I haven’t said it in a while, but: fuck Xanatos. Y’all, he openly brags about being a villain in this episode! It’s him at his most antagonistic, his most egotistical, his most uncaring. There’s a vicious criticism of cultural appropriation within this story, intentional or not, since it’s about how Xanatos re-purposes and steals things of great cultural value for his own need. The sacred carvings he uses to lure Coyote to that site represent this perfectly: he takes them and gives them a new meaning. They’re part of a trap, not a cultural tradition. He also melts down the Cauldron of Life to make Coyote 4.0’s new suit. Nevermind the cultural meaning of THAT, either! We don’t even find out what happens with that vat of acid, which probably destroyed those carvings.

Xanatos is unchecked greed. He is the force of capitalism within this story. He does what he does because he wants to and because he can. He always escapes responsibility, and it would be silly to discount how much his wealth acts as a shield.

Thus, Peter’s return to the Coyote trickster has an extra meaning. He manages to get Xanatos to leave Flagstaff and the land he leased from the tribe. But Peter also finds a connection to his heritage that he thought he’d lost. SO THANKS, GARGOYLES, FOR DEMONSTRATING THIS THROUGH THAT ABSOLUTELY NOT OKAY SCENE WHERE PETER VISITS HIS FATHER’S GRAVE TO APOLOGIZE. NO, NOPE, NOT READY FOR THAT NOW OR EVER.

The video for “Cloud Fathers” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the fifth part of Thief of Time, there is another. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

Trigger Warning: For discussion of misogyny, homophobia, toxic masculinity.

THERE IS SO MUCH INFORMATION PACKED INTO THESE TWENTY-FIVE PAGES, LET’S DO THIS.

Fidgett’s

You know, I wagered internally how much I was going to say on this because I don’t want to do that thing that we dudes are guilty of all the time, where we try to talk about sexism in a way to distance ourselves from complicity in misogyny. I WAS CALLED ON THIS BEFORE AND MUST BE CONSCIOUS NOT TO DO IT. I was starkly reminded of what Pratchett was referring to in the joke behind the “gentlemen” of Fidgett’s, though, and I wanted to talk about the kid of absurd manliness you often see from men just like that. And look, it’s not that being gay means that we are any less likely to be misogynist; just ask women how they feel about gay men’s misogyny, AND I ASSURE YOU THEY WILL HAVE LOTS TO SAY. But there’s a certain phenomenon that happens where toxic masculinity causes men to willingly distance themselves from any act that might be perceived as being less manly.

I brought this up in the video because of that joke Pratchett makes about the gentlemen of Fidgett’s literally believing that women didn’t exist outside of a certain period of time. I offered up some absurdities myself: I grew up with guys who thought bathing was gay. Who only took showers if they had to. Who thought loofahs were gay or womanly. And the thing I almost said but didn’t? I honest-to-gods knew way too many men to count who did not ever wash their ass because it was gay. I feel disgusted just thinking of that sort of nightmare, y’all. SO THIS JOKE PRATCHETT MADE IS TOO REAL, THERE ARE MEN OUT THERE WHO BELIEVE THIS KIND OF NONSENSE.

I urge you to submit your own stories even though I’m terrified to read them.

Alone

Pratchett does a fascinating thing here: he sets up Susan to be alone (and a little lonely) when she meets up with Death, and then he introduces her to a reality where there is someone else just like her. Early on, he writes:

Susan sighed. She knew what was behind that, and it wasn’t a happy thought. It was a small, sad, and wobbly little thought, and it ran: each of them had no one else but the other. There. It was a thought that sobbed into its own handkerchief, but it was true.

Though Susan clings to her humanity, she knows that she lives a life that is detached from the experiences of everyone around her. She might not be comfortable with that all the time, but she’s used to it, and I don’t think she could imagine living life without all the perks she’s gained as Death’s granddaughter. Plus, there’s an arrogance in Susan, and you can see it in the way she refers to “humans” as if she is not one herself. She wouldn’t dream of doing anything as foolish as those humans, you know?

So, we’ve got this sense of loneliness of experience (and company) that’s written in between the lines at points, and then we’ve got Death’s lengthy attempt at explaining the strangeness of the ripples in time. It’s all with the aim of getting Susan interested in what the Auditors and humans are doing. (I also believe it’s so that the reader has a better sense of the complicated mechanics at work here.) I got the sense that he appealed to her curiosity, but was that enough? Why should she care about the Glass Clock beyond the obvious? (You know, that whole pesky World Ending thing.)

Well, here’s one way to do that:

“Well, that sort of thing used to happen a lot in antiquity, didn’t it?” said Susan. Poets were always falling in love with moonlight, or hyacinths, or something, and goddesses were forever–“

BUT THIS WAS REAL, said Death.

“How real do you mean?”

TIME HAD A SON.

“How could–“

TIME HAD A SON. SOMEONE MOSTLY MORTAL. SOMEONE LIKE YOU.

what the fuck

Jeremy

So my instant thought was: it’s Jeremy. It has to be, right? Here’s a man preternaturally obsessed with clocks and time, who has been commissioned by a strange person to build an impossible clock that can make time cease to exist. Or, really, everything cease to exist in a manner of speaking. It’s a possibility, sure, but it could also be true that Jeremy just really, really likes clocks.

I am also curious how far Pratchett is going to take Jeremy’s illness, at least because it’s never named. He requires medicine for it, and Dr. Hopkins is worried about Jeremy fixating on clocks, so… I don’t know? I don’t know if it’s a significant part of who this character is or just a quirk. (Which… if it’s the latter, that’s gonna eventually be a problem.) The fact that Jeremy avoids taking his medicine doesn’t seem to be a superficial thing, but the lack of specificity bothers me. What’s going on with him?

Madam Frout

I know I’ve just started this book, but I feel like a confrontation between Jeremy and Susan isn’t that far off. (What of Lu-Tze and Lobsang, though??? THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS.) Susan’s convinced that she has to get involved, so with a clever (if cruel) use of her abilities, she gets time off from Madam Frout. I did appreciate that Pratchett had Susan acknowledge that freezing time on Frout was “cruel,” especially since it toyed with her perception of reality. The same goes for the way Susan changed Madam Frout’s mind. It’s not something that should be taken lightly or done without a care. (Well, or at all, I suppose, but I don’t think the book is going to address that. Susan has other things to worry about, like THE END OF THE WORLD and SOMEONE LIKE HER out in the world.

It doesn’t justify her cruelty, though. If anything, it shows us that Susan still sees herself as an exception, as different, as separate. So what’s it gonna be like when she meets someone that proves she’s not all that different from everyone else?

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

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