2020 IF Comp: Electric word, “life”

October 26, 2020 at 10:41 am (Uncategorized)

I found the title really weird and off-putting, but maybe it’ll make sense later.

My selection process is specific to me. It feels unfair, but logically I figure that if everyone chooses games they think they’ll like then it works out? Personally I choose choice-based games that are under the 2 hour limit (theoretically I can judge it based on the first two hours of play, but that would feel too weird for me), that have not the slightest whiff of puzzles or problem solving, because I am spectacularly bad at that stuff. So not only do I hate it, but I’m well below the average person skill-wise and that feels unfair to the game.

I also choose games that aren’t too dark or scary, and I try to avoid humour too (I admire humour, but tend not to like too much of it).

The title of this one is so weird it made me think the writer doesn’t speak English well. Either that or there’s something else going on. Since the blurb etc seemed fine I’m hoping there’s a reason the title is so bizarre (or, failing that, that it’s the only bizarre part of this tale).

Onwards…

The very first segment shows considerable mastery over language, and I’m already interested (plus, Sanjay isn’t yet another oh-so-white name, which suggests the writer isn’t completely boring).

This is good. Really good. I don’t think there’s any branching at all, but it drew me in with a surprisingly light touch.

I think this will be my favourite game this year (knowing that I’ll only barely get around to my usual 5 games).

For now I’ll say 4.5 stars. I may change it to 5 later.

I still hate the title 🙂

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2020 IF Comp: High Jinnks

October 24, 2020 at 6:26 pm (Uncategorized)

This is a fun, flowing tale full of bickering and humour. The characters are particularly good, revealing their true selves piece by piece throughout the tale. Many choices are meaningless, but often fun all the same. It felt largely like a non-interactive story as it was fairly linear overall, hitting all the same story beats regardless of the player’s choices—but there are plenty of flavoursome bits and pieces to discover.

It is weird and sweet, and I like it.

4 Stars

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2020 IF Comp: Chorus

October 12, 2020 at 10:02 pm (Uncategorized)

The writing throughout is elegant; it runs along well and I didn’t spot a single spelling or grammar issue.

I’d like more choices but the ones I made are major; clearly it is a direct-branching rather than a delayed-branching story, although there are elements along the way that alter the outcome too.

It was a shame the characters didn’t really interact (although I imagine that would have doubled or even quadrupled the amount of work—true branching stories like this are HARD).

I probably did quite badly as my short-term memory is very poor and I couldn’t remember names, let alone species or talents.

Some of it was a little disjointed.

I liked the way it indicated there are three possible endings, and gave a hint for getting a better ending.

This is a well-written game with a well-developed world, but it didn’t draw me in emotionally.

Three stars.

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Expectations, Power, and Gratitude

October 11, 2020 at 3:27 pm (Uncategorized)

We were matched with a family the day after my last blog entry. I am deliriously excited, but haven’t written again since then because… there’s very little I can say.

I haven’t actually met any members of the family yet, and I don’t even know their names. I know their first language, their ages, their approximate location, and a few things about what our group will probably spend our time working on with them. But I can’t share any of that publicly yet.

Last Thursday four members of our core group, including me, joined about a hundred others around Australia to meet some more experienced people who could give us some advice (all via Zoom). One of the most challenging things for me was talking about the power dynamic between a sponsor group and a refugee family. How do we make decisions about what to spend money on? What do we do when a refugee disagrees with our advice (eg. Don’t look for work yet; you need to work on English acquisition first)? How do we say no if a refugee asks for something we think is unreasonable (say, a computer game)? And how do we actually develop a real friendship when all the power is on our side?

Of course the crucial thing is to help the refugees become independent of us as soon as possible, both financially and emotionally. Then they can choose whether to continue spending time with us or not.

And what do we call them? Well, at the moment almost all we know (certainly all we can say public) is that they’re a refugee family. But the sooner we STOP calling them refugees the better. (At the same time, acknowledging their refugee status is important for fundraising, and if there is a smiling, successful family to point to as proof that we’re doing a good thing, then that is extremely helpful for fundraising. But we can’t assume that the family is willing to be our poster child, and in fact that role could be actively harmful to them.)

And—this is the bit that hits home for me the most—when are they allowed to stop being grateful?

During the Zoom meeting, a highly-educated dark-skinned man talked about how he came to New Zealand as a very young child, but every time someone discovers this (and people of course ask, “Where are you from?” which is a question that anyone with non-Caucasian skin learns to dread), they say, “Oh, you must be so grateful!”

Why should he be grateful, when those born in New Zealand are not generally consciously grateful to be living in one of the safest, richest places on Earth? Being born in a great country doesn’t make a person morally superior. (Quite the opposite.)

I am what I call “Omo-white” (that is, very very white for several generations… it is not a coincidence that I am descended from a South African man on one side and Brits and Germans on the other). But I have been heavily involved in a bunch of fundraisers ever since I was nine years old, when my family was raising financial support to go to Papua New Guinea as STAs (Short-Term Assistants) for Wycliffe Bible Translators. Leaving aside the various colonialism-tinged implications of missionary work for some other blog entry, I learned young about gratitude as salesmanship.

When people gave us money, we had to be pleased and happy. We also owed them success stories further down the track. My mother wrote regular newsletters that were fun and cheerful, and that told people their money was well spent. We would focus on the stories that people wanted to hear (“This is a photo of a young woman reading the Bible in her own language for the first time”—and of course she’d be attractive, but also just a little bit exotic—perhaps she’s be in traditional clothes for a dance instead of her usual faded T-shirt) rather than the mundane or tragic (“A bunch of your money was spent getting dental work this month”, “We were robbed the other day and had to buy new clothes as a result”).

Missionary fundraising set me up well for when I had to raise $10,000 for stomach surgery. I knew immediately that I should emphasize my umbilical hernia, and call the procedure an abdominoplasty, rather than talking about my sagging belly skin and calling the procedure a tummy tuck. I also knew I needed to be careful not to complain about my health publicly for at least six months afterwards, regardless of my other disabling chronic pain conditions. No one wants to hear that their hard-earned money didn’t give me a shiny happy ever after, but only helped me a little bit.

I’m a chronic over-sharer (and an advocate for others who are disabled or mentally ill or overweight like me) so I often talk openly about my poor mental and physical health. But I’m careful to balance updates like that with humour, cat pictures, and so on. If I have a good day, I’m careful to be public about it, so people don’t get overwhelmed by all my bad days.

But even I am careful not to be ungrateful in front of someone who may…ugh… prove USEFUL in future. (And I hate that sometimes my life is bad enough that people become resources in my mind. I have gone hungry more times than I can count, and if I wasn’t married to someone with a steady income I’d probably still be going hungry regularly. As it is, I often put off necessary medical stuff for months or years because… well, that’s life with chronic illness. It shouldn’t be, but it is. And I’m wealthier than millions of people.)

That veneer of happiness and gratitude must not be something I expect from others. People needing help from others is not a moral failing, and it is not fair to expect those who have suffered more to have to put on a show for those who are more privileged.

May I remember that lesson when I am the one in the position of power.

[sorry about the lack of pics; I’m having technical issues.]

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The Reveal

September 18, 2020 at 10:19 am (Uncategorized)

Things are progressing with the Castle of Kindness Refugee Sponsorship Group. We have a date for our training, and will meet ‘our’ refugee family soon after that—late October or sometime in November.

There’s a teensy chance that I will receive a phone call today telling me about ‘our’ family. How many kids they have, what language/s they speak, where they live/want to live, etc.

I am dying to find out something—anything—everything!—about them.

It’s a lot like being pregnant. I have this big bundle of love stored up, waiting for a target. I’ve already worked so hard, and spent so much time dreaming about how this relationship might go… and I badly, so badly want any little scrap of solid information to make those dreams less hazy.

It’s very much like the excitement of finding out the gender of a baby. The gender doesn’t matter, but I just want to KNOW.

[The obsession with a baby’s gender is extremely harmful to trans people and even more harmful to people born intersex. But I understand that desperation and excitement all too well.]

So. I’m waiting by the phone, practically panting with excitement.

And here is a completely unrelated picture.

Poor post-operative Zoom.

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Refugee Sponsorship Diaries

August 31, 2020 at 10:55 am (Entries that matter)

I wrote last entry about the Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative, which is all about having a small group of people look after all the needs of a refugee or refugee family for their first 12 months in Australia (everything from English lessons to introducing Vegemite to helping them look for work and settle their kids into school).

This is so very much what I want to do, and it doesn’t hurt that I speak (extremely rusty) Indonesian.

The CRSI has a kind of pilot program (they call it ‘mentoring’ to distinguish it from full-on ‘sponsorship’) beginning this October, which runs for just 6 months, costs much less, and assists refugees who are either already in Australia or already approved to come here (so they’re probably skilled migrants).

I am deliriously excited about all of this, and I’m a massive over-sharer, so (within ethical boundaries) I’ve decided to blog about the experience.

I am a disabled and mentally ill bisexual Christian woman with two kids, two cats, and one husband. I’m an author of fantasy novels and interactive novels. For 12 years I prepared to be an aid worker (specifically a teacher) in Indonesia, visiting various provinces a total of seven times.

So far I’ve gathered a group of seven core sponsorship individuals. We’ll all be trained (via CRSI) and we’ve all submitted current police checks and Working With Vulnerable People cards. I compiled and submitted a form with all our personal details plus relevant skills. The group includes Chris and I, my mum (who’s acting as treasurer), two of my mum’s friends from her church, one friend from my church, and a man that none of us have met before who is studying refugee resettlement. We’re all facebook friends now, and there’s also a wider group that is following along with the mentorship via a facebook group (including many people that do want to meet and help the refugees but don’t want to be part of the official core group).

COVID of course will limit what we can do, and my own chronic illness (including being immunocompromised) is always limiting. I am way more functional if I’m in my (temperature-controlled) house, so I’m hoping we will be able to settle the refugees very close by, so they can easily come over (and hopefully go to the same school as our kids). We’ve been given a car (!) so we’ll teach them to drive if they can’t already.

I’ve raised about $5000 in Phase 1 of my fundraising plans, which fundamentally involved asking almost everyone I know for $100. (Phase 2 is a facebook fundraiser, Phase 3 is a GoFundMe, and Phase 4 is a Gift Shop made up of donated items for people to buy.) That is way more than we need for the mentor phase, but for the full program we need to have a bit over $42,000 in a trust before we can get started. That’s… a lot. Most of the core group is teachers, retirees, and… me. None of us earn much, so my mind will be full of fundraising for a long time to come. The up side is that, if the trust doesn’t get used up by one family it can be rolled over to the next refugee family. It’s still a lot, though—and that’s not counting things like setting up house and paying for airfares to Australia. (Setting up house is something that will be enormously fun and will cost very little as three of us are connected to Buy Nothing groups that are absolutely fantastic for toys, clothes, and furniture.)

CRSI will be in contact by 10 September, and I don’t know if that will be to set up our training or to tell us a little about the person/family we’re matched to, or both. I’m of course terrified that we won’t be matched to anyone and will have to cool our heels for months to come. But I think, rationally speaking, that we’re sure to be matched with someone… and I can’t wait to find out a little bit about them.

This is something I want to do for the rest of my life.

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Refugee Sponsorship (and cats, and lego)

July 25, 2020 at 3:01 pm (Daily Awesomeness, general life, With a list)

On the 13th of June (although, as usual in 2020 time, it feels like a million years ago) I switched my rationality off and wrote a big list of stuff I WANT. It ranges from the tragically unattainable (“I want Syria to be okay”) to the obviously psychological (“I want to stop feeling like God is mad at me”) to the shockingly complex (“I want to be a good parent”) to the financial fantasy (“I want a second storey on my house so we can see the mountains”).

A lot of entries are financial fantasy, if I’m honest. (A friend said to me the other day, “You know what your problem is? You’re not rich. I recommend you get rich.”) At the moment our whole household is bent towards replacing our air conditioning system (a really nice—and expensive—system which unfortunately for our finances is necessary for my health). It’s a horribly familiar feeling to be unable to afford medically helpful stuff (like a CPAP machine).

Moving on. Here are some items on the list that are of note:

I want my cats to do their business outside so I never have to deal with it… but at the same time, to be prevented from hunting native birds or animals.

Our yard is narrow (maximum about 3m from the house to the fence) but it wraps around three sides of the house. The main back door leads into a nice area in the corner between two of those sides, where a parent can sit and see the whole yard except for a narrow weed-bound strip that is 1.3m wide next to a windowless wall. We call that bit “the junk area”, “the jungle” (weeds grow over 6 feet there), or “the cat zone” because when the weeds are reduced and there’s bare dirt or mulch, it’s a perfect outside cat toilet.

Zipper likes it, and I’m confident that as Zoom grows bigger she’ll use it too (at the moment she’ll only go outside if there’s a human nearby… or sometimes she’ll follow ZIpper, but not far).

So the first part of the above wish was always relatively simple. The second part, not so much. I’m aware of a product called the ‘Oscillot‘ which basically just attaches to the top of a fence and flips the cat back down to the ground when they try to jump out. It’s simple and brilliant but costs around $50/metre and our yard is long. Then I saw a home-made version of this $700 deluxe cat enclosure:

The thing that inspired me was the very wide holes in the netting. Could we possible hook large pieces of netting between our house and the fence? That would enclose the space without making it too shady or too vulnerable to strong winds (which rip through more solid materials). Since that epiphany we’ve put shadecloth (which we already had) over the cat zone and we’ve mostly dealt with the weeds (and put newspaper underneath to hamper their growth—the shadecloth itself will also make it a less appealing area for weeds). So this dream is looking much more plausible. And we can do it bit by bit, section by section, until it’s done. In theory.

I want a bigger house, so Louisette has more room for her toys and I have more room for my ideas.

Even as a baby, Louisette has always obsessively arranged her favourite toys around her on the floor. This is… not ideal for anyone else. But I recently found out that people with ADD have an odd relationship with object permanence. Yes, technically they know that people and objects still exist when they’re not directly in front of them… but then again, sorta not.

Louisette will often take 6-10 trips from her bedroom to the living room in the morning, bringing out a large number of her toys and arranging them very carefully around her as she watches TV. It helped a LOT to give her an ancient laptop so she can watch TV in her room (and yes, I know that’s terrible parenting). But a few weeks ago we decided to go all-out on supporting her style and we let her have the entire converted garage for herself (sort of… there are still lots of bookshelves in there, and a spare bed). So that’s 6m by 3m. It includes a massive desk (1 metre by 2 metres) which is where the laptop lives AND a-l-l her lego. (One of the few rules I gave her was “No lego on the floor – ever”). So she watches TV and plays with lego (or does art, or plays with her other toys, or whatever). She also has a ‘babies’ area, a ‘Barbies/dollhouse’ area, and a ‘Doc Macstuffins’ area. Plus lots of open shelving.

She is thriving, and she almost never brings toys out to the living room. It’s only been a few weeks, and her room looks incredibly messy at first glance… but it’s arranged and rearranged and played with in very specific and orderly ways. And her lego creations are incredible. It perfectly mixes her inventing ability with her imaginative ability, and lets her both express herself and problem solve at the same time. She’s an 8 year-old lego master.

 

Of course I ended up with even less room to move/breathe, because I’m the only tidy person in the house (Chris also has ADD, and Tim appreciates tidiness but he’s 6 so there’s only so much self-regulation he’s going to do). Oh well. It’s not like the escape room is operating at the moment anyway, thanks to COVID-19.

 

I want to know refugees are looked after and welcomed, not just into safety (in Australia) but into living communities.

I want to know I’m making a difference.

I want my ‘good ideas’ realised.

I want to help Indonesian refugee families (but I’m also super shy and awkward).

 

If you’re one of the three people who regularly follow this blog (I’d say “Hi Mum” but my mum isn’t one of you), you’ll recollect my ‘castle’ idea from here and here. Basically, I wanted to build a big beautiful house (that looks like a castle, with lifts in the square towers for disabled access) in which to live while also providing short-term accommodation for disabled Indonesian refugee families. Because they’d be in ‘my’ house, I would find it (relatively) easy to support them with stuff like social events, English lessons, driving lessons, play dates with my kids, babysitting, some unskilled paid work (eg gardening/cleaning) to fill in gaps while they looked for regular work, and so on.

Well it looks like the core part of the castle idea—which is not the castle, but assisting refugees—might be coming true as early as 2021.

In 2018, The Refugee Council of Australia, Save the Children Australia, Amnesty International Australia, the Welcome to Australia initiative, Rural Australians for Refugees and the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce joined to form the Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative. The entire idea is that non-profit groups of at least 5 people commit to looking after the financial, emotional, physical, and cultural needs of a refugee or refugee family.
That is EXACTLY what I want to do (and given my shaky health, being part of a committed group is clearly a good idea).
Now, obviously looking after the financial needs of an entire family for twelve months is not a simple or cheap commitment. Even ‘just’ raising that kind of money is going to be really difficult. (If the refugees are able to work, and to get that work quickly, great! But that’s by no means a given, especially if they’re disabled and/or have limited English. And the whole world is reeling economically already so it’s not exactly a good time.)
Send me an email at fellissimo@hotmail.com if you’d like to help financially. I’m asking a lot of people for $100 each, and have had only one ‘no’ so far so I’m well on my way to my first thousand.
And I’m limited in my helpfulness because I’m at my best in my own home but it’s unlikely the refugee family will be able to travel easily, especially at first. Which leads me to a smaller but still impossible dream: to find an investor to rent out the house next door to ours. It’s not technically for sale yet but I’ve been talking to the owners about this for a while and they’re likely to put their house on the market in the next 6-12 months. If a friendly investor bought it, perhaps I could negotiate to use it as a refugee house (so the refugees were nice and close to me). Maybe I could even commit to organising ‘bridge’ payments between groups of rent-paying refugees so the investor was literally better off for working with me.
Easy, right? Plausible, maybe? Why not?
(Are YOU interested in helping refugees and making money doing it? Or do you know someone that’s been thinking about buying a property to rent out to people? Email me… fellissimo@hotmail.com.)
Anyway, so that’s where things are at for me right now. Certain impossibilities are falling neatly into place. Others remain.

And Zoom jumped into the hammock with me (and TJ) the other day, so that was a win.

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After Infinity: The Most Exciting Marvel Stuff To Look Forward To

July 11, 2020 at 6:20 pm (Reviews, TV/movie review, With a list)

Amazingly, this beautiful MCU juggernaut hasn’t run out of steam.

5. The Black Widow film

Fans have been clamoring for this film for over ten years, and some of us are tired of the whole idea by now. But if the film is good (which seems likely), all our pent-up excitement will return in full. And all the pain of Black Widow’s ignominious death too *sigh*.

4. The Eternals, Shang-Chi, and more diverse heroes

I know very little about these characters, but Marvel now has an extremely well-established history of taking anyone and anything from past comics and making them great. Arg, the wait sucks!

I don’t just want diversity because I’m a fundamentally decent human being, but because we’ve had a LOT of straight white men telling stories, and even the greatest writers are never going to be AS good at telling different stories than people who have different life experiences. That is, after all, why Phase 3 spat out so many unique and brilliant movies after all these years. It was a hint of the diversity to come.

That trailer really didn’t tell us a thing, did it?

You do you, Marvel.

3. More Spider-Man! Yay!

2. More Black Panther! Even more yay!

And hopefully way more Nakia (and everyone else from Wakanda too). I’d love to see Nakia and T’Challa’s romance play out.

1. The TV shows

Lots more hours of our favourite characters? Uh, yes please. I’m not super excited about WandaVision, but I’m always ready for more Loki, and I’m deliriously excited about The Falcon & The Winter Soldier.

I stan Mackie & Stan.

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5 Biggest Writing Challenges for Marvel after the Infinity Saga

July 11, 2020 at 5:06 pm (Reviews, TV/movie review, With a list)

5. Will people get sick of superheroes?

It has been mentioned elsewhere that the MCU uses a lot of fancy imagery to try to hide the fact that most battles ultimately still come down to punching. The thing about punching is that it’s fun and cathartic and satisfying to watch (punching Nazis especially so) because it’s so simple. I’ve become aware of the inclination towards violent climaxes in my own writing, because the great thing about fiction is that it’s so much simpler than real life—especially when it’s violent. But I’ve been trying to improve my own writing (by which I mean thinking more about non-violent solutions) and it’s possible that the rest of the world will ask more than escapism from its fiction at some point. Maybe even me, as an audience member. Maybe.

4. So much backstory.

Marvel tends to handle this by having everyone forgive everyone and just move on as if nothing happened. Which is actually really sweet in some ways, and it fundamentally works. Each movie just needs to take a few seconds to establish who is good (in this movie) and who is bad (in this movie), and then it can get into the story.

3. Marvel is too powerful (especially Scarlet Witch and Captain Marvel).

It was extremely noticeable in Endgame that Captain Marvel had to be busy “elsewhere in the universe” or all Earth’s problems would be fixed too quickly. This is going to continue to take some tricky writing.

How would I write a story in which one character could fly through space and destroy rockets in seconds, and another character is a regular human? Well, mostly I would try to avoid the situation altogether, because it’s not easy to balance stuff like that. The main strategy Marvel will likely use is to separate people into teams a lot.

 

2. Where to go after Thanos?

How can you up the stakes after “half the universe”? And how do you make it not be boring if you keep nearly destroying the universe?

Ugh, I just read on twitter that Marvel may bring Thanos back. I really hope that’s not true. He was a mediocre villain, and he’s had all the screen time he’s worth. Plus they already did bring him back, in Endgame, and it’ll ruin the satisfaction of Endgame if it isn’t the final end of Thanos.

Spider-Man: Homecoming brilliantly pulled us WAY back to just one baddie (and a highly local one at that). More of that, please. Because when it’s our local bodega getting trashed, that means a lot more than an entire galaxy blown up somewhere else.

But of course the biggest writing challenge going forward is . . .

 

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1. So. Many. Characters.

It was amazing when they managed to balance six heroes and one main villain way back in Marvel’s Avengers. Let’s consider the fates and futures of all those from the poster above (coloured side first):

Iron Man – dead

Captain America – retired and old; possible cameos

Black Widow – dead but has a movie coming out (set in her past)

Thor – hanging out with the Guardians of the Galaxy; part of their group now I reckon

Professor Hulk – withered arm; possible cameos

Hawkeye – fine but maybe in prison/retired; possible cameos

Captain Marvel – too powerful so they’ll be keeping her mainly in space having her own adventures

Ant-Man – fine; probably getting a third movie and generally being in tentpole movies

Nebula – reformed; probably joining the Guardians of the Galaxy crowd

Okoye – fine; will be in any Black Panther or Wakanda movie

War Machine – fine except for magically-fine (or are they?) legs; possible cameos

Pepper/Rescue – Gwyneth Paltrow is sick of acting so I don’t reckon we’ll see her (or Morgan) again

Rocket – part of Guardians of the Galaxy

King Valkyrie – I hope we’ll see her get a lesbian romance but she may fade out of the main storylines due to Thor being off world

Wong – sidekick to Dr Strange; in danger of death due to being a sidekick of colour

Happy – likely to appear in Spider-Man movies

Now for the black and white side:

King T’Challa – at least two more Black Panther movies; a central character going forwards

Star-Lord – Main character of Guardians of the Galaxy crowd; may have a romance with past Gamora; another movie coming

Gamora- dead, but now there’s past Gamora. As a love interest, she’ll stick around near Star-Lord and probably not die since she did that already

Dr Strange – two more movies so I guess he’s a central character going forwards

Spider-Man- another movie’s coming and he’s wildly popular; he’ll be a central character going forwards; possibly part of a younger generation of heroes. It’ll get tricky in 5-10 years when he’s not a kid any more

Scarlet Witch – shunted out of the main action since she’s too powerful; see her on TV

Vision – dead but past version will be on TV with Scarlet Witch

Fury – still around but mostly as a mentor figure

Loki- dead but past Loki has a TV show

Princess Shuri – attached to anything Black Panther/Wakanda

Groot- with the Guardians

Wasp – with the Ant-Man movies; in danger of death due to being a female sidekick

Falcon/Captain America- he’s Captain America now and I hope we see a lot of him. Definitely in TV

Bucky/ex-Winter Soldier- on TV with Captain America #2 and likely to stay on the small screen

Mantis -Guardians

Drax – Guardians


That’s all the main heroes, so going forward we have:

TV crowd: Scarlet Witch & Vision; Loki; Falcon & Winter Soldier

I reckon they’ll try to keep the TV heroes away from major roles in the movies from now on. Ditto original-and-tired/wounded/old heroes Hawkeye, Captain America, and Hulk.

Guardians crowd: Star-Lord, past Gamora, Nebula, Groot, Rocket, Drax, Mantis, and now Thor (probably temporarily since we’ve already seen so much of him).

Other major heroes: King T’Challa (+ Okoye, Shuri, and hopefully Nakia), Ant-Man (+ the Wasp, and possibly Cassie), Spider-Man (+ Happy), Dr Strange (+ Wong), Captain Marvel (+ hopefully Monica Rambeau and/or Lieutenant Trouble who’s grown up by now).

That’s “only” six, so long as we count groups as one person. Keeping them balanced will be super easy—barely an inconvenience.

Plus of course there are heroes we haven’t met yet—most notably, The Eternals, Shang-Chi, and a rebooted Blade (plus a bunch of Spider-Man stuff).

I have ONE list left to write: the list of what I’m most looking forward to from Marvel in the near future.

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5 Best Romances in the MCU: Infinity Saga

July 11, 2020 at 3:29 pm (Reviews, TV/movie review, With a list)

I am, sadly, not going to rank all the beautiful gay ships that have blossomed during the MCU’s run thus far. As far as I’m concerned, they’re all perfect and there must surely be enough timelines for all of them.

So let’s talk about official romances that have been established in canon thus far.

5. Pepper and Stark

By far the longest and steadiest (which isn’t saying much) of our romances thus far, this is the golden couple of the Infinity Saga. It’s last on the top five because Stark is terrible and unhealthy in so many ways. It’s in the top five because Pepper is extremely familiar with all his faults and she usually manages to set healthy boundaries. There’s no doubt that Pepper is the reason Stark is as sane as he is, and ultimately able to settle into being a pretty decent husband and father in Endgame. (Note: It is never a woman’s job to fix a man. This is a super dangerous trope that abusers love.)

4. Okoye and M’Baku

These two are settled in their relationship, but still call each other ‘My Love’ with such affection. It’s beautiful. And they love each other, even when their core beliefs conflict. It’s highly notable that they seem to have moved past their strong disagreement (you remember the battle, with the war rhinos?) in Black Panther, and are still together in Endgame.

3. T’Challa and Nakia

They’re broken up in Black Panther, but are still extremely close. I find that beautiful, especially when it becomes clear that their disagreement on Wakandan foreign policy is the cause of their break-up (rather than something petty). I hope they are able to get together now that King T’Challa has decided to open up Wakanda to the world—and I also hope Nakia is never reduced to a mere queen. She deserves her own plot lines. I would 100% watch a movie trilogy that was all about her.

2. Captain America and Peggy

It’s fair enough that they both moved on, but it’s also lovely that they ended up together and lived a good long life as husband and wife. I have lots of questions about what they each did during all those years (World War 2? Hydra? etc) but sometimes logic doesn’t matter.

Honorable Mentions:

*Thor and Jane, since Thor’s respect for Jane makes him a better person. (Jane is already perfect, and it’s great to see that she has her own life apart from his—and she’s handy in a climactic battle too.) I look forward to seeing Jane become Thor.

*Hawkeye and his wife, because they’re obviously doing a fine job raising three kids together, and because keeping his family secret is a very wise move on Hawkeye’s part (and telling Black Widow about his family makes sense too—she’s his best friend, plus it’s nice for hot single co-workers to know you’re not available so no sexual tension builds up).

*Scott Lang and Hope. I think this is mostly based on them working together under high stress rather than anything they actually have in common, but I’ll allow it.

*Peter and Gamora. Peter is a man-child and Gamora is a semi-reformed psychopath, so there’s a rocky road ahead (behind?) but both of them seem to be improved by the relationship.

*Black Widow and Banner. This is quite sweet except for the part where Black Widow describes herself as a “monster” just because she’s unable to have kids. That’s the part where any decent human says, “Er, that’s not monstrous. Thank you for being up front, now let’s talk about whether we actually even want kids, and how we feel about adoption or surrogacy…”

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1. Peter Parker and MJ

They are young and awkward and adorkable, but there’s more to them that just being two young hot people. They’re both in the science club, but they also actually know each other properly. Peter knows that MJ’s favourite flower is the Black Dahlia (“because of the murders”) and knows she deserves to be asked out in the most romantic manner possible. She knows he’s Spider-Man.

They’re smart, and good, and brave, and lovely, and their concern for each others’ safety is genuine and deep.

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