“The same people who last week were screeching about the government having concentration camps now want me to give my AR15s to that same government.

“The same people who last month were hyperventilating about the government slaughtering black people now expect me to surrender my guns to that same government.

“The same people who last year were setting stuff on fire and yipping about the government rounding up the gays and Muslims for liquidation now think it’s a good idea for me to just hand over my rifles to that same government.

“You chuckleheads need to make up your damned minds.”

— A helpful reminder from Lawdog

Moral Clarity


Frieren, episode 7

In which there exist creatures who use language only to deceive their enemies, to create an opportunity to strike.

Also, Fern teaches Stark that getting what you ask for is not the same as getting what you want, but also reinforces Frieren’s flaws with positive feedback.

Verdict: more, please, both serious and silly.

Tearmoon, episode 3

In which no plan survives contact with the enemy, especially when it’s authored by two nitwits. Fortunately, Our Hollow-Skulled Heroine succeeds by failing, although her interior monologue remains quite shouty. This week, our compensation comes in the form of a steam-filled bath; I’m not interested in having 12-year-old Mia de-steamed as a Buy-the-Bluray feature, but I’d like to see more of Anne and Rafina.

Verdict: Anne is Best Girl, in or out of the bath.

Potion Loli, episode 3

In which the wisdom of an overworked office lady destroys the spirits of the queen and every noble lady in the kingdom, which was way too talky but briefly funny, and then Our Potion Loli shoves off to Yet Another Kingdom to build a quiet life as housekeeper by day, vigilante healer by night.

Verdict: changing the cast every week forces Kaoru to carry the show solo, and her monologing is getting on my nerves. Don’t know how much more of it I can take. This week’s new cast isn’t in the ED animation, but the ones she’s already run away from are, so…?

(no, not that potion loli!)

Rerun’s Special Magic, episode 3

In which my primary reason for continuing to watch this show did not appear even once, and the story is dominated by Our Obnoxious Twintail Who Didn’t Even Gainax This Week and Our Lovestruck Gay Shota Bunnyboy. Bonus negative points for the mustache-twirling (or at least beard-stroking) villains on the school board.

Verdict: this show makes me nostalgic for Vermeil In Gold, and I didn’t really like that show, either. Although it had its charms.

Starfield photography

You have to tinker with exposure and filtering, turn off clipping in the console to adjust the height of the camera, and the way the game emulates depth-of-field is painfully awkward, but you can take some decent snapshots in Starfield, and the reward is that they get used as loading screens.

So, I don’t remember the name of this particular moon, but this is what I saw the moment I landed on it:

And this is what it looked like when I turned around:

Back on Toliman II, this young lady really needs to get her priorities straight, because she was absolutely terrified of a gang of Spacers hanging out in an abandoned mine a kilometer away, but wasn’t even a little bit worried about the three Terrormorphs currently sneaking up on her.

(if you’re going to populate the universe with procedural content, you really ought to have some knobs and buttons to tweak, so you don’t end up with oblivious technicians hanging out in t-shirts in -18°C weather on a world where there’s a whole set of quests about how the entire population was wiped out by psychopathic mind-controlling xeno-critters)

(zero-atmosphere outdoor picnics are another common find)

If you buy the physical edition of Starfield for Windows, you get a DVD box with a Steam code inside, so you might as well skip the middleman. It’s only really useful if you need to buy it as a Christmas/Birthday present.

(I got it free as part of Game Pass Ultimate, but MS alumni price is half of retail if I didn’t have that, or if it eventually leaves the portfolio)

Before Firefly

…there was Titan A.E.? There are plenty of reasons that this movie flopped, but it wasn’t the fault of the screenwriters: Ben Edlund & Joss Whedon. If they’d had any creative control, they might not have gone for the magical genocide ending, although they might have added some waif-fu.

Roundup-ready


Every once in a while someone manually goes to the effort of posting spam comments here, which I can delete with one click and which never get indexed by search engines anyway. Click.

S-Rank Daddy’s Girl, episode 4

In which Our Obsessed S-Rank Daughter wallows in hometown nostalgia, Our Favorite Dad fosters a catgirl, Our Adventure Gals manage to bathe without significant fan-service, stern parenting succeeds by failing, and we learn Something Important about how Bel lost his leg.

Verdict: I enjoyed this little interlude almost as much as they did, but I think it’s time everyone got back to work. That nameless villain’s not going to defeat himself.

(no new fan-art for this show, so here’s a cute dragonette foodie)

Top. Picks.

Amazon is heavily pushing “top picks for you” that include new books by Britney Spears and Jada Pinkett Smith. I don’t want to know what they were paid for these promotions, but they really stand out from the isekai novels, snack foods, and electronic gadgets that make up the bulk of their recommendations for me, and which are actually based on my purchases. I’m not interested in a sequel to The Firm, either, but I can at least understand why other people might be.

For two months now, they’ve also been constantly exhorting me to buy the hot-new-release Steven Brust novel, Lyorn, which doesn’t come out until April.

On that note, “Dear Amazon, this product couldn’t be gayer if it included a picture of two gay men drilling their buns, which it does”:

A glitch in the Matrix Starfield

Twice now, I’ve gone through the Freestar Rangers questline and ended up having to hoof it at least five kilometers through heavy jungle, because the game generated a random POI that overlapped with the place I was supposed to be landing. And there’s nothing to do during that run except scan the local critters and maybe kill a few, all of which are level 1 and completely trivial. It was supposed to drop you off about 100 meters from your destination; your quest objective explicitly tells you to land there.

For more fun, the distance-to-target display is wrong, so you have to use the terrible on-world mapping to figure out roughly how much farther you need to go. Kind of ruins the tension of the big fight.

(there are no ground vehicles in Starfield, despite how sparsely populated the planets are with procedurally-generated content)

Trevor’s Red Tape

An exercise in side-quest design and lack of ground vehicles…

Random Martian: Hey, you should maybe talk to Trevor; I guess he’s having some problems with the mine.

walkwalkwalk

Trevor: Hey, this mine we’re working that’s right under the middle of town? Yeah, we’re way below quota; could you maybe grab a cutter and get me some iron? For free?

bzzzzzzzt-plonk

Trevor: Great, now what we really need is a bunch of new equipment, but that dumb exec just won’t approve my POs. How about you fly up to Deimos and apply for a job as his executive assistant, fly back and hack into the local HR database to delete every other applicant, and then answer his mail and approve my PO?

whooooosh

clickclickclick

(fast-travel)

walkwalkwalk

sneaksneaksneak

Exec: Hello, assistant; did you change your hair, or are you a new one? I’m such a nitwit, but the first thing I need you to do is find out why I can’t get my special shipment; there’s some kind of hold on it.

walkwalkwalk

Mars Governor: Yeah, that nitwit’s got a lot of unpaid taxes, but if you do me a tiny little favor, I’ll release the hold. The favor? The Crimson Fleet stole my company car starship, and it’s really a sweet ride, but I need you to quietly destroy it, off the record. For insurance reasons.

whooooosh

Crimson Fleet: Seriously, kid, we let you bluff your way onto the ship, but you don’t speak pirate lingo at all, so we’re gonna kill you.

pewpewpew

Crimson Fleet leader’s body: I’m an incriminating letter from the Mars Governor hiring the Fleet to destroy his own ship to hide the evidence of his affair with the woman who ran off with his ship.

Woman’s body: I’m an incriminating suicide note, and she was really, really sorry for all the trouble she caused.

big-bada-boom

(fast-travel)

walkwalkwalk

Mars Governor: Nice work, I’ve released dipshit’s cargo. You didn’t… find anything interesting out there, did you? No? you just blew it up? Great!

walkwalkwalk

Head of Security: Thanks for this incriminating evidence, we’re going to have a little chat with the Governor.

walkwalkwalk

Exec: Ooh, thanks for the package; could you take care of my email now?

clickclickclick

Trevor: Awesome work, the new equipment is on the way. Hank volunteered to go get it, but he should have been back by now. Could you maybe check at the docks?

walkwalkwalk

Docks: Yeah, Hank left a while ago on some pickup job, but it was funny that he didn’t park here when he got back. I mean, there might be a good reason he parked waaaaaaaay over there, but really, that’s kind of a dick move. Or a smuggler move.

walkwalkwalk

Trevor: Gosh, that doesn’t sound right. Check the local bars, and ask him why he did that.

walkwalkwalk

Hank: Yes, I admit that I ripped off my fellow miners, because of reasons you won’t remember long enough to write them down. I repent my actions, though, so let’s go outside and I’ll hand it all over. My ship’s right over there, and while we spend the next 5-10 minutes walking, I’ll explain everything in a way that makes it really obvious that I’m going to try to kill you as soon as we’re alone. Really, really obvious.

walkwalkwalk

walkwalkwalk

walkwalkwalk

pewpewpew

(fast-travel)

walkwalkwalk

Trevor: Wow, Hank was a dick. We’ll go bring his ship back to the docks so we can grab our new equipment. Oh, and could you check up on Rivkah? She doesn’t sound good…

(I left out the step where I had to fly to a shipyard, switch to another ship, and fly back, because I only had auto-turrets and the Governor’s ship wasn’t flagged hostile, so they wouldn’t shoot at it)

Catch-up


Frieren, episode 6

I have decided that this is the antidote for all the recent shows taken over by shouting: Action shouting, Comedy shouting, Romance shouting, etc. I’ll let it speak for itself, which it does well.

Verdict: oasis of calm. and silliness. and a horrible OP song.

Tearmoon Empire, episode 2

“That’s what I do: I eat sweets and know things.”

Our Scheming Heroine has a one-track mind, and that track has a guillotine blade riding in it, aimed at her neck. To avoid that messy finish, she recruits Our Economic Genius, who instantly falls victim to Mia’s Retro-Precognitive Genius, impressed beyond measure at having his own future words thrown back at him. Rescued from obscurity, he swiftly begins to carry out his own will disguised as hers, only to be stunned into silence as her RPG reveals problems beyond even what he expected. Our Cuddly Loyal Maid already had a bad case of Mia-itis, and thanks to a timely ice-cream social, now they’re both incurable.

A bit shouty, but mostly Mia’s internal panicky monologue when she remembers that she’s utterly clueless and simply repeating memories and events written in her future-past diary. Which is no longer precisely the book she remembers from the future, even though the ending is still the same, so far. One important lesson still in her (next week) future is: don’t say things that trip death flags.

Verdict: if the “pure self-interest mistaken for compassionate genius” thing bothers you, with Mia’s followers inventing unlikely explanations for her words and actions, now would be a good time to quit, because there’s a whole lot more of it coming. Or just roll with it; I’m amused.

(unrelated Komi due to a relevant fan-art shortage)

Potion Loli, episode 2

In which the cast explodes and I’m not sure how many of them will be regulars. Fortunately (?) there’s plenty of exposition and lecturing.

Verdict: less interesting than last week, but I won’t write it off yet. Not as much fun as Tearmoon, though.

(speaking of scheming lolis, I give you Elf Yamada)

Rerun’s Special Magic, episodes 1-2

All through the opening scene with the terrible CG dragon, I found myself wistfully thinking of Peterhausen. Something to do with putting An Unreasonably Powerful Wizard in a magic school and having talky duels break out.

Anyway, with a voice last heard (by me, anyway) playing hero in Miss Kuroitsu (although it’s more like his Log Horizon Shiroe style), Our Second-Chance OP Hero finds himself flung back in time into a high-school hijinks story, and it takes some time for him to adjust emotionally.

The Very Strong Character Designs don’t do it for me, except for Our Little Redheaded Tsundere Senpai and Our Twintailed Gainaxing Tit Queen. Mostly the little redhead. Desim himself has a chin that could slice steel like butter, and he’s not the only refugee from a BL manga.

Verdict: the tonal whiplash in the first episode is pretty severe. Everything before the timeslip was a show I wasn’t really interested in, and everything after was a completely different show I wasn’t really interested in. Except for the little redhead, so you know how I’ll be judging next week’s episode.

Shy, episode 3

Y’know, in my headcanon, these two are already dating, but it’s not that kind of show. Inasmuch as I’m able to figure out precisely what kind of show it’s going to be, anyway.

So, as it was written in the ancient scrolls known as Marvel Team-Up, Our Shy Heroine Shy must battle another hero for her own good. Next week, because she and Our Surprisingly Healthy Best Friend spent so much time bonding at the mall that there was barely time for borscht and selfies before introducing another of the heroes and establishing that he is ruthless and merciless and probably has a secret teddy-bear lingerie collection that we’ll find out about later.

Verdict: drifting back over the line to the Western superhero tropes, but with a few curveballs to keep you on your toes. Still no idea where this is going, but I like the characters we’re spending time with.

ObStarfield

Victor Aiza is the worst monster in future history.

He literally destroyed the Earth, knowing that there’d be only 50 years to evacuate everybody (and only the people; there are no signs of other Earth-native animal species, except for a handful on a generation ship that nobody knew about). The writers show no more awareness of logistics and infrastructure than they did in Fallout 4, where I constantly had to mentally replace every reference to “200 years” with “20 years”, because the condition of the Commonwealth simply didn’t make sense otherwise.

Loosely related, when forced to choose who to save in the Entangled quest, I went with the researchers, because Ethan Hughes deserves to live for handling the weirdness so calmly.

(I did save Rafael once and invite him to join my crew, but the only benefit is that you get special dialogue when you run into the random stranded geologist)

Roses are dead,
   violence is cool;
Space should be empty,
   but planets are, too.

Starfield Subtraction

Compared to Fallout 4, a lot of complexity was removed. Outposts are a significantly feature-reduced version of settlements, both energy and melee weapons take a back seat to good old-fashioned projectiles, and melee weapons cannot be customized at all. It looks like most of the combat animations were stripped down as well. Expect to see some of this return as paid DLC, since we all know it’s built into the engine.

For more fun, I just noticed that if you try to use the wakizashi (one of the few melee options), the third-person idle position for it has the blade upside down. Every other position has you holding it edge-down (including your inventory mannequin), but whoever designed the idle animation flipped it.

Gotta say, though, you can take some pretty screenshots. I need to turn this one into a virtual postcard, with a caption like: Leave the crowds behind on beautiful Toliman II.

(the joke is that it’s not only -18°C, the human population of this world was wiped out by A Very Nasty Predator; naturally, I built an outpost there)

Unrelated and NSFW…

“I claim this moon in the name of…”

Maybe I’ll just play the character generator…

I’m not very far into it, but Baldur’s Gate 3 is full of do-it-again-stupid events. Wrong conversation choice or failed a saving throw? Flee from combat against a large group 3 levels higher than you, or reload from your most recent save. For extra fun, have it happen while the party has been forcibly split for story reasons, and then start a fight on the other side as well.

There also seems to be a severe shortage of sidequests, at least in the early game; you’re pretty much always on the rails.

But, hey, at least you can give your female character a penis!

(hmmm, maybe that’s what made that maid so mysterious…)

S-Rank Daddy's Girl, episode 3


If you’re left wondering whether the guild master raided the nursing home or the nuthouse, I think it’s time to embrace the power of “and”…

Anyway, with Sufficient Firepower And Exposition, Our Homeward-Bound Heroine is finally able to take a decent vacation, and Our Boyish Archer and Our Excitable Mage get to find out if Our Favorite Dad lives up to the hype. Next week, that is, because the panned stills, speedlines, and CG that made up most of The Big Fight took up a lot of time.

Verdict: this completes the tutorial quest, and the open-world portion of the game is now available.

…okay, so maybe I was simultaneously playing Skyrim, Fallout 4, and Starfield over the weekend. Not for long, I just completely re-installed the first two with a bunch of QoL mods, converting them to the modern Vortex mod manager. The old installs were pretty crufty and out of date, and predated the Nexus Mods collections feature.

Related, my most-upvoted-ever Reddit comment is about one of the first things I stumbled across in Starfield:

The first random base I went to was an abandoned research farm where the scientists must have been very lonely, since there was a bottle of lotion and a box of tissues next to every bed. And plenty more stocked in the closets.

Escapism versus reality


Because we missed missing shows?

Crunchyroll has jumped on the “linear channel” bandwagon, in which streaming services schedule blocks of programs with ads, so that we can return to the days of our primitive ancestors and watch Broadcast Television 2.0. Will they also add static, breaking news interrupts, weather alerts, and infomercials? Maybe some After-School Specials?

Decent bread recipe

My mother stumbled over this recipe for condensed milk bread. It promised the moisture and texture of the various tangzhong breads “made in a less complicated way”.

By which the author means “using condensed milk and yogurt instead of sugar and an egg”; the actual effort of making the tangzhong is trivial. Still, a quick run through my bakers-percentage script showed it as containing even more moisture than a tangzhong dough (80% versus 72-75%), so I tried it out, skipping all the complicated shaping and just pressing Go on the bread machine.

Worked fine, and stayed fresh as long as a tangzhong bread, due to the high moisture content. I think next time I’ll use the dough cycle and bake it in my pullman pan, for a better sandwich-loaf shape.

(downside: if you don’t bake several batches, you end up with a lot of leftover condensed milk and yogurt, which are arguably less versatile than eggs and sugar)

Got Frieren?

Want more? They’re streaming short gag comics on Youtube.

(speaking of things you won’t find in the main series…)

California freezin’

Clean and abundant natural gas bad, scarce unreliable expensive electricity good. But at least fast-food workers will be paid $22/hour! Both of them!

All I’ll say for now about this week’s events

Joe Biden paid Iran to murder jews. Anyone who voted for him (including the photocopiers) voted for this.

Shy, episode 2


A: “You got your magical girl in my superhero.”

B: “You got your superhero in my magical girl.”

A&B: “Heeeeeey…”

I suspected there’d be some magical-girl tropes showing up, thanks to the conspicuous presence of Our Expository Alien Shrimp, but I didn’t expect a high-speed corrupted-by-creepyboy-and-redeemed-with-the-power-of-heart arc that doubles as backstory for both Our Shy Heroine Shy and Our New Best Friend.

Verdict: still no idea where this is going, still willing to follow.

(I’m kind of getting a Gatchaman Crowds vibe, with more grounded characters)

Unrelated note to self

Next time, do the Ryujin Industries quests before becoming a Freestar Ranger. It’s a bit awkward walking into a building after you’ve killed their boss.

The rest of the season


(…with the exception of the show Pixy found that doesn’t premiere for another two weeks, for some reason)

Shut-in Vampire Princess

The girls are well-drawn. That is the only draw. If it weren’t for the maid’s pleasant-but-affectless voice, I wouldn’t have lasted as long as I did; Our Blood-Hating Vampire Princess’ whining grates on my ears. Honestly, the only thing I liked about her was the dolphin plushie.

Verdict: I might check back in a few weeks to see if they tone down the slapstick and whining, and maybe get the empress and the maid into a bath scene together.

(this had an unpleasant aftertaste, kind of like the “Caramel Cold Brew” M&M’s I just made the mistake of trying…)

Tearmoon Empire, episode 1

A lot of reviewers are categorizing this as a “repenting villainess” story, but that doesn’t quite fit, even setting aside the dubious nature of the whole “villainess” genre (which appears to be a trope without an origin). In her first life, the crime Tia was executed for was being a clueless self-centered teenager. She wasn’t responsible for any of the misery that led to revolution, she was just the last member of the royal family, hated as a symbol.

In any case, this is not Realist Hero with his endless quotes from Machiavelli. This is a romp, in which Our Nearly-Headless Heroine’s greatest fear is being chased down by a cute chibi guillotine. There is a very real guillotine in her memories of what was, but her future past is being filtered through the mind of a spoiled 12-year-old.

Verdict: a little shouty, but she did just have her head chopped off, so it can be forgiven for now. I’d prefer to hear more of the adult-Mia voice, at least for her inner monologue, but oh well. Speaking of voices, chibi-guillotine is a former NGT48 idol singer, so that’s… something, I suppose.

(not fan-art; the official cover artist is on Pixiv, which is good, because pretty much everything else for this series is badly-drawn porn, and not even much of that)

Potion Loli, episode 1

Speaking of romps, Our Genre-Savvy Heroine rips through the isekai starter tropes at record speed, aided and abetted by some rather inept and stupid gods, only to be dropped in a world that isn’t quite the genre she expected. Armed only with OP cheat skills and evil-chibi eyes, Kaoru sets out for a life of adventure.

Verdict: my (pretty low) expectations were exceeded. Art and animation quality, not so much.

(there’s even less fan-art of this series than of Tearmoon, but even odder is that none of it is porn. yet)

Frieren, episode 5


Y’know, it can be hard to tell the difference between Frieren allowing her apprentice to learn a valuable lesson, and Frieren being an idiot.

Verdict: more of the same, in a good way.

Dear Bethesda,

In Starfield, please disable all animation and interaction with and between members of the crew when the player is in the cockpit. It’s bad enough that Cora composes haiku and tells dad jokes as soon as you warp into a system and get jumped by pirates, but when you’re in the special post-spoiler ship, they all casually stroll in front of the cockpit, blocking your view of attacking ships.

More Pixiv jargon…

Saw this one for the first time today, while looking for something else: 茶巾 (read “chakin”). I immediately recognized the characters for “tea” and “cloth”, and indeed I’d run into it earlier in the week while looking up my cast iron tea kettle: a chakin is used to safely handle a hot lid and wipe drips off the spout.

To me, it had no obvious connection to “skirt tied overhead”. The answer lies in the baking world, with chakin-shibori, a method of tightly wrapping mashed ingredients before baking, either with a literal tea cloth that doesn’t go into the oven, or with a wrapper that does.

Dear Emacs,

Please stop line-wrapping URLs that contain CJK characters. That is all.

(pretty-please with kittens on top)

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”