Open Thread: Red and Green

Taken three days ago.


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


Friday 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: Gathering of Heroes

Gathering of Heroes

Today we have GATHERING OF HEROES: LEGEND OF THE SEVEN SWORDS, a name which might be one of those neural net outputs from the people who use computers to name shelter animals. "In the mystical realm of Ryntia, forces of the underworld are aligning to unleash a plague of evil. Bre'gwen forges an alliance with an unlikely human who holds the secret to acquiring a powerful artifact that will allow them to summon and control an army of undead warriors from centuries past. An Oracle gathers seven heroes to wield the legendary swords of Draconus against them."

How can such a long summary leave us with so little information?? WHO IS BRE'GWEN? I love how Amazon movies are like "Thor, God of Thunder" because you might have missed that memo but just expect you to roll with "Bre'gwen" without context. WHATEVER, it doesn't matter, fuck you if you want context, here's your context: undead bad, must sword them all, yum yum. ...I wonder if any of the seven heroes will be women.

Film Corner: Hercules Reborn

Tonight's movie is from 2014 and it's called HERCULES REBORN. "When a young man's bride is kidnapped by an evil king, he turns to Hercules for help. The fallen hero has been living in exile, banished for killing his family, but the young man's courage inspires Hercules. Together, they fight to rescue the bride and reclaim Hercules' honor."

....2014 was also the year The Rock released his Hercules movie to lukewarm response, so I'm wondering if this was rushed out to milk the name recognition.

[TW: Violence] Wow, we start right off with Hercules killing Megara and the kids, so that's pretty sad.

10 years later, two cute boys in dresses fight. Nice to see a movie eschew trousers. One of the boys is engaged to Not Amanda Seyfried. Their commander (king?) seems unsettled by the engagement reveal.

The General is now urging a foreign king and queen to invade, on the grounds that there's gold in them thar hills. The royals are like, actually we're rich enough already and gold can't buy lost honor. Huh. Actually, I think those were the General's local king and queen and he was encouraging them to invade somewhere else, sorry. I got the wrong impression that they weren't HIS king and queen because of how rude he was. My bad. Apparently you can just sass your king as much as you want without fear of demotion now.

General is now creepily lurking in the background while Amanda and her fiance (recently-promoted-to-captain) virginally swoon at each other. General is...taking the army to war against the king. They're really ready for this whole insurrection thing. Captain wakes up and tells Amanda to flee while he goes and defends the city. I don't think he knows yet that it's a rebellion.

AMANDA'S PARENTS ARE THE KING AND QUEEN?!?! I really feel like that should've been mentioned a little earlier, movie!!!! Good lord, everyone has been so CASUAL about her. Teasing her and asking her if she's pregnant yet. And she's a princess. I know it's ancient Greece and not, like, regency England, but.

Captain and his Best Friend we're apparently the only people in the army NOT informed that today was rebellion day. I'm kinda impressed how easily they started killing their own men. I mean, it's in defense of civilians, but still. That's a quick emotional adjustment.

Princess has gotten herself captured by the General. I take issue with the "evil king" description in the Amazon write up. Captain is ready to bail on the city and go find Hercules for help. I...feel like we skipped some scenes here. He's really accepting of the city being lost for now. "Yeah, my girlfriend is being held captive by a guy who is definitely going to hurt her, but I'm gonna head out and find someone people believe is just a myth." Like??? Well, ok.

General has publicly killed the one guy willing to rat out the rebellion, which honestly seems *incredibly* short sighted. Is that on the Evil Overlord list? NOT executing people willing to help you? It should be. Ok, so incredibly quick recap: An evil General killed his king and queen for being honorable pacifists, and is holding the Princess captive. Her Boyfriend has fled to find Hercules. I'm going to try to limp to the kitchen and get some food.

Why do soldiers in every low budget Greece movie look like Roman centurians in leftover Passion play costumes never mind I answered my own question. Boyfriend is already at Hercules' city. Amazing. Usually there's, like, a harrowing journey and things happen to hamper the hero's progress.

Why does the hero's childhood best friend always seem like he's in danger of humping the nearest chair because he's JUST. SO. HORNY. They're having an I Am Spartacus moment with joyous drunkards claiming to be Hercules. Yeah, he's really in exiled disgrace over his whole family murdering thing, one of the literal worst crimes in his culture. *eyeroll*

[TW: Violence] There's a domestic violence scene where the General tells the Princess "I will not hurt you" and she immediately bites him and he backhands her. Weirdly, I kinda like the scene just because it juxtapositions how often that "reassurance" is a fucking lie.

Back at the tavern, Hercules gets himself thrown out. For reasons that must've been self evident to someone, Boyfriend and his soldiers take an interest in him. Oh, they want a guide to Hercules. How convenient that he is Hercules. This is a very efficiently paced movie. Hahaha, okay, amusingly they don't believe him. I wouldn't, either.

The General is now torturing random citizens for information about Boyfriend, but not Boyfriend's known associates or family. You'd think this guy would be more worried about rebellions, given that he came to power via one.

The General's troops have teleported to Hercules' city in order to capture Boyfriend. Impressive traveling times here. Hercules is saving them, despite having no real reason to. I guess he just wanted to get his kill quota in today? Oh, he just wanted them to believe he's definitely Hercules. Fair enough. Oh, Hercules has beef with the General. SECRET BEEF. How convenient.

[TW: Suicide] There's a fake suicide scene, but it's not real. The princess is taking good escape initiative. Good for her! She got a good stab in and got to relative safety.

Hercules has daddy issues, but honestly what son of Zeus didn't? Boyfriend's team is determined to alienate Hercules just because he's a drunkard. I'm really glad we had all this arguing instead of obstacles or plot.

The Princess has gotten herself captured again. Well, she had a good run. Like, on the one hand I feel bad complaining about a realistic depiction of a PTSD response to rape; but on the other hand, it's clearly here in order to damsel her, rather than to show us her journey as a character.

The General has hit upon the tried and true villain tactic of "I'll murder people until you do what I say" with the Princess. A problem with modern low budget fantasy adventure films like this one is that it's fundamentally cheaper to just film a lot of violence against women than to film giant scorpions or flying rocs.

Another problem is the absolutely terrible writing in which Boyfriend tries to convince Hercules "You're not a drunk! You're a warrior!" Has anyone in the history of addiction issues been helped by being told "your coping mechanism is shameful so we're going to pretend it doesn't exist!"?

You do have to admire the efficiency of a villain army who shows up the EXACT SECOND Hercules overcomes his personal problems. I still don't know what his personal problems are; apparently the writers thought it would be more dramatic if he wrestled with his inner demons privately and without viewer intrusion.

I mean, obviously there's the "killed his wife and kids" thing, but we literally have not talked about that. Was it Hera? Something to do with the General and their mysterious shared past? The drama is better when WE DON'T KNOW. It's like Brockian Ultra Cricket and if you get that reference we are now best friends, I don't make the rules.

I love how every modern depiction of Hercules is like, What if--oh my god this is SO EDGY of us--what if Hercules isn't REALLY the son of a god but people just SAID he was because he's good at fighting. MIND BLOWN.

Oh my god.

I can't breathe. They're trying to sneak into the city as POTATO merchants. Help. Help me. The ruse doesn't work because they have no potatoes, only stones, ON ACCOUNT OF POTATOES NOT EXISTING IN ANCIENT GREECE.

Boyfriend's troops are like "shit, a whole army? maybe we should leave again and bring back more than Hercules" and like....they knew it was a whole army going into this thing? Ok. The General's Dragon (second in command, not actual dragon) has shown up to challenge Hercules and this would probably be more dramatic if he'd been characterized at some point. Hercules surrenders in order to get inside the "impenetrable" palace walls and I call foul!! This is an Odysseus plan, not a Hercules plan! A Hercules plan would be to capture a super strong lion or bull and use it to ram the walls down.

The General had Hercules turn against Megara, using... "a potion brewed by a shaman of the Goddess Hara." That's how he says it and how it's captioned. I honestly don't know if they mean Hera or if they mean something else. And if you want Hercules to not be Zeus' son, it no longer makes any sense that Hera would turn him against his wife and children. Her whole thing is families (and not mistresses).

The General has....extra potion left over??? Because???? They cut Hercules' throat and pour the potion in. That's not how.....stomachs or blood contamination works??? Hercules is attacking his friends because fuck you and your desire for movies to be driven by character development. MAGIC POISON.

Rioting villagers are taking care of that whole army problem. Turns out we didn't need Boyfriend or Hercules. Huh. Hercules breaks out of the poison trance because he loves Boyfriend as a brother. So canonically Hercules loves this guy he met yesterday MORE than he loved his wife and children?? I'm just gonna assume the potion was after its expiration date.

Princess is bound and gagged in the middle of a room, frantically shaking her head NO as Boyfriend approaches, and this fucker doesn't think to check his 6 for someone sneaking up behind him. I hope this boy is hung like a HORSE, because she's not marrying him for the smarts.

Hercules, Princess, and the villagers did all the work. Boyfriend didn't really do anything, but ok. Boyfriend asks Hercules to stay here where there's a job and a community that loves him. Hercules says no, he wants to find a job and a community that loves him. Y'all, I don't know.

Princess says he's making sense to HER, and he rides out on a white horse. THE END.

Phoenix Wright: Reasons "Rise From The Ashes" Is Awful?

Okay, I really enjoyed the first four cases in the Phoenix Wright trilogy but the fifth case (which was added later with the Nintendo DS re-release?) is garbage and Ben said I needed to tell everyone why because I had a LIST. Here we go.

A short but not comprehensive list of things that happened which strike me as nonsense.

Film Corner: Siren

Who is ready for some Amazon Prime movie live tweeting? Because I watched KILLER MERMAID, Amazon would like me to know about SIREN: "Leigh has a unique power: every man who encounters her sees his ultimate fantasy and falls uncontrollably in love with her."

I don't really think that's a unique power; cis guys project on me all the damn time.

A male narrator with a voice like gritty gold tells us that there's a special girl everyone loves and she's hiding in the woods and we need to find her. Can we not just leave her alone? A lady in a house with cameras on it takes a shower, starts a barrel fire, and does something with a needle that might be drugs? She's the alonest alone woman in the world.

Children congregate outside her gate and dare each other to go on her property. One does. Haunting female song and staticy televisions turn on as he approaches the house. Instead of a woman, this boy-kid sees a beautiful girl-kid. She calls him "kid" and begs him to go home to his parents. His heart beats faster because love, I think?

Open Thread: Pony

His name is Elliot, he's the newest addition to my sister's farm.  Took me forever to get a good shot of him because I'd forget my camera, or not use it until the light died, or what have you.  This was taken sometime in the past week.  (I think.)


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


Friday 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: Zombie Lake & Spirit Camp

Mindful of my duty to bring you BAD movies, I've located something called Zombie Lake. "In a small village, somewhere in France, German soldiers, killed and thrown into the lake by the Resistance during WWII, come back." SO. MANY. COMMAS.

We have elevator music and full frontal nudity. Um. I'm always afraid I'll accidentally select a porno for one of these things. We've had a solid minute of nudity but please believe me that it feels like several hours. We are now going into 3 solid minutes of nudity and it's. Uh. Explicit. So there's that, if you like nude girls. If you don't, sorry about this.

There's nothing really keeping the zombies from leaving the lake? There's just a "no swimming / undead" sign. In addition to the nudity, a man is demonstrating that green-skin makeup and water don't mix well. He didn't even bite her! He just sort of drowned her, which feels like anyone could do. Back in town, they're alarmed that the girl disappeared but left her clothes behind.

Film Corner: Killer Mermaid

Alright bitches and people who don't self-identity in a reclamationary way as bitches, tonight's Amazon movie is KILLER MERMAID. We open with a MOBY DICK quote, and we know Melville was all about those killer mermaids.

Oooh, we get kickass dance music. I'm happy. A couple is sexily making out by the docks at night. I have a good feeling about these two kids, they're gonna live long happy lives. The man is distracted from naked tittles by a song only he can hear.

The boy throws himself into the water and the girl screams for help until someone with two legs shows up and.....skewers her with an anchor or possibly some kind of fishing related weapon. I'm pretty sure that wasn't a mermaid, so maybe this is an unrelated Texas Chainsaw Murderer thing. Texas...Anchor Murderer. Whatever.

Film Corner: Season of the Witch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pretty Boy inherits Naked Girl as his new girlfriend.

Twist: Her name is Ana.

Double Twist: I'm not naked.

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

Open Thread: Yellow and Orange

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


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


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

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

Film Corner: Cyclops

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emperor Eric evils about the palace, evilly.

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

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

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

...five scenes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tomorrow I'll do a B movie I like.

Author Interview: J. Emery's FORGOTTEN MONSTER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Everywhere Else.]

You can also sign up for my newsletter here.

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

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

Film Corner: Killer Bees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Film Corner: Dragon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Freyja is.....a necromancer?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Open Thread: Placeholder

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

[Text talking about picture goes here]

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


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


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

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

Film Corner: Dragonquest

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

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

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

Film Corner: Dragons of Camelot

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

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

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

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


Sure, ok, I don't care.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh my god, actual dialog:

"Arrows don't work!!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Film Corner: Orcs!

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

Wait, is this animated?

Oh gosh, one of the dragons is a baby.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Aww aww oh my heart, my heart.

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

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

"Hooray!! Everyone I cared about lived!!

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

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

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

Open Thread: Light through trees

Taken on July 14th, apparently.


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


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

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

Transcending Flesh: Bodily Autonomy and Rape Culture

Note: This was previously published on my Patreon.

a pink and blue sky with a radio tower

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


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

Essay #14: Bodily Autonomy and Rape Culture

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

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

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

~Rapists and Body Modification~

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

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

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

~Marriage and Body Modification~

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

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

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

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

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