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Erin Listens: the Magic Tavern and other podcasts March 28, 2017

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Hello From The Magic Tavern just got so intense. There was an epic battle in episode 100…then a bunch of interludes, including one from the Cowboy Dimension that had me dying of muffled laughter at work…and now it’s officially designated Season 2, and, yowza.

If you’re not already listening (and if you’re not allergic to shows with a whole lot of butt jokes), you should start.

***

Deep into the backlog of Love and Justice. It’s kind of…uplifting?…to hear about how much they love Crystal. Like, I can listen to them gush about the things that were emotionally affecting, and don’t have to see the actual animation, so I can imagine they’re podcasting from an alternate dimension where it didn’t make me sad.

They’re too hard on the ’92 anime — by which I mean, they complain about things it objectively can’t help. Of course the first season doesn’t have much sense of “shared past” between the senshi and the Dark Kingdom. The animators didn’t know about it! Naoko hadn’t written it yet!

On the other hand, I regularly feel like Sailor Business (which I’m all caught up with now) is too easy on the ’92 anime. So it kinda balances out nicely.

***

I’m listening to both of those at 1.2x speed, because the hosts tend to meander. Same with Yo, Is This Racist? — it’s just too slow otherwise.

…also, it talks a lot about the awfulness of current politics. I kinda have to psych myself up before listening. And/or say something like “once I get through one of these, I’ll reward myself with the next Magic Tavern episode.”

More-polished and better-edited regulars on my MP3 player: the Savage Lovecast, and The West Wing Weekly. Those get played at regular speed. Both make references to the political awfulness — it’s an inherent side effect of their premises — but in measured and relatively-contained doses.

***

Still listening to Illusionoid, and Kakos Industries, although I stopped saving the episodes afterward. Neither one is so absorbing that I’d want to do a re-listen.

…in fact, the only series on this list where I’m holding onto the episodes is Magic Tavern. Did a re-listen just a few months ago, in preparation for Yuletide fic. It’s highly re-listenable.

Related, a couple anons on FFA were talking about Republic of Heaven Community Radio, and one mentioned the weaknesses in book 2. I stepped in with this:

Honestly, I’d go back and give it a full-body rewrite if canon hadn’t been such a painful kick in the teeth.

I can see the soft spots, can feel when the pacing sputters, I know there are ways it could have more consistency and stronger throughlines. I just…don’t have the stomach to go near it.

That’s not an empty promise — anyone who knew me from fake-news fandom might remember that I did a full-body rewrite on a longfic there. But, yeah. Not in the cards, not this time.

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Scandal: what innocent person is Olivia Pope yelling at today? June 14, 2016

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When you need a distraction from real-life people being horrible, there’s always Scandal.

Jumping back in with episode 8, which focuses heavily on international drama with a fake Middle Eastern country that I admit I was not tracking very closely. Except to think “hm, it’s halfway through the episode and Olivia is yelling at the foreign guy who wants asylum, that probably means he’ll be revealed as an innocent hero by the end.” (Called it. Bonus: three-quarters of the way in, his blood is literally on her hands.)

Vice President Decent Person does something mildly devious! She’s so cute. I hope this is a growth arc where she’ll learn to hold her own amidst other people’s machinations. I mean, that’s a figure of speech — I don’t actually hope for things in this show — it’s just something that would be cool.

Episode 9 brings us Mellie filibustering the budget, which is…actually kind of epic? It’s in defense of Planned Parenthood’s funding. In the political fairyland of Scandal, this is one of the things Republicans will passionately stand up for.

And when she starts to fall apart, it’s compounded by Vice President Decent Person sashaying into the room and taking over the floor for a lengthy bathroom-break-providing question. Oh gosh, she really is coming into her own.

How do I get a show that’s 100% VP Decency being awesome, with no ten-minute interludes of Fitz and Olivia screaming at each other over the latest angst in their terrible relationship?

Episode 10 has Olivia and company scrambling to track down yet another guy who turns out to be innocent. This one dies while they’re looking! And the killer, the real villain-of-the-week, turns out to be a tag-team of Olivia’s sometime-boyfriend and Olivia’s evil dad! You would think, one of these seasons, she would stop trying to have a friendly relationship with her evil dad and clue in to the fact that he’s never going to stop being evil.

(A couple episodes later Huck calls her out on it. Too bad it won’t take.)

Tentatively here for Mellie and Olivia teaming up. Their relationship has been horrible, but their respective relationships with Fitz have been even more horrible, so they may as well bond over that.

100% here for VP Decency flat-out refusing a presidential run. And sad to see her get steered into it, because she’s too good for this place. Although Portia de Rossi calling her “that muppet” was so delightfully Veronica.

I’ve pointed out evil-mirrorverse parallels with The West Wing before, and now we’ve got a biggie. Cyrus pulls a Josh, stepping away from the outgoing administration to work on molding a charismatic Hispanic candidate with a passion for education into the winner of the next election. Except that where Josh does it with campaign stops and policy planning and shaking lots of hands in New Hampshire, Cyrus does it by…hiring a gunman to attack a museum his candidate is visiting, and genuinely shoot people in the process, in order to stage a media-spotlight-grabbing hero moment. As you do.

Erin Watches: Medium, The Good Wife, The West Wing, and more September 1, 2015

Posted by Erin Ptah in Erin Watches, Fandom, Personal.
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Going through my music collection in alphabetical order, instead of cherry-picking a playlist of songs I want to hear…there’s a lot of these that I wonder “why do I even have this??”

Had to drop Medium. There was plenty to like about it — protagonist was cool, I liked that she had kids and they interacted in age-appropriate ways with her work, I liked that there was a general population of psychic people she would run into once in a while (even though they’re still too rare for the general public to buy the idea).

Buuuut the crimes got too gory for me to stomach. (See also: why I will never pick up Hannibal.)

On the plus side: I mainlined The Good Wife recently, and, wow, that was so great.

It’s about a lawyer married to a politician, and those two spheres of her life interact like The West Wing hybridized with Boston Legal — incorporating good parts of each. So much competence porn! With a female lead! (Who has female friends!)

Bonus: she’s an atheist, and it’s so well-portrayed. It’s low-key, no soapboxing or strawman arguments about it, but when the topic comes up, it’s there. And she’s not guilted about it — the narrative doesn’t act like she’s less moral because of it, and she’s not deep-down Yearning For Something To Believe In.

The supporting cast is great. The ensembles of judges/recurring clients/opposing lawyers, all with their signature quirks and weirdnesses. (“I’m just a simple Michigan girl, you’ll have to talk me through this…”) (“In your opinion?”)

Chloe from Don’t Trust The B—- in Apt 23 guest-starred (as a client) as the moderator of an Ashley-Madison-type website, which is perfect.

Vague spoilers for Season 5: I love the big twist midway through. So many shows save that kind of Shocking Twist for a season finale, and if they tease “tonight: someone will die!!” in an earlier episode, it’ll be a throwaway character or otherwise not a big deal. This show, no, they went there — unambiguously, in a way there was no going back from — and gave themselves the whole rest of the season to explore the fallout. Not to mention, the will-they-or-won’t-they tension up until that point had been such a stock arc — but how many series have pulled this in the middle of it?

(I should say that I liked the character, this isn’t about any animosity towards them, it’s just, wow, that was good storytelling.)

Finished my West Wing rewatch. Still good. Smart and funny, CJ should run everything, and my Josh-and-Donna feelings are still right there the second time around.

Although, wow, did season 7 ever drag. It’s like the Daily Show: a lot of it can be re-watched, but once you get deep into an election season it’s just tiring, because so much of the original interest came from tension over who was going to win. The debate episode is the only one I flat-out skipped.

Plus, the main characters were scattered across the country and everyone was fighting. So that was draining and unappealing.

I do want to praise “Noel” for being no-less gut-wrenching even when you knew where it was going. (And when you knew it was one of many, many points/events/reveals that would almost never come up again.)

Tried to watch both Alpha House and Veep, hoping to find some more of the same magic.

No luck. Neither one is as smart, which would be fine since they’re both supposed to be straight-up comedies, except neither one is all that funny, either =/

Also gave up on Diabolik Lovers, because I was sold on “heroine has dark romantic/sexual tension with bad-for-you-but-so-hot vampire boys” and got “the vampire boys are just kinda mean with no appeal, and it’s hard for the heroine to have tension with anyone when she has all the characterization of a cardboard cutout.”

It’s like I was promised a show with seven Jareths, and got seven Edward Cullens. This isn’t what I ordered, waiter! Send it back to the kitchen.

Erin Listens/Watches: Thrilling Adventure Hour, The West Wing, The Daily Show August 5, 2015

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I’ve spent the past several days staying up most of the night, because when the sun is up it’s sometimes too hot to do anything but sleep. Definitely too hot to have my laptop running.

Petition to cut the rest of August short and move straight to September, please.

The Thrilling Adventure Hour has at last released the final episode of Moonshine Holler! Never my favorite segment, the formula was kinda wearing, so the one thing that would’ve drawn back my interest was “we finally get a reunion with the Hobo Princess, and the actual plot progression that follows.”

And we did! And I really enjoyed how it played out! Especially the reveal of where the Hobo Princess was this whole time, and what she’s been doing — that was excellent. Maybe in the comics we can get a spinoff following her side of the story? Because I would be all over that.

Rewatching The West Wing with 5+ more years of TV-watching experience is so much wilder than the first time around.

Agent Coulson works for the FBI in this universe! They just appointed liberal lion Patty Hewes to the Supreme Court, and hired Ms. Frizzle to be the President’s secretary! Delusional Republican Sally Langston takes a turn being a rational Democrat. The White House staff receive a guest who clearly just walked in from Sacred Heart Teaching Hospital, and another who must have flown in from Lima, Ohio.

(There are multiple fics on the AO3 where TWW!Coulson is a secret identity of MCU!Coulson. Fandom, you have not disappointed.)

Meanwhile, I’m having Josh-and-Donna feelings all over again. (I’m so happy that Donna’s actress is now a senator on Alpha House.)

News Your Own Adventure was a good Daily Show special.

The Whitely Show is an adorable Nightly Show exclusive.

I uploaded the Indecision 2008 joint election special, for anyone who wants a good throwback.

I’m so not ready for this to be over.

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

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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.

RIP June 2, 2012

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
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Kathryn Joosten.

Also known as Wisteria Lane’s Karen McKlusky and President Bartlet’s Mrs. Landingham :(

The good, the bad, and the shiny December 30, 2008

Posted by Erin Ptah in Fandom, Meta, Personal.
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Good: My student visa has arrived. Come February, I’m going to New Zealand.

Bad: My computer got a Trojan. It’s currently behaving, but it may or may not actually be clean.

Shiny: The Yuletide haul is in! Recs under the fold:

(more…)

Happy birthday, Bilbo and Frodo! September 22, 2008

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*raises a glass to hobbits everywhere*

The Emmys were lackluster, but the highlight of the evening was the Stephen Colbert’n’Jason Jones pictures from the afterparty:

Is can be moar macros tiem here.

In other news, the Muppets are poised for a comeback, and about time too, as some kids don’t know who Kermit is.

And Obama meets President Bartlet, courtesy of Aaron Sorkin:

BARTLET A huge number of Americans thought I thought I was superior to them.

OBAMA And?

BARTLET I was.

Happy Newspaper Carrier Day! September 4, 2008

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Re: the subject: I’m Not Making This Up. Now, on to the news!

Dude is building a castle. Kind of awesome.

Headline: “Fandom’s Rising Price.” It’s not what you think: they’re talking about sports.

Awesome things about Sarah Palin, for people who disagree with her on every issue: (1) She’s bringing the hypocrites out of the woodwork. (2) Her office is decorated with dead bears. (Stephen should be thrilled.)

Cats are growing ‘wings’. I’m looking forward to the macros.

Headline: 2 [college presidents] Withdraw From Petition To Rethink Drinking Age. Second sentence of the article: “But 15 more from across the country have signed on.”

Animated West Wing, written by people who evidently Know Fandom.

Say what you like about Maureen Dowd; this is funny.

Is anyone else disappointed by the cheesiness of the graphics in the new Star Wars interquel? Lucasfilm should have the tech and the cash to do better. Especially when we’ve finally clawed our way up out of the Uncanny Valley.

Harry Potter compared to Left Behind. Best line: “Left Behind is Protestant and Harry Potter is Catholic.” And they’re right.