AEL dump

Steven Universe episodes — I watched these episodes around when they came out, but then I put off writing up my thoughts about them for so long I forgot what they were about XD Finally I got brother caught up, and thereby rewatched them myself, so here are thoughts.

Tiger Philanthropist is a surprisingly touching exploration of one part of friendship disguised as another silly wrestling episode. We examine how certain activities — and, on a larger scale, certain aspects of a relationship — can mean different things to the various participants, and how important communication is within the relationship to avoid hurting each other.

Of course Amethyst is under no obligation to continue wrestling — and at this point, given the way she seems to feel about it, I would find it unkind and inappropriate if Steven were to pressure her (which of course he doesn’t do, because he’s Steven) — but by not discussing it with Steven before she abruptly kills the tradition, a perfectly reasonable step on her part becomes inadvertently hurtful to him.

It’s nice to think of people in a relationship (of whatever type) being on the same wavelength and knowing what various parts of their lives together mean to each other, but it’s not something you can count on — and, indeed, counting on it, a.k.a. not communicating, is exactly what leads to situations like this one with Steven and Amethyst.

And I think it’s a testament to how much Amethyst has grown that she recognizes her mistake largely without prompting and works to fix it in a way that doesn’t even hint at a compromise to her autonomy. She sticks with her decision, as is nothing but right for her to do, but she does it properly this time, in a way that allows for consideration of the other party’s feelings. She acknowledges that part of their relationship and what it means to Steven, and allows him some closure.

Once again, I’m hugely impressed at what these writers can cram into ten minutes without it feeling rushed or overfull. Such a poignant message in such a brief time frame is just perfect for my attention span.

Room for Ruby — And here’s an episode disguised as a moment of progress in the overall plot of Crystal Gems vs. Homeworld. OK, well, it’s actually that too, but its more incisive plot thread is about Lapis and her emotional progress. And I love that.

Here we basically have Navy telling Lapis, “You suck at recovering from trauma. It’s not OK to struggle so much and take so long to reach a good emotional place.” And of course she’s not really telling her that (though she is being a conniving asshole), but that’s the message Lapis is getting. And it’s interesting watching the other characters — especially Peridot, who adjusted more quickly but also understands Lapis pretty well — try to deal simultaneously with Navy’s apparent blithe acceptance of Earth and Lapis’ freshly stirred difficulties.

It’s adorable to see Peridot turning her manic enthusiasm and arrogance toward the acceptance the other Crystal Gems have taught her, and try to divide that up between established girlfriend Lapis, whose emotional state she really does care about, and newcomer Navy, whom she really does want to welcome and assist.

And it’s tragic but fascinating to observe Lapis’ frustration, with Navy and with herself, as she wonders how someone else can deal with upheaval so well while she can’t. And she’s come so far… she tries so hard to prevent her own attitude from spoiling things for Navy. It’s kindof painfully, actually, watching her struggle juxtaposed with Navy’s painfully obvious deception.

And then pain happened. After having written the above, the flare-up started. So not only did I look into more art than usual in order to keep from using the computer over that one weekend, I also didn’t keep up with logging my experiences, because that would, of course, have necessitated the computer use I was trying to avoid. So now I have this huge list of stuff that needs to be logged, but not the time and energy to give it the treatment it deserves. Please accept the following list of brief thoughts on these various items.

The Iliad by Homer — I enjoyed this epic quite a bit whenever it wasn’t giving me endless catalogs of who slew whom and where the spear went in, which was doing quite a lot of the time. It kinda baffled me how often it happened, in fact, because none of the victims in the catalogs were ever established characters that I had been brought to care about, so it was a little like reading those parts of the Bible that go on about who beget whom ad nausea. But I did develop a theory. Just as when a rapper or hip-hop artist lists all the objects he owns and the extravagant activities he’s able to take part in because he has so much money — things and activities the listener does not care about individually, but the listing of which combines into an overall impression of wealth — Homer names all the men who were slain and the death blows to a rather tedious extent, and though the listener does not care about the individuals on that list, there is still a combined impression of battle glory. Homer was the original thug.

Also, I am apparently an eleven-year-old, and couldn’t stop giggling every time the story mentioned “seven beautiful lesbians skilled at women’s work.” I’m not the only juvenile around, however, since every single character in the story — especially the gods — acted like a little kid. They were all just playing together in Troy’s backyard.

The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan — I reread this in preparation for the second book, and enjoyed it just as much as I did the first time. More, actually, because it was very interesting to read immediately after The Iliad . I hadn’t realized how many specific references to that war Apollo makes in this book. Anyway, I was tipped off about the similarities between Rose Quartz (whom I had not yet met the last time I read this) and Rhea this time around, so that was pretty cool. Nico and Will are ridiculously cute, just as Apollo notes. And when Apollo remarks that he invented mansplaining without seeming to realize that this is a negative thing, it seems a perfect symbolic miniature of his situation.

My biggest complaint about Riordan books continues to be that they tend to take place over an absurdly short period of time, not nearly long enough to justify the bonds of friendship that have been created over the course of the story. That definitely applies to this one. Also, it’s interesting which subjects he chooses to be circumspect on. He doesn’t pull punches about a lot of things, but Nero’s abusive treatment of Meg is referred to blatantly as ‘abuse,’ like, once in this first volume. That’s a little distressing. Still love the book, though.

God of the Hive by Laurie R. King — Oh, Poe, Mycroft’s funeral. Just one of the most ridiculous scenes I’ve ever read. It may not make me laugh quite as hard as the ‘bad translation from the French’ conversation, but it’s still a pretty close second. I had forgotten that this book follows directly on the events of The Language of Bees ; I may have to read them back-to-back next time. This volume is kinda in the middle of my favorite-to-least-favorite scale in this series. I think the ‘scandal’ revealed at the end that makes Mary so angry is utterly stupid, the tension entirely manufactured, and that taints what otherwise might be higher up on my list of likes.

Stardust — I have a bunch of notes I took on my phone whilst re-watching this movie, but I’m only going to incorporate a few of them here. The special effects were worse than I remembered, but the intricate story was every bit as good. LGBTQ* issues not well dealt with — conflating sexuality with gender identity, as usual (not that they can’t overlap, obviously, but this seemed more like writers Just Not Getting It than trying to create a complex character). Overacting, awkward dialogue, but still just a fantastically-coordinated story. My biggest complaint is that it tries to pull that old ‘Yeah, he was an abusive jerk, but he fell in love, so it’s OK even if we never touch on his misbehavior again and no apparent change is made to his character’ bullshit.

The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan — I can forgive auto-body shopping when it’s this funny; Calypso as extremely sarcastic chorus is the best thing I’ve ever heard. Also, Riordan’s pointed, deliberate efforts toward inclusivity keep him high on my list of favorite authors, despite his mediocre prose. Seriously, was there anyone not wondering about that whole ‘swearing off the company of men’ thing the hunters of Artemis do — specifically in relation to lesbians, which you must think Artemis picks up a few of from time to time? So nice to have that question answered. Between that and the Tolkien reference about the limerick, I fucking loved this book.

More Steven Universe episodes — Lars continues to be a waste of space, and the more he does so, the less interested I am in ever seeing him on the screen again. This little jaunt he’s about to take as a prisoner/stowaway aboard Aquamarine’s ship had better do something for his character, or I’m going to start seriously disliking him. Meanwhile, Steven is pathetically selfless. I love the callback — not just humorous, but logistically significant — to that distant episode when he listed all those people, and I’m looking forward to whatever adventure he may have now. Actually what I’m really looking forward to is more information. I hope he actually gets to Homeworld, and that this isn’t yet another abortive attempt at getting to the heart of the past and Rose Quartz and everything. I believe we’re starting to creep up on the end of the series here, so I think there’s hope.

Red Hood’s Revenge by Jim C. Hines — I like this book, but it’s probably my least favorite in the series. Which is sad, because seeing Talia happy for a while with her ex/person-she-can’t-be-together-with-on-a-long-term-basis is very pleasant, and the political stuff with the fairies is great. I love Danielle’s assessment of Snow’s feelings about Talia and Talia’s current relationship. All the Snow/Talia drama is grade A stuff. But I don’t really have anything else to say about this installment.

Pirate King by Laurie R. King — This book is freaking hilarious, and it makes my head spin (in a good way) trying to count the levels of meta. I don’t know why King chose to write something so ridiculously funny in the middle of her fairly serious series about Sherlock Holmes and Mary-Sue, but I’m totally on board (pun intended). And she drops a freaking piano on him at the end. LOL. I still think Mary’s annoyance with Mycroft is ridiculous and fakey, but this interlude at sea with a film crew and pirates is well worth it.

The Odyssey by Homer — I may have these books out of the order in which I read them; I forget. Not important. I like this one a lot better than The Iliad , mostly because of a lack of death catalogs. And this one is such a fun adventure. Though what’s with Odysseus longing to be home with his wife, yet constantly cheating on her? I know, I know, ideas of marriage and fidelity were slightly different in that culture, but seriously… it makes me like him a lot less, and he was one of the only most likable characters in the previous story, so that’s sad. Anyway it is, as I said, a great adventure story, and, though I know it’s been done before, I’m ruminating on a fanfiction take on the events in which Saitou, presumed dead after Shishio’s fortress, has to make his way home to Sano through a silly sequence of mishaps while poor Sano is fending off the attentions of all the other dudes in the RK cast.

The Snow Queen’s Shadow by Jim C. Hines — Holy crap, this book. Overall, I’m not a fan of tragedy, and don’t think it automatically makes a work more artistic, but I do think it, like many other literary devices, can enhance a good story if used well. And, DAMN, was it used well here. I’ve mentioned that interesting feeling — specifically in reference to horror/suspense movies — where you get more and more tense wondering how the hero is going to get out of the situation, only to realize eventually that they simply aren’t. That was definitely present in this book. And all the gorgeous emotions, and the excellent tying together of various elements from the previous three books… What a spectacular way to end a series.

Batman: the Animated Series (yes, again) — Still plugging away at this. I just wanted to mention that I finally got to a string of episodes that seems to justify everyone’s praise of this show. Like the writers finally hit their stride or something. It’s delightful. My favorite so far has been See No Evil, which managed some fairly realistic dialogue and relatively subtle conveyance of information in addition to having a really solid story.

Sagebrush Trail — It’s consistently amazing to me how beautiful John Wayne was as a young man. Like, wow. I don’t find many of the male-types attractive, but I am really drawn to his face. Anyway. Somewhat to my own surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Pretty good plot, fairly badass love interest, and mostly a really interesting showcase of 1930’s minimalistic (by necessity) moviemaking techniques. I wish whoever had made this DVD had bothered to add some closed captions, however — the sound quality made it a little difficult to have more than a vague idea what was going on in certain scenes.

Seta no Hanayome — I watched about two thirds of this series once upon a time, now have it on DVD, and am watching it all the way through with brother. We’re halfway in at this point. Despite some weird and offensive ideas about the interaction of men and women and what makes a good marriage, I still really like this show. It’s incredibly funny — though its frantic brand of humor does make it somewhat exhausting to watch — and does the harem formula a little differently by having its main character actively trying to be a good person and not a misogynist jerk. I’m looking forward to finding out how it ends.

Spider-Man/Deadpool: Isn’t it Bromantic — Despite reading mostly manga as far as comics are concerned, every once in a while (in this instance because I got a free gift on Amazon), I pick up a western title. I used to love Spider-Man quite a bit, and he’s still my favorite this side of the Pacific. So when I was offered a free selection and saw that one of the options on the list involved Deadpool flirting with him, I knew that was the correct choice. And the problem with that, of course, is that I have no idea what’s going on in the Marvel universe these days, so a lot of references go right over my head, and I spend my entire time reading in a state of relatively content confusion. Therefore all I can really comment on is the visual quality. And it’s excellent. I will always love the various styles of manga art, but good ol’ mainstream American comics art (the modern stuff, I mean, not any of that silver and gold shit) with its beautifully highlighted musculature will always have a special place in my heart.

The Sword in the Stone by T. H. White — Ah, here I am at what I’m actually reading now, finally. I first read this book when I was a kid, and have gotten back around to it at last. I remembered it being fun, but I wasn’t aware until reading it as an adult just how charming it is. The narrating voice, speaking from the era the book was written in rather than the era in which it’s set, with its occasional references to all the time that has passed since this story supposedly took place and to cinemas and other more modern things as points of comparison, is really quite adorable. The conceit is almost a new take on that old ‘excuse for the story’ technique I’ve ranted about before and hate so much, but it’s much more matter-of-fact than that, and without any found manuscripts or framework narratives involved, and therefore far less annoying.

Of course going into a book written by a man in the 30’s and set much, much earlier (though not nearly, I believe, as early as Arthurian legend usually falls), you kinda brace yourself for sexism (and all the other isms, though I, at least, tend to find sexism the most prevalent). So what was my delight when Maid Marian showed up, and the narration made a specific point of mentioning all her badass skills, the fact that she was a trained soldier and as effective as any other member of Robin’s band, and that the boys rethought their initial resentment of being assigned to her group and came to recognize what an awesome person she was. I appreciated the hell out of that.

I believe I’m fairly close to the end of this book, if I’m remembering its events correctly from all those years ago. The entirety of The Once and Future King is thirty freaking hours long, so I will put something else in between this one and the next installment. But I may have a few more thoughts about The Sword in the Stone in my next AEL. For now, I’ve finally managed to get through this one, and hopefully will be back on track with more thorough thoughts about things I experience in future.

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