A Dragon Crawls Down from the Ceiling to Make a Fireplace

A dragon fireplace. A DRAGON. Fireplace!

Twitter Into the Forest Dark Dragon Fireplace

Ok, thinking about it a little longer than half a second, it’s not surprising that there are a number of dragon designs for fireplaces and stoves for both indoors and out, in addition to firepits, fireplace screens, and andirons.

This particular one must be custom work and as such, it cannot be inexpensive. But, dang, is it handsome or what?

By unknown. Found and image via Into the Forest Dark on Twitter.

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Completely New Night Elf Balance Druid Transmog

Since the Dragonflight expansion has some major differences from previous World of Warcraft expansions, I decided it was time for a major change in my main toon’s transmog.

Erik often has a conceptual approach to his mogs. Unlike him, I tend to start from a particular piece and build an outfit around it, or choose a color and go from there. This time it was more or less a combination of the two: I wanted to include the whimsical wings in Sprite Darter’s Flutterers—because why not—and chose the rest of the colors to highlight the shoulderpiece.

Dragonflight F Night Elf Druid Black Transmog

So, I chose the unassuming Black Swashbuckler’s Shirt and Black Tuxedo Pants. The Chestguard of Insidious Desire was also reasonably subdued. Gloves and belt were a little difficult, but Frostcarver Grips and Stygian Belt went well enough with the chestpiece. Conveniently, one of the options on Scythe of Elune had purple glow; that choice was easy. To round the set off, the helm, cloak, wrist, and boots are hidden. (Gosh, the ability to hide pieces is such a great change to the transmog system!)

Here’s the mog viewable in the Wowhead Dressing Room.

Image: World of Warcraft screencap

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Visual Inspiration: Whiskered Treeswifts

Whiskered treeswifts (Hemiprocne comata) live in various subtropical or tropical forests in Southeast Asia.

Macaulay Library David Cathy Cook Whiskered Treeswift

They remind me of swallows, but are more colorful. Especially the combination of grey plus blue in the wings and back appeals to me.

Setting personal color preferences aside, wouldn’t it be so much more interesting to read a secondary world fantasy story with, say, messenger birds that look like whiskered treeswifts rather than the uninspired and unoriginal corvids?

Yes, corvids are AMAZING birds, but they’re used EVERYWHERE. Could they not be replaced by something else in a fantasy story? Or at least made vibrantly colored?

Image by David and Cathy Cook via The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Macaulay Library

The Visual Inspiration occasional feature pulls the unusual from our world to inspire design, story-telling, and worldbuilding. If stuff like this already exists, what else could we imagine?

Star Wars Series Ahsoka: Teaser Trailer

Happy Star Wars Day!

Disney seems quite happy to churn out Star Wars miniseries for streaming. The latest newcomer is Ahsoka. Here’s a teaser trailer from April:

Ahsoka | Teaser Trailer | Disney+ by StarWars on YouTube

Ahsoka Tano seems an interesting character, and Rosario Dawson does a great job with her. I’m also delighted to see more of Genevieve O’Reilly’s Mon Mothma; she’s astounding in Andor. The character of Baylan is completely new to me, but Ray Stevenson I know from a few things (HBO’s Rome series, the Divergent trilogy, and the Thor movies); wonderful to see him get some Star Wars fame, too.

Otherwise it’s difficult to say what the series will be like. I recognize the name Thrawn, but since I barely follow the franchise outside the nine movies, that doesn’t say anything to me (except “obviously bad guy”).

The significant thing seems to be the amount of female characters in the trailer. I’m struggling to think of another SFFnal tv series with this many foregrounded women. Awesome! I do hope that the writing will be nuanced and actors are given lots of character details to play, just like in Andor. (That’s my quality metric for Star Wars series for sure.)

Ahsoka will premier in August 2023.

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FYI: No More Automated Tweets

A book-keeping / back-end type of notification: There won’t be any more automated tweets for new posts.

We decided to disconnect the Co-Geeking Twitter account from WordPress. (To be specific, WordPress had to remove the automatic-posts-to-Twitter functionality due to Twitter changing their API on short notice.)

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A Competence Porn Viewing List

The other day, fueled by our discussion on what to watch after dinner, I started musing about a certain mood of mine and what connects the works I gravitate towards when in that mood. I landed on the term competence porn without realizing it is an existing term. (There’s even a Wikipedia article on competence porn.)

In alphabetical order, here is my short viewing list:

  • Charlie’s Angels (2019)
  • Elementary
  • Leverage
  • Ocean’s Eight
  • Rogue One
  • Wonder Woman

And a back-up list with works that fulfill some criteria, fail others, but that I nevertheless often like to watch when in that mood of mine:

  • Black Widow
  • Captain Marvel
  • Miss Marple (the series with Joan Hickson)
  • Murdoch Mysteries
  • Star Wars VII-IX (specifically Rey’s storyline)

There seems to be surprisingly much variance in the use of the term competence porn, so rather than dissect the alternatives, here is what I mean by it:

  • Typically has multiple competent, intelligent characters of different skills or areas of expertise working together, often towards a fairly big goal.
  • Involves complex problem-solving. Can but need not include a heist.
  • It helps if women are being awesome,
  • and/or, it helps if the characters are learning to work together.
  • It needs to be fun on some level. (Maybe?)

There’s a somewhat nebulous aspect I haven’t yet been able to quite define for myself. For example, on the surface, the action flick Gunpowder Milkshake fills the above requirements—it has multiple competent and intelligent characters, lots of problem-solving, women being awesome, and learning to work together, and yet I cannot count it as competence porn for my purposes. I guess it’s an aspect of fun? Or a lack of despair / despondency / dejection / melancholy / gloom?

Anyway, I’ll talk a little about why I’ve placed each of the works above onto my viewing list.

1. Charlie’s Angels

IMDB Charlies Angels 2019 Poster

I find the protagonist Elena (played by Naomi Scott) very irritating; on the other hand, Jane and Sabina (Ella Balinska’s and Kristen Stewart’s characters) plus Boz and Bosley (Elizabeth Banks and Djimon Hounsou) are great. Stewart has a bad rep, I guess, and I guess primarily from the Twilight movies (the only things I have seen her in), but on the basis of her performance here I’d suggest she does have skills but was just badly directed in that series. Anyway, it’s a learning to work together story, which I like a lot, and all the women down to the side characters are awesome.

2. Elementary (2012-2019)

IMDB Elementary s2 e12 The Diabolical Kind

A modernized version of Sherlock Holmes set loose in New York City with a gender-flipper Watson. Both Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu are fantastic as the detective duo, and the smart NYPD cast, Captain Gregson and Detective Bell (played by Aidan Quinn and Jon Michael Hill), also contribute their fair share. The Ms. Hudson and Moriarty versions were also interesting, but all in all there are too few women. (Still half of the population, hello?) Nevertheless, the astounding cases, quality acting, and scenes of real NYC in all its glitter and grime continue to keep my interest despite some less successful story lines.

3. Leverage (2008-2012)

IMDB Leverage Group Shot

Yes, yes, yes—ticks all the boxes despite some unevenness in the writing. If only it didn’t have Nate nor the actor, Timothy Hutton; I’m so fed up with wallow-y man pain (and, whoo boy, does he wallow) with or without alcohol, but it’s infinitely worse with.

The three youngsters should’ve had a series of their own; THAT would’ve been great, and I would throw money at it!

4. Ocean’s Eight

IMDB Oceans Eight Poster

Yes, yes, YES! (Despite Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway, and Helena Bonham Carter, who all are far from favorites of mine.) Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, and Rihanna were fabulous. The heist is simply staggering, and it helps it’s also a learning to work together story in part.

5. Rogue One

IMDB Rogue One Poster

Although in the beginning we only see a glimpse of Jyn Erso’s childhood and we hear little of how she lived afterwards, it’s clear that she can handle herself, backwards and blindfolded if needs be. I enjoy seeing just how the Rogue One group slowly comes together to run their desperate mission. It needs more women, though.

Rogue One is clearly the least fun of my six competence porn stories, which makes it really hard to put into words why it’s on my list. I just know that it is.

6. Wonder Woman

IMDB Wonder Woman Shot

There are some plotholes and/or weaknesses I’d rather do without, but the learning to work together aspect of the story nevertheless makes the movie work for me. And—need I say it?—SO many awesome women. I could spend more time seeing Amazon action on Themyscira!

Do you have a competence porn viewing or reading list? If so, I’d like to hear yours.

Images via IMDB: Charlie’s Angels. Elementary (s. 2, ep. 12, “The Diabolical Kind”). Leverage. Ocean’s Eight. Rogue One. Wonder Woman.

In Seen on Screen, we discuss movies and television shows of interest.

Teaser Trailer for The Marvels Has Space Kittens!

A new Captain Marvel movie is now in sight. The Marvels entangles the lives and powers of Kamala Khan, Monica Rambeau, and Carol Danvers, and a teaser trailer shows what’s in store:

Marvel Studios’ The Marvels | Teaser Trailer by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

Starts with an intriguing sight, doesn’t it—a huge space station on Earth’s orbit! Can’t say I recognize S.A.B.E.R., but it does sound like there should be a connection to S.W.O.R.D., right? I hope we get more info on both organizations. And what is this jump point? It looks to be worryingly close to Earth.

Speaking of worrying, I really, really hope they’ve toned down the character of Kamala Khan. We tried the series Ms. Marvel but had to stop after the first episode, having barely made it through that. (Basically hoping that it would change before long. It didn’t.)

Obviously Khan’s actor Iman Vellani is doing a great job, if she can raise such a visceral reaction, but I seriously don’t want to spend two+ hours with that git of a girl. (I guess I’m officially an old fart now.)

I am looking forward to more Brie Larson and Teyonah Parris; I like both very much in their roles. Thank goodness for a trio of protagonists. And space travel, plus possibly a litter of flerken kittens? How amazing would that be! Also, I don’t think Samuel L. Jackson could be bad if he tried.

At this writing, The Marvels is expected November 10, 2023.

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Vintage Car Looks Exactly Like a Character from an Animated Movie

Doesn’t this vintage car look exactly like an animated character from a Pixar movie?

Twitter QuirkyRides Belka

Developed by the Central Scientific Research Automobile and Automotive Engines Institute of the USSR / Russian Federation, known also with a much more user-friendly abbreviation NAMI, the car even has an appropriate name for a cartoon character: Belka means ‘squirrel’.

I’m used to thinking—wrongly or rightly—that Soviet design is, to put it politely, butt-ugly. (Think of brutalism, for example.) But this car is, indeed, very cute for midcentury modern design, even if it looks top-heavy (and perhaps therefore too wobbly for safety).

Image via QuirkyRides on Twitter.

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Creatures Trailer and Final Trailer for Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Paramount Pictures is trying to drum up interest for their D&D movie with a short creatures video and a final trailer.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves | Meet The Creatures (2023 Movie) by Paramount Pictures on YouTube

Clearly by creatures they really mean monsters. The big fish-like critter at the 4-5 second mark interests me most, because it’s the least media sexy and I can’t think of what it could be. Or why they’d include it! But I could’ve done without the brain monsters, though—urgh, blech.

The final trailer really sounds like a puff piece, though:

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves | Final Trailer (2023 Movie) by Paramount Pictures on YouTube

I’m perfectly willing to be entertained by a D&D movie that turns out to be better than my expectations, but “Best movie of the year”? Please.

More exciting is the 3-minute “Let the Games Begin” clip:

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves | Let the Games Begin Clip (2023 Movie) by Paramount Pictures on YouTube

That’s more like it, even if it doesn’t tell us why our intrepid adventurers end up on the arena, let alone competing with at least two other groups.

Looks like Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves opens today, if it already hasn’t in your neck of the woods. I really hope it’s at least a little good.

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James Webb Telescope’s Breathtaking Protostar Image

The James Webb Space Telescope has taken near-infrared images of the protostar within the dark cloud L1527, providing insight into the beginnings of a new star. Below is the most spectacular of the images that NASA released.

NASA James Webb Protostar L1527

Here’s NASA’s description of the image:

“The protostar itself is hidden from view within the ‘neck’ of this hourglass shape. An edge-on protoplanetary disk is seen as a dark line across the middle of the neck. Light from the protostar leaks above and below this disk, illuminating cavities within the surrounding gas and dust.
“The region’s most prevalent features, the clouds colored blue and orange in this representative-color infrared image, outline cavities created as material shoots away from the protostar and collides with surrounding matter. The colors themselves are due to layers of dust between Webb and the clouds. The blue areas are where the dust is thinnest. The thicker the layer of dust, the less blue light is able to escape, creating pockets of orange.”

Wow. It’s really stunning, isn’t it?

Considering how much incredible data the James Webb has already gotten in its first year (and I’m not even properly following its work), I cannot conceive how much more it’ll provide in its decade-long planned mission.

Image by NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute

Out There highlights intriguing art, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.