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[personal profile] quirkytizzy
Hmmm, I want to watch something fun and comforting. Let's hit up what's on Netflix Kid's.


I haven't watched Anastasia in forever. That might be nice. Oh hey, I've never seen Disney's Hercules, and the Nostalgia Chick loves it, so maybe I'll watch that.



*decide on Hercules*

I seriously need some James Wood's voice acting to wipe away the horror of fucking Stripe Gremlin popping up on my screen. WHY IS IT ON THE KIDS LIST?!!!
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Posted by Cheryl Eddy

Horror short Rotary, from filmmakers Patrick Young and Powell Robinson, offers a couple of jumps—and one very important reminder. Woe unto the vintage-store employee who just can’t stop herself from answering a phone that should not be ringing. Girl, no! You know that old thing is just for show!


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Posted by Charles Pulliam-Moore

Because it’s her 25th anniversary, this year’s Batman Day has been hijacked by Harley Quinn. While the rest of the world is obsessing over a lovable maniac with a lapsed medical accreditation, we wanna revisit the question that always pops up when you think about how many versions of Batman there are.


There Are Too Many Shows

Sep. 22nd, 2017 08:11 pm
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Posted by Albert Burneko on The Concourse, shared by Cheryl Eddy to io9

There are too many shows on TV. Too many shows! Who can watch all of these shows? I can’t watch all of these shows.


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Posted by Germain Lussier

Science fiction is at its best when it takes a crazy concept and applies it to real world issues, and that’s exactly what writer director Yoshio Kato does with 3FT Ball and Souls, a teeny tiny Japanese film filled with big ideas and even bigger heart.


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[personal profile] skull_bearer
via http://ift.tt/2xmxilT:
Whatever. If anyone’s answer to more inclusivity is ‘don’t write it because you might get it wrong’, rather than offering resources on how to write it right, then they’re not much better than people who tell you ‘don’t write it because I hate SJWs.’

If the net result is getting people to not write inclusively, you can all suck a fat dick. With knobs on.

News Post: Market Penetration

Sep. 22nd, 2017 09:04 pm
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Tycho: Outside of Twitter or email, I don’t let strangers talk to me on the Internet.  I just don’t do it.  Generally speaking their “insights” about my identity fall into a few very staid categories and I feel confident I’ve experienced the flavor ridges of that particular narrative arc.  I’m not resting on my anodized laurels though: I’m getting into the conversation in a big way, and there’s been some interest in the novel mode of my dialectic. Hey!  The Child’s Play Team has put together a an event this afternoon on our…
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Posted by Beth Elderkin

Earlier this week, an episode of Netflix’s children cartoon Maya the Bee was pulled after a hidden phallus was discovered by an angry parent. Now, the studio behind the cartoon looks to be pursuing charges against the penis-drawing artist. But in truth, sneaking dicks and other sex jokes into cartoons is weirdly…


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Posted by James Whitbrook

Welcome back to Toy Aisle, io9's regular roundup of the toys most likely to threaten our personal savings this week. We’ve got even more Star Wars, a wonderfully specific Spider-Man, and honestly, the world’s most adorable Godzilla action figure. Check it out!


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Posted by Cheryl Eddy

In the new It movie, Pennywise the Dancing Clown is a terrifying, sewer-dwelling killer who turns your worst fears against you. He is also, as his name suggests, capable of absolutely ripping up the dance floor no matter what song is playing, as a hilarious new Twitter account demonstrates.


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Posted by Katharine Trendacosta

We’re inundated with comic book movies and TV shows these days. But for a decade now, we’ve been in the age of the “practical” hero look. And that was fine in the beginning, when everyone was worried about getting regular people to take this genre seriously. But we are far past that point now, and there are some…


New Books and ARCs, 9/22/17

Sep. 22nd, 2017 06:52 pm
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Posted by John Scalzi

Just in time for the weekend, a new batch of books and ARCs at the Scalzi Compound for you to peruse. Which would you want to give a place in your own “to be read” stack? Tell us in the comments.

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Posted by James Whitbrook

We now know the premise of this year’s gigantic, two-night CW crossover between The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow, and it’s a doozy—and a take on the classic comic book storyline of heroes fighting evil, alternate versions of themselves. But there’s a lot more to it than Evil Supergirl’s awesome…


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Posted by Judith Tarr

Bill the Pony vs Shadowfax

Here we have our two contestants for this week’s match, the first in SFF Equines history (but not, perhaps, the last): on this side the tall, white, shining, magical, beautiful king of stallions who deigns to carry the great Wizard; and over on that side, the short, brown, fuzzy, unromantic, pretty definitely not-a-stallion who is not asked whether he wants to carry the Fellowship’s baggage (but as far as Sam can determine, he’s willing).

A serious mismatch, you say?

That, I reply, remains to be seen.

Before we get down to the one-on-one, let’s clarify that a pony is. Just about everybody gets the concept of horse, more or less: four legs, hooves, mane and tail, long neck, long head, eats grass, one end kicks, the other bites, you sit in the middle or you hitch it up to a cart and drive it. The size varies, and sometimes can be very big, especially if it’s a Fantasy Stallion(tm), but it’s always big enough for the standard (male)(Western)(very probably white unless he exists in a different universe where a Khal can be named Drogo, not to be confused with Frodo’s very respectable Hobbit father) human to ride.

So what’s a pony? It is not, contrary to all too popular belief, a baby horse. A baby horse is called a foal or a colt, though a colt is actually, technically, a male baby horse. A female baby horse is a filly.

A pony can be quite small and still be a fully grown animal. In fact the main distinction between horse and pony is height. A pony comes in at or below the standard measure of 14.2 hands at the withers, which at four inches per hand equals 58 inches. A horse comes in above that height.


But! because horse lore can never be that simple, there are horses below 14.2 and ponies (not excessively but still) above it. That’s where you get into physical characteristics. Both horses and ponies are the same subspecies of equid, but pony breeds tend more toward shorter, thicker, and furrier, with extra helpings of mane and tail, and extra coat, especially in winter. They may also have smaller heads than the average horse, and adorable little bitty ears, though that is not a given.

Horses would generally be more lightly built, leggier, with less hair—but you still get Icelandic horses, Mongolian horses, and Fjord horses, all of whom are short, thickset, and furry. So it varies. And some breeds of horse run a gamut from pony-sized to well up in the horse range, including the Arabian; whereas you can get Connemara ponies over 15 hands, and the upper end of the Welsh pony continuum, the Welsh Cob, which gets up over 15 hands as well.

So it all depends.

What it comes down to really is the fact that the horse (or pony) can vary widely in size, and when you get way down to the Mini, that’s called a horse, though it’s much smaller than the pony (top range being 36 inches). The lay person may just want to ask a horse person whether this equine is considered a pony or a horse, and take it from there.

Fortunately for that lay person’s sanity, there really is no ambiguity about the difference between Shadowfax and good old Bill. Shadowfax in my mind’s eye presents as a particularly lovely English Thoroughbred. In the films he was played by an Andalusian (the gorgeous often-white or technically grey horse of Spain with the long, long hair—but not quite like pony hair, it’s finer and flowier). He’s tall and clean-limbed and proud, says Tolkien of the horses of Rohan in general, and he’s long-lived and has machinelike stamina and understands the speech of Men. And, Tolkien adds, he tolerates no training or handling until his One True Person arrives, that being Gandalf, but once he’s consented to let the Wizard train him, he makes certain sure the person (or Hobbit) allowed on his back will never be lost or thrown unless he actually throws himself off.


That’s a lot of horse, and a lot of self-determination. Against that we have Bill, who is small enough to be ridden comfortably by a person between three and four feet tall, so he’s probably between twelve and thirteen hands. He’s a rescue with a past, having been starved and abused by the wicked Bill Ferny, and is sold as a pack horse. He has no say in the matter, and offers no objection. When the Fellowship reaches the back door of Moria, he has to be turned loose (to Sam’s great grief) and left to survive as he can, if he can escape the Watcher in the Water.

Which we know he does, because we’re told he turns up back in Bree, and Barliman puts him to work. Eventually he finds his Sam again, and that’s Bill’s happy ending. Better yet, he gets his revenge on Bill Ferny at the Brandywine Bridge during the Scouring of the Shire, and he’s Sam’s mount when Frodo and company ride to the Grey Havens.

Shadowfax meanwhile carries Gandalf nobly through the end of the War of the Ring, and then takes him to the Havens, but it’s not clear whether he’s loaded on the grey ship for the journey to Valinor. Bill gets to go home with Sam. Shadowfax may or may not get his happy ending. Like Elrond and Arwen, he may have been parted from his loved one forever.

So that’s the first possible win: Bill gets to keep his person. Shadowfax might not. If he is left behind, he gets to go back to being King of the Mearas, which involves running free and making more Mearas, but in terms of emotional life, he’s suffered a terrible loss.

(Then again, if he does make it to Valinor, I’m sure the horses there will welcome a good outcross.) (Ooo, fanfic prompt.)

Even if Bill does get the better end of the keeping-one’s-person deal, Shadowfax has all the advantages in size, speed, and even endurance, doesn’t he? Size and speed are definite wins for Shadowfax, but for sheer blunt sticktoitiveness, there’s a lot to be said for a pony. He won’t be spectacular, he won’t be fast, but he can go on and on and on, and when it comes to living off the land, he’s the clear winner.

Shadowfax appears to live on air and wizardry, but when he’s on his own, he most probably has to eat like a normal horse. That means lots of fiber and some protein and minerals—extra protein for those extra stallion muscles—and that means plenty of good grass or other forage, and grain if he has human help. Because of his size, even if he’s an easy keeper, he’ll need quite a few pounds of fodder a day in order to keep weight and condition, plus he’ll need water to keep it all moving down that one-way street called the equine digestive system.


Bill has the same basic needs, but his smaller body means he can survive on a much smaller amount of feed and water. Pony metabolism tends to be much more efficient than horse metabolism, to the point that in feeding ponies, modern horsekeepers have to be very careful not to overfeed and founder their charges. That includes not just hay and concentrates but pasturage. A pony on rich grass blows up horribly fast. He’ll do much better on smaller quantities of poorer forage.

Shadowfax may need magical help to survive the terrain between Rivendell and Moria in winter cold and hard weather without starving to death, but Bill can live off the country and arrive back at Bree both alive and able to recover from the weight loss he’s suffered from living wild in winter. Tough terrain breeds tough equines, and smaller size allows the animal to make better use of the resources available. An extreme example of this would be the Shetland Isles, whose ponies (and dogs) are famously small, sturdy, and furry.

Pound for pound, too, a pony can be stronger than a horse. Shetlands can carry a grown man with ease, though his feet may drag on the ground. Horses will lose weight-bearing capability as they get larger; a very large horse is challenged enough to carry his own weight around without also carrying a heavy rider. A really big horse is not what you want to carry your very heavy rider, especially if he’s in armor. You want a cob, a stocky, sturdily built animal in the mid rage between pony and horse—14.2 to 15.2 hands. The Welsh Cob is a great example, as is the Lipizzaner. Forlong the Fat, in my head, is riding a largeish Welsh Cob, and the Cob is rocking it.

Shadowfax is quite happy to carry Gandalf, who according to the Eagle is “light as a feather,” and who is not wearing armor or carrying a lot of extra baggage. When that baggage includes a young Hobbit, he’s still not too challenged, since Pippin probably weighs a lot less by that time than he did when he left Hobbiton, and he’s likewise not wearing armor or carrying a heavy pack.

Now Bill at somewhat shy of thirteen hands may not be carrying an armed human or Wizard to battle, but if he’s serving as a packhorse for nine foot travelers, he’s probably got a significant load on his initially bony back. And he’s managing it quite well and even gaining weight as he goes on, just from being able to graze along the way. Not to mention they stop to sleep, and while they’re sleeping, Bill is hoovering up the available forage and immediately converting it to body mass and energy.


All right, so Bill is holding his own here, but what about a literal cage match? Shadowfax has a major size advantage, right? And can pound Bill to a pulp. Right? Especially since Shadowfax is a stallion, ergo testosterone, ergo more muscle mass, ergo stronger.

Well. Maybe. Also aggression, so he’ll have no compunction about ripping Bill’s throat out.

Except Bill has one thing, or maybe one and a half, that helps him manage better than you might think. He’s small, and he’s agile. While Shadowfax is still getting all that real estate up into the air for the rear and strike, Bill has skipped underneath, whipped around, and planted two good, if small, back hooves right where the future foals of the Mearas reside. Then he scampers out of there before the whole screaming mass comes toppling down.

Or if he decides to spare the potential offspring, there’s still the duck-and-bolt, and the hamstring-rip, and the hard kick to the hind cannon that does the big guy in permanently. Bill is quite a good kicker, as his namesake Bill Ferny can testify.

You see, Bill is smart. So is Shadowfax, and horses can be very smart indeed. But ponies have their very own level of ‘tude, and a degree of cunning that has been the bane of many a pony-keeping person of any age, who has to deal with the opening of gates, the jumping of fences (some ponies, notably Connemaras, can jump the moon and throw in Venus for a lark), the breaking down of walls (see above re: pony strength), the thwarting of ropes and ties, the scraping off of riders, and many another would-be restraint on life and freedom.

While Shadowfax is waging noble war, Bill is winning by any means necessary. If that means kneecapping the opposition, that’s fine with Bill. The big guy may have all the strength and speed, but Bill is down low, he can get out of the way fast, and he keeps his eye on the low-hanging targets.

In the end, your noble white steed will win the beauty contest and the race to Gondor, but the little grubby guy with the forelock in his eyes is quite likely to come out of the cage with the prize. He’s got smarts and determination, and overall toughness that even the King of the Mearas will struggle to match.

Judith Tarr is a lifelong horse person. She supports her habit by writing works of fantasy and science fiction as well as historical novels, many of which have been published as ebooks by Book View Cafe. Her most recent short novel, Dragons in the Earth, features a herd of magical horses, and her space opera, Forgotten Suns, features both terrestrial horses and an alien horselike species (and space whales!). She lives near Tucson, Arizona with a herd of Lipizzans, a clowder of cats, and a blue-eyed spirit dog.

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Posted by Ryan F. Mandelbaum on Gizmodo, shared by Rob Bricken to io9

Even if you don’t know much physics, you probably know one of its core tenets: an object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion. In fact, in a vacuum where there’s literally nothing to slow things down, things don’t prefer being at rest or in motion. This plays out in real life all the…


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Posted by James Whitbrook

It feels like we’ve spent the past few months looking at the same footage from the very first trailer for The Gifted, recut and regurgitated repeatedly since May. But now we finally have a fresh look at the series in the form of a newly released gallery of pictures from episode two, “rX.”


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Posted by Beth Elderkin

Even though directors are in charge of creating movies, selling those movies to people is usually none of their business. Sometimes that can have consequences, like how the “Bohemian Rhapsody” trailer for Suicide Squad reportedly led to a rewrite of the movie’s tone and structure. In other cases, it can actual spoil…


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Posted by Chris Lough

It is late in the workday and I am really annoying Carl Engle-Laird, assistant editor for Tor.com Publishing and the acquiring editor for Alter S. Reiss’ novella Sunset Mantle. He explains the plot of the story to me, this congenial monolith standing before a shrieking, bone-wielding ape, but it is not enough.

“Okay, Carl…but what is the book about?”

Two days later I have read Reiss’s story—the prose is speedy, engaging, and ideal for 45-minute commutes on the subway—but I still don’t have an answer to my own question. Sunset Mantle, as far as I can tell, is about a man who thinks he is done fighting but who ends up becoming the figurative rock that allows an enormous independent community to withstand the tide of culturalization. Richard Anderson’s cover is very apt in this regard, a scene from the book exaggerated in scale so that the essence of that scene is given the emotional weight it deserves. So really I do have an answer to the question of just what Mantle is about. I’m just not satisfied with that answer.

(P.S.—Here’s the full Richard Anderson cover because it’s just TOO. PRETTY. to be contained within a mere crop.)

Sunset Mantle art by Richard Anderson

Art by Richard Anderson

A man who finds himself holding the line against impossible odds, even begrudgingly, is a very common dramatic framework. Conveying that kind of drama in the setting of an epic fantasy can be a lot of fun, as it allows a writer to enlarge the drama to an extent that we rarely get to experience in the real world. In Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings saga, all Frodo has to do is drop a ring in a hole, but that hole is actually a VOLCANO and that volcano is secreted deep within THE DARKEST KINGDOM ON EARTH and SAM CAN BE REALLY ANNOYING SOMETIMES. We know that Frodo is the least physically powerful combatant in the saga, but that he carries the same desire for resistance that we as readers see in ourselves. So it’s thrilling to see Frodo’s struggle inspire others to help him continue his efforts. This is an inspiring genre of fiction to read; and popular, as evidenced by the fact that there’s so very much of it available.

Sunset Mantle shares this progression, but despite it carrying the trappings of a medieval-esque epic fantasy, its story about resistance is a small one. The main character, Cete, finds himself central to the story simply because he’s the most experienced and competent warrior in the Reach Antach, the distant city into which he has wandered. To be sure, Sunset Mantle chronicles an event that is important to establishing the future of this city, but the outcome of this event surely isn’t the end of the story. The gears continue to turn in the world at large and although the events of Mantle may start a ripple in the pond of this fantasy world, it is left to the reader to imagine what those ripples may be. To continue the Lord of the Rings comparison, it’s like starting Tolkien’s saga with the story of the pragmatic general who trained the soldiers of Helm’s Deep just before it was swarmed with orcs.

Those familiar with video game RPGs like Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest would call this kind of small story a “sidequest.” In these epic fantasy video games, these are optional quests that have implications towards your main quest, but aren’t large enough to justify occupying your entire gaming experience. These games communicate repeatedly that the focus of you the player will be the problems menacing the entire world, not just one person, or one town.

FF9 side quest kupo nuts

That’s great, buddy, but we’re trying to get to the next town before the Empire uses an angry god to destroy it.

Readers of epic fantasy demand a scope of a similar world-shattering size, if only to justify the time they will invest in poring through several 900+ page novels. Grand adventures are emotionally satisfying, as well, and the deeper a reader can get pulled into them, the more the reader will feel as if they are the one undertaking the quest. The length of epic fantasy novels is a factor in achieving this depth, as a longer story allows for greater detail and variation to be depicted.

My head has been filling up with works of fantasy this year. I finally checked out Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence series, which is epic, and fantasy, but somehow neither. I’ve read Jason Denzel’s forthcoming debut novel Mystic, and skimmed the two new Mistborn novels, but mostly I’ve been entirely submerged within The Wheel of Time Companion. The companion volume to Robert Jordan’s epic is dense with information, so much so that it’s been difficult for me to find things that are truly unknown. But they’re definitely in there. And it’s a rewarding experience to stumble across them. As if Robert Jordan is answering a question that only he and I ever thought to ask.

To me, the most rewarding bits within Jordan’s Companion are the “small stories.” The Sunset Mantles that he never managed to fit within the worldwide scope of The Wheel of Time, like Mazrim Taim’s harassment of The Two Rivers, the tragedy behind Serafelle Sedai’s decision to become an Aes Sedai, or the “training” that Cadsuane foisted upon an Amyrlin. These have little, if any, real effects on the main storyline of The Wheel of Time but they give a surprising amount of momentum to the series as a whole. These are stories, small stories, that play out quietly in their entirety while I’m off paying attention to other characters. Missing these small stories in an epic makes that fantasy world feel more like our own. After all, how many stories do we miss in our own lives?

There is plenty of room in epic fantasy for the small stories, it seems. Not only that, but I’d go so far as to say that the “small stories” are what define the epic scope of fantasy. These are the “bricks” in the firmament of these worlds, the guarantee that there is something the reader can explore just over the horizon, the promise that there are real people affected by their world’s perch on the edge of doom.

So maybe, when I asked Carl what Sunset Mantle was about, he was stymied as to why someone whose head has been bubbling under the surface of epic fantasy all this year would be unaware of the obvious truth of “small stories.” This truth was obvious to editor Robert Silverberg when he assembled Legends. And to John Joseph Adams when he assembled Epic. And Shawn Speakman when he crafted Unfettered. The impact of small stories in epic fantasy certainly doesn’t escape George R. R. Martin, who has fashioned several epics, several anthologies, and ascended to the status of cultural icon on the strength of his “small stories.”

See, now I just feel foolish. Better informed, and foolish. Thanks, Carl and accompanying horse calendar.

Carl shrugs and is generally adorbs

This article was originally published in September 2015.

Chris Lough is the production manager of Tor.com and was actually thrilled to discover the major exports of all the countries in Randland. What? Economies are interesting.

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[personal profile] andrewducker
Jane and I went up to Nethy Bridge, near Aviemore, and stayed at the Lazy Duck in one of their Eco-Lodges. Which is a cabin built for two, with electricity, gas cooking, and (distant, wobbly) wifi, right next to a large duck pond full of a variety of different species of ducks.
Loads of photos and four videos )
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Posted by Jennings Brown on Gizmodo, shared by Rob Bricken to io9

Many Californians’ regularly scheduled broadcasts were interrupted Thursday morning with strange emergency messages warning of extraterrestrial invasions and the beginning of Armageddon. The bizarre warnings aired on TVs in the Orange County area, affecting Cox and Spectrum cable users, according to the Orange County



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