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Danger & Eggs review: It’s really good, but mostly not for the reasons it gets hyped for. August 10, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in Erin Watches.
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So I finally had a chance to watch Danger & Eggs, the Amazon Prime animated kids’ show. Only one season so far, 13 episodes, most of them consisting of two distinct 12-minute segments.

It’s a lot of cute fun.

You know how Phineas and Ferb is partly about mundane suburban family stuff, but the kids’ adventures keep pushing the bounds of fantasy and sci-fi, and meanwhile there’s a world of secret-agent animals fighting mad scientists that they keep intersecting with?

That’s the energy Danger & Eggs has. It centers around a city park where people walk their dogs, rent the clamshell for concerts, hold ren faires…and don’t bat an eye at the underground full of leftover experiments from a failed mad-science organization.

Our heroes are D.D. Danger, human girl whose father was a famous stuntman, and Phil, giant talking egg whose mother is a house-sized mutant chicken. D.D. is wild, energetic, and adventurous; Phil is nervous, quiet, and safety-conscious. They are Best Friends. The comedy writes itself.

And it’s never mean comedy, either. They appreciate each other’s differences! There’s an episode where they wander into a labyrinth controlled by a slightly-deranged AI, get separated, and the AI creates an “ideal” simulation of each of them to entice the other into staying forever. But its strategy backfires — holo!D.D. is quiet and listless, holo!Phil is reckless and hyperactive, and the real kids discover that this isn’t appealing at all, that their friendship works because of how they balance each other out.

So that’s the good part.

The bad part is, before I started watching, all I knew about the show was “it’s full of LGBTQ characters! It has such good gay and trans representation! The whole last episode takes place at a Pride parade!”

Which meant I got pretty let down as the stuff I was expecting…didn’t happen.

(more…)

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Multifandom Recommendations – Doctor Who, Hellsing, Magic School Bus, Don’t Trust The B, Rivers of London August 8, 2018

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  • Doctor Who | Missy/Bill, 12/Missy | T | Take Control of My Whole Body
    Bill is determined to learn the choreography to Little Mix’s ‘Touch’ video, but needs somewhere to practice. Cue an afternoon of dancing in the Vault, and Missy insisting on helping Bill get it right.
    series:doctor who,fic:one-shot,yuri,pairing:bill_master,pairing:doctor_master

  • Hellsing | Integra/Alucard | M | His Reward
    While Alucard loves a good hunt, sometimes it’s not quite enough to scratch the eternal itch that immortality gives you. And Integra is more than willing to reward her favorite vampire for a job well done.
    series:hellsing,fic:one-shot,pairing:integra_alucard,kink:bdsm

  • Rivers of London – Ben Aaronovitch – J’attendrai
    Probationary Constable Peter Grant met me for the first time when I walked up to him by the portico of the Actors’ Church on a freezing winter night and said, “Hello. What are you up to?” However, I first met Detective Sergeant Peter Grant when he jogged up to my doorstep on a mild autumn afternoon and said, “There you are, sir. It is you, isn’t it?”
    series:rivers of london,pairing:peter_nightingale,trope:timetravel,trope:hurt-comfort,fic:chaptered

  • Doctor Who | Eight/Master | T | Any Time At All
    “There honestly needs to be an AU in which Roberts!Master kidnaps Eight and convinces him that he is his husband.”
    series:doctor who,fic:one-shot,pairing:doctor_master,trope:marriage,trope:hurt-comfort

Erin Listens: The Gateway July 11, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in Erin Watches.
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Just finished listening to The Gateway: a 6-part podcast series about “Teal Swan, a new brand of spiritual guru, who draws in followers with her hypnotic self-help YouTube videos aimed at people who are struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts.”

(So if you don’t want to read a long post about those things, you should bail out here.)

I’d never heard of Teal before this, and I still don’t know anything about her beyond what’s in this report. But I do know a few things about psychiatry that aren’t in the series.

And based on that…I have complaints.

(more…)

I dread the day when the suffering of my fellow is none of my concern June 28, 2018

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I’ve had Grace Petrie’s “They Shall Not Pass” in pretty heavy rotation for a few days now, and wanted to share.

Stand up today that we might save tomorrow
Oh I know there’s a way that we might save tomorrow
Yes it’s late in the day but we might save tomorrow if we try

We shall not turn against each other, for our creed or for our colour
Nor the ones we choose our lovers, or our class
You that beckon us that way, you shall not pass

Multifandom Recommendations, 6/6 June 6, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in Recommendations.
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  • Hellsing | Integra, Alucard | M | Starved
    Alucard and Integra are stranded on an island together, and Integra is Alucard’s only source of sustenance.
    series:hellsing,fic:chaptered,trope:trauma,genfic,!work.in.progress

  • Sherlock | John/Sherlock, ensemble | M | The World On His Wrist
    First, he is shot in Afghanistan. Second, he wakes to a phone call in Chelmsford, Essex. Third is pain, fourth is normalcy, fifth is agony and sixth is confusion. By the eighth, he’s lost track. (John lives in multiple realities AU.)
    fic:chaptered,series:sherlock,pairing:holmes_watson,trope:timetravel

  • Sailor Moon | Rei/Usagi, Mina/Ami/Mako, Haru/Michi | T | Walk The Plank
    Rei is in denial about a certain someone. Minako, who notices this, decides to help her dear friend accept her feelings and act upon them! However, Rei is really…really in denial. With help of the Senshi, they’ll guide her the right way! Well… drag her kicking and screaming in the right way..
    series:sailor moon,fic:chaptered,pairing:usagi_rei,pairing:haruka_michiru,yuri

  • Doctor Who | Twelve, Bill/OC | G | The Great Masquerade
    After the events of Oxygen, Bill and the Doctor go to an alien flea market and find a teapot that isn’t really a teapot. (Blindness for Twelve, girlfriend for Bill.)
    series:doctor who,fic:one-shot,pairing:bill_other,yuri

  • Looney Tunes, crossovers | Daffy, others | T | Bounty on a Bunny
    Fed up with the Looney Tunes, Daffy Duck is looking into other universes to find a worthy foe for Bugs Bunny. What’s a rabbit to do?
    series:bugs bunny,fic:chaptered,genfic,crossover,series:star wars,series:friday the 13th,series:lord of the rings,series:pulp fiction,series:shrek,series:terminator,amazing,series:pinky and the brain,series:animaniacs

  • Madoka Magica, tons of crossovers | ensemble | M | Offers you Just Have to Refuse
    “Make a Contract with me, Reader, and you’ll become a Magical Fanfiction Reader. You will have to fight Witches, and probably dubious grammar and lame humor as well. But it will be worth it! At least for me…”
    crossover,series:puella magi madoka magica,fic:one-shot,series:high school of the dead,series:evangelion,series:ranma 1_2,series:code geass,series:dc comics,series:bugs bunny,series:star wars,series:powerpuff girls,kink:tentacles,series:pokemon,genfic

  • Sailor Moon | Kakyuu, Galaia | T | Star Dancer
    Kakyuu has always wanted to be a Star Dancer. Refused in this, she resents that her new bodyguard is the strongest Star Dancer known to the galaxy. When Kakyuu convinces Galaxia to teach her magic, she sets into motion events that cannot be stopped.
    series:sailor moon,fic:chaptered,genfic,!work.in.progress

Multifandom Recommendations, 5/30 May 30, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in Recommendations.
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  • Alphas, Betas, Omegas: A PrimerOwn]
    A brief primer on the concept of Alpha/Beta/Omega Universes: Also known as that trope suddenly showing up in your fandom that doesn’t make any sense.
    resources:writing,kink:omegaverse

  • Medieval Fantasy City Generator
    This application generates a random medieval city layout of a requested size. The generation method is rather arbitrary, the goal is to produce a nice looking map, not an accurate model of a city.
    resources:writing,resources:drawing

  • WebGL Water lll
    Water simulator. Click to make ripples, change the angle, and/or move the ball around.
    resources:drawing,resources:time wasters

  • The Avengers | Bruce, Tony, Steve, Pepper, Natasha | T | The Kids Weren’t Alright
    Tony accidentally turns himself into a twelve-year-old using alien tech. Steve is stuck as bodyguard, Bruce is stuck trying to fix him, and Pepper is stuck trying to ward off a twelve-year old’s attempts at flirtation. And then things go from bad to worse.
    series:marvel comics,trope:hurt-comfort,fic:chaptered,trope:kidfic,genfic,trope:trauma

Help me identify these mad scientists & magical girl? May 26, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in Fandom.
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I’m transcribing the last year of Shine, and can’t remember who the heck these cameos are. Anybody recognize them?

All from the Eurekon storyline.

From strip #1, the mostly-bald scientist with the goggles and the tall collar – ID’d! Professor Membrane, from Invader Zim.

From strip #4, the blue-skinned, mop-top, vaguely bug-faced scientist – ID’d! Baxter Stockman, from TMNT, post-transformation.

And strip #21 has a ton of magical girls, most of whom can be identified just from a distinctive bit of weapon, skirt, or hairstyle…except I can’t remember who had these cute red shoes. – ID’d! Panty, from Panty & Stocking. (Should’ve known, Stocking herself appears elsewhere in the strip…)

Thanks to anyone who can help!

Multifandom Recommendations, 5/23 May 23, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in Recommendations.
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  • Jeeves & Wooster | Jeeves/Bertie, Drones | M | Jeeves and the Dinner Party
    “I’m terribly sorry about that, Jeeves.” I said, and I did feel terribly sorry, after all, ejaculating on one’s valet’s shoes is hardly preux chevalier behavior. True, it’s not specifically outlined in the Code of Wooster’s, but I believe it was definitely present in the spirit of the thing. It likely hovers somewhere between thou shalt not kill and never wear gray in the country.
    series:jeeves & wooster,fic:one-shot,pairing:jeeves_wooster

  • Houseki no Kuni | Antarc/Phos, ensemble | G | Phosphophyllite
    A mute. An unfortunately brittle gem. A troublemaker. That’s what the others know them as and what they believe to be true. But Antarcticite knows better, having been there since they found them in winter. Phosphophyllite’s not as young as they think.
    pairing:phos_antarc,series:houseki no kuni,trope:timetravel,fic:one-shot

  • Fake News | Jon/”Stephen” | M | Of the Beholder
    From newskink_meme on LJ, for the prompt: It’s their wedding night and Stephen insists that he’s never had sex with a man. Ever understanding, Jon treats him like the blushing virgin he claims to be.
    series:fake news,fic:one-shot,trope:hurt-comfort,pairing:jon_’stephen’,amazing

  • Labyrinth | Sarah/Jareth, ensemble | T | Certain Powers
    Eight (almost nine!) years was a long time not to hear from somebody. A long time not to get a letter or a phone call, or even a postcard reading “Wish You Were Here (without the unpleasantness of misplacing a younger sibling).” Even longer when you considered that there was magic involved, and that really the only thing required was a snap of the fingers and a fervent wish for a Scrabble party.
    series:labyrinth,fic:one-shot,pairing:jareth_sarah

Erin Watches: Scandal, the final season, through the finale April 24, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in Erin Watches.
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So…that happened.

I didn’t binge-watch the back half of the season, just kept up every week or two, so no liveblogging this time. Instead you get a long stream of final thoughts.

Plus, a rec for The West Wing Weekly. It’s a WW recap podcast with Joshua Malina (Will Graham in TWW, David Rosen here in Scandal) as co-host, and tons of high-profile guests (like, up to “sitting US senator” level) and in-depth conversations. Episode 4.18 dovetails with the Scandal finale, and features some sweet behind-the-scenes stories.

I really miss the days when Olivia Pope and Associates were actually taking cases.

Only one guy showed up at the office asking for help this season. And his problem turned out to be that he was being framed by Olivia, to take the heat off herself and/or Mellie. Quinn and the others did absolutely nothing to help — their only advice at the end was “even though you did literally nothing wrong, all you can do is flee the country and start a new life. Somewhere without extradition.”

And that was basically the whole season. Our core cast arranging itself into shifting alliances and going after each other, helping no one, leaving a lot of innocent people as collateral damage along the way.

The show always had a theme of characters making Dramatic Speeches that weren’t backed up by the rest of the writing. Sometimes they were working on bad information; other times they had obvious reasons to lie; other times they had a motive and were running with whatever line of BS backed it up.

That last one came up during the How To Get Away With Murder crossover event, where Olivia made some stuff up to cover for whatever illegal thing she was in on. Never followed HTGAWM, so I don’t know how much eyerolling that protagonist deserves, but it was a relief when she actually managed to catch it and call Olivia out.

(My favorite example is that election-season episode when a bomb went off, and one of Still President Fitz’s primary opponents was on-site pulling people out of the rubble. Which of course is terrible publicity for your opponent to get…so Olivia was on the phone with TV stations, yelling things like “Your President is making a speech! That should be your top priority!” It’s the perfect combination of self-serving BS, protagonist-centered morality, and total lack of compassion for innocent victims.)

Anyway, I bring this all up because as of this season, they’ve overplayed the trick so hard that it’s lost all its power.

“He was my friend!” yells Dad Pope in anguish, over a guy he long-conned, manipulated, and just murdered. “Tell the truth — the truth will be your armor,” declares Olivia to Mellie with total conviction, before they discuss how she definitely can’t tell the truth about the election they all conspired to steal. It’s absurdist. It’s nonsense. All you can do is groan and roll your eyes and wait for them to get on with it, already.

As we roll into the last few episodes, the setup on the chessboard looks like this:

–Olivia, during her stint as Command of extra-evil-secret-CIA B-613, had a visiting head-of-state assassinated (on plausibly-deniable non-orders from President Mellie). She’s been covering it up ever since.

–Vice President Cyrus staged a cyber-hijacking of Air Force Two, which got him lots of attention and let him make a heroic “let us go to our deaths with bravery” speech that got filmed by the press on-board. He’s following that up by trying to frame Mellie for the hijacking and get her impeached.

–The firm-formerly-known-as-OPA ducklings are trying to expose Olivia. No, wait, they’re friends with Olivia again, they’re trying to expose Cyrus. All without exposing the fact that most of them have B-613 murders on their hands themselves.

–Dad Pope is officially retired from Command, but (as mentioned) still murdering people on his own time. Also, complaining a lot about white people.

–Jake has been shuffled around a variety of high-ranking positions based on whatever’s most convenient for keeping him in White House proximity. I think he’s officially Command now? And he’s siding with VP Cyrus in terms of who he’s murdering these days.

–Also, remember Jake’s wife, and how he seriously considered choking her to death in her sleep last season? Yeah, she’s dead now. Didn’t even get some kind of “intrepid investigator on the verge of exposing all his other crimes” storyline leading up to it. I feel like he just got tired of not murdering her.

We should also note that, at this point, B-613…does not appear to have any actual agents left. Frankly, I’m not sure they ever had more than 6 at a time in the first place.

Which you would think would kinda hamper their job as a super-competent ominous secret death squad.

So with all those pieces in place, Congress is holding special pre-impeachment hearings, trying to figure out exactly who to prosecute on what charges. (Everyone for everything? Wouldn’t be too far off.)

And…they actually get correct information! While investigating Mellie for the fake hijacking, they come across the real assassination, so that’s when Olivia decides to take full responsibility and out the existence of B-613 to the world. The rest of the ducklings follow along and testify about their own roles.

The person in charge of the actual prosecuting is Attorney General Josh Malina. So there’s this dramatic overnight when nobody knows what the committee is going to recommend to him, but the smart money is on:

–Throw out VP Cyrus for staged terrorism
–Put Olivia, Huck, Quinn, Quinn’s baby-daddy, and Jake in jail for the B-613-related subset of their crimes
–Nothing for Mellie, she’s cool.

This is when Cyrus calls the Attorney General and claims he wants to make a deal. So, naturally, the AG goes to his house and has a drink alone with him.

I cannot tell who in this situation is more wall-bangingly stupid — the AG, who thought this was safe, or Cyrus, who apparently thought “if the guy whose job is to prosecute me abruptly dies in my house with no witnesses, that won’t be at all suspicious!”

Except that…somehow…it…works??

Like…one of the last scenes is Olivia handing Cyrus a letter of resignation and saying “even though you’re not being prosecuted, you’re going to sign this now.” Why not?? He very obviously just murdered the AG on top of everything else! The Deputy AG could be dumb as a box of rocks and still get a conviction! I would put Cyrus away for life on that evidence even if the prosecutor was literally a box of rocks!

Also: Dad Pope makes a surprise last-minute appearance in front of the committee. Confirms the existence of B-613. Makes a grand speech about how it controlled who got the presidency, it set the value of the dollar, it secretly had all the real power in the US government. All handled by this cabal of as many as six (6) assassins at one time. Sure, Jan.

But…for some reason…that means…no jail time for anyone at all???

Dad Pope confesses to running the operation, and therefore none of the operatives are accountable for anything? Dad Pope was retired when Olivia committed her war crimes, but his presence means nobody’s mad about that anymore either??

How.

It’s not even…I mean, it’s the last episode. They know it’s the last episode. There’s no need to force the characters back to the status quo in preparation for next season! They could do a flash-forward, slip in a bit of exposition about how everyone’s served their time for crimes committed, and end on a reunion! A few hugs, a few tears, a profound sense of relief that they’ve finally taken responsibility for all their bad deeds and can start fresh, pan out on a nice sunny DC landscape, curtain.

And instead, absolutely everything fizzles.

Don’t get me wrong, Quinn finally getting a wedding (with Huck officiating! and her baby-daddy finally revealing his non-alias name!) was cute. But it didn’t make up for the otherwise-total dramatic kerflop.

During the time this season was running, I found out that Grey’s Anatomy was on Netflix, and managed to binge the entire back catalog. Didn’t actually realize it was a Shonda Rhimes show until a few seasons in.

You can see a bit of shared DNA — the same style of Dramatic Important Speeches, the engaging high-stakes drama, the mostly-underwhelming romances, the occasional physically-abusive man who’s supposed to be a sad woobie. But I would not have guessed they were connected without prompting, because most of the Grey’s characters…are decent human beings. They’re kind. Honorable. Genuinely trying to do good in the world.

Some of them are ridiculous, too. And I’m not deeply invested in most of the characters as people (except Christina — I would’ve been so mad if they killed off Christina — and Bailey — listen, writers, y’all better not do wrong by Bailey). But you know what, it is enjoyable and fulfilling to watch.

(Also: lesbian and bi characters! Who are described in those words! And have long-term romantic dramas like anyone else! And who are mostly still alive!)

Anyway, the point of this detour is that the later episodes of Scandal started coming with ads for her new show, Station 19. Which, as far as I’m concerned, was not a compelling advertising strategy.

But then someone on FFA said it was in the same mode as Grey’s, i.e. “noble melodramatic people” rather than “aggressively terrible people”, so I gave it a try. Turns out it’s straight-up a shared universe with Grey’s, crossover characters and everything.

(Also: gay man on the team! Who’s been comfortably out of the closet since long before the pilot episode, and nobody thinks twice about the fact that he had a husband!)

So, yeah. Scandal was a mess, but if you admire Shonda’s talent and would like to experience it in a less soul-crushing format, I recommend both of the above.

…and she’s also debuting a new legal drama, so if anyone wants to tip me off about whether We The People is written by Scandal!Shonda or Grey’s!Shonda, it’ll be much appreciated.

Book giveaway? Book giveaway! March 23, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in Fandom.
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Same deal as the previous post — comment if you want anything, cover the cost of shipping, and it’s yours!

Everything is paperback, and in nice condition, unless otherwise noted. If you have questions or want a photo of something specific, just ask. I’m not planning to leave this open for long (no later than March 31) before passing on everything that hasn’t been asked about, so make it fast.

And please share this post around for other people who might be interested!

Neil Gaiman

Mirrormask (w/Dave McKean) (hardcover)
Black Orchid, volumes 1-3 (w/Dave McKean)
Sandman: The Dream Hunters (w/Yoshitaka Amano)
Creatures of the Night (w/Michael Zulli) (hardcover)
Stardust

Kendra L. Saunders

The Unlove Spell
Dating an Alien Popstar
Inanimate Objects

How to Draw Manga

From the (translated) Japanese series, don’t worry. Lots of good tips and reference poses.

Getting Started
Illustrating Battles
Colorful Costumes
Bishoujo Around The World
Couples
Dressing Your Characters in Casual Wear

Misc. Fiction

Misery – Stephen King (well-loved)
An Abundance of Katherines – John Green (ditto)
The Skies of Pern – Anne McCaffrey

Misc. Nonfiction

Wishful Drinking – Carrie Fisher
The Psychology Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained – DK (hardcover)
Alex & Eliza: A Love Story – Melissa de la Cruz (hardcover)

Misc. Comics

Steven Universe – Volume 1
Steven Universe – Too Cool For School
Lenore (Roman Dirge) – issues 1-4
Lenore (Roman Dirge) – issues 5-8
Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall