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Cat appreciation post January 1, 2019

Posted by Erin Ptah in Personal.
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Finishing up the December talking meme, a respectably-short amount of time into January: Kaldra wanted me to write about cats.

Cats are great. They’re beautiful, they’re nerds, they’re helpful, they’re doofuses, they’re adorable. I finally got on Instagram this year, and I’m making sure my gallery has a healthy proportion of cats, because I have a heck of a backlog of photos and it’s not like I’m doing anything else with them.

I’ve spent basically all my adult life having Housemates With Cats. This is the beautiful fluff I’ve been living with since summer:

Cat on sketchbook

He is the cuddliest critter you ever will meet. He insists on sitting on my sketchbooks, sometimes when I’m in the middle of drawing in them. Every night when I go to bed, he follows me in and spends several minutes diligently licking my face.

I’m scheduled to move out tomorrow, to a place with no housemates, much less cats. Yet. There are vague cat-acquiring plans farther in the future. (I definitely want to get all the furniture in place first.)

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I wish we could stop calling it a “government shutdown.” December 31, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
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It makes people think every government program is coming to a screeching halt — and if there are no visible effects on their lives, their next thought will be “wow, what do we need government for anyway??”

Even though, if the operation of the federal government did really shut down, they would Notice.

Imagine if all flights were grounded because the TSA wasn’t in service. Imagine if Social Security checks went on hold, and Medicare service stopped being covered. Imagine no mail being delivered. Imagine how everyone with an international business would feel if the borders were actually closed, even for a very short time. Imagine not a single member of the Secret Service being on-duty.

And, on a slight time-delay, imagine the outbreaks of e.coli that could happen while the FDA isn’t checking your food, or the terrorist attacks that could be planned while the FBI isn’t listening.

What’s really happening is “lots of government employees are continuing to come to work without getting paid.”

…which is kind of amazing, if you think about it. Anyone who doesn’t work in public service: imagine if your boss said “hey, listen, you’re not getting your next paycheck, but keep coming to work anyway, we’ll have you covered eventually.” You wouldn’t believe it for a second. You’d assume there was bankruptcy on the horizon. Maybe you’d stay long enough to raid the supply closet, but the next day would be spent sleeping in, watching Netflix, and updating your resume.

(Congress, btw, is not included in this deferment. Because of course they’re not.)

(December talking meme.)

Disgruntled gay opinions December 29, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in Uncategorized.
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What it says on the tin.

A response to various facets of Discourse…and if you cringed just reading that phrase, feel free to skip the whole thing. I’ll completely understand.

In no particular order… (more…)

Holiday gift reel December 26, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in Personal.
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Shard prompted “List off any gifts you received over the holidays, and if you’d like and/or want to fill space, tell us which one(s) you like most and why.”

Okay, first one is this lovely Yuletide fic, which I’m pretty sure is the longest I’ve ever gotten, phwoah:

Holiday Hours (find us where we want to be) (11338 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 2/2
Fandom: Pet Shop of Horrors
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Count D/Leon Orcot, Chris Orcot & Leon Orcot, Chris Orcot & Pon-chan & T-chan | Tetsu, Count D & Chris Orcot & Leon Orcot
Characters: Chris Orcot, Leon Orcot, Count D (Pet Shop of Horrors), T-chan | Tetsu (Pet Shop of Horrors), Pon-chan (Pet Shop of Horrors), Honlon (briefly)
Additional Tags: Found Family, Christmas Fluff, Unresolved Emotional Tension, Surprise Party, POV Alternating, Yuletide 2018
Summary:

Where a pet shop in Chinatown explores the true meaning of Christmas, and what was obvious all along is finally realized. At least, in part.

Featuring, the cast of:

A Very Oblivious Detective (Leon Orcot)
A Very Put Upon Shop Owner (Count D)
All I Want For Christmas Is to Make People Happy (Chris Orcot)
A Merry Band of Misfits (T-chan and Pon-chan)
And Background Gossips (who ship it)

I haven’t even gotten a chance to comment yet, it’s so long — but if you’re in the fandom, go give it some kudos.

There are some family visits coming up in January, and more things designated Christmas Presents will be handed around then. Like I said in an earlier post, we’re not real sentiment about specific dates.

So far: all the RL gifts are practical and useful, but not much to blog about. Literally towels, hangers, a chest of drawers, an afghan, a vacuum cleaner. A couple of large checks, some of which is getting invested in fandom merch (there are a few webcomic collections I’ve had my eye on), most of which will go toward rent, groceries, and my IRA.

Adulthood, everyone!

Just good things. (Nonbinary solidarity, great inventions, cool shadows, and more.) December 23, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
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“A 61-year-old person in my sample told me that they lived the vast majority of their life as though they were a gay man and was mistaken often as a drag queen after coming out. They didn’t discover nonbinary until they were in their 50s, and it was a freeing moment of understanding that nothing is wrong. They didn’t have to force themselves into the gay-man or trans-woman box — they could just be them. They described it as transcendent.

Evelyn Berezin, a computer pioneer who emancipated many a frazzled secretary from the shackles of the typewriter nearly a half-century ago by building and marketing the first computerized word processor, died on Saturday in Manhattan. […] Ms. Berezin held nine computer-related patents.”

Motto and his team had enough data to determine that their work was unprecedented in the history of suicide research. In the first two years following hospitalization, the suicide rate of the control group was nearly twice as high as that of the contact group.”

Parallax in action. (Someone put a light on a model train, then drove it around a dark room and filmed the beautiful shadows.)

“The people making these memes obviously have never seen some of the weird ass shit in old-timey photos.” (Contains B&W vintage photography of what is definitely an old-timey fursuit.)

CollegeHumor sketch: the CEO of Tumblr makes the slow-building discovery of what all the content on his site is.

By the way, if you’re on Discord, come take a look at the Comic Tea Party webcomic discussion group! They host regular chats on a variety of comics – and Leif & Thorn is scheduled for January 17.

A few more webcomic discord servers I’m on: SpiderForest Collective, Comicadia, and StArt Faire. (I sure hope all those links are current. Discord is…weird about that.)

Past relationships in Leif & Thorn December 19, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in Leif & Thorn.
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An anonymous commenter wanted to know (if it wasn’t too spoilery), “I’d love to hear about Thorn’s previous relationships, how they ended and why. Why is it he wasn’t dating at the start. Who was his first heartbreak that you hinted at? Ditto for Leif.”

Some of this will actually come up in the strip in a few weeks! So anyone who wants to experience it there totally unprepared, skip the rest of this entry.

No spoilers for any of the larger plot arcs, though.

Thorn:

  • First boyfriend: they were middle-school-aged, it was very cute, then the other kid’s family moved away.
  • Second boyfriend: a couple years later. The guy had a thing about lying to make himself look good — not so different from Holly’s boasting in Fish Story, except that it was a long-term problem. When one of Thorn’s moms died, and Thorn switched from “captivated audience” to “person in acute need of support,” the boyfriend broke it off.
  • So the breakup was pretty scalding, but the loss of his mother was the real heartbreak. Thorn’s emotions were really shut-down over the next few years, right into when he started military training. It was also during this time he settled on the idea that all the stress in his parents’ marriage came from how much his mom “had to travel for work,” so if he was going to be a knight, he couldn’t have a serious romance for the duration.
  • He tried a bit of casual dating during the early days, found it unsatisfying, and gave up on the whole prospect…until now.

Leif:

  • Never dated in school. His parents’ arrest happened before he got a chance to start. He wasn’t pulled out of class and thrown straight into servitude, but his new status wasn’t a secret, either.
  • He’s had a string of friends-with-benefits arrangements with other servants, rarely lasting more than a few months.
  • Something I haven’t settled on yet: we know it was highly exploitative when Leif got offered up as Stanczia and Imri’s dubiously-consensual dinner. And we know it’s legally possible to rent an indentured servant for sex, even without their uncoerced consent. It hasn’t come up in the strip whether that’s also happened to Leif or not. (Not that these would be relationships, but they sure would affect why he’s reluctant to have any.)
  • So if I put that on the table, will it be a Buffy-style “the metaphor was covering your point just fine, and then you threw in non-metaphorical sexual assault and it made everything weird” situation?
  • Or if I leave it off, is that a case of “hang on, this is supposed to be a slaveowning regime, don’t whitewash the awfulness of that by softpedaling any of the consequences”?

(Thoughts welcome!)

I miss when “fake news” meant the fandom. December 18, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in Meta.
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I feel like Daily/Colbert fandom was destined not to survive the move to Tumblr.

Not least because there was no easy way to cordon off your RPF (or RPF-adjacent) discussion/fanworks/squee from the (very broad) general population of People Who Watch The Daily Show.

On top of that, the changing hosts didn’t leave us much to go on.

Huge swaths of the legal online video archives were dropped, meaning new fans were locked out of access to the material.

There was no obvious replacement to fill the gap of “two young handsome men with a shamelessly homoerotic friendship.”

John Oliver has done a lot toward “rich character-based quasi-separate reality with a funny internal mythology,” but on a premium network with a smaller reach.

And I’m probably not the only one whose general ability to watch news-comedy shows has dropped off pretty hard.

Starting before the election, when some of them were making lazy jokes that reinforced sexist narratives people were buying into, and continuing afterward when even the on-the-ball ones (shoutout to Sam Bee and John Oliver) have had nonstop awful material to work with.

(Still mad about Colbert’s sarcastic “yeah, sure, it’s totally normal for a grandmother to want access to the nuclear codes.” Whenever it’s been a grandFATHER running for that position, literally nobody brought it up. Huh. Gee. How ’bout that.)

So it might be for the best that the fandom decline happened at just the right time to leave it mostly-unsullied by this era of politics.

And you all know I’m delighted that Jon and “Stephen” canonically went off to live in a cabin in the woods together.

(Cap from the Christmas special, but we can all assume it’s probably the same cabin.)

Doesn’t stop me from missing it anyway, that’s all.

(Prompted by muccamukk December talking meme.)

“Show and tell! Tell the story of an interesting object you have in your possession.” December 17, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in Meta.
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Still catching up on the December talking meme, going off a prompt from melannen.

At some point when I was in school my family went on a trip — I think it was either Toronto (out of the country) or San Diego (opposite coast) — and we passed by this shop that was visibly full of anime merch. This was obviously not on Mom’s list of Improving Tourist Stops, but I took one look at that window and by golly we were going in.

Sure enough, the place was packed with obscure stuff. Floor to ceiling. I only had eyes for the Sailor Moon merch (this must’ve been pre-Hellsing, even), and it did not disappoint. Lots of imports in the original Japanese packaging, including dolls that were actually on-model, and notebooks/stickers going all the way up to the Starlights, and all kinds of stuff.

Most of it I held onto from then all the way up until six months ago, when I did that big pre-move giveaway.

Here’s the one thing I kept:

Lil’ Sailor Moon coin bank! With the pose from the end of her SMR transformation — and the DiC logo, so, not an import? Actual North-America-licensed merchandise that you’d think I would’ve been able to purchase anywhere in the US?

But I never saw anything like it in the various local nerd stores back home, before or since. So I’m glad I snagged it when I did.

Maybe one of these days I’ll even actually use it for coins.

“What’s your favorite thing (or things) about webcomics as a medium?” December 7, 2018

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…is what umadoshi wanted to know about, so I’m gonna come at it from both sides.

As a reader: my favorite thing is that there’s such a low barrier to entry. I get to read comics by people who would never be accepted by publishers because the content is too niche (which used to include “too gay”, although fortunately that’s changing). Or because the creator doesn’t know the right people, and networking takes stamina/skills, which don’t automatically come with being a good artist.

Or even because the comic is genuinely Not That Great. Sometimes those are fun anyway! And having them online gives the artist the motivation to keep working, and then you can watch them get great in realtime.

The main tradeoff is that the flake-out rate is high, but you’re not immune from that in any medium. (“George R.R. Martin, please write and write faster…”)

And on balance it doesn’t get me down. Definitely not enough to stop me from checking out new strips. I’m just impressed at how many people are dedicated enough to keep them up at all for no money, or for “some money, but it sure doesn’t pay the rent.” (*cough*here is a Patreon*cough*)

As a creator: going back to this line I loved from the ComicLab podcast, “Cartooning has this wonderful ability to let you be a super-performative public isolationist.”

So, listen, sometimes I have your standard “being a famous public performer” daydreams. Like, a song will come up on shuffle and I’ll flash to the idea of me singing it on stage, got the perfect dance routine to go with, the crowd is Swept Up with Amazement and Awe and so on.

But the idea of doing anything like that in reality is horrifying. Crashes up against the problems that I’m not a good singer and don’t have any dance training and hate addressing crowds and get generally nervous about doing things live.

So I make comics — and people still follow along, get engaged, post theories and compliments and so on — but I get to sit behind it, so the art is what people are interacting with, and I never have to get directly involved unless I want to.

You don’t even need to talk to anyone to get started! Sure, there are collaborations and anthologies and application-based collectives, there are specific levels that you need to make connections to enter. But in general? Free webcomic-centric hosting platforms have existed for my entire Internet life. Fill out the automated signup form and you can just go.

(December talking meme.)

All these places I’ve been December 3, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in Personal.
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Nova wanted a post about the places I’ve lived! So here’s the executive summary. (Hopefully vagued-up enough to avoid identity theft.)

I was born in…

Wisconsin

…where my parents lived for the next three years. I don’t remember any of it, but I do blame its influence for the fact that I really, really like cheese.

Then Dad got a job in…

Maryland

Mom worked for a while too, but my understanding is that Dad’s job was the driving factor. He’s the one still working at the same place.

A couple of apartments, one of which I have the faintest memories of, then the house in the suburbs where my parents live to this day. Nothing too elaborate (if you remember the neighborhood from Desperate Housewives…yeah, all those houses are at least twice the size of ours), but nice and stable.

Lived there until…

College

Four years spent mostly in middle-of-nowhere rural MA. Interspersed with a semester abroad in the outskirts of Canterbury, New Zealand, which was great.

After graduation, a friend who was studying in Boston needed a housemate (shoutout to Katy), so I packed up all my stuff for good and moved to…

Massachusetts

Spent the next eight years going through a string of apartments, and housemates, and low-paying temp jobs, in the Boston area. (In the middle of this I went to grad school, though you wouldn’t know it from my employment history.)

For the most part I deeply enjoyed it! Met awesome people, followed cool opportunities, felt generally comfortable in the culture.

But the rents kept rising, while my income kept…not. Then 2016 happened, when my vote (among three million others) didn’t matter because of where I lived. And, you know. That sucked.

I considered moving back to Wisconsin. It’s a swing state, there would be a nice feeling of coming-full-circle about it, and I would get to personally vote against Paul Ryan. But then came offers of support from family members, which were pretty hard to turn down. Which is why now I’m in…

Ohio

As of this writing, still crashing at my aunt’s place. A planned short-term stay turned (by mutual agreement) into a medium-term stay. I’ve officially shifted into apartment-hunting mode, though! This post will be officially out-of-date by some time in January. (Barring any unforeseen complications. Knock wood.)

(December talking meme.)