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Short form; wow, that wasn't a very good superhero movie.

Movie discussion with lots of spoilers. )
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Watching anything about NYC in the 30s and 40s, where the police are involved, pings weirdly. (In this case about the reclusive Collyer brothers, who died in 1947). Family stories. )
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So I was talking earlier, on Mastodon, about how one of the nastier bits of 45's regime for me is how having this script, "the President's an egregious asshole and the Republicans do whatever the hell they like, and my fellow citizens are cool with this," constantly running in the background, is a really bad callback for someone my age.

A lot of whitewashing and gaslighting was going on in my personal life, and that stacks up really badly with the context of being told things were just great/we live in the best country in the world/the president's restoring the pride we lost when we withdrew from Vietnam/etc etc. So for me, having that background script automatically makes the my personal crap feel a lot more threatening and oppressive than it would otherwise.

Something my younger friends will thankfully not have, because of an internet that just wasn't around in the '80s (net neutrality is important, y'all). Basically everything in your reality came through what the adults wanted you to think and, well, if you weren't lucky...

This means I wanted to talk about a happier memory relating to the same lack of context, and true to form, it's about D&D. Okay, AD&D at the time. Here's the part I really wanted to talk about. )
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Dissatisfaction with Episode VIII spoilers below )
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So I realized a dumb thing about Young Frankenstein, my fave Mel Brooks movie; it's a redemption arc for Frederic Frankenstein, and the Frankenstein legacy in general.

Typically reasons I think it's the best Mel Brooks movie are that his love for the old Universal films really shines through, and because he can't resort to jokes about Jews, Blacks and Gays, which are sort of Mel Brooks' lazy default. Even the obvious sloppy default dick size joke doesn't surface all that often.

But now I'm thinking the biggest reason it's so good is that there's actual substance. I figure anyone watching the movie will have Shelley's original or the Universal films tucked in their head, all these story lines in which Victor Frankenstein either really hates his creation (heck, for just looking like a batch of corpses he stitched together!) or at best the Monster is only an intellectual curiosity for him. By comparison Frederic's relationship to his Monster starts as intellectual curiosity, goes to acceptance (of basically his own severely developmentally disabled child), and eventually risking his own life to try giving the Monster a chance at survival. Take out the jokes and it's a pretty solid story, by comparison to say Spaceballs, which is incredibly fun but there's not really all that much there.
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A photo; Deinocheirus forelimbs, pretty much the only part of the animal we've ever found, framing a Mongolian paleontologist. The fossils come from his country. He is wearing fairly traditional clothes, with a western-styled Stetson, both of which are imminently practical outdoor wear. There appears to be no shame at either hanging on to older Mongolian traditions or accepting newer things, like the hat or the profession.
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The short form is I think they had the makings of a great film and they made an okay film. It's like if someone made Bladerunner based on what they thought 2017 audiences would like, rather than if they'd made Bladerunner. Very few of my quibbles are about visuals; the visuals of Bladerunner 2049 are gorgeous.

Apparently I have lots of opinions about a sequel to a movie I thought couldn't have/didn't need a sequel, a sequel which at some level I'd wanted for literally decades. )
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This sudden realization about storytelling as a gamemaster;

You're not actually there to tell your cool story. You are there to ride herd on 3-10 other nerds and help the story you're making together be enjoyable, in part by making sure the pacing doesn't bog down. The reason you bring a cool story to the table is that you're providing interactive "hooks;" it's equivalent to a player showing up with any character background.

This is why your story is much more of a fallback than an overarching driving plot; having no story at all is the opposite extreme from railroading your players, and we all know how much fun that extreme is.

At some point people will be stuck for things to do, and while characters can get by with no background as hooks you probably aren't the sort of gamemaster who can get by with no background as hooks. "I just felt like doing improv theater with 3-10 people" is equivalent to "this character is this way because I like playing fighters/we needed a cleric/I've never tried playing a bard before," but while there's a chance you're a theatrical enough extrovert to actually go on this alone, very few gamemasters are quite that theatrical and extroverted, so you'll probably want some sort of fallback.
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So I wanted to write about how much I absolutely love Steven Universe. How it's basically the cartoon I wish I'd had around when I was 10 or so. Caveat; I might be really wrong here. I just wanted to write about it.

Something people like about the show is inclusion of Queer characters. I think this works because Queerness is much more a McGuffin than an all-embracing plot point. The Gems are lesbians not because it's important that they're lesbians, but because it's important that they are able to fuse and have romantic relationships, and hey, they're female. Rose is bisexual because her relationships with Pearl and Greg becomes a vital plot point. Stevonnie is MtF (sort of) because the relationship between Steven and Connie is crucial, and having Steven transition (sort of) facilitates that.

The result are stories which are what LGBT+ people want to see; not about Queers having to accept themselves and fight for acceptance in their own and larger communities, but simply representational stories in which someone with your identity is actually a main character for a change. It's like SU fell out of a wormhole from 40 years in a nicer future, when nobody really cares too much about orientation or assigned birth gender.

Far more important to those characters is that they're all affected by a long-past interstellar rebellion turned mopping up exercise, which might become very active and very deadly any time now. "Affected by a long-past interstellar rebellion turned mopping up exercise, which might become very active" sounds like the background to a favorite anime.

I'm old enough to remember when anime was still a huge revelation to us American kids -- you mean people did cartoons with big, long story arcs, that sprung surprises on you? (I love how SU still surprises me. We the viewers learn about the Gem War and Homeworld along with Steven and it really gives Homeworld this aspect of looming threat. For a while I thought Rose was one of the Diamonds, gone rogue -- now I know that she actually killed that Diamond, and there's a fullness of story I wasn't anticipating.) You mean people did cartoons with awesome giant swords, giant robots, and consequences like actual romance, or death? Whoa.

Steven Universe manages to do a lot of that classic anime storybuilding and still be very much an American show. You'll put on an episode with Steven being the classic slightly bratty American protagonist obsessed with doughnuts and Dogcopter, and then next episode there'll be some gigantic plot exploration that ends with him shivering in a ball as he realizes he -- and his mother -- are capable of doing terrible things. That sort of thing. Whoa.

I grew up with a lot of kid-focused media being soft-pedaled and I think children understand that the world is full of incredible hurt. Now that I'm older, I really appreciate that Steven Universe isn't really made for me; that it's intended as something an 8-16 year old might watch.

So... parental adults who are deeply, deeply flawed, and yet they aren't just a bad Simpsons joke, they're clearly capable caregivers? Finding independence from well-meaning but controlling parents? Having Pearl and Bismuth step beyond assigned societal roles to become truly expert at what they prefer? Trying to sort out the emotional mess of a caregiver having died? That you can be a chunky little kid and still be a fantastic athlete? Simply having a male apparently-white protagonist, only this time, it's okay that he's emotional, caring, and that his superpowers are about defense and healing? Heck, putting mindfulness to work for you?

This is all good stuff; things I would like my kids to see if I had kids, things I wish I'd seen in a cartoon when I was 10, and it's not phrased with the heavyhanded moralism of earlier cartoons.

The other thing about age here is that SU does a great job with "not everyone watching this is going to be 8-16." I was completely floored when the show included Yellow Submarine's Dreadful Flying Glove; I was completely floored when Jasper pounds the bejeebers out of corrupted monsters in subarctic Canada, and it's basically riffing on Sabertooth. I was never a Dragonball fan enough to watch the Rubies emerge from their spacecraft and go "oh wow it's a Dragonball reference!" But I know that happened.

The show is not perfect. But no show is, y'know? I'll definitely settle for an-at-least-okay-show-which-can-be-amazing. There are some episodes which aren't at all my thing, and that's cool; I've seen someone really tear into the show about racial presentation, and yeah they had valid points, but ultimately it's a more important to me that a cartoon actually have representation at all, than that it's a perfect representation.

And from here out we get into the art style. I think I'm going to settle down now, because there's no way I can praise the art style (especially those backgrounds!) without babbling incoherently about stylization and color use.
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I sometimes think hate is sort of a long-term, survival instinct take on anger.

If you're afraid of something, anger helps you fight it or get away. But if you can't do anything, you get this brooding resentment as a survival mechanism, which informs your decision making for when you can't escape and you can't fight.

Any narrative is going to be exchanging the here and now for a simpler and less accurate way to process, a convenience when dealing with lots of information while low on emotional resources. To come up with actual hate, actual bigotry, takes a lot of stress. Without a lot of stress, it's illusory, it's training, it fades away with exposure to whichever group. Think about people who are targets of hate, or who you yourself might hate. These are almost always people you don't get to see and know as humans, so instead you've learned about them only as threats.

Since we're talking about having a lack of emotional space to cope with perceived threat in a more nuanced, by-situation, realistic way; it doesn't need to be stress generated by the group you might hate. If you're poor in the USA, you're under a lot of stress. If you're informed by a religion which tells you God is out there, providing only vague and conditional promises of Heaven while quite, quite willing to slam you into everlasting suffering for a relatively few years of poor behavior, you're already stressed and set up with hostile narrative.

I get the impression a lot of Trump's supporters are pretty darn stressed. I mean yeah, they're indulging in all sorts of prejudice, but I can sorta see where it's coming from; I'm dirt poor, I feel under siege, I'm sort of a left-wing version of the same stuff. (I see some of the same outpouring of resentment towards the Democrat establishment's dismissal of more liberal politics, and on my side, the seeming-official narratives that characterize Sanders' supporters as misogynists, privileged whites, and poor losers doesn't really strike me as a way to win us over.)

What I can't tell you is whether the people orchestrating all this feel some of the same fear and inability to fight or run. I've read that Rupert Murdoch bases a lot of his decisions in feeling constantly besieged, but it's hard to believe that a Trump, Ryan, Cruz, McCrory, the rest of the leadership types of seemingly infinite financial resource, actually could fear anything; it's hard to believe they're not being purely manipulative.
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Was thinking. Skill builds on itself. The more I experience and the more skilled I get, the more I can get more out of experience and training to plug back in; my brain's now capable of understanding the pattern, and improvising off that.

So now I am thinking what consists of natural talent is the initial core of material to plug into, build and improvise off of; the "talented" person is much more the person who can hit the ground running, where the rest of us need to stretch out, warm up.

It's not like Mozart started out as late-20s-something-Mozart, it's more like Mozart as a 10 year old prodigy had a lot more of the stuff that he could work with to build 28-year-old-Mozart skills.
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possibly the most regional-specific nerdy comment I have ever made;

Since I've never run or played Dark Sun (wanted to), I didn't know the Ziggurat of Kalak, in Tyr, was rainbow colored (the bricks are glazed, it's not a paint job). Nor did I know the Ziggurat's history.

So instead my theory was the Ziggurat was the gleaming center of Tyr's Gay district, back when it was predominantly full of slaves and mul gladiators. But these days wealthy templars and merchants have bought all the houses, so you're unlikely to find a mul gladiator or Gay bar, let alone anyone who owns fewer than two iron weapons.
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You just drank the 19th century’s most brilliant scientific mind dude. #vanhelsing

Their main agricultural product is torches. And absinthe! #vanhelsing

His face rings a bell! #vanhelsing

We just keep all this crap under major pilgrimage site, nobody cares. #vanhelsing

Gee this ring with a little dragon couldn’t be related to Dracula. #vanhelsing

Transylvania where the rulers have been very stationary Roma for centuries somehow. #vanhelsing

I’m glad we caught you at home. Can we use your phone? We’re both in a bit of a hurry. #vanhelsing

Gee cause the locals have had no experience with vampires the last 500 years. #vanhelsing

“I can sense fresh blood rushing through her veins.” Actually that’s deoxygenated blood. #vanhelsing

Curse this loveless undead existence. The eternal night filled with naught but 5 dots in Dominate and 3 Celerity. #vanhelsing

Their house is a museum where people come to see ‘em. #vanhelsing

Jonesy! Jonesy! Miao! #vanhelsing

He transforms into a werewolf and no horse tonker? #vanhelsing

Let’s go hunting werewolves after dark kinda like I said was a bad idea 8 minutes ago. #vanhelsing

“Why do you do it, this job of yours?” Oh, dental, 401k. The usual. #vanhelsing

Looks like some sorta secretion. Yeah but secreted from what? #vanhelsing

“How do you know me?” Oh your FetLife profile. #vanhelsing

He vould hev a gigantic Schwanstuecker. #vanhelsing

On the internet nobody knows you’re a lifeless mockery of human existence created by late 19th century science. #vanhelsing

Your family’s hunted vampires for centuries and NOW you’re surprised Dracula has no heartbeat. #vanhelsing

Uttidi! #vanhelsing

“He isn’t evil!” Yes but the monster isn’t Frankenstein either. #vanhelsing

“Go! Find the cure!” But I like Sisters of Mercy more. #vanhelsing

He loses more ceiling-cycling midget lab assistants that way. #vanhelsing

We put the acid vat right in the middle of the lab where it’s most useful. #vanhelsing

He remains a werewolf long enough to get in one last cliche. #vanhelsing

Her grandson’s gonna find her burned mask and vow to finish what she started. #vanhelsing
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Open art question.

I've been on DeviantArt for 10 years now, but have never gotten a huge influx of followers or a Daily Deviation or any of the other bits of acclaim. I actually think that popularity-makes-you-more-popular widget discourages me far worse than FurAffinity (which does have popularity games, but not institutionally promoted ones), or Tumblr. I visit DA a lot less often than the other sites (this discouragement might be part of it, but not that consciously), and I think I might simply stop posting there.

However, I have gotten commissions from people on Deviant, and a lot of why I do art is that I want to make people a little happier, which I can't do if they can't see my stuff.

Do you think I should I keep posting to DA?
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Zootopia turned out to be really awesome. I was expecting it to be something like Big Hero 6, which was technically spot-on in so many ways and yet never became a compelling story.

I don't think this is a huge spoiler, but with this one, the protagonists actually have real growth and real feelings of loss - and even though the movie ends with a lot of hope, it's more realistic, more nuanced. These are characters 'way more sympathetic than Disney's had for a while now, so I came away loving the movie, and I think I would have if they were cartoon humans.

Another not-really-a-spoiler is that the big character growth is on the main two protagonists, with little bits of really good characterization for some of the other characters, so it was much easier to care about those two.

Since I tend to get weepy during movies, I was expecting some part of this one would make me tear up. The spoiler. )
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I got this joke in a dream, last night. It's this blues parody and I'm pretty sure it was basically to the tune of Hendrix's "Red House;"

"Oh, I feel a huge shit brewin' up in mah gut
Oh, I feel a big ol' crap, it's a-brewin' up in my gut,
Maybe I shouldn'ta eaten all that red beans and rice
After my baby called me a slut. You dig?"
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ooh look a collaboration between Ralph Bakshi and Frank Frazetta. This screams EPIC right there. #FireNIce


In possibly the world's slowest D&D evil invasion ever they sent glaciers southwards. Nice Frazetta drawings though. #FireNIce

Wow, Death Dealer's in this movie! Necron's grimacing while flooding the village with an unstoppable white torrent, nothin' Freudian here.

Bakshi rules of storytelling; never waste time furthering the plot when you can spend it on rotoscoping something random instead. #FireNIce

BY THE SURLY BEARD OF MRIFK why did Brak or whatever his name is run away and abandon a perfectly good horseman's flail? #FireAndIce


Nothing stands between the evil frost kingdom and Fire Keep except for a plain and this lush jungle full of Mallorn trees or something. #FnI

Good King Eyebrows and his daughter, the lovely Princess Aureole. Also rotoscoped in lush Deadboring-O-Vision (TM)! #FireAndIce

Okay I got distracted from a Bakshi film by an episode of Gravity Falls that had #dinosaurs and the #Underdark. How could I NOT be?

"Princess Aureole. YOUR duty is to writhe about on this couch in sheer silks next to a jaguar, because Frazetta." #FireAndIce

#FireAndIce drinking game. Drink every time it's appropriate to yell URATEK or I WASN'T ABOUT TO HANG AROUND HERE WITH MY DORK HANGING OUT.

And now badly rotoscoped Neanderthals because that's fascinating. STERN. STEEERRRRRRRN! #FireAndIce

The evil Neanderorcs are attacked by the fiendish _Iguanasaurus stenops_. Which I'm sure is relevant to SOME story if not this one.#FireNIce


MRIFK! And now 5 minutes of rotoscoped escape from dire wolves! And oh hey it's Death Dealer again. Hi Death Dealer! #FireandIce

Mrifk! Is anything actually GOING TO HAPPEN in this movie? I mean even if Dour the Barbarian just met A Real Torakian or whatevs. #FireNIce

URATEK! URATEK! and oh great. It only took the Neanderorcs like, a week to catch up to Brak and the Princess. #FireAndIce

Okay so now, days after Princess Aureole probably left, Brak's back! With Death Dealer, who turns out to be Gay Furry Batman! #FireAndIce

She uses her captured knife to cut her chains! They're like made of hardened wood like in Dark Sun or something. #FireAndIce

No, she's actually still chained to a Neanderorc while Batconan and Brak affect A RESCUE which I guess is supposed to be exciting. #FandI

Also you could seriously get plastered if you drank each time Animal yelling WO-MAN! WO-MAN! would fit into #FireAndIce.

Wait, why is there a party riding from Fire Keep on horses, instead of the Gor-ripoff-dragonhawk things? #FireAndIce

Princess Aureole has been brought to the hut of Thingizzard. (Beware her potions!) And then later the oral sex. #YesYesTheOralSex

So this whole thing was just a setup for Batconan to stand at the pinnacle of a cone of enemies like a Frazetta painting? Yep. #FireAndIce


Did he really just say YOU KILLED MY MOTHER YOU KILLED MY PEOPLE? #FireAndIce

THERE IS A FELL VOICE IN THE WIND IT'S SARUMAN no wait that might actually be interesting. Oh look, Batconan's rescued Brak again.#FireNIce

Well, Necron doesn't consider snub fighters a threat. A dragonhawk with a proton torpedo could disable the glacier's heat sink. #FireAndIce

"Lock S-foils in attack position. All Star Wars quotes full front!" "Will you look at the size of that thing?" "Cut the chatter, Red Two."

From somewhere Batconan's acquired a horse to pose on dramatically. AND SOMETHING SOMETHING A NEW TORAKIAN SOMETHING. #FireAndIce
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Thinking too much about dinosaurs eating people in movies. Again.

Soooo the kids in this movie are from a ridiculously well off family which is splitting up and they're the nephews of the theme park's director basically. They aren't the kids whose parents have freakin scraped all year so that the family can go to Isla Nubilar and get their photos taken riding the Triceratops horridus, nor are they the poor schlep kids who seem to have been flown in from SoCal to run the rides and help feed live pigs to Deinonynchuses. (My head canon about those kids is that they are interns.) This kinda leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Which brings up point two, director lady's well-we-have-to-have-even-awesomer-dinos-yearly because ten years ago a Stegosaurus was incredibly exotic and now it's basically a zoo elephant. I realize this is probably meant as a look-how-unsympathetic-she-is thing, because plenty of kids are really excited to see elephants (and rhinos, which make elephants look mundane and common). Again, "we saved up all freakin' year so we can haul the kids to Isla Nubilar" is not quite "oh hey it's Sunday let's drive to the zoo so the kids can see the elephants."

Anyway. Dinosaurs in movies, I'm all for it.
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The Buddha compared anger to a hot coal grasped to throw at an opponent. Keep hold of it, you harm only yourself.

And that's true, but to keep with that metaphor, I hate feeling that I always have to drop the coal. I tend to think of this as "dropping it is what a good person would do," and that doesn't really fit Buddhist thinking. What sounds more "Buddhist" to me is "figure out something else to do with the coal such that I feel like I've accomplished something, when I can't throw the coal and I don't feel satisfied with dropping it."

Historically I've tended to dismiss the idea of art as "something to do with my anger" because when I'm drawing, I'm usually happy! And I tend to avoid using art as a way to process stuff that upsets me - like I really hate political cartoons for the most part, I hate the idea of making the complex way that people come to beliefs, even compassionate or hateful ones, into literal cartoon all-or-nothing thinking.

But, maybe there's a way I can see my significant anger and sadness as powering my artwork, even when it isn't a literal "I make art to express my rage."