Long reviews of some short stories

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Well my big bang challenge fic finally posted and episode 5 is off to one of my editors. (note: if you’re also one of my editors and you’re wondering why you didn’t get 105, don’t worry, it’s actually not even to the point of “rough draft” at the moment so we’re kind of doing some fixing before I bother the rest of you – trust me, nobody should read what it is at the moment)

So I got to read a lot of short stories recently.  Most of them by John C Wright. 

Spoiler free:

Awake in the Night Lands – Setting that makes Lovecraft look like Holiday World theme park.  Recommended for those with sturdy constitutions, this isn’t for the light sleeper.  Just make sure you read every story in a single sitting.

Opera Vita Aeterna – Not bad.  Easiest way to sum up: did you ever see the movie the Book of Eli?  However you felt about that movie is going to be a good indicator of how you’ll feel about this story.  Apparently it’s part of a larger literary setting which may affect your enjoyment.  If you don’t care much for medieval style fantasy, avoid.  If you love that style fantasy but feel it’s played out and overly cliche, you may want to give this a try.

City Beyond Time – Unless you really, REALLY hate time travel in stories, get this, read it.

One Bright Star to Guide Them – A fun tale.  VERY much recommended for fans of CS Lewis.

Spoiler talk will resume below.

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SPOILERS!

Awake in the Night Lands – It’s literally published fan fiction and I have to admire this fan community that grown up around this old novel.  It’s pretty awesome how the fans have kept this work alive and expanded it.

I really did enjoy this series more than I first thought I would.  It takes you to whole other world and challenges you in ways unexpected.  Heck in my opinion almost everybody should get their toes stepped on a little.  Example: in a state of constant war and near extinction, it would be hard for “the Right” to make a case for free markets in this land.  Likewise for “the Left” this seems to be a world with no room for equality or sexual deviancy.  I mean this is an apocalyptic scenario like few others (zombies, nuclear, whatever) and makes you really wonder what would society be like in such a state?  What SHOULD such a society be like?  It makes the mind wonder…

First story is a great gateway drug to the world, heck I’m tinkering with a spec script because it’s just begging for a big screen adaption. (Hey, Hollywood needs some new sequel properties doesn’t it?) 

Second story ended up being my favorite because it subverted my expectations on two accounts.  The first is that the “smartass rebels” didn’t get away with insanity.  See, there is a habit in stories that those who buck tradition are always right.  And I get it, I’m American so I’m very sympathetic to bucking tradition (as they say, slavery was once a tradition – thank goodness it no longer is).  The problem is that stories have turned now from the motif of “it’s right because it’s tradition” to “it’s wrong because it’s tradition”.  Both views are wrong and I do grow tired of creators using that “bucking the trend” as story shorthand for the protagonist.  Traditions and rules exist for a reason and if a character is going to break them, then there has to be compelling reasons within the story that show the audience why either this one instance is an exception to following said rules, or the flaw in the original reasoning that demands the whole thing be struck down.  In this story we see a demonstration that there are very good reasons for the rules and traditions that exist and they should be maintained.  The second thing I was actually surprised about was that the main character – a female! – was actually allowed to be flawed and wrong.  Similar to the above there’s also a running motif that “doing the right thing” should get a person off any punishment scott free.  Partially related to the above, that’s not strictly the case (though the discussion of it probably deserves it’s own essay).  Of course authors almost always rather reward their protagonists rather than punish them so I’m not unsympathetic to the tendency, but you make the protagonist a girl?  Then they’re likely to escape any consequences! (probably because authors are paranoid about being labeled sexist)  It is then with some irony that many of these female characters end up becoming as shallow and 2D as any previous caricature.  Even though at times I found the protagonist of this story grating, in the end I liked her far more because she was more real, flawed, and (more importantly) she had an arc and grew out of those flaws.

Third story I wanted to like more.  I would have preferred less action in it and more discussion about (as mentioned above there) how society can/should be in this world and whether survival trumps all or if there are more important things.

Fourth story… I need to reread.  My fault in that I didn’t go through it all in one sitting and really, you HAVE to on this one.  No, even if your house is on fire, you sit there and finish this story (you’ll at least have plenty of light to read by).

Opera Vita Aeterna – Ok, one problem I had with this story is that I read it immediately following the previous story collection. (hence it’s order and I picked it up because it was free)  Going from JC Wright’s Night Lands to this is rather like going from the finest steak meal you can imagine to a Wendy’s frosty.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Wendy’s frosties, but the taste and level of filling is very different.

Confession time: For a few years I subscribed to Realms of Fantasy (which I actually quite liked).  If you were to hold up the picture that accompanied every short story in the magazine, I could probably give you a decent summation of said story (because I have a semi-freakish ability to retain almost anything I’ve read).  If however you asked me to NAME any story (or summarize it) off the top of my head from that mag, that number would be less.  The most common feature of the stories I could name?  Religion. (even one or two that were INCREDIBLY insulting towards it)

Now it’s always been a bit odd that religion is left out of so many stories (though I can understand it from a business perspective), particularly stories that often describe odd details about the characters to add realism to them (especially something like that person burping or farting).  This is a big feature of a lot of people’s lives and it is weird that it is so rarely touched on (unless you assume there’s an atheist requirement to be an author) though I’ll admit I’d rather it not done at all than done poorly (which is why some topics and things I avoid in my own works since I’m not confident yet in my ability to do them justice).  However, that’s for generally modern day set fiction.  If a story is set in a medieval style period, then it gets REALLY weird for religion to not be present.  I’ll admit it’s very hard for any of us to conceptualize just what religion was like back during the middle ages of… actually most of the world (not just Europe).  The closest approximation would be to the internet today – so every time you read a medieval style story without religion in it is rather like reading a story set in modern day times (2000+ AD) that has no internet in it: kind of weird.

So I did appreciate this story placing religion where it belongs in a medieval style fantasy.  Though I was thrown off by this faith being a carbon copy of Catholicism with a few names changed to protect the innocent.  One of my favorite features of Narnia was the demonstration that a different world would have a different divine incarnation within it (world of beasts == God as beast).  The concept of humans sharing a world with other sapient species is one I adore (and am working on in another top secret work) but it does make the mind wonder why/how the Church ended up exactly like it did in our world.  As I said above, this story is apparently a smaller part of a larger whole so maybe some of those answers await elsewhere but I’m still on the fence of how well this story worked as an introduction to the world.  Had the differences been a little sharper I think I would have been intrigued enough to seek out more about this world to learn where and how things altered, but as it stands the similarities were so numerous I gained little interest in the world.  If however you’re a hardcore religious nerd (especially a geek for Catholic trivia) you will probably enjoy this a lot more and catch the probably more numerous differences that those of us less knowledgeable missed.  (I for one wanted more discussions on how magical spells and religious rites are similar or different.)

The story itself… well I LOVED the Book of Eli and quite enjoyed this story too though a few moments and motivations that the climax ultimately turns on I thought could be better fleshed out.  Oh right this is spoiler discussion.  WTF with the demon?  Yes I know I’m partially jaded because of all the Supernatural I’ve had to deal with lately but why it was so attached to the elf and why the monastery didn’t feel the need to ward off the bastard I didn’t grasp.  Again, might be elsewhere in another story, but since so much of this tale turns on these two factors it ends up counting against it.  All in all I don’t regret reading this story, it was enjoyable enough, but it didn’t grab me like any of these others.  Now the story of those missionaries going to the elves…

City Beyond Time – What can I say?  I love time travel and a collection of stories examining the morality of it rather than the usual questions tickled my fancy.  I think the choice of order for the stories was… debatable (but then when it comes to time, what events aren’t?).  Stories like the one about dad’s monument get kind of weird after you’ve read the tale at the beginning about how the city is fading.  I mean is the ending supposed to be hopeful or sadly tragic?

Slayer of Souls BARELY fits into the theme of this collection, but is so freakin freaky, unnerving and awesome, it’s impossible to complain.  I’ve talked about one of the stories before, I stand by what I said, and there’s not a lot to add past that.

One Bright Star to Guide Them – Here’s a fun game for the extremely nerdy.  Grab a copy of this story, get your favorite drinks, and then have a game where you see who can spot the most tributes to CS Lewis in this story (it might be even more fun as you all argue over whether this name or that scene are a tribute to Lewis or not – such is fun for the geek).  I’m a big CS Lewis fan (if for his writing ability and style if nothing else) so I got a big kick out of this story.

I admit I was surprised that there was no “twist” to the story.  Having read enough short fiction in the last few years, there almost always has to be some kind of “twist” come up at the end.  So through the whole story I kept waiting… ‘Tybalt will be the villain’ or ‘They’ll hint that Tommy might be mad and all this might be in his head and he’s killed innocent people the last few days’ were the two that most commonly ran through my mind.  And then… no.  None of that happened.  What does it say about the modern state of stories that the biggest twist to them nowadays is NO twist?  Honestly I didn’t expect a straight story.

What else to say… a lot of things I was going to discuss when reading ended up having the story itself pointing out by the end so I feel not a lot to say without quoting some passages verbatim.  I will say this: It’s a very common piece of advice to storytellers to “show don’t tell”.  Now in movies and TV and other media of that type the implication is obvious.  In writing (and radio) that’s… a bit harder advice to grasp since, on some level, isn’t everything you’re doing telling?

In this story Mr Wright apparently took that rule and said “Challenge Accepted” and decided to do a story that consisted almost ENTIRELY of telling.  In fact you could adapt this story as a stage play or independent film VERY easily (no really, I’d love to get a local acting troupe here to perform this story).  I have to admit though that this author pulled it off dagnabbit.  At the least I would recommend this story to classes to help writers grasp what is the difference between showing and telling and – if you must – how to make even telling exciting.  Whatever else you might say about the tale, the author deserves a slow clap for that.

Hmm… now how to get this into a movie on YouTube…

H-Day

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My entry for the 2014 J2 Big Bang challenge:

Supernatural: H-Day.

Thanks much to the very talented neigeausoleil for her awesome artwork on this (seriously loved that art, it makes me tear up a little every time I look at it).

Background: Yeah a lot of this was a reaction to some of my bigger annoyances with season 9.  Fun fact, I wrote most of this when the season was just a little over half done so feel free to laugh at some canon points I ended up predicting and some that were broken by the show.

I also like to think that if we were to ever get a big-budget movie for the show, this is what we would get.  The rest I won’t spoil just… enjoy.

(also a BIG thanks to my lovely editor & fellow writer at the Winchester Family Business, nightsky for helping me edit this)

the Whole Truth this Time

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Please, come in.  Have a seat.  Oh don’t mind this, it’s fake.  I find that holding cigarettes encourages others to believe me.

You’re here because you think you woke up; that you can see the way things really are.  Don’t be silly.  Do you know what the most effective lies are?  The ones closest to the truth.  If I told you there were no bombs in here, you might be suspicious.  But if I tell you there are four bombs in here, you’ll think you’re safe after you’ve found them, even though there are actually five.

I’m kidding, there’s no bombs in here, that was just a metaphor.  Hopefully you now understand how you’re always lied to: told just enough truth to keep you from being a threat.  Yes, I know what you’re thinking before you even say it.  The conspiracy theories are true.  All of them.  Except they’re all wrong too.

Stop.  Remember the previous lesson.  Those groups and organizations… those are just the proxies, the “four bombs” to keep you from finding the fifth.  Look deeper.  Look wider.

No not aliens.  Time travelers.

Stop.  You’re over thinking it again.  Don’t lie, I can see it in your eyes.  They don’t travel that far back.  Why?  Like crossing distance in space, the more distance you cross in time, the more energy it takes.  Also nobody wants to touch any history poorly recorded; not even to research it for a proper record.  If you want to mess with time, you do it very carefully.

Yes, all of them.  Yes, the moon landing was faked the first time, until World War 4 became bad enough that travelers had to go back and tweak a few things for it to succeed.  Like a calculation here, or an inspiration of chemical engineering there.  Trust me, you want the history where Buzz Aldrin is still around to punch you.

Actually… Kennedy isn’t exactly a conspiracy, more like a drunken prank some travelers pulled that’s being cleaned up the best anybody can.

No no.  You’re thinking too small.  Remember that lies are most effective showing you only a partial truth.

Take global warming.

Yeah, I haven’t heard that joke before.  You’ve heard that skeptics of it are corporate stooges.  That’s right, but which corporation?

See, you believe “oil companies” and your mind accepts the lie.  The real answer you’ll never believe: Disney.

No, not today’s, tomorrow’s.  Oh yes they’re still around down the road.  See in a few more decades they’ll finally be able to accomplish what they’re trying to do at this moment: create the ultimate family theme park.  Now think a moment, what would you need to make the best, most ultimate theme park ever?  One word: Dinosaurs.

Of course something went wrong, but never in an entertaining, big-blockbuster way.  They’ll all die, because the world’s much colder than they prefer.  So you hire a few travelers to help an inventor here, pass an idea there… few decades later and you’ve got a future warm enough to host childhood dreams.

Oh the oil companies were invented from the beginning for this.  The technology they create, digging they do, and research they’ll develop all will play great roles in bringing those big guys to life.

Stop worrying.  You’ve got fifteen, maybe twenty years at most before the global cold snap.  Yes, that will also be the work of travelers.  Like all fads dinosaur-mania will pass and then the life from the ice age will be ‘in’.  Also we’ll need to bring glaciers down on Canada before their domination plot comes to fruition.  If you can excuse the pun, the timing on everything should work out perfectly.

What?  Of course the idea sounds silly.  The best defense is to be ignored.  You laugh at them at your peril.

Well it’s getting late, I should be going home.  No, we will not speak together again.

Yes, there are more out there, but I won’t tell you of them.

That isn’t the worst of it, you know.  Remember the metaphor?  If I told you about that fifth bomb, would you sleep easier after finding it?  Or would you always wonder if there was a sixth waiting for you?

You’ll seek answers, and you’ll find them, but you’ll always wonder if there’s more.  You could seek out others but how will you know what they are?  Are they completely honest or telling you another partial truth?  Will you fight the travelers?  Let people know about them?  Who could believe your words?  Some out there will probably say time travel is impossible.  You might convince yourself they are travelers, when they’re innocent.  Innocent people who had an idea whispered in their ear telling them a half perspective that can only see problems, not the whole vision that sees the solution.

You would probably go mad trying to figure out the ripples from their causes.  You’d rant in an effort for somebody – anybody – to hear the whole truth.  But nobody listens to a madman, and they’ll dismiss your words as fiction.  Even if somebody presented evidence, they’ll all claim it faked because it’s all madness.

One could almost say it was all… a conspiracy.

MLP:ER – Daring Don’t

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Was… was this the MLP equivalent of GalaxyQuest?

The big difference being that the idols this time are not faking it.  Though it seems weird that for a group having bested Nightmare Moon, Discord, and more, to have never heard that Ahuizotl was real.

It also seems weird that Daring Do never heard of our Mane Six.  SERIOUSLY! How many times do these girls have to save the world for people to recognize them?  Heh, that would have been a funny twist on the tropes in this episode: if Daring Do had come to the group for their help (what with them being legends and all) and the group had trouble believing it wasn’t a promotion or something.  Or if Daring Do was running out of adventures and wanted to follow the Mane Six around for new book material.  The question is whether either of those would have been more cliche or less than the episode we got.

The moment of two fans pooling their canon knowledge together was fun.  I know several works have had fans’ knowledge come through in a pinch (GalaxyQuest obviously) but is this the first time that knowledge has been used straight within the work itself?  Off the top of my head we usually see something “themed” towards a work the fans use their knowledge to crack (riddles obviously being the most common form) but this is in a “real” world not within or a part of the work itself.  The other instance I can think of is that of a real world invader into the work who is aware of how powerful his knowledge is (Last Action Hero being pretty much THE movie about it).  Supernatural is actually the only work I can think of where fans of the work are a part of the real world which is also the work, and thus their knowledge is actually useful to what’s going on without them being outside-aware of how their fandom is useful (and even the SPN instance was shorter than this one).  Now if we can just get a Sam & Dean pony… (or did they already do one?)

Best moment of the episode: “Uh… should we go in and help her, maybe?” -Fluttershy

Final rating: Funtacular

MLP:ER – Castle Mane-ia

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Apologies for the delay.  A friend loaned me “Game of Thrones” S3 and I was watching it for a lighthearted break before resuming the darker, more challenging stories of MLP:FiM.

What’s that?  You don’t think MLP is more hardcore than GoT?  Well let me remind you that while the latter has occasional nudity, the former consists of an all female cast, NUDE ALL THE TIME! (and if you bring up Applejack, I’ll just repeat what the cop told me: “Hats don’t count.”)

So last time we left our ladies, Discord made one of the most passive-aggressive attacks and Twilight went on a vision quest about the past.  This time?  Oh sure it may look like a simple, fun haunted house tale of people “haunting” each other, but study the events more carefully…

First we have Twilight’s & Spike’s arrival.  These two are our “simplified” characters, what you see is what you get and they wear their goals on their sleeve.  Though now that she’s an alicorn, we might see Twilight’s thoughts turning to her own grand domicile after being inspired by this castle.

Who do we see next?  Why none other than our challenger to the power structure of Equestria: Fluttershy!  Here we are reminded that Fluttershy, in her grand plan to conquer the world, has already roped in Rarity to her services.  We are also reminded of just how devious the “Coming Storm” (FS’s moniker after the episode “Hurricane Fluttershy”) can be as she has convinced Rarity that going to the castle was her own idea.  Thus Fluttershy can now gather design suggestions for her future keep without anyone being the wiser.  She also brings along Angel (the Vader to her emperor) who will be in charge of observing the traps and layouts of the castle (every grand ruler needs a trap door you know).

Later Rainbow Dash and Applejack arrive at the castle spurred there by an idea from who?  And shortly tormented through the castle by who?  That’s right, Pinkie Pie!

Hm.  From your expression I don’t think you get it.  Recall that Pinkie Pie is none other than the chief priest of Discord (though in his case, the title is something more like “cucumber resplendent”) who is to bring the world to chaos as he prefers.  In S3 there we Pinkie slacking off on her duties a bit on converting ponies to her lord & master’s cause.  It would seem that with Discord’s reappearance in the previous episode, she has been reminded of her duties.  (Plus with the Elements of Harmony now given up, the power threat to Discord is much less.) Thus we see a Pinkie seemingly more manic and unhinged than usual.  A Pinkie who takes steps to drive Rainbow Dash and Applejack into madness (for once your mind is free of the constraints of logic and sanity, then you can embrace the wisdom of Discord).  Of course she acts innocent and ignorant when caught but watch her closely, you can see subtleties in her performance showing a cold, calculating mind.

After this incident it’s likely she has the hooks of chaos in RD & AJ.  FS has Rarity on her side and, given that they want to keep the existing order (just with FS in charge instead of Celestia & Luna), Twilight is an ally of circumstance.  The battle lines are being drawn, 3 on one side, 3 on the other… what will happen next in, “True Tales of Ponyville”?

9.23 – “Do You Believe in Miracles?” remix

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Last remix until Season 10!  Warning: I did see how much I could cross the line this time…

As always thanks to: http://www.homeofthenutty.com/ for screencaps and http://lolwhutgifs.tumblr.com/ for the gif this time.

923gadreel2 Metatron… you’ve got to come out of your room sometime!
923metatron1 No! I’m going to stay in here forever!
923gadreel1 I’ve done that. It sucks.
923metatron1 Did your room have an xbox?
923gadreel1 No, they tend not to give you those in jail.
923gadreel2 Can you at least tell me why you’re so upset?
923metatron1 I… Well you see… De… Dean said…
923gadreel2 Come on, man spit it out.  What did the mean Winchester do to you?
923metatron1 He said… I wasn’t a good villain! *loud crying*
923gadreel2 That bastard! What’d he say?
923metatron1 Well… it wasn’t… exactly what he said… as much as… how he said it.
923gadreel2 … Go on.
923metatron1 He… he killed Abaddon instead of me!
923gadreel1 She did scratch his car.
923metatron1 whhhhaaaaaaaaaa *more sobbing*
923gadreel2 Hey now, Metty – buddy – that just means you have to try extra hard to be villainous.
923metatron1 You’re just patronizing me.
923gadreel2 I am not! You can be just as bad as Azazel or Lilith or Lucifer or…
923metatron1 Hitler?
923gadreel2 Who?
923metatron1 He was this… nobody in Austria a few decades back. Nothing seemed to go right for the guy. Rejected from art school, arrested, shot at in World War 1, had only one testicle.
923gadreel2 Really?
923metatron1 Oh yeah. On top of it all, he just couldn’t break into full villainy, no matter how much he said he hated Jews and other people.
923gadreel2 So… he failed?
923metatron1 Oh no. He sold his soul for 10 years of power.
923gadreel2 He… did?
923metatron1 Quite. Part of why he became so obsessed with the occult. He kept looking for a way out of the deal.  They gave him another decade because he was spilling so much blood for them, but in the end, the Hellhounds always come to collect. He thought he’d be safe in this bunker but Eva Braun was possessed by the same demon he made the deal with and… it didn’t go well.
923gadreel2 And now?
923metatron1 Oh he’s the most hated man in the world! You can find more people sympathetic to Lucifer than that guy.
923gadreel2 Well… there you go! Hitler didn’t give up and neither should you.
923metatron2 *opens door* You’re right! I’m going to go out and there be a real villain! I’m going to go do some evil, THEN the Winchesters will have to try and kill me by God!
923gadreel2 That’s the spirit! So what are you going to do first? Kill some specified group of people??
923metatron2 =O No! Gadreel! I’m a villain. Not an asshole! You stay here and watch some of these workplace orientation videos I had made. Then when I get back, maybe you’ll understand what “Metatron Inc” is all about.
923gadreel1 ( ._.)
–LATER & ELSEWHERE–
923dean2 ME DEAN! ME STAB! GIVE ME STABBY THINGS!
923castiel1 How long has he been like this?
923sam1 Since stabbing Abaddon.
923castiel2 You guys killed Abaddon? Congratulations!
923sam3 Yep. Big bad of the season and the Winchesters took ‘er down. Because that’s how we roll.
923castiel1 And all without ever calling your friends to help.
923sam2 Aw… I’m sorry Cas, but… Dean said he didn’t want you along because you’d take screentime away from Blade.
923castiel2 ??? I would never take screentime from Wesley Snipes! That man’s a national treasure.
923sam1 Oh. No, not him. That’s what Dean’s calling the weapon now.
923castiel1 Hm. You think this has something to do with the Mark of Cain?
923sam1 Nah.
923gadreel2 *enters* Hey guys, can we talk a mo–
923dean2 RAR, ME STAB GUY THAT TOOK ELIZA DUSHKU FROM ME!
923gadreel1 Ow! Oh god the pain! How did this happen?
923dean1 I’ve been stomping around here talking about stabbing. Has nobody been paying attention to my performance?
1stblade
923dean1 Thank you.
1stblade
923dean1 Yeah but the academy won’t let cutlery join, much less vote.
1stblade
923dean3 The people’s choice award is a good shape for stabbing.
923sam2 No, sorry, I have to stop you there.
923dean2 What? ME ANGRY AT UPSTAGING-SAM.
923sam1 Dean, 1. You never had a chance with Eliza, stop holding it against this guy. 2. The PCA? I mean it’s one thing to talk about affecting something as pathetic and common as the academy awards, but the People’s Choice? Now you’ve gone too far. Go to your room and think about what you’ve done!
923dean1 *sulks off*
923sam3 I’m sorry for my brother.
923gadreel2 No, it’s ok. I’m just thrilled someone actually watched Dollhouse.
923castiel2 Is that… why you’re here?
923gadreel2 Oh no. I was wanting to ask if you guys could… try attacking Metatron?
923sam3 Why?
923gadreel2 He’s been feeling really down about not being considered a real villain by you guys. Think you can go rough him up or something?
923sam1 Sure. How about we just try to kill him altogether?
923gadreel2 Oh I think he’s really appreciate that.
923castiel3 Sam, you get Dean and go take care of that. I have an idea that Gadreel and I can do “back at the base” – as they say.
–MEANWHILE IN DEAN’S ROOM–
923dean1 They’re right! I shouldn’t hold his work against him. Besides he was pretty awesome as Helo.
1stblade
923dean3 Hey now, I thought we agreed no more music.
1stblade
923dean1 Yeah, now it’s stuck in my head too. Thanks. *heavy sarcasm*
1stblade
923dean3 You say… that we’ve got nothing in common
No common ground to start from… while others fall apart
You’ll say… the world should have more killing
So many lives need slicing… still I know you just don’t care.
And I said, What about… stabbing that Tiffany?
You said, “I think I… remember her blood
And as I recall, I think… we both kinda liked it.”
And I said, “Well, that’s… the one thing we’ve got!”
923sam3 For gods’ sake, PLEASE stop singing!
923dean1 Can I go stab someone?
923sam2 Yes. Gadreel just came by and asked us to go rough up Metatron.
923dean1 Meaty? Awwww but I wanted a real big bad villain.
923sam3 I know, Dean, but the alpha vamp isn’t returning our calls.
923dean1 Ugh, then we’ll stay in here. Blade wants a lite, raspberry smoothie and a karaoke machine.
923sam1 … No! Now either come along or stay in there.
923dean1 Fine, we’re coming.
–MEANWHILE–
923gadreel1 This is brilliant, Castiel. When he gets back, I just know Metatron is going to love his office looking like a lair.  How did you come up with this?
923castiel1 Since losing my wings I’ve had a lot of time to… watch the HGTV network.
923gadreel2 Hey there’s Asariel and Purah. They’ll want in on this.
923castiel2 Gadreel! Stop. We can’t.
923gadreel1 Why not?
923castiel3 *whispering* The more who know, the more likely the surprise will be ruined.
923gadreel2 Something else from HGTV?
923castiel2 The Winchesters.
923gadreel2 ?
923castiel1 One time Dean enlisted my help getting a lady of ill repute into a cake for Sam.
923gadreel2 How’d it go?
923castiel1 Sam was… not as excited with me in the cake as he might have been with the lady.
923gadreel2 So what do we do? Just walk by them?
923castiel3 No, that would look too suspicious…
923gadreel2 I know! I’ll put you in handcuffs and pretend you’re my prisoner.
923castiel2 I was about to suggest that I collect on Metatron’s deal.
923gadreel2 What deal?
923castiel2 He promised me a spot in Heaven if I played the role of enemy.
923gadreel2 You have any proof?
923castiel1 Damn, I should have gotten a voucher.
923gadreel2 Hold on, Castiel, I see a bakery.
–MEANWHILE–
truck
923crowd Oh my god, she’s been hit!
923metatron3 Stand aside!
923metatron2 HEAL!
923crowd Wow!
923crowd I can’t believe it.
923metatron3 I know. Isn’t it just the most evil thing you’ve ever seen?
923crowd
923crowd No.
923metatron1 Dammit! Why can’t I get this right??
–LATER–
923dean2 Where’s the wanna be that calls himself a villain?
923metatron3 *gasp* You came!
923dean1 Yep, I’m here to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and I’ve only got one stick remaining.
923metatron1 Oh by all means, take your time. We’re in no rush.
923dean1 That reminds me. What’s the deal with this… place and those people?
923metatron2 My extensive pop culture knowledge tells me that every major villain requires a base and minions. Since you can’t get a volcano any more without 3 character references, I thought I should start small.
923dean1 Not bad. You could use a cat to stroke.
923metatron1 I tried to use one of orphan kids instead, but nobody would let me.
923dean1 So how you want to do this? *puts last stick of gum into his mouth* Final showdown style? Taunt and escape?
923metatron2 Are we… are we supposed to do final showndown on the first confrontation? I always heard you should wait until at least the third.
923dean1 Whatever you’re comfortable with.
923metatron1 I just… don’t want to seem like – you know – an ‘easy’ villain.
923dean1 I can totally respect that.
–MEANWHILE–
923gadreel2 Let me say again, Castiel, that a death-trap party is just BRILLIANT.
923castiel3 Ok set up the mini-guillotine for the peeps in the middle of the table.
923gadreel1 What about the winch to lower gingerbread men into the chocolate fondue?
923castiel2 To the right of the fireplace. Gadreel! This plate of mini-sandwiches is perfect. I love how each triangle is arranged like a group of sharks circling their prey.
923gadreel2 Well I can’t wait to try a bite of the slow moving wall of shish kebabs.
923castiel1 There’s… not really a place to put the laser slicing cheese platter on his desk.
923gadreel2 Just move his typewriter to the shelf behind.
923castiel1 Ugh. Grunt. Can you give me a hand? It’s kind of awkward and–
breaking
–ELSEWHERE–
923metatron2 What was that?
923dean3 ?
–PREVIOUS SET–
923castiel2 No, it’s fine! I saw this stuff when I worked at a gas station, called “crazy glue”. We’ll get some of that, put the tablet back together, Metatron will never know–
923metatron2 WHAT HAPPENED!?!?!
923gadreel2 Boss, just let us explain…
923metatron1 How can I be a serious villain when you guys just ruined the one thing I had going for me? I’m going to my room and never coming out! *slams door*
923castiel1  ._.
923gadreel1  ._.
–ELSEWHERE–
923dean1 What took you so long?
923sam2 Dean, you know I’m sensitive about my narcolepsy. What’s happening?
923dean3 Beats me. One minute Metatron and I are having a by-the-numbers confrontation and then he just ups and leaves.
923sam1 Without even attempting to kill you? Did he at least promise to call you back later?
923dean1 Who knows.
923castiel3 There’s–
923dean1 only–
923gadreel2 one–
923sam1 thing–
923crowd left!
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That’s it for this season! Hope to see you all back here in season 10!

(crossposted @ http://thewinchesterfamilybusiness.com/)

MLP:ER – Princess Twilight Sparkle 1 & 2

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Oh hey!  Netflix finally got season 4 of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic!  Well it can’t be put off any longer.  Time leave the light-hearted, family-friendly lands of Supernatural and venture now into the dark, twisted world of sapient ponies…

Well this episode is in canon so I have to do a straight review.

…Which I don’t mind!  Save for Discord’s first appearance, this is the strongest season opener the show has had so far, and kudos to the makers for actually going with an episode that is dripping with continuity.  I mean I can get why some kids shows aren’t continuity heavy, though never because “kids can’t grasp it”.  If you’ve ever spent any time with a five-year-old and up, you’ll quickly learn that their brains are incredibly sponges able to store and recall minute trivia about any of their favorite subjects (I won’t challenge a 5th grader on superheroes).

Regardless, the story was also pretty well crafted to give background on things that happened before without making the exposition clunky or unnatural.  If they ever did “as you know” it was in a manner like taunting or threatening – the way people would in real life!  I also admit that I’m a sucker for “wheels in motion” style plots.

Often this show can struggle with the speed of things, ending up with developments that happen way too quick (like the very first episode, the “friends” having the power to defeat an ancient evil after knowing each other for 2 hours).  This two-parter was a good breather and had the subtext of “it takes time”.  Twilight might have wings now, but she’s still struggling with flight and often times forgets she has the ability.  Likewise Discord’s reform.  Previously it almost seemed too quick and sudden, but in this episode we see said reformation is still taking time.  He might be honestly reformed but still tempted by mischief, or he might still be wicked but is plotting a longer game.  Either interpretation works and this is what makes deep, fully-realized characters.

Yeah, I’m saying some of the best writing on TV is in a kids show.

Maybe 4.5 because the flashback with Luna & Celestia was pretty gratuitous fanservice but at least it wasn’t boring.