Open Thread: Clouds


Picture taken on Sunday.  They didn't actually look like that, but I couldn't get the picture to look how they did look, so I went with that.

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We sometimes have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  That said, we do not currently have any.  You do not need such a thread to discuss a movie.  Provided you encipher any spoilers (the standard method is by summoning Cthulhu) discussion of movies is quite welcome in the regular open threads.

The special threads are for cases where movie-talk might threaten to drown out other discussion, is expected to take place over multiple weeks, or both.  If you believe a given movie calls for one, simply say so.  Be aware, however, that I'm not remotely on top of things right now, it's probably best if you @ me (chris the cynic, not Ana) to get my attention.

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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!

Afterland: Chapters 11-15

[Content Note: Transphobia, Child Sexual Abuse (CSA), Racism]

Before I get to Chapter 11, I want to talk about LEFT BEHIND. This is ancient history now, but I got into deconstructing books because I loved @SlacktivistFred's amazing deep dives into the LEFT BEHIND books.

LEFT BEHIND is about the Christian rapture, in which every child under the age of 13 or so, plus every True Believer adult, is summarily slain by God and taken to heaven without passing Go or collecting $200. (A little Monopoly game joke for you there.) This AFTERLAND book actually shares a lot in common with LEFT BEHIND. Not all the children are dead of course--only 50% of them--but all the fathers are gone. All the uncles and brothers. Every cis man minus a few million exceptions are dead.

Fred Clark talks about how the LEFT BEHIND books don't grapple at all with the kind of worldwide grief this would entail. The characters have all read the back of the book, know it's a Rapture story, and dutifully go back to their jobs and lives. No one ever breaks down in the middle of public life sobbing "the children, the children are all gone, I miss my daughter, please bring back the children." Everyone is almost eager to get back to their day job. It's obscene, like a capitalist wet dream.

In reality, it's just bad writing. The authors don't know how to depict this unprecedented magnitude of grief, so they don't try. They model their cab drivers and septic tank workers off the ones in their daily non-Rapturey lives. You probably see where I'm going with this, yeah?

Afterland: Chapters 6-10

[Content Note: Transphobia, Child Sexual Abuse (CSA), Racism]

Before I start on Chapter 6, I just have to revisit how very bizarre it is that everyone is just bovinely assuming that no one will ever get pregnant again. This isn't a fertility plague. This isn't even a situation where all sperm is gone: we have IVF banks, yes, and frozen embryos, but by the book's own admission there are a million or so American cis men still alive.

I only know that the government has outlawed pregnancy because a review mentioned it; the book hasn't seen fit to tell me this yet. Which...I can't really blame it for being shy of that plot point, given that Quiverfull groups would never respect this law. We can't even get people to wear masks, and this book wants me to believe that everyone just accepts that the human race is done and no babies ever again because the government says so. What the actual fuck.

Given how much this book was compared to HANDMAID'S TALE, I was expecting impoverished women to be recruited as wombs for the rich while the surviving cis men are milked for sperm. This is... apparently not the case??? Furthermore, we have a zillion frozen embryos in storage. We have embryos whose gender we know, if you're that concerned about not birthing boys who will die (unless you take their prostate out). It's- none of this makes any sense.

Film Corner: Kill Bill 1

Kill Bill: Volume 1

[Content Note: Rape, Racism, Gore]

(Kissmate) There's a tradition where @AnaMardoll watches the "Kill Bill" movies (2003-04), just to remember how bad a director Quentin Tarantino really is. Now it's my turn! I know about maybe one scene in Volume 1. I remember these movies advertising, but nothing else after that. I haven't seen any Tarantino directed movies, but I did see "Sin City" and "From Dusk Til Dawn" which he helped write. I'll give my ratings to each individual Kill Bill movie, then to both together. This one is gonna be a helluva ride, so let's go!

Oh good, the first thing we see is a quote about revenge while a woman is covered in blood and sweat. Oh, Uma Thurman, you deserved better. "I bet I could fry an egg on your head right now if I wanted to." Was that meant to be intimidating? That was silly! Looks like Bill is wiping up blood from her, but it's so hard to tell since all we see is Uma's face up close and beaten to hell. "Bill, it's your baby-" GUNSHOT AND CUT TO TITLE. OH OK JUST DO THAT I GUESS. DON'T GIVE ANYTHING TO THE VIEWER JUST YET.

Credits to "Bang, Bang" by Nancy Sinatra. "CHAPTER ONE (2)"??? Pasadena, CA. The Bells, residence. Uma walks up, rings the bell, and is greeted by Fox. Suddenly SIRENS AND RED FLASHES TO FOX STANDING OVER UMA'S PREGNANT BODY READY TO STRIKE HER DOWN. FIGHT!! Already, I feel like I'm not given any chance to breathe or enjoy the story. It's "THINGS ARE HAPPENING SO ENJOY THEM" and I'm not ok with being constantly shoved into a fast-flashing light-up screen.

Uma and Fox fight with no music, save the shattering of glass and the occasional "come on, bitch" from Fox. A bus rolls by and Fox's child walks in and starts asking questions. Uma tries to introduce herself and the name is bleeped out. Why? Is it a bad word? Fox's child (Nikki) says she's 4. I immediately call BS as Nikki looks 8-10 and got off a school bus alone. 4-year-olds don't even go to school. In fact, the actress was 8 years old! What the fuck, who made this choice?! Why am I pissed about a blatant lie???

Fox tells Nikki to wait upstairs, then offers coffee to Uma. And the dialogue begins. It's so BAD! No one talks like this. It's full of preteen-level cussing and crudity. I feel *numb* for having heard it. All I know is that these two women hate each other. Uma tells Fox that she plans on killing Fox and her family to "get even". Fox plans a fight date, then pulls out "Kaboom" cereal for Nikki. Uma mentions Fox being the best with an edged weapon. "Fuck you, bitch" is the response. GUN IN THE CEREAL BOX! Fox fires! Shot goes wide, Uma kicks the mug to distract, and throws a knife from her belt into Fox's chest! Nikki saw everything, but Uma reassures her.

"I didn't mean to do this in front of you... I'm sorry. But your mother had it coming." I HATE THIS WRITING!!! Uma tells Nikki to fight her if she grows up and still feels "raw about it". Uma gets in the truck and crosses off name #2. (Oh, like at the title card.) Name #1 is already crossed off. When did that happen? Are we time-jumping? ….A-Are we time jumping? Japanese is being said. Something about how a warrior must do everything (including getting rid of emotions) to vanquish every enemy (even if it's God or Buddha). That... is a very White Man thing. Shinto, Buddhism, and Bushido do NOT agree with this!

Uma rides a Pussy Wagon? Is it a reclaim of the word? I doubt. CHAPTER TWO. El Paso, TX. Uma dressed as a bride lies in a crime scene. A sheriff with a ton of aviator glasses drives in. Nine deaths with a ton of bullet casings. Sheriff says it was the work of professionals because the "colors are all in the line" with a steady hand. What? Then he's creepily mentioning how pretty the bride is. Ew, dude, be professional yourself! Then he calls her a cocksucker!! WHAT THE FUCK?!

I'm just going to make a tweet about the dialogue or I'm here all night. It's SO painful! Every line is either crude, creepy, racist, sexist, childishly-written, or just plain bad. And it wouldn't be terrible if it wasn't so damn PROUD of how ""adult"" it sounds! Turns out Uma is alive! She wakes in a hospital bed.

A woman with an eyepatch walks in and her clothing looks like it's outlined like those "cartoon 3D backpacks". The other nurses aren't dressed like that. Oh, but she dresses like the other nurses now! With- omg- She looks REDICULOUS! An eye patch with the Red Cross on it and one of those little white cotton hats! She looks like she's about to perform a strip tease to "Doctor, Doctor", not commit murder! I'm laughing at how silly this looks! So the nurse, or Elle Driver, walks with a needle full of poison to Uma. A call from Bill interrupts the act. He refuses to Uma in her sleep because it would lower them (or dishonor them, maybe?). Miss Driver isn't happy about that, but leaves all the same.

FOUR YEARS LATER. A mosquito wakes Uma and she gets some violent flashbacks to the moment she was shot. After mourning the loss of her child (don't know what happened to it), she mentions "four years". How does she know how long she's been out??? [CW: Rape] Two men walk in (trucker and nurse) and start talking. The nurse is basically running a HORRIBLE side-business of coma patients getting raped for a price. It took me a long time to say that without puking. That should explain my thoughts.

[CW: Infertility and Rape] Oh, and the nurse says the trucker can cum inside her all he wants because "her plumbing doesn't work". Can't hit her or leave marks, but leaving behind physical evidence because she's infertile is totally cool! EAT SHIT AND DIE. Can we also talk about how she had to lay there mourning her life and baby while listening to someone sell her body like he's done it a million times? Because that also happened. And he probably has in the last four years. THIS IS SICK AND WRONG AND BAD. This is handled like a shock value torture scene rather than the serious subject it is. This doesn't belong in an over-the-top action B-list movie, it belongs in serious-toned movies!

Moving on! Uma falls out of bed, her legs not working yet. She hamstrings him and bashes his head in the door. She steals the "Pussy Wagon" keys, scrubs, and a wheelchair and goes to the Pussy Wagon. I don't think this was to reclaim the word anymore. The main heroine (known only by her relation to a man) is forced to struggle into a misogynistic and sexist vehicle in order to survive and exact revenge against those who tried to kill her. This is a horrible metaphor and I am already dreading the rest of this.

Now Uma wiggles her toes to get out of coma atrophy. She waxes poetic about how revenge going in one's favor is proof that one is doing god's will. She remembers that The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad attacked her, so she's going to kill them first. I know I'm white, but you're not supposed to pronounce both i's in the name Ishii, correct? O-Ren I-Shi vs. O-Ren I-Shi-I. That... That sounds like anyone could've researched, found that flaw, and edited it easily enough. So what the fuck?

They show O-Ren's backstory in artsy anime form. Her mother and father were killed in front of her at the age of 9 by Yakuza. This feels not only cliché and arrogant, but racist. Appropriation of animation style, inaccurate Yakuza depiction, and "Dragon Lady". [CW: Pedophilia] "FORTUNATELY FOR HER, THE BOSS WAS A PEDOPHILE." Just fucking punch me in the throat already. While fucking the Yakuza boss at age 11, she kills him with a sword. Then becomes a top assassin by age 20. Then attacks Uma.

Uma gets on a plane and goes to Okinawa. CHAPTER FOUR. She walks into a Japanese bar where the owner talks to her and teaches her some Japanese. He then bickers on and off with a seemingly lazy worker. This is a funny scene. "How is it ruined?" I say with a sigh. Uma mentions she's looking for Hattori Hanzo's steel to get rid of vermin. His whole demeanor changes and he's suddenly taking her more seriously. So she faked not knowing Japanese the whole time because... why? As a gotcha? It wasn't very good, nor subtle.

Wait. Needless Japanese comedy routine, Fascination with Katana and similar swords, Obsession with Japanese media, Inaccurate but Constant push of East Asian morals and teachings... IS QUENTIN TARATINO A WEABOO?!

Hanzo says he doesn't make swords anymore, but she pushes for him to give her one because Hanzo taught Bill (fighting lessons, I'm guessing?). Uma's character feels like a Karen getting a manager (or BEING a manager) to fire the people who attacked her from LIFE. Hanzo agrees to make her one, even though he's done making killing weapons. Because this trope isn't overdone to shit. Wow, they got actual Japanese actors in this. I feel sorry for the director fetishizing their culture so openly in front of them.

CHAPTER FIVE. There's a female lawyer named Sophie Fatale. And a 17-year-old Japanese schoolgirls named Gogo who kills perverts. And some guy named Johnny Mo, nothing else about him. All of them work for O-Ren. A Yakuza boss mentions her mixed blood, and she kills him in a very anime-esque way. Ever since I realized I'm watching a Weaboo movie, I've been SUPER uneasy. There's nothing wrong with appreciating other cultures. Never fetishize it. Realize it's not YOURS.

[CW: Racism] There's a LOT of Japanese culture and media appropriation here, to the point I have to not keep pointing out every little thing. This is SUPER racist to Japanese people and insulting to the culture. I'm super angry about it, but I have to move on. O-Ren tells them all to go fuck themselves if they hate her heritage. Cool. Uma goes to Tokyo and- Is that a Jazz version of "Bee Chasing the Czar"? What the fuck??? And Uma has a sword ON THE PLANE WITH HER?! POST 9/11?! This is ridiculous and surreal!!!

If there's ONE GOOD THING about this movie... the soundtrack is awesome. Uma tracks O-Ren to a club. She finds the lawyer in the bathroom and gets the sirens again. Maybe something cool will finally happen? Uma cuts off Fatale's arm and I can finally talk about the Tarantino Squirts! Blood loves to pour forth from a wound like a fire hydrant in Tarantino films. And I feel it's a part of his weaboo side. Old ultra-violence anime titles LOVED to have blood like this. The problem is: media style makes all the difference. Blood gushing out in animation gives it expression and a feeling of quantity and panic. In live-action, it's unnecessary. The unneeded blood amount here just makes it look silly and over-the-top. And having it be over-the-top is FINE, if your WHOLE MOVIE can be silly and over-the-top. But again, Kill Bill is trying to take this and be PROUD of how SMART it sounds while also showing off its anime figurines in its filthy, odd-smelling room. So no points!

The club clears and Uma fights the Yakuza under O-Ren. Soon, it's just O-Ren and Gogo. Gogo fights Uma with a spike-ball-and-chain.
If this was JUST an action movie, it wouldn't be too bad. The fight scenes are actually decent! But it's NOT and it SUFFERS. Gogo dies in a very BS way (really, THAT killed her?!) and now it's just Uma and O-Ren. After a REALLY SILLY Trix Rabbit line, the rest of the Yakuza storm in and... a boring fight scene happens. I just praised the fight scenes! Why is it failing to deliver?! I think the movie went black-and-white to lessen the gore but it comes off as artistically pompous. We're not allowed to take in anything because of all the fast cuts and editing. If we were allowed to sit back a bit and just soak it in, it'd be FUN!! Instead.

After a LONG FIGHT SCENE where NOTHING happens of consequence (they got a lot of trailer-shots here), Uma makes her way to O-Ren. They go back and forth in a mix of Japanese and English. And I have to take back my music like! Bad music choice! Latino mix? Here? Also, there's no tension here. WE KNOW UMA WINS. She kills Fox after this! Dragging this out is BORING, not COOL. Oh, and gore happens. Like, "see O-Ren's brain" gore. And with that, O-Ren is dead.

Uma throws Fatale at a hospital after torturing her for information. Bill finds Fatale and knows what Uma knows. Because Uma wants him to know that she plans on killing them all. That's a bad plan, because now they can all prepare for your attacks! DUH! We see Uma making the Death List and hear Bill ask Fatale "Does she know her daughter is still alive?" Then Credits! SWEET BLESSED CREDITS! This movie is SHIT! I feel like I lost a part of myself for having watched it.

0/10 NEVER AGAIN! Every time it was good, it RUINED! AND IT WASN'T GOOD OFTEN!

But there's still Volume 2. I shall tackle it tomorrow. I need a LONG SLEEP after that marathon of BAD.

Afterland: Chapters 1-5

[Content Note: Transphobia, Child Sexual Abuse (CSA), Racism]

Kissmate is down for us to read Afterland and report on the handling of gender therein. My plan is to read one chapter a day unless my willpower breaks and I either have to quit or end up maranthoning the entire book just to get it over with. Why are we reading something we expect not to like and which may cause us pain? I don't want to upset anyone who likes the book and/or the author, but this sort of transphobic premise keeps being mishandled and we need to talk about it.

AFTERLAND. Chapter 1.

"Cole: Naming Rights"

Cole is the mother in our apocalypse scenario. She has blood on her shirt and is anxiously checking over her son, Miles, who has unspecified drugs in his system. Cole, a white woman, is worried about Miles being taken away from her by the government. "She’ll be arrested. Miles will be taken away. In America, they steal kids from their parents. This was true even before all this."

Cole is described based on her reflection in a mirror. "She looks old. Worse, she looks scared. Cole doesn’t want him to see that. Maybe that’s what superheroes are concealing behind the masks: not their secret identities, but the fact that they’re scared shitless." They're hiding out in a "looted gas station store". I'm a little surprised because I thought this was a relatively orderly apocalypse. Apparently not, okay.

Open Thread: Pony


This is not the first time Elliot here has appeared in an open thread.  I was so focused on making sure that the colors came out right that I completely missed his halter hanging off of him.  Apparently he doesn't like having it on his nose.  (I wouldn't either.)

Picture taken this morning.

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We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  This is the only current one:
   ● Birds of Prey

You do not need a special open thread to discuss a movie.  Provided you encipher any spoilers (the standard method is by summoning Cthulhu) discussion of movies is quite welcome in the regular open threads.

The special threads are for cases where movie-talk might threaten to drown out other discussion, is expected to take place over multiple weeks, or both.  If you believe a given movie calls for one, simply say so.

-

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!

Afterland: An Announcement

[Content Note: Transphobia]

AFTERLAND. The Announcement.

This book is being described as "a world without men" because...nearly everyone with a prostate dies. *deep breath* So most trans women are dead and...trans men just don't exist, I guess? Because it's a world "without men"? I'm especially hurt because I saw several cis authors praising the book earlier and they're people I thought were trans allies. But I guess we're an afterthought when those folks aren't on Twitter.

I can't get past "cosmetic beard stubble". Prescription testosterone is made from soybeans and yams and plants. Did they get wiped out by the prostate plague??? Folks could be growing their own beards, but instead they're using eyebrow pencils to dot one on?!?!

The problem with these Gender Plague books by cis people isn't that they aren't "inclusive enough" because of social justice! The problem is that their total ignorance about gender issues makes the world-building laughably bad. You can't solve the problem by wiping out trans women via protates or trans men via uteruses and be like "see? I love trans people enough to know they exist!" Like, first of all, don't do that. It's harmful. Second of all, you still need to research this stuff.

August Newsletter (2020)

August is here! I'd say welcome to the summer season but it's been 100 degrees fahrenheit almost every day here for what feels like weeks so the welcome would be remarkably late in coming at this point. Kissmate and I spent the morning trimming the willow tree in the backyard (a lovely monster that never stops growing and threatens to consume us all in its soft, susurrating embrace) and even though it was very early in the day we were still dripping with sweat by the end. It's hot out there and very humid. (At least by my standards.)

Kissmate and I are doing well! My allergic reaction to the surgery sutures is starting to calm down, which means the sutures are starting to dissolve as intended. We still can't lift our arms above our heads and mobility is somewhat limited (this, too, will fade with time) but the pain has become much more manageable for me and is entirely gone for Kissmate. Best of all, we both still love our new look! Dysphoria levels have gone way down and it just feels so amazing to not have breasts anymore. I don't even really remember what it was like to have them. I recall not enjoying the sensation, but it's like a memory of a dream: hazy and faraway and uncertain.

If I have any complaints at all, it's that I still have to sleep more than I would like and it's slowing down progress on all my projects. But that's getting better over time; this last week I stayed up late writing on three different nights and it was wonderful feeling the words flow. I haven't really been up to my old word counts since the 2016 election, and covid has not helped at all, so feeling the urge to write again has been fantastic.

I have some thoughts I want to put before you all about a book I'm planning, but that's another post.

Patreon News

All Patrons: We have some wonderful live-watches of bad movies scheduled for your reading pleasure this month. Suicide Squad, Birds of Prey, Eurovision Song Contest on Netflix (warning: I do not recommend this one if you have triggers around sexual assault), Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, and VelociPastor. Some of these are from Kissmate and some from me; he is really enjoying writing live-watches for you all and loves your comments.

$5+ Patrons: I'm working on another installment in Miriam and Emil's story but have fallen behind. I am almost done with--and hope to post this week--a lovely fanfic about Medusa and a blind trans boy who comes to her island. This one was inspired by the utterly dreadful 2010 Clash of the Titans movie. In other news, I'm working on a sequel to No Man of Woman Born but would like to get your opinions on some things. A post will be going up about that.

Older Links

My Ramblings Deconstructions: Here. A new one is going up soon about Afterland, yet another Gender Plague novel in the vein of Sleeping Beauties.

My YouTube Let's Plays: Here.

My Favorite Tumblr Funnies: Here.

@DivorceKittens: Here.

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Please continue to stay safe out there, and please wear a mask! I am so worried about all of you and have already lost a couple friends to covid. Please take care. I love you.