Tag Archive | Marshmallow Fluff

Family vac[cin]ations, the cat vs. the Horrible Strangers, reactions to Black Widow, Loki, Check Please!, Leverage: Redemption

Stuff about stuff that’s been up.

Family vac[cin]ations

My parents and brother came to town, making it the first time we’ve all been in one place for almost 2 years. (Parents have been vaccinated for a while, and they visited earlier in 2021. Brother is (a) young, (b) low-risk, and (c) not in a customer-facing position, so he only skated over the “2 weeks since second dose” theshhold just in time to get here.)

We visited a bunch of the local relatives. On one side, the grandparents who flatly refused to entertain unvaccinated visitors (so everyone’s had their shots). On the other, the grandparents who got their own shots as soon as possible, but were having unmasked indoor visits with my virulently antivaxxer aunt and her kids right up until they — the grandparents — tested positive.

Grandfather, who’d only had his first shot, got pretty sick and was hospitalized, but pulled through. Grandmother, who’d had both shots, barely got the sniffles, wouldn’t even have thought of getting tested if she didn’t live in the same house as a seriously-ill person. Aunt has only doubled down on how these fraudulent vaccines don’t even do anything, you guys.

I, uh, timed my part of the visit to not encounter the antivaxxer aunt.

Banging and drilling

A few relatives came over to my apartment to do some handiwork projects. Which meant the Fluff had his space invaded by Horrible Strangers, who talked and hammered and drilled and vacuumed and generally made Horrible Noises.

This cat was not a happy camper.

Normally he hides under the daybed, crouched on top of the boxes I keep under there. This time, he managed to shove one of the boxes away from the wall, so he could squeeze himself in behind it. Note, these are the boxes with the Leif & Thorn books in them — they’re heavy.

It took a solid 2 hours after the Horrible Strangers left before the fluff poked his nose out of his hiding spot. And then he went back under. It was a few more hours, and a few more exploratory peeks, before he was walking around the place like normal again.

Poor guy. He’s had such a nice year, and now this.

Black Widow (no specific spoilers)

Family had a bunch of Potential Outings planned, but the only one we actually did was seeing Black Widow on the big screen.

The building had small groups of other patrons; our theater was flat-out empty except for us. (So if you tentatively want to catch a movie but are worried about large groups in enclosed spaces…give it a shot.)

The movie was good! Mostly takes place during the period when Natasha was on the run after Civil War, gives her a solo adventure that fleshes out her backstory — both parts we knew about, and parts that are new. Funny, heartwarming when it wanted to be, makes good use of that Disney “sure, blow up all the cars you want” money.

I’m usually more into the magic and sci-fi sides of the MCU, and this was a Cap-style action-spy-thriller, no super-science beyond what you can use for “excuses to do cooler stunts.” So it wasn’t an instant favorite the way Captain Marvel was.

But it was good at what it wanted to be. It wasn’t a perfunctory “I want to support the general idea of more female superheroes getting their own solo movies” thing. It was fun, and I liked it. Marvel did good.

Speaking of Marvel:

Loki (also no specific spoilers)

The whole 6-episode series is out now, and I…

…didn’t…like it?

Which is wild, because it has all the ingredients for a thing I should like. Magic! Sci-fi! Time travel nonsense! Alternate versions of the same character having to deal with each other! Significant chunks of action on alien planets! Major queer and/or female characters! Shapeshifters! Quippy banter! Sassy, petty villain getting dragged kicking and screaming into a redemption arc!

The first episode sure felt like it was going to deliver on all those things in a way I enjoyed. And then every subsequent cliffhanger was like “okay…there were a couple specific scenes that are fun, but…is this going anywhere? This big moment should’ve been good, but why didn’t it have buildup? That dramatic setup we did get, why hasn’t it had any payoff? This weird bit, I can think of some in-universe reasons why it was weird, so is it setting up one of those, or is it just sloppy writing?”

And the answer was always “it’s just sloppy writing.”

…to be fair, I think sometimes the answer was COVID. There were scenes where you could see “none of the actors except the 2 leads are getting within 6 feet of each other, and it’s really restricting what the narrative can do.”

But that doesn’t explain all of it.

Feels like it should’ve been a full-length season. Make it a procedural, have Loki and company facing a Time Shenanigans case-of-the-week, and have the characters/relationships develop slowly over each case. Then at the end we get a multi-episode arc where the plot is all interconnected, the developments all come to a head, the status quo gets flipped over.

Instead we got pieces of that arc without any connective tissue. You get prickly suspicious characters skipping from “tense, mistrustful opponents” to “tentative admissions of Friendship” when they’ve only known each other for, what, a few days? With no tangible reason for their feelings to change. It’s just “this is the part of the story where that happens, so it’s happened.”

Ugh. It could’ve been so good! And it just…wasn’t.

…and speaking of “things I just finished that didn’t have connective tissue”:

Check, Please!

The famous, award-winning, funding-record-making, m/m webcomic? That I didn’t read during the whole length of its run. Finally picked up the print volumes when I saw them at the library, and that’s how I got through the whole thing.

It was really thin. Cute and fluffy and disjointed. Kept setting up potential conflicts, but then skimming right over them.

I flipped back through some fail_fandomanon threads from when the updates were being released live, and it was a recurring theme for new readers to go “wait, was this just…resolved offscreen? Or did I accidentally skip a page?” (I was reading a physical book and would occasionally wonder if it skipped a page. It never did.)

…unsurprisingly, the author was in Hockey RPF fandom, and a lot of fans were bringing their interests from Hockey RPF fandom. So you would have character show up in the background, and readers would be like “aha, I can tell this is an expy of Real Player X, I enjoy him because I’m transferring my fannish feelings about Real Player X onto him.” Then they’d still be invested even if he only appeared 2-3 times and never did anything significant in-universe.

Reading it over the course of a couple afternoons — and with zero personal background in who these IRL hockey players are — was a breezy experience.

But, wow, I totally get why it was so intense and frustrating for so many people reading it in realtime. It would’ve been a constant cycle of “sets you up for something interesting, keeps you on the hook for a week or a month or several months for the next update, dashes your hopes when the setup gets deflated or sidestepped or offscreen-resolved, but hey, now there’s setup for another something interesting, maybe if I just wait for the next update in a week or a month or–“

It did work well enough for enough readers to bring the author buckets of money, though. And she delivered a complete series by the end — everyone who backed a Kickstarter to get a book, got a book — which is more than you can say for a lot of webcomickers who’ve taken people’s money. As many faults as I could pick apart in the writing: you go rake in that cash, girl.

Okay, to end this on a brighter note:

Leverage: Redemption

Sequel to the original TV series. Not a reboot, a retcon, or a reimagining — just “it’s been a decade in-universe, let’s pick back up with these characters and see how they’re doing now.”

And, wow. It’s the rare follow-up that’s so well-done, and so worth it.

The first 8 episodes are streaming free (at least in the US). The cases-of-the-week have the same “yeah, we didn’t fix the system, but we gave a complicated and satisfying comeuppance to this one exploitative scumbag” vibe of Leverage Classic. There are bits that make it clear it’s set in the 2020s — a Big Pharma creep who took CARES Act money, a reference to a politician who sounds like an AOC expy, that kind of thing — but it’s not “chasing the trending headline” in a way that’ll make it feel dated and irrelevant too fast.

They killed off Nate (his actor has sexual-assault accusations, makes sense not to employ the guy), and the other characters miss him in a way that’s present without taking over the show. Brought Sophie/Parker/Eliot back together. I assume Hardison’s actor has a job with a better-paying show, because he guest-starred briefly to establish that he’s still around, then brought in his also-genius-hacker kid-sister replacement on the team.

They also picked up a not-quite-Nate-replacement — he’s a newbie but learning the ropes fast, and he can fill the role any time they need a clean-cut business-savvy white guy.

After Elliot’s actor did a stint on the crew in The Librarians, it’s delightful to me that Flynn’s actor is the new guy on the Leverage crew. Please let the creators find an excuse to cameo Eve, Exekiel, and Cassandra in the next half of the series. That would be crossover catnip.

20 quarantine questions meme (with lots of spoons) (and not the metaphorical kind)

1. Are you an essential worker?

…I mean, I’d say Yes for society as a whole. But No for immediate survival needs in the midst of a pandemic.

2. How many drinks have you had since the quarantine started?

Alcohol, none. Don’t enjoy it. Energy drinks and sodas are a different story. In theory I could give up drinking them now that I never need to be awake at any specific time, but I…have not.

3. If you have kids… Are they driving you nuts?

No kids, but my cat keeps coming up to pester me, and then I have to stop whatever I’m doing and brush him for five minutes. (He literally did it while I was typing that sentence.)

And he seems to be experimenting with a strategy of “pat the human lightly with one paw for more attention,” but hasn’t totally worked out how to do that with his claws in.

A cuddly cat

4. What new hobby have you taken up during this?

Polyphasic sleep!

(Not totally new, I did it for a while once…all the way back when I was in high school, during summer vacation. Couldn’t keep it up for long because RL schedules intruded, but I remember being pretty happy with it.)

Started on April 8th with the regular 30-minute naps every 4 hours. Some of them end up being “30 minutes of lying very still in a dark room and not falling sleep before the timer goes off,” and so far one of them has always turned into “spend this whole 4-hour period asleep,” but it’s still closer to 6 hours of sleep per day than 8-9. We’ll see if I can condition myself to get it down to 3.
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Some pick-me-ups on this, the day of my cat’s adoptionversary

Marshmallow Fluff on April 6, 2019:

Hiding fluff, 2019

And on April 6, 2020:

Relaxed fluff, 2020

From “hiding in panic under the furniture” to “stretching his paws and having a nap on my leg.” At least one (1) thing has gotten better in the world since last year.

Fancomic of Spider-Man’s social-distancing, grocery-delivering adventures in quarantined NYC.

From the creator of “Cabin Pressure” comes “Cabin Fever”, a series of short videos by Arthur Shappey documenting his time in self-isolation. Now at 8 episodes, still going strong.

And if you want some completely-unrelated low-key fluff, have a playlist of my favorite adorable animal videos. (Knew I bookmarked those for a reason…)

A monumental Fluffdate before the solemn link roundup

Earlier this afternoon…a breakthrough.

I keep the fluff’s brush on the couch, so when he comes close enough I can hold it out for him to sniff. Sometimes even get away with a light stroke — not enough to actually reach any tangles, all it achieves is reassuring him that it’s Not Dangerous — before he darts away.

So he hops down from the windowsill, and I offer the brush for the usual investigation, and…

For a solid five minutes he just rolled around under the brush, twisting so I could get different angles, head butting up against my arm. There was, briefly but unmistakably, purring.

At first I was sure he’d lose his nerve if I reached for the phone to take any pictures. Then I risked it. He stuck around. I snapped these adorable shots. He kept it up.

It has been almost exactly 51 week since I brought him home. Just shy of a solid year. Six months ago, when people asked if he was letting me pet him yet, I told them it would be at least another six months — well, look at him now.

I got a fair amount of loose fur out of his coat. Even managed to do a bit of bare-handed skritching, long enough for me to confirm that he is Very Soft, before I got a light swat to let me know he was Done. (He sat around on the couch with me for a while afterward, though, so it wasn’t like he was mad about it.)

Wonder how long it’ll take before he comes back for more. I guess we’ll find out. Bet it won’t be as long as 51 weeks this time, though.


…the rest of this is COVID-19 news links, ordered by date.

(So, a timeline of what it’s like to live through the point in every disaster movie where the experts say “we’ve scienced up some great preventative measures here, but please, you have to do them Right Now or it’ll be too late.”)

March 11: “From a woman whose symptoms started with a fever, to a man who said he was an inch from death, coronavirus survivors have begun speaking out about the worldwide pandemic.

March 18: “Gen. Dave Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff, confirmed that military cargo planes were moving coronavirus testing kits, but did not give specific details during a Wednesday briefing at the Pentagon. The general acknowledged that ‘we’ve just made a pretty significant movement into Memphis.’” …From Italy. You know, they need those in Italy.

March 22: “People say Contagion is prescient. We just saw the science. The whole epidemiological community has been warning everybody for the past 10 or 15 years that it wasn’t a question of whether we were going to have a pandemic like this. It was simply when.” Interview with Dr. Larry Brilliant, the epidemiologist who helped eradicate smallpox.

March 23: “Product distributed by Diamond [i.e. comics, especially floppy single issues, to local comic shops] and slated for an on-sale date of April 1st or later will not be shipped to retailers until further notice.

March 24: “This particular group of Chicago workers was fed up with [Amazon] failing to provide paid time off or vacation it promised to part-time workers. They organized; Amazon resisted — and at last, the coronavirus acted as tiebreaker.” Good for them.

March 24 again: “‘We saw his press conference. It was on a lot, actually,’ she said. ‘Trump kept saying it was basically pretty much a cure.’ […] They mixed a small amount of the substance with liquid to drink. Within 20 minutes, both fell ill. Her husband could not be revived in hospital and she remains in critical care.” It’s been obvious for years that Trump is a compulsive liar, and everyone who’s still ignoring that gets horrifically damaged by it eventually, but this must be some kind of record for the fastest trajectory from “trusting something he said” to “horrible consequences.”

March 25: “A 52-year-old man [from Durban, South Africa] who allegedly tested positive for Covid-19 but went back to work, has been arrested for attempted murder. ” Sounds right. If a country has specific bioterrorism laws, time to start charging people under those, too.

Various dates, on each individual photo: Reuters slideshow of the temporary hospitals and medical facilities being hastily set up around the world. It is tragic that we need these, but amazing to see the competence and dedication that’s getting them up.

May I offer you some non-awful links in this trying time

First, a quick Fluffdate: As you may remember, back in February my cat had a Vet Ordeal, and came home with, among other things, a therapeutic shave.

After he got back I rearranged some things around the apartment…which opened up The Warm Spot.

It’s a part of the floor that’s right over a hot-water pipe. Unsurprisingly, this is Marshmallow Fluff’s new favorite place to sleep. Even before I put a blanket there.

Well, as of last night, the fluff’s fur has grown back enough that he’s officially resumed a position I’ve only seen from longhair cats: Sleeping On Your Back To Air Out Your Tummy.

Look at that conked-out little face. Look at those cozy little paws.

Some links to other uplifting things to look at:

Scribd, a service for digital books/audiobooks/etc, is offering free 30-day trials with no credit card information necessary. I’m listening to books that my library doesn’t have on Overdrive, starting with Gideon the Ninth. (It’s extremely good, you guys.)

ComiXology Unlimited has gone up to free 60-day trials. (Check out the PDF downloads of But I’m A Cat Person, let’s find out what kind of royalties I get from Unlimited readership.)

Streaming platforms during quarantine (video)

Arthur Shappey, of Cabin Pressure, doing a series of “Cabin Fever” check-ins from OJS Airlines self-isolation (also video)

Twin toddlers having a solemn discussion of quarantine (adorable video)

People with recent construction or remodeling projects are advised to check your leftover supplies — some are finding unused masks. (Call hospitals before bringing anything in, to make sure you have the kind they need.)

Someone kindly masked up the Make Way For Ducklings statues in the Boston Public Garden. (Tiny fake masks, not human-sized real masks, don’t worry.)

Vintage photo of a family masked-up against the 1918 flu epidemic. That’s the archival entry on Calisphere — I saw it on Tumblr but wanted to be sure it was legit. (The Tumblr version was inset with a close-up on the cat.)