Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 18:06 on 16-09-2013, Robinson L
Arthur: The Escapist appears in my dictionary to illustrate "hit and miss", but ahahahaha, they're going to get so much complaining and crying about this.

Well, that was ... something. I was laughing (and wincing) along with it until they got to "Zimmerman Mode" and then ... hmm; it's certainly dark, but I can't tell if it's in a mostly good or a kind of not-okay way.

@Cheriola: I think one advantage I have over Clare is never having been all that much of a Potter fan to begin with, let alone now. But I do find the framework helps me think out some of this stuff, even if I'd have to ditch it when writing the actual story.

On which note, at this point I have probably about half of what I would need to go from the scenario you've put forward to an actual story I can write. I don't know what the other half is, but it could take me years to find (and at current rate, more years to write and re-write once I've got it); just so you know.

Consequently, it's hard to know what genre the story would go in. Perhaps secondary world fantasy, perhaps contemporary fantasy, perhaps sci-fi. With sci-fi, I could have the twins implanted by IVF, which would smooth out one issue - and if I push the timeline forward just enough, I could have them grown in an artificial womb, which would allow me to dial down the Luna character's enthusiasm for the project without getting into any messy issues of "why is she going through with it then?" (which I don't want to get into unless I have something specific I want to say on the topic); and that way I wouldn't have to dream up a whole different societal framework to explain people's attitudes towards, say, homosexuality, asexuality, poly romance, and all the rest.

Failing the artificial womb, I'm imagining the conversation going something like this:

Salamander character: Hey, you know, I was thinking. Y'see, I'd kinda like to have kids ...
Luna character: Oh, yeah, sure, I'd be up for that. Kids are okay, so long as you don't feed them carrots before the age of three - if you do, they'll turn into greflings. Say, now that I think about it *goes off into extended daydream about growing the perfect lab assistant*

And since I've been listening to the TeXt Factor Season 2 recently, I'm growing increasingly enamored of the idea that she wouldn't be that good of a mother, on account of viewing them more as future assistants than as autonomous human beings in general and children specifically, and also on account of being generally a bit balmy.

As for the other stuff, I'm sure I can work something out (I do want to work with genderqueer characters at some point, though the issues surrounding trans people in the comic you linked are also firmly in my area of interest). Mostly, I think it'll be an issue of finding a good selection of variously queer, ace, aro, whatever other marginalized subjecthoods I'm dealing with, people to give the story a look over once written and make sure I didn't inadvertently fill it with fail.

But as I said, that's probably still a couple of years down the line. Should make for a good story at some point, though.

Fascinating political discussion as well. I admit I'm horribly ignorant of the political situation in most countries apart from the US (where I'm from) and the UK (where I lived for most of the past year) - in both of which places the electoral politics are so bad that I haven't got the heart to check out what's going on anywhere else.

That said, I have voted even in federal and national elections back home, for whatever measly good harm reduction it does, and if it looks like you may have an opportunity to do some genuine good by voting in this election, then I fully support you in doing so, and I wish you guys the best out there.

(And for the record, I do find the inter- and intra-party wrangling a fun spectator sport, even if I generally deplore the results.)
at 14:59 on 16-09-2013, Janne Kirjasniemi
That's very interesting! Do you think that Merkel and CDU will form a new coalition with SDP if the FDP fares badly in the election? Also, I've read that the Green party seems to be in a bit of trouble at the moment, so do you think they have any chances of getting into the government? Hereabouts there has been lots of talk about looking to Germany for a model for our own structural reforms and lately the labour and employees unions made a deal that effectively freezes salaries for a few years. Also, some have raised the idea that something like the Hartz reforms would be a model to reform the unemployment situation, which seems like it is too forceful and doesn't really correct any underlying problems in the labour market, merely pushes the unemployed to low-paying jobs. The thing with parties like NPD is that while they are obviously racistic, this might in the end limit their influence by default. Instead, if such dissent would be able to rally support through concealed racism through "immigration critique" and vague promises to get the power back to the real people, they might actually be able to actually get real political power, as has happened in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Austria and the Netherlands.

I feel that the problem here (in Finland, that is) with the Pirate party and in part with the Greens is that they have been unable to broaden their politics out of the few issues they are associated with and that quite often they might gather people of quite differing political beliefs in for example the economy under the same umbrella, which down the road leads to issues of vagueness and contradictions in party policy.

Like here the Greens are formed of anti-authority activists(the young ones that are not entirely apathetic or not with the pirates) a portion of the old communists(those that aren't in the Left Alliance) some old school hard line ecological activists(Pentti Linkola is not a member, but his influence is clear) and then technocrats, who tend to be more of a moderate middle in the political spectrum. Obviously this has been a problem at times, with the right claiming they are red-green and the left claiming that they are a support party for the right. I don't really know what I'm trying to argue here, but I thought I'd share...
at 13:29 on 16-09-2013, Cheriola
Uh... Sorry if actual politics is not an acceptable topic for this forum.
It's just that the election is next weekend, and I'm planning to participate for the first time, so I'm a little excited and up to my neck in long-overdue self-education.

No, I'm not so young that I wasn't allowed to vote before. But as there's really not that much difference between the two big centre parties anymore, and all the established parties tend to break their election promises with impunity, I just didn't see the point. But this time, there's a real chance to kick the neo-liberals (ultra capitalist libertarians) out of the government coalition and maybe even out of parliament entirely, so I want to do my thing to increase the overall vote count, so their percentage will be lowered. Also, the Pirate party (young socialists concerned with government transparency, internet laws and information privacy of citizens) really made a splash in 2011 because people protest-voted them into several local state governments after the threat of ACTA (which is why our conservative/capitalist government didn't sign - they didn't want people to protest-vote for them again now). And while their numbers in the polls have sadly dwindled again to a point where they most likely won't make the 5% cut-off for the federal election, I do want to show some moral support. The MP candidate they put forth in my area is a very enthusiastic professional feminist (she has a company that gives advice to women in management trying to break the glass ceiling) who originally was with the Greens and who is married to one of the more prominent guys involved in WikiLeaks. She has no chance in hell of ever becoming direct-voted MP while being with the Pirates, but I'm thinking that if she gets more support from her area than other people in her unfortunately still rather male-dominated party, she might have a better chance to get bumped up to the first spot on the list of people to fill percentage seats if they make it into parliament the next time. (She tried to get that spot this time, too, but is only listed as number 2.)
at 12:31 on 16-09-2013, Cheriola
*sigh* Maybe I'm just rubbed a little raw about this whole topic because I've just seen a few NPD (National Democratic Party) campaign posters for our federal election the other day. They've got no chance of actually getting any seats in parliament, of course (last time they got less than 2% of the votes and you need 5% minimum to get seats), but they're getting more brazen. It wasn't just the usual "We want to get rid of the Euro" nonsense anymore. One of the posters had the line "Money for Oma (granny), not for Sinti and Roma." It avoids outright racist terminology, but the sentiment is obvious. It's disturbing that they get away with something like that. The constitutional court tries to outlaw them every couple of years, but our current conservative chancellor said she's not supporting the latest push for prosecution of the group as a whole.
at 12:00 on 16-09-2013, Cheriola
Honestly, I'm seriously side-eyeing anyone who thinks the Nazi regime is a suitable topic for light entertainment. (In fact, Wikipedia tells me this particular game is illegal in Germany, because there's a law against using Nazi imagery in anything but an educational context.) Or people who think that simple, drafted German soldiers (who were hanged in the tens of thousands for deserting, and often did their best to dodge the draft by hiding or act as incompetent with a gun as possible, so they wouldn't be put in a position where they'd have to shoot anybody - open conscientious objection was punished even more harshly than desertion) are acceptable targets for merciless slaughter just because the government that forced them to fight was rotten and evil. My paternal grandfather hid in the hayloft and risked being executed if he was found, because he had a farm and three little kids to look after and no interest in this whole damn war. This only worked because he lived in a tiny rural village, though. My more urban maternal grandmother begged, bribed and prostituted herself to the local administrative officer to get her drafted husband back home from the western front before he got killed or had to kill anyone else. (Thankfully he needed very strong glasses and had a higher education, so they'd believed him when he pretended not to be able to shoot straight and put him in charge of some supply depot.) She later got gang-raped by Soviet soldiers for her trouble.

So, sorry if I'm a bit touchy about the way the anglophone world treats the world wars, particularly in FPS games. (TV shows about the French Resistance or something like that at least mostly have the decency to make the villains the more volunteering and ideologically war-supporting SS troops.)
at 06:24 on 16-09-2013, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Hmm, they're somehow making a new Wolfenstein game. Well, I do enjoy a little bit of Weird War II, so let's look at some videos.

Here's the E3 trailer, and we've got Hitler mysteriously regaining is youthful good looks after nuking Manhattan, mechs, Abteistrasse, and what appears to be Nazi Margaret Thatcher. Looks like fun!

What's this, a bit of gameplay? Well, looks like we'll get...bloody mutilation...execution of the mentally handicapped...graphic allusions to the extermination camps and to experimentation on prisoners.

Jesus Christ.

Well, looks my my decision to stop caring about gaming as a medium has proven to be the correct one yet again.
at 18:53 on 15-09-2013, Arthur B
The Escapist appears in my dictionary to illustrate "hit and miss", but ahahahaha, they're going to get so much complaining and crying about this.
at 23:35 on 14-09-2013, Cheriola
Well, I was just thinking that the gay character in that queerplatonic relationship should still have the option of having a sexual relationship with other people, despite being married. Especially if it's just a paper marriage, and since aromantic people generally don't get jealous. (Just anxious that their zucchini will start prioritising their new romantic partner, because that's how our culture works.)

And then I thought: Who's available who'd be about the right age? And Teddy Lupin's metamorphmagus talent makes him ideal for a genderqueer interpretation.

Bryn might help you with a genderqueer-maab character. Or alternatively, it could be a trans guy, which probably would make the research a bit easier (there are plenty of people like that on tumblr). And you could adress this kind of issue.

Of course you'd have to change quite a lot to avoid having the same transparent expy character roster as Cassandra Clare... I was just spinning my interpretation out for Fin's benefit.

Hm... The ages of the characters aren't really important. I guess "aspy research student meets other, ace research student during an expedition, and then the gay son/grandson of their very traditionally-minded professor" is vague enough to work in various settings and genres. Though some of the heir/inheritance issues and upper class values (nannies, boarding school) kind of require at least a remnant of aristocracy. And the need for a justifying reason why the woman thinks she should reproduce even if she's not really interested in a traditional relationship does call for a rare supernatural talent or something like that. (Please don't make the woman the only one in this arrangement who really wants the kids, or make her 'give' the kids to one of the men just because he wants/needs them. Agreeing to give birth solely in return for financial support is kind of problematic, too.) Then again, alternative family structures and queer issues are always easier in scifi, where you can pretend that social backlash isn't so much of an issue anymore and that people will be left to live their lives as they see fit. Though I've seen high fantasy settings with a very LGB-accepting society, too. ("Sing the Four Quarters", the Nightrunner series)
What genre were you thinking of?
at 22:00 on 14-09-2013, Robinson L
Cheriola: I've got one more

I can try to work in most of that stuff too, though if trying to write an aro-ace character doesn't tax my abilities enough, I'm going to have to work really hard to depict a genderless character in a way that doesn't stray into serious fail territory. Then again, I take all that as part of my responsibility as a writer anyway, so there you are.

Of course, it'll also lose something by stripping off all the Potter-related backstory, but even then I think the scenario has a lot of promise to it.
at 20:31 on 14-09-2013, Cheriola
Though Luna totally would be the person to come up with the term "zucchini" in the Potter universe. XD
at 20:20 on 14-09-2013, Cheriola
Aw, thanks you two.

I've got one more: When the twins were old enough to enter Hogwarts, Salamander (while still married to Luna) actually had a serious romantic relationship going with Quicksilver (born Edward / "Teddy") Lupin, who would be about 30 at that time, if Luna gave birth at about 38. Quicksilver identifies as genderless and thanks to zir maternally inherited Metamorphmagus talent, ze actually manages to present as such most of the time. Nonetheless, ze and Salamander fit together romantically - and, well, ze can still manifest any necessary 'equipment' that Salamander might need to respond to zir sexually.

According to the Potter Wiki I just looked at, Teddy Lupin is supposed to have a budding relationship with Victoire Weasley. But that happens when he's 19 and she's about 16 and for people outside of kid's books, lifetime relationships normally aren't based on high school crushes. Plus, she's part Vela, so any sexual attraction to her doesn't really mean anything. If you want, she could be a lesbian, and just tragically think that, as the daughter of Fleur Delacour, she can't possibly 'deprive' the male population of herself. And in any case, who is totally sure of their sexual identity at 16? Most of the genderqueer people I know have arrived at that realisation only in college, as well. So Quicksilver not yet being 'out' while barely out of high school and still living with zir grandmother (an apparently very square woman whom zir mother already rebelled against) doesn't mean ze can't be genderqueer. Or pansexual.

I particularly like aro-ace Charlie. <3

I thought it was canon that Charlie doesn't have a girlfriend because he finds dragons far more interesting?

Come to think of it, an aro-ace Luna would work pretty well, too. But due to her weirdness and unfortunate stereotypes about asexual people, I'd rather see her as hetero and just trying to ignore any crushes she might have, because her research is so much more important and she doesn't have time for dating. (Luna's a Ravenclaw, right?)
at 18:45 on 14-09-2013, Fin
I'd like to second Robinson's enthusiasm for that scenario. I particularly like aro-ace Charlie. <3
at 18:15 on 14-09-2013, Robinson L
(No, I'm serious. I like stories about human relationships, the more odd-ball and anti-normative* the better, and the scenario you described pressed several of my buttons.

(*Not that there's anything inherently wrong with which are considered "normal" - it's the normativity I object to.)
at 13:56 on 14-09-2013, Cheriola
Heh, thanks for the flowers. :)

(Or were you being serious?)
at 11:00 on 14-09-2013, Robinson L
Cherioloa: Someone help me.

... Oh god, I think I may now have to write that story (though as an original, not Potter fanfic). If I do, I will of course contact you to sort out idea credit before seeking publication.
at 18:58 on 13-09-2013, Dan H
What I'm personally waiting for is when the movie comes out, and all the fans start insisting that it just doesn't capture the spirit or the complexity of the original.

Also @Michal

I'd watch that. At least until the scene with the cockatrice. Then I'd just turn to stone.

Sad nerd fact. My immediate response to this was: "Wouldn't you go down to the death-gaze of the Catoblepas first."

Seven sadder nerd fact. I then went to "and actually the Banshee has a pretty nasty death wail too" and then to "thinking about it, I wonder what the alphabetically first instadeath in the Monstrous Manual is".

As long as you count mental domination as instadeath, then the answer is "the Aboleth, which is the second entry in the book."

[Edited to add] A Monstrous Manual movie that stuck to strict book order would be *fantastic*. You'd have the story of a young Aaracockra whose village was wiped out by an evil Aboleth, but who escapes into wilds where they are rescued from, an Ankheg by a kindly Arcane, who then falls protecting them from an Argos. Then they can flee from an Aurumvorax and be forced to strike a terrible bargain with the Baatezu in order to protect themselves from a Banshee, then hide from a Basilisk in a cave full of Bats, Bears and Beetles where they follow a Behir down a tunnel to the land of the Beholders...

Also, the titles would be excellent. The Monstrous Manual, Part One, A-G
at 10:51 on 13-09-2013, Cheriola
It should be a really realistic mockumentary in the style of David Attenborough, with every mention and discussion about evolution replaced with weird and irrational explanations about magic.

That sounds like fun, but I can't imagine something like that showing at the cinema.
... Ooh, wait: How about IMAX 3D? Last time I looked (admittedly some years ago), they often showed nature documentaries.

Just in case Kyra is too busy to pay close attention to the comment section: at 05:31 on 2013-09-13

P.S: I've been trying to become an official Ferretbrain commenter for a while now. Could somebody ask the editor if they could pretty please check the editor e-mail account if only just to deny my request?

at 09:45 on 13-09-2013, Janne Kirjasniemi
Though, if this focuses on Luna Lovegood (and maybe Charlie Weasley) going on a grand, romance-plot-free expedition to look for some mythical being, I might actually watch it.

It should be a really realistic mockumentary in the style of David Attenborough, with every mention and discussion about evolution replaced with weird and irrational explanations about magic. Alternatively, if they could get Wes Andersson, he could make it a whimsical return to the world of Zissou. I'd love seeing Bill Murray looking depressed in a wizard costume. With a pointy hat.

Monster Manual sounds excellent as well. I yearn to see the dreaded tween or the half-fey centaur or the vegepygmy depicted on... well DVD-only probably.
at 08:56 on 13-09-2013, Cheriola
... Oh God, and now I want to write a fanfic where Luna and Charlie meet during a sea dragon related expedition led by Newt Salamander (the author of that bestiary) and become BFFs. Then it turns out that Salamander, while an awesome 'scientist', is quite a homophobic old bastard who insists that his grandson get rid of his gayness and marry and keep the family bloodline going, otherwise he'll disinherit him. So Luna, being Luna, basically tells him "You know what? I'll marry you. Whatever, it's just a piece of paper. And you can help me finance my expeditions with that inheritance. Plus, I kind of don't want my special talents to die out either, and I'm 35, so I guess I should get a move on with this kids thing, too. But just so we're clear: We're hiring a nanny until the kid is old enough for Hogwarts." The grandson also has a crush on Charlie, but while Charlie is flattered, he's also a) aro-ace and therefore not interested, and b) aware that it's just a crush and that the grandson is barely more than half his age. But that doesn't mean they can't form a kind of extended BFF/queerplatonic poly family. All Rowling apparently said is that Luna marries quite a bit later than the other kids, the guy she marries is Salamander's grandson (whom we've never met, so he's not even close to her age), and that they have one set of twins. And that Charlie never marries. So it would be perfectly canon.

... Someone help me.
at 07:47 on 13-09-2013, Cheriola
While I enjoyed the Potter movies (the first few more than the last few), this feels like a blatant cash-in and therefore probably won't be much good. Just how do you turn an encyclopdia into a movie?

Though, if this focuses on Luna Lovegood (and maybe Charlie Weasley) going on a grand, romance-plot-free expedition to look for some mythical being, I might actually watch it.
at 02:07 on 13-09-2013, Michal
I look forward to Monster Manual being the latest Dungeons & Dragons spin-off movie.

I'd watch that. At least until the scene with the cockatrice. Then I'd just turn to stone.
at 01:19 on 13-09-2013, Fishing in the Mud
Having lived for so long in my fictional universe, I feel very protective of it

Lord love us all.
at 00:52 on 13-09-2013, Arthur B
Smooth move, Rowling. Crafting Harry Potter sidequels as effectively movie-only projects* ought to let her keep her "actually a real author whose primary literary output these days is non-Potter stuff" but also keep raking in the Potter megabucks.

* I know Fantastic Beasts was made available as a spin-off book but so far as I'm aware it's just a bestiary and doesn't have an actual plot you could use to make a film out of, so it sounds like she's penning an all-original story for this. Unless the intent is just to film the bestiary, in which case I look forward to Monster Manual being the latest Dungeons & Dragons spin-off movie.
at 20:10 on 12-09-2013, Dan H
New outrage in the mail: Foreign Woman Dares Criticize UK Government.

Doesn't she realise that coming from a country that is poorer than Britain automatically disqualifies her from having any right to talk about anything?