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Penny & Aggie - The End

The End!

More or less.

I'll have to take another spin thru the archives, but that will have to wait 'till Wednesday.

Fantastic comic, perfect ending. As I said before - I feel a little sad that the story is over, but I'm glad that it has an ending.

PS: Think we'll see any more of Helen after this?

go play beliefs 32

Speaking of Penny & Aggie...


I knew it was the end of the story (for now anyway), but that's not what I was expecting... well, actually looking back at Fans! or CCS, I really should have expected to see it, too! :)

Anyway, it's always a little sad when one of your favourite stories is coming to a close, but, at the same time, also quite exhilarating.

I have no idea how this one is going to turn out - peeks into the future and alternative universes aside.
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Love for Penny & Aggie ... again!

I've been catching up on my comics for the past few months. Phoenix Requiem ended nicely. Gunnarkrigg Court remains the highest level of awesome, and somehow the closest thing to Doctor Who i've seen anywhere, print, screen, or web... Fans! has a great new epic storyline...

...but Penny & Aggie just... wins.

So... I totally didn't see that coming! And especially not that. Awesome.

The inevitable angst and pain is just going to be so much fun! (Drama-wise!) I just love these characters - and how they can so deftly hold their own without any outside agency to crank up the tension, the stakes.

I like that Penny seems more comfortable with the whole thing than Aggie. Though, it is the sort of thing you should expect because it is the unexpected thing, or it would be if the characters weren't so well developed. ;)

On the other hand... this is Aggie's dream...

...and this is Penny's .. sort of.

Maybe i should have seen that coming after all! >_>

Grabbing a Nice Quote from Some Space to Think:

 "Honestly, initiative is one of those areas where I really prefer GM instinct and dicelessness. That is to say, while numeric initiative totally makes sense when everyone is part of the big picture (as in the case of, say, a tactical minis skirmish) that's not how fights work in fiction or perception. They are lots of miniature stages within the large picture, and we (as audience) move from one to another according to the cadence of the fight. A good GM can use "initiative" as that audience, moving from place to place according to the logic of the fights, not according to some numeric counter. Doing so covers a multitude of sins, allows for characters with different levels of combat focus to get different levels of attention while still keeping the spotlight from lingering too long in one place.

But that's not something you can really write a rule for. That's a problem."

This is a really interesting thing to keep aware of. How would you try to formalize that sentiment into a set of guidelines, perhaps AW-style?
go play beliefs 32

I love reading AW APs...

 ...and this one from Judd's Hoover Dam game is the best move ever:

"When you read SPEC OPS MANUAL 053: Psychic Warfare, roll + Sharp:

"It reads like stereo instructions but the stereo is your mind and the music it plays is the act of killing people."

On a 10+, you can take 1 of the following 3:
  • +1 forward with any Weird based roll used to hurt or infiltrate someone/something.
  • Take an XP in order to buy up your Weird stat or buy a Weird-based move (custom or from another playbook)
  • The next time you are in deep shit, you can roll Weird for the Seize by Force move.

On 7-9, you can take any one of the above but the MC can ask you to Roll Under Fire when you are doing something perfectly normal. The book is training you to see people's minds as nothing but pieces in a wargame.

On a miss, this fucking book doesn't make any kind of fucking sense. Fuck this. And you also get the consequences of the 7-9 but with no good stuff to go with it."

I really need to find some time to play this game sooner rather than later!

Yes, Burning Wheel Elves are Awesome

Burning Airships - Wow, just wow. What a fantastic setup for a high (!) fantasy game! Make sure you scroll down to read the GM's write-up of the first session... 

The whole thing kind of reminds me of Doctor Who a bit - with travelers from another time arriving in the midst of earthshaking changes and creepy alien influence, but having antagonists who aren't exactly evil, or even necessarily wrong

The setting itself - between the mind-influencing "sky angels/demons" and the vast and eternal empire - reminds me of the world from the indie action-rpg game The Spirit Engine 2.

A choice quote: "As for elven language, I imagine they have tenses that are bizarre and long ranging (the Inevitable tense, the Inconceivable tense, etc.) with aspects handling the actual placement in time as normal folks think of it (by which I mean you need auxiliary verbs to establish if the inevitable has already come to pass or is yet to)."

Check out session 2; it's even more awesome.
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February Movie Marathon

 I just spent most of the last month watching movies with a Netflix trial subscription; this adds up to a lot of movies, maybe even than i'd seen prior, maybe not.

These are the ones that moved me the most:
  • Monsters (American)
  • The Life Before Her Eyes (American)
  • Tell No One (French)
  • Don't Look Back (French/Italian)
  • Evil (Swedish)
  • Exam (British)
  • The Host (Korean)
  • Keith (American)
  • The Jacket (American)
  • Let The Right One In (Swedish)
There are a bunch of other movies I really liked, as well. Naturally, most of these are SF/Horror, including re-watching Ginger Snaps, Jennifer's Body, & Smilla's Sense of Snow, but the bulk of the others seem to be pyschodramas or mysteries with romantic elements. I also watched a bunch of Noir-esque mystery-dramas, the best of which was Brick.
Only one movie was a straight-up comedy (The Big Lebowski), despite what Netflix's tags read. Beautiful Creatures and The Assassination of a High School President were fairly comedic, as well, though not to the same level. 

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The Joss Factor: Buffy versus Angel

Now that I've watched all 5 seasons of Angel, let's take another look at the fates of the series' characters.

  • Buffy: dies in a heroic sacrifice in year 5, but is resurrected by Willow against her will; she eventually recovers
  • Xander: survives seven years on the Helmouth to become quite the hero in his own right
  • Willow: survives a fall into darkness to become the greatest good witch in the world, & find new love w/ Kennedy
  • Giles: survives, and regains Buffy's trust
  • Angel: killed by Buffy in year 2, but returns from "hell" in year 3, then goes on to Angel
  • Joyce: dies of (seemingly) natural causes in year 5
  • Jenny Calendar: killed by Angelus in year 2
  • Cordelia: goes off to Angel after year 3
  • Jonathan: dies at his friend Andrew's hands, after finding a true measure of redemption and purpose
  • Spike: dies in the final battle to redeem himself, but is brought back on Angel in year 8
  • Anya: killed in the final battle in year 7
  • Oz: survives becoming a werewolf, eventually leaving to seek mastery over himself
  • Wesley: goes off to Angel after year 3
  • Faith: survives villainy, a coma, redemption, and the final battle
  • Tara: killed by Warren, as a bystander, in year 6
  • Riley: survives the fall of the Initiative, but leaves to join the Army's demon hunters in year 5
  • Dawn: survives her mystical origins in year 5 to become something of a heroine herself, & loving sister to Buffy
  • Andrew: survives villainy & redemption to become an ally of the Slayers in year 8 (on Angel)
  • Kennedy: survives the final battle at the Helmouth
  • Robin Wood: probably survives the final battle

  • Angel: still standing at the end of the series, but facing certain death
  • Doyle: sacrifices himself in season 1 to save Cordelia, Angel, & a boatload of refugees
  • Cordelia: finally dies in season 5, after a year in a coma, ultimately because of 'Jasmine'; she does retain the PTB's favour, however
  • Kate Lockley: survives a suicide attempt in season 3, but has nothing more to do with Angel afterward
  • Wesley: killed by Cyvus Vail during the confrontation at the end of the series; possibly planned his own death, possibly not
  • Gunn: still standing, but dying, at the end of the series, facing the horde
  • Lindsey: murdered by Lorne during the final confrontation, he doesn't get the second chance at redemption he was looking for
  • Lilah Morgan: murdered by Cordelia (possessed by Jasmine) after a long crawl toward redemption
  • Lorne: survives the final confrontation, but as something of a shadow of his former self
  • Fred: infected, transformed, and assimilated into Illyria, she dies horribly in season 5
  • Connor: survives, adjusted to a life with three fathers
  • Spike: still standing against the demonic hordes at the end of the series, as a fully redeemed hero
  • Illyria: standing with Angel, Spike, & Gunn at the end, as a fallen goddess given new purpose by Wesley
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Marathon & Thoughts

 I just used my Hulu Plus free trial to re-watch pretty much all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer back to back. Right now I'm feeling even worse than after the 24 hours of 24 marathon; not only physically, but emotionally as well - Buffy is quite the roller coaster ride, emotionally. I'm gonna need a little time to recover from all this!

To quote Vincent Baker: "Fiction is affecting, that's all."

As far as i can tell, Buffy set the stage for the modern TV drama, moving the continuing stories and intense character development front and center. The show also is all at once real heavy and clever and subtle about foreshadowing things to come, and reincorporating characters, events, and things from past episodes and seasons.

BtVS also used and abused the tropes of the genre(s) to great and continual effect - whether averting, subverting, lampshading, or just playing them straight-on and full bore. I'll be using the TVtropes names wherever they seem appropriate; after all, this is the show that named (and perhaps created) the idea of "Lampshade Hanging" to begin with. 

Still, my favourite TV serial by quite the margin - it was even better than I expected.

Now, down to the nitty-gritty. Spoilers abound, naturally!

Most Disturbing (in the Good Way) Episodes:
  • 2:7 "Lie to Me" - The ending for this episode lays it all out: the whole dynamic of the narrative. It's not black and white.
  • 5:16 "The Body" - Joyce dies of natural causes, and the world goes on. The muted horror is powerful. Wow, yeah.
  • 6:17 "Normal Again" - This episode is infamous, for making both of Buffy's lives be equally affecting, and ambiguous.
  • 7:7 "Conversations with Dead People" - Exactly what it says on the tin. Perhaps the creepiest single episode! The First is an incredible big bad, using truth as a weapon. I love how even though Willow sees through the First's charade, it's ambiguous truth/lie still cuts her down.

Most Awesome Episodes:
  • 4:10 "Hush" - Spooky fairytale monsters make for an episode without speech - fantastic and creepy!
  • 4:22 "Restless" - After the season's big bad is defeated things get interesting in the Dreamtime. I love that this episode comes after the world is saved and the day is done. I think this is also the first hints at the true nature of the Slayer.
  • 6:7 "Once More With Feeling" - The oh so awesome musical episode. Willow doesn't get a song!

BtVS and Joss Whedon have earned a reputation for the ruthless "Anyone Can Die" attitude toward characters, but i'm not sure how that pans out. After this, I sort of feel that is not exactly true, or not entirely accurate; I think it might be more important that the crew primes and allows you to care about the characters so much, and that their deaths are always handled extremely well. 

Let's make a list:
  • Buffy Summers: seasons 1-7, dies twice: once fulfilling prophecy creatively, the other as a willing sacrifice. Buffy's dead and buried death is handled really well, as is her reaction to her unwanted resurrection. She never really gets over it, I think; maybe after the Hellmouth is destroyed.
  • Xander Harris: 1-7, the luckiest man alive, for a demon magnet. Perhaps the only one of the core Scoobies not to kill an innocent.
  • Willow Rosenberg: 1-7, perhaps my favourite character, if you can ever make a choice. I love how she became the season 6 apocalypse (but poor lovely Tara), and her recovery. 
  • Rupert Giles: 1-7, renegade Watcher, reformed warlock, and a not-so reluctant killer. One of the best moments on the show is when he kills (murders) Ben (and thus Glory) - it is a Crowing Moment of Awesome, and horrible all at the same time. I think he manages to blow the Sorting Algorithm of Mortality out of the water to live through it all.
  • Joyce Summers: 1-5, Buffy's mom was always there, until she wasn't. Truly heartrending. It is sort of perfectly horrible that the manner of her death was a reincorporation of a number of off-hand jokes Buffy'd made earlier on in the show.
  • Jenny Calender: 1-2, the gypsy teacher, killed rather horrifically by Angel.
  • Angel/Angelus: 1-3, spots in 4,5, & 7; the good monster, and the villain of season 2, along with Spike & Drusilla; Buffy kills him and sends him to hell at the conclusion of that season, but he gets better. It is strongly implied that he does die the martyr in the "Bolivian Army Ending" of Angel, along with most of his remaining crew.
  • Cordelia Chase: 1-3, the school rival for the Scoobies, and then one of them; She goes on to bigger, better, and more tragic things on Angel. She dies pretty horribly.
  • Anya/Anyanka/Aud: 2-7, first a Monster of the Week, then a regular/main character (and love interest) as an ex-Vengeance Demon, then a demon once more, reluctantly, and then finally redeemed. And then she dies at the end, naturally. It feels right for the trope to play out for odd Anya.
  • Spike/William the Bloody: 2, spots in 3, 4-7, introduced as the arc's villain, but ends up helping save the world from Angel for his own selfish reasons. Undergoes "Spikeification", then truly redeems himself to go out a martyr in the Hellmouth. Of course, then he comes back to do it all over again with Angel!
  • Wesley Wyndham-Pryce: 3, the replacement Watcher, a allied antagonist to Buffy and crew, who dies something of a real hero at the end of Angel.
  • Riley Finn: 4-5, the normal guy love interest, who turns out to be a professional demon hunter. Not only doesn't he die on camera, he seems to get a real chance at happiness off camera. (Though he's in the wrong line of work for an "ever after".)
  • Tara Maclay: 4-6, poor Tara has a whole string of horrible things done to her, although you might be able to say that about any of the protagonists, and then she was murdered accidentally, as a bystander. Jossed in that shes on the show for two years, but only gets on the "team credits" in the episode she dies... 
  • Dawn Summers: 5-7, the magical normal girl, the MacGuffin who becomes a heroine. Dawnie is awesome. She doesn't die rather spectacularly, as you would expect.

Of course, then there are all the minor recurring characters - the classmates mostly - who die all the time in the background, without much or any hurrah and show. So I guess it really is "Anyone Can Die", to a certain point anyway.

One of the most interesting things about Buffy is that the villains, the "Big Bads" are always people - except for the First, who is (or appears as) a lot of people (and spends most of its screen-time looking and acting like Buffy). The Master; Spike, Dru, & Angel; The Mayor; Adam; Glory; The Trio of Warren, Andrew, & Jonathan; Dark Willow - they're all interesting characters. Out of those 11 characters, two - Willow & Angel - were heroes before and after their villainy, one, Spike, was redeemed into a hero, and three, Warren, Andrew, & Jonathan, were each previously responsible for a Crisis of the Week, with Jonathan a recurring side character throughout the show, and Andrew seeking to redeem himself at the end of season 7. That makes nearly half of the show's Big Bad's something more complicated than your usual Arc Villain. And the ones who were regular Arc Villains were a cut above - especially Glory and The Mayor. "He just wanted to be a giant snake."

A surprising number of minor recurring villains actually survive the show, too: Amy the Witch, Ethan Rayne, etc, etc.

All in all, simply brilliant, and amazingly moving.