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starlit TARDIS
Welcome to my humble corner of the internet!   Here there be geeking out about Doctor Who, Sherlock, biology, books, and whatever else has caught my eye at the moment.

If you're here looking for fannish things (fic, recs, meta, general squee or ranting, etc.), those are mostly posted publicly.  Posts about my personal life are pretty much always friendslocked.  You can feel free to add me or unfriend at will.  A comment introducing yourself would be a nice gesture, but don't feel obligated if you're shy.  I may or may not add you back depending on how I'm feeling that day on the social vs. crotchety scale and whether we have interests in common.  It's not a personal judgement.

I am also on Tumblr.

Occasionally, I write fanfic. You can check out my author pages on AO3 or A Teaspoon and an Open Mind (for Doctor Who fic).  Here's the complete list, organized by fandom, then series, then chronologically (oldest to most recent).

Fic IndexCollapse )

Character Meme

captain marvel
Sorry for not posting much lately.  I have a lot of stuff I could potentially be talking about, but instead of any substantive entry, I'm doing a meme I grabbed from honorh and wendymr.

Pick 12 characters from any fandoms and list them before you read the questions that follow.

Here's my character list:

1.  Donna Noble (Doctor Who)
2.  Mary Morstan (BBC Sherlock)
3.  Darcy Lewis (Thor/Marvel Cinematic Universe)
4.  Daenerys Targaryen (Game of Thrones/ASoIaF)
5.  Willow Rosenberg (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
6.  Eowyn (LOTR)
7.  Kaylee Frye (Firefly)
8.  Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel/Marvel Comics)
9.  Intern Dana (Welcome to Night Vale)
10.  Abbie Mills (Sleepy Hollow)
11.  Viola (Shakespeare's Twelfth Night)
12.  Lt. Uhura (Star Trek)

I decided to use all female characters and not to repeat fandoms.  (Using multiple characters from the same fandom is fine if anyone else decides to do this meme.  I just wanted a challenge.)

Questions and Answers below the cutCollapse )


my fandom so changeable
I've been very much enjoying participating in the new-ish comm tumblr_refuge, which was founded by people trying to have a fandom space of respectful community and substantive communication, which tend to be lacking in tumblr.  Mostly it's been Sherlock-focused, because the Sherlock fandom on tumblr has apparently been pretty toxic lately (not much on my dash, where I see only faint ripples and vague complaints about stuff happening elsewhere) and driving a lot of people to seek a better venue.  However, the comm is open to all fandoms at the moment, and I'd love to see more fandom diversity.  It's been really active so far, and people have mostly managed to be respectful even when talking about contentious issues.  So if you need some good discussions and active posting on your LJ friends list, I recommend it.

Elsewhere in Sherlock fandom, I was disappointed when Sherlock Seattle changed its dates to something in January I'm probably not going to be able to make.  Seattle is a long distance away, and I don't know if it would be a good idea financially anyway, but I had such a marvelous time last year that I'd been hoping to go again anyway.  However, I just realized that there is a con called Bay Area Sherlock Con in Berkeley (an easy distance for a weekend trip), and it's at a time I should be able to make the trip, in fact on my birthday.  So I'm thinking of doing that.  I don't think I've talked to anyone who's been to this particular con, so I don't know its reputation, but I suspect it will be good.

I've also watched more Star Trek!  Here are my thoughts.

The Naked Time: This episode is a hoot!  It's an early example of the trope of that SF tradition, The Episode Where (Almost) Everyone Loses Their Inhibitions. (Later examples include Buffy's "Band Candy" or Dollhouse's "Echoes.")  It's interesting that they put it so early in the show's run, when the audience barely knows the characters, but I guess one way to get to know them a lot better is to show what they're like when they're not trying to behave for polite society.

Shirtless Swashbuckling Sulu with a Sword is the best part.  I wonder if whoever wrote this knew at the time that George Takei was gay, because looking at it from a modern perspective there is so much homoeroticism with the sword and the trying to convince the other man to go to the gym with him and more.  Also, the best dialog of the episode was the exchange between Sulu and Uhura.

Sulu:  I'll protect you, fair maiden!
Uhura:  Sorry, neither!

Nichelle Nichols ad-libbed that, because she is the actual best.  Also, she seems to be immune to the contagion.  She definitely touched Sulu, and it's spread by touch, but she never appeared to be symptomatic.

Awww, poor Spock is overwhelmed by his emotions.  Also, Kirk apparently wears a shirt made of tissue paper, because McCoy ripped a huge hole in it without apparent effort.

The crewman who initially picked up the infection was apparently trying for a Darwin Award.  In a place where lots of people were dead under mysterious circumstances, he took of his hazmat's suit's glove, touched some surfaces, then reached under his helmet to scratch his face.  Really, dude?  Does anybody on this ship know anything about infection?  Eh, whatever.  I loved this ep.

The Enemy Within: This is one of those episodes where terrible handling of one plotline ruined my enjoyment of the whole thing.  A teleporter accident split Captain Kirk in two, one half aggressive and driven by id, the other better on the surface but indecisive and meek.

Parts I enjoyed:  the utter ridiculousness of the alien creature created by strapping a unicorn horn and some random antennae to a small dog, Sulu's wittiness even on the brink of freezing to death, the use of guyliner to mark which was the "evil" Kirk, laughing my head off at Shatner's over the top acting.

Parts I hated:  Poor Janice Rand apparently can't be in one episode without someone sexually harassing or assaulting her.  In this case, Kirk's nasty double snuck into her quarters and tried to rape her.

The really frustrating part is that I thought her attack by Kirk's aggressive half was really badly handled by the other characters in this episode. She was assaulted by someone she thought was Captain Kirk, and then she was interviewed about it with Kirk present. None of the men present (and looming over her) seemed very interested in consoling her, making her feel safe, or validating her experience in any way. Instead, Kirk's meeker half just kept repeating that it wasn't him. I feel like the conversation can be paraphrased like this:

Yeoman Rand: I was just attacked in my own room by Captain Kirk, a person I had previously trusted. He used both his physical strength and his institutional authority to attempt to rape me. I feel very upset and unsafe.

"Nice" Kirk: #NOT ALL KIRKS

And then at the end Spock remarked to Rand about the supposed-imposter's "interesting qualities" in a way that made me think he was trying to sell her on him. Jeez, Spock, just because you think it's sexy when Kirk gets very commanding doesn't mean everyone agrees.  That line was super gross.

Finally, happy birthday to Steve Rogers.  And also, you know, America.

Starting to trek through Star Trek

redshirt Star Trek TOS
I wandered over to Mark Watches the other day and was super excited to see that he's starting a watch through of Star Trek.  All of it. I think I'll follow along at least for a while.  To that end, I watched three episodes of Trek yesterday  (The Man Trap, Charlie X, and Where No Man Has Gone Before) to catch up with MW. Please note for anyone following the link that the site's premise is that Mark watches things completely unspoiled (he somehow grew up in a weird vacuum where he avoided learning lots of things most of is consider part of the cultural backdrop), so if you do go there don't comment until you've read the spoiler policies.

I adored Star Trek in my elementary and middle school years. In fourth grade I convinced my truly wonderful mother to sew me a TNG uniform for Halloween (gold, if you were curious). I read piles of tie-in novelizations of every era and everything Trek-related my local library had, including the autobiographies of much of the original series cast. (Nichelle Nichols was my favorite.) I was old enough to see a few of the later seasons of TNG as they aired, then Voyager. (The original series cast I knew primarily through the movies, though I watched episodes when I could. I didn't really get into DS9, though I'm excited to try it again as an adult.) However, this was the era of VHS tapes, not DVDs or streaming. I couldn't exactly buy whole seasons on video with my allowance, so I only saw old episodes if they were available for rent at my local Blockbuster or happened to be rerun on TV. By the time access became easier with new technology, I had long since moved on in my fandom. I've stuck my toes into reboot fandom a little, but that hasn't led to returning to the original canon until now.  So while I can't remember a time when I didn't know these characters, there are still LOTS of episodes I've never seen.  I think this will be an excellent excuse to remedy that lack.

Here are some very brief thoughts on the first three episode.  Spoilers abound, for anyone worried about being spoiled on a nearly 50 year-old show.

-The Man Trap: Pretty effectively creepy.  I like that we are asked to pity the creature as well as fear it. Bones says "he's dead, Jim."   Yeoman Rand's Future Hair is one of the marvels of the galaxy.

The credits voiceover still gives me chills (though IMHO the TNG version is vastly superior both for the wording and Patrick Stewart's delivery.)

-Charlie X: It seems that back in 1966 Star Trek was calling out guys on the fact that being socially awkward doesn't excuse acting entitled to women's bodies or failing to respect boundaries.  I am torn between offering huge kudos to the show and being deeply pissed off that this still feels so relevant.  I like the ambiguity of the ending.  I want to believe that a seventeen year old kid who has been raised apart from other humans deserves a chance and that he might learn better respect for others in time, and I think the Enterprise crew agrees.  However, he has not responded well at all to their initial efforts to teach him some consideration, and his powers are just so dangerous that they can't risk keeping him around to try to reform him.  They let the incorporeal aliens take him to a lonely fate, because sometimes there are people you might want to help but can't without hurting yourself.

Maybe if they'd found someone more effective than Kirk at delivering the sex and consent talk things would have turned out differently.  Paging Captain Jack Harkness!

Also, I love the break time in the rec room. Uhura and Rand are clearly friends, Spock plays an instrument, and Uhura flirts with him (possibly making up her songs on the fly?).  Meanwhile, Kirk's red workout tights with underwear band showing at the back are HILARIOUS.  

-Where No Man Has Gone Before: Basically the same "human attains superhuman mental powers and loses all sense of compassion for others" plot as the previous episode, only less well executed IMHO.  I did think the portrayal of Gary Mitchell as a longtime friend of Kirk's was pretty well done.  Is it just me or did the technobabble make less sense than usual?  Like, they flew out of the galaxy?  I thought in Trek that was considered too much distance.  Even Voyager is still set inside the Milky Way.

I'm so glad those terrible beige mock turtlenecks from the uniforms in this episode didn't stick around.  Kirk's shirt got ripped during his fight, so at least we're on somewhat familiar ground.  I've just learned that the creepy eye effects were apparently made from TINFOIL sandwiched between two contacts.  *shudders*


What I'm Reading Wednesday. Also, kittens!

book + billie
A number of people on my friends list have been doing the What I'm Reading Wednesday meme as a semi-regular feature.  I thought I might try it.

What are you currently reading?
I just started London Falling by Paul Cornell, an urban fantasy about cops who accidentally become involved with supernatural goings-on.  I'm enjoying it quite a bit, although it's taking its sweet time to get to events described in the second sentence of the blurb on the cover.  Still, despite the slightly slow start my attention is very much caught, and I'm enjoying the

What have you recently finished reading?
I just finished Philip Pullman's The Shadow in the North, second of the Sally Lockhart YA Victorian mystery novels.  It's been a while since I read the first in that series (The Ruby in the Smoke), but I remember liking the first one better than I liked this.  Sally Lockhart herself is a great character:  stubborn, independent, and with a practical interest in finance that you don't often see celebrated.  There was some nicely done atmospheric creepiness.  Overall, however, I found this book curiously unsatisfying.  There were some characters who made decisions that didn't make sense for them and some events that seemed to happen because the plot needed it rather than because they made much sense.  Also, there were certain instances of genuine psychic-type powers that didn't seem to fit with the rest of the world established in the book, let alone the marketing as a mystery/thriller.  If you're going to write a fantasy, then commit to it, don't just throw in a few random instances of minor characters with psychic powers as a lazy way to give your protagonists information.

What do you think you'll read next?

I bought the first volume of Saga (written by Brian K. Vaughn, illustrated by Fiona Staples) recently.  I think that might be next on my reading list.

Meanwhile in music, I recently discovered the band Delta Rae and have been listening to their Chasing Twisters EP obsessively.  You can stream the whole thing here.

Now, what you really want:  kitten pictures!
Three adorable pictures under the cutCollapse )


Lady-centric Avengers fic recs

black widow
You know what the world needs more of?

If you answered "Siberian tigers" or "love, sweet love," you are technically correct.  However, the answer I'm looking for today is "high-quality lady-centric fanfic set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe."

With that in mind, here are a few recs for fics I've enjoyed recently.

-Breakfast for Dinner by thingswithwings.  5,636 words.  Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel) joins the MCU Avengers.  (No knowledge of Captain Marvel is required.)  This story makes me so ridiculously happy.  It's hilarious, well-characterized, and bound to give you warm fuzzy feelings.  I tried to select a favorite part to quote before realizing that the entire story is my favorite part.  However, here is one small taste that takes place while Carol and Natasha are crawling through some ducts to rescue Steve:

short excerpt from Breakfast for DinnerCollapse )

-our bruises are coming, but we will never fold by liveonthesun.  3,248 words.  Peggy Carter gets a dose of the Super Soldier serum.  This is a great what-if.  I enjoyed the author's use of parallel structures, the exploration of Peggy's changing attitude about her powers, and the ending.  I really enjoyed the appearances by the Black Widow and Pepper. Here's a sample:

short excerpt from our bruises are coming, but we will never foldCollapse )

-The B-Team by twistedingenue.  40,100 words. Natasha and Clint accidentally get sucked into a parallel universe, and at first glance it seems like the darkest timeline:  all of the Avengers in this universe are dead or permanently out of the picture, and SHIELD has been very nearly destroyed.  However, the fight is being carried on by Pepper Potts, Jane Foster, Darcy Lewis, and sometimes Rhodey.  Can a small team of MCU characters who aren't superpowered white dudes with films named after them cover all the work of SHIELD and the other Avengers? (Answer:  of course.  Have you seen Pepper Potts?) This story has emotional heft and an exciting plot.  The author does a great job handling a large cast, making sure every character gets an arc.  There are some tremendously fulfilling moments that i won't spoil here.

Unfortunately, this rec comes with the caveat that the fic needs a beta reader with an eye for details of spelling, punctuation, and grammar. There were numerous uses of it's when the proper word was its, plus other homonym replacements and further grammatical boo-boos.  I found these errors annoying, but they weren't quite severe enough to make me give up on a story that was fantastic in so many other ways.

There is also a sequel, For Those Who Mourn.  The sequel seems similarly good so far, but it's a WIP.  Both stories are Clint/Darcy.

Any fan works you've enjoyed recently, friends?  While lady-centric Avengers fic is my happy place, I'm also happy to receive other recs.  For example, I've been reading a fair amount of post-Winter Soldier fic with Bucky and would love to find more, and I'm always on they lookout for Sherlock fic with a sympathetic Mary.

Isla Vista shootings

protest button
I spent an awful lot of time reading news reports about the murderous rampage near the University of California Santa Barbara.  Mass shootings are always upsetting (and they should be), but this one hit me especially hard both because of the where and the why.

Santa Barbara is less than two hours south of where I live in San Luis Obispo.  The same public radio station serves both cities.  I've visited there often.  Downtown Santa Barbara is idyllic, almost improbably pretty.  Isla Vista, the neighborhood where the shootings happened, is scrappier, full of party-happy students and with occasional problems of the sort caused by large numbers of drunk young people, but still seems mostly like a cheerful, low-key beach town. It's not the sort of place you would imagine something like this happening.  I guess no place is, but the Santa Barbara area is especially hard to picture.

One of the victims, Chris Michaels-Martinez, was from my area.  He graduated from the high school I drive past every day on my commute.  I never knew him or his family, but I suspect I know people who did, because this is not a large community.  Of course I mourn for everyone killed in violence like this, but the reality of it hits especially hard when it involves places I've been and people only a few degrees of separation from me.

Then there are the killer's motives.  His diatribes are full of so much misogyny and entitlement that they would sound like a parody if they weren't real.  But they are real.  People are dead because this asshole genuinely believed that he had the right to women's bodies.

Obviously most men, even most awful misogynistic turdbucket men, have some sort of internal braking system that keeps them from deciding that mass murder is the solution to their grievances.  However, this killer is just an extreme case of a much larger sickness in society.  Women are treated as objects, not full people, and when we objects have the temerity to reject use by men we are vilified.

The terrifying thing is that aside from the specific details of the "retribution" plan, the killer's bitter words don't sound all that different from plenty of stuff other men post on the internet or whine to their friends.  In retrospect there were plenty of warning signs, enough that the cops were asked to check him out, but at the time nobody went as far as to lock this dude up because he knew how to be polite to cops and nothing he said or did was that far outside of the norm.  (The manifesto and video detailing his plan weren't released until just before he killed, and they did cause his parents to immediately call the cops and start driving up to try to get him.  Too late.)  Way too many men think it's acceptable to issue online threats of death or rape to women who displease them.  Most of these men don't intend to follow through on their threats, but a few do, and we have no way of knowing who.

I'm grieving, sickened, angry, and scared.  The only bright side is that maybe this can provoke a national conversation that might start to shift the culture a bit.  But if our failure to get any meaningful gun control legislation despite the horrifying frequency of mass shootings is any indication, I don't hold out too much hope of change.

Anyway, here's a well-done article on Salon that does a better job at saying similar things to what I just did.

Why, LJ? Also, kittens!

princess bride dread pirate roberts
Livejournal has changed the look of things, and my opinion is this:

you've redecorated i don't like it

Luckily I found the Secret Button to switch back to the old view.  I REALLY hope they don't take away the ability to use the old layout, because the new one is terrible.  Here's an article from the Daily Dot about the redesign and the general sad state of the LJ community.

I wonder if it's finally time to start originating my posts on Dreamwidth and just having crossposts here. Sigh...

Meanwhile, here are some kitten pictures!  They are super active and playful now.  They can also fit into extremely small spaces, causing me a brief panic last night when they seemingly vanished.  I finally discovered that they were underneath a recliner in a space that is only accessible from the chair's back side.

Four kitten pictures under the cutCollapse )

SHIELD, vampires, and kittens

my fandom so changeable
I just caught up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. That finale was damn good!  After such an underwhelming start to the season, the show has really upped its game since Captain America:  The Winter Soldier prompted some major changes.  Things I liked:

-Simmons and Fitz talking about death and the first law of thermodynamics.  The writing was lovely, and those actors really bring home the emotion.

-Surprise Nick Fury in a chopper to the rescue!  I saw Samuel L. Jackson's name in the opening credits, but by the time he showed up I was sufficiently in the moment to be totally surprised.  I flailed my arms and seal-clapped in excitement.

-Everything with Coulson and Fury together.  Highlights included the "not dead yet" reveal, the sassing of Garrett's attempts at being a Big Bad, Coulson's (very justified) yelling at Fury about bringing him back from the dead with T.A.H.I.T.I., and Fury pretty much calling Coulson one of the Avengers.

-Coulson/Really Big Guns OTP!  Tumblr had spoiled me for the "I know what this does" moment, but it was still amazing.  Then Coulson shooting Garrett just as Garrett appeared to be doing a surprise villain resurrection was a great moment.  I liked Garrett okay as a villain, but I feel like he's had enough of a run, especially since he started dialing the crazy up to 11 in this ep.

-I am so glad that Ward's feelings for Skye are (so far) being portrayed not as a source of redemption but as something creepy and controlling.

-It looks like they're setting up Trip to be part of the main cast for next season, which I am super excited about!

Less good:

-Threatening the captured Ward with torture.  You're the good guys.  Torture is seriously not okay, even directed at a douchebag two-faced creepazoid killer like Ward.

-I still don't care about Skye.  Sorry, show.

-If you stare too hard at the plot there are some significant logic holes.  I am mostly okay with hand-waving and looking away from those.

-But what about Fitz's brain?  :(

-As amusing as the tail-end of Coulson's "dude, I told you not to use this resurrection technology and then you used it on me" rant at Fury was, I sort of feel like that was an important conversation that maybe we should have heard more of and should have been played more seriously.

Overall, I enjoyed this episode quite a lot, and I'm actually looking forward to next season.

I saw Only Lovers Left Alive last weekend.  I thought it was really good, though not a movie for everyone.  The pace was very slow.  However, the film was beautifully shot and masterfully acted by an amazing cast.  Seriously, this movie had so many good people with both geek cred and serious acting chops:  Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton as the lead vampires, John Hurt (the War Doctor!) as...actually I'm not going to say his character's name, because I really enjoyed the revelation of who he was supposed to be, Anton Yelchin (Chekov from the Star Trek AOS movies) as a human who procures vintage guitars and other items for Hiddleston's character, and Mia Wasikowska (Alice from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland) as Tilda Swinton's vampire sister.

Last but not least, have some kitten pictures!Two kitten photos under the cutCollapse )
martha fierce
First, kitten pictures!
Two kitten pictures under the cutCollapse )

Next, how many of y'all are fans of Welcome to Night Vale?  Want to talk about it?  Because I just listened to Parade Day, and I sure need a hug want to talk.

Oh goodness, that ending!  I shouted at my car stereo.  From the sounds of things I fear that the next broadcast may be made by Kevin.  D:

I was not expecting that to happen.  Tamika Flynn's power to rise against StrexCorp had received so much buildup as a storyline. Cecil threw off all pretenses of collaboration with the regime and went into open rebellion.  Even the weather seemed hopeful.  I had a sense that something was going to go wrong, but I was bracing myself for Strexcorp making one last strike-back against Cecil by going after Carlos (likely by trapping him in the house that doesn't exist).  And that could still be happening, but we know that Strex has Cecil and Tamika.

Nobody outside of Tamika's tiny band of dedicated readers/freedom fighters stood up to do anything.  It hurt my heart to hear Cecil, who normally believes the best of people despite living in a town full of horrors, realizing that nobody in Night Vale had been willing to risk themselves for the greater good.  Audio is a weirdly personal medium where it feels like the narrator is talking directly to you, which meant that (despite fully understanding the concept of fiction) I felt personally guilty about failing Cecil.  The show wasn't shy about making a point about the important difference between belief and action.

Anyway, other than being DEEPLY UPSETTING there was a lot to enjoy about the show.

-Cecil going on about how Carlos is awesome at science as well as handsome, followed by Carlos's fondly embarrassed "Stoooop!"  Awwww. I love their established relationship even more than the UST stage.

-Morse code secret messages!  Because the Internet is wonderful, some excellent person put translations on the transcript here.  However, Cecil is (as usual) not terribly subtle.  Surely Strex has people who can translate Morse too.

-Angels coming back!  Their presence made me doubly surprised that everything went to hell in a handbasket so much.

-Mayor Pamela Winchell is willing to admit that mountains might be a thing!  What a world.

-Cecil rebelled against Strex-owned Station Management by locking producer Daniel in and making faces at him, then barricading himself in the studio with cardboard signs saying KEEP OUT! with all-caps and an exclamation mark.  Bless.

-Welcome to Night Vale is often wise in between the silliness and horrors.  In this episode, I really loved the full version of the quote I begin to quote in this entry's subject line:

Are we living a life that is safe from harm?  Of course not. We never are. But that’s not the right question. The question is are we living a life that is worth the harm?

I anxiously await to learn where the show goes from here.

Happy Birthday to our pal Will

57 academics
Today is William Shakespeare's 450th birthday!  (Well, the day we observe as his birthday.  Nobody is 100% sure of his exact birth date.)  In honor of him and of it still being National Poetry Month, have a sonnet!  This is one of my favorites.

Sonnet 130:  My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
   And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
   As any she belied with false compare.

Also, apparently the Globe is taking Hamlet on tour to literally every country in the world.  I think that's a super cool project, and the production sounds really neat.

Now, because you deserve it, the latest kitten picture:
click for sleepy kittens!Collapse )

Captain America, plus bonus unrelated poem

I saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier last weekend.  I enjoyed it quite a lot.  Steve is a character I've come to appreciate much more after reading Marvel fanfic.  I like that Steve's chief reason for being a superhero is because he's a good person who believes in doing the right thing, not because of daddy issues or personal trauma or the need to make amends or alien paternalism. Steve's fundamental decency and idealism are among his greatest strengths, even in a world that is full of betrayals, but I am also glad that the film is also sympathetic to those with a more realpolitik outlook like Natasha and Fury.

Speaking of Fury, I was genuinely worried that they'd killed him off for a little while, which just goes to show that I'm apparently still not all that genre-savvy for comics.

I was surprised by how little of the Winter Soldier there was in this Winter Soldier film.  They saved Steve's realization that it was Bucky for late in the movie, which meant there really wasn't room for a full redemption arc or more than a brief look into his character.  I would have liked to see more, but I thought what they showed worked well provided they do more with him in a later film.  Incidentally, one of the people I was watching the film with apparently hadn't known that the Winter Soldier was Bucky, so when Steve named him, she gasped and jumped.  It was pretty entertaining to watch.

Natasha is one of my favorite Avengers, so I was glad that she had a pretty big role in this.  (I still think she NEEDS a movie of her own!)  She works nicely as a foil to Steve.  I really like them as friends.  They have very different personalities, but their skill sets complement each other and they share a certain sense of being an outsider in this place and time.  It was interesting to see some of her emotions come through in reaction to Fury's apparent death.  The film's single greatest mystery centers around Natasha:  when they were holed up at Sam's house, how the hell did her hair go from damp and curly to laser-straight in the next scene?! It sure didn't look like she arrived carrying the hair care products necessary to achieve that, and Sam wouldn't have anything of the sort on hand for himself.  I guess you can say that an ex left stuff at his house (I assume ex rather than current girlfriend because earlier he was looking for Steve to help him impress a receptionist, I think), but that really was a discontinuity that the majority of women I've talked to about the movie noticed.  (It occurs to me that I don't think I've talked about it to any men other than my dad, so I don't know if there is a strong gender correlation in how bothered one is by magic hair straightening.)

I loved Falcon.  Sam is a very fun and sympathetic character, and I thought the film utilized him well. Also, Anthony Mackie seems super jazzed about the part in all his interviews, which is really entertaining and heartwarming to see.

I liked the movie's themes about the immorality of extrajudicial, preemptive killings and the fact that safety and security shouldn't be achieved at the cost of basic rights.  I do find it hard to believe that Hydra, an organization with Nazi roots, could recruit and place quite so many people within S.H.I.E.L.D., but whatever.  One of my favorite scenes was the random S.H.I.E.L.D. tech people standing up against the Hydra goons.  Meanwhile, I'd fallen about six episodes behind in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so this movie has given me lots of motivation to catch up and see how the show is affected.  I'm not caught up yet, so please no spoilers.

And now for something completely different!

April is National Poetry Month.  I usually try to post some poems, and I've neglected that so far.  Here's one by Simone Muench I just discovered online (link.  Bizarrely enough, it's on a tattoo blog I randomly stumbled upon that is doing a month of posting poet's tattoos along with their work.)  This poem is a cento, meaning that it's composed of fragments taken from other people's works and arranged together to make a collage of a poem. Because my response to mention of wolves is predictable, it makes me think of series 1 of Doctor Who.

Wolf Cento
We: spectators, always, everywhere
with goldpinnacled hair & seascapes
of a pale green monochrome,
we wanted to be wolves:
strange animal with its miraculous elusiveness—
a step toward luck & a step toward ruin.
Old circuits of animal rapture & alarm
have stained the sun with blackened love.
The question of the wolves turns & turns.

Weird internet stuff and a book rec

Three unrelated items make a post!

1) These pictures from a dog grooming competition, wherein people trim, sculpt, and dye their dogs' fur into elaborate designs, are right on the boundary between hilarious and disturbing.  I have so many questions:  How do they make the dogs stand still for all this?  Who does this to their animal?  Why don't they just take up crafting (with nonliving materials)? How can I cleanse my brain of the image of the dog with the Yoda head and an Ewok on its butt?  Which of these dogs is most likely to murder its owners in their sleep for what they did to it?

2) I just finished reading Cold Magic by Kate Elliott, which I highly recommend.  Firstly, because the worldbuilding is really cool and inventive.  It takes place in 1837 in a world with the bones of our world, but radically different in ways both magical (magic is undeniably real here), physical (the Ice Age never really ended, so sea levels are lower and ice sheets cover northern Europe), and historical (the Roman Empire persisted for centuries longer and seemingly without Christianity ever becoming a big thing, and a disaster drove large numbers of people from the wealthy Mali empire into Europe a few hundred years ago, resulting in fusions of European and African cultures and bloodlines).  The world is so different that I'm not sure whether this book can really be called an alternate history fantasy or if it's more of a high fantasy.  Either way, very cool stuff.  Secondly, it's a rare treat to have fantasy, especially historical fantasy, with a racially diverse cast, and this book has diversity in spades.  Characters of color outnumber the white ones by a fair amount. (Incidentally, the cover of the edition I own whitewashes the protagonist.  WTF, publisher?  Why those blue eyes?)  Thirdly, I found it a very entertaining read.  There were a few sections that were kind of a series of minimally related events happening, but overall I found it gripping.

3) I'm excited about the new season of Game of Thrones coming up soon.  In honor of that, here is a video proving that using Autotune to make characters sing doesn't have to be exclusively the realm of ridiculous "They're Taking the Hobbits to Isengard" sorts of things.  This vid gives me lots of feels, although that is partially because it is a lot of Daenerys and Jon Snow's faces.  I just have a lot of emotions about their faces.  (The vid spoils only S1.)

Friending Meme

fandom makes kitty scared
I know I'm not the only one whose flist has been super quiet lately.  Here's a friending meme to hopefully add some more active LJ-ers!  Come on over, make new friends, and promote it.

Friday Rec Day

JohnMarySherlock marriage OT3
Hello Internet!  For your Friday, I thought I'd like to share some creative works I've enjoyed recently.

-Fanvid, MCU:  Hey Ho by thuviaptarth.  Beautifully made vid that delivers a biting critique.  Best watched without too much information, but it contains footage from The Avengers, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, and Agents of SHIELD.

-Fanfic, crossover between Chronicles of Narnia and Doctor Who/Torchwood:  The Problem of Susan by MarcusRowland.  This is the best sort of crossover, the sort that enhances and makes more sense out of both universes.  Very clever and meticulously researched. I love the characterization of Susan.  There is one part of the coda that didn't sit quite right with me, but YMMV on that bit and everything else about this story is fantastic.

-Fanfic, BBC Sherlock:  The Clock Turns Backward by Moranion.  Sherlock/John/Mary, canon-compliant post-HLV.  I ship this OT3 so hard, and there is just not enough fic about them.  This is one of my favorites of the ones I've read.  The prose is lovely, and the emotional resolution is gloriously satisfying.

Outside of the realm of fanworks, I've recently started watching Lost Girl on Netflix and enjoying it a great deal.  The plots can be kind of dopey, but it features a lot of things I appreciate:  (1) a female lead and her also female sidekick/best friend, plus plenty of other complex female characters.  Pretty much every ep so far passes the Bechdel test. (2) magic, (3) non-straight characters and relationships, (4) highly attractive Canadians.

What have y'all been enjoying recently?

PS: you should all go and vote for Abbie Mills of Sleepy Hollow in the Fandom March Madness finals.


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