Sizing up the MLB contract situation

Here’s the way I see things heading into MLB’s rights renegotiations:

  • Fox’s decision to hand over Saturday nights to sports, of which MLB plays a key role, may have MLB thinking of moving its main broadcast package to primetime full-time. As the only entity of sufficient stature that can fill the time all summer, MLB would have to be something close to the lynchpin of any effort to turn a network’s entire Saturday primetime schedule to sports. One problem: Fox and ABC would have to postpone the start of their primetime college football schedule to October, and NBC is lacking in sports it can plug in the rest of the year. The state of MLB’s infamous blackout restrictions that prevent out-of-market Fox games from appearing on Extra Innings may affect this as well.
  • With the NFL likely not selling a Thursday Night package in the near term if ever, MLB is in the role of kingmaker, potentially singlehandedly deciding Fox and NBC’s chances of running down ESPN. MLB is NBCSN’s best hope for increasing its reach and popularity, and along with NASCAR, is the other sport that will play a key role in Fox’s eventual decision whether to start a network.
  • Despite all this, the fact is that MLB’s status overall isn’t that great. For a variety of reasons, MLB isn’t succeeding at all at connecting with younger audiences. In particular, I think Fox kinda wants to get out of the sport that was always an odd fit for their brand and interrupts their highly successful primetime schedule considerably during the fall.
  • TBS’ postseason coverage seems to be working out fine, but it’s hamstrung by the utter failure of their Sunday afternoon package, which last year wasn’t even attracting as many viewers as a freaking Formula 1 race. Of course, we’re comparing cable with broadcast, and part of the problem is that TBS is blacked out in home markets and gets second choice after ESPN’s Sunday night package, but it also has to do with a glut of sports on broadcast and cable weekend afternoons, and the fact remains that for most people, baseball means Fox and ESPN all year long, and then abruptly and inexplicably moves to TBS when the postseason hits. My feeling is that MLB won’t try to include that Sunday afternoon package in this round of negotiations, instead giving it to MLB Network and splitting up ESPN’s games. Most analysts seem to think MLB will create a Sunday/Wednesday package and sell the Monday package solo, but selling the Sunday package solo and packaging Monday and Wednesday together makes more sense to me, because Sunday seems to be the marquee package with exclusivity and no other games in the time slot, similar to the relationship between TNT’s Thursday NBA games vis-a-vis ESPN’s Wednesday and Friday games.
  • Complicating matters even more for TBS, ESPN desperately wants back in the postseason. That will probably force MLB to find a way to juggle the postseason between two cable partners and MLB Network. Analysts are predicting that the LCS currently airing on Fox will join its sister on cable; perhaps the arrangement will be similar to how the NBA shuffles its conference finals between TNT and ESPN.
  • The All-Star Game has been an especially odd fit on Fox, and last year actually lost in the ratings to NBC’s America’s Got Talent. My hunch is that it will move to cable, probably ESPN.

Putting all this together, I see only three potential outcomes:

NBCSN and ESPN split the cable contracts, NBC gets the World Series. There’s so much that fits about this, even beyond NBC’s desire to improve the status of NBC Sports Network: NBC’s primetime has been mired in last place for ages, so it has less to lose during October than the other broadcast networks do, plus NBC generally has a weaker sports profile overall. Also, it would mark the return of Bob Costas to baseball coverage people would actually watch.

I would expect NBC, more than any of the other contenders, not to settle for “second-class” cable status in any way. I would expect NBCSN to get a share of the postseason, including LCS games, and possibly even the Home Run Derby. There’s no way to really avoid conflicting with hockey on NBCSN in April and into May, but the Sunday package would work out better for that purpose. Meanwhile, golf and horse racing could pretty much force the broadcast package into primetime.

The biggest problem is probably that even there, NBC would run into conflicts with the Stanley Cup Final on one Saturday night a year, plus occasional West Coast US Open golf tournaments NBC would rather allow to leak into primetime. A bigger problem could be that this would involve MLB jettisoning two partners at once, which could be a bridge too far for them. That could be enough for them to back away in favor of…

ESPN and TBS split the cable contracts, ABC gets the World Series. This might be the most comfortable option for MLB, shacking up with the two most established sports broadcasters on cable in a mirror of the NBA’s relationship, but it would be disastrous for anyone who wants a competitor for ESPN. It would certainly produce some happy faces in the offices of the Walt Disney Company, not only by shutting out any potential competitors and winning World Series rights but mitigating the loss of one or two nights to TBS with the addition of the broadcast package. I wouldn’t be surprised if ESPN were trying to form an alliance with Turner to make this happen.

The only people this would make happy outside Bristol and Atlanta might be people who want to stem the death of sports on ABC. Because of the restrictions of MLB’s anti-trust exemption and MLB’s own desires, neither ESPN nor TBS would be able to move the World Series to cable, and I don’t think either CBS or MLB want a relationship between those two to fill the broadcast contract, despite its popularity with MLB’s own audience – CBS has US Open tennis in September, SEC football in the rest of the month, golf the rest of the year, and “America’s Most Watched Network” in primetime to avoid disrupting in October. ESPN would be fine with putting the World Series on broadcast and giving ABC a regular-season broadcast package because ABC’s primetime in recent years has become increasingly weak, coming dangerously close to falling to NBC’s level, and like NBC, ABC has an infamously weak sports portfolio. I could see ESPN airing a regional ABC game on its cable network, similar to what it does for college football, though only in primetime.

All things considered, though, I don’t see this happening; the most recent contract, to me, ultimately amounts in the grand scheme of things to a way for TBS to transition out of its old Braves games. MLB might be more comfortable if…

FX (or the proposed Fox Sports network) and ESPN split the cable contracts, Fox gets the World Series. Given Fox’s desire to increase the presence of sports on FX, this is the only way I see Fox staying in the sport – from both Fox’s end and MLB’s. When the Sports Business Journal wrote an article on the Fox Sports network speculations, they cited as one key factor MLB telling Fox they needed to “establish a better cable sports presence” to compete with NBC and ESPN. I don’t know whether that says more about NBC’s chances, Fox, MLB, or FX. (Or Turner, for which it might be even worse news than it is for Fox, both in the fact they weren’t even mentioned and in what it implies MLB is looking for.) In any case, while Frank the Tank suggests that big-time sports leagues like MLB would rather be on a network with other draws, whether other big-time leagues or general-entertainment programming, and cites that as a big obstacle to both NBC and Fox’s all-sports networks vis-a-vis ESPN and Turner, this little piece of information suggests otherwise.

This is the closest outcome to the status quo, and it’s hard for me to find convincing points against it – if Fox ends up launching an all-sports network. It was harder for me to see this happening when it involved FX getting games, because of FX’s inability to raise the fees it charges to cable providers. To my knowledge, however, a Fox Sports network wouldn’t have that problem, so the only real issues left are the ones laid out in the opening of this post.

The most likely scenarios are the ones involving NBC and Fox, with TBS being an outcome of last resort if Fox decides not to launch an all-sports network and Turner’s desire to stick with baseball combined with ESPN’s desire to keep NBC from approaching their level are enough to keep NBC out of the sport. Before Fox’s network dreams came to light I would have considered the TBS/ABC scenario the second favorite, and normally I’d say ESPN could completely box NBC out of the market – besides Turner, an alliance with Fox makes sense even with their network ideas because of their established relationships with MLB – but I think NBC is willing to overpay considerably on possibly their last, best hope to establish NBCSN’s bona fides, and I think NBC can provide a high-quality enough broadcast to overcome any qualms MLB might have over NBCSN.

I keep going back and forth on which scenario is more likely; it’s hard because the MLB contract will influence whether Fox starts a network, but the existence of a network will determine whether Fox gets the contract. That may be one reason why they’re trying to renew the NASCAR contract early, which could be a bellweather for the outcome of the MLB talks if it’s announced first. If Fox doesn’t launch a network, I think it’s probable that NBC ends up with the baseball contract, dependent on the outcome of an ESPN-Turner alliance. But if they do, or even if they haven’t decided yet? Then the race is on as Fox and NBC wage a fierce (and expensive) battle to determine which will move on to take on ESPN, with Fox being the slight favorite if they have decided and NBC a slight favorite if they haven’t.

ESPN and the Rose Bowl stay in business

No sooner did college football approve a revolutionary playoff structure than ESPN made sure at least one aspect of the past remained in place: the Rose Bowl breaking off from the rest of the BCS and signing its own television contract.

ESPN has signed an agreement with the Rose Bowl over the entire 12-year course of the new format.

I don’t know what this would mean for the other bowls’ TV rights, especially as regards to the semifinal rounds of the new playoff structure, although the release seems to imply ESPN would carry the Rose Bowl in years it’s a semifinal. If that’s true, it would seem to dilute the proposed $5 billion agreement the BCS is looking for for its proposed playoff system, especially since the SEC and Big 12’s “Champions Bowl” would likely also have a separate agreement. A big part of that desired number is the addition of semifinals, but four out of twenty-four of those games might end up going to someone else.

On the other hand, the BCS may decide to sell the semifinals separate from the championship game… but from what I read, if that was the case both semifinals would likely be sold together (which doesn’t make much sense to me – maybe what was meant was one semifinal and the title game?). I don’t know how the whole thing will end up working, but I guess we’ll find out in the fall.

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The State of NASCAR on Television

NASCAR is in a bit of a state of flux at the moment. If you were describing the “four major sports” and you were looking at matters objectively, the fourth sport would be NASCAR, not the NHL, a status the sport has triumphantly risen to over the course of the last two decades. Once a southern curiosity, NASCAR has taken advantage of the war that rent open-wheel racing apart over a decade and a half to establish its fanbase in the north as well, becoming a force not to be trifled with in the world of sports. Yet over the course of the last contract, TV ratings and most measures of popularity have stagnated, even declined some. Where, then, does NASCAR stand as it prepares to renegotiate its contracts?

NASCAR’s relationship with Fox is very tight. The two entities have been very good to one another; Fox has been with NASCAR since the beginning of NASCAR’s control over the TV contract, and NASCAR has become one of the linchpins of Fox’s sports brand. For many, Fox practically defines television coverage of the sport, carrying the Daytona 500 over the entire lifetime of the most recent contract. NASCAR also isn’t likely to break its relationship with ESPN, if only because it’s scared of the horror stories of what happens to sports like the NHL or UFC (or, arguably, itself before the most recent contract) when they don’t shack up with ESPN. ESPN has certainly given NASCAR plenty of love; while the sport doesn’t get much more coverage on shows like PTI, ESPN does show plenty of NASCAR highlights on SportsCenter, and heavily advertises its coverage of Sprint Cup and even Nationwide series races, not to mention the daily magazine show NASCAR Now on ESPN2. NASCAR and ESPN tied themselves too tight at the hip to break up now. Say what you will about how they cover the sport, I guarantee you that NASCAR is quite happy with the coverage of Fox and ESPN, especially that they cover the sport.

TNT is substantially iffier. They are the forgotten broadcast partner. They have the fewest races, the fewest important ones (they have the second Daytona race, but they stop one race short of the Brickyard 400 on ESPN, and they have neither the Daytona 500 like Fox nor the Chase for the Cup like ESPN) and the least amount of coverage outside their Sprint Cup races. Their presence seems to be a vestige from their far greater role in the previous contract when they were joined at the hip with NBC. Turner itself doesn’t seem to have much respect for the sport; while its MLB, NBA, and NCAA Tournament graphics have all been made to look more like one another in recent years, its NASCAR graphics have remained unchanged for several years now. My hunch is that they will be jettisoned, either giving more races to Fox and ESPN, or making way for a third partner.

To me, there are only two candidates for that third partner: NBC, or a CBS/Turner marriage similar to their NCAA Tournament marriage. But as much as the latter might appear to keep up the status quo, and Turner will probably try to sell it hard (especially considering the windows it could open to add more sports to truTV, as discussed below), there’s no sign CBS is even interested. NBC may want to get back into the sport, if mostly to shore up its NBC Sports Network, but I suspect they will insist on a more equitable share of races, including something more important than what TNT has now. That would have to come out of Fox and ESPN’s races; Fox currently shows close to half the pre-Chase schedule, ESPN close to half the whole schedule, plus it would likely have to give up either the Brickyard or the Chase. I don’t think either of them want that, so I think both of them will persuade NASCAR (possibly with lots of little green slips of paper) to go back to two broadcast partners, thus giving each more races divvied up from the TNT package’s corpse.

But that doesn’t mean there won’t be drama; in fact, NASCAR is one of two sports that will play a key role in determining whether Fox launches its rumored all-sports network. There are several facets of this. First, when the last contract was negotiated, Fox was willing to abandon sports on FX, so it allowed ESPN to take the entire Nationwide Series schedule. Fox has since shown remorse for that decision and is interested in putting sports on FX again. But Fox also wants to shore up its NASCAR programming on Speed, to include more than practices, qualifying, the Truck Series, and the All-Star Race; they have voiced their desire to have Cup Series races on Speed. And perhaps most intriguingly, NASCAR quite clearly and obviously wants to launch its own network much like the other major leagues have, but such a network would conflict with the existence of Speed.

Regardless of anything else, I think NASCAR splits the Nationwide Series schedule across however many partners it ends up with, and allows Fox to move some of its Sprint Cup races to cable, whether FX, Speed, or a Fox Sports network. But the question of how to create a NASCAR network is the critical point. Fox could simply hand Speed over to NASCAR and continue to run it, but that’s not the only solution. I could see it going like this: Fox flips Speed to a Fox Sports network and hands its struggling Fuel network over to NASCAR, who flips it to a NASCAR network and allows Fox to keep running it. Fuel-turned-NASCAR-Network gets practice, qualifying, and most of the Truck Series; Speed keeps the All-Star Race (as well as some Truck Series races and the Gatorade Duels) into its new identity as a Fox Sports network, but also gets Fox’s new Nationwide Series and cable Cup Series races (and probably all of Fuel’s and most of FX’s UFC programming). (NASCAR may also hand some Truck Series races to ESPN and, if applicable, NBCSN as well. If Turner convinced CBS to jump on board, I imagine any Truck races and at least some Nationwide races they ended up with would end up on truTV.)

The rights agreements don’t actually expire until after 2014, and the last agreement was announced in December, but Fox is already in negotiations with NASCAR to get their deal renewed before the closed negotiation window ends next spring and the rights hit the open market. I have to imagine all of the above points are being heavily debated in the room (with Fox also not wanting to lose anything even if NASCAR takes on a third partner), meaning even with at least nine months before most of the deal gets done, the most important, game-changing part may be settled by the end of the year. Ultimately, though, all parties may well be in a bit of a holding pattern. The fate of a NASCAR network, a Fox Sports network, and the level of NBC’s interest in NASCAR may ultimately be determined by what happens with the ultimate stick-and-ball sport.

NBC Renews Relationship with Tour de France

Been a long time since we last looked at the national sports TV wars, though does it count as “renewing” it when the broadcast contract belonged to CBS only two years ago and they inherited what they did get from the former Versus? Still, say what you will about the NHL, but Comcast’s rise to challenge ESPN for sports supremacy really got started when Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France-winning ways fell in the lap of a little outfit called the Outdoor Life Network. Now NBCSN and NBC will continue airing the Tour de France for another decade. (They’re also boasting about airing live stages on the NBC broadcast network starting this year, but I thought they did that last year too? In any case, you can bet ESPN wouldn’t be putting live stages on ABC…)

The bigger story, though, may be the break-up between CBC and Bell, who had teamed up to be the only serious contender for Canadian Olympic rights past 2012. Worse, Bell – owners of Canada’s only other all-sports network – has joined Rogers in saying it’s not interested in Olympic rights at all anymore. Does this mean CBC will have to try for the games on their own? Will Shaw, who owns one of Canada’s major broadcast networks but has no sports presence, step up? Will interest perk up if NHL players end up participating in the 2014 Games? Will Canadians have to watch the games from American coverage on NBC? Or could this open the door for Yahoo to put Canadian Olympic coverage on the Internet?

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Things are about to get even better for the NBA Champions…

Apparently Fox can compete for local team rights in a competitive, high-value market as well.

Fox is breaking the bank and is about to at least quadruple the money they pay the Miami Heat – only the reigning and future NBA Champions and the most-talked-about team in the second-most demo-friendly league – closer to the per-viewer average the Lakers are getting from Time Warner Cable. This in a market where Comcast could have conceivably swooped in and snapped up the rights if they wanted to. Certainly there’s room for it – Florida, like Los Angeles, is a market where Fox runs two regional sports networks.

To be fair, though, this is an extention of a deal that still had three years left on it, so this is more of a case of Fox using its incumbent status to lock up a team without giving anyone else a chance in an open market. It doesn’t mean Fox has a massive advantage when it comes to locking up Dodgers rights…

CBS to launch national sports radio network

Okay, this is… weird. Not two weeks after NBC announced it was teaming up with Dial Global – owners of the Westwood One radio network previously owned by CBS – on a sports radio network, CBS has announced it’s allying its own radio properties with those of Cumulus to form a sports radio network of its own.

For NBC (and possibly ESPN), this must be like an accelerated version of how they would feel if Fox launched an all-sports TV network. CBS is claiming that their network is instantly the “largest” and “most listened to” “major market” sports radio network, which is kind of a tall order, just given the sheer power of ESPN’s brand. But while CBS’ cable sports operations may be fast becoming the butt of the joke “your league is so small its games are on the CBS Sports Network”, there is no entity better equipped to compete in the sports radio landscape. CBS Radio owns market-leading stations in markets across the country, including the most storied sports radio station of them all, New York’s WFAN. All it would have to do is syndicate their better, more prestigious (and more nationally-focused) local shows to the rest of the country and it would have a powerhouse of a network, and a source of morning and afternoon programming for the CBS Sports Network. CBS may not be able to take the top spot right off the bat, but third place is a bare minimum for what it can do, and it could take second place away from Fox very easily, especially since most of Cumulus’ existing sports stations are currently ESPN stations.

This now means every entry in the sports TV wars has a corresponding radio operation except Turner, and an alliance between them and Yahoo Sports Radio would definitely be a mutually beneficial partnership at this point. But would it be worth much? Given the struggles Yahoo has already had finding stations, especially with stations more inclined to air local than national programming, I don’t think the market can support five sports radio networks (to say nothing of the miniscule Sports Byline and Sports USA networks) and I would expect at least one to fold by the end of 2013. Yahoo would seem to be the leader in the clubhouse for that dishonor unless it can somehow merge with one of the others.

The events of the past ten days may well be the “NBC/Comcast merger” of sports radio. Let the war begin.

Another reason to avoid TV Tropes’ Wild Mass Guessing section: it tainted my reaction (and possibly the speed with which I posted this) by keeping me focused on what ended up being one of the LESS important revelations.

(From MS Paint Adventures: Homestuck. Click for full-sized liberated jokes.)

As it turns out, Act 6 marked the introduction of two sessions with import on the final outcome of the war, and the other one isn’t the one that has come to be called “A1”, the pre-Scratch troll session, though we have become quite acquainted with it. Rather, it’s the supposedly two-player session involving the two personages who have made contact with the kids.

The first sign of this, of course, was the cryptic panel during Dirk’s description of the rise of the Condesce depicting what appeared to be Lord English with his legs in shackles with the Ophiuchus and Serpentarius symbols on them. Recently, however, we’ve also seen actual events within their session (and their home) depicted, even though we didn’t even know their names. We’ve also learned a lot more about the relationship between them, the sort of world they live in, and the backdrop for their session.

As it turns out, the two of them are not trolls at all, but an entirely new race called cherubs. Considering some of the things Calliope has said in the past that backed up the notion of her being a troll, combined with her explanation for presenting that impression, it’s worth wondering how many of those things are still trustworthy. If they can, then cherubs have unique blood colors like trolls, with Calliope being a “lime blood” and her brother having human- and Karkat- like red blood.

What we know for certain is that, if you thought the trolls were isolated, they have nothing on cherubs, who apparently live their entire lives completely isolated from anyone else, to the point that the only other person who knows what Calliope looks like is her brother. This isolation also explains why her brother got so turned on by two humans merely touching one another when Dirk drew it for him. Although cherubs apparently do have a form of romance, they have no equivalent to human romantic love and only ever meet another cherub to mate, in a “highly confrontational and violent” fashion; my impression is that it’s probably what it would be like if humans only had “spade” relationships instead of “heart” relationships. (In addition to the clues from her brother, Calliope once told Dirk that “my species has a completely different Understanding of romance than yoU do. it woUld probably offend yoU deeply. it might even sicken yoU!”) Calliope also once told Jake, though she was still keeping up appearances of being a troll at the time, that she “never knew those who one woUld identify as my parental eqUivalents”, explaining that “oUr ancestors precede Us by millenia.”

Oh, and she also happens to bear a striking resemblance to Lord English.

Apparently they live inside a building on a meteor that’s stuck in some planet with a bunch of Statues of Liberty very near a red giant on the verge of death, which is probably what they need the game to escape from. It’s been implied they may be the only two on the entire planet, and that they have no idea who previously inhabited it (cherubs don’t even have a “home planet”), but it’s likely to be a planet long past going through the Reckoning.

According to Calliope, the two of them have been “forced” to play a game (separate from Sburb) “for as long as we’ve known each other”, a game so all-encompassing it has affected what she’s been able to say to the kids. The rules, according to her, “are complicated, and often shifting. and they don’t always make sense! at least, they woUldn’t to yoU.” Her brother takes the game so seriously he refuses to drop it even for the sake of the new game they’re taking up, to the point he hires Jack Noir to kill Calliope’s dreamself. (And somehow, the “porn” he made Dirk draw has something to do with it.)

The two are basically confined to a single room, with each being confined to a single side within that room. Each wears a shackle bearing the other’s symbol (reminiscent of that cryptic image from earlier), which only the other can remove, and each shackle is connected to some sort of block thing in each side of the room. When one of them goes to bed, they slip on the shackle removed earlier, enter a “sarswapagus”, and come out as the other. (They apparently also switch when someone utters the name of the dormant sibling, but they have agreed not to give their names away to anyone else, presumably so the woken sibling doesn’t free him- or herself of both shackles.) Much of the “game” and its “rules”, therefore, presumably consists of the agreements they’ve made to keep one party or the other from taking too much control of the aggregate. (My hunch is, most of the rest have been imposed by the brother, who certainly sees killing Calliope as his desired win condition.) There are other weird things about them, such as the “juju modus”, with which anything one of them captchalogues can only be accessed by the other.

I’m morbidly curious to know more about the nature of cherubim and how this “game” got started, and whether it’s more accurate to consider them one person with split-personality disorder or two people who happen to share a body. (Calliope once cryptically claimed “we are genetically similar, bUt in many ways qUite different.”) I get the impression that cherubs are quite different from any other race and may in fact be a part of the game. Their session, a two-player session that Calliope has admitted will actually be more like one, was already rather weird; all the depictions have some sort of dark, gray tint to them, and Skaia is completely clouded over, utterly shrouded in storm clouds, a far cry from the bright, blue place we were first introduced to. But that weirdness would be increased exponentially if the player(s) was/were from a race that never should have had the ability to play to begin with – especially one with the potential for as much power as Calliope’s brother might turn out to end up having.

Calliope’s surface resemblance to Lord English (and her outfit’s resemblance to that of Doc Scratch, and her talking as though she was British – get it?) is not the only thing linking the demon to them. There have been some pretty strong implications that her brother is, in fact, a young Lord English. Some of the earliest, subtlest signs were his repeated vows to kill not only Calliope, but the (post-Scratch) kids as well. But the hints have been piling up once we entered Calliope’s home, from his vow to “paint everything – even my words” with her (green) blood, to the white gun in her strife specibus, to the “sarswapagus”‘ resemblance to the casket Lord English travelled in. Even Calliope’s interpretation of the page in Rose’s book with Dave and Karkat’s random scrawlings, as evidence of the presence of her brother in their session, could prove to be a case of being “right for the wrong reasons”. (He has helped Dirk and told him to destroy Lil Cal, but who knows what his motivations would be there; at least part of them may be his own fear of Cal.)

If Calliope’s brother is, in fact, a young Lord English, that implies he’s probably not one of the horrorterrors, which means it’s likely that he’s the one menacing them, especially when the plot of Complacency of the Learned is taken into account. On the other hand, we have likely gained more insight into his eventual defeat as well, namely from Calliope’s admonition to Roxy to say her name to him and, hopefully, wake her up; the cryptic panel from earlier suggests that the shackles might be used to control him as well. For the first time in Act 6, I actually feel like we’re approaching the climax we’ve been building to for more than three years.

Spoilers ahead if you haven’t been reading Gunnerkrigg Court. Especially chapter 31.

(From Gunnerkrigg Court. Click for full-sized dream discussions.)

It figures that the first full chapter of Gunnerkrigg Court I read as it comes out is quite possibly the most confusing one imaginable to start with.

So… what the hell just happened? Apparently Antimony is out cold and Zimmy and Gamma come in to help her… and start ribbing Kat for some reason? And Zimmy enters Annie’s dream-world where she wanders about with her eyes closed, hanging out with some forest spirit and Kat, and has a white mask for some reason? And she dives even further into Annie’s psyche where the fire-thing inside her has a bunch of stuff sticking into it that apparently leads to her dad, who Zimmy punches in the face? But then Annie and this other guy who has a crush on Zimmy start playing with her, and Zimmy cracks Annie’s mask? And apparently Kat looks like some sort of horrendous monster to Zimmy? And Gamma grabs Kat’s headband before they leave, and now Kat thinks the whole thing was just a dream? Was it all a dream? And what does the title of the chapter have to do with any of this, and why did we start it with events from Zimmy‘s perspective?

It’s hard to figure out exactly what to take from the whole thing with all the nonsense going on around it, and I wouldn’t have decided to write a post about it if it weren’t for the implication that Antimony’s father had something to do with her condition. The implication is that Antimony’s optimism is unwarranted and her father actually has sinister plans for her specifically, but given the circumstances of how Zimmy finds this out, I suspect he’s trying to find a “cure” for what ailed her mother and what could end up killing Antimony as well… even if Annie herself ends up being collateral damage.

The chapter does make a little more sense read all at once, but then it’s not as though there wasn’t a plot when read when it came out.I’m hopeful that future chapters will be a bit more comprehensible, to justify my continued reading of the comic.

(And my fears of how slowly the plot advances have proven warranted. I read two months’ worth of comic in maybe ten minutes.)

Hopefully the last streak-filler-post.

This is going to take some explanation.

If you’ve been reading Homestuck, you know that over the weekend Andrew Hussie dropped a bit of a bombshell on his audience.

Now, in retrospect, I should have done a post on it on Monday, but I felt that, even with as much as Hussie had already dropped, he was about to drop some more. Part of it was that I was looking for the answer to a question that I had no way of knowing was going to be answered that imminently. Towards the end of the day, I did have the vast majority of a Homestuck post written, but a lot of it was rushed, and by the end of the day there was another page that convinced me even more that the bombshell-dropping wasn’t over.

Instead, we’ve gotten the standard look-around-the-new-character’s-home, and right now any post would be an after-the-fact post, so in effect I’m rolling this up into the post I’d need to put out for whatever this is leading up to. Which I hope isn’t the end-of-act flash…

Summer plans

I intend for this to be quite possibly the biggest summer in the history of Da Blog, so here’s what you can expect.

First, there will definitely be a Homestuck post at some point this week. Probably Tuesday or Wednesday. Recent events, shall we say, have seen to that.

Also by the end of this week, the webcomic reviews may start up again. I stress may, because it depends on a number of factors.

I have hinted at another political series, and I’ve tentatively scheduled the start of that for July 2, so in two weeks. There’s an off chance I’ll start it a week sooner, depending on how the writing goes later this week.

Before that series starts, I need to make a major cleanup of the forum, which has literally hundreds of spam accounts (and to my knowledge, only me as a legitimate one). I need to figure out how to make a registration page that weeds them out.

Once the series starts, it will dominate Da Blog other than webcomic reviews, so that will be the main proximate consequence of the summer.

The most important parts of the summer, though, are going to happen later, maybe not even really during the summer.

Stay tuned.