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Cat Principles

I'm not on Tumblr, and hence can't really get into the entire "reblogging" thing, but this post was really cool, so I'll shamelessly copy it here:

I’m trying hard to live by Cat Principles.
1- I am glorious above all things
2- Eat when hungry, sleep when sleepy, play when bored
3- Affection is given and received on my terms and only mine
4- Show displeasure clearly.
5- NO
6- Demand the things you want. If they aren’t given, demand them again, but louder this time.
7- If you are touched when you don’t want to be, say so. If they continue to touch you, make them bleed.

What do you say, Sarah? Sound good?


The Core Six He-Man Characters

After my review of the terrible DC Universe VS Masters of the Universe comic miniseries, I returned to the original Filmation series to watch some episodes... maybe it was just the contrast and the knowledge of how really terrible these characters were treated by DC, but all of a sudden the ol' cartoon seemed better than it ever had. There is a certain charm to the He-Man franchise when it's allowed to be a little campy and silly... and, inspired by the show, I drew a picture of what I think are the "core six," the main characters/heroes of the franchise:

Here, of course, we have He-Man on top of Battlecat, while Orko floats beside him, the Sorceress flies above, and Man-At-Arms and Teela stand together. I've given all the characters a slight redesign, drawn them more as how I think they might look if I'd been given the task of redesigning them. The Sorceress is the closest to her original Filmation character; the main difference is that she's bare-armed and that her outfit is white instead of multi-colored... because I think she looks better in white.

(I'm thinking of doing a picture with the core villains too; that'd be Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, Trapjaw, Beastman and possibly Merman. Basically the ones I presented back in my review of the Filmation cartoon!)

Time for another one of Roo's Reaction Reviews!

I believe I've mentioned, once or twice in the past, that I have a soft spot for the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe franchise.

Now, this doesn't mean that I think it's particularly good. In fact, as a concept it's pretty nonsensical and not all that thought.out; the classic toys are a mixed bag and the revamped toys (twice revamped!) even more so, and the classic eighties cartoon was hilariously bad. The reboot cartoon from 2002 was a lot more polished, with higher production values and less absurdities, but still had flaws and plot holes you could drive a truck through. But there's a certain charm to the franchise in all its cheesiness, and especially the '80s cartoon has a sort of quirky appeal with its unique blending of sci-fi and fantasy, which many other franchises have tried to imitate but few if any have managed to duplicate.

The characters may not make any "Top 10 Most Brilliant And Complex Heroes/Villains" lists, but they're darned likeable all the same. I always appreciated that He-Man, while hailed as a Paragon of Good and looking like a tanned, blonde Conan the Barbarian, was basically this laid-back guy who never took himself too seriously and had a witty comment about everything -- or how Skeletor, far from being your average gloomy Dark Lord, was this sniggering comic opera villain who always got the funniest lines but could still be a massive threat. (In fact, Skeletor was the highlight of the 2002 show because he was still joking around and cracking one-liners but was still a legitimate menace.)

There's been attempts at revamping Masters of the Universe -- or MOTU, to be cool -- again after the 2002 series failed to bring in the audience -- but seriously, apart from some good-looking toys (I still kinda want Orko from the "MOTU Classics" line) the attempts have been rather tragic. And why? Well, a big reason why is that without fail, they've all taken themselves much too seriously. The Image comics had some good artwork, but otherwise they were incredibly dull and (with a few exceptions) with no real character at all. I read the proposed script for the 2000-something MOTU movie, and it was terrible; just this generic and hyper-serious attempt at an "epic barbarian fantasy" with no similarity to the original franchise apart from some of the character names. I'm glad that movie was never made; it would have made the 80s live-action movie look positively brilliant by comparison. And that movie only had a handful of the familiar characters and much of it took place on Earth and starred two generic 80s teenagers. (They're still trying to make a movie, but hopefully it'll be at least a little less terrible.)

One revamp that was made, though, and is still ongoing, is the comic book series published by DC. And boy, is it bad. And it's not bad in a charming and entertaining way, like the 80s cartoon or to a lesser extent the 2002 cartoon -- they were at least fun. But the new DC incarnation of He-Man is just as joyless, humorless and plain out painfully bad as 95% of everything DC does these days.

Yeah, I've mentioned once or twice before that I think DC has pretty much lost all enjoyability, too. Personally I blame Batman -- one dark, brooding and "serious" hero gets popular, and so DC thinks that all their properties have to be dark, brooding and "serious." This it He-Man, for crying out loud! It should at least retain some camp factor! But no, the DC He-Man is just a disgusting and depressing tale of boring villains, unlikeable heroes (using the word "heroes" in the loosest sense here) and bleak, depressing storylines that makes you wish that a comet would just hit Eternia and end everybody's misery.

In fact, it feels a lot like they're trying to be Game of Thrones and failing miserably at it.

Yeah, not a fan.

But, today we're going to look at a spin-off/crossover between this MOTU incarnation and the rest of the DC Universe, from Keith Giffen (plot), Tony Bedard (script) and Pop Mhan (art):


Yeah, my initial reaction too was that this is a pretty much a rehash of this comic from the 'eighties:

The exact same concept, just made all serious and dramatic and "epic" and stretched out over six issues, and trying to pretend that it's for adults. I'll admit it, I don't have high hopes for this, but I'll try to give it a fair chance.

So let's see how it reads!

Reaction reviews to all six issues behind the cut!Collapse )

Fanfic: Voldemort meets Death

Another short fanfic snippet -- around 1200 words -- which is a crossover between Harry Potter and Discworld. It takes place immediately after Voldemort's death, and I'm guessing from the title that you already know which Discworld character he meets then....

Story behind the cut...Collapse )

Sewing Needles

Do you have some things you keep buying because you think you need them when in fact you don't? Like small items you think you don't have any of at home, at least you couldn't find any when you needed them just yesterday -- and then you get home with the new batch only to discover that you do have tons of them, you were just looking in the wrong place?

No? Might just be me then.

With me it's sewing needles, or sewing kits. I didn't even recognize the pattern until this week, but it's been like this for years. I'll be out shopping for things and in one of the stores where they sell all sorts of minor things I'll find a sewing kit, or a sheet of sewing needles, and I'll go "sewing needles, and thread, I need that!" and then I'll buy them. Only to realize when I get home that I have tons of them already. Or, sometimes, I'll actually need a sewing kit, and not be able to find any needles or thread at home, and so I'll go out and buy some -- only to come back home and realize I wasn't looking in the right place, and I have tons already.

And, and this is the annoying part, still when I need a sewing needle I can't find one.

I mention this now because I'm going to another Summer LARP next week, and am sewing a new costume for myself. (I like sewing my own costumes, and I always sew them by hand... partly because I don't have a sewing machine and partly because hand-stitched costumes are just that much more authentic, especially when the LARP is medieval-fantasy.)

Oh well, at least I have needles enough for now!


I Am Elemental; What's My Character?

Say hello to the first wave of heroines from IAmElemental! From left to right, we have Industry, Energy, Fear, Honesty (she's the one with the wings), Persistence, Enthusiasm and Bravery!

If you haven't heard of IAmElemental before, let me bring you up to speed: I Am Elemental Action Figures for Girls (link to the official website) is a toyline and potential franchise started by two American mothers named Julie Kerwin and Dawn Nadeau. Dissatisfied with the action figures available to their kids (especially the fact that female action figures are extremely rare, and the ones who do exist tend to be all about boobs).

Hang on, let me just quote Julie Kerwin here, she'll explain the basic idea:

It's not superheroes, it's superpowers. All the superpowers we could ever want or need are already inside each one of us. Instead of the periodic table of elements, humans have a whole other set of building blocks, the Elements of Power. Armed with this knowledge, we researched, planned and outlined a series of action figures, and then we searched out people with powers to share. Some helped us design our visual identity, and others helped us to personify the powers. Using Joan of Arc as a muse (because real heroes walk among us) we designed our first set of figures -- figures that embodied the components of courage, stood for character without being reduced to characters, were more heroine than hooters, and most important, were fun to play with.

So there ya have it. In a world where gender segregation is worse than ever in the toy market (toys weren't this gendered a couple of decades ago), it's great to see someone trying to buck that trend. I never subscribed to the idea that there should be exclusive toys for boys or girls, and IAmElemental seems a good start here. And also, one of their taglines is the coolest tagline ever: "We have superpowers -- want some?" You can't tell me that's not awesome.

Seems like a lot of people agree with me too, because the Kickstarter project to fund these toys went to 400% of their stated goal within two days. It really seems like people want to see this franchise and these toys!

Mind you, I'm not quite sure what Kerwin means means when she says the figures are meant to "standing for character without being reduced to characters." I mean... "reduced" to characters? I like characters! Characters are awesome!

And this leads to the big problem I have with this toyline.

I mean, don't get me wrong! I applaud the idea, it sounds really neat, and I like how this seems to be about the empowerment of everyone rather than the normal "these people are more powerful, and hence better, than you" thing I get from a lot of superhero-themed stuff. Not to mention, the boob-to-waist-to-hip ratio is much more realistic and makes the girls look more normally athletic than just sex fantasies.

But... well... These figures all look exactly alike! Apart from the color and the hairstyles and the accessories (which are interchangeable anyway) and small variations in what kinds of boots/gloves they wear, they're the exact same! Same body, same face, same blank expression. The only one that actually stands out a bit from the rest is Fear, and that's only because she's several shades darker than the rest and wears a mysterious hood. As for the rest of them -- remove the accessories (including Honesty's wings) and take a black-and-white photo, and then try to tell Enthusiasm from Energy, or Honesty from Persistence. Not easy, is it?!

I mean, it's probably an economical thing; it's much cheaper to have them share a mold than it would be to create a separate and distinct mold for every figure, but I dunno, since they managed to give them different boots and gloves, I kinda wish they'd bothered to give them different faces. Even the Ninja Turtles at least got different expressions!

For all the talk about "character," I'm not sure there's a whole lot of that there, since these figures are completely interchangeable. And each figure is basically just described by a vague "empowering" statement about it, which is less about character and more about, well, power.

Now, according to the creators, it's actually meant to be about the power -- these figures aren't individuals, but representations of the powers they symbolize, that is inside everyone: "In the IAmElemental universe, the girl herself is the superhero – and she has all the superpowers she will ever need already inside of her." Which is cool; I'm sort of envisioning a Herman's Head thing, or like in that new Pixar film that's coming out in 2015, Inside Out, where the action takes place inside the head of an eleven-year-old girl and the main characters are all physical representations of her emotions, such as Joy, Anger, Sadness and Disgust. (That movie sounds cool, by the way, I can't wait to see it.)

But I'm wondering if they might not be taking it a little too far when they start sneering at how "we live in a world where product tie-ins are a de facto part of the average media marketing plan, and children are spoon-fed a perfectly-packaged storyline with the purchase of every action figure," and ask "Why live vicariously through someone else? Why not be a real, live Superhero?"

Well... if you're going to put it like that, why have the action figures at all? Why not just... be the superhero yourself? This way it just sounds like "don't bother to buy these action figures, they're not even characters, and you should be a superhero yourself anyway so they're completely unnecessary." And I'm sure that's not what you want to say: after all, I thought the point of this was to have more action figures for girls, not to totally denounce the idea.

I know that if I was a little kid playing with these, I would want them to be characters. Not just abstract representations of aspects of myself, but separate characters with their own strengths and flaws, because that's what's fun. This might not be such a big problem, mind; when I was playing with dolls, action figures and toys when I was little I usually had no problems thinking up names, personalities and roles for them to play no matter if I actually knew their "official" names/personalities or not.

What's more, I think that girls need more characters, and more stories. Stories with characters that they can get to know, to identify with or learn from the mistakes of, characters that they can know on their own premises and not the boys' premises. Boys, by contrast, already have a ton of characters, of all types; characters they can admire or laugh at or see themselves in or identify with; see every single story or franchise ever. The girls? They get the "token girl" who is either the damsel in distress or the love interest/lust object, and often this is a "strong female character" which basically means that she has no flaws and is perfect, and a "role model." A role model who isn't actually a person, just a vague collection of "strengths" that ultimately isn't even there on her own premise, because her main role is to be admired by the boys.

What I would like to see, what I think girls deserve, is female characters that are allowed to be characters, that they can perhaps see themselves in. Characters that may be role models, but are allowed to be flawed, or silly, or fundamentally mistaken about something, or have trouble behaving themselves perfectly -- that are allowed to not be perfect, but can still be heroic. Because that might clue the girls in that they don't have to be perfect in order to be awesome. Goodness knows that the rest of society is going to put enough pressure on those poor girls to be "perfect" anyway.

So, since I think even adults need to play and pretend every once in a while, ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to make up some characters here, and present my interpretations of the seven Elements of Courage, as I think their personalities might be, based on their appearances, names and powers. To give them their own strengths and flaws and quirks.

Meet the CHARACTERS under the cut...Collapse )

Once again...'s May 17th, Norway's Constitution day! Bit of a shame it's on a Saturday, since that means one less day off, but... oh well! Let's just enjoy the day, and laugh and sing and have fun!

What a funny world it is,
The world is full of funniness,
We laugh at how much fun it is,
As you can see.

Every morning when we wake,
Our funny bones begin to ache,
We count the times we shake and quake,
With hee, hee, hee!

When somebody goes "ah-choo!",
It makes us think of running shoes,
Or else the sum of two plus two,
And ho, ho, ho!
Ha, ha, ha!
Heh, heh, heh!
Hee, hee, hee!

Did you hear the one about
The person who went walking out,
And then he came back home again?
Ha, ha, ha!

Stop me if you've heard this one,
I met a man who had a son,
He also had a daughter too!
Hoo, hoo, hoo!

When we see the setting sun,
It makes us think of eating buns,
And of the number thirty-one!
And ho, ho, ho!
Ha, ha, ha!
Heh, heh, heh!
Hee, hee, hee!

What a funny world it is,
The world is full of funniness.
We laugh at how much fun it is,
As you can see.

Every morning when we wake,
Our funny bones begin to ache,
We count the times we shake and quake,
With tee, hee, hee,
Heh, heh, heh,
Ha, ha, ha,
Hoo, hoo, hoo,
Ha, ha, ha!

Star Wars Confession

All right. For years I haven't admitted this to anyone, barely even myself... but I think the time has come to just face the facts and own up:

I don't like Star Wars very much. There, I said it.

Now, before you begin writing those death threats, I'm not here to say "Hey, Star Wars suck and you suck for liking it!" Really, I don't care. If you love Star Wars, good on ya. We all have different tastes.

And it not as though I hated the original trilogy. I didn't love it, but it was okay, I could certainly see why it was so popular. Granted, I only saw it once, and I think I was sixteen or seventeen -- no golden nostalgic memories of being a child and watching the movies, in other words -- and even then I missed the first third or so of A New Hope. But the last two thirds were entertaining enough that I watched the two other movies in their entirety, and despite Emperor Palpatine being supremely annoying I liked them well enough.

(Much later, I discovered the radio dramas based on those three movies -- same story, but a lot more detail, backstory and character, and Mark Hamill and Anthony Daniels reprising their roles and Luke and C-3PO -- and I still hold that those radio dramas are the best Star Wars material ever. Especially the A New Hope one.)

So yeah, I can sorta get behind those first three films. Decent effects, some good visuals, really nice music, a few fun bits of dialogue, okay pseudo-religion, and Harrison Ford. I can dig that.

The problem came with the rest of the stories. The expanded universe, the comics, the novels, the cartoons, the prequels, the video games. I tried to get into it, I really did. Some of those stories were critically acclaimed and fans loved them. The Clone Wars series, the Dark Empire comic. (I'm not counting Knights of the Old Republic, because I never played that.) No matter what it was, I tried to watch it... and with two notable exceptions, the result was always the same: I was so bored.

(The two notable exeptions were the Star Wars gang's guest appearances in Muppet productions, because Muppets are awesome -- and the dreaded Holiday Special, which was awful but in a hilarious way!)

The prequel trilogy; I made honest attempts at watching it, but even the RiffTrax commentary could hold my interest for more than about half of Phantom Menace. (Paradoxally, and completely unlike the Star Wars fans I found Jar-Jar Binks to be the sole saving grace of that movie; he was the only character present who wasn't duller than dishwater.)

I tried listening to more radio dramas, made by the same people that made those cool original-trilogy radio dramas. Exploring the distant past and the near-future of the Star Wars universe. Boring, boring, boring. I tried to get into it, tried to pretend I was at all interested when Generic Jedi #23 had turned out to join the Dark Side and was suddenly incapable of completing a sentence that didn't have the words "power" or "Dark Side" in them, but the only thing I got out of it was a new insight into why the Dark Side is doomed to lose in that universe: it makes you incapable of having a normal conversation. At least the good guys are allowed to occasionally talk about things that don't involve the power of the Force.

I really, really, really tried to like it. I tried to see what fans were so geared by. I couldn't.

What led to my final and total acceptance of my status as a non-Star Wars fan was, in fact, a fan.made production; a podcast audio drama called Codename: Starkeeper. I read several fan reactions, which were almost unanomiously positive, and it was agreed that this production really captured the feel of the original trilogy -- the action, intrigue, and campy humor worthy of the name Star Wars, to use a direct quote. Besides, several podcasters whose work I quite enjoy were involved, such as Chris Lester and Philippa Balentine. Besides, hey, it was free.

So i downloaded the audio drama to my iPod, eight episodes... and I managed to listen through four of them before I realized that I really couldn't say what had happened up to now, who was involved, what was at stake or why I should care. It wasn't that the show was poorly-done, it was just that... I had zero interest in it.

And that's when I fully got it. That was when I had to face facts, and admit it to myself: I really have no interest in the universe of Star Wars.

To me, any charm or interest found in Star Wars was there in that initial story, and only in that initial story, of Luke Skywalker becoming a Jedi, and the colorful cast of characters that help or hinder him along the way -- possibly the most unashamedly archetypical version of the "Hero's Journey" myth ever to be put on screen. But when that myth had been told, there wasn't much left to hold my interest. I didn't care what happened afterwards, or what had happened before, or what was happening in other places at the same time, because the universe and the setting was one I had zero interest in.

I don't know why, but if it's set in the Star Wars universe, and it's not that original story, it just doesn't hold my interest. The Force? Jedi? Sith Lords? Yawn, call me when we get to something interesting.

Maybe it's just that everyone else seems to have watched the original trilogy as kids. Maybe the franchise catches your interest and imagination as a child in a way it can't when you're introduced to it as a teen. But then again, I never really held much stock in nostalgia -- all that stuff I loved as a kid, I now know exactly how horrible a lot of it was, and it doesn't have much nostalgic value for me. (Though I do try to be fair-minded, because even the most horrible childhood entertainment might have something of value.)

Or maybe it's just that my tastes run so contrary to so many "geeks." I don't like Star Trek. I didn't like The Matrix. I found The Dark Knight mildly boring (I actually thought Batman Begins was better, and as you might have caught by now, I'm not even a fan of Batman to begin with.) I haven't seen much Doctor Who, but I haven't liked what I've seen of that either. I haven't been able to watch more than a couple of episodes of A Game of Thrones, and the books the series is based on hold no interest for me either.I managed to stick with Supernatural for six episodes before I realized I hated it.

(Is there any fanbase left I haven't ticked off now, I wonder?)

Whatever the case, I decided that there was no point in trying to pretend anymore. So: Hello, I'm Roo and I'm not a Star Wars fan. And I'm not ashamed of it.

Who knows, maybe Disney's purchase of the franchise will turn out to be a good move, and maybe future Star Wars movies and projects will turn out to actually be able to hold my interest. But I'm not holding my breath.

Legos and Planes

So, this week I watched two animated movies -- one that was recently released in theaters and one that was recently released on DVD: The LEGO Movie and Disney's Planes. Both of them surprised me by being better than I'd thought they'd be, but the difference between them was that Planes was just marginally better while the LEGO Movie was... well, much better.

The LEGO Movie was actually good.

I've never really been the hugest fan of Lego. I had a few sets and bricks when I was little, but I was never what you'd call hugely enthusiastic about it... actually, my Lego spent most of their time in the shapes of transforming robots to supplement my Transformers toys. Oh, and I did visit Legoland in Denmark a few times, but that was less about the legos and more about the fact that it was a pretty cool amusement park.

The movie was surprisingly fun, and funny, with a lot of great meta-humor and a surprisingly self-aware storyline. They took the trite and clichéd "there's a Prophecy about the Chosen One" plotline and parodied the hell out of it, turning the entire thing into a non-stop rollercoaster of self-mockery, while actually having a theme that not only makes perfect sense for a movie about Lego, but works pretty well as a theme in and of itself: Rigidly following the instructions VS just letting the creativity flow and doing/building whatever you want. And while the "creativity" one is definitely held forward as the more desirable one, the movie also touches on the necessities of being capable of following instructions and doing what you want:

The villain, President Business, wants only rules and instructions, and demands complete rigidity and "perfection." Now, while it's explicitly shown that President Business's tactic is going to lead to total stagnation (i.e. death), it's also pointed out that he gets things done because he has a set goal and works towards it. The heroes, the Master Builders, are the force of creativity and individualism in this movie, and while it's made clear that only they can stop the world from stagnating/dying, they are too individualistic to be effective. While they can each do amazing things on their own, their combined efforts come to naught because they totally fail at working as a team or deciding on a common goal.

In other words: Neither complete dictatorship nor complete anarchy works; you gotta find that golden middle road.

The real  fun of the movie, however, is in how witty it is. Some of the one-liners are legitimately hilarious, the meta-comedy is sometimes extremely clever and the pop culture references are well-used. Various Lego franchises are represented here, including licensed ones, which are all used extremely well -- the most prominent one being Batman; Lego Batman being one of the major characters of the movie. And... I didn't hate him, let's leave it at that.

There are a few snags, mind. The movie suffers quite a bit from "token girl"ism --  Wyldstyle (the main female character) is as clichéd a "tough-as-nails-woman who falls for the average dorky guy who saves the day" character as you can imagine, while Princess Uni-Kitty (the other female character) is everything that's pink and girly and cheerful. And Wonder Woman, whom I heard people being excited about actually being in a theatrical release for once, is barely in the movie at all.  Not to mention, the ending has a few unfortunate implications of "if we let the girls in to play with our Legos, they'll ruin everything."

Yeah, that message wasn't intended, I'm sure, but for all that this movie promotes free thinking it still sticks a little too rigidly to certain types of thinking. It may simply be that I'm seeing this pattern a little too much lately, but I am getting a little tired of it.

As a movie, though, it's still very good -- it's funny, it's clever, it doesn't take itself too seriously but still has a surprisingly good plot going on, it's technically and visually amazing, the voice actors are great (they even got  Anthony Daniels and Billy Dee Williams reprising their roles as C-3PO and Lando Calrissian when some of the Star Wars cast make a cameo), the dialogue's amazing and -- that one sour note aside -- overall the movie comes highly recommended.

Something I can't really say about Planes.

While Planes is not, on the whole, as bad as I feared it would be (you'll notice I didn't bother to check it out when it was in theaters), it doesn't really have that much going for it either -- it's very clear that this movie was meant for the direct-to-DVD market (being made by ToonDisney and not Pixar, for instance) and while I don't have the raging hatred for direct-to-DVD Disney sequels/spinoffs that a lot of other people do... well, even as direct-to-DVD sequels go, Planes is not one of the better ones. ToonDisney may not be Pixar, but they've delivered better than this in the past.

How to describe it? Hmmm... I know.

Take the two Cars movies.

Then make them notably less impressive, visually speaking -- the animation not being bad as such but with far less technical brilliance and attention to detail.

Then take all the clever, funny or intelligent lines, cut half of them and make the rest of them about half as funny/clever.

Then make everything about 100% more clichéd and predictable, and take special care to ensure that every single character from the main one to the minor walk-ones have no depth or personality outside of being a stereotype -- a cultural stereotype, an ethnic stereotype, a gendered stereotype, a "the-type-of-character-you-get-in-movies-like.this" stereotype.

... and voila, you have Planes.

The Cars movies weren't Pixar's greatest works, but at least they tried, and at least they were made with a notable enthusiasm and love, and were well-structured and thought-out. Planes just seems phoned-in and paint-by-the-numbers. Nowhere is this more plainy obvious than in the character Bulldog -- they got John Cleese to do the voice and totally failed to make him even the least bit funny!

It has no big surprises, no brilliant twists (you'll be able to predict about 99% of all the so-called twists long before they happen), most of the jokes are either telegraphed or half-assed or both, and there's not a single character or character type in this movie that hasn't been done better in at least a dozen other movies.

But, it's still better than I'd thought it would be... I'd expected it to be terrible, but really it's just mediocre and clichéd. Quickly watched and quickly forgotten. But it gives Disney the opportunity to sell more car/plane toys, so it's no surprise that it's getting a sequel.

Oh well.

Well, this is the final one. This is where the final decision is going to be made. I already know this book is nowhere near as good as it's been made out to be, and is certainly not going to earn a five-star or even four-star review from me, there are too many problems with it... but, depending on how these last two chapters turn out, it might manage a three-star one.

I hope it does; I'd rather be able to say "this book had some serious flaws, but was ultimately not that bad" than having to say "this book had some occasional bright spots, but was ultimately not that good."

Come on, Peter Von Brown. I'm rooting for you.

Chapter SixteenCollapse )
Chapter SeventeenCollapse )
Sum-up and reviewCollapse )

Hello again, and we're back for more Peter Pan's Neverworld! Last time, the story was chugging along quite nicely before it took a few really poorly-done turn that made me question whether Peter Von Brown, despite claiming to be the only Peter Pan writer completely faithful to J. M. Barrie, really understands J. M. Barrie's writing at all.

But Chapter Ten did end on this really funny moment between Thorn and Prince Jarrod, so it's got that going for it, and we still have more than one third of the book left. Can it turn around and prove that it's worthy of being called faithful to Barrie after all?

We're about to find out, because here's the penultimate post, where I read and comment upon chapters 11-15, with chapters 16 and 17 for next post. Away we go!

Chapter ElevenCollapse )
Chapter TwelveCollapse )
Chapter ThirteenCollapse )
Chapter FourteenCollapse )
Chapter FifteenCollapse )

Here we are again, with five more chapters of Peter Pan's Neverworld! Last time, the book got off to an awful, and I do mean awful, start, but seemed to be picking up by the time of the fifth chapter, so it's with some optimism I turn back to the book and start on chapter six.

Here are chapters 6-10!

Chapter SixCollapse )
Chapter SevenCollapse )
Chapter EightCollapse )
Chapter NineCollapse )
Chapter TenCollapse )

Welcome, welcome to the first installment of the reaction reviews to Peter Pan's Neverworld! The book is seventeen chapters, and I've decided that I'm going to try and do a five-chapters-per-post format. Well, five chapters for the first three posts, and then the final two chapters can get a post combined with my sum-up thoughts about the book as a whole. I don't know if I'll be able to keep to this... maybe I'll have more or less to say about some chapters than others, but it seems like a good plan.

At the time of writing, though, I haven't done much more than check the number of chapters and look at the cover. Actually, here, you can have a look at the cover along with me:

I know the cliché that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but  often the cover is part of the reading experience. And it's not a bad cover. It's actually a pretty nice-looking cover, in a "digital image" kind of way, though the composition seems a little off. It certainly can't compete with the beautiful cover to Peter Pan in Scarlet... but, no, I shouldn't keep bringing up that book. I mean I liked it, but Peter Von Brown has made his opinion of it clear, so I shouldn't expect anything similar here.

Opening the book, going past title page, dedication (I have no idea who Robin and Liz are, but that's okay) and the special thank-you to Barrie, we come to an author's foreword, where Von Brown once again points out that his is the only Peter Pan written-by-other-hands that does not contradict Barrie -- I wish he'd stop harping on about that, and mentions the Native Americans in such a way that I'm fairly sure the ones in this book are going to be racial caricatures, but that this is okay because it's true to Barrie. Yeah, whatever, I'll be sure to make note of it, let's just start this thing already.

Okay, okay, not fair to the novel to start out annoyed. Let me take a deep breath... and there. Ready for the story to begin proper.

Chapter OneCollapse )
Chapter TwoCollapse )
Chapter ThreeCollapse )
Chapter FourCollapse )
Chapter FiveCollapse )

Hey! Remember Roo's Reaction Reviews? I did one of To Boldy Flee from the That Guy With the Glasses website -- basically I found it pretty awful, but it did have its redeeming qualities and the climax was actually good enough that I almost forgave the movie everything else... at least until (ugh) Santa Christ showed up at the very end.

Well, today, and probably over the course of this week, I'm going to do a new one. And it's going to be of a book. More precisely, it's going to be of a book I've been wanting to check out but haven't been able to get my hands on before now, namely Peter Von Brown's Peter Pan novel Peter Pan's Neverworld.

For the longest of times (well... a few years, at least), I've wanted to read that book. Not necessarily because I thought it was going to be so spectacularly awesome -- the preview I read on the Amazon site certainly wasn't hugely impressive -- but because of Peter Von Brown's attitude about his book in particular and Peter Pan in general.

My pre-reading thoughts and expectations!Collapse )

A Narnia fanfic snippet...

I wrote this for a discussion on Ana Mardoll's blog, where she goes through the Narnia books chapter by chapter and points out the several unfortunate implications within the text. At the moment she's going Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and have reached the part about the Dufflepuds.

In this, she talks about Coriakin the Magician and asks whether he really is such a benevolent guy after all -- he did subject the Duffers to some fairly traumatizing bodily horror just because they didn't want to do things his way, and he doesn't seem to think very much of them.

The question was whether there really was any difference between the White Witch and Coriakin, especially when we find that Coriakin too isn't human yet looks human (something which Mr. Beaver says is a sure sign of evil in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe).

I did point out that one difference was that Coriakin, unlike the Witch, didn't want to rule, and had in fact been put to govern the Duffers as a punishment (what his crime was is never disclosed). This led me to speculate on whether Coriakin was being a bad ruler to the Dufflepuds on purpose, in the hope that Aslan or someone should come to him and say "Coriakin, you're obviously not fit for this job, 'm relieving you of your post." Which in turn led me to speculate that maybe things were other than they seemed on Dufflepud island -- which in turn led me to write this, as a slightly silly scene with Coriakin and the Duffers immediately after Coriakin's banishment, which has its own explanations of why things were they way they were on that island:

Read more...Collapse )

Adventure Time: LSP meets LSP

Here is a drawing I made on my new Microsoft Surface Pro! I got it for Christmas/birthday and have been having a lot of fun with it (among other things browsing the Internet and reading online stories in bed), and have been trying to get familiar with it as a drawing tool. Here, then, is the first pic from the Surface Pro that have been uploaded for the net:

Yes, it's Lumpy Space Princess (humanoid version) meeting Lumpy Space Princess (canon version). I've seen so many cosplays and humanized fan-drawings of the characters that I thought it would be funny if one of the human LSPs met the original one, from the cartoon.

And what cartoon? Why, Adventure Time with Finn and Jake, of course!

You see, sarahcoldheart likes Adventure Time. I mean, she really likes Adventure Time. And she was the one who introduced the show to me, some time ago -- the first episode she showed me was the What Was Missing episode (the episode where the characters sing song to a door). The second episode she linked me to was the kindasorta-Christmas episode, which admittedly has to be the most original Christmas episode I've seen of any TV show ever.

I did enjoy those two eps; their slow-paced surrealism was quite entertaining, but I didn't feel inclined to check the show out any further based on them. It was only recently that I decided to begin checking out Adventure Time from the very beginning, and discovered that, well, this show is a lot better than it seems on the surface.

To make a long story short, Adventure Time takes place in a colorful and weird world called "the Land of Ooo," featuring monsters, magic, robots, talking animals and people made out of living candy -- a world of fun and adventure that is actually a post-apocalyptic Earth (many references are made to "the Mushroom Wars" that happened in the show's distant past, and you often see remains of the human civilization).

The main characters are Finn and Jake -- Finn being a human boy with a weird hat and a sword, Jake being a shapeshifting talking bulldog with the voice of John DiMaggio. They live in a tree-house (literally, their house is a hollow tree) and they work as professional adventurers, always out on missions to slay monsters, help people in need or rescue kidnapped princesses.

There are a lot of princesses in this world, you see -- most prominent in the show is Princess Bubblegum, who rules the land of Ooo and is a sweet and pretty girl made out of living bubblegum. Oh, and she's a mad scientist who makes strange experiments involving raising the dead. There are also such diverse princesses as Breakfast Princess (who wears a bacon crown and a pancake skirt), Turtle Princess (a turtle), and my personal favorite, Lumpy Space Princess, who is like a floating cloud thingy that talks like a valley girl and is voiced by a man.

These princesses are often kidnapped by the Ice King, who of course rules the Ice Kingdom and is so lacking in social skills that he thinks that if he kidnaps a princess often enough she'll fall in love with him and marry him. He's the most prominently recurring antagonist on the show and would probably have been its main villain if he hadn't been so utterly pathetic.

Other important characters are Marceline, the guitar-playing Vampire Queen who drinks the color red instead of blood (that is, she sometimes drinks blood, but only because it's red), who hangs out with both Finn and Jake and the Ice King, and who goes way back with Princess Bubblegum to such a degree that fans speculate that they are or have been in a romantic relationship -- and of course BMO, the walking talking video game consule-slash-robot who doubles as Finn and Jake's roommate, media player, electrical outlet, camera and soccer player.

Let me just get it out of the way: Adventure Time is a weird show. A common reaction for first-time watchers is "what the hell did I just watch?!" A lot of it is, in fact, suspiciously reminiscent of the "I'm on sugar high!" total random nonsense fanfics you sometimes see written by fourteen-year-old girls, the ones that make you shake your head and go "oh boy." The difference is that, well, the difference is that Adventure Time is actually creative and clever.  You genuinely never know what to expect from an episode -- even after watching the beginning, nine times out of ten it's completely impossible to predict where the story will end up.

And perhaps what most of all makes this show work is the carefully-constructed setting and mythology. Yes, it all seems random and wacky at first, but there is a deeper, subtle backstory here, and parts of it are sometimes revealed through flashbacks or just casual mentions, and the characters have a surprising depth to them. The Ice King, in particular, becomes a more and more tragic character the more of his backstory is revealed -- but Finn and Jake, who at first glance seem like a fairly simple comedy duo (Finn being the over-enthusiastic go-getter and Jake being the laid-back wiseguy) have many more sides to them than inherently apparent as well. I think the only character almost completely without hidden depths is Lumpy Space Princess, but she's so funny and likeable that I don't even care.

The show isn't perfect. I don't like the art style much, and the pacing sometimes drags... I've never been a fan of the slow-paced dragging-out-the-punchline-and-repeat-ad-nauseum comedy style so prominent among Internet comedians these days, and Adventure Time sometimes comes dangerously close to exactly that... though to be fair, it does that comedy style better than anyone else I've seen, so I guess it can work if handled very, very carefully and competently.

If you haven't seen Adventure Time, I say it's well worth checking out -- but I do think you should begin at the beginning, with the first episode (possibly with the pilot, even though that's got an even worse-looking art style and seems extremely amateurish). Even if starting at the beginning with this show seems like smacking you in the face with a lot of surrealism all at once, it's worth it... because when you get to the later, really good episodes, you'll actually be able to appreciate how good they are because you know the characters and settings, and know exactly what impact these episodes have.

Just a short post on Marvel/DC

I think I've figured out the difference between Marvel and DC these days. It's all about attitude. This is the message I catch from the various comics, stories and movies from the two respective companies:

Marvel: Look, look! Heroes in skintight spandex! Sexy spy people with impossibly high-tech gadgets! Isn't this cool?! Isn't this just the most mind-bogglingly awesome thing you've ever seen?! Okay, sure, maybe we can't do variety worth beans, but at least we're good at what we do! Wink wink, nudge nudge!

DC: We're sorry this is a superhero story. We're sorry this story features people in spandex with ridiculous codenames. We're sorry you can't possibly take this seriously. Maybe it'll help if we make certain that nobody in the story has any fun, ever? And tone down on the heroics? We're really sorry there has to be any heroics at all, but we'll try to keep them brief.

There's more to it than this, of course, but it seems to be the main difference.


Annual Christmas song!

Haul out the holly!
We're heading home so we can start to celebrate!
Fill up the stockings!
We may be rushing things, but we can hardly wait now --

For we need a little Christmas, right this very minute,
Candles in the window, carols at the spinet,
Yes we need a little Christmas, right this very minute,
It hasn't snowed a single flurry --
Tufty, we're all in a hurry!

Haul out the holly!
Turn on the brightest string of lights we've ever seen!
Slice up the fruitcake!
It's time we hung some tinsel on that evergreen bough --

For we need a little music, need a little laughter,
Need a little singing ringing through the rafter,
And we need a little snappy happy ever after...
We need -- a -- little -- Christ- mas -- NOOOOW!

More Weasley Girl

I've barely written anything here these past months... but at least I can say that the first chapter of Weasley Girl: Secrets of the Past, has now been posted on, and the second chapter is half-written. There are a few things in this story that I've been looking forward to getting around to, so hopefully it'll be fun.

Weasley Girl, which was finished last month, clocked in at 107150 (a hundred and seven thousand, one hundred and fifty) words, and now has 227 reviews and 228 favorites. It's certainly the most attention anything I've published online has ever received, so I must have done something right.

A Man and his Dog

Wow. I haven't posted anything here for ages.

So... here, have a nobleman from an RPG I'm in, with his pet dog.

This is Sir Ly-an Belain, a young nobleman from the rich (and snobbish) country Evona, whose family owns a dog farm that breeds papillon dogs, or "butterfly dogs" as they're sometimes called, as pets for Evona's gentry. He's a skilled negotiator and businessman, and is good with dogs, but when it comes to battle he has the unfortunate tendency to think that bravery and enthusiasm can replace actual skill. The result is that he walks with a cane and a slight limp after almost having lost his leg in battle with monsters. The damage was so excessive that while the healers managed to save his leg, they couldn't completely restore its full mobility -- but then, at least Sir Ly-an can still walk under his own power (and now he has an excuse for not being any good at dancing).

The dog is Sir-Ly-an's personal pet dog, and a good representative for the butterfly dogs the family is known for breeding. His name is Prince Pegasus Midnight Sun V, but he goes by "Prince."


Just a quick warning...

While most of this blog is pretty family-friendly (apart from the occasional bad word), there are a few posts with more adult content, most notably erotic fanfiction and nude drawings.

However, any adult content will always be behind LJ-cuts, and equipped with warnings of its adult nature. In other words, it should be easy to avoid adult content if you don't want to see it -- so don't blame me if you ignore the warnings.

Thanks for your attention!

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