CAT PICTURES PLEASE

I was just randomly missing the cats.

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Excuse me, waiter. I SAID EXCUSE ME WAITER
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GET THAT BOX NIKK, GET IT GET IT GET IT! RIP IT UP YEAHHHH 

Also, note crossed eyes. White tigers are prone to several health defects due to inbreeding: crossed eyes is one of the more common ones.

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I always thought he looked like Mister, Harry Dresden’s cat. He’s a genuine sweetheart. We tried building him a box fortress but he preferred a single-level maze instead.
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Either Lioness E or N, can’t tell from this angle (I think it’s N). But nicely posed for her close-up!
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Portrait of: An Old Gentleman And His Box
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Portrait of a wannabe serial killer. 
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So Sneaky.

Some good news, for a change

nasa-spacex-demo-2-launch
via extremetech.com

You might have heard, but America is space-capable again.

More impressively:

They also flawlessly retrieved the Falcon rocket engine stage. How cool is that?

Also: the Tunguska Event may have been caused by a meteor grazing the atmosphere and bouncing back off after triggering a shockwave.

Flawless Octometer snippet

From the east the Sun awakened,
And of Ivatar, no tidings;
Found nor saw of her no shadow
On the land, or under water,
Or in sea-washed grottoes hidden–
Under land and shot with fire,
Under sea and walled of stone–
Where the Sun sets, resting never,
Through the caverns nightly crossing
In his journey never ceasing
Through the sky from end to end.

From the empty skies arising,
Four winds sped abroad to spy her—
Faithless servants of the Aether,
Seeking as they once were bidden;
Yet to rescue came they never,
Bore no word, and brought no tidings,
And the Aether, sick with sorrow,
Sought no longer for his loved one,
Shut the doors that erst were open
Lest another child he lose him
And another daughter, dying,
Rend his heart and life defeat him.

Servants of the Ocean—traitors
To their treason only faithful—
Strong sea-winds went out to seek her;
Four swift winds sought o’er the brine,
But no maiden, storm-tossed, found they,
And in failing feared to turn back—
Not the west wind, not the east wind,
Nor the north wind, grim of going
Or the swiftest, southwards racing
Fled and to the glove returned not
On his shoulder did not settle
Who had sent them, outwards flying
As the falcons fly, prey seeking;
Or as hounds rush, running limber
In the pack, along the trail.

Love and Destiny – CDrama recap – Ep 23

Jiu Chen declares that he started this whole problem, and therefore must be the one to end it. A God of War may also die, after all…in the meanwhile: Yun Feng has to help a) him stay alive in the meanwhile, b) reincarnate Ling Xi as a mortal three times to purify her. The cauldron will preserve her main spirit, while the rest of her goes down to Earth. They have to time it correctly so when she goes into the immortal cleansing pool it won’t destroy her completely–otherwise Ling Xi will be stuck in Demon Tower for 100 years. Also, they can’t let the other gods know.
Yun Feng will help, but he wants his brother to admit that he is not doing this disinterestedly.
Meanwhile! Blue Guard is stealing Ling Xi’s hearing. Heh, he heard himself talk and cussed out the bad sounding voice. And, also, he’s going to keep his part of the bargain?
Back in the Yuan hall, Yuan Tong and Fiance meet. He asks her point-blank if she killed the guards. Man, screw this bitch sideways. (Hope Fiance agrees.)
So a couple of soldiers come by to get Ling Xi. She can hear? A little? The emperor is going to personally interrogate her…was there a need to put her in chains? No, there wasn’t. Also, there is no need to tell her to hurry. Screw that old guy.
They get to the court and Jiu Chen gives her a little nod. That was nice. Uh oh. Is she going to spill the beans about Jiu Chen’s heart?
So. Does she know what crime she has comitted? No, she does not. She defends herself that she has never harmed anyone and existing is not a crime. Did her sister kill people to save her? Hell no! Don’t people know and trust their own doctor? Also, why kill people after she’d already rescued her sister? Yun Feng also pipes up at this point. Also, SCREW YUAN TONG. Emperor says, enough, bring Qing Yao.
Thunder says, why are we delaying this? At this point we should just get it over with. Yun Feng….agrees. Hah, I Thunder gets discombobulated when his enemies agree with him. But so does everybody else, too. Jiu Chen is moving extra slowly and officiously as he also says he agrees: Ling Xi must be executed. Lol, Thunder is really puzzled. But Jiu Chen has a pretty good excuse, that Ling Xi was bait and this was all a strategem. Also, screw Yuan Tong.
OH FUCK. He just called her out of formation…he has evidence regarding the murdered guards…oh. Good?
So for some reason Ling Xi is stuffed back in the Demon Tower, crying over the knot charm. Blue Guard tells her to sing, he wants to hear something good for a change. But she’s deaf now…
Jiu Chen is trying to come in, but the Tower is sealed. So poor Ling Xi has to suffer through the rest of the day….except that Jiu Chen is trying telepathy? is she hearing this? HELL YEAH YUAN TONG IS GETTING HER DUES OH YEAH. Except Qing Yao is also going to have to pay, though. And Jiu Chen is also going to go into seclusion after all this. Well, by that he means death…
Did Ling Xi…hear it????????? Probably not…..? But she does see the charm flashing to show Jiu Chen is nearby. She puts the magic fire into the charm….[Edit: she didn’t.]
OK. So. Advisor…was the one to report that the Queen’s baby was dead? In his defense, he did see a mountain fall on it….he’s pretty put-out about this. But now he is reporting to the Queen the opposite, that he’s found out she’s still alive. What about Psycho Princess? Anyhow, Phoenix Queen rushes off.
Ling Xi is being led out to execution–clutching the knot charm. Just find out how to give it to him discretely? Meanwhile, a reminder: she has to go into the pool at the exact right time in order not to be destroyed by it. Phoenix Queen can’t delay it too much! But arrive and interfere she does.
But Thunder says: she dies anyhow!
But! The Emperor is talking to Phoenix Queen…she’s being very persuasive…
THUNDER IS TRYING TO UNWITTINGLY SAVE LING XI’S LIFE HERE AND HE’S KILLING HER TO DO IT.
Aw, the heavy chains Ling Xi is wearing makes it hard for her to clasp her hands in salute. But she manages, and says good-bye to Jiu Chen and company….Si Ming looks like he’s crying, aw. And gives back the knot charm (WITH THE FIRE SPELL) HURRY UP AND DUNK HER IN THE MAGIC WATER QUICK OH NO.
OH NO. EXECUTION DELAYED.
Jiu Chen orders it to continue regardless. And, DAMN, draws his sword to do it himself. Poor Ling Xi….throws herself on his sword so he won’t have to. Although it would be hard to gasp out dying words with a cut throat….
UH OH. Mama Phoenix Queen arrives, sword in hand….stabs Jiu Chen. Yun Feng and Si Ming leap to the defense before he gets stabbed any more. UH OH. Ling Xi, meanwhile, is dissolving….did it not work? And then her bracelet falls off and it was magically stuck to her wrist–that’s what seems to break Jiu Chen…What? Phoenix Queen spits up blood and faints.
But Jiu Chen has the knot charm and the fire is going into his hand, at least…
OK, SO DID IT WORK OR NOT??????? There’s a long scene of Jiu Chen brooding, but now Yun Feng is gone to report to Qing Yao. He reports that she was executed. (Qing Yao is about to storm off to get revenge)–oh, whew, he says she’s PROBABLY all right. And it is a secret that this has been done. Fortunately, I believe that Qing Yao is one of the few people who can keep secrets.
Meanwhile, Shi San and Si Ming are walking. Shi San tells him to go away and leave her alone. Si Ming…doesn’t. Shi San is heartbroken enough just losing Ling Xi. Aw, this romance has progressed to comforting backpats and kind words. Nice.
Anyhow. Jiu Chen is back at the execution grounds…FREEZE FRAME.

Rules for the Road

– It’s the temperature/humidity/heat index, not the speed limit.

– A “50% chance of thunderstorms” means: 100% chance of rain if you do go out, 100% chance of clear skies if you use your flex time to stay home.

– Spray insect repellant from bottom to top.

– Do not immediately bend down to tighten your bootlaces after spraying your lower body with insect repellant.

– “Why did the chicken cross the road?”
“To show the armadillo it could be done.”

CDrama review – The Legends – This one was AWESOME

poster2bthe2blegends[Note: I haven’t finished this one yet…I’m slow-rolling the last couple of episodes because once I finish watching it, then it’ll be done and there won’t be any more. This one is good and I like it. Also, since I read some detailed spoilers, I’m cutting it off at about episode 30 as advised instead of following it all the way to the end. Nothing is going to ruin it like An Oriental Odyssey was ruined.]

So this one! This one is really good! It’s got a female lead who kicks ass and doesn’t bother with the names and by episode four she’s taken over the jiang hu world and taken her reven–wait, what? Huh? How many episodes is this thing?! That’s one heck of a timeskip and an evilness upgrade for the fourth episode when five minutes ago she was saving someone because it’s the right thing to do!

But, although abrupt, it’s still understandable and at least doesn’t waste our time dragging out Zhaoyao’s fall to the dark side. Being naive and kind person who is brutally betrayed in every way possible by someone you trusted and admired and were a bit in love with–and then being made a permanent pariah because you were doing what you knew damn well was right and what you also thought they’d understand if it was honestly explained to them–oh, and then having your beloved Grandpa killed before your eyes after he rescues you from being tortured by the guy you were naively but happily in love with…well, it’s understandable.

So: the heroine = Lu Zhaoyao, whose family hereditarily guards the Demon King’s Son who has been locked in a cave until his father can come back and cure him (but disappeared without a trace centuries ago); the guy who betrays her = the Golden Immortal, who breaks into said cave in order to kill the demon prince on the FAULTLESS LOGIC that someone who literally has never done anything wrong or been able to leave his cave might someday escape and then do bad things, which would be bad. Golden Immortal does not succeed in killing the kid. In fact, all he ends up doing is letting the kid out of the cave. Great job. Zhaoyao and her grandfather aren’t particularly mad about this–mostly they’re glad to get off the mountain into the regular world. She’s especially excited about being able to go visit Golden Immortal at his own place, but gets a little sidetracked after finding out that the jiang hu sects have captured the kid (Chenlan) and are planning to execute him.

Chenlan has literally never harmed anybody or anything. He’s been locked in a cave his entire life. He’s the definition of innocent. Zhaoyao might be new to jiang hu, but don’t heroes protect the innocent? So she shows up, and in one ultra-badass scene, beats up everybody who stands in her way and gets to walk away with him….that day. The next day, everyone in the world is coming after them (necessitating more thrashings). It might bear mentioning at this point that Zhaoyao has won the utter and undying adoration of Chenlan and his entire heart and soul. Y’know, because it’s plot relevant.

So a number of random ambushes later, Zhaoyao is getting tired of being chased around. She decides to go see her friend the Golden Immortal to explain things and get everything straightened out.

Yeah…

Anyhow, after the timejump, our heroine is now The Most Powerful person in jiang hu, but at the expense of her earlier kind and chipper personality. She steals candy from little kids now (literally, LOL). Oh, and slaughters a room full of people who were trying to assassinate her. (Badass.)

Pride goeth before a fall, however, as she is ambushed while trying to retrieve the fabled Wanjun Sword and mortally wounded. The last thing she sees before going under is Chenlan (whom she’s more or less forgotten about in her quest for revenge and power) claiming it instead. She doesn’t get to see him desperately digging through the rubble for her, or attempting to commit suicide when he can’t find her, or entirely excavating the cave over the next five years in search of her missing body.

Her body’s missing because…?….So there’s another timeskip, of five years, before Zhaoyao wakes up in an ice cave somewhere else. Our heroine ends up sharing the appearance of Wimpy Chick, whose father has been killed by {plot relevant happenings related to the Golden Immortal} and who joins the Wan Lu sect to seek revenge.

Speaking of the Wan Lu Sect: Chenlan has taken over leadership. AND HE’S LITERALLY TURNED THEIR SWORDS INTO PLOWSHARES AHAHAHA, much to the disgust of the more martially-minded sect members and to Zhaoyao’s utter horror when she returns. (He’s put up a cenotaph for her. It’s blank. She’s more outraged that he couldn’t even put carve the few words, “Lu Zhaoyao, Supreme Demoness of Wan Lu Sect, Invincible in Heaven and Earth.” HEHHHHHH.)

Also, Zhaoyao has lost her kung fu powers (OF COURSE SHE HAS CDRAMAS HATE POWERFUL WOMEN GRHH! OK quick note: she’s lost her powers but not her skill. Her skill level is noted as being comparable to Chenlan’s….but without power to back it up she can’t do squat.) However! There is a solution. She can go to the Land of Sojourn and get a Recovery Pill to rapidly return her kung fu. Problem: the currency in the Land of Sojourn is “good deeds.” Remember all that candy-stealing? Yeah, also with all the murder and revenge and casually bullying Wimpy Chick and everybody else on Planet Jiang Hu, turns out she only gets 10% credit for each good deed. Also! The 100 coins she’s earned by being a magical-medical research guinea pig (lol) come with the side effect of turning her invisible by day. (This turns out to be useful, since Zhaoyao and Wimpy Chick have about 180* opposite personalities, and it’s hard to get stuff out of Li Chenlan if you’re abjectly terrified of him. But, on the other hand, Zhaoyao is completely intimidated by Wimpy’s Hot Uncle, so…)

…aaaaand, thing is, “doing good deeds” doesn’t come all that easily to Demoness Lu Zhaoyao, Invincible in Heaven and Earth, even with most of the effort farmed out to Wimpy Chick. (LOL)

But, slowly–and with most of it predicated on dragging Wimpy out of whatever trouble she and her really irritating boyfriend get into–our heroine gets back into the swing of being a hero. Mostly.

Zhaoyao blames Chenlan for her death, but needs to up her inner power by a couple orders of magnitude before she’s able to take him on. Meanwhile, the peace of jiang hu is being threatened by a new player on the scene: Red Murder Guy, who is enough of a nuisance that Chenlan joins forces with Wimpy Chick’s Hot Uncle to take him down. They don’t, but they do force him underground. Now, Hot Uncle turns out to a) be a pretty decent person with a mostly-pure heart, b) have his own reasons for wanting Red Murder Guy taken care of. (Red also develops a crush on Zhaoyao, which is hilarious because they have the exact same personality and also because Chenlan keeps interfering.)

Chenlan, as we mentioned, utterly adored Zhaoyao, and is actually pretty quick on the uptake to recognize that she’s returned. And he knows she blames him and that she’s planning/actively trying to kill him. And he….accepts this totally. ‘Cuz he loves her and never expected to live a long life, anyway. Not the most realistic of reactions, but in context and with these actors, it works. Also, the fact that she keeps failing miserably at the whole murder thing is pretty funny. Now, the Viki commenters were utterly enamored of the actor (Xu Kai); he’s OK. I’m guessing they chose a baby-faced guy to make him less threatening when he does have a position of power re the heroine. So, that’s fine.

(I’d like to praise the two female leads more: Bai Lu as Zhaoyao and Shane Yan as both Zhaoyao and Wimpy Chick utterly nail their roles and are great.)

Anyhow, meanwhile, we learn why Wimpy Chick’s father died: there’s this Evil Bitch who wanted to use his blood to resurrect/waken the Golden Immortal dude, who, AHAHAHA, Zhaoyao killed on their wedding day. It didn’t work, so she’s going to settle for either Wimpy’s–and when this falls through due to their agent ending up with Zhaoyao’s blood instead–she decides on using Uncle’s. But getting blood from a powerful Taoist master is very different than getting it from a wimpy girl with weak kung fu. And thence falls plot and schemes galore.

Oh, oh, ooooh, and! There’s an actual epic battle! It’s hugely low-budget and mostly CGI, but it’s an actual epic battle, it has actual high stakes, there is solid emotional investment in heroes we love defeating enemies we hate, suspense regarding the characters we kinda like who are under mind control, our heroes are actually in credible danger and fighting for their lives, and their victory recognized as an awesome win by both them and their enemies and random passers-by. And they look very cool while doing it AND THEY WIN. Mind blown. It was really seriously epic. Maaan, I want to watch that episode again. It was cool. Oh, oh, oh! And! They do it while they’re both depowered and/or badly injured! I REALLY WANT TO SEE ZHAOYAO AND CHENLAN TAKE ON THE REST OF JIANG HU WHEN THEY’RE AT FULL POWER. Please, please, please let that be the finale. Ohmygosh I’d love that so much.

And that’s up to about episode twenty-fiveish, so that’s what I’ve got. I love the heroine being a ruthless badass (who is being forced to soften up into a ruthless but righteous badass instead); I like the hero being stoic and tremendously powerful and also putty in the heroine’s hands….not that she actually realizes it at first. I really like Red Murder Guy, even though he eats human souls for strength, just because he’s such a hilariously dense psychopath who has marvelous chemistry with everyone else. I even like Wimpy Chick–her actress does a really great job portraying both a wimpy girly-girl and a smirking, ultra-confident badass. Oh, and the Hot Uncle is hot, especially since he seems to be a genuinely good good guy. You can talk about your bad boys, but there ain’t nothing better than a good guy who can kick ass and be serene while doing so.

OH! [edit from episode 28,] there’s also Zhaoyao’s other sidekick, “Seventeen,” whom she raised and taught kung fu. Seventeen is also a hilarious and awesome character, because she’s a cheerful hellraiser who fights hard and loves doing it. Also: “I can’t believe she actually molested my uncle.” “Oh. Seventeen doesn’t know the difference between men and women. I raised her but I forgot to teach her about that.” AHAHAHAHA.

Anyhow, some commentary. The thing is: it’s actually pretty morally gray here, since the Wan Lu sect is comprised of self-admittedly vicious people who are redeemed only by their adherence to a creed (Zhaoyao defined it as “NOT BEING A F*CKING HYPOCRITE,”), while of the other “righteous” sects, there are individuals who seem reasonable and moral…but they’re all insufferably self-righteous and stuck-up. (It needs to also be pointed out that there are a lot of happy-go-lucky slash fairly bad but not if you put them up against a common enemy-type guys who liked Zhaoyao and agreed with her way of doing things, i.e., “some people just need killing.”)

The only one who seems actually morally sound is Wimpy Chick’s Handsome Uncle, who stays out of jiang hu politics but is willing to work with the Wan Lu sect against Red Hair Murder Guy. Point being, it’s not a black and white issue of which Sect is good and which is evil. The Immortal Sect people are vile because they’re hypocritical and dishonest; the Wan Lu Sect is good not because they are righteous but because they actually keep to their words and their creed. (There’s a chilling scene where Red Murder Guy gives a squad of Wan Lu mooks the option to kill each other and let one go free. Instead of slaughtering their brothers, they all kill themselves–depriving him of his next meal. It doesn’t sound very nice, but it’s pretty awesome in context).

So: Watch this one (but stop at episode 30)! It’s got a kickass heroine and a hilarious plot and epic battles and some gooey romance, and it’s really good.

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Random notes:
– Thirsty Viki commenters = pretty infuriating. It’s amazing how quickly people turned against Zhaoyao when she started going after their imaginary boyfriend; but their constant nicknaming characters is also very funny. I’m a fan of Buddha Daddy myself…
– Wan Lu Sect mooks gossipping about the boss’s game technique = gold. “We can pick up girls and then we can go kill bugs with them!”
– The “Death God’s Enemy” physician being pissed that Chenlan might die and ruin his reputation = awesome. The physician swearing that he’ll cut his own hand off if Chenlan disobeys his orders again and requires saving = hilarious. (AND THEN FACING THE FACT THAT HE MIGHT HAVE TO ACTUALLY GO THROUGH WITH IT?!!!!) And getting mad because his not-girlfriend is taking prescription medicines from a different doctor? I love this guy.
– The Death God’s Enemy physician was a pretty cool character, overall. Giving minor characters actual personalities and interesting character arcs (even if most of them revolve around romances) is always a winning move.
– Red Murder Guy keeping his buddies safe from a hallucination-cave….by literally tying them on leashes. “Woah boys, woah.”
– Red Murder Guy trying to write a letter to Zhaoyao. “Guys, help me out. What can I write to make me look cool and impressive and still communicate my feelings of fondness for her?” (beat) “…without sounding desperate.” And then BOTH OF THEM END UP DELEGATING THEIR SIDEKICKS TO WRITE THEM POEMS LOOOOL.
– AND THEN CHENLAN STARTS INTERCEPTING THEIR COMMUNICATIONS AHAHAHA
– UNTIL HE GETS MAD AND THEN JUST SHOOTS THE MESSENGER PIDGEON LOOOOOL
– “How much do you love me?” “More than eagles love the sky. More than horses love the prairies.”
– Zhaoyao’s initial efforts to do good deeds failing utterly miserably….in no small part because Red Murder Guy is “helping.” AHAHAHAHA
– Zhaoyao’s reunion with her South Hill Master/her former right-hand man, is touching and meaningful even when she hasn’t realized that he knows who she is and that he’s asking her for forgiveness. He blames himself for her death, since he had information about the ambush but was unable to warn her due to being involved in a tragic romance and getting both his legs broken and his lover dead at the time….
– Lu Seventeen. Just Lu Seventeen. Girl is awesome and hilarious.
– There’s a scene where Chenlan is convinced he’s going to have to go rescue Zhaoyao and Wimpy–using his powers, which he’s not supposed to, has been consistently doing in defiance of doctor’s orders, and been making his injuries steadily worse–while the doctor, doctor’s assistant, and his chief bodyguard all beg him to take his medicine first instead…and then he discovers that the girls have managed to get themselves back just fine on their own. That was kind of satisfying.

Rated: More than horses love the prairies.

cover-the-legends

The Last Planet – Andre Norton

lastplanetIn a few words: swift, deft, lean, and adroit. My copy of this is 192 pages long and there’s not an extraneous scene in it. And in under two hundred pages we get collapsing empires, Galactic Patrols, inter-service rivalries, xenophobia, mysterious planets, castaways, insanity, ancient cities, psychic dictators, street fighting, mind control, lost memories, alien aristocrats, barbarian tribesmen, impersonating deities, space dogfights, battle, and survival. And democratic government.

(And that’s basically the plot.)

Most books these days would pick one or two of these and then just stick with it….and they’d still be about three times as long and nowhere as well-done. For ex: they’d go with the xenophobia angle, double and triple and quadruple-down on it–where here, it’s treated seriously but always within the context of the driving plot. Regular Patrolmen have a disdain for Rangers–that is exacerbated into distrust and fear of the Bemmy Rangers (who happen to be three out of the surviving four.) This means that after the ship crashes, the survivors are that much less likely to listen to their SERE experts. It means that physical attacks get launched and racial slurs get spat while tensions are high and professionalism becomes a thin veneer over pure fear and uncertainty. It means that after the Patrol group encounters another party of civilian refugees, they’re that much easier to split apart–and control.

(It also means that our hero, Kartr–a human–must be in the thick of all of this, because almost no one else will talk to the Bemmys, which is actually a very clever way of involving your POV character and showing your audience what’s going on.) It doesn’t mean: there are racial slurs in every conversation; there are constant denigrations or complaints; there is constant angst and dislike. Because everyone is trying to survive here; emotional validation is unnecessary, and every one of the Patrolmen does know, in his heart, what professionalism is, and who is on his side, and who isn’t. It also means that when push comes to shove, the Patrol sticks to its own.

It doesn’t mean: we get deluged with the nitty details of survival on an alien planet, complete with latrines. It does mean: that the author has thought about what happens to primitive peoples when they get exposed to exotic diseases they have no immunity to….and what they do to people who claim to be gods and yet bring evil spirits into the camp.

It doesn’t mean we get radio chatter (which is a shame, because I love me some good radio chatter. IRL it’s usually “Who was that for?” and the ex-Marine lecturing you for not using “Copy” correctly. Oh, and finding out that you were actually open-miked all along, that one’s always fun.)–but we do get to watch a thrilling space battle–from a distance–and the stakes are great and the suspense is high.

Rated: Terra–Terra of Sol.