Vlog Review: Steven Universe, Season 1, Episodes 42-44

[youtube=https://youtu.be/vx8LKCDrQck] 
Reminder that Patreon backers can see these videos (including Korra, Steven Universe, and now Gravity Falls, plus my panels on anime and the apocalypse, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, and postmodern anime) 4-5 weeks early AND Near-Apocalypse articles four MONTHS early!
Those of you who follow on Tumblr, for whatever reason the videos don’t play there. Click through to JedABlue.com to watch.

Captain's Log, Weekly Digest 29

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

  • Alliances: Morwen and friends try to persuade the local sentients to join a cooperative alliance against the Vaadwaur.
  • Better With Friends: Morwen takes the Phoenix out on a tour to help out their new allies and build relationships.
  • Revolution: Eldex calls Morwen in to help expose the bluegill control of the Vaadwaur leadership to the rest of the Vaadwaur people.
  • Taking Care of Enemies: The crew of the Phoenix have a series of adventures involving uneasy alliances with enemies.
  • Borg Disconnected: The sudden disappearance of a large number of Cooperative ships leads the way to a Borg Unimatrix complex, and Morwen leads an allied fleet to take it out. Then things get… complicated.

As the flag officer of a fleet or tactical group, Starfleet regulations also require Morwen to provide a Fleet Status Report briefly summarizing the current status and mission of all ships under her command, every Stardate that’s a multiple of 10.

re:play Episode 1: Final Fantasy VI Part 1: Identities, Traumas, and Random Moogles

Made possible by the generous contributions to my Patreon! We’re just $4 away from making episode 2!
This is close-captioned; going forward I’d like for more of my videos to be, but it’s a lot of work.

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

Naturally you don't believe in that kind of thing (Prophecy of Doom)

Near Apocalpyse of '09 Logo
It’s October 6, 1992, two days before “The Forgotten,” so see that entry for top songs, movies, and headlines. Last episode we had a washed-up actor as a red herring for the villain; this episode extends that distrust of performers and performativity to having an actor be the villain.
Of course the date is fairly important to this one–the idea of a doomsday cult of the financial elite led by a charlatan astrologer seems rather more absurd now than it might have in 1992, sandwiched as that year was between the 1988 revelation that an astrologer had been consulted in planning Reagan’s schedule for most of his Presidency, and the increase in media coverage of “doomsday cults” that began with 1993’s siege of the Branch Davidian cult in Waco, Texas. In the years between, a growing undercurrent of millennial panic began to build in diverse segments of society, from the religious right (who began speaking increasingly of the Rapture or Second Coming as imminent) to technocrats (who warned of the impending doom of Y2K).
Part of this, of course, is simply the attraction of round numbers. There had been riots across Europe in the year 1000, as people believed the Christian Millennium was at its end and the apocalypse due to begin; it’s not too surprising that something similar would happen again as the year 2000 approached. But there was another force at work here, too, one that we have discussed before: the cultural malaise of apocalypse deferred.
After all, U.S. culture had spent much of the latter half of the twentieth century preparing for the apocalypse: amassing a nuclear arsenal, planning for “mutually assured destruction” (surely the most apropos initialism in military history) with the Soviet Union, building bunkers and teaching children to “duck and cover.” And in Reagan it seemed to many that we had the perfect leader for final, apocalyptic war (which, depending on your political and religious views, was the strongest argument either for him or against him): a cowboy with a zealous hatred of communism and communists, a close political alliance with the relatively new (in the 1980s) alliance of Christofascists and doomsday cults collectively referred to as the “Moral Majority” or “religious right,” and a hawkish approach to military matters.
The stage was set for an explosive final war, and instead there was a damp sizzle, as first the Berlin Wall and then the Soviet Union itself fell to internal struggles brought on primarily by economic woes traceable to the oil crises of the 1970s. The results were several major cultural problems that dominated the 1990s and have yet to be entirely resolved: a sort of society-level survivor’s guilt; an inability to let go of the anxiety of nuclear war that led to transferring it onto a series of other targets, most notably terrorism; and the malaise I mentioned above, a desperate searching for an alternate apocalypse.
Because the thing about the apocalypse is that it’s not just that most people spent the 1980s quietly expecting it; it’s that on some level, most people wanted it. That’s usually the case, as becomes clear when one looks at the history of the apocalypse. Its origins in the Near East of roughly 200 BCE to 100 CE reveal a genre of literature that largely predicted massive destruction not as a warning to the reader to shape up or face judgment, but as a form of comfort to the oppressed. Books like Daniel, Revelation, and their non-canonical contemporaries used codes and metaphors to project the destruction they described either into the heroic past (as Daniel does with the destruction of Babylon) or an unspecified future (as Daniel and Revelation both do with the end of the world), but leave plentiful clues that they refer to whatever oppressor is troubling the audience at the time (the Seleucids for Daniel, Rome for Revelation). The result is a genre that frequently speaks to many generations, because a metaphor that works for two different oppressors will likely work for many, and so apocalyptic predictions speak to us all of the hope that we will find freedom from the individuals and institutions we feel oppressed by. Destruction is just a kind of transformation, after all, and so apocalypse just another word for revolution.
The problem, then, is that we both wish for and fear apocalypse, as we wish for and fear change. And in 1992, that was compounded by dashed expectations for apocalypse. Hope, fear, expectation–these are all feelings that make us easier to trick, and on which con men and tricksters of all types frequently depend. No wonder, then, that people would be easily fooled into believing in “the Great Fall” in 1992–especially since there was an ongoing economic depression to lend it credence!
So we are back to the actual episode, after quite a lengthy, but necessary, arc away from it, because here we see Batman positioning himself as a stern skeptic, convinced from the start that Nostromos must be some sort of fraud, which of course we soon learn that he is. Interestingly, he is not alone in this–Lisa Clark is also convinced that Nostromos is a fraud, and sets out on her own investigation, leading to her capture and use as a pawn by Nostromos. (A pity–the episode would be a lot more interesting if she’d taken on a role as mini-Batman, much as Renee Montoya did in “P.O.V.”)
The actual plot of the episode is fairly predictable: Batman investigates, gets a couple of trap-and-escape sequences, rescues both the damsel in distress and Bruce Wayne’s male friend in distress, and exposes and captures the criminal. The most interesting part comes at the end, when Bruce Wayne (maintaining the pretense that he genuinely fell for Nostromos’ tricks) quotes Shakespeare, opining to Ethan and Lisa Clark that “the fault lies not in our stars, but in our selves.” This comes from a line by Cassius in Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene 2, in which he is trying to persuade Brutus to join the conspiracy to assassinate Caesar–an act which will ultimately lead to the replacement of the tottering Roman Republic with the Roman Empire. The line in its original context is thus a call to stop waiting around for fate, but to act to bring immediate revolution. “The apocalypse you hoped and feared for didn’t happen?” Wayne appears to be saying. “Then make it happen.”
But we must remember, Wayne is here one of the rich and powerful talking to the rich and powerful, as were Cassius and Brutus. The revolution to which they refer is simply a change of power from one set of hands to another, not a true reshaping of society. Lisa Clark, for all that she is as skeptical as Batman is, still gets reduced first to a damsel in distress, and then to serving drinks to the menfolk. Batman is still on the side of authority, wealth, and power, at least here and now.


Current status of the Patreon:

Vision of Escaflowne Episode 25 and MLPFIM S5E11 Liveblog Chat Thingy!

How to participate in the liveblog chat:  Option 1: Whenever you watch the episode, comment on this post as you watch with whatever responses you feel like posting! Option 2: Go to http://webchat.freenode.net/. Enter a nickname, then for the Channels field enter ##rabbitcube, and finally fill in the Captcha and hit Connect! We’ll be watching Vision of Escaflowne and commenting there starting at 1:00 p.m. EST. We will then be watching MLP at 1:30. Note that this is one hour earlier than normal.
ETA: Chatlog below the cut!
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re:play ep 2 needs some help!

I posted this on the Patreon already, but I figured I should share it here as well. I misinterpreted my Patreon pledges, and the May results were actually significantly less than I thought. As a result, while my Patreon was briefly at the level I set for making re:play episode 2, that was in mid-month, so doesn’t actually count. The actual May amount was $53, well over the level I set for making episode 1, but $2 short of the level for episode 2–and since then I’ve dropped to $51. So basically, unless the Patreon gains $4 in the next four days, episode 2 will NOT be happening in July.
Patreon backers at all levels can see episode 1 immediately, at the $2+ level can see Near-Apocalypse articles four months ahead of the general public, and at $5+ can see my vlogs a month ahead. Any and all patronage is much appreciated!

re:play is coming!

Oh hey what’s this now?

Patreon backers, of course, can see it now. The Patreon, after quite a spike in May, has been trending downward this monthI’m afraid. I want to save up for a video capture card so that I can Let’s Play a wider variety of games, and I have a new book idea that I’ll be introducing in a couple of weeks, for early 2016 publication, that’s going to need editing and cover design… basically, anything you can chip in is much appreciated.

Vlog Review: Steven Universe, Season 1, Episodes 42-44

[youtube=https://youtu.be/foXf5QyJcU0] 
Reminder that Patreon backers can see these videos (including Korra, Steven Universe, and now Gravity Falls, plus my panels on anime and the apocalypse, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, and postmodern anime) 4-5 weeks early AND Near-Apocalypse articles four MONTHS early!
Those of you who follow on Tumblr, for whatever reason the videos don’t play there. Click through to JedABlue.com to watch.

Captain's Log, Weekly Digest 28

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

  • Capture the Flag: Morwen and the Phoenix crew try to help a Romulan ship boarded by a Vaadwaur super-soldier.
  • Hidden Assault: Morwen returns to Kobali Prime with a fresh force of Klingon and Romulan soldiers.
  • A New Warfare: In a race to find a countermeasure before the Vaadwaur can unleash their bioweapon, Morwen leads a raid on a Vaadwaur base.
  • Breaking the Wall: Morwen takes part in a massive ground operation to try to stop the Vaadwaur’s attempted genocide of the Kobali.
  • With Our Last Breath: The Allied forces on Kobali Prime make their final assault to stop the Vaadwaur’s plans.
  • Our Chance for Peace: Morwen brokers a deal that will allow the Kobali to continue to reproduce without any more Vaadwaur dying in stasis.
  • The Dragon’s Deceit: Morwen discovers the truth about the Vaadwaur super-soldiers, and a clue to their mysterious backers.
  • Alliances: Morwen and friends try to persuade the local sentients to join a cooperative alliance against the Vaadwaur.

As the flag officer of a fleet or tactical group, Starfleet regulations also require Morwen to provide a Fleet Status Report briefly summarizing the current status and mission of all ships under her command, every Stardate that’s a multiple of 10.

So, I started watching Gravity Falls…

It’s good! I’m going to say that right off the bat: one episode in, I can tell this is a good show. It made me laugh! That’s hard to do!
At the same time… something is missing, something I can’t quite place, a certain je ne sais quoi that certain other shows–Friendship Is Magic, Steven Universe, Phineas and Ferb–have that Gravity Falls doesn’t. I don’t know quite know how to express it, I just know that, as it stands now, Gravity Falls is a show I will enjoy, not fall in love with. (Emphasis on the as it stands, though–Adventure Time lacked that something when it started, but was starting to grow it around Season 5 when I drifted away from watching.)
Anyway, you know the drill, those of you who pledged $5/mo or more can see my vlog of the first episode on the Patreon, everyone else has to wait a few weeks for me to release it publicly on YouTube.