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#hopefully I will be able to finish the novel before the end of the drama
nanowrimo · 5 months ago
5 Tips for Finishing Your Novel
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April’s session of Camp NaNoWriMo is drawing to a close, and you might find yourself nearing the end of your novel. If you need some tips on writing and polishing the ending of your story, author Derek Murphy is here to share a few! Plus, you can check out the rest of our novel-finishing resources on our #NaNoFinMo page. 
You won NaNoWriMo and have a 50k collection of scenes and sentences, but how do you clean it up and get it done? How do you make sure it’s finished, satisfying and enjoyable? Here are 5 powerful strategies for finishing your novel and some helpful writing tips that will push you past the finish line.
1. Give it a satisfying resolution.
In order to have a powerful story, your book should probably focus on a main character’s change or transformation. There’s an inner war, a.k.a. the character’s emotional healing, and an outer war: the conflict that forced the reckoning. If it’s a purely symbolic internal realization, you can mirror that with actual conflict in the real scene: the breaking of a dish, a fit of rage, a sudden ray of sunlight (or a storm… this should not be pleasant; It’s a breaking point and spiritual death/rebirth).
You can clarify the moment of change by setting up an illustrative contrast, a before and after, that shows how those internal changes have resulted in real-world consequences or benefits. Each character’s unique challenge will match their personal weakness or fear. The price for victory is the one thing they have so far refused to do, or something they cannot give up or bear to lose.
Make sure your protagonist has gone through a transformative struggle to arrive at deep insights, knowledge or awareness. Find a way to deepen the incidental scenes so that they become instrumental to a deeper purpose, leading towards an identity-shifting event.
The plot is what happens, and it’s important. But you can make it more dramatic and meaningful by making sure you demonstrate how hard it was and what it cost. It matters, it is remarkable, because it forced your protagonist to change.
Your conclusion might include:
Physical tension as allies perform a tug-of-war battle against resistance, that shows how difficult this struggle is, and how much force is required.
The consideration phase, as characters are tempted last minute or the price for victory is revealed: the sweet memories that give them awareness that this fight is worth the cost or risk (you need to show them making the choice, knowing what they will lose).
The final flashback, as the full backstory is revealed so we can see exactly why this conflict is so difficult or meaningful for the main character.
2. Add (unresolved) conflict.
Your story is made up of the events and scenes, where something happens. Each new event will push the characters further into the plot. Slow scenes where nothing is really happening can be red flags, so the first thing to focus on is increasing conflict, drama, suspense and intrigue. This is what creates urgency. The full reveal, demonstrating why THIS challenge is so difficult and powerful, should happen just before the final battle or resolution.
You want to make sure every scene, especially in your conclusion, has enough conflict. I recommend these three:
Outer Conflict (threats): Challenges or obstacles that prevent the character from achieving goals.
Inner Conflict (doubts): Moral struggles, decisions, guilt or shame, anger.
Friendly Fire (betrayal): Strong disagreements between allies or supporting characters. 
You want to extend and deepen the potential conflict, without resolving it too easily. The biggest destroyer of conflict is conversation: when your characters just sit around and talk to each other. Most conflict involves a lack of information, and a desire for clarity. A lot of conflict is perceived or imagined.
The most important information needs to come last, and come at a great price. The information that has an emotional impact, and influences their actions and decisions, should be big reveals at dramatic peaks. A surprise or twist should be treated as an event: each scene is leading towards a change or new piece of information that provokes the protagonist to respond.
3. Fill plot holes with character motivation.
After you’ve made sure that “what actually happens” is intriguing (opening questions and raising tensions without resolving them) you can focus on making sure the plot holes are filled, and characters are properly motivated – these two things are usually adjacent.
You can find and fill plot holes by asking:
Why are the characters doing this?
Why does any of it matter?
Basically, readers need to respect the main characters enough to care what happens to them, so their choices and actions need to make sense within the given information. If there’s a simpler, easier solution, readers will get stuck up on “why didn’t they just…”? To fix plot holes and gaps in logic or continuity, or make the story go where you need it to, you can add urgency, fix the mood of the scene (bigger stakes require bigger justifications), show characters in a weakened mental state, or raise concerns but have them dismissed, with an excuse or justification.
You need rational characters to make plausible choices that lead to dire consequences. You need show why they don’t do something easier, or nothing at all, or why they face clear challenges, despite potential obstacles.
They’ll also require a deeper motivation, for why they’re willing to put themselves in identity-destroying conflict, rather than just giving up or running away. Why do they stay in THIS fight, when they’ve run from similar ones? If they weren’t ready at the beginning, why are the ready now – what changed in them, as a result of your story’s journey?
Your protagonist needs to have a strong, consistent internal compass, and it needs to be revealed through incidents that establish their character. This is who they are. Without this reliable core identity, we won’t be able to tell a story that forces them to change. 
4. Let readers picture your story with detailed description.
In the final stages of revision, you can begin improving the description with specific details.
It’s smart to start – or end – a chapter with a vivid, immediate scene. You want to leave readers with an image they can see in their minds, hopefully connected to the feeling you aim to evoke. You can close a chapter with a reference back to a motif or image, with a deeper or more reflective context; applying meaning to the metaphor. This will help readers feel engaged, be moved, and leave a lasting impact.
Vivid scenes are mostly a matter of detailed description, so add the specifics about the story environment. Be precise, not vague. Instead of “she put a plate of tea and snacks on the table” you can write “she gently placed an antique porcelain teapot on the table. I could smell it was Earl Grey from the scent of bergamot. The half-sleeve of Oreos and can of onion-flavored Pringles seemed incongruous with the fancy dishes, but I knew she was making an effort to welcome me.”
Focus on the sensations and feelings; but also zero-in on any potential sources of conflict or internal emotions or states of mind. In my example above, the host might be nervous or ashamed of her spread; or perhaps she has a degenerative brain disease and doesn’t notice the incongruity. Tensions are unspoken, potential sources of negative feelings. They hover in the background of your description.
Readers will remember the pictures you put in their heads, not the words on the page.
Description should serve and be bound to the story, not distract from it.
It should be squeezed into and around the scene action, when the protagonist is using or exploring.
Show what’s different, not what’s the same.
Leave space for readers to fill in the gaps, but get them started in the right direction so they aren’t surprised later.
Sidenote: be careful about your metaphors, analogies and similes. Each one will put a picture into readers’ minds, and it can quickly get overcrowded with imagery. You’re asking them to ignore your real scene and think of something else. Use them to confirm and amplify the scene you have, and limit distractions.
5. Prepare to publish.
Typos are bad, but perfectionism will ruin you. This section is about editing and proofreading, but I don’t have time for all that, and you don’t either. The real problem with a story is rarely the number of typos. A very clean book isn’t better if people stop reading.
You can solve a lot of common writing problems, with my big list of 25 common writing mistakes, and self-edit your manuscript to make it as good as possible. After that, a copyeditor or proofreader isn’t always the best investment (and it can also be the biggest publishing cost).
Instead, use an editing software (I like Grammarly) to root out obvious mistakes, but don’t dwell on the small stuff like perfecting every word or rearranging the commas. Spending a very long time wrestling a poorly-written manuscript in shape is less effective than getting something (actually) done to the point where you’re comfortable sharing it.
This may be difficult at first, but you can’t learn and improve without genuine reader feedback (from people who aren’t your mom or best friend; nor the short-sighted opinions of a self-proclaimed literature enthusiast). You need to find readers who enjoy your particular genre, and the sooner you find them, the more valuable feedback you can get.
Shorten the feedback loop: Get over the fear and focus on learning by getting feedback early and often. However, this doesn’t just mean joining a writer’s club: writers are brutal and might focus on trivial things. The safest bet is to make it public, on Wattpad at least. Or get a cheap cover and throw it up on Kindle, Draft2Digital or even your own blog.
Making it public is scary and vulnerable, but it’s better than letting the fear of messing up keep you from the brutal, necessary experience of allowing readers to tell you what they liked and disliked about your writing. Will some people be critical? Yes! But guess what, you’ll get negative reviews even if you’re a brilliant, famous writer. Those are inevitable. And the first negative reviews may teach you more about writing than 10 years attempting to self-edit, afraid of putting your book out into the world.
PS. You can use resources, like my 24-chapter plot outline, as a way to spot story gaps in your manuscript and improve the structure (especially if your book suffers from a “soggy middle.)
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Derek Murphy has a PhD in Literature, writes urban fantasy and is the founder of the alliance of young adult authors. More recently, he’s started sharing writing tips on
Top photo by Adegbenro Emmanuel Dipo on Unsplash.
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meimae · 21 days ago
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I'm early once again! Brought to you by my desperate need to continue my reading streak, here's a look at my September Immersion Overview!
This was an interesting month - I limited myself fully to just dramas (and a bit of Youtube) as listening and VNs as reading immersion and it has been pretty effective as I managed to immerse another 100 hours or so despite being busy. I remember dabbling in so many different media in April, and I honestly can't imagine how I managed to keep up with all those. Hopefully I can continue at this pace since this has been quite a fun month of immersion overall.
The Anki side of things have been quite successful as well since I was able to add so many new cards that I have now a total of 10,077 words in my mining deck only a few days after I hit 1.5 years of immersion. I wasn't too far behind after all!
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43.47 hours of dramas and Youtube
Code Blue 2 + 3 + Movie
Binged these at the beginning of the month. There was not one bad episode in this whole series, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to test their listening ability. It's extremely fast paced and there's never a dull moment.
Also, what a tease, my ship never sailed despite there being so many allusions to the possibility of there being more. (´;ω;`)
I think I watched til Week 2 of this before stopping in exchange for reading instead. Might pick it up again later. Really liked the kid version of the protag in the beginning, but there was so little of her.
Wanted something really easy to listen to and this was a good choice for that. This is one of those dramas that tries very hard to have a dramatic plot, but fails since its so short there's barely any time to do anything about it. Still, if you just want some really short and simple SOL drama that's pure fluff, then this is decent enough.
Was waiting the entire month for this to finish airing so I could binge it. This was fun to watch, and had a pretty fast paced story til the end. Could have stopped at episode 7 and not gone the stereotypical hospital scene route I would've been satisfied. This overused story trope of the girl being "ugly" and "changing" should really die though. Anyway, I don't think I've ever watched the original Kdrama, but I just might have to eventually.
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Reading has been so much fun lately thanks to visual novels. I managed to read another 67.83 hours this month, and I feel like I've gotten into the groove of reading again. I've been better at picking reading over listening for once and I'm really hopeful about keeping up with it in the months to come.
Continuing my streak from last month, I not only read a total of 1.15 million characters this month, but hit a few reading milestones such as reading for 7 hours and reading 100k characters in a day a few times. Pretty exciting to actually hit some of my reading goals, some of which at some point felt impossible.
A-are otoges the key? ( ゚д゚)
I can't stop thinking about this, I genuinely love it so much. I rated it a 9 in my review, but I keep thinking its worth a 10 since then.
Don't mind me, I'm holding myself back from giving an otoge a 10 when I really shouldn't be. I just need to read more VNs to be able to justify it. Like I don't want to be that person who hasn't read Fate or Higurashi or Clannad yet and rating stuff a 10 already. Lmao.
Read my review here!
Another otoge?!
This was my filler VN for the month - something easy to read while I was busy, so I can keep up with my daily character reading goal while spending less amount of time with it. This one feels really ridiculous, because my stats for this one is just as crazy as it was in 剣が君, and hopefully I'll be able to show you next month.
Gotta love the good and easy SoL VNs where dictionary lookups are minimal.
I'll be reading more next month - yet another otoge won the vote at TMW VN Club! Love that the otoge fans have the opportunity to actually vote for and win the polls in the club. Also pretty happy that the guys who did venture into reading 剣が君 have been seemingly as floored as the rest of us. Pleased that I found a really good, non-toxic Japanese language learning community online. ( ´∀`)
That's it for this month! Thanks for reading, and updates in the future as always.
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venteamocha · 7 months ago
Hello! Sometimes I see you post stuff from IF blogs and I've recently started playing some IF games, which I've enjoyed so far. Do you have any IF stories you'd recommend in particular? I'm not attached to any particular genre and I don't need romance or a self-insert main character, (though I'm not opposed to either). Though, it's a definite plus if it's LGBTQ+ inclusive! I'm not really sure what the "cornerstones" are of IF so I'll take any and all recommendations haha
Oh god, I play so many IFs. So many. And it’s not even close to all of them, but I’m trying!!
Tbh IFs without romance seems to be very rare, I think because when I think IF I think Choice of Games, and those pretty much always have romance in them. At least, the most well known ones do. But a well done one without romance would be nice too!
Okay, this is a list of my favourites! They’re all LGBT+ inclusive, and most have gender selectable love interests, or at least ones that change gender depending on the gender and sexuality combination you pick. In no particular order, of course.  Behind a cut because I’m gonna give them each a mini review. Because I haven’t done that yet.
(There are so many.)
Mind Blind: I absolutely love our big brother Nick, I love how witty and sharp so much of the dialogue is, I love how the MC clearly has a rather large handicap, but is still such an important person to so many people and not looked down on in the slightest. And when they are, we all know it’s because that person is a jerk! They’re not defined by what they aren’t, but what they are, and that’s a great message.
Shepherds of Haven: Part of why I love this one so much is I just love fantasy settings and this one just pulls it off so well. The cast is full of amazing characters, and I gotta say I die inside pretty regularly for not being able to afford the patreon content, lol. The author puts so much amazing stuff on there, and gives us so much great content in the game and through answers on tumblr, and you can tell this whole thing is just the best thing ever to them, and that makes it the best ever for us readers too!
The Wayhaven Chronicles: I’d be shot if I didn’t mention this one, the series that literally killed dashingdon when the book 3 demo dropped!! Again, another author that cares a lot and does their best to do right by their fans. We’ve been given drip after drip of these amazing characters backstories, and I just cannot wait for more! It’s definitely very romance centered, but the overall plotlines are also very good, and I have to say that no matter who I romance, I just feel like the group as a whole is a family. And that’s wonderful.
Speaker: I really like the lore. I really like the lore. I can’t wait until we get more of the overall plotline. Mostly I want my Speaker to get in deep trouble so Seb, Li and Seer (best sister ever) go off and beat the shit out of whatever is causing it. This probably says something about me, but what can I say, I thrive on angst and inflicting near death injuries on my OCs. Sometimes I even kill them, although all of this is offtopic. Or is it? I guess we’ll find out, although I doubt we’ll actually be able to kill off Speaker. And yes, I am definitely playing the Seb & Li poly route. I love them both so much. 
Wilhelmina: I love vampires, ok? Ok? And this one is based off Dracula!! The OG!! And you can choose Drac’s gender!! Shit, sign me up forever!! Yeah, she might be literally killing my bff, torturing my fiancé and low key fucking with my mind, but vampires are hot!! Let me live! Or not. But yeah, this is a really well done retelling of the Dracula novel and I like how well it works as an IF. Did I mention I like vampires?? Especially when they get all monstery?? (This one has an MC with a set gender, as it’s based on an already existing literary figure. Mina can have a same sex relationship with dracula, if you make drac a female, or with Lucy, a female love interest.)
More Things in Heaven and Earth: Hi Nell!! First off, I gotta uncover a deep shame of mine. My family literally has a Shakespeare heirloom collection. As in, my greatgrandfather passed down through the family a collection of Shakespeare that was published in 1911. In ye olde englishe. I tried to read it when I was like 10 and was like what language is this?? What the fuck? What the fuck??? And ended up reading As You Like It, a bit of Romeo and Juliet, and a little of Hamlet. Didn’t touch the rest of it. I only got into the other stories through trashy ya reimaginings. That said, this retelling of Hamlet inspired me to go read the whole of the original and now I have a lot of fears for these characters that I’m so much more attached to, oh god I hope my Ophelia has a happy ending. I hope Hamlet himself has a happy ending. The dialogue is so well done, everyone is engaging, and yeah it made me finish an old af book when nothing else did. (This one also has an MC with a set gender, female, for the same reason. However, there are two gender variable love interests, so you can very much play a bi or gay Ophelia if you so choose.)
Guenevere: I love King Arthur. All the myths. I have so many books based on the King Arthur mythos, oh dear god. I love pretty much every version of it. All the movie and tv shows too! I just can’t get enough of those knights. I could go on for paragraphs about how courtly love worked and how all the different social castes were, but I’ll try not to. This series lets you customize Guen as a character to an amazing degree, considering that she’s also based on an actual literary figure like the other two I mentioned above. It really feels like she becomes your own character, and yet she still exists within this world very very well. I worry quite a bit that the author might have bit off more than they can chew with the current book they’re working on, what I’ve seen of it looks absolutely massive in scale. What is out so far is a wonderful read though, full of drama and laughter and lots of chances to make the story your own.
Bastard of Camelot: Yep! Another King Arthur series! Sue me! This one lets you set Mordred’s gender though, so it’s more inclusive in that way. It is very interesting to play as one of the “bad guys” of the King Arthur mythos. You can play them as straight up evil, as good, or you know, a bit of column a and a bit of column b. Or they can just be a rude little shit. It’s got dragons too! You get a dragon pet! Dragons are cool. It can be a bit tough to play sometimes, since a lot of people dislike Mordred quite a lot because of prejudices. Hopefully this will change a bit later in the series if you’ve been a fairly good person up to that point. Gotta say though, as a warning, that Mordred is a product of incest. It’s not glossed over, and it does cause a lot of problems for them in the story.
God of the Red Mountain: I just love that this inspired me to read more chinese mythology tbh. There is just so much here! And it’s just such a good read. I wish I was better at describing things. The MC being a spirit that you can define, the whole setting, most of the love interests also being spirits, the massive amount of history and culture and lore, how it all fits together. It is such a well done story. I really wish it got more attention than it does. I still miss Big Sister. I still can’t wait to find out more about the foxes, and how we can heal our MC.
The Nameless: Another one that lets you play as something otherworldly. I love the lore behind this one, and I love all of the cast I’ve met. I kind of like that our MC isn’t loved right off the bat, that we’ll have to win over all of our love interests and even the other npcs. I’m up for the challenge! Everything I’ve read on the tumblr for these characters just makes me love them all more tbh. I love how much they’ve written for all of them! Most of all though, I love Oisein. All the art of them is just *chef kiss* and their personality is magical.
A Mage Reborn: This is a really recent one but!! Wow, it’s really well done! That cliffhanger!! Oof!! Not many books literally start with killing your MC off! That takes guts! I told the author this already, but I love the way they formatted this, the way it starts with the end, so to speak, and then fills it all out. It just made everything feel so poignant, how MC is literally looking back at all these moments in time in the last minutes they have before they die. Shit. That’s powerful. And there’s gonna be more??? Can’t wait for that angst. Give me that drama. Of course I picked the one who had me killed, that’s just how I am!
These are all just the COG type games, there are a few twine games with graphics I’d throw on here, but the list is long enough as it is and they feel like they’re in a different category to me. Maybe it’s just me?
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razberryyum · 11 months ago
Scumbag System (SVSSS donghua) Episode 10 Thoughts (spoilers)
(covers SVSSS chaps 24 - 26, BC Novels Translations)
And thus the first season of the SVSSS donghua comes to an end...rather weirdly abruptly to be honest, but more on that later. Obviously I love the donghua. It was not perfect, but it still exceeded my expectations. I truly appreciate what they were able to do within their budget constraints and I think they captured the spirit of the source material perfectly, which is really all I hope for when it comes to adaptations.  The writing was strong, the humor hit the spot always (for example, when poor Shizun got motion sickness from sword riding, I guffawed), and they also gave us some of the most beautiful characters I’ve ever seen on screen, especially with Shen Qingqiu, Luo Binghe and Liu Qingge. I really, really hope they release official figurines for them. I’m going to start saving my money now just for that possibility.
Even though their time together in this episode was short, the BingQiu love was definitely strong. They gave them a combo move that was not in the source material: for someone like me who grew up watching Cantonese dramas, two characters who have a combo sword move (”雙劍合璧”!) are usually a couple so I was especially tickled by this addition. I am always thankful to the donghua team for the little Easter Eggs they give us for BingQiu, like the way Binghe's eyes lit up when he sees SQQ... 
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or when SQQ touches him...
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Once again, for those not in the know, it can easily be interpreted as a disciple just being devoted and filial to his Shizun. But for those of us who have read the novel, of course we know it’s indication of Bingmei falling in love with SQQ. I love how subtle yet significant these little expressions of Binghe’s are, and I hope they continue on with these little touches even in the next season. 
Of course then there are the more obvious gestures, like that HUG:
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It lasted for a good 15 seconds and oh my God look at the Binghe’s hand placement!  There was totally nipple groppage happening there! This wasn’t in the book by the way...SQQ didn’t get woozy and Binghe most definitely didn’t have to catch him like some fainting damsel, so we have the donghua team to thank for this wonderful moment of (sexy) physical contact between the two of them. 
The donghua team was also especially generous in this episode since not only did we get some BingQiu love, but we got a pinch of LiuShen and QiJiu love too.
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LQG’s eyes were on SQQ the entire time! And then Yue Qingyuan as usual took any opportunity he got to touch his Qingqiu.  So all shippers were fed. Hell, they even threw in some more straight-baiting again so peeps who are watching the show for the “straight” romance between Luo Binghe and his never-to-be-future-wife Qin Wanyue were fed too since the scene where Binghe gives her the handkerchief to wipe away her tears were not in the chapters of the book for this episode, and racking my brain I don’t even think it was in the book, period. I’m trying to remember if that handkerchief even holds any significance but even if it does, it’s all for naught since we know Qin Wanyue is at most just a minor side character. She does pop up again later on but then is mostly forgotten, so...not quite sure what that moment was all about other than to, I don’t know, throw off the censors?
I’m also not sure why we spent so much time with Liu Mingyan and Gongyi Xiao in this episode. Nothing against them personally, I like both characters very much (despite my previous complaints about GYX’s character design), and it’s not that they don’t deserve more screen time, but this was the season finale! Even though the next season has been announced, God knows when we’ll see it next year and how many episodes it would be, so every minute of screen time matters! That’s why I was a bit puzzled that they used up half of the episode showing LMY basically facing the same perils with her group of fellow disciples as before and GYX just running from that huge serpent. Even if that thing DOES turn out to be Zhuzhi-lang, it was still a bit much. They weren’t exactly character building scenes either so...why? Budget reasons? Didn’t have enough money to pay SQQ’s voice actor (Wu Lei-laoshi) so they had to stick in miscellaneous scenes to lessen his screen time? 
I’m kidding of course. God I hope that wasn’t the reason because that would just be sad.
Speaking of miscellaneous scenes though, what was going on with these two dudes?
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I gotta admit, I’m a bit salty that these two mob characters got to do what our main couple can’t. What’s their story? Why do they get special privileges? Damn these nobodies. XD
All kidding aside, I have to say, of all the episodes this season, this might be the weakest one, not only because of the “filler” scenes, but also, the way the episode ended was so odd, especially for a season finale. The season basically ended on a scene transition. Not a cliffhanger, just a scene transition, and then cut to credits. What?? Why??? It’s almost as if they just ran out of time so had to stop the show all of a sudden. And then as if to make up for it, they added post-credit scenes which, honestly blew me away because it was so unexpected. It was indeed almost enough to make me completely forgive the weakness of the episode as a whole and that weird-ass ending.
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I teared up!  The scene was kind of chopped up, didn’t even flow that smoothly, but I still got emotional! I’m sure when I see this scene in its entirety next season I am just going to be destroyed. I think they made it even more gut-wrenching than it was in the novel. Looks like the donghua team really aren’t gonna hold back when it comes to delivering the BingQiu knives. 
We also got to see Mobei-jun appear in the post-credits scene; I guess they had to stick him in there since he was featured in the poster for this season, so it would have been weird if he didn’t at least make an appearance.
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I immediately thought of him as Sephiroth’s younger cousin when I first saw him on the poster and I still feel that way. Anyone related to Sephiroth, I will approve and instantly have affection for. For the MoShang shippers’ sake, I hope the Shang Qinghua they create for him will be just as pretty. I think I can now safely discard my guess from last time and also that moon-faced bearded ojisan others have guessed. We actually got a glimpse of the real deal in this sequence:
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They strategically made him blurry so you can’t really make out his features, but what we still can tell from there is that he does not have facial hair (hence, he cannot be the ojisan) and the hair crown he’s wearing is silver and different from the twinky sect leader. So I guess we’ll be getting a fresh out of the microwave Airplane Bro instead of any of the no-name potential cannon fodder we’ve already seen. 
We’ll probably get the abyss opening up in maybe even the first episode of next season but that’ll still leave a lot of ground to be covered in just 10 episodes (rumored). There haven’t been any talk about a third season, but I really hope it’ll happen, even though it might take them a while to make it. I know it’s premature to even think of a third season when we haven’t even gotten an actual release date for the second, but I’m greedy because I already miss the donghua. This season was over so quickly, I’m already mourning the lack of new episodes. I hope we get the second season in the first quarter of next year and then by some miracle, a third or even fourth to properly finish out the story. I know we will never get the FULL story, but as long as they keep the spirit of BingQiu’s love and continue to hint at it like they’ve been doing this season, I will be more than satisfied. 
And while I’m wishful thinking for new seasons, I hope we also get a BingQiu duet and character songs. I love the opening and ending theme this season, if they want to save money I totally don’t mind if they just use the same OP/ED themes in the next season as well, but I hope they throw in a good BingQiu insert song and then release some individual character songs as well. I’m still not a fan of Binghe’s voice, but maybe they can have someone else do his vocals for the songs. SVSSS is the older son of MXTX’s works, I feel like it already got short-shrifted in terms of adaptation since it got the lesser budget compared to MDZS and TGCF. Hopefully with how popular the donghua is this season, it will be given a bigger budget next season so they can bring to life all the subsequent proceedings from the book properly. And whatever they’re paying Wu Lei-laoshi, SQQ’s voice actor, they should double it because that man is just amazing. I worship his voice and performance. I wish he would read the audiobook version of the the novel. I would listen to the hell out of that.  I have always loved SQQ, but if I’m going to be honest, I came into the show just a little more excited about seeing Bingge being brought to life. I still love Binghe of course, in all his phases, however, now,  because of Wu Lei-laoshi’s stellar voice performance (and of course SQQ’s beautiful looks), I’m leaving this season absolutely head over heels about SQQ/Shen Yuan. Also thanks to the show, I’m completely obsessed with Liu Qingge as well.  So for those two reasons, I will eternally be grateful to the donghua team.  
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lilydalexf · 8 months ago
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Old School X is a project interviewing X-Files fanfic authors who were posting fic during the original run of the show. New interviews are posted every Tuesday.
Interview with Piper Sargasso
Piper Sargasso has 25 stories at Gossamer, but don’t miss her website where the fics each have cover collage art. If you are a fan of Mulder/Scully romance, there are a lot of MSR fics to read that are set in different seasons of the show. But like the show that never stuck to one type of story, Piper’s stories have variety, so you can also find AUs and /Other.  Big thanks to Piper for doing this interview.
Does it surprise you that people are still interested in reading your X-Files fanfics and others that were posted during the original run of the show (1993-2002)?
It does, but I love that people are still into it! Writers back in the day put so much work and love into their writing, and it's nice to know that the stories are still being appreciated to this day. As for my own stories, it puts a huge smile on my face to know there are still people out there checking them out and hopefully enjoying them.
What do you think of when you think about your X-Files fandom experience? What did you take away from it?
It was such a positive period of my life. I made some amazing friends who became something like older sisters (and some brothers) to me, even though I was a little ridiculous when I was in my early to mid-twenties. It was also a much-needed confidence booster. I was a pretty shy person and loved writing, but never had the nerve to show anything to anyone. My first fanfic was completely horrible, but because of it I made my first XF friend and super beta, Mimic117. Between her guidance and the encouraging words from my Yahoo group I was able to do something I really loved and felt great about myself and my abilities for the first time. That will stay with me forever. That first story was truly atrocious, but it was a catalyst for great things in my life when I needed them the most.
Social media didn't really exist during the show's original run. How were you most involved with the X-Files online (atxc, message board, email mailing list, etc.)?
I remember trying this cool new thing called an AOL chat room, but they were more interested in perving on each other than talking about the show. Once I knew about fanfiction I kept seeing that some of my favorite authors kept mentioning IWTBXF in their notes, a Yahoo group named I Want to Believe. I looked it up, joined, and with great trepidation made my introductory post. Everyone was so warm and welcoming, and talking to my favorite authors in the group was a little like meeting a celebrity and finding out that they're awesome in real life. After IWTBXF fell apart, an off-shoot called Beyond the Sea was created with almost all of the original group transferring over. I stuck to my little family there and didn't branch out into much else, other than the rare dip into Haven. Ephemeral and Gossamer, of course.
What did you take away from your experience with X-Files fic or with the fandom in general?
Mostly the overwhelming feeling of acceptance and confidence to write, something I was sorely lacking before in my life. I fell in with the best group, that's for sure! They made me feel like being a professional writer could be an achievable goal.
What was it that got you hooked on the X-Files as a show?
The commercial advertising. The pilot spoke to my supernatural-loving, angsty 15 year-old soul. I watched it religiously every week. There was nothing like it. It was off-beat, but serious (most of the time) and fulfilled my insatiable craving for the paranormal and weird. You just couldn't get that from Melrose Place and Beavis and Butthead, you know? It definitely helped that David Duchovny was adorable and the character of Scully was the strong and intelligent icon we needed in the 90's and beyond.
What got you involved with X-Files fanfic?
In high school I had a friend who was as obsessed with the show as I was. Maybe more, since she once had a slumber party that was exclusively to binge watch her taped episodes (the other girls who wanted to mess around with spells and the Ouija board weren't thrilled that she couldn't be swayed away from it) and she often drove me from play rehearsals in her convertible with the top down and the theme song blasting to the heavens, much to my delight and mortification. A couple years after we graduated she told me about the piece of fanfic she wrote. Insert a record screech here. What?! You mean there are thousands of stories dedicated to my favorite show? And hundreds more get added every month?! I was obsessed. If I could've stopped working and slept at my computer desk I would have.
What is your relationship like now to X-Files fandom?
Sadly it's nonexistent these days. I have great memories and it holds a big piece of my heart, but I haven't been active in a long time. I would love to see a huge revival, and would definitely want to be involved in that in some way, were it to happen.
Were you involved with any fandoms after the X-Files? If so, what was it like compared to X-Files?
I read a lot of Harry Potter fanfiction for a while, but I never could expend the kind of energy and time I did for the X-Files fandom. It came at a perfect time in my life, and so far nothing else has measured up to it.
Who are some of your favorite fictional characters? Why?
Besides XF characters? Off the top of my head I really love Hermione Granger, Buffy Summers, Elizabeth Bennet, and Claire Fraser for their sass and strength of character, Severus Snape for his complexity, and Christina Ricci's version of Wednesday Addams for her pure awesomeness. She's pretty much my spirit animal.
Do you ever still watch The X-Files or think about Mulder and Scully?
I do occasionally. I watched the series from season 1-7 so many times that I started to burn out, but I get on my X-Files kicks sometimes and binge it again.
Do you ever still read X-Files fic? Fic in another fandom?
Like with the show, I'll get nostalgic and need to consume all the fanfics my greedy little eyes can behold until I move on to something else. It can feel a little lonely though, if you'll excuse the drama. We're not in the heyday anymore, so it feels a little like walking through a ghost town. Many of the stories out there are suspended in time because the show ended, or people stopped writing.
Do you have any favorite X-Files fanfic stories or authors?
I know I have dozens, but I'm drawing a blank. My ultimate favorite is any well-written MSR casefile with UST finally resulting in RST. Those are my unicorns!
What is your favorite of your own fics, X-Files and/or otherwise?
I have a silly one called Baby, It's Cold Outside that I sometimes read around Christmastime. It was a fluffy song-fic, but I can see the scene so clearly in my mind when I read it and it's just pure fun. I also like my Donnie Pfaster series. I can see the potential in my writing with those, which makes me feel I could really write something special someday. Plus, he's such an interesting little slimeball to write and read about. Bless his heart.
Do you think you'll ever write another X-Files story? Or dust off and post an oldie that for whatever reason never made it online?
I still think about the two WIPs I haven't finished. I wrote myself into a corner with This Mortal Coil, and honestly I think it needs a total overhaul. I think Dana Scully's Diary would be a fun one to finish. I hate that I never finished them.
Do you still write fic now? Or other creative work?
I think about writing fanfic now and then and I've had a couple original novels sketched out, but there are so many other demands on my time that I haven't gotten very far. I still plan to see the novels through, even if no one but interested friends and family read them.  
Where do you get ideas for stories?
I used to watch an episode and really study the actors' expressions and actions, always trying to find new angles to the stories we all know. A lot of times things would just come to me and I'd get so excited I couldn't sleep until I wrote a good chunk of it down.
What's the story behind your pen name?
The friend who introduced me to fanfic told me the best way to choose a pen name was to make sure it derives from the show. For a couple days I looked at the titles and summaries of episodes and agonized over just the right name. Finally Piper Maru and the summary from Triangle, which mentions the Sargasso sea, stood out and just clicked.
Do your friends and family know about your fic and, if so, what have been their reactions?
My now husband always knew, and he thought it was cool that I had a hobby that made me so happy, but he was never a reader. My parents found out when I was about 24 and my step-dad would tell EVERYONE about it, much to my horror. Most reactions were of the bland, "Oh yeah? That's nice." variety but I definitely got some weird looks from others. The worst was when I found out how much of my racier MSR stories my parents read. My step-dad thought it was hilarious and teased me a little. My usually open-minded mom was uncomfortable, but tried to be supportive. It's all fun and games until your daughter starts writing psuedo-erotica for anyone to see!
Is there a place online (tumblr, twitter, AO3, etc.) where people can find you and/or your stories now?
Circe Invidiosa very generously hosts a page for me at
(Posted by Lilydale on January 26, 2021)
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akwardlyuncool · 6 months ago
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Life As We Know It (2004-2005) - Review
Based on the 2003 novel “Doing It” by Melvin Burgess, Life As We Know It follows 6 High School Sophomores on their journey to actually “Doing It.” It’s mainly from the perspective of the 3 very ignorant guys, Dino (Sean Faris), Ben (Jon Foster) and Johnathan (Chris Lowell), but the girls, Jackie (Missy Peregrym), Deborah (Kelly Osbourne) and Sue (Jessica Lucas), don’t fall short on sharing some of their vast naivety as well.
I’m on a mission, not really, but a not-so-guilty-pleasure of mine has been to watch and discover a good chunk of all the late 90′s/early to mid 2000′s Teen/Twenty Somethings, Drama tv shows and movies. Yes we can blame Degrassi and The OC and Dawon’s Creek and any other generic suburban teen show with a non-generic Emo Soundtrack. All prime and all shows I own the soundtracks to.
I vaguely remember some Google search telling me that this show was a spin off to Dawson’s Creek, which turned out to most likely be a show called “Young American’s” and not Life As We Know It, but that’s how this show got added to my long list of shows in this category to watch. Since that search, probably after my watch of Dawson’s Creek ended, I’ve ear marked it as one to eventually get my hands on. I’ve owned the book forever, not knowing the connection, but when I finally started the search to be able to watch the show, that’s when I was made aware of the two being linked and also when I decided it was time to read the thing, cause you know #sourcematerial. That being said, I only made it to chapter 2 before putting it down, picking something else up and eventually getting a hold of the series DVD and deciding to consume that first.
Since I did just finish the show (all of it’s 13 episodes) I’m more motivated to pick the book back up, but let’s just say that one chapter I did read, felt like a lot for me, so hopefully I’ve been desensitized. However I might still be just as uncomfortable as I was before.
Long story short, here we are. High school was never this “cool” or eventful for me, but I crave this particular aesthetic so much. There was definitely parts of the show that felt like that awkward and cringe, but cool 2005 of my “dreams” and then other parts that felt like the massively uncomfortable and sometimes plain wrong humor, of the early 2000′s that we all want to chuck in the trashcan. I say this all the time, but I really do try and take these shows for what they are and not over analyze every move in them because I know if I do that with all my progressive thoughts of today, I would never be able to get any enjoyment out of them whatsoever. But...... that doesn’t mean I throw all my common sense out the window, I’ve just learned how not to let certain thoughts bring me down. (It’s basically how I was able to consume all of Sex and The City, in all of it’s problematic glory in 2020.)
Part of me wonders if this show and shows like it however, are actually any good or if I’m just holding onto that idealistic vision of TV show high school that I apparently love so much? Or maybe buried underneath all of it’s predatory behavior, misogyny and cheesy ideals of lust verses love, it works because it was swimming in the the easy part of deep end of the honesty pool. We talk about these shows like their so real and cutting edge for being open about sex and pain and life and in some ways they are when we’re 16 and living all of this, but again it’s just TV and I sure wasn’t living any of this. (Probably because of my religious upbringing though.)
“Final” Thoughts:
Basically what I’m saying, is that this show is good or decent to someone like me who unironically likes this sort of thing, but there has to be a reason it only had one season, barely got two bonus episodes and still ended before it had time to properly close out the season, let alone the series. Mostly generic, I just happen to still be pretty engaged the whole time.
Theme Review:
Gonna start reviewing theme songs with my reviews, cause it’s often one of my favorite parts.
Sooner or Later by Michael Tolcher
The chorus to this song is the perfect 30 seconds to encompass this series. Facing the idea of being a naive know-it-all, but knowing that one day you’ll humble yourself and laugh about how ridiculous you once were, even if you haven’t realized that foresight yet. It’s coming of age perfection, even though it does ride probably a bit too on the noes.
PS: Micheal Tolcher and the album that this song is from “I Am” is totally giving me some Upbeat Emo, Secular Christian vibes, especially with songs like Sun Song, and I’m for sure diggin it. (This comes from a person who some of her favorite songs are I’ll Be by Edwin McCain and Come On Get Higher by Matt Nathanson, so you know where my stuff lies lol.)
Some Bonus Thoughts: (SPOILERS INCLUDED!)
*In no particular order.
I don’t know who made the “hot for teacher” romance a viable trope, but it’s so hard to laugh at, let alone ship in any capacity. (Please don’t ship that ish.)
They tried so hard to make it kinda a big deal as it ended, but also not a big deal by just laughing through and playing into the decades old teenage boy fantasy about getting with your teacher.
I still think Ben’s brother was trash for getting with her afterwards though. The situation is wrong, full stop, and although his brother is legally allowed to date/other, Ms. Young, he is still Ben’s brother at the end of the day.
It was also wild how Ms. Young acted so petty and jealous over some high school girls, like at 23 don’t you have better control over your feelings. (That’s all relative though cause her age didn’t manage for her to be too mature about much.)
I really enjoy Chris Powell’s teen drama roster cause he plays cute and nerdy really well. (Site: Veronica Mars, but his stint on Private Practice was great too.)
Yes. Sean Faris does in fact play the teen heartthrob in the movie The Sleepover, in case you watched the whole series and didn’t realize where his face had been until half way through, like me.
Don’t ask why but I spent most of the show thinking that Jon Foster was the same guy who played Ricky (Daren Kagasoff) from The Secret Life of The American Teenager.
I know communication is hard for a lot of teenagers, but so much of the relationship drama in this show could have been rectified if they only just talked to each other in a timely manner instead of playing the passive aggressive game the whole time.
I’m sorry but it’s hard for me to believe that Dino was so emotionally distraught that he couldn’t at the very least cry in Jackie’s face after he shows up at her house that night after he saw his mom cheating. I get him being traumatized and not want to go through with sex like they planned, but it took him over a week and many instances of being a full on jerk later before he decided some form of honesty was the best way to proceed.
Why does the alternative rock chick somehow always manage to be shown as the promiscuous rebel? Zoe was done dirty.
Just because you dress like 2003 Avril Lavigne doesn’t mean you have a predisposition to beer at high school sporting events  and sexual openness in classrooms you don’t attend.
This show tried to be better by having two of them, but it’s obvious that, good or bad, fat-phobia is the reason Kelly Osbourne’s character (Deborah) wasn’t the one fully placed in that role.
Mia, Deborah’s mom was kinda in the wrong for getting with Micheal, but only because she considers both Annie and Micheal (Dino’s parents) friends and didn’t like keeping secrets from either of them. Rock and a hard place y’all.
Mia was also hella wrong for holding her grudge against her ex over her daughter’s head.
I think Jonathan was just as wrong in all the ways he was a jerk and a “cheater” as Dino and Ben, but that nice guy syndrome apparently made it so he didn’t get chewed out as hard in his character arch. Oh the things “nice guys” who may come off as slightly sensitive, only get slightly punched in the arm for.
Not gonna lie William Miller (Sue’s Dad) gave off total Black Republican vibes.
It is totally unrealistic for even the “nerdy” popular guys to have those kinds of abs. Just sayin.
Yes, we’re all fans of early-ish Peter Dinklage, but who else thought he shared too much about Dino’s issues with Dino’s mom?
I know he just wanted to call her out cause his main concern was Dino, but still it felt like it wasn’t his place to confront her.
I know back then you could only go so far with emerging teen sexuality, but this show could have had at least 2 more seasons easy.
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arcaneranger · a year ago
Final Thoughts - 2019 Long Shows
Dear Lord. This is where all the good shows went.
2019 was absolutely awful on a season-by-season basis (except for Summer, anyway), but that’s mostly because most of the best shows ran longer than what has become the industry norm of a single season. And indeed, heading into the new decade, we seem to be seeing a major renaissance for two- or split-cour shows, given the massive success seen by shows like My Hero Academia, Food Wars, and Haikyuu!!..particularly in comparison to the new perpetual-runners Black Clover (which, despite running for over two straight years now, is still not the most popular show of Fall 2017 by viewer count on MAL, and sits at a ‘meh’ 7.2), and even worse, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, which is faring even worse on both counts even though it premiered two whole seasons earlier and the fact that it is the sequel to Naruto.
As a reminder of my rules, the shows on this list may or may not have premiered in 2019, but they finished airing this year. The split-cour rule (stating that I judge any show that “finishes” and then premieres a “new season” within six months) didn’t come into play for any 2018 shows, but it will for Ascendance of a Bookworm and Food Wars this year, at the very least.
With that being said! 25 shows running longer than thirteen episodes finished airing this year after being simulcast, and of those…
I skipped 6:
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part V: Golden Wind, Fairy Tail Final Series, A Certain Magical Index III, Ace Attorney Season 2 and Cardfight Vanguard (2018) because I either dropped or have not finished their previous (also long-running) seasons.
Yu-Gi-Oh VRAINS because the simulcast started late and also it was bad.
I Dropped 8:
Worst Long Show of 2019: The Rising of the Shield Hero
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It’s always fun to see that a show you hated from its first episode only gets more and more distasteful afterwards, but it’s less fun when a service you have to promote because they’re the legal option is forced to shove it down your throat because they had a hand in making it and it became a massive hit that your friends don’t see any issue with because the author wrote a story that justifies its hero’s patronage of the slave industry. This is my punishment for watching the whole first season of The Asterisk War before I knew better.
YU-NO: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world
A confusing mess from the word go, this ill-fated adaptation of a visual novel from the nineties seems like it was mostly made to cash in on the popularity of the Science Adventure series, but failed to present itself in a way that made an ounce of sense or looked remotely interesting.
Fairy Gone
Am I really the only one that saw potential here? I mean yes, it ended up a boring slog that didn’t care to move its plot in a meaningful direction, but the first episode was at least cool. I guess Izetta: The Last Witch should have taught me better.
We Never Learn
I know that I’m in the minority in terms of the male demographic for shows like this, but honestly, how are bland harem shows still this easy to market? A copy-pasted protagonist with copy-pasted waifus drag down what could be an interesting setup for a story. 
Karakuri Circus
The first episode of this one had me excited, the second and third left me bored to tears and wondering if it would continue to look uglier by the minute. I haven’t seen a three-cour show look this janky since Knight in the Area.
Having heard good things about this show from my cohorts, I do feel bad for saying I’ll probably never return to Radiant, but when you have a show that’s notably written by a European author...and it turns out to be a frustratingly standard shounen affair with middling production values, well, you can see my earlier annoyance with Cannon Busters.
Ensemble Stars
This one still gets to me. It almost looked like a male-idol show I would finally be able to get behind, what with its rebellious attitude and oddball setting...that is, until the setting got to be too unbelievable and the show began drowning its audience in side-characters because they had to squeeze every husbando from the mobile game into the story, and it all began to resemble UtaPri a little too much...but without the production value.
Boogiepop and Others
This was a hard drop, honestly. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I felt four episodes in, before concluding that I was bored and not particularly invested, two things that should never describe the experience of watching a Madhouse show. The fact that this was the project responsible for ruining One Punch Man only made it worse. There’s a slow burn, and then there’s walking away without turning the stove on.
And I Finished 11 (holy crap that’s like three hundred episodes just on their own).
That Time I Was Reincarnated as a Slime (5/10 & 1/10)
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I’ll be honest, I had forgotten just how livid I was with the ending (and especially the sad excuse of a recap episode) of Slimesekai, and reading back through my write-up of it, it’s certainly coming back to me. While this year had bigger demons to fight (Shield Hero), the bad taste that Slime left me with hasn’t really faded, and the wasted premise bugs me to this day.
Hinomaru Sumo (7/10)
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What Hinomaru lacked in production value, it happily made up for in good execution and earnest heart. I can’t believe this came from the same studio as Conception, Try Knights and 7Seeds, but if they can only get out one good show a year, I’m glad that we got one bringing attention to a sport that many will joke about but few understand, respect and appreciate.
Kono Oto Tomare (7/10)
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Speaking of giving love to traditional Japanese culture, here’s a decent-if-unoriginal show about a local high school koto club down on their luck, and the troubled teens coming together under a scrappy protagonist to bring it back to life. Kono Oto Tomare doesn’t have much that you haven’t seen before, but a decently-executed club drama with Your Lie In April-inspired musical performances is more than enough to keep me interested, and since Forest of Piano kinda crashed and burned under the weight of its own self-importance this year, it was nice to have an alternative.
MIX: Meisei Story (8/10)
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It’s hard to judge MIX next to the other shows on this list because it’s almost too old-school for its own good, revelling in an eighties storytelling style that didn’t end up jiving with a wide audience this year. But at the same time, its fun character dynamics (and a very good dub from Funimation, despite them saying they’d never touch sports anime again) were very entertaining to watch, even if it didn’t focus as much on the sport it was supposedly about as much as I’d have liked.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba (8/10)
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I fully admit that I’m very salty about the fact that this won Show of the Decade in Funimation’s poll while it was still on and I thought there were hundreds of more deserving shows, but I can’t deny that Demon Slayer was a very enjoyable experience, albeit one that I had notable problems with. That’s not gonna stop me from getting mad when it sweeps the Anime Awards in a few weeks, though.
Fire Force (8/10)
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I was very afraid that David Productions wouldn’t be able to match the energy of Studio Bones’ adaptation of Ohkubo’s previous work, Soul Eater, but I was happy to be proven wrong. Even if the last few episodes contained a bit too much infodumping, it was all sandwiched between jaw-dropping fight scenes that proved that the people who make Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure can still handle the reins of a more traditional action show.
Fruits Basket 1st Season (8/10)
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I know that my score for this one is a bit lower than others, but I think that Fruits Basket did pretty well in its first season, considering that it was largely spent setting up future storylines and adapting the part of the manga we’d all seen before, but with much higher production value. I’ve been familiar with this part of the story for over a decade, and the scene with Tohru and Kyo (you know the one) still made me cry. Now, we get the real plot going.
Dr Stone (9/10)
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A great start to a totally new spin on shounen, Dr Stone gives me hope for survival in the post-Shokugeki world in which we’ll soon live, as a show that wears its research on its sleeve. A complex plot weaving interesting characters in and out of a narrative surrounding a philosophical battle where both sides actually do have fair points (even if one of them is going about it in a pretty cruel manner). More please.
Vinland Saga (9/10)
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Once again, a great start to what will hopefully be years of quality storytelling, Vinland Saga made it seem like it was dragging in the middle only to reveal just what its slow burn had been leading up to, with twist-heavy storytelling and a fantastic cast to match the high visual quality of its brutal battles.
Run With the Wind (9/10)
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It’s not often that Production I.G. gets to make a complete, fully-realized show anymore, and this one was a glorious reminder of the potential of the studio in the TV space, and a great rebound for the director of Joker Game. It’s gorgeous to look at, the cast is wonderful, and the story is both realistic and idealistic in a satisfying balance. It’s a miserable process to get to the finish line in real life, but sitting back and watching this was nothing but a treat. At least, until a minor fumble at the end.
Best Long Show of 2019: Dororo (9/10)
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Speaking of complete stories, Tezuka Productions and MAPPA teamed up for a breathtaking adaptation of an underappreciated Tezuka classic that expands upon the story in exactly the right way to create a thrilling, savage, beautiful masterpiece that focuses a laser-sharp eye into the relationship between two characters in their journey to, literally and figuratively, become complete people. Also, that opening was killer.
And that’s it! That’s the fun list. Next comes the painful one. Stay tuned for the trash heap.
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teejaysnow · a year ago
Did anyone ever translate Tarjei’s Elle interview? Because I’ve been having trouble sleeping (*fistbumps Isak*) the last couple of days and ended up doing it to try and beat my brain into something at least slightly unconscious. So for anyone interested, here it is...
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Annoyingly adult
It’s just about six months since the last day of school, and work has been lining up for 19 year old Tarjei Sandvik Moe, aka Isak in Skam. Now he’s once again ready to take the viewers by storm, both in cinema- and theatre auditoriums. This fall we’ll see him both in the thriller En Affære and in the family show Snøfall. And he has several, so far secret, projects coming up.
After the last episode of the successful series Skam had rolled past the screen, 24th June last year, the days were all but relaxed for Tarjei Sandvik Moe, known as Isak Valtersen in the series. In addition to finishing his last year at the drama programme at Nissen high school, he was active in the theatre group Antiteatret and taking part in the production of the musical Grease, which was performed at Chateau Neuf from January to March this year. He’s acted in a historical play at Smøla and, not least, landed his first movie role. Now he’s to be seen on cinema screens around the country in En Affære, side by side with film and theatre veteran Andrea Bræin Hovig. Tarjei himself is just grateful for all the work, and deals with his hectic schedule with an offhand approach.
“These days it’s neverending with theatre rehearsals at Oslo Nye Teater, I’m in the production of Snøfall, which premieres at the beginning of November. At the same time there are a lot of interviews and work associated with En Affære. And I’ve just moved away from home for the first time, together with two friends. Things are working out so far, I can’t complain. And it’ll probably be easier than when I went to Nissen anyway. There I worked every day after school in addition to me being a sociable guy who likes to go out on the weekends. Mum said that I was going to burn out, but fortunately it went well.”
The interest in theatre and acting came as he shelved football practice and signed up for a musical course as the only boy among 20 girls.
“It’s a pity that it’s basically only girls who do musicals and dance, it’s so much fun. I learnt early on in the course how important it is to just not give a fuck. I didn’t have any experience with either singing or dancing at that time, and I think that’s helped me a lot as an actor as well - to be able to let loose is important. I probably hadn’t been comfortable taking these photos for ELLE a couple of years ago for example. To sit in that bar and focus 100 percent on the photographer - and give everything to get a good photo. You can’t be very self conscious then.”
Being able to put the self consciousness aside was also helpful when some of the more intimate scenes in En Affære were to be filmed. The film is described as an erotic thriller and is about the relationship between a PE teacher, played by Bræin Hovig, and her pupil Markus, played by Tarjei. He himself thought it was completely unproblematic to both film the scenes and watch the final result on a big screen.
“It’s almost like I’m not seeing myself. I don’t know why, but I’ve realised that it takes quite a lot to make me embarrassed. I’m totally fine with doing scenes like that without feeling that it’s awkward or difficult. So I’m looking forward to seeing how far I can take it in the future, where is, like, my limit. Because I have yet to experience thinking that, ‘no, this isn’t working…’ or that something is uncomfortable. And of course it’s an advantage to act against someone who is the same in that area. Like Andrea. We were so comfortable with each other that it never was weird. We laughed in between takes, had fun and were friends. We recorded some sex scenes, and then there was a coffee break,” he laughs and continues:
“Before I got this part I’d been thinking that I wanted to play exactly that kind of role, that it would have been fun and something I could have done well, so it’s a bit funny that it happened. I also like the character I play a lot, he has an incredibly confident and masculine way of presenting himself. It’s like he wears a mask when enacting with others, and that reminded me a lot of the typical footballer guys in my team during secondary school. Those athletic types from the West End of Oslo, I did know a lot of those. And it’s a bit amusing to play someone who doesn’t just remind you of, and are similar to, yourself, but where you can recall people you have met and use that in the role. Recall how they moved, behaved and talked.”
Due to the role as Isak in Skam, the slightly insecure and anxious boy who had trouble understanding and accepting his homosexuality, Tarjei feels like many people are surprised by how different he is in relation to the part he played.
“I often play slightly insecure people, so I understand that many people think that I’m like that too. But I’m really very secure in myself, and a true people person. I’m always delighted and happy to meet new people.”
But despite his sociable self he isn’t as delighted with all the attention from strangers that followed his success.
“There are people who want to take photos and talk to me and stuff, which is nice. What I don’t like as much is the feeling you can get that someone maybe just laugh at things I say because I’m well-known and not because they actually find them funny. That people are more interested in me than they should be. I’m just a completely ordinary guy, and what I say and do isn’t necessarily more interesting than what others say and do. You can get thoroughly paranoid by things like that, but I try not to think too much about it.”
As everyone knows it wasn’t just here at home that the NRK series was a great success. The fans reaches from Europe to the USA and Asia, and many got so interested in the actors that they went to Oslo in hope to get a glimpse of their idols. And that became a bit much, even for the outgoing and sociable Tarjei.
“Skam was aired on TV when I attended Nissen, and there were at times huge groups of Asian tourists in the schoolyard during breaks. The principal finally had to let them know that they weren’t allowed inside the school. And there are many foreign fans attending my theatre performances who are there just to film and take photos of me without understanding anything of what’s being said on stage. It’s rather weird and a bit uncomfortable. Julie Andem told me, before Skam had completely taken off, that you don’t have to feel like you owe somebody something just because you play a part that might mean a lot to people. So I have very little guilt about not giving a lot of myself to the fans. I’m not on social media where I bow and say thanks for all the love and attention. My job is to act, and part of that package is that I’m on TV and people can see me, and that’s fine. But I don’t feel like it’s part of my job, or my responsibility, to use a lot of my time on fans.”
While many of the series’ actors have hundreds of thousands of followers from all over the world on Instagram and willingly share their lives there, Tarjei chose to delete his account when his stardom really took off.
“I had Instagram before, but deleted it between season 1 and 2 of Skam. I realised that I couldn’t walk around and think about it. It just steals your focus. I hear from others that it’s important to have it to promote yourself, but I think that it’s just as good to do interviews and stuff like that on occasion. Not try to control how I want to portray myself through an Instagram account. But of course you won’t always be portrayed as you’d want by doing interviews either. I want to be honest, but not revealing. Before I became famous I thought I’d never do interviews and rather be like some kind of mole who just appeared here and there, but it’s often part of the contract that you will promote the projects you do. My work isn’t really finished just because the director says cut for the last time.”
It’s not just acting that occupies the busy 19-year old's time. He’s also working on writing his own scripts and dreams about producing both short films and musicals.
“I’m doing a bit of writing already, but I want to get a bigger understanding for dramaturgy and storytelling. I don’t think I could write novels, but I feel that writing scenes are in a way more like being an architect. You make some sort of blueprint. To work as a director would probably not be for me, but to see something based on my thoughts and texts would be incredibly cool. I’ve tried a lot of genres and am very fond of contemporary drama in a setting I, and hopefully a lot of others, can recognise.”
For someone still in his teens, Tarjei has achieved incredibly much careerwise, and he says that he often feels ‘annoyingly adult’ when he, unlike his friends, turns down a gap year and to ‘travel to find himself’. The plans for the future are clear, both in terms of career and where to live.
“To me, the story I tell through the roles that I play is more important than how big something is or how much money I make. I enjoy performing something on a tiny scene in front of 20 people just as much as being on a big film set as long as the story is good. That’s why I’m not eager to for example travel abroad to ‘go get it’ just to have done it. I don’t dream about trying my luck in the USA. Norway is fine, and Oslo is my universe. I’m a very interested and curious person, but not so adventurous when it comes to exploring the world. It’s fun to go on holiday, but I don’t feel the need to live anywhere else than Oslo. There are still so many exciting people here that I haven’t met yet.”
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adventure-hearts · a year ago
LAST EVOLUTION: Kizuna — Thoughts and first impression.
So, I watched the thing and wrote down some quick thoughts.
I'm glad to say I liked it very much and it's a lot better than the novel! 
(In fact, there were a few lines I thought were slightly different.)
Overall this is a very well-made movie, and a great addition to the Adventure canon. The animation, the music, and the voice acting were great. This must look fantastic on the big screen (Thanks TOEI, for making me watch it first via a crap version, and for forcing me to read the novelization in advance).
Story-wise, the first half is amazing. I loved the procedural / thriller aspect of it (“Is this a spy movie?” I WISH. Yamato is by far the best character in it, once again. The 02 kids were on point and USEFUL! The battle scenes were spectacularl-looking but, in my view, maybe a little excessive? The last big battle in particular seemed to drag a little, and the second half of the movie suffers a little because of that. But it’s an entertaining film throughout.
The implications of the "new twist" about the broken bonds are super interesting, and I can think of a million plot ideas and analyses this could inspire. I can understand why the idea didn’t please Kakudou, but I think it’s a cool addition to the mythos. 
I haven’t had time to think about “Plot holes” or “inconsistencies” at this point, but I thought Kizuna was pretty respectful of previous canon. I’m going to have a fun time overanalyzing every frame of this eventually (International Chosen Cameos!!!)
Now for the not-so-good parts. Honestly, when I read the novel I was a bit disappointed for three main reasons, which the film kinda cemented:
1) The plot is unimaginative and even repetitive. It felt like threading old ground, most of the time. Sure, they’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here and, in some ways, this film seems like a course correction — a film that is meant to be as uncontroversial and safe as possible. In fact, in some parts Kizuna feels very warm and cuddly, and I can see this becoming a comfort film in the future.
Not getting into the discussion about who did it better, but the profile of the antagonist, the theme/emotional conflict of the film, and even the “loosing the digimon, possibly permanently” scenario were extremely reminiscing of the most recent installment. There’s a few too many references to the Hosoda films. This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, and in getting a more conventional / familiar plot IS FINE, but I do think some new-ish elements could have made it a tiny bit fresher.
2) The majority of the characters are treated very poorly. Mimi, Jou, and especially Sora are completely pushed aside and ignored in a way that is almost infuriating. And yes, even the 02 kids felt like "not enough", precisely because they were so good and what we get is little and a bit superficial. Iori and Ken in particular also barely had lines! 
Also — you drop a bomb like “the Digimon will essentially die on the kids” and yet, except for Menoa (who reacts badly) Taichi and Yamato (who react healthily), you don’t really show how it happens, how the other characters react, or even what they feel about it?
This universe has a “12 protagonists" issue, and absolutely no sequel so far has been able to address satisfactorily. But I can't help but to feel that the first short film, and possibly subsequent ones, should have fitted in the movie (it wasn’t even 90 minutes long!) and made it more balanced. Hopefully these next short films will mitigate this complaint to some extent.
3) The ending of the movie ends up feeling emotionally unsatisfying. Yeah, I understood what they were trying to do ("We gotta keep moving forward!" "Let the past die, kill it if you have to!” “isn't exactly subtle). But even the emotional punch of the final scenes doesn't land that well because we already know it's not definitive. Toy Story 3 this isn't! At the end of the film, more than commiserate with Taichi and Yamato (that scene was heartbreaking), I really wanted to know how they’re going to turn this around.
I'm just saying you can't finish a story on such an obvious cliffhanger and then not follow up on that. Hopefully, the message of the movie is also subliminally telling us "yeah, it's the end... for now. Don't lose hope, because we'll be back sometime before 2028". Kizuna doesn't really feel like a self-contained story: it feels like the first part of something, and it’s unsatisfying because it leaves a question that might never get answered. It begs for resolution — for a sequel! 
These last few paragraphs run a risk of making this review sound negative, but trust me: I REALLY enjoyed this movie a lot. It's got everything you expect from an Adventure story: fun gags, throwbacks to the past, mythological/philosophical references, high stake fights and a very strong emotional core. It was a wonderful gift at this moment in time.
I'm going to enjoy rewatching it, and I would like nothing more than a sequel produced by the same team — if not LAST EVOLUTION 2, then maybe just tiny stories/shorts/drama CDs. Narrator!Takeru was right — this could be the story evolving in a new, fantastic direction. The people who made this movie had their heart in the right place.
But unlike most fans' expectations, this film is definitely not portrayed as THE END. That may be the worst, and simultaneously the best part of it.
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untamedunrestrained · a year ago
I have to do this!
I recently came across this post made by @vespertineflora and I hesitated before reblogging it because I knew this was a hornet’s nest but I fully agreed with it so I eventually decided to reblog it, because that’s my philosophy if something jives with me a 100% I reblog it, if it doesn’t I don’t. Anyhow, after this I came across multiple posts by @vespertineflora where they put forth their POV in the various sex scenes in MDZS and I really liked their answers which compelled me to write this post.
The one thing I have realised when it comes to MDZS is that all my posts in this fandom are beyond chaotic so I don’t think this will be any different though considering the sex is confined to only one canon of this story hopefully this will atleast make sense. Though as I start this I have no idea where this is going so it is definitely going to be a little chaotic.
At this point I feel it’s important to mention what experience I have already had with danmei. Because if MDZS is your first foray into danmei I can appreciate how crazy the sex scenes must seem. Anyhow, my first foray into danmei was with “Hua Hua You Long” and if the sex scenes in MDZS are problematic believe you don’t want to be within a 100 yards of “Hua Hua You Long”. But, I have a very high tolerance for writing that makes me uncomfortable so I persevered for very long with HHYL but when it became amply clear that the only kind of sex our two main characters are going to indulge in was going to be straight up non-con I gave up. Like, I think I even tried to see if it changed by the very end before DNFing but it didn’t. I get the feeling that non-con/dub-con might be a big part of danmei.
Anyhow, before jumping into MDZS and this was straight after I finished “The Untamed”. In fact, it was the very same day, I came across this post talking about how the sex scenes in MDZS were fetishizing and that the novel presented a rape scene between minors as erotica and touched briefly on their first kiss. Now this post was very vague so I really couldn’t prepare myself one way or the other but knowing my limits I delved into the novel anyway. But, I was hyper critical of any kiss /sex scene between WWX and LWJ because of that post because I was perpetually on the lookout for that rape scene which I had no idea how I was going to swallow.
Having read the novel, there is one point I want to make before we dissect MDZS in particular. This novel was written in an online serialized format so the end of each chapter had to be something that would have to be compelling enough to have people subscribed and to keep people reading the work which is a big reason in the novel the past and present are presented as they are because if you read the novel, LWJ and WWX are never apart for long, if they separate in the past we immediately jump to the present. If we jump to the past it is always to a scene where they will meet. There are very few scenes where they are separated for any length of time, one of which is at the very beginning and the second is at the time the YunmengJiang Clan is attacked and the novel while covering the bases doesn’t dwell for long in this period because it is a period LWJ and WWX are separated and your audience are mostly here for those two. So, you try to make the scenes where your main characters are separated as few and far between. This directly implies that you are catering to a specific audience and we need to realise that we are not that specific target audience.
This book is written in a very niche genre and it is meant to be consumed by people who like stories in that genre and sex is a big part of that and unfortunately so are the non-con/dub-con elements in sex. So, I feel that the reason the author mostly put the sex scenes in the extras was to cater to her audience that do expect these scenes while reading danmei.
The fact is that the story of MDZS is so good that it got multiple adaptations and the live-action show propelled it to a stage the author didn’t intend it for. She wasn’t writing for such an international audience, she wasn’t catering for it either. The worldwide acclaim this story has gotten is unprecedented, I can tell you this because I have never in my life watched a Chinese Drama (well, except for The Untamed now) and I have never in my life completed a novel in the danmei genre (well, except for MDZS now). The fact that this story has found such a stage and the only fault people can find with it are the sex scenes should actually be pretty extraordinary considering when this story was being written it was expected to be consumed by Chinese readers who enjoyed this specific genre.
So, yeah the story isn’t written keeping in mind the sensibilities of the West. The author never intended so many people from different nationalities and cultures to read her story and it was written for a target audience who reads this genre expecting it to meet certain expectations and sex is very high on that list.
Now, I agree that just because we aren’t the target audience doesn’t mean we can’t have an opinion on the work. The fact that the sex scenes in MDZS are non-con/dub-con to please a certain audience doesn’t mean that you can’t call them out for being problematic. They are and you can but remember don’t paint everything with a broad brush. Nothing is as black or as white as people make it out to be and ultimately that is the moral of MDZS.
So, instead of broad sweeping statements, I want to take this opportunity to really dissect the nuances in the kiss/sex scenes between LWJ and WWX because at the end of the day I do really love the story of MDZS.
Blanket Spoiler Warning for all novel scenes from here on out!
First Kiss at Phoenix Mountain
I probably wouldn’t have noticed this scene if not for that post that had me in a hyper-alert state but just because this is something I would have normally given a pass still doesn’t mean it’s okay.
The very first kiss between LWJ and WWX is a kiss that takes place on Phoenix Mountain while WWX is blindfolded. Basically, in the Phoenix Mountain hunt when Jin ZiXuan bulls-eyes his target in the archery competition, WWX tries to one-up him by doing the feat blindfolded which he succeeds at much to Jin ZiXun’s chagrin who then tries to rile him up and which ultimately has WWX claiming that he can do the entire hunt blind-folded and still be the better one at the end of the day. So WWX is blindfolded when he feels someone approach who then proceeds to kiss the living daylights out of him, literally he is so weak-kneed he can’t stand up after the kiss. But, given that WWX doesn’t know who kissed him there is no question of consent, he can’t see who is kissing him and therefore he can’t consent to the kiss. This is definitely dubious consent if not outright non-consensual.
There are certain hints that he isn’t completely at the mercy of his secret admirer, first being that the reason he is able to approach WWX is because WWX doesn’t perceive any killing intent from this person and secondly WWX is elated that this lone cultivator is approaching him at a time when most cultivators are atleast somewhat afraid of him, so he lets him (yes because we already know it’s LWJ) come closer than he would have otherwise and doesn’t even take a protective stance when he is smashed against a tree. When both his wrists are captured he decides to kick his assailant but is shocked into stillness because his assailant starts kissing him at this point. He struggles when he comes to his senses but when he realises how badly the person kissing him is trembling he can’t bring himself to struggle any further. But, he again struggles when the person starts to french kiss him but at this point is overpowered.
So, breaking it down, he consents to this person’s approach into his personal space, doesn’t consent to the kiss but backs down when he realises that this person is struggling with their own emotions, definitely doesn’t consent to being French kissed but is overpowered. So, consensual followed by dub-con followed by non-con. Of course, it must be reiterated that WWX can always kick his assailant away but for whatever reason he doesn’t. Overall this entire kiss is dub-con at the most and isn’t the healthiest thing in the world.
But, in the context of the story it is viewed differently. For whatever reason WWX sees this entire experience in a positive light.
The previous scene seemed to be an absurd yet erotic daydream. Recalling what it had felt like, formless tickles crawled up all the way to the tip of his heart. 
LWJ on the other hand is furious at himself because soon after this scene he can be found disintegrating a tree. Well, this proves two things, one he isn’t proud of his actions and second, that despite everything this is the only way he can express his love for WWX with WWX none the wiser. This scene highlights his struggle with what he already knows, he loves WWX yet he knows no way to express it. His parents were the worst role-models in that area and he has no concept of a man loving another man. His actions are wrong but the story portrays them more as cry for help, to showcase his struggle with his relentless feelings.
He had no idea that Lan WangJi was mad at himself—mad that he acted upon his urges, that he couldn’t control himself, that he took advantage of another in a way that was neither righteous nor abiding by his sect rules.
It is definitely dub-con but I guess it is more in service of character development than anything else. I’m curious as to what people feel about this first kiss. 
Second Kiss with Drunk Lan Wangji after the Yi City Arc
Well, according to WWX it’s the first and it’s anybody’s guess if LWJ has any idea it happened.
We all know LWJ has zero alcohol tolerance and for somebody who has only had alcohol for the second time in his life that’s to be expected and unfortunately there can be no proper consent under the influence so yeah, this one is definitely non-consensual.
But, people might not see it that way. In fact, I’m pretty sure (okay not so sure) they don’t see it that way. Well, LWJ is plenty eager for being licked by WWX and well WWX is fully in his senses but since you can’t consent to something you can’t fully comprehend, it is still non-con. 
The Hand-job with a once-again Drunk Lan Wangji 
WWX really loves taking advantage of a drunk Lan Wangji. Well, this time things definitely go out of hand. To the extent that WWX realizes that his actions might be very cruel and selfish. Again taking into account the fact that LWJ is drunk these again become non-consensual but surprisingly the reason LWJ has such a violent reaction to the whole act is probably because he believes he took advantage of WWX and then when he tries to help WWX clean up he is rejected making him believe that WWX didn’t want to participate when nothing could be further from the truth, considering he initiated it.
My God, these two are really horrible at figuring out what’s going on between them. No wonder it takes a huge intervention for them to come to their senses. 
The Sex Scene at the very end of the novel
Well, this is the only fully consensual kiss/ sex scene in the main novel. There are kisses followed by a blowjob followed by anal sex and all three are fully consensual. Though the third one seems to be rather painful, it’s still consensual. Also, while they are having sex WWX is constantly mouthing off that LWJ should have taken advantage of him back when they were fifteen and at the Cloud Recesses.
“If you liked me since such a long time ago, why didn’t you take me sooner? The back mountains of your Cloud Recesses would be quite a good location, wouldn’t it? When I snuck out to fool around alone, you should’ve tied me up and dragged me away, pinned me onto the grass like right now to do whatever you want to me…”
“You’re so strong, so I couldn’t have resisted. If I screamed, you could’ve silenced me. Or your Library Pavilion also would’ve been a great place, right in the middle of the scriptures scattered on the ground. We could’ve bought a few cutsleeve booklets to compare and learn, any position at all…”
Well, at this point the novel ends and as you can see despite it being about 900 pages long when translated into English it definitely doesn’t deliver much on the sex front so the author wrote a series of extras to make up for that deficit and it’s your choice if you want to read the extras with the sexual content. They don’t contribute to the story so it’s truly your wish.
Banquet (Parts 1-3)
This one doesn’t have any explicit sex scenes though WWX does try to play out a rape scenario but it fails rather spectacularly because LWJ has no idea what to do and when they try to reverse the positions WWX just gives in instead of actually putting up a struggle.
Incense Burner (Parts 1-2)
I’m finally here at the infamous incense burner extra. So, let’s do this (cracks her knuckles).
This extra is set on the premise that LWJ and WWX use an incense burner that transports them to a dream world where they both get a glimpse of each other’s dreams. WWX’s dream is of the two of them retired and living in the countryside in his own version of domestic bliss while LWJ’s dream is well, where this entire conversation on consent started. Now when LWJ first realizes which of his dreams they are in he doesn’t want to explore any further, he hesitates but WWX decides to investigate. While in the dream he tries to prevent WWX from seeing it to its full extent because he is definitely embarrassed by it. The dream they came across is of a fifteen-year-old LWJ raping a fifteen-year-old WWX and then seeing this the real WWX gets rather turned on and has very consensual sex with his husband, LWJ.
Truthfully, the weird thing is that this might be one of the best ways to deal with this kink and I don’t understand why people are so hung up on the rape scene because hasn’t it been made clear that those two boys are nothing more than figments of imagination. Really, we can’t impose consent on dream versions of people because they aren’t actually people. The only people who have sex in this scenario are the grown-up versions of LWJ and WWX who have consensual sex.
I feel that a rape fantasy is more easy to accept if the victim has it, like in this scenario if this was WWX’s dream the sentiment might have been different but considering this is the aggressor’s dream sympathies change and this is something LWJ definitely acknowledges, he fears being judged but all things considered it’s good WWX knows this side of him because considering how much he keeps spouting off about being raped he definitely wants to indulge in this fantasy. Though in no sex scene in the main novel or the extras do they actually indulge in such a fantasy.
There was also the point that we have no idea when LWJ first had this dream and considering how closely this dream follows WWX’s fantasy during their first sex scene might put the genesis of this dream at a later date which would imply that this wasn’t a dream born out of LWJ’s initial frustration and inability to understand his feelings towards WWX which does alter the perspective a little.
In fact, the second incense burner dream is more problematic when WWX gives a blow-job to an eighteen-year-old LWJ (for my sanity he’s eighteen) who is actually a dream consciousness of his much older husband, then proceeds to use the hilt of Bichen as a dildo till his husband in a much younger body decides to save his sword from the horror and fucks WWX himself. But, then he discovers that he likes spanking WWX and he proceeds to do so despite WWX’s discomfort with the act. Again, I don’t know how much the concept of consent can be applied to dream selves, but all things considered this would have been the more problematic of the incense burner extras. Because, the first part is definitely non-consensual followed by a sex scene that is at best dub-con. Again, this is all in a dream and WWX is never going to get the opportunity to have sex with a younger-version of his husband because he didn’t and now he can’t. So again, I have no idea if this should even be brought into the consent issue.
But, one of the best things about this extra is that when WWX wakes up from the dream he is scared that LWJ will spank him something he didn’t like at all and doesn’t desire to repeat. He tells him that and LWJ immediately tells him that he will not. Which speaks a lot about these two, they know they have to communicate with each other and I feel like they have a good idea of each other’s limits and while these two might be kinky as hell neither actually wants to do anything that the other will not enjoy. So, even though they haven’t always dealt with it optimally I can rest assured that they will do better in the future.
But, I truly feel like everyone in all this uproar regarding the alleged rape forgot that this extra is written for a completely different purpose. I feel like the real reason the author wrote this was to allow LWJ and WWX to have sex in their own bodies which is something they have never done!
From Dawn to Dusk - Rather shameless sex but all consensual.
Intrusion (Parts 1-3) - No explicit sex scene though it is implied.
Villainous Friends, Iron Hook (Parts 1-2), Lotus Seed Pod & Dream Come True - No sexual content.     
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mistikfir · a year ago
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Some Enchanted Evening by Jay S. Jacobs
 Susan Minot’s novel Evening was embraced by a huge readership upon being released. The novel is about the choices people make and how they are formed by them. A woman at the end of her life is reliving (and revealing to her grown daughters) the story of a great love that got away – one that the daughters were not aware of. The daughters don't understand how much of the story is true and how much is the dementia of illness and approaching mortality. It is a poignant reminder that no matter how close you are to someone in your life, you never truly know all of his or her secrets. 
Novelist and screenwriter Michael Cunningham (The Hours, A Home at the End of the World) was uniquely qualified to change a beloved piece of literature to the film. However, it was not a job he took lightly. 
“I almost said no because I didn’t want to be the guy who messes up a book as beautiful and as accomplished as Evening,” Cunningham recalled recently. “When they called me up and asked me to do it the first thing I did was call Susan, who I knew slightly, and said look I don’t know what I have to do working with you, but I know I’m going to have to push for real changes. There are dozens of characters in this novel, each of them beautiful and richly drawn, and I’m not going to have room for them. I’m going to have to mess around with it in all kinds of ways and if that’s a problem for you tell me right now and I won’t do it. My first loyalty is always to the novelist. Susan, to her huge credit, said, ‘Well, no, that’s why they called you, because clearly we need another pair of eyes on this. Of course it needs to be altered to fit another form. Go.’” 
The main character of Ann Lord is played in flashbacks by Claire Danes, who has carved out an unique career for herself in the years since first capturing our attention in the cult-favorite TV series My So-Called Life. Since then, she has proven to be an unusually versatile actress, equally comfortable in drama (The Hours and Brokedown Palace), splashy melodrama (Romeo and Juliet), romantic comedy (Shopgirl and The Family Stone) and big-budget action (Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines and The Mod Squad). Evening marks Danes’ reunion with screenwriter Cunningham, who also was behind The Hours. 
British actor Hugh Dancy plays Buddy, a tragic character from the past (and one who was not in the novel.) Dancy has been acting professionally for less than a decade, but he has put together a consistently interesting body of work with films like Blackhawk Down, Blood and Chocolate, Ella Enchanted and Beyond the Gates. (No one is perfect, though, he was also in Basic Instinct II.) Dancy is currently finishing up a successful Broadway run in the World War I drama Journey’s End. 
Also from theatrical roots is Mamie Gummer, who has appeared in several plays. Evening is her first major film role, though she has done small parts in a few other films, most recently The Hoax. If Gummer looks familiar to you, perhaps that is because she is a near-spitting image of her mother when she was young. That mother just happens to be probably the best actress of her generation – Meryl Streep. Now before you get any ideas of nepotism, Gummer is the real deal as an actress. In fact, when she was hired for the role of young Lila Wittenborn, director Lajos Koltai did not even know of the relationship. 
Only later did Streep come on board the cast of Evening – playing the same character as her daughter grown old – and then it was not due to Gummer’s actions. Streep was given the script by her long-time make-up artist J. Roy Helland and was so taken by the script that she decided to do a cameo role. Streep and Gummer were not the only mother/daughter team in this production, either. Famed British actress Vanessa Redgrave played the main character of Ann as a dying old woman in modern times and Ann’s older daughter was played by Redgrave’s own flesh and blood, Natasha Richardson. 
“It was a unique, very special opportunity to play mother and daughter on the screen,” Richardson said. “Not only to be playing these characters, but bring all our history, all our baggage, all our love, all our painful times to serve these characters in the film. It was great to be able to do that. It was also very painful because it was evocative of a lot of things and seeing her lying there on that bed, very convincingly, looking very seriously ill, it of course makes you project the future and the past, like when my father was dying. So, it was a very special experience.” 
A few weeks before Evening was due to debut, we met up with Danes, Gummer and Dancy at the Regency Hotel in New York to discuss the film.
What was it like to work on certain scenes that seemed intense – like that rain scene with Claire and Patrick [Wilson]? 
Claire Danes: They were so exquisitely written that I didn't have to work too hard to analyze them or refine them. They just kind of play themselves. We read them a couple of times in rehearsal, and it just worked. I think it was so clear of what it was asking of us, that we had very little resistance, so we were really fortunate. I love that scene.  I love that scene to act and I love the scene with Mamie in bed, because it was so… 
Mamie Gummer: Inventive… 
Claire Danes: …exciting to play because they have so many shifts and turns. They have a great rhythm. A great integrity. 
Hugh, did you find in playing this role with the tension between you and Claire that it heightened your ability to connect with her? 
Hugh Dancy: No, no, no. When you work with another person as an actor, nuances of character in a relationship are a result of close understanding of the script you’ve got and then the ability to realize it. I really do believe that. I’m not just trying to avoid your question. I’ve worked with actors before that I’ve liked very much and felt the results were not so wonderful. And I’ve worked with actors and actresses that I really didn’t feel that much for and felt like we achieved some kind of so-called chemistry. I think it’s acting. That’s what it comes down to. 
Mamie, what was you favorite scene? 
Mamie Gummer: The bedroom scene was my favorite. The writing was just so beautiful. I loved it from the minute I read the script. I just fell in love with that character and that scene. I really didn’t have to do anything. You just say the words, and how could your heart not break? 
Claire Danes: The onus was really on you in that scene and I was just having the best time watching. (laughs from both) You didn't know. 
Mamie Gummer: I have sisters. I felt that the intimacy between girlfriends was lovely that that was represented. Because you don't see that a lot in movies, laughing and crying at the same time. 
For this movie there are a lot of really strong roles for women – though of course, Hugh, your role and Patrick’s were strong male roles. What was it like working on a film that had so many big female roles from an actor’s point of view? 
Hugh Dancy: It wasn’t so notable… I’m trying to think of how to formulate this… It was great working with these great actresses. That’s a given. Working with Claire and Mamie and Glenn and so on. And being aware that these other actresses are also going to populate the other side of the story. But that’s not to say that the experience was 100% estrogen. It didn’t particularly feel like that in the moment – partially because I was there and Patrick was there, but also because we were surrounded by crew. You know how it is. Even more exceptional to me than just the presence of that many females in the movie was the quality of the writing. The questions it tackled. Then the way that – in my mind – it succeeded attacking these big questions. That felt very clear, even when we were doing it. I felt it was something unusual.  
Is there an underlying message here in choosing a mate? Is it okay to pass over the true love and go with someone else – is that a regret your whole life? 
Mamie Gummer: That's the big question. What's right? Lila seems to have compromised herself, which is weak. But at the end, who's to say really? 
Would that have happened today? 
Claire Danes: Sure. It still does happen today. 
Mamie Gummer: It's the pragmatic thinking.  
Claire Danes: It’s very hard to predict these things. But I think it's easy for Ann to romanticize that affair because it was never fully realized. So it was always perfect in her mind. I'm not even all that confident that it would have lasted. They might not be true-life partners. But it served a purpose for her. She enjoyed escaping into [it]. 
Mamie Gummer: Nothing is perfect. The idea is just to be hopefully happy at the end of the day. 
Claire Danes: Happy enough…
How do you feel about the threesome in this film? Did they ever have a fighting chance? 
Claire Danes: The threesome? 
You and Hugh Dancy's character and Pat's character… 
Claire Danes: I don't really see them as a threesome. I think they all loved each other. The shades of those loves are very different. I don't think of them like that. 
Hugh, did you have any specific idea as far as backstory about Buddy’s sexual orientation? 
Hugh Dancy: Yeah, sexual orientation, I thought was secondary. I don’t think it’s the root of his confusions. In my imagination, my guess would be that he’s never had any kind of homosexual experience. I mean, I don’t know this. (laughs) I mean Michael Cunningham might have a different idea. Lajos might have an idea. And they’re all right. But my theory is that he’s been at college with Ann and probably gets very drunk and occasionally has kind of gotten lucky with young girls who think that he is exotic and glamorous. It’s always a bit tawdry. Every so often he gets really drunk and he tries it on with Ann. I think that probably happens regularly in their relationship. Every time she just pushes him away and he falls on the floor. The one thing I do think is that Buddy has never been capable of really maintaining any kind of substantial relationship, because he’s not grounded in any way as a person. Man, woman, it doesn’t matter. His identity is to him totally confused. That’s at the center of why he is in love with Ann, in love with Harris. Because he just is drawn to towards… I think he wants to be them, in a way. He sees Harris’ strength and his independence and thinks that’s who I want to be. He sees Ann living the life of an artist in New York. That’s what I want. He just grabs onto them.  
I think personally it’s always unique to the individual. There are certain social truths. But, Buddy, for example, is living in a very interesting period. Where he is when we see him in the movie in Newport is where he is still living in a kind of throwback to the thirties or the twenties. Kind of wild Gatsby-esque times. The rules are still the same. At the same time, three hours away in New  York, the beat poets are kicking in. Bohemian – the Village is coming up. And he is a crossover. He has one leg in each world. He doesn’t really know where he wants to be. That’s very specific to him and his particular background. 
So I do think you’ve kind of addressed the issues of masculinity in doing these roles (in Evening and the play Journey’s End.) Do you have any insights into that, in terms of how it’s changed now? Since you’re a modern guy today… 
Hugh Dancy: Yes, supposedly. (long pause) I mean, I suppose there is a less rigid definition of what a man should be and should live up to. But, again, I would resist making any broad statements about the world now. Because I think it’s different from street to street. You could look at some cultures, some backgrounds – it’s part ethnic and it’s part just family, whatever. In Manhattan, where there would be an incredibly strong sense of masculinity – you’ve got to be like this and like this – then of course there are other areas of Manhattan where there’s just the opposite. And that’s just inManhattan. It so happens that in this movie and in this play there are very, very strong rules applied. The guy in the play is living in the trenches. He’s got a very ingrained sense of honor and duty, which was pounded into these young men. You left your country. Just please run towards that machine gun. Equally, Buddy is coming from a very rarified, atypical background. So I don’t think they… well maybe my character in the play does, but Buddy I don’t think is necessarily typical of that era. He is unusual.  
But he’s grappling with the issues…  
Hugh Dancy: He’s grappling with the issues of the era, yeah. But, you can see, I’m trying to resist presenting myself as any kind of expert. What I would say is that you don’t think about it in those terms when you’re doing this. You just try and focus in on that guy and his family and his past and his existence. And hope that the strength of the writing comes through. In turn, that may be as you’re saying, some quality of the period comes through as well. 
Mamie, did you have fun having an alternative mom (Glenn Close)? You looked kind of like her, so it made sense. 
Mamie Gummer: It’s funny. Roy Helland did the hair and makeup on this film. He's been my mother's makeup and hair man for 25 years. He felt I looked more like Glenn (laughs) than I did {my own mother].  
Mamie, do you have your own Roy or did you kind of borrow Roy?
 Mamie Gummer: I borrowed. I just asked really nicely. 
Are you in the market for a Roy? 
Mamie Gummer: I'm not quite there yet. (chuckles)  
Claire Danes: I don't know that there are many Roy's to be had. 
Mamie Gummer: He’s one of a kind. 
Claire Danes: He really is unique. 
Did you tease your mom at all about that? 
Mamie Gummer: No, but he was certainly her eyes and ears on the set. 
Do you think your mom is going to keep piggybacking off your roles from now on? 
Mamie Gummer: Who knows? (laughs) Maybe she'll leave me alone.
Buddy’s entire family is very repressed. They all show it in different ways, but do you think that would be a hard lifestyle to grow up in?
Hugh Dancy: Maybe. For Buddy, yeah, but not for everybody. Some people love that. (chuckles) Some people love rules. They want to know what to wear. I know if I go to walk down the Kings Road in London, I’m going to see guys wearing that uniform of the button down shirt and the red jeans and the loafers and colored sports socks and a blazer. Did you never stop to think maybe I’ll wear something else? They’re happy that way. I’m not saying that’s repression, but there are a lot of different cultures that don’t reward looking outside. I don’t think that has to be a bad thing.
Mamie Gummer: But, I don't know that I would like [Glenn Close’s] character as a mother. She kept this girl on a pretty tight leash.
Well certainly in many of the films you’ve been in, Hugh – and the play – you’ve dealt with that kind of repression. Maybe because of the British experience, but also coming into that society. Also in the Rwandan film (Shooting Dogs a.k.a. Beyond the Gates)… 
Hugh Dancy: Yeah. I mean, again I’m so wary of making sweeping statements… 
Don’t worry, you’re not treated as an expert, but you’re treated as an observer…I won’t elevate you to expert status. 
Hugh Dancy: That’s right. Expert Hugh Dancy embarrasses himself with sweeping generalizations. (laughs) I suppose that may be true. I’ve never selected anything with that in mind. It is feasible that unbeknownst to yourself a trend emerges in the work that you do. You suddenly think, God, I seem to have some access to the mindset of the outsider or whatever. I really don’t know whether that’s true, or if it is why, but it may be the case. I think usually it’s more interesting to see a character that is set apart in some way. Eventually in fact every character has to be that way. That’s what you’re looking for in every character. It’s the grain. Even if the guy is 99% conventional, it’s the one extra percent that’s going to make him worthy of having a story told about him. Usually that 1% if it’s a good story is going to blossom and grow. So your job as an actor is to scrape away and scratch away and find that strength. There’s an infinity of variety. It can be anything. 
Some people think playing a drunk is easy, but I don’t think it would be…  
Hugh Dancy: I don’t know I’ve met anybody who thinks that. I’ve been very gratified by people telling me how hard it must be. It’s not. It’s not easy, because the risk is you just really veer far too far. 
But you have to do a lot of your own bringing the role out, right?
Hugh Dancy: Well, you know, it’s difficult because you are trying to show who somebody is, but through this extra layer of alcohol. Alcohol in some ways conceals a person and in other ways it amplifies them. Eventually if you’re drinking to repress some kind of aggression then somewhere down the line that evening that aggression is going to resurface – maybe in a different light. So you have to think it through very carefully. There is a character arc, despite that. You also have to remember that a drunk is always fighting for control. They’re not just stumbling around until they become uncontrollable. Like Buddy, in the scene where he gives the speech at the wedding dinner, he is trying to be a sober person. Speak like a sober person. So there is a lot to think about.
Was there any improv?
Hugh Dancy: There was no improv. I mean, there is always certain amount of invention, but in terms of the script, no. Particularly playing a drunk character, the last thing you want to do is start making up drunk dialogue. So no real improvisation. In terms of director, it is very important, because it is my belief that you can take a movie like this with one of the best scripts I’ve ever read, an amazing cast, a beautiful setting and you can still screw it up. There’s no guarantee. At the end of the day, it comes down to the one guy who is going to put it all together.
Claire, what was it like to sing on film? You haven't done it before right?
Claire Danes: No, I hadn't… and I wasn't teaming with confidence. But I had a great teacher.  Deborah Lapidus, who teaches at Juilliard and Tisch. She gave a quick-but-thorough education on how to go about doing it. I didn't realize what a physical undertaking it is to sing. I was very surprised by the volume that I ended up producing. Like, “we can really make big noises!” (laughs) It was spooky. But it was great. Great fun. I still take lessons from her now just because I enjoyed it so much.
But you have established in your career a variety of other arts like dancing. Do you hope to expand on that more?
Claire Danes: Sure…
Mamie Gummer: Juggling…
Claire Danes: Juggling. (laughs) I'm a mean juggler. And I can't whistle, at all, which is just crushing.
It’s easy… 
There's a long, storied history of it in music.
Claire Danes: So people say! I'm not going to join in that history, sadly. I would like to. But yes, I obviously want to be as dynamite and dexterous a performer as possible so these opportunities are so welcomed. After I'm done taking advantage of them, they are daunting but I feel kind of bigger now as a performer and grateful. 
Do you hope to use your dancing skills in more of your films? 
Claire Danes: That would be wonderful. I love dancing and I think my dancing did serve me in my singing because I have a sense of rhythm and timing. As I said before singing is really physical. So I could organize it better, thinking in those terms. I'm singing out of the back of my head and using my lower abdomen. So bring it on.
Are there any personal processes as a UK actor of soaking up the idea of Newport. It seems like to be in such opposition with the British experience… 
Hugh Dancy: Well, we invented elitism. (laughs)  
Well, the British seaside seems much more about chips and throwing up on one another… 
Hugh Dancy: Yeah, the British seaside is a different kettle of fish all together. That’s true. So to speak. I mean, actually, the British would be me, Vanessa, Eileen [and Natasha]. I was the only British actor who really had to be really steeped in it, because Ann was not of that background and Eileen’s character was from another planet. She is, she’s this kind of ethereal being. So, yeah, the process was, we arrived on Labor Day weekend for the weekend. Me, Patrick, Mamie, Claire, Lajos – and just hung out. Read some of the scenes. Not all of them. Listened to a bit of music and talked. Got to know each other and went to dinner and so on. Then they all went away and I stayed there for the rest of the week. Which was great. I got to wander. I think the idea was, he’s British, let him osmose. (laughs) So I did what everybody else does in Newport and ate lobster and kind of got drunk.(laughs again) It was strangely familiar. There is… it is such a bizarre and unusual corner of the world. But there are qualities that are not unique to Newport. That sense of propriety or rules as we were saying – underneath what seems to be a very raucous group, a raucous society, are these very strict rules. I can recognize that. 
Do you guys have have the kind of bond you had with each other in the film at that age and will it last as these did? 
Mamie Gummer: Ho's before bro's! 
Claire Danes: Well, as God, I feel… (laughs) I do have very different friendships with women than I have with men. I hope that they will last. 
I think women struggle more to keep those friendships going… 
Claire Danes: Yeah. In some ways, they do. They are unpredictable. One of my oldest friends – it still surprises me that we have so much in common. Like really? We are compatible? I never would have picked that necessarily. But life did. It’s a combination. It's a funny thing, because there's never a formal ceremony. You don't sign anything where you say I will always through thick and thin, through the good times… 
Mamie Gummer: But there is that moment when you look at each other and say, okay we're… 
Claire Danes: (big laughs) Sometimes there is a handshake involved. 
So did you guys establish a rapport to work together again? 
Claire Danes: We had our moments, but I'd love to work with Mamie again. 
Mamie Gummer: We all got along together. But it's not necessary to be someone’s best friend to play their best friend. That’s sort of an acting thing… 
What are you doing next? 
Claire Danes: I have Stardust and a movie I did a while ago – The Flock – coming in September. 
Mamie Gummer: I have Stop Loss coming out in September and John Adams. 
What was it like working with Kim Pierce? 
Mamie Gummer: Great! She's brilliant. A little nutty, but great. She's wonderful. 
Hugh, how are you approaching 
The Jane Austen Book Club?
 Hugh Dancy: Well, he stands out in the context of that movie in the beginning because he has never read any Jane Austen. He’s the only guy in there. He gets almost accidentally invited into this book club, because one on the women thinks one of the other women who has just gotten a divorce might like him. He misunderstands the situation and thinks the first woman wants him. He’s just a kind of schlub and a computer nerd who reads science fiction sitting in a room full of women who are Jane Austen experts. I didn’t really need to work on the outsider status on that one. 
Might we be seeing you on stage? 
Mamie Gummer: I'm doing a play in August in Williamstown. It's a Lillian Hellmann play. 
(Screenwriter) Michael (Cunningham)’s writing seems to have a theatrical quality – as if it were set for a play. Did you find that to be the case? It’s very dialogue driven. 
Hugh Dancy: To put it another way, it’s true that there are movies that don’t rely on dialogue so much. But usually that’s simply because the writing’s bad. (laughs) I think in general dialogue ought to always form the characters. It’s just that they don’t always achieve that. It’s amazing to me to read writing that is supple and fluid and rooted in the moment and the situation and yet gives such a strong sense of character. I agree that there’s a kind of heightened drama to it. But I think that’s in the situation. And particularly a wedding, which is inherently theatrical – like a court case or something. There is always a kind of theater involved. But what I liked about it, particularly with Buddy, is he’s wrestling away with the same questions but in a much more dramatic way. I couldn’t have done it and I wouldn’t have felt comfortable going to those excesses if it hadn’t to me tied down in reality and rooted in honesty. If it was just grandiose, all written in a dramatic way, I would have been very uncomfortable.
What did Michael do on the set? Was he involved in the filming or there as more of a producer? 
Mamie Gummer: He was sort of Jack-of-all-trades. He did it all from Scrabble… 
Claire Danes: Scrabble partner… 
Mamie Gummer: …to consultant of the story – having written the thing. 
Hugh Dancy: Michael was on the set a lot, yeah.  
Did you discuss with him his sexuality? I know it was kind of a pre-gay period… 
Hugh Dancy: (laughs) Pre-gay period. I don’t know if that period ever existed. But I know what you mean. Certainly, it’s not like we could imagine that, oh, maybe if there had been a future for Buddy beyond this movie he could have suddenly jumped up at the wedding and come out. No. No. But, I’ve got to say. Michael was there. We didn’t talk about that issue in particular. I don’t think we ever talked about this. I mean we may have flippantly, but I don’t think we ever sat down and talked about his sexual orientation. Ithink we may have had one or two more or less inebriated discussions about Buddy as a guy. That’s partially because I was doing a lot of work on my own, just trying to think it all through. Like I got the work done. When you do all that work on your own and you feel like you’ve gotten somewhere you want to rush off and share it with somebody. When you’ve got the dude that wrote the script it’s great. You’ve just got to bore him for a half hour. If he’s polite – and Michael is – he just nods and agrees and lets you get on with it. When I read the book and realized he didn’t exist in the book – and I was fascinated by Buddy anyway – I thought I’m going to ring Michael and kind of get the inside line. And I just put it off and put it off. I eventually arrived in Rhode Island and met him and I was very glad I had. By that time I realized I didn’t need to. I felt comfortable pursuing it myself. I still haven’t really had that conversation with Michael. I doubt I ever will. 
Mamie, at your point in your career, with your mom – does she give you pointers or is she hands off? 
Mamie Gummer: We weren't on the set at the same time, because we were the same person and due to space and time limitation we didn’t have any scenes. 
I knew that, I just thought you may have been there for some of each others’ scenes. 
Mamie Gummer: If I have a question or problem I'll usually ask her, but on this project I had a handle on it. 
Claire did you have an opportunity to talk with Vanessa about her being you in latter years?
 Claire Danes: We had a conversation that didn't last very long. It digressed pretty quickly into talk of [other things]. I think it was really obvious after a certain point that we were afforded a lot of liberties in forming our characters. Because the gap in age was so massive, it was impossible to carefully design that arc. Also Ann is so sick, and weaving in and out of consciousness and is behaving uncharacteristically. It was pretty freeing. 
How did you feel having your mother play a later version of you? How was that to see it evolve? Was there a connection between the young version and the old one? 
Mamie Gummer: I was very happy with her work. She did an adequate job playing me. We didn't have a formal sit down conversation about continuity or character choices. You're introduced to this character at a very young age of 24. Even though she thinks she’s an old maid, she’s just 24. And then [you don’t see her] again until she's 70. So, she’s lived a full life that we couldn't really start to imagine. 
When you see the movie finished, I kept expecting for Buddy to disintegrate. But his fate seems so much more random. When you saw it, even though you knew it in the script, when you saw it on the screen did it have a different impact on you? 
Hugh Dancy: I think it’s just a brilliant piece of writing. It’s so well set up. I don’t want to give away the end of the movie. I don’t want you to give away the end of the movie, either. But, yeah, you know, Buddy from the minute he arrives you pretty much think you are going to figure out where he’s going. And the movie, like any good movie, defies your expectations. So, yes, even though I knew that, I was still taken by how successful that was when I went to the movie.
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Top 10 Games of 2019
This was an extremely good year for games. I don’t know if I played as many that will stick with me as I did last year, but the ones on the bottom half of this list in particular constitute some of my favorite games of the decade, and probably all-time. If I’ve got a gaming-related resolution for next year, it’s to put my playtime into supporting even smaller indie devs. My absolute favorite experiences in games this year came from seemingly out of nowhere games from teams I’ve previously never heard of before. That said, there are some big games coming up in spring I doubt I’ll be able to keep myself away from. Some quick notes/shoutouts before I get started:
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-The game I put maybe the most time into this year was Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. I finally made the plunge into neverending FF MMO content, and I’m as happy as I am overwhelmed. This was a big year for the game, between the release of the Shadowbringers expansion and the Nier: Automata raid, and it very well may have made it onto my list if I had managed to actually get to any of it. At the time of this writing, though, I’ve only just finished 2015’s Heavensward, so I’ve got...a long way to go. 
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-One quick shoutout to the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy that came out on Switch this year, a remaster of some DS classics I never played. An absolutely delightful visual novel series that I fell in love with throughout this year.
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-I originally included a couple games currently in early access that I’ve enjoyed immensely. I removed them not because of arbitrary rules about what technically “came out” this year, but just to make room for some other games I liked, out of the assumption that I’ll still love these games in their 1.0 formats when they’re released next year to include them on my 2020 list. So shoutout to Hades, probably the best rogue-like/lite/whatever I’ve ever played, and Spin Rhythm XD, which reignited my love for rhythm games.
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-Disco Elysium isn’t on this list, because I’ve played about an hour of it and haven’t yet been hooked by it. But I’ve heard enough about it to be convinced that it is 1000% a game for me and something I need to get to immediately. They shouted out Marx and Engels at the Game Awards! They look so cool! I want to be their friend! And hopefully, a few weeks from now, I’ll desperately want to redact this list to squeeze this game somewhere in here.
Alright, he’s the actual list:
10. Amid Evil
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The 90’s FPS renaissance continues! As opposed to last year’s Dusk, a game I adored, this one takes its cues less from Quake and more from Heretic/Hexen, placing a greater emphasis on melee combat and magic-fuelled projectiles than more traditional weapons. Also, rather than that game’s intentionally ugly aesthetic, this one opts for graphics that at times feel lush, detailed, and pretty, while still probably mostly fitting the description of lo-fi. In fact, they just added RTX to the game, something I’m extremely curious to check out. This game continued to fuel my excitement about the possibilities of embracing out-of-style gameplay mechanics to discover new and fresh possibilities from a genre I’ve never been able to stop yearning for more of.
9. Ape Out
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If this were a “coolest games” list, Ape Out would win it, easily. It’s a simple game whose mechanics don’t particularly evolve throughout the course of its handful of hours, but it leaves a hell of an impression with its minimalist cut-out graphics, stylish title cards, and percussive soundtrack. Smashing guards into each other and walls and causing them to shoot each other in a mad-dash for the exit is a fun as hell take on Hotline Miami-esque top down hyper violence, even if it’s a thin enough concept that it starts to feel a bit old before the end of the game.
8. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
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I had a lot of problems with this game, probably most stemming from just how damn long it is - I still haven’t finished my first, and likely only, playthrough. This length seems to have motivated the developers to make battles more simple and easy, and to be fair, I would get frustrated if I were getting stuck on individual battles if I couldn’t stop thinking about how much longer I have to go, but as it is, I’ve just found them to be mostly boring. This is particularly problematic for a game that seems to require you to play through it at least...three times to really get the full picture? I couldn’t help but admire everything this game got right, though, and that mostly comes down to building a massive cast of extremely well realized and likable characters whose complex relationships with each other and with the structures they pledge loyalty to fuels harrowing drama once the plot really sets into motion. There’s a reason no other game inspired such a deluge of memes and fan fiction and art into my Twitter feed this year. It’s an impressive feat to convince every player they’ve unquestionably picked the right house and defend their problem children till the bitter end. After the success of this game, I’d love to see what this team can do next with a narrower focus and a bigger budget.
7. Resident Evil 2
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It’s been a long time since I played the original Resident Evil 2, but I still consider it to be one of my favorite games of all time. I was highly skeptical of this remake at first, holding my stubborn ground that changing the fixed camera to a RE4-style behind the back perspective would turn this game more into an action game and less of a survival horror game where feeling a lack of control is part of the experience. I was pleasantly surprised to find how much they were able to modernize this game while maintaining its original feel and atmosphere. The fumbly, drifting aim-down sights effectively sell the feeling of being a rookie scared out of your wits. Being chased by Mr. X is wildly anxiety-inducing. But even more surprisingly, perhaps the greatest upgrade this game received was its map, which does you the generous service of actually marking down automatically where puzzles and items are, which rooms you’ve yet to enter, which ones you’ve searched entirely, and which ones still have more to discover. Arguably, this disrupts the feeling of being lost in a labyrinthine space that the original inspired, but in practice, it’s a remarkably satisfying and addicting video game system to engage with.
6. Judgment
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No big surprise here - Ryu ga Gotoku put out another Yakuza-style game set in Kamurocho, and once again, it’s sitting somewhere on my top 10. This time, they finally put Kazuma Kiryu’s story to bed and focused on a new protagonist, down on his luck lawyer-turned-detective Takayuki Yagami. The new direction doesn’t always pay off - the added mechanics of following and chasing suspects gets a bit tedious. The game makes up for it, though, by absolutely nailing a fun, engrossing J-Drama of a plot entirely divorced from the Yakuza lore. The narrative takes several head-spinning turns through its several dozen hours, and they all feel earned, with a fresh sense of focus. The side stories in this one do even more to make you feel connected to the community of Kamurocho by befriending people from across the neighborhood. I’d love to see this team take even bigger swings in the future - and from what I’ve seen from Yakuza 7, that seems exactly like what they’re doing - but even if this game shares maybe a bit too much DNA with its predecessors, it’s hard to complain when the writing and acting are this enjoyable.
5. Control
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Control feels like the kind of game that almost never gets made anymore. It’s a AAA game that isn’t connected to any larger franchises and doesn’t demand your attention for longer than a dozen hours. It doesn’t shoehorn needless RPG or MMO mechanics into its third-person action game formula to hold your attention. It introduces a wildly clever idea, tells a concise story with it, and then its over. And there’s something so refreshing about all of that. The setting of The Oldest House has a lot to do with it. I think it stands toe-to-toe with Rapture or Black Mesa as an instantly iconic game world. Its aesthetic blend of paranormal horror and banal government bureaucracy gripped my inner X-Files fan instantly, and kept him satisfied not only with its central characters and mystery but with a generous bounty of redacted documents full of worldbuilding both spine-tingling and hilarious. More will undoubtedly come from this game, in the form of DLC and possibly even more, with the way it ties itself into other Remedy universes, and as much as I expect I will love it, the refreshing experience this base game offered me likely can’t be beat.
4. Anodyne 2
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I awaited Sean Han Tani and Marina Kittaka’s new game more anxiously than almost any game that came out this year, despite never having played the first one, exclusively on my love for last year’s singular All Our Asias and the promise that this game would greatly expand on that one’s Saturn/PS1-esque early 3D graphics and personal, heartfelt storytelling. Not only was I not disappointed, I was regularly pleasantly surprised by the depth of narrative and themes the game navigates. This game takes the ‘legendary hero’ tropes of a Zelda game and flips them to tell a story about the importance of community and taking care of loved ones over duty to governments or organizations. The dungeons that similarly reflect a Link to the Past-era Zelda game reduce the maps to bite-sized, funny, clever designs that ask you to internalize unique mechanics that result in affecting conclusions. Plus, it’s gorgeously idiosyncratic in its blend of 3D and 2D environments and its pretty but off-kilter score. It’s hard to believe something this full and well realized came from two people. 
3. Eliza
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Eliza is a work of dystopian fiction so closely resembling the state of the world in 2019 it’s hard to even want to call it sci-fi. As a proxy for the Eliza app, you speak the words of an AI therapist that offers meager, generic suggestions as a catch-all for desperate people facing any number of the nightmares of our time. The first session you get is a man reckoning with the state the world is in - we’ve only got a few more years left to save ourselves from impending climate crisis, destructive development is rendering cities unlivable for anyone but the super-rich, and the people who hold all the power are just making it all worse. The only thing you offer to him is to use a meditation app and take some medication. It doesn’t take long for you to realize that this whole structure is much less about helping struggling people and more about mining personal data.
There’s much more to this story than the grim state of mental health under late capitalism, though. It’s revealed that Evelyn, the character you play as, has a much closer history with Eliza than initially evident. Throughout the game, she’ll reacquaint herself with old coworkers, including her two former bosses who have recently split and run different companies over their differing frightening visions for the future. The game offers a biting critique of the kind of tech company optimism that brings rich, eccentric men to believe they can solve the world’s problems within the hyper-capitalist structure they’ve thrived under, and how quickly this mindset gives way to techno-fascism. There’s also Evelyn’s former team member, Nora, who has quit the tech world in favor of being a DJ “activist,” and her current lead Rae, a compassionate person who genuinely believes in the power of Eliza to better people’s lives. The writing does an excellent job of justifying everyone’s points of view and highlighting the limits of their ideology without simplifying their sense of morality.
Why this game works so well isn’t just its willingness to stare in the face of uncomfortably relevant subject matter, but its ultimately empathetic message. It offers no simple solutions to the world’s problems, but also avoids falling into utter despair. Instead, it places measured but inspiring faith in the power of making small, meaningful impacts on the people around you, and simply trying to put some good into your world. It’s a game both terrifying and comforting in its frank conclusions.
2. Death Stranding
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For a game as willfully dumb as this one often is - that, for example, insists on giving all of its characters with self-explanatory names long monologues about how they got that name - Death Stranding was one of the most thought provoking games I’ve played in a while. Outside of its indulgent, awkwardly paced narrative, the game offers plenty of reflection on the impact the internet has had on our lives. As Sam Porter Bridges, you’re hiking across a post-apocalyptic America, reconnecting isolated cities by delivering supplies, building infrastructure, and, probably most importantly, connecting them to the Chiral Network, an internet of sorts constructed of supernatural material of nebulous origin. Through this structure, the game offers surprisingly insightful commentary about the necessity for communication, cooperation, and genuine love and care within a community.
The lonely world you’re tasked to explore, and the way you’re given blips of encouragement within the solitude through the structures and “likes” you give and receive through the game’s asynchronous multiplayer system, offers some striking parallels for those of us particularly “online” people who feel simultaneous desperation for human contact and aversion to social pressures. I’ve heard the themes of this game described as “incoherent” due to the way it seems to view the internet both as a powerful tool to connect people and a means by which people become isolated and alienated, but are both of these statements not completely true to reality? The game simplifies some of its conclusions - Kojima seems particularly ignorant of America’s deep structural inequities and abuses that lead to a culture of isolation and alienation. And yet, the questions it asks are provocative enough that they compelled me to keep thinking about them far longer than the answers it offers.
Beyond the surprisingly rich thematic content, this game is mostly just a joy to play. Death Stranding builds kinetic drama out of the typically rote parts of games. Moving from point A to point B has become an increasingly tedious chore in the majority of AAA open world games, but this is a game built almost entirely out of moving from point A to point B, and it makes it thrilling. The simple act of walking down a hill while trying to balance a heavy load on your back and avoiding rocks and other obstacles fulfills the promise of the term ‘walking simulator’ in a far more interesting way than most games given that descriptor. The game consistently doles out new ways to navigate terrain, which peaked for me about two thirds of the way through the game when, after spending hours setting up a network of zip lines, a delivery offered me the opportunity to utilize the entire thing in a wildly satisfying journey from one end of the map to another. It was the gaming moment of the year.
1. Outer Wilds
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The first time the sun exploded in my Outer Wilds playthrough, I was probably about to die anyway. I had fallen through a black hole, and had yet to figure out how to recover from that, so I was drifting listlessly through space with diminishing oxygen as the synths started to pick up and I watched the sun fall in on itself and then expand throughout the solar system as my vision went went. The moment gave me chills, not because I wasn’t already doomed anyway, but because I couldn’t help but think about my neighbors that I had left behind to explore space. I hadn’t known that mere minutes after I left the atmosphere the solar system would be obliterated, but I was at least able to watch as it happened. They probably had no idea what happened. Suddenly their lives and their planet and everything they had known were just...gone. And then I woke up, with the campfire burning in front of me, and everyone looking just as I had left it. And I became obsessed with figuring out how to stop that from happening again. 
What surprised me is that every time the sun exploded, it never failed to produce those chills I felt the first time. This game is masterful in its art, sound, and music design that manages to produce feelings so intense from an aesthetic so quaint. Tracking down fellow explorers by following the sound of their harmonica or acoustic guitar. Exploring space in a rickety vessel held together by wood and tape. Translating logs of conversations of an ancient alien race and finding the subject matter of discussion to be about small interpersonal drama as often as it is revelatory secrets of the universe. All of the potentially twee aspects of the game are balanced out by an innate sense of danger and terror that comes from exploring space and strange worlds alone. At times, the game dips into pure horror, making other aspects of the presentation all the more charming by comparison. And then there’s the clockwork machinations of the 22-minute loop you explore within, rewarding exploration and experimentation with reveals that make you feel like a genius for figuring out the puzzle at the same time that you’re stunned by the divulgence of a new piece of information.
The last few hours of the game contained a couple puzzles so obfuscated that I had to consult a guide, which admittedly lessened the impact of those reveals, but it all led to one of the most equally devastating and satisfying endings I’ve experienced in a video game recently. I really can’t say enough good things about this game. It’s not only my favorite game this year, but easily one of my favorite games of the decade, and really, of all-time, when it comes down to it.
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master-sass-blast · a year ago
Announcement for the CHC -11/1/2019
Okay, so, here’s the thing.
Some of you may not know this, but I do not work or go to school. A couple years ago, I suffered from a near total breakdown of my mental and physical health, and as such I had to put everything on hold to focus on stabilizing and getting better.
In that time, I really came into my own with writing fanfiction, especially for the Colossus Hyperfixation Collection. I love doing it; it’s one of my favorite things.
However, since I’m finally getting better, I need to try and at least get my career back on track. I was working on writing a novel before my health spiraled, and I still want to get it finished and try to get it published. I also have a massive series and novel-verse entailed with that novel that I want to do, along with some e-reader stories that I want to try my hand at.
The only way I’ve ever been able to post once a week for this series is because I’ve literally had nothing else going in my life. It’s been fun, and at times challenging, but... my life is changing. And that means that I won’t be able to post as often.
None of that is easy for me to admit. I have OCD, which means that any sort of deviation from my routine is very distressing for me. I’ve been keeping this schedule for over a year, so I’m sure you can imagine how deeply ingrained it is in my head.
I also don’t know what my new posting schedule is going to look like in the wake of getting back to living life and doing adult things --which is also not comfortable for my OCD. The CHC is not going away, by any means; I intend to see it through to the end of its story because I love it dearly. I’m just not sure how fast that story is going to be told after a certain point.
This change will be coming at the beginning of 2020, since that’s the time marker I set for myself to try and step back into being a professional novelist. I’ll be posting as usual up until then, but after that... we’re just going to have to see where the chips fall. The schedule will be dependent on my health and capacity first, time available second. Just because you have “time” doesn’t mean you should necessarily spend it in certain ways.
Thank you all in advance for understanding and bearing with me while I get this all figured out. This is a challenging time for me, with my OCD and whatnot, and I appreciate your patience as I try to navigate the next part of my journey.
However, since we’re about at the halfway point of the CHC (at least as far as storytelling goes, if not fic count), I thought it’d be a good time to introduce some fic concepts I’ve been toying with for a while to y’all! They’ll be listed under the cut with little descriptions and their respective “main” pairing(s). Feel free to peruse the list, and if anything strikes your fancy, let me know via reblogging, commenting, sending in an ask, and/or DM-ing me! (Hopefully, Tumblr will be nice and let me see everything.)
[Also, these aren’t all the fics I’ve been toying with, just the ones I feel most confident/passionate about. I also reserve the right to strike any of these fics from the list in the future depending on my interest and ability at the time.]
Something Wicked This Way Comes -Piotr Rasputin x Reader: Piotr winds up meeting and dating the Reader who, unbeknownst to him, is a reincarnation of Baba Yaga and operates as a vigilante in Hell’s Kitchen. He also keeps his identity as a mutant and X-Man a secret from the Reader due to fear of persecution (and also plot drama). Shit hits the fan when they discover each other’s secret identities --and then again when it’s revealed that an ancient goddess is meddling in the affairs of Hell’s Kitchen with intentions for evil. It’s up to the X-Force, the Reader, the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, and the Punisher to save the day before it’s too late. (Piotr’s POV; features Frank Castle x Karen Page, Matt Murdock x Elektra Natchios, and Nathan Summers x Wade Wilson. Would probably be around 15-20 chapters.)
High School/Non-Mutant AU -Piotr Rasputin x Reader: Begins at start of sophomore year and follows through until senior year/after senior year. Follows Reader as she recovers from car accident wherein she lost both her parents and adjusts to living in New York and with her uncle. Reader meets Piotr, a Russian transfer student, in class and assigned to him as a study partner. The two initially butt heads, but eventually manage to resolve their differences and become friends. Piotr loops the Reader into his friend group (featuring Wade, Nathan, Neena, Karen Page, and Frank Castle), and the group spends the rest of high school going on adventures together and dealing with school. The Reader and Piotr also develop feelings for each other, but will they ever be brave enough to act on them? (Yes, yes they will. Reader’s POV; features Frank Castle x Karen Page and Nathan Summers x Wade Wilson. Would probably be around 30-40 chapters.)
Cinderella/Non-Mutant Retelling -Piotr Rasputin x Reader: Essentially Cinderella, but with a lot of liberties taken and extra plot jammed in. Set somewhere in Russia-ish, don’t ask me what time period. (Reader’s POV; would probably be around 12-14 chapters.)
Storyteller/Non-Mutant -Piotr Rasputin x Reader: The Reader, after dealing with too much stress while living in New York, decides to head to Maine for a multi-month sabbatical to work on her latest novel. The house she rents in next to an artist and teacher’s named Piotr Rasputin. The Reader, despite being eccentric and awkward, manages to charm Piotr with her quirky behavior, and the two wind up becoming fast friends. Set during winter, lots of fireside fluff, very meta oops. (Reader’s POV; feeling around 18 chapters but I could be wrong.)
Mafia/Non-Mutant AU -Piotr Rasputin x Reader: Aka the one I reserve the right not to do because of how much sin will be in it, but essentially: the Reader is a sex worker who meets Piotr when he hires Nathan and Wade for some mercenary work. The two decide to strike up a “professional” relationship --meaning he hires her for sex and they have a lot of it. Over the course of the story, the two grow closer and closer together, until they finally wind up in a relationship of sorts. Unfortunately, Hell’s Kitchen isn’t even a safe place for the Wicked, what with vigilantes looming around every corner. (Reader’s POV; features Nathan Summers x Wade Wilson and Frank Castle x Karen Page. Easily over 30 chapters.)
If You Get Yourself a Duckling -Frank Castle x Karen Page: Probably the one I’ve talked most about on my blog. Essentially, Frank Castle winds up accidentally adopting a murder!kid who then helps him get together with Karen. Follows the events after Season 2 of Daredevil, the events of the Punisher Seasons One and Two, Season 3 of Daredevil, and my take on Season 3 of the Punisher/Season Four of Daredevil, and yes in that order because I want Frank around when Bullseye shows up. Also has two different “after” stories attached to it, so this one’s a chonker. (Frank Castle POV.)
Rock Star/Music Critic AU -Frank Castle x Karen Page: Frank Castle is a frontman for a rock band, Karen is a music critic/journalist. The two meet through Karen’s work and hit it off. The story follows their relationship as it buds and blossoms. (Mixed POV; either 15 chapters or over 40, no way of telling until I write it.)
Close to Home -Frank Castle x Karen Page: Frank and Karen reconnect after the events of Season Two of the Punisher and try to work together (along with Matt and Foggy) to solve a string of mob-perpetrated crimes and catch whoever’s behind them. However, the true mastermind of the crimes is much closer than they ever realized... and seems to be gunning for Karen. (Frank POV; probably around 20 chapters.)
Stripper!Reader Fic -Frank Castle x Reader: The Reader is a stripper who works at one of the clubs that Frank cleans the Irish out of in Season Two of Daredevil. The two wind up running into each other several times and helping each other with various problems. Eventually, they develop a camaraderie (and feelings for each other). (Frank’s POV; definitely over 30 chapters. This one also has two AU fics based on the main fic... so yeah.) 
Your Love is My Drug -Frank Castle x Reader: The Reader is a friend of Jessica Jones and is introduced to Frank Castle --whereupon she realizes he’s her soulmate. However, the Reader is certain that he’ll want nothing to do with her due to her issues with substance abuse and her family’s history as a “mob” type family. She does her best to stay away from him and her demons, but she can’t outrun either of them forever. (Reader’s POV; definitely over 30 chapters.)
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Quick Review of...
So much for not being able to read much haha... It feels like my reading slump is well and truly over. I ended up reading five books in five days (yaay me!) mostly because as soon as I finished one I started the other straight away without worrying about writing reviews for any of them but me being me I now feel like sharing (mostly because the books I ended up reading were by lesser-known/self-published authors and well I wanted to put my reviews out there in case it helped anyone else find their books). I’ll be posting one review every couple of days hopefully.
Anyway... Moving on to the review...
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Add it to Goodreads
Shahira is a 30-something divorcee with no plans to re-marry, having lost her faith in men after the mental and physical abuse she was subjected to by her ex-husband but when Shahira’s only living parent and support passes away it gets even more difficult to survive as a single woman in Lahore especially when all the “well-meaning uncles” and male neighbours come a-knocking under the guise of sympathy.
In swoops Salma Auntie (the grandmother of the little girl that Shahira tutors) who has a proposal for Shahira, marry her rich, busy bussinessman son and show him what he’s missing out on.
At first, Shahira laughs off the marriage proposal but when Hussain rings up with a proposal of his own - a contract, he’ll pay her a monthly salary to be a mother to his daughter and pretend to be his wife on paper only, and the offer starts to seem enticing.
All is well and good until Hussain realises he might just be falling in love with his wife, now all he’s got to do is convince his wife to give them a go.
(For the official synopsis click the Goodreads link)
I’d heard of Zeenat Mahal back before publishers started giving Own Voices (and books by POC for POC) a chance. So when I won a Kindle Unlimited subscription (thanks to my brother) one of the first books I downloaded to read was The Contract by Zeenat Mahal.
  It’s a romance set in Lahore, Pakistan! Yes I know there are some other books that may also be set in Pakistan but they’re usually literary tomes or some kind of social commentary wrapped up in the guise of fiction without an ounce of romance anywhere near them.
The heroine is nobody’s damsel, she gives as good as she gets verbally and I loved it! What with the rampant stereotypes in tv dramas (and some books) of South Asian leading ladies usually only being good for a cry/needing rescuing by their husbands/brothers/cousins etc this was a breath of fresh air.
The same goes for the doting in-law family/mother-in law, usually the in-laws are portrayed as being mean/ treating the daughter-in-law like a worker and it was nice to see Zeenat turn that stereotype on its head.
  There’s only really the one in an otherwise enjoyable read, there were one or two instances that felt to me like weight-shaming (of an 11 year old). Shahira comments on how much weight Natasha (her student and eventual step-daughter) has put on and then when Natasha loses the weight Shahira thinks to herself that Natasha looks even better now that she lost weight.
Overall Thoughts
The Contract by Zeenat Mahal was even better than I had expected it to be. It’s down as a novella on Amazon but really didn’t feel like one (it felt like a short story to me). Usually, short stories/novellas feel like they miss out a good few chunks and at the end of reading I always feel short changed but I didn’t feel short changed with this one, I felt like I had read a full 300 something page novel by the time it finished. There’s only ever been one other novella (also quite recently) that has felt like that to me.
I started another Zeenat Mahal book as soon as I finished this that’s how good this one was, I’ll probably be writing a review for that book as well once I’ve read it so keep your eyes out for that one as well.
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the-desolated-quill · 2 years ago
The Quill Seal Of Approval Awards - The Best of 2018
Hello and welcome, dear reader, to the greatest, most important awards ceremony in the history of entertainment. The Quill Seal Of Approval Awards. The award of recognition that everyone on Earth covets even though they don’t know it. For the Quill Seal Of Approval is a most esteemed prize for hard work and artistry. Better than the Golden Globes, more prestigious than the BAFTAs and guaranteed to be more diverse than the Academy Awards. You know your film, novel, TV show or video game has achieved legendary status when some random nobody on the internet says it’s the best in some obscure top 10 list that’s read by only a couple of people. That’s the true sign of success.
First, a few parish notices. Obviously this is my subjective opinion, so if you disagree with my choices, that’s fine. Go make your own list. (also remember that my opinion is 100% objective, scientific, factual and literal truth and anyone who disagrees is clearly a philistine and a dummy and a poopy-head whose mum smells of elderberries). Also please bear in mind that I haven’t been able to experience everything 2018 has to offer for one reason or another. In other words, please don’t be upset that A Star Is Born isn’t on this list. I’m sure it’s as amazing as everyone says it is. I just never got around to watching it.
Okay. Let us begin.
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Inside No. 9 - Series 4
BBC2′s Inside No. 9, written by the League of Gentlemen’s Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, is an anthology series that’s often sadly overlooked, but it’s really worth a watch if you’re into shows like Black Mirror and The Twilight Zone, and this series in particular has been fantastic. We’ve had an episode written entirely in iambic pentameter, an episode whose chronology runs backwards, a live episode that really plays around with the format, episodes containing tragic and biting satire, and one especially twisted episode that brings out a side of Steve Pemberton we’ve never seen before. Series 4 has been a real treat from start to finish, with each episode beautifully written and expertly performed. Inside No. 9 deserves to share the same pedestal as Black Mirror, no question.
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Black Panther
I’m sure everyone knows about my less than flattering views on the Marvel Cinematic Universe by now, which is what made Black Panther such a breath of fresh air for me. Stripping away all the convoluted crap, Black Panther has often been compared to The Dark Knight, and for good reason. Like The Dark Knight, this movie uses the superhero genre to tackle real social and political issues. In Black Panther’s case, exploring just what it means to be black in the modern world. Boasting an impressive cast of black actors, strong female characters, an engaging and complex antagonist, fantastic special effects and truly excellent direction from Ryan Coogler, Black Panther represents a new benchmark for Marvel, the superhero genre and the film industry in general. It proves how important and how lucrative diversity and representation in media can be, and it unintentionally shows how flawed the Marvel business model has become. The reason behind Black Panther’s success is simple. It’s because it’s bloody brilliant. And the reason it’s bloody brilliant is because Coogler was allowed to realise his own creative vision without Kevin Feige and Mickey Mouse breathing down his neck. Perhaps they should take note of that in future.
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Deadpool 2
Of course Deadpool 2 is going to be on this list. Are you really surprised?
The Merc with the Mouth goes from strength to strength in the rare instance where the sequel is actually as good as, if not better than, the original. The first Deadpool was a great origin story for the character, but Deadpool 2 felt like an adventure ripped straight from the comics themselves. Crass, ultra violent and hysterically funny, Deadpool 2 is the crowning jewel of the X-Men franchise. Fan favourites such as Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Colossus return as well as new characters such as Domino, played by the exceptional Zazie Beetz, Cable, played by the astounding Josh Brolin, and Firefist, played by Julian Dennison who deserves all the success in the world because good God this kid can act!
But of course the star of the film is Deadpool himself with Ryan Reynolds once again proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that he understands this character back to front. Not only is he hysterically funny, capturing the character’s irreverent tone perfectly, he also absolutely nails the tragic underpinnings of Deadpool that make him such a wonderful character. In between the f-bombs and gore are moments of real drama and emotional pathos as the film tackles themes such as loss, discrimination, abuse and suicidal depression. All this whilst taking the piss out of 2017′s Logan. 
Oh yeah, and it also features the first openly LGBT superheroes in cinematic history. Fuck you Disney! NegaYukio and Poololosus for the win! LOL! No, but seriously, now that you have the rights to X-Men back, if you try and censor Deadpool in any way, shape or form, I will kick your arse.
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God Of War (2018)
Yes Kratos is back, having successfully destroyed the world of Greek mythology and now has his eyes on the Norse Gods. And he has a son now. What could possibly go wrong?
Seriously though, this new God Of War is simply exquisite. While I have long admired the God Of War franchise for its interpretation and adaptation of Greek mythology, the previous games in the series have never exactly been the most sophisticated when it comes to storytelling (and the less said about the casual sexism, the better. Yes Sony, I promise I understand the thematic reasons behind playing a minigame that allows you to have sex with Aphrodite in God Of War 3, but it still doesn’t change the fact that it’s sexist as shit). God Of War 2018 changes all that with an intelligent and engaging story that allows us understand and connect with Kratos at a more personal level than we’ve ever done before. Taking place years after God Of War 3, Kratos is older, wiser and trying to raise his son Atreus in the hopes that he won’t make the same mistakes Kratos did in his past. Not only is the story amazing, continuing the franchise’s themes of vengeance and the strained relationships between parents and their children, the gameplay is also a ton of fun with many memorable moments and boss fights.
And as an added bonus, we get two strong female characters that aren’t treated like discardable sex objects. That was nice of them.
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Incredibles 2
The long awaited sequel to The Incredibles finally arrived in 2018 and it did not disappoint. Incredibles 2 was everything I could have wanted and more. Continuing on from the events of the first movie, we see Elastigirl take the spotlight as she fights the Screenslaver whilst trying to persuade the worlds’ governments to lift the ban on superheroes. Meanwhile Mr. Incredible takes a back seat as he tries to reconnect with his kids Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack and prove he can be a good, supportive dad. 
Continuing to draw inspiration from Fantastic Four, X-Men and Watchmen, Incredibles 2 is... well... incredible. Expanding the world he created, Brad Bird tells a smart, funny and compelling story that stands head and shoulders above the majority of superhero movie fodder we get nowadays. Elastigirl flourishes in the lead role this time around and the kids get a lot more development, the Screenslaver is a great villain that compliments the themes of the franchise wonderfully, and we get to see a whole bunch of new characters such as Voyd and the Deavor siblings as well as the return of old favourites like Frozone and Edna Mode. 
Honestly, the baby alone is worth the price of admission. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another fourteen years for Incredibles 3.
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Marvel’s Spider-Man
Marvel’s Spider-Man is an amazing game. But of course you knew that already. It’s made by Insomniac Games, the same guys behind Ratchet & Clank. Of course it was going to be brilliant.
Simply put, this game does for Spider-Man what the Arkham games did for Batman. Not only is it a great game with brilliant combat and fun web swinging mechanics, it also has a great story worthy of the wall crawler. Unlike the movies, which seem to continuously yank Peter Parker back into high school with each new reboot as those the poor bastard were attached to the fucker on a bungee rope, this Spidey has been fighting crime for eight years. With great power comes many responsibilities as we see him struggle to juggle crime fighting, his new job as a scientist, his commitments to helping Aunt May at the F.E.A.S.T shelter and trying to win his ex Mary Jane Watson back after a six month split. It’s a brilliant story featuring many classic villains such as Shocker and Electro as well as lesser known villains like Screwball and the criminally underrated Mister Negative who finally gets to be the central antagonist in a Spider-Man adaptation. It’s fun to play, engaging, dramatic and really emotional at points. I cried real tears at the end. What a punch to the gut that was.
OOOOOH! And we might be getting to play as Miles Morales in the sequel! I sure hope so! :D
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The Grinch
At this point I imagine many of you are scratching your heads. 
“Really Quill? The Grinch? Illumination’s The Grinch? This deserves the Quill Seal Of Approval? Are you sure?” Yes dear reader, I’m absolutely sure. Just hear me out.
It’s true that the majority of Dr Seuss adaptations are shit. While the live action version of the Grinch starring Jim Carrey has a cult following and is fondly remembered by some, it’s still pretty crap, and even Illumination themselves screwed up royally with their adaptation of The Lorax. But this new Grinch is truly excellent. For starters, the animation is gorgeous. This is clearly the format that works best for Seuss movies. Benedict Cumberbatch does a really good job voicing the character, giving him depth and complexity beyond just being a big old meanie. The film also has something no other Seuss film has ever had before. Subtlety. Illumination have clearly learned their lesson after The Lorax. They’re no longer bashing you over the head with a moral message. They’re not trying to over-complicate a simple story by adding pointless sub-plot after pointless sub-plot. In fact the bits they do add actually feed into the main core of the narrative, as opposed to The Lorax, which just confused things. And while there are cute Minion-esque sidekicks like there are in a lot of Illumination films, The Grinch limits it to two (Max the dog and a reindeer named Fred), they’re both legitimately funny, serve an important narrative purpose and don’t distract from the more serious and emotional moments.
In all honesty, I was debating between giving the Quill Seal of Approval to The Grinch or to Bumblebee (the first legitimately good Transformers movie), but I decided to go with The Grinch because of how it handles the character and the story’s message. A lot of people scoffed at the idea of giving the Grinch a back story (and to the film’s credit they don’t force the issue or over-explain where the Grinch came from) but it’s honestly what makes this new adaptation of The Grinch so special to me. He’s gone from being a Scrooge-like monster to an anxiety filled misanthrope who associates Christmas with being alone. It may sound like a jarring change on paper, but in practice it honestly works so well and adds a whole new dimension to the Grinch. It’s treated with absolute care and sincerity and the film really earns its emotional moments, particularly at the end when we see the Grinch sit down to have Christmas dinner with the Whos.
If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you give this new Grinch a chance. You might be pleasantly surprised :)
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Doctor Who - Series 11
A woman?! In the TARDIS?! How absurd!
Jodie Whittaker made history as the first woman to play the Doctor and the new series doesn’t disappoint. Whittaker is predictably brilliant in the role, giving the character compassion, charm and wit. We also get a new bunch of companions (including the always brilliant Bradley Walsh as Graham) who all have some great moments in Series 11 and the relationships they form with each other is incredibly touching and fun to watch. But the writing, my God, the writing. Admittedly not every episode has been perfect, but it’s leagues above anything Moffat has given us during his disastrous reign. The majority of Series 11 has been well written and intelligent, tackling important and relevant social issues (something Doctor Who has always been doing and anyone who says otherwise is an idiot) and focusing on likeable and relatable characters rather than convoluted series arcs. We got to meet Rosa Parks, witness the partition of India, and ponder on the dangers of automation whilst the Doctor tries to save the world from bubble wrap. Oh, and the Daleks are scary again! I know! I couldn’t believe it either!
What makes this all the more remarkable is who the showrunner is. Chris Chibnall. A writer I’ve often criticised in the past for being derivative and shit, and yet somehow he’s managed to create some of the best Doctor Who I’ve seen in a long time. Not only has his writing improved dramatically since his Torchwood days, he’s also demonstrated a commitment to having diverse representation both in front of and behind the camera as well as in the scripts themselves. For the first time in what feels like an age, Doctor Who feels like Doctor Who again, and I’m ecstatically happy.
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Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
How come we don’t see many animated superhero movies in the cinema? Considering the medium from which superheroes came from, you’d think it would be a no-brainer. Presumably it’s because Disney have got such a strangle hold on the animation market, but that’s hopefully going to change thanks to Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (or, Sony’s Repentance for The Emoji Movie).
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. The animation is gorgeous. It’s pretty much an animated comic book and it stands out as one of the most unique looking animated films in recent memory. Spider-Verse is essentially a love letter to the legacy of Spider-Man as we see multiple different versions of Spidey, including Spider-Gwen, Spider-Ham and Nicholas Cage as Ghost Rider cosplaying as Spider-Man Noir, demonstrating not only the sheer variety of Spider-Men we’ve had over the years, but also exploring what connects them together. With all these different interpretations across many different universes, the idea of Spider-Man comes to the same thing. An ordinary person who experiences tragedy and becomes something greater. It’s hopeful and inspirational in a way Spider-Man films hasn’t been for a while now (Spider-Man: Homecoming sucked donkey balls. Period).
But let’s not forget that while the film explores the Spider-Verse, the main focus is Miles Morales who finally makes his cinematic debut. Not only is it a very faithful adaptation of Ultimate Spider-Man’s origin story, Miles himself is such a great central character for the modern age and arguably has more relevance to today than Peter Parker does. The characters are funny and relatable and the story is expertly crafted and impactful. But then what do you expect from the writers and directors of The Lego Movie? (if only Disney hadn’t interfered with Solo: A Star Wars Story. We could have had it all).
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Mowgli: Legend Of The Jungle
This one kind of snuck up on me toward the end of December, but I knew the moment I saw it I had to include it on this list.
Mowgli: Legend Of The Jungle is an adaptation of The Jungle Book with Andy Serkis making his directorial debut. Yes the same guy who did the motion capture for Gollum in Lord Of The Rings and Caesar in the rebooted Planet Of The Apes movies and who totes deserves an Oscar for Best Actor (fuck you Academy Awards!), and he brings this same motion capture technology to this film. Unlike Disney’s Jungle Book, which merely rehashes the original animated film whilst somehow stripping all the charm from it, Mowgli sticks closer to the original Rudyard Kipling book. This isn’t a cheery musical. This film is often dark and intense as we see Mowgli (played wonderfully by Rohan Chand) struggle to find his place in the world. He knows he doesn’t belong with the animals in the jungle, but he doesn’t really fit in with the world of man neither. It’s an emotional and dramatic character piece brought to life by great writing, great acting and stunning special effects. 
Andy Serkis has expressed a desire to do an adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, and after watching this movie, I would love to see that. If you haven’t already, go watch Mowgli: Legend Of The Jungle. It’s available to stream on Netflix and it’s truly amazing.
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And that’s it for 2018. Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Quill Seal Of Approval Awards. Unfortunately we’re on a limited budget here on The Desolated Quill, so I can’t offer any sort of trophy or medal or anything. What I can do though is write the words ‘I’m an awesome cookie’ on a post-it note and stick it on your forehead. Will that do?
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eternityunicorn · 2 years ago
Elijah’s Eternity: New Orleans - Part Two
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Author: eternityunicorn 
Genre: Romance/Drama/AU
Pairing: Elijah Mikealson x OC
Warnings: Violance, Smut (*Smut chapters marked +18)
Summary: Sequel to the AU Elijah’s Eternity - Ten years have passed, a mournful Elijah has finally started to move on without his lady. In that time, he has gained a reunited family and has also found a new lady love. Yet, all is not well as danger comes for the smallest member of the Mikaelson family: Hope, and it prompts Niklaus to call upon the white goddess, drawing her back into Elijah’s life. As they reunite, can Elijah really say he’s truly moved on?
NOTE: OC and original elements are from my up and coming novel series!
Elijah followed Niklaus into his painting studio. The bright sun shone through the window brightly, glimmering off the glass jars upon the paint covered table by his brother’s easel with various brushes poking out the tops. It was to these brushes that Niklaus went. He took one of them from the container and dipped it into some red paint he had laying about. 
With an over the shoulder smirk to him, Elijah’s brother knelt down and began to draw runes onto the hardwoods. Elijah realized immediately that Niklaus was preparing to cast a spell. Though he found it odd because it was impossible for vampires to use magic.
“Niklaus?” He questioned.
“We might not be able to do Earth-based magic,” his brother grinned slyly, “but nobody said we couldn’t use the magic of the gods.”
So that was it. Loki must have shown Niklaus how to use magic from the Immortal Universe. There was probably some law against it, as anything based in the Mortal Universe wasn’t supposed to know about the other side at all. Instead of mentioning this possible violation, he simply watched with interest as Niklaus wrote the runes for ‘summon the white goddess’.
Once they were complete, the hybrid put the brush and paint off to the side. Then he hovered his hand over the center of the rune design. He said a few words in a language that Elijah couldn’t recognize. He only knew that they were not of mortal origins. 
The runes began to glow bright blue and hummed, much like in the way a unicorn’s horn does when using magic. Then after a moment, the markings ceased to glow or hum. Niklaus stood and moved away from the runes, as if he had accomplished his goal. There was just one problem; Eternity didn’t immediately appear, as Elijah assumed she would. 
“Well, did it work?” He asked his brother impatiently. 
“Relax, Elijah. She will come,” Niklaus calmly answered. “It’s not the type of spell that results in instant gratification. We will have to wait until nightfall, but she will be here. I promise.”
Elijah tried to play off his nerves as nonchalantly as he could, but of course, his brother knew the secret that was his relationship with Eternity from start to finish. Fortunately, he didn’t have to suffer from any more of Niklaus’s knowingness, because Gia had entered the room to unknowingly save him.
“Hey, Elijah,” the raven-haired vampire said with a radiant smile. “The rest of the family is wondering where you two have gotten off to. I offered to come check. Is everything alright?”
Elijah attempted to relax and succeeded to a degree. “Yes, all is well. Niklaus here was just making a call,” he replied to her with a tight smile, while gesturing to his smug brother. “We should be getting a response by nightfall. Hopefully, with any luck, this family’s troubles will soon be over.”
Gia’s interest was piqued. She moved further into the room, “Oh? That’s good. How, exactly?”
Niklaus smirked at Elijah, which in turn made him want to punch it from his smug face. “An old friend of your fiancé’s is coming into town, at my request,” his brother told Gia, who turned a curious expression unto him. “This friend has powers like you’ve never seen, my dear. She should be able to help us with our predicament.”
“A friend?” Gia questioned turning back to Niklaus. “What friend? And why are you only now calling this supposedly powerful person up to help? Why didn’t you do that before the Hollow possessed Hope?”
Elijah’s brother shrugged, “I needed to exhaust all our options first, before seeking...outside help. Now that we have, it is safe to call upon divinity.” Again, he looked at Elijah mischievously. 
“Well, that’s great,” she said while putting one hand in the back pocket of her jeans, then gestured behind her with the other. “Shouldn't we tell the others of this grand master plan? Hayley would especially like to know that her daughter is going to be safe. She’s fit to be tied as we speak.” 
“It’s not time for them to know,” Niklaus replied mysteriously. “They will find out this evening. Gia, be a dear, and go tell my lovely wife and siblings that all is well. That I have things well in hand.”
Gia looked displeased with the way that Elijah’s brother was ordering her about. Yet, she still complied with a roll of her brown eyes and left the room to do as Niklaus asked.
Elijah smiled fondly at her exit, knowing he was probably going to hear about the hybrid’s rude behavior later from the baby vampire. She and his younger brother never did get along and never would it seemed, even if she did marry into the family and become Nicklaus’s sister-in-law.
“Ah, the drama that is about to unfold,” chuckled Elijah’s little brother, after Gia was clear of ear shot. “This shall be quite the entertaining evening. I rather look forward to it.”
The smile shifted into a frown upon Elijah’s face and he rolled his eyes with an exasperated sigh. “I’m so glad that you are amused, brother,” he said, looking out the window. “Though, I fear you may be disappointed. I highly doubt Eternity will be...catty, as you undoubtedly hope she will be, nor will Gia for that matter. Both women are rather understanding, insightful, and most of all, above such childish nonsense, Niklaus.” He delivered a tight, unamused smile to his brother.
“Oh, I don’t doubt it,” Niklaus replied, “I actually wasn’t referring to the women, but to you, dear brother. I know where your heart really lies and I can’t help but wonder what you will do, once your former lady love finally returns to the fray?”
Elijah sighed exasperatedly again, rubbing his fingers over his forehead as he did. “I don’t know,” he spoke honestly, “but I do wish you wouldn’t use my life as a source of entertainment. I spent these past ten years as half a man without Eternity. I am trying to move on with my life, to love again, to be happy. Yet, it seems this is just a game to you, my suffering, my misery.”
Niklaus immediately turned completely serious then, for the first time since this whole conversation started. “Brother, I do not take lightly your pain,” he said, “but it is your fault for daring to love a creature that should have been left well enough alone. I told you that you would no longer belong to yourself, that you would belong to her, yet you didn’t heed my warning. You didn’t listen.”
“No, I suppose I did not,” he shoved his hand into his pants pocket to hide his clenching fist. He wanted to punch his brother for the whole ‘I told you so’ speech he had been spitting at him since they reunited. It was growing tiresome. “Yet, I do not regret it. I could never regret loving her, despite the misery of this life in her absence.”
Niklaus came over and clasped his shoulder, “Well, perhaps your misery can end, brother. Maybe she will return to you. The reason why she left in the first place is gone. She killed Loki. There could be hope still.”
Elijah huffed. He didn’t want to even entertain the idea that this time she’d stay if he asked her to or if she volunteered to, knowing there was a chance he’d only end up hurting himself more. Still, he appreciated his brother’s attempt to console him. It was a nice change from his earlier amusement at his expense.
“Perhaps, but I think it best not to think so hopefully,” he replied and then with a smile that didn’t reach his eyes, he changed the subject. “We should head back to the others and prepare for our incoming guest.”
With that, Elijah swept out of the room, before Niklaus could say anything else. His brother followed him and they rejoined the family in the study, where the meeting had been called. All eyes fell to him and Niklaus the moment they reentered the room.
“I’m sure little Gia has already told you,” his brother announced in that boisterous way of his, “that all will be well by nightfall. So you, my family, can go about your day without worry. Hope will be saved this day.”
Everyone looked at each other and then back at Niklaus as if he had finally gone completely mad. None of them moved. They each wanted to know what was going on? Why their brother was acting so cheerfully and unworried when only moments before he was distraught and desperate to save his daughter.
“What the bloody hell are you going on about, Nik?” Rebekah demanded. “What’s with all the secrecy, you wanker? I think we’d all like to know.”
“Yeah, what Rebekah said,” Hayley nodded, crossing her arms over her chest in that authoritative way of hers. “Gia said that you made a call? What have you done exactly, Klaus? How will our daughter be saved?”
Elijah decided to not play Niklaus’s game of mystery. Before his brother could spin more riddles, he took the opportunity to explain, “A decade ago, both Niklaus and I had separate encounters of the two of the most profound creatures to ever exist. We learned the answer to the question so many in this world seek; are we alone in the universe? The answer is simply no, we are not. My brother knows how to call upon these creatures or rather a specific one - the most powerful creature to ever exist. It is this...goddess that will help save Hope.”
“Oh! Did you have to ruin my fun, Elijah?” Niklaus whirled on him, looking utterly annoyed and disappointed.
Hayley approached Elijah, hope sparkling in her hazel eyes. “How do you know this ‘goddess’, as you call her, will help?”
Elijah smiled in distance fondness, his voice thick with emotion, an affliction he couldn’t help, as he replied, “I know, because this particular woman is a light in the darkness. She is divine and powerful enough to defeat the Hollow without fail. You don’t have to worry, Hayley. Hope will be safe in a matter of hours. You have my word.”
The female hybrid gave him a curious, contemplative look, which prompted Elijah to put distance between them before she became too curious and continue to grill him until she figured out the truth. He knew he was unable to hide behind his usual suave mask, not this time, not in regard to Eternity. The cracks in the mask were obvious every time.
Once the explanation was given, he fled the room, unable to take the inquisitiveness of his family. Nicklaus could fill in the gaps, though he knew to keep certain details quiet or else he’d incur his big brother’s wrath. Not surprisingly, Gia followed after him. 
“Elijah,” she called after him, as she trailed him down the stairs into the courtyard. 
At the bottom of the stairs, he fluidly turned back and smiled at her as she too reached the bottom. She really was a beautiful woman and so real, but not for the first time, did Elijah see the white ghost of Eternity superimposed upon Gia’s corporal form, haunting him. It would always make him believe for the briefest second that she was Eternity until the glamor faded and he was faced with the reality. 
Still, despite this, he reached for his dark haired beauty and pulled her into his arms, giving her the sweetest kiss. It was one of longing, caused by the apparition. She squeaked in surprise, before melting into him, seemingly unaware of his true heart’s desire.
Just then, Elijah heard a familiar sound, but one that he had not heard in ten years. It was the sound of demonic growling. Immediately, he broke their kiss and turned from Gia, pushing her behind him protectively as he did. 
“Elijah?” She questioned in a concerned whisper, “Elijah, what is it?”
He didn’t say anything. Instead, he put his finger to his lip to signal her to be quiet. Then he turned back to the foe that loomed in the shadows of the courtyard. As he watched for movement, the rest of the family quickly rushed from the study to hurriedly join him. They had felt the danger as well then.
“What the bloody hell is that?” Niklaus growled.
“Demons,” Elijah replied and as he did, the little green grotesque creatures emerged in a small army from the shadows. 
“We come for the girl,” one of them said in a growling hiss, as it slinked closer like a predator preparing to attack. “We want the child possessed by the one known as the Hollow. Give her to us. Now!”
With that, the demon horde did attack. Though they seemed easy to overtake, and when faced against Eternity they were, the little creatures were, in fact, quite a challenge to overcome for the Original family. Each member took on a small section, fighting them off well enough, but none were able to make a kill. This was because the demons’ hides were thick and impenetrable to any kill shot executed. They couldn’t tear their hearts out or rip their heads from their shoulders, which was frustrating as it was worrisome.
“Why won’t these nasty buggers die?” Rebekah growled as she threw one against the wall and then tossed another across the courtyard.
“I’ve never seen creatures like these before,” Kol commented as he fought against four of the demons at once, holding them at bay with his fighting prowess, but also unable to kill any of them.
Niklaus raged as did Hayley, both frustrated by the lack in ability to slay the enemy and panicked that these creatures would succeed in getting to their daughter that lay in a spell induced sleep upstairs. Finn too seemed agitated by this impossible enemy. 
Elijah didn’t know what to do. He knew that none of them could defeat these creatures. A helpless feeling coursed through him as a result, one that echoed through to the others. Then one of them slipped past their collective defenses and went after Gia, whom didn’t participate in the fighting and had ducked down behind the stair case, knowingly unable to fight but unwilling to leave Elijah.
Foolish girl, he thought as he shouted her name in panic and raced to save her from harm. He succeeded by grabbing the creature by the back of the neck and tossing it clear across the room effortlessly. Then he ordered Gia to get upstairs with Freya, whom had also remained behind, and she complied without protest, racing up the stairs. 
Just as he turned back to face the chaos around him, another demon made a leap for Elijah, but was felled before it could get it’s claws on a sacred arrow! He couldn’t see her at first, but knew that she was there.
One by one the twenty or so demons fell to her sacred arrows. They all screamed and burned as the pure energy ate them from the inside out like an administered poison. Within moments, the threat had been obliterated.
It was then, in the calm of the battle’s end, that Elijah saw Eternity standing there near the arched entryway of the compound with her yumi bow at her side and the quiver on her back. She looked the same, yet different. The ethereal glow was still there, but the light in her eyes, in her face was diminished. Even the way she held herself was changed, hard and foreboding. 
Her style reflected this change too. Instead of silky and colorful corset tops, she wore a tight and thick leather vest over her leather leggings and a thick oversized leather duster hung over her body ominously, all the leathers were worn and old looking, making her look like she was death itself. Her white hair that usually hung down around her in ever moving waves, was kept braided in tight braids along one side of her head while the rest flowed freely. Leather fingerless gloves adorned her fingers and she kept one hand resting on the hilt of her katana that was strapped to her side. She looked like a battle worn warrior, cold and tired.
Elijah couldn’t stop staring at her. It was too good to be true for her to be there.
Then he noticed that she was not alone. There was another, a mini-me, as it were. There was a young girl that looked like an almost identical clone to Eternity, yet there was a childishness to her that told Elijah that the girl was much younger than her. This clone also held a yumi bow and a quiver of arrows. She also wore similar leathers to her older counterpart, yet her slightly shorter white hair hung around her as Eternity’s normally did.
Could this be Eternity’s daughter? Elijah though with wonder.
“Well, well,” Eternity then said with a smirk, catching Elijah’s attention, “if it isn’t my favorite vampire family; the Mikaelsons. Would someone please like to tell me just what is going on here? More specifically, whom it was that was bold enough to call upon me so freely?”
It was then that Niklaus stepped forward into her view. “It was me, love. I called you.”
What followed next was both deserved and worrisome.
To Be Continued....
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