Monday, September 19, 2016

Books, Episodes, and Dead Mice

A bit of a grab-bag today, as I have several things I want to say a little bit about, but none which really merit an independent post.  Also, this gives me an excuse to slap four different tags on a single post--there's no good reason why I want to do so (and I could get a couple more on there if I really wanted), but it amuses me, so we're doing that.  Click below the break for a little Episode Talk, some Talk About Actual Books, and my patented Ramblings!

(And if you can't guess what the fourth tag is, you haven't been following this blog nearly long enough)

Episode Talk

I was a bit behind on my episode watching, so I only saw The Fault In Our Cutie Marks this weekend, back-to-back with Viva Las Pegasus.  The former was a pretty "okay" episode for me: some excellent moments (I really liked the CMC's song; griffons are still cool; I'm amused by the implication that ponies are the worst species in Equestria, seeing as creatures without cutie marks can be good at lots of things, instead of just one) paired with some decisions I was more meh on (the song's introduction, with the awkward bobbing in place while staring vacantly forward; I still fundamentally dislike the CMC, and their "cutie mark enforcer" ethos, in their post-cutie mark incarnation).  One thing I really, really liked, though, were all the callbacks to previous episodes.  What, you didn't notice them?  Let's take a look:

First off, we have this obvious call-out to On Your Marks, specifically to the scene where Carrot Top silently sat in judgement of young Tender Taps, and found him wanting.  Here we see that he's been forced off the stage, and is now reduced to making bits as a mere street performer.  Carrot Top nods approvingly, knowing that her cousin Beta is studying at the world-renowned Bullshoi Ballet School.  The knowledge that this penury tap routine merits no comparison to her cousin's brilliant dancing brings a serene smile to her lips.

This, of course, is a more recent reference, taking us back to Buckball Season, and specifically to Carrot Top's haughty rejection of "sportsball."  At Written's insistence (and with the whole "bought your broke flank a ticket home" thing still hanging between them), she decided to try going to a few different sports events, to see if any tickled her fancy a bit more than Buckball did.  Turns out, baseball isn't half-bad!  Nobody minds if you get up in the middle of the game to use the bathroom or get some food, there are plenty of breaks in the action where you can chat with your friends, and those hats are adorable.  Finally, she and Written will have something to talk about other than work!  Everypony wins!

 And finally, we have this shoutout to season one, when Carrot Top was just randomly at every shindig in Equestria, even ones that made no sense for her to be at.   You know, like a cutceniera for some random foreign griffon who doesn't even have a cutie mark.  Carrot keeps a busy schedule, but it used to be that she knew that only a fool turns down a Pinkie Pie Party.  Or any other party, for that matter.  Point is, if there was no bouncer to keep her out and/or an open juice bar, she was there.  As she's gotten older and, hopefully, a little wiser, her tastes in parties have become more selective, and she's stopped randomly showing up in places like Appleloosa or Canterlot just for the hoe-down or soiree du jour, but she still likes to get out and mingle from time to time.  I mean, who doesn't?

As for Viva, it was Carrot Top-free, and so I have much less to say about it.  I like the Flim-Flam brothers, thought the Siegfried and Roy ponies were a little questionable (the pony even had a white tiger cutie mark; do people not remember how that ended?), wished they'd given a song to Elvis Gladmane, found it both baffling and infuriating that "Applejack never lies" was a key plot point when the two ponies who realized this were the same two who who starred in an episode about them getting AJ to lie (or at least, not tell the truth) on their behalf, and was glad that Flim and Flam didn't get redeemed at the end.  They don't need redeeming, anyway; they're slicker than a rain jacket, but being consummate businessponies is no crime (and nopony can prove otherwise!  Our lawyer has advised us to refrain from further comment!).  All in all, another solid outing.  Woo!

Actual Books

I have done very little for-fun reading in the past month, and I doubt you want to hear my thoughts on Improving Gender Relationships in K-6 Classrooms.  I have, however, started one book that's good enough that I want to single it out to recommend.

The Book, by Keith Houston, is a book about the history of books.  Physical books, that is.  It breaks down the materials (why books are made of paper, instead of papyrus, vellum, or something else), method, shape, and general form of the physical book, and looks at why it got to be the specific way it did.  I'm finding the segregation of elements a little annoying (the author takes each specific aspect of bookmaking from invention to the present day, rather than jumping around topics and proceeding chronologically across the book), but the content is interesting and a great mix of well-researched and engaging.  Give it a look if you're interested in a bit of accessable history!


Last week, we found half a mouse on the playground.

By "we" I of course mean "not me."  It was the back half, and although the flies and ants were already digging in, it was still pretty fresh; it had probably been killed the night before by a neighborhood cat or somesuch.

Had I been the one to find the mouse, I probably would have nudge-kicked it over from the asphalt where it was lying into the flower garden a few feet away.  Out of sight, out of mind, and all that.  Had one of the kids found it, I can see a few different ways that things would have played out, ranging from the probable best-case scenarios of "tell the teacher/form a group and stare at it until a teacher notices and comes to see what's going on" to rather less ideal scenarios like "pick it up and throw it at someone."

In fact, though, it was another adult who saw it first.  She elected to respond to this "situation" by screaming loud enough that I thought someone had been hurt, then dramatically ordering kids away (which works exactly as well as you'd expect) until a janitor was summoned to dispose of it.

I mention this story because, I guarantee, there were no second-graders out there who would have reacted with that level of hysterics to half a mouse.  That kind of behavior is learned, and I'm sure that some of the more squeamish kids on the playground that day learned that that was how you deal with things like dead mice--by screaming and hollering until someone comes and takes care of the problem for you.

It's not a big deal, really--nobody's life is likely to be ruined by over-reacting to rodent parts--but given that every episode of MLP seems to provoke another round of "is this a good moral for kids?"-ing, I thought it was worth mentioning.  Kids aren't so stupid or fragile that a single mangled moral will ruin their lives, but they learn how to interact with the world from their experiences, whether that's the people around them or the television they consume.

Nobody's life is likely to be ruined by over-reacting to rodent parts... but it'd still be nice, all things being equal, if we didn't condone and promote that behavior in the first place.


  1. Something just tickles me about the phrase "soiree du jour," i.e., evening of the day.

  2. You neglected the possibility of a child eating the mouse. At that age, I'm pretty sure most of them are smart enough not to, but there's always that weird kid

    I actually would like to hear your thoughts on that first book. Also, the second one sounds interesting

    1. I don't think I've got any kids who would eat it. By that age, kids with that poor of judgement are typically getting special attention.

      My thoughts on Gender Relations are that I don't recommend it unless you're teaching in a K-6 classroom with a significant number of students who aren't culturally equipped for American-style gender equity. But then, maybe I'm just cranky.

    2. Sometimes the system overlooks us :P

  3. Is The Book available on Kindle?