Metapost: Index Party

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Film Corner: Season of the Witch

Alright, pocket friends, today I am going to watch a B-movie that I remember liking, and it is *drum roll* a Nicolas Cage movie. "Okay, but that doesn't narrow it down, Ana." What if I told you it also has Ron Perlman in it? That's right, we're watching SEASON OF THE WITCH on Netflix.

This movie has everything you could want in a witch movie. Ambiguity, scary noises, and smiles from girls who should not be terrifying and yet somehow are. We start with Fantasy Catholics rounding up three women for witchcraft and the ladies being told to confess in order to save their souls. 1 confesses, 1 refuses, and 1 tells the priest to burn in hell. It's very Goldilocks up in here. The Fantasy Catholic priest kills them all, because Fantasy Catholic priests are the primary predator of women in fantasy movies. They're all hanged and it's very sad.

The priest wants to consecrate the bodies and the local chief of soldiery is like "dead's dead, fuck off" and wearily stomps away. Yeah, you tell him, local chief of soldiery who isn't superstitious like that priest guy. But in a reversal of audience expectations, it turns out this is a supernatural setting because one of the "witches" comes back to life as the priest tries to consecrate them. He gets killed dead. SMASH CUT TO TITLE AND THAT'LL TEACH YOU TO BE SKEPTICAL.

SMASH CUT TO THE DESERT. Nic Cage and Ron Perlman are crusaders in God's Holy Army and they're kinda tired of crusading. TIME FOR A MONTAGE OF BATTLEFIELDS. Tripoli! Imbros! Artah! Smyrna! All the fighting is overlaid with an opera going NUTS and a Fantasy Catholic Priest screeching about GOD'S ENEMIES while Nic and Ron become increasingly cynical about this whole holy war.

Their breaking point comes when they're ordered to kill a bunch of combatants and they realize about 20 seconds too late that it's actually Innocent Women and possibly some children. THEY DEFECT and FUCK OFF. Then they walk from Smyrna to...I think it's Scotland? Or France? I don't know. Europe. They're in Fantasy Western Europe.

They investigate an apparently abandoned farm house to find two dead bodies who are dramatically NOT QUITE DEAD AFTER ALL, just very very plague-ridden. Nic and Ron leave as quickly as humanly possible, burn the farmhouse down, and take their horses. (They burn the farmhouse down after they very definitely probably die.)

A city!! Ron says they might be recognized there, but Nic points out that they need supplies. Once inside, however, it seems like everyone has enough problems of their own: lots of plague sufferers and flagellants roaming the streets. A Nice Widower explains the plague situation to them (75% dead, historically accurate) and Nic and Ron buy horses and supplies from a guy who notices their sword crest. This is apparently enough to report them as deserters? I guess? Does no one ever earn an honorable discharge?

IT DOESN'T MATTER because the local constabulary has nothing better to do than arrest them. A priest intervenes and tells them to walk this way. Where are they going? To PLAGUE-RIDDEN POPE CHRISTOPHER LEE who is suffering from extreme makeup. The plague is caused by a witch (don't worry, they already arrested her, she just looks like a harmless young woman) and she needs to be taken to a monastery where they will perform a spell to bind her powers and stop the plague.

Nic politely tells the pope to fuck himself with a broom (this is Polite Monotone Nic we're getting in this movie, not Wild Inflections Nic) and they get tossed into prison. After listening to the girl crying all night, Nic tells Pope Lee that they'll take the girl to the monastery if she'll get a fair trial there. The priest says, basically, "we'll definitely think about that, sure," which is the Captain Awkward way of saying no.

MAPS. Nic and Ron and the Nice Widower from before (who is part of the party now, and god only knows why) point out to the Priest that they need a guide through the forest. Time to recruit a Disreputable Merchant who is in the stocks for selling fake relics. Hang on, I have to get a foods. Fantasy Western Europe always makes me hungry.

Ok! I have cold bacon, a hunk of cheese, a slice of bread, and cranberry juice like a real medieval peasant. "Actually, Ana, cranberries are from--" The French province of Shutthefuckup, yes, I know.

Nic recruits himself the Merchant Guide and now we're going to collect the "sedated" witch who promptly flings herself on the Priest and tries to strangle him. That is eventually sorted out and she's loaded into a wagon cage. As they leave town, Pope Christopher Lee quietly dies. The PRETTIEST BOY IN THE WORLD crosses himself and looks sad. Widower (nice, gentle) asks about the evidence against the girl. She muttered things no one understood and passed through towns which then got plagued. Widower gently points out that HIS town got the plague without any muttery girls passing through.

Ron and Nic note that they're being followed on the road. Why, it's the Prettiest Boy In The World! He's determined to enlist in their service in exchange for, idk, a recommendation on his college application? It's not really clear. You'd think there would be better character witnesses to glom onto than two disgraced defectors who are only doing this because the alternative is jail, but I'm not a CAREER COUNSELOR so what do I know.

Pretty Boy and Ron decide they're going to have a manly duel on the grounds that Ron hasn't beaten anyone up in a while and he's antsy. I've had Mondays like that. Pretty Boy is allowed to join the party on the grounds that he fights good and has utterly beautiful hair.

Nighttime. Nic brings the Witch food and blankets, and this is very nice and unusual (why? she's supposed to arrive at the monastery alive!). She tells him how witch trials usually go in her village and SPOILER you die either way. Back at the campfire, Priest is like "I strongly and most suspiciously recommend that you do not talk to that girl lest she tell you things that will cloud your mind about me." Nic makes a frown. Widower makes a frown.

Widower decides he's going to let the girl go because there's no way she's going to have a fair trial. Priest tries to stop him, gets too close to the cage, and gets stabbed by the girl, who then takes his key and runs for the hills--or, rather, a nearby...ruined town?? You'd think they would've camped there instead of in the forest. The party starts hallucinating at the village--or maybe it's just the Widower--and the nice Widower runs around until he impales himself on Pretty Boy's sword.

Priest annoys Nic by insistently insisting that the witch killed the Widower. The witch girl starts acting suspiciously by turning from innocent waif to seductive seducer. At least, this is treated as suspicious; myself, I would absolutely offer a blowie for freedom.

A rotten bridge over a chasm! While the others argue about how rickety it looks, Nic leads his horse over it to prove it's safe. A man of action. Getting the cage across is another story. Pretty Boy falls off the bridge and the Witch catches his wrist with one hand, then easily pulls him up with inhuman strength. That doesn't prove anything except that she works out. The opera is just going WILD and the bridge has fallen in the chasm but everyone managed to get across. Ron is upset that Nic takes his alcohol to disinfect the Priest's wounds.

Nighttime. Nic interrupts Merchant Guide on his way to attempt murder of the witch on the grounds that he doesn't want to die and he's got a bad feeling about her. Mid-conversation, the girl howls like a wolf from inside her cage. "Did you hear that?" she asks cheekily. Wolves howl in answering response all over the woods. Many wolves later, the Merchant is dead and Nic is fed up. He loads a crossbow and aims it at the witch while the Priest and Ron interfere because she has to be killed the right way in order to end the plague.

Uh-oh. Ron is making plans for after the mission, and wants to visit home. He's a goner. They've reached the monastery but OH-NO all the monks are dead. Fortunately they left behind their holy book and Nic points out that the Priest could perform the ritual. The ritual takes a while and the witch taunts them with all their sins, up to and including mimicing voices at them. Priest is like "aw hell, this isn't a WITCH, it's a POSSESSION" and it turns out you have to file a different form for that.

This is the LONGEST RITUAL IN THE WORLD, it's like God doesn't want his dudes to have a fighting chance. Demon-girl quickly burns through her cage, knocks the knights aside, and flies off. Pretty Boy gets himself knighted (for refusing to fuck off when told to do so by Nic) and honestly is there an oversight committee for these things? Like, can you just be all "yeah, I was field-knighted, take my word for it"? He's definitely not getting a coat of arms for this.

There is some DRAMATIC!! MUSIC!! at the realization that the witch (who isn't a witch, but "Season of the Possessed" was taken as a title, I guess) must have let them bring her to the monastery because she WANTS to be here. But she can fly, so I'm a little confused on that point. Was this a SECRET monastery? Probably not, since the grifter merchant knew the way there.

We're going to try reading this ridiculously long ritual ONE MORE TIME, and the fact that a demon is flying around and zombie monks are running about willy-nilly is just a MINOR DISTRACTION. Ron Perlman dies of terminal Shouldn't Have Made Plans For The Future, Bitch. It's sad. That Priest is still goddamn reading. READ FASTER. Oh, the Priest is dead and now the Pretty Boy is reading the ritual. Either it doesn't matter who reads it or his prior status as Altar Boy counts.

Demon is banished. Girl is naked. Nic Cage dies from terminal badass.

Pretty Boy inherits Naked Girl as his new girlfriend.

Twist: Her name is Ana.

Double Twist: I'm not naked.

Oh, apparently she's not me, she's just someone with my name.

Open Thread: Yellow and Orange

I saw a few of these on Wednesday, they were all pretty striking.  Also, orange is my favorite color.


We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies and shows, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are the current ones:
   ● Game of Thrones
   ● Avengers: Endgame
   ● Captain Marvel


Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Film Corner: Cyclops

Tonight's Amazon Prime movie for busking is CYCLOPS. "When a terrifying Cyclops is terrorizing the Roman countryside the corrupt emperor, Tiberius, sends in his strongest general, Marcus." I...have so many questions. Why would you use terrifying and terrorizing within three words of each other? Why Romans? Why Tiberius? WE SHALL FIND OUT.

We open in a forest where three men are lost but happy to steal some random sheep. This will be fine. Actually, you know what, they're probably goats. I could only see them from a distance and I thought there was a baa-ing sound effect and also I'm a city slicker. A cyclops in a leather diaper is here to kill them all, so that was fast and to the point. That'll teach you to steal unattended goats.

Now we're in Rome. Got some folks in Passion play costumes and every building has a minimum of 20 external pillars. Oh gosh, Eric Roberts is in this. We last saw him playing a villain in KING'S GUARD. I assume he's the evil emperor. Everyone agrees to send Marcus after the cyclops, which seems reasonable, but it was sorta said in an evil way so maybe there's nefarious politics afoot.

Marcus is the youngest Roman officer, so they cast an actor who looks (and apparently is; I checked IMDB) 45 years old. He's hanging out in the local inn of ill repute, smacking on ladies. Marcus is extremely annoyed at being expected to do soldiery things. I've had those Mondays. The messenger stole his girl and I'm not sure why that was relevant to the movie, but we're marching now!

Ok, Marcus called them sheep so I feel better about calling them sheep. Kinda alarmed that they found the sheep so fast. We're 10 minutes into a 90 minute movie. He...He has a coach's whistle for the archers. that...anachronistic? It certainly feels anachronistic??? Ok, no, he's using his fingers. It just sounds like a coach's whistle. I can't whistle, so I'm perpetually astonished by people who can. Witches, all of them. It's been a long day.

Well, most of the infantry got crushed and the archers weren't terribly effective, but the MASSIVE PIT they dug off screen in a jiffy did in fact capture the cyclops. It's going back to Rome. Short movie, very bold.

Emperor Eric evils about the palace, evilly.

I really do wonder why they picked Tiberius. If you're going to just make up stuff, why not use Nero or Caligula? Someone fun!! There's a lot about Emperor Eric being a mean emperor and I'm a little worried because none of it had anything to do with cyclopes. Cyclopsi? Cyclopses.

Marcus leads the cyclops into Rome, parade-style. He pouts when Emperor Eric gives him a promotion but not a raise. Eric politely tells him to fuck off and then keep fucking off. I can't say I blame him. Outside, an improperly tethered cyclops wreaks havoc and eats a few people before being subdued. Emperor Eric decides to use him in the gladiator games. Oh no. Is this a ripoff attempt at Gladiator?

We have now had four scenes in a row establishing that Emperor Eric plans to feed innocent slaves to the cyclops. They really didn't trust the audience to be paying attention.

...five scenes.

The cyclops killed a guard, ate him, broke out of prison, and sneaked up on four poker players before anyone noticed. STEALTH CYCLOPS. The next morning: ""Oh my god! Get the troops! Tell them the cyclops is gone, and it's killing people!" *starts chugging sprite*

I assumed, rather naturally I feel, that the plot was going to be arena-based since the movie keeps harping on it, but the slaves seem to be doing a good job escaping in the whole "cyclops loose in the city" thing. Marcus is dispatched to bring the slaves back, while the cyclops sulks in prison. For a movie called CYCLOPS, most of the plot feels only tangentially related to the actual cyclops. Maybe the real cyclops was the friends we made along the way.

Marcus Romulus is all on board with crucifying the slaves until he realizes one of them is his old pal, so he defies orders and gets himself arrested and sentenced to the arena. We're go on GLADIATOR ripping-off.

Evil Emperor Eric thinks "decimation" means 50 percent. This troubles me.

Boy, this arena is packed. There's gotta be at least thirty people here!!

Back to the movie, the gladiators are panicking. None of that "listen to Russell Crowe and try to survive" nonsense here. There IS still a chain with a guy's hand on it, because GLADIATOR. ...I think the protagonist just died. It's nice to see the emperor sitting on the same level as all the peasants, though. Oh, I guess that dead guy just looked like the protagonist.

[TW: Rape] There's one woman in this movie and her entire job is to be threatened with rape by everyone except the good guys. So that's great.

I swear, we just did this with another movie: if you want a thrilling fight to the death, you can't have established both parties as wanting the same guy to win. Not unless the drama is gonna come from trying to keep them both alive! Otherwise, we know who will die. You need to be willing to let your protagonist face a little danger, or he's boring.

Marcus, who has previously never once been motivated by compassion, is lovingly teaching the cyclops to speak, moved by his plight as a prisoner. I don't know, folks. In the next scene, his idealism is undermined by explaining to the Good Girl that the only other woman in the movie MUST be evil, because who ever heard of a movie with two nice women? No, one of them must be villainous.

The crowd adores Marcus, which is very GLADIATOR but totally unearned here, and Tiberius fears that the people may revolt and place Marcus on the throne-- this is just GLADIATOR but not as good. There's a dramatic musical sting at the revelation that the cyclops will never be set free and, like, he....eats people? That's how he deals with conflict, by eating them.

So this is a good study is Spreading Your Plots Too Thin, really. We have too many to really develop them. There's the plot about Marcus gaining his freedom, the plot about his friend staying alive, the plot about the tragic cyclops, and the plot about the evil emperor. GLADIATOR, you may recall, attempted basically one plot: how to get rid of Emperor Incesthair. Marcus has to fight the cyclops, which is a disappointing step down from GLADIATOR when Russell fought Emperor Incesthair.

...oh. They threw Marcus' girlfriend into the ring to "help" him. So that's great. Writing pro-tip: have you considered NOT having everyone and everything threaten your lady characters? She got exactly one good hit in before being tossed aside. Marcus released the cyclops so it could storm into the crowd. You'd think this would affect his popularity with the common people.

Evil Emperor Eric is killed by the cyclops. He hadn't really done much evil--not like Emperor Incesthair--so it feels hollow. Rome is a republic now and there will be no more emperors, the end. Also, the cyclops died and I was supposed to feel sad but I refuse.

That was just awful. Has Eric Roberts ever been in a good movie?

Tomorrow I'll do a B movie I like.

Author Interview: J. Emery's FORGOTTEN MONSTER

Better with numbers than people, Taisce would have been perfectly happy managing the family estate the rest of his life. But when his older brother, Rupert, vanishes on a quest to find a mythical monster, Taisce has no choice but to find him before anyone realizes there's an heir missing.

Sef has learned a thing or two about magic and poor life choices during his centuries of cursed immortality. He's also fresh from a missed appointment with the hangman and looking to get out of town quickly, so he happily volunteers to assist in locating the wayward brother. In return for his services, Sef only wants one thing: for Taisce to break his curse. The fact that it will likely kill Sef (permanently this time) is just a bonus.

But somewhere in the midst of bickering and searching for Rupert, Taisce and Sef start to struggle with keeping business separate from pleasure, leaving both wondering how exactly their quest is going to end.

Ana: Today we have J. Emery introducing their book, FORGOTTEN MONSTER. J, how would you describe your book to your prospective readers? In broad terms, what is your book about?

J: At its heart Forgotten Monster is a fantasy romance about two lost people making bad choices together and accidentally falling in love. Taisce starts out very sheltered and set in his ways while Sef is the cynical, lonely traveler. They’re pretty much designed to clash and some magic and tropey fun also happens along the way.

The book is also set in a gaslamp fantasy world with a Western edge (a portion of the book takes place in a cursed desert) so I feel like it’s sort of an odd duck in the romance category. I’m sure there must be some similar books out there, but I haven’t found them yet. I’m always open to recommendations if anyone has them.

Ana: What themes does your book explore and what do you hope the reader will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader?What do you hope your book will mean to a reader?

J: Forgotten Monster dances through a few different themes but the biggest one (for me anyway) is how someone comes back from making A Big Mistake about which they have lots of regrets and learns to move on.

But mostly I just wanted to write a fun soap opera of a quest book with romance and melodrama and two characters who are extremely different but find a way to fit together anyway. As long as people are having fun while reading my work, that’s all I could ever ask for.

Ana: That's honestly my goal when writing, and I can't think of a better one! What prompted you to write this book and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain author or work that inspired you to add your voice to this genre? Besides the boatloads of money and rockstar fame, what motivated you?

J: I wrote Forgotten Monster at a time when I was figuring out some things about myself so it’s pretty special to me. It was the first time I tried writing a pansexual character (Sef, one of the main characters) or chronic pain (Taisce, the other main character). Both of those things are close to my heart since they’re Own Voices to an extent. So in a way you could say the book was a love letter to the parts of myself that I hadn’t accepted before.

I think I was always going to write romance. I’ve been a romance reader since I was in my early teens and those books were some of my earliest favorites. I still have a bunch of the old Harlequins I grew up with. So getting to write in a genre I’ve loved for decades is always a treat. Plus romance lets me embrace my desire to write emotional monologues. I’m really melodramatic at heart. Romance lets me embrace that.

Ana: If you could compare your book to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why? If you could say to a reader, "If you like X, you'll love my book!", which work would you invoke?

J: Hmm, that’s tough. I draw a lot of inspiration from Diana Wynne Jones and how she weaves together character interactions and fantasy elements, but this book is probably much closer to KJ Charles’ Charm of Magpies series. Forgotten Monster is secondary world fantasy but some of the trappings are similar. I definitely count those books as an influence.

Ana: Is this your first published work, or have you published other books? If you have published other books, how do they compare to this one? Do you have any more books planned, either as a follow-up to this one, or as a completely different book or genre?

J: This is my first published novel. Everything before this has been novella length or shorter and I’m excited to get a longer work out into the world. Novellas have my whole heart, but there’s something really great about finally getting to put one of my own novels on a shelf.

As for what comes after this, truthfully I originally planned Forgotten Monster as the first in a trilogy. The other two books probably won’t happen anymore (though you never know, I change my mind a lot and circumstances can change too) but that’s okay. I still have a lot of other books in the works including the one people may be familiar with from twitter. I’ve been calling it “shady vampire hunter” and it’s the story of a demisexual monster hunter who is forced to team up with the vampire he already tried to kill (twice). NineStar Press will be releasing it (with an actual title and everything) in spring of 2020.

Ana: Ahh, I love that! Where can readers obtain a copy of your book for them to enjoy? Do you have a means by which they can "sign up" to be notified when your next book comes available?

J: Forgotten Monster was released as an ebook at most book retailers as of August 7th. Print is still in the works and should follow within a few days.

[Everywhere Else.]

You can also sign up for my newsletter here.

Ana: Thank you. Is there anything else you wish to add for our readers?

J: Thanks for having me! I really appreciate this chance to talk about Forgotten Monster and I hope it’s as fun for readers as it was for me to write.

Film Corner: Killer Bees

Alright, this one isn't a dragon movie but one of you requested it and I promised to check it out: KILLER BEES. "When a truck crashes in a small town, releasing a torrent of angry killer bees, it's up to the sheriff to convince everyone they're deadly--but no one except a local beekeeper believes him."

This feels like a problem that will solve itself, given enough time?

Somewhere, on a farm, people being stung by bees panic and slap at them rather than walk briskly away. A man dies. Our protagonist is a small town sheriff with a surly teenage boy and a sweet daughter. Shockingly, his wife is alive; I had just assumed he was a single father. Oh, they're getting divorced. I knew we couldn't have a happily married protagonist in a disaster movie! Get your bets in on whether she dies or they reconcile through this terrifying tragedy. She's angry, so my money is tentatively on her dying horribly.

He works for the bank, foreclosing people off their property. Somewhere, a drunken old man runs into a bunch of boxes of live bees from Mexico. The bees, enraged, kill him by swarming down his throat. I guess? It wasn't really clear. Either way, I rule it self-defense.

The little girl informs Dad that in the bee world, women do all the work. "That's a nice change of pace, isn't it?" he remarks. Such a mystery why his wife wants a divorce. Later that night, rebellious teens steal a box of bees. They want honey without having to pay for it. Classic teenage felony. Oh-ho, I have been deceived! They really just wanted bees to bee-bomb someone's property.

"Bees can smell fear" has just been uttered at me.

The sheriff is incredibly squeamish about the autopsy and life was so different before CSI.

He's going to go visit a bee expert. She's attractive and divorced--ooh, the estranged wife's survival changes just took a nosedive. DRAMATIC MUSIC!! This is a FOREIGN BEE, from the dangerous corners of Peru. Not a safe American bee. "What would you say if I told you a farmer lost three head of prize cattle to these bees?" Really? The cattle is the impressive part? Not the dead farmer???? Was this filmed out of order and edited while drunk?

She tells the cops not to tell people about the bees, which I feel contradicts the spirit of the Amazon description, where she was portrayed as the only person willing to believe the sheriff about the bees. ...smash cut to her and the sheriff telling people about the bees. I...I don't...ok. Now Mister Moneybags is here and he's unhappy hearing about these killer bees. He tells him to not tell people about the bees. That's...That's already happened, you can't unring that bell.

"Sheriff, come quick! Killer bees are attacking people at the farmers market!" Oh-ho, it was a clever practical joke. Demonstrating once again that there's no secret to keep here, because everyone already knows. Small children dance around his little daughter, buzzing cruelly. I've seen enough movies to know they're gonna kill the adults and worship the bees as gods.

Oh no! The sheriff turned down a bonetown offer from the bee expert lady, but his son THINKS he went to bonetown. Now this innocent man will suffer needlessly. "If you've got any ideas for how to fix things with your mother, I'm all ears!" he says to his TEENAGE SON, helpfully. Somewhere, a man knowingly opens a box of bees, then freaks out and slaps at them when bees emerge. He dies. Self defense again.

Sheriff is taking his daughter to meet his new "Yes, she's a girl, and yes, she's my friend" girlfriend. HIS DAD DIED FROM A BEE STING??!? That's a lot to dump on us mid-movie!! Somewhere, in a field, bees swarm the local douchebag teenager.

We're....we're in a high speed pursuit with a truck full of killer bees. "Probably thinks I'm Immigration! I'll bet you anything he's illegal." *grinds teeth* The truck crashes. Bees swarm. They disappear to wait and plan their revenge. The town refuses to cancel the Bee Festival.

By the lake, horny teenagers cuddle while a fisherman dies messily. They take refugee in a cheap camping tent. Don't worry, Dad Sheriff is coming! He'll do....something?? Dad Sheriff climbs in his cop car and cycles the siren once. The bees flee instantly, being instinctively afraid of The Man.

The Banker has taken the sheriff's badge, but his family is making homemade flyers to warn people.

[Ableism] Wrinkle in the love interest plot: she has MS and obviously it would be too tragic to fall in love with a sick/disabled person. She's reconciling the wife with her sheriff boyfriend. Ugh.

Bees converge on a wee old woman in her home. The bees want blood. Her shotgun did not save her. Bees are naturally attracted to large loud gatherings of humans. The festival is in danger!! The bees demand flesh for their god. The surly teenage boy is playing original music that has Shakespeare lyrics. That poor boy is gonna be wedgied into next month. Bee special effects have descended onto the festival! Some of the people walking around in a bored manner didn't get the memo.

[Ableism] "I have terminal illness, so it doesn't matter what happens to me, but I think for your sake you should reconsider what you're about to do!" WOW.

Sheriff's wife and daughter are trapped in a barn full of bees. Girlfriend is going to go in and get them because she feels she's the most disposable. She tells everyone to walk out slowly, so of course they stampede. The bees demand blood for this trespass. "We have to keep them in the barn or they'll swarm again", she told them. Now they're planning to burn the barn down.

His wife and daughter are still trapped in there, and his girlfriend is dying, but he feels it will be EASIER to rescue them if the barn is on fire in addition to the bees.

Girlfriend didn't die! The....The killer bees stung her MS away.

In closing, a tornado touches down. ....I didn't make that up.

Thank you for coming, here's my tip jar until the bees sting my own disability away.

Film Corner: Dragon

Alright my besties, who is ready for me to watch a terrible Amazon Prime movie whilst sleepy and on pain pills. Tonight we have, merely, DRAGON. That's all you're gonna call your movie? Really? Just...DRAGON? Do you want people to not be able to Google it? Was that the intention?

"A princess must recruit* the most brave and powerful swordsmen in the land with the sole purpose of vanquishing the dark wizard who terrorizes the kingdom with a giant, menacing dragon." *I thought that said "rescue" at first and got all excited. A princess rescuing men.

The credits are over nice calm stock footage of mountains, while the orchestral music goes FUCKING NUTS. DA DUM DA DUM DA DUM!!!!!

The subtitles tell me our narrator is named Freyja. I approve. She's pronouncing "Sidhe" as "sci" like scythe or scifi. Not like "she" which was, I thought, the correct way.

I got extremely excited that the bad guys are elves this time (when does that ever happen??) but the elves are basically orcs in orc makeup. How sad.

An elf princess is captured and immediately starts explaining the rules of gentile captivity, so she's one of THOSE princesses. A dragon saves her, though it's unclear whether it meant to. Sorry, a HUMAN princess. I'm so used to the princesses being frail elves for the human protagonist to carry and/or bone that I confused myself. She's saved by two hooded men, one of whom is attractive. Bets on when the plain-looking one will die?

So many fantasy names! Too many!! We've reached critical fantasy name mass already! The princess is sharing her entire mission with these randos (visit Lord Fancybottom and tell him Gondor calls for some motherfucking aid) and they're telling her it won't work and I'd respect this movie more if they were deliberately lying to her. Getting a wee bit tired of ladies in fantasy knowing less than the nearest random gent.

Oh my god, she's just willingly taking off her fine clothes two feet away from them and wearing the "disguise" peasant dress they just happened to have on them. These dudes are probably thirty seconds from selling her into slavery or something.

Oh no, everyone is pronouncing Sidhe as "scythe". Not just the narrator. I understand pronouncing it "Sid-he", it's easy enough to do if you've only seen it written. But how do you get "scythe" out of that?

Freyja is.....a necromancer?

Oh my god, stop talking and do something. We don't need to know how and why the princess knows how to use a dang sword. This shortcut through the spooky forest is going well; they went a whole five steps before being ambushed by bandits. The princess was instantly captured, but it's fine because men saved her.

Apparently we've just decided that the bandits are our friends now. That was, uhh, swift!!? I mean, the bandits are prettier than the other characters, so by movie rules they may be our new protagonists. They're... Picts? Picts exist in this fantasy land?

They've offered to guide the princess and her party if they can have a land grant and/or sexual harassment innuendos. Ideal guides, obviously, so how can she say no? They also claim to be monster hunters who killed a monster the princess hasn't heard of, but she's like wow you all seem super trustworthy.

The dragon appears to insist that everyone stop talking and get back to the plot. I've DM'd games like that.
So elves are orcs but there are still pretty humany elves called "fey elves"? Why didn't they just call the orcs "orcs"?

Anyway, Freyja the Necromancer is kicking everyone's ass. I do appreciate magic ladies who (a) have elf girlfriends, (b) point out that all the men present suck, and (c) is encouraging the princess to find a better movie to be a part of, or at least recruit a better party. ....The ...The dragon is her creation, but she feels super bad about it and is looking for folks willing to kill it. That is a bit different from the opening description.

Furthermore, I'm really unclear how the elf-orcs fit into this whole "dragon plague" thing. Surely a rampaging dragon is a big enough deal on its own and doesn't need elf-orcs to help. I'm so confused? There was this whole quest to go through the forest and find Lord Fancybottom and get his help against the orcs. Now they're dropping all that to deal with this one dragon? That doesn't feel like the priority here, Becky!!
This is like two different movies inelegantly stitched together? Frankensteined??

Ok! We're back! Sorry about that; sometimes my meds knock me out mid-live tweet.

Excitingly, we're drawing a kind of connection between the dragon plot and the elf-orc plot? The princess' dad asked the necromancer to make a dragon, so she did. I presume for the purpose of killing orcs. I still don't understand why the dragon is a priority RIGHT NOW when previously they had limited time to rally humanity to Gondor before it falls. The dragon isn't HELPING the orcs, it's just a rogue element that occasionally kills people. Like a tornado with teeth.

I'm probably projecting, but I feel like the subtext of everything Freyja says to the princess is "have you considered getting rid of men and getting a girlfriend? Because it changed MY life." everyone is talking about morality and the nature of love. Not like we need to get a rush on. Orcs have shown up to force everyone to shut up about love. My DM heart sings in recognition.

Oh my god, they're now pointing out that they could just avoid the dragon, take the princess through the forest on her business, and come back later. YES, but I feel like that should've come up before now????
Editing! Writing! I just! Now they're talking dragon slaying tactics so apparently they really are professional monster hunters and that wasn't a bandity lie???? Oh good, they're arguing about the nature of honor. Did....did they give the actors a script or just tell them to LARP around the forest?

.....they're fake dragon hunters, but their tactics come from a druid tome.

There's a lot of drama over the cute commoner guy possibly dying to the dragon, and this would be just the worst thing ever, for reasons.

Movie: "It would be just awful if the male love interest were to die!!"

Me, eating cookies: "Ok, but the female love interest died in, like, the last thirty movies I watched."

Freyja is now Sexy Potatoes. Happens to the best of us.


Freyja is the princess' mother?????? That's a lot to suddenly drop on the viewer mid movie. The DM must have been struggling to get the players to care about the Freyja NPC.

The dragon folded like origami paper and now the princess is the new forest necromancer because I guess necromancy is hereditary like that.

That was awful. It was hours of aimless talking and then 30 seconds of climax.

Open Thread: Placeholder

MMMMMWx.              'xNXd'   .oXMMMMMM
MMMMXl.                 ,'       ;OWMMMM
MMW0;                             .oXMMM
MNx.                                ;0WM
Xl.                                  .dN

[Text talking about picture goes here]

I am on a bus.  The cord that connects my camera to my computer is not on the bus.  This is a generic, free, ok-to-use icon that has been run through a generic, free, ok-to-use "image to ascii" online utility.


We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies and shows, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are the current ones:
   ● Game of Thrones
   ● Avengers: Endgame
   ● Captain Marvel


Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Film Corner: Dragonquest

We probably won't be able to do this in one sitting because I have to drag myself to D&D tonight, but for the time we have together right now I bring you: DRAGONQUEST. Which I'm...pretty sure we haven't watched yet.

"When an ancient warlord summons a mythological beast, a young hero must complete a series of quests to awaken the dragon that will defeat the monster." So apparently the dragon is a good guy in this one! Bets on what the naughty beast will be? A portentously hooded man pours blood into the Grand Canyon. It summons...well, it looks like a dragon, Bob. Made of smoke and flame, yes, but still a dragon.

Somewhere, a protagonist is under a patchwork quilt. I like that. We don't see enough quilts in these movies. O-ho! I have been played for a fool! The protagonist does not sleep under his lovingly quilted quilt, but has instead slipped out the bedroom window for likely shenanigans. He has...a tiny spy glass. He's...using the spy glass to peep on a girl. He may or may not be smoking pixie dust; I'm not clear on that part AT ALL. We have entered creepy peeping tom territory, this is not a drill. Can I have a new protagonist, please? How does he even OWN a spy glass, those aren't exactly standard issue for fantasy villages!!

Film Corner: Dragons of Camelot

Alright, friendos, I'm still sick as fuck so it's time for yet another Amazon Prime fantasy movie, at least until the sweet release of sleep. Apparently I forgot to put my tip jar in the last two threads, so here's a can to put a dollar in if you want! It buys food, so that's cool.

This one is called DRAGONS OF CAMELOT and I know it's gonna be good because it's got 2 stars on Amazon. Do you know how bad something has to be to get 2 stars? This movie is probably going to burn down my house.

"Camelot is plunged into darkness after King Arthur dies. Now the reign of his cruel sister, Morgana, begins. Commanding three deadly dragons, she hunts the remaining Knights of the Round Table." I'm just gonna be on Morgana's side from the start, see if that helps at all.

We open with Morgana summoning and binding a dragon. The special effects are fine, so that can't be why the 2 stars. Arthur is dying of terminal white beard, so I'm not sure why Morgana and everyone else look like the age they'd be if he died properly from terminal battle wounds. Arthur tells Gwen that he forgives her for that whole Lancelot thing and that he regrets disbanding his knights over the affair.


Sure, ok, I don't care.

Oh, I guess Arthur adopted him? Lancelot is his sperm donor.

Arthur just told Galahad that Lancelot is Camelot's only hope, and that's gotta be a real kick in the teeth, eh? "Kid, you're not competent to run things around here; go get your old man." The acting is all perfectly competent so far! I'm waiting for the 2 starishness like the sword of fucking Damocles.

Galahad holds a funeral pyre service for about 15 random villagers. Back at the castle, Morgana makes her move. A villager questions this and Morgana has VAMPIRE SPEED EFFECTS and snaps her neck. She's also kinda dressing like a vampire, actually. Now Galahad is calling Gwen "mother" and I honestly don't know if they mean biologically or adoptionally.

Gawain is Team Morgana and the knights are very sad about that. He even growls "I always join the winning side!" which is SO OUT OF CHARACTER FOR GAWAIN. Someone gets eaten by a dragon. Excalibur no longer makes the wielder hot stuff, I guess, because Galahad crumpled like a paper bag. I...I think Galahad is Gwen's bio kid here, actually. Huh.

Gwen and Merlin get tossed in the dungeons, while Galahad grabs the shattered remains of Excalibur and runs for the hills. Galahad's pursuers are so inept that I honestly can't tell if they're letting him go because the script needs him to get away, or if they're secretly loyal to Arthur and covering for his escape.

Here, have my favorite Gawain song and know how deeply out of character it is to have him growling "I always join the winning side!!" at Galahad. Ooh, maybe the fact that it's out of character is a CLUE and he'll BETRAY Morgana. Traditionally, the knights of the round table are not smart cookies, but Gawain could probably pull off a double-cross. Maybe.

Morgana's crystal ball is a black bowling ball and I'm fucking stealing that if I ever make a low budget movie. Gawain tells her it's a waste of time to look for Galahad and to be happy with seizing Camelot. Still holding out hope for Secret Agent Gawain.

Galahad just got captured by a girl bandit and her brothers. Oh, fucking-- The robbers are Percival, Bors, and Dindrane. (Related only to Percival, not Bors, only one of them is her brother, we apologize for the error in the summary above.) Percival is being a real prick about this whole situation. No one explains why ex-Knights of the Round Table are robbing people, but since that's what knights do I feel bad dinging it. Historically accurate if not mythologically accurate.

The dragon strafes them and now they have horses they pulled out of their asses. Lancelot is brooding in a tavern and (a) extremely attractive silver fox, and (b) cunning enough to prevent a bar brawl when Galahad bumps into the wrong dudes. We're just calling Morgana "Morgan" now. Do scripts even have consistency checkers? Pick one and stick with it!

Dindrane is so out of fucks for all of this and I kinda love how utterly DONE she is? Once again, they pull horses out of their butts and skedaddle, this time from Morgana's soldiers. One of Morgana's nameless soldiers is this pretty boy who just looks delighted to be in a movie and I love him.

Gawain has graduated to questioning Morgana's orders to kill women and children if they harbor Lancelot. BACK AT THE DUNGEON. Gwen is giving Merlin a pep talk while he insists that his powers have been taken by Morgana. Galahad seeks Sir Ekhart. Nothing to report except that the ground is soft enough for the horses to leave little divots. I wonder what that's like.

In an interesting reversal of expectation, Ekhart is NOT the farm owner; he's a lowly farmhand employed by the farm owner. He polishes his armor every day and dreams of being a knight again, my heart. The dragon shows up and weren't we promised THREE dragons? So ok, they need to get the sword to the stone (because that the sword?) but there's a dragon in the way. Percival is all "Lancelot, you totally got this, we'll stay back here."

They cram all the pieces of Excalibur into the stone, it reboots itself, and Galahad pulls that bad boy out like the chosen one that he apparently is. As is traditional with ALL king arthur movies, Bors is down first, the poor boy. Lancelot took the dragon's head off with Excalibur, but I remind you that was a baby dragon so it's not really that impressive. And Bors is dead. Galahad is like "It's what he would've wanted" but I'm pretty sure that's a Citation Needed.

Dindrane lays her head on Galahad's shoulder and it's so refreshing that he just looks like "oh! I have a friend!!" rather than simmering with potent lust at her. I'VE WATCHED A LOT OF BAD MOVIES, OK. In an attractive Ren Faire village which will definitely NOT be sacked and burned in retaliation, gentle goodly villagers welcome the knights with open arms. Morgana requisitions another dragon from the dragon cave. I guess we're gonna have three sequential dragons.

How EXACTLY was Lady Dindrane able to skin the entire dragon, and why is she not covered in blood??

Smash cut to Galahad and Dindrane making out and tearing each other's clothes off and holy shit that was abrupt. I mean, obviously it was coming because she's the only girl in this film, but. One fade-to-black later and a dragon appears to strafe the village. Ekhart is down. Lancelot wounds the dragon but didn't kill it. It flees. The village didn't burn down, though, so-- Well, Morgana's men are invading, so there's that. They're going to take the villagers to a castle, because that will cheer them up, I guess?

Oh my god, actual dialog:

"Arrows don't work!!"

"What if the arrow is on fire? And we send it down the creature's throat just as it inhales?"

WHAT IF THE ARROW IS MADE OF DIAMONDS AND WE POISON THE TIP, WHAT IF THE ARROW IS ADAMANTIUM. Percival tells her to loose the arrow too soon, and it doesn't work. Percival is also giving his blessing for Dindrane to keep going to bonetown with Galahad, as long as he puts a ring on it one of these days.

HAHAHA, Galahad is super excited about this secret tunnel under the castle that Lancelot knows about until "I used it to visit your mother" is said and he's like WHY WHY WOULD YOU SAY THAT TO ME, OUT LOUD, TO MY EARS.

I'm pretty sure the black bowling ball is engraved with the name of the bowling alley they borrowed it from; I can SEE letters, I just can't make them out.

Percival is eaten. Dindrane blows it up with the fire arrow trick; does not even hesitate. Not even gonna bury her brother. They got shit to do. (I mean, it irks me when people take a day to bury someone when the plot doesn't have time for that, but still. Jarring.) Morgana requisitions a third dragon from the Cave of Dragons.

Galahad is now anxiously shutting Lancelot down every time he tries to talk about Gwen. Your parents boned, kiddo, I'm sorry. Probably had a threesome with Arthur, even, depends on who you ask, but that's not the point now. Let Gwen get her freak on.

In the dungeons, Merlin continues to fail. Gwen is removed in order to be Lancelot-bait. Lancelot gives himself up so....he and Gwen can die together? He knew Morgana wouldn't free her, he even says that! Galahad and Dindrane decide to take on the entire army, but rioting villagers are here to back them up. Where did they come from???

King Arthur's spirit tells Merlin to stop being such a whiny baby. ...that works? For fuck's sake, Gwen said all that and it did nothing!!

Well, Gawain missed his chance to double cross Morgana. He died at the rounded end of Excalibur. The climatic wizard battle between Merlin and Morgana involves more running than I would've expected. Lancelot is facing the dragon with a shield made from the skin of its own baby. Kinda tacky. Morgana and the dragon die at pretty much the same time but for different reasons.

Galahad and Dindrane become king and queen, Lancelot stays on as his champion, and Excalibur gets tossed into the lake to be with Arthur. It's not stated, but I assume Gwen immediately resumes boning Lancelot until he can't walk straight.

That wasn't a 2 star movie! I demand a refund. That was a boring 3 star movie: competently acted without anything really egregious I can get worked up about.

Film Corner: Orcs!

Alright, get in, we're doing another Amazon Prime movie. (There's SO MANY.) This one is called KNIGHT GAMES. "A beautiful princess is held prisoner by two fierce dragons, and her cries for help attract heroic knights from all over the kingdom. But who is really helping whom?" Tiny hint of possible agency? Can it be??"

Wait, is this animated?

Oh gosh, one of the dragons is a baby.

The animation is so bad, it's like an episode of Reboot but coated in Vaseline to make everything blurry.

Oh, it's not even a movie; it's an animated short. It was silly and pointless and fuzzy. TL;DR: the princess screams so knights will come get killed, and she enjoys this arrangement. The end. How does that shitty 6 minute short have 55 reviews; I'd kill a dragon for 55 reviews on my books.

Let's try something from 2017: ORCS! The exclamation point is part of the title; I didn't add that in. "When marauding orcs invade a US National Park, our collective fates lie in the hands of Ranger Cal Robertson and his side-kick Volunteer Cadet Hobie, who must stop the wave of destruction before the whole world is overrun." Look, if orcs had invaded in 2017, I can't promise I wouldn't have welcomed being overrun.

@NAJohnson. "A breath of fresh air in our polarized political climate." -scrawled in blood on the wall of sacked and pillaged NYT offices.

It stars Adam Johnson, aka That Guy Who Is In ALL These Movies. Mythica, Dudes & Dragons, Dragonfyre, all of them. I'm think I'm falling in love with him through a sort of adjacent Stockholm syndrome. Amazon Prime Movie Syndrome. Also, IMDB says this movie came out in 2011, so Amazon will have to fight it out with them.

The movie opens with a real quote from 1928 about how great park rangers are, and I... I'm really just here for the orcs? The title of the movie is ORCS!, exclamation point, not RANGERS! In 1909, a miner breaks through to an orc kingdom (I guess?) and is eaten, but a stick of TNT goes off (why??) and the entrance to Orcland is lost in the rubble. I demand an alternate history written in the style of @gaileyfrey in which 1909 orcs invaded Wyoming.

In an interesting change of type, Adam is a goofy dork rather than an established competent fighter. A lady named Marge runs the park with an iron fist and I ADORE HER. The volunteer ranger is the Blond Brother (DUDES & DRAGONS) / Nice Redneck (DRAGONFYRE). Y'all, I'm face blind and I'm still starting to recognize these folks. That's amazing to me. I want a career doing all the B-tier fantasy movies, dammit.

Oh my god, Claire is in this too. Claire is in ALL THE MOVIES. She's playing a camping teenager who is definitely not doing anything illegal in the park with her friends (who will all definitely die). Ranger Adam has convinced the cadet that he (Adam) has to smoke one of the teenagers' joints in order to determine it's Real Marijuana. Unlike every other time I've seen marijuana in a movie, Ranger Adam is just slightly more relaxed and kinda hungry, rather than giggling his head off.

DRAMA! A ranger is missing and two boaters are full of arrows. (The two boaters were, amusingly, the parents from DUDES & DRAGONS.) THERE'S A DEAD BODY IN THE CAMP TOILETS. It's the missing ranger!

@liminalfruitbat. This is like British TV in the seventies.

(Editor's Note: The above comment is in reference to the recurring actors. Not to dead bodies in toilets. In Britain, that would be dead bodies in loos.)

Cadet is obsessed with Bigfoot, lolsob. NIGHTFALL. Cadet crashes with Ranger Adam. Teenagers die messily.

The teenager campsite is bloody but devoid of bodies, so Ranger Adam believes a bear attacked and the kids ran off. They need to find bear and kids. Oh god. They find the orcs, think they're the teens, chew them out, THEN notice Claire's head on a spike and VERY SENSIBLY high tail it out of there at full speed while screaming.

"Attention park patrons. Please remain calm, but there is a horde of bloodthirsty murderers heading this way." I'M SCREAMING, this is the best B movie ever, this heartily deserves the exclamation point in the title.
They cleared out everyone except the golf course. This is gonna be good.

I'M CRYING OMG. Cadet is doing the Aragorn thing of "a golfer lay here...and another...they crawled this way" and Ranger Adam is not having ANY of this. "Hobie. Buddy. Please tell me you're not LARPing?" I love how seriously they're taking this!! It's none of that "oh uhh the golf cart is bloody because one of them had a bloody nose" bullshit you see in other movies.


Marge oh no no no no n no no n no!!

"It's an orc!" "Those don't exist!"

RANGER ADAM'S ENVIRONMENTALIST EX-GIRLFRIEND SAVED THEM WITH ARROWS AND DYNAMITE. She's an eco-terrorist omg omg omg omg omg and she uses sarcasm. Oh my god, they're doing an exact replica of the Frodo "get off the road!!" scene from Fellowship. These movies are such dorkfests and I love them.

They've split the party, this is not a drill. They've split the party.

PHEW, ok, they're back together and we're having the gun porn now. "God bless those NRA libertarians" so I assume this is all confiscated from park visitors. Amazingly, the orc armor actually makes them difficult to kill. Bullets aren't plowing through them like butter as in the last movie, DRAGONFYRE.

Aww aww oh my heart, my heart.

Ho shit, the orcs are smart enough to figure out the dynamite she keeps firing at them.

Holy shit, I'm actually very tense about whether everyone will make it.

"Hooray!! Everyone I cared about lived!!

Then they all moved to Hawaii (they had an ongoing colonialist fantasy about moving there, heads up) and the fact that there's another orc portal in the Hawaii park should not alarm anyone!!

That was surprisingly not-awful? The third act battle-siege went on a little longer than I would've liked, but there was character stuff going on top so it wouldn't get totally monotonous. I mean, it's still a B movie don't get me wrong, but I actually got invested in the characters way more than usual.

All of us should DEFINITELY fire our guidance counselors for not informing us there's a career to be had in fantasy B movies.

Open Thread: Light through trees

Taken on July 14th, apparently.


We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies and shows, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are the current ones:
   ● Game of Thrones
   ● Avengers: Endgame
   ● Captain Marvel


Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Transcending Flesh: Bodily Autonomy and Rape Culture

Note: This was previously published on my Patreon.

a pink and blue sky with a radio tower

This essay is one in a series which focuses on writing gender in science fiction and fantasy settings that provide body modification options beyond our current level of technology. Note that you can download this collection of essays from my website here.


Transcending Flesh:
Gender and Body Diversity in Futuristic and Fantastical Settings

Essay #14: Bodily Autonomy and Rape Culture

"Bodily autonomy" refers to a person's basic human right to control what is done to their body. This right is why body alterations are a matter of consent and personal choice, whether the alteration be a tattoo, piercing, surgery, haircut, pregnancy, abortion, or insertion of a foreign object into that body. It is why medical procedures require consent, with only rare exceptions made for life-or-death situations where the patient cannot communicate their desires. We even extend bodily autonomy past the limits of human life: dead people cannot be harvested for blood, tissue, or organs unless consent was affirmatively given in life.

If someone forces a body alteration onto someone else without their consent, or if they willfully prevent someone else from getting a desired body alteration, that person is a villain. This is not a special body modification rule; this is a matter of basic rights. People who knowingly and egregiously disregard bodily autonomy are villains. Anyone in your story who tries to force a character to inhabit a body configuration they do not want is committing an act of violation and should be opposed by good and decent characters.

Let me repeat that: Forcing someone to inhabit a body or a body configuration they do not want is an act of violation. The character in question should recognize this, as should other characters who learn of the situation. If the narrative treats forcible body alteration as slapstick comedy or merely inconvenient, then the author has failed to understand the grave trespass of human rights which has occurred within the narrative.

~Rapists and Body Modification~

Do not "punish" or "teach" rapists who have a penis by changing their body to have a vagina instead.

This is an incredibly problematic trope which implies that vagina-owning people are not rapists (some are!) and that rape or the threat of rape makes effective anti-rape education (since the rapist will now have to defend his new vagina from other rapists, thus supposedly learning a hard but valuable lesson about life). Relying on rape as a punishment only further entrenches rape culture and hostility to bodily autonomy. If we can revoke human rights like bodily autonomy from rapists (by either forcibly changing or forcibly invading their bodies), then those rights can be revoked from the rest of us.

There is an additional implication in this trope that the rapist will stop being a rapist because he no longer has a penis with which to rape. This is a false and harmful view of rape which harms many victims. Rapists do not require a working penis in order to rape, and the removal of a penis from a rapist will not suddenly make them not want to rape anymore. Rape is not caused by an out-of-control penis; rape is a choice that rapists make in order to hurt, humiliate, or otherwise harm someone. Changing a rapist into a new body doesn't address his motives; he will just carry on finding new victims to harm with his new body.

~Marriage and Body Modification~

Bodily autonomy is for everyone. We all have the right to change our body, and we all have the right to not conduct sexual activity with another person. Those rights are not waived upon marriage. If Bob is married to Babs, he can and should be able to modify his body without her consent because it is his body. If she doesn't like the new body configuration he has decided to obtain, she may decide she doesn't wish to touch him with her body. That is valid! Bob owns his body and Babs owns her body.

I have seen a BodyMod magitech setting where the author worked themself up into knots at the idea that a marital partner might change their body whilst married. In an attempt to prevent this, the author went so far as to make body modification within the bounds of marriage illegal in their fictional society! Reminder: Any law which strips bodily autonomy from a person by denying them access to body modification is an unjust law which interferes with our basic human right to control our own bodies.

In the context of the fictional marriage situation above and Bob's choice to pursue body modification, it is important to remember that Babs doesn't have to like Bob's new body. Babs doesn't have to touch Bob's new body. Babs doesn't have to stay married to Bob! But Babs should respect that Bob has the same right to his body as she has to hers. Again: Bodily autonomy is for everyone.

No one should be legally allowed to stop someone from accessing body modification, and any setting which allows for this must be written with care! Many of your trans readers have encountered unsupportive families and spouses who attempted to use those relationship ties to impose ownership over their body. It is harmful to write a society in which the legal system grants ownership of trans people's bodies to their spouses unless the narrative is going to demonstrate that this law is a grievous violation of human rights.

If trans people do not have bodily autonomy in your setting, then that decision has a ripple effect on the bodily autonomy of every person. Bodily autonomy protects people from spousal rape, reproductive coercion, medical abuse, and so much more. Think carefully about how your setting and society values bodily autonomy as a whole, and understand that these things are all linked. You cannot make laws limiting the use of BodyMod magitech without those laws laying the foundation to remove bodily autonomy entirely.

August Newsletter (2019)

August is here!

July was a funny month for me. My mother had surgery, but she's doing very well. I was rear-ended on my way to pick up a friend at the airport, but they were insured and my car is being (slowly) fixed and the accident was in super-duper slow-motion and doesn't seem to have hurt me. (My friend's visit was a cathartic blast and greatly cheered me!) I went back to work after those two weeks off without having accomplished much, but I felt rested and that has helped a lot. My ADHD meds seem to be helping me a lot, too. That's a nice feeling!

Cool Things! I'm still in "creative hibernation", but I do have a short story for my patrons this month!! It's an adapted, edited, and slightly expanded version of something I wrote in my blog comments 2 years ago; it felt good to dip my toes back into making the words line up and go! I have also finally scheduled my first promised "D&D with 3D Printers" Patreon post, which I hope will be fun and interesting for you all! I am also still very much enjoying my Phoenix Wright let's play (I do voices!), and though I'm no longer doing daily video upload announcements on here, there is a patreon post scheduled for later in the month that has my thoughts on one of the cases in the game. It's ranty and lovely, haha.

Reminder! It's a new month, which means new paper books for the $25 patrons and new bookmarks for the $5 patrons! If I don't have your address, send me a message on the internal system or email me at AnaMardoll at gmail dot com. I love sending ya'll things!

An index to the deconstructions on my blog is here. A new Narnia is up here.

My YouTube channel is here. The Phoenix Wright videos are here. I read all the comments!

Do you like "Tumblr Threads" which collect funny tumblr posts? I have one here!

My Twitter account @DivorceKittens with stories and pictures is here.

Thank you all so much again for being here with me.

Film Corner: Dragonfyre

I'm siiiiiiick and very lonely so it's Bad Amazon Prime Movie time. [TW: Illness] Like, literally I'm jumping up to go vomit every few minutes, so this is suckier than usual. Fuck you, body.

Today's offering is DRAGONFYRE. "In an epic battle of good versus evil, The Sentinel and his unlikely band of heroes must fight the Orcs, lords of dragons, soldiers of death to protect a princess from the hands of an evil sorcerous [sic] who would sacrifice her to take over the world." That description does not spark joy.

Strong start! Some elves run from orcs in a woods while THE BIGGEST MOON EVER slowly eclipses a secondary and equally huge moon in the night sky above. It's very clearly shot day-for-night but honestly I prefer that to the Game of Thrones method where you can't see shit.

...oh no, I've seen this movie before. Y'all. Y'all this movie is a RIDE.

The elf princess' escorts are killed by orcs; she runs to a cave which opens because of the eclipse. She's looking for a wizard named Richard. The wizard has an AUTOMATIC RIFLE and mows down all the orcs, finishing up the last few with his DUAL WIELDED PISTOLS. America, my friends. He's wearing a duster coat, because of course he is. The wizard dies from a spirit curse but promises that a new Sentinel will come. That's right, bitches, we're on modern day Earth now.

A handsome man wakes up after flashback dreams about his military service. His realtor is the chick from DUDES & DRAGONS and MYTHICA. Is she in *every* dragon movie? *checks her imdb* Oh my god, she kinda IS in every dragon movie. Amazing.

Ranger Joe wants peace and quiet, so he's bought the old house that the (now deceased) wizard lived in. Since I'm pretty sure the elf girl is running around on the property still, this is an AMAZINGLY swift timeline. Like: The wizard was found dead, his house put on the market, and sold in the space day? Two? This realtor may be a wizard as well.

Ranger Joe is pretty pumped about moving into this completely furnished old house. He's slightly discomforted by the previous guy's apparent obsession with star charts. Ranger Joe rides out on his property and sees the Elf Princess so obviously he's going to chase her. Ranger Joe has strong feelings about property rights. Elf kicks him in the face and runs off, so obviously I like her.

NIGHTTIME. Ranger Joe is alarmed when orcs show up yelling "WI-ZARD!!"

CONTINUITY ERROR: the screwdriver he is holding and which will surely soon be used as a weapon has changed from a Philips to a flathead and this troubles me. "This is private property" says Ranger Joe to a fully armed and armored orc regiment. God, you just know his favorite author is Ayn Rand. ...Ranger Joe is pretty frisky for someone with an arrow in his chest. His SECOND AMENDMENT SHOTGUN drove the orcs off and you're un-American if you don't find that beautiful.

[Racism] Oh shit. There's a Portentous Native American character showing up in Ranger Joe's dreams. He healed Ranger Joe and I guess dragged him to this log cabin lined with furs. (The actor was--he's now deceased--a Filipino-American. I can't find any indication that he ever joined an indigenous nation. I'm assuming this is racist appropriation going on here.) With stereotypically halting English, Whitefeather fills Ranger Joe in on orcs, magic, and worldgates. He's also wearing a blindfold to suggest blindness? How many identities are being trampled here, I swear to god.

Somewhere, rednecks camp. Two of the men are also from DUDES & DRAGONS. Why are dragon movies so incestuous with their casting??? I'm fascinated by this massive overlap of actors. ...Oh my god, I was wrong; it's not TWO guys from DUDES & DRAGONS, it's ALL THREE. The rednecks are the Prince, the Brother, and the Servant.

Orcs kill most of the rednecks, but the Elf saves the nice one. Elf runs to Ranger Joe's house and he reluctantly lets her in. He seems REALLY CHILL over the entire situation of orcs exist and having been arrowed by one. I would be having existential questions, but not Ranger Joe.

There's a sticker in the house that says WHEN GUNS ARE OUTLAWED, I'LL BECOME AN OUTLAW, just to make sure you get the goshdang point. Ranger Joe shoots one of the orcs in the back and tells the rest that this is PRIVATE PROPERTY. He's really hung up on his property rights, y'all.

Elf Girl got herself poisoned, so it's off to Whitefeather to heal her. I'm impressed that he was able to instantly find and treat the cut on her face, given that he's supposed to be blind. She could've been cut anywhere! But, nope, he went straight for the little shallow facial cut which is poisoned with some kind of compound which must surely be from the other world (not to mention her own biology is alien!) but Whitefeather'll heal it all up. Rub some salt on it, that's witchy.

Ranger Joe is sad because he doesn't want to be a hero. He leaves the unconscious Elf Girl with this random guy, because......I don't know why, y'all. Trust, I guess.

Back at the house, Ranger Joe realizes one of the dead orcs isn't dead after all, so it's time for CREATIVE QUESTIONING. Oh and there's a wall of sexy guns in the basement, if you like that sort of thing. Tasers wake up orcs, in case you were wondering. Ranger Joe wants to know how many orcs are in "my woods". I really do think he's about to explain John Galt. "I'm now going to read you this scene from The Fountainhead..." (ok, not really.)

PLOT: if the Elf is sacrificed properly, the worldgates will open and orcs can invade Earth. For...reasons.

Elf Girl decides to bring a sword to an arrow fight, and Whitefeather has to haul her back inside the log cabin. Which, somehow? Oh, there's a back exit. Ranger Joe is here on his John Deere with his automatic gun! Elf climbs up behind him and hangs on. She's driving the John Deere while he shoots orcs and if you don't love this scene you don't love AMERICA probably.

Back at the house, Ranger Joe sets up a sniper nest on the roof. I wish I could tell you what gun he's using, but all I know is that it's a Big One. SLOW MOTION SNIPING OCCURS. The Elf Girl frowns and points out that this really isn't magic, is it?

Later that night, Whitefeather and Nice Redneck show up at the house. Nice Redneck suggests that they all drive to New Mexico. Ranger Joe explains that HIS PROPERTY is HIS PROPERTY and no orcs are allowed. The astronomy the previous wizard left behind points to an upcoming time when shit will go down. The previous wizard also left behind a JUGGERNAUT WAR WAGON. Pffft, I could be a wizard with this kind of prep. Ranger Joe is really falling up here.

Invasion time! The worldgate will be open for 23 minutes. That's a lot of orcs.

Hahaha, omg, the Elf Girl is using a fucking modern compound bow. YES. I'm down with that, WHY NOT. I mean, she had frequent contact with the old wizard; maybe he bought it for her. The...the realtor just pulled up in her van, mid-catapult loading. Oh dear, her van was catapulted.

Ranger Joe EMERGES FROM THE LAND ITSELF, having been hiding under a carefully disguised pit, and mows the orcs down with a GUN. THIS IS HIS PROPERTY. HE IS ONE WITH THE PROPERTY. HE IS THE PROPERTY. Sniper fire gives Ranger Joe cover to flee. It's the Realtor! She's on the roof in her miniskirt, gleefully snipping away at far-off orcs whom I presume she believes aren't human. She's taking this well.

Ranger Joe does not need to aim his automatic gun! Ranger Joe just waves it left to right and everything falls down! Ranger Joe is almost captured, but A TANK APPEARS. It's Redneck on what appears to be anti-aircraft ordnance! I don't know!

......ok, and THAT is a grenade launcher.


The Elf and her compound bow have exactly the same range as the Realtor sniper next to her, which I find interesting.

Oh no! Realtor down! We have Realtor down!

A dragon emerges. Well, thank god they have an anti-aircraft gun, I guess.

Both Redneck and Tank have been destroyed by dragon...fyre. Elf has gotten herself kidnapped.

The house has been destroyed as well. HIS PROPERTY.

Elf Girl has been drugged and is now Sexy Potatoes.

Ranger Joe is John Deereing to the rescue!!!

Ranger Joe has punched a dragon. Cross that off the bucket list.

Ok, we're down to Elf Girl, Ranger Joe, and an army of orcs. But it's ok because Ranger Joe rolled a high intimidation check and everyone ran off. Elf Girl asks Ranger Joe to stay in her world and go to bonetown, but he has to return to his one true love: his property. The end.

Somewhere, Ayn Rand smiles.

Film Corner: Dudes & Dragons

Ok, this Amazon Prime movie I am confident will be terrible in funner ways than the last one. How do I know that? It's called DUDES & DRAGONS.

"When a powerful wizard vows to rid the land of love through the use of his fire-breathing dragon, a brave team of eccentric warriors embark on a grand quest to break the curse, defeat the wizard, and slay his terrible beast." I can't deal with the sheer mind-altering beauty of that description. RID THE LAND OF LOVE? VIA DRAGON???!?

The wizard?? Is also?? Played by Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer?? I DON'T KNOW WHY. WHY NOT.

We start with a definition: "Dolvarnog: an enchanted fire-breathing dragon specifically trained to murder anyone showing outward signs of love." AMAZING. Oh gosh, one of the actors is the Fighter from Mythica. Fantasy Amazon Prime movies have a lot of actor overlap.



See? See how easy I am to please?????? It's not hard!!

...mmph, the Sacrificial Virgin is comically killed by a love-dragon right after being saved, I don't love THAT. Ok, the Handsome Knight got killed too, my annoyance is assuaged. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Even better: He got killed in slow-mo, which is the best death.

I just have so many questions about a wizard who specifically trains a dragon to ONLY look for love.

Oh hello, what's happening. A pretty blond man is running in slow motion and acquires a magic ring. He gives it to his forbidden lover, who is ALSO from Mythica. This Fantasy Movie Venn diagram is getting crowded. (The forbidden lover is a woman, sorry if I got your hopes up that a fantasy movie might have gay rep. I'm disappointed too. Her forbiddenness is that she's an elf and his parents are racist.)

Wizard Spike is apparently doing this whole dolvarnog thing because he's in love and his childhood girlfriend refuses to un-breakup with him. Blond can't marry his Elf girlfriend unless he brings back his older brother, the Mythica Fighter from before the credits. OFF WE GO.

Warrior doesn't want to marry and settle down, so Blond can't have his Elf, BUT a magical dragonfly drops a "help me Obi-Wan Kenobi" message from Wizard Spike's captive ex-girlfriend. She even does the Leia motion of fiddling with R2D2; somebody was enjoying themselves. "Help me if you want to hold me, you're my only hope." OH MY GOD WHAT TERRIBLE PUNNAGE.

Elf-maiden got herself partially Dolvarnog'd so now we're on a FETCH QUEST and also some utterly amazing, uh, wagoneering was done and there was some catapulting.

The fat guy saved everyone!

Leia is befriending the dragon and it's sweet.

They're slow-motion eating now and we have hit the limits of what slow-motion can make cool.

I wonder if I'd like this hero as much as I do (I do!) if I didn't already love him from Mythica. I like to think I would, but unless I get amnesia we'll never know for sure.

[TW: Rape] I should TW for a previous scene; Blond was kidnapped and sexually threatened by a goblin queen, but he was saved just in time. And of course the whole thing with Wizard Spike holding his cousin hostage until she agrees to marry him is rapey. Just heads-up for all that. It's certainly possible to make a fantasy movie without threatening anyone with rape, but a lot of writers seem unaware of that??

There's a whole lot about romantic love being the BEST THING EVER and I keep wanting to yell "have you heard of aros" at the tv, but now they have to fake love as a trap so one of the guys is dressed as a woman and I'm having to switch to yelling "have you heard of gay".

Everything goes belly up because Blond is made of impatience and arrogance, and now his big brother has to fix it and I do like the line "It doesn't matter whose fault it is; all that matters is we fix it."

I laughed out loud when Leia pointed out AGAIN that she and Spike are cousins and he says "It is very common in some cultu--" and she yells "NOT HERE!!!" How delightful. A fantasy movie that also manages to satirize fantasy movies.

Aww, a good friend hug happened! Uhhh, and then....toxic masculinity happened about not crying. Why, Movie? Why do you do this to me.

God bless Spike for doing his best in this role, really. I love seeing famous actors being good sporting villains in terrible fantasy films.

Hahaha, Leia insists on reading her own wedding vows to stall for time, and her vows do that *scroll falls to the floor and keeps rolling several feet* thing. SHE'S READING HER OWN LIFE STORY, HAHAHA. ...Her life story includes a love affair with a centaur prince.

@pastellistin. she filibustering her own wedding?


*eyes widen* Her life story includes love affairs with an awful LOT of magical creatures. I like her.

Awwwwwwww!! They named the dragon Noogie and he's a very good boy.

A happy ending, and they get a NEW Leia message from an orc maiden in need of help for the orc to save (and presumably love and marry), so omg isn't that just the sweetest thing? Well, that was lovely. Way better than I was expecting and/or the usual standards of Amazon Prime movies!!

Like, I would totally watch that a second time.

Open Thread: Thin-film interference

Apparently when oil on water makes rainbows, it's known as thin-film interference.  (The oil is the thin film.)  Picture was taken two and a half months ago, about halfway down the hill from my house.


We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies and shows, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are the current ones:
   ● Game of Thrones
   ● Avengers: Endgame
   ● Captain Marvel


Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us upon us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Film Corner: The Crown and the Dragon

Today's "stuck on the couch in pain" Amazon Prime movie is DAWN OF THE DRAGON SLAYER. That is NOT the same thing as DRAGONSLAYER, CURSE OF THE DRAGON SLAYER, or CURSE OF THE DRAGON. Yes, those are all different movies.

This one says "After Will's father is killed by a dragon, he embarks on an epic journey to seek vengeance against the vicious monster." Nice and straightforward. A guy in Ikea fur rugs sits on a rock and plays a recorder. A dragon immediately swoops down and sets him on fire. Everyone's a music critic.

Oh no, the captions are wildly out of sync. That's gonna be a problem. Hey, @PrimeVideo can you check the captions on DAWN OF THE DRAGON SLAYER? They're out of sync, 3 minutes in. Thank you! I'm gonna take a nap while they fix it.

Ok, we can't figure out why this ONE MOVIE won't caption properly on my devices (everything else does!!) so let's try THE CROWN AND THE DRAGON which is almost the name of my favorite novel on the Choices game app. "Elenn, a noblewoman and Aedin, a smuggler, traverse danger and peril across dragon-filled lands to fulfill her calling as the Paladin."

Film Corner: Vikingdom

Ok, tonight's Amazon Prime movie is called Vikingdom. That's...I'm pretty sure that's not a word but it is now. Here's a picture of Crisp when I asked him to define Vikingdom.

"Based on Viking mythology, Eirick battles from hell and beyond to retrieve the missing artifact, Odin's Horn, before Thor and his army can unleash its powers to conquer the world." I... What... No? Where do you START with that? Hell? Thor? Odin's....Horn? But you know what, it's FINE. Movies mangle myths all the time, I'm down with it, let's do this. HERE WE GOOOO.

Dammit, none of the captions are showing for anything. Lemme reboot all the things.

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