[syndicated profile] markwatchesstuff_feed

Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the fourth episode of the second season of Enterprise, THIS IS SO MESSED UP. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek

Trigger Warning: For consent and body horror.

HELP. I WAS NOT READY FOR THIS TO BE A SEQUEL TO “MINEFIELD.” AND IT’S A LARGE REASON WHY IT’S SO GOOD. AND I’M SO DISTURBED. AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT.

Just… holy shit. I love a mystery that is this compelling and unnerving and then COMPLETELY STICKS THE LANDING. That is so hard to do, especially when it felt like all the disparate pieces of this story did not seem to fit at all. For the life of me, I could not figure out what the catch was. Why was this Tellarite repair station so relatively cheap? Why the hell did this computer appear to have killed Travis? WHAT WAS IT THAT MADE ARCHER SO CREEPED OUT BY THIS PROCESS?

Until we reach that answer, this is a cleverly executed science fiction story, something that honestly felt like a novel more than a television show. That’s a common way of praising the writing for this medium, I know, but it’s a great method of conveying the depth that’s given to us in a relatively short time. The script for “Dead Stop” does not rush through the motions; instead, it moves at a slow pace, revealing each new facet of this repair station meticulously. Right from the start, instinct and savviness tells us something is wrong with this place, and thus, Archer becomes the avatar for the audience. Look, all of us know that this station felt too good to be true. A repair station in the middle of nowhere that perfectly adapted its docking bay to the shape and size of Enterprise? Surely, that’s not just a neat bit of technology, right?

Then, it’s revealed that there aren’t any people onboard the station, and I WAS READY TO NOPE OUT OF THERE RIGHT THEN. An abandoned station is the most stress-inducing trope for me because I always want to know why it’s so empty!!! The writers know this, and they knew that once we found out how much the repairs would cost, we would all be suspicious. That’s the brilliance of “Dead Stop,” though. This script isn’t condescending to the dedicated Trek viewer. Instead, it exploits our familiarity with many of the tropes deployed throughout, and it leaves us bewildered and uncertain. Is this all a trap so that the Tellarites can gain information about other ships and species? Is there a hidden cost to the repairs? See, I spent this whole episode waiting for the other shoe to drop, and THIS SHOW KNEW I WOULD DO THIS. I felt personally attacked by everything here!

I’m also glad I don’t have to write an essay about how fucked it up it was to kill off Travis. WE ARE ALL RELIEVED, HONESTLY. Yet even in that, you’ve got the same dynamic: the show wouldn’t really kill a main character in such a ridiculous and meaningless way, right? (It’s at this point that a certain character from The Next Generation and another one from Deep Space Nine screech at me from beyond the grave.) So why the hell had the computer on the station done that? If it hadn’t killed him, then WHAT THE FUCK ACTUALLY HAPPENED? None of this made sense to me!

Now, I could see someone feeling like the resolution of this episode was a bit rushed. It’s certainly a story with little closure, since Dr. Phlox is only able to make an educated guess as to why this computer kidnapped Travis and then duplicated his body and left it behind on Enterprise. Given what T’Pol and Archer found in the central core, I’d say that Dr. Phlox’s theory is correct. But the why is left out of all of this. Did the Tellarites deliberately construct a station to steal living beings to use their brain’s computing power? I’m more inclined to believe that the AI or computer system adapted in the absence of any living programmers. In order to survive, it “stole” the means to improve its abilities.

It’s a meaningless act, sure. The computer can’t really be evil in a way we could categorize it, and that makes this that much more disturbing. No one will probably ever get the closure they need, and certainly not Travis. That final image is so creepy, too, since it’s entirely possible that the station will continue repairing itself, and then the cycle will commence again. Y’all, this was like a Twilight Zone crossover, I swear. IT WAS SO GOOD.

The video for “Dead Stop” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

[syndicated profile] markwatchesstuff_feed

Posted by Mark Oshiro

I can’t believe it’s been FIVE MONTHS since I last did one of these, BUT HERE I AM. Time for me to make a fool of myself on the Internet!!!

All right, let’s go over predictions from last time:

  1. We will see Jasper again. OH MY GOD.
  2. There will be one episode at the barn with Lapis and Peridot. There were more than one!
  3. We’ll see the Rubies again, but not Eyeball/Doc. I believe I got this wrong, but blame it on it being FIVE MONTHS since I saw these episodes.
  4. We’ll get an episode about the Diamonds. OH, DID WE EVER.
  5. We’ll see some of the corrupt creatures that Jasper captured. H E L P.
  6. Another kindergarten will be revealed. Okay, now I just flat out have a bad memory. I don’t think we saw another one? 
  7. Steven will fuse with Pearl at one point! I tried. 
  8. Connie will get another training episode. Oooooh… I don’t think my prediction counts.
  9. We’ll meet another gem we haven’t seen before. so many
  10. We’ll meet another type of gem we haven’t seen before. SO MANY.
  11. MORE BISMUTH. UNBUBBLE BISMUTH. TRAGEDY.
  12. Steven will learn how to un-corrupt gems!!! I would still love to see this. 
  13. We’ll see Sapphire and Ruby in one episode. YES. AND IT WAS GREAT.
  14. This season’s big arc: the Diamonds trying to retake Earth. Oh god, I wasn’t even CLOSE. I wasn’t ready!!!
  15. The other arc: Steven learning the truth about who Rose Quartz really was. I still think this is an appropriate guess, and it’s gets to the core of the show, so now I’m realizing it can’t REALLY be answered before the show ends?
  16. There’ll be another musical episode. I’M COUNTING A FEW.
  17. STEVEN GOES ON THE INTERNET. THE BEST. He made references to it, but I won’t count this because it has to be a full episode about it.
  18. I’m scared. As you should be.

So, not the worst? But oh, the possibilities going into season 5. I’m so thrilled!

Mark’s Predictions for Season 5

  1. We will get a scene (or, ideally, an episode) devoted to Steven confronting Lars about what he did when Sadie needed help.
  2. Steven won’t even find Lars until halfway through the first episode.
  3. The ship WILL make it to the homeworld.
  4. There will be some sort of public spectacle involving Steven being asked to answer for the crimes of his mother.
  5. Steven will be pardoned in some way rather than be convicted.
  6. Steven and Lars will get sent home.
  7. But not before Lars tries to make some sort of heroic sacrifice to make up for his fright from earlier.
  8. There will be an episode devoted to Lars and Sadie reuniting and dealing with COMPLICATED FEELINGS.
  9. There will be another Lapris/Peridot episode.
  10. We’ll see another Aquamarine and another Topaz.
  11. I will at some point be unable to tell what color a new gem is because I’m a mess.
  12. We’ll find out how Pink Diamond died.
  13. We’ll see the Rubies again.
  14. I legitimately have no idea what the season-long arc will be, though. Not one clue.
  15. So… uh… messed up?
  16. I’m afraid again.

Onwards, friends!

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

[syndicated profile] markwatchesstuff_feed

Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the forty-third episode of the second season of Gargoyles, I cannot deal with this episode, and it’s all your fault. Yes. You. If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to watch Gargoyles

Trigger Warning: For death, poverty, and ableism.

YOU ALL DID THIS TO ME, WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED.

  • I can’t.
  • This is perhaps the most fucked up time travel story I’ve seen in a long time
  • Children watched this.
  • Adults watched this.
  • EVERYONE WHO WATCHED THIS WITNESSED NEARLY EVERY CHARACTER DYING TRAGICALLY ON SCREEN.
  • And then the climax of this nightmare is not, “Oh, it was all a dream, don’t worry!”
  • NO, IT’S THE MASSIVE SUGGESTION THAT THIS FUTURE WAS A GLIMPSE OF THE REAL THING.
  • WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME
  • Can we talk about how brutal this episode is and why it is designed that way?
  • Until the reveal of Puck, I had no theory as to why the Avalon magic had sent Goliath and the team forty years into the future. If Goliath wasn’t going to use the Phoenix Gate, then what was so important about events that happened in a time period so far away? I could understand Avalon sending them to the past, but the future?
  • I have to give this show credit: this is one of the most bewildering Mark Watches experiences yet. I almost can’t believe how quickly the plot twists and shocks rolled out in “Future Tense.” This episode drops us into a nightmare and never once gives a chance to breath or process anything that happens. We go from the reveal of a dystopic Manhattan to Xanatos’s guard robots to Matt Bluestone rescuing Goliath FORTY YEARS IN THE FUTURE. The worldbuilding done here might be sparse, but it’s incredibly effective. We learn how Manhattan’s residents are subject to daily patrols by a vicious security force, all while they wait for this inevitable “utopia” that Xanatos continually promises. Everyone lives in abject poverty. Manhattan is literally cut off from the rest of the world, surrounded by pollution, and a place of endless terror. And for what? An ego play. A chance for Xanatos to achieve the combination of supremacy and power he always wanted.
  • And then we meet the people of the future. Brooklyn is still the leader, but he’s far more cynical. For what it’s worth, he’s also clearly in charge, a massive change from the reluctance we saw from him earlier this season.
  • Broadway was seriously injured during one of many wars over the years, though I must provide some criticism of this. The writers invoke a trope (probably unknowingly) that’s common with blindness: the “alternate” version of a character in a dark world being disabled. Like that’s the worst thing a person can be is blind, you know?
  • Lexington was made or willingly chose to become cybernetic, and my guess is the latter, given that he was the behind this entire Xanatos utopia. And really, that should have been my clue that this was all a trick: why would Lexington willingly do something so horrific? Why would he betray everyone he had ever known? And for what?
  • But at the time, I bought this. It felt horrifying, but well-constructed. And that’s what worries me: a character like Puck probably could see possible timelines in the future. How much of this was a construction or a fabrication? How much of this was borrowed from things that very well could happen?
  • I CANNOT BELIEVE HOW MANY CHARACTERS DIED ONSCREEN AND HOW CASUAL IT WAS. Claw, Brooklyn, and Bluestone are murdered in a matter of seconds and then THE SHOW MOVES ON. Broadway’s death is just COMPLETELY UNFAIR.
  • And yes, there’s technically the chance that none of this was real, but does it also mean that it doesn’t matter? In this context, I’m actually not sure, and it’s why “Future Tense” unnerved me as much as it did.
  • I wasn’t ready for one goddamn second of this. LEXINGTON AND DEMONA WERE TOGETHER. CHAVEZ’S DAUGHTER WAS THERE. DEREK AND THE REST OF HIS CLAN WERE DEAD. EVERYTHING WAS THE WORST.
  • I still can’t.

The video for “Future Tense” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

[syndicated profile] markreadsstuff_feed

Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the sixth part of Thief of Time, I am a bit lost. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

I can’t quite see the point of this. Yet.

That’s often the case with the way I read things for Mark Reads, and I had to accept a long time ago that the nature of this project meant I was reading books in a rather strange way. That’s especially the case for books without chapters. It’s easier to stop at the end of a chapter to go do something else than in the middle of a scene, and we’ve all artificially broken up the Discworld books to accommodate me, so… it’s going to be weird sometimes. Pratchett doesn’t write things randomly, so I imagine that Lobsang’s training is important to something, but I admit to feeling aimless while reading this.

Am I supposed to? Is Lobsang the stand-in for the reader? Because I also can’t ignore the parallel there. I honestly expected Lu-Tze to skip any sort of introductory lessons and instead focus on teaching Lobsang something more advanced, given that Lobsang already has sensitivities and abilities that most monks don’t. Yet Pratchett toys with us and with Lobsang by having Lu-Tze do exactly the same thing you see in martial arts films where a student is trained in mundane things in order to learn some greater lesson.

Does Lobsang need those lessons? Kind of, I’d say. He’s wildly impatient, and he also has a misguided and misinformed view of Lu-Tze. Lobsang went into this expecting he’d learn some sweet martial arts moves, when that’s not really what Lu-Tze does. But how much of what Lu-Tze says is a joke? His notebook is largely filled with aphorisms that he borrowed or took from Mrs. Cosmopolite, believing that she somehow “knew” what the Book of the Way said. He also traveled to Ankh-Morpork because of the language in an ad. And there’s a part of me that can’t believe that someone as clever and smart as Lu-Tze can be so openly foolish, so is he just toying with Lobsang? For what purpose? Is he teaching some important lesson? If so, he never stops to actually say what it is; instead, the text just moves on to the next thing, like when Lu-Tze takes Lobsang to the dojo to stage a fight.

And how bewildering is that? It’s all meant to be a test to see whether or not Lobsang needs to be taught anymore, but the entire sequence is so confusing. Lu-Tze insists on Lobsang using a sharp sword at first, but then he switches to a dakka stick, and there are Rules, and even though it was made super clear to remember those Rules, I COULDN’T REMEMBER RULE ONE. And then the fight is interrupted and they don’t even take a single swing at each other??? WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THIS BOOK. Something in the Mandala Hall is worth interrupting the test, and perhaps that’s why this felt so jarring. There were so many interruptions that none of the scenarios got any closure, you know? I felt like I was wandering through Lu-Tze’s mind.

Anyway, Jeremy’s construction of the Glass Clock is now starting to affect Lobsang. Unfortunately, the vision he gets passes seconds after it’s over, so Lobsang can’t even remember it to tell Lu-Tze about what happened! NO, THIS IS NOT GOOD. What if he’s hit with another glimpse like this during something important?

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

Prompt for 2017-07-26

Jul. 26th, 2017 12:35 pm
sacredporn: Kris Allen icon made by Sacred Porn (Default)
[personal profile] sacredporn posting in [community profile] dailyprompt
Today's prompt is "heat wave".

FedEx: A Dramatic Tale

Jul. 25th, 2017 06:38 pm
settiai: (Blue Beetle/Booster Gold -- dreadable)
[personal profile] settiai
As I've mentioned in the past, I tend to have trouble whenever I pay FedEx extra for an evening delivery (between 5-8pm). Unfortunately, if I order anything that needs a signature, that's my only option as I'm not home to sign for packages earlier than 5pm. So requesting evening delivery is the only way for me to actually get what I order, since they won't deliver after 5pm unless you pay extra.

Cut to the last week of June. I ordered two packages that were scheduled to be delivered on Thursday, and I paid for evening delivery. As has happened several times in the past, the packages never showed up as being on the truck to be delivered. So around 7pm or so I called customer service and started a paper trail, as well as started livetweeting the whole story on Twitter.

FedEx managed to get in touch with the local facility, who told them the package was out for delivery. The driver just hadn't scanned it when he left. ("Uh-huh," I told the poor customer service rep with more than a little skepticism.) This gets a bit long, but it's honestly a rather amusing story. In retrospect, at least. It wasn't so amusing at the time. )

... and that's why I will never again order from any company that only offers FedEx as a shipping option.
[syndicated profile] who_daily_feed

Posted by psubrat

Do you have a Doctor Who community or a journal that we are not currently linking to? Leave a note in the comments and we'll add you to the who_daily reading list.

EDITOR'S NOTE: who_daily will no longer link fanfiction that does not have a header. For an example of what a "good" fanfic header is, see the user info. Please note, the fic must have a header with the fic, not just in the link post, in order to be added to the newsletter. Thank you.



Off LJ Links
BBC: Christmas Special – Title and Cast News! (SPOILERS)
Doctor Who News: Christmas Details Announced at SDCC (SPOILERS)
Doctor Who News: Red White and Who - The Story of Doctor Who in America
Doctor Who News: Tennant tops "Doctor" eBay listings
Blogtor Who: 'Twice Upon a Time' – Christmas Special Trailer, Title and Cast Details Announced (SPOILERS)
Blogtor Who: PIX – Christmas 2017 – Doctor Who returns with Twice Upon a Time (SPOILERS)
Blogtor Who: Trailer – Doctor Who Returns Xmas with Twice Upon a Time (SPOILERS)
Blogtor Who: Video – BBC America’s Tribute to Peter Capaldi’s Doctor
Blogtor Who: Watch Doctor Who SDCC 2017 Q&A Panel
Blogtor Who: Peter Capaldi Gets Standing Ovation & Gives Speech At Comic Con Panel
Blogtor Who: Exclusive P2 – Doctor Who The Fan Show’s Christel Dee Talks After Show, Cosplay & Interviewing
Blogtor Who: Tennant and Tom Top eBay Doctor Rankings!
Whoogle News: Pearl Mackie confirms that she will not return to Doctor Who (SPOILERS)
Whoogle News: Steven Moffat knew about the Thirteenth Doctor But Didn't Know Who Would Play the Doctor (CASTING SPOILERS)
Whoogle News: Russell T Davies to receive Outstanding Achievement Award at Edinburgh TV Fest
Whoogle News: Whotopia - Issue 31 Cover and Details
Whoogle News: Colin Baker is backing Idris Elba for the Doctor (CASTING SPOILERS)

(News via via blogtorwho, tardisscanner (Whoogle News), og_news, among others.)
(For additional news, please visit: googledw)


Discussion & Miscellany
Christmas Trailer Reaction SPOILERS
locker_monster wants to know if it's Chirstmas yet!
astrogirl2 discusses the trailer for the Christmas special
shannonsequitur wants to talk about the San Diego Comic Con Christmas trailer
elisi posts the trailer - reactions in comments

General
nwhyte gives advice for someone who hasn't seen Doctor Who yet (CASTING SPOILERS)
whoandme reviews The Keys of Marinus/The Aztecs


Communities & Challenges
dwstills: challenge reminder
who_contest: "Wrinkle" Winners


Fanfiction
Single Part/Completed
Postcards by badly_knitted [Tenth Doctor, Donna, Wilf | G]
Rock And Roll Heart by jackdavfan692 [Twelfth Doctor/River | PG-13]


Fanart & Creative Endeavors
mekare has Tenth Doctor/Jack fanart piece for summer holiday prompt 12 at wintercompanion
acciochocolate posts a link to the Radio Times article on costuming



If you were not linked, and would like to be, contact us in the comments with further information and your link.
[syndicated profile] markwatchesstuff_feed

Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the third episode of the second season of Enterprise, THIS EPISODE IS INCREDIBLE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

Trigger Warning: For brief discussion of aquaphobia

You know… Malcolm Reed gets in a lot of life-or-death situations, doesn’t he? Him and Tucker are constantly NEARLY DYING, and lord, this example is somehow a billion times worse than when Malcolm nearly froze to death. It’s also a vastly superior episode because… well, let’s talk about that. It’s not that “Minefield” is trope free or anything. There’s still an element of familiarity to this script, but I found myself enraptured by how this all unfolded. It came across as so urgent, first of all, but that doesn’t mean the writers traded suspense for flat characterization. Much more so than “Shuttlepod One,” this episode explores character in a way that the former lacks.

Which is fascinating to me, since both episodes have Malcolm Reed in them as a focus! Yet there’s a stark difference here, and it’s evident in the opening scene of “Minefield.” At the time, I didn’t understand the importance of Malcolm’s awkward behavior during breakfast. He seemed so deeply uncomfortable with the very idea of being social with Archer, and I chalked it up to a lack of experience. We’d never seen him have a meal with his captain, so maybe he’d have to adjust!

Yet the writers build off of this after Malcolm volunteers to defuse a mine that becomes lodged on Enterprise‘s hull. (THAT EXPLOSION WAS SO SCARY. BLESS THE SPECIAL EFFECTS OF THIS SHOW.) I figured that the only tense thing we were going to deal with was the meticulous defusing of the mine. Right??? That was bad enough. No one knew why there were mines surrounding that planet; no one knew what sort of people had deployed them; and Malcolm basically had to make educated guesses as to how he could stop this mine from exploding.

Look, I just love writing where a very difficult and challenging thing happens and the text explores the aftermath. This is exactly what “Minefield” does by having another magnetic leg of the mine attach to the hull of Enterprise THROUGH MALCOLM’S LEG. It is a painfully visceral sequence, and it immediately changes the stakes. The tension. The fear! And unlike “Shuttlepod One,” the conversation that Archer has with Malcolm while he tries to defuse the mine comes off as meaningful. Important. Revelatory! It doesn’t come off as trite as I expected, and that’s particularly because of how deep the writers go in exploring Malcolm. Faced with the possibility of his death, Malcolm is shockingly honest about his family’s history and the legacy of heroism. I do think this goes a long way in explaining why Malcolm’s father behaves so strangely towards him. I believe we knew that Malcolm had not pursued a career in the Navy and that his position in Starfleet was a point of contention for his father. But this adds layers to that. Malcolm has aquaphobia, more specifically a fear of drowning. And he’s not even the first member of his family to have it! WHICH MAKES MATTERS WORSE! His great uncle (I may have gotten that familial designation wrong) not only joined the Navy despite his phobia, but he “faced” it and DIED IN THE VERY MANNER HE MOST FEARED WHILE SAVING HIS SHIP.

My god, practically ANYONE would develop a fixation or a complex over heroism, duty, and fear after something like that, right? I can easily imagine the sort of pressure Malcolm was put under while growing up. I can imagine the crushing disappointment when he chose not to do as his great uncle did. And this episode does an incredible job of gradually leading us to that point where Malcolm unhooks his oxygen tube from his tank in order to sacrifice himself. Without that build up and without the emotional context, that might have seemed uncharacteristic and strange. Instead, Archer’s talk with Malcolm reveals the complicated reality of Malcom’s insecurities and fears, and it’s a heartbreaking thing to watch. Just that morning, all Archer wanted to do was to get to know his Armory Officer better, AND THEN THIS HAPPENS.

Oh, and no big deal, this episode casually features humanity’s first contact with the Romulans, NO BIG DEAL AT ALL.

I admire this episode because it’s got such a skilled balance between plot and characterization, and I know that’s not easy to pull off. BUT THIS EPISODE DID IT. Bravo, Enterprise, and bravo to John Shiban, who did a lot of great work on The X-Files!

The video for “Minefield” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

[syndicated profile] markwatchesstuff_feed

Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the twenty-fifth and final episode of the fourth season of Steven Universe, Steven discovers what Aquamarine’s and Topaz’s mission was. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steven Universe.

I’m just so overwhelmed by this.

Since the beginning of this whole show, Steven has lived in the shadow of his mother. It’s an immutable part of the narrative, which is why “I Am My Mom” feels so huge. After struggling with his own sense of worth, after dealing with his growing abilities, after discovering this massive intergalactic war, Steven has finally made the decision to deal with what was left for me. And it’s really a tragedy if you think about it! Steven never asked to be a part of this. He never made the conscious decision to start this war, but he sure as hell has grown up within it. He has had to deal with consequences of this war, regardless of whether he’s wanted to our not.

And that’s messed up. It’s a messed up thing to have in your childhood, and yet, here’s this bright boy, this beautiful beacon of joy and hope, who is so willing to help his friends and his family, who is willing to risk himself to save others, who is willing to sacrifice his life if that means he can save Earth. On top of it all, he’s also willing to be responsible for what he’s done, and in this case, he blames himself for Aquamarine’s mission. (Moment of silence for my inability to tell apart characters and for thinking that topaz is a blue color? I DON’T KNOW GEM STUFF, I AM A MESS.) I feel more forgiving towards Steven than he does for himself because… well, it’s not like he knew that his conversation ages ago to Peridot would lead to this. However, Steven is aware of what he HAS chosen to do in the recent past, and I interpreted his actions as being a response to that, you know? He’s been dealt a complicated card in life, but that doesn’t mean he relies on that to dodge responsibility.

That’s not the only factor at play here, though. Aquamarine and Topaz are formidable foes, and it’s been awhile since the team was up against people who seem so impossible to beat. Aquamarine’s powers are just RIDICULOUS, y’all. What is that wand??? What else can it do? Where does it get its powers??? What do the other Aquamarines do? I’m guessing all the Topaz gems are soldiers or warriors. Why don’t they talk??? Are they not supposed to? (Let me put my critical hat on, however: this is yet another instance of a large, butch gem being coded negatively. Granted, I know very little about the Topaz line of gems, so maybe the initial characterization will be subverted or something, but as it stands, it’s not a cute look, especially after the Bismuth affair.) These characters left me feeling bewildered, and ultimately, I still have no idea how any of the gems could have fought them off. Even Steven’s protective bubble couldn’t poof Topaz. At best, Steven was able to free the humans from Topaz’s weird fusion ability. Plus, it’s not like any of these fighters are unskilled or out of practice. As far as I could tell, Topaz and Aquamarine were just better.

Then we’ve got Lars. Y’all, the show doesn’t even deal with the ramifications of what he does here, so I’m assuming I’ve got to wait until season 5 to see it. Steven hasn’t even realized that he’s still onboard the ship!!! Oh god, that conversation is going to be so painful. Lars chose to run and hide rather than save Sadie. Or even attempt to save her! You could see the heartbreak on Sadie’s face when it happened, but it was also clear that Lars was more scared than he had ever been in his whole life. I don’t feel like this show is gonna ignore the implications of this, so HERE’S TO HOPING SEASON FIVE RUINS ME FURTHER.

I actually have high hopes for season 5 because this set-up is already so immense. Steven reveals his mother’s gem to Aquamarine and convinces her to take him instead. (Seriously, that scene is amazing, especially Steven loudly proclaiming that he is his mother. MY HEART.) It’s remarkably in-character for him, but it also holds so much promise. Will we learn the truth about Pink Diamond, or will we learn more about Rose Quartz? Will Steven be held accountable for his mother’s crimes? I don’t see the Diamonds as being understanding of this young kid, but YOU NEVER KNOW. Ah, I’m so glad I don’t have to wait for the start of season 5, either. I NEED MORE.

The video for “I Am My Mom” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

[syndicated profile] markwatchesstuff_feed

Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the forty-second episode of the second season of Gargoyles, Oberon returns. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Gargoyles. 

You know, I didn’t realize how much I am into this trope until now, but here it is: the otherwordly, godly being who is humbled and realizes how much they enjoy and respect those who they previously saw as inferior. I did not believe that we were going to end at that place because OBERON IS TERRIFYING. Most of “Ill Met By Moonlight” felt like a boss battle to me, especially when you’re playing a game that’s more open than most and you accidentally wander into an area of the map where you should be level 40 but you’re level 6 and everything hurts forever.

Oberon’s arrival answers few questions about his children, who apparently are still being called back home. Instead, there’s a more immediate problem: a whole bunch of people now live on his island, and he wants them all gone. Obviously, this is a huge problem because Oberon had abandoned the island a thousand years before, and all these creatures and people had made it their home. But the conflict felt so much more complicated to me than that! That’s partially due to the fact that we still don’t know why Oberon waited so long to return or why this all felt so urgent. He didn’t want them gone in a month or two; he wanted them gone IMMEDIATELY. What for? Spite? Because he’s powerful? Or is it because of that “Gathering” mentioned at the end of the episode?

Regardless of the reason, there’s still such an admirable amount of tension and frustration built into “Ill Met By Moonlight.” Until the non-competitors are given a hint by Titania in regards to Oberon’s weakness, there is no hope whatsover. Even with a limited amount of power, Oberon comes off as invincible. Nothing works against him, so all Angela, Gabriel, and Goliath can do is escape each attack and then run away. So it’s an intense cat-and-mouse game that unfolds onscreen, and not once did I ever feel like those three gargoyles had the upper hand. It’s an interesting choice for the writing because usually, our heroes gain some ground against the antagonists, yet there’s nothing in this episode. It’s just one nightmare after another, including that incredibly close call in the volcano.

Meanwhile, there’s a striking sequence in which the other inhabitants of Avalon discuss Oberon’s weakness and whether they should even be trying to defeat him. IT’S SUCH A COOL MOMENT, and I’m floored that the writers thought to address this. Because it is true that, despite his absence, Avalon “owned” Avalon. It was his island, and to him, these other beings really are invaders. Granted, the closest analogy I have to what they are is refugees, since the gargoyles were brought to that island while the humans were escaping persecution in their world. It’s such a meaty question to ponder, even if it isn’t explored more than a minute or two. Who belongs there? Is it fair for Avalon to have them removed or tormented just because it was once his?

I think the answer to this lies in the theme of Oberon and his children. If they were sent to live amongst humanity to learn a lesson, then this was a lesson for him. His arrogance and sense of superiority made it impossible for him to see any sort of possibility in these people. They were beneath him, and he dealt with them with that in mind. Yet without flinging a single punch at him, a group of them won the battle. WITH JUST THE RINGING OF A BELL. It’s a blow to Oberon’s ego, but it’s a necessary one. Look how much he changes by the end of the episode!!!

So.. who exactly was Titania? Someone we knew??? WHAT??? And what’s the Gathering? Probably that magic that is pulling Oberon’s children home, I’m guessing. But… what’s the magic of Avalon? You know, the one sending the others on missions around the world. I always assumed it was linked to Oberon, but he did not make one mention of it at all! I’M LOST.

The video for “Ill Met By Moonlight” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the first half of the sixth chapter of A Wizard of Mars, Nita’s dream worries me. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.

Look, I’m at a point where I just have to believe that Nita’s dreams are a form of communication. It’s how wizardry speaks to her, and it’s how this oracular ability of hers presents itself more frequently. So, given that, what does this dream mean?

Well, there’s the “strange many-legged” creature, and I’ll assume we will meet them at some point in the novel. Perhaps a creature that used to live on Mars??? See, I’m also operating under the assumption that Nita is reacting to what’s happening on Mars. It barely seems a coincidence that this dream occurred after Kit “unlocked” that superegg, you know?

I don’t know what the water means, though I still think the theory I made on video is close to… something? I remember how important it was to find water on Mars, so there’s got to be a meaning to a tsunami on Mars. THAT’S A BIG DEAL, RIGHT. Is it a hint of a coming doom? Is it a metaphor for Nita feeling overwhelmed? Actually, I don’t really believe Nita has metaphorical dreams anymore. They tend to be literal, and the fact that her transit spell wouldn’t work in the dream makes me believe this is all a huge warning.

I THINK. This really could be residual anxiety and fear leftover from the Pullulus, but I’m not betting on it. SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN.

In the meantime, Duane peppers the first half of this chapter with a number of cool character moments between Nita and her father. We get to see the first result of the new arrangement that was made so that Harry can check in with and watch Dairine while she’s in Wellakh. It’s a good solution so far, especially since it appears to cater to Harry’s need to know as much as possible. It’s a combination between a live stream and a Wikipedia abyss, so basically, it’s my worst nightmare. (I would waste so much time with something like that, and I don’t even have anyone in my life who I would need to monitor like Harry does.) And, even better: Dairine actually did her chores before she left to Wellakh. SHE WAS RESPONSIBLE. Okay, it’s like the bare minimum, but it’s a start.

I hope that we do get a scene where Harry and Nelaid meet, because I’m sure THAT will be a lot of fun. (Mostly because they’ll likely bond over how difficult Dairine can be.) This half of the chapter is largely a set-up for other things, though, such as Nita’s meeting with S’reee or all the foreshadowing. I AM EAGER TO READ THE SECOND HALF, Y’ALL.

I am thrilled to confirm that I will be a Guest at CrossingsCon 2017! Badges are now available, so COME HANG OUT WITH ME THIS SUMMER.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

A fannish update...

Jul. 24th, 2017 08:15 pm
settiai: (Liara -- bleeding_muse)
[personal profile] settiai
Now that I've talked about real life a bit, I guess it's time for a bit of a fandom-related update. I'm not watching a lot of television lately, and the handful of shows that I am watching tend to be webseries rather than more traditional series. We'll see if that changes in the coming months?

I finally was able to start playing Mass Effect: Andromeda and have fallen back in love with the whole ME universe. I know a lot of people didn't like ME:A, but I really loved it. It's not my favorite game (that's still ME2), but I do think it might have moved to the #2 spot on my list. Could it have been better? Sure. But that doesn't mean I don't love it (and the characters) any less.

On a somewhat related note, I still love Dragon Age. I haven't been playing it as much lately, since ME has been taking up so much of my time, but I've gone back to working on fic. Which is a good thing, because DA is one of those rare fandoms that makes me want to write longfic. Even though I kind of suck at writing longfic and take forever to finish stories that are more than 5000 words.

I've also continued with my Critical Role obsession, to the surprise of nobody. The current storyline is slowly drawing to a close, and I'm expecting Vox Machina's tale to come to a close by the end of the year. Which makes me sad, since I love the characters. But on the other hand, a new story! With new characters! My chances of convincing people to start watching will greatly increase when they don't have 400+ hours to watch in order to get caught up.

Speaking of which, Dungeons & Dragons continues to eat a lot of my free time. I have two weekly games that I play in online via Roll20, one on Friday nights and one on Sunday nights. Then I have another Roll20 game on Saturday nights where I'm the DM. And then, because I have no sense of self-preservation, every other Sunday afternoon I walk over to the gaming store near my apartment to play in another campaign.

So, basically, every other week? I play four D&D games in a little over 48 hours. And even when I'm not cramming four games in, I'm still playing three. Which isn't much better.

Oops?

Um, let's see. What other fannish things should I talk about?

Geek and Sundry and Alpha are behind most of the webseries that I'm watching nowadays. There's Critical Role, of course, which I've already mentioned. Then there's Eric's TBD RPG, an awesome Doctor Who RPG that just recently came to an end and was replaced with Shield of Tomorrow, a Star Trek RPG. Oh, and Sagas of Sundry which is just... gods, it's hard to describe. It's creepy and amazing and I highly recommend it.

I'm not watching Vast yet (another one of their RPGs), but I've heard good things about it. It's definitely on my list, whenever I have free time again. (I also watch The Wednesday Club, but it's a bunch of geeks sitting around and talking about comics for two hours each week rather someone I'm particularly fannish about. It's a lot of fun if you like comics, though.)

Based on the recent Doctor Who casting news, I'm cautiously optimistic that I might be able to start watching regularly again. I managed to watch some of the episodes from this most recent series but not all of them. Still, the ones that I was able to watch reminded me just how much I miss this show. I really hope that, once Moffat is gone, it will feel more like Doctor Who to me again.

The upcoming fourth and final season of Star Wars: Rebels has me both excited and terrified. I want to see what happens, but at the same time... well, it's Star Wars. I know going in that there was a good chance a lot of the characters wouldn't actually live through the show. The question is this: who and how?

I really need to start thinking about Yuletide and what fandoms I want to nominate this year, since it's coming up fast. This might be the first time in years that I haven't even started thinking about it yet, though. That will deserve its own post in a few weeks, when I try to start brainstorming.

A long overdue RL update...

Jul. 24th, 2017 07:42 pm
settiai: (Cass -- shoemoney2night)
[personal profile] settiai
So, yes, I'm still alive. Life in general has been busy lately, and the little bit of spare time I've had has been taken up by D&D and Mass Effect: Andromeda. Oops?

Work has been ridiculous lately. It's not really something that I can talk about in detail, but there's definitely quite a bit of tension between the higher ups and, well, a large percentage of the employees who aren't being paid six figures annually. Let's just say that the amount of work expected of most employees has gone up while salaries haven't (except for the higher ups, who magically were able to get raises when people making significantly less than them weren't), and I'm very worried the directors are going to find out first-hand just how screwed they are if a large number of people all turn in their notice and walk.

Mainly because I'm not in a position where I can afford to do that, no matter how much I might want to sometimes. Which means I'll also be somewhat screwed if anyone turns in their notice.

Add in the aforementioned extra work and the fact that several people have been out for health-related reasons, meaning our workload is even heavier, and... well, needless to say, it's not been fun.

Let's see... I should probably talk about the cats, huh?

Garrus and Percy are getting along surprisingly well. The first few weeks were a bit rocky, but once they got used to each other (and realized just how similar they are), things became a lot smoother. They're at the point where they're regularly grooming each other and sleeping just a few inches apart, which is a lot better than I was hoping for after less than two months.

I still miss Tali a lot, obviously, but the fact that Garrus and Percy are getting along so well is definitely helping. Percy is a doll, and I'm already at the point where I can't imagine him not being here. I just, you know, sometimes wish that I could have had all three of them, even though the realistic side of my brain knows that I never would have met him if I hadn't lost her.

VividCon is next week, which... I have complicated feelings about. Brain weasels! Aren't they fun? )

Anyway, I'm hoping that my brain weasels will go away once I'm actually in Chicago. At the moment, though, I'm not nearly as excited about the con being next week as I usually am by this point. Which makes me sad. Hopefully that will change somewhat over the next week-and-a-half?

... oh, I just realized that I never posted about my week of hell with FedEx here on Dreamwidth. I should rectify that. I want to make a separate fandom-related post first, and then I'll post the whole terrifying tale.

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