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Monday Works Roundup, 7/27 July 27, 2015

Posted by Erin Ptah in Art, Comics, Fic, Leif & Thorn, Night Vale, Sailor Moon.
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Leif & Thorn
Blue-Eyed Mount (art | Thorn, Caiomhe | worksafe)

Home
The Boovtrix (art | Tip, Oh | worksafe)
Boov Over Paris (art | landscape | worksafe)

Sailor Moon
I Think They Like Each Other (art redraw | Princess Mars, Princess Venus, parents | worksafe)
Draw This Again – I Think They Like Each Other (art redrawing meme | Mars, Venus | worksafe)

Welcome to Night Vale
August Bodies, part 3 (fic | Carlos/Kevin | NC-17)
Let The Shadows Fall Behind You, part 3 (fic | Cecil/Carlos, ensemble | T)
Janice Family Fusion (art | Cecil, Steve, Janice | worksafe)
Mayoral Gem Fusions (art | Pamela Winchell, Dana | worksafe)
TJ 4koma, Part 16 (comic | Earl, Cecil, Cecil’s brother | G)

General/Miscellaneous
Insightful Character Analysis from Tumblr Dot Com (meta/comic, worksafe)
Repeating crystal pattern (free tiled background)
Line of Trees (Oslo photo, worksafe)

This Week in But I’m A Cat Person:
The emotional conclusion of Cohen’s wine-assisted heart-to-heart with his kid.

Our Miss Brooks: a rec post July 26, 2015

Posted by Erin Ptah in Miscellaneous.
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Typed all this out for a bit of Miss Brooks/Mr. Boynton fanart, wanted to make it an actual rec post too. (There was uploading involved and everything.)

Our Miss Brooks is a 1950s radio sitcom about high school teachers. It’s snarky, it’s clever, Connie Brooks has the greatest deadpan, there are a ton of lovable characters, and the pacing and buildup within each farce-of-the-week is amazing.

If you’re on the lookout for things to add to your listening lineup, give it a try. Especially now that the Thrilling Adventure Hour is ending — why not follow up the old-timey-radio-styled comedy podcast with actual old-timey radio comedy?

It’s public-domain by now, so you can mass-download episodes on archive.org. Some individual recs, to lure you in:

Dress Code, in which half the characters end up half-dressed by the end of the episode, through shenanigans that force them to play musical-chairs with items of clothing. It starts when the main teenage male character comes to school in a skirt to protest the gendered dress code, which is a lovely example of how progressive the show was for its time. (And, in some ways, how progressive it still is….)

Arguments, Arguments, in which Miss Brooks hears that making up after an argument is one of the perks of romance, so she tries to goad modest love-interest Mr. Boynton into one. He’s much too mild-mannered to respond the way she’s going for, the arguments that do start are completely accidental side effects, and I kept having to stop what I was doing because I was cracking up.

Spring Garden, in which there are lots of secret underhanded plans to ensure the school garden’s place in a county competition. There’s a memorable “this would only work in audio” sequence towards the end — it involves multiple unrelated conspirators hiding behind the same trees.

Woman Driver, another one with uplifting gender politics. I was worried at first, not sure whose arguments the plot was going to support, but it was incredibly satisfying by the end. (You know the sequence in Home where Tip is trying to drive Slushious for the first time? It’s like that, with more overt feminism. Although, I’m sorry to say, less hovering.)

Fun Things To Do Over Your Weekend July 25, 2015

Posted by Erin Ptah in Doctor Who, News Roundup.
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(1) Sign this petition to have the United States recognize the KKK as a domestic terrorism organization. (It is shameful that we haven’t done this already.)

(2) Do a few of these things suggested by the Brady Campaign. They’re fighting the good fight against the US’s gun problem, against a coalition of weapons dealers who are hell-bent on making it easier to sell things.

(3) Pick up the facts about the death of Sandra Bland, who was jailed for three days because she failed to signal a lane change and then found mysteriously dead in her cell. Be horrified. Look for local protests. If you’re in the Massachusetts area, there’s one in Boston this Tuesday.

(4) Read this essay, written from experience, about how medical care is frequently icky and uncomfortable. And don’t let people demonize Planned Parenthood on the grounds that, in the process of providing medical care, they do things that are icky and uncomfortable.

(5) Ask your representative to co-sponsor the Save Oak Flat Act. An eleventh-hour addition to the end of a “must-pass” military spending bill traded 2400 acres of Arizona federal land to a foreign mining corporation — including a sacred site for local Apache tribe members. Because why would the US waste an opportunity to screw over Native Americans for profit?

(6) On a brighter note, celebrate that workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation is officially illegal across the country. Not even because of a new law — but because the EEOC ruled that it falls under the jurisdiction of the 1964 Civil Rights Act! (Because you can’t discriminate based on sex, and we’re finally acknowledging that that’s what’s happening if you’d fire a woman for dating a woman, but wouldn’t fire a man for the same reason.)

(7) All of the above is US-based stuff, so here’s something that’s hopefully doable anywhere: browse the free-to-download section on the Big Finish website, and help yourself to whatever looks good.

The difference between The West Wing and Scandal, in a nutshell: July 24, 2015

Posted by Erin Ptah in Miscellaneous.
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In The West Wing, a woman comes to the White House trying to get a posthumous pardon for her grandfather. He was accused of being a Soviet spy; she’s convinced he was innocent. One of our heroes looks into the matter, and learns, through classified information, that the grandfather really was a spy.

Our hero goes back to the woman and explains he just couldn’t get access to make the case happen (but she can try again in a few months). The woman feels hopeful, has good news to take back to her ailing father, and both of them get to keep their rosy image of their (grand)father.

In Scandal, a woman comes to the White House trying to get a posthumous pardon for her son. He was accused of being a terrorist; she’s convinced he was innocent. One of our heroes looks into the matter, and learns, through classified information, that the son was really a high-level US operative who was killed while on a deep-cover mission.

Our hero goes back to the woman and explains that her son was a terrorist. The woman kills herself.

(I’ll watch both of these Americas on TV, but there’s only one I’d want to live in.)

Erin (re)Watches: The Middleman, The West Wing, Steven Universe July 21, 2015

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There’s a rewatch of The Middleman going on in muccamukk ‘s journal! I originally saw the series via pirated torrents, liked it so much I went out and bought the DVD boxset…then never actually used the DVDs. Not even to look at the bonus features. The plastic wrap was still on the box yesterday when I pulled it out for the rewatch.

I’ll type my reactions on the posts over there; this is just a heads-up for anyone who wants to follow along.

Netflix has The West Wing, so I’m doing a rewatch as a palate-cleanser from Scandal. A big ensemble cast of fast-talkers and speedwalkers, lots of high-stakes politics…but most of the people are decent human beings! And when they screw up, the narrative treats it as a screwup, not as tragic heroism!

After sitting through the discomfort of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and the disaster that was The Newsroom (with the exception of Olivia Munn), I was kinda worried TWW would be retroactively tarnished. But so far, so good! I don’t feel like the characters’ flaws are gendered — most of them can be goofy and ridiculous at times, and it all feels like well-rounded individual characterization, not like the women have big signs over their heads labeled “those wacky ladies, amirite?” The plot has yet to be warped around a “middle-aged male hero alternately fights with and pines over his feisty ex” storyline.

None of Sorkin’s pet “new arrival gets surprise!promoted way above their experience level/has to do the work of ten people, in order to show how great they are” device, either. We know the characters are competent because they have solid backstories of work in their field, and because we see them doing their individual jobs really well in the present. And that’s enough. The narrative still gets to indulge in their competence, and it’s all the more fulfilling because it’s not so over-the-top that you just get annoyed.

Plus, the tech level is (at this point) late-90s. There have been multiple scenes so far where I thought “can’t you look that up on the Internet?”…seriously, I don’t have a great sense for what was online in 1999. (Although I’m sure the text of the Constitution was downloadable then.) Point is, we don’t have to suffer through any of Sorkin’s massive head-meet-wall failures to understand 2010s technology. (Remember that scene in The Newsroom where a character tried to prevent someone from accessing his email…by smashing his personal phone? Yeeeeah.)

And nobody we’re supposed to like has tortured and/or murdered anyone! I really can’t stress enough how refreshing this is.

There’s a character named David Rosen mentioned in the first season of TWW. Can’t remember if he ever appears in person. Does anyone know if the David Rosen on Scandal got his name as an homage? (It would make extra sense because the Rosen in Scandal is played by Joshua Malina — one of Sorkin’s famously recurring castees, seen on TWW as Will Bailey.)

I’m possibly the last person in my generation on the Internet to observe that Steven Universe is amazing, but I’ll say it anyway.

Marathoned the first season with a lot of spoilers already in hand, so I appreciated a ton of the foreshadowing. The very first episode involves Steven singing a song about an alien refugee from an interstellar war, come to hide out on Earth! Long before we have any hint that this is his moms’ actual backstory. (The song contains the line “He left his family behind”, and the show still hasn’t mentioned whether the Crystal Gems having families back on Homeworld. I bet you anything it’s only a matter of time.)

The worldbuilding is all the more impressive for 11-minute episodes. Tons of important plot elements have to be folded into simple monster-of-the-week stories, or fun domestic shenanigans. And so much is clearly planned from the beginning. (There’s a character who first gets mentioned in episode 51…and who can be seen in a mural in the background scenery of episode 8!)

For the record, I am on board with the Rose Diamond theory, the “Jasper is a fusion…of defective partial gems” theory, and as much (properly-tagged) NSFW fanart as the fandom can produce. The gayer, the better.

Original Gems are addictively fun to design. Especially once you start working out what their fusions would look like. It’s like discovering the idea of otaku senshi all over again.

…all the more so because elementary-school me literally drew a team of gemstone-based senshi OCs. This was more information than the baby Internet could provide — my total knowledge of gemstone names and properties came from the illustrated list in the family’s World Book Encyclopedia. Wish I still had the art, because that would be some adorable nostalgia.

The last TV series where I always had to find the latest installment ASAP after release was Madoka Magica. Of currently-running shows, for a long time it’s only been the fake news family (TDS, TCR, Last Week Tonight, and The Nightly Show). Add SU to the list.

Monday Roundup, 7/20 July 20, 2015

Posted by Erin Ptah in Art, Fic, Leif & Thorn, Madoka Magica, Mixes, Night Vale, Sailor Moon.
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Leif & Thorn
Tenderness and hair-tousling (art | Leif/Thorn, Tiernan | worksafe)

Home
You weigh, like, a thousand pounds (art | Oh, Tip | worksafe)

Our Miss Brooks
The third wheel is a frog (art | Connie/Philip, MacDougal | worksafe)

Puella Magi Madoka Magica
And I Still Have My Hands on the Wheel (mix | Madokami/Homura | G)

Sailor Moon
Sailor Garuda (commissioned art | otaku senshi | worksafe)

Steven Universe
Team #PearlNeedsAHug (art | Garnet, Pearl | worksafe)

Welcome to Night Vale
August Bodies, part 2 (fic | Carlos/Kevin | NC-17)
Let The Shadows Fall Behind You, parts 1-2 (fic | Cecil/Carlos, ensemble | T)
Ripped tights and hormones (art | Cecil/Earl | NSFW)
High-Res Night Vale Eye (graphic, worksafe)

General/Miscellaneous
Garden of Roses (Oslo photo, worksafe)
Fan-ish Sketchpile 2014 (sketches | Madoka, “Stephen”, miscellaneous | worksafe)
A Clouded Mountain (Oslo photo, worksafe)

Pluto, Andromeda, robot fingers, 80,000-year-old trees, and other wonders of science July 15, 2015

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
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The voyage to Pluto, one step and one photo at a time. (I may have gotten a little emotional at this one.)

Close-up view of the heart! Complete with discussion.

Elsewhere in the universe:

1.5 billion pixel photo of the Andromeda Galaxy, covering a space 40,000 light-years across and capturing over 100 million individual stars.

A solar eclipse caught in an analemma: the sun photographed from the same spot at the same hour throughout a year, making a distorted figure-eight. And since now we have cameras on Mars, we can capture the Martian analemma, which is just a teardrop.

The oldest living things in the world, including eight-thousand-year-old bushes, 80,000-year-old trees, and 400,000-year-old bacteria.

With no new medical discoveries, no new technologies, no payment incentives — and little public notice — hospitals in recent years have slashed the time it takes to clear a blockage in a patient’s arteries and get blood flowing again to the heart.”

Artificial robot fingers that flex like real ones! Science is great.

Monday Works Roundup, 7/13 July 13, 2015

Posted by Erin Ptah in Art, But I'm A Cat Person, Comics, Fic, Leif & Thorn, Madoka Magica, Mixes, Night Vale.
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But I’m A Cat Person
Reseda, Showing Off (wallpaper | Reseda | worksafe)
Buttons and Bows (art | Cybele | worksafe)

ILLUSIONOID
The Last Man in the Universe (art | the Last Man, his clone | worksafe)

Leif & Thorn
Tiernan, v2 (art | the cat | worksafe)

Puella Magi Madoka Magica(/Utena, Precure, Shugo Chara)
Walpurgis Necking (art | Madoka/Walpurgisnacht | worksafe)
Mahou Shoujo Miki (art | Aono Miki, Kaoru Miki, Miki, Miki Sayaka | worksafe)

Steven Universe
Grumpy Fan (art | Connie, Steven | worksafe)

Welcome to Night Vale
Revelation, Part B (4koma | Man in the Tan Jacket, Cecil/Carlos | G)
Welcome To The New Age (art | Dana, Cecil/Carlos, Tamika, daemons | worksafe)
Soundtrack: Welcome To The New Age (OST | Republic of Heaven Community Radio | G)
August Bodies, part 1 (fic | Cecil/Earl | NC-17)

General/Miscellaneous
Painted Milky Way (stock/resource, worksafe)
The Spire (Oslo photo, worksafe)

This Week in But I’m A Cat Person:
Patrick accidentally let something slip, poor puppy. Meanwhile: go to bed, Cohen.

Erin Watches: Scandal, Jericho, Survivors, Sons of Tucson, Scrubs July 12, 2015

Posted by Erin Ptah in Fandom, Miscellaneous.
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I caved. The fourth season of Scandal is on Netflix, and I’m marathoning it. The show is a lot more watchable — a lot less hair-tearingly frustrating — once you go in expecting everyone to be an irrational, murderous, election-fixing, torture-happy, generally terrible person.

All the main characters, at least. I’ve gone and gotten attached to a couple new members of the beta cast — the not!Obama community organizer in DC, the sweet newbie politician who insists on reading an entire 1200-page bill before voting on it. Are they going to end up terrible by season 5? No, don’t tell me, leave me to my…not hope, exactly, but peaceful ignorance.

(Plus, season 4 brings us Portia de Rossi, who it turns out is a joy to watch no matter what kind of role she’s playing. I’ve gone and added a bunch more of her TV filmography to my to-watch list.)

I’ve watched a bunch of apocalyptic shows lately, too. Jericho, where half a dozen US cities get nuked, and a small town tries to keep itself together through the aftermath. There’s a lot of great stuff about people creatively repurposing what they have — the first episode has panicky DIY tracheation, and later there’s a sequence where they’re all trying to work out the logistics of getting as much of the town as possible into bomb shelters before a storm with radioactive fallout blows through.

And Survivors, where the Plague kills 99% of the population. Watching the frantic medical response while the crisis was happening was probably the most interesting part of this one.

Both shows have this issue where they can’t just focus on the complicated struggle of survival, and the human moments that come out of it. No, they have to add extra drama. This guy has a nuke in his basement. That ragtag group of everyperson refugees we’re rooting for has been infiltrated by a psychopathic murderer/rapist. The big-pharma company that accidentally unleashed the Plague is looking for one of our heroes…and instead of just telling her “hey, we think you have antibodies we can use to make a vaccine, want to help us out?”, they have to drug and kidnap her. Because realistic efforts to tackle overwhelming medical problems aren’t interesting on their own, the doctors also have to be Evil.

Both got canceled on cliffhanger endings, too. Sigh.

Much more heartwarming, and canceled at a nicer stopping point: Sons of Tucson. The sons of an arrested white-collar criminal decide to hire a guy to pretend to be their father so they won’t get shunted into foster care. The kids are well-written, not cloyingly sweet or miniature adults, and it helps that they’re played by actual child actors of the age the characters are supposed to be. Their dad-for-hire is one of those schlubs who starts out as a slacker opportunist, but not evil or dangerous, just entertainingly self-serving.

And then they bond! Our protagonist grows and matures into a passable non-fake guardian figure! They tackle social situations and issues with the house together, end up caring about each other, and turn into a bizarre-yet-functional family of choice! Good times.

Also sweet and funny: Scrubs. Did not disappoint. Sharp comedy, lovable characters, sometimes hilariously OTT and other times openly emotional about the stress of working in a hospital — it moves between those two really well, really smoothly and naturally. (I’ve heard IRL professionals say it’s more realistic about the emotional stuff than a lot of serious medical dramas, and I believe it. People cope with traumatic work long-term by having a sense of humor about morbid things, not by being soap-opera solemn all the time.)

I mean, there’s some weirdness. The occasional sexist and/or transphobic joke. Seriously contrived “accidental pregnancy with someone I don’t like” arc in the later seasons. Instead of getting canceled early and on a cliffhanger, this one had an extra season tacked on after the planned finale, and it’s exactly as weak as you’d expect.

And, look…early on there’s this arc where J.D., Turk, and Carla (hero, hero’s BFF, BFF’s wife) are all rooming together in one apartment, right? They’re considering having J.D. move out, so he decides to spend a couple of weeks away. And it turns out Turk and Carla miss the regular time they’d been spending with him, and are more awkward with each other in his absence. So the lesson everyone learns from this is…”J.D. needs to move out for good, and Turk and Carla need to go into couples therapy.” Why?? You had a perfectly good partly-platonic triad dynamic going on, here! Why throw that away to contort yourselves into a cookie-cutter template for what Adult Romances and Adult Living Arrangements are “supposed to” look like?

There’s only one J.D./Turk/Carla fic on the entire AO3. I cannot understand. There should be thousands of words about them being wonderful and adorable together.

We’re finally entering the 2010s in LGBTQ+ rights, but still in the 1960s with racism June 29, 2015

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
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People killed by police, 2015. 550 and counting.

“Deaths by guns, though—the great majority suicides, accidents or domestic violence—have been trending slightly upwards. This year, if the trend continues, they will overtake deaths on the roads.

“If Texas state Rep. Dan Flynn (R) gets his way, teachers will have the right to use deadly force against students in Texas classrooms, in the near future. […] Moreover, civil immunity would be granted to those who use deadly force, meaning they would not be liable for the injury or death of student.”

Study of media coverage on New York stations [PDF] finds that black suspects are disproportionately represented in crime stories. “51% of the people the NYPD arrest for murder, assault, and theft are Black…but 75% of the people local news stations broadcast as responsible for those crimes  are Black.”

Five fires at black churches over six days. Knoxville, June 21; Macon, GA, June 23; Charlotte, NC, June 24: all deliberate arson. Warrenville SC, June 26: cause still undetermined. Tallahassee, FL, June 26: official theory is that it was an electrical fire. We can only hope.

20th Anniversary of the Million Man March, Washington DC 10/10/15. Worth attending.

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