Category Archives: Crochet

Fate/Zero and Snazzy Dishcloths

In preparation for a move to a new apartment, I’ve been whipping up some dishcloths.  I’m really fond of this shell stitch pattern I found at http://www.examiner.com/article/simple-shell-dishcloth-pattern-to-crochet.  I used Lily’s Sugar & Cream cotton yarn (which I always call Sugar & Spice for some reason) and settled in for a Netflix marathon of Fate/Zero.

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SPOILERS COMING ‘ATCHA

A summary: Seven people with some sort of magical talent, or ties to it, are chosen by the Holy Grail (yes, that Holy Grail) to battle to the death for it in order to gain a wish. There’s also some backstory about three powerful Mage families and their ties to the Grail, but whatever.  These seven chosen ones then summon a Servant from one of seven classes: Saber, Archer, Rider, Lancer, Berserker, Caster, and Assassin.  These Servants are legendary heroes, each with specific abilities and strengths that either complement or are the antithesis to the Masters who have summoned them.  These Servants then fight on behalf of their Master for the Grail.  By the end of the series, a lot of people die, long discussions are held, mead is drunk, and there is an abundance of dark and creepy weirdness before everything goes to hell.

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Fate/Zero was an interesting series on several counts.  I loved the philosophical discussions that arose between the Servants as to what true kingship is, as a few of the servants actually claimed that title; King Arthur (Arturia), Gilgamesh, and Alexander/Iskandur the Great.  It raised questions about what it meant to be a leader, whether it be through power, riches, conquest, or your connection with the people you are ruling over.  I felt like I was back in my Arthurian Legends class, examining why King Arthur’s rule was so different from those who came before and after him, and how those other rulers might view his ideals.  Needless to say, I loved the dialogue between these legendary characters, and despite a few surprising creative decisions (Hi female King Arthur!), it felt like the creators had done their homework in researching each hero.

Among the heroes, the weak link (in character, though he wasn’t the strongest in combat, either) seemed to be Assassin. There could have been subtleties that I didn’t catch, but as a whole, he/she/they were just the creepers in the corner that were tricky and expositionful.  Not a lot to learn from him/her/them, whereas Arturia and Iskandur were a veritable fountain of character quirks, personality, and charisma.  And occasionally lightning.

In fact, for the most part, I actually found that the Servants were more interesting than their Masters.  This could totally be because of they are based on pre-existing lore, which is always my jam.  For example, I was more intrigued by Saber’s journey through her own doubts and weaknesses than I was with her Master, Kiritsugu, ‘s background story.  Don’t get me wrong – he was very interesting and rightfully angsty.  His background was sufficiently fascinating and could have been an entire series by itself.  I just found Saber’s story to be even more so, helped along by her being constantly challenged not only in battle, but in her ideals and worldview.  It was this way for most of the Servant v. Master dynamics.  Of course it is beautifully animated (That sky battle! Those lightning oxen! Giant pools of blooood!), the music was gorgeous, the character designs were fun, and all of that.  But it was the character dynamics, especially between the Servants, that compelled me the most throughout the series.

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The plot was a bit of a struggle, as the first few episodes are a massive info dump, and it was rather difficult to keep characters straight for a while.  I may need to go back and watch the first few episodes again now that I have finished, but as a first time watcher, they made it really difficult to understand the plot and give an errant fart about was happening.  And at a certain point, the push for the grail becomes quite secondary, as it was far more interesting to watch the characters interact than focus on whatever the grail plot was doing.  Seeping a lot and being corrupted, I guess.

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But the characters each had a story and a NEED for the grail that was so well-developed (barring a few early ones, such as Ryunosuke/Caster and Kayneth/Lancer, both of whom were great fun to watch) that by the end of the series when all of the hells break loose, you KNOW people are going to die, and it really is difficult to pinpoint who – if anyone – will be victorious.  There are some outliers of course.  Some we have more information about (Kiritsugu/Saber, Karia/Archer) and thus could be considered our main protagonists(?), so it is most likely one of them will prevail. But even those who do not have that advantage are built so well that it wouldn’t be surprising for them to be the dark horse and come away victorious.  The true ending pulls the rug right out from under you in terms of what you expect, but I loved not being able to predict what the outcome was supposed to be, and was even happier when it was completely different.  A downer of the highest caliber, but different.

Sidenote: More than your usual amount of ladies getting choked to death in this anime… twice it was the same lady.  And the other one, Tokiomi’s wife… I guess only mostly died?  Why… why so much lady violence, Fate/Zero?  Not cool.

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SO MANY CHARACTERS.

It’s time for Super Simplified Character Rundowns! These are the main traits I used to keep all of the characters straight throughout this sprawling series.  Feel free to use them yourself, or cackle at my incompetency.

Saber/Arturia – Kicks ass; contemplates philosophies; needs new motorcycle

IrisvielAll homunculi have weird eyes; high-pitched ladyvoice; full of secrets and other fluids

Kiritsugu – Haunted by past; gunslinger; surprisingly noble, but breaks stuff

Mariya – Quiet killer; shady implied past; unknown relationship dynamics… just shady in general, she was

Kariya – Extremely nutty family (understatement); good intentions; Berserker was fitting

Berserker – Crazy visuals; crazy character reveal; crazy in general

Archer/Gilgamesh – Stay golden, prettyboy; errbody be mongrels; Vash Hair

Tokiomi – Goatee of irritating ideals; sucky father and Master; I seriously forgot about you until I was making this list

Rider/Iskandur – Big muscles & big heart; perpetually jovial; surprisingly heartwrenching

Waver Velvet – Wanted to flick him; Slytherin outcast?; thanks, character development!

Grandma/Grandpa “Velvet” – Easily bamboozled; stargazers; know more than they let on

Lancer/Diarmund – Badass prettyboy; good team player; wish he could have stuck around longer

Kayneth – Creepy pureblood; remains creepy and tortured; ends creepy in a wheelchair

Sola-Ui – A giant NOPE to any proposal you will ever make concerning anything, ever

Ryunosuke – Killing insanity funtimes; amazingly amiable; Hi Johnny Yong Bosch!

Caster – Dem bug eyes; is he as big as his giant robe, or….?; intriguingly, and irredeemably, insane

Kirei – Christian stoic; sporadic loyalties; I constantly got you confused with Kiritsugu, you bloodlust maniac

Assassin – Skullface reconnaissance; easily killed; perches in plain sight

I know I’ve missed several characters, either because they didn’t show up often, or I just couldn’t think of anything in particular to say about them. Or I genuinely could not remember their names and I got lazy. *sad trombone sound* Oh, well. Most of the characters were great.  If you’ve seen the show, feel free to leave your own Super Simplified Character Rundowns in the comments!

Tying off:   Fate/Zero was beautifully animated and raised some interesting questions about the nature of leadership. And while it struggled in the plot department wandered into an abundance of exposition-dumping, the characters carried the series through their sheer charm.

And I now have four and a half dishcloths!  I still need to weave in the ends of the second stripy one and finish the bright orange, probably with the black border:

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I highly recommend the shell stitch pattern I linked earlier; it makes for a lovely-looking, yet highly efficient dishcloth.  They turned out pretty rad, since I’m a sucker for bright colors paired with black. What will happen in the next thrilling installment of CineCrochet?  Tune in next time, gentle reader, for more insane hook and analysis action!

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Pictured: Action!

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“The Strain” and a Shrug

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Fox Network

After the return from my Virginia City internship, a fleet of DVRed episodes awaited me. So how else to celebrate my return than binge-watching a ton of episodes and work on a crochet project? Well, probably unpacking… But where’s the fun in that? I won’t be able to immerse myself in B-movie creatures and crazy subplots in my suitcase. One would hope.

I won’t go into full-summary territory as I usually do, but rather comment on aspects of the episodes as they appear. This will hopefully be followable for watchers/readers, or it will be totally confusing and I’ll be kicked off WordPress for my audacity. Let’s find out! So here’s the pattern: ( file:///C:/Users/Elise/Downloads/Hot_Blue_Shrug2.pdf ) and off we go!

Note: Spoilers for the books and series abound. Be warned, dear readers.

1: Night Zero

It’s been quite some time since I read Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s book series The Strain. I mostly remember loving the dark, body-horror reviving of the vampire, taking the creature back to its roots – before Bram Stoker gave it the romanticized edge we know so well today. And I don’t think I’ve gone into it much, but book-to-film adaptations make me nervous. Luckily, I had almost forgotten that this was in the works for a series, so it didn’t give me much time to fret until it actually came out. This also gave me very little time for a re-read. Thus, I’m remembering things about the books, yet not remembering them. Some things are familiar as they appear in the series, and some leave me questioning my sanity.

The Strain opens much as I remember. The description of the “dead airplane” was in fact the bit of writing that stuck with me the most, even after so many years. The heaviness and mystery that was almost palpable in the books is done somewhat of a disservice already, as it is being investigated by airline personnel shuffling their feet and muttering clunky dialogue.

Also, it seems like they’re laying the foreshadowing on pretty thick already.  I don’t think we found out who was responsible for the outbreak of vampirism until much later in the books. But I wonder if they are trying to do the entire three-book series in one sort of miniseries/extended seasons event, so the shuffling makes some sense. I don’t agree with it from a storytelling perspective, but it makes sense.

Can I just say how much I love the multi-racial and multi-lingual cast in del Toro’s works?  The only thing that would make it completely unique would be if our main protagonist (Ephriam Goodweather) wasn’t a white American male, but he has a strange enough name that I kind of give him a pass. Speaking of characters and casting – Sean Astin is here, y’all! I don’t actually remember his character much, but he’s now played by Sean Astin, so my day is a little brighter.

The introduction of Abraham Setrakian, Elderly Vampire Hunter Extrordinaire, is very well done. As is the intro of Gus. Most of our Scoobies are coming together, some earlier than others.

Meanwhile, it’s my mother’s birthday as I write and watch, so I’m belatedly making her a present from the previously mentioned  pattern she chose off Ravelry, and from some a pile of yarn she bought because she liked the color… and it was on sale. So I’ve got a light grey shrug being worked up, and here’s my progress at the end of the first episode:

Shrug 1I would have been farther, I think, but I unraveled a bit to add more stitches to the base chain. It’s going to be pretty interesting, methinks!

2: The Box

Rat guy is here! I freakin’ love Vasily Fet. Besides Abraham Setrakian, the gigantic exterminator is my favorite character in the books.

For real, they seem to be moving the Palmer plot along rather quickly. And Vampire Nazi seems to be given a bit more character development than in the books already. Well, maybe development is the wrong word. Character backstory?

The misleading of the media is very well portrayed, as well as the public reaction. Everyone wants immediate answers. Often, the public will not accept a “we do not know, but we will keep researching” when there is a far easier target for blame. It’s a fascinating commentary, and shows how easily facts can be turned and obscured with falsehoods. It’s been done before, but I enjoy the way it plays out as the insidiousness of the virus parallels that of certain corporations.

Favorite quote: “I’m passive-aggressive and actively aggressive, which I’m told is a rare combination.” – Eph. Who is also awful at understanding people. And is kind of an idiot sometimes.

Progress!

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3: Gone Smooth

We’re going all Phantom of the Opera at the beginning of this episode with a prolonged makeup scene. In fact, our favorite resident Nazi Guy bears a striking resemblance to Lon Chaney. But in all seriousness, there are some pretty great practical effects for this part.

The horror is really starting to kick in, and the show remains in good form in the hammy acting department: “I’m home now. I’m fine. We’re going to be fine.” Haha! Nope.

Meanwhile, parts fall off. Captain gets head bashed in. Seems to be a theme.  Soooo many brain spatters.

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4: It’s Not for Everyone

What you need to take away from this episode: Errbody’s genitals be gone.

One of the things I appreciated about the book was the scientific aspects. Not that I know much about science, but I like at least the attempt to explain the transformation from human to vampire.

Just.. the whole autopsy scene is great. Do I just really like dissections, either of prose or of bodies? Maybe. Don’t judge.

The close up of the vampire stinger looks awfully similar to another campy horror appendage… Tremors, anyone?

Following the surviving passengers again, I like how you wouldn’t expect Ansel to take the heroic route once he realized what was happening to him. It was a sort of fascinating character progression, and the secret badassness of his wife doesn’t hurt either. This progression is even more strange when they are really just super-secondary characters.

It was storming during the end of this episode on my DVR, so bits and pieces are missing. But I gathered that the plot thickens as Palmer throws yet another veil over the eyes of those in power. Those guys will be able to take part-time jobs as gypsies with all of the veils they’ve got over their eyes.

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5: Runaways

Plane Survivor Gabe has gone off the deep end and bloodily kills a couple of people. Haven’t seen the lawyer survivor in a while…

Op! There she is! But by the end of the episode she’s off to crazyville and poor Nanny Eva is now saddled with two kids who can’t cook.

During flashback: Does the master really have to be so frickin’ noisy while he’s eating? How has no one else in that tiny, confined place woken up from his slurping racket?

Meanwhile, the secretly badass religious lady could only last so long. With the addition of her death, there are now two sets of brother-and-sister orphan teams with very few lines of dialogue running around, and it’s only the fifth episode.

6: Occultation

Aww hell, an eclipse is coming! Not the crappy book/movie, but rather the solar event. And you know what that means!  That’s right – The un(?)dead walk the earth and do the bidding of The Master! Whee!

Also, there’s a random guy in his underwear chained up in Nazi Lon Chaney’s basement. He doesn’t serve any purpose other than to remind us that Nazi Lon Chaney is a vampire… But at least it’s not a nubile young lady trapped in a basement for once.

Clueless Boyfriend goes into straight-up asshole territory as he calls the authorities on Eph.

I quite like the scene of Abraham reaching out to the cab driver – he knows he can’t keep working alone. They don’t pile on his elderliness too much – in fact, I remember times in the books where he’s swinging away with the sword and you completely forget how old he is. But every once in a while, his fragility wins out, and David Bradley plays it with just the right amount of pathos.

I love that with the cell phone problems, people are using the increasingly rare public telephones. And telephone books! And Nora even tore a page out of one! Hooray tropes!

Fet’s boss has the distinction of the first critter to have death by sunlight! His fiery, crackling demise is followed by my favorite line of the episode: “Okay then…”

It would have been nice to see more of the extent of the damage the strain has caused, but I suppose it’s still gradual. But we’re losing observers from outside the Scooby group left and right, narrowing our focus on the scope of events. That’s a bummer, but maybe that will help the writers focus on developing the main characters a bit more.

As for the project, I’ve attached 2nd skein of yarn, and am trundling away at the shrug. This is a pretty neat pattern, but I’m worried about the length…

7: For Services Rendered

Poor Husband-of-Lawyer didn’t last long. Neither did the nanny’s nurse/daughter. It’s a rough time to be a newly introduced secondary character; you’re pretty much guaranteed to be vamp fodder.

Flashback: Abraham is crafting the infamous box, and it looks fabulous. This particular episode is heavy on the flashbacks, which I am okay with. In many ways, I prefer it to the modern day (Not the least reason is because Abraham is the main focus instead of Eph.)

Later, Nazi Guy jumps on the side of a train like a Third Reich Spider-Man.

Random vampire vigilantes? Not sure I remember them…

Favorite line: “This is New York City. Weird shit goes down out there all the time.”

8: Creatures of the Night

Finally, they’ve run into Fet! The dream team is almost complete.

Sean Astin has rotten luck and is infected.

I’m pretty sure this Walking Dead scenario did not happen in the books. However, the pacing is good, and it’s kind of nice for the gang to be out and about, rather than skulking in the basement. I could have done without the broad racial stereotype of the Indian guy, though. But at least the show acknowledges Indian people exist…?

Side Note: Computer Lady looks like Ke$ha. But in a slightly less bedraggled/hungover way.

9: The Disappeared

The gang finds Clueless Boyfriend as a zombie, kill him, light his body on fire. Eph and Nora then have a sex scene. NOW IS NOT THE TIME.

Best line, as everyone arrives back at Setrakian’s, Nora’s mother pops up behind the counter. “Who are these people? I’m not cooking for them!”

Everyone is always saved at the last minute in this show… well, in almost every show. It’s kind of trite and clichéd, but boy is it entertaining. That’s a pretty apt description of the entire series so far –

Tying off:

The writing and dialogue of The Strain has several struggle spots, and a few of the characters are awful people who are difficult to root for. But the effects and design of the creatures, as well as the fight sequences and flashbacks are entertaining enough to (mostly) bypass the rough stuff. The rough can be distracting, but not every series has to be Avatar: The Last Airbender (as an example of TV done right). As long as it is entertaining without insulting the intelligence of the viewer, I can get behind it. The Strain has succeeded in that respect.

So here is the crochet project so far! I have a quite a few rows to go yet, and hopefully it will turn into something usable by that time… Its size is making me nervous.

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Hook Saga: The Return of CineCrochet

Well, my plan backfired on me. I told y’all that I would have more frequent posts, and look at this… 8 months after the fact, here I am.  I got a lot of projects done while watching a lot of movies/tv shows/cows walking by the house, so I thought I’d just do a quick running list from memory, and grace you with the corresponding links and pictures if I have them available, to catch you up. An exhaustive analysis of each of these films will not do, since I’m long-winded anyway, and talking about each movie separately will require a novella. So I’ll limit myself to a rating and quick summary. You know how hard that will be, gentle readers, but I will do my best. And here we go: some of the stuff I did while on an unintended, but frequently occurring, blog hiatus!

 

Porco Rosso and Continuing Granny Squares

9/10

Porco Rosso was a lot of fun to watch, and quickly became one of my favorite Ghibli films. It’s a departure from the Badass Heroine in a Mystical Land trope I usually gravitate toward, but the characters in this flick won me over. The titular character, Porco, is a particularly snarky enigma, once I got past Michael Keaton’s voice in the dub. It’s not that he was bad, just mildly distracting, since is voice is so familiar. But It’s a great historically-based magical realism romp. With planes. And pigs.

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Castle in the Sky and Continuing Granny Squares

7/10

I love the idea of Castle in the Sky. The story is quite original, and I got invested in the motivations of several of the characters. But the idea was hobbled by some weird casting in the voice acting department. I’ve heard worse, of course; there are some terrible dubs and VA performances out there. However, I think since it was coming from a Ghibli film, it hit me really hard how grating Sita’s voice was. And as a Ghibli heroine, she is not the strongest, but the supporting cast was very entertaining – Cloris Leachman in particular. I’d recommend it if you’re on a Ghibli kick, as the animation is gorgeous as always, and the story is interesting. Just be warned. THAT VOICE.

 

Departures and Continuing Granny Squares

10/10

I freakin’ love Departures. It is the best movie I’ve ever seen that deals with death, because it does it in such a refreshing and honest way. In some ways it’s a contradiction – it’s practical, yet heartwarming; comedic, yet deeply sad. It is the best depiction of death as a natural part of life that I have ever seen, and I strongly recommend it to anyone and everyone. A special thanks goes out to my Religion and Film professor, Dr. Roy Hammerling, for first introducing me to the film, and to my parents for putting up with me when I made them watch it. Now you should go watch it – it’s still on Netflix as of the writing of this article.

 

Kramer Vs. Kramer and Shopping Bags

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A riveting story, two amazing leads, and a beautiful setting. Kramer vs. Kramer was a great watch, and there’s not much to say other than that!

While watching, I made two shopping bags for my friends overseas – one for Emily in London and another for Steph in Argentina.

 

 

 

 

 

Roman Holiday and Marilee’s Hat

7/10

https://web.archive.org/web/20130613002217/http://www.crochettoday.com/files/patterns-pdf/FloralCloche_0.pdf

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While working on a hat for my aunt Marilee, I watched the Hepburn/Peck classic, and quite enjoyed it. It’s a familiar story, though probably less familiar at the time, of a royal escaping her structured life and going out among the people, only to meet a rougish love interest who shows her the world, but is keeping secrets from her that will drive a wedge between them in the third act. Yes, I made the Aladdin reference on purpose. No, I’m not sorry.

It’s a sweet little movie with some lovely cinematography. It’s almost as though Gregory Peck is going for a Carey Grant-type character, but he does well enough. Hepburn is sparkly and engaging as she flits through the film. It’s well worth a watch, as it is a classic for a reason, just be prepared for a storyline that will be familiar before it even begins.

 

Star Trek: the Next Generation and a Plethora

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Mittens for the lovely Jan

-Jan’s Mittens

-Alicia’s Baby Sweaters – http://www.mooglyblog.com/eloise-baby-sweater/

-A bunch of other stuff that I can’t remember

I’m not quite done with this series, so this, and the following, will need to wait to have judgement passed. But as of the fifth season, it’s been a lot of fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Xena: Warrior Princess and a Plethora

7/10

Again, I haven’t finished the series, but I’ve been watching it on and off over the last few years – even a bit back when I was still in school.  So the things I have worked on during watching it are numerous, and these are just a few that I can remember:

-A multitude of slouchy hats with various continuations

-Alicia’s Baby Hats – http://thedaintydaisyblog.blogspot.com/2010/04/shell-stitch-beanie.html

-Alicia’s Baby Booties

-Doily shawl – https://web.archive.org/web/20130829022125/http://www.caron.com/projects/ss_eco/sseco_pineapple_shawl.html

Xena is a campy hoot. It’s very episodic (at least in the first two seasons I’ve seen) with vague threads of continuing storyline. So some of the episodes are hit and miss, but the strongest ones for me are the ones that have an actual impact on the storyline, which tend to be multi-parters. Lucy Lawless is kickass and snarkily hilarious as Xena, but she also plays dramatic very well. Renee O’Connor, Gabrielle, provides a nice foil as the optimistic storyteller, but she has had a nice character arc making her also tough and realistic. Produced by Sam Rami (Evil Dead, Spider-Man, Drag Me to Hell), you can expect to have plenty of heart with your cheese when you watch Xena.  I might have to do a follow-up on this one when I finish the series, as it is lengthy, with a lot to discuss.

 

And last but not least, Twin Peaks and a Plethora

A fascinating 1990 TV series produced, and occasionally directed and written by David Lynch (Eraserhead, Elephant Man), Twin Peaks is fluid and unpredictable, therefore a follow-up will be required for a full discussion. So here are the projects I have worked on so far while watching it:

-Dalek shawl – http://crochetvolution.com/summer-2014/deco

-Bowl cozy

-Pineapple Doily – http://web.archive.org/web/20071231131255/www.angelfire.com/folk/celtwich/Doublepine.html

 

Well, if you’ve made it this far, congratulations! You’ve stuck with my rambling nonsense long enough to rewarded with a killer music video. I will hopefully be posting more regularly as my life settles down, but I’ve said that before… I’ll see you next month, readers! Keep shining!


Holiday Miscellany and Miyazaki, Post the First: The Cat Returns

Apparently I only get these things done during the holidays – sorry for the delay, all! I also renewed my New Year’s resolution from last year to do this blog, and I feel like now that I’ve told you that, I have no choice but to do it more often. Because now you know, dear reader, and you’re watching…. Always watching.

Now that I’ve creeped up your day, let’s get to the topic of today’s post – Miyazaki and Holiday Miscellany. Frantically working on several projects in the dark days before Christmas, I watched several films, so there will probably be several blog posts. I also just realized that this is the first CineCrochet post about an actual movie. Hurrah for actually following my own criteria! In keeping with the Japanese theme of my previous, long-ago post, let’s break out our crochet hooks and whimsy. The time has come for a peek into the flight-filled, pig-populated, and generally wonderful world of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli.

What better way to incorporate lengthy spells of crocheting than with a movie marathon? Well, there are probably several better ways, but few would involve the works of Studio Ghibli. Before this marathon, I was familiar with the ‘Big Name’ Miyazaki movies; the ones any film student worth their salt could name off, your Spirited Away-s, Princess Mononoke-s, and My Neighbor Totoro-s. I’ve adored all of these, with my favorite being Princess Mononoke. So this time, I decided to delve a little deeper into the Ghibli pantheon and begin with the studio’s lesser-known films, starting with The Cat Returns (2002).

To accompany me on this cinematic adventure, I began making a passel of granny squares to be used for makeshift earwarmers and whatever else I can come up with fr Christmas gifts The earwarmers are a pattern I just sort of made up after realizing I hadn’t made granny squares in a coon’s age, and the time had come. Here’s a granny square pattern just in case you’re curious about that sort of thing and off we go! And beware, dear reader – Spoilers Abound.

The Cat Returns is a rather unassuming little Ghibli film. It doesn’t have the bombast or depth of Mononoke, for example, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It opens with our main character, Haru, voiced by a pre-Les Miserables, but post-Princess Diaries, Anne Hathaway. Haru is an awkward but completely normal and quietly hilarious girl. Some of the lines that Hathaway comes up with in this dub are just gold – I never really thought of her as a comedic actress (Never much cared for The Princess Diaries – imagine the appalled gasps of my classmates when I was in junior high), but here she has some line deliveries and ad-libs that had me surprised-laugh more than once. Hathaway’s dub is really strong, and she adds a lot to a character that could very easily have been annoying in the hands (mouth?) of a lesser actor.

Haru never seems to be able to disembark from the struggle bus. She wakes up late for school constantly, the boy she likes doesn’t know she exists, she’s kind of a weird, put-upon outcast. Not in a blatant way, but you only see her hang out with one or two people her own age.

This all changes when she rescues a cat who just wanders out into the street like it ain’t no thang (seriously – am I overthinking it, or does that cat deliberately go out into the street. It looks right at the cars like it KNOWS… I need to start a blog that just allows me to overthink things like this. We’ll call it Elise Never Shuts Up About Trivial Happenings in Film.) Our protagonist snatches the cat off the road with a lacrosse stick and is rewarded by making her question her sanity when the cat gets up on its hind legs, brushes itself off, and thanks her for saving him. This suicidal fellow (but not… it’s just… YOU KNEW THE CARS WERE GOING TO MOVE. WHY ARE WE PRETENDING YOU DIDN’T?) happens to be the prince of the Cat Kingdom. In saving his life, Haru will now be showered with all of the wondrous gifts that a cat kingdom can bestow.

They’re pretty terrible gifts. Hopefully that’s not a harbinger for these earwarmers. Anyway, the cats are obviously familiar enough with the human world that they know where to find Haru, and how to interact with things while just seeming to be ordinary, non-English speaking creatures. Who are also not bipedal. But they gift her with things like catnip and mice in wee boxes stuffed into her locker. You would think they would be aware that there are not things that humans would enjoy. The scope of the cats’ ineptitude is pretty hilarious, actually. Confusing, considering their obvious knowledge, but hilarious.

Meanwhile, on the crocheting front, I’m cranking out squares like an octogenarian preparing for the local craft show. Lookit ‘em all! And I’m only about a third into the film! I’d forgotten how easy granny squares are. For realz, give ‘em a try at home, folks!

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Haru is fed up with these cats and their awful gift-giving. She complains to a little toadie cat, who offers her the final, most wondrous gift : she will be married to the Cat Prince that she had saved. While Haru considers this for only a moment – she doesn’t fit in well in the human world, perhaps the world of cats would better suit her – she quickly comes to her senses and tries to protest to The Toadie who has already taken off to tell the good news to the King of Cats. Who is like a perpetually drunk, bug-eyed old hippie… in cat form and voiced by Tim Curry. Just… just let that roll around in your head for a bit.

Panicked, because Haru knows that despite her protestations she will be carried off the cat kingdom regardless, she hears a mysterious voice telling her to seek help at the Cat Bureau. There, she meets Poofy Peter Boyle Cat, Stone Elliot Gould Raven, and Dapper-Ass Carey Elwes Cat Figurine… Cat. Don’t judge – it’s about as logical as his actual name, Baron Humbert von Gikkigen. The voice actors for these characters are a kick, but for different reasons.

Peter Boyle is very odd as a voice actor. He has a kind of deadpan sound to most of his lines, as if he’s very obviously reading them. But somehow this translates perfectly to his bored, sarcastic character, so I end up laughing whenever he speaks nonetheless. He’s just a hoot and one of my favorite things in this film.

Elliot Gould was driving me crazy – it took me way longer to place his voice than it should have. But the banter between his character and Peter Boyle Cat is great, since they’re both legendary smartasses.

Ah, Carey Elwes. Your voice is a balm for the Anglophile soul. I know it’s not your real accent, but’s just so damn beautiful. You can do no wrong. (Until this theory is tested in Porco Rosso).

These characters assure Haru that they will  protect her from the ‘generosity’ of the cats. Peter Boyle Cat had been banished from the kingdom long ago, and knows it best. They begin making plans for how to reason with or just straight-up avoid the cats of the Cat Kingdom. Then The Toadie appears like a stalker and interrupts the tea party to carry Haru away on a sea of cats. A sea of cats with magic portal powers. Just when you think the movie can’t get any weirder, it goes and does something like give cats magic portal powers.

Elliot Gould Raven and Dapper-Ass Carey Elwes are in hot pursuit, with Peter Boyle Cat also struggling to stay on the sea of cats, trying to reach Haru. The cat fleet jumps into a portal, and Dapper and the Raven just barely miss it. They need to find another way to get to Haru, as she is now trapped in the Cat Kingdom.

While this was going on, I realized you never really know when to stop when making Granny Squares. It’s like eating Lays. Or playing Doodle Jump. Once you start, it gets more and more difficult to quit. Before you know it, your hands are covered in grease, yarn is everywhere, and you’ve just spent all of your hard-jumped coins on a sumo outfit.

After that fever dream, Haru wakes up in the cat kingdom. She is suddenly much smaller than Peter Boyle Cat, and he and the other residents explain that she is slowly beginning to turn into a cat. She needs to get out of there quickly, but they’re taken into the kingdom by a more polite fleet of castle cats, and the madness only persists.

Haru begins turning into a cat and bugging out and Peter Boyle Cat dies in a bowl of catnip jelly and is wheeled about like a horrifying crown jewel. Only he’s not really dead, just sleeping in an agonized manner…? It’s not really explained, as he just pops out of the jelly jar and stars bashing heads when the time comes.

I have plenty of squares by this point, and need to figure out a way to connect them while minimizing the derpiness factor. And I’ve taken to finishing them and just tossing them on the floor, creating a carpetlike effect. It’s pretty keen. I began joining them with sc along one edge, tying off, and working the next one in line.

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Once I have seven squares joined (they go around my wee head with room to spare, so I assume it would fit the head of a normal human), I join them in a circle and sc around the top and bottom edges. They look kind of like film strips, actually. How fitting.

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Back in the film, we find that apparently it is a requirement for Carey Elwes characters to appear in their movie in a mask, expecting not be recognized. And to be dapper as hell. However, he declares that he is “exactly who he appears to be.”

Which is: The Lycanthrope Count of Monte Cristo

The rest of the film is pretty much a race against time to get Haru out of the Cat Kingdom before she becomes a cat forever. I’ve spoiled enough already, and I don’t want to give away the ending to those who have not seen it, as it is rather touching.

 

And now for something new on CineCrochet – a multitude of headings!

Various Thoughts:

Instead of assaulting you with (mostly) derivative things during the recap, these things now get their own section. Rejoice!

Did I mention that the epitome of a person (or cat) in this world is the “coolness” they exude; “I just think he’s so darn cool!” says Haru of her crush, and the same is said of Cat Prince by The Toadie. It’s just a weird anachronism of the movie. I found it mildly distracting, but not enough to keep it from being enjoyable.

Do only cats with tux markings get promoted to being bodyguards?

“King of cat kingdom, the CAT KING!” – Master of Obvious Ceremonial Titles

Did the cats steal all of those lacrosse sticks? Do they have a Lacrosse Stick-Making Factory in the Cat Kingdom? Or is there an owner of a nearby sporting goods store weeping at the loss of all of his/her lacrosse inventory?

That specialized eraser-beating stick is boss.

How does one go about making their own special blend of tea?

Why does a member of the cat band have a dumpster on his head? I would imagine it makes it difficult to play his clarinet/flute. (Clute?) I wish I could find a picture for you to see what I am talking about, but the internet is refusing to oblige.

 

The Waking Nightmare Award:

There are several moments in the running for this most prestigious award. For example:

How many riotously-laughing subjects are killed during an average dinner party in the Cat Kingdom? Is there just a pile of corpses beneath the window of the ballroom?

There are also giant floating disembodied eyes floating around the Cat Kingdom. They’re apparently like CCTV for the king, controlled via remote. But that knowledge doesn’t lessen the creepy. They just kind of show up and are never mentioned again.

However, the award has to go to Maybe-Dead Peter Boyle Cat Trapped in Catnip Jelly. The horror…

 

Best Single-Line Character:

“Maybe she has some catnip on her.” – Never Acknowledged Hipster-Glasses Girl

 

Favorite Miyazaki Trademark:

The Female Hero. Haru’s a different one, as she so average and relatable. We can talk all day about Princess Mononoke, but it can be agreed that San is hardly an average girl. With Haru, you can imagine yourself reacting similar to how she does. She’s not over-the-top, she knows when to be quiet and when to speak her mind, she’s funny, awkward, kind of dense, and eventually, very comfortable with herself. She’s a bit of a damsel in distress, but with as little knowledge as she has of the cat world, I’m not sure she could have managed a lot of this stuff on her own. She does what she can, but she’s also not afraid to ask for help when she needs it.

 

Tying Off:

I still have a passel of granny squares to find something to do with, but the headbands I ended up with look pretty legit.

The Cat Returns, for all of the grief I give it, was a thoroughly enjoyable little flick. It has the potential to be annoying, but comes across as endearing instead. It has a strong voice cast, lovely animation, and is weird as hell. The plot is a bit of a struggle, but if you’re willing to look past it and just go along for the ride, it’s decent enough. If you’re looking for some Ghibli that’s simple, but still full of wonder, this will fit the bill and then some.

 

Next Time on CineCrochet:

Holiday Miscellany and Miyazaki, Part the Second: Porco Rosso.

Will yours truly find a use for all of these granny squares? Will minds be blown by a flick in which pigs can fly? But most importantly, will the post be done within a timely manner (not four months after the fact)? Stay tuned!

 


Baby Booties & Fullmetal Alchemist

(Originally published August 31, 2013 on scenesandstitches.blogspot.com by Elise Dukart)

“Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. This is alchemy’s first law of equivalent exchange. In those days, we really believed that to be the world’s one and only truth.”
Sorry I’ve not updated for a while, what with school and graduating and general forgetfulness. However, since I have been home taking the summer off, I’ve seen some wonderful things and done plenty of crocheting while doing so, including the Marx brothers classic Duck Soup, some amazing Kurosawa flicks, various incarnations of StarTrek, and all but tying my mother to a chair to get her to watch Doctor Who. Despite this, the only media-related crochet project I documented in pictures is something a little different, and requires a bit of backstory.
There has been a veritable baby-palooza among those I know in the past few months. Just… Babies everywhere. Thus, I got it in my head to make some baby booties. Then I realized that booties are stupidly easy to make, and a good use for all of my extra bits of fingering/sport weight yarn, so I made a crapton of the buggers.
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Rockin’ everywhere.
While all of this was happening, I discovered Fullmetal Alchemist.
I imagine that a large portion of my readers (for some reason mainly consisting of former teachers… but I love you all!) are unfamiliar with Fullmetal Alchemist, but the few that are familiar are rolling their eyes. “Just discovered it?” these people are muttering to themselves before a glowing screen, “It’s only the biggest anime ever to infiltrate America! How could you have missed it, dopey?”
And to that I say – well, I really have no defense. Other than the fact that I was about 12 when it came out and more preoccupied with Hey Arnold! and Harry Potter and the like. I also haven’t watched a whole lot of anime, so it wasn’t exactly part of my normal repertoire. And no, FMA people, I haven’t watched any of the movies orBrotherhood. Honestly, I don’t know if they will spoil the original series for me, so watching them is up in the air for now.
But I’m getting off track. There’s plenty of time to talk about such things in future posts. And this post has the potential to be very long indeed, so there’s no time for tangents (she wrote, as she dedicated an entire paragraph to said tangent).
*AHEM*
Using Haley Missingham’s (super well-written) pattern for newborn baby booties, I made a wicked metric ton of wee shoes both using her design and variations I made up myself. Here’s a sole of one of ’em:
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I started watching Full Metal Alchemist on a whim. I had heard the name before, having grown up on Cartoon Network and seeing it advertised, but had never paid much attention to it. That’s because it would have scarred me for life in the best possible way.
  

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With odd puppy creatures! Except not…

FMA is about two brothers who are very skilled in alchemy, a science that causes something to be created from something else, similar to how transfiguration is used in Harry Potter, but more often used with inanimate objects. When they are still quite young, the boys’ mother dies, and they attempt to bring her back with alchemy – a great taboo. The transmutation goes horribly wrong, and the older brother, Edward, loses an arm and a leg while Alphonse loses his entire body. They barely survive, and decide to join the military to get access to files that will help them find a Philosopher’s Stone – a legendary item that would increase their alchemic power, and the only chance they have of rebuilding their bodies.
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Ed and Al: posing dramatically in front of arches since 2003.
All of this information is introduced in the first few episodes, but it sounds like a premise that would be stretched over an entire season in American TV… and that was the briefest non-spoiler summary I could give. So here’s some more in-depth (still non-spoilery) stuff. And baby booties.
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Or perhaps baby mukluks.
Firstly, the plot. The series spans 51 twenty-minute episodes, a pretty standard length for an anime, and a good amount of time to develop everything and throw in some great twists. As with many shows, it does have a few filler episodes as well as the tendency to meander a bit. However, these instances do not detract much from the story itself. Nearly everything that is brought up over the course of the show has some bearing on the story, and makes a return in a big way. More on that later.
Some ideas tend to repeat themselves a bit, but the English dub at least seems fully aware of this, as do the characters. An example of this is how several of the enemies that Ed and Al face justify their actions by comparing themselves to the way that the brothers operate, saying that they aren’t so different in their goals or beliefs. “Why do all of the bad guys keep comparing themselves to ME?” yells Ed at one point, following by a well-timed punch to one of the philosophizing bad guys’ faces.
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But these comparisons are often completely legitimate. The characters in this show develop in such a way that no one is completely black or white, save the occasional one-off villain. The main and supporting characters themselves are extremely well-developed, causing even the goofy episode focusing on these yahoos to have emotional impact:
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In fact, the storytelling is so complex that at a few points it seems like they’ve introduced a character or a premise out of nowhere, and only after really thinking about it do you realize that they’ve been sprinkling hints and allusions to these things long before their proper introduction. Take Izumi, for an example that I’ll try really hard not to spoil.

She shows up around pair #684… ish.Image
Izumi was Ed and Al’s alchemy teacher immediately after their mom died, but before they tried to resurrect her. After the failed attempt, they joined the military and work with (and against) it for several years until Izumi (the boys simply call her Teacher) abruptly comes back into their lives. She is harsh but fair, kicks all kinds of butt, and to the casual viewer it would seems as if Teacher just suddenly appeared, simply as a plot device. But she had been foreshadowed (quite literally in one case) long before that, and once she arrives, her actions drive the plot forward and add some more fascinating, dreadlock-infused backstory.
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                                              There she is, kickin’ ass in a lab coat.
In all honesty, I would love to do a review of each episode of Fullmetal Alchemist if I knew anyone would read it. The music, the animation, the setting, the philosophical musings, the sophomoric humor, all of it – the weak points and the great – make up a truly memorable series. Even that weird ending has grown on me after some musing.
By this point, you’re probably tired of me raving about this show. Heaven knows my family is. But it really is that good. Even if you’re not an anime person, Fullmetal Alchemist has something for everyone (like The Twilight Zone!) – from juvenile humor to action to dark themes of grief and uplifting ones of familial love. I couldn’t think of a better series to have watched while crocheting a ridiculous amount of booties. With every bootie, I remember a certain part of the show and how it touched me or made me laugh or made me examine my philosophies a little closer. If thoughts like that were woven into something made for an infant, I hope that something will pass on and that their lives will be as rich. Or at least they won’t vomit on all over them or something.
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                       Maybe I should Scotch Guard ’em all. (Thanks to my foot model, Evan.)

Hook Case & The Twilight Zone

(Originally posted January 6, 2013 on scenesandstitches.blogspot.com by Elise Dukart)

Happy New Year, all!

I hope yours was wonderful and full of much counting.

As for me, New Years means one thing and one thing only – The Twilight Zone Marathon. Every year, SyFy (formerly Sci-Fi) has a two-day marathon of Rod Serling’s fantastical television series that ran from 1959 to 1964. It is, without a doubt, one of my favorite shows, and I get exceptionally crabby if I miss the New Years Marathon. Seriously, any remote-grabbers are at risk of losing their fingers. Thus, I parked myself in front of the television with a ball of yarn this year and finished up a few projects while unlocking a door with the key of imagination.

While Rod Serling gave his schpeel for the first of the episodes, Long Live Walter Jameson (don’t worry -I won’t take you through all of them, much as I’d like to) I finished up Karen’s hat. It ended up pretty snazzy methinks.

I had never seen the episode before, which is always a nice surprise. It wasn’t a particularly memorable one as far asThe Twilight Zone goes, but I’m a weirdly thorough person, and if I haven’t seen an episode of a particular show, I’ll most likely hunt it down to watch.

Then, despite having one more Christmas present to finish, I decided to be selfish and make something for myself. For Christmas, I received a passel of lovely bamboo crochet hooks from my mother, and decided to whip up a case for them. For this, I modified the pattern created by the lovely lady at Alli Crafts (I used sock yarn instead of sport, and did dcs instead of hdcs on the upper rows). Here’s how it looked by the time I finished the episode It’s a Good Life.

Incidentally, It’s a Good Life scares the ever-loving kaka out of me. Billy Mumy is far too good at playing a terrifying child, and you could cut the tension in that episode, but you’d need a hatchet in lieu of a knife… Due to the thickness of the tension. That analogy got away from me. Anyway, if you’ve never seen the episode, I highly suggest you watch it. In fact, that goes for all  The Twilight Zone episodes. They’re all on Netflix, and you have my permission to go watch all five seasons right now. I’ll wait.

Back already? Well, then you’ll know all about a few of my other favorites that showed up whilst I crocheted, including The Monsters Are Due on Maple StreetMr. Denton on DoomsdayA Game of Pool, and Two. The latter I’m particularly fond of, since it was one of the first episodes I saw. It stars the lovely Elizabeth Montgomery and beefykins Charles Bronson, and they throw canned chicken. It’s fantastic.

The thing about The Twilight Zone is that each episode gives the feeling of watching a particularly well-done short film. There’s an entire story crammed into a 25-min span of time, yet it manages to capture your imagination as well as your heart, whether it be through the story or the characters or the atmosphere. They range from heartwarming to dramatic to intellectual to outright horror, so there really is an episode for any film taste. My favorites are mainly dark and depressing – take from that what you will. Most of the episodes are filmed beautifully (See The Obsolete Man or The Midnight Sun for starters), and they tell stories that are relevant and thought-provoking to this day.

Of course, it did have its share of clunkers as well. The Bewitchin’ Pool springs immediately to mind (despite the involvement of the fabulous June Foray). And a handful of the episodes had to be filmed on a very low-quality camera due to budget constraints, and that in turn affects the entire episode negatively. But the great episodes drastically outweigh the poor ones, and are so consistently wonderful that its no wonder that SyFy airs a marathon of them twice a year.

By the time the marathon was over (of course I didn’t make it through it all – a girl has to sleep sometimes), I had a cool little case for my hooks and a dent in my forefinger from gripping the hook too hard when something spooky was happening onscreen. Such as mysterious phone calls late at night with no one on the other end, or dolls threatening to murder Telly Savalas, or stupidheads letting the devil out of his prison.

Meanwhile, this!

For realz, if you haven’t seen The Twilight Zone, I highly recommend it. It is definitely worth your time. Then you should comment and tell me what you think. 🙂 Happy New Year, all!


Shell Stitch Hat & Once Upon a Time

(Originally Posted December 30, 2012 on scenesandstitches.blogspot.com by Elise Dukart)

Hello all!

Since I am but a new squalling babe to this blogging thing (in 2012? For shame!), there will be a lot of trial-and-error happening in these early posts, so please bear with me. Not in the sense that you should give me bears, but rather in the sense of not hollering at me from the comments. Constructive criticism is welcome, however. 🙂 And I know that down the road, an older, wiser me will look back on these posts and laugh uproariously at my ineptitude.

Anywho, enough apologizing. Let’s get to it.

I’ve been a horrid follower of ABC’s Once Upon a Time since the second season began. What with school, friends, and my own preoccupation with British television, poor OUAT has been on the backburner of my to-watch list for quite some time. So, since it’s Christmas break and I have no more excuses, I grabbed yarn, a hook, some tea, and finally sat down to catch up on what’s going down in Storybrooke.

My procrastinatory tendencies have left me with quite a few Christmas presents to finish, so I started working up a hat for my friend Karen from a free pattern provided by the lovely lady at growcreative; a stinking cute shell stitch hat. Hook in one hand and remote in the other, I settled in for a fairy-tale-laden crochet session.

*Beware: some spoilers ahead*

So, while Emma & Co. tried to find a way back home (I started back up near the beginning of Season 2 with the episode Lady of the Lake), I was working up the circular top of the hat with a plethora of dcs, grumbling to myself about the lack of female badassery so far in the season, but I was pleasantly surprised when Snow started kicking major fairyland butt. I had forgotten how fun of a character she was, since she’s battling bad guys with an armor-clad Mulan, and the unflappable Emma and her trusty pistol. And Aurora’s got… a shawl? Well, whatever.

Partway through the episode The Doctor (whose title inevitably led me to thinking of this), I had to unravel back a few rows because I had messed up the fan pattern, so I could very well have finished the flippin’ hat had I been following the pattern closer, but multi-tasking comes with a price. If you take nothing else from this blog, remember that, dearies.

As for the episode itself, I was far more excited than any sane person should be when it was finally revealed who Dr. Whale was. Although, I find myself feeling that it’s a bit of a cheat to use a character from a novel written in the early 1800s among characters from fairy tales. But I digress. If they bring in Alice from Alice in Wonderland, I guess that’ll just complete the cycle. Anyway, the Lit Geek in me was ecstatic to find out his identity, even if they laid it on pretty thick at the end, what with the B&W shots and abundance of lightning effects.

By the time I finished the episode Child of the Moon (where the heck was Red’s dad? Did her mom eat him? *sigh* Probably…), I got as far as the last row of fans in the hat, with the end result looking a little something like this:

Blueberrytastic.

As for Once upon a Time, it was marvelous to get back to it. I feel like the writing has improved from the first season, since the fairy-tale flashbacks aren’t as tethered to the original stories anymore, so the writers can be a little more original. However, the abundance of new characters makes the whole thing feel rather scattered and stretched. When you’re in one world, you want to get back to the other one, or when you’re in a flashback, you want to get back to the real world and vice versa. It was still a hoot to watch, and I have two episodes left until I completely catch up. See you on the flip side, readers!


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