Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Closing Down

This blog is now defunct; all future updates can be found at You should be automatically redirected; if not, the link preceding this should work.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Captain's Log, Weekly Digest 7

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.
  • Divide et Impera: In which Admiral Zelle is not what she seems.
  • Saturday's Child: In which STO decides that uncritically repeating some of the most problematic and racist elements of TOS is a good idea.
  • Preemptive Strike: In which the Watson slips in ahead of a Starfleet attack on the Rator System to rescue POWs.
  • Hunting the Hunters: In which the Watson away team falls into a trap while searching for missing scientists.
  • Project Nightingale: In which the Watson discovers a secret Romulan research project while attempting another rescue mission.
  • By Any Means: In which the Watson must stop the Romulan research project before they unleash something terrible.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Guest Post: Q. How many Lego bricks would it take to build a bridge capable of carrying traffic from London to New York? (The Lego Movie)

We finish off the run of guest posts with this piece from long-time commenter Sylocat on The Lego Movie.

The Near-Apocalypse of '09 launches next Sunday, February 1. If you'd like a taste of things to come, for a mere $2 a month donors to my Patreon can read up to 13 entries ahead of the public blog.

We got a master builder here!
One of the drawbacks of having a big amazing plot twist is that so many people will be talking about the Big Twist that the other points of the story sometimes get overlooked, including any little twists right before it. Paradoxically, the better the Big Twist is, the worse this problem becomes, even when the little twist is far more interesting.

And the Big Twist of The Lego Movie is good. Brilliant, in fact. It's also the most straightforward and least thematically-complex part of the movie. Oh, and one minor detail, the smaller twist is a bombshell that breaks down and inverts pretty much every single problem with Hollywood storytelling. So, why don't we talk about that for a while instead.


The concept of "Destiny," in fiction, has always been about keeping people in their allotted place.

Ancient dramas were geared around "destiny," because they were about challenging the fates and confronting the inevitability of death. Life was tough, random and mysterious back then, and it was considered hubris to strive for immortality, or even to step outside your station.

But now that we have a slightly greater understanding of how the world around us works (and slightly fewer things trying to kill us), we've stopped thinking so harshly of people who try to defy fate. Unfortunately, instead of ditching destiny as a plot device, it now just gets twisted around the other way. Now prophecies just tell the main character how awesome he (and it's almost always a he) is going to be, and just sits back and watches as everything goes according to the instructions, with all the pieces safely glued in place. Of course, destiny can also serve as the "Call to Adventure" checkbox on the Hero's Journey Checklist, with the bonus that the writers don't even need to spend any time developing character motivations (which is good, since writers want the main audience demographic of young straight white dudes to be able to project themselves onto the blank-slate character, so said character has to be utterly generic with motives as broad and unspecific as possible).

Fun fact: Joseph Campbell never wanted The Hero With a Thousand Faces to be a how-to guide for storytelling. It was an academic study of mythological anthropology, not an instruction manual. But when George Lucas credited it with helping him develop the pop culture phenomenon he spawned, every hack writer started xeroxing its diagrams, and grabbing every stock character and hackneyed plot device they could find, mass-producing them and assembling them together into a hodgepodge of said instruction booklet.

This is the danger of following instructions too closely: If the instructions you're working from don't apply to the pieces you have in front of you, they're not going to fit together. Unfortunately, common practice when faced with this dilemma is to either squeeze in or toss out any piece that isn't written there, then take whatever flimsy and hollow shell of a model you create, and call it a finished product. Then you act surprised when it falls apart.

You know, if the Star Wars prequel trilogy hadn't been so terrible, it could have been a brilliant deconstruction of the Chosen One/Destiny formula. Think about it: Anakin Skywalker is prophesied to be the one who destroys the Sith and brings balance to the Force... so all the good guys eagerly line up to fill out the standard stock-character roles as mentor figur(in)es and sidekicks, assuming that Anakin will follow the Joseph Campbell Checklist as faithfully as every other generic-white-dude protagonist. And then Anakin goes off-script, to put it mildly.

But that didn't work out, so now what we have is The Lego Movie.

The Lego Movie deliberately sets you up to think that it's playing right into this formula. Emmet, an ordinary guy voiced by yet another pretty white dude protagonist actor (also known as Star-Lord), is told he is The Special. The prophecy even lampshades itself:

One day, a talented lass or fellow,
A special one with face of yellow,
will make the Piece of Resistance found
from its hidden refuge underground.
And with a noble army at the helm,
This MasterBuilder will thwart the Kragle and save the realm,
And be the greatest, most interesting, most important person of all times.
All this is true, because it rhymes.

And the old white-bearded sage is even voiced by Morgan Freeman, which is just overkill (when I first saw the movie, I wondered why the last line of the prophecy wasn't just, "All this is true, because Morgan Freeman is saying it." But I suppose the audience would have felt too betrayed later on).

And in addition to telling generic White Guy Protagonist #(2.718 x 10^404e) that he is the greatest and most important person ever, the movie also brings in a Strong Female Character™ who introduces herself by kicking ungodly amounts of ass and building incredible and unique things in the blink of an eye, building her up as this omnicompetent take-no-crap badass. Of course, she becomes jealous when she learns that she wasn't the Special, but hey, you know how this will go, don't you? She just has to learn to accept that Emmet's the hero and her role is to be the sidekick and love interest and probably damsel-in-distress too at some point. The movie even pokes some fun at her taking the name "WyldStyle" because it sounds badass. She's just one of the pieces in a rebellious phase who needs to be settled into where she's supposed to be, amirite guys?

The movie does drop hints that all is not as it seems. The robot henchmen complain that they can't track Emmet by facial recognition because his face is so generic it matches every other face in the corporate database (gee, possibly because so many movies are about characters who look like him?), and Emmet's coworkers crack jokes about what a "Blank Slate" he is. And as a bonus, when Batman shows up, he provides a much-needed kick to the 90's-comics grim-and-gritty aesthetic that DC's movies have been mired in since 2005 (the trailer for every new Batman film or video game for the next half decade is going to have to endure a barrage of YouTube videos syncing it to the chorus of, "DAAARRRKNEEESSS! NOOOOOO PARRRENTS!").

But hey, this is probably just some cute little dodging of the issue, right? Like, if you acknowledge beforehand that something is bad, it mitigates it. Just like how the villain is named "Lord Business" even though the movie is financed and published and marketed and based on a franchise made, from start to finish, by people who doubtlessly epitomize that very archetype. Capitalism selling anti-Capitalism. The revolution has already been televised, and merchandised, and it's on sale for $19.95 at your local Hot Topic.

The movie even tells us to mock the bad sitcom, sports fandoms, soulless chain restaurants, pop music, and all those other safe targets (such as the bedtimes and babysitters that Princess Unikitty so vocally eschews) that mass-market counterculture prints instructions for the younger audiences to laugh at... but of course the movie would never dare to question the deeper underlying instructions behind those, right?

Just look at the merchandising for this movie. The whole story is about breaking free from the instructions and building your own ideas, and the LEGO manufacturers are selling piece sets of every supposedly "hodgepodge" set and vehicle from the film, and enclosing instructions on how to build things exactly like all the other nonconformists build.

But the movie doesn't follow those instructions either. Lord and Miller go off-script.

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are rapidly gaining a reputation as "the guys you call when you have a really bad idea for a movie and want it to be really good." They have taken on a number of seemingly-impossible tasks, like adapting Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs to the big-screen, and 21 Jump Street (and even worse, making a sequel to a movie like 21 Jump Street), and the things they've built from those hodgepodge pieces have ranged from pretty good to amazing. And here, they're tasked with making a movie out of LEGO, a brand so ubiquitous with its cheap tie-ins that, when Warner Bros. landed the distribution rights, they tossed in the LEGO tie-ins of every media franchise they had the rights to, from the aforementioned DC Comics, to Harry Potter to Lord of the Rings to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles right down to the friggin' 2002 NBA All-Stars. And the problem is, most if not all of LEGO's "original" toy lines are thinly veiled ripoffs of all that stuff to begin with. In other words, the painfully obvious thing to do when building a LEGO Movie would be to just fill out the Joseph Campbell Checklist and call it a day.

So how do they make a good movie when those are all the pieces they have to work with? Simple: instead of just sprinkling in some cutesy self-aware jokes about how absurd this all is, they actually confront it. They actually address and take apart the underlying assumptions behind the very idea of a LEGO® movie, and moreover, behind the storytelling techniques that every film in this genre more or less has to use.

So the old magic wizard reveals that he made the prophecy up.

The generic-white-dude hero wasn't special because destiny said so, he was special because he was told he was, just like "Destiny™" in every bad movie tells him he is. Which means that the only thing stopping everyone else from being special is that they haven't yet been told they can be.

And thus the desecrated carcass of the Hero's Journey is finally exposed for the fraud that it is. Problems aren't solved by sitting around waiting for one person whose life story looks vaguely like the xeroxed instructions from that Joseph Campbell picturebook. They're not solved by taking one specific subclass of people and telling them that they were made to be heroes and warriors, while everyone else is just there to fill stock roles or occasionally look awed in the background of crowd scenes.

Our culture tells everyone who doesn't look like Emmet that they were manufactured to be sidekicks or love interests or villains or one-off joke characters... and that's wrong. Everyone can be a MasterBuilder just as easily. In fact, it's only when Emmet realizes this, when he understands that his specialness doesn't come from his being the Designated Protagonist but because that same specialness is in everyone, that he becomes able to build awesome things.

In case this was too subtle, WyldStyle looks out of the movie screen and spells it out directly to the audience.

"Hi everybody. You don't know me, but I'm on TV, so you can trust me."

During the first climax, which unfortunately got overshadowed by the Big Twist, WyldStyle and crew storm the set of a bad sitcom, hack into the network, and broadcast a speech onto every screen in the cosmos (or every herald's scroll, or whatever).

She reaches out to all the other people out there, the people whose faces don't match every other face in the corporate database, and tells them to build things that only they can build. Weird things, silly things, useful things, useless things, stupid things, brilliant things, and things that are all of those at once and more. To express themselves, to tell their own stories in their own worlds. And while they're at it, to tear down the orderly and prepackaged world around them and build something new in its place. Something strange, something risky... heck, maybe something so dumb and bad that no one would ever believe they could possibly be useful.

And whaddya know... their horrible ideas work as well as Emmet's did. When the big dumb (white) guy in the business suit comes to tear down all their creativity and shove everyone back into their allotted place, it's not anything Emmett built that give him pause. It's the funny-looking people's funny-looking creations, in all their clunky glory.

There are some parallels here with MLP:FiM, of course. Some truly great and sadly-overlooked art is made when creative people take prepackaged brands and sneak subversivity (and diversity… should that be "subdiversity?" I suppose that works, language is constructed by putting pieces together like that) past the studio bosses. Lauren Faust took a property designed to sell tea party playsets and plastic diamond tiaras to little girls, and turned it into one of the greatest feminist works of the 21st century. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller took LEGO, one of the biggest sellout brands ever, not to mention being contracted by Warner Bros. (a famously retrograde studio even by Hollywood standards), and made a movie that passes a set of revolutionary instructions to all the members of its audience who don't look like Chris Pratt... or like Jason Sand, despite his wonderful performance as the Small Creature who teaches the moral to the Man Upstairs.

Of course, the Small Creature doesn't quite know its own lesson yet. Witness its horrified, "What?" when the Even Smaller Creature's arrival is forecasted. And on a meta level, the voices of the Monsters from Planet Duplo sound exactly like that of the Even Smaller Creature, rather than the more diverse voice cast that the Small Creature imbues its own creations with.

Gee, I wonder what the sequel will be about.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Escaflowne Episode 9 Liveblog Chat Thingy!

As predicted, I am not going to be able to make this due to being at MAGFest. I will catch up by next weekend, though, I promise!

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 Vision of Escaflowne and commenting there starting at 2:00 p.m. EST.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Video Vednesday: Vlog Review: The Legend of Korra S4E7 "The Reunion"

Sorry this is late everyone. Turns out it's not actually possible to upload a video to YouTube on a shitty Starbucks public connection in the course of a single half-hour lunch break. Lesson learned.

In which I talk about genocidal pie fights. I mean, a bunch of other things, too, but let's face it, you can't talk about genocidal pie fights and expect anyone to remember anything else you said.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Captain's Log, Weekly Digest 6

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.
  • The Lost City of Paradise:  The crew of the Kestrel meet their contact on Nimbus and get their first taste of the "delights" the planet has in store. Also there's a Borg tending bar, that's kind of interesting.
  • Blind Men Tell All Tales:  Morwen and crew hunt for the Orion stronghold on Nimbus III.
  • The Undying: The Kestrel crew confront the leader of the Orions on Nimbus III.
  • A Fistful of Gorn: Morwen's team run a gauntlet of Gorn separatists en route to the Tal Shiar base.
  • Installation 18: Inside the base, we finally learn the secrets of the Romulan presence on Nimbus III.
  • [Promotion]: Captain: Morwen is promoted and transferred to a new ship, the Galaxy-class USS Starfire.
  • Heading Out: The Starfire transports a Trill scientist to the Romulan border.
  • Under the Cover of Night: A Starfleet intelligence analyst intends to defect to the Romulans.
  • Minefield: Morwen works with an arrogant scientist on a plan to make the Federation's jump gates transwarp conduits more secure.
  • Divide et Impera: The Starfire gets a massive overhaul and is rechristened the Watson, and assigned to serve as Admiral Zelle's flagship for a mission on the Romulan border.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

I’ll bet everyone thinks I’m useless, and they’re mad at me for messing things up! (The Glass Princess)

This week's guest post is by the inimitable Spoilers Below, who was provided quite a few over the past couple of years. This is the next, and possibly last, entry in their study of the original My Little Pony cartoon.

The Letter: Dear Princess Celestia,

Being kidnapped is terrible! Why does it happen so often? I don’t understand the absurdity of the act. They take us, we escape, their dwelling is destroyed. Do we not have a dangerous reputation now? Must they continually smash themselves up against our walls until they learn, until they are transformed into friends? Or is it that we kidnap them, with our kindness, transforming them into things like ourselves, until they can no longer see themselves anymore, can see only us when they look into a pool of water or a pane of clean glass? Again and again, over and over, the script plays out. And again and again, we drive them away or we convert them to our cause. If they just want to be friends, why must they tug on our manes and throw stones? Why don’t they just ask?

As always, I remain your faithful student,


What is it? A four-parter about Shady and her friends getting stolen from the pony olympics, getting their manes shaved, and breaking free.

Is this episode worth watching? Nah, this is one to skip. It’s overlong, with bad singing, a cliche plot ripped from 101 Dalmatians, and is mostly a retread of the same thing we’ve seen in the past few adventures.

How was this entry written? Some of these parts were written entirely on 20-year-old memories of the episodes, the others directly after watching all four parts, with only minimal editing for spelling, grammar, and the weather reports, titles, etc. recorded afterwards. Can you guess which are which?

What else was happening? 6-9 Oct 1986 - Phantom of the Opera debuts in London, a musical all about masks and lies and dark reflections. Bernard Kalb resigns his post as State Department spokesman, citing his dissatisfaction with the Reagan administration’s misinformation campaign and its repeated attempts to deceive news organizations about Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi . “'Anything that hurts America's credibility hurts America,” he tells the New York Times. And, fittingly, the Waterford Glass Group of Ireland offers to purchase Wedgwood P.L.C., the 227-year-old maker of fine china, for approximately $360 million.

0 As I write this, it is a pleasant 70 degree day outside, and I am wearing shorts and a t-shirt in front of the computer. Tomorrow the temperature is scheduled to drop to at least 30 or lower.

1 Reflections can be a dangerous things. Mirrors are something that we instinctively distrust, because they show us the opposite of the world: letters are backwards, the world is reversed, even our motions themselves are incorrect--as anyone who has tried to adjust something on their face, only to find that they simply can’t use the mirror image as a reference will understand. But a reflection isn’t actually the opposite, is it? It doesn’t show the world as a film negative does, for example. Good doesn’t become evil, it becomes dooG. They show us what to avoid, what to correct, what to change. And one could never actually pass through a mirror, of course, even if it were a porous surface, because one’s reflection would always be in the way.

2 One of the things about post-modern approaches to art is that the work itself begins to function as a Rorschach blot: one can only find within it what one is aware of. Whenever I think of sunglasses, both the mirrored kind and the pony, I think of the terribly evocative opening of J.M. Coetzee’s powerful and disturbing novel Waiting for the Barbarians (1980):
I HAVE NEVER SEEN anything like it: two little discs of glass suspended in front of his eyes in loops of wire. Is he blind? I could understand it if he wanted to hide blind eyes. But he is not blind. The discs are dark, they look opaque from the outside, but he can see through them. He tells me they are a new invention. "They protect one's eyes against the glare of the sun," he says. "You would find them useful out here in the desert. They save one from squinting all the time. One has fewer headaches. Look." He touches the corners of his eyes lightly. "No wrinkles." He replaces the glasses. It is true. He has the skin of a younger man. "At home everyone wears them."
Said novel is all about self-doubt and the self-loathing experienced by the colonial magistrate who finds himself powerless to stop the brutal torture and execution of the indigenous locals by a military commander who is posted there to subdue a suspected “native uprising” (it is about much more than that, but this description will do for our purposes). It is of course mere coincidence that Shady’s name recalls the glasses which recall the book which recall the feelings which recall Shady’s feelings. (They also recall the description of a glasses-wearing party official in 1984.) Though the timeframe isn’t impossible (the book was published in 1980, the episode is from 1986), it is certainly unlikely that the story’s authors had the novel or colonialism in mind when they wrote a children’s TV episode about three ponies being kidnapped and exploited for their “natural resources”, which would result in a dramatic transformation of their indigenous land.

3 Self-reflection can be a wonderful thing. “Know thyself” is rightfully enthroned as one of the pillars of philosophy, as without understanding the self and what makes you you, it can be difficult to map your experiences onto others experiences, to show empathy, or to think about how you’ve changed and what ways you’d like to be in the future. Without reflecting on the self, we could never grow, never learn, never improve. And if we cannot take care of ourselves, how can we be expected to take care of others?

4 Imitation of what’s on the TV screen can prove dangerous. Supposedly, a lot of children cut their pony’s hair after watching these episodes, believing that their manes would magically grow back just as they did on the program. Behind the glass, the projected CRT world lied: the television cannot make the laws of the world change. A plastic toy isn’t the magical creature it is in your mind.

5 Self-confidence is the most fragile thing in the world. Is it strange what damages it. One can be the toughest, most self-assured, utterly resolute individual, and the wrong feather blown against you on the wrong day can bring it all tumbling down. What we build our confidence on matters, therefore. Some decide to place it in other people, some in objects, some in themselves. But other people will let you down, betray you, abandon you, or will simply have their own lives to live and can’t be there when you need them. Can you rely on them to get you what you want? Objects are fleeting, temporary; how does one know that one has enough? How can one compare one’s possessions to another person’s? Is an ancient crown worth the same as a priceless cape made of magical pony hair? How about a magical rainbow? And as for yourself, well, you’re scary, aren’t you? Who knows you better than yourself? It’s so difficult to look at yourself and say “I love you. You’re worth it. You’re a good person, and you deserve to keep going and be happy” that it’s little wonder people turn to others and to objects rather than do it themselves.

5 Self-esteem is at once the most important and most overrated concept in the world. The degree of self-examination we do these days can be terribly damaging. While sometimes it is good to ask questions, to reevaluate the situation, to question our first principles and make sure we are still on the right course, constantly checking and rechecking inevitably leads to self-doubt: “What if someone out there is having more fun?” “What if I’d be happier doing something else?” “What if I’d be happier with that those people have?” The ability to make yourself happy with what you have right now, to live contentedly in the situation you are in, without falling into despair and giving up all hope for the future, is a delicate and difficult balance to strike.

4 Imitation of what’s on the TV screen can prove beneficial. One can get an interesting read of what is and isn’t acceptable in society based on what’s being watched by its people. And in a very real sense, the positive portrayal of a character like William Truman can do more to alter societal views than any amount of publishing or activism. Behind the glass, the projected world shapes the real one: the television can make the laws of the world change. Take Porcina’s treatment of the ponies as real, once she encounters them in person, after watching them through her mirror. She can’t bring herself to hurt real things. Even a vain, selfish, isolated and disconnected person can learn the rules and learn empathy.

3 Reflections are wonderful. They are the closest thing we'll ever get to seeing ourselves from the outside. One can never see the back of one’s head, one’s shoulder blades, one’s chin.

Mirrors are a brilliant tool for safety, for science, for beauty. And they allow us to multiply light, turning a small candle flame into a room filling blaze.

2 One of the things about post-modern approaches to art is that the criticism usually begins to diverge from a discussion of the work itself to a discussion of other topics, minor details, the historical context, the author’s life, and even postmodernism itself. Said context can be important for establishing how and why a work is the way it is. For example, Sakura Trick can be enjoyed by itself, but knowing that it comes from a tradition of Japanese schoolgirl 4-panel comics (a pretty direct line from Azumanga Daioh through Lucky Star and K-ON!; Sakura Trick is in some readings the logical conclusion of said shows) enhances our understanding of why certain characters act the way they act, why situations are the way they are, why set-ups and beats are paced that way... By making the off-screen implied shipping of the previous series explicit, Sakura Trick refuses to indulge in any of the sly games or fantasies that the other series did. And yet, by doing so in the context of a decidedly non-explicit 4-panel gag strip, rather than a romance comic, it paradoxically manages to come off as far more realistic than its counterparts in either of the two traditions it emerges from. Lest you think I am being weird by bringing up seinen shoujo-ai manga up, can you think of any other form of media which is utterly dominated by female characters (Sakura Trick features zero prominent male characters) with self-esteem problems resolved through the power of friendship, consumed by young men? Perhaps the appeal of My Little Pony amongst male viewers isn’t so strange after all. They’ve been watching programs about young women for years and years, but no one bothers to talk much about it seriously.

1 Self-reflection can be a dangerous thing. While “Know Thyself” may be rightly understood as one of the foundational principals of all philosophy, too much time spent in the self and the “interior world” will almost inevitably lead to depression and insecurity. No one can focus on themselves for too long without seeing all their faults, all their imperfections, all their flaws magnified. The mirror shows us a bad world, a world that we rightfully keep on the other side of the glass. One can never actually pass through a mirror, of course, even if it were a porous surface, because your reflection would always be in the way. Best to keep it there.

0 As I write this, it is a chilly 20 degree evening outside and I am bundled up in front of the computer under a blanket. Yesterday it was a pleasant 70 degree day. Who knows what the weather will be like tomorrow?

What else was happening? 6-9 Oct 1986 - The Waterford Glass Group of Ireland offers to purchase Wedgwood P.L.C., the 227-year-old maker of fine china, for approximately $360 million. Bernard Kalb resigns his post as State Department spokesman, citing his dissatisfaction with the Reagan administration’s misinformation campaign and its repeated attempts to deceive news organizations about Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi . ''Anything that hurts America's credibility hurts America,” he tells the New York Times. And, fittingly, Phantom of the Opera, a musical all about masks and lies and dark reflections, debuts in London.

How was this entry written? Some of these halves were written directly after watching all 4 parts, the others entirely on 20 years old memories of the episodes, with only minimal editing for spelling, grammar, and the weather report performed afterwards. Can you guess which are which?

Is this episode worth watching? Totally! As a meditation on the nature of duality, the fragility of self-esteem, and the need for friendship, this is another solid entry in the canon.

What is it? A four parter about Shady being depressed about not being able to contribute to the community, and rescuing her friends kidnapped by an evil princess, thereby getting her confidence back.

The Letter: Dear Princess Celestia,

I was thinking about coins today. We toss a coin to determine which side goes first in sport, because that’s the most fair way. It’s random, which of the two sides will come up. But at what point, though, does one side of the coin become the other? A coin really has three sides, not two, counting the edge. Or five if you count the lip between rim and face. Or hundreds, if the side is ridged... those are the sides that do not matter, perhaps? And why must we compete with one another? Striving in friendship towards mutual improvement is among the most pleasurable of things, but the darkness lurking beneath it, the spectre of hatred, jealousy, and weakness that haunts, begging to be let out, is ever present.

As always, I remain your faithful student,

Twilight Sparkle

Shady, it’s not your fault. No one in the world is perfect. It’s time you saw the light. (The Glass Princess)

Addendum: Self-Reflection

So, the blog comes to an end. It’s unlikely that Jed will ever write about ponies again, and therefore unlikely that he’ll need guest entries of this nature. Knowing myself, any attempt to take over would proceed in fits and spurts before flaming out completely; I simply don’t have the stamina for a weekly schedule of posting. And is there even an audience for the classic show? It was a niche of a niche to begin with. Was anyone enjoying the look back at the origins of the show? Were there any old fans in my position, enjoying the continuity from yesterday to today? Is this really the end? Who knows. Perhaps, perhaps not. Jed’s pony posting was something I looked forward to on Sundays, even if I didn’t have any comments to add.

This entry itself brought about its own synchronicities. I had an infected kidney, one of the few mirrored organs in the body, which had to be fixed with two surgeries, which required the delay of writing this entry by weeks. I lost some weight as a result while convalescing, but I still recognize myself in the mirror. It’s interesting, having no choice but to slow down and do nothing. It’s not something I’m used to. I wrote nothing for three weeks straight, after two years of nightly activity. It’s not pleasant, being forced to do things against your will like that, but the body isn’t something which can be persuaded or bribed or argued into compliance. Physical reality isn’t the ideal world. But that level of anger is hard to maintain, especially when its so utterly futile. When there is nothing to do but lay and heal, you learn to lay and heal. The world didn’t change very much without me participating in it. You’d think more would have happened, at least on the microscale, with my being out of it for so long, but not much did, certainly not in the grand scheme of things. One of the odd things about following the world closely is the idea that you can predict what will happen next, that by being well informed, you can somehow control or shape the world around you. But it’s not really like that. The world moves of its own accord, and is simply waiting there for you to rejoin it once you’re through convalescing. I watched more TV in the past few weeks than I have in years.

It’s a TV show I came to incidentally, Friendship is Magic, catching a random episode (“Friendship is Magic, Part 2”) while flipping through channels at my fiance’s house over lunch. I binge-watched the series on Netflix a year or so later. I loved the old show as a child, and it was interesting to see the new show be of such high quality. That the protagonist was a librarian displaying a number of OCD traits further inclined me to like it; it’s rare to encounter a protagonist so much like myself. They’re usually bookish caricatures, or hand washing jokes, certainly not main characters.

I was late to the brony phenomenon, and honestly, it still baffles me to a certain degree, as I have almost zero direct connection to it. I’ve never interacted with one in person: the closest I’ve come is watching a young man awkwardly hit on a young woman by explaining that he’s a brony, but that the older show sucked compared to the new show. She smiled and nodded politely and kept browsing in the manga section, not engaging. I wasn’t going to step in and explain all the details he was getting wrong, because what would be weirder than the librarian who is twice their age inserting himself into the conversation with his bizarrely extensive knowledge about a 28 year old children’s TV show? (In my defense, I had literally watched “Rescue at Midnight Castle” the evening before.) No, that’s a level of awkward that I simply could not manage. As The Onion article mocks, I Appreciate The Muppets On A Much Deeper Level Than You. I also once stood in line behind a woman at the local gaming store who purchased a set of My Little Pony card sleeves: she was very friendly, and had participated in the same costume contest as my wife and I earlier that day. None of us talked about ponies.

Toy collectors, on the other hand, I know a bunch of them. They seem just as baffled and pleasantly amused. For them, they’re happy to have new ponies to add to their collections. The show, they could take or leave, just as they did with all the previous incarnations of the show.

To those who were enjoying, I’m happy that I could share my thoughts and ideas with you. To those who were annoyed by these jaunts into the past and interruptions in the usual schedule, no worries, I’ll probably never trouble you again.

Take care of one another, and please be good. Perhaps we’ll see one another some day, when the ponies find a gigantic puppy, and deal with the consequences.