Penguindrum 8 and MLPFIM S5E19 Liveblog Chat Thingy!

How to participate in the liveblog chat:  Option 1: Whenever you watch the episode, comment on this post as you watch with whatever responses you feel like posting! Option 2: Go to Enter a nickname, then for the Channels field enter ##rabbitcube, and finally fill in the Captcha and hit Connect! We’ll be watching Penguindrum and commenting there starting at 1:00 p.m. EST. We will then be watching MLP at 1:30. Those are one hour earlier than usual!
I will update this post with the chatlog after we’re finished.
ETA: Chatlog below the cut!
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Have another of those "deniable horror" stories like I did last year

I’m not afraid of the dark.
I just want to make that clear. It’s not the dark that frightens me. Not all dark, anyway.
I mean, sure, when I was a child I was afraid of the dark. But then I learned that some dark is friendly. The warm dark, at night, when you’re under the covers, safe in your bed. That’s the first kind I discovered, the protective, sheltering dark that gently surrounds.
In middle school I was the very first kid picked up by the school bus. It was then that I became familiar with the cold dark, which is no more of a threat than the warm. The cold dark is the crisp, cloudless, star-filled sky at five in the morning, the little fingers of cold that work their way into your coat through sleeves, collar, pockets, to remind you that you are awake and alive. Once I even saw an aurora, a frozen ripple of purple and blue far, far off in the northern sky.
The warm dark was the first kind to which I gave a name. The cold dark was third. In between, when I was six or seven, I discovered that not all dark was safe. There’s another kind, a kind that lurks and pools. The kind that streetlights don’t illuminate so much as punctuate, that feels like a physical substance pushing against the little circle of light, just waiting to snuff them out. The kind that is solid, tangible, and right behind you. It lived in my basement, the lurking dark, waiting at the foot of the stairs. I learned what bravery was the day I first went down there alone, and found nothing. I learned that it was all in my head.
But it still follows. Walking along the street at three in the morning, I feel it, throbbing and alive two inches behind my left ear. There’s nothing there when I turn to look, of course, because it’s all in my head.
Six doors down from my apartment is a narrow room containing recycling bins and the trash chute. The lurking dark lives there, one of many places. You can drive it off with a little dial next to the door. Twist it, and it slowly works its way back, ticking. The dark is patient. It listens, and when its minute is up, back it comes. The skin on my neck crawls as I shove my trash bags into the chute, listening to the ticking. I do not want to be there when the dark comes back.
I know. It’s all in my head.
Where does the dark go when we turn on the light? In the deep, deep caverns and the bottom of the sea, where no light has ever been, does it gather? Warm, cold, lurking, do they all return to the deep dark to nurse? I know it’s there. I see it in my head. The deep dark, the mother of all the others, their home.
And the other kind, too. The kind that’s never come out, that still waits to be discovered. The kind the lurking dark might take me to, if I wasn’t careful. The howling dark. The anger and loneliness for which this world of light and life is just an eggshell, thin and fragile.
But I’ve never seen it. It’s all in my head.
So why do I know that it howls? Why can I hear its screaming? Distantly, like a memory, but never ceasing.
All in my head, all in my head, all in my head. Why do people say that as if it’s supposed to be comforting? It’s all in my head! How can I run from something that’s in my head? No matter where I go, it arrives at the same moment I do!
And of course it’s in my head. There’s never been any light in there either. The inside of a skull is as dark as the bottom of any ocean trench, any ancient cavern. No light has entered there since the day you were born; even your eyes reflect it all back.
Where does the darkness go when you turn on the lights? It goes into your head, to feed. Its mother is right there, the deep dark, all in your head, my head. And waiting inside that, the howling. Of course I know what it sounds like, of course I can hear it, it’s in my head!
Although… There is one way to let in some light.

Captain's Log, Weekly Digest 46

A summary of the past week of posts to my in-character Star Trek Online Tumblr, chronicling the adventures of E.N. Morwen, a science-loving and thoughtful young woman trapped in a galaxy of warring space giants.

  • Closing the Circle: The Inverse goes on a covert mission for Temporal Investigations. (Original)
  • Background: During my couple of weeks of semi-hiatus, I posted little essays based on the background notes I use to keep the details straight. Here’s what I’ve posted so far:
    • Starfleet Command Structure: Discusses civilian oversight of Starfleet command and how the fleet itself is organized, from top-level divisions down to individual ships and starbases.
    • Starfleet Ranks and Roles: Lists enlisted, line officer, and flag officer ranks from lowest to highest, and discusses the shipboard and fleet roles commonly performed by each. Also gets into the internal organization of a Starfleet vessel.
    • Warp and Transwarp: The history of warp drive, how it differs between the TOS and TNG eras, what “transwarp” actually means, and the three different scales used to measure warp speeds (TOS, TNG, and STO eras).
    • The Federation Council: A little bit about Federation politics, briefly explaining the stances of the three major parties.
    • The Alizar: Notes on Alizar biology, culture, and history.

As the flag officer of a fleet or tactical group, Starfleet regulations also require Morwen to provide a Fleet Status Report briefly summarizing the current status and mission of all ships under her command, every Stardate that’s a multiple of 10. But I’m on semi-hiatus, so there isn’t one.
I am still trying to get an RP-focused fleet together! Contact me in-game at Morwen@froborr if you’re interested.

iZombie is really very good

I was hoping to have something a little more in-depth to say today, but then I got hit with a bout of insomnia last night, so I watched the first eight episodes of iZombie instead. It was good. Really good. Like, Veronica Mars when she was still in high school good. Basically Veronica Mars meets Dollhouse without the squicky consent issues of the latter. Well-written, well-performed, great balance between ongoing story and mysteries-of-the-week.
(No but seriously. “Has me thinking about my Hugo picks” level of good, here.)

He's got no sense of humor (The Laughing Fish)

Near Apocalpyse of '09 Logo
It’s January 10, 1993, a week after the debut of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and a month before the “Robin’s Reckoning” two-parter. The top song is still Whitney Houston with “I Will Always Love You.” Also in the top ten are Shai, Boyz II Men, TLC, and Madonna. The top movie is A Few Good Men, with Aladdin, The Bodyguard, and Leprechaun also in the top ten.
In the news, there are riots ongoing in Mumbai; they will last until the 20th, the same day as the (presumably unrelated) death of Audrey Hepburn. Tomorrow, Monday Night Raw, the longest-running WWE show, begins. At least from here, 22 years later, it seems like there’s not much going on in the news.
Fortunately, there’s plenty going on in BTAS. Most notable, perhaps, is the return of Harley Quinn. From here that doesn’t seem that strange: she’s a popular character who has fought Batman frequently in the DCAU, DC comics, and video games, other heroes occasionally, had starring roles in both comics of her own and as part of the Gotham City Sirens team book, and is pretty clearly being positioned by the marketing of the upcoming Suicide Squad film as its primary draw.
But most of that hadn’t happened yet when this episode was made. Harley Quinn was certainly marked already, as a rare instance of a named sidekick to an established villain and one of the most interesting and entertaining parts of “Joker’s Favor,” but as we have discussed before, a pattern doesn’t exist the first time it happens. It is here that she becomes a recurring character, and it is immediately obvious that the status is well-deserved. Her bits in the Joker’s commercials are very funny, from her chirpy imitation of a stereotypical 1950s sitcom housewife to her repeated aversion to fish. The best, though, are the two moments that show how skewed her emotional responses are: first, after the Joker lays out an elaborate death trap involving a shark tank, he then offers to make Harley a mermaid, providing her with a costume that looks like a fish from the waist up and has her legs sticking out the bottom. That, not the death trap, causes her to call the Joker “sick.” Then, at the end of the episode when the Joker is apparently dead, she responds to Harvey Bullock describing him as “a demented, abusive, psychotic maniac” with a heartfelt “Yeah, I’m really going to miss him.”
Part of that is down to Arleen Sorkin’s brilliant performance, which manages somehow to keep up with Mark Hamill’s tour de force as the Joker. That’s unsurprising, as writer Paul Dini created the role of Harley specifically for Sorkin to play (hence why her real first name, Harleen, shares the unusual ending of Sorkin’s, “een” rather than “ene”). But it’s also simply in the nature of Harley’s character: unlike the Joker, she is actually funny. Despite being just as willing to injure and kill, Harley Quinn still comes across as bubbly where the Joker is malicious, and her performance in this episode contains none of his menace.
It’s particularly noticeable in this episode, which makes a point of noting that the Joker isn’t funny. Batman says that the Joker’s motivations are incomprehensible, that they make sense only to him, and as the Joker will tell Harley in a later episode, “It’s not funny if you have to explain the joke.”
Which is not to say that the Joker’s motivations are anywhere near as opaque as Batman makes them out to be. The Joker is a force of anarchy; his role is to mock and disrupt the structures of power in our society, to expose them as grotesque jokes. This is 1993; there’s a recession happening, brought about by a decade of Reagonomics, which is to say a decade of unchecked capitalist excess and rampant greed. Thus the Joker creates his bizarre mockery of the process of creating, patenting, and marketing a new product.
First, it should be noted that the patent clerk is absolutely wrong: you can patent an organism in the United States, and have been able to since 1980, when the Supreme Court upheld an initially rejected patent on an oil-eating bacterium. At the same time, the patent clerk is right: the idea is intuitively absurd. The Joker’s stated intent, to demand royalties for all Joker fish sold, is qualitatively similar to the standard practice of agricultural companies to use patents to force farmers to buy new seed every year, instead of saving some seed from the harvest and planting that. Given that intention, however, it makes little business sense for him to advertise his fish, as the companies that normally distribute fish would have no choice but to carry his fish, and they would be the ones to handle the marketing. But then he wouldn’t be able to mock television commercials, which is the real point: to demonstrate the absurdity of the entire system.
And of course Batman doesn’t get it. Batman can’t get it; the Joker’s entire scheme is based on subverting the union of capitalist and state power that is intellectual property, while Batman could not exist without the capitalist power wielded by Bruce Wayne to buy his toys and hide his activities, nor could he exist without the state’s power to define law, and hence to define criminals and criminality. Batman is himself a union of capitalist and state power; of course he cannot comprehend their subversion!
But that’s precisely the tragedy of the Joker: Batman can never and will never get the joke. The Joker will never make Batman laugh, which is to say get Batman to recognize the absurdity of the power structures Batman serves. The Joker arranges massive spectacles, but his intended audience never understands the point he is trying to make, and so the spectacle inevitably turns back on itself, rendering the Joker the butt of his own jokes.
And even then, he isn’t as funny as Harley Quinn.

Current status of the Patreon:

  • Latest Near-Apocalypse article ($2+/mo patrons can view): A dose of reality (Terror in the Sky)
  • Latest video ($5+/mo patrons can view): Gravity Fall S1E14
  • Latest Milestone: $70/mo: Ongoing monthly re:play series!
  • Next Milestone: $100/mo: Monthly bonus vlog video. ($28 away)

re:play Episode 3: Final Fantasy VI Part 3: Mirrors and Generals

Made possible by the generous contributions to my Patreon! We’re monthly now!
As before, this is closed captioned. However, the captioning may not be complete until this afternoon.

As always, these videos don’t always display correctly on Tumblr, so those of you seeing this there please click through to to watch.

Captain's Log, Weekly Digest 45

A summary of the past week of posts to my in-character Star Trek Online Tumblr, chronicling the adventures of E.N. Morwen, a science-loving and thoughtful young woman trapped in a galaxy of warring space giants.

  • Trying Times: Morwen is court-martialed for her violations of the Prime Directive. (Original)
  • Press Gang: While making up her mind whether to retire, Morwen is forced to accompany President Okeg on a goodwill tour of Alizarin. (Original)
  • Guest Rights: Morwen leaves the Phoenix for good, and the Furlani depart Alizarin. (Original)
  • Putting Down Roots: The 53rd is reorganized and a vast new region is opened for exploration. (Original)
  • Closing the Circle: The Inverse goes on a covert mission for Temporal Investigations. (Original)

As the flag officer of a fleet or tactical group, Starfleet regulations also require Morwen to provide a Fleet Status Report briefly summarizing the current status and mission of all ships under her command, every Stardate that’s a multiple of 10.
I am still trying to get an RP-focused fleet together! Contact me in-game at Morwen@froborr if you’re interested.

Vlog Review: Gravity Falls S1E11

Reminder that Patreon backers can see these videos (including Gravity Falls, Star vs. the Forces of Darkness, and Rick and Morty) 4-5 weeks early AND Near-Apocalypse articles four MONTHS early!
Those of you who follow on Tumblr, for whatever reason the videos don’t play there. Click through to to watch.