A little link management

Occasionally I like to go through my links and remove outdated ones, ones to pages I don’t read anymore, etc. Did that today and thought I’d document it, so my biographers can know what I was reading at this time of my life.

First up, I removed a link to a friend’s private blog which has now been deleted. The blog had been gone for a long time, but I only now got around to removing the link. I really enjoyed the blog while it lasted; she wrote about the exercise program she was doing and the outfits she wore and occasionally about her travel experiences. I don’t know what compels people to delete their blogs (obviously; have you seen my archives?) but I’m always sad when it happens.

Next, I removed some webcomic links. Quiltbag is, all of a sudden, over. I was sort of surprised by T’s reasoning, especially his citation of Girls with Slingshots and Dumbing of Age as suitable replacement reads. I already read and enjoy those, and Quiltbag does different things for me.

T’s writing has something I don’t get from any other webcomic author. I’m not quite sure how to describe it. Other comics are, generally, easy to read. I may have to refresh my memory about plot details, but in terms of following character motivations, I tend not to have trouble. Not so with T’s comics, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think he presents characters with personalities completely different from mine and from what I am accustomed to in storytelling, and I enjoy trying to figure them out. I’m really going to miss that. Quiltbag, like Penny & Aggie, was an ideal setting for this sort of storytelling, as there are no conceits or epic storylines to distract from the character interactions.

So I’m disappointed that I won’t have a T Campbell comic in my read list anymore. I don’t really know anything about Guilded Age; fantasy stories aren’t usually my thing, and what little I read about it didn’t sound all that exciting to me. Meanwhile, I haven’t read the sci-fi epic Fans! since Rikk and his new beard rode off into the sunset with Rumy and Alisin. I loved the series, but I pretty much figured it was done. (Maybe I’ll jump back in again someday.)

To be honest, not continuing with Quiltbag strikes me as playing it safe. So Quiltbag ended up being more challenging than it seemed it would be at first. So what? It’s good. It’s got the potential to be great. It’s uniquely positioned to tell stories only T can tell, in a way only T can tell them. And the kinds of stories T was telling there were important. I don’t think deciding not to tell a story because you don’t think you’re good enough to do it justice is a good reason. It’s a decision based on fear.

I know from fear. It’s why I haven’t written a damn thing. Don’t be like me, T :>

But I digress. Back to my link organization.

I finally removed the link to No Need for Bushido. It’s been on hiatus for three months. There was a Kickstarter, but it was unsuccessful. The artist is trying to step back, gain some perspective, and return fresh to the comic, and he estimates that will take about a year. If NNFB is ever reborn, I’ll definitely check it out again.

Shadowbinders is now gone from my link list as well. It’s not over, but I’m just not enjoying it as much as I thought I would. The story feels kind of tired. I’ll stick to The Dreamer for my “girl gets pulled into another world” itch.

And so here are the comics I am currently reading:

Abominable Charles Christopher: I love the art and the stories that are almost imparted rather than told.

Bad Machinery: I’ve been a fan of this universe since Scary Go Round.

Darths and Droids: We’re finally into the Holy Trilogy and I’m loving it.

diesel sweeties: I don’t read this one for the storylines. I can’t keep track of which robot is dating which human, or who hates who, or whatever. I just like the jokes.

Dreamer: Beautiful art and intriguing story, plus US history! What more could you want?

Dumbing of Age: David Willis does it again. (Is this the only DW comic whose title does not end with an exclamation point?)

Erstwhile: I’m really enjoying these retellings of lesser-known fairy tales, so much so that I funded the Kickstarter and will be receiving a print copy of the first several stories soon.

Girl Genius: The story can seem to move slowly (each day’s update is written like a page in a comic book) but the humor is quirky and hilarious and the overarching tale is epic. Also, a bunch of smart people and a bunch of insane people (and a bunch who are both) all fighting to rule the world mwahahaha!

Girls with Slingshots: I actually somewhat dislike the main character, because she doesn’t really do anything but get drunk and complain, but the other characters are really interesting, and the series tackles social issues in a funny way.

Kevin & Kell: The only furry comic I imagine I will ever read. It gives me a Sunday comics feeling, but with interesting stories and good jokes.

Minion Comics: I link here for Wizard School, which just wrapped up its first storyline. I’m actually not sure if I’ll keep reading, because I’m getting a bit bored of the conceit (Voldemort-inspired bad guy chooses Archer-inspired grown man as his Harry Potter).

Misfile: At this point I just want to know what’s going to happen. Kind of the same reason I will read the rest of A Song of Ice and Fire.

Multiplex: The current zombie movie storyline is driving me a little crazy. I am not a fan of monster movies generally, and while I can develop strong attachments to certain titles in the genre–Night of the Living Dead, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series–I ultimately find the whole vampire/werewolf/zombie/whatever hysteria to be pretty boring. Kind of like pirate/ninja obsessions. It sometimes seems like people like things because they have these elements. For me, if I like something that has one or more of these elements, it’s usually in spite of them. Don’t give me gimmicks. Give me good stories. That all said, Multiplex has a great story and great characters, which is why I’m still reading.

Nimona: This series is pretty new, but I’m enjoying it a lot so far. The art is really cute, and the story offers a fun twist on good vs. evil.

Nukees: I may just be reading this out of habit. I’ve been reading it for so long. Could I tell you how the story has progressed throughout the years? No. But I can tell you about Gav, Danny, and King Luca’s personalities. And I still vaguely remember Suzy Gee…

Penny Arcade: Another habit read, though it can still make me laugh. I used to love reading Tycho’s news posts, but I don’t have time to wade through them anymore :( Not being a gamer, I’d often have to follow a bunch of links just to understand what he was talking about, and I can’t commit that much time to a webcomic these days.

PvP: Don’t really know what to say about PvP. Story-wise, I’ve been a bit bamboozled since the setting change to Seattle. I don’t really feel the same connection to the characters as I once did. I love watching the changes in art style though.

Questionable Content: Love love love love love this comic. Love it so much. The characters are so interesting, the art is so wonderful, there are people with different body types omg, and the discussions of anthroPC rights are really intriguing.

Red String: Lovely art and compelling stories.

Roomies!: Yeah, I’m reading it again from the beginning as Willis posts them, because why not? It’s fun to compare his storytelling abilities from years and years ago to his storytelling abilities now. Just goes to show that practice does indeed make perfect.

Shortpacked!: Love the one-offs, love the storylines. Love David Willis (though not in that way).

Sluggy Freelance: The first webcomic I ever read. I still love it and I’ll read it until it ends. Which may be soon. It sort of feels like all the stories from the entire history of the comic are being pulled together somehow in the current story. Gives it a sense of finality…

Wandering Ones: I think I read this comic out of a sense of vague curiosity. I’m interested in the author’s interest in naturalism, and how he renders his post-apocalyptic (or whatever) world. But I don’t find myself really remembering much about the characters or plotlines.

With Fetus: Another new addition to my reading list, this comic is extremely well-written and I appreciate and enjoy the accompanying notes. I wish the creator had partnered with an artist instead of taking on drawing the comic herself. She does a passable job, but better art would give the comic a broader appeal.

Wondermark: I adore this comic.

xkcd: There are times I don’t get the jokes. When I do get them, I feel like a boss.

Zap!: I may give up on this comic soon. I’m not exactly sure why I still read it. Probably because I like the art.

So that’s an update on all my links. As far as other sidebar changes, you may have noticed that the widget that showed my latest tweet is gone; I’m not real happy with Twitter these days and have been spending more time on App.net Alpha. I tried pulling in the RSS feed from my ADN account, but it looked pretty dumb, so I took it right back off. I’ve also removed the RSS feed of my latest SmugMug photos. To replace all these things, I’ve simply created a link category called “Heather Meadows”, under which I’ve linked to my various profiles. (I’d call it “Me”, but then WordPress alphabetizing would put it below “Japan”, and I want it to be at the top.)

On the “if I have the time and inclination” quasi-to do list in my head are a proper About Me page and a new graphic design for the blog. I don’t want to change the theme really, but a new header and background and some nice matching text and link colors would be spiff. I would eventually like to create my own WordPress theme, but I seriously don’t have the time to commit to that sort of project right now.

Sherlock deductions

Sean and I finally watched series two of Sherlock, finishing up last night, and I’m so excited about my Reichenbach deductions that I wanted to write them out. If you haven’t seen series two, stop reading now and go watch it on Netflix. Then come back.

Here are the things we know:

Sherlock chose the final meeting place with Moriarty.

Sherlock doesn’t fulfill Moriarty’s demand until John arrives. He tells John exactly where to stand and watch, and he also tells him some very specific things, saying it’s important.

When Sherlock jumps, he doesn’t go head-first. As smart as he is, he’d know that would be the best way to die. Instead, he jumps in such a way that he’d seemingly land on his hands and knees.

After the fall, the first thing that happens is John is clipped by someone on a bike. He’s disoriented. By the time he’s back on his feet, a crowd has clustered around the “body”. John runs over, but time has passed. And the crowd, while letting him get a look, ultimately doesn’t let him examine Sherlock.

We don’t see the funeral. We therefore don’t see if it was open casket.

We don’t see what happened to Moriarty. No one but Sherlock knew he’d “shot himself”.

More generally:

Sherlock Holmes, like James Moriarty, is an actor. He can pretend anything. He can even be friendly if he wants to; he just rarely wants to.

Sherlock and Moriarty have similar intellects and drive. They are both willing to go beyond what would normally be considered, well, sane. We know this from the end of series one, not just from the conversation and suicide one-upsmanship at the end of series two.

The information Moriarty has on Sherlock comes primarily from their interactions in series one and from Mycroft. This means he is estranged from new information, especially after Sherlock finds the hidden camera.

As Sherlock has never indicated any interest in Molly beyond using her as a tool, Moriarty has no reason to think she is important to him. Indeed, Sherlock confirms this when he asks, “Watson? Mrs. Hudson? Lestrade?” (Technically Molly may never have caught Sherlock’s notice if she hadn’t observed his mental state, but that’s tangential. The point is, up until then Sherlock never would have considered Molly a part of his “team”, and so Moriarty doesn’t either.)

I believe that at the point Sherlock told Molly he thought he was going to die, he had already deduced 1) how Moriarty had managed his break-ins; 2) how Moriarty planned for his taking-down of Sherlock to end–suicide in disgrace. He may have even deduced 3) how far Moriarty was willing to go to ensure Sherlock killed himself. And as he knew Moriarty would have plans in place to deal with Watson, Mrs. Hudson, and Lestrade, this knowledge didn’t help him come up with a way to outfox Moriarty, because if he enlisted their aid, Moriarty would know…hence Sherlock’s desperation, and his sudden epiphany that he could rely on Molly.

(I imagine the writers are making a point about the importance of human relationships here, a theme I think the Holmes-inspired House could have used a bit more of…but perhaps I’m reading in a bit too much ;)

And so Sherlock’s plan to save his friends and best Moriarty depended on two things: Moriarty not knowing he was relying on Molly, and Moriarty continuing to underestimate him. Sherlock had to act out his deductions as if he were having them for the first time on the rooftop, too late to do anything about them. But in reality, he’d already set a plan in motion through Molly that would allow him to jump from the rooftop, appear dead, but emerge unscathed. This plan had the crowd below, the guy on the bike, and even the medical team that picked up his body in on it–just as Moriarty had people at every level in on his break-in scheme.

Further, I don’t think Moriarty is really dead; he goes on and on about how hard it is to keep on living when everyone is so dull, but the sense of self-preservation isn’t that easy to kick if you’re not actually depressed…and Moriarty isn’t depressed. He’s bored. “Killing” himself probably seemed like a fun idea. Sherlock probably knew Moriarty wasn’t dead, as well, but he’d tried the verbal jousting route and the safest way to protect his friends was to go through with the fake suicide plan.

What I’m interested in seeing is where things go from here. I don’t quite remember from the stories, but I believe there was one in which Sherlock was said to have survived Reichenbach Falls after all. Maybe in the interminable time before series three I’ll go back and reread.

The continuing KKM story

Kyou Kara Maou could have ended with season 2 and I would have been happy. It was a great ending. The purpose of Yuuri becoming the Maou had been fulfilled, and he gained the power to go back and forth between worlds, so you could imagine that his adventures continued, but there was enough resolution that you didn’t need to see it.

Then Kyou Kara Maou R was announced. I figured the producers wanted to tell a stand-alone story, and that was it. But after seeing the OVA, it’s obvious that it was made more as a preview for season 3. I’m not sure on the timing, so I don’t know if it was made to gauge interest, or to simply serve as an introduction. Episodes 1 and 5 tell a story by themselves, as I mentioned before, but it’s not a very robust story. It’s a teaser, to show us who Saralegui is without resolving anything.

By the time I saw the last episode of the OVA, the third season had been long announced, so I wasn’t bothered by the lack of resolution. So far the KKM producers have done everything right–they’ve only introduced elements they intended to resolve. I can’t wait to see what happens with Sara in season 3.

It’s looking like he’ll be in episode 85…and he’ll possibly dance with Yuuri? This is confusing, since they only met in the OVA, so I don’t know if the OVA is supposed to have happened by now, or if they just don’t realize they’ve met before when the OVA happens.

I don’t think the OVA has happened yet. Wolfram was so shocked to see Shinou at his temple that I imagine Yuuri hasn’t told anyone he’s there, but in the OVA everyone knows.

The pace of the OVA is so fast. It’s unclear why they were going to Caloria in the first episode. Everyone was together, so the two groups–Murata, Conrad, and Josak, and Yuuri and Wolfram–would have to have already come back together by then. Not only that, but Yuuri and Murata would have to have gone back to Earth; they return at the beginning of the OVA. I really don’t think the OVA can be sandwiched into the season 3 timeline anytime soon.

(Episodes 2-4 of R could be stuck in at any point, since they’re stand-alone episodes, but I assume they would go either right before or right after 1 and 2.)

I’ll be interested to see how this all plays out. I imagine it will be obvious where the OVA goes in the chronology once we get there…although I’m kind of wondering if the OVA, as a preview, was actually an alternate universe version of events that doesn’t fit into the timeline at all. That would kind of suck, though.

Episode 85 has already aired. Can’t wait to see it.

More thoughts on KKM 79

Josak: Is it okay not to let him know about it?

Gwendal: There is no proof as of yet. If he knows about it, I’m sure he’ll do something unnecessary.

Josak: Yeah, this is Yuuri we’re talking about. He’d probably run off on his own. Or he might even start thinking his own existence is a burden…

It’s got to be politics. Somebody, maybe Sara, maybe whoever we’re seeing in the wintry shot that looks like Big Cimaron, maybe even a country that is supposedly part of the alliance, is pressuring Shin Makoku by planting seeds of doubt in the other nations of the alliance.

“They aren’t even following their own traditions! The Maou hasn’t undergone his coming-of-age ceremony, even though he’s already 16! How can we trust the mazoku to be true to their promises if they eschew tradition when it’s inconvenient?”

And so, just in case, the Ten Aristocrats went ahead and picked out a replacement Maou.

There has got to be a reason that it’s Wolfram, some political reason. Gwendal apologizes for the trial he’s put his little brother through. Maybe he was the only quasi-neutral candidate (non-head of house) that Gwendal could think of who was nobility and still close to Yuuri in some way.

There is also something else going on, some sort of plan that the Ten Aristocrats have been asked to agree on beyond simply picking Wolfram to replace Yuuri. There’s evidence of this, I think, in the way the castle retainers discuss the vote.

Anissina: I have received a message from my brother on the matter. The von Karbelnikoffs have no objections.

Conrad: Lord von Wincott gave us a favorable answer as well.

Celi: My brother [Lord Stoffel von Spitzweg] stated various things, but Raven will do something about it.

Gwendal: All we’re waiting on is a response from Lord von Rochefort and Lord von Gyllenhaal then.

Gunter: As of right now, they have not broken their neutrality. I don’t blame them. However, when His Majesty’s coming-of-age ceremony ends…

Gwendal: That is why it must succeed, no matter what.

Obviously, what they’re doing is not trying to manipulate Yuuri out of the throne, but keep him in it, though the actual strategy remains unclear. It looks like we have 5 votes for the measure: von Voltaire, von Christ, von Karbelnikoff, von Wincott, and von Spitzweg; one abstention: von Grantz [is Adalbert head of house or are the von Grantzes absent for some other reason?]; two votes up for grabs: von Rochefort and von Gyllenhaal; and one household decidedly against the whole thing: von Bielefelt. It’s apparent that they hate the plan, want Wolfram to stay in their territory, and possibly don’t support Yuuri as Maou–Wolfram’s line “There is only one true king in Shin Makoku!” seems to be a direct response to his family’s position.

It also appears the von Radfords voted no, since they weren’t mentioned in the list of supporters. That makes it 5 to 2 with one abstention so far. Gwendal will need at least one more vote to get the majority. There might be a rule that you have to have 7 votes to pass something, since 7 is a lucky number, but then again this is a demon kingdom, so I don’t know if 7 would have the same meaning there.

So, as usual, I’m making wild guesses about everything without enough information ;> Remember when I thought Shinou wanted to destroy all humans? (Though I suppose that I was technically right, given that he was possessed at the time :>) Regardless, I’m really looking forward to seeing what develops.

This season may answer some questions about Gwendal and Wolfram’s fathers. We see Lord von Bielefelt at the beginning. Is he Wolfram’s dad? If so, why did he and Celi split up when Wolfram was still a toddler, as seen in the original anime? If not, is Wolfram’s father dead? Is this perhaps his dad’s brother, or some other relative? This list indicates Wolfram’s father is dead, according to the light novels, but I’m not quite at a level where I can read those yet. (Translation please?)

Gwendal, of course, is the head of his house, meaning his father is either dead or retired. In the original anime, when we see Castle Voltaire, we don’t see any other nobles, so that’s still up in the air.

We know all about Conrad’s father…let’s show the other brothers some love! ;>

I’d also like to know more about the other Ten Aristocrats, and why they don’t have representatives at court. Actually, I wonder if Effee is related to any of them. Yes, she’s a maid, but she could also be…a spy!

All right, that’s enough conjecture for now. I need to pack up and head off to Kentucky :)

Edit: As I was packing, it occurred to me that the problem could easily be the fact that Yuuri chooses to go back and forth between worlds. Someone who wanted to get rid of him could argue that it’s hard to have confidence in a Maou who only spends half his time in his country. They could back that up with the fact that Yuuri lets Gwendal do everything–maybe that’s why Gwendal sourly told Yuuri that if he was an adult, he needed to start acting like one and performing his duties.

Kyou Kara Maou OVA

IMAGE: Shori is interrupted while playing a dating sim

Last night I watched Kyou Kara Maou R in its entirety. I had seen the first four episodes previously; finally I found a raw version of episode 5. The quality wasn’t great, but I was pleased to discover that I could follow what was going on without subtitles, like I did back when I was anxious to see how KKM season 2 ended.

(There are also some errors in the fansub of episode 4 that I was able to recognize, such as Gwendal’s line, 「それはりすちゃんだ」, which means “That’s a squirrel”, not “Her name is Risu-chan”. I only picked up on this because I already knew that people tend not to recognize the animal Gwendal is trying to make. In this case, Greta thought it was a fox.)

The five episode OVA starts with the first part of a new adventure involving Small Cimaron’s king, Saralegui.

IMAGE: Sara tries bewitching Yuuri

IMAGE: Sara tries bewitching Yuuri

IMAGE: Sara tries bewitching Yuuri

IMAGE: Sara tries bewitching Yuuri

IMAGE: Sara tries bewitching Yuuri

After that it goes into three stand-alone, humorous episodes whose only purpose seems to be to reintroduce Shinou to the world. There’s a worldwide festival held in Shin Makoku, unthinkable before Yuuri’s time as Maou; an ancient magical device that shows people their most dreaded future, with which Shinou decides to play a prank; and a story about on the level of season 2’s “Baby Panic”, in which pink bear bees spawn and give their love to dragons thanks to the power of Gwendal’s obsession with cute. Then we go back to the Sara story.

IMAGE: Sara reveals his true intentions to Yuuri

IMAGE: "For example, I could tell his heart to stop."

Episode 5 was hands down the most epic. Yuuri, Conrad, Wolfram and Josak head to Small Cimaron with Sara and Beries; Murata brings Shori to Shin Makoku on Shinou’s request, and they meet up with the retainers Yuuri left behind to try to find a way to save Yuuri from Sara; another function of Morgif is revealed; Beries demonstrates his powerful houjutsu, ultimately facing off with Adalbert (I LOVE ADALBERT!); and Sara finally reveals his evil powers and demands. If you’ve watched this show at all you can probably imagine how it ends, but it’s still worth seeing for yourself.

IMAGE: Wolfram fights back

IMAGE: "Run! Run for it, Yuuri!"

IMAGE: Yuuri gets pissed

IMAGE: "I believed in you."

IMAGE: Yuuri gets pissed

IMAGE: Yuuri gets pissed

IMAGE: Sara jizzes himself

IMAGE: Maou-mode

The humor is great, too. My favorite part has to be when Shori complained to Murata, “What am I, a battery charger?” XD

IMAGE: "What am I, a battery charger?"

IMAGE: "You didn't do anything!"

There were things I didn’t like about this OVA. A lot of the new music was boring, and some of what wasn’t boring was blatantly ripped off existing pieces. For example, the music played in episode 2 when people are arriving for the festival is essentially “Fireworks” by Nicholas Hooper, from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Plus, in that same episode they introduced some less-exciting Maou-mode music, much to my dismay. It was used again in episode 4, but, thankfully, in episode 5 they went back to the real deal.

Yuuri was still Yuuri, but he was unfortunately much more…uke. He blushed all the time, and in episode 5 he even grabbed Sara’s hand. I can’t speak for how he is in the novels, but in the anime he is very straight–you could argue he borders on homophobic. In the first few episodes he can’t get over how “fundamentally wrong” it is that it’s even possible for him to be engaged to Wolfram. Sure, he gets used to the open homosexuality around him after awhile, but I would hardly say he embraces it.

IMAGE: Yuuri blushing

IMAGE: Yuuri blushing again

Yuuri’s reactions to Wolfram are part of the comedy of the franchise. He doesn’t reject Wolfram because he doesn’t like him–he obviously cares a great deal about Wolfram, to the point of risking his own life. He rejects Wolfram because he is not attracted to men. He’s a self-described “dirty baseball boy”…he’s not going to go around holding hands with men.

IMAGE: Yuuri takes Sara's hand

IMAGE: Wolfram is none too pleased

IMAGE: Yuuri holding Sara's hand

There is a running joke about who he’ll end up with romantically, and a sort of underlying belief/hope that he will come around eventually and get with Wolfram or Conrad or some other guy, but it seemed throughout the first two seasons that this dynamic was meant to be permanent and subtle, not that he is going to actually grow into being homosexual. The OVA refutes this, and it’s jarring.

Another thing that was far more subtle in the anime was Gunter’s crush on Yuuri. The OVA is ludicrous by comparison. Don’t get me wrong, Gunter’s pretty ridiculous in the anime, but the OVA not only crosses the line, it blasts through it like it was never there. He’s constantly having nosebleeds and muttering about seeing Yuuri naked. Again, it’s just jarring.

IMAGE: One of Gunter's many nosebleeds

An OVA is by nature shorter and more concentrated than a drawn-out story, but there’s no need to exaggerate personality traits like this.

Ultimately, though, I did enjoy the OVA. It had all the good stuff: Yuuri’s policy of believing in people, the mazoku retainers’ endless loyalty, bravery, and asskickery, some good seibai, and an interesting new villain. It was a good way to curb my appetite for KKM while I await season 3…which has just started in Japan. Now I’m just hoping someone will pick up the North American license that was abandoned when Geneon stopped distributing anime, so I can own all of KKM on DVD.

IMAGE: Seibai!

IMAGE: Seibai!

IMAGE: The gang

Holding on

Originally written as a comment on Marie’s blog.

I’ve always been pretty bad about wanting to hang on to things. Visiting my mother’s family in Illinois as a child, I had two experiences that shocked me and made me think that maybe I was hanging on too tight.

The first was with my cousin Cary. We built a diorama out of paper and aluminum foil of some pretend land. When we were done, my cousin exclaimed, “And the best part about Imaginary World? Destroying it!” And she proceeded to tear what we had just created to shreds.

I was so horrified I couldn’t even react.

Later that same trip, at my Aunt Carol’s house, Carol was teaching me to crochet. I made a long, thin, curly something that I thought was pretty neat.

“Now for the fun part,” Carol intoned. “Destroying it!” And she started to pull at the yarn, tugging the loops apart at the end. (Obviously Cary and Carol spent a fair amount of time together.)

This time I thought quickly enough to protest. “No!” I cried. “Don’t destroy it! I want to keep it!”

Carol was taken aback by this. Her previous excitement vanished, and the crocheting session ended.

Her reaction made me wonder if I was being silly. I wondered if I should go along with the destruction to please her.

But I’ve always been stubborn. I said nothing further and kept the strip of woven yarn.

And I kept it for years. In fact, if it hadn’t been for our apartment fire three years ago, I’d still have it, 20 years after disingenuously crocheting it.

Sometimes I wonder if that fire was meant to show me that I hang on too much.

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On a lighter note

Keys to the Kingdom

Revenge of the Aztec Mummy

Angel Spit

Lara Croft: Legacy

Pre-Teen Raider

There are some animated Lara Croft shorts over at Gametap. As of right now they’re up to eight shorts that tell five stories, and two more stories are on the way.

The first story, “Keys to the Kingdom”, has a cabal of different religions coming together to get an artifact said to revive the dead. The idea of religions uniting (and being bad guys) was also done in Ctrl-Alt-Del recently, and it’s facile, reactionary, and not particularly imaginative in general. Still, it was a decent story, and I did find the part where all the religious leaders told each other to go to hell, or called each other infidels, or whatnot, fairly amusing. Great art and animation, too. The story and art are by Peter Cheung of Aeon Flux, which perhaps explains everything I just said.

The second story, “Episode 4: Revenge of the Aztec Mummy”, is completely different. It’s Lara Croft done as a spoof. And it’s really not all that funny. You might want to just skip it. The animation at least fits the story, I guess. I almost felt like I was watching one of the poorer Darkwing Duck episodes. I think I know why: the design was by a guy who worked on Animaniacs.

The third story, “Episodes 5 and 6: Angel Spit”, is actually pretty neat, though the ending is a bit cliched. The part where she blows a huge hole in the wall really made me cringe, though. Watch it and you’ll know why. Quite an interesting situation. I thought the animation was fairly decent in this one, but at times it looked South Park-y. Warren Ellis wrote the story, which made me expect more–though I’ve never read a thing the man’s written, people seem to go on and on about him. The dialogue was good and the story felt epic. It was really just the ending that was kind of blah.

The fourth story, “Episode 7: Lara Croft: Legacy”, is my absolute favorite. It was perfect. Of course, you’ll be turned off if you didn’t ever like Hanna-Barbera’s adventure cartoons like Jonny Quest, because this is done in an old-fashioned style with old-fashioned music. There are even “dust particles” on the “film”. I thought it was campy and fun. And the story was good too. I enjoyed the addition of a character who wasn’t simply there for Lara to defeat. I’m not familiar with the writer or designer, but after watching this short I feel like I ought to be.

The fifth story, “Episode 8: Pre-Teen Raider”, is also good. Pretty cute. Although if one of your pet peeves is obnoxious children, you might want to pass. I don’t know anything about the writer or designers here, either.

From their synopses, the upcoming stories look pretty cool as well. “Raising Thaumopolis” sounds like a good premise for an adventure…plus it’s written by Mike Stackpole! And “A Complicated Woman” reminds me fondly of one of my favorite Batman: The Animated Series episodes, “Almost Got ‘Im”. I can’t wait to watch them.

Thanks to Tycho for pointing these out!

Edit 07/08/25: I watched Stackpole’s not long ago and enjoyed it. I guess I really wasn’t paying attention. I just watched it again. Basically, the bad guys in that story are “neocons” who started the war in Iraq in order to get an ancient artifact. That goes a little beyond metaphor, doesn’t it? Sheesh.

If you ignore that part, though, it’s pretty good. I enjoy Lara’s interactions with Mr. Cooper.