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.

Example nonsense:
[nonsense] Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, id soleat doctus sit, cum te erant omnium. Invidunt periculis at cum, eos diam vivendum no, ea qui vivendum legendos. Verterem similique ut pri, iisque prodesset voluptaria no nam. Eos esse mollis et, mei no putent utamur praesent, nec ex solum saperet. No has soluta molestie.[/nonsense]
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: 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!

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: 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.

Film Corner: Beyond the Trek

Beyond the Trek

BEYOND THE TREK: A deep space mining vessel has been adrift for two years. It is suspected the crew brutally killed each other, but the reason for the bloodbath is unknown. A rescue crew is sent to find if there are any survivors, what happened, and why.

Ok, first of all, does this sort of investigation EVER end well? It's always either demons, aliens, or Space Mental Illness. Second of all, does that title make any sense except as a desperate bid for Star Trek fans to notice it? I'm surprised they didn't go whole hog and call it Event Trek: Horizon Dead Space.

Event Trek: Dead Wars on the Horizon Space.

Event Trek: Battlestar Dead Wars on the Horizon Space.

Event System Shock Trek: Dead Wars on the Horizon Space.

Although, honestly given what we know about human nature, most workplace killings just involve a disgruntled employee with a weapon. Has a SciFi movie ever done that as the reveal?? Don't say Pandorum, it's covered under Space Mental Illness and also I'm the only person to watch Pandorum. Even the director of Pandorum didn't watch Pandorum. I love it anyway, though.

I still really hate the unskippable Amazon Prime commercials.

We open with the usual ominous timeline:

- 2015: Scientists genetically modify human embryos.

- 2020: Human generic modification is commercialized. Genetically modified babies have higher IQs, ideal physical traits, and positive temperaments.

Space Mental Illness it is, then. Just a reminder that IQ tests are basically a test of how a person has been socialized, not of their superior gene-ious. (Aha, a wordplay joke.) In that regard, I actually find it plausible that expensive designer babies would score highly on the tests made by expensive designer people. But there are cheaper and easier ways to tell if someone is a wealthy white American.

- 2038: The process has a 97% success rate as the first generation of genetically modified humans become adults. These 'perfect' specimens are called GC Humans, named after the company that created the process, GLEN CREST LABS.

Uhhh, what happens to the other 3%? And, really? That's the least catchy name ever. Extremely doubtful. "Glennials" is right there.

- 2047: GC Humans deploy to deep space.

I....ok? That......I guess? Not really sure I understand how that was a natural progression, but sure. We're informed that Climate Change made this necessary, but I don't really follow that either unless the plan is to evacuate ALL OF EARTH to somewhere else.

On an extremely pretty ship, five extremely pretty people wake up. I assume they're all Glennials. Maybe it's six people? Two of the guys look functionally identical to me.

They're...apparently here to recover cargo from a much bigger ship, which is trying to crash into Titan. (The Saturn moon?) This doesn't seem to have anything to do with the introduction's climate change OR the description's promised investigation into a bloodbath.

Event Horizon had the bloodbath and Pandorum had the climate change so maybe they changed course and went with recover cargo which no one has done before-- ALIEN, get out of here, I'm trying to do a live-watch! Take Sigourney Weaver with you but leave the cat.

I need you to know that the Not Star Trek uniforms have a little dip in the back that draws the eye down to the butt crack and it's unsettling as a design. The Weyland Yutani guy back home yells at his robot, so I'm assuming one of the crew members is secretly an advanced robot. My money is on the doctor.

The cargo is VERY IMPORTANT to recover because it will magic earth's atmosphere back to normal. Duh. Weyland says that non-Glennials can't manage space travel because normies get Space Mental Illness and that's probably what happened to the dead crew. Grand. Oop, the cargo ship has a robot on it. There's a lot of "PC culture" jokes about what to call robots ("ART" for Artificial Human) and non-Glennials ("premie" is a Bad Word).

The ghost ship has Death Metal being piped over all the speakers, I guess for irony. The Glennials board with their guns drawn and at the ready, which seems uhhh, I mean. Yeah, I know this is a survival horror movie, but what the fuck guys. A tiny little metal robot from robot wars shoots at them and they fry it. RIP, Stabby.

"Black box has been forcibly removed", reports a Glennial. The whole point of black boxes is supposed to be that they're shit hard to recover / tamper with. The greenhouse is now a jungle so we're ripping off LOST IN SPACE and it doesn't make a whole lot of sense because you'd think plants in space would have limited nutrients to become overgrown like this.

A bearded and very silent survivor has been located. The magic cargo is missing. He isn't talking but that doesn't stop the doctor from diagnosing him with several mental illnesses because I guess you can just tricorder that in the future.

The Glennials are stating that only non-Glennials bond with pets and robots. I'm over here wondering: How the hell did they remove basic pack-bonding from our genes and how would the result be recognizably human? Like. Even the loneriest loner has pack bonding tendencies which inform our actions. If you completely remove that so the result is one that doesn't bond with animals or things that look and act human... that's a hefty domino chain.

Anyway, they're kinkshaming the survivor for giving a shit about the robot which has been his only companion out here in deep space for god knows how long.

...Glennials don't have violent impulses, urges, or interest in violent sports. Like! Non-violence is great, but an entire race of humans who have no violent urges at all still feels unrecognizable to me? And yet they're supposed to be driven, highly competitive, and grade-focused. ...and they carry pulse rifles everywhere.

One of the Glennials has developed a hand-tremor, and another is becoming forgetful. The Glennial doctor is suggesting they torture the survivor since he's not talking fast enough. You'd think he'd at least know that torture is not a very effective means of getting at the truth. The patient will say what he thinks they want to hear.

Two of the Glennials are hooking up and I think it's supposed to be seen as another glitch behavior, but I'm down with casual sex so it's hard to view as strange. *shrug* Now the Glennial Girl is crying because her boyfriend is in danger of dying and everyone is SHOCKED at this display of emotion, like, they're more concerned by her tears than they are at the prospect of the ship exploding.

"For only $999999, you too can have a baby that won't pack bond with you or anyone else, will hate sports and pets, won't ever show a single emotion, and won't hesitate to torture or shoot you!" / "What a deal!! Let's call him Damien, darling."

The patient is quoting Tolstoy and this is now being cited as proof that he isn't actually a trauma victim, because "I've never heard of a patient quoting Tolstoy before." I cannot. The patient jettisoned the cargo onto Titan (the moon) because... I think *he* thinks it's a biological weapon designed to wipe out non-Glennial humans? The Glennials are torturing the robot in an attempt to psychologically break him.

The couple are having a discussion about how love is a distraction and wrong and bad and yet here they are, etc., what is happening to them, and I'm uncomfortable? Being aromantic isn't abnormal! Romance is not inherently human! At the same time, these sound like conservative college kids who have just discovered pantsfeelings and think they invented romance all on their own, so that part rings familiar.

Ok, so the cargo turns water lethal but Glen Crest sells a proprietary filter that fixes the water. *jazz hands* CAPITALISM. The Capitalism side slaughtered the "Maybe Let's Don't Poison The Entire Earth" side. Survivor dude killed the capitalists in their sleep. "The compound isn't a cure. They already had a cure. What they needed was the disease."

We learn that Glen Crest put a proprietary tracking code in the DNA of every genetically modified human. It is mutating and causing "irreversible neurological problems". "GCs have never known emotions, so they don't know how to control them. Their downfall is fast." THEY TURNED OFF PACK BONDING, SURVIVAL INSTINCT, AND EMOTIONS.

"The earth is burning. Regular humans are being hunted down and harvested for their blood, to keep GCs temporarily stable." They've only been gone THREE YEARS, is the thing. The earth went full Genetic Vampires in THREE YEARS. Super jazzed, by the way, that the couple have manifested emotions by way of "Man, Horny and Territorial; Woman, Weepy and Trades Sex For Hugs". REAL AWESOME. I mean, having the woman manifest mental illness by being sexually aggressive probably wouldn't have been *better*, but you could've at least made them consistent regardless of gender.

The doctor wants to harvest the survivor for all his blood. A vote has been taken on whether to kill the human in order to harvest his blood. The sexy couple says no; the remaining 3 vote yes. Making the Black man the sadistic torturer of the group sure was a choice, huh. I gotta break down the characters for a second here. The tall white commander is becoming caveman-brutish. The Black doctor is the one who keeps advocating sophisticated medical torture. The attractive man is the lusty, protective pantsfeelings one. The brunette is manifesting emotional weakness: crying constantly, bemoaning her lost childhood, and trading sex for physical closeness. The blonde is manifesting physical weakness via hand tremors and that's about it. She's the POV character.

How has nobody turned to emotional support eating, you'd think they'd wanna pack that in for shame points.

Survivor is set up for killin', but the others realize he was reading Sun Tzu's The Art of War. OBVIOUSLY, that means he didn't actually do the real killing but rather had the robot do it and she's a danger now. WHO PUT MONEY ON "KILLER ROBOT"? ...who put money on the Black man dying first. Fuck shit.

"With a combat chip, she's every bit our equal." Oh, right, the previously well-established combat chips that have been mentioned before this very moment. Hey, if they abhor violence, you'd think that actually they'd make really shitty soldiers and that they could be overpowered by a single normal human with a knife. But of course then they wouldn't seem "superior" to an American audience, so.

Emotional Girl dies second, immediately after saying "whatever happens, I want you to know I love you." Lusty Man gets a few good hits in before dying. In an honestly unforeseen turn, Blonde Girl turns on her people and kills the last Glennial. She reveals that she was one of the "failed 3%" of Glennials for having emotions, and she's been having to fake being emotionless like them. You'd think that would make her just a Normal Human, but instead they're making her out to be Dangerously Mentally Ill and Violent. Sort of? Ish? She still feels remorse for the violence, I guess.

She saved the Survivor and his Robot because she's worked out that the robot has...developed self determinancy? She tells them to go back to earth. (Where...humans are being harvested for blood?) "I may seem fine now, but you're not safe with me." Ah, yes, the dangerously mentally ill. He protests that earth isn't a great place to go back to and she tells him to "do what you do best: survive" but that might mean she wants him to kill all the Glennials. Blonde crashes her ship onto Titan at maximum speed.

What a great movie that was for stigmatizing mental illness. SPACE MENTAL ILLNESS was the culprit after all, just with a side of capitalism. In closing, I wish to note that both the title and the box image have NOTHING to do with the actual film. Calling it "Uncle Bob's Space Jamboree" would've been equally relevant.

December Newsletter (2019)

These monthly review posts are always so strange for me because I have to think things like "was my girlfriend really not my girlfriend last month?" That seems strange and impossible. Surely my girlfriend has always been my girlfriend. I cannot quite comprehend a time in which she was not, and yet I know it must be true. can probably tell I'm doing well this month. *shy smile*

Movies were live-watched on Twitter and scheduled for posting on the Patreon every Tuesday and Thursday--I hope you'll like those a lot. I posted a new Narnia post! I have some more D&D drabbles to put up, although a few of them still need to be put onto paper. I'm working on a story which is coming along very slowly; I've always known I work slower in winter because of my seasonal affective disorder. It's alright. Slow and steady wins the race.

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.

My YouTube channel is here.

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

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

Please drop in the comments and let me know how you're doing? I love you all and I know this time of year isn't always easy.

Narnia: In Which Little Happens

[Narnia Content Note: Animal Mistreatment. One gif from the Frozen 2 trailer.]

Narnia Recap: Digory and Polly used their rings to flee from a dying world but found to their surprise that the mysterious Queen Jadis was able to come with them through the power of the rings.

The Magician's Nephew, Chapter 6: The Beginning of Uncle Andrew's Troubles

When we last left our heroes, they were rocketing at high speeds away from Charn towards the Woods Between Worlds (though, through what medium they are traveling, I could not say) and they had an unexpected tag-along. 

   “I’m not touching you!” said Digory.
   Then their heads came out of the pool and, once more, the sunny quietness of the Wood between the Worlds was all about them, and it seemed richer and warmer and more peaceful than ever after the staleness and ruin of the place they had just left. I think that, if they had been given the chance, they would again have forgotten who they were and where they came from and would have lain down and enjoyed themselves, half asleep, listening to the growing of the trees. But this time there was something that kept them as wide-awake as possible: for as soon as they had got out on to the grass, they found that they were not alone. The Queen, or the Witch (whichever you like to call her) had come up with them, holding on fast by Polly’s hair. That was why Polly had been shouting out “Let go!”

Open Thread: Light Reflected Off Wet Containers

Sorry for the lack of open thread last week, depression was really bad, and after Tuesday evening I had some very different priorities.  I figured that it was better to wait for Friday and this one than post a stopgap open thread so late on Wednesday that it might as well have been Thursday.

The picture was taken from the Portland side of the red bridge (Casco Bay Bridge.)  This loading yard used to be parking for the Scotia Prince, which was a cruise/ferry that went from Portland to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.  Notable for also being a way for Mainers in the Portland area to gamble, since as soon as you crossed out of Maine territorial waters it became legal.


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: Predators


As a grand finale to the Alien Franchise re-watch, I'll close out with Predators which is not an alien film but cheekily sorta refers to the xenomorphs at one point. I really enjoyed Predators more than basically any of the other Predator movies and concepts I've seen because it was like someone took the idea and tried to make it more... hmm... tonally consistent? Well, that's my opinion anyway.

We open with Adrian Brody waking in a freefall and being very confused and terrified. A strange parachute attached to him opens when *it* feels like, rather than from any urging on his part. It's a very effective opening for shit getting real. Adrian wakes up again, this time on the ground, just in time to see a confused and frightened stranger land with similar violence and point guns at him. "Don't!" Adrian orders, but in a sort of friendly badass way.

This is my FAVORITE trivia about this movie: According to Nimród Antal and Robert Rodriguez on the commentary, in the script, the character Cuchillo was described as "a guy who looks like Danny Trejo." When Danny Trejo heard this, he called Robert Rodriguez and said, "hey, I heard there's a guy in the script for 'Predators' who looks just like Danny Trejo, and guess what, I look just like Danny Trejo!"

Royce (Brody) and Cuchillo very nearly have a shoot-out right then and there when a third body *whumps* to the ground between them and his parachute does NOT deploy. As they're trying to figure out how to feel about *that*, machine gun fire rips through the forest. WE HAVE NOT HAD EVEN A MOMENT TO BREATHE and I like that.

Royce manages to flank the shooter--a burly Russian guy--and puts his gun to the guy's head before politely growling "please stop doing that!" Nikolai introduces himself and Royce asks what he remembers. "War. Then there was a light. Then I woke up and I was falling." It's the same for the others. Nikolai asks where they are and Royce nods at a woman with a gun trained on them. "Maybe she knows."

Royce asks if she'd like to lower her weapon and she just shakes her head no. (I would die for her.) She says she's never seen this jungle and she's "seen most". I like to believe the plants are different enough from earth plants that she can just tell. She says the place is too hot, and the typography all wrong, for Asia or Africa. Then she reveals she saw more parachutes. Royce asks which way, "so I can figure out who threw me out of a fucking airplane."

She nods a direction, he takes off, everyone follows because... what else are you going to do? Safety in numbers. Behind them, a man in a *very* nice business suit silently follows. After removing his nice dress shoes, which are slowing him down, I guess. Nearby, two men are fighting. One of them wears an orange prison jumpsuit. They hesitate when they see the armed group. Isabelle tells them they have bigger problems and they join up.

Jumpsuit mentions a guy hanging in a tree who keeps calling for help, and it's (yay!) the nerdy twiggy boy from That 70s Show. His parachute trapped him hanging upside down in a tree. Royce asks if he has anything to cut himself down with and the man is confused by the question. Noteworthy, he is one of the few who isn't dressed in military-esque type clothes with lots of pockets. He just looks...normal. Royce shoots the branch so that Edwin falls into a pool below and honestly it's a miracle it was deep enough that he didn't snap his neck but this is Hollywood, he's fine. Edwin says he's a doctor on his way to work. We're going to assume that the Predators kidnapped him in order to keep everyone patched up. Team Medic!

Hey, you know what's great? Not having rape threats! Jumpsuit--who presumably hasn't seen women much lately--stares at Isabelle's ass and tells her it's "awesome" but doesn't try or threaten to try to hurt her.

The group finally notices Business Suit (Hanzo), who is staring at a metal pillar thing that looks...really alien. Everyone discusses what they think is going on. If it were a training exercise, everyone would be military. Kidnapping for ransom doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense. And the skull trophies on the ground around the pillar are...unsettling. Edwin says it isn't drugs because they aren't feeling any side-effects, and a behavioral experiment would have some kind of *point*, which this doesn't seem to have. The point is made that they could be regular-degular dead; several of them remember being in combat. Royce growls that you don't need a parachute to get to hell and stomps off to find high ground.

Nikolai tries to touch a pretty flower and Doctor Edwin stops him, pointing out that the plant would have paralyzed him with poison. Nikolai promises to protect him out here. Sweet! Isabella keeps trying to create team cohesion and Royce doesn't want any of that. Instead, she shows him a homemade.....compass? I guess? (It's a needle on a leaf, set in water.) It spins and spins rather than pointing north? He frowns, worried. Royce points out the sun hasn't moved since they arrived. Then he notes how dangerous everyone is: Spetnaz, cartel, RUF, Yakuza, Jumpsuit. ...and a doctor. "He doesn't belong." I still maintain he's surely there to patch people up for long-term hunting.

They accidentally set off a series of traps and Isabelle nearly falls into a pit. For all his "I'm stronger alone" growls, Royce instantly races to slide and save her. Bless him. Royce and Isabelle crouch back to back, scanning with their gun sights. Isabelle (the sniper) sees the threat and Royce says to "take him" but she says she doesn't have to. "He" is a corpse, his chest exploded outwards. HMMMMMM. They triggered a dead man's trap, but what was he trying to kill? The deadfall size suggests he was afraid of something *big*.

Everyone is distressed to locate a horizon on which they can see extra moons that shouldn't be in the sky.

Dogs that look REALLY WEIRD come at them and everyone drops to either fire or flee; the doctor and Jumpsuit run (they don't have guns), Isabelle and Royce calmly single fire; some others panicky waste ammo. I like this because it's the first real *hunting* thing we've seen the Predators do here; they sent dogs to flush the game and observe how they respond to threats. I don't like hunting, but this feels like actual hunting rather than invisible serial killing.

Isabelle's rifle jams and her side-arm does nothing against the dog. Cornered, she places her gun to her temples. Doctor Edwin screams for her to stop, but a whistle calls the dogs away before she can shoot. Royce orders everyone to reload. "This planet is a game preserve and we're the game. We just got flushed out." I like this because it actually *fits* the things they've observed and isn't just magically intuited or given from Ancient Writings.

They notice someone is missing, then hear his cries for help: he's in the middle of an eerie field, not moving. When they throw a rock into the field, some kind of trap electrifies and disintegrates the rock. They drift away, aware they can't help their companion. Isabelle, moved by pity, shoots him in the heart... then starts in horror as "help me" is heard in his voice again.

Royce wants to trace the dog tracks to their camp in order to see who they're dealing with. They find a... camping site with bodies hung up in various states of... being skinned for trophies? They find a predator, sans armor, strung up and suffering. Royce disappears while Isabelle has an emotional reaction to the creature. Then they're being shot at and Royce is yelling RUN. They run off a cliff into a pool which was apparently fucking freezing, per IMDB.

Isabelle punches his pretty face and tells the others that Royce used them as bait to learn about the creatures. He agrees but points out that Isabelle recognized the thing. She reluctantly spills classified information about Arnie's original predator movie. Royce has them hole up with traps to draw the predators to them, but they don't take the bait so he decides to use Doctor Edwin as bait and sends him running through the forest while something big chases him. Problem: It's not a predator and Isabelle didn't shoot it.

A whispering voice approaches them and then an invisible predator materializes. It's Lawrence Fishburne! "I'm alive!" he whispers. "You talk too loud." Noland takes them to his hideout and tells them about the place: predators dump things here--"shit like you wouldn't believe!"--and hunt and kill them. He's managed to survive by running and salvaging. The predators come in a ship, but no one knows how to fly it.

Noland goes to sleep while Royce plots to convince the captive predator to help them. "Enemy of my enemy," he says, echoing Alien vs Predator. "Doesn't make him a friend," Isabelle says. To punctuate this truth, they realize the cabin is filling up with smoke. Noland has disappeared. "He's a scavenger," Doctor Edwin yells. "He wants what we have!" Royce shoots the nearby wall in order to alert the predators and "call in the cavalry". This is...kind of effective in that they kill Nolan. Less effective in that they start killing everyone else. Nikolai takes one out (and himself) with explosives.

Jumpsuit gets himself killed but gets a few good hits in. Hanzo has a sword fight with one of the predators, which in interesting because they have guns but this suggests a legitimate obsession with becoming a "perfect" warrior. Royce, Isabelle, and Edwin are the only ones left. Edwin is maimed in a trap and Royce says they have to leave him behind if they want to survive. Isabelle refuses. "You should've gone with him," Edwin says sadly. "I know," she replies.

Isabelle and Edwin are captured and thrown in a pit. Royce frees the captured predator and the spaceship rises into the air. Edwin asks if she'd make the same choice if she could do it over again. "Yes." She promises to kill them both quick, and Edwin says "No, it won't be quick." Then he cuts her with neurotoxin and she collapses. Whoops, turns out he's a serial killer and we only *thought* he was here to be team medic. In the sky, the spaceship explodes.

Royce comes back, rescues Isabelle and Edwin from the pit, and then kills Edwin in a scene which is, like, 78% of my kinks I'm not going to lie to you all like a liar. Royce booby-traps Edwin with grenades, blows up the predator, and then beats him up while covered in mud and surrounded by fire (to confuse the predator's heat-vision). About the time he starts losing (because, I mean, it's still a predator and he's still Adrian Brody), Isabelle manages to drag herself to her sniper rifle and helps kill the damn thing.

Royce and Isabelle exchange names for the first time, hold each other until morning, and watch grimly as more parachutes fall from the sky. THE END. A downer, but I honestly love it. I believe in these kids. That's it, that's the movie, we made it to the end!!

Film Corner: Aliens vs Predator

Alien vs Predator

Alright, here we go. Movie night. Aliens vs. Predator has a soft spot in my heart because my spouse made me watch it and I expected to absolutely HATE it and instead ending up liking it a lot. That was a few years ago, though, so let's see how it holds up. I tentatively select "extended version" on the play screen, though sometimes that's a mistake. We'll see.

We start in a snowy place where a panicky man is running around willy-nilly. Invisible Wolverine stabs or shoots him, it's unclear, and we cut away. I'm sure that's fine. In space, a Weyland satellite exists. It locates an identified heat signature in somewhere. Everyone seems very excitable about it. A Black woman climbing an icy mountain gets a call on her bluetooth headset from someone claiming to represent Weyland Industries. They offer her a bribe to meet with Weyland, and when she reaches the top of the mountain a helicopter is there waiting for her.

Smash cut to... somewhere warmer and people speaking Spanish. A person excavating a dig locates a pepsi-cola cap before HE takes a call from Weyland as well. Weyland is clearly putting together the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. A Scottish man takes a picture of the Black woman while she sleeps. She has the extreme patience to not slap the camera out of his hands. He asks her to take a picture of him for his boys. He's a chemical engineer. She splits her time between environmentalism and taking scientists on the ice. I love her and would die for her.

Open Thread: Sun-Obscuring Clouds

In spite of how it looks, this isn't actually that close to Sunset.  At least, I don't think it was.  Taken through the passenger window of a car.


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: Covenant


Anyway, if I want to start Covenant tonight I need to do it now, so I guess let's do this.

We open with David being turned on for the first time. Weyland quizzes him about what he sees and feels. Weyland looks a LOT younger than before, which suggests that the David on Prometheus was an older android model than I'd expected. David and Weyland talk about god and needing to meet one's creator and David instantly questions why he should have to serve Weyland if Weyland is ephemeral, fleeting, and capable of death. This is just... argh, no.

The best I can do here is assume that David was programmed with Weyland's values, because there's no *objective* reason to assume that immortal beings are inherently better than mortal ones. Something being fleeting does not make it less precious. It feels like Scott or whoever wants to make a really profound point about existence with these movies but instead is just exposing a lot of his own fears and biases which aren't, strictly speaking, facts or objective.

Open Thread: The Great and Powerful

Not the first time I've used an image of a toy, though it might be the first time I used a picture of one that someone I know actually owns instead of a toy spotted in the wild, as it were.  While I was picking up clothes off the floor of a closet, I found The Great and Powerful Trixie Lulamoon laying on her side.

Originally I was going to use a different image of her.  That one is much sharper, but it came at the expense of the sparkles.  Trixie here captures the light of a flash in a way that makes it look like she's glowing, but the flash completely overpowers the sparkles, and the sparkles, I have realized, are compulsory.

So, anyway: small sparkly plastic toy.  Sit/stand/whatever in awe of her greatness and power.


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: Prometheus


Alright, bitches, witches, good friends with stitches, and people with itches: the Alien marathon continues with Prometheus. Prometheus has a lot of emotions for me because I wanted to see it in theaters (a new alien movie! In my lifetime!) but I was instead in the hospital having surgery. Then I saw it on Bluray and was glad I didn't see it in theaters, lolsob.

In a sign of the high quality control that went into this release, I have to wrestle with the Bluray disc for 20 minutes in an attempt to get the damn thing to fucking play. I think the bluray is trying to cleverly "resume playing" from the last time and is instead just horking itself. The fact that we're gonna have to watch the DVD instead would almost be funny if I weren't so irritated, lol.

Open Thread: Fallen Leaves

Sorry this is so very late.  Depression has been really bad.  I have food and water, but it's hard to think, hard to move, hard to get the food or the water, and hard to remember that I'm supposed to be eating or drinking it instead of staring off into space.

Normally I'd reserve such "Woe is me" stuff for the comments or my own blog, but this is really late and I figured you all deserved an explanation.

Picture from October 29th of 2018.  I haven't exactly been taking a lot of pictures lately.


Friday Sunday 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 basically over, 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!

November Newsletter (2019)

October is over and it feels like all I did was blink. Where did the time go?

A lot of it went to a new friend who is a bit more than a friend now. *shy* It's hard to remember only a year ago I was asking you all to reassure me that I'd someday be able to stop missing my ex-husband so much. I can't remember the last time I've been this happy, even if it means I'm not as productive as I'd like to be. Time keeps slipping away but in good ways, in that did we just spend two hours talking about our favorite movies kind of ways.

[TW: Parental Bigotry] What was, uh, not fun was my mother dropping by to demand if I was "in a homosexual relationship". (If you're on twitter, you may have already seen this thread.) This was a case of a particularly suspicious stopped clock being right: she couldn't believe my friend would come over to take care of me while I was ill unless we were dating. *sigh* I told my mother that I'm bisexual and that there's a girl I'm interested in dating, and she berated me for a bit and bluntly suggested that this was why my ex-husband left me. (It's not, and it would be biphobic of him if it was, rather than "my fault".)

I'm not quite estranged yet, but visits from my parents (and the resultant disability care they were providing me) have essentially stopped. Which is honestly a strange relief on my part, but more than a little inconvenient because I needed the aid. Based on a lot of your recommendations, I'm looking at for some in-home aid but a lot of this is overwhelming at the moment. My friend is helping to chase the nightmares away by holding me at night and I took this week off of work to try to put myself back together. It's difficult because I really did try to give my parents the fiction they wanted, but I just couldn't convincingly lie and say I was heterosexual like she wanted.

In terms of what this means for Patreon, I did get some outlining done on my No Man of Woman Born sequel idea and I noodled some words onto paper but they aren't ready for post. So it's another month of live-watches, drabbles about characters, and let's play videos. And maybe a few more things.

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.

My YouTube channel is here. The Phoenix Wright videos are here.

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 for much for hanging in here with me--you are all quite literally helping me to stay alive. I love you.

Film Corner: Alien Resurrection

Alien Resurrection


Alright, it's Alien 4 aka Resurrection aka Joss Whedon Has Issues time. Get yer popcorn. I'm going to state that I actually like this movie, but I can't stand Joss Whedon so it's going to be a complicated live tweet, lolsob.

We open with naked child-Ripley in a tube that then morphs into naked adult-Ripley in a tube. On an operating table, doctors extract the chestburster from her and decide to sew Ripley back up. Weirdly, there's a little umbilical cord they have to cut, which you'd think might be acidic, but apparently not. But, look, this movie is going to be about PREGNANCY and MOTHERHOOD and not about science, so we might as well resign ourselves to some inaccuracies now.

Ripley actually wakes during the procedure and grabs the hand of the doctor and twists it. This is our first introduction to a "Ripley" that isn't who we remember. I do like this Ripley and the way Weaver plays her; she's continuing her path into nihilism.

Alone in confinement, she notices a tattoo that says "8". They call her that, too: Number 8. While under examination, she attacks a doctor and tries to kill him. They have to shock her to save him. She regresses to "little girl" motions, twisting childishly in chairs and tilting her head at people. There's some gibberish as to why she has fragmented memories; we get an emotional reaction from her when she's shown a little girl who looks a little like Newt.

In the mess hall, Ripley warns the scientist that the alien is a queen. "She'll breed. You'll die. Everyone in the company will die." There's a joke that Weyland-Yutani was bought out by Wal-mart. I don't know if I like that angle; on the one hand, the later movies (*looks at Prometheus*) get a little silly about Weyland-Yutani being the source of all evil in the world. It makes sense to have a new antagonist that just... exists. Because mankind seeks to destroy itself. On the other hand, if Weyland-Yutani really is gone then that's a bit of an "end of an era" feeling.

Either way, we have a new theme that mankind meddles as a feature of the species rather than because of rampant capitalism. I preferred the capitalism angle. (Then again, there does come a natural point where audiences were questioning how Weyland-Yutani was justifying all this to the board of directors.) The scientist tells her that the creature will be useful once it has been tamed. "You can't teach it tricks," Ripley warns. "Why not?" he asks. "We're teaching *you*."

A proto-Firefly team (thank you @ScottMadin) approaches the facility. It's full of morally questionable characters, Winona Ryder, and a man who sexually harasses her on the job but it's supposed to be okay because he's disabled. (It's not okay.) The crew board the scientist vessel--which seems a strange fit for such an obvious outside-the-law sort of gang--and are searched for weapons. (We will later see that the wheelchair is used to smuggle in weapons, which is one of my least favorite tropes because it leads to ableds treating mobility devices with suspicion.)

It's not really well explained why a cargo of disposable people are "hard to come by", nor why the military would need to pay Firefly smugglers to bring them people, nor why they would need to pay exorbitant amounts, but apparently the future has fewer missing persons? It would work better, I think, if the scientists wanted a very specific type of person (O-negative blood or something) and couldn't just requisition 8 drifters for egg-implantation.

Anyway, the "cargo" wake up just in time to see the eggs opening and I'm left wondering why they were allowed to wake up at all. Maybe the facehuggers require a conscious host? Would explain why Ripley and Newt weren't implanted in their sleep, but would be a problem for A3.

Ron Perlman aka Proto Jayne tries to flirt with Ripley by playing basketball with her, but she turns violent and this crew of violent murderers seems to take exception to that, which seems a wee bit hypocritical. God, I would happily watch 2 hours of just Sigourney Weaver beating up men. This is the future liberals want, etc. Anyway, sorry, the scientists are very proud of the fact that Ripley can beat up a man with a basketball. She wipes away a nosebleed and it acid-burns the floor.

Here follows the sexiest movie scene ever and it involves a foot massage. Damn, I could go for a foot massage.

@seandehey. sorry if spammy i l o v e this movie. if you havent seen ron perlman's reaction to sigourney weaver nailing that trick shot, here it is.

Yes, this is beautiful.

While the Firefly crew enjoys their downtime, we see how the scientists keep the aliens in line: they have weaponized cryo freeze gas. Really, that's how you think this is going to work, scientists? This isn't just hubris; it's outright bad animal training! They don't have any treat-reinforcement for behavior they want to encourage, they just have punishment!

Winona gets drunk and stumbles around the ship only it's a RUSE because she wants in Ripley's room. Some stolen biometrics later and she's in Ripley's chamber with a knife. She's horrified to learn that the queen isn't inside Ripley anymore. "Ellen Ripley dies 200 years ago," Call tells her sadly. "You're not her." Ripley's face falls as she absorbs what she already knew.

Ripley warns that they're looking for Call. She leaves and is caught by guards; the Firefly crew is rounded up for execution. The Firefly crew quickly demonstrate that they're more capable and trained than the military. It really is funny how much this crew just IS Firefly but with different actors and a very few changes in role assignments. Whedon really loves the idea that experience makes a crew more deadly than training, and they go overboard here to the point where they can calculate bullet ricochet angles with deadly accuracy. I'd like this better if they didn't turn instantly useless when the horror starts.

The aliens take advantage of the distraction to kill one of their own (why were they housed together?) and the massive outpouring of acid instantly eats through the deck. They *knew* the aliens bleed acid, and they're IN SPACE. They don't have a way to neutralize the acid quickly in case of an accidental bleed out? Forget tactical suicide, what if one of them was sick? Injured? YOU'RE IN SPACE. If a single alien had a vomiting fit, they'd instantly breach the hull and everyone would die. These people are not qualified to run a bath.

The Firefly crew decide, wisely, to evacuate while all the soldiers die. Proto Malcolm Reynolds is picked off first, the aliens laying a clever trap for him by leaving a gun to tempt him. Ripley then uses the dead body as a trap to shoot the alien, which now does not seem to have any acid in him at all. This movie is not about scientific consistency! It is about FIREFLY and MOTHERHOOD. Ripley and Call can magically tell that the ship is moving even though that should be impossible. The ship is programmed to return to earth in case of emergency. What a great protocol!

Ripley and Jayne have a great conversation. "I heard you ran into these things before. What did you do?" / "I died."

Passing a suspicious room, Ripley investigates to find other versions of herself; some in terrible pain. A Ripley on a table begs for release. "Kill me." Crying, Ripley complies. This arc, at least, is revisited: that death can be a release. Though I remember liking Resurrection in the past, it must be said that it is paced very badly. After Suspicious Room #1 we come to Suspicious Room #2, where an infected survivor is located. He's confused and unaware; he was in cryo on his way to a job.

Honestly, god bless Weaver for her acting skills; she's really carrying this one on her shoulders.

Having done several rooms with talking, it's time to start picking people off as rapidly as possible. The crew has to swim through a flooded corridor because "the cooling tanks" have enough liquid to flood an entire ship level. Sure. I feel like here is where you could explore how *unlikely* it is that probably-space-born space-hoppers would even know how to swim, let alone be as good at it as they are here. The aliens swim excellently, though, so that's nice; I like when they're allowed to be elegant.

The aliens have booby-trapped the other end of the pool with membrane and eggs, which is an unexpectedly tactical deployment of the facehugger concept. Not sure how I feel about the trap; seems like if the facehugger gets you while you're swimming, you sink and die. Even if it keeps you alive by turning water into oxygen to pump down your throat, it dies and falls off and THEN you drown.

The wheelchair user had to abandon his chair before the pool--a plot point that I have never liked--and he is now dead weight to slow the guy carrying him. I really hate that so much. Anyway, the Evil Scientist shoots Call and she falls into the pool. Despite never having evidenced this ability before that I can remember, the aliens can spit acid. Christie unlatches himself from Vriess and falls to his death after being acided. This is the death I hate the most, I think. I liked Christie.

They're trapped but the door opens and a wounded Call is on the other side. She lives! Ripley gives her a Look. She's an android. "I should've known. No human being is that humane." It's a neat little full circle that Ripley has come, from fearing androids to considering them an improvement over humanity. Ripley instantly becomes protective and maternal because there was an existing theme of motherhood in these movies and we're going to run with it, dammit.

"I can't make critical mass. I can't blow it." / "Then crash it."  Ripley, both you AND the alien survived the last crash. This seems like a bad idea. Why not just turn it around? You're not caught in a gravity well or anything! You just need to override the GPS. (You can see why the fanbase has basically declared the entire movie off-canon.)

Ripley and Call talk about nihilism. Ripley asks why Call cares. "Because I'm programmed to," she says tearfully. It's a shame the movie isn't better, because the scene has a lot of potential for exploring why we keep trying when times are hard. Like, Ripley really is an amazing case study. She keeps going despite the fact that her life is a nightmare of horrors that never end. Why? What motivates her? She's cycled from wanting to protect people to raw survival instinct.

Then MOTHERHOOD kicks in and Ripley feels sorrow for the nearby queen, who is in pain. Why? I honestly do not know except that Whedon has fucked up ideas about what MOTHERHOOD does to women? I mean, I guess you could handwave that this experience has made Ripley lose any real distinction between "human girl" in need of protection and "alien queen" in need of protection, but if that's the case then she's kinda lost the one defining thing that made her Ripley. Her whole thing isn't just "protect weak things", it's been "protect them FROM the aliens". But something something MOTHERHOOD and womanly hormones. That's SCIENCE.

Evil Scientist and Infected Victim take each other out in a rapid thinning of the cast.

Back at the alien nest, a scientist explains that just as the alien biology changed Ripley, so too did Ripley change the queen: she's got a human womb now and instead of eggs she's giving vaginal birth. MOTHERHOOD. (I blame Joss Whedon for this.) Hybrid Alien is born and kills the queen because she doesn't smell like mommy. That's gratitude for you, isn't it, ladies. Amiright? Motherhood, etc. Ripley does smell like mommy, but she has apparently gotten over whatever made her feel sympathy for the aliens and she makes a strategic decision to get the fuck out of Dodge.

The Firefly crew seems very confused about flying their own ship, and I understand that they're down several crew members but I feel like you'd train everyone in basic procedures like "how to take off". Despite dying 200 years ago, Ripley decides to fly the machine. "This piece of shit is even older than I am." It's silly but it's the kind of silly that I actually like, so I'll allow this silliness. (Science Fiction Writers Have No Sense of Scale, though, seriously. 200 years ago we were riding around in buggies.)

The Hybrid is on the ship (no, it makes no sense) and he closes the hatch so they can take off (that makes no sense either) and now he's chasing Call (which makes the least amount of sense) but just go with it, okay, because the ABORTION METAPHOR is coming. Apparently flying is no longer really important because Ripley runs off to go find Call, only to find that the Hybrid is on-board and trying to fondle Call to death. "Put it down!" Ripley orders, and the Hybrid does so. (Jayne takes the wheel back in the cockpit.) You see, he instinctively obeys her because MOTHERHOOD. Science.

Ripley flicks a drop of her own blood on a nearby window so that the acid will make a hole, and the Hybrid goes ripping out through the hole in an abortion metaphor that angered at least one conservative Christian blog I read one day while I was bored. I'm not even joking. Ripley feels sorrow as the Hybrid dies because MOTHERHOOD means that aborting the alien baby who would definitely kill you makes you a hormonal weepy mess. I want to know why the buckets of acidic blood he's hemorrhaging aren't widening that hole.

Anyway, that was Alien Resurrection. Is it a good movie to eat popcorn to? Yes, sure. Is it the weakest of the original Alien Quadrology? Yes, my god. My ranking of films so far:
- Aliens
- Alien
- Alien 3
- Alien Resurrection

If I have a beef with Resurrection, and I do, it's that the themes of motherhood were grossly mishandled. Ripley 1-3 loves and protects the weak because of her humanity, not because estrogen made her weepy. It reminds me a little of a similar mis-step they made with that awful Metroid reboot, actually. The only thing that really saves Resurrection from the dustbin is that there are some genuinely good quips--mostly given to Weaver and Perlman, as goddess intended--and the Firefly crew trope is inherently interesting because pirates are cool.

Several of you have asked if I'll keep going. The answer is yes, but not tonight.  I will probably do Prometheus and Covenant next, but I also want to get in the first Predator v. Aliens (which was unexpectedly good for reasons I want to gush about) and maaaybe Predators.

I will add that in the Alien series books, Earth gets completely fucked up by aliens and I can see Resurrection wanting to tie in with that? Because I honestly can't think of any other good reason to CRASH the damn ship rather than just turn it around. Or fire on it. Like, you cannot convince me that a Firefly ship wouldn't have SOME kind of ship to ship weapon. Even if it's just the Guardian of the Galaxy solution of "open the bay door and fire with a regular gun".

Realistically, though, the ship should've been toast as soon as 1-5 gallons of alien blood were spilled in the initial alien escape. That should've eaten through the hull no matter how far away it was. But this was not about SCIENCE, it was about WOMB MAGIC.

I woke up this morning thinking how it's not the alien which causes Ripley to break down crying, it's the Company's betrayal and honestly that's a relatable mood. She gave her whole life to the Company and all she asked was that Weyland-Yutani be half as loyal to her as she was to them. But in the end, they were all "crew expendable". And it hurts her so much more than merely knowing monsters exist.