Intro post

Feb. 2nd, 2020 08:57 pm
sailorptah: (Default)
My active journal is the one you're looking at. My active blog is [syndicated profile] erinptah_feed ([wordpress.com profile] erinptah). Locked personal posts and [livejournal.com profile] fail_fandomanon link roundups are found here on DW; fic recs and weekly roundups of all the fanworks I've posted around the Internet are on Wordpress. Everything else is found on both.

But I'm A Cat Person is a webcomic about magical shifting battle monsters and the humans who are just trying to get on with their lives. Updates T-TH, with periodic contests and freebies mixed in. Check it out. And don't miss the archives of And Shine Heaven Now, the world's second-most-popular Hellsing-related comic.

Other places I update regularly are [personal profile] ptahrrific (fanfiction and mixes), [archiveofourown.org profile] sailorptah (fanfiction), [deviantart.com profile] sailorptah ([fan]art), and [tumblr.com profile] bicatperson (fanart). You can keep up with all of the above via Facebook as well.
sailorptah: (lighthouse)
Leaving Westboro Baptist: "When Brittany Murphy died, Phelps-Roper had seen the disparity between her reaction and that of the rest of the church as a sign that something was wrong with her. Now the contradiction of her mother’s glee and her own sadness made her wonder if something was wrong with the church."

Leaving Stormfront: "But the unstated truth was that Derek was becoming more and more confused about exactly what he believed. Sometimes he looked through posts on Stormfront, hoping to reaffirm his ideology, but now the message threads about Obama’s birth certificate or DNA tests for citizenship just seemed bizarre and conspiratorial. He stopped posting on Stormfront. He began inventing excuses to get out of his radio show, leaving his father alone on the air each morning to explain why Derek wouldn’t be calling in."

"Justin Bainbridge is 27 and works two jobs, but he wasn't allowed to start saving money for his future until a few months ago. Bainbridge has Down syndrome, and like other people with disabilities who receive government benefits, he can't have more than $2,000 in savings. If he does, he would start to lose those much-needed benefits. But a new type of savings vehicle is giving Bainbridge, and others, a chance to save more cash."

"I moved my whole company to a five-hour workday where everyone works from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Over a year later, we're sticking with it."

"As of [February 7], all images of public-domain works in The Met collection are available under Creative Commons Zero (CC0). So whether you're an artist or a designer, an educator or a student, a professional or a hobbyist, you now have more than 375,000 images of artworks from our collection to use, share, and remix—without restriction."
sailorptah: (Default)
"Good people devoted to and focused on a single good cause come to see — precisely because of that devotion — the connections and intersections of that cause and of other good and worthy causes. They recognize the truth of the holy scripture that says 'We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.'"

"The CEO of a popular fast food chain said this week that he was “stunned” to see profits soar each time California passed minimum wage increases." Your customers have more money, they buy more of your product! Shocking.

"Iceland tops the European table for the cleanest-living teens. The percentage of 15- and 16-year-olds who had been drunk in the previous month plummeted from 42 per cent in 1998 to 5 per cent in 2016." A lot of it would be easy to duplicate in the US (more afterschool programs!), although I don't think "nationwide curfew on teenagers" would fly.

"My oldest sister is dead (2013), from colon cancer. No Affordable Care Act/Obamacare, no screening. My youngest sister lives despite ovarian cancer. Her Obamacare meant screening, surgery, treatment."

Leaked audio from Republicans who have no idea WTF to do after repealing the ACA. And are scared of the political consequences of the clusterf@#k.

No wonder Republicans are the only ones to complain about in-person voter fraud: they're the only ones anybody can find committing it.

"Official FBI guidelines acknowledge that white supremacists and right-wing extremists have infiltrated U.S. law enforcement agencies."

"At least 13 Jewish Community Centers were evacuated [January 31], after the third wave of bomb threats this month was made against the religious centers. This latest spate of threats, which came in between 10 a.m. and noon, targeted JCCs in at least 11 states and is being investigated by the FBI. "

Sharpie swastikas in the NYC subway, versus a car's worth of people with Purell. There are lots of ways to fight Nazis besides punching.
sailorptah: (disney)
I'm torn between wanting to binge the whole season overnight, and wanting to savor it one episode at a time. At this point I'm halfway through.

The good: References to book continuity. References to season 1. DieAnne is back! The Tip-Oh friendship is strong as ever, shattering some egregious tropes along the way. Lots of good lines, and the occasional bursting into song.

The bad: Some wince-worthy gender politics. Lots of bodily-function jokes. I can't tell if there have been more in general this season, or if I just blanked the last round from memory. In specific, all of episode s04B is an extended fart joke. Was that necessary, show?

Any reference to the seven glorious Boov genders is catnip to me, and episode 01A gets right to it: Boy Boy Girl Band, featuring a singer named Boy Boy George.

"Their Boov hearts are breaking from disappointment!" "That's a THING?!" "Yes! It totally is."

In other noncishetero news, Oh gets a crush on a human boy in 02A (in the process of trying to flirt on Tip's behalf). The boy doesn't return it, and is pretty weirded out, but it feels like that's because Oh is an alien -- there's no reference to gender being the weird part. I mean, very likely they kept it vague for the sake of plausible deniability, but. The lack of no-homo'ing is nice.

Oh's impression of Tip with a crush: "I am going through human puberty emotions!"

When it turns out the boy only likes Tip because she's cute, she gets a great outburst: "Cute is an accident! Personality is hard!"

I think the animators have gotten bored with drawing the standard Boov shape all the time. They're going really wild with exaggerated body shapes, nostricle styles, and random colors and features.

Time loop in 02B! With bonus rips in the fabric of spacetime, temporarily fixed with duct tape.

Okay, background: the original novel has a sequel, in which Tip sneaks off to visit the Boov colony on a moon of Jupiter, and Oh struggles to invent a time machine which can retcon all his mistakes from the Gorg invasion. Here, there's a time machine, but it doesn't reference anything else in the books -- Oh whips it up overnight when Tip has a bad day.

Lovely continuity with s1 in 03A. PomPom the pageant contestant reappears, as does the magnificent DieAnne from the Angerdome, with more muscles than ever. Tip becomes DieAnne's peace mentor! It's a tough job! DieAnne still tries to solve everything with punching! This is 100% going to be Jasper in a few seasons of Steven Universe, you watch.

Bodyswapping in 03B, with an impressively solid plot reason why it takes ages for people to notice that a cat brain is in Tip's body. And then it plunges into horrifying chimera territory when the cat starts talking. Not okay!

More book-references in 05B, which features a group of Boov-hating preteen boys. Softened from the original, though. Instead of being an angry resistance in an underground hideout because the Boov invaded their planet and kidnapped their families, this is far post-invasion, and they're mad because a Boov broke one kid's bike.

Okay, you know the trope where a villain tries to sabotage a friendship by telling the people lies about each other, and it drives a wedge between them for long-term angst, even though the whole plan would fall apart if the friends just had a five-minute conversation about what was going on?

The boys try that on Tip and Oh. And it fails miserably, because they always talk to each other, and sort out the problem within like thirty seconds. This is great.

"Slushious is kind. She would never use baby ducks for evil!"

Slushious gets an AI voice in 07B. Cool! ...It's a female voice, and it exists for the sake of a plot about her becoming murderously jealous of Tip's friendship with Oh. Less cool.

So it has a couple episodes that are incredibly skippable, but the good bits are excellent, and I'm excited to binge and/or savor the rest of the season.
sailorptah: (Default)
An interlude with nice things.

Dinosaur tail found fully preserved in amber, and yes, it's feathery.

"A team from BP was carrying out routine operations near an oil well, using a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) at a depth of 1325 metres, when they spotted the creature, which they nicknamed the flying spaghetti monster." The noodly appendages are real. RAmen.

Mall space got repurposed into gorgeous loft apartments.

"The Ptolemaic dynasty was able to spend big on the institution thanks to the riches of Egypt’s fertile land and resources from the Nile, including papyrus, the ancient world’s main writing material. As a result, the library had an edge in development over others. The Ptolemaic kings were determined to collect any and all books that existed—from the epics, tragedies, to cookbooks."

"Olio wants to make it easy for busy food sellers to avoid wasting food. 'These vendors usually don't have enough surplus to donate to a charity or something, but they still end up having to throw away quite a lot at the end of the day.'"

"I asked other immigrants about their first moments of culture shock in the United States. Here's what they told me." Braces, junk food, chatty cashiers, and more.

"Hebrew marks gender prolifically (even the word “you” is different depending on genders), Finnish has no gender marking and English is somewhere in between. Accordingly, children growing-up in a Hebrew speaking environment figure out their own gender about a year earlier than Finnish-speaking children; English-speaking kids fall in the middle.

"When pigs fly" and equivalent metaphors, in different languages, illustrated.
sailorptah: (Default)
People killed by police, 2017. The final total for 2016 was 1,153. This year, we're already up to 124. It's February.

White people shooting cops, to pointed silence from the #BlueLivesMatter crowd:

"Bill Jones, 35, allegedly shot two police officers after a standoff on Wednesday. Unlike the number of black men who’ve been shot at when police mistook cell phones for guns, Jones survived his tense standoff with police." (He's white. But you knew that.)

Two police officers were shot and killed, and I'm guessing you didn't hear about it: "There was no massive national freak-out over these killings as there has been whenever the suspect is a person of color or has an Arabic-sounding name. The man accused of these killings is a white guy. Scott Michael Greene — whose home reportedly features a Trump/Pence sign in the front lawn — was allegedly upset with police after he was forced to leave a high school football game because he was waving a Confederate flag and threatening black students."

Police brutality:

"The Detroit man charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and weapons felony firearm for killing a 19-year-old woman on his porch was found guilty on all counts [on August 4]." Justice for Renisha McBride.

"Officer Marco Proano faces two federal civil rights charges for the 2013 shooting [at a car full of teenagers; they survived], which was caught on a dash cam."

"They sit next to Mr. Crutcher's daughter in class. They are her friends. Nearly every student has a tissue as we read the article together."

"He gives the officers his ID, which lists the address as his residence, and he suggests the officers ask a neighbor to verify that he lives there. " Dejuan Yourse, thankfully still alive, beaten by police for sitting on his own front porch.

Police brutality through the looking glass:

"Give the Weirton, W.Va., police chief some credit. He’s come up with a new spin on the the same problem. He just fired a cop for not killing someone."
sailorptah: (Default)

"Immediately after the reports, BLM was blamed because Black people are violent threats who hate police, right? But that entire narrative was wrong—it turned out that the perpetrators were two white men who were far from affiliated with BLM. At that point, the Blue/All Lives Matter crew dropped the subject, not because it suddenly didn’t matter that the cops had died, but because the people who had killed them were no longer part of the threat group."

"British police used a Taser on a black man they thought was a robber. He was their race-relations adviser."

"Police officers responding to a burglar alarm fatally shot a homeowner, who had grabbed a gun when he spotted an intruder, after shots were fired in their direction as they arrived at his house."

(Although most news stories about cops shooting homeowners involve a black victim, you can also read about the occasional white guy getting shot in his own house. Along with his dog.)

"Dozens of Jewish Community Centers in the U.S. were evacuated [January 18], including in Manhattan and California's Bay Area, after receiving near-simultaneous bomb threats, according to various local reports."

Millions of Shia Muslims made the pilgrimage of Arbaeen this fall, in defiance of Daesh's threats and deadly attacks against the pilgrims.

"Here's a list of things white friends have done/can do which actually make me feel safer."

Practical advice for white allies on how to talk to white non-allies.

sailorptah: (Default)

I have three invites to give out. You give them a shipping address, you get a set of three meals (ingredients + prep instructions) delivered for free. Afterward, any money/participation on your part is purely opt-in.

Comment with a name (or pseudonym) and an email address, and I'll have emails sent to the first three.

ETA: 
two sent, one left!
sailorptah: (Default)

Crowd estimates for the Women's March on Washington are running to half a million people in DC alone.

Add in the rest of the companion marches in the US -- from those with handfuls of people to those (including Boston's) that joined DC in the six figures -- and we're talking 3 million, total. That's one percent of the population of the country.

Swing Left: a guide to the most-contested House districts in 2018. Check your area for campaigns to support.

And take a fresh look at how your state stands on the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. A bunch of new legislatures are working on it since the last time I checked! As of January 2017, bills are pending in Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.

Old news, still worth sharing: Six record-breaking, history-making women who did get elected in November. All minorities, all Democrats, and the ones who are natural-born citizens might have the White House in their future. Keep your eyes on them.

Final note, some good news from outside the country: Finland is doing a trial of Universal Basic Income. We'll see how it goes.

sailorptah: (sailor moon)

As promised, I gave Sailor Moon Crystal s3 a chance.

...and then ended up bailing again after 5 or 6 episodes.

The new stock footage was mostly good, but, guys, they used it in the opening sequence. They couldn't even be bothered to draw enough original high-quality footage to make a theme song!

Which gives you an idea of how deep the laziness runs in the rest of the show. So much claustrophobic cropping and other cheats, instead of drawing establishing shots, or scenery at different perspectives, or any motion as complicated as "picking something up" or "swinging a sword". It's painful.

***

In related news, I hadn't watched any of the original series in years, but the first two seasons of the new Viz dub are up for free on Yahoo. So I'm checking out selective episodes. Starting with the ones that DiC never dubbed (because, uh, I had not actually gotten around to seeing those at any other point in the past ~20 years).

The animation is wonky and cheap in its own way -- lots of exaggerated comedy faces, simplified motion (waving a pencil up and down on a piece of paper = writing!), fading from one scene to another instead of animating the transition, general sloppiness. But the direction is light-years better. It's so refreshing.

Take the ski-contest episode (season 1, episode 38). They use shortcuts, like panning over a still image to set a scene, or having the same roll of background whip past while a character is skiing in a straight line.

On the other hand: Lots of establishing shots and different angles on the scenery! The characters move like they have human muscles! Hair and clothes blow realistically in the wind! Crowd scenes are populated with extras! Someone bothered to design outfits, instead of only ever drawing the characters in their school uniforms! Luna moves as if the artists have seen a cat at some point in their lives!

Usagi transforms while she's in winter clothes, and obviously her stock henshin footage starts with an ungloved hand, so they show her yanking off her ski glove first. It's such a little gesture, but they thought it was worth the care and effort to draw. That's a level of care Crystal never shows.

***

I thought I was gonna have trouble with the voices. Some of the actors in the original dub left such an impression that it's hard to shake, even if you're still mad about how messed up the translation got. Was a non-British Luna just going to sound fundamentally weird?

Guys, new Luna sounds perfect.

She sounds like Pearl from Steven Universe, to the point where I looked up the actor and was surprised it wasn't the same person. Apparently there's a really good way to sound like a fussy, by-the-book mentor who doles out ancient secrets to her frustratingly flighty charges, at least until she gets caught off-guard by the details she herself is just finding out.

I'm liking the rest -- of the handful of episodes I've watched, anyway. The girls are good, especially Makoto and Rei. Beryl is perfectly evil.

The one voice that has been weird...is Zoisite. They're dubbing him as a guy, so obviously he's gonna sound different, but in the Japanese he has this higher, androgynous bishounen voice, right? And the guy doing his English voice sounds unnaturally deep. Not deep like a baritone, deep like a teenage boy who's self-conscious about his voice cracking and is overcompensating by pitching it extra low.

***

I've been working through the backlog of the Sailor Business podcast, which is episode-by-episode reviews of the original series, and a lot of fun. (Full disclosure: I listen at 1.2x speed. They talk slowly, okay.)

The hosts don't do a lot of research, and in the beginning it's frustrating when they go on a tangent about being baffled by something you already know. But eventually they build up enough of an audience that they've got a wide base for crowdsourcing explanations.

One of the guys is really into Ami/Makoto, and keeps pointing out moments when they're notably together. Even taking the Shipper Goggles Welded On into account, it's impressive how much quiet subtext there is when you take it scene-by-scene.

Me, I'm getting a resurgence of Rei/Usagi feelings. They're so intense about each other! The initial bickering for bickering's sake develops into a relationship where Rei has a ton of respect and admiration for Usagi, while Usagi trusts Rei to keep her honest, and come through with more straightforward support when she really needs it.

They just, augh, they love each other so much you guys.
sailorptah: Hiding in a box (depression)

So the story about Trump mocking a disabled reporter keeps making the rounds. Partly because it's terrible, partly because his supporters keep insisting he didn't do it, in defiance of the fact that he did it on video.

What gets to me, though, is how many people present it like that's the pinnacle of his evil. Like it's the worst thing he's done. Like if you could still vote for him after seeing this, it proves your total moral bankruptcy as a human being.

People. Listen to me. Donald Trump canceled thehealth insurance plan that was covering his late brother's disabled infant grandson.

Lots of people, trying to get a laugh, have been said mean things or done casually bigoted impressions. Take Jon Stewart -- he's done plenty. But he's also been a ferocious advocate for the healthcare of veterans and 9/11 first responders, has thoughtfully and firmly spoken up for good causes, and has been known to put his money where his mouth is.

Donald Trump has lied about making large donations to 9/11 charities. There are no records of him donating at all. He once crashed an event at a charity for children with HIV, stole a donor's front-row seat, and got his face in event photos without ever giving the charity a cent.

If you posted a clip reel of Jon's most cringeworthy lines, and said "this sucks," I would agree. If you went on to say "this proves he's fundamentally a bad person, and I have no respect for anyone who supports or defends him in any way"...that would be overkill.

I've said and done things that were this mean. (Not recently, I hasten to add. And not on purpose.) Lots of Hillary supporters are in the same boat. I wouldn't be surprised if there are folks who are shouting about the reporter-mocking clip as a way of overcompensating for the shame of their own past jokes.

And lots of Trump supporters thinking "I've done something this bad, and I know I'm a good person, so that probably applies to Donald too."

I could pause here for a long list of Donald's much-rarer failings in all kinds of fields, but in the name of sticking to a theme, once more for the folks in the back: he canceled the healthcare for his own brother's disabled. infant. grandchild.

Doesn't seem likely a lot of Trump supporters have done that. Seems likely, in fact, that some Trump supporters would never consider doing such a thing to their own children and grandchildren, their own nieces and nephews.

For crying out loud, even Ebeneezer Scrooge took a long hard look at himself when he realized he might cause the death of a little kid on crutches.

People who are explaining their hatred of Trump will give a shortlist of half a dozen things he's said or done -- usually including his racist comments toward Mexicans, his incitement of violence toward Muslims -- and "mocking a disabled reporter" is almost always one of the items. I heard about it so many times in the runup to the election.

Somehow "was willing to let his baby grandnephew die in order to make a few bucks" didn't come through any of those channels until the election was over.

One moment of bog-standard casual meanness is getting all the outrage-traction, from people who haven't shared this incident at all. Even though this one makes it unambiguous that Trump harbors a much deeper and more entrenched form of ableism than the average edgy standup. Not to mention some fundamental lack of human caring.

...if you're worried, and I know I was, the baby has grown up to be a happy and well-loved 17-year-old. His parents host regular fundraisers for the nonprofit that helped take care of him.

sailorptah: Cat in christmas lights (christmas)

Yuletide is open! Here's all the fake news (& related) fics.

It's my second Yuletide, and the first one where I've written treats. So if you read a fic and think "huh, this writing style/character interpretation/combo of favorite tropes seems familiar"...you might be right.

And for a gift -- guys, I got my incredibly-niche moonshot prompt -- it's Dorothy hanging out with lesbians in turn-of-the-century San Francisco!

The Road Built in Hope (5346 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Oz - L. Frank Baum
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Dorothy Gale/Princess Ozma
Characters: Dorothy Gale, Uncle Henry, Original Female Character(s), Eureka (Oz)
Additional Tags: Slice of Life, Canon Compliant, Misses Clause Challenge
Summary:

Dorothy stays with friends in San Francisco before the events of 'Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz.'

---

Bonus cheer:

NBA stars playing Carol of the Bells using basketballs. Hardcore.

Vintage holiday wishes from Catball & Clown Girl:

sailorptah: Hiding in a box (depression)
News That Sounds Like A Joke: "Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was not invited to Donald Trump's summit with major tech leaders Wednesday in retaliation for reneging on a $5 million emoji deal."

How that recount went down: "I did not count a single vote during my entire first four-hour shift. Trump’s legal team was there in force, circling the room like sharks. They were challenging everything, gumming up the works and disqualifying whole precincts. I was only aware of a single Green Party attorney plus one law student in my (large) room."

The Department of Energy pushes back: "We will not be providing any individual names to the transition team."

Good explanation of the Carbon Bubble: "If we can’t burn oil, it’s not worth very much. If we can’t defend coastal real estate from rising seas (or even insure it, for that matter), it’s not worth very much. If the industrial process a company owns exposes them to future climate litigation, it’s not worth very much. The value of those assets is going to plummet, inevitably… and likely, soon."

The Smithsonian has a whole rundown on how journalists covered Mussolini and Hitler's rises to power:
When Hitler’s party won influence in Parliament, and even after he was made chancellor of Germany in 1933 – about a year and a half before seizing dictatorial power – many American press outlets judged that he would either be outplayed by more traditional politicians or that he would have to become more moderate. Sure, he had a following, but his followers were “impressionable voters” duped by “radical doctrines and quack remedies,” claimed The Washington Post. Now that Hitler actually had to operate within a government the “sober” politicians would “submerge” this movement, according to The New York Times and Christian Science Monitor. A “keen sense of dramatic instinct” was not enough. When it came to time to govern, his lack of “gravity” and “profundity of thought” would be exposed.


A point of hope: "I’m going to talk about some other examples of this, some smaller scale and some larger, all of which go to make the point that although Trump Nation may have Twitter, its citizens evidently do not like to put their money where their anonymous trolling is."
sailorptah: Hiding in a box (depression)
Ceasefire deal in Aleppo to let the civilians evacuate. Now we have to hope like hell that it holds.

Shortlist of charities providing refugee/humanitarian aid in Syria. Also good choices: the Red Cross, and Doctors Without Borders.

Trump's grandfather was banished from Bavaria by royal decree, for skipping out on mandatory military service. Smart people. Why couldn't we have done that?

World Weather Attribution: connecting the dots between climate events and human actions.

"I wish I could tell you that when I first saw those requirements they bothered me. I wish I could tell you that it felt wrong to code something that was basically designed to trick young girls. But the truth is, I didn’t think much of it at the time. I had a job to do, and I did it."

"The students displayed a 'stunning and dismaying consistency' in their responses, the researchers wrote, getting duped again and again. They weren't looking for high-level analysis of data but just a 'reasonable bar' of, for instance, telling fake accounts from real ones, activist groups from neutral sources and ads from articles."

"The more people who search for information about Jews, the more people will see links to hate sites, and the more they click on those links (very few people click on to the second page of results) the more traffic the sites will get, the more links they will accrue and the more authoritative they will appear. This is an entirely circular knowledge economy that has only one outcome: an amplification of the message. Jews are evil. Women are evil. Islam must be destroyed. Hitler was one of the good guys."

Save The Food leads with the dismaying statistic "40% of food in America is wasted" -- but then focuses on ways you can avoid food waste in your kitchen at home. Most of the waste is coming from restaurants and supermarkets! Fixing that is going to take laws. Tell us which senators to call, not how to cook our slightly-wilted celery.

One good note to end this on:

"The unemployment rate in the city of Seattle – the tip of the spear when it comes to minimum wage experiments – has now hit a new cycle low of 3.4%, as the city continues to thrive. I’m not sure what else there is to say at this point. The doomsayers were wrong. The sky has not fallen. The restaurant business, by all accounts, is booming."
sailorptah: Cat in christmas lights (christmas)
I'm going through AO3 tags, trying to round up all the freeforms in the wilderness of No Fandom that should be in Christmas Tales & Traditions. Everything from Christmas caroling to Santa pub crawls to ugly holiday sweaters.

As of last night, a search for "christmas" in freeforms turned up 2024 results. Most of which aren't in Christmas Tales. This could take a while.

On the plus side, in the process I've put at least a few dozen 0-use tags in the path of the rake (the daily subroutine that gets rid of such things). So that number should look a smidge less intimidating soon....
sailorptah: Cat in christmas lights (christmas)
...in association with this TV series, and the art is this unholy hybrid of Flash animation and Dr. Seuss's original drawing style. It's such a trainwreck. Especially when you compare it to something like How The Grinch Stole Christmas, which animates Seuss' character designs with so much love and care in order to make them work.

Although I do give them points for making the reindeer look like actual caribou, not Rankin-Bass-esque white-tailed deer standing in snow.

Early in the episode, the plucky kid heroes arrive home, and one of them goes "Look! Our dads are bringing in the tree!" Smash-cut to two clean-cut men, one black & one white, carrying a giant fir.

I was briefly so excited. Casual same-sex couple in a children's show, and not just any children's show, but a Seuss adaptation?!

...and then the moms showed up, and eventually it sank in that these weren't the divorced moms spending Christmas with their exes and the kids to round out the blended family, these were just two unrelated heterosexual couples, having Christmas dinner in the same house for some reason.

Which makes it all the more annoying that the Cat (voiced by Martin Short) is played with the most exaggerated, campiest, lispiest voice you could imagine.

Sigh. I'm gonna go look up shippy Cat/Grinch fanart, just to cleanse my soul.
sailorptah: Hiding in a box (depression)
Ace Tumblr: Support asexuals and asexuality!
Me: Sure thing.
Ace Tumblr: Acephobia in the queer community is a real problem!
Me: Some people are definitely dicks about it, yeah.
Ace Tumblr: Ace people should be welcome in queer spaces!
Me: People should be chill, I'll give you that.
Ace Tumblr: Why are people threatened by asexuality anyway? What's the problem here?
Me: Good question.
Ace Tumblr: It's not like our lack of sexual interest is oppressing you!
Me: It definitely isn't!
Ace Tumblr: You know what makes us feel threatened? When people, queer and straight alike, hit on us when we aren't interested!
Me: ...
Me: Okay, that. That was it. The part where you feel unsafe because queer people are expressing their sexualities in ways you don't like. Where queer people being attracted to someone who doesn't return that attraction is a threat, and we ought to keep a lid on it, even in the queer spaces we've created for ourselves. (Specifically a threat to asexual people, too, as if un-returned attraction can't happen to anyone else.) The part where sweet chocolatey sentiments like "be more welcoming to asexuals!" keeps turning out to have stuff like this as the icky toffee filling. That is the problem.
sailorptah: (Default)
After putting it off long enough, I finally went through the last two of Baum's Oz books. Both published posthumously, in case this wasn't sad enough already.

Book 13 is The One With The Even Gayer Birthday Party, and Book 14 is Baum Breaks His Own Record For Unnecessary Cameos.

***

The Magic of Oz opens with a baby supervillain. Munchkin boy Kiki Aru discovers a magic word of transformation, and decides to fly over the Deadly Desert and visit other countries, then come back to Oz and maybe take it over.

(So of course the readers all had to figure out how to stumble through pronouncing "pyrzqxgl." Wish some of them had thought to go back and distort the audio, so what the listener hears is something they genuinely can't repeat back.)

Baum sure does have a thing for fantasy young boy protagonists vs. mundane young girl protagonists, huh? On the one side, Dorothy, Dot, Trot, and Betsy; on the other, Ojo, Woot, Inga, and Kiki, plus I'll throw in Tip, who considers himself male for the bulk of the book in which he's the focus of the adventure.

Mundane boys: Tot, Button-Bright. Fantasy girls: Ozma, and...is that it? There are Polychrome and Ann Soforth, but they both feel like young adults to me.

Anyway.

Didn't even plan this: Kiki Aru drops in on exactly the non-Oz countries from my last review. Hiland, Loland, Merryland, Nol, and Ix.

He ends up in Ev, where he tries to crash at an inn for the night, only to realize that -- worldbuilding! -- Ev uses money, and he doesn't have any. You'd think he could turn into a bird in order to sleep in a tree, but as a baby supervillain he decides to turn into a bird in order to steal someone else's coins.

The ex-Nome King just happens to be in the area, and approves. "I like you, young man, and I'll go to the inn with you if you'll promise not to eat eggs for supper."

***

It's almost Ozma's birthday again! Look, it was a serviceable plot device the first time around, no reason not to bring it back.

Dorothy is stuck for gift ideas, which is bound to happen when you've been living with someone for, what is it, 30 years now? The Scarecrow is providing a straw-themed gift, and the Tin Woodman a tin-themed gift, but Dorothy doesn't exactly have a theme.

Scraps wrote a song! The title begins "When Ozma Has a Birthday, Everybody's Sure to Be Gay..." ("I am patched and gay and glary / You're a sweet and lovely fairy.")

Toto's advice:

"Tell me, Toto," said the girl; "what would Ozma like best for a birthday present?"

The little black dog wagged his tail.

"Your love," said he. "Ozma wants to be loved more than anything else."

"But I already love her, Toto!"

"Then tell her you love her twice as much as you ever did before."

"That wouldn't be true," objected Dorothy, "for I've always loved her as much as I could, and, really, Toto, I want to give Ozma some PRESENT, 'cause everyone else will give her a present."


Glinda suggests Dorothy bake Ozma a cake. Then suggests she put something surprising inside the cake. When asked for specific ideas, she says that has to be up to Dorothy. HMMMM.

Everyone ships it, is what I'm saying.

(Her eventual big plan for the surprise: tiny monkeys that do tricks! She decides to ask the Wizard for help, because she has no idea how to (a) hire monkeys, (b) make them tiny, or (c) teach them tricks.)

***

Worldbuilding update: they've decided they aren't sure whether immigrants to Oz are affected by the "can't be killed" rule, so Dorothy et al are carefully protected.

Trot, Cap'n Bill, and the Glass Cat head out on their own sidequest: to bring Ozma a magic flower that only grows on a secluded island. As with The Scarecrow of Oz, Trot is missing a lot of the personality she had in her own books. Sigh.

I was going to say "at least she gets a quest," unlike Betsy, whose only adventuring since moving to Oz has been her bit part in Lost Princess -- but on second thought, Betsy being a homebody who didn't care for her first adventure and would rather avoid having more of them is a nice way to distinguish her from Trot and Dorothy. Let the girl have a quiet, uneventful life at the palace for a few more decades. She's earned it.

About that island: it turns out to be creepily bare ("How funny it is, Cap'n Bill, that nothing else grows here excep' the Magic Flower"). Turns out it's because any living creature that sets foot on the island puts down roots.

***

Ruggedo and Kiki Aru take on some chimera forms, fly back to Oz, and land in a Gillikin forest with an animal kingdom.

Kiki Aru provides the transformations -- he's smart enough not to let Ruggedo in on the magic word -- while Ruggedo does the planning and the talking. He spins a tale that the people of the Emerald City are plotting to invade the forest and enslave the animals, so clearly they need to attack first and enslave the people instead. Based on hearsay from some creatures they've never seen or heard of before. Yep.

The animals are...admirably skeptical. Kiki Aru transforms a couple of them, backing up the "we're magicians" part of the story, but nothing more.

And this is the point where Dorothy and the Wizard just walk in. Or rather, ride in on the backs of a giant frickin' lion and tiger, while the transformed Ruggedo is all ::sweats nervously:: in the background.

The Lion introduces himself: "I am called the 'Cowardly Lion,' and I am King of all Beasts, the world over." The response boils down to "I didn't vote for you."

Dorothy and the Wizard are just here to hire some monkeys, but baby supervillain Kiki panics and does a rapid round of transformations on them. Plus on Ruggedo -- who gets to be a goose, which terrifies him, because what if he lays an egg?

Eventually the Wizard (as a fox) catches up with them, overhears Kiki saying the magic word, and uses it to turn Kiki and Ruggedo into nuts.

***

Honestly, it's kinda refreshing how fast the invasion subplot peters out. The animals realize the "magicians" were full of it, and immediately drop their halfhearted sense of grudge. A bunch of monkeys even agree to come join them for the party.

The Glass Cat catches up with them to explain what's happened to Trot and Cap'n Bill, they take a detour to wrap up that subplot too, and everyone goes home for the party.

"You will have noticed that the company at Ozma's banquet table was somewhat mixed." Heh.

Character apparent-age update:

When Dorothy and Trot and Betsy Bobbin and Ozma were together, one would think they were all about of an age, and the fairy Ruler no older and no more "grown up" than the other three. She would laugh and romp with them in regular girlish fashion, yet there was an air of quiet dignity about Ozma, even in her merriest moods, that, in a manner, distinguished her from the others. The three girls loved her devotedly, but they were never able to quite forget that Ozma was the Royal Ruler of the wonderful Fairyland of Oz, and by birth belonged to a powerful race.


It isn't until the last chapter that the Wizard finally remembers about the nuts in his pocket.

I've complained about the protagonist-centered morality before, and the ending here might be the most head-desky example on the whole series. Ozma, Dorothy, and the Wizard talk about not knowing how powerful the mystery magicians might be...but unlike with the invading armies from book 6, they're not facing a concrete threat of overwhelming force. It's just a guess. And we, the readers, know for a fact that Kiki Aru is just a kid who knows one trick, while the other nut is Ruggedo, nobody they can't handle.

In spite of this, the characters repeat the "manipulate the attackers into drinking the Water of Oblivion" trick. They recognize Ruggedo, but have no idea who Kiki is, and don't bother to ask before he takes a drink. So the kid loses his identity...and all memory of the family he left at the beginning of the book. Now they'll never find out what happened to their son.

Dammit, Baum, magically lobotomizing characters you don't like is not a happy ending!

----

Which brings us to Glinda of Oz, another of those books where the title character isn't the focus, and in fact is only around for half of the story.

It starts as a Dorothy-and-Ozma quest, kicked off when they visit Glinda, read in her Magic Book about a war brewing between two isolated communities, and decide to go intervene.

At Glinda's place: "Ozma took the arm of her hostess, but Dorothy lagged behind, kissing some of the maids she knew best, talking with others, and making them all feel that she was their friend." I've joked about Ozma's harem, but whoo boy, Dorothy isn't doing so bad herself.

Some final retconning: people in Oz can't die *or* suffer "any great bodily pain." So even if you get put through the torn-to-pieces-and-scattered-across-the-world horror show, at least it won't hurt!

***

The warring communities are the Flatheads, who have no room for brains in their heads but compensate by carrying some around in cans, and the Skeezers, who live on a sinkable island in a lake.

Both of them have fairly terrible, selfish, dictatorial rulers...but both of them make the point that they've never heard of Ozma, didn't know their lands had been declared within the borders of a country called Oz, and so why should they acknowledge her as their ruler the moment she shows up on their doorstep?

Oh, goody, marriage-is-awful jokes:

"I'm sorry we couldn't have roast pig," said the [Supreme Dictator of the Flatheads], "but as the only pig we have is made of gold, we can't eat her. Also the Golden Pig happens to be my wife, and even were she not gold I am sure she would be too tough to eat."


The Skeezers' island sinks while Dorothy and Ozma are on it, and the ruler gets turned into a swan before she can bring it back up, so they're stuck for a while. Baum indulges in some pretty description of the undersea environment. Reminds me of The Sea Fairies.

A bunch of reviews claim this is one of the darker Oz books. It's really not! Remember the first book, where Dorothy and her companions went through multiple fights to the death, and for a while Dorothy was in forced servitude to the Wicked Witch and spent her nights crying alone in the dark? Now here, Dorothy is imprisoned in a place with gorgeous scenery, the company of her best friend, and total confidence they'll get rescued sooner or later. Her biggest fear is getting bored while they wait.

***

Glinda resurfaces (hah!) in chapter 13 of 24. She sinks a model island in a pond near her home, for the purpose of testing various island-raising magics.

I was just thinking how comparatively nice it was to have a stripped-down party, just Dorothy and Ozma...and then in chapter 15 it seems like half the Emerald City heads out to rescue them. The Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Lion, Scraps, Button-Bright, Ojo, the Glass Cat, Tik-Tok, Jack Pumpkinhead, the Woggle-Bug, the Shaggy Man, Cap'n Bill, Trot, Betsy, the Frogman, Uncle Henry (but for some reason not Aunt Em), the Wizard, AND Glinda.

That's eighteen people! Tik-Tok, the Woggle-bug, the Lion, and Jack don't get any lines once the quest is underway. Shaggy, Cap'n Bill and Uncle Henry get one line apiece. One!

Gratuitous magical gizmo for the Wizard: a skeropythrope. He never leaves home without one.

***

All this is doubly superfluous because most of the conflict gets solved by the Rightful Rulers of the Flatheads, working together with a Plucky Skeezer Lad. Also, another magic-user (a Yookoohoo, same type as Mrs. Yoop) who gets talked into helping via reverse psychology.

(The Yookoohoo, Red Reera, is another shapeshifter, and apparently Baum's original manuscript had her appear as a wired-together skeleton with glowing eyes. Okay, that's appreciably dark. In the published book, she spends most of her time as an ape.)

Dorothy has a good moment where she figures out how to raise the island. The magic was designed by one person, the Skeezers' usurper queen, so all she has to do is apply the psychology of the individual. Well done.

In a nice reversal, the end sees the Flatheads all transformed to have round heads, with space to safely store their brains. So they're much less likely to get lobotomized now.

And the Skeezers get to elect their new ruler! They pick Lady Aurex, a sweet, subversive courtier who took care of Dorothy and Ozma while they were prisoners. Good choice.

The moral of the story, according to Ozma, is that it's always important to do your duty -- meaning her royal duty to step in when a war is brewing, and bring the diplomacy.

The moral of the story, it seems to me, is that you shouldn't send twenty characters to do a quest that needs, like...six, max.

Especially since it really seems like the locals had this covered! Which is, to be fair, not a bad note to leave the series on. Oz is in good hands.
sailorptah: A map. (writing)

From the Cook Political Report's numbers as of November 22: HRC is up to 64,500,489 while Donald is only at 62,371,681.

Obama in 2012 clocked in at 65,446,032 -- and there are still enough uncounted ballots in California that Hillary has a good shot at matching him.

So there's that.

***

I knew about HRC making it easier for trans people to get passports, but I just now learned that she did a whole truckload of other things for LGBT people at the State Department. Making the passport office recognize the name you were married and/or civil-unioned under! Extending spousal benefits to the same-sex partners of American diplomats!

So many of us faffed around arguing over whether she was quick enough to make a public statement in support of legal same-sex marriage. When it was a symbolic move anyway, given that the decision had nothing to do with her. We should've been looking at her actions where she did have the power to change the lives of same-sex couples, because, guess what, she had our backs.

***

...and now I have a lot of terrible Trump headlines to unload.

Headlines that you wish were a joke: "Sane, Competent Official Uncovered on Trump Transition Team and Is Immediately Fired."

The Trump Foundation's self-admitted law-breaking [video].

Megyn Kelly opens up about the potentially-fatal level of harassment the Trump campaign sent her way. "We had security guards the whole year. I mean the threat level got so high that it was impossible not to take that seriously."

A cohesive and source-link-filled history of rape allegations against Trump, up to and including the case that would have gone to trial next month if Jane Doe hadn't dropped it because of, again, an unbearable level of death threats.

Law & Order: SVU keeps pushing back the airing of a Trump-inspired episode. "The first air date would have been just after the notorious Access Hollywood recording, in which Trump spoke of using his fame to make sexual advances on women, and just before the third and finale debate. The second back-pedaling for the episode came after numerous sexual assault allegations against Trump surfaced."

"Starting when I was 15, my life was not my own. For years, I had no control over what happened to me. Being in the spotlight makes me wary and self-conscious again. I am overwhelmed with fear that an overzealous Trump supporter might take matters into his or her hands."

"Rightfully, the kids in York who chanted "white power" were suspended. But Bauman feels any anti-bullying initiatives in schools will be easily undermined, considering the biggest bully of them all is leading our nation."

"What may seem like a dramatic rise in the number of hate harassment and hate incidents happening across the country in the wake of Tuesday's general election is not in anyone's imagination...A representative for one group, in fact, said the rise appears to be even worse that what was took place immediately after the terror attacks in 2001."

***

The Stein campaign has officially filed for the recount in Wisconsin. (Incidentally, so did the Rocky Roque De La Fuente campaign. Maybe they can split the filing fees.)

The WI Election Commission currently lists Trump as having 22,177 more votes than Clinton. For perspective, Jill Stein got 31,006 WI votes. "Unregistered write-in candidates" -- there's no breakdown, but some portion of this is Bernie write-ins -- got 26,002.

Deadlines in Pennsylvania and Michigan are next week, and the Greens are still fundraising to cover the Michigan costs. If you're in the US, consider slinging a few dollars their way.

sailorptah: Hiding in a box (depression)

Who should I be calling?

For everyone in the US:

Find your specific district reps:

  • House.gov search page (House only; if your zip code spans multiple districts, this site will let you pinpoint the one you're in)
  • Whoismyrepresentative.com (House and Senate; can't narrow down results within a zip code; clean contact info pages, but check a rep's website if you want to make sure you have their district/state office)
  • USAGov Contact Information (state governors, other local resources)

Okay, I have the numbers, give me some advice

What else can I do while I work up the nerve to make a call?

Tell me something good to end this post

Hillary Clinton's lead in the popular vote is 1.7 million and growing.

Keep that in mind any time someone tries to talk about Trump voters being a "silent majority." They're a minority. They only "won" because the Electoral College screwed us over (for the second time in five elections). We have more voters. Full stop.

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