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.

Open Thread: An old sunset

This was taken on January 14th of 2013.  It's the sky over South Portland as seen from the new Veterans Bridge.


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Film Corner: Alien 3

Alien 3

We'll go Special Edition again, because we can.

An egg on the Sulaco. A facehugger climbs up Ripley's sleeping tube. We see a skeletal imaging of a face wrapped with a facehugger, then acid starts a fire in the sleeping compartment. Honestly the alien was really lucky the ship crash-landed somewhere habitable and didn't just explode in space.

A pretty man walks on a planet which is pretty in, like, a dirty way. I guess he's pretty in a dirty way too. He finds Ripley by a body of water and carries her back home. Men stare at Ripley in her underwear while he barks at them to get down to the beach and look for other survivors. Pretty sure this is all added footage for the director's cut.

Hicks and Newt are dead, slain by an inability to re-sign the same actors. We learn that this is a prison planet which is honestly FASCINATING to me: it suggests that there are so many habitable planets that humanity can afford to waste one on housing, like, 60 men. Anyway, the men are worried that Ripley will upset their religious chastity and honestly bite my ass.

Open Thread: Leaves Turn

According to my yard, as evidenced in the above picture, it's Fall.

(Those who pay attention to planets and orbits noticed the onset of Autumn on this side of the equator almost a month ago.)


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Film Corner: Aliens


Next up is ALIENS, which is probably my favorite; I used to watch it during panic attacks in order to calm down. Of course we instantly open with MORE slow pans over dust-ridden consoles, because Ripley wasn't picked up where and when she'd hoped and instead took the long way through the solar system. She's alive and that means the salvagers don't get to claim the ship as salvage and I just remember being *so relieved* that they didn't just kill her for a payday.

A visitor: Jones and a man in a suit. "I work for the Company but I'm actually an okay guy." Ripley eyes him warily. No one has told her that she was out there for 57 years, so Burke ends up having to break the news. I did genuinely feel bad for him for that much. They should've had a doctor tell her! Prior to the Company inquest, Burke informs Ripley that her daughter died at age 66. All they have of her is a grainy photo. Ripley sobs. My heart.

Open Thread: Web of Light

I mean, technically it's a web of silk that just has light bouncing off of it, but I think the wording I used is preferable.


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Film Corner: Alien


I think I'm gonna do an Alien marathon, not unlike my LOTR one. I gotta do something while I'm stuck in bed, or I get cranky.

So the first thing you need to know about me is that I didn't see any of the Alien movies until adulthood, because my childhood Christian cult thought movies were gateway drugs to Satanism. So all the cool old-school tech seemed like a really neat retro look when I finally saw these movies. Just saying. The slow-pan "nothing happens for ten minutes while you look at pretty space pictures, AND YOU'LL SAY NOTHING AND LIKE IT" film techniques didn't maybe age quite as well as the retro tech.

Ooh, 1979 theatrical or 2003 director cut? I think we'll do 2003. Ridley Scott tells us he didn't change much for this version and I am only just noticing how similar his name is to Ripley.

Open Thread: Wrinkles

The computer I'm using right now doesn't have much in the way of image editing ability, which is annoying because this image would be sharp as sharp can be (well . . . significantly sharper) if I'd been able to use a different down-scaling algorithm.

(Also I would have liked a to have somewhat finer control over the balance of color, light, and shadow.  It's direct sunlight on a crumply indoor surface, the camera could have used some help when it comes to making it look like it actually looked.)

Regardless: Wrinkles.  The sort of wrinkles that might be produced if your toddler niece were sleeping on an adult sized bed.  Actually, I think the wrinkles were there before I put her on the bed, but still . . . (I don't actually know the answer to, "But still what?")

*double checks the day of the week*

This is not late.  (I'd prefer to have posted it 12 hours ago, but that doesn't change the fact that it's not actually late.)  That's *checks* three weeks in a row.  Woo!


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October Newsletter (2019)

I wanted this newsletter to go up on the first of the month, but my back has gone completely out on three different days this week: one day it was so bad they sent me home from work because I just... couldn't stand up straight. At all. So that's been a thing I've been dealing with and I'm sorry for the tardiness.

I've also been grappling with some personal revelations that I'm not quite sure what to do with; I feel like I need to get them out and down so they stop being scary and start being made real. So here we go.

When I began the Earthside series, I envisioned a multi-book series much like the Xanth series that meant so much to me as a child. Book after book with no end in sight, with a sprawling magical world and new protagonists cropping up from the supporting casts of previous books. I plotted. I planned. I have planning notes for books with Mina as the protagonist, with Elric, with Lavender, with Joel, with Jing, with Reese. I love them all, these characters, and love the world I made for them.

I was also planning to get these out the door quickly, ideally one book a year alongside other smaller projects. I didn't think anything of ending Survival Rout on a bit of a cliffhanger because the next book was going to come out a year later, pick up directly on its heels, and be about apprehending the dangling villain before he can hurt Aniyah again. I had a chapter-by-chapter outline, I knew exactly what happened each step of the way, how long could it take to write a book? I'd written several at that point, after all!

Then I started No Man of Woman Born as a side-project. My husband at the time asked what was taking all my creative energies and causing me to type frantically away at the keyboard day and night and, excited, I told him. His response to my working on a "trans book, by a trans author, for trans readers" was not... super positive. On the days I set for working on Earthside, I found it difficult to write romance when my own relationship was not doing... super well. I stared at the pages and realized it just wasn't coming, and so I set Earthside to the side for a time.

After my divorce, the association of the draft with my husband only increased and I've spent the better part of a year trying to cajole, bribe, force, and hector myself into writing a book that I just can't seem to write at the moment. I know the words. I know what needs to go on the page. But my fingers just can't seem to do the thing. It's the most vexing thing I've ever experienced.

And when I try to work on other projects--Narnia posts, patreon fic, trans stories, anything--a little voice in my head screams "YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE WRITING THE OTHER THING" and that means nothing gets on the paper at all.

I've been blaming a lot of this on... well, everything. 2019 political stress. Work stress. Divorce stress. New medication stress. Back pain. But. BUT. Writing drabbles for my DM this last month at her command made me realize... I like writing. I miss writing. I just don't miss feeling like a failure every time I sit down at the keyboard because I'm "supposed" to be writing something else. That part isn't helping me.

So with that in mind, I am going to make an announcement: I am putting my Earthside project on hiatus until future notice. I really hate doing this and I particularly hate doing so when I left Book 2 on a cliffhanger book; if I could go back in time and change that, I would. I can tell you that [the rest of this paragraph has spoilers for Survival Rout] even though Aniyah does not remember Timothy, he does not re-kidnap her. Mina (who you may remember from Poison Kiss) discovers that he's been working for the True Fae and she goes on a city-wide hunt to capture him before he can hurt anyone else.

I hope that someday I can pick up Earthside again. Hell, even while writing all this out I feel a spark of "ooooh, I miss that". Maybe I just need to find the right writing group or "critique cheerleader" to send my drafts so they can bang the table and go "more!" (I work best when I'm writing "for" someone, as seen with my DM drabbles.) If anyone wants to volunteer for that in the comments, god bless you. But any work I do on Earthside will be "extra" in addition to the projects I've been neglecting. I want to make those my "official" focus, at least for a little while.

With that in mind, what are my goals for the year?

I want to write another Narnia post. I miss those.

I want to write a sequel to No Man of Woman Born. I...I don't need more projects, I know. But every reader who wrote me saying they needed these fairy tale stories, it... it touched me every time. I'm not sure what this sequel will be about, as I think I'm done with the prophecy angle for awhile; I'm kinda thinking I might do a collection of (some of) the "Disney Princess" fairy tales, but with transness. I want that.

I want to share more of my D&D stuff with you. I really don't know if there's any interest in this or if you're all just humoring me, but I put together some handouts for my Curse of Strahd players and I'll be damned if I won't show them to someone. So here we are.

Moving on:

October Stuff: 

- I did a live-watch of the Alien series and I hope you enjoy those as they go up. I really love the franchise, despite its occasional misstep.

- D&D handouts for Curse of Strahd!

- I plan to continue my Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney live-play on YouTube.

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.

I know this newsletter was a long one and not necessarily everything you'd want to hear. Thank you so much for being here with me. I love you all.

Writings: Alberta

They were in Lucy's room, sitting on the edge of her bed and looking at a picture on the opposite wall. It was the only picture in the house that they liked. Aunt Alberta didn't like it at all (that was why it was put away in a little back room upstairs), but she couldn't get rid of it because it had been a wedding present from someone she did not want to offend. --Voyage of the Dawn Treader


Alberta is at a party with her sister Helen, and their boyfriends Harold Scrubb and John Pevensie. Their host is a Professor who teacher John at college; Alberta has never attended any classes with him as the lecturer, but she's not fond of his way of talking down to her and calling the girls "my dear". During the party, Alberta nips off to tuck her coat into a wardrobe upstairs--it seems a bit of a walk just to set her jacket aside, but the Professor had asked her to take her coat there. Something in the way he asked made her suspicious, as though there were a prank she wasn't aware of going on in the background, but she went anyway.

She's forced to reach to the very back of the wardrobe to find an empty hanger, and then suddenly she is tripping and sprawling forward onto snow. Alberta looks around her in alarm but there is no way to get back out of wherever she is; no door in the air behind her. She is going mad, or has hit her head, or... something she previously thought was impossible has become impossibly present. Magic? She'd never believed in the stuff before, not even as a child, but the memory of Kirke's smirking smile nags at her. *He* knew this would happen. She doesn't know how he could have known such a thing, but he did. She's certain.

She moves slowly forward into the strange and inhospitable winter world before her. The land is silent and she's just beginning to think she's alone in this place--and starting to worry about how she will survive the severe cold for any length of time--when a sleigh pulls up and a strange woman bids her with ill-disguised anger to sit beside her. Not wishing to offend this imposing and dangerous personage, Alberta obediently sits on the sleigh bench with her as instructed. She's a little worried about how she will get back to the spot where she came in, but that's a problem for the future; she can't go much longer without warmth.

The Queen (for that is what she tells Alberta she is) turns gregarious during their ride, plying Alberta with dozens of questions that she fires off at a rapid clip, hiding her impatience under a veneer of sweet syrup that makes Alberta's teeth ache to hear--she is reminded of strained family gatherings at Christmastime, and distant aunts who demand hugs and smell like verbena and old lilac. Alberta answers the questions with wary tact, telling as little as she can about her sister and their two boyfriends. Several times she assures the queen that, yes, there are four of them. Her father isn't named Adam and her mother isn't named Eve, but she goes along with this without contradiction, sensing that the woman would be dangerous to cross.

When the Queen serves hot chocolate for them to drink, Alberta waits until she looks away before dumping the contents of her cup into the snow. She won't eat anything in this strange world until the alternative is dire. Who knows but that food here might be poison to her!

Once the food is gone, the Queen becomes more at ease, lazily issuing orders to Alberta with the easy command of one who is accustomed to being obeyed. She instructs the girl to "return right away" with the other three "Sons of Adam and Daughter of Eve", but to not tell them anything about the woman or her world. Alberta nodded her head a great deal and made noises of agreement, not because she wanted to ever see this blighted winter waste again but because she hoped this meant the woman had the power to return her home. When the sleigh stops by the edge of the forest again, Alberta scrambles off into the trees, hoping against hope that she can find her way back through that cursed wardrobe.

By some miracle, a door in the air awaits her in the depths of the woods, sitting smack in the middle of her path as though waiting for her return. She is just stepping through the shimmering apparition when a large fox hisses at her from a nearby bush. "Don't trust the Queen! She's starving us with eternal winter!" Alberta turns her head to him, mouth already opening to ask what he means, but her foot carries her forward and in the next moment she is tumbling out of the wardrobe and onto the floor of Kirke's ostentatiously large house.

Alberta sits awhile on the floor of the cold room which now seems so very warm in comparison to the world she fled. When Helen comes upstairs to ask what has taken her sister away from the party for so long, Alberta lies and says she needed a moment away from the men downstairs. Dreamy as Helen has always been, there are limits to her credulity; Alberta harbors no doubt that a magical world of snow would test her limits. As for the others, Harold was born without an imagination and John possesses a cruel penchant for teasing. And that damned Professor had already made several insulting jokes over dinner about "hysterical" feminists and the "madness" of being for equal treatment between the sexes. Alberta could half-believe he played this trick on her knowing no one would believe her and would think she'd lost her mind.

Well, she wasn't going to play his game. She wouldn't say a word.

Yet... the experience ate at her. Somewhere there were people who were starving because of tyranny. She couldn't help them, but she recognize their plight was not unusual in her own world. Alberta had already been drawn to feminism but now she felt called to further activism. Food scarcity was something she could try to fix--and she'd damn well fix it in her own world before gallivanting off in search of other worlds.

It was a few years later when Professor Kirke gave her that damned painting. She'd had to invite him to the wedding; Harold loved the man because John loved him. Whatever Harold's other virtues were, he'd sadly never shrugged off the vice of believing whatever John believed--at least whenever John was around to tell him. Alberta could see why her sister loved the charismatic Pevensie boy, but she couldn't help but wish he didn't have quite so much sway over her own husband. When the Professor gave them the framed picture, Harold declared then and there that he loved it and wouldn't part with it for the world. Alberta hadn't liked the way Kirke looked at her for her reaction--there was something predatory in the smirking gleam of his smile, and possibly a seed of doubt? or a question he could not voice?--but she gave him the vacuous grin that she'd perfected for her tyrant of a father, and a stalemate had ensued.

Later, she'd stashed the painting in their guest bedroom and occasionally allowed herself to look at the thing. It wasn't anything like the magical world she'd visited; that had been a place of snow and ice and black dormant trees whereas this was a blue-green sea with a little purple ship sailing towards the viewer. But something in the glint of the wooden frame reminded her of that cursed wardrobe, and if she stayed in the room for too long she got a chilly shiver that made her pause. Harold wouldn't hear of throwing the thing out, but after Eustace was born she kept the guest room locked up tight.

They'd only had one child, of course. Food conservation and responsible population numbers started at home. She'd taught Eustace from day one the importance of thinking carefully about one's ecological footprint on the earth, about food storage, and about the children in other countries who had less to eat than he did. In order to bring the lessons home to him, she used object lessons--he'd been particularly interested in cataloging which insects were edible and which were not. He liked to catch them in his free time, pin them on cards, and look them up in books. He'd mark each card carefully and keep them as reminders of how much easier it was for him to eat than for some of the other children on earth.

When Harold recommended that Eustace spend a summer with the Pevensies, Alberta hadn't objected. She and Harold could have a second honeymoon, and it was nice to relax now that the war was over. But Eustace came back with funny dinner stories of his cousins and the strange magical country they believed they'd been to while they stayed with Professor Kirke during the Blitz. Alberta felt a lump in the pit of her stomach. She'd asked Eustace, casually, for more details but all he could tell her was that they all seemed keen to go back. Later he recalled that the oldest girl, Susan, had been a little subdued about the adventure. Eustace had taken that to mean that she was the cleverest of the group, to be so disinterested in fantasy.

Alberta was conflicted. She called up her sister and invited the children to come stay with them next holiday. After all, Helen and John had taken such good care of Eustace during his visit. No, she didn't mind that there were four of them. But then Helen had changed the plan by announcing that Peter would be staying with Professor Kirke for the summer while Susan went to America with them. It would be easier on Alberta, she said, only having the two youngest to care for. Alberta had bit her lip, and known there was nothing she could say that wouldn't sound unbelievable. She just had to hope that the older two would be all right.

When Lucy and Edmund arrived, Alberta studied them closely. They seemed healthy and happy, a little obnoxious about the vegetarian dishes placed on the table, but nothing unusual for children who had been raised in a different atmosphere. Eustace didn't seem to like them at all, and Alberta was privately relieved he kept his distance. Too late, she remembered the painting in the closed-up guest room--she'd spent ten years deliberately not thinking about it, trying to avoid the feelings of guilt and despair the memory evoked, only to remember it after her niece was already installed in the room. She could have kicked herself for her carelessness.

When she tried to take it down--"you don't want this garish old thing in your room, do you?"--the girl had strenuously objected, coming close to tears. Alberta's misgivings were as wide as the English channel, but she didn't want to traumatize the girl further without good reason. And of course she didn't know for sure the painting was malignant, just that it had been a gift from a man who may or may not have sent her into a strange magical world without warning or consent. She wished she could *know*.

Maybe it was all a coincidence that the little girl claimed to have found a magical world in Kirke's house. That was what little children did, didn't they? Well, not her Eustace; but other children made up stories, right? Maybe it was a coincidence that the child said she wanted to return to that strange place. Maybe those feelings had nothing to do with the painting she liked, and she merely liked it because of the color. Or... or something. Alberta tried to rationalize the situation to herself, to believe she was over-reacting.

The only sensible thing to do was to leave the painting where Lucy liked it and monitor the situation closely. Eustace wouldn't get caught up in anything; he didn't like Lucy or the picture, for which Alberta was grateful. If the little girl disappeared--the idea seemed mad, but IF--then Alberta would track down the Professor and wring a straight answer out of him before Lucy had a chance to miss dinner. Alberta wasn't going to stand for any more nonsense from him. Not a peep.


In Narnia, Jadis watched the direction the young woman walked and grimly decided she would need to install a permanent spy in the region. There had been a community of fauns in the forest once, and she thought she had one in her collection. He would know how to survive in the cold woods, and fauns were notoriously too meek to consider things like rebellion. Yes, a faun would do nicely.