hi hi! it’s still platypus eve here in the pacific northwest! my name’s michelle, and i’m over the moon for the orbiting human circus podcast.

facts: i love music, cats, cacti, and banjos (this includes brooms). i’m also in the midst of writing a fantasy western series!

i’ve been to well over 100 live shows, and seeing julian koster perform on the OHC tour this year easily tied for best show i’ve ever seen (the other show was jefferson nigh mangum, naturally :P).

since y'all clearly have good taste in music (e.g. julian koster), feel free to contact me if you want to do any music exchanges. :) sharing and discovering music with others is one of my favorite pastimes.

Oh yeah did I ever mention I found a canon reason for Morgan to eat an obscene amount of junk food? Yet another example of “it was a joke but it stuck and is now canon”.

Her greed worm acts as a nigh-inexhaustible supply of her own blood among other things. This is very useful for a blood mage, because it’s easy for an inexperienced blood mage to accidentally bleed too much and pass out or die. The greed worm doesn’t make the blood though. It’s basically a pocket dimension reservoir (or a battery pack, as I refer to it sometimes) constantly being filled from Morgan’s own body. Thus, she’s pretty much perpetually having blood drawn, and as with giving blood for anything else, it’s a good idea to eat and replenish.

Whether or not she should be eating french fries and hamburgers is another story, but no one’s going to tell her otherwise.

UNRELATED TO THAT but related to Morgan, ugh, UGH. That good art made me want to resurrect her nasty accidental necromancy husk, but that means killing her at some point and that’s so much to ask…When I first did those designs, Morgan was still an antagonist and meant to die pretty soon into that timeline. SHE’S MY BABY NOW god help me

The 2nd Imaginary Symphony, Episode 4


Augustus: You are listening to the Perpetual Broadcasting Corporation!  It’s Platypus Eve.  I cannot begin to describe our Platypus Eve festivities.  I can only tell you that it is one of the most lovely evenings of the year, and that it begins with all of Paris listening to the final broadcast of the 2nd Imaginary Symphony.

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Imagine living in a city where there are no monuments, no buildings from before 1970, no proof that you had grandparents or parents, no history at all. Wouldn’t that make you feel like you were just a passing fad, that you could be blown away like leaves?… for any community to feel substantial and able to change without losing themselves, a history is absolutely crucial.
—  Emma Donoghue, talking about LGBT history and LGBT historical fiction

Fill-a-Page February day 28!

Welp that coulda gone a bit better but overall I think it’s gross and cute enough to pass lmao. I hope this was worth all the effort that went into rigging the vote <3 


Dr Maru’s notes, translated

As an Assyriologist-in-training, I was pretty excited about cuneiform’s little cameo in Wonder Woman- there are no films at all about Mesopotamia, so even three seconds of flipping through a notebook of the languages I study was pretty exciting to see on the big screen. Now, I assumed at first that the writing in Dr Maru’s notebook, would simply be gibberish, but one thing about it stuck with me: how well copied the letters were. Now, Cuneiform writing was designed for clay and stylus, and it is BRUTALLY hard to write cuneiform symbols with pen and paper. You’d think you could just draw a bunch of triangles, but nope; the system was so clearly designed to use nuances only possible with stylus and clay, they’re nigh on impossible to accurately reproduce using pen. And whoever wrote that piece of paper did a damn good job of it. So, I remained convinced the text might actually have some meaning, and when I got home I started tinkering with it.

First things first: though the notes were described in the film as “Sumerian and Ottoman”, they’re not Sumerian. Dr Maru’s notes are very clearly written in the quite distinctive script of Neo-Assyrian Cuneiform, which was used on official inscriptions of the Assyrian Empire from around 1000- 700 BC. Sumerian died out as a spoken language in around 2000 BC and though it continued to be used in writing long after that in the same way Latin was in Europe, it was probably never written in the formal Assyrian script.

I’m going to safely assume the man who mistakenly called the page “Sumerian and Ottoman” got it wrong, but the fact that Diana doesn’t correct this, despite her vastly superior knowledge of ancient languages is interesting. Consider this though: historians estimate the destruction of the site of Hissarlik, which is thought MIGHT be the inspiration for the Troy legends to around 1300 BC, around the time of the Bronze Age collapse and dawn of the Greek Dark Ages. If we take this as the end of the Greek Mythic age and the hiding of Themiscyra in the DC Universe, Diana would only have been able to study Cuneiform scripts written before this period so she would know only Old Babylonian Cursive, or possibly even only Old Babylonian Lapidary. Neo-Assyrian script would be just legible with effort, but difficult for her to read.

Now, the way cuneiform works is that any one cuneiform symbol can represent one or more alphabetic sounds, OR syllables, OR entire words. Most stand for a number of those things, but some represent only one. The symbols that represent entire words are called Logograms, and they remained largely consistent through all the changes of the cuneiform writing system. If Dr Maru’s notes were primarily written in Logograms (which they turned out to be), it would make sense for Diana to still be able to read them despite the considerable changes between Old Babylonian Lapidary and Neo-Assyrian script, and also that she wouldn’t have to know Assyrian-era Akkadian to understand the logographic signs (because they represent whole words at once rather than spell them out alphabetically, they can be understood by speakers of multiple languages who know the signs).

So having sorted all that out, I began to translate. Virtually all the symbols were logograms standing for words like mountain, woman, king, builder etc, but a limited few stood for single syllables like “ru” or “ti”. This made no sense, because the signs used were consistent enough with the actual context in the film to make some sense and logically repetitive. Whoever wrote this knew what they were doing. Why intersperse them with random letters? I finally realised: Dr Maru is a chemist. The way her code works is that she uses mostly logograms, but uses signs for syllables when those syllables are our modern symbols for chemical elements. Every sign where a syllable-only translation was my only option, that syllable matched up with the abbreviation for a chemical element in the periodic table.

So, working with the assumption that Dr Poison’s code technique is using Logograms to represent whole words, and the symbols for sole syllables like ka, ga, la etc in their standard transcriptions from cuneiform to represent chemical elements, here it is at last, the first page of Dr Maru’s notebook:


To divide the town, one unit of the weapon to the throne of the builder: to please the builder, in the company of the god: lithium, 1 grain/seed of europium. 1 daughter of gold woman -  yours. Country [given?] to god and then [to] lord/god/king. Ruthenium possibility, carbon disulfide*, and then rhenium. May it be pleasing to the country. Animal shoulder** Uunhexium*** . Lord/god and then gallium, and then radium. Weapon, iodine, administrator.

*This sign can mean “tree, wood” or, just stand for the sound “s”. So, i was left with a choice between carbon and sulfur, and settled on the compound

**I have no fricking idea why that’s in there, but it’s definitely that sign. Maybe she wants to make a pot roast and scribbled it down? Someone draw me happy dr maru and her pot roast pls

***This sign was VERY hard to identify, but i finally settled on the Old Babylonian Lapidary sign for “uuh”. Uuh also happens to be the chemical symbol for Ununhexium or Livermorium, a rare earth element not identified until the year 2000. This is strange, because this sign is CLEARLY Lapidary, while all the others are in the Neo-Assyrian script. So my conclusion is that Dr Poison isolated Uunhexium 92 years ahead of the game, it’s her big secret, and decided it needed a unique Logogram of its own, for which she adopted the sign for Uuh.

Another humans are weird/space orcs idea that came to me while trying to drink water upside down:

Humans are apex predators. We’re unbreakable and relentless and legion and lethal. Nothing gets to us- except us.

It’s the stupidest little things that can stop up a human.

Many aliens have theorized about this. Perhaps with no natural enemies, the species tried to threaten them with themselves in a desperate search for some kind of challenge. Maybe it’s cosmic karma for being nigh unstoppable. Maybe they had transcended so much that the nuances of life were tiny and incomprehensible to them. Maybe it’s natural selection trying to thin the herd.

Whichever the cause, it’s a strange combination of disturbing and amusing to see a human be defeated by itself. It’s a little alarming to see the most resilient and powerful species in the universe be completely shut down with things that pale in comparison to their normal challenges.

Seeing a human function almost completely fully with several broken bones… but absolutely crippled and reduced to using one arm when faced with a large hangnail.

My dad broke his leg in a snowmobile accident in such a way that the bone was sticking out of his leg. He crawled a half mile in the snow to the nearest house to ask for help. But when he stubs his toe on the coffee table every few weeks, it’ll bring him to his knees.

I recently got a double conch piercing done- two massive needles shoved through the thickest cartilage in my ear, one right after the other. I’ve got 5 other piercings. None, not even the conch, hurt as much as getting a single hair yanked out of my head.

I see people eat some of the world’s hottest foods all laced with capsaicin which can kill things, and drink alcohol that’s literally poisonous, and break pen cases with their teeth. But a too cold slush drink? Unable to talk or move, head between the knees, for about two minutes, because brain freeze. Or, better yet, sometimes we literally choke on spit. Nearly asphyxiate. Because we regularly ‘swallow down the wrong hole’. 

Alien: Why did you say, last month, that your broken ribs and arm and massive blood loss was ‘fine’, but when you got a paper cut today, you cried for ten minutes and now still refuse to unwrap your wound? It is tiny in comparison to some things that you’ve faced without hesitation.

Human: Honestly it’s really stupid and I don’t really know, but I will swear up and down and until the day I die, a broken bone hurts way less than a paper cut.

Alien: But… no. It’s not worse. It… that doesn’t make sense.

Human: I know, right? But it’s true. 

I think one of the things that makes Azula so amazing as a villain and a character is that her breakdown is foreshadowed by her earliest episodes. All the pieces are on the board at the very start, you just don’t realize it. So when the breakdown comes it’s all full of callbacks to earlier behavior and it suddenly feels utterly natural that this person you’ve seen as a nigh-untouchable badass mastermind is coming so undone. It doesn’t come out of nowhere, it was there all along from the very start and we simply forgot about it in the interim because she was being so badass and it had no reason to take effect just yet.

–Her speech to the captain about the tides foreshadows her banishing all her servants and advisors. The captain is totally honest with her despite being scared, that they’re not bringing the ship in just yet because of an issue with the tides. Tides are BIG deal in regards to bringing in a ship but Azula doesn’t care and simply wants her will done now and makes it clear she will harm or kill the captain if he doesn’t do the thing he knows is a bad idea. The man is not delaying for silly reasons or to hide a mistake, he is genuinely making a sound decision about how to bring a ship into port, Azula simply doesn’t care she wants what she wants done now and treats disagreement as disloyalty. Azula perceives anyone subordinate as not doing what she wants for any reason at all to be proof they’re not perfectly loyal.

–The one hair out of place with Lo and Li training her. It shows Azula as a perfectionist, and again, as a control freak. She cares about appearences, which probably ties into her status as a prodigy who has long been praised for being such. She needs to make it look effortless and perfect. But after Boiling Rock this starts to slide. In The Southern Raiders he hair comes down fully during her fight with Zuko and she doesn’t even care–hell, she can’t do anything to fix it since she needs her hand to hang onto the mountain. Then in the finale her hair is an utter disaster, showing just how far she’s fallen. Once again it fully comes down while she’s fighting, and by the time the fight is over and Katara has her restrained she’s a total mess.

–Recruiting Ty Lee. This is where we should have known from the start that Ty Lee’s loyalty to Azula is not absolute by any means. Ty Lee wanted to stay with the circus and only left because of Azula clearly threatening her by having the net set on fire. We see it again in Zuko Alone’s flashbacks, where Azula is obviously jealous of Ty Lee being able to do better gymnastics than her and bullies her for it. Ty Lee is only with Azula out of fear and always has been. Of course if it came down to Azula or Mai she’d choose Mai.

–Recruiting Mai. It’s even more subtle than with Ty Lee but they show why Mai will eventually betray Azula in the same episode Mai debuts in. When Tom-Tom, Mai’s little brother, is in danger and a hostage, Azula makes it clear she doesn’t give a shit about that and that the deal should be off Mai’s not as open as Ty Lee is so she doesn’t seem to react as much but it’s the same situation. Azula wants Mai on her team and doesn’t care what happens to people Mai probably cares about. Thing is, the person Mai cares about most is Zuko, who Azula is hunting. Mai betraying Azula for Zuko becomes more and more of a given as the show establishes Mai’s feelings for him. Meanwhile Azula probably assumed that if Mai was willing to endanger her own little brother for Azula, there would be no conflicts of loyalty regarding Zuko…and was wrong. As Mai said, she miscalculated.

It was all there right from the start of season 2.