solitary_summer: (schnecke)
# While it's still 2012 — A happy New Year, everyone!

# Still coughing, but today I got so stir crazy that I went for a short hiking tour regardless, and it doesn't seem to have done much damage. And the day was absolutely, although perhaps somewhat unseasonably, gorgeous (see below).


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# Christmas was okay-ish. Spent the 24th with the parents and a good part of the 25th baking our traditional Mohnstrudel, which for once did turn out really well. (Especially gratifying since last time I made if for my sister's birthday 1) the yeast dough didn't really rise and 2) I fell asleep, because by the time I put it in the oven it was well past midnight, and the damn thing very nearly burned. Stayed at home on the 26th, though, since I didn't want to pass the cold on to the nieces, and I wasn't really up to so much family, either.

# Merlin, again, because the more I actually think about it, the more the ending annoys me. It is a cheap cop-out in the end, not to mention manipulative both on a Watsonian and Doylist level.

An Arthur not days/hours away from death and despite everything grateful for Merlin doing everything to save his life would have asked harder questions about more specific instances, like if they would even be in this place if Merlin hadn't lied to his face a mere eight episodes earlier. And it's simply not true that Arthur would just have chopped Merlin's head of if he'd found out. Uther would have, no doubt about that, but if Merlin had sat Arthur down some time after Uther's death and said something along the lines of, well, at the time we didn't want you to kill his father, but what you learned from Morgause was actually true, ask Gaius if you don't believe me? Merlin is a classic case of the road to hell being paved with good intentions, and he can go on blaming himself for Arthur right along with Morgana. But does the show intend for us to see it that way?

And the audience is too distracted by the fanservice and too busy sniffing and hunting for tissues to notice that, or that the issue of magic and the old religion was quite a bit more complex than a teary 'But I did it all for you'.

Once again, right until the end, Arthur has no agency whatever, getting himself killed in a war that he could very likely have been avoided if only he'd known all the facts.

Gah. Enough said.


# Downloaded the DW Christmas episode, because, hey, it's been more than a year and a half, maybe I've changed my mind? Except things never happens like that, do they?

# Spent a rather indecent amount of money on a fjällräven parka and feel really kind of guilty. Granted, two thirds of it were gift vouchers I got from the parents and sister for Christmas, but still...

# Started the fourth draft of the Meta from Hell (tm). Every time I open the damn thing after a couple of months and look at it, somehow a complete re-write or at least rearrangement seems to be necessary. Kill me now, please.

 

solitary_summer: (schnecke)
Merlin finale... Mixed feelings )

In conclusion... Bye, show. After the increasing frustration of the last years I can't say I'll miss you very much, but you had your moments; it's a pity that as a whole you never really managed to live up to them.

solitary_summer: (schnecke)
# Tired, cranky and slightly sick with a cold. Yesterday I woke up and my voice was almost completely gone, but I still had to croak at 150+ customers for eight hours. Did I mention tired? God, do I ever hate Christmas. I can already feel depression setting in once the stress will let up a bit after the holidays.

# Also, on a more general note, when did my life become so stressful to begin with? I did another translation job in late Nov and a few more pages in Dec, I even sent off an application for a secretary-type job that sounded both interesting and doable a couple of weeks ago, although seeing as I haven't heard from them since, that probably came to nothing. (Stupid brain with its stupid, impossible-to-stop hopes. Damn you, self.) And I signed up for a bookkeeping class starting mid-Jan, which I can't say I'm particularly enthusiastic about, but at least it's something to put in my resume. I really want nothing so much as a couple of weeks off, no studying, no worrying, just watching DVDs and writing meta and going for walks. Sometimes I don't even recognise myself any longer. On the one hand had it feels as if I'm getting more confident, as if things are moving towards a change, but it also feels like I'm losing myself... I feel so shallow and stupid.

# TV: - Merlin: cranky ramblings )


- Elementary: still watching when I remember to, but neither the characters nor the plots really engage me.

- What I actually have been mostly enjoying is, God help me, Wizards vs Aliens. Yes, kid's show, more so than the SJA, yes, the premise is complete crack and I'm still not very fond of it, and, yes, rather lacking in female characters (*), but while I didn't like 1/2 and 6/7 very much, 3/4 was great fun, 4/5 touching and not bad at all, 9/10 definitely the best and most grown-up episode so far with an interesting moral dilemma, and 11/12 wasn't bad either, with some lovely moments.

(*) Case in point, it's really hard to care about Tom's budding romance (if you want call it that) with Katie, when Katie turns up every third episode for a couple of minutes while at the same time in 9/10 Tom is siding with Benny against his own family, his own interests, and then willing to sacrifice himself so that Benny gets a chance to fix things and doesn't have to live with the guilt of killing the Nekross, or in ep 11 Tom rushes straight off to Benny, quite literally away from Katie, pouring out his heart about his dead mother and seeing her (ghost) again. (So apparently the actors are 21 and 18 respectively rather than actually 16, but that's still half my age on average, so I'm really, really not shipping them, but this said, Fall of the Nekross is slashy10 in a really adorable puppy-ish kind of way.)

Also? Magic reveal 20 minutes into the first episode. Thank you.


# Picture spam, mostly to cheer myself up, because between translation jobs and Christmas baking and the weather I haven't been outside in weeks. It's all covered in snow now, although apparently it's going to thaw over Christmas. These are from Nov 11th, and I still remember that it was such a peaceful day, the changes of autumn already mostly over, the leaves dry and shrivelled on the ground, everything settling in for winter...



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+ + + )




And a week later....


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+ + + )

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Firstly — Merlin 5.05, where things are finally getting serious. (And a bit more ambitious than ~comic relief~, thank God.) The one minor quibble I have is that I seem to remember that Arthur was already more respectful towards magic/the old religion, but my memories are more than a bit fuzzy here because for the last couple of seasons I haven't exactly been watching very attentively. This aside, The Disir is the best and strongest episode in a very long while, and it made me go from meh to genuinely curious what kind of an ending we are heading towards.

spoilers )


Secondly, picture spam. This is from my brief and too-soon-over holiday last week, before the snow. From Hallstatt up to the Wiesberghaus (1.884m). I only regret not taking pictures on my way up when it was still sunny... (In case anyone is interested, this (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) is what it looked like on top. I'm only linking these pictures because they're really crap photography-wise, but there is little you can do if the sky is completely colourless/white...)



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descent into the mist )


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Back to work. (sigh)

Sunday (Christmas with the family, pt.2) was mostly okay, if a little stressed, because I spent the morning baking my grandmother's traditional Mohnstrudel. No fights, presents were generally appreciated, my sister's family's new Labrador puppy is completely adorable, only peed on the carpet once and spent much of the time sleeping with its head propped up on my brother-in-law's stretched out leg (poor guy is clearly the ersatz mum and spent a lot of time sitting on the floor...), and my father at least didn't seem to actively dislike it or freak out over it. (The niece, as much as I love her, seriously needs to get over her princess phase, though. Or more precisely her I-am-the-queen-ordering-around-my-lowly-servants phase. It's only a game, but still. Are there any books about the French Revolution for five year olds? And where does she even get that from? Kindergarten? Because it's certainly not from her family. Even the fairytales she watches/listens to don't really support that kind of thing...)

No family yesterday, finally a day off from everyone and everything, thank god. I was planning to go for a walk, but managed to sleep through two alarms and a phone and only woke up at the time when I was already supposed to be on the train, so I stayed home, read, and finished the first season of the SJA, most of which I'd actually already watched once, years ago when it aired, but found a bit too children-orientated for my taste back then. Maybe I've changed, or maybe it's because I've buried myself so deeply in this universe in the meantime, but I genuinely enjoyed most of the episodes this time round. I liked this cross-generational version of the chosen family theme, especially the close relationship between Sarah Jane and Maria, and the show's insistence that these are equally important as blood relationships... In Eye of the Gorgon there's that one scene with Sarah Jane, Maria and Bea, the old lady suffering from Alzheimer's, and there are these three women, three generations, talking about dealing with, and living with, the weird and the wonderful... it's quite brilliant and really moving.


You shouldn‘t be upset. The Talisman didn‘t cure Bea, but it did something amazing all the same. It gave her peace. (from Eye of the Gorgon)

That's Jack and the Blessing in MD in a nutshell, isn't it?


Also watched the Merlin season finale over the holidays. Oh, (sigh), what to say. I barely posted anything about S4, although I did start to write several entries, because in the end I never cared enough to finish any of them. Other than apparently everyone else in this fandom I didn't love S4 all that much, although I guess objectively speaking it was a step up from S3. Arthur had some good moments and finally some consistent character growth, but I'm not happy with the general direction the show has taken. Read more... )

 

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# So, another three weeks of radio silence (sorry!), but I really didn't have the energy. I actually started to write this post two weeks ago after I'd passed the final ECDL Core module and celebrated by letting G. drag me to one of his friends' birthday party, drinking a bit too much, almost getting lost on the roof of the WU building, and coming home at 3 am. Fell asleep every time I found myself in a horizontal position on Sunday, and as a result never managed finish the entry, and this weekend wasn't much better. I've passed Word Advanced on Friday, but it left me in a weird state of mind, completely wired and exhausted at once, unable to relax, even though I'd been looking forward to a free weekend. Went for a 5 1/2 hrs. walk today to get the jittery restlessness out of my system, which did help, but I'm already resisting the urge to stop writing and lie down. More personal stuff & ECDL woes. )


# That said, I really do miss fanish discussions and writing rambling meta. I re-read parts of my last Jack/Ianto meta recently, and leaving aside the irony that I wrote it at a time when there were all of ten people left in the fandom interested in both the ship and a take on it that didn't dismiss CoE, there are bits there that I'm really proud of, and I do miss that feeling of ideas clicking and coming together. So the plan is to pass the ECDL Advanced exams for Excel and Access over the next four weeks, and then I'll give myself the rest of the year off, because it's not as if I'll have the time or energy to do any serious studying before Christmas anyway, watch the MD DVDs and (hopefully) get some writing done.


# Reading, not that much of that is happening at the moment. Re-read the first two books of Clive Barker's Abarat series, because after a seven year hiatus my memories were extremely sketchy, and am about two thirds through the third book now. spoilers )

Also read F. Zwingtman's Ich, Adrian Mayfield, which I picked up at work (the children/YA section does have its perks...), and promptly bought the two follow-up volumes after I'd finished it, but am stuck somewhere mid-second volume now, because I made the mistake to glance at the ending, which, as it turns out, isn't the happily ever after I was stupidly hoping for...

And because I'm apparently completely crazy and over-ambitious, I've started to read The Master and Margarita in Russian. I'm still missing a lot of words (which makes me feel guilty all over again for neglecting Russian so much at the moment), and have to go back and reread sentences, but it's enough to follow that plot and catch the tone and style, which maybe isn't so bad for not even four years of learning?


# Speaking of Clive Barker, I came across this poem of his while browsing in David E. Armstrong's book Rare Flesh, and it made me think of Jack, Torchwood and the whole death/immortality theme...

There'd be no love... )


# Another of these strange connections... A few weeks ago Ricardo Pinto blogged about his plans to travel to Iran since his next novel is set in Achaemenid Persia, and putting off the journey because he was invited to attend a conference about Persepolis in Edinburgh, and I clicked the link and looked at the conference program and... it doesn't even make sense, it's been almost ten years that I haven't done anything at all, but for a moment I still felt a stab of pain and regret that I gave up all that. (My diss was supposed to be about greco-persian art, that is, the art of the western satrapies of the Achaemenid empire and the mingling of the various influences, Greek, Persian, and local, in style and iconography.)


# TV. Actually, mostly I'm looking for something to feel genuinely fanish over again. I'm still watching Merlin, and I'm probably not giving it up anytime soon, because I want to see what happens when Merlin finally reveals his magic, which is bound to be fairly epic, given the ever-increasing amount of lies and complications, but apparently S3 and the way Morgana's arc was handled has irreversibly soured the show for me. Spoilers for 4.01 - 4.04 )

With DW I didn't even finish the season. I stopped watching after Let's Kill Hitler, mostly because I didn't have the time anyway and haven't been interested for a while, but really, if you keep emphasising that time can be rewritten at every turn, then you better come up with a very, very convincing reason why in this specific instance it can't, or why the Doctor doesn't even bother to try. I know people found MD offensive for using the holocaust as a history-repeating-itself analogy, and I can understand that, but personally I find LKH rather more distasteful, because MD at least kept things firmly in the realm of analogy and fiction, while LKH blithely plays around with over 60 million dead, effectively using them as a backdrop for the latest instalment of the Doctor/River romance...


In conclusion, wanted: a new show and some fanish enthusiasm. Or I'm just getting too old and cynical?

 

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I was planning to go out with the camera today since we got quite a bit of snow over the last few days and it's (presumably) really pretty once you get out of the city, but I turned off the alarm, slept until ten, finally crawled out of bed around 11-ish and didn't have the energy for anything at all. Plus, there's Russian homework that still needs to be written. Yesterday wasn't even particularly stressful, but I've been hurting in one place or the other for the last two weeks, and I have absolutely no tolerance for that kind of thing. My body is supposed to function, damn it, and I hate it when it doesn't. It's enough that my psyche sabotages me all the time. But at least the pain medication doesn't seem to have lastingly upset my stomach...

On the downside, I seem to have developed a quite scary craving for chocolate and sugar. Apparently I can either have stomach problems, or a body I'm moderately happy and content with, but not both.

~ ~ ~

Read Ellen Kushner's story The Man with the Knives, and, meh. I still adore Swordspoint, but every single thing she's written afterwards left me wishing she'd finally leave that universe and those characters alone and create something entirely new. I don't remember much about The Fall of the Kings, except that it left me extremely frustrated and completely indifferent to the characters, and that the sudden introduction of supernatural elements into a universe that used to be entirely secular struck me as odd and OOC. The Privilege of the Sword seemed overly fanservice-y and even though getting a sort of happy ending for Richard and Alec was nice, I still wish she'd stuck to telling the girls' stories and made it a lesbian love story. I ended up liking the protagonist quite a bit, and throwing her into a novel along with already established characters IMO diminished the impact of her story. So now she wrote yet another, this time well and truly final ending for Richard and Alec, and it's depressing as fuck. I'm especially annoyed since I always found Richard the more compelling and interesting character. Alec's overwrought angst and various neuroses are bearable only when balanced by Richard's quiet and calm; on his own he's a character that I find hard to like. And to be perfectly honest, if the story had to continue after Swordspoint (personally, I'd have much preferred it if she'd left the characters there), I would have been perfectly happy with the Greek island ending of TPotS; I didn't need to learn that Richard died (probably suicide?) and Alec's arc, after yet more angst and self-harm, ends with ~healing~ heterosexual marriage. Gah. If she wants to write more female characters, more power to her. But she should give them their own stories.

~ ~ ~

Merlin finale - good parts, blah parts, annoying parts. I'll have to rewatch the last three episodes to sort out my thoughts.

~ ~ ~

I've been wasting way too much time on YouTube recently, but a song I've listened to a lot and really love is Svetlana Surganova's Коробли (Ships). (In case anyone is actually at work on a Sunday—there's a bit of NSFW non-sexual nudity in the video.)






Tentative and probably much too literal attempt at a translation. )

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All right, I lied. As if I was going to stop watching a show three episodes before the season finale. Right.


Oh, show. *sigh* Why can't you always be this good? Why did we have to suffer through far too many increasingly crappy episodes full of possessed brides, evil smirks and misplaced comic relief, to finally get one that looks like everyone involved actually put an effort into it? Beautifully done, suitably epic, great performances from everyone. Bravo. I'd actually given up hope to ever see something like that on the show again.

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Re. Merlin — sorry, show, I think we're done. The good moments haven't made up for the increasingly bad rest for a while now.

3.10 Queen of Hearts )

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The sad thing is, if I'm still watching Merlin, it's mostly on the strength of S1. When Merlin poisoned Morgana at the end of S2, I remember thinking that if that was the price to pay for their glorious shared future, maybe it wasn't so glorious after all, and maybe I wasn't interested, and S3 has been nothing but frustrating in this respect. With Morgana suddenly gone one-dimensional evil and the end of her and Gwen's friendship the gender balance is painfully off, and it was never great to begin with.

And it's not just Morgana; Arthur's characterisation has also been extremely hit or miss after S1. Memories are admittedly a bit fuzzy, but he went through some decisive character development towards the end of S1 (The Labyrinth of Gedref, The Moment of Truth), and Bradley James sold it. Completely. You could see the legend, the promise shining through and emerging in lines like 'I cannot think of my pride, when my people go hungry.' Even in S2, although I couldn't pin it on a single moment, I remember thinking that on this a bit cheesy and often too light-weight family show he plays the part of the (future) king more convincingly than Colin Farell who stumbled through three hours of Alexander with a lack of charisma so complete it made one wonder why anyone would follow him as far as across the Bosporus, much less half way across Asia. In S3 you can see how they're slowly moving Arthur towards the position of king, but these truly shining moments are gone. Or is it just me and my general dissatisfaction with the show?

And Arthur's characterisation suffers terribly from the fact that at the beginning of the season, although in S3 less annoyingly so than in S2, they reset him to the early S1 prat prince who insults and mistreats Merlin; probably for the benefit of the new viewers, I guess?

[Parenthesis: TW actually did something similar, but much more subtly. 1.01/1.02 essentially repeated Jack's DW 'conversion' from bad guy to sort-of hero for the benefit of those unfamiliar with the character, with Gwen taking the Doctor's part. He may not be an amoral conman there, but the emotional indifference, the superficiality, even the way he plays that cat-and-mouse game with Gwen, showing off TW just like he tried to impress Rose with his spaceship, are essentially the same. And 2.01 did it once again, making Jack chose between the amoral nihilistic hedonism Captain Hart offers on one side, and duty (Torchwood) and love (Ianto, Gwen) on the other. Within the character's arc, the first episodes managed to show the scope of his character. Emphasis, however, on 'within the characters arc'.]


The Eye of the Phoenix didn't convince me at all. They were clearly trying for some sort of gravitas, but IMO they failed, except perhaps... )



Love in the Time of Dragons I rather dreaded after the preview, but like the Goblin episode I ended up enjoying it more than I expected, although I still didn't like how Alice's story was handled (Is one single episode with a female character who has magic, but neither is, nor turns, evil really too much to ask for?) But Gaius is a fascinating (if not exactly likeable) character, and the lack of exploration of the similarities and differences between the relationships of Uther/Gaius and Arthur/Merlin is another instance of the show's wasted potential. There are some quite interesting bits of characterisation in this episode though, that made it worthwhile in the end, although they certainly don't make him any less ambiguous a character.


But you... you stayed behind? )

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# Merlin 3.06 wasn't just repetitive, but also insultingly stupid, and infantile even on the standards of this show. Also, if Lord Whatshisname is that forgiving of Arthur basically standing his daughter up at the altar before the entire court of Camelot, that alliance didn't need strengthening through marriage in the first place, unless the idea was snapping her up before someone politically inconvenient might.

Elena's story wasn't as bad as it could have been, what with her amazing riding skills, but Grunhilda chasing after Gaius and he being OMG!horrified at that, was cringeworthy. There were a couple of Arthur/Merlin moments that might have been cute if the whole episode hadn't annoyed me so much (the intimacy of the pillow throwing, the destiny speech), but OTOH the Arthur/Gwen scenes were too weak, especially for such an episode. I have absolutely no problem with Arthur/Gwen. But make it count. Make it an important part of the story. Make me care. Write it consistently, don't just stick the odd scene in here and there. Don't make her and Arthur's relationship secondary to Arthur and Merlin's.


# 3.07 was slightly better, I guess, at least in some respects. In others, not so much. I've always hated how Morgana's character and arc were handled this season, but before this episode I also had quite a bit of sympathy for her situation, annoying evil smirks notwithstanding. Now, though... )


# SJA: Death of the Doctor

I don't actually watch this show, or maybe more precisely, I tried and watched a few episodes back in S1, and it's cute and everything, but really a bit too children-orientated for my taste. I guess I was secretly hoping that RTD would make me like Eleven, but that didn't really work either. There were a couple of scenes I vaguely enjoyed, but in the end it wasn't enough.

And what I found really... unsatisfying, plot-wise, is how there are these intergalactic undertaker vultures-aliens who have presided over so many funerals and seen so much death and pain and suffering that they want to use the Tardis to stop death ('to halt the endless, endless weeping'), which is the kind of storyline that would have fit right into Ten's arc, but there's no connection at all to the Doctor, no acknowledgement that this is exactly the thing that made Ten stumble in the end, or that Eleven might see things differently. Odd. There's also the strong implication that the UNIT lady lost someone (or several someones), the way she says, there's nothing left for me here on Earth, not any more'. But that's never clarified either, unless I missed something. The whole thing felt a bit like a left-over idea that didn't quite make it into Ten's arc...
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Finally went to see the doctor yesterday because the cough and sore throat wouldn't get better, and unexpectedly got a whole week of Krankenstand. I'm still torn between feeling incredibly grateful for the gift of a free week, and terribly guilty, because some over-conscientious part of me doesn't really feel justified staying at home for this. Then again, this is the first time in ten years or so that I'm staying at home because I'm sick, and if I'm honest with myself, my body needs it. Talking the whole day isn't especially helpful.

The downside of course is that this also means I have to stay indoors despite the beautiful sunny weather and skip Tai Chi class as well as this week's Russian lesson, and the cough medicine I got prescribed is the kind they advise you not to take when driving, or when you've had an addiction problem, so there probably won't be any bursts of sparkling wit and profound insight forthcoming, even when I suddenly have a lot of time on my hands. I can practically feel my brain cells working only at half-speed.


Merlin 3.05 The Crystal Cave; lots of questions )

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The irritating thing about the stomach-problem now manifesting itself mainly in a scratchy throat is that it was only when I half lost my voice yesterday that I realised that the current sore throat had nothing to do with what I'd eaten. Should have started gargling Friday evening.


Finally catching up with Merlin...

Merlin 3.02 - 3.04 )

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New Merlin, and not only a) do I still have a (probably irrational) soft spot for that show even after S2 ('In a land of myth...', and there suddenly was a stupid grin on my face that I couldn't quite wipe off), but b) the first episode was, minor quibbles notwithstanding, rather impressive.

Merlin 3.01: The Tears of Uther Pendragon pt. 1 )



Switching fandoms for a moment, on the whole I'm trying to stay away from all TW S4 related interviews and discussions because I want to get spoiled as little as possible, but I read this interview with John Fay yesterday, and leaving aside the whole killing-of-Ianto issue, there's something he says about Jack that I found interesting:

In my mind, I was always aware that Jack had gone through this situation many times before, and that was really interesting to me. How do you have a relationship and fall in love with someone when you know – absolutely know – you will be around to see them die? That’s a real tragedy that Jack has to carry around with him, as well as a fascinating weight to hang around a character’s shoulders.


Becasue, really, this. And not only because it's always nice to get a bit of (unintentional) validation.

Obviously authors are dead, there is no right or wrong way to read a story, &tc., & so forth, but the acceptance of mortality is the central struggle in (RTD's) DW, especially for Ten, and although TW approaches this from the other side where death is a already a given, and the problem is to find meaning in life, the issue of mortality is equally important there and it's absolutely central to every aspect of Jack's story. Without this, nothing makes sense. S2 was maybe a bit deceptive in this respect, since Jack came back from LotTL so very determined to be as human as possible, but CoE picks up again right where S1 left off.

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Last weekend's Merlin kind of depressed me. In retrospect it's clear that the elusive mood and occasional moments of grace that the second half of S1 sometimes achieved couldn't be maintained for any length of time, and change was inevitable, but I miss the innocence. I miss the four of them being friends. Hearing the dragon bring up again the destined future Merlin and Arthur are supposed to share, and then ... )


~



And another recipe to make up for yesterday, but I forgot the cook-book at my parents and was too tired to go back.


3. Schokoladeschnitten

[Chocolate squares. These are fast and easy to make, no fancy Kipferl rolling, but very yummy. They also should look a bit prettier, but we were all tired and a little rushed this year, and didn't sprinkle the batter with enough ground walnuts and forgot the sugar entirely.]




Recipe under the cut )
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[*sigh* What I hate about the time before Christmas is work never leaving me enough energy or focus for anything else. Come home, collapse. Struggled forever with Russian homework yesterday, not really getting anywhere, wishing it would just all go away. Very inclined to entirely skip the baking this year, except I'm feeling vaguely guilty at the thought of giving up the one Christmas tradition I actually used to enjoy, and is even remotely meaningful to me, and not helping my sister any my mother. More guilt because I actually felt good yesterday morning, and then wasted the day procrastinating on the internet and watching bits of German soap on YouTube; and then read Patrick Stewart's article, which sent my mind on a whole different tangent...]


Anyway.

WoM made me think (although vaguely and not very coherently) about the differences between TW and DW, respectively Jack and the Doctor. To me TW seems essentially modern, very existentialist, with three episodes out of twenty-six dealing with suicide and the meaning of life, or lack thereof as a main theme [*], and a bit more upfront about its philosophy, because it addresses these themes rather directly. The whole concept of Jack's immortality and how it's treated also strikes me as modern, because traditionally immortality seems to have been regarded as something desirable, and in a more abstract, religious sense, the ideal (or original) state. OTOH obviously there's also the concept of eternal punishment, but this clearly doesn't apply here, because if Jack needed redemption, he'd already got that, dying on Satellite 5. Rose bringing him back was a wilful, purely emotional act of creation, without thought or logic or purpose, which is in keeping with the essentially atheist worldview of TW, where existence is random and only has what meaning you chose to give it.

And for all Jack isn't really a part of it all any longer, having lost part of his humanity, when he lost his mortality, even if JB is also comparing him to Prometheus now, he still embodies a deeply human concept and his struggles are (still) very much tied up humanity, his own as well as humanity in general, in all kinds of ways. Having lost the freedom of travelling through time, stuck on Earth, no short-cuts, no escape, he was forced to live his life day by day, having to deal with everything he witnessed and did like everyone else, only for a rather longer time than is natural or psychologically healthy.

The fascinating thing is how at a superficial glance Jack and the Doctor seem to be struggling with similar problems, but, looking deeper, embody very different philosophical concepts, which on a textual level comes out in the Doctor running from Jack and what he personified purely on instinct, and on a meta-level is probably the reason why Jack, the Jack we saw on TW, never really fit into Who-verse after S1.

Jack is still the easier character to write about though, because of his essential humanity. The Doctor, OTOH... I'd actually love to write something about (new)DW, but I always feel to do it intelligently I'd have to bring the mythology books, etc., and a lot of knowledge in this area that I don't really have. On average I love TW more, but what fascinates me about DW is how—maybe because it's a family show and has less of an inbuilt? inwritten?... meta level, if that makes any sense?—it goes straight for the epic storylines in an unselfconscious way that gives it the feeling of a modern fairy-tale or myth. Almost old-fashioned, in some respects. It's impossible to really put it into words, because I completely lack the academic tools for this kind of stuff, but IMO that was also what made the Harry Potter books such a success— an appeal that reaches beyond the modern, intellectual, analytical, sceptic layers of our brain and connects straight to the archetypes we were brought up with, all the themes that have been part of our collective cultural subconsciousness for a long time. But HP is more of a modern fairy tale, while DW touches something even deeper and more complex, with an atheist writer throwing pagan and Christian elements together, creating a sort of god that is neither and a bit of both, putting a modern spin on the whole thing.

Merlin sometimes is a bit like that too, but with the show's premise the meta-level is always inherent in the constant comparison to the classical versions of Arthurian mythology, and it has a tendency to pull back from the darker themes and remind you that you're watching a family show, which in itself is a modern element, because traditionally fairy tales and classical mythology were never specifically geared to children.


Does any of this make sense? I wish my brain were less Christmas-impaired...



[*] Sort of tangential sort of rant: on an intellectual level I can understand hating everything TW related post-CoE, but what always baffles me are the people who claim (in so many words) that it was all good clean camp fun until CoE came along and ruined it all. Not counting apocalypses and all the casualties that weren't major plot points, in 26 episodes there wasn't just suicide (and if Owen didn't in Combat, it wasn't for lack of trying, but because Jack is a bit more selfish when it comes to the death wishes of people he cares for), but also parents losing their children, losing family, losing lovers, losing friends, confronting the essential meaninglessness of life, the randomness of death and the ugliness of human nature. The most positive episodes are the ones that still are about death and sacrifice, but at least give it some sort of meaning, putting a positive spin on it, like To the Last Man, or Captain Jack Harkness. And of course A Day in the Death, which I think already says it all. Something Borrowed was the exception, not the rule, and the only other episodes that at least vaguely fall into this category are Everything Changes, possibly maybe and with much squinting and ignoring of the darker themes KKBB, and Day One, if you focus only on the crack factor. CoE only went a couple of steps further in that it was a little more honest and realistic about the consequences.
solitary_summer: (Default)
So tired already. I wish Christmas would just go away.


Finally managed to watch last weekend's Merlin, and while as an episode it maybe wasn't perfect, as a follow up from Sins of the Father it was rather brilliant, because it made clear that while what Merlin did there in the end may or may not have been a sort of 'reset' for Arthur, and may have been the best decision as far as he was concerned, it does have consequences for Merlin, even if he's probably only half acknowledging this on a conscious level, because so much self-denial comes with a price, and even while everyone was pleased with him in the end, I think something within Merlin did snap there.

Merlin 2.08 The Lady of the Lake )

solitary_summer: (kamille)
Merlin 2.08. Hm. Hm.

I really don't know what to think about this one. The first 35 minutes were rather average; the rest was brilliant, but also... a bit fucked up?

spoilers )


Also, there goes my S1 theory that Arthur actually already knew about Merlin's magic. *sigh* Time to finally admit I was wrong for once.

solitary_summer: (Default)
I don't even want to know what it says about my life and my priorities that I actually had a moment this morning, sitting back, thinking, oh, good, free Sunday, as in, won't be writing and editing insanely!epic!TW post. *facepalm*

I guess it was my way of getting closure, and I must have needed that, but... crazy. Completely, utterly crazy. Note to self, next time get angry, rant a bit & then get over it, like everyone else does. Stupid brain.


What with all that & niece's birthday last weekend, cake making, Russian class, belly-dancing class and yet another of those all but obligatory seminars about avoiding stress and how positive thinking will boost sales (Woman loves books like The Secret, and apparently positive thinking also heals cancer etc., unless you aren't thinking positive enough, but then it's better if you die anyway, and did you know that antipsychotics kill more people than... Gah. Two hours of my life that I'm not getting back, and didn't get anything for except a squishy yellow stress relief ball. But apparently we're all too negative...), I never got around to posting about last week's Merlin, which was the first episode this season that I really did like all the way. Genuinely funny, especially the scenes with Uther and troll!Catrina, but also with some lovely serious moments for Arthur, who's always at his best when he's defining himself in opposition to his father. BJ manages to project a quiet dignity in these scenes that gives a very good impression of the king Arthur will be. (Also, Arthur trusting Merlin with his life without a second thought. Awww.)


And this week's episode was really good, although I think it was even better before it took a turn towards the fixable and funny, but, well, family show.

Merlin 2.07 The Witchfinder; just a couple of brief comments )

And the preview for the next episode looks quite promising, too.


Also watched Girl No. 9 yesterday, which was gruesome and depressing, and personally I'd have changed the ending, because the bit where he talks about the other police officer's wife IMO actually lessenned the impact of the story; it's such a trope, really. Also, and I'm appropriately ashamed about that, right now I'm having a hard time seeing GDL in something else and taking him very seriously.

It's not just him, though; I watched the first two episodes of Emma yesterday, and I never quite got over the oh, it's Dumbledore! factor either. Not that I even liked the HP movies all that much. Rather enjoyed Emma otherwise, even if it's all a bit squeaky-clean and over-picturesque (but at the same time a bit modern?), but then I haven't read the book literally in ages and barely remembered the plot at all...

solitary_summer: (Default)
Weekend TV post, version: unenthusiastic.

Merlin 2.05 I was rather underwhelmed with, (also, ICK!) & there really isn't lot to say, except that I'm already feeling rather sorry for Uther. (Anti-magic crusade & lack of actual chemistry between him and Lady Catrina notwithstanding.) Or that I can't bring myself to even care about the potentially slashy moments when there isn't enough genuine emotion to support them.

Dollhouse 2.04... *sigh* The beginning was fantastic, even with that completely sick premise. And frankly, at this point, any episode with less Echo is an improvement from where I'm standing. But during the last third or so it kind of... just fell apart, a bit like last episode.

spoilers )

I'm not sure how long I can continue to care about a show that only ever says the worst things about human relationships. I'm sick of those outright (as opposed to the iffy Dollhouse premise) rape and abuse plots, especially when it's always the women who are shown as victims, even if the men do have a tendency to wind up dead. As far as I remember the only time we've seen the genders reversed it was with Adelle and Victor, and it was Adelle who came out as the vulnerable one at the end of the episode.

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