Open Thread: Spring


Nothing signifies that spring has taken hold quite as well as pink petals emerging around the litter that's become trapped in urban trees.  Or something like that.  It seemed like it would make a decent open thread picture when I took it yesterday.

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead, give us something new to explore!

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And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Narnia: But Soft, a Padding Wooly Tread

[Narnia Content Note: Misogyny, Ableism, References to mental illness, My personal soapbox re: the planetary interpretation of Narnia and why I feel like it minimizes the rampant sexism and racism]

Narnia Recap: The trio have been brought to an underground palace and are being entertained by the Black Knight.

The Silver Chair, Chapter 11: In The Dark Castle

I find it odd, and with no sense of whether or not we are supposed to find it odd, that no name is given for the Black Knight until he turns out to be Prince Rilian. I went back to the previous chapter to check, and he greets the trio and then says, essentially, "hey, I know you!" and Jill says, "oh, were you the black knight who never spoke" and he says "yeppers" and they go on from there. They don't ask his name. I don't think he asks their names. They just sit down to eat dinner and he tells them his life story and the narrative calls him "the Knight" over and over and wow does this seem really strained and unnatural.

I suppose this is because Lewis couldn't be bothered to come up with a fake name that he wasn't planning to use for more than a few pages, but this has the effect of making the protagonist trio seem even more incurious and rude than before. They mentioned looking for a "Rilian" and the knight said "nope, never heard of 'im" and that was apparently it for them. There's absolutely no attempt to connect with this man who may well hold the power of life and death over them. There's certainly very little nod to the fact that humans are supposedly pretty rare in Narnia (the Animals outnumbered the Humans in the boat-departure scene) and that they are looking for a human man the size and shape and age and build of exactly this guy.

Let's Play: Papers, Please

Let's Play Papers Please by Lucas Pope!

Lucas Pope: http://dukope.com/
Papers Please: http://papersplea.se/

Game content copyright Lucas Pope and shared here with permission. Commentary content copyright Ana Mardoll.

YouTube video below the cut.

Open Thread: Flower


For some reason I thought that "Focus" was last week instead of two weeks ago and, thinking thus, thought it might be nice to have a flower that was in focus this time around.

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead, give us something new to explore!

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And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Recommends: Cute Demon Crashers

[Note: Links are Not Safe For Work.]

Hat-tip Amy Dentata.

You guys. This visual novel game, Cute Demon Crashers, is literally the most adorable thing ever. It's super short and only two of the four "romances" work (it's a NaNoRenO game, and unfinished) but it is VERY consent-friendly and also has an option for dyslexia-friendly text. The sex scenes are all about consent and communication and there is a stop-at-any-time button, I just.

I'm crying. From happy, but crying. It's... it's not even the game, even. Just. Seeing something, anything, take consent this seriously. It's just amazing. This shouldn't be unusual or special, but it is.

Let's Play: The Royal Trap

Let's Play The Royal Trap by Hanako Games!

Note that this is a very ~SPOILERY~ playthrough. There is commentary feels about game content, game title, and song lyrics.

YouTube video below the cut, along with spoilery content notes.

Let's Play: Five Night's at Freddy's (Night 2)

Five Nights at Freddy's by Scott Cawthon!

My second (and almost certainly last!) attempt at Five Nights at Freddy's. You guys, this game is terrifying.

YouTube video below the cut.

Let's Play: Five Night's at Freddy's (Night 1)

It's another Let's Play! Of an entirely different game this time!

Five Nights at Freddy's by Scott Cawthon!

My first (and probably *only*, ha!) attempt at Five Nights at Freddy's. There is only screaming and nervous laughter. Incidentally, I am surprised to learn that listening to myself becoming terrified is itself surprisingly terrifying.

YouTube video below the cut.

Open Thread: Something for the fish

Unlike the other one, I did retrieve this one, I just periodically took pictures of it at various levels of tide.


We talk so much about what a fish needs, that sometimes we forget that fish are diverse beings with many and varied desires.  Just because no fish needs one doesn't mean that no fish want one.  And as for the barnacles, they love the things.

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead, give us something new to explore!

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And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Let's Play: Long Live the Queen (Brin Romance)

It's another Let's Play!

Technical details first: I used LiteCamHD to grab the video and my voice, and I used Freemake Video Converter to merge the video files together whenever I had to stop for any reason. And I am still unable to find a way to transcribe these with any degree of accuracy, and I apologize for that; I'm sorry to our deaf and hard-of-hearing members of the community.

Copyright permission next: I thank Hanako games for responding to my request for copyright permission to use this material with "open permission for people to make let's plays of our videos and to use the standard youtube monetisation tools if they want". That's a wonderful policy.

Content summary: Walkthrough 09 (Brin Romance) is my playthrough where I end up with Brin... both in the ending where Elodie never marries but has a daughter, and in the version where Brin marries Joslyn and Elodie marries Banion, but Elodie/Brin is canon. Game achievements include:

1. The Language of Flowers (You have been sent flowers by a woman.)
2. Better Left Unsaid (You have discovered a terrible family secret.)
3. Off With Their Heads (You have ordered an execution.)
4. The Price Of Blood (You have paid out a reward for the death of a fugitive.)
5. Angel Of Music (You have saved the day with the power of music.)
6. Interpersonal Diplomacy (Your actions have caused a couple to divorce.)
7. A Dangerous Juggler (You have hired someone to spy for you.)

YouTube video below the cut, plus game transcript. I also strongly recommend the LLtQ wiki for any questions about the characters.

Narnia: They Might Be Enemies

[Narnia Content Note: Misogyny]

Narnia Recap: The trio have fallen deep underground.

The Silver Chair, Chapter 10: Travels Without the Sun

Chapter 10 is when we finally meet the ensorcelled prince, which I think we're due for in terms of "signs", anyway. Find the lost city, check. Obey the words on the stone, check. Now we just need for someone to ask for something in the name of Aslan. (I kind of regret that the trio doesn't use the signs more proactively, like, asking everyone they meet "and in whose name should we do this thing" until someone pops out with an "Aslan!" and bam, there's our lost prince. But Lewis' theologies do not seem to be in favor of proactiveness.)

  “WHO’S THERE?” SHOUTED THE THREE travelers.

Pro-tip: If you're ever an author and you find yourself hurting for things that a certain character can do, these are good moments to make use of. I'm kinda blanking at a mental image of all three pilgrims--Jill, Eustace, and Puddleglum--shouting the exact same words in unison, whereas this could have been a useful point for Jill to actually be a protagonist. I mean, hell, she had all those mad social skills in the last chapter, and here is where she could employ them in non-disapproved-of-by-Lewis ways. 

Open Thread: Focus


With cameras as with people, sometimes you can focus on everything but what you're actually trying to focus on.
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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead, give us something new to explore!

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And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Let's Play: Long Live the Queen (Briony Romance)

It's another Let's Play!

Technical details first: I used LiteCamHD to grab the video and my voice, and I used Freemake Video Converter to merge the video files together whenever I had to stop for any reason. And I am still unable to find a way to transcribe these with any degree of accuracy, and I apologize for that; I'm sorry to our deaf and hard-of-hearing members of the community.

Copyright permission next: I thank Hanako games for responding to my request for copyright permission to use this material with "open permission for people to make let's plays of our videos and to use the standard youtube monetisation tools if they want". That's a wonderful policy.

Content summary: Walkthrough 08 (Briony Romance) is my playthrough where I travel with Briony to the old forest, win the naval battle, and romance Briony for the ending (though we still marry other men). Game achievements include:

1. There And Back Again (You have survived a visit to the Old Forest.)
2. Things That Go Bump In The Night (You have encountered a monster.)
3. Victory At Sea (You have won a naval battle without disturbing what lies beneath.)

YouTube video below the cut, plus game transcript. I also strongly recommend the LLtQ wiki for any questions about the characters.

Open Thread: Dinosaur


As seen at the Great Vermont Maze.  The maze, for whatever it's worth, is a corn maze.  Which means that if you're going to get technical about it (or try to explain what it is to someone not from these parts) it's a maze made out of maize.
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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead, give us something new to explore!

-

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Narnia: Boys Do It Better Than Marsh-Wiggles

[Narnia Content Note: Misogyny, Ableist Language, Self-Harm, Child-Harm]

Narnia Recap: The trio have reached Harfang and suspect that they are now prisoners.

The Silver Chair, Chapter 9: How They Discovered Something Worth Knowing

Chapter 9 is somehow the best and the worst chapter of this book. On the one hand, we finally get to see the female ostensible-protagonist actually do something; on the other hand, what she does do is coded heavily with female stereotypes, and the narrator even explicitly tells us that she's the best of the trio at this social stuff because she's a girl.

And the thing is, I don't think this necessarily has to be terrible. I don't recommend doing it when you only have one female protagonist in your book, because then you get into the small-sample-size problem of stereotyping minority characters, but the thing is that there is some small justification for female characters being decent at social skills in the sense that:

IF your female protagonist lives in a world that pressures her to be good at social skills
THEN she may have social skills that are useful in social situations

But just because it might make sense to equip a female character with female-stereotype powers doesn't mean that the end result is going to be palatable. We are, at the end of the day, left with a situation here where the one thing Jill is allowed to do well is a "girly" social skill.

We could be charitable and file what Jill does here under "subterfuge", but let us also be clear that what she is doing would more accurately be called "simpering" (and really only works because the giants are too stupid to recognize how far overboard she is going). And because Lewis hated simpering girls, and because hatred at what Jill is doing drips off the page, that also kinda takes away from any of the possible empowerment in this situation. As the reader, you're probably not thinking "aw yeah, Jill is Narnian Black Widow" so much as "yuck, girls sure are good at sucky things". (Because let's be clear: Eustace shoots food with a motherfucking bow and arrow, and Jill prattles and giggles. These are the skills being brought to the table here.)

And it's not just the narrator who hates what Jill is doing; Jill hates what Jill is doing. Again, I think this could be done well in the right hands, like with a character working through her anger at being forced to conform to these expectations by a patriarchal system, but I just plain don't think that's what Lewis was going for here.

Open Thread: Icicles


Picture taken on the seventh day of the year.

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead, give us something new to explore!

-

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Let's Play: Long Live the Queen (Exiled Queen)

It's another Let's Play!

Technical details first: I used LiteCamHD to grab the video and my voice, and I used Freemake Video Converter to merge the video files together whenever I had to stop for any reason. And I am still unable to find a way to transcribe these with any degree of accuracy, and I apologize for that; I'm sorry to our deaf and hard-of-hearing members of the community.

Copyright permission next: I thank Hanako games for responding to my request for copyright permission to use this material with "open permission for people to make let's plays of our videos and to use the standard youtube monetisation tools if they want". That's a wonderful policy.

Content summary: Walkthrough 07 (Exiled Queen) is my playthrough where I instigate a civil war, end it by strategic use of a hostage, and get driven out of Nova and into Talasse by the invading Shanjians. Game achievements include:

1. A Hostage To Fortune (You have demanded a ransom.)
2. A Land Divided (You have faced a civil war.)

YouTube video below the cut, plus game transcript. I also strongly recommend the LLtQ wiki for any questions about the characters.

Open Thread: Apricots

Lynn Greyling's Apricots on a Twig

Narnia: Taking The Blame

[Narnia Content Note: Misogyny, Fat Hatred]

Narnia Recap: The trio have reached Harfang.

The Silver Chair, Chapter 8: The House of Harfang

The hardest thing for me about going through Silver Chair is seeing how much of a decoy protagonist Jill is when I really dig into who-does-what-and-when. I really did like this book best of the series when I was a kid, and I really do think part of the appeal was having an actual female protagonist who isn't a straight-up saint (Lucy) or being slandered by the narrative at every turn as the sinsyest of sinners (Susan). Jill was a chance to have a "normal" girl, just like me, having adventures and doing epic things.

So it's incredibly disappointing to me that she... doesn't. We've given a lot of well-deserved flack to, say, Bella Swan for being the most unmotivated of protagonists, but when you really dig into the action of Silver Chair, Jill comes across to me as so much worse. At least Twilight is about a high school romance and I can realistically expect that homework assignments and long Saturday afternoons will be boring and unepic. Jill, in contrast, is on an adventure where epic things are constantly being hurled in her direction, and she keeps essentially playing dodgeball with any kind of plot involvement, character growth, and even just on-page screentime. She literally seems to be here for two reasons: (a) to mess up the signs so that we can have a plot where people keep messing up, and (b) to take the blame.

I was thinking about this when I was sitting down to write this post, and it occurred to me that I can't even say that Jill isn't the protagonist we were "promised", because every cover of this book that I've ever seen has always had Rilian on the front, not Jill, doing his manly stabbing of either the serpent or the silver chair itself. And, you know, I can't even imagine what iconic Jill scene you could use to replace that. My first thought was flying on the owl's back, but that would be the scene where Jill fell asleep and left the actual exciting adventures to Eustace. So not very exciting and iconic after all.

I've already complained that much of the book so far has been Puddleglum being the real protagonist and getting significantly more screentime for his opinions and thoughts than Jill. Chapter 8 is now going to expand that trend in order to give more screentime to Eustace. Hooray.

Open Thread: Fake Bear


One of an installation of three bears (the others are an adult and one other cub) on loan from the Ira Mountain Association.  People viewing it at the I-95 rest stop are encouraged to visit the public overlooks and scenic views on Ira Mountain.  Route 16, Kingfield, Maine.

(I said a while ago that I was probably going to run out of interesting pictures.)

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Saturday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead, give us something new to explore!

-

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

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