Metapost: Index Party

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Open Thread: Snow Day

Picture taken yesterday morning on my sister's farm.


We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  This is currently the only one:
   ● Star Wars: Episode IX -- The Rise of Skywalker


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: Blood Rayne 2

Blood Rayne 2

This evening's terrible Amazon Prime movie is dedicated to the Twitter person who yelled at me for doing these. Last night's BLOODRAYNE was pretty bad, but there's a 2 and a 3 and I'm a completionist PLUS sometimes sequels are better than the first shitty movie. We call this "Dungeons&Dragons sequel syndrome". The entire description is...the shortest description we've done so far. "Blood Rayne is back! This time, the sexy heroine battles a gang of merciless vampire cowboys led by Billy the Kid."

That sounds kinda awful, but on the other hand I liked PRIEST (2011) and that was basically the same thing but with Paul Bettany. Paul is doing god's work by keeping me bi, though, so he can carry a pretty weak premise. We're opening with theme music that makes me want to bust out HE RODE A BLAZING SADDLE!!!! I never played these games; are the movies anything like the game plot?

Film Corner: Blood Rayne

Blood Rayne

Ok, we're on a zombie roll so let's try ATTACK OF THE SOUTHERN FRIED ZOMBIES. "Lonnie, a crop duster pilot, must lead a mismatched group of survivors to escape the deadly zombie horde after an experimental chemical intended to control the invasive kudzu vine--" Oh no. Why wouldn't you test it first if you're going to SPRAY IT OUT OF AIRPLANES. Ok, it's a test field and not downtown Charleston, but there's kids in the field drinking illicit beers. Zombism ensues.

The duster pilot is telling the scientists that southerners LOVE kudzu and "we even cook with it". I-- Like, I'm sure kudzu is edible but please be careful where you pick because anything, like, growing ROADSIDE isn't great for you, I'm pretty sure. They're cooking goats who eat the kudzu and feeding people at a festival, so I'm assuming that'll be a disease vector. There's some kind of weird jingoism where the scientists are a Japanese woman and a German man, and they don't understand the rich cultural ways of The Great American Sith.* (*autocorrect, and it stays.)

Two girls are kissing! Downside: all the men are sexualizing them and I'm pretty sure one of them is the sister of one of the infected boys which means she won't make it past the 30 minute mark. ....we are twenty minutes into this movie and I'm about to bail from sheer boredom. The big drama so far has been over competing meat pie booths. THEY'RE STILL GOING ON ABOUT PIES, WE'RE HAVING A FIVE MINUTE CONVERSATION ABOUT PIES. I'M OUT. Why would anyone make a zombie movie and then fill it with fair grounds bickering over meat pie ingredients.

Ok, maybe the problem was choosing a ZOMBIE movie. Let's try vampires. Oh hey BLOODRAYNE is on Amazon Prime. That was a video game, right? I love video game movies. The description says she's "part human, part vampire, and all woman." That's...not a good sign. [TW] Oh, and apparently her vampire sire raped her mother. I guess we're getting the sexual violence out of the way in the description. Huh, 5 replies already on my "hey BLOODRAYNE is on Amazon" tweet. That's either y'all telling me it's awesome or y'all trying to save me. NO TIME TO CHECK BEFORE PRESSING PLAY.

Oh no uwe boll. Like. I know...maybe three directors.

We're opening with Pretentious Medieval Art that supposedly proves vampires are totally real. I never know if these are fake. MEAT LOAF IS IN THIS FILM??? WHATEVER HAPPENED TO SATURDAY NIIIIGHT. We're in generic Ye Olden Times.

Michelle Rodriguez is here I don't- Why.

Michael Madsen is here, I'm-

These are actual actors; I was led to believe actual actors knew about Uwe Boll by now. Uwe's name has been on screen four times now, you can't say we aren't warned. A bartender is giving them a lead on a carnival fortune teller; they're skeptical. A man walks up and asks for absinthe. A nearby mirror reveals he's a vampire, but honestly he ASKED FOR ABSINTHE. That's practically vampire movie shorthand for evil.

Why is there a fucking mirror on the bar, this is Ye Olden Times, that thing is expensive and drunks would break it. Is it just there for vampires. One of the hunters INSTANTLY stakes the guy; he crumbles into an ancient corpse and NOBODY IN THIS INCREDIBLY CROWDED BAR seems bothered. The bartender makes a quip. Ok!! Apparently this is normal!! I guess Rayne is already a vampire. She's a captive at the carnival. Water burns her skin, but drinking blood heals her. How can she have sewer levels if water burns her? All video games have sewer levels.

There's a young woman Rayne's age at the carnival and she's got an escape plan and I think they're in love. Oooh, right, she's a dhampir, not a vampire. The local Castle O' Vampires is upset about her being public (albeit against her will). [TW] A man tries to rape Rayne and she escapes the carnival, honestly movie, really? Jesus. I think he was a Black man, too, but I'm not sure because everything about this scene is super murky on my not-very-good tv, so don't quote me?? She's got, like, this Adrenaline Vision where everything is blurry and it's supposed to be artsy but it just makes everything hard to make out.

Oh, the hunters want to recruit her for help against the vampires. They arrive Too Late. Oh fuck, Rayne bit her girlfriend. The hunters kill the girlfriend, because honestly this movie. Hang on, the cats are fighting. Ok. Chip is just very frisky and Cookie is NOT, so there's friction. I wore them all out with the rainbow ribbon. Michelle's dad is a viscount and apparently part of the Hunter society, but he seems to have vampire marks on his neck that are accompanied by ominous music. You'd think you'd bite your mole in the thigh or something, but I guess No Homo rules trump subtlety.

On the road, vampires jump a family and Rayne jumps the vampires. Everyone knows what these things are!! They're so chill about using the word and everything! Is this alternate history? I'm not complaining, I just. Rayne has sensually sucked on TWO vampire ladies now so I am forced to call this a recurring theme. A fortune teller informs her where the plot is and the macguffin she needs to fetch. are we only 20 minutes into this movie, it feels like hours.

The vampires appear to be moving in sunlight which, I mean, I know Dracula and everything, but it still seems vaguely wrong for the genre. Boy, Rayne just found the monastery "in the South" with no trouble whatsoever, huh. Her blood hunger really seems to come and go as the plot demands. Haha, nice, she found a puzzle room. the booby trap water? Does water burn ALL vampires? How do Oh my god, the Macguffin made water not burn her? I'm-

THE VAMPIRES WANT THE MAGIC AMULET OF WATER-NO-BURN. I CANNOT. I realize it's a creative replacement for sunlight, but water is in everything, it's most of what BLOOD is, this is just ridiculous. Well, now they're saying that sunlight does destroy them, so please kindly explain earlier. Lord God, how would vampires exist at all if sunlight AND water destroys them, like, I can't think of anything MORE ill-suited to life on this planet. Does oxygen give them a rash? That's the only way to make them even weaker than this.

OH, ok, the army from earlier was human thralls. Gee, movie, thanks for clearing that up now. This poor actress looks so uncomfortable with these ridiculous blades they have her using. Earlier in the movie: one tiny little drop of blood made Rayne go into a drugged rage. Now: hundreds dead from gushing sword wounds, she's fine. Rayne has been turned into the sexy sack of potatoes, which is unexpected when she's supposed to be the PLAYER CHARACTER AND PROTAGONIST.

Michelle appears to be picking up the protagonist mantle. Has there ever been a vampire--not a dhampir or daywalker or anything, just a REGULAR vampire--who hunted other vampires because it turns out that being turned doesn't brain wash you? SUNLIGHT burns her? But she was being hauled around in a carnival wagon with bars for walls????? PUTTING A VAMPIRE IN A BOAT KILLS THEM?? HOW DO THEY EXIST AT ALL.

The hunters decide to keep Rayne as a pet. Which is good because she NEEDS training. You'd think they'd give her clothes that aren't what her carnival captors dressed her in, but of course they have to match her video game look. Oh gosh, they seriously are offering her clothes. Hunter Boy tells her she hasn't got a lock on angst around here. This act of negging is apparently enough to spur her to jump him for sex and we get the contractually obligated tiddles.

Oh. Michelle knows her dad is a vampire. I just assumed that was some kind of reveal we were being set up for. I'm. She. Her dad, THE VAMPIRE, knows where the SECRET VAMPIRE HUNTER society is, and this is only just now become relevant????????? I gotta go get something to drink heavily. WHAT IS THE POINT OF TURNING A VAMPIRE HUNTER IF YOU'RE NOT GOING TO DEMAND ALL THEIR SECRETS.

Maybe the Big Bad didn't KNOW he was a vampire hunter? Maybe the guy had morals and didn't rat them out? WHO KNOWS, YOU GET TO MAKE UP YOUR OWN STORY AS THE VIEWER!! They're buying holy water, but I don't honestly understand why. Oh gosh the GUY WE ALL KNOW IS A VAMPIRE and we all know HE KNOWS THE LOCATION OF THIS PLACE attacked unexpectedly and our water did nothing against the human army WE KNOW THEY HAVE and which we know WAS LOOKING FOR US.

"How did they find us?" YOU KNOW HE USED TO WORK HERE!!! AND HE'S A VAMPIRE NOW!!! TAKE A BLOODY GUESS!!! My god, they're trying to set Michelle up to blame for this but it's NOT HER FAULT. Rayne, having spent her entire life burned by the merest touch of water, can now SWIM LIKE A FISH AND HOLD HER BREATH LIKE MICHAEL PHELPS.

Michelle is dead. God, the writing is just so bad.

You gotta love a big fight scene where the protagonist is SHACKLED for most of it. Men don't get treated this way in movies, I swear to god. I do love that she unexpectedly brought them the last relic in a little box and absolutely nobody opened it to check. Oh, and they lied to the audience by giving it the heartbeat sound effect as though it were in the box. Mentor is dead. He lasted longer than most mentors.

She straight up would've died without Love Interest. Twice.

With everyone dead, Rayne sits in the throne which ties in nicely with previous scenes in which uhhhhh be royalty?? Yeah, no, I got nothing.

Film Corner: Daylight's End

Daylight's End

Depression sucks and so do I but maybe a movie will help. This is called DAYLIGHT'S END and I assume it's going to be about vampires. My autocorrect wanted to turn that into babies, which is honestly more scary. Has anyone done a hoard of zombie toddlers. "Years after a mysterious plague has devastated the planet and turned most of humanity into blood-hungry creatures, a rogue drifter on a vengeful hunt stumbles across a band of survivors in a police station."

That sounds fine, but it won't live up to the idea of an army of toddler vampires. Think of the natural advantage they'd have!! No one would be able to hurt them just because human psychology is a real bitch about babies, and they'd be able to fit into any hiding space. Oh wow, someone actually put some thought into the premise. The car windows are all covered with fencing and the car handle is plated over for safety.

Open Thread: Winter Floof

Unfortunately it was a wet day, so Elliot's floofiness isn't as visible as ideal when one is naming the open thread after that floofiness.  None the less, that is a picture of a pony floofed up for winter.


We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  This is currently the only one:
   ● Star Wars: Episode IX -- The Rise of Skywalker


Friday Saturday 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 here, 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: Ariel Redux

Ariel is absolutely the most important Disney Princess to me, and absolutely no one needs her to be white in order to identify with her story. The live-action casting decision is excellent. The Disney Princess decision you ought to be mad about is giving Belle to an actress who couldn't sing Belle's range.

IF* white Danes feel they are lacking in representation, I am reliably informed by 90% of cis people that you can just make your own movie if you don't feel like mainstream media has you covered. (*"IF", I said.)

Anyway, none of the Disney princesses NEED to be white. Their stories don't hinge on them being white in the same way that being, for example, Black is a literal plot point for Tiana. (It's why they try to refuse to sell her the building for her restaurant!!) We've spent so long using whiteness as a default for any character who didn't *need* to be non-white and that should be changed. This is a good step.

We've reached the point of the discussion where people who don't remember the movie tell me that TLM is antifeminist so: ARIEL IS A SCIENTIST WHO FLEES AN ABUSIVE FAMILY TO LIVE OUT HER DREAMS. SHE GIVES UP THE THING HER FATHER VALUED HER FOR IN ORDER TO BE HER OWN PERSON. And, yes, a boy is also there. Women don't become antifeminist for liking boys, sorry. Eric is an ally.

P.S. The weird insistence that life without a voice is a joyless nightmare is ableist as fuck. Stop it, and go learn sign language. It's a good thing to know, period.‏

The really interesting thing to me about The Little Mermaid discourse is that no one thinks it's weird for Cinderella and Rapunzel to leave their abusive mothers. Yet people completely forget Triton is abusive. I think it's a combination of misogyny and toxic masculinity: a father who violently "protects" his daughter's sexuality--even to the point of terrifying her and destroying her possessions--is normalized and even lionized in our culture.

I think, too, there's the problem that most of us want to be mermaids so we think Ariel left paradise. If she were a human leaving a human family to be a mermaid and wed a merman/maid, we'd be fully supportive. There's also a tremendous amount of ableism: that giving up a voice to be free is worse than death. Yet very few people think Rapunzel trading her hair and magic to be free was a bad trade. FREEDOM IS IMPORTANT.

I grew up in a household where my dad was the scary angry one when punishments were being handed out. I completely understood why Ariel was leaving. Eric isn't incidental, of course, but he's an anchor to hold onto: she wants to be human and he's a safe human who can help. There's also some bioessentialism: Cinderella and Rapunzel are being abused by non-bio-parents**. Triton, the redeemable abusive parent, is biologically related to Ariel. There's a strong implication that this is WHY he's "redeemable" at the end. We value bio parents most. (**I hesitate to call Gothel a parent because she's Rapunzel's kidnapper and captor, but for purposes of this discussion I believe it's worth analogizing to Triton.)

It's also worth noting that URSULA is the one that places and keeps the focus on Eric, because she thinks he's an Impossible Goal that Ariel won't be able to attain. I don't agree that Ariel left the sea "for a man", but even if she did that would really just make her...a mermaid Cinderella. The deal for her voice isn't fair. It's not *supposed* to be fair. Ursula is a villain, even though people seem to forget that, too. She's trying to set Ariel up to lose a bet. Ariel agrees because the alternative is an abusive situation she can't remain in. She can't run. Triton rules all the seas. Her only escape is land--and Ursula knows that. She's the devil, offering a bargain that seems too good to be true and which she intends to be impossible to win.

The reading of TLM where Ariel is a silly girl who gives up her voice on a whim for a boy is one that erases Triton's abuse, Ursula's scheming, and Ariel's agency as she attempts to wrest her freedom from her father and from his political enemies (Ursula).

@JanetteKirchner. My dad never destroyed my stuff (until I moved out) but the rage and the shouting *cringes* If memory serves, Triton was also patronizing "oh, her new found interest will pass in a week because teen girl" Which was used on me a lot.

Yeah, the bit where Triton is *thrilled* Ariel is in love until he realizes it's a human was VERY FAMILIAR to me as a queer girl being raised in a Christian cult who was only allowed to date male members of same. Yes, it would've been more subversive if Eric were Erin, and the queer subtext of their forbidden love had been textual. Sure. I'd LOVE to see that in the reboot. But the idea that girls dating boys is inherently not queer feels kinda bi-erasurey. And there's a whole conversation to be had about how everyone assumes a m/f pairing is straight, but I'm tired.

Film Corner: The Sword

The Sword

Alright, my good bitches. I come bearing Amazon movies because it's been a long fucking day. THE SWORD. Nice, solid name for a minute. "In 730 AD, young Garron is given the task to defend his home as his father rides to war. That task proves to be difficult as the calamity strikes and the enemy closes in." Wait what? They didn't even capitalize The Calamity. What is it?

"Ever obedient, Garron must rely on his father's guidance and God's strength to overcome the odds--or risk death for all that he loves." I'm nervous now. Is this a Christian movie? Some of those are mind bogglingly bad. We have red Roman centurion costumes from a passion play. We have wheat fields from GLADIATOR. We have a sword being nonspecifically forged. We have a very specific filming technique that probably has a name but it's where the camera just holds perfectly still on a scene and doesn't move at all in any way.

We have his wife wearing glowing virginal white while she gardens, which I question the wisdom of. Roman Centurion Marcus has to go away for travel and says they can't complain and have been fortunate; his superiors are "getting apprehensive about our beliefs" KLAXON KLAXON WE HAVE CHRISTIAN MOVIE. This doesn't make sense; 730 AD was like 400 years after Constantine. Christians weren't being persecuted then!! I'm pretty sure!! Idk, I'm tired. I wish more movies involved religious beliefs without them being Christian or Christian Expy. They keep talking about God, so they're definitely monotheistic.

Christian historical fiction is usually SO incorrect, though. There's a book out there that I reviewed, badly, in which the medieval Catholics were all modern Protestants. And that's not even rare or unusual, it was just upsetting. The problem is that a lot of evangelicals want to believe that their version of worship has ALWAYS been an unchanging constant truth, AND always been persecuted, and both those ideas are ahistorical. Most of what constitutes evangelical belief is relatively NEW, like "200 years old at the most" level of new. But they want to trace an unbroken, and indeed unchanging, theological line to Jesus.

So you get books set in medieval Catholicism where nobody mentions Mary, the intercession of priests and confession is openly scoffed at, characters have deep meaningful one on one prayer sessions with Jesus, and they even ENGAGE IN AN EXORCISM without summoning a priest. Anyway, that book is bad, but technically has nothing to do with this movie.

Father and son are wooden stick practice fighting with the same verve and energy as me shuffling to feed the cats at 5 am. I want to point out that this kid is way too young to be our protagonist AND his name isn't Garron, yet the movie seems to be setting him up as protagonist anyway and this troubles me. LOL, they're doing that awkward Christian writing thing where they have to reference their faith once per sentence, lest you think they're not godly.

Dad is giving this kid his REAL sword and you'd think he'd need that for his mission but I guess he has extras. I really question that this scrawny 8 year old kid has the arm strength to even wield this weapon. Marcus' beard looks like they glued stuffed animal hair to his face. Ok, apparently their religious backstory is that his job with the legion took them to Phillipi, where he learned from some men in prison, and now they know God's love. Uhhh, by 730 AD, Christianity was not a secret thing. Maybe Amazon has the year wrong??

......ok, I guess...these characters aren't important yet and we're just introducing The Sword? This guy would be the "prison guard" (a traveling prison guard, how novel) and the sword is his "typical weapon" (prison guards and their swords, amirite?). In which case we're still IN THE TIME OF CHRIST and we're due for a time skip soon??? This is why bad movies are fun: they're utterly unpredictable because they make TERRIBLE narrative decisions!

I...guess we're flashing back to the prison conversion. An earthquake opens the prison doors and the centurion is about to kill himself (to avoid punishment for losing the prisoners) but they stop him because they're still there which honestly strikes me as pretty fucking ungrateful to God and his earthquake. They give him a fish pendant. I guess they just carry extras for handing out. Oh, it was PAUL. Not really "the time of Jesus" if he's always died, but whatever.

The sword he almost killed himself with is a constant reminder of God's faithfulness to them, etc. His wife is about to start giving me PTSD flashbacks, I swear. She's that very Stepford type of Christian wife, just smiling and saying "you're right of course" over and over again. Montage of faceless people handing this SPECIAL SWORD to other people, for generations. Gee, glad we met those characters we'll never see again.

Now we're in Southern Gaul, 730 AD. A chain mail clad knight rides up to a castle yelling that he has a message from the king for "Jonathan Duvoy". I...we're in Gaul so we should be Frenchish and Merovingian, right? Duvoy is...Irish? Or Gaelic? I don't know, y'all. The 700s aren't my forte. Charles Martel, we are informed by Johnny Boy, has called for men at arms to help. I'm distracted by this actor's *deep* southern accent. I'm expecting him to rally fighting men at the honky tonk.

His son is Garron and his nephew is...Tristan. He keeps calling Charles Martel the "king", which I'm reliably informed is not quite correct, but here we are. Wife Constance manages to be Stepfordy by virtue of being bed ridden in a non specific manner. Garron is gonna stay behind to protect the castle, which seems not in the spirit of EVERY FIGHTING MAN that King Charles Marrrrrteehl asked for, but I'm not the one with the moral code ostensibly against rules-lawyering.

Actually, Garron looks twelve so I question Johnny Cash's decision to leave him in charge. We don't have ANY elderly men or non-ill women to run the castle? Gotta be the sperm baby? Ok. When your serfs make him sign the Magna Carta because he's a fucking kid, you will have nobody to blame but yourself. John Johnson leaves the family sword, which--again--you would think might be needed for the upcoming battle.

[RACISM] Oh my god, the enemy is the "Muhammadons" I cannot. There's a shitload of racism about them and it's awful. Like, seriously considering stopping here. THAT awful. Because you know that's who "the enemy" is going to be and not, like, elves or zombies. YEAH NO WE'RE DONE WITH THIS RACIST MOVIE. I'm noping out here where Muslim spies watch the castle for the "infidel lords" to leave.

Film Corner: Let's Talk About Star Wars (Part 1)

[Rise of Skywalker spoilers herein. This post is from a twitter thread. Part 2, which is an original composition, will go up on my January Patreon.]

Today I go to see and probably hate the Star War. I don't like JJ Abrams and I feel like at this point I'm going out of an obligation to Carrie, so my hopes aren't super high. Things I want from the film:

- More Rose/Finn and Finn/Poe.

- Ace Rey and a continuation of her having parentage that doesn't matter; she's just a random force-sensitive. (Those occur!!) In place of Ace Rey, I will accept Rose/Finn/Rey with Finn having Poe as a romantic ace boyfriend, I am flexible.

- Jedi Finn.

- Kylo to die without redemption. If he *is* redeemed, then immediate death. By which I mean I would prefer Kylo not be redeemed at all, but if they do Because Darth Vader Was then I want him to only be redeemed in death (like Darth Vader was). I don't want him alive and happy at the end of this. (I do think there is a place in society for redemption narratives; I do not think a last minute redemption of Space Nazi Wizard is the time and place.)

I informed Girlfriend of these wants a few days ago and she gave me such a sincere look of pity that I wanted to give her a hug, so I'm not too hopeful.





Open Thread: Ice on dead leaves

Exactly what the title says.  Taken at my sister's farm, possibly on Christmas.


We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  This is currently the only one:
   ● Star Wars: Episode IX -- The Rise of Skywalker


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: The Babysitter

The Babysitter

Okay, I am sick as fuck and have the flu maybe so instead of working on edits, I'm going to attempt The Babysitter on Netflix.

"What class did you learn that in?"
"No one learns anything in class, Cole. That's why we have the internet."

Why are school bullies always portrayed as fat? Fat kids are overwhelmingly more likely to BE bullied. There's no reason other than fat stigma to signal instantly to the audience that this person is bad *because* they are fat. The head bully is also a black kid because OF COURSE a fat black kid is going to have more social power in a white school + white suburbia than his skinny, attractive, white male victim.

Look, the trailer was good so I'm hoping it gets better. Cole has been rescued by the most beautiful girl in the world. She is scarily affectionate. The trailer has teased that she will try to satanically murder Cole in a sorta cheesy Home Alone thriller. This pleases my flu-addled brain. I... really like Cole's mom. I was not expecting that. No, I actually love her.

Cole's adorable-and-age-appropriate girl friend warns him that his overly-affectionate hot babysitter probably has guys over while he sleeps. He determines to stay up and be sure for himself because the babysitter has creepily groomed him into a 'relationship'. To the movie's credit (I think? I've been burned before), it is presented as SUPER creepy and NOT OKAY how the older girl is grooming Cole. I know the movie is supposed to be cheese, but I really hope they do this right because I've been hammering on about how we don't take male victims seriously.

Mom and Dad leave for the weekend so now it's just Cole and Bee the Babysitter. Oh my god, this is like CRACKS but with a boy being creepily groomed instead of girls. (I like CRACKS but it's NOT a safe movie for everyone.) The babysitter girl even kinda looks like Netflix budget younger Eva Green. (She's very good in this role, whoever she is.) She tries to give Cole alcohol and Cole pours it in a potted plant instead YES MY GOOD SON YES.

God, I know some of this is going to play into the "hot girls are liars and you can't trust them" problematic trope, but I almost feel like this is an EXCELLENT picture of grooming and how to guard against it. Cole pretends to fall asleep and hears a bunch of people downstairs. He crawls out to investigate and my heart is in my throat.


Yeah, I have no idea how to live-tweet this movie and will probably have to stop tweeting because trying to WORD at it is very hard. Taken in a vacuum, it is surprisingly good so far at showing how vulnerable men can be groomed and abused. Which... we don't really have enough of, so... good? Taken in the surrounding cultural context, there's definitely shades of "hot women can't be trusted" which we have WAY TOO MUCH OF, so... less good?

But if they'd made the babysitter a boy, then we'd fall into Predatory Gay tropes. And if she was plain, we'd fall into Underage Grooming Of Boys Is Only Abusive If She's Not Hot tropes. So I have no idea how to rate this movie but I will definitely be watching it further. Thanks for sticking with my extremely short live-watch thread. Oh gosh, they even addressed that just because Bee is evil doesn't mean all or even most women are. It's like they KNEW the trope was lurking in the background.

Wow, okay, that was a wild ride, but I guess I liked it? I don't know. Note there is fat-shaming and racism in addition to the abuse grooming triggers.

Film Corner: Babes with Blades

Babes with Blades

Alright, I'm back and ready to rumble. Or watch movies. Today's movie is called BABES WITH BLADES. Not the most auspicious title, but I remind you that DUDES & DRAGONS was actually surprisingly good and self-aware. "Set on the planet Draiga, this steampunk action film features world-class female martial artists and follows Azura as she tries to save her dying race."

We're going into a flashback. 12 years ago, a girl (it's the martial artist we saw in WARRIORESS and that one movie with the pirates and gargoyles and zombies and dragon wizard!) was... captured? by bad guys? but then escaped and has lived on the streets of Draiga ever since. The problem with movies structured around "An actor who fights! Watch them fight!" is that you still need to put some effort into the other stuff: plot, camera work, dialogue, etc.

Open Thread: Cat

This is my cat, also what appears to be the distal knuckle of my right middle finger, but mostly my cat.

It was taken, about a week ago, from more or less where I'm presently sitting.  Interestingly (or not) she's about as close right now, but in the exact opposite direction (i.e. she's up, back, and to the left, where she appears to be taking a nap.)

...and she demonstrated she's awake just to prove me wrong.


We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  This is the only current one:
   ● Star Wars: Episode IX -- The Rise of Skywalker


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!

Movie Open Thread: Walking on the Sky, and still going up (Star Wars)

First off, sorry I didn't have an open thread last week.  There will be one tomorrow.

Also tomorrow, Star Wars: Episode IX -- The Rise of Skywalker is released in the United States.  Except local theaters here in Maine are two minutes into a showing as I type this (today is very much not tomorrow) and Los Angeles, apparently not part of the United States, is in its fourth day of watching the movie.

But it's totally opening tomorrow, the internet says so, so it seems like it's time we had a place for people to talk about those who walk upon the sky and say, "This is is boring.  Must go higher!"

Anyway . . .

This is a place to discuss the movie Star Wars: Episode IX -- The Rise of Skywalker, including spoilers (without need for ROT 13 Cthulhu summoning.)

Unfortunately the "Current Comments" feature removes whitespace so, to avoid spoilers appearing there, please use some space for non-spoiler comments or just start your comment with some nonsense.

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Film Corner: Dead Rising

Dead Rising

I'm trying to watch DEAD RISING on Amazon Prime whilst battling a heat stroke and I'm sorry but did they just call this pharmaceutical company "Phenotrans"?? How are we not already using that word for, like, a trans death metal band or something, that is too good a word for the cis to have.

The zombie cop remembers how to use a pistol. ...I have questions. Maybe they aren't zombies, maybe they too have heat stroke. Zombies know fear of death in this verse? That's new.

I like that they already know what zombies are and, like, have quarantine procedures for outbreaks. The white news lady cares more about looters than zombies. The football dome has people who can't evacuate for whatever reason, including infected people who have to take Zombrex daily. I guess maybe the Zombrex is past its expiration date because people are turning regardless.

Frank West, video game protagonist I think, is being interviewed on television. A reporter who is NOT Frank West runs from zombies who may or may not have heat stroke. He has cracked the story that Zombrex isn't effective anymore (orrrrr the formula has been changed? c'mon, guys, where's your conspiracy theory enthusiasm?).

I'm rooting for Survival Girl here, not gonna lie. She's so done with Reporter Guy. She's also demonstrating the game's crafting mechanic. She has made a paladin shield from the biggest garbage can lid in the universe. The military are closing the quarantine gates on the survivors, like military does. Frank West is being a jackass. Dunno if that's game canon.

The government is afraid that the Oregon outbreak is a resistant strain, so they're killing survivors / locking everyone inside to fend for themselves. Reporter Guy is trying to get people to care. Good luck, my dude. Oh no, Survival Girl needs Zombrex. I like her. Zombrex is working for her, so it's either not a resistant strain or her drugs are different or something.

Meanwhile, the government is going to firebomb the quarantined area. Frank West gives terrible advice on television. A....biker gang is killing zombies. .....and looting. They have face paint, fur coats, and katanas. Oregon biker gangs. I'm gonna be honest, this movie in which BOTH the government AND the biker gangs are hurting innocent people is kinda a downer considering the relatively light hearted tone of the games (or so I thought).

My heat stroke headache is really throbbing so I'm gonna close my eyes. I'm sorry.

Film Corner: Infini


Alright, it's time for another shitty Amazon Prime movie for me to vent my "can't get out of bed" frustrations at. Get yon popcorn. Tonight's thing is a scifi called INFINI which was aggressively algorithmmed at me after I watched BEYOND THE TREK or whatever that last one was called. The one with the designer babies finding emotions in space.

23rd century. 95% of the world is at or below the poverty line. I assume we're gonna TOTAL RECALL this up rather than guillotine the 5%. "As a result, many take dangerous jobs in the interplanetary mining, military, and space exploration." Ah, in college I wrote a fun paper on asteroid mining. (It's basically not worth it yet, but they do sometimes have minerals that are tricky to get on earth.)

"Off-Earth transit is achieved via SLIPSTREAMING, the process of turning matter into a data signals and transmitting it to a fixed coordinate anywhere in the known universe." Surely this is the Star Trek Transporter Problem in that death no longer has meaning because you can always just print a backup copy of yourself from yesterday? I mean, I will not fault someone for dodging the same problems Star Trek dodges, just pointing it out.

Open Thread: Stairs to Nowhere

Three things here.  First, sorry this is several days late.  My time has been occupied, almost exclusively, with stuff related to my sister.  (She's doing remarkably well, for the record, and is expected to be released tomorrow, which is two weeks, to the day, after she got run over.)

Second, I really should have used flash.

Third, we didn't notice when we came in.  Our room was on the third floor, it was late, the building in question has no elevator, and so when we got to floor three we just went straight for the door, into the room, and unloaded our stuff.

It was the next morning, when we were leaving to spend the day with my sister, that we realized that the stairs up were of a different sort.  They look completely different, as the rest of the stairwell is composed of white walls, no carpet, and a simple, light (possibly pine) railing.  That, however, wasn't what stood out.

It was the complete and utter lack of a destination for the stairs that stood out.  (Presumably it's a result of a no-longer-in-use roof access point or Eldritch dimensional shenanigans.)


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!

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Film Corner: Warwolves


Alright, we're gonna try another werewolf movie. WARWOLVES. Jack Ford leads a special forces unit back to the United States to hunt down Jake Gabriel-- Wait, the main characters are Jake and Jack? That's gonna play hell on my hearing!

Apparently one of the two men has contacted werewolfism and must be hunted down. Unbeknownst, "three of the female soldiers" in the special forces unit have also contracted werewolfism and are now "she-wolves". Thank god they're not just "wolves", I needed gender confirmation. Nice to see women, plural, in the movie special forces unit for once, but they sound like they're gonna be Dracula Brides except werewolves. So.

JESUS, massive trigger warning for suicide right out of the gate. A soldier writes a letter and then shoots himself. It's unexpected and happened before I understood what was going on. Be careful. Soldiers play football and there are indeed three women in camo pants. They're supermodels instead of body builders, which is disappointing to me, and they're...flirty and kissing the men. Um. I don't think that's...right? This has more of a "company picnic" vibe than I was expecting from Special Forces.

One of the women is married to one of the other men; another is in love with one of them and "followed him into the service"? There's a lot of gender being thrown at me really fast. A general (?) watches them play football but in, like, an ominous way. He's shopping for a special forces team to take down A Terrorist. You could fit what I know about the military in a matchbox without first removing the matches, but I'm pretty sure the military doesn't work like this.

Smash-cut to being ambushed and pinned down in Generic Middle Eastern Townville (I guess?) and I don't mean to be critical but these soldiers seem very overwrought about being shot at. "YOU PROMISED YOU WOULDN'T LET ME DIE" is uttered, and so forth. "Good thing I can't have children," a female soldier says of the movie-blood oozing out of her pants pocket, "or I'd be more worried about that [wound]."

Uh, ok. The soldiers are attacked by animalistic locals who are presumably werewolfism carriers. That's great. 6 months later, the American soldiers are back in America and I guess discharged. A bible thumper quotes that "even a man who is pure of heart and says his prayers" quote that ends up in EVERY werewolf movie and isn't actually biblical. Oh, this traumatized guy isn't an existing character. He used to be in the forces, "never went overseas" but had some friends who did and "didn't come back the same".

We bounce around to a lot of characters who may or may not be the soldiers from the beginning; they all look like generic pretty white actors so I'm struggling with faces. A remote hotel checks in two older Vietnam vets who say they can't let their own scent get too close to the big city. Idk, you guys. One of the were girls confesses in a confessional that she's about to sin. Her eyes are yellow and her line reading is so astonishingly bad I'm trying to work out if it's a deliberate metaphor for something.

Maybe the traumatized guy was in the soldier group, actually. He's been in hiding, so I guess the "I never went overseas" thing was a lie. Another soldier calls in a panic, saying that "she" and "they" have come around and are coming back. Here we go. Gonna get some werewolves soon. *rubs hands expectantly* A full moon. A girl rides with her boyfriend and they fight. She is attempting to break up with him. He hits a dog that LOOKS a lot like a naked woman. Now they're I Know What You Did Last Summering the body.

The guys sit around a bar trying to work out what to do with the body in their trunk. Two hot ladies walk in and playfully talk about their friend they came to visit and who didn't show up on time. They don't seem very, uh, werewolfy. Ok, so they're literally vampires??! They don't fursplode, they just have long nails, bite the neck, and drink blood; THAT'S VAMPIRES.

Oh, and they seem dead when unconscious. I call that vampire. How do you make a movie about vampires and then market it as being about she-wolf werewolves? How do you do that? They're kind enough to spare the heavily pregnant woman, though I feel like watching vampires murder your boyfriend might cause, like, stress contractions.

In broad daylight, the nervous soldier is attacked by a growly man. The two older Vietnam vets drive the attacker off with guns, but the soldier dies. "I think something really important happened to us over there. It IS the Holy Land, after all." Actual writing in this movie.

A soldier--I can no longer tell any of them apart--wakes up in a hotel room where the Vietnam Vets have hung up relevant newspaper articles like "Missing Cats At Record Levels". I didn't know they tracked numbers like that. Do people call the cops when their cat gets lost? One of the Vietnam Vets is holding forth about the art of movie acting, and that strikes me as an incredibly foolish thing to do in a movie as bad as this.

Ok, so everyone in the Special Forces were infected, but the Protagonist is keeping it at bay with medication and alcohol. The Vets are apparently spending their retirement years hunting Soldier Vampires as....a hobby? I guess? They're vampire hunters because a vampire movie needs vampire hunters, basically. It's really confusing because the description acted like we had one man werewolf (He-wolf) and three lady werewolves (She-wilfs), but instead it's a gender-diverse group of vampires.

I swear, these Amazon Prime movies are always an adventure IF ONLY BECAUSE the description is frequently necessary to decode the film and yet always profoundly wrong. They're like a Rosetta Stone that burns your house down.

I think a big problem here is that the filmmakers don't think women are interesting, so they've crammed the movie with a dozen identical broody guys in the hopes that one of them will carry the plot. Anyway, two or possibly three old guys playing the Van Helsing archetype here have captured a boy werewolf and want his help killing, I guess?, the girl ones. Old Guy can't quite put his finger on why he trusts Cis White Boy Werewolf, and I'm like hmmmm I can think of some reasons why you do.

One of the women werewolves is killing the hunters with her.... gun? I really do not understand all the things that went wrong here. The hunters are trying to shoot at her feet and she manages to get away, because werewolf. I have a lot of questions about the effects budget. The two male werewolves are having a dominance fight and I still honestly can't tell a difference between them and vampires. They have pointy teeth and deep voices, and that's it! No fur! I really feel that fur is mandatory for the whole werewolf thing.

We need gun control so monster hunting movies will have more interesting armament scenes. It's boring if you can just roll up to Wal-Mart and buy a tactical nuke and three flamethrowers.

One of the werewomen is...I guess? pregnant or trying to get pregnant with Jake. Jake seems dubious about having a happy werewolf family. I don't see why not; they don't HAVE to eat people! I guess this is why they made them vampires? So they can't be happy? Oh god no, not an awkward sex scene in dirty barn straw. Oh thank god, he fled on the grounds of their ideological incompatibility.

Nothing interesting has happened, but a white woman who believes Elvis is alive is explaining morality with a "Cherokee legend" about wolves inside us.

Nothing interesting continues to happen. The werewolf woman has poison ivy splotches on her face and elf ears,'s still not fur. Ok, now they sorta look like the cast of CATS.

The werewolves have invaded an AA meeting. I'm not impressed. Oh, obviously the "good" werewolf has glowing blue eyes as opposed to the brown and green ones, that's obviously GREAT. This may honestly be the worst movie I've ever watched, and I'm a MST3K veteran. I think I'm gonna have to bail on this one, it's just so many layers of boring and terribly written. Sorry, y'all, but I can honestly urge you to NEVER watch this movie.

Film Corner: Howl


HOWL: Passengers on a night train are attacked by a vicious creature out of folklore, and must band together in order to survive until morning. I hope it's a banshee. (It is never a banshee. It will be a werewolf.)

Oh, good, the unskippable Amazon Prime videos now include fat jokes.

Our POV character appears to be an employee of the "Alpha Trax" line. Is that a real line or a werewolf alpha joke, I legit don't know. He's been turned down on his application to supervisor, on account of management preferring to promote an obvious douche. Obvious Douche puts Alpha Trax Boy on the next redeye because the usual guy called in sick. (FROM LYCANTHROPY? WHO KNOWS.) He's a ticket inspector with a crush on the stewardess. He rattles off the names of the quaint English places they'll be passing through, all of which I assume will not be equipped to deal with werewolves.

We have been jump-scared by a Chihuahua.

Passengers are rude to him. So far I am existentially sorrowful for this boy. We see a full moon, then the train hits something and screeches to a halt. A vast misty forest surrounds the train on all sides. Probably just hit a deer. Though it's a little disconcerting that when the rudely awakened ticket guard visits the first car, the lights are dim and there are no people. Where are the passengers?

The driver says there's something on the line and they'll be on their way shortly. Alpha Boy and Stewardess try to right her upset cart. A surprisingly strong passenger with two sets of house keys helps. This is vaguely strange. (LYCANS? HAVE TWO HOUSES INSTEAD OF ONE?) Passengers continue to be absolute bastards. I guess we won't be sad when they get eaten? The train driver walks in the dark rain in search of whatever stopped the train, which I feel would be pretty fucking enormous? I thought trains basically GO unless something very very very big says stop.

I have been informed that night trains out of London do not pass through misty rainy endless forests.

To my immense astonishment, my prediction of "probably just a deer" turns out to be true. The driver is attempting to physically pull a dead deer by the antlers from between the train wheels, and like. A fully grown buck weighs more than the entire moon. This isn't happening, buddy. Something outside the train eats the driver. Everyone on the train waits in increasing tension.

I really cannot stress how rude the passengers are. One girl is smoking and singing aloud to her phone, and was verbally abusive to the protagonist. Having been in retail work, I'm torn between "Well, it's realistic" and "But now I won't be sad when they get et." Alpha Boy and Stew Girl call in the emergency, then report to the passengers that it'll be 4 hours before a rescue team can come get them moving again. Passengers yell at them.

One of the passengers wants to walk the remaining 1-3 miles to the station. I find this movie very amusing as an American, because they're *acting* like entitled Americans but they've got UKian accents, so maybe American Rudeness has crossed the pond. One of the passengers is an elderly man with high blood pressure, but he thinks walking 3 miles at night is a grand idea. I refuse to believe the Scottish businesswoman with a laptop and high heels wants to walk in the rain.

They all leave the train and the doors close ominously behind them. They are in "Thornton forest" which I assume is definitely a place and definitely has werewolves. At this point, I strongly believe that Alpha Boy is being liberated by werewolves from these passengers. Maybe he's their long lost cub. Is that the right word for werewolf babies? Cub? Actually, a "yer a werewolf Harry!" story could be really compelling, especially if they're rescuing the poor lad from retail work.

....well, they found the missing driver. Alpha Boy is able to get everyone back into the train in time except the posh elderly woman. And even she's alive, just badly bitten. I wonder if she'll fursplode. The passengers are freaking out. Not ONE of them is quoting those Keep Calm posters. My mental image of England is being challenged.

He has a name! Alpha Boy is Joe. He tries to hail emergency assistance on the phone, but the lines are down. "There haven't been any bears or wolves around here for centuries" they say of Thornton forest. Their cell phones have no signal. I have to say I love the bitchy Scottish businesswoman, like she is 110% personal goals. Oh no, she's got a family. She's doomed.


The elderly man gives them a "get it together, y'all" speech, and now they're montaging the windows to be reinforced. Trains apparently have lots and loss of spare loose metal to weld against the walls. You'd think that in itself would take the 4 hours we were told it would take to get help out here. They've already run out of water. It's been, like, an hour.

I think the elderly bitten woman is about to fursplode. She foolishly divulged a backstory. The mystery of the guy with two sets of keys is revealed: he keeps a city flat for mistresses. He's asking Joe to Be Strong and leave the weak behind if it comes to that. Another passenger dies in the lavatory, which you'd think would be safe from werewolves!! Wolf went right through the train ceiling.

The least furry werewolf ever--he's like the Sphinx cat of werewolves--beelines right for Joe to growl at him. Maybe they ARE trying to save/recover him?? The passengers are killing the buff naked werewolf with, like, a crowbar and a fire extinguisher. I'm impressed. The passengers are pleasingly quick to recognize that the werewolf is, well, a werewolf. They're alarmed to see the werewolf is wearing a wedding ring. "Maybe it's a disease you catch?" They all look at elderly pensioner lady.

Elderly Man is telling the story of how this all happened in 1963: a rail crash in the Thornton forest, bodies missing or eaten, a mystery people didn't think too much about. Whoops! It's still alive but after some more fire extinguisher work, it no longer has a face.

Two tiny problems.

1. Elderly Jenny looks real bad.

2. There's more of them in the forest.

Two Keys wants to kill Jenny because she's one of them. The passengers restrain him. The problem is...he's pretty clearly right? Like, I'm ok for amoral bastards to get what's coming, but they need to NOT be right about the obvious zombie-werewolf in their midst.

Two of the boys are going out to try to repair the fuel leak. They don't have any tools, but I think you can do that with bare hands. Stewardess Girl stays in the front with Joe to tell him how wonderful he's been. Ah, ok, they have tape. That's all you need to repair a train. Lookout Boy hears a voice in the woods calling weakly for help. He walks towards it, swinging his light wildly and shouting HELLO. Usually that's a thing you do at the start of horror movies, not 2/3s of the way in.

The train starts up. Jenny turns into a werewolf. To my surprise, Two Keys actually does attempt to save her husband from her. Scottish woman is down, sacrificed by Two Keys. We're supposed to hate him for it, but there was honestly nothing he could do *and* she's responsible for the ongoing Jenny On A Train situation. The tape gives out and the train stops again. Jenny is dispatched but two more Werewolf Zombie Gollums are now on the train.

Don't really see a happy ending here, tbh. Two Keys tries to sacrifice Joe as bait for the monsters, but Ellen cuts Two Keys with glass shards. Ah, you see, the real monsters was us all along. Joe and Ellen escape through judicious application of someone else setting the train on fire. Joe, now a man, stays behind as a sacrifice so Ellen can get away. I assume they'll crown him their king for his bravery. Ellen arrives at the next station, covered in blood; none of the passengers notice.

Back in the woods, Werewolf Joe eats Two Keys. Credits slam in.

...that was dreadful.

Storify: Impeachment Hearings


Okay, I'm going to try to live-tweet the Impeachment Hearings.

I'm coming in late because I had tech problems on my end. Chairman Schiff is outlining the concerns in a thoughtful manner. "The president has instructed witnesses to ignore subpoenas and refuse to appear." (All quotes from me are subject to user error; the feed isn't closed-captioned.) "If we find that the president abused his power ... must we simply 'Get Over It'? Is this what Americans should now expect? If this is not impeachable conduct, what is?" --Schiff

I haven't heard Schiff speak before; he's a very effective public speaker so far. Calm and measured, thoughtful, not grand-standing. Nunes is talking now. He, uh, strikes an immediate awful contrast to Schiff's calm. He's blasting Democrats for "smearing any Republican who ever shook hands with a Russian." Nunes is playing to the base and I don't know how well that will work. Instead of answering Schiff's thoughtful charges, he's complaining that Dems tried to obtain "nude photos" of Trump from Russians.

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