Open Thread: Chain Link Leaf


They call it "Fall" because the leaves fall off of the trees and, apparently, don't quite reach the ground.

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Friday 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 of us, so 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!

Open Thread: Light and Shadow


I feel that there should be a distinct word for this phenomenon since "caustic" is way to general.  There's a quality to the shapes created by light through clear waves that ought to have a name.

And sorry for having this a day late this week too.

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Friday 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 of us, so 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: The Horse and His Boy

I feel like I always open these by explaining why they're late, so for once I'm doing that above all the Narnia matter so you can skip over it! So here goes: This post is late and I'm sorry.

There are reasons for this--I took a much-needed vacation that lasted for two days but mentally occupied me with preparation and packing for two weeks; I worked on Patreon stories (which are my main source of online income right now, and my highest of spoon-priorities); I played Breath of the Wild for many wonderful good hours; I became briefly sick with food poisoning from rancid shortening; I dealt with an unexpected air-conditioning outage that I'm still trying to sort out; and so forth--and I never know how long to spend on those reasons. It's not that I feel I have to justify myself (you're all incredibly understanding about delays!) but I'm always torn between "wanting to let people know what's happening in my life" and "not wanting to constantly complain".

So this post is late and here are the reasons why. I'm alive and I'm as well as someone can be in 2017, which is not very well at all but here we are. I love you all and miss you and I hope you're well.



[Narnia Content Note: Racism, Violence]

Narnia Recap: The fight against Rabadash has been won and we're doing narrative clean-up now. Aslan has briefly visited Aravis, Bree, and Hwin to convert them. Obligatory note about racism, intent, and Lewis is here.

The Horse and His Boy, Chapter 14: How Bree Became a Wiser Horse

This is a second-parter to the last post, so if you haven't read that one, I suggest doing so first here. When we last left Chapter 14 it was morning when Aslan showed up and he didn't speak with them for more than maybe a half hour? Tops?

This is in retrospect disappointing. Can you imagine Hwin's point of view? She got a whole sentence from her creator and then was ignored afterwards. Even his terrorizing of her was for someone else's benefit: Aravis and the servant girl. (When does Aslan need to know how Hwin felt being chased by him? An eye for an eye, Lion Jesus!)

   Strange to say, they felt no inclination to talk to one another about him after he had gone. They all moved slowly away to different parts of the quiet grass and there paced to and fro, each alone, thinking.
   About half an hour later the two Horses were summoned to the back of the house to eat something nice that the Hermit had got ready for them and Aravis, still walking and thinking, was startled by the harsh sound of a trumpet outside the gate.
   “Who is there?” said Aravis.
   “His Royal Highness Prince Cor of Archenland,” said a voice from outside.

Writings: Sorted


Growing up, I was one of those "smart" children who mature a little earlier than their peers and subsequently get saddled with unrealistic expectations from adults who expect continuous out-performance (rather than what actually happened: me slowing down a bit while all the other kids caught up). I'm sure the adults meant well, but there was always so much unspoken pressure in their praise. "You could grow up to be president!" can so easily sound like "You should grow up to be president!"

This piece is a love letter to finding myself and coming to accept that I can be good without being The Best. It's a post about depression, anxiety, and anhedonia. It's a post about loving parents who don't quite understand what it feels like to be less than perfect. It's also a post about Harry Potter houses in Hogwarts and how I feel the sorting should be a yearly occurrence, because I'm a massive nerd. Trigger Warning for disordered sleep-patterns and eating-habits.

Open Thread: Lights on the Water


Portland as seen from South Portland.

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Friday 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 of us, so 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!

Review: Animated Discussions

Animated Discussions: Critical Essays on AnimeAnimated Discussions: Critical Essays on Anime
by Jed A. Blue

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Animated Discussions / B072N4C1ZR

I'm a big fan of deconstructions like Fred Clark's series on Left Behind and Mark Oshiro's "Mark Reads" series of books. I followed Jed Blue on Fred Clark's site and was pleased with his thoughtful comments, and a friend recommended that I needed to read his essays on Revolutionary Girl Utena and Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. I'm so glad I did!

This is a series of incredibly thoughtful essays on the writing, tropes, and narrative arcs within a number of popular anime series. Even if you're not a fan--I haven't watched all of the anime featured herein--there's a lot here to enjoy and learn from; Jed's observations have made me think a lot about the craft of writing and what my own ultimate intentions are when I sit down to create.

For actual fans of the series, though, there's so much more. The Utena essays are very much my favorite, and gave me a much more nuanced view of the series; so much so that I wanted to sit down and re-watch the whole thing after reading. I especially love the discussion around Utena's deconstruction of gender, misogyny, and the difference between "saving" (the job of the Prince) and "helping" (which carries real pain and risks, but is ultimately more respectful and loving).

Regarding the ending of the series, Jed writes: "Utena finally takes the action which proves she has grown beyond the old, Dios-derived ideal of the prince: she holds out a hand and lets Anthy decide whether to take it. She is no longer saving, but helping, letting Anthy make the choice." I love this so much, and it's made me think a lot about my interactions with others and with my own creations.

~ Ana Mardoll

Review: Will Save the Galaxy for Food

Will Save the Galaxy for FoodWill Save the Galaxy for Food
by Yahtzee Croshaw

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Will Save the Galaxy for Food / B01N666JEG

I went into WSTGFF knowing I would like this book because I like all of Yahtzee's books, but came out pleasantly surprised by how *much* I liked this book.

The premise is wonderful, and I commend Yahtzee for his creative range. WSTGFF follows a washed-up star pilot who is struggling to make ends meet now that teleportation technology has made star piloting obsolete. Our protagonist gets by on odd jobs as a tour guide and the occasional ferrying of an outlaw on the run from the government, but he's only barely scraping by and staring down the barrel of destitution and failure. When he's hired for a "private flying gig" and asked to go by another name than his own, he's desperate enough to agree--any monetary port in a poverty storm!--but he's not expecting the difficulties posed by his new employer or the baggage attached to his new name.

Open Thread: Disused Rail


Railroad ties (this picture was taken in America, thus American terminology) are those big honking wood things that make a railroad track a crosshatch or ladder instead of just two parallel lines.

The rails themselves don't actually sit on top of them so much as being on top of metal feet that in turn are on top of the ties, but it's still the case that the rails are touching something every time they cross over a tie, and what that means is variable oxidation patterns.

Thus the alternating rust colors.

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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 of us, so 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!

Open Thread: Squirrel on Fence


I know we already had a squirrel on fence thing, but this is a different squirrel on a different fence.

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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 of us, so 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!

Review: Hyperbole and a Half

Hyperbole and a HalfHyperbole and a Half
by Allie Brosh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hyperbole and a Half / B00BSB2AE4

If I could purchase this book for literally every human I know, I would. The book is funny, sure, and it's easy enough to see that from the free material on Allie's website. Her drawing style is awesome, her storytelling is hilarious, and her sense of humanity is funny and poignant all at once. There's funny material and stories in here that you haven't seen before and that alone is worth the cost of admission.

But what is really special about this book is the raw humanity Allie brings to the page. She talks beautifully about depression in a way that resonates deeply with me. The essays about how she beats herself up for not being a truly good, pure, perfectly-motivated altruistic person hit so close to home for me. She talks about feeling like a terrible human being because she's motivated by selfish reasons like "don't do a bad thing because it will make me a bad person" or "be nice because I want people to like me" or "follow this convention to avoid social consequences". I know those feels--the feeling that everyone else is good but you're a dirty faker because you're doing "good" things for the "wrong" reasons. Reading Allie's words made me feel less alone and a little less hard on myself.

This book is good and you will laugh and probably cry.

~ Ana Mardoll

Utena: Nice Guy Miki

[Utena Content Note: Misogyny]

Utena Recap: Anthy's first attempt to make friends ended in humiliation and shaming, but Utena leaped in and saved her like a good Prince should. But the underlying problem of Anthy's isolation remains. 

Links: Froborr's excellent posts and color symbolism guide are here. My live-tweets for each watch are here. I'm watching the subtitled episodes contained in the blu-ray collection here. There is an HD remaster coming out in December that is available for pre-order here. If you wanted to watch before you buy, you could find this episode on YouTube here.

Revolutionary Girl Utena, Episode 4-5: The Sunlit Garden (Prelude & Finale)

Today's post is a two-parter and we'll be talking about misogyny and madonna/slut complexes!

Episode 4 opens in medias res, which always makes me uncomfortable until I find my footing. Utena and Miki--a blue haired boy we've previously seen on the student council--are on the verge of a duel, which is odd because previously Miki seemed like the only nice guy in school! We learn that Miki is seeking a song he's lost and for that he needs Anthy as his muse. All this ties into his blue hair and with mental pursuits. Utena tells him that being seated at the piano suited him than a sword, and Juri (spying from afar) agrees.

Scene Change! Miki is playing at the piano and Nanami thinks his playing is lovely, the pride of the school. Miki feels out of tune, refusing to participate in any competitions. Instead, he just plays the same song over again when alone. Nanami decides she's going to have a crush on this boy, which is sweet but will lead to shenanigans later.

Utena: Naked Ballroom Dancing

[Utena Content Note: Domestic Violence]

Utena Recap: Utena won her second duel against Saionji, choosing not to throw the game and lose Anthy, the Rose Bride. She's still uncomfortable with the situation, but she can't let Anthy go back to an abuser.

Links: Froborr's excellent posts and color symbolism guide are here. My live-tweets for each watch are here. I'm watching the subtitled episodes contained in the blu-ray collection here. There is an HD remaster coming out in December that is available for pre-order here. If you wanted to watch before you buy, you could find this episode on YouTube here.

Revolutionary Girl Utena, Episode 3: On the Night of the Ball

Yesterday I promised you naked ballroom dancing and today I will deliver.

First we reopen with the frame story of the princess. This seems like unnecessary padding (we already know all this!) but it's important to see her yellow dress and associate it with childishness. I cannot recommend gushingly enough Froborr's post on color symbolism in the series, because it's so important for understanding this episode. The princess' yellow dress of childishness will tie into Nanami's yellow hair and dress later when we meet her: she is a princess and an immature child.

Second, Utena awakes from her dream of the Prince with doubts. She barely remembers the incident from her childhood, and the only proof she has that she met the prince is her ring. What does the ring signify? Has it led her to the dueling and the rose gate? And what about the promise she made to herself to become a Prince? After all these years, is she any closer to being the Prince she wants to be... or is she still the Princess she was?

Narnia: Aslan's Moral Event Horizon

[Narnia Content Note: Religion, Conversion, Violence, Self-Harm]

Narnia Recap: The fight against Rabadash has been won and we're doing narrative clean-up now. Obligatory note about racism, intent, and Lewis is here.

The Horse and His Boy, Chapter 14: How Bree Became a Wiser Horse

I tend to ramble a lot in my blog posts and then I feel guilty for rambling and then I remember I named this website Ramblings because that's literally what I do and what (I hope) you're here for. So if you like ramblings then today is your lucky day, gentle reader!

I haven't updated in a while (sorry!) because I've been trying to finish a book, or rather the first draft of one. I have now done this! And so of course I have a lot of thoughts on writing and editing and story structure running around in my head, and I'm coming to Chapter 14 with said thoughts freshly thunked, and here is my first thought I want to talk about: Half the job of writing is figuring out which order to put the words in.

This ordering of words isn't easy in a first draft! It's arguably not even conducive to the first drafting process. First drafts are for getting words on the paper, and yes, I like to have the words in the bestest order possible for a first draft, but the final form of the story comes together in the editing stage. So much of editing for me is going "okay, I like THESE words and I like THOSE words and I like THEM words here, BUT what if all the sentences were in slightly different order?"

Utena: Bottom of the Ocean

[Utena Content Note: Domestic Violence]

Utena Recap: Utena won her first duel against Saionji and gained reluctant ownership over Anthy, the Rose Bride.

Links: Froborr's excellent posts and color symbolism guide are here. My live-tweets for each watch are here. I'm watching the subtitled episodes contained in the blu-ray collection here. There is an HD remaster coming out in December that is available for pre-order here. If you wanted to watch before you buy, you could find this episode on YouTube here.

Revolutionary Girl Utena, Episode 2: For Whom The Rose Smiles

Froborr has compiled his color symbolism in a post here and I 100% recommend it because it's like a color key to character motivation in the best possible way. I can't gush enough about how this made the series "click" for me because I'm a very Color-Coded For Your Convenience demigirl.

Episode 2 starts by showing us more about how Utena is the darling of her grade level and all the girls are in love with her. I enjoy this because--at least to American viewers like myself--it's a wonderful normalization of queer attraction. (Note: I'm aware that female desire has different cultural connotations in Japan and that "girl love" is a somewhat socially-accepted "phase" of childhood that women are expected to grow out of, and that this cultural attitude can be problematic for lesbian and bisexual women. I'm also aware that I'm not qualified to comment on any of that, so I'm speaking strictly from my own reactions here. Adjust statements like "normalization of queer attraction" appropriately to that lens.)

I additionally love that all the girls adore Utena because it's a way of avoiding the common "mean girl" trap of femmes supposedly hating girls who do not conform to femininity. This is important to establish, because in a few episodes we will see a feminine girl hating on Utena and Anthy. So I appreciate the clarity upfront that makes certain we understand that the hatred to come isn't because Utena is unfeminine, nor is it something normalized that unfeminine girls should expect to face.

Utena: Revolutionary GenderFeels

[Utena Content Note: Domestic Violence]

Utena Recap: None yet! But here is an index of very good observations by Jed Blue (aka Froborr) and also you should buy his excellent book of essays because it is very smart and fun to read and I screamed in agreement at several points which is how you know it's good. Review to come later after I make my thoughts coherent enough to word.

Deconstruction Details: I'm watching the subtitled episodes contained in the blu-ray collection here. There is an HD remaster coming out in December that is available for pre-order here and which looks awesome. If you wanted to watch an episode before you buy, you could find this episode on YouTube here.

Revolutionary Girl Utena, Episode 1: The Rose Bride

After I finished a first draft for an upcoming book, I announced there would be more Narnia posts. I then sat down and started writing a Narnia post. It is now four days later and I am still writing the Narnia post. Apparently I have a lot to say about Narnia!

To take a break from the massive Narnia post, I spent an evening rewatching the first episode of Revolutionary Girl Utena and live-tweeting my feels at it. The tweet thread is here. But then I realized why I got into the blogging deconstruction business in the first place and it's because I enjoy the comments most of all. So I decided to expand this out into a post a bit.

Utena is one of the best anime series I've ever seen, and it's incredibly dense with symbolism. Like, this series made me feel so very stupid the first time I watched it, even while I loved the heck out of it. I've since spent countless hours talking to Thomas about it (who is infinitely smarter than me) and beefing up my brain by reading Froborr's posts about it (all of which are awesome and you should go read! I'll wait here!) and I feel like I have a better handle on it as a story. And I realized I needed something I enjoy here in the midst of 2017, so let's do this. *rolls up sleeves*

WARNING WARNING WARNING: THIS WILL NOT BE A SPOILER-FREE ZONE.

There's stuff that happens in the third arc of Utena which radically alters everything that has come before in amazing and complex ways. I'm going into this already having seen the series and I want to do a full "ooh, in hindsight this makes more sense" view which means herein there will be spoilers. I honestly think the series is better if you know what's coming; a lot of stuff that seemed boring or confusing or weird in the first two arcs makes all the sense in the world once you have the key to decipher it. So if you're not sure whether you want spoilers, I can say they enhanced my enjoyment of the series by a lot.

So now let's talk about Utena.

Open Thread: Mosaic


Picture taken in Portland Maine, on Congress Street I believe.  Presumably the northern sidewalk if that's correct.

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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 of us, so 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!

Index: Revolutionary Girl Utena


Revolutionary Girl Utena


Source: Jed Blue
Label: Revolutionary Girl Utena

» Episodes 1-5: Utena Comment Dump 1, and a brief introduction about truth
» Episodes 6-10: Utena Comment Dump 2
» Episodes 11-15: Utena Comment Dump 3
» Episodes 16-20: Utena Comment Dump 4
» Episodes 21-25: Utena Comment Dump 5
» Episodes 26-30: Utena Comment Dump 6
» Episodes 31-35: Utena Comment Dump 7
» Episodes 36-39: Utena Comment Dump 8
» Color Symbolism
» Animated Discussions by Jed Blue

Animated Discussions by Jed Blue
P.S. This book is really good! ~Ana
Note: Last updated 09/08/2017.

Review: The Freddy Files

Five Nights at Freddy's: The Freddy Files: The Official Guidebook to the Bestselling Video Game SeriesFive Nights at Freddy's: The Freddy Files
by Scott Cawthon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Freddy Files (Five Nights at Freddy's) / B06X9C7K2L

I am the biggest FNAF fan. I'm not good enough at the game to play past the first couple of nights, but I've seen a million youtube videos and am a particular fan of Markiplier's vids. I've surfed the FNAF wiki for countless hours of my life and read all the fan theories and lurked on forums while they were argued and hashed out. I own both the novels, and I think they're incredible and recommend them whenever I get the chance. I'm that level of invested, so of course I was going to buy this guidebook.

I'm glad I did! The guidebook is *beautiful* with glossy pictures on my screen (I bought the kindle version) and high quality images. A lot of work went into making this book both accessible for newbies who would have no idea what is going on but still interesting to fans who know all the basics. There's additionally a lot of interesting material regarding the actual gameplay: the sections for each game include maps of the facilities, little dotted-line tracks that show the paths of the animatronics, and player hints and tips. Even for a non-player like me, the tips were interesting to read, which is a hard balance to maintain! That was well done and I'm impressed.

So where's the downside? Well, this book is short. 160 pages and you can tear through it in about an hour. Not all the secret screens are shown, which doesn't make a lot of sense to me because (a) the writers clearly had access to the screens and (b) that's kinda what a lot of us are here for. References are made to "opening up the game files" for ourselves to look, but that's what I bought a book for! Don't get me wrong, there are some secret pictures here--good ones!--but there are quite a few missing. Similarly, if you couldn't get into the novels don't expect a plot summary here; the material covering the novels is more like spoiler-free "teaser" material to pique your interest. On the one hand, I'm okay with this because I *like* the novels, but on the opposing hand I'm not sure why you would include them in a guidebook if there's no actual guiding through the material.

The other thing that I'm not sure how I feel about is the "fan theories" in the guide. The guide has done a great job assembling and summarizing quite a few of the major fan theories and that's awesome! But Scott Cawthon--the game designer and writer!--is listed as an author to this guide as a selling point, i.e., this is the "Official" guide and not yet another fan creation. In which case, I was coming into this hoping for... something more than I could find on the FNAF fan wiki? some official "Word of God" material from the actual creator? I didn't expect Scott to answer all the questions surrounding the series, but a few new tidbits of information would have been nice.

[side note] This book covers material from FNAF 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (Sister Location), and the two novels (Silver Eyes and Twisted Ones). There is no mention of the RPG spin-off (FNAF World), which is something of a shame because while I'm dimly aware that it was a disastrous train-wreck of a game, I would have enjoyed seeing its inclusion in this guide, its secrets (if it had any!), and some discussion of what went wrong. I understand not wanting to include one's failures in a guidebook that is trying to be accessible to bring in new fans, but I would have liked to see it here regardless. [end side note]

As it is, I don't think there's anything here in this guidebook that you can't get for free online. And that's okay! I think it's useful to have the "bare essentials" of the story and fan theories all bound up in a single beautiful edition. Collectors should buy the book and fans will love the stroll down memory lane. It's a good book and I have no regrets, and I'll almost certainly refer to it in the future if another game in the series comes out. But I'm a teeny tiny bit disappointed by the absence of any new material--in a perfect world, I would've liked some teasers released in this, or at least an announcement of a new installment in the series!

~ Ana Mardoll

Metapost: A Book, I Wrote One

*stumbles in*

I have a completed first draft of an entire book.

Narnia posts will resume as soon as I shovel my brain back in.

I love you all.

Open Thread: Purple Poof


The alternation between flowers and birds has been broken via a second week of flower.

Also, while how it displays on various screens may vary, I assure you that the actual physical flower was purple.  My camera isn't the best at capturing purple well, and any given screen may push that even further in the direction of pink.

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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 of us, so 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!

Writings: Outcast Witch


[TW: Death by Falling, Magical Mind-Control]

When I left Christianity and converted to Wicca in my early twenties, I went through a period where I was so starving for representation I would watch anything with the slightest hint of Wiccan-flavored magic in it. I watched Charmed religiously every afternoon. I saw Practical Magic eleventy billion times. And I watched The Craft, a movie which got just the tiniest bit right before going so very off-the-rails wrong. The girls worship a god called "Manon" (nooooo) and magic is categorized as Good and Evil (nooooooooo) and the movie falls into the problem that all Wiccan movies fall into: it fails to show the quieter, gentler magics we witches use, focusing instead on the sexy, theatrical Harry Potter magics we don't.

But for all that The Craft is terrible Wiccan rep, I rewatched it recently on Netflix and was charmed by the fact that someone on the writing team tried. The atmosphere is right, and the girls are believable. You feel for them, and you can understand how teenagers granted phenomenal cosmic powers might then go on to accidentally screw everything up. The basic plot is that four girls form a coven, perform a blood ritual to give them each their deepest wish, and those wishes slowly sour over time. When a boy the girls have been fighting over dies in a magical accident, the coven fractures and the "good" witch has to protect herself from her three "bad" friends, ultimately binding their powers and leaving them without magic.

Watching the movie again, I was taken with the "bad witch" and found myself wondering how her life turned out. I like to think she got the counseling she needed (the movie's ending is gross and ableist, putting her in a psychiatric ward with the impression that she'll never come out again) and lived a nice, mundane life without her magical powers. I then wondered what might happen if the "good witch" blew back into that nice, mundane life and broke everything all over again. This is a "chapter one" look at that idea, though I don't know if there will ever be a chapter two. I hope you enjoy! ♡ ♡ ♡

Open Thread: Pink


I give you a whole bunch of pink.  Also, I'm not trying to alternate between birds and flowers, but it seems to be happening.  We'll see if it continues next week.

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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 of us, so 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!

Storify: Trans Big Ben Heist Movie

I did this today because I needed joy in my life. Maybe it will bring you joy, too.

Open Thread: Egrets!


Between my pharmacy and myself is a long walk, and this particular spot is quite popular for snowy egrets and mallard ducks.  There were actually two more egrets and a few ducks, but to get them all in the picture required zooming out way too much for good a scaled down open thread image.

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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 of us, so 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!

Open Thread: Green, Yellow, Orange, and an Oxford Comma


I was originally going to go with "Yellow and Orange" but there's green in there too, so that means commas, and . . . yeah.

Honestly it's mostly because yesterday I saw a thing where someone had a long list and after the Oxford comma at the end they added "and Oxford commas", which made sense in context because it was a list of things a librarian would employ in the course of the story the sentence described.

In other news, I always get kind of worried when I'm getting an open thread ready and I realize that there's something from Ana that hasn't been out long.  I don't think anyone would really ignore actual content from Ana just because there's an open thread at the top of the main page, but I worry about knocking the content out of the top spot anyway.

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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 of us, so 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!

Storify: Tech Girls in Fictional Rep

A storify on how (certain types of) positive representation can't be the only solution to Imposter Syndrome. Then a rant on Firefly happens.

Open Thread: Geese


The photo is taken from the new bridge while they walk in the spot where the old bridge used to be.

Not much else to say, just: Geese.

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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 of us, so 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!

Writings: Houses of the Gods


Like a lot of American kids, I grew up reading Greek mythology as a child and ate up everything I could get my hands on. I was excited when the Percy Jackson books came out and read the first few in the series before losing interest; I loved the idea but was turned off by some of the probably-unintentional casual misogyny (leading me to write "The Curse of the Smart Girl", for readers familiar with my blog). Plus, I couldn't shake the feeling that a really great idea was being used in a way that could be so much better.

I love the idea of demigod kids running around a modern setting, and an ensemble-cast place like Camp Half-Blood for gathering them all up to work and play together is my kind of tea. But so many of the gods seemed wasted or little more than an afterthought. There are two "honorary" houses with no children in them whatsoever (Hera, who is faithful to Zeus and doesn't bear children; and Artemis, the maiden) and then we see the cabin of Athena brimming with children because apparently the Virgin Goddess of Wisdom started churning out babies for the greater good. Nooooo. There are also houses which are criminally underused like the children of Aphrodite--characterized as sweet, empty-headed cheerleaders--and dear Dionysus who I'm not sure we even see in the first few books. Nooooooooooooooo.

So I've spent an unholy amount of time thinking about how I would handle the housing at Camp Half-Blood and here is a fic about adoption and chosen family. I hope you enjoy.

Narnia: The Humilation of Rabadash

[Narnia Content Note: War, Violence, Chivalry]

Narnia Recap: Rabadash's army has fled, his commanders have been killed, and he has been captured. Obligatory note about racism, intent, and Lewis is here.

The Horse and His Boy, Chapter 13: The Fight at Anvard

Today we're going to see the humiliation of Rabadash, for which I wanted to dedicate a full post.

This passage didn't leave much of an impression on me as a child, or at least certainly not as much as the scourging of Aravis (which was quite upsetting to me, even at a very young age). I think that's partly because it occurs at the end of a long sequence (which began when the party "split" at the Hermit's house and which dragged on as we waited for the war to resolve and the heroes to reunite) and partly it happens to an unambiguously "bad" character (Rabadash) as opposed to the ostensible heroine (Aravis). But this passage is part of the reason why I chose to deconstruct these novels in the order they were written rather than in the order they occur in canon.

Open Thread: Red and Green


Portland, Maine is a city of brick.  Probably because it got burned down so many times everyone gave up on wood, but --the thing is-- we use brick everywhere.  Thus sidewalks.  And while it may have become fashionable to make tar sidewalks and then, before it dries, press a brick pattern into it (and sometimes paint it) we've still got the old fashioned brick sidewalks.  This leads to things like the roots of trees forcing the sidewalk into an undulating pattern.  It also leads to things like the above.

Oh, also, while an open thread is theoretically for everything, since we had the "everything sucks" open thread just yesterday, it might be good to put "everything sucks" comments there rather than here.

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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 of us, so 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!

Open Thread: Everything Sucks, but I Love You


As a trans disabled USian, I'm not doing too well.

Here are some twitter threads for anyone who wants:
* The thing the President said about trans people.
* The thing my Mom said about my writing.
* The thing I did at work.
* The feelings I'm having right now

Here is the short version: I'm low of spoons and in a depression trough so I haven't been responding to people the way I'd like. I wish I could individually write you all and tell you how much I love you because honestly it's a lot. My ultimate wish would be to send you all my love on really special paper, written in way better handwriting than mine, and sealed with a fancy wax seal which goes to show how much I mean it. But in lieu of spoons, I can at least do this post: I love you.

I'm going to try to start sending out early beta read emails to people on the project I wrote about last June. This is less because the writing is ready for prime time and more because I feel like people need something nice right now. Or maybe that's just me. Anyway, if you signed up for that, you'll get an email sometime today about the project.

For everyone else: I have half a Narnia post written. I will try to finish it soon. I'm still here, I promise. I love you all. Please hang in there and be safe.

Storify: On the HBO Confederate Show

Storify under the cut.

Open Thread: Reflecting Bird


Not much to say.  Just a bird that's reflecting.

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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 of us, so 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!

Open Thread: Evidence That The World Will Not End In Flood


Ok, technically it's evidence that Yahweh (always remember that the vowels may be wrong) won't destroy the world with a flood, which still leaves a lot of room for other people and things to destroy the world in a flood, but still.

What happened was this: After a storm there was the most vibrant rainbow I have ever seen (yes, it was a full arc double rainbow) with a supernumerary rainbow clearly evident below it which I don't think I've ever seen before. (I wondered if it could be one of the "greater than two" rainbows, but none fit the placement and color direction, so I had to look it up and find out that supernumerary bows are thing.)

The violet band was as visible as I've ever seen it and had another violet band below it, separated from the main violet by a green band.  (Hello, supernumerary bow.)

But, you see, I was over here, and my camera was over there, and I knew that getting the camera would kill the wonderful sights.  Eventually I walked over anyway, returned with my camera, and as expected the rainbow was much diminished.  Hence the picture.

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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 of us, so 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: Narrated For Your Convenience

[Narnia Content Note: War, Animal Cruelty]

Narnia Recap: Shasta has united with the Narnian army and Corin has strong-armed him into being his "bodyguard" for the upcoming battle. Obligatory note about racism, intent, and Lewis is here.

The Horse and His Boy, Chapter 13: The Fight at Anvard

When we last left Narnia, Shasta was tangled in his horse's reins and I was boggling at just how wrong this chapter is; I refer you to all my other posts on the subject but first and foremost I'm still angry that Shasta isn't riding a Horse or a Centaur who can protect him from this battle.

We know Shasta being on an unhelpful lowercase-h horse isn't because That Just Isn't Done, since there are people riding on Horses for this battle--it was mentioned in-text earlier--and we've seen children ride a Centaur in a previous book. We can quibble over whether "protect the kid who looks just like Archenland's lost heir" is a valid enough emergency to break social mores, but those mores have been shown to be negotiable.

Anyway, Lewis wants a bird's-eye view for the battle, so we zip over to the Hermit and I can't help but feel this was literally the only reason for the Hermit to exist in the text. He patches up Aravis and tells Shasta where to find Lune, but neither of those things were strictly necessary; what he really brings to the table is a big screen television. Bree will be the color commentator for this game.

Open Thread: Shaky Cam


Technically "Shaky Cam" is when you shake the camera on purpose in a motion-picture setting (by which I mean: "the picture moves", not necessarily "industry") in an effort to make professional work look like it was done by drunken under-funded "college students" (scare quotes for a reason) who were majoring in "Nothing to do with film, cameras, or aesthetics" and minoring in "How to fit every negative stereotype that has ever been unfairly applied to college students".

I don't know what the term for the above is.  I don't even know what I was trying to photograph.  I do know that it was taken on July 4th from on top of a parking garage (the one connected to Wellington Station by the really long sky-bridge I'd never been inside before) and from there we saw enough different fireworks shows that I lost count.  Somewhere in the double digits.

I actually worked really hard to get a picture of the stuffed fox watching fireworks with a firework in the picture, and succeeded (more than once!), but you can only tell the fireworks are fireworks by comparing the pictures to a firework-free picture because a) when you're watching more than ten shows at once you're probably not very close to any of them, and b) the ones in those pictures weren't very big ones anyway.

So, instead, have squiggly lines.

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If you were thinking, "Wow, this is really late," you were right.

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 of us, so 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!

Writings: The Necromancer's Solution


April! This month's post isn't especially social justicey, I must confess. I was instead taken with a very fluffy story idea which would attempt to justify the Sorting Algorithm of Evil--you know, that thing where the Big Bad only sends his weakest and most ineffective minions to start out against the Hero, letting him level up against the weak baddies and utterly failing to stomp out the threat while the Hero is still a Level 1 farmboy. I have a soft spot in my heart for genre-savvy villains and wanted to try a hand at writing one.

Open Thread: Welcome to Maine


"Moxie" is a dictionary approved word that spellcheck recognizes.  The word is named after the drink.  Apparently if you're on the "love it" side of the "love it"/"hate it" divide then when you drink a sufficient amount . . . that's where the word "moxie" comes from.

I can't speak to the accuracy of that because the only time I tried some I immediately spit it out on the pine needle covered ground.

Moxie isn't actually from Maine, its creator was, but he made it in Mass and the company is currently headquartered in New Hampshire, but for some reason it's strongly associated with Maine and thus when I saw a giant pile of Moxie boxes while standing around in Maine, it felt kind of appropriate, locationally speaking.

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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 of us, so 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!

Open Thread: Squirrel on Fence


So there was this squirrel lazing on the fence in a way that begged to be photographed, but I didn't have my camera.  It was in the house.  The squirrel stayed there for the longest time, and eventually I had reason to go into the house.  As expected, this made the squirrel disappear.

I brought the camera back out anyway.  There were 9 squirrels running circuits, and while none adopted the brilliant pose of the one I'd wanted to photograph, one did at least stop to hang out at the same spot.  Thus the above picture.

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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 of us, so 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: The Trumpet at Last

[Narnia Content Note: War]

Narnia Recap: Shasta has united with the Narnian army and Corin has strong-armed him into being his "bodyguard" for the upcoming battle. Obligatory note about racism, intent, and Lewis is here.

The Horse and His Boy, Chapter 13: The Fight at Anvard

Alright.

Deep breath.

We're going to try to finish this chapter today. I'm sorry it's taken so long.

I've struggled with this chapter because it feels fundamentally wrong. All the elements that have got us here have been summarily discarded and the result is a literary mess. We have an Animal army and yet so much of this battle has nothing to do with the Animals on the Narnian side. We have a besieged castle and yet so much of this battle has little to do with siege warfare or any sort of castle defenses on the Archenland side. We have a Helen of Troy who is a crackerjack shot with a bow, and yet she is Sir Not Appearing In This Battle.

This battle ought to combine all the elements we've seen thus far into a glorious crescendo of literary beauty. Bree, the war stallion, should be here--as should Aravis, in her brother's armor. They should be vital and necessary to the story, using their knowledge of Calormene tactics against the invaders. Instead they are Chekov's Guns who go unfired, and all their knowledge of battle and tactics and hunting could've been replaced with an interest in knitting for all the impact it has. Susan is shoved into a closet. Some token effort is made to reveal Shasta as the True King, but since he looks exactly like Corin, the only real mystery to the reader is why it took everyone so long to work out the bleeding obvious.

This is, in short, a climax which is flatly anti-climactic and all we can do is slog through it.

Open Thread: Giant Lego Giraffe (three)


For the second time I went to the theater that grew up after the Assembly station on the Orange Line was planted.  The first time I went we weren't quite sure where it was and someone told us that it was by the giant Lego Giraffe (which is in fact made out of Duplo bricks.)

So, as this picture clearly demonstrates, I have now seen the movie Wonder Woman , which can stand as the first "Friday Recommendation".

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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 of us, so 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!

Repost: If Only They'd Planted Ginkgo Biloba

[Ana's Note: By popular demand, this is a re-post of an old deconstruction, partly to have content while I struggle with my ongoing disability challenges and partly so that newcomers can comment on old conversations.

The original post is here. I have not edited the content.



Narnia Recap: The children have been pulled back into Narnia and have found an abandoned castle with apple trees for sustenance.

Prince Caspian, Chapter 2: The Ancient Treasure House

Last week we talked about an ongoing world-building problem with Narnia: namely, how much the children remember about their adventures therein. This is not a trivial point to me, since it's on this question that hinges a great deal in terms of the Problem of Susan. After all, if some magic muddles the children's memories of Narnia, she can hardly be blamed for thinking of the whole experience as a child's dream game. And if magic doesn't muddle their perceptions and memories, then we are justified in asking how all this zig-zagging between Narnia and England and all this living of two lives concurrently is affecting the children emotionally and mentally.

Open Thread: Echoes of Architecture



When space is at a premium buildings have no gaps between them and as a result something is left behind when one is knocked down, burned down, stomped by Godzilla, abducted by aliens, or accidentally transferred to another dimension.  Outlines of where one building touched the next remain even after one or the next (but not both) has left this reality.

They linger for all to see.  If one only looks.

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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 of us, so 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!

Open Thread: Beast of Burden


Rumor has it that if you pass through a magical portal you'll find a land where time moves at a different speed and all the farm equipment can talk.  Well the machines at least.  The talking scythe lives in a different plane of existence altogether where it raises its little sickles (which it produced by parthenogenesis, don'cha know?)

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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 of us, so 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!

Writings: Rabadash's Ride


Regular readers of my blog will be familiar with my Narnia deconstructions, which are currently on The Horse and His Boy right now. I'm not having the easiest time of it, to be honest. The text is incredibly racist, whether on purpose or not, and Lewis had gotten very sloppy indeed at this point in the series even as regards basic fundamentals of writing like "sensible plotting" and "consistent characterization". All of these problems--Bad Writing and Bad Racism--collide in the person of Prince Rabadash, the violent angry suitor (and man of color from a country literally called "Calormen") who wants to steal Queen Susan away from Narnia to be his "bride".

I won't go into the racism of this trope here because I've beat that particular dead horse heavily enough on my blog, but one thing I have noticed is how much more sense Rabadash would make as a victim of abuse rather than as a mustache-twirling villain. He doesn't make sense as a villain; he was supposedly able to pretend at honor and worthiness when he lived as a guest with the Pevensies in Narnia, yet couldn't keep up the act when Susan visited him in Tashbaan with the intent of hashing out their betrothal contract. In the book, the Narnians see his change in character at home as evidence of his 'true colors', but it seems so much more likely to me that Rabadash behaved well in Narnia because he was happy and he behaved badly back home in Tashbaan because his abusive father is in close proximity and Rabadash is therefore under considerable stress.

After Susan pretends to be on the verge of accepting his proposal as a bluff so the Narnians can flee on their boat under the cover of night, Rabadash instantly (and correctly) blames her despite this characterization not fitting with his ego or his supposed affection of Susan. Reader Anton Mates pointed out that this bad characterization (i.e., having a direct line to the author to know who did what when and how) also contributes to the underlying racism in the book:

(THAHB) "But I want her," cried the Prince. "I must have her. I shall die if I do not get her--false, proud, black-hearted daughter of a dog that she is! I cannot sleep and my food has no savor and my eyes are darkened because of her beauty. I must have the barbarian queen."

(Anton_Mates) I'm surprised that Rabadash loves Susan and yet automatically blames her for instigating the flight of the Narnian delegation. Why does he think that she's in charge? You'd think he'd prefer to assume that it was her jealous brother who spirited Susan off, while she totally wants him and is pining to be rescued. But I guess he's eviller this way.

This stuck with me, and I wanted to write a fic where Rabadash is a flawed victim of abuse who assumed Susan was carried away from him rather than fleeing him by choice. I also wanted to write a Susan with agency and the ability to recognize that though her choice to flee was the right one, the consequences of that choice are things she can manage as a competent and wise queen (rather than, as in the book, being left at Cair Paravel to never be heard from again while the men sort things out with violence). This fic was the result. I think it is a little rough around the edges, but I hope you enjoy reading my "fix" for these events.

Open Thread: Tiny Wax Person


Because who needs snow when you have cheese that comes sealed in wax?

I do note that while the traditional "stack of three shapes each progressively smaller, huge pointy nose, arms that don't match the rest of the aesthetic" style has been maintained from the clear snowman roots of the concept, the progressively smaller shapes making up the body and head are rounded cubes with some irregularities, not balls.

This was a creation of the munchkin weasel.

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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 of us, so 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!

Time Quintet: Turkey Dinners and Light Promises

[Wrinkle Content Note: Fascism, Hypnotism, Captivity]

Wrinkle Recap: The kids have gone into a very big building, asked questions of strangers there, and are now being detained by a random man.

A Wrinkle in Time, Chapter 7: The Man with Red Eyes

I realized today I haven't been including recaps at the top of each entry in this series like I do with Narnia. I apologize and have added a recap now, though coming up with the recap was a bit jarring. I'd not noticed as a child just how much this sequence feels like a railroaded plot from a harried dungeon-master.

The kids were dropped on a hill and told to wander around until something happened. They walked through a village, interacted with a couple of NPCs, then came to a city that seemed strangely featureless except for one enormous building that is bigger than the biggest thing ever. They went into the imposing building after pursuing a line of logic familiar to most gamers: why is the building there if we're not meant to go into it? Then they asked an NPC who they are and what they do here and the NPC is now taking them to the level mini-boss (The Man With Red Eyes) and the boss behind the mini-boss (IT).

Unfortunately for our children, they're about to learn why you need to grind a level or two before you meet up with the boss. All that magic equipment on your character sheet will only get you so far.

Open Thread: Hardware Moose


I don't know much about hardware moose, but I think that when the antlers fall off people harvest the tools and such then sell them in the store this representation of one was on the outside of.

This was seen between the rhododendron droppings and the bus station.  I had to go a bit out of my way to get a decent shout because there was initially a parking lot between me and it and all the cars and such were in the way.  The green bag is mine for most intents and purposes and one of the wonderful things about not being stuck on crutches is that I can allow a bag with wheels to take most of the weight while I pull the thing with a crutch-unencumbered hand.

This was taken on my longest walk since breaking my ankle.  It's not back to normal, but it is worlds better now (and definitely still improving.)

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I spent a while debating with myself whether to have the usual Friday open thread this week since the emergency back up open thread has barely been used, what with it being less than two days old.  It's probably a sign that when an open thread is getting long in the comments we should break out an emergency back up open thread sooner than happened this time.

Anyway, I obviously did finally decide to make this thread, it would be weird if you were reading this and I hadn't.  What I figure is that the other open thread can be a place to continue the discussion of comics with all of the thorny territory that implies (bad accounting, unfair practices, racism, and Nazis, and not-really-Nazis-{but-totally-Nazis}, canceling popular series starring POC, and so forth) as well as the Dresden Files and all of the thorny territory that implies, and maybe also mixing up names and words and such, though that's a good deal less thorny.

This thread, by contrast, can be for everything else.  You know, like every other open thread.

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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 of us, so 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!