i have never had to criticize a game for this before

On The Adventure Zone Graphic Novel, Blue Taako, and Representation

 Yesterday, we revealed some pages for our graphic novel adaptation of the first Adventure Zone arc, and received some criticism of the direction we went with for Taako’s coloring. This artwork reveal came some months after the first reveal of some of our characters, for which we also received criticism of our three leads, all of whom were white in these initial designs. Us and the graphic novel team realized that, yes, that is extremely bad, went back to the drawing board, and had several long discussions about how to best rectify this situation, resulting in the artwork revealed yesterday.

More or less all of the criticism we’ve received centers on Taako, whose skin is a pale blue color in these designs. What we’ve heard most is disappointment that Taako is not realized in these pages as a person of color — or, to be more specific, a Latinx or explicitly Mexican character. There was concern we had failed to follow through on an opportunity to get better representation for Latinx listeners, instead opting to take a safe route, and make Taako a fantasy color without any kind of real-world connection. Much of the criticism also focuses on how that color (or, to be more specific, green skin) has anti-semitic connotations.

This conversation was happening in certain corners of our fandom long before the graphic novel art reveal took place yesterday. We’ve heard criticism from some folks over our policy of not having canonical visual representations of any of our characters — a policy that has resulted in a genuinely humbling ocean of fan art, but also some instances of in-fighting between members of the community who take umbrage with one another’s disparate interpretations of these characters. Another criticism of that policy is that it inherently does not foster good representation, and in fact represents a noncommittal way of handling racial representation on this show.

Here’s the truth of the matter: I think all of this comes from this underlying friction between where The Adventure Zone and us, its creators, were when we started doing the podcast, and where we, the show, and you, the community, are at now. 

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Okay I’m about to spill some tea

SO “oh look, taylor swift is dragging up past drama to sell her new album, look at her playing the victim again, you’re still over”

is what all the haters happen to be screaming (among over ridiculous things) tonight, following the release of Look What You Made Me Do, the lead single to Swift’s 6th album: Reputation. But let’s take a little trip down memory lane to see if Taylor really is playing the victim. Hold on ladies, it’s gonna be a long one. 

2006-2008  

Taylor broke out in 2006, and when Love Story stormed the charts in late 2008 she became a global superstar and thus named “America’s Sweetheart” a bittersweet and dangerous title for any young female star, because it’s so easy to fall from the top. She was immediately held to an impossibly high standard of perfection, in every aspect of her life, and she handled this with grace. 

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Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully - in Ten Minutes

by Stephen King
(reprinted in Sylvia K. Burack, ed. The Writer’s Handbook. Boston, MA: Writer, Inc., 1988: 3-9)

I. The First Introduction

THAT’S RIGHT. I know it sounds like an ad for some sleazy writers’ school, but I really am going to tell you everything you need to pursue a successful and financially rewarding career writing fiction, and I really am going to do it in ten minutes, which is exactly how long it took me to learn.  It will actually take you twenty minutes or so to read this essay, however, because I have to tell you a story, and then I have to write a second introduction.  But these, I argue, should not count in the ten minutes.



II. The Story, or, How Stephen King Learned to Write

When I was a sophomore in high school, I did a sophomoric thing which got me in a pot of fairly hot water, as sophomoric didoes often do.  I wrote and published a small satiric newspaper called The Village Vomit.  In this little paper I lampooned a number of teachers at Lisbon (Maine) High School, where I was under instruction.  These were not very gentle lampoons; they ranged from the scatological to the downright cruel

Eventually, a copy of this little newspaper found its way into the hands of a faculty member, and since I had been unwise enough to put my name on it (a fault, some critics argue, of which I have still not been entirely cured), I was brought into the office. The sophisticated satirist had by that time reverted to what he really was: a fourteen-year-old kid who was shaking in his boots and wondering if he was going to get a suspension … what we called “a three-day vacation” in those dim days of 1964.

I wasn’t suspended. I was forced to make a number of apologies - they were warranted, but they still tasted like dog-dirt in my mouth - and spent a week in detention hall. And the guidance counselor arranged what he no doubt thought of as a more constructive channel for my talents. This was a job - contingent upon the editor’s approval - writing sports for the Lisbon Enterprise, a twelve-page weekly of the sort with which any small-town resident will be familiar. This editor was the man who taught me everything I know about writing in ten minutes. His name was John Gould - not the famed New England humorist or the novelist who wrote The Greenleaf Fires, but a relative of both, I believe.

He told me he needed a sports writer and we could “try each other out” if I wanted.

I told him I knew more about advanced algebra than I did sports.

Gould nodded and said, “You’ll learn.”

I said I would at least try to learn. Gould gave me a huge roll of yellow paper and promised me a wage of 1/2¢ per word. The first two pieces I wrote had to do with a high school basketball game in which a member of my school team broke the Lisbon High scoring record. One of these pieces was straight reportage. The second was a feature article.

I brought them to Gould the day after the game, so he’d have them for the paper, which came out Fridays. He read the straight piece, made two minor corrections, and spiked it. Then he started in on the feature piece with a large black pen and taught me all I ever needed to know about my craft. I wish I still had the piece - it deserves to be framed, editorial corrections and all - but I can remember pretty well how it looked when he had finished with it. Here’s an example:

(note: this is before the edit marks indicated on King’s original copy)

Last night, in the well-loved gymnasium of Lisbon High School, partisans and Jay Hills fans alike were stunned by an athletic performance unequaled in school history: Bob Ransom, known as “Bullet” Bob for both his size and accuracy, scored thirty-seven points. He did it with grace and speed … and he did it with an odd courtesy as well, committing only two personal fouls in his knight-like quest for a record which has eluded Lisbon thinclads since 1953….

(after edit marks)

Last night, in the Lisbon High School gymnasium, partisans and Jay Hills fans alike were stunned by an athletic performance unequaled in school history: Bob Ransom scored thirty-seven points. He did it with grace and speed … and he did it with an odd courtesy as well, committing only two personal fouls in his quest for a record which has eluded Lisbon’s basketball team since 1953….

When Gould finished marking up my copy in the manner I have indicated above, he looked up and must have seen something on my face. I think he must have thought it was horror, but it was not: it was revelation.

“I only took out the bad parts, you know,” he said. “Most of it’s pretty good.”

“I know,” I said, meaning both things: yes, most of it was good, and yes, he had only taken out the bad parts. “I won’t do it again.”

“If that’s true,” he said, “you’ll never have to work again. You can do this for a living.” Then he threw back his head and laughed.

And he was right; I am doing this for a living, and as long as I can keep on, I don’t expect ever to have to work again.



III. The Second Introduction

All of what follows has been said before. If you are interested enough in writing to be a purchaser of this magazine, you will have either heard or read all (or almost all) of it before. Thousands of writing courses are taught across the United States each year; seminars are convened; guest lecturers talk, then answer questions, then drink as many gin and tonics as their expense-fees will allow, and it all boils down to what follows.

I am going to tell you these things again because often people will only listen - really listen - to someone who makes a lot of money doing the thing he’s talking about. This is sad but true. And I told you the story above not to make myself sound like a character out of a Horatio Alger novel but to make a point: I saw, I listened, and I learned. Until that day in John Gould’s little office, I had been writing first drafts of stories which might run 2,500 words. The second drafts were apt to run 3,300 words. Following that day, my 2,500-word first drafts became 2,200-word second drafts. And two years after that, I sold the first one.

So here it is, with all the bark stripped off. It’ll take ten minutes to read, and you can apply it right away…if you listen.



IV. Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully

1.  BE TALENTED
This, of course, is the killer.  What is talent?  I can hear someone shouting, and here we are, ready to get into a discussion right up there with “what is the meaning of life?” for weighty pronouncements and total uselessness.  For the purposes of the beginning writer, talent may as well be defined as eventual success - publication and money.  If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.

Now some of you are really hollering.  Some of you are calling me one crass money-fixated creep.  And some of you are calling me bad names.  Are you calling Harold Robbins talented?  someone in one of the Great English Departments of America is screeching.  V.C. Andrews?  Theodore Dreiser?  Or what about you, you dyslexic moron?

Nonsense.  Worse than nonsense, off the subject.  We’re not talking about good or bad here.  I’m interested in telling you how to get your stuff published, not in critical judgments of who’s good or bad.  As a rule the critical judgments come after the check’s been spent, anyway.  I have my own opinions, but most times I keep them to myself.  People who are published steadily and are paid for what they are writing may be either saints or trollops, but they are clearly reaching a great many someones who want what they have.  Ergo, they are communicating.  Ergo, they are talented.  The biggest part of writing successfully is being talented, and in the context of marketing, the only bad writer is one who doesn’t get paid.  If you’re not talented, you won’t succeed.  And if you’re not succeeding, you should know when to quit.

When is that?  I don’t know.  It’s different for each writer.  Not after six rejection slips, certainly, nor after sixty.  But after six hundred?  Maybe.  After six thousand?  My friend, after six thousand pinks, it’s time you tried painting or computer programming.

Further, almost every aspiring writer knows when he is getting warmer - you start getting little jotted notes on your rejection slips, or personal letters…maybe a commiserating phone call.  It’s lonely out there in the cold, but there are encouraging voices…unless there is nothing in your words which warrants encouragement.  I think you owe it to yourself to skip as much of the self-illusion as possible.  If your eyes are open, you’ll know which way to go…or when to turn back.

2.  BE NEAT
Type.  Double-space.  Use a nice heavy white paper, never that erasable onion-skin stuff.  If you’ve marked up your manuscript a lot, do another draft.

3.  BE SELF-CRITICAL
If you haven’t marked up your manuscript a lot, you did a lazy job.  Only God gets things right the first time.  Don’t be a slob.

4.  REMOVE EVERY EXTRANEOUS WORD
You want to get up on a soapbox and preach?  Fine.  Get one and try your local park.  You want to write for money?  Get to the point.  And if you remove all the excess garbage and discover you can’t find the point, tear up what you wrote and start all over again…or try something new.

5.  NEVER LOOK AT A REFERENCE BOOK WHILE DOING A FIRST DRAFT You want to write a story?  Fine.  Put away your dictionary, your encyclopedias, your World Almanac, and your thesaurus.  Better yet, throw your thesaurus into the wastebasket.  The only things creepier than a thesaurus are those little paperbacks college students too lazy to read the assigned novels buy around exam time.  Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word.  There are no exceptions to this rule.  You think you might have misspelled a word?  O.K., so here is your choice: either look it up in the dictionary, thereby making sure you have it right - and breaking your train of thought and the writer’s trance in the bargain - or just spell it phonetically and correct it later.  Why not?  Did you think it was going to go somewhere?  And if you need to know the largest city in Brazil and you find you don’t have it in your head, why not write in Miami, or Cleveland?  You can check it…but laterWhen you sit down to write, write.  Don’t do anything else except go to the bathroom, and only do that if it absolutely cannot be put off.

6.  KNOW THE MARKETS
Only a dimwit would send a story about giant vampire bats surrounding a high school to McCall’s.  Only a dimwit would send a tender story about a mother and daughter making up their differences on Christmas Eve to Playboy…but people do it all the time.  I’m not exaggerating; I have seen such stories in the slush piles of the actual magazines.  If you write a good story, why send it out in an ignorant fashion?  Would you send your kid out in a snowstorm dressed in Bermuda shorts and a tank top?  If you like science fiction, read the magazines.  If you want to write confession stories, read the magazines.  And so on.  It isn’t just a matter of knowing what’s right for the present story; you can begin to catch on, after awhile, to overall rhythms, editorial likes and dislikes, a magazine’s entire slant.  Sometimes your reading can influence the next story, and create a sale.

7.  WRITE TO ENTERTAIN
Does this mean you can’t write “serious fiction”?  It does not.  Somewhere along the line pernicious critics have invested the American reading and writing public with the idea that entertaining fiction and serious ideas do not overlap.  This would have surprised Charles Dickens, not to mention Jane Austen, John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Bernard Malamud, and hundreds of others.  But your serious ideas must always serve your story, not the other way around.  I repeat: if you want to preach, get a soapbox.

8.  ASK YOURSELF FREQUENTLY, AM I HAVING FUN?”
The answer needn’t always be yes.  But if it’s always no, it’s time for a new project or a new career.

9.  HOW TO EVALUATE CRITICISM
Show your piece to a number of people - ten, let us say.  Listen carefully to what they tell you.  Smile and nod a lot.  Then review what was said very carefully.  If your critics are all telling you the same thing about some facet of your story - a plot twist that doesn’t work, a character who rings false, stilted narrative, or half a dozen other possibles - change that facet.  It doesn’t matter if you really liked that twist of that character; if a lot of people are telling you something is wrong with you piece, it is.  If seven or eight of them are hitting on that same thing, I’d still suggest changing it.  But if everyone - or even most everyone - is criticizing something different, you can safely disregard what all of them say.

10.  OBSERVE ALL RULES FOR PROPER SUBMISSION
Return postage, self-addressed envelope, all of that.

11.  AN AGENT?  FORGET IT.  FOR NOW
Agents get 10% of monies earned by their clients.  10% of nothing is nothing.  Agents also have to pay the rent.  Beginning writers do not contribute to that or any other necessity of life.  Flog your stories around yourself.  If you’ve done a novel, send around query letters to publishers, one by one, and follow up with sample chapters and/or the manuscript complete.  And remember Stephen King’s First Rule of Writers and Agents, learned by bitter personal experience: You don’t need one until you’re making enough for someone to steal…and if you’re making that much, you’ll be able to take your pick of good agents.

12.  IF IT’S BAD, KILL IT
When it comes to people, mercy killing is against the law.  When it comes to fiction, it is the law.



That’s everything you need to know.  And if you listened, you can write everything and anything you want.  Now I believe I will wish you a pleasant day and sign off.

My ten minutes are up.

AUs

Here are some aus, divided in different themes.

College themed

  1. I’m really passionate about this cause and I will give you this flier if I have to shove it down your throat
  2. My roommate’s boyfriend is staying over so can I please sleep on your floor
  3. We’re studying in the library and there are two people very obviously fucking in the stacks and we keep sharing embarrassed glances
  4. You peed on my car. You were drunk. I was in the car. There will be hell to pay
  5. My friend dragged me to this party and I just saw my ex quick make out with me
  6. It’s 3am, in the dead of winter, some motherfucker pulled/set off the fire alarm and I am being very vocal about how I’m gonna make that fucker pay
  7. I swear I’m wearing this Batman costume because of a dare
  8. Accidentally knocked on the wrong dorm room college au
  9. Heard a scream and thought you were getting killed but it was just a spider
  10. Somehow, we always end up sitting next to each other during the weekly gatherings to watch [Game of Thrones, SVU, Rupaul’s Drag Race, pick a show] in our dorm’s really good TV room 
  11. I took a bunch of free condoms from health services just because i could and they all fell out of my bag at once and now you’re staring at me weirdly

Awkward first meeting themed

  1. “This horrible umbrella won’t extend! Oh shit I just hit you in the stomach/crotch! I’m so sorry!”
  2. “I just tripped and fell face first into your crotch, god end my life now please.”
  3. “I drunkenly tried to fight you and knocked myself out but you were kind enough to take care of me till I woke up.”
  4. Trapped in a bank during a robbery 
  5. “I met you last night when you were drunkenly patting my dog in my backyard at 3 in the morning and when i asked you what the hell you were doing you slurred something about dogs being great and then you threw up on my feet and then fifteen minutes later you were passed out on my couch so that’s why you’re here right now also what the fuck is your name and why were you patting a dog in a stranger’s backyard in the middle of the night”
  6. “Last night was a haze for both of us and somehow we woke up hungover in a bed that isn’t either of ours and also neither of us recognize this apartment we should probably get out of here before someone calls the cops on us”
  7. “You found me hanging by my fingertips from your window and i don’t want to tell you i was trying to rob you but idk how else to explain this and i don’t want to go to jail and also you’re kind of cute we should make out when i’m not clinging onto your window ledge for my life”
  8. ‘you thought i was someone else and started making out with me at a club and you’re really hot so i just went with it and now we’re heading back to your place and idk how to break it to you’
  9. ‘we’re two thirds of the threesome we had last night and we’re walking awkwardly out of the last persons’s apartment together’
  10. ‘i’ve had a really awful day so i started kicking a car out of frustration and it turned out to be your car i’m so sorry’
  11. “I ordered pizza but the pizzeria got my order wrong so now I’m screaming at my really cute pizza delivery boy because I’m angry and very hungry”

Nobility themed

  1. “your country’s trying to take over/annex my country and you’re making it difficult to hate you because you’re so nice and attractive stop it”
  2. “we’ve been engaged to be married since we were three but this is the first time we’ve met and your portraits really don’t do you justice”
  3. “i’m a prince/ss and you’re a servant and we’re not supposed to hang out but we’re gonna fall in love anyways”

Opposites attract themed

  1. a hopeless romantic and a single-but-proud meet at a store on valentine’s day. the latter is buying valentine cards ironically, the former buying them sincerely in hopes of getting a date
  2. a scary-looking person who unintentionally makes kids cry and a daycare volunteer meet at a children-filled park
  3. rebellious teenager who’s failing all their classes is assigned a studious tutor
  4. really distinguished food critic and fast food chef
  5. a hopeless romantic and a horny beast are set up on a blind date

High school themed

  1. “We’re the only ones in detention”
  2. “I desperately need my books but my locker is blocked and you’re the only one in the hall”
  3. “Someone wrote I’m cute in the bathroom stall and your notes match the handwriting”
  4. “I twisted my ankle and you’re the only one here strong enough to carry me to the nurse’s office but we’re both really awkward”
  5. “We were both left out when everyone was picking partners and now we always choose each other when we have classes together”
  6. “I lent you my cool pencil months ago and you still use it”
  7. “I accidentally took your notebook thinking it was mine and you have really nice handwriting and cute doodles”
  8. “You started sitting by me at lunch because I’m alone at my table but we never talk to each other”
  9. “I was really hungry but had no money and you bought me lunch even though I don’t know you”
  10. “I left my phone number on the bathroom stall wall and you text me about your day and your frustrations for a month & it’s really nice and cute but I still don’t know who you are”
  11. “I fell asleep on your couch after a party but you didn’t complain and made breakfast for the both of us”
  12. sharing a textbook and leaving each other notes and answers in page corners
  13. found their phone number in a library book
  14. dancing partners
  15. younger siblings are best friends
  16. playing romantic interests in a play
  17. “yes i understand that it’s may and this classroom is stuffy but why are you taking your shirt off and why aren’t you in trouble (not that i mind)”
  18. “i can’t believe you dropped the frog we’re dissecting on tHE FLOOR WHAT THE FUCK”
  19. “i’m fightin this person and they shoved me into u im sooo sorry- oh hey you’re cute- oH MY GOD UR KICKIN ASS MARRY ME!!! PLEASE!!!!”
  20. “you asked me to prom by filling my locker with ping pong balls that say “prom?” on them but i tripped on one and smacked my head on a locker but thanks for taking me to the nurse!!! i still want to go with you!!”

Ridicously sentence themed

  1. “I’m going to need you to put on some underwear before you say anything else.“ 
  2. "Quick catch that cat it stole my wallet!”
  3. “I hope you know that my name is actually ________.”
  4. “That is the tenth demon summoning this week holy shit.”
  5. “Please put me down it’s just a sprained ankle" 
  6. “Why exactly do you need chloroform at 2AM?”
  7. “I’m like 75% this won’t explode on us.”
  8. “I understand the whole sleep talking thing but what I don’t understand is the princess dragon dream and why I’m in it.”
  9. “I’m sorry that I got way too into playing house and accidentally kissed you passionately.”

Height difference themed

  1. “I’m in a bookshop and I really need that book can you get it for me??? Wait you’ve read that book? let’s have an in depth conversation about it.”
  2. “You were trying to reach for a box of cereal and a whole shelf’s-worth of cereal boxes fell on you here let me help”
  3. “We’re both baristas and sometimes I have trouble reaching for things and I show up to work one day to find a personalized stool with hearts and my name on it i hATE YOU but also thanks”
  4. “You are very tall and I am very short so you run into me all the time and honestly this is getting ridiculous”
  5. I’m in art class and I just opened a cupboard to find a tiny person (you) squished inside and you just looked at and said “shh i’m hiding”
  6. “We’re on the bus and I’m really not trying to take up your space I’m sorry I just have rlly rlly long legs” 
  7. “You’re afraid that you’ll lose me in big crowds so you always hold my hand but now you just hold my hand when there’s only, like, five people around and I’m getting vry suspicious” 

Reincarnation themed

  1. I fell in love with you three lifetimes ago and I’ve been looking for you ever since but I’ve been starting to give up and my friend’s new crush has your eyes and oh god I’m not going to steal someone’s date just because I’m hoping you’re the person I met in a past life
  2. We keep reincarnating as people who speak different languages and it’s kind of pissing me off because I can never initially confirm if it’s you but at least I keep learning a bunch of cool new languages each lifetime

Mythical creatures themed

  1. “i’m a newly-turned werewolf without a pack and i can’t really control myself well on full moon nights yet and you keep finding me passed out naked on your lawn”
  2. “i got cursed and turned into an animal and taken to the shelter and ended up getting adopted by someone who is really hot OH NO”
  3. “i’m a history major and i keep getting into arguments with one of my classmates about things because they keep saying i’m wrong so i finally scream, ‘how would you know?!?’ and they’re like, ‘because i was THERE!’ and that’s how we all find out that there is a centuries-old vampire taking our British history class”

Funny meeting at a party themed

  1. “i was on my balcony and you started loudly quoting romeo and juliet at me”
  2. “spilled my drink down your shirt and then tried to drink it off you”
  3. “we had an impromptu rap duet in the middle of the party”
  4. “you kept asking everyone to play the cha cha slide then proceeded to pass out when the song started”
  5. “you keep shouting “THIS IS MY JAM” at every song that comes on i have a headache the size of nebraska you’re lucky you’re cute”
  6. “whenever you saw me you’d shout ‘WHOOOOOOOOO’ really loudly and then do finger guns at me before walking off to god knows where”
  7. “you thought I was your friend and pulled me up on the table to dance with you now you’re shirtless and grinding on me”
  8. “you got up to the mic and started singing and holy shit you’re really good???”
  9. “you’re really bad at beer pong but you do this really cute dance before you throw the ball so I’m letting you stay on my team”
  10. “our mutual friend dared the two of us to chug a whole pint of beer and I’m not going to let you beat me”
  11. “we both grabbed for the last bottle of the good beer and i’m not saying we’re going to fight for it but we are”

Competitive themed

  1. we’re both ‘team leaders’ at a summer camp for little people and you may be hot but goddammit my collection of twelve-year-olds are going to beat yours into the dust
  2. I used to be the best baker in the neighbourhood but then you showed up at Mrs Appleby’s 80th birthday with a stack of brownies which almost gave me an orgasm my honour is at stake and I’m going all out for the next event
  3. a mutual friend invited us to their laser tag party and we’re the last two alive on opposite teams and goddammit if I’m going down you’re going down with me
  4. you’re going to be at the halloween party and you’ve won best costume for the past three years but this year I am wearing the best costume ever if you defeat me I will eat my - wait you actually look really cute when did you turn hot what the fuck um
  5. we’re always making stupid bets like 'bet you can’t drink this whole bottle of BBQ sauce’ but then you did and now you’re sick and I feel really bad here let me look after you
  6. did you actually just blue shell me on our date you fucker

“We’re bad at dating” themed

  1. I can’t tell whether this is a date because you asked to see a movie but I’m still not sure you’re queer, and I’m toeing the line because maybe you’re just trying to make friends
  2. I decided to flip a coin about every decision in my life for a week and that’s how we ended up on a date
  3. We’re both meant to be going on blind dates with other people but we sat down at the wrong table and got our hopes up
  4. We had one really bad date and never spoke again and now our friends have set us up on a blind date
  5. We’re going on a blind date - but wait a moment, aren’t you that went down on me in a back alley behind a club year ago? … what do you mean “which one”?
  6. You’re my waiter and I’m on a really crappy date with an asshole
Every Song on Taylor Swift’s reputation

As analyzed by Time Magazine

1. “…Ready For It?”: Starting things off with a thumping bass line and rallying cry, “…Ready For It?” also offers one of Swift’s prettiest melodies. “In the middle of the night, in my dreams, you should see the things we do,” she sings sweetly before switching into her new-era rap-singing. “He can be my jailer, Burton to this Taylor,” she insists, name-checking a famous — and drama-filled — pairing, and setting the scene for the rest of the album’s investigation of the perils of stardom.

2. “End Game” (featuring Ed Sheeran and Future): Swift tapped her good friend Sheeran for this slow-jam-style track, a self-reflective — and self-aware — plea to both the listener and a lover. “I wanna be your end game,” Swift sings off the top, allowing in a little vulnerability — before jumping into a rap-sung chorus. “Big reputation, you and me we got big reputations,” she chants, recognizing the baggage that her stardom brings (and name-checking the album’s title, of course). Of-the-moment rapper Future of “Mask Off” success adds in a slick verse, sticking to the love-against-the-odds theme. Swift goes on to sing she doesn’t want to be an “ex-love” and that she isn’t into the drama; it’s just her burden to bear. This is peak Swift: emotionally open, but ready and willing to have some fun with the hype around her own persona. Sheeran’s contribution comes in the form of another rap-sung verse in the same vein, seeming to reference his own relationship and the pitfalls that fame has placed in his path to love. His advice? Ignore the rumors.

3. “I Did Something Bad”: Swift knows that her critics have strong opinions about her; after all, the album is called Reputation. And in the bombastic “I Did Something Bad,” she appears to address some of the narratives that have surrounded her. “I never trust a narcissist, but they love me / So I play them like a violin, and I make it look oh so easy,” she opens this one over a sharp string pluck. “If a man talks s–t then I owe him nothing.” Here is new-era Swift: holding her head high, unapologetic and fiercely protective of her own success. Then, a funky dubstep drop brings shades of her mega-hit “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” into the mix. Heavily electronically manipulated, and punctuated with a strong beat, it’s a banger of a track — and her defiant response to her detractors. “I never trust a playboy, but they love me,” she insists, stating matter of-factly that it’s best to “leave before you get left,” and hinting that maybe her splashy former relationships weren’t all they might have seemed. And then there’s the kicker: “They’re burning all the witches, even if you aren’t one,” she croons on an auto-tuned bridge. “Go ahead and light me up.” Of all the quotable lines in Swift’s oeuvre, this one is right up there at the top for its blazing imagery.

4. “Don’t Blame Me”: If you’re a fan of Avicii or Kygo’s brand of un-rushed atmospheric electro-pop, you might like the rich, vibey notes Swift brings together in “Don’t Blame Me,” a moody, dark song that starts out swinging and pretty, and builds into a gospel-backed EDM anthem. “Don’t blame me, love made me crazy / if it doesn’t you ain’t doin’ it right,” she sings emphatically. “Lord save me, my drug is my baby, I be using for the rest of my life.” Swift has endured criticism for her relationships: the fact that she’s in them, the fact that she sings about them. “Don’t Blame Me” could be a clapback to that criticism, reminding listeners that the heart simply wants what it wants, as her friend Selena Gomez once said.

5. “Delicate”: Swift is, appropriately enough, at her most fragile on “Delicate.” Refreshingly honest, it’s a melodic electro-ballad with a resonant refrain. “My reputation’s never been worse so, you must like me for me,” she muses, her voice a light wisp, in a wry nod to her year in the spotlight before breaking down her insecurities: “Is it cool that I said all that? Is it too soon to do this yet?” Like pretty much anyone dealing with a new crush, Swift sings of moments of doubt. Perhaps even superstars have their sore spots. She couches this sweetly uncertain song in snippets of dates — at a dive bar, in her apartment — but keeps it about her circular internal monologue, always questioning just how much her feelings are being reciprocated.

6. “Look What You Made Me Do”: Swift’s lead single — and immediate chart-topper following its release — “LWYMMD” was a shocking reintroduction to the Swift of Reputation: hard, unapologetic, focused on retribution. Step aside, “Bad Blood,” this song is much more cutting. “I’ve got a list of names, and yours is in red, underlined,” she reminded her haters over a Right Said Fred sample. The propulsive beat and insistence that the old Taylor was “dead” only sharpened her point.

7. “So It Goes…”: Here, she switches things back to romance, reflecting on just how a new love interest might help her out of her fixations: “you make everyone disappear,” she explains in the moody, murky opening segment, which opens into a trap-lite chorus about getting caught up in the moment (and, of course, leaving some signature lipstick “on your face”). But for life with Swift, that’s just how it goes. “I’m yours to keep, and yours to lose. You know I’m not a bad girl, but I’ll do bad things with you,” she adds with a wink; this version of Swift has made a marked departure from her squeaky-clean roots as America’s Nashville sweetheart.

8. “Gorgeous”: Yes, that’s Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds’s baby daughter James opening up “Gorgeous” with a gurgle. But the rest of the song deals with adult topics. Over a bubbling, chime-like beat, Swift sings about the irresistible power of attraction — even when it’s not the best idea. “You’re so gorgeous, it actually hurts,” she sings with frustration. “There’s nothing I hate more than what I can’t have.” Despondent, she talks of heading home to hang out with her cats — and then, with a wink, invites her object of attention to join her.

9. “Getaway Car”: Told as a dramatic story of a heist and an ill-fated love adventure over shimmering 80s-style production, “Getaway Car” is one of Swift’s most metaphor-driven tracks on the album. “We never had a shotgun shot in the dark,” she sings with a rebellious twang. “Nothing good starts in a getaway car.” Swift’s has often had its fair share of melodrama; remember “Into the Woods”? In “Getaway Car,” though, she calls herself a “traitor” who turns in her erstwhile partner in crime. Looks like Swift might be willing to flirt with the dark side, but she’s no good at following through with crimes — of the legal kind, or of the heart. Instead, she says, she takes the keys and leaves the guy stranded at a motel. It’s no happy ending, but it’s a reminder that Swift isn’t afraid to assert her independence.

10. “King of My Heart”: Taylor Swift has always been good at love songs. In “King of My Heart” she hits her sweet spot, over a synth-heavy track and strategic auto-tune assist. “I’m perfectly fine, I live on my own, I made up my mind I’m better off bein’ alone,” she starts off. But it doesn’t stay that way for long; after meeting a (evidently non-American) paramour who pursues her, the story (and the song) go straight into the romance. “You’re the one I have been waiting for,” she gushes, dissing some other guys with “their fancy cars” who didn’t quite measure up to this new interest. And yes, the character in the title is indeed the king of her heart — and body, and soul.

11. “Dancing With Our Hands Tied”: Although it starts off as a down-tempo, melancholy kind of tune, “Dancing With Our Hands Tied” adds in Swift’s now-rote trap-lite drop to amp up the drama on this will-we-won’t-we tale of star-crossed lovers separated by an unkind fate. “I had a bad feeling,” she suggests about the romantic interest, but she goes on to dance with him anyway; some chemistry just can’t be denied.

12. “Dress”: “I only bought this dress so you could take it off,” Swift sings slyly on “Dress,” her most overtly sexual work yet. She wants her lover to carve his name into her bedpost; her hands shake in anticipation. A breathy, synth-y track with lots of whispery vocals, Swift is unequivocal about her interest in this person as much more than a friend. “Made your mark on me; a golden tattoo,” she sings cryptically. It’s a departure from her usually PG approach to love songs, emblematic of a Swift who’s claiming her maturity more than ever.

13. “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”: Kicking things off with a siren sound, Swift strips it back to a stomping call-out of the haters, a giddy sister of sorts to dark lead single “Look What You Made Me Do.” “Why’d you have to rain on my parade?” she asks, her voice petulant, sneering with humor and attitude. “This is why we can’t have nice things, darling: because you break them, I have to take them away.” When she tries to go diplomatic — “forgiveness is a nice thing to do” goes one line, sung in an angelic lilt — she breaks the fourth wall with a burst of sharp laughter. Swift is no longer willing to “Shake It Off,” as she once tried to do.

14. “Call It What You Want”: Maybe the most by-the-book Swift song on Reputation, “Call It What You Want” is a slow-burning meditation on the transformative power of relationships, filled with lyrical puns: “All the liars are calling me one,” she sighs at one point. “All my flowers grew back as thorns.” But this is still a love letter, and a reminder that Swift has moved on from the fray around her so-called “reputation.” “My baby’s fly like a jetstream, high above the whole scene,” she sings proudly, making it clear that the baby in question has taken her along for the ride.

15. “New Year’s Day”: Her one acoustic piano ballad on the album, “New Year’s Day” is a tender and intimate love song. The snapshots are sweet and evocative: glitter on the floor after a party, candle wax and polaroids on the hardwood floor, holding hands in the backseat of a taxi. “Hold on to the memories,” she repeats in the chorus, “and I will hold on to you.” Nostalgic for the moment even as it’s happening, it’s a lovely, effecting closer, letting Swift’s voice and earnest message shine without the complications of over-production. She may get her kicks with big pop anthems, but vulnerable ballads like this one are just as much a part of her musical DNA.

Lifted from Time Magazine

So I finally went through omgeverythingplease and here are things that I didn’t know
  • Bitty is OBSESSED with food. OBSESSED.
  • Boy has a *problem*
  • Like I know we like to headcanon that Bitty goes into some sort of media, but he’s more likely to become a food critic. Basically he’s more into the “baking” part of “baking vlog” than the “vlog” part.
  • Holster is a grumpy messy bitch.
  • For real, the team seriously debated who was grumpier: Jack or Holster
  • (for like, a hot second, before the answer became obvious)
  • (It’s Jack. Jack is the grumpiest)
  • Ransom and Bitty are very close friends. Close enough that Bitty chirps Holster that he’s being replaced via tweet.
  • Ransom and Bitty get PSLs from “ ‘Bucks”.
  • That is a quote. Eric Richard Bittle has called Starbucks, ‘Bucks.
  • (I bet he calls Target, Tar-zhay too)
  • This one was a bit more analytical: we found out about Jack coaching peewee via Bitty’s twitter
  • Bitty is the one who tells us that the Jack says the kids call him “Coach Z”
  • Because Bitty is the one who typed out the tweet, if the kids called Jack “Coach Zed”, he would have spelled out “Zed.”
  • Therefore we can assume that the kids called Jack “Coach Zee” and not “Coach Zed”
  • However this revelation by Jack was immediately followed by a debate over Zee vs. Zed. So who really knows?
  • I still don’t know how either of them pronounces “pecan”
  • More after the cut because this is getting long

Keep reading

Tantalizing

Originally posted by jikookfantasy

Tantalizing: 01 02 03 04 05 06 07
Ship: Jungkook | Reader
Description: Back in high school, you were nothing more than a nerd Jungkook wanted to deflower, to get a good fuck from. When he sees you at the club, though, things have changed drastically, and his dominance starts to teeter on the edge.
Warning: Cumplay, Degrading Names, Angst, Intercourse, Oral, Orgasm Denial, Thigh Riding
Word Count: 5,965

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Planets in Retrograde

What impact do they have in our natal chart?

It isn’t unusual for a person to have at least one retrograde planet in their chart.

Planets in retrograde are usually compared to a mirror. Their energy is reflected right back at us, interiorized and expressed backwards. Having a planet in retrograde forces you dive deeper into it’s energy while being slightly fearful of it at the same time. Making it a constant struggle between acting or giving in to the fear.

For example, people with Jupiter in retrograde are fearful of expansion and taking risks, so instead, they retreat into their minds, expanding themselves in a mental and spiritual level.

Whenever you are about to express the energies of the planet, you refrain yourself, many times not doing it, whether it is out of fear or just the sensation of just not being able to do it. For example, if your mars is retrograde, you hesitate before expressing anger and assertion, usually ending up in an outburst after containing yourself for a certain amount of time.

Also, many times when a planet is in retrograde, it’s because things done to you as a child. For example, a person with mercury retrograde may have been told they weren’t smart enough, or forced to think in a certain way, paying no attention to what their true opinions may have been.

Do they affect aspects?

Yeah, in some way they do since the planet’s energy is redirected, causes confusion and changes the way aspects are expressed.

For example: saturn in a challenging aspect to mars (conjunction, square, opposition) makes people be (or believe to be) usually critiziced on everything they do, but when saturn is in retrograde, it might change it in the sense that they aren’t critiziced constantly by others but by themselves. It makes very self critical and perfectionist people and in the worst case scenario they can become unsatisfied with everything they do.

Are they karmic?

Yup. They tend to emphasize the lessons we didn’t learn in past lives and force us to focus on them by making them more reflexive. Some people carry past lives memories from the planets they have retrograde in their charts.

Retrograde Individuals

What makes a retrograde individual?

1. 3 or more retrogrades on the natal chart

2. Any personal planet in retrograde

3. One or more retrograde planets near the ascendant (1st house) or midheaven (10th house)

How does it affect the native?

It makes very introspective people, natives may be thinkers more than a doers. It’s good because they are very cautious and don’t rush into things, but can also lose some great oportunities and be prone to overthinking.

They may be very melancholic, since they are usually reminiscing the past.

Retrograde Planets

Mercury: this natives may fear telling people what they think, or even speaking at all! They have a very unique way of seeing things, and are very innovative. If you have this, you probably give a lot of thought to the most mundane tasks and may have a very quick wit, even if they don’t say anything. If it’s afflicted, you may have had problems speaking, like a lisp, for example.

Art is a great outlet for mercury retrograde people.

Venus: expressing love is hard for them, they hesitate to the point of overthinking before showing affection and there may be an inner desire and fear of commitment. Their minds are constantly imagining and creating (even if subconsciously) but they can’t take it to paper. They may feel they weren’t loved as children or that they were rejected when they tried to be affectionate.

This natives love very deeply, but they internalize it, originating a lot of pain.

Mars: they have a very hard time expressing their anger, or even repress it to the point of exploding. Having low energy is very common with this planet in retrograde, as well as a lack of ambition or drive to get what they want. Sex may have been taboo as children, leading to a strong difficulty to express a healthy sexuality. People with this need to be attentive not to forget to take care of their bodies. There’s a tendency to blow things out of proportion.

They may have grown up in a household where anger wasn’t well taken or were taught to be very pássive.

Jupiter: very philosophical and prone to procastinating, they keep thinking and planning but their intentions never come to shore. Optimism and beliefs are hard for them to express, and there’s a constant confusion with faith. They may have been disappointed by religion from a very young age, leading to resent and holding grudges towards God/church/etc.  

There is a discontent with life that’s held in the subconscious. Having this planet in retrograde is a great opportunity to expand spiritually.

Saturn: these people feel very limited and disapponted on life, there’s a constant sensation of  being trapped and just like with mars, lack ambition. They are very controlled, to the point of self-destruction, and can have a very bad image of themselves. Natives are talented and like creating things from scratch.

It makes serious and responsible people. Anything that requires self-discipline and patience is a good activity for saturn retrograde.

Uranus: natives have a tough time showing their weird side to the world, but feel somehow alienated from everyone else. They may dislike being around crowds and somehow desire to be unique, as paradoxical as it may be. It’s common to lack individuality and be influentiable by others. There’s a need to be original and experience new things, and they seek it in an unconventional manner, to the point of being chaotic in the old uranian fashion. Uranus retrograde has an internal despise towards societal norms. 

As a child you could have been made believe that you were strange in a bad way, prompting you to try to be as common as possible.

Neptune: having this planet in retrograde makes very intuitive and spiritual people, that are in touch with their inner selves.  It leads them to dissociate from reality and can even take them to the point of delusion. They bury their dreams deep within themselves, and rarely share them with anyone, maybe their parents dissed out their dreams since they were little, making them believe they were impossible to achieve. 

Daydreaming is a common thing among this people, and even with their great creativity, is very difficult for them to express it. 

Pluto: this is a very strong retrograde, it gives a great desire for control, as well as deeply kept secrets. Natives have learned since a very young age not to trust anyone, and carry that paranoia and suspicion everywhere they go, making them really good at seeing through people’s lies. They experiment a constant transformation of the inner self, becoming who they need to be in order to survive. Great resilience. May use sexuality as a weapon and love power games.  

Prone to psychic abilities.

Hey guys, hope this helped u understand retrograde planets a little more! It’s a pretty complicated theme, but I like it very much.

How I see kpop groups new version

Exo: shimmie shimmie kokobop; high af mv; every other song on the album is a bop; i have no idea how this album/mv has a connection to the war; awful hairstyles; too many vibrant colors; what’s going on with lay; still not enough sehun lines

Bts: not today happened; love yourself is happening; seriously who can keep up with all those insane theories; every western artist want to collaborate with them; gyeonwo chong jojun balsa; still waiting for them jin lines and screentime; let jhope hold another v live without asking for other members

Ikon: alright since my earlier post ikon and winner totally switched positions; ikon where? somewhere in the basement; give them proper promotion; no more badass hiphop comebacks pls; i miss the team b era; i feel like all their predebut tracks were better; b-day is alright; btw what the hell are these new stage names; EVERYONE I LOVE IKON DON’T HATE ME

Got7: all their songs feel like a mess musically; give them songs that showcase their talents; something like the latest jj project release; bitch we had to wait 5 years for that jjp masterpiece; i honestly like trilogies but not got7’s; why y’all think jackson’s gonna leave got7; hard carry by monsta x is still hilarious

Winner: so yg rememberd they exist; i absolutely love their newer side (really really, island); thank you for not having a summer ballad; have you people realized what a gem jinwoo’s voice is; happy for namtae for his new band; sorry for namtae for struggling with mental illness; leave the boy alone don’t hate him for no reason; dude is really really an artist

Day6: thank you for spoiling us with good music every month; although i prefer their debut era, i think this is their true sound; but songs sound a bit same; still underappreciated; miss their buskings; thought jae is gonna take a longer twitter hiatus but gladly no; miss his hashtags; stop bullying wonpil 2k17; still no lines for dowoon

Astro: baby was not my style; but eunwoo is still a living god; stop growing sanha 2k17; still waiting for a more mature concept; mature, not sexy, no need to reveal anything; although they did it already

Seventeen: maaan their al1 album once again is a masterpiece; so mature; love the hiphop units new sound; the choreo dang; did you pay attention to joshua’s part? that dance is wow; minimal rap i like it; wainting for european dates within their world tour; hoshi rocked the orange hair; and woozi the red; too much hair damage

Vixx: they are one of my bias groups but not gonna lie, i hate shangri la; although a unique concept; use airconditioners or fans or whatever when they’re performing, no more fainting pls; but the lr comeback is here; such a 180 turn from beautiful liar; aesthetic mv; listen to beautiful night(?) it’s amazing; lr is amazing

Shinee: nothing new for them; thought they were one of the few groups without scandals; guess what i was wrong; take care onew; they need a comeback asap

Infinite: nothing since last october; hoya pls sign that contract ir i’m gonna flip tables; infinite with a unique sound and choreography; the choreo needs hoya; don’t want them to enter military, no, not yet; pls have an ot7 comeback

Monsta x: beautiful happened, shine forever happened BUT WHERE IN DAFUQ IS THEIR FIRST WIN????; a lipton commercial summer bop happened; tho i have no idea what does the title have to do with the song; from zero happened, i NEED a studio version; hyungwonho happened; monsta x in hungary didn’t happen; monsta x ray is happening, throw an oscar at them for that drama; i need more hyungwon and siwoo; starship why releasing that dating statement when noone knew anything; let them rest; hyungwon is officially a viral meme; mosta x still happens, hyungKwon also happens

Bigbang: gd’s solo is perfect; another scandal and shit; military service; that’s it

B.A.P: the cover of their latest japanese album is gorgeous; what are those awful hairstyles once again; i was too scared to check out yongguk’s solo; b.a.p in hungary happened; i wasn’t there; i love daehyun’s voice; hope zelo is not growing anymore

Block B: i’m not sure what’s up with them; but block b in hungary happened; without po; and i wasn’t there; miss their older stuff; i want more bastarz; still perverts; still business partners

NCT: not sure where nct 127 is going; cherry bomb was awful, a real mess; if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands is still stuck in my head; wardrobe and hairstyle were better this time; i love nct dream; the chorus from we young is so familiar; sounds like the theme song in the pc game insaniquarium; miss jaemin; where’s nct u; and hansol; give love to doyoung; let mark rest for god’s sake

Pentagon: critical beauty was so weird yet visually satisfying; but this album was my least favourite from them;  that wooseok and e’dawn pairing tho; missed yanan; why is there that right before promotions a member is getting injured; triple h happend for good; e'dawn is hot with a lot of tattos; never and energetic are bops; thank you hui

Btob: still so weird; everyone going solo; ballads are in the past bops are back; movie was not my style

Highlight: yaaay they have a new name; i legit thought it’d be bea5t; rookies yet swiping up them music show trophies; sometimes people still call them beast; i was hoping the fandom name was gonna be highlighters

Super Junior: i was anticipating their autumn comeback; but no sungmin; thank you k-„fans”; i’m so happy d&e are back from the military; please love the china line

Nu’est: my babies they are finally getting the spotlight they deserved since their debut; thought pd101 was not gonna do justice for them but hell it did; best choice ever; minhyun finally got a first win; soon is gonna nu’est w; love the meaning behind w; still fucking salty the nation’s producers forgot about jonghyun in the last minute

Ftisland: the more i know them the more i don’t wanna know them; love their freedom in everything-wise; the biggest perverts omg; why were y’all sleeping on wind when it was so important for them and it’s beautiful; sometimes i feel like they want to prove that they are relevant; and they are; 4757857+ years more together pls; WHY DID I SAY PUPPY WAS BAD IT’S A FUCKIN’ BOMB; ftisland in hungary is happening AND I’M FUCKING GONNA BE THERE; jaejin i’m coming

Cnblue: i want to like their korean music but I don’t; last time i forgot they’re giants; yonghwa solo

SF9: 2 comebacks within 2(?) months; bururengnya; the jungle game choreo is jawdropping but it’s not fit for a choreo; easy love was wow; kinda sounds like old kpop; too many taeyang lines; where are jaeyoon’s

KNK: sun moon star was meh; rain is also not my favourite but the mv is wonderful; how to be that extra as they are

2pm: i’m not sure what’s happening with them rn

U-kiss: i’m not sure also; kevin left the group

B1A4: sorry but still not sure

Teen top: god dammit love is was pure perfection; it totally gave me old kpop vibes; the dance was on point as expected; like the footwork once again; welcome back teen top

Wanna one: ongniel, winkdeep; jinhwi; jaehwan x minhyun etc, so many ships; wanna one go is hilarious; sungwoons grandfather is amazing; teach jaehwan how to clean; that psychotic laugh tho; i’m still burn it up team; weekly idol with them is… a mess; breaking tv show rating records; god how many music show wins they have already; there is so much more but it’s not a how I see wanna one post

Boyfriend: they just had a korean release; was it a comeback or what; i do love monsta with all my heart but boyfriend still exists if anyone needs a reminder; their evolution throughout the years is insane; they own a special place in my heart cuz they were the group who made me fall in love with kpop; so thank you boyfriend, thank you i yah, thank you hungary, thank you music channel

N.flying: i don’t know much about them, but the real is a great song; go check it out now; the mv is hilarious; i don’t recall whether i ever laughed at a music video; that plot twist omg; jang moonbok as a mermaid; clap clap; if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands


So I just decided to make another ‘How I see kpop groups’ with the same groups, but it’s an updated version. I mean no harm with any of my statements and I think this time I was pretty positive (with a little sarcasm). Last time a I got a few hate comments about my Ikon statements so yeah. I love them. And this time I wasn’t shameless with group promo. I have a link to every song I mentioned so if you don’t know what/who I’m talking about then click the links. Hope it’s as fun as last time. And sorry if I was biased with some groups. Enjoy! :3

A dog person - Young!Sirius x Reader

Warnings : nope, maybe the GIF that personally makes me weak

Words : 2.8k

Request : yes

Note : it’s the imagine that I wrote a few days ago and that was deleted somehow, I’m sharing it again now. I know some people had the same request but anywayyyyy (thank you to the ppl who told me to post it again btw❣️). I just imagined a Patronus for Pettigrew, don’t mind it if it bothers you. I loved this request and got a bit carried away, it was just so damn cute.


Originally posted by bentbarnes


Even at Hogwarts everybody hated monday mornings, as they symbolized the end of the weekend, the return in class and especially, implied a lot of exhaustion. In fact, everybody except the 6th years, because to them Monday morning meant Defense Against the Dark Arts. Here you were, at your usual seat next to the wall on the first row. The classroom 3C had probably the biggest windows out of all the Turris Magnus, unfortunately you were too short to observe the view -everybody was- but you still tried to take a look everytime. You were on tip-toes, taking advantage of the fact that your teacher had not yet arrived to make another attempt.


« You know Y/N, I really enjoy the view you’re offering me when you stand up like this in front of me, but I think you should just sit down as our dear Professor is here. » whispered Sirius behind you. Your cheeks turner red as you did what he said, sighing in exasperation and trying to focus on the tall man standing in front of the class. Sirius knew his little seduction game made you feel a bit flustered and that was exactly why he liked doing it so much, he didn’t want you to be uncomfortable, he was only joking and you knew it. Out of the four Marauders, you spent most of your time with him or Remus, who actually introduced you to the others after meeting you at the library.


« Today I will try, and please notice that I said try, to teach you something that I know most of you have been waiting for. » said your teacher solanemly, holding his hands together behind his back. « The majority of witches and wizards are not able to produce it for it requires patience, concentration and determination. You probably guessed it already, I am talking about the Patronus charm, one of the most powerful defensive charms that exist.»


Immediatly, everybody started to whisper enthousiasticly to their neighbors, and even Lily who usually was the definition of the model student seemed hysteric. You smiled when you saw her, her dazzling hair flying in the air while she turned around towards the boys, already beginning to discuss on the shape their patronus would take. James had already managed to produce one and it was a deer just like his animagus. He could be turbulent, sometimes even insolent, but nobody could deny that he was an incredibly talented wizard just like Remus who was sitting next to him. Strangely, he stayed away from the general euphoria which spread in the class, playing almost nervously with his hands. You frowned, ready to ask him what was going on when your teacher knocked two times on the desk with his fists. The noises stopped and everybody looked at him once again.


« To produce a Patronus, it is necessary to concentrate on your most beautiful memory, and only this one. Find the memory that warms your heart the most and say clearly, wand in hand : expecto patronum. » Suddenly, a silver eagle flew from his hand and in the classroom. It was both beautiful and captivating. « This requires training, today we shall satisfy us with approaching the theoretical side of it and in the next class, I hope that you will be ready. Just know that it is difficult to obtain a corporeal patronus, and that its purpose is not to be beautiful, but to protect you from Dementors. Whether it is a rat, cat or lion, its power will be the same : the partonus is a shield, a messenger and a protector. »


He kept speaking during the whole following hour, adding that even if the animal shape the Patronus took did not define its strenght, it could mean something important for the wizard. Leaving the class everybody had only an idea in head : discover what their patronus was. The four boys, Lily and you had mutually decided to train together by the lake this afternoon. But right now you were going to eat, Sirius and James led the group speaking loudly and walking way too fast. Behind and standing by your side, Lily seemed to explain to Peter the details he had not understood. You left them silently to join Remus who walked at the back, alone, head low and dragging his feet. He raised his head when he saw you were waiting for him and turned the gentle smile you were giving him back to you. Interlacing your arm in his, you jumped at the opportunity to be alone with him to ask him what was wrong. Remus sighed, he seemed embarrassed and you strated to worry. He looked around to be sure no one was listening and then he bent a little towards you.


« I’m afraid my corporeal Patronus gives too much away, if you know what I mean. I already tried with James and it almost worked, and I swear I saw a long hairy tail before the light went off. » He whispered, biting his lip « With you guys it doesn’t matter, but if anyone else sees it… » He didn’t finish his sentence but you knew what he meant. Remus had always suffered because of his lycantropia, his parents and him had a nomadic life before he came to Hogwarts thanks to Dumbledore. Everytime someone started to be suspicious, they left and the little Remus never got to make friends. Even now that he had friends, really good ones, he was still afraid someone would found out. Taking his hand in yours, you squeezed it gently so he knew he wasn’t alone and you were here for him.


« We can practice alone another day if you want to be sure, you don’t have to do it today if you don’t want to. »

« I think that’s a good idea, thank you Y/N. »



Around 4pm, you sat in the green grass which lined the lake, between Sirius and Peter who seemed strangely concentrated into tearing away the petals of a flower one by one. You turned around towards Sirius who was already looking at you. You felt your cheeks burn a little when he did not look away which made him laugh, revealing his white teeth and his dimples.  He was a handsome young man, really, and you never knew if you just found him attracive or if it was something more. Anyway, you came back to reality when James showed up, back from his Quidditch session. A proud smile could be seen on his face as per usual, and it grew even bigger when a bunch of Gryffindor girls passing by stared at him like he was a piece of art, or a piece of meat. It always made Sirius giggle but Lily just rolled her eyes every single time.


« Did you mess your hair up on purpose again just so you can look like some Quidditch rock star ? » suggested Remus, looking quite amused. 

« You’ll be authorized to criticize my hair when your furry little problem will be solved, Moony chéri. » teased James, winking before he spoke again while turning around « Let’s get started folks, why don’t we let the Lilliputian try first. »


Eveybody laughed, James flirting with Lily was the funniest thing ever, especially when he came up with these strange nicknames but you had to admit that for once it wasn’t so bad. She stood up, pointing her wand towards him which caused him to slightly move to the side.


« In fact I’m two months older than you Potter, show me some respect. » Remus, Peter and Sirius giggled while James seemed outraged, but before he could come back with anything Lily exclaimed, her wand pointing to the sky « Expecto patronum ! »


You held your breath just like the others while slowly but very clearly, from the tip of her wand, a bright silvery light started to burst before fading out. She tried again multiple times with James giving her advices and finally, a tall and gracious doe was running in the air, following the rythm of Lily’s laugh. Her green eyes were wide opened, she seemed proud and happier than ever. You all applauded, Peter even took a bow.


« It’s strange, isn’t it ? Your patronus is a doe and Potter’s one is a deer. If it isn’t a sign, I don’t know what it is. » teased Sirius, winking to Lily. Her cheeks turned bright red before she exlaimed « Simple coincidence, that won’t make me go out with you any sooner Potter. »


Finally you formed little groups, James and Lily stayed together, Sirius was with Peter and Remus with you. This way, the others didn’t pay attention to the fact that Moony wasn’t really trying to practice and he was pleased about it. You tried to remember all the informations your teacher gave you this morning, and took a deep breath. You hoped it would work but as Lily said again and again, it was a difficult spell and it was normal if you didn’t succeed on your first tries. For what felt like an hour you persisted, repeating the two little words again and again, sometimes managing to produce a little shiny light at the end of your wand. But no animal, nothing. Frustrated you sighed noisily, which caught the attention of Remus, Sirius and Peter. The two others seemed too busy arguing about who-knows-what, and anyway they did not really need to practice anymore. Seeing your disappointment, Sirius smiled softly before suggesting to the boys to train together and that he would help you. After all if that did not work so well that way, you could try.


« I can’t do it either, you know. Maybe it’s because you distract me. » he suggested, teasing you once more with a grin on his face.

« That’s not funny Sirius. » you whined, a pout on your lips.


He looked at them for a bit too long before coming back at your eyes. Finally he stood behind you, his chest pressed against your back. You were thankful he was behind, at least he couldn’t see your burning cheeks but it wasn’t finished yet because you could now feel his strong hand taking yours, holding your wand with you while the other one was placed on your hip. Your heart was racing and you were probably shaking too because he laughed soflty, speaking soflty.


« Maybe you’re not thinking about your happiest memory. Close you eyes, the first one to come to your mind is probably the good one, focus on it. »


Even if his body pressed against yours and his breath crashing on the thin skin of your neck did not help you at all, his soft and low voice was relaxing and you now thought of nothing else. You no longer heard the sound of the wind in the trees, nor the murmur of the water of the lake, you did not see your friends staring at you a little farther : it was his voice and his body near you that occupied all your mind. You closed your eyes as he had suggested, and with trembling lips you pronounced the two words « Expecto patronum. » You opened your eyes slowly, just in time to see a magnificent light spraying out, more powerful than what you had managed to do until then. It grew larger, Sirius’s hand still held yours and guided the movements of your wand.
After a few seconds, you saw it. In front of you stood a brilliant, tall and perfectly formed dog. But it was not a common dog, you had seen this one several times already and you recognized it immediately. You understood that Sirius did too when you felt his fingers release your hand smoothly and his body move back slowly. Your concentration broke and the big dog disappeared. You did not dare to turn around, both shocked and mute, because you finally knew what your patronus was. And it was him. It was Padfoot.



You stood there, sitting on your bed without knowing what to do or even what to think. After the events of the afternoon you quickly ran away, stammering that you did not feel well and that you were going to rest. But everyone had seen the same thing as you, and everyone knew that your patronus was none other than Sirius Black himself, or at least his animagus form. You tried to convince yourself that it was just a simple dog, but you knew what you saw. Maybe it didn’t mean anything at all, maybe it did. It probably did. Sirius and you had been friends for years and even though he liked to tease you all day long, it had never been more than a platonic relationship. As you kept thinking about this, images started to come to your mind. The day you met, how funny you found him, yet annoying. The first time you sat together in class, and how you spent the hour drawing stupid things on each other’s books. That time in 4th year when he punched a guy who insulted you, and definitely got a detention for it. When one of his pranks hurt you and he brought you chocolate and flowers to make it up. The time he hugged you so tight after Gryffindor won the house cup that you thought he was going to choke you. Maybe he wasn’t just a friend after all, and it took you a couple of years and a patronus to realize it. A knock on your door made you lift your head up, the person did not let you any time to answer and entered the room.


« Can I come in ? » asked the black haired boy.
« A bit too late to ask, isn’t it ? »


Sirius did not answer, he just closed the door leaving you both alone in the dorm. He sat next to you, your knees barely touching, but not a word was said. You looked at the floor for a few seconds before you saw him turning his head to you from the corner of your eye. Slowly, you looked at him too, your heart skipping a beat when you met his dark grey eyes.


« Why did you leave earlier ? You missed something, we learnt that Peter’s patronus is a mole. »
« You know why I left. » you said, smiling slightly at the end.
« You don’t have to be embarassed about it. » he shrugged « But I have to admit that I thought it would be something else. »
« Like what ? »
« A penguin. »


You scoffed, clearly not especting that answer. Sirius looked at you curiously, he didn’t seem to understand why you were chuckling but he still smiled when he heard your laugh.


« What ? They’re cute and funny, everyone likes penguins. » he smirked.
« Nope, you’re probably the only person to fancy penguins that much. »
« Well I don’t try to hide it. You shouldn’t either. »


His last words were whispered in your ear before he placed a soft kiss on your shoulder. You knew what he meant, and you couldn’t act as if the butterflies flying in your stomach weren’t here. He bent down to give you another kiss, on the cheek this time, but the weight of his body made you both fall back on the bed. You laughed as he found himself lying on top of you and for the first time since you met him, you saw a light shade of red on his cheeks. You stayed like this before he kissed your forehead, and then your nose. You smiled and he looked at your lips, and back at your eyes again. Your hands made their way to the back of his neck as he brushed your lips with his own, without ever pressing them together. Your heartbeating probably echoed throughout the entire room, or maybe it was his own. He smirked again when he saw the look full of frustration and desire you gave him, biting his lip and kissing the corner of your lips and then your cheek, before whispering in your ear again.

« I always knew you were a dog person. »

And after that he finally pressed his lips against yours, tenderly, as if you were the most precious thing in the world.

Highlights from Talks Machina (Episode 105)

Again, covering for @eponymous-rose​ while she continues her international vacation! Sorry for missing last week–things got crazy! Tonight’s guests: Darin de Paul, Taliesin sporting a lovely scarlet mohawk, and Travis. Brian starts a story that ends with him forging several signatures, and off we go.

  • The new campaign guide comes out soon! Taliesin is now worried about messing up the history of a character he invented.
  • Darin loves D&D as a long-form improv exercise and is happy he was able to get moments with each of the cast members.
  • Right after college, Darin was an apprentice at the Burt Reynolds Theater in Florida (a year-long program for theater students). One of his co-apprentices was Matt’s mom, and Matt’s grandmother was the director’s assistant. Matt’s father was part of the writing room. During the run of Darin’s last show (Fiddler), a clarinet player said they were going to play D&D and invited Darin. Matt’s mother was also in the group; they were all new to the game, so they rolled on a table for names and played four sessions. Last year, Darin was hired by Blizzard to do various voices, which is where he and Matt became friends. Later, Matt realized his mom had a picture of herself with Darin de Paul, and discussion of that picture led to the conversation of their D&D game. It’s been 37 years since Sprigg’s original campaign.
  • Matt was worried about fitting Sprigg in until Darin mentioned he was a hermit. The hobgoblin TPK was canon! Sprigg, a chaotic evil illusionist thief, was the only one to survive; the last moment of that campaign had him fleeing on a cart with wolves chasing him, abandoning the rest of the party to their deaths. Travis and Taliesin ask if he really was chaotic evil; “Why do you think he was so interested in redemption, dear boy?”
  • The first episode Darin saw was the Trials of the Take episode when the carpet was destroyed. He’s wanted to be on the show ever since.
  • Symmetra’s voice actor, Anjali Bhimani, also plays D&D. My heart skips a few beats.
  • Vex and Percy eloped over the year break. Laura and Taliesin kept it secret out of pique at first (Taliesin doesn’t remember why they were piqued). He’s not surprised the others are annoyed.
  • Grog was extremely impressed by Sarenrae and hasn’t thought much about Kord giving him any boons.
  • Darin has been a fan of the show and watching for some time. Taliesin says he is the most prepared guest they’ve ever had.
  • Very few people were present at Vex & Percy’s wedding. They did not intend to ever bring it up on their own.
  • The plane of books is the worst possible plane for Grog. Only the plane of shopping would be worse.
  • As soon as Darin walked into the studio last Thursday, Travis immediately asked him if he was a god. Travis still thinks he might be.
  • Percy would rather have a thousand years with Vex than a thousand years with Ioun’s library.
  • Travis wants a “positive, upbeat resolution to all the drama that is a-hanging in the air.” Me too. Travis does not read the Player’s Handbook to help keep Grog dumb, so he never knows what’s going on.
  • Travis loves how prepared Darin was. He offered the Deck because he thought Darin was looking for something specific after Sprigg deflected the weaker offerings.
  • Darin loved the emotion in the room during the plane shift and the strong moment with Marisha in particular. He also likes the movie Gargoyles.
  • The hardest thing about playing Sprigg after so long was finding him again. Brian gets very sentimental about the long journey that brought Sprigg back to life, including Darin becoming friends and colleagues with Matt so many years later.
  • Darin will be back on the next episode and is visibly excited about it.
  • Darin used to read tons of D&D books (mentions Drizzt by name) and used to paint minis as a hobby. He still has some of the figures and wants to donate them to the show.
  • Darin’s wife was part of Taliesin’s parents’ circle, so he’s known her for a long time. Taliesin and Darin exchange memories of meeting Roddy McDowall, and Darin says part of Sprigg’s concept of memories being the most important came from a conversation he had with Roddy while Roddy was dying of cancer.
  • Percy’s current distrusting attitude towards the gods came directly from his interaction with the Raven Queen. However, he didn’t know there was a god of knowledge and has been “chewing on it a lot, and what it means to have faith in knowledge.” He sees the library as a testament to faith in humanity and the good works of life and how important memory is and is blown away by it. “Books have always been about finding meaning and this whole library thing has changed him.” Taliesin expected Percy to be much more resistant to Ioun and was surprised at how quickly the books sold him.
  • Darin felt as the scenes progressed that his role was to “illuminate” CR as to where they were and what they could be. Taliesin and Percy both wondered if he was Scanlan from the future. Darin had the choice of being Scanlan’s dad, but declined.
  • Percy picked Vesper because her namesake was the last person he’d talked to in real life.
  • The only place Travis can think of worse for Grog is if the books were replaced with clothing & a For Sale sign. “Grog has a beatnik poet inside him waiting to get out.”
  • Darin’s advice to Keyleth was total improv. He almost cried when she touched his hand. He loves funny characters that can become sad and/or touching.
  • Marisha has no idea how to get Keyleth out of her emotional nosedive. Watching Marisha break character from Keyleth at the end of an episode is one of Taliesin’s favorite things because they’re such different people.
  • Percy would seek out the lifebooks for all his family & ancestry because he’s fascinated with legacy, and Whitestone is full of ghost stories. He had lots of stories he’d planned to give as part of the gnomes’ tour, and tells one about a woman forced into a marriage who slowly poisoned her husband over a number of years.
  • Sprigg feels he is what Scanlan might become. He did not expect to survive the episode.
  • If they were really in Ioun’s halls, Travis would love to see the books of his family and of JFK. Darin would like to see his father’s book. Darin also likes wearing suits, which is why he wears suits. He only wears t-shirts at the gym. (At one point Darin’s family also owned 20 horses???). He wishes his parents could see him now because they were so supportive when he was growing up.

Honor! Justice! After Dark, After Dark, After Dark!

  • If the challenge for Ioun involves any physical activity, Grog will fight Percy for it.
  • Bucket lists: Travis wants to swim with a great white shark. (Darin’s biggest fear is great white sharks.) Taliesin wants to travel to India. Darin wants to learn to tap dance, and casually drops that he used to dance with Cirque du Soleil.
  • Darin’s favorite color is black. His favorite season is winter.
  • There’s a video somewhere of Darin de Paul and Steve Blum pretending to be zombies and running towards the camera.
  • Travis and Darin do Reinhardt “impressions” by talking in high-pitched baby voices. Taliesin does a pretty decent actual impression! Darin likes that there’s heroes for every playstyle.
  • Darin hasn’t told Matt’s parents he brought back Sprigg. He also used to have a crush on Matt’s mom.
  • If Darin could pick any character from VM to play, he would play Scanlan. Brian teases the entire world by saying he would play “the character Pike’s in love with.”
  • Darin’s twitter flooded after last Thursday and he wishes he could respond to all of the kind messages.
  • Darin once shared floss with Gilbert Gottfried as part of an old bit.
  • Darin feels his whole history has led to this moment last Thursday where he had the chance to create a story with people he loved.
  • Laura read the Game of Thrones books as they came out, well before the show started. Brian just found the copy of the first book she lent him in 2010, which he still hasn’t read.
  • If Sprigg could fight any D&D monster, it would be a hobgoblin.
Talks Machina - Live from WonderCon Highlights
  • Denise message: “One push of a button and this all comes crashing down.”
  • “I am your host for this afternoon, Affordable Chris Hardwick.”
  • Sam sings Britney Spears on command.
  • Asked what they were most surprised by: Matt talks about how surprised he was at the positivity in the community, Laura was surprised at all the sexy-time art, Sam was surprised that three fan babies (thus far) have been named after Liam and wants to emphasize that Sam is a great name as well, Liam was surprised at the number of new D&D games people have started playing.
  • Matt emphasizes the importance of the back-and-forth inherent in the online platform, so that it’s not just one-sided content production, because that’s what they wanted to avoid when agreeing to do the show.
  • Travis: “Once we got used to the random-ass cameras in the room, we just kept doing our thing.”
  • Sam: “But we always did blame Keyleth, even in the home game. Kept that consistent.”
  • Laura on the show: “It’s getting to hang out with our family every single week.”
  • Laura gets pre-show jitters every time before the show. Matt: “Don’t even talk about pre-show jitters to me, guys.” He’s generally freaking out for a full hour before each game.
  • “Some people walk out to the ring with hardcore metal music. We just yell profanities at our DM before starting.”
  • Liam is distracted mid-answer when Sam and Laura start messing with his hair.
  • Liam: “We’re not faking it, we weren’t cast. These are the closest people in my life, and they helped me work through some shit on stage, and it’s one of the greatest gifts in my life.”
  • Liam: “We are role models.” Laura: “We’re the worst.” Travis: “We’re Seal Team 6, shut up.”
  • Matt re: hellish contract-signing: “I absolutely love everything you do that is a poor choice. It fills me with such joy and inspiration.”
  • Travis: “We don’t plan on doing anything good.” Brian: “Or anything well.”
  • Sam talks about how scary and exciting it was to start playing a new character after everyone had been playing these characters for five years.
  • Everyone has some trouble with the WonderCon “some of your audience may be under 18 so be careful with your language” policy. Brian: “…I said the F-word in the introduction.”
  • Brian: “In the nearly 100 episodes of this show, there have been many, many guest stars, but would you say this one was… the first Noelle?”
  • Matt re: Rothfuss. “Yeah, the guy can write. He should write a book. Maybe a third book.”
  • Marisha: “[Keyleth]’s always gonna put her foot in her mouth at least once a week.” Travis: “And get arrested at least once a year?” Marisha: “…Yeah.”
  • Taliesin: “Percy will never stop pretending he doesn’t have anger issues.”
  • Liam: “Vax will probably always jump in front of trains to protect his family.”
  • Laura: “Vex will probably always hold grudges, and she’ll always wanna get naked in random situations. And she’ll always love Trinket.”
  • Marisha and Taliesin both don’t want to multiclass and are aiming to get to level 20. Sam? “I mean, I just asked Matt what multiclass meant.”
  • Matt wants someone to draw VM sitting in the City of Dis saying “This is fine.”
  • Matt on Vex failing persuasion checks: “Roll higher.”
  • The entire cast desperately wants Lin-Manuel Miranda to guest on the game now that he’s played some D&D.
  • The attack on Emon was one of Matt’s favorite moments as a DM.
  • Dream guests: Stephen Colbert, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Sam: “It would be nice to have the entire cast of Cats.” The Stranger Things kids. Dame Judy Dench, now that she knows how to play.
  • Laura and Sam get into a Trinket vs. Doty debate.
  • Marisha on Matt: “Every time he gets a new Dwarven Forge set, he plays house.” “It’s practicing.”
  • Sam has actually sat down to write a little bit of Taryon’s book.
  • Matt discusses the finer points of litigation in the Nine Hells.
  • Matt and Sam are meeting this week to figure out what Scanlan’s been doing while all everything has been happening.
"I never thought of it that way"

For context, I’ve been running a game of Rocket Age and we just got through the 3rd episode. One of my players has Psi Powers and a high convince skill, consistently using them to mess with the status quo or other players. The players are on a rescue mission and have just boarded a enemy ship.

Me: Alright the turn order is loaded, PSI you’re the first one out the door. What do you do?

PSI: I find the first guard and I convince him to stop being a bad guy.

Me: Okay you’re gonna need a high roll for that.

PSI proceeds to roll his dice and get a critical hit.

Me: Oh my god!

Other Players: [Laughing Furiously]

PSI: YES! Alright, “Have you ever thought about not being one of the bad guys?”

Me: Okay fine! [Clears throat], the guard looks over to you and ponders it for a moment before saying “I never thought of it that way” before shedding his uniform.

Other Players: [Still laughing]

The thing that really got me was that not only had PSI once done this before, but he got the exact same roll he did last time and used these exact same words. Clearly someone needs nerfing in the future.

High school reunion AU for @zimmbitty who planted the idea in my head. I hope my loss sleep makes you happy.

-

An AU where Jack and Bitty happened to go to the same high school for maybe a year or two. (Here their age difference is around 3 years.)

How you ask? Coach is filling in temporarily maybe not as a Football coach but in some other position. It doesn’t matter *waves hands to misdirect from possible plot holes* just go with it…

Bitty is still into figure skating and in this high school, they have an actual ice skating ring in the premises!!!

And his skating lessons are usually before the hockey team plays. At first, he avoids the team but slowly realises they didn’t really care what he did so long as he left the ice on time.

Then Bitty started watching the practices and hockey looked kind of fun, (if you ignored the checking…) and maybe if he got into hockey he and Coach would have more stuff in common to talk about.

So one day after hockey practice is over, Bitty sneaks back into the ice with a broken hockey stick he found in the dumpster and put back together with duct tape and a flatted out can, and starts trying to get a hang of how the sport works.

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

Could you clearly explain what the term neoliberalism actually means? Because it is used so often to describe such a variety of things but always in a vague manner

Neoliberalism, as I and others talk about it, is a broad ideology that really started becoming popular in political, economic, and governmental circles in the 1970’s and reached its peak in global popularity in the 1980’s. It describes the political paradigm we are in right now, the political conditions of modern society. As the name suggests, it calls for a revitalization of the classical liberal view of economic policy. Concretely, this means free trade, low taxes, deregulation, privatization, and balanced budgets.

This post is going to shortly explain the neoliberal story as it took place in America. I only mention the experiences in other nations at the end for brevity, relevance to my followers and I, and because I don’t understand them as well as I understand America’s.


Neoliberalism emerged as a reaction to the Keynesian welfare state politics that had become popular in the West. In the 1970’s, the American economy was experiencing a phenomenon called “stagflation”- simultaneous stagnation and inflation- that the old-school Keynesians who had been the dominant group in American economics had believed to be impossible for any extended period of time. In the intellectual gap their failure left, economists like Milton Friedman made the case not only for a different approach to monetary policy in order to solve stagflation, but also for the idea that many forms of governmental involvement in the economy being harmful. Others, like James Buchanan, made the case to the economics profession that government bureaucrats acted in selfish self-interest, not the public interest, and thus that policy prescriptions should be much more cautious in calling for governmental solutions to economic issues.

At the same time, businesses began to be more aggressive in asserting their interests in politics. This development was prompted in part by soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr. writing a memo to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 1971 arguing that “the American economic system is under attack” from progressive critics of big business, and that the business community should fight back. A number of conservative and libertarian think tanks and advocacy organizations were created and expanded in order to make the intellectual case for “freer” capitalism, including the Heritage Foundation (1973), the Cato Institute (1974), and the American Enterprise Institute (founded in 1938 but became influential during the 1970′s).

Take all of these trends, throw in increased public skepticism of government after Vietnam and Watergate, and you have a recipe for fundamental political change.

Between the economic disarray, the public distrust, and both intellectual and financial support for an alternative to post-war welfare statism, a new ideology became dominant in the political sphere. This ideology was encapsulated by Ronald Reagan, who summed it up perfectly with his famous quote: “in this current crisis, government is not the solution to the problem; government is the problem.”

That’s is standard conservative fare today, but we forget how radical both that message and Reagan himself were at the time. I’ve noted before that, even at the time of his election, Reagan was seen by some as too far right to win. The last (elected) Republican president before him, Nixon, created the EPA, OSHA, and a number of other progressive programs. He also called for healthcare reform even stronger than Obamacare, and an expansion of welfare, the latter of which was the inspiration for the Earned Income Tax Credit, passed shortly after he left office. Parts of Nixon’s economic agenda (but not many other parts of his agenda, I should note) were noticeably left-wing, so much so that one journalist at the time noted that he left the Democrats having to resort to “metooism.”

But Nixon was simply responding to political pressures from the left, the same pressures that had forced LBJ’s hand with civil rights legislation and the war on poverty. In the late 1970’s, those pressures began to be outweighed by increasing pressure from businesses in the direction of neoliberalism. This started under Jimmy Carter, who oversaw the cautious deregulation of airlines and the trucking industry. However, it was Reagan who truly delivered the neoliberal agenda in America and institutionalized it into government.

The Reagan era also saw the start of the growth in importance of campaign donations. Republicans had not only a strong base of think tanks to provide them with a network of intellectual support, they also had far more donations from the corporate interests they were serving. Congressional Republicans beat their Democratic counterparts in campaign expenditures in every election year from 1976-1992.

Traditionally, Democrats had relied on unions as a critical source of both campaign donations and organizational support. With union strength declining (thanks, in part, to attacks by the Reagan administration), the Democrats were being totally outgunned. Recognizing that the game has changed, a number of Democrats (including one Bill Clinton) joined together in the Democratic Leadership Council with the stated goal of dragging the Democratic Party to the right and boosting campaign contributions. They succeeded. When Clinton eventually won the presidency, he cemented neoliberalism as the law of the land by making it clear that the Democrats would not challenge the fundamental new doctrine of limited government involvement in many parts of the economy, and as a result made the Democrats competitive again. (Read Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson’s “Winner-Take-All Politics” and Thomas Ferguson and Joel Roger’s “Right Turn” for more on this issue).

Instead of challenging the entirety of Reagan’s assertion of government as problem, Clinton espoused a “third way” ideology: in his second inauguration, Clinton said that “Government is not the problem, and Government is not the solution. We—the American people—we are the solution.” Though he made concessions to left-liberal voters with things like mild tax hikes on the wealthy, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Family Medical Leave Act, he continued the neoliberal march of rolling back progressive achievements through the deregulation of Wall Street, conservative reform of welfare, NAFTA, and gutting public housing.

Clinton himself was aware of the way that American politics was moving to the right, and he was sometimes frustrated with it. Allegedly, he once entered a meeting in the Oval Office complaining:

Where are all the Democrats? I hope you’re all aware we’re all Eisenhower Republicans. We’re Eisenhower Republicans here, and we are fighting the Reagan Republicans. We stand for lower deficits and free trade and the bond market. Isn’t that great?

But he didn’t really do anything to slow the process. Most of the Democratic Party accepts their role doing nothing more than, to borrow a phrase from Roberto Unger, “to put a softer face on the agenda of their conservative opponents.” They’re there to make things a bit better for the little guy here and there, but never to fundamentally shake up the political-economic system in any way. This is why people will refer to many Democrats as neoliberals even when they don’t literally advocate for a “free market.”

As a result, the Republicans continued to push further right under the leadership of Newt Gingrich. The Democrats started to dig their heels in and push back a little for the first time during the later part of the George W. Bush administration as his (and the wars’) approval ratings sank, and they now seem to have stabilized more or less. An increasingly loud progressive wing of the party continues to push for the type of reforms that would have been center-left in the 1960’s, but the party establishment is now fine just holding on to ideological territory to the right of where it was several decades ago.

With the establishment of both parties accepting neoliberal ideology, it achieved status as what Antonio Gramsci called “cultural hegemony”: because the most powerful class of America accepted it as fact, it was instilled into the American consciousness as “common sense” that can’t be seriously challenged. Ex.) “You want to raise taxes to pay for universal healthcare? That’s ridiculous, everyone knows taxes need to be cut, even the Democrats want tax cuts for the middle class!,” “Everyone agrees there’s too much regulation today,” etc.

But things are changing. What we’re seeing now in this election is the collapse of neoliberalism’s hegemony. Republican elites took neoliberalism being their root organizing principle for granted while running campaigns utilizing dog whistle racism (that’s a whole post in itself), never realizing that they were attracting a base of voters who hated immigrants a lot more than regulation. The Republicans have drifted so far to the right that unabashed nationalists like Trump can now take the lead of the party, even though he’s running on racist xenophobia and protectionism that are in conflict with neoliberal ideals. The Tea Party was the first hiccup, and Trump is the new one. The GOP’s electoral strategy is coming back to haunt them.

Even during their neoliberalization, the Democrats always had a left-wing occupied by social democrats who wanted to continue the progress that was abandoned in the late 70’s. They were empowered by both opposition to the Iraq War late in the Bush era and the subsequent economic crash that occurred as a result of neoliberal deregulation of the finance sector. Obama ran as a semi-progressive but governed as a standard Democrat who wanted no fundamental changes (Obamacare instead of single-payer, Dodd-Frank instead of reshaping the finance system, etc.), leaving progressive disappointment and frustration to rise to the surface again once a primary was held to determine who would be the Democratic candidate after Obama. Thus, the Bernie phenomenon.

I think that the collapse of neoliberalism is embedded in the formula of neoliberalism itself, very similar to Marxist views about how capitalism creates its own life-threatening crises (which, I should clarify, I don’t believe). Neoliberal globalization results in devastating deindustrialization in blue collar parts of America, leaving a class of people unemployed and feeling totally forgotten by their government, especially since government aid to the poor is often seen as shameful in a hyperindividualist neoliberal environment. This prompts an inevitable political reaction. The center-left (ex. Clinton) and center-right (ex. Jeb Bush) sing the praises of neoliberal globalization, the left (ex. Sanders) vigorously attacks the “neoliberal” part, and the far-right vigorously attacks the “globalization” part (ex. Trump). If you can’t tell, my position on the left leaves me disliking neoliberalism and believing that the far-right’s disdain for all forms of globalization is a distraction and misidentification of the root issue, using foreigners and people of color as scapegoats.

A number of other industrialized countries have underwent neoliberalization on roughly the same time frame and are now experiencing similar backlashes: The U.K., neoliberalized under Thatcher, now has UKIP, Jeremy Corbyn, and social democratic Scottish nationalists. France has the National Front. Germany has the AfD and Pegida. New Zealand has New Zealand First. Sweden has the Sweden Democrats. Spain has Podemos. Neoliberalism was pushed on much of Latin America through the “Washington Consensus” doctrine of the U.S. government and international finance organizations like the IMF, leading to a revitalization of Latin American left-populism in many countries.

There are exceptions of course: Australia, weirdly enough, doesn’t have as much far-right or far-left activity as the other nations, as far as I’m aware. Mexican politics don’t have very strong far-right and far-left forces either right now, though the Zapatista movement was undoubtably the type of response I’m talking about. Russian politics are odd enough that it’s kinda hard to determine whether what’s going on there is the result of their neoliberal shock therapy after the fall of the USSR or not.

Regardless, the only countries where neoliberalism has had serious economic success are nations with authoritarian political systems that can suppress dissent: neoliberalism was forced upon the people of Chile under the brutal rule of Pinochet, and China underwent large scale economic liberalization under the brutal rule of Deng. For all of the other problems that may have occurred, both resulted in astonishing economic growth. Regardless, these experiences seem to directly conflict with the classical liberal argument of a strong correlation between a laissez-faire economy and political democracy, at least at all points on the curve.

This post is already way too long, and I’ve probably tried to cover too much, but the concept of neoliberalism is so important to understanding our modern world that I feel like all of this is important to cover.

Highlights from Talks Machina (Episode 99)
  • New set!
  • Jon Heder’s coming back next week!
  • Sam had no plan B if the Fate die hadn’t worked out.
  • Sam thinks of it as poor planning on his part that Taryon didn’t talk to Vex ahead of time about thinking of leaving.
  • Ashley thinks it’s funny that people consider Pike to be the mom friend of the group. She thinks of Pike as “the little weirdo of the group”, but watching back bits and pieces, she can sort of see where people are getting it. Laura points out that the party all winds up tattling on each other to her in the process of getting her caught up.
  • Everyone is Sam:


  • Sam was surprised by everyone’s reactions - everyone was super happy and excited during the break, and then things shifted once they got back into character.
  • Ashley was surprised at how mad Pike was. She found herself trying to be nice but couldn’t, and realized Grog was in the same boat. Laura, on the other hand, thought Vex was gonna be more angry. Vex is also in the mode of “be really pleasant and say all the right things so he doesn’t go away again”.
  • Vex’s check noticed that his shadow was smaller.
  • Sam didn’t know this was going to happen when it did; Matt managed the timing, although they’d worked out some possible details beforehand. Jon Heder was legitimately never supposed to say “The Meat Man”, which gave the game away too soon, but it worked out perfectly for his character.
  • Scanlan disguised himself as a defense mechanism.
  • If they hadn’t recognized Scanlan, he wouldn’t have come back after delivering that info—that was their one shot.
  • A theory is floated that this was all a way for Sam to get twice as much fanart as everyone else. “Yes. No, it’s super dickish, I’m sorry.” Sam resolves to stop being the surprise guy in the next campaign.
  • Everyone tries to get Laura to spill the beans on what Vex was being mysterious about, but she refuses.
  • Travis refused to come on the show to talk about it this week; he’ll talk about it later, but not yet.
  • Laura isn’t sure yet whether Vex is gonna pull out the hat again.
  • Laura is very amused that Vax didn’t catch on to Vex having a secret. Sam: “Do you think he was being deliberately obtuse?” Laura: “No, I think it’s like Larkin.” If he’d pushed, she probably would’ve explained.
  • Pike mostly punched Lionel because Grog wouldn’t walk away from a fight, and she could tell how hurt he was.
  • Re: episode 100: “be there on time.”

Talks Machina: Dark Edition (with more lights than before)

  • Sam wins the roll for hosting and has some trouble adjusting. “What am I looking at? There’s just a teleprompter with a light flashing next to the word ‘Brian’.” “Skipping all of the good questions and just going to the weird ones…” “To Liam… oh, he’s not here.”
  • Asked why he decided to bring Scanlan down a darker path: “Scanlan started dying and it started messing with his head.”
  • Vex currently has zero gold.
  • Everyone reminisces about how they met Taliesin and how nice he is.
  • Advice to give themselves if they could go back to episode one. Ashley: “I would tell myself to not get a job so I could keep playing the game.”
  • Sam has two apps on his phone that make t-shirts instantly. The last shirt was made while showing Matt how the app worked.

gaylittleluthor  asked:

HEY for the fall prompts idea! Lena and Kara Halloween dress up party! Maybe Kara dresses up as a puppy and Lena dresses up as a witch? Basically just some cute Halloween party, maybe Kara convinces Lena to do a cute "friends" costume (which is actually a couples costume)...I don't know just cute fall Halloween fun!

The party is a yearly tradition. Kara’s idea. The inviting Lena this time? Definitely Alex’s idea.

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Sansa, Smart

So. Sansa. I hear some people think she’s not very clever. This is a view shared by several characters in the books.

But there’s no reason the readership should share those views. Sansa is a very clever individual who makes increasingly good use of several skills she started the series with, and develops greatly as an observer and an actor over the course of the story.

Putting everything under a cut, for reasons of four books of brainpower.

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More Ace Dex

Ace Dex combating the casual aphobia that we all deal with at some point.  

“Dude, you’ve never done the nasty?”

Dex rolled his eyes, hard. Whiskey’s tone was just this side of shocked, and it made Dex was to take back the fact that he had said anything at all. It wasn’t exactly that he expected the team to be more understanding than other people, but he hoped that was the case, anyway.

On top of that, Whiskey managed to catch the attention of Ransom and Holster, who were walking past, heads close together.

“Wait, what’s this about someone never smuggling the ol’ bone?”

Ransom gave Holster a critical look, then grinned in that way that only someone on the wrong side of tipsy can. “Playing hide the sausage.”

Holster countered quickly with, “Making the beast with two backs.”

“Assault with a friendly weapon.”

“Entangling the lower beards.”

“Joint sessions of Congress.”

Holster held out a fist. “Bro, pound it out for that one.”

With a solemn nod, Ransom offered tapped his fist to Holster’s. Dex hoped that their (truly awful) back and forth would distract them from what was going on, but instead they plopped onto the couch to join in the conversation. Well, they pushed their way onto the couch, which was already too full, Ransom on one end and Holster in the middle of Nursey and Dex.

Whiskey pointed in Dex’s general direction, and told the captains, “Apparently, Dex has never had sex.”

Holster threw a big arm around Dex’s shoulder and turned toward him. Dex could smell tub juice wafting off of him. “Dex! My dude. My man. Bro. We gotta resolve this.”

“It’s not a problem. There’s nothing to resolve.”

On the other side of Holster, Dex could see his boyfriend’s concerned face. Nursey knew that Dex’s sexuality (well, his asexuality) was still a touchy subject. On the best of days, it was hard for him to have a conversation about. On the days after a game loss and with a group of drunken and less than subtle frat boys, well…. Chances were that it wasn’t going to go well.

“No, but Dex. Dexy. Dex. Sex is so good. Tell ‘im, Rans, tell him about… Shit, what’s a good one for Dex? Crab fishing in the dead sea.”

Dex scrunched up his face. “Dude, that’s fucking gross. And no, whatever fucking euphemism you use, the answer is no.”

On the other side of Holster, Nursey stood up and held a hand out to Dex, and yeah, that sounded like a better idea than having a discussion about life choices with a very drunk Holster. Dex pushed off the couch with a solid fist to Holster’s thigh, maybe a little harder than strictly necessary. He followed Nursey under the caution tape and up the stairs to Chowder’s room.

They spent the rest of the not-kegster (because apparently it could only be a kegster if they won the game) hiding out, watching Brooklyn-99. Dex could feel Nursey sending him concerned looks, but he ignored them. They fell asleep together, cuddling on the thin mattress.

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anonymous asked:

can I request some Jean headcanons?? just lil facts abt my son pls ? thank u for ur time 💋

OKAY this got away from me bye

  • jean moreau is very tall and carries himself with put-on pride that bled over from his time with the ravens. if he ever hunched over in riko’s presence, well - riko is dead, and no one is around to bring it up anymore
  • despite popular belief, he wears black because it suits his image, not because it’s habit. it’s one thing he and andrew minyard share, not that either of them recognise that or would react well if someone pointed it out
  • his favourite colours are a deep forest green and silver-grey, which also sneak into his wardrobe in places (jumpers, shirts, ties, and the silver spinner ring renee gifts him halfway through his second month in california) 
  • he’s utterly unselfconscious about his scars, and the trojans learn very fucking quickly to never bring them up because he’ll snarl at them for prying. if they happen to look pitying, he’ll break something of theirs. like their face
  • the first few months, he spends a lot of time thinking he’s dead because he can’t quite believe it, even having been to the funeral. riko’s a ghost he can’t shake, haunting him during the day out of the corner of his eye in every flash of black, sometimes seeping into his dreams at night to torture him all over again
  • coach rhemann picks him up from the airport when he first arrives, and they have a very quiet week together where jean reads so much rhemann makes a joke about him being an academic rather than an athlete. jean doesn’t laugh, but rhemann didn’t expect him to
  • (he and his new head coach end up having a good relationship, once they’re over the first rough patches. jean was worried he wouldn’t be able to respect a man who hadn’t produced a champs-winning team in his tenure, the same way he thought he’d feel about the team itself, but instead he ends up respecting rhemann for his brisk kindness and refusal to give in to jean’s initial attitude)
  • (rhemann, quietly, thinks the first month that he’ll have to make alternative arrangements for jean, that he’ll never be a good fit for the team. fortunately, the trojans step in to stop that from happening)
  • jean and jeremy met long before jeremy flew out with rhemann to Palmetto to sign their newest player, but when jeremy arrives back on campus it’s like they’re meeting for the first time all over again. jeremy is really excited to see him. jeremy is really excited about everything, apparently. 
  • laila and alvarez are the next arrivals. laila is critical of jean from the get-go, and they’re a little similar in their seriousness, but alvarez is determined from the start to befried jean
  • (it works because part of it is that she thinks they’ll be unstoppable as defensive partners, and she tells jean this straight off of the bat. it’s the kind of reasoning jean can get behind)
  • the rest of the trojans are a blur of faces and names, too much enthusiasm for jean to really deal with. he hides the fact he’s overwhelmed with carelessness and a little bit of cruelty at first, feeling like a broken bird hunkered down amongst them as they chatter and jostle each other
  • none of the trojans are prepared for jean when he joins their practices at first - he’s silent amongst them, and so fucking fast their goalkeepers’ workloads are suddenly halved in scrimmage
  • it’s exciting but unnerving. jeremy is meant to be the one to take jean in hand and turn him into a team player, but he mostly leaves it to the girls because they’re better at it. it’s not like he doesn’t know jean had a complicated relationship with his last captain
  • they end up getting along anyway - jean likes jeremy’s stubborn determination and the ferocity that walks hand-in-hand with his bright good cheer. jeremy appreciates jean’s skill and honesty, even if he thinks jean could tone down the bad attitude at times. he also thinks jean has a nice ass, but that’s beside the point
  • their first game together, the trojans win. jeremy makes jean a deal as a joke that he’ll take him out for ice cream if he doesn’t earn a red card. jean raises an eyebrow and tells him that he hopes jeremy promises the entire team the same. jeremy says it’s only fair, and yells through the stadium lounge that it’s a deal
  • their first season, they steal the championship trophy from the foxes, and jean gets to look kevin day in the eye for the first time in a long while with the knowledge that this one thing, at least, he’s won
  • (jeremy buys him that ice cream. all the others, too. it’s only fair)
  • alvarez shows jean how to be a proper partner. laila and the others teach him what it means to be part of the team. all of them together watch him paste himself back together, come back stronger for it like he’s growing scar tissue on the inside too
  • (jeremy also manages to convince him he’s fucking beautiful - but that’s another post)