The shutdown drags on…

Some good news: Russell Vought, the acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, claims the IRS will pay out tax refunds even if the government is still shut down. Details as to how they’ll do that are thin on the ground, considering they haven’t been legally allowed to disperse funds without actually having the funds in the past. And they won’t have funds until a spending bill gets passed. So I guess we’ll see?

And some bad news: The Dept. of Agriculture, which runs the SNAP program (“food stamps”), doesn’t know how much longer they’ll be able to pay those out. That’s real bad, folks.

Meanwhile, Trump wants to address the nation tomorrow at 9 p.m. so he can lie at us some more about his border wall. News folks were reporting earlier that network stations weren’t sure if they were going to carry the address, but the article I linked says they will. I’m not sure if that’s been updated recently or what. Keep an eye on that, I guess. And of course, if you do bump into Trump during prime time tomorrow evening, don’t believe a word he says. The man is pathologically unable to tell the truth.

Trump keeps saying he’s going to declare a national emergency and use his emergency powers to build his wall, and the House Democrats plan to meet him in court if he tries it. Other experts have said that a national emergency and presidential emergency powers still won’t get the wall built. NPR has a fact check, if you’re interested.

And, to wrap things up on a lighter note, it looks like Supernatural‘s 300th episode is going to have some favorite old faces involved somehow.

(Photo credit: White House in Washington, D.C. on Wikimedia Commons. Source and licensing.)

What did I read in 2018?

One of my New Year’s resolutions last year was to read 30 books this year. I actually read 60, but they were mostly re-reads. I think 16 of these were new reads (bolded). Next year: more new reads.

  • The Herald Spy Trilogy, Mercedes Lackey (3 Books)
  • The Mage Wars Trilogy, Mercedes Lackey (3 Books)
  • Fire & Fury: Inside the Trump White House, Michael Wolff
  • The Last Herald-Mage Trilogy, Mercedes Lackey (3 Books)
  • The Arrows of the Queen Trilogy, Mercedes Lackey (3 Books)
  • The Mage Winds Trilogy, Mercedes Lackey (3 Books)
  • The Mage Storms Trilogy, Mercedes Lackey (3 Books)
  • The Owl Mage Trilogy, Mercedes Lackey (3 Books)
  • Vows & Honor, Mercedes Lackey (3 Books)
  • Kerowyn’s Tale, Mercedes Lackey
  • Exile’s Honor, Mercedes Lackey
  • Exile’s Valor, Mercedes Lackey
  • Take a Thief, Mercedes Lackey
  • The Collegium Chronicles, Mercedes Lackey (5 Books)
  • Wee Free Men, Terry Pratchett
  • A Hat Full of Sky, Terry Pratchett
  • Wintersmith, Terry Pratchett
  • I Shall Wear Midnight, Terry Pratchett
  • The Shepherd’s Crown, Terry Pratchett
  • Lords & Ladies, Terry Pratchett
  • Carpe Jugulum, Terry Pratchett
  • Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett
  • I’ll Be Gone In The Dark, Michelle McNamara
  • Brief Cases, Jim Butcher
  • Storm Front, Jim Butcher
  • Fool Moon, Jim Butcher
  • Grave Peril, Jim Butcher
  • Summer Knight, Jim Butcher
  • Death Masks, Jim Butcher
  • Blood Rites, Jim Butcher
  • Dead Beat, Jim Butcher
  • Proven Guilty, Jim Butcher
  • White Night, Jim Butcher
  • Small Favor, Jim Butcher
  • Turn Coat, Jim Butcher
  • Changes, Jim Butcher
  • Ghost Story, Jim Butcher
  • Cold Days, Jim Butcher
  • Skin Game, Jim Butcher
  • Firefly: Big Damn Hero, James Lovegrove & Nancy Holder

Elseworlds, Part Three

I don’t even know how to explain the finale to you. I mean, for one thing, it was wild and crazy, and the big finishing fight made zero sense whatsoever, and I didn’t even care.

I told my boyfriend last night that my whole blog today was just going to be “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE” for like twenty paragraphs. Holy crap, you guys. This year’s crossover was amazeballs.

I’m not going to do a blow-by-blow recap of this episode because it was a very busy and very silly episode. If you want a recap, you can get one here.

Let’s instead just fangirl all over some of the cooler bits of the episode.

First up, let’s talk about that big finishing fight. The plan that Ollie, Barry, Kara and Superman concoct is 100% complete and utter plot macguffin bullshit, y’all, and my boyfriend was so outraged by it. I personally did not care even a tiny little bit because it was so much fan service fun. But FYI, this plan is total drivel.

Barry and Kara decide that if they both fly around the Earth, in opposite directions, at mach 7, they can slow down time long enough for Superman to use the magic book.

(By the way, the magic book? Turned out to be the Book of Souls from Destiny. For the uncomicked, the Book of Souls belongs to Destiny of the Endless, a character from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. None of the Endless show up in the crossover, but kind of cool that they got a bit of a name drop, eh?)

Which, no. That is not how speed works. That is not how time works. That isn’t how, like, anything works. Also, even if time and speed and the Earth’s rotation did work that way, it’s not going to slow down time for everyone but Superman. Time is relative. If they slow down time for everyone, things are still happening at the same pace everywhere to the people involved.

No part of this plans makes any kind of sense or would in anyway work. It is pure foolishness. But it did get us an homage to the original Superman movie, which was pretty much the whole point as far as I can tell, so I’ll allow it.

Flying in opposite directions at mach 7 to slow time will arbitrarily kill both Kara and Barry. Don’t worry, though, Oliver has an idea: go yell at the Monitor until he gets his way, which, I mean, okay? Stephen Amell is kind of an intimidating guy. If he yelled at me I’d be all “Jeez, fine, relax,” too.

Okay, okay. That’s not exactly what happens. What exactly happens is that Oliver makes some kind of mysterious deal with the Monitor to save Barry and Kara’s lives. Because I guess he’s been hanging out with Dean and Sam over on Supernatural when we weren’t looking and thought that mysterious deals with omniscient supernatural enemies were a solid idea. It always works out well for the Winchester boys, right?

This episode wasn’t as humor-oriented as the previous two episodes, but we did get some good bits. Barry nearly vomiting after Oliver puts a whole group of kids in danger to distract SuperDeegan had me in stitches. The bit with Brainy and AMAZO was fantastic. Evil!Cisco was a hoot. Gary, from Legends of Tomorrow? His cameo was awesome. That was actually my big (non-finale-reveal) SQUEE! moment this episode.

Supergirl is not as big on humor as The Flash – or even Arrow – is, though. What the Supergirl writer’s room does well is heart. And we got some great, heart-felt moments here. The scenes with Kara and the Earth 1 version of Alex Danvers were excellent, but the real knock-out winner was the epilogue with Clark and Kara, and Superman and Lois. The reveal on Lois’ pregnancy and Clark proposing were just… I mean, AWWWW.

And he proposed with a ring he made from charcoal, like in the Superman movies! AWWW.

(I’d like to take a moment to point out that this whole bit, with Supes and Lois moving off to Argo for the baby and whatnot, probably means that shit is about to get seriously real over on Supergirl, and they want to make sure that we know Superman is not. available. to help.)

But of course: the Big Reveal. Holy shit, you guys. OMG.

Psycho Pirate. The Monitor. Doctor Destiny. We’re doin’ it, you guys.

We’re doing Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Fall! 2019! OMG! It’s happening!

I mean, we knew it was going to happen eventually. We’ve been building towards this moment for several years on the CW. But holy crap. They’re going for it! AAAAH!

Is it fall yet, you guys? Now? How about now?

I don’t know what’s going to happen, or how it’s all going to shake out, or what the end result of a CW Crisis on Infinite Earths is going to be, but I can tell you that’s it’s gonna be amazing and I can’t frickin’ believe we get to see this on network TV.

Line of Night Award

Dual winners for this episode!

First: “Being bad makes me feel bad, man,” from Barry Allen, who’s about to hurl over Ollie’s crane gambit.

Second: “An enormous robot with the powers of Superman. This is exciting. Thank you for including me,” from Brainiac, going after AMAZO.

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Elseworlds, Part Two

I’m actually gonna start with Legends of Tomorrow, which wasn’t involved in the big crossover this year, but their mid-season finale did give a shout out to the crossover, and it was also banana-pants crazy awesome.

Legends of Tomorrow is the best show. It’s just the best. It’s nuts, it’s hilarious, it’s got heart. If you’re not watching it, you’re doing television wrong.

Last night’s mid-season finale centered around Constantine, Zari, and Charlie’s attempt to fix the wildly hot mess Constantine and Charlie made of the timeline while trying to fix Constantine’s lovelife mistakes. It involved an homage to 70’s and 80’s action shows, puppets, Garima, and just wild, wild amounts of insane hilarity.

It also involved both Charlie and Constantine, our two team outcasts, learning lessons about what having a team actually means, which was pretty cool.

The entire episode is like the Legends of Tomorrow writers’ room read the Elseworlds scripts and said, “Aw, you guys think you can write goofy fun with heart? That’s adorable. Buckle up, Tinkerbell.”

Okay, on to Elseworlds.

When we last left our intrepid adventurers they’d determined that Gotham was their next stop in their hunt for the mystery villain that switched Ollie’s and Barry’s lives around.

First stop is a trip to Argus to catch up with the rest of the Geek Squad and Diggle. I guess Oliver works at Argus now, or something? I confess, I’m not caught up on this season of Arrow, because this whole prison plot has just been incredibly tedious.

This was mainly a pit stop to loop in the rest of the Arrow team, but there were some cute moments – Barry’s concern over Oliver and Felicity’s relationship, which is apparently on the rocks yet again (“Do you want me to talk to her?” asks Barry and Oliver rolls his eyes like Yes Barry, we all know you’re better at relationships, thanks.)

The best part of this scene is Barry and Oliver arguing over whether or not Batman is real, with Barry insisting he is and Oliver insisting he’s an urban legend the cops made up to scare criminals and that he, Oliver, is the original vigilante.

I love how insecure Oliver is over all this superhero stuff. He’s bad at being the Flash, he’s intimidated by Superman, he’s grumpy about Batman, it’s hilarious. Especially considering that Oliver is the badass in the CW superhero universe, to the point where you get the Green Arrow as run-in backup on other supershows, complete with his own musical sting and everything.

But that’s all okay, because now we’re off to Gotham and another chapter in the Everyone Roasts Oliver book. Seriously, Ollie’s been getting raked over the coals. I’m okay with it, too, because Ollie’s been kind of a dick lately. He could use a wake-up call.

This chapter includes Barry gleefully calling Ollie out over cheating on Laurel with Sarah way back in season one of Arrow, and both Kara and Barry snickering over Ollie not being able to remember if he slept with someone or not.

Anyway, there’s stuff, the gang is briefly arrested, there’s snark all around, and finally we get to Batwoman. This episode is sort of a back-door pilot for a Batwoman show, so the whole thing sort of feels wedged together to that purpose. Which is unfortunate, because we’re trying to do a lot in this episode, which means that there isn’t enough time for plot and Batwoman kind of gets shorted.

There’s an interlude with Kate Kane, who is apparently Bruce Wayne’s cousin? Is that a thing in the comics or is that just for the show? I don’t remember. I feel like that’s not in the comics.

People were hella mad about Ruby Rose playing Batwoman for some reason, which I don’t get, because she did just fine. (Her bat-voice could use a little work.) Her Kate Kane was a hoot, also. She flirts briefly at Kara and Kara gets all awkward and embarrassed, but it looks like later on they have a little bonding moment, so there’s a friendship to look forward to.

Also, we get confirmation that there’s definitely a Bruce Wayne and Batman over on Earth 38 and he and Superman are “frenemies.” Heh.

There’s a hellacious throwdown in Arkham Asylum, where Flash, Supergirl, Green Arrow, Killer Frost, Batwoman and Diggle all take on a horde of Asylum mooks, including Nora Fries, apparently? Which was weird? What happened to Victor, and why isn’t Nora cryogenically frozen? I assume there’ll be answers to that if the Batwoman show comes to fruition.

Barry and Oliver get fear-gassed, too, and end up fighting each other, with Barry thinking he’s fighting Malcom Merlyn (I threw my hands up and yelled “YAY!” when Barrowman showed up) and Oliver fighting Wellsobard. Both Merlyn and Wellsobard talk, just, all the shit to Barry and Oliver, which leads to them having a nice moment of understanding what they’ve each been through in their lives, later on.

But it was weird? I mean, sure, the universe thinks Barry is Oliver and Oliver is Barry, but they don’t, and the fear gas works on their minds, so why on Earth would Barry hallucinate Merlyn? Does he even know who Merlyn is? Same for Oliver hallucinating Reverse Flash.

I mean, character growth, it helped the story, yaddayaddayadda. I get it. Just, it didn’t seem like it should work that way?

Whatever, it was fun. And the team met Dr. Deegan and stole his big fancy magic book from him.

Anyway, they head back to Star City, where Earth 90’s Flash, also a Barry Allen but played by John Wesley Ship, shows up to warn everyone about the Monitor. Which is what all the red skies and lightning was about, apparently. That was this particular Flash trying to breach over with a warning.

And then we meet the Monitor! Who babbles some cryptic nonsense about upcoming crises and how he’s trying to find champions to meet the challenge, and promptly steals the magic book back to give back to Deegan.

And Deegan uses it to make a hot mess of everything, turning Barry and Oliver into the Trigger Twins and throwing a black-suited Superman at them.

Woof. There was a lot going on in this episode. As fun as it was to get Batwoman, I think the actual plotting suffered for trying to get her in there. It just made things really complicated. Shoot, we didn’t even get into the relationship BS with Felicity that happened this episode.

Overall this was a fun episode, with just hordes of Easter eggs tossed in and a plenitude of snappy lines, but the complicated plot kind of took a bit away from the episode.

Line of the Night Award

This one was an easy win. Line of the Night goes to Barry for his “I would never compare myself to a total badass like Batman,” line to Kate Kane, and the great big asshole grin he gave to Ollie after saying it.

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Elseworlds, Part One

I look forward to the Arrowverse crossover every year. It’s among my top five favorite TV traditions, even though it’s only been a thing for three years. I love the crossover. I don’t even care what they do for it. I just love seeing all those live action heroes showing up to handle one plot for a few days.

I adore the DC TV universe for a lot of the same reasons I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There’s a commitment to developing these characters, building their worlds, and then bringing them together to see how they bounce off each other.

There’s a commitment to enjoying the process, to the fun of it all, to the sheer nerdy joy of having the heroes get together to kick ass.

It’s something that the DC movie universe sorely lacked, and it’s probably the reason the DC movies (mostly) failed so miserably.

Superheroes are supposed to be fun.

Which doesn’t mean that they can’t be serious, or that the stakes can’t be high, or that they can’t handle weighty subject matter. You just have to look at Infinity War to see that’s not the case.

But even Infinity War, as much of a punch in the gut as it was, knew that it needed to have a little fun in it, too. That whole movie was built around Thor’s big badass entrance, and Thor still spent like half his screen time being a funny dork with the Guardians.

The fun is part of what sells the serious.

Elseworlds only gets three hours to get its job done this year, and it’s not wasting any time. The first episode starts off in high gear with Ollie waking up in Barry Allen’s bed, and Barry Allen’s wife making him pancakes and smooching him good morning.

(“What if – Barry – walked in -?” Ollie says when Iris kisses him, because at heart, he’s kind of a dog.)

Barry, meanwhile, is busy getting his ass handed to him by Diggle, before muscle memory kicks in and he whoops Diggle.

I love that Ollie’s reaction is all “WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS,” and Barry’s all “OMG THIS IS SO MUCH FUN!” It’s a really nice underline for their respective characters because Barry’s always thought being a superhero with super powers was the coolest and most fun thing ever, whereas Oliver has always looked at his skill set as some kind of burden or trial that only he can handle.

This carries through in their first missions as each other, where Barry’s almost having too much fun to get the job done and Oliver goes full-on overkill.

In short order we discover that the Flash team isn’t buying this whole “body-switching” snafu, although they are willing to believe something weird is going on.

(“Barry, did you time travel again?” – “No! And I’m Barry!”)

Unable to get the Flash team to help, Barry and Oliver turn to Supergirl, reasoning that if their whole world has changed, maybe hers hasn’t, since it’s a separate universe. This turns out to be the case, and Barry and Oliver get to meet that cousin, the super cousin, to boot.

Quick aside, here, just to remind everyone that Tyler Hoechlin plays a fantastic Clark Kent and Superman. Also, Elizabeth Tulloch did an excellent Lois Lane, even though she was only onscreen for a few minutes. I like them. Let’s keep them.

We get some fun on the Kent farm while Barry and Oliver discover that acting more like each other helps them use their new power sets better. Then Cisco shows up to let everyone know that there’s a menace in Central City that the Flash crew could use a hand with.

And that menace? Is A.M.A.Z.O. Yes. Actual frickin’ A.M.A.Z.O. On TV. In live action. And the Green Arrow, the Flash, Superman and Supergirl are all in one scene, fighting actual freakin’ A.M.A.Z.O.

I squee’d so hard I’m pretty sure the neighbors heard me, y’all.

This version of A.M.A.Z.O. was pretty similar to the Justice League cartoon’s version of A.M.A.Z.O., the big grey android who displays the crest of each superhero on its chest as it copies their powers. (I know this because we just finished re-watching Justice League for the umpteen millionth time.)

After defeating A.M.A.Z.O. in an epic fight scene, Superman returns to Earth 38 so’s not to leave it undefended while Supergirl’s helping Ollie and Barry. Meanwhile, Cisco gets a vibe and reveals the next major plot point to Barry, Oliver and Kara: Gotham, y’all. We’re going to meet Batwoman.

There was a lot to love in this episode. There was just a metric ton of fan service and goofing around, including a bunch of call-outs for Smallville fans. I didn’t catch any of those because I never watched Smallville, but apparently if you did, you were pretty overjoyed, judging by the fan reactions.

I loved that the chump villain was A.M.A.Z.O. It caught me by surprise, too, because even though they said the lab was Ivo Laboratories, and they showed us the damn android, I didn’t even realize he was going to be A.M.A.Z.O. until the android gumped Killer Frost and Elongated Man.

“OMG it’s A.M.A.Z.O.!” I squealed, hands in the air in glee. These shows can throw Grodd and King Shark and all this Silver Age goofballery at me, and I’m still amazed whenever they whip out some more.

I loved that Barry took the opportunity to get even for Ollie shooting him with arrows, and died laughing when Ollie had the audacity to get mad about it.

I loved that Barry was all about how much fun this whole Freaky Friday thing was, until he realized Oliver woke up with Iris. “Wait, we gotta fix this right now.”

I loved Oliver laughing at how silly Barry’s hand looked after dislocating his thumb to escape handcuffs. “I’ve done that so many times – I had no idea that’s how silly that looked.”

I loved “Just tell her she’s your lightning rod, it’ll work, I promise,” and the look Oliver gives Barry over that, and then the second look later on when it actually works.

This whole episode was absolutely the best, and it’s only the first episode. I cannot wait for tonight and tomorrow’s shows.

Line of the Night Award

Guys, there were almost too many good lines and scenes to pick from for this award. Ralph’s “It’s not even Tuesday yet,” the hallway scene at STAR Labs, “Are you puffing out your chest,” Kara’s Oliver impersonation, it was all fantastic.

But I think, if I have to winnow it down to one, my favorite, I’m going to have to give it to Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman: “Well that’s not great,” when he’s fighting A.M.A.Z.O. Just, the deadpan delivery and the surprised/irritated look on his face. I died.

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