Battle Ground – REACTION/THOUGHTS (ENORMOUS SPOILERS)

Presented in mostly chronological order.

– Talk is cheap. It still goes to say: Marcone is The Man. I love Marcone.
– Mavra’s back. As a henchman. To Drakul. Eh.
– DRAKUL IS A STARBORN.
– Who refuses to tell Harry anything about what it means, naturally. Gah.
– “At this point of conversations like this one, I often offer the dark gift of immortality to someone in your position….but honestly, five minutes of you in my life has been quite enough.”
– Wild Bill dies and so does Yoshimo, probably also Chandler. 😦 For people with hardly any screentime, it’s…unexpectedly sad. That being said, screw the Black Court, seriously.
– That being said, there’s something of a disconnect between: mortal humans have all but eradicated the Black Court because of Bram Stoker’s instruction manual, and “the Black Court is THE STRONGEST kind of vampire, hands-down, no contest.”
– Einherjaren vs jotuns = lots of people screaming and looooooots of blood.
– MURPHY’S CALLSIGN IS VALKYRIE COME ON PEOPLE.
– Jim Butcher is a genius. When the hero gets a last-minute infodump from a literal talking head in the middle of a battle, it feels completely natural and realistic to learn that the stakes of the battle is actually the nature of reality and the reality of human existence.
– “Defilade the crap out of them.” “No, we want to be in defilade. You want them to be in enfilade.” “Whatever.”
– The Winter Knight mantle is actually not just the cloak of a thug…it’s the banner of a General. With all the responsibilities that come with it. (poor Harry).
– Murphy.
– Damnit Butcher.
– Murphyyyyyyyyyy
– Valkryrie she’s gonna be a valkyrie damnit damnit damnit. Damn you Butcher.
– No one in the Dresdenverse has a son. Everyone has daughters, everyone. Why?
– What the heck is Listen? He’s a mortal and yet he’s got Ethniu’s ear and he’s way more competent than King Corb. (although that’s not particularly difficult when Corb is supposed to be a sniveling, malicious, snidely-whiplash type villain).
– “And that’s how maybe two hundred and fifty fae charged five thousand Fomor at the Battle of the Bean.”
– NO I LIKED THE ERLKING WHY IS HE GETTING WHALLOPED
– (Marcone has upgraded from one flintlock pistol to MANY FLINTLOCK PISTOLS.)
– “We didn’t charge into the fray so much as aggressively shamble. But into the fray we went.”
– HENDRICKS
– OH WAIT OH WAIT GARD WORKS FOR ODIN NEVER MIND HE’LL BE OKAY. HE’LL BE OKAY RIGHT? RIGHT?
– Lara?
– OH FUCK MARCONES NECK GOT BROKEN SCREW THIS
OH FUCK HE DID IT. HE’S THORNED NAMSHIEL GODDAMN IT MARCONE. NO. I LIKED YOU SO MUCH BEFORE THIS. I mean, it’s one thing to have a mortal who has the guts and intelligence to stand up to supernatural threats and it’s one thing to have a mortal who is in thrall whether they know it or not to a literal fallen angel.
I do not appreciate this. So much for my theory about Good King John Marcone. Damnit.
– “No I don’t have any gopher wood. No one has any gopher wood. I’m not even sure it exists anymore.”
– OH HE WAS TRYING TO BUILD AN ARK AAAAUUUGH LOL
– Thomas??? JUSTINE??? GOODMAN GREY??
– OH FUCK IT WAS JUSTINE. DAMNIT. IT HAS ABSOLUTELY NO EMOTIONAL IMPACT AND IS RESOLVED/solved, anyway, WITHIN A SINGLE CHAPTER. DAMNIT BUTCHER. THAT IS NOT GOOD WRITING IT IS JUST SLOPPY.
– Murphy and Hendricks are Einherjar. But they aren’t coming back until all mortal memory of them has been lost.
– Michael Carpenter on the White Council of Wizards: “Those fuckers.” [redacted] “I’ll be happy to do penance, Lord.”
– The Feds are the Librarians….the Librum Bellum. Also known as the Men In Black. Heh.
– Is…is Lara a Harry/Marcone shipper….???????? Ew.
– GODDAMNIT NO NOT HARRY/LARA I SWEAR MURPHY IS NOT EVEN FREAKING COLD IN HER….VALHALLA….WHAT THE HELL NO. MAB NO.
– At least Molly got to go home.
– This one also only took me about three hours to read (5:00-7:49 a.m.) I feel distinctly cheated. I also had to *actually pay* for this one. My Russian Bot friends have let me down!

The Prince Commands – Andre Norton (Repost)

“Did you know Andre Norton wrote historical and alternate history, too?”
“Oh?”
“Yeah, she wrote a couple of Civil War novels, and this one I got at the giant booksale last year. It’s really nice. It’s like a boy’s adventure story. It’s awesome!”
“What’s it about?”
“It’s about a secret heir to the throne, and bandits, and cavalry charges, and secret passwords–and horses–y’know, more books ought to have horses. That’s the reason fantasy literature has declined, it’s ’cause they don’t have enough cool horses in them. Or dogs. There should be more dog books. And, oh, there’s winning your spurs, and, oh, oh, oh, fighting Communists! And it’s really nice. It’s a good book.”
“It has Communists?”
“Yeah, they came in from Russia and set up shop and tried to overthrow the old King, but everybody is actually really lotal to the monarchy and just laughed at them until they assassinated him, but that actually backfired on them and they had to go underground then.”
“They came from Russia? This isn’t science fiction?”
“No, it’s set in Prisoner of Zenda-land. You know, somewhere in eastern Europe, still got a King and an Archbishop and a cathedral, people still ride horses, there’s only one airplane in the whole country–”
“Andre Norton wrote this?”
“Yep! And it’s a really good book! The hero is like, just a boy and then he shows his worth and wins his spurs and becomes Prince–”
“That’s a ripoff. He should become King. That’s the Zelazny way. Cheating your hero out of their comeuppance so you can use them in more books. Andre Norton was trying to set up a sequel.”
“No! He wasn’t the first heir! They had him concealed in America and he was kept ignorant of his heritage, but then the Council tried to assassinate the real heir, and then they needed a puppet in a hurry so they called him in and bandits attack the train and he escapes. And then he has adventures. And they’re fun and exciting and…see, the foreward to the book is her talking about how she wrote it for a kid she knew. And it shows, because she wrote this book to be a good book for that kid to read. So it’s completely exciting and completely interesting and completely wholesome and worthwhile. It’s a really good book! I like it a lot.
“A sequel would have been nice, though.”

Dreden Files: Pre-Battle Ground predictions

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Art via zirofax.deviantart.com

(General spoilers)

– Justine is not Nfected–mostly because it wouldn’t have very much emotional impact if she did. She and Harry have hardly ever interacted, except wayyyy back in Grave Peril; and when she does have screentime (such as: Bombshells), her only defining character trait is bone-deep love and loyalty to Thomas. Placing Justine (and Thomas 2.0) in peril = drama. Justine Was The Mastermind = no setup and therefore no drama.

– Goodman Grey has been already hired by someone and has been seen impersonating a different character in Peace Talks (possibly Ramirez). My theory? He’s been hired by Future Harry.

– River Shoulders mentions that he knows a lot about the Starborn but can’t tell Harry right now because he promised not to.–the most aggravating and transparent tactics a hamhanded and inept author can use to maintain tension. Unless…the person who asked him to keep mum was also Future Harry.
Mirror Mirror’s the next book, that’s all I’m sayin’.

– Harry Dresden, wizard, has never been (or at least wasn’t at first) the target. Remember way back in the day when Gentleman Johnny Marcone was being attacked by two-bit sorcerers pedling magical drugs? Remember when Nfected FBI agents with wolf belts were trying to take down the big-time Chicago gangster? Also, remember when Lucifer himself helped break into Marcone’s saferoom in order to kidnap him?
Harry has never been the target of the various Chicago-centric plots. The enemy has always been targeting Marcone.
Why?

– MARCONE IS GOING TO BE THE NEXT KING ARTHUR AND HARRY IS GOING TO BE THE NEXT MERLIN.

– Murphy -> valkyrie….I’m on the fence for this. Jim Butcher had answered a fan question to this effect earlier with the info that there would be “no more powerups for Murphy.” Does it count as a power up if it restores her to merely 100% of her pre-Skin Game abilities?

– I have a theory about Tam Lin, escaping the Winter Knight mantle, and the fact that Harry and Murphy were unlikely to have been using protection when they, uh, finalized their relationship.

– I also have a theory about Rudolph: the guy we first see in Fool Moon as an out-of-his-depth rookie, but then also in Grave Peril as still-out-of-his-depth, resentful, in-denial of the supernatural–but staunch defender of his boss, Lieutenant Karrin Murphy. He even gives Harry a freaking, “if you do anything to hurt her.”–only to suddenly, at his next appearance, be a hated, conniving, snivelling weasel who weasels, cavils, exists to make things harder for the heroes, and is treated with contempt by every professional who has the misfortune to work with him.
I think that Rudolph is a hero who has been fighting this entire time to keep Murphy and Special Investigations safe. I think Rudolph has been either touched by the Nemesis (but still kind of in control of himself), or has been in direct contact with whomever it is is pulling the cops’ strings behind the scenes and been desperately running interference from there.
I think he’s going to have a death scene where this all is tragically revealed, a la Martin, and then Harry will feel very bad about it.
Anyhow, I hope so. So far, unlike in some of Jim Butcher’s works (SUCH AS Codex Alera and Cinder Spires), there haven’t been any characters who particularly exist just to be an audience hatesink.

Anyhoo. 

Runaway Train (1985) – Movie Review

mv5bodqyywu1ngutnjezys00ymnhltk1ywetzddlzgqzmti4mti1xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtqxnzmzndi40._v1_uy1200_cr7606301200_al_TLDR: It’s almost brilliant, which is to say: a lot better than it sounds. And, because I’ve realized that even the rest of my review tends to have a lot of scarily negative language, let me state that, on the whole, I think that the end result is a worthwhile watch. The Man might not conquer Himself–but he does free himself. That’s a spoiler, except not really. This movie might be grim, but it’s honest, never excessive, and ultimately, if not wholesome, cathartic.

It stars John Voight, Eric Roberts, and Rebecca DuMornay, and was directed by the guy who made Tango & Cash, hmmmmm….and, what, really? And also the 1997 The Odyssey miniseries and The Lion in Winter remake. That’s slightly impressive.

So the title sounds bland–another reviewer noted that it sounds like the kind of movie where Charles Bronson is the hero engineer who saves all the passengers except for crazy bomber Dennis played Hopper, who gets launched into a precipice at the finale–and therefore the title “Runaway Train” fails at a fundamental level: selling what this movie is about. It isn’t “man vs technology”–it’s “man vs himself.”

Try explaining that to someone who hasn’t seen it already. This movie is kind of disserved, weirdly enough, by its simple, uncomplicated storyline and characters that don’t lend themselves well to outside explaination. As a young Riders, I vaguely remember my older brother, in his counter-cultural/Nietzchean phase, expounding on this movie, but even hero worship couldn’t induce me to watch it, too. Also he locked me out of the TV room. It just doesn’t sound uninteresting: there are these two convicts who break out of jail and get stuck on, wait for it, a runaway train. And then there’s a girl who turns up, because of course there is.

It was always the inclusion of the female character that threw me….which, after seeing the movie, shouldn’t have. Her role isn’t pandering, isn’t useless, is purposeful, and isn’t meant as a love interest. She’s a vital part of the movie’s plot and serves as a (stressed and under pressure) moral center–a thing very much needed as the pace picks up (literally) and the tenuous partnership between Manny and Buck starts to break down into two dangerous animals, snarling and circling each other in a trap. (Yes, yes, that’s not an original metaphor, but it’s one that the film itself fully embraces, with multiple references to the duo as “animals” and even to the train itself as an escaped “beast.”)

So: plot. The plot is what it is–convicts get stuck on a runaway train–but it’s meaningful because of who it happens to. About thirty minutes is used to set up the characters: Manny, who is revered by the prison populace because he’s smarter, wiser, more philosophical than them, has escaped twice already, and also is a vicious, sociopathic killer. Then there’s Buck, who is younger, not particularly smart, idolizes Manny, and joins him on the way out. Manny won’t and can’t stay locked in his cage forever, not when he knows his enemy and his enemy is prison warden Ranken (John Ryan). Ranken is just as sociopathic and vicious as Manny–he’s just more capable of conforming to social norms… when he has to. The struggle between him and Manny is therefore that of one man against his mirror image: a relentless force that seeks to destroy by crushing down, and a merciless one that seeks to destroy by smashing through. (There are also a couple of minor characters in the railway offices, but never mind them.)

Manny, despite how brutalized he’s become, still is intelligent enough to know that, somewhere, there is a life worth living, and that, in some way, society is worth being a part of. He also knows damn well that he’s neither capable nor particularly desirous of doing so, while–potentially–Buck could be. If he tries. If he must. Maybe. That’s where Rebecca DuMornay’s character, a junior engineer becomes a moral hinge–not because she’s a love interest, but just because she arrives with the news that the situation is desperate and yet injects a certain amount of humanity into the two males’ testosterone-ridden, panicky, let’s double down on the metaphor and call it animalistic breakdown.

Since the movie’s interest is so character-based, it’s a given that the performances ought to be good. They are very good. Voight is cold, sullen, and lashes out into blurry intensity when it’s called for, and also has a mustache. Aparently Robert Duvall was interested in the part, and while that could well have worked (mustache!), Duvall would have been more theatrical. Manny is grim and realistic. Roberts is more energetic, jittering and slurring with a backwoodsy accent and bright-eyed enthusiasm that slowly gets drained and beaten out of him by the cold and encroaching death and the closing walls. DuMornay’s Sara is as emotional as the men–desperate, scared, antagonistic, excited–without ever being hysterical or even annoying…which is good writing and directing as well as good acting. John P. Ryan, as Ranken, is cool and contemptuous, hatefulness under a veneer of calm. And everyone genuinely looks like they’re in the process of freezing to death.

That’s not the only other part of the movie that’s great. The cinematography is good: cold, snowy, vast, fast, relentless. The stunts are good: naturalistic, engaging, scary. The music is good, unobtrusive when not needed, low-key and rousing when needed, and not too 80s, either.

And…well, yep, that’s about all I’ve got to say.

Anyhow.

Rated: I say YEAH!

Babble drabble

“Dada? Dada!”

“Yes, boo-boo, Dada is coming home soon,” Tamar sighed into the stack of bills.

“Wah! Dada wah!”

“We’ll go a walk after supper, boo-boo.”

Dejah Thoris McAdams, two years and twenty-one days old, was not yet at the “eyeroll, ‘Sure Mom’” stage of life. Simpler measures had to do when Mommy’s communication circuits failed, like jumping up and down with hands over her head and shouting.

The silence was suddenly very suspicious. Tamar found herself double-timing it over to the window where her offspring was staring, entranced, down the driveway.

“Dada wah.” Dejah explained.

The mecha waved.

– Stealing Prompts From Hiding Is Victimless Crime

Poetry Corner – The Listeners

"IS anybody there?" said the Traveler,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence chomped the grasses
Of the forest's ferny floor.
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the traveler's head:
And he smote upon the door a second time;
"Is there anybody there?" he said.
But no one descended to the Traveler;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his gray eyes,
Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
By the lonely Traveler's call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
'Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:--
"Tell them I came, and no one answered,
That I kept my word," he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Aye, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hoofs were gone.

- The Listeners, Walter de la Mare

Love and Destiny – Final Episode & wrap-up thoughts

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So it’s episode 60 and OK HERE WE GO. I’m pretty darned sure this series is going to have a happy ending, but honestly…

So back at Fuyun Hall, Yun Feng is pacing and Ling Xi has just swept in. She faces off at the door (Yun Feng braces) and says: Are you really not going to come back for Qing Yao? She’s drunk and in pain and you hurt her multiple times–beginning with the loss of her first husband and now you’re still hurting her to this day–High God Yun Feng!

And then she blasts the doors open. (took you long enough, girl.)

Yun Feng is standing there with his head hanging. But he tells Ling Xi it’s no use, Jiu Chen is gone. Ling Xi has to yell at him to tell her the freaking rest.

So cut to: Ling Xi at the black hole portal. She says: I should have known you’d do something like this. Duty is everything to you, isn’t it? And you left without even saying anything to me?! Not even any message with Yun Feng?!

Meanwhile, Jiu Chen is having little success guarding the portal on his own, even when he poofs extra hard.

Meanwhile, Yun Feng is addressing the Emperor…he’s going to take on responsibility. And Qing Yao crashes the party. Slap him Qing Yao!

HAHAHA SHE DOES AND STORMS OUT. AND LOL LORD BAISHAN STANDING THERE TELLS HIM GET GOING AFTER HER BOY RIGHT NOW.

So he does and she beats up on him for a while. He says: do it! You can kill me and it’ll stop hurting then.

But finally they hug and he apologizes. Well that was easy.

Ling Xi, meanwhile, is at her Phoenix Queen desk, doing stuff. Oh, it’s the succession decree. Is…is she going to go down into the black hole, too? She takes off her fancy robes and her queen jewelry (good, she looks better in her old clothes, with her hair down, honestly), and YEP. She’s at the portal and dives in.

Jiu Chen sees the flashing lights as she beats off some of the black smoke ghosts and looks up…they spot each other.
He says: Why are you here!?
Ling Xi: smiles slightly.
He yells at her and tells her no one said she could come!
She holds up the marriage contract, hah.
They hug.

Meanwhile, Demonized-Jingxiu is doing something with a box of….leaves? Demon leaves? Huh? Dude, I used to like you. He’s sad that Ling Xi chose Jiu Chen. Aw. So sad why oh why did she not give him a chance instead, it’s not faaaaaaair! DROP DEAD JINGXIU IF SHE DIDN’T LIKE YOU WHEN YOU WERE HUMAN SHE WOULDN’T LIKE YOU WHEN YOU’RE EMITTING BLACK SMOKE. Anyhow, he decides he’s going to destroy the world, then, “and it’s Ling Xi’s fault.”

So Jiu Chen says: well, we have to stay on guard down here. And, by the way, we’re stuck.
Ling Xi says: Well, let’s finish up that marriage ceremony quick, then. All that remains is the bows. BTW, the scenery down here ain’t that bad. And it’s in a well-trafficed area, at least: everyone who dies passes through…

So she kneels down and announces her wedding vows. And now they’re married!

Jiu Chen says: well, um, OK then.

Meanwhile at the Phoenix Border, Shi San (in men’s clothes) comes over to look for Ling Xi. But the new king, Changting, has sealed the borders. And then Demonized-Jingxiu arrives. Shi San draws her spear and stands ready to fight. It ain’t a fair contest, but she did try.

So, Hell on Earth commences, spreading outwards from the Phoenix Tribe territory, and passing Peach Blossom Forest. The delegation from Heaven poofs in fairly quickly, and Si Ming and Qing Yao go to Shi San. Thunder delegates the efforts to check things out.

Meanwhile down below, Demonized-Jingxiu poofs in to pay his respects to the lovebirds. And the worst thing about it is that he still has his polite, earnest way of speaking. Anyhow, they have a philosophical discussion on what exactly demons are.

They say: you’ve become a demon. He says: everything’s a demon, really.

Lol, Jiu Chen’s skeptically stoic face on hearing this.

Ling Xi says: Jingxiu, turn around. It’s not too late.
Jiu Chen says: …yeah. Do that, Jingxiu.
Jingxiu says: Nah.

So Jiu Chen turns into a white dragon and Ling Xi turns into a phoenix and Jingxiu turns into black smoke and they fight. Much CGI. Pretty colors and flashes.

Jingxiu has that retarded looking demon king sword now, but Jiu Chen also has his own sword and Ling Xi at least has power to be fighting the ghosts, too.

And then Jiu Chen bladelocks with Jingxiu and STABS HIM AND THEN GOES OVER TO THE PORTAL AND PULLS HIM THROUGH. Ling Xi yells for him to come back out, and Jingxiu gloats: she is not going to do it.

Jiu Chen says: I AM GOD OF WAR AND YOU ARE QUEEN OF THE PHOENIX TRIBE. DO WHAT I TELL YOU SEAL THE GATE.

She screams and does it. (Jingxiu’s “oh shit” face, though.)

And, for good measure, a quick flashback to them JUST AGREEING that they were married and won’t be separated AGAIN, ESPECIALLY SINCE THEY’RE LOCKED IN THE SPIRIT ABYSS. Gah. There’s still twenty minutes left. There’s still twenty minutes left! (But at least he promised that no matter WHAT, he’s going to return. Tell me how this spirit abyss thing works, then, hmmmm?)

There’s still twenty minutes left! I’m still holding out for a happy ending for EVERYONE INCLUDING BAOQING AND STUDENT REBEL DAMN YOU ALL.

What, wait? WHAT? Three hundred years later?! WHAT? HOW COME LING XI GOT OUT OF THE ABYSS??

Where is this? HUH?

OKAY, SO: Ling Xi is at Fuyun Hall (home of the former god of war) and meets the new HuaYan, who is spunkier and brattier than the previous version…but who is interested to hear that this is the lady of the house. ALSO LING XI HAS A KID OH GOSH. It’s a girl? And, ahahaha, the kid asks why HuaYan is in Daddy’s house because with the exception of Mom, all the women who hang around Daddy are bad people. HEH.

AAHAHAHAH WOW PERFECT HuaYan is the disciple of Cultivator’s disciple (you know, the dumb apprentice of the dumb apprentice who forced Jiu Chen to take him on?!) Ling Xi just says: if you need anything, look me up at the South Pole. I’m glad to see you–you’ve changed a lot.

HuaYan, of course, is puzzled.

In Peach Blossom Forest, meanwhile, Qing Yao and Yun Feng are planning to go see Shi San’s transformation ceremony. She didn’t die when Jingxiu hit her, apparently…but QY is more worried about Ling Xi. Well, it’s only been three hundred years…

Baby Girl is also anxious to meet this Shi San. Hah, Ling Xi doesn’t allow Yun Feng to babysit Baby because he fed her wine last time and she slept for twenty days.

Si Ming is also there–he’s been guarding Shi San in her fish form, heh. So they don’t really know whether or not she’s going to come back and what form she’s going to come back in. Also, Yuli is there and she giggles when Military Bro says something slightly amusing, so that’s nice, maybe they’ll get together after all.

And then Shi San poofs back in! As a mostly-human, but also with blue skin, gills, and giant ears. Why does a fish have ears? Also, she’s apparently lost her memory, because she doesn’t recognize Si Ming. Poor guy! Or any of the other people. Aw.

Ling Xi says: don’t worry. You’ll get to know us, and it’ll be fine.

But her smile has sadness in it, as well, well, of course it does.

Back at the South Pole, Ling Xi, Baby Girl, and Antler Puppy discuss things. Heh, Baby Girl wants to be a boy who kills enemies on the battlefield like Uncle Military Bro. Ling Xi just tells her that girls can kill enemies, too, don’t worry. Baby Girl wants to go out and practice, ahaha, with a little toy sword from a GIANT RACK OF TOY WOODEN SWORDS, lol.

Ling Xi is cleaning up a very long line of scattered toys on the ground when she notices that they’re in fact lined up and pointing somewhere…AND THERE’S THE KNOT CHARM!!!

Jiu Chen is getting interrogated by Baby Girl! And he’s got a really lame smile for Ling Xi when she catches up with them. But aw, they have a family hug (and Antler Puppy is there, too, even better). And they all go home together.

The…end…

609

FUCKING WORDPRESS WILL NOT ALLOW ME TO PUT CAPTIONS ON THE IMAGES. SO ANYHOW. LEFT TO EFFING RIGHT: Yuli, I think HuaYan but maybe Shi San, Yun Feng below her, Si Ming in the green robe, Qing Yao, and then The Emperor. Middle is Jiu Chen and Ling Xi. I think the Old Dude is Teacher. Yuan Tong is in white and Jiu Chen is in black with the head tattoos. The Phoenix Queen is to his right and Baoqing is in red behind her. SERIOUSLY WORDPRESS YOU SUCK.

Heh, and the subtitle team introduces themselves as “state immortals”. Aw, well, these guys earned it.

Well. Frankly, I think the last ten or so episodes were completely unnecessary and poorly constructed. Ling Xi had very little relevence in her own story; Jiu Chen failed to develop further as a character and in fact backslid into worse, dumber, less interesting person than he was before. Jingxiu, while it’s understandable that he ended up evil, given his character and circumstances…is still pretty disappointing considering that it’s FREAKING YUAN TONG who mediates his fall. I don’t even want to talk about it.

And let us discuss Yuan Tong. What a freaking extraneous person. Usually the characters created to be hate sinks–the people who have no purpose except to hate, hinder, hurt, obstruct, and confuse the hero–are male. Yuan Tong doesn’t really benefit from being the exception to the rule, though….past the first arc, when she had a defined, sympathetic purpose that she was going to undefinable and unsympathetic lengths to attain, she’s completely and utterly useless. I did seem possible that she might redeem herself by hard labor and much suffering when she got demoted but still given the chance to serve in the army…but she very quckly quashed that thought by being an unmitigated snake–who has no purpose other than to be obstructive, hurtful, and a hinderance to the hero and so does nothing freaking else. So we have a snake who isn’t even an interesting snake. And, at the end when, as an exile, she gets a chance to do something else not connected to the hero (find and/or create the new Demon King)…she blows that, too. And then dissolves, or something. Completely useless. Completely disappointing.

And, what about Baoqing and Student Rebel? Baoqing definitely started off as an intriguing character and there was plenty of space to build her into something.–I mean, if you have a princess who was found as a baby on the back of a random giant turtle, something’s gotta give, right? And while she was bratty and somewhat of, yes, a psychopath, she was also naive, cute, and enthusiastic. In other words, she had a distinct personality that other characters reaced to, and she also didn’t actually murder anyone we really knew. What I really also liked is how she and Jingxiu played off each other: enthusiasm but naivity versus patience and tolerance…that sometimes shades into impatience (with tolerance.) I REALLY LIKED THEM, OK? And given the hints of the romance between her and Student Rebel, the fact that he straight-up disappeared and she GOT KILLED BY HER BIG BROTHER for no freaking good reason at all, is extremely and entirely upsetting to me.

And Student Rebel doesn’t have much of a personality, but he did have a potentially good arc–a student of the Good Guys who for reasons of personal loyalty serves the Bad Guys but then falls in love with the enemy, not to mention befriends the triple agent working for the Moderately-Good Guys, and slowly decides to give up on the revenge business and then finds it ain’t that easy. That’s pretty solid! You can hang a lot on that framework. But instead he just gets straight-up dropped. And it’s not like there wasn’t enough time to develop it, this series is sixty episodes long and about fifteen of them are romantic filler-slash-fluff. I mean, not that it was low quality fluff, but it was still fluff.

And…well, that’s what I have for complaints. This was a pretty good series and it made me happy for almost a whole month while serving as a tiger intern.

Repost: Dark Emu – Bruce Pascoe

“So there’s this book called Dark Emu about how the Australian aborigines actually had pretty intensive cultivation before the British or whoever came….”
“What? Well, that’s a lie.”
“No, no, see, he has first-hand, primary sources and so on. He says they practiced intensive cultivation of things like grass and yams…”
“Grass?”
“For the seed grain.”
“Nuh-uh.”
“He thinks its akin to the primitive levels of cultivation of wheat. You know, historically.”
“Grass seeds are not as nutritious as wheat.”
“Well, like, the grass species they used were in the process of being domesticated, the same way it was in Mesopotamia. Only the process was interrupted. Or something like that, I think he thinks.”
“That would be smart except that that didn’t happen in Mesopotamia, either.”
“Well, yes, but the primary sources do say they did have huge fields of grass–”
“Yeah, and huge, huge fields of yams, as far as the eye could see. What they did is they used fire, like all the native peoples. They didn’t cultivate because they didn’t have domesticated animals to pull plows. I’m sure they were able to have large areas to harvest, in places like the coasts where you can do that kind of thing. This guy is just a bleeding-heart liberal environmentalist who doesn’t know anything about agriculture. Have you thought about changing your major to English?”
“Well, that’s another part of his thesis. He thinks that since they didn’t plow and there were no hoofed animals, this had a beneficial impact on the soil, since there weren’t any sheep to overgraze and the soil stayed covered almost year-round. So there are places now are desert that used to be able to support a, not necessarily a large, population.”
“Nope. Nope. Did not happen. You see, Anthropology and Sociology majors have to to do something to pay off their college loans, so they have to go and come up with things like this. It makes him feel good to think about the pure, innocent, primitive natives being out there, secretly being very smart but not as smart as he is. English majors just get jobs teaching school and reading books.”
“Well, he has primary sources! And sheep are very destructive! They could have contributed.”
“Yes, and he thinks that’s a strong argument because he’s an academic. He’s never heard of rotational grazing. No farmer wants to destroy his own pasture, why would he?”
“Well, I’m against sheep on general principles anyway. And Australia has had real trouble with introduced species. Like cane toads. And rabbits.”
“Uh-huh, and are they complaining about rabbits in the original sources?”
“No! Look, what he’s saying boils down to is that the aborigines had a pretty good established system of management for the land that was very different from the European system, that one didn’t necessarily work as well. And that they had some pretty sophisticated other technologies as well, like fish traps and animal traps.”
“And if you teach high school English to the kids, you can assign them books about living off the land and learning how to make bear traps from tree bark. What was that book you used to like? It was about the two boys out in the woods.”
“See, I thought his book was interesting because it seemed like a very elvish way of cultivating the land. You live in harmony with nature, and you get a giant harvest–”
“–of grass–”
“But you use minimal effort and you manipulate the landscape so the whole system works for you.”
“Wrong. Elves live in cities made of stone and glass and they plunder the earth to mine gold and jewels. I read it in a book.”
“….those are city elves, dad.”
“City elves are better than country elves. Who wants to be a country bumpkin elf when you could be a sophisticated and glamorous–”
“WHATEVER, DAD.”

[Note….This was a more-or-less verbatim conversation. I keep reposting it because it makes me laugh every time.]